Archive for January, 2008

Observations of Small Town Living (OOSTL)

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Department Of Motor Vehicles – Just the phrase brings chills down the backs of anyone who has had to endure the experience (any experience involving the DMV) in big cities. Not here. Our mission: change our address on our driver’s licenses. You know we’ve been putting this off for months because, well, it’s the DMV. We first dropped off my car at the mechanic and with proof of our new address in hand (thank God we remembered that), we headed over to the dreaded DMV. It was packed. At least the place was fully staffed and every station was filled. With the exception of only ONE chair, there was standing room only today. We chose to stand in the line and began to wait. I realized that I should have brought food (and water and a sleeping bag) which they probably don’t allow here. We stood and watched people leave as the line just kept getting longer behind us. The guy in front of us failed his eye exam and the clerk was turning him away. When it was my turn the clerk handed me some forms to fill out. I stepped aside to get out of the way of the next person in line. And this is how our DMV adventure began. Sounds like just another normal DMV day, right? wrong.

Before I go on, I want to explain to the people here in Northern Idaho that as I clarify the above to the folks back in Illinois, I want you to see the things that they will be shocked by. So, I’m going to put a little code by the things that will shock them, the code looks like this (!). YOU (locals here) won’t be shocked because to you, this is “normal” and you really don’t get the point. In Illinois, anything with more than one (!) is nothing short of a miracle akin to Jesus rising from the dead. Trust me.

We dropped my car off for an oil change knowing that we’d be back just as they finished(!). Yes, one of the TWO chairs(!) in the waiting room was taken and the line in front of us consisted of 2 people(!). The two clerks were working hard(!) at the only two stations(!) in the joint. One clerk was explaining(!) to a man how, although he failed her eye exam, if he gets a note from his eye doctor for at least one eye to be 20/40 he can get his license(!). He told her the name of his eye doctor and she called the doctor’s office(!)(!)(!) and took care of an appointment for the guy right there(!) and sent him on his merry(!)(!) way. Jenny and I just looked at each other in amazement. While we waited, the line behind us grew to a total of ONE person(!). Before we knew it(!), it was Jenny’s turn. Seeing that we were doing the same thing, the clerk was happy(!)(!)(!) to take both of us at the same time(!). Jenny brought proof of our new address and the clerk said, “As long as you already have an Idaho driver’s license, we believe whatever you tell us.”(!)(!)(!) She handed us each a form consisting of a 3 x 5 card(!) that requested our name, address, phone, etc. I stepped aside and she called me back and said it will just take a minute(!) and that we should fill them out right there(!). As we wrote, she typed the new info into the system(!). Changing the address in the system took a few minutes(!) but cost us nothing(!). She explained(!) that if we ever want licenses with the new address printed on them, “just stop in(!) and pay $11(!)”. We were in and out in about 15 minutes(!)(!)(!). Just in time for lunch.

If this doesn’t make you believe in God and that Northern Idaho is a preview of heaven, nothing will. For you of so little faith, hell would be a cake-walk, you are destined to spend eternity in a DMV run by Jesse White.

Personal note to the folks back in Illinois: Two years after moving here and I still feel the same way about Jesse White. Satan is the head of Hell as Jesse White is the head of the Illinois DMV.

And then there were three

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

On Jan. 19, our sweet Ethel broke our hearts. After living with Jenny, Lucy, and me for several years in Streamwood, traveling across the country, and finally moving into the house we built for her and Lucy, we discovered that Ethel’s kidneys were failing. Kidney failure is fatal, although we did attempt to prolong her life and make her more comfortable with daily treatments. We are thankful that the treatments gave us a few more days with her. On the morning of January 19th we discovered that she’d had a very difficult night and that it was time to put her down and stop her suffering. Our hearts are broken as our family of four became a family of three. We look forward to springtime when we’ll spread her ashes on our property where she will be home, forever.


Observations of Small Town Living (OOSTL)

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Ethyl at hospital

Sadly, this is the last shot of Ethyl (the cute one sticking her head out of my coat) before her last treatment for kidney failure. I had Jenny take this shot mostly to show you what is behind Ethyl and myself. We are in the vet’s office which is actually a house that has been converted into a veterinary hospital. We are in the waiting room where there is a wood burning stove keeping the room toasty warm. Shortly before this was taken, Dr. Moody himself came out to adjust it and make sure it didn’t get too hot. You’d be hard pressed to find a wood burning stove or a fireplace back in the burbs of Chicago that is anything more than decoration. Here, they’re not just common place, for many of our friends, this is their homes main source of heat.

Observations of Small Town Living (OOSTL)

Thursday, January 17th, 2008
What does one do in the middle of nowhere on a cold winter night? Why, you gather at the community center to watch teams in costume compete in the local spell bee (and fund raiser). We didn’t stay to the end because we were off to the local theater to enjoy some bebop music. Yes, we are such the socialites.
spelling bee

Observations of Small Town Living (OOSTL)

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Did some research on our little town recently and wanted to compare it to Streamwood, IL, where we used to live.

Population – Cocolalla: 993 Streamwood: 35638

Land Area – 38 Sq. Miles Streamwood: 8 Sq. Miles

People per square mile – Cocolalla: 26 Streamwood: 4368

Housing units – Cocolalla: 485 Streamwood: 12063

Education, income, divorce rate, people living below poverty, diversity are worse in Cocolalla. All in all, we’ll stay.


Observations of Small Town Living (OOSTL)

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Chains Is Good! To move a fallen tree or  a bunch of trees you use a 4 wheel drive vehicle and some large-heavy chains. I’ve seen these chains in Illinois. My brother Ray used them in the towing business. But never before and never since. After learning how useful these chains were I couldn’t wait to go buy one. I’d convinced Jenny that we needed one for moving trees. She thought it was a waste but said fine.


Today’s observation comes from the experience of being a little more “self-reliant” out here in nowhere. Calling the fire department would require us to wait at least 25 minutes before the first truck could arrive. Calling a tow truck, good luck. I’ve pulled my ATV out of the snow a half a dozen times already. Yesterday, Jenny misjudged the turn out of our driveway and got her car stuck in a snow bank. She said she was “wiping the fog from the window and couldn’t see”, sure. In Illinois, you call a friend or neighbor to dig you out. Here, it’s a little difficult to call a neighbor who’s a quarter of a mile down the road. But with Gritz (my car) and my new chain we had her out in a jiffy. I didn’t even have to cuss. Saved about $50 in towing costs too. Which just so happens to be enough money to pay for another chain and have money to spare! I can’t wait to tell Jenny.