Sunday, August 30, 2015


I have noticed that it is dark once again when I awake and often, even as I head to work a little later.  My days stretch into dusk now and the trend of even shorter days will continue.  What I like about it is that it is so subtle--a few minutes of light at the beginning and end of the day just disappear.

I think sunflowers are like these coming fall days.  If you have a field with a few hundred thousand sunflowers in bloom, they don't just turn dark.  As some faded, there were a few that are still bright and that catch your eye, or at least they caught mine.  I actually like the contrast between the bright blooms and their more faded neighbors.  It isn't a stretch for back-to-school metaphor, though it hurts a wee bit to be reminded which sunflower I am in the field of "sunflowers" that fill schools across the country.  Sigh…

I have never taken photos of a sunflower field despite lots of sunflower photos.  I was glad to find a field, in part because I was inspired this year by this great story from Wisconsin.  Check this out:  To celebrate a life and a love, a stretch of four-plus miles was planted with sunflowers.  My photos have no such lofty goals.  They just celebrate shorter days.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


While the entries are not exactly overflowing my inbox, the ones that I have received are pretty good.  I am disappointed by the lack of entries from my friends in higher ed--what's going on, are you busy or something????

Beautiful blue sky
Riding as fast as I can
Seasons are a gift 


You know, I sometimes think that I should document my life, these travels and adventures, in verse but I know I am not qualified or skilled enough.  At best I can manage three lines and 17 syllables.  If I were better, I could move up to a limerick but that is hard--where do you go after "There once was a boy from Roscommon?"  If only I lived in Flint!

Dark, threatening skies
Harbinger of cold, cold rain
44--it's fall

Monday, August 24, 2015


Monday afternoon
Wrigley field for the Cubs game
Back to school can wait

Have to find a job
Where I work one hour a week
Oh wait, I have one

First entries

Fall rolled in last night
Morning breezes, shivering
Not enough covers

Waiting for the bus
Bouncing children; photographs
One more scrapbook page

Back to school

It is my first day of school, with all its fun!  Where is that teacher?  Yes, online classes start today, too!  No, you can't start your class in two weeks when your kids go to school!  Please sign the 70 contracts NOW!  And so on.  So why not procrastinate a bit and write some poetry?  I wish I could take the time to write a 14 line sonnet, but first I would have to learn how to do that--I am a dean, not a vice-president--I don't have that much time!

So the first annual (my journalism friends will hate that) fall back-to-school Haiku contest is now underway!  Get published!  Earn the respect of your peers in this peer-edited blog! Exercise and/or exorcise your creative demons!  Or simply procrastinate, like me, and submit your very own fall/back to school Haiku.

The backpack has been thrown down.  Do your best.  All will be published.

New backpacks, new shoes
crisp paper, sharp new crayons (or Empty notebooks, new pencils)
It's a new school year
Summer is fading
The school year pushing it away
Fall comes, unwanted.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fair time...

I went to the fair last night, the Ogema County Fair.   It was NOT the state fair by any means,but it was fun. Like all fairs, it had food and rides and animals and people, but this one just had a whole lot less of all the above.  If there were 25 swine or 30 cows, I would be surprised as I thought there were fewer than that.  The avian flu shuttered the poultry exhibit, and really, this area just isn't that agricultural.  If we had a fair that showed our ag products, we would have pens of trees.  Generally they would smell better but it just wouldn't be the same.

I wasn't that inspired in part because of the poor food choices.  Honestly, they didn't even have cheese curds.  Really.  What kind of a fair doesn't have cheese curds?  I suppose the kind of fair that isn't in Wisconsin…  I have been to so many fairs over the years so I think I completed the checklist of required fair photos.  Let's see--cute animals?  Check.  Bright lights, etc from rides?  Check.  Darn--I missed the shot of a 4H member showing/cuddling/washing their animal!  At least I didn't get cow/sheep/pig poop on me within 12 steps of my car.  I have heard that happens.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


School starts in a week, and it is busy.  I worked most of yesterday and then worked again today.  I am still in need of faculty (anyone want to teach Bio?  Call me) but from my conversations with my colleagues around the state, everyone is having challenges finding faculty.  Blame the good economy and the fact that Michigan is a right to work state.  Plus, while I am proud that my school pays more than most, it is still about 40% of what Minnesota pays for adjunct faculty and only 30% of what California pays.  So I am still busy...

