Monthly Archives: December 2013

Weather-driven Decisions

driveway2 This is my driveway. I have written about it before and, while is looks quite benign this morning, it is virtually unusable in the winter. After the last snowfall and icefall (is there such a thing?) I blogged about feeling trapped and paid lots to get access to my car and to the street. The driveway “up top” is flat and I pay to have it plowed. However, if I’m parked there they can’t plow and still have to shovel out in front and back of the car. One of the guys from Homer’s Construction recommended a small parking pad made of composite (whatever that is) that would make plowing easier and more efficient. I agreed of course since I always seem to defer to the experts!

Yesterday I returned at lunchtime (having gone to S&T, filled the tank with gas, and bought groceries in anticipation of the terrible weather we’re supposed to get) to see a dump truck and earth moving equipment plus two trucks at the top of the driveway. My little parking pad was under construction (which really just involved dumping stones onto the dirt) but I still couldn’t see the sense of it. Once it was done, I was summoned up top, moved my car to the new pad, and Jay (Tim’s brother) proceeded to explain to me why this was a good thing. parkingpad2

I’m still not sure how this benefits me — I know it makes it easier to plow the driveway and apparently then I can “zoom right out,” according to Jay. It will also ensure that they don’t hit the fence again and, Jay says, ice won’t accumulate because they can plow efficiently. So, another weather-driven decision for me and I’m hoping it’s the last. Meanwhile, it’s sunny and quite nice out, but snow is still predicted for the next four days. Low on Friday is supposed to be -8, high today is 31. But…I can get out of my driveway after it’s plowed! Planning my escape has become my obsession!

His Mother Was a Nun

Yesterday was a very gloomy day with dire predictions for the week’s weather. That doesn’t help one’s mood when I’m already suffering the winter doldrums, so I filled the tank with gas and headed to S&T Auto to have the car serviced. That way I could pack up and leave anytime I want to without much stress. I also had a new parking pad poured which the guys swear will give me easier access almost immediately after plowing (see tomorrow’s post with photos!). So, what does this have to do with nuns? It’s really about S&T Auto.

S&T is about 15 miles down PA 739, a main road between Lords Valley and Dingman’s Ferry. The Dingman’s Bridge over the Delaware is the last privately owned bridge over the Delaware and is still owned and operated by descendants of the three brothers that moved another bridge to its current location in 1900. It connects Pike County with Sussex County in New Jersey. But I digress. S&T is owned and operated by a colorful pair who may or may not be retired policemen depending on who you ask. They are crossword puzzle fanatics and sit in the little office overseeing several mechanics who take wonderful care of my car. The office itself can’t be more than 8×8 so conversation is intimate. Now to the nun part.

When I walked in yesterday morning, knowing I was early but since I was already out and partway there, it made sense to go and sit for a bit. There’s inappropriate joke telling, always conversation about travel to Florida and how ridiculous I am to drive, and the benefits and disadvantages of having a dog. So I was not surprised to find a conversation in progress with another customer. As I opened the door, I heard, “Yes, his mother was a nun.” One of them said, “What? I guess she left the convent,” to which the other replied, “Of course, and married a Jewish guy.” This just can’t get any better! Once this was all sorted out, they discussed who had more relatives that were nuns. My friend, one of the owners, said his sister was a nun, but the man waiting for his car trumped it all. “I have two aunts, twins, who are nuns. Twin nuns!” Then he collected his car, wished everyone a Happy New Year, and left.

The conversation then took a turn to travel to Florida, how was I going to go, why would I drive when it’s so easy to fly and rent a car, and why do people own dogs that limit their travel. Not nearly as interesting and engaging as the nun conversation! A few minutes later, my car was ready, we all said our Happy New Years, I was told to drive safely and see you again in 3500 miles! You just never know what you will hear at S&T! And, I’m ready to escape when necessary!

Help! I’m Trapped in a Postcard

deck
Isn’t it beautiful? So, why do I feel like I’m trapped, hemmed in, imprisoned, unreachable? Well…that’s a bit dramatic since I can get to my car if I need to although the stairs are no longer visible and are totally covered in snow. My yearly plowing contract for which I pay A LOT doesn’t seem to be in effect on the weekend although I am still hopeful.

