Sunday, December 09, 2007

Of Snow and Squirrels

Earlier this week, the forecast called for light snow, with an accumulation of 1-3 inches of the white stuff. Oh boy! I could hardly wait! Every kid (and apparently every teacher as well) has a ritual intended to help encourage the snow to fall earthward. I'm no exception.

At the slightest hint of snow in the forecast, I don my snowflake earrings and wear them every day until it snows (or until I realize that no matter how much I want it to snow, it is physically impossible when the temperatures are hovering around 70 degrees). Understand that my employment is not in the vaunted halls of education. That means that if it snows on a workday, I still have to go to work. Which means driving in Washington, DC area rush hour traffic, which is bad enough when the driving conditions are perfect. During a snow event, the traffic can reach epic proportions. (When I was living in Baltimore and commuting to Reston, a 65-mile commute, it once took me over 5 hours to get home one evening. Actually, I never got home; I turned around and stayed at a friend's house that night. I think I had traveled at total of 30 miles in 5 hours.)

So, ignoring the ramifications of snow on a workday, I wore the snowflake earrings on Tuesday. The snow was supposed to start falling around rush hour, but the forecasters assured us that the road surface temperatures were too high and the snow would stick on the grass. All would be well. Traffic would still be snarled, but it would be because everyone would be admiring the snow as it gently floated down from the sky, not because of treacherous driving conditions.


The snow actually started in the middle of night and when I arose Wednesday morning, my little world was blanketed in snow. The grass wasn't totally covered, but it was close. I did a little happy dance, thought briefly about working from home, then ditched the idea because it was probably snowing only in my town and I'd look foolish if there wasn't any snow at the office 25 miles away. And a glance out the front window showed that the road was relatively clear. I prepared for work, girded my loins for the commute, and headed out.

I think of my commute as being tripartite: toll road, Route 28, and Route 50. Each presents different driving environments and a smooth commute on one leg of the journey does not necessarily mean a smooth commute on all legs of the journey. The first half of the first leg lulled me into a false sense of security. The traffic was very light, although it was moving at a slightly slower pace than normal. I was pleasantly surprised because people were actually driving responsibly, including those in SUVs. Most people had opted to stay home, I thought. Excellent, they probably needed a day off from their stressful jobs. Good for those type-A personalities!

And then traffic stopped at a place that indicated that most people didn't stay home. Instead, most people were sitting in traffic all around Washington metro area. One traffic report reported that time to drive from Reston Parkway on the toll road to I-495 (the infamous Beltway) was 55 minutes. That portion of the drive should take 15 minutes. The problem was that because it started snowing earlier than expected, the road crews didn't start treating the roads until rush hour, after the bridges and ramps had frozen over, causing unsuspecting commuters to lose control of their vehicles. I was beginning to think that I should have worked from home after all, but too late; I was committed (it was also my turn to bring the bagels). It took about 90 minutes to get to work, which in the grand scheme of things wasn't too bad. It took some people (covering about the same distance as me) 3 hours to get to work. Bleh.

It continued to on and off throughout the day and by the time I left work, it was snowing right properly. Fortunately, most people had left early and traffic wasn't nearly as bad, even though the driving conditions were worse. It took me 50 minutes to get home, which is only 20 minutes more than normal).

And the morning, our backyard looked like this:

Of Squirrels
At various times in the morning over the past couple of weeks, I've heard odd noises coming from the roof over our bedroom. It varies from what sounds like someone running over the roof to mourning doves cooing. Every now and then, there are scritching noises. Tom figured out what it was yesterday.

We have squirrels living in the ceiling.

Of course, this provides endless entertainment for Emma as she tries to figure out how she can get through the ceiling to catch them. However, squirrels in the ceiling are not a good thing. They could end up chewing through the wall that separates that portion of the house from the main attic and have access to the rest of the house. My main fear, though, is that they'll chew through the wiring and burn the house down. Tom's mission today is to figure out how to rid the house of squirrels and block their access area. Given that it's cold and rainy, that's going to be hard. The squirrels are not going to want to leave their dry, cozy home.

Knitting Progress
I have knit 13 rounds on the Gentleman's Fancy sock. However, I haven't made any progress because I am apparently incapable of reading the pattern. I knit five rows of the pattern, only to realize that I forgot the change the pattern at the center back. Out came those five rows and I started that repeat again. I was so pleased because I was making good progress. Then I looked at the pattern again and realized I had just knit the next repeat instead. So now I've got to rip out eight rows. The sock and I (or perhaps the pattern and I) are no longer on speaking terms. This is a problem, because it's my one piece of Christmas knitting. Sigh...

The Counterpoised Shawl, however, continues to hold me in its thrall, even though it sits all alone most days. I managed to knit one pattern row this week. The next row is a purl row, then comes row 7, my nemesis row. Will I be able to knit this row without error? Or will I discover an error at the end of row 9, which will involve tinking hundreds of stitches? Stay tuned!

Since today is gray and rainy, it's a perfect knitting day. It's also the day we're supposed to get our Christmas tree. I'm hoping that Tom will be too tired after his run this morning to feel like going out and finding a tree. I'm really not feeling motivated to get a tree. Next week would be much better.

Happy knitting!


Sheepish Annie said...

My commute is similar to yours and really not fun in bad weather what with the changing driving conditions! You have my sympathy...just not my snow days. I need those. How else would I have gotten the Christmas tree up?

Anonymous said...

Can you send some snow this way? It's almost cold enough (finally) . . .