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Showing posts from October, 2017

Manic Fall Cleanup Mode

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I want to know if anyone else is like this.

You let some things go in your house, usually clutter, or dirt, or a junk drawer or something, and you just let it go. You work around it, you deny it is there, you hate on it and you neglect it. And over time, it becomes one of those things that grates on you every time you encounter it.

Well, I can be really good at that. In fact, I'd even say ignoring unlikeable projects in hopes that they go away is my super power.

To a point.

This latest breaking point started with steam cleaning the carpets in a couple of bedrooms yesterday. Donna was out of town, so it was a good chance to get it done before the holidays. So off to Home Despot I went, rented a cleaner, and in a little over two hours my carpets were clean and I'd returned the cleaner.

The (good) problem this project created was jump starting me on ten other sub projects that carried into today.

So what originally was going to be storing some backyard items for winter became muc…

Alone In The Woods

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I continue to be amazed at how rich my life is because of the people around me. I understand the importance of being plugged into people who are seeking to become better human beings.

A couple of different groups I hang with are studying Brene' Brown's book, Braving The Wilderness. Brene is a research professor who specializes in studying the human condition in the form of empathy, shame and vulnerability.

The guys at my Thursday coffee group are discussing it, one chapter at a time. Another of the groups is called "Jesus and Wine" and it meets monthly to discuss books on faith, spirituality and the human condition. As is the case with this book, it doesn't have to be a Christian-centric book, but because often times faith in a higher power and the health of our culture/humanity are interconnected, these books fit inside a faith based study - in my opinion, anyways.

This Jesus and Wine group met this past Tuesday and the discussion was fantastic. I was convinced …

A Temporary Domicile

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"Life After Portland" post #2

In my last post, I wrote about the roommate that done me wrong by defaulting on our lease and forcing me to move and surrender my security deposit. He was headed to California and I was headed to the want ads.

Luckily, through a connection at work, a woman's husband set me up with a guy who had a small two bedroom house less than a mile from where I was living. "He's a little strange, quiet and super frugal, but he's a super nice guy." He sounded okay to me. In the dire straits I was in, I could handle quiet and frugal.

So I moved in. I can't remember the address of the place. It was on 54th or 53rd Avenue in Crystal. The house was cozy and Tony (alias) worked a lot of overtime, so wasn't around much. When he was around, he was so quiet that I felt like I had to fill both sides of a conversation in. If you know me, I'm not one much for small talk, so this was kind of exhausting.

During a conversation he'd no…

Life After Portland

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My book The Portland House: A 70's Memoir is just a tad more than three months from being released. While that house was instrumental in forming our family, I have lived in about eight other places since then and I thought it would be fun to recount some of these places -as they were as unique from each other and, collectively were as much a part of my life as Portland.

The first place was my first "real" apartment at 7610 Bass Lake Road in Crystal, Minnesota. After I got my first job out of college at a mapping firm in Crystal, a guy I worked with talked me into moving in with him in 1985. I forget what rent was, maybe $375/mo. for each of us. I didn't know Dan too well, but he seemed decent enough, so I took the plunge and moved out of Portland to be closer to work.

Well, the place interviewed much better than it performed. (Like a bad pet.) The worst part was during the winter months. We had one thermostat for the whole 2 BR place, so if I shut my bedroom door at …

A Word On Words

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I was hoping to post about the big musky I caught this weekend but unfortunately it actually never happened so, that's that I guess. Instead I'll give a quick update on all things writing related.


I've entered the "quiet period" that my publisher talked about between the initial acceptance and the galley review and final edits. The release date for The Portland House: A 70's Memoir is January 23rd, 2018 so I probably won't hear much for the next 6 or 8 weeks. I am okay with that as it gives me the chance to plan my promotion and marketing a bit. I did get a couple of nice reviews from the Review Corner blog. I heard about this reviewer on the Paperbacks Plus Facebook page. She confessed she doesn't really read memoir, but was willing to review my poetry. I'll let you read the two reviews Here and Here, but suffice it to say her reviews were encouraging to me as a poet/author. Anytime someone says something like "I don't really read poetry,…

Off the Grid - In Pursuit

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If you are reading this on Thursday, I am on my way off the grid. It is that time of year again. Muskiefest!

