Tag Archives: Pinehurst North Carolina

Thankful? Let me count the ways…


I'm thankful for golf too, even though my golf group mocked my concession speech after my team got whipped last Saturday (after I had boldly predicted victory). It was all in good fun.

Tomorrow I jet, U.S. Airways willing, to Minneapolis-St. Paul to break bread and sup with Ellen, Reid, Tim and last but not least, Henry.

A retrospective of 2011 and all that has gone in it would not be complete without a word of thanks at Ellen’s Thursday table, sure to have her usual flair while the boys dig in.  Events notwithstanding, there is plenty to be thankful for; Ellen and Tim’s good news, Reid getting on in Chicago, health, friends here and elsewhere, and good times closer to home in Charlotte.

Maybe I’m just getting older but times like this week take on increased importance.  Seeing the kids at their grandmother’s funeral doesn’t count; it’s when we get together to laugh, be spontaneous (relatively so) and bask in what’s going on in their lives is what matters most.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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November 14, 2011

Ellen/Reid: Every once in a while I’m reminded why I like my neighborhood so much.  Not that it has fancy homes or any of that.  It’s the quiet that is so lovely.  I went over to the mailbox to retrieve a week’s worth of mail, and the air was very still, and you could hear someone practicing the flute in one of the nearby townhomes.  I couldn’t tell which unit, but for some reason it struck me as very nice in a neighborhood that is sandwiched between the hustle and bustle of big streets and heavy traffic.  Whoever was doing the playing was pretty good.  I stood there for a moment to listen to it.  It was just very pleasant.

Well, the Three Daves (Hemminger and Dahlquist) and Bob (Furstenau) have come and gone.  We really had a great time.  We went over toward Pinehurst on Friday and played golf at a course near there, and then we played Pinehurst #2 on Saturday.  That’s the famous course that hosts the U.S. Open.  The morning started cold, but not overly so, then it warmed very quickly into a beautiful, windless day under a Carolina blue sky.  Not that we brought the course to its knees, but we had a great walk with caddies doing the heavy lifting.  That was fun.  We all hit some memorable shots.  It is an incredible course that’s been around for more than 100 years.  The greens are the toughest I’ve ever played.  The surfaces are crowned so the ball rolls off into bunkers or waste areas.  As you could guess, our accuracy was lacking so we spent a lot of time chipping and putting off the surface.  Reid, I’d love for you to get your game in shape so we could trundle over there.

I suppose the real joy was simply seeing those guys again.  Golf is kind of secondary and is basically the facilitator of the long weekend.  Really, they are a tangible tie to what once was up there.  A couple of nights after good dinners we sat out on the front stoop drinking wine, puffing on the occasional cigar that Dave. D. brought to town, and just shooting the breeze and BS.  We wrapped it up Saturday night at 1 a.m. so I hope the neighbors didn’t mind too much.  It’s not like I’m out there whooping it up like that every weekend.  It was good to hear what they’re each up to, and they’ve all been quite successful.  We avowed to do the same thing again next year, and it’s Bob’s job to figure out when and where.  They all met Felicia and she passed inspection with flying colors.  In some ways I wonder what it would be like to live back in Iowa where I could be around all these old buddies, but with each passing month, my stake is driven a little deeper into the Piedmont.  It’s not the nice weather, it’s just that I am now here for whatever that is worth.  It’s certainly not the politics.  It’s just that I am now here.  I miss my friends, but as someone said, that’s why they make airplanes.  No doubt I’ll figure out a way to get back up that way in the spring.

I won’t grind you guys down with another letter next week since we’ll gather in Minnesota.  I can’t wait to be there and see you guys and cook.  Tell Henry I’ll bring my walking shoes, mittens and a stocking cap.

Went to the gym tonight before we walked around the block.  There are wall to wall mirrors next to the elliptical machine, and my threat is to cover the mirrors with paper so as not to see what I don’t want to see if you catch my drift.  Ugh.  There are a lot of spare pounds to drop between now and whenever.  At least I don’t bake Christmas cookies like your grandmother did.  That would really slap on the pounds.  Each cookie would be worth 10 minutes on the machine.

Okay, I’m out of here.  Chicken and potatoes are baking in the oven and there’s laundry to be done from the boy’s weekend.  Geez, in about a week we’ll all be together.  I can’t wait.

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Are they really in their mid to upper 20s?…


Ellen calls Henry and Tim "my boys." A couple of good guys.

