Monthly Archives: October 2010

Behind the woodshed…

A tough morning for Ellen's adoptive dog Henry. Hey, I'm with you, pal.

I have had an epiphany.  Actually, the light bulb came on in the half hour I was taken behind the woodshed for a good old fashioned ass kicking.  But no writer has deserved the punishment more.

Administering this private flogging was my friend Betsy who, thankfully, had the nerve to tell me A) the letters to Ellen and Reid are too shallow, B) the letters sent to my mom should be segregated in a different space, perhaps a different blog, C) there are too many rants against technology on this space and instead I should delve more into what is written to Ellen and Reid and why.  None of her criticisms stung in the slightest; I think she was spot on yet her counsel was in part self serving.  If she was going to spend her precious time to read the blog and the letters, she wanted content worth reading.

This reaches well beyond this blog to the core of the letters themselves.  Because Betsy has seen the letters over time (this is the 125th post) – each with one or more letters on display – she spotted what you may have noted, too; a disturbing trend of short paragraphs about the same things over and over again.  The weather.  Tomatoes.  The bike.  Golf.  Why not, she said, open up about losing my first job ever (at the age of 60) and how it shook me to my core?  And that’s just the tip of the topic iceberg.

Betsy thinks I don’t give the kids enough credit for being adults who want to see a deeper side of their father.  I couldn’t agree more.  The letters hadn’t matured as the kids grew.  Why or how it took hundreds of letters until the deficiencies were uncovered might seem a mystery.  Yet even as she began to outline her case, the points she raised were no strangers to me.  Most had already crossed my mind through the years.

So I’ll pay a long overdue visit to the drawing board.  It may not be wholesale change but there will be change.  Will it mean tossing aside an approach that has worked (or has it?  Do Ellen and Reid share Betsy’s view?) on upwards of 500 letters ?  Could be.  I am about to find out if there is a middle ground.


Of course, Betsy’s comments about depth do not apply to letters to my mom.  Here is today’s letter to her.  Betsy did point out that the letters to my mother (along with prior letters to my mother and father when he was alive) don’t necessarily fit a blog about letters to children.  She suggests parental letters be housed in a whole new blog.  I’ll toss that one around.

October 29, 2010

Mom: They have put me in a new job at work and if I didn’t feel pressure before, I sure feel it now.  But hard work never hurt anybody, least of all me.  I’m glad for the challenge and its fun.

I see from the weather than you’ve had your first cold snap and frost.  That’s really pretty late for you guys up North.  We haven’t even sniffed a day in the 30s just yet but it appears we’re in for that sometime in the next week.  The Indian Summer here has been just glorious.  The weather couldn’t be any better than it is right now.  Lots of people here locally say this is their favorite time of year.  As for me, I like April and May.  That’s the best time.

I’m starting to see a few more deer begin to move around the neighborhood.  They have to learn how to dodge cars if they’re going to survive.  I don’t think the deer grow quite as large as they do in Nebraska but there sure are a lot of hunters around here.  There’s a lot of forest area around Charlotte and the Carolinas so there’s no shortage of spots to shoot a gun.  They hunt a lot of quail down here, too.  My shotgun is with Ellen’s husband Tim up in Minnesota.  I don’t want to hunt down here.

I’m supposed to play golf on Sunday, but if you saw my real swing on the course you would be disgusted.  It’s really bad, and it makes me not like golf very much.  It’s been such a big part of my recreational activity for so long that it’s kind of hard to think about giving it up, but I am.  I’ve been doing a lot of walking these days and that’s almost enough workout for me.

Your other son says you went to the dentist the other day and things went pretty well.  He says you have some more dental work ahead of you, and he’ll do a pretty good job of keeping me up to speed on how things are going.

Tomorrow Nebraska plays Missouri in football in Lincoln.  I’ll videotape the game and if the Big Red wins, I’ll watch it.  By the time this letter reaches you, you’ll already know if they won, too.  They’re doing about as well as can be expected.

Reid was in San Francisco last week and he seems to have had a good time.  He likes Chicago a lot but it wouldn’t surprise me if didn’t think hard about moving out to California.  But it’s so expensive to live out there.

