Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Past New Year's Eve in Lidgerwood

May your coming year be full of hopes fulfilled and dreams realized.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008


While we lived as though we were poor people when I was a kid, there were a few things we never were without and fresh fruit was one of them. Oranges and grapefruit all winter long and apples in spring and fall and strawberries and watermelon and grapes all summer and other delicacies like pears and peaches and cherries when they were in season. Waiting for the store bought pears to ripen is a sweet suspense to see if they will turn out creamy and sweet or gritty and bland. But during the wait, they are a visual and tactile delight.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Dad's Trees

He had them moved in with a tree spade and watered them in and fertilized them and pruned them and weeded them and watered them some more. It wasn't that long ago, yet it was.

Happy holidays. May yours be filled with joy and the company of fine people and good memories.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Scenes from a Winter Walk

We gripe and moan about the cold and the inconvenience of the snow but we don't mean it. Well, okay, we mean it, but we wouldn't give it up. Okay, we would sure give it up if we had the chance, but sometimes, we do see a good to it. This trail along the river is beautiful in spring when there are buds on the trees and frogs peeping and wildflowers under the trees. It is pretty in the summer with trees in full leaf and birds flitting about and lush ferns in the woods. It is gorgeous in the fall when the leaves are yellow and orange and the air is rich with organic scents and the grasses turn various shades of tan and brown. But in winter, layers of beauty add dimensions that cannot be imagined in warmer seasons. Depending on the temperature and the wind conditions and the snow cover and the humidity in the air, there can be frost or hoarfrost or snow clinging to branches or ice frozen in crystal droplets from branch tips. The river itself can be solid and covered in snow or glaze ice that reflects the blue sky or icy chunks piled up along edges of a flowing center. Tracks of animals and birds tell us there is still life out there and berries glow red against the duller colors of the bare branches and seed pods show bare and sculptural from stems along path. The trail in winter varies from day to day in subtle ways that only those with the spirit and attitude to get out there anyway will enjoy. Be one of them and bundle up and get outside today!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Asleep At The Wheel

I drove the route again a while ago and tried to find the place. I had no luck in my search because it had snowed another many inches and the big trucks with their long armed blades that plow the snow well past the shoulders of the road had been out. My tracks had been snowed over and plowed away, but I did see many mail boxes and sign posts that I could have smashed into. I saw utility poles and trees that I could have wrapped the van around. I saw stone walls and metal guard rails that I could have sideswiped and careened off into oncoming traffic. I saw ditches deep enough to roll a van into and others so steep that I would have ended up far from the road in the valley below after how many flips and tumbles? When I awoke at the wheel, steering myself back onto the roadway as ice and snow flew past my windshield and across my side window, and as I was thrown into the opposite lane by wheels apparently turned too sharply to the left, with traffic far enough down the road to allow me time to adjust back into my lane, I was lucky indeed to have been on one of the few stretches of the road where such a correction was possible. Driving the route again, seeing the obstacles and conditions of the shoulders of the winding and hilly Wisconsin roads, I was impressed more deeply than ever with the truth of what one friend said, which was "You are lucky to be alive" and with the even graver truth of what another friend said, "You could have killed someone!"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hundreds of Tiny Rubber Chickens

Actually, for the purposes of absolute truthfulness, they are plastic.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Over and Over and Over and Over and OFF!

