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  • Photo of The Middlewesterner by Dave Bonta

(c) 2004-2008
Tom Montag


June 2008

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  • The endowments and the foundations won't, but you can help support my long-term exploration of the middle west, Vagabond In the Middle. Any donation to help defray expenses will be appreciated. Send to Tom Montag at: PO Box 8, Fairwater, WI 53931.


    "shelf life of prune juice" - The Middlewesterner

  • "elko + bar + bathroom + girlfriend" - Creek Running North
  • "what does a mole on the palm of the hand mean?" - Mole
  • "biro, slowly watching memory" - frizzyLogic
  • "pictures of someone who looks forgotten" - Blaugustine
  • "emily dickinson's address" - alembic
  • "heterosexual woman becomes lesbian in midlife" - Velveteen Rabbi
  • "if lost return to" - Slow Reads
  • "village voice newspaper headline when andy warhol died in 1987 village voice headline is god dead is god dead" - Marja-Leena
  • "I have no head" - Under a bell
  • "what can we do about privilege?" - Feathers of Hope
  • "stigmata montreal women" - Cassandra Pages
  • "Aztec sacrificial victims" - 3rd House Party
  • "ugliest woman ever" – Fishbucket
  • "prime number farting" - The Middlewesterner
  • "sasquatch beauty barn" - Via Negativa
  • "I have what looks like small pieces of bird seed in human feces my feces." - Nuthatch
  • "signs your girlfriend is not happy" - The Middlewesterner
  • "real tribe potion to become Immune to fire" - susannagig-jig
  • "does god blink" - The Middlewesterner
  • "Sleeping ovaries" - Find Me a Bluebird
  • "People find me offensive poem" - Find Me a Bluebird
  • "girlfriend taming" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked librarians from north dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "signs a girlfriend is about to walk out" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked girls at prayer" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does 'behind the barn' mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "basho farting" - The Middlewesterner
  • "white conic body lotion" - Mole
  • "what specifically is the emerald mole?" - Mole
  • "how to impress a tomboy girl" - The Middlewesterner
  • "ripon cookies for bear bait" - The Middlewesterner
  • "people who think they are cats" - The Middlewesterner
  • "crows and fog omen" - The Middlewesterner
  • "when you are walking in the spirit what does heat mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how to be more socialable" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does making hay mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does it mean to call someone an iowa farm boy" - The Middlewesterner
  • "What does it mean when there are 2-3 crows in your yard and you don't have a corn field?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "tomboy addiction" - The Middlewesterner
  • gunmetal tulle - findmeabluebird
  • mucho bonito senorita translation - findmeabluebird
  • "swollen rash" diagnosis - findmeabluebird
  • how to keep a kid occupied when sick and in bed - findmeabluebird
  • moose bums - findmeabluebird
  • uninterlaced - findmeabluebird
  • "red squirrels castrating grey squirrels" - The Middlewesterner
  • "short poems to impress a girl" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what is an important food crop in middlewest?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "the reason the elements of the writing process are important to poetry" - The Middlewesterner
  • "wallpaper, poet" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how to be a vagabond" - The Middlewesterner
  • "my jock strap hearts how can i fix it" - The Middlewesterner
  • "How do Hutterite deliver babies " - The Middlewesterner
  • "shelling corn slang" - The Middlewesterner
  • "lady of guadalupe as vagina symbol" - The Middlewesterner
  • "will the leaves still be on the trees October 21, 2006 in Davenport, Iowa?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "driving time between seydisfjordur and skaftafell" - The Middlewesterner
  • "impress a girl from north dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how do tigers get born?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "jesus nude girls" - The Middlewesterner
  • "falling in love with a midwesterner" - The Middlewesterner
  • "shanties with cadillacs" - The Middlewesterner
  • "middle road sermon" - The Middlewesterner
  • "ephemeral as the summer fly" - Chatoyance
  • "how to paint ghost flames" - Chatoyance
  • "wine of cardui" - chatoyance
  • "kevlar bridal dresses" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "how to scold boyfriend" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "how to find your true self" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "it goes around the sun 4 times a year" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "how long does it take for a sprinter to regain his speed after a grade 1 hamstring tear" - The Middlewesterner
  • "understanding why crows like you" - The Middlewesterner
  • "customs and culture of the middlewest region of the United States" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked girl in a pile of money" - The Middlewesterner
  • "dakota tom sandwich" - The Middlewesterner
  • "things to do in Middlewest US" - The Middlewesterner
  • "nebraska christian music thunderstorm" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked girls performing prayer photos" - The Middlewesterner
  • "metaphysical stores in Davenport Iowa" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does 'worthless as tits on a boar' mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what is silo liquid and why does it make the cats sick?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "names of the dinosaurs that live in water or pictures naked women" - The Middlewesterner
  • "alien + pigs + north + dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "poems for football players girlfriend" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does 'making hay' mean?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how do cows eat cabbage in south dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does a skunk mean in a dream" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does the mole on the buddha mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "hutterite bra" - The Middlewesterner
  • "when to planet vandalia onions" - The Middlewesterner
  • "The Republicans have been painting an unattractive portrait of Democrats roasting young children on a spit in the Capitol rotunda and what not" - The Middlewesterner
  • "kewpie doll karl rove" - The Middlewesterner
  • "Real photos of Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus and a story how Mary got her baby, Jesus removed out of her stomach" - The Middlewesterner
  • "fog barn stillness beauty poetry" - The Middlewesterner
  • "redneck outhouse poems" - The Middlewesterner
  • "haiku farting basho horse" - The Middlewesterner
  • "signs that i'm a heroin addict" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how do you know if your ankle is sprung" - The Middlewesterner
  • "translations from spanish to english giving opinions about the preservation of wild cats in South America" - The Middlewesterner
  • "stealth bomber information" - The Middlewesterner
  • "emily dickinson with cowboy hat" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what causes bossy girlfriends" - The Middlewesterner
  • "owl hitting a windshield and meaning" - The Middlewesterner
  • "long arm handling gloves cat" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does a rendering plant smell like?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "potion to become a superhero" - The Middlewesterner
  • "fried egg symbols of lesbianism" - The Middlewesterner
  • "when you are sixty years old should you move back to cold weather in michigan?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "learn poetry to impress a woman" - The Middlewesterner
  • "if you were asked to teach a character education program with which you found fault, what would you do?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "tractors porn" - The Middlewesterner
  • "does black or dark nail polish on a woman mean anything" - The Middlewesterner
  • "keeping warm in north dakota" - The Middlewesterner
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July 01, 2005



