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Monday, June 14, 2021

I would write that I continue to bask in the glow of my kid's visit last week.

But "bask in the glow" is a cliche, and I've been taught not to do that in print or in thought.

Plus, I don't really glow. I'm old. I'm fat. I pretty much just schvitz.

My return to a full week of work greeted me with a series of problems and crises that were neither, really. Just hurdles I have to over come.

And one of the more daunting hurdles I have left. Renting a truck to drive to Indiana to get my stuff and then jam my new place with all the old stuff I've stored for a couple years. I'm pretty sure George Carlin did a bit on this.

I have promised to myself to do it, not this weekend but next -- no matter what.

I need my cooking equipment and most of my books. As my kid has noted, I don't need -- NEED -- many of my books. For instance, anything by Martin Buber. Poor kid. Any of his thoughts were lost during a particularly harsh high school because of unfortunate nicknames. (For the record, I would have been the president of the Martin Buber Nickname Club. It's what I do.)

I'm going to do it, damnit.

One of the bigger hurdles I've had to jump, frankly.

But I trust my colleagues to get out the newspaper and the various magazines and, at a weekly, get the lawn mowed and the front door painted and so on. Last week, we found a partially eaten dead fawn behind the building. Through fastidious research, I can claim it was not anyone in the building who did this.

My jokes about fawn McNuggets were not appreciated. HR has been alerted.

I will alert friends along the route about potential meetings.

And I will seek out any emotional support you might offer.

As for what I can offer: Some Martin Buber books and a list of jokes.

Peace and Buber unto all of you my brothers and sisters.


Friday, June 11, 2021

Dad for a week exhausted me and enlightened me.

It's also a good name for a sitcom starring Kevin James, which Leah Remini will then join after some other attractive brunette character is killed off. 

Theme:

"Dad for a week, dad for a week;

No matter what he's not at his peak.

He stumbles, he bumbles, he fumbles about;

Through it all Leah Remini will hear him out."

My kid has surpassed me in intellect -- I don't set a high bar. Composure -- I don't know what that means. Kindness -- you go to hell.

All week long, I mispronounced "hegemony," asked her to define her terms and then sought links so I could study what she already knew.

It's a helluva relationship where I've tried to model good behavior for her nigh these 20 years of her life and now she inspires me to do the same. 

I also realize I must be better at taking care of myself as I want to be around for her successes and help if a can during her challenges. It's helped that I've lost about 20 pounds lately, despite being hobbled by knee issues. And that will get better.

We do have a deal that if and when I reach age 80, I can then do whatever I want.

That's good family -- agreeing to a point of planned obsolescence. I will increase drinking, take up smoking and pal around with reckless drivers. Good times.

But it says something of love, a phrase we sons of the Wisconsin Nort'woods only use for Packers quarterbacks.

She makes me want to be better.

Peace and incremental improvement and sunshine unto all of you my brothers and sisters.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

From the first relish tray -- with extra radishes -- to our last clinching hug -- each of us smelling between a mixture of sweat and gin -- my kid and I had a special visit.

It was two years in the making.

I knew at some point I would see her less and less and promised to make every minute with her special as I readied myself for that natural cleaving. We stayed close. And my DNA in her runs strong.

You'd never have known it had been so long.

We fell into conversation on the ride back from the airport in the Twin Cities to the Wisconsin Northwoods that was of our nature. One sentence might be music. The next philosophy. Then a cultural reference. A loved memory shared. And a heavy sprinkling of humor.

The folks at The Ranch seated us a little late -- 9:08 p.m. after my promise to be there by 9:03. We old editors believe every minute is a damned eternity. And they had fulfilled my request of a relish tray with extra radishes, which covered the other gems on the tray but were gone quickly enough as the kid and I are radish friends (note to self: great name for a vegan horror movie).

The next day we brought lunch into the newspaper so I could treat staff and let them meet this person they hear me reference everyday and, I think, were beginning to believe didn't exist.

I gave the kid a bit of a tour and we finished the day with a real Wisconsin fish fry at The Steakhouse. I lived at the lodge there for my first month in town and they're my local family.

On Sunday, we relaxed with Chippewa Springs water -- our family staple -- and talked about her senior thesis she's working on. It's a look at how corporate and cultural hegemony affects late-night TV shows, her chosen milieu.

That night, we had the best wienerschnitzel in the world at the Chippewa Inn on County B -- along with a relish tray that included an extra bowl of radishes. It occurred to me that in northern Wisconsin "radish" is singular and plural. The bowl of whole radish prompted nearby tables to exclaim the excellent service.

I worked the better part of Monday but she was ensconced in another office in the building, working on her senior thesis. 

When I kicked out of work at about 3:30 p.m., we had time to kill until more food so we played pool at TNT in downtown Hayward.

Oh, I had forgotten she's a shark.

Years ago, I taught her pool and then grasshopper surpassed the teacher. She's a shark in petite form, willing to play off on her intellectual and creative personality and then she'll pass that 8 ball by you like the a cold, black piece of coal to fire the pits of hell.

She will do well in Hollywood.

Tuesday: Deadlines? Pressure on two publications? More pool where she kicked my butt? I worked again as we had the Wednesday weekly coming out and our Magazine, The Visitor, due to the printer ASAP. 

I introduced her to the food and drink of Angler's Bar and Grill. She had the basic bacon cheeseburger -- in which you can taste the meat of two animals. 

I took all of Wednesday off as a sleeping-in day as well as time with no agenda.

