Archive for September, 2016

Road Trip: Day 66-67

Posted: September 30, 2016 by timjollymore in Uncategorized

Dateline: “Big Sur” Duluth, Mn

Yes, I’ve been at Big Sur twice in as many days.

Here’s the story:  In 2002 my ex and I sold the family home in Oakland in our parting of the ways. For about two years – despite my teaching and traveling which kept me occupied – I was feeling owly and out of sorts. Blame it on divorce, which is always hard. No, this was “real estate deprivation,” pure and simple. By 2005, I realized that for the first time in 38 years, I owned no property. I felt loose, at sea, unmoored, and slightly unhinged. Solution? Buy something.

But even then California real estate, even condominiums, were out of reasonable reach for a public school teacher. I watched the condos next door soar from $395,000, to $475,00, to $685,000 in just one year. Out of my league. So, Minnesota beckoned, and Big Sur came into my life.


I’ve never lived there, as I had sometime intended, but every so often, less so in the past few years, I stop in to, as I say, “pretend to work” on the property. This year I trimmed the hedges:

(roll over pictures to see captions)

Today I leave for Minneapolis and great adventures.

Road Trip: Days 63-65

Posted: September 28, 2016 by timjollymore in Uncategorized

Dateline: from Hancock, MI to Duluth, MN

Just to let you know, on my visit to Houghton, MI, I visited bookstores, public libraries, and bakeries! At all other than the bakeries, I left books for circulation and reading. Before, during, and after the trip, IT RAINED. Say no more.

I’m parked in Duluth until Friday. d-5





Wednesday, we had two hours of morning sunshine. This is how Duluth looked during that glorious light.

Some color on Observation Hill, one of my former residences in Duluth, and the St. Louis County Courthouse through fall branches.

Towers in Duluth: Central High School, twice, and a Third Street church. Many more!

d-6 I liked the shadow and, I suppose, the phone booth inside the store. At least we had enough sun to cast a shadow. That I enjoyed.

In the next few days (“as we go forward” as they say now) Road Trip moves  down south  to Ingebretsens’ in Minneapolis and a visit WITH CAROL to Stillwater, MN.  See us there!

Road Trip: Day 62

Posted: September 25, 2016 by timjollymore in Uncategorized

Dateline: Houghton, Michigan

It’s true. I leave out a great deal: the driving, the rain, the weariness, the worry and wondering. But who wants to hear it, anyway. Yes, anyway? The payoff on the work of traveling (constantly) is a kaleidoscopic view of life in a wonderful variety. Did I mention it has been weeks since I’ve seen a mosquito worth a swat?

So, yes, it took over four hours to get to Houghton (I’m attending Festival Ruska at Finlandia University tomorrow to hear Mark Munger, a Duluth writer, talk and read from his work) but the post-industrial beauty of the place is uplifting. hh-2People here–despite the evaporation of all the mining jobs years ago–make their homes among opera houses, major public buildings, and a host of engineering feats worthy of much larger towns (a great bridge and a major canal inexplicably called “the portage”). See for yourself how water looks here at sunset, and how grand the buildings look, and how folks have saved even the painted signs on the backs of buildings.  BUILDINGS:


and breakfast tomorrow morning at the Finnish cafe:


Road Trip: Day 61

Posted: September 25, 2016 by timjollymore in Uncategorized

Dateline: Menomonee, Michigan by day and by night

When I wrote Observation Hill, a novel of class and murder, I immersed myself in Duluth. Yes I’d been there that summer and many times before, but I delved into archives, memories, books, and articles from the city’s previous hundred years. There had been much that haunted me about the town I knew first hand from 1955 until I left in 1981 and then beyond that. Don, my bookseller friend in Sturgeon Bay named it “post industrial” complex.

He’s right: Calumet, Michigan; Duluth, Minnesota;  Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and on. The misnomer “Rust Belt” does not do the majesty of these places any justice at all. They are still inhabited by hope (in vain though it may be) of immigrant workers and their progeny. By day these towns express a natural and industrial beauty. At night the ghosts of by-gone times come out in the shimmers and shadows that play across the structures they built.  Both sights are haunting and fulfilling. Look hard, look close to see what comes up for you.



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Somehow, perhaps you’ll see, the night buildings reminded me of New Orleans. Of course, I’d eaten Cajun at Pearl’s in the old section of Menomonee. That helped set the mood.


The buildings are not empty, not entirely. They seem to be waiting. The city will preserve them and hope people will come. For now, they seem bare inside and out, but when you listen on a soft fall night, very careful to hold a breath, you can hear the shoppers, the workers, the bankers, the shopkeepers bustling along the streets.

I’m not sure. You be the judge:


Compare these signs with any in your own town. I think you’ll see the difference. Intentional?

Road Trip: Day 60

Posted: September 25, 2016 by timjollymore in Uncategorized

Dateline: Hartman Creek to Potowatomi, Wisconsin

Sometimes the book tour feels like a forced march. If it weren’t for the scenery, the booksellers, and my interest in the towns themselves, marketing fine books might be a droll exercise.

Speaking of exercise, I have been walking quite a bit and I’ll give you a view of my yoga studio at Potowatomi State Park (Door County, WI):

My walk on the lake trails at Hartman Creek, out side Wisconsin Rapids ran “lakey” and “herony” too (the great blue was too shy and too fast for photography).

The towns in between held each some interest for me:

Wisconsin Rapids has, as well, the typical library of any Wisconsin town, monumental, spacious inside and out, and helpful.