Category Archives: Contact

Texting = de Quervain’s Syndrome…


The little nodule on Bob's wrist is a sign his knotted-up tendons have rebelled against his rampant use of phone technology.

My friend Bob in Des Moines goes under the knife soon for an entirely self-inflicted, and typically painful, ailment known as de Quervain’s Syndrome (aka washerwoman’s syndrome or mother’s wrist).  Basically, it’s a repetitive motion injury.  It was first identified in 1895 by a guy named Fritz, and Mr. de Quervain had no idea his observations would apply to more than scrubbing floors and lifting babies.

Seems Bob has texted way, way, way more than a wrist can handle.  Look up the textbook definition of repetitive motion injury and you’ll see Bob’s name.  Bob is a tech guy’s techie.  He knows his way around an iPhone better than anyone alive.  That includes the developers.  Just as the rest of us are trying to figure out how to direct dial, Bob pushes the boundaries of tech-knowledge.  In Coeur d’Alene he drove us nuts with continual and usually unsolicited demonstrations of “apps” that ranged from a circular rotating compass to guide our way if we got lost to a hand-held seismograph that recorded his heart beat or jolts when the SUV hit bumps in the road.  We rode Bob hard (the derision was good natured) about his addiction to technology.  Bob’s loss is the hand surgeon’s gain.

Let it be said that unless I begin to sit awkwardly at my laptop keyboard, I should manage to avoid de Quervain’s Syndrome or a similar overuse ailment.  I suppose correct posture and proper ergonomic design of a keyboard are a saving graces to letters.  Bob will recover soon enough to rejoin the ranks of texters, although I hope he’ll subscribe to whatever  “app” will make it easier on his thumbs.

——————

Here’s today’s letter to my mother.  A seven minute exercise from start to finish.  Things are improving for her medication-wise.  I hope this letter adds a minute or two of brightness to her day.

September 24, 2010

Mom: Officially it’s supposed to be fall right now but the weather guy says today will be another day in the 90s.  Your first frost can’t be far behind and we still worry about sun screen and tee shirts.  There are now drought conditions in some parts of the Carolinas.  I have a little drought situation in my own neck of the woods; the plants in my window boxes are goners since they had stopped flowering and I stopped watering them.  I’ll replant something in their place.

Was on the porch the other day when I noticed that my parsley plant was awfully scrawny and didn’t have many leaves.  On closer inspection, it was filled with a yellow and black banded caterpillar of some sort.  They had munched the plant to nearly nothing.  So I picked them off and squished them.  But in an idle moment I wondered what they were so I looked up North Carolina caterpillars on the Internet.  It seems these were destined to turn into Swallowtail butterflies, and here I’d just assassinated about 20 of them.  If I’d known that I would’ve let them live.  Incredibly, the background on the worms said they preferred plants in the parsley family.  Well, they found mine to their liking.

Was in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho last weekend with some friends from Des Moines.  These were guys I’ve known a long time, and it reminded me how I’ve not been able to see old friends for quite some time.  So it was good in that regard.  We played golf and had a great time eating and laughing (drinking wine a little bit, too).  We played a course where they had an island green you had to take a boat to reach.  The kicker was if you hit the green on your first shot you got a certificate.  I plunked my ball in the water the first day but got a certificate on the second day.  It wasn’t a gimmee in that it played about 165 yards both days.  Nice course, and it was in the mountains which I have missed.  Flew over some familiar mountains in Wyoming.  That was fun to see.

Ellen goes to Des Moines this weekend for some event.  Reid told me last night he wants a new computer but this time he’s going to build one.  How the heck do you build a computer?  He’s already got a jazzy laptop but he says that’s not powerful enough for all the stuff he wants to do.  Don’t ask me what he wants to do but he needs a mega-computer to do it.  Good for him.  He had a good review at his ad agency job this week.  That made his week.

Not much going on in these parts.  Probably take the bike out for a spin this weekend.  Likely will head to South Carolina for the day Saturday.  The forecast is for rain on Sunday which is sorely needed around here.  Of course, the big news is I leave for Grand Island in a couple of weeks and will see you very soon.  Just make sure the ice cream shops are still open, and I’m sure we’ll find a good joint for a burger and a beer.

2 Comments

Filed under Contact, Friends, Technology, Writing to friends

A three part endeavor…


I know the paths very well on these mountains. It's the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming: my favorite place in the whole world. I'm going back there in 2011 come hell or high water. These wonderful peaks are a big part of what you'll read about next Tuesday.

