Monthly Archives: December 2016

A decision is made: Mr. Angry Man stays …

There was some brief internal debate about a public airing of the rant in the first paragraph.

One argument favored it be kept intact. The other rationale urged its removal. (As regular observers may know, there are some topics that you will never read. Those are indeed cut out, to be seen only by Ellen and Reid and me.)

In this case, however, the decision was made to keep the opening pissy mood narrative. 

In large part letters aren’t – or shouldn’t be – happy-happy all the time. That’s not how life works. It would be disingenuous to only write about the good, the positive or the uplifting while other facets of my life remain in hiding.

The kids deserve to see the broader picture that is my reality. There are frustrations and there are disappointments and there are sad doings. And since I tend to wear things on my sleeve (as many writers do), there’s no reason you shouldn’t read about Mr. Angry Man, too.

December 19, 2016

Ellen/Reid: I woke up this morning Mr. Angry Man. I dunno, but things just seem to be getting out of hand on so many fronts I don’t know where to start. I’m tired of a house that hasn’t sold. I’m tired of no people even looking. I’m tired of squirreling away newspapers as packing material when there’s nothing to pack. I’m no slob by any means, but I’m tired of keeping up appearances when there are no visitors to take notice of a nice place. I’m tired of cooking for one with no one in my life let alone no one even interested in being in my life (there is the reality I won’t be here long term). I’m tired of a beautiful jet-black Harley spinning its wheels in the garage with no takers to appreciate it. It’s all just kind of mounted up in the past few weeks and the end game is it landed me in a frustrated, pissy mood.

But enough with the whine-fest. That’s now past. The recent bright spot was about 20 people over here Saturday night for a really fun soiree. Rather than cook (I did bake bread and warm up a delicious spiral ham), my friends all brought appetizers and wine/beer and we partied on from there. I really enjoy hosting this particular group of friends.


My friends Sondra and Jody emceed the Yankee Gift Swap in my lower living room. If the intent was to pawn off stuff folks didn’t want, it was mission accomplished.

Most guests, but not all, were golfers and they all get along well and they like being around each other. Sondra and Jody orchestrated a Yankee Gift Swap which was hilarious. I ended up with a goofy golf-themed bottle opener but it could’ve been far worse: some partier ended up with a peanut butter jar of nuts and bolts that was my contribution to the gift pile.

Reid, you’ll read this well after I see you later this week. The route is planned and computes to about a 10 hour drive. Miss Emma and I will shove off about 5 a.m. or so. When that’s done, it’s back up the way to Hilton Head the 26th through the 31st. Sondra and Jody and our friend Lynn will arrive later in the week owing to their job duties. That’ll give me and Emma a couple of days to fish new waters, maybe evening going offshore a bit to a spot called the Rock Pile. It’s roughly the midway point between Hilton Head Island and Tybee Island, Georgia. It’s where old seafaring ships dumped ballast before they sailed into the harbor of Savannah. My buddies, Dave Hemminger, Bob Furstenau and Dave Dahlquist have fished there with great success. The accumulated stones are home to big, thick bull reds and while it would be an adventurous 3-4 mile paddle, the waters aren’t that deep and might be worth the effort if the tides and weather are right (separately on Saturday night, Sondra and Jody gave me an emergency kit to keep in a dry bag on Miss Emma). I’ve never used the Glympse app so you can track me on the seas but I’ll do that on these coming salt water forays for certain. Ellen, be sure to send me Christmas pictures of the girls. That’s a real bright spot for their Papa. Also, give me some dates to come up for a visit so I can begin to acclimate myself to the frigidness. Man, the St. Paul and Chicago temps have just been horrid.

My appeal to Social Security is in the works although there’s no message as to whether or not they’ll summarily dismiss it or grant me an audience with a decision maker. I’ll keep you posted one way or another.

There’s a bunch of writing to do this morning so I’d better put my pouting on hold and get on with things. Reid, I’ll also head to the bookstore to see if they stock the titles you gave me. Ellen, tell Tim the redfish hat is very much appreciated. It’ll make the trip to Florida and South Carolina. I won’t be an official Southern redneck. I’ll just look like one.

