Monday, December 31, 2012

[The Life of Shaun #460] Good riddance

Not sure how 2012 went for everyone, but I know I won't be sad to see the backside of it.  A lot of good things happened this year, but not a moment felt carefree and happy; it's been dispiriting and exhausting and I am ready for it to be done.

But as hard as it's been, it'd've been endlessly harder without the friends and family who've reached out with kindness and caring.  And to all of you, thank you for that.

I hope you all have (or had, for my antipodes) a great New Year's Eve.  Fortunately, Russ is visiting and will be doing his darnedest to help me ring in a better 2013, or at least to drown out 2012.  

And with that, as my friend Alan put it: "Die, 2012, die! I will dance on your grave tonight."

Cheers,
Shaun

________________________________________________________________
Shaun H. Coley | At large in Naperville, IL | www.nocirc.org

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

[The Life of Shaun #459] Coley Christmas Chaos

Christmas with the Coley clan has been great; typical chaos has ensued, but somehow it all came together.  We were a little sad because Mom had three great days leading up to Christmas Eve day, but yesterday and today haven't been as good (but much, much better than the bad days before her good triad; we're never sure what each morning will bring).

Lara, Lisa, Alberto and Mihalis made a fantastic Christmas dinner, ham and turkey, myriad sides, and Aunt Judy made her famous sunshine cake.  I've realised Christmas Eve is the best  day of the year when you have small children as it's the only night they want to go to sleep early.  We closed out the night with plenty of peace and quiet, and several hands of cards.

So a very nice holiday here in the Western suburbs of Chicago.  Russ is coming out for the weekend and NYE (look out, Chicago!), so the festivities will continue!

Cheers,
Shaun



Me and my cousin Janine getting things started.



The Coleys (and a sneaky grand daughter...).



Mom's twin, Aunt Judy, and Mama.



The whole clan!



Me  smiling - someone must've just offered me wine!

________________________________________________________________
Shaun H. Coley | At large in Naperville, IL | www.nocirc.org

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

[The Life of Shaun #458] Aldwych

A couple of weeks ago, some friends and I embarked on what Richard called "the equivalent of going to Buckingham Palace for transport geeks": a tour of the disused Aldwych (nĂ© Strand) Station.  Aldwych was the Southern terminus of a short shuttle train that ran from Holborn to the Strand/Aldwych, and was the bastard stepchild of the planned tube routes and the ones that eventually emerged.  As this route can comfortably be walked in under ten minutes, it has always been more an expensive dedication to a plan than a useful transport link.

The station was in use until the mid-90s, when it retired and took on a more successful second career as a training centre, model for other station layout testing, and movie set (V for Vedetta amongst the recent examples).  The end came when a lift needed to be replaced and a £3m pricetag was attached to the project.  As the ridership was around 400 people/day at the time, the shutters were drawn on one of London's obscurest urban idiosyncrasies.

The six of us duly oohed and ahed at the disheveled station, the original wooden ticket booths, fading posters, sections of test tile; we chatted with other like-minded Londoners and tourists alike, all smiling and inexplicably happy in the way a kid is on Christmas day; we posed for pics, took pics for others; pontificated about the overground extension to Clapham completing the overground circular and other transport successes and follies -- and all the while it never escaped us that we'd each just spent £20 to look at a tube station.  Money well spent.

Cheers,
Shaun




An old tube map, showing the Aldwych appendage.



The lift that brought the demise.



Old tube posters.



My favourite of the old tube posters - I think people still haven't gotten the message, at least at Bank.




Appropriate.



Jim, me, Richard, James, Alexi and Javier in our glory.



Me surveying the older platform.



Way out.

________________________________________________________________
Shaun H. Coley | At large in Naperville, IL | www.nocirc.org

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

[The Life of Shaun #457] Return to Naperville

Advent has brought me back to the Midwest.  I've agreed an arrangement with my manager to work remotely from here for a while to be by Mom for the holidays and after, as needed.

I arrived on Tuesday, after a two-day layover in New York to renew my driver's license, to a much-deteriorated Mom than I left a month ago.  When I saw her last, she was thin and walked slowly, but was good overall.  She's now so weak she needs help any time she moves.  We're getting ready to relocate her to the main floor of the house so she won't have to go up and down stairs anymore.  But by far the worst thing is the pain.  The cancer has spread everywhere; Mom has tumours all over her body - arms, legs, buttocks - everywhere.  One in her arm is pressing on a nerve, which causes her terrible pain any time she moves her arm, so much she screams out sometimes.  We have to be so delicate with every move with her, the slightest pressure causes her agony.  It's like moving delicate glass.

We're working with the hospice doctor to find the right combination and rotation of methadone, morphine and ibuprofen to mitigate the pain; some days it works, other days, like today, it doesn't.  And that's been the hardest thing - seeing my Mom crying from pain and not being able to do anything about it.  It's so awful.

There was a thought that I would return to London at the start of January for a few weeks if Mom were doing well, and then come back here later.  But she's too bad already, so I will be staying here into the new year.  I have some friends who'll be visiting the area over the coming weeks, so have myriad punctuations in my schedule to look forward to and distract me.  And Trader Joe's are doing a roaring trade in red wine with the Coley family.

But despite all the negatives, of course I am so glad to be here.  Our family haven't done Christmas all together in I don't know how many years, and it's really nice to be here all together. Stressful, at times horrible, but mostly nice.

Cheers,
Shaun


________________________________________________________________
Shaun H. Coley | At large in Naperville, IL | www.nocirc.org

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