I can’t figure out how you can be better in the afternoon and feel pretty good, considering, around dinner, then dissolve into krep by the end of the day. Unless it’s the pnuemonie! Well, no, I had a shot for that, so forget it. Of course it’s probably only 62% effective. But that’s the thing about colds. Ever since I got the pneumonia I expect every cold to turn into the worst horrible thing, and then I have to get a chest X-ray, and then they find a Walt Nodule somewhere in a deep lobe, and aw crap. Makes you sweat. Or is that the fever?

Well, if I have to go, I have to go. Live each day as if it was your last, and if that was the case today, what would the verdict be? Awesome. Went school-supply shopping with daughter. She likes to do it, and I understand the appeal: new everything, a fresh start, popular colors, perfect pencils. While she was filling the basket I found a display for the old Bic four-color retractable ballpoint, something I remember from childhood. It remade our expectations of what a pen could be. It had four colors. In order to dismiss the ballpoint you clicked on the color that had not been selected, and somehow this felt like insider know-how.

It was not the coolest pen ever - that award went to the Flair, which introduced fine-point markers to the world. The four-color Bic was a nerdy thing, but you knew in your heart that when someone needed a red pen, they’d turn to you, and you would extract it from your breast pocket with deft swift gesture and click the red without even looking.

No one ever asked for a red pen. To say nothing of the green one.

Anyway, we had fun. And then we went to IKEA, because she wants a small sofa in her room. Would we get the JABLAD? The HERKTY? The BROGNOS? Those are all made-up words, but you can’t help suspect the same about IKEA nomenclature. In the end we chose one, then I filled up a bag with meatballs, because of course when you go to a furniture store you have to buy meatballs and lingonberry jam. It was all delightful, with the usual running commentary and needling and arguments over taste. Dropped her off at a friend’s, went home, and slept for an hour and a half.

Hadn’t slept well the night before. Dreams. Not fever dreams; they were too coherent, and I didn’t wake up with soaked sheets. (Again, I remember the days and nights of pneumonee. Sleep was no release. Sleep was a sentence in an alternate world of turmoil and fantasy - lurid and ripe, garish and kaleidoscopic.) In the dream I had to go to Rochester, MN, but first I had to get off the ship. When I went down to the common room on the ship to show someone the new design for the cruise line’s public spaces, I was surprised to find them occupied by residents who knew me, and had made a commemorative T-shirt based on something that happened on the cruise. I was surfing, but wearing a suit with a yellow shirt and a yellow tie.

What bothered me was this: the gift was given with an almost aggressive sense of obligation, and no matter how much I thanked them, they somehow saw through my words and wrote me off. Ahh, stow it, you jumped-up little monkey.

Great T-shirt, though. Wish I’d kept it, but I woke up.

In the evening daughter and I went to the Airport Dog Park. Scout tried in vain to find a playmate, but no dog seemed to want to fight or chase. The planes roared away, to the utter unconcern of the dogs:

The shadows lengthened as we walked towards the swamp; the sun goes down almost an hour before it did at its peak last month. The benediction of 8 PM light now accompanies supper. Scout vanished in the woods, and I called him back. Daughter said it was okay: there was a fence beyond. She had the leash. I had only my voice and my doubts. We walked into the woods to find him, and if the day had ended there it would have been the best. But we found him, and he grinned, and ran away as far as he could in the direction from which he had come.

Dogs do that. Of course, you have to follow. That’s the fun. That’s the game. That’s the point.


Ah, the Pink Parklanbe. Wall to wall carpeting.


A two-door dandy with Lifeguard Design, to speak in the lingo of the day.



Sometimes you pick a location on Google Earth, land some place, and wonder if this is as good as it gets.

Well, let's find out. Population 3,000 or so. I suspect it once had more.


Three of our favorite recurring features: blinded windows, hideous weathered shingled overhangs, and angled storefronts from a mid-century renovation.

Wonder what it was once. It was something once, you know.


This looks like the building is in a straitjacket. Again, you wonder if everyone got a crick in their neck in the seventies that made it unlikely they'd look up, ever again.

Not a single renovation idea was wise. At least there's a helpful bucket if you want to throw up.

Now this is just bizarre.


Let's look closer.

It's as if it was flooded from the inside with liquid granite, and they sealed it up for many decade.s

The County Seat, and the Courthouse.

Buildings like these give a place gravity and purpose, and lend the small town an air of authority. The projection of civilized order into the lawless lands! The reminder than no man is above the law, although he might be above the ground for a minute or so, legs twitching, if he does something really stupid.

That rarest of 60s architectural styles: the Black Brick Building.

I really like this look. There was a building in this style in Minneapolis, but it's gone. You can still see traces of it at the airport; once the entire lower floor was done in black brick.


"I don't know. Bob took out some cash to go buy the rest of the stuff to finish the job but that was last Friday and he hasn't come back since.

I suspect the Google camera compressed SECURITY, but you never can tell.

Like a crematorium for good taste.


It looks as if it should puff up and flutter when startled.

Then there's this.

Not just a ghost ad, but a palimpsest. Perhaps a sign from the Depression, when they could only afford one comma and had to use it sparingly.

Another ghost - you'll be able to see the details a bit better in the embedded map below.

Lest you think it's all run down, there's this gem:

Says its website: "The Norton Theatre was opened in March of 1948 with quite a show lined out.

"They had the Blue Jay Orchestra play and the Mayor of the town spoke at the opening ceremony. They even had a giant search light out front to light the way."

Not that I imagine people had trouble finding it, but it must have added a glamorous touch to life on the prairie.

Shows daily - with two on Friday and Saturday!

Lots to see. Give it a look.



Not the most exciting downtown, but there are thrills galore in the Motel update, if you define "thrills" as "mild interest in a series of scanned images."

I do, but you suspected that.


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