Bringing the Snow to Huntsville

Hi Alabamians. I bet you’re wondering where the heck that freak snowstorm last week came from.

I was in town! I did not realize I had a stow away winter passenger in my luggage. Sorry about that. I didn’t exactly want the snow to follow me down either.

I train new employees on export compliance. I always do it live and prefer to do it in person if possible so I go to Huntsville headquarters when there are enough new hires to justify making the trip out. It’s also nice to see coworkers in person once in awhile.   It didn’t quite work out the way I wanted because of Snowpocalypse 2015 but it was still a great trip.

I left Monday morning when the car service came to pick me up. The driver made a comment about all the ice on the driveway and I said yeah, judging from your accent I’m guessing you’re not used to this. It turns out he is from Kenya, moved here two years ago.  Runners, you know the question that immediately came to mind when I heard that. You KNOW. So I asked.

I asked him, how is it that so many winners of distance racing are from Kenya? What is your secret? And he answered! Guys, here it is.

Kenyans start running when they’re in grade school. They run to and from school, five miles round trip is not unheard of. And they usually run barefoot.  Five miles barefoot, no big deal. I was totally doing that in elementary school too ;). Running is a way of life over there, from the time they’re tiny little tots. That’s how they win.

We also talked about all the insanity that’s going on in the world today. The day of my trip was when the threat was made against the Mall of America. We talked about that and how nobody should let a terror threat stop them from living their life and going to the mall if they want to.  Who doesn’t like a trip to the food court now and then? I told him I just couldn’t believe it when Sony pulled that movie because of the threat from North Korea.  I had problems remembering the name of the movie so I described it as the movie where they were trying to kill Kim Jong-Un.  Do you know what the driver said then? Guess.

“Do you mean Fifty Shades of Grey?” Hahaha. I don’t know exactly what went down in the Red Room but I’m pretty sure Christian wasn’t killing Kim Jong-Un in there.

So I got to the airport and while I was in line to show my ticket and ID I overheard a senior guy and middle aged guy talking behind me. I figured they were traveling together until I heard the middle aged one tell the other “Dad, make sure you ask the people around you where you’re supposed to go and what you’re supposed to.” And then he said bye to his dad.

I figured I’d make sure the older guy got to where he needed to go so I told him to just stick with me. He was 81 years old and this was his first time flying. He told me the last time he traveled was on a stage coach :). His son flies a lot and used his frequent flier miles to buy his dad a ticket to go to Florida and visit friends.

We made it through the baggage check and talked awhile. He was an interesting guy. He told me he used to be a teacher and when I asked what he taught he said “I taught children.”  He told me in his opinion when people say “I teach math” or “I teach history” they’re placing more importance on the subject they’re teaching than on who they’re teaching.  Anyway, we waited…and waited…and waited for the announcement that the plane was boarding. There were monitors in the seating area to see if the flight was boarding and at ten minutes until departure they still hadn’t displayed the boarding announcement. I told my new friend I was starting to think the monitor was wrong. He had some significant hearing problems but said surely I would have heard a boarding announcement if they were boarding. I finally decided to get up and go to the gate and he said he’d stay behind and fend for himself. Off I went and found they were almost done boarding!  I pictured my new sweet elderly friend getting stranded at the airport and went back to grab him.  When we landed in Atlanta I got off and saw my connection was at the next gate over (when does that happen?!!) so I waited for him to get off the plane and then made sure he knew where he was going.

When I got to Huntsville a co-worker dropped me off at the rental car agency where I got a total space age car. I did not pick it out. They just told me they were giving me a new Chrysler and I said fine. This car was insane. Almost everything was operated by a button or a dial. To start the car you pressed a button, didn’t use keys. To put it in park, reverse, or drive you turned a dial. It was nuts. There is a funny story about figuring out that car I’ll tell you later.

I got to the office mid-afternoon and made rounds saying hi to everyone before getting in a few hours work.  Then I left to go to my parents’ house where I met their brand new puppy. He’s a cocker spaniel named Joey. It has been a rough few years pet-wise and it was nice to see a young animal that will be with us for a very long time.  My parents lost two dogs to old age in the last two years and Kevin and I lost two dogs and a cat in the same time frame.  I was beginning to feel like the Black Widow of animals :(.  All of our animals now are young and it will be a very long time before we go through that experience again.

Tuesday I went into the office. I knew Huntsville would have to shut down even if there was only an inch or two of snow, so I rescheduled my planned Wednesday run with coworkers for that afternoon instead.  Just in case. Holy moly are they fast. One of them stayed with me, our “slow” run is below.  At one point we were doing a 7:09 pace. That is crazy. Let’s appreciate that pace for a minute. I don’t know if it will ever happen again. But there it is. It happened. I was there. Running a 7:09 per mile pace. The other guys took off. I was pretty pumped when I thought us slowpokes had barely beaten the fast ones back to the office until I was told they were running a full 6 miles. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at their records. I’m sure it was something like a sub-zero per mile pace.

