Tag Archives: Brevard

Sigh. The Alps are a distant memory … it’s all about home projects now … except for the black bear


So much for fun in Europe; the trek is now squarely in the rear view mirror and on the domestic front there are routine home chores in need of attention. Gotta get stuff done before Daves I and II and Jane and Cheryl and Emma and Georgia (with their parents in tow) come knock-knock-knocking at my door.

Oh, and there was the matter of an intrusive black bear.


August 13, 2018

Ellen/Reid: It’s taken me a bit to get back in the swing of things. I’ve really been beat which might owe to travel. I was down for the count for 24 hours on Friday and just haven’t made it all the way back. But it’ll come. 

Now it’s time to turn attention to the deck. The architect dropped off the plans that the city has approved in my absence. Things look pretty good. There’s a funky pergola and some side slats that should offer some privacy. Hopefully the builder can do a reasonable translation of what’s on paper. Looks as though the composite decking will be a custom order and I’m not entirely sure how long that will take. I’m prepared to spend a few extra bucks on the sub-structure since I’m not a devotee of wood, especially in a climate like this where there’s a lot of rain and humidity that can speed degradation. 

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Okay, so there’s a nice view now and then as I futz around in the back yard.

Also in the works: replacement of turf around the garden boxes with a layer of crushed granite that is mined very close to Brevard. The pieces are very small and will be held in place by a metal edge that will be pounded into the ground. This should make traipsing through the garden a little cleaner on the shoes and a little more esthetically pleasing. We’ll see. It seems the gardening is never entirely done. Always tinkering here and there. Next up: the blueberry box will be extended by six feet and a few more blueberry varietals planted which apparently helps cross pollination. The raspberries, though, are about to really explode. Robbie needs plenty of berries to make jam. Something is, however, munching on the tomatoes although I’ve not seen slugs or other bugs. But there is enough produce to make BLTs and that’s all that matters. 

There was likely a first encounter with a black bear. On Saturday the solid iron support for the bird feeder was bent in half and the feeder emptied of sunflower seed. No raccoon or other animal has the strength to twist metal to their will. So I hammered the damaged support back into shape and attached it to the post with stronger screws, for what that’s worth. In a way it’s too bad that there wasn’t a bear sighting (on my terms) since that would’ve been a story worth telling. Robbie takes her feeder down every night since there are active bears in her north Brevard neighborhood but this is the first time a bear has made an appearance in my ‘hood. Maybe it was just passing through and stopped by for a snack.

We head to New Hampshire in early September for Chianna’s wedding. We found some cheap $229 flights to Boston and that will save a tedious 18 hour drive plus hotels up and back. She and her fiancee John will have the ceremony in a farm field so here’s hoping the weather is pleasant. Rain would be a disaster. But either way it’ll be fun.

Then the next week it’s on to Omaha for my 50th high school reunion. 50 years? It just doesn’t seem at all possible. Honestly, it hadn’t been at the top of the radar, given the hectic schedule in Europe and the New Hampshire wedding and with Des Moines folks visiting in early October, but Ralph has pressed me to attend and it will be good to be in Omaha for a few days to see old (sic) friends.

My community college classes start next week. For some reason, my writing class is at 1:30 in the afternoon while the news writing course isn’t until 7:00 p.m. I’ll have to drive about 25 miles to the Flat Rock campus, which is just south of Hendersonville. Not sure how many students I’ll have but will find that out tomorrow when I meet with the faculty liaison. 

Alright, over and out. Got some shelving in the shed calling my name and it won’t get done sitting here on the couch. Although sitting on my duff isn’t entirely a bad thing.

Love, Dad

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As time goes by; a life there and a life here …


As months go, there was a significant creative dry spell for weekly letters from early July into mid August. That owes to the just-concluded trek through the French-Italian-Swiss Alps.

In the weeks ahead of settling into a window seat on a plane bound for Europe, however, there was a fessing up about the how and why of a new life in Brevard; Ellen and Reid (among others) had asked why pull up stakes in Charlotte and resettle a few hours west at the base of the North Carolina mountains. I had some explaining to do.


June 25, 2018

Ellen/Reid: I’m upwards of six months now in Brevard. This weekend Sondra asked me, as a few others have, if Brevard was to my liking. It’s a fair enough question and one that I’ve tried to answer to my own satisfaction since the day that I got the keys to the front door (January 18). Things were going swimmingly in Charlotte and that’s where all my good friends were, and still are.

