Cousin Dan Keeps It Simple

Today’s guest post comes from tim.

i may have mentioned cousin dan before here on the trail.

this time of year i have to call him and thank him one more time for making me aware of the special circle we live in.

dan comes from fargo, i come from fargo. i got out, dan didnt.

when cousin tim would come up from the cities it was a special time. the cities were like the emerald city in fargo in 1960-70. i would come in in my twin city finery with peace sign pendants and floppy hats from the mod psychedelic stores in the heart of minneapolis.

dan was a wild man and did things i would never dream of doing. reckless drug trials, trouble that anyone would know better than to try but in fargo you knew where to draw the line, when you could get away with it,  and when you were pushing your luck.

dan went off to study fine art painting with figure studies and landscapes as his focus. i love his work. his hay bales in the field and his rolling fields with the focus being the rows of corn stubble and large cloud skies took my brain away on trips to the places i visited when i had time to look and enjoy

about 4 or 5 years ago he had an aneurism and today reminds me of chauncey gardner in jerzy kosinskis being there which peter sellers brought to life. its fitting. he has traded in his wild youth for the most laid back passive existence on the planet where he paints and watches people on the sidewalk scenes in his world and enjoys the simple things.

the paintings he did and does are of the landscape and the gentle surroundings we miss if we are not paying attention.

for the next 3 or 4 weeks the greens are magic. the developments in the world of leaves make the world a kaleidoscope of greens. today i saw willow leaves sprouting almost dandelion yellow the celery green and moss and white hued buds popping as the leaves do their butterfly form the cocoon imitation and sprout from those tree branches like aliens form a sigourney weaver movie.

so thanks to dan for making me appreciate green in april and may.

what do you do to simplify your life?

66 thoughts on “Cousin Dan Keeps It Simple”

  1. Stay home most of the time. Live within 1-2 miles of every place we go to regularly, such as grocery store, mall, medical centers. Wear the same basic cheap durable clothes almost all the time, short-sleeve T over long sleeve T with thin material or fleece material sweat pants. Switch to jeans when we go out. Only cook as such one meal a day, which is driven more by Sandy’s health issues. Go with the flow of pain as much as circumstances let me,bu which I mean ride out the very bad days, usually in the dark, and paint and write on days I can, adjust cleaning to the pattern of pain.


    1. glad you were able to figure out how to plug the painting in writing back in
      here’s hoping minnesotas pollination isn’t too painful this year


    2. Clyde – do you know that your computer can hear your voice and put everything you say into print? If it’s hard for you to type, you do have a back up way of communicating on the forum.


  2. Good morning. Some times I think it would be good to follow the example of those people I read about who have decided to live in a very small house and get rid of most of the things they own. I’m not ready to simplify my life by doing that. I do make time for taking a fairly long walk every day and try to avoid loading my day with too many scheduled activities.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Because I read this post with growing envy of the concept of simplicity. My life the past number of years has been far from simple since starting a business–that was supposed to have been simple! However, it has been worth the complexity.

    When I need simple there are two things I do:

    1. Garden: Seasons, growth, death, decomposition. Lots of work that grounds me.

    2. Travel to places where I walk and walk, look around, and wonder, which keeps me in this moment only.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, for Pete’s sake–an incomplete sentence at the very beginning. Let’s try this again: Because I read this post with growing envy, I realize how much I value the concept of simplicity.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Keeping life simple seems to take much more work than allowing complications. Simplifying requires saying “No” so many times and with priorities in mind. It’s much easier to say “Sure. Why not? Let’s do this, let’s go there, let’s buy this, let’s participate in that.” Simplifying requires triage, deciding what’s too important to live without, and judging and grading and determining winners and losers in your life.

    We’re working on simplicity here, but it’s such a gradual process. I finally got my wife to start thinking about scaling back as she nears retirement. She stopped adding knick knacks to the decor years ago, has drastically trimmed her quilt stash in the past five years (much more output–quilts–than inflow–material with which to make quilts.

    I also have her thinking about giving away the accumulated literature of our lives. Specifically college nursing and other course texts, paperback novels she’s read ten times in her life, all those times being 30 years ago, and magazines! Ugh, the magazines we used to have!

    As for me, I’m a document saver. I keep tax returns, bank statements, investment confirmations, all that stuff for years longer than I need to. Once we get my mother-in-law’s estate settled and purge most of her paperwork, I’ll start in on our financial history and make more room in the storage room/wine cellar for wine, preserves, canned goods, and stock ups from Costco. 😉

    Simplifying ain’t easy, but seems to be an inevitable part of growing old. I”m working on it the best I can, but know I can do much more.

