Tag Archives: Asheville

It’s Monday, meaning another Monday letter is nearly out the door …

True to form, it’s another Monday which means another letter to Ellen and Reid is about to be stuffed into #10 envelopes and posted at my development’s mailbox. 

The writing (about 15 minutes) was polished off over a cup of coffee. There’s no real formula to how the letters come together; at one time I kept a cheat sheet of notes but now I sit down and write whatever comes to mind in whatever order. That’s pretty much it.

(Here’s the letter sent last week. I wait one week before posting each letter so Ellen and Reid see the single pages first.)

March 13, 2017

Ellen/Reid: The tepid stream of prospective buyers will no longer be trouping through the house. I took it off the market at mid-week and my W Group Realtor, Scott, took the news like a champion. Really a good guy. He did confide that he thought my asking price – the one he and I agreed to at his suggestion – was a shade too high since other homes he’s represented have been selling very quickly. But in the end that didn’t matter. He’s sent me a few more smaller townhouses to take a look at since he thinks I’m still in a tad too much space; he’s probably right. The taxes and such might be less elsewhere, particularly if I relocate to the suburbs in South Carolina but I sure like the SouthPark location. As you’ve seen, it’s right in the thick of things and I can – for the time being – still navigate three sets of stairs. But after months of keeping the joint clean (let’s hope that trend continues) it’ll be nice to just live in it for a change.

So now the garage has to be cleared out of the two twin beds and cardboard boxes that will no longer be of use. In one sense the purge of stuff was a wholly good thing, plus I got some free decorating and rearranging advice. I really do like how the first floor dramatically opened up. It just looks so much better and is more livable.

I’m not sure how a move might have gone physically if this hernia operation goes on as scheduled. There’d of been no packing or lifting for a month or so. Still no word or update from the Social Security/Medicare folks. Somewhat perturbing in that if the letter doesn’t arrive today then I will pull the plug on Thursday’s surgery and delay it until the situation is clarified. The condition hasn’t deteriorated so a rescheduling might not be bad. What’s lurking on the radar is Wyoming; I want to be in good shape entering the mountains and need several months of solid workouts to deal with the climbing and walking. We shall see.

Since it looks like the knife will be staved off later this week, I’ll proceed to Asheville with Sondra and Jody to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy golf with them on Saturday. Since my dating life has per usual ground to a halt/is non-existent, it’s an easy solo trip to make.

My Irish friend Luke and his daughter Kate came over for dinner last night (she’s in the states for another 10 days or so before heading back to Dublin) and I asked if they’d like to come to Asheville too, and it looks like they might take up the invitation.


My friends Jane and Luke and his daughter Kate show that the English and Irish can indeed get along.

He’s really a great guy (Reid, he said he wanted to talk to you again) and a good stick. He can be the jovial life of the party and jazzes up any room in an instant, such is his pleasant, outgoing personality. So that pair will be a good addition to the soiree. My English friend Jane was here, too, and she and Luke dispelled any notion the English and Irish can’t get along. After my unfortunate faux pas linked Ireland and England, I was told in pointed terms that Ireland is not part of the U.K. Learn something new every day.

Sunday’s snow event totally fizzled. It never ceases to amaze me how people here launch into a tizzy at the mere mention/hint Continue reading


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We will go back but not soon enough

After six years, the idea of camping in the North Carolina mountains has at long last taken hold.  There is scenery, there are fish (some big ones) and plenty of hiking.  Why it took more than half a decade to discover western North Carolina can only be attributed to me being a ‘late adopter’.  Very late.  I will lean on my fly-fisherman-to-end-all-fly-fisherman son in law, Tim, to tie me some Caddis and Adams, along with a few streamers (those drove the larger trout nuts).  (We will call it a trade: I sent some French roast coffee ahead of Emma’s birth and later built Emma’s garden while I was up there to celebrate her grand arrival.)

Felicia and our roomy tent. Camping was more fun than I expected. Everything about it was good. Asheville is close enough that if camp food doesn’t suffice, we can always hit Salsa’s – the best Mexican food I have ever had.

We will go back to the North Mill valley, but not soon enough.  This time, the MSR stove and our mildly loaded backpacks will make the trek with us.

