The Cheapskate Intellectual

A journey through matters of spirit, sustainability, and self-reliance

Early fall, in fragrance and light.

Last night it became impossible to ignore.  Clipping a stem from my backdoor rosemary pot and stripping its leaves into a pork, tomato, onion, and garlic stuffing for peppers (thank you, dear Nigel Slater), I smelled the green cedary tang as it hit the hot oil, and knew, in my senses before my brain, that […]

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Is it late summer or early fall?

Late summer. It’s LATE SUMMER. Because just like my students, I am fighting to push back the Start of School — specifically the entrance and settling-in of School-Year Mentality into my head, there at its worst to hollow out and colonize my mind — as late as possible. What do I mean by that? College-professoring […]

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La bella Iowa?

So this afternoon, following a morning of errands, I tackled the yard again: grass-cutting, edging, cleaning off the sidewalk, and then weeding, till my clothes were completely soaked with sweat. I mean, even my socks.  And my old yard sneakers.  Tomatoes have rocketed up and out, putting on green fruit like crazy, necessitating some tucking-in […]

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A dozen lessons from a bike.

Inspired by today’s ride through a perfect Northeast Iowa summer evening, things I learn and relearn from my simple old machine: 1) If I just get started, it will get easier from there.  This applies to everything. 2) From a bike, the world wakes up my senses: flowering vetch, wild lilies, Queen Anne’s lace, black-eyed […]

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Expanding the plot.

This is the whole manuscript of my novel-under-revision, printed out in 8-point type and hung up on my guest-bedroom wall.  (Suitably redneck for my Alabama origins, the duct tape sticks to plaster where Scotch tape won’t.)  “So that’s how novelists work,” said a friend on seeing this picture.  Well, I don’t know about other novelists […]

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A cheapskate update: Considering, reorienting, refocusing.

What you see here is the result of my past couple blogging-less weeks of garden work: several big and long-planned projects including the construction, priming, and painting of a new fence (to the far right, now completely enclosing the yard – other people built it and primed it, I painted it); weeding everything and trucking […]

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