Showing posts from July, 2019

Living Out The Ninth Life

So our house got just a little quieter yesterday. We were forced to put down our nearly fifteen year-old cat, Chester. Chet, as he was affectionately nicknamed by my father in-law, had been losing weight for the past six months and we all knew the end was coming. When he lost function of his back legs yesterday, we figured this was it. We've had other cats and knew that the typical lifespan is about 15 years. (He would have turned 15 tomorrow.) So none of this was a surprise.

That it wasn't a surprise doesn't make it any easier when the time comes.

We took him to the Vet and were present when he was peacefully laid down. It was sad and painful, yes, but being there when he died was a form of closure for us too.

That's not to say that the rest of yesterday wasn't hard, as I suspect the next few days will be. Death of anything close to me always hits like a gut punch. This was no different. Last night I was walking the dog and dragging my own corpse around the neighb…

Sorting Through The Quiet

This empty nest thing has left me lots of time and headspace to do some thinking about how I got to this point, where I've been and where we're going. When we had kids around you sort of crash through life putting out fires, meeting physical and later, emotional needs and falling into bed at the end of the day. With our daughter in another state and Ben 70 miles away, it's all over now, except for the worrying...a lifelong thing, of course.

Thankfully I had a significant change in my work situation in the past year, which occupied much of my time and thoughts. Even that has settled down now (a bit) and I have even begun to assess how I got to this place in my career. Don't get me wrong, I still love my job, it's just, like most people, you never know where your career path will take you. It's a winding road.

I think about the series of events that brought me to Wisconsin. I think about the twists and turns that brought my wife to me from NY. I think about frien…

Bee Wranglin'

This time rolls around every year, and every year it's the same story. As I lay there in backyard hammock, looking skyward in hopes of maybe an afternoon nap, I inevitable see the activity I dread most with an old house.


I lay watching them come and go with great flurry from either their current nest, or their nest in progress. Every year they seem to find a new nook or cranny to roost, and with an old house, nooks and crannies are the norm.

Two weeks ago I found a few paper wasp nests-in-the-makes in my garage eaves as I was scraping the trim readying for paint. I grabbed my ever-present can of wasp killer and set to work. It is a dance of aim, spray, adjust, duck and, sometimes run.

After I'd done away with the two small honey combs being started on the garage, I looked at the flat roof area outside our back door. There was a sizable nest there, on the order of a small cantaloupe.

Well, dangit all!

So I fetch the extension ladder climb up to the flat roof, and blast aw…

Black And White Moon

Tomorrow we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of landing on the moon. It's hard to believe it was that long ago because that would make me old. There are a number of celebrations around Milwaukee and Waukesha as well as the rest of the country, I imagine.

For example, my wife's employer, Purple Door Ice Cream is selling their "Purple Moon," ice cream at UWM on Saturday for a Lunar Party. More locally at Retzer Nature Center, they are having a festival called Apollopalooza. These parties are justified in revisiting the incredible feat of actually landing a spacecraft on the moon.

I remember the night the moon walk took place. I was only 7 years old at the time. We had a black and white TV set and I can remember watching the lander sit on the surface for an hour, with nothing much happening except a lot of bleeping and some commentary from the news crew. As the wait for the astronauts to get out of the Lunar Module went later and later into the night, I grew antsy. 


On Deck

I've been thinking a lot lately about what's next from a writing standpoint. I realize I have two forthcoming poetry books, Thoughts From A Line At The DMV, and Genetically Speaking and ,another major memoir in the works, but like any good writer, I'm always looking ahead.

Of course finishing memoir #3 is first on the agenda. The Cretin book is at 65,000 words or so, and just in need of some attention and commitment. I may have sent it to its room for misbehaving. I'll let it out when I've had a chance to step away for a bit. It's going to be quite good, but right now I'm thinking the book and I should see other people. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.

While I don't want to commit just yet, my ideas are threefold.

My first idea is to write another memoir about Milwaukee, my move to it and the life I've built once I got here. It would be in large part a book about moving away from Minnesota, finding out who Jim really is, establishi…

Coffee And Lightning

As usually happens at my Thursday coffee discussions with my buddies at a local coffee shop, the conversation took twists and turns that one couldn't have predicted if they tried.

In this particular case, the conversation started at a discussion of reparations for Native and African Americans, but ended with a discussion of hearing the voice of God.

It was a winding path, to say the least. I can't recreate the thread that got us on to that topic, but it was an interesting one indeed. Basically, one of the guys said that if the Bible is the only way some people say we hear from God, does that mean He's not talking to those people, or are they just not attributing a moment, an experience or an emotional reaction to perhaps being the voice of God. The whole discussion started on the topic of the Originalists with regards to the Constitution and went on from there.

But the best part about the conversation was how these two guys and I all told stories of our artistic pursuits, …

Genetically Speaking

While I don't have too many memories about my dad, I do have several of my stepfather, Jack. He and my mom dated for nearly 10 years before they married in 1979. While he was by no means a perfect father, (I mean, who is?) he was all I had growing up, with maybe the exception of a few father figures that played various roles in my upbringing.

Perhaps Jack's most redeeming quality was his sense of humor. He was nicknamed Happy Jack because of it. It carried over into his drinking where he was known as a happy drunk. (Believe me, I've seen both happy and mean drunks, and I'll take a happy one any day.)

But his sense of humor was what carried him through life. It made him more tolerable and someone whom people loved to be around. I credit much of my own lightheartedness to him. One of his famous phrases was "Not to worry," said with a hint of an Irish accent. I use that as my mantra most days of the week.

I bring Jack up because this past week, I had a poetry ma…