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Saturday, September 24, 2022


Dateline: Hayward, Wisconsin, Sept. 24, 2022.

News: Kids try to eat donuts on a string without using their hands during the Fall Fest.

I need to get out more and see some of these minor joys of life and photograph them. 

I went to the Fest last year in my orange T-shirt and won biggest pumpkin contest. When I wear the same T-shirt through the year, I still wear the medal. Some people were pissed. But I was like, rules are rules: Big and orange.

Fun day, tiring and bad for an old man's knees and hips, pounding up and down the hard surface of Main Street for three hours.

But I got this photo out of it.

So worth it.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and donuts on a string to all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, September 23, 2022


As the season turns, the grill stays hot.

The leaves outside my bedroom have started turning red and the air no longer smells green, the kind of scent of freshly mown grass.

I left open the window as I slept the other night when temperature descended into the 40s, sinking the thermostat to 62. I don't care. I have blankets. Additional T-shirts. And maybe some shots of Dr. McGillicuddy's Mentholmint Schnapps. 

But I must grill. 

Tuesday night, after I left abruptly from a local watering hole because the asshole next to me used the N-word as adjective, adverb and noun, I decided to grill out during the week -- a rarity for me.

It was worth any darkness, cold temperature and grogginess in the morning.

With the help of a local Bavarian-trained chef, I modified a Thomas Keller recipe for roast chicken. The latter had me squeeze fresh lemons over the chicken carcass and then shove the lemon husks into the cavity along with rosemary sprigs. I used the last of rosemary growing on my deck. But Max, a retired chef who somehow found his way from Bavaria to northern Wisconsin, suggested I add fresh parsley and some onion. He told me this while I polished off red cabbage, fresh sauerkraut and spatzel he made for Oktoberfest here.

It was beautiful. The vibrant mixture of lemon and rosemary -- I'd eat a shoe stuffed thusly -- were balanced by the earthiness I love of onions and parsley.

A lovely little evening, along with half a bottle of Wente Chardonnay, soothed the stress of Tuesday's deadline and the asshole at the bar. (Note to self: "Asshole at the Bar" is a great autobiography title.)

After I called him a bigot and a racist, and then left, he has not returned to my watering hole.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and a whole roast of chicken on the grill unto you my brothers and sisters.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

 One of the greatest things about being a journalist is you get to be in places others have never imagined.

That's how I found myself Saturday morning where 3,000 bicyclists whooshed past me while I took photos to document the start of the 39th annual Chequamegon Mountain Bike Festival, a 19-mile race through hills of the Wisconsin Northwoods.

Colleagues told me about the "whoosh" and for about five minutes the bikers created a stiff breeze as they raced past while I clicked away.

The riders don't look like they're racing here but at the beginning, in downtown Hayward, they're waiting for the turns of the downtown to give way to the open road and later the off-road trails used for the Birkebeiner cross country ski tournament.

But they were moving fast enough to make the wind blow through my hair -- both of them.

Peace unto Ukraine and may the breeze of a thousand cyclists tousle your hair and offer you peace.

Friday, September 16, 2022

 Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

-- Dean Vernon Wormer

Living out of boxes is no way to go through life, either.

Summers are busy here in the Wisconsin Northwoods. We have the weekly newspaper and I also manage another weekly south of here. Starting with Memorial Day, we put out a magazine every two weeks to welcome visitors to God's Country. We have our own special sections and we have regional editions.

It is a busy time.

Sadly, that's meant my efforts at unpacking have slowed. Which is a nice way of saying I haven't been unpacking -- either my boxes or my burdens. Since at least May.

That will change Saturday, even though I'll spend my morning taking photos of a race that includes 2,000 bicycle riders though the gently rolling hills of the Northwoods.

Then I'll visit one of the local history museums to get an armful of historical photos to publish with our Time Machine column, a favorite feature of most newspapers where we recap stories from the past.

After that, I'll probably take some photos at our local Oktoberfest, where the feast is cooked by a retired, Bavarian-trained chef named Maximillion. (He has referred to a competitor as having Scheiße wienerschnitzel. Shit.)

Then, then I'll return home to restart the unboxing process. 

The truth is I love my job and any chance I have to cover my community I'll not just take but enjoy.

But I will also reconcentrate efforts to unbox.

Home needs to be a refuge rather than an afterthought. I need my cooking equipment so I can have over hungry friends. I also need to feel comfortable in my confines.

Here's to serious unpacking as the summer season cools.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and an unboxed life unto you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

 The state of Wisconsin has conferred unto me doggie license plates.


My lack of Wisconsin-issued license plates had become something of a local discussion point particularly given it's been 18 months since my arrival. Among the most notable are a couple of retired cops who can't give up on their mission of keeping the peace, although vehicle registration is more about the state finding ways to make money than protecting citizens from criminals.

Arf. arf.

So $260 bucks later, I'm legally registered, sadly not with the American Kennel Club.

Arf, arf, arf.

And I have plates that send secret signals to others on the road, this guy is OK, he's from Wisconsin. He drinks, eats tubed meats and cheers on the Green Bay Packers even when they tear his heart out as they did last Sunday. He's not a Goodfella, as in the movie. But he's a fella. I'll tell ya that much.

Arf, arf, arf, arf.

Perhaps the new plate will earn me points with my dog-owning friends or dog-loving strangers. They will assume I'm dog friendly. However, I do not have a dog. I can barely take care of myself let alone another living being that deserves a life better than existing on Twizzlers and gin martinis (seriously, try it, they make great companions).

Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf.

The woman at the BMV, which stands for Bowl Movement Vehicle like my own, told me I needed to become a Wisconsin citizen by getting a state driver's license. That not as easily done. I need a birth certificate or a passport, two bills sent to my house, a urine sample, a swab stuck up my nose until it tickled my brain, a QI test -- I mean an IQ test -- an entire toe, some spit on a glazed donut, a recording of me singing "Kumbaya" in falsetto and one rabbit bunny.

Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf. arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf.

Who the hell brought the chihuahua?

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and "arf" unto you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, September 9, 2022


My parsley is dying.

It could be treated as a metaphor to go along with summer.

"As the season of summer passes, so do the greens of summer."

Nah, too easy.

For most of college, I worked toward a second degree in philosophy with a specialty in logic. My logic mentor, Dr. Richard Behling, was a logical positivist but said he wasn't because the school was regularly derided as self-refuting. Logical positivists, or so said Karl Popper in 1933, would not discuss anything that couldn't be proven logically or scientifically -- an idea that couldn't be proven, you guessed it, logically or scientifically. 

But my professor once said the perfectly logical poem was from Gertrude Stein: "A rose is a rose is a rose" ad infinitum. 

What of parsley?

Growing outside on my deck, it shall pass. This, too, could be said of me, of all of us.

I would remiss, though, to fail writing about growing parsley this year in my newest home. Among my crop was rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano and parsley -- plus a basket of salad greens and a tomato plant. (The latter of which, in a pot, produced tomatoes with less flavor than the supermarket tomato in January. I fed them to the Byrds -- not birds but the seminal rock band of the 1960s.)

Parsley was a throwaway but it ended up being the star of the summer.

Fresh parsley was so wonderful, I couldn't pass it any time of day without pinching a sprig and chewing on it -- including at 8 a.m. on my way to work. I started plucking and chopping parsley finely for a simple breakfast of parsley scrambled eggs and toast.

And it is dying as it will and should.

I didn't use enough of my herbs this summer but it was a wonderful start to creating a home after several years of tumult.

Next summer will be better as I am at home.

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

Thursday, September 8, 2022

For those of you who know me, grilling is my preferred milieu.

To paraphrase the description of the Old Man in "A Christmas Story," where other artists work in oils and pastel, I work in grilling.

And I have added a grill to my home.

Yes, studies have suggested charred food might involve carcinogens but what doesn't? So does bacon, which supposedly has the same issue. But bacon has never harmed me, only loved me. Were someone to invent a bacon comforter, I would buy it. (Note to self: Invent bacon comforter.)

But if something is cooked over coals, I'll eat it. And I'll cook it.

The photo I'm running with this post is the mundane: burgers and brats.

That will be lunches and dinners for half a week with the occasional vegetable acknowledged in a friendly manner. Sauerkraut is a vegetable, obviously.

But I can and will grill a three-course meal.

We'd start out with a grilled salad. I cut a head of romaine length-wise, brush it with olive oil and then salt and pepper. Put on the grill cut-side down for three minutes and then turn. Put crumbled blue cheese and cooked bacon on and cook another two minutes. Pull and dress the grilled salad with homemade balsamic syrup (Take a cup of balsamic vinegar and three tablespoons of brown sugar, cooked down to a cup again).

The main will be a whole chicken, drizzled with lemon juice. Then throw the lemon husks into the cavity of the chicken along with fresh rosemary. Twenty minutes before the chicken is ready to go, throw rosemary sprigs on to the coals to give the chicken a smokey rosemary taste.

Finally, cut peaches in half and rub brown sugar on to the cut side. Grill that for two to three minutes and turn over for another two minutes. Serve with ice cream.

It's also insanely easy to grill a pizza at home.

Or just about anything.

So now I have a grill and that adds to making my place more of a home for me. 

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and charred foods unto you my brothers and sisters.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

 My mom turned 90 this weekend.

Saturday, I drove to Chippewa Falls -- with help from a friend who loaned me some money to make my car highway worthy -- to pick up my brother and celebrate with them this distinctive mark in my mom's life.

And ran into friends.

First things first, my brother and I had lunch at a bar that serves decent hot beefs. Sadly, the bar where I wanted to buy hot beefs -- including one for mom -- was closed. But any hot beef can be elevated with enough horseradish. And I'm not talking about horseradish sauce that's creamy and subtle. I mean a Silver Springs horseradish that's processed and hot and stings your tongue like an angry hornet. But then the sting goes away and you take another bite.

While eating at the Sand Bar on Lake Wissota, my brother and I ran into an old friend of mine from high school, Nancy. A nice hug and catching up from thirty to forty years was a nice dessert to our lunch.

We stopped and saw my friend Tom who lives a couple hundred feet away and then off to see a good hunk of the Arntz family across the road.

Then on to mom in the old folks home where we surprised her with her own hot beef as well as some Saskatoon berry tarts.

Um, what?

My mom was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, 90 years ago on Sept. 5, 1932. She grew up during the Great Depression not knowing the family was poor and during the war when a kid doesn't understand what is war.

Mom left Canada for a United States job sometime in the early 1950s -- it's fuzzy for her now -- and probably hasn't had a Saskatoon berry in 70 years.

According to, the "Saskatoon berry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a deciduous native shrub that grows from western Ontario to British Columbia and the Yukon. The city of Saskatoon takes its name from a Cree word for the sweet, fleshy fruits, which were of prime importance to Aboriginal people and early settlers. On the prairies, saskatoons were a major ingredient in pemmican. Saskatoons are very hardy plants that can survive winter temperatures of -50 to -60º Celsius with a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. Plant size ranges from a small to large shrub or tree 4 to 6 m high."

