Monday, November 25, 2002

Esther and I attended our first Sierra Club meeting tonight at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockford. I read in the paper there would be a "Coffee Talk" presentation on the health of urban waterways. Turned out to be a video presentation on the Willow Creek watershed in Machesney Park, the same Willow Creek that is dammed to form Pierce Lake in Rock Cut State Park, and from which Frankie Drabek and I played along for many, many hours when I was a kid.

The video shows how downstream flooding has become even more of a problem in recent years as development increases in the creek's watershed area. As more homes and parking lots are created, less water is absorbed into the soil. One landowner along the creek said it should be straightened and have concrete embankments on all sides, like Loves Park Creek. There was this 10-year old boy who said the creek is his favorite place to play. There's a shot of him standing creek side with all his neighborhood friends, a pile of tires, concrete pilings and garbage in the creek behind them. Water can only go three places, into the air, the ground, or the stream. Interesting to see how man's meddling affects the flow. Erosion problems continue and downstream residents along the creek have flooded basements because of all the new roads and houses out in the country.

The look of the audience familiar to most of the ecological-minded venues I've attended. Women have either butchy hair or really long hair, sensible makeup, modest attire. Men professorial, many older, in their 50s, the bearded, bifocaled, Birkenstocked set. I saw two men with cross-like pendant necklaces. A couple hippie-looking young guys sat in the back, dreadlocks and army jackets. The presenter a stick figure woman who suffered from asthma and made little coughing noises every couple of sentences. But she's full of spunk. Wore a purple outfit. Talked about moving to a formerly condemned home along Willow Creek in 1965 with three small children after her husband died. Said the place was rat-infested and she's still working on it. I asked if she still lived there. She said Yes and asked me right in front of everybody if I'd come over there and help her renovate the place. She's the one that funded the video. A former school teacher in the Harlem School District, it is obvious that Willow Creek is not just a part of her property, but a integral part of her life.

Last night got three or four inches of snow. Today was very cold. Boom! Winter is here. Children were subdued and attentive at school today. I imagine they'll be holy terrors Wednesday, the day before a holiday. Watched a sad movie, "Boys Don't Cry," about a lesbian pretending to be a man in rural Nebraska who is killed at the end of the movie. It is based on a true story.

Made a good all vegetable dinner tonight of falafel patties, tossed salad, fried garlic squash with onions, and portabella mushrooms cooked in red wine, olive oil and worcestershire sauce. I was quite pleased at how those turned out. Just something I threw together. Esther and I both have wicked gas. I don't know what we got into. My stomach has been upset the fast couple days, hence the meat-free dinner. Nothing like fresh veggies, even garlic, to get the gastronomy back in order.

On Saturday, before we attended Clay and Valerie's wedding party we went to an engagement party for Tony and Lisa. Lisa is one of Esther's co-workers, and Esther was invited to be in her wedding. She is also black. We were the token whiteys at the party, but everybody had a good time. Tony seems like a good guy. He's worked for the Rockford School District as a food service driver for 20 years. Why I mentioned the party? The fixin's were real good. Tony's got a secret barbecue sauce for his ribs that is to die for. I was going to ask him what it was, but Lisa said he doesn't tell anybody, not even other family members.

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