Friday, September 29, 2006

No Sore Foot--Will Run for Shirt

Last year a sore foot kept me out of the Twin Cities Marathon, but this year, it seems well enough to allow me to at least attemp to survive the 26.2 mile ordeal. It starts at 8:00 at the Metrodome, winds around several lakes in Minneapolis, crosses the river into St. Paul, and finishes at the capitol. I'll be glad to come down the hill on Summit, past the cathedral, and to the finish line, where I plan to get my shirt and enjoy a banana, a glass of water, a cupcake, a cup of coffee, and a long nap. I may not get the long nap.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Blog on Health Related Topics

I'm having my students keep blogs as they do research, and I'm using a blog to guide and encourage them as they embark on a research project. It's here:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Festival of Books! Love, Ted

This weekend in SF provided lots of offerings for a book-lover, including an evening of poetry on Friday featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser and others. Saturday night gave us a panel of four authors and action-librarian Nancy Pearl, who shepherded Pete Dexter, Marilynne Robinson, J.A. Jance, and Joseph Marshall III through a discussion of the writing profession.
It was the South Dakota Festival of Books, the premier annual gathering of literary figures in South Dakota.
The evening sparked along with the mix of writers, with irreverent Dexter teasing the sedate Robinson, and Jance countering the high-minded discussion with more practical and market elements. One treat was when Pearl told a story about falling in love on the bus with Dexter's 1995 book, The Paperboy, realizing she was blushing and needed to read the book in the privacy of her home. Dexter took the opportunity to tease and flirt. It sparked me to buy his Paris Trout and have him sign it.
Friday's gathering was a bit more sedate, with poet Lee Ann Roripaugh leading a series of readings and discussions with Kooser, Bill Holm, Patrick Hicks, and Marilyn Chin. Holm generously used his time to feature a South Dakota poet, Leo Dangel, whose poem "Farming in a Lilac Shirt" prompted my purchase of his collected poems.
One treat was being joined by my friend Kent Meyers and his wife at the reception for Kooser and Robinson. One odd moment came Friday evening after the reading, when Kooser went to sign a copy of one of his books that I'd been given as a gift. The wife had already inscribed it, so he just added his "& Love, Ted." In all, the festival was just what I'd hoped for, only now it's over.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Seeking: Coordinator of Electronic Communications

As my friend and colleague Dan points out, our employer, Dakota State University, is looking for a Coordinator of Electronic Communications. Read the position announcement here and pass the word. We're looking for one good person.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Back on the Horse

Nearly a week's worth of events have happened in the last week, so it's time for something to be said about the past six days. Friday night some friends used up, and Saturday the bathroom floor, the basement stairs, and the back door landing utilized the time, and that night we partook in an event that I'd tried twenty five years ago to do and finally got it done.
Despite the nasty thunderstorms that came through the area, I took off down to SF where the wife and her mom spent the day shopping and met up at the Washington Pavillion to see a band I'd wanted to see but failed to for years, the Red Willow Band, the best in western swing. They were just what I'd wanted. From the opening strains of Kenny Putnam fiddling on "Tying the Knot" to the late rendition of "Very Old Friend," I was a happy listener. Two new fans of RWB joined us, only to be disappointed to learn that this band had disbanded more than twenty years ago. They've still got a good fan base in the area, as the very full Pavillion demonstrated, and Monday night the concert being filmed for SD Public TV sold out. Every few years they get together for a reunion concert or two, and they were invited to play at the Vietnam Memorial in Pierre this year.

On another note, we had great company the past few days from Waynesville, NC, CB and RB. They were our hosts last summer down there and we were happy to have them here if only for a couple of days. What gentle, wonderful people. C was able to join us briefly for my last discussion of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead here in Madison, where 28 people showed up.
Now it's Wednesday, our company is gone, and life is once again back to normal.

Maybe this weekend will be a bit more quiet.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Life Just Has a Way of Getting Busy

Let me take a deep breath and think a minute. So. Friday, the Dylan concert. Cool, great music. Saturday morning, a garage sale at our house. Saturday afternoon, garage sale cleanup. Saturday evening, another book talk, with the Gourmet Book Club in Howard, discussing Marilynne Robinson's Gilead again (first time was in Platte), with me on the hotseat since the pastor was there with actual knowledge and experience backing him. Sunday morning, the half marathon in Sioux Falls (1:46:something). Not bad, fifteen minutes faster than in the Black Hills this June. Sunday, then what? Breakfast at Perkins. Then come home, rest, relax. Happiness at seeing the pile of free stuff on our curb reduced to a sign that read "Free Stuff!" I don't think I even read the paper--wasteful, wasteful. Monday, KC's birthday, my first-ever Pilates class, where I was the only male. Tuesday? I think I missed Tuesday. Maybe I did some writing Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday? The high spot I think was Jeff Dittman's chicken cookout lunch at DSU, at least until we went to SF and found a new klik-klak (what some people--uneducated) might call a folding couch, and seeing "Little Miss Sunshine," what a gas. I also got a good run in Wednesday. Today, one good class, some paper grading, some preparation time, a meeting, going to the farmer's market and scoring some great eats, then unloading the klik-klak and moving it in (thanks, TQ), then fixing the mower at TQ's, then fixing the mower at MM's. Then home, where the wife fed me a great supper and we watched some of the new "Survivor" and then admired the new clean extra bedroom, thinking of company coming next week who will take over our bed for a couple of days. Yowza. How's a guy supposed to have a deep thought? Back to grading papers.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Taking Aim at 16

