Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Island

In my favorite news magazine, The Week, a New York Times reporter, David Carr, writes a piece for The Last Word, the end column of this magazine called "My Private Island". The Week is not a news digest. It gives aspects of the news as written by other reporters. One recent Last Word brilliantly summarized the current political situation. David Carr of the Times writes an insightful piece about spending six days on an island in the Bahamas. As you'd expect, there are learning lessons galore, like what happens when a person is no longer connected to the media stream, has to rely on a leaky row boat to travel to the closest store for supplies, creatively dreams up gourmet dinner fare with Doritos and rigs up a coffee filter from a paper towel.

I realized I've been living on my own private island for six years. If I walk east or south, I'll dead end in the Kickapoo river or sink in a muddy swamp in less ten minutes. Across the busy state highway is a pine tree forest that extends, again to a river and swamp barrier less than a mile down West River Road. Walking west following the old narrow gauge railroad berm that once served the sawmill for the bustling turn of the century town of Kickapoo Center, I'll again dead end at this same river. Only by jumping in my nine year old Chevy which recently went feet up in the air due to a digital clock on the radio recycling the time continuously for three days, can I escape. The constant drain on the battery served to freeze the electric locks, rimed the battery posts with white powder and to beat all-the engine compartment release stuck in the closed position. Oh wow.

I have a love/hate relationship with one link to the outside world, my brontosaurus computer. Because of the high cost of high speed Internet, I'm stuck with dial-up service. I frequently abandon any and all tasks that might glue me unnecessarily to this creaky office chair downloading updates. My wife Dawn finds bolts dropping from the underside of the chair at an alarming rate and one day I'll be in the middle of a sentence and...

The other day I found myself cackling like an idiot savant when I caught my goatee in the zipper of my winter coat. For fun I sing Christmas carols to the dog. Mandy finds my warbling as annoying as speaking Mandarin Chinese in a staccato voice. I decide that in the absence of a gym and workout center within a half hour radius, I pay my bills in person, justifying that the frequent in, up and out of my Chevy is a low metabolic fitness routine. Other than my wife, the two people I see most frequently are 70 and 85 years old respectively.

When I can get a word in edgewise with the head librarian who even hums while drinking coffee and the 70 year old assistant who can't hear a word you're saying unless she sees your lips moving, I look for excuses to leave before I'm assailed with yet another story about the local farm wife mauled by pigs, or finding someones Grandma lying on the floor of her apartment tangled in bedclothes unable to answer the door. The added description of Granny soiling herself not once but three times is enough to make me want to go home and make more wine.

The nearest town has a state of the art library, two corner bars, three restaurants and two emporiums with names that explain all: Cheapo Depot and Crazy Franks. I stopped going to one of the three restaurants for lunch when the $4.95 special was white bread, butter and a single slice of deli ham. The other two restaurants speak for themselves. The bank has established a new manager for the Yummy Tummy restaurant right next door to an established bistro where one enticement is to gossip about the fortyish waitress there who recently did hard time for her sixth DWI.

Pooch, the cat spends enough time next to me on the slab of wood that serves as a counter and table for all my office equipment that he asked me to put him on Facebook. Today's list of tasks involves trying to beat last night's menu of posole and red chili beans, making my own ricotta cheese, bottling black cherry wine which I've been using as a homemade barometer watching the level of water rise and fall in the homemade airlock in conjunction with the crappy weather. If I get really desperate, I'll chase cars by the red dogwood in the front field running along the highway berm with Mandy.

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