I am rarely on top of my game in anything; golf, weight loss, disciplined diet, stock picks, reading, etc.  To that abbreviated list you can add the all-too-late realization that the kids have quickly passed me by.

Reid to IndiaEllen with her own exciting news.  Lives in Chicago and St. Paul (MN).  A marriage, a girl friend, careers, a dog plus whatever else marks their ascendency into adulthood.  Are they really in their mid to upper 20s?

Generations of parents before us warned that parenting never stops.  We’re just the latest to acknowledge as much.  Closer to the truth might be that their mother and I are now relegated to more of advisory roles than simply being rule-the-roost parents.  They ask, we advise.  We are more peers than parents/children.  Perhaps we should be satisfied with where they are and how they got there and leave it at that.  It does give me pause about the habitual persistence in my weekly writing.  Do they really need to read stuff they already may know about given all they’ve got going on?

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November 1, 2011

Ellen/Reid: Monday just totally got away from me; sat down at the work PC about 6:30 a.m. and called it a day about 5:45 (with a couple of breaks tossed in).  So this is created Tuesday morning after my first round of work duties is finished.

Again, no trick or treaters at the door last night.  That is the fifth straight year where not a single piece of candy was dispersed.  I suppose it would help if I turned on the porch light.  Then again, there are no kids in my neighborhood and the unit is tucked deep in the back of the development.  Besides, I’d eat most of the candy before the kids would ever get here.  I’d give them cheap suckers that no one wants.  Betsy sent me a photo of their bear dressed as Frankenstein, and she said they had a horde of kids.  If she had a $1 for every photo of kids posing with the bear, she’d be rich.  Ellen, it sounded great to hear your little neighbors show you their costumes.  In your neighborhood, you’d be flooded with kiddos, too.

Reid, I think you should head to India.  Ellen said as much last night, too.  You know, there will be times in life when you won’t be able to do such travel, and might as well get it done while you’re still young, footloose and fancy free and can afford it.  $2,000 seems like a pretty reasonable deal.  Ever since “Slumdog Millionaire” came out, that has been one of the spots that would have some appeal.  It just looks different, and interesting.  The bank subs out (“off-shoring” it’s called) a lot of work over there, and they seem very nice, smart, and accommodating.  So yes, pack your bags and get over there.  The dress code would be pretty laid back, and make sure you take clothes that you can rinse, dry and wear.  Make sure you give yourself enough time to get your passport and shots updated.  That sounds like an inordinate amount of fun.

Ellen, your little windfall should help in your new circumstances.  That would pay for a second bath and some other remodeling.  All you’d do is add to the value of your house beyond what you already added with the spiffy new kitchen.  So yes, start those upgrades.  Unfortunately, it won’t happen before my arrival for T-Day but that’s okay.  There’s always the next time, say, in May of 2012.  I think it’s really what your grandparents intended for you (and you, too, Reid) and that is to do some remodeling and start some sort of nest egg or college fund.  It’s not a gigantic cushion, but it is a good use of the assets and comes at precisely the right time for you.  That’s cool.  Hard to believe it’s already been a shade over one month.  That’ll take some getting used to but memories would seem to be the best part.  Your uncle has done a nice job of keeping things in place and on track.

More moving and shaking at work.  Folks shifted from one division to another.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  I don’t know, it’s just the corporate world in action.  It keeps everyone on their toes, or more precisely, their tippy tip toes.  This debit card thing weighs on us, although it’s not as dire as a lot of folks would have it.  I wouldn’t know what to do without bill pay and other bells and whistles like that.  I don’t mean to come off sounding like a shill but there are plenty of good things we do.  It’ll cost us some customers although what the final number is is anyone’s guess.

Next week, Bob Furstenau, Dave Dahlquist and Dave Hemminger are here.  We head over toward Pinehurst on the 10th.  I can’t wait.  Dave H. drove through Charlotte last week as he and Jane took Will and Ellen on a tour of colleges in North and South Carolina and TennesseeFurman and Elon were on the list.  They were moving so fast they couldn’t stop by, which is fine.  I’m glad your college tour days have come and gone.  Remember 114F at KU, Ellen?

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A period of relative calm…


Henry the Conehead is a picture of absolute despair. Ellen says he'd otherwise nibble at a wound on his paw. Poor guy.

