• Tag Archives Tom
  • Woolly Mammoths Tramp Through The Marsh

    Samain                                      Moon of the Winter Solstice

    Woollies tonight at the Marsh in Minnetonka.  We met in the moon room, a dining room with several tables overlooking, I imagine, the marsh, but it was dark.

    Tom Crane gave every one a sharp bladed pocket knife with a mammoth bone embedded in the handle.  Nice.

    Kate and I gave a half pint of honey to everyone and I passed out the small paintings I picked up in Ecuador.  It was a Christmassy sort of moment.  Scott gave Kate and me gift tags that Yin had found.  They have bee hives printed on them.

    We caught up on family matters and projects around the table.  Discussed the Edo Pop show at the MIA.

    A short meeting, but a good one.

  • All Ha’il

    Fall                                              Waxing Harvest Moon

    First communication back from Mark in Saudi Arabia.  He says he hasn’t set up his computer yet and that the school seems to have a good connection.  He mentions the school is in Ha’il*.  Guess that’s where he is now.  So far that’s all I know.

    Met with the Woolly’s last night at our once and forever location:  the Black Forest.  Tom Crane, Mark Odegard, Frank Broderick, Scott Simpson and Warren Wolfe showed up.  We went around the table, catching each other up on this and that.  Mark’s leaving.  Our cruise.  Tom and Roxann’s trip to Florida.  Mark O’s knee.  Warren’s upcoming article on Medicare.

    Scott and I talked about something called latency trading.  Here’s an article that explains some of it.  The part it doesn’t explain is the drive, now well established, to position large supercomputer networks as close as physically possible to stock exchanges around the world.  Why?  To capture the millisecond advantage in data transmission that results from close proximity to the data feed itself.  Each millisecond can mean tens of millions of dollars in trading advantage.  According to Scott, physical proximity can yield as much as a 3 millisecond advantage.  Do the math.

    On the drive home, the half Autumn moon hung in the night sky.  The moon roof was open and stars shone down through it.  The air was mild, with just that hint of fall.  Perfect.

    *Ha’il (Arabic: حائل‎ Ḥā’il), also spelled Hail, Ha’yel, or Hayil, is an oasis city in Nejd in northwestern Saudi Arabia. It is the capital of the Ha’il Province. The city has a population of 356,876 according to Ha’il Province.

    Ha’il is largely agricultural, with significant grain, date, and fruit production. A large percentage of the kingdom’s wheat production comes from Ha’il Province, where the area to the northeast, 60 km to 100 km away, consists of irrigated gardens. Traditionally Ha’il derived its wealth from being on the camel caravan route of the Hajj. Ha’il is well known by the generosity of its people in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world as it is the place where Hatim al-Tai lived.


  • Grasshopper, You Are About To Be A Grandfather

    Spring                                                                           Full Bee Hiving Moon

    Men.  Emotions surprise us, batter us into consciousness, wake us up.  Hello, grasshopper, you are about to be A GRANDFATHER. Huh?  How did that happen?  Of course, you know exactly how it happened, but it still reaches inside and turns on the amazement switch.

    Some old man, dimly known, shambles out of your past and you say, “Could that be me? That old fella?”

    “Nah, I’m too young,” you say.

    The event comes to pass and there you are with Ruth or Dave or Holly or Ava, a tiny pink wonder, yet, too, the most common event of all among us, a baby, a fledgling human, vulnerable, needy.  Somehow ours.  Somehow not ours.

    Shaken but perhaps not yet stirred a gong sounds somewhere, a genetic clang or a cultural bong, but whatever deep, resonant, compelling and there you are at the door reserved for Elders Only.  This door, this torii, guards the pathway to the future, a divided path on which your grandchild will walk as a living memory in one direction while you stride resolute toward our last great journey.

    Here’s the joy.  We can walk along this path a ways, maybe even a long ways, together.

    What’s the nature of this walk?  Who knows?  One grandparent, one grandchild.  A unique way, created by the two, reserved for them alone.  Another grandchild, another way.

