friday, march 19th, 2010
this time, the Nor'easter was most welcomed: it was all rain with temps in the mid-40s and it helped to wash the grit and grime off the streets and sidewalks. Thousands of Daffodils are now poking their way through all the soggy ground and hundreds of Crocus will follow shortly. Spring Dewdrops are already in full bloom. The Species Tulips will be next on the scene; they're my long-time favorites. Alliums will begin appearing when soil temps hit 55-60°F, and last for weeks.
Except for the very large piles of snow, 90% of it is thankfully gone. And those piles should disappear within a week or so, provided Mother Nature doesn't have any more "surprises" up her skirts. Since 1998, I coined the phrase: "Mother Nature's in charge; we're just along for the ride."
Around The Garden Center.™
The calls and emails are coming in by the score: "my yard and landscaping was devastated by the two blizzards, and I need your help with replacements and renovation." Of the 24 requests so far, I've got 11 appointments set-up for the next 2 weeks, and will set-up the rest on Saturday and Monday. I have a feeling we're going to be very busy repairing Mother Nature's wrath, from Blizzards I & II of 2010.
Resumes also continue to come in for the Landscape Designer position, from people with zero background or experience in that area, and all I can do is reply, "Thanks, but you MUST have prior experience, as the help wanted ad plainly states." I don't have time to train someone; I need the "to hit the ground running" and take over the position and the burgeoning load off my back. (((sigh)))
Friday & Saturday's rains were much appreciated in melting much of the remaining snow, and cleansing streets and other hard surfaces of salt, cinders and dust. But the flooding in low-lying areas did cause some problems for folks living there. I'll never understand why people buy or build in flood-prone areas.
How about a two-minute "road trip" up Pike's Peak?
Paint an instant garden with your browser; just hold down the left button or click away, and you'll be amazed!
The damage to the lawns is even more pronounced. The clumsy Penn DOT idiots who plowed Rt 24, tore-up hundreds of lawns by plowing far too close to the edge of the road. Massive gashes, thousands of pounds of dirt and sod are scattered on almost every residence from Red Lion to Stewartstown, my 500ft frontage excluded. They got me in the Blizzard of 2003, for about 125ft, but Brad and I flipped-over the torn-up sod, and stomped them back into place, re seeded when ground temps hit 53°F, and the lawn came back beautifully. Sadly, this years damage is 50x worse and will require many thousands of dollars to repair.
My sciatic nerve started acting-up on Friday evening, and by Saturday morning, I was in a lot of pain. I was up at 8 to water and feed the cats, and took a 100mg Gabapentin. So I stayed home, in bed with a heating pad. When I did get up around 12:30pm, I started using a cold-pak to ameliorate the pain. Aspirin helped, too. I stayed-in all day, since driving on the Gabapentin is ill-advised for me.
I watched "30 Days of Night" and "Underworld Evolution"; both vampire & werewolf thrillers, on FX Networks (Comcast 69), on Sunday afternoon. Great flicks.
I'm really looked forward to "Justified", 10pm-12pm on Tuesdays, on FX Networks (Comcast 69), which promises to be a great series.
Monday and Tuesday were "severe clear" and in the mid-50s, and just what we needed to melt the rest of the accursed snow piles. On Tuesday, Alan, Lee & I went "mulch shopping" to try to get a better price for the GC&N Complex and our customers. What we found was eye-opening: inferior grade mulch at even higher prices than I'm now paying. We visited two "mulch factories" and just found crap. I guess we'll stay with our current supplier. AAP Signs made new signs for GHs 1 & 2, since the 20-yr old wood originals were dry-rotting and peeling paint.
I measured 3½" of rain in the gauge since Friday, but luckily no power outages around here, to speak of, even with 60-70mph winds.
Did you remember to set your clocks ahead and lose 1 hour of sleep, on Sunday morning? DST sucks, IMO. Used to be the first Sunday in April; now it's mid-March. Just damn!
The "Virtual Cabin".
After my last encounter with the local militia crazies, I needed some time to myself and my business, so I opted to not visit The Cabin, for a few days. I had too many calls of yard & landscape damage to contend with, and 24+ appointments to set-up and visit. I also had our new Corporate Accountant wanting information from my 2008 & 2009 IRS Returns, and from a $14,300 payment to have the Complex' parking lot resurfaced. I'll get back in a few days, after I stop shaking from that night's encounter.
