Thursday, August 27, 2009

Diesel Kingdom

Diesel Kingdom

Aisle sitters demand their space
An orphan seat calls me
Standers are losers
This is my house
King of the bus
Ruler of none
But King nonetheless

Smokers, drinkers, loners, crazies
All fall within the borders
Of glass and steel
Subject to its shuddering confines
They eavesdrop
On neighbors wayward drivel
Wishing they’d shut-up

People incapable of quiet
Fondle Alexander’s electronic Bell
Workers gaze looks of dread
Out rain spit windows
A serf up front asks for change
I’d like some change, alright
The King of change

The bus stops here

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Briefs, not Boxers

Got out from writing class a bit early and was feeling inspired.

I'm still struggling with the difference between being a "writer" and just someone who likes to write. Is it that it must be a profession to qualify as a writer? Being published? I think those two would certainly qualify, but I don't think you can discount the lover of writ.

I'm not sure why it's bugging me, but I'm sure I'll work through it.

I need a laptop. Or even a second PC. Something with a keyboard that is off limits to anyone under 18 in this house. Is that so wrong?

I am at mile 830 on my 1000 mi. bike quest. It's beginning to lose it's allure and has become a bit more like grunt work. I'll finish it, to be sure, but it will be more of a relief than I would have guessed.

Part of it may be that I ride the same trail every day which is my fault, no doubt. It's just close, easy to get to and off limits to cars, so seems like the best way to get to 1000.

I've already begun to think about what next summer's bucket list item will be. Hmmmm...

Ben's Open House for 5th grade was tonight. The new teacher seems nice enough. A new teacher to Randall, but in his 3rd year of teaching 5th grade. He's a big dude, so should command their attention. (Though, remember Arnold S. in Kindergarten Cop. "It's not a tumor!")

Summer is screaming to and end and I hate it. The thought of cold and snow makes me itch. Sure we have the holidays and all that, but given the choice, year round summer or no holidays, well, pass me my sandals and shades.

No word from the fine folks at Ewald Kia. What a joke. If this post dissuades ONE person from shopping at Ewald KIA in Oconomowoc, WI., it will have been worth it. I sent them a nasty gram, expecting some sort of follow-up call and I got nothin'. So goes the world these days, I guess. No one cares about the customer anymore.

Well, I am weary and my book is calling. (Truck, by Michael Perry, I highly recommend it) So, for now I'm...

Blogging off.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Willy Nilly

It was kind of a random Saturday, a term that my kids use to excess. So random goes the post.

Walking the dog tonight was serenely comforting. It was (is) a completely still evening, where the humidity is present like a stifled, restless 4 year old, but not so much in your face as a boorish sports fan with too many overpriced beers under his belt. Kind of just there, reminding you it's August, not July; too dark, too early; and not September crisp and lacking humidity altogether.

Having lived five years longer than my dad, I realize the need to appreciate every day, and sometimes, when moved, every minute. It's hot, but you know what? Hot beats not here, so bring it on.

"Subdivisions", by Rush, was on the Ipod. A song that speaks of the crud that goes along with cloistering ourselves in the suburbs. Walking through the city that is truly a city, though is looked upon by most as a suburb of Milwaukee. One native said once, "Waukesha was here first and Milwaukee grew to it". I think there's some truth to that. We'll never be 4th and Water street, but you try and stand in the middle of College Ave. sometime and tell me that we live in a "quiet suburb". The crime might be lower, but we're still in a city, no doubt about that.

Passed a garden in front of Randall Elementary where Ben goes to school. The garden is a Memorial Garden to Laura Westbrook, a 5th grader who died of cancer a couple years ago. There's that living each day for what it is thing again. People spend too much time and energy being angry. A whisper you see, is all we are. Why do we insist on shouting?

Toby stopped by the beautiful perennial-filled English garden up the street to smell the flowers. It occurred to me that he is smelling the flowers for entirely different reasons than humans. Why this seemed funny is beyond me.

I was thankful that the Packers were playing their first pre-season game and that made the streets that much quieter. Is there a game that's any less relevant than the first pre-season game for any team, any year? I think not. And I'm a fan. I'm a fan and I cannot justify 3 hours of my life watching that. Maybe I'm really not a fan then. You know what? I'm Ok with whatever the heck I am, or am not. If others could be OK with that, we'd both be better off.

I DVR'd the game and can zoom through the highlights in about 7 minutes tomorrow. Seriously.

Why so reflective? Summer's coming to a close and that tends to happen, for whatever reason. Wait 6 months or so. Talk to me in February when it's dark at 5:00 and I can't wait to get in my pajamas every night. That's called "gettin' through it" and it's part and parcel of what most Northerners do. We try, by skiing and ice fishing and pretending that it ain't so bad. It really is. Not a terribly joyful time of year. But I digress.

Had a great breakfast with my son at Denny's today. Talked about all kinds of thing. Angels and Demons, ghosts, friends, lots of stuff. He ordered chicken strips...for breakfast. I guess if that looked better to me than bacon and eggs, (it didn't) I'd probably order it too. I could have been a mean old dad and said "No, you need to eat breakfast food!", but where would that have gotten me?

These monthly breakfasts come up so fast, but I want to continue to honor them. "Date your Daughter," they say. "Take one-on-one time with your son," say others. It's because of these words rattling around my brain that I continue to drink bad coffee and eat eggs that seem to have come out of something other than a shell. Besides, I've got that guy with the scythe standing behind me, in the dark cloak goin' "Hey you, are you busy?"

