:::this is the way the world ends:::

Category: Holidays (Page 2 of 3)

Happy Independence Weekend

Sara and I took the kids to the MN Science Museum to see the Star Wars exhibit. They had a lot of models and costumes from all the films. Eliot loved it, but he was so excited still after two hours that he wouldn’t be quiet in the Omnitheater. We also went to see Kungfu Panda a few days ago which is pretty delightful. Here’s a few shots of the kids. Eliot has been into Narnia, Star Wars, and Peter Pan lately. I made the sword and shield for a party. Claire is usually, Princess Leia, Lucy, or Tinkerbell.

Princess Fairy Knight 2

Sword 2

Asps. Very Dangerous. You Go First.

Not an asp. 

You guys might have heard, the first Indiana Jones movie in 19 years is coming out this Memorial Day weekend.  So, Steph and I have devised an equation.

Memorial Day + Kansas City + HM and their wives + Indiana Jones + (optional beer & pipes) = a Memorable Weekend

Are you in or are you out?  Let us know.  Discuss below.

Holidays and End of Year 2007

Happy holidays to all! Be safe, merry, and joyous, and accept good intentions for the New Year and for seeing you all in 2008. 

Jen and I will be at her parents’ home for a couple of days over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, then will be enjoying some restful days here in Minneapolis. We have a good few inches of snow on the ground, and it’s expected to snow tomorrow an inch or two. So no need for dreaming of a white Christmas in these parts. 

OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson is #33 on this week’s New York Times Bestsellers list. Amazing for such an introspective, literary work of translation. Funnily enough the book is just ahead of WAR AND PEACE. So take that, Tolstoy!

Any thoughts on the past year? Predictions for the new one? Anyone care to share some of their favorite books, albums, gallery exhibits, songs, movies, etc. of 2007? 

Here’s to what’s ahead… 


The holidays are upon us. I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving next week, wherever you will be. Jen and I will be in the Pacific Northwest from Tuesday through Sunday. So here’s wishing you a good feast to you and yours, from there.

As it happens, I have a fairly grand holiday break set up for myself this year, due to the fact that my class ends the week of December 10, I’m three days a week at Graywolf, and I have saved up vacation days all year, apparently. I will more or less be off of a regular work schedule from December 13 to January 7.

I’m hoping that might mean I can come to Kansas for a few days somewhere in there–either before Christmas or sometime after. I will certainly be in Minnesota roughly December 23-26 for family gatherings here. I thought I would see when others of you might be around the McPherson area during the holidays, to see if I can match my schedule to yours, as it would be great to see you all, in addition to my parents, grandparents, and extended family.

I need to get my air fare set as soon as possible, so let me know what your plans may be. And of course, it’s always interesting to know what all of you are doing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s…

Nuts for _____


Okay, I just got a call from the allergy clinic a couple of days ago.  I’ve been given the all-clear for my cashew and pistachio allergies!  They said that no observable allergies showed up in a blood test I took a few days previous.  So, I can begin to reintroduce the pistachios and cashews back into my diet slowly.  I wasn’t aware that this happened, but they seemed confident I was fine to eat them again.  I wonder if I just ate too many nuts over the holidays a couple of years ago. 

All I’ll say is, it’s nice not to have a potentially life-threatening allergy again.

Happy Birthday to Us

Cupcake Happy birthday, The Hollow Men.  It was one year ago today that this web site had its first blog entry.  That was a grand start to this fine conversation — a conversation that constantly exceeds my expectations. 

Sometimes I feel like technology does very little to enhance our lives, but then I take a look at what has happened on our blog and I fear the future a little less.

As a gift to everyone, I’ve updated the blog template to have a new look.  The old one is classic, but I thought we’d dress our one year old up a bit and hit the town.

Any thoughts, reflections, comments on what has made the site great (or not-so-great) for the Hollow Men?

Poetry Post

It IS National Poetry Month, so I shouldn’t let it get away without a current Poetry Post. This one from fellow Kansan Albert Goldbarth, who teaches at Wichita State University and who is the only poet to have twice won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. This poem is from the “new” section in his recently published (by Graywolf, no less) The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems 1972-2007. Enjoy. And happy National Poetry Month to you.

