Showing posts from June, 2018

Gettin' Cranky

I ride my bike nearly every day in the summer. Lately my pedal crank has been sounding a little funky. I figured the bearings are probably shot and it might be time to start looking at taking it in. I figured I'd put it off until after July 4th before I went on a trip. So I'm out biking the trail today and the crank didn't seem to be making noise like it did. It healed itself, I thought. I love it when that happens. Well, at some point when I'd gone 3.8 miles I turned around. A couple tenths of a mile later, I noticed my crank looked like it was unscrewing from the frame. Maybe it's supposed to look like that , I thought. I'll nurse it home just in case . Then, for some reason my bike shifted to the smaller front sprocket. By itself. When I tried to correct it it made a racket. At this point the only sprocket that worked was the middle one. When I thought about why the highest gear now fit around the middle sprocket, the fact that the crank was pushing ev

Seeking Light

I'm not one to get too bent out of shape by negativity on Facebook. I see it all the time and most of it rolls off my back. This week was different for some reason.  There was just one thing after another. People fighting about everything from the message behind Melania's jacket to separated families to the evident corruption all throughout the US government.  And I can't deny that all of it needs attention, they're all big issues. I was just overwhelmed by how much vitriol was there everytime I looked at Facebook and Twitter.  So I want to focus this post on some of the positives I've seen in the past few days and weeks. Our school district was enforcing a stupid rule that students that had outstanding school fees couldn't even walk across the graduation stage. A woman from our church felt that needed addressing so organized a fundraiser to see that a number of students could walk and get their diplomas. People helping others feel their t

The Fishing Knot That Binds

This past Father's Day, I got a text from my daughter wishing me a good day. She lives in Minneapolis and is settling into a new life up there by my blood family. In the text she mentioned how she misses us and that we really need to go fishing again soon. This melted my heart a little bit. Last night at a poetry open mic, I read a poem titled Queen. It is a piece about fishing with my daughter up north. Between it and her text and my son's latest interest in fishing I have been thinking about all the great times we've had as a family in pursuit of finny critters. The activity requires a lot of patience but also allows lots of time to talk about life. It also gives you "fish stories" that will last a lifetime. Times like: When Sarah crouched on the doc at 4 years old and fished until we pulled her away. She caught over a hundred fish in 3 days one year (Not that we fisher folk track these things.) When Uncle Tom caught a huge bass in the Boundary Waters

A Portal To The Past

It is a warm August evening in 1989 and my girlfriend and I are sitting at the bar of Wolski's Tavern on the lower East side of Milwaukee. We are awaiting our friend, Bill, for a couple of drinks and maybe a game of darts, the real steel-tipped kind with chalkboard scoring. The music system, complete with octagonal shaped speakers that hang from the ceiling, belts out hits of the day by REM, New Order and The Cure. Flags of foreign countries and other places cover the ceiling in parachute fashion and the cash register is the old fashioned kind whose keys requires a two handed forceful push, followed by the drawer opening and a ca-ching. Everything about the place has an old Milwaukee feel to it and it is a recent favorite haunt of mine since I moved to the East Side. I am drinking a Point Beer because it's cheap and a nice change from Miller products. Donna is on her second or third Gin and Tonic and is getting that dreamy look in her eyes. She has a bit of a grin on her face

The Portland House Pays Itself A Visit

So a while back, I sent a copy of The Portland House: a '70's memoir to THE Portland House. It was a suggestion by my sister, Jane. She thought it would be a cool idea to surprise the owners and let them know that their house was famous in a sub-atomic micro fame sort of way. I sent them the book with a short note basically telling them that it was the house I grew up in  and I thought they might enjoy reading some of its history. I also told them that if they felt compelled, they could leave it for the next owners or even share it around the neighborhood. I sort of hoped for a response, just to see what they thought. Well, today a card came from The Portland House family. The card was written by the wife of the current owner - the same owner who bought it from us over 32 years ago. She said that they did a big renovation five years ago, including a new garage from what I can see. They also removed the open porch and put on an enclosed one. She said they had 3 boys and

Watching For It

Like most people, I go through peaks and valleys from week to week, month to month. Unlike some, I am fortunate that the peaks far outnumber the valleys for me. I sincerely believe that part of that is because I try and focus on the positive. Negative people and thoughts bring me down, so I try and minimize them in my sphere. I've been known to hide Facebook friends who are continually negative or crass. People griping in person are hard enough, I don't need to see it on social media.  Anyway, this week on several occasions (usually while walking the dog) I was overcome by feelings of gratitude for the direction my life is going. By this I mean the people I call friends, my beautiful wife and kids, my job and my church. A few encounters I had this week served as reminders. On Monday, I went before the Village of Wales Board for my monthly poetry reading. This is a great privilege for me - something I look forward to. This appointment to Poet Laureate was brought forth b


It's that time of year where the Summer weekends start getting booked up and before we know it we'll be at Labor Day and staring Fall in the face. I am determined to make the most of the nice weather while it's here though, so have already squeezed in a couple of outings and am looking to get a lot more in before the end of Summer. Last Sunday I made use of a gift certificate for golf that a friend gave me a while back. I went to Moor Downs with Ben and we golfed nine holes. There were several memorable moments or comments. When Ben pointed out how ludicrous the sport is and what it must have been like when the Scotsman told his friend, "Yeah, see this little ball? Well there's a hole in the ground to hell and gone over there, and you have to hit it into it." We laughed about how it probably took them playing a hole or two to determine that having a flag in it would make it easier to see.  In a 9 hole outing, between the two of us, we must have lost

A Nod To Those Before Us

I spent Thursday at a GIS conference in Delavan, Wisconsin. One of the speakers had a fascinating presentation about the prehistoric Native American burial mounds that dot the state and the region. His description of the purpose, makeup and art involved with these sacred places was captivating. He mentioned that over 200 of them had been excavated and destroyed by people looking to study and/or loot them of grave goods - which they tended not to have. The vast majority of them contained human remains of one person, usually a person of nobility among the tribe. Delavan oval mound The thing about his talk was that after it, we were able to go outside onto the Lake Lawn Conference Center grounds and see a few of the mounds . They were simple in shape, one oval, another shaped like a reptile or turtle. The speaker spoke with reverence and respect about all of the mounds he detailed. He made it abundantly clear that the way they were disregarded and disrespected in the years after