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Friday, October 29, 2021

 I'm cleaning tomorrow and not because I'm a clean freak.

As an older male who lives alone, I've become more concerned about what would happen should I have a medical incident. That's why I returned to wearing my nagging smart watch. I saw a police report while helping out with the Price County Review where a smart phone contacted 911 reporting the wearer had suffered a heavy fall and was not responding to prompts. I now have something to check on me.

So the clean-up comes from the same problem. 

What happens if I don't show up for work or a Packer game at Angler's Bar and Grill and friends ask for a police check on me? (P.S.: Great game Thursday, huh?)

Not only are they going to find me slumped over in one of my two plastic chairs, they will see stacks of magazines and newspapers, backed-up laundry, a curious pattern in the bath tub that was not there when I moved in and maggots.

OK, not actual maggots.

I spilled some rice two nights ago on the kitchen tile and dried to pick it up but it was like trying to pick up actual living maggots -- I imagine.

My brilliant solution, one that comes only to older divorcees? Let the rice dry and sweep it up.

Imagine the police doing the check and find me lying in a bed of what appear to be maggots. "How long has he been gone?" one officer will ask. "And what's that smell?" another will ponder. In regard to the latter, I smell that way anyway.

No, I can't leave that legacy.

I don't want an obit that reads, "Rich Jackson, 56, Hayward, died Thursday in consort with a thousand maggots ... "

Right now, the obit will read, "Rich Jackson, 56, who once was a homeless piece of crap ... "

At least I have that going for me.

Peace and a no-maggot death unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

 What's it called when you laugh and blubber at the same time?

This is not a joke. I need to find a new word that describes what I do when I watch my daughter perform.


That's always my reaction, even if she's performing wonderful comedy as part of her comedy troupe at Emerson College.

The stuff is genuinely funny but I lubber because I'm amazed at what his human being has become. She was this tiny pink ball at birth who couldn't do anything. For the longest time, all she could do is eat and poop. I mean months on end.

And now she this consummate performer, and brilliant young woman, who will graduate into the entertainment world next year. She's confident in her performances and fully vested in character.

Here's where you can see her: Welcome to Heaven - YouTube.

I don't expect you to lubber.

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

Friday, October 22, 2021

I promise.

I'm going to go get my stuff within weeks. (Everyone rolls eyes.)

And I realize I've been saying this for a long time but I want to have stuff in place for when my kid visits for Christmas. Among the stuff I do not have to retrieve are Christmas decorations because I have none. 

Here's the thing: it's expensive. I have some moving money from the company but that was taxed at 40 percent. Plus my month-long stay in a hotel was taxed as a direct benefit. Both cut heavily into the moving money. And my car -- well, don't get me going on my car.  My mechanic told me "You're leaking from everywhere." You don't want to hear that from your mechanic or your doctor.

So I believe when the second November paycheck hits, I can hit the road and get my junk here.

I suspect it will be something like Christmas, opening hundreds of presents of stuff I haven't seen in two years.

Then the cull will begin.

Yes, I'm going to drive for four days -- two to Bloomington and two back -- so I can get rid of said stuff.

Living for two years without access to my accumulated useless goods has been a wonderful lesson in minimalism.

In North Carolina, the last time my stuff was out of boxes, Clare looked at my library and insisted I didn't need two copies of "Thou and I" by Martin Buber. One, yes I did. Two, what an awful last name for a kid in middle school.

It reminds me of one of the stories of the Buddha. He culled down to a tea cup and a rice pot because he didn't need more. A student asked about having guests. The Buddha calmly replied they would bring their own rice pots and tea cups.

I won't need anything else.

Although, I'll be like Steve Martin in "The Jerk," who didn't need anything else.

So I'll end up with a rice pot, a tea cup, an ashtray, a remote, a paddle board, some matches, the lamp and a chair.

And nothing else.

Except for half a dozen typewriters -- down from 35. Five hundreds pens. Hundreds of books. Two potato ricers. And just one copy of "Thou and I."

