22 December, 2008

I was supposed to go to work today...

Well, I was supposed to go to work today. 0500 rolled around and the alarm started its annoying habit of waking me up from a perfectly good sleep. I got down to the car around 0520 and begin unburying it again. All day yesterday I was digging out the car and keeping the area in front of it groomed into a compact ramp, knowing I would have to get to work this morning. I also tried to chain up the car to be ready to depart. Unfortunately the chains were too small. The package was for the correct tire type, but the chains definitely did not fit. This was at 6pm. Les Schwab and Big O closed at 5.

What I did NOT know is we were going to get another 6" of snow overnight and I was going to be waking up to 18" of snow. Grumble.

I dug out the car and dutifully got behind the wheel. I managed to go up my groomed ramp, got about 5 feet and then *thunk!* sank into the deep snow. I was stuck to the point the snow reached above my doors, and my door became a giant shovel as I was trying to exit the vehicle and formulate my next plan. I stood surveying the amputee-snow-angel the vehicle had created, and grimly came to a stark conclusion.

I realized there was no way I was getting to work because my driveway was completely impassable. A nice bonus is the fact my driveway is about 200ft long. I know that doesn't sound like much, but when it is covered with 18" of snow over about 2-3" of ice, it is a significant obstacle to a minivan buried up to its doors.

I realized I needed to start shoveling the driveway. I was not amused. I love the snow. I really do, but I don't love so MUCH snow in a land totally unprepared for such. I don't own a snow shovel. Why would I? I live in a suburb of Seattle for chrissake. So, I improvise, employ my "Seattle Snowshovel" and begin paddling my way down the driveway. Current time: 6:15am.

Slowly but surely I begin to make some progress. The sun comes up. Birds start to sing, the clouds even break a little and show the first scrap of blue sky I've seen for days. I look at the driveway. I'm about halfway to the corner where I can then slide down the hill. Current time: 8:30am. Grrr.

I continue doggedly in my chosen course of action. I call up to the house and ask Bruce to check the local Costco and Les Schwab to see if we can get some chains that actually fit my tires. He determines neither opens until 10am and comes down to help me dig the last turn of the driveway. Current time: 9:20am.

I'm starting to get tired. I'm old and fat and slow, and not built for hours and hours of shoveling deep snow in the freezing cold. Bruce pitches in and we finish the driveway around 10:15am. Total time to shovel the driveway to the point we can make the turn and skid down the hill into the neighborhood: 4 hours.

Total time required playing in the snow with the dogs to make up for being outside without them for 4 hours: 15 minutes.

Obviously I'm not going to work today. But we really need groceries, I need to get chains that fit my tires, we are out of cat litter... So we call around about chains. 10 calls later we find a Les Schwab in north Kent with a set of chains that will fit my car. We pay by phone and start the trek to the tire store. Time: 10:45am. Halfway there Bruce realizes he has forgotten his wallet and the paper with the address of the tire store.

The roads are treacherous. We make it down the driveway and into the street, hoping no one is coming the other way at the bottom as I realize stopping won't be possible. We see many people sliding, spinning their tires and drifting across the packed snow and ice. People with 4x4s are going too fast and fishtailing or sliding through stops.

News Flash: 4 wheel drive is great for helping you start moving. It does NOT assist your stopping ability. All along our route cars are in the ditch and buried under snow like sleeping monsters. An hour later, we've made it the 5 miles to the tire store. We put on the chains, start the car and the temperature gauge is PINNED in the red. *%$#! is the nice way to describe my reaction. Looking under the hood the car does not seem too hot, but who knows. So we journey up Central Ave to Auburn way, and stop at the Chevy dealer to have the car checked out. It will take 2 hours, says the guy. Great, I'm thinking. In the first turn of good luck for the day, I look out the windows of the service center and across the street is: a Grocery Store! Hooray!

So we schlep over to the grocery store, get our cat litter and needed items, sit down and eat something and wander back over to the service department. Good news and bad news. Good news: The car is safe to drive and is definitely not overheating. Bad news: It needs a new instrument panel to the tune of $400. I decide that will have to wait until after Christmas and off we go.

We begin the trek home. Time: 2:30pm. We manage to get home, but then I discover I can't turn around in the driveway because I didn't shovel a spot for the 3-point turn required. Possibly an oversight born of my irritation with having to shovel so much fluff so early in the morning? Bruce also realizes he has forgotten to go to the post office and mail a package for a client.

