Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Walleye Artist

Dan and Nancy Root are among Robert and Marsha’s (bro/sister-in-law) best friends. Now after all these years of knowing them and admiring their creativity and lifestyle I hope they won’t mind being my friends too.

Dan is a fish sculptor. Well, he creates these beautiful wooden fish that are sculptures but also real lures and decoys. I guess. I mean they float and so forth but I’m not sure what you do with them otherwise. Obviously I’ve never fished in my life.

I think these fish are the perfect representation of art for beauty and fun. First because they are graceful and colorful and imaginative.  Secondly they are just so Minnesota!  In fact Dan’s fish embody the state perfectly—Minnesota supports the arts better than most other states because of a tax on the sports of hunting and fishing. Yup, serious about outdoor sports but love our arts. Voila…Dan’s Art Fish.  We Minnesotans are sober serious people with a weird sense of humor and a cynical, slightly wacky sense of life. Comes from that Scandinavian adage to not think too highly of oneself and from Minnesota winters and from a lifetime of mosquito bites.

Dan gave me a pet this summer, a bright and charming walleye. I suppose I’ll call him Wally, not original, but he seems comfortable with it. Wally lives on the table next to but pointed away from the stove—forever fleeing the frying pan. He doesn’t understand that he is wooden and just wouldn’t taste like his free-range cousins anyway.  Also Wally’s much less bother than a dog or a cat so I’m doubly appreciative. Dan’s website is

So thanks Dan. Love from Marj and Wally.







BLOGS SUMMER 2013 4 M's 944

BLOGS SUMMER 2013 4 M's 970

BLOGS SUMMER 2013 4 M's 988

BLOGS SUMMER 2013 4 M's 943

Days Like This

There are days to waste. Not to plan or make lists or wash dishes or return phone calls or even study maps or read Lewis and Clark’s journals or scan photos or watch Book TV. Such days usually show up just when you least need them, just at times when there is a lot of the aforementioned to do.

When days like this do appear however you must make the best of it. You sit on the couch (for a change you can lie on the bed) reading and eating food cold out of the can anytime the mood strikes. It’s ideal to have pints of a favorite ice cream on hand but if not some cheese or sugarless butterscotch will suffice.

Thank god for the Village Bookstore in Grand Rapids, Minnesota with its bountiful supply of Scandinavian murder mysteries. It makes a day like today seem like it was meant to be.


Change is Good

Change is desired…and dreaded. With almost equal anticipation. A new house/city/job/partner is exciting and enlightening; a new house/city/job/partner, at best, a difficult and, at times, uncomfortable adjustment.

A great deal of change is going on right now in life, for me personally, for family and friends. I love it all…and it’s giving me a stomach ache. Really. Actually the stomach ache is caused by the fact that I’m dreaming road and horror movies. I drove so many miles, much of it on prairie highways and as usual I’m reading Scandinavian murder mysteries. Which is probably why my dreams, at night and even if I take a nap, are of bloody killings in small towns, of Nazi soldiers (where’d that come from?) throwing a bludgeoned body into a freeway ditch, of me being hunted by a dangerous and mentally unstable fiend in a grove of cottonwoods near a western ranch house—the cattle close by, chewing away, completely ignoring my plight. I, however, am not attributing this sleep disturbance to too many Swedish murderers or too much driving but rather to the silly tension I experience when there’s change in the air.

For starters I have been in the process of changing my job for the past few months—I’ll still administer a small agency but the part of that which was my passion for many years is over. I have been increasingly impatient with and tired of the machinations of presenting artists so my decision to leave it is beyond right, it’s brilliant and there are no regrets. Finally I can use what time and energy is available after job, people and general life responsibilities for writing—to finally becoming a real writer. Still, it is a big change. Makes my stomach hurt even without deadly killers lurking behind every Montana Dairy Queen.

Then there are my brother and sister-in-law…and my oldest son. Moving to new houses, even state in my brother’s case. Robert and Marsha change locations a lot. Minnesota to Florida to Alaska to Florida to Minnesota, etc. They have even looked here in Albuquerque frequently—closer to family and all that. Now, one night about two weeks ago, in the Minnesota motel where we were all staying on our visit back home, they bought a house on line—in the foothills of the Sandias! My youngest son lives on that side of town…so there they’ll be, a big chunk of my family…so close. I am quite excited by the prospect but nevertheless it is another big change.

My California son sold his home at the foot of Black Mountain which I climbed a couple of times a year to prove I wasn’t really old yet and moved to downtown San Diego. While I am very excited about the prospect of roaming around beach and city on visits just what is supposed to prove that my dwindling stamina has not all dwindled? Walking the beach and strolling about among the cafés and coffeehouses of downtown just won’t do it. Okay, an exciting change I agree, still my stomach hurts.

My young son turned 50 and jumped out of an airplane to prove he could; my granddaughter starts a new important job in one field after getting a UCLA degree in another; another granddaughter goes off to college in Texas. My friend got a divorce after 25 years of marriage because it was way past time, another friend is closing his lovely little gift and souvenir shop after many years… and another friend died. So Many Changes.

Meanwhile a new heroine, Annika, has just entered my life. She works for a newspaper in Stockholm and was at the scene of a shooting during Nobel ceremonies. The killer is a woman named Kitten but we know nothing else about her. Tonight I imagine Annika will be staying at the slightly creepy Cheyenne hotel where Teresa and I spent the night and when the screams from the room just down the hall wake us all, who will be beating at the door, yelling open up open up but Annika. Although somehow my imagination can’t stretch so far as a beautiful Swedish journalist in the Cheyenne Wyoming Super 8. But when my stomach hurts pretty much anything can happen.