Love, Dad


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The doctor is … out.

You’d think by now that I’d have the fishing trips pretty much figured out (given the thousands shelled out to catch even a paltry few fish). 

But there’s always an overlooked ocean voyage detail here and there that make for fodder for the letters. I wonder if this leaves Ellen and Reid shaking their heads. But there’s really no reason to wonder. I know.

Next week: Mr. Angry Man.

December 12, 2016

Ellen/Reid: I’m reminded every so often on my forays to Bowens Island that there are things that ought to be added to my must-take list. You can add medical supplies to that category. I hadn’t been on the water 30 minutes last week when a big speckled trout hit my mud minnow on a popping cork and the fight was on. The bad boy (girl?) didn’t want to be boated and as it flopped around on the center console of Miss Emma as I tried to disengage the 4/0 circle hook, the trout’s single 1/4 inch needle point tooth tore deep into my right index finger and made an ugly half inch gash, the fish’s retribution for a spot on my stringer. The wound bled profusely at which point served as a painful reminder there were no bandages or other supplies on board to staunch the bleeding. But necessity is the mother of invention so I pulled off the buff around my neck. With a few slashes of my bait knife, an emergency tourniquet was fashioned and wrapped around the cut and on I went. Rest assured salt water doesn’t feel so good but, hey, it was a lesson learned and now there’s a bag of bandages and tape in my personal floatation device. I’ll head down again this Thursday. I’ve arrived at a pretty good formula for the very long days; hit the road at 3:30 a.m. or so to get through the Charleston traffic around 6:00-ish, grab bait at Crosby’s and rig Emma so we can hit the water by 7:30. It’s enough for me to fish for six hours, get off the sea by 2:00 p.m. and get Emma loaded atop the Camry by 3:30 so we can scoot out of town and make it home by 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. That makes the days much more manageable and palatable versus the days when we’d pull into the garage all haggard at midnight or later. We again swapped two slot red fish for about 40 lbs. of oysters. Ten minutes on the grill and those make one hell of a meal. Ellen, I loved the way Georgia stared closely into the phone at the cluster of oysters. Her little mind was a-whirr. You could see her wheels turning: ‘What is that thing?’

The weather has been crappy here of late although nothing like the temps seen in St. Paul and Chicago. Cold, damp, windy. Hasn’t made the days very comfortable by Southern standards. The fireplace is roaring as I write this so the place warms relatively quickly. Still no buyers and very few lookers. In all candor,


This photo graced this page a few weeks ago. It’s reprinted today since somehow, some way, I’ve got to get the word out that this house is ready to sell.

I thought we’d be celebrating the holidays in the Midwest but we can only hope to convene in the spring. It looks like interest rates are ticking upward and my renewed hope is that some buyer will marginally panic and snap up my place to beat further rises. At least that’s the hope for now. (The other hope is that Trump and his Republican minions get their heads out of their collective asses on these weirdly stupid cabinet picks. The wife of a wrestling czar? Really?)

Reid, you should know that I’ll join you in the market for a job in pretty short order. I’m finding that Social Security simply isn’t enough to live on and the added income would be welcome. It doesn’t need to be all that much, a few Continue reading

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A stale house and the idiot …

You could chalk it up to shorter, darker days or cold and clammy weather or other seasonal affective disorders but damn, these past couple of months have been pure hooey.

Much of the disarray/disfunction and gloom-and-doom is utterly self-inflicted. There’s been a smattering of good news here and there, but geez, enough already. A ray of sunshine, though, is Reid and I connect in 10 days. And not a moment too soon.

(My note: no doubt you notice typos in the letters. This week’s one pager is no exception. I seldom re-read a letter as it is written. If a mistake is noticed as I type, it is fixed on the fly. Otherwise, after 10 or 15 minutes of writing, the pages are printed and are out the proverbial door. No effort is made to correct the errors for the blog. What was mailed is what you see, warts and all.)

December 5, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Well, there was one bright spot in a weekend otherwise marked by recuperating from a cold and sore throat; there were visitors very interested in the house but they have to sell their home first and their hope is my place is still available if/when their home finds a buyer. We can only wish that would become true. At this point I’m so close to the forest I can’t see the trees in terms of what needs to be done next to make the place marketable or at least draw more lookers. Until the visitors Saturday, there was some thought to yanking the listing lest it be seen as stale or viewed as a home with something wrong.

Ellen, glad to help on the mirror for the girl’s bathroom and the zoo. Reid, let me know what you want; Harvard Business Review or something else. And if anything remains on your most-wanted list, let me know that, too. Not a lot of attention was paid to Black Friday and all that other shopping hoopla. Just another excuse to spend money.

Alas, the tree isn’t up yet. That was on this weekend’s bucket list but I just didn’t have much energy to get off the couch. It’ll go up sometime this week. Reid, I take the car in later today for service that should prep it for the trek to Florida in a couple of weeks. I re-upped my Florida non-resident fishing license yesterday so Miss Emma and I can hit the saltwater if there’s any time to do so in the midst of the Christmas visit. Just let Liz know I’m very appreciative of the kind offer to intrude on her family time.

My good friends Sondra and Jody and Ted will head down to Hilton Head to use the timeshare, which is reserved Dec. 24-31. Reid, I will likely shove off from Marco Island on the 26th so I can join them for a few days on the way home from Florida. Since we have to check out on New Year’s Eve, the thinking is we’ll gravitate to Savannah or Charleston for the Dec. 31 celebration. We’re not sure which as of yet. It’ll be nice to have people use the unit rather than let it sit idle. This whole time share thing has kind of gotten out of control; I’ve been thinking of selling my share in the unit but am uncertain of how to go about it. Really, it has been completely squandered in terms of use over the past decade. Hilton Head has been so close yet so far. What an idiot.

I made another idiotic mistake earlier this summer on my Medicare for retirees. Just before I left to see you guys and drive on to Wyoming, a notice came from Social Security and I didn’t even open it, thinking it could wait for my return. Wrong. It was a payment notice for my monthly Medicare expense – and I missed the deadline and my Medicare Part A (medical insurance) was cancelled. Now, as a penalty, I have to wait for open enrollment in January with coverage not set to resume until July, 2017. I just couldn’t be more stupid and have kicked/cursed myself repeatedly over the past few days. Bob F., whose been counseling people on Medicare and Social Security, thinks I can appeal the error and I’ll try to do that this week. It has just been a complete downer that I brought upon myself.

On the flip side, it’s been great to get down to Charleston for fishing. It really is the best time of year to do go after fish. The cooler waters has tended to draw them in from the open ocean and they also tend to school a bit more at this time of year.


Can fish be friends? A bright spot for me has been the down-and-back escapades to Charleston to fish for beauties like this slot black drum. With a kiss on the snout and a shove into the drink, most of these biggies return to King Flats Creek.

That’s the real deal, finding the schools and that’s where the structure like the barge is a big help. Hopefully if I’m feeling up to it, I’ll head down this Wednesday for another stab at it. It really is fun. Tim sent me a YouTube clip about tailing reds south of Charleston and from what could be seen, Miss Emma and I are on waters very close to it. If they tide cooperates, I’ll loosen myself from the barge long enough to paddle into the shallows to see what we might find. It would be great to see tails swooshing around, let alone have something bite.

Love, Dad

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Oh, for a beer to go with oysters – a by-product of generosity and a delicacy on the grill …

Salt water fishing is a recurring theme in my letters. 

I like it so much I wonder why it took so long – eight years – to cast my first line in the inshore waters south of Charleston. The total investment is upwards of $4,000 in a kayak and associated gear – not to mention the travel and early morning departures to pursue red fish and black drum and speckled sea trout. It’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. And that means Ellen and Reid often – too often? – read about the all-too-frequent and goofy/poor skills fishing mistakes as well as the triumphs. 

