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Showing posts from May, 2014

Dirty Shirt Character Peek - Issue 9 - Ben

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In looking at another character in my coming book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir, today I will write about my son Ben. At the moment, Ben is fifteen years old, but at the time of the two trips we took to the BWCA together, he was thirteen and ten.

Ben loves to camp. For his birthday last year, he asked if he could take a friend up to Kohler-Andrea for a day at the beach and then go camping somewhere. We ended up going to Long Lake in the Northern Kettle Moraine and had a really good "guy trip" together. This summer he keeps talking about a backpacking trip that he's scheduled to take to the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan with some friends and a father of one of the boys. He's actually saving up his money to be able to buy a backpack for the occasion.

What's even more interesting is that he has mentioned once or twice that the summer after he graduates from High School, he wants to take a trip to the BWCA with three of his friends. Now, if you don't al…

Dr. Google And His Associate Web MD

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With the increasing cost of health care, many people, myself and my wife included, have turned to a cheaper health care provider. His name is Dr. Google. He's a close associate of our backup Dr. (aka Doctor on call) who goes by the name of Web MD. He has no last name, which I think is odd, but if it works for Cher and Bono, why not a doctor.

The other day when our dog Toby started limping around the house, holding his back leg up at times and favoring it, we did what any modern day pet owner would do first.

We called Dr. Google.

A few key strokes and a couple of mouse clicks and the good Doctor had a diagnosis for me as well as a cost estimate. He was pretty certain it was a torn ACL on Toby's leg with nothing short of a $2500 surgery to fix it. This was not good news as a pet owner. Bad Dr. Google!

As we paid more attention to Toby for the next day or so, we noticed he had gunk in his ears. Not sure what to think of it, we dialed up Doctor Google again and once again, he was q…

Dirty Shirt Character Peek: Issue 8 - Dad

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Well, we've surpassed the one month date from the release of my book Dirty Shirt. I've been doing sneak peeks for many of the books central characters over the past eight weeks. This week I focus on my father who is a background character throughout the whole book. 
When I began writing the last thing I expected was that he would make an appearance, let alone become an undercurrent character for the duration. That's one of the cool things about writing, you never really know where it's going to take you. Sometimes you just start typing and go along for the ride.
My dad was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt, fish, canoe and ski. Of course, I have no memory of this, but from pictures I've seen and stories I've heard, it was how he relaxed. He instilled this love in my oldest brother Tom, who later instilled it in Rob, Paul and me. I think this, along with his love for his family will go down as his greatest legacies. 
Some of you may not know the full story be…

From Where Art Comes

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I went to my daughter's senior high art show last night at Waukesha South. This is an annual celebration where the seniors who have been in the program for at least 3 years, get to display their artwork. There was every kind of art there from pencil sketchings, to pastels, oils, multi-media, jewelry, ceramics, and even some video.

As we walked around looking at the art after the long awards ceremony, I was amazed at the quality of some of the art that was displayed. (Granted, my daughter's was the best of all, but hey, who's keeping track?) Some of the pencil and charcoal drawings were so good they looked like photographs. There was a picture of a large parrot that must have taken hundreds of hours. It was beautiful. One student received a $75,000 scholarship to the Chicago Art Institute for her portfolio of work. Amazing talent. Given that I cannot begin to conceptualize a piece of art that I'd want to make, let alone the fact that I couldn't make it, well, this e…

Dirty Shirt Character Peek: Issue 7 - Mom

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In recognition of Mother's Day, this week's Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir character peek is my mom. She plays a very small part in the book, mainly in the prologue, but will play a much bigger role in my next book about the house I grew up in (tentatively titled Keeping Portland Weird).

While her role may be small in this book, it doesn't mean she did not play an influential role behind the writing of it. Perhaps the biggest impact was her love of camping, namely tent camping. She and my stepfather always made it a point to take us camping every year. This was no small feat. My step-family consisted of 8 kids, three or four of which would come along on the trips. My family would usually add three or four to that number to make for one big camping mob.

Typically we'd drive to a distant State Park, set up two ginormous fabric sided tents and divide the kids out between the two of them. When we came across others in RV's or even pop-up trailers, Mom always sai…

All Things Written

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Because it's been a while since I gave an update on what's going on in my writing life, I thought I'd give a synopsis of where I'm at. Granted I've been doing sneak peeks into the characters in Dirty Shirt, but that's not really anything about where I'm at in my writing life. I consider those and the other things I've been posting to Facebook to be "promotional things," not really a status of what's new for me as a writer.

First and foremost, my book comes out in 39 days. This is both exciting and a tad overwhelming at the same time. If you think back to January when I first found out they were going to publish, recall that I could hardly sleep for the first few days because of all I had to do. Well, I am sleeping better, but there's still a boat-load of things to do. I'm knocking a few off each day, but it seems like every thing I check off, results in another thing added.

The good news is I now have 5 book signings scheduled and a…

Dirty Shirt Character Peek: Episode VI - Sarah

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Another character in Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir is my daughter, Sarah. As I've mentioned, the book is structured in three parts. Parts one and two are about trips with friends and my brothers. The third part is about more recent trips we took with our children. These trips were meant, first and foremost, as family adventures, but also to instill in the kids a respect and appreciation for the BWCA.

In 2009, we took our kids up for a short trip, three days and two nights. We wanted them to have a good experience, so kept it to one short portage and lots of fishing and cousin time.

Sarah came along on that trip as well as the one in 2012. She has always loved to camp and that is only outdone by her love of fishing. I've said it many times, but I remember her vividly as a four year-old sitting at the end of the dock fishing for hours, catching bluegills as fast as I could take them off.

This made her a natural fit for fishing in the BWCA. While we caught a few walleyes d…

Vagrant Pets

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Today my short memoir Fat Cat came online at the Neutrons Protons online magazine site. It is a story about a stray cat we took into our home when I was just a kid. Like many of our pets, Fat Cat wasn't sure what he was getting into when he came into in our house of 6 kids. Most of the cats we had were tom cats, left to roam the city streets at night at will, to fight, chase females and return home only when they needed rest, food or medical attention.

I am not proud of this heritage. Unfortunately, it is a done deal and, as I allude to in one of my pet stories, since many of our pets came to us as strays, we were providing them with a better life than they were leaving. Besides, it was a bit like trying to tame a stallion. Once a stray, it was in their nature to roam. They had a travellin' bone and you couldn't break them of it. It was like they agreed to live with us, but it was on their terms.

"Okay, I'll give you love and affection, but I want 3 squares a day …