Well, that’s enough for today.  I’ve got to put my nose back to the grindstone, but watch for another call real soon.  And keep that fleece on because winter is coming.


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What about moms?…

Reid on the beach at Hilton Head. Cook, digital ad guru, bicyclist, backpacker. All around good kid (most of the time).

Yeah, what about moms?

Sure, the word “dad” has been used frequently here when in reality it is synonymous with “parent.”  I’ve not intentionally excluded moms since they have a high-level stake in this, too.

The educated guess is each parent communicates in their own way and style.  Perhaps a take-charge type will prepare something on behalf of mom and dad.  (But I’ve been wrong so many times before, and that’s why you should never put any faith my weather forecasts or my picks for stocks or pro sports.)  If nothing else, it’s table fare for dinnertime conversations.  How couples accomplish this is something of a mystery to me since I’m a single dad.

But there’s no overt intent to denegrade the stay-in-touch capabilities of moms.  A further educated guess is they are somewhat more attuned to make contact.  It might be their instinctive nature.  The point being, however, that parental title is really of no matter.  It’s all about the doing.


Seeing how it’s nearly Halloween, we’ll reach into the bag of tricks for an older letter to the Dynamic Duo.

Oct. 16, 2006

EB/Reid: Charlotte was not ready for Uncle Ralph.  Once again, he has proven beyond doubt that there is no one on the face of the earth that he cannot talk to and cannot talk to at length.  From our Saturday lunch where he struck up a conversation with our waitress to a dinner at a co-workers house last night, he dominated the verbiage from start to finish.  But that’s what makes him.  When he gets nervous or excited, he talks.  Nothing deters him from talking.  That’s just the way it is.  It was so funny to have him around here because he just won’t settle down.  We saw the town, watched a couple of games Saturday night at a sports bar – he called Aunt Gayle every 30 minutes for updates on the Nebraska-Kansas State game because it wasn’t on TV – moved furniture around and did errands, worked out twice, and went out for breakfast.  Your cousins, Andy and Joe, are doing pretty well.  As you could guess, Ralph is all excited about the grandchild.  And he misses you guys and asked exhaustively how you’re doing.

The house is slowly coming to order.  Slowly.  No furniture has been delivered yet, as the trees they planted to make the furniture have yet to mature and be harvested, kiln dried then cut and sawn into furniture.  That’s how slow that is.  And the satellite TV won’t be installed until today.  It just killed Ralph to not have TV to watch sports on.  Just killed him.  I’ve got stuff, clothing, strewn everywhere with no place to go until the dressers arrive.  Can’t wait for those.  Actually, the bedroom furniture is in town at the warehouse, so hopefully – knock on wood – it will be here this week.  The guestroom and office are pretty much done except for artwork.  They have a swell Habitat for Humanity store that sells donated furniture, and I snapped up a bunch of really fine lamps, a couple of end tables and 4 different, eclectic chairs for the dining room table.  Now, it’s on to rugs.  It’s really nice to cook with gas.  Makes you feel like a chef.  EB, I have some silverware your grandparents sent, along with those cream colored plates we used to store next to the stove, if you want to take those back with you.  Or, I can ship it to you if you need stuff in a hurry.

Reid, sorry to have cut off your call this morning.  The cell service here is just lousy.  Really want to hear how things are going.  You’re almost halfway through with your stint there.  Can you believe it?  But it all sounds good.

Will take the bike to the Blue Ridge Mountains this Saturday.  It’s about two hours away, and I guess the leaves are just starting to turn.  If the weather holds it should be a beautiful ride.  Really glad to have the bike out, but when it rumbles through my town home development, it’s almost like riding through a canyon of walls, so it must disturb the neighbors.  It’s not like I’m revving it up.  The weather here has been lovely of late, cool and crisp but not overly cold like you’d find in Des Moines.  The days have been just wonderful.

Extended the olive branch to the C____________’s in that Jeff is more than welcome to come down here to explore job possibilities.  No, wait, didn’t I already tell you guys that?  Never mind.

