Friday, December 29, 2006

Party Time!

Well, it's time for the annual "Looney Time" party at Chez Jackson - - Curt and Judy, Jan and Don, and Cindy will be here. So will our friend Paul from the College. Should be fun, but - -

Unfortunately, Jerry will not be here this year. He has a dear friend with a critically ill family member, and he is driving him to Louisiana to spend time with his family. He is an integral part of our "Looney" group, and will be sorely missed.

But I guess that means that the rest of us will just have to try harder to make up for his absence . . .

You might want to keep bail money handy . . . I'm just sayin'.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Yes, that's right - - I said "Merry Christmas" . . .

I know it may not be "politically correct", but - -

That's what I was raised with, and that's what I feel like saying.

You can say "Happy Holidays" if that is your preference, or you may celebrate Ramadaan, or Kwanzaa, or whatever other holiday tradition you were raised with.

But for me, it's "Merry Christmas", and always will be.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Goodbye To A Dear Friend

I lost my dear friend Barb.

Her visitation and funeral was today. I made the trip to Taylorville to pay my respects to her family and make my goodbyes to her.

Dad came over from Pana and met me at the funeral home. He and Mom knew Barb almost as long as I did - -

I can't help but think of all the "mischief" she and I would get into . . . she was such a character, and we would laugh and giggle like lunatic schoolgirls. All those years ago - -

It's amazing - - after all Steve and I have been through with the ice storm, and fighting with AmerenIP and State Farm . . . here it is, almost Christmas, and her husband has lost his wife of over 30 years, and her 3 daughters have lost their mom.

Really puts it all into perspective.

Goodbye, my dear friend Barb. I love you, and will miss you. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Friday, December 08, 2006


AmerenIP is not the only company who is going to hear it from me.

Our insurance agent, who shall remain nameless but whom I will refer to by initials (SV), is also on my "list".

I went to our agent's office this afternoon to turn in information about the situation we had just been going through.

I was told that they are "sorry", but - - there is nothing they can do for us.


We have paid you literally THOUSANDS of dollars in premium payments over the years, and not turned in any claims to speak of. And now you are telling me that you are NOT THERE FOR US???? That we are in this ALONE????

I'm pissed.

Damn You, State Farm, and Damn You, SV!!!



Yesterday afternoon, Steve called me after he got home and said the furnace wasn't working. When he went downstairs to check, the wire nuts were blackened and melted to the wires. So he called the furnace guy, who came right out.

WELL - - we had a MAJOR problem.

The furnace guy couldn't figure out why the wires were so hot, and our light bulbs were burning so brightly, and our outside pole light was about twice as bright as it should have been. He asked if we had noticed - - well hell, we had lived there all of SIX DAYS when the ice storm hit, so NO, we had NOT noticed anything unusual, because we didn't know what was supposed to be USUAL!!

When he went to the circuit box to check the feed into the house, he found the problem - - we were getting 276 volts into the house! HELLOOOOOO - - that's THREE PHASE POWER, folks - - which is NOT the SINGLE PHASE that should be coming into a residential unit . . .

He told Steve we were lucky the house had not caught fire (damn!) and recommended the whole house breaker be pulled, which Steve did. He then called Ameren and reported the situation - - they said they would file the report and send someone out.

WELL - - 2 hours later I get home, and there has still been no sign of Ameren, so I called to check on the status. The call center said they had our report, but bumped us up to "Emergency Status - Dangerous Situation", and that they would send someone out.

Two hours later, still no Ameren.

SO - - I went out looking for someone from Ameren to talk to about the situation - - found a guy by the Jasper Street facility and talked with him. He called in to the call center, and yes, they had our report, and no, they did not know when someone would be sent out.


Just then, he saw a supervisor. He told me to head back home and get in out of the cold, and he was going to talk to the supervisor and try to plead our case.

Yeah, right. He just wanted to say something to appease the crazy woman who wouldn't leave him alone.

I was wrong.

Thirty minutes later, this same guy pulled up in to our driveway to tell us that he had talked to the supervisor, who was going to try to get a lineman out to our area as soon as he could manage it.

This guy came all the way out to our house just to tell us that! Definitely above and beyond in my book.

We sat up in front of the kerosene heater until Midnight. No Ameren.

SO - - we piled all the couch cushions on the floor by the heater, put on MANY layers of clothing, and tried to get some sleep - - even though it got down to SEVEN DEGREES that night.

Yes - - I said SEVEN DEGREES.

I got up the next morning and went into work, again getting cleaned up and ready in the locker room. Steve stayed home, waiting for Ameren.

They finally showed up at 11:00 a.m.

That's TWENTY HOURS after we reported the problem!

Sorry - - but I think that's a bit much. Especially since it was a problem THEY caused!

Once Ameren got there and the power was back on, Steve called the furnace guy back, who came back out within minutes. (A side note - - this furnace guy also called Steve early this morning, just to check up on us, because he was really worried about us. As far as we are concerned, NO ON ELSE will EVER touch our furnace but this guy - - from this day forward!)

Once the furnace was fixed, Steve went checking out the rest of the house looking for any other problems. He discovered one of our two freezers would not work - - the compressor has bene totally fried. It would cost as much to repair it as it would to replace it, so we will be heading to Lowe's this evening to get a new one.