New Mexico in Focus

New Mexico in Focus is the best of all possible political opinion shows—five very smart informed opinionated people discussing issues that impact each of us in one way or the other. Gene Grant, the moderator, is simply perfect in his role; articulate and quietly firm, he effectively leads a diverse group of people week to week, community leaders all—in reasonable and intelligent talk. Tonight, the panel includes one of my favorite politicians of all time, former state senator Dede Feldman, unabashedly liberal and too bright to refute unless you’re really out of touch or frightfully conservative. First topic this evening: Gary King (NM Attorney General) has issued an opinion that NM law probably does not permit same-sex marriage. King is a supporter but his job is as a lawyer, not an advocate, in this case. If we still had a Democratic governor maybe the leadership could manage to figure out a way to move ahead with this silly issue—silly because of course it should not even be a question of whether people who love each other and want to create a legal union can do so.

Next a sobering discussion on the water crisis described by the NMIF website as follows: NMIF begins a series of interviews on water and the crisis of drought in New Mexico, as author William deBuys sits down to discuss the state of water and climate change in the Southwest. The New Mexican authored the book “A Great Aridness” and keeps close track of the policies and politics that go alongside the changing climate in the American Southwest. I’ve been in the Sahara Desert and the bordering Sahel and, while I love being there, it is not a happy thought to think that is the future of the southwest.

New Mexico is a BLUE STATE—thank you gods of (modest) rationality. But we do elect Republicans like Pete Domenici (from that almost-disappeared school of good Republicans) and our current governor, Susana Martinez, who seems generally to be well-liked—who knows why? When I watch NMIF which I try to do each week I am always reminded to pay more attention to the state’s political life—it’s too important to leave to the people who elect Republicans.



First Day Back in Real LIfe

Got up at 5:00am, walked by the ditch and the ponds for an hour, showered, ate oatmeal, went to work, did some real work/some not, came home and drank two Red Stripes, ate a Stouffer’s Tuna Noodle Casserole (returning to being a foodie apprentice soon) and now after Chris Hayes and my political catch-up I am going to bed.

Here’s a morning photo to prove I am back in my Rio Grande neighborhood.



Homeward Bound

I left Sioux Falls in a dense fog. Which makes for foggy indistinct blurry mysterious photos…nice to try to recapture in sunny sunny sunny New Mexico.

4 M's Home from Sioux Falls 062



4 M's Home from Sioux Falls 073

4 M's Home from Sioux Falls 075

4 M's Home from Sioux Falls 081

4 M's Home from Sioux Falls 079

6,462 MILES

The END of the Epic 24-day Summer Road Trip of 2013.

Happy to be home…in relentlessly sunny New Mexico. Sad to have left the cool green beauty of the north.

In Fort Collins last night a visit with Val and John and their gorgeous lively babies.

All day driving driving driving through the tedious chaos of Denver traffic; by the same Rockies we started the trip with only on the other side now.

Through the dreary stretches of I-25 in southern Colorado.

Into New Mexico which looked pretty good considering it is not green, rainy, cloudy, even misty. Oh well, it is home.

The pretty scenery in Fort Collins:

4 M's Home from Sioux Falls 096

4 M's Home from Sioux Falls 134

Taking the Long Way Home: Day Two—Lemmon to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Now it almost the end of the trail for this trip. Well, except for getting into Sioux Falls and then a thousand or so to Albuquerque.  440 miles today. Dropped Vivian at her house, had coffee, came to my hotel so I can get an early start tomorrow. About 10 hours to Val’s in Fort Collins. A little discouraged by so many miles yet to go…however a great trip…really…in spite of the photos below.

Wish I could have written more along the way but I have had companions for the whole time. Tonight is my first night alone since May 18th. For me this is quite major since I am at heart a hermit. But since I had perfect travel partners, first the 22-year-old and then the 81-year-old, I am a happy camper so to speak.

 Here’s my travel visual for the day—heading from Sioux Falls to Albuquerque—beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder!  

4 M's 2nd day on road home 039

Taking the Long Way Home: Day One—Rockies to the Great Plains


My OTHER favorite town...Victor, Montana...goodbye Victor...I really am sad to leave.

My OTHER favorite town…Victor, Montana…goodbye Victor…I really am sad to leave.

At or near the headwaters of my favorite river, the Missouri. I find it everywhere when I road trip.

At or near the headwaters of my favorite river, the Missouri. I find it everywhere when I road trip.

Now into the Great Plains of Eastern Montana.

Now into the Great Plains of Eastern Montana.

A Lonely Ghost Town.

A Lonely Ghost Town.

Out there on the Plains without its mate...a ragged salute to the old west.

Out there on the Plains without its mate…a ragged salute to the old west.

Must be reaching North Dakota!

Must be reaching North Dakota!

My Cowboy Cousins

My cousin Gary (first cousin once removed) and son Rowdy are real live cowboys. This afternoon cattle were trucked in from feed lots where they wintered, to summer grazing in the green fields of the Bitterroot Valley. Then they’ll be sold for free range meat. The contract for this herd is with a European distributor. Gary and Rowdy will pasture them until fall.

Being on the ranch to watch the action was one of the greatest experiences of the trip…cowboys, cattle, horses, dogs, corrals, mountains, blue sky. I LOVE MONTANA…more tomorrow….








%d bloggers like this: