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 II, the Conquerors

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The guys just came in from having done some major work.  They needed coffee and sustenance.  They are working out their game plan and waiting for Mr. Snow himself, their brother, the snowplowman. 

The fire is warm and we are planning for the rest of the day.  I am going out, once they leave to clear off the hanging snow of the roof (I am just going to try and reach it with the shovel) and clear off the cars.  I then intend to do whatever cleanup is needed from the snowblowers (which I detest).  I just threw Mikey’s cold wet clothing in the dryer as he was libating, stopping the dryer for a moment to retrieve the pliers from the dryer. 

The snow is still falling.  I am just glad that we keep provisions on hand for all sorts of circumstances.  Right now, the best thing to do is to deal with the situation and then make the best of it.  Blizzards and these situations are just like life.

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?

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Trying to get back to normal

Yesterday started out busy and a bit hectic. The last thing left to do was to return the rental car. Since we had changed the original plan and decided to return it on Sunday instead of Monday, we had to take it to O’Hare, which was the only Hertz open. This necessitated, obviously, taking another car to pick me up. Mary Kay and Mikey drove in the Subaru and followed me.

As usual, I thought I had planned for every possible outcome. It is this planning for every outcome that sometimes leaves me in the lurch. I say that because if things don’t work out fitting into my planning, I find it very annoying.

The only major annoyance of a rental car in Chicago is the tollway and its issues. The Illinois Tollway system is quite interesting. They want you to purchase a transponder so you don’t have to stop for tolls. That is nice, and we actually have an extra one, but in my cleaning details, I had organized so well, I couldn’t find it. Technically, that is illegal anyway as I found out, since they are supposed to be “connected” to a car.

My usual car, which has a transponder, was not at home, being borrowed by a son. No biggie, I thought I would just pay with cash.

So, I get in the car and I drive toward the airport. I get off and get ready to pay the toll. Unfortunately, no human beings at the toll stop and the money baskets demanded $.80 in change, and I only had a dollar bill. Therefore, I was forced to “illegally” pass through. That annoyed me to the point where I had what I would call a “meltdown,” a temporary time where something stupid caused me to “lose it” for a moment or two. When I was picked up by MK and Mikey, I was still in that phase. Not that it lasted that long, but I guess the big stresses finally came out in me as I tried to deal with the stupidity of the Illinois Tollway system.
Here is what ensued: I went online and answered a few questions. I finally came to the conclusion that I could not pay my toll online as they said I could, since I owned a transponder and I was in a rental car. After calling the Tollway personnel, they told me that in fact, I had to pay online, that my mistake was in thinking I had a transponder. If I happened to be in a rental car, I had NO transponder. Go figure.

I finally got the info I needed, went back online, and paid my $.80 fee with my credit card. The oddity there is you would think I could take it off a transponder account but no, I had to enter all my info and proceed that way. I was happy when that was over, it was a silly annoyance! They even made me tell which toll stop I was at, which direction I was headed in, the license plate and state of the car.

The rest of the day went okay, Mikey and I went to take a swim at the gym pool. We arrived to find out there was a pool party and we would have to do a workout instead. Luckily, I had my workout clothes, Mike didn’t though!

Mike took the pot roast from the previous evening and made wonderful tacos, they were delicious and we “veged” out for the rest of the evening.

This morning, I flew out quickly when Mary Kay left for work, got in my swim and returned home before Christian showed up with Samantha. She and I took the “whites” I had washed and hung them up. We are almost all done with the cleaning of Mike’s clothing. We still have some shirts that need to be taken to the dry cleaner’s but we are at least normalizing.

After that, Samantha and I watched a little of “Flushed Away,” her new “favorite movie. Of course, we are watching it in French!

More to come…

Big Willy

As I sit here in a coffee house in Chicago I am pondering a question that came to mind regarding “Big Willy.” I am enjoying a nice, hot café au lait near the Chicago River. I came to escape the wintry, blustery weather in the city.

Why is it that Americans seem so interested in changing the names of their cultural icons? We are all acquainted with the Sears Tower, which no longer exists. Not that the building isn’t there, it has changed names! It is now the Willis Tower or “Big Willy.” Maybe I should just blame the Brits, after all they are the ones who purchased it and changed its name!

Take, for example, Northwestern’s Ryan Field which used to be Dyche Stadium or Cellular Field in Chicago which used to be Comiskey Park. Does one think that money may be the reason? Is that all we deem to be important?

As an aside, I wonder how many individuals arrived at this blog after a google search looking for something else?

Enough of my griping! I am going to just enjoy my coffee and shut up!

The Union League Club of Chicago

I don’t get impressed all that easily. Today, for the second time I lunched at the Union League Club of Chicago. I am impressed!

Walking in that very old building alone is to be impressed, the architecture, the décor, the totally put together aspect of it. One immediately has the sense of being thrust deeply into history and power. The place reeks of important decision making and high powered individuals. The surprise, however, is that one doesn’t get the sense that the site takes itself too seriously. Maybe it is just my impression, but it seems like everyone is accepted and appreciated. Maybe it is just that I am wearing the supposedly required “business casual,” although I really don’t know.

It also seems that although this is an important “networking” location, that people are quite possibly here to also be truly philanthropic. The two times I was there we discussed the clubs they sponsor for girls and boys and their successes. Today we also discussed an idea that would benefit kids in the inner city after school.

This place merits a visit and I sure hope to return there soon!