Monday, September 7, 2015

First Monday with Characters

What long legs Envious has!
Edited by 
Morris Dean

Bettina Sperry, off to the races
While work on the farm had been settling down during the hot days of August, focus on my racehorse heated up significantly. There is so much more to horseracing than appears. Horses themselves can pose problems and race unpredictably, as has been the case with my boy. Horseracing is arguably hard on the people involved, for myriad reasons, though from the outside this can be conceivably difficult to understand. It is a world of constant problem solving, competition, and working towards improvement in racing – at the slow pace of one race at a time.
    I am also enjoying Franklin Hill's new thoroughbred foal [see photo]. Her name is Envious. At just a few months of age, she is gorgeous. She's a rough and tumble foal, and is mean spirited. She has been biting and kicking since day one on the farm. She recently left for her new home where she will be managed professionally during the months ahead. She is clearly a racehorse in the making.
Bob Boldt, off to Iowa
There has been entirely too much time since my last submission, and for that I apologize. I have been undergoing a creative incubation of sorts. Actually I am working on a number of projects simultaneously: three more video poems, an erotic nature film from 16mm footage I shot in 1963, and my own adaptation of Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, which will either be a success or the biggest embarrassment of my life.
    I have left for a three-month stay at my brother's farm in Kalona, IA, where I hope to use my new video camera to make an impressionistic, poetic nature film. I hope to continue dispatching from there if my Internet connection does not fail me.
Rolf Dumke, celebrating 50 years of marriage
Susan and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last Thursday in Hamburg with our son and his family.
    Wow! A half-century has passed since that emotional and funny day. I've just looked at the photo album to see how incredibly young and earnest we were.
    I found a picture with three Yale friends among those lined up with the pretty bridesmaids, with Susan and myself in the middle. One of the photos shows Susan and me making fun of the wedding cake eating/feeding ceremony; another the horses that drew our carriage home from church through the neighborhood. It was a magical time whose charm has lasted so many years.
    We are staying on in Hamburg, enjoying our stay with our son, his wife, and our grandson.
    They live in an apartment just across the street from one of the most beautiful elementary schools I have ever seen.
    Our grandson, just over two years old, has a room that looks down onto the active and happy kids playing and carousing during the recesses. It's a fun scene to watch [see photo] and makes me just a bit jealous when I compare it to the Bavarian school experience I described in Saturday's installment of my series on growing up in America.
The Neumanns, celebrating 5 years with Pineapple Girl II
    Jennifer & Matt have just celebrated the fifth anniversary of their boat, Pineapple Girl II. Jennifer's post on their Pineapple Girl blog lists projects undertaken since they purchased their trawler in September 2010. She also reports some astounding statistics – you may have heard the saying, "A boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money"?

Chocolate Raspberry Fool & Mint Ice Cream
André Duvall, off to the Pacific Northwest
During the month of August, I added two states to places I have not visited: Oregon and Washington. I visited a friend from graduate school who now lives in Portland. My vacation there provided me a good sampler of several great things to see and do in the area. I’d like to go back and select one or two of them to focus in on next time. My time in Oregon included tasting all of the various cuisines offered in the numerous food trucks in downtown Portland, browsing all sorts of reading in the delightful four-story bookstore called Powell’s, travelling along part of the northern coastline of Oregon (and seeing/putting my feet into the Pacific Ocean for the first time), hiking a trail to a waterfall in the lush and awesome Columbia River Gorge area (and seeing two other falls from highway overlooks), and playing board games with musician friends of my friend in a Classical music themed coffee house.
Bridal Veil Falls

