Tag Archives: Charleston South Carolina

Golf guests, tiny birds and wonderment (bewilderment?) about Mr. Orange Face …


My experience as an Airbnb host is beginning to level out. With the funnier-by-the-minute tryst in the rearview mirror, Ellen and Reid are learning the dos and don’ts of opening your home to others. They won’t be following suit anytime soon.

I continue to opine/lament about the regime in Washington; it’s just a dire situation. But I’m in no position to be a politician. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wouldn’t want to be an elected official in a nation that would put me in office.


August 14, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Well, the long week has past and I can finally catch a deep breath. The Airbnb couple was just fine as were my friends Christie and Doug. I sacked on the first floor couch (not an unusual napping spot for me) and things worked out in good fashion.

They were all in for the PGA Championship which, after visiting it on Thursday morning, it confirmed for me that golf is perhaps better seen on TV than in person. Sure, when you’re there you can feel the vibe and energy but after a while you wonder how in the hell you’re going to navigate to another suitable viewing spot among the hordes of golf watchers who are largely headed in the same direction you are. The enjoyment of the tournament is all about location, location, location – as in where you get to see most of the action.

The party Friday night was good but I was AWOL from a lot of it, flitting from guest to guest and totally neglecting my job as a host. Sondra and Christe did a lot of the restocking of food and they also shouldered most of the clean up in my unexcused absence. The smoked shoulder was somewhat disappointing. It graded to a C+ at most. Not quite as pulls-apart-in-your-hands tender as previous efforts. I just couldn’t keep the smoker in ‘the zone’ even though the shoulders went on at 4 a.m. The temperature just never reached optimum smoking conditions. The result was fine enough but just not as good as had been done before. Sondra and Jody helped to set up in the garage since there was imminent threat of rain and although the downpour held off we never did leave the garage. Man, did we go through the wine. But a brewery’s worth of beer was left behind. And there’s also enough left overs to feed a small Army.

The hummingbirds have been waging aerial wars for a space at the feeder.

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Hummingbirds have made a beeline to the feeder. Their aerial combat for position at the trough of sugar water has been fun to witness.

My friend Sherry counseled me on a red dye-free sugar mix and that has the little flyers zooming to the trough in tiny waves. Their display of combat has been fun to watch although I’m not sure of the damage one hummingbird could inflict on another.

Got the itch to make a foray to Charleston after being away far too long and will load Miss Emma atop the Camry in a couple of hours. Really, really excited to get back down there after a couple of months. There aren’t any lofty expectations for a stringer of reds or ‘specks’ but anything will be better than nothing.

It’ll give me some time away from the news headlines. I’m just so disappointed/disgusted in Trump after the weekend white-instigated violence in Charlottesville. How can he not single out, and condemn, Nazis and white supremacists (the same thugs who conjointly wave the U.S. flag alongside swastikas and the Confederate flag. Great. Two entities that tried to defeat America)? He is just a complete and utter moron. An idiot of the first order. It’s a shame and a shock that I would be a better president. He’s just not a leader, not a sane person, not civil, not reasoned, not diplomatic, not much of nuthin’. And his poll numbers (fake news!) are dropping to near-historic lows. Of course, Mr. Orange Pouty Face probably thinks ‘strength’ and the nerve to make unpopular stances are the signs of leadership. And his bluster on the pimple on a gnat’s ass, North Korea, is just flat-out foolhardy and dangerous. And to think he’s got his little, fidgety hands on the nuclear triggers. We need an old fashioned coup d’etat or military junta. Republicans have got to, at least privately, wonder what the hell is going on. As the mid-terms get closer and Agent Orange keeps this up, a nervous GOP is gonna have to figure out a way to regroup without him. That his base sticks with him doesn’t say much for the American electorate. They’re getting what they deserved – a jerk on yet another golf vacation – or make that a ‘working vacation’ as he calls it. Let’s hope he works himself right out of a job. C’mon Mueller.

Love, Dad

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Time heals all and a reunion …


This is my 10th year in North Carolina. I exited Des Moines on a Monday morning with all my possessions stuffed into my car and arrived in Charlotte on a Tuesday night in a rainstorm worthy of a Hollywood back lot.

One of the elephants in the room, or at least my room, is the decade that has passed since a chain of events dispersed the four of us to different parts of the nation; California, Illinois, Minnesota and North Carolina.

Time heals all. Thus a trial balloon has been floated about the possibility for the four of us to reunite, to talk of our separate yet shared pasts and to assure each other that things are indeed okay.


April 4, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Ellen, my head is still spinning from that hilarious FaceTime last night. I mean, the camera was never still for one moment. It was like the family version of the Blair Witch Project. The girls are just an absolute riot. Emma is, well, Emma and Georgia is just coming into her own little personality. Poor Tim was getting climbed by those two munchkins as if he were a mountain. But that’s what makes you guys special.

Reid, it was great to talk this weekend. Really, find out from DePaul when the graduation ceremony is. I want to be there and it would be good for you to walk across the stage (do they even do that anymore?). It would just be a good excuse to get up Chicago way. For the both of you, we need to push the family reunion envelope. Your mom and I haven’t done anything beyond thinking it would be a good idea for us to get together. Zero other thought has gone into it, but I would propose Santa Fe sometime in the fall. We’ve been there before and know the town well. You could bring Liz and Tim and the girls, and your mom could bring her new hubby. No sense cutting corners. It would be cathartic for everyone, at least in my estimation. What do you guys think of that at first blush?

This newspaper thing at the Mint Hill Times is gathering a head of steam. I’ve already done a handful of stories, including one that involved the local town council. The word is this morning they are prepping the proposal for me as editor and it may be delivered as early as today. One of the things I have to wrap my head around is the editorial process; freelancers are already knocking on the door and I have to have the process down in lock-step sooner than later. There is still no clue about the hourly commitment but the assumption is it will be more rather than fewer. Alas, what it may do is squelch the idea of a Wyoming jaunt Continue reading

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All the news that’s fit to print …


News – the creation of it or my reaction to it – seems to be a common thread in last week’s letter to Ellen and Reid.

I like the very notion of being involved in news. It’s fun, challenging, is a creative outlet of sorts and, given my father’s fondness for it (including the Omaha Sun Newspapers), there is some history of family involvement in the newspaper business. I’m glad this apple didn’t fall too far from my father’s tree.


March 28, 2016

Ellen/Reid: For some reason I was moping here on the couch last week when out of the blue comes this opportunity to be the editor of a small town paper. Talk about going from the very low to the very high. The very thought of it is just so energizing and it has the potential to turn my retirement plans – such as they were – 180 degrees. The Mint Hill Times is undergoing a re-birth since its acquisition by some folks who have publishing experience but no real newspaper experience in the news sense. That’s what I can bring to the table. I just love the idea of being a news guy again. It would rip a page out of your late grandfather’s career when one of his first news jobs after World War II was to work for the Sundance Times and Crook County News up in Wyoming. My initial meeting was Friday with one of the co-owners, a woman who was the first to hear my ‘this is how news ought to work …’ diatribe. As we wrapped up our lunch at The Hill, a local bar in Mint Hill, I got up from the table and walked outside to a street corner to cover, and file, my first story for the paper, a Good Friday gathering of several hundred worshippers. She set up a Saturday morning meeting with her husband and the other owners over coffee at a local McDonalds to talk about editorial philosophy. It went fine.

What’s up in the air is how much time I can devote to this endeavor; although we talked only about part time work, by necessity it would really be full time at first and who-knows-what later. Most small papers like The Times are highly dependent on advertising to make things click and they are just getting up to speed. A lot of the news would be soft features. No real hard news to speak of but mostly goings on in town. That’s the nature of the beast. They have a group of six free lancers, not counting my students, that whoever ends up being the editor would have to ride herd over. News organization is a big deal for them since they have no real process in place. I owe them an outline of how I’d run the virtual  ‘newsroom’ since they have no physical office as of yet. We’ll continue to work through things this week. But if nothing else I’ll be a writer and that’s fine, too. My students aren’t stepping up quite like I expected them to but I’ll goad them over that hurdle.

My plans this week were to head to Charleston tomorrow for another day trip of fishing but that’s on hold now in view of the newspaper discussion.

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Miss Emma and I may have missed a saltwater excursion last week, but we’ll make up for it this Wednesday, April 6 when we traipse to Bowens Island for a day of angling for reds and specks.

About 20 folks from my golf Meetup group will head to a funky concert venue, The Fillmore, this Friday night for a tribute show to the Eagles. The place will be absolutely jam packed and I’ve snagged about 30 free tickets. What the place gives up in terms of ticket prices they make up for in $10 Continue reading

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A testimony to the inherently boring …


The bar is set pretty low in terms of the interest quotient for letters. Anyone who tells you otherwise is smoking something illegal in most states except Colorado and Washington.

For the most part a letter is inherently boring, perhaps even to Ellen and Reid (and most certainly to you). The long-held conviction here stands that what is written week-in-and-week-out is largely a reflection of grandeur-less daily life. A hodgepodge of bland and vanilla normalcy if you will. The value of a letter is to paint a larger picture of routine events over time. That’s the most I can expect the kids get out of it.

Yeah, it might be snippets and snapshots about fishing failures or riding my bike or trying to be an artist or attempts to teach or anything else. It doesn’t amount to much of real interest. It just makes it another morning in another week in another year of staying in touch.


March 14, 2016

Ellen/Reid: The romaine/arugula seeds are in the ground – if you can call container gardening ‘ground’ – but we’ll have to settle for what dirt we have.

Most of the furniture – the loveseat and one chair – arrives tomorrow with the tables two weeks from now. Wish it would all be here at once. The furnishings will fill a considerable, and embarrassing, void on the first floor. Maybe the room will see some real use for the first time in 10 years.

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New furniture is a start in a seldom used room. But one look at the decor-less walls and shelves show a lot more design TLC is needed in a hurry.

Hard to believe I’ve never sat in the room. It’s almost a three season room since it’s so cold down there in the winter. Heat rises from the first floor to the third. I woke up this morning with a paint scheme for the hoped-for art on the wall.

My 90 day dating site experiment mercifully ends tomorrow. It’s been a complete bust for the most part. I’ve met some nice women but I think the issue lies with me rather than them. In the final analysis I’m just not ready to settle down. That’s a hard thing to admit to. What I do know is it’s hard to hope all the time but you can’t force things. That I golf with my group has been a deal-killer for some who see it as selfish on Saturdays, and maybe they have a valid point. But for the most part golf is my social structure, save some friends from Caldwell, and I’m nowhere ready to give up on trying to be physical or athletic.

Ellen, I’ll ship All the Light We Cannot See to you later this week along with some coffee beans (you’ll get five bags of French roast beans, too, Reid). The book is good and you’ll zip through it in no time. Glad Tim likes the hiking pants. Arc’teryx really makes some good stuff. I’ve not come across anything better. Reid, I’ll walk six miles to the bike store later this week to buy the new three speed, plus the helmet you insist on, and ride it back home.

Bought a lowering kit for the Road King. It works by impacting the rear shocks (and) should take the back end down about two inches. It’ll make me feel better to have a little more knee bend and thus more control by lowering the center of gravity. I don’t know why Harley made the bike so damn tall. The plan is to still ride later this spring to Chicago and St. Paul and then points West.

My Central Piedmont Community College class is over. My students and I wrapped things up over a few beers and fish tacos – and a lecture – at a local cantina. They really were a good crew. Part of our swan song was Continue reading

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To quit or not to quit? ‘Dad, get over it’ …


I’ve probably plunked down a smooth 4 G’s for the privilege to flail the water with lures and baits at disinterested fish.

In the expense column are Miss Emma, rods, rubber waders, a Yakima rack system, a tackle box jammed to the gills with untold hooks-weights-lures, a GoPro, dry bags, top dollar coolers, et al.

Better make that 5 big ones. The cost of fish per pound? Gold is cheaper.

Surely Ellen and Reid roll their eyes when their old man is in the dumps. As is her custom, Ellen isn’t afraid to tell her dad to ‘get over it.’

Good point.


February 23, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Reid, I really appreciated your “Don’t quit!” response to my self-pity text about my latest fishing failure near Charleston. You need to come down here so we can validate our abilities. It was just so deflating to get up at 0-dark thirty, jet out of the house at 3:45 a.m. and drive 225 miles at breakneck pace to release one little speckled trout. I went to a new place on the Wando River on the Mt. Pleasant side of Charleston and once there, at the highest of the high tide, I wondered aloud ‘How the hell am I going to fish this?’

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Miss Emma surveys the scene along the expansive Wando River. We met our match and paddled back empty handed. But really, as the carnival barker might yell, “You pays your money and you takes your chances.” Hell yes. Emma and I ought to heed Reid’s sage advice: “Get back out there.” And we will – next week.

