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Showing posts from November, 2014

The Holiday Slowdown

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I have admitted several times that I'm not a big fan of winter. I do occasionally cross country ski and have ice fished a half-dozen times, but given my preference, I'll take any other of the seasons.

Having said that, I do have to admit that I kind of enjoy this stretch from Thanksgiving until New Years. My son said that its nice because you always seem to have something to celebrate coming up or a break to look forward to. The reasons I enjoy the breaks are many and I'm sure you share a few with me.


Extended time with close family. My daughter came home from college on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and left to go back today. I was saying to my wife how good it was to have Sarah around the house, even when she was only sleeping. I miss her so much. At one point her and my son were giggling and messing around to the point of distraction. I turned to my wife and said, "I miss that tittering between them." Fun with extended family. On Thanksgiving we hosted Donn…

Big and Little Things

This is the time of year it's good to take stock of what you are thankful for.


Things I'm Thankful for:

My wife of 24 1/2 years. She makes me laugh, keeps the household clicking on all cylinders and is an amazing cook and mother. Often times she does it seamlessly and without complaint. Blessed to have her in my life.My kids Sarah and Benjamin. Now as "little adults" it is fun to laugh with them around the dinner table. They are both great students and even more importantly, warm, compassionate, accepting people. I don't know what we did to deserve such low maintenance kids.My faith. It's simplistic and complex at the same time. This year has introduced some big changes in how I look at and live out my faith. Thankful that God has pushed me out of my comfort zone.Snyders Mustard/Garlic pretzel nibs and (one) Staghorn beer. My post work, wind-down indulgences of choice. My Minnesota and New York family. Support and love of the deepest kind.My dog Toby. Everyday …

The Real 70's Show

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Every once in a while as a blogger, when it comes time to post, you draw a complete blank. Most days I have no trouble coming up for ideas for my twice-weekly posts (Sunday and Thursday, for those who follow me). Well, this post is one of those spurred by a blank mind. So, I've decided to pull a picture from the set of old photos my mom sent on DVD's yesterday. Here is the snapshot I chose:

I chose this picture out of the 360 pictures she sent because it is priceless. This was taken from the living room of our house on Portland Avenue. I'm guessing the year was 1971 or so. The picture says so much about the time and situation we were in that it needed to be described.

We moved into this house in December of 1969, It was our first "real house" as mom put it. The place we were living in before this we were renting transitionally while mom saved and strategized to buy a "real house." The place before the rental unit was in the housing projects of Saint Pau…

Thoroughly Tested

My son Ben took his drivers test today. He's been "practice driving" all summer and fall in preparation for the test. We were finally able to get him scheduled for today. These past few weeks we've been letting him drive a lot more and with each turn he improved a little. Sure, there were some backwards steps every once in a while, where you wondered whether he'd ever driven a car before. But those were getting less and less as we drew nearer to the test date.

If you've had kids go through the whole experience of drivers training, you know it's not for the faint of heart. The time he blew a stop sign in a residential subdivision was probably the low point, though my voice was not low. It's those moments that you realize how alive you really are. Your heart reminds you quite nicely as it drums and flutters.

Anyways, he passed the test. Not with flying colors, but he passed. He was two points from failing, but he passed. He evidently has issues with &qu…

Gifts for Giving

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Over the past few years I've increasingly taken notice of the enormous talent of people around me. I don't mean to keep going back to it, but the sickness and passing of my brother seemed to open my eyes to something bigger than me. The God-given talent of artists and tradespeople and musicians and writers around me, is positively dizzying. I'm pretty sure it was there before, but maybe I wasn't as cognizant of it as I am now.

Sometimes death tilts a person's axis so they look at everything with a new orientation. For me it seems to have enabled me to better recognize the good in people, the talents that I don't have, talents that amaze me. I've mentioned things like the drumming of Neil Peart (from Rush) and the guitar work of Mark Knopfler (formerly of Dire Straits),  or the voice of Norah Jones. But those are all professionals. I'm talking about people around me, like me, that are working stiffs with day jobs, but have secondary passions and pursuits…

On the Admission of Winter by Means of Natural Coat Selection

...or the Preservation of Frigid Faces in the Struggle for Life.

For as long as I can remember, I have tried to deny the coming of winter. I am not a big fan, and this denial is a good example of that. To illustrate I have to detail my annual winter coat transition routine. It is an evolution of sorts, albeit an involuntary one.

When I bike to work in the summer, often times, I won't wear a coat at all. As fall approaches, I work my way up the coat chain. I start with my "blue coat" that is an unlined wind-breaking kind of coat that says "Yeah, there's moments of chilliness, but it'll pass. " It also rolls up small enough so it can be packed in my backpack in case the day warms up.

Near the middle of October, I usually upgrade to my "black coat", a slightly heavier coat that is an admission that August truly is over and September ain't coming back, either. Unlike the blue coat, this coat says "Yep, I guess fall is here and you'd b…

High Culture

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It was a weekend of high culture around here. It started on Friday night when we attended a Guest House volunteer recognition at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Donna was being recognized along with her friend Jill, and an attorney who has donated his services for the Guest House. For those who don't know, Donna and Jill are part of a large Facebook group that coordinate monthly meals for the guys at the shelter. They organize donations, cook the food and serve it every month. It is a lot of work and coordination and they are very good at it; good enough to be recognized for their efforts. I couldn't be prouder of both of them. Their hearts are huge and talents many.

If you've ever been to the Pfister you know its magnificence. It is a classic old Milwaukee hotel on the order of the Palmer house in Chicago. Crystal chandeliers, plush carpeting, ornate marble, beautiful artwork and details, details, details. If you don't feel rich when you're there, then yo…

Sub-Micro Fame in Spring City, Granite City and the Twin Cities

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Author update:

Well, it's been a while and a lot is happening right now and in the near future with regards to all things written, so I thought I'd take some time and update everyone on what's going on in the world of pseudo-fame, micro-fortune and the occasional royalty check. So, here goes.


In regards to royalty checks, it's not something I like to make real public, but thought I'd share this story of my first check. I got it the first week of October. My publisher sends them out quarterly. I opened it with great anticipation, trying to get a gauge on whether I could retire early or maybe pay off a month of Sarah's college tuition. To my surprise, it was ridiculously low, like just over $150. What the heck? I was shocked and dejected. Well, after looking closer at it, I realized that it was for the Quarter ending June 30th. The book was released June 17th. The check was for a two week period. Whew! I won't get my first full quarterly check until after 1/1/…

House Call

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I spent the weekend almost exclusively at home this weekend. It was an introvert's dream in that respect. No social commitments to speak of, just a lot of time and a list a half-mile long of things I wanted to get done, both personally and around the house.
As I worked through my project list for the house, I was reminded of how much work home ownership truly is. I think in my case, that work is compounded by the fact that our house is 92 years old. Old houses take work to keep things running, flushing, flowing, heating, cooling and live able. I'm not discounting new homes, ANY home requires maintenance, it's just that older ones seem to need an extra dose of TLC. 
There are many days lately that we've dreamed of moving on; finding that dream condo or small bungalow with newness to it and no need to upgrade anything (does such a place exist?). Unfortunately, we have this thing called college education for our kids that will insure that we don't do anything for ano…