One of the few memories I have of my father was when he took me to the Silver Coaches Restaurant/Bar (Now the North End Depot). He had a beer and I had soda. I still remember the dark bar, the woodwork and the high stools. They had the best peanuts I'd ever had, likely Beer Nuts. Another reason I take them out to be special. Something might stick. Maybe they'll remember the way I put one sugar packet in each cup of coffee. Maybe it'll be the booths we sit in, or the smell of bacon. Maybe they'll remember what we talked about on any given date. I know I'll remember it, and maybe that's why I'm doing it. For purely selfish reasons. No, it's not that, I can assure you.

I won't be getting my corn dog at the state fair this year. That is a sad thing. It's OK though, as I think part of last year's is still in carotid artery. Or maybe in my left thigh. In any case, it's there. I can almost taste it. Slathered in mustard, on a sharp stick. Don't run with a corn dog in your hand.

I'm struggling a bit with the fact that my vacation is over and done with. It doesn't mean summer is over with, but without having something to look forward to, it might as well be.

Who in their right mind ever thought it a good idea to paint any auto white?

Les Paul died this week. Waukesha native and inventor of the electric hollow-body guitar and multi-track recording. A sad thing. There's that death thing again. Man, I gotta stop reading the paper. Life is such a great thing, I don't want to ever take it for granted. I hope people don't think I'm obsessing about death. I think it's more the opposite. I'm obsessed about life. How short it is. How messed up people's priorities are. It's about being with others. Rejoicing with them. Enjoying their company. Admiring their achievements. Snickering at their quirks. But most of all just appreciating that God put them in your life for his own good reason.

I've been around a while and one thing is pretty clear to me. It's not about stuff. Stuff breaks, disappoints, requires care, and ultimately ends up on the curb or gets sold at the estate sale after you're ashes are tossed to the wind in San Diego. You've got to have some of it to get through life, but when you worship the stuff more than the stuff-maker, you've got a problem. Besides, stuff can't help you put up a fence, build a deck or listen when you talk about the problems you're having at work.

So I challenge you all to look inward at your life. How old are you? Are you 1/2 way to dead? Not quite? If so, who do you need to say sorry to? How about "I love you?" Anyone? Do it. As the group The Killers say in their song "Smile Like You Mean It". Hug that child. Kiss that parent. cuddle that dog. Be nice to that waitress. Be patient. Be randomly nice, with regularity. Write a note. E-mail someone a nice thought. Text them if that's your thing. Get over your grudge if you have one. If someone's got one against you, try to work it out. If not, walk away and be better for it.

I'm going to spend time with my kids now, because they need me. And I them.

Blogging off...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Travels and the Trivial

Our recent trip to the Shoreview MN and on to the North Shore of Lake Superior was quite a whirlwind tour, some of which I'll touch on here.

The week started with the long drive to MN. We stopped for lunch at the Norske Nook in Osseo, WI. Being a Friday, Donna and I opted for the fish fry and all four of us had pie for dessert. The blueberry crumble was fabulous!

I headed out to my 30th High School Reunion on Friday night. What a trip back in time for me. I hadn't darkened the doors of my old school since '79 when I walked out them. It was weird walking through the doors again.

It was great to see my old friends Pat, Pete and John, who I hung with most of the night. We all agreed that if one or the other of us wouldn't have made it, the others wouldn't have.

One of my ex-classmates had a few too many MGD's and managed to make a fool of himself. If there's one mistake you shouldn't make, that's right up there. People remember that kind of thing.

A couple of guys came up to me and after seeing my name said, "We were all wondering who that tall, bald guy was." It turns out it was only Landwehr.

Saw my old homeroom teacher, who's since quit teaching and is now making a decent living as a magician. He's still as nice as ever and hasn't lost a step in the magic arena either.

Overall, it was a very good experience, despite our trepidation about what it would be like. We agreed that High School wasn't all that traumatic after all and that most of the jerks have mellowed over the years.

Saturday morning was golf with Pat and Pete at the Highland 9 hole course. We all managed to golf like it was our first time again, but had a TON of laughs along the way. We got a nice picture and vowed to do it again.

Saturday night we had the second half of our reunion at Costello's in St. Paul. My classmate Mike Costello actually owns the place. It was a mellower occasion as most of the revelry had taken place the night before. Besides, I had to cut out at 8:30 to head to my sisters for a family and friends' 70's party.

The 70's party was really a great time. Jane spared no expense, and missed no details. She had a tent, sound system and a portable dance floor, complete with disco ball. I had forgotten how great the music of the 70's was. Three Dog Night, Boston, Billy Preston, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac. A friend of Jane's had a 30,000 song ITunes collection and managed to find every song I requested and more. He was a DJ stud! A good DJ can make a good party great.

On Sunday we packed for our BWCA/Superior Shores trip. I plan on adding the BW trip to my work-in-progress memoir, so will save that for my upcoming book. (Seriously.)

Our Superior Shores adventure requires it's own space, so I'll save that for later.

Blogging off for now...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lutefisk and Swedish Meatballs

Our vacation to the Northern reaches of Minnesota was awesome. Much to tell. Still recovering and unpacking mental baggage. Will post soon, I promise. So tired...

Blogging off.