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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.

Friday, August 5


We woke up to hard rains this morning, and our skies are nicely overcast. Humidity up, temperature down. That’s a nice combination. And it’s our anniversary. That’s a really nice combination. I have vivid memories from our past together, like the Bergman’s “misty watercolor memories, of the way we were.”

I remember our marriage fifty-six years ago, Rosalie in a form-fitting navy blue dress, I in my really ugly double-breasted brown suit. It was a speedy ceremony from morning through afternoon—quick elopement drive to Pierre a hundred miles south of Mobridge, hurried blood tests, marriage license, meeting with brother Dick and wife Doris, who were acting as our witnesses, and then the vows. One might think we were in such a hurry because Rosalie was pregnant, but that wasn’t so. It was an impromptu idea to marry before the next school year began, to get our teaching plans in order. One would think that my most vivid memory of that day or night would be our post-nuptial coupling, but the most vivid memory of that evening was my crossing the street from our motel to get burgers, fries, and chocolate shakes from a fast-food place. I don’t remember what it was called, but it certainly wasn’t a MacDonald’s or Burger King, franchises that hadn’t yet come on the fast-food scene. Sorry, Rosalie. I’m sure the love-making must have been great, but it’s that food and food joint I remember best.

Memory is a fickle beast. So far, knock on wood, neither Rosalie nor I have had any signs of fading memories. I think one of the saddest ways to die is to have your memory, your actual being, lost to dementia and Alzheimer’s. We’ve seen what it does to relatives and friends and we want no part of it. Why do we remember some things so colorfully vivid? Why are whole segments either gray or black or simply white voids? As I said in my intro to Doggy-Dog World, I may not remember events as they actually happened. I may see some things more favorably than they actually were, may even forget whole segments either because they weren’t important enough to remember or because they were too grim or hateful to remember. Or too unflattering. Kara, in Jeffrey Deaver’s novel The Vanished Man, explains to Lincoln Rhyme why she believes that life is just an illusion: “Well, everything in the past is memory, right? . . . And everything in the future is imagination. Those’re both illusions—memories are unreliable and we just speculate about the future. The only thing that’s completely real is this one instant of the present—and that’s constantly changing from imagination to a memory. So, see? Most of our life’s illusory.”

I keep trying to persuade Rosalie to write her own memoirs, something for our kids and their kids to read and see who we were. But she just never gets around to it. I tell her to get some file cards and on each one to write down one of her most vivid memories, and then to expand on that one moment in time, to try to figure out why it’s implanted so vividly. Then she should organize them in chronological order, and—voila!—there’s the outline for an autobiography.

Now, here we are, several lifetimes down the road. We’ve had a few hard times, some flat tires and detours around highway construction, but most of our times were good, with smooth highways and breezes at our backs. And tomorrow night we’re taking daughter Jeri with us to the Vogue Bistro, a very fancy French/American restaurant nearby, for a celebratory dinner. And because it involves elegant food, that will probably give me a memory that will stick in my head forever.
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