Monthly Archives: February 2016

To quit or not to quit? ‘Dad, get over it’ …


I’ve probably plunked down a smooth 4 G’s for the privilege to flail the water with lures and baits at disinterested fish.

In the expense column are Miss Emma, rods, rubber waders, a Yakima rack system, a tackle box jammed to the gills with untold hooks-weights-lures, a GoPro, dry bags, top dollar coolers, et al.

Better make that 5 big ones. The cost of fish per pound? Gold is cheaper.

Surely Ellen and Reid roll their eyes when their old man is in the dumps. As is her custom, Ellen isn’t afraid to tell her dad to ‘get over it.’

Good point.


February 23, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Reid, I really appreciated your “Don’t quit!” response to my self-pity text about my latest fishing failure near Charleston. You need to come down here so we can validate our abilities. It was just so deflating to get up at 0-dark thirty, jet out of the house at 3:45 a.m. and drive 225 miles at breakneck pace to release one little speckled trout. I went to a new place on the Wando River on the Mt. Pleasant side of Charleston and once there, at the highest of the high tide, I wondered aloud ‘How the hell am I going to fish this?’

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Miss Emma surveys the scene along the expansive Wando River. We met our match and paddled back empty handed. But really, as the carnival barker might yell, “You pays your money and you takes your chances.” Hell yes. Emma and I ought to heed Reid’s sage advice: “Get back out there.” And we will – next week.

There were no visible creeks, just an endless expanse of grass alongside wide, wide water. The prevailing thinking holds that the reds venture into the grass at high tide to feed on small crabs so I paddled in, but saw no fish tailing, no disturbances to tip off their positions, no nothing. We retreated to the more familiar structure of some docks where the one little speck took a plastic bait. The prevailing thinking also says speckled trout mass together, and where you find one, you’ll find more. But nothing else came to the surface. There were three rods on Miss Emma and I alternated from a popping cork and fake shrimp to cut mullet on a Carolina rig with the final rod rigged with a lightweight copper colored something-or-other. A couple of strikes and that was it. I tucked my tail and headed back to the ramp a few hours earlier than might have been otherwise. What was really debilitating was a small flat boat of young guys seen and heard just a creek or so away from us reached the ramp the same time as we did. They had boated multiple reds on virtually the same bait I’d been flinging around and about. I do think it’s the fisherman rather than the fish. But damn it, Continue reading

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No rest for the weary, but who’s keeping track? …


‘No rest for the weary’ goes the saying. I do my part by burning the candle at both ends. Ellen and Reid know this; if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Travel, teaching, fishing, walking, golf. The order of importance isn’t important. Rather, it’s all in the doing.

It’s worth noting a few passages were snipped from this letter. Those are for the kid’s eyes only. You’ll find out about the tangents soon enough.


February 15, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Let the period of rest commence. I feel beat to a pulp but it was all worthwhile in all respects. It’s a lot to pack into a few days. More on that later to both of you.

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If I can travel and keep seeing sights like this, I will. Looks like a lengthy trek around the Alps in Europe is in the offing. More on that next week.

What a drag to return to cold. It is a major bummer. Went to the store last night once I landed in town and the shelves were predictably barren since there’s supposed to be a storm blowing through the Piedmont. Charlotte, however, just goes ape at the mere suggestion of inclement weather; schools are closed today yet so far nary a flake has been seen let alone piling up. As far as can be determined, we drive the same cars on the same tires as you guys have in Illinois and Minnesota. We’re just a bunch of weather softies. Yeah, I know we’re short on the number of snowplows, but for crying out loud the streets have been brined. An inch of snow or two for you guys wouldn’t even be a good start to a storm, let alone all this weather gibberish about shutting down the town. All this talk of ‘black ice’ just drives me nuts. It’s nothing you haven’t seen for years and years in the form of hard-packed snow. I mean, really?

AT&T Uverse is gone. Cut. Goodbye. Now comes the ordeal of trying to replace it with Netflix or some other service when there is something to watch. So far I haven’t missed it one bit. I’m not sure what I’ve done with my time but what I do know is it hasn’t been spent ogling the tube. That’s for the better, I think. You guys are going to have to advise me on how to hook up/use those other services. Don’t be shy since I’m relatively (make that totally) clueless as to how all this Internet/streaming thing works. For the most part, my entertainment hours are spent dialing up Pandora or listening to my iTunes playlist.

I am, however, ready to go fishing in Charleston again. The new GoPro audio-friendly camera back just arrived and will give it Continue reading

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And if I had been born in Deadwood, South Dakota?


Owing to travels last week there was no letter written and plunked in the mail. So the best I’ve got is this page from the prior week. Poor you.

But this one was a bit out of the norm. Although I’m not entirely sure why (perhaps it was the specter of another birthday for me and my twin brother), the subject of my early years popped into my head at the moment of creation, and this came out. I suppose Ellen and Reid need to know of our family’s checkered past. It gives them context to our collective experience. Ellen can stow this historical record in the box that holds more than a decade worth of letters sent her way.