Writing is, I think, a three part endeavor.

A huge chunk is inspiration.  Researchers know that writers write best when they have an emotional connection to their subject.  Then there is affinity.  If you identify with the written word, you’re money ahead.  The final leg on the tripod is the diligence to refine your skills.  Like anything else, the more you work at it, the better you become.  Practice, practice, practice.

So it was that as I idled in the coffee shop at the Charlotte airport the other day, a young woman seated next to me was pecking away at her hand-held.  Her thumbs would punch a few keys.  Moments later an apparent response came in, and she’d then hit a few more keys.  The process repeated itself for a few minutes.  My eyesight is such that I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) make out her keystrokes.  What was she learning?  Certainly she wasn’t crafting full sentences or punctuation.  Even so, she forced herself to form ideas and thoughts, however cryptic.  I wondered, too, how or if she might make the transition to the sort of writing I prescribe because you can’t live by acronyms and partial sentences alone.

She got up and left soon enough, still pecking away as she walked.  Her approach was better than nothing, although her ingrained habit may not allow her to stretch her writing wings far enough to move beyond the small screen of her phone.

—————

Here is last week’s letter to Ellen and Reid.

September 13, 2010

Ellen/Reid: You cannot believe the itinerary Jane H____________ sent me for this week’s trip to Idaho.  It’s almost a work of art.  I forgot to bring it to the office but I will photocopy it so you can see the attention to detail.  Every bone in that woman’s body is creative.  I’ve had to force myself to not look forward to the trip but now am getting somewhat jizzed over it.  It will be good to see the guys.  I talked to Dave last week and he’s easing back into things.  My assumption – and wrong at that – was they pulled up roots and moved to Naples, FL.  But they are back in Des Moines.  I’ll call you two from the road this week.

Your uncle is dead-set that I will be in Nebraska the week of October 4.  Sounds like an Odyssey to me.  I’ll make a bee line straight to Grand Island to see your grandmother for a couple of days and then we’ll work around your grandparent’s home in Omaha.  Ellen, your idea to stash the fine china at Jane’s place is a good one.  Consider it done although I wouldn’t mind the further Odyssey to St. Paul to see you and Mr. T.  Reid, if I head up to MN then I would likely stop in Chicago to see you.  Most of the tools will be given away to Goodwill although I’ll keep some aside for you and will bring those to Charlotte.  I suspect my car will be filled to the gills once I get back home.

Nothing happening on the job front.  No interviews.  That’s mildly discouraging although from what can be gleaned from the business pages of the newspaper it’s not entirely uncommon.  I’m far from giving up, however.  Ellen, your comment about the ‘R’ word isn’t too far off.  It has some credence to it.  In some ways it might be okay to scale back the totality of the work effort, particularly if something hourly could be found.  So I may well go down that path although, Reid, I still want to build out the web site for a side – and perhaps full time – PR and media relations business.  I still have something to contribute in terms of skills and experience.  It’s just hard getting people to take notice.  If I did find something hourly, say, at Williams-Sonoma or some place like that, then I could write in the morning and work in the afternoon and early evening.  I would be down with that.

To compensate for things I’ve been taking more walks.  Therapeutic in every sense.  I can blow the steam off, think about things to come, blow off a little more steam and just get in a pretty good workout.  Usually its 45 minutes to an hour or a bit more (minimum 2.5 miles and usually 4.25) although last weekend I got carried away on a six miler on a hot day and was really dogging it the last half hour or thereabouts.  I’ve learned my lesson.

We have established that there is literally no traffic on South Carolina highway 341 out of Florence toward Charlotte.  It cuts straight through backwater portions of South Carolina and in all honesty, in 50+ miles of table-flat road there was only one or two cars seen in either direction the entire way.  It connects nothing to even more nothingness.  Backwater South Carolina is interesting for no other reason than the housing.  Much of it is manufactured.  The Harley is the best way to see the countryside especially at 50 miles per hour.  If I had hair, the wind would blow through it.  Lots of riders in those parts don’t wear helmets but I keep mine on.

Haven’t played golf with my singles group in going on two months now.  Every time someone asks me when I’ll come back my response is ‘when I get a job.’  No other way to approach it right now.  As much as I miss golf and the group it will just have to be this way for the foreseeable future.  My hopes are still high, so I don’t want you two fretting too much about your old man.  Things happen for a reason, and when the right thing does happen, you’ll hear me yelling from here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Contact, Correspondence, Technology

A seat at the conversational table…


You don't get to see Reid often...but here's the lad with his old man as we wait for a flight out of Omaha in mid-June. He's a good kid and is the king of digital advertising.

