Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I know you're all curious.

The storm sideswiped Chicagoland, although you just have to drive 30 miles west of here to get into the foot of snow from the main storm as it traveled through Iowa and made a right turn into Wisconsin and then a left turn in Michigan.

It started yesterday as snow. We were sent home at 2:15 because of the advancing storm. At 3:06 p.m., it started snowing.

It was beautiful in the dark of the street lights, coming down very hard. I went out on the deck with some tea for about 20 minutes around 6:30. But it was starting to turn into that "wintry mix" the weather people talk about. That's the sleet, rain, snow mix, when it's 33-34 and can't decide exactly what it wants to do. Mike, from the office's wife asks, "Why do they call it a 'wintry mix'? That sounds like a coffee from Starbucks."

It became full sleet about 8:30 and sounded like sand hitting the house. That turned into a steady drizzle overnight changing back into snow in the morning. You can see by my footprints that it's really slushy.

We had snow this morning. Then it quit and now it's snowing again. The wind is slowly picking up as the temps are dropping. We were sent home again because once this storm passes and the winds come, the dropping temperatures are going to freeze this. Roads were still wet when we left this afternoon. I came home and shoveled the front walk.

There is an inch of water saturated snow under two inches of crusty snow. Now, we're supposed to get 3 inches on top of this. If you didn't get things shoveled before this, it's going to be really hard when it's over.

The thing about these kinds of storms, it gets really dark early because it's so overcast. And I have to weigh the merits of good snow photos with water getting on the camera.

Depending upon just how bad it is tomorrow, I have the authority to cancel work if I think it's just too dangerous for the guys to drive to the office in or if I can't get out of my drive due to a drift. That's what happened last year twice. The snow received was followed by high winds. I spent part of the day I was home from work making a path to the street. Even a Jeep with 4-wheel drive can't navigate some drifts. They are too deep.

My mother and I were remembering this kind of weather in the 1960's. She said these kinds of blizzards aren't anything new. If you live in the midwest, this is a fact of life. What's different now is that there was ample warning that this was going to be bad. She said the warnings started on Sunday so there was time to go get supplies and be prepared. When I was growing up on the farm, we might have had 6 hours notice.

We remembered the winter, I'm thinking it was January of 1968, when the power was out for 5 days straight. We would save all our newspapers from mid-November on and, periodically, while watching Ed Sullivan and Bonanza, spend time balling up all the pages and putting the balls in boxes. Then, when the power would go out and the electric auger which kept coal supplied to the furnace wouldn't work, we'd take a box of newspaper balls to the furnace to keep the coal lighted.

See, coal burns at a hotter temperature than wood. Although we had a couple cords of wood in the basement to get the furnace going in the morning, the coal would either compact or get so full of ash that the new shovels you tossed in wouldn't ignite. Move the ash around, stir the coal still glowing and then toss in a box of newspaper balls with the next couple of shovels full and, in roughly 10 minutes, you have a roaring fire again. If the coal was too far gone, you'd add several sticks of wood just to get it going again. No, it's not the most efficient heat, but it's exceptionally warm and toasty in the winter.

The half inch that's fallen is light and powdery. I might go out later and sweep it off the front steps and the deck. Mmmmmm I think I'll make some hot cocoa.

Beverage: Coke


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