Friday, January 24, 2014

Deep Freeze, Cherry Pie, and Privacy

We're in the middle of the craziest deep freeze.  How is it possible that when the temperature reaches 3 degrees, it feels balmy.  I'm loving it. 

If I'm locked in my house, and I'm really not able to leave because of the intense cold, why is it different from prison?  Privacy.  Love being alone for most of the day.  Even if I'm working from home, there's no one here.  I have an excuse for not leaving.  Too cold. 

I'm so grateful for being in isolation.  They're calling for record lows, so I stocked the fridge with Cherry Pie.  Free!!!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Packing Up Christmas; Presents or GIfts

This was a tough holiday season.  It was hard for my family to enjoy the usual traditions because of the intense cold weather and unusually long work hours.  As I pack up the ornaments and put away the decorations, it seems like the holiday has gone on forever.

Our pastor hit on a topic at Christmas Mass.  "Maybe at Christmas we can remember the difference between a gift and a present.  Presents are things on lists with sizes.  Gifts are things that we don't think to ask for but come anyway.  Gifts differ from presents because no matter what form they take, they always represent something greater, more enduring.  May we find time to be grateful for all the gifts that surround us, each day of our lives." 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Lovin' McDonalds New Dollar Menu

It's so cold out there.  I drove my son to baseball practice at the "dome" which is one hour away from my house.  When he woke me this morning, all I could say was, "Mother of god.  Tell me this isn't happening."  But he's safe. 

I drove to McDonald's.  What a fun atmosphere.  Great coffee.  Free Wi-Fi, and a new dollar menu that's terrific.  If you're going to kill a few hours, this is the place.  Bring your paper.  Enjoy a cup of coffee.  Try the Bacon Cheddar McChicken.  So grateful that I can find joy in this situation.

Patti, We ALL Miss Blagojevich.

A few weeks ago, after attending a court hearing on whether or not Blago's case can be appealed, his wife, Patti, lamented his absence during the upcoming holidays.  "He will be missed. We're going into our second Christmas without him."

I get it.  My father-in-law was missed during our Christmas dinner.  It will never be the same again.  My brother didn't come in for Christmas.  He decided to stay in California.  I missed him very much.  We always made time for a movie marathon.  Just not the same. 

When I heard Patti's comment, I laughed.  My dear, we ALL miss Blago.  No laughable quotes.  No vision of him jogging along.  Nothing.  Governor Quinn is a bore.  Sort of like Queen Elizabeth.  He shows up at every opening where a camera is present and he waves.  Oh, Patti.  It's just not the same. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Snowed In

My brother lives in California.  He was thrilled one day when it started to rain.  "I can't tell you how depressing it gets around here.  Sunshine, day after day."  I'm really sad for him.  I've been living in an igloo yesterday, today, and probably for the next few days.  -14 is the projected temperature.  We're being warned that if we don't finish shoveling, we'll be facing sheets of ice on the driveway.  Chicago never fails to impress.

It's beautiful here.  The trees are covered with snow.  But, "the weather outside is frightful..inside it's delightful."  I stayed in my jammies all New Year's Day.  No one to tell me that I need to put on my orange jumpsuit and go to the bathroom.  No excuse.  No guilt.  A son to shovel to driveway. Enjoying my freedom. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Where There Is Darkness...."

Happy NEW Year.  So glad I didn't stay home last night.  Our trip to the casino proved to be more fun than I imagined.  I came home with more money than I left with and the live band forced me to remember how to dance the hustle. 

As I met friends and family over Christmas, the same theme ran through the conversations.  "Wow.  It's already been a year.  Time goes by so fast.  I might as well keep the lights up all year."  The only family that loves this conversation is Blago's family.  Time really is just flying by.  If I don't make plans, if I don't commit to do something, I'll be greeting my cousin same time, same place with the same old retort;  "I'm fine.  Nothing new." 

This past year I actually pursued getting an advanced degree in my field.  I'm certified in an area of study and I would not have done this had I not had the overwhelming feeling that I must "accomplish" things by the time Blago gets out of prison.  Crazy, but this is working for me.  Tribune columnist, Mary Schmich, was moved by something her mother said as she was dying.  "Even the terrible things seem beautiful to me now."  No disrespect, but I felt the same way when I watched Blago go through those prison doors.  He probably felt the same way as he looked over his shoulder. 

I was catching up on Blago's legal woes.  In December a panel of three judges agreed to decide on Blagojevich's appeal.  Judge Ilana Rovner is on that panel.  Hold on. This is a rough transition.  St. Francis of Assisi is a great source of inspiration to me.  He wrote, "A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows."  Rovner could be Blago's sunbeam.  His ray of hope. 

