God bless us every one.
I have had a very, very long day.
I only worked for six hours, but it nearly killed me. We finally finished clearing the sidewalks and pathways at the Congo Church today from the accumulated ice. In some places it was over four inches thick. I have seen guys fish on ice that thick if it's on a lake. No shit. Not saying I'd do it, but I have seen some that do.
I have an ice chopper, but it is not a very heavy duty one. It's good for half-inch to a full inch ice on a sidewalk maybe. Not what we were working through today. This stuff was brutal. It was thickest in spots where melt had dripped from a roof or along a low spot to collect and freeze. It was incredibly solid ice. My ice chopper and a short-handled roofing shovel were not going to take this stuff on and win. I got the nod from the minister and went to the hardware store for some bigger guns.
I was astounded at the variety and prices of the ice choppers available. Some were very wide and looked almost like a metal razor blade at the bottom. Others were made of incredibly thick steel with a sharpened edge just four or five inches across. And some were of the standard D-sort of shaped piece of metal at the end of a stick. I got one of the D-shaped choppers made with 1/8 inch tempered steel and a nice long handle, and another one, with thicker steel (1/4 inch probably) and a very short blade at the end of a long handle. Both are lethal looking things. It is easy to imagine either one easily chopping off the end of one's foot. Toes and all - shoop - gone! Eeeee shit.
Back at the church, we took our new tools and attacked the ice. Holy shit what a difference it makes to have the appropriate tools. It was still hard work, but it went much better than before. We worked a total of six hours each (my friend A and I). Chop, chop, chop. Scrape and shovel, scrape and shovel. Chop some more.
When I showed our new weaponry to the pastor, she was duly impressed and said that they would be most convenient when next the congregation became unruly and she had to put down an insurrection with force. I told her that I'd heard Congos could be like that. Worse than Unitarians, even. She agreed. It's because Unitarians have the worst time getting organized into a force that everyone agrees with. Consensus is the preferred method there, not majority rule. Congos are far more democratic.
By the time we were done, my arms felt as though they had been extruded from a pasta machine. I was all wobbly and chilled through. We got our pay and hit the local cheap and quick Chinese place for some soup to warm us from the inside out.
The sidewalks were cleared to their full width and to bare concrete. The big, decorative circle made of polished bits of granite and cement sidewalk is cleared and salted well. The steps are clear, it all looks fabulous. I really wish I had taken before and after pictures. I had no idea how extensive the paths were or how thick the ice was on top of them. They will be much easier to clear and maintain now that they are bare.
But my body is suffering.
After lunch, we parted ways. I went to have my weekly visit with my recovery sponsor, who also happens to have a hot tub/spa in her house. I peeled out of my soaked and salty clothes and tossed them in the wash while I was there and dropped myself gently into the hot water. I turned on the jets and high-pressured hot water massaged my feet and my back and my neck. It was heavenly. I held my nose just above the water's surface and felt the teeny little bubbles bursting when they hit the air, spraying me with their fine mist. Gradually, my body warmed and began to relax. My fingers and toes turned first pink then whitish and shriveled. My legs ceased to be the red of cold and became the red of warm. It was very nice. After about 15 minutes, I dragged my now par-boiled self out of the spa, made a cup of tea that I had to ask my sponsor to carry to the sofa for me (shaky hands from chopping and then sozzling) and we had our nice visit. I had no idea how miserable I felt when I first got in there until I noticed how much better I felt drying off and putting on some sweats.
But now my muscles feel like lobster that has been prepared wrongly by a bad restaurant - all mushy and squishy on the inside. I am home, I have had a bite to eat, and I can see no real reason for me to stay awake past 8:30 p.m. I will nuke the little rice pillow things to tuck down by my toes (L hogs the dog, so I cannot count on her to warm my toes) plug in my c-pap mask, hit the button that gives me air and drift off to sleep the sleep of the just. Perhaps I'll take some ibuprofen first, as a pre-emptive measure against aches later on.
It is 8:03 p.m. now. I just have to figure out what to do to fill the next 27 minutes... or not. G'nite all.