Tuesday, September 16, 2014


It was a foggy start to the day today, so much so that traffic even slowed down on some roads!  These probably would have been better if I had started a bit earlier but you know how that goes.  Some days you just can't move quickly enough in the morning.

The last photo of the leaf is a harbinger of things I don't want to see.  One of the down sides to living in a woods and living across from a 1,000+ acre woods is that there probably are a few leaves.  A few leaves to rake once they fall, too.  I'm betting that that they all will blow onto my lawn.  But I bet it will be pretty. The sunset was from a few days ago and was taken on Higgins Lake

Monday, September 15, 2014

Irony on paper

So I have mentioned my latest, well, obsession, with printing presses, and I mentioned buying an English press.  It needed a few parts, especially a chase and rollers and I was having a hard time finding them at the usual printing supply places where I offer my custom.

I speak like that because the internet, as we know, is a wonderful thing in that it has made the world a much smaller place.  When I Googled Adana, the name of the press, I found Caslon Limited, the successor to the original Adana press supply company.  When I asked if they had parts for this 80+ year old press, they simply asked if I wished for new parts or refurbished, as they had both.  They sent me a PDF of their "offer sheet" and in their words, I offered my custom.  New and used parts are on their way whilst I wait, sipping tea and eating crumpets.

I had to laugh, though, at their e-mail of the receipt.  They sent it as a PDF, which is fine.  But this printing supply company cautioned against printing out the receipt because of the environment!  Seems an odd notice for a company that just sold me printing supplies so I can print reams of paper.  Not odd, but really and truly ironic.

I wonder if my press can print PDFs...

Dear Customer

Thank you for your recent order.   Attached you will find a copy of the invoice relating to this order attached as a PDF file.  If you have any queries relating to the invoice feel free to contact the Sales Office.

Please note that if you require us to send you a hard copy of the invoice, please let us know.

Best Regards
Sales Office

Caslon Limited, Caslon House, Lyon Way, St. Albans, Herts AL4 0LB / UK
Telephone: +44 (0)1727-852211 Facsimile: +44 (0)1727-855772
Website: www.caslon.co.uk Email: sales@caslon.co.uk

Consider the environment. Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to!

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Living in the wilderness has allowed me to commune with nature a bit more than I have been used to doing.  I have told you about the mouses and turkeys and the wasps, but I haven't mentioned seeing countless deer or the occasional bear.  In fact, I see the bear (a bear?  It is hard to tell them apart) every few days on my way to or from work.  I wish he/she was on the far side of my commute but I see "it" within a mile or two of my castle.  Hmm…

I have done pretty well so far.  The mice seem to have been conquered for now as they regroup for future attacks and the winter.  A bit of shock and awe wasp spray seems to have done the trick with those guests.  The dear deer have avoided my grill and the rest of the car, and if I can only stop them from crapping on my driveway, I will be fine.  Nothing starts your day off right besides getting in the car and realizing that your loafers smell like deer poop.  Right now, it is Jason one and turkeys zero, though there are so many of them around that I am not sure that total will stay so low.

It is kind of fun.  Last night, I saw something that I haven't seen before.  I went out about 11PM to try my luck at taking photos of the night sky.  While I was setting up, I heard a slight scuffle, and I turned my Maglite towards the noise.  What did I see but a beautiful black and white cat!  It had a big fluffy tail, and had unusual markings of a white stripe or two down its back.  I like cats.  This one was so cute. It sat almost next to me, within 5 feet for about 15 minutes just watching me.  Who would let such a pretty cat be outside?  Poor kitty.  Then I saw several other kitties with it.  Strange, but they all had that same marking and they had really pretty tails.  I bet I could get one as a pet if I am patient.  That would take care of the mice!

I love the wilderness.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunset, sunrise

Though it is a Sunday and I could have slept til when ever, I was up at 6AM, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  Not sure why but I think it stemmed from my very restless night.  It was one of those nights where you destroy your bed by tossing and turning.  Maybe it was the scallops that I ate last night for dinner.

One benefit of being an early riser is that you do see a lot more sunrises.  This was at the same lake I was at a few days ago, but Mother Nature or whichever higher deity was a bit more subtle today.  The sunrise today looked more like a Turner painting of the Thames, though I am not sure if that simile could be possible.  The photos look soft and out of focus but it was the mist/fog rising off the lake on this cool late summer morning.  These were taken with a point and shoot--this photography thing isn't that hard.  Again, click to make larger.

