2011-A Look Back, and Ahead…

Out with the old…

Well,  it looks as though it’s time to replace my official Office Max desk calendar (upon which my trusty MacBook rests) and replace it with the new pristine one for 2012. I’ve had it for a few months now, tucked in between a couple of cabinets, waiting for the road we’re on to lead us to the end of another year. And now that we’re pretty near the end, it’s time to do so. 

Black Wolf Lodge -My first novel

For the most part, 2011 has been pretty good for us here in beautiful northern Illinois, with little to complain about. My big news and excitement was the publication of my novel, Black Wolf Lodge. It had been a long journey to get the story completed after beginning the thing in the summer of 2000! Working off and on during that time didn’t make for much progress. A friend at church last November told me about a publish on demand company that would be a good place to do my first book. And so it was that Lulu publishing made getting my finished manuscript into book form and marketed out and listed on Amazon.com. Later, the e-Book format became available at Barnes & Noble and the Apple iStore. I would love to have more folks read the book, so give it a try…please! [GO TO LULU.COM]

Snow, Snow Beautiful Snow…

Of course, everyone seemed to be moaning and groaning last January and February when the skies seemed to offer us nothing but constant snow. Our blizzard really was something to behold, and I actually was beginning to worry about wearing out our little John Deere snow thrower. At times, it was much too small of a machine to handle the amount of white stuff that accumulated–and remained–for quite a spell! Anyway, not one to complain

 about winter weather and snow and “bad stuff,” I managed to keep a path open and the driveway pretty clear for our comings and goings. After all, I didn’t want my wife to miss out on getting to work on her scheduled days! (Just kidding…)

Artist in Residence

We did take advantage of being somewhat “marooned” inside during the month of February. At long last, we finally made the decision to paint the kitchen, living room, and hallway. Since moving in in December of ’07, we hadn’t added any paint to the walls. They still had the contractor’s white, and were good enough for the first few years. Now, however, we wanted–needed–some color! Over a short period during the great blizzard, my wife did her best Michelangelo and climbed the 9-foot ladder, stretched, rolled, trimmed, brushed, etc., etc., and accomplished a not-so-easy feat. We have very high vaulted ceilings in the living room and kitchen, and way too many nooks and crannies to make life easy for one so foolish as to try painting. Thank you, Carolyn, for your talents and patience and skill at all things painting! My contribution? I lugged the ladders in from the garage, placed them for her, and anchored them while she was “way up there” in the heavens, stretching and making strange grunting sounds, trying to reach this nook or that cranny. I was exhausted at day’s end…Long story short, the paint job turned out perfectly, and the colors we chose were better than we’d expected. It’s nice when things work out for the good.

Here’s to the crabgrass…

When the winter of 2011 finally bid us farewell, sometime in late March I believe, we could seriously think about the upcoming spring months and all that lay ahead. Getting the mower tuned up, cleaned up, and fired up was one of the important duties that needed done. As we’ve learned in the four years we’ve lived out here on the great prairie of northern Illinois, grass (and weeds) grow quite rapidly in the new warmth and moisture of spring! Thus, the lawn spreader was hauled out of dry dock, dusted off, and put into immediate service, spreading the crabgrass preventer, weed-n-feed, and the year’s first application of fertilizer. Now, it was time to sit back and watch nature do its thing! Of course, in a blink, it was time to mow and trim and edge everything once again. 

So long, Casey: A True Beauty

Early in April, we had to have our wonderful little dog, Casey, put down as the years and some serious health issues were simply too much for her. I miss her greatly, and our daily walks and romps are wonderful memories I hold close–and always will. 

Opening Weekend & Another Season Begins!

Late spring found us getting serious about another upcoming season at the cottage in Michigan. As organized as we always think we are, with everything stored away in its proper place, there’s always some “glitch” that occurs when it’s time to begin rounding things up and packing for “Opening Weekend” over Memorial Day. For whatever reason, this past year’s efforts came off without an issue. From the “pier-putting-in” the weekend before Memorial Day to the move-in itself, all went smoothly. There were no threats of divorce, gunshots, or physical harm of any kind! The cottage was opened, decorated, and organized in very calm fashion. Suffice it to say, the move-in went extremely well!

