Category Archives: Photos

Images from a trip to Monterey Bay and back

At the Red Apple Cafe, Aptos, California, looking north through weeds and over vineyards toward Highway 1. 26 July 2022.

Dead crab. Seacliff State Beach, Aptos, Calif. 7:09 p.m. PDT, 26 July 2022.

Sand and ocean beyond. Seacliff Pier at upper right. Seacliff State Beach, Aptos, Calif. 7:09 p.m. PDT, 26 July 2022.

California dirt in ditch adjacent to State Park Drive, just east of Highway One, Aptos, Calif. 8:30 a.m., 27 July.

A bagel “with herbs.” Windmill Cafe, Santa Cruz, Calif. 27 July 2022.

“We’re looking at options,” said the man, perhaps into a phone, at extreme left in photo looking east from near Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz, Calif. about 11:45 a.m., 27 July 2022.

Bright colors at bottom edge of our hotel room’s balcony. 2:19 p.m., 27 July 2022.

The view north from my seat outside Peet’s Coffee, Aptos, Calif. (Soquel Drive passes this spot on the right of the photo.) 7:18 a.m., PDT, 28 July 2022.

View above my table outside Peet’s, 8:19 a.m. PDT, 28 July.

View north from my table at Peet’s, after morning clouds left, 8:32 a.m., 28 July.

Plants near the beach at Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove, Calif. 28 July 2022.

A crabby fellow at Asilomar State Beach. 28 July.

Beach stuff. Asilomar. 28 July.

More beach stuff at Asilomar. 28 July.

Pacific Ocean up close, Asilomar beach. 28 July.

Lovely flower and my my wife’s hand, near Nut Hut, Mission Street, Carmel-By-The-Sea, Calif. 28 July.

Colory fountain near Nut Hut off Mission Street, Carmel-By-The-Sea, Calif. 28 July.

A raspberry at a street curb on Ocean Avenue near Mission Street, Carmel-By-The-Sea, Calif. 28 July 2022.

A view of my table, midway through our meal at Geisha Sushi, Capitola, Calif. 29 July 2022.

The Soquel Creek seems to not quite get to the ocean at Capitola. 29 July 2022.

I take a viewpoint on Viewpoint Rd sign, Aptos, Calif. 29 July 2022.

I take a different viewpoint on Viewpoint Rd. 29 July 2022.

My wife, Maria, crawls out from the Fremont tree, in which we and others had been standing. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. 30 July 2022.

I hand-measure a banana slug in old-growth redwood trail of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. 30 July 2022.

A view south through my window not long after our jet took off from San Francisco airport, 1:41 PDT, 31 July 2022.

Looking southeast after we took off from Salt Lake City, about 8:27 p.m. MDT. 31 July 2022.

I-94 and, to its right, LaBagh Woods, I think. Chicago. 11:41 p.m. CDT, 31 July 2022.

Cleave these completed poems! August 2021 notes

A bee’s under-milkweed respite from rare rainfall (we’re inches below normal this summer). 21 Aug.

† I could look in tree bark or other textures for quasi-letter shapes, words, sentences — yes, it’s interpretive, but kind of a cool random-writing/interpretive idea, not so different from Poetry Bingo [an activity in my creative writing class] or from that stone that was interpreted as having runes but it was decided they were glaciation marks — a human’s judgment. [4 Aug. 2021]

Blueberries in cereal milk. 2 Aug.

‡ Story, telling stories: One, a story describes distant actions. To tell a story on paper and to read a story someone else wrote, both writer and reader are distant from the experiences described in the story. Two, how one tells the story, constructs it from one’s perspective (but carefully, being fair to others there who may hear it). I’m more aware than ever … that a story is an argument from one that one’s experience and one’s reaction to it are justified — “I was justified in getting mad because” of the story I tell. [6 Aug.]

Resurrection lily up close. 10 Aug.

† “Have you heard the story about” X event, we say, or we say, “have you heard about” X event. It’s interesting that we refer to stories about events rather than events themselves. But, of course, if I’m not present at the event, I do know only the story (and not the event itself) and illustrative pics & videos. [10 Aug.]

“The bronze ink of underworld waterfalls” grabbed my attention when I found these last-used-years-ago transparencies in my classroom. I think my students and I had been writing a poem together here. 13 Aug.

† Arts reports in news programs give more attention to what’s already getting attention. [16 Aug.]

Ogle County life: crayfish on Weld Park soil. 15 Aug.

‡ My journal bits aren’t parables. But there is an implication of … of what, exactly? Of recording, writing? Of any moment being interesting? [18 Aug.]

