Thursday, August 30, 2007

MTB Season

Lake Winona
Either it gets cooler this time of year or you just get tired of letting the humidity keep you from going outside. Regardless, I find myself outside more--we made it out for two mtb rides in three days this week! Unheard of since the law school days! And, I killed the two main moles that had been killing my stuff this summer! Good things come in twos! I am not in favor of killing moles for sport, but when they give you just cause, like killing all your creeping phlox or sweet woodruff, that's a different thing. I swear, there is nothing softer than the fur of a mole . . . that you have killed (with just cause).

Man, I love the Winona trails. Like usual here, I hit trees and ended up in the dirt at least four times this day. It was kinda like the start of the William Carlos Williams poem "The Trees":

The trees--being trees
thrash and scream
guffaw and curse--
wholly abandoned
damning the race of men--

Still, it was so nice to be out this day, I don't think I even felt their bite much. Big thanks to Heidi and Stuart for watching the kids for us so we could make it out there.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007


So, I can't stop listening to Akron/Family. From Brooklyn. Brooklyn! What a place that must be. I guess they'd be considered "freak folk" with some XTC or Beatles and some I dunno almost tribal chanting and beats or something. Can't figure it out, but it's quite beautiful. I can see myself going through a period of immersion with them like what happened with Ariel Pink earlier this year.

Sometimes when I start liking bands like this I get afraid that it's too close to what Phish sounds like, a band that always leaves so little of an impression on me that my body, as a defensive mechanism, causes tiny black-outs, wipes out my memory for at least the day, and sometimes weeks thereafter, every time I hear their music.

My fear is that someday I will like a band that might allow someone to tell me "oh, if you like them, you'd definitely like Phish." By this point, see, my pride is too invested in not liking that band to ever let me get into them, I'm afraid. Getting even in their neighborhood would be too much for me to admit. But since I can't remember what they sound like, it's difficult for me to avoid their sound. As a general rule, I try to avoid bands where the members have non-ironic beards (except for Will Oldham) or wear knit hats like the guy in the lower left corner up above, because that's how I imagine most Phish fans to look. It's not a great system, though. You can imagine the stress I'm under. It's quite a pickle.


The trailer for No Country for Old Men! Not my favorite McCarthy, but it's the Coen brothers. How can you not be excited?!! I might camp out for this one while wearing a cowboy hat and sitting beside a rented horse.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

In session

J in the wildflars

I always forget how busy I get when the school year starts back up. I mean, look:

6:00 wake up
6:15 cereal and magazine because you can't eat breakfast while holding a book open with one hand.
6:40 to school
8:00-2:35 teaching or whatever
3:00 to my poetry class that I am always ten minutes late for but my great prof has said it's okay, we'll work something out.
4:15 thinking about class and whether I talked too much or not enough and whether other students hate me or not.
5:00 to day care
5:30 Curious George
6:00 make dinner kids don't eat.
6:30 eat while standing because I think that's what chefs do.
7:00 make stuffed animals talk to children
8:00 make children go to sleep or at least stay in room.
8:15 try not to waste night on teh interweb
9:00 read, no, fix something kids broke.
9:30 read
10:00 try not to waste night on internet.
10:30 bed.

Actually, looking at that, it's all fun stuff, so I'm not complaining.
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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Talk about the "decisive moment" . . .

These pictures have me looking around the house for things I can break. Gorgeous.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A neat summer shot

Sarah P. on a Burt Lake evening

My good friend Mike Johnston, who runs, or is, The Online Photographer, recently expressed something that I have long felt: digital sucks for black and white. He says this partly because in the part of an image where you should have highlight detail, digital usually gives you just, um, light.

A part of me always thought that my spectacular ignorance about digital workflow was the real thing to blame, so it was somewhat reassuring, I guess to hear someone whose skills I respect say this. But this issue does bug me. At this point, I'm not going back to film. I could; I still have the stuff. The darkroom could be up and running in five minutes. But I've become addicted to the immediate feedback of digital. I just shoot more of it, so even though it can't, yet, replace the feel of Tri-X, I get so much more in the way of images that it's a compromise I can live with. I just hope my current camera lasts me a few more years before I have to shell out for the next gen.

This cute girl above is one of Mike's cousins, actually, and I took this picture during a family gathering up in Michigan. If I were shooting film that night, I probably would have totally blown the exposure and had nothing to show for it--she walked away before I would have had time to bracket it. Because it was digital, I got it "right" (enough for me) the first time.
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Friday, August 10, 2007

Some More Hiking Pics

Pictured Rocks, some waterfall I forget which one.

