Thursday, March 21, 2019

Restoring Wetlands And My Faith In Humanity

Nothing like clomping through a muddy farm field in March to restore my faith in humanity and remind me how much I like my job. I did just that today as part of a "field trip" of sorts for me and a fellow GIS guy as we followed our friend around for most of the morning.

Alan works in our Land Conservation department and was scheduled to do some GPS data collection as part of his work with the Waukesha County Land Conservancy. Megan, the woman in charge of the project told us the land we were walking on was 57 acres of farm land that was being restored to a wetland.

These wetland restoration projects involve a lot of factors including removing existing drainage ditches, clearing invasive species, planting native plants, etc. Then once the wetland is restored, the wildlife follows.
A Drone Selfie (aka a Dronie!)

So while the main function was to "GPS some points" and learn about how that ties into the mapping, I was more interested in the overall project. It gives my heart great satisfaction knowing there are agencies like the WCLC and people like Megan and her intern Abbie, that are passionate about birds, groundwater, flora and wildlife that is supported by a sound wetland.

As we walked the property, I heard the loud calling of the cranes, saw a hawk circling overhead, saw many deer prints and even heard an owl. It was positively heavenly. Because I live in the city, these are sites and sounds I don't get to hear near enough. I often forget these places exist within 20 minutes of my home. I need to get out more.

GPSing a Well Head.
The other cool part of the day was my coworker flying our drone over the property and taking photos and video. The video will help show a "before" shot of the land from a bird's eye view. They are pretty cool devices and have created another way to collect spatial data at a low cost. The thing was noisy but fun to watch. It got some great footage which I've embedded here.

I can honestly say in 22 years of working at the County, I've only been "in the field" about three times. I realized today how important it is to get out once in a while and see the land I've mapped for 22 years. It is really great to see projects like I saw today and know that GIS plays a small part in helping projects happen.

And I'm still convinced I have the coolest job a guy can have.

Blogging off...

Sunday, March 17, 2019

My Alter Ego

In the ebb and flow of my "other full time job" as a writer/poet, there seems to be a lot going on in the world of poetry lately. As we approach April which is National Poetry Month, I thought I'd run down a little of what's happening.

  • I was asked to fill another year term as Poet Laureate for the Village of Wales. My term was initially scheduled to be up at the end of April. They claim to like my work and my initiatives and asked me if I'd be willing. Of course I agreed. Looking forward to another great year.
  • As part of year two I have a couple of new things I'd like to do to try and increase the awareness of poetry in the. My first thought would be to get the poetry I read at the board meetings every month onto the Village website. 
  • The other idea involves installing "free poetry" dispensers at area coffee shops, bookstores, libraries and other meeting spaces. I heard about the idea being started in Duluth and thought it would be cool at the local level here. See more here

  • I will be the featured poet along with Jane McCarty Osypowski at Suzy's Steak and Seafood restaurant in Portage as part of their Poetry in Portage series. This is a great way to increase my reach and get some good exposure. Looking forward to hearing Jane's work as well.
  • Last night I attended a poetry collection for a friend and colleague, Cristina Norcross. Her book Beauty in The Broken Places has some great work on her struggles during a tough time of her life. (On a side note, it was released by Kelsay Books, the same press that my book will be published on.) She is one of many that I look up to as someone who does a lot for the craft. She is editor of Blue Heron Review online magazine as well as an accomplished poet with multiple books. I always enjoy supporting other writers and poets, because I know how great that feeling is.
  • The contract for, Thoughts From A Line At The DMV, is all signed and sent off to the publisher. I am going through the manuscript to make sure it is in good order. I Still don't have a release date, but will post it when I know it. I hope to showcase a sneak peek at a few up in Portage. 
  • I have a few cover ideas for the book, including using artwork from my Facebook friend and St. Paul native, Walter Jack Savage. I love his work and would be ecstatic if the publisher chooses to use it in some form.
  • The Mama D's poetry series continues to roll. This coming Wednesday features Lisa Marie Brodsky reading from her book Motherlung as well as some of her other work. This series has become part of the duties of the poet laureate position. If you're a poet and interested in reading, please contact me.
  • I continue to submit poetry to various magazines and have a couple of contest entries that I am super hopeful about. These keep me going.
Lots going on. 

All of it good. 

If you get a chance, check it out.

Blogging off...

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Fostering Future Literaries

Yesterday I took part in a Young Adult Writer's Conference at Carroll University, across the street from where I live. Last fall, a friend, Bob Goswitz, author of Dragon Soldier's Good Fortune, asked if I'd be interested in volunteering to help and I thought it sounded like fun. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I am always eager to help other writers succeed.

To put it in perspective, these are Middle School writers who chose to be there as an option. This weeded out the kids who wouldn't be engaged because they didn't want to be there, which makes it a little easier. There were 25 groups or so of 12-15 kids per group. It was a huge undertaking.

We started the day by gathering in the main auditorium for a keynote interview with a successful author of middle grade books, Ali Novak. She gave an inspiring talk on how she started by posting her work to WattPad and before she knew it she was getting hundreds of thousands of readers. She's written 4 books and she even has one that is being considered for making into a movie. Her success makes me look like a mere mortal.

From there we broke into our groups. I was tasked with trying to get to 10 different groups over the course of the 4 hours of writing time. The goal was to have each student get enough of a start on a story for entry into a group publication which would be printed and given to each student.

I have to admit it was an interesting study in watching how students work in 2019. Almost every student had an iPad and many had a cell phone as well. While most worked hard typing in their stories, I saw a few that were distracted by their phones or videos/websites on their iPads. Snapchat, Facebook and texting was all part of the underworld. These are distractions I never had as a kid. The closest I had was a passed note.

But as I said, the classrooms were focused for the most part. It was funny because some rooms were nearly dead silent, and others buzzed with the hopelessly distracted socialite kids. The whole day was a reminder that teachers are a special breed and I am not among that breed.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy working with the kids. There were some incredibly rewarding moments. Like with the three kids that asked me to read their work and give them feedback. I used the opportunity to give them praise where I saw good lines and correction where they needed it. And I have to tell you I was surprised at the quality of a couple of their pieces. Stories of zombies, body image as it relates to social acceptance, some poetry, kidnapping and jail and lots of others. Good stuff.

And then there was the moment when we were walking back to the auditorium and a little guy named Justin and I struck up a conversation. After a few minutes, he said, "Could I get your autograph?"

Well, shucks, sure kid!

I scrawled out a note that just encouraged him to keep writing. He said he'd always wanted an autograph from an author. It was sorta humbling.

At the end of the day, Bob Goswitz and I had a chance to go on stage and field some questions from the whole assembly of kids. They asked some great questions, despite the fact that Bob and I are essentially deaf and had to ask them to repeat each question. (Ambient noise didn't help, though.)
Post Conference Author Q & A with Landwehr/Goswitz

It was another day of sub-atomic micro fame as I like to call it. But this one was rewarding in ways I didn't expect. I came away feeling like if there is even one student in the group that came away with a passion for the craft, we'll have done our job.

I also wish I had this opportunity as a kid. What a great chance to soar. Who knows where I would be if I had that level of encouragement at that level?

Blogging off...

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Trying Not To Act My Age

I write this from the home of my father and mother in-law's living room. We are here in small-town Gorham, New York for a 3 day visit with my wife's parents. It is a big trip, a 12 hour drive. We didn't make it back for the holidays and wanted to get back. Her mother is battling dementia and has good days and bad days.

I came into the weekend with great apprehension. Frankly, I was worried that she wouldn't remember me. There are days she doesn't remember her daughter or her husband. So, to bring "the son in-law" who she hasn't seen in over a year, I was expecting the worst. Couple that with some stories of her getting flustered and angry and, well, I had low hopes for the weekend.

Well, it has been a really good stay. Really good.

We have had some good laughs as a family. My mother in-law has been extremely pleasant to be around. Of course there are the repeated questions, "How old are your kids, now? How long does it take you to get here? Where do you live, again?" I also went from being Jim, to "the tall guy" to someone she didn't know or want to.

I knew these moments would happen and both my wife and I answer with politeness. We are here to enjoy her company and to love her. There are moments of great clarity and tenderness mixed in with those of confusion. Dementia is a horrible disease and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Then, last night we had dinner with a friend who went to college with my wife. I haven't seen her in nearly 29 years. She is a university professor with a specialty in deaf geography. (Studying the evolution of American Sign Language, from European to America. We had a nice dinner filled with laughter, reminiscing and catching up. We picked up where we'd left off.

But the weekend has reminded me of my mortality and my own aging as well. I've taken a couple of long walks down the country roads of my wife's hometown and it has caused a little introspection. As I passed her old house, I thought of the memories and times we had there with our kids and their cousins.

As I walked, Rod Stewart's song, Forever Young came on and I thought it was incredibly ironic given all that I'd been a part of over the past few days. None of us are getting younger. Yet, age is also a state of mind, and that is as important as any of it. Despite a few nagging owwies, I still feel young. And there were some great lyrics to the song.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you

-From, "Forever Young," by Rod Stewart.

Later, I got an ear worm from another band, the Chameleons. It is weird how these things come into my head, but again, the song had some poignant lyrics for my weekend.

Where are we?
First and last, bound together in our past
Much too cruel, much too fast
Much too quick to anger
I suppose, years ago, years ago
I might have known
I suppose
Years ago
Traps laid bare in my face
Said to keep me in my place
Waved goodbye to the child
and life it seems is colder
-From, "Thursday's Child" by, The Chameleons
So as I drive back to Wisconsin, I will have much to ponder. Not the least of which, is enjoying time with family when I can, taking care of my health and my spouse and making the big trip when the big trip needs to be made.

Blogging off...

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Creative State

I sometimes hear people say, "I'm not creative" or "My brain doesn't work the same way as creatives do." I am still trying to figure out if this declaration is legitimate or just a cop out, a sign of laziness.

And I think I've come to the conclusion, that it may be very similar to the thought that "I've never been good at math," a thought that I often fall back on. In my own situation, I can write a ten page paper without a second thought. 

But ask me to divide a fraction or figure out a decimal and you'll see a slow and steady glazing over of the eyes followed by a wrinkling of the nose. I remember looking at my son's calculus notebook in high school and instantly rocketing him to the status of genius, compared to his flunkie dad. Does my lack of math skill make me a bad person? No. Just gifted in different ways.

And I do mean gifted. I feel everyone has gifts in different things, and not just tangible skills like reading, writing, arithmetic, but even skills of the interpersonal or communicative sort. These skills carry as much weight in the real world as some of the head skills, IMHO.

Because of my involvement in my writing circles and my friend group, I am surrounded by creatives of all sorts. Just a few of them here:

Sara: is an artist that not only is a beautiful, loving person, but an artist whose gift of blending colors and lines is positively breathtaking. She experiments with mixing photography and paint and it makes for some stunning pieces. My idea of color blending in dark blue pants and a light blue shirt. People with an artistic eye like this see the world differently.

Mark: is a community theater actor/thesepian whose comfort level and confidence on stage almost precedes that of his real life. Something in him changes when he gets in front of the spotlight. He emotes, sings, dances and makes it all look easy. The thought of going up there like that sorta mortifies me.
Summer: is a writing colleague that has not only written half a dozen YA fantasy novels, but has written Fan Fiction that has seen sales levels that I can only dream about. This past week her numbers on Kindle surpassed 100,000 books sold, with 60,000 of those coming in the past year. Phenomenal. She is one of those people gifted with words for a compelling story and a knack for pushing out books. She gets it.

Nick: is a musician friend of mine that is proficient at multiple instruments. Guitar, harmonica, organ and drums. He's got a great voice and can write his way around a song better than most. This ability to play an instrument while singing is like trying to rub your belly and pat your head. I can barely listen to music and walk at the same time. Gifted beyond belief.

Brandon: is a photographer friend whose pictures rarely fail to drop my jaw. His knack for spaces, perspectives, shadow and light is nothing short of a gift. He sees things other people do not.

This list is not meant to leave others out. I know far too many to list. You know who you are. This short list though, does give a good feel for the breadth of styles that creativity can take.

Even cooler are those artists who are gifted at two forms. Many of my writing friends are not only  great writers, but really good artists. These hyper-creatives are from another planet, I think.

Creativity, like math skills, is something everyone is capable of, in my opinion. I think those that tap into it with curiosity and a desire to be better at it can become better at it. I also think that there are some people with innately better propensities for expression and creative output. It doesn't make the rest of us that don't any worse, but it sure helps me appreciate them even more.

Blogging off...

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Working At It

So, I've been fairly quietly shopping around my latest poetry collection, Thoughts From A Line At The DMV, to various publishers. I had it out to 14 different small presses in two different forms, a full collection and a pared-down chapbook. A few of the submissions required a "reading fee" and a couple were contests. These are always exciting times once a submission  has been sent, a time of waiting and expectancy.

On Tuesday, I got an email with the subject "Kelsay Books acceptance." Now, it's hard to describe the excitement at seeing an email like that in my inbox. I opened it to opening lines which read:

"Thank you for your excellent poetry submission, Thoughts From A Line At The DMV. We would love to publish your book!"

Well, someone pinch me.

The details are very sketchy at this early stage, but I do know that it should be published sometime in 2019. I also know that Kelsay Books is a highly respected publisher of quality, beautiful books. I am lucky to be working with them. It is dreamlike.

I can say that the book is comprised of 50 poems and they are among some of my best. Many of them have been previously published in magazines and journals, which is always a selling point when marketing a full collection. There is a fair amount of humor, some serious bits and even a few sad ones.

Poetry to me has become my tool for becoming a better nonfiction writer. It forces me to be a minimalist with my words and allows for a whole lot more creativity than straight creative nonfiction. And for a guy who always said he really didn't consider himself a poet, well, I've scrapped that thought. I can't imagine not writing it at some level. It gives me a satisfaction just like my nonfiction does.

That's not to say it's all good. The other night I opened Microsoft Word with the intention of writing a poem and after 15 minutes and two crappy lines, I shut the computer off and went to bed. It just wasn't there.

And the next day I started to fret about "losing my edge," and oh my God, what if I never write another good poem again? The jig is up!

The following evening night I managed to write a heart wrencher that reminded me that everything has a time and a place. We all have our good days and our bad days.

So now I will be publishing my sixth book in 5 years as a writer - granted, four of them are poetry books, so that's kind of cheating. Frankly, I'm kind of at a loss to describe how good this makes me feel. It has boosted my confidence in myself as a writer and a person. None of it is for lack of effort, but I also owe it to my family and an incredible network of creative people around me. The encouragement I get from family and friends, energizes me and keeps me plugging. So, thank you. You know who you are.

At the same time, I'm working hard at it because I know time is short. None of us owns tomorrow, so I want to write like there is none. I still say this is the legacy the death of my brother Rob left to me. We need to live hard, love harder and take each day for the blessing it is.

Blogging off...

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Home Defined

This past week I received an email from an old neighbor that lived with us on Portland Avenue. He'd somehow come across my book, The Portland House. His letter was complimentary in nature. One of his quotes read,

"We laughed, we teared up, we learned a great deal about your family and our neighborhood."
"Home," then and now. Portland on left, College on right

Additionally it was filled with his own memories of the neighbors we had as well as some of his experience. I remembered most of the neighbors, but his experiences were his own. He went on to say he still lives in the area and thanked me for the look-back.

Then, I was asked to review a forthcoming book of poetry by, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. The collection was about life in Appalachia. While the collection is well written, the thing that impressed me the most was a line about how the author had started a new life yet kept thinking about "home." One of the stanzas that caught my eye, reads:

"I sailed around the world only to find
that I am now the one left behind,
without an anchor, haunted
and homesick for a home

that no longer exists."

-from Solastalgia, by V.C. McCabe 

I think that description holds true for any of us. Home is both where we are right now and where we came from, not to mention where we will be.

But what jumped out was that we cannot go back. Our home, as it once existed, will never exist again. I realize this every time I drive past the house on Portland. The house is different, the neighborhood is different, the city is different.

Yet it will always be "home" to me. It obviously meant something to my old neighbor, as well. Our sense of home is something no one can take from us. We tend to romanticize it and see past the bad and there is nothing wrong with that. As I sit here in my Waukesha home, I am fully aware that my kids' "home" will soon be under the ownership of someone else. (Don't worry, it's a ways from being on the market. LOL)

So I hold it loosely and look forward to my next home. And I am certain there will be times when I'll be homesick for this "home" that no longer exists.

Blogging off...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Running It Down

Things have been active and changing on the writing front these past few months. Winter seems to give me more time to write, submit, edit and stare off into space waiting for the next line. That last part is where I probably spend 50% of my "productive time."

Sometimes it only becomes apparent how many plates I have spinning when I step back and take a look at all that I'm doing. I tend to add things one at a time and before long they add up. Here's a rundown of all things written.

  • I was recently asked to be part of the Program Committee for the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books. This committee organizes one of the bigger book conferences in the state. It looks like I'll be part of the Authors in the Schools portion of the committee, but it is also nice to be behind the scenes and have input on how the conference is constructed.
  • I was also asked to be the nonfiction judge for the Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring Contest. This will entail reading a number of manuscripts and picking a winner and some runner ups. It is something I've never done before, but I was honored to be asked. Things like these remind me that I have arrived, to a certain extent.
  • The book about my high school experience continues to move forward. I've slowed on the new content and am focusing on a good edit. I am probably about 60,000 words deep into it. I want to get it ready for my return to an AllWriters workshop. I've taken a couple of sessions off and it has given me time to recharge and focus a little more intently on poetry.
  • Along those lines, I am currently marketing my latest poetry collection to a number of publishers. This is a mix of nervous hopefulness. It is a full collection (about 45 poems) but I am also shopping a smaller version out as a chapbook. We shall see.
  • In the past two weeks I've had 5 different acceptances of my poetry in 5 different journals and magazines. This is about as good as it gets. 
  • The Portland House got a great review from Mary Ann Grossmann in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press today. Check it out here
  • I also had a nonfiction piece accepted by Story News, which is very exciting. This is a pair of parallel stories about racism and hatred in America over the past 50 years. 
  • In March I will be part of a Middle School young writers symposium at Carroll University. My friend Bob Goswitz set it up and I'm fuzzy on details, but it sounds fun!
  • In April I will be one of two featured poets in Portage Wisconsin as part of their Poetry In Portage series. Should be some decent exposure to a new region of the state.
  • I'm still carrying out my duties as Poet Laureate for the Village of Wales, Wisconsin. As part of that, I organize the Poetry Nights at Mama D's Coffee in Wales. We were fortunate to land Wisconsin's newest Poet Laureate, Margaret Rozga as the featured poet this coming Wednesday, February 20th. It should be a packed house!
  • Over the past few months I've read at a couple of Bards Against Hunger events. These feature poets who contributed to the Bards Against Hunger anthology and are designed to raise food and funds for local food shelters. I intend to set up one of these events for Mama D's in Wales for June or July of this year. They are a great cause. Poetry trying to change the world in a small way.
  • I've had a couple of nice emails and reviews about The Portland House from people that used to live in the neighborhood. It is always good to hear feedback about my books and I can't emphasize enough how much an Amazon review helps an author. 
  • I was part of an interview for Brain Hackers last week. They talked to me about my writing process a bit. I'll post a link when it is live.
So, yeah, there's a lot going on at the moment. I love all of it and wouldn't trade it for anything. There are days I feel like I'm running blindfolded through a cornfield though. 

