muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Two weeks ago, we had snowdrops and aconite in bloom. Last week I saw forsythia, daffodils, and crocus. But I held off posting about any of this because I didn't trust that the spring wasn't false. The meteorologists were saying we were about three weeks ahead of schedule. I know climate change is accelerating, but still that seemed just too fast.

Yesterday it was freezing but sunny. After brunch with one of [ profile] monshu's protégés to discuss his role in the upcoming memorial, I strolled to the lakeshore, tracing the path we would be taking for the scattering. It felt so good being out that I walked all the way to Andersonville, though I took the bus from that point (after spending too much money at Middle Eastern and dallying to chat up the seldom-seen Coleman out on the sidewalk).

Kitty-corner from us is an apartment building essentially identical to ours. They have a huge amount of southern exposure due to the park across the street, which maximises afternoon sunlight. The warmth radiating from the long brick wall spurs the plants in front of it to early sprouting and blooming. I wanted to stop and photograph the daffodil-flanked forsythia I saw there, but it was bisected by the shadow of a tree. No problem, I thought, I'll just come back the next day.


In the meantime we had a couple inches of snow. The flowers of the daffodil are now buried and the forsythia is looking distinctly uncomfortable. Tonight they're predicting as much as another ten inches from lake effect, which isn't much for an overnight snowstorm but really stands out in the disconcertingly mild winter we've had. It's all predicted to be gone by next weekend, however, with the highs currently predicted to be around 8°C or so.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It's rare that the weather matches my mood this well, but it's rare that both the weather and my mood are this mixed up. Today I saw sunsnowshowers like I never have before. One minute, it would be cold but sunny, the next visibility would be shot to hell by swirling snow and the wind would be biting. And the snow itself varied from big flakes to graupel to nearly rain. It was like nothing I've ever seen.

Jack up the temperature at least 6 Celsius degrees and you have Friday, which was a similar patchwork of showers, sunshowers, and sun. Killing time in the waiting room with a trio of associates, I even got a glimpse of a rainbow. They left shortly afterward and it was just me for three long hours until the surgeon came out to speak to me.

This time last night, I was almost in a panic. We had hoped for a simple procedure; we got one as complicated and painstaking as last February. I was fretting about another long and difficult recovery ahead of us. But seeing the Old Man today gave me real hope. By the end of the day, he was able to chat with a visitor (Fig, who spirited me away for dinner at Pearl's) and play with his phone like it was all no big. With any luck, he's got only one more night in the ICU before they return him to the 8th floor.

Of course there'll be more twists and turns before this is all over, but I'm feeling much more confident of my ability to manage them.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
In the end, the snow the forecasters predicted did actually fall, but only for about an hour. Coworkers brought it to my attention around 4:30 yesterday, but by the time I reached Rogers Park, it was gone. Lovely while it lasted, though. Usually by the time it starts to snow the grass is yellowed and dying, but it was a fresh spring green in most places, which produced a beautiful contrast. I was bemused to see so many complaints given what a mild winter we had. We had snow on the same date two years ago (which also melted off in short order) and I remember it lasting into May before.

We have characteristically modest plans for Easter. The Old Man is going to pick up a bit of lamb and maybe we'll invite Nuphy over or something. [ profile] ladytiamat is in town and it looks like I'll have to head down to the Inner Darkness of Hyde Park for a glimpse. I had Fabulous Gay Plans for the day, but they were tentative and likely to be sidelined in favour of gardening anyway. (There's a whole lot of wood to bury and I think the condomates are getting impatient.) I guess I should dye some eggs.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 03:32 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Another slug weekend. Really wasn't my intention but something I ate on Friday didn't agree with me and suddenly the prospect of taking the el an hour each way for a concert lost a great deal of its appeal. Of course I hemmed and hawed up until the last minute because I really didn't like the idea of sending [ profile] monshu off into the cold alone, but the idea of travelling all that way with him only to turn right back around if dinner didn't sit well was too much.

As I feared, it was a less-than-enjoyable outing for him. He ended up on the holiday train, so the trip to the Loop took about 50% longer than it would have otherwise. Then he couldn't find the restaurant we'd planned to go to. He did run into Diego at the concert, which was a mercy, but the start time was delayed nearly half an hour (whether due to poor organisation or poor attendance) and your man had to leave at intermission. It was nearly 11 before the Old Man made it back.

