Category Archives: Writing to adult children

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, even if it’s handwritten …

My HP printer is lodged somewhere in a box somewhere in the middle of a moving POD which sits somewhere in Charlotte before it is hoisted atop a flatbed truck for transport to my new home in Brevard, North Carolina.

Without the facility to print the weekly missives, my letters to Ellen and Reid somewhat ground to a halt the past couple of weeks. But last Monday while sitting in the toasty warm kitchen of my friend Robbie, I jotted off two quick handwritten notes (the first I’ve ever written in cursive in 16 years) and hastily plunked those in the mail. (My last attempt to type a letter was Jan. 1 – don’t ask why I pecked at the keyboard since there was no way to put them on paper.)

Even though I was bound for frigid St. Paul, Minnesota two days later the short letters went out anyway. The letter to Ellen arrived while I was at her home; why the letter bore a ‘Greenville, SC’ postage mark rather than Brevard was a bit of a mystery. And by the weekend Ellen hadn’t opened it and there’s no knowing if it remains sealed. That’s just the way it goes in busy households with you children; letters are opened there is time in the day.








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Hasta la vista, 4838 … and a final glass of red wine

This was the last letter penned to Ellen and Reid from my home in Charlotte. This post is fashioned as I sit on the bare wood floor on the now-empty main level. The furnishings are all gone. The POD was hoisted by some fancy contraption onto a sturdy flatbed truck a couple of hours ago, my belongings headed for a storage place in the industrial part of town.

So now I’ll be a vagabond for a couple of weeks until the close on the house in Brevard is complete. Parting may be sweet sorrow since I’ve loved this townhouse dearly but there is a new reality for me roughly 137 miles to the West.

December 17, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Reid, I hope this lands in your mailbox before Liz and you jet to Sri Lanka. It sounds like such an adventure. Your dad would be the last person to consult on travels to Asia, let alone Sri Lankan weddings; can’t wait to see all the photos and hear about it. Keep me posted if you need anything while you’re traipsing about, although I’m not sure what can be done from afar.

Honestly, Ellen, the FaceTimes with you and the girls are liking viewing the Blair Witch Project. That camera isn’t still for one second. And someone is always saying or yelling something. It’s just utter chaos. When we hang up I’m just grinning and shaking my head. Half the fun of the calls is watching those two little goons run and jump about. They are just too cute for their own good. They were on Santa watch pure and simple last night. And yes, I’ll ship the three canisters in relatively short order.

The packing is going much, much slower than ever envisioned. My God, the kitchen has taken three full days and there’s still more pans to stow. Literally this morning I sat down in a disgruntled heap and said, almost aloud, that I didn’t know what to pack next. All I could see from wall to wall was a mound of stuff. There was so much of it of a disparate nature. It’s Monday night as I write this and I’m sipping a glass of wine while trying to think of what room comes next.


My stuff is stowed and the POD is ready to ship out to parts unknown. Last stop: Brevard.

But the kitchen has to be shut down first once and for all. I’ve gone back and forth about a POD vs. a moving company and the deal is this: the POD makes the most sense since the close on both houses is still in a state of flux; Dec. 28 for mine, the first week in January for the new house in Brevard. The POD can sit; movers expect to act on a certain day. Some muscle will have to be recruited once the container reaches the mountains. The thought is to post a note somewhere at nearby Brevard College for a couple of college hunks to pull lifting duty for a few hours. I dunno, maybe $75 each. It all just makes my head spin. It’s time for another drink of wine.

There’s been a bit of turmoil about the closing of my place. The buyers sort of held me hostage for new HVAC and water heater systems. Yeah, both were aging but still worked. They wanted to eat up all of the $6,000 over list price they paid in terms of a credit toward the new systems. My Realtor and I had a heart-to-heart and it was agreed that if we allowed the sale to fold, those systems would still be issues for the next buyer who wouldn’t likely go $6,000 over list price. That put me in something of a bind so I did the next best thing. I caved. At what point does it become only money? That point was likely at hand. In a way, it’s an acceptable thing because a bridge loan would’ve been more costly than the HVAC/water heater systems themselves. What the hell. It’s time to move onward and upward. I need another sip of cabernet to go with a couple of those avocado/arugula and fried egg sandwiches.