"we know where home is, and we hold to it tight" - wonderful wise words to finish off a great saga, Tom. I have truly enjoyed it as it call up some Finnish traits and some similar foods and the love of simplicity and isolation. I am sorry to see it come to an end. But I sense it has left some permanent marks on your soul - the best kind of journey, hmm?


Thanks for taking us along, Tom. I've enjoyed seeing the land of the sagas (as it mostly is for me) through your eyes. In this context, I think maybe it would be appropriate to recall what that term *saga* originally denoted: a generational narrative, told in a highly naturalistic style with an eye to remembering what happened where. All the sagas I've read involve travel and intense evocations of place - just like this one. I'll bet that the writing of this narrative helped reconcile you to the fact that you had to leave, had to return to the middle of a vast continent.

Tom Montag

M-L, thanks so much for your good words. Yes, the best journeys take you, you don't take them. Certainly I realized that if that boy playing basketball in the school yard at Raufarhofn, the northernmost town in Iceland, his stocking cap pulled down tight, could be "home," we all have a chance of finding ours. Like yours, mine involves some dab of simplicity and isolation too.

Tom Montag

You know, Dave, I have to write in order to see what I think. And keeping this journal helped me to process what I was seeing and experiencing; helped me to take in the place itself, to come to some kind of understanding of it. Admittedly it's a long ways from Fairwater in Wisconsin, to Modrudalur in Iceland, yet the journal serves as a kind of "wormhole" that allows me to go back immediately and intensely. Or maybe I should say it allowed me to bring back a big chunk of Iceland with me. In any case, I always have a nagging sense of incompleteness unless I write of my journeys. The hard part is to keep a record that is interesting and useful to anyone else. That has always been a challenge, and I feel pretty good about how I succeeded in that regard here.

And now I know why it has felt like I haven't been getting anything else done: altogether the journal comes to about 30,000 words, which is 3/4 of a fricking book! What was I thinking???


"I have to write in order to see what I think." Me too! Especially when travelling. Of course, most of my travel posts have been based on short trips, so I've been able to condense the experience into just one or two posts (well, except for the latest trip, to West Virginia - which came to feel like a kind of accidental pilgrimage half-way through).

"What was I thinking???" I don't know, but it made a very satisfying addition to this blog. It's interesting that sometimes what succeeds as a series of blog posts might not work as a book - and vice versa. (I think I have some experience with the "vice versa," now.)


One of the reasons "journeys" make great blog entries is because they unfold bits and pieces of the trip and insights daily (just like they do for the people who are actually experiencing it). Those of us who are readers of blog journeys keep coming back to discover what will be next (just like the adventurer seeks to move forward in the journey to see what he/she can discover the next day).

Reading a book is different. The reader is in control how much the person will digest in a day's reading, whereas, the blog writer has the control how much a reader will take in daily.

Thanks for the journey to Iceland, Tom. It's probably the only trip I'll get to make there. It was a great trip. Your pen captured it well.


Tom Montag

Dave, re. your comment that "It's interesting that sometimes what succeeds as a series of blog posts might not work as a book - and vice versa," I think it's a wonder that journals (somewhat akin to blog entries, I suppose) ever make good books, but sometimes they do. I'm thinking of May Sarton's JOURNAL OF A SOLITUDE, which I read recently and really admire. Whether a batch of blog entries would make a book, I guess, is a question of whether the whole is more than the sum of its parts. If the answer is yes, then it would make a book. My journal of the Iceland trip would need re-writing even to be included in a book of essays, I think.

Tom Montag

Hi, Linda--that's an interesting insight re. the blogger being able to control how much of a story the reader can take in at any one time. That's true at least for initial publication. Someone coming at the archives could read straight through if he or she wished. Mostly, though, I think blogs get looked at in the very minutest bits by people Googling for very specific information, which adds an element to the reader/writer equation I wasn't previously familiar with.

I have a strong preference for reading journals, and it may be because, as you say, you learn the parts of the story just as the writer does. The journal is one of the narrative forms in which the first-person narrator can actually be dead by the end; the letter form is another such. They don't have to "live to tell the story" because they have already told the story.

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