8 02 2010

As the week progressed last week, talk of a major snowstorm heading our way heated up, which led me to wonder, wait, didn’t I move to the beach, where the joke is that it NEVER snows?!? 

But I digress.

Whether or not a storm happens, when one is predicted, it’s important for any handy homeowner girl to get prepared.  I knew the storm was to hit over the weekend (initial predictions were for it to start at 4pm on Friday and go through 7pm on Saturday), so Thursday night I headed to the grocery store. 

I probably should have gone Wednesday, because everyone had snow fever and was buying groceries like they’d be locked in their homes for the next month!  I did manage to get everything I needed and get out of there without ramming anyone with my cart and I was glad to have all my staples in case I got snowed in.

But how else could I prepare? 

First, I had to make sure I had the essential snow management items – I put my shovel outside by the front door, so I wouldn’t have to be trying to open the shed door against a foot of snow on Saturday morning.  I also put my salt back in the front closet temporarily to fight any post-storm ice.  When I was in for the night on Friday, I made sure to park my car further back on my driveway (it made shoveling easier the last time) and put all of my windshield wipers up – this keeps them from freezing to the windshield and maybe tearing when scraping the car off.  I knew where all my relevant clothing was, from long underwear and ski socks to my hat, gloves, coat and boots.

Friday afternoon, I also made sure to run all of my errands.  I have been taking a ceramics class on Saturday afternoons (which was cancelled), and I like to head to Target afterwards and pick up a Starbucks frappuccino.  Okay, so it’s not a blizzard necessity, but I grabbed one anyway, so that I wouldn’t feel slighted about missing it.  Then, I headed to Lowe’s for some paint for the guest room.  I’d finally decided on a color, and thought it might be a good idea to have an indoor project planned for the weekend while I was stuck inside.  It was funny to see people racing me to the door of Lowe’s because they thought I was there for a shovel – and the only one they had left was a metal one more for digging than shoveling! 

I also made sure to hit the ATM so I had enough cash – it seems like a silly thing to make sure of because it’s not like I’d be ordering a pizza or anything, but I felt in case we were really slammed and I needed to call someone to plow me out, it would be good to be able to pay him.  I just wanted to be prepared.

Something else I should have gotten was logs for the fire – there were a number of power outages with this storm, so it would have been good to have the ability to light a fire if my power went out.  But I didn’t think of that until I was already at home.  After I’d already driven the 20 minutes back to the main spot for shopping.  Twice.

Snuggled up at home with the pup, we awaited the storm.  At 4pm, nothing.  Same thing until 9, when the first flakes started to fall.  It didn’t seem to be sticking much at first, so I thought, watch, the weathermen have gotten this wrong.  But by 11, we had two inches already and I wasn’t feeling so good about having to go to bed without being able to take shoveling a few inches at a time.

This was what we woke up to Saturday morning

I got up at 9 to a winter wonderland. While we at the shore were fortunate to not get that much snow (I haven’t seen the overall totals, but I think it’s about 18 inches, maybe a bit more), we had a foot of snow on the ground when I got up.  I prayed that my neighbors with a snowblower would take pity on me, but I bundled up and got started.  The snow was heavy, sitting on a layer of slushy ice, and it was brutal shoveling.  Because it was so heavy, I took my time with shoveling.  I started by making a path for the pup on the deck and a little bit of the yard so that he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by white (he still was a little – he has stubby legs).  Then I shoveled off my front stoop and sidewalk.  Because of the way my car was parked, and my neighbor’s cars, the front of my driveway was like a wind tunnel – there were deep drifts, but some of the snow was fairly low.  So I managed that and brushing off my car before I needed to take a break.

Because the snow was wet and heavy and it was so windy, it stuck to EVERYTHING

It looked so pretty, but it was hard to shovel!

My poor car - see how the wind created these weird snow drifts?

Shoveling is a hard thing to do, and more of a serious workout than some people realize, so I made sure to drink a lot of water and some juice to keep my energy up and keep from getting overheated.  Taking a couple of breaks helped too, though I couldn’t let my muscles stiffen up too much, or I wouldn’t have gotten back out there!  After about a half hour, I headed out again and managed to shovel a good part of the rest of my driveway.  The main issue after a while was running out of places to put the snow as I shoveled it, so I ended up building these huge piles of snow, which was exhausting.  I would take short breaks outside to push some of the lighter snow along the cleared parts towards a larger pile and then pile it on top.  It made the shoveling more manageable. 

