Category Archives: Correspondence

Running out of gas leads to more of same …


Most Mondays (or in this case, Tuesday) the letters come together in a jiffy; 15 minutes tops from start to finish. In a sign of a surely fading memory, I keep a little notepad by the downstairs sofa and when I’m loafing (which is often) it makes it easier to scratch down a little ‘reminder’ about this topic or that.

Of course, when you write about the mundane goings on of daily life, it doesn’t make for the most scintillating reading. But a lot of weeks, that’s all a writer has to work with.


January 26, 2016

Ellen/Reid: I just ran out of gas yesterday when it came around to writing the perfunctory Monday letter. Despite the best of intentions, it just didn’t get done. But this morning, as I bid ‘Good morning, ladies’ to dear Emma and sweet little Georgia on my new go-to coffee cup, it suddenly became time to put pen to paper, or at least electronic, digital paper.

Your mom texted me Monday afternoon about those two little hooligans and we had a good chuckle between grandparents over how Emma is just growing, growing, growing. I loved seeing her splash and swim in the pool; those lessons are worth their weight in gold. She was just beaming when she came up for air, and no doubt Georgia takes in all that her sister is doing.

IMG_0605

Sweet little Georgia is ready to take after her big sister in the pool.

Her tiny feet won’t be that far removed from joining her big sister in the water.

Reid, there is no way in hell I could make heads nor tails out of whatever that spreadsheet was you sent from your grad school studies. I have absolutely no clue as to what you were showing me, what it was used for and how it matters to what you’re studying. More evidence that your dad is, truly, dense as a loose stone. But it must mean you’re liking what your doing and the studies are going according to plan. Your mom and I also giggled about that. Remind me again, in layman’s terms, what I puzzled at and how it has any relevance to mankind.

I’ve become something of a binge listener to iTunes. This morning it’s listening, and replaying time and again, More Than This by Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music. It’s about 35 years old but a great, lilting tune that takes me way, way back. Yet before that, yesterday, it was 21 Pilots and Stressed Out. I’ve amassed a great playlist of the so-called adult alternative music. Reid, I sprinkle in a little Beck with the Kongos and Cage the Elephant, et al, and I’m good to go.

Those tunes will help keep me alert and bopping along on I-77/I-26 early this Thursday morning when Miss Emma and I head back exactly 211 miles to Bowens Island. The temps will be chilly but I badly want Continue reading

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Set the bar low…


People ask what Ellen looks like, so here she is with hubby Tim up to their knees in Wisconsin trout waters.

No doubt some of you – maybe all of you – have rolled your eyes at some of the sub-trivial fluff I foist on the kids and other unwitting recipients.

I don’t hold myself in very high regard as a writer.  What comes out, comes out.

My dire self assessment aside, the goal has never been to set the bar high as high art.  Instead, my goal is really to stay out of my own way and just get the letters out the door on the appointed day.  To achieve “high art’ is not in my meager skill sets.   It would seem to imply that art supersedes the doing and that the writer’s sense of self-importance surpasses the expectation(s) of the recipient(s).  In neither case is that true.   High art also takes time, suitable inspiration and untold revisions, all of which further implies a pursuit of creative perfection which, if you’ve read my onslaught of letters, is in no danger of being eclipsed.

I’ve set the bar low and am pretty much content with such lowness.  Some days might be higher than others, but not by much.

—————–

The Charlotte Observer ran my first column this weekend.  As my age will attest, my beat will be narrowly focused.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/10/23/1778133/having-the-talk-with-aging-parents.html

———–

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

October 18, 2010

Ellen/Reid: Ellen, what is this with your car windows being smashed?  I thought your little neighborhood was relatively immune to such nonsense.  What a way to start your Sunday morning.  Was the car in the garage or on the street (Tim’s new rig is likely in the garage, isn’t it?)?  Just make sure you keep stuff out of sight since that’s how most of these car-invading hooligans decide to break in to your car instead of others.