At least I got the laundry done. Plus I watched an awful NetFlic (Vulgar) and started a new novel (El beso de la mujer araña). To compensate, I did absolutely nothing of value on Sunday. I meant to do some shopping in Andersonville, maybe meet a pal for lunch, but it was cold and I wasn't motivated. I at least could've done some of the clothes sorting I've been putting off for way too long, but I didn't manage that either.

We've had our first snow of the season. It was coming down wet and heavy Friday evening. I set out midmorning on Saturday to run an errand in hopes of enjoying it, but at that point it had changed to rain (although not out in the burbs, where they got up to a foot or more). By afternoon, it was back to snow again, so poor [ profile] monshu had to navigate a morass of ice on top of everything else. Sunday he discovered that we'd run out of salt and made a salt run to the hardware store.

He has another one planned for tonight or tomorrow, but that's strictly prophylactic since everything's turning to slush and it's predicted to be positively balmy on Thanksgiving, if still quite damp. We're doing Thanksgiving at a friend's, so naturally the GWO is planning a Second Thanksgiving for Saturday. We used to joke about him being an ogre, but on balance I think I've married a hobbit.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
The meteorologists really whiffed it yesterday. They predicted "snow showers"; when I checked back around eleven, they were still talking about "accumulations of up to an inch" when we already had twice that. Today we're getting "lake effect snow" which in my mind is synonymous with "flurries" but really shouldn't be. It wasn't quite white-out conditions an hour ago, but it was impressive nonetheless.

This week has been odd because, being back at work, I naturally slide back into my old routines. Then I get home and find a rude awakening. [ profile] monshu used to have dinner ready for me; Mom only begins thinking about it when she hears the door slam. I'm not bagging on her--it can't be easy sleeping on the couch as she does in order to be ready to help the Old Man if he gets up in the night. But I'll admit to being very put out the first couple evenings.

Yesterday, however, we both got a break when [ profile] zompist and his wife showed up bearing dinner. Actually, at my urging, they'd arrived mid-afternoon in order to catch the GWO at his best. Good thing, too, because no sooner had he eaten than he began feeling unwell and slunk back to his bedroom. The conversation naturally went on without him, but it was only after nearly two hours talking about myself that I remembered one of the ostensible aims of the visit was to talk about China for the new book [ profile] zompist is writing.

He wanted to see our vacation snaps so I had to break the news to him about the theft of [ profile] monshu's camera. I did see that he left with a bag full of books. We got lucky, actually; most all of my non-linguistic materials were buried on the lowest tier of the book stacks in the office. I gamely offered to have quick look, not expecting to turn up much, and found a box containing not only Retreat of the elephants but Sources of Chinese tradition and a complete translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. That oughta fix him for a month or so.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Wasn't sure the game was going to come off today. Not due to weather (please, we're Chicagoans!) but because the GM's new roomies were moving in. I was prepared to host if need be--I was really counting on the diversion in advance of Tuesday's operation--but fortunately for [ profile] monshu it didn't come to that because one of the other players made the offer first. And not only that, I realise now that I think about it that it was the player most convenient to me. But although he's the same distance as [ profile] vianegativa, he lives closer to the Lake. Snow had been falling softly since the night before, but it wasn't until after noon that the winds began picking up force. Still, it was an easy walk over up until the last block. The winds through the alley paralleling the viaduct were nasty and had covered the path in about a foot of drifts.

For reasons never fully explained but apparently involving a shopping trip, the GM arrived late, which allowed us about 45 minutes of slightly awkward chat. His soon-to-be roomie (not one of the movers-in) had found a cellphone in the snow which he placed on the table. About ten minutes into the game, it rang and what should've been a terse exchange--"Here's the address, come pick it up" became ridiculously protracted. They were close enough it actually took less time for them to actually come and fetch the phone than for us to explain to them where the hell it was.

It was another satisfying session (although I do hope we have one soon which doesn't revolve almost entirely around a single combat) and we went an extra hour to compensate for the delayed start. We'd already agreed to have dinner together anyway, so no spousal negotiations were need. When bopNgrill didn't answer their phone, I volunteered to go out around the corner and check it out. The benjamin of the group volunteered to come with, and took the precaution of soliciting a Chipotle order as well.

Good thing, too; the burger place was closed and had been since 4 p.m. Next door--whether on account of the snow, the sportsball, or both--there were more employees than customers and the manager was out front finishing up a six-foot snowman. In what resembled a reality-show challenge, my companion dashed back and forth in the food line reading off orders for the group. Since he was worried about stumbling on the way home, I took both bags.