EB, it will be great to have you and the Timster down here.  There are lots of cuisine and culture possibilities.  I may take off the Thursday you arrive so we can tour the town and area in style.  No doubt will take you to a couple of music spots I’ve frequented, the Double Door (blues) and Evening Muse (varied artists).  Both are a lot of fun.  And, you will make a cameo appearance in the office to say hello to the group.  Well, got to rumble.  Catch you two on the flip flop, as they say in the trucking biz.

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Set the bar low…

People ask what Ellen looks like, so here she is with hubby Tim up to their knees in Wisconsin trout waters.

No doubt some of you – maybe all of you – have rolled your eyes at some of the sub-trivial fluff I foist on the kids and other unwitting recipients.

I don’t hold myself in very high regard as a writer.  What comes out, comes out.

My dire self assessment aside, the goal has never been to set the bar high as high art.  Instead, my goal is really to stay out of my own way and just get the letters out the door on the appointed day.  To achieve “high art’ is not in my meager skill sets.   It would seem to imply that art supersedes the doing and that the writer’s sense of self-importance surpasses the expectation(s) of the recipient(s).  In neither case is that true.   High art also takes time, suitable inspiration and untold revisions, all of which further implies a pursuit of creative perfection which, if you’ve read my onslaught of letters, is in no danger of being eclipsed.

I’ve set the bar low and am pretty much content with such lowness.  Some days might be higher than others, but not by much.


The Charlotte Observer ran my first column this weekend.  As my age will attest, my beat will be narrowly focused.


Here is last Monday’s letter to Ellen and Reid.

October 18, 2010

Ellen/Reid: Ellen, what is this with your car windows being smashed?  I thought your little neighborhood was relatively immune to such nonsense.  What a way to start your Sunday morning.  Was the car in the garage or on the street (Tim’s new rig is likely in the garage, isn’t it?)?  Just make sure you keep stuff out of sight since that’s how most of these car-invading hooligans decide to break in to your car instead of others.

My weekend was far less adventuresome than yours.  Felicia and I rode to Maggie Valley, NC in search of the ‘Wheels Through Time’ museum of ancient Harleys.  It was wonderful, and I’d go again in a heartbeat, but the real star of the trip was the trek through the mountains.  The leaves and the scenery were incredible and the traffic was nil.  That’s quite a change from my last leaf-looking trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway a couple of years ago.  This went through canopied twisty roads alongside streams, and you can tell Tim we saw lots of fly fisherpeople all along the route, and secretly, I wish I’d been among them.  The route took us northwest out of picturesque Hendersonville, NC west on state road 64 and then a right turn onto state road 276.  One of the best roads ever for riding.  The museum was just a scream.  I’d guess the guy had 100+ old Harleys and Indians and other makes strewn all over the place.  But half the fun is looking at the old memorabilia such as newspaper clippings, posters, letters, and other assorted stuff.  It was just a lot of fun.  It was a cold ride in the morning but got nicer as the day went along.  Had BBQ in Maggie Valley at some place called Butts on the Creek.  It was pretty good, not the best, but just pretty good.

Reid, Nebraska choked in the Texas game.  The Big Red came in all hyped up but came out like Little Pink (a name from Bob F____________).  On the ride I was kicking myself for not recording the game but in hindsight it was a good thing.  Your uncle must’ve been a basket case at the game.  He would’ve been beside himself, and I pity the poor person sitting next to him, in front of him and behind him.  Your grandfather probably rotated in his grave.

My lengthy interview last week has gone for naught.  I made the second cut but not the third.  In most interviews you typically rue making comments you wish you wouldn’t have made and that was true in this case.  I had nosed around with people about their impressions of _______, and was trying to relate that their views didn’t necessarily mesh with what I’d learned about the firm.  I just didn’t communicate that very well to the person who mattered most.  I inadvertently irked the hiring manager and it was instantly apparent that I was out the door – and I still have five other people to talk to.  But that’s just the way it goes, although it was a firm I would’ve liked to get to know a little better.

But things are going along as well as could be expected here at the bank.  I like the new situation, and while it’s just a temporary layover to whatever is next, it’s a daunting task.  The technical aspect of legal letter writing is overwhelming.  You really have to be on point and organized to orchestrate a letter which alternately recognizes the customer’s problem but doesn’t do anything to further irritate them.  They’re likely irritated enough already.  But it’s a challenge and that’s okay.

