Tag Archives: Minnesota

To every season, turn, turn turn …

“To every season, turn, turn, turn” sang the Byrds and that seems to be the theme of the past few weeks if not months. You pick up the pieces and move on, and if you’re lucky it’s onward and upward.


September 15, 2015

Ellen/Reid: It’s a good thing Emma and her sister don’t get a look at their grandfather just now. They’d scream and run the other way (at least Georgia might try to crawl). The left side of my face looks like I got blind sided by Mike Tyson. My left eye is completely shut and the cheek is swollen all the way to my jaw. But this is as the surgeon predicted and it’s just one of the by-products of the process. It’ll go away soon enough, one would hope. Icing a few minutes each hour seems to help somewhat.

Your dad really got off lucky. The ordeal began at 7:15 – I went in truly confident – and my room was reserved until 4 p.m. (they scrape and test and each pathology test takes about 45 minutes) but after the first go-round they said the margins were clear and they’d sew me up. That lightened the mood considerably. I told the surgeon and his assistant they had a nice bedside manner.

This is what passes for out patient surgery style these days: a butt ugly gown and an old pair of Rod Laver shoes.

This is what passes for out patient surgery style these days: a butt ugly gown and an old pair of Rod Laver shoes.

There are 10 stitches under the surface and 15 on the top. These are the dissolvable kind so no need to go back in to have the sutures removed. At least Tim could remove yours, Ellen. When I left the office about 9:15 I could see people who weren’t quite so fortunate. There but for the grace of God go I.

There will be a lasting 1.5” scar that the doc said might take eight to 12 months to truly subside but will always remain visible and that’s okay. It’ll just add a little experience to my face. He suggested I could tell people it was the result of a bar room brawl but no one would believe it. Next up is the bruising but that should go away in due time, too. I have a golf buddy, Doug, who’s been through this very recently and his counsel and support has been great to have. If nothing else, it just means you need to slather Emma and Georgia with sunscreen (this goes for you, too, Reid) from here on out. There’s hell to pay for sun during your formative years.

So, Ellen, you guys are thinking about building? Your grandfather would be proud since he was a huge proponent of that. But be sure to take patience pills since it’s a gigantic stressor from start to finish. Building from scratch was never in the cards for me but Continue reading


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Time, distance – and the compounding effect of life …

Yeah, I know there are trains, planes and automobiles that can narrow the distance between Ellen, Reid and their dad. The distance is still great, however, and somehow the rest of life gets in the way and its compounding effect lengthens what is already a long way. You look at the calendar to search for dates and times – none of which, however, can ever arrive soon enough.


September 8, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Man, the Labor Day weekend in Minnesota went so fast. It’s tough to think that the next time I see the girls they will have changed even more. It’s depressing in a way, you guys there and me here but that’s the hand we’ve been dealt. Reid, you are next up in Chicago. I’m years overdue there. And you can forget mixing me another vodka tonic. I’ll have the good sense to at least add some tonic. Holy cow, my head was buzzing/throbbing/aching early Sunday morning. I waltzed out of bed – can an air mattress really be a bed? – about 5:30 a.m. and needed to walk the cobwebs off. You and Liz really did a nice job on the dinner. That’s a lot of pressure for you guys; pleasing us finicky eaters, plus Liz’ parents and doing it all when you know Emma and Georgia are on a short leash time-wise.

Sweet Georgia gets her beauty sleep, although she doesn't need it.

Sweet little Georgia gets her beauty sleep, although the already pretty girl doesn’t need it.

But the food was great. You just have to watch out for V&Ts. Tasty but do they ever pack a wallop. Ellen, the picture of Emma and her papa munching pre-dinner ice cream was just too much. Hey, a kid has to have ice cream now and then. She was good as gold that night in Stillwater. That would be a nice community for you and Tim to call home, and I hope something pops up in the not-too-distant future. Nothing wrong with St. Paul, in fact far from it, but that would be a good situation for you and the girls. Those garden tomatoes were divine. Why we didn’t run out for some bacon for BLTs still escapes me. Why didn’t I stow a few of those babies in my carry on?

As for the golf on Monday, it was just plain awful. You really can’t play ambivalent golf and expect to do very well. The game just doesn’t allow it. My head and heart just weren’t into it, and that’s been the case more and more as of late.

Not really stewing about surgery next Monday. It is what it is. You’ll be the first to know about the outcome. Confidence is pretty high.