I made a quick trip back on Friday and made sure that Jenny was okay, loaded her in my Jeep and brought her back to "reality". She'd be fine at the GC&N Complex, until I could sort-out the "militia mess", possibly waiting for me at The Cabin on my next trip. I also brought back my Beowulf .50cal, Remy 11-87 Auto-Loader 12ga and all the ammo. No sense in leaving those valuable weapons and ammo behind.
I decided to go back on Saturday afternoon, after work. DST +1-hour would take effect on Sunday night, so Jenny & I went back to relax for a few hours, before the time change occurred. No sign of the militia crazies. I called Corporal Clay Atler and Sheriff Bunce and let them know we were on our way to The Cabin. They reported that "all was quiet" with the militia crazies, and they hoped it would stay that way. Me too. I had both of their numbers of my cellphone's speed dial, just in case.
I pulled the Jeep into the lean-to, right next to the kitchen's side door. I drew my Kimber .45, chambered a round, checked for broken or jimmied windows, entered the cabin and checked all rooms & closets with my drawn Kimber 1911 .45cal; all was quiet, to make sure it was "unoccupied" and safe for me and Jenny. The snow depth was now at >10", and with all the heavy rain, it'd gotten back down to lawn in many areas. I had to do no shoveling to get inside. At least the mid-40°F temps were melting much of it. I have Accu-Trac on the 2002 Jeep; no sweat. I quickly unloaded supplies as temps began falling into the 30s. The LPG-powered generator kicked-on with the flick of a switch, so I decided to get the oversized hearth fire underway. I noticed fresh truck tracks to the 2 x 1,000gal LPG tanks on the side of the Cabin, so I knew I'd just had another 300-450gal fill-up from Roy's Gas Company in Adam's Junction. Nice. His last bill was around $460, so I knew I'd be good to go for a few more months, at this rate of visitation and usage. Jenny was happy to be back home.
The Cabin warmed-up quickly, and I went out to the back porch to gather a load of split-wood, and logs for the massive hearth. I soon had that fire underway and went to the pantry to get some food for Jenny. I refilled her two dry food bowls, wet food bowl and water bowl. She was soon satiated and curled-up on the Kodiak bearskin in front of the fireplace. I started reading the "5,000 Year Leap".
I heard a truck pull-up the driveway. It was brothers Karl & Allen from ACE Hardware with my new Kenmore 13.0 CuFt top-loader freezer. I welcomed them and they had 2 helpers along to facilitate to appliance exchange. After I'd emptied out the old freezer, they quickly installed the new one and I reloaded it. I gave Karl & Allen a $100 bill to split-up as they saw fit, for their helpers. Karl reviewed the Owner's Manual with me, as it was quite a bit different in operation from the old unit. Karl remarked that there were a lot of low-lying areas in these mountains where people lived in either cabins or trailers, and he was going back to the Fire Dept, on-call with the National Guard, to get them out, should the creeks and streams suddenly rise from all the snow-melt and rain. I thanked them all, and they left. I pulled a filet mignon from the unit to thaw out for dinner, and the rain continued to pour down. Thank Heavens it wasn't snow.
I settled back in my big, comfy leather chair to continue reading "5,000 Year Leap", when a call came over my cellphone. It was Police Corporal Clay Atler, asking if I'd be willing to help out with some rescues of homeowners in flood-prone areas. I said I would, and did he need me right now? Yes, he did. So I pulled-out my all-weather gear, hip-waders, long underwear and another change of dry clothes and shoes in my old US Army duffel bag. I put the filet into the 'fridge; it would have to wait, as it could be a long night, with so many scattered cabins and trailers in these mountains.
Clay said the National Guard had 3 HUMVEES and 2 "deuce-and-a-quarters" already waiting at the Firehall. I secured the cabin, threw a log on to the fire for Jenny, loaded the Jeep, and roared into Adam's Junction, turning left on Main Street and pulling-up into the Fire Dept's parking lot. I was sworn-in as a volunteer firefighter, given a badge and reflective vest and strap-down yellow helmet. There was a USNG Huey Cobra warming-up in the nearby field, with medical personnel, and I was assigned a HUMVEE with full-time Fireman Mike, so we'd have plenty of room in the back for anyone we could carry back to the local Red Cross and Church shelters. We had a map with 5 "red x's" on it, as our targets. I drove and he navigated, as he was more familiar with the area and terrain.
