This morning before I went to work, Penny brought me a couple of basketballs to kick for her:

Penny brings me two basketballs

Penny brings me two basketballs

I am amazed that she can do this, but it must help that she has punctured both balls. That in itself is also pretty amazing. Still, basketballs hold up to her abuse a lot better than anything else she plays with. She absolutely shreds soccer balls.

Last winter she left one of those basketballs in the driveway, and then it got buried in about a foot (or more) of snow. Ah… a foot of snow! Those were the days! I didn’t know the basketball was there when I got out the snowblower, but I found out as soon as I sucked it into the auger. It was not able to process that, and the engine choked. The snowblower did put a couple of pretty big gashes in the ball, but Penny had punctured it before I did with the snowblower’s help.

Both of these balls still assume a round shape if left alone for a while. I can kick them a lot farther when they are round verses when they are flat. Penny doesn’t seem to care, as long as I kick them though.

It started snowing here sometime during the night. Beth’s school is out for winter break, and Jonathan’s classes were canceled. I needed to go to the office though, so I carefully drove in. It was slow going, but there were no problems.

Six of us went to an Indian restaurant for lunch, and I snapped this shot then:

Downtown Concord

Downtown Concord

I like it when the snow sticks to the trees.

I had come in to work Sunday evening, and was pretty well caught up with my work, so I bailed at 2:30 or so. I wanted to get home while the getting was good.

Road conditions had deteriorated significantly. I held to 30MPH on the Interstate. It wasn’t until I got off that the trouble started. They hadn’t plowed the secondary roads in Canterbury or in Northfield for a while (there was nine inches of new snow on the ground, and six inches of snow in the road). I was having a really hard time climbing the tiniest of hills, and was pretty worried about climbing an unpaved section. It was slow going, and there was plenty of tire spinning, but I made it up that hill eventually.

When I got to the road I live on, I was not able to get up the hill. I guess I was still 300 yards from home, so I called Va and had her dispatch Jonathan with a snow shovel. I just wanted to get my car out of the road and into a neighbor’s driveway. Between shoveling out a path and using the floor mats of my car for traction, we got the car off the road. Then I walked back to the house and got the snowblower. I snowblowed a track for the passenger side of my car on the way from the house, and did the same for the driver’s side on the way up. I parked the snowblower about halfway up, and fought the car all the way up the track I had made. Then I started snowblowing again, and told Jonathan to follow me up.

But he couldn’t. So we traded places. While I was struggling up the hill, a neighbor drove by and offered to pull me up the hill with his 4WD. I accepted his gracious offer, and he took me all the way to my driveway (which Jonathan had cleared earlier). I think I need to buy some new tires.

Whew! Now I’m pretty well exhausted.

We had six inches of snow on the ground when I got up this morning. School was cancelled for Jonathan, so I wasn’t in much of a hurry. I cranked up the snowblower and began clearing the driveway. This was a very wet, heavy, and sticky snow. In spite of my having raised the lip of the snowblower off the ground by three quarters of an inch to avoid picking up gravel, the snowblower was gulping it down anyhow. The wet snow was sticking to it and hauling it in. As a result, I broke a shear pin.

This snowblower has four shear pins instead of two like my last on did. So I still had three quarters of the auger running. I decided to press on without changing it. Up near the garage, I managed to pick up a good sized rock, and it got wedged between the blower and the blower housing. Clunk. Engine died. I had to get a long screw driver and a hammer to knock it out of there. And while I was at it, I went ahead and changed the shear pin. It started right up, and I finished the job. Then I went to work.

I left for home a little early, but not as early as I had intended to. I wanted to take a bunch of recycling to the recycling center, and they close at 5:00, so I needed to hustle. I got home, tossed three bags of newspapers into the trunk and five sacks of milk bottles into the back seat. Beth went with me. When we got there they wouldn’t let us in. They don’t allow anyone to enter after 4:45, and it was 4:48. That supposedly gives the people who are already there time to get out before they close. I say… what a crock. I didn’t yell at the attendant or anything, as I’m sure he’s just doing what he’s been told. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

Northfield sure makes it hard to recycle. They are only open two days a week, and that’s during business hours. Plus we have to separate everything. Paper, metal, glass (by color), and plastic (by type). I don’t have room to sort four dozen kinds of recyclables as I collect them, and I don’t have time to sort them when I take them to the station. I do not recycle everything I could, because it is such an ordeal. Instead, I just do newspaper, PETE, LDPE, and soda cans. And now even doing that is hard.

I may or may not try again in the morning. They open at 8:00, but there will prolly be another foot of new snow on the ground then, and Jonathan may have class to get to by 9:00. We’ll see what happens.

It was snowing when I went to work this morning. I guess another inch or so fell since last night, and the roads were worse today than they were yesterday. I fishtailed a little when I was on one of the back roads leading to the Interstate. The Interstate itself was not as bad, except that cars were creeeeeping along. I was late getting Beth to school.

