The worst ice storm to hit Austin since 2007 has plunged a third of the city’s utility customers into darkness. Sure, it’s an act of nature, and 2/3 of an inch of ice weighs hundreds of pounds, crews are working as fast as they can, yada yada. Thanks to an inept City government that cannot keep the trees trimmed and the lights on, we have days if not many days more to go. Yeah, life without cold showers, lights, refrigeration, heating, cooking, the internet, or streaming, is not exactly suffering–that’s what hundreds of millions if not a few billion on earth endure daily–and worse.
When you’re used to things that are taken away, it’s not fun. It does instill a sense of perspective and gratitude. Fortunately for A Dude, I’m housesitting, so my residence has the first world amenities on which we’ve become all too dependent. Unfortunately, that place will be demolished and rebuilt, and I have less than four weeks to relocate. So far, the only option is where I’m housesitting. I think that’s called irony, and it’s not about making my shirts wrinkle-free. A wrinkle-free life is not much of a life. Or to quote Helen Keller, who was blind, deaf, and still found a way to be a leading socialist, “Life is a grand adventure, or nothing at all.”
Two years ago we had half a foot of snow and a week of power outage as well as frozen burst pipes, a lot due to the poorly managed (by the GOP and friends) Texas state electric grid. We called it Snowpocalypse. One can bike in snow; they make snow tires for that. Just ask BikepackingNV who routinely does just that in the mountains outside of Reno. Or other cyclists in northern climes. Last year we had snow, too, for fewer days and not as bad. But I’d expect there, as well as here in Central Texas, ice is not nice for biking.
This time, we can blame it on the tree huggers for refusing to let crews trim trees, as one Austin Energy crew guy told me. Except the City reduced tree trimming to six years not three, and Hizzoner the former and once again new Mayor Kirk Watson. Nice guy, met him a few times, a good ol’ boy. In his press conference he said he should have had a press conference sooner, underestimated the severity, the website crashed… yada yada. Kirk rhymes with something, can’t quote put my tongue on it, something about dried Jamaican chicken. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” sang The Who, who I saw once (and they rocked, even if old) at the Frank Erwin Center. That’s been decommissioned and replaced by a shiny new thing called the Moody. That fits.
Meanwhile, that same mayor and City Council refuse to return my calls and emails about why we’re being prematurely evictulated when the owners of this place don’t have an approved site plan, and haven’t even applied for a demolition permit, a four-month process. My own representative’s staff says he can’t help. More like he just won’t. I have my theories why, and it can be summed up in the phrase, “Follow the money.” Another rep who ran on a pro-affordable housing platform said the same, but at least his staffer called. It’s legal, but it’s sure as shucks not ethical or moral. These somewhat affordable nice old wood and stone apartments will sit here vacant for three to six months or more.
Meanwhile, we tenants, powerless David’s to the corporate Goliath, scramble to live with friends or somehow try to dodge the sky high rents elsewhere. And there’s still Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine, escalating all the time with US and NATO-supplied weapons and rhetoric, but no diplomacy that I see. The huge Hinman glacier that used to sit in the Cascade Mountains 50 miles from my former abode, Seattle, is simply gone now after thosands of years. California had three mass shootings IN ONE DAY. Tyre Nichols, a Black man in Memphis stopped by Black police officers, was beaten to death for driving erratically. And it’s still Winter in America.
So, I bike, mostly on my new-to-me Fuji Finest Sommar while she’s on the home trainer. I get in my 30-minute walk, rain, shine, ice, snow, heat, whatever. I finished my 30-day January journey of Yoga With Adriene, the 2023 edition being named CENTER, and am back to doing what I call–like David Pumpkin’s–“it’s my own thang.” And I practice my flute, and read my books (currently, Dirtbag, Massachusetts: A Confessional by Isaac Fitzgerald, who I heard speak at the Texas Book Festival. (TBF was started by Laura Bush, or as I like to say, “The best thing George “The Shrub” ever did was done by his wife.”).
I work on my memoir and journal, and go to my weekly writers group. I try to figure out ways to make money, stay healthy (or rather strive to be a little less unhealthy), and generally keep my head above water. Watch some zombie TV (The Last of Us and The Walking Dead and even an episode of Doom Patrol) without becoming a zombie. There ought to be a whole channel devoted solely to the undead eating brains. Oh wait, that’s what Fox News is for.
It’s hard out here for a blimp. “And so it goes.” Who else is going to quote Kurt Vonnegut and to paraphrase a rap movie “Hustle and Flow” while making a self-deprecating allusion to my status as an aging fathlete? Let’s end with my neighbor up the road, ol’ Woody Wooderson from Dazed and Confused himself: Mattie McConaughey: “Just keep livin’.” And biking, or runing, or blogging, or whatever floats your boat… if the water is not frozen into ice. Ya’ll come on back by this little blog soon, ya hear? Or as Wooderson/McConaughey would say, “It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”
4 thoughts on “2/2/23: Ice Is Not Nice for Bicycling; It’s Winter in America Again”
It looks like we are in for a full snowy winter here in Nevada. My hope is after a few more months of frozen posts our landscape will snap to flowers in super bloom, healthy forests and rivers, and riders smiling in the sunshine. Keep on keeping on and I will do the same.
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The cold air from Austin was the only thing to hit NC except for the news about your predicament. I sent good energy your way because that’s all I could. Except for your housing and weather issues (which make me sorry for you) I found this blog to be amusing. I do not share your love for all things zombie – frankly, they freak me out – but I loved the shade you threw on Fox News – I KNEW there was a really good reason for not liking them. It’s that undead brain eating thing!!!! I will be thinking of you as you search for a new nest. Best wishes and keep the faith!
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Keep your chin up, Adude. I’ll confess, my favorite part was “life without cold showers”, but I knew what you meant. Actually, ice can be better than snow for biking, but only if you have studded tires, which would be a silly idea in Austin. Have you tried ice skating on the streets? I know, ice skates in Austin is another silly idea, but skating down the street is pretty fun. You know, when life gives you lemons…As for tree trimming, there is tree trimming and then there is tree butchering. I don’t think anyone in their right mind should object to pruning urban trees, but around here the tendency is to cut a huge V out of the middle where the power lines are. Somehow, when it came to pruning the street tree in front of my house (for major reconstruction of the road), they did a great job and it still looks like a maple tree. (And thanks for the tip about “Bad Karma”. I just read it and, while I didn’t like the people, I liked the book.)
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