Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Hike to a bakery. I’m not using a car this semester. Bakery not on bus route. My students promised a costume or two in exchange for treats.

Street signs of a spooky night ahead.

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Purchase morning buns. They're a classic.

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Oh dear. Rain on the hike back toward campus. My own costume (I’m dressed to look like a law student) is getting wet. Still, it is the way of weather on this day: unpredictable.

I enter the class with a minute to spare.

And how can I not smile?

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On days like this, I want to teach this torts class forever. For years and years. Just in this way. Where we eat morning buns and think about the impact of law on the life of another.

But, the class ends.

The skies clear.

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And the roses bloom. It’s a tricky time of the year.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

fall carpet

Get up early, work. Go to class, look out, see beautiful sky, ignore it. Go to second class. Look out, go out, take photo, move paper, eat, can hardly stay awake and it’s only 7:30.

It’s dangerous to take only one shot all day long.

I sit down to write a post, I download the one and only, I stare at it and I give it a nod. It’ll do. It speaks of fall and work and the changing tapestry of Bascom Mall. My day, through and through.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

finding quiet

Late afternoon. After a full day. Charged, you might say.

Drive south, toward Paoli. Not too far. Get out, walk.

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Then, just a little more south, up Observatory Hill Road. Such views. A reflective moment. Time, space, considered from many angles.

Beautiful up here. Really beautiful.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

hard to believe

…That it is the end of October.

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… that this barn hasn’t toppled with the wind.

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…that Ed, who is the owner of the barn, hasn’t toppled it so that it doesn’t topple on top of the sheep shed where he lives.

Meanwhile, at my favorite coffee shop, the old pumpkin laughs and laughs.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

winter market?

One reason to prefer France over, say, Wisconsin, is that the outdoor markets in France are a year-round thing. You could argue that weather is on their side and you’d be right. It’s brisk out here even now, in the last weeks of our farmers markets. It would be cruel to expect anyone to stand outside on an average December day.

And yet, it’s a real slap for us, the buyers when the farmers go back home for the winter. It’s a reminder that life changes significantly when daylight savings time begins. The months ahead are to be endured. A bike ride to work will turn into an ordeal. Clenched teeth, fast, fast pedaling. The walk home from Whole Foods? Brutal.

Sadly, today was the next to the last week of the Westside Community Market. Time to stock up! – the signs tell us. Stock up and close the door behind you. Six months of waiting is about to begin.

Still, it was a pretty day and it all looked as if it will never end. Sure, the foods are different now than they were at the peak of the season. Make room for the roots. Some greens, some vine veggies, but mainly, it’s all about roots. And more roots.

Here, use this white turnip in a salad. Raw. Delicious. Sweeter than a radish.
Turnips? Sweet and delicious? Okay, next week it’ll be the turnip.

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The vendors are hidden underneath caps and scarves that flutter like flags in gusty winds (reminder: this is it! See us now and see us next spring!), the same winds that bounce and knock at the flower pots.

How much?
$5 each.
Let me get some more cash…
No! Take them both for $5! We’re heading home.

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Ahhh, it was good to be out there, stocking up, as it were. At least for the week ahead. I can’t think beyond that. And please don’t remind me that there is a winter indoor market downtown. I go there, I shop, listlessly. It’s not the same.

For today, though, we have this. Revel in it. These are the last moments. The last days of outdoor vending.

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singing revisited

Law School is intense. Whatever else it is and is not, it definitely is a highwire thing.

But every now and then you can step down. And loosen your hair. And talk like you once talked in life, before becoming singularly concerned about sounding lawyerly.

And you can sing.

Last night, my last year’s small torts section had a reunion. Highlights? Well, I have to say I had never had fried mac and cheese before. But really, the highpoint was seeing them again. With hair down, so to speak. Filling me in on life since the first semester. And singing, at the Kid. [Yes, I admit it -- I'm in the first one. Looking very earnest. I have to think it's the lighting.]

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Friday, October 26, 2007

it doesn’t take much change the color of the sky. To go from piercing blue to something matte-like and gray. Skies that I associate more with the Baltic states in December than with chipper Madison in October.