The clouds above the tree were last night's sunset.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


I am sorry, but it is fall no matter what we wish it to be.  School is back in session, nights are getting longer and days are getting shorter, and gasp, the trees are changing color already.  We may have fought the good fight, and we may not be ready, but yes, fall is here.

I was in Wisconsin this past weekend for lots of reasons. I earned a job, and will be spending some serious time on Ebay selling fountain pens. I then wanted to head north to see my land.  People have asked if the flowers that were planted have grown and the answer is sadly, no.  Not a one.  I suppose there are lots of reasons--too cold, too wet, too too, and too much of that, too.  I will be more intentional next spring.  There were some flowers around so I did get to take some photos.

The sunset is on the way back home, Lake Superior in all its glory, and a moon shot of sorts.  I was also happy to find a small grove of real live aspens, not these boring birch trees.

The wasp nest is new.  I have been plagued with pests in my little piece of Nirvana--I think I have battled the mice to a standstill, though I still hear Marious's small mousy voice singing "Empty chairs and empty tables" and the same voice exhorting others to "man the barricades."  My gazebo is stalked by spiders the size of juvenile wolves, and now this.  I noticed this basketball-size wasp nest on one my garage doors this afternoon.  Now I was in and out of this very same garage door last week and never noticed this and I think I would have--the nest is bigger than my head.  my new neighbors aren't exactly subtle and there is a ton of waspish traffic in and out of their new condo.  Geez.  What next, locusts?  I am not sure how to tackle this one.    I guess wait for a cold morning and use chemicals and then more chemicals.  This is really hard--I really am a live and let live kind of guy, but wasps, spiders, and mice don't get a lot of sympathy.

It is OK that fall is here.  Change is good, right?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gifts, surprises, and prizes

One of the great things about the start of school in the fall is the change in time, or really timing.  I left at 6:20 when it was dark, but I forgot my phone and I had to rewind my morning a bit.  It was 6:40 when I finally left, and soon I was glad that I had to "waste" that time.  If I hadn't I would have missed one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever seen.  I drive by a small lake called Marl Lake and as I drove by, I caught a brief glimpse of red and when I drove into the lot, I saw this sunrise.  These few photos cover about 15 minutes--by 7:00 the sky was fading.  I always use Photoshop lightly and only to sharpen and slightly adjust the exposure and the color if it makes people green.  The sky truly and honestly looked just like these photos--no filters, not tricks, just a pretty good painter.

What a gift, what a surprise, and what a prize to start the day.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to school...

Today was the first day of classes and all in all, things went reasonably well.  There was some angst and frustration and some crisis, real and imagined, but it was pretty much a normal first day of classes.  All classes are staffed, and I only have to teach one math class for one period to make it happen.  That is pretty good--there were some semesters where I had less success and taught more that first week.  It is fun to see the campus with students, though there are fewer, I think, than anyone hoped.  Many schools are reporting lower numbers this year.

It is an interesting thing that the better the country/economy is doing, the lower the community college enrollment becomes.  It is job related.  If people can get jobs they do so and skip classes and college.  If the economy is doing poorly, people come and take classes so that they will be better trained so they can get better jobs.  When you read that carefully, you can see the challenge--so if they can get a job they don't need training?  Well, maybe not right now…

I did notice about 2:00 this afternoon that it was very dark outside.  It was beautiful this morning but that didn't last the day.  It was very dark looking out my window.   Did I mention that my office has a huge window?  Probably not since I would not want to gloat to those who look out over a parking lot.  I can see grass and sometimes even turkeys.  Really.  But whatever.  We had a real live thunderstorm this afternoon and it was so dark the automatic lights came on.  Brief heavy rain, but no damage.  It really just provided me an excuse not to mow my lawn tonight, though it didn't take much.  It was fun to see people in the rain.  I could have made better pictures but hey, I'm not going out in it!!  I might melt or something.

It is just amazing how if you buy one press, they multiply.  I earned another press today, an Adana 4x6 press from England.  This was made in London in about 1935, I think, so it is a bit different.  How it got to Michigan is anyone's guess, but I am glad that it did.  It weighs a ton (tonne) as it has a massive cast iron base and it is pretty solid.    I wonder if will make me spell things differently, like "defence" and "colour" and fittingly, "analogue."  It is, after all, partially made  of aluminium and it is grey.  I wonder who will get that reference.

