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Showing posts from April, 2019

Paint Versus Prep

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Painting is a love/hate thing with me. I love the newness of a freshly painted room, but hate all the work to get there. And for me, the worst part of any painting project is not the actual painting, it's all of the crappy prep work that you have to do before dipping a brush.

We have an upstairs back porch area that is south facing. Because it is poorly insulated and located in the nether regions of the house, the room has always been under-utilized. It started as an empty room, was converted to a sort of game room/movie room for the kids for a bit and most recently served as Ben's hangout room, with his gaming computer taking up much of the space.

The room has beautiful tongue-in-groove woodwork on the walls and ceiling. The window panes however were starting to show their age, so we decided to paint. The thought was to spruce up the room and possibly use it as an office for me for my writing. We decided to paint the windows and door frames an off white to brighten the room a…

Leaning Into The Tape

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Today marks the twenty fifth day of my National Poetry Writing Month challenge of a writing poem a day. I'd like to say I'm energized and ready to finish strong, but that would be a lie. The theme for these poems is Fatherhood and while it's not been easy, it is nearing the end and it has revealed much. 
It probably doesn't help that I started a week ahead of time in fear of having to miss some days. So technically I have about 32 poems already, but I am determined to finish out the month. The challenge was for April, I do April.
What I like best about the challenge is not knowing what each day's work will bring. Some days are just "meh," producing poems that are just average. But every third day or so, I get a poem that, by my standards, I can hardly believe I've written it. Really, really good. You've got to break a lot of rock to find the gold I guess.
The pressure to create every day, regardless of how tired I am, how busy or how non-creative …

Easter 2019

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It is Easter Sunday and this is just a short post.

I spent the weekend with my Sarah, her boyfriend Sam and my son Ben. It was a few days of down time, lots of food, laughs and hugs. We reminisced a little, talked about the present and the future a lot. We hung out with friends and family at restaurants and homes. We Skyped relatives in New York which, technical hacks aside, is really a technological miracle of its own if you think about it.

This morning I saw the sunrise with my church family on top of a Drumlin in a nearby park. It was church of the holiest kind.

So my soul is full with the multitude of things I have to be thankful for. Family, friends, a job I love, a home to share and, not least of all, my faith. I thank God for all of it, as I deserve none of it.

And as my kids return to their distant homes away from home, the house is quiet again and Monday and the requisite rat race looms. But knowing I have such a blessed life makes it so much easier to look toward tomorrow.

Ha…

Moving Verses

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As you may know, April is National Poetry Month. Or, you may not. But I do.

It is a month that is designed to increase the exposure to and awareness of poetry and it's impact in our world and our culture. There have been a number of events around town, some of which I've been able to attend, some not. There were a couple of events this week that were interesting and inspiring.

The first was a reading by Wisconsin's poet laureate, Margaret Rozga at the New Berlin Public Library. I've gotten to know Peggy over the last few years as we've run into each other through our poetry circles. She and I sit on the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books planning committee, so I've seen more of her lately.


For those who don't know, she was very involved with the Fair Housing Marches that happened in Milwaukee in the late 1960's. These were racially tense times in the city and along with Father Groppi they marched for racial justice, the inspiration for her poetry boo…

Creativity Under Fire

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I am taking part in a 30 day poetry challenge that requires writing a poem a day during April on a particular theme. I chose Fatherhood as my theme, in part because I was curious what it would reveal. Over my life I've had a father, stepfather, father in law, grandfathers, and I've been a godfather and a father myself.

Each of these titles brings its own inspiration for me. I knew the challenge would be difficult, it always is when you're sort of forced to be creative for 30 consecutive days. But what I am finding is that it is revealing and insightful. I sometimes struggle with a piece at the beginning and by the end I am looking at something that I can barely believe I wrote. I think it is a combination of the pressure to produce and the topic of interest that makes for such inspiration.
It has caused me to remember the good, the bad and the difficult in all of my fatherhood/sonship  experiences. While my childhood experience might have been somewhat unique, I know that m…

A Glimpse Into My Softer Side

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I went to the Art In Bloom event at the Milwaukee Art Museum today. It has become an annual tradition with Donna and I, one I have come to look forward to. If you're not familiar with the concept, it is gardening clubs and floral shops around the Milwaukee area that put together floral arrangements centered on a work of art at the museum.

Suffice it to say, there are some stunning displays of creativity from a floral/ekphrastic perspective. This year there were so many great entries. This year we bought a membership because we both love to go to the art museum, but never go more than this once a year. It is my plan to make it more regular.

I say that because as I looked at some of these paintings today, I was again floored by the work in front of me. These artists have a sense for light, shadow, depth, color and dimension. It is nothing short of brilliance. They have skills that a small percentage of the people in the world do. They call them masters for a reason. I am no art snob…

Phone Hostage

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Last weekend I woke up and my phone didn't.

It was dead.

Kaput.

Bricked.

The night before, when I tried to access it, it would shut off as quickly as I turned it on. It was behaving badly. Facebook was wonky too. It would open, then close saying "Sorry, Facebook can't start," or some such message of hopelessness.

It was a nearly 4 year old Samsung Galaxy S6. I loved the phone, it rarely gave me problems and despite a battery that died halfway through the day, it worked pretty flawlessly. I had the oldest phone in my family, so was due for an upgrade anyway.

Now, understand that I have a love/hate relationship with these things, more hate than love, frankly. I think as a culture we've created devices of distraction and disconnection. There is a wonderful photo journalism article in The Sun magazine by Gianpaolo La Paglia that captures peoples' obsessions with their phones quite well. I feel that we've gone down a path we can't get back up, but I guess we&…

Portaging Without A Canoe

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About six months ago, I was invited to be one of the two featured poets at an event called Poetry in Portage (PIP). This is an event that takes place monthly and features two poets, each reading for 30 minutes, followed by an open mic where anyone can read some of their work.

Portage is a city about an hour and a half from Waukesha, just up the road from where I-94 splits with I-39. I saw this as a chance to increase my exposure a bit as well as take a little road trip. If you know me, you know I love road trips, so I told the organizer I would come up and present.

The reading was held at Suzy's Steak and Seafood restaurant. When I got there, I was greeted by the other presenter, Jane McCarty Osypowski and her husband. Later we were joined by a friend of Jane's as well as June Paul, the event coordinator. We had a pre-dinner drink and got to know each other a bit. Jane is also an artist, so admitted that most of her recent artistic endeavors have been with paint, not pen.

Now,…