Tag Archives: kayak fishing

Enough already with interior design; let’s move on to the garden, shall we? …


The kids knew for years that their dad coveted the idea of a real, honest-to-goodness garden. Container veggies were okay but just didn’t cut it.

Now, however, the garden gods have granted my wish: it’s time for dirty work – literally.


March 19, 2018

Ellen/Reid: Well, my design and subsequent carpentry skills got called into question last week and things came out okay. The 10 ft. by 5 ft. raised bed garden is finally done and ready for dirt. It’s a double decker of sorts; two treated 2x10s stacked atop each other with treated 4x4s at the corners so it weighs just a ton and once the 19 inch deep cavity is filled to the very top it will literally weigh a ton. I dunno, as it is the wood is 300 – 400 lbs. So it’s not going to go anywhere. The reason for being so deep is that the soil here is crappy; red clay.

But the developer of my neighborhood has a gigantic pile of truly black dirt and I toyed with the idea of asking him if I could snatch 10 – 12 wheelbarrows worth of soil. Before I could ask him, however, he met me in the backyard to volunteer his front end loader to cart over several big loads of dirt. That will really be a Godsend and will save me a lot of backache and effort.

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True to his word, the developer motored his front end loader to my back yard to dump several big scoops of black earth into the raised beds. Now the real fun begins. As for the bluebird box, the bluebirds and some assertive swallows have tussled over nesting rights.

But the gardening construction isn’t done yet. Dreamed up were two smaller yet separate companion beds, one for red raspberries and the other for blueberries. I’m excited about that. Planted about 25 feet behind the new box was a bluebird box and, amazingly, not five minutes after it was up some bluebirds were flitting about to case the box out. Unfortunately, some swallows have been more aggressive and seemed to pull the rug out from under the bluebirds since the brood pair has not been seen of late.

The developer also gave me the green light, surprisingly so, to build a deck. It won’t be enormous, probably 6 – 8 ft. out from the existing deck and down a short step. But I’ll make it wide enough, 15 ft. or so, to house Miss Emma beneath it. She really needs a place of here home (ed. typo, sic) and that should be plenty of space. The extension will give the grill a landing spot, too, since where it is now, on the driveway, makes me look like a hick.

The local community college, Blue Ridge Community College, has my application to teach continuing education classes on letter and news writing. I’m not sure if they’ll accept me or not but it’s worth throwing my hat into the ring. The classes would be about 25 miles away in Flat Rock, which is close to Hendersonville.

My Des Moines friends, the Daves and Bob and their wives, will be here in early October for  4 – 6 days of fly fishing, visits to Asheville, golf, hiking and just hanging out. I sent each of them a gigantic packet of Brevard/Asheville information to kind of whet their whistles and get them excited. I’m heading to Florida the second week of April to tarpon fish with Dave and will probably make a side visit to Charleston with Miss Emma on the way back. I’ll make a separate trip down there next week for my first kayak fishing in several months.

We need to talk, soon, about tickets for Thanksgiving. My treat. My guess is you could arrive Tuesday or Wednesday. Ellen, you and Tim will likely need to rent a car, which will be on me, too. Reid, I could come and get you if you fly into Greenville, SC or Asheville, NC. Charlotte is the least cost option but is the furthest away at two hours. It’ll be fun to have everyone here. We can hike and fly fish and explore while you’re down here. Maybe the girls can see some white squirrels.

Played golf this weekend. It was the first stab at it after the Feb. 20 surgery but everything felt great. No issues or seeming complications at all. So it was good to go through the dry run and come out none the worse for the wear.

Alrighty, that’s a wrap for today. Have fun in FLA over spring break. Spring is kind of dragging its feet here but maybe dunking my hands in black garden dirt will speed up nice weather.

Love, Dad

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Repeating myself …


There are times in letter writing when topics are rehashed – and rehashed. Then rehashed again for good measure.

Repetitious cases in point: kayak fishing, home sales, job searches, et al.

I wish it might be otherwise. But since we are creatures of habit we tend to do the same things time and time again. It’s just a matter of how you mix up the retelling of those reoccurrences. It’s all in an effort so Ellen and Reid don’t get bored more than they already are when they read the same things over and over. And over.


February 6, 2017

Ellen/Reid: This birthday thing is no big deal. It really isn’t. As of this moment I am declaring 67 to be the new 63. Knock on wood, but I’m feeling pretty good, continuing to not slow down (okay, maybe mentally) and feel generally pretty good about things. Of course, that’s a serious knock on wood. Life is fairly fragile and it can turn on a dime.

