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Showing posts from January, 2020

Stout Faith

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My wife and I have a small group of friends that take part in a bi-weekly book study. This group is unique in a couple of ways. For starters we are focusing on books of a spiritual nature. The book we are currently working through is Universal Christ, by Richard Rohr. Father Rohr comes from the Franciscan tradition of Christianity whose focus is mysticism. His concepts make a lot of sense at this point in my faith life. He kind of blows up the simplicities within the, say-the-prayer-and-be-saved-and-that's-all mentality.

The other part that makes the book study unique is we meet in a bar or brewpub. We were meeting at Raised Grain, a local microbrewery, but have moved to a smaller, quieter venue. Raised Grain is cavernous and hosts a lot of corporate events that get a tad loud. The House of Guiness is a much tamer venue, lending better to conversation.

But anyway, the book study is always relaxed and fun. Rohr's concepts are thought-provoking and paradigm shaking enough to spu…

January From The Bright Side

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Well, we are in the heart of the winter season and so far, so good. I always get a serious case of dread in October and November knowing what is in front of us, namely darkness, snow and cold.

So, this winter I was determined to make things better, determined not to hate every day of it. And maybe it's because it's been a fairly tame winter thus far, but I also think a lot of it can be credited to attitude and some other adjustments I've made.

Probably the biggest problem I had with it in the past was the early darkness. I'm an outdoors person so being cooped up indoors after work every night cramps my routine. What I've done to remedy some of this is come to the realization that there is a season for high activity and a season for rest. I've come to look at winter as my season to dial my outdoor sports back a bit.

The problem with this is it typically means I gain 8-9 pounds every winter which makes me feel like a fat boy. To remedy this, I try and walk to wor…

The Demise Of The Corner Grocery

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Since today marks 2 years since the release of my book, The Portland House, I thought I'd take a walk back to the old neighborhood.
I saw a post recently on the Old Saint Paul Facebook site that triggered some great memories. It was on the subject of Corner Grocery stores. This post will likely date me because these places are a thing of the past. The Woodmans and Walmarts and Krogers of the world made sure of that. 
We had one near us when we lived on Portland Avenue in St. Paul. I'm not sure, but I think it was even called Corner Grocery. It was on the corner of Grand Avenue and Dunlap, about 3 blocks from our doorstep. 
As kids we spent many summer days walking to Corner Grocery with our allowances or other change we'd begged from Mom by leaving her a note to read before she left for work everyday. We bled her dry one quarter at a time in the summer - nickle and diming she used to call it - all in the name of a sugar fix. Sometimes it required a chore like weeding the …

The Battle Of The Bays

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Between the two teams I cheer for, Minnesota and Green Bay, today will mark the 17th NFC Championship game that I've watched actually means something to me. The Packers will meet the Forty Niners to determine who goes to the Super Bowl as the NFC representative.

Seventeen. That's a lot of games.

Of those games though, I've only been on the winning side six times, three each for the Packers and Vikings. That means my disappointments outnumber my euphoric moments by a margin of almost 2:1.

There have been some heart breakers for sure, almost too many to list.

For the Vikings there were:

The Cowboys Hail Mary passThe Gary Anderson missed field goal in the Randall Cunningham yearsThe 41-0 stomping at the hands of the NY Giants during the Randy Moss yearsThe infamous Brett Favre interception versus New OrleansThe recent beating at the hands of the  Eagles And as a Packer fan, I've had my heartbreaks too:
The pounding by Emmit Smith and the CowboysThe infamous Brett Favre vers…

A Booking Of Revelation

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I was the featured poet last night at Mama D's in Wales. I've been looking forward to this evening for a long time, as it was a chance to showcase my two latest poetry books to a new audience.

When I scheduled it, I took the month of January for myself because I figured that if turnout was low because of the weather, I'd be the one to take the hit. I'd rather the other poets I schedule get a decent crowd than myself.

Well, as expected, the event was lightly attended. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated very much those that did come out, but to be truthful, as I started, it stung a little to see so few people.

But by the time I left, I had a different take on the evening. Like so many of these events, the best part of the evening came in the connections I made. For example, a middle school teacher I'd worked with on a student writing camp last year. Her name is Nancy and she came because she'd seen my posts on Instagram and had always wanted to come to a readi…

Showing It, Not Acting It

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Evidently, I'm not 23 anymore.

I sometimes forget that I am closer to sixty than to college. Sometimes this reminder comes on stronger than others. I'm not ready to admit my limitations yet, but the other night was a good example of the difference between my cerebral age and my actual physical abilities.

As part of our church's holiday party, we were allowed access to a gymnasium on the old Concordia College campus in Milwaukee. I'm told that the Milwaukee Bucks used to practice in this particular gym back in the early 70's when they won their championship. That statement piqued my interest knowing that I might be playing in the shadow of Kareem Abdul Jabbar - a long shadow indeed.


Anyway, I've determined that something in my brain snaps when I get in a gymnasium. I don't quite drool, but I feel an instant rush and a need to prove my basketball prowess. I was NEVER a good basketball player, but that didn't stop me from trying. People always assume with m…

Raising The Literary Art Bar

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Last night I attended a book launch for a poet friend of mine. Kathrine Yets' chapbook is titled, So I Can Write, and it is her first published book of poetry.

The event was held at Art Bar in Riverwest. I'd never been there, but I love the whole Riverwest scene, so was glad to be able to attend. Having lived on the East Side of Milwaukee many years ago, I miss the nightlife and eclectic crowds that were part of living in that area. The suburbs are so blase' in comparison.

The Art Bar features a lot of art within it, obviously, and was hoppin' busy when I got there at 6:15 or so. It was a diverse, youngish crowd with a great vibe. I'd say these are my people, but I'm probably a bit too old and suburban to get away with it. It's fun trying though. Despite my age difference I felt comfortable enough - I think the Riverwest crowd is cool with you no matter what your makeup is, old, white, bald dudes included. It sure seemed that way to me.

Anyway, I wanted to …

Comings and Goings

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I have some public appearances and readings lined up that I am pretty excited about. And frankly, 10 years ago, I never would have thought that would be something I would be saying. I once was a shy boy - still am actually - but duty calls and part of being an author/poet requires reading/signings, so I try and honor that. Every time I do it I get a little more comfortable, so it's not as terrifying as it once was.

The first will be on January 15th at Mama D's in Wales where I'll be the featured poet. As you may know, I organize that event every month and after a few years since I did it last, my turn has come up again. I scheduled it after the release of my two new poetry books, Thoughts from a Line at the DMV and Genetically Speaking: Poems on Fatherhood

Mama D's is a quaint setting and a cool coffee shop in Wales. Attendance has been really good at the past few readings, but this being January in Wisconsin, I'm not sure what to expect. The event features an op…

A Return To Routine

I returned to work today after a 9-day vacation for the holidays. I always look forward to those "break" weeks every year, but every year, by the end of them I'm pretty much ready to go back to work.

It's not that I don't like being home, nor is it that I wouldn't like retirement. It's more a matter of having a more complete plan for the break than "writing as much as I can". That goes great for the first seven days, but after that, I get sort of lost.

This past break I binge-watched the Netflix series The Crown. Well, when I say binge-watched I mean a couple of episodes a day for a few days. Watching TV is something I rarely do except when I have nothing else better to do. This week seemed to be a good chance to knock some of them out.  The thing is, I don't like myself when I do something this passive. It's not who I am. At the same time, I had to admit that it was a nice break from the things/goals I had set for writing and house proj…