Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

Before I look ahead to 2015, I think it's always important to look back at last year and take stock on they year. In 2014, I posted a personal record of 125 times. What I'd like to do now is run down the top 10 posts from last year. These are based strictly on my own perception of them, so bear with me.

Here are the 2014 top ten posts with links to each.

  1. Dancing Defined This post was spurred by my niece's wedding reception where I took to the dance floor like a maniac. Unfortunately, I probably looked like a maniac. But as I allude to in the post, dancing is all about letting it out and not worrying what others think. This is probably not a healthy outlook from a face-saving perspective, but I can't change who I am.
  2. A Story Written - A Life Rewritten A fellow eLectio Author spurred this post with his memoir on the struggles he had growing up in the housing projects in South Dakota. It resonated a bit with me because of our brief foray into the housing projects right before my dad died in the mid 1960's. It speaks of adversity and the strong people that rise above it. 
  3. Reality Check A post about the prospect of Sarah heading off to college. It's weird to look back at this post and see all the doubt and anxiety I had about Sarah leaving. Now that I'm four months into it I know that it is exactly where she should be. I mourn her absence when she's not here, but I've come to realize life goes on and we're all going to be okay.
  4. National Poetry Month - Issue 21 In April I took on the challenge of posting a poem a day on my blog. It was a lot of work, but I loved the process. It took me into many poet's work. This particular one became even more meaningful last week. The author Jeff Poniewaz passed away. So it goes...
  5. From Where Art Comes My daughter's art show reminded me how much I cannot get into the head of an artist. One might say as a writer I use the same parts of my brain, but why then can I not draw? It's a strange jump.
  6. Coffee With Friends This post sums up one of the best days of 2014 for me, my book signing at Cafe De Arts. The place was packed and I had an absolute blast talking to friends and signing copies of Dirty Shirt. It was the start of a blindingly fun summer and fall of book promotion.
  7. Exponential Good With all that we do with the Guest House every year, it becomes clearer to me every day that if everyone did a little, it would make a big difference in the world. This post speaks to some of the other things going on at the Guest House.
  8. A Zillion Miles for a Dirty Shirt The book's road trip to Ely, Minnesota and all points in-between is the subject of this post. Lots of quality time with my son Ben and a surprise visit from my family on a tour run that I will always remember. Good times.
  9. Travel Log Part III - The Cabin More travels; to northern Wisconsin this time. Precious time with family and good friends in God's country.
  10. Gifts For Giving This is a synopsis of the many talents of my friends and family. Everything from music, and writing, and from cooking to art are included.
So that is my year. What was your favorite post of the year?

I hope you've enjoyed my blog from time to time (or on a regular basis). I sure appreciate all the good feedback people have given me. Its incredibly encouraging. Here's to a great 2015!

Blogging off...


Bear in mind that you can peruse any blog post from my blog over they years by scrolling down the right side of my blog to the "BLOG ARCHIVE" section and clicking on the month or year.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Timelessness of Christmas

Christmas was always loud and brash and full of laughter and joy at the house on Portland. This year like so many before it, Mom picked out the long needled Norway Pine and decorated it with ornaments old, new, gaudy and beautiful. She was careful to put the breakable ones up high, away from our cat. Tonto occasionally took to his lumberjack skills and climbed the trunk and gave a good shake, or, worse, toppled it altogether. To be sure, we tied it up with fishing line to give it a fighting chance against the cat's deft tree killing skills.

The relatives start arriving about 5:00. Along with my brother Paul, I am a student at the University of Minnesota. My brother Rob is home from Rochester, New York where he is attending NTID. Tom, Pat and Jane are all moved out and raising families of their own. They arrive with kids and spouses in tow for the annual Christmas gathering at mom's. Everyone is in high spirits, exhausted from all the preparation, yet finally ready to let down and enjoy the night with family.

After the welcoming hellos and Merry Christmases are said, people begin settling in. Beers are cracked among the brothers while the ladies sip wine. Sisters Jane and Pat live dangerously sipping "the recipe" a concoction modeled after the two sisters on the Waltons' television show while Mom worries about whether the standing rib roast is done or not. Our grandmother Dagny sits in the overstuffed chair looking regal in her Christmas outfit and large necklace sipping a cocktail of her own and laughing her Barney Rubble laugh that I love so much. All of us dread the goodnight slobbery kiss from Dag whose lips were always unnaturally wet at kiss time. The kiss is an annual joke between us, one we looked forward to in a twisted sort of way.

