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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.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

I felt like Odysseus.

My trip to see Clare graduate, paid for entirely by my ex-wife, has been a series of obstacles. Certainly not like the Ithacan king of yore, also known as Ulysses. 

Friday night as I geared up for the trip packing maybe six items, I found I had lost my Debit card  -- that's where my money lay but only in a spare and barren place where currency has not taken root.

Imagine tearing up an apartment that's already torn up from a second unpacking in at least a year. I walked through my steps during the day. Then after five hours I realized how much money I had on the card. Where did I determine that? Ah! Walgreens, where I was picking up cold medication because for some reason whenever I make a trip, I get a cold. 

I checked out the route days earlier but when I clicked into Google Maps this morning, I asked for directions to "Minneapolis airport." Google Maps has lost most of its snarky commentary so it did not note the airport is a sprawling place. Of course I ended up in some back alley where deliveries of myriad  goods are made. I imagine it's the place where my friend Mickey Modl and I once picked  up a body for the funeral home where he worked. We didn't lock the car in Hudson, Wis., on return because we figured any thief deserved what he wrought.

That means I missed my first flight but American Airlines, which offered excellent service throughout my trip, rebooked me to fly through O'Hare to Boston. (By the way the names of those two cities are not pronounced the same manner as the rest of the country. The rest of us don't add extra syllables.)

I haven't travelled via airplane since 2010 when I was flown gratis to Los Angeles to be part of an exercise in investigative health care reporting. I was roomed in room 666, a bad omen. Nothing happened although there was some pig blood running down walls. No big deal. In the Wisconsin Nort'woods, we make blood sausage out of such a thing. 

I was no longer used to the stutters, shifts and lunging airplanes evidence on takeoff on landing. The only thing that assuaged me was the realization is that is how I walk by about 9 p.m.

Almost every night.

My connection in O'Hare -- bigger than most countries -- was wrong but fixed and I landed on a windy night in Boston with a thud.

And an appreciation that after the last three years, that difficulties aren't the end, but only obstacles to overcome.

Then there was the cab driver.

He waved me over, with meaty hands and long hair so greasy I could have made French fries in it.

I showed him the address of the hotel.

"Aw, Jesus," he said.

He had opened the trunk of the car and asked if I needed to put my miniscule backpack in it. I said no.

"Aw, Jesus," he said.

At first I thought I my body would be found in Southie, with already fat birds pecking at my body. "I sense a heavy fish fry taste with undertones of Jack Daniels."

But it turned out he said "Jesus" about everything. That was his coping mechanism. His arch enemies were red lights -- that's natural for cab drivers -- the New England Patriots, whom he loves, and young drivers. And his billing system, which he fought with the ferocity of a young Tom Brady.

I made it to my hotel which is so high above my standards I didn't know what to do. Thankfully, my ex-wife had warned them to be aware of a disheveled and confused man who appeared to have walked out from "The Field of Dreams."

"Can I play me some ball?"

Needing a cheap place to eat, the Albanian bartender, Gizeem, told me to go to 4th Street which sits kitty corner from the hotel.

I write from here where I'm having a couple drinks before eating what appears to be an excellent cheeseburger. I texted Clare about my location and she responded "4th Street is lit." As a lifelong editor, I responded "4th Street is lighted."

The bartender asked what I needed. I said, a Jack Daniels Manhattan, a couple extra bar napkins and emotional support.

She failed to give the latter so I pointed that out and she asked what I needed.

I said I needed her to pat my hand and say, "You're going OK, fatty."

Without hesitation, she patted my hand and said, "You're doing OK.

What a trip thus far.

I might not be Odysseus but I'd certainly go through anything to be at kid's graduation.

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

 May 1 passed without a word from me.

That's the two-year anniversary of this blog but I'm up to my hind end in work, unpacking and getting ready to go see Clare graduate in Boston. (I apologize for writing "hind end" for my sensitive readers.) 

These two years have been been a trip, baby. One that challenged every single facet of me, energy, intellect, perseverance, shit, sanity.

But I'm here and have been blessed along this long road far beyond my capability to understand. Friends and strangers have helped with money, places to stay, moving my stupid collection of books and typewriters and too much cooking equipment.

They have listened and read my stories and my whining.

There have been setbacks but those have always been outnumbered by joy.

While writing this tonight at a local drinking establishment, I talked with friends and we experienced bountiful laughter and closer friendship,

I'm now in a place where I sense stability as I haven't in some time. And I am welcomed.

I spoke to the local Rotary Club today, many of whom welcomed me a year after my arrival but quoted from past columns they remember. As someone who writes, my heart is warmed.

And as someone who considers himself a writer, tries to be a writer, still wants after half a century to be a writer, this blog still gives me succor. If people want to read my meandering missives, I'll fill that space.

The only misgiving would be that my obituary -- as editor I get 10 percent off but only kid gets to enjoy that benefit -- will include "homeless editor." It is my hope the obit starts with "good father."

And so I fly out to Boston Saturday to see my daughter graduate Sunday. She's promised to take me out to dinner Sunday and then I fly back Monday. I intend to ask when she visits me this summer, in God's County of the Wisconsin Nort'woods, she stay for awhile, even up to a month. She can write in the quiet of our place, perhaps joining me in writing together. I'll also ask her to write a blog post here about what she's learned of me from this blog -- essentially a public diary during this troubled time.

I'm going to blog through the trip to Boston as I haven't been on a flight since 2010 and about the import of seeing my little newborn turn into this intellectual powerhouse a mere 21 years later.

I promise you I will sob for most of the trip so I'm investing in facial tissues and will continue to hydrate. With what I will not promise.

These two years have been the most amazing in my life, for good and bad reasons.

Yet I'm here and look forward not just to the next two years will be but the next two days and two weeks and two months.

A reader sent me a link that the phrase "the Ukraine" is outdated so I shall not use it again. (As an aside, I'm outdated generally.)

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

Monday, May 2, 2022


"Hi, my name is Rich -- I have a typewriter problem."

"Hi, Rich."

My problem became evident this weekend when I unpacked my fifth typewriter. And the photo above is the typewriter I keep at work, technically the sixth.  (See, when you're hiding typewriters, it's a problem.)

The addiction has been ongoing. I once had 40 typewriters dating all the way back to 1892 -- just 20 years after the introduction of the first commercial machine.

But I was moving from Richmond, Ind., to Valparaiso, Ind., without a team of movers and saw the collection as a bigger pain in the butt than it was worth. When I told my friend Angie I had to sell the typewriters, she gasped audibly. Yes, we treated the sale as a death in the family.

I held on to just two, my first, purchased at the newspaper in Wisconsin Rapids for $5 and ably brought back to working condition by a retired repairman who likely worked on the first model. The other is a bright pink Royal purchased for my kid when she was into pink, about age five.

She once invited a friend over to play "newspaper" -- not unlike what I play -- and her friend lightly brushed the keys as one does with the modern computer.

"No," Clare said. "You have to plunge them" echoing my words and how she was raised.

Slowly, slowly, the problem return. Friends would give me one and then I'd see a pristine Underwood at a good price. All it needed was a ribbon, which you can still buy in the dark corners of the internet.

I do not have plans to rid myself of any of the current machines, as all have a use for different purposes. I'm using an electric as I take notes about a future book project that I believe, humbly, will change the world.

For now, though, no more typewriters. I can control myself.

I swear.

Peace unto the Ukraine and peace and a decent writing machine unto you my brothers and sisters.