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Hello, Mr. Hand Sledge: a painful reminder to measure twice (thrice?), cut once …

A still throbbing index finger left black and blue by the errant (read ‘careless’) swing of a hand sledge ought to be reminder enough that knowledgeable construction of any relatively complex project isn’t child’s play.

So it is Ellen and Reid have learned their father is about to embark on a self-constructed deck. The job will stretch whatever skills I profess to own. I can just hear the kids now: ‘One step at a time, dad, one step at a time.’ One can only hope so.

June 11, 2018

Ellen/Reid: Well, the wheels are turning toward a small deck behind the house. A city planner sent me the permit forms and – for a $50 fee and a sketch of the proposed plan – they’ll grant permission to start construction. Building the raised beds gave me a little bit of confidence to do the job myself since it will be a free standing deck without a lot of bells and whistles. There will be some storage space to accommodate Miss Emma. Tim is right that the whole project should be kept simple, although it would be nice to have his engineering and project skills. I’m gearing up for the task at a website he recommended, Decks.com. I just have to remember, over and over and over, to measure twice (thrice maybe?) and cut once. No doubt some additional tools will be purchased, such as a reciprocal saw and jigsaw, longer level, et al to help with the job. There are some details I’ll sweat profusely over. How to cut angled boards and sink footings, etc. But the footings here only have to be sunk 12” so it’s not the four feet or whatever depth you need to dig in the Midwest. We’ll have to see how it goes but I’m kind of excited about it.


I won’t repeat the string of ‘words’ that spewed out of my mouth at the moment sledge impacted finger. “Ouch” was as genteel as I got.

Hopefully there won’t be any more finger bashing with a hand sledge as was done Saturday on the newest raised bed. What an oaf. I just wasn’t paying attention. The thought passed briefly through my mind “You should move your finger” and then – wham! It hurt like hell but nothing split open or broke so I’m lucky in that regard.

Fishing sure was a bust in Charleston. The only game fish landed over two days was a small speckled trout. The rest were junk fish and small sharks. It was so hot that my prediction of water that would be too hot proved true. Cap’n Joe at Charleston Outdoor Adventures and I chatted briefly and he said as much; the bigger reds and trout have gone toward the cooler open ocean waters although some are staying relatively close at the lighthouse on the west end of Folly Island where the big salt creek meets the Atlantic. I might traipse there later this summer but for now there likely won’t be another trip to Bowens Island until the waters have cooled in the 70F range. But it was still fun to be on the water for a change. There’s so much to see.

The local community college nixed any writing classes I might have taught. That’s really okay. It just frees up my weeknights. 

My friends Ray and Dave from Charlotte will come up this weekend for golf and seeing the local Brevard sights. We’ll probably be pretty low key with things; hit a couple of the breweries and hit a couple of diners/food trucks for local food. It’ll be fun to have those guys here. I miss seeing my Charlotte friends but my home gives them a chance to navigate up this way since mountain golf is different from the courses they’ve been playing.

Reid, it won’t be too many more days before I’ll be in California. Excited to see your new place and hear all about the work you’re doing. Haven’t been to the Bay area in years and years. Is is possible to take BART from the SFO airport to Oakland? The assumption is it has to be fairly accessible. Can’t wait to get out there. 

Mid July’s trek to the Alps will be here before I know it. Been stepping up the tempo and intensity of the pre-hike workouts. Robbie is a dedicated hiker and she’s putting me though my paces. Hopefully the weight can be shaved a few more pounds. It’s coming off slower than I might like but even a couple more pounds is better than no pounds cut at all. Starting to go through the guidebooks but my friends Tom and Vince have carried all of the pre-walk planning. I’m chagrined about that.

Alright, enough for today. Gotta tend to the garden (there are now five raised beds) and the weeds don’t listen when I ask them to stop growing. So now it’s hand-to-hand combat.

Love, Dad


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You call this fishing? Perhaps I’d best stay put in the mountains …


This juvenile black tip shark that chomped on a cut finger mullet was about all I could muster over two days of fishing in the heat and humidity.

