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Along The River
by:  Ric Marion
e-mail:  ric@ricmarion.com
Life is not about the number of breaths we take, but about the number of times that it takes your breath away.
November 30, 2016

Cusp of December

November 30, 2016 1pm 56 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky, an amazing couple days of near 60 weather at the end of November.

I've been studying Gnostic religion, which appears to fit in more closely with other world religions than the organized Christian church. Closer to Buddha anyway. Have no idea where around here - in the far reaches of the country - where to go for guidance or like minded thinking.

Meanwhile, in the continuing saga, I just had my best November ever for my business. (I hesitated to say that as October was a little off - but November made up for it and then some.) And, it appears the preliminary sales for December indicate yet another record.

Amazing. There is no rhyme or reason to any of this. Still, it keeps coming. Add in an abnormally mild November, with the attendant smaller heat bills, and no snow. I am in awe.

Writer's Circle tomorrow night - and I have little to show for my aborted attempt at NaNoWriMo. Must work on that tonight.

And it goes on. Be it ever thus.

November 17, 2016 11am 50 degrees, clear blue skies after morning fog, near 70 tomorrow before the snow comes.

Sunday night, naked in the light of the full moon, (good thing I moved it up to Sunday, as Monday and Tuesday nights were both cloudy, Sunday was clear as a bell). Mind you, it was chilly out there. Really wasn't that cold until I stepped out of my slippers, the grass was wet and ice cold. And the moon, the moon was glorious, so bright and, being a super moon, so close in the sky you felt you could reach out and touch it. The feeling did not disappoint.

Monday, I had three times sales quota in two stops. Whatever this is, I'm going to ride it 'til the end.

Had something interesting happen last night, I'm not sure whether I should be upset about it or not. I went to a ribbon cutting for a new location for an old friend's computer business. I bought my first non-Apple computer from him many moons ago. I got the tour and then lots of people started showing up for the festivities. I've been in business for 28 years in this town and I know just about everybody. All I got were polite hellos. It felt like I was being ignored. Maybe it is just me, but it seemed as though folks looked at my white hair and decided immediately that there was no reason to engage with this old guy. Some of these people I have done a lot of business with over the years, so that was doubly annoying.
One of our wine group friends, who is my age, mentioned the same thing at dinner the other night. He said his age made people treat him differently. I pointed out it also gets you help when loading something heavy into your car. "Yes, but I don't want to be treated like I'm old."
The part that bothered me the most was feeling as if I am not relevant any more, that my opinions or comments are not valued.

So, was this little lesson from the Angels who watch over me a push to finally put on paper the book rattling around in my head for the past five years? So I can walk into the local newspaper with a book contract (one of the 'polite' people is the publisher of said paper) and be relevant again? Was it meant to make me upset enough to get off my ass and get it done?
Or should I simply accept it as one of those societal slights that happen when you get older?

Gearing up for anniversary Saturday night. Steak and expensive wine definitely on the menu.

Life is good, moonlight and magic, wonder and awe.

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November 13, 2016

Full Moon

November 13, 2016 11am 45 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky, amazing blue, leaves are gone, trees are bare, the next season is upon us, whether we are ready or not.

After 10 days in a cast, turns out my wife's wrist wasn't broken after all. Okay, whatever.

Tonight's weather indicates bathing in the moonlight will be chilly, still, tonight is the full moon and I've done five in a row, so I will be out there.

As the Ancient People knew, the moon imbues the soul with magic and a mystical power that transcends our everyday living. It has certainly worked for me, over these past six months. My business is usually slowing down for the holiday season about now, but, no, this year it is getting busier, leaving me little time to get everything done and haul the money to the bank.

Oddly, as well, it seems to be transferring to my children, all four of whom are doing incredibly well as we move in on the winter. Bizarre, with no explanation on my part because I really can't come up with one.

As to writing, I have been busy handling my wife's inability to use her right hand. Hopefully, this is not a portent of my life as we get older. While there is a certain sensual aspect to washing her hair, the presence of a plaster cast wrapped in plastic bags tends to dampen it somewhat. So, not much writing has gotten done.

Oh, and the election. I didn't get upset. It didn't seem like the right emotion. I recall being much more upset in '72 when McGovern lost. Upset but not as much, in '80, when Reagan won. After living through those two, how bad can this be? Besides, Cousin Charlie, who forwards me all his right wing emails, has already foretold the end of Trump. The yuge left wing international cabal will take him out - one way or another.