We came back to find the game on but no one paying it much mind. Until the halftime show, that is. ("I'll take 'Ways To Tell Everyone In the Room Is Gay' for $100, Alex".) There was so much to love, from the trippy H.R. Puffinstuff-inspired "California Girls" (does it count as jumping the shark if your backup dancers are but you don't actually leap over one?) to a totally respectable performance from Missy Elliott. Not long after, we girded ourselves against the elements and headed out.

The drifts were deeper and more frequent walking home, but at least the wind was at my back. It was eerie to see the streets so empty so early. Two or three times, I thought I might have to stop and help someone unstick their car, but they managed to rock themselves into forward motion. Our street was so changed, I was halfway across it before I recognised it. I knew I was back when I saw how clear the sidewalks were; Scooter's out there right now, in fact, giving them another pass.

But no snow day for me tomorrow. Can't really complain about that although the commute in is going to be no damn fun at all. But how disappointed would we be if we'd gone the whole winter without one really solid snowstorm?
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Although he was busy, Scruffy contracted for brunch with us at Pauline's. He likes a good value, and we both remembered the portions there as being on the large size, so it seemed a good choice. A chunk of the conversation centred around his need to learn to let go. I did my best to counsel him on my techniques while noting that [ profile] monshu, who was mostly content to let me bang on, was the real expert. He opened up more to us about his family than he ever has before. Does everyone who isn't an only child have a ne'er-do-well sibling whose freeloading off the family teat is a source of tension and whose post-parental well being is a cause for concern?

Afterwards, I had some time to devote to the reading I'd meant to spend the day before on. It was easier to make the push to finish Wolf Hall once I realised what it didn't cover; neither the downfall of Anne nor Cromwell himself is covered in this volume, which makes me more eager to read the sequel (though at the same time I wonder if it might not be worth waiting for the third volume, out soon). I do wish I'd had the sense to finish it before watching a movie adaptation, since I did have some trouble with Anderson's characterisations encroaching on Mantel's. As her focus character, Cromwell is more sympathetic overall and Anne Boleyn less.

I also recently finished off that Japanese novel I'd started more than two months ago, figuring it for a quick read, and given up on for several weeks. It finally got good in the last third, but I don't know that I can recommend even a short novel on that basis. The volume contains a whole apparatus that I'm reading to see what it is I failed to see about the work's appeal. Right now, I'm just puzzled at the description "hard-boiled" which seems to apply less to the science fiction (which ultimately takes a turn for the metaphysical) than to the use of noir clichés involving detectives.

Something which genuinely should prove to be an easy read is Ann Patchett's Run. It started snowing yesterday afternoon, so we finally had the weather for it, and despite the distractions of doing laundry and moderating a debate on Charlie Hebdo (for my sins), I quickly read the first quarter of it. I'm a little put off by the somewhat cheesy tale of Auld Irelaund it opens with and the credulity-straining coincidence of the complicating incident, but her invocation of tragedy squeezes me where it counts and her characters seem well-rounded enough. There's still a lot that could go wrong with a White woman from Tennessee trying to write about racial issues in Boston, but for now she's got the benefit of my doubts.
Jan. 8th, 2015 09:41 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Seems late in the year for our first rush-hour snowstorm. Or perhaps not--with all this time off and the absence of Hogmanay, I've lost my bearings somewhat. Not so bad overall: the shuttle was twenty minutes late but I'd planned to catch the one after it anyway, so I was only fifteen minutes or so out in the snow. It was blowy, but not really that cold, and the hour-long trip home gave me plenty of time of catch up on Wolf Hall. Dinner was maybe a smidge worse for wear after being held in the oven so long, but warm and tasty.