    Tim, I love that we share the same passion for the greens of April and May. Glad I’m not the only one who’s mesmerized by spring greens. I sit in my office and look out my window in complete fascination and awe as I watch the trees, shrubs, and grasses burst forth with an endless palette of greens for me to enjoy that change on a daily basis.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Morning–
    Barn swallows are back!
    Spotted two this morning sitting on the electric wire chattering a little bit.

    I enjoy having time to walk through the yard and inspect the lilac bushes and check the apple trees and see what flowers have sprouted or how the garlic is growing. That always makes me feel connected and relaxed.

    It’s too easy to get sucked back into the daily hubbub and schedules and meetings and this and that and and and. (I say as I sit hunched over my computer…)
    Try to take it one day at a time and focus on the goal.
    I have several goals;
    1) Be out of here by 2:00 today and home to plant corn.
    2) get through lighting the commencement ceremony at the college (which will take the whole week of May 11 – 15).
    3) Get crops planted
    4) Son’s wedding May 31.
    5) Breath

    Liked by 3 people

    1. busy schedule. you can do it. crops commencement and wedding all big deals
      is the commencement indoors and needing lighting or are you the sound guy etc too?
      my son graduates from college and has no problem with tickets for the family unless it rains . then he has 2 total. with pewople flying in for the doo i told my wife we can tell her parents they can go. we can skop it. thye would be hell if they were not allowed in after planning it for a couple months.


      1. It’s 2:01 and I’m going to leave as soon as I finish this. So first goal is going OK.
        Commencement is indoors in the big gym. Lots of ugly fluorescent lighting. I highlight the stage and get a few movers and LED’s for color and ‘flash and trash’.
        …while still preserving the solemnity of the event.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Your planned day puts me to shame. My day consists of: get up; pee; brush teeth; make coffee; read the news and comment; 2 wines at 4PM and a dinner by 9PM; cable TV; movies later; go to bed at 3AM, then get up at 10AM and start all over again. I do fit in phone calls, a few errands, and occasional clients, though. I just bought a sun cover for my laptop so I can at least use it while sitting outside by the lake.


  6. i do a terrible job of keeping my life simple. on a 1-10 i am a negative 3
    i collect stuff. i commit to too many things. i have too many interests. i start too much stuff that requires me to invest more time money resources. i never learn. but i like my life so much that i will savor the greens this next moth whil i am angsting out over all the crap i bring on myself. i understand the concept. it is the execution i have a bit of a problem with.
    i am ok for the moment on occasion but if i am sitting in achair with someone who talks slow and has a conversation headed for nowhere i tend to figure out a way to run away and get into a zippier paced surroundings.
    i likely need to meditate. the ummmmmmmm i try always gets interrupted by thoughts of stuff that is picking away at em.
    i resort to the old franklin planner lists where a stuff is first b stuff is second and c stuff is stuff you will get around to when all the a stuff and b stuff get done. i dont get to the c stuff very often. i am learning how to figure that out better. i am learning how to figure that out better, i am learning how to figure that out better

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am staring out the window beside my computer into my ravine, looking at the delicate greens scattered through trees, waiting for but not sure if I want the the leaves to develop into the dense and greener foliage that will mean full leaves. This is one of the few days left when I can watch the morning rush hour on the squirrel Eisenhower inter-tree road system

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have a groundhog/woodchuck burrow 30 feet from my patio. I think it is inactive. I just went out to collect corn from the poorly-harvested cornfield by me. I see a few dandelions in bloom already. I attach corn to a springy cable and put some small pieces in a suet cage and watch the squirrels hang down from their hind feet to pry out kernels. One adept squirrel has dominated fiercely that cage for months. Now he or she is gone, dead or maybe a female with young? I throw out a few ears loose. I like to put out a big ear and watch a squirrel try to take it up a tree. Sometimes they “bury” an ear on a tree crotch.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. i just sold my home, gave away or sold all my stuff and moved 1400 miles to a two-bedroom apartment. The only way I could simplify my life from its present condition would be to die, and that doesn’t look like an attractive option today.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Only a one room apartment could be more simple. But a two room apartment is certainly simpler than two bedrooms, unless of course, you have our of town visitors who have to sleep in your tub.


        1. I stayed somewhere else, PJ. In a neighborhood fairly close to both Steve and Molly, but where I had a real bed to sleep in.


  9. Like TGiTH, I can’t claim to do anything to simplify my life. And right now, thanks to Young Adult, I’m not feeling simplified at all. Home front is currently complete chaos – at least that’s what it feels like. Puppyhood is highly overrated.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Nice post, Tim. I like your description of Fargo as a save place to rebel. That was my experience in the late 1970’s, but I think things have changed there somewhat.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m getting rid of stuff. It really does help me to have less stuff.

