Tuesday, August 16, 2016


We had thunderstorms move through the area tonight and although they were spotty and didn't drench the entire metro area they left the sky, well, they left the sky interesting.  I have noticed the crows circling  and cawing most nights around now and have been waiting for a more interesting sky to silhouette them against.  The view is out my living room window.  The sunset is from my bedroom window.

Two things--first, if I am going to take more photos out of my windows they better clean them and I better remove the screens.  It is a bit sad to take a picture with a half-way decent camera and lens and then have them be a tiny bit soft because I was shooting through a dirty window.  Secondly, I sure hope I have the horizon level!

Walking, again

I have decided that having this lake nearby is kind of fun.  At least with photo opportunities abounding near the water, I am not taking all those darn flower photos!  Th6ese are a few photos from a recent walk around the lake--nothing really great but it sure is a pretty lake.

I still am not feeling all that fulfilled as a photographer but at least I am thinking about it a bit more.  I am starting to think that that feeling comes from being unbalanced overall right now.  No, not that kind of unbalanced, though some may argue.  It is just hard finding that balance with the work/art/life spheres when one sphere is missing.  I am trying and I have applications out to all relevant local higher ed jobs, but to be honest there just aren't that many of them right now.  While I miss the paycheck, I also miss the social parts of a job as well.  Yesterday, for example, I had a very nice conversation with two charming adorable young ladies who live in my building.  It was a highlight of my day, even though the conversation was mostly about red monkeys and unicorns and talks on a make-believe phone with no big words.  Then they had to go take their afternoon nap and have their diapers changed.  As fun as they were, I probably do need to get out a bit more.  I will have to think about how to accomplish that.

Until I figure it out, I will just enjoy the lake.  Remember to click on these to make them larger.

NOTE:  I am always amazed about some of the responses I get from these posts in part because I am surprised that random people actually do read and look at these posts.  Within 5 minutes of the original post, an anonymous troll I mean commentator noted that my horizons weren't level.  Yep.  It has been a lifelong flaw of mine that I hold my camera tilted just a bit.  Frankly, I am sometimes surprised that the photo is in focus and exposed correctly.  It the photo sneaks over that bar, I sometimes forget to straighten the photo so the water doesn't drain off the page.  My apologies to the horizon sensitive folk who are offended--I will try and do better.

Monday, August 8, 2016

I got nothing, or noth'n if you are from MN...

I had a great lunch with friends in Stillwater today, and of course I got lost on the way.  I blame the endless construction--no GPS can keep up with all the lane and exit closures.  So I wandered around Washington County on a beautiful summer day.  I am not sure which one I like best or how strongly I feel about either one, but here they are.  At the least, they are proof of a day when it was just good to be lost and looking.  Let's hope it happens again soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Morning storm

It has been hot here in the land of 9,000 and some lakes.  There used to be more than 10,000 lakes but let me remind you that  it has been REALLY hot and those lakes left for North Dakota or some place like that.  Of course among the pluses of steamy humid days are the resulting thunderstorms, although some have suffered with severe storms and then they are less fun.  With that apology, here in the city they can be fun.  The lofty perch of my eerie/apartment affords me a great view of the storms that thunder down I-94  from the West.  My bedrooms offer almost a panoramic view of these fronts, complete with lightning.  I am enjoying this now--we will see if I enjoy it in January when those storms bang against my 60-year-old windows with -40 degree winds.

This morning brought one of these summer storms.  At 7:45 AM, long after dawn, cars were crawling along in the almost dark of a good-sized storm.  The photo above would have been sharper but it was shot through a window.  It isn't like I would go outside in the rain to take picture just to make a photo better.  Get real.  I like to think that the photo is "impressionistic" which is of course a code word for a fuzzy. blurry photo that happens to have good color.  So this is my "impression" of a morning storm.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Someone asked me the other day about how I was doing, and I had to think about it for a few minutes.  I settled on the following--I am living the dream, with better coffee and a whole lot less money.  I do think that sums it up.  It is a great opportunity to live in a vibrant metro area, and I so enjoy that.  My apartment, with its recent additions of FOUR book cases, is starting to feel like a home  And,  I can mostly find my way to a grocery store, a gas station, a place to get Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese/Mexican/Italian food, and I I have reached the exalted status where the local baristas know that I want a large light roast with room for cream.  And a pastry of some sort.  Have I arrived or what?

