January 8, 2014 by almostakiss
2014 came in like a polar bear bringing massive snowstorms and sub zero temperatures. I grew up in NW Wisconsin where weather like this was no big deal. It was expected and dealt with with a minimum of whining. Since moving to IL 18 yrs. ago, it’s been many years since we’ve had a severe winter. Some years we get next to no snow and we’ve grown accustomed to bellyaching when the temperature gets below 20 degrees. Sunday morning we woke up to a foot of snow. Later that night the temps dropped like a stone and we woke up Monday Jan. 6th to -17 degrees below zero. (If I knew how to make the degrees sign on here, I wouldn’t have to put the minus AND write below zero. Oh well.) Actually, we woke up at 8:15 am to the electricity going off. Most people would sleep right through a power outage but my husband sleeps with a bi-pap for sleep apnea and when the electricity goes out, it shuts off suddenly and leaves him gasping for breath. There is no way to ignore it. So we kind of panicked. Obviously, we don’t like being without electricity anytime but when it’s dangerously cold (the windchills were -45 degrees below zero), it’s a whole different ball game. The furnace stopped and almost immediately the house began getting cool. We hadn’t even turned the heat down the night before because we knew it would be too hard to get back up to a decent temp. Hubby reported the outage to ComEd and the recording said 2 hours to restore. After an hour, he called again and signed up for their text message updates. He also turned on the gas fireplace in the living room so we’d have some heat. The next update said it was a downed wire and it would be 2 pm. Luckily, it came back before then but we still put up with it for a few hours.
We’ve gotten so spoiled now that ever being uncomfortable is not acceptable. When my 92 1/2 yr. old mom was growing up on a farm in MN, they didn’t even have electricity until she was in high school. No heat except a woodstove so it was almost like sleeping outside. You’d go to bed early under a thick quilt just to keep warm. It’s amazing anyone finished school back then. Who would want to do homework if they had to do it by candleight or oil lamp and were freezing?! Anyway, I’d be more tolerant of the power outage if we lived in the country, far from civilization. We live in a highly populated area and pay a fortune for utilities and everything else. When it came back on, I was half expecting it to go out again. We’ve had problems in the summer where we’ve lost electricity for 24 hours once and 3 whole days a few years ago. It’s another thing we’ve survived and lived to tell about.
I had such high hopes for getting things done while on “staycation”. Instead we did too much huddling under blankets looking at the Christmas lights and watching Netflix. I made a 20 lb. turkey with all the fixings on New Year’s Day. It was too cold to walk the dogs except for about 2 times. One day we played with them in the backyard and I took pictures. Hubby built me a shelf that runs the length of the wall in the kitchen above the sliding glass doors to outside. I needed somewhere to put stuff. It wasn’t like he built it and we filled it up over the span of a week. He built it and we filled it completely in about 5 minutes. I love it and need more storage solutions since the house is so tiny and my collections are getting so big. There were very few estate sales during that time but one we went to had a bunch of decorative ceramic molds from Italy. I had a few that I’d gotten like 6 months ago and was thrilled when I found these. We hung them in my vintage kitchen.
After the Packers won their Dec. 29th game and made it into the playoffs, hubby joked that he wondered if he could get tickets. Tickets went on sale at 3 pm the next day and about 5 minutes after that, he headed to his computer to the Ticketmaster site to see if he could get them. He yelled to me that he got in and should he get them? It was on a timer of a few minutes so I just said something like, “Sure, if you want.” I never know for sure what hubby will do. He’s much more spontaneous than I am. I plan as much of my life out as I can, weighing the pros and cons of everything. A thought just pops in his head and he acts on it. I guess that’s what makes us a good pair. We even each other out. 🙂 So he ended up getting 4 seats in the endzone. Section 104, row 46, seats 15-18. Ten years ago, we had taken his older sister Linda and her husband Ken to the playoff game at Lambeau Field. They had such a good time (as did we) that they still talk about it to this day. So we figured we’d ask them again. Linda had cancer (hairy cell leukemia) a little over 3 years ago. She did some heavy duty chemo and knocked it out. She’d been in remission until last fall. She did a different course of chemo and seemed to be better. Hubby called her right away to see if she could go. Due to the cold weather they were expecting at the game, she didn’t think her health could take it. She is going to the doctor’s this week to find out if she’s all clear so she probably wanted to wait until she got the go ahead to do things like that. We were disappointed but understood. Next hubby called his brother Brian and asked him if he and his son Mitchell wanted to go. They live in Green Bay and know all the shortcuts to the stadium and where to park, etc.
I really had no business going to the game. I hadn’t had time to think it through. As soon as I knew we were going, I started worrying non-stop. It’s a 3 hour drive from where we live to Green Bay so that’s 6 hours in the car. Then 4 hours for the game and back and forth to the stadium and dressing in layered clothing. The weather reports were forecasting a foot of snow before we left (which did happen) and made me think 3 hours wouldn’t be enough time to get up there with the snowy roads. They also said that it could be as cold up there as the Ice Bowl in 1967 when the Packers played in -13 below temps. Luckily that didn’t turn out to be the case. It was 5 degrees at kickoff with -10 below windchill. All week I was a bundle of nerves and I didn’t sleep the night before at all. Eek!