But I will keep plugging.

Blogging off...

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy To Be Here

So as a few of my last posts allude to, I am powering through this winter trying with all my might to make it through to ice-out so I can get my kayak back in the water and find my zen. It is a grueling stretch of winter for me and my better half. We have each other to laugh through the looming "Winter Storm Warning." so that counts for something.

On Tuesday we got another 8-10 inches or so. I woke up early as I often do the night after a storm and set to work on the driveway and walk. About 3/4 of the way through the process, I twisted wrong and blew out my oblique muscle. It is right below my rib cage on the back side and I knew it was bad when I did it.

I treated it with ice, Naproxen and an Epsom salt bath. It seems slightly better today, but I suspect the healing will take a while.

But the untold benefit of it was that even in my pain, I realize how good my life is and how lucky I am. My wife was nice enough to finish up the shoveling and followed up a time or two as the snow kept falling.

And while I realize this is no fun, I also know it will heal and I will be fine. There's others with chronic pain who will not heal, so I am fortunate. I will take my good health less for granted when I am back to full strength.
Me, being happy.

Also, while winter is bad, it too shall pass. I have a house with a furnace, two cars and all the modern conveniences a person could want. I am content. I absolutely do not take for granted that I am among the top 10% of the richest people in the world. THE WORLD. Most Middle Class Americans are. I work hard and hope I can bless others along the way. But I also know how easily it can be swept away and hope I would still retain my joy and sense of urgency about every day I am given.

The other night I got a random text from my son that simply read; "Goodnight Dad. Love ya!"

My kids seem to know the best times to drop reminders of how much I am loved. I love the fact that they make it a priority, even after not hearing from them for a series of days. We're all busy, but never should be too busy to send a three word text.

I'm one of those guys that can also honestly say I love my job. I work with great people and we all maximize the others' skills. It is energizing to be around young, motivated co-workers.

I don't know why this post went this way. There are days, more and more frequently, when I just look around at everything that life has given me and am incredibly awed by how fortunate I am to be a part of the world today. Oh sure, the times are not perfect - the world is full of problems - but there is a whole lot, a WHOLE lot of beauty, and joy, and positivity and happiness around us as well. And I try and tap into that every chance I can get. Because life is short and negativity is life sucking.

I wonder if these realizations aren't part of some sort of mid-life crisis or something? Or does everyone experience them? I remember I was happy at 30, but I'm not sure I was this wistfully happy about just being granted another day, one at a time. That must come with grey hair and an empty nest.

In any case I'm going to run with it. Because it's February and spring is just around the corner.

Blogging off...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Grinding It Out

Well, it's finally happened. It's that time of year when I am officially done with winter. DONE. We had the most boring super bowl game ever and now with regards to sports, I have nothing to look forward to until next fall's football season. To add to that, the quirkiness of the weather we've had the past few weeks has pushed me right over the edge.

The problem is, we still have 38 days until the official 1st day of spring (March 20th.)

This seems entirely too long, but at least we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. When this time of year hits, I fall into my power-through-it mode.

Having said that there are some things I pledge to between now and then to get me through it.


  • Continue to drag myself out of bed in relative darkness, do my stretching, and drink my coffee as I plow through my workdays. Work is good. Well, it's warmer than my house, anyway.

  • Keep over dressing to almost clownish proportions at home on the cold days. This includes rotating through my 4 fleeces, wearing my Stormy Kromer hat at night to keep my head warm and a scarf. Yes, a scarf indoors. Looking good, I am sure. 
  • Skate to work on this godforsaken skating rink that we've been blessed with after the last freezing rain/ice storm. I'm waiting for the first big fall of the season, so stay tuned. 
  • Take my dog for extremely short walks. He looks at me and guilts me into taking him out into near zero weather. Most times we get to the end of the driveway and he stops, looks at me and says "Nah, I think I'm good." We went out on the ice yesterday and he was sliding all over the place. Good for a laugh if nothing else.
  • Drink tea. I don't drink a lot of tea from March to November, but in winter IT HELPS.
  • Take my Vitamin D. Sunshine in a pill. IT HELPS!
  • Stay as busy with activities in writing, poetry and church group activities as I can. They get me out of my chair/scarf/Kromer and keep me intellectually engaged.
  • Salting and shovelling as needed. However I am about three weeks from my give up point where I say, "It'll melt" and quit shovelling altogether. Everyone gets to that point.
  • Keep attending outdoor shows and watching fishing videos. It's hard to believe the lakes will ever thaw, but it happens I'm told. And when it does, I'll fish again. The Milwaukee Musky Expo is next weekend. I'm planning on it.
  • Continue to blog about how much I hate winter. Because, IT HELPS.
  • Keep checking out books from the library. Those late night hours (after it gets dark at 5:00) can make for some serious reading time. Just finished William Kent Krueger's book Thunder Bay and am currently working on Ram Dass' book, Grist for the Mill and, Grounded: Finding God In The World by Dr. Diana Butler Bass and The Sun magazine which I read cover to cover every issue.
  • Finish my binge-watching of Schitt's Creek on Netflix. I should pick a series every winter and plow through it like I've done with this one. Between it and NFL football, it is the sum total of my TV watching.
  • Ski. If we get another decent snowfall I may even cross-country ski one more time. Maybe, yeah. Unless its to cold/rainy/dark/warm/deep. So, maybe.

Before I know it, it will be March 20th. I keep telling myself this and I know it's much longer than that until "real spring" hits but IT HELPS.

Blogging off...

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Home Pet Surgery Meets The Civil War

It has been a strange week of weather round these parts. We started with an 8 inch snowfall last Monday, followed by polar vortex 50 below wind chills mid week followed by 40+ temps for a few days, followed by a freezing rain/ice storm.

I mention it because it is how our discussion began over coffee this morning with my coffee buddies. As I've mentioned, we meet every Thursday, as an informal book study, one that sometimes doesn't get to the book at all. In fact as a preparatory text last night Claude, the guy who kind of rallies folks every Wednesday evening, said that Thursday's discussion would be Chapter 4 which was mandatorily optional. That's sort of how we roll.

