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Showing posts from December, 2017

Long Live Rock

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As part of our Christmas vacation trip back and forth to upstate New York, we built in a two and a half hour visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. I've been wanting to get to this place for a number of years, so when my wife mentioned it as a possibility a few months back, I thought it was a great idea.

And, frankly, it was a side trip that almost didn't happen. After all the battles with snowy road conditions and the busy-ness of the holidays, we were all feeling the pull of home strongly by the time the end of our stay rolled around. At the last minute, we decided to stick with our original plan and go see the museum.

I am so glad we did.

For those of you considering it, I would say that you should allow at least 2.5 - 3 hours to see it all, more if possible. There is so much to see, especially if you are a rock aficionado.

We started at the top floor where there was an exhibit recognizing the 50 years of Rolling Stone magazine. While I realize that thi…

A Walton-esque Christmas - 1991

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It is December 23rd, 1991 and my bride and I screaming across the Ohio Turnpike in our '87 Honda Accord, a ride of relative luxury given our Escort/Chevette roots. We are headed to Gorham a tiny burg in Upstate New York. It is a town of the size one would see on Walton's Mountain, with a historic downtown including a diner, a gas station and Gorham Grocery, an essentials-only small grocer.

As the newest member of this family, I am unsure what to expect this Christmas. The family has a tradition of doing a "Round Robin Dinner" on Christmas Eve. It involves having cocktails and appetizers at an aunt's house, dinner and a few piano accompanied carols at my mother and father in-laws, and desert and a one-gift exchange at my wife's grandma's place.

Being a guy who was steeped in tradition who usually celebrated Christmas Eve at one location (mom's place) every year, this arrangement actually sounded intriguing.

Pennsylvania Welcomes You! the sign reads as t…

Christmas Randomized

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I'm sure you all have good and probably some bad memories from Christmas. It is really one of my favorite times of the year. Because we're approaching the big day, I've assembled a series of my own memories.
Completely Random Christmas Memories Going to pick out a Christmas tree with mom at the YMCA Y's Men (Get it?) lot on University Avenue a few years. Because we always had a sedan, it meant tying it on top of the ol' Chevy Impala or, worse, the Plymouth Volare'. Shopping for my siblings gifts at Kmart trying to get the biggest bang for my buck. Mostly what I got was cheap junk. But at least the good side of my heart was in it before I discovered it was junk. LOL. My sister Pat letting me come down and arrange the gifts under the tree because I couldn't sleep on December 23rd, the night before we typically opened gifts. (We were always a family that opened all our gifts on Christmas Eve. In fact, we still do, to some extent.)The first Christmas my brother R…

Dark Thirty

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We are four days from the winter solstice, a time where the days turn the corner from being the shortest back on their march toward June when they are their longest. It is a time of darkness and sleep and rest and recharging. I never really looked forward to the December 21st deadline until a few years ago. The date is insignificant - just another day in December - but as someone who isn't a huge fan of winter, December 21st has taken on a new meaning, given me a new hope.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I fall into depression in winter, but it is a more difficult time for me. Knowing that I have these feelings, I'm trying to be more cognizant of what is going on internally and make adjustments to try and stay ahead of the curve-of-whatever-it-is-I'm-feeling.

My goal is to try and appreciate the nuances of winter for what they are. If that means going to bed to read at 9:00 PM only to fall asleep by 9:45, well so be it. If it means keeping Christmas lights up well into …

Cover Me

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When you are writing a book, you have several landmark days.


There is the day you decide to write it. As authors we sometimes joke about how this day must have been one of a momentary lapse of reason. Anyone crazy enough to undertake the hours, days, weeks and years that it takes to write a book can't be quite right in the head.
There is the day you finish writing it. "Eureka! I wrote a fricken book!" Oh, wait, you mean I have to edit it like five times? (See previous bullet point)
There is the day you finish your first edit of it. "Eureka! My first edit is done. Maybe this is good enough" I got news for you. It's not.
There is the day you submit it to 1 (or 20) publishers. This is followed by months of waiting, soul searching, praying, mojo working, self loathing, inside crying, anxiety, sacrificing goats, checking to see if your email is still working and questioning bullet point #1.
There is the day you get your first rejection. This is followed by ten, eleve…

Sisters By Another Mother

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This past weekend we had the opportunity to host our Sister in-law Jill at our house for two nights. She travelled here from upstate New York to spend time with her sister and brother an to attend my wife's 50th birthday party. She has a busy schedule as a teacher and swim/dive coach for her local high school. 
What I came away with after spending two days with her in my house is how much I appreciate my sisters-in-law. I have four of them, Jill, Jane, Patty and Deb, and they are all unique in their own ways. We've had the privilege of staying for long weekends at a couple of their houses over holidays in Minnesota and at Jill and John's in New York. They treat us like royalty and, by staying in their homes all those years when the kids were young, our kids have grown up together and have come to love their cousins.
When we woke up yesterday morning, we had a casual breakfast and then the three of us, Jill, Donna and I, sat around and talked for nearly three and a half hou…

A Nifty Fifty

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Today my bride turns fifty. It is a milestone in everyone's life, one I will have passed exactly six years ago this coming Monday. Our six year age difference has never been an issue and in fact, she keeps me young. We have been together 27 and a half years, and have known each other for another three years on top of that. It has been quite a ride filled with lots of great memories. Here's just a few:


When we were still dating we took a road trip to Niagara Falls and from there onto Toronto. I was already smitten with her, but this trip with all its car time and adventure sealed the deal. We were in love and the fact that we lived 750 miles apart only made it clearer that we needed to be together for good.
Once we had a severe ice storm in Milwaukee. Donna tried to open the drivers side window and it shattered into a million pieces. She turned and looked at me with a look of panic. I'll never forget the look of shock on her face. It was our first disaster together. A real Ko…

Tree For Two

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Well, the Christmas crush has descended. It was not even a factor until December 1st hit. Then, the realization came that it is just a few short weeks away - not to mention a couple of birthdays thrown in for good measure. And so we kick it to red line and start marching to the drumbeat of the holiday of all holidays.

In our family, I have always been in charge of getting a Christmas tree. I'd like to say we have a longstanding family tradition of loading up the car with kids and going out to cut our own tree.

Well, it ain't so.

Before kids, Donna and I always went together and picked a tree. After kids came, she came along for a few years and then relegated me to taking one or both of the kids to pick one out. Well, even that tradition was short lived. Once the kids figured out there was nothing but cold and indecision involved with tree shopping, they stopped wanting to go. So, it became a solitary process with Donna giving me free reign to choose a tree using a jury of one.…