Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Where We're At

Today was just another average Wednesday. Hump day. Go back to work day. (I took yesterday off.) Just average. Until I came home to see my article had been published in MidWest Outdoors Magazine. I had a feeling they were going to accept it based on the feedback I'd received, but was ecstatic to see it in print!

The story is titled "Brothers Through Thick and Fin - A Muskie Brotherhood." I had a feeling it would sell because it has a few key elements that make for a good story. There's the family element, some great fishing stories and pictures, and of course an incredibly sad sideline to it all. It is the fourth article I've had published with this Magazine and they have all been paying acceptances. I can't say enough about the magazine, only that it is a must for outdoor lovers in the MidWest region. The picture below was one of the 4 pictures in the piece. It is my brother Paul holding his first muskie in 2005.

Also coming in the mail in the next day or so is my poem "Going Back" that was accepted in Torrid Literature's VII issue. It is one of those sing/songy ryhme-y poems I talked about in the preceding blog post to this one. It is not really my style, but the thing that makes that poem stand out was the formatting of it. It reads like a winding river, and it is about canoeing, so it makes for a nice format. Again, just glad to see it in print and am overwhelmed by the good luck I am having lately on the publishing front. Much of the credit goes to my friends and instructors at AllWriters'. They keep me on track and on task and are my biggest fans at the same time. I love them.

So, what else am I working on? First and foremost I'm putting the finishing touches on my final edit of my BWCA Memoir. I actually hit THE END the other day and am a week and a half from having my colleagues critique the final chapters as well. Then the real work begins. These are exciting times and I can't wait to get it out there and published. It is my biggest dream at this stage of my life.

I'm also writing poetry on occasion. I just finished a piece about computer struggles and one about mom. I have to be inspired to write poetry. It's hard to explain, but memoir comes at any time. Poetry requires effort, thought and inspiration. Creative nonfiction does too, but, well, it's just different.

My boyhood house stories get attention once in a while when I'm needing a break from other things. I'm working on getting a few of those published as stand-alone nonfiction pieces. Some great memories and many them are pretty humorous. I can't wait to dive back into them in full force.

I think my next outdoor piece for submission to MidWest Outdoors will be about the trip I took with my kids and their cousins to the Root River in South Central Minnesota this past spring. I've had good luck with that magazine and am going to keep at it as long as I have material. I'm hoping to have a successful Muskie fishing outing in August and October this year to give me just that.

At a book signing by author Michael Perry I got a little star-struck when he signed his book. I babbled something about working on my own memoir, blah, blah, blah. He just smiled at me and said "Well, just keep pluggin'"

And that's what I intend to do.

Blogging off...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rockstar In Disguise

About 3 weeks ago I took part in a reading at the Friday Night Free For All event for AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop writing studio. The event is centered around exposing some of the students' writing. It is also an attempt to entice the public in to show what the studio is all about. The event features each of the genres including poetry, short story (fiction), memoir, and novel (excerpt, obviously). There is usually a guest reader too, of some distinction. This past one featured Mary Jo Balistreri, who has published a book of poems.

At this particular reading I was asked to read some of my poetry. I was flattered to be asked and also pretty excited, because poetry is the "fun" side of my writing. I mean, it's all fun, memoir, fiction, and poetry, but poetry lets me break a few of the rules of writing. It doesn't have to have perfect punctuation a long, drawn out story line, and paragraphs worth of character development. At the same time, good poetry will have these last two elements in much shorter, smaller bite-sized chunks. In essence, some good poems (and I say some, because not all need to adhere to this rule) will read like a really good, really short story. Like some sort of super-flash fiction (or memoir).

So anyway, while I was flattered, I also approached it with a bit of humility. To be asked to read poetry, means in some ways that I am a poet, a label I have a hard time with. For me it's a bit like Michael Perry who has written about having trouble telling his EMT, hunting and farming friends that he spends a fair amount of his time at poetry and book readings, schmoozing among literary types or looking for metaphors in his day to day life. This is me. I have a hard time owning up to being a published poet; to admitting that I like it, read it and enjoy it when it's done well.

Ya see, it's a guy thing. Not to mention that I like to keep a low profile most of the time anyway. I tell my friends that poetry is my dirty little secret.

