Tag Archives: redfish

Patience is running out – I mean the patience of Ellen and Reid


It’s been a total, complete, patience-testing grind as far as the house sale and move to the Midwest are concerned. The kids have to be on the margins of fatigue; they’ve seen me whine and moan about it in the weekly letters for months on end. They’ve got to be as tired of reading about it as I am writing about it.

But all the stewing and fretting is about to come to an abrupt end. More on that next week.


February 13, 2017

Ellen/Reid: I dunno, this house thing is taking on a personality of the macabre. A flurry of visitors last week after the new listing but now nothing. There was a low ball bid from an investor looking for easy pickings but the offer was rejected out of hand. I have faith in the new Realtor. He thinks when a townhouse across the way closes sometime soon at $400,000 it will change the landscape entirely and will be the comp we need.

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It’s very old keeping the house spic & span for the few lookers who’ve paid a visit. But that’s all about to come to a screeching halt.

We’ll see. I was sitting out on the front steps yesterday wondering how this has come to this point. But my chin is still up. I keep my fingers crossed but they’ve been crossed for so long we can only hope they don’t freeze in that position.

Saw six deer foraging out back yesterday morning including one large doe that had some sort of bad rear leg injury. It was everything the poor thing could do to hobble along with the rest of the herd. Probably got dinged by a car over on Sharon View. With the coyotes around she probably will enter the food chain in fairly short order.

It was nearly 80F here yesterday. Some sort of record high. Could’ve played golf but the stinging rebuke from the sad round the day before was still with me. My skills are eroding and fast. It’s not the loss of distance that bugs me. It’s not hitting the ball solid.

Really had to work hard at Charleston last week. When a full moon tide is in effect, it’s like paddling against the current of a major river. At one point we reached the confluence of tidal current from two different branches of King Flats Creek and we literally paddled in place. Plus there was a harsh in-our-face wind that exacerbated things. It was really a grind. But I suppose that’s what makes the sport what it is. You have a paddle and you use it. My mindset on the drive down – knowing the conditions would be this way – was just to hang in there and get through it. I was also comfortable with the idea there might not be anything caught. But Miss Emma (I love that little boat) stuck with me and we landed a bunch of nice reds. What’s really fun is to see the expressions of the black oystermen when you ask them “Hey, how about a fish?” They work so hard for their share of oyster clusters. Nice to share the bounty. It truly is.

We head down again this Wednesday. I’ll cook for 20 on Friday and have got to make sure there’s enough redfish and black drum in the freezer. People have their pick of fish or steak. The menu will be slightly blackened fish with a fresh salsa topping that’s a spin off of Cowboy Caviar. Or, I’ll marinade several flank steaks for about 72 hours for the grill. I’m hoping to run into Mr. Richard during our voyage and if we catch enough of anything, we can swap a red or two for 40-50 pounds of oysters which would make for a fabulous grilled appetizer Friday night. People have been instructed to bring a side dish. I’ll bake some bread and whip up roasted brussels sprouts with garlic and pine nuts and keep that in reserve as needed. There’ll be sautéed shrimp, too.

Reid, watch for a call from my golf friend Luke. He’s an Irishman who founded a very successful IT company with 100+ employees that does business in the States and the UK. He’s got a strong entrepreneurial side that you might find interesting and he knows the ins-and-outs of the industry you’re trying to break into. He’s a great thinker/doer with a high energy threshold. And make sure you call Tom and Gene since it’s a little embarrassing for them to keep asking me when you’ll be in contact. They’re all good businessmen who have so much more to offer than the tepid ideas and encouragement you keep hearing from your mother and your old man.

Alright, enough. Ellen, I’ll see you and the girls and Tim next week. I’ll work the weight machines this week so I can have the strength to help you move. Can’t wait to see your new place.