So, for most of the fifteen miles of true "pictured rocks," the tall sandstone cliffs that give this place its name, we had fog. It was okay because we'd been there before and knew what it looked like. That's what we told ourselves, anyway. It was kind of an end of the world feeling, though, where you couldn't see the horizon on Lake Superior at all, but could just barely make out the waves hitting the base of the cliff that was up to 200 ft. below you. The picture above got took later in the day when the fog finally lifted. Waves have carved these hollows at the base of the cliffs so that, when they hit them now, it is loud, like bomb go off, all the time. Really cool soundz.

Neat mossy lane, probably leads to Hobbiton.

Waiting for the sunset, day three.

We had this entire beach, a couple miles of it, to ourselves this night. Nothing but sand and, like most days, the water was shallow enough that the sun had warmed it over the day. I swear, after swimming in Lake Superior, you feel like you've been forgiven for things you don't even remember doing.

You can see the six day old swimmers itch sores on my legs here, which I got before the trip. First time ever. When I got it, I looked it up on Wikipedia, which said that it was "not to be confused with Seafarer's Eruption." Yikes. Catching something that had the slightest chance of being confused for something called Seafarer's Eruption did not make me feel good at all. So far, I have resisted doing a Google image search for that malady.

Prospector and his mule Lucky taking in a sunset.

I thought this was such a sweet scene that I had to shoot it. Prospector was mad as hell at me when he heard the camera shutter, but it was worth listening to him spew his antique profanities for a few minutes in exchange for capturing the moment.

Such an awesome trip, though. We usually prefer hiking in some Canadian parks on the other side of Lake Superior because they have fewer people and are a little more difficult. Lots of times up there, the "trail" is merely a faint system of rock cairns that you have to look for while scrambling on wave-covered rocks. Very cool, but the scenery here is hard to beat, and we decided it was kind of nice to have an easier trail for once.
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Monday, August 06, 2007

Prospector's Big Trip, Part I

Prospector's last cup of coffee before hitting the trail. Mackinac City.

I first got Prospector and his pack mule, Lucky, for my two year old. He was meant to be a present before we left the kid and his sister for four days of hiking the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore up in the U.P. But then Prospector wanted to come with us, so he did. He was a real crotchety companion at times, but he had a lot of good folk wisdom to share with us and also plenty of stories to tell around the campfire. Sure, most of his stories involved snakebites and claim jumping, but you'd be surprised how much variety there is in that genre. Most nights, we were riveted to his tales about the Badlands and the Yukon. He's a wise old S.O.B., that Prospector.
Prospector's first big find

Above is a picture of Prospector with a bucket-full of blueberries, which he called "Blue Gold." Here is an excerpt from his diary entry for the day:

"In the mornin', when I told the young'ns that we'd be findin' blue-berries as big as your head this day, they got all excited-like. Especially the tall, gangly one. But later, when I showed them this great haul, they were, well, I reckon you'd say they was disappointed. There's just no figurin' youngsters today."

I feel bad for disappointing Prospector now. I guess I did misunderstand him a little. And them berries were pretty great. Blueberry bushes lined probably 20 of the 37 miles we covered. And raspberries, too:One part Grape-Nuts, One part Granola, Raspberries, and dried milk.

This is breakfast on the first morning, the only rain we had the whole trip. Lake Superior was kind of angry just next to us but didn't rush our coffee and cereal. I swear, you could eat nothing but sand on a hiking trip and you'd think it's the best meal you ever had. Something about being outside and tired. Maybe it's the flavor of bugs in your food. Anyway, an hour after this, we came across two kayakers who'd given up on the lake and were actually dragging their kayaks down the trail because the waves were too big. They looked, well, miserable. We were a little wet, but our MSR Hubba Hubba tent had kept us pretty clean that night.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Back home again in Indiana.

Pictured Rocks, day two
Well that felt like a long trip. A little over two weeks away with four days of backpacking without kids in the middle of it. In woods with barely any internets for 14 days or so, you don't miss internets. And you don't miss tv, though staying somewhere that had cable during the big Tour de France stages was nice.

It's weird coming home after two weeks away. The house feels like it has been up to something, but it won't say what.

The last thing I read last night was Kenneth Koch's poem "The Boiling Water," which starts: "A serious moment for the water is when it boils." It's just the craziest thing and I can't stop thinking about it.

Lots of pictures coming soon.
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