31 December 2013

I'm not the reader I think I am

Just finished browsing the Modern Library's 100 Best books list. It's embarrassing. I've read 3 from the non-fiction list and 4 from the novels list. What's worse, all were read in high school and college. None since then.

Hmmm, perhaps some sort of fodder for a new years resolution, some reading to do by my ample supply of incandescent lights.

In DC, dim bulbs are always in fashion

When the new light bulbs came out I thought they were a great idea. Bought a bunch of them. Decent lighting and money saving in the long run. Great innovation. It was easy to see that they would eventually replace the old bulbs.

But some people couldn't let consumers decide. The government had to mandate that the old bulbs go away. Tomorrow they are no more. So for people like me who can afford to pay a little extra its not big deal. For the very poorest however, the cheap bulbs at a quarter a piece, would always be the way to go. So much for the compassion for the poor that the government claims. It wasn't there when this mandate (aka "efficiency standards") came out under the Bush Administration and it isn't there today.

One of the fundamental problems of liberalism is this smug self-righteousness. The attitude that not only do we have ideas that are better than yours, but we are better people than you because of them. And we will make you accept them.

I was glad to buy the new bulbs when it was my choice, not so happy when I found out my choice had been taken away. So today I cleaned out the stock of 60 watt bulbs at Fleet Farm. I have 164 of them that should last me for a few years, or until Atlas finally shrugs.

27 December 2013

Brining the turkey

I always brine a turkey when I am smoking it. This year we brined and then roasted in the oven. I am now convinced that brining is one of the keys to a great turkey.

What was interesting was that we cooked this turkey a day before Christmas in order to free up the oven for other things, and it was just to cold to enjoy smoking it outside.

This was a 20 lb turkey that was brined for 48 hrs. There are several good recipes online, ours was simple with 2 gallons of water, a couple of cups each of salt and brown sugar, and some sloshes of worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and a couple of oranges.

On Christmas day, we looked online for advice on how to properly reheat day old turkey and keep the flavor. Found some good advice from the New York Times (finally) and followed it. They suggested focusing on the big meaty chunks of the turkey and not try to reheat the whole thing. Good thinking. Got four big chunks of the turkey, two breast halves and the two leg/thigh pieces. Turkey was nice and moist and while not exactly the same as usual, it was very close.

The brining kept the turkey moist and with a full rich turkey taste. It is several days later and the turkey is still almost as good as on day one.

26 December 2013

Another Christmas Past

Another Christmas is past. Another one for the ghost of Christmas past to visit if I ever find myself reliving the story of Scrooge.

This was a good Christmas. Times shared with family and a time to share both Christmas eve and Christmas day with friends of my children.

2013 was a year full of trials, not so much for me but for those I love very much. It was a year to pray hard for those close to us.

There are several moments about this year that I will never forget. One in particular was a prayer I heard over the phone. A prayer that hard times, terrible times, would be turned to glorious times as a period of great spiritual growth.

It was a year when I learned why God created and blessed the family. This year brought some of the hardiest laughs and most heart wrenching tears our family has ever heard. Through it all I tried to give thanks, which is so much easier when you are a bystander and not the sufferer. The one who suffered the most in our family is my hero, who is showing me day by day what true surrender to the will of God involves.

It was also a year to find Jesus in places I did not expect and in faces I did not know.

21 November 2013

Finally, I'm fat.

About six weeks ago my doctor told me that, based on my body mass index, I was obese. That's a hard word to take. But hey, according to the chart, I had spent the last two years steadily creeping from fat to obese.

Don't even ask me how this happens to a guy who runs every day. It should be impossible. But not for a guy who loves to smoke pork as much as I do. Running just helps me eat more. Anyway, for the last few weeks my goal is to be fat again. Not obese, just fat.

Hooray. Oh frabjous day, callooh, callay. I'm FAT!

And after two days on the road with Mother Delta, traveling fat is much easier than traveling obese.

Oh, Thanksgiving, get behind me, fast.

31 October 2013

Baseball season is over, again

Baseball season is over. At least it is for the Cardinals. For the other team the season will linger a little while as they enjoy the aura of success that surrounds them. For a few days their fans get to contemplate a possible repeat next season. It is nice that my team was playing until the last pitch of the season, but terrible that they were not on the winning side.

They had opportunities. The team that won was not that much better, but was better when in counted, in four of the past six games. For the Cardinals the hits were not turned into runs and the pitching did not dominate like it could have. So it's over.