It would be easy to see why most folks perceive I’m overly reliant on weekly letters to Ellen and Reid with a few texts tossed in for good measure (we rarely e-mail each other).  True, letters do a lot of the heavy lifting.  But not all.

One cannot hide behind letters alone.  In a way, the letters are a seat at the conversational table.  Each page gives us an opening on the phone; i.e. ‘I saw this in your letter’ or ‘tell me more about that’ or ‘what’s up with this?…’  The letters give us something to talk about once we get past the obligatory ‘what are you up to?’  ‘Oh, not much’ banter.

At the least they have some advance warning about what’s happening on my end of the spectrum.  Perhaps subconsciously they gain time to process information before their custom ring tones alert them that dad’s on the line.  Better pick up the phone, guys.

——————

Since I’ll be on the road this weekend, I sent my mother her typical letter a few days early.  Nothing earthshaking to share this week.

September 16, 2010

Mom: Now it’s clear to me why skin doctors make the big bucks.  There are lots of people in their waiting rooms and the waits are long.  This morning I lounged for about half an hour before they called my name – and my appointment was at 8:15.  He gave me a good going over followed by a stern lecture about the sun.  He snipped off a little thing on my nose and sent it in for a test and the results should be back in a few days.  We’ll see how it goes.  He underlined the urgency by wanting to see me again in two months.  I’ve become an annuity program for him.  I’ve been trying to wear sunscreen and hats as much as I can.  I think this is residue from my lifeguard/pool manager days back in the swimming pool business all those years ago.  If only we’d known then what we know now.

I’m trying to gear up for a car trip out your way in the next month or so if I can swing it.  I can’t wait to stop by your place and check out your new room – and also check out the food.  If it passes my inspection then it’s good.  No doubt we’ll make a break and head out to some restaurant or ice cream joint that I know you’ve been to.  I’ll stay with Ralph and Gayle, and probably make a side trip to Des Moines to see my friend Steve.  I’ll bring my woolies with me since the temperatures out there will probably be far cooler than the heat we’ve been having here.  Yuck.  But it’s good for my tomato plant.

Nebraska seems to be cruising in football.  Their schedule isn’t the toughest and that may hurt them in the rankings.  Of course, none of the Husker games are broadcast down here and we’re stuck watching Southern teams play Southern teams.  It gets a little old.  I’d rather watch the “name” teams play.  The local pro NFL team, the Panthers, got waxed last week by the New York Giants and already people are saying the entire season will stink.  Probably so.  They’re just not very good.  Hey, they could pay me a million and I’d make a few tackles.

Rode by some cotton fields in South Carolina last weekend while out on a cruise on the Harley.  The locals say they don’t’ see as much cotton grown around here because all the cotton business has moved to China and other factories overseas.  This used to be a big area for cotton mills and cloth and clothing but all you see nowadays are plants that are shut down and shuttered.  I’m telling you when you ride the back roads in the Carolinas you wonder what people do for a living.  It’s depressing.

Hey, Ralph says your new medications are nothing short of wonderful.  That is wonderful.  Glad they finally found a combination that works.

No news from either Ellen or Reid.  But I take that as a good sign that they’re not in trouble (that I know of) and they’re keeping their noses clean and going about their business.  Like Andy and Joe, they are living their own lives.  Can’t wait to see you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Children, Contact, Family, Parenting, Writing to adult children

Turn back the clock…


This is something I'd of never seen in the Midwest. Stopped the Harley on little-used SC-341 near Darlington, SC for this shot of cotton.

My guess is the first heady days of college life have gone poof for most kids.  Their lives have settled into a routine; study (their parents hope), eat, sleep, hang out with friends, and sure, party.   Okay, maybe those aren’t ranked in the right order.

By now, because they can’t stand the suspense of not knowing what’s going on, parents have initiated some sort of ‘how are you?’ contact.  That’s the typical formula.  Probably a mixture of emails and texts.  Schools might as well yank mailboxes because those will never see much use.  No, scrub that.  Then the credit card offers would never have a place to land.  But on further review, maybe yanking the mailboxes isn’t such a bad thing.

