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Click on the below link to view Portable Wall 40, kindly scanned by Larry Felton, magnetic personality of the original 1967 hippies.



Bust of Bob

Photo on 2-13-18 at 9.48 AM

Our clock stopped, yet time hasn’t.  Disorienting to see it’s seventeen minutes to seven at eight oh five (According to the stove.)

Siri names three Billings jewelries.  They fix mantle clocks?  I call Howard Miller Clocks in Zeeland, Michigan.

After four minute wait, “Curt” gives me name and number of local clock repairer.

They are open.  I find them behind an unmarked door upstairs at Dees Used Furniture.  Woman my age says to expect a call tomorrow morning.

Mantle clock is 14 years old, never oiled or cleaned.  Instructions (never read) says every two years.

Disorienting to see a space instead of a clock, so I put a bust of Bob to soothe my eye.

Searching for Bud’s roots in Norway


Bud, front row, L, probably took this toned photo with the time-delay feature on his camera.


January 26, 2018

We’re getting ready to study the roots of my uncle Carl Ralph Bonde Jr’s family.

Carl died in WWII as a 21-year-old private first class when his troopship was sunk by a torpedo in the English Channel.  His body was never recovered.  I never met Carl, but this young man profoundly changed my childhood by his sudden absence.  I grew up amidst his possessions and our family’s grief.

You see, Carl’s parents (my maternal grandparents) were both children of Norwegian immigrants.  Ellen’s parents—Wichstrom— came from Oslo from a family engaged in commerce, and Carl’s— Bonde— family came from the village of Vang in Valdres, Norway, where his great grandparents were farmers.

This coming March a bunch of us plan to visit family historian Bjorn Wichstrom in Oslo armed with family trees and old letters from Ellen’s aunt Margaret in Oslo.  Ellen’s maiden name was Wichstrom, same as our relatives in Oslo.

On grandfather’s side there’s Berit Bonde, the matriarch.  My mother said she had an iron hand.  When I heard about her iron hand as a child I was doubtful, but I figured the iron hand fit over a hook, or something.

Anyway,  Berit and her husband Thorstein had a farm near Vang, Norway, and they were apparently good at farming, but he got into trouble and had to go to Lillehammer to earn money to settle a lawsuit.  He died in his 30s just a few years after moving, and after another five or six years, Berit remarried to guy named Einar Halvorson.  In those parts people took the name of the farm, so the couple was known as Einar and Berit Bonde.   They left the farm in Norway that they worked but didn’t own, and moved to the United States.   They built a log house.  They are buried a few miles from Nerstrand, Minnesota.

Anyhow, my knowledge of Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr., will be much greater once I visit the places in Norway where his great grandparents lived.

History of the English Language Podcast


Cold winter’s day.

January 17, 2018

Last night at about one, or so, I was awake, so I listened to History of the English Language podcast by Kevin Stroud.  He has 106 episodes and he tracks the development of English from its Indo-European roots on the steppes of Asia perhaps 5000 years ago.  Our language has some ancient words in amongst the modern.  Sure, many of our words were borrowed from other languages, but a number have been passed along from the earliest tribal days on the steppes after the last ice age.  Old words tend to pertain, of course, to matters we have in common with our ancestors, such as “oxen,” “yoke,” and “mother” and “father.”  The newest words often pertain to technology, such as “fax” and “google.”  Mr. Stroud helps us stop and examine words, and for that I recommend his podcast.

English is a Germanic language that owes a lot to Latin.  One cannot understand the history of the language without knowledge of the social and political climate from which it sprung.  Think of all the anomalies in spelling.  Many of these were contrivances of ancient scribes who were adept at using the alphabet to approximate the sounds of words in olden times.  Mr. Stroud notes that Old English, such as in Beowulf, would be unintelligible to a modern English speaker, but Middle English, such in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, while strange-sounding, can pretty much be understood, though perhaps not completely.  He poses the question, what kind of English did William Shakespeare write in?  Answer:  Modern.  Granted, Mr. Shakespeare used words we might find quaint, but his work can be easily understood today.

I found it interesting the notion that not all written languages have alphabets.  Chinese, for example, employs hundreds, if not thousands, of characters that are, in effect, pictures, while English gets by with a few more than two dozen letters.  He notes that languages that employ phonetic alphabets, like English, are much easier to learn to read and write.  The ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics had scores of characters that only specially educated scribes could read and write.  Those who study linguistics may not learn anything new here, but the rest of us might.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest.  Just google the above podcast and give it a try.

Musings just before Christmas


December weather.

December 20, 2017

Snowing steadily.  Fire in stove glowing coals orange.  Gunther asleep, his back legs scissoring.  Got off phone with Clara in San Diego.  She promised to send an essay young George wrote about Gunther for the Portable Wall.  Jon is making up the pages for the first PW issue in a long time.  Clara asked what I planned to do today.  A puzzle?  Read?  I planned to sit here looking at the fire.  Then I considered writing for the first time in about a month.

