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Pop the cork!

Winter's over ... for now

Season_winter I took the snowman theme down. When it's in the 70s the last week of December and people are wearing shorts, I can't in good conscience keep the blog's winter look around any longer.

This warm snap is a bit disconcerting. I spent a little more than six years in South Florida and was ready to get out of there for many reasons, a lack of seasonal change being one of them. Another climatological consideration, hurricanes, was the prime move motivator.

I had to compromise with the husband, though, on our finalSeason_summer_1 destination. He likes warm weather better than I. I've been known to walk into the house and immediately ask, "Is the air conditioner broken?" only to find him wearing a sweatshirt.

When we knew we were heading back home to Texas, we immediately ruled out the state's northern plains area. That region, according the to the Texas Almanac we got for Christmas, has its first average freeze on Nov. 1 and last one in mid-April. Plus, having gone to college in Lubbock, we knew it does get snow.

Season_fall Far South Texas was out, too, although it's closer to the Gulf of Mexico (or "ocean" as we called it when we were kids in the western desert section of the state) and the great bird watching opportunities there. It's just too dang hot too much of the time. Been there, done that in the Sunshine State.

So we're in Central Texas, where you get cold and hot temperatures, often on the same day at any time of the year. I'm not complaining, just adjusting.

It's amazing how much control weather has over our lives. Our friend Kevin can't fathom our fascination with the Weather Channel. His exact words: "I can look out the window." We just think he's a bit cranky and is totally missing the benefits of knowing how best to weather the weather.

In addition to influencing our personal moods, the most mundane daily tasks depend on what it's like outside (and sometimes, Kevin, it's easier to stay in bed and use the TV remote instead of getting up to peer through the bedroom window). Clothing choices can get complicated: T-shirt or sweater, sandals or boots (although here in Texas, boots are always a safe bet), windbreaker orSeason_spring heavier coat, hat and gloves or bare extremities, etc. etc. etc.

Then there's dining: lighter fare in hot weather, hearty comfort food in cold. Entertainment options? A walk in the park vs. going to a movie.

Weather also can affect our taxes.

The IRS has been known to ease filing deadlines when extreme weather conditions make getting your forms to the post office dangerous or impractical. And of course those events like the aforementioned hurricanes and other natural disasters open up a whole new can of tax worms to add to the other problems they create.

Katrina, for example, has led to a slew of new tax laws, ranging from easier access to retirement money for people who need the funds to help get their lives back in order to breaks for rebuilding businesses to added benefits for folks who donated to charities providing aid to storm victims. This IRS Web page offers a good overview of the many new rules. As the filing season kicks into high gear next month, I'll be looking at the specifics of some of these storm-driven changes.

Until then, though, I think I'll just kick back and enjoy this warm spell, because the weather's sure to change any day -- or hour -- now.

Thanks to Mark A. Hicks, creator of the cool (and warm!) weather images used here. Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on


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