She loved them, praising the baker who made them.

That baker, whom I've never met, is married to a trucker friend from Canada, Brian, an occasional drinking buddy at Angler's here in Hayward.  In one discussion, Brian found out my mom was from Saskatoon so his wife baked and he trucked in a personal order from my mom.

She took great joy in biting the tasty little cakes that reminded her of youth.

What struck me was a tour of friendship, from friends I've known for more than half a decade to a new friend I met in Hayward, the Canadian trucker.

And how they've all added to my life.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace unto old and new friends my brothers and sisters.

Friday, September 2, 2022

 I fear I have failed all of you, dear readers, during this month of August 2022.

I filed just four posts this last month.

In the beginning -- and I mean neither the Biblical beginning with Adam and Eve nor the scientific beginning of the Big Bang -- I filed a post every day. Mostly because I needed something to do. The hardest part of losing my job was that I love work. And as it was the beginning of the pandemic, I went from doing 12 to 14 hours a day to doing nothing but apply for jobs.

My mind doesn't do well without a goal.

I did apply for multiple jobs a day, I wrote a blog post each day, I worked on a screenplay -- which my script writer daughter said needs work -- as well as a stage play. The last uses the platform of "A Chorus Line" to describe the absolutely true story of how Rasputin's daughter was mauled by a bear in Peru, Indiana. As a side note, my kid likes that one.

But, frankly, life has been busy.

I love that I get paid to read and write for a living. Love it. When I was in fourth grade, when the nun was asking us children what we wanted to do for a living and everyone was saying fireman, astronaut, nurse, I said I wanted to write for a living. The nun said, "Mr. Jackson, no one will ever pay to read what you write."

I now say, these 50 years later, "Screw you, sister."

So I promise I'll do better to detail the minutia of my life.

One of my dreams was to have readers. Now that I have them, I need to do better.

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

Friday, August 26, 2022

God bless Bertha.

My longtime friend, reader and financial supporter from Bloomington sent a letter this week with sweet messages about my ascent out of the deep hole.

From the beginning, she sent me $27 in support each letter -- although I never figured out why the exact figure of $27.

This week, it was a $2 bill. Which is perfectly fine with me. I'm recovering financially and able to pay my bills, eat and have the occasional drink. By occasional, I mean nightly. My parents came of age in the 1950s, where the cocktail before dinner was de rigueur. I adopted their habits heartily.

She wrote that other entities need her help more -- and I agree. But I love she continued the $2 bill trend, only because I've saved everyone I've ever received. The other $25 has often been for healthy food and on a few occasions, some cocktails.

Bertha is happy for the transitions I've made and the stability that comes with it.

So she's taking that extra $25 and sending it to more needy causes.

I agree. 

There have always been more needy causes than me but her generosity and friendship have always buoyed me.

I'm grateful for so many virtual friends who continue to reach out.

As unpleasant as the truthful and now years-long struggle has been, I remain cognizant of Miranda in Shakespeare's "The Tempest." 

"How beauteous Mankind is. Oh brave new world/ that has such people in't."

Bertha is one of them.

Peace until Ukraine and peace and beauteous people unto all of you my brothers and sisters."

Friday, August 19, 2022

I must lift my head more.

Once, while working in Burlington, North Carolina, I developed a bad habit getting a 32-ounce Coke for breakfast at McDonald's every morning before work. Maybe one of the worst habits in my life. But it was too hot to get coffee so that became my caffeine to start the day. One morning I looked up and noticed the person working was a cute young woman. It wasn't a reaction of lust but one of aesthetics. Then I didn't lift my head for a while. One morning, I looked up to notice she was six or seven months pregnant.

At the time, I had been overwhelmed by work and no little depression. I was not being present, living in the world around me.

Again, I find myself working on that.

I lifted my head today to notice three weeks of August are gone in the year 2022. August in my 56th year. I will have fewer and few summers to say, "Next year." I don't plan on croaking soon but I realize I have fewer summers rather than endless seasons.

As noted previously, I've stuffed myself with tomatoes and sweet corn and melon. I go to the farmers market every Monday to enjoy the bounty.

Just this last week, I bought a grill because I find few greater joys than cooking out on a beautiful night. (Which can include 20 below nights in January when I pine for a charcoal fix.)

Not only will I grill full-on flesh from various critters, I do some tricks. Grilled salad, cauliflower steaks, cut peaches with brown sugar rubbed in -- a three-course dinner over coals.

And I will manage my time at work.

I recall going to journalism conferences where editors had a bidding war of who worked the most -- a dubious badge of honor. I once heard someone say they worked 100 hours a week. A quick bit of math indicated that was 17 hours a day, seven days a week -- check the math since I'm a journalist.

That's either someone with control issues or a bullshit claim. I support the latter judgment.

This occurred to me as I sat on the deck of Powell's on the Lake with my friend Tom and his young family Sunday. The sun warmed my face and my gin and tonic soothed my gizzard. "This is good," I noted to myself as the kids hurried about playing games.

In addition to the blog, I will start a journal at home, with pen and paper, noting my favorite parts of the day.

Then I will share it with you, my friends.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and head lifting unto you my brothers and sisters.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

My former company -- which, like Lord Voldemort, shall not be named -- tracked me down last week.