I guess it goes back a couple of years when on the drive/slog back from hiking in Wyoming I made an impulsive way stop in Hendersonville. For some reason there must’ve been an element of dissatisfaction with Charlotte; traffic snarls, the accursed HOA Nazis in my ‘hood, coupled with some urge to simplify and downsize. Hendersonville was fine enough with a fab main street and lots of culture but there was something about it that didn’t jibe for me so I tabled it for 18 months or so. Charleston was also in the move-to mix but the far-far-far worse traffic deep sixed that thought in fairly short order.

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To be sure, Bridal Veil Falls and other nearby water wonders were part of the draw to Brevard; but there were other factors, too – less traffic congestion, a chance to garden and an adventurous urge to see what else lay ahead of me – that figured into the decision.

But this part of North Carolina stayed in the back of my mind. I wish I could say there was some thorough rationale to all of this, perhaps just an itch to try something new, maybe, but that grounded logic escapes me too. I dunno. I was just ready to move, to have a little adventure in my life and to try something different since your old man could always pull up stakes on Bungalow Way to return to the Charlotte area.

It would be a misleading to say Brevard clicked for me from the get-go. I scratched my head a bit, woke up more than once in an addled, surreal ‘Am I really here?’ state of mind/confusion. For sure Robbie has been a gigantic help in my integration into the new town. She really has been. I needed a friend/guide/counselor and she became it. So she’s made the breaking in period all that much more palatable. 

Brevard has grown on me day by day. Now that the moving dust has settled I can get to know this little ‘burg a lot more. A few more nightspots and a few more better eateries would be a great thing but like Charlotte, I tend to gravitate to only a few familiar haunts. I miss Macs, Plaza Midwood (which you’d have no reason to know about) plus all those good friends.

The garden has helped, too. Yeah, it sounds like an old guy thing but it’s just so enjoyable. I’ve wanted a plot of dirt ever since you guys were little. Many mornings I grab the cup you gave me with the girl’s photo and sip coffee on the back deck or just sit on the lipped ledge of the big raised bed to just sit and watch the plants the birds and anything else moving about out there. It’s kind of weird that there really hasn’t been much time devoted to fly fishing which was initially part of the draw but almost no time has been spent on the French Broad or Davidson rivers. 

It would be fair to say Brevard is still a work in progress. As towns go it’s fairly progressive although there are a ton of ‘necks/Trumpites on the periphery of the city and throughout Transylvania County. They’re getting what they deserve in absolutely stupid, lousy tariffs and slashes to their safety net and a serial daily liar to put their trust in and swear fealty to. But they get to keep their guns and their irrational border fears so that’s all hunky dory from their perspective. None of that would’ve changed had I stayed put in Charlotte. 

So the best I can do about Brevard is keep on liking it and keep my eyes open and hopes high. Thanksgiving is creeping up on us and you’ll be able to check things out with your own eyes. I’ll keep mine open about it, too. 

Love, Dad

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Shock and ‘awwww’ … and time to take stock of a rejiggered life


I’ve been a Brevardian/Brevardite a shade over six months now, and it’s probably time to take stock of how life has gotten on in my newly adopted home town, what with giving up a comfortable situation of a nice home and great friends and familiar routine in Charlotte.

A fair amount of introspective thought has been given in the past couple of days to the sudden twists and turns as related to the whirlwind weeks – not months – that landed me here. Ellen and Reid will read an update in the letter to be written and mailed today. Suffice to say it’s some mix of shock and ‘awwww’ – as in how did the uprooting come to be?

For now, however, it’s back to BAU.


June 19, 2018

Ellen/Reid: When your mom sent that photo of you two with Emma and Georgia it just made me smile ear to ear. What a picture. (Dave’s note: that photo is now atop this blog’s home page.) Reid, it’s so good that you got to spend time with them, and this time next week I’ll get my turn. No need for you to come to the airport. I’ll take BART to some station in Oakland. 

A couple of days ago I took a flier on HULU and am watching Japan vs. Columbia in the World Cup. This is about all the TV I need and will ditch cable in pretty short order. I already had downgraded from the whiz-bang package to something more basic but even that is more than is worth watching. I’ll keep the high speed internet but won’t miss the rest.