My weekend was far less adventuresome than yours.  Felicia and I rode to Maggie Valley, NC in search of the ‘Wheels Through Time’ museum of ancient Harleys.  It was wonderful, and I’d go again in a heartbeat, but the real star of the trip was the trek through the mountains.  The leaves and the scenery were incredible and the traffic was nil.  That’s quite a change from my last leaf-looking trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway a couple of years ago.  This went through canopied twisty roads alongside streams, and you can tell Tim we saw lots of fly fisherpeople all along the route, and secretly, I wish I’d been among them.  The route took us northwest out of picturesque Hendersonville, NC west on state road 64 and then a right turn onto state road 276.  One of the best roads ever for riding.  The museum was just a scream.  I’d guess the guy had 100+ old Harleys and Indians and other makes strewn all over the place.  But half the fun is looking at the old memorabilia such as newspaper clippings, posters, letters, and other assorted stuff.  It was just a lot of fun.  It was a cold ride in the morning but got nicer as the day went along.  Had BBQ in Maggie Valley at some place called Butts on the Creek.  It was pretty good, not the best, but just pretty good.

Reid, Nebraska choked in the Texas game.  The Big Red came in all hyped up but came out like Little Pink (a name from Bob F____________).  On the ride I was kicking myself for not recording the game but in hindsight it was a good thing.  Your uncle must’ve been a basket case at the game.  He would’ve been beside himself, and I pity the poor person sitting next to him, in front of him and behind him.  Your grandfather probably rotated in his grave.

My lengthy interview last week has gone for naught.  I made the second cut but not the third.  In most interviews you typically rue making comments you wish you wouldn’t have made and that was true in this case.  I had nosed around with people about their impressions of _______, and was trying to relate that their views didn’t necessarily mesh with what I’d learned about the firm.  I just didn’t communicate that very well to the person who mattered most.  I inadvertently irked the hiring manager and it was instantly apparent that I was out the door – and I still have five other people to talk to.  But that’s just the way it goes, although it was a firm I would’ve liked to get to know a little better.

But things are going along as well as could be expected here at the bank.  I like the new situation, and while it’s just a temporary layover to whatever is next, it’s a daunting task.  The technical aspect of legal letter writing is overwhelming.  You really have to be on point and organized to orchestrate a letter which alternately recognizes the customer’s problem but doesn’t do anything to further irritate them.  They’re likely irritated enough already.  But it’s a challenge and that’s okay.

No real word from the place where your grandmother is staying.  I’ve been a complete absentee in that I’ve not called her as much as she deserves.  My pre-New Year’s resolution is to begin, this week, to call her 2-3 times each week.  She may not remember the calls but I’ve just been a schmuck on that score.  You guys should write her a note now and then because the staff will read them to her.   Gotta run, but keep your phones on for further text messages.

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A public display of private affection…


Today's letter to mom before it was tucked into the envelope. Some aren't sure if letters to her are worthwhile. Not me. If a letter gives her a few minutes of enjoyment, what's wrong with that?

A blog is an odd beast.  It is an open book to whatever the topic is.  Although mine has yet to catch on with the masses, in theory this post could make its way around the globe in the time it would take you to read this whole shebang.  Maybe faster.

What is doubly weird is that this blog is all about what would be, under most normal circumstances, a highly private matter – the personal correspondence between a father and his children.  But here they are, reams of letters, for all to see.

As it has occured to others, how do I reconcile a public display of private affection that others can see, too?  That is a fairly pointed, but fair, question.

I guess the short answer – you will be spared the long version – is that this whole exercise is an object lesson on how one dad goes about the business of family business.  By necessity, you ought to see what the hell I’m talking about in the most graphic of terms – the literal pages themselves.  I’m not above slicing out paragraphs that are solely intended for Ellen and Reid only.  I’ve done so with regularity.  You see most of the dirty laundry but not the whole washer load.  That might change, but not right now.

—————–

Bridger update: The list of tentatives continues to grow.  If everyone went who has voiced an interest, we’d be at 10 right now.  I’m going to do two things: there is a rustic ranch B&B on the outskirts of Pinedale that will provide affordable rooms the night(s) before the trip.  They might also help arrange pack animals (horses or llamas) but I do not know the pricing.

——————–

My brother thinks my letters to my mother are a waste of time.  The staff at her facility don’t think she grasps everything.  But she doesn’t have to grasp it all.  She just has to grasp a few things.  So, I will continue sending a Friday letter to my mother.  Here is today’s letter to her.

October 22, 2010

Mom: We are smack in the middle of Indian summer here.  The weather has been glorious.  Not too hot, not too humid, just right.  I see that the weather in Grand Island is pretty good, too.

Man, Nebraska really got taken to the cleaners by Texas.  I thought for sure that was a game the Big Red would win in a cakewalk.  But nothing should surprise us any more about that team.

Ralph says you’re doing pretty well these days.  That is good to hear.  And it was good to talk to you the other day.  I need to do a better job of calling you.  I promise to do better.

