Friday, March 25, 2011

Sometimes it's really hard to keep a straight face

We had a customer apologize today - he'd broken off the tags on a lot of the oven mitts. He'd been trying them on to make sure they weren't for the wrong hand...

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm home. And Mother Nature threw a snow storm in my honor...

I hear the weather here was nice while I was gone - up until today. Cuz Mother Nature has such a whacky sense of humor, she made sure I had to drive home 2 hours through a snowstorm, to make up for my 4 days of sunshine and warmth and green plants and flowers and sunshine and did I mention warmth?
I had a blast, and even remembered to take a picture or two. Once I'm not so travel-braindead, I'll post all about it, but some of the high points were Harry Potter at Universal, lots of Dr Seuss, azaleas everywhere I looked, knitting with my daughter and granddaughter, Shaun the Sheep, barbecue, found-object art, and a 3-yr-old with a bagful of graggers.
And I got to hug both my daughters on the same day (though I had to fly 1300 miles to do it.)
I challenge you to come up with a better weekend...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Madman's turning the car around for me

And I'm off to the airport.
Sun. Warmth. Family.
It's going to be a great weekend...
(I'll try to remember to use the camera.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Optimism can be a Serious Character Flaw

Ask me how I know.
Today started innocently enough. I hit 'snooze' a few too many times (well, maybe three. No more than four. Certainly not five, though I admit I wasn't thinking too clearly) because I really didn't want to get up. I should have taken it as a sign, called in sick to work, pulled the covers over my head, and gone back to sleep.
But I didn't.
The next sign I should have twigged to was when the chickens got out while I was gathering the eggs. I'd pulled the coop door closed behind me, but big Mr Rooster pushed his way out anyway. And where he goes, the hens are sure to follow. I moved carefully out the door, scooping up hens and pitching them back into the coop, while trying not to spook the rooster so he wouldn't panic and head off cross-country. Meanwhile, he was helpfully making 'Come on, girls, let's go have an adventure' noises, so more hens were trying to go outside. Finally, I got out ahead of the pack and shooed him back inside.
"Well, that could have been worse," I assured myself optimistically while I headed inside to get ready for work.
Then the real part of my morning kicked in. I'd actually made it to the top of the driveway last night when I got home from work, and was quite excited about it since it was the first time in weeks I hadn't had to park at the bottom and trudge up the hill.
I should have known better.
While trying to turn my car around at the top, so I wouldn't have to back down (and we all know how well that would have gone - see previous post), I got stuck. I'd pulled the nose of the car up to the snowbank, then shifted into reverse, figuring I'd have to do that same maneuver several times to turn around in the tight quarters at the top of the drive.
Instead of reversing, however, one of the tires just started spinning on the ice. I tried rocking the car, but only succeeded in digging myself in. At this point, I called work and told them I might be a little late, explaining the circumstances. They wished me luck and told me to be careful.
(Last time I got stuck, Madman discovered that my all-wheel-drive isn't functioning. The car is supposed to work like a front-wheel drive until one of the tires starts to slip, then the rear wheels are supposed to kick in. My rear wheels refuse to take up their rightful duties, so my car is basically a front-wheel drive. No wonder I haven't been able to get up the driveway all this time...)
I tried everything. I put stuff under the tires, trying to get a little traction. Didn't work. I chipped ice out from behind the (increasingly deeper) hole that the tire was grinding for itself. Didn't work.
But I was sure that at any moment I was going to pop right out and be on my way. Optimism can be so ugly.
More grit, more chipping, repeat, repeat, repeat. Finally I felt the car starting to move, starting to lift itself out of the hole... and then the other tire started spinning.
You can imagine the words that were coming out of my mouth by this time. But I was still sure that I was going to get out. (I'd called Madman a couple of times by this time, but he was working in a town that's basically a dead zone, so my calls just went to voicemail.)
I started working on the second tire. Grit, chip, grit, chip.
Suddenly it started spinning freely, without even making contact with the ground.
That can't be good.
I discovered that my bumper was now hung up on part of the snowbank that had been below bumper-level when the whole disaster started, but since the car's level had dropped as it dug itself down, it was now high enough to add to my problems.
I got the snow shovel and started chipping away. This snowbank is plow-pushed stuff which has frozen and melted numerous times after being packed. It's only slightly softer than cast iron.
That part wasn't much fun either. By this time, part of me wanted to just go in the house and get drunk, but the Little-Miss-Optimist part insisted on keeping on.
Finally got the snow cleared, and went back to rocking, chipping, gritting, swearing, because after all I was going to just pop right out any second now.
Eventually even I had to give up. I caught a glimpse of myself reflected in the car window as I was getting in for the bazillionth attempt - I had crazy hair, and not only was there dirt on my face, there was blood from my bruised and bleeding knuckles. Optimism over.
(Madman and I discussed it later - where optimism stops and too-dumb-to-know-when-to-quit starts. I admitted it's a fine line, and I often don't know which side of it I'm standing on.)
I called Madman's mom, who was the only person I knew who could even possibly have been home at that moment. I told her the problem, said I was now 3 hours late for work, and she offered to come give me a ride.
Madman picked me up after work and drove me home. He'd gotten my messages, and had gotten my car unstuck for me through a combination of hot water for ice-melting and sheer determination. It's presently parked at the top of the driveway, turned toward the road so I don't have to do anything in the morning but press the gas and go. (He's offered to turn the car around for me for the rest of the winter, pre-supposing I ever get it up the driveway again...)