For the better part of six months, Miss Emma languished high and dry below Robbie’s deck; my sturdy little kayak probably thought her seafaring days were over.

And after last week’s sorry excursion to Bowens Island, it may well be that she and I will be land lubbers for another few months. If you like small sharks and junk fish, well, I’m your guy. Ellen and Reid will see the details of this sorrowful tale later this week.

June 4, 2018

Ellen/Reid: Hank Williams’ Hey Good Lookin’ just popped up on Pandora and perhaps that means I’ve ingratiated myself that much more to what passes for mountains. Ellen, Tim knows this kind of ‘neck music. 

It’s unspeakably gorgeous today. A very clear blue sky – free of rain for once – and the 80F sun is drying us out after a sodden several week stretch of unrelenting rain. But the raised bed has drained quite well and more than once my lucky stars have been thanked that there’s no basement to worry about as a collection place for water. We absorbed better than 24 inches in the span of not quite three weeks. Once the French Broad pushed up and out of its banks the water began a slow march toward the house. The fields out back resembled a lake but it would’ve taken a helluva lot more water to ultimately reach my back door. Trout fisherman have to be shaking their heads since the fish have got to be swimming way downstream if they’re alive at all. That’s too bad since the summer tourist season is upon Brevard. Already there’s been an uptick in traffic, largely from the out of towners. But since I’m a recent alien myself, there’s no sense bitching about it. It’s good for the town.

Alas, my transplanted butterfly bush bid the garden a farewell as it succumbed to something. It just didn’t take to the dirt although it might have had a severe case of wet feet after all the rain. The spinach and arugula have already gone to bolt (seed) and there wasn’t enough picked. The heat surely isn’t good for cool weather crops and next year the seeds will be in the ground at the end of February at the latest. A friend suggested a tent of gauze might save the tender plants from sunburn and that’s another potential remedy. I’ve been infected with another case of raised garden bed-itis since another 5×5 foot box will be built next week. I can’t help myself.

Also, and Ellen you can thank Tim for his help with steering me to construction resources, the wheels are turning rapidly toward a self-made deck. The neighbors are beating me to the punch with very nice designs but I’m bound and determined to give it a try. It won’t be overly ornate but it will also serve as a hiding place for Miss Emma. Pinterest is a wealth of wonderful design inspiration.

There was some tragedy during and after the White Squirrel Festival. The festival hosts something of a Soapbox Derby down the hill on East Broad Street in downtown, and one of the cars went out of control and careened at full speed into the crowd, sending several onlookers to the hospital, one of them a gentleman with a severe head injury. He passed away over the weekend. As I walked on my daily constitutional past the spot of the accident, there were markings where the sorry event occurred. The whole thing has cast a cloud over the festival. More than likely this is the final time racers will zoom down the hill.

At long last, Miss Emma has rightly assumed her perch atop the Camry and as early as I wake up tomorrow morning she and I will make a beeline to Bowens Island for the first time in more than six months.


Yeah, I whine and moan about poor fishing skills but there’s really few places I’d rather be than afloat on the tidal creeks and flats.

I’ve itched to get down there and have missed the saltwater terribly. Stopped a bit ago for a load of frozen shrimp at the store and once this letter is done the rest of the gear will be tossed into the car. The one downer about living in Brevard is it adds another 65-70 miles to the jaunt. For the first time ever we’ll overnight in Charleston at some fleabag motel and make a two day fishing venture out of it. Better than 500 miles down and back in one day. It’s just too much to endure. The salt creeks are no doubt heating up and the reds are likely to have vamoosed to cooler waters offshore but that’s no concern to me. It will just be nice to be on the water. Yeah, but best time to fish in the Spring has come and gone but that’s no biggie. I’ll be up and on the road before first light.

Love, Dad

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The gentleman gardener …

There are Master Gardeners and then there are gardeners. I fall into more of the latter. If that. By now Ellen and Reid know their old man is a little foggy on the nuances and fine points of gentleman agriculture; soil testing, plant diseases, pest control, etc. That stuff is green and growing and provides a meal or two of something to eat is close enough for me.

