Monthly Archives: June 2016

You mess with my tomatoes, I mess with you …

There is still some Midwestern gardener in me (sadly minus the good black soil). I covet even a small plot to obsess over. Alas, the best I can do is tend to a couple container pots. It’s not the same as tilling the earth, but it’s an any-port-in-a-storm deal.

Yet I watch over those pots religiously; so do ground squirrels who have taken a liking to my meager produce. But the rodents have a crossed a fine line and must be dealt with – harshly. At stake is my annual tomato crop. There is a silver lining: at least the Garden Nazis aren’t coming after me this year.

June 20, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Okay, for all the supposed naturalist in me, there comes a time when enough is enough. A ground squirrel has been munching on my tomatoes and now is the time for all-out war. He/she ruined three nearly ripened tomatoes in the past two days. As I pulled out of the garage this morning to head to the Y, I told the beast out the car window ‘I’m gonna go Lee Harvey Oswald on your ass’ from the strategic vantage point of the upper kitchen window. My pellet gun is locked-and-loaded. The thing can eat whatever it wants as long as it’s not the fucking tomatoes. Not after all these years of trying to grow the things.

So it’s settled; one or two nights in Chicago, a couple two or three in St. Paul, then down to Des Moines for several days, on to Grand Island for one, then up through the Sand Hills on Hwy. 2 to Sundance, Wyoming then traverse on west to Jackson. What a road trip it should be. I know it’s kind of odd to head out in the car but there is a sense of adventure to it. I’m looking forward to a strong cup of coffee as I hit the road in the early morning. Avoided, too, will be two expensive weeks of rental cars not to mention the nearly $800 airfare.


This is what the Week One lunch looks like for Liz, Reid and me. Not high cuisine, but good enough for the high country. I’d better get used to peanut butter and tostada shells; it’s the same lunch fare I’ll endure the second week in the Bridger Wilderness.

Plus, I get to see the girls and you guys on the way (and I’ll see you and Liz on the way back, Reid). The prospect of two-plus weeks in the high country is beyond exciting. The gear is being assembled on the guest room bed. If I get out toward Pinedale early, I may camp by the Hoback to see what might be foolish enough to take my iffily presented flies. It’s a stretch of big water that flows out of the Gros Ventre range just to the north of the Northern half of the Bridger. Ellen, ask Tim what sort of flies/sinking line I might need because it’s a lot more water than I’m used to fishing.

Since my golf game is in the tank and because it cannot possibly be the fault of the Indian rather than the arrow, I splurged on some new irons for the first time in 10 years. We’ll see what impact it has on my game although the impact on the bank account is already noticeable. My clubs won’t make the trip to Wyoming although there is that temptation.

A can of ceiling paint awaiting use is sitting in the corner of the living room. It’s just a matter of mustering the organization to get going on things. There’s a bit of drywall to patch behind the tub faucet in the new bathroom plus some painting here and there. Hopefully it sees more activity than the Harley; the price has been dropped Continue reading


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Ready, set, go – almost …

The annual countdown to Wyoming has started. We’re on the clock now. Reid and his wonderful girlfriend (that’s a direct plug) are on board for week one, and the Charlotteans are primed for week two.

It never gets old (maybe it does for you reading about it) but honestly, it’s one of the yearly highlights. I’ll do this every year that I’m able.

June 15, 2016

Ellen/Reid: So, the July travel plans have become official. I’ll drive due North to MSP to see you and the girls, Ellen (and Tim, too) before heading to Des Moines for a couple of days, then further West to Wyoming to rendezvous with you and Liz, Reid. And then, two weeks later, it’s back East to Chicago for a day or two layover before heading home to Charlotte. Now that’s what I call a serious road trip. But it really sounds exciting. And for the first time in a long, long time, we’ll try to go unshaven for an extended period. I hope not to frighten Georgia and Emma.