Peace and less stuff unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

I stopped celebrating birthdays some time ago. 

After dozens of them, it gets a little tiresome becoming a year older. As if getting older every second isn't enough. There are 31,536,000 seconds in a year. Tell me that doesn't exhaust you.

Facebook has changed that.

Now, each year, I look forward to hearing from friends in my (too) many stops who take time out of their day to wish me a happy birthday. When Facebook is used well, it can be gratifying.

Each year I make sure I thank everyone of them, sometimes with a Facebook button, occasionally a personal message and certainly a sarcastic comment -- that's usually why they're my friends.

Much has changed in the year since I celebrated my birthday in a cabin on the shores of Lake Lemon in Indiana, a couple weeks away from moving back into a cheap motel.

I'm working. I have a permanent address. I am home in Wisconsin.

One year ago, I couldn't  have imagined that. After applying to hundreds, perhaps a thousand jobs, I couldn't have imagined how well this worked. Serendipity is a thing.

Back then, virtually no one returned a call or email. Sometimes, when returned, the email was clearly generated by some computer program. When that happened, the email came back within minutes after the software scanned my application and determined I didn't quality. Human eyes never saw it. I applied for a content manager job in Indianapolis and was told with minutes via email I didn't have the requisite skills -- even though I've been a  manager content for 30 years.

I also applied for jobs as a fast-food manager, a hard liquor salesman, countless communications positions. I think I even applied for a bear trainer but at my new advanced age of 56, I could be wrong. (That was a joke. I would never apply to train Brian Urlacher.)

In addition to serendipity, I could use the word blessings. I could write about Karma. I might suggest hard work in that nine months of job searching, I only took off three days: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

But let's be real -- there's always a ton of luck involved. Right time, right place.

And a ton of friends who bathed me in birthday greetings Tuesday.

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

Friday, October 15, 2021


I want to tell you a story about a tea set.

In 1921, my mom's mother -- Grams as we called her -- was getting married in tiny Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. The town was a stop on the Canadian National Railway, a settlement named after a priest who had asked his fellow Canadians to settle the plains of the province, make their homes there and build settlements of French culture.

A tradition in the budding town was, when a young was engaged, everyone would throw in 50 cents or a dollar so the bride-to-be would have a proper tea set. After all, Canada remained a part of the United Kingdom for the most part -- except for Quebec.

A proper tea set was fundamental to a marriage, more so than a crock pot in the 1970s or an Instantpot today.

Most brides, I imagine, bought cheap but full tea sets with the entire cadre of parts -- and I don't know what that entails but certainly includes a tea pot, a sugar bowl and creamer,  tea cups and tea cup saucers, et al. Also some small plates for sweets and sandwiches that ought to accompany the tea along with a decent marmalade. I remember my mom stocking up on tea and marmalade for Grams' visits, foreign items for a Wisconsin kid in the 1970s.

But Grams apparently had taste.

She ordered a smaller set of Crown Royal Derby (pronounced "darby") -- the tea set of the English Royals.

It's exquisite china, hand-painted, fired and finished off with 24 carat gold leaf, also hand painted.

The tea pot and it's stand were knockoffs and beyond the cups and saucers, there was no additional accoutrement. 

My mom brought the tea set home when Grams died in the 1980s -- I am not the family genealogist -- and it sat in our china cabinet for a couple of decades.

Later, as I traveled, I took an interest in loose leaf tea and started breaking out the set when I would return home, taking extra care when washing. I couldn't imagine my mother's horror should I break something.

I raised my budding and brilliant kid on drinking tea, at first herbal and then caffeinated when she became a teenager. My mom loved having intergenerational tea. Her mother's tea set, herself, her son and her granddaughter. And, oh, we always brought some Pim's Biscuit Cookies, crisp shortbreads covered with a thin layer of either chocolate or jam.

So the deal was I would get the Canadian family tea set, so it can continue on to a fourth generation, my kid.