Wherever it was my move took me, it was a big deal for their dad to have a plot of soil, however large or small, to get his hands dirty. It’s not so much a retiree thing; their grandfather kept a large garden his entire life. I built a raised bed for Ellen a few weeks back and perhaps at some point both will find tilling the good earth firmly rooted in their genes. Just as it is in mine.

May 28, 2018

Ellen/Reid: I’m out on the back deck, a few feet from the raindrops that are forecast to become a deluge later today when we get smacked by the tropical storm churning in the Gulf. At least the grass is mowed and all the garden work is done for the time being. The mama wood swallow is poking her head out of the cedar bird house about 25 feet from where I sit. It’s been fun to watch the brood pair build the nest and conduct their aerial acrobatics. 

I’ve enjoyed the garden plots as much as I thought I would. I just like to get my hands dirty and this is likely a holdover from the influence of your grandfather as a gardener. Both sets of berries, red and blue, seem to be holding their own and are setting fruit as we speak. It’s good they are in raised beds because it’s quite boggy in the flat area. At least there’s some drainage owning to the raised beds so the peas, tomatoes, et al won’t get quite the wet feet that my other plants are experiencing.


I can spend – and have – hours poking around in the garden. I love everything about it, even if my efforts end up an abysmal failure. I can always turn the soil over and try again.

Already the lettuce (arugula and spinach) are harvestable and the sugar snap peas aren’t far behind. The day lillies are about to bloom. I pirated a new butterfly bush from a mountain trail the other day since my prior bush didn’t make it. The herbs, basil, rosemary, oregano and chive, are getting along nicely in pots on both ends of the back porch. A simple compost pile was made of some heavy wire mesh yesterday. Once the butterfly bush is of some size it should hide the two foot high mesh contraption. At least that’s the theory. For the first time, I took a leap of faith to plant a dozen or so dahlias, courtesy of Robbie, in one of the 5×5 beds. They say the blooms will be enormous and bountiful. I’m not much of a flower guy but perhaps those will turn the tide.

For mulch I walk literally 10 feet away to rip out swaths of foot-tall clover that’s allowed to grow unchecked in the enormous field out back. Clover is high in nitrogen and it makes for good – and cheap – bedding for the plants. Plus, it attracts swarms of honey bees. A bunch of it was tossed in the new compost thing to give the rotting process a head start. Coffee grinds, egg shells and other kitchen debris will be added for good measure. A plastic jug is kept by the sink to hold the residue from food prep. With all that lucious clover, in the back of my mind is the construct of bee boxes although I know nothing about how to raise bees. 

To the east of the largest bed is a new squirrel-proof feeder and some surgery fluid for the hummingbirds although none have showed up. And they might not since the nearest trees are about 75 yards away and that’s a long way for them to flit since it takes enormous energy for them to get from one spot to another. 

My Alps hike is coming up, and up too is my weight. Too much food here in Brevard and the doc noticed this week my weight had crept up 11-12 pounds since my last visit. I’ve got to get serious about losing it since each retained pound effectively adds one pound to my pack. I don’t like being this heavy, and needless to say it has expansively impacted my wardrobe. 

Reid, I hope you like the outdoor gear. I tried to notice what 30-year-olds were wearing and buy things accordingly since you know my sense of style isn’t to be trusted. Ellen, can’t wait to see photos of your new raised bed garden in action. It’s good for the girls to dig around and get a feel for the dirt. It’s in their genes to poke around and have fun and watch things grow. Maybe it’ll stick with them as they get older.

The White Squirrel Festival was great fun but heavy rain killed a lot of the late Saturday music and revelry. Sunday wasn’t quite so bad. We’ll just have to look for some of our own white squirrels in November when you’re all here. We’ll find ‘em.

Love, Dad

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Strangers among them … until a friendship broke out

The spirit of community service can be hard to come by; as parents I suppose we all hope that some of that servitude attitude gravitates toward our children. It’s one way they help others and simultaneously expand their vision of their community and the world. We could use quite a bit more of that these days.