This is the one weekend a year completely dedicated to searching for Esox masquinongy - the largest of the pike species. I wouldn't say it's a weekend I can barely wait for every year, but it really is. If you know me, you know that this is my latest obsession.

This will be my eighth consecutive year going up to the Manitowish Waters area with a couple of buddies, one of whom owns a place up that way and graciously lets us crash for the weekend. I was fortunate enough to catch a muskie up there five consecutive years in a row. These past two years I've been skunked, so am super revved to get one this year. They are the fish of 10,000 casts, so they are hard to come by, but if you don't try, you'll never get one, right?

The occasion falls on the weekend of a couple of significant birthdays as well. My nephew and godson Nick's birthday is Friday the 13th. …

Back To School.

In a little less than a month one of my favorite festival comes back to Waukesha. The Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books is a two day gathering of authors, speakers and readers that celebrates books and all they add to our lives. 
In years past I have been a participant on a couple of different author panels centered around a theme. I've really enjoyed these opportunities. Typically we're introduced and then given a series of questions by a moderator. After these panels, we're moved out to the signing area where people can purchase our books. They try and schedule authors who have been published during the year, so this year I did not really qualify. With the release of The Portland House in January of 2018, I hope to be back as a participant again next year.
This year, they are starting a new event where authors go into area schools and talk to students about the writing process, publication, inspirations we might have and answer questions. I will be going with another…

Words For A Change

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Last Saturday I had the chance to participate in an event titled 100 Thousand Poets for Change. It was held at Books and Company in Oconomowoc, a store that has among its offering my book, Dirty Shirt. I was asked to be part of it by a poet friend, Cristina Norcross, founding editor of the online poetry journal, Blue Heron Review. I have long been a fan of her work, and in the past year have seen her at a handful of events.

Anyway, the event was not just local. It was billed as an international event with locations in a bunch of different countries. Knowing that it was happening on the same day across the world was pretty cool. A local musician Jacqueline Nicholson warmed up the event and as a side benefit, donations were accepted and put toward money to buy children's books for the Oconomowoc Public Library. Because...kids and books! It was a win-win.

The theme for the event was poetry centered around world peace, social justice, environmentalism and healing. People were invited …

Time To Move On

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I don't normally post on Mondays, but after hearing of the death of Tom Petty, I felt compelled to speak to it as well as the much, much bigger tragedy in Las Vegas last night.

As you know, this summer marked my Chase the Aging Rockers pursuit. I saw some of the old greats including Roger Waters, The Church, Tommy Tutone, The Suburbs and most recently Stevie Nicks. Time is of the essence with the bands of my earlier generation and we were picking them off one at a time. One of the ones my wife and I hedged on was Tom Petty. This is a perfect example of why sometimes, you just gotta spend the money.

More recently, I blogged about his Zombie Zoo earworm.

I guess I've been a Petty fan since the Damn the Torpedos album. Some of his biggest hits (Refugee, Even the Losers, etc.) weren't favorites of mine - not bad songs, mind you - but I still respected the tune and the songwriting.

As he became more and more mainstream, I kind of lost interest.

When Wildflowers came out I think…

The Best Medicine In Turbulent Times

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I am not a golfer.

I usually golf once or twice a year and my game reflects this commitment. It is a little like bowling. I refuse to take either sport too seriously because I just don't do either of them enough. Both are games of high mechanics and have little room for error. And both provide moments that make me feel like I actually know what I'm doing, usually followed by a moment shortly thereafter that reminds me that I really don't have a clue.

Yesterday was my first and likely my last golf outing of 2017. My friend Steve hosts a charity raising event named the GKO for the Greater Krey Opening. As part of it they try and raise funds for cancer research through a scramble golf tournament, raffle and dinner. I've been going to the golf portion for the past three years and the dinner/raffle portion for a few years longer than that.

It's hard to describe how much fun this day is for me. There's something about getting together with a best friend and a few rea…