The bike goes on Craigs List this week. We’ll see how it goes. It has only 8,300 miles which is hardly broken in by Harley standards. It was the last year of the leather bags which was a huge mistake on Harley Davidson’s part. Now all the saddle bags are plastic junk. Trying to come up with a suitable photo for it. This might not be the optimal time of year to Continue reading

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Staying the hell out of the way…

I don’t get the kids down here to Charlotte all that much, what with their lives and goings on. That’s what the experts probably advise: prepare them as best you can then stay the hell out of the way. So I go to them and that works just fine. It makes when we do manage to get together all that much better. The brood is in good order. I saw that first-hand last week in St. Paul, MN.


May 12, 2014

Ellen/Reid: What I do know after this past weekend is that I will return – today – to the semi-vegan diet that was totally abandoned while around you guys. But it was the sort of weekend you wouldn’t have any other way. It was totally fun and now we can put a wrap on three consecutive weekends of Emma’s birthday celebrations. She had to be on complete sensory overload what with all the people and all the stuff. Her grandfather met his sugar quota for at least the next year. Geez. That was a lot of sweets, much of it admittedly self induced. But a few days in a row isn’t that bad. Here’s to hoping we can all return to a dietary routine.

Ellen and Reid above the St. Croix River just across from  Minnesota. This is what they've become - good adults and good people.

Ellen and Reid above the St. Croix River just across from Minnesota. This is what they’ve become – good adults and even better people.

One thing is for certain, the steaks that Donna and Tom grilled to perfection are not the sort you can find in the South. Those were incredible. Nothing like Midwestern beef. Saturday night was just great fun, and their cabin was beyond belief. This morning I’ll call the wine shop that’s close to them and send them some sort of gift certificate on our joint behalf for whatever wines they normally consume, which would seem to be pinot noir. It was so gracious of them to let me crash at their house. About the only time I had to talk to them, and that was with Tom because he nearly rivaled me in getting up at the crack of dawn, was in the morning since I was hitting the sack so early.

Ellen and Tim are the best of couples - and parents.

Ellen and Tim are the best of couples – and parents.

Emma has just grown and progressed so much even since Thanksgiving. It was such a contrast from then to now. Sure, she’s just two but she’s putting away her toys and being responsible, mostly, much of the time. She’s just a good little girl. It was marv to see Kristin and Jeff. It hadn’t been since the wedding. Kristin seems happy with Delsin, who seems like a really good guy, and Jeff seems relieved to have graduate school over and done with. He seems to like the Twin Cities and I hope he finds the right sort of job.

Boy, you guys sure have good dirt up there. Thanks for letting me plow asunder some of the garden and do a little planting. Other than the weekend Emma was born, that’s really the first time my hands have gotten dirty by handling soil. If only I had a small garden plot to tend to. That would be complete nirvana. A few seeds here and there, plus pulling a few weeds, would be a total joy. A space smaller than the one you have would suit me just fine. Nice to see the raspberries coming up again. That’s the one perennial I wish could be grown down here.

Emma wasn't all that sold on a tram ride down to the St. Croix. Tim's arms seemed to take care of any qualms she had.

Emma wasn’t all that sold on a tram ride down to the St. Croix. Tim’s arms seemed to take care of any qualms she had.

The flight home was pretty uneventful. I hit a jackpot of sorts in that there was a vacant center seat between me and the adjacent passenger. That really was a bonus in today’s age of jam-packed, sardine-ish seating and flights. Got home early and was immediately greeted by heat in the upper 80s. Not that it was oppressive but it was just warm compared to Minnesota. My intent was to walk but I ended up on the couch and closed the evening with Game of Thrones. I don’t think this season is quite as gripping as the others before it.

There was a crush of emails when I logged on this morning about 6:00. But those are all sorted or disposed of by now and it’s back to the work routine. Thanks again for this past weekend. The one thing it bolsters is that there aren’t enough of those long weekends. I’ll continue in my quest to get you guys down here at some point yet this year, so keep me in mind if you have a few spare days.

Love, Dad

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A walk in the dark and a hoot owl…

Time does fly by; I was wondering this morning what year Ellen first went to college because that’s when she got her first weekly letter 13 or 14 years ago. If I was into pain, I could always look at the tuition receipts to verify the year.


