Monday, April 30, 2007

Nature's Busy Nature

Weekend weather in Madison was the sort they have nearly year-round in places like San Francisco or on Maui, so it was a pleasure to get out and enjoy some of it, whether sitting in the stands at a baseball game, perching at the rail during a track meet, sitting in the back yard having a cold one with friends, cruising down to the TCBY for another kind of cold one, or enjoying an Irish breakfast with friends. Even cleaning out the cars on Saturday morning and mowing the lawn on Sunday afternoon for the first time were pleasant tasks. Yesterday a bike ride up to Ramona was in order, and the dune buggy is back on the road for another summer of cruising the streets. At least we don't, here in stodgy SD, have to worry about our commute over water or through fire and collapsing roadways.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

My Kingdom for a Crown

I've got plenty to do, people waiting on various projects or papers, work on writing that I'm doing, leading the local historical society, putting together a newsletter and a creative writing magazine. So what am I doing accepting the position of faculty chair? Maybe it's just for the crown. Maybe I'm just a sucker for the swag--the free books and magazines at the conference, the chip bag clamps at the insurance company, the toothbrush and floss at the dentist, the medal at the end of the marathon. Would I have taken on the chairmanship if it weren't for the tarnished and tattered crown? Who knows. Ludwig can wear it for the time being. He doesn't seem to have much to do besides look stern.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Short Visit, Lange Ride Home

Besides the triathlon, the weekend included a great retirement party for the wife's dad Friday night, 1,400,000 miles after beginning with the USPS, no crunched cars on his record. Saturday morning came early, with a flat tire on the road bike and a wardrobe malfunction, and Saturday afternoon took me into the cities, where A and C took KC and me around the new neighborhood (starting Thursday). We got a start on packing, we enjoyed some retirement barbecue, and I practiced my fatherly advising. We all survived that, and Sunday brought more packing and hauling away of extraneous stuff. The new neighborhood looks good, the house is a good starter, and all appears well with the world. It was a meaty weekend, with a stop at Lange's Restaurant in Pipestone for some dandy dessert on the way back. Monday morning came early, and so will Tuesday.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

What do you do when you're branded . . . ?

I might not be the kind of hero Chuck Connors was in "Branded," but I did survive the Madison triathlon yesterday and have the fading magic marker 41 on my legs and arms to prove my participation. Today I'm getting internal signals as well of how I spent my Saturday morning.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Tragedies

The incident in Blacksburg wasn't enough, so the wife and I drove north for a performance of Macbeth last night and a supper at Guadelajara's, our favorite restaurant there. Shakespeare's play was one tragedy, and a showing tonight at DSU of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," which I had not seen until tonight, was another. Not that the film was a tragedy, but rather the sorry state of things that the film depicts, a planet quickly becoming a victim of human carelessness. There's still a chance to address the second.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

33 in Blacksburg

Candles won't bring back the students and faculty who died in the shootings in Blacksburg, Virginia, yesterday. Visits by politicians, elegies for the dead, investigations, programs on TV, web graphics illustrating the series of deaths--none of those things will return the 32 victims and their killer to the living. But for the people closest to those who died or were injured, the outpouring of emotions and activities are reminders that we live interconnected, interwoven lives, that each person is the hub of a universe they populate with friends, enemies, teachers, and family, with a world of people on the fringe. We are all part of one world, and the tragic loss of so many people with dreams is a tragedy that touches us who live far from this western Virginia campus.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Long Slog Through the Rain, Boston Style

They're running the Boston Marathon today despite the rain and wind, so it must be Patriot's Day. Check for updates on The Boston Channel or's sports page. Runner's World is following the race mile by mile.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Change of Weather, Change of Pace

The thermometer reads 66 degrees, and the Conk needed the dust knocked off it, so a few miles helped blow out a few cobwebs, the kind in its guts and my head. Whoop!
Plus, eight miles running this morning and so far, no ill effects. Double whoop!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Running Weather

My daughter's out running a 5K this morning, along with some friends in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, these legs and feet are feeling good, getting me down the road a little more like they used to. After 6 miles yesterday, they feel pretty good today. I'm looking forward to hearing the 5K report.
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Friday, April 13, 2007