The US Military HUMVEE is specially-equipped to go through 7-8ft of water with an elevated exhaust system, some 2-4ft above water level on the hood. The motor is sealed and rubberized to prevent "short-outs". All in all, it's a vehicle I wish I had, which is 10x the Jeep's structure, minus IED blasts. They're working on "up-armoring" it, though.
The first cabin we found already had water 1-2ft up the front door, and their backyard creek had overflowed its banks and was getting worse as the rains increased and drained down from the hills and mountains. I grabbed the bullhorn and yelled to the occupants, to take the knotted lifeline rope and pull themselves into the HUMVEE. We had powerful spotlights on the vehicle, so it was almost like daylight, instead of evening. They did; fortunately there were no babies of young children to deal with. The current was getting swift as Mike, my Firefighter partner untied the lifeline from the cabin posts and scrambled back into the vehicle. I got the hell out of there as fast as I could and back onto the main road to Adam's Junction to deposit these 4 people to the Red Cross for medical evaluation.
On to our 4th target. This was a trailer, jacked-up on 4 rows of cinder blocks, and the family was already on the roof, with their ladder floating downstream. Once again, I wondered WHY people would settle into known flood plains. Mike didn't have an answer for the question, other than the land was really cheap. I pulled the HUMVEE next to the teetering trailer, and used the bullhorn to tell them to JUMP into the open back of the vehicle. It was only 6-7ft, and they did. Once again, I got the hell out of there and back to the main road to town, to deposit them with the Red Cross for evaluation. We filled-up with diesel fuel.
The 3rd target was going to be a bitch. We had to drive through two raging streams to get to their cabin, which was high on a hill. The family, with small children and babies appeared at the door, and said they didn't need any help; they were okay and could wait it out. I told Mike to call Sheriff Bunce and ask for further instructions on this situation. He said, "go on to your next target." And as I drove back down through those raging streams, I could feel the 4-ton HUMVEE being moved sideways with the water current. Finally, I got us back on to the main road and we stopped to call-in our location (10-20) and condition of the 3rd target. We were instructed to proceed to the 2nd target.
When we arrived, we saw the trailer floating down the burgeoning stream and smash into a bridge abutment and disintegrate. Oh shit! But then, Mike and I worked the massive HUMVEE spotlights and saw 5 people hanging-on in trees. Mike called the Chief and he quickly sent the Huey and medical crew out to target 2, where they lowered a basket and retrieved all 5 people, one-at-a-time. I stared backing-up the HUMVEE, as the raging stream was now becoming a river, and headed our way, FAST. I spun it around and floored it to get back to the main road. Damn, that was too close!
We arrived at target 1 too late; everything and everyone was gone. We checked the trees with the spotlights; nothing. No sign of the mobile home as the now raging river had destroyed everything in its path. Mike checked the listing for who was supposed to live here, but they were new residents and he didn't know any of them. We called it in to HQ, and were told that those folks hadn't come up for the weekend; they were still in Scranton and had just called to see what the damages were, so far. Big sigh of relief, and a high-five between Mike & I, for not losing anyone in the terrible rain and flood.
As we got back to the Firehall, and went inside, a cheer erupted for us for not losing anyone; 100% recovery of lives. I smiled at everyone as they patted us on the backs. Some of the other rescue units weren't so fortunate, as whole families, including little ones and elderly, were missing and presumed dead. "Rescue" had officially ceased, and "recovery" would begin when the waters receded, so we could see what were dealing with. I went over into an empty corner of the Firehall, knelt and said a prayer for those who'd lost their lives, and wished Jesus & The Heavenly Father would bring them through "The Light" into His Kingdom. "Please let them be little and innocent again, Dear Jesus, Our Heavenly Father." As I got up, I turned around, and there must have been 40-50 others praying right behind me. I said "Amen". We hugged and cried together for those who'd lost their lives in the floods.