As bad as this day is, in the big picture it is a minor event. It still hurts, though Jason Motte wasn't bothered too much by the loss and was quick to tweet congrats to the sox. From his twitter feed...
  • "It's officially offseason baseball fans!!! "
  • "1st: Congrats on great year. 2nd: I had a blast watching our this year. Great guys. Happy to be a part of this team."

Well that's sweet. Maybe he can just stay in Boston, eat some beans, dig some clams, make some chowdah, take a woodworking class at Harvard, vote for every socialist on the ballot, put a JFK picture on the mantel and pretend to be an American.

Sigh.... cubs fans never get to go through this. The winning or the stench of losing. A cub would be happy just to be there, but not a Cardinal (except of course for Jason Motte).

Why do we get so emotionally wrapped up in the results of a game?   Its not like I lost a loved one, or a job, or wrecked a car. But in a way that's what a lot of life is like, a river of small victories and defeats that viewed individually don't amount to much. But when added up they tip the scales in a way that determines how much of this life we enjoy. 
Baseball seems more real than it is. It becomes part of how we measure ourselves. I tell you I am a Padres fan and you know I live in San Diego. I tell you I am a fan of the Cardinals or cubs or braves or yankees, or any of the other big footprint teams, and a different picture is painted. 
The love of baseball is good. But in a negative sense, it has a way of tying us to this world, of making us feel comfortable in a place that is not our home. Like we belong here.  

12 October 2013

A Weber Grille makes a fine smoker, in a pinch

There are times when i'm away from home and wish I had my clunky old smoker with me. That's not possible but there are great ways to improvise when the real equipment isn't available. A Weber grille makes a great smoker for when your needs are small, the weather is great, and you just want an afternoon to show off your improvisational skills.

There's no real magic to this. You just put a dozen coals in one corner of the grille and light em up. Add the meat on the far side of the grille. Feed a few coals from time to time and keep the wet woodchips piled on. Turn the top vent so that it's about halfway open and on the opposite side of the coals and woodchips. That forces the smoke to travel over the meat and out the top.  Keep an eye on the temp for that magical 225 number.

We did this over two weekends at my brother's house in Charlotte. Last weekend it was a small pork shoulder and a chicken. This weekend it was two chickens and a pack of bacon. All of it came out great and my brother now thinks I'm the McGuyver of barbecue.

The bacon was a last minute thing. We bought a pack of the cheapest bacon and tossed it on for a few hours. After about three hours we started sampling and had eaten most of it by the six hour point. The chickens were smoked for about six hours. At the five hour point I stood them up on their legs to drain all the juices that had accumulated in the cavity. The little pack of tin foil that you see has the liver, gizzard, etc. They weren't that great and I wouldn't mess with them next time.

Two brothers, a makeshift smoker, perfect fall weather, cigars handcrafted by Onyx and Hoyo DeMonterey, an always-brewing pot of fresh coffee, and Cardinals baseball in the background. Top that off with a growing list of answered prayers and its hard to imagine a better weekend.

30 September 2013

Post season

It is almost October and my team is still playing.

Rummaging through a storage bin yesterday I counted the numbers of gloves.

Nine, including one catchers mitt. Perfect.

 I wonder where they were when last used in a real game? The field at Fishpot Creek? Ballwin, Ellisville or Manchester ball parks? That information is long lost, but not the love of the game.

Go Cards!

28 September 2013

In all things give thanks

Is the woman in this picture praying for healing, giving thanks for a coin dropped in her cup...or, might she be giving thanks for her affliction?

The Bible says Christians should give thanks for all things. A very hard command to follow.

So we thank God for things we don't understand, for the pain of a loved one, for personal hurts and crises, for being mistreated.

Too often we wait until a crisis has passed and then give thanks, a sort of "Whew, God, thanks for letting me get by that one!" Real faith is shown by the one who gives thanks in the middle of the darkness, before knowing the outcome, when at his weakest, lifts his face to heaven in thanks.

For the victories we do not see, for the work of God withheld from our eyes, for the joys that are still far away, for the purifying work of tribulation on our souls, we thank you God.

I am witnessing this true faith in the life of someone I love very much.

22 August 2013

This headline is coming about 15 years too late to help my wallet ....

From CNBC....

Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale and American Eagle Outfitters have fallen out of fashion with fickle U.S. teen shoppers and may not win back their business anytime soon.

The retailers, known as the "3 A's," have long been popular for their cool basics like jeans, hoodies and t-shirts. But young shoppers are now less interested in their logo-centric clothes and more eager to shop for electronics or go to low-cost, fast-fashion chains like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M that offer greater variety more quickly.

