Tag Archives: Chicago

No shortage of things to write about …


No letters were written to Ellen and Reid the entire month of July. That is by far the longest letter-less stretch in more than 15 years.

And the omission was for permissible reasons: stopovers were made at their homes during my journey to the West, and not too many days after a July 4 weekend in Chicago, Reid (and Liz) strapped on their backpacks to good naturedly walk 30-plus miles of trails with me on the northern half of the Bridger Wilderness.

I missed the writing. The loss was part habitual, part that there was no shortage of things to say.

But the weekly letters resume today. And, in a break for you, there won’t be any lengthy diatribe about Wyoming other than it exceeded my expectations and then some. I can’t wait to do it all over again in July of 2017.

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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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Disaster written all over it…


December 23, 2013

Ellen/Reid: I suppose one can take singular pride in that I didn’t venture once this holiday season over to Charlotte’s showpiece mall less than a mile away. You guys made shopping (online) incredibly easy so there was no need to fight the traffic or the shopping zealots. Actually, it likely would have been faster to walk to the mall than drive and try to find a parking space. The traffic was just bonkers over and around the mall and there was absolutely no need to watch the Santa machine churn through a line of whining kids while parents flashed a credit card for photos. I do reserve the right to go over for the post-Christmas sales once the crowds have died down, however.

Some friends have cajoled me to play golf on both Christmas and New Year’s Day and that seems like a pretty good idea.

What seemed like a good idea on paper - play golf on Christmas day - had disaster written all over it. It was 28 degrees at the start. This photo doesn't begin to show all the shivering.

What seemed like a good idea on paper – play golf on Christmas day – had disaster written all over it. It was 28 degrees at the start. This photo doesn’t begin to show all the shivering.

I don’t mind being down here for the holidays, and I know what kind of pressures are on you guys to go hither and yon. It’s good your mom is in the Twin Cities with both of you. John has invited me over to dinner with his family after he’s done preaching the Christmas Eve service at Caldwell Presbyterian. A mild protest was made to not interfere in his precious family time, but secretly I didn’t mind being asked. It’s good of him and he’s a good guy. I’ll take over some of that breakfast bread they can bake Christmas morning.

Caught a couple of flicks the last couple of Friday nights. The latest Hobbit installment is kind of Continue reading

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The Animal Channel…


I’ve got a soft spot for the environment but as of late it has hardened a little bit. As long as I’m above ground, Ellen and Reid will continue to know the land and water is worth caring about.

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December 16, 2013

Ellen/Reid: This week felt like an episode on the Animal Channel. It was amazing to see that owl eating the hawk a few feet away from me on Friday night and only a few yards off of six lane Fairview Road. Too bad my iPhone camera went into meltdown mode.

The owl sits atop its prize. Not 20 feet away, three lanes of traffic zipped by on Fairview Road.

The owl sits atop its prize. Not 20 feet away, three lanes of traffic each way zipped by on Fairview Road.

What a picture that should have made. When I got too close to the raptor to get a better shot, it struggled to get airborne with its heavy prize. About 6:30 the next morning on my pick-up-trash walk, a young six point buck wandered out of the woods another 10 feet from me and the two of us just stood there, gawking at each other. I made a step and he loped off in no particular hurry. ‘Just another two legged human’ he thought. Later in the morning I tried to dodge the rain while I walked Renaissance Park, a local golf course. As per usual, I was rummaging for balls when a 3 foot copperhead – there is some conjecture if it was that or just a harmless corn snake – slithered through a

sand trap near my errant shot. The low 40 temps had him moving very slowly, but it was fun to see (from a safe distance). I had my sand wedge

The variety of snake is somewhat a mystery to all but herpetologists, but what is known is all it wants to do is survive. And it shall.

The variety of snake is somewhat a mystery to all but herpetologists, but what is known is all it wants to do is survive. And it shall.

with me and while I have trouble hitting the ball I would have had no trouble clobbering him. Nah, I never would have throttled him/her. He/she was just trying to survive. Let him/her live and be on his/her way. Why a snake isn’t hibernating is beyond me. A couple of holes later, a small flock of turkeys was moseying across the fairway and in no real rush to escape just another hapless golfer such as they’ve seen before. I like see all that life in motion in the middle of the city. They persevere despite the odds. What I don’t like seeing, at this moment and as we speak, is the water bottleIMG_2845 floating in the stream behind the house. I retrieved a plastic milk jug and several polystyrene cups bobbing up and down this weekend. We just can’t seem to get out of our way, environmentally speaking.

I’m thinking hard about a kayak. There is a lot of good water down here, and I especially want to get down to the low country and try to fish the flats and the reeds for what Tim would call “Reds.” I like that sort of world and can’t figure out why it took so long to come to this conclusion. It’s something I can do by myself. There are a number of Meetup groups down here that specialize in kayaking the Catawba River and Continue reading

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Getting my jabs in…


Yes, I do get my jabs in against my new home state. But the digs are deserved. North Carolina is the new color of red but that doesn’t mean a lot of us have to like it.

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October 7, 2013

Ellen/Reid: They say we’re in line for a little moisture from the tropical storm that sort of petered out in the Gulf but is still pushing rain our way. We could use a little bit of precip, at least enough to keep me indoors so I don’t have to take another walk to pick up trash. But really, it would be okay with me if we got a good dousing. As they used to say in the Midwest, it would be “good for the beans.” Or maybe that was the corn. Either way, we’re not living in the Midwest anymore, Toto.

