Nagging Not Needed. Husband Completes Project In Under Quarter Century!

Sorry for no blog last week, but my wife and I took a trip to Seattle. I took lots of cool pictures. Some day I’ll show them to you. My thanks to Kathleen for the use of her house while we visited – the most beautiful place you could stay on Pudget Sound.

But the point of the blog today is that wonderful sense of accomplishment you get when you finish a project. In this case, a project I began in 1998. Yes, in under 1/4 of a century I managed to do what I should have done during the Clinton presidency.

While we were in Seattle, my mother graciously flew in to take care of Stormy. Stormy, being a delicate sort, is not the kind of dog you put in a kennel. She would probably be so freaked by being abandoned again that she’d never recover. Thus we provide dog-sitters. My mother is an expert on the subject, and she graciously agreed to come and take care of her Sheltie grand-dog while we wandered about in the rain on the left-coast.

During our absence, my mom cleaned out the cupboards in our dry pantry. For those of you who don’t have 100 year old houses on the prairie, that’s an unheated room where you stored the flour, dry goods, linen, etc., and saved on the heating bill. Adjacent to our kitchen, it is – unrefinished. Just like the kitchen. The only two rooms in the house that are still craptacular after 25 years of home-ownership.

My mom was very proud of organizing that mess. I think she was inspired because I warned her about the glass door that wasn’t actually properly fastened, but if she was careful it would be okay. Yeah, 20 years ago I just gave up on making it work and walked away. But after seeing a ray of hope, I resolved to actually fix it. So that first night back I worked on it for about 30 minutes and threw in the towel. It needed some contemplation to make it work.

Saturday, armed with the appropriate tools (a drill, a Swiss Army knife (official toolkit of Cryptologic Direct Support Operators everywhere), a hammer, a vise grip, and a can of PAM) I did some cogitating, and with my wife’s help, got the old hinge pins out. After about 20 minutes of mentally working over what went wrong, it dawned on me that the hinge pieces on the doors themselves were installed backwards. I may/may not be responsible for this, as once the wood had been stripped by a friend, and I have taken to blaming them for everything that is wrong in that room.

The proper tools are crucial to doing good work.

After flipping the pieces, and moving the doors to the appropriate locations, they closed on hinge pins for the first time in a long time. Now I was inspired, and told my wife that soon (Meaning months, or years) I would install the locks. Still had to buy them.

I was putting a few scattered things away in the newly safe cupboards and what should I find but the hardware purchased at the time the wood was stripped. Now I had no excuses.

For the next 1.5 hours I installed cupboard pulls, door locks, and some self esteem. When I was done I realized that I might be married to a saint: never once during those 20 years did she nag me about getting this done.

Why did it take so long? Because life. The things were good enough, and there was the daily grind of cooking, writing, laundry, illness, tragedy, warm days outside, and the other million things that keep you from finishing something so easy.

Now, in a shocking move, I installed a security brace to an unused exterior door that would frustrate most SWAT teams with a battering ram. That only took 3 years, and I did it the following day. Look for more things I keep forgetting in the near future. Except the paper towel rack. I remember to buy one every time I get home from a store that sells them. That’s going on about 4 years.

Thank you, Kip Courtemanche, for letting me get away with not finishing the projects I start until my mother shames me into doing so.

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My second novel, Nicholas of Haiti, will be available Thanksgiving weekend. Details will be forthcoming, including the cover and synopsis, shortly. Put aside your money for the Kindle, print, and audio book versions. This is not a sequel to Assault on Saint Agnes, but a unique book in the speculative Christian fiction world.
Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

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You Might Want To Smooth Out Your Undies If They Have A Proclivity To Bunch

As this is written, the media and democrat party (I know, it’s redundant) are trying to destroy what’s left of Brett Kavanaugh. Today’s revelation is that he was at a bar where a fight broke out and he may have thrown beer or ice on some guy. The police questioned him about the incident.