After extending the red raspberry box by six feet last week, I’m done with building raised beds for a while. Things got out of hand there for a few weeks. Another box for flowers would be sort of nice but like cable, the overall garden can get by without it.

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Little Addie, my five-year-old neighbor, helps herself to my bounty of sugar snap peas. This is a partial clue to the answers of why Brevard, why now and why the mountains of western North Carolina.

What will likely be done (probably when I’m back from Europe) is to fashion a walkway to connect the beds from what they call rock dust which is essentially finely crushed granite from a quarry just outside of town. Essentially a mountain is being ground down to nothingness. Ellen, send me a pic sometime of how your new bed is progressing. 

Already the raspberries are starting to pop. The bed has been kept mulched and moist so hopefully there will be a good early crop. What might be done today is take up an offer from Susan, a friend of Robbie’s, to transplant some raspberry plants from her century-old plot. Susan is a native Brevardian and a real gardener. Her yard and garden is expansive and gorgeous. She kind of shamed me into expanding the berry patch. She was right. Four by four feet was too small. I’m not entirely sure what variety her plants are but with any luck they might grow enough to bear fruit in the fall.

We’ve been out hiking more and more, partially to prep me for the Alps, and this afternoon Robbie and me will head up toward the Blue Ridge Parkway for a route she uncovered last night. We typically Continue reading

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Hello, Mr. Hand Sledge: a painful reminder to measure twice (thrice?), cut once …


A still throbbing index finger left black and blue by the errant (read ‘careless’) swing of a hand sledge ought to be reminder enough that knowledgeable construction of any relatively complex project isn’t child’s play.

So it is Ellen and Reid have learned their father is about to embark on a self-constructed deck. The job will stretch whatever skills I profess to own. I can just hear the kids now: ‘One step at a time, dad, one step at a time.’ One can only hope so.


June 11, 2018

Ellen/Reid: Well, the wheels are turning toward a small deck behind the house. A city planner sent me the permit forms and – for a $50 fee and a sketch of the proposed plan – they’ll grant permission to start construction. Building the raised beds gave me a little bit of confidence to do the job myself since it will be a free standing deck without a lot of bells and whistles. There will be some storage space to accommodate Miss Emma. Tim is right that the whole project should be kept simple, although it would be nice to have his engineering and project skills. I’m gearing up for the task at a website he recommended, Decks.com. I just have to remember, over and over and over, to measure twice (thrice maybe?) and cut once. No doubt some additional tools will be purchased, such as a reciprocal saw and jigsaw, longer level, et al to help with the job. There are some details I’ll sweat profusely over. How to cut angled boards and sink footings, etc. But the footings here only have to be sunk 12” so it’s not the four feet or whatever depth you need to dig in the Midwest. We’ll have to see how it goes but I’m kind of excited about it.

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I won’t repeat the string of ‘words’ that spewed out of my mouth at the moment sledge impacted finger. “Ouch” was as genteel as I got.

Hopefully there won’t be any more finger bashing with a hand sledge as was done Saturday on the newest raised bed. What an oaf. I just wasn’t paying attention. The thought passed briefly through my mind “You should move your finger” and then – wham! It hurt like hell but nothing split open or broke so I’m lucky in that regard.

Fishing sure was a bust in Charleston. The only game fish landed over two days was a small speckled trout. The rest were junk fish and small sharks. It was so hot that my prediction of water that would be too hot proved true. Cap’n Joe at Charleston Outdoor Adventures and I chatted briefly and he said as much; the bigger reds and trout have gone toward the cooler open ocean waters although some are staying relatively close at the lighthouse on the west end of Folly Island where the big salt creek meets the Atlantic. I might traipse there later this summer but for now there likely won’t be another trip to Bowens Island until the waters have cooled in the 70F range. But it was still fun to be on the water for a change. There’s so much to see.

The local community college nixed any writing classes I might have taught. That’s really okay. It just frees up my weeknights. 

My friends Ray and Dave from Charlotte will come up this weekend for golf and seeing the local Brevard sights. We’ll probably be pretty low key with things; hit a couple of the breweries and hit a couple of diners/food trucks for local food. It’ll be fun to have those guys here. I miss seeing my Charlotte friends but my home gives them a chance to navigate up this way since mountain golf is different from the courses they’ve been playing.