And the Old Man has a good day. He got the plumber in, and it turns out fixing the garbage disposal was as simple as hitting the reset button. D'OH! But it was worth it since he FINALLY fixed the drain in the other sink which was stopped up with god-only-knows-what. Seriously, he didn't know what it was, [ profile] monshu and I didn't know what it was, we only knew that it kind of had the consistency of poorly-set plaster and smell super bad. Whatever, it's out and the sink drains properly for the first time since we bought this place.
Nov. 17th, 2014 12:48 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It's flurrying again, but I doubt it'll amount to much. We had our first real accumulation of the year on Saturday evening while I was at the opera. It ignored downtown completely. I didn't start seeing signs of accumulation until I was on the North Side (I lucked into catching a 147). Up in our part of Rogers Park, we seem to have gotten about an inch. I was in a contemplative mood, so I got out at Loyola and walked the street down to the Lake and back. Footing was treacherous: it was still warm enough when the snow began falling ([ profile] monshu told me it started around seven) that it had partially melted and was refreezing. Plus I was wearing my dress shoes, which have some tread, but not much. A shame: there was no wind to speak of and I was warm enough in my cashmere and topcoat to have stayed out much longer.

Perhaps I would've, too, if I'd known how quickly the landscape would change back. The snow lingered on most of the morning and we even though we might see more come as we went to meet Diego and Uncle Betty for lunch. But the early flurries petered out and it warmed up just enough for the dead leaves and dying grass to emerge again. Later, it got nasty. The humidity rose and the wind picked up, so our stroll around the South Loop before the piano recital ended up being something of a bust.

It was late last week that the weather turned, the freezing lows becoming the daytime highs. We actually had a little snow in the night before Friday, but it only collected on areas of bare earth. Coming in this morning, the only remnants I saw of Saturday's fall were on the baseball diamonds in the park at Touhy and the Lake and the rocks between the water and road. Surprisingly, the Bradford pears at the development just before Calvary were just starting to turn, but a hard freeze shrivels even leaves which haven't fallen yet, so they won't be much to look at. Pretty much everything else is stripped to bare branches now. It may get a bit milder later in the week, but winter has arrived and it's not leaving.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Sorry to post so much about the weather, but it's been the most interesting thing going on around here. When they predicted snow for Monday night, I didn't think it would stick. When I saw it sticking (mainly to leaf litter and other natural detritus), I didn't think it would stay. And when I saw it in the morning, I didn't think it would survive the day.

Wrong on all counts! This was the morning I thought we'd have yesterday: A few small patches in shady corners and plenty of green elsewhere. The flowers all seem to have made it through okay, though the daffodils were really displaying why the Irish name for them is "herb of the bent head". There were plenty of them about: I was waiting patiently all last week for them to finally bloom, and it finally happened over the weekend. The warm weather also set off many of the trees, leading to the jarring site of snow clinging to branches of blooms and fallen maple buds forming the nuclei of balls of ice on the sidewalk. (They looked like some sort of odd Japanese sweet.)

The squill has finally emerged as well, which is good since I've been wondering what became of it all. Tulips, though, haven't really started yet and I've yet to see a single flowering shrub in bud let alone in bloom. Our freezing nights, however, may at long last be coming to an end, though it's a while yet before I can think of sticking anything in the ground.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Officially, the high temperature today was 12°C. It's sunny, breezy, and feels so much like spring that the massive piles of snow-ice at every corner actually seem like the anomaly they are rather than the dully accepted fact of our existence they've been for the past couple months. People are out and about, coatless and sometimes jacketless (although not yet shirtless). Miniature hydroscapes are everywhere you look. In the west-facing slope of campus, snow came to form an icy sheet. Now meltwater is eroding it away like a science-fair model of karst topography. On the way back from lunch, I passed a perfect ponor sculpted from the ice by a trickle of runoff.

Just now I made a half-circuit around the lagoon. The ice sheet, which had been diminishing for a while, is gone entirely from its midsection and at the far end is becoming transparent. The mounds of ice dumped by Facilities are still impressively massive enough to last for some time yet, at least in part; on the northern edge, the snow must be fresher because it hasn't solidified as much. I tried to step on it to get a better look at the murky pool, possibly several feet deep, gathering alongside it and it swallowed my foot up to the ankle.

Among the many discarded items uncovered were a bottle of energy drink, a smashed orange, old pizza boxes, and a dead duck. (At least I think it was a duck; I was moving in for a better look and then realised the entire greensward around it was covered in defrosted goosecrap.) The puddles are bad in some spots, but elsewhere they've carved outlets through the snowbanks and drained away into the storm sewers. Still, glad I wore my boots today.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It's gonna be a slow ride home. I may end up thankful I packed three novels.

