Monthly Archives: October 2012

‘WTF?’ is up with stupid people…

October 22, 2012

Ellen/Reid: Got back to basics, at least a little bit on homeowning side of things, this weekend; i.e. procuring another tank of propane for the grill, planting some purple-white-yellow cold-hardy pansies in the front window boxes to add a little color in the winter (makes me feel like I’m still gardening), and tidying up some paperwork although there is much, much more to go in order to make my office habitable.  More time spent at home means less time spent on the golf course and given the putrid state of my game, that’s not altogether a bad thing.

The best part of the weekend is Saturday morning.  While Felicia sleeps in, I rise-and-shine and brew up a fresh pot of French roast coffee and hit the streets about 6:45 with my go-cup.  It’s mostly the lovely sound of quiet except for the chippering song birds and a few joggers and other walkers.  Also with me is a plastic grocery store bag.  This is where I need to come clean with you guys because there must be something about old age where we develop habits that perhaps others don’t want us to develop and you two might think your old man is just a plain nut.  No one would blame you.

This goes back quite a while.  My daily walk is around the block, about two and a half miles.  For a long time I just got increasingly fed up with all the trash and junk that slobs had discarded along the route.  I wanted my walk to be cleaner, not necessarily pristine, but at least presentable.  One day I saw a can or a bottle or some other refuse and just stooped over to pick it up.

Bottom line, I just got tired of walking by other people’s trash. It’s something I could do something about.

I went another 20 yards and picked up something else.  By the end of that walk, my hands were full of litter.  It’s been that way ever since (I don’t take a bag when Felicia and I walk since I’d probably be a total embarrassment to her).  So now, I combine my solo jaunts with bagging up what total Neanderthals  toss out their car windows.  The real enemy is plastic.  Everything – paper, plastic, cans, etc. – all goes into the recycle bin.

But here’s what is really morbid.  Some days I spread my haul out on the back driveway, photograph it and take an inventory of what I scooped up; how much plastic, how much paper, how much ‘other’ and the approximate weight (right now what has been picked up and removed from the environmental chain is probably pushing 1,800 lbs. of stuff).  My hoped-for aim is a blog that would encourage people and kids to take up arms (and hands and bags) against this slobbery.  I just can’t stand the thought of all this trash being washed down into storm drains where the next stop is a river or lake somewhere, and the ocean beyond where plastic bottles and Styrofoam raft up into huge masses of gunk.

People driving down the street look at me like I am just some crazy homeless guy, but there are a few folks who repeatedly see me and thank me for doing the neighborhood a kindness.  It keeps the paths cleaner and makes me feel like I’m contributing toward some good.  But it has developed into its own sort of mania.  In part I wonder what it is we are leaving the Emma’s of the world (and that applies to your kids, too, Reid, when they come to pass).  The sum total is that my paltry effort to keep one route clean is loosely related to the much, much larger concerns of climate change, etc.  What’s truly nuts is there is always trash to be picked up.  Day-after-day.  I always come home with a full bag.  There’s never a day off.  It makes me think ‘WTF?’ is up with stupid people.

The other lunacy this weekend was switching channels when it looked like Nebraska was going to get rolled by Northwestern.  They came back, of course, and now I wear my weak-kneed Cornhusker shame much more than ever happens as I tote around my plastic bags.



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A nice October Saturday in Greenville, SC…

October 15, 2012

Ellen/Reid: I was golfing yesterday with a friend who said this nice weather “is why we live down here,” and he was right.  It was just picture-perfect on Sunday, the golf notwithstanding.  When the skies are blue and the temperatures are mild, it really is a nice place to call home.

The weather was a little colder on Saturday morning when we set off on the Harley to ‘Fall for Greenville’, a street festival in Greenville, SC that the locals said would draw a few hundred thousand over three days.  I don’t care much for South Carolina’s politics, but Greenville and the terrain to get there sure is nice.

Felicia on the main drag in downtown Greenville, SC. during the ‘Fall for Greenville’ festival. South Carolina politics are a turn off for me, but Greenville is a good place to spend a nice Saturday in October. Great ride on S.C. Rte. 11 that skirts the mountains.