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After the run I met my best friend for dinner. I hadn’t seen her in six months and we had a lot to catch up on. A week or so before my visit she had become an ordained minister just to be able marry same sex couples at Wedding Week. Super proud to know someone like her. After dinner she said I really needed to stock up on groceries in case I was stuck at the apartment during the weather event. I said pshhh, weather event. Sure.  All I need is coffee. There shall be no weather event. She convinced me to buy a few things just in case. Then we went to the Chrysler to play with it and figure out how to work things like the radio. I had the radio on but for the life of me could not figure out how to turn up the volume. Because this was a total space age car we must have spent a good ten minutes pressing the touch screen and reading the manual to try to get the volume up. Then she looked down and saw the dial to adjust the volume. Haha. That part of the car was the only thing that was normal.

Wednesday morning I heard snow/sleet was supposed to start at 9 am but decided to go into the office anyway to make sure I said goodbye in person to people just in case I couldn’t get out Thursday.  It turns out very few people decided to brave the elements that morning. I said goodbye to the few people I saw and then headed out. The storm was delayed, and delayed, and delayed. Finally it rolled in around 2 pm I think. I was glad I was staying at the corporate apartment instead of a hotel room because it was a much better place to ride things out.  Some of the stuff my coworkers had left in the apartment kitchen started to look pretty good. I am sorry coworkers. I will buy you more Gatorade and Pretzel Chips. I did what I had to do to survive. Twenty four hours trapped is too long a time to expect me not to break into your stash.

Thursday the office building was closed for non-essential workers though people who could work remotely did. Huntsville got around 8 inches Wednesday afternoon through Wednesday night and a bunch of major streets were closed the next morning because of ice. By Thursday afternoon I saw the snow was melting in the parking lot and in late afternoon decided I am now a New Yawker and should be able to handle a little snow and ice so out I went to visit my parents one more time before I had to leave the next morning. I had the streets all to myself! Even University Drive, which is a major street in Huntsville, was practically empty.  It wasn’t too bad, just a little slushy.

Early the next morning I left for home and good times were had with the driver who picked me up. It was really really really cold here. But he told me he was two minutes away so I stood outside. One of the police officers saw me and said “Sweethawt, you’re going to make yourself sick in this cold. Wait inside.” Silly me I waited ten more minutes. The driver called again and said he didn’t see me. I described my jacket and suitcase and eventually we found each other. The reason he did not see me was he thought I was a man. Yeah. He told me I sounded like a man on the phone and kept asking “You made the calls? There isn’t a man with you?” And he looked around like he was expecting a dude to show up.  Just a thought, if you make a mistake like that acting incredulous really just makes it worse. Just say sorry and move on. It was an awkward ride back. For the record, I do not sound like a man.

I got back and found Kevin had left work early to meet me at the house. It was a nice surprise because he was gone the week before I left for Huntsville so we’d barely seen each other in the last two weeks.  While I was gone we had the guest room floor ripped up to figure out why it was sagging. Put a marble on the floor and it would probably have rolled to the middle. Our house is 95 years old and it turns out the beams had just sagged from old age.  If you wanted to know what 95 year old house bones look like a picture is below. That’s piping for gas lights you see. The real deal from days of yore.



It was a definite bonus that we were able to schedule that noisy dusty work to happen while I was away.

As I type this we’re expecting another winter storm in NY. But I’m ready this time. I’ve built a snowman to help me shovel snow. His name is Arnold and he works out. He is pictured pumping some iron below.



 UPDATE: My mom reminded me that I ought to share the mattress sledding adventure.

My parents’ house is on top of a steep hill. Even with front wheel drive I didn’t trust my car to make it that day. A picture of their driveway from a past winter is below. My mom always said that between that driveway and living off of Mountain Brook (affectionately nicknamed Suicide Hill) my brother and I grew up like nanny goats climbing all those hills.



So I parked at the bottom and walked up. It’s a lot easier to walk up without slipping than it is to walk down without slipping.  I wasn’t totally sure how I was going to get back down but I knew it wouldn’t be pretty no matter how I did it. My brother suggested sliding down on a trash can lid but I pictured myself continuing to slide and then going downhill into the woods opposite the driveway.  Then he said “Well, I have an old crib mattress. We could slide down on that.”  I figured if it came down to it at least the mattress would provide some cushion if we crashed so to the top of the driveway the crib mattress went. And down we slid.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a neighbor’s car drive past and then slow down. Just taking it all in. We made it safely down and the crib mattress was stored away for transportation next year.












  1. Michelle, how come no comments on your trip down the driveway with your brother on a crib mattress. This was truly one of the funniest things I have ever seen. As always, love your blog

      1. One of your neighbors saw that by the way. They drove in as we were sliding down. I’m pretty sure out of the corner of my eye I saw them slow down. I can only imagine what they were thinking.

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