Had a pretty calm weekend as weekends go. We listened to some live music at a bike night on Friday and watched a drunken woman dance or, rather, grind. It passes for cheap entertainment down in these parts. That or we’re just easily amused. Saturday I golfed in gorgeous weather, and the same for Sunday. Ellen, you’ll castigate your dad, but the sinner in me bolted from the church service about halfway through and head to the golf course. I walked on and picked up a game. The course paired me with two lesbians, Sheryl and Tina, visiting the Carolinas from Chicago expressly for golf. It was just an absolute riot. They were fun to play with and pretty good sticks. They weren’t aware of the overtly anti-gay sentiment down here but that didn’t matter on the course. Sheryl runs three little businesses and was wondering about the relocation climate down here, and I told her to forget about it from the social issues standpoint. She said she kind of thought so, too.

My apologies to Mr. Trudeau for the unauthorized use, but this was too good to pass up.

My apologies to Mr. Trudeau for the unauthorized use, but this was too good to pass up.

Ellen, don’t sweat the half marathon too much. If you can run 3-4-5 miles several times a week from now through the end of October, you’ll jet through the race. That doesn’t mean you can go fast, but if the goal is to run it, you will breeze through the course and live to tell about it. Of course, Emma and I Continue reading

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A dad’s irritation and black coffee…


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June 24, 2013

Ellen/Reid: I am still irritated at leaving Chicago early. That was just plain stupid, trying to get an earlier flight. Even if American Airlines, the dolts, had relented and let me on it still felt wrong on a bunch of levels. I could’ve taken you and Liz to brunch, Reid, and still had plenty of time to spare. It’s just so aggravating to

Reid on the stoop of his Chicago apartment early on a Saturday morning. He seems in a good place.

Reid polishing off a danish on the stoop of his Chicago apartment early on a Saturday morning. He seems in a good place.

act like that. That won’t happen again. I know I was plenty anxious about today but there’s still no excuse. Reid, I was so impressed with how you and Liz have done your place. It’s just awfully nice. And incredibly spacious.

I didn’t sleep very well last night, tossing and turning about today’s examination. You two will be the first to know (after Felicia) and by the time you get this the results should be in. So we’ll just keep our collective fingers crossed. We’ll know, too, about the Blackhawks. That was fun watching the game. I didn’t realize you guys were so into hockey. Who would have known?

The morning got off slowly at work. Not even the black coffee was able to shake things up this a.m. Maybe it’s just one of those days.

For the third time United has changed our flight plans to Seattle. This is getting old. In three weeks we’ll be there and you guys will have been to Cass Lake and back in that time. You should have a lot of fun up there. Emma is old enough to sort of get the drift of things up there. A new generation attaches itself to Northern Minnesota.

Felicia harvested our first tomatoes of the season from the front stoop and they have been pronounced edible. I got one bite and it was pretty good. Reid, you ought to stuff some herbs for cooking in those boxes at the top of the stairs. A little basil, some oregano, cilantro, chives, et al. That would be a nice little garden. Whatever you’d plunk into the dirt would need plenty of water since the boxes are facing south but that’s okay. Nothing wrong with some common herbs. I should ship you some cuttings from the oregano here since I brought it back from your grandmother’s garden. That would be a good way to keep that legacy going.

Little fledged cardinals continue to troop to the feeder. I worry they won’t know how to feed themselves in the wild if we pull the plug on the sunflower seed. But we enjoy them flocking to the second floor and it makes them a little safer from the marauding feral cats that I see slunking around here on a daily basis. I never should have sold your grandfather’s .22. My BB gun is just enough to catch their attention although I’ve never sent any ammo their way.

My church newsletter was done just in time before boarding the flight to Chicago. But it’s a beast that needs to be fed all the time. I’ll have to crank out another one before heading to Seattle. It just never goes away but such are the wages of sin. I’m trying to get a little more inventive and creative on the graphic design but you guys will have to be the judge. It’s still outside my comfort zone.

Alright, enough already. Take the sunscreen and Coolibar clothing with you to Cass Lake. Reid, I hope you catch fish, and Ellen, I hope you catch Emma. She’ll be trying to scoot away all the time.

Love, dad

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Of all the stinking mornings to not sleep in…


This letter alludes to a trip to Chicago to see Reid. That trip has come and gone. Look for coverage in the letter posted next week.

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June 17, 2013

Ellen/Reid: Of all the stinking mornings I could have slept in – not just stayed in bed but actually slept – it would have been this morning. Drives me nuts. There are no mornings, Saturday and Sunday included, where I’m not up-and-at-‘em at the crack of dawn, literally watching the clock at 5:33 or 5:49 and then up like a shot at 6 a.m. to make coffee. It’s awful.

Reid at the door of his new digs with Liz in Chicago. Nice place for a young couple. It's got more square footage than where his old man lives.

Reid at the door of his new digs he shares with Liz in Chicago. Nice place for a young couple. It’s got more square footage than where his old man lives.

They continue with the layoffs down here. A good friend of mine got let go, and he’s having to pull up roots and head toward Maryland for his next job. He’s a great, competent guy – and just like that he’s gone. This was where he wanted to live, he and his wife had a nice house in a good neighborhood and that’s all gone away. We played one final round of golf together on Saturday and he gave me the skinny Continue reading

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