Monthly Archives: May 2012

The 24 hour all Emma news channel

The 24 hour all-Emma news channel is still going full bore.  The channel is dependent on fresh content from our typical insider sources – Ellen and papa Tim sending iPad photos and updates – but the news feed has slowed in the last few days.

This past weekend Reid made an appearance in St. Paul, in part to see his new niece.  As the photo shows, Reid has apparently not found his comfort zone when it comes to holding babies.  He’ll need to master that if he’s ever to be a politician.  Hopefully, his career won’t come to that.

Our weekend was spent camping and trout fishing along the North Mill River near Asheville.  An unwitting and apparently food starved 2.5 lb. brown trout somehow found my poorly cast caddis.  More on that next week.

Reid experiences two firsts in St. Paul: an up-close experience with his niece, Emma, and no doubt receiving off-camera assistance with the fine points of holding a baby. Reid’s dad didn’t fare much better when he first held the little wonder.

But for now all things Emma remains the dominant news in the weekly letters.  It’s amazing, at least to me, to think how the letters have morphed from the the original purpose 11+ years ago (a moment’s worth of light reading when the kids were in college) to today’s more family oriented tinge.  Not to worry, the pendulum will swing to other issues.  But not right now.


May 21, 2012

Ellen/Reid: The calendar shows a 3 day weekend coming up, but who’s noticing?  There seems to be a long stretch between the faux-holidays like President’s Day and now, but it will be good to have a Monday off.  The plan down here is to head to the western side of North Carolina and maybe camp or do a bit of fishing.  The last time we were up there, Felicia saw a fat, shirtless Bubba-type nutcase spying on us from the bank as we were fly fishing.  He was trying to stay low in the underbrush, but we skedaddled out of there in a hurry.  We won’t go to the same spot but there are yahoos like that traipsing through the woods.  We’ll take the car rather than the bike.

Emma is just more adorable by the day.  That iPad is going to come into some good use, Ellen.  The video was just incredible.  She does seem to be filling out her newborn outfits and it’s good to hear that you are getting around better.  It will just take some time.  We still plan to get up that way sometime in July once all the hubbub has gone away a bit.  We will be good visitors and come in Friday and leave on Sunday.  I’m excited to get back up there to see how the little wonder has grown.  I laughed out loud when Tim sent a picture early, early, early Saturday morning of wide-eyed Emma wishing us a good morning.  Momma obviously was still in the sack.  Tim’s a good dad.  I’ve heard a lot of ‘congratulations, grandpa’ from folks in Des Moines; the Fisher-Freeds, Kenyons, Willits, Allens, et all.  The news seems to have spread quickly.

As you may have heard, North Carolina, in the infinite wisdom of our elective, scared-stiff populace, voted in an amendment to our constitution that bars same-sex couples from tying the knot and denies them couple’s benefits.  It’s unfortunate that a state like this, which will defend gun owner and polluter rights to the teeth, even bothers to vote on such a minor issues because it only demonstrates our widespread, pervasive stupidity.  For all its natural beauty, this is a state that time forgot.  I mean, honestly, what does homosexuality have to do with jobs or anti-terrorism or health care or an educated populace?  If I won the lottery, which no doubt I won’t, I would announce an immediate plan to ship my winnings out of state because the state doesn’t deserve to benefit from whatever money I would spend here.  My guess is that the prejudicial vote will hinder economic growth a little, too.  What employer would want to come here only for nice weather and the proximity of the ocean or mountains?  One step forward, three-four steps back.  Maybe more.

Published the 42nd edition of my church newsletter out over the weekend.  It’s online at  The production schedule was hampered this issue by a severe case of writers block.  I mean really severe.  If it weren’t for photos that take up lots of space, you could put the entire written contents on one 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper.  It’s pretty much an under-the-radar effort and literally it comes together at the 11th hour.

Got my ticket for the Bridger last Thursday.  The connections will be uber-tight and since I have two stops on the way out, I may ask FedEx to ship my backpack for me to Jackson Hole.  That way I won’t have to mess with it.  If FedEx will ship golf clubs, they’ll ship a backpack, too.  The attendee totals for the trip are still in a small state of flux, but 4-5 seems pretty reasonable at this stage of the game.  That’s enough to still be fun.  Felicia won’t go for fear of the mosquitoes.