October 15, 2013

Ellen/Reid: The leaves around here have determined their growing season has been long enough; and en masse they’ve decided to fall of their own volition regardless of color. As I look out the back window, most are still some shade of green, meaning they have some ways to go before they would really have to give up the ghost. But they’re falling anyway. As least I don’t have to rake them up. It brings back memories of burning sycamore and oak leaves in a huge, smoldering pile in the driveway on Polk Blvd., Ellen, when you were just a peanut and it was still allowable to clog the air with smoke.

My green belt is beginning to shed the green veil of leaves that block from view all that is behind it. The leaves don't care about pronouncements about a change of season; they're dropping anyway.

My green belt is beginning to shed the green veil of leaves that block from view all that is behind it. The leaves don’t care about pronouncements about a change of season; they’re dropping anyway.

It means my Saturday and Sunday walks start in the dark at 6:30 a.m., and now I’ve taken to wearing a jacket as I walk my path. The coffee helps but it would be nice if it were lighter sooner. I had only gone a few hundred yards this past Saturday when I heard Continue reading

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Get ready to rumble…

One week you’re prepping for vacation. The week after, you’re wondering where the hell the time went. So it goes. The letter here was the final get-ready-to-rumble note to Ellen and Reid as preparations finalized for the ride along the Washington-Oregon coast. More copy and pics next week.


July 8, 2013

Ellen/Reid: It doesn’t look as if much has changed up in Cass Lake; people still having fun in and around the water and the mosquitoes don’t seem to have abated much. Emma did look so happy to be up there. But that picture of the spider on the door frame – a wolf spider, as near as can be determined – was something else. That was a thing of monster movies. It has to be unbelievably voracious. You don’t get that hideously huge by nibbling on gnats.

The Heritage Softail at Eastside Harley Davidson in Bellevue, WA. seven days and 1,452 miles, it was returned to the same spot.

The Heritage Softail at Eastside Harley Davidson in Bellevue, WA. Not as Harley-ish loud as some Vance & Hines pipes, but seven days and 1,452 miles later, it was returned to the same spot.

Reid, I’m sorry I didn’t get to talk to you on your birthday. Minnesota isn’t such a bad place to be on the 4th, and the 5th will always be tied to that holiday. Here’s a little something for you to either semi-splurge on yourself or take Liz to a nice dinner. You have to tell me how you and Tim did on the rivers. How come we never trout fished up there?

There was a big sigh of relief around here on Monday. Oddly, I wasn’t sweating that as much as the test itself. No other follow ups, no checkups, Continue reading

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One final marathon

Okay, this is the last marathon photo you’ll see. I promise.

That’s because there are no more marathon photos. This shot was on the front of the sports page of the Des Moines Register in April 1982. You can see the photo editor’s crop marks. The race was the Drake Marathon, and

My last hurrah as a marathoner. Drake was a fun race because I got to run alongside my good friend Shane Dooley (a sure fire sub-2:20 guy if not for his crushing work schedule). We got beat by a drum but it was a good way to go out. It was my last competitive race.

My last hurrah as a marathoner. Drake was a fun race because I got to run alongside my good friend Shane Dooley (a sure fire sub-2:20 guy if not for his crushing work schedule). We got beat like a bass drum but it was a good way to go out even if the 2:20 mark remained elusive – again. It was my last competitive race.

it was mercifully my last marathon since my ankles were rapidly losing their enthusiasm for running at any distance. That’s me, #628. My good buddy Shane Dooley is 664. The guy who won the race, Pat McGuire, is in the bandana to my left. Pat tossed in a 4:50 mile from 16 to 17 and that broke Shane and I like twigs. Shane was 4th in 2:24 and I hobbled home in 5th in 2:25.


April 22, 2013

Ellen/Reid: It was bizarre writing last week’s letter about the Boston Marathon, and no sooner were things in the mailbox than the news hit about the explosions. I don’t suppose that I would have started over if the letters hadn’t been sent. It’s just the way it works sometimes. Two women from Charlotte were there to watch their mother finish the race and were in the wrong place Continue reading

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Emma’s Garden…

So, Emma has tomatoes.

On May 5, the day after she was born, her Gramps used a spade to turn over the good, dark Minnesota earth to form Emma’s Garden, a smallish 10′ x 6′ plot of very black dirt.  Into the ground went cilatro, romaine lettuce, peppers, basil, flowers, and red raspberries.  And a single tomato plant.

Emma’s mom shows off State Fair-quality tomatoes on her kitchen counter. A garden is a good thing. Such good soil in Minnesota would be a terrible thing to waste.

A few months later, and thanks to a corker of a Midwestern heat wave, Emma’s plant is producing in quantities I can only dream about.

