Monthly Archives: February 2017

Should I stay or should I go? … a final answer


Call the old rock group The Clash clairvoyant or prescient, but 35 years ago they sang the very question that tormented me since late last summer: Should I stay or should I go?

The context of the question for the rockers was love; for me it was relocation. And the final answer for me: stay in Charlotte. My roots had worked themselves deep into the red clay soil after nearly 11 years.

All the agonizing, yo-yoing and back-and-forth is done. Ellen and Reid were first told in phone calls. Last week’s letter expanded on a thought process behind what was by far the toughest decision I’ve had to make in more than a decade. I will disappoint some people but make a few others happy. Still, a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.


February 20, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Last week was one I’ve worried about for the last few months. Yes, I’d gone back and forth and back and forth. It looked as if I wasn’t capable of making a decision – and that’s right. I wasn’t. That’s not how it appeared. It’s how it was. There’s nothing in recent memory in my nearly 11 years here that applied such a tight mental tourniquet. There there was no clear-cut answer, no internal directive that firmly, and with finality, declared ‘Here is what you should do.’ Every day was consumed, in part, with what to do. Partial credit has to go to your mom since I sought out her advice. We went back and forth about it, not at great length, but in her usual sense of clarity she was able to define the issues and ultimately cut to the chase: ‘Why move?’ That really helped. Locally I talked with my good friends Sondra and Andrea and their distilled counsel – Do what makes you happy – figured into the decision, too. The thing that is troubling is the near-continual public pronouncements about ‘I’m moving’ and now I wear the badge of a turncoat. I do wonder what people think or will think.

So here I’ll stay. The snail’s pace of the house sale figured into this, too. If it had sold immediately in October, as I assumed it would, then I would’ve been up to Des Moines in a flash and that would have been that. But the longer the sale took, the longer it plodded along, the more the doubts came into question.

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Even if I’d moved to the Midwest, it still meant a four hour drive to see sweet little Georgia and her big sister Emma in the Twin Cities. As for Reid, he would have been five hours away in Chicago.

I wondered about reinventing the wheel in all respects; housing, social life, golf, etc. It would have been almost exactly what happened when I moved to Charlotte although not quite as dire. Could I have been happy to lean on Val and Bob, Jane and Dave, Cheryl and Dave and Holly and Dana? Absolutely. But when I stepped back from that ledge I couldn’t get away from the fact that Charlotte feels like, and has felt like, home. Sure, I can get along anywhere I live, but the reinvention part was troubling. The ocean did come into play. I simply love toting Miss Emma to the salt water. Yeah, the weather here is glorious but that was no overriding factor.

I really appreciate how you guys took it. Ellen, I truly sweated over breaking the news to you. I had no idea how you’d take it other than that you might have a very strong opinion. Reid, I knew you’d defer to the same advice as Sondra and Andrea. Part of the final answer is a commitment to get to Chicago and St. Paul more regularly. That feels right. I do want to be part of Emma and Georgia’s lives and that can, and will, happen. I worried, too, about how friends in Des Moines Continue reading

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Patience is running out – I mean the patience of Ellen and Reid


It’s been a total, complete, patience-testing grind as far as the house sale and move to the Midwest are concerned. The kids have to be on the margins of fatigue; they’ve seen me whine and moan about it in the weekly letters for months on end. They’ve got to be as tired of reading about it as I am writing about it.

But all the stewing and fretting is about to come to an abrupt end. More on that next week.


February 13, 2017

Ellen/Reid: I dunno, this house thing is taking on a personality of the macabre. A flurry of visitors last week after the new listing but now nothing. There was a low ball bid from an investor looking for easy pickings but the offer was rejected out of hand. I have faith in the new Realtor. He thinks when a townhouse across the way closes sometime soon at $400,000 it will change the landscape entirely and will be the comp we need.

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It’s very old keeping the house spic & span for the few lookers who’ve paid a visit. But that’s all about to come to a screeching halt.

We’ll see. I was sitting out on the front steps yesterday wondering how this has come to this point. But my chin is still up. I keep my fingers crossed but they’ve been crossed for so long we can only hope they don’t freeze in that position.

Saw six deer foraging out back yesterday morning including one large doe that had some sort of bad rear leg injury. It was everything the poor thing could do to hobble along with the rest of the herd. Probably got dinged by a car over on Sharon View. With the coyotes around she probably will enter the food chain in fairly short order.

