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.

Monday, July 28, 2014


It has been a while since I have posted, and I say that with some regret.  I have had some things to say, but my mind has been busy and engaged in other things and this has suffered from lack of attention.  I will catch up, but as a short cut, I will post a link to an exceptional post.  I went to my 35th class reunion recently, and a class mate posted on his much more literate and spiritual blog about it.  Please see Steve Scott's post at  

You may have to copy and paste the address in your browser.  It's worth it

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This is a test...

I am having some problems with file compression and loading times.  I know--like "whatever, who cares?" 

I don't really care all that much but I had to check something by posting.  If nothing else, it shows that my backyard "garden" continues to surprise me.  I am not sure this is an actual rose but I don't know any other name to call it.  (sorry).  It is red.  It doesn't have thorns.  It just popped up.  Doesn't really matter, I guess, as posting this serves other purposes.  It is still an attractive flower.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Alive, yep, I am alive

It has been a bit since I wrote...what can I say besides that I have been busy?  I made the last trip for my remaining things, and increasingly my house is becoming a home.  My book cases are ful, clothes (mostly) put away, and my fridge is stocked.  I still need a few things, but it will all come together soon enough.  There is not one unpacked box in my living room (note all that this qualifies--I can't move any place else in the house because of unpacked boxes) and there are mostly pretty good paths through the rest of the house.

It isn't easy.  What does one do with 9 tripods and the corresponding cameras?  I have a whole upstairs which can handle that.  400 photo books?  15 coats?  No problem.  And so it goes.

The attached photos are yet more flowers.  I am sure you are asking if I know any people, and I do, but not well enough to take photos of them.  Besides, these are ok.  I have a macro lens but I have not used it for quite some time.  In this case it really is the best tool for the job  It is amazingly sharp--make sure you click to make the photos larger.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Week five, or about a month....

It is the start of week five of my Michigan sojourn--time goes by quickly up here in the woods.  Several weeks in May and now two weeks in June have convinced me that this is the correct job for me, so that is the overall positive take on all of this.  This is a good school with all the normal challenges of a community college in these changing times.  There are and will be enough challenges and tasks to keep this interesting!  I work with good people and that helps.  I just wonder if they know how good of a school this is or how great it can be--sometimes imagination is hard to see and measure.

I am getting settled in my house in the woods.  It is different to live surrounded so closely and completely with trees.  Generally I like it and really, it has been a goal to be so surrounded.  After all  this is what I have imagined for my 20 acres "back home."  Here it is just so complete.  I have driven on roads that appear to be almost tunnels through the trees and the trees do seem overly close sometimes.  But then they are beautiful, too.  I sat on my front porch yesterday for several hours and saw, felt and heard this.  It was windy and the wind was from all directions (keeping the mosquitoes at bay).  You could see the trees moving in all directions--the smaller trees swaying, the larger trees creaking and the leaves moving to and fro every which way.  The sound would swell from all directions but with imperfect stereophonic surround sound.  Sometimes it is pretty cool to live in the woods.

There are quibbles that I have to work out.  I am frustrated with cell coverage.  My goal was to use a hotspot of one kind of another, and while it sort of works, I will not be downloading any movies.  I can barely post a photo.  It took 17 minutes to download a book from those Kindle people.  You know, the people who say you can enjoy the book on your device in just a few moments?  So my provider has a solution.  Get high speed internet and then plug that into a network extender.  Then your wifi hotspot and your phone will work better.  I did mention that if I had high speed internet that  I probably wouldn't need a hotspot, but the clerk did not get the irony.  In the mean time, I am tired of wrapping myself in tin foil and hanging out of the top window by one arm if I want to make a call after 5:00.  I tried saran wrap but that didn't work as well and the neighbors were a bit put off by the view...

I have found that I just have to drive a bit for what I might want.  Tired of Folger's coffee?  Drive 45 miles.  Food from a different continent?  25-50 miles.  A really good grocery store with great  bread and cheese?  60-plus miles.  But finding all of this would have been a whole lot more challenging if I was in Bangladesh, so I am not isolated at all.  Comparatively.

Pictures are from yard mostly.  Included are views from my deck and flowers.  The road was taken (I'll let you figure that out) this morning on my way to work.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Petoskey Rocks!

I am in Petoskey for a dean's meeting--it is supposed to be all the liberal arts deans in the state but only about 10 came.  I guess that is one more difference between Michigan and Minnesota--give Minnesota deans a chance to go to a vacation wonderland and there would be 200 of them who would have made the trip.  I heard lots of stories today and learned more about the community colleges in the state.  As usual, you hear schools that have bigger issues and stranger stories than you can ever imagine.  Trust me on this

We ate tonight at the historic Perry Hotel, a 115 year-old institution.  Heck, even Hemingway ate/slept/drank there, so it must be famous.   It is also famous because it is painted a very bright light yellow.   The lilacs are just starting to bloom around here since the the lake still has cubes of ice bobbing along.  The lilacs look pretty good, even if they are a bit late.

Interestingly enough, these photos remined me that my first photo that I ever took for the Leader-Telegram (in May of 1979) was of lilacs.  These are better photos than I took 35 years ago, which should tell you how bad those photos were.  That is positive--my photos have improved a little bit after all that practice.  Give me a few years to work on this, OK? 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I suppose it is early for flowers..I anticipate that this roadside will be filled with this type of daisy, so I will be visit it again in a few weeks.  Again and as always, click to see a larger version.