Not a whole lot has changed in any of our situations; mom is the same (good), Ellen and Reid are getting on with things (more good) and the bank continues a drip-drip-drip process to condition employees for the inevitable before it lowers the job-cutting boom (not so good).  All in all, it is a period of relative calm.  Still, we three have our own brand of hurricane season.  Hanging over our heads is the omnipresent threat of heavy weather blowing in.  You know it will happen, you just don’t know when and with what force.

Caught in the calm was last week’s letter.  It reverted to the letters of old (before what is known as the “Betsy Admonition” to make the letters more meaty with less fluff so as to keep her – and anyone else’s – attention).  Fluff was apparently in vogue last week.

Of note was the decision by my boys in Des Moines – Bob, Dave 1 and Dave 2 (I am Dave 3) – to make a courtesy trip to CLT.  As with Coeur d’ Alene last September, we will reconvene for golf and wine although not necessarily in that order.  Last year was something of a sympathy tour for them in terms of me (I will give them their due credit: they ponied up for virtually all the expenses) but this time is more of a guy’s trip where we’re all on more-or-less equal footing.  As Dave 3 has told chief organizer Dave 1, the caveat is how and when events will unfold in the Midwest.  That could derail the best laid plans.

As for next week’s letter, hopefully it will be de-fluffed sufficiently to meet the “Betsy” standard.

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September 12, 2011

Ellen/Reid: Now, the last few days of weather here are what North Carolina is all about.  Sunny and warm, but not too hot, beautiful evenings with low humidity.  If the state Chamber of Commerce wants to tout nice weather as an enticement to those wanting to relocate to the South, they can start with this past weekend.

Haven’t heard from your uncle in the past couple of days which I take for a sign that nothing much has changed for your grandmother.  It’s good if she appears to be holding her own.  She’s always been a fighter.  My friend John at Caldwell has asked me about her situation regularly.  He’s very good about that.  Several others there have commented, too.  I suppose that just shows the relatively small size of the church community.

Apparently there will be reprise of the trip to Coeur d’Alene from last fall.  Bob Furstenau, Dave Hemminger and Dave Dahlquist will come down to visit Bradley Acres here in Charlotte in early November for a four day weekend, and we will drink wine, tell stories, and venture over to Pinehurst to play course #2, the track where the U.S. Open has been held and will be held again in a couple of years.  We will use caddies, which is always fun.  Pat D. still does a land-office photo business with Pinehurst so it will be fun to walk in the Pro Shop and see the work on display.  We’ll play another course over that way on Friday, drink more wine on an overnight stay in Pinehurst, get up to a hearty breakfast and Advil and then play #2 on Saturday morning before resurfacing in Charlotte.  This time Jane is relieved of any planning duties.  It’s on the broad shoulders of the rest of us.  It’s nice of those guys to want to come down for a long weekend, given the hectic pace of their working lives.  That doesn’t apply so much to Dave H. as he spends lots of time down on his farm in southern Iowa.  I think Bob is gearing up for retirement.  He uses all his vacation time to good advantage; motorcycle rides through the Rockies and just this week, a golf escapade in Scotland.  I think Gordie is on that trip but I’m not altogether sure about that.  Lucky stiffs.

Looks like my next college teaching gig on writing for newspapers may fall through.  Doesn’t look like we will reach the minimum number of attendees (which is only seven or eight or something like that).  For some reason I thought the attendance would be very good but that’s not the case.  I was actually pretty excited about teaching this course.  Given that newspapers are falling through the floor, maybe budding writers can read the tea leafs and see there aren’t many newspaper jobs.  Perhaps, too, it should be renamed “News Writing.”  That way, we can cover print, online and broadcast.  As Felicia says, “We’ll see.”  Hopefully the college will give me another crack at it.

Felicia is out on the Outer Banks this week with some of her past cronies from Shelby and other North Carolina cities.  After the summer she’s had, she deserves the R&R.  As far as can be told, they are riding bikes, walking, and drinking wine.

Reid, I’m sorry to err in not booking our Thanksgiving flight arrivals closer together.  That was totally boneheaded on my part.  I had the chance to make things uber convenient and blew it.  Since you get in earlier than me, and Ellen, if you’ll indulge him, you could get picked first at noon and then come back to pick up your old man at 4:33 on U.S. Airways.  I’m really excited for the T-Day trip and to have something to look forward to.  As much as I grouse about not wanting to travel anymore, it’s one trip I’m looking forward to.

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I’ve become a Charlottean…


Henry (hoping for scraps no doubt) in Ellen and Tim's new kitchen. If Ellen and Tim wanted to visit Charlotte, they could bring Henry and he could sit in my kitchen, too.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and the five years in North Carolina have been that and more.  If you’d asked me three or four years ago about my early impressions, the answer then may not have been as generous.

