Monthly Archives: September 2014

Cork the whine…


Although I’m not sure I fit the description of a serial whiner (friends on the golf course may disagree) I have my moments.

A couple of those were chronicled in last week’s letter to the kids.

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September 15, 2014

Ellen/Reid: I think I’ve finally figured out that, at a basal level, I’m just not real good at fishing. Something isn’t resonating for me. Either the fish aren’t biting or I don’t know how to do it. The suspicion here is that it is the latter. This weekend at Charleston, or, more precisely, Mt. Pleasant, the  habitat was as good as could be found. Deep grasses, plenty of water flow, etc.

This is my kind of beautiful morning near Charleston: hit the water early and see what's biting.

This is my kind of beautiful morning near Charleston: hit the water early and see what’s biting.

Exactly the place you’d expect to get sore arms from the reeling in of pounds and pounds of fish, but no. One speckled trout – and it hammered my plastic Gulp seconds before I was about to pull the lure out of the water so that was sheer luck. But in my defense it was 15” which was over the legal limit.

This handsome speckled trout represents the second leg of the Big Three of fish I aim to catch - flounder, speckled trout and redfish.

This handsome speckled trout represents the second leg of the Big Three of fish I aim to catch – flounder, speckled trout and redfish.

No other real bites. It has to be the fisherman rather than the fish, although a friend of mine said the redfish are either on or they’re off – there’s no in between. I think I am in between the off and the very off. I don’t know. Maybe it’s time for the guide I keep yammering about. I was texting with Tim during the lull while I sat moping in the Ocean Kayak – all my fishing seems to be a protracted lull – and he said I’d learn more from a guide Continue reading

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Later. Peace. Out.


The weekly drone of letters just keeps droning on. Every once in a while something gets my hackles up. But if I don’t start to catch more fish, that’ll raise my temperature, too. Here’s what Ellen and Reid scoped out last week – along with a prelude to another foray into Southern salt water.

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September 8, 2014

Ellen/Reid: Animal lovers, or at least those who love insects, are gonna hate me after a shocking discovery that ants were eating holes in my hard-won tomatoes. I brought the fruits – and the ants – inside to wash and slice off the infested areas. After a quick determination of guilt the ants went down the disposal for a summary execution. My vine has outlasted the vile and invasive HOA garden Nazis, and it will also survive marauding ants. It’s kind of too bad because there was a column in the science portion of this morning’s paper about how good insects were. These particular ants weren’t among the good ones.

I poked my head up from my work laptop this morning just in time to watch a doe and her two fawns tiptoe from the grassy common area to the shelter of the greenbelt. Of course I got up to take a photo but was slow on the draw and didn’t get much of a picture. These creatures must be totally oblivious to mankind. Not 70 yards away, the big machines in the development taking shape behind me were grinding away at whatever they grind away on. The deer showed no concern whatsoever at the din behind them.

However, I show concern. The developer has stripped away a huge chunk of the greenbelt down to the stream behind my house in apparent violation of the pact between my HOA and his project. His drawings all showed – and they assured us – there would be an 80 yard buffer zone of trees that would remain untouched and now they’ve ground them all down to dirt level. The bastards. This is just a brazen disregard of what we were shown, and it impacts a lot more owners than it does me since my sight lines are still okay – but the tree canopy we were told would stay is largely gone. What the hell was the builder thinking? It just frosts me.

The local NPR reporter visits me tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. to walk my path. He said he’ll bring his walking shoes. I pinged Betsy about it but she said to just be myself. I’m worried the scofflaws who dump trash will take the day off and I’ll have little to pick up. But we’ll just have to see how it goes. I’m still not quite sure how the NPR/Dave connection came about but we’ll make the most of it. I’m a little concerned about the shoddiness of pickupyourpath.com but it’s too late to worry about that now. We’ll go with the flow. I told the reporter I’d give him a bag, too. Ha ha.

Tori Furstenau is going to visit me Friday night. She made a snafu with an airline reservation. She chose Charlotte rather than Charleston. Oops. Sounds like your Thanksgiving snafu a few years ago, Ellen. But she’ll live. Bob sent me a hurried message once they discovered the situation. She gets in about midnight after renting a car.

You'd think this portion of the Intercoastal waterway at Charleston would hold fish. Why would you think that when I'm involved?

