Category Archives: Life

You know, life.

Meanwhile back at the ranch.

IMG_1466To say there’s been a lot going on in my life since my last post is like saying the Titanic sustained some minor damage from an iceberg hit. I got a new job. I broke my hip, my daughter got married, I learned to surf. Ok that last one is a lie.

In August I was contacted by on of my web clients, The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder,  asking for me to recommend a print designer. The Spokesman-Recorder is a weekly newspaper for the African-American community, it’s the oldest Black owned business in Minnesota. Their designer had left for another job and they were looking for someone who could take over and help them with laying out the paper and handle collateral design projects.

I’ve been tossing around the possibility of getting a part-time job, a few hours a week to supplement my retirement income. But given the fact that I can’t really bend my knees or be on my feet for long periods of time, I’m kind of limited to what I can do. I already failed as a barista. But doing some design work in-house a few days a week would be perfect. So I recommended myself. I’ve been working there for a couple of months now and I really enjoy it, great people to work with, perfect hours and a regular paycheck. Between Social Security, my freelance income and this, I’m almost as much as I did when I retired.

Actually I didn’t break my hip. I broke my greater trochanter. Which is the little nub on the outside of the top of the femur where the glutes connect to your leg to articulate your hip. If you’re walking through a house that has a sunken dining room, looking back over your shoulder talking, it’s the part that hits the floor first when you miss the step. Yup, that’s what I did. In Chicago at the rental house we were staying at, two days before the wedding. I had the pleasure of escorting my daughter down the aisle on crutches.

The fracture wasn’t displaced and didn’t require surgery. They didn’t see the crack on the X-rays in Chicago, they diagnosed it as a bone bruise. It wasn’t until the pain wasn’t getting any better and I went to a local bone doc who discovered the break. I didn’t have much pain in resting position, but there were certain movements that gave me a breathtaking shot of pain. I was told to use crutches until the pain went away and start physical therapy. It’s been about five weeks now and the pain has pretty much gone away, it seems to be getting better by the day. I’m down to one crutch now, and sometimes I find myself walking around without it. I’m hoping to be crutchless next week for the Gopher Women’s Basketball opener.

Yes, Lucia and David got married. I’m going to save this story for another post.

OK this is weird

Snowy Buddha
I mentioned earlier that I had started meditating. I’ve found it very useful in maintaining a good outlook, being positive and resilient. However I am by nature extremely skeptical of new age mystical magical supernatural phenomenon. I don’t believe in ghosts.

I had an experience this week that was, shall I say, unreal. I often use guided meditation, and I particularly like a podcast called Meditation Oasis. The guide, Mary Maddox, has an incredibly soothing voice and she’s really helped me with my practice. The podcast has dozens of meditations for various situations and I recommend it highly.

One of the meditations is for “Morning Energy.” I use it often when I’m starting out my day and I’ve found that it did indeed seem to increase my energy. One of the things she does is to ask you to imagine a center of energy in the middle of your pelvic region. She asks you to imagine it spinning and glowing and absorbing light. These days I mostly experience prostate pain in that region. Weird stuff. Then she asks you to turn your attention to your feet, the soles of your feet and feel the energy flowing up from the “core” (of the universe?) through your feet, up your legs, through your body and up to the “crown chakra” at the top of your head and then feel it shoot out the top of your head like a fountain of energy. C’mon, really?

I did this exercise a few times and experienced some level of increased energy, but I stopped, partly because it just felt a little to “New Age” for my tastes. Then late last week I tried it again. I shifted the way I was trying to imagine that ball of energy and the flow of energy through my body. I’ll be damned if I didn’t have a very vivid experience of those things actually happening! My limbs were twitching as if a rush of energy was flowing through them and I really felt as if it was shooting out of the top of my head and showering down around me like some kind of fireworks display. I had the same experience the next time I tried it. I’ve never experienced anything like it. OK I’ve never experienced anything like it without being under the influence of psychedelics. Hey, I came of age in the late ’60s.

I almost hate to admit this happened, I’m a proud skeptic, after all. I’ve tried this twice since, but I was somewhat distracted and the experience was much less intense. I’m guessing that what was going on here was some sort of self-hypnosis, and I’ll admit that I’m pretty susceptible to suggestion and have always had a vivid imagination.

I will not be packing up for Tibet to go on a year-long silent retreat, a la Sam Harris, anytime soon.

Writing about writing

If you’ve been following this blog… wait, who am I kidding, no one follows this blog. If anyone was actually following this blog and you were that hypothetical person, you would know that I’ve been in a major productivity slump lately. My writing isn’t so much blocked as it’s embedded in concrete. Every time I sit down to write and manage to think of something to write about, my first conclusion is either “That’s not something I want to share with the world,” or “No one in the world would be the least bit interested in that.”

I noticed awhile back that the word “I” shows up a lot in my posts. And I guess I concluded that was a bad thing. I decided I was going to write more about ideas and causes and art and all that important stuff. But then I came to the conclusion that I didn’t really know enough about any of those things for anyone to care what I had to say. After all, no graduate degrees here. I guess that’s the perfect recipe for concrete. Continue reading Writing about writing

It’s like riding a bike.

photo curtesy Jan Willemsencreative commons
photo curtesy Jan Willemsen creative commons

A couple of weeks ago I had a disturbing realization. I can no longer ride a bike. I know, it’s something you’re never supposed to forget, and I’m sure I remember how to spin the twin gyroscopes and keep the contraption upright and moving forward, it’s just that I can’t. My right knee doesn’t bend far enough to push the pedals all the way around, I get stalled at the top of the stroke on that side. Well, I could if I raised the seat high enough, but that would put me in such and awkward position that if I tried to put a foot down when I stopped I’d be in danger of going over.


