Saturday, July 30, 2011

when you or any one of my children are in pain it is very difficult for me to go on in life as usual, write my stories, read a book, whatever. you have been with me all along, faithful, true, loving, taking care of us when we needed it. i will be here forever for you.

remember those of us who love you and how much we love you. you have lived through extreme pain. you can have all the good things in life. you remember, be true, take care of yourself, all of the best will come to you.

go outside every day. look at the sky. there was a time when you couldn't see it, when you wished you had it. now look at it. cloudy, rainy, hazy, blazing hot, doesn't matter. go for a walk. experience it. it is life. get exercise, take care of yourself, and live in the world. do it because you can and because you can love and be happy. if you can't get up, or exercise, maybe you're depressed...use that as your guide. when in doubt, go outside. walk a mile.

reach out, accept help from those who love you. maybe your version of the story is different from other people's; i'm sure that's disturbing. but people still love you. they will help you. they may never understand your pain. sometimes you will wonder, is anyone there? does anyone even notice? i'm here. i notice. others do too. reach out, and let them notice. talk about it. they can help you.

pray. things get better.

we love you. amen.
a new story


comments welcome, as usual!
I don't know about the heat spell around the country; in some areas it's a major drought, in others it's just very hot. Here it's fairly typical that it remains in the high nineties and often looks like it's going to rain but never does. What has changed is that some bank clocks have discovered the "heat index" or "feels like" and now post things like 103 or 107 on their clocks, without necessarily clarifying what they are talking about.

Really I'm more tired of the length of the summer, since it starts around May, and is uncomfortable for so long, often until late September. We're roughly half way, it being very late July, and have a long way to go. I swelter; I miss Minnesota. I'm much more of a wimp than I used to be; I long to spend some time outside in the summer.

We got a tiny pool for the kids, about six feet in diameter, so, actually, we spend more time out there than we used to. If I'm in it I actually enjoy the summer, the heat, the burning sun; I can watch my tomatoes grow right next to me (side question: does the chlorine of a home pool adversely affect a tomato patch or garden vegetables? Next year, that vegetable garden is moving. This year, the pool is in the only place it could be)…I can enjoy the flower gardens; sometimes I make improvements, pull weeds, etc. while I watch the little guys. If I hang around out there, I'm too hot. But if I get in once in a while, it's not so bad.

Why do I mention this? I try to put myself here, in the summer, in this world, with the boys, because a personal emergency made me go to the nearby town of H. a lot recently; I'd rather not think about that; I've written copiously about that problem but don't share it, and all I can say is, it's ok now, but still not resolved, and it causes lots of stress which makes the heat and humidity that much more of a rice cooker. Such events make me grateful to be alive, and to still have my children, and to know that grandchildren are on the way, and that, in a more distant sense, fall is on its way too. Life has put me through the ringer, but I came out hard squozen but still alive, and each day I remind myself that I am basically lucky because the alternatives are worse.

The town of H. is at the other end of southern Illinois so it requires about an hour drive straight east, past a lake, through the region's main town, out across vast and beautiful (and sun-baked) farm country. It's a town of about ten thousand that combines a little bit of southern pillar-laden elegance with your usual small-town conflict and exaggerated personality. The guy with the Harley wears a sleeveless vest emblazoned with "Harley" on it and dangles a long cigarette in his mouth as he rides without a helmet. The policeman checks my license number from way across the four-lane, I'm sure, just because he doesn't know who I am, doesn't recognize the car immediately. Everyone we talk to is very friendly and gives directions easily but they are hard to understand and we get lost a lot, even though the town is tiny. But the heck of it is, the only people I really know here have been touched by unspeakable tragedies that make mine look like small change, fatal accidents that involve drugs and other problems, things that can't be undone or returned to life as we know it, much as I'm trying to get my life back to life as I knew it. Sometimes it is so difficult to just do the stuff on your list, that you just make a cup of coffee and stew on it for a while, but, these other folks' lives serve as a warning, and a reminder: it could be worse. I was lucky, and I'd better remember that.
A huge natural gas find in the US brings good news and bad. Good: I can move to Minnesota, because living in the far north won't be a huge burden on a small income. Second, massive fracking of underground shale or whatever will destablize the whole earth crust all over, thus causing more earthquakes, a general weakening of the crust under our country. Is it worth it? Most likely the decision to do all that fracking will be made without my input anyway, but I thought I'd weigh in on this topic. I'd be glad to move to Minnesota, knowing that natural gas will be cheap and available for years to come. I would be unhappy to be living in places like Pennsylvania and New York, where they are blowing the underbelly of the earth out with powerful shots of water and chemicals, thus depleting the local water supply and making what water is left totally undrinkable. Of course there is this window; it will take a few years to figure out how many people die from the process (or get cancer from tainted water); in the meantime, natural gas is cheap and we have jobs, but we're living on borrowed time. It's more or less the story of this country.