I’ve been sleeping quite soundly, an apparent sign that things are getting to me. It is all so tiring do all this by oneself. Hopefully I can recruit some friends to help me heft the big stuff like the sofas and chairs and the breakfast table. The boxes and stuff can be handled by my lonesome. Honest to God, I simply can’t wait to put down roots in Brevard and to get the house situated and decorated (me, a decorator?) and just get moving on with a local life.

My friends Christie and Doug from Myrtle Beach stayed the weekend since they were in town for the Carolina Panthers game. It was a good interlude to have them. Sondra and Jody and our friend Dave came over Saturday night for pizza and just to get together. That was fun too, although I was just flat-out exhausted. Well, it’s time to sign off. Just in time, too, since the bottle of red is empty.

Love, Dad

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If it’s not one thing, it’s another …

No one ever said ‘this (move) will be easy’ and, true to the adage, nothing about it has been. Trap doors everywhere. A missed deadline here, another buyer demand there. But in the grand scheme of things, things ought to work out. At least that’s the assurance from my Realtor. Ellen and Reid have been kept up to speed on the varying travails of the process.

Meanwhile, Brevard continues to call. Let’s hope I can answer.

December 10, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Friday’s deal-or-no-deal witching hour approaches; we’ll know for sure if the sale is indeed done. The inspection was last Wednesday but still no word as to the results. At first blush that appears a good thing but you never, ever know for sure. It will be a crusher if it doesn’t go through. I was in Brevard yesterday, as much to just be around the town as anything, and to give the home yet another in a string of walk-throughs. It’s a swell place, the town and the home. There was nearly a foot of snow on the ground as I stood on the back deck and looked south to the mountains, wondering what the yard will look like if and when I’m there and spring comes. A garden sure seems to be a reality – again if the sale is indeed done.

There is something quaint and bucolic about Brevard. If I opt to walk the roughly one-half mile bee line to the corners of Main and Broad streets in the funky little downtown, the shortest path cuts right through the Brevard College campus. Then it’s up a small hill to the hot spots – a couple of breweries, some great little restaurants and nice shops – and it’s all so self-contained within a few square block radius. The plan is to buy a bike (the pedal type; no more Harleys for your old man) to tool all over town.


With any luck, I’ll be able to use the little back deck off my bedroom, with its expansive views of the mountains, sometime in mid-January. 

The mantra up there in Transylvania County is to ‘buy local’ and that’s what I’ll do. But just how one gets to Hendersonville and Asheville is still a bit up in the air for me. The local newspaper immediately struck me as the NC version of the Sundance (WY) Times and Crook County News your grandfather used to edit; front page coverage of the Christmas parade, social comings and goings, plugs for local businesses, et al. Just plain mountain news that if it’s not covered by the local rag, then no one will cover it. It’s all so darling.

The round up of spare boxes is ongoing; the packing will start in ernest on Friday, again, if the sale is indeed done. It appears there is no place to go, other than on Craig’s List, with the leather sofa and side chair, a winged leather chair and the solid-cherry tables, the three tall bar stools, the heavy maple desk in my office and assorted other stuff. None of that will make the trip west to Brevard. The faux-decorator in me will put the current main floor furniture ensemble in front of the fireplace, with your great-grandmother’s old bed, Reid, in one of the guest rooms along with a cherrywood dresser. Not quite sure about the third room; maybe a pull-out couch. The 12 golf course photos from my past life now on the north wall will be divvied up and given away. If for no other reason than nostalgia I’ll keep a few larger giclee pieces for the new home but am not sure where those will be placed. A friend nudged me about reproducing a few Camino photos for their value as conversation starters. She has a good point. That will be done.