    We spoke of these things tonight at Tom Crane’s house.  Mark, brother Mark, went along.  Warren, Charlie, Bill, Scott, Tom, Frank, Mark, Stefan were there.  We remembered our grandfather dying in front of us at four, of grandfather’s disappeared by distance and alcohol, of grandfather’s willing to play along with a silly joke, a grandfather who drank and drank and drank, having his last jug delivered the day after he died, of a grandfather with green flannel underwear that buttoned, puzzlingly, in the rear, who poured coffee into a cup, then a saucer and drank from the saucer, who made syrup from water and sugar, of grandfathers in the house, there to talk to, to go to, grandfathers abused by fathers.  We spoke of all these things nestled inside our own hopes, our joys, the wonders of our own journey through the torii of  generation.

    Men wonder about these things, dream about them, hope for them.  See themselves with a tiny hand in theirs, walking along, picking dragons and mermaids out of the clouds.  Whistling.

  • Tom’s Place

    Lughnasa                                                        Waxing Artemis Moon

    Back from Tom’s gracious home in Shorewood.  He served corn on the cob, salmon, an egg salad and spinach.  Delightful.  A pileated woodpecker ate from his feeder just as I came in.  What a gorgeous bird.  We ate on the deck of Tom’s unusual housing arrangement.  These are homes with a connecting wall, though quite large on the interior with a long deck high above a sloping yard filled with maple trees and ending at a small pond.  The entrance to the homes are modest affairs with little lawn and a walk-way cum patio after passing through a small gate.  They open up once inside and have the decks facing the back that have complete privacy while fairly close to each other.

    Tom, Ode, Scott, Bill, Frank, Warren and Charlie were there.  We sat outside on unseasonably cool August evening and discussed violence.  It was an interesting conversation.  I’m a little too tired right now to comment.  Perhaps tomorrow.

    Ode brought me copies of the label.  Very cool, copies on label paper.  Gotta test the size of them on a honey jar and their stickiness.

    I did hear this joke from Frank.

    Tarzan, swinging vine by vine, comes finally to the porch of his tree home.  He jumps down onto the porch and says, “Jane, I need a scotch.  No, Jane, make that a double.”  He pauses, “No, make that a triple.”  Jane comes in with his drink, “Honey, you know alcohol doesn’t solve anything.  What’s the matter.”  “Oh, Jane,” he says, “it’s a jungle out there.”

  • The Sublime Gift

    Beltane                                       Waning Planting Moon

    ” Life can’t bring you the sublime gift it has for you until you interrupt your pursuit of a mediocre gift.”

    Woolly brother Tom Crane sent this to me.  It took me back to my recent post about Siah Armajani and his personal commitment to staying within his skill set.  When I worked for the church in the now long ago past, I had a boss, Bob Lucas, a good man, who had several sayings he used a lot.  One of them was also similar in spirit, “Don’t major in the minors.”

    Stop focusing on the small things you might be able to do well to the exclusion of being challenged by the prajaparmita400serious, important matters.  Stop your pursuit of a mediocre gift.   The tendency to judge our worth by the accumulation of things–a he who dies with the best toys wins mentality–presses us to pursue money or status, power, with all of our gifts.  You may be lucky enough, as Kate is, to use your gifts in a pursuit that also makes decent money; on the other hand if  your work life and your heart life don’t match up, you risk spending your valuable work time and energy in pursuit of a mediocre gift, hiding the sublime one from view.

    This is not an affair without risk.  Twenty years ago I shifted from the ministry which had grown cramped and hypocritical for me to what I thought was my sublime gift, writing.  At least from the perspective of public recognition I have to say it has not manifested itself as my sublime gift.  Instead, it allowed me to push away from the confinement of Christian thought and faith.  A gift in itself for me.  The move away from the ministry also opened a space for what I hunch may be my sublime gift, an intense engagement with the world of plants and animals.

