Sunday, November 17, 2019

Poetically Speaking

As many of you are aware, I have two new poetry books that were recently released. The first, Thoughts from a Line at the DMV, came out in late September. This is a collection of 50+ poems about all sorts of subjects. It is the culmination of about three years worth of work, and I love everything about it.

But it is accompanied by a more recent release, Genetically Speaking: Poems on Fatherhood. This is a much smaller collection of 30 poems, called a chapbook. It was the product of last April's NaPoWriMo, which stands for National Poetry Writing Month. NaPoWriMo is a challenge to write a poem a day for the entire month of April. I entered a challenge by Local Gems Press where, at the end of the month, we were to submit our manuscripts for consideration for publication. Well, mine was one of the ones selected and suddenly I had two books "in-process" at one time.

So the publication process began, and proceeded along at the pace these things usually proceed. Ever since I submitted the final edits, I've been checking Amazon to see if it was up there for sale yet.

Well, at last, on Friday I found it was. (Get it here.)  And though this is my seventh book, there is still a wave of excitement that comes over me when I see my work out there. There is nothing quite like either seeing your book on Amazon or getting that first shipment of books in the mail.

Because of the subject matter, this book holds particular significance and meaning for me. You all know my family story by now, and this book touches upon all the sensitive touchstones of fatherhood for me. Every level of fatherhood is touched upon in it. Biological father, stepfather, father in-law, father figures and, of course, my own fatherhood experience.

Without giving away all of it, suffice it to say the book revealed some deep-seated emotional issues for me, for every level I mentioned. It is not all happy stuff. There is some deep sadness, a little anger and other fun emotions that I don't usually express well. I don't know where it came from as I wrote, I only know I wrote it from the heart. No one has, or is, the perfect parent(s). So, the book addresses the good the bad and the ugly. It is a little outside of my stylistic tendency, but that's maybe what I like about it. It shows the joy, the rawness, and the beauty of fatherhood.

I might add that I am ecstatic about the cover. When the publisher asked for images, I sent them three, two pictures were of the cabin we go to every year, and the third was a picture of my dad with 5 of us 7 kids. The one chosen was my favorite and it came out great. I'd love to know what you think of it.

So, this Saturday, November 23rd, I'll be launching both of these books at Cafe De Arts in downtown Waukesha at 3:30 PM. It will be a lot of laughs and I hope you can make it out. If not, I am also willing to ship one or both signed books for the cost + shipping. Just send me your address.

Blogging off...

Thursday, November 14, 2019

GIS For Everyone

Yesterday was GIS Day. For those who don't know, GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. And if you don't know what that is, you probably don't know what GIS Day is. Well, I'm here to tell you.

GIS Day is a day focused around getting the word out about GIS, what it is, what it can do and why we need it. The running joke is that it is an ESRI sanctioned holiday. ESRI is the company that makes the most-used GIS software in the world. They are based in Redlands California and I actually have a niece and nephew that work for ESRI out there. 

The owner of the company is Jack Dangermond, a  Forbes billionaire who is as down-to-earth as they come. I've had the opportunity to meet and talk to him on a few occasions. In the GIS circles, he has a cult-like following and he makes it a point to meet as many users as he can at their annual Users Conference in San Diego. He's a big deal - at least to us GIS folks.

Anyway, I decided we should do something in recognition of GIS Day at work. Sometimes people remind me that we are a little known entity at the county, so I wanted to make a point of getting the word out. So, my team and I put together a weeklong event called GIS Awareness Week. It features daily presentations on a variety of topics and is aimed at getting the word out about some of what we do in the Land Information Office. The presentations showcase applications, maps and data. 

So far we've had a great week of interacting with other GIS users at every level. I have said it before, but I LOVE my job. I love telling people about GIS and using it to help people do their jobs better. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to say I have spent my entire career in mapping and GIS. I have met a ton of great colleagues, smart folks who love the business as much as I do.

So, Happy GIS Day/GIS Awareness Week! 

Hug a GIS professional today!

Blogging off... 





Sunday, November 10, 2019

Figuring It Out

A few things have become apparent during these four days alone in my house. They are things that I might have already known in the back of my mind, but they became clearer as the weekend went along. Some are a-ha moments, others are just petty observations that bubbled up during my moments of painting or in the quiet where all I could hear was my tinnitus.

Some of the things that I've found.

1. Getting unlimited free time does not mean I'll finish my book, write 10,000 words or seven new poems. As much as I would like to devote eight hours of each of these days to writing, it just never seems to happen. My writing coach once said that life tends to get in the way with writing more often than not. In this instance, I had a painting project that beckoned me away after my morning write session. Sometimes I got back to writing, other times not.

2. Regarding that painting project, I realized that, like my mother, I get fairly obsessed with a project once its started. It is a bit of our work-ethic at play, but also some sort of weird OCD-manic-wet-paintbrush syndrome. As long as there is good music on the wireless speaker, it's hard to make myself stop.

3. I miss my kids. I was blessed to have Sarah and her boyfriend Sam come down and stay with me a couple of nights on their way to Chicago. I don't often get time alone with either of my kids, so it was a nice chance to hear what's going on in her life. Having them in the house took away some of my loneliness that usually sets in after my wife being away for 2 days or so.


4. I am fortunate to have an outstanding friend and colleague network. I spent Saturday night at a poetry reading of three poets who I highly respect, Cristina Norcross, Stephen Anderson and Dewitt Clinton. Though I only know them through my writing/poetry channels, they feel like old friends to me. They ask about my wife, kids, writing and even my fishing. We are a tribe of creatives, and we support one another when sometimes it seems like no one else does.

5. My house stays incredibly clean when I'm the only one here. Nothing moves out of its place. It's magical.

6. I miss laughing with my wife. We've had some serious changes to adapt to with having the kids move out, and one nice change is our ability to laugh with one another about our crazy day. We've rediscovered what brought us together and it has been all good.

So, these weekends alone are good for more than just projects and writing time. They remind me of who I am, how much I am loved and what a great network of people I've surrounded myself with. I am a lucky man.

Blogging off...

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Paint and Pablum

My wife went home to New York with her brother today. They are going to visit their mom who is suffering from dementia, as well as to see her dad, sister and brother in-law.

Meanwhile I have been tasked with painting the bedroom the two of us will be moving into this winter. When our daughter went to college, we decided we wanted the "big bedroom" she was in, because we thought it would be an upgrade. It's funny because over the past six or seven years we've been in it, we've never really taken to it. I guess we got used to the smaller bedroom and in a way it will always be our bedroom. So, we decided to go back to it.