This coming Saturday is our wedding anniversary. Not sure what the plans are yet, but I'm hoping they involve steaks and the $140 bottle of wine from Napa.

Waiting now for the arrival of middle son and his fiance. They are coming to get addresses for Save The Date cards. Plus, we haven't seen them for awhile.

Life is good.

November 3, 2016 11am 50 degrees, soaking rain overnight, cloudy skies today.

Saturday, it was 78 degrees here, didn't even break a record, but I took advantage of the sunshine to wash all the windows on the outside of the house, put up birdfeeders, drain hoses and put them away for the winter, replaced a broken window in my shed, lots of stuff. All set for whatever comes.

Tuesday about noon, got a call from my wife's work, asking me to come up there quickly. She had fallen, hard. Quick trip to Urgent Care, she had broken a small bone in her right wrist. Aside from being a terrible patient - "I don't have time for this s**t", the best line was given by the doctor when she asked how long she would be in the cast. "Well, it takes longer for older people to heal." My goodness, was she pissed!

My furtive attempt at NaNoWriMo was to start at 1 pm on Tuesday. Clearly the gods do not want me taking part in this. I actually think they are trying to tell my wife something as well since the broken wrist comes one week after an allergic reaction to mushrooms at her job.

And, then, baseball. I don't even like baseball. But that didn't keep me from getting wrapped up in the World Series. 1 am last night before I made it to bed, after watching what had to be the best game I've ever seen. Wow. Congrats to the Cubbies.

Now that that's over with, and the election winding down, time to get some real writing done.

October 27, 2016 9am 40 degrees, drizzle, starting snowing yesterday afternoon and got heavy at times, had an inch or so on the grass before it started to warm up and turned to rain, rained all night, now tapering off to spits and spurts. Was definitely not ready to see huge white flakes coming down hard. Hopefully this does not bode ill for the upcoming season.

Deciding whether or not I want to get involved in NaNoWriMo. Huge commitment but it might just be what I need to get myself off of dead center. Been having a problem with that. Perhaps a new project to juice the process along.

Everything else in my life seems to be working - except the writing part. And that doesn't make any sense. It would seem logical now that my business has evolved to only taking a few hours a day, money is no longer a constant worry, family is doing beyond great, Mom is being cared for 24/7, and I have all this TIME, it should be the most productive phase of my life. And, yet, the blank pages remain.

Perhaps my new mantra of going with the flow needs a little push. Of course, that sort of thinking gets us to Nike slogans. Just do it, already.

".. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

kudos to JRR Tolkien.

Off to start my day.

October 23, 2016 11am 50 degrees, crystal clear blue Michigan sky, nearing peak color, vistas of orange and red.

Naked in the light of the full moon for 5 straight months. Not sure how this is going to work when it gets colder - one friend said soak in a tub of very hot water, then rush outside into the snow, which sounds much like a Finnish sauna, but, then again, it might work. Last Sunday featured a stiff south breeze and abnormally warm for October, so it was marvelous and the moon did not disappoint.

Woke late on Tuesday morning to sunlight filtered through yellow leaves. A most amazing palette of color and light. The air seemed golden in one of those moments that takes your breath away. Getting more and more of those lately.

Stopped by to visit my 85 year old first cousin, who called to tell me she had found old photos she wanted me to have. Actually, what she is doing is going through everything so her kids won't have to, she returned a number of Christmas photo cards I had sent her over the years.
Backstory - My Mother started sending photo Christmas cards in 1951 - I was six months old and sitting on a box leaning against the house, with my two older brothers all bundled up. Mother has all the cards, all the years since, and you can watch the progression from little, to bigger, to young adult, to grown up.
My wife and I started the same tradition - however, we were not as organized as Mom. So, yesterday, with extra cards from my cousin, we started to put together an album of every Christmas card we've sent since 1978. This is a huge project, forcing us to go through literally thousands of pictures, junk drawers, dusty boxes, and random things.
By this morning, we have every year except 2005. And the years show our four children growing up before our eyes, like a slow motion camera. Though with our group, facial hair seems to be the in thing.
Yet another moment. Be it ever thus.

October 15, 2016 10am, 50 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky, touches of orange and yellow appearing all around, southerly breeze.

