The Joy of Tools

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Being a natural-born quasi-geek, any task where I can use a cool tool is automatically enhanced. Well understood in the electronic gadget and software world, and even for hand and power tools. But snow shoveling? Yes, even there.

My house has more surface area to shovel than I’ve ever dealt with, and that fact combined with both a back that can’t take a lot of weight stress and a standard distribution flatish snow shovel, meant inefficient shoveling. I figured if I could find a shovel with an ergo handle and built to push, instead of dig and toss, then I’d be better equipped to survive the looming “winter of many shovelings.” Yes, logical justification to buy yet another gadget. And your point?

Photo at the right is the new bad boy. Key features:  curvy thingie between bucket and hand grip, oversized back end of the shovel bucket (for the plow effect), and a steel-strip bucket edge to cut through ice, forgotten garden hoses, and unfortunately, my yard at sidewalk’s edge. Guess come spring I’ll clearly know where my shoveling went off course.

The result? Well, I still know I had a workout using this shovel versus the flat one, but it took less time to clear the drive and walks, and I spent more of that time standing upright rather than hunched over. Now if it only had a GPS unit and a USB port…

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First Snow

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While we’ve had some flurries and dustings, and even a little accumulation the other day, today’s the first “real” snow day. Here are a handful of quick snaps from my front door (taken while in my jammies, I should brag since I have the day off today). Enjoy.

I might follow up later with better shots, or just stay inside, sip my tea, enjoy the view, and think about (but not do anything about) getting out of said jammies.

The Leaf Man Cometh

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So much for plans to sleep in on Saturday. Late last night I realized that TODAY was the volunteer leaf pick up in my town. Most years the city provides leaf vacuuming, curbside, but the last two years, no-go. Budgets and all that. This year a mayoral candidate organized a volunteer effort to pick up the leaves and take ’em to the county mulch pile. Cool.

I’m not a leaf raker & bagger normally. I believe in mulching the leaves to feed the grass, rather than consigning bags of leaves to the dump. But I haven’t kept up with raking this year, so this was an opportunity to support the cause, ensure the leaves go to mulch and not landfill, and catch me up. There are still leaves around to mulch, so fall’s duties are not quite over.

Pickup starts at 8 a.m. so at 6 a.m., wishing I was still snug in my warm bed, I’m out there in the dark, raking and bagging. A street light made it reasonably possible for the first hour or so, but I still felt a bit sneaky doing it in the dark! Results? My shoulders ache, I’m still amazed my little yard could generate twelve bags of leaves, but at least the task is complete. Now I can shower and leaf (groan) to go the coffee shop for the day to work on the Nano novel.

Update

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My writing energies this month focus on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) annual challenge, so blog posting is sparse. Since the NaNo challenge is all about word count, have to be stingy with the words and keep them hoarded in the novel!

I posted a while back (or was it on Facebook?) about the mystery of my big maple tree’s potential color. Screaming Yellow is the winner, although the tree was reticent to show its true colors and remained green longer than other trees around here. And when it finally turned, the top half went yellow before the bottom, so there was never a moment of a solid yellow tree. But still, a lovely blanket of yellow maple leaves cover my yard. The grass, knowing I mulch and not bag leaves, is giggling as I write this in anticipation of the fertilizer soon to feed their hungry roots.

The photo below is my daily view from where I usually sit and surf or write, and as you can tell, my maple tree fills my view nicely. Can’t wait until snow comes and the same scene changes to soft snow nestled on bare branches. Seasons. Gotta love ’em.

Bounty

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CSA signToday was my bi-weekly pickup for my member share of one the local CSAs (community supported agriculture). I wanted to try a CSA last year, but they had no local drop spot then, and grabbing my bounty would have meant a 30 minute drive each way. Plus they had only full shares available last year, which would have complexed things by making it a weekly run. Not to mention scoring more veggies than I could probably deal with.

This year, I’m on a single share, reaping the rewards bi-weekly of lots of volunteer’s efforts in growing and harvesting a wide assortment of nature’s goodies. I never know what’s on the list each pickup, but the surprise is definitely part of the intrigue. I’ve given away probably a third of my share each time, owing to a long-term dislike of a few veggies (e.g., onions and I don’t dance well together).

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My particular CSA is the Seeds of Hope Farm, located outside TIffin, Ohio, and is part of the Franciscan Earth Literacy Center. Good people, good cause. While not certified organic, they grow chemical free and clean. The operation relies heavily on volunteers, and connecting to the community through these volunteers is one of their objectives. They do have working shares where one can dirty hands dirty and earn veggies, but I chose the gentleman farmer route which gives others the chance to play in the soil.

Now my challenge is what to fix first for dinner! A tasty predicament, for sure.

Suddenly Snow

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Last weekend’s snow was…a surprise, among other things. 24 hours before I snapped the photos below, all you could see was brown grass and black pavement. Since these were taken, we’ve received another 6″ or so…and the city’s running out of places to pile the stuff!

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Enjoy the Last of the Color

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My favorite time of the year is drawing to a close. Winter is about to replace fall’s multi-colored coat with a drab, grey blanket. This year was especially colorful in Northwest Ohio, yielding vibrant reds and yellows in every direction, and seemingly timed to turn at the same time. A good year for fall colors, which old timers are telling me means a snowy winter. Oh boy oh boy. Winter wonderlands are a close second in my book to autumn colors. Don’t mind the cold if there’s a white blanket everywhere.

Wonder

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The recent deep freeze revealed the artist that Mother Nature is, from her ice etchings on my storm windows. Bottom shot is a blow-up of the top shot. Amazing.

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As Promised

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The weather predictors were spot-on this morning:  blizzard conditions, more snow, level 3 road emergencies, all-in-all a great day to stay inside and read a good book. Or perhaps venture out, take some pix, then blog about it (before settling in with that good book).

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First (Real) Snow

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snow-window.jpgWhen I rented this third-floor loft apartment overlooking downtown and the county courthouse, I dreamed of the day I could sit with window blinds pulled high and watch fluffy white flakes float to the earth collaborating to build a wonderful white blanket over everything. That day has finally arrived.

We’ve had a few false flake moments in the past few weeks, but today’s whitening is the beginning of the weekend storm that promises a little of everything: 6-12″ of snow, mixed in with a little sleet, slick highways and sidewalks, and of course, being that this IS Findlay, lots of wind. Fairly quiet at the moment (wind-wise) but tomorrow’s forecast is for 30+ mph gusts combined with more snow. Sounds like the stuff blizzard’s are made of…

I suppose I should have snapped these pictures from out in the middle of it all, but instead, they’re from the cozy warmth that comes from being inside while watching obviously cold conditions on the outside. Only thing I lack to make this ideal would be a nice roaring fire, but alas, no fireplace here.

snow-bricks.jpgI ventured out earlier on errands, making the mistake once of getting too near the local mall, my reward coming in the form of extra long waits at stoplights. Looked like lots of folks had the same idea: get out for a little shopping before it gets too slippery. And although my company’s Christmas party is scheduled for this evening, it’s now 3 o’clock and I’m witnessing cars sliding along down Main Street, no doubt by 8 tonight the roads will be nasty.

I’ve been here three winters now, and have always been puzzled by how long the city waits to order snowplowing. Seems like there’s an assumption that the hardy locals can drive through most anything, and any serious attempt at keeping the roads clear doesn’t start until either the snow stops falling or at least late into the night after the cars have gone home. Either way, it’s better to wait these out inside, with a nice cup of tea and the blinds pulled open to watch the wonder of snowfall.