Monday, February 21, 2011

transitional times

It’s good that in travel, you do not know what awaits you or else, quite likely, you’d never leave the soft cushions of your couch.

In Atlanta, the Delta agents put me on so many flights that are then canceled or delayed that when I finally appear at the gate of one that is to soon leave for Chicago, the agent takes one look at the record before her, then passes me off to her supervisor.

The flight itself is a riot of missteps and malfunctions. Long delay in departure because the incoming plane -- a flight from Cancun -- is late. (Who could blame them. Stay with the warm weather as long as you can.) Then, a pull away from the gate and a quick return, because the auxiliary engine dies. One could say that it’s good to find this out while still on the ground. One could also say that sitting for over an hour in a plane where nothing works, not even the air flow, sucks. And when the captain says he believes it is now okay, you wonder if he’s making it up to keep you happy. And you suddenly remember that the copilot looks like she is half the age of your younger daughter, and that was fine and charming when things were going smoothly but now you wish she looked more like Captain Sully.

We do take off though and of course, we hit the terrible weather in Chicago just in time. So we are now in a holding pattern. Until cleared for landing. Which happens far far later than what was promised. Then, with a thud, we are on the ground. I know, I know, everyone needs to have their first difficult landing.

It is then 5:30 and I say to myself – well, at least I’ll easily make the 6:30 bus to Madison. That’s before the long taxi: for some God knows why reason, it is taking 45 minutes for the plane to find the gate. It is as if I were driving with someone who could not find a parking space in lower Manhattan. We canvass the entire airport and then some.

But, I make the 6:30 (running) and I make it back to Madison just in time to see the wet mush turn into ice on the pavement. There is so much of it that it freezes quickly over strips of wet snow. Ed says that driving isn’t too awful: at least the road has texture (of a frozen sort).

This morning we go to the farmhouse to study the progress.

DSC05710 - Version 2

Ed has removed all traces of the chimney and has also moved out great boulders (note these at the bottom right) that had been used to support it.

DSC05711 - Version 2

He is digging a hole to pour in the cement and I am reminded of a problem I gave my Fall Semester Torts class about a building that toppled because (maybe) the proportions of liquid to cement were not right. I hope that my traveling pal knows his proportions.

Andy comes – poor Andy with the possibly sprained knee. We could have talked about our various ailments but we didn’t do that (too much). Instead, we talk building talk. I love it all – hearing the banter about beams and switches, I even do not mind that Ed weighs in now on how he would have done the kitchen in a completely different way than what I have planned out. He is given a free pass for poor behavior just because I am so grateful for the work he did in moving all the boulders and dirt out of the basement.

I have to leave eventually to teach my many hours of classes. I tell the students how hard I worked to get here from Albuquerque on time, but they probably wish that I hadn’t been quite so successful. A free day is a free day, after all.

Outside my office, the walk down Bascom Hill remains completely iced over.

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It’s as if at this point we’ve all given up. Forget it, we’re done. It’ll melt eventually.

I have a dinner meet-up just off the Square (at the cozy-wonderful Kitchen) and I pass a Capitol that is unusually busy and unusually beautiful, what with the people there at these late hours and the swirling snow.


But I have this to say about being back in Madison:  at this point, I am officially sick of winter.