Sunday, January 22, 2012

When the White Stuff hits the fan...

Snow'pocalypse. Snow'mageddon. Snow'locaust. Catast'snow'phe... There has been a lot of talking about the weather this week in the Seattle Metro area. When snow comes, Seattleites can be un peu dramatiques. You expect this in Atlanta, GA where I once was a college student, but not so much in the great Pacific Northwest.

Truth be told, Seattle does not do snow. We get a couple of inches now and then; life stops; kids get out in the street and play; the snow melts; it turns to slush; there is major flooding ; then life returns to normal... usually rain

Snow in Seattle
(D. Horsey - Seattle P.I.)

Still, there is no telling what a Seattle winter will bring. Things can go downhill quickly around here. Winter 2006: A major wind storm causes massive power outages. It lasts four days in our area; even longer in other parts of the county. Neighbors flee the boonies to stay in local hotels. A giant tree almost crashes our back deck and part of the house. Le Husband invests in a generator and a chain saw. Oh, and my city-loving parents are visiting. They can't  believe their eyes. Good news for me: no snow in the yard that winter.

Wind: 1
French Girl: 0

The Yellow Dog thinks: "Do I get to pee on that giant bush too?"

December 2008. My parents are coaxed into returning for the Holidays. This time, a massive snow storm lands in the neighborhood. We lose power again. We get stuck at home and can't drive down the hill for a few days. My parents have not been back since. I can't say I blame them.

Inches or centimeters: It's a heck of a lotta snow!

Dad thinks: "Get me on that early Air France flight back to Paris!"
Mom thinks: "It's so pretty!" (because that's who she is.)

Dad had a point. 

Fast forward to this week, January 2012. I came back from lovely Portland on Sunday evening, and the view from my office window at home looked like this:

By Thursday afternoon, the view had turned into this, and the snow was still coming down...

Les Boys, who had been snowmobiling all weekend with friends, eased into it with no problem. On Martin Luther King day, it was obvious we would get to admire the White Stuff a bit longer than expected. Of course, the children spent the day outside doing a lot of this...

By 4:00pm, the school district had called it. There would be no school on Tuesday, and possibly on Wednesday due to a massive snowstorm headed our way. It turns out the ubiquitous yellow buses stayed away from the area the whole week. 

(not mine)

After all, nobody wanted to see this...

No doubt remembering the winter of 2008, the whole neighborhood switched into crisis mode. First things first, people rushed to the grocery store and the gas station, filled their tanks and their trunks with supplies. I suspect the Coffee aisle chez Costco looked a bit like this (God forbid locals should be stuck at home for days on end with no coffee!)

Snow'mageddon is on its way!

In our neighborhood, things happened pretty much as they always do. Dad went to work - slowly because of icy roads - and entrusted Mom to keep the fort. Mom understood and was not mad at Dad. Mom knew that Dad would have much rather stayed at home. After all, not being able to play in the snow with the kids was enough punishment for him. 

Still, Mom was no dummy, and as soon as the [dreaded] phone call arrived from the school district, Mom knew what to expect. Mom's plans for the week had just been thrown through the window. Mom would have to keep her very lively children busy, healthy and happy while dealing with potentially hazardous weather conditions. Still, work had to be done, on the computer, or around the house. 

Not to worry. Mom could handle it all. 

Organization was key. Special orders were placed and supplies secured. 

Or, at the very least...

Madame M.'s best friend

The rules of the game were clearly explained to the children, who rushed outside as soon as they fell out of bed and came back wet, ravenous and exhausted after a few hours. 

Mom kept smiling and relied heavily on her favorite support system: her girlfriends.

Some moms kindly fed the neighborhood children, cooking American delicacies such as Kraft Mac'n'Cheese, hot dogs and chocolate chip cookies. 

Other Moms - who were not as gifted - purchased cookies and other supplies. 

Still, Mom needed a chance to breathe and relax. At night, silhouettes were seen walking down our steep hill, holding flashlights and giggling, on their way to the nearby brewery. 

This was all done anonymously, of course, for what would the neighbors think?

Everyone was happy, fully enjoying this Winter Wonderland:

The children, who had so much fun they forgot to whine [most of the time...]

Neighborhood dogs, old and young...

Dads, who came home in the evening and sampled delicious home-cooked meals (the lucky ones even got a chance to sneak outside and play in the snow, too.)