I’ve heard from a dozen people or so about my op-ed piece in the Charlotte Observer.  What a great idea, some say.  We should all do that, say others.   I don’t know.  Maybe my time, the time of correspondence, has truly gone by.  You can’t open up the newspaper these days without Google trumpeting a new something or other to make our lives even faster or more socially networked than they are now.  More efficient, too.  But we damn well can’t turn back the clock, that’s for sure.  I’m whining on a Monday morning.  Time for coffee.

——————-

Here is last week’s letter to Ellen and Reid.

September 7, 2010

Ellen/Reid: Reid, it was good to talk to you at length yesterday.  I like the way you think although I don’t pretend to understand but a small portion of your digital world.  This morning I’ll open up your emails and try to get through the web site stuff.  I really appreciate your help.  By this weekend most of the heavy lifting copy-wise should be finished.  And be sure to send at least cell phone pix of your new bachelor digs.  There’s something about privacy that you just can’t beat.  You shouldn’t be concerned at all that you don’t live in what others perceive as the tony section of Chicago.  It’s all about what makes you tick, not them.

So today was your first day in the classroom, Ellen.  Will be anxious to get the lowdown on your first week with the kids.  No doubt you will be a smash hit just like you always have been.  Good to get back in the whirl of teaching.  That is your realm.  Your weekend had to be lively and exciting what with Tim’s brother in town.

I overlooked a good Bubba story last week.  When Felicia and I were out west – out in western North Carolina – we were fishing a little stream on Saturday morning.  I was several yards out front working my way up the pools when I turned around to see where she was and she was frantically motioning me to hurriedly get back to her.  Maybe I’d come a little too close with a fly or something.  But her anxiety was real: we had a visitor.  It seems a local Good ‘Ol Boy, shirtless and maybe toothless and his backwoods element, had been spying on us from the bank.  Felicia had spotted him peering through the underbrush.  My guess is he was eyeing her instead of me, but it was fairly unnerving.  I never saw him, but a local confirmed later that Bubba was a little out of kilter.  All we could think about was Deliverance all over again.  We got out of there real fast.

Nothing new to report on the job front.  In a few week’s time I’ll be done here.  Already I’ve packed up most of my personal belongings and my cube is nearly barren of all but bank paperwork.  I’ve been taking stock of the past few years here, trying to make sense of what has unfolded (as opposed to unraveled).  I think I was a square peg in a round-holed world.  In the strictest sense, banking was simply not my cup of tea.  Now it’s on to whatever it is that lies ahead of me.  Fleishman-Hillard is a possibility but only as a contractor.  Better than nothing and it is in my wheelhouse.  The Charlotte Observer has approached me to write a regular column on senior housing issues – hey, I’m a senior – but it will hardly pay the bills.  But that’s where your help on the web site will come in handy, Reid.  I really appreciate you pulling all that stuff together and I’ll get at it this morning.  You’ve in essence dragged me kicking and screaming into the new world.  It will be a slow build but will be interesting if not fun.

Kind of a slow weekend in these parts.  Rode through Asheboro, NC and up to Winston-Salem to the Harley dealer.  Only then did we realize we’d already been to that dealer.  A pair of idiots.  It was a true senior moment.  The other high point was staining the front deck with some sort of water-proofing compound.  Big whoop.  The tomato plant, however, has made a resurgence in the face of my best efforts to neglect it.  There are fruits on the vine although the orbs are size-challenged.

This time next week I’ll be in Idaho with Bob and Dave.  I’m somewhat anxious about the trip because it is going against my grain.  That is, hold fast to the home front to keep plugging away for a job.  But has Bob has hammered into me time and again, things can wait.  Ready to see the Real West again even in the face of angst.  FYI…I will likely head to Nebraska to help your uncle Ralph tie things up relative to the home and to see mom in Grand Island.  There may even be side trips to St. Paul and Chicago, so watch out.  Keep your cell phones charged and ready for a call.

Leave a comment

Filed under College, Contact, Correspondence, Mailing, Parenting, Writing to college students

One dollar words…


If I don't grab the chance to write Mary and henry now, the chance will slip by.

When I was a U.S. housing columnist for the Associated Press, one of the guiding tenets was to keep the story as simple as possible for the reader.  You don’t need to be a journalist to grasp that concept.  No one dollar words  when a 25 cent word will do.

The same with letters.  Here are two one pagers written early today.  Both share some of the same material but the telling took a slightly different path in each one.