Reid, it won’t be too many more days before I’ll be in California. Excited to see your new place and hear all about the work you’re doing. Haven’t been to the Bay area in years and years. Is is possible to take BART from the SFO airport to Oakland? The assumption is it has to be fairly accessible. Can’t wait to get out there. 

Mid July’s trek to the Alps will be here before I know it. Been stepping up the tempo and intensity of the pre-hike workouts. Robbie is a dedicated hiker and she’s putting me though my paces. Hopefully the weight can be shaved a few more pounds. It’s coming off slower than I might like but even a couple more pounds is better than no pounds cut at all. Starting to go through the guidebooks but my friends Tom and Vince have carried all of the pre-walk planning. I’m chagrined about that.

Alright, enough for today. Gotta tend to the garden (there are now five raised beds) and the weeds don’t listen when I ask them to stop growing. So now it’s hand-to-hand combat.

Love, Dad

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You call this fishing? Perhaps I’d best stay put in the mountains …


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This juvenile black tip shark that chomped on a cut finger mullet was about all I could muster over two days of fishing in the heat and humidity.

For the better part of six months, Miss Emma languished high and dry below Robbie’s deck; my sturdy little kayak probably thought her seafaring days were over.

And after last week’s sorry excursion to Bowens Island, it may well be that she and I will be land lubbers for another few months. If you like small sharks and junk fish, well, I’m your guy. Ellen and Reid will see the details of this sorrowful tale later this week.


June 4, 2018

Ellen/Reid: Hank Williams’ Hey Good Lookin’ just popped up on Pandora and perhaps that means I’ve ingratiated myself that much more to what passes for mountains. Ellen, Tim knows this kind of ‘neck music. 

It’s unspeakably gorgeous today. A very clear blue sky – free of rain for once – and the 80F sun is drying us out after a sodden several week stretch of unrelenting rain. But the raised bed has drained quite well and more than once my lucky stars have been thanked that there’s no basement to worry about as a collection place for water. We absorbed better than 24 inches in the span of not quite three weeks. Once the French Broad pushed up and out of its banks the water began a slow march toward the house. The fields out back resembled a lake but it would’ve taken a helluva lot more water to ultimately reach my back door. Trout fisherman have to be shaking their heads since the fish have got to be swimming way downstream if they’re alive at all. That’s too bad since the summer tourist season is upon Brevard. Already there’s been an uptick in traffic, largely from the out of towners. But since I’m a recent alien myself, there’s no sense bitching about it. It’s good for the town.

Alas, my transplanted butterfly bush bid the garden a farewell as it succumbed to something. It just didn’t take to the dirt although it might have had a severe case of wet feet after all the rain. The spinach and arugula have already gone to bolt (seed) and there wasn’t enough picked. The heat surely isn’t good for cool weather crops and next year the seeds will be in the ground at the end of February at the latest. A friend suggested a tent of gauze might save the tender plants from sunburn and that’s another potential remedy. I’ve been infected with another case of raised garden bed-itis since another 5×5 foot box will be built next week. I can’t help myself.

Also, and Ellen you can thank Tim for his help with steering me to construction resources, the wheels are turning rapidly toward a self-made deck. The neighbors are beating me to the punch with very nice designs but I’m bound and determined to give it a try. It won’t be overly ornate but it will also serve as a hiding place for Miss Emma. Pinterest is a wealth of wonderful design inspiration.

There was some tragedy during and after the White Squirrel Festival. The festival hosts something of a Soapbox Derby down the hill on East Broad Street in downtown, and one of the cars went out of control and careened at full speed into the crowd, sending several onlookers to the hospital, one of them a gentleman with a severe head injury. He passed away over the weekend. As I walked on my daily constitutional past the spot of the accident, there were markings where the sorry event occurred. The whole thing has cast a cloud over the festival. More than likely this is the final time racers will zoom down the hill.

At long last, Miss Emma has rightly assumed her perch atop the Camry and as early as I wake up tomorrow morning she and I will make a beeline to Bowens Island for the first time in more than six months.

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Yeah, I whine and moan about poor fishing skills but there’s really few places I’d rather be than afloat on the tidal creeks and flats.