Been riding the Harley a lot.  It’s much more fun to ride when the weather is cool but not rainy.  Rode through the mountains last weekend and it was very pretty.  The leaves are changing and the mountain streams looked clear and cold.  There was not as much traffic on the roads as I thought there might be.  That made for pretty good riding.

I have to admit to having ice cream these last few days.  I went to the grocery store the other night and made a trip down the ice cream aisle.  They had some on sale and I wilted.  It makes me feel guilty to eat it but it sure tastes good.  It’s all gone now.  Urp.

Now that it’s cooling down around here it’s time to begin to bake bread again.  My house just gets too hot when the oven is on during the warmer days.  But with the temperatures cooling it makes the kitchen that much more comfortable for baking.  I should send you a loaf or two.

Looks like I will be in Minneapolis for Thanksgiving to see both Ellen and Reid.  My plane ticket was bought this week and I’m really excited about going.  Ellen has already told me that I’ll be the chief cook for the weekend and Reid wants to help with the cooking, too.  He’s pretty good around the pots and pans.  Ellen isn’t much of a beef lover so it will be turkey the entire time, although her main request is for me to make breakfasts.  It’ll be pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon.  Her husband Tim can eat like a horse, as can Reid, so there will be no shortage of food.  I’m glad you will be in Ralph and Gayle’s house for the holiday.  Maybe there is a chance Joe will get out there, too.

Things are going fine at work.  Busy and hectic, but there’s nothing new about that.  I like what I’m doing these days but there’s a lot of it to do.  You be good, stay warm, and watch for another phone call real soon.

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Being different…


Bryan's "designer" cast. He has limited sympathy for Bob's texting injury.

A friend of mine posted a message a few days ago on my seldom-visited Facebook page about a recent blog post, and I just got around to taking a look at her message today. It was a nice note, and I really appreciate Jane’s concern and support.

My tardiness could mean one of several things; A) I err by expecting others to instantly read my posts yet can’t take the time to read the messages of others, B) I don’t spend much time roaming the Facebook landscape and C) Facebook doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me.  I hope ‘A’ isn’t entirely true, but I think ‘B’ and ‘C’ hold smidgens of truth.

Make no mistake, I am a gnat bite on the globe-sized entity that is Facebook.  Part of my reluctance relates to time; recently, a local mother made news when she banned her teen daughter from Facebook for a week.  The young girl claimed withdrawal symptoms from her four to six hour a day Facebook habit.

Bob sports his real cast. Empathy, let alone sympathy, have been hard to come by.

It’s hard to spend one hour, let alone the young woman’s four to six hours, on anything every single day.  Sure, I like to know what people are up to but there is an intimacy that is missing online.  At least my obsessing with letters can be measured in minutes, not hours.  Perhaps it’s my way of being different.

—————–

Bridger update: Two more inquiries have come in.  The able-bodied Reid looks to be on board, too.  FYI…airfares from Charlotte to Denver appear to be in the $430 range, and $528 round trip to Jackson Hole.  Denver is a sturdy but esthetically pleasing 5-6 hour drive to Pinedale, WY while Jackson Hole is roughly two hours.

————–

October 11, 2010

Ellen/Reid: Well, it seems I’m in danger of becoming one of “them.”  By them, I mean a Southerner.  Because in the last few weeks, I’ve cooked okra twice (it’s pretty good) and also fixed up a mess of fried green tomatoes (also better than you might think), finally got a North Carolina license plate for the Harley, watched some NASCAR (just a few minutes), and while tooling around on the bike stopped by fields for a first hand look at peanuts and cotton.  On one stretch of road saw some tobacco over yonder but we didn’t stop.  I don’t think anyone down in these parts will ever confuse me for a local but the assimilation is happening as we speak.

I’m starting to learn where towns are like Florence, Laurinburg, Chester and Reidsville.  What I do know after this weekend’s bike ride is that there are no, or hardly any, straight roads in the entire region.  It is as if state road planners dyed a pot of spaghetti and poured it out on a large piece of paper.  Where ever the spaghetti hit the paper was the road scheme.  We rode to Danville, VA on Saturday, and according to Mapquest, the trip was roughly 150 miles.  That’s a shade over two hours at Interstate speed.  But the trip took nearly five hours because, without exaggeration, we took no fewer than 15 different roads to get there.  There weren’t enough bread crumbs to help us follow the path.  I couldn’t replicate it now by memory if I had to.  It was just bizarre.  Felicia and I laid the road maps for North Carolina and Iowa side by side.  It was hilarious.  Iowa was almost totally a grid of north-south, east-west straight lines, while North Carolina was a literal jumble of roads.