I had a lot of extra shoveling to do because of the way the plows came through

LONG drivway. Little car

I took another break and knew at that point that if I didn’t finish up the driveway, I’d never be able to get it all done.  I live on a cul de sac, so when the plows went through, they didn’t get very close to the edge of the street.  That meant that I had about seven feet in front of my driveway that I also needed to shovel, in case there was an emergency.  And not only was this the snow that had fallen, but mixed into it was the heavier, icy snow that the plow had turned up.  It was fairly brutal, but I finally managed it and knew I was done for.  I figured any shoveling after that would be easier, as long as I kept an eye on how much was falling and kept on top of it.

It's quite the pile of snow in front of my house. You could almost sled down it!

I ended up covered with most of this snow yesterday when I put the garbage out. Which still hasn't been collected

The snow on the trees didn't last too long, but it was nice while it did!

I decided to nix the painting project for the weekend because I was so exhausted, and ended up watching some tv and drinking hot chocolate.  When I went out for another round of shoveling around 4 (I’d finished the first set of shoveling around 1), I had just cleared the sidewalk when my neighbor came out to say that they’d be happy to use the snowblower to finish digging me out.  I wanted to ask where they’d been all morning while I was shoveling, but I appreciated being able to stop for the day.  I did clear off my car one more time and gratefully went back inside to relax again.  We were very lucky not to lose power here, and once my neighbor plowed me out this morning, the driveway and sidewalk snow melted under the sun (though it’s only 28 degrees).  The trees are also melting, though they looked very beautiful and mysterious yesterday covered in snow.  According to the snowfall totals I’ve seen, we ended up with about 18 inches of snow.

At least somebody was having fun in the snow! Who says bassets can't jump?

I’m also feeling every muscle in my body today from the shoveling, so while I started on my guest room, I’ve decided to take my time with it and paint next weekend.  Although, because I’ve cleared everything out but the bed and dresser, and it’s sitting in the hallway and my office, we’ll see how long that lasts…


21 12 2009

For once, the weathermen were correct and we got slammed by a blizzard over the weekend!  On Friday afternoon, I ran around getting some last minute things accomplished: I got gas in my car, because when the temperatures are going to be below freezing, you want to make sure to have at least half a tank of gas to avoid any freezing and subsequent water in the tank.  I ran to the grocery store (along with everyone else in a 25 mile radius) to pick up eggs and milk, so fortunately, I was in and out quickly.  I picked up dog food for the pup (and got suckered into getting him a couple of toys and a new bed that was part of a great sale).  I made sure to get the pet-friendly salt for my sidewalks and some logs for the fire (though fires actually pull more heat out of the house than they push in).  And I finished up a couple of other things I needed to get done. 

Before going to bed, I made sure to bring my shovel inside so that I didn’t have to fight my way into the shed to get it in the morning, in case a lot of snow had fallen already.  And I was ready with some Pam (which if you spray it on the shovel, helps the snow slide off a little easier.  Then the shovel isn’t as heavy when you’re working). 

I woke up at eight the next morning and immediately sat up in bed – was it snowing??

Oh yes. We already had two inches of snow.  I called my parents to see how much snow they had (none) and to figure out when I should start my shoveling.  I thought four inches, and my dad said I could even wait up until six had fallen. 

At this point, it was still just looking pretty - I do love snow, just not shoveling!

But at 10, we had about four inches of snow, and I could hear my next door neighbor outside shoveling, so I thought I’d better get out there.  It turned out that his girlfriend had been bugging him to dig the cars out, so that’s why he was out there earlier.  And supposedly a mythical large snowblower would be arriving that afternoon, so they told me not to go crazy.  Good thing I didn’t listen to them, because the snowblower didn’t arrive until I was almost done with my driveway.  Yesterday afternoon.

Anyway, I managed the four inches in about an hour and because there was going to be so much snow, I didn’t even bother with the sidewalk closest to the street.  My driveway is long enough for three cars, and I only have a little one, so there was a LOT of shoveling to be done.  I figured I’d have to get out there sometime during the afternoon, once another four or so inches had fallen, so I left on my base layer and ski socks (I don’t ski, I just own the clothes for it) and started some holiday baking. 

Around three, I realized that the neighbor I share a driveway with had shoveled my driveway along with his – I almost cried, it was so nice of him.  That meant I could stay in my warm, cozy house watching Christmas movies and baking until about six.  Because I live on the coast where it’s perpetually windy, we were basically in blizzard-like conditions, with gusts up to 50 miles an hour.  Because of the wind, the snow was forming drifts everywhere, and it seemed that all the snow my neighbor had shoveled landed right back on the driveway.  So I shoveled about six inches at 6, which took me forever.  I cleaned my car off and left the engine running for a while – my car seems to attract ice on the hood in cold weather, and I wanted to make sure I was melting it whenever I could. I also left the windshield wipers sticking up so that they didn’t freeze to the windshield – that has happened to me, and if you pull them off before they’ve defrosted, you can rip the wiper (SO annoying). 