Since confession is good for the soul, I know for a fact that there is a prominent female attorney in Minneapolis who also has to admit to throwing a drink in the face of some guy: she threw it in my face. Mind you, we were both 19 years old, and I was acting like a jerk, but throwing drinks in faces is not unheard of in liquor establishments. I still think she’s a fantastic person and a good lawyer. She doesn’t remember doing it, but I sure do. I deserved it.

I have not only been in bar fights, but I actually started one. I wouldn’t give up throwing that punch for a million dollars. It was well worth it. Sometimes violence is the only way to settle an issue, and in that specific case it was a noble deed. (I’m sticking to my guns on that one.)

Further, while a student at the University of Minnesota, I was also questioned about a drunken act of vandalism that resulted in blood being spilled and property being damaged. I’m sure if they have paper records from 1982 you can find my name in the blotter from a December night where a considerable quantity of alcohol had been consumed at Stub & Herb’s bar, adjacent to the campus.

I didn’t do anything, but the drunken fool (who was a good friend, but he was acting the fool) I was with decided to punch out a fire extinguisher box in the dorm where he lived. That glass gave him a nasty cut on his hand. I took him back to his room and administered first aid while I waited for the cops. I mean, seriously, about 20 people saw him do it, and he was bleeding like a stuck pig – all they had to do was follow the blood trail up the stairs.

Since both of us were rather large, they sent 4 cops that I saw. My friend was in the precarious position of either going to jail, or detox. I encouraged him to choose detox. He managed to avoid a criminal charge by doing so, but was put on double-secret probation by the University of Minnesota for the rest of his academic career, given alcohol abuse counseling, and got a royal butt-chewing from his mom, because he was locked up in detox for 72 hours during Christmas break.

Me? I was sober enough to handle myself, but I had too much alcohol onboard to drive – that’s why I was headed to his dorm room instead of to my car. One of the cops was insisting that I was an accessory to the misdemeanor vandalism, and that I should be arrested. He was kind of a jerk. There was a supervisor there, and I politely handed him my graduation card from the police academy. I pointed out that I had committed no crime, and was merely rendering first aid to my friend. There was no attempt to flee as we’d left the door open. The aggressive cop would have arrested me but for the supervisor, who merely cautioned me not to drive for a few hours and to keep out of trouble. Trust me when I say that wandering around campus at 3 am on a December night waiting for the alcohol to leave my system was a frigid experience.

Now, I’ve disclosed several incidents that evidently make Kavanaugh some kind of serial criminal. All were unimportant in the great scheme of life.

But what if I wanted to damage someone, like is being done to him, by basically duplicating the story of his accusers, and merely changing the dates? The odds are strong that they wouldn’t have been able to prove that I was lying at the time, and much less likely after 40 years.

Now, before I continue, I must point out that this is a story. It is fiction. I am a writer. But if you can in any way see how this differed from what Ford has said about Kavanaugh, and realize just how difficult it is to prove a negative – especially after decades – then put a comment on the blog. I will read it and if it makes sense, I will publish it. If you cannot prove that what I am about to write isn’t a damned lie, then perhaps you need to rethink the destruction of Brett Kavanaugh.

Beginning of Fiction.

On an April night in 1976 I attended a large house party in Minnetonka, Minnesota. It was not unusual for members of our debate and speech teams to associate with other egg-heads around the metro. We knew them through debate tournaments, and it was common to socialize. Some people I knew even dated kids from other high schools, having met them at tournaments.

On this night, I went with a bunch of people who had been at a tournament that afternoon. I don’t remember who drove, but it wasn’t me: I didn’t have a license yet. I was also, as a Catholic boy who obeyed his parents and his faith, a virgin and a teetotaler. Some have vivid memories that I drank in high school, but I didn’t touch a drop of liquor until I was a student at the University of Minnesota much later on. Same with sex: not in high school and for several years afterward.