Not for a job or anything. Or a muddled apology. Or just a talk about our feelings and where our relationship stands now. Maybe we'd share a six pack. And Dan Fogelberg would write a song about it.

But it turns out it owes me money.

See, at some point after the company laid me off -- in a couple days I went from "valued colleague" to "synergy" -- they sent me a check.

Here's the thing, though: Since I was kicked out of my apartment at the newspaper, I had no permanent address.

This check for $1.900 (no small amount for me) attempted to follow me around on my sojourn, missing me at my first address here in Hayward, Wisconsin. The company that shall not be named hired another company to track me down.

Here's the thing about tracking me down -- it's not really that hard. You can Google "Rich Jackson" or better yet "Editor Rich Jackson." I admit to Googling myself, I hope not out of narcissism.

I have lived pretty publicly for a long time to the point where I don't expect much privacy. I don't even have blinds on my windows at home. (Neighbors have plastered the exterior of the windows with black crepe. I don't know what I've done to offend them.)

For the months after the layoff, I rambled about in cheap hotel rooms and a friend's cabin. The folks at the Postal Office in Bloomington, Indiana, told me I had to have a home address in order to get a P.O. Box. That didn't make sense to me until a friend noted I had sought a P.O. Box at the office next to a homeless encampment.

I appreciate the ethic the company seeks to pay me what I'm owed to the extent they hired another company to track me down.

I assure you, I will sock away the $1,900 for something important -- like when I want to buy a new grill. And some shiny beads and trinkets. And gin.

Thankfully, the company is paying promptly: sometime in January 2023.

To paraphrase the philosopher Carl Spackler, "So I got that going for me."

Peace unto Ukraine and peace as well as delayed pay unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Post Script:

A Dan Fogelberg take on my situation:

Met my old company in the grocery store
The snow was falling as on cue
I stole behind her in the frozen foods

And that's when I was sued.

It didn't recognize the corporate ID at first
But then its eyes opened and flew
It went to hug me and it spilled its purse
And we laughed until it sued.

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to rue
It gave a subpoena to me as I got out
And I watched as it readied to sue.

"Same old Lang Sign on the dotted line"

Friday, August 5, 2022

 I had a beautiful dinner on the Chippewa Flowage with the Hartsough family Thursday night.

I ran into Katie Hartsough last Sunday at the Holiday gas station in Hayward. She didn't recognize me at first because I somehow went from being a six-foot-two dude with chiseled features to someone who now is mistaken for Danny DiVito. Or worse. Some people ask if I work as a troll under a bridge. "Answer me these questions three."

One of the weird things about living in Hayward, Wisconsin, is that I run into life-long friends haphazardly. Which is better than hazardly.

I noted on Facebook that Hayward for Wisconsinites is like a fallopian tube. Sooner or later, everyone passes through.

She invited me to have dinner with her family who yearly spend a week at the Tiger Musky resort on the Chippewa Flowage, which is similar to "Dirty Dancing" without Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze and abortion.

Life occurs at a slower pace and one has time to breathe, enjoy and drinking crapulous loads of cheap beer.

As I sipped on a can of Crapulent Lite, the sun sinking from hot to cool, we caught up after decades. I also talked to her mom, Maureen, and Katie's amazing sisters. Two of Katie's cool daughters showed up to eat the shadows of a hot day.

The vast dinner included grilled brats, salad, beans, guacamole, some bread nuggets and probably half dozen other thing I don't remember. They sent me away with enough food to feed a fat guy for days.

The evening is among the most relaxing I've had, given I worked every day for at least 40 days.

Maureen, the Hartsough mom, has done an amazing job raising beautiful human beings. Which made the evening even more beautiful.

In 1984, Katie was my prom date and we went as friends. Our entire group went as friends and we did the simple prom, making my mom's spaghetti recipe at Chris Melville's house and going to the dance. Katie noted it was a poor choice to make spaghetti when the women were wearing their best dresses. 

Proving that boys are, and always will be, stupid.

I think we might have danced, but in my mind I simply do not remember any I've ever taken part of. I kind of dance like the monster in "Young Frankenstein." I am stiff and mostly incomprehensible.

After the dance we went to Jon Lancour's house where nothing happened other than young people being with each other.

And then I drove Katie home. Because we went as friends, there was no kiss. But she did grasp my arm and smile.

That was good enough. I'd like to think it was a sensual grasp. 

There we were almost 40 years later catching up. It was really a beautiful evening with her and family.

Before we hugged on my departure, I apologized that the evening sun had made me moist.

We hugged and she whispered in my ear, "You're sticky too. It's like hugging a ball of uncooked bread dough."

She didn't say that. But it's funny so I include it in the story.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and reconnections unto all of you.

Friday, July 29, 2022

 I get so much more from my tomato plant than tomatoes.

Solace, memories, vitamin C.

When I was a kid, one of my earliest memories was my dad's gardens. He grew up in Boyd, Wisconsin, during the Great Depression and gardens were vital, particularly for my grandparents who had five boys.

I was three when I can first remember a memory with an age. (Brain science tells us we can't have a memory of something unless we have language to go along with it. You can't remember a tree if you don't know the word "tree.")

There were two patches, one for an array of vegetables that failed season after season. Critters supped before we could get them. The second patch was solely for tomatoes, which we ate at every lunch and every dinner this time of year.

Both mom and dad usually preferred their tomatoes sliced as an accompaniment, with just a little salt and pepper. Every night so long as it lasted.

