Winter can (snow)blow me.

When you have 33 inches of freshly fallen, heavy, wet snow in your 200 foot-long driveway, and haven't had electricity for 14 hours, this is not how you want your snow blower to be:

Unfortunately, you are looking at the state of my snow blower at approximately 7 pm last night.

The day before, I had noticed that this giant behemoth monster snow-thrower (that I bought with my approximate life savings two winters ago) was kind of laying down on the job and not so much "throwing" as it was "dribbling." Whereas it used to throw snow to the other side of the street, now what it was doing was more akin to what a baby does when it doesn't like its creamed spinach, or what toothpaste looks like coming out of the tube or -- well, I'll just stop right there because you are all perverted and you will take it to weird places in your collective heads. It seemed ok as long as I wasn't pushing it hard and it wasn't under load. As I was taking tiny little nibbles at the snow bank to avoid jamming the chute, I thought, Well, the snow is really heavy and sticky so what can I really expect? and then I realized I was making excuses for my man-machine. (It's not the first time, and it won't be the last.)

After about the 5th time the chute plugged up and I had to stop it and manually eject a solid tube of slush with my frozen hand, I decided that there was no way that this is how it should work, regardless of how heavy the snow was. Something was clearly wrong in the underpants of my snow blower. I sighed and broke out the wrenches.

I flipped it up into the sad position you see it in the picture, and unbolted some stuff. I've never had it apart before, but when I looked in there I could see that the drive belt was loose and partially shredded, so using all of my mechanical aptitude in one fell swoop, I deduced that was the problem. After a few more minutes of poking and prodding, I managed to get the old belt off. I knew that I didn't have a shot at finding an Ariens dealer that was open, so I did what anyone would do in my shoes. I went to Lowes. I reasoned a belt is a belt is a belt, and they sell snow blowers so what the hell. I planned on going there first, and then hitting the auto parts store on the way home if I didn't have any luck.

When I walked in the door at Lowes, it looked like a someone had chucked a cow carcass in a piranha pond. You'd think it was a one-day sale at Macy's or something. Apparently, there were a lot of people who had shitty snow blowers at home. Who knew? Lowes had a guy standing at the door acting as the Blower Greeter. As far as I could tell, his entire job consisted of asking people "Snow blower parts?" and then pointing them down the aisle to another guy standing in front of two metal shelving units full of nothing but shear pins and snow blower belts of all sizes. He took one look at me standing there holding my owners manual and old, cracked belt, and he just pointed and said, "See the guy in the red."

"The guy in red" was a little confusing since Hello? All the fucking Lowes employees wear red and there were about 4 or 5 of them standing around in this crowd of people. So I headed for the guy in red who was yelling like a short order cook taking orders on a busy lunch shift.

I walked toward him, and from ten paces away he made eye contact with me and demanded, "Belt or Shear pin?" I held up my disgusting belt in my blackened paw. "Manufacturer and Model Number!" He caught me off-guard so I said, "Uhhhhhh...." and that was it. He was on to the next guy. "Make and model!" "MTD! Model 2810, Tecumseh engine!" someone yelled back. The snow blower savant would then roll his eyes up into his head, and yell out things like, "V-groove, MTD28PD!" and one of the other guys would grab the correct belt and toss it to the customer. It was a sight to behold. He was the Rain Man of Snow blowers.

As I stood there with my belt in my hand and my thumb up my ass, I realized something: The belt supply was quickly diminishing. I ran over and started pawing through them like Tallahassee looking for a Twinkie in a sea of Snowballs. Since they were all made for models of snow blowers that I didn't own, I was really just hoping to find one that was close. I knew my old one was stretched out and too big, so I was trying to find one slightly smaller. I just eyeballed one from the dwindling supply, snagged it and decided I'd buy it since, at worst, it was head and shoulders above the one I had. As I turn to leave, Rain Man catches my eye and says, "Won't work! V-groove is different on the Ariens. It'll jump out. Definitely. Definitely jump out." OK, so I added that last part.

For a second I wondered how the hell he could tell I had an Ariens by looking at my crappy old belt, and was suitably impressed. Then I remembered I was holding the owner's manual in my other hand. I thanked him, and told him I was going to try it anyway. He said, "Auto parts store! Bring the old one!" and then turned away to help the next person waving a broken belt in the air. I was half expecting him to add something like "83 Buick LeSabre! Air conditioner compressor belt!" but he didn't.

I stopped at the auto parts store, and when I walked in there were two people behind the counter -- a bored, cynical, jaded looking guy on the phone, who clearly wanted to be anywhere else but there, and a young, clean-cut college-age kid bouncing off the walls. While I normally gravitate toward the assholes who know what they're doing, in this case I figured the kid was the better bet. I walked up to the counter and said, "Dude, you gotta save my life." then I tossed the snow blower belt on the desk and added, "Snow blower."