We started off with a late lunch of the Big Chip Cobb Salad at Treelands resort -- split because one salad would be as big as our huge heads. We come from big-headed people. If you meet me, ask for the jokes.

And then (angelic music from the Gods) we saw another pool table. And played three games. She won the rubber match.

We had rest/nap time which is valuable mostly during vacations. No one should return to work more tired than they left.

A couple of cocktails at Powell's on the Lake (formerly the first Famous Dave's) and pizza, drinks and pool at Treelands.

Despite my advanced age, I am not tired.

Seeing my daughter and listening to intelligence has invigorated me once again.

When we hugged today at the Twin Cities airport, I said four times, "I love you."

I've never meant anything more in my life.

Peace, love and kinship unto all of you my brothers and sisters.


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

 I apologize for not blogging but I've been spending every waking/non-working moment with the kid.

I don't know, even though I'm a writer, how to explain the joy.

When I get her to laugh, it feeds me.

When she outsmarts me in a conversation, I am warmed.

When she smiles, it makes the day.

I'll follow up soon with some photos.

Thank you for your indulgence.

Peace and love to all of you my brothers and sisters.

Monday, May 31, 2021

 (A note to my child before you arrive.)


Dear Kid,


Remember, before you see me again, I'm a 55-year-old divorced man.

This means, firstly, that good hygiene is merely a suggestion at this point. And "good" is a subjective term anyway.

Just because something smells doesn't mean a good schmear of Ben-Gay liniment can cover that up. Again. And again. And again.

I'm bearded right now which is not out of preening or prowling. It's just pure laziness. You see a man reaches an age where he attempts to determine the least he can possibly do to be considered socially acceptable. Even these will dissipate over time.

If young people can wear expensive pre-ripped jeans, I can wear cheap pants I've ripped myself. At my age, they're no longer called "rips." They're called ventilation.

I bought a goat to help control the lawn but one night I arrived home to find no food in the fridge. But I had Goat Helper in the pantry. Hence goat no longer.

My plumber found my cat in the shower drain. I said, "I don't have a cat." He said, "Dude, you've lost a lot of hair." 

That is not blood spatter on the wall. I was drinking gravy when I had to sneeze. Now I tell visitors it's modern art.

I've had no visitors.

And it's no secret in our family that I drink gravy. "Hi, my name is Rich. I drink gravy." (Your mother's attorneys had a heyday with this. My attorney refused thereafter to make eye contact with me.)

It might appear I have used underwear hanging from pegs on the bedroom wall.

I have no pegs.

It might appear I have some raised beds in the back yard. They are not -- are not -- shallow graves. You need plausible deniability at this point. Also, unless you have a recording of me saying it, I never said, "One man's torso is another man's friend."

Erase that recording.

"Road kill" can also mean "fresh," "tenderized" and "Wisconsin Waygu."

I have something stuck under my finger nails. It smells like pickled pig's feet. I'll let you judge.

If we walk into area establishments and the immediate response is, "You're not allowed in here anymore" -- that is my new legal name.

Above all, remember that I love you and can't wait to see you.

Yours,

Dad.

I wish peace and love unto all of you my brothers and sisters.



Thursday, May 27, 2021

 My kid arrives a week from tonight and will be greeted by her own mattress on the floor of the guest room and a plastic chair in the living room.

Thankfully, she's 20 years old now and child services can't be called.

I continue to live meagerly as I try to find time to get my stuff up here. Oh, there will be ice cream treats in the fridge, bottles of ice-cold Chippewa Spring water and some decent tea in my work office.

But she is among the most malleable people I've ever met, perhaps because of my wandering ways. Today I told someone that I don't travel, I just move.

Better, my kid understands that love isn't about stuff or comfort or more stuff.

Family is about spending time together and even if the circumstances are imperfect, to stay present in the moment. A couple of times as a small child, she had to accompany me to the ER as I suffered the maladies of aging. We've enjoyed our time to discuss more topics than the number of streptococcus molecules on the swab shoved into my head.

We call such times "Jackson family adventures" rather than bemoan our collective fate.

People ask, "What are you going to do?"

I can't answer truthfully (because it seems as though I don't care) but, it doesn't matter.

Oh, we're going to eat well through supper clubs and bars in the area.

We have to see anything historical, from the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame to the sign outside The Landing that notes how the Chippewa Flowage flooded out American Indians.

Mini-putt will be part of the itinerary, as our rivalry mirrors Woods vs. Mickelson.

Somehow she picked up from me how to be a tracker, so we're going to get to the bottom of the largest musky ever caught.

God, I haven't seen the kid in person in two years. 

It doesn't matter what we do.

Peace and love unto all of you my brothers and sisters.


Monday, May 24, 2021

 We open our doors at the Sawyer County Record tomorrow.

When we closed our doors at the Herald-Times in Bloomington in March 2020, I could not have imagine all the tumult, personally, professionally and culturally, that was about to happen.

I'll write in this week's column about how the opening is real and metaphorical. We're opening in the specific sense but the general sense as well.

But the uptake is this: I'm still here and we're still here.

There are those who wish to diminish the 600,000 dead Americans, the 2 million dead around the world. That's not how history is going to remember this. 

History will note the politicizing of a pandemic, a virus. of medicine, of science. But it will fail to cover how we as individuals survived together, regardless of politics.

It is my hope we come out of this, now with our doors open -- in reality and metaphorically -- with an understanding we our one country together.

I've never seen patriotism as castigating those with whom you disagree but working with fellow American on common-sense solutions.

Crap.

This sounds like I'm running for office. I am not

Peace and togetherness unto you my brothers and sisters.