Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Blizzard of "Ought-Four", Part 1.

Today's Top Story:
At the time of this posting, 1324 US soldiers have died in Iraq.
That's almost 90 more than at my last posting 3 weeks ago!

(Why is this "The Top Story"?

1. Each of these soldiers died in a war that was initiated by a President who intentionally misled the American people about the reasons for war in Iraq, (and
2. Like Gen. Anthony Zinni, I believe that this has got to be more important than "American Idol").

Today's Feature: The Blizzard of "Ought-Four", Part 1.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

6:22am: The phone rings, 40 minutes before we are planning to get up. Alarm set for 7am, since I’m on vacation, Will is out of school, and Mary only needs 30 minutes to get ready for work. On the phone is Mary’s boss, the doctor, telling her that he is closing the office for the day because of the snow. He is going to call all the patients to let them know not to come in.

We get up and look outside. It appears we have gotten 3-4 inches of snow overnight, and it’s still coming down, hard and fast. It’s 6:30am and we’re up, so we get the day started. Coffee brews, breakfast gets made. We watch the local and national news. I send an email to my family, emphasizing that the local forecast is calling for up to EIGHTEEN inches of snow. I’ve never seen this much snow at one time. But I’m on vacation and don’t have to be anywhere at any specific time til January 3rd, so let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

8:30am: Mary and I go outside to shovel the driveway. Mary is skeptical that we need to do it so early, but I’m convinced. There is at least 6 inches of snow on the ground already, and I’m worried about how hard it will be to get it cleared off the driveway. I’m trying hard to appreciate Indiana weather – mild summers, all four seasons, not too much snow in the winter…it could be the ideal climate – but this is a stretch. My last collision with Indiana weather was after Thanksgiving, when high winds blew some shingles off my roof. I bought replacements and spent two weekends replacing shingles and 6 weeks nursing a sprained back. The doctor prescribed naproxen and muscle relaxants. This morning I do a quick evaluation of the relative risk factors: Naproxen was all over the news this week as a possible contributor to heart attacks. I’m also aware that many middle-aged men drop dead of heart attacks every year while shoveling snow. My back isn’t back to normal, and I need to shovel snow. Since I haven’t had any naproxen in a week, I figure the odds are in my favor, and take one before starting to shovel. I take it easy…not going too fast or too hard. My goal is to get the driveway cleared without wearing myself out. It takes us 45 minutes to make one pass through the driveway.

An optimistic shoveler -- first pass through the driveway on Wednesday. Posted by Hello

Mary being a good neighbor and clearing a path to the mailbox - Wednesday. Posted by Hello

It’s a losing game, though. By the time we clear the driveway from the garage down to the street, we can’t see the driveway at the top. The snow is falling faster than we can shovel it!

Didn't we just clear this driveway? Posted by Hello

We measure the snowfall on the top of Will’s car and see that we’ve had 6 inches of snow.

Wednesday morning measurement on the roof of Will's car. Posted by Hello

10:00am: I bring the snow shovel through the house and into the back yard and clear out a spot roughly 10 feet by 10 feet so the dog has a place to relieve herself. I name it the “crapatorium” and force the dog to go out there. Mary starts working on Christmas cookies and I start cleaning the downstairs to get ready for all the company we're expecting this week.

Mary and Oscar make cookies. Posted by Hello

1:00pm: After lunch it’s time to shovel again. Mary asks if I really think it’s necessary. I open the garage door and stick a broom handle into the snow. The snow depth equals the length of my Swiss army knife, which turns out to be three and a half inches when I measure it back in the kitchen. Another 3 ½ to 4 inches is on the ground, and more continues to fall.

I decide to clear the driveway again to try to keep up. It takes me until 2:15 to get it done. Will comes out and does his lane of the driveway. I measure the snow on top of his car – 8 inches, total.

Wednesday afternoon measurement on Will Posted by Hello

I think I’ve shoveled more total inches. Mary comes out and tells us that the revised forecast is for another 8 – 12 inches. Gee, something to look forward to.

A clear driveway - Wednesday afternoon. Posted by Hello

Back inside, I help out a bit with the cookie making, sprinking sliced almonds on some of the absolute best sugar cookies I’ve ever tasted. Then I head to the basement to do some painting. We’ve got company coming and I haven’t finished the trim down there.

5:15pm: It’s nap time. After a long day of shoveling, baking (and tasting!) and painting, it’s time for a rest. We each hunker down under the covers with a good book. I manage two or three paragraphs, then have to put mine down and turn out the light. Nighty nite.

6:00pm: The phone rings. It’s the doctor…waking me up for the second time today! He talks to Mary and says he’s going to close the office on Thursday…does she have the list of patients that are scheduled? No? Could she go retrieve it and call them? We bundle up and head out. The office is about a mile and a half away, over several main streets. We slide out of our neighborhood – our street has not yet been plowed. The main streets have been plowed, but snow is accumulating rapidly. We get to the office without incident, and spend an hour or so making phone calls. When we leave, I have to scrape the car windows and I can’t see the tracks we made in the parking lot when we arrived.

8:00pm: We get back home. Will is there with two of his buddies. They’ve been out sledding all afternoon and have picked up a pizza and a movie. We’re all chatting in the kitchen, lots of milling about and noise, when we notice the dog in the middle of the group, squatting and peeing all over the kitchen floor. I’m not sure I ever saw those high school boys move quite so quickly. We decide we need to do a better job monitoring the crapatorium…

9:00pm: An alert comes over the cable tv network, advising that a “snow emergency” has been declared. This is something new to us. The message is simple: You should only venture out in an emergency. We have nowhere we need to go. Will’s buddies emerge from the basement and say goodnight. They saw the announcement and are heading home.

9:30pm: The snow is pouring down. A group of kids trouped through our yard in mid-afternoon, dragging snow shovels, but I can’t see any sign of their passing as I look out the front window. Tomorrow should be interesting.

Hard snowfall at night.. Posted by Hello

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