For lunch during this time of summer, it was often just tomato sandwiches. Mom toasted bread, layered tomato slices on the bread, sprinkled salt on them and then slathered the other slice of bread with mayo. (My mom used Miracle Whip -- which is not mayo. I use mayo, in fact I go online and order Duke's, something I found in my time in North Carolina. I also add freshly ground pepper to the tomatoes.) When I was in Burlington, NC, the newspaper had a yearly tomato sandwich day, with the tomatoes grown by the father of our features editor, Charity Apple. Best name ever.

In my teens, my dad asked me to be the one to water the tomato patch. He had been warming the water in old times because wisdom was cold water shocked the plants. As he aged, he became more relaxed about gardening efforts -- as we all do. But he asked me to water at dusk so the fluid would have less evaporation. And he told me to "soak the shit out of them." So at 6 p.m. every night, I'd take the hose out and water the entire patch for 45 minutes. Those were good tomatoes.

Some nights in the summer, we had tomato sandwiches and sweet corn.

Saturday, I plan on that for dinner and I'm adding locally grown cantaloupe for dessert.

Ah, the bounty of summer.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and corn and tomatoes and cantaloupe unto you my brothers and sisters. Also radishes. And Daikon. And new potatoes. And ...

Friday, July 22, 2022

The technological challenges during the work professionally and privately have not passed.

But that's a first-world problem, a phrase my daughter taught me when she was about 15.

I'm happy, healthy. I have enough money to get Friday fish fry tonight. Better, Kid is killing it in Hollywood. The weather in northern Wisconsin in July is utterly beautiful. Hot but low humidity. I have a fan for sleeping. I write my weekly columns on a place -- Powell's on the Lake -- where huge windows look west as the sun sets. My colleagues work their butts off to make the best newspapers we can.

So I can't send out emails? I can't access photos when I need them? Mere trivialities.

Those are still stressful when readers expect their newspapers regardless of our problems and the resiliency of my staff confirms to me I'm in the right place at the right time.

Still, I'm allowed to be exhausted.

And that I am.

But I write from a decent restaurant where I know I'll get a righteous fish. I'm having a couple drinks before dinner and then bed awaits. It's more a mattress on the floor still.

Some might view it as nothing more than a dog bed. But it will be mine.

And I shall sleep full and well.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and deep sleep unto you my brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

On my list of problems -- it's a long list folks -- is I'm too flexible

Not physically flexible. I'm 56 years old. Don't exercise. And the only time my muscles get stretched is when I'm being dragged out of some classy joint.

But my unpacking has slowed to a point of not happening at all. In part because I'm working too much. And because I can get along with just a couple of pots and pans, a wardrobe of five work shirts and a mixture of multi-colored undershirts from Walmart.

I once spilled something on a shirt and I noted to the waitress if I couldn't get the stain out, I'd be out a $5 investment.

I have learned all too well to get along with little of my stuff and that needs to change.

It makes we wonder what a normal life would be like. Correct that. Will be like.

One of the first steps to getting better is admitting to a problem.

Except I'm going to wait until it cools off. I have a fan in the apartment that's struggling to keep up with the combination of 92 degrees and a fat man.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and central air unto you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, July 15, 2022

No job is easy -- otherwise we wouldn't get paid and instead call it a hobby.

When I was younger, I ran from job to job because I thought the places I worked were bad. I finally realized the places and jobs weren't bad but my own reaction.

Instead of changing jobs, I changed perspective.

Regardless, there will be bad days and good days, bad week and good weeks. I keep moving through them all understanding the long run will overall be good, great, wonderful.

Tough week this week.

And then two wonderful things happened today.

A coincidence even.

This morning Mrs. Stoppelkamp called and left a message. She's a reader from my time in Burlington, North Carolina and one of the sweetest people I've met in my travels. She called me regularly to talk about columns. She wrote and submitted her own. One day she stopped at the newspaper because during her morning prayers, Mrs. Stoppelkamp heard a message to hug me. It turned out to be my birthday. So I received a nice hug from Mrs. Stoppelkamp.

I called her back today. We caught up and both cried a little bit. We promised to do a better job of staying in touch and even talked about writing poetry together. She's a poet, I am not. My poems stink like someone spilling Limburger cheese on a car manifold and then driving 600 miles. Not uncommon in Wisconsin.

It was a pretty and delicate conversation after a number of brutal unpleasantries.

Within a couple of hours, I received an email from a local reader who has been buying a copy of my local newspaper for the last year on behalf of Mrs. Stoppelkamp. The email asked to continue her subscription so long as she was still with us.

Certainly people like to hate. For some it's their pasttime.

But today, at the end of a long, unpleasant week, I was reminded of the wonderful nature of my fellow humans.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and dear distant friends unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, July 8, 2022


This is the easiest thing I've ever cooked.

I call it Orange Crush cake but it could be called anything.

Per instructions from the ever-wise internet, I took a box of vanilla cake mix and poured it into a bowl. Then I added one can of Orange Crush. No eggs, no oil, no water. I followed baking instructions and voila -- Orange Crush cake.

I didn't eat much myself as sugar kills my gout. But it was fun to make and I enjoyed cooking for others so friends received decent portions.

My mom was the kind of mother who cooked to please and given she had four boys, that wasn't difficult. It was like cooking for pigs at the trough. The dinner bell went out (literally a dinner bell) and we sloughed to the trough.

