Monthly Archives: April 2014

A world of mundane events…


Not much earthshaking – hardly a tremor – in last week’s letter. All it shows to Ellen and Reid is that their dad lives a world of mundane events.

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April 21, 2014

Ellen/Reid: My afternoon walks have become a little gummier these past couple of weeks. Whenever I stroll beneath the oaks down here, I step through a gauntlet of thin strands of sticky fiber produced by canker worms (aka inch worms) that work their way to the top of the trees to munch on the new growth, then rappel their way down. All it is is a nuisance, if you like to brush little wormie things off your shirt. People defend the trees by wrapping the trunks with a sticky band of goo that snares the little critters.

We had a rainy Saturday and a nice Sunday. Spring seems to be catching hold but I wish it would go one way or the other. There will be no mention of golf today, other than to say ‘Good riddance.’

My new Osprey pack is here. What an apparent upgrade from the old Gregory Palisade in terms of weight and technology. Holy smokes. It’s about 3,100 cubic inches vs. the 5,000 for the Gregory. It seems a fair deal smaller and I hope everything fits into it. I’m marginally leery that it will so I’ll head to REI sometime this week to look at another pack that’s about 3,500 cubic inches. But then again, you’re only tempted to fill available space. Like my friend Tom, I’ll start to lay out gear on the beds in the spare bedroom. He thumps me on weight; i.e. don’t carry more than you need, and when you carry something make sure it is the lightest something available. We did lose one of our hikers. Katie, whom you met, Ellen, had to bail since her daughter is getting married in San Francisco and it’s just a prohibitively expensive endeavor to do both. I told there there’s always 2015 (Reid, you ought to join us then) and we will do this all over again.

Also in is the new four piece Scott A4 fly rod. It’s a beauty. It’s a 3 wt. and 8 gorgeous feet of fishing technology. Ellen, tell Tim thanks for his advice. I matched it with the Orvis Battenkill fly reel. My buddy Ted and I will head up toward Virginia way this coming Sunday to try things out on a stream he’s familiar with. That’s exciting. It’s about time I stepped out of the incessant golf box and did something new. Here’s hoping we catch something (and release it. Bad karma to keep fish, as Tim keeps telling me).

The new fly rod and reel are here. They didn't work so well this past weekend in the North Carolina mountains. It could be 'operator error.' But more on that next week.

The new fly rod and reel are here. They didn’t work so well this past weekend in the North Carolina mountains. It could be attributed to ‘operator error.’ But more on that next week.

Ted and I have also reached the conclusion that we will buy matching Continue reading

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If a dad can’t be proud…


If a dad can’t be proud of his kids, he ought to move out of the way.

(Note: I’ve rattled on – and on – about the Bridger Wilderness. I’m looking for another soul (or two, or three) who wants to hike the incredible backcountry. I’ve got a spare Gregory backpack, Mountain Hardwear tent, sleeping bag, Los Rios Anglers fly rod, plus other assorted gear. It is available for the asking. July 11-19.)

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April 14, 2014

Ellen/Reid: Reid, that was so nice of Liz to send me a copy of Abundance. I’m about 75 pages into it and it’s really good. Amazing, actually. I’m not sure what prompted her for that act of generosity, but it was really sweet. Perhaps she perceives that I need to read something other than the newspaper. Tell her I’ll buy her (and you) a bottle of wine when we get together next month.

The tree canopy behind the house is about to burst into full leaf mode. That means my view of the apartments behind me, and their view of me, will be completely blocked off. I like that little nature sanctuary and the protection from other sets of human eyes. It lets me be in my man cave and free to sit and watch the birds and animals come and go. My friend Dave was reminding me that hummingbirds have returned to the area and that it’s time to put up my hummingbird feeder. That’s on my to-do list for this week. I’ve been watching the birds go through some type of courtship/pre-mating ritual. Male cardinals have passed seeds from my feeder to their mates and male redheaded woodpeckers have done the same with theirs. Also on the to-do list are new flowers for the front planters (the pansies have wilted beyond repair) and some herbs. My lettuce has yet to pop up.

Ellen lives for her children in a school in one of the poorer neighborhoods of St. Paul. She represents how teaching ought to be.

Ellen lives for her children in a school in one of the poorer neighborhoods of St. Paul. She represents how teaching ought to be; not constrained by endless tests and paperwork, but by inspiration and adoration for students.

Ellen, the photo of you and your math class doing their work outside is just too precious. You are a fabulous teacher and you’ll be someone they recall, years from now, and say “I was inspired by Mrs. Pommer.” This is true; that’s what they’ll say. I remember teachers like Mr. Darrow, a high school biology teacher, and their inspiration, very clearly. I don’t think schools need more of teachers like you, they need more parents and politicians to recognize teachers like you. You’re precisely the type what drives public education to what it ought to be. Forget all this GOP mumbo-jumbo Continue reading

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Excited to go? Maybe.


