one morning/first draft

In the malice of the sunrise, I've waited.  
You a sleep sweet creature,
   dropping dreams of liquid honey
     on my tired lips, 
       rolling that dull sweetness
       through my every morning.

Propped here now beside you,
on this raft of  promised clouds,
I push out into your dream stilled waters,
  and watch the subtle ripple.

The sun burns and waivers,
slips against its' brilliance and drops,
like a golden token, down,
  into shining night.

the accelerant heart (2013)

The ever accelerant thrust of the heart,
                the many glistening eyes.

The wait, the patience, the little waves around
                an absent ship and a glass horizon.

The something to peel into, the sap to slake with
                and ramble in the alleys.

The lacquer on the bones,
                the bruises,
                                the burning,
                                                the bite marks,
                                the love.

The rustle and the grin,
                the new burn and the new belly up.

The new glass horizon,
                the laugh and the saunter,
                                 the rain.

 

 

June Wheels Rolling

Having a beer at The Excelsior Brewing Company Taproom in the namesake town.  It's about 16 or 17 miles from downtown Minneapolis and today has turned out to be beautiful and bright on Lake Minnetonka.

I'm still working on getting everything dialed in on my new bike.  The first few rides had left me with some serious lower back pain, and I lowered my seat to keep my torso more stationery.  I think the higher position had me rocking my hips slightly and had caused the strain. 

Once that was smoothed out I started in on some longer rides, including my first 60+ miler of the summer.  After that I was getting a severe pain on the outside ridge of my right foot.  It was enough to keep me hobbling for more than a week.  I looked around online and the likely culprit is that my foot naturally rolls to the outside, and since the shoe is clipped in and the plane of the sole is unmovingly level, that rolling out was creating pressure and a constant rubbing as my foot tried to roll against the shoe's will.  Today I've moved the cleat as far inside  as possible to give the outside edge of the foot as much distance from the pedal as possible.   I also think I goof off and kick out my knees in weird postions, so I've been focusing on keeping my leg vertically straight today and so far so good!  We'll see tomorrow.

I'm sure that was riveting for you.

The real thing is that I'm getting myself ready for the most blessed week of year.  RAGBRAI.  There's physical and spiritual adjustments to make in my riding to accommodate the heavier bike, and I don't want them interrupting my waving green fields of two-lane euphoria in July.  

I also need to get these gams warmed up. The first 30 minutes today felt like pedaling with old chewed up gum that's lost its stretch and flavor.  Almost turned around, but eventually the blood started churning and the trail opened itself up to me.

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Copper Nights

Sitting stag at Muddy Waters.   The best looking can in the country sitting with me.  I remember my first time at that friend's cabin and drinking down their supply.  On the drive home to Iowa I found it again at a liquor store and stocked myself up.  That was probably five or six years ago at the end of a confusing and heavy road trip.  Never saw it in Iowa, but I run into it occasionally in Minneapolis and spend time with it when I do.  Stag and Schlitz, always doing something right to me.

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Crystal Night in the North

  It's a brisk Friday night in Minneapolis and I'm putting a long week to rest with a bottle of wine and assembling this website.  It stopped snowing two days ago, but the wind is whipping through downtown in big gusts picking up the snow and throwing it back into the air.  The top of the Target building is 700,00 LED lights projecting a sunshine blue swirling with white.  A quick drive through downtown and uptown an hour ago was like moving through a harbor full of shipwrecks.  Broken down cars, tangled up cars, and frozen pedestrians sprinting through traffic too dedicated to thoughts of the indoors to be bothered with walk signs.  The body freezes and the mind panics and off you go, all survival and full steam ahead.

  January of last year would have been about the time the thoughts of moving here started creeping in.  I knew the girl I was seeing had a job lined up in Minneapolis as soon she as graduated, and while we hadn't known each other long and I was far away in Colorado at the time, the truth always lingered that if this was to move forward we'd need to find a way to be physically together.  Me being unemployed and staying for short time with my parents made me the de facto relocator.

  Thoughts of Minneapolis are almost preceded by thoughts of winter.  They are synonymous in their way.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table looking out at the white-capped Rockies and thinking, "It would be like this... just flat."  But there would also be the museums, theatres, concerts, restaurants, bars, bookstores, and all those other pieces of urban life I was missing in the almost backwoods gravel roads surrounding Bailey.  So what if it snowed so much their football stadium collapsed?  They knew how to deal it.  I was pretty sure I remembered a friend that lived there would do 5ks and 10ks on cross-country skis.  Everyone talked about the downtown being woven together with warm walkways so you never, really, had to go outside.  And besides, could it really be that much colder than Iowa City, four hours South?  Especially after the winter of 2013/2014.  It didn't seem like there could be a cold I wasn't ready for.  And so it was decided I would return to Iowa for short stay, and after her graduation we would move together to the Great White North. 