I’ve itched to get down there and have missed the saltwater terribly. Stopped a bit ago for a load of frozen shrimp at the store and once this letter is done the rest of the gear will be tossed into the car. The one downer about living in Brevard is it adds another 65-70 miles to the jaunt. For the first time ever we’ll overnight in Charleston at some fleabag motel and make a two day fishing venture out of it. Better than 500 miles down and back in one day. It’s just too much to endure. The salt creeks are no doubt heating up and the reds are likely to have vamoosed to cooler waters offshore but that’s no concern to me. It will just be nice to be on the water. Yeah, but best time to fish in the Spring has come and gone but that’s no biggie. I’ll be up and on the road before first light.

Love, Dad

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Spring has arrived – finally – in the North Carolina mountains … and there’s music in them thar hills


Spring has sprung in Brevard. High time, too. The raised bed garden has gone begging longer than I’d hoped for. But the recent warmth has pushed the envelope and it’s time to get in gear garden-wise.

But Brevard is more than just jamming seeds into black dirt. There’s music in them thar hills and with tourist season just around the corner the little town has begun to stir from its cold season slumber.

Alas, Ellen, Tim and the girls will get a visit from me in short order. Tending to the garden will be left to the caring hands of neighbors and Robbie. 


April 23, 2018

Ellen/Reid: It’s raining this morning but for once I won’t be cranking about it since the lawn and the garden could both use the moisture. The peas, romaine and spinach are all up, the blueberries are booming and the raspberries seem to be making a tepid recovery from whatever ailed them. There’s a chance for a trip to the nursery later today for some herbs to grow in pots on the back deck. Space in the raised bed garden is too precious for herbs, what with tomatoes and peppers on tap in the near future. Ellen, tell Tim the two of us will need to sit down while I’m up there to plot the plans for the the deck extension which should be started in late May or June. Hopefully I should be able to do most of the labor.

Kitty and Tom Bohr were here for the weekend and it was really great to host them. They are salt of the earth people and it also gave Tom and me a chance to kibbutz about our upcoming 30 day trek through the French Alps. fullsizeoutput_3014It really hasn’t been on my radar at all, but as you both know Tom is a planner extraordinaire and so that has me jizzed up and anxious for the trip. Ordered two trail guides from Amazon a few minutes ago. About the only major purchases left to make are some new ankle-height Salewa boots and some light-as-air hiking poles from Z Pack. Tom highly recommended the poles. The downer is you can’t stow them in a pack but will need to put in checked baggage at the airport. We spent Friday night bar hopping – if you can do such a thing in Brevard – and we polished it off with live music at the Phoenix and the Fox. The band was just crazy.

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You pay your money and take your musical chances at the Phoenix and the Fox. Usually, you come out a winner.

Three good musicians and a woman (the girlfriend of one of the guys) who dressed in a pink princess gown and tooted every so often on a kazoo. It seemed her real job was to waltz through the crowd with the tip jar as the band played on. It was so fun. We walked downtown and back on a lovely evening. 

They went on to Black Mountain on Saturday to visit some other friends from our former church at Caldwell. Robbie and I spent all of Saturday grooving to 10 bands at the Songfest at the Brevard Music Center and it was incredible. $4 Oskar Blues beer, too. Such talent there is here, and from Nashville, too, where many of the musicians are anchored. The raucous finale was two hours with the Wood Brothers, and they were just flat-out unbelievable.

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Oliver Wood had fans reaching for more, more, more music.

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For a trio, the Wood Brothers can really bring the music. Man, I hope they return next year.

They had the crowd jumpin’ and hollerin’, so much so that the sparse security finally gave up trying to keep dancers and revelers from the front of the stage. The crowd just overwhelmed the two person music police. It was the first-ever such fest and it’ll be a sell out next year. I will seek out the Wood Bros. to see them again. Their lead singer, Oliver Wood, has one of the most distinctive voices heard in a long, long while. What a high-energy show.

Sondra and Jody and our Irish buddy Luke will visit this weekend for golf and no doubt music, beer and fun somewhere in town. This is what the mountain home was intended for; to have people visit and spend some time. I’ve offered it to them and Andrea and Kurt while I’m traipsing through Europe and they are welcome to commit at the last minute if that suits their schedules. From the look at the social/music schedule in Brevard there will be a whole lot going on. That’s why I’m excited for the spring/summer season to really be here. The next big thing is the White Squirrel Festival over Memorial Day weekend. They shut down the two main drags, Main and Broad Streets, for live music and vendors and stuff like that. If you guys want to visit, let me know and the arrangements will be made.

