Recovering and binge-watching Strike Back

Saturday's early evening view from the door, freezing rain had visited in the morning, all is wet and warming up.

Saturday’s early evening view from the door, freezing rain had visited in the morning, all is wet and warming up.

Waking up at 3:00 AM on Thursday, it turns out, was a better situation than the one I dealt with on early Saturday morning.

From about 2:00 AM on, on Friday, I religiously held to chilling out. I do not know if my previous errands and activities from before had anything to do with what ensued, but it was not all that pretty. I started feeling worse and worse, my voice going from normalcy to a raspy unpleasant, almost incomprehensible version and accompanied by a very harsh throat pain. The crankiness was not helping any of us. I had had a different throat pain earlier in the week, the cold looked like it was going to settle into being easy and short in duration. I was fooled. I almost think I had two separate viruses.

After a hot toddy, I tried to go to sleep, not being able to get comfortable and in the end, I only slept about ninety minutes. I went downstairs, got some water and my iPad and proceeded to find a movie on Netflix. I landed on ‘Renoir’ a story of Auguste Renoir’s life and of that of his son, Jean, the famous filmmaker. I managed to see most of it, periodically falling into a fitful sleep. I realized that I had a low-grade fever, so I finally took some Advil and ended up sweating out the fever and falling into about a three-hour sleep and awakening at 6:30 AM. I felt much better, my throat was better, my cough was there, and my voice was already beginning the transition from total gravel and frustration to normal.

The day was spent ‘lolling around,’ as I used to say to our children when they were less than productive, doing my utmost to do as little as possible. I truly believe that that most who loll around have no difficulty doing so, maybe even have a predilection for it. I am guessing that, given the reality of it all, I am not really lolling around. I can say that forcing myself to sit still is quite a fight for me and extremely hard to do.

In order to force myself to stay seated and as idle as possible, I pulled out the first season of Strike Back, a very well done show of political and international espionage. I had seen it before, but I have season two from last year and I wanted to refresh my memory before moving forward.

The day outside, from my few moments at the open door, showed a temperature that was more normal for this time of the year and it is supposed to be even warmer tomorrow. I had been hoping to get the pond taken care of, final prep for the winter, maybe removing the tent-like canopy and pulling out the filter and hoses, leaving only the pond warmer to produce a small space for the pond gases to escape and keep from killing the fish. I have secured the electric cord so that Stewie cannot undo it as he did last year, fastening it with a gear tie from, one of my favorite new pieces of gear and one of my favorite new companies for special, well-made pieces of gear.

Here’s hoping that tomorrow is better than today as I head back into a non-viral healthset.

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Waking up at 3:00 AM and losing my plan to chill out


It was a few days ago that I felt as if a cold were coming on. With the help of Zicam, it really seemed under control. I was feeling very ‘functional’ and able to do everything I needed. The biggest issue was waking up and then not feeling as if I could go back to sleep, therefore necessitating my going downstairs so as not to keep MK up as well.

3:00 AM was my wake up on early Friday morning. I ended up downstairs on the couch and sleeping till 5:00 AM or so. At some point, Stewie felt sorry for me and joined me on the couch (the only one he is allowed on).

Friday was a day that needed to be taken slowly and easily and I wanted to just put a DVD in and take a day of rest. I did have my DVD of Strike Back that I still have not seen, actually two of them.

For whatever reason, I was surprised that I craved coffee in the morning, sometimes these silly viruses suppress our desire for libations like that. The cold, which was very mild, now decided to set foot in my voicebox (adult croup) and I was a bit stuffed up. Lots of liquids, maybe some rest and maybe a bit of reading?

I had stupidly misplaced one of the two keys for MK’s car (a few weeks ago) and that bit me in the derrière as MK took my car (since I needed her car to take the kayaks in for winter storage) and her key ring had the Forester key. Instead of just having some outdoor time with Mike as we set up the kayaks for portage to storage, I had to go to Glencoe since MK was there with Kelsey since she could not go to the babysitter’s as she had a fever. I retrieved the Subaru key. I came back and then we set up the car.

