A pause in the action…

100_1844.jpgThe pier putting-in of which I wrote about in my last post went very well, even though we soon discovered one of the support pieces had been broken–somehow–during the off season.

Good fortune, though, as I have had an extra one stored under the cottage for the past few years, and with some adjusting and finagling, we made it an almost perfect fit–even better than–the one that had broken.

The weather was ideal, thank you, and we completed the job in just a little under two hours, even with the slight hitch in the process.

Now, I’m busier than ever getting all things ready for the early morning drive back up there this Friday with two loaded cars to “officially” open the cottage. As such, my blogging time and keeping up with my good friends out there is pretty much shot for the next several days.

Once opened and settled in up there by early next week (Memorial Day), I’ll jump back in here and resume my regular posting. And that goes for my weekend feature of One Good Thing as well. Stick with me, folks, I’ll be back.

In the meantime, I wish everyone well during my little respite and look forward to getting this all going again with much to tell you from our little cottage by the lake. Smiles…:-)

Ready to hit the water for another summer.



The Walrus is right…

“The time has come,” the Walrus said…”

Yep. Just like the Walrus, I realize that the time has, indeed, come—as it has for the past several years—though not to talk about shoes and ships and sealing wax, but for the annual event of putting in the pier at the cottage up in Michigan.

As always, we perform this necessary task the weekend prior to our “official” move-in (May 27) for the summer, which makes this coming weekend the time to which the “Walrus” has spoken.

The “we” that is our intrepid and brave “pier putter-inners” consists of my son and anyone else we can coerce into going along for the two-and-a-half hour ride to the lake and getting into the water and putting all of the pier pieces together in the correct order! This year, our third soul is my son’s father-in-law, Ed.

Our pier in hibernation.jpg
Right where we left them in September. Just waiting to be awakened.

Actually, the job is not difficult, other than unstacking the planks and sawhorses from where they have been neatly stacked on the landing at water’s edge since last Labor Day.

Once all of the pieces are  in the water, the job of sliding them together is quite simple and the job doesn’t take much time at all.

But it’s necessary to have three people to complete it all, although it was just my son and me the very first time we did it years ago. Talk about the blind leading the blind! But that’s a post for another time.

That being said, I always look forward to the job, knowing that all of the pieces should be in good shape, or at least they were when we left them in September. And the water, as shallow as it is, will not be too unbearable after that initial shock. It’s only waist deep and the bottom is sandy and very level.

According to the forecast, it’s supposed to be in the 70s, so I’m hoping that there will be sunshine a few days ahead of our immersion next Sunday so the water has been warmed somewhat. Regardless, it’s a “cleansing” experience, so say the least.

After an hour and a half at most, we’re done and ready to head back home, but not before we get dry clothes on and visit TJ’s, where the food is good and the meal is my treat. We’ll toast another successful pier installation and set sail back to Illinois. Then it will be time for me to get serious about the move up there early the following Friday.

The time has come to open her up for another summer.

Even though there is so much to do to get ready for it all, I am happy that it’s that time once again. The Walrus is definitely right!


Take a chance and cast your line!

One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.

This week…

Back in March, I tried my hand at writing a piece of flash fiction at thestoryshack.com, which features a new writing prompt generator. I had been alerted to this wonderful feature by Luanne over at Writer Site and was eager to try it out.

Story Shack, founded in November 2011, is an on-line literary magazine featuring illustrated flash fiction. Its focus is to bring together the worlds of fiction and illustration by fostering relationships between authors and visual artists.

Using the writing prompt generator, I wrote a story titled “The Baker’s Tale” (apologies to images.jpegMr. Chaucer!) Afterwards, I checked out how to go about submitting the piece and decided I had nothing to lose, so–following the stringent submission guidelines–I sent “The Baker’s Tale” on its merry way for possible future publication in the Story Shack on-line literary magazine.

I didn’t think anything more of it, except to share it with readers in a post I wrote about the experience and how much fun it was to use the generator as a means to kick-start one’s writing, especially on those mornings when nothing seems to be inspirational or the ideas and words just won’t pop.

Fast forward several weeks to this past Tuesday when I received the following e-mail:

TO: Mark Anderson

SUBJECT: Your Story Shack submission

Hi Mark,

Thank you for submitting your story 'The Baker's Tale' 
to The Story Shack. I'm happy to tell you that it has been accepted.

The piece has been scheduled for publication on Monday, August 29, 2016. You will be placed in touch with an illustrator at least three weeks before it is due to go live.

Have a great day!

