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Thursday, March 31, 2016


Fussing over food was important. It gave a shape to the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner; beginning, middle, end.
~ Robert Hellenga
- - - - -

Leslie and I don't have class on the same nights. At least so far we haven't. And even when we have (Thursdays), my class ends before hers and has been in Clemson whereas she's had to drive to Greenville.

As a result we pretty regularly alternate who is making dinner. She is definitely a better cook than I am. I have a gift for leftovers - which is nice - but you have to have leftovers to make things from them. That said, there are a few things I can cook pretty well - hot sausage sandwiches, shepherd's pie, pasta.

And I'm learning to get good at making salads. As an entree. You might think that all you have to do is throw lettuce on a plate to make a good salad. Not true. You have to throw a lot of other things on the plate, too.

Fortunately, I'm a pretty good thrower.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Without butterflies, the world would soon have few flowers. 
There is enough room in the sky for all flyers.
~ Trina Paulus
- - - - -

And also, without flowers the world would soon have few butterflies. We are all connected - whether we like it or not.

It's too bad that without black licorice the world would have very few mosquitoes because I don't like black licorice and if that WAS true, then I'd have very few mosquitoes in my world.

But it is wasteful to spend your time wishing about things that could be. Or to dream of a world we wished existed. It's much more effective to pout about everything. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


I discovered one after and after that, nothing was ever the same.
~ Anne Spollen
- - - - -

I think it is important to encourage discovery, exploration, understanding. I think that part of that means not giving people prescribed notions of reality, but letting them find their own. Rather than forcing conformity, when we have a chance to challenge the status quo - or leave the door (or window) open for others to push and challenge... Well, I think we are better served as a people and cultures to do that.

A couple of weeks ago, I overheard this conversation:

Kid: Mama, what do they call them windows for?

Mama: 'Cause that's what they are!!

That is an example of what I am not talking about.

Monday, March 28, 2016


This society is driven by neurotic speed and force accelerated by greed and frustration of not being able to live up to the image of men and women we have created for ourselves; the image has nothing to do with the reality of people.
~ Yoko Ono
- - - - -

Image and imagination... Creativity. What we carry in our heads is not always what is real. Or what others see. Or what others carry in their heads. It's important to get to know people to understand what their images are - what their imaginations create.

Not that we can ever fully understand them. That's not the point. Maybe the point is to understand them enough to know that we are different and that is okay.

If you and I both draw a picture of a tree - it's going to look different. And that's okay. Sometimes it's because we actually see the tree differently. Other times maybe it's because one of us has more skill drawing trees than the other one of us. Or maybe one of us cares about the act of drawing the tree less than the other.

You see this all the time when people post photos of themselves and their friends at those "drink wine and paint art" events. Seriously, some of those people seem to be better at drinking wine than painting art.


My point is... it's  nice when you see good art. And understand people. And when you win money.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


We believe "Peter Rabbit" because Beatrix Potter believes it. You have to.
~ Nikki Giovanni
- - - - -

Every spring at this time of year I am reminded of a story my Aunt Miriam told me. As I recall, there was an injured rabbit in her yard and Uncle Paul told her she would have to kill it because it was hurt. He handed her a shovel, but she couldn't do it.

So Uncle Paul used the shovel to chop off the rabbit's head. 

And the eyes popped out.

And my Aunt Miriam threw up.

Now a few things about this story...

1. I think maybe the rabbit was hurt because a dog got it, but maybe it was sick or got injured some other way.

2. It may not have been Aunt Miriam OR she may have actually been the one to chop off the rabbit's head.

3. I believe there was a shovel involved. I could be mistaken.

4. I believe there was vomit involved. I could be mistaken.

5. I may have made this entire thing up, but it lives on in my head as a part of my growing up experience. And just because something is made up doesn't mean it's not true.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Evidence hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
~ Thomas Jefferson
- - - - -

I did some research on the word "tyrant" for this blog. Not much research. Really just looked online at what was easy to find. I do not endorse this as a way of doing research, but it is sometimes a way to generate blog ideas.

I learned that the word comes from tyrannus which basically meant a kind of leader or despot. There is also a female variation on the word "tyranness" but you don't hear that very often. Hm. I wonder why.

But my point here is that this all makes it clear that at some point dinosaurs elected leaders. Originally they elected Rex as the leader of the dinosaurs. Then power went to his head and his walnut-sized brain. That's when the other dinosaurs started calling him Tyrannosaurus Rex. (pause) I guess even if he was a she. Or maybe they called the she dinosaur leaders Tyranness Lexi. (pause)  No. I doubt that they did that.

The moral of the story is, be careful with power. 