Some people have asked for a mouse update, and I hope I can say I am making progress.  Actually I feel like I am running a trapline.  This morning I (un) ceremoniously dumped the three mice I caught/killed/slaughtered/etc into the trash.  I feel more like Danny and Red in a Jim Kjelgaard novel, trapping for fur in the Wapati beech forests.  Despite the obscure literary reference (but I do love those books) I hope you understand.  That makes five mice in as many days.  Seriously.  I could make a mouse-skin rug for the fireplace, though it might not cover much.  Hmm…now there is an idea.  I am not a fan of this, and I wish there was an alternative, but coexistence doesn't seem very likely.  Hopefully that is all the news I will have from this front, though I think I did see one more rebel soldier earlier tonight.  Drat!  The battle continues.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Roscommon, 0930

One of the rebel leaders fell last night.  If only I could say it was THE rebel leader but I know they are still out there.  The battle began, of course, in the middle of the night near the the large, man-made device for lounging.  There had been significant evidence of rebel activity near there, so I cleverly placed a new type of trap to lure him/it/her in.  Food was the key and it worked.  It was a bit sticky but it was soon over.  His sleek body did not look hungry, but he was perhaps looking out for others.

I buried him with full honors in an empty cheeto bag. Soon the drawstring was pulled tight on the glad white shroud and he was on his way to the next stage of his journey, Valhalla-near-the-curb.  I was not gloating, I was not satisfied with this war, for I know it is not over.  It was not the war to end all wars, but merely a battle.  Eternal vigilence is the cost of turd-free tables, I know that.  Now, battle tested and strong, I will persevere in this fight.  THIS IS MY HOUSE, MOUSE!  It is me that is roaring.

All that aside, two down, probably others to go.  The guy at the hardware store where I bought $29.00 of anti-mouse weapons said I was not the only one doing so.  Perhaps an early winter?  Wow.  Yay.  I suspect that there will be others.  With a house with a crawl space and living in the woods it is inevitable.  But I do know that while they are incredibly unpleasant, the glue traps do work. Beware, little mousies!!!   But yuk.  Just yuk.  PETA be damned on this one.  If a rare elephant moved in and crapped on my counter, I would just say "hey, dude, the place is yours, I am leaving."  But if a ubiquitous field mouse does the same, I will fight.  Please tell me they aren't on some protected list.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dispatch from the front

O630, from somewhere SW of Roscommon

The fighting continues in my sector and has intensified dramatically in the past 24 hours.  The enemy has brought in reinforcements, and the battle has spread.  Small pieces of evidence of their ever-present existence litter the landscape and clearly show that the fight needs to be escalated and expanded if we ever hope to defeat this insidious enemy and protect the American way of life.  If I don't make a stand here, the battle will spread.  If not here, where?  Can I imagine this enemy everywhere?  Soon Thailand, then eventually India and then Europe.  We need a Waterloo.  I will learn to fight from behind the trees, with a tank, and drones haven't been excluded.   History infuses and inspires my battle skills and strategies  THEY MUST BE STOPPED!

My benevolent feeding program, cleverly designed to bring the enemy to a large scale battle where my superior technology will overwhelm them,  has not worked.  They have turned this humane way to be defeated against me and instead use it as a rebel feeding program.  Traps that I oh so cleverly set to engage them are robbed, ROBBED, of the vital food this kind hand leaves.  Yet I miss them as they flee back into hiding, disappearing into the to the mist and fog of this awful war.  In fact, I have been wounded in this battle.  I was tired from my ceaseless vigilance and my mind wandered but for a millisecond and the very trap that I set for these vermin grievously wounded me--my thumb, my hand, is in tatters.  Oh, I fight not to swoon at the pain!  That's it.  There will be no more scraps of pizza crust, corn on a plate or peanut butter smears.  They will have to learn to live off the land as I have in this terrible conflict.

I have thought about bringing reinforcements, but I hesitate.  Would a cat be more effective?  A bear?  I wonder.  But I, who is in the the trenches, gallantly refuses this escalation.  It is a man to mouse conflict that I long for, with none of these secret night raids with booby traps left behind like bread crumbs. What honor is there in this?  How can I ever win?  Face me!  Meet thy doom!  We will fight for glory!

I am weary

I persevere.

I will win!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mouse in my house...

This won't be a long post, as I am on a mission.  Well, I am really going hunting.  Right, hunting.  My house been invaded by a mouse, and since mouses like mooses seem to hang out together, I am betting that he (he is a stupid mouse, so I am going with "he") brought others of his ilk and family into my house.

