Twenty-Five Stars

We have a tradition at our home this time of year. On December First I put a star in our yard and another star in the yard north, south, east and west all around the house every day of the month until Christmas Eve. Then the twenty-fourth star goes up accompanied by the grandest star of all, hundreds of multi-colored lights on a wooden framework hoisted high into a tree in front of our home. All the other stars of various heights are staked into the ground, each star twinkling with clear bright lights. I use untold feet of wire and numerous junction boxes, all connected to one 30 amp circuit breaker in the garage. With one flip of a switch, I set our electric meter twirling merrily in anticipation of our monthly greeting from the power company. We leave the stars burning all night each and every night. If […]

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Family Tradition

My uncle Edwin Theodore Hansen, on my mother’s side was a general superintendent of heavy construction and chief of police. He liked to camp, because he was a general superintendent of heavy construction and chief of police. He had a cabin in the north woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and he often went there alone. You understand. My mother had another brother, my uncle Ted’s younger brother, who invited a couple friends to spend a weekend up at the cabin, because my other uncle had business interests and wanted to ingratiate himself to guys Ted didn’t know or care about, but in addition to being a general superintendent of heavy construction and chief of police, Ted was a heck of a nice guy so he said sure. You understand. The guys arrived early full of bluster and bravado and brought all their stuff into the cabin which included […]

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Champion

“I remember,” he said. “Yeah, I remember.” He leaned into the engine compartment of his old pickup. By old we’re talking decades, a 1985 model now well into the twenty first century. That’s old. Trouble started with the misfiring of a couple cylinders. He didn’t know how many. He didn’t know which ones, but he knew what to do. He’d have to pull them, check them, dress them and put them back clean and ready to fire, the spark plugs, all eight of them in an engine with half the emission controls disconnected. It didn’t matter in a state without vehicle emission inspection. He’d lived in California. That was a different story, but this wasn’t that story and it wasn’t California. It was November in a state with snow and ice early this year and the truck began misfiring because he pushed too hard on warm up and the after-market […]

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Memo

The darkness used to be ignorance. Now it’s technology. Every time I see a person walking down the street with head down and their eyes glued to a screen, I know they’re illiterate. ƒ

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Zeno’s Revenge

I had this professor back in college. I guess I grew up in a time when we realized not all professors were very bright. Maybe I grew up since. Anyway, this professor gave us an assignment to answer Zeno’s Paradox. Here’s how it goes. Zeno asked, “How long does it take an arrow to reach the target?” Old Zeno was a Greek. Philosophers love to answer their own questions. “Oh, I know,” said Zeno. “Stay with me now. The arrow can never get to the target, because before it gets to the target it must travel half way to the target. And before it gets half way to the target it must get one fourth the way to the target and before it gets one fourth the way to the target,” and so forth. “Therefore it can never reach the target.” Legend has it Zeno didn’t just answer his own […]

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A Dragon’s Tale

I met a dragon. It’s one of the dragons who live in our neighborhood. I heard him the other morning breathing out by the curb. I mistook the sound for a neighbor shoveling snow, you know, the rhythmic rasping a shovel makes on pavement. “How are you doing?” I asked. “Not bad,” he replied. “Yourself?” He looked roughly fifteen feet long from our tree to the corner, covered with green metallic scales and a tail that ended in a flared point like the ace of spades in a deck of cards. When he blinked a play of electricity flashed around his eyes like Christmas lights in the daytime. “Mind if I rest here?” he asked. “Go ahead,” I said. “I can see you’re draggin’.” He ignored the remark. Dragons get all kinds. “Want your walk cleared?” he asked. “I can handle it,” I said. I pantomimed shoveling snow. Like I […]

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SHAME

To the Pathetic Members of the Extraordinary Session of the Wisconsin Legislature There are desperate people in this State. People who can’t get out of bed in the morning because they’re so sick or afraid or depressed or impoverished or hooked on some filthy drug they took because they were in pain or sick or afraid or depressed or impoverished.   Now you come with your titles and your personal fortunes and your letterhead with matching envelopes at taxpayer expense and your benefits and the best medical insurance money can buy and your reserved parking spots and club memberships and you argue in the sacred halls and chambers built before any of you were born by people who spit more eloquently than you speak and you dare to bicker before the people because you don’t like the very rules you were elected and sworn to uphold.   You call each other […]

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God Loves Me

Today I went to a bookstore and bought a book. I did not intend to buy the book and the bookstore deals in used books so of course I could not buy a very new book, so I took particular delight in buying an old one. I bought a book printed in 1897. That kind of book store. The book is entitled A Year From A Reporter’s Note-Book by Richard Harding Davis, published by Harper & Brothers of New York and London in, like I said, 1897. In the book Davis writes of witnessing the Coronation of Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra and we all know how that turns out. And he writes of attending the Millennial Celebration at Budapest and we all know, but wait. The people of 1897 did not know. They had no idea nor did Richard Harding Davis and as I read I found myself swept […]

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B & B

The room didn’t get it. “Why,” he thought, “do they always make romance pink and frilly, more a mauve, that color between awful and bordello?” He brought his wife here for their twentieth anniversary. If he’d known the pictures were this accurate, he’d have made reservations somewhere else. The bed and breakfast had four poster beds, chintz curtains and tasseled tie backs and oh well, they booked two nights. “We can put you in the Shangri La room,” the woman said. What a woman, blousy and slightly smelling of spray perfume, probably Paris Nights though he had no way of knowing and would not ask. “I love it,” his wife said when they entered the room. “This is just right.” They had been married twenty years. They had their differences. Then it happened. He began to look around. The room had been decorated on a theme. A woman had gotten […]

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One More Excerpt

The answer does not come from the problem. The answer comes from God. The cabin on the frontier, the mansion on the hill, do not come from the inventiveness of man or woman. They come from the willingness of God that they should come at all. It is not us against the wilderness, it is us in agreement with the will of God. The way we find our way is the way God allows us to find. The wilderness journey is not a test of our endurance, it is a test of our faith. Endurance is the manifestation. The origin is our relationship with God. If we have one we live and we live illuminated. If we don’t we live anyway, but darkness prevails and without light we fail of direction, hope or knowledge of why we came into the mysterious design. The answer does not come from the problem. The […]

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