Monthly Archives: November 2017

Change is in the air …

Changes – and that’s a real big knock on wood – are afoot. Ellen and Reid got a whiff of the possibilities in this letter; they also got some phone call updates this past weekend. If nothing else, it will give us plenty to talk about at Thanksgiving in St. Paul. And more fodder to write about, too.

November 13, 2017

Ellen/Reid: So it appears the plans for Thanksgiving are set. A 2 p.m. dinner with the girls, then dessert over at Liz’s parents. That sounds fun. Reid, tell Liz, Donna and Tom thank you for the dinner invite but that would make two big meals in the space of a few hours and it would have been too much good food even for my healthy appetite. Ellen, I’ll be baking a lot of the day Wednesday, so if there are any special requests, let’s hit the store Tuesday and early Wednesday. Anything Emma and Georgia would like, other than pancakes or waffles? What’s Tim’s holiday schedule at 3M? Is he taking the bulk of the week off? I know it sounds a little odd to be scooting out of town on Saturday afternoon but I thought you guys might deserve a somewhat quieter weekend after all the hustle around T-Day.

It’s turned cold here, perhaps not by your Midwestern standards, but cold nonetheless. I’m telling you, 30 degrees feels downright frigid. It must be our damp air that slices right through you. Golf this weekend was liking teeing it up in an icebox. But golf might be on hold for a bit; somehow I goofed up something just outside my right elbow. Not debilitating by any means, just very sore. So golf is out of the picture at least for a little while. That’s not entirely a bad thing. Some lettuce and spinach was planted last week as a winter experiment; nothing has popped up so far and the expectations for a good crop aren’t terribly high. But there were some surplus seeds were left over from the summer so into the pots they went. I’ve got to make a do-I-stay or do-I-go decision on the house. This three floor thing is killing me. Not literally, but the heat rises so it’s cold during the day when I’m downstairs and warmish upstairs when I try to sleep. Something has to be done. The real estate market is still reported to be fairly hot and the notion of putting the homestead on the market has crossed my mind once more. Now, where to live?

My friend Tom has tossed out the idea of a rigorous hike around Mont Blanc in the Alps. That would derail plans for the Camino in Portugal. His suggestion sounds of great interest and what it will likely do is shove Wyoming back another year since the plan now, as it is, is to make this trip in late July or August.


Portugal may not look exactly like this scene along the Camino de Santiago in Spain, but the vistas can’t be that far different.

But I absolutely have to be back in time for the September wedding of Sondra’s daughter, Chianna. There’s still the notion of a rendezvous with Sondra and Jody in Paris toward the September but that might not be a fiscal possibility for me to both trips in such close proximity. But there’s a long time to go and planning to be done before this is a done deal. Still, Mont Blanc sounds fun. Tom says it’s a pretty tough route. You have to be adventuresome while you’re still able.

Reid, your countdown to Sri Lanka has started. I’ll make amends when we’re in the Twin Cities for Thanksgiving. Damn, kid, you really get around. It’ll be interesting to get your take on the island. The Tamil Tigers were active there for quite a while and I’ll admit to not having paid much attention to the turmoil in that part of the world. That’s gonna be one hell of a trip for you and Liz.

It is also good news, Ellen, about Georgia’s coloboma. She and her eye are going to be just fine. She really looked smashing in those perky little glasses. So stylish in her sweater and specs. Can’t wait to give you and the girls your trinkets from Spain. I hope they like them. There were lots of things to choose from but I couldn’t very well buy anything too heavy or bulky since there was not much room for extra stuff.

Alrighty, time to sign off for a Monday. I’ve subsisted on C+ chili for the past few days and it’s time to dream up some other recipe. There’s no telling what that will be but it will be something different. Gotta sharpen up the feeble cooking skills before we put it all on the line for Thanksgiving.

Love, Dad


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Two to love, one to not love at all …

It should come as no surprise that I’m no fan of the current president. Far from it. But who I am in love with is sweet little Georgia and her sister, Emma. Yes, these three entities are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but I’ll take those two darlings over the Tweeter any time. 

November 6, 2017

Ellen/Reid: So Trump has been in our official lives for a couple of days short of a full year. The only thing he really is, is a few bricks – maybe a lot – short of a full load. He’s been nothing short of horrific in so many ways. I don’t mean to harp on it, but regardless of what his base says, regardless of his NRA and evangelical support says, he’s still a serial lying-cheating-mean spirited (I’m mean-spirited, too on this issue), Russia-colluding, environmental dismemberment, Presidential debasing, twerp. Your dad is no paragon of virtue but Trump is the Gold Standard for a lot of things wrong with politics and the short sightedness of the American populace.

But enough on Melania’s husband. I’m really excited about Thanksgiving up in the Twin Cities. Ellen, I want to get the girl’s Christmas presents while I’m up there, and I can’t remember (that’s one thing I wish I had, Trump’s now-famous non-Russia situational memory) what it was you mentioned that they wanted, other than accessories for Emma’s American girl doll.


Georgia is only two but already she has her mother’s sense of style. Thanksgiving up in St. Paul with ‘G’, Emma, Ellen and Tim can’t come soon enough.

What should dear little Georgia get? Some guidance is really needed. And for Tim, too, and on your end, Reid, for Liz. Please toss your dad a bone on this.

Things are back to relative normalcy now. The ankle is 100 percent and my sleep habits are back to par, which means I wake up in the middle of the night without jet lag provocation to blame.

I picked up a writing gig courtesy of an old friend, Ray, in California and it’s been fun to put pen to paper on that. He and his wife have a very successful real estate biz and he’s been nice enough to follow the letters from afar. So he called and I accepted the assignment. It keeps me off the streets and out of trouble for the most part.