He immediately grabbed onto this challenge with claws and teeth, and I knew my snow blower was going to be working again shortly. We went through a few different belts until I found one that I thought was the right size. Slightly smaller than the one I bought at Lowes, but with the correct V-groove. He had a pretty good sense of humor, or maybe it was just late. At one point I asked him how much it was going to be, and he said, "Just give me all your money." We then had a five minute conversation about how it would be really funny to stand behind the counter with a gun and just rob the random people who came into the store to buy stuff. I'm sure the grizzled old dickhead he was working with probably hated his guts, but he liked his job and was friendly and helpful, so I give him +5000 JV points.

I bought the belt and headed out to my car to make the 20 minute drive home. By this time it was getting pretty late, but the rumor was we could get another 16" of snow tonight, so I knew I'd have to install it before I went to bed. When I got home, I measured the pulleys, and ended up installing the belt from the auto parts store. I flipped it back onto its wheels and started my man-machine up. It stunk a little bit like burning flesh, but I ignored that and immediately ran it full-speed into a snowbank -- and was completely amazed. Holy crap, what an improvement. It was no longer throwing snow like Richard Simmons in a snowball fight with a group of high school boys. It was throwing snow like...like...someone who throws baseballs really fast and strikes lots of people out. Yes, it was that good, and yes, sometimes I wish I watched sports just so I could use sports analogies effectively. Also, I've realized that any sentence that includes Richard Simmons and high school boys sound dirty regardless of what they're doing.

Winter can officially suck it. I am trying and failing to learn some rudimentary Spanish for our trip to Mexico, but I haven't learned how to say that yet. I'd like to, because they'd probably get a kick out of some pale white gringo running around screaming that phrase at the top of his lungs.

Lastly, my wife got this e-mail from her website "contact me" page today:

Me has sent you a message using your contact form at: www.ANNIESORIGINALS.COM
Senders email:
Subject: WTF are you selling?
Message: Seriously? What is it you are selling, the little flower thing on the itchy hat, just the hat or both?

I would just like to thank you, whoever you are, for your constructive criticism. I'm guessing from the bogus return e-mail address you provided and the assholish tone of your message that the entire purpose of this exercise was to try to make someone else feel like shit, and in the process, feel slightly better about yourself.

I'd like to take this opportunity to say I'm sorry for your small, petty existence. Good luck in the future, and please don't jump in front of a bus. That would have the unfortunate consequence of making everyone on the bus late, and that's just plain inconsiderate. I suggest pills.

To everyone else, thanks for the kind words. She's doing it for the same reason I write this blog. It's fun, dammit!


  1. That's a shit ton of snow dude.

  2. That was taken TODAY after we lost about a foot to the rain. I was too pissed off and greasy last night to take a picture....

  3. Awesome story, per usual. And you're a peach for sticking up for your wife like that. Too bad you can't take a wrench to the rude bastard's throat. (That's what I use wrenches for.)

  4. Remind me to never mess with the Cottrell!

  5. Ho boy. That sounds, uh, fun. Oh. And my mind totally went in the gutter at your analogies . . .

  6. I like a man who's not afraid to get his hands dirty on his man machine. I'm sure your wife feels the same way, since you cleared the driveway AND stood up for her to the sad, strange little person who doesn't appreciate quality when they see it.

    BTW, I am no longer jealous of your snow. After seeing the mud created by 12+ inches last week, I can't even imagine the mess that 30+ leaves.

  7. I just want to say i sincerely appreciate the Zombieland reference in this post. It put a clear image in my head what you witnessed at Lowe's.

  8. Thanks for making me feel better about living where summer lasts seven and a half months. When I first moved down here, someone saw my snow shovel in the garage and said, "What's that?" I gave it away the next year and have never had cause to regret it.

  9. Chris, are you hiring? Where are you?

  10. Here you go darlin'...a cookie for your most awesome post--glad I am not the only one that thinks winter can go suck it.

    Oh--and here's what the English to Spanish translator says "winter can officially go suck it" is in espanol:

    "oficialmente el invierno puede chuparla"

    I am sure there are supposed to be those upside down exclamation point thingys somewhere, but the translator apparently doesn't do punctuation...add your own...make it yours Johnny.

  11. The last time I was in an auto parts store, my wife got in a fight with somebody behind the counter. Apparently they insulted me and I didn't hear, but she did. She "avenged my honor."

    Yeah. We're not welcome back.