I’m going to make my plans for Thanksgiving this week.  Ellen, I will likely get up there on Tuesday because I’m late enough in making plans that all the Wednesday seats are filled.  Part of me would like to drive to get the stink blown off but let me see what the airfares are.  I’m excited to see your refurbished digs and the new furnishings.  Reid and I can handle all the cooking and whatnot.  That will be our role as guests.  Glad to hear you have a touch because mine is where a fair amount of my sleeping is done.

Your uncle did all the work to rid much of your grandparent’s house of stuff this past weekend.  He wasn’t too pleased that I wasn’t there to help him out but as a practical reality it just wasn’t a reality for me to be there.  All of your stuff is in the basement of a friend of mine, Pete Z__________, who was nice enough to hold it until you, or your mom, can get to Omaha to retrieve it.  I e-mailed your mother to see if she could help but she won’t be back in the Midwest until past the middle of December, so we’ll lean on Pete to hold your stuff a little bit longer than we might otherwise want.  Ellen, this includes the china, and Reid, this includes whatever it was you picked after the funeral plus some kitchen stuff Ralph and Gayle thought you might need to stock your new little kitchen.

My cousin Tom was the first to step up and say “yes” to a trip to the Bridger Wilderness at the end of July in 2011.  He’s always been an outdoor guy and the drive isn’t too onerous from his home in Eugene, OR.  It’s closer than Charlotte, that’s for sure.  I’ve got room for 8 to 12 folks so if either of you want to go backpacking…Ellen, you could even bring Henry along for the hike.  He’d love it.

Well, I’m gonna sign off for now as there’s a conference call on tap in about an hour that I have to prep for.  As soon as the T-Day plans are known, you two will be the first to know other than me.

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A beat down on my book…


My friend Bob has reaped what he's sewn. A post-op picture of his swanky new cast, a result of rampant over-texting.

A couple of years ago I spent days, weeks and months on a book manuscript about my years of writing to Ellen and Reid.  It was chock full of helpful advice and tasty tidbits and what I presumed were fatherly witticisms.  A sure-fire best seller, I thought.  Who wouldn’t buy such a gem?

Well, I can name at least three non-purchasers: my former A.P. national editor Norm and my good friends Julie and Jenn.

That’s because when their edited copies came back, I knew the book was DOA.  They put a beat down on the manuscript.  To say they “hammered” the draft puts it mildly.  A lead balloon cannot sink any faster than my deflated hopes for publishing success.  Proving again the old journalistic adage that the greatest joy is editing someone else’s copy, their editing pens probably ran out of ink.

As I look back, of course they were correct.  The book was bad.  The three slice & dicers played their roles perfectly.  Editors are of no use if they pull punches.  The best editors are the harshest.  And this trio was the best of editors.  So much for my grand illusions as a book writer.  Poof.

Yet I remain undeterred.  After an appropriate period of gestation (and for mourning), I have mentally regrouped.  The book will make a U-turn in approach and tone.  The redraft is underway, and per the scribbled notations of Norm, Julie and Jenn,  it will be devoid of the preachy lectures and inanity that drove them batty.  Hell, it drove me batty, too.

—————

Bridger Wilderness update: Our small band of hikers is growing.  Although an asterisk will go by their names, Jill and Troy Aleong* from Charlotte are tentatively on board.  Tom Andersen of Eugene, Oregon is our fourth walker.  The trip is set for the final full week in July, 2011.

—————-

Here is the typical Friday letter to my mom.  I hope the staff at her care facility keep reading the notes to her.  They say so, but there’s no real way of knowing.

October 15, 2010

Mom: I literally gave up on dinner last night.  I punted.  It boiled down to pancakes nuked in the microwave and peanut butter.  The peanut butter was on crackers, not the pancakes.  But it was the best I could do with the energy I could muster.  There was a grand plan earlier in the day to grill a burger but the meat stayed frozen and I went for the easiest thing available.  You eat better than I do.

Spend most of last night on my church newsletter.  Been doing it now for a couple of years.  It’s the one smidgen of creative work I do every month and it keeps me occupied and out of trouble although my pastor would beg to differ.  He gives me free reign and that’s fine by me.  It probably takes somewhere in the 20 to 30 hour range every month.  Hope the guy upstairs takes notice.

