Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another Weekend Toasted

Well, another weekend goes in the books. It always goes too fast.

We had a good one around here. Friday Donna and I went shoe shopping as a date. Jealous yet? Actually it was Nice to spend some time in a store together. I loathe shopping, but it is much more bearable when I have her along because she helps me pull the trigger on some purchases I would normally wait on (to find a "better deal" that I usually never find.)

Saturday the two of us continued our date by going to breakfast at Blues Egg. The only way I can describe it is a gourmet breakfast. I had an omelet stuffed with Cale and sausage and cheese, and their stuffed browns, which are hash browns with a ton of good ingredients mixed in. It was amazing. We also got Monkey Bread which is a sweet roll type thing that is made of little bread ball nugget things. It was good too, but I thought next time we could stand for just the browns and monkey bread.

The nice thing about the whole outing was, we took home 1/2 our meal and had it for breakfast this morning. I got to enjoy it twice. That is what I have learned about going out to dinner. Restaurants ALWAYS server too big of portions. I've gotten to where I am not ashamed to ask for a take home box, and so can always enjoy my leftovers the next day so as to not feel too stuffed the night of dinner.

Later in the day, I took Ben and a friend to a movie. I dropped them there and was able to go to Starbucks and write for two hours. Then last night we all hung out together as a family and goofed around. I am so lucky to have such good kids and to be able to enjoy them in their early teens. (I reserve the right to change this tune later in their "late teen years".)

Today we started out by going to church. The sermon was on "the D word" (Divorce). Thinking it was not applicable to me, I turned out to be wrong. It was not targeted simply to people who have been through a divorce, but anyone who has been affected by a divorce, or knows of someone who has been affected. That pretty much included everyone in the sanctuary at that point. A great message by our great new pastor Philip Griffin. He is so gifted in teaching. He is just what this church needed.

This afternoon we had a Thanksgiving dinner with Jill, Steve and Katie at Jill and Steve's place. It was a "locally grown, organic" thanksgiving dinner and was phenomenal. Good stuff, and good stuffing. Great to be around good friends. I especially feel I got to know Katie a little better. She's a sweetheart too. She's actually a non-skating referee for women's roller derby and had some great stories about that whole experience.

So, despite the weekend flying by, it was still a REALLY full, really good weekend. Now if we could just get spring to pop, I'd be a happy camper.

Alas.

Blogging off...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Poems, and Articles and Rejections, Oh My!

This was a strange week for me and my writing muse. I submitted a poem to verse wisconsin about the protests in Madison and they accepted it and published it online. It can be seen at: www.versewisconsin.org/#poems. It's not a huge deal, but kind of cool. They were asking for poems specifically about the Madison chaos, and having lived it firsthand, I thought it was a good chance to speak my piece. There's some really good poems there, and some clunkers. I've come to discover that that's just the nature of poetry. I can appreciate many different styles, but some are just like "what did they just say?"


That's kind of a statement for life in general. Some people you get, some you don't.


The downside of the writing thing happened the next day when I submitted my article to Musky Hunter magazine. This was an article I felt pretty good about. It had a good story to it, a decent amount of humor, and had been well reviewed by many of my fishing friends. Well, within 24 hours of sending it in, I got a rejection notice. I was extremely disappointed, because I thought this was the perfect target market for it. Evidently they are too much of a technical magazine for the slant I had to my article.

This doesn't mean I've given up on it. I've already marketed it to another online fishing magazine called Go Fish and am looking into others. That doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt, just that it won't keep me down. There's too many markets out there that will give it a fair shake, that I needn't dwell on the rejections.

Our AllWriters class started another session last night. We have two new students that showed and possibly another that didn't show. It should be a big class, almost 12 people from what I counted. It's always nice to have new blood as it brings with it new styles and viewpoints. I love it and am looking forward to another good 10 week session.

Word from Rob is that he's doing a little better. He seems to have his appetite back an is getting stronger too. Still has a long road ahead to get his weight back up, but at least is not feeling crappy all the time. Sister Pat was there this past weekend and got to see him for a bit. I talk with him by text almost daily. Technology is a great thing during times like these.

