Impending Ending

2020 will be one of the most difficult years of my life.

And whenever you postulate on future events, there is always someone in the crowd with the need to say, “You don’t know that.” I think maybe they like being contrary or are often wrong or are interested in what they might consider to be a safe bet on telling you later, “I told you so!”

But I do know, so shut up, and let me speak.

Read more…

All I want for Christmas

What I wanted for Christmas in the past was my own home, with my own tree, and my own children. I wanted my spouse. I wanted our life and traditions together. But like many, the American Dream of hearth and home passed me by. I never married therefore never divorced but had 15 years solid of long-term relationships before 10 years of single life. I spent many years single at Christmas.

And what I wanted for Christmas as a single professional was time off. Real time off and peace. To get away from the daily grind and get some real writing done. I wanted resolution of personal tragedy, release from all the hangs on and drags on, from regret. I wanted a solid plan for the challenges of the coming new year. What is Christmas about if not hope in the midst of darkest night? Read more…

Frozen Turkey

It’s OK to serve pre-prepped bake in the bag frozen turkey this Thanksgiving.

I am talking to the cooks now. If you have never run the gauntlet that is cooking Thanksgiving dinner or if stove top stuffing with brown and serve sausage is your heirloom family recipe, you can skip the rest of this blog post.

But if you really cook…

If you would prefer a fresh turkey from the butcher (if you could afford it)…
If you intentionally buy overlarge birds specifically for leftovers…
If you inject or marinate or brine your turkey with a concoction of your own special design… Read more…

Deer Strike

I hit a deer.

I drive a 2013 Chevy Spark that is about the size of a postage stamp named Lorraine. On Sunday she was in great shape! As of Monday night, Lorraine had about $3,500 in damage- nearly the total value of the car.

November travel in the mid-west can be treacherous. It brings the official switch in weather, the harbinger of winter, and it’s mating season for deer. In fact, national auto insurance statistics place Wisconsin (#4), Iowa (#5), and Minnesota (#7) in the top 10 in the nation of likelihood for collision with deer.

Mom is in Illinois and I am in Minnesota. Any route I choose must go through Wisconsin or Iowa. Read more…

Mary & Christine’s Big Adventure- Part 6

Tuesday, June 25 to Friday, June 28 ~ SC-NC-TN-KY-IN (803 miles)

Charleston, SC; Asheville, NC; Columbus, IN

Mom: “There’s nothing wrong with the South Carolina map. That Georgia map is made of cheap paper… probably peach skins…” (Free Georgia map rant continues)

Charleston, SC is only 107 miles northeast of Savannah, GA. They are considered the ‘sister cities of the south’ with a longstanding rivalry over which city is ‘better’. We spoke to a number of locals in Savannah and the consensus among them is that she is the younger, wilder sister. Their impression is that Charleston is more polished and uppity. We didn’t talk to any locals in Charleston to get their side of the story… What I will say about it is that Savannah feels smaller, more relaxed, and artsy. It is true that Charleston’s metropolitan population is twice the size of Savannah. So bigger city, more bustle. Read more…

Mary & Christine’s Big Adventure- Part 5

Friday, June 21 to Monday, June 24 ~ FL-GA (496 miles)

Jacksonville, FL; Savannah, GA; Tybee Island, GA

Every trip has its ups and downs…

The trip from Pensacola to Savannah is a bit of a downer. Neither of us want to leave Pensacola yet. It is a special place for our family, full of happy memories, a beach escape from the vast fields of Illinois corn. But we have made a plan to also visit Savannah and Charleston. Mom is determined to stick to that plan, despite the two days we are short on travel due to our late start and early return.

We travel the interstate through the Florida panhandle, far from the coast and surrounded by thick green forest. We get to Tallahassee and mom announces she “wants to eat somewhere where they have tuna fish on tap.” And the search for the seafood restaurant marks the beginning of Lorraine’s bad behavior. Read more…

Mary & Christine’s Big Adventure- Part 4

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 to Thursday, June 20 ~ AL-FL (315 miles)

Birmingham, AL; Mobile, AL; Pensacola, FL

If you pay attention to my route, you might ask why I drove 60 miles out of the way to Mobile, AL instead of cutting south on the direct route of Hwy 113/29. And the answer is simple: there is no Florida Welcome Center along that route and therefore no official Florida state map. Mom was determined to collect a state map from every welcome center as a souvenir. Also, the way we always and forever entered Florida was through Mobile, so for the sake of upholding tradition, sacrifices must be made. Read more…

Mary & Christine’s Big Adventure- Part 3

Monday, June 17 to Tuesday, June 18, 2019 ~ TN-AL (212 miles)

Nashville, TN; Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament; Birmingham, AL

Today is mom’s 79th birthday.

At 450 miles, the drive yesterday from Peoria to Nashville is the longest stretch we attempt. It takes a lot of energy out of both of us, especially since I had come an additional 430 miles from Minneapolis and mom had chemo shots the previous week. This is going to be a short day and the mantra of our trip resonates: “Take it Easy”. Read more…

Mary & Christine’s Big Adventure- Part 2

Friday, June 14 to Sunday, June 16, 2019 ~ MN-IL-KY-TN (901 miles)

Minneapolis, MN; Peoria, IL; Paducah, KY; Nashville, TN

I head out in Lorraine, my jet-black Chevy Spark, on Friday morning down the familiar route through Iowa, the separation between the home of my birth (Illinois) and the home of my choice (Minnesota). I ponder the usual worries: Did I pack enough of the right things… Will the cats be OK? Will the apartment be safe? Will my car make the trip?

Am I doing the right thing? Is mom too sick for this vacation? Read more…