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Editor's blog, snowbound at home
Updated on: 12.26.12

Like most other places in Brown County, the Brown County Democrat office is essentially closed today thanks to last night's snowstorm. But newsroom staff are still working from home and from our neighborhoods, calling around to get updates on road conditions and closings and gathering storm stories from the Blizzard of 2012. You can contribute to our coverage by sending email to newsroom@bcdemocrat.com with photos, your observations of conditions in your area or comments about how you're spending your day. We'll be reporting all day on this site and on our Facebook page.

Stay warm and be safe.

-- Sara Clifford, editor

Editor's blog: Dec. 26, 2012

4:30 a.m. Awake already. Climb the stairs to the living room and peek through the blinds. Yup. Forecasters were right. Under the dusk-to-dawn lamp outside I can see it swirling, probably at least 3 inches right now. Not looking forward to the hike-then-drive into work.

6 a.m. Alarm goes off. Decide I'm not getting up to hike down our hill and find my car. My husband was born during the blizzard of '78, and my mom made several false-labor trips in the snow with me in '80. Not anxious to have a similar story to tell my second child, who's not due for seven more weeks.

7:45 a.m. Roll myself out of bed and walk to the back hall door. In the haze of snow and dawn, the ground is glowing blue-white. “Mom?” calls my 5-year-old from his top bunk. He scrambles down on the word “snow” and rushes to the window with me. “Humassive!” he declares about the accumulation. Nice word, my boy.

7:55 a.m. Post weather warnings received in my inbox so far. County travel status is “watch,” meaning “don’t go out unless you really have to.” I dig my boots out of the closet, don my Michelin Man coat over pajamas and robe, and root around the junk drawer for a ruler. “Iris,” our boxer/cattle dog, bounds out the front door with me and my camera. Initial inch count: 5 on the porch railing. The driveway has disappeared, and all is silent, except for the sting of flakes hitting my face.

8:05 a.m. Indoors, my husband is up grinding coffee, our son is clamoring for help with his Christmas gifts, and the dog is still swirling and snorting from her first encounter with real snow. “Working from home” is going to take some real work.

8:25 a.m. Over a bowl of Cheerios, I start getting texts from other staff who've made the same decision. We split up tasks as we set up our kitchen workstations. A day off for others means a day in overdrive for us.

9 a.m. Suit up to follow my husband around with a camera as he's making his rounds on ranch chores. Discover that coveralls weren’t made for third-trimester maternity wear. By the time I find something that fits, he’s shoveled a path from the porch, and off we go. The back pasture has never seemed so far away. In places we’re sinking nearly up to our knees.

9:10 a.m. The herd greets us with snorts, impatient whinnies and clouds of breath. Derek unburies the four square bales he’d set out last night and throws flakes of green over the fence. The horses mutter and bump each other like teenage boys in a lunch line, baring their teeth as they stake out their piles. Iris darts and snaps at their hooves, playing hall monitor.

9:45 a.m. It is freezing out here, and of course, the gloves I’d grabbed have holes in the right index finger and thumb. While Derek looks for fence breaks, I start back to the house on a trek that has seemed uphill both ways. He catches up to me near the dam and we check on the chickens, all snug in their coop, if a bit confused as to why we’ve locked them up for once. Porch ruler snow measurement: 8 inches.

9:50 a.m. Back in and warming up while our son watches “Ice Age.” Call the newspaper office and talk to the intrepid Keith Fleener, the only staff member of six who’s managed to make it in. There’s nothing going on in town, he reports, except for people like our neighbor, Bruce Gould, out shoveling. Even Keith is going to be trekking back home soon.

10:30 a.m. “I can hear things popping and cracking out there,” my husband reports after checking the rest of the grounds, and he’s not talking about his back this time. A limb came down under the weight of the snow and punctured a hole in one of the canvas tipis on our ranch. Derek still thinks he wants to camp out there tonight. I predict he will be sleeping alone.

11 a.m. The police scanner is crackling to life. Fruitdale responders are reporting vehicles sliding off all over the place on 135 North. Wreckers are being called to Lanam Ridge, Three Story, Brownie’s and 45. “I’m trying,” the wrecker driver answers dispatch. “I’ve been off the road more than I’ve been on it.”

11:30 a.m. Breakfast for lunch. The whole house smells like bacon, and the boys and the dog are happy.

Noon First photo gallery of the day posted. Readers send in snow pics from Nineveh, Monroe Lake, Lick Creek and Nashville. “View from my porch” and “ruler in snow” shots are the most popular. Highest snow drift reported so far: 24 inches at Lori Haggard’s home on Ford Ridge Road.

