Showing posts from June, 2012

An Empty Nest Dry-Run

The kids have been gone all week at Phantom Ranch Bible Camp in Mukwonago, WI. It has been a while since both of our kids have been gone for this long of a period. (In fact I can't say for sure that they ever have been away from home for a full week like this.) It has been a good week, a quiet week, a week where Donna and I have had a taste of what it will be like when they have both gone off to college. While this sounds like everything everyone hopes for and wishes for, I'm not so sure I'm ready for the deafening silence that will take over our house when that happens. Which is funny, if you think about it. When we were in the trenches of parenthood, we longed for our "alone time," or, on the really bad days, for our "old life." Diapers, formula, nap times, tantrums, and physical needs take a toll on a person. There were days I never thought we'd be past it. Then, like a flick of a switch, they're looking at colleges, and driving, and talkin

The Real Reasons I Go Back

People who have read or heard some of my BWCA stories often question why I would return to such a difficult environment in the name of a vacation. It's a question that always puts me on the spot at the time, but this past trip I took the opportunity to reflect a bit on why I was there, as well as why I go there. The answers are many. Sounds:  As I sat in my canoe with Sarah in the front on many occasions, the only thing I could hear was the tinnitus in my ears. No traffic, no airplanes, no blaring stereos or Harley Davidsons blasting up the street. There were no sirens, no ringtones, no televisions, no barking dogs, and no passing trains. The wind in the tall pines and birch trees whispered occasionally. This sound is naturally rhythmic and serves to bring ones blood pressure down, rather than elevating it like all the godforsaken man-made sounds of the city. The only intrusive sounds all week was the occasional conversation of campers across the lake from us, and one rogue je

Fishing For Answers

An Aside: To everyone who visited this blog in the past couple of days and got an error, I apologize. Here's what I tried to do. I wanted to move my blog under my main domain of, thus making it appear as Needless to say it flopped. I'm back now for good. Sorry for the inconvenience. BWCA - 2012 We returned from a 4 day/3 night trip in the BWCA on Sunday. It's hard to put into words all the emotions I felt during this trip. Joy, sadness, elation, pride, fear, apprehension, love, exhaustion, and regret. The one I really did not experience was anger, and I'll take that any day. It's impossible to run down everything that went on over the four days, perhaps I'll include some of it in my book. It was such a unique trip in so many ways that I would be neglect in not mentioning it there. I'll try and cover a few of the high points here. Quality Time With Sarah and Ben As I drove to St. Paul, I had 5 sol

To The Land Of "No Service"

With only three days until we depart to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area ( BWCA ), the planning and packing is in full swing. As I think of things, I've been packing them away, to try and minimize the drain of the last minute headless chicken panic packing that sometimes happens. The older I get, the more obsessed I get with the details. It's not a trait I'm particularly fond of, but it's me. I can't help it. I just have to deal with it, I guess. The packing frenzy reminds me of the craziness of those late night packings with the brothers of long ago. Those after hours trips to the Big Top grocery or Rainbow Foods where the week's worth of staples were purchased in a single trip to the store. We'd fill a cart with more dry goods than is healthy for any person. Most of our meals came to life with a cup or two of boiled lake water, a pinch of salt and a whole lot of wood smoke. Urban voyagers out for a big adventure and a big fish. This year we're ret


I spent the day today at the first day of a day and a half seminar on "pre-retirement planning." I can't really believe I'm saying this, but it's true. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a ways from retiring. Further today than I had hoped, but not as far as some. I'm looking at a 10-15 year time frame. The one I'm targeting of course is the 6 year, but unless my great aunt Millie helps me out, I think the 10-15 year is more realistic. If health care continues to go up, I may work until I'm 84, then retire for a year, and start working again at 86. I get so torqued up by the health care industry, which I realize is driven by the high malpractice insurance, which is driven by our messed up legal system, that it all makes me want to scream, so I'll try not to go there. (I think I just did go there). If we didn't face a $2000.00+/mo health care cost, most of us could retire at a reasonable age. Instead we are forced to work until we can get o

A Tribute to the Wizard

Just returned from Waukesha's GuitarTown Opening Celebration downtown. About 6 months ago Waukesha was selected to be a host city for Gibson's Guitar Town initiative. They donate ten 10 foot tall guitars. The guitars were then painted and decorated by local visual artists. They then place them in front of ten different businesses throughout downtown and the outskirts. It is modeled after the over sized Snoopys in Minneapolis, the over sized cows in Canandaigua (and Chicago?), and other cities. They will have a 3 year run and they take them down during the winter months to keep them from getting too weathered. It was a cool event and should bring some much deserved notoriety to Waukesha. Our city's claim to fame for years has been that it is the birthplace of Les Paul  , the "Wizard of Waukesha" and inventor of the electric guitar. If you know me, you know I love music, especially guitar based music. Guys like Carlos Santana, Mark Knopfler, Buddy Guy,