Tag Archives: Sand Hills

Maizie the wonder dog and a week of minutiae …

Ellen used to ride me like a rented mule on a dog; ‘get one, get one, get one.’ But with my schedule, fairness to the animal is a consideration. No dog deserves to be alone for extended periods.

But young – and ultra shy – Maizie is giving me some second thoughts.

The bulk of the week, however, was a matter of routine.

June 5, 2017

Ellen/Reid: It’s a cool, rainy morning and it tabled morning golf with my friend Garry; but in a way that’s a good thing. Nothing wrong with vegging with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. I’ll head to the Y in a bit to put in some more work to shed a few stubborn pounds (ugh) and up the preparations for the Bridger. It’ll be here before you know it.

It was sort of a vegging weekend. I bailed on Saturday and Sunday golf to spend time with Maizie, Sondra and Jody’s adorable little Aussie. She’s just the sweetest dog ever but is the shyest animal I’ve ever been around.


Maizie was just an adorable houseguest for the weekend. If there was to be a dog in my house, it might well be an even-tempered Aussie.

You go to pet her and she flinches or ducks away. But once she warms up to you she becomes your shadow. I couldn’t go anywhere without her tailing me, even to the shower. And she was in-out, in-out the entire weekend. She made fast friends with the other dogs in the neighborhood. But I’d watch her again in a heartbeat.

My other houseguest for the week, Eva LaValle of Des Moines, left on Saturday for home. She was just a dear, and so appreciative of the housing. She did earn her raft guide certification at the Whitewater Center and now she’s on the prowl for a rafting gig where she can put her new-found skills to work. She might even return to Charlotte later this summer for a short term stint at the Center. I told her she’s welcome to stay here until she finds something more permanent. She was incredibly low maintenance. As in no maintenance.

Did play golf for a day on Friday up in the mountains with friends Lynn, Ted and Alice at a course called Olde Beau. It was a one of the prettiest blue-sky days you can imagine in the Carolinas. Of course, my game stunk up the course but that wasn’t of much concern. We just had a good time. Not sure why my iron game is in the tank but it is.

Tim drove me crazy with the pics of his latest smoked pork shoulder triumph. That guy can really bring it. He’s kind of thrown out the challenge flag and now it’s up to me to respond. Sounds like this could be another weekend to toss on the pork. He’s more of a methodical smoked meat disciplinarian than me. I put it on for 14 hours and that’s about the extent of the labor.

It was great to hear you and Liz got to spend time with Sondra and Jody, Reid. They are just great, great people. I wasn’t aware his son lived in Chicago so Jody got to double dip in a way. Those two don’t miss out on much fun. U2 and the Cubs – in a single weekend? While I’m watching the dog? I was up in Davidson last night for a dinner and wasn’t here when they retrieved Maizie. So there was no chance to ask if they went to Gibson’s for steak. But I’m really glad you had a chance to be with them.

Ellen, I’ll make flight plans today to get to St. Paul on Wednesday, July 5 for the Furstenau wedding.  I’ll rent a car this time since I’ll be all over the place. (Tell Tim to fire up that smoker.) And you guys should have a great time in California while Tim chases tarpon in Florida.

Reid, I’ll be in Chicago late on Monday, July 17. As of this writing Tom and I hit the road early on the 18th since we have to pick up Vince in Jackson on the 20th and it’s a solid two day drive. My plan is to take us through the Nebraska Sand Hills since Tom has never seen those natural wonders. What a walk it would be through those grand hills. In the long ago I dreamt of running through that part of the country but we know how that worked out.

And the Camino de Santiago guide book is getting something of a workout. I need to make my flight plans this week (and my plans in general since I’m a laggard on that aspect) since that adventure is getting closer, too. There’s so much to do for it. Tom has been there and I suspect much of our road time will be spent picking his brain on what to do and how to do it.

Love, Dad


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My friend Mort…

My friend Mort and I go way back.  Way back.  Back as in college days.  Mort lives but a stones throw away in Atlanta and I’ve scratched my head wondering why it took so long to write him. 

But in the spirit of better late than never, Mort indeed got his first letter from me last week.  He is an incredibly creative writer who loves Nebraska’s Sand Hills even more than me (read chapters of  Ghost Dance at http://churnhead.blogspot.com).  He works hard at a craft the rest of us can dabble with at best.


January 6, 2011

Mort: How is it that we have both ended up in the southland, you for more years than me but in roughly the same place and stage of our “careers”?   I still pinch myself – a form of self-abuse, I guess – many days wondering how the hell this has all come to pass.

I’m not one to overly beef about it, but as a recent convert to the “it is what it is” way of thinking, I can’t help but think of the daily reminder that is chief, but not the only factor, that keeps me here: the weather map.  It is just a hell of a lot nicer down here, on balance, than we might be experiencing back in the heartland.  I keep reminding Ellen and Reid that – rubbing it in, really – when it is 60F here it is likely -10F there.  You said the other day my blood must be getting thinner, but is there a way to make that happen to the rest of me, too?

There has to be a way to get you and Mike back down here.  Hill has to be going nuts, and taking Leann with him, as he twiddles his thumbs up there.  What would it take him to get to ATL?  A strong day and a half, max, to reach you?  Then it’s the short jaunt over here.  On my oath, I swear you would have separate rooms with clean sheets.  This is the sort of pilgrimage the two of you ought to make.  That, or I save you the gas – petrol and/or Mike’s gas – by jaunting over your way.  You make the call.  I can go either way.