Our roundabout route on S.C. Rte. 11 was likely 150 miles to get there.  We rode through some cotton fields and peach orchards and got very close to the mountains, enough to see the leaves begin to turn.  It was chilly even in our leathers but when the sun broke through it was a joy to be on the bike.  The Heritage passed the 48,000 mile mark during the trip.  The festival itself is mostly a food-oriented event and we strolled up and down, mostly people watching, then hit a wine bar for a nice glass of cab and an appetizer.  Then it was on the road again for the 100 miles back to Charlotte.  We’ll return next year, if nothing more than to ride through the countryside.  Good thing we went when we did; the weather is rumbling and raining this morning.

Really starting to get jacked up about the trip to St. Paul for Thanksgiving, and for you, Reid, to get down here for what will be a long Christmas weekend.  I still haven’t planned out what and where we will go, but a good guess is we will probably head toward the ocean somewhere.  Oak Island is the likely landing spot.  There’s a seedy hotel right on the beach next to a fishing pier which will serve us just fine.  We ought to see what’s biting during that weekend, don’t you think?  I will make arrangements.  Who cares what we catch, as long as we catch something.  It would be great to bring home to CLT and Chicago a few filets of edible fish.

The cleaners are here this morning tending to the details I don’t tend to.  They do a nice job, a couple of Hispanic women who really work hard at it.  Betsy gave me their names.  Their monthly stop here is the best $100 I spend.  Not that I don’t keep up, but it’s nice to have their finishing touches, if you know what I mean.  Ellen, I still need to hear how the episode with your cleaners came out.  Bookkeeping is apparently not their thing.  Mine, either.

Watched the hairy video the guy free fall from 128,000 feet and break the sound barrier en route.  He must have noogies the size of basketballs.  That is one hell of a feat.  To get into a balloon let alone jump out of one at a height where you see the curvature of earth is absolutely amazing.  That wouldn’t be for me.

All the pork, sausage, steaks and other dietary stuff that should go off our diet was bagged up this past Sunday and toted over to Caldwell to go into the freezer for the Sunday breakfasts the church prepares for 50 or so homeless women who live in one of the church’s buildings.  It was a win-win for both sides.  It felt good to follow through on the threat to make a culinary change.

I find all the political news depressing.  Not much civility anymore in any of the races.  A woman at Caldwell, Jennifer Roberts, is running for Congress and I fear she’s going to get creamed.  She is a good person, honest and straightforward with the best interests of the people at heart.  The Observer endorsed her, but her opponent is kind of a Tea Party guy whose only mantra is business, anti-environment, etc.  I worry about guys like that who don’t care a hoot about the 47% or for the environment.  If we elect him, we will get what we deserve which won’t be much.


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A seagull on braided 20 lb. test line…

Before any incriminating photos show up on Facebook, let me state for the record that, yes, I did catch a seagull in Florida on braided 20 lb. test line.

Bob and the three Dave’s: D3 (Bradley), D1 (Hemminger) and our host D2 (Dahlquist) on the beach for breakfast. Another in an unbroken string of glorious meals.

The bird, gull species unknown, put up an aerial fight for a few minutes just above the waves, but ever the sportsman, my prize was treated as a catch-and-release bird.  Only I, in an effort to catch something that swims, could catch something that flies.

D1 in the surf – if you can call calm water ‘surf’ – on our first morning. Rays, fish at the bottom of the food chain swimming for their lives, and birds are a good measure of a sea side environment.  We wondered how long it would stay that way before man permanently screws it up.

That was the low point in a guy’s weekend filled with high points on Anna Maria Island.  This is the third go-round with the three D’s and a Bob (all mentioned below).  With any luck it won’t be the last.

Ellen and Reid read all about it last week:


October 9, 2012

Ellen/Reid: It was really a great few days in Florida with the boys (Dave H., Dave D. and Bob F.).  Fun golf, a nice beach, great weather, good time on the water and equally good food and drink at every turn.  You can’t ask for much more.  It was quite gracious of Dave Dahlquist’s mother-in-law to loan us her 3 BR condo on Anna Maria Island.  We could, and did, lounge during cocktail hour with an elevated fourth floor view of the water and the island beyond.  That was nice.  Our first morning I must’ve waded in the surf for nearly two hours watching the fish and other aquatic and bird life.  Stepped on a ray but it didn’t sting me although if this were the Olympics I might have won the high jump going away.

