Sunday, November 29, 2009

U.S.A., Oregon, Lake Oswego

Last week, discovered that Linus Pauling is buried in Lake Oswego. Don't usually make pilgrimages to dead people, but since he's right here in Lake Oswego and it is Linus Pauling, we drove over to the cemetery. Searched the whole cemetery--naturally--until we found him right next to where we parked the Jeep.

The website for the Oswego Pioneer Cemetery declines to mention that Pauling was awarded two Nobel Prizes, one in chemistry and one for peace advocacy. The website does list every single American war veteran buried in the cemetery.

Pauling advocated against nuclear arms and against war in any form at a time when other Americans knew heart and soul that their ultimate purpose on earth was to mass-murder Russians. The headline in Life magazine reporting his 1962 Nobel Peace Prize declaimed: "A Weird Insult from Norway."

looking down the hill from Pauling's marker

Saturday, October 31, 2009

U.S.A., Oregon, Lake Oswego

I spent my final week in Ulaanbaatar undergoing a tax audit. It turned out all right in the end (the tax auditor seemed to go easier on me after I explained that I was not a businessman but a writer, and she asked me what my book was about and I answered "philosophy" and everyone in the room laughed), but I had to spend three days sitting in the tax department, running around the city gathering supporting documentation for events that took place three to four years ago, being suspected of hiding income "like a Mongolian," being threatened with many hundreds of dollars' worth of fines, and worrying that the situation would not be resolved before my outbound flight and that I would not be allowed to leave the country. I told this to my brother in North Dakota over the telephone, and he said, "That's why I like talking to you; you make my troubles seem so small: 'Gee, it was cold last night and I forgot to plug my truck in, so I had to crank it for ten minutes this morning before it would start. Oh well, at least I didn't have to go through a tax audit in Outer Mongolia.'"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

Thunderstorm blowing in tonight. The passion comes blowing with it, but nothing to expend it on. Should drive somewhere directionless, or write.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

Drove a tractor around in circles on Sunday, raking mowed hay into winrows in the hayfield.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

In the past two weeks, I've been at the Mississippi River in Minnesota and in the Rocky Mountains in Montana, and now I'm back in between. In North Dakota.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

U.S.A., Montana

Driving in Montana, just east of nowhere: hit the “scan” button on the radio, and the radio just scans and scans and scans.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

I've been through Regina. I might have gotten a speeding ticket in Regina.

Canada is mildly different from here, but at least it is different.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

Last weekend, my uncle J and I set a camper up on the hill at the ranch at which one can now enjoy a drink and listen to the coyotes and watch the sun set over all of North Dakota. It overlooks lots and lots of emptiness. The plains. River trees. Big sunsets.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

Worked cattle with Uncle J and Uncle David. Moved cattle to summer pasture.

Hauling a calf in the back of J's Chevrolet Blazer, the calf pissed. J said, "We'll just get a bucket of soapy water and scrub it out. Or do the usual: roll the windows down for the rest of the afternoon to let it dry out and then forget it forever."

Driving through the pasture, saw the windmill lying on its side. "Last spring, the wind blew the windmill over," J said.

The wind blew the windmill over.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

Saw the twilit sky to the west. Drove around a bit longer to remind myself of the turning of the planet.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

I took the train out of Fargo on Saturday night.

Fargo restarted around-the-clock sandbagging efforts on Sunday.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota, Fargo

Radigan Neuhalfen

U.S.A., North Dakota, Fargo

The train crossed over the Red River twice, at four a.m. -- once going east into Minnesota, and then again on the same bridge as it backed into the station in Fargo. On the bridge, it looked like the train was rolling right on the black water, which is at the top of the sandbagged dikes. Treetops stick out of the water; it was eerily beautiful. Everything at four o'clock a.m. is eerily beautiful.

Walking from the station downtown, pass the Fargo Linoleum Co., which has a sign on the glass front door: “Closed Friday and Saturday for Flooding.” Sandbags stacked about a foot high around the doors of a restaurant. Eighteen-wheeled trucks are running downtown; they look commercial. It is cold, and there is snowpack.

Friday, March 27, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

Driving from work at 4:30 this afternoon, heard Fargo city officials on the radio stating that the water level had significantly dropped, and that consequently sandbagging operations were going to halt at 6:00 p.m. today. Going to Fargo regardless; I already purchased the train ticket.

At the train station, the conductor asked where I was going as he took my ticket. Fargo. Well, he said, at least the station in Fargo is this side of the river. This train might not be running any further than Fargo tonight, he said, the water's only six inches from the tracks.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

I booked the Amtrak ticket, then joined the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Volunteer Network group on Facebook, which at that point had 4,716 members. I called the volunteer information line and said that I was going to volunteer, and she told me to go to the Fargo Dome. I said I'd be in Fargo on early Saturday morning, and she said, oh, call just before you go out to volunteer so that you can be sent to the highest priority location at that time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

And the blizzard just hit. The office closed at 11 a.m.; everything's closing. Snow day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

The American border guards shoot anyone who tries to escape from the Land of Freedom.

Friday, March 13, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

I have been to Canada on several memorable occasions. You know, it was funny, how as young kids in North Dakota, we thought of ourselves as living at the edge of the world, because the US map just ends at the border, and Canada, if anything, was that great unmapped space that you would have to drive through to get to Alaska.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

U.S.A., North Dakota

I got very drunk last night and because I had visions of trying to walk home and ending in a snowbank and frozen solid because it is well below zero degrees Fahrenheit every night still and drunks freeze to death commonly as they always have in North Dakota, I called my brother to pick me up at the enormous nondescript cluttered house where DIY punk-rock shows are put on in the basement and he said he'd be there in eight minutes and he was there in eight minutes.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

U.S.A., Montana

Stood on the lower level of the train car gazing out the windows on each side for fifteen minutes. Saw lots of deer. Dozens of deer, including two big groups of at least twenty deer each.

“BUSH” is scratched into one of the windows, the “S” replaced by a swastika.

U.S.A., Montana, Havre

Havre gets some wind. Every flag is whipping, and tattered at the end.

U.S.A., Montana

And now the strips of snow and the lines of fenceposts and the brown grass and the distant highline poles. I am not heartened by the sight of the empty wastes, but it is so familiar to me, as though long ago seared into my nerves.

U.S.A., Montana, Whitefish

Whitefish is a very picturesque little town. Even the “NO SKATEBOARDING” signs are tasteful and unobtrusive.

U.S.A., Rocky Mountains

Woke up to snow covering everything.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

U.S.A., Oregon, Lake Oswego

I'm going to Dakota tomorrow, on the Empire Builder, from Portland, through Spokane and all of Montana.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

U.S.A., Oregon, Portland

The roaring in my ears is memories of riding that motorcycle through the world and between the lanes of California cars at 24 years old, of the shotgun rips to the deaths of North Dakota geese at 14 years old, my ears damaged, my memory.

Monday, January 12, 2009

U.S.A., Oregon, Portland

It never gets dark in Portland, you never see the stars. The city lights are always reflecting back from the clouds.