Before we do, we are giving it a coat of fresh paint. I've lamented in the past how much I hate painting and it still stands. I might qualify it with not hating interior painting as much as exterior, but it's still not a favorite activity of mine. Some people say they love the fresh look, etc., that a coat of paint provides. Well, you know what? So do I. I just hate what it takes to get there.

But I realize it has to come from somewhere, so I paint.

As part of my prep for painting the ceiling, I put down tarps all across the floor. These are the plastic, crinkly kind that you get at Menards.

So, last night I was sitting downstairs and I kept hearing this crashing type sound, and I had no idea what it was. It came and went, wasn't consistent, so I wrote it off to the neighbors being noisy. I'm half deaf without my hearing aids, so I thought nothing of it.

Tonight as I was waiting for my dinner to cook, I heard a crashing again. I followed the noise up to the bedroom and saw a lump under the tarps. After a few seconds, out popped Isabelle the cat. She looked right at me like she'd been caught doing something horrible. If cats can look guilty, she was doing it.

I don't know what the point of all of this is. I do know that my house takes on a weird vibe when my wife goes away. The animals get all moody, I get manic after a couple of days and, well, it's just different, and not all in good ways. I always look forward to alone time, but after day two, I'm about ready to have her back on the loveseat across from where I sit every night.

29 years of marriage will do that I guess. You get to a point where you can't imagine life without someone in it. I guess that's what love does. I'm not going to fight it. I can be as happy alone as anyone, but we all have our limits. Talk to me in a couple of days and I'll let you know how it's going.

Until then, I'll paint to pass the time.

Blogging off...

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Festival Of The Bookish

Yesterday was day 2 of the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, arguably one of my favorite days of the year. This was the 10th year of the festival and it featured over seventy authors presenting about their work, the writing process and what's next.

This festival always starts on Friday by hosting a series called Authors in the Schools. It features sending over a dozen authors into area high schools to talk to students about writing.

I've been a part of this for about four years now and have come to really enjoy it, despite my loathing of the spotlight. It's become clear to me that if you do enough of this you can achieve a comfortable level of discomfort in front of a crowd.

Laughter from the crowd helps.

This year I spoke to 55+ students from an AP Composition class at New Berlin Eisenhower High School. The talk went very well. I spoke for 55 minutes and took questions for 5 minutes. Students were courteous and engaged and none fell asleep, a plus for sure. The coordinator was kind enough to treat me to lunch as well. Perhaps the coolest part of it all though was the fact that they bought 5 of my books and put them into the library system.

Then, Friday evening and yesterday, I spend the day with colleagues, friends, authors and poets from all around Wisconsin at the book festival. Friday night featured Andre Dubuus III, author of House of Sand and Fog. He was an incredible speaker and I really enjoyed his keynote. He talked about how his tough upbringing in a violent, poor, lower middle class area of Massachusetts turned him to writing. He also described how he has a soundproof studio where he goes to write for 3-4 hours a day and starts every session by reading a poem to get his creative juices flowing.

Saturday was a full day for me. I started at a session on memoir by Lila Schwenk, Julie Beekman and Nancy and Liz Jorgensen, mother and sister of Gwen Jorgensen, the US Olympic Gold Medalist at Rio in 2016. It was fun listening to the struggles of other memoir/nonfiction writers. It's good to know I'm not alone out there struggling to tell the story correctly without offending family and friends. I also bought Go, Gwen, Go, the book about the Gold Medalist because the story sounds so compelling.

The rest of the day was filled with words and friends. I had the privilege of moderating three accomplished poets, Angie Trudell Vasquez, Fabu, and Drew Blanchard, who read from their books and talked about their inspiration.

It was interesting to hear their stylistic differences. The poem that hit me hardest was by Fabu and repeated the line about an "Unnamed negro from Green Bay..." that spoke about the death of one of the first black residents in Wisconsin. She spoke about the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slaves on American soil from Africa. Some tragic visualizations and powerful words.

The day was filled from end to end. The last session myself and others read from the Bards Against Hunger poetry anthology put together by Ed Werstein. Again, some heart wrenching poems about hunger and poverty at the local level. Poetry speaking the truth and seeking social change.

A lot of thanks goes out to the many organizers, sponsors and volunteers of this great festival. I sat on the program committee and saw firsthand the amount of planning that goes into it. It is a credit to Barry Wightman and the rest for putting on a first class festival.

I can't wait for next year.


Blogging off...

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Fishing With Veterans

This past weekend was spent fishing for muskie with my friends Steve and John, a tradition that is ten years running now, as I mentioned last post. I'll be honest, I had a bad feeling going in. I figured since I got one last year, it was back to the drought. 

It turns out I couldn't have been more wrong.

Within the first hour of the first day, we boated a 40" fish that my buddy hauled in. Then within an hour and a half of that one, I caught a 30" fish while casting. There is nothing quite like catching a muskie casting (as opposed to trolling), so I was elated to not be skunked. 

Then, while John was taking my fish off, the bobber started moving on one of the suckers in the water. It was what we call a "doubleheader" in the fishing world; two fish on at the same time. It's something that is almost unheard of in the muskie fishing world. 

Because my fish was much tinier than the 40" fish caught earlier, they decided to let me catch the one on the bobber. After about 10 minutes I landed my second fish of the day, a 36"er. It put up a tremendous fight and I shook for 15 minutes. It was a moment that I won't soon forget.

The following day we hooked into another 37" and lost a couple more that spit the bait. None of us could believe our luck.

To add to an already fantastic weekend, John, his girlfriend Jen and I all surprised Steve with showing him where his father's name would be engraved at the Presque Isle Wilderness Veterans Memorial. It is a beautiful memorial right outside downtown that features granite markers for each war and an "eternal flame" that funds raised by donors keep burning. 

The idea was John and Jens, and when they told me, I told them I was in for sure. I got a couple pictures of Steve's dad, Richard Krey and the dates he served etc. They sent it in and now his picture an service info is on the website

Steve seemed pretty touched and it was a cool moment between three guys who have fished together for 10 years and become pretty good buddies. I credit both of them for making my muskie experiences way better than I ever dreamed. It hasn't always been easy, but they sure do make it fun. I'm lucky to have them as friends. They both love to help other people catch fish.

