Monday, June 27, 2016

It amazes me

I move into a house in a lower-income neighborhood. People around me move, and new ones eventually move in. They act like it is their own corner of the earth. And when I try and talk to them, they are hostile, cool. As though I was not here first, as though I were some interloper threat. When it is they who are new compared to my time here. But they want to put up their fence and have their own little corner of suburbia, here in the 'hood. Fine and dandy. But show a little consideration for those who have been here far longer than you. Or at least talk to us in a civil manner, and not make nasty cracks and remarks behind your fence.
     On that score, some of the comments I hear from younger people are so irritating. As though my knee brace were some prop – they don't realize the knee pain I must battle daily to keep functioning. It is so easy when you are young, to judge those older and to expect perfection from them. One has to age and go through more of life to experience the loss and pain that helps transform one into an older person, as much as time alone does.

     Many times it requires an effort of will to simply go out and tend my yard anymore. I can remember in my 20s and 30's, gardening for others, and pining away for my own piece of property. But in the two times I have owned my own yard, both times have been less than ideal. There is always some neighbor unhappy about whether I cut something down, or not cut something down, or put in a new garden plot, or somesuch. There are always sarcastic or downbeat comments. It seems as though I am being mentally prepared to like life in some apartment or condo now- just as I perhaps was prepared to have a yard earlier in life. But I am never prepared for treachery, or baseless cruelty or bullying. Truly, I now understand why people go off the deep end, and open up with weapons. Nothing I do is ever enough for some critics. If only I could silence them, everything would be so much nicer, or easier to endure.

     As a disclaimer, I never go out into the yard nude, or shouting anything, or any other provocation. I simply go out to maintain my property. And someone just feels like they have to comment in some fashion. Once in a great while, people are gone, and that is a blessed comfort. I can go out and mow, weed, or whatever in the absence of criticism. That is once in a great while. If only the people with families would understand that I am no threat to them or their children. Rather, I could be a valuable friend, sharing my experiences as a gardener and homeowner. But people seem to have this black-and-white viewpoint and see me as the black hat for some reason. (If only I were exactly like them then they might approve???) But people are all different. I have no answer – but it feels good to complain about it. Some things never change.



Saturday, June 25, 2016

Trip to International Falls

       I set out very early Wednesday morning, anticipating a long drive. Since traffic was light, luck was with me, and I made good time. Actually made it to International Falls at 3:05 P.M. (Time zone did not change.) Got checked in, rested, then had an early dinner at the Chocolate Moose, a local establishment right next to my hotel (Day's Inn). Good food and service, prices comparable to Des Moines. It was raining steadily from when I arrived until later that evening. But I was excited, wanting to tour.
     So I visited the downtown a bit, found a museum (closed), and then located Voyageurs Park headquarters. Took some pics there, then drove down 11 East to explore some public areas. Glad I did, for when I went out Wednesday morning, I knew where some good spots were to take pictures, dip my feet in the water, and even fish a bit. My line-tying skills were rusty, but improved with practice. Figured if you're gonna fish, you might as well fish in an excellent area like the one I was in.
Later Wednesday, I drove around, taking pictures. I Hiked the Overholzer trail at Rainy Lake area, and took lots of pictures. Then drove on out to Dove island, dipped feet in at a public area, and then (on my way back) waded at City Beach in Ranier. Ranier is a touristy area just 2 miles East of Int'l Falls, full of local charm. Took more pics, then got stuck by a train there. Finally, back to the hotel for a rest.
     Wed afternoon, got the MN state map out, and noticed the proximity of Lake of the Woods, just west. So it was back in the car, and off to points west. After an hours' drive, I was near a state park. I saw lots of lovely coves and docks, and many streams that Hwy 11 crossed over, and some pretty waysides by the Rainy River (that is its name.) All the while, I was skirting the border with Canada, just across the river. Decided to go in the State Park at the bottom of LOTW. After another long drive down a narrow gravel road, I finally found the beach. But was handsomely rewarded with spectacular views of the Lake of the Woods. Fortunately, before I set off, I had put on swim trunks under my clothing.
     I parked, found a good spot near the beach, and shucked the clothes. Waded into the cool water. It was shallow, and I had to wade out quite a ways to submerge. It felt great, to swim in the Lake of the Woods. (Only 45 years after my father brought us here to fish on a houseboat.) But when I got out, I discovered a lot of biting flies and bugs wanted to dine on me for dinner. Still, that is the price of being out in the wilds of the far northern US. Got more great pics, and a couple of videos. After an hour of that, I decided it was time to go. The biting insects hastened my decision somewhat.

On the drive back, I snapped a few more pics of Rainy River. There were several pullover stops I skipped, including one where there are rapids flowing into the river. Lots of places to go see on a return visit!
      I returned to the hotel, feeling satisfied that I had seen and done quite a bit, on a budget too, no less.
I celebrated with a pizza in my room, then turned in early. Friday was going to be a full day of driving back.