In an hour I’ll meet my friend Lynn on the driving range to tune up our sorry golf swings and then he and I will walk nine holes over at a muny. I’ve been invited to play in an event this weekend and my game could use the improvement so as not to embarrass myself or let my host down. We’ll play at a truly nice track up in Denver, North Carolina. It’s on the outskirts of Charlotte but still a smooth hour away by car. The others in our group, including two gay women, at really good sticks so we should have a shot at the title.

The frozen octopus is in the freezer waiting to bust out as pulpo. I will give that a shot sometime this week. As for the return trip to the Iberian peninsula, I’m hopeful the Portuguese trek will be in stone before much longer. It gives me something to look forward to and plan towards. The route is somewhat shorter, not quite 400 miles, I believe so it shouldn’t be as harsh on my ankle. It still winds up in Santiago, Spain. I mentioned this formative plan in passing to friends this weekend and they’re on board to meet in Paris once the hike is wrapped up.

Reid, I am so, so excited about the things you’re up to. You are making a go of it in a good way. The contractor project brings in nice money although your mom and I are perturbed at the firm that keeps dangling a full time job in front of you but never seems to follow through. Perhaps it is that as a start up they are up to their eyeballs and see you as frosting on the cake. Hopefully they will get to you sooner than later. The assumption is they wouldn’t string you along unless they had some relatively solid plans for you in their future. I’ll call you for an update later this week, but give us a jingle if/when some good news breaks.

The box of arborio rice is sitting next to the cook top so there’s risotto in my immediate future. Might even roast some brussel sprouts to go with it. Oh, Miss Emma and me will head to Charleston tomorrow to fish. Can’t wait. I’m letting you know so there’s no more ‘Dad-is-missing’ hullabaloo.

Love, Dad

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A guy can dream, can’t he? …

Of course, there are now cheaper plane fares to Spain. But those are only noticed once you get home. It figures. If only I had the nerve to pull up stakes and go back at a moment’s notice.

Still, now there’s something to look forward to next year – a return trip, this time a south-to-north Camino-esque hike in Portugal that may well end up in the interior of France. Ellen and Reid can only hope this is the last they read of it. But they know once their old man is unleashed on a topic they’ll get a steady diet of my plans.

October 30, 2017

Ellen/Reid: It’s been a bit of a slog to get back in the swing of things. There’s been just a little bit of jet lag but a lot of general fatigue. Having slept Sunday morning until 10:30 must be the indicator of such. The right ankle is still a bit sore and tender but it’s on the upswing. Didn’t bother me a lick at this morning’s Y workout. The workout bothered me, but not the ankle.

All the gear is unpacked and stowed and the trail clothes are clean at last. It’s kind of serendipitous to put everything away, wondering when and if those things will be used again. But the answer is of course they will. Since there are different Caminos all over Europe, and since I travel on a budget, the south to north route through Portugal has some appeal. That route, as they all do, ends in Santiago, Spain. So that’s what I’m gonna do next fall: the body willing, return for another hike that will mirror this just-concluded one. There’s another incentive. Sondra and Jody have tickets to the Ryder Cup golf event in Paris at the end of September and what I might do, what I could do, is time the walk so as to meet them in France for the tournament.


I want to experience more of this …


… and this …


… and eat more of this.

There’s a lot of planning to do but mostly that will be the plane ticket and knowing the route since I already have the 16-17 lbs. of gear thing down pat. I did find octopus at Whole Foods and am primed to take a stab at preparing pulpo, a delicacy in northwestern Spain. You boil the octopus for about an hour, slice the tentacles into disks, then drizzle it with olive oil and paprika and course salt. It’s divine and way better than it sounds. I looked for it at every cafe on the trail and would eat it when I could.

I’ve been following the domestic events in Spain with some trepidation. I watched the demonstrations only yards away from the flag wavers and Civil Guard lines. The Catalans take independence very seriously but there are a lot of Spaniards who take keeping the nation together just as seriously. There were an estimated one million pro-Spanish marchers in Barcelona over the weekend and part of me wishes I’d still been around to witness that spectacle. My friend Franky, who lives in Alicante in southeastern Spain, has sent me a few messages about the goings on. He has family up in Catalonia and he’s worried about them but my sense is the Spanish are civil and genial enough to avoid any sort of protracted violence. It appears the majority of Catalans aren’t in favor of separation but the region is so wealthy it kind of bristles at having to share its wealth with the rest of Spain. Spain has only had independence since the facist Franco regime was upended in the 1970s. So in a way they still are undergoing some growing pains.

There have been two Airbnb guests here since Friday and they’ve been just fine. The couple was here for a wedding and are set to leave this morning. They brought their little dog with them and aside from some barking here and there she’s been a good girl. I was a little hesitant about their reservation since they made it while I was in Spain but it was hard to turn them down even though I really wanted the weekend to be one to relax alone rather than worry about having the place ship shape. But all in all it’s been good. I’m still on the fence about this Airbnb thing.

Looking forward to seeing you both, the girls and Tim for Thanksgiving in St. Paul. Ellen, I really do volunteer to do a lot of the cooking. Is Tim planning to smoke the turkey? That would be great. I can concentrate on the stuffing, fresh bread and other side dishes. The photos of the girls in their Halloween costumes have just been adorable. It reminds me of how I used to sneak the chocolate candy out of your bags when you were kids. Must be some sort of adult tradition. Heaven forbid you and Tim would do that.

The weather is cooling down here quite rapidly. Nice to see the change in seasons. Had to turn the heat on for the first time if only to keep my weekend guests comfortable. And their little dog, too.

Love, Dad

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