Tag Archives: Charlotte Observer

And a time to every purpose, under heaven …

It took Pete Seeger and The Byrds to put a few verses from Ecclesiastes into perspective for many of us:

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

So it would seem for the contents of last week’s letter.

April 24, 2017

Ellen/Reid: By the time you open this, Ellen, surgery on your arm will be done and you’ll be all sewed up, good as new. Good for the dermatologist to catch it in the apparent early stages. There’s nothing wrong with check ups every three months. I’m still on that quarterly regimen, too, as is your mother and your uncle. Reid, I know Tim hit you hard about a skin check up but really, get in since this insidious beast can lurk around almost unseen. Almost the entire family has had melanoma. So please, get checked.

It rained all day yesterday around here and still is this morning. I didn’t realize how much of a downpour we had until I brought up the digital Charlotte Observer. Apparently some neighborhoods were badly flooded and are still out of power. The little creek behind the house is bank full. I guess it’s good for the reservoirs but it washes all the litter into them.

It’s a relief in a lot of ways that the Road King is nearly gone. I’m quite fine with it. It was just time. Not my favorite of all the Harleys I’ve had and maybe if it was the old Heritage Softail then there might still be a bike in the garage. But there’s not and that is just great. The guy who bought it was excited and he picks it up sometime in the next couple of days if the rain stops.


The Road King needed a new owner who could put the bike through its deserved paces. And it got one in a great young guy named Matt.

We didn’t haggle much on the price, and I threw in lots of misc. gear like a cover and tour pack and a jacket and cleaning supplies and a helmet and some Harley tees just to be rid of stuff. I’ll use some of the proceeds to recover the kitchen cabinets, maybe re-carpet the place and buy tickets to see you goons. Whatever is left will go to my trek in Spain this fall. I’ve started to go to weekly coffees about how to plan for the Camino de Santiago. Since I’m not the planner extraordinaire, even a few tips will get me down the road.

Ellen, I’m close to a ticket for your graduation. Are you absolutely sure you’re okay with me visiting since you guys will need to be in a motel? You may not need me as a fifth wheel so help me make the call. Why aren’t they having the graduation there on campus? Wouldn’t that be the Continue reading


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Miss Emma heads to Florida but she won’t go to Liverpool …

By now you’re tiring of all my retirement blather. Alas, Ellen and Reid get the full dose of it so you’ll have to endure the same narrative they read in the weekly letters.

Such as when you take a look at a lot of retiree bucket lists. Travel seems at or near the top of a lot of wish lists but globehopping is not so much for me. Still, there’s a little bit of domestic / foreign travel in the foreseeable future.

As you might surmise, the events in France last week have complicated the decision somewhat. As of now I’ll plow ahead with the planning but my kids know I’ll keep an eye on developments. There is a silver lining to staying put; if I don’t go over there it gives Miss Emma and I more time to spend over here.


November 9, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Trying to wean myself of the work time/old habits. Still waking up about 5:00 a.m. but am trying to force the issue with mixed results about nodding back to sleep. I guess you have to start somewhere. I used to turn on the office lamps before I clomped downstairs to start the coffee. That habit has now gone by the wayside. I find myself sitting at the breakfast table while it’s dark outside trying to figure out what to do on that given day. The Charlotte Observer got a check from me for $446 last week to keep my subscription alive to the physical newspaper for the next year. That’s one thing that won’t be going away anytime soon. It wouldn’t hurt either of you to start a subscription to the Chicago Tribune or the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and not of the online variety. Your grandfather would be smiling at the thought of you guys reading a real newspaper.

Dave H. called this morning to invite me down to Ft. Lauderdale to spend the first week of December at his place. Actually, I get the run of the house to myself while he’s out of town for the bulk of the week. That’s awfully nice of him. The thought is to fly down but the kayak has made the 10 hour drive before and it would be fun to lug it over to the open ocean at

Miss Emma fits like a glove atop the Camry. She knows the way to Charleston (like a down-and-back trip Wed., Nov. 18) and pretty soon she'll learn of the open ocean off Pompano Beach.

Miss Emma fits like a glove atop the Camry. She knows the way to Charleston (like another down-and-back trip Wed., Nov. 18) and pretty soon she’ll learn of the open ocean off Pompano Beach. Reid, at the wheel last year, will also get a shot at redfish over Thanksgiving in Hilton Head.

Pompano Beach to see if the wahoo or dolphin are biting. I’d need to paddle about a mile offshore but if the waves/ocean surge isn’t too bad it would be a lot of fun for a change to give it a whirl. But it is nice of him. Not entirely sure how that will impact my trips to see you both of north but I suspect I’ll head that way sometime before Christmas. Gotta stop in Des Moines, too.

Still trying to process all of the closure materials for Bank of America. The bank is not extraordinarily helpful Continue reading

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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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We know the name won’t be Louise or Claire …

I’ve tried on end to guess the name of the girl Ellen and Tim are expecting any day – or moment – now.  Louise? Not close. Claire (Ellen said that was a name that was considered so score one for Papa). As usual I’m off the mark as I am on so many other things – stocks, the weather, Cub games.

But the name won’t matter as long as my new granddaughter and Ellen come out of the delivery process in good shape.

We’ll know soon.


April 6, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Thanks, Reid, for resurrecting the trip to Chicago. Really looking forward to it. The plane ticket will be secured today and I’ll bump the itinerary to you ASAP. I thought about coming in Thursday night since I have Friday off but will likely wait until Friday to jet in. So watch for something soon.

Emma scarfs down some ice cream. She and her Papa will get to know the business end of a spoon and a bowl(s) of ice cream when I visit next month.

Emma scarfs down some some of the good stuff. She and her Papa will get to know the business end of a spoon and a bowl(s) of ice cream when I visit next month.

Ellen, your time for the-girl-to-be-named-later is closing in. Geez, by the time you get this she could already be with us. It’s so exciting. People have asked if I’ll be there for the delivery but this time around it does make more sense to let the dust settle, so to speak, before heading up to Minnesota. I’m trying to guess her name but am totally stumped as to what you and Tim have selected. Her name won’t start with an ‘E’ since Emma has already claimed that. I haven’t checked out what the more popular names are for girls are in the past couple of years. Louise? Nah, too old school.

Continuing to thumb my nose at the HOA garden Nazis by planting a round container with Romaine lettuce. Will augment that today with a container tomato and some basil purchased on Saturday night. The high and mighty have said nothing more about the ‘hearing’ that was supposed to be held about my garden pot crimes. Perhaps they’re marshaling their legal forces. The Charlotte Observer ran a story about how perfect container gardening was for those of us in condos and smaller spaces. Touche. People put moronic styrofoam Easter bunnies and gigantic eggs outside their front doors this week, but the betting here is that the Forces of Evil let those slide. I didn’t know a few heads of lettuce was a felony.

I pulled the plug on my pickupyourpath.com group on Meetup. Only five people joined and I did a lackluster job of promoting it and posting pics and such. It was ill-fated from the start. It also cost me $20 a month to host the site and given that I wasn’t doing much to stir the pot, it was time for it to go. Herding the cats in my Golf for One group is plenty enough site management for me.

Played twice this weekend. Walked a muny early, early, early Saturday morning with my friend Todd from work and just kind of slapped the ball around. Our rounds are mostly about gabbing about work and liberal politics. The worst sort of golf is when you’re not taking it terribly serious. And the results show. Played yesterday on a fine track called River Hills with my friends Sondra, Jody and Jen. Hit the ball much better but still made bonehead decisions which cost me shot after shot.

Sondra, Jody and I couldn't score tickets to the Charlotte Knights game on a gorgeous Friday, but vendors still sold us 'dogs and beer through the bars - all with a full view of the field. Nice.

Sondra, Jody and I couldn’t land tickets to the Charlotte Knights game on a gorgeous Friday, but vendors still sold us ‘dogs and beer through the bars – all with a full view of the field. Nice.

Sondra and Jody and I rode the train Uptown on Friday night to watch the local team, the Knights, clobber the White Sox. But since it was a sellout, we perched outside the fence in right center field but still have a full view of the field. What was really hilarious was that the beer and hotdog vendors walking inside with their trays strapped over their shoulders were only too happy to sell brews and ‘dogs through the tall black fence. We’d push cash their way and they’d deliver the goods. It was a warm beautiful evening to watch the game (more people watching that baseball watching). We rode the train back south to a biker bar called McCoys

We had a great time at McCoy's - half the fun is people watching, including these two.

We had a great time at McCoy’s – half the fun is people watching, including these two.

that’s right along the rail line, so we spent the next couple of hours listening to live music and watching bikers in my age category. I’ll get my bike there in pretty short order. Hope to order new, and louder, Vance & Hines pipes this week.

My class on letters atCentral Piedmont Community College is done. It looks like there will be a repeat in the fall but hopefully there will be more than three students although the three I had were really good. I’m also on tap to teach a general writing course and am really excited about that. To teach is to learn twice.

Love, Dad

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‘Thin’ is still thick enough …

When I got the news from my dermatologist, my mind instantly flashed back to my days as a lifeguard and pool manager in Omaha. Those were the days of baby oil and lemon juice as sun accelerators. If only I’d known better. Decades of unprotected golf didn’t help either.

Ellen and Reid took the news well by phone, and they are hopeful of a good result. I’m hopeful – and confident – too.


January 12, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Suffice to say, last week wasn’t one of the better ones in recent memory.

I’m supposed to hear from the surgeon by mid-week and the dermatologist says I am to call her if I don’t hear from the guy. She really did a pretty nice job of breaking the news. That she called it a ‘thin melanoma’ was about all I needed to hear. That told me things could be worse and that it appears to be caught fairly early. .48 doesn’t sound very deep but it seemed plenty deep enough for me. It was something of dumb luck that I’d noticed the thing on my forearm and called, almost on a whim, and got in quickly due to a cancellation. Perhaps that’s divine providence. Friday night was spent at Macs, sipping on a Guinness and researching what I could about it. After 20 minutes of such, I’d had enough. According to the dermatologist, the surgery should occur sometime in the next couple weeks. There’s no idea of what it entails or how long I’ll be on the shelf from regular activities. It was really good to talk to you both about it, and you handled it better than your old man.

I got up a little earlier than normal on Saturday, about 5 a.m., and tried to have ‘the talk’ with the Almighty as I walked along. I’m not very formal or very good at it. It was more of a one-sided conversation. My request wasn’t for healing, but for strength and patience. Later in the day I played golf with a couple friends and pushing the cart was therapeutic. Golf was a good thing in that I didn’t want to sit around moping or surrendering to this thing, no matter how early in the process it is. I’m still heading to Florida this week for the Sailfish Smackdown although Dave is having no luck finding a rental fishing kayak.

My friend Dave and I watched as more than 50 kayakers set off at Pompano Beach in their quest to catch the biggest sailfish. We stayed ashore - a rental fishing kayak wasn't available for Dave. That was fine - we spend our time doing other things (including catching a 7 lb. snakehead - truly an ugly fish - behind his house).

My friend Dave and I watched as more than 50 kayakers set off at Pompano Beach in their quest to catch the biggest sailfish. We stayed ashore – a rental fishing kayak wasn’t available for Dave. That was fine – we spent our time doing other things (including catching a 7 lb. bowfin – truly an ugly fish – behind his house).

If he can’t, we’ll collect our ‘free’ tee shirts at the Captain’s reception on Friday night. I told him it didn’t bother me in the slightest to forego the tournament. Half the fun would’ve been paddling together in what would have likely been a fruitless attempt to catch a fish. We’ll find somewhere else to fish from a motorized boat and we might hire a guide, too. It really doesn’t faze me to not go on the open ocean.

I hope you guys have a good time in Mexico. It really sounds fun, and I laughed at your comment, Ellen, that you wouldn’t leave your beach chair. Just be sure to use sunscreen. Ha. Looking at the temperatures up your way this morning, the warmth can’t come a moment too soon. It’s good that you’ll be with your mother because she will do things the right way. You’ll be in the air while I’m on the road to FLA-USA. Be sure to send pics.

It’s dreary here today; rain and cold. But it’s January and one would suppose that’s how it should be. The temps should start a slow warm-up in the next couple of weeks as the days get progressively longer. At least that’s the hope.

I’m sending a newspaper article from the Observer this morning to Mark Cady. It’s a column from a North Carolina supreme court member warning us of the politicization of our court system from our friends on the Right. In particular she objects to the influence of outside money to turn the courts more conservative. She thinks the general populace objects to this interference, and I hope she’s right. Perhaps that outside overreach is the worst news of the week.

Love, Dad


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The bottom of the barrel…

As far as ‘hard news’ value goes, last week’s letter was at the very bottom of the barrel. The very bottom.


January 27, 2014

Ellen/Reid: I know you both could store perishable food outside right now in the negative temperatures you’re suffering, but the 50 degrees we have at this moment will evaporate later today when it drops into the lower 20s. Florida can’t come soon enough. Reid, are you interested in joining us? We might make that happen.

A chunk of tooth plopped out yesterday on the golf course. I have no idea what happened to it, but there’s dental work in my immediate future. It’s not too bothersome right now. Thank goodness for insurance. Considering all the hours spent in my lifetime in the dentist’s/torturer’s chair, it is just another day at the office.

There were 11 deer huddled up at once in plain view behind the house last week. By the time I retrieved my camera, they had all moved on in the undergrowth to points South. That is the biggest herd I’ve seen out back. No wonder local gardeners are upset; when those four legged lawn mowers move through they can trim plants to the ground. It is interesting how they nonchalantly cope with the human element. They are fun to watch. I’m just glad my lettuce is on the front porch.

The price of stamps is going up today according to a story in the Charlotte Observer. Quick postal history lesson: when this letter writing campaign began in 2001, the cost of a first class stamp was 34¢. It will go up 3 cents to 49¢. I don’t care. It’s still the best investment I ever made (other than plane tickets to get you down here, of course). Just makes the cost of doing my business that much higher. No big deal.

Finally sucked it up and made the conversion from the insipid MicroSoft program to Apple’s Pages for my 12 page church newsletter. It will be wholly much simpler, faster and easier. I spent hours last week trying to learn the ropes and finally got it down enough to produce the newsletter on time. The printer used the wrong printer to produce the printed copies but the PDF looks great. It’s a big improvement over how I’d done it before. As I get a little more comfortable with it, things should be even better. I don’t know why it took so long for me to get over the fright of using a new machine/format. I must be a late – a very late – adopter.

My friends Jill and Troy invited me over for dinner on Saturday night and we had a great time. Ellen, you remember Troy from our Bridger Wilderness excursion. Great people. We had steaks and some risotto. It was fabulous. Risotto takes a long time to create – it needs near-constant stirring – but it’s already up near the top of my culinary bucket list, it was that good. Troy knows all things tech, and he will probably school me on using my iPhone to create a sound system in the house. He was ‘streaming’ Pandora and for all the world I thought it was a CD player. One of these days I’ll come into the new world order and get this figured out.

Okay, time to get away from this and get back to work. My email inbox is already starting to pile up, and that’s just in the 15 minutes it took to write this. Talk to you both sooner than later.

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Shit happens…

The one known to life is that it moves on whether you’re ready or not. You are simply along for the ride (bumpy or smooth, uphill-level ground-downhill) although you have some navigational say so. In large part the weekly letters of the last 14 years have served to let the kids know how their dad is faring in the journey. Not bad. Not bad.


November 4, 2013

Ellen/Reid: Well, I’m picking up a fresh head of steam down here, so don’t worry unduly about your old man. Things are fine. Golf and walking and teaching tend to take your mind off things and that is peachy by me. Okay, the golf isn’t so fine, but you catch my drift.

There was yet another reorganization at work. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This one hit a little closer to home in that one of the guys involved in the reshuffling – he’s now with another group altogether – really liked my work and rarely made any edits. It’s hard to replace that kind of trust. It really doesn’t affect me other than the uncertainty of who’s doing what. It’s just the nature of the corporate beast – stir the pot and, after a while, stir it again for good measure. Reid, you’ve seen that as much as I have. Shit happens.

In a few weeks we’ll all be gathering in Savannah and then to Hilton Head.

In the case of the disappearing breakfast smoothie, exhibit A is on the left. The prime suspect is on the right, wearing exhibit B.

In the case of the disappearing breakfast smoothie, exhibit A is on the left. The prime suspect is on the right, wearing exhibit B. Charges were later dismissed. Emma is a good tonic for her gramps.

The crib is secured; now it’s on to a rental SUV, hopefully with enough cargo space for Emma and all of her gear, not to mention her parents. In an unusual spate of prior planning, the menu is coming together; real turkey and fixins’ on T-Day, pasta, fish, pizza on other nights. A little breakfast bread and pancakes/bacon/eggs thrown in Continue reading

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