I have to believe that most people don't read a lot of poetry. Many have the pre-conceived notion that all poems, A. Must Rhyme. B. Must be proportionally stanza'd or perfectly rhythmic. or C. That it must include flowers, clouds, skies, puppies or rainbows.

None of these rules are true of course. Most of my stuff is fairly concrete. Some of it is rhythmic and ryhmey, but by far that is the exception. In fact during my reading I read ten poems, outlining 5 different writing styles I employed for my poems.

1. Poems using humor (Especially with a good punchline.)
2. Love poems
3. Poems about life. (My son, and our house.)
4. Getting inside the mind of the poet.
5. Messing around with format

The kicker in the whole deal was that people really seemed to like my work. I had more than a few come up afterwards and say how they don't usually like poetry, but that they really enjoyed mine. This is great to hear, believe me. It's all we writer's have to go on. It's why we do what we do. It also serves to legitimize my standing as a poet, I guess.

The other kicker is that I never intended to fall into poetry when I first started writing. It just kind of happened. I tried it, it was published, I tried it again, more of the same. I love putting them together and think it will be a lifelong thing for me.

There's also the fact that most songs are just poems put to music. And rock stars are cool, so there's that.

I think I'll run with that thought and close with a song by Supertramp that is as much poetry as it is song.

Blogging off...

Lord is it Mine? ***

I know that there's a reason why I need to be alone
You show me there's a silent place that I can call my own
Is it mine, Oh! Lord is it mine?

You know I get so weary from the battles in this life
And as many times it seems that you're the only hope in sight
Is it mine, Oh! Lord is it mine?

When everything's dark and nothing seems right,
There's nothing to win, and there's no need to fight

I never cease to wonder at the cruelty of this land
But it seems a time of sadness is a time to understand
Is it mine, Oh! Lord is it mine?

When everything's dark and nothing seems right,
You don't have to win, and there's no need to fight

If only I could find a way
To feel your sweetness through the day
The love that shines around me could be mine.
So give us an answer, won't you,
We know what we have to do,
There must be a thousand voices trying to get through.

***Music and Lyrics by Supertramp

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It Fell Into My Lap(top)

Once upon a time we owned an eMachines i333 desktop computer. We bought it from Best Buy in 1998 or so. It was running Windows 98, which was a nice improvement over Windows 95. (My son pointed out that every other release for Microsoft seems to be a dud. e.g. windows 95, 2000, Vista, now Windows 8.) It was not a good product, let me start with that. Ours blew a power supply shortly after the warranty that required a $75 fix from a computer repair shop. Eventually the CD ROM no longer worked. It was slow. I think we upgraded the ram from 128 MB to 384 MB that and it still ran like a dog.

Anyhow, we eventually wiped the hard drive clean and donated it to a non-profit. They in turn used it as a training machine, I believe.

Well, much to my surprise, last fall I got a card in the mail saying I was part of a class action suit against eMachines corporation. It turns out the floppy drives in the machines were prone to cause corruption to floppies. Can I recall if my data was ever corrupted? No, I can't. That's not to say it didn't because it was the source of much grief. A bum floppy write may have been part of those years, I'm not sure.

The deal with the suit was, because I had registered it on the website, they had my address, so I was one of the fortunate ones that was sent a card. The card said if I were to send in proof of my identity, I would qualify for either $62.50 in cash or $365 toward a new (refurbished) computer from a select website. I immediately filled out the card and sent it in, thinking a new (refurb) computer would be nice to have. Did I need a new one? No. Did I need a new, free one? Um, yes.

I waited for 6 months or so while the suit was settled. It seems they won the settlement (the plaintiffs) and so I got the redemption certificate last week. I jumped on the website that night and within an hour had ordered a new Acer Aspire S3-391-6046 ultrabook laptop. It came yesterday and is quite a nice little machine.

It is not without it's problems however. First world problems for sure, but problems.

First of all there's the whole Windows 8 thing. Having a hard time with it frankly. I bought the thing in the hopes that I'd grow to embrace W8 and, well, we're still at the awkward first date stage. I keep trying to kiss her, but all I get is a sweaty hand-hold. Maybe with time she'll become like an old friend, or maybe we'll agree to disagree and have an amicable split forever.

Why can't she be like her cuter younger sister, W7? Functional and cooperative. I don't want an app, I want a program. I get what they're shooting for, but when my first goal is to get something done that I've done a hundred times before, why must I feel like a 3 year old in a jet cockpit? I'm sure I'll master it, but it's going to take a while. I refuse to retrofit it with a Windows 7 look and feel (task bar with a start button, etc.)