So, the pressure is rising, the fracking is increasing, destabilization of the known universe is taking place at an increasing rate, etc. My own life is way heated up, high pressure, heat index, overstimulation, and I'm not even working; I'm taking a term off to do childcare and put time into helping various kids. Yet going back to work might actually be relaxing, and give me something to do with my hands. As it is I'm considering making another quilt, just so I get some visuals along with the stress. A needle every once in a while, it's like acupuncture. It actually helps.
At the playground the other day I was reminded of an incident that actually happened maybe a year ago.

I'm white. My son is black. Sometimes on the playground we fit between races, as I can talk to people of either race, and frankly, I know many of the internationals, so I can talk to them also. And for the most part they are willing to talk to me. I can sense when white folks are uncomfortable with what I'm doing, but that's rare in this college town, though as you get further away, like in the town of M. where racism is more common, I feel it a little more often. Black folks are almost universally nice to me, regardless of how they may feel.

The rule of the playground is, you have to respect the other kids. You can occupy the bottom of the slide, but if you see a kid trying to come down the slide, you should let him or her get through. Similarly you can go halfway down the covered slide, but it's not really polite to just sit there and block it and not let any other kid come down the slide. It doesn't matter about color. You should respect any kid, any color.

Older kids tend to use the playground in unorthodox ways. They might shinny up the the pole that holds the swing, or climb around on the outside of the covered swing, or go up the slide backwards and then jump off from a point about halfway up. My older kids did this too. They have an innate sense of what kind of nerve development they need and they go after it instinctively without regard for conventions like, "this equipment was not meant to be used backwards." They tend not to worry about the rules to much unless we parents interject them. Similarly they have a pattern regarding learning their new skills, where they tend to do things over and over once they've mastered them. These are universal to kids.

My son found another friend (both black) and they were hanging around the bottom of the slide. I was watching them but was unaware of a couple of white kids at the top of the slide. The white kids were hiding behind a wall up there and we couldn't see them wanting to come down the slide. Or at least I couldn't see them; I may have been distracted. In any case the two little kids at the bottom didn't move for them because it wasn't apparent they were coming down. Or if it was, somehow we'd missed the signal.

Their mother was furious though. She said that in her town, M., if kids were playing at the bottom of the slide they'd just call the park police and get them off of there. I should have shooed them off of there myself. It's against the rules to go up backward, or to hang around at the bottom so other kids can't come down, she said. Just then I noticed the white kids cowering. Had they signaled her? Had she intervened on her own? Was I complicit in their breaking the rules?

I still don't know. The thing is, one of kids' rules is, if your dad is standing right over you, and he doesn't care what you're doing, then it must be ok. So maybe they had some sense that they were keeping those kids from coming down, and didn't care.

The woman was kind of in an Appalachian rage. She had a small town local accent. I felt like saying, my older sons have been going up this slide for twenty years. I got the sense racism was an issue. That's why I felt like saying, my older sons have been doing that for twenty years, and they're white. But I didn't. I shooed the little kids off of the slide, and they ran off to play somewhere else.