All the best,

Martin Hooijmans



Needless to say, I was surprised and delighted at this piece of good news and am looking forward to seeing how the whole process plays out. No, I won’t receive any compensation for having it published, but that’s not the important thing here. Instead, I will have the opportunity to work with an artist and, hopefully, gain some valuable exposure “out there!”

It proves once again that if we take a chance and cast our lines, we might really catch IMG_0544.jpgsomething!

And for this week, that’s One Good Thing…





I write because…?

Why do I write?


I write because a very long time ago, I discovered the hidden worlds of stories I’d feign illness to stay home from school to immerse myself in. As I read their words, I wanted to someday be like those authors who took me places I could only imagine existed.

Arthur Conan Doyle, Hammond Innes, Alistair Maclean, Franklin W. Dixon, Clair Bee, and Carolyn Keene were responsible for my faking that sore throat so many times. And I’ve often rationalized my dishonesty by telling myself that I probably learned more at home, cuddled up with a Hardy Boys book, then in that dreaded math class at school!

I write because there has always been a desire within to create some of my own stories—ones that others would like to read. And I would like to think that there might be, somewhere, an impressionable young person who’d rather skip school and stay home because he/she simply couldn’t wait to see how my tale would all turn out!

I write because there’s the need to shape and mold things with this strange and wonderful language of ours. I find many rewards when I’m able to piece together some thoughts that stretch my mind, my memories, and my path ahead.

I write because I also believe that all of the experiences I’ve accumulated through my many years are waiting to be shared through writing about them. For as long as I can remember, I’ve romanticized about sitting at a keyboard and pounding out my thoughts and ideas and bringing to life all of the things I’ve been through—from young days to the present.

I often question just how many of these experiences are of interest only to me, the writer, and not to others out there who couldn’t care less about any of it? I suppose that’s the chance all writers take when they sit down and begin the journey that is writing.

I write because that journey is not an easy one, either, but well worth all of the ups and downs and pitfalls endured along the way once the end is reached.

I doubt, though, that the end is really ever reached. Once we think we’re done, we’re really only beginning. It’s on to the next thing. And because there’s always that chance to start something that will turn out OK, I relish the challenges and the ups and downs and pitfalls once more. I like beginnings!

“You’re welcome”…Perhaps?

Unknown-2.jpegI had every intention of writing about a “good news” e-mail I received yesterday, but then I went to Dunkin Donuts for my favorite coffee to get the day started. Oh, how it got the day started! (I’ll save the “good news” e-mail for the weekend’s One Good Thing post.)

Anyway, back to Dunkin Donuts, where the young lady at the window was quite pleasant and smiling as she handed me my large hot black coffee with cream:

She: “Here ya go…” (handing me my change)

Me: “Thank you.”

She: “No problem.”

(I drive away, irritated…)

I was once again reminded of how annoying “No problem” is as a response to my “Thank you,” especially since I was the one initiating the “Thank you!”  My blood pressure didn’t suffer any intense spikes sending me into convulsions or apoplexy, mind you, but the pleasant morning had quickly been nicked a bit as I drove off for home, once again wondering whatever happened to common etiquette.

Later that day, I did some quick “research” (Google) to see if the “No problem” phrase was as bothersome to others as it is to me, and I found out that it is. On the other hand, I also learned that there seem to be far more people who don’t see what all of the fuss is about.

Call me old-fashioned or whatever, but saying “You’re welcome” seems to be very clear-cut and respectful. (Blog post from February 9, 2013)

And I asked myself that very question: What is all the fuss about? My irritation stems from, perhaps, my sticking to the way I was taught and my values—perhaps considered by some to be outdated and too conservative. I’ll go with that, knowing that I do tend to be pretty rigid in certain “rules” of language, etiquette, and social graces—for better or worse, perhaps.

I wrote about this pebble-in-the-shoe type of annoyance here a few years ago, and it doesn’t seem to have ridden off into the sunset as I had hoped it would, sooner than later.

Perhaps I’m tilting at windmills or, like Sisyphus, rolling a massive boulder up an impossibly steep hill, and I, perhaps, should lighten up, move along, turn the page, go with the flow, change with the times, be hip, be cool, make language anything I want it to be.

Perhaps I should forget about much of what I was taught and what was always considered the “correct” way to speak and act, but I doubt if that’s ever going to happen, just as I doubt that people will stop using annoying words and phrases when there are perfectly better ones at their beck and call.

Perhaps I’ll wake up some morning and all will be right in the world and everyone will have realized that there’s still a place for those things which were once the norm. I fear that it’s only wishful thinking on my part, though. What will be, will be.

