Monday, May 1, 2017

Welcome, to the Merry Month of May

No, this is not a photograph taken from the deck of Fridtjof Nansen's ship, "Fram," to illustrate what happens to a sailing vessel frozen into the Arctic ice cap or one taken recently to demonstrate the ferocity of Minnesota winters. This is a sidewalk on Main Street in Cottonwood. Best guess is that the photograph was taken around 1910 .... Cottonwood is the small, rural, Minnesota town in which I spent the first eighteen years of my life.
While the town did not even exist until 1888 when a post office was established and the railroad arrived, the first homesteaders had appeared in 1871. Although I was not present in 1888 or even in 1910, this is the way I remember Cottonwood during winter months and the way I remember the depth of the snow: One did not shovel the sidewalk; rather, one shoveled a one-way path along the sidewalk.

The small sign in the foreground reads: "J V Mathews Lawyer"
Behind it, the sign proclaims: "Meat Market"
Further down the street, the sign says: "Restaurant"

There is a photograph of Mathews, incidentally, in, "An Illustrated History of Lyon County Minnesota," published in 1912. He was born on his father's homestead on March 30, 1879, moved to Cottonwood on March 12, 1907, and had his office on the second floor of the Grieve & Laingen Building. Although the "snow shoveler" is not identified, he very well might be Lawyer Mathews.

By the way, welcome to the Merry Month of May. I shoveled snow both yesterday and today ....

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Farthest north .... for a brief moment ....

 One hundred twenty-two years ago at this very moment, a wooden ship which had been deliberately frozen into the polar ice cap was adrift within it and captive to it. Each man aboard among the all-Norwegian crew was harboring the hope -- the dream -- of drifting over the North Pole and, by that means, being the first to reach it. The name of the ship was, "Fram," which in the Norwegian language means "forward." It had been designed and constructed for this specific purpose.
The leader of the expedition, Fridtjof Nansen, and a companion, Hjalmar Johansen, had left the vessel earlier and were on the ice retreating for Franz Josef Land after an unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole by sledges and skis. On April 7 in the year 1895, they had reached a point farther north than anyone before them. It was at that location Nansen decided if he and Johansen did not turn around then and there, death on the ice cap would undoubtedly overtake them. Farthest north, for a moment -- then, the moment is gone and the trek is over and the dream is forever vanished ....
As it was, Nansen and Johansen did spend eight months living in a stone/moss/ice hut at Cape Felder on the western edge of Franz Josef Land, living off polar bear/seal/walrus meat obtained by hunting. Their journey had begun in 1893 and did not conclude until 1896. Nansen, incidentally, had been the first to cross the Greenland ice cap on skis. This dash toward the North Pole venture was his last on the ice. He became a professor of oceanography, and he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for his work with refugees. Johansen went on to explore Antarctic regions, but his luck was bad and his taste for liquor was unquenchable. He committed suicide at age forty-five.
When I was a boy, I idolized Nansen and had dreams of leading a similar life. This took me to books and to hunting and to winter camping on frozen Minnesota lakes in the midst of blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. I named my first canoe Fram, but cruising among January "ice bergs" on Lake Superior was the extent of its "far north" exploits. Hmmmm .... I wonder who the boys of today idolize and what dreams they might have ....
This has been sort of a post .... the photograph, incidentally, was taken of the ice-bound Fram by one of the crew in 1896. The ship and the crew did make it safely back to Norway, and the vessel later spent four years in the Canadian arctic and went on a south polar expedition. It is now on display in the Fram Museum near Oslo.
I will be back sooner or later .... probably later ....

Thursday, March 16, 2017

You looking at me ??!!

There seems to be a bit of "the grouch" revealed in the eyes of Buddy as he tries to catch up on his sleep, but is awakened by me stalking him with my camera .... click, flash .... click, flash .... click, flash. This is not an actual post, but, rather, a facsimile created to substitute for the real thing. Today, March 16, is my birthday, and I felt the need to mark it one way or another. What better way than by a photograph of Buddy ?? I doubt I will be back this way again until mid-April .... I feel a sort of strong urgency to pack up and move on, and time is becoming precious to me .... but, who can say ?? Certainty about anything or anyone is a scare commodity in these times.

Monday, January 16, 2017

One more time for now .... and, then ....