It has been five months since I first encountered the magic of the full moon on Mid Summers Day. My life has taken on the glowing fervency of a newly baptised child, without the trappings. I make no effort to explain it, I am simply going with it. Weird things keep happening. And, it seems, I am on some sort of new frequency where I am able to pick up on things, notice little nudges to my brain that probably have always been there, but I've not taken the time to explore.
I do make an effort not do be too evangelical but, at the same time, this feels so fantastic, it should be shared. Many New Ager's tell me that everything happens for a reason. I fought this notion for a long time, believing our lives are simply our lives, not something predetermined. Now, I'm not so sure. It really does feel like I have a Guardian Angel, gently nudging me in the right direction, watching over me.
For instance, the dryer. My wife works a couple days a week and on those days, she rises at 3:30 in the morning. So when I go to bed on those nights, she is sound asleep. The other night, I went to bed at midnight and she said, "Good night." I said, "Why is the dryer running?" "I've got towels in there." "Okay, night."
In the morning, when I woke up the dryer was still running. The towels were dry - duh. But further investigation revealed the dryer was not giving out any heat. Off to Google to research a new heating element for the dryer. Had a hard time with this as the model number had a letter in the sequence that was not recognized by the websites. Turns out, the letter indicated Harvest Gold. Those of you under forty will have no idea what that is, but it has created a lot of interesting discussions when I tell this story. So, off to town to obtain said part, of which there were many selections, so back home, to tear apart the dryer and physically determine which part I needed. As soon as I took the back off, I saw an electrical connection was broken. Ah, ha. Cut the wire, take the connector off, go back to town. Got the part, total cost - 10 cents. Back home, reconnect. Then, since I had the dryer out from the wall, I figured a good time to vacuum up cobwebs and such. This is when I noticed the dryer vent was half full of lint - a huge fire hazard. Three coffee cans full of lint. All cleaned up, dryer in place, heat! And it has been working fine since - which is quite a feat for a thirty year old dryer.
Point of the story. A costly repair only ended up costing 10 cents. AND I probably saved the house from burning down. Had the electrical connection not broken, would the house have burned down? What series of events could cause dryer to run all night and alert me to the problem? 10 cents? Really?
My life is becoming a never ending series of these things.
And I am so amazed

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September 8, 2016

And It Goes On

Sept 8, 2016 Noon, 77 degrees, looks like rain, been 90+ the past few days

My youngest, Pat, is on tour with Belle Noire. He is blogging about it here - http://casualpunkfan.com/

Turning into a pretty decent writer.

Soaked in the moonlight of the full moon in August - things keep on going bizarrely. yesterday morning, I had all my bills paid, money in the bank and an accounts receivable of 5 figures. This roll is reaching the point where most people would be waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm not. I'm starting to think it can go on indefinitely. That's it, a positive attitude.

Life is good - sometimes great.

August 26, 2016 11am 71 degrees, puffy white clouds.

Into my 9th week of wonder. Who would have thought the magic of the Druids would be so strong? It is amazing.
Late June, I was at my local Kroger's in search of grape jelly to feed my growing troupe of Baltimore Orioles - 2 sets of parents - 4 offspring each. There was an older gentleman checking out the jelly and I could tell he was being price conscious. When I was checking out, he got in line behind me. He only had a few things and the girl finished ringing him up before I got my wallet shut. I said to her, "I'll pay for his, too." She took my money and smiled. He seemed confused, then glad and I left without another word. You have no idea how good that made me feel - I was in a cloud the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, sales have never been better in my real business. I'm just so upbeat all the time.
So - at the July full moon - Bucks Moon, I stood in the yard naked and soaked in the glorious moonlight. I went for a second night and, as I stood there in the light, the buck who lives under my apple tree snorted - scared the bejeebers out of me. Guess 2 nights in a row are not necessary.

Eight days in San Francisco with our youngest son. So gratifying as a parent to see our kids making their own way in the world, proud, growing accomplishments, trying new things, happy & healthy.
Knocked a good number of things off the Bucket List, Cable cars, Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate, Google, Napa.
Back home, we had a minor EMP or something. My cell phone quit, my wife's cell phone broke, my computer monitor died. Five days later, one son had an extra phone, another son did as well, and my daughter had an extra monitor. Problems solved, cost "O"!!

July 13, 2016 10am 76 degrees, going to 90.