Here is last week’s letter in its entirety.


May 29, 2012

Ellen/Reid: I got a big smile out of that shot of you holding your niece, Reid.  One can only imagine the off-camera coaching you received.  That was so good.  She’s just a little bundle of joy, isn’t she?

Maybe by the time this arrives you will know about your plans for London.  That sounds so adventurous, especially if you have something waiting for you when you return.  That would be great.  I’ve looked into tickets to the U.K., pricey but doable.  I forgot this is an Olympic year and everything will be jacked up price-wise.  But you only go around once, and it would be marvelous to get over there to share your experience at least for a long Thurs.-Sun. weekend.  You’ve been quite the international traveler.  By my count – and I could be wrong – you’ve been to Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Russia, Sweden, India.  What am I missing?

We had a great time in the “mountains” just southwest of Asheville.  We got one of the last camp sites in a state park, and oddly it was a secluded spot at the end of a road where we were really next to only one other couple and well away from the holiday zanies.  We only went for Sunday night.  After setting up the tent we went into Asheville and found an old time neighborhood bar for some of the best calamari I’ve ever had then went to the recovery house where Felicia’s son is staying, and that was a good, eye-opening experience.  The house is well away from Asheville and is filled with guys who are battling the same demons.  Addiction is just such an awful, insidious thing.  After their Sunday night meal, everyone, including visitors (which was really just Felicia and me), had to say what they were thankful for and that was interesting.  Everyone started with “I’m (insert name) and I’m an addict or alcoholic.”  On the way back to camp we bought a couple of bundles of oak firewood and had a great time sipping a little wine, watching the fire, telling stories and just laughing.  I went fishing twice, and caught trout both times, including a 2 pound brown trout of about 17-18 inches (Ellen, tell Tim that after the elation died down I downgraded the catch from 3 to 2 lbs.) plus a few plump rainbows, among the biggest I’ve ever caught, with one topping out in the 14” range.  It’s true that the farther up you walk from the trail head, the bigger the fish get.  Of course, I lost numerous flies due to poor casts but it was still great fun.  North Carolina is so beautiful.  If it just wasn’t for the reddest of redneck politics.

Ellen, we have our tickets for Friday, July 13.  We get in about 1:30 p.m. and will rent a car so you don’t have to fuss with traffic or bundling little Emma up for the trip.  We’ll also get a room to save you guys the hassle.  That’s fine with us.  We are excited to see the little one.  She will be more than two months old by that time.  Can’t wait to see you guys again.  We will get out of your hair early Sunday for our 9 a.m. flight.

Will change a couple of rooms around upstairs in the next week or so in order to configure my office a little bit more efficiently.  I want to be in the same room as the router and phone connections and reduce the number of wires snaking to and fro.  So the double bed and the twin beds will be swapped out.  It’s the behemoth desk that is the biggest challenge.  But all-in-all it will be a far better working arrangement.

My workouts for Wyoming have started in semi-earnest.  There’s got a long way to go and if I’d knock off the ice cream things would be that much easier on me.  But its allure is strong and I wilt way too often.  There are worse things.  At least the ice cream is carb-free.


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“Key Performance Indicators”…

This photo has nothing to do with today's post but since you've arleady seen the shower, you might as well see the dueling pedestals. No snickering, please.

Not that I am without sin when it comes to bastardizing the King’s English, but somewhere along the line U.S. businesses took a wrong turn when it came to language and the reliance on, shall we say, ‘corporate speak’.

As I continue to beat the job bushes, the following insanity led off a job description forwarded my way:

“An Exciting Leadership Opportunity to provide overall direction and guidance to business operations with the objective of maximizing growth and profitability. Plans and directs operations within the business to support the Key Performance Indicators.  Plans objectives and ensures management is in compliance with corporate, regional and financial goals. A Progressive Leader who creates a positive work environment that values its employees and their training and professional development and promotes teamwork; and supervises all direct reports and through the chain of command all their reports.”

Okay, what business did this refer to?  Accounting?  Banking?  Advertising?  Waste handling?  Beats me.  And what was the job?  I missed that part.  I would’ve been excited but I didn’t know what I was supposed to be excited about.  As I maximized the performance of my scroll down button, the fog cleared and it became abundantly evident this was an exciting food service opportunity.  I like to eat but would rather not be on the administrative end of food service.

