Life in Kickapoo Center at the Turn of the Century
Ah, fer sure! Ain't life grand. The temperature on the garage thermometer reads eight below. The Pooch-o-meter reads ccold. I decide not to brave the elements and walk outside in sweats and felted slippers to fill the bird feeder. So I slip on my Pac boots, tuck in anything hanging out and walk to the garage to fill the old coffee can with Premium Cardinal mix from Nelson's Agri-Center. Juncos sit in the cast iron dish looking at the kitchen window forlornly. The Pooch is at the back door before I can dump remains from the coffee can into the squirrel-proof feeder in front of the kitchen window. In fifteen minutes he'll have forgotten how cold it is and meow at the door to be let outside.
At 4:45 am he comes upstairs. He'll walk on top of me. "Wake up", he says. Then I feel whiskers brushing my face. It's not my wife. He's licking my nose. The Pooch moves around several times before he decides to settle in for a nap. His butt is up against my face. The final insult: he starts sneezing. Hey I'm the one who's allergic here! At quarter to six, I'm fully awake. Time to pester my wife. The next thing I know, I've drifted off to sleep and the alarm is beeping. There's no Pooch on the floor or the bed. I walk downstairs. It's suspiciously quiet. Next thing I know, I'm being cat-attacked. The Pooch's version of counting coup is to run toward a person, grab a leg with both paws, hang on for the required dangerous two seconds before the person realizes they are being attacked, and then run away snickering. What? You've never heard a cat snicker? He repeats the stalking two more times, each time generates a clogged-up nasal chortle on my part. You shit you! I exclaim.
If I haven't regaled you with the true life adventures of Life With Poochie, I'll have to resort to firmer measures. One last thing. Attention Deficit Disorder Gatto is alternating between a forlorn meow, jumping up on the chair next to me and giving me that Aw come on Dad look and sprinting off to the deck door.
Previously, in Life in Kickapoo Center I explained how I got started in this business, long before blogs became fashionable. The picture I insert here is of an episode entitled, The Adventures of El Gatto and Don Diego De La Vega Del Alhambra De La Rosa. That's me at Halloween riding a tin horse in front of the furniture in Sedona I was employed for a period of 4 years.Yes, I have a penchant for pen names. I'll let you in on a secret. I intended to show the cover of another of my writings around the same time period I'm a Priest Not a Saint. Both the title and the drawing of a man standing on the surface of the water preaching to a crowd on the shore were stolen. I rejected My Thong is Humming because the picture of the wrinkled elderly woman on the cover is offensive to anyone over the age of 60. Clever Words bring Forth No Buttered Turnips has a great picture of my stuffed rattlesnake , but again, the title words are borrowed.
I need a segue to my life in school.
Ah, Bill Bryson to the rescue. In The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid he writes of his teachers:Miss Grumpy, Miss Lesbos, Miss Squat Little Fat Thing and the principal-Mrs.Unnaturally Enormous Bosom.
My introductory kindergarten experience in Catholic school was of a nun on each arm and leg carrying me bodily into the brick building on 77th street. I didn't like the seersucker pants I was forced to wear. After third grade, I was sentenced to 9 years at an exclusive private school in Milwaukee. Mrs. Enormous Bosom was the 4th in a succession of teachers in sixth grade. It's highly unlikely that Nelda Turznick is still alive after 50 years, but my memories of that year and the other teachers who left because of nervous breakdowns or mental infirmities are vivid enough to make me hesitate using their names. Nelda would move around the room like a prison guard, watching us carefully. Every so often her crossed arms folded underneath the enormous bosoms would boost them several inches, as if Maidenform constructed a faulty bra and she needed to readjust those puppies before they got loose and smothered us all.
In seventh grade there was the mandatory fingernail inspection. High school couldn't end fast enough for me. My math teacher was a tortured Marine in the Korean War. The shop teacher had only one leg. The music teacher and the comely blond gym teacher had a thing going. The music teacher's nose was long enough to hang laundry from it and was often red and runny.My classmates were the same 58 people I saw daily from fourth grade through senior high. To add insult to injury, after 5 years drinking my way through college, I became a teacher. Good God, no wonder I spend my mornings weaving my way through this mental abyss. What's the alternative, besides a bottle of scotch? Yesterday, for fun, I cleaned my office. Right now, the temperature in my workshop is 37 degrees. The wood stove needs filling, the breakfast dishes sit on the table. Today's list of fun: splitting black locust, finding the sled I use for hauling wood which is buried in snow on the south fence line or shucking dried corn hanging on a clothesline at the back door.
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