Then there's a smaller, tighter, and slightly different keyboard. It makes me type like sadfae dwerwcf dklfadslew werafert, when I want to type more like this. It can be maddening. Add a dark room and it gets even worse. So again, a learning curve. Or, in this case, more likely that machine will be used for trips and emergencies. It is less than 3 lbs and so is really nice for travelling. Until those times, I'll stick with my Dell.

On a related note, my wife managed to pick up a nasty bug with here HP laptop. It required a factory restore with a backup of her personal files. The bad news is I had to do the restore. The good news is, every time I do one of these I learn a little something. The worst part is it's such a time suck. Loading the OS is one small part. You have programs and printers, and updates after that. Then there are the 10 little things you forgot, that come up over the next few weeks. Such fun. If home was anymore like work, I'd be getting paid for it.

I don't mind saving the day with my system restores and recoveries. I love messing around with computers. What I like more than that though is actually using them to do real work (like this blog, and my writing, and facebook, etc.) It's hard to do that stuff when you're futzing with backup strategies, endless scans and glitches.

I know the answer is "Get a Mac" (You know who you are, people.) and one day I may. (Put me on your Christmas list, people).

Until then, I have to believe the better answer might be get a pen.

Blogging off...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fairly Heavenly

I took Ben to the Waukesha County Fair today as part of the County Employee picnic. We get free admission and lunch, so I try and make it when we can as it's a chance to get my fill of fair food in case I don't make it to the State Fair. I love corn dogs, mini donuts, fried cheese curds and creme puffs the best. Today after the county sponsored lunch, all I was able to cram in was a bag of mini donuts. They were deliciously bad for me and Ben and I ate them all.

Fairs, carnivals, and festivals whether at the State, County, Town, or Parish level, have always been a blend of heaven and hell for me. They represent both good and evil all rolled into one, then deep fried and put on a stick.

Why the hell tie-in? Have you ever been to a Midway? Most of these games are rigged or slanted so far in the favor of the vendors that it's easier to just give your money to the attendant and keep walking. These men and women are after one thing, and it's surely not the unbridled joy of your child's face as they walk away with a four foot tall stuffed Homer Simpson doll. They want your money and would likely take your soul if it meant they'd make a buck in the process.

One year we went to the county fair and my daughter (about 9 at the time) wanted to play some games. We gave her a five dollar bill and set her free. She came back in tears a few minutes later. Rather than trying a few different games, the swindler at one particular game had sweet talked her into trying a game 3 times for $5.00. Of course she failed and ended up blowing $5.00 in 30 seconds. She was distraught and got a good taste of the corruption and greed known as the Midway. As bad as it was, it was a great life lesson for her. It taught her that as good as some people seem, appearances can be deceiving. That as easy as some things appear, there's no free lunch.

Ben tried his luck at the "Shoot out the star" BB gun game, a favorite of his. He tried it twice and lo and behold, he was unable to completely shoot out the star. We joked afterward that they put oil on the BB's so they take on an erratic path of their own after being fired. Either that or the barrel rotates slightly after every shot, so that even a marksman looks like a fool. Neither would surprise me. He has a healthy mistrust for everything in the midway and, in that respect, I think I've done good.

I don't mean to demonize the whole fair, or even the Midway. As I said, I love the fair. I no longer waste my time trying to break bottles with baseballs, but that doesn't mean I don't get a charge out of walking the aisles amidst the buzzing buzzers, flashing lights, dinging bells and popping balloons. To me it's the spectacle of the experience that is so cool. It's like being in hell, but not taking part in the sin that got me there.

The heavenly part of the fair is everything else. I love walking through the animal barns. Being raised a city-boy, I always get a kick out of seeing the goats, the sheep and the piggies. It's funny because the people I know who were raised on farms, have nowhere near the zeal for the animal barns as I do. Today Ben and I saw a cow that must have been 1200 pounds. (That's a guess.) It was beastly large. Fascinating stuff for a city-boy.

I love the food, as I said. Almost all of it is bad for you and that's why many people go. They can't get some of it any other time and you check all of your dietary limitations at the gate when you walk in. This is not always a good thing for people, but at the fair, no one cares. It's heavenly food taken with hellish decadence.

