Tag Archives: Caldwell Presbyterian Church

The sister act in St. Paul … now, it’s on to see Reid

I love my two little granddaughters, but holy cow, their energy level is off the charts. That’s as it should be. 

This week it’s on to another sort of trip. Part of the journey involves a chance to see Reid; the other part will be pure effort. If only I could tap into the girl’s energy reserves.

July 10, 2017

Ellen/Reid: The Uber driver just dropped me off at the door, and it is good to be home. Man, Ellen, I just don’t see how you and Tim do it. Those girls don’t slow down, even for a second. Let’s just say that Emma is on top of her game. Smart, active – and demanding. And Georgia is so sweet but she’s got her petulant little ‘I hear you but I’m not listening’ swagger going, too. But that’s probably how you want them to be rather than bending to your will every second. It means they’ve got little minds of their own and that’s a very good thing. That I usurped Emma’s room put another layer of hardship on your bedtime efforts to get those two down. They just play off each other before they finally get to sleep.

Tim is just a workaholic on that deck. It is going to be a work of art and it will be as solid as a rock. He’s saving you guys a ton of dough. There’s no question it will add a lot of value to the house. It will be like a two season room. When the weather is decent you will be living out there. I’m just sorry I wasn’t of more help on the thing but he just had that circular saw and the hand drill moving, moving, moving all the time. Maybe I’ll be able to see the finished product before long. No doubt you’ll post photos sooner than later.


My son-in-law Tim was getting after it on building a new deck. He was a pure workhorse all weekend up in St. Paul.

It was sure hot when I stepped out of the airport. Just very humid and not at all Minnesota like. The temps were so pleasant and the humidity so low, relatively speaking, of course. Uber is the way to do things. Not sure why I was the last adult over age 30 to use Uber but now I’m hooked.

Adrienne’s wedding was just the icing on cake for the weekend. It was an unusual ceremony but so tasteful and just so much fun all the way around. It wasn’t’ stuffy or pretentious. Wonderful to see old friends from Des Moines. Everyone seems to be getting older and you can lump me in with that crowd. Yikes. It does put aging into a perspective. That location was perfect, although you can burn that video of us dancing, Ellen. Make sure it surfaces no where else.


The Minnesota wedding of a daughter of a good friend let me catch up with good friends from Des Moines, such as the Dahlquists and Hemmingers.

Geez. As you said, Reid, ‘breaking it down’ was really more like ‘broken down.’ No way your old man has dance moves. No wonder the more senior crowd got off the dance floor and left it to the young set. That’s how it should be. It was great to see Afton there, too, and you guys were a good addition to the final attendance. I should send Bob a small check to offset the damages in additional wine consumption. What is known is a few of us really went after the G&Ts. I sure felt groggy Sunday morning. The lesson is you can’t mix wine, beer and gin.

The intern from Caldwell Presbyterian arrives here next Friday and will stay for a few days, even while I’m gone to the Bridger. That will give her some privacy and she can come and go as she pleases. I hope to get John and his wife over for a dinner sometime while she’s here. It may be that it will be delayed until August when I’m back from the mountains. We’ll see. As for the Airbnb part of things, the first caller went elsewhere, and I had to turn another inquiry away just today since the intern will already have the spare room. That’s too bad. At least there are some inquiries being made. It must mean the room is priced appropriately even if I think it’s a bit on the low side.

There were plans for a big BBQ party here next Sunday but I’m put those on hold until August while I zoom around trying to get ready for the big trip West. Reid, I hope to leave super early Monday morning and zip into Chicago in the late afternoon per usual. It appears I’ll stay with Tom for the night since we plan to get on the road very, very early and drive as far west as we can, maybe even to Laramie although thats a far poke. That would make for a short second day into Jackson. We need to pick up Vince in the early afternoon. Can’t wait to hit the road for the whole shebang. It’s what living is for.

Love, Dad


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Yeah, man: Keep on keeping on …

Those in my age range might have to sift through cannibis influenced memories to recall an old 1960s poster that showed some hippie striding along with the cheery admonition to Keep on keeping on.

Yeah, brother, that’s the best we can do. Keep on keeping on. Ellen and Reid counsel me to do that same thing but they use today’s lingo.