I could write 100 pages just on the fearful thoughts that went through my head. I hoped Mom would be fine if I was there to get her up in the morning and put her to bed at night. We got up at 8 am and did our usual routine. I made Mom 2 sandwiches and put each on a separate plate covered in saran wrap with a note on top: “This is your lunch. Sausage & cheese sandwich and cut up pickle. Eat after 1 pm. Yogurt also.” The 2nd plate: “This is your dinner. Peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Eat after 7 pm or when hungry.” I would’ve preferred to leave her a hot meal like soup or turkey leftovers but didn’t want her using the microwave. About 10 days before this happened, she stopped microwaving her coffee in the morning. She’s been drinking it cold! I asked her why. She said, “It’s too much trouble.” I don’t think she remembers how to use it anymore. It turns out she only ate her lunch. I asked her why, “I didn’t know it was mine. It could have been Greg’s.” I also wrote her a note I left on the kitchen counter about us being gone and when we’d be home. I said we’d try to be back by midnight but if we weren’t to stay up. Not go to bed. To sleep in her recliner in the LR with blankets on top. I also wrote her a note telling how to fix the computer if it gets fouled up when she’s playing her slot machine games. All week I’d been teaching her how to turn the tv on with the remote control. We weren’t going to have her do any channels, just turn it on and off. I wrote how to do that and taped it to the underside of the remote. It turns out she never watched it. She doesn’t remember things I tell her 30 seconds ago, why did I think what I told her before we left would sink in? 😦
I wrote on the kitchen note to let the dogs out as needed. I worried all week that she wouldn’t let them out at all and they’d crap all over the house and she’d step in it. Then I worried that she’d let them out and forget there are 3 of them and leave one out in the super cold weather and they’d freeze. We locked the front door when we left so she couldn’t open that by mistake and let the dogs in the street. I was worried the snow would delay us until like 6 in the morning. I was afraid the electricity would go out and she’d freeze home alone. I was afraid that we’d get in a car accident and get killed and no one would find her for who knows how long. Everything at home went fine and we made it home by 12:20 am. Mom was standing in the LR when we got home. I asked her what she was doing. She said she was getting ready to go up to bed. So we made it just in time! I ran over to her and hugged her and told her I missed her. As far as I know, she didn’t have any trouble with the computer while we were gone and the time passed just fine. The dogs were great, she had just let them out when we got back. They kept her company. I was so relieved that it went well but I don’t know if I’d leave her for that amount of time again. 14 hours was too much.
As for the game itself, we had an amazing time! The Sat. before the game, Greg & I went through our closets and found everything we’d need to bundle up for a cold game. I wore long underwear, a pair of colored jeans, a pair of sweatpants over that and some nylon rain pants. On top I wore my mom’s long sleeved turtleneck sweater and wool sweater vest. Plus my white coat, sheepskin hat, Mom’s scarf and 2 pairs of gloves. I fine the whole first quarter and then slowly more and more of me were getting cold. We’d brought something to sit on and blankets to put over us in the stands which helped. I had on 2 pairs of socks and my snowboots. My toes were the first on me to get cold, followed by the rest of my feet and my cheeks. By the last 5 minutes on the timeclock, even my legs were feeling the cold. I was worried about losing toes. Not because I thought I would but because there was a joke going around on Twitter, “I can’t believe I got Packers playoff tickets! And I only lost 6 toes!” I made sure I kept moving my toes inside the boots. Plus we were standing up and shouting a lot which gets the blood pumping. If there’s a once in a lifetime experience to be had, it’s going to a Packers game at Lambeau Field. I’ve done it 3 times now (1986, 2004, 2014) and it’s like nothing else on earth.
Even though San Francisco beat the Packers 23-20, it was a close game. We had great seats and could see everything well. Half the fun was people watching. The Green Bay fans are so hardcore and intense. They dress like idiots. All kinds of team apparel was worn plus there’s always one fool in the crowd that has his shirt off no matter the weather. My favorite part was watching this guy ahead of us, to our right. After first quarter, he took his shirt off and only wore a hat. Then he would put mittens on briefly and take them off. He made it until halftime topless and then put his shirt on. For about 10 seconds and took it off again! We were joking that his pants would come off next. He lasted through halftime and then disappeared. We figure he either passed out from drugs (it HAD to be drugs, I don’t think you can be THAT drunk!) or was in the ER. Back in 2001, Vince McMahon tried to start up another football league in the USA called the XFL (extreme football league). Hubby and I were so excited. One of the teams was the Chicago Enforcers and hubby got season tickets the first year. We were thrilled to get in on the ground floor of something. The games were Jan.-Apr. and the Jan. & Feb. games were very cold. There was a guy at every game ALONE who always was shirtless. No matter the temperature. Anyway, the turnout for the XFL was poor and it only lasted one season. The NFL was against it the whole time which didn’t help. Some people say they’re football fans but we really are!
Now that we’ve had almost 35″ of snow this season and 22″ since New Year’s, the news is forecasting flooding this weekend. Starting Friday there’s going to be several days of mid to upper 30’s in a row including lots of rain. Gah! Our basement floods when you look at it sideways so I don’t need to be worrying about this for the next week. We’ve been having such insufferable cold that just getting to 30 degrees would feel warm. It’d be great and it wouldn’t melt all the snow in one batch. But no, we need to go from one extreme to another. Looks like Mother Nature has her period again!