It isn't to say that it has been a seamless transition, but I think that I have had worse.  Now it is just that pesky task of finding work.  I have applied to a few places, but that is a priority task for me this week.  The question I have been struggling with is whether to just find some type of a job (without a hairnet, of course) to bring some money in and to give a bit more structure to my daily life.  I still would like to teach, but with enrollments down all over the state there aren't too many extra classes floating around but I am still in the process of looking for those last minute openings.  And there is that big question--do I stay in higher ed?  Do I write a resume with a college degree on it, vaguely state that I did some administrative work for colleges and apply everywhere?  I honestly don't know about that one.

In the meantime, I am learning more about and enjoying my neighborhood.  There is a great farmers' market with innovative pastries and vegetable thingies, I think, but I am not as sure about thosw  as I am all about the pastries.  I live about 5 blocks away from Lake Harriet, a wonderful place for a three mile walk, and coincidentally right near one of the better Italian deli/restaurants in town, and if they don't have pastries, they do at least have really good bread.  Walking around the lake is real treat.  First of all, nature has blessed the trail by making it flat and then filled it with puppies and all sorts of interesting people.    That there is a band shell at the half-way mark with music or movies six nights a week doesn't hurt the appeal of the walk, even if there aren't any pastries at the band shell.  There is ice cream and wine so I am not adrift in the desert by any means. There are speedo-friendly beaches, so I am sure that I will fit right in, though I would  fear the great white whale rescue team and their incessant efforts to push me back in the water if I did happen to show up.  It's those pastries!

The photos are mostly self-explanatory.  Be sure to click on them to make them bigger.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Transition, semi-completed!

Well, the first stage and then some is completed.  I am in my new house and am working on making it a home.  I have a long ways to go on that but I am making progress.  I have a couch!  That is not an insignificant thing--for those of you long-time readers of this blog might remember, when I lived in Findlay it took me two years to get a couch.  Apparently my fear/dislike of commitment to at least inanimate objects is fading.

So people have wondered where I have landed.  I am in Minneapolis of all places--far from the little house in the woods to urban, Leave it to Beaver, America. I think that is about 700 mikes and 50 years of progress away from Michigan.   Of course saying Minneapolis is not all that specific so I tell people I live near 50th and France.  Most people know of that location because it is a very hip and trendy neighborhood with "boutiques," not stores.  Of course they all quake when I walk in the door.  Can I help you, sir?  The Walmart is 12 miles thataway...let me get you directions.  We do have a polyester section in the far back in the tremendously out of date reduced clearance section--would you like to start there?  Can you go around and come in the the back door?  Please?

I do snicker a bit when I say that I live in that trendy neighborhood.  I actually live about a 20 minute brisk walk away, all up-hill and against the wind and across about 4 descending economic strata from France Avenue.  It is but a point of reference.    Lest you think that I live in a place with empty crack vials in the stairway, I can assure that I don't think that this is the case.  I can't really say for sure because I live on the sixth floor of a small apartment building and if you think I am going to walk up six flights of stairs you either are crazy or you don't know me very well.

I jest, of course.  I like my neighborhood a very much.  My apartment is less than 500 feet from a coffee shop--how cool is that?  That is a huge improvement from my drive of 65 miles to a Starbucks.  Two more coffee shops are within a mile.  There are antique shops closer than the coffee shop and a store that only sells only honey is just a bit futher..    I never thought I needed a honey store, but damn it, when I think of this I think that it is a fine thing to have close by.  And the aforementioned 50th and France is within walking distance in case I need to see how the other half lives  There are two nearby bakeries with bread that isn't Wonder and a very good grocery store.  The olive bar at this place is not just a selection of cans of medium or large black olives and some of their cheese is not in a can or wrapped in plastic by the slice.  And, of course and thank heavens, there is a a good wine shop.  And it is all within walking distance!  It didn't hurt that I discovered that I am less than three miles from my doctor, a dentist, and the emergency room but all that is another story.