I think I've mentioned a time or two how much I hate winter. Do you think it's dangerous that I'm going to Florida this weekend? As in, 'Why should I come back?"
Oh, yeah, there's Madman...
Do you think he could learn to love palm trees?

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm just glad I have today off

The view from my front window. (I was going to go outside and take pictures of this little blizzard, but then came to my senses.)
The initial forecast was for 4 to 6 inches, but it was updated later to 1 to 2 feet. We're currently close to the 2 foot mark and it's still snowing hard. Sideways, I might add. Snowstorms are soooo much more thrilling with high winds.

It's been a nasty couple of days all around. March is a cruel month in Vermont. February brings feelings of doom and despair, but March is full of Epic Battles as Winter senses its demise in the lengthening days and brings in the heavy artillery.
I had Saturday off, so volunteered to do the errands and grocery run. Rain was predicted for the early afternoon, so I wanted to get out and going before the mayhem started. Unfortunately, I'd made it almost to the top of the driveway on Friday, so I had to back the car all the way back down.
I do not have good backing-up skills. In point of fact, when it comes to reverse, I totally suck. While my hand-eye coordination is perfectly good for normal usage, it totally deserts me as soon as I move the gearshift to 'R'. I don't understand this, but I accept it to be true.
And while I can usually manage to back down the driveway in seasons other than winter, without courting a trip to the breathalyzer, the white on white of snowbank/non-snowbank makes for needless added complication.
I backed right up into the snowbank and got stuck.
Madman heard the sound of me trying to work the car loose, with tires-spinning sound effects, and came out and got the snow shovel. (I'm pretty sure he was already putting his boots on as soon as I started the car. He knows me.)
It took him a good long while to dig the car out. Never let it be said that I'm not thorough in whatever I undertake.
Finally he got the car free and back out into the driveway. Then he offered to back it up the rest of the way down to the road ("Oh, please, would you?") and turned it back over to me as he hiked back up the drive. (Which was very very kind of him, and also? Saved him having to come out and dig me out again...)
Two hours and three grocery stores later (one of the drawbacks of small town life is small town grocery stores - not one of which carries everything we need) I got home in pouring rain and made if far enough up the driveway that the three trips to carry groceries weren't as awful as they could have been. (*sigh*)
It rained all night and was still raining on Sunday when we got up. The packed snow of our yard and driveway was now a huge sheet of water and slush with a solid ice layer under it.
Madman had plans for the morning, and I didn't have to be at work until midafternoon, and since my car was blocking the driveway anyway, he used it instead of his own, parking at the bottom of the driveway when he got home so I wouldn't have to back down again.
Walking down to the car, however, was a recipe for disaster. Watery slush on top of ice is slipperier than greased owl ...umm... snot. I kept to the edges of the drive, hanging on to whatever branches and small trees I could catch hold of, as I babystepped/slid down that long long ramp.
Finally, I reached the car. Hallelujah! At that moment, I realized I'd left something off the checklist.
I always keep my carkeys in my coat pocket.
Madman had used my car that morning. Which involved using my carkeys.
There were no carkeys in my coat pocket.
I looked back up the driveway and felt tears welling up in my eyes.
Cellphone. I called Madman. When he heard the quaver in my voice as I said I couldn't face walking back up, he said he'd be right there with the keys.
He came down quicker than I would have dared, and I was off to work.
The rain turned to snow a lot earlier than predicted and the ride home was treacherous, involving slow speeds and white knuckles.
At least the driveway was now hike-able with all that fresh snow on top of the slippery stuff. I parked at the bottom and gladly trudged uphill, thinking as I went that the snow should taper off soon.
I didn't know at that point about the change in forecast...