Saturday, January 11, 2003

Bright blue sky cold January lazy Saturday. My feet are cold as I sit in curbside castoff chair and look out onto bright blue sky and brick across the street on this Saturday afternoon. I would like to take a walk this afternoon and work on short story about Hog Greer, my lovelorn Appalachian Trail historical story character. Thinking about May and Trail Days and how it's coming up right quick, and looking to write at least three more short stories to include in novella or chapbook or whatever the hell I'll call it. And give it away or sell at Trail Daze this year. May also set up a kiosk for the Ice Age Trail, seeing as Florida Trail folks came out, and Continental Divide Trail people as well. Gotta have representation from all the National Scenic Trails.

Last night had my parents over and the beer can chicken was a success even though free range bird, as predicted, is a little tougher than factory bird. But at least free range bird saw light of day and is not pumped full of steroids and antibiotics and lived out its short days in the Rock River Valley, being raised on a Janesville farm. At least that's what the sticker on its carcass said. Free range bird costs nearly twice as much per pound as factory. But there's a market for it. Lots of things being labeled "organic," as a trip to Rockford's 320 store reveals. I normally don't buy organic, but I thought about all the insidious hidden effex of inorganica upon the human drama, like the 9,000 percent increase in autism and asthma rates over the last ten years. The next ten years will see sharp increases in B diseases. Free range bird was a little dry after two hours indirect cooking on the grill. The skin was so smoky and carcinogenic as to be inedible. But the smoky mesquite taste so redolent in the meat I closed my eyes on a biteful and imagined myself back in Arizona up on the strand in cable land surrounded by forests of the stunty, gnarly-limbed, red-dirt mesquite. I encouraged Dad to drink his Sam Adams in a glass. I had heard beer tastes better in a glass, and wondered why, something to do with carbonation? I conclude, without any perusal of scientific data, but conducting field tests of my own, that beer in a glass tastes better than in a bottle or can because you engage the sense of smell into the process...

Grilled pears went over well. And the baked potatoes resting on the coals were cooked just the right amount of time, except for Esther's, which got burnt. Antigo potatoes and memories of sports editor days as I washed the Antigo Silt Loam Wisconsin State Soil down the strain in preparation process. And Mom asked me if I washed the potatoes before wrapping them. Duh. They were covered in dirt, um, sorry, silt loam. And I'm back in the Antigo flats, looking to the hills beyond, the land of kettle bowls and forests and deer and hidden lakes with pine-stunted islands. God's country, indeed. Drunk editors and Sunday dinners.

We got to talking about school days last night and Dad said he attended elementary school at Montague School and how they had separate entrances for boys and girls, and how the school was built in 1885. Dad said a janitor once gave him a tour of the basement, and they used to hold classes down there, and desks still remained, wooden and iron, with filigrees and inkwells, worn oak seats, collectors items today. And on cold winter days they would let the children sit on the steps just inside the entrance, near an accordion steam heater. Dad said the teacher's demanded silence, and if you were caught talking they'd send you out in the cold. The old school was torn down and replaced by Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, a modern 60s-looking soul-less concrete box. It, like Kishwaukee Elementary School, is surrounded by squalor in southwest Rockford.

I'm trying to teach the older kids in grades 3-5 basketball. I had them do dribbling, passing and shooting drills, and explained to them the various positions on a five-member basketball team, but am quickly running out of drills for them to do. So I looked online last night and found a lot of education major's papers on basketball teaching programs, but all of them seemed hoaky (show a video of basketball footage, and at the end come in wearing a globetrotters costume and show them some moves). I'll keep looking. My goal is to set up teams in each class and referee them in mini-tournaments. It seems I'm going to be at this job awhile, so may as well put effort into some long-term goals. I've got the older kids playing some rock and roll kickball. I would also like to incorporate aerobics into some of the younger classes. They seem to enjoy the five minutes of group exercise I have them do at the start of class. I feel so lucky. The children look forward to coming to PE. I must be doing my job right.

It is now 2 p.m. Must get on with my day. A walk and Hog Greer are calling...

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