Nothing like this incident has happened recently, which is good, because I'm low on patience. I was reminded of it mostly because it was kind of a moral dilemma where I was accused of doing something wrong, and wasn't entirely convinced of my own rightness. How does one know? To whom does one turn?

On the lake in Minnesota the boys and I would walk along the shore, on the rocks, as far as we felt like. The problem was, it was private property, and for the most part wasn't clearly marked. I was vaguely aware that we were off the beach of our own resort, where of course we could explore, but as long as nobody bothered us, I didn't worry too much.

But one day we walked really far and some guy came out and asked us to leave. There is public beach up there in town that anyone can use, he said, but this is private property. He was nice enough, and so were we; we turned around and left. One son was stung by the rebuke, though. He didn't want his dad to admit guilt, I guess. I also felt bad, guilty, like I'd put them in a position of being trespassers. It seemed ok to me at the time, that's all I could say.

Another visitor confirmed my feeling later, though. It should be accessible. It's a huge, beautiful lake, you ought to be able to walk on it.

I don't know the answer to life's questions. A friend, however, said that humility is the key. You admit that you might not be right, then, if you're wrong, sorry about that, didn't mean to hurt you, or cause you trouble. Later on, we were walking along that same shore, further toward our own place, but still on private beach, I'm sure, and there was a whole party of people out on the lawn enjoying the sunset on the rocky beach. Along comes me and my two sons, one very black, both wearing no shirt or shoes, hopping from rock to rock. They didn't say a word. It seemed like the most natural thing. You got boys, you got rocks, you have a big lake, that's how it's supposed to be. Oh how I miss it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

it's at 91, on its way to 97, with "feels like" up near or over 100, and everyone is just going along on their business as usual, while i'm trying to lose weight, tired of carrying around all this baggage. but i don't want to go outside to do it. i call this "helter swelter"...

the garden is overflowing; looking at it is an exercise in not picking stuff that i agreed to lay off of until i was absolutely ready to eat it. this is especially true of cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, & kohlrabi which i still have only a vague concept of. the onions, i've been eating steadily.

i've spent a lot of time writing the annals of bipolarism, an account of an ongoing family crisis that consumes a lot of our time and attention. i don't know the answers; writing has helped me clarify the problems. maybe i can use some of this computer time learning more. unfortunately, my computer time is limited. my heart is aching for family members who suffer and try to make it in this world at the same time. as i back up a little i am more likely to feel lucky; i still have them; they are around; they still love me and talk to me; they are in various stages of dealing with the hand they've been dealt. they will have to work this out for themselves. their children, on the other hand, will have to decide whether to choose to eliminate it from the gene set that they pass along. it is unique. it is special; it comes down through the ages. it is a burden, and at the same time a gift. do you pass it along, if you have a choice? do you stand by and watch science eliminate it altogether? i am not even able to imagine answering these.

airconditioning is a lifeline, a small tube through which we are able to breathe and stay alive until it cools down, in october maybe. some parts of the country are deep in a drought, turning to desert, parching up, forcing people to kill off cows and livestock, dreading the dry season which may last well into winter. again, i have no idea, no idea whatsoever. i feel a strong pull toward minnesota, but then, i've already gone over it, one has to make a living, or at least be there while one's wife makes a living. she, a sociology professor, had an appointment with our neighbor the police chief the other day. his idea was to enter the sociology department to get a phd; she said, it's easier if he doesn't need funding. he missed the appointment, because of a dead body. one of our homeless guys, maybe, he said. she said, this is one of the better excuses i've heard. more later.
back in carbondale now, and i can tell you, this town hasn't changed much, it's just as steamy as ever, i've been telling everyone what a novelty it was to be able to go outside in the summer, and I meant it. but they're jealous; just coming off of a heat wave where 97 was "feels like 113", i pointed out that this new statistic "feels like" doesn't take into account people like me, for whom it "feels like" hell and nothing better. and it almost doesn't matter if it's 113, 105 or 97. surprisingly few people in this area go to minnesota, or michigan, or any other cool place for that matter, though it has occurred to them to go to, say, california, orcolorado, or someplace at least a little less steamy. but the point is that I hate to yammer on about how great my two weeks was, knowing how badly they've been suffering back here.