Now, I can't wait until next October.

Blogging off...

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Ten Years Running - Off The Grid

By the time this is visible, I will be on my way to my happy place in the great Northwoods of  Wisconsin. This will be my 10th year going up in October for what I term, Muskyfest.

My first trip in 2009 came with much trepidation. My friend Steve had asked a couple of times if I'd ever want to come up muskie fishing. I told him that I wasn't really into fishing for a single species with a high probability of not coming home with a picture of a fish. I'd seen a few of his pictures where he was dressed in a winter coat and hat holding a giant fish, and the appeal just seemed wane even more.


After a couple of rejections, I finally gave in to see what all the hype was about. We went up on a Thursday night in mid-October and gave it a go. On Friday, we had a gorgeous day, where we fished a favorite lake all day. It wasn't until about 4:00 when we'd just cracked a beer and were having a sandwich wrap when the "clicker" on the rod we were trolling with started clicking. Steve checked the line for tension and said, "Yeah, you might want to put down that beer and catch this fish."

It ended up being a small 34" fish, but suffice it to say that fish changed everything. After we'd photographed it and set it free, I still shook for 10 minutes afterward. The adrenaline rush that these fish incite in a fisherman is second to none.

I was hooked!

Needless to say I've been going up every year since. It's become a bit of an obsession with me. I've fished in rain, snow, sleet and high winds. The things you do for a minute long fight with a large fish. As for all my fears about the cold weather, well, it turns out you can dress for that! ;-)

Much of the trip involves a friendly, ongoing banter in the boat with my buddies, Steve and John. It helps pass the time, and the laughter is therapeutic. This is the place where I can let go of all the stress and routine of my life back in the cities. It is grounding and, I kid you not, this last fishing trip of the year is part of what gets me through the winter.

So, if I don't pick up my phone in the next 3 days, you'll know why. (Besides, the cell coverage up there is the worst!)

Going off the grid and,

Blogging off...


Sunday, October 20, 2019

A Visit From An Old Friend

Last night we went and saw the movie Western Stars with a couple of good friends. These friends are music lovers just like us, so when we saw that it was coming out, we set the date. We're all big Springsteen fans, and they had never seen him in concert, so thought this would be the next best thing.

I've seen him in concert twice in the 80's when he was in his prime. The first time was for The River tour. I went with some friends and were treated to one of the best concerts I've ever been to, and I've seen a lot of them. The second time was for the Born in the USA tour and again he did not disappoint. Both concerts were pushing 3 hours in duration. It was amazing and set the bar for every other performer I've seen, a bar that few if any have hit.



I know not everyone is a Springsteen fan, and that's fine. But regardless of what you think of his music, you cannot deny his legacy of songwriting and performing. His songs tell stories and are in every sense of the word, poetic. I remember when his Nebraska album came out - it was an entirely acoustic album, after a half dozen rock albums had established his name as one of the best. Lots of people panned the album. I happened to love it. Lyrically it was all Bruce, and I totally understood his need to stretch creatively.

So the movie was a concert he put on in his barn with a full orchestra and band. The music was entirely his new album, Western Stars, that has a country and Americana feel to it, mixed with a bit of Neil Diamond epic ballads thrown in. It's growing on me. In between each song, was a voiceover explaining each song. These snippets were accompanied by sweeping vistas of the American Southwest and or people interacting. His stories were authentic and provided some great glimpses into the heart of people and this country. It was a great movie, and I recommend it.

And of course, as with all of my rock heroes, he's showing his age (as am I!). He's 70 years old, and looks 55. But along with Bob Seger, who I saw last December, I can't think of a rock star who I looked up to as much as those guys. They are storytellers, phenomenal performers and yet vulnerable to the passing of time, just like you and I.

But for one night, it was great to see him back making music (albeit as a movie.)

He's still and always will be The Boss.

Blogging off...

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Genetically Blogging

It seems I have another book in the books, so to speak. I finally got my cover for my newest chapbook, Genetically Speaking: Poems on Fatherhood, from my publisher, Local Gems Press. After the last of my textual edits, they've sent it off to press and I should be receiving my copies in three weeks. Huzzah!

For those who don't know, my other collection, Thoughts from a Line at the DMV, came out a couple of weeks ago. (It's been a very good year). I was waiting for this one to come to completion so I could schedule a dual-book release in November. Watch for details on that, tentatively pending for Nov. 16th or 23rd.

The book came about through a NaPoWriMo contest by Local Gems Press back in April. Poets are encouraged/obligated to write a poem a day for the whole month. Then, at the end of the month, we were supposed to submit our manuscripts for consideration. I was a "honorable mention" that also got an offer of publication. Thus, Genetically Speaking was born.

The book comes at fatherhood from all dimensions. If you know my background, you know my father was killed at a young age. Many of the poems address that experience - all the questions and subsequent angst that comes with such a tragedy.

Twelve years later, my mom remarried and suddenly we had a "stepfather," who also appears throughout the book. It looks at all of the struggles of living with a dad who is not blood but fills the role of one and comes bringing some issues. 

And then there's the father in-law experience that comes with any marriage. The father by default whose traits you sometimes see in your spouse sometimes and suddenly things make more sense.

Sprinkled throughout are poems about the father-figures in my life. I'm talking about friends who've mentored me, a brother who helped fill in where a dad should have, and those I admire for adopting children, a selfless act that exceeds my own fatherhood experience.

This one is not filled with as much humor as my poems of the past. Fatherhood is not all laughs and humor. Some are tragic for people and for those people I mourn. Mine was mostly good - what little of it I had. And of course there is a ton of reflection on my own fatherhood experience, a source of unending joy in my life.

So, without giving more about the book away, I have to say, keep your eyes peeled on my website and social media for details on the signings. I hope to schedule one for Minnesota as well as a handful in Wisconsin.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

October's Fest

 Fall is always a melancholy time of year for me. I love the colors and the beauty of a nice fall day, yet it is a brutal reminder of what follows as well. I admit I am in full denial and was wearing short sleeves until yesterday, when the bottom dropped out of the weather and I was forced to go full sweatshirt.

At the same time, this time of October always holds great significance for me for a number of reasons. Today was my nephew (and godson) Nick's birthday. He and I were pretty close as he was young and have maintained a great bond ever since. He is currently serving our country in the Middle East, leaving his family back in Wisconsin while he finishes out his tour.

