Pioneer Days

Greetings from the third coast,

Yes, that’s something I heard out here in Chicagoland, which seems to take “second city” one step further in the wrong direction. And I know it’s the wrong direction because… it’s great out here!! Granted, I rarely leave my lovely first floor home office, which is just off the kitchen with a bay window looking out onto a shaded front yard and our quiet, dead end street. And just past the dead end, on foot, I am two minutes from a great supermarket. Like the kind of supermarket with fresh made sushi and iced coffee drinks and smoothies. Smoothies, Jerry! Syd walks to and from the school bus one block away and, just today, Isaac walked himself home from school for the first time after refusing to get into the car which I drove a few blocks to his school because 1) I was running late after a phone call, and 2) because the Midwest has proven a bit dangerous to the health of certain members of the family, including–much to your empathetic distress–yours truly.
Yes, so here’s a brief rundown of our injuries since moving to Illinois. First, Syd slips in her socks on the wood floors upstairs and lands on her elbow. Possibly a hairline fracture, not sure. Had to wear a sling for a week or so, then a bunch of occupational therapy visits (despite our contention that she has no occupation) on Friday afternoons. Second, I found both a fun neighborhood touch football game to play in on Saturdays plus a great ultimate frisbee league on Sunday afternoons. One highlight-filled weekend a couple weeks ago, when I was making back shoulder catches for touchdowns and hush-inducing throws and catches with the frisbee, I collided with an opposing player and managed to break my left pinky. Only seemed jammed at first, so I played through the fifth game just occasionally giving an annoyed stare at my hand, you know, as heroes often do when they are momentarily bothered by pain. The next day the finger was turning a dark shade of purple, so that sent me scurrying to the orthopedic place we discovered for Syd’s elbow, where they asked if I wanted to put it on my tab. No cast or splint, just had to be taped to the ring finger for about a week, which was more annoying then you would think, really interfering with things like typing and counting on my fingers… counting by fives was nearly impossible, much to the chagrin of my coworkers as we counted attendees at a recent training, “Five… nine… fourteen… eighteen… wait, what?”
So then Syd fell on her tailbone twice in one day, the second time during a basketball game, just a couple days ago. And the same day, I was playing frisbee again, happy to have my finger just about back to normal, when some guy ran into me and got me with his cleats on my lower leg. Puncture wounds which I was sure to wash out later that evening, but I woke up this morning with it hurting more than yesterday. Sent a picture of a reddening lower leg to my Dad and Karen’s cousin who’s a school nurse and basically to anyone I had texted in the past two weeks and the consensus was, “Get thee to a walk-in clinic!” And sure enough, cellulitis! So I’m on antibiotics now for the bacterial skin infection, which if left untreated could turn into sepsis and, quite possibly, death. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this all day long: like a couple hundred years ago, or even just any place where you might not be able to get antibiotics fast enough, something as minor as a puncture wound to your shin could kill you?! Now I understand why ultimate frisbee is such a recent invention. And now I don’t have quite as much disdain for Achilles, who died from an arrow wound to the heel. Was it that all his mortality was confined to that one spot, or was it sepsis??
So the medical community has been quite kind and welcoming out here. And so have family and our new neighbors. The kids are a little bit frustrated at having to make all new friends and realizing that it takes a good amount of time to make good friends… which relative to their current ages is a REALLY long time. I mean for all of us — we could probably go a year or more without talking to anyone or watching the news and we’d all feel a lot better for it, am I right? Especially these days? Finding a cave somewhere sounds nice. Is this thing on? But one year is a much longer time when you’ve only lived 9-11 years. And it’s a lifetime for a one-year-old. But our kids are used to everything being on-demand. They still don’t quite know what to do when I’m watching a game on live TV and we can’t pause, fast forward or rewind.
Anyway, so we are settling in to our new house and our new town, which some people here have compared to Mayberry, in an extremely dated reference that pretty soon no one will understand. Syd has the tough task of starting 6th grade in a brand new community and she misses her best friends from Sharon. But she bravely stepped onto the bus on the first day and she’s played in a couple basketball leagues already. Isaac has seemed unphased on the exterior, but we know he’s probably just as anxious as Syd about everything being new. Karen’s liking her new job, especially the part where she rides the train every day to the big city and gets to come home to a hot dinner expertly prepared by yours truly (the instructions on bags of frozen chicken tenders are quite easy to follow). No, when I’ve had more time, I have prepared quite a few meals more from scratch, including my patented linguine and white clam sauce, namely because the great supermarket’s one weakness seems to be stocking the brand of clam sauce that tastes decent out of the can. Wait, two weaknesses: they also don’t have the frozen plantains in a brown sugar sauce (made by the fine folks at Goya) that I absolutely need for my beans and rice recipe. I bought a raw plantain one time and tried to cook it but of course it wasn’t ripe enough.
The great garage project of 2017 is underway. Our house doesn’t have a basement, but it came with two 2-car garages. So I’m turning the detached one into a heated/cooled music studio, workshop and game room. It’s a 2.5 car garage actually, so a ton of space. I could probably make four dedicated spaces in there if I wanted to, so get your bids in on a use for the fourth quadrant. Kimchi storage (that stuff can’t be kept in the regular fridge)? Nail salon? Birthplace of the next Google? The project entailed cleaning it out and insulating the ceiling and walls, which I did with a bit of help from a neighbor. Then we found some local drywall guys who were super nice and cheap, but left a bit of a mess. So we cleaned it out again. Now we’re waiting for the AC/heat unit to be installed, and then I’ll pull out the trusty paint rollers and paint brush. Yes, it’s going to be quite the little space, and my new home if I spend too much time in there and Karen changes the locks.
Ok, I need to sign off, take dose two of the antibiotics, and get some sleep. Crazy amount of work before a new project launches in November. I’ll be in the southern tip of Texas next week training our call center staff on that project, in search of a great taco in between sessions. Hope you’re all doing well, enjoying your convenient access to one of the first two coasts (that’s most of you, I think). Anytime you’re flying into O’Hare, think about making the 20 minute trip due west to the center of the multiverse that we pioneers have dubbed Arlington Heights. We’ll leave the lantern light on for ya.
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Merkel’s Yerkels

