i left the house at 8am, it was already snowing by then. not too bad, but the pace was supposed to pick up later in the morning. there was a blizzard warning advisory between 7am to 7pm. i was on my way to the mt. auburn area for my rescheduled routine eye exam. there was hardly anyone on the roads or sidewalks, a ghost town, most people having opted to take the day off or work from home instead. i was expecting more people at harvard station but it was practically empty as well. there was nobody waiting for the buses and for a moment i thought maybe the 73 was leaving from the upper track until i saw a man waiting on the lower level. the bus arrived shortly afterwards and i was the only passenger. i arrived at OCB cambridge eye center at 8:30am for my 8:45am appointment.
the last time i was here was 2 years ago, also in january. the receptionist was cranky, maybe would've preferred to stay at home. she took my information and i had a seat. there was one other person in the waiting room, an elderly man. i hung up my coat and made myself some tea with the complimentary keurig machine. there was a wall-mounted flatscreen TV turned to local channel 4 which was broadcasting weather news all day along with the other local channels.
a nurse named amanda brought me to an exam room. she did the brunt of the work, asking me if i've noticed any changes with my eyes, tested my vision, applied the drops, and checked for cataracts. i told her the only thing i noticed was my far-sightedness was getting worse. she asked if i took off my glasses to look at things up close, i said yes. she said as long as that didn't bother me, i wouldn't need bifocals, but she put it on my prescription anyway just in case. i found out they were leaving by noontime, and as much as they wanted to cancel the day, the headache it'd be to reschedule appointments was just too much, and better for patients to come in early.
amanda brought me back out to a secondary waiting area where i waited for doctor hsu. i could hear him talking with amanda in his office, he could've seen me right away but maybe just waiting for the dilation drops to work their blurry magic. i managed to log in to their complimentary free wifi (password: ocbguest) but spent most of the time reading children of time with increasing degree of difficulty as i was losing my ability to close-focus.
finally doctor hsu called me in. it took just a few minutes, no vision tests, just a quick look at my eyes, said everything was fine, gave me my prescription, and sent me on my way. back at the reception desk, a different receptionist checked me out. i scheduled an appointment for next year and she reminded me to get a referral for this visit and the next, otherwise i risk the insurance company not paying. she wrote out some info to give to my primary care doctor when i called. i also asked her for a pair of slip-on sunglasses; i probably wouldn't need it given how cloudy it was outside but better safe than sorry. and with that my appointment was over, 9:15am.
it took about 15 minutes for the next 73 bus to arrive. actually there was plenty of buses as the MBTA was still running a weekday schedule despite the blizzard conditions. there was actually two 73's and the first one pointed to the one behind him and kept on going. "what're you doing out here?" the driver asked me as i climbed onward the second bus. i told him i was going to my parents house to help shovel. i was the only passenger once again. we watched as the first bus came off its electrified railings and the driver had to get out and reattach the lines. little did we know the same thing happened to us as my driver had to get out and do the same. there must've been an malfunction on the wires because there was an MBTA car parked nearby to assist. after that it was smooth sailings. it felt like my own private bus and i was getting chauffeured to my destination. say what you will about our terrible new england winters, but bad weather tends to bring people together.
walking to my parents' house from the bus stop, there was only one other set of foot prints in the snow. my father was at the cafe, waiting for enough slow to fall and plow before returning home.
around noontime he went out to work, while simultaneously i started to plow the belmont driveway so his car would have someplace to park when he came back. i tried to use the large snow plow but it was impossible to start, churning out smoke and the gasoline smell. i finally got it started after much swearing, adding a bit more fuel, and using a power cord to jumpstart the engine. by then my father had already came back. because the plow trucks pushed the snow up against the driveway there was no way to get through, so he temporarily parked on the road while he used the snow plower to clear the driveway and carve out an opening so he can pull in. while he did that, i hand-shoveled a path into the backyard to the ladder so i could see how much snow was falling on the roof.
there was nothing to do but to wait for the snow to stop, which wasn't going to be until 8pm according to the latest forecast. since it was a thursday and no special programs on television, every single local channel was preempted so there could be live round the clock news coverage of the snow. i checked online and saw that our foam snow rake had already arrived, supposedly delivered this morning to the cafe. my father didn't remember seeing any mail while he was there, but occasionally the mailman drops off cafe mail in my grand uncle's mailbox.
i was afraid my 2nd aunt's changed flight tomorrow morning would be cancelled again, so i checked in the early afternoon, and the flight was still on schedule. however, when i checked again in the early evening, i was horrified to see that it was cancelled once again. when i tried to change the flight to either saturday-sunday-monday, no seats were available. i ended up calling united, where i was put on hold for more than 30 minutes. i had the phone on speaker while i ate dinner and patiently waited for someone to pick up. when somebody finally did, changing her flight was relatively easy. not only could we reschedule the departure flight, but also the return flight as well. they allowed us to do this just one time, any additional change would cost money. in hindsight, i should've rescheduled her to chinese new year, because that's usually the most expensive ticket price, but since united was footing the bill, it would've been the better choice. instead i scheduled her for tuesday morning, and changed her return flight so it was a week later.
at 7pm my father and i went out to do another round of shoveling. under blizzard conditions, not only was the snow still falling at a quick rate, but the strong winds seemed to be blowing from every direction. we were hoping to clean up here and leave for the cafe close to 8pm with the storm hopefully tapering off. a lot of other neighbors were out shoveling as well, all with snow blowers. the problem with machines was what you blew away had a nasty habit of blowing all back in your face because of the winds.
it took us about an hour to finish clearing out the house. that was just the appetizer as we still needed to go to the cafe and clear the snow there. when we got there the parking lot was empty except one car that belonged to the chinese restaurant owner. the plow truck had been by earlier, but in that time several more inches of snow had already fallen. my father accelerated and we managed to charge into the parking lot, ramming through a pile of snow in the process. while my father was clearing out the sides of the parking lot (where the plow trucks can't go and where there was several feet of snow drift), i went in search of our package. nothing by the cafe entrance and nothing in my grand uncle's mailbox. could the mailman have delivered it to the wrong house? whatever the case, the package was not there.
besides the parking lot, we also cleared the sidewalk, the steps of my grand uncle's house, and the entrance to the backyard (shared with the restaurant). my sister wasn't home otherwise she would've helped out as well. while clearing the steps, that's when i found the package buried underneath the snow. that means tomorrow we can finally clear the snow off of the solar panels. the plow trucks came by again to do the parking lot. my father and i finished off the areas the trucks couldn't get to. because the restaurant car was parked there, the trucks had to go around. after they got the car out, we had to shovel all the snow that was left behind (they didn't even bother to help). finally we cleared out a pathway into my grand uncle's backyard. it was easier with the machine, but the snow was so high (2ft) that it still took a few push with the plow to make any progress. we finally finished by around 9:40pm, my father giving me a ride back home.
i was afraid that i had more shoveling in store when i got back but thankfully my upstairs neighbors did their civic duty and cleared the sidewalks along with a path into the backyard.