And it was wonderful. I spent decades trying to coerce recipes from her but there were none. A handful of this, a pound of that, a quick pour and then a touch of herbs. (In our house, because of dad's touchy stomach, herbs were sparse. Mom didn't even use salt or pepper. When I discovered such exotic spices, my world opened up.)

Cooking is homage to my mother, who fed four boys on little money and full guts. I didn't understand the phrase "Jewish mama," but that's who she was.

That's why I try to cook, not just for me but others. It's a warming feeling to feed other people who appreciate what I've wrought.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and full stomachs unto my brothers and sisters.

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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Talked to Kid tonight. She’s just so goddamned smart. And I made her laugh twice. Twice. That’s a new record. I’m no longer proud. I’m in awe."

-- A quote from my Facebook page last night

I remain forever amazed by Kid's knowledge, not just her fancy book learnin' but current events, literature, politics and her cultural literacy.

The latter is no longer one of my strengths.

Some time ago, she asked if I knew Dua Lipa.

I said, "Yes, that's Latin for 'two lips.'"

It is not.

I particularly appreciated she was aware of current events in Los Angeles where she now lives. I imagine she learned from me by watching that you learn local news by reading it. From a reliable source.

If you are one who thinks a reliable source is someone at the bar, or some online cat, you would be wrong. The process of journalism includes fact checking and, when errors occur, corrections.

See if you can find that on television.

In 56 minutes -- I keep track -- we hit at least 60 subjects. We tend to riff off each other as in jazz but instead of notes, we have information.

She's enjoying living in the entertainment capital of the world, even if on short wages. We traded recipes -- she has one of those Instapots or whatever you call them. I have pots and pans but all food ends up being the same.

We talked about writing, a craft that is difficult. I've been trying to write since high school and I'm not sure is any easier after 40 years. "The best advice I can give you is sit down and write," I said. Note the advice was not solicited.

I'm so pleased with the human she's become and her laser focus on her career and the future while also being present in the moment.

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

Friday, June 10, 2022

 I did something different this week -- twice.

I went home for lunch and relaxed for a little bit during the day.

Not unlike a Junior Mint, it was quite refreshing.

That used to be quite common for me going back to college. Somewhere, as jobs changed and life happened, it became common for me to work through lunch or get takeout -- and go back to work. Even the periods where I needed to save money, I'd bring in a sandwich or something and work through lunch.


That's no break. It's all work all the time. 

I couldn't believe how afternoons changed for me on those two days. I felt invigorated rather than worn down. I also controlled what I ate for lunch. Instead of something from fast food or, worse, a gas station. I hate something that wouldn't slide out of me later in the afternoon.

For writers, that's the nicest description of the situation -- ever.

It all comes down to taking care of oneself and I've failed that on many levels for decades. So lunch at home is my new, first goal. Mind you, this is a small town where the commute is about three minutes. I can do this.

The other day, I had some frozen pizza leftovers and today I had a nice ham and cheese with a side of kosher dill pickles.

That's high-livin', baby.

The best part is catching up reading a recent magazine or whatever book I might be reading. And I get to catch a breath. It was refreshing to the point I didn't understand the feeling until later in the day.

I shall expand my learning on this issue.

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

Friday, June 3, 2022


Water calms me.

And we have plenty here. There are 300 lakes with an hour's drive of Hayward. Every time I turn a corner, I come across another lake. I wonder if early settlers began to run out of names. Thus we have Big Round Lake and Little Round Lake next to it. In fact there are two Little Round Lakes and Two Beaver Lakes. And don't confuse either of the Lost Lakes with Lost Land Lake.

It's confusing for a newcomer.

So I have a goal of making sure I'm on the water at least once a week.

Above is a view from one of my favorite spots -- the deck of Powell's on Round Lake. Wonderful people running it and good food with a beautiful view of the water. It's a great place to write a column.

I keep promising me I will take better care of myself. I will stop blaming work for taking too much of my time. I'm an adult and, like a 3-year-old, I'm in charge of myself. That means more live music, more fresh food from the Farmer's Market (it opens Monday) and more time on the water. This might include a few drinky poos. (Thanks, Jim Herman, for that phrase.)

Summer is not the time to relax, though. Our population will triple over the summer months as 53 percent of our housing stock serves as second homes. So we add a magazine every two weeks about what's going on. There are events and festivals every weekend -- as well as a fishing contest of some kind four to five times a month. I've been thinking about holding a McDonald's Filet-O- Fish contest each Friday night. What does the winner get? Another Filet-O-Fish -- extra tartar.

I'll find my spots, though. Which inevitably will include time on the water. And perhaps some fire in the sky.

Peace unto Ukraine. And peace and water unto you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

 I talk to Kid last night -- the second time in a week.

That's a new record, at least since before she went to college.

While at Emerson she was so busy with classes, as well as working with a well-known comedy troupe and other projects like writing for the annual awards show -- and doing stand-up around Boston.

She actually sounds relaxed, despite her new full-time job working as an assistant to an important person. But because she's only doing one thing, she actually has time to do her own writing and her boss has offered to read anything she writes. That's a particularly cool trait in Hollywood.

Kid lives over a Thai restaurant in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Thai Town. I'm not sure I'd do well there. I'd probably eat their everyday and talk around town smelling of pad thai -- which is probably a couple steps up from my current body odor.

Just tracking her down was like chasing a feral kitten. The harder you try, the less likely it's going to work.

So talking to her has been a joy during what's been an exceptionally busy time at the newspapers and our magazine.

I worked every day though the three-day holiday including a full-on 10 hours on Memorial Day. I did not get a chance to have one bit of grilled food. That's probably best for my health but not so much for my mood. 