Okay, I’m outta here.  This will be a big week of work and I don’t want to wear out my welcome.  You guys have a good, restful Memorial Day weekend, and I wouldn’t mind it if you reported in to me now and again.


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Back to the old ways…

You were expecting a photo of Emma at the top of the page?  You’ll need to scroll down a bit.

Yes, she is a little sweetie (aren’t all grandchildren?).  That’s why there are no Grandchild USA contests (or at least I’m not aware of any).  No winner would ever be chosen because all the votes would be cast along family lines.

Still, Emma was the centerpiece of last week’s letter to new mom Ellen and her brother Reid. But you will note that the letter a couple of weeks ago truly wasn’t “official” since it was emailed as an attachment due to a printer ink malfunction.  But what the kids received over the weekend had a stamp on the envelope, therefore marking a return to official letter status.  I have gone back to the old ways, thanks to a new black ink cartridge.

Emma: the apple of her gramps’ eye.

As for the photo of Emma, here you go.

Here, too, is the paper letter.  Just say ‘no’ to email attachments.


May 14, 2012

Ellen/Reid: It’s just hard to believe that Emma is almost two weeks old.  It still is all a bit surreal.  She’s just a little peanut, and already her looks seem to be changing.  I can’t wait to see her again because that’s when her growth will really be apparent.  It looks as if the next trip will be the second weekend in July.  We would come on a Friday and leave on Sunday.  I assume Emma will get her first view of the lake July 6-7-8 but you tell me what works best for us to visit.  Felicia’s excited to see her.  It is still amazing that your upstairs renovation project was completed virtually the same day Emma was born.  Talk about fortuitous timing.  Wow.  You couldn’t have scripted it better.  It’s good I lost my April 24 bet.  What a mess that would’ve been.

I’m now paying attention to baby coupons in the Sunday paper so those will be tucked into the envelopes.  Everything about babies is really an industry into itself.  Most of the stuff they advertise in the back pages of the coupon section seems feasible enough but I don’t quite understand why people would buy porcelain statuary of babies and other baby knick-knacks.  Sounds like just another garage sale item to me.  You will not receive anything of the sort from Emma’s grandpa.  Next time I head to the store I’ll pay a little more attention to the baby aisle.  Before you know it, she’ll be walking and talking and all of that.  Just as we marveled at how quickly you two nuts grew, the same will be for your perception of her.  It all just happens in a blur.  Betsy thinks the photos of Emma are adorable and she’s been asking for regular updates so keep any information coming this way.  Your timing is also good, Ellen, in that you’ll be able to stay at home during the normal summer break for teachers.

It’s been raining outside this morning which makes for a good enough day to sit in the office.  Wish it would’ve rained this weekend so I could’ve skipped golf altogether.  I’m so tired of playing poorly.  I couldn’t think my way out of a paper bag on the course if my life depended on it.  It is just so humbling.  Reid, how did your little golf gig come about?  Don’t people camp overnight at the public courses in Chicago just so they can snag a tee time?  Good for you to get out and play.  If some kid came along and offered me $5 for my sticks, I might be tempted.  Felicia is working a lot of overtime, including the weekends, and that puts a crimp into any spontaneous plans to ride or get out of town.

The lettuce pot out front continues to pump out a bumper crop.  That’s been a good dietary diversion.  I’m sorry to report that the Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar that was munching on the sprigs of parsley apparently fell prey to some sort of predator because it was gone within a day or two of me thinking it would continue to grow and eat its way into a pupa or whatever they wrap themselves in before emerging and flitting away.  My little bluebirds, sadly, are gone, too.  When I got home from Minnesota I thought they would have fledged so I went out back to check out the nest.  But there they were, dead.  Not sure what happened.  Stories on the web show parasites are a fairly common cause of death in baby birds.  The parent bluebirds had worked so diligently to keep the little ones fed.  They are nowhere to be seen.  I’ve since cleaned out the nest and let it dry out.  Hopefully some other bird species will find it a good nesting site.   Must be that time of year for baby animals.  Saw a small copperhead the other evening, but it was dead, too, and for no apparent reason.  Must be the way of things.