I feel like that could be the name of her U.S.-based fan club, should we all decide we’ve completely bolloxed up this independence thing and beg for admittance into the E.U. We’re not there yet? The past six months are just a moment’s retrograde in our country’s history… a history full of moments that would make us all shudder were we to relive or experience them up close?  Continue reading

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Go west, not so young man

Well, only fitting in the early days of this post-truth America that I cannot find a definitive source for the “Go west, young man…” quote. Horace Greeley, a newspaper editor, was credited with this full quote in 1865, which resonates a bit today: “Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.” I guess later Greeley vigorously denied ever giving anyone this advice… probably because he was being named the Secretary of  Housing and Urban Development in some new administration. Continue reading

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everybody knows

What a week for this country. Seemingly everyone surprised by the election result and scrambling through many emotions to determine what Tuesday’s vote really means for our families, friends, and neighbors today and in the near future. Continue reading

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tempus fu**it

Time is certainly flying now at a pace where I recognize the seasons and, if it promises to be an uncomfortable one like with heat and humidity and the prospect of having to forego wearing pants or get near recreational water activities, I can just close my eyes for second and think, “Well, this too shall pass”… and very quickly it does! Continue reading

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thoughts and prayers

I’m taking special note now of how, in the wake of the Orlando shooting, there is a sudden revolt against this common expression of sympathy — an urgent feeling that our “thoughts and prayers” are simply not enough to change what keeps getting purported in this country by misguided and sick individuals. The current election season, as well, has tapped into a strong undercurrent on both sides that is unhappy with the status quo and rejects the typical political rhetoric… real action is clearly needed if we want to disrupt the pattern and maybe reverse some threatening trends. Continue reading

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red giant

Well, I think it’s fair to say most of this election season has had us looking askance at the cast of characters lining up be “leader of the free world,” which should have most of the free world looking for the nearest spaceship. Unfortunately spaceships are in short supply, and Ben Carson won’t share his (badoom-bing). Sorry, too easy… let’s aim higher, people. Continue reading

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