Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The satisfying “thwack” of my new pursuit

Living in the country is something I haven’t done since about 1975, so it’s taking some getting used to. It’s an odd feeling when an entire day goes by without seeing another human being (other than my family.) That happens often, when I don’t have any errands to run in town. I’m not complaining; it just feels odd.

One aspect of being surrounded by woods has allowed me to take up a new hobby: archery. Just behind our garage is a small clearing, and on the end of it there’s a wooden wall about fifteen feet long and eight feet high. Our real estate agent surmised it was an shooting range. Turns out, the previous owner told me one of his teenage sons built it to kick soccer balls and keep them from going into the woods. But the idea was planted in my mind for it t to keep arrows from flying into the thicket of trees and poison ivy.

I mentioned I’d like to try archery, so for Father’s Day my wife and son bought me a beautiful bow and six carbon arrows. Now whenever I want to take a break from staring at the computer screen, I stroll out to the archery range and shoot until my fingers are numb and my shoulders ache. The sound of the arrows striking the target and the wooden wall is quite gratifying. The feeling of pulling the bowstring and letting the arrow fly seems not-quite-21st Century. It’s timeless.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Getting off my bucolic ass and writing something

That's what my most faithful reader Gail suggests. Says she’s sick of the pretty pictures. So I’ll write about something dear and near to my well-being: wine.

First, one of my authors, a great young guy named Dan Cederholm who wrote Bulletproof Web Design has just launched a tasty and exquisitely designed new website devoted to wine. It’s called Cork'd, “the simple way to review and share wine.” When I saw it, I had another one of those, “why didn’t I think of that first?” moments.

And back to the aforementioned Detroit Gail. She also pinged me with an ad for Illinois wineries she saw on LA and asked if I was aware of the growing reputation of our local wines. Am I ever! Eight of the wineries, (and one of the best) are along the Shawnee Trail, within 20 miles of Carbondale. This was already a region known for its peach and apple orchards, and now they’ve begun growing grapes as well. Some of the results are surprisingly quite palatable, even for a California wine snob like me. At the very least, who could fail to enjoy a sunny day on the terrace at the neo-Tuscan Blue Sky Winery listening to live Chicago blues, sipping an Illinois red (Chamburcin is my favorite) and dipping crusty bread into olive oil?


Friday, June 16, 2006

I’ve been in a state of shock...

...which is why I haven’t posted to mikalinphilly for a while. See, I'm so not in Philly at the moment it’s shifted the whole way I think. Posting to a blog seemed rather disconnected from the green wall of forest and lake outside.

All my life I’ve been an urban person. Indianapolis, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia. As each decade passed, I found myself living ever closer to the core of whatever city I called home. Then fate brought us to Southern Illinois and now to our serene home on Lake Chatauqua and I’m doing something I always said I wanted to do—live a rural, quiet life.

Our cell-phones hardly work, so we’ve started to use the VoIP line more. Fortunately, the rather hill-jack seeming cable company (headquartered in some small town in Kentucky I’ve never heard of) installed internet service that is flawless—much better than the spotty Mediacom connection we had when we were in town. That’s a good thing because I depend on the internet for my livelihood.

My new office is almost completed. I painted it a quiet celadon green and the light filters in through a wall of windows overlooking the lake. I positioned the small desk where I work on my laptop so it faces those windows, and every now and then I look up to watch birds in the trees near the deck. At night the bullfrogs start their croaking. It’s outrageous. Sometimes it’s so rhythmic it sounds like a jazz riff.

Today I built an enclosure for the compost pile near the garage, and threw in all the watermelon and canteloupe rinds and Fair Trade coffee grounds that had been accumulating since we moved in. It was impractical to have a compost pile in Philly.