Today's my youngest's birthday; he's 16, ready to go to work, drive, and pretty much do the same stuff he's been doing--hanging out with friends and family, playing games, volunteering at the zoo, and going to school. Maybe he'll take up archery again, like he was into back when he was half the age he is now.
Happy Birthday, KC!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Smuggled Photos from Bob at the Birdcage

Yes, cameras were not allowed at the Dylan concert last night, but my little bitty camera fit nicely into my pocket and I only took two pictures, one of the three women I went with and one of Junior Brown in full swing. I've got the Sioux Falls Half Marathon tomorrow morning early, so I'll have to save my commentary for later. No flash--no pics of Bob or anyone else, but memories of good music, good weather, good times, and a full moon over it all.
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Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Musical Interlude--And a Song Up for Grabs

Don Record, who served as tentmaster for the visiting Great Plains Chautauqua this summer, left me with a CD and a song on it that he was working on. I asked if I could post it to H7, and he thought that was a dandy idea. It's a song he's trying to sell, and I think it has possibilities. Here it is: "By the Time the Evening's Over." Enjoy the song, and if you have suggestions, more interest, or just want to contact Don, he spends his other life at Northern Oklahoma College in Enid, OK.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Spotlight and an Eye on DSU

Much hard work has paid off as DSU has been named the “#1 Public comprehensive college in the Midwest," by U.S. News and World Report, beating out rival Southwest Minnesota State University, often ranked first. The article on our website is here.
A few years ago students took the opportunity when classes were cancelled to build snow people egaged in warm activities, but a new camera on campus might forestall any future attempts. Right now, it provides an attractive view of the central campus, newly remodeled with plants, sculptures, and sidewalks. Wave if you see me!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Guts, Grace, or Glück--Nobody Rides for Free

Who knows what hardships are on the minds of even the people closest to you? Sometimes friends and family will share the troubles they are facing, and you can choose to act or pray or console or hope or cross your fingers, whatever you choose to do to for people you care about in hard times. I know people facing heart surgery for their premature baby, people who have had family die recently, people with an ailing infant, people struggling with a troubled child, people watching a family member recover, people facing the prospect of difficult, life-changing decisions. And yet, for those who don't know, these same people put on faces to meet the world, going about their daily routines as though the world is a moving sidewalk for them, a piece of ripe fruit. What keeps them going? All of them are hoping for good things, but only some will get what they wish for, and there's nothing visible that helps us see what draws the line between those given the gifts they wish for, and those whose wishes are lost. They carry their burdens because that's what they have to do. My own experience? Some of both, both kinds of luck. I try to count the forms of good fortune that have come my way, keeping a good tally and being mindful, and I bow my head at the memory of losses, my own and others'. You know who you are.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ramona Reunion and the Do-Nothing Machine

Rensch and Wolf family members gathered in Ramona yesterday for a family reunion, all the product of my whirlwind aunt's efforts to bring people together in her home town. The wife and I appeared briefly, but it looked like everyone was having a good time. It's one of those days where I only exist as Rosemary's son. A few of my uncles and aunts were there along with mom, Sister1, and a few people I knew otherwise. Family information is forthcoming. I'm looking forward to some digital stories and pictures.
One odd item was Earl Rensch's "Do-Nothing Machine," which he bought many years ago, an item featured on the Gary Owen show, he says. A video is here. It's a complicated contraption with a zillion moving parts, clicking and whirring and spinning a marble in a circular tray. It smelled a lot like sewing machine oil, but it was fun to watch.
We also had a good evening with friends and their new babe.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Little Secrets for a Small Town

It’s been a pleasant last few days enjoying the surprise of seeing friends who bore the beam of joy with their little secret, a brief trip in their future, and some longed-for togetherness. We talked about the trials and tribulations of being a family and of the transitions they were going through, while we all enjoyed a dining-out experience. They talked about what they might do on the trip ahead of them, which they were anticipating with pleasure. They told a story of a recent incident that showed some of the strain they and their young people had been going through, but they had resolved everything satisfactorily and were looking forward to smoother roads ahead, since A. was spending a day with friends and BJ and SC could go to SF unattended and free. They thought a movie sounded good, maybe another chance to dine out. They had invited us over their table when we all realized we had come to the 2nd Street Diner for breakfast at the same time.

We were also out and about in town and ran into several people we knew, one of the joys of a small town, and we stopped by the house of other friends who were grandparents again, a bit of a surprise for them since it wasn’t due for some time.

We also got a chance to have a visit with TQ and LB on Thursday night and have a good time. So far, a good Labor Day weekend, no labor, except cooking up our eggplant beauty into a penne noodle dish for my wife, my mom, and my sister RC who didn’t even complain about my cooking.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mechanical Marvel: Peeler, Corer, Slicer

When fall rolls around the apples tumble down, and enterprising souls can gather them in and put away the taste of summer fruit for enjoyment in the dead of winter. Or, they can simply eat what they can while the fruit is good and hope for plentiful supplies at food stores when the snow flies.
Either way, peeling, coring, and slicing apples for an apple crisp takes a little work, unless you've got one of these mechanical miracles that will do it for you with a little elbow grease.
This unit I got at a garage sale this summer for a cool dollar, along with another one I gave to my sister. It works like a champ, as you see here. Chop up the spirals, add some ingredients, and you've got a crisp that will warm your cockles on a rainy fall evening like today. Luck? Maybe. That, and a keen eye for a deal and a father-in-law with a good fruit source.

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