It was nearly 80F here yesterday. Some sort of record high. Could’ve played golf but the stinging rebuke from the sad round the day before was still with me. My skills are eroding and fast. It’s not the loss of distance that bugs me. It’s not hitting the ball solid.

Really had to work hard at Charleston last week. When a full moon tide is in effect, it’s like paddling against the current of a major river. At one point we reached the confluence of tidal current from two different branches of King Flats Creek and we literally paddled in place. Plus there was a harsh in-our-face wind that exacerbated things. It was really a grind. But I suppose that’s what makes the sport what it is. You have a paddle and you use it. My mindset on the drive down – knowing the conditions would be this way – was just to hang in there and get through it. I was also comfortable with the idea there might not be anything caught. But Miss Emma (I love that little boat) stuck with me and we landed a bunch of nice reds. What’s really fun is to see the expressions of the black oystermen when you ask them “Hey, how about a fish?” They work so hard for their share of oyster clusters. Nice to share the bounty. It truly is.

We head down again this Wednesday. I’ll cook for 20 on Friday and have got to make sure there’s enough redfish and black drum in the freezer. People have their pick of fish or steak. The menu will be slightly blackened fish with a fresh salsa topping that’s a spin off of Cowboy Caviar. Or, I’ll marinade several flank steaks for about 72 hours for the grill. I’m hoping to run into Mr. Richard during our voyage and if we catch enough of anything, we can swap a red or two for 40-50 pounds of oysters which would make for a fabulous grilled appetizer Friday night. People have been instructed to bring a side dish. I’ll bake some bread and whip up roasted brussels sprouts with garlic and pine nuts and keep that in reserve as needed. There’ll be sautéed shrimp, too.

Reid, watch for a call from my golf friend Luke. He’s an Irishman who founded a very successful IT company with 100+ employees that does business in the States and the UK. He’s got a strong entrepreneurial side that you might find interesting and he knows the ins-and-outs of the industry you’re trying to break into. He’s a great thinker/doer with a high energy threshold. And make sure you call Tom and Gene since it’s a little embarrassing for them to keep asking me when you’ll be in contact. They’re all good businessmen who have so much more to offer than the tepid ideas and encouragement you keep hearing from your mother and your old man.

Alright, enough. Ellen, I’ll see you and the girls and Tim next week. I’ll work the weight machines this week so I can have the strength to help you move. Can’t wait to see your new place.

Love, Dad

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Repeating myself …


There are times in letter writing when topics are rehashed – and rehashed. Then rehashed again for good measure.

Repetitious cases in point: kayak fishing, home sales, job searches, et al.

I wish it might be otherwise. But since we are creatures of habit we tend to do the same things time and time again. It’s just a matter of how you mix up the retelling of those reoccurrences. It’s all in an effort so Ellen and Reid don’t get bored more than they already are when they read the same things over and over. And over.


February 6, 2017

Ellen/Reid: This birthday thing is no big deal. It really isn’t. As of this moment I am declaring 67 to be the new 63. Knock on wood, but I’m feeling pretty good, continuing to not slow down (okay, maybe mentally) and feel generally pretty good about things. Of course, that’s a serious knock on wood. Life is fairly fragile and it can turn on a dime.

Ellen, your photos make it seem that you are ready to move in, maybe before I arrive in a couple of weeks. This really has to be a time of wonderment for the girls. They just have to be so excited at the prospect of their own rooms, their own bath, a new yard to play in. My perception is it’s a great neighborhood. Can’t wait to see it. It just looks so cool. Your contractors have really motored along. Can’t always say that about hired help. Maybe it’s the Minnesota work ethic.

Reid, tell me more about this London thing. Sounds intriguing. Are they paying you for your ideas and work? I wish I’d of visited you when you worked over there. Why didn’t that happen? That would have been a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see you in overseas action. That certainly was a marvelous experience. Once this home move comes to pass then I can turn attention to the Spain/England walkabout later this year. I’m going to pump some of the proceeds of the house sale into the trip. I’ll try to tap into the experience and wisdom of Tom and Vince and my friend Richard, all of whom have hiked the length of the Camino in one swoop. My penchant is to go over and hit the road  in an uneducated fashion but since I’m not the natural, intrinsic planner I need to take a step back and really get the logistics worked out. It will be a great solo adventure.