All-in-all, it has been an adventure that has gone pretty well.  I am unpacking as I can and keeping up with the class I am teaching.  I am going to have to seriously consider looking for work soon.  My checkbook balance has shrunk all too quickly so I have to really concentrate on that.in the next few weeks.  Of course, if any of you know of work for an under-employed history teacher, please let me know...

But I am OK.  I made it this far with lots of help and I am looking forward to what might come my way in the next stages of this adventure.  If you are in the neighborhood, let me know.  My house is almost put together and of course, mi casa es tu casa,

The photos are in my neighborhood.  There is a picture of my local farmers' market and my local coffee shop.  Boy, is nice to be able to say those two things.  My neighborhood, other than my apartment building that was built in the early 1970s, is really pretty residential.  The houses really are homes where Wally and the Beav might have lived.  The average price for a home in the Fulton Neighborhood, my "hood," is over $700,000.  Trust me when I say that I live in the low rent part of the neighborhood.  The advantage is that there are a ton of gardens nearby and they provide great flowers to photograph.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Prague, finally!

My public, maybe all three or four of you, may have been wondering if I actually did take any photos while in Prague, and I did.  I did it the old fashioned way, with film and old cameras.  You know, cutting edge technology, circa 1970 or so.  For those geeks who care enough to wonder or amazingly, ask, the color shots were taken with a Leica R5 with 50 Summicron, and most of the black and whites were taken with a Leica M4 with a 50 Summicron.  Little was done to the photos other than lightly correct the lightness or darkness and crop the photos.

I am not sure of the results.  I have become a lazy photographer--the newer cameras, all of which are exponentially smarter than I am accomplish the same thing with far less work and expense.  What is the deal with all this focusing and figuring out the exposure?  That said, it was still  fun to shoot 15 rolls of film.  I think that the last time that I did that was in 1998 when I went to Africa.  And I do like Leicas and that lens is one of the classic lenses of all time and when there isn't a nut loose behind the viewfinder (sorry, old camera repairman's joke) it is the sharpest lens around even though these lenses were about 50 years old.

The trip was great.  The weather was the best I have ever experienced in in Prague, and I even came back with a bit of a tan.  The beer was exceptional, and again the city proved to be a perfect walking city.  My phone said several days I walked over eight miles so that was good for an old(er) person.  All in all, roads were more or less traveled and diems sum carptus.  I couldn't have asked for a better break.

Of course, the re-entry into reality has been a bit harsh.  I heard this recently and I find it so true--the choices we get to make are the ones we don't always want to make.  I would not choose to move when I have to, but now that  this choice is made, I am making a ton of other choices.  Some are big--hmmm...just where will I live?  Some are smaller, mostly on the scale of what goes and what stays with me.  Some things need a good home that is not my home.  Some things just need to go somewhere that isn't near me.

The choices will get made and the work will get done.  And if I get tired or woebegone I will remember that was recently in Prague.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


I am in Prague, and loving every moment.  It is my "My job ended, you should go to somewhere in Europe" tour.  You know, the one that any decent financial planner would suggest in this same situation. So I chose Prague.  Again, as it seems, since I think if I counted stamps on my passports correctly, this is my 8th time here.  The first time was 18 years ago, and the city is a wee bit different.  There are fewer crystal shops and a whole lot more customer service.  The beer is still cheap (about $1.25-1.50 for a pint)  and I have already had three different kinds of dumplings with more of both beer and dumplings to come.  I hope.  Dumplings are cute, right?  So if I eat enough...   Don't they always say "you are what you eat?"

Of course, my trip is total escapism.  I was a finalist (second place--BOO!) for a job I was hopeful for and that really did sting.  I liked the school, the people, and the place, but that is how it goes, right?  But that decision left me with few options and forced me to make a few decisions of my own.  I always knew this gig ended at the end of June, and that is fine.  But I was hopeful that I would leave this place for a job somewhere else, and that doesn't see likely right now.  If I was every unsure of the economic issues facing community colleges, this job market has confirmed that things are dire.  Few colleges have advertised for deans in the upper Midwest.  I am not sure, but the one in Minnesota was one of the very few available.  Schools are hiring VPs and there are a ton of president jobs, but I am not that interested in those, though I would consider a VP of Academic services somewhere, but there haven't been many in WI, MN, and Iowa, the three states I most would like to work in.