Love, Dad

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A snow event that wasn’t … re-thinking a house sale … and a really sharp knife


 I stopped riding Ellen and Reid some time ago about harsh, harsh winters in the South. They didn’t see the humor in ‘bitter cold’ 40-ish degree temperatures here that passed for a deep freeze since they live up North where the cold is real and bitter and unforgiving. 

But it is funny when people make frenzied runs to grocery stores to stock up on necessities and schools close at the mere hint of snow. 

On the other hand, perhaps this time next year I’ll be the one wishing for the ‘harshness’ of Charlotte’s arctic freezes.


January 9, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Our panic-inducing snow event passed without incident over the weekend. We got, at most, a skiff of snow in my part of Charlotte although in the northern ‘burbs they did get a few inches. Still, the whisper of snow in any amount literally threw the town into a major end-of-the-world food buying tizzy. I went to Harris Teeter last Thursday to get the usual and normal supply of bananas and lettuce, and without exaggeration the checkout lines were 7-10 deep, including the self-service lines. It was utterly bizarre to see carts filled to the gills with staples such as milk, bread and – bottled water? I can understand people wanting beer and wine, but water?

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Uh, here’s an unretouched photo of my impassable driveway the morning after Charlotte’s snow event. The city can now stand down.

Schools down here also closed at the drop of a hat. At the mere mention of snow, kids were out of school. It’s hilariously crazy. Can you imagine what an inch or two would do to Minneapolis and Chicago? That’s not even a good start to a storm. It would be business as usual. But not here. Here’s what’s really weird: folks down in these parts drive the same SUVs with the same tires and four wheel drive as you guys motor around in up North. The one thing that isn’t normal are the bone-chilling temps. So I did break out the fleece and such and made a big pot of chili. Perhaps that just got me ready for the weather I’ll face up in Des Moines.

Speaking of that, my listing agreement expired at midnight on Saturday. My Realtor, Laura, sent me several messages about re-upping the agreement. I’ve yet to respond. I’ve been thinking long and hard about what direction to take since the only bids to walk in the door were when I listed the house on Zillow. It doesn’t seem to be a price issue; indeed, the home across the way just went on the market last week at a higher listing price per square foot. No other Realtors have balked at what we were asking so I’ll likely stick to my guns on it. My option is to find another, perhaps hungrier Realtor or stick with the big dog, Allen Tate Realtors, although I’ve honestly been disappointed Continue reading

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Of letters, black drum, shared bounty and the Trump effect …


I like to write letters for a lot of reasons. (If you want a one page note, tell me. I’ll send you one. As for subject matter, that’s TBA.)

There is something to the tensile strength of paper in your hands. It’s tangible and real, not some ethereal thing floating loosely out somewhere in cyber space. 

Letters are also a thought process – even if my missives seem to lack coherent thought many weeks. But, hey, it’s the best that is available at that moment, at that instant even if I yammer on about fish caught/missed, a house that hasn’t sold, a disappointing election, leafs from a tree or any of a number of other minor goings on in daily life. But that’s why there’s a letter this week and another next week and the week after that. There’s always a shot at literary redemption.


November 21, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Our first frost arrived yesterday; the grass was stiff and white as I walked out for the morning newspaper. The upshot of it is it will make the Bermuda grass go dormant in an instant which will make golf that much tougher. Actually, the golf has been somewhat improved as of late so all is not lost.

Since there were no invitations – save one, but it involved golf – to a Thanksgiving meal, Miss Emma and I will make the trek to Charleston on T-Day to see if we can replicate the success we had last week. Reid, I wish you’d of been there. The rods really got a workout on Harris Teeter frozen shrimp and mud minnows. Never had to open the package of finger mullet. It’s as many fish as I’ve caught in a single day but by far the uniformly biggest fish ever. All were in the slot.

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Miss Emma and her sometimes inept handler/fisherperson have made weekly forays of late down to Bowens Island, South Carolina while the fishing is good.