  12. El invierno puede aspirarlo oficialmente

  13. JV - Thanks for another great post. Also, I'm handing this to my wife to show her things could be worse. She absolutely hates snow, and shuddered when we got 10 inches a few weeks ago. I showed her the pictures and the amounts that you got and said "see, it could be a hell of a lot worse. Shall we head east?". Yep, she stopped immediately. Now I have another first hand account to show her.

  14. Omigod!!! You met the "Soup Nazi"

    (I'm sure you'll remember from Seinfeld)


  15. My poor husband is out plowing right now. Glad your blower is fixed. Your wife's hats are beautiful, as is she....sounds like jealousy in that email.

  16. Good for you, Johnny Virgil, for sticking up for your wife. Very chivalrous.

  17. Anonymous10:11 AM

    LOL - your great, and your wife makes cute stuff, it's just not for everyone. Have a good weekend.

  18. Anon, that's very true. I'm sure my blog isn't for everyone. But if someone doesn't like it, well...they don't have to read it. Same deal with the hats and scarves and such. If they're not someone's thing, that's cool. But there's no need to be a dick about it, right?

  19. Ditto on the Zombieland reference...

    And yes...winter can suck it...

  20. Anonymous11:51 AM

    I want snow. Can you please send me some of yours?

    Richard Simmons is always going to sound dirty. The high school boys were just overkill.

  21. I literally LOLed at the Zombieland comparison. Hilarious movie.

    I so don't envy you. We got 7 inches here last month, and that's the most snow I've ever seen in my life. That's the most snow I ever WANT to see. We just don't handle it well here in the good ol' south.

  22. Great post, Johnny. And thought you'd get a kick out of the word
    verif: noleg


  23. We have two snow blowers in the barn. Jon has been shoveling the snow this winter. Maybe he'll consider fixing the snow blower for next winter. Good for you for getting it fixed.

    My husband told me my crochet/knit stuff was ghey. It was the hard hearing that, but I finally wrangled his definition of ghey from him. It did make me think about another type of hats/scarves I could make. So, yes, constructive critisism is better than hatefulness.

  24. winter can most definitely suck it. although it is mildly entertaining to see what furniture people will use to mark their parking spaces on the streets of our little city. something about digging one's car out of two feet of snow twice in less than a week gives one a rather asshatted sense of entitlement. luckily, i have off-street parking...

  25. Your sports analogies are a little weak, but describing the Lowe's employee as the Rain Man of Snowblowers more than made up for it.

    We just finished with all of that yuck in the DC area...sorry you're getting it now.

  26. A *little* weak? Wow, you're too kind. I barely know the rules to baseball and I used to play it. Football, I have no clue. Really, all sports are a mystery to me. I find the only thing that bores me more than watching them in person is watching them on TV.

  27. Matt M5:16 PM

    I live in the deep South, where we got an impressive 1 inch of snow this winter. You would think that it was another Hurricane Ike, from all of the fuss.

    Meanwhile, my father and both of my inlaws live in the Maryland area (not together). They are all in their 70's, and dealt with the three or four feet of snow they got with calm and vigor. My dad says that during the first two days of blowing and shoveling he felt really strong. Then for the next to days he felt rather weak. "Don't kill yourself," I pleaded.

    There is nothing like snow to challenge a man to be a man - The Mover of Snow.

  28. Anonymous5:55 PM

    I'm not at all happy with my snow blower. In past years it refused to start when it was cold. Not a great feature in a snow blower, but I could at least drag it into the basement the night before. This year it not only wouldn't start at all, but when I pulled it for about the 50th time the cord broke loose and somehow caught on the shroud cover thingy and sent it hurtling into my left nipple. I now have what may be a permanent scar on my ariola, and a very sore back from shoveling 50 yards of driveway with 30+ inches of snow.

    I'm thrilled to hear another man admit that he is bored shitless by sports. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to shoot myself in social situations when other guys start yacking about this or that overpaid nuckle heat and what his stats are in some kid's game or other.

  29. Anon, I totally agree, and admitted this to everyone about 5 years ago. Also, you should totally get a nipple ring to cover up the disfigurement.

  30. Anonymous10:24 PM

    that dude (and yes i'm positive it was a dude) that emailed your wife? He did it because he has a teeny tiny penis and has never used in the vicinty of any female. But I'm just guessing.

  31. How are you positive? I figured it was a dick move either way, but...

  32. Remember to buy an extra belt or two for next year....

  33. Anonymous10:51 AM

    Great post JV, Love the Rain Man of Snow blowers reference. When I want to freak people out about the ridiculous amount of snow we get here in the (North of) Syracuse region I tell them about our roof rake. I never heard of them until we moved here, but part of winter maintenance around here is regularly raking your roof to remove the tons of accumulated snow. You show them that and they can't believe people live here!