There were no visible creeks, just an endless expanse of grass alongside wide, wide water. The prevailing thinking holds that the reds venture into the grass at high tide to feed on small crabs so I paddled in, but saw no fish tailing, no disturbances to tip off their positions, no nothing. We retreated to the more familiar structure of some docks where the one little speck took a plastic bait. The prevailing thinking also says speckled trout mass together, and where you find one, you’ll find more. But nothing else came to the surface. There were three rods on Miss Emma and I alternated from a popping cork and fake shrimp to cut mullet on a Carolina rig with the final rod rigged with a lightweight copper colored something-or-other. A couple of strikes and that was it. I tucked my tail and headed back to the ramp a few hours earlier than might have been otherwise. What was really debilitating was a small flat boat of young guys seen and heard just a creek or so away from us reached the ramp the same time as we did. They had boated multiple reds on virtually the same bait I’d been flinging around and about. I do think it’s the fisherman rather than the fish. But damn it, Continue reading

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No rest for the weary, but who’s keeping track? …


‘No rest for the weary’ goes the saying. I do my part by burning the candle at both ends. Ellen and Reid know this; if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Travel, teaching, fishing, walking, golf. The order of importance isn’t important. Rather, it’s all in the doing.

It’s worth noting a few passages were snipped from this letter. Those are for the kid’s eyes only. You’ll find out about the tangents soon enough.


February 15, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Let the period of rest commence. I feel beat to a pulp but it was all worthwhile in all respects. It’s a lot to pack into a few days. More on that later to both of you.

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If I can travel and keep seeing sights like this, I will. Looks like a lengthy trek around the Alps in Europe is in the offing. More on that next week.

What a drag to return to cold. It is a major bummer. Went to the store last night once I landed in town and the shelves were predictably barren since there’s supposed to be a storm blowing through the Piedmont. Charlotte, however, just goes ape at the mere suggestion of inclement weather; schools are closed today yet so far nary a flake has been seen let alone piling up. As far as can be determined, we drive the same cars on the same tires as you guys have in Illinois and Minnesota. We’re just a bunch of weather softies. Yeah, I know we’re short on the number of snowplows, but for crying out loud the streets have been brined. An inch of snow or two for you guys wouldn’t even be a good start to a storm, let alone all this weather gibberish about shutting down the town. All this talk of ‘black ice’ just drives me nuts. It’s nothing you haven’t seen for years and years in the form of hard-packed snow. I mean, really?

AT&T Uverse is gone. Cut. Goodbye. Now comes the ordeal of trying to replace it with Netflix or some other service when there is something to watch. So far I haven’t missed it one bit. I’m not sure what I’ve done with my time but what I do know is it hasn’t been spent ogling the tube. That’s for the better, I think. You guys are going to have to advise me on how to hook up/use those other services. Don’t be shy since I’m relatively (make that totally) clueless as to how all this Internet/streaming thing works. For the most part, my entertainment hours are spent dialing up Pandora or listening to my iTunes playlist.

I am, however, ready to go fishing in Charleston again. The new GoPro audio-friendly camera back just arrived and will give it Continue reading

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Retirement starts to stick and a ‘no’ to Charleston …


Not that they ask, but Ellen and Reid get dripped on routinely about this thing called retirement.

One of my post-retirement options that only they knew about, until now, was a long-considered move to Charleston. The saltwater marshes and arts and food really were a draw. But the perceived romanticism of the town aside, it is a traffic and overcrowding nightmare. No chance I’ll move there. That’s why they sell non-resident saltwater fishing licenses.


January 18, 2016

Ellen/Reid: This retirement thing might be starting to stick. Each day I sleep a little longer, get up a little later. Such as this morning: rise and shine at 7 a.m. That’s roughly two hours later than the norm. Maybe there was a smidgen of work hangover lurking somewhere in my consciousness that urged me to ‘wake up, wake up.’ But that apparently is beginning to ebb.

There’s not going to be any surgery right now. The doctor said he’s lived with the same thing for a few years, and that if minor pain/discomfort isn’t too bad, he advised I just suck it up and live through it. I agreed with him. But he didn’t hesitate to say if things took a wrong turn to give him a call and he’d refer me to a specialist. It’s not terribly painful but it’s goofed up my floor exercise regimen. I’m limited to what I can do in that regard. There were some issues lifting Miss Emma atop the car this past week but if toting a kayak is all I have to worry about, fine.

Speaking of Charleston, I’m pretty much nixing that from the list of possible moves. Every time I’m down there, the traffic is just awful. Hideous. It really is. It’s an area that’s just growing so fast. It’s attracted a lot of new businesses and with those businesses come people. At 6:30 a.m. last Thursday, I-26 into town was wall-to-wall stalled traffic for roughly 7 – 8 miles. Same when I hit the road after 5:30 – another 5 – 6 miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic at a crawl. A snail’s pace would have been faster. I love the area and the water, but my gosh, the congestion stinks.

Ellen, you’re right about staging the main room before the sale. Continue reading

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