Those big black drum can fight like nobody’s business. They set their flat side against you and dare you to pull them in and are just so much fun to haul in. And the two big sea trout – ‘specks’ they call them – hit in an instant. No guessing if they are there or not. You know right away. And the first red in a long while was boated. That felt good. I kept the red, the trout and four black drum. The aim was to give some to the black fisherman who don’t have boats but fish off the dock right by the put-in spot. One guy was lugging his gear back to the his car empty handed, but he was grateful for a drum and a trout. An oysterman I’ve come to know got a black drum, too. It’s appropriate to share the bounty. I caught so many fish so quickly that I was able to leave early to beat, sort of, the Charleston traffic. We pulled into the garage at 7:30 p.m., a full four hours earlier than usual. That felt good for a change.

Here are a couple of leafs plucked from a eucalyptus tree that overhangs the sidewalk along the route of my weekend morning walks. I crumple the leaves in my fingers to release the sweet scent; Ellen, I bet Emma Continue reading

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Losing at fishing and a countdown to the Bridger …


I’ve been AWOL the past few weeks with my blog posts (the letters to Ellen and Reid have still gone out) as I’ve wrestled with internal turmoil about my newspaper gig. That’s resolved now, and it’s time to keep on keeping on.


May 31, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Geez, there have been better weeks than the one that just passed. I dunno, stuff was just setting me off for all the wrong reasons. The letter to you is usually the first thing on the priority list but even it got bypassed for the first time in a long while. There just doesn’t seem like enough time to do the things that I want to do.

That includes a purge of stuff to get ready for the sale. The garage is a good starting point, then the closets, and maybe some of the furnishings. Only enough needs to be kept to furnish a two bedroom place. Hopefully, one can be found on a single floor so there’s no more going up and down the infernal steps (I re-goofed up the left knee by jumping out of a moving golf cart about a week ago. Idiot.). Things are pretty ship-shape mechanically speaking – knock on wood. Units here appear to be selling fairly briskly and at reasonable prices so we’ll see. The goal is still an Aug. 1 date on the market. Ellen, you guys came out smelling like a rose on the sale of your place, and the inspection report was a good one. That gives you clear sailing to pack up and move out. Let’s hope that holds true for the home you’re buying.

Went back down to Charleston with my buddy Ted and he crushed me from his rental kayak. He nearly swept all the bets we shook on. I got the first fish but he claimed the most and the biggest. What was disappointing was we only caught one in the slot, a speckled trout, which we gave to a black woman at the dock.

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My friend Ted enjoys a cold beer – at my expense – after he out-fished me on what should be my turf: Bowens Island. But if you’re going to lose a bet, no better view than the elevated deck at the Bowens Island Restaurant.

Ted caught nine or 10 black drum to close me out. I caught eight, including a small shark. For like the fourth or fifth straight trip, there were no reds boated which was really disappointing. Reid, I think the barge is completely overfished and there’s not enough time for the fish to replenish their numbers due to all the unceasing pressure.

Since we intended to shove off at 3:45 a.m., he stayed the night in the guest room. The ride down and eight hours on the water were fine enough, as were the shrimp and grits at a really nice restaurant Ted knew of in downtown Charleston, but the ride back just finished me off. I only drove about 50 miles before ceding the wheel to Ted. I literally zonked out in the passenger seat. It was the most tired I’ve been in my adult life. I just could not wake up. We pulled into the garage about 11 p.m. and once we got everything situated and stowed, I re-zonked out in minutes. There has to be a better way to do things. Maybe it’s time to experiment with a new place on the water. I may try the open ocean just off Folly Beach but it would be a two hour paddle to reach there from Bowens Island so I’d need to find a closer put in spot. But this down-and-back nonsense has to stop.