They certainly cost me, and other breadwinners like me, a few bucks... But probably not as badly as I want to remember it. Knowing their Mom like I do, I'm sure they heard "no" at least twice as often as "yes".

I guess every generation of parents gets the privilege of financing some fad of their offspring.

15 August 2013

The Creed at Lunch

Yesterday I stood on the sidewalk in downtown Minneapolis. Just paused for a minute after lunch to watch the crowds pass by outside Target.

I realized my ipod was in my pocket. I turned it on and for some strange reason felt compelled to listen to The Apostles Creed three or four times. You see people differently when you look in their eyes while hearing the words....

Like the hobo...
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,

And the hobo's buddy, with the bandaged hand...
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. 

The baby in the stroller
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

The giggling girls
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

The business man
I believe in the Holy Spirit, 

The cop
the holy Catholic Church, 

the bus driver
the communion of saints, 

the little kids
the forgiveness of sins, 

the woman in the wheelchair
the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

and me

12 August 2013

Lusting after wrinkles and superheroes

We all understand that propensity for young couples in love to hold hands. It's normal, natural. It's even somewhat acceptable for them, at a certain age, to fawn over each other. Even tough guys can be coerced into baby talk and will respond to a silly or syrupy pet name from that special girl. It get it. We all do it at some point. It's part weird, part sweet, and it's part of the glue that keeps the world together and helps assure the survival of the species. But you do get to a time in life when this stuff seems a little creepy. 

From Philadelphia to Chicago yesterday I was smack dab in the middle of the creep show. Two people in their fifties who cant keep their hands off each other, all the way from Philadelphia to Chicago. Fortunately I slept some. But when I wasn't.... he's rubbing her leg, she's stroking the hair on the back of his neck, or on his arms, or playing with his whiskers. They squeeze and they hug and they kiss, along with whispers of some cutesy little banter back and forth. While he seemed to tire of it after a while, I don't think her hands were off him the whole flight. They certainly didn't notice me or any of the other passengers around them. They werent newlyweds, their wedding rings were too old. Just too old people who have tumbled into a teenage infatuation. And oblivious to the stares from the real world.

Had it not been for this episode, the Chicago to Minneapolis flight would have stood out more, for it was a bit odd as well. The guy behind me struck up a conversation with a stranger across the aisle about superheroes. This was a grown man, late 30's, early 40's. Starts out talking about his ex-wife and kids but soon he launched into fantasy land. Before we hit the tarmac the two had covered Superman, Batman (who is not really a superhero), Green Hornet (ditto),  The Torch, The Flash, the whole Justice League and the Avengers, Star Trek characters, you name it.

Would have gladly taken comic book guy for the whole flight and left the creepy lovers to someone else.

23 July 2013

TV movies i cant stop watching

No matter how many times ive seen these weekend reruns, they always stop me from flipping channels any further....

Shawshank Redemption
Christmas Vacation
Coal Miner's Daughter
Back to the Future I, II or III
Men in Black I
Groundhog Day
Independence Day
Paul Blart Mall Cop

09 July 2013

The nanny state never sleeps

 The DFW airport is always on the lookout for children on ("shudder" "shreak") stairs. Yesterday this was seen near gate D10.

There was, of course, no construction in sight, and even if there had been.....

I wonder who has this job, and how many people have had it in the last year.

24 June 2013

The pieces are coming together

Enough about IRS witch hunts and phone intercepts.

The house, the lake, the woodchipper, the riding lawn mower, the well, the dock, the lift, the boat... the pieces of our escape out of the city are coming together.

This was the weekend I was on the boat almost everyday and caught the first fish on the Lake, a couple of small-mid size northern pike. A good start.

It was also a weekend of family gathering with my brother in town, who likes to stay off the grid and shall remain nameless. He found us breakfast in Waconia when the power went out and also was full of some sound boating advice. Power was out for about three hours, not too bad. In any event that would not have affected the smoking plans. I must admit they turned out pretty good. Ribs and pork shoulder on the smoker, its getting where I can almost do this blindfolded.

Regarding bbq, this year I began using a rack for the ribs to stand them sideways. Boy does that make a difference. Not sure what it is but i think it has to do with a more even cooking. Nice and tender. 5-6 hours at around 225. No fancy rubs on the ribs or shoulder. Just salt and pepper. 