With Dave’s help we steered clear of most of the tourist stuff.  We did have our share of dives (Rod & Reel Restaurant) plus some nicer spots, but the R&R had some of the best fish & chips I’ve ever had.  It’s out on a pier and while the décor isn’t much, the rest of it was great.  Pretty much the whole environment rotates around the beach life, and we had breakfast on the beach, other dinners close to the beach, etc.

Yours truly, Bob, D2 and D1 at the incredible Concession Club. So tough we stopped keeping score, but we did count the rounds of G&Ts (3) on the 5 star veranda.

The golf was great but what really stuck out for me was the fishing.  We charted a boat with a guy named Cap’n Josh for a half day’s excursion.  He’s about your age Reid and he really knew his stuff.  After he tossed out his net and hauled in a couple of hundred bait fish, we set off for an artificial reef made of demolished bridge pilings that was about a mile and a half straight off shore from our condo.  We dropped the bait straight down to the reef, about 25 feet, and in moments you’d get nibbles from grouper, ‘grunts’ and snappers.  Snapper was what he was really after, and our largest was only about 2 lbs.

D2 smacks his patented power fade on a par 3. D2 and D3 swept this stretch of three 6 hole matches.

What was really fun was watching the sharks and the big cobia pick off the bait fish.  Josh would toss some bait behind the stationary boat, and the big boys would come in to feed.  I had a tough time hauling anything in but when Josh fished he had something on every try.  A cobia came through and Josh immediately hooked him.  He handed the rod to me, and the first thing that struck me was how strong the fish was.  It was incredible.  He stripped off line and before I could get my bearings, he tore for the reef and the line was shredded.  I guess that’s one of the tastier fish around, and there it was, I lost him.  Dave D. had hold of a reef shark, and that was something.  Since we had light tackle and weren’t using steel leaders, there wasn’t much chance that we’d land it, but it was still fun to see while the fight lasted.  As for the unfortunate seagull, it snapped up my bait as soon as it hit the water, and he flew off about 25 yards.  It put up a better fight than some of the fish, but Josh had seen all this before and got the bird off my line in short order.  I like to be on the water rather than in it.  This was a highlight, and Reid, we need to give it a shot somewhere.

Bob near the 18th at the Concession Club. 90 members, limited play, and an incredible experience.

The plane ride home was something else.  Lightning struck our 757, and fried some electrical component that had to be flown in on the next flight from Atlanta.  So that shoved the takeoff back a few hours, and then when we pushed off again, the part malfunctioned.  Back to the gate we came.  A lot of passengers bailed at that point but I wanted to move on in the event a seat might not be available in the morning.  We waited another couple of hours for another plane and finally got to Atlanta just after midnight.  Since my morning flight was at 7, I opted to stay in the terminal for the night.  A so-so choice at best.  I only had my golf clothes on since I came straight from the course, and it was cold in the terminal.  I tried to stay warm as best I could by covering my legs with newspapers.  About 3 a.m. I went for a walk to stay active and came across a couple of Delta Airlines blankets.  That made sleeping a little easier, but it was the incessant security announcements that really kept me awake.  I’m not cut out for sleeping on chairs in airports anymore.  Those days are behind me, and good riddance.  Travel just isn’t what it used to be.

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On a need-to-know basis…

The hot-shot diet I pontificated about last week isn’t going so well.  And I made such a big deal of it with Ellen and Reid.

Since then I’ve consumed: two hamburgers, fries, a breakfast sandwich with sausage and bacon, and sausage and pancakes for dinner.  That doesn’t include the wine, gin and tonics, beer, and fish & chips (with mo’ fries) I ate last week on a Florida vacation (all of which was dissected in the letter written and mailed today that will be published next week).  But I promise to do better.  Really.