I went to Lake Bluff, removed the kayaks and we set up the warehouse storage. I returned home, removed the kayak racks, did some quick driveway leaf cleanup and went in the house. Despite my original plan to rest as much as possible, I ended up doing a couple of loads of wash before finally grabbing some lunch, some hot tea, and sat down to watch (again) the first season of ‘Strike Back,’ a crazy good series of British espionnage.

Lethargy set in but not sleep. The hope was that tomorrow might be better.

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My little Language Stars


Wednesday was a typically busy day with the morning being spent at Oakton and then the mid to late afternoon tutoring. It was just a pretty typical busy day in the cold November we are experiencing and luckily not having the fifty plus inches of snow that the near-Buffalo, NY has.

Thursday was extremely cold as well and started out with one baby and then by noontime we had two others. MK and I went back and forth with babies suffering from teething issues and we tried to keep them as happy as we could. Feeding, keeping them occupied with good activities, and getting them to nap was the order for the day.

At about a quarter past two, Samantha and I headed to class. She was quite excited as it was her second one and apparently she was more interested in the entire process than I had originally realized. I almost had to chase her in to the building.

When I went back at the end of class, Samantha’s teacher was excited to talk to me about her progress. She was thrilled to say that Samantha used a complete sentence in French more than once and that she knew her colors and numbers. She mentioned that the ‘chemistry’ of the class was creating some positive competition and that it was causing all three of the kids to speak more in French. I listened from the hallway to the end of the class and the energy was truly there as I heard the interchange with the new teacher who is going to be there when the current teacher has her baby. Meanwhile, both of them are pretty much in there to instruct through fun activities with games and songs. Two instructors and three students is certainly a wonderful ratio for the language learning. Her ‘Maîtresse,’ as a teacher of this age of students would be called, told me that it was clear that Samantha is showing that she has a French base of knowledge that is being released in the classroom situation and which should make it easy for her to make quick process in the language.

I am excited about it all as I continue to communicate exclusively in French with Samantha, her sister, and her cousin. I am truly hoping that this French classroom experience will jumpstart a good and healthy language situation for our granddaughters.

Language Stars is doing what our country should be doing, providing a means by which we can create a society of human beings who have an acquaintance and a connection with more than just one language and culture. What we need next is a curriculum across the board in all the schools which allows the work being done in Language Stars to continue in an organized manner throughout students’ schooling. Nonetheless, Language Stars is a brilliant idea that needs to be admired and supported.

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Neighbor stuff on Granddaughter day

The cold weather is evidenced by a pond waterfall (that needs to be shut off for the winter) freezing into beautiful forms.

The cold weather is evidenced by a pond waterfall (that needs to be shut off for the winter) freezing into beautiful forms.

Tuesday was grandkid day and started out by my getting in the car, fighting with the baby seat, and bringing one of my beautiful granddaughters home. The first time you put one of your grandchildren in your car, at least for me, is quite the freaky thing. As awe-inspiring and as scary as it was putting my own kids in a car seat and driving them from here to there, driving a grandkid is even scarier. The responsibility for me is pretty much overwhelming. I am a very careful driver but put a grandkid in my car and watch care and security go on overdrive!

Once I had arrived home with my grandbaby warm and successfully at destination, I was greeted by the toddler who has a mouth from teething hell. The day was busy and by noon, our five year old was delivered to us (thus saving me from having to go out and get her as I usually do on Tuesdays. With two children under two, our lives can be a bit hectic as we do our best to keep up with eating, napping, diapering, and overall schedules. The good news here? I pulled out the new purchase of a play-tent from ‘’ and that meant for a really fun day as they went in and out of it.