The exhibits are cool too. Who doesn't want to see a potato peeler that doubles as a lawn-sprinkler, a shampoo that also unclogs drains, or a lawnmower that can be converted to a vacuum?

We went to the "demolition derby today and were disappointed to find out it was only lawn tractors. It was cool, but a bit of a letdown. Well, when we were ready to leave, it seems they were lining up "the big boys," namely full sized cars. We stuck around to watch and it was so, so cool. It was redneck, Americana cool. These cars had some horsepower to them and were giving it all. Ben and I got sucked into the noise, the exhaust and the power of it all. It's such a boy/man adrenaline thing and it was amazing. One car had it's wheel knocked off and still drove around on the drum for a while. (All in the name of a $700 winner's purse.) It was a moment between us that I'm glad we shared. Stupid, reckless, mindless fun. Heaven and hell all rolled together in 3 wrecks.

It epitomizes everything that is right and wrong with the fair, and I love all of it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nautical Pursuits

I spent the day sailing on Lake Michigan yesterday with my wife and some good friends. It was a 23' vessel and had 2 sails. Our "captain" was a ruggedized 70+ year old lady named Donna. She reminded me of my mom both in looks and attitude. She said she'd taken up sailing at age 40 as a "bucket list" thing, and had been doing it ever since. She has the best job in the world, of that she's convinced, and I tend to agree. Again it was the case of a septuagenarian showing me how life should really be lived. I want to be leading people on adventures at 70+, or learning guitar, or rock climbing, or...

Anyhow being on the water reminded me just how drawn to water based fun I am. I have always liked being on the water, usually fishing but, really, put me in or on anything that floats and I'm in. The ironic thing about my love of water is that I am not a terribly strong swimmer. I can hold my own and tread water with the best of them, but never really learned how to swim with controlled breathing, etc.

Above is one of the earliest pictures of me in a boat (in front) with a couple of my brothers in Hibbing, MN in 1969. (Safety First!) I remember this outing like it was yesterday. Rob and I both caught Northerns, mine got off at the edge of the boat, so Tom let me use the one he caught in a picture that we took after we landed. It's funny what sticks with you over time.

Motor boats were always nice, but we did our share of boating using our own power in a canoe or rowboat in order to get fish. One of my earliest recollections of canoeing was on the Mississippi River with my brother Tom and one of the others. It was my first lesson in taking heat from the back of the boat, as Tom told me to "put your shoulder into it". This continued as a practice that carried on for many years as we all plied the waters of northern Minnesota in canoes, at times bickering at the effort of the other.

I discuss these control battles at length in my forthcoming memoir. An empty canoe, by design, is efficient. But when you add two large adults, a bunch of gear and a nice crosswind, well, lets just say I understand where the phrase curse like a sailor comes from.

When I'm in the back of the boat, my philosophy (right or wrong) is to try and power through a wind shift in order to maintain our momentum. This differs from whoever I'm sharing the boat with when they're in the back. My thought is that they look at the back as a chance to take it easy, using the time to do a lot of ruddering and an occasional stroke here and there for good measure. This is largely an unjustified perception, I'm sure, but that is how it feels from the front. Since I can't see what they're doing back there, they must be loafing.

For a few years when I was in my early college days, a friend of mine had a really nice speedboat. He took us water skiing and tubing on many occasions. I got to be pretty good and was even able to drop a ski and slalom pretty well. The ultimate of course was getting up on one ski, thereby eliminating the need to drop and track a second ski. It also meant "eating water" where when you said "hit it", you ended up with the equivalent of a fire hose to the face for about 20 yards or so until you planed out and got on top of the wake. It was always a near-drowning, but hey, if you wanted to be considered "elite" you had to take your lumps, or swallow your gallons.

The same friend had a Sunflower sailboat and we took it out a couple of times with another friend who had his own sit-on-top wooden sailboat that he had "refinished." It turns out the refinish job neglected a small leak, so the thing took on water and, over time became top heavy. This resulted in multiple dunkings and an almost unsailable sailboat when the body of it became inundated. I'll forever remember it getting "righted" on Owasso Lake and when it came up, there was a big tangle of seaweed hanging from the mast. Ah, yes, nothing attracts the babes like a wet sailor with a seaweedy mast. "Could you throw me a lifeline, here?"

I was glad I was looking manly and dry in my Sunflower.