From the roof of my building:

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Reading about people being sick (here and in a different setting, here) recalls the toughest times for me – when a kid was sick, or when I myself was, well, seriously ill. I don’t know when else I have felt so helplessly out of control as at those times. Not being keen on sending messages to the heavens (for one thing, they don’t respond and I don’t like unanswered messages), I am resigned at times of great vulnerability to imploring the medics to do their best. And luckily, for so many of us, they come through. So that our kids pull out of pickles and we ourselves continue to toddle along.

I’m thinking about all this today and about how easy it is for some, but not for others right now. Just in my own orbit of friends and beloved ones. Always there is someone who is coasting, flying without a care, and another who is having a tough spin through the day. And how good others can be at giving a boost to a sagging spirit.

Late this afternoon, I came across these guys – residents of my condo – playing a lively little tune. It made me smile. They’re strumming something I would associate with a fiddle and a barn. So, I’m passing on the image to any reader who needs a perky pick-me-up at the moment.

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Think music. My previous post suggests Greece. I'm thinking Zorba, taking the arm of Basil in a dance on the island of Crete. Come on, click on those words. For the hell of it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I have this bright, but quiet photo for today:

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Greece, you think?

No, it’s Madison: just by the Law School. It’s the only photo I shot today and I offer it without comment on my day. Instead, I want to mention something else.

I went to law school when my oldest daughter was just three weeks old. Halfway through, my youngest one was born. It was tough alright.

But I did not have cancer.

And (to my knowledge) I still do not have cancer.

Kim, whom I met some three of four years ago, does have cancer. And a bunch of kids. And she’s going to law school. And she keeps up a blog that is so honest, so energetic, so well written, that it is one of a handful I check each and every day.

She has been nominated for a scholarship based on the quality of her blog. She is one of a bunch.

Go ahead, check her blog – it’s been on my side bar for years. Then vote for her. Not because she could use a financial boost (even though she could well use a financial boost). Vote for her because she is just a damn good blogger.

Click here to check out her blog and to follow the link to the voting page. And give her your thumbs up. She’s number seven on the list.

Cool. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


All month long, the buildings just outside my condo have been crumbling. Rubble and twisted steel. (I face away from it all or else I’d go mad – it is extremely dusty out there.)

My walk home each day from the grocery store (yes, I am of the generation and place of origin where one goes to the grocery store every single day) becomes twice as long if I want to bypass this entire block of new development work.

And more often than not, I take the long way. Destruction is far more depressing to witness than construction. You can quote me on that.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I don’t fish. I eat meat, I eat fish, I eat, eat, eat. But I don’t want to engage in the act of capture.

This is quite common – a cowardly stance that allows others to do the dirty work for us. I’m not ashamed. I’d let others do a lot of dirty work for me had I the resources for it. Cleaning my house comes to mind.

Still, my fate is that I will sooner be the one cleaning rather than the one cleaned after.

But I will never enjoy catching fish.

And yet, I am mesmerized by others engaged in this activity (see previous post). And so it should come as no surprise that I should also be entranced by places that breed fish to fill lakes and streams so that the likes of you, you, and you can be out there bringing in the catch.

All this to say that I had a couple of hours between classes today and a very very fragile voice, ready to abandon me at a snap. So I needed a break.

I packed my books and headed for my favorite café (it’s outside of Madison, south of the city, just off of Fish Hatchery Road.; if you go there, you’ll recognize its superiority, I’m sure).

I called Ed for a ride and he obliged. He’s cool about being interrupted in the middle of a work day, especially when I tell him my vocal chords need mending.

But on the way to my (close to) Fish Hatchery Road café, he detoured to the (just off) Fish Hatchery Road fish hatchery.

Trout. Bred and raised here, minutes from the Capitol, from the Law School, from the epicenter of all that needs an epicenter in this state. Fish. Half a million of them will make it from here to places where you, the Wisconsin fishing person, will throw out a line. So that it can then be placed on a plate. My plate perhaps. Fresh and honest.

