At 5:30 AM, I literally sat up straight in bed.  I knew that there was no sleep to be had.  As I shuffled around the bedroom, MK asked me why I was up.  I responded, “Because I am awake.”  My internal alarm had gone off for some reason.  When it goes off, I heed its call!

I had slept well although seem to have experienced strange dreams.  Every so often I would somewhat awaken to mentally rehash the story line of the dream.  At that point, I wasn’t sure whether it was dream or reality.

So, up I am and set to making the coffee and then to a task I didn’t want to do later.  Before going to bed I had thrown a load of wash in.  Our front loading washer is wonderful, but unfortunately we didn’t follow a Koerner tenet, never to buy something when it is a new model.  Despite the fact that the Europeans have been successfully producing front loading washers for what seems like centuries, we Americans are new to it.  Our model works well but it took us a while to figure out its quirks.  One of the quirks is that you cannot leave the door closed as it will begin to take on a musty odor from the moldy matter it must be producing.  We also learned that you can use almost no detergent, it needs to be very small in volume.  Excess soap makes must as well, or so I am told.

So, I went down to the laundry room after my toilette and coffee production to deal with the laundry.  I knew that I had to deal with the issue of folding the laundry in order to place the new laundry on the racks.  That took a bit of time and then I was finally able to install the newly washed whites from last night.

It is now 6:30 AM and I am finally seated with my cup of coffee.  It is time to reflect on yesterday and today.  I got my coffee and took out the recycling and picked up the newspaper which is too large for Ali to deal with.  I almost killed myself on the slippery pavement which is ice covered from Snowmageddon and now has at least an inch of white fluffy snow.  Apparently we are going to have our record beaten this year.  In the past there were never more than three years in a row with over 50 inches of snow.  The past three years were over that limit and we were at 47 inches the other day.  I am guessing this is a “no brainer” and we shall have a new record. 

Yesterday was nice despite the less than auspicious beginning after our exercise foray.  We went to the nursing home to take clothing for MK’s mom.  Once there we learned that she had not been cooperating.  For us, news of this nature is never a surprise.  We dialogued with the nurses and staff, made them aware that we had two charges in the facility, which surprised a good many of them, and we informed them that we understand what they are going through and that we are very supportive.  We told them, as well, that MK’s mom is to get dressed each day and they are to try to make sure she gets in her rehab and tries to socialize a bit.  We even managed to get her to lunch and she seemed to enjoy it.  My mom was her usual self and doing fine with the situation although she hasn’t been eating as much.  She has lost weight and I think she may have gotten into some bad habits while waiting for her mouth to heal and for her new dentures.  Anyway, there is always something.

We saw The King’s Speech in the early part of the afternoon.  It was amazing from so many standpoints.  I was in awe of the way that the film was made and managed to keep you involved despite what seemed to be a very simple plot that wouldn’t be able to hold your attention for the whole film.  The actors, Colin Firth in particular, managed to totally convince the spectator of the seriousness of the undertaking.  The pain of “Bertie,” AKA King George VI, was evident, obvious, and strongly felt by the audience.  It was a great film and managed to keep us awake throughout the whole time, which at my age is how you can measure the interest of a film!

Did I mention it was snowing?  I just opened up the blinds so we can enjoy the beauty of the falling snow which is continuing to come down in a steady, but persistent way.

We ended up last night going to a Tapas Restaurant with one of MK’s colleagues and spouse.  We had a delightful dinner and then returned home.

Yesterday I also completed my tutoring schedule for the coming week.  I am tutoring two girls consistently each week and yesterday I received an e-mail from another who wants to make sure she understands The Stranger by Albert Camus, one of my all time favorite books. 

The kids are supposed to be heading north this morning for a Super Bowl Day of skiing.  I kind of thought that they were on an early schedule, Samantha is to spend time with “Mumma” and Papi today.  We shall see.  That newspaper seems to be inviting me to read it.  Now that I have my world in control and can approach it and see what is going on.

Oh yes, the Super Bowl.  Weirdo that I am, I am probably not watching it.  Honestly, had the Bears been involved, I would have at least attempted to watch a bit, maybe even more than a bit.  I shall be glad when the game is over; I am sure tired of being asked at the grocery store if my stockpiling is due to that celebration!  Traditionally, we always find something to do that is usually crowded, on this Sunday, during the game, crowded venues are amazingly empty and so much more enjoyable!