Ellen, your photos make it seem that you are ready to move in, maybe before I arrive in a couple of weeks. This really has to be a time of wonderment for the girls. They just have to be so excited at the prospect of their own rooms, their own bath, a new yard to play in. My perception is it’s a great neighborhood. Can’t wait to see it. It just looks so cool. Your contractors have really motored along. Can’t always say that about hired help. Maybe it’s the Minnesota work ethic.

Reid, tell me more about this London thing. Sounds intriguing. Are they paying you for your ideas and work? I wish I’d of visited you when you worked over there. Why didn’t that happen? That would have been a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see you in overseas action. That certainly was a marvelous experience. Once this home move comes to pass then I can turn attention to the Spain/England walkabout later this year. I’m going to pump some of the proceeds of the house sale into the trip. I’ll try to tap into the experience and wisdom of Tom and Vince and my friend Richard, all of whom have hiked the length of the Camino in one swoop. My penchant is to go over and hit the road  in an uneducated fashion but since I’m not the natural, intrinsic planner I need to take a step back and really get the logistics worked out. It will be a great solo adventure.

As for Wyoming there is now one more very interested/likely hiker. His name is Ted Ingold. He’s in my golf group and it’s 75/25 that he will make the trip. As of this writing it looks as if the likely hikers are Ted, Tom, Vince, Katy and me. Not a bad core group. Ted is really keen on fishing and being part of the great adventure. It would be great if you and Liz could make it, Reid, but when you land a new job your time will be spoken for. If we could entice another 2-3-4 people to sojourn with  us that would be fabulous. The more the merrier.

The new Realtor, the W Group, seems to have their act together. All three floors have been completely reconfigured per the suggestion of their stager. Frankly, she wanted to soften the rough edges Continue reading

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No wolves at the door …


So, what do I do now?

Whatever that is is already beginning to unfold. Perhaps the larger point for my two is to continue to underscore that things indeed are ‘… far better than fine and far better than well.’ It’s not enough for them to read between the lines; they’ve heard as much from me as I double-up on assurances.

So that’s where we are today. Adjusting, as many of you have, to the new regime that is retirement. I mean, what the hell? The hand has been dealt and now it’s about playing the cards.

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November 2, 2015

Ellen/Reid: So, what do I do now?

That’s the $64,000 Question (that’s the title of an old game show when I was a kid). I can’t sit around and read the paper all day or spend time posting inane fishing videos on FaceBook or just idle around or walk or pick up trash. There has to be something of substance out there for me to do. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing to work a part time job. What that might be, there is no clue. No real thought has devoted in that direction but the noodling on it begins right about now.

There’s no particular rancor directed at Bank of America. It’s just a big business, that’s all. Employees account for roughly 60 percent of expense cost, and something had to give if the bank wanted to make its numbers and assuage The Street. Some friends have asked if I was shocked but the correct answer was no; if you didn’t feel this coming something was wrong. My run there was fine although I was never sure they knew what they had in me. They are caught in such a trap of corporate lingo/non-communicativeness that it is beyond its ability to escape. It’s just the way it is in business. What’s maddening is that is not the way the rest of the world communicates. They ought to gravitate toward plain English/plain spoken-ness. But I guess musing about that kind of foolishness isn’t my concern now, is it?

The ‘package’ arrived over the weekend via FedEx and it’s nothing that wasn’t expected. There were a few pages of added – and likely unintended – tidbits included; someone’s hand-written notes about me Continue reading

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Vivid yes, flowery no and 789 words of pure nothingness …


Really, letters don’t get much more mundane than today’s tepid yawner. 789 words of pure nothingness. Bath projects, Thanksgiving, kayak fishing and arugula in a pot. Where’s the beef? as Clara might have said. (You remember Clara, don’t you?)

Who said letters had to be flowery prose? Not me. Vivid yes, flowery no. Ellen and Reid know the difference.

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October 12, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Well, the flooring/plumbing guy is set to come today to get things moving on the guest bath. He’ll rip out the particleboard sub flooring and begin to set the underlayment for the tile itself. The tile chipping escapade saved me about $400 in demolition cost which is better than a kick in the butt. Yeah, the whole shebang will set me back about $3K (which is $2K more than the shoestring budget originally pondered) but on the flip side there should be an appreciation in the overall value of the home.

In keeping with today's 'mundane' theme, here is a boring shot of guest bath tile.

In keeping with today’s ‘mundane’ theme, here is a boring shot of guest bath tile.

