SUNDAY NIGHT: Ah, shoot: it’s late, I had too much coffee, and I have to get up early. An ordinary day around the house, and an ordinary enough evening, aside from Daughter packing to go to college, which happens in nine hours.

It’s hard to say it was a good summer, because, you know. A few times around the house today, walking up the stairs or going from room to room, I would just say:


I’m sure Daughter heard it. In fact I know she did because I said I was saying “well” for no reason while walking around the quiet house, just like my Dad did. Here’s the thing: I probably started doing it because he did, and now I don’t know if I do it to note the fact that he did it, or because it worked its way into one’s collection of tics and affectations.

Keeping a tradition alive, however meaningless.

Why did he say that?

Why do I say it now?

Her last night before Brazil we had Thai food, and that’s what she wanted this time. I drove to get Thai food from the same place, and when I got home I looked outside and saw that one of the ant traps was missing. Dang and a half, that was on me. They have some sweet stuff for bait, and I noticed Birch sniffing at them the day before, so I’d put them away until I could put them out during a guaranteed time when he wouldn’t be outside. I’m not crazy about killing ants, let alone entire colonies, but they’re ruining the patio, so screw ‘em. If they brought up dirt it would be one thing, but they’re bringing up sand, which means they’re undermining the bed on which the patio stones rest.

I saw the thing chewed up in the yard, put the Thai food on the table.

“Birch ate ant poison. Everyone eat and I’ll google it.”

Turns out it’s fine. But I remembered that the night before she went to Brazil, Birch ate a couple dozen mini peanut-butter cups with chocolate and foil and I had to take him to the emergency vet to get him pumped, and that was . . . I don’t know, it was perfect, somehow. The Crisis that said I’d still have a duty as a guy who could take care of a smaller, younger creature. Aside from my wife, obvs, but she is an adult and can make herself throw up, you know?

We finished Thai, and Wife and Daughter went to Target for one last run. More packing, more details, more questions, more exasperated answers, more IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL GUYS

And I suppose it isn’t. I do pity the people who are sending off a child, especially an only, to college. Compared to Brazil this is nothing.

Walk in the park.

Good summer, I said? Considering? Yes, and I think my dad would agree, because he loved Natalie and was proud of her too. I had a new tradition, or rather a new duty - picking up Daughter from work at the eatery by the bandstand on the northwest corner of the lake. Shooting along the parkway at sunset, listening to the properly chosen tune, driving home, talking about the shift, laughing about human foibles in their customer form. The other night she came back from some social engagement and for some reason we got into a discussion about women and comedy. We had a lot of fine conversations this summer. And, of course, there was London and Walbers, which made me feel like the luckiest man alive.

So there’s no sadness here. Oh, a little. I got used to it; I got used to having her down the hall, working away at her novel; even if you’re not talking it’s different when you know there’s someone down the hall. I got used to hearing the gate click shut at night when she came home after being out with friends. Birch, of course, will miss her horribly and not understand it at all. When she came back from Brazil it was the MOST AMAZING THING when he realized what was happening, and ever since he greets her return with joy and hugs and wags and nips. That’s the thing with this dog; I hear it all the time. “hello! Hello Birch! Good boy! Yes! Oh hugs! Yes! I love you too! OUCH NO”

Sums up the human experience, doesn’t it.

UPDATE MONDAY MORNING: Everything is cold and lonely and horrible





It’s 1961 in Winona, MN. It’s August, and you know what that means, kids - crushing your dreams of endless summer.

We’ve told the tale of Grants here before, how they screwed the pooch by giving credit to anyone and everyone.

Orlon was the chemical of the season:

S&H were the gold standard, I think; okay all right Gold Bond was the gold standard, but S&H had national cache, for reasons I can’t quite explain.


You can see he’s smart because he has big glasses! You can tell he’s a scholar because he has . . . a megaphone, I guess. That meant “school” in the sense of “leading cheers for the football team,” which the guy in glasses wouldn’t do because they’d all scoff at the egghead but he would win in the end because he knew a secret formula that let the players jump over the opposing line and they could make touchdowns like slam-dunks and he was the Hero!

I wonder if we could find the BIG canopy today. Or Thursday.

It . . . it doesn’t follow, logically.

Convert from what? Coal? Probably oil, if I had to guess.

Electricity was Penny Cheap with NSP, by the way.


She looks a bit sauced, and her right hand suggests that ball’s going straight to the left gutter:

The standings made the paper, in great detail.

Wow, Western Auto is carrying the True Tone brand?

Psst: that was the Western Auto house brand for its electronics. I’m particularly partial to the ’57 portable.

A group ad for all the guys who sold fuel oil. You’re not locked into a brand, no one has a monopoly like, oh, NSP, and you benefit from competition!

You can store the oil right on your property! Also, you’re at the mercy of someone else when it runs out, which is guaranteed to happen, because there isn’t a pipe to your house. The chances of that pipe breaking are one one-hundredth of the chances that the guy who fills your tank is late or forgets. Sorry, but it happened.

Uh - Gary Cooper?

Hitchcockian, but not in the Psycho-shock sense. If you’re thinking “hey, Robert Bloch wrote ‘Psycho,’” he wrote the novel, not the screenplay.

The State was demolished in 1999.


I don’t know what’s more peculiar - the fact that she’s wearing heels to the beach, or the guy’s severed head.

We’ll visit more of Winona this week, and you’ll see whether that depiction of the hotel is correct.



Strength, so your hand doesn’t go through it

I mean, that’s what they’re saying, right?

That'll do, and if it doesn't, I don't know what I can do about it now. See you around.




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