Brian Bedard and a Litter of Corpses

In celebration of his new collection of short stories, Grieving on the Run, USD professor Brian Bedard conducted a reading of two stories yesterday in Vermillion that JB and I were able to attend. Brian is a great practiced reader for events like this, and he makes good selections, ones mixed with humor and pathos, his work always textured with odd moments of human experiences, including the humane kidnapping of a parrot and the sudden appearance of a woman carrying a world-class catfish into a nursing home. We joked with him that corpses seem to litter many of his tales, which makes dialogue easier to handle, I suspect. It's a good-looking collection of stories, and since he read the first at the event, the third one looked short for a nightcap, and yet another corpse appeared in the first paragraph. But what good stuff.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Too Many Books? Is it Possible?

I had to walk away from the copy of the Hazel cartoons from the New Yorker, but I did pick up three volumes--a W.S. Merwin translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Stephen King's From a Buick 8, and a collection of fantasy stories.
Through the week at the Karl E. Mundt Library, new books every day. I'll probably have to go back.

It was snowing, and it was going to snow . . .

Wallace Stevens aside, the snow this spring is just not that much fun any more. Some kick-ass snowmen might be possible with the wet, heavy blanket of snow we've got, but the joy of splashing through dirty slush is wearing a little thin. Still, the trees coated with snow do have some charm. I'm sure W.S. would have had 13 ways of looking at our spring surprise.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Madison?

Someone driving through Madison yesterday might have wondered whether they were witness to a project by the divas of the art world, known for draping London Bridge, the Reichstadt, and other objects and transforming landscape into art. Christo and Jeanne-Claude DID wrap some trees (see here), but the Madison version was more a home-grown affair, just as lovely, though, judging from the weather today, a more pragmatic effort.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

First Easter Road Race

I always liked the story of the Easter morning run of the two disciples to the empty tomb. I got to hear it again this morning. The gospel takes a moment to indicate which one outran the other and what the winner did when he got there (looked in) and what the other did when he got there (went in). Those little details--and how they looked over the linens--were one of the things that my child's brain could latch onto.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Marquart Comes to DSU

Through the efforts of a number of people, Debra Marquart spent the day at the DSU campus yesterday. Here's the story and some pictures I meant for the school newspaper, written too late for printing:

Poet and writer Debra Marquart met with faculty, students, and the DSU president Dr. Knowlton during her visit on Tuesday, April 3. Marquart, who teaches in the English Department at Iowa State University, was on campus to meet with students and to read from her newest book, The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere.

Marquart capped her day with a reading and discussion of portions of her memoir in the Mundt Foundation at the Karl E. Mundt Library. She was preceded by Lisa Huff, an English major who read a short memoir titled “Thunder Rolls,” about growing up near Colman. Huff was followed by Dr. John Nelson, who read an Easter story from his memoir in progress. Nearly 75 people attended the event, hosted by Jenny Seitz and Megan Flynn, two English majors.

Marquart met with Dr. Nelson’s class in the memoir on Tuesday morning. Students in the course and guests were treated to some reading and discussion of Marquart’s memoir of growing up in North Dakota. “I was a farm girl, and I wanted nothing more than to leave North Dakota,” Marquart told the class. “But a lot of people like me end up wanting to come back.” Marquart told students that a writing group, such as the one she was once in with Dr. Maureen Murphy in Minnesota, can be a major benefit for any writer.

The writer then joined a group of faculty for a regular soup lunch shared in Beadle Hall. In the afternoon, Marquart met with Deana Hueners-Nelson’s Introduction to Literature class, reading and discussing her poems and poetry writing in general with students.

In the afternoon Dr. Knowlton hosted Marquart and English faculty and students at a tea in the Girton House.

The event was sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Thorton Wilder's Our Town at DSU

Friday evening the wife and I made it to the DSU production of Thorton Wilder's play, "Our Town," a play depicting turn of the century life, first produced in 1938. It was very well done, a commendable performance by our students, especially since we don't have a theater major. I have to confess I'd never seen it, and I found myself moved by the sense of changing times and the yearning for meaning in small-town life. Two more opportunities remain, Monday and Tuesday at 7:30 at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse. Go.