One last note. The shoulder and ribs had been frozen for about a month. I have smoked both fresh meat and the frozen then thawed. I cannot tell the difference. I guess I'd need to have them side by side. I'll keep freezing so I dont have to run to Costco every weekend.  

19 June 2013

Thank you, IRS

Thank you IRS for checking up on the various organizations that want non-profit status. I work with non-profits every day. The overwhelming majority are wonderful groups of caring, dedicated people committed to improving society. But every once in a while one or two of them have me scratching my head.

I always wondered if anyone checked to verify the validity of 501(C)3 applications. I'm glad to find that the IRS does. They asked the kinds of questions I would ask; when do you meet?, who are your members?, what do you discuss?, explain how this is educational, can I have a sample of your material?, your meeting minutes?, donor records? These are all legitimate questions that help verify that someone isnt carrying on a taxable enterprise under the guise of a charity.

And if conservatives were targeted more than liberals, well my gosh folks, grow up! The liberals are in charge. They own the joint. Doesnt it make sense that everything would tilt in their favor? Things will change in an election or two. Political pestering, certainly. Political persecution, hardly.

He can listen to my phone calls as much as he wants

I did not care if the last president listened, and I do not care if the new guy does. There is nothing illegal going on in my life, as far as I know. You'll find it somewhat boring. Have at it. Here's what you'll find out that you might not otherwise know. If this helps sniff out the bad guys, i'm all for it.

1) I"m not very nice to people at 800# call centers (not something i'm proud of, I'm very rude at times)
2) I call my mom every Friday.
3) I do not answer the phone.

Bring it on, Mr. President, and this goes for the next guy too.

06 June 2013

High speed trains, convention centers, stadiums, and other fiascos

Every place I have ever lived wants to build a high speed rail somewhere. Anywhere. Pine Bluff to Little Rock, Little Rock to Memphis, St. Louis to Kansas City, Minneapolis to (giggle) Rochester. Fortunately none of them were ever built.

Just like stadiums and other centers of secular worship, these things are almost free. The logic is the same for all of them. Sure there are a few tax dollars involved but Oh the jobs they create. Follow the logic and we can eliminate every social ill by just building more stuff.

ZIP RAIL – Rochester-Twin Cities

The Southeast Minnesota Rail Alliance proposes the construction of a true high-speed ZIP Rail line travelling at speeds of 150-220 mph between Rochester and the Twin Cities. Preliminary studies estimate that the construction of this corridor will cost $973 million. A study by the Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. estimated this project would inject nearly an additional $1 billion into the Minnesota economy each year.

17 May 2013

I-40 Blues

I was in Knoxville on Tuesday. Drove up from Columbia, SC where I spent mothers day. Wonderful day. The drive through the mountains was very nice. Had a lunch that my mother packed at a rest stop in Tennessee. In your fifties you rarely get to eat a sack lunch packed by mom. They are always a treasure.

There is something about East Tennessee that just haunts me. In a good way. I just never can get it out of my head. It has a certain smell and feel that is distinctive. Whenever I am there I feel like I shouldnt leave. Like the very ground is calling out to me, reminding me that it was here that I drew my first breath and here I am bound to.

While on I-40 I had this feeling I should stay in my rental car and go either east or far west, but not go home to Minnesota. East would take me toward I-81, Johnson City, Elizabethton and other familial grounds. Go west to the end of the highway and I'd be in St. Louis, with my son and daughter in law. For a moment both seemed better than home and both seemed like home. I calculated in my head went I would arrive at either place.

17 April 2013

I want to be hot

More snow is on the way this week. I am ready to be miserably hot.

T-shirt sticking to the back hot, sand in the wallet hot, walking on the sides of your bare feet hot, can't hold the steering wheel hot, 5am with sweat beads on your forehead hot, sunburn on the top of the head hot, bramble and stickers on your jeans hot, dust devils on a dirt road hot, asphalt melting trout killing blister raising hot. Yeah, nice and toasty.

I want to get burned by nails in my deck, I want to see roses shriveled up and brown in my back yard, I want birds to flock to my sprinkler, I want to need mosquito spray, I want to see flies around old watermelon rinds, I want to see blood mixed with sweat when i do yard work, I want to run out of cigars, i want bandaids to not be able to stick to me, I want to look like I just got out of the shower when I walk across a parking lot.

I want to cut the grass, clean out the garage, smoke a pork roast, slap a bloody mosquito onto the side of my neck, I want to sit in my back yard in shorts and a t-shirt and listen to baseball.

11 April 2013

"...there has been much throwing about of brains."

