Saturday, November 29, 2008

we got a kitten, an orange one with a kind of smashed-in face, that snuffles a lot but is otherwise a frisky, energetic kitten. i'm sure it will be the big hit of the season, as kittens tend to liven things up a bit. we saved it; it got mauled by something or another, was taken to our vet, and we've been spending a lot of time at the vet lately. i guess my wife looked around, realized that she'd lost two female cats recently, and a female dog, was left in the house with four boy children, one grown boy husband, old boy dog, two old boy cats, no girls at all! anyway this little orange kitten, punkin, spoke to her. we'll call her punky i guess.

we got a whole week off, but it took me three days just to feel the pressure lighten up, and it's still pressing me a little on my shoulders when i wake up. i'm feeling in a vacation mode though, have let go of stuff piled up at the office. wednesday, drove down through chester, across the mississippi, and over to missouri to pick up my son, then on thursday drove up to peoria for thanksgiving and back today (friday)- a quick trip, done in time to pick up the kitten and the dog at the vet. one thinks of peoria as your average, usa city, surrounded by corn fields, big old illinois river running right through it, absolutely nothing special. but to me the very ordinaryness, centralness, mid-americaness of it makes it kind of special. it's right in the middle of illinois; it's also totally middle in population, bigger than most, but much smaller than chicago, for example. it's got a factory feeling to it even though many of the factories are gone. the drive there and back is cornfield all the way: nashville illinois, lebanon, springfield, use illinois, very flat and fertile. i think i took a nap for a while, but i'm not even sure, because the flat on-and-onness of it all was kind of like a nap anyway. but hey, it's a vacation, and i enjoyed it, i stopped worrying about classes and all that stuff, left it all behind. and there, right in the center of a peoria skyline, all big shiny buildings, was one called "dream center peoria" or some such thing, a surreal, modern reminder that even a skyline- really the only one i've seen in months, since i haven't even been to st. louis- is all in the eye of the beholder, what is a city anyway? i don't know, i was only there overnight.

chester was kind of the opposite- wooded, windy riverbluff roads, old houses, ancient hilly city streets with vacant storefronts, a prison that seemed to be tucked in against the city, the bluff, the bridge, & everything else. what's up with that? reminded me a little of old river towns i've known: dubuque iowa, pittsburgh pa, alton. missed the popeye statue and the downtown, but got a clear sense of the place, which i'll remember. the low bridge across the deep, dark & wide river- i pointed out to the son that he was crossing from a red state to a blue one- and he's going back the other way later today (sat.)- back out west, to kansas. as i get my breath, and get ready for one last pull before the big vacation.

got a calendar finished- kumakura pop art- based on these pictures which will soon move no doubt. unusually early for a calendar to be done, but i only did a small run of them, doing computer pop art for the first time...and i'm still looking at the results...should have them in the mail soon though. not much else produced, in the course of the year- as a writing teacher, i've stopped writing- and now do pop art and music more, writing less. but i'm ok with that, feeling creative, and getting somewhere; about to redo a book of crime stories, that actually numbered a dozen, that i printed last year, but never quite to my satisfaction. the question really is, do it professionally, or do it myself, only better? and, i've done virtually nothing, too busy.

leaving town a truck got in front of us and was hovering at 55; we drove behind him, but a red-tailed hawk cruised in and got in his draft, right next to us, enjoyed the free ride and showed a beautiful rusty belly and outstretched wing, for several seconds...but i was the only one that saw it; the boys were watching a movie, and my wife was driving. an odd moment, suspended in a truck's vacuum, beautiful but grim, flat illinois farmland on either side of us, a cold day; the bird was awesome though. thanksgiving is a time of mixed emotions, all kinds of turbulent feelings. give thanks, yes, but i do that, every minute, every day, pretty much. have faith- going into a winter, that you'll come out the other end, you'll see a spring, with everything blooming again. but most of all, hold one's breath for the long month ahead, a month of crass commercialism, long lines, stores crowded with people - we experienced this at the toronto road cracker barrel, just this side of springfield, a place so crowded with waiting shoppers, kids wanting to grab everything that shines- it'll be a long month, i suspect, but, yes, we do come out the other side. broke, as usual, but, around new years, it's really a holiday, about the only one we get, and, i'm thinking, maybe i can actually read, or do some writing, for a change. get in the holiday groove.

the turkey, stuffing, potatos & pies in peoria were fantastic. as it should be- it's a great holiday, placed as it is, so to speak, right before black friday. i focus on the taste, gain a few pounds, but relax- what else can you do? it's a busy world, and you have to take your pleasures when you can. it gets pretty crazy out there, before it's all over. and i wish you all safe, happy traveling, sober, & eyes wide open. it's a big country.


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