Justice Cat recuperating at home after an illness. 7 Aug. 2021

† “Pull up your sock, Justice!” I keep telling my cat. His shaved band on his right front leg looks like he’s got a sock drooping down. [19 Aug.]

‡ Anything and everything people do for money is foolish (at some level) in the sense that it’s not authentically you. It’s a game of meeting others’ expectations. [20 Aug. 2021]

† Consistency in intellectual positions is a value, but there’s no need for consistency (it’s not a value or standard) in living a life! I can change my opinions, have contradicting or differing ideas on different days of my journals — and that’s OK! Maybe intellectual argument positions should be consistent, but a living person’s views don’t have to be! [20 Aug. ]

A prairie plant in my stepdad’s plantings. 20 Aug.

‡ There’s no need for me to get my writing into competition for publication, attention. I heard my local NPR station’s promos for people to send in poems to be read online or to send in back-to-school “perspectives” (90-second essays). But I have no need to submit my writings for comparison to others’ writings! My writings are my own! I feel no (or very little) need to compare my writings to others’, to compete with others’ — my writings are mine, are from my life — that’s all. No other standards matter! [20 Aug.]

† At lunch today, I read in article at LitHub the line: “One of the traits most commonly associated with people on the spectrum is an inability to lie” — and I laughed: That’s me! And I’ve suspected my spectrum-place. [25 Aug.]

‡ Writers must model other minds, to see if what we’re thinking and saying would be explicable to (and interesting to, and persuasive to?) other minds. [25 Aug.]

† Of course I didn’t have lots of girlfriends — I wasn’t typical! I was seeking deep connection. The existence of atypicals undermines the necessity of the normals’ norms — the normals’ choices, too, are arbitrary, and the atypicals reveal that (by contrast)! [26 Aug.]

A view of my summer morning commute — contrast to winter ones posted earlier. This is facing south on Church Road, south of Route 64. 26 Aug. 2021.

‡ Residing in realm of “we don’t know” (vs. “we know”). Knowing ideas is not knowing the world. Characterizing is inadequate. I could spend more time not-knowing (meditating)? But, I’m giving up certainty. Sometimes I assert things but I also question — and by writing, I empty my mind to paper. A goal of being wise as knowing nothing (not being misled by flawed ideas)? Related points: my wait-and-see attitude toward [a family situation]? And the arrogance of selling “solutions,” as some companies sell themselves as doing. [27 Aug.]

† No branding is needed for my journals. There’s no need to stand out by a simple brand. Like a fingerprint, people’s journals have so many differences from each other. And showing off, showing one’s credentials, is not needed for intimacy. You like my voice or no. [27 Aug.]

‡ No one lives in historical time, the time-mood in which people look back  at the past. Even people 100s or 1000s of years ago live in present-to-them time, as we do now. [30 Aug.]

Cloudbreak over student parking lot, from my supervision post. 23 Aug.

† Poems unfinished — poems like my drawings left to viewers to interpret. Viewers can find a recognizable thing in one part (not a whole-image portrait). Creative readings of published poems — cleave these completed poems to make them more interesting for me to read. Read just the first halves of lines to free my mind from too-familiar patterns. Pushing back against obnoxious control of the author over their published poem — as if the writer’s mind could be better than randomness or better than silence. Let texts be as wild and unexpected as experiences! I could rewrite each new issue of American Poetry Review as it arrives! Why should I read text in the way the author wants me to? Why not read every other world or paragraph or …? (Yes, I’ve said “read creatively” before, but it seems more profound, more freeing, today!) Freeing the mind from having to “get” the single pattern of a text. The power of short sentences in my creative readings, in my McKuen erasures. [30 Aug.]

‡ I like creative reading because I’ve read too many stories. I’ve heard the same songs on radio, and the same kinds of songs, too often. So I mess with them. I may not always have the mental energy needed to play with texts (creative reading) but I am pretty sick of existing ideas — play isn’t too tiring. [31 Aug.]

† What happens to Matt (to me), I thought as I walked hallway to get to photocopier, might just not matter that much. What I think of it is the interesting-to-others (possibly) part. Whether Matt lives to 48 or 88, whether he publishes or not, gets cancer or not — these aren’t so interesting as events. So maybe I shouldn’t (and maybe I already don’t) write about experiences as all that interesting — except as parts of the world that passed through my mind. [31 Aug. 2021]

New dog ‘Sam’: ‘He’s cute and oddly tiny’

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Puppy Sam, eyeing a gray cat, partially visible at lower right corner of photo. Both animals are near the door to my grandma’s goat-milking house. Late summer, 2008.

Some facts from trip [from here to Denver and back] — gas receipts: …

Totals: 83.52 gallons, $316.07, avg. price/gal = $316.07/83.52 = $3.78/gal avg.