Blogging off...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Power to the People!

Well, I was in Madison today, and took a walk up to the capitol to watch the rioting over the Budget repair bill. Let me just say it was energizing to see people mobilized to a cause they feel strongly about. I thought about it and it was really my first protest...like, ever.

When I was a student at the University of Minnesota the cause of the day was "No Nukes". I didn't really participate in any of them, of course. I've never been a real political person. I think politics should be left to the voting booth and not worn on your sleeve. It turns people into ugly, god-awful people when they get to bickering about partisan issues. It divides otherwise good friends, colleagues, neighbors and church members.

All of that aside, I did need to get my say in this particular issue. I'm as fired up about the heavy-handedness of our governor and his union-busting, power grab tactics as I've ever been about anything political. As I've told everyone, I have no issue with his proposal to make public employees pay up to 5% of their health care and 12.8% of their pension. Those are long overdue in my opinion, despite being real numbers that will affect my bottom line significantly. The economy is tight and everyone needs to make a few concessions.

The collective bargaining thing though is over-the-top. A complete power grab. I just think he's got other motives than just saving a few dollars. He's out to bust the unions which have always tended toward the Democratic vote, and that is wrong. I just can't like the guy, but we all have our own opinions.

So anyway, I can cross off two things off my bucket list this week. I shaved my head, and participated in my first protest. I use "participated" loosely because I was mostly a spectator, but I did sign a kill the bill petition and even got my own sign. I got a picture with my sign and when a friend took it he said "What are you smiling for? You're supposed to look mad."

Oh yeah, that. I told you I was not very good with political causes.

Anyhow it was an awesome experience really. The energy inside the capital rotunda was just amazing. They had a drum circle and probably 5000 people in there. It was refreshing to see. Frankly, people are pissed off, and our leaders need to respect that and rethink their role as representatives of us.

With that said, I'm going to the molotov cocktail store and picking up a couple, and then I'm off to get a tear gas mask just in case things get sketchy.

Blogging off...

Monday, February 14, 2011

V-Day Revelations


The rest of the weekend with Rob was good. I stopped over on Sunday morning about 10:00 and he was sleeping, snoring away. I thought I'd be sneaky and work on my laptop while he slept. As I was getting it out of my bag, he woke up saying "I smell coffee. It must be Jim." He knows me pretty well.

I had brought him a couple of muffins from the nearby Panekoeken House, but his lack of appetite made them unappealing to him. He didn't eat much all weekend, but later that morning he did force some french toast and sausages down. It has to be terrible to worry not only about eating, but about pain, nausea, pain relief for the hardware in his back, twitching legs, bowel movements etc. The man is a living testimony of patience and a strong will. I admire him unlike I ever have before. God Bless him.

We had some great, deep conversations when we were together. He is in a good place with his condition and more than anything doesn't want to be a burden on Jane and the rest of the family. I get that, but I wish he wouldn't think like that. We love him and will do whatever it takes to help him get back to normal; as normal is.

It was a great weekend really, as expected. These trips to Mayo allow me 1 on 1 time talking with him which is therapeutic for both of us. He has said as much. He has a lot on his mind and despite being exhausted we still were able to connect on a pretty deep level.

So the situation is that in 3 weeks they'll do a scan to see if the chemo is having any effect. If it is they will continue to treat him with chemo. If not, they'll move on to clinical trials. My prayer is that it is having an effect and we'll be able to put this thing into remission. I could see over time how the treatment (chemo) might become worse than the disease. It takes a lot out of him, and I would hope that he only needs a couple more, but I have no idea how this stuff works. Just praying for a miracle of some sort. That's all I can do.

Blogging off...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Having Trouble Seeing the Day After Now

Visiting my brother Rob at Mayo in Rochester today. I got in about 12:30. Timing is everything as I got to see my cousin Coe as well. He was visiting Rob too and we overlapped by about an hour and a half. He is a great guy. I can't say enough about his love for family, in some cases family he hardly knows. He has his own life tragedies that he's dealt with yet he understands the here and now as much as anyone.