Bruce goes inside to prepare his package, and the dogs and I set to work digging out a turn-around. The dogs are very helpful, tossing snow everywhere and chasing eachother through the drifts I am creating with my Seattle Snowshovel. Zora really wants to get in on the fun, but is NOT amused with the fact she keeps getting buried in the snow. Finally I hear her barking and notice the barks are coming from a snow-crater. I rescue her and she supervises the rest of my labor from the car window. About 45 minutes later our work is done and I send Bruce on his way since he will now be able to get home, and get the car facing the correct direction to depart again without me having to back all the way down the driveway in the dark tomorrow morning.

Now I am cold, wet, covered in sand, mud and de-icer from putting the chains on the car and basically super crabby. My clothes are filthy, the neoprene parts of my boots are soaked and freezing. I am going to get a hot shower, take 4 Advil, wash them down with a gin and tonic and lie down in front of the TV for a bit. The good news: I am all set to get to work tomorrow - as long as we don't get more than about 8" of new snow.

20 December, 2008

Blog Game - 6+6

Well I got tagged in a blog game. Here is how it works: Go into the 6th folder on my computer, and pull out the 6th photo. Then post it here.

Here is what came up:

This is a photo taken of an xray of one of the patients at the clinic. I used the photo as part of a powerpoint presentation for career day at the local high school. Teaching the kids about xrays is always a fun activity!

I challenge carefullyconstructednoise.blogspot.com to be the next to post 6+6

06 December, 2008

Thanksgiving weekend

Well I had a somewhat unconventional Thanksgiving weekend.

It started Thursday with sleeping in, then doing chores around the house and reading my book for a while, then going to the clinic to take care of the boarding pets. We went to Maneki for a fabulous dinner. Yes, that's right... we went OUT for dinner on Thanksgiving, and to a Japanese place, no less. It was terrific. The food was great, no cooking or cleaning required. Very good move, I intend to repeat it in the future.

Then Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent at an agility trial. The girls did great. Magick earned another jumpers qualifier - one of the most beautiful jumpers runs she has had in years. It was such a rush, all the hair on the back of my neck was standing up. She did great. So that means she only needs one more qualifying round in jumpers to get her NATCH. Our next try will be at RAT in Elma over the Valentine's day weekend. Wish us luck.

Zora ran beautifully as well, with 10 qualifying rounds out of 14 runs. I went back and tallied points - turns out all she needs for HER NATCH now is 5 rounds of regular and 1 chances. *boggle* It seems like she should still just be a pup to me... but what do I know!

By Sunday I was feeling pretty low. Tired, sore and just plain worn out. I thought I was getting too old to do 3 days of agility in a row... but I had my answer on Monday morning. Fever of 100.1, scratchy throat and horrible sinus headache. Duh, I was getting sick! So now I feel a little less old, and am looking forward to our next opportunity for Magick's NATCH.

New Orleans - looking back

So this July I went off to New Orleans for a veterinary conference, and a behavior meeting. This should have been an awesome trip - and in many ways it was. However, the end of the trip was tainted by a lot of stress and strife, drama that fractured the neo-relationships a few of us were building.

On the brighter side, I did take some fun photos in the French quarter during my trip, and thought I'd post a few favorites here.

Through the gates of Jackson Square.

Jackson Square is lovely, if rat-infested. The artists and buskers along the fences made for excellent people-watching. There was a particularly talented young boy - perhaps 14-years-old. He was painting amazing blue and black portraits in oil on canvas. Most of them featured faces from a variety of perspectives, some pensive, others sorrowful or troubled. All were surreal in the genuine feeling of the subject's emotions. I watched him for a little while, marveling that such morose images were flowing from the hands of a seemingly vibrant young boy.

That street corner on all the post cards. Look, I made my own!

Truly, the architecture in the French quarter is just like in the movies. The iron filigree is captivating - garish and modest at the same time. From across the street it appears soft like lace sewn in charcoal, but up close it is hard and cold. It should be smooth but a quick touch reveals chips and bubbles in the coating, the iron wraught like any other iron, welds gripping the metal and making it seem so ordinary. I was struck by the illusion of it, truly. New Orleans was surreal in that way - I got the impression most of the French quarter was a series of illusions and people hiding from the city, or themselves.

Perspective. I took a lot of photos from odd perspectives, and the shutters were some of my favorites. Many of the old buildings have carriageways leading to interior courtyards. These shutters cover the windows looking into the carriageway.

Fun street sign. Pirate's Alley is right off Jackson Square, and sandwiched between the cathedral and another building. The tiny pirate bar there was a lot of fun.

Of course, Cafe du Monde. I went here and had the required Cafe au Lait and Beignets. It was quite tasty. Then I sat on a bench just outside Jackson Square and read my book in the sun for an hour. Good relaxing afternoon.

This statue was described to us as "Touchdown Jesus" by a tour guide on our ghost tour. So I thought I'd try and take a ghost picture of my own -- voila! "Christ Ascends!"