September 21, 2015

Ellen/Reid: The face is back to it’s old self – emphasis on old – and the swelling is down to nothing. With luck I can jettison bandages for good sometime in the next couple of days. The scar isn’t going to be very pronounced. Got a good post surgery report on Friday at the surgeon’s office so I’m off and running (and covered in sunscreen).

Finally have two offers on the Harley – sort of. One guy wanted to do an even swap out for his front end loader. Now what in the hell would I do with a front end loader? The other guy put down a $500 deposit and will try to scrape up the rest in short order. Not holding my breath, but at least he didn’t offer a piece of construction equipment. If Craigs List doesn’t work I’ll opt for Plan B, which might be eBay. I might plug something into the Charlotte Observer, too.

Ellen, there is a lot of upheaval at Caldwell. John has been unmercifully pummeled by folks who don’t have the full set of facts on the dismissal of an associate pastor. For some reason a gigantic accusatory email went out by one of the dissatisfied folks. It was filled with utterly groundless assertions so I, in completely uncharacteristic mode, opened up with both barrels in response to the full nearly 100 name email list. I was so hot. John has worked his ass off to build the right sort of church, welcomed blacks and gays, built a seven-day-a-week homeless shelter for 50 black women, started a Latino preschool and most recently, stood silently and by himself, in front of loud and mean-spirited anti-gay protesters on our sidewalk as his way of shielding his Sunday flock. And that’s the best he gets: vitriol which is totally baseless. He called Friday to say he was going to step away as part of a six week sabbatical. I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t come back. He’s such a good man. I’m shelving the church newsletter until this all gets sorted out. I’m rapidly loosing what enthusiasm I have left for it.

In somewhat good news, the bank is insistent that I take all my vacation days this year. You literally have to be off the clock for every one of those days “per standard procedure.” There are roughly two full weeks left to be taken so therefore will have a mishmash of mid week days off plus a couple of three day weekends.

It's been months since the Miss Emma has seen the water. That's about to change.

It’s been months since the Miss Emma has seen the water. That’s about to change.

Looks like I’ll use a few of those days to lug the kayak down to Charleston for the day. I asked to cede some of my days to those with young families or who are all out of days but was told bluntly that such largesse was not allowable. Not even a ‘thank you’ for the offer. I didn’t know a business could spend so much time and mental juice on something as benign as vacation.

My Central Piedmont Community College class on writing got scrubbed since it fell a few students shy of the required number. That’s okay and frees up my Monday nights for the next six weeks. There is a letter writing class coming up in October and hopefully there will be a few more students signing up since that is the course I really look forward to teaching.

Alright, old scarface will sign out for today. Be good, kiss the girls, say hi to Liz, and keep on keeping on.

Love, Dad

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Part of turning the page …

There is the old routine, then there is the new. Part of that may be parting ways with a long-time fixture in my life. It’s part of turning the page.


August 31, 2015

Ellen/Reid: I weighed sending this or not since we’d be together about the time this landed in your mailboxes and finally opted for sending if nothing else than to keep the streak alive.

There are zero, as in -0-, students signed up for my fall letter writing class at Central Piedmont Community College. I’ve got to come up with some way to promote the class since I was really excited about it. People have a tendency to sign up at the last minute so we’ll see if there are any late adopters/arrivees. If there’s three or four who enroll, that will be plenty to go on.

We’ll just have to wait a couple of more weeks.

Hit a jazz club and another music venue this weekend as I try to shake up the old routine of doing nothing on most weekend nights. Diane has something to do with that as she gently guides me, but not kicking and screaming, out of my comfort zone which has almost been completely golf. It feels good to get out and about for a change. The jazz was fabulous. It was at a place called The House That Rocks (basically a music school that goes jazz by night) and hosted by a guy named Tyris who is an incredible keyboard person.

If you're gonna get your groove on with live jazz, who better to do it with than the crew of Jane, Diane, Lynn and Mimi.

If you’re gonna get your groove on with live jazz, who better to do it with than the crew of Jane, Diane, Lynn and Mimi.

I baked some French loaves and brought a couple of bottles of red wine for our table of five to share. That was a good way to do things. Reid, I don’t think Charlotte can hang with Chicago when it comes to jazz/blues places, but this is about as good as I’ve seen down in these parts. We’ll do that again later in September. I’m scheduling a lot more weekend social stuff for my golf group, in part because I want to get out and my horizons on non-golf fronts are in great need of expansion.

I talked to Dave last week and he’s about to shove off for Pompano Beach for the winter. He issued something of an open invitation to come down, and I may just take him up on the offer. There’s a lot of fishing to be had down there and since we haven’t caught much of anything there’s a lot of potential that remains untapped. It’s nice of him to make the gesture. It’s only about a 10 hour drive down there. To look at the map makes it seem like 24 hours but it goes by pretty quickly.

There is more momentum to selling the bike. I like it but am just not riding it very much (a paltry Continue reading

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No dusty roads this time around, said the chief sinner …

Reid and his old man are getting cranked up to head back out West again, and still fresh in both our memories (at least in mine) is a long night of fitful sleep in his Saturn along a dusty road under a bright, moonlit sky outside Pinedale, Wyoming. That was the best we could do when we couldn’t find a room for the night in this little berg on the western slope of the Wind Rivers. We don’t want to go through that again next week. Maybe the young can tolerate sleeping on a reclined car seat, but not us oldsters.


July 5, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Reid, I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk on your 30th birthday. From the sound of it, Liz had a party for you and that must’ve been a lot of fun. If there are any pics, send ‘em. You only turn 30 once and those are the fateful ones, the b-days that end with a zero.

Hey man, in a couple weeks time we’ll be in the high country. Watch for a series of calls to make sure we’ve got the menu and the gear buttoned up. Remind me to get new filters for the pumps, and stakes for the two person tent. That would be a helluva thing for you to be making the circuit of the Cirque only to discover there would be no way to keep your tent upright. We can probably wait until Pinedale to buy flies. We need to attach some new tippet/leader to whichever fly line we’ll use since we don’t want a line failure at a critical moment, especially when dinner is on the hook. Katy, Tom and I had breakfast on Saturday to go over last minute items. We also secured a big Tahoe as transportation. Katy will pick it up on that Wednesday and she’ll ferry us from the airport to Jackson. We drive on down to Pinedale to the Baymont Inn. It’s one of those spots you and I couldn’t get into all those years ago. No way I want to sleep on a dusty road again.

The 4th of July party in the garage for my golf group went over really well. If nothing else, it forced me to tidy things up for once. People had a great time and we reveled well into the night. The cowboy caviar you guys all like was a hit and the grill saw some overtime use. At the 11th hour I thought I’d better check to see if there was enough propane, and good thing. The tank was nearly empty. Wouldn’t that have been great to run out in mid-broil. We had enough food to feed a small army, and what wasn’t eaten is sitting in the fridge, even after making to-go plates for everyone to take home.

My Golf for One group are all pretty sticks, but they know how to get down, too.

My Golf for One group are all pretty good sticks, but they know how to get down, too.

The best part was blowing off a package of cheap fireworks and sparklers. A friend of mine, Paul, served as chief arsonist, and it was hilarious to watch him try to get fuses started. I re-made acquaintance with gin and tonics but no one was watching out for my best interests by shutting me off. Really, it wasn’t too bad but it was a fun night. By 1 a.m. I had everything cleaned up and ended the night sitting in the garage (Ellen, you’d be proud of me for stringing some decorative lights for low level ambiance) with a final beer while listening to Michael Burks play the blues. A good way to end the evening.

There’s been some upheaval at Caldwell. Our Session voted to end the contract of an associate pastor, and it set off some fire alarms. Ellen, you know John, and he’s been attacked unmercifully and, in my view, incredibly unfairly. He’s a good man and a great steward. I sent him a letter yesterday offering up my views of the situation and lending him my unconditional support for encouraging an environment that would draw in even the most heathen-like among us,

There's been a little upheaval in my small church, but we shall overcome.

There’s been a little upheaval in my small church, but we shall overcome.

including me. It’s become a race Continue reading

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Ready to go under the knife …

Things are done and looking optimistic and hopeful. By this time next week all the reports will be back in. Fingers crossed.


January 26, 2015

Ellen/Reid: I thought about waiting to write this tomorrow afternoon once the results of the surgery were known, but why break with tradition if there’s a few free moments this morning? Of course, you’ll know how things went long before this note arrives. Your uncle called last night but I was already zonked out. He’ll get return a call this morning. Things are increasingly positive, at least attitudinally, on this end, and that’s a good thing. The surgeon’s office called twice this week, once to make sure the financial details were buttoned up and the second was to apprise me of what to expect once in the office. Pam Kenyon called last week (she’s survived breast cancer for 11 years now) and it was so good to hear from her. Bob Furstenau has been in touch almost daily. They are good friends, as are the folks in my golf group who’ve been non-stop in their support.

I have started to buy sun gear for golf and general outdoor activity. According to what I read, clothing is a better sun protector than sunscreen so the commitment here is to pants and long sleeve shirts. I did buy a few sets of Nike Dri Fit sun sleeves. You pull them up your arms. There’s elastic on both ends to keep the thing snug and in place. Interesting that there was no knowledge of the existence of these until the diagnosis. Reid, let Liz know Coolibar is also getting some of my business and their gear is to arrive this week.

The surgery wasn't like going to the electric chair. In fact, the surgeon and I had a running conversation for the entire 45 minutes of the excision.

The surgery wasn’t like being strapped to an electric chair. In fact, the surgeon and I had a running conversation the entire 45 minutes of the excision. More on that next week.

Thanks for the short review of American Sniper, Ellen. Ever since Saving Private Ryan, I’ve steered clear of a lot of violent war stuff. Not sure why that is since I enjoy good movie making. Perhaps that’s a testament to the realism of the movie maker. The theatre is a scant 200 yards from here so maybe there will be a trip up there.

My weekend was mostly golf. Got out twice because there’s no way to be sure how long I’ll be on the shelf. It will be missed but that’s really pretty much okay by me. It was good to get a couple of rounds in with friends although the courses were soggy and muddy from recent rains. Dormant Bermuda is just awful to play on.

Got the Caldwell Presbyterian newsletter done in the nick of time. Why it is there is an increasing delay to get the thing done with mere hours to spare is beyond me. The last minute rush creates for mistakes that shouldn’t be made. John seems to like it, though, and that’s the measuring stick. Reid, you’ve never seen it although you can go online to caldwellpresby.org to sneak a peek. Ellen, your copy will be in the mail this week and not overly delayed like the December issue. FYI … John’s mom is slipping and he’s been making the trek to Atlanta at least weekly to be with her.

Looks like Tom and I have a couple more people on the hook for this July’s trek to the Bridger Wilderness. We’ll go to the South end again up towards the Cirque of the Towers. Reid, if you and Liz can make it, that would be wonderful but don’t feel obligated. Since my retirement is delayed until February of 2016, there will be no leisurely drive up there with stops along the way to see you two and the grandkids. We’ll do the usual and fly to Jackson and rent an SUV from there. The real dates are July 24 – August 1.

If the arm is capable of hefting the kayak, the next fishing excursion will be down to Charleston over the President’s Day weekend. I might entice my friend Jody to go with me, and not because he can help me lift the darn thing. His mother just passed away last week and it would be good for him to fish waters where he has caught sizable fish. There are sardine’s frozen in the freezer that we’ll use for bait. Reid, I’ll buy some finger mullet just like Ryan was using when he caught all those reds. We’ll take some shrimp along for good measure.

Okay, sports, I’m out of here. Watch for a call and/or Facetime this week.

Love, Dad

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‘Oh, I’ll just add a little more of this or that.’ Wrong …

Only as Thanksgiving neared did I start to sweat the small stuff about the meal. Ellen and Reid have eaten their share of T-Day ‘mistakes’ but that’s why you prep the guests with wine – and plenty of it.


November 24, 2014

Ellen/Reid: We endured the dreariest of days yesterday. It rained all day and it was very much on the cool side. My early-early morning walk was on the damp side but that’s why they make rain coats. You only have to look at the streams to tell the color of what we call soil; red clay. When it rains here it doesn’t fool around. The water comes down.

Managed to eke out another copy of the Caldwell newsletter at the 11th hour. Ellen, John’s mother is not doing very well so he’s shuttling back and forth from CLT to her home in Atlanta. I’m not entirely sure what the situation is.

The reality is settling in that I’m about to cook for a bunch of people on Thanksgiving. It’s different than fixing dinner for you guys since you’ll eat anything but these are my impressionable friends. They’ve never had to eat my cooking. All are folks who would otherwise be by themselves. All the makings of the meal are in hand and I’ll probably start to get to it tomorrow.

The Thanksgiving table was set with more than a little help from my friend Paula. My contribution was snipping holly just outside the back door.

The Thanksgiving table was set with more than a little help from my friend Paula. My contribution was snipping holly just outside the back door.

