Clearing gutters in a snowstorm & more, with photos

February 14, 2014 · 9 comments

in Money issues

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Ugh, the endless snowstorms! I can find a life lesson in almost anything. But this is one I would’ve preferred to skip. Still, I am learning. The takeaway: Be thoughtful about simple, little details. They hold consequences.

This is a huge change in my approach to snow. As a homeowner, I tend to resent all that white stuff. I would usually shovel it as quickly as possible, then hurry back inside, slamming the door behind me.

Lately, the storms have been relentless. Oh sure, taking in the first few quiet minutes of a fresh snowfall are kinda pretty. Then, comes the resignation. And then, the charmless chore of digging out the cars, the house, my life.

We’ve just been hit by another storm:

This latest round put me into a panic. It went on in phases, over 24 hours. There was even thunder snow, with lightening. We went from fluffiness, to rain, to wet slush.

For reassurance, I texted Jeremy Hudson of Hudson Home Solutions, a contractor who is also a friend. Thankfully, he offered some extremely valuable advice that I absolutely must pass along:

Clear gutter down spouts. When down spouts are blocked, melting runoff backs up into gutters, seeps under the roof and gets into the house. Next thing you know, you’ve got a leak in the ceiling. So it’s important to dig out the ends of the gutter spouts. I also made sure that the electrical meters were accessible, just in case of an emergency.

Keep an eye on icicles. If there are heavy icicles, break them off. This will take some weight off the gutters. Jeremy explained why in his text: “When the ice gets too heavy for the gutter, it tends to pull down the gutter which can cause a tiny gap in the back of the gutter, which can then leak into the house.”

Unfortunately, the years to come will bring more extreme snow events. After all, wild temperature swings are part of global warming. Given the new reality, I am transitioning from the usual resentment and resignation to a certain measure of acceptance.

My changing attitude has even inspired me to treat my backyard trees differently. A heavy, wet snowfall can wreck them. My usual strategy has been to frantically whack at them with a snow shovel until they stood tall again. But I’ve just discovered that a pitchfork is a superior, kinder tool. The pitchfork’s tines let me get in between the big branches and shake my evergreens ever so gently until they’re liberated from snow. Plus, a pitchfork is easier to manage and lighter than a shovel.

Understanding how to take better care of my house is an accomplishment! Hmm, maybe I can apply the lesson to taking better care of myself…

There are probably things about me — my skills, abilities and even gifts — that I’ve taken for granted. What if I slow down and take a second or third look at myself from a fresh perspective? I might find something new to appreciate.

As for what I’ve been dealing with in the last day or so, here are some photos:

Yup, I got smacked right in the head, haha!

Anyways, hope you have a great weekend. Warm and cozy is what I’m thinking. And don’t forget about those down spouts on your gutter. xo.

 

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heather Assaf February 14, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Here’s another winter tip – if you are getting icicles you need to top up your roof insulation to R-50 and then you won’t be bothered again. Here in the Ottawa area we have been having extra cold weather with weeks of -25 to -30 C and thus no snow to speak of. Sunny but way cold!!! We did get a lot of snow earlier and will get more for sure! Get those long johns on and remember to layer!! Happy Valentines Day!!

2 betty ming liu February 14, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Oh my goodness…Heather, I can’t even wrap my brain around a minus temperature. What kind of socks to you wear to stay warm? You must think I’m such a spoiled little whiner. Well, maybe I am! Thanks for you advice — home improvement fans, take note. And Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!

3 Heather Assaf February 15, 2014 at 7:18 am

Hi again Betty, Wool socks are still the best and nice fuzzy sheepskin slippers! Combine with long johns, and there are nice thin ones meant for skiing etc. and good old jogging pants, turtle neck and a fleece top! No point spending more keeping your house old-age home hot!!