meanwhile tomatoes, onions, peppers, kohlrabi, cabbage, etc. all overflowing, as well as weeds and grasses that are dying to choke the whole thing off. in addition a swimming pool had blown over in a storm and sat on an edge of the vegetable garden, suffocating a number of things which may or may not make it; that storm also delivered everyone from the heat wave, lowering the temp by about twenty or so, or at least lowering the "feels like". but the same houses, same streets, same new students, I don't know why they have all these new students down here from chicago, sweltering in a summer heat, getting a tour of campus on those little wheely-buses. here, i can show you this town. it's all "feels-like," no substance.

well, maybe that's an exaggeration. we do have a university here; it's in the center of a pretty region; there are lots of things to be proud of. I'm feeling a little refreshed and ready to attack life as i know it, take care of the stuff I've written, work on my novel, work on a linguistics book; spend some quality time with the little boys, do some reflecting on what's happening with the bigger boys, etc. I have a month here to do just about anything – build a loft, finish the novel, clean out the garage, publish the memoir, whatever.

early in the morning, you can go out, pick weeds, water; all kinds of things are possible, but you have to be up. if you sleep 'til 8, or maybe 9, too late. might as well sleep 'til 2, take the first three hours waking up, then go out hoping that it will cool down enough to actually stand outside for a minute or two, if you happen to see someone in the street. but alas, you have kids, you're up at 8 anyway. the question is if you're going to get that little window there, where it's actually cooler than any other time of day, when the sun is just coming up, and the rabbits are headed back into the weeds. I made it this morning; then, I made myself a cup of coffee, and now kids are up. pictures coming.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New story:
Comments welcome, as usual
back in the south now, hannibal missouri to be exact, and it’s really not so extreme; it’s hot, but not over a hundred; it’s sunny but people are going about their lives as if this were a good day to get out in it. in fact I am in a wal-mart parking lot where my wife is trying to buy a movie or two for the boys to help us get through the last four or five hours of a very long drive. vacation is over. now it’s back to work, which, for my wife, will be chairing a sociology department and teaching, in about a month; for me, it’s watching the boys for that month and then back to teaching with everyone else in mid-august. with a possible union showdown happening I will be grateful to be home pulling tomatoes out of the garden, because I have a kneejerk radical way of talking about these things that doesn’t help anyone and certainly doesn’t moderate the nature of the discussion.

what was my favorite part of the vacation? ely, definitely, though I don’t know why. it had a rowdy, ends of the earth feel to it, way up there in the superior forest, surrounded by lakes, a half step from canada, yet over-full of outfitters and one out of every two or three vehicles lugging kayaks. By the time vacation was over I was ready to move to Minnesota, though as we discussed it I knew there was no way; still, to me, ely would be the place. ely, or maybe duluth itself, which was a medium-sized town, had the lake, had hills, had a lot of stuff, and was pretty besides.

here in the sun-baked wal-mart parking lot I hear someone yelling at his wife/girlfriend, “that’s all the f-in money I’ve got,” which is to say he doesn’t have enough, or any, but he’s got an SUV and a wife or girlfriend, and who knows who else in the back. It’s a normal day, hot, oppressive, lots of people coming and going, no internet connection that I can reach. This town would be ok, if you could do like mark twain or john Hartford, get right down on the river, and stay that way. up here in the wal-mart parking lot, it’s a little hot.

