Caveat: Poem #867

old music reveals
human minds’ complexities
and time just passes

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Caveat: Bach humbug

I went to my friend Bob’s concert – he conducted his Wisconsin Chamber Choir for a Christmas performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Here he is during the intermission – in the tux lower center, of course.

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It was wonderful music. My title is just a joke.

The performance was at the Luther Memorial Church (Lutheran) in Madison, on the University campus. The church itself was quite beautiful, in a faux-gothic way. I took this picture of the crescent moon hovering on the tip of the bell tower, outside – it looked like a minaret on a mosque, but the moon’s brightness made my camera image too indistinct to really see this.

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What I’m listening to right now.

JS Bach, “Christmas Oratorio,” by Concentus Musicus Wien, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Of course, I heard a different version, by the Wisconsin Chamber Choir – but that’s not on youtube.

[daily log: walking, 3km]

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Caveat: Poem #866

food
and talk;
gathering
for discourses
and storytelling,
the speakers taking turns,
among reliable friends
and their inquisitive children;
outside, the cold night lays down hoarfrost.

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Caveat: dialogues at dawn

Bob and Sarah had to throw out a broken toilet and ancient chair, so I helped carry them to the curb last night. This morning they awaited their fate, collecting frost.

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I would entitle this photograph “Dialogues at Dawn” because of the way there are two places to sit, side by side. But it’s humorous.


Later I took a medium-length walk around the pond in the center of the town of Whitewater, since Bob and Sarah had to work, of course.

I saw these guys standing on the pond, ice-fishing.

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[daily log: walking, 3km]

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Caveat: Poem #865

known to be unknown
an odd sort of infamy
adrift in the woods

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Caveat: Poke men in Madison

I went to Madison with my friend Bob. He had to do a radio interview, related to publicizing his upcoming concert which he is conducting.

While he was in the radio station doing his interview, I had some time to kill walking around Madison. I have never lived in Madison, but I have spent a lot of time here over there years, because it’s where my sister went to grad school, and where several friends also went to grad school, and of course now, where my friend Bob teaches and conducts music.

I took this picture looking up State Street, which connects the state capitol building (in the distance) with the university campus (behind me).

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My friend Doug has long described Madison as “Disneyland for college students” and that seems an accurate moniker. It’s everything you want in a college town.

Madison occupies a striking isthmus between two lakes. So a few blocks north of State Street you’re on the shores of Lake Mendota.

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Later, after his interview, Bob and I met with Martin, who is the son of my friends Mark and Amy who I just finished visiting up in Eagan, Minnesota. Martin works in downtown Madison, so it was easy for him to get away from work and have lunch.

I found a place selling poke. Poke (/poʊˈkeɪ/) is a bit like a Hawaiian version of 비빔밥 (bibimbap) or 볶음밥 (bokkeumbap). You mix rice with various toppings, including raw or cooked fish, veggies, and sauces. I had one with very hot sauce and raw tuna and tofu. It was delicious.

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Here is a selfie of me, Martin and Bob at the poke joint.

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Later, I took a long walk to a nature reserve north of Bob and Sarah’s house. I went past the photogenic Whitewater water tower.

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[daily log: walking, 4km]

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Caveat: Poem #864

the snow malingers
where it fell, stubborn and cold,
impertinently.

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Caveat: a human snow

Occupation

The soldiers are
hard at work,
building a house.
They hammer
bodies into the earth
like nails,
they paint the walls
with blood.
Inside, the doors
are locked, shut
like eyes of stone.
And the stairs
are icy, all flights
go down.
There is no floor,
only a roof,
where ash is falling —
dark snow,
a human snow,
thickly, blackly
falling.
Come, they say.
This house will
last forever.
You shall occupy it.
And you, and you —
Come, they say.
There is room
for everyone.

– Suji Kwock Kim (American poet, b 1969)

[daily log: walking, 4km; driving, 500km]

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Caveat: Poem #863

the names that things have
are not fixed, but rather drift
unnamed, the dawn happens

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Caveat: a city of memories and stale snow

I spent my last day in Minneapolis running a few errands and driving around a bit, among my memories. I’ve lived in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, on and off, for almost a quarter of my life, including very formative years of young adulthood.

This is the house on Elliott Avenue where I met Michelle and Jeffrey. Bob and I were roommates, upstairs, while Michelle lived in the downstairs unit. Jeffrey was 5 years old, then. The house’s appearance is almost unchanged.

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Here is the Minneapolis skyline as seen from 14th Street at the University of Minnesota campus, at sunset.

