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Friday, July 1, 2022

I had a day off today where I tried to be a normal person.

One, I went into work three times on my day off. Note: In the future, when I take time off, I will leave the city. Even if I just go to The Prime in Trego, a small crossroads town where The Prime has great food.

Two, I'm not normal. I never will be. Doing what others do will never be.

This morning I woke up and went to a coffee shop where I ordered a regular coffee with a muffin. Backroads Coffee serves legit excellent coffee. They have all the flavors but I remain intimidated so I ordered a regular coffee. I don't know if they do their own baking but the glazed lemon poppy seed muffin was about the most tender breakfast pastry I've had.

I brought my computer to do some personal work, and fit in a little bit with others who suck off free WiFi as though it were mother's teet.

Great coffee, wonderful muffin -- although given the poppy seeds I can't pass a drug test -- but it turns out I'm not a hep cat. Which is what the kids are calling it nowadays.

I don't need to live what others live and of course I never have. 

Late in the day, in between one of my stops at work, I shopped at a grocery store as Thursday was payday.

Such naivete.

It's a Friday on the July Fourth weekend in a tourist area and a day when people get their Social Security checks.

Shopping was like the parade scene from "Animal House." I'm pretty sure Kevin Bacon was there, exhorting everyone to remain calm and I think I stepped on his face.

Entire sections were wiped out. Weird ones. I bought the last jar of queen-size Spanish olives. Someone took out the entire tonic section. Like mustard? You're out of luck.

One item that remained on the shelf: Cream of eel soup,

Today was a good day -- not Ice Cube kind of good day -- but a day where I could catch up on personal stuff. And now Saturday, I'll work a couple hours and clean what needs cleaning and then settle in to a homemade meal of chicken powdered with Penzey's lemon pepper season. Highly recommended. Some tomatoes and cukes from a local Mennonite farm and a glass of wine from a highly rated cardboard box.

Not such a bad life.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and sustenance unto you my dear sisters and brothers.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Between covering the Musky Fest Saturday and brainstorming a TV series via text with Kid, I was tired on my way to bed.

But fulfilled.

Of the literally hundreds of festivals I've attended or edited stories about, I believe Musky Fest is the best. And I can't claim to be a local for at least a couple decades.

It's hyper-local, with local beer served alongside locally made bratwursts. Said sausage is ground at Lynn's Custom Meats in Hayward and is the best brat I've ever had. And brother, I've had me some brats. The local Lion's Club grilled them and served with sauteed sauerkraut. If anyone wants to visit me, I'll promise my own homemade sauerkraut and sausage pizza. (Note: The sauerkraut and Swiss cheese omelet did not work out.)

The tents in the streets were filled with regional art -- my favorite being the carved wall hangings that  had correct lake depths for the biggest of our regional bodies of water. I have to write "biggest" because there are 300 lakes within an hour drive of Hayward, Wisconsin, so we can't have some representative of every single lake.

While hydrating with some beer at a local watering hole, I exchanged texts with Kid about a limited TV series idea I had. She called the idea brilliant and shared her changes and I promised to create a narrative arc if we decide to move forward working together. I only share that she thought it was "brilliant" because Kid doesn't BS me. When I shared the script I wrote during my layoff, she said, "it needs work, dad."

I respect the truth.

I won't share the story idea, even though the likelihood of it ever being written, let alone being made, is less than a tenth of 1 percent.

Saturday was a joy.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and joy unto you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, June 24, 2022

On this day, where major, historic news holds the headlines, I can't write about that.

I'm not in that position and I can't control a single damn bit of it.

What I can control is something so small, so meaningless but yet gives me joy. I have loved watching my stupid little garden of herbs and lettuce and the singular tomato plant grow, as though they are my kids.

Psychological studies show gardening is a true stress reliever. Even in difficult times, blood pressure goes down. Dopamine levels rise.

I enjoy the watering process in the morning, even with a couple spots of failure, and like to check on them when I get home in the evening.

When I recently made a frittata for a friend, the best part was fresh basil and parsley from my little railing garden.

I've down a poor job of unpacking lately. Actually no job of unpacking lately. Don't judge me.

But I've been handling the stress with a little cooking and raising some herbs. And, oh, the tomato plant has some baby maters that will grow into some nice home-grown snacks in a short time.

In times of great, stress, Buddha has always suggested to look at something small. I've written before the story of when Buddha was cleaning his rice pot while a class waited. Buddha had burned some rice so it took some time. His assistant suggested he take over the task of washing the rice pot so Buddha could teach the waiting students. "What can I possibly teach," Buddha said, "if I cannot wash a rice pot?"

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and small joys unto you my brothers and sisters.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Kid called Sunday for Father's Day, even though we agree it's a made-up celebration.

It's the kindness in her heart that comes naturally to her.

She's thriving out in Hollywood, living with a roommate over a Thai restaurant in Thai town. As an assistant, she's doing a great balancing work with exploring the city. She was able to do that during her internship in her last semester.

What impresses me is her honed focus on how to climb the ladder. Her college did a superior job in teaching how one traverses the entertainment industry. She knows what step she needs to take and where she might get ahead.

Kid's boss is getting married and I offered to do the ceremony as I am licensed preacher and performed one ceremony. At this point, Kid laughed at my ceremony pricing structure:

-- Basic ceremony is $19.95 and that includes two bar-rail drinks.

