Jun 13

Buy 2 get one free

Sometime in the 1960s I am sitting in front of the black and white TV in our home in Penn Square Village and on comes this commercial for a new type of pen. A ball point pen. You don’t buy new ink cartridges for it when it needs refilling. You just throw it away. Part of our new disposable society. The quarterback says to his fellow players: “OK boys, here’s the play; buy two Bic Clic pens; get one free.”  

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May 11

The Rocking

SUNDAY WE ALL LOADED into AF2 and headed for the hills. I should explain that AF2 is our designation for black 1998 Volvo station wagon number 2. Air Force One (for the original black 1998 Volvo Station Wagon) and Air Force Two (for the “new” 1998 black Volvo Station Wagon with AWD).

Sunday we all loaded into AF2 and headed for the hills in the area of Centenniel, Wyoming, to hunt rocks. Not valuable rocks. Not rock climbing. Rocks. Big rocks that I can add to the rock garden that has been expanding steadily around our building like creeping charlie.     Continue reading →

Jan 11

It coulda happened to anybody …

YEARS AGO SOME FRIENDS in Lewiston, Idaho, experienced a bizarre incident involving two neighbors. Two kids were playing. One got hold of a loaded gun and shot the other. The child was seriously injured but not killed. The parents of the injured child were empathetic with the parents of the shooter: “It coulda happened to anybody,” they said. Our friends sold their home and moved to another part of town.

In the aftermath of the Rep. Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt the governor of Arizona is describing it as a tragedy. As though nothing could have been done to prevent it. Her solution in answer to a question? Increased security. We listened to the Mayor of Tucson, the President of the United States, the President of Arizona State University, and the Tucson chief of police. To all of these people what happened in that Safeway Store parking lot was a tragedy. There was no mention — NOT ONE — about the fact that something other than a single-shot rifle must have been used to wreak this amount of havoc in so short amount of time. Continue reading →

Sep 08

All the time

FROM OUR ONE-BEDROOM APARTMENT we peer northwest at a sun moving daily southward. Under a rising invisible new moon the lights of Belgrade (Montana) twinkle like Atlantic City seen from the northern end of the Ocean City boardwalk. Layers of cold air settle in from the mountains, no longer held back by the day. The sky goes from blue to orange and green to jet black. Our windows are open and the chill air infiltrates our living room. I feel it flowing over my left elbow but it is deflected somewhat by what is left of this warm late September day.

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Jan 08

Cabin fever dog

THE SUN IS SHINING. IT’S WARM (29 degrees). The dog is definitely suffering from cabin fever as she has gotten “very bad” lately. Australian Shepherds are, as you know, very intelligent. If they become bored, Continue reading →

Apr 06

What’s happening to me

One day I wake up. I walk to the window. Open it and allow the outside air to enter my bedroom. I put on shorts. I walk outside. Birds are chirping more loudly than usual. A pair of cardinals are scouting real estate. We keep our dog out of the front yard in the hope they will choose our giant pine tree. My son starts riding his bicycle. My daughter wants to know where she can find her special electric razor so she can shave her legs. And the city has posted our street no parking. The semi-annual curb-to-curb street cleaning. Oh, yeah, and did I mention Daylight Savings Time? The 15 inches of snow that was on the ground yesterday has disappeared into greening grass. But trees and shrubs. No signs yet. This is Minnesota. They’re expecting snow in International Falls. For sure everyone in the state has removed their ice houses from the lakes. And so I ask. What happened to winter? How can it go away so suddenly. So completely. I’m having trouble adjusting to all of this. I worry that winter is cued up waiting to leap upon us like a hungry tiger. It’s a plot. The City of St. Paul is trying to lull us into believing the worst is over. That tanker in the photo might as well be a Zamboni machine. WINTER WILL RETURN! I can stop it only by moving to Florida or Arizona.

It always takes awhile for these fears to abate. For me to forget what it’s like to be watching the sun set in the southwest instead of the northwest. Spring is here to sucker us in yet again. And we will buy the whole tamale. Summer is coming. Warm days. Swimming pools. Walks in mosquito infested forests. Camping. For awhile I resist the notion of giving into it all. After all, the idea of warm weather. Summer breezes. This is Minnesota! It’s just unnatural.

Feb 06

Prairie sunset

FROM MY SECOND FLOOR OFFICE on the back of my home in St. Paul I can see most of the sun’s trajectory from shortly after sunrise until the last glow in the west that I can see as I am writing here at 5:54 p.m. on a winter’s day. The green sky yields to shades of tan and red and slowly the shadows beneath the horizon rise up to claim my Sunday afternoon. I have started writing this post forgetting that my most recent contribution had to do with the movements of the sun and the earth as well. But that earlier described sunset was in September. We are at this moment at the height of a Minnesota winter. In this quiet time I have more appreciation for the sunsets. I can see them better because I can see through the trees that crowd around my perch, the view likened to that enjoyed from a very sophisticated tree house.

Here in the city the golden light from an alley streetlight introduces itself as a new focal point. The sky fades in response to an invisible cue from an invisible stage manager. But no drama issues forth. The bell on the Lutheran Church behind me a long block tolls the dinner hour. The green sky turns a deep blue and the tan a dull red on its way to brown and darkness.

There is nothing like a winter sunset. The cold forces open the sky and allows us to see crystal clear. The city has temporarily lowered its usual lumber and din. No sound of jet planes approaching the airport southwest of here. A muffled, tentative, automobile passes below but it is not followed by another. The night falls but leaves a trace of the day that has passed us. Done with us and now on to Montana, California and Hawaii.