Years and years ago, in my past life, I had the pleasure of meeting Judge Rovner.  I complimented her on her great looking legs.  I really did.  She smiled, thanked me, and said, "I'm just grateful to have legs."  That thought turned out to be my own sunbeam.  Shortly after that meeting, I broke my knee in several places while skiing in Colorado.   I have a scar on my leg that is a constant reminder of that day, but I never felt sorry for myself.  "I'm just grateful to have my leg."

Rovner asked the prosecutors, "Where is the line that differentiates legal horse trading from a federal offense that puts you in prison?"  That's going to be a tough question to answer.  Blago feels the warmth from the sunbeam.

In the meantime, I have to figure out if I can afford to live in Cook County.  I love my house, but the taxes are crippling us.  The casino didn't pay off that much. If Blago had been paying attention to running Illinois instead of jerking off, our state would not be in the deep hole it's in.  That's what I have to plan this year.  My escape from Illinois tax. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I LOVE a Night at the Casino

Last year on New Year's Eve I discovered the secret to a perfect way to celebrate.  Go to a casino near you.  My husband and I dropped our son off at a party, and knowing we had to pick him up later, we decided to go out for dinner.  I turned to him and said, "Let's go to a casino and try to win our supper." 

Who knew.  We walked into the greatest party ever.  Folks were in their jammies wearing crowns on their heads.  Other were in their finest.  Live music was playing on three different stages.  The line to the buffet ran two lengths of the hallway.  Darn.  "All the crab legs you can eat."  I'm in. 

Free drinks were being passed along to those of us at the slot machines and gambling tables.  I was surrounded by happy people.  No whining allowed. My secret love is the slot machine.  Love the sounds, the colors, the whirl of the images, the anticipation.  I admit that I'm addicted, but I know my limit.  I have no choice.  I'm the one who brings in a certain amount and when it's gone, it's over.  The image of the poor schmuck at the ATM taking money out haunts me.  "Gee, this is the only time money spits out of a machine for me."

We won that night.  Enough to eat all the crab legs I could.  Too bad they ran out by the time I made it to the front of the line.  The hostess looked at my face, and felt so bad, she let us eat for free.  That meant we had more money to play with.  So we skipped dessert and went back.  Won again, and left before I left a loser. 

I'm looking forward to my new annual tradition of gambling in the New Year.  I'm actually giddy, which could be a bad thing.  Any Christmas money that came my way, went into my, "New Year's Eve," fund.  Trust me.  It's not enough to mourn the loss of my son's college fund.  Gas to drive him to college...maybe.

There's a lot to be grateful for this year.  Grateful to have been present for those special times.  Lot of times I wished I was behind bars, and not be around to witness the not so good times as well.  My oldest daughter moved into a new apartment yesterday afternoon.  My son and I spent a supremely cold day moving furniture.  She was living with my mom and keeping her company while mom recovered from bypass surgery.  Mom was happy to see my daughter leave, which really means she's going to be fine now.  She's strong again.  She's ready to start bowling.  Feeling lonely takes more strength to get over.  In time.  We skipped strapping the mattress to my truck.  I looked at my daughter, and told her to stop at the mattress shop.  My treat.  They deliver same day.  I'm grateful to help her move on.  I'm grateful to have been there. 

Yesterday, my husband handed in his resignation at work.  A new opportunity has come along, and he's taking it because, "This could be my last hurrah."  The new company gave him a generous allowance for a new car.  He doesn't have to drive his dad's old car anymore.  The one with a dent from last Thanksgiving when I was so excited to go shopping with my son late at night that I backed up right into the side door of his car.  AND my husband witnessed the whole thing.  Oye.  What a night.  To help him celebrate his new job, my son wants us to buy his dad a new leather briefcase.  Perfect gift for his birthday which is around the corner.

On the way home from moving his sister, my son announced that he needs a new prescription for contacts.  "I can't see s--- anymore."  Thank you. 

Just as I started to worry about all the money I was spending, I stopped to realize how lucky we are.  Grateful to spend money towards my daughter's new life.  Grateful to spend money towards my husband's new move.  Grateful that my son is growing.  And...don't think I'm crazy....but thanks to Blago, I'm grateful that this month I can say, "I'm debt free."  I was always determined to be in a better financial place by the time he's out of prison.  I didn't want to look back and think he saved more by cleaning toilets than I saved.  I met my primary goal this month.  No more credit bills or car payments.  Granted, the bathroom has to be repaired and the house needs repairs that I avoided in order to meet my goal, but I'm entering that phase next.  

Happy New Year.  And if you get depressed or feel alone tonight, imagine what it must feel like to be sitting in a cell looking at the pictures of your family on a wall.  That image HAS to motivate you to join me at the casino!!