Friday, December 28, 2007

The generosity of Strangers!

Ever since we moved to Madison we've been looking for some furniture for the basement family room. I look on Craigslist every few days and have called or e-mailed several people, but nothing has worked out.

We'd gotten it into our heads that we wanted leather. I should mention that we have a minimal budget for this, plus no way of hauling it home once we find it. Still, I look every few days.

One day I had a "feeling" that there would be the perfect furniture posted, so I signed onto Craigslist and looked through several hundred entries. This took awhile, as I had to look at the pix and compare with things I've already looked at. Eventually I had to admit that I couldn't find anything that really spoke to me.

I went to the kitchen to fortify myself, and thought I'd just look just a little longer. I really felt our furniture was out there looking for us. When I signed back into Craigslist, I noticed a category I'd never noticed before. FREE!

Thinking I had nothing to lose, I opened the link and on the 7th entry I read, "Free couch and loveseat. Navy blue leather Natuzzi sofa." I immediately called and was assured by the woman that the furniture would go to whoever spoke for it first. She had 3 people lined up for the next day, but no one for today. Even though it was snowing to beat the band, we decided to go look at it. The woman lives on our side of town, about 8 miles away. In that 8 miles, we saw 2 cars off the road in the ditch and the traffic backed up for miles. We decided to take an alternate route home and within an hour, we were committed to coming back to pick up the furniture on Sunday.

While looking for furniture on Craigslist, I'd noticed an ad for a fellow that advertises he is available to pick up your purchase for a modest fee ($45). I called him, made the arrangements, and now we have leather furniture in the basement!

It's old (14 years) and scratched (she has cats), but it's comfortable and gives us something to sit on.

Thank God for the generosity of Strangers!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Goodbye 2007

Where did the year go? I think it's time to give up my awareness of the actual date. It stresses me. I don't really pay attention to the date, until I have to write it. Then, when I pause to try to get an accurate number to put on the form, I get stressed that the number keeps passing by without me being aware of it.

Being back in a job that happens 7 days a week plays a number on my head too. My Monday may actually be Wednesday. So, when "normal" people are saying "TGIF" I get confused because it's really only Wednesday in my mind. Then, when my schedule has my days off one at a time instead of two together...well, it gets pretty weird. I rarely know what Day it is, much less what Date it is.

I gave up my perception of time a few years ago. I quit wearing a watch. Quit being concerned with minutes. I developed a pretty good sense of timing. I'm rarely late. There are plenty of clocks to peek at without wearing one on my person. But without that watch, I can spend all the time I want when I have the freedom to do so. I tend to have that freedom more and more. Besides, when I absolutely, positively MUST know the time, I ask my husband!

I'm saying goodbye to 2007 now, because I'm sure I'll lose track of the days and the New Year will come and go without my getting to acknowledge it. Bye. I miss you already!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tribute to Dan Fogelberg

Dan Fogelberg is/was one of my favorite musicians. His music has provided part of the Soundtrack of my life. I listen to his music often and feel renewed, consoled, inspired, and energized (plus dozens of other emotions) after listening. I am sorry he is gone but blessed that he left behind the gift of his music. Thank you for sharing your talent Dan. I am better for it.

"Along the Road" is one of my favorite songs. Thank you Ted Leib for making this wonderful video.

Here is another video I came across, reading other tributes to Dan. This one is special. So sit back, turn up the volume, and enjoy "Go Down Easy"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Whether the Weather...

For a moment, I thought I was through talking about the weather. I was planning to go on to Christmas Lights and other things Christmas. But it snowed again today, so we're back to the weather. In fact, it snowed most of the day. When I went out to get into my car after work, I had at least 6 inches of snow to clean off. The streets are snow packed again. And the main streets were almost cleared! I've come to realize that on snow days, I need to plan an alternate route home. The topography here includes lots of small rises and valleys.In the snow, these small inclines create a problem. I spun out for half a block trying to make it up a very small incline--that was snow packed. What a challenge. Then I get home and can't even think of getting into the driveway. So I parked on the street until someone takes off some of the snow!

Last night I left out food for the squirrels and rabbits. I'm trying to find my bird feeders. I'm worried about what the little critters are finding for food. I want to leave water, but without a heater, the water would just freeze. I'll have to look into it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Slush and Sludge

The weather warmed up considerably today. The snow packed roads became an inch of slush over the remaining ice and snow. This is the kind of slush that collects in the wheel wells until there are monster blocks of dirty slush/sludge that fall off the cars when they get a chance.

I noticed that my wheel wells were full and tried to kick to accumulation loose, but due to the curvature of the mud flap, it couldn't be done. These chunks are so big that it nearly touches the tire! I guess the friction of the wheel turning is all that keeps it from seizing up. It also explains why I feel a slight tug when I turn hard right or left.

After my inability to get rid of the slush/sludge block, I began to notice other cars as I walked along the street. At least half of them look like MY car, so I guess there is no need to panic. I also began to notice dirty blocks of this accumulation on the road, as the various cars gave up their load so they could begin accumulating another. Yes, endlessly fascinating!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Oh What Fun It Is To Ride....

Guess I'm obsessed with the weather. Could be because this is as much weather as I've encounter in many years. Beginning in September, people kept passing the comment, "Yeah, it's going to be the warmest winter on record." I heard this so often, I'd begun to believe it. NOT!

Today we were back to cold and snow. The temperature at noon was 17 degrees! That's below freezing folks. To put it another way, it's -8 degrees Celsius. Pretty Damn Cold in anybody's book. I took Hot Chocolate (the mint chocolate from Trader Joe's made with whole organic milk) to Loren after I got off work and sat in the car with him while we drank it. With the car running and the heater cranked as high as it will go, it was still cold. My feet were chilled and we were putting some serious fog on the windows. Two people came to buy christmas trees while I was there. They both were pretty quick about selecting the tree, paying and getting back in their car. Can't blame them at all.