What’s different this year from last year when I enjoyed the challenge of getting access, finding my way up the stairs, starting the car, going to the dump and mail room? Last year it was finding ways to survive my first winter and learning how to winterize the house, stack firewood, make fires that keep the room warm, and still going to the diner and into the city. This year, however, it’s more chores and sometimes going through the motions. accumulation

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve only been home since Thursday night after a wonderful couple of days in New York City and Brooklyn. On Wednesday night, we all went to Sotto Voce, a terrific restaurant in Park Slope and had a family dinner (unfortunately minus Allison who was not feeling well) that couldn’t have been more fun. On Thursday I babysat Riley for a few hours while Rachel worked and what a joy that was! Yesterday, while the snow fell heavily, I wrote out all my Christmas cards, did some online shopping in case I can’t get to the stores, and built a beautiful roaring fire that cozied up the place. Today, more firewood stacking and am so lucky to have the luxury of being able to sit and read, watch football and count my blessings.

There are many things I am thankful for in the snow-filled days — not losing power, having plenty of food and wine in the house, being able to leave if I really want to make the effort, and having friends and family who email, call, contact me on Facebook, and otherwise support my snow-bound whining. The sun is shining now and maybe we will even have some melting leaving of course ice underneath!! icicles Killer icicles are dripping a bit so it could always be worse. In the meantime, my challenge for winter number two is to get used to it, either stay in and find stuff to do, or get out there and stop complaining. I am not totally isolated since living in this community provides me with plenty of resources should I need them. Today I’m wishing for a house that is more accessible — without the steep curvy driveway and stairs — but meanwhile at least it’s in a picture postcard perfect setting! Come visit. Bring your snowshoes!

When Stubborn becomes Stupid!

I have written a lot about access to my house, the ridiculously steep and curvy driveway and the 40 stairs to the top driveway at street level. However, I have never had an issue with getting to my car or getting out — until now. In spite of the fact that Sydney slid across the yard trying to reach the trees which indicated that the yard was a solid sheet of ice, and flying in the face of all the dire weather reports about ice, etc., I decided to try and get to my car which you can just see at the top of the steps. icystairs I took a small container of ice melt with me of course and was only to the stairs and most of it was gone. Not that it was doing any good mind you. The handrails were covered with thick ice so nothing to hold onto. Any reasonable person would turn around and go back into the warm house, heat up a cup of coffee, and catch up on the months of New Yorkers sitting on my chair. But not me! I was determined not to feel trapped and to get to the top!

So I soldiered on thinking that the spaces between the steps that are filled with gravel would be okay. They were not and were solid ice as well. The garbage can that is about 2/3 up the steps has more ice melt in it so I was convinced that upon reaching that all would be well. I did, pounded the ice off the top and started scooping ice melt with my hands into the now-empty container. I realized at that point that I was well and truly stuck and needed to make a decision so I kept going and reached the top. Now out of ice melt again, I was immediately made aware that the driveway was also a solid sheet of ice and there was no way I could reach the car. Looking down the stairs, I quickly saw the error of my ways. Being stubborn is a trait that is often admired but it can go too far and turn to just plain stupid. My cell phone was in my pocket and I could imagine calling Public Safety and saying, “I am the most ridiculous person living here and I’m stuck at the stop of the stairs and can’t get down!” Somewhat like, “Help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up!” I made my way back to the ice melt supply, filled up the container again, having abandoned all hope of getting to the car, and walked sideways down the stairs to the deck which was also ice. icydeck

Needless to say (because I’m writing this), I made it back into the house uninjured and didn’t have to send for help! Of course, now I am in the house with no ice melt anywhere except up at the top of the stairs and feeling a bit trapped. I called Tim with whom I have a snow plow contract and asked them to spread something on the driveway which they did (but not in front of the car of course!). Also was hoping and asked for help with the steps but they haven’t done that unless they are planning a return trip later. It took me a lot to decide to write this because I do sound like a total idiot, but there is a need for all of us to have access to the outside world not just electronically but real access. Then I thought of all the times the people I worked with noted (usually very kindly) how stubborn I am and I can only imagine how annoying it must have been when and if that stubbornness turned to stupidity! I guess there’s a lesson in everything. Happily ensconced with all of my electronic equipment that keeps me in touch and with lots of food in the house, hot drinks, and firewood, I can honestly say I’ve learned my lesson. Then again, my brain says I’ll probably do this or something like it again. Guess I’m just an old dog!