Monday, October 10, 2022

Fall Colors

Happy Native American Day!
It's good to know that South Dakota is doing something right in regard to the fall celebration of Native People, unlike many of the other states that celebrate rather the arrival of Columbus to the continent.  Much more could be done for South Dakota Native peoples, which was in evidence as a friend and I drove out recently to Custer State Park's Buffalo Roundup.  One might comment on the place name changes that have occurred over time to eliminate some egregious choices--for example, Black Elk Peak, the highest in the Black Hills.  How about dumping Custer from the state park roster?  

But I'm thinking more of the abject poverty that still plagues the tribes.  Efforts to lift reservation communities from their struggles don't seem to be doing the trick.  It's still like a drive through an impoverished country when you approach, and then drive through, places like Pine Ridge.  We could do better, both as a nation and a state.   

Sunday, October 09, 2022

Packing the Days

 Yesterday was an example of the kind of days that have been rolling along this summer and into the fall.  One thing after another as I try to get a number of things taken care of and behind me.  The day began with some typical activities, not under any pressure, having some coffee and solving a few puzzles to keep brain fogginess at bay as the brain ages--sudoku, quiptoquip, mini-crossword, wordle.  Then I got on the treadmill and walked three miles, alternating this past week between running a bit and walking versus just walking.  It feels like things are going better and taking off some pounds I really don't need.  Shower.  

Then breakfast and off to the lumberyard to get some drywall to patch the hole I cut for the plumbing repair, which seems to be working just fine, thank you very much.  Then to the hardware store for new guts for the upstairs toilet, that seems to want to stay running after you flush it.  Both projects await.  

Then off to Winfred to help with the harvest, driving a grain cart for Joe and Gary as they reap the corn rewards of summer.  Meanwhile, plenty of messages rolling in from Casualene and others looking to help a family new to Madison and arrange for a refrigerator delivery since I had one to donate.  Other messages to arrange for help moving the fridge.  With harvest done for the day, off to Tom and Karen's to pick up a dolly to move the fridge (with a nice talk with Tom trying to ease more into easier living), then to Howard to get ready to move it, then John arrived to help (with a nice talk with John about random stuff) and off to Madison to deliver the appliance to a trailer court, where I was met by Casualene and her husband Ken and son Isaac.  Got the fridge in the dilapidated trailer as the family and some young missionaries watched.  

I hadn't been through that trailer court for years, and never often, and the state of things in some of the homes made me both cringe and feel gratitude that my own trailer court days are behind me.  There are those who seem to have so little that a dirty sagging trailer serves as a welcome refuge, and I was happy to know that my donation of a fridge I didn't need would make a difference for them.  

Then, finally home to the wife and supper and some pleasant viewing of Derry Girls, season 3, on Netflix.  

Tucked into all this are brief moments in the tractor jotting down some lines and tidbits inspired from harvest action and aimed at a little poetry.  Finally then, finishing my Roddy Doyle novel Love and off to dreamland.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

More plumbing

 Still more plumbing.  I haven't yet been able to identify where the plumbing leak is, and the plumber I called has not responded to a message on his machine.  So currently the upstairs bathroom is a mess, though the shower and sink are still functional.  Today I need to put the toilet back one way or another, whether there's a leak or not.  We've got company coming.  

My niece Tina and her toddler Violet will arrive in SD on Saturday and my sister Rita will pick them up from the airport.  They'll stay with us a couple of days and visit Mom, who has yet to meet her youngest great-grandchild.  She's looking forward to it.  

News today is of Putin's call for more conscripts to fight his losing battle in Ukraine.  News on that fight is front and center of my news consumption, and the uptick in rhetoric about the invasion sent another chill through me as I think about what it all might mean for the rest of the world.  It's a dangerous situation, with one man with a grudge and an ego to match feeling cornered and condemned by the West.  He's got a lot of power over what Russia does, but perhaps his latest gamble will undermine the support he has for his actions against Ukraine.  

So my plumbing problems are pretty small in comparison to the devastation happening in Ukraine, but I look forward to getting that situation resolved.  

Thursday, September 15, 2022

2022 is Slipping Away

 Tempus fugit.  That phrase has been running through my mind recently as the weather starts to change and summer chores turn to preparation for fall, then for winter.  I've always taken pride in taking care of business for myself, the chores that need to be done around the house and yard, the maintenance on the house, repairs and updates.  But recently there's been more than enough to go around.  

The summer began with a huge windstorm--the derecho that hit Madison in May and kept us busy with huge downed trees and damaged buildings, both at home and at the rental property.  Work on a flip house I bought in March ate up much of the summer.  Covid.  Drought.  Renters moving out, with the updates that come from that process, including painting the entire garage and the trim on the house.  Furnace troubles there.  Yard work.  

Most recently we discovered a leak in the plumbing in the upstairs bathroom.  Dealing with that problem is on the agenda for today.  The seeping water has been going on for some time, and it damaged the 220 volt line running out to the dryer in the back entry, requiring a new line, which I installed yesterday after the electrician that came said he got it working (he didn't).  His diagnosis was that the dryer was bad, so we went hunting for a dryer (and considered buying a washer/dryer set) until some friends offered their old dryer when they bought a new set.  But it was the line, and our dryer was fine.  It's all back together.  But the leak remains.  And we have an extra dryer sitting in the back yard.  

Meanwhile, the rental garage still isn't painted, the flip house awaits, and my visits to my mom in the nursing home have fallen off.  

Also--and maybe this weighs more on my mind than anything else--some of my family have cut me off from communication.  The past couple of days have seen some changes, though.  One brother and his son are in town to see Mom, but there's nothing from them and I suspect I won't see them.  Messages go unanswered.  Same with my daughter.  And another brother.  At the same time, another brother who has been simply out of touch for years called and we had a good talk.  Maybe that's the way these days.  It's easy to let go of people, I guess.  Maybe it always has been.  

But time goes on.  I'm not sure if it heals wounds.  

Thursday, December 30, 2021

A Second View

 When I began this blog, it was fun to expound on the world around me, near and far (mostly near), and I posted several times a week for a while.  I commented on everything from our garden to travel to food and drink.  And sometimes, rarely, politics.  2021 has passed with one commentary on finishing my wood pile, which has since once again become a mess, even though as winter has set in, my wood pile has begun to shrink once again, its summer preparation being fed into the maw of our hardy wood stove.  

I'm sure our new year will have many challenges and joys, but for now the year is ending quietly, with days growing slightly longer with each sunrise.  I look forward to what the new year will bring.  Some say that a good ritual is burning something from the old year to mark a new beginning.  I've got a pile of logs that will serve.  

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.