Played golf twice with my group and didn’t comport myself very well. At the last second people re-jiggered my announced pairings and it throws everything out of mental whack for me even if their changes are minor. It just throws me for a loop and unfortunately, I teed off on people to let them know it. I need to bottle that in rather than let my emotions get the best of me. I embarrassed myself. But I’m a short timer in that someone else will take over the helm and we’ll organize by committee. A group of 12 has agreed to rotate the responsibilities to put together outings. I’ll be scot-free in terms of zero responsibility to herd the cats. I’m really looking forward to that, as no doubt are the people who witnessed my outbursts this past weekend. Perhaps that’s what really has me in a pissy mood this morning. But I am looking forward to two-plus weeks in the Bridger not that long from now. At least that will give me something to look forward to. That, and videos of Emma learning to ride her bike. Ellen, you can send as many of those as you can. Let Tim know the big Gregory pack and a few bags of coffee beans, plus some little things for the girls, will be shipped this week.

Love, Dad

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Rust never sleeps …


Learning is akin to the old adage about rust. It never sleeps.

The knowledge acquisition process sees no rest, either: it never stops, never stalls, never slows. We are perpetually in learning mode. The switch is never flipped to the ‘off’ position. Sure, you can’t ever be quite sure where all this classroom (and school of hard knocks) work will take you – but usually it’s somewhere good.


March 21, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Reid, wow, it sounds like your grad school experience is winding up in a really good way. I think both your mom and I, or at least me, wouldn’t mind attending the graduation so let us know when DePaul schedules the ceremony. Walking onstage to collect your diploma would be a fitting way to wrap up your school work. We need to be there to recognize your success – plus, we can head to one of those nice Chicago steakhouses and maybe catch the Cubs or the White Sox. All this, Ellen, just when you’re cranking up the post-graduate work in St. Paul.

My own students have kind of stepped onto a good thing. A good friend of mine in my golf group, Jack Blackham (she’s a Brit and is the one who got me following the Liverpool Reds), somehow put me in touch with a small suburban newspaper, the Mint Hill Times, that is sorely in need of writers. When I talked to the publisher, I asked if my students would be candidates for writing positions – and she was just thrilled at the prospect of hiring them as freelancers. So my guys are gearing up to submit story ideas and buff up their writing skills. It’s kind of exciting for them to have some solid prospects to earn a few bucks and get some bylines. It should, in theory, all come together sometime in the next 10 days to two weeks.

Went to an incredible series of short outdoors films last night with Kitty and Tom Bohr. The films were winners from the Banff Mountain Film Festival. There must’ve been 8 – 9 films shown, including one about four Texas A&M students who rode wild mustangs from Mexico to the Canadian border as a way to show the plight of these wild horses, some 50,000 of which are being held in government pens pending final disposition for them. It was such a good film. Heartwarming and touching. You can look it up: Continue reading

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To quit or not to quit? ‘Dad, get over it’ …


I’ve probably plunked down a smooth 4 G’s for the privilege to flail the water with lures and baits at disinterested fish.

In the expense column are Miss Emma, rods, rubber waders, a Yakima rack system, a tackle box jammed to the gills with untold hooks-weights-lures, a GoPro, dry bags, top dollar coolers, et al.

Better make that 5 big ones. The cost of fish per pound? Gold is cheaper.

Surely Ellen and Reid roll their eyes when their old man is in the dumps. As is her custom, Ellen isn’t afraid to tell her dad to ‘get over it.’

Good point.


February 23, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Reid, I really appreciated your “Don’t quit!” response to my self-pity text about my latest fishing failure near Charleston. You need to come down here so we can validate our abilities. It was just so deflating to get up at 0-dark thirty, jet out of the house at 3:45 a.m. and drive 225 miles at breakneck pace to release one little speckled trout. I went to a new place on the Wando River on the Mt. Pleasant side of Charleston and once there, at the highest of the high tide, I wondered aloud ‘How the hell am I going to fish this?’

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Miss Emma surveys the scene along the expansive Wando River. We met our match and paddled back empty handed. But really, as the carnival barker might yell, “You pays your money and you takes your chances.” Hell yes. Emma and I ought to heed Reid’s sage advice: “Get back out there.” And we will – next week.