    Paperwork used to be a big pain in the butt but it’s much better now. I set up a filing system that makes it easy and painless to file the papers I need to keep and it helps me easily know when it’s time to get rid of things. I also set up autopay and paperless billing for all bills.

    Being outdoors, lots of walking, some gardening, and some writing help clear my mind. Then I can more easily know when I should say No to things that complicate my life too much.

    Of course, I really blew my chance at having a simple life when I had kids. And now that some of those kids have kids, I might as well throw in the towel now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I went through an obsessive five week streak of de-cluttering ever closet, file cabinet, drawer and cupboard. I thought this was to further simplify my life, but it was really just activity to have something productive to do.


    2. just tell those little twits to go get grandma a bottle of wine. put em to work weeding the garden and crank up the tunes. be grandma with an attitude. life can be simple.


  12. I didn’t sell my home, but like Steve’s, my life is pretty uncomplicated. Still have stuff to get rid of, and am doing it slowly, but at a steady pace.

    I am committed to only one regular activity that involves other people: my bi-weekly four-hour outing with my friend who suffers from frontotemporal dementia. I want the flexibility to be able to do things, alone or with friends, spontaneously and with short notice.

    Now that spring has arrived, I’ll be spending more time putzing in the garden, and enjoying being outside. My one daily scheduled activity is watching Jeopardy, pretty much everything else gets done when and if I feel like it. If I were any more relaxed, I’d be dead.


        1. Almost anytime, tim. Let me know when you’re in St. Paul, and we can go. It’s best to avoid the place on weekends when it’s absolutely swamped – unless, of course, you want the real Southeast Asian experience!


  13. I was enchanted by the Voluntary Simplicity movement when it either started or was revived in the early 1990s; unfortunately, it was quickly co-opted by corporate interests (cf “Real Simplicity” magazine) and devolved into either an organizational strategy or personal-finance scheme. I’ve held onto a handful of the books and some of the ideals ever since. On the way I’ve learned that “simple” is different to different people (one person buys her clothes at Goodwill, another sews herself a wardrobe), and however simple something might be, there’s always a way to make it expensive, complicated, and status-seeking (biking being a good case in point).

    I think the biggest simplification was going to work downtown and ending my long automobile commutes. That was a win for my poor old car, my stress levels, my finances, and the environment all in one stroke. I’ve done other stuff to try to simplify my life: cutting my own hair, paring down my wardrobe, going the “no-poo” route by washing my hair with baking soda (also a fantastic deodorant!), and so on. Some simplifications were not voluntary at all,such as when some friends, with whom I used to go out a lot, shut me out of their lives last year (on the plus side, that has saved me quite a lot of money, so yay). Still, cutting back so drastically on driving is probably the biggest and best change so far. When my car finally expires, I will not be replacing her, unless it’s with a Car2Go membership, a cargo trike, or both.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Daughter and s-i-l watch all the Tiny House shows. Mr. Tuxedo plans to be a program-writing lawyer and live in a tiny house.


    1. i have a guy in my breakfast group who is a program writing lawyer (like screen play and tv plot writer kind of program writed not a coding developer. ill bet mr tuxedo is thinking geek not playwright huh?

      tiny house is one of my projects for hotel pods. fell in love with the concept in alaska


        1. code is incredible. he may look at edx. free college level courses. i wouldnt be surprised if he is ready for it way sooner than college age. he may be able to look at soe of the intor stuff now. he may be able to look at some of the advanced stuff now. i know how those brains work.


    1. i failed at one time or another ( a couple on a regular basis) to fail each of these. you are right at one time or another correct on each. at one time or another you gotta do the other though. you just gotta

      Liked by 1 person

  15. If my life was any “simpler”, I’d be catatonic. Seriously. Because of this reality, I’m forced to make up drama and stories -which I’m pretty skilled at. It’s amazing how much trouble I can make up just sitting on my couch.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Gardening doesn’t simplify my life. It makes it complex and gives me lots of work, but I love it. Mike the cement guy and his crew are going to arrive sometime this week to take out some superfluous sidewalk and pour new front steps and repair other side walk. Then we will have more garden space in the front for all the pepper plants we started. We simplify in some ways by having the TV in the basement so we don’t watch. Children in their 20’s make one’s life complex, too. Daughter’s car claim has been sent to the “total loss” department.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you are whittleing away at that yard just like you said you would. im thinking thee is some calcium residue or something left where concrete used to be. you may want to look into bringing in some of that red river black dirt. garden is morphing… children make life complex. 20s is just that version.
      my car totaled at her age at 1200 dollars. life has moved one decimal place i believe.
      that may be the secet to life in the slow lane. move a decimal place


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