If one is slightly steeped in the idea that the Druids or, most likely, their predecessors built Stonehenge to tap into the power of the longest day of the year, it doesn't take much to figure (as the Druids did) that dancing naked during the shortest night of the year renews your inner spiritual strength. Add to that mystical experience a full moon which only happens every sixty years or so. And magic happens.
Incidentally, my wife says sharing this story with the masses is indelicate. She thinks it is something I should share only with our friends. Oddly, my friends would not understand. On the other hand, two ladies in my writers group surprised me. Both were upset they missed it and jealous because they live in town and would have no place to be naked outside.

July 2, 2016 1pm 72 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky.

Been an interesting couple of weeks.Started with Family arriving in town - always fun. Drove through a blinding rainstorm two weeks ago - the last rain we have gotten - to Mom's place - 30 miles. Hung out with by three brothers all day. Next day a wedding for my Grand niece. Outdoors at my niece's house - 85 degrees. Was expecting a secular wedding but instead got a West Michigan Dutch Reformed Protestant ceremony. The sermon portion of this on Ruth- which has absolutely nothing to do with marriage. Odd choice made even more annoying by the mis-pronunciation of Naomi. Nay-o-MY - emphasis on last syllable. And the reading of the Marriage Contract which included the word 'obey' at least four times. But good food, cheap wine and fun. That was Friday.
Saturday another wedding. this a niece on my wife's side. Our youngest son was best man. Outside again in the hot sun - 90 degrees. extremely warm. Ceremony which we expected to be religious due to numerous ordained ministers in family was New Age secular. God was not invoked. Reception at a winery so at least the wine was better - food was great, even danced.
Sunday morning. Back to Mom's so her four sons were in church with her. Mom is 93. Three of the four brothers could imagine somewhere else to enjoy Father's Day.
Monday was Midsummer's Day. My two youngest boys came to wish me a happy Father's Day. Middle son was at the US Open - Dad got a new golf shirt. Youngest was leaving to go home to California.
Late at night, I stood naked in the yard bathed in the light of the full moon on Midsummer's Day.
Things have been getting weirder ever since.

June 12, 2016 10am 63 degrees - cool day, nice breeze, yesterday was 93 - oppressive.

Random Thoughts - I'm not writing enough, even though I have lots and lots of time on my hands. My business only takes three or four hours a day and the rest of the time, I'm usually playing stupid computer games that do nothing to advance my writing.

Caught a Bee Gee's special on PBS last night. Did anyone ever notice that their song lyrics don't make any sense? Great lines, great music, but the songs don't make a story, just a glimpse of a story. I want to hear the whole story, not be left to make up my own. Okay, just thought it was strange.

Went to my Granddaughter's Dance Recital yesterday. She is five. Very cute, as she tried to keep all her fellow dancers in line, to the point of not doing her own dancing. As to the rest of the recital, which included all grades, I have a couple of comments. One, is it anywhere near appropriate for 8 year olds to be dancing to "Shake Your Booty."?
Is it even appropriate for them to know what a "Booty" is? I guess this falls under what is the correct way to raise a little girl? Do you let them be girls or do you impose the stereotypes so many of us are trying to remove from the conversation?

Another thing. I may be an outlier, but I don't get choreography. I don't understand the concept. Not sure why that matters one way or another, but I'm not one of those people who is comfortable being in a performance group. In other words, if I'm not the star, the lead man, I'm not really interested in doing it. Doesn't interest me to be the third from the left in a chorus line. More to the point, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would be happy to do that.

Guess that's about it for this morning. The yard is calling me to knock down weeds and other nefarious invaders.

May 17, 2016 9am 47 degrees, had snow on Sunday, first time ever snow on May 15, furnace is using up the last of the propane, not happy.

Busy time. My 71 year old older brother announced he is getting married at the end of August. Very happy for him, finding love a second time - though I don't envy him combining two households, deciding which to let go and what to keep. He has been in his house 40 years and his bride has been in hers 50. Is 70 really the new 50 and you actually have the energy to do all this?

That sets us up for 4 weddings this summer. New beginnings, much fun.

Spent this past weekend babysitting the grandchildren while Mom and Dad went to a two day seminar on autism. Our youngest granddaughter, age 3, has been diagnosed on the spectrum, as they say. She is already enrolled in a program, progressing well, and we hope for the best. Still, watching a 3 year old and a five year old is long and tiring for Grandma and Papa.

Had snow on Sunday and a cold wet weekend so no yard work time was lost. This weekend will be more challenging as I try to catch up.