Total miles: 2389.5 miles/83.52 gals = 28.61 mpg at avg. speed of 70-75 mph in 2008 Scion XB, with now just over 20,000 miles

Well, clearly, I’m burying the lede here — [We] got our new dog yesterday. We brought him home and sat under safety tree and [grandma] P. and [uncle] L. and [cousin] E. came and P. just says, “Sam.” So after we said the name the other day, and P. said it, unprompted, uninformed by our earlier discussion, we decided on “Sam.” He’s cute and oddly tiny — a runt, perhaps, or a little malnourished, what with the worms and all …

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Puppy Sam, with his frequently used expression of concern.

And we had the puppy home in early afternoon and we walked him to quarry. Most of the way he walked himself. We joked that maybe he’s already 3 years old. He seems very smart and oddly proportionate. Most puppies are disproportionate. But his paws aren’t even very big, as [my grandpa] and M pointed out. “The World’s Smallest Lab,” I called him this morning.

He’s a biter. We had — I had, anyway — forgotten how bitey little dogs — puppies — are. And this morning I introduced him to [uncle] L’s dogs, who were barking at him as he was near [grandpa’s] pond as if he were a cat. I took him down there to L’s and he shivered a bit, and the other dogs were reluctant to meet him. Chester [a bloodhound] not too reluctant, but Sis [a hound] came within 10 feet and started to leave. I had to call her near, and Spuddy [hound-mix] was very leery, too, almost leaning sideways. … L came to his front door and said big dogs think little dogs are too needy. He said [his old dog] Rufus wouldn’t get near his own litter he fathered with Annie.

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Neighboring bloodhound Chester meets Sammy dog as pup. Late summer, 2008.

I went to Byron and got film and stuff. M said while I was gone, Sammy was carrying around a piece of newspaper folded only once — and there was an ad for “Sam’s” something on it. He met Kiki and Beezus [my grandparents’ Lhasa Apsos], who had been going nuts inside the house but weren’t really all that interested once they met him — later, inside P’s house, he chewed on one of those other dogs’ beef bones, and neither dog scolded him. He stayed in P’s deck pen while we went to Rockford — Beef-A-Roo, Petco …, Farm & Fleet for pen and crate. We won’t force him into the crate as we did Gracie on her first night. And there was very little separation anxiety last night. We set up pen and crate and, pen around the crate, with crate door open and a blanket inside and a towel over … for dark. When he picked out his own spots to lie down, he was going behind the front door or under chairs — smaller, darker spots. But then [his seller] said she had him in a pen by himself at nights and let him out into the hallway (or something like) near the miniature horse during the daytime. She said he was smart, but she didn’t say, and we didn’t ask, what she meant by smart, how she could tell that.

He — he’s just so small. And it’s — suddenly there’s a dog’s presence in the apartment again. Really pretty easy, that was. We cried about Gracie last night after looking at dog foods at Petco. And how hard it seems to pick a good food, how we used to do that for Gracie, pick a food that was healthy and wouldn’t give her allergies. And how that was stressful and it felt a little stressful last night and then I thought, eh, it doesn’t need to be stressful. Don’t approach dog ownership like that, thinking it has to be stressful.

How small he is — his ears not much bigger than the width of my thumb, and he’s got that puppy swell — a touch acrid, a slight bit like a skunk, but not offensive. And so cute now — I took nearly 3 rolls [of film pictures] yesterday alone. I want to document the early cute stuff — he’ll soon not be that. Yet he doesn’t really have a personality yet as older (adult) dogs do.

Ah, well. We’re going to Sycamore, to court.

We handle dog rearing better now than we did with Gracie.

OK, I checked: his ears are more like both my thumbs together.

Swimming in quarry: he followed me in. He got feet wet, hesitated just a bit, then walked in, then swam. I didn’t even have to introduce him to it.

He just plows through things, going forward and over, not around, legs and things in his way.

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Small Sammy!

[From journal of Weds., 13 Aug. 2008, Journal 103, pages 401-404. Pics of more-mature Sam here, here, and here]

This day for me is as open and contingent as any day for anybody ever: Nov. and Dec. notes

My view from beneath the shrubs at school where I eat outside so as to not be maskless in my classroom during pandemic school. 4 Nov. 2020.

§ My daily-living journals are a detective story — a story of me trying to figure out what’s going on around me.  I’m taking stock every day: “Here’s what I know, here’s what I wonder.” [4 Nov. 2020]

§ Once I’m dead, I’ll probably care about as much about writing and my writings as I do when I’m asleep now, which isn’t much. [5 Nov. 2020]

§ “I got couscous so you can stay alive,” said a mom to three kids elementary-school age, two girls and a boy, at a Woodman’s grocery store. One of the girls had made a comment how they each were carrying two things — I saw no cart or basket with them. [7 Nov.]

