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A little bit ago the e-mail was sent out notifying us that both my university and the university’s research institute (which I work for) will be closing at 1:30 this afternoon.  This is after I slipped, slid, and crawled my way into the office this morning (the only one of three secretaries to do so), and coincidentally will be right smack in the middle of when the heaviest snowfall is predicted to be.  And to be honest, I don’t really want to go home right now.  I made it here.  It’s cold outside.  And I packed my lunch and everything.  If I waited to go home at the normal time there’s a chance that the city crews might have had time to clear off the streets a little and the trip might not be so hazardous.

At the same time, man, it’s sure coming down out there.  If the trip here was rather, um, interesting this morning, it’s probably going to be worse the longer I wait to go home.  And there’s no guarantees that this is going to stop any time before six, and while I packed my lunch, I didn’t pack my dinner.  I have absolutely no interest in being snowed in here, even if it does have internet access.  Plus, there’s this cozy little chair tucked into the corner of my workroom that would be perfect for snuggling into with a mug of tea, some knitting, and an audiobook.  I could spend the afternoon there, knitting away while I watch the snow accumulate outside.

That sounds pretty nice.  Home, Jeeves!

Now that we’ve got the important decision making out of the way, we can move on to the news.  The Big Exciting Thing that happened this weekend was that on Saturday night the apartment building two doors down from me burned down.  I first found out about this at about 4am Sunday morning when Rosie knocked on my door, told me that the white apartments were burning, and did I want to go see?  I raised my head off my pillow and smelled the oddly sweet smoke that was thick in the room, heard the rumble of the fire trucks’ diesel engines under my windows, thought about it, felt my instinctive dislike of gawkers, and decided that this tragedy didn’t need me to witness it. And it really was a tragedy.  Although the apartments had been abandoned for some time, it was a beautiful building, full of gorgeous woodwork, hardwood floors, french doors, and interesting architectural details.  I’d been hoping that someone else who had the money would see the building, admire its potential, and rehab it to its former glory.  All that potential has now gone up in smoke.

The last I heard, we’re still not certain what caused the fire.  It’s a tossup between arson or squatters trying to get warm.  Personally, I’m leaning towards the former.  A blaze that goes up that fast and that hot (half of the building is just gone) argues the use of an accelerant, which means arson.  We’re deeply grateful to the firefighters who responded so quickly, and managed the fire so well that the apartment building next door (maybe three or four feet away) barely got singed, and my parents’ garage (maybe fifteen feet away across an alley) didn’t suffer either.  The fire took a long time to put out, too, and they worked for hours until it was totally safe.  They first arrived at about 4am, and were still pumping gallons of water from a crane down onto the still smoking rubble when I walked past on my way to pick up Boy-O for Mass at 9:30am.  The last firetruck didn’t pull away until late in the afternoon, maybe five o’clock.

The other exciting thing was, of course the Superbowl.  You’d think, in a family so non-sports oriented this wouldn’t be a big deal, but the Superbowl has always been something of a production for us.  I thinks it’s the combination of the Spectacle, plus that football was unfamiliar enough to seem slightly exotic, plus all your favorite forbidden snack/treat foods all at the same time.  Who can resist?  Jacob used to get really into the Superbowl, planning the food around the two teams playing.  The year that the Steelers played the Seahawks he convinced me to make lemon tarts which we were going to float little cookie star shapes for the Steelers helmets, while he and Indy tried to make meringue birds tinted Seahawks blue.  Neither of the desserts quite came out – my lemon custard didn’t set, so we had tart crust floated in lemon sauce, and the meringues got a little over-brown, which combined with the sea green tint in a rather… unfortunate way.  But you have to admit that it was delicious.

This year Indy, Boy-O, Rosie and I decided that we would make pizzas, and maybe chicken wings, and invite people to come to the Family Homestead.  That meant that on Saturday afternoon we ended up braving the elements to go grocery shopping.  This also meant that Boy-O was on a shopping expedition with a wealth of sisters available for harassing.  He almost didn’t know who to pick on first!  All of us came in for our share, from getting bumped with the shopping cart (“Oh!  I didn’t know you were there!”), to being tickled, or getting picked up physically in the aisles of Meijers.  At one point Boy-O realized that he couldn’t tickle me through my coat, so he started trying to get underneath it from behind.  I’m kind of used to this stuff, but I had to think, “Man, this must look really odd to everyone else in the store.” And, honestly, I kindof love it that my little brothers mess with me.  All the roughhousing is Boy-O’s way of showing affection, and he’s very careful never to go too far.  Based on the evidence from our shopping trip, I am well loved