I should have realized a bit sooner that I had house guests.  I had a bag of Cheetos on my counter, and when I picked it up there was Cheeto dust on the counter and the bag was open.  I blamed myself and my haste to eat those gourmet morsels.  Then, I went to have toast and there was a mouse-size hole in the bread bag and a corresponding mouse-sized tunnel through about 8 slices of bread.  Lastly I saw the tell tale droppings--on my counter no less!!!  Yep, I have mice.

I suppose that it isn't a stretch to imagine as I kind of am in the country.  But still, pooping on my counter?  I have two bathrooms and an acre lot outside.  It could have been more hygienic, you know.   So I have declared war on mice.  I bought a license, some camo-wear, and a 12 gauge shotgun, and some mouse traps of various types.  The big hardware store near here had 8 different kinds of ways to hasten the demise of the rascels.  I chose two kinds, sacrificed some peanut butter and cheese, set up my hunting blind and called the taxidermist for an advanced appointment. 

And my hunt was successful albeit not that successful for one mouse.  It really is kind of sad, and I am not so proud to say that the local mouse population has shrunk by one.  I do worry of an influx of others.   Maybe the tiny mouse hide nailed to the side of the house will deter others from entering but I am doubtful.  As I was sitting here on my couch, I heard a slight clatter from my counter.  I glanced over to the kitchen, and sure enough, a !@*&!*#&$ mouse was sitting there watching me.  And I think she was laughing.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Playing catch up

Yes, it has been too long.  Sorry.  Lots going on. Work at this new job, which had been just kind of languidly (good word, eh?  I've been reading!) moving along has begun to move far faster.  Kind of like Smetena's piece the River Moldau…at first very pastoral and then fast and busy as it approaches the city Praha.  Good reference, eh?  I've been listening to public radio, too!

Whatever.  It is busy.  I am busy.  Nothing too out of the ordinary for the penultimate week before school starts, but certainly enough to notice.  This week all the faculty come back. Next week, as a friend said, we get to hear the pitter patter of the feet of students.  That is always a good sound.

As you might have gathered, there are a few trees around here, and those trees are also present on the campus.  Apparently two years ago they cut down about one-third of all the trees on the central part of campus to open it up a bit and so you could see the other buildings.  Still, there are more trees on this campus than another campus I have been on.  Here are a few shots from a quintessential Michigan summer day.  In the third photo you can see my building framed by the trees.

My house continues to show small signs of progress.  All the boxes, cameras, and things are in their proper room, though of of course they aren't all unpacked.  I have six months, right?  I found a great drafting table for my "office" which is just the room between rooms that also has the stairs.  I think I will call the upstairs the tiki room for a lack of any better name for a room that really has no purpose.  Weirdest space in any room in any house ever.  I think I will call it my shooting room because of all the cameras…haha, get it???  Shooting room???  Geez I crack myself up.  Actually it is kind of fun.  It has two huge closets and a very large skylight.   And patterned linoleum and flowered wallpaper that together make my eyes hurt.  So, I guess it is about typical for Jason's house.  Call Martha Stewart!!!

Socially and all that.  Well, I am in the north woods.  What can I say.  That is OK.  I wonder what winter will be like.  When I moved to the Pacific Northwest, a friend said that Washington was a place for people who liked to read and who had dry skin, a reference to the frequent rainy weather.  I wonder what they would say about Michigan?  I am not going to buy a snowmobile!!!  I am just not.  However, I am seriously looking at a snow blower--does that make me a native?  Probably not.  It does, however, make me smart.

And I think that you should have indoor hobbies.  I have found mine.  I bought a printing press, and just as happened before, I almost immediately had three presses.  They are like Lays potato chips--no one can have just one.  So today I cleaned them up, got any rust off, and tried to get them ready to print.  They are actually in pretty good shape other than rollers.  I have to wait til payday and then some for rollers--I need four, and that is at least $500.  Yes, I know how many copies I can get made for that and yes, I know that I could just buy an Epson printer and a whole lot of ink for that.  But what fun is there in doing that?

There are two Sigwalt Baltimorean #10s and one Sigwalt Ideal #3.  Aren't they cute?  They make cool squeaky noises and clanks when you cycle them.  The two small ones can print business card size and a little bigger, and the larger one can print up to 4X6, but the way it is designed allows it to print stationery and larger things.  Cool, huh?  I have a big house, though, so I want at least one if not two more presses.  I would like to have a 6X9 or so and what I would really like to have is a proof press.  Maybe I can start a home for orphan presses.  You know, like a pet rescue place except for presses and misfit type.  Hey, it will be a long winter.  And I love the smell of ink and California wash in the morning.