Coming in was smooth sailing, so I was caught off guard when I stepped outside to head to a meeting at another building and was hit with a stinging blast of tiny ice pellets. Within minutes it was snowing so heavily I could no longer see the far side of the lagoon. Reportedly it slackened during the noon hour, but by the time [ profile] niemandsrose and I headed out together for Indian food, it was falling steadily again. On the way back, she was intrigued by the soft little pellets on the ground. "Is this graupel?" I confirmed that it was. "Can you say 'Es graupelt'?" Of course you can!

Back at the office, a colleague attested that she had actually heard "graupelt" from native speakers. Another colleague speculated that perhaps the proper form should be "gräupelt" by analogy with Schwabe - schwäbelt, but I ridiculed this, pointing out that in the latter case the -el- represents a verbal suffix with diminutive force whereas the -el- of graupeln clearly belongs to the nominal stem and, thus, no umlaut takes place. He slunk away suitably chastened.

Whatever you call it, right now there's about six-and-a-half centimetres on the ground with another two-and-a-half predicted before bedtime. I wonder if it's even worth my while to wait for the shuttle or if I should preemptively head for the train.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
"Are you up for an adventure?" asked the Old Man today. And, truth to be told, I wasn't. Last night, under the spell of camaraderie and bourbon, I'd let [ profile] clintswan talk me into doing a shot with him. Knowing if I didn't come up with something better, I'd be partaking of his Goldschläger, I scanned the rack and asked for Patrón. The consequences of that choice were still with me when I woke up the next morning, expecting to share an "austerity breakfast" of Irish oats with my spouse. But despite going to bed four hours before me, he still got up two-and-a-half hours after me, right when I was thinking there was nothing in world more tempting in a nap.

Unfortunately, that was also the time Scooter decided was optimal for hacking the back porch free of ice. After a half hour in bed cursing his name, I got up and told [ profile] monshu, "Okay, let's go." Snow was falling in large fluffy flakes when we set out and, at first, the streets seemed as choked as usual. When we reached Lincoln Square, he urged me to look into Pannenkoeken even though I didn't hold out much hope of a free table in a reasonable spell of time. To my amazement, there was no wait at all. "I think everyone just looked out the window, went *uhhh*, and decided to stay in," I told him after we'd ordered.

And at this point, it was really coming down. We both ordered the joint's namesake, his sweet (ginger and apple), mine savoury (bacon, havarti, mushroom, and a fried egg), and it was everything I'd always hoped. He vouched for its authenticity (I'd only had Pfannkuchen, which are a bit different--at least in the South) and I relished one of those rare meals which is perfectly matched to your mood and situation. Afterwards, we hit Merz Apotheke (soap and zinc) and The Chopping Block (wooden spoon and instant read thermometre) after which came the cornerstone of the expedition: Gene's Sausage Shop.

In the evening over a meal of bison and bacon brats, red cabbage, and rapini with sour rye, he said, "I just wish Gene's was a little closer. Of course, if it were, we'd go there too often." Perhaps; perhaps we'd just eat a little less meat but of better quality. On the other hand, Lincoln Square would lose a bit of it exoticness and we'd miss out on the expeditionary experience that comes from going someplace off our well-beaten ruts (even on days when we're not braving a snowstorm).
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It was snowing earlier, but it seems to have stopped, so it looks like we might not get the 1"-3" predicted. Apparently we've gotten something like ten times the amount of snowfall this winter as compared with last. I can well believe it; until this time last year, we'd gotten nothing more than a dusting. But even with the recent thaw, the snow is still piled a couple feet deep in places.

But what's really striking about this winter is the amount of sunshine. This is the first day of February so far without it. Two years ago, we went for an entire month without a break in the clouds. Of course, the same high-pressure systems which bring clear skies are also responsible for the extreme cold that's got everyone chattering. Still, it's a deal I'm happy to make--not least of all because low barometre days like today are hell on my sinuses.

More importantly, though, it keeps the precip locked up outside and away from the walls. Even temps in the negative single digits celsius can be enough to melt water on the roof. Yesterday, [ profile] monshu scattered some salt on the ground outside the back door, but when I left this morning it was encased in ice. There's going to be a terrible reckoning when it warms up for real, but I'm happy to put that off for a while longer.
Feb. 1st, 2014 03:16 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
This whole day has been consumed by a fugue of snow and sleep. Absent a few pauses here and there, the former has been falling since late last night. There's about two additional inches on the ground, which is going to make my trip to the opera...interesting. As for sleep, I got in about nine hours or so, depending on how you count my nap. (I was drifting on the edge of sleep for at least the first half hour of it.) The Old Man is well beyond me with at least fourteen. Yes, you heard that correctly; he turned it about 9:30 or so last night and then I didn't see him again until 11:30 this morning. He was up for a couple hours, then he went back to bed.

