Monthly Archives: November 2013

All the News That’s Fit to Print…and it’s too bad most of it is bad

All the News That’s Fit to Print” reads the front page of the New York Times. The same goes with the letters, I suppose. I’m sorry that so much bad news has to be shoehorned into a single page.


November 18, 2013

Ellen/Reid: Last week was just one hell of a bad week. When it rained, it poured – by the bucketful.  Reminded me of 2010 all over again, a year I didn’t ever want to repeat. Overwhelming feelings of loss, first for aunt Mary, then your uncle’s law partner.

As soon as cousin Tom called with the news, I booked a flight to Portland. It really was important that your uncle and I be there to represent us. Mary was the last tie to an older generation of Andersens and Bradleys, and now there’s just the children left. Then I came down with this damned cold which floored me from Wednesday onward, and I’m still feeling lousy this morning. My intent was to make the go/no go decision about 3:30 Saturday morning, but as soon as I got out of bed, I knew instantly that there was just going to be no way. The cost of the ticket was really of no consequence. Tim took my call about me backing out of the trip, and I knew he was disappointed but I just felt so lousy. I liked Mary so much and it was so disheartening to miss the chance to tell your cousins the same thing in person. I hope we get to see them again under different circumstances vs. the somber events that have brought us together the last few times.

Then came the news about the killing of your uncle’s law partner, Todd Elsbernd. He was such a good guy and had been with Ralph for about 20 years. I don’t know all the details but it appears it was a targeted slaying. Todd had stepped out of his office for the day when some guy shot him in the back from a nearby parking lot. It turned out to be some disgruntled former client still upset about a divorce case from several years ago. The shooter also apparently murdered his ex-wife that same day. Ralph’s taking it quite hard. I’ve only talked with him briefly but you can tell from his voice that the shooting has had a significant impact on him. It’s hard to even imagine something so horrific happening to anyone at any of the place’s where we work, let alone in Grand Island, Nebraska. I don’t know. It just seems that are so many crazy people out there with guns. That could be because there are just too many guns out there, period. One of the first things that came to mind right after the killing was “Is Ralph being targeted, too?” I tried to call him several times but he was already working with authorities to piece together what happened and why. He said it was the first time in his years of legal work that he feared for his safety.

In a way, all of this will put Thanksgiving into that much more perspective.

Even the pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving came out bad. I'll be back in the kitchen later today to try, try again. Usually I eat my mistakes but I don't know about this brace of so-so results. There's not enough whipped cream to turn these two into something edible.

Even the pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving came out bad. I’ll be back in the kitchen later today to try, try again. Usually I eat my mistakes but I don’t know about this brace of so-so results. There’s not enough whipped cream to turn these two into something edible.

We will have much to be thankful for. The new jobs for you both plus Tim’s new situation at 3M. And little miss Emma, to be sure. Alley and Joe and Andy and Steph are both set to be parents again. So there is plenty of good news for us to celebrate.

My final blog class is this week. There’s a sense of relief about it. I’m just not sure I’m a good blog person. So much of it is sizzle and technology, both of which have sort of passed me by. The content creation is one thing, it’s the other stuff that could be buffed up a fair amount. I’ll have to cross that bridge on it soon enough but it’s probably best for me, and the students, if I stick a little closer to wordsmithing and writing. Reid, you know all of this like the back of your hand.

The city is abuzz about the big game tonight between the previously hapless Panthers vs. the tough Patriots. I’d like to watch the entire game from the comfort of my couch but they don’t kick off until after 8:30 p.m. which means no matter how bad I want to see the ending I’ll be out like a lamp long before the end of the game comes around. I’ll just have to check my ESPN app as soon as I wake up. I’m okay with that. With this cold, I’d rather get my sleep.


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News is well served but there is the matter of timing…

Family news is well served by letters. There’s room for explanation and context. It’s just that sometimes there is the matter of timing.

Not 20 minutes after this letter was out the door did my cousin Tom deliver the expected news about his mother, my aunt Mary.

She had a good life, a long life, and was a good egg. I did not make the trip to Portland for her memorial service for reasons that will be explained next week, but I set aside time to remember her nonetheless.


November 12, 2013

Ellen/Reid: By the time you receive this, we may already know about aunt Mary. She is a dear soul; never failed to ask about you two, your whereabouts and lives. Tom said he and his siblings are really fine with things. With her husband gone, and her long-sought cruise of the fjords behind her, it was just that time. Her strokes must have been severe. She is not being fed. Per her instructions, her children will allow nature to take its course. I talked to your uncle yesterday and he and I will head to Portland for the services. Like uncle Henry’s, it won’t be necessarily remorseful but a recognition of her life. That’s how she would have wanted it.

Me, too. It reminds me to follow Mary’s lead. When such time comes for your old man, if I’m tethered to any contraptions that are only there to prolong a lights-out existence, pull the plug out of the wall. Flip a coin for the privilege if you have to. That’s how I want things done. By sheer coincidence earlier this past weekend, Continue reading

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Shit happens…

The one known to life is that it moves on whether you’re ready or not. You are simply along for the ride (bumpy or smooth, uphill-level ground-downhill) although you have some navigational say so. In large part the weekly letters of the last 14 years have served to let the kids know how their dad is faring in the journey. Not bad. Not bad.


November 4, 2013

Ellen/Reid: Well, I’m picking up a fresh head of steam down here, so don’t worry unduly about your old man. Things are fine. Golf and walking and teaching tend to take your mind off things and that is peachy by me. Okay, the golf isn’t so fine, but you catch my drift.

There was yet another reorganization at work. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This one hit a little closer to home in that one of the guys involved in the reshuffling – he’s now with another group altogether – really liked my work and rarely made any edits. It’s hard to replace that kind of trust. It really doesn’t affect me other than the uncertainty of who’s doing what. It’s just the nature of the corporate beast – stir the pot and, after a while, stir it again for good measure. Reid, you’ve seen that as much as I have. Shit happens.

In a few weeks we’ll all be gathering in Savannah and then to Hilton Head.

In the case of the disappearing breakfast smoothie, exhibit A is on the left. The prime suspect is on the right, wearing exhibit B.

In the case of the disappearing breakfast smoothie, exhibit A is on the left. The prime suspect is on the right, wearing exhibit B. Charges were later dismissed. Emma is a good tonic for her gramps.

The crib is secured; now it’s on to a rental SUV, hopefully with enough cargo space for Emma and all of her gear, not to mention her parents. In an unusual spate of prior planning, the menu is coming together; real turkey and fixins’ on T-Day, pasta, fish, pizza on other nights. A little breakfast bread and pancakes/bacon/eggs thrown in Continue reading

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The rare non-letter…

I can count on my extremities the number of truly private letters mailed to the kids over the last 14 years. The letters shielded from view include health and job situations, lectures and other highly personal issues.

Today is one of those non-shareable days.

Last week’s note for Ellen and Reid was for their eyes only. This week’s letter has already been penned and, trust me, it will be fit for public consumption, i.e. bland and lukewarm.

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