Friday, March 25, 2016


If there be light, then there is darkness; if cold, heat; if height, depth; if solid, fluid; if hard, soft; if rough, smooth; if calm, tempest; if prosperity, adversity; if life, death.
~ Pythagoras
- - - - -

If Mickey, Donald.

If Donald, Marco.

If Marco, Polo.

If Polo, Croquet.

If Croquet, Golf.

If Golf, Clubs.

If Clubs, Hearts.

If Hearts, Love.

If Love, Hate. 

If Hate, Lines.

If Lines, Rides.

If Rides, Disneyland.

If Disneyland, Mickey.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.
~ Pearl S. Buck
- - - - -

I sometimes don't understand the desire to remain young. If you don't age you either are dead or else you fail to make progress and to learn and to continue to develop and grow. Maybe some people prefer stagnation. The stagnant waters of the fountain of youth. That would be a good book title.

Also, really, REALLY young kids can't even dress themselves. And older youth don't have fully developed brain. I guess if the fountain of youth is your dream than we just have different dreams. My dreams include being able to dress myself and having a fully developed brain.*

* Author's note: These are not my only dreams.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Going around under an umbrella interferes with one's looking up at the sky.
~ Jerzy Kosinski
- - - - -

I like this. 

We can't ever completely shield ourselves from trouble. Ultimately, we shouldn't try to. Instead we should realize that problems help us appreciate good times. Challenges provide catalysts for creating change. The good and the bad all come together. Perhaps in the end there is very little good or bad, but simply things that are. We are the ones who choose to put labels on those things.

Plus, my umbrella has a picture of the sky inside it, so I can see the sky even when it's raining. How about that, Jerzy Kosinski.  Didn't think of that, did you?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


People say: idle curiosity. The one thing curiosity cannot be is idle.
~ Leo Rosten
- - - - -

I almost missed this. We were driving home and Leslie pointed it out. I had my camera in my lap and because she was driving, I was able to quickly turn and take this photo. It's not perfect, but that's one of the things that makes it interesting. 

This is a photo that asks questions. What does the F in F-Mart stand for? This was not a place "in town" so what did they mean when they put on the sign, "Best Hot Dogs in Town!"? Why did the F-Mart start publicizing their hotdogs to begin with? Who owns this place? Who stops there?

I want to go back there and go inside. I want to have one of the hotdogs. I want to see who is there, who works there. I want to listen to what they are talking about.

That said, this also looks like a place that might tell me to get the F out if I hung around taking pictures and writing notes all day. 

Perhaps I just solved one of the mysteries of this photo.

Monday, March 21, 2016


If you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you are looking the wrong way.
~ Barry Commoner
- - - - -

Leslie and I "hiked" to the Stumphouse Tunnel a few weeks ago. I say "hiked" in quotation marks because it was really more of a short walk from our car to the tunnel. They only got part way through and then quit because it was too hard to make a tunnel through a granite mountain with hand tools. 

A lot of motivational speakers and quotes will encourage you to keep going when things are really hard. To work your way through challenges. To be determined and focused and to never give up.

I do not concur. Sometimes you need to quit because sometime that thing you are trying to do is unreasonable. Maybe don't try to chisel a tunnel through a granite mountain. Maybe instead invent a hovercraft to go over the mountain.

It's as easy at that.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you
Underneath the purple rain
~ Prince
- - - - -

I think it would be good to use weather to teach kids about colors. Purple rain. Blue skies. Yellow snow. White frost. Red dawn. Green mist. Brown fog. Orange tornadoes. Pink humidity. Gray thundersnow.

Why gray thundersnow? Because thundersnow is the coolest weather ever and I like the color gray.

That said, if you try to replace the words "Purple rain" with "Gray thundersnow" you're really going to have a hard time singing that song. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Happiness is the harvest of a quiet eye.
~ Austin O'Malley
- - - - -

I love the ocean, but I also find a sense of quiet and calm and peace when I see cornfields. I know it's because I grew up around them. Leslie prefers the mountains. 

Not me. Mountains hide things. I prefer to see what is around me - what is coming and going and nearby. I don't think it's because I'm more nosey than Leslie. Not that I'm saying she is nosey.  She's not.  She told me that. She said it's called "curious."

Friday, March 18, 2016


As for marigolds, poppies, hollyhocks, and various sunflowers, we shall never have a garden without them, both for their own sake and for the sake of old-fashioned folks who used to love them.
~ Henry Ward Beecher
- - - - -

I think this is a photo of a marigold. My mom always grew them when I was growing up. I imagine she still does. I never cared for them because they don't smell nice. That said, I have read that they help keep rabbits and deer away because rabbits and deer don't think they smell nice either.

They are very colorful, though. And by colorful I mean full of color not "lively, animated, or dramatic." While they are living, they don't move a whole lot or talk or whatever. Unless you are on some kind of drug. Or watching an animated short film.