But that’s why I write weekly letters – so they can know what I’m up to and why – even if it reveals my obsession with the Salt Life.

November 28, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Reid, thanks for the invitation to join you and Liz for Christmas at Marco Island. Sounds like fun, and I’ll be there for sure. That sounds like about the right length of time for a visit without overstaying my welcome. Keep me posted on the fishing charter. That will make a bit of difference when I arrive. Miss Emma will drive down with me. I may stick around in another part of Florida or head up to Louisiana to try the red fish up that way. Tim keeps saying how good it is and that might be the time to give it a go since we’ll be in the general vicinity.

Really have done well the last couple of weeks of fishing. Lots of reds (for a change) and big black drum. When not anchored at the barge I still have trouble catching anything in waters that are still a bit tricky to me. It seems you have to fish when the tide is headed out or by oyster beds. What seems to bite the most in the channels are the speckled trout which are, by the way, a truly delicious fish. The tactic to use is a popping cork, a rig with a sliding bobber about two feet above the hook. There are some plastic beads that make noise when the bobber slides back and forth, ostensibly attracting fish to the noise. Caught a nice flounder by surprise on it for the first time last week.

Came upon a trove of fresh oysters on Thanksgiving Day as a result of some dual generosity. I’ve gotten to know an older oysterman, Richard, and gave him a spare redfish a couple of weeks ago, for which he was most appreciative. While the reds were really biting last week – even for this hapless fisherman – he was across the salt creek working hard at an oyster bed and I gave him a yell to see if he wanted a red.


Here’s my take home pay the week after Thanksgiving; a trifecta of black drum, red fish and speckled sea trout. On T-Day, two red fish didn’t make the trip home with Miss Emma and me; they stayed behind with the oystermen.

He nodded ‘yes’ and when his local harvest was done, he and his crew mate came over to retrieve the 19” drum. When the fish was transferred to his flat boat, the boat hand surprised me by dumping a bushel of oysters, maybe 40-50 pounds worth, in the back of Miss Emma, nearly pushing our stern underwater. That gesture was worth another fish so now they each had a nice drum in their boat and I had big, juicy oysters. The three of us sat there for awhile as Richard pried open a bunch of the shellfish for our de facto Thanksgiving meal. ‘Oh, for a beer,’ I said and we all laughed. After the fishing was done and the boat was loaded atop the car, I poured the oysters into one of the rugged, untearable 35 gallon plastic sacks Richard uses to deliver oysters to a few top-end restaurants in downtown Charleston as well as the diner right there are the Bowens Island put in point. The oysters were covered in mud so when I got home in early evening I dumped the contents of the bag onto the driveway and washed them down as best I could and put them on ice in the cooler than held slot fish: two red drum, three black drum, and one trout and flounder each.

We roasted the bi-valves on the grill over the weekend, and holy cow, what a feast. They were just incredible.


Toss South Carolina oysters on the grill for 8 – 9 minutes, open a cold one and some cocktail sauce – now that’s some fine eating. It’s no tough task to open the bi-valves. Their shells wedge open during the roasting, putting the salty, succulent meat within easy reach.

The first night I overcooked them a bit – their shells tend to pop when really hot – but the second time they came out just perfect. Not bad with a beer and some horse radish. Since the fishing should still be good, Miss Emma and I will head to the barge one day this week and my salt water license also covers the collection of oysters. I’ll use a brick to jar them from the pillars near the barge and other open oyster beds. That will double the fun.

Here are a couple of fragrant eucalyptus leaves from a tree along my daily route. In the early darkness on Saturday and Sunday I’ll pluck a sweet smelling leaf from the tree and crush the aromatic foliage in my fingers just for the heck of it. Adds a little zest to the walk. Emma should like that fragrance. Thanks, Ellen, for Face Timing the girls with me. Love it.

Okay, over and out. Don’t be too late to get me your Christmas lists. ASAP. Stat. Pronto. As for me, it should be the usual – nothing. Really, there’s nothing I want or need. Other than a house sale but no way you can assist on that front.

Love, Dad

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