Anyway, we were very busy and it was intense at times, my special moment being when I decided to lie down on the love seat, legs hanging over the end, babies quiet in their Pack and Play cribs, and Samantha putting an afghan on me (I don’t know why I am adding this, but my mom had a serious pronunciation issue with the word ‘afghan,’ pronouncing it “af – a – ghan” and she was the one who had knit this particular one, having done one for each of my children when they went to college). We rested together for a small bit and then the babies were up and MK, Samantha, and I were on ‘full-tilt’ call.

At one point in the afternoon, I looked out the window to see the wind blowing furiously. This normally should not be an issue, but Tuesday is garbage day in our part of Deerfield. The garbage and recycling are rolled to the curb and since our shopping has been relatively ‘online’ of late, we had cardboard boxes out the wazoo. I usually try to break them down, but this was overload and the recycling bin was full. I therefore put smaller inside larger and placed them next to the two bins and the two lawn refuse bags. Normally, this would not be an issue and I certainly had no meteorological info about what ensued. The wind became gale-force and all of a sudden I see boxes flying south, probably trying to imitate what the geese are supposed to do. South means, Mr.-I-hate-your-chimney’s lawn. I cannot say I felt too bad about it and there was no way that I could get out to deal with the horror of my bad luck at that moment.

Within a short period of time, I see said neighbor furiously working out of doors, lawnmower in hand, cleaning his lawn of leaves and such. At one point, I did see one of my boxes in hand. My mind wondered where this situation was going.

Now, had this been me, I would have collected the stuff on my lawn and just placed them on the curb, even if I did not like him. That is not what he did, he took them and dumped them between the driveway fence and my house, so since I did not go out until after garbage collection, that meant that I had to schlepp them into the garage for next week or for breakdown and placement in the recycling bin.

It is not really a big deal, it is just symbolic of how silly neighborly relations can get. Obviously, neighborly relations can mimic country and international relations as often things that happen can be misconstrued. In the past, I used to take the neighbors’ mail and newspapers to the back door of their house so the house didn’t look empty when they were out of town. My kids have plowed their driveway for free when they are out of town so as to achieve the same thing. Now, unfortunately, any nice things we do have to be rethought because what we used to do could look like trespassing and frankly I would not be surprised about electronic surveillance.

So, life can be silly, things can get out of hand, confusion might reign, but one must be careful, especially considering the crazy occurrences we have all witnessed via the media.

Despite the cardboard box fiasco, we had one great day with our delightful progeny.

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The Incredible Mike Kintop

Today's view of the tree, with a 'drawing' effect.

Yesterday’s view of the tree, with a ‘drawing’ effect.

Sometimes you underestimate people. I have made a conscious effort in the last few years not to do so. Judging is a serious thing, we all do it, and the clarity of our judgments is often less then accurate.

Mike Kintop was a person who worked in the Audio-Visual Section of the Library at New Trier. He was an eccentric guy, somewhat different, a Trekkie, a man with a constant smile on his face and something good to say to you. To look at him, to even talk to him, you had no idea of the impact that he had on the youth or others with whom he worked. I had an inkling, but my inkling was certainly incapable of seeing the truly broad path of influence he had, so much that today, on his birthday, I realized that despite his death well over a year ago, he is still having a positive effect on people.

He has been gone since June 13th of 2013. His Facebook page is still intact and it seems as busy as it was when he was alive. Looking at his page and reading the testimonials as former students and family members write him messages is quite the impressive experience. The former students, friends, and acquaintances are using Mike Kintop’s Facebook page, still active despite his passing, as a sort of therapy experience. They talk of doing video work and wishing he were here to counsel them. They talk of tatooing his nickname, the ‘Captain’ on themselves to be reminded of his strengths. One person mentioned seeing his rosary every day and being given strength.

I always enjoyed talking to Mike, he was always a spot of sunshine in the sometimes cloudy days. He always smiled. When the technology might go awry, he was there quickly and did his utmost to get you up and running and always apologizing when he could not. He apparently, despite not really being in the classroom as an instructor, was and is one of the most influential educators in the building.

I am just totally gassed out by this. How many of us leave such a legacy? Check out Mike Kintop on Facebook and prepare to be blown away.

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