I did get to go sailing last week or ratther, I got to go and watch sailing from a classic wooden boat.  A friend from high school was over here watching/helping his son sail in a big race on Lake Huron.  It was great.  I hope someone smiles at least at that.  It was fun, with perfect weather.  Since I am new to photography, I of course  had the wrong lens but when you are in a perfect spot with photogenic water and boats, you usually can find a photo.  I am not marine oriented, that is for sure.  I almost embarrassed myself and lost my breakfast over the side, but I gamely held on.  My friend was gracious, and just encouraged me to sit closer to the side--no doubt he was thinking of his bilge.  I just pointed out that this was not my environment and that he would probably get sick in some the meetings that I have to sit through!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Olive jade apple
beryl emerald moss sea
sage pea kelly  green

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Northern Exposure

Well, there were no mooses but it was "Up North."  I went to Port Wing (again) and along the way I took some "exposures."  Sorry for the out of order photos.  Sometimes that just happens.  The blue sky with the clouds was but a harbinger of the weekend.  The moon is of the so-called Blue Moon.  I have a pretty good shot of the moon, but this was a bit different.  If I was a less ethical photographer, I would have

taken two photos with two different exposures and merged them together with Photoshop magic, but I won't do that.  This photo was a compromise.  The late sunsets were from the trip back to Iron River.  I suppose I could have used a tripod but I still kind of like these.  Note the photo of my favorite barn--I have numerous photos of this barn on my blog.  There are a few photos of my land--note the clearing that has taken place.  One more chunk and it will be almost cabin/shed/hovel ready.  There are also two pictures of real artists, taken by some hack with a camera.  There was an eau plein painting workshop and contest--that was fun to watch happening and then there was an art show of the work in town.  No doubt about it, Port Wing is a happening place!

The photo of the building with a tree coming out of it is my garage.  Did I mention clouds?  Northern Michigan was slammed by a storm Sunday night.  I missed much of it because I was stuck on I-75 trying to come back.  The two hour trip from the "bridge" to my home should have taken 2 hours--it took me 5 1/2 or so.  Monday AM my neighbor informed me of the new skylight in my garage.  Rafters are broken, and good chunk of the back corner is gone..  Pretty tough on my garage but it could have hit my house.  My school is still without power and I have been trying to work from home and deal with with adjusters and construction guys and tree guys and and and...

Oh well.  School is supposed to be open tomorrow so we will be back at it. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Random heavy thoughts

Not much to say, but thought that I would share some photos, and I suppose not much to say with them or about them.  As one of my readers pointed out, my photos aren't invidious.  What a great word--it means something that can cause ill-will or offense or both, like the Donald.  Really, that is what it says in the dictionary.  I think that was praise, but it was rather faint.  None-the-less, a sunrise, flowers, and bees.  I mean, who can be mad at bees?

And an anvil.  I obviously have weird hobbies, and I haven't shied away from hobbies that require a strong back.  I have two printing presses that probably weigh about as much as this anvil, but I have to say that this is a serious chunk of metal.  Made about 1910 by the Hay-Budden Company in Brooklyn, this was a great find in general and for my budding career as a blacksmith.  It weighs 125 pounds so you have to tighten your belt and lift with your legs when you move this thing.  It was rusty but it's solid, and it rings like a bell when struck.  And it was cheaper than chicken, which is another way to say that I got a great deal on this--it was less than $2 per pound, which is very good for an anvil of this vintage.  Plus, it is from one of the best American anvil companies.  Who knew people actually ranked anvil companies?  I am learning a lot about anvils--there is even a book about American anvils, but I am waiting for the movie to come out.  Now all I need is a forge...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

For Esmè and Bannanafish

I have not been all that productive this weekend, which is OK.  I puttered and I puttered some more.  I ate, I drank, and was mostly merry.  And I did read and it was even a real book.  I have fallen into the habit of reading mostly on Kindle on one device or another.  It is convenient, and mostly quite easy on my eyes.  But it does make me wince every time I walk by my library with its several thousand volumes, all real books.  I almost randomly chose a real book to read today, and it made me smile at its importance.

Most of us have read Catcher in the Rye, and that is good.  J.D. Salinger's book is one of those classics that make up what we think of as cultural literacy.  His 1953 collection of short stories, titled Nine Stories is also a classic.  I'm not going to give a book report, but I can promise that this book contains some of the best short stories (and certainly my favorite short stories) ever.  They are, and the word is totally inadequate, vivid.  I have read and reread this collection and it moves me.  "For Esme, with Love and Squalor," is without a doubt one of my favorite short stories ever.   It proves I am a sentimental sap, but it is also very well written, as is "A Perfect Day for Bannanafish."

It proves that reading a real book now and again is worth it.

The photos are random.  My first bonfire brightened my evening.  I was cleaning my hammers ( and I bet not many of your friends ever use or can use that phrase!)  and thought that they looked cool.  I am on the search for hammers for my blacksmithing career.  Ebay is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't seem like hammers are sold individually--they need two or three others so the hammer count is adding up.  But they are fun.  They, like cameras or fountain pens tell a story.  The pile here is mostly from the 1940s on and are all pretty good hammers.  They are all drop forged and one is hand forged.  Next time I am in front of a forge I will be all set.  All I need is a rounder and flaterer.  Really.