Winter Solstice is Officially Here

It seems that I have to kick off more and more blog entries by apologizing for not posting more frequently.  I plead the usual–work overload and utter exhaustion once the work day finally ends.  I’m logging the usual 40 hours per week in service to the State of Ohio, and two or three nights per week at the Discovery Exchange.  (The winter quarter is in full swing at Columbus State, but my supervisor asked me if I would stay on until the end of next week.  I need the extra cash too much to decline such an offer.)

As I left the DX (as Columbus State people call it) last night, the snow began to fall.  I was under-dressed for this, since the temperature was in the mid-40s when I left my house around 7:30 a.m.  It was cloudy and gray, but I didn’t give that any special consideration.  From mid-November to about March, Columbus residents speak of seeing the sun the same way other people talk about UFO or Loch Ness Monster sightings–and usually receive the same skeptical responses.

When I left the Industrial Commission at 5 and started to make the 0.8-mile walk east on Spring Street, a cold rain was falling, and I was, as usual, hatless.  I managed to keep busy by re-shelving buybacks and customer assistance, so I was astonished when the work day was winding down and I saw that wet snow was starting to fall.  Snow had covered most of the ground, including the sidewalk and streets, much thicker than the very light dusting that covered the grass just before Christmas.

Susie came home about 30 minutes after I did, not happy about having to walk from High St. to our house in the snow.  Now that she is older, snow is definitely losing its allure.  The Susie and snow memory that I will retain until the day I die was the sudden dumping of snow in February of 2010.  I was lying abed, recovering from my gallbladder surgery, and Susie and one of her friends shouldered snow shovels and went all over Baja Clintonville, coming back $40 richer.  They were out earning money, and getting some major exercise, while my major accomplishment that day was that I managed to get from my bedroom to the bathroom and back without having to hang onto the wall the whole way.

One of the books I got for Christmas when I was about three or four.

I still enjoy snow, although, as I get older, I like it more while I’m watching it from inside.  I never willingly participated in a snowball fight (I knew kids in Marietta who were not above putting M-80s and rocks in their snowballs), although I enjoyed sled-riding.  I was a bit of a chicken when it came to sled-riding–I stuck to my easy-to-manage flexible flyer, inviting ridicule from kids who used saucers, car hoods, flattened cardboard boxes, etc.  (I have never ridden on a metal saucer.  Once they started going downhill, you were a projectile, with absolutely no way of stopping until the hill bottomed out or until you hit something.)

The hill next to Mills Hall on the Marietta College campus was the one we used most often.  The campus was private property, and security officers had repeatedly run us off, but we had the rules-are-for-canasta attitude that I still retain to a lesser degree, even now, and security finally gave up.  It was steep enough to get up a good head of steam while you were headed downward, but not so fast as to instill terror.  Usually, your ride would stop when you hit the chain-link fence that enclosed a small basketball court at the foot of the hill.  It would smart a little, but usually the kids wore enough heavy clothes that it wasn’t more than a bump.

Susie had school today, and I went to work.  I took for granted I’d be working, since the State barely agreed to close all offices during the 1978 blizzard.  I made the lunchtime walk to the Payroll office at Columbus State, but moved a little more slowly than usual, since I was afraid of slipping and falling.

The snow hasn’t kept Susie and me confined to quarters.  We’re both at Kafé Kerouac right now, and I’m typing away while two aspiring guitarists play on the stage.  (Listening to these guys, I think they will be aspiring for a long, long time!  Susie reviewed them in her blog and her critique is quite accurate.)  High St. looks pretty clear, and there’s plenty of condensation on the windows, which makes the streetlights and car headlights look a little ghostly.

While we were walking here tonight, the neighborhood seemed to be pretty quiet, other than some music from some of the houses we passed.  This is quite a contrast from last night, when the sound of the wind howling up and down Maynard Ave. awoke me several times.

Marietta did not get the full force of the 1978 blizzard, although we missed a lot of school because of the snow, and because the Bituminous Coal Strike drove up the price of heating.  When snow came, it was quite subtle.  I remember one Sunday night calling a friend of mine and saying, “Hey, it’s snowing.”

“It is?” he said, quite skeptically.  There was silence on the line for five or 10 seconds, and then he gasped, “My God, it is!”  He and his older brother made the 15-minute walk over to my house, and the three of us left together about 15 minutes later.  His brother was disappointed, as we retraced their path, to see that their footprints hadn’t been covered up.  A day or two later, snow was falling fast enough and heavily enough that footprints disappeared almost as you made them.

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My "Cut for the Stone" Anniversary

Last year, I got many people’s hopes up when I said “They’re going to remove my gall–” and I see the disappointment when I finished the word “–bladder.”  I have enough gall for 10 people, so the news that I was going to have a cholecystectomy was anticlimactic.  Exactly a year ago, at this time, I was back home from Grant Hospital, watching Criminal Minds and taking oxycodone.  I awoke in my own bed that morning with a gallbladder–complete with stone.  Twelve hours later, I was home, and the stone was in a small, orange-lidded plastic jar (where it sits right now, right in front of me).  I slept in my own bed that night.

Here is the account of the actual experience, written two days later on my old LiveJournal account.  I’m not celebrating the event with the same intensity as when Samuel Pepys (a hero to all diarists) celebrated being “cut for the stone”.  His procedure, removing stones from his urinary bladder, was in 1657 with no anesthesia and no sterile equipment.  (Pepys ended up sterile because of the operation, but the instruments most definitely were not.)

A year later, I have to look to find the scars.  Had I undergone the procedure about 40 years ago, I would have recovered in the hospital for about a week afterwards, and I would have borne a very visible scar for the rest of my life.

President Lyndon Johnson shows off his gallbladder surgery scar.  One journalist said, “Thank God he didn’t have a hemorrhoidectomy!”  LBJ opened the door for Dan Rather to show cross sections of Reagan’s colon and prostate on the CBS Evening News during the 1980s.

About all I did to celebrate was take off from work 2½ hours early.  It wasn’t to mark the event, but because there was so little to do.  I’ve begun the Books on Tape recording of William Landay’s The Strangler, and I’m on the third disk (of 11), but I couldn’t listen to it while I re-indexed scanned documents (a very hazardous task–the death rate from boredom rivals fatalities in coal mines) because my headphones disappeared sometime during the evening yesterday.  Luckily, no doctors’ reports were in the on-deck circle for me to transcribe.  I took some mini-walks.  The ice storm seems to be behind us (this one, anyway), but there are still many sidewalks that are rough and slippery.  I’m still fall-free so far, but each time I lose my balance, even for a microsecond, I’m less sure I’ll be able to right myself before going down.  Clintonville’s electricity only returned this evening, which means Susie will be back in school for the first time since Monday.