Friday, December 24, 2004

The Blizzard of "Ought-Four", Part 2.

Today's Top Story:
At the time of this posting, 1324 US soldiers have died in Iraq.
Source: No change from yesterday. A welcome development.

(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 2.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

7:00am: We woke up early (for a vacation day) this morning, but knew we would have a challenge taking care of the pets. Mary says the wind howled all night. It’s still dark, so we can’t tell how much snow fell overnight by looking out the upstairs window.

We head downstairs and let the pets out of their kennel. The morning routine for the dog is eat first, then go out. We set out the food and then open the front door to see how much snow we got. We are amazed to see a foot of snow packed up against the door and drifts shaped like gentle waves flowing across the front yard.

Mary says she’ll go out and dig out the crapatorium, but there is so much snow piled up against the door of the back porch that she can’t get out. She decides to go out through the side door of the garage and around the side of the house. A moment later she calls me – “Mike, come QUICK!” – and I find howling with laughter in the garage.

“Look at the imprint from the door!”

A big surprise at the garage door. Posted by Hello

She steps over the packed snow and into the side yard. One step toward the back and she is in snow up to mid-thigh. Still laughing with amazement, she heads around to the back.

Mary getting in deep. Posted by Hello

It takes several minutes for her to dig out a 5 foot round opening in the snow in the back yard. Then several more minutes to dig a path up to the porch door and get it to open. It’s almost too late: While I’m watching Mary’s progress through the back window, the dog squats next to me in the kitchen and prepares to relieve herself. I yell (which does no good – the old dog is deaf as a post) and poke her in the side (which gets her attention and stops nature in its tracks). Using dog sign language -- a combination of gestures: waving towards my chest, slapping my thigh – I manage to coax the dog out onto the back porch just as Mary gets the door freed. The dog is happy, as am I. We dodged a… “bullet” that time….

Back inside, we flip on the tv and listen to the weathermen excitedly describe the overnight accumulation. Every few minutes they switch to some poor sucker who got the remote location assignment. They are set up at the outlet mall 5 miles from our house, right along I-65. It’s about 10 degrees outside. Traffic on the Interstate is reduced to a one-lane crawl. They say that Seymour, Indiana (25 miles south of us) got 18 inches of snow. I figure we got at least that much, further complicated by the drifts created by the overnight winds.

Mary says she heard we had “thunder snow” overnight. I’ve never heard of such a thing, but it’s clearly a week of firsts. I’ve never seen this much snow, either. We decide to focus on indoor activities for the morning. While it’s unlikely that the girls will be able to drive down from Indianapolis tonight as planned, we still need to finish cleaning the house, preparing the guest rooms, etc.

10:00am: The housecleaning done, I decide to start on the driveway and front walk. I take a minimalist approach with the front walk, clearing a shovel width up the walk to the front porch.

A different look for the entrance. Posted by Hello

Before starting down the driveway, I stick a yardstick into the drift at the top of the drive. It shows 19”. The good news is that most of the drive has less than that. I take a couple deep breaths and plunge in. Yesterday, I wanted to get all three lanes of the driveway cleared. Today, I have much less ambition. One lane clear to the street will be an accomplishment.

Mary and Will both join me a little while later, and I’m glad for the help.

Two more shovelers...just in time! Posted by Hello

Together it takes us til 11:30 to clear one lane down to the street. We don’t bother to try to dig out past the curb, figuring that the snow plow should be along sometime today (we hope!) and will cover the base of the driveway with its discharge. We know we’ll have to dig out again.

About 16" deep at the curb. Posted by Hello

Will takes a photo of me and Mary before we head in for lunch.

"American Arctic" Posted by Hello

2:00pm – After lunch I decide to get started on the other side of the driveway, where Will parks his car. That will leave only the middle lane with snow on it. Will comes out to help, and we get into a pretty good rhythm. After a few minutes, Will gets manic – probably from the music pumping into his brain from his MP3 player. He starts shoveling at high speed, flinging snow high into the air. After a few minutes of this, he looks back at me (I have retreated a safe distance so I’m not struck by flying snow…or flying snow shovels), grins, lets out a whoop, and leaps backward into the snow pile beside the driveway. I resist the urge to pitch a shovelful of snow on top of him.

Within 45 minutes we’ve cleared his lane down to the street.

Another lane clear. Posted by Hello

Will heads back inside. I stay out for a while longer, working on the center lane, cutting a diagonal path that links to the lane we cleared this morning. Before going back inside, I peek around the side of the house and take a photo of the drifts against the wall.

Where did the A/C unit go? Posted by Hello

The tracks in the snow mark Mary’s path from first thing this morning. Somewhere underneath the snow is the gas meter.

3:30pm: Back inside, I get a shower to warm up, then help Mary with the Christmas cookies. I get to help make the peanut butter mice.

Plenty of Christmas treats! Posted by Hello

I also get to sample the others. Yum!

We hear from the girls in Indy. The parking lot at the condo has not yet been plowed. They can't get out.

6:15: We make the local news. Bartholomew County is mentioned as one of the “hardest hit areas”. We see aerial footage of snow-covered streets, cars in ditches, and the Interstate highway at a crawl. Our street has still not been plowed. But there’s no place we need to go tonight.

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