Still-Lifes: A Gathering


“Barnes & Noble” in Edina, MN (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

Going through my iPhoto library last weekend, I found a lot of still-lifes of beer and alcohol.

It is a habit like taking pictures of Little Libraries. It is I suppose a form of collecting. This time memories. And now like with my pictures of Little Libraries I am going to create a separate page for these pictures as well here at ClimbingSky.

Here are a few samples, some that have already been posted here sometime before but now can be seen in “context.”


"J. Carver Distillery, Waconia, Minnesota" " (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

“J. Carver Distillery, Waconia, Minnesota”
” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

"F-Town, Fairbault, Minnesota" (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

“F-Town, Fairbault, Minnesota” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

"Happy Gnome, St. Paul, MN" (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

“Happy Gnome, St. Paul, MN” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

"Appetizers and Old Fashions" (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

“Appetizers and Old Fashions” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

"Boat Drinks" (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

“Boat Drinks, Port Isabelle, Texas” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

"Have a Pint" (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

“Guinness on Tap, St. Paul, Minnesota” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

"Nutmeg, Burnsville, Minnesota" (Photo by m.a.h. hinton)

“Nutmeg, Burnsville, Minnesota” (Photo by m.a.h. hinton)

Reading, Discussing, & New Publications Coming

"Stepping Stones" (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

“Stepping Stones” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

It has been a wet and gray few weeks in the North Country. Lawns are long and green but we are longing for sun.

The wet weather has meant that I have not been biking to work as often as I had planned. My mood often shows it.

I continue writing and sending out poems, including a 70+-page manuscript I am just beginning to send out.  So far I know of two publications that will be including my poetry this summer.

  • “Picture Album”: Into the Void Magazine, Issue 5 (July 25th 2017)
  • “Momentous Occasions”:  Blue Heron Review (Summer 2017)

When they are published, I will post links here.

It is a odd process this sending out poems. Packaging up your creations and sending them out into the world. Writing is easier in many ways. But for now I have made peace with the process. What is the point, after all, of writing and writing and never sharing what you have written.

I am working my way through three books right now that sit on my writing desk:

  1. Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey, Hayden Carruth, a book of poetry
  2. The Triggering Town, by Richard Hugo, a collection of essays and lectures about writing and poetry
  3. The Visionary Company, by Harold Bloom, the standard on English Romantic poetry

Each book is a marvel and a revelation in its own way. Carruth’s poetry is exactly what I need to be reading right now. And Hugo and Bloom are forcing me to rethink things I thought I understood already.

I think sometimes how strange it is that I spend so much of my time thinking about things that have nothing to do with how I spend my days. But in the evening and the mornings I have the “discussions” I need with these books.

I have noted here before that I am a slow reader. It would be more accurate to say I am a deliberate one. Read a few paragraphs or a few poems and then “discuss” them with myself. How does this fit with what I have thought? How true does this seem and why? How do I feel? How did the writer do this? What can I learn from this?

I marvel daily at the patience of my wife, Sue, who puts up with my distracted ways. I know it is not always easy to live with someone who is always thinking about other things, who is always having “discussions” with dead poets and saints. Everyday I count myself blessed beyond measure.

Summer is coming. There will me more bike riding, more writing and reading, and hopefully more publications.


On Trump, Truth, and Baseball


The madness that is Trump never seems to end. It is one stupid thing followed by one scandalous thing by one outrageous thing. A continuing cycle of unethical and dangerous behavior that stupefies and terrorizes any with a moral and intellectual center.

And then there is baseball.

Baseball has always been a way to forget. A way to care deeply about something that does not really matter but matters anyway.

I follow a number of teams.

It is the curse of my life that the two teams I loved most growing up were from Oakland: the Oakland Raiders and the Oakland As.

It was my inborn contrariness I suppose that led me to pick the two teams across the bay from the two teams my parents rooted for. It was probably also my instinctive eye for the tragic. For the story of both Oakland teams of my youth was tragedy.

The owner of my beloved Raiders, Al Davis, picked the team up and moved them to LA and then back again. Now they are headed for Sin City.

The owner of the As, Charlie Finley, sold off his players after three consecutive World Series Championships to the evil Yankees.

For mere money my first true loves were sold away.