Driving to work this morning (6 degrees at 5:30am) I encounter black glacier. Black ice is a thin coat of ice not visible to the eye. The glaciers are big thick sheets of frozen ice and snow that are so dirty they look just like the road. I was driving along when I noticed the car ahead of me do a little jiggle. I'd just begun to wonder what thatwas all about when I felt my car doing the same little jiggle. I'd encountered the Black Glacier. It's like driving the kiddy cars at the amusement park. You think you're driving the car, but then the car begins to steer itself as you come to the corners. These glaciers are so thick and powerful that they push your car along their edge and you hang on and hope you aren't pushed into something/someone. Oh what fun it is to ride....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


It is cold again today, but the sun is shining, so it feels totally different. Sitting in my car I was warmed by the sun and felt quite happy. It wasn't warm enough to melt any of the snow, so the snowplows are doing what they can to push the lumps of frozen ice and snow out of the streets.

Many of the side streets are snow packed. Only the main roads are clear, and you don't want to be on the inside lane. The wall of frozen snow is right on the lane edge, so there is no leeway. When the left turn lane comes along, it is so narrow that you're sticking out into the regular traffic lane. Sometimes the wall of snow blocks the view of the oncoming traffic and it's potentially dangerous to make the turn.

There is so much snow that I see dump trucks filled with snow taking the excess out of town. Got to make room for the snow coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

More Snow on the Way...

During my five winters in Wisconsin, these are the worst conditions I've experienced. The heavy, wet snow from Sunday froze in whatever shape is happened to be in and Monday saw icy, snowpacked roads all over the city. I hear cars trying to get into their driveways and spinning out as they try to pull away from the curb. Walking is dangerous as there are big, frozen chunks of ice and snow everywhere. The ground is so uneven it makes walking and driving an adventure (not in the good way!).

There are laws here that the sidewalks MUST be cleared by noon on the day following a snowstorm. Silly me, went to Home Depot to buy a snow shovel. They were sold out! As was Walmart and Ace Hardware. I bought the stuff you throw down to melt the ice. It's something that won't hurt the concrete, animals or the grass. Our landlord cleared our sidewalks, but ice had formed and I didn't want to fall between the car and the front door.

The forecast for today is 2-3 inches of snow this afternoon, followed by 2-4 inches of snow this evening. The snow began, as predicted, about 2pm. New snow on top of the crusty, icy, uneven mess is NOT something to look forward to.

If anyone had told me about the parking situation here, I would have held out for an apartment with underground parking. I looked at a few, but didn't weight my alternatives from my current perspective!

My prediction: It's going to be a long, cold, messy winter. Pray to God I'm wrong!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Digging Out

I love snow, with certain qualifications: 1. I don't have to be outside if I don't want to be outside. 2. I'm not inconvenienced by the presence of said snow.

Today the snow met both qualifications and I'm not enjoying it. In fact, I've cursed and cussed and ranted and raved until I'm blue in the face--under the totally red, cold face that is the result of being outside and inconvenienced.

It took me 30 minutes to dig my car out! Up and down the street people were digging, revving engines, and spinning tires to try to get their cars on the road. The snow was wet and heavy and crusty. Perfect snow for building snowmen, but who has time? I'm afraid that my back is going to ache tomorrow. I'm not used to that type of physical effort. I understand how many people find their way to the ER after a snowstorm. I saw many people outside working up a sweat, if not a heart attack, as they cleared sidewalks and driveways. I'm grateful we have a landlord for such tasks (and he has a machine!).

Madison has a "law" that everyone has to park on one side of the street each night, and we alternate sides so the snowplow can clear the road. Last week, when there was no snow, and no snow in the forecast, we (and several people on our street) got a $20 parking ticket for being on the wrong side of the road.

Last night, even with the heavy snowfall, we were all parked properly. Woke up this morning to find the snowplow didn't come by! So, tonight we have to move our cars to the unplowed side of the street, with the big frozen chunks of snow in hopes that the snowplow will come by tonight to clear the other side. I'm not holding my breath. I'm also NOT paying the $20 ticket. I wrote a letter contesting the ticket. I'll let you know what happens.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Welcome to Wisconsin Winter!

Weather predictions are, well, unpredictable! I think a good weatherman--oops, weatherperson, has a bit better than 50/50 chance of being correct. That said, our current weather prediction has been 100% on target! They predicted 3-5 inches of snow, followed by sleet, then freezing rain. We got more like 6-8 inches of snow, but the sleet came at the prescribed moment and I'm fully expecting it to turn to icy drizzle by midnight.
Loren had to work OUTSIDE in it all day. He came home dripping wet and was sent to take a hot shower while I fixed Hot Chocolate. Not just ANY hot chocolate, but one of those exotic kinds with the hot chili's in it. You get a double glow, which went down just fine on this cold evening. The gingersnap that accompanied this treat was pure pleasure!

Now that we're snug as a bug in a rug, with a whole evening in front of us, I think I'll light a fire (this new fireplace is unknown and untested by me--so I'm hoping not to fill the house with smoke) put on some relaxing music, open a bottle of champagne that has been waiting patiently in the fridge for its moment of consumption, and try to totally relax and unwind.

I can hear that the wind has picked up and is now blowing the sleet into the windows. Thank God we're both home safely and don't have to venture out again tonight. Welcome to Winter---Wisconsin style!

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