February 1, 2016

Ellen/Reid: 66. I told myself this morning that it’s just a number but all it’s good for is to move me that much closer to another birthday that ends with a -0-. Geez. Some thought was given to waking your uncle up with an early morning wake up call but decided to let the old boy stay in the sack undisturbed.

I’m not sure you guys ever really knew of the circumstances behind how your uncle and I and your grandparents got from Wyoming to Omaha. According to the early plan, we were to be born in Deadwood, South Dakota. That’s where the nearest doctor and hospital could be found. But at some point, the doctor there told our mom and dad that the delivery looked like it would be early and that the hospital wasn’t the best spot to care for premie twins and that either Denver or Salt Lake City were better options for the birth.

I’m not sure of all the details, but mom was sent packing to Omaha where her parents lived. I think she took the train out of Rapid City, South Dakota across the northern tier of Nebraska counties. Your grandfather had to stay behind in Sundance where he was the associate editor of the Sundance Times and Crook County News. Sure enough, we were born early and it was a good thing it was in Omaha. We stayed there for a few weeks then made our way back to Sundance. We lived in a small one bedroom home just a block or so from the newspaper office. I always paid visits to the paper and the tiny little framed wood home when I rode my varied Harleys out to Sturgis.

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If it’s not sold, this Road King will be the fifth Harley to make the pilgrimage to Sundance. In May or June we’ll head up Hwy. 2 into the Nebraska Sand Hills then hang a right at Broken Bow and enter South Dakota just south of Rapid City. From there it’s a hop, skip and a jump into Wyoming.

Sundance was about 50 miles from the rally. Included in the saddlebag cargo on the long ride home was a copy of the paper for your grandfather. He loved that town and that job. To me, there was kind of a dual citizenship thing going on between NE/WY. As a side note, that background had me wanting to attend the University of Wyoming in Laramie on a cross country and track scholarship but your (grand)parents (sic) made me turn it down. How my life, and yours, would have changed if I’d headed West. But that’s conjecture for another story altogether.

The redfish party was great on Saturday night. Ended up serving 12 since some folks weren’t doing anything and there was plenty of fish to go around. Basically all you do, and you can do this with any fish, is to mix Old Bay in melted butter and dredge the fish in the mixture and plop it into a hot pan for a couple of minutes a side. The flesh of those fish is impressive. Very firm. Actually, we had two kinds of fish, redfish and it’s kindred, black drum. The black drum has a grayer meat which was fabulous, almost swordfish Continue reading

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Running out of gas leads to more of same …


Most Mondays (or in this case, Tuesday) the letters come together in a jiffy; 15 minutes tops from start to finish. In a sign of a surely fading memory, I keep a little notepad by the downstairs sofa and when I’m loafing (which is often) it makes it easier to scratch down a little ‘reminder’ about this topic or that.

Of course, when you write about the mundane goings on of daily life, it doesn’t make for the most scintillating reading. But a lot of weeks, that’s all a writer has to work with.


January 26, 2016

Ellen/Reid: I just ran out of gas yesterday when it came around to writing the perfunctory Monday letter. Despite the best of intentions, it just didn’t get done. But this morning, as I bid ‘Good morning, ladies’ to dear Emma and sweet little Georgia on my new go-to coffee cup, it suddenly became time to put pen to paper, or at least electronic, digital paper.

Your mom texted me Monday afternoon about those two little hooligans and we had a good chuckle between grandparents over how Emma is just growing, growing, growing. I loved seeing her splash and swim in the pool; those lessons are worth their weight in gold. She was just beaming when she came up for air, and no doubt Georgia takes in all that her sister is doing.

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Sweet little Georgia is ready to take after her big sister in the pool.

Her tiny feet won’t be that far removed from joining her big sister in the water.

Reid, there is no way in hell I could make heads nor tails out of whatever that spreadsheet was you sent from your grad school studies. I have absolutely no clue as to what you were showing me, what it was used for and how it matters to what you’re studying. More evidence that your dad is, truly, dense as a loose stone. But it must mean you’re liking what your doing and the studies are going according to plan. Your mom and I also giggled about that. Remind me again, in layman’s terms, what I puzzled at and how it has any relevance to mankind.

I’ve become something of a binge listener to iTunes. This morning it’s listening, and replaying time and again, More Than This by Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music. It’s about 35 years old but a great, lilting tune that takes me way, way back. Yet before that, yesterday, it was 21 Pilots and Stressed Out. I’ve amassed a great playlist of the so-called adult alternative music. Reid, I sprinkle in a little Beck with the Kongos and Cage the Elephant, et al, and I’m good to go.

Those tunes will help keep me alert and bopping along on I-77/I-26 early this Thursday morning when Miss Emma and I head back exactly 211 miles to Bowens Island. The temps will be chilly but I badly want Continue reading

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