Dogs take the world as they find it: The week in pocket pages

Even when national politics seem troubling, I’m gonna keep enjoying writing my journals, driving my morning commute (it’s pretty, and it’s a chance to think), and walking my dog. 14 Nov. 2016

Ginko tree, 4 Nov. 2016

Ginko tree, 4 Nov. 2016

This morning I saw a pile of ginko leaves along a rural roadside. It seems funny that someone would go through all the trouble of moving leaves from his or her yard to this random spot. Why not just cut down the tree?

“I like doing stuff when people are talking,” said a teacher colleague in a meeting where the rest of us were discussing curriculum choices. The stuff she was doing was stickering plastic bags with “Education Week” stickers.

Sun and rainbow spot to its right. 15 Nov.

Sun and rainbow spot to its right. 15 Nov.

Passion is everything, I read today in an article in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune that was left in the in-school suspension room.

I don’t need the world to match my expectations of/for it in order for me to be content. (How fragile an orientation that would be.)

Teaching: In explaining to others, I also get to hear it myself. I’m thinking here of talking philosophy in class recently. We were talking about the idea that what we can name is real, leading me to think that we can define our own realities. If we don’t have a name for something, if we haven’t distinguished it, we probably won’t recognize it as a distinct thing, like how radioactive minerals weren’t recognized before scientists discovered radioactivity, though of course the radioactive minerals were always there. 15 Nov. 2016.

Even to define real is to make it abstract, not present — not real. Real is not here, and here is a word that means consciousness at present.

We can think only ideas. So anything you can think isn’t real. Ideas aren’t necessary. But of course, we can teach through ideas, through talking, and we can also amuse each other through ideas.

Looking at news sites tells me what’s going on elsewhere.

On the calculus teacher's desk. 14 Nov.

On the calculus teacher’s desk. 14 Nov.

I take notes on my reality — my particulars (things I hear, things I see, etc.)

Options as I try to take in less media: get the news from poetry (as William Carlos Williams suggested)? Eh, I may not need news at all.

Gutter leaves. 19 Nov.

Gutter leaves. 19 Nov.

I’m not interested in publishing some one-off essay, the kind of essay that gets edited into “Best American Essays” books. I prefer a more holistic approach. I don’t want applause, I don’t just want to be a performer. My unit of communication is not the formal essay. 16 Nov.

The Story of Now that I constructed from news I heard and read. This isn’t one story but a subdivided set of stories about what’s going on in the world–in the environment, the economy, arts, education, all the many topics. And I may not need to know most or any of this. Maybe I’m feeling disappointed that my Story of Now seems to have so little overlap with some people’s stories of now. Not saying I despair, but I wonder if there’s better use for my time than taking in news. 17 Nov.

I’m not just a role-player writer, a topic-writer. I write from and in my life, my living. I try to keep an open-mind, not holding onto a particular idea as an answer. If I’m alive, I keep thinking, writing — I’m not done! It’s ongoing! And the most-important topic/idea remains (even if it’s in the background), how do I live — how to be alive, how to accept the challenge and opportunity of being conscious!

Leaves outside the gutter on a windy morning. 19 Nov.

Leaves at the curb outside the diner on a windy morning. 19 Nov.

The society/culture may already value performances (of music, acting, etc., but also I’m thinking of poems, novels, and other texts written for others as performances). But I see also an opening for honest non-performances — such as those journals and notes written mainly for oneself. Every experience doesn’t need to be (because it can be) made into a lesson. Not every experience needs to be abstracted into a lesson — sometimes a particular can stay a particular. 18 Nov.

Dogs take the world as they find it. When we go to a local forest preserve prairie, my dog doesn’t ask if it’s true wilderness — he just starts sniffing what’s there to sniff. It’s a reminder to me to attend to what is with me, around me. 19 Nov.

Planter bowl group-portrait. 19 Nov.

Planter bowl group-portrait at the diner. 19 Nov.

No wrong way to journal: From 20 Nov. 2011 journal

At Costa's Ristorante, 18 Nov. 2011

At Costa’s Ristorante, 18 Nov. 2011

Each journal is complete.

I’ve tended to judge some of my journal texts a bit harshly in recent weeks, in that they don’t all have grand ideas. But I need to remember that each journal is the result of a real experience. That I sat down each morning and wrote, and, of course, there’s no such thing as success or failure there — it just is. It’s experience — it’s not even fully described by “experience.” It’s me, it’s me being here, being present.

I am sometimes grumpy, sometimes over-generalizing, sometimes repetitive. But that’s all OK, it doesn’t matter. There’s no wrong way to do the morning pages, as Julia Cameron wrote. These journals aren’t merely texts to rifle through — they are part of me (and, of course, also not part of me). They are me being open, honest, putting words out there even if they aren’t brilliant or original. That’s OK, too. I guess what I’m saying, partly, is that when I go to read journals, I don’t have to be dismissive. I can accept what’s there — embrace it.

Shadow frost. 23 Nov. 2011

Shadow frost. 23 Nov. 2011

Grandpa Lorin, ‘Papa’

23 Aug. 2015

23 Aug. 2015

23 Aug. 2015. Sarah, Squeak, Papa.

23 Aug. 2015. Sarah, Squeak, Papa.

This post will be a collection of photos, texts, videos, etc., of my grandpa Lorin, who died last week.