Friday, I returned via a different route, taking 53 south around Duluth, enjoying views of Lake Superior. Then it was down thru Wisconsin to Eau Claire and 94. Then a jog west off HWY 10, 25, finally crossed the Mississippi at Wabash. Saw more scenic views of Upper Miss bluffs area. (Note to self, another drive there). Then 61 to 90, 90 to 35, and 35 home. 
       A whirlwind trip, lots of things seen along the way. And 385 pictures taken, give or take a few. I was again amazed at all of the natural beauty up in our northern states, and recommend the trip to anyone reading this.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Appearances

Back when I was 25,
wealth seemed quantified in donuts and coffee.
Perhaps wood-grain, leather chairs and silver service while
opening a new account.
“Would you like some coffee?”

“Sure” – even though the
“right” thing to do was decline.

Today I cling to those last tendrils of youth,
letting hair grow and longing for Young.
Memories multiply and divide,
and I forget where I put things.

Life never changes,
all I know or can do is to be human.
Might as well be the best human I can,
while I still have time.

Hey, I still like donuts and coffee,
quite often now, they are nearly free.


- end

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Some Summer Reading Ideas

Follow these links to some speculative fiction books.  Thanks.

Experimental Tales www.createspace.com/4973862



A Strange Enterprise www.createspace.com/4281639


Shadow Intersection www.createspace.com/4113022 

              *        *       *       *        
Kindle Editions                               
Shadow Intersection – Poetry:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AWZNGYA

Future Property – Sci-fi short stories: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008HHEWVQ

A Strange Enterprise – Short Stories and Alternate History - www.amazon.com/dp/B00MXP9D7Q



Epic Prime Collection –   www.amazon.com/dp/B01D8107K0

Experimental Tales – www.amazon.com/dp/B01AWJSRBC

The Osmotics – www.amazon.com/dp/B00IDW1OFM

New Venture – First Contact in the Kuiper Belt – www.amazon.com/dp/B00U9URST2

- end
 


Friday, June 03, 2016

Loss

The loss of our mother was very tough;
Uncle Curly was sad, but not unexpected.
Grandpa went next – he had a good run, 102 years.
When Dad died it was horrible. A tough time.

So many relatives taken for granted, now gone.
Perhaps disliked or resented back then-
A younger person, trying to get his start,
envying those who had made it with seeming ease.

But later on the youngster is older, realizes
that nothing is easy, they couldn't have had it
that easy, nothing is guaranteed in life.

They made it through warfare and depression,
disease and unease and upheavals.
They made it to be able to sit around
a dinner table, share a drink and a laugh.

Many would be so lucky just to survive
what they did, and thrive and prosper.
As I sit here staring at old age coming,
I hope that I face it with the same grace.

Their memories will lead the way,
I'll trudge down the well-worn path
they traveled and see what it is like.
Somehow I'm not expecting a picnic.

- end

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The rage in me, the rage in you

A driver stops, swears at and then runs over a motorcycle, injuring two riders.
Another frustrated driver losing control of themselves, and popping with rage.
It is easy to laugh at them, and wag a mental finger. Until it is me.
My case was special. I ran over something metal, and punctured my tire.
Had to get back home before the thing went flat. But – naturally – some slow,
lumbering truck pulls in front of me and drives about 10 MPH.
It doesn't take me long to lose it, drive around him, floor the accelerator.
Of course, I get pulled over, and chewed out. But fortunately for me,
the cop is not city police, but a private security officer.
After a lecture, he sees the tire, and says, “OK, go. You have enough air to make it home. Go.”
Once I cooled down and apologized, he was satisfied, and heard my explanations of
“I have a tire losing air and just want to get back to my driveway.”

I think on this later, not only that it was good I didn't just try and run from that guy, which would have prompted a call to the city police, but also how easy it was for me to lose my cool and speed around a vehicle in the first place.

Everyone has a limit. Some reach it sooner than others. But with traffic getting heavier, vehicles of all kinds on the roads, and the roads themselves deteriorating in some cases (what kind of metal sticks out of a pothole, and is sturdy enough to puncture my tire?), incidents of road rage will only increase.

I also blame the computer revolution somewhat. With gratification a mouse-click or finger-swipe away, it is easy to demand the same speed in all aspects of our living – including driving.

But driving is the very definition of an intricate, complex, often frustrating concert of actions and reactions. We must look all around, control a moving vehicle, watch out for what all the other drivers are doing. Often times there will be a distraction – music, a cellphone, or a passenger chatting. My normal mode of operation is to “let the hothead have their way.” Let any impatient driver pass, or change lanes cutting me off, etc. Believe me, my language at times could melt a nun's ear, but I still let the incident go. The mantra is to “Drive defensively.” It is a struggle to get around sometimes. Seems like so many are willing to take risks these days. And I'm not guilt-free in that regard.

Frequently I hate cars and driving, yet can't get by without either. So the show goes on. And I pray to the cosmic forces or whatever that I can make it downtown and back another day without an accident. The biggest danger is not the steel-and-plastic vehicles loaded with computers. It is the wet-ware behind the wheel we must all watch out for – including our own wetware. Thanks for reading.



Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Honors

They fought the good fight,
suffered privations, injuries,
Some made the highest sacrifice.
So we could enjoy a peaceful life
in civilized, well-fed comfort.

This is the day we give our thanks,
honor their sacrifices and memory.
Our salute to their bravery in battle,
their unceasing dedication in peacetime.
Thank You to our veterans, here and gone.

Thanks and Honors to all those
departed loved ones.
We shall never forget you,
on this day or any other.

- end