Before my second shoveling - the car was totally covered

But my house looked pretty, all snowcovered - even though you can't see a lot of the lights under about 10 inches of snow!

This tree did look very cool

Very Christmas-y

My driveway-sharing neighbor came out again to shovel, so I was able to tell him a big THANK YOU and he still helped me shovel the rest of my driveway!  I was really struggling towards the end – I like to say I have freakishly strong upper arms, but there was so much snow and no where to put it as I shoveled, so I had to do a lot of lifting.  I felt like a wet noodle by the time I was finished with that round.  I took a short break to chat to my  next door neighbor who told me the showblower would be arriving in the morning and not to go crazy with shoveling.  I finished what I could and decided I was done for the night, if a snowblower would be handling the rest!

After a lovely hot shower and some clean pajamas, there was a ring at my door – it was my next door neighbor, with a meal of a Hungarian hamburger and mashed potatoes!  The perfect cold weather meal, I saved it for Sunday night, when I was the most tired.

Before I went to bed Saturday night - we had about 11 inches of snow

When I woke up on Sunday, the snow was finished and the sun was peeking out. All told, we had about 15 inches of snow.  I could barely push the back door open to let the dog out, and he was overwhelmed by the world of white at first.  He managed to get stuck in a corner of the yard, so I had to pick up all 56 pounds of him and carry him back to the deck – I almost dropped him because I was so sore from shoveling!

Once he got the hang of it, the pup LOVED the snow!


Finally got up the energy to shovel a path on the porch

I was hoping for a snowblower miracle, but when I didn’t hear it, and saw my driveway sharing neighbor out there working on our driveway, I figured I’d best get out there.  I managed to shovel my front stoop, clear off the car, and shovel a path on my porch for the pup before I felt done for.  My back was starting to spasm, and I just wanted to lounge in a hot bath.  But it was not to be – I headed out again to work on my sidewalk and driveway and finally, the snowblower arrived! 

After I had finished half the driveway.

Maybe I'll see my swing again in the spring?

But they seemed to be having some trouble getting it to keep going, so I kept working on the driveway just in case it was a goner.  I didn’t want to give up shoveling, only to find out an hour later that I needed to finish it up!  But finally, my neighbor assured me that it would be working soon and unless I felt I needed the workout, I could put my shovel away.  Of course, I was almost entirely finished with shoveling, but he cleared up the hardest part – the end of my driveway – the entire sidewalk by the street, and shoveled out our mailboxes, as well as cleaned up the other end of the driveway, where I’d lost energy and just put snow wherever.   Despite the one creepy neighbor behind me, I am very lucky to have such great neighbors who really helped a girl out this weekend!  They will definitely be receiving some of my holiday treats!

It was awfully pretty

Also, I do need to salt again today in the areas I didn’t get to yesterday, but the salt did it’s trick and kept the sidewalk from freezing with the low temperatures we’re experiencing here, so I highly recommend it.  I’m not going anywhere until at least tomorrow, but it’s good to be able to get out of here if I need to!  Now, I just have to live in fear of the high temps they’re promising for Friday, when I’ll be celebrating Christmas elsewhere – I heard that a few years ago when a big snow melted, sump pumps were overwhelmed and flooding made a mess of things.  That would not be so good – so I’ll have to check to make sure the pipe is exposed before I leave and just hope for the best!

The pup & I in our own winter wonderland

A Winter Wonderland?

18 12 2009

For the past two winters, I’ve lived on the coast.  It still gets cold here, but it generally isn’t cold enough for snow.  Last year, we did have one big storm, with about eight inches of snow, but mostly, when friends and family in the north were stuck at home in a winter wonderland, I was still able to be out, running errands, and battling floodwaters in my backyard. 

The usual scene last year - barely any snow, lots of water, confused doggie

But it sounds like Mother Nature wants us to have a real white Christmas this year, because from 1am tomorrow morning to about 9am on Sunday, we have a winter storm warning for my area.  Warnings like this make me jittery – I’m excited, because I love snow, but also nervous because I (like everyone else) want to make sure I have enough food in the house, gas in the car, food for the dog, easily reachable shovels and boots and salt for the sidewalks. 

But then earlier this was the poor pup's first experience with snow!

Plus, I’m supposed to have a friend visiting me this weekend, staying tonight and leaving tomorrow.  I’ve had to put the word out to her about the weather and see if she still wants to come.   In the meantime, the house is clean and decorated, there is food in the fridge (minus milk – I will need to rectify that!), I have a shovel and plenty of cold weather gear, and I just need to pick up salt for the sidewalks, logs for the fire, and food for the puppy.  Anyone else expecting snow this weekend?

I started shoveling at 11 the night before to keep on top of it...some workout!

And, of course, the weather down here being what it is, a few hours later it had warmed up enough to melt on the roadways.


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