It has really cooled down.  We’re not in the 30s yet like you guys have been but it is a noticeable drop in temperatures.  Why, I even had to wear a jacket to work the other morning.  This weekend I’ll fire up the bike and head West and I will be sure to wear my leathers to ward off the cold.  It really is a beautiful time of year down this way.  I will avoid the “mountains” because all the leaf watchers will be out by the tens of thousands, clogging up the roadways as they gaze at the trees.  If the bike had a horn, I’d honk those slow pokes out of my way.

Good news for Reid.  He got a raise at his job, and they shuffled him around to give him some new big advertising accounts.  He’s pretty excited about it, and there’s some hope that he might get a real promotion in the not too distant future.  That kid is going to end up being a Chicagoan although he makes noise about moving to New York City every now and then.  As I tell him, kid, you don’t make enough money to visit New York, let alone live there.  But it would be a good time of life for him to be a little adventurous.  Heck, it would give me a reason to venture to New York to see him.

Ellen continues to battle through the educational turmoil.  Her first round of parent-teacher conferences were this week and I’ll be anxious to know how those went.  She must be a really good teacher because she spends a lot of time at the school working on lesson plans and things like that.  She just loves it.  I wish I’d paid a little closer attention to the teachers I had.  They must not have inspired me.

Nebraska is doing pretty well in football.  I know this because all the football experts on TV are saying what a good team they have.  The teams down this way are mostly lousy, especially the pro team (the Carolina Panthers) which has yet to win a game.  They are really, really bad.  El-stinko.  At least I don’t have tickets.  Heck, I don’t even watch it on TV.  Well, I’m gonna wrap things up.  Stay by the phone because I will call you real soon.  Keep eating that ice cream for me.

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Trouble in the social space…


Henry slowed down enough for Ellen to snap this picture...moments before he probably made the neighboring pile of leaves his own.

The news in New Jersey of the suicide of a Rutgers’ student has cast social media in a untirely unwanted light.  It’s hard to keep up with all that’s been said about the situation.  Suffice to say none of it has been good.  There is trouble in the social space.

But it doesn’t take a trained eye to say that elements of social media are out of kilter.  To its legion of addicts ever in search of the next titillating post or video, it has become all about staggering speed, it has become about the impersonality of nothing private and it has become about volume of viewers.   And yes, it can become about cruelty.

The discussion has little to do with the how or the what of what I write about.  Later this morning I will write to Ellen and Reid, and at least for a few days, they will have the letters to themselves.

But the discussion has much to do with how we go about, or perhaps condone, accountable communication.  A mob mentality is at work that exposes something none of use should be entirely comfortable with.  It may as well scream ‘Look at me’.  Behind that scream, with the potential to grow exponentially, are the voices of dozens, then thousands and then millions of bystanders who want nothing more than to be entertained.

Unfortunately in New Jersey, no one was listening to the victim.  The pack has pulled up stakes and moved on to the next social media phenomenon.

—————-

Here is last Monday’s letter to the kids.

September 27, 2010

Ellen/Reid: It’s been raining off and on since yesterday but that is a good thing after months of roasting in the hot sun.  You guys have had rain in spades, we’ve had it by thimblefuls.  It’s a little late for some of the dry spots down here but we’ll take what we can get.  This morning was one of the first truly cool-ish mornings we’ve had in some time.  The leaves have to be turning where you live.

This weekend’s party sounded like a hoot.  Nonnie would have been in all her glory what with her old pals.  To have been a fly on the wall watching the old girls drink free wine and jabber.  No doubt you guys were on your best behavior.  Ellen, it was a riot to hear about Tim stuck in the receiving line with the ladies.  Talk about a fish out of water.  Your mom called last night to apprize me of the goings-on.

I turn in my first column to the Charlotte Observer this week.  Hopefully they will like it.  My beat is the senior housing market.  Man, what a testament to my age.  But it is a humongous portion of the paper’s readership.  It was interesting to hear from my editor that they’ve had a spate of ethical breeches by freelancers in recent months so – knock on wood – I should be a breath of fresh air for them.  If and when it’s accepted, let alone run, I’ll send you a tear-sheet.

Reid, I’ve fine-tuned my web site even more and will get you the latest update in a day or so after it has gestated even a little bit more.  Your push for a new mega-powered desk top sounds like the right move although building it yourself sounds like something of a task.  Hope you’re up to it because it would be all Greek to me.

