We got our first “real” snow of the season today. By “real” I mean more than an inch. I left the house a little early, and by “a little,” I mean… two minutes? The roads were terrible. We only had about two inches of snow, but I could detect no evidence of plow activity anywhere between my house and the interstate. So I crept along. I got to my first rider’s house at about 8:00 – roughly 20 minutes later than usual. She didn’t come out right away like she usually does, but she did come out in under two minutes. I never honk because I used to live in a neighborhood where people honked while I was trying to sleep, and it drove me up the wall. So I don’t do it.

Then we set out for her cousin’s house, again – creeping along? “Why are you going so slow?” she asked. “BECAUSE I DON’T WANT US ALL TO DIE!” I felt like saying. But instead I said “Because the roads are very slippery.” We got to her cousin’s house in a few minutes and she went in to get her. That’s what she does every morning.

When the school year first started, the two would come out of the house again in 30 seconds or less. Then it crept up to a minute. Today they hit five minutes, and I was just a wee bit fed up with that. So at the five minute mark, I called their house. It rang eight times. In the U.S., a ring is on for two seconds and off for four – so it’s six seconds per ring. That’s 48 seconds of phone ringing with no answer! By the eighth ring, the door opened, and the two girls ambled out. And just stood there. So I did that which I never do – I honked the horn. The didn’t pick up the pace. I have no idea what they were doing, but they were just… STANDING there! So I laid on the horn, rolled down the window and told them to get a move on. Once they were both in the car, I told them that tomorrow, if they didn’t get back to the car in one minute, I was going to leave without them. I think instead I will have the first girl stay in the car and I will just call. I’d prolly get in some kind of trouble if I dropped the first one off at the second one’s house (even though they’re cousins).

They explained the delay: “She wasn’t ready yet.” OK, I’m 30 minutes late, and she’s not ready yet? Excuse not accepted.

We finally made it to school at 8:30, half an hour late. I went in and grabbed a case of oranges. Someone from up north wanted another case and since I had to deliver one to Laconia today anyhow, I figured I’d do the two birds, one stone trick.

I got to work and banged my head against yesterday’s wall a little more. I think I may have made some progress, and the maddening thing about this bug I’m searching for is that I just KNOW it’s going to be something stupid.

After work I headed to Laconia and made my two fruit deliveries. By then the plows had come out, so it wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t GREAT or anything – just not too bad. Then I called Pizza Hut for our Wednesday order and stopped there on the way to the house. After eating the pizza, I went outside to crank up the snowblower.

Hmmm… Over the summer I had attempted to fix the clutch by installing a hand brake lever from a scrap bicycle. Only the clutch is way too stiff for that. Instead of the clutch lever rising, the brake handle bends. I had bought an eighth-inch diameter steel rod a couple of weeks ago in hopes of using it to rig something up. But job one was to remove the bike brake assembly (which was not too hard). Then I bent the steel rod around the lever, snaked it up the handle, and tied it in place with a broken snowblower belt. It’ll do for now. I couldn’t find the old clutch handle thing. I might have thrown it away, I don’t remember.

I had also removed a steel cover from the bottom of the transmission so I would have room to insert some bolts into the transmission housing to hold the brake cable. But I never put it back on. I found the cover OK, but I could not find the bolts that formerly held it in place. I figured I might be able to snowblow without the bolts, so I wheeled the beast into the driveway and filled the gas tank.

The engine started on the first pull, which made me very happy. I kicked it into gear, went maybe six feet and then the transmission cover plopped off into the snow. I killed the engine and made yet another attempt to find the cover screws. No luck. It’s just too dark in the garage. I went to the basement to see what I could find to cobble together a solution (I delude myself into thinking it will be a temporary solution, but I know myself well enough to know that this solution will be in place until I need to get into the transmission again.)

I used some cable ties and strapped the cover in place, snaking the cable ties through the bolt holes and cinching them down. That did the trick. The engine started again on the first pull, and I was in business.

I don’t know what it is about that snow blower, but it absolutely wears me out. Maybe it wouldn’t so much if it had a working clutch. When I want to turn, I have to wrestle with it – with a clutch, I could slow it down first. I guess. Anyhow, I wrestled with it long enough to get the driveway cleared and then came in the house.

Now I’m all worn out.