And of course I can't forget that tomorrow my brother Rob would have been 55. Not a day goes by where I don't think of him in one way or another. He always loved this time of year as well. He was a rabid Viking fan but also loved going to the apple orchard and picking pumpkins with his wife and daughters. He was a Halloween buff and got into decorating the house and/or going all out in his costuming.

Rob's presence is missed at family functions, but I still allege that his legacy was leaving all of us with a sense of living life with a grateful heart for each day as well as a compelling sense of urgency and purpose. "Live life to the fullest," was a saying he used with frequency, well before he was sick. They almost seem prophetic now.

Tattoo with date. 10-14-11
Another reason this time of October is significant is it usually the time I go muskie fishing. The fall bite is on and in a couple of weeks I'll be going up to fish for them again. And of course the colliding of both of these worlds happened 8 years ago tomorrow when I caught a muskie on what would have been Rob's 48th birthday. It was a smallish fish, but it helpd great significance for me. My friends Steve and John helped make it all happen in the rain on that lake that day, and I will always remember the day and the time with my friend who helped me remember my brother. It was the inspiration behind the tattoo I got in 2013 in honor of him. He will be there with us in spirit again in a couple of weeks.

And finally, this is the time of year that the traditional Landwehr Hunt takes place in northern Minnesota. This is a tradition started by my dad and his brothers over 50 years ago. Now it is all the sons and grandsons that go to Gull Lake to catch up, play cards and have some adult beverages. Hunting has always been a "decoy" for what really goes on. Often times no one brings a gun.

I've only been to one of these gatherings, and it was the only one all four of us brothers were all present for. At one point there were about six of us in a deer stand smoking cigars. It was like a sweat lodge except with smoke. Crazy stuff, but I laughed so hard my side hurt for two days. I am glad I made the trip. They'll be going up again this year, and again without me, as it falls too close to my fishing weekend, but I know it will be meaningful time together.

So, as much as I dread the oncoming winter, this month of October means a lot to me. Special people, special times and captivating memories. I am going to embrace the cool weather, the glorious colors and time with people I love.

Blogging off...

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Existentiality Is Not Just For Breakfast

I got an email last night about one of my poems that sort of caught me off-guard. I am always grateful for feedback on my writing as, for one, it means people are reading my work, and secondly that it is having an impact. 

This one referenced a poem, Wednesday's Child. The poem came from my collection, Written Life, and addresses the night my father was killed at the hands of a gang of men. I titled it after the nursery rhyme "Monday's Child" about children according to the various days of the week. It reads:

Monday’s child is fair of face
Tuesday’s child is full of grace
Wednesday’s child is full of woe
Thursday’s child has far to go
Friday’s child is loving and giving
Saturday’s child works hard for his living
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

I thought the Wednesday theme was fairly relevant given the tone of the poem. 

Anyways, the woman who emailed mentioned how the poem made her cry and even pray. She prayed against the violence and racism of today, and I must admit I pray that every day as well.

When I thanked her, I told her the story behind the poem and how everyone has a story and this was mine. I also mentioned that it all ended well, in that my mother was a hero and raised us all to be decent, loving human beings. She replied back with her own tough childhood story, thereby validating my thought that everyone has a story. Many are tragic. What makes us who we are is how  we respond and carry on through it all. 

Our humanity is shaped by our tragedy and our character is shaped by everything after.

So between this touching email and a friend dealing with a recent heart attack, another dealing with cancer, another with a detached retina, and yet another who is grateful to be alive after a wicked car accident, I am having yet another existential crisis. 

I hate to blab on and on about how lucky I am to be alive and in good health, but all of these things around me remind me of my life in the balance. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow or next month, and I am brutally aware that I need to live like it. We all do. 

Here is the poem she referenced.

Wednesday’s Child          by Jim Landwehr                                                                 

On a warm Wednesday night in June
my father steps into a bar not knowing
it would be a step preceding his father
into eternity with The Father.

A beer to numb the pain
of the angst of his middle age
and maybe another to numb it more
because it was Wednesday night.

The Wednesday night regulars say their hellos
and speak of loves, loss, and luck
while Johnny Cash sings
about those same things in the key of E.

In walk four youths with nothing to lose
looking for someone to prove it to.
He was the biggest target they could find
for their Wednesday night wilding.

They take him on four to one
he holds his own for a bit,
fighting to make it to Thursday
on this Wednesday night in June

But they kick and punch
with brutality and vengeance
beating a man because of his race
for fun on a Wednesday night.

When they leave he asks, why me?
Before he gets an answer
they return and beat him again,
beat him to death on this Wednesday night.

A call comes in from dispatch:
Altercation at Happy Harry’s,
a man down, bleeding, not breathing.
Lights and sirens, too late on a Wednesday night.

*From the poetry collection, Written Life

Blogging off...


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Shirking My Routine

I am as lame as they come when it comes to changing up my Saturday routine. I have come to love sameness and ritual on weekends, so when a curveball comes, I tend to grumble about it for a few weeks before it even happens.

Typically my Saturdays are completely predictable. Coffee with my wife, home to walk the dog, vacuum the whole house, go to library and write for a couple hours, do more house chores, have dinner or go out to eat, go to bed. Simple, boring and something I've come to love.

Last weekend it was all messed up by an all-day golf event. Yesterday all of that routine was blown out of the water by an all-day writing conference I attended in Middleton, just outside of Madison. I was invited to the conference because I served as a judge in one of its contests. Of course, I was flattered, and it was fairly close to where I live, so I agreed.

Very much like the golf tournament the week before and true to what almost always happens, my change in routine was stimulating, rejuvenating and a ton of fun. 

At these events I always walk in trepidatious about meeting and knowing people. It is a stupid, energy wasting fear, because I always end up sitting/talking with someone I know and it is fine. Why then such dread about that initial social introduction? I have no idea, other than my tendency toward introversion. Some seek out these things, others like me dread it until it happens, then we're fine.