And so now I follow four baseball teams and over time one football team that can never be sold away because the community owns it.

In baseball I follow the Cubs, of course, and have since 1981 when I first saw my first in-person Major League game at Wrigley Field. It was love at first sight.

I follow the Astros who helped me get through a long summer of living in Houston.

I follow the Twins who play in the town where I have lived now for 31 years. And I follow the Giants, my mother’s team and the cross-bay competition to the team that betrayed me.

When you follow four teams, you almost always have a good day. One of your four teams is bound to win. Sometimes all four do and those are the best days of all.

Trump is to me like Al Davis and Charlie Finley, a man who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. He is further proof that running anything important like you run a business is to ruin it. Finally he is merely another businessman who is going to find that there is a special hell for those who crush dreams for something as unimportant as money.



The Allure of Little Libraries

As I bike around Bloomington, and as Sue and I take urban hikes in Minneapolis and St. Paul and other towns, we often come across Little Libraries.

I always take a look at what is offered and usually take a picture or two. If the books are not interesting, the library itself often is.

I have played with the idea of having one of my own. Putting it at the end of the driveway and filling it with the discarded and abandoned books that I usually sell back to Half-Price Books or just donate to thrift stores.

I like the idea of books finding new homes. Especially the books that I have abandoned. It is not the book’s fault after all that I cannot fit into it at the time.

And so every now and then I think, maybe it is time to have a Little Library of my own.

But then I think of an article I once read by a writer who received one as a gift. He said he found it to be a burden. So much time did he spend worrying over its contents, being bothered by the quality of books others “donated” to it.

I know my book obsessive ways. And I know that I am the kind of book-person who places tremendous importance on the meaning of what someone has read.  When I go to a house I always gravitate towards the books, if they have books. Books can tell more about the people who live there than a remodeled kitchen or bathroom ever could.

And so I worry that if I did get one, I would spend an inordinate amount of time and energy curating it. Thinking about the best ratio of books to have and what categories: some picture books for kids, some poetry books, history, a western or two, and some Oprah books for the masses….

Would I worry about what my neighbors will think of me when they see the kinds of books I read?

And what is the proper thing to do if some well-meaning stranger leaves a “Christian Fiction” book or a romance novel there? Would it be ethical to take it out? To toss it in a bag to donate to a thrift store? Or to slip it into some other Little Library?

And what if no one ever came and took any of the books I put out? Could I handle the rejection?

And so for now, I content myself with taking pictures and thinking about them.

IMG_6074 IMG_6073

To Be a Traveller in Little Things

“You are a traveller in little things–in something very small–which takes you into the villages and hamlets, where you meet and converse with small farmers, innkeepers, labourers and their wives, with other persons who live on the land. In this way you get to hear a good deal about rent and cost of living, and what the people are able and not able to do. Now I am out of all that; I never go to a village nor see a farmer. I am a traveller in something very large. In the south and west I visit towns like Salisbury, Exeter, Bristol, Southampton; then I go to the big towns in the Midlands and the North, and to Glasgow and Edinburgh; and afterwards to Belfast and Dublin. It would simply be a waste of time for me to visit a town of less than fifty or sixty thousand inhabitants.” (cf. Traveller in Little Things, by W.H. Hudson)

W.H. Hudson is best known for his novel The Green Mansion. But though I do enjoy that novel, to me it is one of his least interesting books. His best books are those he writes about birds and nature and about his childhood in Patagonia.

Hudson is not read much these days and his Wikipedia article is remarkably short. Yet each time I return to his books I am reminded of how fine a writer he really is. It is easy to see why Ford Madox Ford and John Galsworthy (to name just two) were so impressed with Hudson the man, the naturalist, and the writer.

Hudson entitled the book I am currently reading Traveller in Little Things. It is an image I particularly like because it is, in the end, the kind of traveller I have found myself to be. I enjoy small things and “ordinary” places more than obvious tourist spots.

I am interested in places off the beaten path, places ordinary to the locals but extraordinary to me since I have never been to that spot before: a local pub or bar, a small cafe, a small garden with unfamiliar plants, an alleyway alight with morning sun, an outdoor table where I can hear unfamiliar birds and voices, trees that I have never seen before.

"Signs" (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

“Signs” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)