A pretty straightforward affair; turkey, mashed ‘taters and pan gravy, some fresh bread and I’ll yet again try another round of pumpkin pie. My pledge is to follow the instructions this time. The temptation is to always say ‘Oh, I’ll just add a little more of this or that.’ Wrong. The bird goes down for the count about 11-ish while some of my buddies play golf. We’ll eat about 5 or so while there’s still football to be seen. Alice will bring some cranberries while the others will uncork some wine. It will be good to have some people around the old house for a change.

We’ve had another reshuffling at work. I’ve transitioned to another group and am somewhat unsure how I’ll fit in. Most of the new folks are in California so I’m pretty much the sole East coast presence. Given that the meter is running on my time at the bank, that’s okay. Most of what I do is to be folded into what others are doing. I’ll go along with things and try to not rock the boat too much.

Speaking of retirement, Dave Hemminger has roped me into a sailfish-kayak tournament in Pompano, Florida in mid-January. It’s $150 to get in but you get a free tee shirt and drinks. Never in my wildest imagination, and I’ve got one, have I dreamt of fishing for sailfish from a kayak. It’s been tough enough to catch small fry let alone a snouted monster. I have absolutely no idea about lures, how far you go out, what sort of rods/tackle to have, etc., let alone what you’re supposed to do if you catch one of the things. Dave said there was one story of a guy who hooked one and was dragged for miles by the fighting fish.

No need for the gaff on this little guy. If there was a smallest fish contest from this past Saturday, this catch would've won hands down. But it was far from my first - or largest fish. More on that next week.

No need for the gaff on this little guy. If there was a smallest fish contest from this past Saturday, this catch would’ve won hands down. But it was far from my first – or largest fish. More on that next week.

I’ve never kayaked on the open ocean before. Dave said he won’t fish but will paddle along. My $150 is largely a donation to the prize pool. But it does sound adventurous. It’ll be a fun way to kick off my golden years.

Betsy and Bob just moved this weekend to a new rental house while they look for more permanent lodging. Their place sold in a flash. I need to get off the snide and do the same thing. One floor would be fabulous.

Ellen, I unboxed the Chromecast last night – it only took a year to unwrap it – fully intent to set it up but got cold feet at the last moment since I’m not sure if it will interfere with my AT&T Uverse system. Probably not but I’m just not sure. People rave about Netflix and stuff. I rarely watch HBO and the other premium channels. It’s high time to let Uverse go. I think all I really need is an Internet provider. TV isn’t doing much for me these days other than wasting time.

Okay, time to rock and roll. thanks for the Christmas list, Ellen. I’ll be on that this week. Reid, let me know about the winter coat you sound so much in need of.

Love, Dad

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Cork the whine…

Although I’m not sure I fit the description of a serial whiner (friends on the golf course may disagree) I have my moments.

A couple of those were chronicled in last week’s letter to the kids.


September 15, 2014

Ellen/Reid: I think I’ve finally figured out that, at a basal level, I’m just not real good at fishing. Something isn’t resonating for me. Either the fish aren’t biting or I don’t know how to do it. The suspicion here is that it is the latter. This weekend at Charleston, or, more precisely, Mt. Pleasant, the  habitat was as good as could be found. Deep grasses, plenty of water flow, etc.

This is my kind of beautiful morning near Charleston: hit the water early and see what's biting.

This is my kind of beautiful morning near Charleston: hit the water early and see what’s biting.

Exactly the place you’d expect to get sore arms from the reeling in of pounds and pounds of fish, but no. One speckled trout – and it hammered my plastic Gulp seconds before I was about to pull the lure out of the water so that was sheer luck. But in my defense it was 15” which was over the legal limit.

This handsome speckled trout represents the second leg of the Big Three of fish I aim to catch - flounder, speckled trout and redfish.

This handsome speckled trout represents the second leg of the Big Three of fish I aim to catch – flounder, speckled trout and redfish.

No other real bites. It has to be the fisherman rather than the fish, although a friend of mine said the redfish are either on or they’re off – there’s no in between. I think I am in between the off and the very off. I don’t know. Maybe it’s time for the guide I keep yammering about. I was texting with Tim during the lull while I sat moping in the Ocean Kayak – all my fishing seems to be a protracted lull – and he said I’d learn more from a guide Continue reading

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