It continued to snow all through the day. About one o’clock I got a call from Va. She had missed the driveway to the church/school and went into a snow bank. She was pretty well stuck. She had been going there early to key in the library card catalog data, and I assume that’s why she was there at 1:00 today. I got in my car and was there in about 15 minutes. First I went down to the Pathfinder trailer to get some rope. I found some 5/8″ nylon and then parked my car near hers. As I was tying the rope onto our cars, a State Trooper came and offered to stop traffic while I attempted to pull her out. But it was no use. All my car would do was spin. I untied the rope and parked in the church lot, and the trooper called a tow truck. Va went in and (I presume) entered card catalog data. I waited in my car and listened to the radio. The truck was there in about an hour I guess, and he managed to pull her car out in short order. Thanks to AAA, it cost me nothing. I parked her car in the church lot and then went in and told Va that the deed had been done. Then I went back to the office.

When I got home, we had about four inches of snow on the ground. I decided it was high time the boys had snowblower lessons. Since I have a new snowblower that is far easier to control and which will stop when you let go of it, I figured they were man enough to handle that. So after supper we went out. I showed them all the controls. Jonathan started the engine and cleared out a little less than half the driveway.

On his last pass he was turning around near the garage with the auger off, but still scooping up snow. David was standing on the sidewalk. I could see this one coming, though neither David nor Jonathan did (or so they say). About the time Jonathan got the snowblower even with David, he enabled the auger, and snow came barrelling out the chute, right into David’s face.

I thought it was pretty funny! David laughed too, so he must have been in a good mood. Jonathan blew a little more and then bravely handed the snowblower over to his brother. David pretty much finished the rest, and Jonathan escaped unscathed. I did want to clean up a little more out near the road, so I took the snowblower from David and they both went in the house.

Now I should be able to call the house on a snowy day and have them clear the driveway before I get home. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to see how well that works.

Last night it started to snow. I don’t know when it stopped, but when I rolled out of bed this morning we had six inches of it on the driveway. The forecast was for it to be a heavy, wet snow, but that’s where they missed it. It was light and powdery. I cranked up the new snowblower and had it cleared relatively quickly. Then I went to work.

Where it was dead.

I guess that between the holiday (for students, teachers, bankers, and government employees) and the snow, a lot of people opted to “work from home.” I’m no good at working from home. I just can’t find my working mojo from the couch. Or the dining room. Or the bedroom. So I always go in if at all possible.

Today is my wife’s birthday, and wouldn’t you know it, I was fresh out of duct tape.

So after breakfast, Beth and I headed to Tilton to get some, and we figured we might get a present for Va while we were out. A little birdie told me that she might want a particular brand of perfume. Luckily, Lowes (duct tape) is located right next door to Kohls (perfume). So we stopped at both places.

When we got home, Beth ran upstairs, got some wrapping paper, and we wrapped the gift together. Va was happy with the gift (not surprisingly). In a little while we all headed over to Outback for lunch.

Then the boys and I went to our Pathfinder meeting. Tonight we worked on Knot Tying, which is one of the things I really like about Pathfinders. I know lots of knots, and that really does come in handy. Especially if you’re teaching knots to kids.

I have them mounting the knots on pine boards. Sometimes they will tie several, and then glue them down. Eventually, they label them, but sometimes they cannot remember the name of some knot (and sometimes, they can’t remember the names of lots of unlabelled knots). But I can tell by examining them.

It seems that every year I have a kid ask me to teach them how to tie a hangman’s noose, but this is something I refuse to do. I know how to tie one. I met another man about ten years ago who wouldn’t teach kids to tie that one either, and I asked him about it. His response seemed pretty solid to me. “What if you taught a kid to tie that knot and he actually used it?”

I am very glad I did adopt that policy myself, because I have had more than one kid in my Pathfinder Club fail in a suicide bid. Maybe they would not have failed if I had taught them how to do that particular deed effectively (though they didn’t make the attempts by hanging in either case).

On the way home from the meeting we got a call from the birthday girl. She wanted us to pick up some buttermilk. So off we went to the grocery store, and while we were there, I picked up an orchid (and some buttermilk) for her.

It was snowing pretty heavily on the way home. We’re supposed to get six inches or so the last I heard. We’ll see if that prediction holds in the morning.

Today Beth and I went to the Lowes in Tilton and bought four dozen rolls of R13 insulation. I paid for it today (meaning we can take advantage of the tax credit this year), but they won’t deliver it until Monday. Va looked into the tax credit thing, and for every buck you spend insulating, Unka Sam pays 30 cents. That covered the delivery charge by a factor of two.

Now I need to get my butt in gear and use up the stuff that’s already in the attic so I have a place to put the 48 new rolls.

It was snowing when we left the house. While we were in Lowes, a full inch accumulated on the back windshield of my car. All told we got three inches. It stopped sometime in the afternoon, and I cleared the driveway at about 4:00pm with my brand-spankin’-new snowblower.