So anything what's going to get done this weekend (with the exception of washing up from the feast) is going to get done tomorrow when the streets will be an icy morass of the first order.
Jan. 26th, 2014 10:18 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
There have been a couple of memes circulating around Facebook lately reminding us of the anniversaries of great January snowstorms of the past such as the Midwest Blizzard of '78, the Chicago Blizzard of 1979 (infamous for its effect on local politics), or the Blizzard of '82 (responsible for one of the highest snowfall totals ever seen in St Louis). This prompted an interesting comment from my older brother, who said that storms created expectations in him of Missouri as a snowy wonderland (we moved there from Maryland in '76) which went increasingly unfulfilled in later years. I keep telling people who complain about what an extraordinarily severe winter this is that they simply have short memories. It's a sign of just how blasé this exceptional return to past form has made me that I hardly consider snowstorms worth mentioning in this space any more unless they actually result in work closures. [ profile] monshu tells me that a couple hours ago it was really coming down, but I shrugged and went back to watching my movie. There was some yesterday as well, plus a couple inches overnight that didn't start until I was safely back home.

When I blew off the after-work event on Friday, I promised myself I would go out Saturday night despite my reservations. It was a party for someone I don't know well, and I'm just so used to everyone spamming their entire flist that I was taken aback to see that I was one of only about two dozen invitees. To dispel fears of there being no one there I knew well (compounded by the youth of the birthday boy--this was, in fact, in his big 21), I reached out to a couple of guys. It was very reassuring to discover that one of them was the host; I would've gone just for the pleasure of finally being inside his place. For good measure, however, I had old bud BDA ring up some others, none of whom attended in the end.

The apartment was in a corner of northeast Rogers Park I hardly knew existed and so exceeded my expectations that I would've passed it up had BDA not been at the door fighting the same misgivings. The first thing which caught my eye at the top of the stairs were the built-ins followed by the card catalogs. (Cupcake Man's roommate uses them to organise her jewellery.) It was a very open plan with a huge bay window in front overlooking a lakeside parklet and a small but functional kitchen in the back where I set up the bottles I'd brought. The Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout I'd brought along on a whim turned out to be a hit. So did the Redemption "High Rye"--though how much of that was due to its inherent quality and how much to the fact that it was the only hard liquor there is hard to say. (BDA told me he was dreaming of manhattans, so I brought along a small bottle of sweet vermouth I had stowed away for just such and exigence.)

As for the party, well, I feel for the guest of honour. Sure it was a shitty night to be out, but your 21st is a big deal and it was super lame of his other friends not to show. What saved the evening was that he was sharing the party with Cupcake Man's roommate, and she had a good half dozen there. After two drinks I was willing to chat up anybody and everybody and they were on the whole very receptive. Malört shots were downed, a fire was built in the fireplace, and eventually the guitars came out for a sing-along, finally putting and end to the dueling of Matisyahu on the stereo system in the front room and old school house/shoegaze coming out of the tinny speakers of an iPod in the dining area.

As nice as it was, I was very conscious of needing to be functional today, so I left right after midnight as the newly-legal young sprout was preparing to hit Big Chicks with his best gal pal. BDA walked me to the el and hugged me goodbye at Loyola. I stumbledashed home against the cold wind (which may be why my leg is giving me trouble today) and gabbled to the Old Man when I came in. So, selfishly, I can say it was a great night out even if by your man's lights it was probably a huge letdown. Ah, youth! If you only knew what kind of disappointment and betrayal was in store for you!
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Something about this weather--or just the emotional state it leaves me in--is making me want to eat and eat. It would be a problem even if the house weren't full of food and I didn't have enabling colleagues leaving food in the middle of the department every other day. I don't even want to think about what's happened to my triglycerides lately.

Now that much of the hidden ice has melted and the sidewalks are no longer a hellish obstacle course, I forced myself to take a walk at lunchtime. Almost immediately, I ran into a colleague who had chosen to circle the lagoon counterclockwise like some sort of pagan. She encouraged me by taking and posting a joint selfie. Just beyond that, I came across piles of snow higher than my head. As always, I had a pang of nostalgia for the overdelighted reaction of my 10-year old self.

