Late on Thursday evening it began to snow, and it didn't stop until noon on Friday.
The Bloody Long Island rail Road had pre-emptively initiated plan "run only as few trains as you can get away with" and most of those didn't run as the eight inches or so of snow (much less in places) brought the railway to its knees. The new snow clearing machine (they only bought the one) was nowhere in evidence although they drove us nuts in the fall singing its praises an those of their brilliant "planners" for having the audacious forwardness of thinking to actually acknowledge that in winter it snows and that the ridership is beginning to notice that the Bloody Long Island Rail Road didn't seem to have any sort of mitigation system for getting the tracks cleared. No doubt they were waiting for better weather in which to give it a push round the tracks.
Once the snow stopped falling I pushed the snow away from the front door1, dug a path to the garage and prepared to fire up Troll, the Snowblower of Supreme Spiffiness.
First I had to get some power to the extension cord for the electric start, for I was not in the market for the dislocated shoulder and pulled muscles so often the result of attempting to start a small engine in extremely cold conditions by means of the recoil starter2.
The only source was the multi-point adaptor that is part of the Chateau Stevie Xmas Illumination Extravaganza, but the lights are on a light sensitive timer that were then bathed in daylight and hence the power was off. It is possible to turn the power on with a rotary switch on the timer, but doing so requires clambering behind the overgrown Alberta Spruce hedge in front of the front bedroom wall, and there was eight inches of snow piled up all over the place complicating matters.
Heaving a sigh of resignation3 I waded over the snow to turn on the power, but immediately had to confront a new problem; the self-inflating tree c/w snowman honor guard was buried under eight inches of whitestuff and the fan unit would in all likelihood overheat and short out were I to follow my inclination to ignore it.
So I spent ten minutes exhuming the wretched thing and kicking out an air path, freeing the guylines and untwisting the drunken snowScotsman which had been twergled in the night's wind, cutting off the flow of air to that part of the sculpture. Only then could I clamber into the narrow space between wall and trees to switch on the power and spend another two minutes rattling extension cord connections to get the lights on.
I connected Troll to the power pumped like mad on the Rubber Bulb of Carburetor Primage until I could feel resistance under my thumb, switched the magneto on4 and pressed the starter.
There was an ear-splitting ratcheting sound as the starter kicked over, then the hearty ear-splitting chugging of the engine began, clouds of blue chocking smoke belched from the muffler and once more we had life, life, LIFE! AHAHAHAHAHA!
It took only about an hour to clear the driveway, moving cars into cleared spaces and mowing the snow where they had been moments before. In places the snow was over two feet thick around the cars where it had been drifted by the high winds., Then I nipped next door and helped Mr Singh's son dig out.
On my way back I ran out of gas, so I lugged troll into my driveway by sheer manly strength, undid the gas cap and leaned over to double check I really did have no gas in Troll's tank. This was when I made a mistake I've made before and hence feel all the more stupid for making that day. I placed my hand on the muffler to support me as I peered into the tank.
The next few minutes were a blur of pain, improvised dance and class four Words of Power.
The muffler is essentially a cube-like metal box with a pipe sticking out the side. The flat top is deceptive and completely exposed to the air and to passing flesh. It is very easy to lean on this thing because a number of controls for the restarting process are in close proximity to the damn thing. It begs to be leaned on, and I feel like a wuckfit for not inventing some sort of clever lean-prevention device before now. I could make a muffler-guard but it would heat up itself and pose a similar threat, albeit mayhap a slightly cooler one. I have a nice second degree burn across the entire width of my palm on the fleshy part of my hand, the part that rests on a surface as I type.
I completed operations with snow pressed on my hand to kill the pain, and a further four hours with ice on the burn.
I usually don't bother with cold water or ice for burns5, preferring to let the pain crest and die away, but this time I couldn't. The pain was quite indescribable and beyond my power to bear. As time went on I found that cool water would kill the pain completely, and after about six hours I took some expired near-Vicodin generic substitute6 and was able to stop soaking my hand and go to bed.
As I type I have a huge patch of cracked skin biding its time before it breaks open and poses a huge infection risk.
So life as usual then.
- At least I didn't need to remove the glass from the storm door and dig my way out of the house like I had to last year↑
- aka The pull cord starter↑
- My resignation was summarily declined↑
- Won't make that mistake again↑
- I've hit myself with the mufflers on the lawn mower, weed-whacker and chainsaw in addition to the one on Troll, but never in such a large-scale manner↑
- God bless the American Medical insurance System↑