No real word from the place where your grandmother is staying.  I’ve been a complete absentee in that I’ve not called her as much as she deserves.  My pre-New Year’s resolution is to begin, this week, to call her 2-3 times each week.  She may not remember the calls but I’ve just been a schmuck on that score.  You guys should write her a note now and then because the staff will read them to her.   Gotta run, but keep your phones on for further text messages.

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A public display of private affection…

Today's letter to mom before it was tucked into the envelope. Some aren't sure if letters to her are worthwhile. Not me. If a letter gives her a few minutes of enjoyment, what's wrong with that?

A blog is an odd beast.  It is an open book to whatever the topic is.  Although mine has yet to catch on with the masses, in theory this post could make its way around the globe in the time it would take you to read this whole shebang.  Maybe faster.

What is doubly weird is that this blog is all about what would be, under most normal circumstances, a highly private matter – the personal correspondence between a father and his children.  But here they are, reams of letters, for all to see.

As it has occured to others, how do I reconcile a public display of private affection that others can see, too?  That is a fairly pointed, but fair, question.

I guess the short answer – you will be spared the long version – is that this whole exercise is an object lesson on how one dad goes about the business of family business.  By necessity, you ought to see what the hell I’m talking about in the most graphic of terms – the literal pages themselves.  I’m not above slicing out paragraphs that are solely intended for Ellen and Reid only.  I’ve done so with regularity.  You see most of the dirty laundry but not the whole washer load.  That might change, but not right now.


Bridger update: The list of tentatives continues to grow.  If everyone went who has voiced an interest, we’d be at 10 right now.  I’m going to do two things: there is a rustic ranch B&B on the outskirts of Pinedale that will provide affordable rooms the night(s) before the trip.  They might also help arrange pack animals (horses or llamas) but I do not know the pricing.


My brother thinks my letters to my mother are a waste of time.  The staff at her facility don’t think she grasps everything.  But she doesn’t have to grasp it all.  She just has to grasp a few things.  So, I will continue sending a Friday letter to my mother.  Here is today’s letter to her.

October 22, 2010

Mom: We are smack in the middle of Indian summer here.  The weather has been glorious.  Not too hot, not too humid, just right.  I see that the weather in Grand Island is pretty good, too.

Man, Nebraska really got taken to the cleaners by Texas.  I thought for sure that was a game the Big Red would win in a cakewalk.  But nothing should surprise us any more about that team.

Ralph says you’re doing pretty well these days.  That is good to hear.  And it was good to talk to you the other day.  I need to do a better job of calling you.  I promise to do better.

Been riding the Harley a lot.  It’s much more fun to ride when the weather is cool but not rainy.  Rode through the mountains last weekend and it was very pretty.  The leaves are changing and the mountain streams looked clear and cold.  There was not as much traffic on the roads as I thought there might be.  That made for pretty good riding.

I have to admit to having ice cream these last few days.  I went to the grocery store the other night and made a trip down the ice cream aisle.  They had some on sale and I wilted.  It makes me feel guilty to eat it but it sure tastes good.  It’s all gone now.  Urp.

Now that it’s cooling down around here it’s time to begin to bake bread again.  My house just gets too hot when the oven is on during the warmer days.  But with the temperatures cooling it makes the kitchen that much more comfortable for baking.  I should send you a loaf or two.

Looks like I will be in Minneapolis for Thanksgiving to see both Ellen and Reid.  My plane ticket was bought this week and I’m really excited about going.  Ellen has already told me that I’ll be the chief cook for the weekend and Reid wants to help with the cooking, too.  He’s pretty good around the pots and pans.  Ellen isn’t much of a beef lover so it will be turkey the entire time, although her main request is for me to make breakfasts.  It’ll be pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon.  Her husband Tim can eat like a horse, as can Reid, so there will be no shortage of food.  I’m glad you will be in Ralph and Gayle’s house for the holiday.  Maybe there is a chance Joe will get out there, too.