That's not true. It could be a full length animated film.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


We see in order to move; we move in order to see.
~ William Gibson
- - - - -

A few weeks ago when Leslie and I went out of town for the weekend, I took this photo. I took one before it as the sun was setting, but then realized I hadn't held the camera still enough, so it was a little blurry. Then I decided to intentionally move the camera to make some images even more blurry.

This is one of the images I ended up with.

It's funny to me that we so often focus on - there.  See what I accidentally did? I said "focus" in that sentence. That wasn't intentional, but it proves the point I was about to make. As I was saying, we so often focus on getting things precise and well-defined - we search for clarity, when that is maybe neither desirable nor achievable. 

Focus is about definition. Presence is about being. To be honest, I think the image above probably captures more about how it felt to be there that evening than if it had been in focus and you could see the trees and the dock more clearly.

Maybe some people want things clearly defined. Then they should buy their own damn cameras.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.
~ Epictetus
- - - - -

Election season is a time when I reflect on the nature of power and influence; the difference between stability and change; the challenges of choices; the impact that decisions made today have on the future.

It has become more and more a time of anxiety as I have grown up and - probably / maybe - paid more attention to what is going on in the world around me.

I also have become more anxious about the nature of power given all of our technology. So much (mis)information. So much angry, disrespectful, ignorant rhetoric. Winners being determined either by who drowns out other voices or by who has the most degrading jab at an opponent.

And also when people post photos of messages on their phones or iPads and their battery levels are under 12%. That gives me tremendous anxiety. Your phone is about to die, people!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


People are too complicated to have simple labels.
~ Phillip Pullman
- - - - -

Leslie is a pretty fun people.  I know it should be person, but the title of this blog is "People" so just manage your emotions and read on.

This photo was taken as we were walking around the grounds at Carl Sandburg's home. It's a National Park, so it's not like we just hopped a fence and were trespassing on his property. Not that it would be his property anymore, anyway.

While she is pretty fun, she is not a morning person. She used to have to get up really early but now that she's a college student, she is not so much a rise-and-shine type. I try to be quiet because I do tend to wake up early and do stuff.

She does go to yoga early on Fridays. The other day I gave her a ride because we had an appointment scheduled right after her yoga club meeting. We got in the car and my Bluetooth synced with the music on my phone. John Mellencamp (from back when he was John Cougar) started singing, "Small Town."

"Arrgh!" Leslie complained.

"You don't like John Mellencamp?"

"It's too EARLY for this. Don't you have some dirges or something?"


He who everyday is not conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -

I actually don't think all secrets are bad. Some people do. Not me. Like the password for your credit card account. Or where you buried the family treasures in the yard. Or the ingredients in Grandma's recipes that made her chili or banana bread or pickles special.

And then there are the not-really-secret-secrets. Like in-laws who can't stand each other, but no one talks about it and they're just ridiculously passive-aggressive to each other. Or that Superman is Clark Kent - like you can't tell. Batman is much secreter. Or the Secret Service. They're not really secret at all - you see them standing around all over the place.

Monday, March 14, 2016


With foxes we must play the fox.
~ Thomas Fuller
- - - - -

This is a fox I saw one time when I lived in Ames.

Is it just me or does it actually look like it might be a zombie fox? 


No.  It's not just me.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude, out of loveless words directed at us conclusions grow up in us like a fungus: one morning they are there, we know not how, and they gaze upon us, morose and gray. Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
- - - - -

Wow. This quote is a bummer. Know what is NOT a bummer? The fact that I can spell Nietzsche right about 80% of the time without looking it up.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


I went to the bank and asked to borrow a cup of money. The said, "What for?" I said, "I'm going to buy a cup of sugar."
~ Steven Wright
- - - - -

This seems like a really bad marketing idea to me. Most of the time if you take a gun into a bank you should probably be a police officer or a security guard or the person who drives the armored truck. Actually, I don't know if people who drive armored trucks carry guns. They do in the movies, but I have recently discovered that movies don't always depict reality. The Revenant was pretty realistic and involved guns, but it didn't involve banks. There was a safe in it, but that's not the same thing.

My point is this seems like a really bad marketing idea to me.

Friday, March 11, 2016


Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
~ Benjamin Franklin
- - - - -

I don't know what Krull means. I think it must be a family name. As I have shared before, sometimes I find notes I've written to myself and I have no idea what they mean. The other day I found one and all it said was, "Turkey breast, ski slope, cash drawer."