The rush to build a garden actually springs from Emma’s great grandfatherwho cultivated a garden well into his 80s.   Toward the end as his tillable plot grew smaller and smaller, tomatoes and raspberries were about all he had the energy to tend to.  But he loved the soil and his deep forest-green thumb rubbed off on me, although mine more closely resembles a pale lime green.  Maybe the deeper shade will take hold again in Emma’s mom.

My tomatoes are dwarfed by Emma’s. When I equate them to golf balls, I’m not kidding. I’ve seen bigger hailstones.

Perhaps one day in Reid, too.  Ellen even mentioned expanding the modest-sized chunk of dirt and edible plants next year.  When they were not much older than Emma is now, I vividly recall Ellen and Reid rooted at the Sugar Snap pea and Heritage raspberry plants in our garden.  Very little of those two items ever made it to the kitchen.  But there are far worse things than watching kids gobble up stringless peas and red raspberries.

I suppose a garden is something of an environmental statement which my letters have preached about on more than one occasion.  Ellen and Tim no doubt went more of an organic bend than my enduring reliance on Miracle-Gro.  The larger lesson might be that there’s nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty.  Hopefully, Emma will wash hers off, unlike her granddad.

Here’s what Ellen and Reid found in their mailboxes last week.


August 20, 2012

Ellen/Reid: So I think we have the holiday situation kind of, sort of worked out.  Ellen, you and Tim are not opposed to coming down here for early T-Day, November 15-18?  That is great.  Reid, you will be here for Christmas, correct?  Your tickets are on me.  I’m still not sure of my plans for the official Thanksgiving and should know about that in short order.  St. Paul sounds doable.  You truly have something to be thankful for.  Maybe Thanksgiving should be May 4.

Last Wednesday the 15th marked my sixth year in Charlotte.  Incredible.  It just does not seem at all possible.  It seems just yesterday I was in Des Moines, and then the upheaval.  If you would’ve asked me five or six years ago (and no one has) for my impressions of the new surroundings, it would’ve been tempting to say ‘send me home’ and that would’ve been that.  But time has a way of leveling the bumps out across the job and social spectrum and now this is home for all intents and purposes.  A little too politically conservative on a lot of fronts, but that is the price to be paid for accepting the role here as an intruder.  Felicia has made a big difference, too.  Since I can work anywhere, there would’ve been a possibility of bolting for the old pastures.  But this is it and its okay.  I would like to get back to Des Moines with more frequency, but it’s hard.

Don’t hold me to it, but I’m thinking of parting with the Harley.  For whatever reason, my balance very recently isn’t what it used to be, and to navigate with a heavy beast like that takes that ability.  Perhaps it is the ribs (which feel the torque on certain turns) but something is different about riding it right now.  Even as recently as a few months ago there was some thought given to a Road King, but that’s been tabled for the time being.  There is always the off chance the next pleasant ride on the next nice weekend day will change my mind.  I hope it does because there is nothing like cruising.

Mike Hill put his dog Buddy to sleep a couple of weeks ago.  Mike posted some poignant videos of Buddy’s last meal on his Facebook page, and you should look that up.  Reminded me of our last days with Scooter.  It’s a dose of reality.

My A/C wasn’t totally on the blink after all.  Apparently all it needed was a new “board” in the upstairs unit – I don’t totally get all the technical gymnastics about it – but the board was about the size of an iPad and cost just as much, too.  So now there is at least cool air circulating in place of the hot, humid air that kept me away at night.  Just another unexpected expense.

Reid, you could do worse than a cruise line as a new client.  That sounds like a lot of fun, and they advertise a fair amount.  I’ll have to start watching for their plugs on the web, which I am sure you will do a good job of promoting and tracking.  I’ll make an exception and declare right now that their Internet ads won’t be the invasive kind.  I’m glad your mom got to get to Chicago to survey the new living arrangements and such.  I’d like us to get up there in short order, too.  Keep me posted as to your availability.   FYI…even a group like Fish makes a stop in the boondocks every once in a while.  They visit here in the next couple of weeks or something like that.  I still remember hauling you and a vanload of your boys to KC to a summer concert and being sold a total bill of goods as to when the concert started and, more importantly, when it would end.

Speaking of ending, that’s it for today.  Let’s really nail down the holiday plans so I can get tickets while they are still getable.  It would be great to have you all down here.  I’ll notify the cleaning service to do their thing just before you arrive.

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