The day was full of information and tips on writing and the writing/publishing process. A few of the highlights:

  1. A mystery writer who talked about moving the story along. I am not a mystery writer, but listening to this highly successful writer talk about the do's and don'ts of keeping a story moving with pacing, dialogue etc, was fascinating.
  2. The Wisconsin poet laureate who had us work with interweaving two subjects together to give a poem depth and complexity that it might have never had before. She has advanced degrees in English and writing and made me realize how flat my poetry and nonfiction is. (This is an eye opening realization, of course...)
  3. The winners of the Jade Ring Contest read some of their work over lunch. An entertaining diversion from taking notes on the presentations.
  4. A young woman came up and introduced herself as a fan of my work. She mentioned she was an English teacher at Arrowhead High School and had referenced my poems on a few occasions in her class. After talking to her for 5 minutes, I asked her name. It turns out it was Liz Jorgensen, sister of Gwen Jorgensen and daughter of Nancy, who I recently became friends with on Facebook. We had a great chat. It is these kinds of spontaneous networking opportunities that make these conferences so valuable.
  5. It turns out Liz then did a presentation on a cool form of Korean poetry called Sijo, (Pronounced SheeJoe). We all then wrote one and it gave me a new style to mess around with.
  6. Kim Suhr, a local writing teacher who owns her own studio gave a captivating talk on how to revise our work - a task no one likes, but is highly important.
  7. And finally, the day closed out with a wonderful author who hails from New York who talked about how to end a story well. After his talk was over, I asked if he had one good Woodstock story, as I'd heard he'd been there. He mentioned he was one of the few cops there in charge of 500,000 people and went on to tell a great story.
To finish off an already great day, I took my son out for dinner in Madison and had a great chat with him about his studies and his future. Such a good kid, living out a great collegiate experience in one of the best college towns in the nation. I live it vicariously through him.

So the day was nothing short of a fantastic diversion from my usual routine. Deep in the recesses of my mind, I knew it would, yet I still sort of dreaded it. And while I'll spend the rest of today catching up on what I didn't get done yesterday, I am a little richer person because I stepped out of that routine for 12 hours yesterday.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Me and Billy Preston

As a memoirist, I tend to be a raving nostalgic as well. I am one of those who looks back and tends to only see good things. Maybe it is part of my outlook - I tend to favor positivity and optimism, so maybe it's just the good things I see while relegating the bad to the deep recesses of the forgotten.

My wife and I have discovered that we are opposites that way. She tends to be forward-looking and has little time for the past. It carries through especially with regards to material keepsakes and such. I will pull out a photo album or a card my kids wrote and spend time looking at it and reminiscing. She can appreciate it, but has very little time for it or attachment to it. 

I'm not sure what makes some people nostalgic and others not so much. One of my biggest triggers is music. If I hear a song from the '70s, I am instantly back to the place that it reminds me of - my front porch, a friend's car, high school, wherever. 

For instance, whenever I hear Billy Preston sing "Will it go round in circles," I always picture him on the Midnight Special, a television show built around live performances by bands. I remember him banging away on a piano with a big afro and as a 12 year old kid, I thought, this dude is killin' it! It gave me an appreciation for his music and was one of those "where were you when you..." moments. I was in my living room watching the Midnight Special.

Or when I hear, Ride Captain, Ride, by The Blues Image, I am taken back to the beach at Bayport, Minnesota on the Saint Croix river with my step siblings. Those Saturdays were the best, times when we had few cares and it was summer. 

I tend to think of Lava Lamps, mood rings, and TV shows like The Waltons and Charlie's Angels. At the same time, I tune out the bad news of the day, like oil crises, Iranian hostages, and presidential impeachments, and the Vietnam war. Those things take back seat to Tang, Quisp and Quake, and disco (well, I guess disco was bad news of a different type.)

So when I write memoir, I think this is why I have such a love for it. It allows me not only to go back to those times, but to recreate them, hopefully in a realistic way that enables people to draw upon their own similar memories. And while I don't necessarily want to go back to those times - I love my life today - I do have a love for my past and feel I am lucky to have lived it. 

Blogging off...

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Importance Of Friends

It has been a week of reconnecting with friends. On Tuesday I got together with a group of friends I used to work alongside in a writing workshop. We keep in touch on Facebook, and it's been six months or so since we all got together that someone mentioned we should get together over a beer and see what each other is up to.

We gathered at a local microbrewery and talked and laughed about our writing projects, failures and successes and where we were at with our works in progress. The answers ranged from people who had not written since we'd been together last, to those with books coming out or in progress. We respected those who'd gone different directions and praised those who'd stuck with it. Writing is hard work and you can't force it. It comes and goes.

The reason I appreciate this group of friends and love getting together with them is because we can all talk like a bunch of writing geeks and none of us tires of hearing about the others' struggles. We also know we won't be boring them like we might with someone who doesn't appreciate writing, or just doesn't care. We talk about plots, and endings, story arcs and writing block. On Tuesday, we picked up right where we left off 6 months ago. They are a group of friends I am glad to have because they think like me.

Then, yesterday I golfed in my one golf outing of the year, the Greater Krey Open, or GKO. It is a fundraiser for cancer setup by my good friend Steve and his family every year. He lost his brother Pete to cancer about 10 months before I lost my brother Rob to cancer. The tournament is played as a best ball "fun" outing with on the order of 60 golfers or so, I would estimate.

I golfed with the guys I usually golf with and as in past years it was an absolute riot. Our team finished a humiliating 4 over par, which is pretty bad for a scramble, but we didn't care. It was too much fun to be concerned with score. The four of us spend 18 holes laughing at each others' bad shots, cracking jokes about their feeble drives and trash talking about shots so deep in the woods they might have killed a deer.

And at the end of the day, we gather for dinner and beer, and a raffle of prizes. It is a great way to spend a fall day every year, one I've come to look forward to every year.

It occurred to me as the evening ended, how lucky I was to have good friends like these guys. Thinking back to Tuesday, I remembered how great it felt to connect with my writing colleagues.

In some ways I am a horrible friend. Especially when someone spontaneously asks me to do something that doesn't give me enough notice. I am an introvert by nature and need to work up my energy to a friend event. If I don't have a week or two's notice, I will usually decline someone's offer to do something spontaneously. It's a weird habit, but one I can at least acknowledge. I am grateful for those friends who stick it out and keep trying with me. It's not them, it's me.

But if I get enough notice and have planned for the event, I am ALL IN when I get there. I love being around friends for a couple of hours catching up and, most of all, laughing our heads off. I guess that makes me a good friend provided I have advance notice. Like I said, weird.

It is so important to have good friends. Old friends, new friends, casual friends and even virtual social media friends. I have fishing friends, church friends, coffee friends, work friends, friends of friends and friends I only see once a year. They all keep me laughing, they check up on me, ask how I'm doing and rejoice with in my successes. They are one of the most important keys to a happy life, at least in my opinion.