§ My job helps me get food. There’s no food in a bare field. I thought this while eating my store-bought food outside school yesterday and imagining I was out walking in a harvested field at north horizon. But there’s no food there. What saves me from hunger is my ability to partake in the system: I have credentials, job, money to shop for food others made. [9 Nov.]

§ Politics flattens people into partisans. There’s power in groups, and yet, I don’t want to think partisan. I don’t want to be limited. I don’t want to have to think about politics at all — let leaders make decisions. [19, 23 Nov.]

Gasoline refueling. 7 Dec. 2020

§ Even if you’re critical or cynical, your body exists. Being critical or cynical, those are just ideas. It can be unpleasant to be around (in the company of ) someone whose ideas I don’t like. There’s a sense in which people embody their ideas (values, attitudes, etc.). People will act out their values and will defend their ideas, with force sometimes. But, once you’ve died, your ideas are no longer part of your body; one’s death draws attention (mine at least today) to the body. The ideas seem to fall away, become these things unrelated to one’s existence — my point being that my attitudes and ideas (especially those that are general criticisms) aren’t all that important to me while I live, either. [30 Nov.]

Sunrise, Ogle County, Illinois. 15 Dec. 2020.

§ As I waited and looked at passing train cars (containers) at Flagg Center last night, I thought how I was merely looking. I wasn’t doing anything else more significant than that. As I looked at train, I thought, one day, if I go senile, I won’t appreciate sitting and watching a train pass. But now, at age 46, I can choose to do that. I’m not senile — I’m young enough to choose to look at a passing train. And I thought, somehow, that Kerouac died at about the age I am now, but he wrote his novels about times he had, things he did, when younger. And if I write now about my ideas and experiences now, my peers won’t care — but following generations might once they get to be my age. Kerouac wrote of his youthful exploits to show other young people things they could do — I do the same (not intentionally, but de facto) for older people? [30 Nov., 1 Dec.]

§ I don’t think of today as “1 December.” It’s just morning of a fall/winter day. [1 Dec.]

§ I’ve had dreams like this — I’m at school, working, but nobody’s here. I’m doing well for sitting in my room by myself for 8 hours a day, I said when asked by a passing human in the hallway how I was doing. Of course I’m thinking existential thoughts in this teaching-remotely era. My job is to do work for people and with people but the people are no longer here. There are Reals behind the screen, who do the assignments, yes, but I end up spending hours by myself.  [1 Dec. 2020, second day of fully remote/online teaching, 2 p.m.] 

§ I misspelled “example” as “exmaple” — a former maple? [3 Dec.] 

§ While walking dog this morning, I thought that this will be a typical day. Then I thought, no, it’s a particular day — today — and the day is open. And my mind can be open to it. (The danger of being older is feeling you know enough.) [7 Dec.]

§ Most literary texts intend [are intended by their creators] to engage readers as texts — I’m not as interested in doing that in my texts. Rather than presenting a whole, alternative world or worldview through my texts, I’d prefer to point out (I think) the limits of words and of abstraction, too. My texts will point away from themselves or their adequacy as texts. The texts I write, the ideas I have, seem less about conveying a wholeness and more about pointing away from language and abstraction and pointing toward the physical world of raw experience (or experience of consciousness in the physical world). I can’t say that every one of my texts in fact does this way point — but this is my general perception of my work and my inclination. I’m not interested in polishing my texts. I don’t need to create a complete theory or self-contained abstract world. I prefer to write spontaneously from within (or “out of”) my life. I don’t want to write from a pose of years later. And I am not interested in crafting and polishing my prose for a performance to readers. This is where I seem to be — these seem to be my (to this point) truest, profoundest wishes. [7 Dec.]

§ Political scientists and journalists who look to explain societal and voters’ tendencies — I’m not that interested in that level of and focus of rhetoric. NPR and other national news organizations’ stories are so often at the policy level, talking about wide-spread problems. Individuals’ problems seldom matter. [9, 14,15 Dec.]

§ Advice to myself: Practice not criticizing others publicly, but doing it privately, and only to learn from criticisms. Ignore, don’t make fun of, even, others. I’m seeing lately that I’d rather ignore foolishness than oppose it and suggest my own approaches. [10 Dec.]

§ How you react in a given moment on your own — an obvious point, yet worth saying: For all the formal learning we do, a person is acting as seems best in each moment in each present. [10 Dec.]

§ The hawk taking off from power pole and flying above my car, while I also saw cows in pasture to my left an abundance of a world for me to see on this sunny, frosty morning commute. [10 Dec.]