Continue reading It’s like riding a bike.

Greazy Muzic

600full-aretha-franklinI’m a child of the sixties. Or more accurately, that’s the decade of my adolescence. Curse or blessing, my generation grew up in interesting times. We went from Beaver Cleaver to Easy Rider and Sputnik to the Moon in a little more than a decade. The Times They Are a Changin’  was a fitting anthem for the era. And when Buffalo Springfield sang, “There’s somethin’ happenin’ here, what it is ain’t exactly clear,” they were expressing what was on the minds of most Americans.

Popular music was riding the crest of that wave of change. We were already all shook up coming out of the fifties and were headed to the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. One of the best parts of this long strange trip was the mainstreaming of Black music. The radio stations in my little Western Minnesota town exposed my to the joy of soul music, and that shaped my musical taste for life.

I recently watched the documentary Muscle Shoals, the story of the Muscle Shoals Sound and the tiny Northwestern Alabama town on the Tennessee River where some of the best of that Black music was recorded. Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Aretha, Joe Tex, Clarence Carter and the list goes on all recorded there. And I drove around Moorhead in our Chevy wagon with the windows down and fell in love with Soul. Black Music.

Continue reading Greazy Muzic

Firenado Part 2

fire tornadoNow for the story of the actual firnado encounter. As I mentioned, we’d spent the summer digging line around clearcuts with the intent of doing controlled burns in August.  The time had come, and we were preparing for our first burn of the season.

In a controlled burn your crew is taken to the top of the clearcut and spread out along a logging road with propane torches, kind of like flame throwers, big tanks strapped to your backs. Researching control burn images, I see that these days they use something called drip torches, little cans of flammable material (kerosene?) with long necked spouts. They really don’t know how to have fun anymore. Anyway the crew, about 20 strong, spreads out across the top of the cut and starts moving down the slope, lighting the slash piles as they go. Since file burns uphill, everyone tries to move together and stay on the downhill side of the burn. If you’ve every had a pyromaniacal urge, this is the job for you. Continue reading Firenado Part 2


I’ve seen a coufire tornadople of examples of “firenados” posted around the web lately. That brought me back to my youthful days in the Forest Service,  when I had the opportunity to see some firenados up close and personal. I worked for the US Forest Service in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest back in the summer of 1972. I was just out of college and my pal Bill Benson and I had driven out to Wallace, Idaho to look for work. He was a writer and I was an artist and our plan was to find seasonal work that would allow us chunks of time to follow our creative dreams. Or maybe it was to play basketball all the time, which is more like what we did.

cfiles45216Our initial plan was to work on the only remaining incomplete section of I-90 between Boston and Seattle. The valley that Wallace was in was so steep and narrow that it made the construction of an interstate challenging. At that time if you wanted to drive coast to coast on 90, you would have to drive through downtown Wallace and negotiate the only stop light on the route. Wallace had other claims to fame, at that time the population was about 2,00images0 and there were 5 brothels operating quite openly, in fact they had neon signs.  Mining was the main industry and the ratio of single men to single women in the Silver Valley was way out of proportion. Let’s just say that prostitution was tolerated. The summer I spent in Wallace probably generated more stories than the rest of my life combined. Continue reading Firenado

From the beginning

This post was originally going to be about WordCamp Minneapolis, a meeting of WordPress enthusiasts that took place over the weekend at the downtown St. Thomas campus. People come from all over the world to these events, to learn about WordPress and to rub elbows with other true believers. It’s a great community and I love being a part of it.  I was going to start out with a brief history of how I got into WordPress, and I started thinking about how and when I got into blogging.

Me in 2004
Me in 2004

And that brought me back to Xanga.I ran across the concept of blogging and I’ve always kept journals and kind of fancied myself as a writer so I dug in to find a blogging platform. Not sure how I landed on Xanga, but I think when I did, my kids immediately abandoned it.

Continue reading From the beginning


hairThe barber shop my dad took me to when I was growing up in Moorhead was downtown. It was one of those witch hazel smelling bastions of maleness that are becoming extinct these days, complete with a magazine selection that included Field and Stream, Sports Illustrated, Sport, and Esquire, which in my 10 year old brain was practically pornographic. A few blocks from the river, between the bridges, next to the railroad tracks. Google Earth tells me it’s a travel agency or a coffee shop now. The shop had three chairs. I can remember the guy on the right and the guy in the middle, but I can’s summon up the third barber in my mind. The guy in the middle stands out in my memory because he had bright red, actually orange, hair and pale blue eyes. I thought he was a pretty cool guy, if fact they all had a knack with kids and a trip to the barbershop was a treat in my mind. When I was about 12 years old the redhead had a mild stroke. His chair sat empty for a couple of months and then he came back to work. As I remember it he had some barely noticeable impairments of motion and speech, but seemed to be well recovered. Continue reading Hair