My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, June 27

The Sea of Grass

The week went by soooo slowly, but we finally found the light at the end of the tunnel and made our escape Monday morning—more final goodbyes to sister-in-law Doris and brother Bob and his wife Linda, a final breakfast provided by Doris, a gas fill for the hundred mile drive to Bismarck, and several sighs of relief and regret as we drove one last time over the bridge across Lake Oahe and into the green hills and buttes to the west and north. I say “one last time” because I don’t think we’ll ever again return to our roots in South Dakota. Our roots no longer seem to be there, our old home town no longer our old home town. But we’ll see, which seems to be our new catch phrase. We’ll see.

South and North Dakota have never in our lifetimes been so green. Conrad Richter wrote a novel called The Sea of Grass, the title coming from the waist-deep grasses that once covered the prairie. The wind blew through these grasses making grassy waves as far as the eye could see. And the eye could see forever from one horizon to the other. Ole Rolvaag, in Giants in the Earth, wrote of the Norwegian settlers crossing this land in wagons, claiming their homesteads out in that vast grassy tan and green land. They had to trail a long piece of rope behind them to mark their path straight ahead instead of accidentally circling back to their beginnings. The prairie countryside now is remarkably close to that original sea of grass.

For nearly the entire trip north we listened to Nancy Sinatra on Sirius XM interviewing Doris Day, alternating versions of the same songs by Doris and Frank Sinatra. I’d forgotten what a great voice Doris Day had. I was surprised that she was still alive. In the interview she sounded lucid and ageless, sharing with Nancy memories of her early singing career and her later film career. We heard, among many others, her rendition of Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow,” maybe the best version I’ve ever heard. I’d forgotten her characteristic style, a near whisper on some phrasing, the faster than usual vibrato on held notes. Where have all the Doris Days gone? Now we have Beyonces and Rhianas, but they can’t hold a note or a candle to those voices from the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties. Or is that simply my age talking? Odd how music and musical styles can date themselves. I hear Sinatra from his Tommy Dorsey days—the choral backgrounds, the shrill violins, the muted trumpets—and it sounds so dated. Then I hear him from his second singing career, the years following his award winning role as Maggio in From Here to Eternity in 1953, and the voice is deeper, richer, smokier, more eternal, much less easy to pigeonhole in time. So, where have all the Sinatras gone? Gone to Michael BublĂ©, Harry Connick, and others who carry on the Sinatra tradition.

We had nearly eight hours waiting for our flight. Better eight hours sitting in the airport than trying to figure out what to do in Mobridge. So we sat and read, bought a sandwich and banana, listened to far too many loud cell phone talkers. Callers don’t make calls to inform; they now call to talk endlessly about nothing. Bores no longer need a corner to back victims into; now they can call and back one into a cell phone corner. My wife, when so trapped at home, will go to the front door, ring the bell, and bail out from a caller by using the fictitious visitor. “Oh, hey, gotta go. Someone’s at the door.” We had to listen to a young man nearly shouting joyously as he wandered back and forth and around and about . . . for over thirty minutes. A fat woman spoke into her phone with no noticeable conversational break . . . for twenty minutes. How do these people find people willing to remain in suspended animation during these calls? Maybe the listener simply puts the phone down and lets the caller speak to dead air.
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