Sunday, December 16, 2007
Thursday's sky was gray and hinted at things that would become far worse than the dismal day's beginning. My Mom had plans to head to the mall with a friend. Amanda and I had a couple quick errands in town. First, I headed to Dr. W's office to repair the soundboard in the last reed organ rebuild. The blasting heat of the waiting room had dried the board creating three major cracks. I made temporary repairs. Hopefully enough to get through the winter, and in the spring I'll reassess the damage and make permanent repairs. When I returned home A and I did the errands and then she got ready for work. My Mom phoned to say that they were heading home as it was starting to snow. They were hoping to beat it home, but within five minutes of her call it was snowing here, too. The weatherman had predicted up to eight inches, starting early afternoon and tapering off by eight that night. It had started two hours early. I was dreading driving Amanda to work. Not so much the trip in the daylight hours as the return trip at 7 p.m. during the worst of the storm. As my Mom reminded me, "You've done it before, it won't be too bad."
Around the same time as the snow was starting to fall, I checked the front porch for any UPS deliveries. I was expecting at least one set of keys that day. I opened the door and laughed aloud. Stacked immediately at the foot of the steps were three large boxes. All full of keys. All from Florida. Climate shocked I'm sure! I hauled the boxes downstairs. Then I checked to see if the mail person had delivered. Oh yes, another box of keys, these from New Hampshire. I carried that box downstairs. Four sets of keys for new tops... all arriving at once... all with a guaranteed three to four day turnaround time. Yikes.
I no sooner got everything organized in the workshop before it was time to take Amanda to work. We made the trip in the mini-van with it's front wheel drive. It's much better on snowy roads. It was slow going. A steady slow pace up Great Hill and shift down into second gear for heading down the big hill, with the curve at the bottom, to Nugent Stretch. We bypassed the normal turn down the steep incline near Stop & Shop in favor of a longer somewhat flatter route. Having successfully and safely delivered A to work, I found myself wishing that I had told her to call in 'sick'. I really didn't want to make the trip back in the dark. Well, at least I had a lot of work to keep my mind occupied for the rest of the afternoon. I tried not to look outside, knowing that conditions just had to be getting worse. The news people kept repeating, "DON'T go out if you don't have to. Stay indoors and off the roads." Oh marvelous. I tried to concentrate on the key work.
By six o'clock I was getting anxious to get the drive over with. Maybe, if I got there at about six-thirty, Amanda's manager might let her leave a half hour early. Certainly there wouldn't be many people out shopping. Rumor had it that even the three shopping malls had closed. Commuter traffic was at a standstill with typical 15 minute drives taking 3 hours or more. Folks were getting stranded on the highways. Windshield wipers were either icing up or totally quitting functioning. Cars were running out of gas. One newscaster reported that her 45 minute drive in normal conditions had taken her 5 hours and 45 minutes in the storm. After a slick and treacherous drive, with Gloucester's traffic lights out from an earlier collision, I arrived at Stop & Shop just before 6:30. There were only three other cars in the lot. As I pulled in to a parking space (I think, hard to tell with all the snow) all sorts of traction system warning lights lit up the dashboard. I turned off the van and the warnings went out...and then lit up again! Huh? How can that happen and why? This made me even more panicked about the drive home.
The walk to the doors was almost as scary as the drive to the store. The lot was only partially plowed and I had to trudge through deep mounds to get to the sidewalk. Under all the snow was hiding a slick sheet of ice. Inside the store was dead of activity. Cashiers and front-end clerks were wandering around with nothing to do. I found A's manager and asked the question, "Considering the nasty driving conditions and lack of customers in the store, would it be possible for A to leave a half hour early?" You'd of thought I'd asked her for the moon. The amount of umming and ahhing and whining that came from this woman's mouth astounded me. I gave up and sat on a bench at the front of the store and waited. Finally, fifteen minutes later, she decided that yes, Amanda could leave.
A deep breath to brace myself for the tension filled drive home and A and I left the building. Amanda immediately slipped on the hidden ice and fell. I had forgotten to warn her. Thankfully she didn't hurt herself badly, but later felt a bit bruised and sore. We got the van cleared off of the incredible amount of snow and ice that had accumulated in only a half hour and jumped in. I started the van and turned the wipers on. They didn't budge. Nothing. I got out and banged them free of a few stubborn ice crystals. Back in to try again. Nothing. I was getting angry. I shut of the engine and told Amanda that I thought we would probably have to call a taxi and come back for the van in the morning. More aggravation. In one last attempt I started the engine and tried the wipers.
They worked! I guess the threat of spending a night alone in the cold, dark parking lot scared them!
Now, just to drive home.............
We arrived at 7:30. Typically a less than ten minute drive in thirty minutes. Drive, first gear, second, third, drive....we had repeated the routine many times up and down hills and around corners and we made it. Average speed about 10 mph. No warning lights from the dashboard. Home felt good.
Friday and Saturday were spent in a frantic combination of shoveling and key work. Every part of me aches. Well nearly. Shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers, back, knees, ankles. I've spent a total of 12 hours each day either moving snow, clearing cars, or standing at a workbench. As of Saturday night, two sets of keys are completed. I'll be finishing the other two sets today. Monday I'll make my shipper happy when I arrive with four large boxes. Then it'll be off to two tunings. Two on Tuesday, too. And another Wednesday morning.
Today's forecast is for a Nor'easter. Up to another four inches of snow, sleet, maybe turning to rain then back to sleet again. High winds. Amanda is scheduled to work from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. I woke up to an odd blue-gray cast to my room. I looked over at the clock. It was 6:30 a.m. I looked towards the windows. Couldn't see a thing. They were completely glazed over with fine snow. Upon a quick check through the somewhat clear kitchen windows, I see that the plow came sometime during the night. But most of the front road is covered back in with the blowing and drifting snow. It's difficult to tell that it was once plowed. The back road where my driveway turns from has not been plowed yet. It's almost a foot deep in drifts. I'm doubting that Amanda will have transportation to work today!