You’d think this portion of the Intercoastal waterway at Charleston would hold fish. Why would you think that when I’m involved?

It will make for an interesting night since I will be up and outta here by 4:30 a.m. to head toward the ocean with the kayak. I won’t be all that far from Charleston in a place called Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. It’s new fishing spot for me. Might as well spread the wealth (that is, not catching any fish) between two states. I’m glad Tori is coming down since I cannot recall the last time I’ve had any visitors other than solicitors trying to sell magazines door to door. I think Mike and Mort were the last two, and that was some time ago. Since I’ll be out the door by the time she gets up, I’ll have the coffee pot ready to go and she can leave the key under one of the outside door mats. She’ll have three scenic hours ahead of her. It’ll be an easy drive. She’s welcome to bunk her on the return trip, too.

So by the time you get this I’ll be wrestling with trying to get the kayak atop the car and all my gear stowed in the trunk. I just hope to come back smelling like fish for a change. Later. Peace. Out.

Love, Dad

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A standoff with Emma…


If you ever go to Minnesota, time your visit to coincide with the state fair. An extravaganza of people watching, food (and then some) – it was a wonderland for little Emma, although she has her ‘moments’, too.

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September 2, 2014

Ellen/Reid: Wow, what a weekend. I don’t know how you could squeeze much more into not very many hours – state fair (impressive), a nice meal with Kristin and Jeff, stand up paddle boarding, etc.

Tim and Ellen traipse through the Minnesota State Fair. Time for themselves, even among the crowds.

Tim and Ellen traipse through the Minnesota State Fair. Time for themselves, even among the crowds.

I have instituted a new rule of thumb on post-trip recovery as of this moment: I get four hours of down time for every one hour spent doing things with you. So that means I’ve got 100+ hours of R&R ahead of me. That’ll work.

It is amazing to see Emma’s progress language-wise, behavior and just growing into her little person-hood. She’s just blossoming. And, she’s just a little pistol. Ellen, I hope you and Tim didn’t mind me standing firm during our Mexican standoff about her over throwing her shoes and sun hat out of the wagon in her fit of pique. Man, she’s got some resolve. In a lot of ways, that sort of independence is a good thing. I’m no discipline guru (case in point: look at the two of you) but she just needs to know where the boundaries are.

Emma rides the plastic ponies with the steadying hand of her dad.

Emma rides the plastic ponies with the steadying hand of her dad.

But she is just such a good little girl in all respects. She’s smart, perceptive and responsive. You guys have done a good job with her. It’s nice that she doesn’t get a lot of TV. It lets her little mind concentrate on other things.

Reid, thanks for letting Tim and I crash the party Sunday night. Donna and Tom do things right from start to finish. A couple of the people pulled me aside to say how impressed they were with you. That’s good for a dad to hear, and I’ve already told your mom about it. She’s glad to hear it, too.

I’ll tell you, if there’s a better fly caster than Tim, I’d like to see him or her. It’s just hard to imagine when you see how effortless he makes it.

I've seen lots of folks throw flies in my time - but there's no one better than Tim. The guy can bring it - and bring it softly.

I’ve seen lots of folks throw flies in my time – but there’s no one better than Tim. The guy can bring it – and bring it softly.

I mean, every single cast is just artful and perfect. I’d be out there slashing the water to a froth and he just lolls his way through it. I think he felt bad about not having a second rod but I was perfectly content watching his artistry. He put the fly right where the fish were and they responded as you would expect them to. If only I could transfer his skills to the salt water. I’m gonna head back to the ocean, at Charleston mostly probably, on Saturday, Sept. 13 to try my luck. Sounds like a good move, as suggested by Tim, to get a guide.

The fruit of Tim's labors: a nice 10 inch brown trout.

The fruit of Tim’s labors: a nice 10 inch brown trout.

This time I won’t go down and back on the same day but probably spend Friday night at some roadside inn so I can get up uber early, or however early it is the guide will tolerate. I could also go with him on a Saturday, then try it by my lonesome on Sunday.

It’s broiling down here today. Mid 90s. It is oppressive no matter how you slice it. It was that way the few days I was up in Minnesota so the plants are looking sickly and stressed. Some neighbors kept water on the vegetation on the front porch so things came through the heat in pretty good order. The paper ran a story while I was gone about planting a fall crop of lettuce and the like but I’m gonna wait a couple of weeks or so until the daytime heat really dies down. Man, those raspberries in your back garden are sure good. No wonder almost none of them ever make it into the kitchen. If I were Emma, I’d stand outside and eat them, too. She just loves those.