the drive down from the north shore to here was deliberately long; we tried to stop for a few hours in minnehaha park in Minneapolis in order to get the boys out, wear them out, use them up a little so they would be calm at night and we could do more serious driving. It only partly worked. Minneapolis was wonderful and featured an accidental drive right past my old neighborhood at thirty-eighth and columbus, an odd and very urban neighborhood; we also drove through st. paul again and around Minnehaha a little too much, as roads were confusing and we got lost (an apparently weren’t the first). Naturally Minneapolis brought up a bunch of old memories, but this was nothing compared to iowa in which every single exit was a place I’d lived, or worked, or did something or other that I’d just as soon forget. I was grateful when, finally late at night, everyone fell asleep except me, and I was able to drive right past this historically rich region (cedar rapids, north liberty, iowa city, coralville, hills, kalona, washington, you name it, I lived in it)…more later; we’re on the road again…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

a storm came in from behind us tonight and is pounding us as i speak, interrupting an internet connection that was spotty to begin with. so i type this on word, hoping to get on blogger later if ever. I like the storm as long as the cabin holds out; we seem to be safe inside with everyone asleep except me.

this morning it was a fog, that gripped this entire end of the lake and reduced visibility or rather made a very clear lake turn into infinite grayness as you looked out at it. also a foghorn sounded regularly from the nearby bay; its doleful wail was clear even in the cabin. this is wonderful for me, as minnesota is having a beautiful, typical summer whereas southern Illinois, where we will return soon enough, is at a wretched 97 in the shade, no chance of rain ‘til november.

the local town (two harbors mn) had its “heritage days” which ran their course naturally on the foggy day, yesterday, when all the booths were up again in spite of a drizzle and cool morning. i got a good sense of what life is like in a town of 3000 or so where the one annual parade is a pretty big deal; virtually everyone was at the parade, such as it was, and the only problem was that my own boys were in a pretty rotten mood, maybe not used to the fog. both the fog and the parade were fine with me; i’m ready to indulge my fantasies of actually living in such a place, though these are somewhat unrealistic, given the family situation, with grandbabies coming, kids growing, jobs, etc. what are the chances? nevertheless it feels like being let out of a jail, to be able to go outside in the summer, to be able to hang around at the shore of a huge lake, and watch the sun go down and the lake change colors, to come and go from one’s own front door without one’s internal system gearing up to face a high-pressure, high-temp world that one can only survive with one’s car a/c on full blast.

minnesota also has another advantage over even iowa, which has always held my heart: it is relatively free of the pesticides/fertilizers/toxic sprays so common in farm country, that are killing the frogs everywhere south of the lake country. I wouldn’t mind making a life out of fighting the increasing use of nerve gas to grow soybeans in even the most typical fields; these hard metals are responsible for a lot of damage besides just your usual two-headed frog problems, but it’s almost impossible to fight a system so huge and pervasive, better to just move where it isn’t an issue. winter, of course, would be an issue. making a living would be an issue. nerve gas in the drinking water wouldn’t be an issue.

ah, you see, my fantasies are run amok again. the lake laps up on the rocks outside our window. the storm has passed; the pine trees all have that wet smell. what a place! the secret will be to bring some of that feeling back with me, in order to survive august and then september, which, inasmuch as it’s still summer in the tropics, is what i consider the cruelest month. october, you can finally come outdoors again.

Friday, July 08, 2011

the lake is different tonight, far more choppy, unsettled, and noisy, though the distinction is lost on the boys, who will grab big rocks, take them over to the edge of a rock cliff, and hurl them into the water, listening to their thung as they hit other rocks below. i try to skip rocks in the choppy water but my shoulder still hurts from a while ago and i'm not always successful; one, however, angles way up and goes in a different direction after it hits. it occurs to me that, for a rock, being skipped back into the lake may be an action that takes hundreds of years to undo; it may be lucky to go a foot or two in an entire season, or maybe not at all, but if it catches the eye of a boy, or an errant hiker along the beach, it could have the entire arc of its existence altered permanently.

the odd thing about the rocks, as i've mentioned, is that they are radically different colors, though all are pastel, soft, grayish colors. some are pinkish gray, sandstone maybe, while others are bluish gray, or even slate-blackish gray. and still others are light brown, or a combination of the above, a kind of white with iron in it, or pinkish with gray spots, as if they are put together over many years. because there is no shortage of rocks, i don't bother the boys with their infinite desire to throw them, or move them. down the beach some people have actually made cairns (piles of rocks) on rocks that are in the water; these would make good photographs too but i haven't got around to it.