-- Next up is $24.95 which is the ceremony and two drink with brand names.

-- $29.95 is that plus a photo taken by me.

-- $34.95 will get you a crowd-size serving of mac and cheese.

-- Finally, $39.95 that provides all of the above plus I'll cut some hot dogs into the mac and cheese.

That there is an inflationary friendly wedding ceremony, my friends.

I love talking to Kid because I don't have to fill in history or background for a reference.

One time in North Carolina, I explained to her at age 14 how I reported a fight in the apartment next to me. I said I didn't want to be a bystander. "Oh," she said, "like the bystander effect around Kitty Genovese's murder." "Right," I said.

Then I realized what was happening.

"Wait," I stopped. "How in the hell does my 14-year-old Kid know about Kitty Genovese? A story from 1964?"

She thought. "I dunno. Maybe a documentary or something."

Love that kid. Forever proud to be her father, even on a made-up celebration.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and familial love unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Saturday, June 18, 2022


(A public letter to my friend Bertha in Bloomington, Indiana.)

Dear Bertha,

Thank you so much for your kind letter of June 13. It found me well. And, of course, thank you for the $27. (My friends want to know, "Why $27?")

I appreciate your nice note about the progress I've made in the last year. And indeed, I'm doing much better. I've lost about 25 pounds in that time and haven't had a gout attack in months. I had to give up beer in the process -- which is sad for a son of the Wisconsin Northwoods. Beer is as mother's milk to us.

As I've unpacked, I have been able to cook more and that's always a better way to eat. I sometimes joke that I recently found a building where one can go and buy uncooked foodstuffs which can then be taken home and made into lunches and dinners. It's called a grocery store. No one thinks that joke is funny.

So I was embarrassed to write the last time Bertha sent $27, I spent most of it on some drinks. 

Today, I took Bertha's gift to a roadside veggie stand run by a couple of nice Mennonites. I bought some great tomatoes and local asparagus. 

See, I am making better decisions as I improve after falling into that deep, deep hole.

It occurred to me today, while I meal-planned as I shopped, that I am no longer running. Running from pain. Running from difficulty. Hell, running from myself.

Thank you, dear Bertha, you're helping me during these last two years in the greatest travail of my life.

As you always ask, I will pray for your arthritis and I will ask readers to do the same.

Your friend,


Peace unto Ukraine and peace and friendship unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, June 17, 2022

 For some time I've been thinking about switching to Substack.

Now I have the song "Money" from "Cabaret" in my mind. (Although not "Money," I could watch this video every day for ever: Willkommen - Joel Grey & Alan Cumming - YouTube.)

But I can't do that. I set this standard more than two years ago and, thus, set the expectation.


This will remain a free blog.

Yet I'm likely to set up a Substack account for some writing. For those who don't know Substack, it is website where writers or artists charge small fees to access the material. There are some people who make hundreds of thousands a year on the platform.

I will not make that kind of money -- but given the difficulties of the last couple of years, I could use any additional money I can get as I approach my prospective retirement in 2037, when I will be 72.

The question is this: What would you pay $5 a month to read? From me?

I write about my life here, the difficulties, the blessings and my watering holes.

Certainly, I won't write about politics. There are far too many people who pull opinions from their nether regions. I also refuse to be accused of bias, even though people don't understand what "bias" means or is. ("Bias" means being slanted for or against something.) I've also noted for decades that bias is in the perception. I have been both "commie" and "white supremacist" in the same market.

I've thought about starting a running novel, based on my idea of "50 Shades of Flannel: An Erotic tale of the Wisconsin Northwoods." But there's an online book someplace called "50 Shades of Flannel" that is perhaps copyrighted.

I'll take recommendations, ideas and admonitions.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and five bucks a month unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Cooking for people makes me feel good.

I'm pretty sure I received that from my mom who loved to cook when she was still at home. After moving away from Wisconsin, every time I returned home the visit would revolve around food. She'd make my favorite childhood dish -- meatballs and dumplings -- and I would grill out.

Last weekend, I made a dairy-free frittata for my friend Kellie, who also cooks for me. Onion, roasted red pepper, zucchini seasoned with salt and pepper and fresh basil from my deck. That was all softened on the stovetop before I added the eggs and baked it at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Normally, I'm thick skinned but my cooking ego is a brittle little thing. She assured me it was delicious.

With more eggs available I tried making a Spanish tortilla -- which is entirely different than a Mexican tortilla. The Spanish version is thinly sliced potatoes and onions cooked and softened in too much oil. The oil is then drained and whipped eggs are poured over the top. I baked that as well with much salt and pepper. Potatoes need, to me, a fair amount of salt.

It was OK. But I make the mistake of comparing it to the version at Don Quijote in Valparaiso, Indiana. The chef/owner there, though has likely made tens of thousands of tortillas and has it down to a science. (Carlos Rivero is the chef and it's worth a trip just to meet him.)

I told a friend at a nearby bar what I cooked during the weekend and promised to bring her the last piece of tortilla. I added a salad from a pot on my deck.

I know how I feel when others cook for me and it was nice to share that feeling with others.

People seemed surprised that I like to cook.

"Fat guy gotta eat," I responded.

As I continue to unpack, I've promised myself this will happen more and more.

So put in your order now.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and sustenance unto you my brothers and sisters.