Tag Archives: Asheville

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.

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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

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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