I think parental diet is on the menu of what kids ought to know about.  They’re on a need-to-know basis and they ought to know.  They already know a lot of personal things anyway (see last week’s post) and that’s okay.  We’re all adults here (as they near their upper 20’s) so very little is off limits.  That’s probably the largest change to the letters over the years; as my two have grown, they get to read things now that were held a bit closer to the vest not so many years ago.

Today’s letter  to the kids (which you will read next week) deals with a trip to Florida where this beach vine inched its way closer to the ocean’s edge.

I told the kids that there is a marginal chance that I might-possibly-maybe-perhaps start to run again.  I need to compensate for a metabolism that has slowed to a snail’s pace while the adding of pounds is occurring with Usain Bolt-like speed.

Here is last week’s letter:


October 1, 2012

Ellen/Reid: It’s been more than 10 days since I’ve had any beef, but there hasn’t been any tofu during that span, either.  But one has to start somewhere.  We tried ‘beer can chicken’ on the grill Saturday night – until the grill ran out of gas and we transferred the whole caboodle to the oven.  It was okay but not great although we’re not sure how someone can manage to mess up such a simple meal.  I’ve also started to take the Omega 3 lozenges you recommended Ellen but am still somewhat uncertain what those are supposed to do.  I’d look it up but the new MacAir is in the shop while the files from the decrepit Acer are transferred over to the new machine.  I bought a series of one-on-one lessons at the Mac store and I’ll probably begin to step up to the counter in terms of attendance.  It’s a slick machine but I’m slow on the uptake so the classes will no doubt be helpful.  I’m tired of reveling in my technology stupidity.  Time to enter the new age.

There has been some thought given to resuming a schedule of running on a limited basis.  It’s a weight thing.  I’m not ready to return to the days of what it took to run a 2:24 marathon, but a light jog of a couple of miles a few days a week wouldn’t seem to hurt things.  The only reservation is what even a light dose of pavement pounding might do to the ankles.  Perhaps low impact exercise is the way to go.  At any rate I’ll keep trying to walk it off on the 2.5 mile circuit we take most every weeknight.  Felicia has to slow down to accommodate my lack of speed.

I head to Florida on Thursday to join Bob and the two Daves (Hemminger and Dahlquist).  This is our third such annual adventure, and I suppose we have Jane H. to thank for that.  She keeps pushing us down this path and we are all too eager to follow it.  We will be situated near Tampa but I don’t know the exact location.  I rent the car and the others ride along and tell me where to go.  It will mostly be golf, and a little fishing off the coast followed by more  The fishing is what I’m really excited about.  The captain of the boat keeps saying what nice fish they’ve been catching but that is code for ‘You should’ve been here last week’ and we all know how most of those turn out.  There doesn’t appear to be any hurricanes in the forecast beyond the ones that have ice in a glass.  Really, we’re pretty much a wine group.  I’ll try to stick to the new diet although there are no guarantees given that surf & turf will likely be on our menu.

Ellen, here are the printed checks from the cleaning service.  I think they are trying to take you to the cleaners, no pun intended.  Their bookkeeping isn’t what it should probably be.  If for some reason we are shown to be wrong – but I don’t think so – then we will make them whole.

Reid, I promise to get your Christmas flight ticket this week.  Thanks for the dates you provided.  Since we won’t get a timeshare, we might drive over to Oak Island and stay at some seedy place on the beach.  But we will still have a good time for a couple of nights.  Oak Island must be about four hours or so.  It’s just this side of Wilmington, which we will probably get over to for one night.

Work is going okay aside from working with the &*%^$#@ attorneys.  They could clog up a culvert with all the legalisms they spew which I have to wade through and translate to useable English.  But monkeys and pigs will fly in formation before lawyers ever write something in plain terms.

It will be great to see you guys at Thanksgiving.  The free range, organic turkey sounds divine, Ellen.  Reid and I will volunteer (won’t we, Reid?) to do most if not all the cooking.  On my oath I will not forget sugar in the pies this year.  Get some of those good green apples and a couple of tins of pumpkin pie filling, and we’ll be in business.

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The cat is out of the bag…

If you have the patience, interest and fortitude to scroll down about half way into last week’s letter, you’ll read about what Ellen and Reid first heard about by phone.  News such as this can’t be plopped into a letter and read cold turkey by the kids.  A call was the proper way to announce it.  The cat is out of the bag.

