Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It's hard to believe that we are just a few days away from Opening Day.

I had to shovel the driveway three times yesterday, just to keep it clear in the event I or my wife left the house. We didn't. Oh, and if I EVER see the guy that drives the snowplow, he's going to get that two feet of crap he left in my driveway in a veeerrry unpleasant anatomical place.

I'm not exactly sure what the sum total was for this blizzard, but I think I can safely say at least a foot of snow fell from Sunday evening until Monday night. It was pleasant to look at, but there is still a general feeling of dread that comes with the inevitable thaw.

All in all, it was a waste of a perfectly good day off. I had plans to go to the state research library, to do a little snooping into the life of a fellow named Grant Marsh.....but I wound up reading the latest from Nelson DeMille.

Other than that, I have nothing unusual to report.

Monday, March 30, 2009


High winds.

March came in like a lion, stayed a lion for awhile, changed into a DIFFERENT lion, and is going out like....another lion.



Friday, March 27, 2009

I can't lift my arms to flip off the snowplow guy....

The dynamite worked.

In case you haven't been following from your places of relative safety, the Missouri river that usually lives between its banks just about a mile from here was getting a lot of extra water from the snow melt and the rain and the blizzard, and the thaw caused a lovely ice jam just a little ways downriver, that was threatening to turn our river into a lake.

So, they blew it up.

Problem solved, for now, but there is another ice jam up river, and I think they're going to blow that one up, too. Or, perhaps, they already have.

In any event, to all of you who have asked, the Clemo family funny farm is fine. The only thing that hacked me off is the twelve tons of snow the plow left at the bottom of my driveway.

For those of you needing a geography lesson, Bismarck is in the Southwest part of the state. The real problems in ND these days are in Fargo, along the Red River. They're fighting like champs over there, and my thoughts and wishes are with them as they hope the river crests at 42 feet sometime tomorrow.

Today is sunny. Sky is blue. Temperature about 11 degrees.

Think I'll have another cup of coffee. The twelve tons of snow took a lot out of me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Island of calm in a river of chaos.

Just so you all know, we're fine.

The snow has drifted high, but is slowly being moved out of the way. The rivers around us are rising, but we are on high ground, so there is very little fear for our persons and possessions. It's not as cold as you would think.

There is one amusing anecdote, however. North of here, there are a couple of rivers that sound like a mob hit: The Knife goes into the Heart, and then they dump into the Missouri.

More later.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Embrace, and Move Forward.

The forecast does NOT look pretty here in the North.

Already, the rivers are beginning to rise, due in large part to the enormous amount of snow that fell from the sky during the winter that just doesn't seem to want to wane. We set some records this winter; quite frankly, it was the kind of winter I expected when I moved to this land, but everybody says it was pretty bad.

Kinda sucked, but what are you going to do about it?

But now, we have the snowmelt, and the rain. And now they're telling us that a new storm system could possibly drop six to twelve inches of snow on us before tomorrow morning.


I've been doing a lot of reading lately. A little more than usual. The brain rebels at stagnation, and I've been trying to placate it. Some interesting stuff. And keep in mind that I'm not current, but these days, I'm recommending THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY and THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME. Both are very interesting reads, and I would fully recommend them.

I've been reading about lots and lots of changes in people's lives.....

Change is good. It's evolution, really. And we have no real need to stay in one place forever. And even though evolution can be seen as something scary, in the long run.....well, I don't need to drive this point home.

Evolution comes from different sources.

Sometimes, it's the moment of mental clarity, when you see an old problem a new way.
Sometimes, it's a drive across a state line, to a new adventure.
Sometimes, it's opening the creative door, and seeing.....possibilities.

Sometimes, it feels like we are forced to "grow up." Nah. It's an imperative, sad to say, but through the evolutionary trace that we cut for ourselves through the wilderness, we take with us all those things we cherish, and through that we become who we were ever supposed to be.

I think the key is patience.

Have I preached that before?

Did I listen to the advice?

Well, it's just part of my own evolution.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I woke up this morning with the intense desire to have a cigarette.