the other day on impulse we decided to go see splitrock (a picture of which has graced this blog from its beginning) but alas as a state park it was closed; the road going past it was under construction; those who parked near it in hopes of walking in were risking their lives and subjecting themselves to a very long walk. we did see it, however, out on its rock outcropping reaching out into the lake. and from there we decided to haul on to ely, which was supposed to be only sixty or seventy more miles but turned out to be more like a few hours, since the road was windy as it went through the dense hilly forest. not many road signs out there, and we got a good sense of the dense minnesota wild country, superior national forest, and boundary waters area. in ely two thirds of all vehicles had canoes on them; it was a young town; my college friend who lives there conceded, it's not your average small town. we didn't have a full visit with him but i did see him for a short time and that did me good. the boys, who are up for most things, thought it was a pretty long drive just to see a few bears (we did stop at the bear center where they study bear sociology)...

back at the cabin our own little town, two harbors, was having its annual 'heritage days' which featured a historic drama, a lutefisk toss, and a ukelele orchestra, this last billed as the premiere ukelele orchestra of southwest lake county; they numbered about a dozen, only six or seven ukeleles, and played a wild variety of music. i'm sure most of two harbors was out there; the weather was good, and out in the bay the water sparkled its deep blue.

not sure why it turned so choppy tonight. at one point we could see the gulls a ways out in the water; they were activated and lively as if for a change they decided it was a good time to eat. the sun reflected on them and every once in a while they'd fly along the coast, in line, as if they had a new lead on where along the coast the fishing was good. they are remarkable for their stark whiteness especially in the sunset. and for the fact that, much of the time, they don't seem to need to eat; they are content to sit in the sun, or maybe they eat before dawn when the fishing is excellent and they don't have to be watched by us at all.

our trip way up to ely on reflection reminded me of a time when i was here with the older boys and we shot up to canada for a few hours; i wished even then i could show them the whole country, really give them the feel for what it's like to have boundless water, fresh air, long shores, and be a little closer to nature than the forty-eight states below. at this point, moving up here would be an enormous hassle, and would involve leaving grandchildren down in the states, and people who need us for sure, and so, it probably won't happen, at least for the moment, but somehow the lake lapping up on the shore, the crashing of water on the rocks, the ability to be outside in the summer, opens up my soul to the wider possibilities of the universe, the other things one could do with one's life. these would not, on reflection, be easier than the life i've carved out now. but it would be here, or somewhere near here, and that alone would be a breath of fresh air...
trial and error...
new story. comments welcome!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

the sun sets very slowly behind us on the north shore, and it casts a glow that turns pink and then blue on the glassy water. actually the water is sometimes choppy but often glassy; it may be enjoying that one time in the year when it’s absolutely, unquestionably summer. we are enjoying it, especially the northern idea that one should spend as much of the summer outside as possible.

i try to talk my wife into moving up here though there are obvious downsides. for one thing it’s very clearly winter country; people put the garage in the house so they don’t have to heat it separately; or, they put the garage near the road so they can snow-shoe to their front door. second, how does one make a living? these artists advertise prolifically but then how much money is there really floating around for the arts, and is that all seasonal, namely, only there in july and december? one can only speculate, and look lustfully at real estate like emily’s café and diner in knife river, empty and for sale, straddling a river coming down from iron country into the lake; one could take this building, for sure, and do all kinds of things with it. my wife wants no part of it, but I indulge my fantasies.