For no one reason, I really love this hour of the week. I love the randomness and the deep thinking and the laughter that it brings. It's like scrolling through Twitter for an hour, but way better.

Today's discussion took a winding road. We went from the weird weather to:

One of the guys' books that was beat up and highlighted in complete with worn pages. He said he bought it on Amazon in "Good" condition. We agreed it was good compared to maybe the other books in the basement that this one was in with. That led to,

  • the same guy saying that during the cold weather last week he looked out his window to see his a house burning in his subdivision. That led to,

  • Claude speculating that it was a fire caused by dryer lint. He said you can buy endoscopes to see through dryer vents. That led to,

  • Randy saying that you could probably do home pet surgeries using the endoscopes. That led to,
  • Me saying, "We're only looking for a few polyps, Toby." Which led to,
  • Someone redirecting our attention back to the book. We talked about Monastic life and how people are leaving organized church and religion in record numbers and why was that? Which led to,
  • Each of us speculating about our kids and how we brought them up through the church, but at some point you have to let them go and be themselves and hope that some of it stuck. This led to,
  • Someone else directing us to how the language of this book, written in the '70s was changed in subsequent editions to take out the '70s colloquialisms like the "far outs" and "heavy". This led to,
  • Nick, the guy with the 70s copy saying that he never understood why books written in a dialect needed to be neutered or changed. That they were a reflection from the period. Which led to,
  • Me asking if that is similar to tearing down statues of Robert E. Lee in order to rewrite history. (I was playing devil's advocate). This practically raised a guy out of his chair when he said,
  • Lee, like Benedict Arnold was treasonous and you don't see a lot of Benedict Arnold statues around. His point was that while the statue is gone, the history of both men is still there. It is just not adored of idolized. Which led to,
  • Me mentioning that I'd been to Stone Mountain which has a huge high relief etching on it of Robert E. Lee on it, and how do we erase that? Which led to,
  • Claude saying how he'd melted a camera while photographing something in his foundry one day.

And on and on. 

Stone Mountain - Georgia

It is a caffeine-fueled, philosophical, goofy, challenging, mind-bending, working out of the world's problems, personal issues, political corruption and spiritual growth all rolled up in the name of a book study. 

It's the best hour of the work week. 

Blogging off...

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Cooking 101

Last night as part of my wife's corporate holiday party, we were treated to a cooking class at Braise restaurant in Milwaukee. For those that don't know, my wife works at Purple Door Ice Cream in Milwaukee. It is owned by two of the coolest people going, Lauren and Steve Schultz. Every year as a recognition to their staff, they have a post-holiday party of sorts to recognize the hard work of their staff.

So when it was announced that this year we would be spending the evening in a class where we learned how to cook a couple of appetizers which we would then eat, I was both intrigued and a little mortified.

You see, I'm not much of a cook.

Oh, I can get by and am capable of the basics, but as a rule, it is really not my thing. I can do it, but to me it is drudgery and work. I know it's weird, but it has never been something that "relaxes me" like it does for my wife.

Well, at the class, there were six cooking stations with 3 people to a station and a chef up front doing all the instructing. We were going to make two Asian dishes. 1. Fried Pot Stickers and, 2. Spring Rolls. I was at a station with my wife and her brother and his partner. Somehow they agreed that I should do most of the up front work, as it would be good to learn.

And I know it is completely stupid and unfounded, but I was worried and a little stressed out about it. I didn't want to mess up, and I knew I was beside a couple of amazing cooks (my wife and Jake) and an amazing baker (Mark). Me, well, I do a really good grilled cheese - when I'm not burning it.

Well, thankfully these sessions are extremely well scripted. And, also thankfully, you can drink beer while you're cooking. For starters, all the ingredients were set before us ahead of time, in the amount they were to be used.

Then, he talked us through everything and I had big help from the two cooks to my left. Once I got into the swing of things, the anxiety went down and I actually found it kind of interesting. At the same time, it is very much like art, in that you have to know what goes well with what, as well as a good idea of what the end result will taste (or look) like. At one point he was squeezing limes into a spring roll mix to introduce acid into the mix to do something or other. That's the kind of stuff I wouldn't intuitively do, though could probably learn over time.

We got to eat our dishes and both of them were really, really delicious.

It was a great time with some fun people. I could almost see myself taking to cooking more if I took some more classes in it. I would likely be treading on my wife's territory though, as she sort of takes over a kitchen. I will be completely honest, I was well aware of her cooking savvy when we married and I haven't regretted one minute of it.

Even if it has perhaps squelched my own experimentation with cooking.

And on a related note, it is really cool to see my kids Sarah and Ben both starting to get into cooking in a big way. Ben will actually cook meals at his apartment and sell them to his roommates. It is a win-win for both. Sarah and Sam are also into it including getting a few knives and pans for Christmas gifts, because they like it so much.

Food is the great unifier. And last night I learned it can be a lot of fun.

Blogging off...

Thursday, January 31, 2019

I Cantarctica

But hey, it's sunny.
It's a little cold where I live.

Just a bit.

Most of the Midwest is in the grips of another polar vortex. These are weather events caused by aberrations in the jet stream which are caused by melting polar ice, which is caused by too much carbon in our atmosphere, which is caused by years of fossil fuel burning, etc, etc.

And I don't care what your stance is on global warming, I do know that this pretty much sucks whatever is causing it. (From my perspective, I agree it's caused by what they say it is, but that's my editorial perspective.)

Yesterday and today temps hovered around -25 Fahrenheit with a feel-like of -45.

As you may know, my house is 97 years old. It breathes like a bag of onions in the winter. While this transfer of interior air to the outside might be good for air quality, it makes it just a tad drafty in here. My workplace closed the past two days due to the temps, so I have been on modified house arrest. Yesterday I managed to start the car and run it for 5 minutes, but otherwise did not leave the house for fear of death.

Today is much the same.

So the dog is in a deep depression and has mastered doing his duty in 14 seconds on three legs. He looks at me when he's doing it with a look of "What the hell is going on out here?" I know, buddy. It sucks for me too, although I'm not peeing in a snowbank.

It also makes for some interesting dress around the house. At the moment, mine involves long underwear, a Stormy Kromer hat, lots of fleece and a scarf.
Don't judge.

Yes, a scarf.


It is not pretty.