And for one recent week a global outreach effort by my daughter Ellen’s church yielded more of the latter than the former.

May 22, 2018

Ellen/Reid: Man, what a week it was to and from Minnesota. Ellen, it truly was a privilege for you and Tim to host Palestinians for a week, however inconvenient it might have been for your daily life. You got some insights that are hard for Americans to come by and Yara and Naim got to see how a real American family operates day in and day out. I think both sides saw that there aren’t many differences between how we raise kids and the day to day tribulations each face, although admittedly they are truly oppressed in the current Middle Eastern environment.


A Palestinian family visited Ellen’s family in St. Paul as part of a church outreach, and the experience was a good thing – make that a great thing – for both sides.

Thanks for letting me come up and help out. That was truly a privilege, too. It gave me something substantive to do, and being able to build the garden box was a bonus. It really didn’t take much time to do it. Hauling the materials to the house was the biggest hurdle.

And it was good for cousin Tim to build such an international month at Westminster. It’s expansive and enlightening for his congregation and Minneapolis as well as the Palestinians, the Cubans and the Cameroon visitors. It’s nice that he has the resources to bring a lot of people to the U.S. and that he has congregants like you who are willing to welcome strangers to their home. I will admit that it is good to finally be home but it was sure great to be around you and the girls. They are growing up so quickly and have a nice mixture of stubbornness and obedience going for them. I like that they want to do things their own way.

Reid, let’s arrive at another date in June for my visit to Oakland since Ellen and Tim will be out there the week I’d designated for arrival. That’s okay. It was good to talk to you. It just sounds like an intriguing work situation that you’ve gotten yourself into. It wouldn’t be terribly bad to wind up out there full time. Plus, you’d be close to your mom. All in all it’s likely a better thing to be close to Silicon Valley vs. Chicago although my perception is Chi-Town is still a tech town too.

Robbie took good care of the garden while I was gone and it seems to be doing just fine. The lettuce seems to be lagging in growth and that’s a bit disappointing. The arugula has come through like a champ and the tomatoes and peppers are zooming. There are already little blueberries and the raspberries are flowering. It makes me wonder if I need to net off the plants so the birds don’t rob me blind. The peas are coming along nicely, too, although my concept of winding string ever higher and higher to provide climbing space isn’t working out so well since the plants seem entwined around themselves. That should change. I spent an enjoyable portion of this afternoon weeding and doing general stuff out there which is precisely as was hoped for and planned. The field not 10 feet behind the raised bed has a healthy 12” stand of either alfalfa or clover and I ripped up large swaths off it to use as mulch around the plants. That’s nice to walk a few feet for mulch rather than spend a fortune on it.


I replicated my double decker raised bed garden in Ellen’s back yard. When it came time to shovel nearly a ton of composted horse manure into the finished product, we got a little help from her neighborly friends.

But my dirt is not in the same quality class as yours, Ellen. You’ll end up with 10 foot tomatoes given how rich that compost is. I hope you enjoy your new raised bed. A kid down the street cut the grass while I was gone, and edged it as well, and he only asked for $20. If I knew he’d be that cheap I wouldn’t have purchased a mower.

I’ll head to Charlotte early Thursday morning for a doctor appointment at 9:15 and another at 11:30. Nice to double dip on those. I’ll resist the impulse to drive by the old homestead to check on things. It’s amazing how fast the condo went into the rearview mirror. I don’t miss it at all. The friends, yes, the house, no. Sondra and Jody will play golf with me when the appointments are finished.

Okay, time to make dinner. Not sure what it will be at this point. But it will be fast and simple, although a bag of chips is staring me in the face. Hopefully I’ll eat better than that.

Love, Dad

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Spring has arrived – finally – in the North Carolina mountains … and there’s music in them thar hills

Spring has sprung in Brevard. High time, too. The raised bed garden has gone begging longer than I’d hoped for. But the recent warmth has pushed the envelope and it’s time to get in gear garden-wise.

But Brevard is more than just jamming seeds into black dirt. There’s music in them thar hills and with tourist season just around the corner the little town has begun to stir from its cold season slumber.