I legitimately slept until 9:15 this morning, far and away the longest I’ve legitimately slept in bed for more than a decade. Felt good for a change. Must’ve been the dark, rainy skies that kept the sun at bay. Now’s time, though, to head to the gym to work off the beer/food pounds added this weekend.

Love, Dad

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The retiree blues just got a new refrain …


So this is how the retiree life gets along in Brevard. Check your garden. Again. Bitch about weather you can do nothing about. Stare at your spiffy unridden bike. Drive to the store even though you don’t need to. Wonder if you got any real mail today.

But then there’s the rehash of a road trip that pushed all the old guy crankiness far to the side. 


April 17, 2018

Ellen/Reid: Well, if you believe the weather forecasters we are on the cusp of spring in Brevard. That’s a mighty big if. Allegedly it will be 78F tomorrow. I’ll believe it when I feel it. Like you guys, the weather here has been just plain awful; cold, wet, clammy. Geez, Ellen, a near foot of snow in St. Paul on April 15? What the …? No one can like that. Reid, I’ve not checked how Oakland is but has to be a damn side better than the Midwest and East.

Just walked in the door from trout fishing west of Brevard with Dave Hemminger. And unbelievably at the very end was something rarely if ever seen; the biggest fish, by far, caught on literally the final cast of the day. Dave hooked a monster and was able to steer it to the guide’s net. It was incredible. I have never witnessed anything like it. That’s on top of one helluva six day stretch of fishing – he hooked a nearly 200 lb. tarpon last Thursday off of south Miami. He fought the behemoth for an hour and 20 minutes before the hook apparently broke through its mouth.

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My friend Dave fought this bad boy – actually, most big tarpon are females – for more than an hour. If they handed out certificates for near 200 pounders, he’d get one.

I think both he and the fish were exhausted. I never got a single bite although the highlight of the day was fishing for bonefish in the flats well offshore. It was an incredible environment although it was maddening that when the guide shouted ‘fish at 11:00 o’clock!’ I could never see the fish. He thought I wore the wrong color polarized lens, and that may well be but it was irritating to not see a single fish. At the end of the day, your dad just isn’t a very good catcher of fish. (Reid, you and Tim will fish the same stretch of trout water that Dave and I did the day after Thanksgiving.)

There are some pea and lettuce sprouts popping up in the garden. It’s good to see something finally start to grow although, distressingly, my raspberry plants are inexplicably dying. I’m not sure if it’s drift from nearby herbicide use or what, but the plants are withering away. I dunno. This isn’t what had been planned on. The blueberries are getting along fine, however. 

My new bike still languishes in the living room although it’s hoped that the maiden ride will be yet this week if the weather holds. Robbie said they had a big bike race in town while I was away fishing in Florida. But watching bike races just isn’t my thing. I want to pedal to the grocery store for bread or to Oskar Blues for a cold beer. 

Ellen, I just laughed out loud this morning at the photo of Georgia’s world-record bed head hair. What a tangle. That means she must’ve slept like a log. I hope she liked the stuff tossed in the box. I tried to minimize the number of pieces you’d have to pick up. Pretty considerate, huh? Still hard to wrestle with the scenes of snow armageddon up there. That’s just plain sick.

Reid, keep me posted on what’s going on in California. It’s nice that you’re pretty close to your mom. Nice to have family nearby. I’d like to see some photos of where you’re staying and what the work place looks like, too. How are you getting around without a car? You likely don’t need one. If you wouldn’t mind a visitor I’d love to come out for a couple of days around a weekend.

A young woman with two daughters moved into the house next door. She must be a florist because she’s had pots galore of cut flowers on her front porch. She had some raised beds for dahlias built in her backyard but they are so long and narrow the boxes look like coffins. Kind of weird but that’s the way things are in the ‘hood. The remaining still-to-be-finished four houses in the development have all sold. That’s a good thing. Based on what I’ve seen of their placement on the lots, my place still shines for the spacious backyard view. It feels like a good move to be out here. Now all that’s left to do is make sure the raspberries grow and to ride the bike. And catch more fish.

Love, Dad

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