Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kent Meyers and "The Quietest Place in the Universe"

Congratulations to my fellow writer and long-time friend Kent Meyers, who teaches at Black Hills State University and has written several novels and other books. His essay, "The Quietest Place in the Universe," appears in the new issue of Harper's magazine. It's an amazing piece that wrestles with the complex issues of astrophysics and renders them poetic and compelling. Kudos Kent!


Kent Meyers (photo by Kent's wife Zindie Meyers)
My sense of Kent's writing goes as far back as seeing him reluctantly draw from the bottom of an office desk drawer his first publication--a poem in a book of poems collected by one of those "poetry contests" that profit from selling the collection to the proud recipients of letters of approval.  

I've seen Kent struggle through writing essays, stories, poems and trying to publish even romance stories of the sort you might read in Woman's Day.  But his persistence paid off, slowly, incrementally, until, suddenly, in 1998 and 1999, he had two books in print--The Witness of Combines, a collection of essays that he wrote over a period of 20 years or more, and The River Warren, a novel that describes horrific acts in a small town.  He hasn't looked back.  

Since then he has continued his writing and teaching career, winning awards and publishing consistently.  Congratulations to Kent.    

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Are You Saying, Dear?

I love this little film about how English sounds to people who don't speak English, or at least very little of it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Das Biblio-mat

Ja, so I saw something like this in a little coffee shop in Fargo, ND, one time.  This baby is a one-off awesome machine that dispenses wonders like Wunnerful Wunnerful, the autobiography of Lawrence Welk, that happening music man.  Two bucks!  The little one up in Fargo dispensed, for fifty cents, a little book of poetry from a made-over cigarette machine.  So how many poetry book-dispensing cigarette machines do you find in the world?  My guess--just not that many.  Nor many Biblio-Mats.

Monday, January 26, 2015

More Progress

With a day that seems taken out of March, with melting ice and snow running in the ditch and down the driveway, it seemed a good day to take another step toward renewal and restoration.  So I put the leash on the dog and tied up my laces and hit the road again.
Oh, it's not easy, not by a long shot.
As I jogged down the road splashing through the melt, I felt like the young me again, but it was the young me that was climbing the steep hill up by Verendrye Monument in Ft. Pierre, a steep paved road that rose from the town and climbed so that a runner, even a young runner like me, fit and light, felt my heart throb in my chest like a slowly bursting bomb.
That's how the start of my run felt today.
But it got better.  I didn't pick up the speed any way, but I kept going.  Three miles worth.  That's enough.  A good day.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

One Small Step

Okay, so today I committed once again to the running game, to getting some clothes sweaty with the effort of getting both feet off the ground at the same time, moving down the road at a steady pace.  I can feel the effect of that 2.7 miles on my quads, where the only work they've done is getting me up and down the stairs for the past two months.

I try to look forward, to look at the benefits of getting some miles in.  That's not easy when I think that I was in marathon shape just a short time ago and now I'm sporting some serious extra holiday baggage.  Looking back on that marathon, though, reminds me that all is possible.  My two companions--both first-timers--were fun to have on the journey, and they're both stronger having survived the long run.
Where was Andy?  Here's Dillon Dwyer and me at the start of a cool Twin Cities Marathon.  Andy Meyer also trained and ran with us, but we couldn't find him at the start!  

I'm confident, though, that I'll get there.  I'll be back at it.  My little Runkeeper app is a welcome companion in my efforts.

Today was a good day to get going again.  Warm, still, sunny.  Who could ask for more of South Dakota in mid-January?

Monday, January 12, 2015

House Project Progress

A colleague of mine mentioned that the photos of our nearly completed room look like a French New England mansion.  After taking some ribbing from his listeners for the odd combination, he insisted that the colors and finish of our dining room suddenly put the wife and me in some kind of elite "golden" status. See for yourselves.  We are just putting the final touches on it before we bring the furniture back in.
The wife and dog touching up paint. Compare this picture to the one below that shows the dark green trim and ornate wallpaper.  
Wallpaper, dark green paint, paneling, built-in plywood cabinets.  All gone.  

Still some paining to be done, but the corner looks a lot more inviting now than it did in the photo below.  
Those deep cabinets were good for storage, but they made the room and that passageway feel so small.  The doorway was like a little tunnel.  

Zoom in if you can and look at the floor in the corner to your right.  That seems to be an indication that there was once a doorway there as the fellow told us he remembered when his grandparents lived in the house.  Look below at my earlier post and you can see the outline of a former doorway.  

I found some cold air leaks that I was able to patch and make the room much warmer.  And that cold-air return?  A home-made remedy, courtesy of a 40 cent piece of expanded metal from the local metal recycler.  

We like it.  
Thanks go to our home's previous owners for saving so much woodwork and keeping the house in order.  They did a lot of work on the house themselves, and I hope they enjoy seeing the progress we make in turning it into our home. Thanks too go to DeLon Mork, whose gift of access to the old Mason's building in town gave us much of the woodwork and flooring that we used in the renovation of the room.

Monday, December 08, 2014

If It's December, This Must be Another House Project

We're working on the dining room, trying to get it up to speed.  We had taken the carpet out back in August and it's been a mess since then.  Now we're making a push to finish it up.  The floor in there was a nice maple, long covered by carpet and glue.  It's looking pretty good now, patched, stained, and finished.  I removed the false ceiling and fixed the holes in the plaster there.  I'm currently working on getting the east wall, long covered by wallpaper and paneling, into shape.

One of the improvements will be putting vintage mop boards and chair rails back into the room.  They are long gone, but it's clear they were part of an early version of the room.  We're interested in how the design of the room has changed.  In the first photo below, you can see outlines of where trim surrounded an old doorway, and the discolored panel to the right shows where there appears to have been another door.  But lath and plaster reveals that those changes were made LONG LONG ago.  

The wife is choosing colors to make it pop, and trim from the old Mason's building downtown Madison will surround the doorway and provide a new, vintage mop board.  It's going to be much nicer.

We are also refinishing the oak floor in the entry way.
The doorway from the kitchen to the dining room is opened up.  

Repairs needed on the east wall.  Cracks!  The chimney creates a little trouble.  

Once we took the carpet up, this glue hid the wood.  

Penny does NOT like the floor.  

Partway through sanding.  I had never used a big sander before.  

Sanding the edges.  

The completed floor, patched and stained.  I don't remember if this photo came before or after the final coats of poly.