Showing posts from May, 2015

A Tennessee Waltz

One more Tennessee post before I return to my regular programming.

After we saw Graceland and Sun Studios, we drove the three hour ride to Nashville. It was where we spent the last five days of our vacation and I can only say I can't wait to go back.

We stayed at a "cottage" which is actually more like a carriage house behind the main residence. It was in a suburb of Nashville called Sylvan Park and it was quaint and accommodating. It really had just a bed a kitchenette, a bath/shower and a couch. It was really all we needed though, especially given that we weren't there much. These "Air B & B's" are really a nice change from a hotel. We had use of the outdoor patio with umbrella table and chairs as well, which made for a nice hideaway.

But most of our time was spent in downtown Nashville. Now, if you know me, you know I'm not a country music fan. I am a rock/indie/alternative fan primarily and if there's one kind of music I never really &qu…

The Full Circle of the King

As I continue to talk about my trip to the middle-south, I move from the Civil Rights Museum to Sun Studios. As you probably know, this was the place where history was made for the likes of Elvis, BB King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Howlin' Wolf and many, many others. The actual recording studio is very much in the state it was when they recorded, right down to the ceiling acoustic tiles with water stains.
The place is sacred ground to any music aficionado, me among them. While it was not much of a tour and not much to look at, I couldn't help but appreciate just being there. There is even a picture floating around of me mugging with the famous "Elvis microphone," but I'll save that for a later date.
It was actually a great segue into the next day when we toured Graceland. We are both brutally aware that Graceland is a big tourist trap, but much like Sun Studios, it's just a place you need to go. Sacred ground again for all music lovers. 

Civil Rights and Wrongs

We are back from vacation and, wow, what a trip! We did a cameo visit to St. Louis followed by a much more rigorous tour of Memphis and Nashville. This trip was to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and, in some respects, was the honeymoon we never had as newlyweds. When we were married in June of 1990, we spent a couple of days at a bed and breakfast in Ithaca, near Taughannock Falls. While it was nice, we were still in Donna's home state, and because we were young, in-love and trying to economize, we called it our honeymoon, while promising ourselves we would do something bigger one day.

I kind of alluded to our drive by of St. Louis the other day, so I won't expand on it much. We got a late start, so got there at the beginning of a Cardinals game which made travel nearly impossible. Got a couple of pictures, saw the arch, saw the stadium, done-finished, get me out of here. Will see it more on a separate trip someday.

Off to Memphis we went. Our first stop was the Civil R…

I forgot to mention...forgot to mention Memphis.

Another brief blog post because I'm still on vacation. I'll post a more complete rundown of my thoughts on St. Louis, Memphis, and Nashville when I get home.

Until then, here's five things that have impacted me during these past 4 days.

1. I've been told there are beautiful stretches of Missouri and Arkansas. These, I did not see. Saw a whole lot of this>>>

2. Visiting the Lorraine Motel was like stepping back in time. Seeing the balcony where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot brought back a flood of memories. As a 6 year old, I still remember it from the news.

3. The Civil Rights Museum in Memphis was an unpleasant reminder of some of our country's past injustices including slavery, Jim Crow laws and segregation.

4. They sure know how to do food in the south.

5. Met up with some Facebook friends for dinner a couple of nights ago. Nathan is the youngest of 9 children and his sister went to school with Donna. The two hooked up through Facebook and eventually h…

A St. Louis Drive By

A brief blog post because I'm on vacation.

Top 5 things that happened today, Day 1 of our St. Louis/Memphis/Nashville vacation.

1. We rented a Ford Focus and got stuck with a car with much more personality. A 2014 VW Beetle. Always wanted to drive one. Check it off the bucket list. And yes, I would buy one.

2. We tried to see the St. Louis arch. Actually passed it and doubled back cuz my wife is a good sport and knows my love for landmarks and squeezing it all in. Didn't get to go in it. Barely got a picture. Couldn't get left. Hey, there's Big Ben kids. Hey, there's the arch again. Let's go to the hotel."

3. Part of why we couldn't see the arch was there was a Cardinals game getting underway. "Little bit of traffic, Clark. Hey look, more traffic. Oops, one way street. Can't get left, honey. There's Busch Stadium again. Get a picture. Let's go to the hotel."

4. Got to the Drury Inn. Fine place. Free snacks till 9. Three free drink…

Looking Ahead Requires A Rear View Mirror

It's just a little over 5 weeks before I return to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area with my kids, my brother and nieces and nephews. There will be seven of us going this year and for most of us, it will be our first trip back to the area since the trip in 2012. The kids are much bigger and more mature now, so it will be a different trip yet again. I was talking to a new friend about his trip to the BW a few years back and he experienced things I haven't yet, including a large buck deer, a nocturnal beaver and a knee high swamp portage. I told him every trip is different, different challenges, different joys, different wildlife.

All of this talk about the coming trip makes me nostalgic for everything that went into the making of Dirty Shirt. So, I thought I'd build some momentum and post a few pictures from past trips along with the story behind them. A sort of Dirty Shirt Addendum.

This comes from the trip to Iron Lake in the mid-seventies. The picture is a clear demonstrati…

Mothers Inc.

Over the past couple of Mother's Days I've blogged about my Mom and all that she's done for me. She is the single most important reason behind the strong, successful, mostly well-adjusted family we have, (myself fully included there among the maladjusted). Over the years she has cheered us all on, been there for us, our kids, and our kids' kids. She's helped us grow and graduate. She's seen us through job losses and housing changes. She's traveled with us and cried with us. She's given us advice when we asked, and backed off when she felt she needed to. She's encouraged and equipped. Most of all though, she's taught all of us to never give up, never quit and that despite life's hardships, family makes it all worthwhile.

So while Mom has always been there for me, there's a few other mom's in my life that deserve a nod on this day as well.

First and foremost is the mother of my children, Donna. I always said that during our kids' f…

It's In Where You Look

There have been several things recently happening in the world today that, if I focus enough on them, I'll fall into complete despair and depression.

Riots in BaltimoreISIS threats, both real and contrivedThe shooting of innocents in MenashaMultiple gun-related homicides in MilwaukeeOil rail disastersClimate changeCorrupt politiciansAnd on and on...  
While all of this deserves attention and awareness, I choose to focus on good news, or good things happening in my life. If not for that I'd become a sociopath and start arming myself and digging an apocalypse shelter. 
So I focus on glimpses of redemption like the Guest House, where we serve meals to homeless guys once a month. Little points of light in an increasingly dark world. This agency and those like it are working to change lives. I don't do much, but feel like I'm part of a greater good.
Or places like the Literacy Center of Wisconsin. This agency tutors adults on reading, writing and other educational skills. It…

Sparks and Steel

While we were at our friends' house for a church breakfast event a while back we noticed that one of his metal stools was broken at one of its cross supports. The stools were old and used more as auxiliary seating, but when another friend saw it he said, "you know, I could help you fix that." It turns out the guy has a welder and is fairly accomplished with working it. When the mention of a "men's ministry welding event" was brought up, we all kind of agreed that it would be fun, educational and kind of cool.

Welding, like many trades, is a specialty skill that you just don't see a lot of people doing. Welders are expensive and I'm guessing, fairly pricy to maintain and operate. Any time you're using Argon gas, steel that is stored in a coil, and electricity that requires its own circuit, well, there's a reason not everyone has one in their garage.

Claude is the king of tools. He either has every one-use tool a person ever needs, or "kn…