Ellen likely had some inkling that something was afoot; Reid, on the other hand, was probably clueless, seeing how he has yet to meet Felicia in more than four years.  That’s as much as anything on his old man for not shipping the lad down here.  But he’ll get the chance to make her acquaintance at Christmas.

Felicia and I rode to Savannah last spring, then on to one of her favorite spots, Tybee Island, GA. That she tolerates the Harley (if not enjoys it) is a plus although she puts up with a lot of other things from me.

This is far from the first time Felicia has made these pages, and although this photo is far from the best I have (due to technical reasons with my other decrepid PC) you get the picture. 

Here’s how the news was broken in last week’s letter:


September 24, 2012

Ellen/Reid: As I plowed through my raisin bran this morning, it occurred to me that I’d better get used to, as you say Ellen, a ‘plant based’ diet.  The very idea of switching has been simmering for a little while, and we’ll gravitate that way.  It looks as though that will be the new direction and it is a major mind-culinary-food shift for your old man.  I shudder at the thought of a freezer full of steaks, brats and hamburger, but we won’t even wait to work our way through those stores.  The steaks and the like will go toward the Sunday morning breakfast served to the women’s shelter at Caldwell Pres.  They can slice up the steaks and put into the scrambled eggs.  At least the beef will go to a good cause and I’m cool with that.

Rather than be a card-carrying vegan, we’ll still eat chicken and shrimp.  That’s the best I can promise.  At this age, you can’t expect me to give up everything, do you?  Anyway, it might boil down to the old adage that ‘the flesh is weak’ and if my resolve against beef is as weak as it is for ice cream, there might be a falling back now and then.  Like, when you’re down for Christmas, Reid.

Worse still, however, is the thought of re-inventing the cooking wheel.  It was trail-by-fire (or oven) to learn how to cook the normal way with normal foods, and how I have to do it all over again.  But that’s okay.  Felicia is on board with it.  We had black bean burgers at her daughter’s the other night, and they were surprisingly good.  Tofu may be another matter entirely.  Can’t get my arms all the way around bean curd, or whatever the hell it is.  I couldn’t identify tofu if it was the only item on the kitchen counter.  I’ve yet to Google for good recipes but that is the next step.  Having Felicia around to badger me about what I eat and how often I eat will be a good thing. At least we’ve not made a habit of cooking or heating process foods.  Everything has been from scratch.  Now, all my stored recipes for beef-this and beef-that will go bye-bye. 

Speaking of that, I’m glad you both know the news.  It’s been headed that way for a little while, and the next step of living together will be the real acid test.  More for Felicia than me.  Six plus years of living by your lonesome tends to ingrain, shall we say, some bad household guy-habits (that applies to you, too, Reid), although the cleaning service has stepped up my game in that regard.  Actually, things haven’t been too bad in that regard.  It will just be a change, that’s all.  She’s been by her headstrong self for more than 20 years so this will be a humongous change for her, too.  If we don’t slit each other’s throats or sleep in separate rooms after a while and push comes to shove down the road (and the timing is really anyone’s guess, and Felicia knows of most of my checkered past), then my expectation for the grand relationship finale is something equally low key.  Pomp and ceremony won’t be needed.  But this is a one step at a time thing and we’re just about to take that first step.  Her daughter has signed off on it, and so has her son.  So we’re in pretty good shape on the approvals.  Even Betsy has given us the thumbs up, and that’s saying something.  No doubt your uncle will try to talk me back from the ledge, but we’ll take this one speed bump at a time.

Ellen, great photos of Emma in her cold weather garb.  I just can’t wait to see her at Thanksgiving.  It has been so long.  I’m not living up to the grandfather pledge of “seeing the granddaughter as often as is humanly possible.” 

No doubt you’ve heard of some impending layoffs at the bank.  16,000 by the end of the year, or so they say.  Knock on wood, but I am in acceptable shape.  But if that brand of push-comes-to-shove pans out, then I’ll ask Social Security to start sending the checks they want to foist on me.  Let the retirement saga start.


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