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Showing posts from October, 2014

My Other Big Sister

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I have a sister in my family that I never really knew. Her name is Linda and I wish I could say I have a few key memories of her, but she passed away at the age of five when I was just over four months old. (Birth-order wise, it goes Tom, Pat, Linda, Jane, Me, Rob, Paul.) I don't know much about the specifics of timing and such, but I do know she was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor which is a cancer of the kidneys (From what I've read it is a rare form of cancer that primarily affects children.) My older siblings have many more memories of her because of their close proximity in age, but I have nothing but pictures to go by.

Recently, my mom has been sending old photo album pictures off to get scanned in the hopes of preserving them. Looking through them has been a walk back in time for me, really fun. She made a point to try and get lots of pictures of each of her seven kids and then gave us the disk to share around. Because of this effort, I now have a decent collection of pict…

Summer Skin

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This past weekend was positively glorious. Temps in the high sixties and low seventies, low humidity and clear skies. I spend much of it in shorts and a t-shirt as I am painfully aware of what the coming weeks and months will bring. After tomorrow, I have a feeling that the shorts will get packed away for the fall and winter months. 
Knowing this is the end of warm weather - and I am well aware that we are lucky to have it this late in October - I had a chance to reflect on the summer we just finished. It was a great one, albeit too short. We traveled a million miles, but it all seems so long ago. Here are some of the highlights.
Sarah's Graduation
Family came from East and West to see Sarah graduate from high school. She made us all proud as she walked in the auditorium. We followed up with a fun party at a picnic shelter by the Fox River in Waukesha. Lots of food, friends and fun. 
Book Release and Signings
Can hardly summarize how fun these were. The opening at Purple Door was fan…

A Peek In The Bucket

As I was fishing this weekend, it occurred to me that everything has a season. There will come a day when I won't be able to fish because I'll be old and feeble. Same goes for camping or biking. Because of this, I've made a list of ten things I do want to do before I die, or at least before I am physically unable to do them.

Bucket List:
1. Walk my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.


A simple request, and certainly one of the easiest in this list. I think this one is a given, and I just hope I can keep it all together when it happens.
2. Sky dive  This has always been an infatuation of mine. My friends did it in high school and I missed out. It seems like the riskiest thing in the world to do, but hey, it's livin'.
3. Climb a 10,000+ foot high mountain. 
This might be one of the harder things on the list. I've hiked a small mountain or two, but really want to push myself (with the right company of course) by taking on a bigger challenge. 
4. Raft down th…

The Deal With "Up North"

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One of the annual trips I look forward to every year is for an event I call Muskiefest. The name comes from a much larger gathering of muskie fisherman in nothern Wisconsin years ago, before I was part of the tradition. The event kind of dwindled in size and eventually fizzled out. Now I go up there every year to fish with two or three other friends in sort of a Muskiefest "lite".


When I first started going to it six years ago, I was skeptical about the appeal of fishing in October. I'd seen pictures of guys in winter coats fishing and heard stories of years where people never caught one fish. Why would anyone in their right mind want to do that? When I go to fish, I want to catch fish. Well, after catching my first muskie ever in 2009, I was instantly hooked and have gone to the event every year since.

Last year was the first year I did not catch a fish. Neither did my buddy. The weather was tough and despite valiant attempts, we did not even see a muskie. It was humbl…

Chuggin' On

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It has been quite a week for me as a new author in the land of make-it-up-as-I-go-along. Good things just keep happening from week to week with my book and the path it's taking me on. I'll break down a few things that, like the book itself, just seem a little surreal to me. I keep forging ahead with promotion and every once in a while someone or something bites. Here's my week so far.


The gentleman I mentioned a few weeks back who contacted me by email again. He asked if I'd meet him and sign a book contacted me again asking to have me sign two more copies for him for Christmas gifts. It's always a great feeling when someone comes back for more. I don't mean from a profit standpoint, though that is nice, but the fact that people enjoyed the book enough to want to share it with friends. These were Christmas gifts for two of his buddies.
I've seen on Facebook where a couple of people have shared the book with multiple friends. Again, hearing this is more reward…

Old Friends

This past weekend we went up to Minnesota. It was originally scheduled as a visit to see Sarah, do some shopping for her and catch up with family. As it turns out, in the middle of last week, one of my high school friends' mother passed away after a long battle with cancer. It turned out that her visitation and funeral were on Saturday morning, so I thought it would be a good chance to pay my respects to a friend I hadn't seen in 5 years. (He was a character in Dirty Shirt and one of my closest friends in high school). So, I hooked up with another friend from high school (also a character from Dirty Shirt), for coffee beforehand and we went to the visitation together.

Neither of us knew what to expect. We decided just to show up and be there for our mutual friend. We know his whole family, so we looked forward to seeing them all together again, but with many situations like these, you always go in with a bit of trepidation. It turns out these pre-reunion jitters were for naugh…

On Tour With Ten

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A couple friends of Donna and I took their father to see Santana at the Riverside Theater last night as his birthday gift. They are not really Santana fans, but their father/father in-law is and they told him they'd take him. I told my wife to tell them I was jealous and if they needed a stand-in in his place, I would be glad to take it. They went and ended up having a pretty good time.

In one of my more recent posts, I mentioned that I went to see the Black Keys and Cage the Elephant with my son. When people mention on Facebook that they are going to see so-and-so, I am usually seething in jealousy. I love concerts and would go to many more if I had willing company. (Not everyone likes who I like.)

Having said that, here's a rundown of my top 10 concerts of all time. I'll try and rank them, with #1 being the best, but reserve the right to shuffle at the whim of any future conversation depending on my mood. Also bear in mind that my favorite bands are not always part of th…

Natural Impact

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My mother in-law bought me a subscription to The Sun magazine years ago ,and now renews it every year for my birthday. I think it is a magazine that most people would cringe at reading. It is all nonfiction and some poetry, but the stories are long and the print small. Most people like bite sized magazines with articles you can finish over a piece of pizza. Well, with this magazine I've grown to love reading it and usually do so from cover-to-cover. I've got my wife hooked on it now too, and we often ask each other "Do you have this month's Sun?"

Every month they interview a different expert or scientific celebrity and often times those are the best part of the magazine. This month they interviewed  Jack Turner, who has a fascinating resume including Mountain Guide, Author, and a degree Philosophy. His interview was so engaging I actually highlighted some of his quotes. His perspective on the outdoors mirrors my own so much that I wanted to share some of them.

As …

Follow Up

I haven't talked much about my work-in-progress toward publication, so I thought I'd catch everyone up on what that is. As much as I'd like to dive into the next book with abandon, I decided long ago that my second work would be a collection of my poetry. After all, it wasn't long after I enrolled in AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop that I began to "mess around" with poetry. Of course, at the time my main focus was on the Dirty Shirt material, but every four or five weeks I'd commit to writing and bringing in some poems. I literally had no idea what I was doing; driving blind, stabbing in the dark, dancing with no shoes on.

Something like that.

I started writing it because a couple of fellow writers inspired me with their work. Kathy Bram was one, Mario Medina was another and Alita Burmeister a third. There have been several since, but these three were the first, the inspirational ones, so to speak. They had a way of clunking and chunking words toge…