You may have noticed me mention in a place or two that I did break down and buy still Another Smith & Wesson revolver -- and, this time, another .38 Special, this one seventy years old and looking every day of it. I usually search out "old guns" which look like new. Obviously, they are the most valuable. This time what attracted me is a revolver which looks like it has been carried and used every day for seven decades. Actually, it is clear it has been a "working gun" in terms of being carried as evident through holster wear. Usually, I comment how reflection on the photograph of a gun is light glare; in this instance, however, it actually includes areas where outer blue finish has been rubbed off from holster wear. Close examination shows, though, it has not been fired a great deal. My guess is that this pre-Model 10 S&W has been a police gun where it was carried almost daily, but fired only once or twice a year for officer handgun qualification. The holster, incidentally, did not come with it. It is a George Lawrence Company holster. It dates at least to the 1950s and, very possibly, much earlier -- the firm has been around in initial form since 1857. Anyway, this will be my woodland-carry revolver in non-bear country. Next, I guess, is an illustration of a "split personality." If I want a good time and just plain have fun, I will head for a working man's saloon or a concert venue where a band like .38 Special or Lynyrd Skynyrd is performing. If you never have tried it, I would recommend going with a group rather than alone, because you never know what might happen. Come to think of it, I would recommend that for any saloon or concert hall. If I were looking for inspiration or the possibility of discovering Neverland, I would pick a performance by someone like Sarah Brightman or Andrea Bocelli. I assume no additional explanation is required, and I will end the list there for now. I also will include a song from .38 Special and from Sarah below. I almost feel like apologizing for including, "A Whiter Shade of Pale," as the Sarah-song, so often do I place it with my posts: It is haunting to me.

See you in February ....
(Continued from January 11 ....

I need to clear my mind (if that is possible) and decide if I want to continue playing the games of contemporary life styles or if I want to shed gadgets and gadgetry, kiss off political and social ideologues, change my persona to emulate Henry David Thoreau and wander off into a different neck of the woods to discover my own version of Walden Pond and put a fence around it. You might recall I tried that once, and called it my Sanctuary/Refuge .... well, I have two strikes left to accomplish that goal ....

I frequently write in my posts, but have not for a long while, that I call the varying stages of my life my "incarnations." That is to say, my college days were one incarnation; my Marine Corps time was another incarnation; my journalism trek was still another incarnation, although that one was not continuous and existed in segments.

During these times, my persona often changes to fit the situation. (Here we have another description I sometimes utilize -- the chameleon affect.) In other words, my hair style (and facial hair) will change; my manner and habit of dress will change, for instance, from suits and tie to jeans; my type of vehicle will change, for instance, from Audi to Suburban .... and on and on and on ....

It seems to me another new incarnation began last January/February and took a significant leap last mid-June. I think it will be moving into another stage soon. This blog has been part of my current incarnation; I do not think it will be part of the next.

Ain't life strange and weird and sort of .... ???? .... !!!!

In terms of the sea of blogs, I am not going "cold turkey" with it. For now, I plan to post on the the sixteenth of February and the sixteenth of March, and, we shall see after that ....

There are a few on the blogs I also will continue to visit. I think you know who you are ....

Send me smiles and stay safe and wish me luck .... barring the unforeseen .... see you in mid-February ....

Odds & ends ....

This post is going up late. I meant to publish this piece on January 13, but it actually is going up on January 16. (Superstitious guy, am I.) I fell ill (almost literally) during the night of January 11-12, and could do little more than crawl around for the next forty-four hours or so. (I call such "episodes" a reoccurring "jungle bug," which likes to remind me I am human -- all too human –- as Friedrich insists on repeatedly telling me; I have been "delving into" his book a bit during recent weeks.)

I spent about twenty-two hours of January 12 sleeping on my living room floor .... my poor, puppy-boy, companion, Buddy, only got outside to do his business three times; he did get his food, but it was late coming and he survived the test and stayed near me to show his understanding and sympathy. Since the last sighting of a coyote, I do not dare to allow him outside alone.

I was improved, but still slept most of January 13/14/15. Such is life ....

January 13 -- Happy Birthday, Mother.

January 16 -- It makes no difference to me which religion, calendar or ecological reckoning of weather patterns might be considered the to be the mid-point of winter -- January 16 is the marker for mid-FramWinter. If you lived somewhere like Minnesota, the Dakotas, Michigan or Montana, for instance, I think you might agree with me.

January 17 -- Happy Birthday, Rory.

January 21 -- My first blog was born on January 15, 2009, and I began this blog on January 21. I kept them both for a few weeks, then eliminated the original one. Anyway, this is the timetable I am working on with my plans.

January 24 -- Happy Anniversary, Me & the U.S. Marine Corps

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Places you might not ever expect to be, or .... the heat of the moment

Here we have "looking left" to discover "Volume II" of "Still Life of Dust." I hope you know I am making fun of you -- teasing, sort of, for the most part. "Looking right" made its appearance on January 9. If you are puzzled, ask questions. Beyond that, what we have here are some odds and ends, again, left over, for the most part, from 2016. The dialogue quoted is from the 1962 rendition of a film entitled, "The Manchurian Candidate." Figure it out, why it is here, if you are able. I may as well mention the music which is here now, too. Music comes and music goes .... as do we. I learned a while ago through a post on another blog -- that of Daliana -- that Greg Lake had died. Most would associate him with the bands Emerson, Lake & Palmer or King Crimson, but Asia enters my mind when I hear his name. Cancer caught him on December 7. A self-inflicted bullet caught Keith Emerson of ELP last March 11. The first offering of music is a concert by Asia with Lake as the front man at the Budokan in 1983. I rolled through the Kodokan once upon a time, but never rocked through the Budokan. Get it? Never mind. I watch Lake perform here, and I see the physical image of a thousand "frat" boys I knew in college .... but, this guy had real talent and I appreciate having moved through life at the same time he was on stage. The second piece of music is, "Drive," performed by the Cars. When you read the post (or, should I say, if you read the post ??) you might understand why that song is here.