For those of you keeping track, I'm currently in the midst of the second attempt at quitting smoking since June of last year. I had given up the butts at the beginning of June, but some unplanned-for stretch of stress came up in September, and I fell like Lucifer. I gave up again in the second week of November, and here we are.

I'm usually pretty good about maintaining a course of action once I decide upon it; I'm also fully aware of the idea that you can never...really...QUIT anything. You can simply stop, and work to keep stopped. But the intensity of the desire to have that cigarette was surprising.

Most of you know that I'm a recovering alcoholic, and since the time I decided that I had to either quit or die, and in the ensuing moments of failure, I have never really had the desire to drink that was not fueled by stress.

But alcohol is different (in my mind) than cigarettes. I realize that they are both health hazards when taken in the doses that I used once upon a time; but the chief difference (in my mind) is that I never did anything stupid after having too many cigarettes.

I'm not under undo stress just now....that will come later, as it always does. So, I don't really have an explanation for the craving, other than the human mind seems to object to deprivation of any kind. Perhaps it's just some leftover nic-desiring synapses that invaded the sub-basement of my mind, and that's all there was to it.

I'm not going to go out and buy a pack of nails.

I may need Oreos, though.

Monday, March 16, 2009

In an almost permanent state of Peeved.

It should come to no surprise to anyone that I have some pet peeves. I guess we all do, and they are so inherently personal (hence the term "pet") that they seem totally illogical to anybody else that they seem...well...silly (hence the term "peeve", which is quite a silly term to describe something that gets under your skin, which, by the way, is also a silly term to describe something that isn't in a David Cronenberg film and BOY, hasn't this parathetical explanation gone on long enough?)

Mine are fairly simple.

I am peeved by people who try to tell you how you feel. You know what I mean: Somebody punches you in the arm, causing you more that a little discomfort. You react in a way that seems strange to the person who struck you; they seem perplexed at your reaction, and they invariably say, "That didn't hurt."

Why yes. Yes it did.

I'm not fond of the rough-house, by the way; my initial reaction to pain of any kind is to snap, and the anger can look most unpleasant. I also feels quite unpleasant, and then I have to deal with both the physical pain AND the fact that I let my emotions get the better of me. And that just makes me more angry, and the anger turns inward, and we're off to the races, and you can see why it's a pet peeve of mine.

So. Try not to hit. I almost never deserve it.

I also have a pet peeve about what is considered debate in this day and age. I'm all for a good argument, make no mistake, and in my life the best arguments have always ended in a change of opinion, either by myself (which is common) or the other party (not quite as common, because for the most part, I engage in debate as a form of discovery; I seek to swell my knowledge and shrink my ignorance). But these days, it seems that debate is an all-or-nothing exchange.

Recently, I was reading a blog from an young friend of mine. She had written about the massive layoffs of teachers out in California, and she brought to light some interesting observations. Well, it's a blog. And she got some feedback, not all of it in support of her position.

She proceeded to refer to the feedback as "ignorant."
And with that, I ceased to be interested in the debate. And, anything else upon which she may have an opinion.
It doesn't serve to increase my knowledge by refering to opposition opinions as "ignorant."

But it's her blog, she can say what she wants on it, and I'll defend her right to do so.

Which leads me to my last peeve.

What, exactly, is privacy, and can you have it in public?
Is a woman talking about her gynecological exam with someone on her cell phone while I stand in line behind her waiting for the morning joe be an invasion of my privacy? Why am I forced to listen to the VERY private minutae of this woman's life, when all I want is a cup of coffee? I realize that she has a right to coffee, and cell phones, and to say whatever she wants in public, short of "FIRE!" in a crowed theatre, but what about my sensibilities? Am I forced to abandon my position in line because she can't keep her vagina to herself?

We have lost the sense of propriety in this civilization.
I am even more of a dinosaur than I thought before.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Memories in White

This is a stretch of highway between Marquette and Escanaba MI, on a very interesting February morning. In my youth, I had driven this road so often, I could navigate it in my sleep. And actually DID that once, as I recall.

As I was driving through once-familiar landscape, I was fascinated by the unfamiliarity of it. But, even though I was between one place and another, and so obviously alone, and seriously miles from anywhere resembling safe harbor....