Dinner is the annual fare of roast beast, Dagny's oyster casserole, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy and a crystal bowl full of sister Pat's mysteriously good "Green Stuff". It's a merriful mix of pistachio pudding, whipped cream, and fruit cocktail that made the holidays complete, despite all of the wrongness of a pudding and fruit mix. A line forms at the buffet lined with platters and bowls of steaming food. The adults gather around the antique dining room table set with mom's sterling silver place settings and her china with the rooster art. The delicate crystal goblet stemware holds wine or water. Tapered candles burn in the middle of the table warming the room as it buzzes with laughter, stories, and compliments on the meal. The food smells savory and delicious. It smells of love and richness and Christmas.

When dinner is finished, annual tradition has the Landwehr/Kaufenberg/McKasy men clearing the table and doing the dishes. Sisters Jane and Pat joke about how nice it is to see the boys working for a change, and even nicer how good it is to see them all working together. The discussion over dishes jumps from world issues to what's wrong with the Vikings' running game. The mood is jovial and anticipatory, each of us men stifling our expectant happiness at opening our gifts which happens when the last fork is dried.

After determining that this is Tom's year to pass out gifts, he settles into the Santa chair and starts reading off names. The nieces and nephews play elves and run the presents to each of the recipients. Carols seep from the stereo and a light haze begins to form near the ceiling from the various smokers in the group. The Un-candles on the mantle, a gift from Christmas two years prior, partially neutralize the smoke as they burn their vegetable oil fuel. The moment is frenzied with half a dozen conversations going on during the present distribution. The young kids have halos of electricity, barely able to surpress their pent up excitement. Through all of it God swirls about the room whispering in each ear,

"Do you see this? Isn't this beautiful? Revel in it. Hold it. This is Me. This is love. This is My love."

When the last gift is passed out we dig in. There is no taking turns among this group. Each person tears and unwraps at their own pace. The kids rip with voracity while those with fewer gifts take time to watch and enjoy others' moment of happiness. The room buzzes with cacophony and chaos. "Thank you, Mom!" is shouted more times than can be counted. Gasps are plentiful and dramatic. People spontaneously try on the sweaters, and slippers and hats that they receive. Toys are unwrapped as mom warns "Watch those small pieces! Every year something gets lost or thrown away in the wrappings."

It is an unbridled free-for-all of momentary excess, greed and gratefulness, and I am loving every second of it.

Everyone relishes in their gifts for an hour or so before they start packing things up for the ride home. As midnight approaches Rob and I prepare to go to Midnight Mass across the street at St. Luke's. It is an annual tradition with the two of us, one we would later include our wives in.

We walk into the cavernous church dimly lit for arguably the biggest service of the year. The huge pipe organ fires up the first notes of "O Come All Ye Faithful" as the congregation stands for the
processional. The whole scene is powerful and reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas. Later on in the mass, the priest lights incense and shakes the metal thurible back and forth in each direction, filling the church with aromatic smoky floral joy.

After the long but beautiful service, Rob and I head out into the cold darkness for the walk home. Our breath hangs in the air as we talk about the neighbor girls from up the block that we saw in church, and how they've become beautiful young women now. Then, when I least expect it, Rob hockey-checks me into the snowbank where I land hands-in-pockets, in a heap.

He runs away laughing and shouting, "Merry Christmas, bro," while I'm left to dust myself off and take chase in my dress shoes through the frozen night. I am shocked, damp, and laughing as I slip and slide down the street. I am equal parts amused at my brother's trickery and annoyed at my own naivete. I should have expected it. It is a moment of sibling goofiness carried into adulthood. Grown men being boys on Christmas Eve.

We arrive home and after a bit of wind-down to a few more Christmas carols and one last gift assessment, we unplug the tree lights and head up to bed.

It is in every sense of the word, and average Christmas. There was much preparation going in, and the inevitable letdown after the last gift was opened. At the same time it is a small moment of perfection. It is a glimpse of heaven, or maybe into the fiery heart of God's eternal love. We're over 30 years removed from this Christmas of long ago and we continue to pass down these traditions of Christmas to our own kids. Food, merriment, gifts and hearty helpings of hugs and warmth.