As I drove into a strange town that first night in August, 2006 it rained as hard as on a Hollywood back lot.  It was so humid the streets were steaming.  After schlepping a car full of belongings up two flights of stairs into corporate housing I tried in vain to find a grocery store.   To avoid becoming impossibly lost I purposefully didn’t stray too far away from my temporary home (there’s an odd configuration to the streets in Charlotte) and literally oriented myself by keeping the tall downtown buildings in my field of vision.

But the skies cleared, the street maps began to make sense, and the elusive grocery was located.  In time I’ve become a Charlottean (maybe not a full-fledged North Carolinian but there’s still time for that).  The names of local movers-and-shakers aren’t quite so foreign, I semi-abide NASCAR and if you asked for a good place to eat, I could rattle off a few spots based on cuisine, general location, and price range.   Not everything has gone smoothly.  I’m still dyslexic on Bermuda greens.

The kids have each made cameo appearances here twice, and by my math that averages out to one visit every 2.5 years.   It’s not overly disappointing in that, as they should, they’ve moved onward – Ellen now married to Tim up in the Twin Cities, and Reid, ensconced in the agency life in Chicago.  The welcome mat is always out for them, their guest rooms in order, and if they could move the average up to 1.5 years, then things down here would be complete.

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August 15, 2011

Ellen/Reid: Yesterday marked five years in Charlotte since I pulled into town in the over-loaded BMW on a rain-soaked Tuesday night and wondered, aloud probably, ‘what the hell am I doing here?’  As some might say, it feels like 20 years.  It really does.  It is mind boggling that so much time can literally fly by without an accounting or inkling of how it was spent or where it went.  It is just hard to believe.  On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being incredibly good, I’ll fudge and give it a 7.5.  On the whole it has been somewhere between very acceptable to very good.  That and a buck will get me a cup of coffee.  As the new guy here, I’ve gotten by okay.  If I can stick it out another week, I get some five year anniversary thingy.  Probably something best suited to holding down loose papers.  Still, the work is appreciated.

I put up a cheap hummingbird feeder the other day outside the kitchen window, and already the little fliers are buzzing to the sweet red liquid.  To watch them is a small diversion when I’m at the kitchen table.  They’re so small it’s hard to imagine where they nest.  The free meal would certainly beat milling around flowers for a sip of nectar.  Most of them would migrate to warmer climes once the flower season is over.  I like having birds around and this is the first attempt to attract hummingbirds.  It worked.  You should put one up at the Pagoda given how much time you spend up there.  You’d have hummingbirds in no time.

There is an outside chance the guys who traveled to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho last September – Dave Hemminger, Dave Dahlquist and Bob Furstenau – might be coming down here this fall to play golf, drink wine, eat and swap stories.  It would be great to host them here.  We’d probably head over to Pinehurst for a day to play one or two of the better courses over that way.  We were slated to head up toward Annapolis, Maryland for golf and to roam around some swanky boat show but Dave D. had plans that nixed that.  To keep the new tradition alive, they may visit CLT instead.  Pinehurst is a shade over two hours away to the east and the golf is good.  You don’t do much else there but play golf, sit back and drink mint juleps and toddies like that.  The problem is once you’ve seen Coeur d’ Alene, how do you get them to want to go anyplace else?  I think Bob is prepping himself for retirement by riding his bike – BMW, that is – up through Nebraska and South Dakota and in/out of Sturgis before he then heads on into Wyoming and perhaps back down through Colorado in the very near future.  Sounds like a lot of fun to me.  It’s basically a big Western loop for him and his sidekicks.  It’s been a long while since my Heritage Softail made a similar trip of long miles.  Ray Sculfort rode his to Sturgis, again, last week.  I miss that.

Pretty soon should come the results of how my students graded me for the writing class.  I hope the results are relatively positive since I’d like to teach again.  It’s kind of fun.  I hope the next one is on newspaper writing even though most newspapers are pretty much DOA these days.  Why anyone would want to write for a newspaper for a living is a tough call.  It’s just a tough business these days for the ink-and-paper trade.  Reid, it’s all going the way of your digital world.

The siren call of work is calling me.  Sorry to have been out of touch this past weekend but cell service was spotting where I was so a call this next weekend will have to suffice.  Give Henry a pat on the head for me, Ellen, and Reid, attend a Cubbies game for your old man.

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