In a little bit we’ll head over to the church for a New Years party. But we need to eat some supper first. Jonathan is making burritos, and as soon as those are ready, we’ll chow down. Va’s going to stay home and work on a secret project that she was supposed to have finished a mailed off a couple of weeks ago. I’d give more details, but… it’s secret? Maybe?

Snowing in Concord

Snowing in Concord

Yesterday I was wishing it would snow again since the rain made bare spots in the lawn. Today I got my wish. I was sitting at my desk with my back to the window oblivious to the weather. Then I turned around and this is what I saw. Snowflakes as big as basketballs. Well, maybe golf balls. They were big for snowflakes anyhow. I guess we got two inches.

When I got home the first thing I did was clear the driveway with my new snowblower. I am pleased to report that I didn’t even break a sweat as I did this. With the old snowblower, I would most definitely break a sweat every time. Maybe I shoulda kept it around though, because I really don’t get all that much exercise.

Once the driveway was cleared Beth and I trudged our way across the road to our neighbors and brought them the last fruit basket. I would have brought it to them on Christmas Day, but I saw them leave just before noon, and they were gone for a long time. Go figger!

The guy from Craigslist showed up and bought my old snowblower today. Jonathan was the only one home, so he helped him load it and took the guy’s $50. Yay! Jonathan said that the guy figured the humor in my ad was worth the $50. But maybe he’s just trying to earn brownie points with me. If so, it’s working!

Here’s the ad.

This is an ancient snowblower probably built during the Ford Administration, but I’m not positive. International Harvester went out of business in 1984, so this beast dates to before then. The engine runs remarkably well, and I was able to start it on the second pull when I got it out for the winter. But then I ran it out of gas and couldn’t get it restarted (I tried again today, and it started on the third pull – go figure). In frustration, I went to the store and bought a new one.

This thing is a tank. But you shouldn’t think “M1 Abrams” when I say that. It would be more accurate to think “Republican Guard circa 1991.” A soviet-built tank abandoned on the side of the road. On fire.

My old snowblower is of course not in mint condition. The master clutch lever is gone. It was sheared off last year. I found the lever and set it atop the garbage can with the intent of fixing it the following day. However, the following day was trash day, and my son took the lever off the lid, deposited it in the barrel, and wheeled it out to the end of the driveway. It was long gone when I got home from work. I had intended to someday fabricate a new master clutch lever, but the screen door spring I pressed into service held it engaged well enough that I never got around to it.

The drive clutch handle broke off too, but I never did find it. Instead, I made a new clutch handle from a caulk gun. It works rather well, even better than the original did. One of the handlebars broke a weld joint last year too, so I cobbled a new one together from a length of steel conduit. Not the prettiest repair job, but quite functional.

This machine was built back in the days when men were men and snowblowers did not have all those sissy safety features they have today. If you let go of this while it is running, it will just keep going. If it’s headed for the garage, it will claw its way right through the back wall, then continue down the back yard into the woods where it will plow over trees and run over ground-nesting birds and mammals both large and small. It would only affect deaf critters though, as this thing would give a jet engine a run for its money on the decibel scale. They will hear it from a mile off.

If you don’t have a problem with that, then this is the snowblower for you. I have several spare shear pins and a couple of replacement belts that you can have with it. It also comes with tire chains. I’ll take $50 for it or the best offer that comes around.

I got two bites on my snowblower. The first one sounded promising, but then he just disappeared. I made the mistake of waving off the second one because the first guy was pending. By the time I gave up on the first one, the second guy had already found another (almost certainly better) snowblower elsewhere. I was about ready to turn to despair, but now, I’ve got a third bite. It remains to be seen if I can land him.

In other Craigslist news… I saw a garage canopy listed for free last night, and the ad was only 30 minutes old. So I responded. The Pathfinders use these structures when we camp, as they make fabulous kitchens/dining rooms, especially since it rains heavily three camping trips out of four. The guy who listed the canopy got back to me saying I was a couple of minutes too late, but that he would rather have given it to our club. He also said that if his guy one fell through, I’d get the next shot at it.

And his guy one did fall through. So I made arrangements to go get it today at 2:00pm. I figured it would be easier if I had Jonathan along to help me, so I called Va and asked her to bring him in when she came to get Beth from school. Oh – and please get my roof rack.

Just after 1:00 pm, the guy with the canopy called me back asking if I could come tomorrow instead. Look, for a free garage canopy, I can bend over backwards. Those things run $300 new (though this one is not new). So I called Va to wave her off from bringing Jonathan in, but I was too late. They were already on the road. Sans my roof rack, so it was a good thing the guy wanted to wait until tomorrow.

I have made arrangements with Ken now to borrow his truck tomorrow. His wife will drive it to work (which is near where I work), and I will swap vehicles with her, then go get the canopy. Then swap vehicles again.

But just in case, my roof rack is now in the trunk of my car.