Ellen, I was thinking of  a boxcar type of painted white wainscot rather than just a straight paint job. What would you think of that? It might modernize it a bit more than simply paint on the walls. The upper walls would still get the coat of gray you suggested. The drywall work went pretty smoothly. Hopefully no problems there.

All the brushed nickel faucets, towel racks, etc., came in from Kohler the other day, and it’s all spread out on the coffee table in the living room.

so you think I was kidding about Kohler fixtures spread out on the coffee table? It's a guy thing.

So you think I was kidding about Kohler fixtures spread out on the coffee table? It’s a guy thing.

So, except for the tile, everything is here. The toilet and vanity bide their time in the upstairs hallway. I guess the lighting isn’t here yet and perhaps I’ll get that tonight when I retrieve the tile. With any luck, the job will be done perhaps by the end of the week or maybe a few days into the next.

It looks like Thanksgiving likely won’t pan out for you down here, Ellen. I completely understand. It’s a real production to get the girls moving from your Point A to my Point B (i.e. Savannah) and that is understandable. Plus, ticket prices are just exorbitant. Reid, your tickets seem pretty reasonable, and a Wednesday arrival would be just fine. You know, you might think about in-and-out from Savannah since I’d have to haul all the way back to Charlotte to pick you up, and the offer is still on the table to split if not buy your ticket outright (I still owe you for the ticket for Wyoming in July). The aim here is still to head down on the prior Sunday. My friends Jody and Sondra are still planning on coming down so you and I will bunk either on the pullout couch or we can flip a coin for the remaining bedroom. Another friend, Ted, might come down, too, so it could be a big slumber party. They’ll be golfing while at least I (and maybe you) prep the T-Day meal.

I am no longer on the fence about toting the Miss Emma down to Hilton Head. She's going and we are fishing.

I am no longer on the fence about toting the Miss Emma down to Hilton Head. She’s going and we are fishing. End of discussion.

I’m kind of on the fence about bringing down the kayak although I hate to miss a chance to hit the water for at least one morning. I’d love to fish and catch something, perhaps even on the open water rather than the Intracoastal. No guide this time, however, as we’ll take our chances on the briny. There has to be a rental fishing kayak situation down in those parts and I’ll scope that out. Lord knows we have enough fishing gear. Now we just need some fish.

I feel bad for those poor ducks in South Carolina. They got hammered by Hurricane Joaquin while we waltzed away relatively Scot free considering all the rain. I was up by one of big impoundments yesterday and the water levels have totally recovered from the drought levels.

My lettuce (arugula and romaine) is making a strong showing in the container pots along the driveway. That’s the big difference between where I live and where you guys live. The cool weather is ideal while you put the finishing touches on your garden season. Saw a small black snake in the garage last week.

This black snake slithered his/her way close to the sunflower seed but the snake's wait appeared in vain. It is welcome back anytime.

This black snake slithered his/her way close to the sunflower seed but the snake’s wait appeared in vain. It is welcome back anytime.

Some mice had gnawed on the sack of sunflower seed even though it was placed well above the garage floor and the snake had obviously sensed the presence of rodents. I don’t mind black snakes and let him wander his way along the same path followed by the mice. He ended up next to the sack and I let him be. He stayed there for a few hours and then slithered back whence he came. It didn’t appear he had gulped down his prey. But he’ll be welcomed back any time on his mouse foraging adventures.

Love, Dad

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Guns vs. a head of lettuce …


Now you know how I feel about guns of the non-hunting variety. I’m fine with hunting, not slaughter.

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February 17, 2015

Ellen/Reid: There’s a skiff of snow on top of some black ice this morning which makes tooling around here relatively treacherous. The weather is only going to deteriorate throughout the week with the lows in the single digits. That’s pretty numbing in these parts when the average high is supposed to be in the mid 50s. On the way back from Charleston last night it was pretty daunting on I-26 once we got to about 60 miles from Charlotte. The temps dropped into mid 20s. All those years of driving in the Midwest paid off. Tom and I made it back while folks with no clue how to drive or take their sweet time were spinning out or moving like snails behind salt trucks. We went steadily along at about about 25-30 MPH the final 20 or so miles and got through in one piece.

The only thing caught on this fishing trip was this photo of my friend Tom. We got skunked, pure and simple. But he wants to go back once the weather thaws.

The only thing caught on this fishing trip was this photo of my friend Tom. We got skunked, pure and simple. But he wants to go back once the weather thaws.

