Thursday, January 29, 2009

A crackling flag day

That is going to be my new idiom for days when the snows come down and the freezing rain makes everything difficult--a Crackling Flag day, for the sound a frozen stiff with ice flag makes as it shifts in the frozen wintry breeze.


Wednesday was one of those raggedy days where I woke up in a surly mood and the hecticness of the remaining hours just drove me further and further into a funk of unhappiness. Bad times.

I knew it was going to be bad weather wise. The weathermen predicted a mix of snow, freezing rain, and more snow. So the driveway had to be shoveled out this morning and what I was pushing around was yesterday evenings inch of snow topped with a half-inch (?) of ice on top. I was gingerly moving my way down the sloping driveway, crunching the icy crust and tossing segments of the ice/snow cake into the yard with a moisture laden thump. But I wasn't in too much of a hurry. The schools were closed today, so the girls were either staying home or going to the daycare for the day.

But when Grace woke up, she appeared to be developing symptoms of pink eye--highly contagious and a notorious daycare no-no. So, I took Hannah to school and Mom hoped to stay home and work (the older kids can usually be trusted to play by themselves and let us do work for stretches when we stay home with them). NOTE: Grace was fine. No pink eye.

The drive to daycare was a harbinger of the rest of the day. The roads were completely unplowed and only filling up more with snow. But it wasn't far from our house to the center, so I drove slowly and made it there in fine shape. When I dropped Hannah off, the teacher indicated they might be closing the center early. So, when I drove back home to switch cars, I told Lynda about that and told her that if the center did close, I would come home from the office to help out.

Then I drove to work.

The roads were fine, really. Not plowed, but semi-cleared by the repetition of other drivers passing over. Again, I drove slowly and made it to work without much trouble. Not many others were on the road as I neared 9 am, but that only made it better. Snow continued to fall. The ice had stopped earlier that morning.

When I got to the office, I saw that almost no one from my department had driven in to work. But it was still only 9 am. Surely people were just driving more slowly? And I didn't have much time to think about it anyway, as I had to turn around in thirty minutes to have my week-after-surgery eye doctor visit. The really unfortunate part about that was that the doctor's office was in downtown Columbus, twenty minutes away, straight down the Interstate. But, I had called ahead and they were open.

So, I did next to nothing at the office, downed some coffee, and got back in the car. The snow was continuing to fall, filling up the parking lot and reducing visibility. I pulled onto the Interstate, successfully driving over the churned up snow that always accumulates in areas where cars turn, cross lanes, and drop their snow piles as inertia shifts. These drifts can be problematic, but if you keep moving and turn slowly, you can plow through them.

Plows . . . yeah, what ABOUT those? Where WERE the plows all day today? If they were busy plowing streets and highways, they weren't anywhere near me. I drove all the way down to downtown C-bus--at about 35 miles an hour--in the semi blinding flurries, guessing where the lanes were and basically staying behind the cars in front of me and not too close to the ones beside me. It was nerve-racking, but necessary. And I got there on time to find a waiting room completely devoid of any other patients.

So, I had my appointment (all good news. I can now go back to my regular eye doctor for final prescription adjustment) and then drove BACK up the still unplowed highway, in more blinding snow to get back to the office. But this time, my windshield wipers were icing up and I couldn't stop on the side of the highway to break off the ice. I also didn't want to pull off the highways into who knew what condition of surface street, afraid I might get stuck somewhere else. I just kept the wheels turning, cranked the defroster to HI/HOT and crouched to see out of the part of the windshield that wasn't becoming frozen. Not the best idea, I grant you, but I was already in the midst of it. And I wasn't driving fast anyway.

It all worked and I got back to the office just in time for lunch--not having accomplished any actual work yet. After lunch, I heard from Lynda that she had just finished reshoveling the driveway and was going to get Hannah from daycare, fearing that the roads would grow worse later in the day. She requested I come home as soon as possible.

So, I made the command decision to turn around and give up on the office. Before I left, however, Lynda called me again to say that when she arrived back at the house, she slid in the driveway and ended up sideways, halfway up. 

 . . . yeah . . .

When I got home, the van was back at the bottom of the driveway and pointed OUT toward the street. She had enlisted the help of two neighbors to right the van somehow. But the icy conditions on our sloping drive caused two people to fall during the van extraction. I cautiously parked on the side of the road and got to work attempting to clear the driveway for use. 

It became clear that the ice was pretty bad. I nearly fell and when I hit the sloping part, I had almost no traction at all. I began sliding and just gave up. I parked both cars at the end of the driveway out of the road and hopefully clear of any plowed, thrown snow. (HA!! See above for the likelihood of that happening, apparently.) Lynda put down some ice melt and we waited.

The older girls played outside in the afternoon for a while until their feet got cold and then they and the neighbor girl came over and made a mess of the house for the rest of the afternoon. I occupied Hannah once she got up from her nap and I reconciled myself to the fact that I was counting this as a vacation day and would NOT get any work done. Lynda tried her best to work, work, work, and catch up while kids played around her. (I kept Hannah in the basement for the most part.) It was a wearying, stressful, difficult afternoon.

Eventually, I got back outside and hacked away at the melted, slushing ice enough to get both cars safely back up the slope and into the garage. (Hopefully we make it back down again tomorrow with no significant difficulty.) I'm mentally done for the day and just want to watch TV.


I noticed during this day that when I get angry and stressed by the unpredictableness of weather, kids out of school, no work getting done, weary of snow-blind driving . . . when I get in this stirred up, surly mood, I try to maintain order. That usually means I start picking up messes and folding laundry. But that usually means I must first stomp around griping about the messes being left by kids who abandon one lump of toys in this room to go play with toys in THAT room and then mutter about all the laundry. THEN I grudgingly start picking stuff up, throwing papers away, folding things, and attempting to make something in an unsettling, flag-cracking day, make sense to me.


Papa said...

Wow! This was worse than last year when we were there for Hannah's birth. Makes me glad I live in GA.


Anonymous said...

the thought of you driving through those awful conditions to get your eyes checked is hilarious!