Showing posts from February, 2018

Uninterrupted Java

One of my favorite times of the week is Saturday morning. My wife and I have developed a routine of going to a local coffee shop, The Steaming Cup, for coffee. I don't know how it started, it just sort of happened one Saturday a couple of years ago and we thought it seemed like a good thing, so we just kept up with it. We are there with the rest of the regulars almost every week. It's like the TV show Cheers, but with coffee. I think it started as a kind of "lets go for coffee and talk house projects," way back when and became a ritual. Now it has become a chance for us to catch up with what went on over the week as well as what is in front of us for the coming week. The best part of it is we have each other's undivided attention for an hour and a half. No distractions, no dog, no kids, just us. The things we talk about cover the gamut. We talk about our kids; when they were little and the cool kids they've become. There are times when talking about them t

The Intersection Of Literature And Theater

So I went to a poetry reading last night. (These are the quotes you don't often hear me sharing in the boat with my fishing buddies but, hey, it's who I am.) This one was held at Mama D's Coffee shop in Genesee Depot, about 15 minutes from my house. The event recognizes a featured poet, in this case Stephen Anderson  an accomplished, prize-winning poet from the Milwaukee area. The way the event runs is the featured poet reads for about 30 minutes and then the microphone is open to anyone else who wants to share their work. The event is run by Mama D's, with oversight by Paula Anderson, poet laureate for the Village of Wales. Now, I know poetry is not for everyone. I get that. But I also know there is a lot to be gained from live performance art - which is what this is in every sense of the word. It is the intersection of literature and theater. (And, this goes for book reading/signing events as well.) The poet/author is not only putting their written work out ther

Feared More Than Death

Yesterday I celebrated the launch of my latest book, The Portland House . It was a long awaited celebration after the online release of the book on January 23rd. (The publisher wanted lag time to insure that the books made it to me before the launch.) Now, I've done a ton of these presentations with Dirty Shirt over the past 3.5 years, but I still go into them a bit of a nervous wreck. I've never liked giving speeches or presentations, but as I've been forced into doing them for Dirty Shirt , I've become much better at it. I didn't say more comfortable, but better. Plus, I'd done the Dirty Shirt spiel a dozen times or more, so could almost recite it in my sleep. But this was a new book and new stories, so I wasn't sure how I'd do. Before the signing I was tired and nervous. I tried to take a brief nap but it was mostly futile. I did a little yoga (now, there's a picture) and it seemed to help take some of the tension out of my body - always g

Amongst The Shell Casings

With all the pain and hurt of yesterday's high school Valentine's Day massacre, I thought that rather than feed into the rage and sadness that plenty of others are taking care of, I'd share some beauty. Because, there's nothing beautiful about assault rifles. Mental illness aside, I've never seen an unarmed mentally ill person kill 17 people in a matter of minutes. Maybe I'm missing something, though. So beauty it is. Beauty is the 18 month old girl that sits behind us with her mother every Saturday at coffee. She smile melts my heart. Whenever I see such innocence, it restores my faith in humanity - at least momentarily.  Beauty is serving dinner alongside a few others to 40 adults and children in poverty at a local church. The program is called Coming Together to Get Ahead or CTGA. It is designed to give people opportunities to get training, education, counseling and a hot meal. Beauty is my wife asking if people could step up and help cover

Writing Roundup

A rundown on all things writing related. Portland House Giveaway As part of my Portland House book release, I am running a giveaway contest. I ask people to take a photo of them with the book in a unique place, or even just around the house somewhere. Then, on March 17th, I plan to draw two winners from the entries and send them a signed copy of the book. I ran the contest with Dirty Shirt and had a lot of fun with it. I look at it as a unique way to engage people with the celebration of launching a book as well as getting a chance at a free book. In this day and age, people are all about selfies and pictures from their phones, so it seems like a good match. To date, I've had 11 entries and suspect I will get a bunch more after the formal launch parties/book signings I'm having in the coming weeks. (Feb. 17th in Waukesha and March 10th in St. Paul, MN.) Some of the entries have been from sunny beaches, including Florida and California. Others were taken with pet ca

Winter's Lemon

It seems full-on winter has finally arrived. We had a lot of that cold with no snow crap for the first two months, but last weekend we finally got enough of a snowfall to enable a little skiing. I have been cross country skiing since I was 18 years old. In Minnesota is almost a mandatory skill - or should be, in my opinion. So this past Sunday, before the Super Bowl, I took a little jaunt on my new skis that I got last year. It was a cold affair, but a beautiful windless day, so I had a blast. I am a fool for speed, so I even blazed the trail on the big sledding hill. I've long purported that I have a zeal for speed that regularly exceeds my ability to control the whole hurtling humanity element. Well, after such a successful day on the slopes, I was determined to do a little night skiing tonight. I'd done some night skiing probably 15 years ago and enjoyed the quiet and darkness so much I thought I'd recreate it. A few days ago when I mentioned that I was thinking

Not So Super Bowly

Super Bowl Sunday is a local day of mourning around this house. With a combined 9 Super Bowl losses between the Vikings, (4) the Bills (4) and the Packers (1) this day has ended badly more than well. 8 of the losses were redeemed in 1997 when the Packers crushed the New England Patriots in SB 31. It was a great day, Brett Favre on his game, Desmond Howard showing up for special teams like he had all year, and even the outcast Andre Bad Moon Rison catching his big TD. We both finally felt what it was like to win it all. And it was very good. T hat glory was short lived when they lost next year by going into Denver over confident and were outplayed by veteran Elway, loser of 3 Super Bowls himself, determined to get his own redemption. I always liked Elway and couldn't help but feel a little happy for him despite the sting of the loss. Then in Super Bowl 40 when the Packers went from squeaking their way into the playoffs to Super Bowl Cinderellas, We again got to experie


My wife and I are what might be called seasonal empty nesters. We have two kids in college (can you say money drain?) and so for 9 months of the year we are us. Her and I. Me and her. And our two cats and our dog. But for the most part, our nest is empty. We've gotten quite used to it already. Nothing against our kids of course, we love them to death. But sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder. I've noticed a few things that I am kind of getting used to. Things like: I own a car that I'd forgotten I owned. It's a 2004 Hyundai and it's kind of nice being able to take it when I want it and not have to schedule it a week out or sign a rental agreement to drive it.  Along those lines, when I get in this same car, my seat is exactly where I left it. And there are no water bottles left in the cup holders. It's weird, but I like it this way. My phone charger has not been stolen, borrowed or forgotten at a friend's house.  I am sleeping bet