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No visit to Minneapolis is complete without a meal at an Ethiopian restaurant. Mark, Amy and I went to a restaurant on 4th Avenue South, just south of Lake Street, a few blocks northwest of the Elliott Avenue house shown above.

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[daily log: walking, 3km]

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Caveat: Poem #862

the trees are frosted
by the night’s exhalations;
now a raven sits

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Caveat: My almost brother

I call Eugene my “almost” brother. He was an exchange student from Kazakhstan in the early 1990s, living with my dad and stepmother in Southern California, at the time when my brother Andrew was a teenager.

Eugene has been a member of my extended family ever since, even though I haven’t seen him much (I mean, the same could apply to many of my actual relatives, too).

His wife and he live in Minnesota, here, and have two amazing children. I was happy to meet them. I drove out to their house for dinner this evening. We took a selfie at the dinner table. It’s not a great photo, but it managed to include all of us, despite its blurriness.

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Since Eugene speaks Russian, natively, and his wife Marisol grew up as a native Spanish-speaker in Los Angeles, they made the decision to raise their children trilingually. It’s quite spectacular to see a 4 year old switching seamlessly between English, Spanish and Russian. The fact that I’m fluent in two of those and able to at least vaguely understand the third (from my two years of college Russian), I had fun switching along with her.

All parents who can should give the gift of multilingualism to their children.

Unrelatedly, earlier, I took another long walk at the big park south of Mark and Amy’s house. I took some pictures. They seem a bit monotonous, I’m sure, but I never tire of the winter landscape here.

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I saw a frozen stream.

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I saw long shadows.

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This is Jensen Lake. A good Minnesota name.

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The lake has an island.

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I found an unexpected shrine beside the trail.

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I saw a hillside beetling into the lake.

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[daily log: walking, 5km]

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Caveat: Poem #861

the cold penetrates,
burrows in and takes over;
but the sky expands

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Caveat: hash and cold batteries

Last night, using leftovers from the previous night, I made a chopped roast hash with potatoes and stuff, and we used the jar of chili sauce that Juli had sent with me to gift to Mark and Amy as garnish. It was pretty good.

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Today, I didn’t do a lot. It was one of those “days off” that is part of this cross-country misadventure.

One thing: Mark has his parents old RV in an outdoor storage (guarded parking) location. We went to check on it, and the battery was dead. We got very cold taking out the battery.

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[daily log: walking, 1km]

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Caveat: Poem #860

ice
blue light
fallen leaves
chilling breezes
paths made through fresh snow
the frozen surfaces
the tortured shapes of bare trees
exuberances of night air
enumerations of winter’s wants

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Caveat: Minnesota Trails

Last night, Amy made a delicious dinner (which I tried to help with, at least a little). There was a roast and potatoes.

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Today, I ran a few small errands, got frustrated with my bank, and decided to take a long walk in the giant park near Mark and Amy’s house.  I took a lot of pictures.

I went east on Cliff Road to the entrance to the Lebanon Hills Regional Park. I walked down a snow-covered path.

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I saw some small lakes.

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I had to find my way around a stretch of closed trail. These two signs were at opposite ends of the closed part.

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I saw some trees.

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I saw what, in summer, is probably a grassy hillside.

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I came to a clearing in the trees and saw some humble, 21st century habitations.

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I love Minnesota in the winter. It is probably what I miss most about living here.

[daily log: walking, 4km]

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Caveat: Poem #859

the air becomes cold
it ceases to move around
and snow pins the ground.

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Caveat: increasing amounts of snow on the ground

I drove east yesterday, and it was interesting to see the increasing amounts of snow on the ground as I progressed northeastward from Denver to Minneapolis.

After crossing from Colorado to Nebraska:

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After crossing from Nebraska to Iowa:

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After crossing from Iowa to Minnesota:

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The Blueberry Tank in Mark and Amy’s driveway this morning.

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[daily log: walking, km]

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Caveat: Poem #858

A squirrel flinches
and kicks up a puff of snow;
some snowflakes drift down.

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Caveat: A map of travels

Some people wonder what this giant trip I’m taking is all about.

I’ve written about is some, before, but I decided yesterday to make a map of the plan.

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I am currently in Denver, Colorado, so about 30% of the driving is done. Total trip will be more than 5000km of driving.

The dates are not exact – they are targets. Arthur is not riding along for the whole trip – he is flying some of the sections, and skipping some parts. This is because I have more people I want to visit than he does.

[daily log: walking, 1km; driving 1450km]

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