Human Beauty

If you write a poem about love …
the love is a bird,

the poem is an origami bird.
If you write a poem about death …

the death is a terrible fire,
the poem is an offering of paper cutout flames

you feed to the fire.
We can see, in these, the space between

our gestures and the power they address
—an insufficiency. And yet a kind of beauty,

a distinctly human beauty. When a winter storm
from out of nowhere hit New York one night

in 1892, the crew at a theater was caught
unloading props: a box

of paper snow for the Christmas scene got dropped
and broken open, and that flash of white

confetti was lost
inside what it was a praise of.

Saint Patrick’s Poetry Post


Two poems for you this Saint Patrick’s Day weekend. The first from Seamus Heaney, his ars poetica. The second from Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, about her decision to write in the Irish language, followed by an English translation by Paul Muldoon.



Personal Helicon

for Michael Longley

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.

One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.

A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.

Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.

Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

–Seamus Heaney

Continue reading

A Valentine

Here’s a poetry post for Valentine’s Day. I recommend this one to give or read to your respective loves. Sadly, my beloved is in India for work, so we’re celebrating, as we can, from afar. I’ll be somewhere with a Guinness, remembering Galway…

Here’s to all of you and yours. –Shotts

Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Mitchell

I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.


I’m trying to cover all my thanks in one blow. So — thanks J.E. for the gift of the gear. Right now we have it by our side door. Not the best place, but we’ll look for a better place. I also want to apologize for missing your call. I just checked my message yesterday. (People don’t call me very often on my cell). Feel free to call our house anytime.

Thanks Peters for coming over on New Year’s Eve and getting me to take the Myers – Briggs. I have to admit that I am skeptical of aptitude tests because I tend to loathe labels and catergorizations and how people use them to decide how they want to treat people. But I was glad I took it. I guess Counselor Idealist is about as close to Discontented Idealist as I could expect. (That was meant to be funny in an under-handed way).

Thanks, Toby, for so much. The blog makes my best of 2006 list. Thanks for passing off the music from the blog as well as the Window in the Sky cd. I have to admit I am sometimes cynical about the music posts, thinking something along the lines of “What indie rock, flash-in-the-pan band is it this time?” But in all honesty I have been enjoying the cd immensely. You are a guru of pop-culture and you’re making me quite hip with my college students; so keep up the good work. So far, I like the Decemberists and the Rock Kills Kid songs, but I haven’t been through the entire disc too many times.

Thanks to Shotts for the chance to get together after I missed the Pre-Christmas gathering. It was fun.


And now, looking ahead, it must be asked: what do you foresee in 2007? This can either be predictions of important events or people, or it could take the form of personal New Years resolutions. It’s always such a reflective time. I’m reminded that the month of January comes from Janus, the Roman god of endings and beginnings, with a face looking backward and a face looking forward.

So, looking ahead now, here are a few thoughts and resolutions from me.

In 2007, I expect:

  • to see Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Rudy Guliani in the spotlight for the Presidential elections of 2008, as they all announce their candidacies. (I’m already surprised to see John Edwards announce his candidacy, and so early.)
  • a withdrawl plan from Iraq.
  • peacekeeping efforts deployed to Darfur, through a renewed United Nations.
  • the biggest seller in books, by far, to be the new and final Harry Potter.
  • the biggest movie, in terms of blockbuster status, to be the new Harry Potter movie.
  • to be exhausted by Harry Potter by this time next year.
  • additional evidence for global warming.
  • one of us to announce a child on the way.

Some of my personal resolutions include:

  • to eat vegetarian as much as possible, with only occasional fish when eating out.
  • to eat less, eat more healthy foods, drink less alcohol, and drink more water daily.
  • to exercise at the Y at least 12 times each month.
  • to post and comment regularly on the Hollow Men site, including a weekly literary/poetry feature.
  • to work to organize our house better.
  • to begin more sustained writing.
  • to be in better touch with family and friends.


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