The chair I sit in is near the stairs and the draft coming from upstairs blows right down my back. The scarf helps. Any sense of fashion has taken a back seat to what I call "gettin' through this".

When I start the car, it whines and makes noises I've never heard before. When I took it out this morning, it felt like the wheels were square. I'm certain they flattened on the edge that was on the pavement.

They were like Lego wheels.

We were also told to change our thermostat to Hold at 68 degrees. So our furnace has been running almost constantly for 3 days. Thankfully it is only three years old. At the immediate moment, I love my Carrier.

Yesterday, Wisconsin was colder than Antarctica. And not even a penguin to show for it.

We have rolled-up towels at the base of both the front and back doors to slow down the influx of frigid air. The cats are camped out in front of the heat vent, Toby the Dog is in a deep canine depression and Donna and I are living each moment waiting for the next furnace cycle to blow warm air again.

It was so cold that when I made a video of throwing boiling water to the air, some of it splashed on my hand and literally did not hurt. No damage done.

It ain't right, people.

And from an entertainment standpoint, there is only so much Netflix and Facebooking a person can do. I miss the outdoors. I miss walking. And I sure as heck miss shorts and my bike. That day might never come again.

The last time we had a Polar Vortex was in 2014 and I managed to get frostbite on my fingertips to the point where they get cold/numb fairly quickly now. So I've been here before and know to stay put.

And so I look ahead to the future. Saturday is supposed to be 40. FORTY! Four Zero. ABOVE! Sunday is 43, Monday is Forty eight. I might go kayaking! Paint the garage! Rake the lawn!

Until then though, I'll be here in my scarf.

Blogging off...

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Pattern For Change

Yesterday I took in two hours of the 25th Annual Woodland Pattern poetry marathon. This event is a fundraiser to sponsor programming for Woodland Pattern Bookstore throughout the year.

The way the event works is people are asked to get sponsors to donate on behalf of them, then they read for 5 minutes during an hour that they sign up to read in. Personally I think it is the perfect event for someone who says they don't like poetry. The reason being, you are exposed to such a broad range of poetry styles and poet personalities, that if you don't like someone, just wait 5 minutes and you'll get to hear someone else. It's a poetic smorgasbord.

I actually read at one of their events about 5 years ago as part of an AllWriters' sponsored hour. I remember being super nervous. It was the event where I joked that I was Wisconsin's tallest poet and someone from the audience with a slightly less disjointed sense of humor corrected me and said he knew of someone taller.

Hence my moniker as "Wisconsin's second tallest poet." (Again, it's a joke. Really.)

Huston passes the torch to Rozga
This event featured the induction of a new Poet Laureate for the State of Wisconsin. Margaret Rozga was named the 2019/2020 poet laureate, replacing Karla Huston. Margaret was part of the Father Groppi protests of the late 60's and has always been a voice for racial justice and unity. As someone said yesterday, I cannot think of a better person to be holding the post at this point in our divided country's troubled present. She will be amazing.

The hours I was present featured a group of my colleagues from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets as well as multiple past Wisconsin Poet Laureates. It was some of Wisconsin's finest all gathered in one room.

Anyway, the two hours I was there were really inspiring. It is clear that poets have a passion for the world, for our children, for the pain of life and for the beauty of all of it. There were gay and lesbian, young and old, fat and thin, and, yes, short and tall. Like anyone, I liked some better than others.

One poem in particular by Bob Hanson stuck with me. It was titled Symbiosis and it talked about the interrelated nature of everything and was very much on point.
Marilyn Taylor

But there were too many good ones to talk about There were poems on politics, the environment, death, life, social justice, gender and age issues, nature, work, travel and on and on.

The message of many of them though was we need to treat each other and the world with more respect. We need to stop hurting and do something ABOUT the hurting. We need to stop oppressing and do something FOR the oppressed. We need to stop worrying about the environment and do something to HELP it.

It is too bad that these voices were contained to a small room in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee. The messages should be required listening for every politician and military leader in the city/state/country.

And while some would argue that the words will not have any effect on changing the world, I would beg to differ. The words changed some of the people in the room, myself included, and those people can then go out and change the world in some small way.

I, for one, plan to be part of that change.

Blogging off...

P.S. Margaret Rozga will be reading from her book Pestiferous Questions at Mama D's in Wales on February 20th at 7:00 as part of their featured poet series. Don't miss it!

Wisconsin Fellowship of Poet Readers @ WP Poetry Marathon

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Cars, Crowns And Colonoscopies

So my 23 year old daughter bought her first car this week. She is in living up in Minneapolis and recently moved out of college and into her own apartment. While she was a student, mass transit worked just fine for her, but now she needs a car to get to work among other things.

Now, it's hard to say I ever had a pleasant car purchase experience. Ever.

But here's the deal. It sucks but it's part of life. It's part of being an adult. I rank it right up there with a colonoscopy or a dental crown on the fun scale. I'd sooner get blasted by a fire hose, frankly.

I hate looking for cars. I hate test drives. I hate negotiations. I hate pushy salesmen.  I hate pushier finance guys I hate the paperwork and I hate sitting in sterile cubicles of salesmen who are likely looking for another job.

Some people get a charge out of a new car. I am not one of those. To me, a car is a good way to get from here to there. Simpler is better, but hey, if I have to have seat warmers and a back up camera, well I guess that'll be okay.

For starters, she was looking on Craigslist. That was until she fell for a scam deal that was a "spoof sale" by a well know scammer. She didn't send the scammer any money but she did get a fake-O email saying how this owner was willing to get rid of the low mile vehicle for cheap because her "husband" died of a heart attack and the car gave her bad memories. To my daughter's credit, she googled the woman's name and found out other had been scammed by the same email. The whole experience was a good cautionary exercise for her. People are nasty sometimes.

So when she started sending me pictures of cars from legitimate dealers, I started to get all defensive of my daughter. I wanted to be there to help keep the salesman and finance guy from fleecing her for the "extended warranty-undercoating-seal coating-scotchguarding".

Because, she's my daughter see. She's my little girl, right? And she's a good person. Treat her nice you snakes! And if you don't I'm gonna come up there and talk to you.

But because I live 5 hours away, this wasn't really something I could do. Plus, there is the whole life skills element of it. I bought my first car at her age and got fleeced. They sold me stuff like insurance and an extended warranty that I did not need. It made me physically sick because my payment was $50 more a month than I expected when I bought the thing. I actually went back and had them take off some items to get it back to where it should have been all along.