The first is the usual weekly note to my mother.  In her unfortunate state, it’s fine to update the same topics from week to week.   The sentences tend to be short and uncomplicated.  So are the paragraphs.  Sure, I want to be informational but also to let her know she’s still important to me.  If the page occupies a few moments of her time then we’ve both won.

The second letter is to my dear aunt Mary and uncle Henry (aka Hank).  They live in Portland, OR and face their own health and life challenges.  He’s a former minister (and my mother’s brother) and Mary is a proverbial live wire.  I’ve missed them over the years and this past summer was a chance to reconnect with them and their two sons, Tom and Tim.  Henry asks about his sister at every opportunity.  This letter is another such opportunity.  I can be open and candid with these two.   They are part of the family equation these past few months.  If I don’t tell as much of the  story as I can in what is essentially a one-off letter, it will never get done.

——————–

September 10, 2010

Mom: Never in another million years did I ever think to see you sitting on the back of a Harley, but now I’ve seen it all.  Country House was nice enough to send along photos of the bunch of you perched on the Hog as it tooled around the neighborhood on a pretty day.  That really looked fun.  Hopefully his pipes were loud enough to shake things up a bit.  It’s fun that they have lots of activities for you guys.  If and when I ever get my bike out there we’ll take a ride for real.

I hear through your other son that they’ve dialed back some of your medications.  That’s good.  I’m taking one aspirin a day plus a vitamin, and that’s about all I want to take these days.

Just heard from Ellen this morning and she’s giving a thumbs up to her first week of teaching second graders in St. Paul.  The full debriefing should come sometime this weekend.  She’s got mostly immigrant children so their language skills are all over the map, literally.  She is supposed to send photos of her new classroom and when she does that I’ll include one in the weekly letter.

As for Reid, he’s doing okay, too.  He’s liking his new studio apartment but the one down side is he has to haul out his laundry to the local laundry place.  There are worse things however.  He’s really working hard at his job and liking it quite a bit.  He rides his bike around Chicago quite often and it would be a cheap way to see the city, plus he gets some exercise.  I’d like to see him join a gym but am not sure what his monthly budget allows.

Last weekend was not a real big weekend for me.  Rode my Harley a few hundred miles up toward Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  A nice ride through the countryside.  Stopped at the local Harley shop for a few minutes, then on back home.  Spent Sunday re-staining and waterproofing my little front porch but it looks a lot better now.  You wouldn’t believe how many townhomes are for sale in my little development.  By my count the total is 12.  Times are tough for lots of people and the payments are just a little more than lots of folks can muster month in and month out.  My guess is that Grand Island’s economy isn’t nearly as bad as it is in these parts.  Lots of people looking for meaningful work.

Spent part of Labor Day morning at my church helping to paint the rooms on the second floor of our big secondary building.  It’s being converted to a temporary shelter for homeless women.  It had been vacant for quite some time and needed a good sprucing up.  It’s a good use for the space and the congregation is fully behind the project.  It will house around 50 women in a dorm-type of situation.  Well you be good, and don’t ride into the sunset on that guys Harley.  Not a bad idea, though.

——————-

September 10, 2010

Mary and Henry: This note is long, long overdue, and after this summer, it’s high time I brought you up to speed on most things.

Hank, your sister seems to be doing better these days.  She had a rough patch last month, and Ralph took her to another unit in Hastings where she had a thorough evaluation which was probably long overdue, too.  The end result is that the doctors throttled back the hodge-podge of medications she’d been taking.  The disparity of drugs seemed to throw her for a loop.  She’d been shifted from enough places that with every move came another tweak to her medications.  Now it appears that it’s been ironed out (knock on wood).  She’s back in Grand Island now and appears to do pretty well.  I don’t get to talk to her all that often but when I do she sounds chipper and alert.  She’s somewhat restless though, yet she doesn’t talk about Omaha and the other events.  On the whole I’m glad she’s there because Ralph has seen her just about every day.

I may get out there in October.  We’ve got some estate things to do along with a fair amount of packing at the house.  There have been a lot of people troop through it but there’s not been a single offer.  It’s a reflection of the local economy.  People just aren’t in the market for a home, and if they are, they know they are in the catbird seat in a buyer’s market.

I’ve been in touch with Tom now and again.  He’s a good guy and he keeps me posted on you guys.  He follows my blog relatively religiously (not many people do) and it keeps him up to speed on the latest news.  I can’t tell you how much it meant to have he and Tim shepherd the two of you to Omaha during those trying days.

