Friday, December 31, 2004

Snow Day

If you saw Fixer's post you know I have things to do, but I thought I'd take a break, have some coffee and a smoke, and share a little about life in Paradise. It has quit snowing for the moment and the Sun is shining brightly. How long it will last, I don't know, but right now it's beautiful. Reminds me of an old joke: "When I woke up this morning, it looked nice out. So I left it out."

I spent about an hour already this morning digging out the wife's pickup and blowing a path down the driveway for her. I cleared the driveway yesterday and today's snow was knee deep.

Now, like all locals, I have a snowthrower. However, my machine is in two parts in my garage since the augur drive gear setup did a world-class imitation of a hand grenade a couple of weeks ago. I ordered the parts on Dec. 13. I expected them to be here at least when I got back from my Christmas trip to the coast, but due to an incredible combination of human errors, it was not shipped as of this past Tuesday when I called the parts house, which is in Porterville CA, near Bakersfield. It's on the way now, but the irony is that since my original order, we had two weeks of sunny and warm (relatively) weather which would have been good for wrenchin'. Murphy is laughing his ass off somewhere.

Thanks to the good graces of my next-door neighbor Bill, I have the use of his machine whenever I need it. This is a life-saver. My driveway is eighty feet long, two cars wide, and sloped down to the street. If you stood looking at two feet of snow with a cordless snowthrower, aka shovel, as your only means of snow removal, you'd move to Hawaii. I cleared my driveway with a shovel about once before I bought my first machine, which threw a rod after fourteen winters. Shovels are very useful for detail work and I have an amazing collection of them.

Here's the rub: Since Bill has been so kind, I feel obligated to clear his snow as well as mine. He says I needn't bother, but I'd feel shitty if I didn't. His driveway is about the same size as mine, but steeper. It's also about twenty-five years newer than mine and ices up a lot worse. Picture me being chased backwards down a driveway by the snowthrower, head first, the snowthrower gaining on me all the way, and you get the idea. Also, I clear his mailbox approach from wherever the plow went by so the mail carrier can drive his right-hand drive Skibaru up to it and shove the mail out the window into it. Otherwise, no mail. This is Bill's pet peeve, and I do this so I won't have to hear about it. He'll rant at great length, with great volume, about how the plow driver should plow closer to his mailbox.

Speaking of snowplows, the saving grace the last couple of days is that the plow hasn't been by here. Those things leave a humongous berm across the driveway and I haven't wanted to have to deal with it, but deal with it I shall, of that there is no doubt. Sometimes ten feet wide and three feet high, of compacted snow, it's all a snowthrower can do to get through it, and shovel work is usually required.

Bill has a 6.5hp Honda. They must have bigger horses in Japan or something, because the machine is fantastic. The rule of thumb around here is that you need 8 horse minimum, but the little Honda works really good. When it's really eatin'("EAT, you sunofabitch! EAT!") snow, the engine starts pulling real hard, like a motorcycle going up a hill at speed. Let go of the drive lever until it pitches the accumulated snow out, it picks up revs again, and off you go. For a little sneezer, the rig's got heart, like "The Little Engine That Could".

The snow we've got now is not exactly powder, but it's not the wet, heavy "Sierra cement" either, which is good. The machine does most of the work, of course, but it gets physical, believe me. There's a lot of horsin' it around, jerkin' it hither an' thither. It's a workout, so you know why my ol' lard ass gets tired.

Point is, my next machine's gonna be a Honda. Gotta fix the old one or it's just so much junk, but Mrs. G has already suggested that I check out the payment plan. I think I'll go with an 11 or 12 horse model. Now, if they come with radio control....

There's a certain amount of cultural and social content to standin' around in the snow, too. This morning I got to chat with a neighbor that I don't know while he was taking a stroll. That was cool. I warned him that the Mad Lady of Indian Pine Road was about to come flyin' backwards out of the driveway and we shot the shit 'til the crisis was past. I also got honked at to get out of the way by a lady(?) in a Lexus SUV. Figures. But, to give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she was just making sure I knew she was there.

Check out the Truckee Web Cam. The snow you see is all since Wednesday. The town is full of tourists and students on their holiday and most of 'em don't know whether to shit or go blind over our bountiful snow. What us locals like to do is get us some popcorn and go sit on the main drag and watch 'em try to drive around in it. $40K worth of SUV and they ain't got a clue. Entertaining as all get out, but then, it doesn't take much to amuse us simple hill folk.

That's all for now. Later, folks.