Showing posts from August, 2018

Inspiration I Never Asked For

So, seven years ago today I lost a brother after a long battle with cancer. He left behind a wife and two beautiful daughters as well as friends and a family that loved him. His legacy for me was to live life with a sense of urgency.

Our time is short.

Love hard.

Forgive often.

Don't waste your days.

Things don't matter, people do.

His death also inspired much reflection and, as a result, some poetry. Here are a few that I've written about him and his life.

The Closer Side of Heaven*You’re on the closer side of heaven a lower stratosphere place for the young ones the strong ones who can still climb.

I wonder what it’s like on that closer side of heaven near to God but still near to us left down here to wait it out.

Is it beautiful and stunning this closer side of heaven? Better than any earthly day on the farther side of our earth?
I await your reply.

St. Mary Of Portland Avenue

In my second book, The Portland House: a '70's memoir, I delve into a bit of history about our family ties to my step family, the McKasys. My mom, Mary Lou, dated Jack McKasy for nearly ten years before they finally married in 1979. Jack had divorced his first wife, Mary Ann, a few years earlier leaving her to raise eight, (count 'em, eight!) children on her own.

Now, coming from a kid from a family of six kids who was raised by a single parent for many years, I recognize that what Mary Ann did as a single parent was nothing less than a feat. To take what my mother had done and add two kids to it leaves me with nothing but admiration for Mary Ann.

What I don't know is what the day-to-day was like for her. I've kept in touch with many of my step siblings over the years, mostly via Facebook and in particular, my stepsister, Maggie. In our exchanges she has told me some shocking stories about the struggles they had as a family. Because we were mired in our own struggl…

Words About Words

It has been a while, so here goes an update on all things writing related.

I will be appearing with fellow AllWriters' author, Julie Beekman and Constance Malloy at Books and Company in Oconomowoc on September 12th at 7:00. This will be a panel event featuring a book overview, interviews, Q & A and a signing to follow. Julie is coming all the way from Colorado and her book, Two Trees, is worth checking out! Click here for more details.I have been soliciting signed poetry books as part of my outreach as Poet Laureate for the Village of Wales for a few months now. I am getting books in at a good pace lately and am approaching forty books from nearly twenty different authors. My goal is to raise 50 books and donate them to Kettle Moraine High School's library. It will get local poets into the hands of young people and that's a win-win.I am about 60,000 words into my Work In Progress (WIP), a memoir about my high school experience at an all-male, Christian, military academy…

Setting The Hook

Every summer, I take a friend's three kids fishing to a nearby park. I offered again this year with the kids being 9, 7 and 5.

One thing I love to do is help people catch fish, especially kids. I love seeing their reactions and excitement as they reel in bluegills. I always hope that it plants the seed for a lifelong love of fishing, but am happy if they simply come away having had a good time.

Years ago, when our kids were small, my brothers and I would help our young kids on the dock at the cabin. It was both the best and most stressful hour at the cabin. Between the crossed lines, the need for hook baiting, the near miss lip-hooks due to inattentive casting and the fish releases, there is always a need to be met. All of this assumes there are no personality clashes among the cousins during the fracas.

Well, yesterday was all of that. But as I said, part of me thrives on it. The other part needs a nap.

It started with me opening the night crawlers I'd bought from Walmart and…

Born To Run

It has become a tradition of sorts that my son and I attend the Waukesha Classic Car Show every August in Frame Park. I got him hooked on old cars a few years back and now we look forward to it every year. We made it again this year and it didn't disappoint.

Cars are the universal American conversation piece. (Most) everyone had a first car, and most everyone had a car that was sketchy, one bad muffler away from the junk yard. I wrote about cars a fair amount in my memoirs, only because in the '70s and '80's they didn't make them to last like they do now.

Furthermore, back then cars were made so the common person could work on them. Nowadays when I pop the hood I stand there looking at a hulking black engine block cover that stares back daring me to touch it. I am able to check the oil and other major fluids, but when it comes to say, changing an alternator, well, I have two tools; a phone and a checkbook.

In my book in progress, I lament and describe my first car,…

The Third Happiest Day Of My Life

Well, my son turns 20 today, which I think officially makes me old. I tell people that there are days where I barely feel twenty, but they are usually followed by days where I feel 65. So, I guess that's a trade off.

Having just met my nephew's first son, Roy James a day after his birth, I was reminded of my own son's birth. A hot, hot day in August of  '98 we went to the hospital early in the morning. His birth was fairly routine - no complications to speak of with one small exception. When he was delivered, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. As a result, he was whisked away to neo-natal ICU immediately after I cut the cord.

This made for some very anxious moments. I remember talking to my mom on the phone right before it happened and when they said they were taking him to ICU, I sort of freaked out. It was a precautionary measure for sure, but one that made me very uneasy. The thought of losing a child was frightening and unsettling.

It turned out okay a…

The Changing Face Of Home

I am just back from a weekend in the Twin Cities where my wife and I helped move my daughter into her new apartment. As always there was just a whole lot, I would even go so far as to call it a crap-ton, of driving involved. For starters we took the "scenic route via LaCrosse. Every few years or so, we do this to shake the trip up a bit. It adds an hour to the total trip, but the scenic bluffs and vistas help make it enjoyable.

But it wasn't the driving that stood out to me this trip.

It has been over thirty years since I moved to Wisconsin from St. Paul. Now, when I drive around the Twin Cities I cannot help but be amazed by the diversity of the population. It is wildly different than when I was a kid. My daughter lives in a cool part of Minneapolis about a mile from the Viking's stadium, and it is a community immersed in diverse.

The Twin Cities have always been a haven for refugees and immigrants, first with the Hmong population when I lived there and lately with a lar…

That First Place

We are heading north soon to visit our daughter and her boyfriend in Minneapolis. They are moving into a new apartment near the Vikings stadium and we will be helping them move some of the larger items with our van. I miss her dearly, so it should be a chance to reconnect and see her new digs.

She sent a few pictures of her place and it looks spectacular. It made me think of my first apartment and that incredible feeling of pride and excitement with having my own place - even if I was sharing it with a roommate.

That first apartment is a feeling of "having arrived." School is finished, you have a decent job - or at least decent enough to afford a place to live - and your obligations are few. I can remember that first Christmas in my first dumpy apartment. My roommate was gone and I had the place to myself. I shut off the lights and just sat there in the dark with the single string of twinkling lights thinking, "It ain't much, but man, it's all mine." After …