Thursday, March 24 2022

townships, bat poop, and diaper sunrise

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Thursday. I'm coming to you from lovely Madison, Wisconsin. Judging by the bleak, grey sky and the frost building up on my dining room windows, we're in the throws of second winter. We had to dig Rodney's winter coat out of the back of the closet before sending him off to school, and it felt like utter defeat. Personally, I'm just going to avoid going outside today and maybe I can fool myself into thinking it's still spring.

Maybe this colored drawing of a baby Anklosaurus will cure you of your winter blues? I had to google the spelling of Anklosaurus and look at a comparison photo before I sat down to write. Rodney is a stickler for dinosaur names, and when it comes to dinosaur facts he can even be a little combative. Last night, Rodney, Miles, and I were reading dinosaur facts from this month's issue of Highlights. "Experts believe the Apatosaurus whipped its tail on the ground to scare away predators," I droned.

"That's wrong," interrupted Rodney. "They stomped their feet."

Did they stomp their feet, or did they whip their tail? This is a debate between the dinosaur experts that work at Highlights and the dinosaur expert that lives in my house. I don't have a dog in this race - I think I'll just stay out of this one.

You know what I do to scare away predators? I drink coffee, like a civilized bipedal human. Pour one out for all the fallen Anklosaurus that stomped so we could run.

Sip. Just a regular journal entry today. We may be all wrapped up with the open house series, but house things definitely still weigh on my mind. As of now, there's a day in June where we're getting kicked out of our house, and we had better find a place to live before then.

Here's one of the maddening things about Chicagoland - townships. If you open up Google Maps and punch the words "Schaumburg" or "Hoffman Estates" or "Elk Grove" into the search bar, like we've done hundreds of times over the past week, you'll be presented with a wiggly, zig-zagging red line. There are even parts of the isolated parts of each town within other towns - a Palatine island in the middle of Schaumburg. A Hoffman Estates isthmus that sneaks through Streamwood. It's tough to search for houses for towns where the borders look like a skin rash.

But then I discovered the concept of a township. The townships which divide up cook county share the names of the towns, but the borders are straight. They form neat rectangles that divide up the rest of cook county. The township of Schaumburg is defined by a square formed from three Interestate highways and a major road.

Here's the part that's been driving me crazy. Even though your address may say "Schaumburg", you might be actually be in the Palatine or Hanover township. The distinction is important because if you want to build a fence, get pet licenses, pay taxes, or do city things, your township is the authority. So do the surrounding homes and business. In this way, the township kind of determines the "vibe" of the surrounding area.

Hoffman Estates is an extreme example, straddling four different townships. Hoffman Estates addresses make up the North West corner of Schaumburg township. Hoffman Estates also spreads North to Barrington, North East to Palatine, and South West to Hanover, and even if you never leave the Hoffman Estates postal addresses, these feel like completely different places. House search websites like Zillow and realator-dot-com let you search houses by postal address, but to know what town the house actually resides in takes some mental energy.

Having grown up in Chicagoland, you'd think I'd have ingested all this by now. But you don't care about these details when you're a kid. My responsibility only went as far as memorizing my address.

Having just moved himself, Scott and I often talk about house things in our 1-on-1's at work. He shared an interesting story about a new animal problem.

"I was finding what looked like rat droppings," he said. I gave him a worried look.

"But they weren't rat droppings!" he quickly added. "They were from bats. There's a website where you can compare pictures of poop from various animals, and the different between rat and bat was a little curl at the end."

Let's take a minute to appreciate that there's a website for comparing pictures of poop. Don't you love living in the future?

"I have spiders to thank for giving us the final clue," said Scott, sharing his screen to the call so he could mouse over a photo of the outside of his house. "There were spider webs along the brick, and we noticed that the poop was getting caught in the webs. The poop was falling, Alex. They had to be bats."

Scott waited until dusk, and he finally saw bats flying out of a widened crack under his roof. He has to pay a pest control expert to install a one-way tube, then seal the crack once all the bats had left.

In other news, I had a quiet work day. I'm beginning a new ticket duty shift. Marissa left me alone in a quiet house so she could take Ziggy to an agility class. She brought Rodney along, bribing him into good behavior with the promise of a mango smoothie from the Moka across the street. His final trial was helping Mom pack up the dog crates into the car. Would he be strong enough to carry the soft fabric across the treacherous parking lot?


He was strong enough. To emphasize his point, Marissa told me he carried it over his head all the way to the car, heroically grunting with every step. For his good work, Rodney earned himself a mango smoothie. Ziggy had a good training session too, so she got a pup-cup - not that she needed to earn it. Ziggy gets a treat from Moka just for being pretty.


It's almost time to start the work day, so I'll leave you with one final slice of Recker family life. Let me introduce you to the latest craze to sweep our house, Diaper Sunrise.