This could be the end of our tongue-in-cheek story, but that means I would have to leave out severe power outages resulting in over 200,000 homes without power in neighboring counties; thousands of fallen trees; frozen pipes; roads closed to traffic; the local governor declaring a State of Emergency. And I am pretty sure some Seattleites were disappointed the Washington National Guard was NOT allowed to deliver free lattes!

I would also have to leave out serious good times with the "Usual Suspects" (because nothing brings people together like a snow storm, other than a half-yearly sale at Nordstrom's.) 

Pooling resources for an improvised Raclette party

It was never boring, c'est certain. Truth be told, by Thursday afternoon, many had had enough in the 'hood. Mainly grown-ups, and some kids too. On the other hand, Junior could not be talked into spending time indoors. He and his buddies were out there for hours every single day, determined to make the most of every second. 

I knew Junior had a point, and the Yellow Dog and I kept walking, even in the blizzard...

At times, outdoorsy friends joined us...

We walked along the deserted streets, eerily quiet in the cold winter air, focusing on the sound of our footsteps (paw steps) in the snow.

There were frequent reminders we live deep in the heart of the Pacific Northwest... 

We were aware wildlife lurked at ever corner. Hiding in the forest. Invisible. Watching us.

 We passed strange creatures on the side of the road...

Elephant Man? 


Later, we saw signs of civilization...

And finally, some sun, showing the way home.

A bientôt.


We all survived. As planned, the rain returned on Friday and by Saturday morning, it had all turned to mush. This created an even bigger mess, but at least the children will be returning to school tomorrow.

Laughter helps chase away winter blues. Here is a fun video of Seattleites attempting to drive in the snow. The clip has gone viral online this week, and has already been featured on several blogs. I had to show it to you. Enjoy!


  1. Whew! I'm breathless just reading about all this activity.

    (Word verification was bupgants. I thought it was bugpants at first.)

  2. Dearest Véronique,

    Wow, just could finish reading this book before hopping into my bed... what a winter wonder land but indeed, I could here your Dad think out loud.
    It always happens when we don't need or want such weather.
    Love to you,


  3. C'est facile de se moquer! Mais quand on n'a pas l'habitude.. Et justement, ce qui m'etonne, c'est que ça vous arrive quand même souvent d'avoir de la neige, non?Donc, les gens devraient savoir reagir?parce que, quand il neige ici(à peu pres tous les dix ans), que nous on panique, ça peut se comprendre, mais vous?!
    J'adore les vieilles pubs et images utilisées pour illustrer ton propos, et par ailleurs, je trouve ces paysages SUPER BEAUX!(sachant que JAMAIS je n'ai eu de ma vie à affronter une tempête de neige, je DEVINE que le quotidien ne doit pas être evident, mais là, je ne vois que la beauté de la chose! :o)
    Le bon côté de la chose , c'est que tu nous enchantes et arrives même à nous faire sourire, alors, tout va bien!
    Bonne semaine!

  4. v- i was laughing out loud more than once with this are funny!!!- we were touched by a small bit of snow/ice saturday into sunday - and suppose to go in the 60's today making all that white stuff black-grey slush-how many days to spring-i adore the manner in which you captioned the retro pictures with your text-my favorite is the red coffee-sleep when you're dead. FINALLY (since you did not mention it)SO SO HAPPY to see you on FACEBOOK(my sister has commented a few times )-another great outlet for talent like yours. i would follow but i am not on facebook! as always a pleasure reading have a wonderful week dear v recovering and catching up from snowmageddon-your faithful reader -g

  5. Unbelievable post Veronique, so many beautiful winter images, love yellow dog taking you for a walk, great shot and also the yellow school buses fabulous perspective in that shot. I love the way you wove your story around the vintage cards and the video at the end did make me laugh, who would've thought 2 inches of snow would cause so much trouble for all those four wheel drives oh la!Excellent.

  6. I've been thinking about you Veronique, as I've been hearing about the snow pounding the Northwest recently. Sounds like you made the most of it! We've had hardly any snow here, although we did get about 2 or so inches this past weekend. Nothing like the past few years in Philadelphia! Enjoy your week, and hopefully you'll get a reprieve from all the winter weather!

  7. merci de m'avoir fait bien rire. bon, tu nous envoies un peu de neige (juste de quoi effondrer le toit du collège, précise ma fille), il fait doux et gris, on se croirait à seattle. xxx, w.