Beautiful, elegant trout.

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Life is so weird.

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Monday, October 22, 2007


I never post photos taken several days back. Unless there’s a reason to compare and contrast, I stick with whatever comes my way each day. At worst, you get nothing.

But, the day was busy, the week will be busy and I hate to waste a shot that’s barely 24 hours old. I took it on a ride past the lakes yesterday afternoon, at a spot where, not too long ago, I used to idle away minutes watching fishermen (and occasionally women).

Yesterday I watched them again and considered whether, at that moment, I too would rather be fishing.

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No, I guess not.

Today, on the other hand...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

feeling lost

If you really are not lost, if it is geographically impossible for you to be lost, might you still experience the shudder of feeling lost? Sure. And a cell phone in your hip pocket wont make a lick of difference.

So innocent, I thought. Ed, always on the lookout for interesting hikes, rides or paddles in our region, suggested a kayak trip down Token Creek.

A kayak trip with Ed always means getting the bikes and boats into the truck, leaving the bikes at the takeout point, then driving up to where we put in the boats. You get it, right? We go down the river or stream for several hours, then pull out, bike back to the starting point and bring the truck around for the boats.

I felt rather complacent about it all. I was heavily into kayaking back in Poland. Today we’re to take on wee little Token Creek, flowing into Cherokee Lake which is a sneeze away from Madison proper. What’s the big deal. The review said it’s twisty. I can twist.

We drop off our bikes. As we’re pulling away, Ed asks – did you note the markers to look for? When we’re paddling down the final stretch? I glance back and think – sure – a lamppost, a tree – easy.

We launch our boats. I slide into mine with a splash of water. Nice. I haven’t even left and I’m sitting in two inches of melted ice. Or so it feels.

But the creek is stunningly pretty. It’s narrow, but it’s fed by many springs and in the end, it is said to contribute more water to our Lake Mendota than the well recognized by Madisonians Yahara River.

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Still, it’s curvy alright.

The current feels rapid. Tame. A knot and a half, Ed says. Thst's his opinion.

We pass two men sawing off logs.
We cleared it to the rail bridge… beyond that, you’re on your own.

Let me explain, through photos, what it means to go down a creek where timbers have deliberately chosen to fall over the river, rather than, say, to the side of it (yes, death defying photos, taken so that you can feel like you’re on board without ever leaving your computer):

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And just as I think – we’re done! It’s wide and free of logs now…

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…we go around the bend and there’s a snag:

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Lean forward! Ed shouts.
You’re lower in your boat! I cannot.
You want to portage?

No I do not want to portage. I try to back paddle, to take it slowly, but I’m pushed right into the thicket again and again.

Two men, wet and resigned are paddling back up stream.
We give up… they say.

But with Ed, one doesn’t give up.
Famous shrug and on we paddle.

And indeed, we are rewarded. Just a handful of hours later, we float into the beautiful, wide, tree-free Yahara.

Only, we’re in the Cherokee marshes.

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Where the hell did we leave our bikes? Cherokee Lake, but...
What markers do you remember?
A lamppost and a tree…

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The wind picks up. We’re splashing a lot of water into the boats. The coast looks rural. I don’t remember rural. I remember a suburb with a lamppost. Did we miss a turn off somewhere? Neither of us studied the map with much care. I mean, if we keep on going, eventually we’ll wind up at the UW Memorial Union, but that’s an awful long trek and the sun is pretty low.

The feeling of being lost without really being lost. Images of possible outcomes: landing in darkness somewhere. Walking for miles along the coast in search of bikes. Asking strangers for a lift. Not eating dinner til after midnight.

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But the good thing about feeling lost and not being really lost is that eventually you find it: a strip of land, a row of houses, a lamppost (I exaggerate here; I never did spot the lamppost). Happiness is knowing that all you need to do is ignore the wind, paddle like crazy, and soon you’ll have the luxury of land.

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On our bikes now. Load the truck. And drive into town for dinner. Don’t forget about dinner (see previous post).