This trip today has impacted me again as to the brevity of life and the importance of taking each day for the blessing it is. Some days suck, I get that. But even those days are a part of your life that you will never have back. Try and work it out, man. Think you've got it bad? Look around you. I guarantee you won't have to look far to find someone who's got it tougher than you. So take that big concern in your life and put it in its proper perspective.

So, having said that I need to take action and live my life like every day is my last. Granted, I still have to go to work, raise kids, be a husband etc., but I need to do it ALL with a sense of urgency because tomorrow is a whisper and, at this point, still not a slam dunk.

I thank my God in heaven for everything I have and all I've been entrusted. I think knowing his love for me and my family is the only thing that keeps me going.

Blogging off...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Docs 'n' Drugs

Went to the Doctor today after day 17 of this chronic cough. I wanted to rule out a sinus infection or pneumonia. I've been feeling a little better, but am still bothered by the cough. He found a "low grade" sinus infection and so put me on antibiotics and Sudafed. He said anytime a cough persists past about 10 days, it is usually some other bacteria that has taken residence.

I wanted to get checked out because I don't want to infect Rob who I'll be seeing on Sat/Sun. He reassured me that a sinus infection isn't transmissible and that my visit would be fine. That is great news, as I am looking forward to my visit to Rochester. He's getting his second round of Chemotherapy at Methodist hospital. He arrived today and will be there until Sunday about noon. My Mom is going down tomorrow to visit, so she was glad he'd have a visitor on Sat/Sun. I figure it's the least I could do. It's been a while since I've seen him and because the weekend we were supposed to go got shot down, I still wanted to make the trip. I'm blessed by a wife who saw the importance of me going.

Well, the Packers did it. Superbowl champs! It's really hard to believe, but it's starting to sink in. We had a fantastic time at our friends' house with another couple. It was a nail-biter for quite a while and kept things interesting. Now the state of Wisconsin can get back to work. At least it made February a bit more interesting.

Our Cancer Run Team named "Rob's Mob" is taking on steam. I've set up a site that you can donate if you want. The link is: Rob's Mob Cancer Run

It means of course that I'll have to start training in March...brrrrr! It should be a great time though, esp. with much of my family coming down for it.

Blogging off for now...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Saturday Evening Post




I spent this morning at a great workshop on marketing your work, submission guidelines and the like. It was at allwriters and there were 12 of us there; 11 women and me. Talk about the odd man out. (Or just the odd man, if you know me.)

It was an outstanding look into the intricacies and nuances of getting your work out there and published. There was a ton of invaluable information about query letters, cover letters, synopsis, agenting, and more. We were given a ton of links to great sites for researching the market, as well as a number of good books on the subject.

It actually inspired me enough to go home and submit a work of memoir to a magazine I'd found on one of the research links. The piece is on some of the cats we had when I was a kid. It is a dark humor kind of piece talking about their lives in a household of six kids, their untimely deaths or other ultimate fate. I changed it up a bit from when I had written it a year ago and let it fly.

The magazine doesn't pay anything for things it publishes, but it does give two complimentary copies. At this point, I am still trying just to get my name out there, build a bit of a portfolio and get familiar with the process. I've got a decent start with much of my poetry having been published so far, but I'd like to work on longer memoir-based submissions for a while. I'm currently working on an article about Musky fishing that I plan to submit to a fishing magazine or two once it's been edited.

The coolest thing about my whole writing process right now is that the sky really is the limit. I've got a ton of ideas and am starting to build up a number of works that I can call on in a moment's notice to submit as deemed appropriate. I enjoy the challenge of editing like I never did before. I enjoy the creative process of getting it down the first time. I enjoy just thinking about things that I want to write about. If I get bored with something, I'll go off and write some poetry or something. Change things up a bit.

On a related note, I got the check yesterday for my Boundary Waters Journal article. Three hundred bucks! Sweet! There's something to be said for having it behind me. In other words, the whole process from idea, to submission, to acceptance, to contract, to publishing, to payment is now done. It's such a great feeling, and now I want nothing more than more. Jobs that pay are nice, but I realize they're hard to come by. As I said earlier, I'll take publishing in any form right now, just to get my wheels rolling.