This Christmas, I hope that wherever you are, you take time out from the chaos and freneticism of the day to step back and look around. Be grateful for those that love you, but give to them by loving back. Next year will be differently the same. But for now, you have RIGHT NOW. Live it!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Blogging off...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Getting Chiseled in Granite

I left off the last post with a promise to tell a bit more about the trip to Minnesota for the Granite City Book Club. As I have been alluding to all during this long, strange book tour/promotion, I still can't believe I am part of it all.

Stearns History Museum
Now, before I get all puffy in the chest about my fan base, you have to understand that most of these venues are small affairs, with anywhere from 12-20 people. I'm not hiring security, there's no tour bus, groupies, and the only drugs involved are a couple of antacids on the bad days. I have no concealed carry for my own protection, and I never have a problem eating dinner out without getting interrupted for an autograph. It seems first-time small press, Midwestern authors are a few notches down from Clapton, Rush and Springsteen on the fame scale. In fact, they're off the scale altogether.

And I'm okay with that.

I am so happy to be doing what I'm doing, and hopefully it shows. The Granite City Book Club event was held at the Stearns History Museum in downtown St. Cloud. While the event was open to the general public, it appeared that it was attended mainly by club members, and that was fine. It turned out it had to be held in the lobby because the regular meeting room was prepped for a breakfast thing the next day. They had the lobby all decorated for the holidays and it worked out great despite the last minute change.

I gave my presentation which consisted of:
  • Introduction
  • Reading from Dirty Shirt
  • Slide presentation of pictures from BWCA trips and dad
  • Book trailer and description of the making of.
  • Reading from the next book
  • Closing comments and Q&A
The coolest part of this event was the great participation from the members. Because everyone had read the book, they not only asked good questions, but they told their own experiences of the Boundary Waters. I had an hour and a half to fill, and I filled it completely, which is always refreshing.

And before I knew it, the whole thing was over. I chatted with a couple of ladies afterward. One said she couldn't wait for the second book because she liked what she'd heard and she was a single parent of five sons. While this surely puts the pressure on to write faster, (it'll be a couple years is my guess) it was so great to hear that someone could already relate to the topic of the next book.

Another woman came up and said that while she liked the book before the talk, she liked it even more after the presentation I gave. She had no idea what this meant to me. It is so encouraging to know that my presenting, which I never considered a strength, actually helped make the book better for her. (As I do more of these presentations, I get increasingly more and more comfortable with each one. I daresay I actually kind of like them. Shudder.)

Because after all, here are a dozen people or so who are braving the dark bleakness of a central Minnesota winter evening to hear some stranger talk about a book. They were attentive, respectful and a whole lot of fun. There were no pyrotechnics, no busted up dressing rooms, no caviar and champagne, (though there was some wine) no sound checks, no beach ball bouncing through the crowd, no boring drum solos, no laser show and certainly no Pete-Townsend guitar smashing.

Nevertheless, the whole affair was a dream come true and I hope it, and things like it, continue well into 2015. I would like to thank the members of the GCBC for being such gracious hosts and making me feel welcome and part of the group. They told me to come back when the next book is out, and I will be sure to do just that.

Blogging off...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Last Man Standing

So, the Central Minnesota leg of the 2014 Dirty Shirt book tour has been a fun one. An absolute whirlwind of activity these past few days, but all of it good. I'll run down the highlights.

On Monday, a couple of days before I left to come here, I got an email from a woman at the Stearns History Museum asking if I'd do an interview for KVSC 88.1 FM, a local radio station. Of course I said I would and later that night gave about a 30 minute interview. It was a lot of fun and if you haven't heard it, you can hear it HERE

I have a new appreciation for the job and duties of a DJ/Radio personality now that I've done a couple of interviews. These folks have to take an ordinary conversation and make it listenable, In this case, Jeff Carmack did a great job and put together about a 25 minute interview.

On Wednesday I drove up to St. Cloud with my mom a few hours before the Granite City Book Club event so we could meet up with my Uncle Tom. He is my dad's fraternal twin and the last remaining Landwehr sibling from that generation. He's 89 and seems to be doing OK for himself. He's still in the house he helped build in the 1960's, with help from a daily visit from his granddaughter Michaela. 

Tom served as a navigator in the US air force during WWII. (My dad also served, but was honorably discharged for health reasons.) My cousin Coe showed up and we had a nice chat with Tom. Much of the time was spent telling war stories and family history stories. Tom mentioned one incident where the plane he was in had an engine take a direct hit and started "windmilling", but he said they were able to pull out of it, thankfully. 