I’m done kayak fishing until the water warms up in late March or April. Tom and I paid a guide yesterday and none of us got a bite, not even at The Barge. The water temperature was only 37F and the fish were in a stupor. Not even our good guide, Captain Tripp, caught anything. The wind was whipping and the air temps barely reached the upper 30s. Our anchors wouldn’t hold which made things that much more frustrating. We bagged it with an hour to go (at my suggestion since I was frozen) and drove home. Tom was a sport about it and we’ll go again, but I was so disappointed he didn’t catch anything because he worked hard at it. We knew the reds might be lethargic, so it wasn’t entirely a surprise.

The arm came through it just fine. I wrapped it tight as a precaution but there were no issues with paddling. We’ll never know what a big fish might have done to it. The stitches came out so quickly and so simply – the nurse practitioner pulled them out with tweezers – I asked her why they just couldn’t have walked me through the process over the phone. That was joke of course, but literally it wasn’t 1-2 minutes from start to finish. I hit a couple of easy iron shots on Saturday when I walked nine holes with my friends and it felt good. The green light on full activity is March 1.

The feeder at the kitchen window this morning was empty and no birds could be seen. The wind blows out all the hulls. But no sooner had I filled it with black oil sunflower and shut the window than the first cardinals paid a visit. The sound of the window must be like a dinner bell to the birds because they instantly come for their share of the bounty. With this bitter cold they need the nourishment so it will be kept full throughout the day.

We had a terrible shooting of three civic-minded Muslim students in Chapel Hill last week. The alleged shooter/whack job had something like 15 guns in his apartment. The poor kids didn’t stand a chance. I don’t know why we have this morbid preoccupation with guns. Our death rate by firearms remains 20 times higher than that of the next developed nation. 20 times. I just don’t get it. There was an op-ed in the Observer the other week by some nutcase who objects to our local grocery store, Harris Teeter, considering a ban on his open carry in their stores. He’s all concerned about readiness. Readiness for what? Someone’s going to hurl a head of iceberg lettuce at him in the produce aisle? Now that’s a shooting offense. (I suggest morons like him be ever more vigilant about what’s going on over in the wine/beer aisle. Rumor has it some of the gray hairs over there get pretty out of hand during tastings.) The incident over at UNC had anti-Muslim overtones and we don’t do a very good job of differentiating between Muslims and radicals like ISIS. We paint them, as they do Americans, with the same broad brush. It’s not a very sensible way for either side to live.

Love, Dad

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It could be a teaching moment …


We double dip today with two letters after the return of one week’s worth of envelopes for non-postage. Chalk it up to ‘operator error.’ I’d like to think that won’t happen again, but hey, I am aging. On the bright side, it could be a teaching moment for my course on letter writing at Central Piedmont Community College.

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February 2, 2015

Ellen/Reid: The Super Bowl is over so we collectively breathe again. I wasn’t especially jazzed about watching it last night. Must be some form of football fatigue. At least the Big Game was close for a change.

The pathology report is due today or tomorrow. Again, you’ll know things way before this letter arrives at your doorstep. The surgery wasn’t quite what was expected. I envisioned an operating room type setting but instead in an upright chair as the surgeon’s assistant marked the excision boundaries in purple ink then pumped my arm full of Linocaine, a local anesthetic, to deaden things up. She poked me a few times with the needle when I wasn’t watching to see if the liquid took hold. It worked well and worked fast. The surgeon, Dr. Smith, came in and got right to it. He reviewed the initial dermatologist report line-by-line and he was quite positive about the outcome (barring any untoward comments from the pathologist). In the space of 10 minutes he carved out a silver dollar sized circle all the way down to the muscle and plopped the orb into a bottle to send to the lab. He talked me all the way through what he was doing and why. It was morbidly fascinating, and the assistant even took a few shots with my phone. You got one of the mid-surgery shots, Reid, and you both got a look at the scar. Most of Dr. Smith’s time was spent sewing up the wound with two layers of stitches. One stays put, the other will come out next Monday. I don’t know why I envisioned a longish opening rather than a circle. When he used a test stitch to draw together the circle, it puckered up on both ends, which he called dog ears. He lopped those off with his scalpel and finished the procedure. He sat with me for a little while to answer any residual questions and offered last minute assurances then he was off to the next patient. I’m not supposed to lift anything heavy for the next few weeks to keep pressure off the incision. Not sure when I can golf again, maybe 4-5 weeks, but I’ll ease my way back into things.

I overdid it a little bit on Saturday. Without golf, I had to invent something to do so built a bench in the garage for my tools and to stow my fishing stuff.

In hindsight, 'measure twice, cut once' is a good rule to live by when you build something.

