Showing posts from December, 2015

The Year In Pictures

As we say goodbye to another year, I always find it best to look back a bit before heading into a new year. This time I'll do it with pictures. When I take pictures, I put them in folders by year with sub folders by subject underneath those. For this exercise, I went into each folder and grabbed a picture from each that meant something to me. Here is what I ended up with. It is not every great moment of the year, but is a good overview of some of the best. Our Memphis/Nashville trip. In June we celebrated 25 years of marriage. As part of that celebration, we treated ourselves to a road trip to Memphis and Nashville. One of the most moving parts of the trip was a tour through the Civil Rights Museum. The museum tour finishes by a walk through of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's hotel room. It was something everyone should see. My niece's graduation from High School. A fun trip to upstate New York to celebrate a graduation. Great to see family and it even included a tri

January's Challenge

Back in November, I was invited to help a fellow writer/poet as she participated in a writing challenge for the month of December. The challenge was a fundraiser for Tupelo Press , a nonprofit independent literary press. My friend, Sarah Sadie, was faced with writing a poem a day for 30 days straight. As part of the fundraiser, she offered several different levels of support ranging from $3.00 to $129.00 with varying levels of giveaways to those who sponsored her. I've found that sponsoring her was a fun way to follow along her journey. I  liked the idea and challenge of it so much that I checked into doing it myself. The thought of pushing myself creatively to come up with a new poem every day for a month was too good to pass up. After I inquired about it, I was selected for the month of January. And so, I'd love it if you'd join me and support Tupelo Press at the same time. The details are below. In prepping for the challenge, I've put together a list of ideas or

Christmas On The Continuum

Today is Christmas Eve, which for my extended, Minnesota family, is the "real" Christmas from a celebration standpoint. Everyone gathers at my sister Jane's house for a meal and kick-out-the-slats present exchange. We have been gathering at her house for almost twenty years now and today we will will gather one last time. Jane will be selling her house this spring in an attempt to downsize before she retires. And while I know this will be a hard event for her, it will be hard for me as well. There are a ton of good memories from that house, most of them built around holidays and special events. When I first brought my girlfriend Donna home to meet my family, we were met at the door of this house by my niece Stephanie (5 or 6 at the time) who, when she saw Donna, asked "Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?" How's that for a welcome to the family? At that same event, my nephew and godson, Nicolas when introduced to Donna as "his futu

Looking For It

Christmas is almost upon us. For me personally, every year it's a slightly different take on the same themes: November denial stage Early December awakening Methodical procrastination Post Birthday wake-up call Frantic online button pushing Frenetic shopping on Saturday before Christmas Hasty wrapping and egg nog chugging Driving a zillion hours either east or west Catching my breath at Christmas service Enjoying the fruits of all the labor at Sister/Sister in-laws' house. (Jane K, Jane T, or Jill K) My experience started of course with the tree purchase and lighting that I talked about in a previous post.  Well that ended up working out great. Once the tree was decorated, it looked fabulous.  Then, last Sunday night as I was watching the football game, I got to watch the tree of beauty crash to the carpet. It made a tinkling, smashing sound and I think I made a slightly different sound. Not so much tinkling but more on the smashing kinds of sounds. The only

Swimming Upstream

As I mentioned in a recent post, my seventeen year old son decided to join the swim team this year. I was a bit surprised because he has never really swam in a competitive mode before. We always had him in various swim lessons as a kid, but that was long ago and was far from structured. It was still more than I ever had as a kid however. We were taught by the old school three step method: 1. Get in your suit 2. Get in the water 3. Flail until you figure it out. This is not a knock on my mother in any way. I'm sure trying to raise six kids was hard enough without making certain that each one had mad swimming skills. I remember her sending my step-father down to the water's edge once to help teach me some strokes. I was pretty hopeless though and likely the worst swimmer in the family. To the point where my sister Pat has dreamed on a number of occasions that I have died by drowning. Well, I've made it this far. That's not to say I haven't been pulled out o

Running Laps

I finished my fifty third lap around the sun a couple of days ago. It's a race I've been in since birth and while I hope I'm around for many more laps, I feel I'm probably closer to the finish line than the start. Maybe not. There's some people out there who are 108, right? In order to keep in "running shape" for this race, it takes a little more effort each year. While there's not too much I can do about my mug and hairline - which is more a rumor than an actual line - there are certain things I do to keep it all together on the inside. My weekday 20 minute yoga routine keeps the muscles from drying out like leather and snapping when I least expect it. I also now take three different pills every day. Twice a day fish oil pills which cure everything from heart disease to hardening of the arteries, or so I'm told. Also twice a day Glucosamine which is supposed to help sore joints. This is my latest snake oil treatment, as most days, either a kne

The Ambush Of Gratitude

There have been several instances lately where I have become almost overwhelmed with gratefulness, joy and momentary elation. They seem to be happening more as I get older and I'm not quite sure what that means. Is it a natural middle age thing? Am I getting too introspective lately? Am I choosing to stick my head in the sand with regards to all the world problems? Most often the moments come upon me while I'm walking and listening to my iPod. If you know me, I do a crap ton of walking. I walk to work every day in winter, I walk the dog every night - twice a day on weekends, and I walk to class and the library to do my writing. When I walk, I almost always have my headphones in. What I've found is that the songs trigger memories of specific times of my life. In many instances they are times of my life I don't think much about during the rest of the day. Music has a way of triggering a part of your brain that way. I remember one summer my wife and I were painting o

The Season Of Light

Well, just like that, the Christmas season is upon us. For me, it's a little hard to believe. Part of this is because of the weather. We'll hit 40+ degrees today and throughout the week, finishing at 50+ on Friday. And I am totally, completely, undeniably fine with that. Seriously. I may even take a bike ride today. With the holiday, comes the preparation. Last weekend, I put up our outdoor icicle lights, which constitutes the beginning, middle and end of my outdoor decorating. It involves a ladder in winter which comingles two least favorite things: heights and cold. Fearing the weather turning, I put them up last weekend when it was 32 and windy. Today it is 40 and calm. If this was baseball, we'd call that a swing and a miss. Anyhow, prior to hanging them, I plugged in the lights to make sure they were all working. This is always a crossed-finger affair. Nothing causes me such angst during the Christmas prep as non-functioning lights. A few years back, I even b

Gift Ideas and a Giveaway

Gift Ideas and an eBook Giveaway Unfortunately, it's that time of year for shameless self promotion. Below are all of the books that feature my writing in one spot for the readers on your Christmas lists. Click the links to purchase them in time for Christmas. For putting up with this shameful blog post and to help me celebrate a great year in writing, I am hosting an eBook giveaway! The prizes are eBooks of: Memories from Maple Street, USA: The Best Christmas Ever   (1 eBook) and Memories from Maple Street, USA: Leaving Childhood Behind   (1 eBook) Here's how it works. To enter the drawing, you just need to: 1. Like this post on Facebook (Earns one entry) or, 2. Share this post on Facebook (Earns two entries) or, 3. Like my Author page (Earns one entry) (New followers only) or, 4. All three of the above. (Entries are cumulative) Then, on Saturday, December 5th, I'll draw two winners and send them the information on how to get their free eBook