Packing continues, albeit more slowly than I wanted. I keep finding little treasures as well as mystifying pieces and parts. Just the other day, a box contained what looked like little tampons. Turns out they were filters for my coffee machine. So coffee tampons? (Great band name.)

The herbs are doing well -- except for the damn basil. And that's my favorite. I use basil like others use salt. I make this zucchini-goat cheese-fresh basil frittata that would make you plotz. It looks to be a good summer for my one tomato plant that's already flowering and the thyme, which is already growing over the container.

I apologize for being gone so long. Frankly, it's been a little overwhelming.

And I appreciate those who sent private emails to check on me.

Please remember that I have survived thus far.

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

Friday, May 20, 2022

 I took off today so I could do massive unpacking.

Turns out I unpacked massive amounts of useless stuff that I don't remember using, buying or even know what the hell it was.

Sure, the dozens of fountain pens were familiar, even if I never used them. Many bottles of ink had not exploded during storage -- which would only have damaged other bottles of ink. Today I unpacked some pencils made out of bamboo made for dipping into the many bottles of ink I have.

Which leads me to the question: What the hell was I thinking?

I found something in a box today that appears to be a music-playing device as well as a thumb drive. And maybe a garage door opener. And perhaps a portal to another world.

Who knew?

I've decided unpacking will be about just taking stuff out of boxes, and then determining what I need -- which is next to nothing. 

Why did I move a box of business cards from Gary -- and then to Oil City, Pennsylvania, and Burlington, North Carolina, and then Bloomington, Indiana, and then here -- Hayward, Wisconsin?

Because I've been lazy about letting go. 

That's going to change. As I unpack, I'm throwing away everything that can't be taken to Salvation Army. 

Except I'm going to keep my pens and the bottles of ink and those bamboo pencils and the six typewriters.

Anything I can use for writing.

I'm also going to keep the voluminous pans and cooking equipment for making any number of dishes. Right now, asparagus is coming up so I'll be eating that for a couple months.  I have a nice pan to cooking that and making a decent frittata. 

And I'll settle. This is my last place. No more moving. 

Peace unto Ukraine. And peace and stability unto you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022



Today I celebrate hitting a quarter-million pageviews.

This odd journey over these last two years has brought me much joy, new friendships, a fair amount of free beer from friends and strangers. And certainly no little pain, all documented here in 333 posts.

Oh, what a strange trip it’s been.

I had not anticipated this as my last blog had 55 pageviews. I just needed something to do.

It’s not always been pleasant, as I promised myself to be truthful about the good and the bad and some of it has been more personal than I care to write publicly. I am, after all, a son of the Wisconsin Northwoods. We’re only allotted two to four feelings per guy. That’s a weight-based allotment.

Some of it has been downright painful for me. Describing various bouts of deep clinical depression – a condition I’ve dealt with for 25 years – was as painful as any writing I’ve ever done. I completed those entries, at least satisfied by the truth of it.

Even as I gained employment and a place to live, I kept writing and then as fate would have it, I became displaced again. And then had to find a permanent address.

And as long as I have readership, I continued to write.  When I was in Fourth Grade, the teacher was asking students what they wanted to be when they grew up. I said wanted to be a writer. “Mr. Jackson, no one will pay to read what you write,” said the teacher at the Catholic grade school.

That turned out to be wrong as I’ve been a professional journalist for 30 years this month. And while I don’t get paid to write this blog, I will continue to write – or at least type – while there are folks patient with my typos. (I usually write and edit the blog while I have a couple of drinks at the end of the day. Go figure.)

The friends and connections I've made warm my heart (I'm thinking of you, Bertha). The criticism, I slough off given I was first criticized in a newspaper in high school -- 40 years ago.

And you know what? I'm going to keep going.

It's been an exercise in being publicly truthful about bad circumstances and I now see more light at the end of the tunnel. There's always been light but sometimes it's been a pin prick as viewed through a pinhole camera.

Thank you, dear readers for joining me on my journey.

Peace unto the Ukraine and peace and thanks unto you my brothers and sisters.


Monday, May 16, 2022


Part of moving is settling in.

Which is also a nice way of avoiding some unpacking, which I believe is going to go on until I die.

I spent Saturday and Sunday putting up some herb boxes and planted them mostly on Sunday while I enjoyed the first decently warm day since last July. (It is, after all, northern Wisconsin.) I waited until 5 p.m. to enjoy a beverage. Almost 5 p.m.

The herbs are rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil and BC bud. Shhhh on the last one.

A close look at the photo also shows a beefsteak tomato plant in a pot -- the woman who sold it to me said it will last until the end of August and I should get 100 tomatoes off the plant. She also sold me a pot of salad lettuce -- you can see that perched on the corner of the deck railing.

My friend Kellie gave me a nice outdoor table plus two chairs, With the two chairs that used to be my living room furniture, I now have a nice little outdoor set waiting only for me to buy a grill. What's that you say? I don't need a grill? I'm a son of the Wisconsin northwoods. People like me have better relationships with grills than with other human beings.

Imagine a steak cooking on the grill while I take some fresh rosemary, a clove of garlic and mash that together with mortar and pestle for a fresh steak topping. I salivated while writing that.

On a nice day, when not working, you'll find me on the herb deck this summer.

Enjoying normalcy. I'll report back on what that's like.

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

Friday, May 13, 2022

 I'm going all-in old fogey here.