Multnomah Falls

Columbia River Gorge from the Vista House outlook
    There is a Rare Books Room in Powell’s Books. I enjoyed leafing through all types of older books in the dimly lit room, and viewing others that were protected behind glass panes. There is also a section of the bookstore dedicated to printed musical scores, both classical and pop. Many of these scores have been donated, or are used but in great condition. I found an excellent Henle score of Beethoven violin and piano sonatas, one of which I recently performed. I was trying to decide whether to purchase it, when on the inside I found a program from a recital at my Alma Mater, University of North Carolina at Greensboro! That sealed the deal.
    The Rimsky-Korsakoffee House is one-of-a-kind. Set in the culturally diverse southeast district of central Portland, it pays homage to classical composers though the décor of sheet music and composer images on the walls and tablecloths, tables named for composers, live music featuring different instruments on selected evenings, and a grand piano available for patrons and special guests to play. There is also a supernatural theme to the coffee house. Tables rattle and shake, and some rotate slowly, and the original home in which it is now located I believe was thought to be haunted by the locals. The adjectives “weird” and “spooky” fit perfectly for this unusual and fun place. Desserts were delectable, including the Chocolate Raspberry Fool and Mint Ice Cream [see inset photo above].
    We drove up to Seattle and stayed one night. Because of the limited time there, we chose to purchase a “City Pass,” which grants you access to some popular tourist attractions in the downtown area, including the Seattle Aquarium, the Space Needle, and a riverboat ride with breathtaking views of the skyline. I also called up an old friend from high school in Arkansas that I last saw around 7-8 years ago. I always just knew she would be a physicist, and sure enough, she is now conducting bio-physics research that involves improving treatment for compromised immune systems and diseases. We had a short but delightful 45-minute visit over gelato. I also made sure to have one meal of fresh, delicious seafood in each state.
    Climate-wise, it was a great time of year to visit. The skies are clear blue, the temperatures mild, and humidity was certainly noticeable, but nothing like the August humidity in the Mid-South. I also saw the magnificent Mount Rainier to the right of the Seattle Skyline. Apparently, the mountain is visible only 80 something days of the year, because condensation creates a cloud around the mountain the rest of the year. The view of Mount Hood in Oregon is equally impressive. I’d like to go back and visit trails in these regions, including Mt. St. Helens. The drawback of the climate for some living in the Pacific Northwest is the fact that, for roughly half of the year, it is perpetually cloudy and drizzly. Those prone to seasonally-affected moods have it tough. I think I would fall into this category.

    I’ve included two photos of the Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. The building features large Tiffany light fixtures, local sandstone exterior, imported Alaskan marble interior, and a huge five-ton central chandelier cast in New York. There are images, embossments, and busts of George Washington everywhere. It’s one of the last state capitol buildings constructed with in the classical “city beautiful style,” which ended with the advent of the Great Depression. Unfortunately, I did not make it to Salem, Oregon to visit the capitol there, as there just wasn’t enough time, but Olympia was a nice addition that I had not planned in my original itinerary. I’ll have to hit Salem next time.
The Rogers, off to Colorado de Abangares
Janie and I and our dog Del just had a great trip to Colorado de Abangares, Guanacaste over the weekend. The bar/restaurant is owned by a friend of ours. The only gringos I saw all weekend were Harvey, Janie, and myself. We were pretty much at the map's end. The photo is of Harvey playing and singing. A little girl wanted to hear so got into Janie's lap.

The bar/restaurant

View from its veranda

Janie & Del
    Del made a new friend and I wasn't sure she was coming back after her walk across the dance floor.
    Later that night cowboys showed up to drink beer and sing songs all while on horseback.
    Yesterday morning before we left we went down to where the fishing boats tie up and bought fresh shrimp right off the boat. There were about 90 shrimps in the bag.
    Janie and I are doing fine here in CR. I haven’t written much lately and I believe it is because the world is so upside down I have no idea as to how to reply to what is going on. The world has left me behind as it has left many of us behind. I look at a map and it shows blue states and red states and I realize that the country that I was born in, and fought for, no longer exists.
    Living in CR, things like Donald Trump should not bother me, but they do. The weather here has changed from what it was only three years ago. This election could mean the end of Social Security and Medicare and as hard as that was to believe seven or eight years ago, who knows now?
                        Pura Vida – maybe
Hickory Hill Cabin at Red Rock Retreat near Jasper
Dawn Burke, off to Newton County
Hello again all. School is in full swing and things are going well. Not much different this year yet from previous years.
    Big on my mind would be to get some serious stuff done around our house soon!
    We had a fun family adventure this past weekend. Took our Grands, Dulcie & Tundra to a cabin in the woods in our beloved Newton County Arkansas. Aubrey couldn't join us due to work, plus she was taking care of our other dogs for us. Of the six of us who went, only my husband and I had got to go to cabins before, for anniversaries. So it was a new experience for the rest. Where we went (Red Rock Retreat) none of us had been before and it was so beautiful and so peaceful! We didn't want to come home!

