Standing at the kitchen table, bothered by the dog. He wants food. He always wants food. He does not bark; he places a paw on my leg and looks beseechingly. This is his main mode of communication, and it is irresistibly cute. When you greet him the morning he puts up a paw in hello. When he meets a stranger he holds up a paw to be shook. But when he’s been fed several times and it’s late at night someone around here must be firm, and I am the only member of the pack that can get the message across when he gets spun up.

Two nights ago. 1 AM. I am finishing watching TV - still chewing through the first season of “The Blacklist,” and enjoying it mightily; enough good plot threads to excuse the cliches, and Spader’s air of amused erudition, faint exasperation and slightly rueful self-knowledge makes for a great character, and the more he inhabits it the less likely you can imagine any other actor playing the part.

Anyway: dog wakes, gets up, goes to where the food is. Thump thump thump goes the tail. I gave in, because he is a growing pup, and something told me it would be yips and whines for half an hour if I didn’t. After eating he went outside and sat in the gazebo until the show was done, then came in, trotted upstairs and yipped at all the closed bedroom doors, for some reason. Took him back downstairs. He went to the drawer where the food is and thumped his tail. Paw on the leg. C’mon. You did it before. I don’t have much short-term memory but I’m pretty sure you did. C’mon.

The only way to get the message across was to grasp the scruff of his neck and lead him to his bed with a certain brusque pace that said “you are in ill favor with Alpha.” Did the trick.

I turned off the fireplace, noting that there still seemed to be some fire going on after the switch was off. Thought: I prefer my fireplaces to have one of two states, either on or off, and not in-between. Even though it’s sealed I could imagine something leaking, and either carbon monoxide slays us all in slumber of kaboom goes the manse. Clicked the switch again; it seemed off. Well, that left out kaboom as an option. Went upstairs to go to bed, annoyed. Laid down. Closed my eyes.

Chirp! chirp!

Oh for the love of Crom. A smoke alarm. There are six of them upstairs. I really don’t want to do this now, standing here, listening, hearing nothing, moving down the hall, then hearing the chirp! up the hall where I was, and so on. But the second time it sounded I nailed the location: daughter’s bathroom.

Carbon monoxide detector.

Well, just unplug it, change the batteries tomorrow . . . except Fireplace. It wasn’t going off; it was just telling me the batteries were low. Go downstairs. Find batteries. Replace batteries. Reinstall detector. Go to bed, thinking: well, if we all die from CO poisoning I’m sure I’ll get an earful about it over breakfast.

Before I took Scout on his walk I realized I’d lost my clip-on sunglasses. Went for the back-ups. Always have a back-up pair, because I buy one before a cruise so I don’t find myself in some sunny locale squinting against the blaring nuclear furnace in the sky. These were different than the usual: yellow-orange. They gave the fall world the most amazingly vivid hues, as if your eyes had been upgraded with Instagram filters that mashed HDR and high saturation. I am able to show you what I saw, because I shot a picture with the sunglasses held over the lens.

Lovely! Then, by the waterpower, the most Octoberesque shot I’ve ever taken:

Now, if you’ll forgive me, I have a column to write. Every day for the next three weeks is a deadline; it’s really quite something. But it’s good to have work, and it’s a good thing I can type a lot even if I don’t have anything to say.

As I expect I just proved.

By the way: I am writing this unmolested now because in the middle of typing the first paragraph, I leaned down and said NO and glared at the dog. He got up and went to his bed and that was that.

Our continuing series concerning the Pumpkinfication of everything takes a detour, somewhat, inasmuch as no pumpkins are involved.

Since so much of the S'mores Experience depends on texture and temperature, I can't imagine these really capture the essence of the confection, but I'll say this for it: the striated hues are roughly analogous, and you can't always say that about candy.





There’s often an intersection where a fellow can think he’s in the big town. Not the real big towns, but something bigger than the burg with one light that just hangs over the main drag and blinks yellow. A place like this, a fellow could get into trouble.

On the right, the Masonic Temple; here's the front, cruelly beshingled.

Across the street, the “Dakota Plaza.”

Hotel? Office building? Was that an additional floor built later, with little regard for how it would look? Because it looks like an additional floor built later. Well, let’s google . . . .

And I can’t find anything. How can this be? It’s an apartment building now, but before? No website. No info. In fact, the online resources for Huron history seem remarkably scant. Usually there are a few locals interested in putting old things on line; if not, the library handles it. Nothing. It’s as if the town only exists as a series of computer-generated images on Google Street View - which of course isn’t true. I’ve been there.

Or do I just think I was there?

This might help:

Ah: the 1913 phone book has a “Maag’s Grocery,” and “Newton & Maag” show up in an early account of Presbyterian donations, so if they’re building a fake town for some nefarious purposes they filled in some backstory in case anyone googles the names on the building. Still doesn’t tell us much, though.

Except to remind you that the men who built these buildings must have thought they'd occupy them forever.


A painted painter painting over the paint of an old sign.

Oh, this poor thing:

There was a time when civic leaders thought they’d revitalize downtowns with murals, and while it’s better than peeling paint, blacking out the windows and putting up pictures that fade do not signify “thriving commercial district,” particularly when the store below is vacant. No one ever says “let’s go see those murals again.” “You mean the ones we have to crane our necks to see?” “Them’s the ones.”


Clueless modernization. It’s architectural vivisection. It never works! Never! Except when it does:

I like the way they cut out holes for the windows; the facade behind it seems delighted by the way it all turned out, considering.

Below: “Well, I got a great deal on a sign for the bar, Bob. It’s pretty standard as signs go, but maybe it’ll help us come with a name for the place, because I’m stumped. Anything occur to you?"

This one seems modeled on an accordian, somehow:

History on the web, as far as I can tell: zip.

Wish I could wander down to the newspaper and see what they have in the morgue, but I have the feeling they don’t have a lot of space for back numbers:

Oh dear. A case of interior renovation that apparently mandated some regrettable exterior manifestations:

R.C. Gibbs was a local businessman involved, among other things, in a company that incorporated to build an electric railway between Huron and Aberdeen, and he had a hand in Huron’s streetcar, as well. A 1909 business survey listed his store’s purpose as “Confections and Cigars,” so the fellow was busy. I can find nothing about their streetcars, and nothing about the proposed electric railway.

Below: Dammit, Bob, Humphrey’s is taking all our bar's business

Another mural downtown; this one shows the good ol' days of watching Dad go to the bathroom.

On the left: one sad citizen. Crappy overhaul over the first story. Boards over the window, except for the third one, which died and left a ghost of itself.

The neighbor didn’t fare much better, and reconstructing it to its original appearance would be hopeless. F. Cabe was the name, but there’s nothing on the internet.

Finally: Was there anything left of the ground floor after they’d put in the show windows?

The busted tile! The blank expanse! A reminder that the malls and the big boxes may have been the fatal wound for many small towns, but most of the aesthetic wounds were self-inflicted.

Stroll around and find some more murals on the second floor windows. Hint: swing left and look for the pawn shop. And give my regards to Huron.

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See you around the usual places. The Fargo update will not be new to anyone who clicked last week, since I put up the entire 1st Avenue site by mistake.

Thank you for stopping by.


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