So, to all of my friends out there, Thank You for hanging out with me.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Hallmarkiest of Days

Today is National Daughters Day. I was unaware there was such a thing until I saw it all over Facebook this morning. It sounds a little like a Hallmark Holiday to me, but I'll take any chance to celebrate my daughter, or my son for that matter. (I am looking into whether there is a National Son Day, and if there is, I'll expect a Hallmark card, mom.)

A father/daughter and father/son relationship is incredibly important. Not everyone has a good one to speak of. I am painfully aware of this - due in part to my own experience. No parent has a rule book. We all just make it up as we go. Knowing that I did what I consider my best and, well, now she's on her own, and independent, and I think she's going to be okay.

I will confess that there are a number of moments in my life with her that I will always carry.

1. The ride home in the car in a blinding snowstorm the night after she was born. That was me crying like a big dope, blinded by snow. The weight of joy and love just sort of overtook me.

2. Standing on the dock at a lake up in Hackensack, Minnesota while she caught sunfish after sunfish. Her love of fishing was born on that dock, of that I am convinced.

3. That squeaky violin recital in grade school. Her turn in front of the crowd was as rough as the rest, but absolutely beautiful music to her parents' ears.

4. Watching her play freshman volleyball in high school. She agreed to play because we told her she needed to try a sport. Well, she pretty much hated every minute of every game, but she finished. I give her total credit for that. Some kids are jocks. Some are not. Parenting 101.

5. Seeing her off to prom her junior year. No father is really ready for that and I was no different.

6. Watching her walk for her college graduation. It doesn't get much better than watching your kid graduate from your alma mater.

And with any child, it takes a village. I am grateful to have a family that supported her all along. She had aunts and cousins and almost-aunts that loved her as much as we did. All of that pays dividends when you see what your child has become. All I know is I am a lucky father.

Blogging off...

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Bookishness


Like my wife, I am one of those people that needs to have two books "in-progress" at all times. Books to me are complete escape, so if I can go to three different "aways" on any given evening, I'm all for it.

My reading interests are a little all over the place at the moment.

My Fiction Escape: I just finished "Copper River" by William Kent Krueger. He writes murder mysteries based in northern Minnesota, so there is a home connection too, which I love. I never thought I'd like mysteries, but I've found his style to be captivating. He not only has a wonderful descriptive style - one I aspire too, but may never achieve - but he has a way with introducing unexpected twists and tying characters together. Add to all of that, the regional appeal and well, I'm glad to have stumbled upon his books. (He has 18 or so, so I certainly have enough to get to, as well.

My Existential Handbook: I keep Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Being Peace around so I can refer
to it on an as needed basis. Thich is a Zen Master, a global spiritual leader and peace activist. His book is a reminder of how much we miss when we forget to be mindful of the present. It talks a lot about breathing and smiling as movements toward happiness.He talks of smiling during an exhale and while it seems odd, to me it's not. It is a little bit of fake it till you make it. We smile when we're happy, so smiling "out of turn" may even have an effect on our outlook or physical help. Call it hocus-pocus or what you will, but it seems to help. If nothing else, the book has taught me to be in the present and to spend less time frantic and filled with worry.

My Religious Read: I've always enjoyed reading books on faith and Christianity. My recent forays have been into some of the edgier authors like Peter Rollins, Brian Zahnd and, most recently, Richard Rohr. I am currently working through Rohr's book, The Universal Christ. A group of friends and I meet at Raised Grain, a local microbrewery, to have a couple of beers and talk about the book. It is heady stuff, and I'm not talking about the beer here. The premise of the book is that God is everywhere and the DNA of God is in everything. More importantly then, if that is true, we need to look at each person we meet as the image of God - somewhere in there, in some cases - and treat them as such. I can't say enough about what I'm learning from his books and his podcasts. He is so wise. This particular book reminds me that while life is important, I am but one small part in the greater cosmos.

My Poetry Book Of The Moment: I am currently working through, We Are Beat, a large anthology by Local Gems Press that I am featured in, among a host of others. Along with this, I am revisiting Benediction and Baseball, by Ed Werstein, a Milwaukee poet. He was featured at a reading I went to the other night and so I thought I'd open his book again. (I'd read it a couple of months ago.) Good stuff by a guy I aspire to write as good as someday.

That's my list for the moment. It changes monthly. I can't say enough about how important books have been to me and my children. They both love to read too. Sarah is heavy into a fantasy series and Ben was last seen reading the Sand County Almanac, which makes me very happy. Such a classic.

What's on your nightstand?

Blogging off...

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Just What I Didn't Need


On Monday, another rock star, Ric Ocasek of The Cars, died. Earlier last week, Eddie Money a rock star of my era also died. All of this has caused me some angst, as the death of a rock star does, apparently.

The Cars were my absolute favorite band for years in the early 80's I saw them four times over the years, 1979 to 1984. I idolized those guys. Ric went on to have a pretty successful solo career to, which I followed to a degree. So when I saw the news that he'd passed away I was shocked and saddened. I guess I didn't know he was 75, which is shocking in its own right. But the point is this kind of thing keeps happening and it's a sucker punch to me every time.

After I got through the initial alarm of it, I talked through the meaning of life with my wife and a couple of friends/ I said to my wife, "What's the point if everything in life keeps dying?" Her and I have had a lot of mortality talks lately, for some reason. I think some of it is has to do with having both of the kids out of the house. We've just got each other from day to day now, so we tend to go beneath the surface of each other's angst. Some of it may have to do with having passed the age of 50. And I know some of it has to do with dying rock stars. I mean, why wouldn't it?

My wife and I are joking of course when we speak lightly of death and all that goes with it. Hopefully we'll have another 30 years together, but one never knows. It is a gift to have her to laugh in the face of death, though. It grounds me. We talk about going down in a plane when returning from Europe someday and think to ourselves that "at least we'll be together". There's a lot of truth there.

To continue working out Ric's death, the brevity of life and my own mortality, I reached out to my friend, Pat. He and I go back to grade school and are on the same page spiritually and many other things. I brought up the book of Ecclesiastes to him because it goes on about "There is a season for everything" and he reminded me that we need to remember how God sees us and that should be sufficient. Quit worrying about death and live harder for the here and now. 

So I have to ask, am I going crazy or does everyone over 55 think this way? I hope I have a healthy outlook about it. I can at least laugh about my obsession with it. At the same time it has ramped up the urgency of living each day like it's my last. I've said it before, I need to have coffee with everyone soon, so we can catch up before one of us isn't around anymore. A chance to say, "Hello. How have you been? You feeling good? Take care of yourself."