He also described a certain model of aircraft, the B-26 that was known as the Flying Coffin.  that had a history of crashing due to unpredictable failures. He never flew in one of them, but knew that's what they were called. It was a fascinating history lesson in the presence of a firsthand Veteran. 

One of the more interesting things we saw while we were at his house was nothing more than an empty brandy bottle. The history behind it was, every year my dad and his brothers went up for a "brothers hunt". My dad only made it to one, because the next year he was killed. After his death they started the "Last Man Standing" bottle of brandy. The agreement was that they wouldn't open the bottle until the last brother was still alive. As the brothers started passing away, they expanded the hunt to the eldest sons. The birth and death dates of each of the brothers was written on the side of the bottle's case. 

As it turns out, when there were still two brothers remaining, Tom and Willie, at the hunt a few years ago, they decided to open the bottle. It turned out it was pretty rancid stuff, almost undrinkable, but in doing so, it was the end of an era. I snapped a few photos of the bottle, because it gives a bit of life to a fairly cool story - a message in a bottle - of sorts. 

We finished up our refreshments, gave Tom a hug, snapped a picture and said our goodbyes. Tom congratulated me on my book which I'm told he's extremely proud of, especially given that the picture on the front is his brother. In some respects I made a point to visit him because of his great knowledge of the family, but also because he in part is the essence of my dad. And this time of year, that's a great thing to be a part of.

More on the rest of the trip next time.

Blogging off...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Intersecting Lives

The trail of my book promotion has been long and winding these past 6 months. It has brought some long lost family back into my life, from second cousins I never knew I had to first cousins I haven't seen in years. But maybe even more interesting are the chance encounters I've had with a number of total strangers that have followed me or my book. Here's a few examples.

There is a guy who saw me at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books and sparked up a conversation. He had been to the BWCA as a teenager, but not since. He is also a Vietnam veteran and a writer who has his first book being looked at by a publisher in January. The book is titled The Last Man Out of Vietnam. It sounds like a great read and I can't wait to get a look at it. He said he read Dirty Shirt and really enjoyed it. He even came to my Pewaukee Library event to hear more of the back story and maybe to learn a little about book event promotion. I told him I'm no expert, but that it sure was a lot of fun

And there was the Canadian guide that I met in Ely who had actually written a number of guide-type books. He was an interesting character and probably had enough material for 10 Dirty Shirts if he put his mind to it. He was currently in dispute with his publisher, trying to get royalties that were long overdue for a book they were still selling.

At the Pewaukee event I had a lady come up to me and say she couldn't wait for my next book because she had raised 5 sons as a single parent. I had given everyone a sneak peek at what my next book-length memoir was going to be about. She bought a copy of Dirty Shirt and popped into my life and could relate to me on a personal level, even if for a brief moment.

Of course, there was the gentleman from Dousman, Wisconsin that I've mentioned before who had a brother die of cancer and who went to the BWCA every year with his family. Strange parallels all the way across the board there, but crazy how a book can connect two people for a short time over something like that.

At the Martha Merrells event I didn't manage to sell any books, but did get cornered for 45 minutes by a 93 year old guy who told me stories about his time living in Ely. It was a long winded monologue for the most part, but I'd be lying if I didn't say there were some interesting parts to his story.

There are the two people who helped coordinate my book signing events at the libraries. One was given the book by the other, but both loved the story of Dirty Shirt enough to think it was worthy enough to bring to the reading populace of the local libraries. Super nice ladies with nothing to gain by helping out a new writer. Good folks.

And there was the Michael Perry signing where, in the presence of greatness, I was privileged with having him taking one of my books and telling me congratulations on my own. A regular guy doing his thing to make a buck. Crossed paths.

There was a fellow writer who lived in Ely for quite a time that I have taken up a friendship with because of our common threads.

Or the woman who took my picture with Michael Perry who also bought Dirty Shirt and now reads my blog. She would like one day to retire in Ely. She too, has been to a couple of my events to hear more of the story.

The list goes on and on. All once were strangers for the most part, but also kindred spirits for one reason or another. I sometimes wonder why they were put on the same path as me, if even briefly. I do know that they've enriched my life in small ways one incident at a time. If nothing else, they've brought out my closet extrovert and we shared a moment. And it's all made the whole book promotion experience a whole lot of fun.

More good stories coming in the future, of that I'm sure.

Blogging off...