There was a TV commercial not long ago that showed an older guy riding a motorcycle in the desert as a testament to staying uber-active in the golden years. I can’t recall the precise wording but in effect his voiceover said he wanted to go out at high speed.

Hey pal, count me in. I’m with you. I want Ellen and Reid to know their version of the commercial’s old man wants to go out kicking, too.

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April 7, 2014

Ellen/Reid: Well, I’ve started to increase the intensity of the workouts for the Bridger. It’s amazing how much more effort is needed when you ratchet up the elliptical by a single setting. But it feels good and along about May 1 I’ll add some time on the Stairmaster to get the legs working. I’ve been pushing my golf cart on the weekends and that’s helped and really hasn’t been very tiresome to do so. It would be great to go in better shape than in prior years. Knock on wood that it will be so. My Scott fly rod has yet to arrive and I’m about ready to call to ask for its whereabouts.

You both have my itinerary for the May extravaganza. No hotel/motel has been booked as of yet but don’t worry about me infringing on your space. I’ll find quarters elsewhere, and a rental car, too. It will be fun to have everyone together. There won’t be a moment of quiet the entire trip but perhaps that’s as it should be.

Everything for the Bridger Wilderness - bear barrel and new Scott fly rod included - ought to fit in my jaunty new Osprey pack.

Everything for the Bridger Wilderness – bear barrel and new Scott fly rod included – ought to fit in my jaunty new Osprey pack. Excited to go? Maybe.

Speaking of Minneapolis/St. Paul, my friend John was there last week for a church meeting that was hosted by cousin Tim’s church. John was incredibly impressed by both the facility and the church’s outreach, not to mention Minneapolis itself. It makes our little Caldwell puny by comparison, but it’s all a matter of scale.

As we speak I’m watching a male cardinal feed his female partner. He dips down into the feeder for a sunflower seed then flits up to the high branches straight to her. My weekend walks at 6:15 a.m. start just about the time the birds are at their noisiest. It’s still the best time of the week. Calm, serene, no traffic, plus I’m bolstered by a go-cup of coffee (I’m using the gift coffee you sent me). I thought the blue birds were going after the nesting box aggressively but haven’t seen hide nor feather of them the last couple of days so it’s not altogether clear what’s going on with them.

My walks have been going just fine. Bob F. is trying to help me strategize how to push pickupyourpath.com but it’s a work in progress. One thing I’ve noticed increasingly are little bags – and not to be indelicate about it – of dog shit that people leave behind. Why go to the trouble of inverting the bag and retrieving it (plenty of people don’t) then not take it with you? Inane if you ask me. I’ve picked up a lot of sordid things in my time of doing this, but that is where I draw the line: picking up dog shit. I renewed my memberships with the Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy last week. No sooner than the envelopes were in the mailbox than I kind of chided myself for not putting the subscriptions in your names or Emma’s.

Your uncle was reminding me this morning to put off collecting social security until age 66. He does the math in terms of how much more you get for each month that you put off that monthly check. But I don’t know if I can wait another 22 months for that to happen. I had another senior moment last week when, after exiting the theater with my date, I opened the door for her to what I thought was my Toyota and didn’t realize until I got in the driver’s side that the steering wheel was bound in leather and other stuff in the center console wasn’t mine. We beat hasty retreat to my car which was parked a few feet away. Perhaps this is why I don’t date too much. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m losing it altogether, which could well be. That’s a rhetorical question that does not demand an answer.

Love, dad

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Charlotte’s entry to the Big Leagues?


I’m no politician nor do I want to be. But as a Democrat, last week was a week of shame courtesy of our dear mayor – with his pockets apparently stuffed with illicit cash.

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March 31, 2014

Ellen/Reid: All that job news from last week really threw a scare into me. It makes me realize there’s only one person who’ll look out for me and that’s me. You’re only as good as your most recent good day and that’s unnerving. I’ll keep you posted on things and for the the time being I’ll keep on doing the job and will keep my nose to the grindstone. But at least one eye will be on the lookout.

Charlotte took a big slap on the kisser last week when our mayor was caught with his hand – make that both hands – in the cookie jar of graft and corruption. What a complete idiot. He was shaking people down, only he didn’t realize a lot of the shakees were G-men posing as folks trying to buy influence with briefcases and fists full – literally – of cash. The mayor’s only good move was to resign. This either knocks CLT out of the Big Leagues or, in a morbid way, gives us entry. We’re now big enough for this to happen. Not quite Chicago politics, Reid, but we’re gaining on you. It will set North Carolina Democratic politicians back for who knows how long.

Your uncle has browbeat me enough on switching to almond milk from skim that I finally relented if for no other reason than to get him off my back. But I must admit it’s better than I thought it would be. My skim went sour over the weekend so I thought I’d give the substitute a trial Continue reading

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