Our First Trip to the Wolverine State


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So we packed up the dog, rented a mini-van, and headed east to explore the shores and beaches of western Michigan.  We booked late and this is where we ended up.


Our place in the woods for four days.

This humble abode has a screen porch on the back, and it was here I first discovered the cloud like wings of the trees in the forrest.  I couldn’t believe when the wind would move through the forrest – the branches would slowly move up and down and I felt as if I was in the clouds.G32A8260

While we never made it to the beach to sit in the sun and read, we did do some great birding.  Here are a few of Karyl’s great shots.


Red-bellied Woodpecker






House Wren


Gray’s Catbird


American Tree Sparrow


White-Tailed Deer




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Dear Mr. Bourdain,

I was saddened to learn of your death this week.  My loving daughter introduced you to our family, and I found courage in your fearless culinary journeys around the world.  You are a great story teller, and that is just one of the qualities we will miss.

I am sorry about the hole in your heart that made the challenges of life so difficult.  If it is any consolation, please know that many here among us where inspired by you, your adventures, and your captivating story telling.  While you are no longer here to lead the way, we will carry your torch as we move forward, trying to make sense of it all.

Thank you for the pull.  We wouldn’t have gotten this far without you.



Championship Sunday

It’s time.

Bring it home Vikes!

Bucket List #61

So it is Sunday morning and its warm enough to get my butt on a bike are ride to coffee with the boys.


43rd Street Sunday Morning Coffee Group

It occurs to me while I am at coffee that I could head down to the lake and see the Art Shanties on Lake  Harriet.

This would be a great way to get more time on the bike and some sorely needed exercise.  Wait a minute.  I could bike across the lake – it’s January, and it has been a cold winter…Bucket list time.


Thank You. African-American Women of Alabama, Thank You.

So this week African-American voters in the State of Alabama voted 97% for the Democratic candidate for United States Senator, Doug Jones.  98% of Black women voted for Jones, and he won.  In a state where Republicans routinely win by 25%, African-American women saved us from accused pedophile, “Constitutionally illiterate” Roy Moore (Jim Geraghty of the National Review, quoted in the New York Times on Thursday, 14 December 2017) .

Once again, African-American woman, “Thank you!”



It Must Have Been the Roses…With Apologies to the Dead…


So this morning, this is what the backyard looked like.  It was time to finish burying the roses.  A check to the weather app told me that it was 37°, but it “feels like” 28° — so I layered up; got out the Lower Fork of the Ho River boots and went at it.

As I was winding up my phone quit due to the temp, and I listened to the birds that were still in the area.  I was reminded how much I like being outside.  So after about four hours of work…


the roses are buried, and a first layer of leaves are down.  Now the yard looks like this.


Mission accomplished.  Good workout at that.  Some how I feel it more in my legs, but my shoulders are also barking a bit.  Somehow this wasn’t the PITA experience that I had been expecting.  Pleasant surprise.

So Roses…Thanks for a great summer and a fall.  I get the idea that you like water…promise to follow up next year with lots of water, some fertilizer, and a little anti-mold spray.


Conversations with my friend Al and my Life Outside Looking In.

So, it was close to a year ago that I went to a fourth of July outdoor concert and walked around the lake with my friend, Al.  Al was the first person in my circle who was an admitted Trump supporter.  As we circled the lake Al outlined his reasons for supporting Trump and opposing Hillary.

Al is a former Navy seal and he began he rationale for supporting Trump because of his intense dislike of Hillary Clinton as a result of her inaction in the Benghazi debacle.  As a military man, Al could not forgive Hillary for leaving our people in the embassy unsupported.  Al had other reasons for not supporting Hillary, but my sense was that they began and ended with military matters.  Likewise, Al supported Trump because he was a successful business man in the toughest real estate market in the United States.  Al is a business man, first and foremost, so that makes sense.

I don’t see Al all that often, but I ran into him this week and I congratulated him on his candidate winning the presidency, and asked him what his assessment was after the first six months.  Al was impressed with Trump’s toughness under unrelenting pressure from the leftish press.  He commented that Trump had passed lots of legislation, and done several executive orders that helped free up business from regulation.  I agree with the second part of that sentence, but I don’t think gutting regulation to help business is in our long term best interest, but that is another debate.

So I walk away from my conversation with Al and I wonder, how is it we live in the same place, yet see the world so differently.  His facts seem to be completely different for the set I use to form my opinions.  And here is the heart of the matter.  There is a whole segment of our society that I never cross paths with, and with which I have little contact, yet these are the people who look at Trump and see a hounded hero doing his best to transform our dysfunctional government.

Cut to yesterday, Friday, 16 June in the middle of the afternoon as I drive to take a friend to the airport.  MPR announces that the jury in the Jeronimo Perez trial has come back.  After a pregnant pause, the announce says that the jury has found officer Perez “not guilty”.  After a brief burst of low informal English I am at a complete state of disbelief.  I can’t possibly see how the jury reached that verdict.5-30-17 YANEZ PREP WALK AND TZ SOTS_00.01.00.27_1496167339060_3396694_ver1.0_640_360

During the trial I heard that the defense said that Philando Castile was high on marijuana and not following directions.  What bullshit.  If Castile could drive a car, he certainly was not “tuned up” enough to not follow the directions of an officer.  No, for me the real issue is that it seems to be an acceptable defense to say, “I was afraid for my life,” and because it is an African American man – that is an acceptable defense.  No part of this story makes sense to me.  I am so disappointed, frustrated, and profoundly apologetic.