  I learned one thing about be a Minnesotan as soon as I started telling people about the move.  Everyone, absolutely everyone, comments on how cold it will be.  Without fail.  It's enough to shake the confidence right out of you.  But I consider those people to be the naysayers.  Here now thought the first part of winter, it isn't so bad.  Maybe it started a little sooner than you would like, sure, and maybe it'll be snowing in June for all I know.  And if it does, fine anyway, the city looks good when she powders her face.

A Beginning

Welcome to 2015.  This site is being set up to capture the daily digressions, opinions, and views in the life of newly minted Minnesotan.  Every city and every landscape has something to tell us.  Every day is full of stories and events worth turning over.   Let's take some time to stroll through our thoughts and dig an inch deeper into wide wide world.

Join me in a saunter.

to Picasso, in black and white

 

is the white willing
to take cover in shadow
blush and blacken and gray
  throw itself under

and what does black think
about being all those holes
about the new empty
    to give shape only to white

who's happy when they muddle
    who's falling, and who's over it

white'll say, who says
I'm not a line
not a peeking thread
    and ask,
which of us is less

is it the flash of light or
    the long darkness

black can dance and white knows it but
black knows white can sing and maybe run a
    little further too

the star, is it happy to be in space
    or is space happy to be lit up like that

what seeks to be terrifying
what lays down at the end of your bed
    and what lays in it

black asks,
who wouldn't fill in the blanks and fall in love
who wouldn't pick you up in their arms
and run you squealing into midnight
    into the moon
        into anything

 

                                                                     Las Meninas, Picasso

                                                                     Las Meninas, Picasso

On your left.

 

  There is one week every year in Iowa during which you (me, us) may slip quietly out of society and into a cocoon of drinking and distance cycling only to reemerge as a beautiful booze-soaked, bronze-skinned, and sore-gooched butterfly.  It is the culmination of my base interests.  A complete suspension of the typical ways by which we measure civility, time, personal well-being, and personal hygiene.  It is necessarily better each year, like a refresher course on how to love yourself, like stepping wine drunk into a Monet haystack before the paint dries and getting a little blue on your elbow.  It is RAGBRAI.  And I miss it, miss it viciously and passionately.

  It starts on a Saturday.  Everyone quietly milling around the fifteen-passenger van, a few reuniting hugs, a few awkward introductions, feelers reaching out in search of a group dynamic.  The perfunctory pop and hiss of warm domestic beers being opened.  The trailer fills up with bicycles and backpacks and cardboard boxes of more and more beer.  The small talk is of new bikes, new bike trailers, carried over memories, and who wasn't able to make it.

  Those of us that could, we mighty eight in total, pile into the van with open cans of Leinenkugel's Light and High Life, looking like high school kids that just raided their fathers refrigerator.  Only the driver and the shotgun seats are bolted to the floor, with two bench seats facing each other and a lawn chair wobbling loosely in the windowless rear of the van.  We rattle and bob our way onto the highway and set out to the western half of our fair state only to saddle our bicycles and crank our way back east over the next seven days.

 

  Inevitably, the trip starts with a sense o .  The two girls are chatting between themselves.  We four in make attempts and getting to know one another with questions about work, college, biking habits, musical tastes and all those things that really tell you nothing about a person.  The metronome of our cracking beers quickens between the rustle of ice in the cooler.

  We reach Council Bluffs, make an accidental river crossing into Nebraska, and one-eighty out of that barren emptiness and find our way to the main campsite.  With somewhere between ten and fifteen thousand people pitching tents and parking RV's, the riders sprawl over fairgrounds, baseball parks, city squares, and the lawns of unassuming locals.  In an effort to keep a buffer of sanity between us and the crowd, we post our tents along a chainlink fence along the sprawling parking lot of a casino.  Romantic, no?

  We spend the evening cruising to a few bars where the regulars look pissed.  We lose some money in the slot machines in exchange for free cups of coffee. Except for Joe that is, who cleaned up a couple hundred dollars from the blackjack table but spent 24.99 on a questionable buffet, which helped to alleviate any resentment the rest of us might have felt.  Finished the night with a nightcap on the edge of the parking lot and drifted away into an excited slumber.

 

  Woke the next morning about three hours after most of the masses had left as is the Hedonista style, (that's our team name, given to us by de facto leader D. Earl) and rolled through downtown Council Bluffs.  The morning was warm, but not oppressively so, and the scene was relatively calm.  Everyone seems to sense the antics that will arise naturally throughout the week, and no one is eager to force the issue on the first day of riding.  Need to get your legs under you first.

  That ride wasn't especially memorable.  Corn and soy beans, a hill or two I'm sure, but truthfully I don't remember much but moving along ahead of the group with Joe, and one instance where we went neck and neck with a train that paralleled the route.  What's unique about RAGBRAI is that the organizers shut down the highways, leaving them open only to cyclists.  The occasional stray car finds it's way into the crowd, but for the most part the only traffic is of the two-wheeled variety (barring the occasional mustachioed man on a unicycle). 

  I took my turn driving the van on the second half the day because someone has to get it and the gear to the next town.  Once there I found us a spot on the lawn strip besides a small park already congested with sunburned middle-agers.  A few beers, a new front tire, and half a page of Kundera later and I was napping in the shade of the trailer.