Time for some more coffee…


The Aftermath


A view of the snow in front of my house, the sun is shining, it is another beautiful, but very cold, day!  More to come…

Went out to the gym and swam.  It is very cold out and schools are closed again just for that reason.  Following that, and seeing almost the entire family there, I went to Kenilworth to tutor.  As it happens, I am tutoring two girls today in French.  Originally I was supposed to tutor them on Wednesday night; that was canceled due to the bad weather.  Now I have returned home and am planning on taking it easy.  Taking it easy until I figure out some mischief I can get into.

I was wondering what the status of the roads would be.  In our area, they are pretty much totally normal with a few exceptions.  I noticed that the right turn lane on one of the major thoroughfares was not plowed through.  In Kenilworth and Winnetka, south of us, the roads are okay except for the streets and side streets.  They are passable but generally not completely plowed through.  I even noticed slippage as I made a turn from one street to another, and that is in an all wheel drive car.

Okay, so I shall take it easy.  I will do my yoga breathing exercises as prescribed by my doctor.  In looking at my daily blood pressure readings, she agreed that my stats were borderline and a little high on only a couple of days of the month.  She agreed that perhaps my stress level during this time period might be a reason for it.  She asked me to take ten minutes a day to do breathing exercises instead so I learn how to relax.  Hmm, learn how to relax, I wonder if that is possible!

Okay, signing off for now, getting up the fortitude to spend the day with Samantha tomorrow.   That, as always, will be a treat and great fun!

Snowmageddon Night Images

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was looking out the door this evening and noticed the intense beauty of the snow pillars in my back yard.  They were sparkling like diamonds and unfortunately that isn’t totally obvious here, but beautiful nonetheless.

Snowmageddon V: Whoa, still battling and…


Late afternoon, as the snowplowers were convocating in our house, several difficulties came to the forefront:  the plow on Christian’s truck was not responding.  Between grabbing a bite to eat and resting, Christian went out to see what was going wrong.  He did a little bit of Internet research and figured it out, but due to the day that it was and everything being closed, we were out of luck.  Then, his truck decided not to start.  That was a real issue because since the blizzard had pretty much shut everything down, there was no place to get help, and we thought it was the starter.  Finally, the snow blower we had to do the local driveways decided to not function at all.  Earlier in the day a wheel fell off and Mikey put it back on with bolts he found in my newly organized garage.  This time, it totally malfunctioned.

Richie’s shoveler, Danny, was ensconced by the fire to warm up and dry off.  His pants had been caked with snow and his socks and boots were wet and cold.  We fed him, gave him warm socks and some athletic pants to wear while his jeans were drying.  Sustenance while resting before the final snow push!

The pressure was on, there were several big lots to plow and the snow was piled way too high.  Then there were several driveways where plowing had not been consistently done and where the layer of ice was hindering progress.

We brainstormed and decided that one thing we could do was to call AAA for service.  I have a new app for my iPhone and wanted to “click” our request in.  The reaction was that it would not function today.  Then we tried to call them on the phone and the line was busy.  So, I “clicked” the info in and lo and behold, much to Mary Kay’s surprise, they showed up in less than an hour!  To make it even better, since the remote was charging in the truck, it was a drained battery and the truck was started momentarily.  It turns out, if I am not mistaken, that the plow function was affected by the low battery, so the plow was now working.  So, all four guys headed out to finish up the plowing!   Once again, my technology saved the day!

The latest is that we are to get freezing temperatures and therefore we are glad that all of these driveways and such can be taken care of before that happens.  Such is life at Snow Plowing Central!

Snowmageddon IV, Battle won, for now…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is almost a quarter to one and I have just re-entered my abode, sweaty and hot, with slightly cold fingers.  My work has been done for the moment.  I moved the cars back into position between the house and fence. I have pretty much cleaned as much as I could, my left arm muscles are sore from the action of lifting the snow onto the heavy piles.

Check out my pictures this time, I have created a “Snowmaginot line” to prevent further flight of the snow into my walkway.

The boys are still out there doing snow removal.  We have had people stopping by to ask about getting their driveways taken care of.  Good question that one is since the boys are really at their limit and this has been an extraordinary snow experience.

The larger question is, “Is this the last of the snow?”

Snowmageddon III, Stalemate?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I just came in, my fingers are freezing, I need to warm them up before returning to the war zone.  Snow,  5;  Koerners, 1!

Despite all the help I had, I have one large job ahead of me.  I finally managed to clear off the snow overhang in the front and then I unleashed one car from the snow.  I then moved the car to a clean zone so I can more easily clean the snow between the house and fence.  At this point, the snow must be lifted quite high to get it over the snowbanks.