During the party, where there was a lot of drinking, I stuck to soft drinks. At one point a group of really rowdy girls pushed down the hallway where I was reading a paperback. (Shy kids used to do that before electronics rose to prominence.) Two of the girls pushed me into a room and one of them grabbed my butt and put her hand over my mouth. She was laughing, and gave me an extra squeeze while she ground into me with her hips. I was shattered by the experience. After all, I was a good kid from the other side of the cities, and had no idea this kind of thing would happen. She let me go and stumbled off with her friends. I got a ride home from someone, but it’s all a bit vague after all these years.

Years later, only when she was elected to the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, I recognized the girl who’d molested me: Amy Klobuchar. I never said anything, and now it’s become important for me to recognize this incident in public, as she’s reached great levels of prominence and power. I am scared when I think of the damage a woman like this could do to the nation in such a position of importance. I have never had a normal life as result of this incident, and it has cost me greatly. I am absolutely sure that it was her. 100%. This was reinforced for me when I watched her drinking a beer at six the morning several years later. My God, she even said there was nothing wrong with drinking beer for breakfast. At the very least, her attitude on alcohol is disgraceful, and her level of abuse needs to be investigated. Does she have a drinking problem?

End of fiction.

So, do any of you think Senator Klobuchar could disprove my story? I have included exactly the detail level Ford included in her story about Kavanaugh. I would be willing to bet a large sum of money that unless she was out of the country for the entire month of April, 1976 she wouldn’t be able to prove she didn’t grope me that night.

The cautionary tale is there for you to see: there’s a statute of limitations for a reason, and memories get hazy with the passing of years. If you don’t believe my story, you can’t accord credence to Ford’s either.

It’s that simple.

(Oh, and for those of you who wish to expose my bad, drunken, boorish behavior from the past I have just one question: you had to be with me if you remember it, didn’t you? Glass houses, stones, etc. ring any bells? I’ve already outed myself so often it’s not worth your effort. But they might be great stories and I do wish you’d message them to me so I can use them in a book.)

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

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Today Might Be The Last Blog.

I have been producing this blog for a long time. I have endeavored to write interesting things, discuss politics, share flash fiction, and provoke your thinking process.

This morning, it occurred to me that I have lost my way. Because of the following things, I am contemplating putting the blog to rest:

1. I found myself agreeing with Geraldo Rivera on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
2. I was cheering Lyndsey Graham and felt badly about my misgivings in the past.
3. Ted Cruz is going to get a donation from me.
4. I have upped my estimations of the republic surviving after Brett Kavanaugh opened a can of righteous whoop-ass on the democrat swine on the committee.

Well, on second thought, #4 will keep me writing. But cheering the first three scares me. If you missed Graham, watch this clip and listen closely. He’s absolutely right, and if we are to survive as a nation of laws, his advice must be followed.

I’ll be back. See you next week.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.


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It Must Be Fall. Pumpkin Spice Donuts & Bad Drivers.

The other day marked the end of summer. Perhaps not on the annual record, but in my own life. You see, I was walking to work and the last jerk of the hot season tried to run me down in the crosswalk. He missed, but it was the last attempted vehicular homicide I anticipate while wearing short sleeves until in April.

This is his picture. Not only was he callous enough to turn left in front of oncoming traffic, but he missed me by about 2 feet as he roared through the crosswalk. Silly me, I figured since the arrow went red, and the traffic had started to move my way there was no way anyone was crazy enough to turn left. I underestimated this twit. To add to the fun, he drove less than 50 feet past me and parked. I greeted him in the way that only bearded guys with shaved heads at 6′ and 300 pounds can: obscenely. I believe my exact words were “Smile, &*%^&%*.”

The Final twit of the summer.

Normally I wouldn’t post a picture like this one. It might be considered rude. But when I confronted him he was miffed that I’d objected to his trying to run me over. He had a good reason for his reckless behavior: “I can’t be late for court.”

