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2007-08-28 - 4:01 p.m.

I'm at a public library near my parents' house. It's mid-afternoon, and since school has just started, the only people here are as follows:

A gray-haired, retired man with a muscular build who's got a magazine open at his desk but who really has been filling in sudoku puzzles for the last two hours. Sometimes I hear him whispering, under his breath, "Nine!"

A white-haired lady, about eighty-five, and her sixty-five-year-old daughter. There was some kind of ladies' club meeting in the conference room here and these two ladies came out and sat in the upholstered chairs by the magazine racks. The older lady was fanning herself with a paperback. Her daughter asked her what she'd eaten for breakfast. The older lady had felt faint and had to come out and get some fresh air.

"Oh, let me see," the older lady said. "I know. A bowl of cereal. And a banana."

"Well, that sounds like a good start," the daughter said. "What about for lunch?"

"Lunch? I don't know. Let me see. Lunch?" the older lady said. "I know. I had a...a...I had a graham cracker with peanut butter on it."

"That's just not enough," the daughter said.

Maybe school's out now because there's a screaming kid over in the children's section who's just too old to be screaming like that.

I'm not really a nature-noticing kind of guy--though maybe I'd like to be--but this morning a blue jay woke me up with its call. I heard it for several minutes, the ka ka ka, but then I put my glasses on and looked to the dead dogwood tree in my parents' front yard and saw a blue jay fly away, a big guy with great stripes and colors. Makes me want to put out a feeder on their deck so my mom can maybe try out some bird watching when she gets back from the beach.

Class number two tomorrow. They've given me a great big office with a window. It belongs to a math professor who's on sabbatical in Vienna. He's got photos of his kids on his desk.

Altoona's the home of Sheetz convenience stores. There are probably ten of them in this town. It's crazy: they're everywhere. I checked out my little rental yesterday. The landlady has furnished it for me. She's very adamant that she hopes I like the place. I told her I did, that it would work just fine. I described the decoration style to my girlfriend yesterday as "classy K-Mart." She said she could picture it.

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