Sunday, January 23, 2011

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - January 23, 2011

It's Sunday morning, once again time for my reflection on the week gone by both in words and photographs I've taken. Normally my weeks consist of going to work, coming home, eating and sleeping. I lead a fairly quiet life. However, this past week was a bit eventful. Sunday and Monday were quiet, nothing really exciting to report.

Then came Tuesday.

All of my regular blog readers should remember the bird feeder saga, right? Well, I noticed that there were discarded belongings on the curb and the bird feeder missing right before Christmas. Apparently the couple and their young daughter moved out. That's a good thing.

Why a good thing? Because that house was the site of the third homicide in Plainfield so far this year. While not really in my neighborhood per se, this one hit closer to home than the shootings on the West Side of town. I see the people who live in the house almost daily. We say hello. We don't say much more than that as the couple who moved out were the only ones who seemed fluent in English and my own Spanish is lacking.

Although the article emphasizes a Latino gang-related aspect to the killing, I'm just not seeing the men as gang member types. I suppose they could be. But what I see are men waiting for rides to work every morning, some dressed in clothes covered with paint, others dressed for outdoor labor. They carry their coffees and bagged breakfasts often along with gallon jugs of water. In the evenings they're usually walking from one of the many local ethnic restaurants carrying styrofoam food containers. They just seem like working guys to me, not gang members. I just don't know.

Oh. And we had a storm Monday evening into Tuesday morning. It started out as snow, then changed to ice and eventually to plain old rain. I went ahead to work on Tuesday morning thinking it wouldn't be so bad.

I was wrong. My own neighborhood where the sidewalks hadn't been touched was easy. The ice made about a quarter-inch covering atop the snow. Since only a handful of people had walked the sidewalks before me, traction was easy crunching through where no man had walked before in my sturdy non-slippery winter boots.

By the time I hit the homicide crime scene, it was pure ice as so many people had walked through it. Well, not through the crime scene itself, but the sidewalk in front. I held onto the chain fence as I passed, eavesdropping on the cop talk. Since it took me FOREVER to make my usual 15 minute, 20 with a breakfast (or something) pick up stop ... I missed my train which was ten minutes late itself.

So I had a leisurely breakfast at the Plainfield Donut Shop and went onto the train station ... which was pure slick ice or snowbanks dependent on where you walked. I made it alive to the platform. I made it alive on the ice at the Bridgewater Train Station. I almost made it alive on the ice to work.

After walking slowly and gingerly on a stretch of about 150 yards on ice, I only had about ten feet more to go to get to the merely wet salted street. Then it happened. I slipped and fell. And I couldn't get up. My right knee buckled under me. I also hit the left knee (the knee replacement one) and messed up my wrist a bit. No matter how I tried to to get up, I just kept sliding. Plus I was in agony with the knee. At one point, I think I looked like a turtle on my back with my legs and arms flailing in the air.

After the TD Ball Park people at the ticket windows ignored me and the drivers going by ignored me, I finally called work. They came for me and wanted to call an ambulance. NO! While I have decent health insurance, ambulance transport is ridiculously expensive unless you're admitted to the hospital.

I did the work I needed to get done at work, then someone drove me to catch a train home. From there I hobbled to a cab hoping the knee would miraculously heal itself on my day off Wednesday. It didn't happen. The knee replacement knee had no pain but sports a bruise. The wrist did clear up. The right knee blew up. I ended up calling out from work Thursday and Friday, going to my orthopedic surgeon on Friday since that was the first appointment I could get.

No broken bones, but I do have a pulled muscle/sprain. So I'm out of work until next Thursday, in an immobilizer (most of the time) and have pain meds. The x-rays showed that the knee is still bone-on-bone. But I knew that. I declined a cortisone shot to mask the pain (instead going for the narcotics) as that will put off the knee replacement. I was very worried that the damage done in the fall would delay things if it needed surgery now. We discussed having it done in about two months. As for this injury now, as the doc says ... "Look on the bright side. You won't need that ACL anyway as I take it out during surgery!"

But my week's excitement didn't end there. And, I apologize for the length of this.

Thursday evening, there I was all snug in bed. There it was, the middle of the night. All of a sudden Vincent leaped off the bed, running for the bathroom where he kept jumping at the ceiling.