Just wrapping up a few loose ends

A bit of dialogue between
Colonel Milt and Major Ben Marco
in the 1962 film version
of "The Manchurian Candidate"
from a novel by Richard Condon

Major Ben Marco: Colonel!

Colonel Milt: Ben. May I come in for a minute?

Major Marco: Oh, please do. Of course. Come on in. May I ask the Colonel: (a) is this an official visit? And (b) may I mix you a drink?

Colonel Milt: (a) Yes, it is, and (b) you certainly may.

Major Marco: Scotch all right?

Colonel Milt: Fine. My God, where'd ya get all the books?

Major Marco: I ... I got a guy picks 'em out for me at random. Water all right?
Colonel Milt: Fine.

Major Marco: He's in, uh ... San Francisco. A little bookstore out there. And, uh... he ships 'em to me, wherever I happen to be stationed.

Colonel Milt: Have you read them all?

Major Marco: Yeah. They'd also make great insulation against an enemy attack. But the truth of the matter is that I'm just interested, you know, in principles of modern banking ... and the history of piracy ... the paintings of Orozco ... modern French theatre ... the jurisprudential factor of the Mafia administration ... diseases of horses ... and the novels of Joyce Cary ... and ethnic choices of the Arabs. Things like that.

Colonel Milt: Ben.

Major Marco: Sir.

Colonel Milt: The army's got a lot of things wrong with it, but it does take care of its own people, which is why I'm here. As a public relations officer, you're a disaster.

Major Marco: I never wanted the job.

The Apocalypse .... or Ragnarok .... or ....

Me, either. I never wanted the job. Most of them. Some of them I did, I guess. But, mostly, I like to move around and hang out here and there. Life does catch up to you at times, though, and sometimes a bit of work is required for a bit of money (honey) or, more simply, a necessity to maintain self-discipline and to accomplish a goal or two or .... you know ....

Since I was a junior in high school -- sometime during the months when I moved from age sixteen to age seventeen -- the number seventeen became unlucky for me. Laugh if you wish. I am superstitious. Fine for you if you are not.

So, I assume you have noticed .... this year is 2017. You might imagine what is on my mind. One thing has been thinking back about how many times I could have been dead or should have been dead -- remembering the past and wondering if this year of 2017 will be like running a gauntlet.

I will not go into the litany of why it is the way it is about the number seventeen, suffice to say more than a few bad things have occurred in my life which I identify with the calendar date or some person, place or thing in which the number seventeen has had a role. No litany, but a few isolated examples without details of the dreaded number of seventeen:

When I was seventeen, I went through the ice on a lake three times in one week. Twice, I was near enough to the shoreline so that the water was only four or five feet deep. No big deal. The third time I was in the middle of the lake while taking a "short cut" home after hunting and where, I knew from having swum across the lake twice during past summer months and periodically diving to the bottom to learn the various depths, the water was about twelve feet deep.

Sometime, I might explain why I still am here and not at the bottom of that lake, but in the interest of brevity -- I am laughing again -- I will pass over that segment of the story for now, as well as any mention of other times in other years of feeling the ice collapse beneath me ....

I was sort of a wild one as a teenager and "liked" to tempt or to dare fate. (Please, do not tell my mother.) There was a "game" called a "chickie run" -- which, as you might guess, had nothing to do with "chicks." Two guys (I am not aware of any girls who did it) would separate by about a mile on an isolated road and drive their cars at each other as fast as the cars would run. Whoever would turn away at the last moment was a chicken.

Die or be a chicken. Crazy, hah? Yeh, so is life. We did it -- I did it twice as a driver and once as a passenger, all while I was seventeen -- even though seven who we knew in two cars had been killed doing it when neither driver swerved. They all were in high school (and, probably, mostly, if not all, age seventeen).

We will skip over the Marine Corps and its relationship to the number seventeen for this exercise, although I do have four good stories including an "Alamo" tale I could tell you if you had your own "bona fides" (no punks allowed) and got me drinking heavy some night -- or morning .... or afternoon ....

Well, anyway baby/honey/sweetie or whoever you think you are, I trust you follow my drift. (If you think you are all three -- baby/honey/sweetie -- wrapped up in one, give me a call !!)

Yes .... back on point .... we are about to enter 2017, and superstitious me is looking over my shoulder as I walk along through an entire year whose name is seventeen. Without more details about how the number seventeen factors into all these events, its "bad luck significance" is not sharply defined -- but, trust me, it is there, lurking in the background.

It seems everything I write these days is long, long, long, so I will try to begin to wrap this up: I plan on keeping a low profile for a while (laugh, if you must). My current existence, which includes the sea of blogs, does not hold my fascination any longer. Specifically regarding the blogs, they do not seem to serve a purpose for me as they once did.

 (To be continued .... at least, that is the plan ....)

Something special ....