There were no visible creeks, just an endless expanse of grass alongside wide, wide water. The prevailing thinking holds that the reds venture into the grass at high tide to feed on small crabs so I paddled in, but saw no fish tailing, no disturbances to tip off their positions, no nothing. We retreated to the more familiar structure of some docks where the one little speck took a plastic bait. The prevailing thinking also says speckled trout mass together, and where you find one, you’ll find more. But nothing else came to the surface. There were three rods on Miss Emma and I alternated from a popping cork and fake shrimp to cut mullet on a Carolina rig with the final rod rigged with a lightweight copper colored something-or-other. A couple of strikes and that was it. I tucked my tail and headed back to the ramp a few hours earlier than might have been otherwise. What was really debilitating was a small flat boat of young guys seen and heard just a creek or so away from us reached the ramp the same time as we did. They had boated multiple reds on virtually the same bait I’d been flinging around and about. I do think it’s the fisherman rather than the fish. But damn it, Continue reading

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And if I had been born in Deadwood, South Dakota?


Owing to travels last week there was no letter written and plunked in the mail. So the best I’ve got is this page from the prior week. Poor you.

But this one was a bit out of the norm. Although I’m not entirely sure why (perhaps it was the specter of another birthday for me and my twin brother), the subject of my early years popped into my head at the moment of creation, and this came out. I suppose Ellen and Reid need to know of our family’s checkered past. It gives them context to our collective experience. Ellen can stow this historical record in the box that holds more than a decade worth of letters sent her way.


February 1, 2016

Ellen/Reid: 66. I told myself this morning that it’s just a number but all it’s good for is to move me that much closer to another birthday that ends with a -0-. Geez. Some thought was given to waking your uncle up with an early morning wake up call but decided to let the old boy stay in the sack undisturbed.

I’m not sure you guys ever really knew of the circumstances behind how your uncle and I and your grandparents got from Wyoming to Omaha. According to the early plan, we were to be born in Deadwood, South Dakota. That’s where the nearest doctor and hospital could be found. But at some point, the doctor there told our mom and dad that the delivery looked like it would be early and that the hospital wasn’t the best spot to care for premie twins and that either Denver or Salt Lake City were better options for the birth.

I’m not sure of all the details, but mom was sent packing to Omaha where her parents lived. I think she took the train out of Rapid City, South Dakota across the northern tier of Nebraska counties. Your grandfather had to stay behind in Sundance where he was the associate editor of the Sundance Times and Crook County News. Sure enough, we were born early and it was a good thing it was in Omaha. We stayed there for a few weeks then made our way back to Sundance. We lived in a small one bedroom home just a block or so from the newspaper office. I always paid visits to the paper and the tiny little framed wood home when I rode my varied Harleys out to Sturgis.

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If it’s not sold, this Road King will be the fifth Harley to make the pilgrimage to Sundance. In May or June we’ll head up Hwy. 2 into the Nebraska Sand Hills then hang a right at Broken Bow and enter South Dakota just south of Rapid City. From there it’s a hop, skip and a jump into Wyoming.

Sundance was about 50 miles from the rally. Included in the saddlebag cargo on the long ride home was a copy of the paper for your grandfather. He loved that town and that job. To me, there was kind of a dual citizenship thing going on between NE/WY. As a side note, that background had me wanting to attend the University of Wyoming in Laramie on a cross country and track scholarship but your (grand)parents (sic) made me turn it down. How my life, and yours, would have changed if I’d headed West. But that’s conjecture for another story altogether.

The redfish party was great on Saturday night. Ended up serving 12 since some folks weren’t doing anything and there was plenty of fish to go around. Basically all you do, and you can do this with any fish, is to mix Old Bay in melted butter and dredge the fish in the mixture and plop it into a hot pan for a couple of minutes a side. The flesh of those fish is impressive. Very firm. Actually, we had two kinds of fish, redfish and it’s kindred, black drum. The black drum has a grayer meat which was fabulous, almost swordfish Continue reading

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