On the night she bought it she texted me that the salesman was "a nice guy, very helpful."

To which I said, I believed her but she should wait till the finance guy talks to her. THEY'RE the problem. (Having just bough a new car ourselves a month ago.)

The next text read:

"Oh boy, you were correct, the salesman was very nice but then we got the old man strong arm trying to sell me paint coatings and windsheild coatings and dancing monkeys for my dashboard and hamster wheels for my engine."

I laughed hard! Welcome to reality, babe. May the force be with you.

To her credit, she didn't bend on any of it and got away with an affordable payment and a 2010 Honda Fit.

More importantly though, she got a life lesson in pushy salesmen and the bureaucratic nightmare that goes into a car sale.

Blogging off...

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Kansas City Here I Come...

My friend and I have this ongoing joke about the Kansas City Chiefs football team. It dates all the way back to 1989 or so when Marty Schottenheimer was the head coach and guys like Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and Christian Okoye (aka the Nigerian Nightmare) were making a name for themselves.

Bill in the CAD room at Intelligraphics circa 1989ish.
At the time, the Packers were pretty brutal, so I was big on watching teams that showed a little promise. The Buffalo Bills were my in-laws' team and were really good with Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith and the rest. I loved to watch them but they lived to disappoint, much like my Vikings did back in the 70's with all those super bowl flops.

But I remember seeing the Chiefs and thinking this team was really something. Back then I was working at Intelligraphics Inc, a sweatshop employer in Waukesha focused on utility mapping for phone, electric and gas utilities. I had a good friend, Bill Lee who worked there too. We went to the same gym and made jokes about our weightlifting abilities. And on those weeks where we got our dime raises for the year, we'd take it out on the heavy bag.
Derrick Thomas

One time at the gym we were talking football and I said, "KC is the team to watch. Mark my word!" Bill thought that was kind of prophetic or something and we both had a good laugh about it. As they quickly bowed out of the playoff race that year, Bill reminded me, "Hey, KC. Team to watch. Mark my word."

Well, after Bill took another job somewhere else and we sort of lost touch. On occasion when I'd run into him, he said, "Hey Jimbo. KC. Team to watch?" To which I replied, "Mark my word." We'd both have a good laugh and go our own ways until next time.

Years passed and we got back into touch through the magic of Facebook. We've gone out to lunch a few times, hung out, collaborated on a couple of book trailers and even watched a Packer game together a few years ago.

So, for every year the Chiefs have been in the playoffs, including 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, I've sent him text messages saying, KC. Team to watch. Mark my word."
Christian Okoye

Without fail, EVERY YEAR they seem to find a new way to lose in the playoffs. The two of us have a good laugh and wait until the following fall. Then, when they win their opener, I start the texts again. "Hey. KC..."

Well, this year the Chiefs have ratcheted it up a notch and are one game away from the Super Bowl. They look better than all the other Chiefs teams I've seen over the years, so I think this might be the year. Mark my words.

I do know that if they win today, against the evil empire New England Patriots, I will have to go to lunch with my friend Bill, for Reuben sandwiches at our favorite deli downtown, to laugh and strategize on how we're going to pull them through the big game. Because it's been a few years since a team I cared about was playing in the Super Bowl. (Packers, 2010 for the win.)

So, today I'll say it again.

"KC. Team to watch. Mark my word."

And this time I mean it.

Blogging off...

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Dealing With It

It seems I'm approaching that angsty time of winter where I exude my discontent with darkness and cold weather. Yesterday I saw the forecast calling for snow and possibly some sort of "Polar Vortex Split" that is going to throw parts of the country into a deep freeze.

This is not happy news. Neither item.

Now, understand that we have had a weak winter thus far. A little cold in November and December, but almost no snow. Literally none on the ground right now and it is mid January. So, what am i griping about? I mean really, it could be worse.
January 17th, 2019. Wha?

These past few years have been adjustment years for me. I have begun to give into slowing down during the winter months. For eight months of the year I am outside as much as I can be. It always made me angsty to be cooped up like this, but I'm growing into it. I think the winter season is a reminder that we need to rest and recoup.

One of the biggest adjustments has been heading to bed and shutting the lights out earlier. I have this warped sense of needing to "be productive" until 10 o'clock every night, particularly in regards to my writing. So, giving that up at 9 o'clock to go up and read has taken some work. You know what though?

I really, really like it.

Besides, I think to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. I'm just doing what I believe in, right? I need to stop feeling guilty for slowing down for a few months.

I've also learned that I can still be active (weight lifting instead of biking) without being outdoors. Lifting weights is about as benign and boring activity ever invented, but I had to do something or gain thirty pounds instead. (Step away from the eggnog!)

And if nothing else, it IS staying lighter with each passing day, so that's some serious hope I'm going to latch onto and run with. There's something like 63 days till spring, so yeah, that's another point of light.

I'm also trying to appreciate the here and now a little more. We talk about it every week at coffee, both my Thursday group of guys and my Saturday coffee with my wife. As much as it's hard to see in the day-to-day grind, every day really is a gift. How we use it determines our happiness, so I'm going to try and take each one as far as I can and quit my grumbling.

Blogging off...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Other Peoples' Kids

I don't often talk about my nieces and nephews, but I have a whole lot of them. One of them, Alison, just graduated from Winona State University and it spurred me to think of how much I appreciate them. Each has their own unique gifts, personality and demeanor.

Because my sisters started their families first, with quite a break before my brothers and I did, there is almost two generations of nieces and nephews. My sisters' kids are all in their thirties and forties, while my brothers and I all have kids that are twenty-somethings.
The coolest thing is they all get along great. My kids love their cousins and really enjoy being around them. They grew up together. They are like the siblings you visit a few times a year. My son Ben even went so far as to say that at Christmas Eve he felt cheated, that we all had to leave by 10:30 PM, so he didn't get enough time with his cousins. That is when you know you did a good job exposing your kid to their cousins.

3 of four of my sister's kids live in California. Because of this my kids don't know them as well as their "Minnesota Cousins." But when Ben and I went out to San Diego a couple of years ago, Ben clicked with Erin and Johnny like he'd known them his whole life. I remember him saying "Johnny is hilarious. He's cool. I really like him."

And the "first generation" of cousins sort of raised this second generation. Now that they are all adults, they can reminisce about those trips to the cabin, or their own college years or whatever, with their younger cousins. It does my heart good to see them get along so well with so much love.