Jeez, there was still straight hell to pay to download nearly 300 Camino photos from my aging iPhone 5 to my MacBook Air. Just couldn’t get a straight answer from Apple as to how to do that; they weren’t automatically downloaded to the Cloud so I set a Genius Bar appointment last night where some geek spoke Greek to me as he solved the problem. Still, the shots have to be downloaded one-by-one from the Cloud to my computer. At least that solves the crisis. Up on my office desk still sits, in the box, the iPhone 8 Tim helped me order over Thanksgiving. I’ll open it today and get moving on coming into the New Age of technology. It puts the fear of God into me a little bit. That won’t come as much surprise to you.

Okay, enough already. The Y workout is over with and the coffee has come and gone. Speaking of that, your bags of buy two, get three free Harris Teeter beans will be there before you get this note. And Ellen, I need to talk with you stat about the letters you have, or might have, squirreled away.

Love, Dad

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Mr. Chicken Little bites his nails as he picks flooring …

As the three of us spend less and less time on the phone with each other, our typical very short calls are largely for items that are mostly quick updates (“I arrive at the Minneapolis airport at 4:30. Goodbye.”). We’re just not chatters and FaceTimers so the letters step in to partially fill informational voids.

December 5, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Now’s the time for a bit of nail biting as the buyers have until Dec. 15 to pull the plug. To be able to keep their $2,500 won’t be of much solace should the deal head south. My Realtor tried to keep Mister Chicken-Little-The-Sky-Is-Falling calm yesterday; he cautioned that there’s always a ‘list.’ The only bugaboos to me are the water heater and a periodic small drip from the freezer, which I have already disclosed. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

All it’s done is solidify the desire to relocate in Brevard. You know the reasons. There is also something about reinvention of self with a little adventure and the unknown tossed in for good measure. What I do know is that picking flooring is not my cup of tea. Ellen, the lighter shade just seemed right so I’m sorry to have vetoed your choice. The hardwood goes down this week. You will have more opportunity to serve as my decorator; what would you think about plantation shutters? Those are what’s in the current home and I like them very much.

The final nail in the Head West coffin was poking along at seven miles an hour yesterday on I-77. One hour to drive the final seven miles to home. That’s just a deal killer. Three lanes of white lights and red taillights for as far as the eye can see. That’s no way to live, no way to drive. I’m going to do better. Already, I’m Googling things to do in Brevard and Asheville and Hendersonville.


The kitchen is in the final stages of completion. I’m finding the hard way that decor and interior design is not necessarily my cup of tea.

To reiterate, the reason for three bedrooms is so that you and friends from Charlotte and Iowa have a place to stay on the doorstep of the mountains. There will be a definite open door policy for those sorts of visitors. And be sure to tell Tim, Ellen, that I will hold him to his oath for you four to spend next Thanksgiving at my new pad. Reid, you and Liz are welcome, too, although your T-Days seem locked in at St. Paul.

It was a good decision at the last possible moment to head early a.m. to Charleston. The fishing was unbelievable for species I seldom catch, trout and sheepshead. I mean, for a long time it was nice fish after nice fish. Bang. Bang. Bang. It didn’t appear that way at first. The tide was by far the highest I’d ever seen it owning to the Super Moon effect. It pulled the water almost to the top of the docks. It was cold and windy, too. The thought was ‘Here we go again – no fish’. Reid, I tried a new Z-Man plastic lure slipped over a jig that has a big ‘eye’ where the lead weight usually is. The trout went bonkers over it. As per usual, a black man who fishes from the dock at the put in point was the beneficiary of my good fortune. He got a hefty 18 inch black drum and a nice 20 inch trout. After all the gear was stowed at home and the fish cleaned, I dropped some off to my friends Jill and Troy. Nice to share the bounty with folks who will know what to do with it. Troy is one helluva chef. I was wrong, too, about Bowens Island as only marginally further from Brevard. It will add about 60 miles each way. Perhaps it’s time to junk the down-and-back mentality and just stay overnight and fish for two days rather than one.