I felt at home.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


We were bored at work the other day, and began to read the labels on some products left behind by those who have gone before.

I did mention we were bored.

Have you ever read the label on some products? They can be very funny.

The one that made us laugh and grimace simultaneously was the label on some Old Spice body spray....

"The fragrance of this body spray is intended to insure that you never go home alone."

Tongue in cheek, I admit, for a company who uses Bruce Campbell as it's spokesman.

But there was another...I believe it was a hand lotion from Norway....

"It all began with a Norwegian Fisherman...."

And I thought to myself, "How different the world would be if the Bible began with those very words...."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let us believe in God, and look to Science.

First of all, let me tell you straight out that I love my Father, and I would defend to the death his right to express his opinion, no matter how backward, ludicrous, absurd, asinine, and nineteenth century it would be.

That being said, I'm firmly convinced that my Father believes that the Republican party can make this country what it once was....and I fear that he means a frozen wasteland, covered with ice and devoid of any living creature.

It's only forty five or so days into it, my friends, and I swore back in January that I would attempt to avoid making comment until after the "First 100 Days,", but I have to tell you that I'm liking this fellow and his way of thinking.

It is very KarlRovian (that's a trademarked word, by the way, created by me and defined as "any dirty trick aimed at permanently befouling the integrity of one's opponent") to allow the belief that this disastrous economy was brought forth by the election of this man. Quite the opposite: It was brought on by a monomaniacal, Constitution-raping, arrogant, ill-informed, ill-equipped, TEXAS-educated, election-stealing horses hiney who sought to turn this country, with reasonable success, sad to say, into ROME.

And here's what we got. The few haves, the many have-nots, a government based upon a generational principle that would make our founding fathers soil themselves with outrage and embarrassment, a quickly expanding religious right that will not rest until we have all the freedoms allowed the Huguenots in France just before the massacre, a justice system that seems to take it's lead from the infonews programs, and bigotry at an all time high, thanks to the wonderful people in California, who claim liberalism but reflect conservatism, and if there's a carpool lane to hell, we're flying through traffic.

Simply put: I'm afraid that we haven't learned anything from McCarthyism. Or, the Middle Ages. Or, the dreams and nightmares of Empire. Or, the Crusades.

When some woman who gives birth to far too many children gets more space on a news program than, say...stem cell research.....perhaps we've moved into the darkness and decided that the darkness is better.

But in the darkness, there seems to be a little light; the light of intelligent decision-making; the light of well-thought out plans; the light that perhaps there is a little charity in the world.

I have a hope.
It's wrestling with despair.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Remembering the Dawn.

A few days short of the official day of Spring, and look outside....

This is the first of the two snow storms expected between now and Tuesday...but it's only supposed to drop a few inches of snow, so it's not like we didn't have our thaw....and it's supposed to be worse south of here, so bless the slack and off we go....

As of late, I've been thinking of one of my oldest friends, Dawn. And getting all misty-eyed.....and cursing myself for the failure to keep up those things that are, apparently, most dear.

A little background: I've known Dawn since before I can remember to remember, so if you know me at all, that's a looong time. She was the youngest of three; her older siblings were Laura and John, and if it's possible to love three people more as a kid who did not avail himself of sentimentality, then....

Get it? I loved them. Whenever the three of them, and my two brothers and I got together, it was merrie melody time.

And interesting footnote: Laura and John were twins, born late in the month of May. Dawn was born two years later, on the same day. Now, back to my regularly scheduled walk down the lane.

Their family moved around quite a lot, compared to mine, but they always had the cabin just up the river road from ours, and the summers were filled with endless days of sunshine, and endless nights of stars so dense you could read the paper from the light that they returned.

Laura had a crush on my older brother Paul. In fact, I'm pretty sure they had some kind of relationship, and it should have worked, but it didn't. Dawn had a crush on my younger brother Larry, but when I brought it up to him just a few weeks ago, he seemed totally oblivious to this fact, even though it was apparent to pretty much everybody else on the planet. Nobody had a crush on me, and that is just the story of this boy's life.

When the sun was shining, we were out on the river. When it occasionally rained, it was indoors with the various card games, or the ENDLESS games of Monopoly. On those rare occasions when the parents would allow, we invaded the town to play a few rounds of miniature golf.

