Archive - 2003


November 14th

Watching CSPAN2

A poor substitute for baseball, but it'll do. My friend Garth, a political junkie, called the other night to tell me there was a filibuster on the tube. So, I tuned in. Sen. Harry Reed (D-NV) had been on for seven hours. By the time I turned on the TV, he was reading from a book had written years ago about the town of Searchlight, Nevada. His purpose, of course, was to prevent any other business from taking place on the Senate floor.

November 13th

Thursday dawns bright and sunny

Fresh snow, blue sky, sunshine, icicles, hoar-frost on the swamp willows. A sparkling winter's easier to get out of bed when the sun shines through the bedroom window...MPR at full volume doesn't wake me up if its cloudy...neither does a stiff cup of now approaching the bottom of a tin of Folger's...I suspect the grounds at the grounds of a tin lack freshness...I expect a good jolt tomorrow morning when I open a new tin...of Hazelnut!

November 12th

Education reform

The state of Minnesota is once again revamping its education requirements--those mandates and orders from on high they hope will filter down to the classroom. After struggling for years with the ambiguous, bureaucracy-laden "Profile of Learning," a morass of fluffy ideas which confused more than it clarified, now the governor has put a traditionalist in charge who is going to require that kids memorize state capitals and know the Monroe Doctrine.

Word for the Day: Salubrious

Afternoon coffee-time discussion at the nursery today: I said I thought I would have some green tea. I have heard its effects are.... "Salubrious?" Joe piped up. Yes. Salubrious was the word I was searching for. But what does it mean? I thought beneficial would be a good synonymn. Joe thought healthful, and he ran to find a dictionary.

Ken, upon arrival of the dictionary: "They'll just use another big word to tell you what the first big word means." (Ken is our resident cynic. One of them, anyway.)

A Literary Attempted Homocide?

Spent last evening at my friend Lyla's. We solve the world's problems in the Red Nook, which is her study. Because we both read Dickens' David Copperfield in the last month, we discussed the characters as if they were family members.

November 11th

Small-town drug stores

Yesterday, I drove around peddling my book to area drug stores, as well as other places.

Times have changed for small-town drugs stores as a direct result of last year's state budget crisis. Insurance payments from the state were reduced to the point where the drug stores were being reimbursed less than their cost for some prescriptions. They had to fill the prescriptions to fulfill their contract with the state, but if they kept filling those prescriptions at that rate they would lose money.

MPR in the morning

My radio alarm comes on to the Morning Show on MPR with Dale Connelly and Jim Ed Poole. Yesterday, they played "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot, the great ballad written about a ore ship which sank in a storm on Lake Superior. Yesterday was the anniversary of the sinking. Many many memorable lines in the song which begins: "The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down, of the great lake they called Gitchagoomie."

November 10th


My favorite weekly newspaper is a rollicking small town paper out of Mendicino County California called the Anderson Valley Advertiser. It is run by Bruce Anderson, with a couple of dozen contributing writers.

Anderson has no fear. He rakes the local government over the coals. He goes after judges. He goes after school boards. He attacks the local radio station. He attacks environmental wackos as vigorously as he slices up right-wing nuts.

Liability, schmiability

I have heard some response to my column about saving old churches. Everybody says, yes, they should be saved, but who will pay the liability insurance? I have asked in return, how much is the liability insurance on a closed church? All I have heard in response is that it is horrible. Horrible.

Monday, Monday

Foggy this morning, but warmer. I much prefer temps right around freezing with overcast to cold and clear--during the day, at least. When it is in the single digits, clear and windy; when you drive to town accompanied by those wisps of dry snow sliding across the highway, that's when winter seems like it will never end. A few drips off the eaves, a crow cawing from the treetop, a foggy morning, and a person can imagine its the end of March.