The season at the lake was wonderful, with many visits from friends and family. The grandsons came and went and came again! Pontoon cruises and late nights on the screened porch were givens. Warm summer days under the tall trees made for comfortable living. I read lots and wrote very little (for which I’m feeling quite guilty!) and the days and weeks up in Michigan rolled right along. All was good…

The Time of the Season…

As the old saying goes: “All good things must end someday…” And such was the summer of 2011 at the cottage in Michigan. June, July, and August seemed to fly right on by, and “Closing Weekend,” in our case Labor Day Weekend, arrived like a thief in the night–quickly, without great fanfare, and with intent to rob us of our summer tranquility and love of our little spot in Michigan. Though we knew we’d probably be invited back the next year, it still seemed a bittersweet weekend just the same. The pier “crew” consisting of our son, son-in-law, grandsons (who were good watchers and helpers with the small stuff), and anyone else who happened to wander by at the wrong time, had the thing disassembled, stacked on the shore, and all other “loose ends” tied up in a very short time. Same with the cottage itself.  As was the  Opening Weekend, the Closing Weekend was just as smooth. When Carolyn and I pulled away on the Tuesday after Labor Day, we were glad to be going home to Illinois and considered the summer just past a huge success. We’re already beginning to get that “feeling” about the next summer spent “up there” at the cottage by a wonderful lake in Michigan!

Harvest Time & Writing Time

Things were pretty calm and relaxed during the fall months here in northern Illinois. The farmers enjoyed a record harvest and the weather was most cooperative, unlike a year ago when harvesters were still in the fields during the Christmas season! Carolyn and I enjoyed a week’s trip to Omaha to stay with relatives. I began my next writing project (finally!), a collection of short stories and other “musings” I’ve put together over the years. It’s coming along now, and I am planning to have it ready for the folks at Lulu by early spring. I’m enjoying this project right now and writing new things as well as re-working many of the older ones I cranked out long ago. Stay tuned for updates and progress reports regarding this project.

Thoughts, Hopes…

It’s a very rainy, foggy, and dreary Friday afternoon, the next-to-last-day of 2011, as I write these words, hoping to capture some of the key moments and events in my life this past year. I am grateful for the family that I’m surrounded with, and they mean so very much to me. Our daughter will turn another year older tomorrow–New Year’s Eve–and I simply cannot fathom that she should be that age, married and contributing to the world. Wasn’t she just that little smiling elf who liked to climb and go where she really wasn’t supposed to? My son, father of my two grandsons, is clicking right along as well, and will celebrate a birthday of his own in March. Again, where have the years flown to? I guess it’s everyone’s question as the years suddenly pile up and, without any warning, have zipped past in fast-forward mode. 


My wish for the new year would be to somehow slow down this crazy warp speed and let us enjoy one another and find lots of smiles and laughter every day. I wish for good health for my whole family and friends, and I hope I’m healthy and still somewhat sane a year from now so I can write all about the wonderful year that 2012 was. Stay tuned and keep traveling along with me down the road…MLA


My friend…

Casey in her favorite warm spot on the deck

After nearly thirteen full years, our little dog, Casey, reached the end of the road on Friday. Victim of old age, kidney disease, and various other “maladies,” she knew it was “time.” With grace and dignity, she said farewell, but not before she and I got in one last walk through the park and out the lane to the water tower!

In my mind I retrace every precious step of that walk last Friday morning. I remember every one of her zigs and zags, her nose working a mile a minute with the wonderful fresh spring smells that she always enjoyed.

And on this beautiful, sunny Sunday morning, I sip my coffee on the deck and look far out the lane thinking I might just spot her padding happily to and fro, delighted to be out there where she is the happiest! I look to her favorite spot by our sliding door where she basks peacefully in the warmth of the sunshine, every now and then glancing up and out at something only she can see.

The morning is so full of new life, yet so void of many precious moments shared with a true friend and pal who will forever be there for me. I long for one more walk out there, dear friend! God bless my little Casey!