  8. Beautiful snowy pictures - I do love snow and walking in it but I'm not as enthusiastic about driving in it even though I invested in winter tyres after getting stuck last year
    (that video made me smile - me last year!!) However, since my purchase we seem to be having a mild winter here in the UK!!! Typical now that I'm prepared.

  9. Holy merde that's a lot of snow! Excuse my franglais. Your stories are like a roller coaster- total entertaining. I have a friend in Seattle and she just got her power up...but she seemed more scared than anything else. Looks like you made the best of it! =) Y'all stay warm and safe Veronique .;)

  10. What a colorful, charming, engrossing story told with such style and verve! Your parents are adorable! (kids too!) Love the vintage pix and vid at the end. Been there, done that. We had an absolutely fierce wind/rain storm last night. Surrounded with immense trees--that come crashing down. Scary.

    I love that you do one long post a week. Am going to switch to that mode eventually.

    Great week, French Girl! ;)

  11. je viens de te décerner un award pour te remercier de la qualité de ton blog. je t'embrasse, winter.

  12. Belles photos! Chez nous en France il n'a presque pas neigé cette année..

  13. It was really beautiful, wasn't it?! And fun!! I love that here in Seattle, the snow stays no more than a week, just long enough to enjoy it before we tire of it...quite the novelty for us. I'm enjoying the sun immensely today though...and the lack of either rain OR snow...this too is beautiful!
    xo J~

  14. Oh my! What an experience! But, as would be expected, you handled it with grace and good humor! No surprise there. :) And I have to say that from a very outside view, it really was gorgeous! So glad that you had no major dustups!

  15. Who said Seattle doesn't do snow??!! :)

  16. Very funny blog and the video too! You captured how the Northwest handles snow. Beautiful photos as always. I love your sense of humor and good cheer. The sun is out and it's great!

  17. -- Lee I -- Moi aussi! ;-)
    -- Mariette -- I must admit it was easier this time around because I did not have to entertain my poor parents while being stuck at home for days on end!
    -- Malyss -- Oui, c'est bizarre. En plus, les pistes de ski sont à moins de deux heures et la plupart des autochtones adorent la neige. Va comprendre, Charles...
    -- g-- Merci, friend. I am glad winter has spared your neck of the woods so far. Your lovely sister did, indeed, find me on FB. I am glad she introduced herself. You should consider joining too ;-)
    -- PerthDailyPhoto -- Thank you. I can't take credit for the school bus shot, but I am glad you enjoyed all the vintage postcards. I knew I had something with them when I found them ;-) I agree that with the number of 4x4 seen around the area, people should be more accustomed to driving in the snow... A Seattle paradox, perhaps? ;-)

    == Veronique ==

  18. -- Katelyn -- Thank you! Glad your winter has been relatively mild so far.
    -- Winterludes -- Je t'en prie ;-) La neige est partie par la poste aujourd'hui. Dis à ta fille de surveiller la boîte aux lettres...
    -- Miss b -- I would hang on to those snow tires, just in case! ;-)
    -- Sandy -- Holy merde indeed. Thank you for the encouraging words! Enjoy your blues skies!
    -- French Heart -- Thank you for the comment. Glad you survived your local version of our storm. Sheesh. When is spring returning?

    == Veronique ==

  19. -- Winterludes -- C'est très gentil, merci. La saison des Oscars approche. Parfait timing!
    -- Gwendoline -- Merci de ta visite. Pas de neige en France? C'est très bien comme ça!
    -- 24 Corners -- Snow is a lot more fun when you can drive around AND keep power. My neighbors (who lost power several days ago and have run generators since) do not find it so great anymore. I agree, the sun was nice today.
    -- Heather -- We endured. What choice did we have? Better to smile about it (when possible.)
    -- DeeBee L -- Seattle tourist brochures, that's who. AND THEY LIE!!!
    -- Cherie -- Merci beaucoup pour ton soutien. Mieux vaut en rire, comme disent les Français!

    = Veronique =

  20. What a great story and my favorite part was the chapter on the improvised Raclette party - woohoo! As long as you do not run out of the "mommy juice," no one will get hurt. If we have snow where I live it is worse than Atlanta, but we can really do up a hurricane. Our grocery shelves look just like your photos before a tropical storm can get within 1000 miles of the Gulf of Mexico.

    So glad that you had a great time in Portland and got home before the snowstorm!


