Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Back here at the Rockford Public Library, a full place in fluorescent-lit air-conditioned comfort, in the busiest part of the place, the second floor bank of Internet computers, where even the poorest chap can get on-line for for free for an hour a day.

Today is the second day in a row I've come here. Yesterday I spent my time reading and writing e-mails, and looking into trail-running tennis shoes to buy so I can wear them on my upcoming weeklong journey in the Boundary Waters. Well... that's still up in the air. I want to go back to the Border Route Trail, but doubt we could accomplish that and the Kekakabic in 8 days. The Border Route is 75-miles long, the Kek 50. Hmmm. It almost could be done. 100 miles a week is a fairly blistering pace, 75 miles respectable. The BRT ends at the Arrowhead Trail road. That might be the way to go.

As far as I know, the BRT crosses no roads. That kind of wilderness experience is hard to find. We contemplated doing a section of the River to River Trail in southern Illinois or a 60-mile segment of the North Country Trail in N. Wisconsin. Both have many road crossings and easy access to civilization.

I solved an easy mystery today... The library wanted to fine me $30 for ONE missing compact disc, an album by Ben Folds Five. I never got that album. When I checked it out from the library it had a Michelle Shocked CD in its sleeve instead. When I first found out about the fine I reported to the circulation manager exactly what happened, gave her my phone number, and told her to call me if she had any problems finding it. I did not hear from her for two weeks and yesterday when I tried to check out materials the fine was still there, so I left a phone message for the circulation manager, again telling my story and including all the details, including the Michelle Shocked substitution. She called me back this morning while I was in the shower and left a message saying she took the fine off my card, but could I please, please, please look around one more time for the Ben Folds Five CD. So I fulfilled her request. I rode my bike to the library, walked up the stairs to the third floor, and got the Michelle Shocked CD card, took it back down to the first floor and waited in line for the circulation clerk to help me. Right as she handed it to me the circulation manager came around the corner and I introduced myself and handed her the CD. "Oh, you found it," she said. "I found it here. It was in your stacks all along." "Oh, my." And I felt like playing it out like a smartass, castigating her for not solving this obvious mystery herself, but decided to refrain. She's perceptive enough to understand her own stupidity.

This week has been an enjoyable break from lawn mowing, thanks to the rain that has not fallen in over two weeks. One by one my customers call and say their lawn is brown and dry and not growing. Yesterday I busied myself with the library, grocery shopping (vegetables and fruit at 320 Store, other staples at Aldi) and installing a Japanese hanging paper lamp from the ceiling in the living room, which required me to drive to my parent's and borrow Dad's drill, and make another trip to Eagle for 40-watt lightbulbs. I also made dinner.

Afterwards we road our bikes to Marinelli Field for a Rockford Riverhawks game. Along the way we crossed the Morgan Street bridge and took a road behind the factories that ran closest to the river. A saw the Barber Colman factory for the first time from the back, and sunshine cast a checkered shadow as it shined through the entire building. The 'Hawks beat Kenosha, 12-2, and afterwards Esther spent about half an hour digging around the infield looking for a buried one-carat diamond. As we walked to our bikes, I heard a southern accent call out my name. He told me he was Kenny Mueller, from high school. It took me a couple minutes to figure out who he was. He told me he lives in Florida now and is attending the University of North Florida. I've had Florida a lot on my mind lately after reading the Orchid Thief, a book whose actions take place almost entirely in the Sunshine State. I complimented him on being somebody I don't remember ever calling me booger. We were both kind of picked on. He was very shy and he used to be fat. Now he looks pretty fit and spoke with a lilting gay southern accent, reminding me of D.B. Magee, my first journalism instructor at Rock Valley College.

My computer time is almost up... Gotta go before this is erased.

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