I'll text you all tomorrow and set a date. If I don't, please know I'm thinking of you and are glad you're in my life.

Blogging off...


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Fixing The World One Cup At A Time

Every Thursday morning I have coffee with 2 or three friends at Cafe De Arts in Waukesha. I look at this time as some of my favorite discussion time every week. It is a group I was invited to years ago by one of the regulars, and thinking it was another myopic Christian men's Bible study, of which I was still in recovery from, I rightfully declined. Within a week, I got another invite after running into another regular of the group at a different coffee shop.

I took this as a sign that maybe I should give it a shot.

Well, suffice it to say it was not at all what I feared. When I first joined, I found out that these guys sometimes did a book study, but with very loose rules to it. If you didn't get to the reading for the week, there was no shame, heck some guys never got around to buying the book. That's about as loose as you can get.
A few Thursday Coffee Guys. -Photo Courtesy of RoostMKE

It is not always a religious book either. We've read books by Buddhists, hippies and recovering evangelicals. Put another way, we are NOT reading the likes of Purpose Driven Life.

Anyway, sometimes it's not a book at all, like the current moment. We are "between books" and just get together to talk, laugh and have coffee. And it is interesting the subjects that come up from week to week.

This week, one of the guys expressed his guilt at having just traveled to Scotland for vacation. He said he was feeling guilty for the "irresponsibility" of the air travel he'd just undertaken in the name of personal entertainment. Now, to be fair, this guy drives a hybrid vehicle that gets 50 miles to the gallon. Despite that he was still feeling guilt because we are all dreadfully aware of all that is going on with the climate and carbon buildup.

It was then that one of us pointed out that a plane burns 17 gallons of fuel a minute. 17 gallons a minute!* I was horrified. How could anyone travel internationally anywhere with a clear conscience I wondered?

Well that led to how we take car travel for granted and that the real problem is too many cars. We noted that in the 70's, a 20 minute ride across town was a lot! A distance that made you think twice, not due in part to gas prices. Now, people think nothing of a 40 minute commute. Daily!

The discussion digressed from there, as they sometimes do and turned to how we all should resort back to ship travel if we're going to go international. It is at least more economical.

I mentioned how the president of ESRI, the software company we use at work, donated enough a few years ago to plant a tree for every person at the conference, thereby offsetting the carbon used to get people there. I thought that was a novel concept.

I told them that I have environmental guilt too, but that now that I've been to London, I have a travelling bug and want to go back to Europe. So, basically, while I feel bad about what it takes to get there, I still want mine. That is the way entitlement feels. I know it and I'm not sure I'm ready to give it up. I am, therefore, the problem. I shoudl ideally bend to my guilt and stay in my neighborhood for the rest of my life. And wow, that is so fun.

So, instead of flying as a tourist or even taking a ship overseas, my friend said I should go to Africa, and plant some trees when I get there. When I asked if I could do it in Scotland or Italy, as I'd rather go there, he said, "They don't need trees. You have to go to Africa."

So that is how the conversations go from serious "How to save the planet" to lightening it up in the name of keeping our sanity. I am at least happy to be among company that thinks at this level. One week we are talking about micro-plastics in our water, the next about the military war machine, and the next about solar arrays that will one day soon will provide 7% of a California city's power need. Not only that, but you can plant crops in the shade of these solar arrays, that could not formerly be grown there because of the sun. Ideas on top of ideas.

I told these guys if we met for coffee every week, we could achieve energy independence and global peace.

And I believe that, if only everyone else in the world would listen.

Blogging off...

*(I later looked it up and it turns out it a 747 burns one gallon a second. One a second! At the same time, when spread over a 500 person plane, it turns out to be more efficient than a car. Well, who knew? I feel slightly better. See the article here.)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Working Up The Food Service Corporate Ladder

In my work in progress book about my days at Cretin High School I talk a little about another job I had at The Lexington Restaurant in St. Paul. The manager of the place at the time, Don Ryan, actually lived across the street from us. His kids were pretty good friends with our family, so pretty much any of us who wanted to work there had a job if we wanted one.

I think it was late in my sophomore year that I applied and got the job as a dishwasher. Dishwashers were also called pearl divers, for some odd reason, but it was pretty much the starting position for any teenager at the place. You could work your way "up" to salad chef, busboy or even waiter if you worked hard and didn't piss off the management too much.

It was hard work, especially on busy Friday nights. Busboys brought in trays stacked with dirty dishes almost faster than you could clear them. There was always two dishwashers and a pot washer. The dishwashers would split duties, one working trays and the "clean end" of dish runs, the other was relegated to the hole, as it was affectionately called. The hole was where all the dirty dishes went and were rinsed and the resulting garbage sent into the garbage disposal.

I worked the hole enough and occasionally pulled some interesting things out of the garbage disposal. Bottle caps, bones and cocktail forks. The best find though was a pair of dentures. Well, it was the bottom ones anyway. It sorta skivved me out to tell you the truth. I can see how it happened though. Probably took them out to eat and wrapped them in a napkin that got shook out to the "hole."

Good times.

I remember the industrial dishwasher that sent dishes out the clean end at about a zillion degrees. We had to quickly stack them and get rid of the rack because another rack was usually right behind it. It  was a little like Lucy and Vivian n the chocolate line. Between the heat and the industrial detergent, my hands peeled, cracked and dried.

But the job taught me a good work ethic. You had to work fast, hard and long hours. Some weeknights they'd stay open till 11:30 or so and after running our last load, we'd go home and try and get 6 hours of sleep before school the next day. It was brutal, didn't help my grades any, but the money was good.

I eventually worked my way up to Salad Chef. It was an upgrade from the heat and garbage of pearl diving, but had stress of it's own. I worked there a few months and then went over to "the dark side" as busboys and waiters were called. The kitchen help always called them that. As a busboy I made great tips, but again, it was stressful. Lots of heavy trays of food and dirty dishes. Then there was the time my armload of soups got caught in the "automatic" doors that were finicky to open and time your walk-through.

My days at the Lexington helped pay my way through Cretin, which was not cheap. And while it taught me that hard work can make you rich(ish), it also taught me that there was no way I wanted to work in the food service industry. It also taught me the value of getting a good education so I wouldn't have to.

The restaurant still stands today. Check out their website here.

