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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is Church Street in Bound Brook, but it could be anywhere in the state. We're having a way snowy winter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nope, it's a HUGE red-tailed hawk! Kewl. No wonder all the pigeons are in hiding!
Tuesday morning bushes.
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!
Finally, NJ Transit workers are chipping away the ice at the train station.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
One of the Plainfield Train Station's nifty keen lamps covered with ice.
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!
A warm and friendly refuge on an icy cold morning. Watchung Avenue, Plainfield.
Well, I suppose he could be the Saltman. Notice the rude lights aren't glaring in the morning.
The corner of Roosevelt and East Front. Getting treacherous.
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.
Now, why didn't I ever think of using flattened cereal boxes and black garbage bags to cover my windows? East Front Street, Plainfield.
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.
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).