After growing up in northern Ohio and living on the East Coast for many years, we were accustomed to winter weather. But snow, ice and single digit temps in Texas? In the seven years we've been here, there have only been a few flakes of snow that didn't even stick to the ground.
So this week's severe weather, chronicled extensively in the national news, was a shock to the system. Texas is simply not equipped to handle it. Electric and gas power and water systems failed, leaving many people in real misery with burst pipes and no heat. We were fortunate in that our own power outage lasted just six hours. My daughters were not that lucky. By Monday afternoon, Hannah showed up with all three grandchildren in tow because electric, gas and water were all out at her house and everyone was cold. With the gas fireplace running, it was fairly comfortable in the family room. Alison and Matt came, too, because they had the same problems. Soon our small home was awash in winter coats, gloves and boots.
The kids actually did a pretty good job of entertaining themselves with electronics, as well as drawing and painting at the kitchen table. They helped me complete the 1,000-piece puzzle I'd been working on and we played Uno and , Scrabble. The grandchildren, who had not seen snow here before, were unfazed by the frigid temperatures and made short forays into the back yard to throw snow at each other, shouting the whole time.
The first morning, I made scones, which quickly disappeared. Sandwiches for everyone at lunch and beef stew with carrots and potatoes for dinner. Alison brought two cakes from Whole Foods. The next morning, it was pancakes and fruit. Hannah brought over the entire contents of her refrigerator and bags of snacks from Target, so there was plenty of food to go around. It was fun to have everyone here, although quite chaotic at times. The second night, Matt brought their two cats over to enjoy the warmth of the laundry room. Their elderly American Eskimo had already taken up residence with Toby, who largely ignored him. Hannah, who has a team of 70 reporting to her, took over my office and continued to work. When Whole Foods reopened, Alison reported that it was absolutely crazy there.
It was absolutely eerie to go anywhere. A quiet had descended on the streets and few lights were on. People here do not own snow shovels and the cities have no plows. Almost everything was closed. At night, we watched food shows on TV and just hung out together. It was actually great fun to have almost everyone here--Reagan stayed home with their dog, Luke. Our pool has a thick layer of ice and we don't know yet whether there has been damage to the pump.
By today, the snow-packed streets and parking lots were beginning to clear. The main roads are fairly dry and temps will rise into the high 50s and 60s in the coming week. The trees are beginning to bud and flocks of robins are everywhere. Now that's more like a Texas winter!
Today I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. On an unoccupied sixth floor of a health system office building, I joined others in the 1b group, snaking around in a socially-distanced line. After a temperature check, I was called to a numbered table to fill out some paperwork, then to another table to have someone enter my information in the computer. I wound through a hallway to reach the nurse, who asked me a couple questions and then administered the vaccine. Joining many others, I took a chair and waited for 15 minutes to see if a reaction might occur. A paramedic and crash cart stood by, just in case. The hundreds of people I observed were either my age or older or had a disability. I was in and out in less than a half hour--very efficient indeed. Vaccine #2 will happen in two weeks.
Andy and I registered with Dallas County, Baylor Scott & White Healthcare and a local non-profit organization, figuring one of them had to hit. Strangely, I heard from BSWH, but Andy didn't, even though his underlying health conditions are more serious. I was told that a big batch of vaccine was on its way, so perhaps he'll hear soon.
Covid-19 hit too close for comfort a few weeks ago. My eldest daughter, Alison and Hannah's two kids all tested positive. Fortunately, Alison had only mild symptoms but had to stay home from work for two weeks per company policy. Lena and Noah did remote learning for the same time period, and because Booker had been exposed to his mom, he also stayed home.
Meanwhile, daily life continues to be incredibly boring. We take care of the house, watch movies, cook and read. I'm midway through a 1,000 piece puzzle of Gustav Klimt's Woman in Gold. Toby and I get out for a walk a couple times a day and I use the recumbent bike several times a week. On the weekend, we generally get together for a family meal at Hannah's, which is always nice. Once in a great while we go out for a meal but keep our distance from others. The only good news in this scenario is that we're not spending much money on eating out or entertainment!
The federal government and other organizations will be making a big push in the coming weeks to get as many Americans as possible vaccinated. This we must do to bring down the rate of infection and tragic death toll. In the meantime, wear your mask, keep your distance, wash your hands and get the vaccine as soon as you can. Our country (and the economy) needs you to do your part.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.