And if you should go there, tell them busboy Jim sent ya.

Blogging off...

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Thoughts From A Cover Reveal

So here is the cover to my forthcoming poetry collection. I can't say enough about how happy I am with it. It is perfect!

For starters I have to give full credit to the artist. His name is W. Jack Savage, a fellow native-Minnesotan now living in California. I have touted his work on my blog before, right here. You should check out his work if you get a chance. He is also a prolific writer and a Vietnam Veteran, making him a hero at many levels, in my eyes.

His artwork has always fascinated me and I am lucky to have a couple print copies that he has sent. One is in my office at work, the other in my home writing office. I'm not sure what you would call his style, but it looks Impressionistic to me, and I've always favored the impressionists. I don't claim to be an art expert or historian, but I know what I like.

I approached him and asked first for some pieces for ideas and secondly for permission to use one for my cover. He was gracious enough to both requests. He sent half a dozen images all with the theme of a line of some sort. I had two that I really liked but ultimately chose this one.

It has been a goal of mine for some time to collaborate with either a graphic artist or fine artist friend of mine with a book, so this fits that goal nicely. The fact that we both hail from Minnesota makes it a little more special as well. His work has appeared on many magazine covers as well, so I am fortunate to be able to share his work as part of my own.

Once I sent the images to the publisher, Kelsay Books it was only a matter of a couple days before they had something back to me. The text alignment on the cover fits with the "line" theme and the back cover blurbs speak to the books content nicely. I'm just so pleased with all of it. Kudos to W. Jack Savage and the team at Kelsay Books for everything.

The book marks my sixth since 2014, with number 7, another chapbook (Genetically Speaking) pending for later this fall on Local Gems Press. It's funny, but what keeps coming to mind through all of this are the lyrics from the Talking Heads' song, Once In A Lifetime:

"And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?"

How, indeed. LOL.

The book is not due out until November, but as I've said before I am so excited about the breadth of poems in this collection. It is my best work. A number of them have been previously published so are road-tested so to speak. When the date becomes firm, I will let people know where it is available as well as where I'll be promoting it with readings. Looking forward to all of it.

Blogging off...

Thursday, September 5, 2019

That First Job

My memoir in progress (MIP) is coming along well. I'm just over 70,000 words into it andI've got the chapters roughed out. Now the hard part of slogging through edits comes into play.

Tenatively titled, Cretin Boy, it is about my teenage years in an all-male, Catholic, military (JROTC) school in the late '70s. The book is not solely about the school, but also about all that comes with being a teenager and all the changes that life brings.

One of those changes of course is a kid's introduction to the working life. Once you hit 15 back then, you were expected to start looking for a part-time job. It was in part to keep you off the street but also a way of teaching you work ethic and helping take the load off of Mom and Dad's need to supplement your income (or lack of it).

In the book I talk about my first job at Tu-Way Car Wash on Cleveland and Randolph in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was a freshman in high school and my brother Tom worked there and got me the job. I think it paid about $3.85 an hour or so, but was decent income for the work.

The job required pumping gas when people drove up to the pump, back in the day when that was the way gas stations worked. Now it's "Do it yo-sef, chump!"

The other part of the job was running the car wash, which was the equivalent of the automated ones you drive into now, except it required some human intervention. Well, there was something wrong with the switch that stopped the upper brushes from spinning. Or maybe it was just me. But it seemed every time I tried to stop the brushes, it didn't work.

This operator error usually meant the car aerial was wrenched to new, ungainly angles, or in some cases snapped off altogether. Aerials were mostly hard mounted to the frame and not nice and flexible like they are today. I'd prefer to call them less-forgiving. In some cases, they could be bent back to their original tilt, but in others, the owner of the station got a phone call the following week.

Of course there were some folks that, if I didn't tell them, didn't notice the aerial pointed toward Shanghai, China, and that was okay with me. I'd rather deal with it after they had some time to cool off and fire a letter to the owner or come back and chew me out the next day.

I didn't much care for the job actually. It seemed like a lot of responsibility to dump on the back of a 15 year-old, especially at the end of the night when you had to reconcile the gallons pumped with the money in the till. I was grateful when track season rolled around and I had the perfect excuse to bail on the job and just practice my high and long jumps.

I figured there would be plenty of work ahead of me later in life, I might as well get one last shot at a life of relative leisure. It didn't last long as I took a job at a restaurant late in my sophomore year.

In any case, there's all of this and many more tales in the book of my days at Tu-Way and Cretin. It's been fun recalling them and I can't wait until it's done.

Blogging off...

Sunday, September 1, 2019

August Fondly Remembered

Another August has gone by and the unrest has settled upon me again. This is always a weird time of year for me. If you know me, I am happiest in shorts, a T-Shirt and sandals, so any time that fashion feng-shui is threatened by the dreaded long pants and flannel shirts, well, you're going to get some blowback from me. If you're one of those "I love the cool fall weather" people, we probably can't be friends. It's nothing personal, oh, wait, yes it is.

Don't get me wrong, I love fall as well, all 3 weeks of it. The problem lies immediately following fall. Namely the 'W' word. In my eyes, Fall and Spring are equals, only spring holds the hope of summer following it. Winter, well, I'm going to stop saying it for now.

But as I said, Labor day weekend is the stake in the heart of summer. Around here. the Carroll University students are back in the neighborhood and with it, increased foot and street traffic. I don't mind that so much, in fact in a lot of ways it is nice to have more people around. (Although my dog barks at anything that moves outside, so that gets annoying.

So I am trying to live this season one day at a time, appreciating it for what it is without thinking too much about what lies just a few months ahead. There will be more warm days for a few more weeks, and I am committed to taking advantage of each one, as I can. I'll get out on my bike, walk my dog, and get outdoors as often as I can. Tomorrow there's talk of going for a hike along Lake Michigan, so I look forward to that.

At the same time, I will miss those nights sleeping with three fans blowing and the windows wide open. I'll miss the sun staying up until nearly nine o'clock every night and all the long shadows that come with it. And believe it or not, I'll miss changing my shirt because it's been sweated out over the course of my day.

Back in the day in Minnesota, I had a friend who called me "Beach boy." It was a backhanded nickname he gave me because I was often the shirtless kid trying to soak in the sun when I could. I think there's still part of Beach boy in me.

Unfortunately his season is waning, and I'll be back to "Fleece boy" before too long. Until then, I'm going to take what I can get.

Blogging off...