Showing posts from January, 2014

An Undead Story

In 2012, my brother Tom and I and a couple boatloads of cousins, including my kids went up to the Boundary Waters. We went up for a 3 night trip and stopped at Piragis Outfitter  to get canoes and a couple of packs. It turned out the outfitters has a bookstore hooked onto their business. While Tom and I negotiated the canoe rentals, our kids wandered through the bookstore. Ben found a book The Zombie Survival Guide on one of the racks and asked if he could buy it. I said sure, knowing that the whole "Zombie  thing" was big among kids his age - and society in general, for that matter. I figured it would be a good campfire filler or might make for some decent entertainment in case the kids got bored at some point. Furthermore, I have a hard time denying any kid a book. Reading is so important in my life that we want to encourage any reading we can. It turns out my suspicions were correct. Ben spent much of the first night reading factoids around the fire about how to surviv

Warm Thoughts This Winter Day

I swore I wouldn't do it this winter. It's too easy to do. Everyone's doing it. I wanted to be different. But I have to. I can't resist. I'm a broken man. I'm angry. And cold. And fed up. Here is my winter rant. Oh how do I hate thee Wisconsin Winter of 2014? Let me count the ways. I hate the fact that the 40 mph wind blowing my back screen door open last night made me get out from under sixty seven pounds of comforters to go and close it properly. I hate the fact that I was looking forward to the promise of temps in the 20's yesterday, only to have them squashed by hurricane winds and blinding sideways snow on my ride home last night. I hate, beyond reasonable, rational, healthy levels of emotion, those cursed inch-and-a-half snowfalls that have to be cleared every other day . What is with that anyways? It's like the clouds have prostate issues or something. If you're going to snow, snow already. These little snow sneezes are pi

Undercover Poet

One of my writing loves is poetry. As a writer it stretches me. It is a bit of a running joke with my brothers and my fishing buddies who chide me regularly about bongos, a beret and a soul patch. It takes a man comfortable in his masculinity to cross that line between metaphor and muskie fishing. I am that man. I once said during a poetry reading that I was reading at that it was my goal to be Wisconsin's tallest poet. It was an attempt to lather up the audience, and it got a good laugh. Of course a tad-more-pretentious poet sitting in the audience came up and told me I was too late that he knew of a poet that was taller. Well, shucks. Nothing to live for now. But as I said, I enjoy it. When my first poem was published by Verse Wisconsin about 4 years ago, it started to fuel my desire for publication. It was a short little poem, but seeing it in print was about the coolest thing going at the time. Now, the publisher that picked my book does publish poetry chapbooks (that&#

Summit Fever

Needless to say, it has been kind of a crazy week for me. A week ago yesterday was one of the best days in a long, long time, and it kind of threw this week on its head. After talking to the publisher on Friday, I received my publishing book contract last Sunday night and returned it on Wednesday. The rest of this week involved a lot of cloud-walking and inability to focus. I've got a million things I'm thinking about with regards to what a book release involves, and am trying to work out what precedes what. I've got a great set of friends, peers, and mentors around me to help, which is nice, but it's still overwhelming. Now, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir doesn't come out for another five months, but my immediate reaction is to get everything setup and ready in the first week. It goes without saying that this is not a healthy approach. It leads to sleep deprivation, as my mind refuses to shut off when I go to bed. On the couple of nights I was a

Dancing Defined

I spent last weekend in Hudson, Wisconsin with my family. We went to watch my niece and her fiance' get married. They have been engaged for over two years and have been planning the wedding ever since the engagement. It was a beautiful wedding, carefully attended to by many family members working in advance and "in the wings" during. My niece, bless her heart, threw her all into the preparations. By the time she got to the wedding she had every detail mapped out, and it paid off. She was able to relax the day of the wedding and enjoy the attention she and her husband deserved. It was really cool to be part of their day. My role up front was to put together a photo montage of the two of them. Then on the day before, I helped with the decorating and some other minor details. The whole family worked hard to make sure it was a special day for the couple, and it was. By the time the reception rolled around, everyone was ready to let down their hair. After dinner and the vi

In the writing world, much of our time is spent waiting. Waiting on inspiration, waiting on clarity, waiting on edits, waiting on submission responses. When I took my first adult education writing course called Writing from your life , I was thrilled to be writing and getting feedback. So, what did I do right after that? Waited almost two years to take my second class - the AllWriters' Wednesday Night Workshop . Sometimes waiting is put on us, other times we put it on ourselves. These past couple of months I was waiting to find out if my latest article submission on muskie fishing was accepted to MidWest Outdoors Magazine . They don't really reply if you are accepted or not, a check just shows up in your mailbox one day. When my article wasn't in the December issue, I assumed if I waited another month, it would be in January issue. Of course, it wasn't, so now I wait again to see if it will be placed in February or maybe even later in the year, where it fits the open

A Letter From The Vortex

Evidently there is a phenomenon known as a Polar Vortex. The official explanation of it has something to do with polar cyclones that are ongoing all the time at both of the poles. Every once in a while some of this polar air gets shifted and ends up migrating south. It is better explained in a picture from Wikipedia.  The goiter or turkey beard like thing you see in (c) would be the anomaly that is sitting in my backyard at the moment. It's a wicked goiter to be sure. A heartless, gripping, relentless turkey beard. And I don't like it. No one does. A friend of mine said, "Is it just me, or is maybe the Earth trying to get rid of us?" With temps in the negative teens and windchills in the negative fifties, one has to wonder. I know it's trying to get rid of my fingers and toes. As Greg Laden, a bioanthropologist said: “We are not seeing an expansion of cold, an ice age, or an anti-global warming phenomenon. We are seeing the usual cold polar air taking an excu

Why We Watch

It's playoff sunday. The Packers play the Forty Niners in the Wild Card game at 3:40. I will be watching. I love this time of year. I am a professional football fan, have been since I was a kid. I grew up watching the Vikings play on TV or listening to them on the radio when it was blacked out. This carried through to my adult years, only my allegiances have shifted to the local team, Green Bay. I still pull for Minnesota, but not when they're playing the Packers. Following football has always been a conflicting thing for me. I love the game, I love the competition, I love the hard hitting action and I love the drama that some games create. At the same time, I always struggle with the time-suck that it can be, especially on a nice fall afternoon. That's part of what I struggle with, but the other part is the disappointment factor. Let me explain. In my forty years of watching football, I have exactly two Super Bowl victories to my credit. The teams I have followed

The Year Of What Could Be

Instead of posting my New Years Resolutions, which is really between me and myself, I thought it would be more interesting to post a list of 10 things I would like to see in 2014. The list will be idealistic because if we're not striving for an ideal, we're probably heading the wrong way. These ideas can range from easily achievable to so far out they'll never happen. In fact the latter of the two is where most of them will probably land, because, if one doesn't aim high, you'll usually achieve the less-than-you-hoped-for anyway. Keep in mind this is strictly my opinion and if you're with me great, if not, no hard feelings. An end to talking heads like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and the rest. It doesn't matter their leanings, left or right, they're all smug, snarky, mean spirited people. I feel if you listen to or watch them enough, you might become like them.  The development of a wildly popular 3rd political party. T