12:15 p.m. Make contact with Brown County Democrat reporter Kevin Lilly, who’s trekked a mile down Three Story Hill to Fruitdale Market on foot with a camera, a notebook and hope that he can still get a gallon of milk and some toilet paper. Success, on all fronts, he reports. He talked to some stuck drivers, took photos at a slide-off and has been hanging out at the market, waiting to see who walks in. Highway department crews are out, he says; he just saw one about 10 minutes ago on Three Story.

1 p.m. Bundle my son up like the kid on “A Christmas Story” and send him out to make a snowman with Daddy. The snow isn’t packing quite right yet, my husband reports, but that doesn’t stop our son from making a bunker in the 3-foot-high pile by the front porch.

1:30 p.m. Brown County Democrat temp reporter Suzannah Couch, snowbound on Lick Creek Road, reports in with an interview with Brown County Highway Superintendent Claude "Smokey” Presseau. His basic message: “Stay off the roads. … ... I can't do a road when there's a car sitting sideways in the middle of it." He says the goal today is to get all paved roads plowed both ways. With at least a foot of snow on the ground, "that's going to be a miracle, but that's our goal."

2 p.m. I hear the tractor running and come outside to a snow pile six feet deep in the front yard. My husband and son are making a snow fort. 

2:30 p.m. The boy clomps in, hat and gloves caked with snow. "I need to warm my bones up," he says. Cocoa break for him; coffee break for Mom.

3 p.m. The little one is asleep with his head on Dad's lap, snuggled up with the electric blanket.

3:20 p.m. The National Weather Service cancels its blizzard warning; it appears the snow may be over. County government offices will still be closed tomorrow, though, and travel is still restricted to emergency traffic. On the scanner, volunteer firefighters are out assisting with downed trees and slide-offs; even a highway grater has had to call for a wrecker. 

5:15 p.m. Finally caught up posting readers' snow photos, plus more than a dozen from downtown Nashville from BCD advertising salesman Keith Fleener. A snow story arrives in my inbox from reporter Kevin Lilly's Fruitdale neighborhood. Sounds like it's still pretty bad out there; the highway crews are in for a long night.

7 p.m. Cabin fever has set in. My husband is reorganizing everything in the kitchen cabinets.

8:50 p.m. Sent revised plans for next week's paper to all staff. Because of the New Year's holiday, we're supposed to be producing this one early, which means we now have two days to do it. While the boys play cards on the living room floor, I'm still stuck to my chair. Eyes blurring. Energy waning.

9:30 p.m. Following my son to bed. Planning to actually get up with the alarm tomorrow morning so I can be on the road to a 10:30 a.m. Bloomington doctor's appointment by 8. I'll post video from the drive if I can make it down Schooner Hill in one piece. Happy blizzard recovery to all, and to all a good night.

 

8:47 a.m. Thursday: Mom, you'll be happy to know that after crawling into town on 46 East, I decided to reschedule the doctor's appointment. You can stop worrying now.

  • December 21
    'Gone Girl' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 21
    Railroad museum features model Christmas trains´╗┐
    1 to 7 p.m. BC RR Museum, 18 W. Three Story Hill Road, Fruitdale
  • December 23
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 23
    Open 12-step meetings in New Bellsville area
    6 to 7 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • December 24
    Nashville government offices CLOSED
  • December 24
    Christmas Eve Communion service at Becks Grove church
    7 p.m. Becks Grove Christian Church, 8009 Becks Grove Road
  • December 24
    Candlelight service at Helmsburg church Christmas Eve
    7 p.m. Brown County Community Church, 2370 Main St., Helmsburg
  • December 24
    Candlelight service set for Christmas Eve
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • December 24
    Cordry church hosts candlelight service Christmas Eve
    7 p.m. Church of the Lakes, 8844 Nineveh Road
  • December 25
    Government Offices CLOSED
  • December 26
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • December 26
    Brown County Government Offices CLOSED
  • December 26
    'Interstellar' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 27
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 27
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • December 27
    'Interstellar' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 27
    Live band at dance barn
    7:30 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • December 28
    'Interstellar' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 29
    Jackson Township Board
    7 p.m. Jackson Township Board, Trustee's Office, 5765 Carmel Ridge Road
  • December 30
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 31
    Live band at the Playhouse
    8 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • January 2
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • January 8
    Go Club meeting Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • January 10
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • January 14
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • December 7
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.