I heard a noise and thought "mouse." Although it's kind of mean of me, I decided to move a ceiling tile with my broom and let Vincent take care of it. EEK! Something WAY BIGGER than a mouse fell out! I first thought "rat" then I thought "bat" as it was practically flying across my small bathroom. For a while it was fast and furious flashes of white fur (Vincent) and black-grey fur (the intruder). Since it was so big, I took Vincent and his litter box out. After a few minutes, I peeked in.

It was a small squirrel. I cannot have a squirrel in my bathroom! Nor could I let Vincent tangle with it. Here I was, getting around on crutches with a doctor's appointment for the next afternoon. I can't be taking Vincent to the vet because he got beat up by a squirrel, too! Even though the squirrel didn't seem fully grown, he was still big enough to do damage to Vincent. I closed the door again. I waited about an hour, hoping the squirrel would find his way out the same way he came in.

No go. In the end, it took me almost two hours to catch the squirrel mid-flight in a box. Then I set him free outside. So much for any sleep on Thursday night!

Not only have I a lot of words, this is a heavy photo week, too. Next week should be a lot lighter as I'll be home-bound most of the week. Well ... not if I do a Jimmy Stewart and spy on my neighbors with binoculars! Here are this week's photos -- clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window:

Romonds Garage

The vacant Jeep dealership is caught in the waning afternoon sun on Friday. East Second Street, Plainfield. Amongst other things, that 1928 fire engine is still inside. The awnings are suffering, though.

Pink sky at night

As the sun set over Plainfield Friday evening, the entire sky was a mix of grays and pinks. This is the view from Watchung Avenue looking towards East Front Street as I hobbled after my doctor's visit. I was going to Caribe Cab on Watchung.

Thomas Furniture/Plainfield Courier News sunsetted

In more ways than one, I guess. The sun sets right through the vacant Park Avenue building which once housed both businesses. I edited the shot to only leave that building in color. I took the photo on North Avenue.

Who wants to swing?

This tree limb swing obviously isn't getting any use lately. I took this shot from in front of my orthopedic surgeon's office in Bound Brook, NJ.

One Jersey 'hood looks like another these days

This is Church Street in Bound Brook, but it could be anywhere in the state. We're having a way snowy winter.

Old, new, and new old

The new solar panel and its light, the old "Canoe" style streetlamp, the old art deco style Brook theater sign and the new "vintage" street lamp make for a clutter of old/new. I'm not sure if a new marquee will be going up or not there. The theater keeps getting flooded out whenever major floods hit Bound Brook.

The Voorhees Building

Why couldn't Plainfield take care of its historical buildings across from the train station like Bound Brook did? This building has also been flooded out numerous times. I noticed the new little pharmacy in there when I got off the train for my doctor appointment.

Coming back through, prescription in hand, I decided to see if they take my insurance and what kind of money we'd be talking. I was impressed. Friendly pharmacist/owner and yes, they had my drugs and take my prescription insurance. And, even better than that, it's the same drug I was paying a $4 co-pay at Target for when I had my knee replacement. Bound Brook Pharmacy had me pay a $3.72 co-pay. Convenient as I wouldn't have to make a stop at a drug store in Plainfield once I got off the train and extremely reasonable.

Not as nice as the Plainfield Train Station

While the historic building is well-kept, the train station not so much. But it does make good photo fodder. I messed a bit with the editing on this one going for more of an illustration kind of look about it.


The tunnel under the railroad tracks in Bound Brook is scary and old. I don't want to think how many times it's been flooded by the Raritan River in the last 98 years! Tons of stairs, no elevator, no ticket station, nowhere to get out of the elements (except the tunnel), no raised platform. The Plainfield Train Station wins hands down.

Main Street

Actually, that's not Main Street going up the hill. High Street, maybe? I don't know. I'm not as familiar with Bound Brook as I am with Plainfield. Edited to leave only the sign in green.

Hey! Wazzat?

You see it ... on the railing of the upper left side fire escape? Is it a cat? Usually pigeons are huddled together for warmth on the front of the Chotola building on North Avenue in Plainfield. I don't see any pigeons anywhere around. Weird.

That ain't no CAT!

Nope, it's a HUGE red-tailed hawk! Kewl. No wonder all the pigeons are in hiding!

Eep. It's looking at me.

Ice Ice Baby

Tuesday morning bushes.