Okay, over and out for this morning.  Keep sending photos of Emma, and Reid, let me know about your iPad situation.  Glad you are finding uses for yours, Ellen.  Let’s use that live video thingie at some point soon.  Ciao.

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And then came Emma…

Little Emma napping. Already, she and her grandpa share a common interest.

Here I come, a grandfather laden with photos.

There are no bumper stickers or web sites or ballads about Emma.  Due to the surreal nature of this 6 lb., 4 oz. development, the creative department is already behind in product R&D.  No doubt all grandparents consider their grandchildren worthy of a brand name, but I like little Emma just the way she is.  If her fame spreads no further than the thin corridor between her nursery in St. Paul and my place in Charlotte, that’s okay with me.

Emma and grandpa on Emma Day One. She’s a regular little cutie.

There was no letter last week; what appears below is what was sent in the excited run up before Emma’s birth.  One note of disclosure: since my printer was on the fritz, the letter was emailed for the first time since the kids went overseas during college.  Reid called me out on it; “This email business isn’t going to cut it. Please mail next week. :)”

You got it, kid.


May 1, 2012

Ellen/Reid: At breakfast this morning, I watched the bluebirds continuously – every two or three minutes – feed their two or three hungry little offspring in the nesting box.  I can’t quite see the quantity of babies as they jostle and stretch their necks as the parents arrive with food.  It’s relaxing to watch the birds come and go.  Only now do I read that the ‘experts’ advise against affixing a nesting box to trees lest predacious snakes and squirrels zero in on the fledglings as easy meals.  But where else are you supposed to put it?  Well, the birds found it and are using it and that’s what matters.  Three deer wandered through this morning until a couple of yappy Beagles up and scared them away.

Reid, I’m interested in how the job thing is going.  We seem to face some of the same issues in the workplace, and I’ve resolved to let things roll off my back and adopt a little cheerier disposition.  That seems to be making a difference for me.  This has helped since my late-in-life realization that the only controllable thing is me.

Your uncle called yesterday, in part to check on you, Ellen, and it’s the first time we’ve talked in a few weeks.  The final remnants of your grandparent’s basement are being cleared out, and he was interested if I was interested in anything.  About the only item of note to me was your grandfather’s old manual Royal typewriter.  But if the antique came down here, what would I do with it?  It would be left to you guys to deal with at some point so I just let it go.  I recall changing out the ribbons on the thing years and years ago when I was attempting to write high school papers and such.  I’ve had my fill of that clunky old beast.  Hard to believe at the end of next month it will be two years since your grandfather’s passing.  I miss him and think of him often.

My weekend was a hodgepodge of golf and filing papers.  I just got sick of having stacks and stacks of papers lying around, unfiled and unorganized.  My Saturday night was watching baseball and sorting through the stacks over a couple of beers.  All of the stuff isn’t filed as of yet but I’m getting there.  Having a shredder nearby has made a world of difference.  I walked a hilly golf course on Sunday by myself and had a good time, and shot pretty well, if you think 81 is shooting pretty well.

The Bridger trip is coming around a little slower than I’d hoped for.  We have some scheduling issues that we have to work around, and that’s okay.  Trying to herd everyone is just one of the challenges.  I’ll still make the trip, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how many will make it with me.  I’m still hoping for 3-4.  It’s exciting to think about and look forward to.

Ellen, my bags have yet to be packed for the trip north to see my granddaughter (and you guys, too) but once the call comes I’ll book the flight online, shove stuff in a carry on and race out the door.  (Reid, we’ll make similar arrangements for you.)  Betsy and Bob, and Felicia, too, have offered a ride but I’ll probably just motor out to the airport and park it in long term.  My guess is I’ll stay in Minnesota for 3-4 days or until my welcome wears out.  What was it that Ben Franklin said, ‘Guests, like fish, go bad in two days.’  Without Googling it, I think that’s pretty close.  You get the drift.

Alright, time’s up and I’m outta here.  See you guys in pretty short order.  Better make sure my camera batteries are fully charged.


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