So happy to be home, where I can have my little patterns. I understand the psychological reason why change becomes more difficult as we age. I have that in me.

But I also have additional reasons for the comfort of a routine.

First, I really haven't been able to have that for at least three years now and I probably could go back even longer as I have moved too much. Let me say this so the reader can understand: I HAVE MOVED TOO MUCH.

There you go yet it is the life I've lived.

In the past, my patterns have included every Saturday morning, I made a cheese omlette with a side of cantaloupe and either decent coffee or tea. My Saturday night was making dinner while listening to "Prairie Home Companion." Sunday morning, I'd eat breakfast out while reading the Sunday New York Times. My kid, the recent college graduate, at age 10 referred to the Sunday Times as "dad's girlfriend" because we couldn't begin the day without me picking her up.

I'm not so much and old fogey, though, as setting parameters about how life is lived. I read as a young man that Albert Einstein had seven suits that were exactly the same. The point was he didn't have to waste thought on what he'd wear that day.

I am no Einstein. 

But the lesson I learned was I ought to concentrate time and thought on important issues and forego the small stuff.

A regular routine does that for me. It reduces the pressure of change.

Routine also allows me to bask in more special moments that matter more than the mundane. I love my friends and family. I love eating Italian in Boston with Kid who would not allow me to tell Mafia jokes because, as she said, "they are here."

So I am home. I will settle in. I'll maintain a schedule.

Then I will enjoy something strange, miraculous, maybe even life-changing fun.

And I'll tell the story here.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and funky life stories unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

 An alert reader has asked why I've dropped "the" in front of "Ukraine."

It's because another alert reader, Ginger, who is affiliated with Indiana University and one of my many Bloomington friends. She noted that Ukrainian students at the school have noted the difference.

Russians for decades have used "the" in front of "Ukraine" to imply the country is merely a region of Russia. This an insidious campaign that goes back to Stalin, who sent millions of Russians into other countries in the Soviet Republic to undermine their autonomy.

By using just "Ukraine," we acknowledge the sovereignty of Ukraine. I've only recently learned this.

Another IU professor educates us at this website: The Politics of “Ukraine” Versus “the Ukraine” - SAPIENS

Thanks, IU folks, for all you've done for me -- which often included buying me beer.

Pease unto Ukraine and peace and education unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Monday, May 9, 2022

 A homeless editor ought not be involved in modern travel.

I used to fly often -- always on the company dime -- and considered myself sophisticated. Hell, savvy.

But this trip was essentially a confused son of the Wisconsin Northwoods wondering through vast crowds of people until some nice person notices the look on my face and asks, "Can I help you, sir?" I'm not unlike Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. Your world frightens and confuses me.

Someone undressed me -- and not just with their eyes. Removing my belt, some stomach pushed my pants on a race to the ground. Despite my age, my hands were quick enough to catch them. I had to take off my shoes just like I was at my friend Kellie's house. At least she always has a bottle of free gin at her place.

These major airports serve as little cities, moving tens of thousands of through them each day. But I've grown used to living in smaller cities and love my final home in Hayward, Wisconsin, a town of 2,400. 

I'm not sure I care for the sophisticated life, though it was certainly worth any pain to see Kid graduate before she heads to Hollywood. (A phrase that will remain forever odd to write.)

I will say the big airports are great people watching. I saw more faces, heard more languages and can't imagine the colors and creeds. Oh, the humanity.

Somewhere out there, a blogger whom I passed is writing about this guy they saw at the airport who was red-faced and wearing a huge blue shirt. "It looked like one of the Bluemen stung by a bee," that person is writing. (That's a good line.)

I write this from Boston Logan, land in Minneapolis at 6:30 p.m., hit home at 9 p.m.


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

Sunday, May 8, 2022


I introduce graduate Kid to the world.

As we parents and grandparents sat through the solemn ceremony, I largely sobbed and snotted.

The combination of a cold, Boston allergens and and my sodden heart combine to let loose the jets of my eyes and nose. During one significant blow during a quiet time, the lady in front of me turned and gave me the stink eye. Perhaps she was hit by a little of my apple sauce.

Needless to say, the Homeless Editor stuck out like a sore thumb -- covered in snot. 

I'm so proud of what she's accomplished as it's a testament to what she's overcome in her road here. She's a tough little broad who happens to be quite brilliant in anything she chases. And kind. And funny.

Here's Kid with mom, who was gracious enough to pay for me to fly here and put me up. Se kindly put up with the sobbing and snotting, which I did so prodigiously I became a less-desirable graduation mate.

Kid's mom had finals this week and planned for the whole crew to get to the graduation. She shared a tendency of my Boston cabbie to answer problems with a request from the Lord: "Aw, Jesus."

Kid took me out for lunch, because of my continual climb out of my difficulties, to a legitimate Italian joint in Boston's North End. We each enjoyed gnocchi and then came the appearance of what appeared to be a Boston don, seen over Kid's shoulder. Kid insisted I not make mafia jokes because there were likely some in the restaurant, perhaps including the guy in the track suit at the front door. "Father," she said, using the term she uses when she's serious, "don't do that here." She forbade me from doing an impression of the Godfather; telling the waiter that the whole meal was "what do ya call it? Buttafuoco!"; and telling the don behind her he should "leave the gun; take the cannoli."

(Sidenote: "Buttafuoco!" would be a great name for a musical.)

What a beautiful day.

My heart is full and not just with gnocchi.

It's love of Kid and life and aid of friends and family and at least one glass of Prosecco. 

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