    1. Merci Genie. I hope you are surviving the heavy winds headed your way. Just heard on the news. Welcome back. I hope France was everything you expected once again, and more. Veronique

  21. Hi Vero ! Or should we dub you the snow bunny ? What is French for snow bunny I wonder... le lapin enneigé ? Bref... looks like everyone, Moms, Kids, Dogs, cars had tons of fun. I like the music the snow driving video was set to. Paris wasn't much better last year when it snowed three times before Christmas. This year no snow yet. But winter is not over yet either... Looks like some snow tires would be a good idea for some of those cars. And chains... ah the pleasure of putting on chains on a wet snowy road with poor light... few things will freeze your fingers faster, even with gloves... Maybe it's time to take up cross-country skiing ?

    1. Owen, I have no idea what the French is for "Snow Bunny!" ;-) Be happy you have not seen snow in Paris yet. We both know what a mess that turns into. I was actually in Paris when it happened last winter. We were renting an apartment downtown and still managed to go everywhere, even on foot or with the subway. The suburbs (where the family lives) were a different story though. Dang 'burbs. Fichue banlieue. Thank you for the suggestion about cross-country skiing. I have been able to manage just fine with my snowshoes so far though ;-) V.

  22. Snow days are some of my favorite memories of childhood!
    We haven't had much snow in my corner of Provence this winter, but the last two winters we did, and we'd have snow days here, because it's far too dangerous to tackle the windy mountain roads. And I've found that snow days here inevitably turn into an excuse for a raclette or fondue :-)

    1. As long as there is Raclette or Fondue (and the right wine,) then I am ok with a little bit of snow... ;-)

  23. How strange that Seattle should be bombarded with snow and KC received like two inches all winter! What a bizarre winter we've had! Not that I'm going to complain hahaha. You can keep all our snow! ;)

    Seriously though, these photos of the snow are beautiful. I never appreciate snow unless I'm looking at photos and then I kind of miss it. But not enough where I actually want to drive in it. Ha!

    1. Thank you Jenny. Ooops. Sorry. Just shipped snow back to you. Did you get it? ;-)

  24. Snowpocalypse. Snowmageddon. There are so many words for it. Still ... I LOVE SNOW.
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

    1. Good for you. Many people love snow. I must be strange...

  25. I heard about your snow. It sounds like your people over there handle it just like in Atlanta! Your snow pictures are really pretty and I was surprised at how many cute vintage illustrations you found – they were très à propos!

    1. Vagabonde-- Thank you for stopping by. You are not kidding. We are not doing much better than Atlanta (and I remember Atlanta in the snow also! ;-) Those vintage postcards are a lot of fun. I think I will use them again. A bientôt.

  26. Your snow pictures are lovely. We are slightly better prepared for snow here in Spokane, but really - I hate the stuff, too. Hope it's clearing up for you over there.

    1. Welcome Tera, and thank you for your comment. The white stuff turned into grey stuff, predictably, and left, leaving behind rain and cold. I am starting to miss it, actually ;-)

  27. Je me demande bien quelle année, la neige se décidera à arriver sur la Côte d'Azur!...
    Bonne journée, Véronique!

    1. Jamais, si tu as de la chance, Richard. Je suis sure qu'Antibes est bien plus jolie au soleil! Bon weekend!

  28. Your pictures are stunning!!! It looked like a fun snowed in week for you guys. I can survive as long as I have coffee, wine and fire wood..maybe some food too. I tend to bake a lot when the storm hits. Our power tends to go out which isn't fun but we just purchased a generator..I doubt we'll get any storms now. :)

    1. Thank you! Yes, we had some good times even though I hate being stuck at home for more than two days in a row as a rule. If I lived in a place where i can walk downtown from my house (a civilized place, in other words ;-) things might be different... Bon weekend! PS: Hang on to that generator. You will use it, you'll see!

  29. How hilarious. WE come from such different places yet our "snow stories" are so much alike. When the rest of B'ham heads to the grocery for bread and milk., I head out for wine and bourbon! :)

    1. Virginia- I am not surprised. I had already guessed you and I had a lot in common ;-) Bon weekend! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  30. PS. LOVE la tour Eiffel in la neige!

    1. -- Of course, you do, Madame la Collectionneuse de Tour(s) Eiffel! V.

  31. the snow sure looks pretty at a is a wonderful subject for photography - lovely shots..

  32. Your title sets the tone and it's all downhill sliding fun after that. Your final video is a little gem!

    Here we're getting melted snow today instead of the beautiful powder the weather forecast had led me to hope for :(


Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle