Tag Archives: Chicago Tribune

An odd couple and keeping up with the Times …

What goes together better than diamonds and container gardens? Truly an odd couple but such disparate topics and more are all in play for the weekly letters.

As it is, the kids read all the news that’s fit to print (with apologies to the New York Times). Speaking of the Times, it is all it’s cracked up to be. I can hardly get through the weekend editions. In fact, I’m not. Sections yet to be perused are stacked up like cordwood next to the couch. I wish the kids would subscribe to the paper versions of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune. It would do them good. 

March 27, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Our collective karma didn’t seem to work too well for the Bulldogs last week. North Carolina rolled them and I thought Butler would be the one team that might be peaky enough to give them a go. But for a small school to reach that far says something about the basketball culture in Indianapolis. I watched the games yesterday on ESPN which had a link to the CBS broadcast. It’s really the one time of year I wish I had a TV. Otherwise, I’m good without it. In secret, I am a Carolina fan among all the teams down in these parts so here’s hoping the Tar Heels can go all the way.

The container garden is already going great guns. The romaine and arugula are already sprouted and growing nicely. The cilantro has yet to emerge. If the temps hold true (and warm) later this week the basil and maybe a small tomato plant will go in the ground. While golfing this weekend, there was a stand of bamboo adjacent to one of the tee boxes and I plucked a bunch of dried stalks and stuck them in next to my golf bag. Those will make good guides for the tomato.


A couple of years ago, the HOA ‘Garden Nazis’ called me out about the evil of veggie plants on the front porch. This year the container garden next to the back driveway got an upgrade.

It took me most of the day yesterday to wade through the New York Times. It really is one hell of a newspaper. The conservative side rags on it as a ‘liberal’ paper, but it’s not liberal, it’s just straight forward, honest reportage. I don’t see much of a reportage bias in it at all. The editorials thump Trump but that’s the role of the Times and other papers; play the devil’s advocate and be a counterweight to the BS that’s spewing out of this White House – or any White House for that matter. What people don’t associate with it is the arts coverage, the food, the culture and other national reporting. They had a great, great piece on Mt. Rushmore from a tangent I’d never seen before. Ellen, I should send you the book review section. It’s stellar.

It’s pretty early in the day right now, and the coffee is strong. I’ve been getting up a bit later, perhaps as my body clock adjusts to the retirement regimen. It doesn’t mean I’m sleeping solidly through the night but it is what it is.

There shall be no mention of the Continue reading


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Two letters for the price of one … coming next week: would we have disappointed Carl Sandburg?

The letters to Ellen and Reid went out week by week in October but I’ve been AWOL in posting the single pages. Chalk it up to ennui of the nation-altering election season, moping over a house and Harley that haven’t sold or any of a number of nit-picky pain points.

But here are two letters from mid-month. My final pre-election note will be sent today and a heads up for next week: it will deal with the late Pulitzer winner Carl Sandburg, who’s faith in the innate humanity and shared resolve of the common man would surely have been sorely tested these past few months.

October 11, 2016

Ellen/Reid: This keeping the house neat and tidy is getting old. It’s never been more spotless and organized. The cynic would say ‘why wasn’t it this way the last 10 years?’ and there’s not really a good answer for that. But hey, if it helps to sell the house, so be it. People keep telling me how hot the local real estate market is and if that’s so, we’re about to find out. There’s a showing this morning and another one tomorrow. My new Realtor, Laura, has priced the place even higher than I did, and if it sells close to her projections my net will be even higher than if I’d sold it myself. You were right, Ellen, to prod me toward using a pro. But I’ve got to hop in the shower and also vacuum so this letter had better be out the door in a hurry.

Well, about this time next week we’ll be in Des Moines for Kristin’s wedding. It was so good to see Emma’s reaction last night at the news we’ll get to see each other. And little Georgia is just so cute and expressive. The plan is to shove off on Tuesday, probably overnight near Indy and then make the final leg into DSM on Wednesday. A Realtor friend will show me around town on Thursday. I’m not too wild about living out in the ‘burbs but we’ll see what’s in the realm of affordability. It could be that a town home or even a house are all options on the table. I imposed on Valerie and Bob for a place to stay, then will tastefully bow out of town on Sunday for the drive home. With any luck, there should be some movement on the home. I’m at my wits end about the Harley. Tim is likely right – suck it up and get over to the Harley dealer even if they give me a low ball price for it. Part of me wants to keep riding but not on that bike. I’m not sure why I’ve had a burr under my saddle about it.

