Sunday, November 17, 2013

a back door blew open over the weekend, and a couple of cats, one of whom is quite skittish, walked right out the door. the orange one, smashing pumpkin (or the Punks) really gets treated much better indoors, and only has one eye anyway, so she came back in. but the black one, Edgar, headed straight under the house, where there's about a two-foot overhang crawlspace that reminds him of where he grew up. thus began a tense standoff. he doesn't want to come out. we blocked in the place so as to keep the foxes away from him, and to get him back. he wants to hang out down there in the cool dark crawlspace as long as he can. he considers it a return to his childhood.

tornados raked through peoria, brookport, nashville, virtually all of illinois. the grandchildren are actually about thirty miles west of peoria, while the tornados hit about ten miles east, but it was too close for comfort. a son is about fifty miles from brookport, another grandchild about thirty. the farther we are away, the scarier it is. we feel a little outside of the tornado district, although our town got a big one in maybe 1970. big thing is, they seem to be getting worse, more common, more disastrous, more extreme. illinois had what, fifty of them? in november?

down here it's the heart of football season; everyone looks forward to thanksgiving, which is a huge football orgy. combining football with turkey is basically a very gendered experience, the men go off in one room, which generally has the alcohol, etc. it doesn't seem quite right to me, but i'm not from around here. i remember what, twenty years of cowboys-redskins, or cowboys-washington to be politically correct, but i can't imagine frying a turkey in the cowboy stadium parking lot because that's the ultimate tailgating experience. and how did texas tech get caught up in this, playing in austin thanksgiving at a time that, of course, fits around the cowboys just right? well apparently there was an a & m/longhorn game for many years, but a & m bailed, and now it's just us and the longhorns, and the turkey and the parking lot. our parking lot will be down in austin this year, i guess.

feelings ran high right around the baylor game, because we thought we could win, and we had our favorite quarterback back from an injury, and he runs and throws and especially inspires, and in the grocery store i saw this family hanging around watching the game on the grocery store television, and tech was tying it up, so i said, maybe we'll win, and the young girl says, that would be awesome...but maybe i wasn't sincere enough, or maybe i should have hung around and watched some more, because from then on, it was all baylor, and they crushed us. this game was in cowboy stadium, home of the enormous wide-screen hundred-foot television, and probably the high point in the careers of the tech players who now once get to play in the palace.

the animals are now way excited, tearing around the house, shooting out the back door every time someone opens it. they know there's a hostage situation just under the back closet, they know and can even hear their brother edgar, who probably won't be lost, he'll probably pop out when he's hungry or thirsty, god knows we try at least three or four times a day. we don't want him wandering off, there are too many foxes and other strays in the neighborhood. it's kind of the totally local version of the city scene, where you have these red and blue lights, and lots of noise, and everyone's tense. here it's like, we're all around the back of the house, trying to get this cat out from under the house overhang, and just down that little space between house and fence, you have this little tree that has turned bright orange. but aside from that it's just us. we're going, "here kitty kitty" and we have tuna, but he's like, no dice. not budging.

way down at the southern edge of illinois, where the interstate shot across the ohio river to paducah, was this town of metropolis, which had this old statue of superman in its downtown, right there by the courthouse, and a couple of superman gift shops. the town had been taken over, more or less, by a casino boat, once casino boats became legal, so this big fancy boat would be sitting there in the ohio river, and you could kind of tell that that boat had most of the jobs in the county, it was kind of a depressed place. one sunday morning we went in to see the statue, and about the only people we saw were coming and going from the county jail right there in courthouse square, somebody had been arrested over the weekend, and they were bailing them out, maybe. right off that interstate was the town of brookport. this town had a much older bridge, also across the ohio, and it had a bunch of trailers and was actually a little livelier. this was where the road took off that followed the river all the way down along to cave-in-rock, so we had to know how to get down through that town to get out and really see the rest of illinois down by the river there. that's the town that just got flattened. why a tornado would pick out a town like that, who knows, it's all pretty flat. would it go across the river? flatten the casino? who knows.

some of the texans i've met have only a vague sense of the world outside of texas, such things as hurricane sandy, or this or that tornado don't mean much to them. when i say i'm from illinois, they figure that illinois should be doing ok, because obama is from there, surely he takes care of his own, same way george did for them. those are the ones who know illinois from, say, iowa. my son's teacher said she was up in oak park, and was surprised that any place could be 90% democrat, but some lady at her son's party got a little tipsy and asked her if everyone in texas was dumb enough to elect someone like george. it really made her mad. sure, she said, we're conservative, there's no secret about that. but we aren't dumb.

you hear stories like that, because people are real friendly, and they like trading notes. they want to know how i like texas, and i always tell them, people are really nice here, unbelievably nice. i told this woman, i don't live my life for politics, i'm not going to dislike this place because it has opposite politics from mine. in fact i was a little too radical for illinois or iowa, too. i've been to a lot of these states, and i know, a tornado can hit one just as good as another. we're all out here kind of treading water in a steadily boiling pot, it's no wonder people are popping off at this tsa or another, or having another standoff, where all the dogs get called out, and you got your red and blue lights, all over the neighborhood.

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