The Plainfield Luge Run

This is the sidewalk leading to the handicapped accessible ramp at the Plainfield Train Station on Tuesday morning. Yes, it's a sheet of ice. No, I didn't go up to the platform that way. I kept thinking it would be so much fun to slide down it on a saucer sled!

Chipping the ice

Finally, NJ Transit workers are chipping away the ice at the train station.

Not a good day for bike commuting

The tire isn't stolen, I don't think. My guess would be that the owner took it with him so no one would steal the bike. I don't think bike thefts during ice storms are all that common, but it is what it is.

Speaking of stolen ...

The other bike at the Bridgewater Train Station has either assimilated or been stolen. Let's see if this one vanishes. And yes, I'm on ice. I have no choice.

Slip-sliding away

"The nearer I am to my destination, the more I'm slip-sliding away" - Paul Simon

This is back at the Plainfield Train Station. That NJ Transit truck of workers sat there almost a half-hour watching people fall before they finally got out, fell themselves, and started chipping the ice away. I did the same approach as the guy for this one -- shuffling slowly, not lifting my feet. The over the snow approach is more dangerous as there are choppy unexpected large ice chunks.

Help, I've fallen under the train and can't get up!

The last step is a doozy. The Bridgewater Train Station with no raised platform. Yes, that's ice. By now, you might be realizing that I didn't fall merely because I'm clumsy. The odds were against me with so much ice I had to get over.

Icy train lamp

One of the Plainfield Train Station's nifty keen lamps covered with ice.

Sometimes life surrounds you with pigeons

After he chipped away the ice in front of The Corner Store at Watchung and East Second, Dave fed his birds. They're lucky the red-tailed hawk wasn't around!

Icy early morn on Watchung Avenue

Plainfield Donut Shop

A warm and friendly refuge on an icy cold morning. Watchung Avenue, Plainfield.

The Sandman

Well, I suppose he could be the Saltman. Notice the rude lights aren't glaring in the morning.

Selective coloring

The corner of Roosevelt and East Front. Getting treacherous.

My 'hood that morning

THIS is why I thought going to work would be okay. I walked on the right side of the prints at a normal pace, not slippery at all. A bit crunchy, maybe.

Corn Flakes window decor

Now, why didn't I ever think of using flattened cereal boxes and black garbage bags to cover my windows? East Front Street, Plainfield.

The Donald

Trump may think he's the one, but this is The Donald. He's a very good train friend who's back on the trains after an absence of two years. He gets on in Newark, so I sneaked up on him with this shot as I boarded. It's great sitting together again mocking NJ Devils fans and chatting. I might add that he once broke his leg coming down the hill across from the Bridgewater Train Station in snow. When I first fell all I could think of was that I broke my leg like Donald did! Thankfully, I didn't.

These boots are made for walking

Or not. Definitely wouldn't be good on ice. Some of the Latino immigrants here wear interesting cowboy boots, belt buckles and cowboy hats. While this guy was happy to let me photograph his boots, I would have felt weird asking him if I could take a shot of his belt buckle. Plainfield Train Station (before the ice).

Is a squirrel going to fall out of the ceiling?

How was your week?


RyzandShyn said...

Oh Jackie, I'm so sorry for your fall. How awful that you had to call work to get help.
I'm glad the bird feeding&playset family got out before the violence.
Perhaps they saw the proverbial writing on the wall and made their move. The article says that the victim was 19 years old. It wouldn't surprise me then if the men in the house were hard working day laborers but the young kid had made a bad connection. It's just too easy to do.
I love the "Not as nice as the Plainfield Train Station" photo. It really does look like an illustration.
I lived in a Wild Kingdom house once. Once one squirrel falls in, others will follow unless the hole on the roof that is giving them access is fixed well. They will pull out any temporary fixes to get back in. One squirrel wouldn't take the open window I gave it to leave. It just hung on the curtain, refusing to jump out.
I quick batted at the curtain with my broom, and it looked like it leapt. I went to the window to check and saw it run across the grass. A women was walking her dog and saw it too. She asked me,
"That squirrel just jumped OUT of your house?" I confirmed it, embarrassed. She then said "I thought there goes dinner."
Funny, right?
I hope you have a much kinder, gentler, quiet week resting at home. Feel better. I'm up in Bergen County, but if you need something I'd be happy to help.

