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Thursday, Oct. 7, 2004 01:18 am

Grace about town 10-7-04

Don, friendly though dead

I broke my toe. OK, I'm not 100 percent sure that it's broken. All I know is, it happened a couple weeks of ago, the pain hasn't abated, and attempting to run on it makes the pain worse. Walking isn't so great, either, especially if I get it into my head to walk a whole lot to make up for not running.

My mom, who has broken toes a number of times, kept saying, "Borrow my blue shoe, Grace." If you're fortunate enough to have never broken a toe, you may not be familiar with the blue shoe. It's a clunky, hideous blue monstrosity with Velcro straps that you wear to avoid putting pressure on the broken bone. By the way, there are 26 bones in each foot, and, together, the bones in your feet account for 25 percent of all the bones in your body. I read that in a magazine while on the StairMaster at the FitClub. (I've found that climbing stairs is an OK way of getting a little exercise while incapacitated.)

The only good thing about the Blue Shoe Fashion Nightmare is that the sole is very hard, enabling me to make a satisfyingly loud clump, clump, clump noise while shuffling around.

It seems that many people have broken toes. My friend Jeremy says he's broken every single one. I didn't ask him how he managed this feat, but I'm assuming he didn't break them all at once. Maybe he dropped a piano on them? I injured mine by smashing into the leg of an ottoman as hard as I could. That's the irony of being called Grace -- the only actual grace I possess is the name. If there's anything around to run into, I do. If spilling is called for, I'm all over it. Tripping? Count on me. I have big scars on both knees from falling while running -- not over rocky terrain, not down a steep mountain path, but running on perfectly smooth pavement. Toppled right over. Grace.

When attempting to learn how to ride a bike (it took me about 13 years to master it), I couldn't get up the driveway. The smallest bump in the world, couldn't have been more than an eighth of an inch, separated the driveway from the street. But every single time I tried, I fell over. First one knee bloodied, then the other. I think it's because I panicked at the thought of trying to get over the huge hump, which caused me to slow to a crawl, which resulted in the inevitable crashing.

Because I can't run right now, I'm trying other forms of exercise. I rode the Interurban Bike Trail to Chatham. It's a great trail. I'd gone running on the Wabash trail and loved the beautiful flower and vegetable gardens that people planted alongside it. Obviously many of the plantings are just for the people out on the trail to enjoy. What a thoughtful, generous thing to do. Thanks to all of you.

The Interurban is different. Trees line most of the path, and there are some great views of the fields. It's more like the Lost Bridge Trail, which starts at the Illinois Department of Transportation and goes to Rochester. We really do have some fine trails here, all worth walking, running, or cycling along.

Even though temporarily crippled, I managed to hobble around to a couple of things over the weekend. Saturday, I went to the Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show at the fairgrounds. I hadn't been to the show since I was a kid -- there were always cool rocks to look at, plus lots of buying opportunities for a girl, such as dollar grab bags and rock bracelets. I'm happy to report that the show is bigger and better than ever. The Illinois Building was brimming with dazzling rocks with huge, unpronounceable names -- I saw eudialytes from Canada, astrophyllites from Russia's Kola Peninsula, and charoite, which is found only in Russia.

You could buy almost all of the stuff on display. In addition to the rocks and gems, there was case after case of beautiful jewelry, from expensive necklaces fitted with precious stones to lots of kid-priced baubles and tchotchkes.

Sunday, I made it to the eighth annual "Echoes of Yesteryear" cemetery walk at Oak Ridge Cemetery. I'd never been on the walk, which is sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society, but I've always been fond of Oak Ridge, and it was a beautiful day to visit the grounds and listen to actors portray several of the folks buried there.

My friends Don and Linda Schneider told the stories of two interesting Springfieldians. Linda portrayed Maria Turney Warren, whose home, the Turney House, is at 924 S. Sixth Street. Don was Roland Diller, an early settler who owned Diller Drugs, which used to be on the eastern side of the downtown square.

Obviously many people have put a lot of effort into this event, from the coordinators, researchers, and writers to the actors. Luckily it wasn't pouring down rain, so the crowds were big, and a good time was had by all.

Meanwhile, if you see somebody clump, clump, clumping around downtown in a fashionable gigantic blue shoe, that would be me.


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