Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Beautiful Tuesday Morning

It's a beautiful spring morning in South Dakota, but over our heads hangs the threat of a winter storm that could dump more than a foot of snow on our area in the next couple of days.  Meanwhile, the water table beneath our house has risen so high that it's no longer fully beneath our house, but leaking in. 
While the sump pump purges much of the water, there's a lingering pool that needs its own special attention. 
And there's the pile of wood that still needs to be split and stacked.  And someone needs to fire up the lawn mowers to make sure that once the expected snow or rain arrives, we've got a way to mow the grass. 
At the same time, our new travel van, our little RV, what they call a class B, is waiting in the driveway for us to escape.  We need less water, less work, and less bad news.  I'm ready to hit the road.
Our new travel van awaits us.  
Meanwhile, every day there comes a new sign that the head of our government is an addled, angry head whose strategy is to do more than enough to keep his name at the top of the news feed, sometimes by figuratively lopping off the heads of the people around him. 

Sunday, February 03, 2019


Strange how events fall into place sometimes in a string of misfortunes, leaving us wondering why what we wanted is being denied to us.  Denial makes us feel smaller, less important, more trapped by circumstance and fate, and less able to move and enact the things we want for ourselves. 

It was a string of things, nothing very important, that piled on this weekend to make a person feel small.  We had plans--dinner and a concert, Fleetwood Mac, for crying out loud.  I watched a documentary on the group as I spent some time on the treadmill, and got a little work done before heading off to Sioux Falls to enjoy dinner before the concert.  We had reservations, which we knew was important because we'd been to the packed Crooked Pint once before another concert, and there was no way we'd get in early enough to eat and get to the concert. 

But the reservation was a bust.  We got there before our reservation time, but they told us they'd given our table away.  "We just got busy," she said.  Yup, just like before every other big concert.  So we stood for half an hour or more waiting for a table.  Their offer?  A free appetizer.  Poutine is good, but not that good. 

Fine, plenty of time.  So then we head over to the Sanford Arena and got in with 20 minutes to spare.  Except we had to stand in line for 45 minutes, and by the time we got to security the concert had already been going on for 20 minutes.  We could hear it, muffled through the walls and the floor, "Rhiannon," for one.  Finally, through security and on to the scans, where our tickets from StubHub would finally get us in, even though, by that time, we were getting a little annoyed. 

But the scanner bleeped a big red X, and the worker told us to go to the ticket office.  Another denial! 

At the box office, the woman there told me the same ticket had been scanned two hours before.  So there was that, a ripoff ticket from StubHub.  The woman offered me a ticket--there were tickets available--but the prospect of dropping another hundred bucks per ticket when the hundreds I'd already spent had just gone up in smoke, that didn't appeal to me. 

So we paused, had a seat, listened to another muffled song from that great band, and decided to mitigate our disappointment by having a beer.  It seemed only fitting that as we pulled up at Castaway's, across the street, the last few letters were dim, so we walked in under the Castaw and tried to spin ourselves back up from our denials. 

Today I reminded myself, as I cheered for the Rams to prevail over the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII (53 for you non-Romans), that disappointment is often self-inflicted.  It didn't really matter who won the game.  It didn't kill us to stand and chat while the folks at Crooked Pint tried to find us a table.  We've got the Fleetwood Mac albums at home. 

And StubHub is refunding what we spent on the tickets, with a discount on our next purchase. 

We had a fun drive down to Sioux Falls chatting with our friend, a nice meal, a chance to see some great music, and a safe drive home again.

And that Super Bowl?  We got to watch, cheer, chat, eat, and share the night with some good people.  Life is good. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Fortune Tells

Sometimes the fortune that appears in a cookie is the right one--a message from the random beyond that rings true to a thing occurring in the center of your self or your choices.  Such it was a while back as the wife and I were at a Chinese restaurant and I found the message above.  Sure, the message might fit a wide number of people, but don't we see ourselves in the things that happen around us?  So there I am, being messaged by fortune that the course of my life is true. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Some Kind of Journey

Somehow the wife and I got it in our heads that we needed a big van/little RV to head across the country, although we have traveled well in our little BMW convertible.  The above unit has, as I have told friends, everything that can go wrong with a house and everything that can go wrong with a car all wrapped up in the same package.  But I think we may have an adventure trying it out. 

We have cleaned it up and repaired some of the things that weren't quite right, and the wife is working hard to make sure we are comfy in it.  She has discovered many sources online that tell about improvements made to such vans--Roadtrek vans made in Canada.  Ours is a 1999 Dodge 3500 Ram (one ton) van with a 318 motor.  It's got a lot of miles on it, but Roger's Service here in Madison gives it a thumbs up for traveling.  It seems ready to go. 
Among the things we've done to improve it:

  • installed a new cd/radio with bluetooth so we can plug in a phone to listen to all kinds of stuff. 
  • removed the old monitor hanging over the back bed
  • installed new carpeting up front
  • installed new vinyl in the back end
  • washed and repaired all the curtains so they function properly
  • mounted new tires in the front
  • mounted the rear-view mirror (found in a drawer)
  • cleaned all the seats and fabric and surfaces inside
  • changed the oil and air and oil filters
So far we've taken one short trip to Yankton's Lewis and Clarke Recreation Area, and the two nights there in the van were perfectly fine.  We were the smallest RV in the park!  (Ours is a 19 foot machine; Roadtrek made 17 and 21 foot versions.)  We also have plans for some other work before we hit the road.  But once we do, it will be without need for any more work around the house!  All our concerns will be contained within the walls of the van. 

As we go, we'll see what it's like to live the RV life, with the option of heading into the boondocks and setting up camp with our own power and water supplies.  It might drive us crazy, but it might be a whole lot of fun. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dolphins in the Mirror

I love this story about dolphins demonstrating self-cognition, the ability to recognize themselves as themselves in a mirror.  Not many animals (besides humans) can do this, and watching them makes it clear that these young dolphins seem to enjoy seeing their own reflections in the mirror! 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Riding the Rollercoaster

There's the story of the cave, Plato's version of reality in which we're chained to the cave wall, watching the shadows of chairs, or, in some cases, the digital recreation of football players vying to gain points over opposing football players.  In the digital recreation of other people's lives, it's possible to view the digital recreation of the elevated heartbeat of a real human being.

Our hearts beat wildly for the players.  We breathe deep and should loudly in response to those remote views.  I like that our Vikings have won another game and get to play again next weekend, but we cheer for the men who wear the purple uniforms.  We get to know them, put our hopes in them and wish for the best.  But we know very little about them or what they stand for, what they represent.  They carry the flag of Minnesota, but most are not Minnesotans.  And I'm not a Minnesotan.  Most of the Minnesotans I know don't care all that much whether their football team wins or loses.

Still, it was a momentary joy to see the improbable come-from-behind win from a team that has taught us to watch in disappointment.  But not this weekend!   Skol!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Whitman and Dickinson Again

Today I get to talk again with a group of young people about a remarkable thing, a revolution in language that began to take place with the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson in the second half of the 19th century. 

Not many people get to do the same.  This is my job today, or at least part of it.  I spend fifty minutes with some young people and some poetry. 

A world is changing around us, with technology and culture and the environment, but the poems that these two figures managed to put together in their lifetimes will remain.  Whitman tells us that he sees us from his far vantage point.  Dickinson seems to see herself, and us, in a bog. 

In a time that seems to offer an option for every way of looking at the world, I appreciate the comfort of these two poets who recognized the changes in their own times and how an imagination can help us see a bigger picture.