Reid, that Osprey pack will do wonders for Liz, plus she’ll have it for eternity and it has a lifetime warranty. Those Salewa boots would be great for her (if they pass the ‘style’ test). Just keep me abreast on the food situation. I’ll toss in the tent and extra sleeping bag. My Marmot should be plenty warm for her. Let’s compare notes on food in the next week or so. I really do need to up my game for dinners at the least.


Hopefully there will be a lot more of these cutthroats where these beauties came from (we’d settle for fat brookies, too). It’ll be Liz’ first time fly fishing. Let’s hope she catches dinner.

The lousy nighttime food from last year is still a bitter memory. Hopefully we’ll catch plenty of brookies for dinner (and hopefully neophyte Liz will do all the catching. It would be great for her to eat what she caught. Nothing would ever taste better).

It’ll be fun to be behind the wheel. There’s something liberating about hitting the open road, clutching a cup of coffee and turning up the tunes. I’ll make a brief stop in Omaha and Grand Island plus a side trip through Sundance to pick up the Sundance Times and Crook County News in honor of your grandfather and to see the old home, too.

The Harley still hasn’t sold. It’s depressing to not get at least some lookers. Seems like I’ll have to eat it and/or come way down in price. The more time that goes by, the more anxious I become. I’m on the fence about Miss Emma; it could always make the trip with me, I guess. Still have to jettison a lot more Continue reading

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Hours lost, time gained …

After a few changes and alterations on several fronts, I suddenly have plenty of time on my hands. Ostensibly the bike and I could take one final long adventure but I’m anxious for it to be sold and out of the garage. It’s the one thing Ellen asks about, so if you know anyone who wants a spiffy ’13 Road King Classic, let me know.

June 7, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Well, it does feel good to no longer be the editor even though I loved the work dearly. The sense of having time back is really quite valuable at this stage of the game. The letter to the owners was quite civil and I do like them, I really do, plus it was gratifying work but at some point you have to get paid.


With the editor job out of the way there’ll be no more pictures of babies at parades. I will miss the creative challenge but not the hours.

45-50 hours a week was just over the top. Already this morning I’ve wiped my hands of it. I do have some sense of responsibility to my writers so I’ll send one final email with their assignments. And then that portion of it will be done.

The Harley was repriced this morning to $14,900 since there has been no action at the higher price for the six days it’s been on Craig’s List. We’ll see if the reduction spurs any interest. I’m kind of surprised there haven’t been any lookers. It’s a good ride but it won’t make the trip with me. I sweetened the pot by making mention of a bike cover, helmet, assorted Harley gear. Hopefully that will pull a buyer out of the woodwork. I may ride it to Macs tomorrow night and put a little sign on it to see if that lures anyone in. I’m up in the air about selling the kayak but that’s probably on the block, too, even though it kills me to think Bowens Island will be in the rear view mirror.

One of my news writing classes got scrubbed since CPCC fell a few enrollees short of a full class. That’s disappointing but okay in that I’ll have plenty of other things to do to get ready. But the other class is still a go as of this writing so we’ll have to wait and see.

Reid, Katy is still on the hook for Wyoming. She sent a text today that she’ll make her final decision today. It’s going to be hard for Liz to find a rental backpack – it’s doubtful REI will do that – and it’s really important that she be fit for the right pack. Otherwise, she’ll be miserable. I’ll volunteer my Osprey if that would make things simpler for her. How the heck did it get by me that you already had a denatured alcohol stove? Your dad is really losing it, and at a rapid clip.

I stepped away from the golf group last week. It feels pretty good, too. Really, I was at the end of my rope, and my wits, after the years of doing it. I went out of character with some minor blow ups at a couple of recent outings. Losing my cool wasn’t good on my part. People were either late or switched pairings which threw things out of whack. That’s really what pushed me over the edge even though I’d been inching that way for a long while. But it was just time for someone else to shoulder the load of scheduling and herding the cats.