~~Silk said...

Sorry about the fall. At least Vincent will be happy that the two of you can be warm together while the rest of us freeze.

I am now living about 35 minutes south of you, and I'm fully retired and therefore have free time, so if you need anything, or a ride anywhere, click on my id and you can contact me through my profile.

(Squirrel, huh. And I thought the mouse living in my car was a problem.)

Bernice said...

Sorry to hear about your fall! It has been very treacherous out there and no warming-up in sight! Whatever happened to the January thaw? I have had the option of staying in, for which I am thankful.
Take care out there!

Delee said...

Jackie, I hope you are feeling better. Do you return to your doctor for a re-check?

Hard to believe that with you hobbling on the way for your appt. that you captured all those marvelous photos. The Bridgewater train station made for some unusual pics.

First, mice and now squirrels. Wonder what is next? Hopefully nada!

Maybe you need to buy a pair of ice skates, all that ice is horrible. I am sure many fell on their journey's!

Sally said...

Wow! What a week you had! Icy weather can be beautiful, but it makes walking and driving so treacherous. Glad you weren't more seriously injured! And I hope your knee heals enough that it won't be too bothersome until you can have your surgery. (Will you time that so your recuperation time and BB coincide?)

Silk's right that Vincent will love having you home for a few days. Or is he mad that you wouldn't let him play with that squirrel?

My own cats are none too pleased with me right now. I'm taking care of my brother's dog for a week, and even though she's a mellow, older dog who likes cats, my cats want nothing to do with her and spend most of their time hiding.

RJM in SC said...

So very sorry for your fall and your painful knee. I certainly hope you are feeling better very soon.

sandyy456 said...

Sorry about your fall. Sounds painful. Have you ever heard of Yaktrax? You slip them over your shoes or boots for traction on the ice. They aren't the most stylish, but they will keep you upright on the ice.

Petals said...

God knew you were injury-prone and gave you strong bones? hehe Hope you are OK.
You need to introduce Mr Hawk to Mr Squirrel. A bit of a mess tho.

I am a mommy! Since I lost my mother, and am "all alone in the world now", I became a mommy to a 3mth old black miniature schnauzer, Sebastian Edward McConnell. He is perfect, and of course I am in love.
Wish my mom could have met him, but I'm sure she is watching and happy that I have gone on with my life. *sigh*
Be glad to have another show to blog about. My mom's last week, severe dementia, she thought Big Brother was on every night. That's all she talked about, Big Brother. Well, that was our thing. *2nd sigh*

Sydney said...

WOah look at those boots! Jackie, is it possible to put the Bachelor Meet UP link on the sidebar so we can find it more easily to comment? Thanks so much!

Sydney said...

Forgive me, I was looking only in the first list and didn't see it. GAH!

RydandShyn, loved hearing your squirrel story.
Silk, hope you're a little warmer now that you are south of Jackie.

Jackie, hope you're on the mend -- we've talked on FB! Stay WARMMMMMM!

Prof. Williams said...

Hey, Jackie,

I'm just now catching up on a lot of stuff from this week. So sorry to hear about your fall--God bless.


Dottie Gutenkauf said...

Jackie, I hope you heal well and are very, VERY careful on the ice--it's brutal and falls as you know are horrible. But your spirits are so good--you are one tough lady and I appreciate you (as we all do).


Anonymous said...

I was badly injured when I was young and have learned how to lessen the impact of re-injury. If you alternate heat and cold it will drive circulation and counter inflamation and bruising.

Naprosyn and flexeril do more together than either does alone, while narcotics don't help the healing process. Up your intake of stress vitamins like B and C. If you aren't picky,eat seaweed or take kelp tablets.

Injections of knee lubricants that last 3 - 6 months help delay surgeries.

It was hard to read your story, there are a few days in life, I should have stayed home, but you rarely know, in advance.

Be well.

By the way, gang identification opens up pathways to more funds. Other countries have struggled with profiling young men as gang member, in the total absence of criminal behavior.

Anonymous said...

Just heard of your fall from Dan's blog. Sorry, and happy to see that you have such good spirits in the face of adversity.

Keep up the Sunday blog. I watch for the pics and humor, even if I did miss this last post, whether I am at home in Plainfied or away.

Richard Goldenberg