So, this is my year of living outside of the reality that the rest of the community.   I appear to be the Stranger in a Strange land.  Not good.

Gray Days and Great Stories

So it is the last week of April, but someone forgot to tell the weather what date it is.  We have had a touch of Portland, Oregon weather, with extended rains and generally gray weather.  To coincide with the weather I have been battling a small viral infection (according the the school nurse).  Not so much time on the bicycle, and lots of going to bed early to try to beat the bug…


Last weekend Karyl heard a story on the Moth Radio Hour that was excellent.  Mary Kate O’Flanagan told a wonderful tale of her father’s funeral called, “Carry Him Shoulder High“.  There are many touching moments in this story, but the idea of these six sisters working through their father’s passing.  There are so many parts of this story that grabbed me.  The sisters trying to convince the the undertaker that they could carry their father out and that they didn’t need men to do the job.  The undertaker suggested that the sisters walk along side a dolly carrying their father and one of the sisters but an end to it by saying, “Shoulder high.  My father will be carried from this house shoulder high, and by us.”  That is the kind of response I would hope my daughter would make.

In the last part of the story, all of the sisters are struggling to come to terms with the passing of their father.  One of Kate’s sisters prays to her father for a sign from him to help her be able to carry on.  The next morning she gets a text from their father that says,   “I’m home now Beks.  You can call now whenever you want.”  A text message from the ether.  What a great message to send to your loved ones.  “I’m home now…call whenevery you want.”  Wow.

Earlier in the story, Mary Kate claims that if there is one thing the Irish do well, it is funerals.  She mentions that the English say, “I am sorry for your trouble” at such times, and I think we say, “I am sorry for your loss.”  But, I think the Irish have it right.  The Irish say, “I’m standing with you.”  ‘Nuff said.

This week I  heard a disturbing story that a colleague has had a health set back.  This sort of news always tests my mental framework.  Stay positive.  So I am going to summon my inner-Irish and let that person know, “I’m standing with you.”

A Classy Start to Spring Break

Yesterday, I rode the fan bus to St. Cloud to watch the Breck Boys’ Basketball team play Annandale in the Section 5 playoffs.  The basketball game was fun, but in the end it didn’t go our way, but for me the larger story was elsewhere.  I wrote the following letter to the head of the Upper School:

Dear Tom,

I wanted to take a quick minute to share with you how impressed I am with the Upper School.

Yesterday my interaction with the Upper School began at the Talent Show.  I watched Isiah, Eric M, and Reuben rap, followed by Grace S-F and her bear.  I was awed with how graciously the audience embraced Grace and her bear jokes.  Unfortunately I had to get back to class, and I left as Mr. Ruiz was dazzling the group with his stick work.

Cut to the basketball game in St. Cloud, and against the backdrop of the lily white Annandale crowd,our students sang the National Anthem.  I was so proud; I have never sung the anthem with such enthusiasm.  The basketball game started well, but the last ten minutes of the first half were tough.  It would have been easy for our students to get chippy and resort to snarky cheers, but they didn’t.  They kept cheering, and in the second half our team rewarded the fans with a great come back.

After the basketball team accepted the second place medals, I watched in awe as our fans came out and sang the alma mater – which brought tears to my eyes.  All of this happened on the first night of Spring Break.  When we got back to school I told the students on my bus that I was very impressed with them.  On the first night of vacation they traveled to a game (where we weren’t expected to win – but I didn’t mention that) and as fans they were wonderful.  I left feeling very honored to be associated with such a group.

My hat is off to you and the Upper School faculty and staff for creating a community culture of caring, manners, and sportsmanship.

Well done.

Have a great Spring Break,


The Long Bumpy Road to Tuesday

The fabric of our great nation seems to be tearing here and there, and I don’t know what to make of it all.

It is easy to look at the shooting of Philando Castile and other African-American men as


Mr. Philando Castile

evidence that While American isn’t as ready for the 21st century as we might have thought.  I read that Mr. Castile had been cited some 40-50 times by the police.  Oh, my goodness – I have been pulled over three times in my life.  It is the constant drum beat of Blank lives being lost that makes me wonder what is going on.

Added to the news of shootings was the clammer of a presidential campaign that has been other worldly.  I never thought that a major political party would nominate a person who insults non-white people with such great regularity.

For the first time in my life, I have become worried about our democracy.  How can so many Americans rally to the voice of man who has few plans, but who seems to take joy in bullying women and minorities.  Is this really who we are in 2016?  Of course the answer is “No”.

The real scary part is that there are a large number of White Americans who feel disenfranchised and they seem to be seeking someone to blame for station in life.  As a group many of White people seem to feel more allegiance to White Privilege than we do to our country.  Frankly, given what Trump as said, I don’t see how this election can even be close.

Ms. Clinton has managed the impossible.  She has managed to be dishonest about emails, Benghazi, and the Clinton Foundation that she has taken what should be a slam dunk election and she has made it close.  With President Obama you never knew how much of the resistance he faced was because he is a Black Man.  Would Garland, the Supreme Court nominee, have been heard if Obama was a White Man?  How much of the reluctance to embrace Clinton is because she is a woman?  We may never know.

I voted early for the first time.

Tuesday night promises to be very interesting.  We either elect the first woman to be president, or we elect Il Duce.  Here is to hoping that we can survive either reality…