December 27, 2004

Rambling Post

     ...dealing with child-rearing, snow-shoveling, book-snuffling, and epidurals

Working backwards in time, we went to aroma therapy this morning: aka Border’s bookstore. Nothing like fishing for literature in the papery margins of a fine bookseller. The scent led me to buy three, which seemed excessive given the three thousand I already have.

Last night we went to “The Aviator”, the long but engrossing story of Howard Hughes. Before that dinner at Confluence Park overlooking the river & downtown Columbus. What a treat to embrace the warmth of family & food before a snow-encrusted vista looking like something out of Doctor Zhivago! The expanse of nature was spread out like a banquet before us, soon to be replaced by a banquet of food. No wonder the Kingdom of Heaven is depicted as a feast. The bread was hot and humble to the butter; the salad arrived in superabundance with a glorious dressing and various lettuces (aka “letti”). The steak was simply other-worldly, un-recreateable except at a Seven Stars. Outback is a steakhouse, but by comparison is unworthy of the name.

Christmas was preceded by the painful trial of over nine inches of ill-timed snow. We awoke on the 23rd to a broken city; 200,000 homes without power, the roads unpassable, the driveway covered with a devilish ice/snow combination nearly impossible to remove with our ordinary plastic snow shovels. The few inches I’d shoveled off Wednesday night appeared to have gained me nothing – I shoveled for an hour today and tested the driveway by driving the truck down it and got instantly stuck.

But help was on the way in the form of son & daughter-in-law. It was still tortuously slow work; one of us would go around using a shovel to break up the ice while the rest of us tried to do the best with what we had. About 2/3rds of the driveway was done before we gave out, our arms dead, and I went to Kroger to pick up some salt which promised to melt the snow. On Wednesday night my wife was hesitant about using salt – she said it damages driveways – but by Wednesday afternoon she was a like a woman intent on a natural birth saying, “get me an epidural!”. Or like Rocky saying to Apollo Creed after the fight, “ain’t gonna be no rematch!”

After dinner they decided to go shopping and I was suspicious, with good reason. I knew he wanted us to buy a snow-blower and I was reluctant because of financial considerations. It seemed like our sore muscles were talking and not our brains. I’m in decent shape and we haven’t had much snow the last few winters. But they went and sure enough came back with a $300+ snow-blower. Oh well.

Christmas Eve day dawned and I’d hoped for a little reading, relaxing before the two (three) hour drive to Cincy at 2pm. But no time for frivolities like that. Two-oh-five and there's a migraine-sized backup on the main artery. I gained ground by inches, and the CDs I had brought brought little comfort.

Within an hour I had a windshield mostly obscured by salt without a way to clean it off (the wiper fluid was frozen). The traffic was heavy and so I had to be hyper-alert since everyone would suddenly slow to 30mph when ice patches were encountered. Meanwhile I had to pee like a racehorse. The lack of shoulders on the freeway and the lack of privacy along the side of the highway prevented the possibility of abandoning ship and lightening my bladder. Finally, after seeming forever, there was a McDonald’s. Afterwards I used my gloves to wipe the salt from the windshield, which gave me a clear view for all of five miles.

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