But I didn't stop there. It occurred to the staid old man that I've become that the view from the top would be unlike anything I would find in any other season. So, conscious of wearing one of my nicer pairs of slacks on account of a morning meeting, I carefully made my way up the slope. The view southward across the lagoon and beyond was interesting. But it was the view to the north that really made the ascent worthwhile.

There's a parking lot directly adjacent, so I'd naturally assumed this was the normal wall of snow that comes from clearing it with big shovels. But it was much much more extensive than that. Snow peaks continued for at least twenty metres beyond where I was standing; it was harder to see much further than that, because I wasn't standing on the tallest of them.

Evidently, this was a dumping ground for snow from last week's blizzard. Simply scraping it to the side would've left inconvenient heaps dotted around campus, so they must've hired a steam shovel to cart it all over to an empty corner. It's at least three or four metres deep--and that's after the recent warm-up. So I imagine there'll still be névé there at least into March, whether or not we see another snowflake between now and then. (We had a flurry this morning that was gorgeous for a bit but amounted to nothing.)

After that, it became somewhat less charming. Wind was whipping from the west and within moments I had a splitting earache in my troublesome left ear. All I wanted at that point was to get back to my desk without slipping in the muck, which I succeeded in doing. Then I ate an apple. Jim Fixx ain't got nothin' on me!
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I've long felt that, as Chicagoans, we should have far more terms for different kinds of frozen precipitation than we do. Naturally I have some suggestions. I've been using these informally and would love to see them in wider use:
  1. Champ--Compacted snow, particularly on a paved surface. It typically results when a light snowfall (2" or less) is subjected to heavy foot traffic before it can be cleared. Champ can't be shoveled or blown, it must be scraped. Fortunately it is generally quite easy to walk on unless it melts and refreezes as ice.
  2. Churn--Dirty snow with consistency of sand. It is typically the result of heavy foot traffic through a heavier snowfall than that which produces champ. It is intermediate in colour and consistency between loose snow and slush, being off-white to light grey and not as wet and clingy as slush. Its sandlike consistency makes it difficult to walk through.
  3. Névé--A term borrowed from glaciology for snow which has been compacted due to partial melting, compaction, and refreezing.
  4. Snirt--A mix of ice, soot, and other forms of road filth that develops from roadside névé. In colour it can range from dark grey to black, is sometimes hard to recognise due to an accumulation of trash and duff on its surface, and can persist into the first few days of spring.
Right now the temperature has climbed above the freezing point for the first day in weeks and, as a result, we have a lot of churn that's converting to slush. Then, when it drops below freezing tonight, the slush and champ will become ice. I really wish I didn't have to leave the house tomorrow, but Madame Butterfly is tomorrow and no one has stepped forward to take my place. However bad our neighbourhood is in terms of huge puddles of dirty meltwater at every streetcorner, downtown will be worse.
Jan. 4th, 2014 08:02 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I thought I would get the last seasonal gift in with the cardigan for [ profile] monshu that finally arrived in the mail yesterday, but the privilege was his due to a downtown shopping expedition today. Someday, when I finally stop begrudging myself the money to pay a shrink, I will find out why exactly I have such a goddamn hard time buying myself anything which costs more than about $25. On the ride back I blamed my mother, but that can't be the whole story since my siblings don't seem to be similarly afflicted. In any case, thanks to the Old Man's patience and generosity, I know have five new shirts in a reasonable array of styles. I promised to let this spur me to weed the closet, but the moment I set foot in it I weakened. Maybe I'll feel differently tomorrow.

Speaking of the ride, we had such unbelievable CTA karma that I worry we've blown our allotment for the month if not the year: very nearly perfect connexions there and back again. We didn't exactly sail in either direction; one driver was dawdling in order not to get ahead of schedule and the next was contending with slippery fresh snow. But sitting in your choice of seat wondering why the bus isn't going faster is worlds away from standing in the snow asking when the frigging thing is going to get there, so no complaints. Okay, one complaint: The windows were so coated in salt it was almost impossible to catch a glimpse of the striking snow scenery crawling past. But again, if that's what's most important to me, I could get out and walk.