Alas, Ellen, Tim and the girls will get a visit from me in short order. Tending to the garden will be left to the caring hands of neighbors and Robbie. 

April 23, 2018

Ellen/Reid: It’s raining this morning but for once I won’t be cranking about it since the lawn and the garden could both use the moisture. The peas, romaine and spinach are all up, the blueberries are booming and the raspberries seem to be making a tepid recovery from whatever ailed them. There’s a chance for a trip to the nursery later today for some herbs to grow in pots on the back deck. Space in the raised bed garden is too precious for herbs, what with tomatoes and peppers on tap in the near future. Ellen, tell Tim the two of us will need to sit down while I’m up there to plot the plans for the the deck extension which should be started in late May or June. Hopefully I should be able to do most of the labor.

Kitty and Tom Bohr were here for the weekend and it was really great to host them. They are salt of the earth people and it also gave Tom and me a chance to kibbutz about our upcoming 30 day trek through the French Alps. fullsizeoutput_3014It really hasn’t been on my radar at all, but as you both know Tom is a planner extraordinaire and so that has me jizzed up and anxious for the trip. Ordered two trail guides from Amazon a few minutes ago. About the only major purchases left to make are some new ankle-height Salewa boots and some light-as-air hiking poles from Z Pack. Tom highly recommended the poles. The downer is you can’t stow them in a pack but will need to put in checked baggage at the airport. We spent Friday night bar hopping – if you can do such a thing in Brevard – and we polished it off with live music at the Phoenix and the Fox. The band was just crazy.


You pay your money and take your musical chances at the Phoenix and the Fox. Usually, you come out a winner.

Three good musicians and a woman (the girlfriend of one of the guys) who dressed in a pink princess gown and tooted every so often on a kazoo. It seemed her real job was to waltz through the crowd with the tip jar as the band played on. It was so fun. We walked downtown and back on a lovely evening. 

They went on to Black Mountain on Saturday to visit some other friends from our former church at Caldwell. Robbie and I spent all of Saturday grooving to 10 bands at the Songfest at the Brevard Music Center and it was incredible. $4 Oskar Blues beer, too. Such talent there is here, and from Nashville, too, where many of the musicians are anchored. The raucous finale was two hours with the Wood Brothers, and they were just flat-out unbelievable.


Oliver Wood had fans reaching for more, more, more music.


For a trio, the Wood Brothers can really bring the music. Man, I hope they return next year.

They had the crowd jumpin’ and hollerin’, so much so that the sparse security finally gave up trying to keep dancers and revelers from the front of the stage. The crowd just overwhelmed the two person music police. It was the first-ever such fest and it’ll be a sell out next year. I will seek out the Wood Bros. to see them again. Their lead singer, Oliver Wood, has one of the most distinctive voices heard in a long, long while. What a high-energy show.

Sondra and Jody and our Irish buddy Luke will visit this weekend for golf and no doubt music, beer and fun somewhere in town. This is what the mountain home was intended for; to have people visit and spend some time. I’ve offered it to them and Andrea and Kurt while I’m traipsing through Europe and they are welcome to commit at the last minute if that suits their schedules. From the look at the social/music schedule in Brevard there will be a whole lot going on. That’s why I’m excited for the spring/summer season to really be here. The next big thing is the White Squirrel Festival over Memorial Day weekend. They shut down the two main drags, Main and Broad Streets, for live music and vendors and stuff like that. If you guys want to visit, let me know and the arrangements will be made.

I legitimately slept until 9:15 this morning, far and away the longest I’ve legitimately slept in bed for more than a decade. Felt good for a change. Must’ve been the dark, rainy skies that kept the sun at bay. Now’s time, though, to head to the gym to work off the beer/food pounds added this weekend.

Love, Dad

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Finally, Big Fish and a short walk to the French Broad …

One reason – but far from the only one – that piqued my interest in Brevard is the proximity (next door) to fishable waters in the North Carolina mountains. Without exaggeration, trout can be had within a mile or two of my front door. I like that.