In the meantime, perhaps I need another cup of coffee and there’s that boulder to roll uphill!


Get me out of here! Einstein at the gas pump


One of my favorite things to do when I’m on the road (as I have been quite a lot lately), is to observe my fellow travelers at the rest areas/service plazas and wonder what kinds of thoughts are going through their minds as they make their way to wherever their destinations might be.

It’s usually a pretty interesting and harmless way to pass the time out there, but there are occasions when  I encounter some who simply make me wonder what makes them tick, or if they’re even thinking at all!

For instance, on my way back from taking my mom back to Ohio the other day, I was pulled up to the gas pump and watching the numbers spin seemingly on forever. At the same time, another large vehicle pulled up on the opposite side.

The driver’s door quickly opened, and out stepped a younger guy from that generation who wear their baseball caps backwards and have bad facial hair and in need of a visit to a barber and seem to always be in a hurry.

Point in case: Yanking the nozzle and hose from the pump and unscrewing the gas cap, he had also managed to somehow insert his credit card into the slot in one effortless motion. I was impressed–in a weird sort of way.

However, as soon as the gas was being dispensed, this frizzy-haired guy pulled out a pack of cigarettes and just as dexterously as he’d maneuvered the gas cap, hose, and credit card a moment before, he slid one from the pack and flicked his Bic lighter and lit up. I was no longer impressed!

I watched him take a long and satisfying drag from his cigarette, as he stood no more than two feet away from the whirring gas pump, staring at the standard posted sign that admonished one and all that there was no smoking allowed.  Then I imagined that night’s news with photos and on-the-scene video of what remained of the service plaza that had exploded earlier in the day on the Indiana Turnpike. Yikes!


My immediate thought was how I could get out of there quickly enough to avoid being blown to kingdom come, but, of course, my gas tank was pretty well near the empty mark, so there was still a ways to go before I could beat a hasty exit from this happy traveler.

Silently willing my gas pump to somehow speed up, I couldn’t believe that someone could be so careless and inconsiderate by smoking right then and there, totally ignoring the very common—and obvious—warning signage that smoking was prohibited! As I’ve felt on so many other occasions, some people just aren’t bright!


Fortunately, nothing tragic happened and I was out and away a short time after my initial discomfort from the not-too-bright guy puffing away and thinking he looked cool and hip with his cap on wrong and his unkempt goatee.

Looking back in my rearview mirror as I sped away to the ramp back onto the turnpike, I caught a glimpse of him continuing to stare vacuously at the pump, smoking away his road-weary blues. I hope he made it to wherever he was going, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t.



Cold weather, many miles & a grandson celebration!

One Good Thing…
It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.
The week just past…

It was another busy week trying to “fit” everything in that needed “fitting” in. Mowing,IMG_1748.jpg trimming, and spraying those nasty dandelions and continuing to get it all in shape was high on my list.

My opportunities for such tasks were very limited due to cold and rainy weather that had decided to settle in for most of the week, and I would be gone all of Thursday and Friday as well. Despite the cold, it was a dry Wednesday, allowing me to get it all done then.


We celebrated our younger grandson’s first Communion on Saturday morning and afterwards had a wonderful and relaxed get-together for lunch and fun back at his house.

The chill of the incessant rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of the day, nor the tasty variety of burgers, brats, and hot dogs our son grilled for us. They went very nicely with the potato and macaroni salads.

It was a delightful touch of a summer picnic, even though we were dressed as though it were November!

In order for Great-Grandma Pat (my mom) to attend, I had to make another whirlwind trip to Port Clinton, Ohio (about six hours away), on Thursday to pick her up.

By 8 a.m. Eastern time Friday morning, she and I were on our way back from where I’d come the day before, arriving in Illinois that afternoon.

To say that I was a bit “road weary” would be a vast understatement, but we even managed to travel a ways out to watch a few innings of the grandsons’ baseball game that evening.

It was a cold and windy affair, but we were able to park in such a spot that Grandma could stay inside the warm car and catch most of the action before we agreed that it had been a long day and it was time to head to our house for sleep. No arguments from me on that!

And as I write this now, relaxed and comforted to know that we have nowhere we need to go of any great distance today, I look back on the week which hurried right on by and count my blessings for all of the good things I have.

I am proud of my grandsons and know that whatever lies ahead in their lives, they have some very good grounding to help get them through all that lies ahead.


And, yes, Grandma Pat and I will be making the drive back to her place in Ohio tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to see that long highway once again!

Until next time…

That’s one good thing!