my original plan was to wake up at 7:30am, shovel my own sidewalk, before walking down to the cafe and meeting up with my parents when they arrived at 8:30am. i couldn't get out of bed and snoozed the alarm clock until 8am. from the 9 wyze cams i've stashed at various locations and the few pointing outside, there didn't seem to be a lot of snow yet, as it'd just started snowing around 5am this morning. when i called my mother asking if i should delay going down to the cafe until we got more snow, she said i should come down anyway, to clear what little snow there was.
i tried using the bathroom but i have an anxious colon that gets shy when i'm nervous and fail to perform. i cleared the half inch of slush from my own sidewalk (shovel task no.1) before walking to the cafe.
i shoveled the sidewalk around the cafe area (shovel task no.2). i started with a shovel but upgraded to the single stroke snowblower. it was a little hard as there wasn't enough snow. i had to accumulate enough before the snow would come out of the chute. it was also very slushy snow, and had a tendency to clump and clog.
normally this small amount of snow my father would take care of it on his own. but since late friday his right hand started hurting to the point where all weekend he thought maybe it might be broken. the hand was visibly swollen and he couldn't close his fingers to form a fist. he was supposed to make an appointment to see the doctor yesterday, but thought the hand was getting better. but this morning there was no improvement so he finally called the doctor. luckily he managed to book an appointment later in the morning at 11:20am. but because of the hand, he couldn't do any shoveling, and at most he helped out to sprinkle some rock salt on the sidewalk after i finished shoveling.
the best time to shovel snow is after it finished falling. the best snowstorms are those that fall overnight, and you wake up the next sunny morning to shovel on a crystal blue clear day. that doesn't always happen. particularly for a long duration snowstorm that falls during the daytime on a commercial property, you have no choice but to clean while the storm is in progress. waiting until the end is not an option, as pedestrians trudge through all that snow, making an eventual cleaning more difficult. also, with a big snowstorm, you want to clean a few times otherwise too much will have accumulated making it harder.
anyway, so i waited at the cafe for more snow to accumulate so i could go out and shovel again. in the meantime, i moved all the bags of rock salt down into the basement. i also finally used the bathroom. my mother asked if i wanted something to eat, but i wanted to wait until i was completely finished with shoveling, even though i knew that was still far away in the future.
after seeing some other businesses with hired professional snow removal crew at work, i went out around 10:30am to shovel again (shovel task no.3). these guys used these things that looked like wide brooms to brush away the snow. that seemed like a good idea so i copied their tactic. we didn't have a wide broom, so i simply used the shovel to push around the slush, no lifting needed. even though it wasn't as automatic as using the snowblower, it was less frustrating since the shovel doesn't clog. i finished by 11am, just in time to go with my father to his doctor's appointment.
we went to harvard vanguard by inman square. my father drove with one hand, and in hindsight i probably should've taken the wheels under these slippery conditions. i went with him inside the exam room. his doctor felt his hand then sent us downstairs for my father to get an x-ray. afterwards we went back to the exam room. the doctor told us the hand wasn't broken (good news) and she thought most likely it was gout. gout normally occurs on the big toe, but it can happen near any joint in the body (unusual but not uncommon). tendonitis was also a possible candidate, but the level of swelling points to gout. my father still had a lot of gout medicine from the last time he had a flare up, and the doctor told him to take those again, which is good for not only gout but tendonitis as well. my father left with a new hand brace (he was wearing one but it was actually for the left hand).
i ended up driving us back to the cafe. once we arrived, i drove the car to belmont to primarily clean the snow-covered solar panels but also to shovel the sidewalk (shovel task no.4) since my parents didn't do it this morning when they left for work. the roads were a dirty slushy slippery mess, like a battle zone. i drove slowly, occasionally feeling the anti-lock brakes engaging. by this point the snow has transitioned into a mix, sometimes ice crystals, sometimes snow hail, sometimes just pure rain. it was not the most pleasant working condition, especially up on a ladder.
fortunately the rain made the panels slippery enough so the snow came off more easily, but just as soon as i cleared a panel, a fresh coating of sleet would quickly cover it back up. i started from the sunroom first, clearing the bottom edge of the roof and lower panels from the step ladder. i then moved to the west side of the house, cleared the panels including 3 panels in the middle of the main roof, before clearing the sun room panels. the snow wasn't very thick (half of inch of slushy snow) and i could simply push clean those panels by standing with one leg on the room and another on top of the ladder. i made sure i pushed the extension ladder close to the side of the house, so i could brace myself. once that was done, i moved the extension ladder to the east side and cleaned off the 3 panels there. there was a 4th panel that was already clean when i arrived, but was covered in an icy layer of semi-transparent frozen snow.
i did the best i could, praying to the gods of solar energy that the panels don't get covered back up from now until the storm ends early tomorrow morning. a layer of clear ice wouldn't be a problem, it'd simply melt; what i don't want is a thin layer of snow, opaque enough that the black panels underneath can't peek through and therefore can't melt the snow. i went to the basement to check on the inverter, it saw all 24 panels, so everything back to normal. when i arrived at the house i noticed the neighbor's panels were once again completely covered in snow. even though they have 10 more panels than us, i don't think they had better production this month since their panels have been snow covered so often.
i saw a bluejay fly away from the feeder when i first got to the backyard. i didn't see any birds during the whole time i was clearing snow from the solar panels, but i filled the feeder to capacity yesterday, and i could see the seed level had already gone down a bit, so birds had been feeding on it. i really should set up a wyze cam pointing to the feeder so i could do some birdwatching remotely.
by the time i returned to the cafe, i was in pretty miserable shape. my jacket was wet, my pants, my shoes. my legs were also trembling for some reason, a combination of exhaustion and not having eaten anything yet all day. but i knew it wasn't over yet. i knew i had to shovel the sidewalk one more time (shovel task no.5). fortunately the snow was even slushier than late this morning, and it was simply a matter of pushing the slush around. afterwards i sprinkled some salt on the sidewalk to keep it from freezing overnight. i had some homemade radish cakes for a late lunch before finally leaving the cafe around 3:30pm. my father said he could give me a ride, but with just one working hand under these slippery conditions, it was much safer if i just walked home instead. i also left with an assortment of food (leftover fried rice, scallion pancakes, glass noodles, mochi cake).
when i finally got home it was almost 4pm, the winter sun almost setting. it didn't look like my upstairs neighbor steve did any shoveling (even though he was home) because our sidewalk was the only one that wasn't cleared. so after 8 hours of snow shoveling activities, i come back home to do some more cleaning (shovel task no.6). it wasn't that hard, but not something i should've had to do since steve was home all day.
when i finally finished, i peeled myself out of my wet clothes, taking off my waterproof shoes which somehow got soaked inside. i hobbled on my heels into the bathroom to wash my feet. i pulled out the insoles and put my shoes upside down over one of the floorboard heating grates to dry.
for dinner i reheated the leftover fried rice in the microwave. later in the evening my astrophysicist roommate contacted me, said he was arriving next thursday afternoon (after christmas). finally, i found out tonight that a few PBS channels have been finally added to youtube tv, as well as OWN, the oprah channel (seems like a lot of programs geared towards black women).