Oh. Wait. I wonder if maybe that was the puzzle from Weekend Edition a few weeks ago. Clearly I didn't solve it. Well done, puzzle. You not only puzzled me once, you puzzled me twice. Shame on me.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
~ John F. Kennedy
- - - - -

And the time to damage the roof is when it's dark outside.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


All is not butter that comes from the cow.
~ Proverb
- - - - -

I like cows. I mean, I don't own cows and don't know a lot about them. I did help feed baby cows and sort of helped with the removal of cow testicles one summer. Well, those weren't cows... That's not my point.

My point is that I don' think we should call them "cowboys." I think it infantilizes those who wrangle cows and we don't need to be coddling people like that. I think "cowgrownups" works much better.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
~ Scott Adams
- - - - -

This is at The Regeneration Station in Asheville, NC. I love art. I love when people don't just let space sit as space, but when they fill it with images and ideas and things to think about. There was art like this all over this place.

And some of the stuff was art. It was a salvage / retro / repurposing / antique like place. A place with old things or with old things made into different things. I like places like that. I got an old library card catalog that I'm going to make into an end table. It will be amazing.

I should clarify that while it looks like the women's restroom is right there and you can look through the window with flames around it to see into the restroom, that was not the case. I am not completely sure what the thinking was in putting these two pieces of art near each other, but I just thought I should explain.

Not that I can explain.

Anyway, art is good.

Monday, March 7, 2016


Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat.
~ Jean-Paule Sartre
- - - - -

Okay, so we stayed a cabin a week or so ago and it had this. I didn't know what Rock City was. It sounds like a Jack Black movie, but birdhouses seemed an odd way to advertise for the cinema.

Anyway, I looked online and its this place you can visit. 

Now I want to go there.

Also, it's probably good I was not in charge of writing the brochures for Rock City.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


If anything is good for pounding humility into you permanently, it's the restaurant business.
~ Anthony Bourdain
- - - - -

So this place is where the A&W used to be between Altoona and Rake, Iowa. We would stop there sometimes on our way to Grandma and Grandpa Boettchers. Of course Erik and I (and later Kirk) could never get root beer because it would make us car sick, but Dad could get root beer.

That's not the point.  What IS the point, you ask? Is it about memories? No. Is it about change? No. Is it about the powerlessness of children? No. Is it about travel or reflection or humor or any of that?

No. It's about the fact that this is a restaurant where a restaurant used to be. It is about the fact that the last time I posted a blog about restaurants, I accidentally typed "reataurant" instead of "restaurant." It's about the idea that restaurant is actually kind of a good word because you eat at a restaurant as much as you rest there.

Mostly it's because one of my students said, "I love reataurants" when I posted with the typo. It's about her bravery and humor especially since she hasn't passed the course she is taking with me and she is expecting to graduate this spring.

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second.
~ Mattie Stepanek
- - - - -

My favorite color is gray. I think it is more the color of life than any other. Life is made up of grays.

We don't celebrate gray as much as we should. We don't respect it the ways that we respect other colors - like red or white or blue. Or yellow. Or green.

We don't have parades for gray like we do other colors. Red, white, and blue get their parades in July, green gets its parade in March. Someone ought to fight for gray.  There should be a gray rights movement

Friday, March 4, 2016


The man that cannot visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot.
~ Andre Breton
- - - - -

I can visualize a horse galloping on a tomato. I am not sure that makes me not an idiot, but it makes me not an idiot in terms of this definition of idiocy.

That seems an odd test for it, though.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


You die, but most of what you have accumulated will not be lost; you are leaving a message in a bottle.
~ Umberto Eco
- - - - -

I'd like to think that when I die what I leave will be more than the things I have accumulated. I like to think that I will leave memories. I like to think that I will leave impressions. I like to think that I will leave stories (true or not, doesn't matter to me).

Mostly I just like to think.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, mankind the vessel.
~ Augustus Hare
- - - - - 

My mom has a LOT of Noah's ark stuff. A lot. More than anyone else I know. I think Kirk said he wants all of that stuff when she dies. He's always planning ways to take her stuff. I guess he doesn't love our mom as much as I do.

Anyway, you know what annoys my mom? When you call her arks a bunch of "boats." You know what else annoys her? A lot of stuff. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Don't criticize what you can't understand.
~ Bob Dylan
- - - - -

Song lyrics are hard. Sometimes you can't understand the singer because he mumbles or the volume is down too low or she uses words that you never heard before. That's part of the blessing of music, I think. Songs mean what you need them to mean. The same lyrics could be something totally different to you than to me. Meaningful still, but meaningfully different.

Like the song "Wonderful World" recorded by Louis Armstrong.

You might hear "The bright blessed days... the dark sacred night."

Not me.  I don't hear that.  Instead, I hear:

"The bright blessed days...  The dogs say goodnight."

And I think to myself... What a wonderful world where dogs could say goodnight to you.