Nate the snowplow guy
Saturday, December 4 2021
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
We had a typical (though brief) morning at the cabin, and then Gretchen and I hiked out with the dogs to the Bolt to dig out a place off the driveway for it to park until Nate came through and plowed us out. While we did this, a mysterious truck was idling in the middle of Woodworth Lake Road about 100 feet away. We referred to it as if it were a UFO, eventually ignoring its existence much the way hillbillies inevitably get used to the extra-terrestrials who are forever swooping in, scooping them up, and probing their anuses. Once plunked down next to their partially-disassembled pickup or half-mowed lawn, they resume where they left off, because otherwise nothing would ever get done.
Once we had a place for the car, we drove out to the Woodworth Lake gate to look to see if the parcels that had supposedly been delivered were there. They were indeed, though the parcels were so bulky that we decided that Gretchen and the dogs should hike back.
When I returned to the driveway, on a whim I tried to driving up it, even though only a track had been cleared only for wheels on the passenger side. Surprisingly, the car was able to climb with just that and only lost traction just short of the top, where my track ended. This suggests that Chevy Bolts have much smarter traction control than our old Honda Civic, which used to direct all the energy from the engine to the wheel that was spinning uselessly and not to the wheel that had traction.
Back at the cabin, at some point Gretchen got pulled into one of her long phone calls, and as that was happening, I gradually sorted nearly all the loose things in the cabin into their respective bins in a small fraction of the small plastic storage solutions I'd brought. I was actually able to remove every single item from a drawer in the kitchen that had served as a junk drawer for months, and Gretchen was later able to repurpose it as a place to put silverware. It's rare for a junk drawer to ever become anything else; back in Hurley, it took a kitchen remodel to terminate the one we'd established back in 2002. But with fine-grained-enough storage solutions, it is apparently possible.
Then Nate's truck appeared in the driveway, effortlessly pushing the crusty ice off the driveway. We went out to meet him, and he quickly made a great impression. He also convinced us that, at least this year, it was probably best for us to pay him for the season and then he'd come out and plow after every snow. He'd said that the price for this at Ed's place out beyond the gate was $1500, a price Gretchen feared might be a little inflated given how fancy Ed's cabin is. But Nate actually got us to agree to $1800, because our driveway is decidedly longer and will require more sand to give us the traction to get up the fairly steep hill that begins at our yard. Nate is apparently a divorced dad, and he had his little daughter (who stays with him on the weekend) and his two dogs in the truck with him as he was plowing. We convinced Nate to let his dogs out, and they ran around sniffing, pissing, and doing other cute dog things. One was an Australian shepherd with brown markings and the other was a pit-shepherd mix with a light brown back and a white belly. I let our dogs out so Neville could meet them (which made him very happy), but I had to keep Ramona away because she was trembling and growling in a way that suggested she wouldn't have much self-control if allowed to act on her own.
While Gretchen was inside figuring out how to Venmo Nate $1800, he plowed out our driveway and part of our yard (the latter so he'd have a place to put all the snow later in the season. At the end, Nate spread sand on the driveway on the slope above our house. I figured he'd have a machine for this, but no, he had to do it manually with a shovel.
At some point Gretchen went to assemble a bookshelf (whose flat pack had been one of the two parcels we'd picked up at the Woodworth Lake gate) only to find the flat pack contained no hardware at all and was even missing two of its ten MDF planks, as if the person who'd packed it had done so just after learning he was about to be fired. Normally you could just call the company responsible and have them ship the missing parts, but this was something bought from Overstock.com, so of course the product no longer even exists.
This afternoon, I sipped on kratom and had an unusually good time on it. Usually such good times come just before an unpleasant overdose, but the overdose never came, and I felt chatty and mildly euphoric for a couple hours straight. This wasn't great for getting tasks done, but it was great for relaxing with a computer and reading about things like loon evolution and the fate of the "opposite birds" at the end of the Cretaceous.
Meanwhile, the weather outside kept threatening to snow, something the weather forecast promised would not accumulate. There was a brief period of incredibly heavy snow, but it lasted no more than ten minutes and then the clouds cleared away.
Eventually it was late afternoon, and finally stopped my procrastinating, turned on the generator, and did the day's big chore: installing baseboard moulding in the bathroom. The baseboard is simple one-by-sixes, and butt joints would've been fine. But some of the pieces had already been cut with mitre joints in mind, so I cut the pieces I needed with mitre joints as well.
For dinner we had tamales made by our friend Rachel for Powerful, but he'd never had the appetite to eat them. They were really good with habañero salsa.
At some point Gretchen suggested taking a walk, so she and I walked out to Woodworth Lake Road and then down it several hundred feet until the cold wind in our face caused us to turn around and hike home. Ramona and Neville had been lagging behind, and they seemed happy the walk wasn't going to be a long one. The night was clear and I could see at least seven stars in the Pleiades.
Back at the house, Gretchen wanted to play a rousing game of Bananagrams, but first she suddenly had the idea that we should rehang the doors of our refrigerator (which had been a loaner but which we've arranged with Ruby & Quiri to keep). They had been opening away from the main area of the kitchen, which made getting stuff out of it cumbersome. Initially Gretchen couldn't see how it was possible for the handle to move to the other side, but I figured some sort of attachment point must've been hidden under the Frigidair logo. This proved to be the case. From there, we managed to find all the other dormant attachment points to swap hinge hardware over to. Some of this hardware had to be flipped over to be used on the other side, and this in turn required removing parts of the hinges and installing them from the other side. The whole operation took about a half hour, though a Frigidair employee could probably do it much faster. After it was done, Gretchen kept reacting with delight every time she got something from the refrigerator. As for me, the new set up was unsettling on some deep right-brain level, as if I'd been dropped into a world that had been reflected across a fourth spatial dimension.
We played two games of Bananagrams, with me winning the first and narrowly losing the second.
As I lay in bed afterwards, I had a feeling that maybe I needed some alone time. So I got up, went out to the living room, and proceeded to drink two very stiff gin & tonics while noodling around on my work-issued laptop. It felt good to be drinking alone.
Gretchen and the great room during the brief snowstorm. Note the cardboard drying near the stove. Click to enlarge.
Neville during the brief snowstorm.
The aftermath of the second Banagrams game, with my tiles right-side-up.
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