I will disappear into the swirl of back to school stuff this next week or so, but that is typical.  I do look forward to this time of the year, though when it coincides with being new it does make it a bit more stressful.  I am really trying to do this without red wine--we will see how that goes.  So far, it has been OK.  I'll let you know on Thursday how that has worked out.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

More stuff

That is really my life.  Stuff and more stuff.  It has been quite a few weeks since I last posted.  Sorry about that, but life sometimes intrudes.  My job is actually becoming that, with all the positives and negatives of that.  I still continue to try and have some sort of a life, however unsuccessful I sometimes am at that.  All together, it makes for spotty blogging.  I will try and catch up in this post.

But there was a beautiful sunrise through the fog.  I need to share that before I go on.

My high school reunion...

I recently attended my high school reunion and while it three weeks ago or more, I am still processing all that it was.  First, I am convinced that the saying that old friends are the best friends is indeed true.  Having a base of common experiences is an expedient way to maintain friendships but also a way to rediscover old friends and to remember that old friends are still friends.  Does that make sense?  Knowing what playground one played on or where 2225 Keith St was is or can be an introduction or a reminder of where were we are from.  I have reconnected with several friends and that has been beyond fun.  They are, as my friend stated far more eloquently than I ever will, our heritage.  Whether we like it or not.  But mostly, I like it.    We are older (all of us) grayer and thicker (most of us) and slightly worn and tattered (all of us) but we are us, and all are metaphorically richer and more dimensional than we were 35 years ago.  And that is a good thing.

Work has become more challenging.  It is seasonally busier as I might have expected, but it is also more challenging for other reasons.  Change is difficult.  Always.  I haven't been able to figure out how to avoid this fact ever, and KCC is in the midst of change.  Sometimes I do feel that as new things are introduced, people associate new things to the new guy (me) and sometimes I face some/most/all of the blowback.  I know that this isn't always the case, but I am pretty sensitive to this.  I don't mind conflict, really.  But geez, I which conversations would start with "hey, what's up?" rather than you did/didn't/were/are/etc.  I have gotten several emails that start that way.  They make me defensive and limit/stifle conversations.  Oh well.  We will get through it.  Change, I do believe, is good.

One good thing is that I have bought two printing presses in the past month.  I have written here before that if (and I really do say if) I was ever an artist, I wanted to become a printer.  I have had presses in the past and haven't done too much with them.  Now, as I think about the upcoming very long winter, I have to think about occupying myself.  I found a tiny press at an antique show a few weeks ago, and it's big sister/brother on Craigslist this weekend.  I drove 210 miles to rescue it and the 6 drawers of type.  I'm in love!!!!  Together they are so cute.  And I start therapy later in the week, in case people are worried.   It really is quite nice, with some of the more than 75-year-old paint still in evidence.    Can you imagine why I might be single?  I am so cool, and that I have 2 presses in my living room confirms my coolness...

All in all, things are going OK.  It isn't easy being where I am, and that may be my biggest challenge.  Maintaining relationships of any kind is difficult, and I rue that. Part of that is just the way it is, but it can be insurmountable.  And that is hard and it sometimes hurts and is frustrating, but it is what it is.  It is frustrating that there are really only three kinds of frozen pizza/cheese/Cabs to choose from in town, but lots of different kinds of beer and cuts of pork.  Hey, a positive--there are at least 6 brands  of fried pork rinds to choose from, and more if you count the varieties ( bar-b-que, spicy, etc).  You can't say that everywhere.  I have averaged about 28+ miles per gallon with my car, but then I realized that there is no/zero/nada city driving involved in my life.  I rarely slow below 45 MPH.  It is hard to choose which place to eat if I want to go out--do I go to one of the two bar/diners, McDonalds, or to the gas station with the microwave? 

I have figured out that the way to survive/thrive is to expand my world a bit.  I was in up north a few weeks ago for a great concert with Allison Krause and Willie Nelson.  That was 90 miles away.  I was in Detroit (200) miles away, and and and...  I note it and whine a bit, but in the West, people drive that far for groceries or a movie.

Now, if I can just figure out how to set type upside down and backwards, I will be set until spring.