Here’s his obit:

Stillman Valley, IL, Lorin H. Larson, age 90, died Tuesday, October 18, 2016, at home, surrounded by family. Lorin was born September 22, 1926, in Rockford, IL, the son of Herbert and Edna (Paulson) Larson. He attended P.A. Peterson Grade School where he set a record for the 40-yard dash that was not broken for many years. He graduated from East High School in 1944, the first class to go all four years there. He enlisted in the Navy after graduation and was sent to the Philippines where he served as a Petty Officer. Lorin married Phoebe Gibson on February 21, 1948, and they had five children. Meanwhile he went to Stout Institute in Menomonie, WI, for three years. In 1952, they moved to Rockford where he worked in construction: at Security Building, National Mirror Works, and then with Stenstrom Construction as a superintendent. In 1964, they moved to small dairy farm near Stillman Valley, and he started his own business, Lorin H. Larson, General Contractor. He retired from a position with Norandex Aluminum Company.
Lorin was a charter member of Alpine Lutheran Church. He had many interests: singing with a barbershop quartet and in choirs for Methodist churches in Rockford, the Congregational Church in Stillman Valley, and the Unity Church in Rockford; league bowling for many years, and for a few years, proudly bowling on a team with his three sons; coaching a Little League team; being a Boy Scout leader; gardening; Lions Club, constantly remodeling his house; doing almost anything that could be done from the seat of a tractor; and his dogs. Lorin built a pop-up camper in the early 1960s and took his family on several camping trips, frequently to parks in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and one memorable trip around Lake Superior.His signature characteristic was probably his corny sense of humor. If given the slightest chance to make a pun, good or bad, he took it with gusto. He thrived on having an audience and loved being around people.
“Papa” was preceded in death by his mother, father, and stepmother Margaret (Hedeen) Larson, and son-in-law Jim Rackley. He is survived and deeply missed by his wife and his sister Mary (Dale) Peterson, Bloomington, MN; and children: Sherry (Bob) Piros, Chana, IL; Christine (Joe Stemke) Rackley, Masonville, NY; Larry (Marcia) Larson, Lucky (Diane) Larson, Bruce (Carolyn) Larson, all of Stillman Valley, IL; and George (Heidi) Gonzalez, Rockford, IL; sixteen grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild.
A Celebration of Life will be held in Christ Church Unity, 4381 Manchester Dr, Rockford, IL, on Saturday, October 22, 2016. Service at 11:00 with visitation one hour prior. Memorials to be determined.

More to come.

September here and there

Sammy swims, 8 Sept.

Sammy swims for sticks, 8 Sept.

Prairie thistle. 26 Sept.

Prairie thistle. 26 Sept.

 

Justice cat, rainy day.

Justice cat, rainy day. 10 Sept.

Milkweed. 26 Sept.

Milkweed. 26 Sept.

Pen reflections.

Pen reflections.

Scraps. 14 Sept.

Scraps. 14 Sept.

Above the school parking lot. 16 Sept.

Above the school parking lot. 16 Sept.

Ronald stares.

Ronald stares.

 

Oak leaves. 14 Sept.

Oak leaves. 14 Sept.

Rail textures. 6 Sept.

Rail textures. 6 Sept.

Grass at prairie. 28 Sept.

Grass at prairie. 28 Sept.

Barn siding. 14 Sept.

Barn siding. 14 Sept.

Milkweed, goldenrod. 28 Sept.

Milkweed, goldenrod. 28 Sept.

April and September:

View of part of the forest preserve prairie, 29 April 2016.

View of part of the forest preserve prairie, 29 April 2016.

View on 26 Sept. 2016 of the same prairie spot.

View on 26 Sept. 2016 of the same prairie spot.

Bands of corn, grass, sky. 29 Sept.

Bands of corn, grass, sky. 29 Sept.

News from the bridge today

The Rock River surface as crumpled aluminum foil. 25 Sept. 2016

The Rock River surface as crumpled aluminum foil. 25 Sept. 2016

Homecoming was a week ago. View of south end of bridge, 25 Sept.

Ribbons remain lashed to the rails, though Homecoming was a week ago. View of south end of bridge, 25 Sept.

Under the south end of bridge over Rock River at Byron, 25 Sept. 2016

The hobos’ gallery: Under the south end of bridge over Rock River at Byron, 25 Sept. 2016

The cheeriest under-bridge art ever, possibly.

The cheeriest under-bridge art ever, possibly.

Signed Gerald I'm sincere

“signed gerald I’m sincere”

Stay positive.

“Stay positive.”

Oak leaf bunch, south of bridge, 25 Sept.

Oak leaf bunch, south of bridge, 25 Sept.

My dog and "YOLO!" under bridge.

My dog and “YOLO!”
under bridge.

Oak leaf, south of bridge. 25 Sept.

Oak leaf, south of bridge. 25 Sept.

 

How to break through writer’s block

Thanks to former student Sam Moore’s request for advice, I too have something to post this evening: 

Two pieces of advice:

1. Sometimes it helps to stop working now and try later if you’re really not feeling it. But if the deadline is soon,

2. Just do a freewrite where you throw down onto the page or screen any and all words that come to mind, the closer to the assigned topic the better. Afterwards, go back and delete as much of the crap as possible, and turn the assignment in and hope to do better next time.

Thoreau had some advice I like in the “Conclusion” to Walden:

Having considered that in an imperfect work time is an ingredient, but into a perfect work time does not enter, he said to himself, It shall be perfect in all respects, though I should do nothing else in my life.

Or, in other words: If the quality of the work is the priority, then take all the time you need to make the work great. But if getting done on time is the priority, then do it without worrying so much about quality — it’s not the priority.

 

How Google Images samples this blog

When I did a Google images search on “monkeymoonmachine,” this is what I saw.

monkeymoonmachine-images

I kinda like how random this assortment of pics is. And of course, some of the later images aren’t even from my blog.

Update: Some minutes later, additional searches of the same keywords turn up different images:

monkeymoonmachine-images2

 

monkeymoonmachine-images3