Things are going fine at work.  Busy and hectic, but there’s nothing new about that.  I like what I’m doing these days but there’s a lot of it to do.  You be good, stay warm, and watch for another phone call real soon.

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Being different…

Bryan's "designer" cast. He has limited sympathy for Bob's texting injury.

A friend of mine posted a message a few days ago on my seldom-visited Facebook page about a recent blog post, and I just got around to taking a look at her message today. It was a nice note, and I really appreciate Jane’s concern and support.

My tardiness could mean one of several things; A) I err by expecting others to instantly read my posts yet can’t take the time to read the messages of others, B) I don’t spend much time roaming the Facebook landscape and C) Facebook doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me.  I hope ‘A’ isn’t entirely true, but I think ‘B’ and ‘C’ hold smidgens of truth.

Make no mistake, I am a gnat bite on the globe-sized entity that is Facebook.  Part of my reluctance relates to time; recently, a local mother made news when she banned her teen daughter from Facebook for a week.  The young girl claimed withdrawal symptoms from her four to six hour a day Facebook habit.

Bob sports his real cast. Empathy, let alone sympathy, have been hard to come by.

It’s hard to spend one hour, let alone the young woman’s four to six hours, on anything every single day.  Sure, I like to know what people are up to but there is an intimacy that is missing online.  At least my obsessing with letters can be measured in minutes, not hours.  Perhaps it’s my way of being different.


Bridger update: Two more inquiries have come in.  The able-bodied Reid looks to be on board, too.  FYI…airfares from Charlotte to Denver appear to be in the $430 range, and $528 round trip to Jackson Hole.  Denver is a sturdy but esthetically pleasing 5-6 hour drive to Pinedale, WY while Jackson Hole is roughly two hours.


October 11, 2010

Ellen/Reid: Well, it seems I’m in danger of becoming one of “them.”  By them, I mean a Southerner.  Because in the last few weeks, I’ve cooked okra twice (it’s pretty good) and also fixed up a mess of fried green tomatoes (also better than you might think), finally got a North Carolina license plate for the Harley, watched some NASCAR (just a few minutes), and while tooling around on the bike stopped by fields for a first hand look at peanuts and cotton.  On one stretch of road saw some tobacco over yonder but we didn’t stop.  I don’t think anyone down in these parts will ever confuse me for a local but the assimilation is happening as we speak.

I’m starting to learn where towns are like Florence, Laurinburg, Chester and Reidsville.  What I do know after this weekend’s bike ride is that there are no, or hardly any, straight roads in the entire region.  It is as if state road planners dyed a pot of spaghetti and poured it out on a large piece of paper.  Where ever the spaghetti hit the paper was the road scheme.  We rode to Danville, VA on Saturday, and according to Mapquest, the trip was roughly 150 miles.  That’s a shade over two hours at Interstate speed.  But the trip took nearly five hours because, without exaggeration, we took no fewer than 15 different roads to get there.  There weren’t enough bread crumbs to help us follow the path.  I couldn’t replicate it now by memory if I had to.  It was just bizarre.  Felicia and I laid the road maps for North Carolina and Iowa side by side.  It was hilarious.  Iowa was almost totally a grid of north-south, east-west straight lines, while North Carolina was a literal jumble of roads.

I’m going to make my plans for Thanksgiving this week.  Ellen, I will likely get up there on Tuesday because I’m late enough in making plans that all the Wednesday seats are filled.  Part of me would like to drive to get the stink blown off but let me see what the airfares are.  I’m excited to see your refurbished digs and the new furnishings.  Reid and I can handle all the cooking and whatnot.  That will be our role as guests.  Glad to hear you have a touch because mine is where a fair amount of my sleeping is done.

Your uncle did all the work to rid much of your grandparent’s house of stuff this past weekend.  He wasn’t too pleased that I wasn’t there to help him out but as a practical reality it just wasn’t a reality for me to be there.  All of your stuff is in the basement of a friend of mine, Pete Z__________, who was nice enough to hold it until you, or your mom, can get to Omaha to retrieve it.  I e-mailed your mother to see if she could help but she won’t be back in the Midwest until past the middle of December, so we’ll lean on Pete to hold your stuff a little bit longer than we might otherwise want.  Ellen, this includes the china, and Reid, this includes whatever it was you picked after the funeral plus some kitchen stuff Ralph and Gayle thought you might need to stock your new little kitchen.