P. and I haven’t dressed up the house much for Christmas.  Oh, there’s a wreath near the front door and a festive light bouquet, and indoors a candle on the dining room table.  But that’s it.  Some bells on the back doorknob.  A pint of whiskey in the cupboard.  Christmas preparations. A few gifts on the clavichord.  Preparations.

Is this going to be a Christmas letter?  What’s happened during 2017?  We paid taxes and our CPA retired.  He was overly religious, we thought, so I found a new one without such extreme views about Christianity.

P. and I still work part time.  That’s a good thing because I often nap on days I’m not working.  Those naps wouldn’t be any fun without the work days.

Her work is more fun than mine, although I get what pleasure I can from being a pharmacist.  Damn!  I still don’t know what a pharmacist does and I’m almost retired from being one.  For a while I defined my job as helping people get the most from their prescriptions.  That job description worked well for me when I worked for the Indian Health Service and I had time and opportunity to sit down with people and talk about their meds.  I dreamt about working there just a couple days ago.

People talk about their health and the health of their loved ones in a Christmas letter.  I’ll probably skip that in mine.

We did some traveling, but I’ll probably skip that too.  Right now I can’t remember where all we went.  Christmas day P. and I plan to drive to Duluth with Gunther.  What an adventure that is likely to be!

I spend too much time on Facebook.  P. avidly works crossword puzzles.  Every now and again someone will approach me and announce that we are friends on Facebook.  This is always a bit awkward, but it’s always nice to know a real human being is out there in computer-land.

What to do for supper tonight?  Last night we shared a pork loin with potatoes, gravy, and salad.  Seems like I ought to come up with an idea, but those ideas are the hardest part.  I used to make a killer vegetable pie, just right for this cold snowy weather.  But that would mean a trip to the store for peppers, onions, mushrooms, cheese.  Hey.  Why not?  Other than the risk to life and limb.

Gunther has shifted.  I poke him with my foot.  He looks at me, like “WTF?”  He migrated to his crate.  He yipped for no apparent reason, then crawled up on the back of my chair.

Photo on 3-30-17 at 1.35 PM

The Portable Wall



My nephew Jon Angel and I are bringing back the good old PW from the obscurity of the 70s, 80s, 90s of the last millennium. Sure, we are “modern” and “digital” and all of that. Come to think of it, I’m not quite sure why we’re publishing another PW. Perhaps all of our friends aren’t on Facebook, or even communicate with computers and smartphones.

This is altogether better than a damned Christmas letter.

This can also serve as a recruitment for new submissions from old PW friends, although we have lost a good share of the original contributors. We lost Tom Struckman, Dana Graham, Hannah Graham, John Herman, Gordon Simard, Nathaniel Blumberg and others a bit more distant from our circle, but who nonetheless contributed materials. Some simply dropped from sight. Some of those lost were unseen benefactors, like Jim Oset and Printer Bowler.


Dirk Lee

Do you remember the original Portable Wall? In the summer of 1977 I took a journalism class at the University of Montana in Missoula taught by Wilbur Wood, titled “Poetry and Journalism.”

We wrote pieces and read them to each other. Wilbur required each of us do a project.

Mine was starting a magazine. All the while e.e. cummings’ poem “Let’s Start a Magazine.” Was buzzing in my head.   I had wanted to start a magazine since high school, so I was glad to have a chance to do so. I had a couple of models to imitate, mostly the one by Peter R. Koch, “Montana Gothic.”

Some of us got together to start the magazine: Mark Fryberger, Tom Struckman, Dana Graham, Dirk Lee. Thus issue one was born. At that time the magazine didn’t have a name. We decided whoever contributed the most toward publishing the first ish could name it. That was Dana, who named it “Portable Wall.” It was named after a wall in an apartment in Missoula. The apartment, in a house everyone called church house or main house, was on Main Street on the north side of the river. I have pictures of the decrepit place. Anyway, one wall attracted a lot of graffiti. One I remember was written by Scott Hendryx: “Life is what we do while waiting to die.” The rest of the wisdom was a bit more uplifting and hippie-oriented. That made it perfectly forgettable. I remember the other half of the apartment building had Bob Gesell and some other musicians. ###


I had “resting bitch face.”

Photo on 4-28-17 at 11.22 AM

November 18, 2017

When I am at repose, my partner occasionally would remark on my facial expression.  That I looked like a sourpuss.  Reminded me when I was in the Marines in 1970 when I walked along a street on base and an NCO shouted at me, “What are you so mad about?”

While visiting our daughter and her family in San Diego she chimed in about my frowning face.  Turns out to be a common condition, she said to P. later.  “Resting bitch face.”  Turns out gravity overcomes the jowls causing an intense frown.  Nothing to be done for it, short of surgery.