In October of 2010 I decided to read the complete works of William Shakespeare. Every play, every sonnet. I have had it on my ipad. Almost all of the reading has been while on the bus, commuting from home to downtown Minneapolis.

For the first year or so I was reading Shakespeare and the KJV of the Bible side by side. When I finished the Bible, I picked up speed with Will. This project required a deeper level of concentration than I am accustomed to.

Today's snowstorm gave me a two hour bus ride. I knocked off the last fifty pages.

I don't feel smarter, just a wee bit more refined.

While most of it was terribly boring, there were a few times when a passage grabbed me with its beauty and compexity. Like this, from The Twelth Night. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have said about you...

His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles,
His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate,
His tears pure messengers sent from his heart,
His heart as far from fraud as heaven from earth.

Goodbye Mr. Shakespeare.

03 April 2013

A time to move

Tomorrow we close on the sale of our old house. How quickly the place we called "home" for over ten years has become relegated to status as "the old house".

I am sitting on the steps to the kitchen, trying to put a few thoughts together. Collect the memories.

I lived here for almost a year by myself. From August 2003 to June 2004. While Rob finished high school, while Rachel rebuilt her life after a Peace Corp tour was cut short by war, while pre-teen Caroline dealt with the trauma of leaving the street where she learned to walk and talk, while Robin prepared for one more move, I was here alone. After 24 years of marriage, one year of relative solitude was not what I was expecting from my life. But it came and it went and it was good and it was bad. I would recommend it to others. It reminded me of how much my wife is part of me, and I of her.

I had little furniture. What I had Rachel had helped me move with a UHaul. A bed, a dresser, a treadmill, a lazyboy, a recliner. A coffeepot.

We moved the family here on June 16, 2004. Our 25th wedding anniversary.

This was Caroline's home more than any of the other children. I remember her shaking in fear as a first epileptic seizure gripped her on the stairs. The helplessness of parents who could only hold her and pray. But it was also in this house she met much of the wonder and trial of junior high and high school. Birthday parties, sleepovers, helping me put up Christmas lights and smoke the perfect pork shoulder.

It was a good place for a man and wife to enter their fifties, and be confronted with their own mortality. There were health scares, big and small, that reminded us of how much we need and love each other, and how limited is our time together in this place.

I remember Rob bringing his future wife, Laura, to this home for the first time.

I remember  Rachel screaming "I passed" and leaping in the yard, when bar exam results came in the mail.

I remember watching my wife sit quietly at the dining table, reading her Bible, taking notes. Pausing to stir a pot, start a load of wash, say a prayer.

I remember our loyal friend Rocko. He who was oblivious to the move from St. Louis, and was always happy to see any of us. How he aged so, and how the walk around the block eventually turned into a walk to the end of the street. He's still here, under a rock that is under a tree that borders our back yard.

I remember special meals shared with those we love so much and special visits from family members Judy Jarrett, Betty Walker, Kristin Walker, Hannah Izard, Emily Izard, Rodney Welch, Kevin Welch, Audrey Welch, Barbara VanAntwerp, Becky Amos, Shelby Campbell, Katie Welch, Audrey Welch, Laura Welch.

I remember the joy on Robin's face when her big sister Betty showed up for a surprise weekend visit.

I remember long drives to see our children, drives that started and ended in this driveway. To Chicago, to St. Louis, to New Orleans, to Waco.

I remember winter snows that seemed they would never end, as the drifts piled higher and higher. I remember learning how not to plow when the wind is blowing.

I remember watching our team win a couple of World Series from this place, how we all called or skyped each other as the last pitch of the last game was thrown.

Thank you Lord for a home where prayers were answered. For jobs, for relationships, for guidance in the big and little decisions of life, for physical healing. Lord, our prayers of thanksgiving from this place were lifted often it seems, but never ever enough.

14 March 2013

The winter that will not end

It is mid-March. My thermometer refuses to move above freezing. 

The white Christmas blanket covers my world well into Lent.

Winter now just lingers, past the anticipation of October, past the appreciation of December, deep into the disgust of March.

Like the last guest on a boring evening
Like the last chapter of a dull novel
Like the swill at the bottom of a child's soda bottle
Like tennis elbow
Like leftover cabbage


05 March 2013

14164 and 14254

The DJIA closed today at 14254, an all time high, finally taking out the 14164 set on October 9, 2007. On that day I was in Philadelphia for a client meeting. I took the train that afternoon to DC and had dinner with a friend and his wife. He also happened to be a member of Congress. It was a good day. I spent the rest of the week in DC at an investment industry conference.

