I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 126 - By the Side of the Road

Daily Kup (My Life as a Gainfully Unemployed Person)
Our big project today was getting Attila the Son and Princess Potatohead ready for a week-long visit with Grandma and Grandma at their vacation timeshare in the Wisconsin Dells. As an explanation for non-Midwesterners, the Dells is a homegrown tourist area complete with duckboat rides, mini-golf, and tens of water parks each claiming to be the world's largest. There is a fudge shop about every fifteen feet. In short, it's great fun.

We're kind of worried that, with the kids gone, we'll actually have to talk with each other. This could be challenging but -- hey, who knows? -- it might even catch on.

Odd Little Beans
On the way to the rendezvous point with Grandma, there is an intriguing display. On the west side of Highway 52 just south of the small city of Coates sits a unique sculpture garden on the side yard of a trucking firm. I have passed this site for years and marveled at the strength of the images. At first, it looks like an explosion of rocks and hardware in a strange farmyard. The reward is in the closer examination.

The individual sculptures deserve a closer look. There's something about these hunks of metal that speaks to the twin sides of experience. The materials are rough and rusted, thoroughly grounded in boulders and thick iron bars, but then the metallic projections in the sky are light, airy and fanciful. Many of the pieces are whimsical but some -- like the arm bursting from the safe -- portray a struggle to escape. Some of the metal pieces bear the marks of their former lives as plow blades and farm equipment and yet they have been freed to be the dragons that were lying below the surface.

My old friend, the Internet, let me down. I now know more about the tiny city of Coates than a human being should but can find no mention of the artist/industrial welder who took scrap metal and gave it life and attitude. (Note for the future: The bar called the House of Coates is said to have the best hamburgers in the Twin Cities area. Next time through, maybe I'll stop for a burger and see if a chatty local can give me the background on the small town's third most eye-catching roadside display -- after the restaurant and the bright pink defunct strip club.)

Wherever these sculptures came from, noticing them at the side of the road is like doing the laundry and finding a five dollar bill left in a pocket. There's a wonderful website devoted to these big and little patches of idiosyncrasy and wonder: RoadsideAmerica.com. One of the nicest site features is Map-A-City; enter your location and get a pushpin studded map showing all the attractions in your area. I was surprised and delighted by how many were within reasonable driving distance of my house. Now that I've seen the Big Ball of Twine, the Grain Belt Bottle Cap, and the cherry on the spoon, can Tiny Tim's grave be far behind? (Before you scoff, the first three items mentioned are actually very BIG, so don't pooh-pooh a nine-ton ball of twine. And Tiny Tim died in front of an audience while playing "Tiptoe through the Tulips," so you've got to give him some props for dedication.)

If we could each grant the world a little display of whimsy and creativity along the side of the road, no matter how small or exotic, it would have to be an improvement. Happy driving!


Corsair, The Mostly Harmless said...


Roadside America has this little gem fairly close to me:

12.) Cabelas. Dead animals in a big store. Sums it up, I suppose.

When our little Peanut was a smallish version of herself, she just referred to it as, "The Tent Store."

Burning Khrome said...

I was a little surprised to see a commercial store on the list of roadside oddities. I had heard people speak of Cabelas as a vacation destination in the same breath with lighthouses, so I stopped one day and found, as you say, a hunting goods store with a lot of taxidermy. I guess it's a matter of time and perspective. A few years later, we took the kids to the Cabelas in Rogers and they still talk about it. They loved the huge aquariums and the "zoo" of unnaturally still animals. They think Cabelas is like the U of M's Bell Museum, except with a diner and some camo clothing.

During our visit, T was wearing his camo pants and that god-awful Hawaiian shirt that makes us not walk near him when people are around. He got far enough away that he blended in with the racks of hunting clothing and I nearly had to have him paged. The only other time that he's matched his surroundings like that was at the Star Trek convention.

Corsair, The Mostly Harmless said...

When we lived in Colorado, stopping at the original Cabelas used to be the one redeeming feature of having to drive end to end through Nebraska. Now that they are popping up all over, and Strategic Air Command is closed, I'm not really sure what purpose Nebraska serves..

Burning Khrome said...

Nebraska ... homeland of Johnny Carson and any sitcom character who is supposed to be naive.

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