I continue to battle the aftershocks of the flu. It's down to a cough and stuffy nose for the most part now. I intend to go to the doctor on Tuesday or so if it's still lingering then. Best to rule out a sinus infection or walking pneumonia of that's what it is.

Rob continues to rest in preparation for round two of chemo next Thursday. He was told that he could not go ice fishing this weekend, or this winter for that matter. His white blood count is way too low and going out just exposes him to unnecessary risk. He was bummed out by the news, but remains positive nonetheless. He recognizes that he will do as he's told in order to get his life back. He's keeping his chin high and a smile on his face through it all. He's a warrior, and I love him. He's a testament for fighting the good fight.

His wife and kids deserve a bit of kudos too for all they've been through. I know Jane wouldn't do anything less for him than everything she can. She's done that so far and deserves a medal of honor for it. What a great woman. I love her too.

Super Bowl Sunday tomorrow!!! Let's get this over with and celebrate a Packer victory, eh? I just look at the two quarterbacks' stories and say who do you want to root for? The womanizing, multiple offender who already has a couple of Super Bowl rings, or the legend-protege (a-la Favre) who has a humble spirit, and a laid back, Christian attitude about things with only a Super Bowl ring to complete his resume? I know who I'd like to win even if the other team wasn't the Packers. It's a no-brainer. Never been a Steelers fan, ever since the 70's when they beat the Vikes in the Super Bowl. Long time to hold a grudge, but I have. Just sayin'.

So, I want to close on a Go Pack! Beat those Steelers!

Blogging off...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

White, Just White.


We got about 14" last night during the blizzard of 2011. Racine was hit the worst and got 23". The biggest issue was the wind, as it often is during snowstorms. It caused some freaky drifting around the house and city. It made for some interesting snow blowing, where at times, the entire blower was under snow. You just had to kind of let it chew away. It took me the better part of an hour to clear our drive and walk, which is better than some fared. It's times like these that I like my small yard and small walk.

I took poor Toby for a walk in it and he was just kind of shell shocked. Poor boy didn't know what to think. He was fine where there was sidewalk, but at one point when I was blazing a trail, he was following behind in my footsteps for a while, but then he just stopped. I think he was afraid that he would drown in snow. That was the look on his face. "I'm scared papa, hep me, hep me!" I trudged back and picked him up and carried him along until we came to cleared sidewalk again.

And so it looks like Siberia out there, a real winter blast for Groundhog day. Now I just need to get out skiing and enjoy the snow. Maybe this weekend...

We had our first "civil emergency" in quite some time around here. It basically amounts to the government telling people to stay home and that if you're dumb enough to go out and get stranded, we may not be able to get the emergency vehicles to you. So stay home. You don't have to tell me twice, man. I love being home. Ha!

Once the roadways were cleared, we did take Sarah over to a friends' house, while Ben had a friend over here. It was a lazy day outside of the shoveling and snow blowing. I said that I wouldn't mind work near so much if I had every Wednesday off. It's like a mini-weekend in the middle of the week.

Day 9 of the flu and I still feel like crap. My eyes feel arthritic, if that's possible, and I don't think it is. Still have one working nostril and a stuffy head. Oh yeah and the occasional coughing fit. Throw on top of this the ongoing pulsatile tinnitus and there's just a party in my head that won't stop. Come on in!

Just got off support with Dell support (aka. someone in India). My laptop was going dark on me in the middle of working and then would drop into hibernation mode. I think it was because I had overheated it by using it without proper ventilation. The guy(?) Dell Tech (Saurabah) took control of my laptop and flashed the BIOS. I could have done it if he had told me that's what was wrong, but he was doing such a nice job using "Go to Assist" that I didn't want to interrupt. Anyways, he said to "monitor" it for a day and he would call tomorrow. I think as I said, that I just overheated the thing. I'll keep the vents clear and see how it goes.

So the winter that wouldn't end just keeps boring ahead. Tomorrow we have below zero temps again, Woo Hoo!

At least it's February the Packers are in the Super Bowl. (Still cannot believe that!!!). Here's to God's small mercies.

Blogging off...