So I am going to do something I have never ever done--I am moving to an area where I want to live even though I do not have a job.  Talk about leaping without a safety net!  I am not sure about this, but my options are pretty limited.  I could stay in MI, but the openings are even scarcer here--though if you want to be a vocational dean there are more options with the state's focus on vocational programming.  Plus, I do not want to be in MI.  Nice place and all, but if I have learned nothing else, I know I need a coffee shop, a good grocery store, and at least a Chinese restaurant within five miles of where I live.  To get those three things around here, I would have to drive 39 miles, and I am still not so sure about the grocery store.

I have been keeping a list of things I do not and do want.  I want to go to a McDonalds that isn't a gas station or worse, a bait shop, too.  I want an olive bar that doesn't just involve canned black olives.  I want a restaurant that doesn't have dead things on the wall and which deep fries less than 1/4 of the menu.  I want to go where you can say the trees are pretty and the response isn't "they will make good firewood, won't they?"  I want to work at a school that when I comment on students' success or rather, the lack of it, people don't mostly respond with "well, that is students that we get."  I want to work on at a place that acknowledges the value of diversity.  It would be great to live in an area that has community education programs that are more than "Polish Cooking" or "Wine Making."   I am fine with Amazon Prime being a good friend of mine, but, boy, would it be great to live in a place where all my wardrobe didn't come from there or Tractor Supply.  Sometimes, I even want to live where all the waitresses don't call me "Honey" or "Sweetheart" and I get indifferent service with a meal that isn't breakfast or fried.

Simple things, right?  So I have picked the Twin Cities or Minneapolis-St Paul for you non-Midwesterners.  So if you know of a 1-2 bedroom apartment in a pre-war building with a parking spot, please let me know.  I don't want to live in a 137 plex if I can at all avoid it.  Small is good, urban is good.  Cheap is good, too, but I am good for a year, and I hope that I can find something in that time or at least I can sell enough plasma or my hair or something to survive.  I could sell the watch, too, but I can't have the watch and the hair.  No matter, I will be OK.  

And won't it be an adventure?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First and last and then again...

It is snowing, not an unprecedented event here at my little house in the woods.  It is, however, spring, and yet we are expected to get 8-10 inches of snow tonight  I hope no one expects me to shovel.  I stopped shoveling weeks ago, once we had a 65 degree day.  Ahh, Northern Lower Michigan!

I did pick up a camera to point it at the snow and some twiggy things.  It is the first time that I picked a camera up in three weeks except to dust around them.  They still worked, which might be a good sign.  What I did think about is that I have taken these photos before so this isn't the first time you have seen these photos or ones like them. I like the view down my road and  the trees and twigs. This may be the last time I take snow pictures around here, and I do realize that I will miss these views from my house in the woods.

It isn't like I am moving to Florida or some weird place like that.  I haven't applied to anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Part of it is preference, but part of it is just opportunity.  I have crossed out Texas as a preferred state, and there hasn't been much else.  I have applied and I have been unceremoniously "dinged" and rejected and told I was pond scum.  I am sure that is what the letters said that told me that I was foolish to ever think I could work at their esteemed institution, not that I would ever take these rejections personally or anything like that.   It is that ugly stage of the search--lots of applications out there and lots of waiting as the sorting hat makes sense of them all.

I am not yet worried.  Well, maybe a tiny tiny bit.  What is challenging is that I have an appealing Plan B and Plan C and that makes me worry less about Plan A.  I know that this makes little sense, but hopefully it will, even to me.  I am keeping a positive outlook and still giving it the ol' college try as I get up and brush myself off and I get on the horse again and try try again  and stuff like that.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the snow, and not just because I am enjoying the view.  It might mean that we have our 6th snow day of the semester and I can sleep in.