Funny about my memories of that time; the sun always seemed to be shining, the temperature always seemed to be moderate, and the world was free of strife of any kind.

And then we got older.
Damn the luck.

John works in finance on the East Coast somewhere, but alas, I lost touch with him a few years ago. I miss his sarcasm, and his voice. I swear to GOD that he was the template for Owen Meany. At least, he was the voice I heard when I read that wonderful book. His quick wit was the thing I most admired; he could make me laugh.

Laura disappeared; some say into a religious cult, others say it was just a marriage to which her parents disapproved. They don't speak of her; and nobody asks. The Laura I remember was beautiful, intelligent, and headstrong. And yes, I had a crush on her; she was the first girl to ever make me cry.

Dawn is very sick these days, and I've tried to stay in touch over the past year, but my attempts have been met with either short platitudes or silence. I'm assuming that Dawn wishes to remember what we all were, rather than what we've become. I'm not generally one to sound my horn to heaven when I need a favor, and am DEFINITELY not known for bragging about it when I do.....but these days, I send out hopes. And wishes.

It is rare when I get back to that cabin in the middle of the mitten state. Most of the cabins have changed hands; some, more than once in the ensuing years. My father's cabin will remain in the family, though. I've made that clear. There will be at least one more generation after mine that enjoys those moments away from the demands of the citylife, even though I'm not the one to supply that next generation. When I DO get there, I take my morning walk up the river road, and I say good morning to the people who live there now, and I tell the stories of those Halcyon days to whomever wants to hear them, of a time when the place was filled with roving gangs of children, soaking up the best of what life had to offer them, with no thought of the future beyond what kind of game they were going to invent tomorrow.

Occasionally, they let me have a peek inside their dwellings, but I don't see what they've done with them.

I only see what was there before.

UPDATE 3/11/09:

Dawn passed yesterday, after a long battle with life. Of my friend, I can say that she has always been in my heart, and there she will remain, until my light goes out.
Thanks for the moments of our youth, kiddo, and I'll see ya when I get there.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tristed Dweams.

I have been under the weather lately. I thought it was a twenty four hour thing, but it seems to have signed a long term lease, and it comes and goes like Amy Winehouse in the news.

Not a very good analogy, but if you read the above, you'll realize I'M SICK, SO GET OFF MY ASS!

I'm pretty sure I had a weird dream last night. Something about running over the rooftops in London. I was younger, certainly. Then, I found myself in a very small flat, and the owner of the flat who seemed to have a lot of daughters, accused me of stealing both the sherry and his collection of iron pyrite. My penalty, apparently, was to take up with his oldest daughter, and move into the very small flat. I distinctly remember having to move around the flat by moving other pieces of furniture...kind of like a bizarre Rubik's Cube.

I'm hoping it's the cold medication that's causing the weirdness. I'm also hoping that it's the cold medication that's causing the increased lethargy. Seriously, I'm even more lethargic than normal. I'm sleeping until seven am.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to deal with the everyday monotony of Homeland Security.

I'll be in touch......

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And now, a word from our sponsor......

I was over on Facebook today, looking over everyones news of the day, boiled down into one....succinct....phrase....and trying to do the same for myself.

I found inspiration in a random selection from my Ipod....a little ditty from a musical called BARNUM.

And pretty soon, a couple of my friends were singing along.

For a brief moment, I remembered who I was.

A flash, really. Like a subliminal message.

Doo Bee Doo Bee Dooooooo.......

Monday, March 2, 2009

Apocalypse Whaaaaa?

I don't know kids, but it seems to me that there are a lot of people out there thinking that the end of the world is coming.

I don't think the world can actually end until we all memorize the words to REM's "The End Of The World As We Know It"...and that's going to take some time. I've got the "Leonard Bernstein" part down, but so far, everything else is a jumble.

I was watching MSNBC the other night, and somebody named Rachel Maddow was interviewing some guy who claimed that the election of Barack Obama and the move in this country toward socialism is a key sign that we are heading toward the Apocalypse.

To quote ANGEL: "There's always one of THOSE around the corner."