    This is the world of the yellow and black garden spider my mother and I watched out our kitchen window over 50+ years ago.  It is the world of flowers and vegetables, soil and trees, dogs and bees, the great wheel and the great work.  It is a world bounded not by political borders but connected through the movement of weather, the migration of the birds and the Monarch butterflies.  It is a world that appears here, on our property, as a particular instance of a global network, the interwoven, interlaced, interdependent web of life and its everyday contact with the its necessary partner, the inanimate.

    So, you see, the real message is stop pursuit of the mediocre gift.  After that, the sublime gift life has to offer may then begin to pursue you.

  • The Patio of the Schwarzwald

    Beltane                                        Waning Planting Moon

    The Woolly brethren gathered yet again at the Black Forest, sitting outside near the fountain with the metal sculpture, a twisted geometric of aluminum.  Warren, Frank just back from Ireland, Bill, Paul, Tom, Stefan and myself shared the stories and the shorthand that comes from having been together for so long.

    When Tom and Paul ordered Erdingers beer, we had a laugh about the restaurant with a rock, a very large rock, in a conspicuous location near the entrance.   We discovered this restaurant, this rock and Erdinger’s beer in Hot Springs, South Dakota during our pilgrimage to the Woolly Mammoth site there.  It seems the rock just wouldn’t give way to the folks building the restaurant, so they said the hell with it and built the hotel and restaurant around the rock, leaving about four feet or so of rock exposed through the floor.

    Paul has experienced, so far, positive results from his iron chelation and looks appreciably better.  Stefan recounted stories from his trip to Arizona to see Taylor and announced that he and Lonnie have purchased or in the process of purchasing land in Peru.  Frank had a good trip to Ireland, all but one day without rain, which is unusual.  Warren and I talked about his articles on the GAMC mess which has all but defunded health care for the poorest of the poor in Minnesota.

    What was it Humphrey said?  You can tell the quality of a society by how it deals with the most disadvantaged?

    This gathering of the clan keeps our friendships and our bonds alive.  It is important, even essential to our ongoing health as a group.

  • Woollys, Grandkids

    Summer                     Waxing Summer Moon

    Tomorrow we get the full on Summer Moon.  We’ll have a warm, but not hot night with a brilliant satellite.  No good for astronomy, but great for moon viewing, a favorite activity among the Japanese.

    Woolly’s met tonight at the Black Forest.  Mark, Stefan, Bill, Tom, Frank and myself showed up.  Mark got the dam site job.  He reports next Monday morning to Lock and Dam #1, the first official lock on the Mississippi River.  The job runs until the river ices over and the barges cannot come.  Stefan’s been giving himself fits over his children.  A potential liability of parenthood.

    I showed off the Kindle.  I’m a fan.

    Jon, Jen, Ruth and Gabe are back from a weekend in Chicago.  There was a Bandel family reunion with rooms at the Doubletree and visits to Grandma and Grandpa, Ruth and Gabe’s great-grandparents.  They are back here for four days, then they strike out for home in Denver.

  • A Locked Car Mystery

    Imbolc    Waning Wild Moon

    The Woolly’s met tonight at the Jasmine across from the Black Forest.  Food is noveau Vietnamese, French accents.  I had spring rolls and mangoes on sticky rice.  Just right.

    Got to give everyone a head’s up on labyrinthitis.  Tom has a friend who visited him yesterday and may be dead from multiple myeloma in two months.  Whoa.  Paul and Sarah have purged their home, shined up and have neared the day of the first open house.  Changes.

    Stefan locked the keys in his car while x-skiing at Hyland Park.  He asked a cop if he could help.  The cop said sure and gave Stefan a ride down.  When he got out to work on Stefan’s car, he inadvertently locked his keys inside as well as Stefan who was in the back seat.  In a police car.  A locksmith had to be called for both cars.

    The trip in is always worth it, a chance to connect and renew the connection.  Got several happy birthdays.  Guys just don’t remember birthdays well.