§ Longer texts pull us in. Shorter texts push us to do our own thinking. They’re more like prompts than stories — and they’re cool for that reason. They’re like koans for meditating on. And there’s no reason to read many at once — don’t keep reading — go off and think! [10 Dec.]

§ Short texts can be part of the physical world (and of my experience of physical world) more than long texts can be. You can read entire short texts while walking or driving by (example: my bulletin board in hallway of Exquisite Corpse text-excerpts). [10 Dec.]

§ Christmas IS media? Even the shepherds had to be told (by angels) of the significance of what was going on. Christmas songs, stories — but more broadly, Christmas is a human event (of course) — food, presents — it’s things we do special for each other [14 Dec.]

Harvested cornfield, Ogle County, Illinois, afternoon of 15 Dec. 2020.

§ Yesterday as a day full of moments — momentary experiences. There’s no experience of yesterday (as a unit) — and any store of yesterday is arbitrary. I’ve said before that each thought marks a moment, feels like (creates the feeling of ) the passage of time. Maybe each thought is also its own experience. A report of my day’s experience would be a report of each thought? Though I’m not even aware of every thought, especially when I’m engaged in working. [16 Dec.]

§ There is no perfect story in real experience, no idyllic endings. But no cynicism about that — why should there be tidy endings? We don’t need to be cynical about that. [17 Dec.]

§ Of course others have done similar things before — but you’re doing them now. I saw a cow near a fenceline eating dry (tan) grass this morning, and I thought that a lot of what that cow does, and what I do, has been done by other cows, other people (respectively). But the cow is eating this particular grass this particular day for its particular body’s nourishment. This moment, this act, has historic significance. But even if not for historic significance, there’s now significance. [17 Dec.]

§ This day for me is as open and contingent as any day for anybody ever. My dad’s death day was as open for him as my day today is. [22 Dec.]

§ To sit in a house alone now without media isn’t so different from sitting in a house alone 50, 100, or more years ago. The fashions change, but not the consciousness? [22 Dec.]

§ Each day has tasks and moods. Today’s won’t seem significant by tomorrow — which will have its own. This is living — each day’s journal has (describes) each day’s struggle? Why read those later — to be reminded of this? [23 Dec.]

A farmstead where I lived almost 40 years ago. Track Road, Ashton, Illinois. Photo taken 23 Dec. 2020.

§ Old farms were set up so old farmers could have the conscious experience they wanted. They liked feeding cows, or whatever they did there. What a person’s willing to spend (invest) in buying a store or house or certain equipment to have an experience — I’m not willing to pay for a store, but for notebooks, yes. (And we who live now don’t need to feel guilty if we decline to take on the maintenance burden of earlier generations). [23 Dec. 2020]

The hum & crackle of possibility in real life: October pics & notes


My view from beneath the shrubs at school where I eat outside so as to not be maskless in my classroom during pandemic school. 5 Oct. 2020

‡  You need to double-check/peer-review your work when there are standards for your work — and there aren’t any for new ideas. [5 Oct. 2020]

‡  The work my brother and I did in building my new deck: we were moving things (dirt, concrete, lumber, etc.) around. The things, unlike my students at my teaching job, had no say in what work I was doing. Nor did I question my work, what I’m doing and why, as I do in my teaching work. [5 Oct.]

‡  There’s no time travel because only physical forces can cause physical objects to move — so what could replace objects how they were at an earlier time? [5 Oct.]

Foliage in Ogle County, Ill. 8 Oct. 2020

‡  3:56 or 57 p.m.: A minute ago, while driving on Lindenwood Road, I saw a white-faced black bovine sniff and rub its head on a trailer hitch in its pasture. [5 Oct.]

‡  My mind isn’t quite an animal’s mind. So it might as well be open (a human mind as its own kind). [6 Oct.]

‡  With my mind open, I can be at home (or at ease, at least) anywhere. [6 Oct.]+

‡  What ideas do you have about ideas? — I could ask this of my students. I’m thinking of my “creative reading” assignment today, and when I asked what they’d come up with, my student L. said he’d written sentences that were meaningless. I wonder if kids think writing has to refer to something real. If they don’t get see that it’s words themselves that prompt mental images and feelings — that our minds will find patterns in word groups and sentences, as I’ve said in other classes when we do “Poetry Bingo.” [6 Oct.]

Pre-mums. 2 Oct. 2020

‡  Is it possible that readers like to feel needed by their authors? And maybe my readers don’t feel I need them? [6 Oct.]

‡  I’m an exemplar of living my life the way I live it. I don’t seek fame because, well, I want to see what life is like without that. I want to not work at fame, anyway. [7 Oct.]

‡  At one’s job, one has to adapt one’s mind to doing what others want and find valuable. Some people go to trainings in order to learn to think like their bosses (about new trends, say). These people want practical help. But my ideas aren’t always practical. My ideas are usually meant to provoke new thinking, not to practically tell would-be bosses what the currently popular ideas are. [7 Oct.]

Central beam of new deck being built by my brother, Dan. 14 Oct. 2020

‡  I’m tempted to take pics of lovely color on trees. But I’m skeptical of what I’d do with those picture. I don’t want to present that lovely moment as lasting. It seems a bit unreal — is it worth preserving? We get that impulse to preserve when we see these brief colors. [8 Oct.]

‡  At end of my commute home: I heard on radio “Love on an Elevator” (Aerosmith) and thought how distant rock as an art form can be from experience — not the lyrics, but the bombastic music. Rock is formal, not personal or in time. [8 Oct.]

‡  Maybe no moments are important as one lives them. [9 Oct.]

Concrete, clay, tile. 14 Oct. 2020

‡  The magic’s in the seeing, in my own attention, not in getting others’ attention. I saw a pattern of columns in a row as I headed outside — I thought about taking pics but didn’t. I don’t need a pic. The magic is in the experience, in the seeing. [13 Oct.]

‡  Being conscious means having context awareness (when and where you are, what led up to a particular moment of experience, etc.) But if you write about a particular moment, the text strips that context awareness away. [14 Oct.]

‡  Were it possible to do work unconsciously, would/should we? [14 Oct.]

Sky in Ogle County, Ill. 16 Oct. 2020

‡ The hum (the crackle?) of possibility in real life — that’s not in film or on TV, except maybe in live shots. [15 Oct.]

‡  Possession, in the sense of “these trees are mine because I see them.” Why revert to ownership, which is odd, too. [15 Oct.]

‡  We inflict intellectuals upon the young. The professor’s non-academic peers don’t need him/her (except to consult on practical matters, for law, science profs, etc.). Even literature and philosophy profs, we consult on questions within their specialties, but not as general life-models. People get learnéd, and then we inflict them on the young. [16 Oct.]

Ogle foliage. 23 Oct. 2020

‡  The real learning we do simply happens through repetition — that real learning is unintentional, unconscious/subconscious. It proceeds/happens without metathinking. Examples: the skills you do at your job everyday, or how the journal-writing I do every day has trained my mind to get faster, smoother, at producing words. Perhaps all the new-material learning we do at school is too specialized. When we say kids should be lifelong learners, are we saying that because workers learn new things? But mostly we don’t learn new things. We do old, familiar things again and again. And we value repetitions — experience — in technicians, surgeons, etc. [19 Oct.]

Oaky undertones. 24 Oct. 2020

‡  My monologuing, as in my journal-writing, communicates moods. Whatever I write about, even if it skips from topic to topic or is unclear, readers can probably discern my mood at the time I wrote it — anxious, relaxed, whatever. (Maybe that’s the essence of a journal monologue: I’m alive in this style (mood) today, now.) And moods seem important to communicate, I guess. [21 Oct.]

Lorado Taft’s “Eternal Indian” (aka Blackhawk) Statue, Oregon, Ill. Recently restored. 24 Oct. 2020. See previous state of statue here.

‡  Thinking of historical people’s bodies (say, typical people who lived a 100 or more years ago) — how they were dressed, what they used for transport, it’s easy to forget that these people also had desires. They were as desirous of money, sex, etc., as we are now. They were as eager to make money as people are now — we now can afford (in my region, anyway) not to farm every inch of land (as Illinois farmers did generations ago) because we have other jobs and investments by which to get money. [21 Oct.]

View west from base of “Eternal Indian” statue over Rock River toward north end of Oregon, Ill. 24 Oct. 2020

‡  Having confidence that you’ll get fed is part of what creates relaxation on vacation. If food’s scarce, there’s no ease. [21 Oct.]

‡  How I get captivated sometimes by images, idylls — maybe I want out of my context? [22 Oct.]

‡  “Just assume pretty. I can’t do it anymore,” my wife said after she’d pointed out some lovely natural scenes, and then did that several times, as we drove along River Road in Ogle Co., Ill. [24 Oct.]


How different pandemic school looks. Students in the high school where I teach don’t use lockers this year, and furniture has been removed from classrooms to allow recommended spacing between students. 26 Oct. 2020

‡  We must choose what we’ll say about any topic when we start to write about it. I’m pointing out that whenever one crafts a nonfiction story or description, biography or eulogy, one has to leave out a lot — and one must choose what to leave out. What attitude would I take if I wrote about my school, say? [26 Oct.]

Fuzzy sunrise. Ogle Co., Ill. 30 Oct. 2020

‡  There’s no why — it’s what sounds good. I’m thinking here about how some music-analysts talk about pop music in terms of chords and keys (which is like when some English teachers talk about literature in terms of alliteration and metaphor) and how these are levers that artists can pull to make music. But I suspect that most creating artists don’t think first about these levers. They probably have a germ of an idea and explore it and follow it and make decisions (using their experienced-but-open-minded judgment-faculty) based on gut feelings — rather than intentionally thinking of the levers. [28 Oct.]

I voted early this election in the basement of our old courthouse and jail. 31 Oct. 2020

‡  There’s nothing I wanted to compete for, jobwise or businesswise. I sometimes think I could’ve lived a bigger life — have had more money, fame, titles. But then, I don’t really regret these lacks at all. I never wanted to compete for a job or to get more business. [28 Oct.]

‡  As someone whose main message (frequent perspective) is to question the common ideas, I don’t need to create a whole alternative body of ideas. I just need to point away from (question) the common ideas. [30 Oct.]

‡  I’m not going to win awards (which, almost by definition, are mainstream, Establishment) and maybe my point — the main message of my writings (not that I have often thought about my writings having a single message, but if they did) is to question the common ideas of the Establishment, to say that there’s always more than one way to do things and to think of things. So my point is to show that there’s a good life to be lived without Establishment praise. [30 Oct.]

“Used Pens (need sanitized).” Early voting office, Ogle Co., Ill. 31 Oct. 2020

Out-of-focus autumn

23 Oct. 2020. Ogle County, Illinois. Photo by M. Hagelmann.

Good writing seduces, bad writing awakens: March 2020 notes

Outside Union Dairy, Freeport, Illinois. 7 March 2020

‡  Saw an “L” shape on a rural road. It tipped and became a squirrel. [2 March 2020]

‡  Patterns are not icons — by “icons,” I mean cliché images, like “the lone tree in the field,” such as the one I drive past most mornings. Iconic images are ones I try to avoid photographing, no only because they’re clichés but also because they seem to imply a meaning (a lone tree represents solitude, loneliness, etc). But patterns — like, say, a certain repetition of ice crystals or a sequence of toys on a shelf — aren’t cliché or meaning-heavy. [2 March & 9 March].

‡  When things are set close together and similar, that’s asking for them to be compared. [4 March]

‡  Maybe most teaching is coaching, having students do and redo certain things until they are automatic: rehearsing a play or performing a cheer routine. But I don’t always like the coaching model, even with fairly routine things like fixing sentence fragments. I want my students not to memorize a routine but to be able to respond to different sentences. [5 March]

NIU campus, approached from the west. 5 March 2020

‡  There’s not much narrative coherence in dreams. Also not in life, if you don’t stay in the story (like today, I’ll find myself at N.I.U., which is not a normal setting for my lived experience). [5 March]

‡  A history of smells: What were the common smells someone alive in a small Midwestern town would’ve smelled in 1858? Horse manure? Wood smoke? Body odor? (My mom says her grandmother, born in 1904, remembers there being a smell to most adults, before bathing was frequent.) Being an adult in the 1990s, I remember when most public restaurants and bars smelled of cigarette smoke, and since smoking in public places has been banned, those smells indoors aren’t as common today. I wonder too about a personal history of smells. In my life, I love the smell of wintergreen, perhaps (as I found out in recent years) because my mom used wintergreen candies to encourage my progress in being potty-trained. I also strongly associate the smells of woodsmoke and animal fat with visiting my uncle in the barn where he skinned, fleshed, and dried pelts of beaver, muskrat, raccoon, and other furbearers. [7 March]

‡  How many days I’ve been conscious — ALL of them! — for all the decades I’ve been alive. [9 March]

‡  Good writing seduces, distracts. I get pulled into spending too much time reading online, and escapism has a place in my life, sure. But bad writing — unpolished, not-publication-smoothed — wakes one up. Finding a misspelling in a story disperses the spell that the narrative casts on the reader. On the other hand, maybe it’s OK to not be under a spell! So many businesses want an audience’s “eyeballs,” people’s attention, to get money from them. What about a literature that doesn’t want to capture readers’ attention? That might be a non-capitalist literature, available for free. Or maybe the distinction isn’t good/polished writing versus bad/unpublishable writing. Rather, the distinction is smooth, easy, familiar, bingeable versus prickly, new, legitimately attention-repelling. [11-12 March]

‡  We teach each other — subtly, indirectly — all the time. [11 March]

‡  If you need to market yourself, you need to have a brand, be unique, stand apart. But if I don’t need to market myself, I don’t have to claim to be unique. [12 March]