So as this second generation of cousins all go through their college years, it is fun watching them interact and share their experiences. One is in South Dakota, one in Illinois, one in Minnesota and my son is at Madison, Wisconsin. All unique experiences, but all sharing a common goal.

On the other side of the family and the other side of the country, we have nieces and nephews in New York. They also grew up with our kids and are very close in age. The whole college experience is shared by them at the moment. When they get together there is a lot of reminiscing about trips to Myrtle Beach, the Adirondack Mountains and other places. Their friendships are as close as their Minnesota cousins.

While I had some good experiences with my Minnesota cousins, fishing at White Bear Lake being primary, it was nothing like the relationship these kids have with their cousins. I'm not resentful, just happy that they have each other to lean on and share life with.

Blogging off..

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Oneness, Meditation And The Zen Of Paper Straightening

In the past I've mentioned that I have a group of guys I have coffee with at Cafe De Arts for one hour every Thursday. I once jokingly called them the Thursday Theologians because often times our talk is religious or spiritual in nature, though not always.

They're a hard group to summarize, really.

I would call them my "best-friends-for-an-hour-each-week" but that would be sappy and besides the name is too long.

They are friends though. Most of them are part of my church CollectiveMKE, but not all. It certainly isn't a requirement, though as I said, our conversation often drifts into spiritual discussions.

We usually pretend to be sort of a book study, though we're all slow readers and take forever to get through a book. The book is more of a reason to show up than anything we really delve deep into. If we didn't purport to have anything "in progress" there might be impetus for someone not to show. We need an anchor, so a book it is.

Our discussion is willy-nilly and meanders on random tangents and rabbit holes. Today was a good example when we started down the path of meditation. It led to a sidetrack of "paper straightening" and how a certain level of that is healthy, or even meditative, but if you do it too much, it becomes an unhealthy OCD thing. It is these sorts of extrapolations that make the conversations interesting.

Then I asked if anyone in the group had ever meditated. It met with a lot of head shaking. Some guys offered alternatives that they would consider meditative. Methods I'd never thought of that cleared their minds, which is part of what meditation is, I suspect.

Later, one of the guys today asked "How do you know if God is speaking to you?"


It was the source of some deep discussion. Everything from people not hearing God to those hearing him in nature, to those experiencing him when they're in their friend group. But we also concluded that we can't really refute someone when they say "God told me," because, well, how do we know he didn't? It is really a personal thing, if it's a thing at all. We also agree that people may even be using the "God told me," line to justify something they don't feel comfortable about. Maybe, maybe not.

We are currently reading a book by Ram Dass, titled Grist for the Mill. It is about experiencing oneness. Dass was kicked out of Harvard in part for hanging out with Timothy Leary and, well we all know what he was famous for.

In any case the book is one we're just getting into. We're all looking to expand our worldview in hopes of increasing our faith, and this book is an extension of that exploration. In the past, if we don't like a book, we sort of agree to move on. Maybe this book will do that to us, I don't know. So far, I like what I've read.

Anyway, I digress. What I started out this post wanting to say is how fortunate I am to have this hour every Thursday to talk about everything from automotive maintenance, to engineering feats, to political postulating to paper straightening.

We are literally all over the map.

We're not a Bible study, but the Bible comes up almost every week in some capacity.

We're not a book study, but we touch on the book almost every week.

In fact, I'm not sure what we are. I do know that each week I come away asking a new question or in some way challenged or enlightened. (No, not like Timothy Leary enlightened. Just drug-free  enlightened.) I also know that I look forward to my Thursdays more than any other day during the week (except Fridays, of course.)

It is my one hour, caffeine fueled, mind-bending, deep dive. It's cool!

Blogging off...

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Art Appreciation 101

One of my latest obsessions is art. Don't get me wrong, I've always appreciated it and I credit my college Art History 101 class with helping shape that appreciation. Art is one of those things that helps me appreciate the human race. Our innate desire to create accompanied by some wildly talented people makes good art happen.

Now while I claim to be a writer, I lay no claim to any artistic skills outside of words. I not only have no sense of proportion or depth, but when it comes to thinking of something to create/draw/paint, I kind of draw a blank. It's certainly a gift that God gave to some and skimped on with others. I would fall under the latter category.

My wife and I like to support local authors and have a few friends who are crazy talented in that realm. Names like Sara Risley, Jill Kenehan-Krey, Walter Jack Savage, Stacey Ball and others come to mind. Because the best way to support artists is to buy their work, we've made it a point to try and do just that. When a coworker pointed out that my office walls needed some art, I took it as a chance to get some prints and class the place up a bit.

Here's a few of my latest acquisitions and a little about why I like the particular piece.

Birch Forest (My title) Tape Art by Sara Risley
Sara Risley is an artist and friend whose style has always captivated my interest. Her styles change over time. She was once into using photography as her base. Then for a time she moved into using tape as a medium. Since then she has branched into using alcohol inks, another amazingly colorful technique. The piece above, a tape painting, was one that captured my eye as well as my wife's. She mentioned it looked like birch trees. As with all of the art on this blog, the picture doesn't do the piece justice. Her website is Here. Check it out.

St. Paul Skyline, by Walter Jack Savage

Walter Jack Savage is a friend I found on Facebook. His artwork has appeared on several magazine covers and books. When I saw this piece, a downtown St. Paul scene with the familiar 1st National Bank building, I knew I wanted it to remind me of home.

Fishing by Walter Jack Savage
Savage is retired and is also a prolific writer as well as a Vietnam Veteran. He hails from the Twin Cities and now lives in California. 

I've followed his work and so when I saw the piece with a fisherman show up in his feed, I knew I wanted that one as well. Because he's sold or given away many of his more popular pieces, I was only able to obtain a copied print. Because I love to fish, this piece holds special meaning for me. It puts me in the boat. Walter Jack Savage's website is here. Check it out.

And finally, there is a piece by Steve Kilbey. Kilbey is the lead singer and bassist for the Australian prog-rock band, The Church. I wanted his piece in part because they are my favorite band and also because I admire artists who are adept at more than one art. Kilbey is a singer/songwrite/artist and poet. This piece is psychedelic and reminds me of the dreamy nature of their music. His website is Here.

So, while I'm not an art collector - far from it - I don't think you need to be to appreciate the talents of artists. Like writers, they pour a little bit of their soul into all of their work. I'm grateful that they do and my way of showing my appreciation is to support them 

They make the world a little more beautiful.

Blogging off...