Tom may have told you I’m back in the job market.  My stake is firmly in the ground in Charlotte so this is where I’ll cast my lot.  Since I’ve come back to the Presbyterian church (I edit the church newsletter and will send the next installment to you.  You can see past issues online at Caldwellpresby.org), my pastor has been beyond supportive.  I’ll admit that my feeble power of prayer has not been extended to the job hunt since it’s my belief that God has more important things on his plate (i.e. showing the divine light to the bizarre Koran-burning, publicity-seeking whack job in Florida) than something as mundane as employment.  Honestly, I’ll be content to ride things out with any sort of work that can be shut off at 5:00 without taking any of it home with me.  I’m fine with that.

Well, it’s back to the job hunt.  I suppose you two will hear from me with a little more frequency now that mom has landed in what looks to be a longer term solution for her.  Don’t think for a minute that you guys haven’t landed in the right spot.  It was the right decision when you made it and it will continue to be so.

2 Comments

Filed under Contact, Correspondence, Family, Parents

Cut the string, not the tie that binds…


The three amigos. We don't get together often, but when we do, we have fun.

The Charlotte Observer, obviously hard-up to fill space, was left with no alternative but to run my op-ed piece (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/09/01/1658443/parents-should-cut-the-string.html) about the worthiness of letters to children as one method of connectedness.  The paper opined a few days ago that parents should snip the string quickly once their kids are in college.  My response was yes, cut the string, but not the tie that binds.

There are worse things than wanting to remain a factor in the lives of your kids.  And far less invasive means of contact.  Is it such a radical idea to want to stay in meaningful touch?

My agenda is not their agenda and isn’t intended to be.  Get on with your lives, guys, but here’s what’s going on in your old man’s life.  Here’s all you need to know in the space of whatever-number-of-words it is (650 or so).  Read it in the morning, or while sorting through the day’s mail, or while you’re idling on the El to Chicago’s Loop, or after work or before you go to bed.  It doesn’t matter when.  But know that week-in and week-out, something other than a bill or a solicitation will land in your mail box.

——————–

My mom gets something in the mail every week as well.  Here’s what should land in her mail box early next week in Grand Island.

September 3, 2010

Mom: Weather seems to be the big news around here these days.  Lots of folks are scurrying from the Outer Banks today as they try to escape the heavy winds and rain of Hurricane Earl.  He’ll brush by there sometime in the next 24 to 48 hours.  We won’t feel much of him in Charlotte.  The weather folks say we’ll get at most a light breeze.  And given the temperatures we’ve had of late, that breeze will be most welcome.

We have endured 90+ days of temperatures over 90 degrees.   90+ days.  It’s just been awful.  And the humidity just makes it feel that much worse.  At least September is here and hopefully the temperatures will moderate a little bit.  I noticed in this morning’s paper that you guys have been getting some 50 degree mornings which would feel wonderful to me.  Your first frost can’t be that far away.  As for us, the only frost we’ll feel is when we stick our hands in the refrigerator freezer.

I was a little too quick to lambast my tomato plant.  A little fertilizer and a lot of water and – bingo – there are finally actual tomatoes on the vines.  The largest is about the size of a tennis ball which is a significant upgrade for that plant.  It has grown to about six feet tall so there’s plenty of growing potential for tomatoes.  It’s been tough in this heat for fruit to set but it seems to be doing so right now.  I keep forgetting that our growing season is way, way longer than yours.  In a couple of weeks when the temps have died down a little I’ll plant some lettuce in a pot on the porch and with any luck that will supply me with lettuce into December.

Ellen is finally teaching her second grade classes.  Not much news has filtered in to me about how things are going but the assumption is that she’ll be doing a great job.  I hope to hear from her this weekend about how the first week actually went down.  She keeps sending me photos of her dog/beast Henry, and that’s a lot of fun to see.

Reid has moved into his new studio apartment in Chicago.  On the map it appears he is northwest of downtown.  It costs him a few more bucks every month but right about now the privacy won’t be such a bad thing for him.  He was tossing around the idea of taking a new job in his same company but there hasn’t been a real update from him for a few days now.  I’ll pester him when the weekend comes around.  He’s got a girlfriend but we know very little about her other than that her name is Jackie.

