Lucky Icy Weekend At Home with Family!

Author's Note: I just ended another Silver Thaw Week as a Bus Operator in Portland, Oregon. While fellow ops throughout the world have endured worse, as have I in years past, this one was especially brutal. As the years pile on (11+ now post 50-years of age), my body reacts a bit more defiantly each time.

Three Brothers and my son

Luckily, my brothers and I planned our post Lil-Bro funeral reunion months ago. While I realized January is a risky month to plan visits, I hoped Mother Nature would cooperate. She did, to a point. My trip to (and from) PDX Airport went smoothly thanks to our weather nerds missing the mark by a full half-day. Traffic at rush hour was surrealistically light traffic-wise, with light rain in spots, no ice. It was great reuniting with my surviving brothers John and Bill. I eased onto the I-205 with once again, light traffic and typical winter weather. 

Settling the bros into their rooms, we ate a wonderfully-delectable chicken soup prepared by Beloved. She boiled down a chicken carcass the day before, which provided a rich broth into which the next day more chicken, veggies, meatballs and a decades-long recipe enveloped our warm home with an aroma one cannot adequately describe. It was this homey atmosphere which welcomed my dear brothers. We enjoyed a toast to our departed loved ones, mostly Lil Bro Dan'l. Then we feasted. Later, the elders retired outside to enjoy their cigars. While I once would have joined them in this, I simply sat with them as they puffed. It's been nearly four years since I smoked my last cigarette, so I decided against lighting up. 

The next day began Portland's 2024 Silver Thaw. A brittle East Wind sent a blanket of ice pellets to the ground. A brutally-cold air mass settled into the Willamette Valley with warmer air above, creating a 17-degree ice storm with single-digit wind chill. Like Dad would have, we layered up and ventured outdoors to walk three blocks to a local pub for to add to our collective chubs. After filling our pansas, we ventured another two icy blocks to a bar for to enjoy a few more warm toasts.

We were homebound pretty much their entire stay due to hazardous conditions. Luckily, my son drove his family to visit in their 4x4 Jeep and the "Gruncas" were able to meet our Mila Rose, who turns a year old this coming week. She was not wholly receptive to "old guys who resemble her Grampy", but warmed up enough to tolerate their presence. Mila even took a few wobbly steps to impress us all. Watching my brothers get down on the floor as to not intimidate her with their tall bodies was precious. At this level, she was more comfortable in their presence. 

Given a relatively-light road danger, we ventured out two nights to enjoy meals at pubs which bravely endured the weather to remain open. The meals were unfortunately riddled with phone gazing and little banter. I mourn the days when we spent more time picking on each other than gazing at screens. However, just having my brothers (and son and Beloved) there was comforting. We're all we have left, and I pray we're able to do so many times more before we Old Farts roam into the family history into which three of us have passed.

* * * * *

Getting back to driving a bus during a Portland Silver Thaw will have to wait until the next post. It took an hour to get this aging computer logged in/updated/awakened enough to put in my picks for the next signup. I'm high enough (top 25%) to basically get what I ask. Except for Chuck, my classmate and ONE above me in seniority who happens to love the Line I drive, I'm pretty much guaranteed to get what I want. Except, of course, when they change the runs each time as they often do. Chuck gets the juiciest runs and I get his leftovers. Lucky fuck, he reached into the hat when we were newbies selecting our pecking order and plucked out ONE number higher than I did. Oh well, that's transit seniority... you get what you do, it is what it is. I love him just the same as all my other brothers and sisters of the road.

More later. Meanwhile, I'm exhausted from riding hard chains all week. Vibration, noise and 25mph over 55 hours tend to send my body into spasms of pain. Even Scotch wasn't able to ease it. Time to sleep deeply on my back and without alarm. Ahh... Friday at last.

The aftermath, my Monday. Slip-slidin' away.