Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sometimes You Gotta Let Go

I'm not a hoarder.  I might have the pile of chocolate bars that once seemed a great deal, even though now they're faded glory.  I've got a lot of notebooks with poetry, notes, doodles, story ideas, drawings, lists.  I've got piles of books I have or have not read.  Right now I've got three motorcycles, two that don't run.  I've got a pickup.  I've got three cars.  But I've just reduced my car inventory by one.  I watched yesterday as the Interstate Auto Transport guy drove away with my sexy little German up on the ramp.

It just didn't work out.  I was tentatively hopeful when I loaded the little yellow roadster onto a trailer from north of Madison and brought it home, but eventually it became clear that what it needed was more than I could give.  Too bad.  In the mean time, I'm going to turn my attention to other matters, doing my work, getting some writing done, and maybe seeing what those two dead motorcycles need.

Monday, September 26, 2011

artshortfilms--Check it out.

The Alphabet 2 from n9ve on Vimeo.
I enjoyed this video from artshortfilms--good for fun, but teaching spelling?  I don't think so.  D is for destruction.  Which seems to be a bit of a theme. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A New Top Dog in the Marathon (no, it's not me).

As I consider what it will take to complete the Twin Cities Marathon a week from today, I know what it takes, or at least what it has taken in the past, when I was younger, thinner, in better shape.  It's a good thing that aging happens slowly, because it's hard enough to take the way it is.

But it's inspiring to see what the human body can do, and I don't mean mine.  Yes, I think I'll be able to survive the 26.2 miles that the marathon requires.  I need to do that to earn my finisher's t-shirt.  But I am amazed when I think of what some of the speed demons do, like Haile Gabreselassie, who won gold medals in the 10k in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and owned the world record in the marathon at 2:03:59.  At least until today.

Running in Berlin on a flat and fast course, Gabreselassie ran up front until late in the race, when he stopped for a minute, rejoined the race, and then stopped again for good.  It may be his last days as a marathoner.

In the meantime, a new runner claimed the world record, which means running FASTER than Gabreselassie 's 4:44 per mile pace.  It's Patrick Makau, who churned through the marathon in 2:03:38, 21 seconds faster (less than one second per mile).

Nobody will run that fast in the Twin Cities, but at about two hours and eleven minutes or so, I'll imagine what it must be like to be finishing at that time.  And then I'll run (and walk) the last 12 miles or so.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

From Tree to Flame

The back yard has been noisy many evenings as I've been busy making big blocks of wood into small blocks of wood.  The wood splitter has a new engine, and it's been working well, making the process much smoother with a steady, reliable power plant.

As the winter comes on, we'll move the wood to a handier spot near the back door and begin the winter-long process of feeding our nifty wood stove and enjoying the wood as it transforms from fuel into heat.  I love it when the wood is finally aflame, and I'm relaxing in the radiant glow.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Temporary Tomato Shelter

Tomato Yurt
Dire warnings were out last night for a hard freeze, which would have meant the end of the line for our gigantuan tomato, tomatillo, and pepper plants.  So, we took precautions, employing almost all sheets and blankets, pillow cases, painting tarps, and car covers.  Then, it didn't freeze, although it was 32 degrees when I came down in the dark this morning.  No worries tonight, so the temporary shelters will need to come down.  

We weren't the only ones prepping for a freeze.  A nippy drive around town in the convertible last evening (enjoying a TCBY "Waffle Cone Wednesday" treat) revealed others in town who weren't taking any risks with their tomatoes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sky Full of Contrails

When I was in junior high, we had a textbook titled Contrails, a reading textbook, I think, that opened the doors to many stories and led me on to the kind of reading that developed into a Ph.D. in English.  While I was working on that Ph.D., teaching at DSU and taking classes at USD, I spent a lot of time driving between Sisseton, Madison, and Vermillion, putting many miles on my little Honda Civic, watching the contrails expand across the vast South Dakota sky.  Everyone going somewhere.

On September 11, 2001, my morning class composition class at DSU was interrupted by a student who was notorious for either sleeping in class or browsing the internet.  "Someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center," he announced.  It was the first classroom contribution he'd ever made, and I admonished him, told him to get off the internet and get back to work.

Later I learned what was unfolding in New York.  Later yet that day I got in my car and as I drove down to Vermillion for class, I noticed how empty the sky was, how from brim to brim the blue curve of the sky was empty, unlined.  It felt to me, now full of the knowledge of the collapsed towers, the crashed plane, the burning pentagon, that the vast criss-crossing of contrails was a web that had come unraveled, a basket broken through.  It felt a little as though I were suddenly working without a net, that some woven underpinning to my life had come undone.

Contrails over South Dakota, 9-11-11
But yesterday, as the wife and I returned from Sioux Falls, where before the half-marathon we stood in restless silence to remember those who fell from the web of life ten years ago, I noticed the sky again.  Blue sky, cloudless, crossed again and again by the contrails left by airplanes carrying their trusting passengers from one end of the country to another.  I leaned back in my seat, looked over at my wife driving me home again, and felt as though that web, that basket, were being woven again, that it was being mended.

Four at the Forecast Saturday Night

Alfredo pasta with chicken
The Forecast Restaurant in Howard finally drew us in for dinner (now "supper" on the menu) to celebrate the father-in-law's 75th birthday.  The wife and I joined her folks and enjoyed four of the dishes on the menu.  Since I was running the Sioux Falls Half Marathon on Sunday, I wanted the hand-made pasta.  Rich and creamy, the pasta was very tasty and included a nice salad, as did all the other dishes.  I added the chicken.

The birthday guy ordered the braised pork belly, which we all tried.  The pork was tasty, but the cabbage and spatzle, a German specialty mini-dumpling, was especially good.

Braised pork belly with spatzle and cabbage

Chicken with red pepper coulis
The wife ordered the chicken with red pepper coulis, a thick peppery sauce, just a little spicy, with a good peppery taste.

Walleye with vegetables 
Mrs. Birthday ordered the walleye, after being told it was out, then hearing word more was ready (popular that night).  It came in a parchment envelope, steamy and cooked with veggies, just right.

New York style cheesecake with blackberries
Desserts were nothing to crow about, but all were very tasty, including the cheesecake, the chocolate mousse, and the lemon pie.

Chocolate mousse

Lemon pie
The folks at the Forecast are working hard to get it right.  It's a start-up, and I suspect some of the wait staff has never enjoyed the experience of dining in the kind of high-class restaurant the Forecast is aiming for.  I hope they get there.  The chef has the right touch, and he's working his tail feathers off to get it right.  

Get on over there and try the fare. Then let the chef know what you think of his work.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Grasshopper and the Ant

Roasted tomatoes for sauce
 This evening the wife spent putting away some of the summer harvest, cooking tomatoes and making sauce, chopping jalapenos and making jelly, then canning them up and setting them aside for later.

Meanwhile, someone else was having a bowl of ice cream, browsing the web, fixing the router, sending email, and wondering how eating ice cream was going to get him through the half-marathon on Sunday in Sioux Falls.  Maybe if he saw The Tinder Box on Saturday, that would help.
Jelly and sauce in process 
Finished jalapeno jelly and tomato sauce