I am a sad blogger. My laptop is broken. It froze. Like a deer in headlights. Like a Dew left in the car in winter. Like the nozzle of the Super Glue the next time you try to use it. So I restarted it in some special mode and ran some recovery stuff. And some more recovery stuff. My son tried to feed it some CDs. I reset some stuff and cleared some stuff. Now when I try to power it up, it pops up this crude looking window that says something about a password not matching and starts the start up process over until it gets to that window and starts the start up process over until it gets to that window and starts the start up process over until it gets to that window and starts the start up process over until it gets to that window and starts the start up process over . . .
So I have few posts scheduled and I might log in from the laptops of others, but don't count on any comments getting approved quickly or any clever or biting emails from me or any regular posts or any brilliant new Power Point presentations on natural landscaping or the aesthetic principles of art. I am down for a while, a blogger without a laptop, one whose social like depends on email, and whose news comes from online news magazines and various blogs that point me to interesting stories. It is different world, unwired. Not better, not worse, just . . . different. I miss it. But I will maybe read some books? You know, paper books, maybe some of the good kind with hard covers and those annoying dust jackets that slip off. Maybe I will get the artwork for the compass rose for the slate tile done. Maybe I will clean the accumulated piles of riffraff around the house. Maybe I will catch up on napping. Maybe I will solve the remaining questions of physics. Maybe I will call my "PC Medic" again and get the damn thing fixed.
"Thank you for your patience and understanding."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Light from Candles

Season's Greetings

What do we celebrate at Christmas when the religious message has lost its meaning?
We can still celebrate family and how you can always count on people called family to love you and support you and protect you and care for you even as they make gentle fun of you for your flaws and weaknesses. The gatherings we remember, the gatherings we share this season, and the gatherings we look forward to in future years are a celebration of that family support and a visible sign that it is and will be.
We can exchange gifts and get together for luncheons or parties with friends who are almost as supportive and necessary to our lives as our own families. We can tell such people how much they mean to us under the guise of holiday greetings in words that would make them blush in a less emotional season.
We can celebrate the beauty of the nature of the season, the snow, the drops of water frozen into icicles, the evergreen greens, the branches of the bare trees, and the seeds and berries and pods that represent the potential for life that spans the cold and only-apparently barren winter.
We can celebrate the bounty that is ours that allows us to be safe and warm on such cold and blustery days of winter.
Even when religion has been sifted out for us, there is still plenty to celebrate and enjoy. May the holiday season bring you blessings of nature and of family and of friends.

Wisconsin Prairie in December

Garfield Conservatory in January

Lake Lida in Late Afternoon on New Year's Eve

Ludden Jail Break Out

He didn't do any of the things they charged him with. But he had no alibi. It isn't his fault he likes to sleep under the stars in his pickup truck box in whatever back road shelter belt or corn field he happens to be near. And yeah, the guns all have reasons for being in there. You'd find hunting licenses in his wallet that explain every kind of weapon he had and anyway, there's nothing wrong with having a few extra as a hobby. And he hadn't been drinking either, no matter how many cans and bottles were on the floor of his pickup. He does feel a moral obligation to pick those things up off the roadside, and no matter how many times we tell him to put them in a garbage bag in the back, he still just tosses them on the passenger seat floor. And no, he was not speaking incoherently. When he left us, he was talking about some new article on some physics project in Australia about bubbles and how they expand and how that relates possibly to the expansion of the universe and that may have seemed incoherent to the sheriff's deputy, but it was not. Just because the local law enforcement does not follow physics is no reason to charge our friend with all the open cases in the county. Well, we realized there was no way he was going to beat all those charges they had stacked up against him and and he couldn't afford the kind of lawyer it would take to even try and anyway, he was ready to move on to a different state, so we had to bust him out. It is surprising how secure those little town jails can be. We left a couple hundred dollars on the desk under a rock to cover any damages to the door frames and locks, and I hope it was enough. We gave him the rest of our cash for gas money and some of the holiday goodies we had in bags and boxes and tins and let him take any warm clothes we had in our cars and sent him on his way. One of us gets a postcard from him now and then. I think he was in Utah, last anyone heard.

Friday, December 5, 2008

December Afternoon

Trees cast long purple shadows across the flat snow.
Cats pounce on voles in the waving sunlit yellow grass.
Red barns share hillsides with white farmhouses.
Flocks of birds surge and swerve against the blue sky.
Rust prairie patchworks with lines of dark corn stubble.
White layers cap the almost black branches of evergreens in rows.
Horses stomp and breathe out bright white steam.
Ginger leaves cling to oak trees at the edges of woods.
At dusk, clouds of amber and apricot and smokey blue grey slide in.
These are the colors of Wisconsin in winter.