Thursday, February 19, 2015

Done -- But at What Price?

The massive mound on my second floor deck is no more. Given the forecast for rain on Sunday, I couldn't leave it un-dealt-with any longer. So as I slid the door open I braced cardboard in the opening to stop any mini-avalanche (though it's packed down enough not to be much of a threat that way, anyway) and after knocking down a multitude of icicles with my trusty snow shovel began attacking the chin-high drift.

I worked slowly, with frequent brief rest stops, for about half an hour and got a lot of it on one side over/through/under the railings. Then I went and lay down on my bed for a while, then went downstairs to finish the morning cat chores. The felines, I found, were mildly freaked out by the snowfalls I'd been creating.

After a bit I went back upstairs and resumed the attack. I could only get the slider partway open, and couldn't go out on the deck itself to work since I was still in my fuzzy mukluk slippers, but by stretching from the doorway I was able to clear all but a final rimwall from the far side of the deck -- well, for a certain value of "clear"; there's still around half a packed foot on the deck surface, but I've gotten off at least 75 percent of what had been out there. So now I shouldn't have to worry about the deck collapsing.

I may collapse, though. Never mind waking up tomorrow stiff and sore; I've got immediate aches in my bad ankle and my phony hip. My lower back is grumbling. My brachial plexus has some rather bitter things to say too. We'll see whether the ibuprofen can settle them down; if not, I do have a small stash of oxycodone left over from the surgery recovery. Don't want to use it; haven't needed to for over a year; but if I'm in real pain after I run the daily errands and don't have to go out and drive again, well....

And then, next week, there'll be ice. Dear Merciless God, there'll be ice. I'm going to check out Peapod.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Another Problem Solved

So I dodged an icy bullet today.

I've been worrying about one of the icicles growing ever downward from the eaves above my deck, the massively menacing one that pointed down into the gap between the deck and the privacy fence. Down, ever down, till it stretched from the second-floor eave to halfway down the first story. Down toward the gas pipe feeding my home, entering the basement wall a good foot-plus above ground level.

That pipe runs along the edge of the pit I've cleared around the dryer vent and furnace air intake, close to the privacy fence and partially covered with a steep snow slope -- but if the icicle fell it would crash right into the exposed part of the pipe. What would happen if it broke I'd rather not contemplate, not least because a gigantic drift has buried the pipe and the meter just past the exposed part, and beyond the meter there's also the air conditioner compressor and a large bush blocking access underneath the snow. And that's not even considering how the hell a gas repair crew would get access to the rear of the condo complex to begin with.


So this afternoon I dragged a six-foot aluminum folding ladder up from the basement, along with a snow shovel and a hay bale tote bag. The cats took one horrified look and fled. Having maneuvered everything out into the tiny cleared path snaking from the slider to the deck rail along the head-high deck drift, I leaned over the railing, cleared some snow from the edge of the pit, then wrestled the ladder over the rail and got its top propped against the privacy fence, sloping down over the pipe, and jammed its legs into the snow alongside the deck. Then I draped the flattened hay bale tote over the ladder to cover the gaps between the ladder sides and treads.

I looked up at the menacing icicle. It dripped menacingly at me. I reached out and up with the shovel and tapped it a few inches from its menacingly dripping tip.

Instantly the entire menacing monster broke loose and smashed down onto my makeshift shield. Large menacing chunks of menacingly drippy ice flew in all directions -- but the pipe protection held firm!

I did then have to plant the shovel in the snow to support myself as I leaned precariously down over the rail to clear away some still menacing chunks that had jammed between the pipe shield and the dryer vent flaps, but that was swiftly done and I was able to retreat back inside, scattering random clumps of snow on the carpet and brandishing my shovel. No cats, alas, were on hand to witness my triumphant return.

I'll have to keep an eye on things out there, make sure any future accumulations (like what's forecast for this weekend, sob) don't block the air access around the sides of the shield, but I feel ever so much safer now.

For those of you who don't know, here's a picture of a hay bale bag. It's about four feet long. If I feel sufficiently ambitious tomorrow, I'll take a picture of my handiwork.

Flying Cat

Many years ago I was lying in a clawfoot bathtub, quietly soaking, with the bathroom door open. Beastie came hurtling in, intent on leaping into the bathtub to hide, wildeyed, from whoever was pursuing her at the time -- a favorite game in the feline tribe. She zoomed in, bounded hugely onto the edge of the tub....

.. saw in one shocked and horrified instant that she was about to plunge into water....

... changed her trajectory to leap OVER me, hit the wall on the other side of the tub with all four feet, sproing off it, land back on the tub edge, and race out of the bathroom.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Adventures on a post-blizzard deck

So we've been walloped twice in less than a week with mass quantities of snow -- first, over two feet's worth in the blizzard last week, then another 17 inches on Monday. My deck is buried in a drift that peaks over four feet.

That bit of black bar is the top of a metal deck chair. And those furrows along the top of the snow... whatever could they be?

From the mound on the deck the tunneling proceeds down the snow slope in the gap between the railing and the privacy fence:

Down, down, all the way to the pit where my digging and the hot air blast from the dryer and water heater have excavated a pit in the snow:

And those shots were how it looked yesterday. Today, whatever has been tracking and tunneling through the snow had expanded its realm; yesterday's tunnels have been enlarged and improved upon. See that dark triangle to the right of the post?

Let's take a closer look. Yup, the tunnel runs right along the deck planter, no doubt emerging at the outer rail of the deck.

Yes, that's the planter that's sitting on the top rail of the deck. That's how deep the snow drifted -- all 17 inches on top of the two-plus feet from the blizzard. Whatever's been digging through there has constructed an impressive highway.

There are lots of squirrels around here; my thinking during the day has been those rascals were/are responsible for the byway-building.

But wait! I'll be darned!

May not have been squirrels making those tunnels in the snow after all!

Just now, I was sitting in the living room and saw first Schooner, then Peanut hurry to the slider to the deck and stare out, entranced. I got up and came to see what they found so fascinating.

There, sitting in the snow, its wee nose right up against the glass, was....

A rabbit!

A little brown wild rabbit, looking in at the cats looking at it, and not in the least dismayed into flight at my appearance. It twitched its nose a couple of times, then calmly turned and hopped in a loop back to the top of the snow mound and paused.

I rushed to the dining room table -- no camera. I'd put it back in the car. When I came back to the living room the bunny was gone, though the cats still sat staring out into the snowy darkness.

And so ends another adventure in the exurban wilderness.... For now. Who knows what other surprises are lurking out there?