I found Firefighter Mike, Chief Roy Bunce & Corporal Clay Atler, and asked what I could help with next. With tears running down my face, I quickly lost what little I had of my composure after that harrowing night of rescues. I screamed at the top of my lungs that anyone who sold flood-prone land to unknowing families had signed their death warrant, and should be charged, tried, convicted and executed! Roy, Mike and Clay pulled me aside and told me that the militias sold those properties to unsuspecting families, with the promise of it never flooding, before they could get out. I was incensed and ready to kill, but I withheld my feelings, and surmised that the County DA needed to be informed of this potential manslaughter. I would do that personally, in due time.
I grabbed my old Army duffel bag, went into the men's shower, and changed into dry clothes and shoes. I'd get a hot shower and meal at home, with Jenny. As I came out of the room, Chief Roy Bunce asked me if I was serious about the statement I'd made about selling low-lying, flood-prone land to unsuspecting families, was a crime. I emphatically said YES! And that I planned to pursue it with the County DA. Roy warned me not to, as the DA was a "closet militia member", too. I'd have to take this up to a much higher state level, hoping to find honest and law-abiding people. I made a mental note of that statement. Damned crooked politicians are everywhere.
With my work done for the night, I was very tired, and opted to go home, shower, eat and sleep. I pulled the Jeep into the lean-to, right next to the kitchen's side door. Since the place was wired by Choice One Security, I simply went inside, took a shower, changed clothes, made a filet mignon w/ Bleu Cheese, limas beans, and Garlic Bread. I fed Jenny and settled back into my large, comfy leather chair, lit a Marlboro, picked-up "Samuel Adams: A Life" to read, laid it across my stomach and dozed-off. Within minutes, Jenny began licking my face, waking me up, and we both headed for the Master BR, to get some sleep. I can't remember being this tired, except for 'Nam in the 70s, on 24x7-hr missions and covert insurgent trips into Laos, Cambodia, North Vietnam & Thailand, to get our POWs out of those hellholes. I was 35 years younger back then, and had more "strength, power & oomph". Most of that's all gone now, but I drew on my inner-strength tonight and found there was still some left.
DST (daylight savings time) kicked-in, so I lost an hours sleep, and needed to get back to the GC&N Complex, as Alan, Arthur and Jennifer were due in; Charlie on Thursday; and I had a very busy week ahead, Spring was coming quickly and we had much planning to do. I had a pile of site visits on my desk, which needed visitation and estimates done for damage from the blizzards and 70-mph wind storms. I wouldn't be back for a few days, so I refilled Jenny's dry food bowl, water bowl and wet-food dishes, cleaned-out her litter box and refilled it with fresh "Sure Step", so she'd be okay until I returned on Thursday or Friday. She whined when she knew I was leaving. I'd bring her a nice, juicy T-Bone bone from the local butcher, to make amends when I returned. I gave her a pat and kiss on the head, and she settled down of the Kodiak Bearskin, next to my growing stacks of books.
I arrived at the GC&N Complex at 9:30am Monday, just in time to begin fielding customer calls, make a run to my new CPF-CFP (Certified Public Accountant - Certified Financial Planner) in nearby Dallastown, to drop-off documents they needed for my 2009 Personal & Corporate IRS Returns, and get some refill Rxs picked-up at Rite Aid. I was physically and emotionally-exhausted from the previous night's rescue efforts. I crashed early.
I drove back-up to The Cabin on late Tuesday afternoon, planning to get back to watch "Justified", at 10-12pm, on FX Networks (Comcast 69), which promises to be a great series. I checked on Jenny; she's okay, and I refilled her dishes until I get back here in a few days. Right now, I have too much to do at work to spend any more time here. She understood, as I spent an hour with her on my lap, stroking and petting her. I brought the large T-Bone bone with me, and she settled-down chewing on it. It would last a couple of days.
A few things that Roy, Clay & Mike said about my past US Military history, bothered me. Why should I have to tell everyone whom I don't know, about my past? Obviously, I didn't and used it as an "asset" when called-upon to assist with the Flood Rescue Victims. Nothing more. Now, everyone in Adam's Junction knew about me and what I did in The Nam.
I just didn't need that "unexpected notoriety". I might have to look for a new town to live in my "Virtual Cabin".