***I will be appearing at the Granite City Book Club in St. Cloud, Minnesota this Wednesday evening, December 17th from 6:30 - 8:00. The event is free for book club member and $7.00 for non-members.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Unforgettable Birthdays

Well, today is my birthday. Today marks the start of my fifty fourth lap around the sun. (That means I'm 53, BTW).

While birthdays aren't the big deal they once were, they're still a day when you expect just a little extra coddling or TLC. Give a person one day a year to feel a little special. Make them a cake or get them a card, or just wish them a great day.

In trying to think back to birthdays that were especially significant or memorable I can come up with a few.

Of course there were the childhood birthdays where the whole family gathered around and you were the man of the hour, for just about an hour. The Betty Crocker boxed cakes with boxed frosting were the best! Mom, or sometimes, my sisters, would make the double-decker cake with frosting between the layers. If she'd had a long day, we would have to settle for the lower maintenance 9 X 13" pan cake. And you know what? That was fine with us. It all tasted good and with 6 kids, it never lasted more than a day or two.

All of us would gather around the kitchen table after a meal of meatloaf, tacos or maybe pork chops, and mom would light the candles on the cake that was just about the best thing going. She'd start us singing and almost without fail one of my brothers or sisters would make a face during the singing which usually cracked me up. Then I'd blow out the candles and she'd dish it out to the six of us. Family doing family stuff. What a great life.

Later, a tradition was started by one of us where we were served an angel food cake with chocolate frosting, and that soon became the de-facto standard cake. I've had one of those almost every year since. The only downside to those is they have about a 3 day shelf life. Then they become too sponge-flattened to cut and are not good.

Then there was my 30th birthday. It was a "surprise party" that I thought I had figured out, then forgot about and it turned out I was completely caught off guard. My wife and mom went out to dinner and when we came home there was a house full of my friends and family. I was dumbstruck. It turned out to be probably one of the best birthdays I've had.

Just getting to chat with everybody and getting all my loved ones and friends in a room (without it being my funeral) was pretty cool. I remember my brother Rob pulling me into the wash room a time or two for a surprise birthday shot of Jack. Those might have had some bearing on my telling stories of how to snipe hunt at night with a burlap sack to my wife and mother in the wee hours of the morning, but I'm not sure. It was 23 years ago, after all.

And of course, I remember my 50th. I explicitly asked for no surprise and not a lot of pomp and circumstance. My wife organized a small gathering of close friends and family. We ate, had cake and laughed and talked. It was low key and wonderful. Chocolate angel food cake was served per the tradition and so it went. A great day,

This year I am celebrating in a different way. I was invited to speak to the Friends of the Pewaukee Library after their business meeting which happened to fall on Dec. 11th. I was flattered and could not turn down the opportunity. And so I'll spend the night talking to friends about my book.

What more could a 53 year old ask? I'm just happy to be here.

Blogging off...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Current Events

It has been a while so I thought I'd give a quick synopsis of all things writing related.

  • I will be presenting to the Friends of the Pewaukee Library on Thursday, December 11th (my birthday). I had such a good time at the New Berlin Library, that I am really looking forward to this. It will consist of some short readings, a slide show, followed by a book signing.
  • On December 17th I will be travelling to St. Cloud Minnesota where I'll be leading a book discussion about Dirty Shirt at the Stearns County Museum. This group, the Granite City Book Club has taken the time to buy my books and read it, which is flattering. Also, this is my father's hometown, so this trip will be pretty meaningful all the way around. 
  • Dirty Shirt was featured in the University of Minnesota's Alumni "Bookmarks" section on their website. Check it out here.
  • My book has been ordered by the Wisconsin Historical Society. This is pretty cool as it is already in the Minnesota Historical Society collection.
  • My  article in the Wisconsin State Journal's Sunday "Just Read It" column should be out in the next two weeks. This is the Madison paper and Madison is a market I haven't been able to bust into, so hopefully this will spur some sales or interest.
  • I continue to work on new poetry as well as editing my existing work. It's my goal to have it ready to submit by mid-January. 
  • I am also periodically working on the Portland book as time permits or as my focus drifts, as it does quite often.
  • I've submitted to a number of places recently, both poetry and some nonfiction stories. Sometimes these places take months to get back to me. Some never do. Cest la vie.
  • I've been to a few more book signings by fellow Authors recently, Nanci Rathbun and Sandy Goldsworthy are both gifted writers who had books published this year. It is wonderful to be surrounded by other successful colleagues but it is making my "to read" pile quite high.
  • I'm still enrolled in the AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop on Monday nights with about ten other students. I love working with this group. They encourage, support and keep me honest.
  • I have a story in an anthology about "Home" by Main Street Rag publishing that should be coming out in Q1 of next year, if not sooner.
  • At last count I was in over 30 libraries in Wisconsin and 20+ in Minnesota. I found I am also in several other out-of-state libraries on the WorldCat site, which shows me in 52 libraries. Yikes.
  • I am working to schedule another book group in Minnesota for the second weekend in January when I go up to drop my daughter off at school.
So it's all going great. I love what I'm doing and can't wait to see what the future brings. I am especially excited to get the poetry collection going. 