As for Wyoming there is now one more very interested/likely hiker. His name is Ted Ingold. He’s in my golf group and it’s 75/25 that he will make the trip. As of this writing it looks as if the likely hikers are Ted, Tom, Vince, Katy and me. Not a bad core group. Ted is really keen on fishing and being part of the great adventure. It would be great if you and Liz could make it, Reid, but when you land a new job your time will be spoken for. If we could entice another 2-3-4 people to sojourn with  us that would be fabulous. The more the merrier.

The new Realtor, the W Group, seems to have their act together. All three floors have been completely reconfigured per the suggestion of their stager. Frankly, she wanted to soften the rough edges Continue reading

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An uncalibrated guidance system … softening a man’s sense of style … and Miss Emma will find a new home


It is no secret that a huge chunk of my heart wants to stay in the South. Have I wavered back and forth – and back and forth? Absolutely. My internal guidance system seems uncalibrated. What was once clear is now muddied and what was once certain is now shaky. (I wonder, aloud sometimes, if it’s a selfish train of thought.)

Ellen and Reid both know that. But there are two little ‘X’ factors, ages 4 and 1, who are the tie breakers.

As for the pending move, one of the worst things a home seller can hear is “It looks like a guy place.” Ouch. Another sign I was late to the design and decor party. It’s as if I never showed up.


January 30, 2017

Ellen/Reid: It’s 31F this morning as this is written and it feels like the cold is seeping right through the brick walls of this place. I guess that’s why they make thick fleece garments. Hot coffee helps, too. Yeah, yeah, nothing like MN (20F) or IL (16F) but it’s all relative. You get the drift.

You need to know I’ve waffled on the move so much in recent weeks that my flip flops have surpassed the total waffles served at the local Waffle House. Some guidance has been sought from friends and the substance of their counsel boils down to ‘what makes you happy.’ Hence, the conflicting thoughts of simply staying put vs. 10 seconds later considering a move to Minneapolis rather than Des Moines since it would cut down on travel and would offer cheaper flights to Chicago, Reid. I’ve tried to balance the Salt Life, weather and friends here against the need to be closer to you guys. The lack of a relationship is a factor as well. There seems to be no going back, however, on the decision. Every time I see a photo of the girls it just solidifies it. Granted, it’s something of an atypical retirement move in reverse; heading North when loads of people up there pull up stakes to make their home base down South. What I’m not afraid of is reinventing the social/activity wheel. As much as it pains me to leave friends, I can always find things to do and people to do them with. I just have to keep looking at photos of The Girls in the weak moments.

The new Realtor takes over this week. He’s very aggressive and optimistic and at the right price point. He’s also pushing me somewhat on ‘staging’ although I have pushed back to encourage him to sell to the intrinsic strengths of the house. His agency sent over some ‘suggestions’ last night but the file has yet to be opened. If they wanted repainted walls and such, they can forget it. I’m not gonna second guess someone else’s sense of decor and style. Years ago, one of my Assoc. Press questions was to what degree do new homeowners repaint or change carpets. It was 80 percent in the former and two-thirds in the latter, so what’s the point? Sell to the basic strengths of the house. One thing I did agree to was a verbal suggestion to swap the leather furniture on the middle floor with the smaller, more fabric covered living room set on the first floor since it was deemed there was too much manly leather in a small space. That point makes sense. Funny that the first bid on Zillow was $345,000. Go figure. The house sale may put a crimp in my plans to drive up to your uncle’s retirement soiree in Grand Island. We’ll see how the first few days of the listing go.

Miss Emma and me will head back down to Bowens Island this Thursday. I am feeling the pinch to get down there with even more frequency since the house sale clock is ticking and the opportunity to fish will vanish entirely when the home sells.

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A fine trio of slot redfish … ideal for my Feb. 17 fish-a-thon. I dearly love the saltwater and will miss everything about it immensely but granddaughters Emma and Georgia are the tie breakers.  

Miss Emma will find an eventual home up at Cass Lake where you guys can put her to good use. The rods will stay in my possession. If/when I return for visits I can always rent a boat at Charleston Outdoor Adventures. They featured us in a video for their web site but I’m not sure it’s been posted yet. If/when it is, I’ll let you know.

There’ve been enough political rants – however well deserved – made in recent days that there’s no need for me to pile on any more other than to say ill-considered executive orders does not a leader make. He bypasses the other branches of government entirely. He’s just not very good.

Okay, I’m off to the Y to get today’s workout in. Ellen, heres to hoping your strep throat is healed by the time you get this. You’ve been burning the candle at both ends. And Reid, keep your mom and me posted on your job prospects. Our fingers and toes are crossed for you. Hi to Liz.

Love, Dad

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