Steve also discovere that our power strip surge protectors are all fried and need to be replaced. But this is actually a good thing, because that saved all our TV's and computers!

AmerenIP is gonna hear from me about all this - - and it ain't gonna be pretty . . .

I'm pissed!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Good News, Bad News . . .

First the bad news.

My dear friend Barb, whom I have known since I was 18, is gravely ill and in a Springfield hospital. She has had numerous health problems over the past few years, and unfortunately, it is only a matter of time now - - all they can do at this point is try to make her as comfortable as possible until it's over.

I got a call from one of Barb's daughters yesterday morning telling me about her Mom, and that she thought I might want to come to the hospital and see her to make my goodbye's. So after work, Steve and I headed to Springfield to see her.

Oh my God. That was rough.

Have you ever had to say goodbye to an old, dear friend? One who has known you from WAYYYYY back when? And who still loved you anyway?

Trust me, it's tough.

Her daughters have promised me that they will keep me posted. All I can do now is pray.

Now for the GOOD news . . .

We were coming down the road towards our house, and the first thing we saw was the outside pole light - - yes, the OUTSIDE POLE LIGHT IS ON!!!


Amazing how the good and the bad seem to balance each other out, isn't it?

It was so nice to sleep with HEAT last night, and get up this morning to a warm house and take a nice hot shower, and actually iron my clothes and put on make up and fix my hair in my own bathroom instead of a locker room!!!!

Isn't it funny how the little things mean so much?

Can't wait to get home tonight and fix supper - - I have the GREAT cooktop stove that I'm dying to experiment with - - now maybe I'll have the chance!

Monday, December 04, 2006


We have a VERY serious problem at home.

Last Thursday, Nov. 29th, a major ice storm hit the area. The last one that was this bad was in 1978.

The storm had been building up all day Thursday, and by the time 5:00 got here, things were a big mess. I had to literally chip out my Jeep in order to be able to see through the windows and drive home!

The drive home was nasty - - icy, slick, really treacherous. But I made it home and in to the garage okay.

I was in the process of fixing supper when the lights went out. I looked over towards Steve and said, "This can't be good."

I had no idea how true that statement was going to turn out to be.

We had no power all night. All night long we were awake, hearing crashing sounds as trees and branches fell all during the night. They were so loud! We were scared to death one was going to land on the roof and come through in to the house - - fortunately, none did!

Steve got up the next morning and went in to work, but I stayed home. Ethough I was not able to hear any news (no power for TV, and our battery operated radio was packed . . . SOME DAMN WHERE . . . *sigh*), I figured Campus would be closed.

I sat in the sunroom, all bundled up in layers and layers of clothing, boots, gloves, coat, and watched the storm as it got worse and worse. Steve kept calling and checking on the situation, and it just kept getting worse. He finally got off work at 1:00 and came home. We had no way of heating anything, so we were just basically "stuck" in the situation. Somehow we made it throught the rest of the day and went to bed all bundled up against the cold temperatures.

Our yard looks like a war zone - - HUGE tree limbs down, some split at the trunks. It is very apparent no one had taken care of these trees over the past few years . . . we really have our work cut out for us come springtime!

Saturday morning we went out in search of a battery operated radio, batteries, and anything else that might help us get through this ordeal. We were in Walmart when Steve's cell phone rang - - it was his Aunt and Uncle from Charleston. They had not been affected by the storm, and the Rural King there had 2 kerosene heaters left in stock. Did we want one?


They met us halfway and delived into our cold little hands a kerosene heater and jug of kerosene, which was very nice, since the kerosene lines in town were about 2-1/2 hours long!

On the way home, we stopped over by Lovington and checked with Steve's family's farmer, to see if he might have a generator. He did, and Steve's new tractor would run it just fine! So we loaded that up also and headed back to the old(COLD) homestead.

Once we got back, we spent the next couple of hours getting lines ran for the generator and getting the kerosene heater filled and ready to run. We were able to hook up lines for the furnace, the water pump, and the freezers for the generator. We were not able to run them all at the same time, but we could switch off. The first things we hooked up were the freezers, to save all the food we had. While we had that going, we huddled in front of the heater, which felt SO good and warm, and it was SO nice to have some light in the room! Then after a couple of hours, Steve unhooked the freezer and hooked up the furnace and well pump. Ah - - HEAT, even if it just was for a short time. We left it running long enough to take the chill off the house, then shut everything down for the night. We moved the heater into the bedroom to warm up that room before bedtime - - once it was warm, we shut it down and piled down for some sleep.

Sunday we went out by the other house to check it out. Fortunately, there was no damage, just lots of limbs and branches down in the yard. But all the hard work we had put in over the years, trimming, pruning, etc., has really paid off. Damage to the yard is minimal. However, the whole neighborhood out there looks like a war zone!

This morning, Steve got up early, moved the tractor and generator out, and hooked up the furnace and water. At least we can have it on long enough to shower and get ready for work . . .

SO - - that is where things stand for now. Not sure how long this situation is going to last, but there is such extreme damage throughout most of the state, it could definitely be awhile. At least I live close enough to work to go in early and steam out my work clothes in the locker room, fix my hair, and put on some makeup (don't want to scare the students!).

I can't wait for this ordeal to be over . . . .