Saturday, February 3, 2007

The Blizzard Of 07

Yep, that's what they called it alright. They had Rick & Scott, the daily morning talk show on the radio today (on a Saturday!), taking calls about where people were and how bad it was. People were bragging about how many cars were in the ditch and how much snow had drifted across their little stretch of road. Last night I attempted to hook up my glorious Highest-Speed-Ever internet service. I went outside in the harsh and blowing winter, drilled a hole through the garage wall to the cable box, and began stringing cable. My battery drill refused to finish the next hole, so I went inside to get warm while it recharged. After about 3 minutes of getting warm, I decided this was stupid and ran the cable across the family room to the office. It's now joined the ever-growing list of Unfinished Projects, but it will get done as soon as the weather breaks because the wire needs to pass through a closet that's been emptied for this occasion. Into the living room. It's screwing up the ambiance of the Teevee Room, and I can't have that. Currently, my black and coily pipeline is tucked neatly behind a couch, until it gets to the office door. Then it's a trap for woodland wildlife, just waiting to string your leg up in the knotty mess and take you down. Once my duct tape thaws out, I'll fix that problem too. Yeah, I got class, what of it? The internet is a-blazing. However, my 7-year-old computer is not. I discovered just how much of the former slowness could be blamed on dial-up sluggishness: not nearly enough. I've spent 23 hours cleaning up, debugging, and deleting old dusty crap from the ol' family puter. There were scraps of games, smileys, all manner of bookmarks, and unused programs from the Clinton era littering its innards. I nodded off several times in my captain's chair to the clicks and whirs of a previously neglected hard drive. Norton thinks I'm virus free, but I'm not so sure. I'll be unpacking Tracy Lynn's toolbox soon to see what else might lurk in the circuitous recesses of my old machine (thanks again, you rock!). I had planned to post a post this morning, then take Boy skiing. I looked out my window, shivered, and said something along the lines of "Oh, HAYell no." He had been invited to the movies with one friend and sledding with another, so we set up for next week and I got to work on my wadded up mess of a computer. I took a nap while Windows installed 12 updates I'd missed over the years, and woke up ready to do something. The weather outside was frightful, but there was no delightful fire inside, so what to do? I hit the garage door opener and watched snow blow in from the 4 corners of Hoth. The door slid up, up, up, and still all I could see was snow. It was a full 30" deep against the garage door. I gamely pulled on my duck boots and leather gloves and grabbed my trusty shovel. An hour later, Mrs. Spiffy came out all bundled up, only the whites of her eyes showing. I could tell it was her because the kids are far too smart to come out in weather like this. We shoveled in silence for a few minutes, then agreed that a snowblower sounds about right for a Saturday afternoon. The driveway was only 1/4 done, but the Jeep was warmed up for the upcoming provision run, and I had high hopes that she could blast through the shin-deep drifts. Sure enough, she had us into the deserted byways in no time. The radio cackled on about how stupid one would have to be to travel on a day like this, and there were times when I might agree, except my tires kept an amazing grip on the road and the heat was a-crankin', so I led us in a chorus of 'It's Not So Bad.' We arrived at the nearly deserted Home Depot and joined a short line of folks who were there for the same reason as we. It was down to the Ultra Pricey, High-Testosterone models, or a couple different mid-size driveway specials. I narrowed it down to two machines with the same engine; one had electric start, and the other had metal blades. I went with the metal blades, because when I throw a rock, I want it thrown. I finagled a gas can into the deal (I already own 3 gas cans, but they were all in my garage. Empty, of course), swiped the card, and we were off into the whiteout again. But first, the gas station. I filled the Jeep and the new gas can and went inside for the provisions. We'd run out of toilet paper and bread, which is bad if you're gonna be snowed in for the weekend. The cashier shared with me that she didn't like Charmin because it sticks to her ass. Hello? Did I need to know that?? Now I'll be all skeeved out thinking about it every time I visit the littlest room. Jibblies. On the way home, we noted the tracks in the medians and shoulders that indicated all the pileups we'd heard about. Apparently it was a very busy day for crashes, and we had missed the worst of it. We passed one car being pulled out after collecting a day's worth of snow on the roof, and came up to another freshly-spun compact jobby, lights on and facing the wrong way. I eased onto the left shoulder with the four-ways flashing, and asked if I could help. The girl behind the wheel said they were OK, but it was stuck pretty good. Her passenger boyfriend came out and helped me dig snow from under the body and back wheels, but after much pushing and tire spinning, it was still buried. A guy with a big red truck pulled over and asked if he could help, and we welcomed him and his tow strap. A short tug and she was free. While I helped him wrap up the tow strap, a guy passed slowly on the highway, window down and scowl on his face, shouting, "Get off the road, assholes!" I waved, hoping for some of BrendaLove's telekinetic powers. He'll wind up in a ditch someday soon, I'm sure of it. We got home and I immediately set to work with my new toy. It was fully assembled, had Factory Oil installed, and was raring to go. Two pulls and it roared to life, ready to chew through the piles of fluff that just kept coming. As I was making my 3rd pass, satisfied with the enormous rooster tail I could create, I remembered an announcement I heard in Kindergarten. Mr. Van Essen, the principal, came into class and asked us all to make construction paper sympathy cards for the widow across the street. Her husband had been shoveling snow over the weekend, and died of a heart attack right in the driveway. I remember running home that afternoon to warn my dad that shoveling was bad, and clung to his leg as he got his coat and hat. He assured me that I had nothing to worry about, for he had a snowblower. It was a great beastly thing, rusty green with a big smoky engine on top and chains on the tires. He'd come in smelling of gas fumes and cold, grumbling about another window that he'd have to fix in the spring. I was happy to join the club of former-shovelers today. And so, as I read the announcement that church is canceled tomorrow, I'm ready for anything Momma Nature can throw at me. I think I'll be staying in and brewing up some of my blue-ribbon chili tomorrow; come over for lunch, if you're brave enough!

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