I was out for the morning installment of my daily walk yesterday when I breezed by a homeless man sleeping in an alcove along my route.  Cars were roaring by not 10 yards away.  I took a snapshot on my phone and posted the picture.  His plight put mine in perspective.  There is always someone worse off than you.  Either their living situation, their health, their income, you name it.  There but for the grace of God go I.

In a way, I’m kind of enthused about REI.  Even if it is temporary, it is an outdoor space I know and identify with.  Of course, if something else comes up I’d add that to my work itinerary, but at least they are giving me a shot.  I’ve got to juggle the trip to Nebraska around the ‘group interview’ process but at least I’ve cleared the first hurdle.

On a sad note, my parsley plant on the front porch looked denuded, and sure enough, it was being devoured by black and yellow striped caterpillars.  One by one, I squashed them flat.  Only then did I think to do a Google search for North Carolina caterpillars, and, to my anguish, found out they were Swallowtail butterflies in training.  And here I’d annihilated the entire squadron.  What an ogre.  I feel terrible.  Next year I’ll replant the parsley, and they can have their way with it.

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The meaning of good friends…


My friend Dave from Des Moines. His wife, Jane, made the whole Coeur d'Alene trip possible. (See all the trip photos at http://gallery.me.com/bob.furstenau#100164)

If you ever want to see how the greats wrote letters, Google the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allan Poe, to name a few.  Of course, they were forced to write in the absence of other means.  But could they build a phrase.

Many of their missives were to business associates and other influencers (oops, bank terminology.   Slap my hands.).  But they wrote page after page to friends, too.

On the plane ride home from Coeur d’Alene, I wondered what could possibly be said to Jane and Dave to even remotely begin to thank them for their generosity.  Now and again it’s good to regain perspective on the meaning of good friends in our lives.  So it was with Jane and Dave.  Even so, whatever I managed to scrape together would be relatively paltry.

In particular, Jane needed to know the lay of the land.  Here’s what she got from me sometime late last week.  Far from what Jefferson, Dickinson or Poe might have penned, but even us lesser-lights have our moments.

————-

Bob posted all the Coeur d’Alene photos at http://gallery.me.com/bob.furstenau#100164

————-

September 22, 2010

Jane: By the time you get this we will be more than a week removed from what was an unbelievable trip.  Dave sent a post-trip e-mail that tended to put things in the proper perspective in terms of friends mattering most.  There was an article in this morning’s Observer to the effect that the older we get, the more worldly perspective we seem to gain.

There is no way I can properly thank you for including me and for your overwhelming generosity.  Before the trip it was hard for me to set aside, let alone contemplate stepping away from, all the things going on here in Charlotte.  That is, until we hit the ground.  All that melted away, and that’s a credit to the other three for bearing with me.  They’ve all been very successful in their own rights, and that was very heartening.  Dave seemed very relaxed to me, which was entirely the point, I suppose.  Hell, we were all relaxed.  Your hubbie’s mild snoring aside, he was a good roommate.

Literally, you left no stone unturned on this little adventure.  The travel arrangements, the food, the lodging, the golf, the spa treatment, the timetable.  By the time we got to whatever the next installment of our journey was, you’d already talked to the staff.  The skids were literally greased wherever we showed up.  In your next life you will come back as some high-ranking travel advisor to presidents and kings.  Even Furstenau, who is used to this sort of thing, was effusive.

This was literally the first time I’d been around cronies from Des Moines in quite some time.  It’s mildly upsetting to have you guys there and me here.  Your Dave was correct.  To paraphrase him, when you cut all of it away, what you are left with is your friends.  You both should know that I have an open door policy down here: the door is open and you walk in for however long it is you want to be here.  It would be great to have you visit Charlotte so you can see how those of us live on the other side of the tracks.  A stone’s throw away are the mountains and the beach.  (Somehow we got on the topic of Davidson and your Will’s college plans, and it is one hell of a little school just up the road from Charlotte.  Consider this your college search headquarters at least for the South.)

In a couple of weeks time I’ll blow through Des Moines (arrive Oct. 11, I think) and hope to at least see you guys for a few moments as I continue east and south.  I’ve got a book project in mind that I’d like to run by you (since you are already a published author and I’m still a wannabe.)  I’ve got both of your phones plugged away in my phone, so watch for a call.

But thanks again for including me in a trip that was beyond special.  I owe you in some significant way.  I may not have been the most deserving but I had the most fun.  Now if we could just get F____________ to toss his iPhone out the window…

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