Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Welcome to February, Humans

 It's the last day to submit poetry to the spring issue Pasque Petals, which is the publication of the South Dakota State Poetry Society, and for which I am the editor for the fall issue.  So, naturally, it's time for me to submit some poems.  

Who knows why a person like me, procrastinator extraordinaire, waits through the months and weeks until he comes to the very edge of failure, to finally act?  

Who can say?  Some of us hold on to the idea of possibility as long as we can, releasing it only at the last minute, when actuality is required.  


Monday, January 30, 2023

A Purge

 The wife and I near the end of another successful purge of material items from our home, 496 items, one for every numbered day in the month of January.  One item for the first day, two for the next, and so on through the month.  And they're not trivial items, including some books that were easy to hang on to, hand made ceramics, and irreplaceable souvenirs from trips.  

Have we used the item recently?   Do we need it?  Do we love it?  Most material things, things we keep in the house and ignore for sometimes years, are only burdens, weights on a sense of freedom.  They're things we choose to keep in our care, whether we have to dust them or not.  If we wanted to pack up and move to Italy, for example, we would need to deal with the items, whether we sell, donate, or set them on fire.  

Right now many of the purged items await their fate in our dining room, and there I see some things that were projects long delayed.  Most things have gone to the thrift store; some, gifts from generous friends and family, have gone to distant thrift stores.  

Our 496 or so items are merely a drop in the bucket.  We've had a brief discussion about extending the purge through February, so if you're in the market for a beer-making kit, rarely used, or wine-making items, shoot me a line or watch the online markets.  We might lighten our burdens further.  

Edit:  Shortly after posting the message above this morning, I read an article in the Guardian indicating that Marie Kondo, the Japanese woman known for preaching de-cluttering, has decided she now has other priorities--her three kids.  Now, she says, her house is messy.  So there.  

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.