  Most of the crew shows up just as the the last of my shade was shifting away from me as the sun swung around behind the trailer.  We had a chat, went our separate ways for dinner, and reconvened at a bar called The Hitching Post, where I later found out Megan saw Lance Armstrong earlier in the day.  After a few rounds of Budweiser and Jim Beam we spun quietly down the dark streets to the campsite.

Witching hour.  Moon waxing itself to full tomorrow and plenty bright enough tonight.  D. Earl and I take the oppurtunty to ride and set out of town past the fairgrounds and into the Iowa country night.  The air is cool and the lightning bugs flash in the ditches along the highway which eventually gives way to gravel and rolling hills.  We stop after a few miles to share a beer and sit beside a tree standing sentinel among the crops, the moon bright enough that the tree throws its shadow on the road.  We ride on past a farmhouse where two angry and supernaturally quick dogs burst from the front porch and chase us down in a flurry of stubby legs and threatening barks.  One gets ahead of me and my front wheel panics in the loose gravel for a split second and it seems impossible that I won't crash into the crazed mutt until it peels away at the last minute, content to yawp at us from a distance.  Flying away we joke about how the next house better not have any dogs bigger than those, and sure enough a few miles down the road another farm house rolls by accompanied by the deep bellow of some beast lost in the shadows, but he must've been tied up or too old to give chase.  We take a few more breaks to polish off the last of the beers we've brought and ride back into a camp an hour or two before the majority of bikers will be packing up their tents.

  Monday is the long day.  There is the option of doing an extra loop on the route to complete a century (a hundred mile ride), but the eighty-four miles from Harlan to Perry proves to be plenty of highway for one day.  It starts out smooth, most of us are feeling comfortable with our legs and with that we start to drink.  Replacing water bottles with open tall boys in coozies in our cages and shot-gunning the occasional can of warm beer passed out by unfamiliar faces looking to lighten their load.

  By the time we reach the midway town we're feeling the miles.  There's still about forty to cover and it's late in the afternoon.  Only four of us decide to push on.  Even on burnt-out legs, this is why we're here, and you just never know what might happen out there on the bike.  We run into Caitlin, a friend from Iowa City who's riding with a group that carries everything they'll need for the week on their bikes.  That includes tents, bike tools, clothes, spare parts, and toothbrushes.  A gritty and physically exhausting endeavor I'm sure.  Watching them labor up long hills on bikes laden with gear while I jaunt along on a dainty road bike burdened only by a beer or two, I really do respect the way they drag themselves up and over everything that comes along.

  We join forces with these noble burrows and take a short detour through Springbrook State Park to lounge out by a small lake.  On the way there, I get a little ahead of the group, and end up on the other side of the lake from where they've spread out.  I then get a little ahead of myself, thinking that my D+ swimming skills will allow me the shortcut of going straight across lake.  It was close. I really did almost make it.  But in the end I panicked and some twenty feet from the shore my breath and worn down legs failed me.  I gasped and nearly gurgled my situation to Caitlin who added bravery to her growing list of attributes by allowing me her shoulder so as not to drown.  Thanks Caitlin.

  Leaving the lake, we meet up with the Raccoon River Valley Trail, an out of use railbed converted to bike path,  outside the town of Yale where it runs behind the weathered old grain elevators.  It was the most scenic stretch of the week, though in fairness it was aided by a massive storm cell that was churning out otherworldly formations of ghosts and clouds.  The path also maintained a pleasant 3% or less grade as was required by the trains when the railbeds were built.  These rails to trails projects make for easy cruising and often times long gradual downhills were you can soar along for miles with hardly a spin of the pedals.

  We stop for a beer and long look at the sky.  The sun has started to drift behind the lowest layer of huge cumulo cotton and an ominous black hand of shadow is stretching out towards us against the back drop of a higher sheet of thin moisture.  Drew and I let the group ride on and watch the hand creep further and further over our heads, expanding exponentially as the sun makes its turn down the far side of the earth.  As nightfall hits the first drops start to break on the concrete and we make it to an old train depot just as the heavens open in gushes of water and crackling light.  Two hours later the storm passes, and the last leg into Perry is a storm of incandescent whips snapping all along our southern horizon echoed gently beneath by dusky fields of fireflies calming blinking out the rhythm of their lives.  We arrive dry and spiritually sated to eat a meal of chips and plastic-wrapped sandwiches in the parking lot of a gas station before setting up our tents in the yard of someone long asleep and put ourselves down until tomorrow.

  The rest of week rolled out in the customary blur of warm and cold beer, flat tires and loose spokes, new friends and new enemies, but I'll wrap myself up here as I've already overextended your attention and covered only the first few days.  I don't know the exact science behind the RAGBRAI elation and the inescapable hangover that follows.  Whether it's the dopamines and vitamin D or the week away from work coupled with an elevated BAC.  Whatever it is, it leaves you a little hollow inside, desperate to maintain the person that you were out there.  As D. Earl said, "One week a year, I'm at my best."

With love to my Hedonista's.


Not here for a long time, here for a good time.