Sunday, March 13, 2005

Shovel Adventure

Round 2 of the shovel out is complete. We got about 8 inches of wet snow yesterday. I was up early to take Amy to the airport, so she could head to Arkansas. When we left the house it was misting rain, but by the time I got almost home it was snowing here. After a quick trip to the grocery store, I hunkered down to wait out the storm. I alternated most of the day between bread baking and sanding a project in my workshop.

On one break I watched the movie "Friday Night Lights". It's an interesting movie but didn't grab my interest as much as I expected. It is the story of one football season at a high school in Odessa, Texas. If you know anything about the importance of football in the lives of many in Texas, the film is quite predictable. I thought the character development was weak, which given that the entire plot is the football season is perhaps why it didn't pull me in.

About 4pm as the snow was winding down I decided to begin to dig out. The front walk wasn't too bad. Most of this years shoveling has been of the push it until you can't push it any further, then scoop it up variety. This storm is not. This is the scrap a layer off the top and dump it, repeat until you find pavement variety. The plow droppings at the edge of the street were of the basic rock variety. Last night they weren't too solid so I was able to split them with my plastic blade shovel.

A note about the shovel - earlier this winter I became fed up with the shovels we owned. Both have wide short blades which are fine for pushing snow but not for lifting it. So, off I went to Home Depot to procure a shovel with a squarish blade. What I ended up with is a shovel with a funky bent handle designed to be more ergonomic. I love this shovel. Amy loves this shovel. I should have bought 2 - I went back later to get another but found only lawnmowers and weed wackers. Next year... The handle of the shovel is long enough to give enough force to fling shovelfulls quite a distance. A benefit to shoveling a driveway that touchs the neighbors driveway. With the shovel I can send most of the snow into our yard, rather than struggling to add it to the 1 foot wide pile dividing the driveways.

After reaching the street it was on to the driveway. Three linear feet of plow droppings awaited. It was slow, tiring work. And it was hear that I discovered that a small layer of slickness under the snow. Picture if you will me standing in eight inches of snow in the driveway shoveling toward the street. It was the only way (without a trip back into the house - more on this later) to avoid ending up on my rear - it was that slick. I gave up once I'd cleared the plow leavings, but not before pulling out the camera (I'll get a picture or two loaded sometime today).

I was up early this morning, having collapsed into bed fairly early last night. I was going to laze in bed, but had to find the source of the beeping I kept hearing. It turned out to be the carbon monoxide monitor screaming for new batteries. After the trip to the basement, I wasn't in the mood to crawl back into bed. So I suited up in long undies and sweat pants, had a leisurely breakfast, added rain pants, gloves, boots and hat to my attire and headed out.

I had to give the walk another once over to clear the additional 1/2 inch of snow that arrived after last night's shoveling. The edge of the street had another pile of plow droppings. The ones at the end of the walk were small enough to move without splitting, but when I reached the driveway I discovered a few the size of small cars (well kiddie cars anyway). The plastic shovel was no match for these boulders, so I headed back to the porch for the short handled steel shovel. It weighs a ton, but does a great job splitting ice boulders. This proved to be the right tool for the job and made short work of the boulders. As I got down to the pavement, again, I discovered that the layer of slick was still there. So I added my yaktraxs to me outfit.

For those unfamiliar with yaktrax, they are large rubber webs which fit over the sole of your boot. What makes them useful are the wires wrapped around the web on the bottom. The wires bite into ice and give you great traction.

With the yaktrax firmly attached to my boots the shoveling was much easier, and I didn't have to stand in the unshoveld snow to maintain my footing. The snow untouched by the plow proved much easier to shovel. I've done the top 4 linear feet the full width of the driveway, a 2 foot wide swath down to the car, and most of the flat in front of the car (the car is parked against the garage door. The goal for the day is to be able to get my car out. I'm not going to worry about getting Amy's car out yet.

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