Among the unwelcome pieces of mail over the weekend were my property taxes. Ouch. All I can say is, living in SouthPark better damn well be worth it because it’s a helluva lot cheaper to live in South Carolina although it’s probably an idle threat on my part to move down there. Reid, I went online today to see the prices for renting my unit out to strangers and you’re guess of $150-$175 a night was pretty spot on. To judge from some of the fancy photos, I’ve really got to take care to get the right shots. I still think it’s about location-location-location and this spot would seem to be a fairly attractive one. But we shall see. I haven’t been snooping around about rentals up in your neck of the woods but will also get around to that this week. I appreciated your guy’s insights into this. Now I’ve got something to think about other than feeling guilty about playing hardball with Emma for not putting her shoes back on. She’ll get over it sooner than me.

Love, Dad

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The unmentionables…


Not everything is peaches and cream here in the South. There were also a few unmentionables pared from this letter; not all the news is fit to print. That’s why it’s a few paragraphs short of a full load.

But next week will be on the lighter side; the trip up north to see Emma and her entourage.

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August 25, 2014

Ellen/Reid: It was a tough week last week for your uncle in Grand Island. He had to endure the penalty phase of the trial of the killer of one of his law partners, Todd Elsbern. Apparently the murdered showed no remorse and was sent up the river. It tests your conviction about the death penalty but Ralph showed no movement to endorse it. Good for him. I don’t know how I’d feel in the same situation. I suppose there’s justice and then there’s vengeance. Justice was served.

Ellen, times have also been tough on John at Caldwell. We have a lot of gay members and visitors, and as of late we’ve had a lot of anti-gay protestors yelling and cursing outside the sanctuary doors on Sundays. They’ve even taken to attacking John personally, along with Kelly and their daughters. He pastors up by going to the front walk not to get into any kind of verbal spat but to stand in front of them while his parishioners walk into church. The things they yell in full voice – ‘harlot,’ ‘whore,’ ‘eternal damnation,’ ‘faggots’ and worse – are tough to hear. None of which sounds very biblical to me. I wasn’t aware these bigots were in the position to decide someone else’s final disposition in life. I highly doubt that God has ceded that judgmental ability to them. But it all wears on John. You can see it on his face. Amazing how much vitriol in the name of God there is in religion these days.

I am leaning toward another Harley. A Road King Classic. It would be my fourth. I would love to tool around all of the lower 48 on a new rig. The old Softail has 51,000 miles on it. The intent is not to foist myself on people like you for overnight stays while traipsing around the country side. Instead my tent and gear would go with me. It would be a non-Interstate route. The best part of riding the Carolinas has been putzing along at 50 MPH which is an optimal speed for the bike. I’d also steer clear of the  loonies on the Interstate by sticking to side roads. It would be one of those trips where you’d see a sign for an Historical Marker 1/4 mile ahead, but instead of zooming past, this time I could actually stop to read it. The journey would really be one final good spin.

The tomatoes have been given to the cleaning ladies and neighbors. Same with the basil and oregano. If anyone wants some, they can have it. Re-stained/waterproofed the front porch and gave it a general cleaning last week. Now if I just had someone to sit out there with me.

Real estate has been picking up in my neighborhood of late. Condos (I call them townhouses) have been selling, maybe not quite for what they were before ‘the crash’ but for a lot more than in the last couple of years.

The bright spot is that real estate is finally perking up in Charlotte after a long crash-induced dormancy.

The bright spot is that real estate is finally perking up in Charlotte after a long crash-induced dormancy.

I’ve been tossing about the idea of moving up toward the Davidson College area. It’s a fairly liberal community and well away (about 30 miles north) from the hustle and bustle of SouthPark. The one thing I’m reticent about is giving up the privacy of the green belt right behind the house. I went to a dinner up in Davidson the weekend before last and it really is nice up that way. Moving to the Midwest isn’t entirely out of the question either. With the clock ticking toward retirement I’ve got to get things in gear in terms of planning. So who knows at this point. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m listening if you want to tell me anything.

Okay, the window of opportunity for this letter has slipped past. Be good, and I’ll see you shortly.

Love, Dad

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