I’m glad you liked the reference to the Sandhills.  The pioneers were probably smart to set up shop all those years ago near a source of water, the Platte, but if they’d only plunked Grand Island on the map a bit further to the north than that would’ve met my needs all that much better.  Pretty short-sighted on their part.  Must be the wind-swept appeal of those hills.  Kind of like New York; not sure I want to live there but I sure like to visit although a spot up that way could be fairly palatable if you had the right amenities like running water and Wi-fi.  A golf course within hailing distance would be a plus, too.  That round up by Chadron was one of the more memorable I’ve had although I can do without bunking at Ft. Robinson.  Have you read John Janovy’s book Keith County Journal?  Or was that you that turned me on to it?  Either way, it’s a good descriptor of that portion of the country.

On that score, I think you should plow ahead at flank speed with your book.  That you started it at all is sort of Lao-tzu – a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.  It’s just a matter of finishing.  I’ve been following that writer’s group you got me onto enough to know that the self-help stuff a lot of them promote is okay but hardly up to your standards.  There’s always room for a good oater.  Besides, you’ve come this far and there are lots of self-publishing situations that can help you bring it to fruition.  It’s all going online and e-book anyway.  I would volunteer as the necessary second set of eyes, and no doubt Hill would too, if he’s not already.

As for me, I’ll be content to trundle into the office every day and get done what needs to get done.  The last few months have been an epiphany on the work scene.  Some days I wonder about the long-term but then I look in the mirror and realize it’s me that needs to adapt and change.  I’ll keep the blog up and going since it is one of the few creative outlets at my disposal.  Readership is picking up bit by bit and that’s good enough for me.

Well, as Walkin and Mayeux used to say, it’s time to sign off.  Really, you and Mike butt heads and see what you can muster in terms of you coming here or me going there.  Either way, it is high time I got a chance to see you ruffians and to hear your old yarns.  Emphasis on the old.

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Stewards of whatever is left…

Those little specks in the distance are wild turkeys west of Grand Island. For once it would be nice if a cell phone camera had a zoom lens.

I do like Nebraska and the plains states.  I don’t care much for those who don’t when they opt to despoil the countryside and roadways with their castaway bottles and assorted trash.

If there is one thing (among many) I want the kids to be, it is caring stewards of whatever is left of their environment.  It is well and good to have a big picture view of smokestacks and global issues, but on a day in, day out basis it is up to them as individuals to care for their little corners of the world.  Last week’s letter has a veiled reference to such social responsibility.


December 28, 2010

Ellen/Reid: It’s lucky that we were able to travel at all after Christmas.  By sheer luck I asked a gate agent if there was room on a connector to Atlanta.  There was, and she stuck me in first class no less.  If I’d gone on to Cincinnati as I was perfectly comfortable doing, I would’ve met Ohio’s residency requirement by now.  Although I walked in the door about 2:00 a.m., it beat sleeping in some airport or a fleabag hotel.  Ellen, it was good you and Tim got to head west.

It was a good enough time in Grand Island.  Got to spend a lot of time with your grandmother.  The trips to see her were really snippets of time predicated on her ability to have guests; a half hour here, two hours there.  She just seems in a much better spot, physically and mentally, then she would’ve been had she stayed in Omaha.  But even so, she has slipped markedly.  Her mobility has all but collapsed.  Even last July she would zip around Lakeside.  Now, it’s everything she can do to stand and mosey behind her walker.  The tooth thing really threw her for a loop.  Your uncle says he thought she might die from the infection.  She cannot feed herself and, like your grandfather, she’s just not eating very much.  All her food is minced almost to puree status.  It’s hard to watch but she seems so even and happy.

Her memory is as you would expect.  I think she has purposefully shied away from what happened this summer.  She burst into tears several times as she criticized herself for forgetting her husband had passed away.  She asked me several times if her brother, my uncle Henry, was still with us.  I assured her he was but not a minute or two later she would ask me again.  It is just the degenerative nature of her disease.  It was humbling, and a little numbing, to watch her go through this although when you look at the other women at her care center, she is in much, much better shape.  It is a hell of a thing to lose your mind.  It was sad to know that for most of their lives, these women had been wives and mothers and lived active, involved existences.  Now, they are simply running out the string.  Your uncle thinks that mom might have a year or so.  It’s not for me to hazard a guess.

The rest of the time was fine, too.  I tried to be a good guest.  I made my bed and said the food was good.  The high points, beyond having some time with your uncle, were my walks in the country.  A quarter mile from their house and you’re in the sticks.  I really liked that.  There’s something about walking along a gravel road.  There was no noise beyond the wind whipping through cedars and the incessant tooting of the mile-long Union Pacific coal trains not far to the north.  Trains trudging east are laden with Wyoming coal, those headed west are empty and moving fast.  I watched for deer and wildlife and came across a field where, not 25 yards from me, were at least 100 wild turkeys foraging on spilt corn.  Because this part of Nebraska is in the Platte River flyway, there were lots of “V” formations of thousands of honking geese and ducks.  These are the wild birds, not the semi-tame Canadians that live year-round on golf courses and shit on the fairways.  A couple of times I walked into the adjacent corn fields trying to kick up a pheasant (unsuccessfully) in the weeds along the fencerows.  The only downer were dozens of plastic bottles and containers tossed aside by half-wit rural bozos.  I half-threatened to take a garbage bag with me to clean up their recyclable mess.  I wished, too, I’d been about 30 miles due north where the Sand Hills begin.  Now that would be a walk on the wild side.  When I was much younger and in running shape, I gave some serious thought about running the length of the state from southeast to northwest.  It would be a wonderful walk now.  The Sand Hills are special to me.

This morning I am in the office.  It is nearly barren of people and I’m trying to get some work done in relative peace.  Nice not to get inundated with endless piles of e-mail.  That can wait until next week.  And thanks for the incredible calendar.  It will replace the golf version on my cube wall.


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