Stay tuned.

Blogging off...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Name Pending

The Thursday morning coffee group I meet with every week continues to be one of the highlights of my week, even though it is over in an hour or so. I'm still looking for a good name for this group. I've called it Thursday Theologians before, but we're all far from theologians. Most of us have a good understanding of the Bible, but with maybe the exception of one guy, I don't know if I'd classify any of us a theologian. Theological hacks, maybe. Maybe a name like, "guys seeking spiritual enlightenment through the use of caffeine, secular books and private study."

Nah, too long.

I kind of like Theological Hacks. It has a nice ring to it. 

That name is descriptive, yet evoking humility. After all, none of us are experts, but we're all seeking the deeper meaning of the Bible and how it applies in our broken, crazy contemporary world. We're hacking our way through it and it's a great adventure.

Anyhow, as I was saying, in the words of one of them, these guys a my tribe. We get together weekly for an hour to talk about a book we're working through, or at least that's what we intend - doesn't always happen that way. The morning typically starts out with where we're at in our week, sick kids, car troubles, work woes, etc. It is a dumping ground that way, but only for a few minutes. Because we only have an hour, there isn't much time to dwell on any one issue. And yet, it gives each of us a chance to air our grievances (and successes and joys as well) and at least get them off our chest. 

Because it's just an hour and we're all over the map with what we talk about it's kind of like a relational coffee-based tweet. Great substance, but limited to 3600 seconds. 

Like this morning we talked at decent length about car repairs, specifically the ease of replacing brakes on a car - something I've never done, but which I'm told is fairly simple. We talked about ball joints, wheel bearings and the difference between drum and disc brakes. Guy talk no doubt, but all fairly engaging. 

Cafe De Arts

But after a half hour of that, somehow we turn back to the book, in this case Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. We talked a bit about that and the conversation turned, as it does so often, to current events. In this case the topic turned to Ferguson and the NY Eric Garner choking case. We all agreed the country is in disarray and it is largely the result of no accountability. 

Ultimately we differed as to some of the causes and solutions, but we all agreed that violence begets violence and that until our culture deals with that we'll have another Ferguson or Newtown or Boston Marathon or fill-in-the blank next year.  The great thing is we know each other well enough that no one has to "win" the argument. (I hesitate to call it an argument, maybe discussion is better.) We agree to disagree in some cases. 

As I said, the topics vary from week to week. For a while we were stuck in gay marriage and how the church should address it. We talk about service we've done, interesting Christian "celebrities" we come in contact with and our jobs. We talk about what we do outside of our jobs for fun, Things like photography, music and writing. 

Where you at with the book?

Where's your next music gig?

How's your photography business going?"

We pay service to our family lives too. We talk about the craziness that holidays bring out of family events. We talk of travels to and from the faraway places we call "home". We discuss our marriages and all the ups and downs of parenting. 

The group is a bit of the antithesis of a men's group I was in years ago at church. That group's focus was supposed to be accountability, study and prayer. It got to be fairly legalistic, cloistered and eventually, politically charged to the point that I stopped going. I wanted no part of an us vs. them group. It's us. The world out there, is US, not them. All of us.

So this group gives me all three of those things in a much more accepting, comfortable environment. We support, challenge, and pray for each other, but much of our contact during the week is by proxy; email, facebook and twitter. On the flip side, any of us would help the other out if we needed it.  

Occasionally the group meets on Thursday night for a beer at a local place. The talk is just as stimulating but comes with an added edge of relaxation. Again, everything from auto repair to discussions the movie Noah to the militarization of our police force. 

Yep, Thursday mornings are all good, and I'm happy to be a part of them. 

Blogging off...