My cousin Tom was the first to step up and say “yes” to a trip to the Bridger Wilderness at the end of July in 2011.  He’s always been an outdoor guy and the drive isn’t too onerous from his home in Eugene, OR.  It’s closer than Charlotte, that’s for sure.  I’ve got room for 8 to 12 folks so if either of you want to go backpacking…Ellen, you could even bring Henry along for the hike.  He’d love it.

Well, I’m gonna sign off for now as there’s a conference call on tap in about an hour that I have to prep for.  As soon as the T-Day plans are known, you two will be the first to know other than me.

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The most important letter a father can write…

A few days back I sent Reid a letter with my advice and counsel following his nice review with an ad agency superior who is a few rungs up the ladder.

This sort of note is the most important letter a father can write.  It is a true one-off.  I’m not so much lecturing a son as I am talking to a grown man who is on his way.  Whatever path he follows is really of his choosing.  I can only weigh in with what I perceive from a distance and apply the twists and turns from my own experience.  My job is to be supportive and point out the pros and the equally plentiful cons.

In the final analysis, it’s all up to him.  But he should know I’m there for him every step of the way.  He’s gotten this far totally on his own.  He’s fully capable of taking the next steps, too.  With a little nudge from his old man.


October 13, 2010

Reid: I’ve got to hand it to you, that was good news yesterday about your meeting with the upper crust.  You’ve come a long way in not a whole lot of time, and they seem to have a good bit of confidence of what you’re doing for the agency.

I wouldn’t fret too much about the raise.  It is still a raise, and probably in line with what a lot of stressed-out businesses are giving these days.  It could be the opposite, trust me.  You have to put your one-on-one conversation in the context of where you were about this time last year, and it is a great sign of their faith.  As for the promotion, that will probably come in due time.  My guess is that as the economy has failed to perk up let alone motor along, agencies are the first to feel the pinch when companies tighten the purse strings.

You should keep doing what you’re doing with _______: working hard at your day job, yet looking for every opportunity to remind them that you have good skills, that you are ready for whatever next step there is, that you have other things to offer other elements of their business.  They apparently are starting to notice those things, too.  You should be far from panic mode at this moment.  Far from it.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with testing the waters.  From what I know of the PR and ad business, that is the lay of the land.  People move and gravitate to the next best thing.  That is just the way and the reality of that world.  I would be cautious about the come-ons and promotions you get from other hiring firms.  You’ll need to be judicious about who you talk to.  Is there someone outside the firm that you might talk to?  The grass can seem to be awfully green on the other side of the fence but make sure to talk to people before you jump the fence to someone else.  Do your diligence on whoever might hire you.  Are they are strong player in your field?  Do they have the pockets to be a player in advertising?  Is the situation right for you?  What’s the buzz about other shops that you might want to investigate a little more closely?  I suppose that’s where the local ad trade rags might come in handy.  I assume, too, that you read those.  You can read a lot between the lines.  I don’t know if Bruce or Bob have any inside information but it might be worth a shot to call them.

I’m not as keen on a move to NYC unless there is something solid there in terms of income and responsibility.  New York is an expensive town and unless you are pulling in some good bucks and have the right situation for your career, I’m just not sure about it.  But on the other hand, you’re young, you don’t have lots of belongings to move, you’re not married (that I’m aware of) and you can always cut and run for another situation back closer to the heartland.

All things considered, things seem to be moving in the right direction.  You have some options that you didn’t have even a year ago.  I’d endorse looking around if you’ve thought about the current situation and see no other roads that you can take to further yourself.  Hey, a raise is better than nothing.  Just make sure you don’t jump ship until you know you can land safely elsewhere.  I’m proud of what you’ve done and how you’ve done it.

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A beat down on my book…

My friend Bob has reaped what he's sewn. A post-op picture of his swanky new cast, a result of rampant over-texting.