In hindsight, ‘measure twice, cut once’ is a good rule to live by when you build something.

It took me virtually all day, with a couple of trips to Lowes in there, to finish the beast. But at least things are now off the floor. Ready-made shelving might have been cheaper and quicker to install but it was cathartic to break out the saws and drills.

If Dr. Smith clears me for heavier activity, I’m hopeful to head back to Charleston in a couple of weeks to fish. My boat won’t make the trip since the prohibition against lifting heavy objects will still be in place and will instead rent a fishing kayak and lightly paddle my way around the Intracoastal. My frozen Continue reading

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My vote: get on with things …


Tomorrow is the big day; Ellen and Reid will know of things early on. I suppose one aspect of a letter is to put things ‘out there’ and in some ways it’s easier to put ideas on paper than it might be in words.

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January 20, 2015

Ellen/Reid: To judge by the photo of you and Emma lounging in the pool with the Sea of Cortez behind you, Ellen, you got precisely what you wanted on the trip to Mexico. Reid, I assume you were out of camera range with a cold adult beverage in your hand. Of course, I need to hear all about the details, so don’t be too sparing about things.

It truly was a cathartic trip for me. I left behind the events of the last 10 days by hitting the road on Thursday night and sleeping when I got tired at various rest stops all along the way. You’d be surprised at how hard I zonked out. It was amazing. I can’t recall ever doing such an overnight drive. Dave and I had a good time in Florida. The weather was warm, sunny and pleasant. The Camry rolled into Dave’s place about 10 a.m. I was refreshed and ready to go. We headed to his boat club to fish the Intracoastal but all we caught on our frozen shrimp were a few small pufferfish type things. The next morning we didn’t get on the water with the other kayakers, and as noted before, that was really no big deal. We did make it to the Captain’s party, which was great fun. There are one hell of a lot of serious kayak fishermen.

My little kayak seems dorky compared to what real fishermen bring to the water's edge. They sink some serious jack into their boats; fish finders, GoPros, live wells, weather radars and other expensive doo-dads. But it works.

My little sparsely-outfitted kayak seems dorky compared to what real fishermen bring to the water’s edge. They sink some serious jack into their boats; fish finders, GoPros, live wells, weather radars and other expensive doo-dads. But it works.

You only had to go to the morning launch of the tournament. I mean, my rig is elementary (and far less costly) than the elaborate outfits we saw, from kayaks sporting live wells, two GoPro cameras, technology from depth indicators to fish finders, to other assorted – and expensive – gizmos. Our boats are naked compared to those. Maybe that’s why they catch fish and we don’t. On Sunday we ventured out into deep water, but aside from one strong jolt, we didn’t have any luck. We did intersect the small flotilla of kayakers. One guy was from Charlotte, and he’d landed the only sailfish among the group on Sunday. If his catch stood, he’d bank the $3,000 first place check. Dave and I weren’t entirely skunked; in the small pond out behind his house we caught a big 7 lb. bowfin, which is an ancient fish and highly edible although we allowed it to go free. But we agreed it was still great fun, and we’ll return next year to the Smackdown as bona fide entrants. I did buy some swordfish at the market this morning in observance of the tournament.

The intent was to make it home ASAP on Monday, but when I was about to drive past the exit to Beaufort, South Carolina, the car made a sudden veer to the right and headed down Routes 17 and 21 in search of a place on the Intracoastal. I put in at Gray’s Hill Landing and paddled around for a few hours but didn’t land anything. It was some solace that three boats of locals didn’t report a single bite either. It felt like one of my better forays in terms of technique and baits and presentation. There were just no bites.

My surgery is a week from today. The more I read, the more hopeful I become although I’m sure part of that is wishful thinking. Depth seems to be a big deal, and given the nickel-sized chunk of my right forearm removed during the ‘scoop’ biopsy, it’s no wonder the dermatologist wondered aloud if that procedure got all of it. She may get a call from me to reiterate what she told me just so I’m on the same page with her and the surgeon. His resume looks to be pretty extensive so that’s where my trust will go. One of the reasons I went down to Florida, and later kayak near Beaufort, was because I can either mope and whine, or get on with things. The latter seems much more preferable. If/when the surgery gets the ‘clear margins’ the docs and the literature talk about, then we’ll celebrate in style. I’ll head back down to ‘The Barge’ and fish with cut bait, Reid, like our new acquaintance Ryan. There won’t be any leaving without something on the stringer, and it won’t be small fry. We’ll come home with the real thing.

Love, Dad

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