I’m supposed to teach a class on letter writing at the local community college but from all appearances, not many students share my enthusiasm about letters.  Only two have signed up and I’m afraid that the writing is on the wall – the class will be cancelled due to lack of participation.  We were supposed to have about 15 in the class, and unless some miracle happens in the next couple of days, another weeknight will become suddenly freed up.  Hey, keep your chin up and your attitude good.  I’ll do the same.

1 Comment

Filed under Adult Children, Contact, Correspondence, Family, Parenting, Writing to adult children

A friend in the nick of time…


Ellen in particular sends lots of photos via her phone. Loveable Henry appears to have become a Minnesota Twins fan, as is Ellen's hubby Tim.

Ever have one of those times in life when you badly, sorely, really needed a friend?  I’ve had my share of welcome friends recently; Betsy, Ferg, Bob, Felicia, Ann, Linda, John, Pam, Pete.  You know the type; supportive, empathetic, helpful.

Then along comes Jane.  Jane lives in Des Moines and I referenced she and her husband Dave a couple of posts ago.  We go way back.  28 years will have to suffice for way back.  Without getting into excruciating detail, Jane was a friend in the nick of time.

In a few weeks, I will be afforded the opportunity to rekindle the relationship in person.  It’s been five long years since we’ve last seen each other, and it’s high time for a reunion.  I couldn’t let this entire situation pass without some sort of correspondence.  On top of that, they know Ellen and Reid very well;  a here’s-what-the-kids-are-doing-now update is way, way, way overdue.  It doesn’t take much to get my motor running when it comes to letters.  Just point me in the right direction and I’ll take things from there.

Here is that letter.

August 30, 2010

Jane/Dave: This has been one hell of a forgettable summer and I’ve looked for some ray of light.  You two are apparently it, and just in time.

I have been woefully out of contact with virtually everyone from Des Moines except for F_________ and a little bit with Greg K_______.  The guilty party pops up in my mirror every morning.  From the sound of things, things haven’t changed up there markedly.  For some reason I was under the assumption that you guys had jettisoned DSM entirely for sunny FLA-USA.  But the weather pages of the paper did not paint a pretty winter picture of Des Moines this past season so no one would have held it against you had you pulled up stakes entirely.

As for North Carolina, my stake seems to be a little further in the ground as time goes by.  It’s a nice enough place.  Charlotte is a good town and it was at its zenith when I moved down here in ’06.  Wine and decadence for everyone.  Those were pretty heady times for the ‘burg, and it’s been in something of a free-fall since then.  The actual timing of the free fall can be directly pegged to my purchase of a townhome at the very tippy-top of the market.  Someone has to buy at full price.  Things have fallen downhill like a rock since then.  If you looked at a map, which you have utterly no reason to do, I would be in what locals like to call ‘South Park’.  My commute to the downtown (which is called Uptown for some flimsy reason) is about 20 minutes.  Not bad by these standards.  I like it here and like where I live.

But here is the real news.  Ellen (now 27) is by all appearances very happily married up in St. Paul.  She just landed her first teaching gig (2nd grade) after a long, long time searching and applying.  She just persevered.  She and her hubby, Tim (who works at _______) live in a little bungalow not far from the main East-West drag in St. Paul.  They love it although I persistently rub it in deeply in, say, in January, when it’s -31 there and 64F here.  I have to get in my digs sometime.  She was working at a property management firm which paid well but it wasn’t her dream.  Now she gets to live it.  _____________, St. Paul, MN  55105-2409.

On the other hand, Reid (25) is fully acclimated to Chicago where none of us see him leaving anytime soon.  He’s some sort of web/pixel/digital ad campaign geek at a big ad agency there.  I don’t fully understand what he does and he’s grown tired of telling me.  He’s dating a young woman from Des Moines, Jackie, and perhaps that hastened him moving just this week to a studio apartment.  He likes Chicago a lot although we have to wean him from being a Cubs fan.

Kathy has pretty much become a Californian with her new guy.  I plead ignorance on any of the details because I don’t butt in or ask, but from what I glean from the kids and others, it’s a good situation for her, too.  Her house in Clive will go on the market soon and should stand a fair chance of selling.

My father passed away at the end of June, and a few weeks later my job at the bank passed along, too.  This will be one summer that can’t move out of the way fast enough.  That’s why your pending trip is so exciting.  I may be bothered by dropping off people’s radar screens back there, but there’s nothing like rekindling old relationships, as long as we can keep the news out of the newspapers.  I owe you in more ways than one.  See you soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Contact, Correspondence, Friends, Writing to friends