we went to gooseberry today, this being a fine state park in a state which has shut down and thus has locked the exit, the road, and the visitor’s lodge. it seems to tolerate, however, the fact that people are parking a few feet from the exit and walking into the place every day; we tried it, and noticed that the only real difference is that those people now have to ask us for directions, instead of the usual friendly state folks who generally occupy the place. we actually know the place better than most, having been there once or twice. it’s a set of falls, coming down under the highway and into the lake, rust-colored as it comes down out of the iron range. it’s beautiful, and its loud sound of splashing water is good for the soul; the pine forests always smell good. the state seems to be benevolent about the obvious trespassing; i waited for a gentle reminder, but it never came. the day was beautiful and the sky was clear. summer, and i’m outside. life is a miracle, every minute.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

late at night on the fourth, I write from the north shore of lake superior, looking across the lake at small fireworks displays on the wisconsin side of the lake. a bigger one probably in duluth was hidden from my view, slightly behind some trees down the shore. the shore is rocky and the boys and I spend hours walking across the rocks going up and down the beach, occasionally getting up the courage to plunge partway or all the way into the very cold fresh water. a steady breeze comes in off the lake but at the moment it is literally switching from very warm and humid to cool, and back; this has brought out the mosquitoes, so I brought everything in the cabin and write at the kitchen table.

my wife and i had agreed: no internet, especially, no e-mail, no work. she unexpectedly found a wireless connection here and used it to look at the weather, but kept her promise and stayed off e-mail and facebook. i couldn’t even find the connection, and gave up looking; I can put this on the blog any time. i’m interested in whether the indians are still one game up, but I can find that out without internet and don’t really need the weather either. she says a storm is coming in and it will get cooler. I tried to find the storm by scanning the sky but was unable to distinguish fireworks rumbling and light, in the duluth direction, from a possible storm. there’s no storm yet. it’s a little unusual to me to look out, late at night, to a vast lake, its waves lapping up on the rocks, the gulls gliding across it occasionally, cutting in and out of the air currents above it. you hear boats and trucks and other noises in the clear night air but looking out over the water, there’s nothing but the water itself, and it seems like that water goes on for a long way though you can kind of pick out the wisconsin shore in the daytime, at least over on this side of it.

it took about fourteen hours altogether to get up here, and this was very hard on my wife, who hates driving; to the boys it wasn’t too bad though they got a little testy every once in a while. to me it was great, since mostly we went through iowa, where i used to live, and minneapolis, in short places I like a lot and still keep a feeling for. it got steadily more temperate as we got north; to me the greatest thing is to just be able to hang around outside in the summer, though with bugs and all, you can’t do it every minute. being the fourth weekend and all a lot of people were on the road and were outside at every turn; we saw a lot. some places had their fireworks as we drove through them, like waterloo iowa and a couple more on the road to mason city. it’s a good patriotic exercise to get out and drive fourteen hours of your favorite part of the country, more patriotic maybe than blowing up crap yourself, or burning some poor pig to death at the spit. nevertheless here I sit; the world goes back to work tomorrow and i start a little vacation, with my family, on the banks of lake superior.

walking up and down the rocky shores of the lake wears the boys out, apparently; it taxes all their skills, and this is good because they need a lot of this fresh air and learning about balance, rock, driftwood, cold water and climbing. it’s a test of my nerves, sometimes. there’s no fish, to speak of; it’s too cold. no danger of sharks, i told one of them. skipping stones ironically hurts my shoulder, the very one that was damaged in a skating accident around new year; in spite of my constant swimming, it’s obviously still not healed. i’m wondering if, given enough skipping, that will do it? to me it’s a relief to have so many rocks, to not feel as if I should tell the boys not to upset the natural balance by throwing too many rocks. It appears to be impossible to throw to many rocks; there is no shortage of rocks. I may spend the entire ten days myself, throwing rocks. by the end I may be a little better at actually skipping them.

I was hoping to republish e pluribus haiku, as I try to do every fourth of july; i actually had a bigger plan to put one out in paper this year, actually publish a print volume of poetry, and then publish it again on the fourth of every year as i try to do now online. but as usual I missed my deadline, and I’m on the road anyway, and don’t have internet connection, and can’t publish anything in any way, even this. somehow that doesn’t bother me too much. the water laps up on shore; total darkness envelops the lake as even duluth has gone to bed. i did write one which I’ll share, partly because I can’t put it where it belongs right now anyway:

north shore gulls adrift,
lake breezes changing their minds –
now days turn shorter

'til later...

Friday, July 01, 2011

Saturday morning...a kind of story. Enjoy!