Monthly Archives: February 2014

Not bad: the live-for-now philosophy…


What snow we had is gone, but what really has me on edge is this whole retirement thing; do it now, or do it later.

I’m leaning toward now.

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Feb. 18, 2014

Ellen/Reid: I think what I learned from Florida is that I like warmth when it is cold and snowy here. Not that I am ready to jilt Charlotte for FLA-USA but it sure was nice to step into warm air that wasn’t cranked out through duct work from a gas furnace. That was very nice and certainly has its pluses. The traffic and sheer congestion would drive me bonkers but the place is secluded enough that you can retreat to your own little world.  It’s a great spot. On their coffee table was left the Friday morning Charlotte Observer front page which declared the town to be shut down. We have the same cars and the same tires as up in Chicago and St. Paul. Why do we make it so hard to deal and cope with such weather?

Let's be perfectly clear: Emma ran the show in Florida.

Let’s be perfectly clear: Emma ran the show in Florida.

Emma is just a scream. She has a mind – and a powerful sense of what she wants – of her own. Ellen, she is the apple that has not fallen very far from the tree. But that is a good thing. You don’t want kids like her to be pushovers so they might as well develop a personality of their own as soon as they can. Nothing wrong with that. Man, did she have papa wrapped uber-tightly around her finger.

The 11 inches of snow I fretted about so much last week is all but gone. It’s almost 70F here today and that usually does the trick of natural snow removal. But on Wednesday and Thursday I really sweated getting out of this burg. After scooping all the snow out of my portion of the driveway last Thursday afternoon and while the pavement was still thawed I drove the car up to one of the flat spots elsewhere in my subdivision. If it had frozen overnight and into Friday morning, even the gradual slope would have made it nigh impossible to get to the main thoroughfare. Once I got there, however, it was clear sailing and virtually no traffic all the way to the airport.

On the flip side, this was my driveway 18 hours before departure.

On the flip side, this was my driveway 18 hours before departure.

So here we are all back in the saddle at work. My inbox was choked with emails last night and this morning which took a long time to wade through and respond to. That’s what makes me shudder the most, the emails that require some sort of response even if it is just a sheer acknowledgement. But the beat goes on and things are in the groove this morning. Speaking of work, Betsy and Bob, and your uncle, have gently hit me upside the head about my pipe dream for retirement. They all but nixed the idea of part time work since Social Security severely penalizes you if you make X-amount of dollars in a year. That cuts back the amount of Social Security dollars that you can get. They encourage age 66 – sweet Jesus – but that doesn’t seem palatable to me. I kind of like the approach by one of Tim’s co-workers who takes the live-for-now philosophy. There’s something to that. I’ve yet to have the hard talk with John about his take on the brutal realities. He’s probably the arbiter of how I’m doing. It’s kind of a downer to think about it.

Tried to fire up the Harley but the battery is dead. Gotta buy a drip charger for the old girl. In all my years of bikes this is probably the worst I’ve ever prepped my black beauty so poorly. No pre-winter oil change, no placing on styrofoam to keep the tires off the concrete, no wash-and-shine. As I walked past her on my way to the gym this morning, I patted her tank and told her better days were ahead. I plan to ride the beast a lot this year. A lot.

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Looking to blow this town…


Weather dominated our family news in the past week most of it not very good. The better news in terms of warmth and south Florida fun will have to wait for next week.

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Feb. 10, 2014

Ellen/Reid: Well, I guess the town can really get jazzed up about the weather this week; the forecast is for several inches of city-paralyzing, general panic-inducing snow. At the least we’ll look and feel like St. Paul and Chicago for a few days. Hopefully, this won’t delay things into Ft. Lauderdale. It is supposed to be in the lower 40s on Thursday so my assumption is things will be on time. I’m really looking to blow this town for a few days with Emma. Reid, I wish you could go but understand your approach with jetting you and Liz away by your lonesomes. That’s cool.

This was early in last weeks' storm. Hardly a concern by Midwest standards, but enough for a Charlotte Observer headline to declare the city was shut down.

This was early in last weeks’ storm. Hardly a concern by Midwest standards, but enough for a Charlotte Observer headline to declare the city was shut down.

Played golf twice this weekend. One day not so good, the second day good (78). My friend Ted and I got punked in a free-beer-to-the-winner grudge match on Saturday between us and two renegades named Ray and Dave in our group. It was great fun. We constantly jabbed each other verbally the entire 18 holes, and that’s half the fun. Of course, Ray insisted on the most expensive brew, which was his divine right. If I win the next time, I’ll return the favor. My golf pals had a little soiree for me Saturday after the round and we split the b-day cake Betsy and Bob gave me at Saturday breakfast at a place called Eddie’s. It was a great way to kick off the day.

The seasons must be changing here. I slid out the door about 6:20 Saturday morning on my trash walk and almost from the get-go, the birds – cardinals mainly – had a different lilt to their chirps. Something is up, and they know it. The canopy of trees was a live with the cheerful squawking. I like to hear that in the mornings. The walk wasn’t so cheery as it was clogged with litter. But that’s another story altogether.

Every so often I see something that makes me shake my head – and I’m not talking North Carolina politics – and wonder what the hell is up with some people. I was out for my 2.5 mile evening stroll when here comes a guy running, and as he loped along he was literally dragging a puppy on a short leash behind him. There was no way the poor dog could possibly keep up with the idiot. I turned around after they went by in time to see the puppy fall on its side and the dolt just kept on going.

On the flip side, I encountered a small herd, 7 or so, of deer standing about 15 ft. from me as I walked past a clump of trees and into a clearing. I stopped dead in my tracks and both sides just stood there in some sort of suburban standoff. They went about their business of browsing amid the Bermuda grass. This went on for about 30 seconds before I assured them in low tones that I meant no harm and I moseyed along. I like to see them out and about.