Ali is having a great time.  She insists on my throwing the snow in her face but it is particularly hard to as the snowbanks are so high.  She is totally resistant to cold and snow and loves it.  She was virtually swimming in it, as seen from the pics.

The boys are all out all over the place with snowblowers, plows, and shovels.  We, the parents, are trying to “man the fort.”  Other than removing the extraneous snow, our job is to provide warm food, coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and the like.  I am hoping that the battle we are having against Mother Nature will add more to the “family glue” by cementing our relationships.  Life is far too short!

The snowfall seems to have let up some for the moment.  It is time to get back out there, extricate both cars from their snowy prisons, and then clean up the aftermath. Wish me luck!

Snowmageddon I

the current view at 8:00 AM on Groundhog Day, I guess he isn't going to see his shadow today!

I must admit that I did not make up that title. My oldest used it when talking to his mom yesterday. Looking at the picture, it is easy to see how he came up with such a title. It is eight o’clock and we are snowbound in our home. Mikey is using a snow blower (belonging to his older brother’s snowplowing business) to get us out before going to help clear others out. I have, as of yet, not ventured out. That is unusual. Both Mikey and Mary Kay have made me remain housebound. School, of course, is closed, and MK is at home. I shall venture out to at least do some damage against Mother Nature’s work, at least clearing the stoop and doing some cleanup. Mikey told me that he will get the rest later. Due to the nature of the snowfall and the reaction of the populace, the boys did not go out right away. Things were at a standstill as the major snowfall came and they were not even plowing the streets. So they waited and rested. Once sunrise opened up the day, Richie went out and started plowing.

We are unable to determine exactly how much snow we have received as of yet, due to the drifts. It looks like well over seventeen  inches and we are under a current snow alert that there will be more. The total accumulation could be up to two feet. I just read on my iPhone app that there is an alert in Lake County and all roads are officially closed as they try to deal with stranded motorists. They are asking people to stay in.  Needless to say, the drifts are tremendous, it kind of looks like a topographical map, the huge drift in the back yard looking much like the continental divide out west.

I remember bad snows but this one takes the cake. I wasn’t in Chicago for the famous 1967 snowfall, but we certainly had our share of them in Cleveland. I do remember a few bad ones here in the Chicago area, one actually where the mailman yelled at me for not cleaning my walk. That year was one in which all of us happened to be housebound with a nasty case of the flu and I was totally unable to find the physical strength to actually even clear a path. Those were also the years where the idea of even paying someone to do it was about as possible as finding the needle in the haystack, money being a bit hard to come by in the early teaching years.

I have to contact my tutee’s families that today is not a good day for tutoring. It is just not worth going out. They are frankly even asking us to stay in. I am not sure that that will be in effect later in the day, but I guess so.

Mikey is continuing to work his way through our driveway’s snow as he waits to be picked up by his brother to go out and clear out the clients’ driveways and paths. The sky is still very gray and heavy with a very traditional “snow cloud” look. The fire is crackling gently and both MK and I are fast away at our laptops, she is researching the weather and traditions and such surrounding the groundhog and his predictions. That is so “Mary Kay.”

One thing that comes to mind is my father’s birthday, which is today. He has been gone for so long I sometimes wonder if perhaps I just didn’t make him up as some sort of piece of my history to hang on to. He would have been ninety-two, very hard to believe.

Another funny bit of info is that surrounding the calling off of school. MK told me that the local superintendents were having what she called a “pissing match” with the weather and the school closures. It seemed that in some sort of machismo-like reactions to the meteorological events, they were each waiting for the other to call off school, not wanting to be the first to do so and admit weakness! Isn’t it funny how little the distance we have come from our origins? Even the highest professionals are affected by primitive instincts. I recall, during my teaching years, of always hearing of the same type thing.

Speaking of superintendents, there was a brouhaha in the local papers as some local retired superintendents are collecting money as if it were hanging from trees. As they retired and started collecting their pensions, they moved to another state and picked up another superintendency, thus receiving their nicely sized retirement monies along with a hefty new salary. Seems that I know several of them really well and this information doesn’t surprise me in the least. It always seemed so interesting to me that those of us in the trenches were so often skewered and the scads of administrators who were overpaid were so often overlooked. I am not saying that administrators don’t earn their pay, my biggest complaint is when an administration had far too many “administrators” and then didn’t care, for example, that my conversation class was over thirty students. Let’s think about what kind of conversation you can have in a class of thirty that only lasts forty minutes…

Here it is almost half an hour later, Mikey is still out there and I feel very lazy here in the house. The fire is nice, though. I wonder how long I can contain myself?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.