Didn’t go to the office, because I was waiting for the oven. This ruins everything! It was Wednesday, and that means Lobby Pizza! I’m worse than a dog when it comes to routines. But routines give the day and the week a sense of order. They’re mileposts. The tombs along the Appian Way.

Speaking of which, that was an interesting decision, Roman folks. Put your big tombs up along the superhighway so everyone could pay tribune on their way past. Imagine if the interstate was lined with crypts and mausoleums and enormous crosses, a necropolis interspersed with billboards for Dairy Queen and McDonald’s.

Anyway, it’s now an hour and 17 minutes past the delivery window, and that’s to be expected, I guess. Problems with the previous installation, I imagine. Well. My install requires carpentry.

But a call would be nice. Wait a minute! Do I have my phone set on silencing unknown calls? I do! I got one marked spam! Could that be them? What if they called and got no answer and decided “well, despite our text communication yesterday and assurances that he’d be there, I guess going to voicemail indicates it’s all off. Check that one off and move along to the next.”

I called the number back - it was local - and a voice said “California.”

I was tempted to respond “What is the name of Hopalong’s sidekick?” as if this was the Old Time Radio Jeopardy! Category. I waited.

“Press one if you are in California. Press two if you are not in California.”

This did not seem to be apt for a local appliance delivery company, unless they were being managed from the West Coast. It’s possible. But no. Okay, on to the next irritation: trying to get some answers from Daughter via text. For some reason our text conversation has dried up, and it’s immensely depressing. What, you say? Shouldn’t you take that up with her instead of putting it here? Hey, if I want to keep something from my family, I put it on my blog. They’d never know.

It’s the usual college busyness, I know; she has a million things going on, or so I gather, and one of which is a movie she wrote and will direct this weekend. But I have some rather important questions about holiday logistics and such that are just hanging out there, and when I text I feel now as if I’m violating a do-not-contact order. Sometimes you just want to say hello. And sometimes just a How Are You out of the blue can make you walk on air for a day, right?

If kids knew how little they actually had to do, they’d be stunned, and all parents would be malleable as Twizzlers in a sauna.

At least the lawn guys came today to start the fall clean-up. What, can’t rake your own lawn, loser? Okay, hold on . . .

Just counted to be sure. I have 27 trees. Two of my neighbors’ trees hang over the fence and produce an enormous amount of fallen leafage as well. So yeah. Problem is, it’s windy, and their attempts to corral the leaves was rather comical. Come back here! Stay there! Stay! So I think they’ll be back, perhaps with nets.

Now one hour and thirty-eight minutes. Not even a courtesy text.

UPDATE: Two hours and 15 minutes. Phone rings! Ah, it’s just the financial-investment office about some forms . . . that daughter has not signed. So grrr all around for that.

1:23 PM, and this day feels interminable. Aside from some column work, (which I will finish tonight, as usual) the only thing I did was write some copy for the 2022 Motel Postcard additions. To my horror I discovered that I had not, in fact, laid it out as I thought, and what’s more, I didn’t have the usual amount of cards - 99 or so is what it takes. Covid-19 killed the postcard show (the name of the first video played on MTV, by the way) so I couldn’t replenish. Now I have a hundred new additions already scanned, but they’re for 2023. I will have to cannibalize them. Or, of course, just NOT DO IT AT ALL.

Hah, kidding. The world looks to me to put up 99 annotated motel postcards every year, eventually arranged by state. What, you’re going to leave that up to some Flickr pool? Bah.

2:03 Phone rings! A different financial advisor with different paperwork.

2:50 Nuthin’ from nobody

Well, there’s only one way to force them to show up.

Take a nap.

UPDATE: Went to Best Buy to see what was going on.

Stove hasn't arrived.

Expected delivery: Jan. 13.


Charles Marville: "Chalet du square des Arts et Métiers, 3ème arrondissement, Paris."

"Demandez du plaisi" = "ask for pleasure," according to Google Translate.


Charles Marville, the pseudonym of Charles François Bossu (Paris 17 July 1813 – 1 June 1879 Paris), was a French photographer, who mainly photographed architecture, landscapes and the urban environment. He is most well known for taking pictures of ancient Parisian quarters before they were destroyed and rebuilt under "Haussmannization", Baron Haussmann's new plan for modernization of Paris. In 1862, he was named official photographer of Paris.

The area above looks pretty Haussmannized.

  The little details of daily life we'd never know if he hadn't stopped and set up the tripod.

A well-composed flaneur, a man of taste and mystery.

Or, just some guy.










I’m surprised I haven’t been to Mandan in this feature. It was one of the second-tier NoDak towns when I was growing up (Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismark, and Minot being the top tier.)

“We’d like a building that says ‘fire station’ but is not, in fact, a fire station.”

Did the entire state settle by a foot and a half? Or just a few inches?

Remember I spoke a while back about the vogue for painted store windows?

It’s not always a good marker for a building’s abandonment; tenants could have used it for a long time beyond the original painting.






Irwin, to be exact; he ran a grocery here with his son.

  Another name block, next door. Maybe the I was superfluous this time.


You know, sometimes painting the bricks works really well.


1906, with an addition in 1910. Historical district docs note that the Richardsonian arches were removed in 1926 and replaced with “Squared classical openings,” although it looks like it had a hint of Egyptian revival.


The ghastliness of this ground floor window renovation can not be understated.

It was a late 60s / early 70s thing, when all concepts of taste were bucket-brigaded out the window.

BANK. Please use our tiny basement windows for after-hour entry and robbery.



Well, someone had a vision

Looks like a bucktooth moron rodent.

OUMB, with the spray-on facade.


Always a good sign when an old downtown gets new housing.

They may not be architecturally great, but it’s not as bad as the featureless buildings of the 50s, or the overly-mansarded flats of the 60s.

In case anyone decries modern apartments as boring and cookie-cutter:

Not entirely featureless, and better for the effort.

Wouldn’t be a medium-sized small town without an OUMB from the slit-window era.


The spare civic style needed firm, sure hands to keep it from being flabby and boring.

By which I mean this is flabby and boring.

t’s something you’d see in a 1954 Life magazine about the new look of the old small towns.

It's fresh and stark and interesting for a while, and then it looks as if everyone gave up trying.

“Bob, we can get the paint cheaper if we go in together and buy in bulk. With me?”

Interesting ground floor - the one on the left does not fit the building at all, but that style never did. Thin mid-century modern stone applied to the old buildings never cohered. The other building has awnings that indicate the storefronts disregard the original structure, and certainly clash with the upper floor.

It could all use a good sandblasting.


A handsome old fellow from the prosperous days. Looks like an office building, but it was a hotel, built in 1917.

A handsome old fellow from the prosperous days. Looks like an office building, but it was a hotel, built in 1917.

And today?

Our favorite Mexican Crime-Fighting Do-Gooder, Senior Housing!

A canvas this big, and they chose only to sign it.

I love this facade, but I think they could've done more. Then I think: no, it's right as it is. And then, no, they could've done more. Then: no, it's right. Repeat.  No good answer.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Mandan, as we take our leave.


Yes, that made it to the Google Street View section. It's in there somewhere, or hasn't been uploaded yet.

  Now hit the road! Motels await.





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