  34. That's the problem with the internet. No one to police the aholes.

  35. Dammit Ray, you sound like my dad.

    Anon, I have a roof rake too -- and I managed to pull a vent off my roof with it a couple of years ago so I don't use it much anymore.

    Lilu, yeah, that's the price of allowing (relatively) anonymous access. I just thought it would be fun to call them out because the site is new and chances are good that the e-mailer came from here. Oh well, aholes are everywhere, so it's no surprise, really.

  36. I love your wife's hats. Anonymous mean email-ers can suck it.

  37. Snow. What is snow? I've never seen it so I don't believe it exists. It’s just some big conspiracy. You probably constructed the whole post in some huge abandoned warehouse in the desert. Same place they did the moon landing.
    Just one last thing. Well done with fixing the lawnmower, I mean snow blower.
    Snow......yeah sure.

  38. Anonymous10:47 PM

    I'm positive it was a guy because I'm a woman, and more importantly that is a teeny itty bitty tiny penis comment that the(most likely) cocksucker said. So there.

  39. Anhara, thanks. Jay, I'll send you some...anon, sold. I believe you!

  40. Anonymous1:55 PM

    Annie's hats are adorable. It must have been from a competitor who wanted to dissuade her. I hope she took it as a compliment. Seriously.

  41. Anonymous7:26 PM

    Thanks "AG" and everyone:)
    I just sold #100 and I'm still having fun:)


  42. Nobody, and I mean nobody, can tell a story like you do. I'm sure I'll never look at the guys in the red vests at Lowes the same way again. Anyway, sorry about the ridiculous amount of snow you've got. (But at the same time I am am ashamed to say that I'm glad I haven't seen that much snow this winter). And as for the ass-wipe who left the comment about your wife's hats, I take comfort in knowing that he has no friends cuz everyone knows he's a total asshole. Thanks for a great read.

  43. ¡chupame el invierno! will work. You definitely want to use the verb chupar, not aspirar, chupar is the root of a million gritty sayings. Literal translation of above would be 'suck me winter!'

    Where you going in Mexico? I'd buy you a drink if you are in Yucatan.

  44. Jonna, we'll be in Playa del Carmen. Just look for the glowing white couple who are afraid of the sun. That's us. We're not vampires, we swear. We just look that way.

  45. I want to find a man that loves me and sticks up for me just like you do for your wife. Thank your Mom for doing a good job with you!!!

  46. I wish I could find the person that left your wife that email - and I am of the opinion that it is a woman - a very jealous, hateful, non talented, back stabby, mean woman. As only one can be.

    I went to look at her hats and I have to say they literally brought tears to my eyes. I have a terminal illness and as a result my hair has thinned and fallen out in places. I wear hats almost constantly to keep my head warm and I guess to hide what little hair I have left. However I hate itchy, scratchy store bought hats - I know the manufacturers try, but they aren't meant for people in my condition - they are more for winter wear and style.

    Your wifes hats are going to afford me the warmth I need, but I think I might look pretty too. If only for the day.

    So to the person that emailed? A great big rasberry and a good dose of "go to he**" you aren't worthy.

    I am going to wait until my husband comes home so he can help pick too - but I can't wait. Thanks Annie :)

  47. Anonymous3:13 AM

    Heh. I've been jealous of my American friends all my life during winter, as we have no snow where I live in Victoria, Australia. (And I mean NONE. I consider hail rare and the closest I get to it.) However, your blog has showed me the light. SNOW CAN SUCK IT! XD

  48. You are so funny, thanks for that.

    Anyway, depending on where you are going in Mexico you probably won't need much Spanish. The tourist towns speak English.

    Por favor (please) and gracias (thank you) help a lot.

    Have a good time!

  49. Too bad you can't mail the old snow blower belt to that guy that emailed your wife...

  50. Hey, JV, I feel your pain about winter... Although this year Montréal has been spare the brunt of winter, I remember, in 2008, when we had a "train" of snow storm... No less then four 15"+ storm in less then 2 weeks... with many roofs collapse or near collapse (they hade to close ALL schools, for fear of pancaking the students)...

    And don't listen to that despicable naysayer: the things that your wife can do with yarn and a crochet/set of needles is lovely, with a hint of yesteryear elegance lost to the newer generations... and it's a gay man who tell you this!

  51. Sinclair8:43 PM

    "El invierno puede mamarmela".

    Now go have 5 margaritas, make sure to roll the "r's" while ordering and run down the street screaming that.

    Please have your wife video tape it and post it when you come back

  52. Just saw your blog by coincidence and had to read along. i like you're style. and regarding the guy sent this mail...never listen to those idiots out there in the www - unless they comment on your blog of course ;-)

  53. Thanks for stopping by, Kat!