Now, I know some people are going to blame the recession and the coming depression on our new President (and he is new...the country still has that "New President" smell), as well as anything else that they can concoct....hell, some people are even calling him "Jimmy Carter, Jr.", which I think is funny, because it was a Republican President that seriously f****ed up the country in the first place for poor Mr. Carter, and then the Republican congress just kind of ran him over......but I digress.

But to blame the coming Endtimes upon him? Isn't that a little much? Especially since the Bible tells us of the ending of the world, but doesn't give us any clues on how to stop it....merely the rules regarding how to survive it long enough to be brought into heaven. So, it's gonna happen. A cardboard cutout of Larry the Cable Guy dressed in a Tutu and sporting an AK47 in one hand and a bottle of Jack in the other could ALSO be a signal for the Apocalypse. But he stills sells out in Bismarck.

And what's the deal with the big, bad socialism, anyway? When 20% of the population controls 80% of the wealth....well, does anybody remember Rome? And Rome, in some small way, was brought down by the rise of a cult of religious fanatics, following the teachings of a man named Joshua Ben-Joseph, called The Christ by some, who was, in fact, the FIRST SOCIALIST.

If you look at the teachings, you'll see what I mean. There's a reason the word "Charity" keeps coming up in the teachings of The Christ.

And yet, religions in this country are more than willing to decry this movement toward equality because?

Because it will affect...their....coffers.

And I'm pretty sure that another sign of the Apocalypse is money changers in the Cathedral. Pious men that make Tartuffe look like St. Michael.

We cannot stop the world from ending if the Gods that we believe in choose to drop the curtain on this rapidly aging vaudeville show. And we can damned sure agree that without an abandonment of self serving religions, and a pure faith , mankind will always fall back upon it's baser instincts, which is "lookin' out for number one."

If the Apocalypse arrives tomorrow, I'll see you when I see you.
If it doesn't...well.....I'll see you when I see you.

Tick Tock.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Another Memorial.

Good Day to you, Paul Harvey.

And now you'll find "The Rest of the Story."

Gentlemen, be seated.

Not long ago, a former co-worker turned beloved friend asked me a series of questions, for her own edification and enjoyment. It was only fair, because I ask her questions all the time. And one of those questions was this:

Have you ever been to a strip club?

Now, that's a good question to get right to the heart of the matter as to the objectification of women, isn't it?

My answer was, of course, no. There were actually plans a few days before my wedding to go out to a place called The Spearmint Rhino, but they didn't pan out.

At this point, I tried out a few jokes about The Wintergreen Giraffe, and the Peppermint Wombat, but they just didn't work. Moving on....

My beloved friend mentioned that she had never been a strip club either, although she had seen strippers in her life, and then she went into great detail. Basically, I skipped over this part.

She then went on to talk about the term "Gentleman's Club." And how the term didn't apply to most of the people that walked into places like the Peppermint Wombat. And she asked my opinion.

Okay, she didn't ASK my opinion, but it did get me thinking.

What, exactly, is a Gentleman in the 21st century?

Well, I think it's somebody that knows a little about etiquette, and how and when to use it; yes, we've gone past finger bowls and in most cases even salad forks, but a gentleman should know to put the napkin on your lap.

It's really not important in this age to be able to make a simple toast, but I think it's important not to chug and belch in polite company.

There are simple things, such as pulling out chairs, helping with coats, opening doors, etc., but these have gone the way of the dodo as well, largely because of the shift in gender assignments. We've come a long way since A DOLL'S HOUSE.

But it's more than that. The idea of the gentleman was created by a society that forced the genders to arm's length, whereas in today's society, we're nose to nose. The invisible line that separated men from women has slowly dissolved, and even though inequality still exists on several levels, and there still manages to be a kind of moral double standard between the sexes regarding sex, the need for that kind of...well....chivalry, has faded.

We never use the term "Polite Society" anymore, largely because it doesn't exist.


But it's not going to stop me. I'm an antique. I'm an old dog who doesn't think the new trick is all that keen.

I will continue to open doors.
I will continue to help with coats and chairs.
It will always be "Ladies First."
I will always attempt to curb my language, even if I fail miserably most times.

Because if I stopped, my Mother would just KILL me.