And the snow is pretty, but it could well be the death knell of tonight's cocktails. Already I've had a half-dozen cancellations--mostly claiming illness, but the prospect of an hour or more in the car trying not to fishtail is apt to change your view of a little sniffle. I'm almost hoping that no one comes and I can curl up with a book. But there should be plenty of opportunity for that tomorrow. We have no reason to leave the house--there's food for days upon days--and all that's expected of me is a little laundry.
Jan. 2nd, 2014 09:06 pm

A day away

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
There was a chance I'd go into the office today. Not a good chance, mind you, but enough of one that I didn't automatically take the day off. If I didn't drink too much or stay up too late cleaning up, I might've gotten a decent night's sleep. The latter condition was met, but not the former: I accepted two cocktail challenges, which was at least one more than I needed in order to keep a clear heard. Both qualified as successes.

First Scruffy challenged me to make the blueberry liquor he'd brought before drinkable. I knew I'd need to cut the sweetness and settled on lemon juice since lemon is a natural pairing for blueberry. But I was stumped on the strong until I happened to think of sloe gin. Three parts gin to one blueberry plus a squeeze (about half a tablespoon) of lemon juice ended up being about right, at least according to two other tasters.

The Douglas fir eau de vie brought by [ profile] lhn and [ profile] prilicla also suggested a gin-based solution: a three-to-one "fir-tini". I momentarily considered using the Letherbee's until I recognised this for the insanity it was and went with Bombay instead. This eau de vie is considerably more mild than the infamous "Pine-sol liqueur" and I think more could be done with it. Having had a particularly successful fir-flavoured chocolate in Toronto, I'm particularly interested in trying it in a sweeter preparation. (The fir-tini is, as you might suspect, rather dry to say the least.)

Afterwards I found a nearly-empty bottle of cognac (as well as a bottle of vin santo the Old Man had completely forgotten about) and decided to usher it gently into that good night. The party was down to a pleasant core of a half-dozen and I was no longer having to hop up to open doors or mix drinks, so I could sit back and enjoy my guests. They never got to be too many; the one advantage to the terrible travel conditions is that it allowed us to spend a generous amount of time with everyone. Not as much as we might've liked (with the exception of Coleman, who wasn't even on the guest list but got wind of the gathering and crashed), but then it never is.

Luckily for us we'd bought supplies close to the date so we'd held back and, as a result, don't have more leftovers than we can handle: just one turkey breast, most of a smallish ham, a pound or so of gingerbread, and some bits of salad. Oh, and a shitload of chocolates and fudge, but that stuff keeps. The black cake was an even bigger hit than last year; hardly any survived the day. And hoppin' john (both veg and non-veg), beet salad, and Snore King's sugar cookies were all big hits.

If my hangover wasn't excuse enough, I had two other solid reasons: the snow, which was over nine inches by morning with wildly varying amounts predicted for the rest of the day (that's Lake effect for you); and a summons from an old friend. A college buddy--president of the queer student group when I was secretary and leader of the coming-out group before me--who'd I'd gotten in touch with as a result of the oral history project was in town for a conference and wanted to meet up.

As [ profile] monshu can attest, I had cause to regret my promise to meet him. But my mid-morning the snow was tapering off and I was beginning to feel more human. I dozed on the train, but the bracing air made me a bit giddy. From the first moment, he was exceedingly warm and we spent a good two hours at the Purple Pig catching up and rehashing old times. He was dubious about the pig's ear, but I sold him, and in return I let him order the caponata, which I ate most of along with the charred cauliflower. Never before have I eaten so much in the way of vegetables and so little in the way of pork there.

Afterwards I swept into Eataly on an errand from the Old Man and left with my arms full. I really would like to be able to leave that place sometime without dropping $30+. But now I know that they do a fine cup of molten chocolate and porchetta that isn't a patch on what I had at Porchetta & Co. in Toronto. Tomorrow I'll be able to tell you if their fresh squid ink pasta is really worth the top dollar it commands.

Had I been thinking more clearly when I was trying to get myself out the door, I might've been able to make plans with [ profile] bunj as well and complete my last gift exchange of the season. But as it was, I escaped downtown just as another "snow squall" was beginning to complicate the commute. When I reached the hood, visibility was down to a block or so and diminishing rapidly. Then, after an hour of getting cozy, the snow abruptly halted, the sky cleared, and for one thrilling moment everything was suffused with a rosy light.

Needless to say, there won't be any of that when I rise tomorrow to face my first day of work in nearly two weeks. Clearly I've got as much of a knack for retirement as the GWO. Shame I haven't earned the right to exercise it.


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