Saturday, June 05, 2021

One small completion

 Many things in life to unfinished, from old needlepoint projects to old car restorations.  Search on Craigslist for "project" and you'll find a wide variety of items for sale that have been revealed to the owner to never be complete--cars, motorcycles, furniture, houses.  

I've had one such project in the back yard--one of many, but I'll tell about this one--waiting for completion and today, now finished.  It's not much, really, but after several early mornings of hard work and persistence, I'm able to call it complete.  

It's my wood pile.  I'll use much of it this winter, but for now, it's all cut, split, and stacked, drying this summer for when the cold comes on and I decide it's time to fire up the wood stove as a bulwark against the frigid wind and snow.  

Some of the wood was fairly new, even some only a few days since being gathered and dropped in the yard, but some of it--and this is the key--has been back there for years.  Many years.  I had been gathering and piling up logs in preparation for the cutting, splitting, stacking, but much time had passed for some of them.  As I was tipping up some of the stumps to be split, you could see that earthworms were beginning to get comfortable beneath the logs, and in some, colonies of ants had taken up homes and burrowed tunnels for themselves, scurrying from the newly split logs in frantic haste, many of them carrying precious eggs, hunting for a new place to nurture them into being. 

In the past, rabbits, squirrels, and even a woodchuck had taken up residence or shelter in my wood piles, and mice were frequently evident in the wood I brought in to the house, so that Penny, the dog, sniffed carefully at the fragrant firewood.  

But for now, there is a vast space in the back yard, where the tree limbs and trunks awaited my effort, and now, after hours beginning at 7am at over 70 degrees, and this afternoon, now at 98 degrees, I can call it finished, an impressive woodpile, nearly six feet high, six feet wide, and over 20 feet long.  Add that to the smaller woodpile left from last year, and I think I'm good to go for next winter.    

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Purge

 I have to say it.  It's not easy for me to get rid of crap that I've accumulated.  Once it gets into my brain-activated database, it's got anchors, and shucking it can require all the horsepower of a riverboat dredge.  

But it can happen, especially when you have more books than you have shelves for, so I've been giving away some serious books, some of which were specifically obtained to enhance my ability to teach my classes.  That's no longer an issue, so if it's a teaching book, it should go to a teacher.  And I've made progress, and shelf space is opening up.  

Still, I know people who are publishing books, and I want to be in on the ride.  Ted Kooser, for example, newly engaged in the Facebook world, has a new book out, A Suite of Moons, from Gibralter Press.  At $40, I probably won't spring for a copy right away (though that's for a signed copy).  Meanwhile, in a recent Facebook post and poem, Ted tells about his love for yard sales and his love for children's books.  Of which, apparently, he has a plenty.  

I've often thought of Mr. Kooser's poetry as a model for the kind of poem that I want to write, but I've got to NOT follow his example in terms of accumulating illustrated children's books.  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Dreaming of More than a Walk with Wildlife

 The little to report is evident.  You know what's happening around the world if you're paying attention, and if you're reading this, you're paying attention to a lot more than most folks, so it's worthwhile mentioning the state of the daffodils in our yard and the dwarf irises.  They're blooming, the bright yellow daffodils and the purple dwarfs.  

Tomorrow is my first grand-child's birthday, and she's turning nine.  She's a bright child, devoted to her mother and father, learning still to love her little brother and her cousin.  We'll pay her a visit and offer a gift for her birthday.  

In other news, we took a good walk in the sunshine with a friend before the wind came up and brought another couple of cool nights and days this week.  

And I got the plumbing on the Roadtrek camper fixed, I think, so the grey water tank won't leak like it was.  I hope--not at all.  And I helped my Georgia brother-in-law in his search for a camper equivalent to mine.  

The wife and I keep considering a place to go this summer.  Apparently, Iceland is so popular that plane tickets to REK are sold out until June, even with the lava flowing and the volcanoes erupting.  And the Canadian border is still closed.  But Colorado is open, and other states will take us if we jump in the van and hit the road.  

My brother JP is back from his Mexican land voyage.  I was tempted to board a plan and join him there for a day or two and ride back with him.  But not this time.  

