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Showing posts from June, 2013

French Toast With Purpose

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Indulge me for a moment. I know I've written recently about serving at the Guest House homeless shelter, but I need to write again. I would prefer to talk about the great fishing outing I had yesterday or the rainy summer we've been having, but I can't stop thinking about today's service at the Guest House. I'm sorry for the repetition, but I have to write what's on my heart.

Recall that my wife is attempting to organize and/or serve one meal a month at this transitional living facility in Milwaukee. She solicits donations, largely using social media, from a Facebook group of donors and others who wish to contribute. This is a fairly daunting task from month to month, depending on what she has chosen to serve. Despite fears and concerns every month that certain foods will not be filled by donors using the online donor site she has set up, somehow we always manage to get everything we need to pull it off. Call it God's provision, people stepping up to the p…

All The Right Moves

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My sister in-law sold her house recently, and just this past week, moved into an apartment. I am very happy that she had a very quick sale, especially in this market. She was lucky to be able to get out from under the huge burden that it was becoming. As a working single parent, time spent between the house, the yard and the pool, and raising two daughters just got to be too much. Houses can sometimes be too much when you have twoadults working on it. Take one of those out of the picture and I wouldn't blame anyone for downsizing.

That doesn't mean the sale of the house doesn't hurt a bit. I'm sure it hurts her and her family with all of the memories tied up in it, but its kind of sad for me too. Because we stayed there whenever we went to St. Paul for holidays, etc., there are a lot of memories for myself and my family that that house holds.


Countless "arrival" nights around the kitchen island having a few beers and decompressing after a long, sometimes hair…

The Real Boys Of Summer

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The heat of summer has settled in this part of the state this past weekend. It is that stifling kind of wet-rag heat that keeps you sweaty even while sitting still. At the moment, my dog lays aspirating in front of the two fans in our living room where it is still bearable without turning on one of our 3 window air conditioners. We tend to wait until it is no longer tolerable before we cave and turn them on, because once they're on, they tend to stay on.

Summer is a bit of a mixed blessing in my mind. It is kind of a time of unrest for me. I want to do everything and nothing at the same time. I realize the weather won't last, so I want to fish, swim, bike, walk, camp and kayak all in the same week. At the same time, the heat saps the ambition to do any of it, willing me to stay indoors and avoid the heat.

One of the ways we used to beat the heat was to pile our family in Mom's Impala and our step-family in my stepfather's Galaxie 500 convertible and drive to Bayport b…

Favorites Past and Present

I responded to a writing prompt I got as an email notice the other day. The prompt was "Your Favorite Song." It asked for feelings, emotions, etc., that hearing your favorite song might trigger. You were supposed to use them inside a poem and send it in for consideration, so I did. Within a day or two I heard back that it was accepted and was just the kind of thing they were looking for.

It made me think though, what makes a favorite song? Lyrics? Music? Emotional reaction? Danceability? All of these?

When I thought about what I considered my "favorite song," I had to think about it a bit. I am a music lover, and I have what I consider many favorite songs. They vary by genre, artist and even era. Somehow though whenever I'm asked what my favorite would be it always comes back to the same song. The song is Under the Milky Way by The Church. It dates back to 1988 when I had just moved to Wisconsin, from Minnesota. I was a Church groupie, so bought it the minute i…

114 Reasons Why I Love Fatherhood

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While rummaging through the basement the other day I came across the list below in my "keeper" box of things my kids made for me when they were young. This was one of Sarah's school assignments and is titled  114 reasons why my dad is "souper" (sic). I thought it appropriate for Father's Day and is a great expression of why I LOVE being a father. (Note: Spelling errors are all original. My comments are in parentheses.)


He reads to me.He lets me have desset. (As long as I get some too.)Me makes good stuff. (This can't mean cooking)He loves me.He pushes me on the swings. (Precious times)He nice.He tuched me in. (After Goodnight Moon, every night)He aways there for me. (Slay me)He makes map for us. He tells me jokes. He takes me to the park. (Miss those days.)He plays games with meHe eats breakfast with me.He takes me to spesial plases. (OMG this is killing me.)He draws pichers with me.He tells me how to write word. (Singular words only, evidently)He gives…

DC End To End

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My son Benjamin has been in Washington, DC with a group from his Middle School since Monday morning. This was a two-school coordinated trip for 8th graders. They flew out Monday and return home tomorrow evening. The trip is organized by Bright Spark Travel and is run like a military training exercise. They have an itinerary that would make most peoples' head spin. Here's a sampling of what they're covering:
Monday: Smithsonian, Museum of Natural History, Crime and Punishment Museum, Air Force Memorial.Tuesday:White House, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, National Archives, the Lincoln, Vietnam, Korean, Jefferson, FDR, and MLK Jr. Memorials.Wednesday: Arlington National Cemetery, Kennedy grave, Challenger Memorial, Pentagon, Iwo Jima Memorial, Ford Theater and Kennedy Center.Thursday: Mount Vernon, Washington Memorial, WWII Memorial. It is just dizzying to think about herding that many kids (40) through all of that for one day, let alone four. I have the utmost respect f…

Retreat Recap

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I spent this weekend among the AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop community at their annual writing retreat. It is held at Techny Towers in Illinois, near Northbrook. I always come away from this retreat exhausted, but satisfied. While there are some lectures and workshops, much of the retreat is spent on just personal writing time. I felt like I got  a great deal done. Could I have written more? Probably, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

I learned a few things over the course of the weekend.


Just because it's a writing retreat doesn't mean your work has to be all new material. I am unsure where I got the mindset that only new material is worthy of my time at a retreat, but I need to shake it. Rewrite is as important as the original material. I'm reminded that rewriting is "new material" in that your changing something into something new.If you're given a boring prompt, just run with it. Today's exercise involved using a fortune from a fortune co…

Leap Years

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Tonight my son graduated from 8th Grade. Now I know 8th grade graduation doesn't really have a formality to it, but it's still kind of a cool thing. As much as anything, it is really a rite of passage for kids. I guess in the paleolithic days they would send a boy out into the wilderness for 2 days, or make them tough it out in a sweat lodge for 12 hours to make them a man.

We have 8th grade graduation.

I'm not belittling it, I'm just saying that for me personally, I can point to a couple of things that scream "growing up" for Ben. The first was a few weeks back when we were trout fishing with his cousins. There was a picture taken of him and his cousins in their waders. (See Post). He just looked grown up. He wasn't Benjamin, he was BenTheMan. It hit me hard to see the picture of him and his cousins standing tall, handsome and grown up.

The other was tonight's graduation. Watching him among his peers, also all grown up, acting mature (most of the ti…

Tumbling Twice

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The battle between me and my cursed  (a term of endearment) Maytag dryer continues to rage. It stopped turning on Thursday of last week and I decided to beat it into submission as a weekend project. I had a new belt at-the-ready and was set to resuscitate it back from death one more time. I knew the belt that was on it was cracked and worn based on how it looked when I last had the thing in pieces to fix the heating element.

So I crack the thing open on Saturday morning looking to get it running in 90 minutes or less. It takes a total of 12 screws to get the drum off and release the belt. After taking a picture of the pulleys to make sure I restring the thing correctly I release the idler pulley which allowed me to get the belt off. I put the new belt on restring the thing and put the whole mess back together. I plug it in for the moment of truth. I turn it on and...drum roll...lots of buzzing, but no tumbling.

Argh.

Disassemble the whole unit again and realize that the idler pulley …