The persistent lousy, cold, wet ‘Spring’ weather here doesn’t phase trout; fish are gonna eat one way or another. And at long last, dreams of sizable fish – big, fat rainbows – finally came true just a hop-skip-and jump from here, courtesy of an excursion engineered by my friend Kurt. We slammed ’em. It sure takes your mind off the more unpleasant issues of clouds and rain while wearing the warmest fleece in the closet.

April 9, 2018

Ellen/Reid: This ‘no sign of spring’ thing is getting really old really fast. My garden seeds have been in for five days and no signs of sprouts. Zilch. A few should be nudging up through the soil by now. 41F and steady rain/drizzle this morning. That stinks. I shouldn’t be whining since St. Paul and Chicago are faring worse than we are in Brevard but c’mon. We can do better than this.

I drive to Florida on Wednesday for tarpon fishing with Dave on Thursday near Naples. We got shut out the last time we tried this since neither of us knew how to make double haul casts with heavy fly rods. It was beyond our skill sets. This time we’ll use conventional gear and lures. I’m excited about tarpon even though our methods won’t be the purity fly fishers might insist upon. Later today my three Penn Battle salt water reels will be lubed up and all the other gear readied for the trip.

Reid, we really got into a mess of gigantic trout last week on a stretch of private river water just south of Sapphire, NC. That was about 25 minutes west of here. My friend Kurt arranged for a guide and there was just no way I was prepared for the volume and sheer size of the fish.


Chunky rainbow trout were the order of the day west of Brevard on a river-to-be-named-later. It was fun to land big fish after big fish for a change. FYI … every fish caught was released. These beauties deserved to be freed. My son-in-law and expert fly fisherman Tim says it’s bad karma to keep a fish – and for once I agree with him.

While our guide rigged gear I walked to the river bank and the fish looked like logs. I mean, 6 – 12 fish stacked up like boxcars in big, deep pools. It was utterly mind boggling. I must’ve landed 20 with an average weight of two-four pounds or so with the largest at 7-8 pounds. Every one was bigger than any I’ve landed before. We have so got to do this the next time you’re down here (make that sooner than later, kid). My Scott 4A rod was ready but the guide semi-laughed when he told me it would in no way be adequate – and he was right. He stuffed a 9 foot, five weight in my hand and the fish doubled that rod over. It was incredible. If you join Tim and Ellen and the girls down here for Thanksgiving we will give it a go. 

Dave H. saw the pics of a couple of the hawgs and he took no time to announce that he’ll drive back with me to Brevard to give the monsters a whirl. The same guide will show us a thing or two on Tuesday, April 17. We may well make it a full day on the river. Honestly, it is just way beyond incredible.

Finally walked to the French Broad yesterday. It’s only 400 yards away. Not a lot of fishing spots due to heavy underbrush but I found a couple of cast-able locations within view of the house. Looked for muskie but saw none although there are 60 inchers reputed to be swimming around. Outfitters say there are plenty of really fun smallmouth bass along with some big browns but it’s so deep you’d have to put something all the way down to the bottom. 

Walked 36 holes on Saturday at a fun little 18 hole, par three mountain course. It was only $20 and it was good to just get out and about and get some honest exercise. I just zipped along, and finished in less than five hours. There was some significant bike race on the adjacent Greenville Highway and there was a steady stream of riders pedaling by the entire time I golfed.

Ellen, I’m in to build your raised bed garden. My assumption is Tim has all the tools so my toolbox will stay home. To keep the black walnut-tainted soil in check, the bottom will be lined with garden cloth to seal the box up. Tim said a sunny spot will have to be found either in the back by the alley or maybe even out front. That’s what some of your neighbors have done and it wouldn’t look half bad. We might even toss in a smaller 4’x4’ box for raspberries. Emma and Georgia shouldn’t be denied those red beauties. We will get it all figured out.

So now it’s off to the local garden store for arugula and spinach seeds. Let’s hope the weather turns and the sun shines so there will be some honest-to-goodness produce down the line.