Alright. I’m done for the moment. I’ve got to make the Wyoming flight plans today, and so do you, Reid. I’ll let you know what flights I’m on. We need right-side tickets so we get the great view of the  Tetons on our approach into Jackson. Best and most scenic flight path in the U.S.

Love, Dad

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Losing at fishing and a countdown to the Bridger …

I’ve been AWOL the past few weeks with my blog posts (the letters to Ellen and Reid have still gone out) as I’ve wrestled with internal turmoil about my newspaper gig. That’s resolved now, and it’s time to keep on keeping on.

May 31, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Geez, there have been better weeks than the one that just passed. I dunno, stuff was just setting me off for all the wrong reasons. The letter to you is usually the first thing on the priority list but even it got bypassed for the first time in a long while. There just doesn’t seem like enough time to do the things that I want to do.

That includes a purge of stuff to get ready for the sale. The garage is a good starting point, then the closets, and maybe some of the furnishings. Only enough needs to be kept to furnish a two bedroom place. Hopefully, one can be found on a single floor so there’s no more going up and down the infernal steps (I re-goofed up the left knee by jumping out of a moving golf cart about a week ago. Idiot.). Things are pretty ship-shape mechanically speaking – knock on wood. Units here appear to be selling fairly briskly and at reasonable prices so we’ll see. The goal is still an Aug. 1 date on the market. Ellen, you guys came out smelling like a rose on the sale of your place, and the inspection report was a good one. That gives you clear sailing to pack up and move out. Let’s hope that holds true for the home you’re buying.

Went back down to Charleston with my buddy Ted and he crushed me from his rental kayak. He nearly swept all the bets we shook on. I got the first fish but he claimed the most and the biggest. What was disappointing was we only caught one in the slot, a speckled trout, which we gave to a black woman at the dock.


My friend Ted enjoys a cold beer – at my expense – after he out-fished me on what should be my turf: Bowens Island. But if you’re going to lose a bet, no better view than the elevated deck at the Bowens Island Restaurant.

Ted caught nine or 10 black drum to close me out. I caught eight, including a small shark. For like the fourth or fifth straight trip, there were no reds boated which was really disappointing. Reid, I think the barge is completely overfished and there’s not enough time for the fish to replenish their numbers due to all the unceasing pressure.

Since we intended to shove off at 3:45 a.m., he stayed the night in the guest room. The ride down and eight hours on the water were fine enough, as were the shrimp and grits at a really nice restaurant Ted knew of in downtown Charleston, but the ride back just finished me off. I only drove about 50 miles before ceding the wheel to Ted. I literally zonked out in the passenger seat. It was the most tired I’ve been in my adult life. I just could not wake up. We pulled into the garage about 11 p.m. and once we got everything situated and stowed, I re-zonked out in minutes. There has to be a better way to do things. Maybe it’s time to experiment with a new place on the water. I may try the open ocean just off Folly Beach but it would be a two hour paddle to reach there from Bowens Island so I’d need to find a closer put in spot. But this down-and-back nonsense has to stop.

Played golf twice with my group and didn’t comport myself very well. At the last second people re-jiggered my announced pairings and it throws everything out of mental whack for me even if their changes are minor. It just throws me for a loop and unfortunately, I teed off on people to let them know it. I need to bottle that in rather than let my emotions get the best of me. I embarrassed myself. But I’m a short timer in that someone else will take over the helm and we’ll organize by committee. A group of 12 has agreed to rotate the responsibilities to put together outings. I’ll be scot-free in terms of zero responsibility to herd the cats. I’m really looking forward to that, as no doubt are the people who witnessed my outbursts this past weekend. Perhaps that’s what really has me in a pissy mood this morning. But I am looking forward to two-plus weeks in the Bridger not that long from now. At least that will give me something to look forward to. That, and videos of Emma learning to ride her bike. Ellen, you can send as many of those as you can. Let Tim know the big Gregory pack and a few bags of coffee beans, plus some little things for the girls, will be shipped this week.

Love, Dad

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