When I was laid off from the Bloomington Herald-Times, all of my stuff was in storage but I insisted on having two boxes containing the tea set with me and asked colleague Laura Lane to hold on to it for me. She brought the boxes in her visit a couple weeks ago.

One hundred years later, the set remains as beautiful as it ever was.

When I make drink tea in the cups -- they might be historic but all of the history comes not from the worth but from the history -- I think of generations.

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

Monday, October 11, 2021

 Oh, the shared despair and ecstasy of a bar filled with Packer fans during a game.

I had missed it so.

The game Sunday was, in the best cliche, one for the ages. Leads moved during quarters, the Packers would make a play and then give one away and finally five missed field goals by both teams in the remaining moments.

Watching a Packer game in a Wisconsin bar was close to the top of a list for reasons to return to my beloved home state.

I like how knowledgeable are the Packer fans, able to city statistics from memory. Packer fans generally know their history, too, although someone next to me at one point pointed at Aaron Rodgers on the screen and said, "There's the third Green Bay quarterback who will be in the Hall of Fame." I responded, "Fourth. Arnie Herber from the 1930s is there, too." He appreciated this little gem.

I particularly enjoy how complete strangers become the best of friends and in moments of success, high five each other. Who cares about politics during a Packer game?

Certainly not during a closely contested game that went into overtime.

The next day, a colleague asked if I tore my hair out during the game.

"No," I said. "I can't reach that spot on my back."

Peace and Packers brotherhood unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Friend and former colleague Laura Lane visited Hayward this week.

Her first phone call to me was, "This city is tiny."

Yes, small but world class.

Readers must understand Laura Lane -- I always refer to her by her full name -- is the rare mixture of toughness, incisiveness, empathy and writing talent that makes a world-class reporter for the Bloomington Herald-Times.

She found out the food scene was spectacular because of the number of tourists and part-time residents who dump money into our county. In fact, we just wrote a story about how the county took in more than $1 million in sales tax over the summer months. That at a half cent tax on the dollar.

Laura toured the shops along Main Street and side streets, gathering presents for friends. I took her into the Hayward Mercantile, which is a high-end cooking that beats Goods for Cooks in Bloomington every day of the week. There she found a device that grabs jars out of hot water for pickling -- she had suffered burns weeks earlier using a wooden spoon with no common sense. Sadly, we weren't able to enjoy the vinegar and oil tasting bar because Max wasn't there.

We drove past my house and she extolled its virtues. To be clear, she did not extoll mine and reminded me of my failings. I expect nothing less from a hardcore journalist and concerned friend.

Laura worked at sustaining me during my struggles, bringing pot roast and other goodies to the cabin out in the woods. She also brought sweets and a book during my Christmas at the cheap hotel.

We went out to The Landing, where she learned from the manager not just the history of musky fishing but the story of the flooding and creation of the flowage -- which drowned out Native American homes, wild rice beds and hundreds of sacred graves.

She left after only a couple days of visiting with a promise to return and happy that I had settled well.

So an investigative journalist with nearly 40 years experience confirmed my own estimation.

I'm well.

Happiness and wellness unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, October 1, 2021

 Talking to my kid always buoys me.

We talked twice last weekend, as she celebrated her 21st birthday on Saturday. Just hearing her voice is a balm for me.

On Saturday, I called and sang the happy birthday -- as is our tradition -- song but she was celebrating at Fenway Park so she promised to call the next day.

And I finally made her laugh. Ever since she went to school for comedic arts, making her laugh has become all but impossible. She can see my dad jokes coming from a mile away. I can't repeat what made her laugh because it was foul and crazy at the same time.

She recounted her day, which included humor and pathos. As always, she asked what I was working on. Just working, I said.

Then she shared a funny story -- she doesn't joke with me -- that I can't  share with you, dear reader, because blogger doesn't support audio.

But if you could, you'd say, "Yeah, that is Rich's kid."

Peace and laughter unto you my brothers and sisters.