Love, Dad

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A bike, a party and a few trout (make that a very few trout) …

I’ve been initiated – sort of – into the local social scene. It’s nice to have some new local friends. And for Ellen and Reid it’s a nice breather to get a taste of something other than blah garden news.

Most of these folks are actually transplanted Atlantans or Atlantans ready to move up this way. Brevard isn’t overly far from the Georgia border and for years Transylvania County was a summer landing spot for these Southerners. 

And courtesy of friends Andrea and Kurt, I’ve now got a spiffy bike (alas, not a Harley) that will let me tool around town like a real local.

April 2, 2018

Ellen/Reid: Today was the first day in a few weeks that I hit the wall with the garden. The last square feet of sod had to be carved out, the final few heavy flagstones laid in jigsaw puzzle fashion, and the day lilies planted at last. I dunno, it just seemed a mix between tedious and onerous. Just ready for the damn thing to be done, and, except for a few minor touch ups tomorrow, it will be. Then comes the easy part of planting lettuce and peas and spinach. But it’s fun to look at as I sit out on the back porch to write this. A glass of pinot noir helps to take my sour edge off.

Once the day labor is done the garden tools will be hung up for a while and I can venture out into the Pisgah Forest or trod a few hundred yards to the French Broad. And pedal to downtown Brevard. My friend Kurt Powell delivered my ‘town’ bike today vPyXmJ0%QQWkQFtsHf83Xwand it’s pretty spiffy. He and Andrea are good friends and he brought the bike up with him as they take their kids on spring break to a place called Lake Toxaway, about 40 minutes due west of here. He brought a bike lock and fancy front and rear lights and a rack to hold saddlebags (or panniers as he calls them). 

Tom Bohr and his wife Kitty will drive down from Chicago in two weeks time for a long weekend. Tom and I have some serious planning ahead of our hiking tour of the Alps in July and August. He’s a planner extraordinaire and will no doubt have everything down pat with the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed. Every trek needs a guy like him. My plane ticket is already in hand. Only about $800 but I cashed in some credit card miles to help pay for the trip. And listen you guys, give me your schedules for Thanksgiving stat so I can get your tickets. 

Hosted my first party this past Saturday for 18 folks. It was the birthday of a woman here, Louise, and Robbie and her friend Kathy from Atlanta did all the heavy planning and organization.


A birthday party with 17 guests broke in the new house in the right way. It’s a good spot for gatherings and it sure won’t be the last of these soirees.

The house is ideal for that sort of soiree. I made a muted effort to smoke a pork shoulder on Friday but after 13 hours it wasn’t done so had to tuck my tail between my legs and finish it in the oven overnight. It worked out okay but was clearly disappointing and there’s a lot of learning to be done on the smoker end of things. 

Formed a local Meetup golf group that’s a variant of my group in Charlotte, Golf for One, but there’s been tepid interest at best. Had several sign up for our first outing but no one showed up. I’ll give it another whirl but if there’s no real participation I’ll fold the tent.

Went trout fishing last Tuesday with a new friend Billy and he just knocked the trout out of the park. Me, not so much. I landed three, he netted 24-25, not counting more than a few that got away. He’s got it all; the gear, the stream knowledge, the casting technique, knows all the flies by name, et al. It was a lesson in abject humiliation. It’s as if I’d never fly fished before. But there’s no giving up now with so many streams so close by. Next Wednesday I drive to Florida for another type of fishing, tarpon, with Dave Hemminger. He has secured a guide and, hopefully, we will do better than be skunked, which we have the last couple of times even with professional help. I’m debating toting Miss Emma with me to make a foray at Charleston/Bowens Island on the way back. She’ll probably stay home.

With the raised bed gardens virtually a wrap, it might be time to turn toward design of a deck. Ellen, let Tim know he’ll be my deck advisor. Thinking of a design that has some sort of roof since there’s full sun all the time out back. Maybe even a pergola. Not sure when there will be time to start it, perhaps not before my St. Paul visit. 

Alas, time to go. Give the girls a hug and Reid, keep me post on Oakland.

Love, Dad

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