Clearly, HR types have yet to find their creative niche.  Obfuscation is more to their liking.  In a few weeks time I’m slated to teach a class on pleasure writing, the tenets of which would be a good thing for business, too.  The anecdotal evidence of corporate inanity shown above may well surface again, but not in a good way.  One of my hard-and-fast rules to students (mostly adult learners since it’s an evening class): a long list of corporate buzz words that will be off limits for their use.  Hey, I have to break people from the corporate language funk some way.


Here is a letter to Ellen and Reid from relatively recent times.

August 6, 2007

Reid/Ellen: Well, I’ll be seeing you both later on this week in Omaha, and grandma and grandpa are really looking forward to seeing the two of you.  I’m not sure where the coordinated black tops/khaki pants came into the picture, but it is what it is.  Reid, your sister has already pulled my chain about the black mock-tee as being something I like, but you’ll just have to live with my choice.  Just play nice with all the other relatives.

Never in my life as a driver have I hit anything other than bugs that splatter on the windshield.  That’s until this past weekend.  On the way home Saturday evening from a golf outing in Hickory (about 65 miles away) a sizeable raccoon experienced an unfortunate choice of life-altering timing to cross the highway in front of me at about 70 mph (I mean it going .05 mph and me zipping along at 70 mph).  Bumpety-bump-bump-bump.  I thought I’d nailed it with the right front tire, and didn’t think much about it other than he / she had unfortunately entered the food chain.  But the next day I noticed it had rumpled the front spoiler just below the right fender.  I mean it pushed in the plastic about 8 inches, so that was a big’n.  Haven’t had it estimated yet, but my hunch is the damage will top at least $1,000, considering it’s a BMW and there’s nothing cheap about those cars.  At least it wasn’t a deer, or, heaven forbid, a person.  I’m sure the raccoon’s last thought was ‘what’s that light coming toward me?’  Wham.  It got thumped pretty good.

I’ve taken the coin mania to the next level.  More evidence I’ve stepped off the deep end and there’s no turning back.  Now, there are two distinctly separate cigar boxes in my closet, one for change as the result of a purchase transaction, the other for coins randomly found or picked up off the street.  That is just plain whack-o.  I have just plain lost it.

Helluva thing about that bridge collapse.  Thank goodness you’re okay, Ellen.  We were pretty panic stricken there for a moment, especially your mom when she heard some guy yelling on your line.  The phone system must’ve gone haywire with everyone trying to get through to friends and loved ones.  Be sure I get your secondary phones and emails, plus those for Tim and Rachel.  I’ll plug those into the memory banks.

In a total turnaround, it looks as if the 4 Corners trip is off, only to be replaced by a tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway from end to end.  Betsy kind of slapped me upside the head by wondering why I haven’t gotten to know this corner of the world.  And that made some sense, so I’ll head off August 18th or 19th from wherever it starts (Tennessee maybe?) to wherever it ends (some place in Virginia?) and then I’ll head toward the Outer Banks in northeastern North Carolina.  It won’t be nearly as arduous as the 650 miles per day the western trip would’ve required.  That’s really humping.  The speed limit on the Blue Ridge is 45 mph, so if there is a raccoon in my future it won’t happen at such high speeds.  I’ll overnight in Asheville or perhaps Boone, North Carolina.

Had Betsy and Bob over for dinner last Friday night, and served up that pasta dish I’d sent to you guys.  They raved about it, and they made no secret I needed to atone for the tough-as-twang-leather pot roast fiasco from Mother’s Day back in May.  That was just god-awful.  We had a couple of nice bottles of wine and in true Betsy fashion, she brought over not one but a couple of yummy desserts.  That woman knows how to put that stuff together.  Now it’s back to more pedestrian fare, such as the stray hamburger or meatloaf, and in a pinch, a bowl of cereal.

We’ll see each other soon enough.  You guys drive carefully and safely, and keep me apprised if your travels.  You have my cell phone, so keep me posted.  We’ll all do our M-I-B imitations.

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