Spent a big part of yesterday walking the golf course with my friend Dave. It was a cathartic round for him with the golf utterly secondary to the running dialogue we had the entire way. He lost his son to a drug overdose just about two weeks ago up in Ohio and it’s just an awful tale. Literally a good kid gone wrong. Drugs are just so nefarious. Those have never appealed to me in any way and the tragedy here is a child who’s gone well before his time. He was only 28. Dave also lost his job this year and just discovered his elderly mother has turned down attempts to treat a form of cancer, so 2016 is going to turn out to be one helluva year for him. We had dinner after the round with some others from our golf group, Sondra, Jody and Christie and it was good to show Dave that support. He could really use some right about now, and later, too.

My ER and Urgent Care bill for my tepid little gall bladder episode totaled nearly $34,000. No need to wonder what’s wrong with the American medical system – there it is in a nutshell. I walked in and out under my own power. I can’t imagine how much a real serious medical issue would cost. I mean, really, our health care system is just a disaster. How can an ultrasound and EKG plus 10 minutes – tops – with a doctor amount to $34,000 (and all this through a so-called ‘non-profit’ health care provider)? It is utterly bizarre to me. I’ve got inquiries in as to how much I’m on the hook for. It’s maddening in a lot of ways.

Reid, let’s plan on Saturday morning breakfast to talk about the job thing. I know your mom is anxious about it, too, and we can help (where are you staying?) Your resume did look quite good and that’s a big first step. When I’m closer to Chicago, we can spend that much more time together. Or is that a frightening thought?

Love, Dad

October 25, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Kristin’s wedding was just a great deal. She, and Nancy, looked so happy amid all the chaos. Really fun to see you guys, Liz and Tim. The one thing I’ve kicked myself for more than once is moving off the aisle as a courtesy to make room for another couple. It wasn’t until Emma and Georgia were making their way down the red carpet that I mildly cursed myself for that mistake. It would’ve been a highlight photo.


Flower girls Georgia and Emma waltzed down the aisle ahead of their aunt Kristin.

Even though it didn’t turn out, there were still plenty of other great moments. Everything seemed to go off without a hitch. It was a smaller affair than I thought it would be. It was nice of Kristin to ask me to take photos at the rehearsal dinner even though I probably overdid the paparazzi thing a little too much. But that’s what uncles are for at weddings, isn’t it – to go overboard? At least I wasn’t disco dancing or chugging another glass of whiskey. I sent the photos of Kristin and Gordie and Delsin and his mom dancing to Kristin this morning and got a nice note in return.


The drive home was pretty routine (2,224 miles overall). A traffic jam here and there but nothing too bad. Made a several hour stopover in lovely Hendersonville, North Carolina and it really is quite the chic-chic little mountain town. An unbelievable Main Street lined with shops and restaurants and bars. The housing is quite affordable there. Went up to Jump Off Rock


The view at sunset at Jump Off Rock was spectacular. I’ve squandered 10 years of chances to visit these nearby mountains.

just west of town to view an incredible sunset over the Carolina mountains to the west. It reminded me of more than 10 years of squandered mountain experiences – and now it’s nearly too late. But jumped back in the car and zoomed back to Charlotte in about two hours. Slept until 7:30 then went to the Y after coffee and the newspaper. Speaking of newspapers, the Des Moines Register ain’t the paper it used to be. Highly disappointing, but that is the way of the printed page. Newspapers, except for small town ones, are going away, and quickly. In 10 years most metro papers will be long gone or online only. It’s a shame. I’m sure your late grandfather hates this development. Personally, wouldn’t that be a great Christmas present for the two of you: The St. Paul Pioneer Press and Chicago Tribune delivered to your doorsteps? Don’t put it past your old man.

Went up to the library to early vote this morning. I was prepared to see Trump’s voluntary anti-voter fraud team but there were none to be found. Only took about 20 minutes from start to finish. It was a fairly healthy line of 60 – 70 people so it will no doubt be a mob on election day. I’m tired of all the Democratic emails I get that raise another warning flag de jour – while asking for yet another donation. I don’t know who to trust in terms of the polls. The suspicion is Hillary will win handily but the Senate looks to remain in obstructionist Republican hands. In a weird way that’s okay because the public needs to see what a bunch of narrow minded zealots/nitwits the GOP really is. As the supposed party of business they sure obsess over social and religious and gun issues. I hope Hillary can man up – pun intended – to challenge some portions of the Almighty Second Amendment. Sandy Hook Elementary and the cold-blooded murder of Ralph’s law partner Todd remain very fresh for me.

The carpet stretchers came this morning to tone up the raggedy carpet in the master bedroom. I knew it looked kind of rumply and my Realtor was right to correct it. I keep waiting for that magic call(s) that announce another bid. Alas, there have been none as of yet. The optimist in me keeps thinking this is the right way to do it, that the real estate cartel and their MLS will come through with a flood of showings. It hasn’t happened yet, but as they say, all it takes is one good one.

Love, Dad

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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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