Yup, he was headed to the courthouse a block away from where he ran the fat guy in the crosswalk out of a couple of thousand minutes of his life. I pointed out that vehicular manslaughter will land him back in court. His clever retort was, “What do you want me to do?”

I suggested he apologize and quit running through occupied crosswalks. He returned to his very important reason that he couldn’t afford to be late for court.

So, with that happy moment in my personal rearview mirror, I bid farewell to summer. It has been a long one with no less than 6 people blowing redlights/stopsigns/turn signals and blasting through the crosswalk I was occupying. In the 20 years plus that I’ve been walking around the city to work, that is a personal record. People are so distracted by their electronics, and their poor planning, that they are willing to take a life so that they can finish that all-important Facebook post of their cat passing gas.

I confirmed that it is fall this morning, when some idiot in an SUV started to turn through my crosswalk with no signal on his vehicle. I was wearing long sleeves. He was mad that I’d delayed him. I hope he drops that pumpkin-spice chai in his lap.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.


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Too Stupid To Quit

My friend Frank and I have been doing races of some kind for about 20 years. We’ve done a full marathon in 90 degree muggy weather, we’ve done 1/2 marathons in the rain, we’ve snow-shoed across frozen golf courses at temperatures that need no second digit, and we’ve walked across the metro in pursuit of donuts and scenery.

Now, as we close in on our 6th decade as full-fledged morons, we’ve decided to branch out. Because none of the above really was tough enough for us, we’re going to do a 1/2 marathon wearing 35 pound backpacks.

Why? I think I’m responsible for this fiasco. I saw a news article about some 90 year old vet doing a full marathon this last winter, and goaded Frank about having no excuse or something stupid like that. Further, I have often complained over the years that while a lot of skinny little runners can kick our butts on the course, not many of them could put a full pack on and do the distance.

I guess it’s time to put up or shut up. Saturday morning at 0800 we will be assembled for the Bataan Death March Memorial Marathon. Okay, so it’s the Brainerd Bataan Memorial March, but who’s quibbling. Many times in my life I was told to quit whining during some physical training evolution. Often, the instructor would say, “This isn’t the death march.”

That means something to me. I am in awe of the fact that those guys made it marching across the Philippines after the fall of Manila. So off we go to see if we really can do what I’ve been claiming all these years.

Before you scoff, go put a 35 pound weight on your back and walk just one mile. Then you will get the idea. I’ve done 6 miles with a 43 pound pack a time or two, and a bunch of 3 milers with a 60 pound pack, and it’s really hard. I’m hoping that the 35 pound weight is relatively light over a slightly worse distance. By 1600 on Saturday I should have my answer. Below are the before and after pictures.

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We made it. Under our target time with smiles on our faces.

Before the race

Everyone knew the words to the National Anthem. No knees except during the invocation.

The herd leaves the start

Now, a few words about the race. It was about 70 degrees, sunny, a nice breeze. Neither Frank, nor I, found the weight to be particularly oppressive. We both drank a lot of water. One small blister between us. And, best of all, we out-walked quite a few soldiers young enough to be our children, or even grand-children. Not bad for a couple of old coots who were in the Navy. And some more pictures.

The route was lined by American flags held by relatives of the men who died on the Bataan Death March. Very moving, and they were great cheerleaders as we passed by them.

After a few miles, unit cohesion fell apart and there were a lot of guys walking on their own. The course was beautiful.

We made it. We were far from last, and we made it under our goal time.

The reward was a mess-hall spaghetti dinner. It was delicious.

Kids. They just can’t hang with the old dogs.

We’re imbeciles, but we’re happy imbeciles.

And, now, a new thing for the blog – video. Let’s see if it works.

A few words about the local populace are in order at this point. This is the America where I want to live. Flag-waving, patriotic, kind to strangers, and heavily armed. Hunter’s plaid with patriot blood. Everyone was exceptionally encouraging and nice. The good folks at Rutgers were most hospitable, and I will stay there again.

Remember Bataan.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.


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