‡  Fitting into a discipline — say, becoming a trained ballet dancer — can shape you, and perhaps there is value in being shaped. But there’s also value in the uncarved block! There’s value in seeing individual people not as generic people in school (or other) systems, not as role-players, but in seeing them as uncarved blocks themselves, as individuals full of potential! [12 March]

‡  The vague dread — awaiting the spread of the pandemic virus. The dread of not-knowing — having a serious situation I’ve never seen before in my whole life. I get image of low, dark blue clouds on horizon. And I wonder if perhaps this could become the kind of event after which a lot of things  change — hopefully for the better (a better social safety net, etc). I just noticed a article: “We’re not going back to the way life was before.” [midday & afternoon of 12 March 2020]

‡  I have already joked to a couple people about the woman I saw at grocery store yesterday with three boys whose cart was nearly full — it included several boxes of Pop Tarts. My wife said you can tell what people value — she said she saw a dude with three cases of Snapple. The guy who helped carry our groceries to our car said his boss had texted him — he showed us the text — something like “keep stocking t.p.” [13 March 2020]

Dandelion-greens salad, fresh from my yard. 23 March

‡  Why we have other people around instead of just having cardboard cut-outs or pics or texts that people have written: texts, personas, images, and ideas can’t respond. But a person can respond — which also means that the respond-able person isn’t any fixed, steady, permanent idea. A real person isn’t always cool or kind or any trait (traits being defined, fixed). [24 March]

‡  A reminder to myself: you know, you can’t go dine out or go get coffee — but you ARE still alive, for god’s sake, meaning you can still look, think, write, relate to others, etc. — all the stuff you’d do were you located in any place, say, like in a waiting room or in a park or something. In other words, it’s not like getting a latte or a particular meal or buying a book, etc., would be all that satisfying. The tastes aren’t all that important. [24 March]

Empty downtown Byron, Illinois, Weds. 25 March 2020, afternoon.

‡  I’m starting a personality profile of our neighbor dog, a big Labradoodle named Paisley. I decided that she’s a Wings fan — “Listen to what the Paisley says.” My wife said, “Paisley does NOT strike me as a Wings fan.” When I told my neighbor about my supposition, he said Paisley’s much more of a Bob Seger fan. [26 March]

Our cat sleeps like a hibernating chipmunk. 28 March

‡  I remember days (four days) later the woman at the produce aisle last Friday, who saw my shopping list and said she should’ve made a list, too. [31 March]

Our cat worships at our home printer like it’s his god. He had ignored it before it was plugged in and came to life. 30 March

Pine Rock, Ogle County, Illinois

Though I’ve lived near this sandstone prominence most of my life, I’d never stopped to see it up close until last Monday. I didn’t see many pines around Pine Rock, but I did see many cool views:

View of Pine Rock from the northwest, just off Route 64 between Rocky Hollow and Pine Rock roads.

View from west-southwest of rock. My shadow’s at lower left.

Cracks, view from SW.

Many cavities in the rock.

View from southwest.

View from south.

Closer view, south side.

Southside detail of Pine Rock.

Southeast corner of Pine Rock, camera facing east.

Southeast corner of Pine Rock, as seen from south.

A shaded bit of the southeast corner. Camera’s facing southwest.

Sand at base of rock, southeast side, near oak leaves, acorns, and snow.

Sand worn from rock is a light-gray color.

A variety of colors in the sandstone, southeast corner.

On southeast side, a minicave.

A view of several feet of the southeast-facing side.

A seam in the rock at southeast end, seen from south.

View from east.

View from northeast of rock.

Looking southwest from northside of rock.

Detail, west side.

A bit of moss in the lower right, view of northmost piece of rock from west.

View from west of the northernmost piece.

Closer view of the northernmost piece as seen from west.


Fuzzy fall photos

Blurry Sam. 11 Sept. 2019

Sam dog under dew glass. 11 Sept. 2019.

2 Oct. 2019. Ogle County soybean field.


Corn leaves turning silver after frost. 15 Oct. 2019.

Soybean field and corn field, Ogle County. 15 Oct. 2019

Impressionist corn stalks. 15 Oct. 2019.

Rain in the post office parking lot. 26 Oct. 2019

Halloween morning snow. Illinois Route 72, 31 Oct. 2019

Illinois Route 2, 31 Oct. 2019

31 Oct. 2019

31 Oct. 2019

31 Oct. 2019

31 Oct. 2019

22 Sept. 2019: An Image and An Idea

22 Sept. 2019. On the front of the truck parked facing me in Oregon, Ill.

φ  You even don’t have to fret about other drivers not using their turn signals!