Still, the time will come for traveling again.  And I'll take it.  Meanwhile, here's a reminder of a drive we took when we spent some time in Ireland.  (Not our video.)  

Friday, April 09, 2021

A Measure of Calm

Rain has come to South Dakota, leaving the ground wet and lush while bushes and grass and flowers and trees are pushing forth their buds and new shoots and blooms.  It's an explosion of green in Madison, with the snow only so recently gone.  

I've transplanted some lilac shoots from along the driveway back into the area behind the row of ancient lilacs that stand tall and bloom with gusto once the spring is fully under way.  I hope the new rains will keep the lilacs and other plants newly transplanted alive until they can sink their roots and fend for themselves.  

I'm watching too the trees I planted last fall when the Arbor Day trees came in and I managed to plant them before the snow came.  Whether those tiny sprigs will survive is anyone's guess, but they got more care than ones I usually got, including some chicken wire to protect them from deer and squirrels and other sapling-eating beasts.  

Speaking of beasts, it's been fun to see some relatively rare animals recently.  We've tracked down several eagle nests and seen some bald eagles, and a fox crossed our trail on the drive to Brookings.  And in the back yard, we saw a mink the other day, and a groundhog.  And deer and squirrels are regular visitors.  So we've got some company in our little patch of earth.  

I'm hoping to get some writing done today, and this little exercise has limbered up the keyboard.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Moving Day

    Yesterday was moving day for our friends Stacey and Andre, and I helped move their few belongings into a big beautiful new (to them) house on Egan Avenue, one certainly over a century old. It went pretty smoothly except for a box spring that didn't want to go up the stairs into the bedroom, but a little minor carpentry, furniture repair work on the box spring, it squeezed up the stairs and we put it back together in the bedroom. 
     I got good news on the Toyota Tacoma that I bought from Tammy after Steve died and left it sitting in the driveway. It had a very bad miss, and Travis at Roger's Service was not hopeful about what it might be, but it turned out to be a failed injector, which they were able to replace yesterday. So I'll sell the Ranger and the Jeep and we'll be back to having just two vehicles here over the winter. That's the way we like it. 
    The Tacoma comes with a nice topper, and I still have to put tires on it, since the ones that are on it are virtually bald.  People say that not not knowing how bald we used to be willing to drive on tires, but these are bald bald.  
    Yesterday also included a walk to Tammy's to pick up the Tacoma, driving the rig to Roger's, walking home.  Then moving assistance.  Then a trip to Sioux Falls and grocery shopping for us and Mom at Costco and HyVee.  Then picking up chicken tikki masala for us and the JordanBerry's at Shahi Palace, and a drive home.  Then supper, and then a visit to Mom and my brother Jim, visiting on his way to St. Louis.  
    So it continues with the COVID-19 situation.  Trying to find balance between life as we once knew it and staying safe, especially from those who call the whole thing a hoax, a way to sell a lot of masks and destroy the planet by throwing masks on the ground, where they stay because nobody wants to pick them up.  

Sunday, November 22, 2020


I got my notice today that my results were in, and it's good to see that COVID-19 test came back negative. The wife (who hasn't been notified yet) and I have been careful, masking and keeping distance, holing up in the house and avoiding traveling and unnecessary contact with other people. We have a few friends who also keep a tight leash on their activities, and it's good to have them to share and meet with, helping to keep us all sane. Yesterday Dale and I planted 10 trees at four different houses, trees I got from the Arbor Day Foundation. Here's our list: At our house, a white pine and a white flowering dogwood. At Dale's house, a pin oak and river birch. At Angela's house, a silver maple, a redbud, and a sugar maple. At my rental house, a red oak and a red maple. In 20 years, we'll be rocking some cool trees!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Virus Testing

We've stayed at home and avoided crowds for months now, but today we'll get in the car and drive across the street to the Baughman Park parking lot where vans are waiting to offer coronavirus testing. The wife and I are signed up, but we are assuming that our diligence will have paid off and we will get clean bills of health. Then, this afternoon, I'll pick my mother up at Bethel Lutheran Home and take her to an appointment at the clinic. Such a small world we live in today.