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I’ve become a Charlottean…


Henry (hoping for scraps no doubt) in Ellen and Tim's new kitchen. If Ellen and Tim wanted to visit Charlotte, they could bring Henry and he could sit in my kitchen, too.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and the five years in North Carolina have been that and more.  If you’d asked me three or four years ago about my early impressions, the answer then may not have been as generous.

As I drove into a strange town that first night in August, 2006 it rained as hard as on a Hollywood back lot.  It was so humid the streets were steaming.  After schlepping a car full of belongings up two flights of stairs into corporate housing I tried in vain to find a grocery store.   To avoid becoming impossibly lost I purposefully didn’t stray too far away from my temporary home (there’s an odd configuration to the streets in Charlotte) and literally oriented myself by keeping the tall downtown buildings in my field of vision.

But the skies cleared, the street maps began to make sense, and the elusive grocery was located.  In time I’ve become a Charlottean (maybe not a full-fledged North Carolinian but there’s still time for that).  The names of local movers-and-shakers aren’t quite so foreign, I semi-abide NASCAR and if you asked for a good place to eat, I could rattle off a few spots based on cuisine, general location, and price range.   Not everything has gone smoothly.  I’m still dyslexic on Bermuda greens.

The kids have each made cameo appearances here twice, and by my math that averages out to one visit every 2.5 years.   It’s not overly disappointing in that, as they should, they’ve moved onward – Ellen now married to Tim up in the Twin Cities, and Reid, ensconced in the agency life in Chicago.  The welcome mat is always out for them, their guest rooms in order, and if they could move the average up to 1.5 years, then things down here would be complete.

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August 15, 2011

Ellen/Reid: Yesterday marked five years in Charlotte since I pulled into town in the over-loaded BMW on a rain-soaked Tuesday night and wondered, aloud probably, ‘what the hell am I doing here?’  As some might say, it feels like 20 years.  It really does.  It is mind boggling that so much time can literally fly by without an accounting or inkling of how it was spent or where it went.  It is just hard to believe.  On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being incredibly good, I’ll fudge and give it a 7.5.  On the whole it has been somewhere between very acceptable to very good.  That and a buck will get me a cup of coffee.  As the new guy here, I’ve gotten by okay.  If I can stick it out another week, I get some five year anniversary thingy.  Probably something best suited to holding down loose papers.  Still, the work is appreciated.

I put up a cheap hummingbird feeder the other day outside the kitchen window, and already the little fliers are buzzing to the sweet red liquid.  To watch them is a small diversion when I’m at the kitchen table.  They’re so small it’s hard to imagine where they nest.  The free meal would certainly beat milling around flowers for a sip of nectar.  Most of them would migrate to warmer climes once the flower season is over.  I like having birds around and this is the first attempt to attract hummingbirds.  It worked.  You should put one up at the Pagoda given how much time you spend up there.  You’d have hummingbirds in no time.

There is an outside chance the guys who traveled to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho last September – Dave Hemminger, Dave Dahlquist and Bob Furstenau – might be coming down here this fall to play golf, drink wine, eat and swap stories.  It would be great to host them here.  We’d probably head over to Pinehurst for a day to play one or two of the better courses over that way.  We were slated to head up toward Annapolis, Maryland for golf and to roam around some swanky boat show but Dave D. had plans that nixed that.  To keep the new tradition alive, they may visit CLT instead.  Pinehurst is a shade over two hours away to the east and the golf is good.  You don’t do much else there but play golf, sit back and drink mint juleps and toddies like that.  The problem is once you’ve seen Coeur d’ Alene, how do you get them to want to go anyplace else?  I think Bob is prepping himself for retirement by riding his bike – BMW, that is – up through Nebraska and South Dakota and in/out of Sturgis before he then heads on into Wyoming and perhaps back down through Colorado in the very near future.  Sounds like a lot of fun to me.  It’s basically a big Western loop for him and his sidekicks.  It’s been a long while since my Heritage Softail made a similar trip of long miles.  Ray Sculfort rode his to Sturgis, again, last week.  I miss that.

Pretty soon should come the results of how my students graded me for the writing class.  I hope the results are relatively positive since I’d like to teach again.  It’s kind of fun.  I hope the next one is on newspaper writing even though most newspapers are pretty much DOA these days.  Why anyone would want to write for a newspaper for a living is a tough call.  It’s just a tough business these days for the ink-and-paper trade.  Reid, it’s all going the way of your digital world.

The siren call of work is calling me.  Sorry to have been out of touch this past weekend but cell service was spotting where I was so a call this next weekend will have to suffice.  Give Henry a pat on the head for me, Ellen, and Reid, attend a Cubbies game for your old man.

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