Of course there's always the party barge for the not-so-adventurous trips on the water. Virtually untippable and unsinkable, these vessels are king of the water. They are slow moving and they turn like a Mississippi river barge. They can be fun in their own rite, but are a little like trying to get respect on the road by driving a Taurus Wagon. Functional, yes, fashionable, um, no. At the same time, you can stretch your legs without kicking the anchor or a fishing rod, and where else can you make your lunch and listen to a stereo all on board.

There is a place and time for each of these boats. There's also a place for an inner tube or a Stand Up Paddle board. I love them all, and they're all part of my "happy place". I can't wait to get back into one.

Blogging off...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Comments on the Coast

I returned from San Diego yesterday after being away at the ESRI Users Conference for a week. The conference was the usual whirlwind; informative, fun, and exhausting all at the same time. I learned a lot, met a few new people and a ton of old friends.

California is beautiful but kind of an enigma to me. The cities I've been to there always have really decent weather of course, but there's more to a place than it's climate. This year, the weather was unusual for San Diego, being a tad muggy earlier in the week, and then cloudy and even rainy (though warm)  later in the week.

I remember vividly my first trip out to California in March of 1983. Three friends and I rented a Chevy Cavalier station wagon advertised with "unlimited miles"  for a week-long trip to Los Angeles. We drove 40 hours continuously from St. Paul, Minnesota to Manhattan Beach, California. I googled it to be sure, and at today's speed limits, it's down to 29 hours, still a drive, but not quite as epic as 40.

We took turns at the wheel, switching every four hours or so. We ran into a snowstorm in southwestern Minnesota right off the bat and for a time were not exceeding 30 miles an hour. It's never good to start out a 40 hour trip in traffic or bad weather, knowing you have that long drive ahead of you.

The thing I remember most about getting there was the palm trees. That and the fact that the weather was 80 degrees in March. It seemed surreal. Too good to be true. It caused me to wonder why we live where we live? With places like this, why would anyone live in the godforsaken northern climates?

Then after a week of experiencing the cost of living, traffic and seeing the ghettos of Watts and endless pavement and homelessness, I began to appreciate the simpleness of the Midwest again. One of my friends was fairly obsessed with moving out there after he got back, as was I in some ways, but after a week back or so, I came to my senses.

There was something so plastic and superficial about much of the people and culture of California. It's hard to describe, but it was all about what you owned, drove, did, saw, or who you knew. I realize there's probably parts of it that are more down-to-earth and real, but there just wasn't a real "neighborhood" feel to any of it. It was then that I realized I'm more a Lake Wobegonian than a Cosbyian or a 90215'er. I like people who are real and don't put on fronts. I'm more Red Green than James Garner.

I didn't get back to California again until my 1st ESRI Users Conference in 1999, some 16 years later. I think San Diego is hands down the best city in California, of the ones I've been to anyway. It was a much better experience, less traffic, less blight and less plasticity.

In 2008 I went to see my niece graduate in Redlands, California. It is a nice city in it's own right, although it gets too hot in the summer for my liking. My mother, sister, niece and me drove up to Santa Barbara to see a friend of Mom's and it struck me as a place I could live. A beautiful seaside city. Knowing what the land values are up there though, it would never happen.

I've also been to San Francisco. Another beautiful city with out-of-reach real estate. I loved the beauty of the architecture, etc, and really liked being that close to wine country and the Redwoods of Muir Woods. A beautiful area to be sure.

I was talking to my niece who lives in Redlands and her friend about the dangers of earthquakes, and kind of came to the conclusion that any area has its dangers. They get quakes and wildfires, we get tornadoes and floods. It's a tradeoff, and a risk most Californians are willing to take.

If you're thinking of visiting the area though, you won't want to listen to this recent song by City and Colour. He doesn't much fawn over it like I just did. LOL.

While I'm not sure I could live in California, it sure is a nice place to visit.

Blogging off...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The College Circuit

We toured UW Madison with our soon-to-be senior daughter yesterday. The tour took about 2 1/2 hours and was fairly comprehensive. Like the Minnesota tour, it started out with an informational session and then the crowd was broken out into groups and the walking tours began.

It was interesting from my perspective because I've been to Madison many times, but haven't really seen much of the campus at all. It was much larger than I expected and campus was surprisingly busy for a July day. We ended the tour by sharing 4 scoops of Babcock ice cream, made from the cows in the UW farm program. It was almost enough to sway her decision. Really, really good stuff!