Saw the film Nebraska the other night. It’s a black and white beauty about a father/son relationship. What was bizarre was that I’ve been to the fictitious town featured in the film (its real name is Plainview) several times. It’s not all that far from your uncle’s place in Grand Island. What really struck me in the film is the complete and utter absence of any sense of style or decor in those small towns out there. But it was a good film worth seeing. Once is enough for me.

My favorite English Premier League football club, Liverpool, is coming to Charlotte later this summer for a match against another EPL squad. I am going. One of my golf buddies, a British expat named Jane, and her son are going to school me in the EPL fine points (chants, etc.). I’m not a Brit, but it won’t hurt me to be a hooligan for a day or so.

Love, dad

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My golf and our better weather…


It’s been tough sledding weather-wise for Ellen and Reid all winter long. I have to rub in our somewhat milder winters at every opportunity even though the 24 hour forecast calls for 5-10″ of snow in Charlotte. But that’s another story for next week because the locals are all loony about the impending storm.

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Feb. 3, 2014

Ellen/Reid: Reid, you really know how to make my day. I mean, taking that birthday call yesterday on the golf course just made me laugh out loud. Listening to your short voicemail was so fun. My playing companions thought you were just a scream. It’s the thought that counts – even if the best wishes were a week early. In your defense I always had a tough time with your grandparent’s birthdays. Never could get those quite right so you and I share that same bond. At least you had the right month.

Yesterday was as I’ve hit the ball since I’ve been down here – nearly 8 years. My swing was shorter and that just brings me so much happiness so hopefully there won’t be a return of the too-tense swing. I’ve just got to relax and let it happen. I’m tired of my game going to hell in a handbasket.

I was coerced - forced, really - to have my photo taken with some of the women in my golf group. We have an incredibly strong group of women golfers.

I was coerced – forced, really – to have my photo taken with some of the women in my Golf for One  group on Meetup.com. We have an incredibly strong core of very, very good women golfers.

Emma looks adorable – and stylish – in her new swimsuit. Let’s hope the temps cooperate so she can romp in the surf with her dad. Ellen, I likely won’t get the answers you seek until he returns sometime later this week. Even if we don’t we can always go with the flow – buy what we need and go from there. I wouldn’t sweat that small stuff. Just being down there will be good enough. If gramps has to sleep on the floor, gramps will sleep on the floor. I’ve got a shirttail friend down there and will ask her for restaurant recommendations and other spots worth seeing. I’d like to get over to the Everglades to maybe see a gator or two. But you and Tim can call the shots. I’m just along for the ride. Maybe Emma and I can hand out one night while you and TP head out.

We had snow paralysis earlier last week. We got all of a half inch. Right after making coffee I went into the garage, dusted off the plastic shovel and it took all of 10 minutes to clear the back driveway and the front walk so the newspaper woman would beat a path to my door. It reminded me of the countless times Continue reading

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The bottom of the barrel…


As far as ‘hard news’ value goes, last week’s letter was at the very bottom of the barrel. The very bottom.

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January 27, 2014

Ellen/Reid: I know you both could store perishable food outside right now in the negative temperatures you’re suffering, but the 50 degrees we have at this moment will evaporate later today when it drops into the lower 20s. Florida can’t come soon enough. Reid, are you interested in joining us? We might make that happen.

A chunk of tooth plopped out yesterday on the golf course. I have no idea what happened to it, but there’s dental work in my immediate future. It’s not too bothersome right now. Thank goodness for insurance. Considering all the hours spent in my lifetime in the dentist’s/torturer’s chair, it is just another day at the office.

There were 11 deer huddled up at once in plain view behind the house last week. By the time I retrieved my camera, they had all moved on in the undergrowth to points South. That is the biggest herd I’ve seen out back. No wonder local gardeners are upset; when those four legged lawn mowers move through they can trim plants to the ground. It is interesting how they nonchalantly cope with the human element. They are fun to watch. I’m just glad my lettuce is on the front porch.

The price of stamps is going up today according to a story in the Charlotte Observer. Quick postal history lesson: when this letter writing campaign began in 2001, the cost of a first class stamp was 34¢. It will go up 3 cents to 49¢. I don’t care. It’s still the best investment I ever made (other than plane tickets to get you down here, of course). Just makes the cost of doing my business that much higher. No big deal.

Finally sucked it up and made the conversion from the insipid MicroSoft program to Apple’s Pages for my 12 page church newsletter. It will be wholly much simpler, faster and easier. I spent hours last week trying to learn the ropes and finally got it down enough to produce the newsletter on time. The printer used the wrong printer to produce the printed copies but the PDF looks great. It’s a big improvement over how I’d done it before. As I get a little more comfortable with it, things should be even better. I don’t know why it took so long for me to get over the fright of using a new machine/format. I must be a late – a very late – adopter.

My friends Jill and Troy invited me over for dinner on Saturday night and we had a great time. Ellen, you remember Troy from our Bridger Wilderness excursion. Great people. We had steaks and some risotto. It was fabulous. Risotto takes a long time to create – it needs near-constant stirring – but it’s already up near the top of my culinary bucket list, it was that good. Troy knows all things tech, and he will probably school me on using my iPhone to create a sound system in the house. He was ‘streaming’ Pandora and for all the world I thought it was a CD player. One of these days I’ll come into the new world order and get this figured out.

Okay, time to get away from this and get back to work. My email inbox is already starting to pile up, and that’s just in the 15 minutes it took to write this. Talk to you both sooner than later.

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