Mountains near the cabin

Cabin's living room

Preparing breakfast Sunday morning

Tundra & Dulcie

The Grands playing on the cabin's porch
    The Grands also got to splash around in our beloved Buffalo River.
    I hope everyone has a soon-to-be-great Autumn!
Allen hamming it up with unidentified supporter
Allen Crowder, at the Leatherneck Tour
Last Wednesday I fought in the Leatherneck Tour at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina. I hate to have to report that I lost in the third round. My cardiovascular condition was simply not good enough.
    But the wolf climbing the hill is always hungrier then the wolf on top, so now that I'm back on the bottom with two consecutive losses (the earlier one was on April 10), it's time to put in the work I should have been doing from the get-go. I'll come back stronger and faster and hungrier the next time. The next opponent who beats me will have to kill me! My professional record is now 5 wins, 2 losses.
Siegfried, to the kennel & back
August was a trying month. Not only did my mama and papa leave me in a kennel for almost two weeks, they made me do it without a haircut. My barber had a death in the family and was unable to cut my hair before my parents' trip (to someplace called "California," although I've never been there). I was very uncomfortably shaggy by the time they returned.
    It was, however, so good to see them again that I forgot all about how they'd treated me and I was unable not to act all ecstatically silly when they came to pick me up. It is so embarrassing.
    But I got a haircut a few days later, so I was soon all better – although this "after" photograph is already almost a month old, and I could use another haircut soon!

Sunrise at Santa Barbara Harbor
Morris Dean, off to California and other parts
    What a time the past couple of months have been. I worked extra hours in July preparing blog posts for the almost two weeks we would be away in California. Then California itself: my sister and some of her children, Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara joined by our daughter and son-in-law, then off to San Jose with them for the second half of our trip, my wife's siblings, a visit to a Tesla showroom and being driven around Googleania by her sister looking for other electric cars and spotting a few experimental Google cars (self-driving) – all that was pretty exciting and interesting. I wrote down several things that I felt inspired to research, but I've been too busy to follow through, and I'd have to find my list to even remember what I was so excited about.

My sister's dog, Belle

At the Mercado of Old Spanish Days Fiesta

At the equestrian parade

At a courtyard restaurant in San Juan Bautista

    Then, on the first weekday we were back, I got my new digital hearing aids. I reported on my first day with those and, in a comment, reported on my third day as well. Since then I've had two programs added to them: volume control (with a toggle switch for that on my left aid) and listening-situation control (on the right). The latter should help a little with restaurants, in that it lowers the volume of sounds from behind me before they are transmitted to the receivers in my ear canals. My experience in that restaurant the evening of my third day (referred to above) was so bad, though, that I am not anxious to return to a restaurant to see how the new program works. I do turn it on when we're driving somewhere with Siegfried, though, because he can't keep from barking as we are driving away from, or returning to, home. (Like me, Siegfried seems to be a homebody. Like father, like son?)
    And the first week of September (which mostly preceded First Monday this month) has been a corker, centering around one main thing, I think: the idea to try to mount a scientific experiment into the question whether experiencing Jesus is real or imaginary. What was corking about this was the personal insight that the project has already graced me with. I am so excited about trying to describe what I've learned, I hope more than usual that I don't die before Wednesday bedtime, by when I expect to have scheduled this week's Thor's Day column for publication at midnight.

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean


  1. New thoroughbred foal on Franklin Hill Farm, an extended stay on another farm, celebrating anniversaries (one of 50 years, another of 5), a capitol time in the Pacific Northwest, visiting Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province, retreat to Red Rock, hungrier next time, before and after grooming, hoping not to die too soon....

  2. all good, folks, siggy and belle top of the list, love some doggies, i do

  3. André, now that you've written an excellent article on time management, I'm thinking of asking you to write an article on getting the very most out of a trip. Amazing all that you did!