4 Tobias Grace February 15, 2014 at 7:22 am

A reflection on the snow here in Trenton:
Snow On the Old City
The snow begins in the evening with a feline quiet and intensity. If not for looking out the window by chance, one wouldn’t know the world was being transformed. In the morning, the city awakes to find itself still a wrinkled old harridan with ratty hair and smudged rouge but now incongruously arrayed in a wedding gown of the costliest pure white lace, set with innumerable jewels of sparkling crystal. For those few moments in the brilliance of dawn, she is young and beautiful again and full of hope. It reminds us of what might have been for the city and what might still be for any one of us – that we are capable of transformation into something better than we are – but that it must go deeper than a lovely costume for by noon time, the city’s ephemeral disguise has begun to change back to rags – like Cinderella’s ball gown. The streets are grey with slush. The sidewalks are unevenly shoveled or tramped down. The sun is melting the coronets off tree branches. The rents and threadbare patches are starting to show. The beldame has had her brief moment – this unexpected gift of a beautiful gown. For a moment she saw herself pirouetting again as in some long past time and she has at least that memory refreshed as she sinks back into her mumbling, querulous routine, again lost on the same street corner she knows as home.
Her ancient companion, the river – by her side from the very beginning of time, is still there, though not much help these days. Once they were a team – busy, prosperous, the one feeding the other with success but all that is just dim memory now. Indeed, since a highway was built between them, the relationship no longer has a purpose except just to be. They remain out of force of habit though these days they seldom speak to each other. The river has been frozen for three weeks now – ice dams sometimes forming and causing the river to overflow into a few of the city’s lowest parts – nothing serious – just a tug to say “I’m still here, old girl…do you remember…..? Two ancient creatures, tottering toward a destiny they have forgotten, mumbling and shambling with occasional outbursts of strident meaning that no one understands. But they perhaps, understand. They have their memories. Or at least, they imagine that they do. For a few moments, she was a princess again, and he still loved her.

5 Stephen Gerald February 15, 2014 at 8:54 am

Hey Betty, Brrr… I cackled when I saw the photo of that pile of coming towards your head. I had two thoughts at the same time. First, did you duck in time? Second, who snapped that shot at just the right (wrong) moment? From the looks of it, I’d say you ended up with a snow hat, a snow scarf with wet flakes trickling down your neck and back, snow “earbuds,” and chilly snowy eyebrows! Yep, it looks like you “took one for the team” right in the kisser! Now… there’s even an easier way to take care of your home in winter—with a lot less back breaking work. Move to the “Friendly Blueberry City in the middle of the Red Cherry Pie State!” That’s Austin, Texas, of course! We never worry about icicles on the gutters or snow on the roof! And there’s only one real use for a pitch fork, and it ain’t for pitching snow! (Heeheeheeheehee). So pull your ruler out of the snow and use it to draw a beeline from where you are to the Capitol of the Lone Star State! BTW: we barbecue outdoors year round!

6 mary February 15, 2014 at 11:57 am

Thank for all the great tips! My leader empties out right onto my driveway which has been a skating rink. The problem with getting the snow off the evergreens is that I had to stomp through two feet of snow to reach them. Spring can’t come fast enough!

7 betty ming liu February 15, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Hi! I’ve been out shoveling snow and then I needed a nap. Will have to make dinner soon but wanted to check in first.

Heather, wow! I’m not ready to handle that sort of cold but at least I know how you do it. I was in REI the other day and there was a whole wall of merlino socks. The salesman says there are dozens of styles, some for spring/summer that are super-light and others for -50 temps. They’re all soft now, no longer itchy.

Mary, the pitchfork works, I swear! You don’t have to stand right next to the trees. The prongs do a wonderful job. But I’m with you. Spring, where are you?

Well, gonna cook dinner now. And then, back to bed. I really want to hibernate right now. xo

Toby, I live near the Hudson and never saw the snow in romantic, mating terms. But the images are in my head now. Might put a little more love in my life too. Thanks!

Stephen, haha! You are leading the life. I guess you don’t miss being in NYC. The photo was taken by my daughter’s bf. I made them come out and stay with me while I climbed up a ladder haul snow off the porch roof. They couldn’t stop laughing. They’ve been shoveling every day so I’m glad I could offer them some free entertainment.

Mary, the pitchfork works great. The prongs will get to places you can’t. But I’m with you…I want spring too!

Well, gotta cook now. Then back to bed. I really want to hibernate. Stay warm, everyone! xo

8 cathy allen February 16, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Hi Betty, thanks for the great snow tips. Just got back , tonight from Puerto Rico .A few days of warm sun, beach and play . I ‘m fortified..bring on the weather! Cathy

9 betty ming liu February 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

First, we get Stephen singing the praises of Austin, TX. and now you in Puerto Rico! Mmmm, that sounds really fantastic. Glad you had some play time. You deserve it, Cathy. And….welcome back. :)

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