Sarah was impressed with the feel of the campus. She said it is a solid second choice for her at this point. It seems she is set on the U of MN, and I'm OK with that. I'm okay with either choice really. People have asked what it would take to sway her to the UW, and I say only a full scholarship. I'm loyal until the ledger comes into play. It still may play a role if she were to get better offers from elsewhere, but at the moment it's all Minnesota.

It's been interesting on Facebook and other places people have said they hope her experience is good, etc, etc. In talking to my wife, we both said when we were going to college that our first priority was, well, going to college. We weren't really thinking about our experience at the time. We tend to look back on our experience now, and neither of us has anything negative to say about them. She and I both agree our college years were some of our best. You're away from home, (sometimes...I wasn't) cutting your own identity, and trying to find out what you want to do for the rest of your life. What can be bad about that?

 In my case, there was really not much choice on my college options, and thus my "experience". It came down to two choices really, it was either St. Thomas or the U of M. From an affordability standpoint those were my options. My college selection process wasn't at all like today where kids are carted around to various campuses to get a feel for things. I'm not saying it's wrong that we give our kids choices or help them through the process, I'm just saying it wasn't my experience at all.

I still find it hard to believe we're at this stage in her life, where we're preparing to send her off. She was just in grade school last week it seems. In any case, we have to let her decide where she feels best. She likes the fact that she'll be close to family in Minnesota, and that counts for a lot. Wherever she lands I know she will rise to the challenge and excel in what she pursues. I cannot say enough about how proud I am of her academic accomplishments. She does most of it without complaint, and with no nagging required. She is a model student and I only wish I had applied myself the way she is herself. I think we can learn something from our kids in that respect.

So, whether it be "Minnesota hats off to thee", or "On Wisconsin," my little girl is growing up. And I don't like it. :-)

Blogging off...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Story's End

I finished my BWCA book on Monday night. Well, I should qualify that statement. I finished "writing" the book on Monday. Maybe I should qualify the qualifier, I finished writing the last chapter of my book. What remains is another 45 pages of "final editing" with my Thursday workshop group, whom I am growing to really appreciate.

The book as it stands now is about 255 pages long and about 70,000 words. I started writing it in "concept" in 2005 during a class offered through the City of Waukesha titled "Writing from your life." What came out of that class was a seven-page piece that was the kindling for the bonfire that has become my book. As it turns out, it was written badly enough to be used for kindling, but that's a different story.

In looking back through the piece, I cover a little bit of everything from a camping standpoint. I talk a little about the characters, a little about the shopping, fishing, portaging and the rest. It was like a framework for the other 248 pages. Another little tidbit was that it was my original intent that the piece was the end-all for the BWCA. I wanted to capture some of the memories and have it for the family. I did that and that's where it sat.

Three years later I joined AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop and started futzing with the stories again, like a mechanic working on a junk car. What I found as I worked through the piece though was that the car wouldn't do with just a bondo-job, I needed to strip it to the frame and give it an engine, because frankly it didn't go. It was a concept car.

So how did I arrive at 255 pages? My brother thought it was kind of amazing that I was able to get so much out of so little. For as amazed as he is, I am even more so. I have no idea where it came from. Frankly, I used to shudder at the concept of a 10 page paper in college. I always made it through, but the thought was terrifying.

I say I have no idea where it came from, but in reality I do. It all came from a lot of hard work. Countless hours on three different laptops pounding away, in two different notebooks, scrawling away. It was fueled by gallons of coffee and, yes more than a few beers.

I wouldn't go so far to say it was ghost written by my peers in my writing workshop, but they had a heavy hand in it. They were there passing me the wrench when I was taking off the alternator because I put it in backwards. They were helping me mop up the antifreeze when I forgot to put the drain plug in. They were the ones talking me off the ledge when I said maybe it was a lemon and I'd be better off junking it. They told me it was beautiful and helped me see the flakes in the metallic paint that I thought were scratches. It's my guess they'll be there with me when I take it out for its first spin when I get it running too.

It's a little like intending to go to the grocery store to get some coffee and you end up walking to Columbia to get better beans. How did I get here?  (This is not my beautiful house.) I didn't intend to write a book, I just wanted to write a story.

And I guess I did. A really, really, long one.

Blogging off...