As for the new hernia, jeez. The doctor cautioned me against too-harsh floor workouts which he attributed, in part, to the new bulge. But since there are no restrictions between now and the surgery date (which has yet to be set) then all will be good in terms of preparation for the move. Ideally, it would be nice to stave it off until after all is said and done with the new house in Brevard. Ellen, let Tim know I appreciate his offer to fly down and help with the packing (and heavy lifting). I may well take him up on it. Reid, I don’t know your schedule beyond Sri Lanka but don’t feel by any means that your presence here is required.

So keep your fingers crossed that the 15th will yield a set-in-stone contract. Toes crossed, too.

Love, Dad

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North Carolina mountains, here I come …

The time of crying wolf (you may have heard my prior threats to move) is over; if the deal holds together, I’ll pull up stakes in Charlotte and move to Brevard. It’s on the doorstep of the mountains in North Carolina. 

Ellen and Reid have heard all the details but this was the first time they got something in writing. I deleted some points in this post but you still get the drift.

November 28, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Talk about roller coaster weekdays. Jeez. Up up and away yesterday, down down down today. One of the worst, or most harried days in a long, long time.

I was on Cloud Nine Monday before waking up like a shot about 4:30 a.m. today with a moderately severe case of buyer’s remorse. I sweated bullets that the rear deck wasn’t large enough and was accessible only through the master bedroom, therein denying it as an entertainment spot with its nice views of the mountains to the south. The Realtor got a panicky call from me this afternoon


Construction isn’t quite finished but there will be a good view of the low-lying mountains and the French Broad River just beyond a treeline.

but he was able to talk me back from the ledge. He reminded me of all the other good points, and that most entertainment would be in the large common room, and, of course, he was right. So tonight the signed contract was sent to him. Looks like a bridge loan is in the offing. Your uncle has helped me understand how those work.

Then my Realtor here used the velvet hammer to beat me down somewhat on the asking price for this place. It’s not the amount I wanted but he was likely right too, although I assured him there wouldn’t be much budging by me to lower the price if there are no immediate takers. This is still a great location and a wonderful unit. Yet this is where things might get a little dicey. If this townhome doesn’t move right away, I risk being on the hook for the balance of the bridge loan in mid-February. Hopefully that won’t happen. But it could. Showings begin Thursday morning. I’ve got one full day to get things ship shape.

Deja vu: for the past couple of weeks my stomach had felt a bit odd and it appears to me that there are the makings of another hernia. It’s in the center of my torso just above my navel and is not close to either of the hernias repaired in April. What a time for this to happen. The surgeon will take a look at me on Tuesday morning to see if indeed my self diagnosis is correct and if so, what might be done about it. The remedy is surgical since hernias can’t heal themselves. I’d like to push the knife off to after the first of the year or until my Medicare supplement insurance kicks in. How much the other two cost me out of pocket is still a very fresh memory.

To top things off I lost Sondra and Jody’s dog for a couple of hours tonight. They were on their way home from Thanksgiving with Chiana in Colorado and they asked if I’d pick up little Maizie, an Aussie, rather than let her again languish overnight in a kennel. Sure, that was fine. The plan was to deposit her at their home and after her leash was off just inside the front door, I turned to retrieve a tub of mail on the porch – and the dog just bolted outside. I tried to catch up but she’d have none of it and after a bit I lost track of her completely. She disappeared for the better part of two hours. I just couldn’t believe it. Somehow she returned to their front porch and a bouncing tennis ball and the promise of a treat was enough to coax her inside.

Part of me has wrestled with this whole move thing. Hard to put my finger on just why; part of it is to dodge Charlotte’s abysmal traffic and adapt to a slower pace of life in a small community, part of it is wanting to be off three floors, and the final part is just a desire to start all over again. But Brevard isn’t so far from Charlotte that I can’t bop down to see friends. There’s a little bit of trepidation over it but things will be okay. Lots of funky shops and restaurants, the mountains, the trout streams, and Asheville and Hendersonville and other small bergs close by. Charleston is about 50 miles further which should put a halt to the insanity of same day up-and-back trips.

Well, I’ve got the housing contract to deal with and some other stuff to wrap up before I hit the sack. St. Paul was sure fun with you guys, and now you may have a new spot to visit next year. We can do the meal all over again.

Love, Dad

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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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