Friday, June 26, 2009

I had plans for today

My plan was pretty simple: Oil change in the morning. Activate my new versions of my ATM and Visa cards. Put the final netting on the blueberry bushes. Take Bowie for her one-month follow-up exam in the afternoon. Buy some comic books and kitty litter.

Unfortunately, I overslept.

This was because I stayed up way too late last night. Despite my best efforts at forcing a reset, my body wants to stay on night shift all the time now. I went to sleep (finally) at 4:30 AM and woke up at 9:45 AM (after a false start at 7:45.)

NOTE ON DREAMS: I had two that I recall. The one was that the comic book store I've been visiting since Free Comic Book Day (which in real life is in danger of having the building the guy is operating out of sold out from under him), in order to stay in business, had to share space with a Fashion Bug. To get to the comics, you had to make your way through racks of women's clothing. The other involved a guy who I know (who in real life I need to hire to do some minor home repairs beyond my abilities) who the mayor of Wilkes-Barre needed to do some electrical work for the city. Oddly, the part of the mayor was played by a former manager about two or three levels above me on the org chart about six years ago.

I bounced out of bed, pulled on some shorts, shoes, and a shirt, brushed my teeth, washed my face, brushed my hair, drank a cup of coffee, and dashed across town for my oil change which I had vaguely scheduled for "the morning." I had been planning to weed-whack while I waited, but it had just rained, and it's a very messy mistake to run a weed-whacker on wet grass. So I sat in a chair, watched TV, dozed a bit, and occasionally read through two books on dinosaurs as the minutes stretched into hours.

By 2:00 I was getting antsy. I had already taken care of some minor housekeeping tasks and was eager to get a move on. I had already scrapped my plan to get Bowie in to the doctor today - the only available appointment was at 3:15, for which I would have to be out of the house by 2:45, and I still needed to do things like have breakfast and take a shower.

At 2:30 I decided to walk across the street to the service station and park myself in the waiting room until my car was ready. My car became ready as I stepped into their lot. Perfect timing, sort of. But by then there was no way I could squeeze in that 3:15 appointment, if it were somehow still available.

When I got back here my mom had released the kittens to run free in the kitchen, with a barrier blocking them off from the rest of the house. They found the barrier - a folding side table three feet wide by six feet long - terribly amusing, and had a great time leaping back and forth over it. (Nimble little kitties, they are.) I spent a preposterously long time activating my new credit card, and less than a minute activating my ATM card. I tarried for a while online. And then all hell broke loose.

"All hell" was actually the sky opening up, the angry red line of three merging storm fronts plowing diagonally across northeastern Pennsylvania. The rain came down, hard. The wind blew, hard. The lighting crashed, hard.

And then the street in front of our house flooded.

This wasn't the first time this had happened, and I knew what I had to do. (Interesting. That link goes to an incident that was three years ago tomorrow.) I put on my hiking boots, grabbed my raincoat and buttoned it up over my T-shirt and shorts, and got my trusty six-foot-long iron pry bar. These are useful things to have for removing large stones, prying out roots, breaking thick ice, and using as makeshift spears. They are also useful for clearing out storm drains that have become clogged with gravel, silt, and debris.

I walked outside looking like some sort of whaler/flasher hybrid. By then the rain had stopped, though the occasional bolt of lightning convinced me that it would be a good idea to carry the six-foot-long iron pry bar horizontally rather than vertically. I noticed that the water had mostly cleared the street. Had the clog-prone storm drain cleared itself? No; the drain was covered with water. But where had all the water in the intersection gone?

The manhole cover lying off to one side by itself gave me a clue.

I wish I had been there when the storm waters had blown the manhole cover right off the manhole leading to the storm sewer. That would have been a sight to see. Fortunately the cover and the open manhole made themselves sufficiently obvious that no cars drove into the open hole, which would have at least been an axle-breaking incident.

There was plenty of traffic on the road, so I decided to focus my effort on clearing the storm drain. Insert bar between grates, push into drain opening as far as it would go, pull back. Try to push debris into the opening, or pull it back out of the opening. Whatever worked, whatever got the water draining. Once a flow was established, it would tend to clear itself out.

But that didn't happen. The water would flow out, then flow back. Over and over again.

Finally a break in the traffic gave me an opportunity to nudge the cover back into place using the pry bar. Ease it over...easy, easy, and there's the manhole, and...OH MY GOD.

The manhole opened up to a circular hatch with a ladder on one side. About two feet below the road surface, a raging torrent flowed by. No wonder the water wasn't flowing out of the drain. It had nowhere to flow to.

I pushed the cover back into place and got back to clearing the drain. A quick stop into the house revealed that the police had already been informed of a manhole cover off in this intersection. I called 911 and brought them up-to-date. I also requested a drain-clearing crew, but I'm pretty sure they never showed up. Besides, I had already dealt with the emergency, so what was the rush?

(I'm impressed that the signal for my portable phone reached from deep inside my house to the storm drain across the street in front of my neighbor's house. I'm also impressed that I was able to juggle the phone, the pry bar, and myself without having anything fall into the storm sewer.)

After that the day was pretty much shot. I felt like I had accomplished enough, like I had earned the right to screw around the rest of the day. I did manage to erect another set of blueberry nets, but that's a story for another time. I also made dinner (fried Tilapia, using a breading made from some dried-up rye bread, oyster crackers, Old Bay seasoning, and Italian seasoning) and hauled out some compost.

I never did get the comic books or kitty litter.

Maybe tomorrow.

1 comment:

dizzy blond said...

I so enjoy reading your posts. I can not figure out why a post about your day, oil change, kittens, rain storm and dinner is so calming to read. Your blog is kinda like a Xanax for me. Thanks, Harold.