A couple of years ago I spent days, weeks and months on a book manuscript about my years of writing to Ellen and Reid.  It was chock full of helpful advice and tasty tidbits and what I presumed were fatherly witticisms.  A sure-fire best seller, I thought.  Who wouldn’t buy such a gem?

Well, I can name at least three non-purchasers: my former A.P. national editor Norm and my good friends Julie and Jenn.

That’s because when their edited copies came back, I knew the book was DOA.  They put a beat down on the manuscript.  To say they “hammered” the draft puts it mildly.  A lead balloon cannot sink any faster than my deflated hopes for publishing success.  Proving again the old journalistic adage that the greatest joy is editing someone else’s copy, their editing pens probably ran out of ink.

As I look back, of course they were correct.  The book was bad.  The three slice & dicers played their roles perfectly.  Editors are of no use if they pull punches.  The best editors are the harshest.  And this trio was the best of editors.  So much for my grand illusions as a book writer.  Poof.

Yet I remain undeterred.  After an appropriate period of gestation (and for mourning), I have mentally regrouped.  The book will make a U-turn in approach and tone.  The redraft is underway, and per the scribbled notations of Norm, Julie and Jenn,  it will be devoid of the preachy lectures and inanity that drove them batty.  Hell, it drove me batty, too.


Bridger Wilderness update: Our small band of hikers is growing.  Although an asterisk will go by their names, Jill and Troy Aleong* from Charlotte are tentatively on board.  Tom Andersen of Eugene, Oregon is our fourth walker.  The trip is set for the final full week in July, 2011.


Here is the typical Friday letter to my mom.  I hope the staff at her care facility keep reading the notes to her.  They say so, but there’s no real way of knowing.

October 15, 2010

Mom: I literally gave up on dinner last night.  I punted.  It boiled down to pancakes nuked in the microwave and peanut butter.  The peanut butter was on crackers, not the pancakes.  But it was the best I could do with the energy I could muster.  There was a grand plan earlier in the day to grill a burger but the meat stayed frozen and I went for the easiest thing available.  You eat better than I do.

Spend most of last night on my church newsletter.  Been doing it now for a couple of years.  It’s the one smidgen of creative work I do every month and it keeps me occupied and out of trouble although my pastor would beg to differ.  He gives me free reign and that’s fine by me.  It probably takes somewhere in the 20 to 30 hour range every month.  Hope the guy upstairs takes notice.

It has really cooled down.  We’re not in the 30s yet like you guys have been but it is a noticeable drop in temperatures.  Why, I even had to wear a jacket to work the other morning.  This weekend I’ll fire up the bike and head West and I will be sure to wear my leathers to ward off the cold.  It really is a beautiful time of year down this way.  I will avoid the “mountains” because all the leaf watchers will be out by the tens of thousands, clogging up the roadways as they gaze at the trees.  If the bike had a horn, I’d honk those slow pokes out of my way.

Good news for Reid.  He got a raise at his job, and they shuffled him around to give him some new big advertising accounts.  He’s pretty excited about it, and there’s some hope that he might get a real promotion in the not too distant future.  That kid is going to end up being a Chicagoan although he makes noise about moving to New York City every now and then.  As I tell him, kid, you don’t make enough money to visit New York, let alone live there.  But it would be a good time of life for him to be a little adventurous.  Heck, it would give me a reason to venture to New York to see him.

Ellen continues to battle through the educational turmoil.  Her first round of parent-teacher conferences were this week and I’ll be anxious to know how those went.  She must be a really good teacher because she spends a lot of time at the school working on lesson plans and things like that.  She just loves it.  I wish I’d paid a little closer attention to the teachers I had.  They must not have inspired me.

Nebraska is doing pretty well in football.  I know this because all the football experts on TV are saying what a good team they have.  The teams down this way are mostly lousy, especially the pro team (the Carolina Panthers) which has yet to win a game.  They are really, really bad.  El-stinko.  At least I don’t have tickets.  Heck, I don’t even watch it on TV.  Well, I’m gonna wrap things up.  Stay by the phone because I will call you real soon.  Keep eating that ice cream for me.

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