I don't recall discussing the new high that day with anyone, though I may have. We might have had a sense that it was a false high, an undeserved one, for we were in the early days of the housing market collapse. At that point we were probably just calling it a normal downturn. Don't remember.

This one will get a lot of attention, as it should. We've waited a long time. A bit of a victory for capitalism, though one that could have come much sooner had it not been for interference by the United States.

One group will be glad and think the credit is theirs for keeping the government at bay. Wrong. Another group will try and use it to justify giving some of that wealth to an imagined class of victims. Also wrong.

Anyway, most of the time the stock market should be near its all time high. That is the normal condition. We've been off track for a few years. Still, the market is twenty times the level it was when I first started in this business in the early 80s. Lot of wealth created, a lot of it destroyed. Creative destruction. Many more winners than losers.

Today is an uneventful day. No meetings, just catching up on previous projects. Like last time, if there is anything bad just around the corner, it is not on my mind. Later, i will think it was.  

28 February 2013

Bullets and Patriots

There are sports teams I really don't like. Sometimes it ever borders on a form of hatred, though thats pushing it a bit. Some for a good reason, some for not. Fan allegiance is a strange thing and we find ourselves loving and hating teams for lots of different reasons. Like the way we feel about certain people, some biases make no sense.

Here are my sports prejudices, along with the reason.

Chicago Cubs - Obvious
Duke - Most obnoxious fans in the world and Daughter1 hates them
Drury College - Rival of my Alma mater
KU - Of course. Cheaters. jayhawkers.
Boston Patriots - Cheated to steal Super Bowl from Rams
Boston Red Sox - swept Cardinals in WS
Florida Marlins - won the Series after only four years as a team. that's not illegal but should be. ( i have a vivid memory of some lady screaming into a camera "weve waited so long for this!" really? talk to a cubs fan about waiting)
San Diego Chargers - no explanation, just never liked them, always want them to lose
Washington Bullets - for changing their name to the wizards
Toronto Blue Jays - dont like the bird, dont like the logo, like the country
Marquette - because my Son hates them
TCU - because Daughter2 hates them

20 February 2013

Baby it's cold outside, sorta

While temperature is a measurable certainty, the longer I live in Minnesota the more I appreciate the psychological side and how it affects how cold or hot we feel. Today is a good example.

Driving in to work the temp outside was -7. If it were November this would be terrible and depressing. It would be dark as I drive in and a crust of ice would be rapidly forming on the lakes. Even worse would be the looming sense that things are only going to get worse.

But it is February. When I get out of my car I can tell it really is below zero. I feel the cold sidewalk through the bottom of my shoes. The tiny bits of moisture in my pants and overcoat freeze and make a swishing sound as I walk. It feels like I'm wearing a thin layer of cardboard. When I get back in my car this afternoon, it will hurt to hold the steering wheel. I may wear gloves and ear muffs inside the car for the first ten minutes or so of the drive home.

But it is February. March is a week away. The sun is in the sky at 7am, not buried below the horizon as in November. The ice houses are coming off the lakes. When I step out of my car the day feels cheery. (And i'm not a cheery day kind of guy). There is the knowledge that warmth is coming, even if it is not here yet. Winter was fun but we're ready for a change.

If you close your eyes, that snowmobile you hear in the distance sounds like a lawnmower.

14 February 2013

Valentines Day Luncheon

Unlike elementary school, today there is no thought over the number of cards I will get, or whether the cards I send will be as nice as the ones from the rich kids. No delving into the meanings behind those little candy hearts... "does she really mean 'be mine'?"

Just one card from the only person I want to remember me.

Lunch was one turkey sandwich from the store downstairs, apple juice and a bag of MMs that my valentine included with the card. Sweet.

11 February 2013

Winter wanes

It is mid Feb now and spring is still weeks away. Yet, there is a sense here that the most brutal days of winter have passed on. A few weeks ago, on a day when the high was -4, Mr Winter came as deep into our lives as this cycle of the sun would allow. Now when we spot him, as during yesterdays snow, he has his back to us, heading North, temporarily defeated.

We saw a bald eagle yesterday, near where this photo was taken. I was in my 30s before I saw my first one, while trout fishing in North Arkansas. This winter they have been a weekly sight.

01 January 2013

Burning the red sox hat 2013

Starting off the new year just right. A lunch of black eyed peas and rice for good luck followed by this annual tradition.