Was in my local wine store yesterday and overheard a gal asking the owner if he had any empty wine bottles, which, of course, he did not. I asked her how many she wanted. "How many do you have?" "A thousand or so." "Good Lord. Why do you have so many?" "Cause I'm too embarrassed to put them in the trash or take them to recycling."

She's coming to get some this afternoon.

Ah, life in the country.

My Baltimore Orioles are back and enjoying home made grape jelly, while adding a flash of color to my yard. Dogwood in full bloom. Glorious.

May 4, 2016 Had sunshine, now is trying to cloud up, 62 degrees, rain in the forecast

Noted yesterday that the quince bush is in bloom, so, sitting in the sunshine on the front porch, I heard a beautiful birdsong, looked up to see my first Oriole of the season. So, off to cut up oranges and open a jar of my wife's homemade grape jelly. They haven't found it yet, but they will.

Also had a confused finch trying to find the feeder that I took down yesterday. He would fly in to land, apparently not looking at where he was going, and then would veer off at the last second, still in landing mode. After a few minutes, I think he figured it out.

Got to see one of nature's true spectacles last evening. In the field across the road from my house, was a tom turkey in full display. Tail feathers up in a fan, chest puffed out, very regal looking. He was attempting to impress a hen nearby, who, like most females do when confronted with horny males, simply ignored him. She continued to move away from him and he would try to follow without losing his display which he couldn't do. So he would deflate, put his tail down, walk ten feet or so closer, then go back to his display. and she continued to ignore him and move further away. This went on across the quarter mile or so width of the field. Fascinating to watch, I've only seen displays like that on nature programs.

And, once the election was decided last night, I switched to PBS and watched American Masters - Janis Joplin.

Life is good.

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May 3, 2016

Spring Arrives

May 3, 2016 9am, 47 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies. Quince bush is nearly blooming its bright red flowers. Time to put out grape jelly for the Baltimore Orioles - the sign they are about to show up. Had lots last year, so pretty flitting about the yard.
Bird feeders down and put away, should be warm enough this week to fire up the lawn mower and get started on yet another year of yard work.

Today would have been my Dad's 93rd birthday. He said he always looked forward to his birthday because it was the first day his mother would let him go outside without shoes on.

Finished John Lennon Letters, a gift from youngest son, something a little different than what I usually read.

Much work to get done, coming up on my busy time of year. Which is good, money flowing, days of endless sunshine, a chance to work outside in the garden, getting back to my roots.

Life is good.

April 10, 2016 Noon, 29 degrees, heavy snow falling, 2-5 inches changing to rain and 50 degrees by midnight. Gotta love Michigan in the springtime.

Picked a few very cold daffodils this morning. First of the season. Mind you, the weather is here so wacky, I expect to be on the golf course on Friday with 60 degrees.

My wife took my Mother to her great-granddaughter's bridal shower yesterday. An event that probably doesn't happen too often. In addition, my 85 year old cousin visited Mom as well. Not too many folks that age can stop in and chat with their aunt.

Life is getting busy around here. Have two weddings in June, another in July, a graduation open house, and a planned trip to California to see our youngest. And, naturally, summer is my busiest time for my other business as well.

It'll be fun. Not sure where in there I am supposed to actually work on my novel, not that I've been doing much more than stare at the blank screen and wonder what the hell I was thinking?

But, just writing this little bit every few days keeps my fingers remembering where to press the keys and make the words appear, so I guess we'll keep trying.

Life is good.

April 3, 2016 3pm, 27 degrees, been snowing all day, three inches on the ground, more coming.

Did a literary gig at the local art gallery last week. I did blogging and local columns, very strange, but people actually came, three out of four presenters showed up, a non-fiction writer who doesn't want to be a writer, and another gal who writes Christian children's books about bullying with talking horses. Yeah, I didn't understand that either.

Gearing up for a long week - my day job is overflowing with demanding work right now and I have to be out there kicking it.

Life is good. Thanks for all the great comments on my recent entries.

March 24, 2016 Noon 37 degrees, raining

Been looking at the last two entries and decided combining them works better - read March 20 entry and my friend's response. Thanks.

March 23, 2016 9am 35 degrees, big storm coming.

March 20, 2016 3pm 39 degrees and nearly clear blue Michigan skies.
Been warm, been cold, cold right now, but, overall, a pretty nice spring.

As you know, if you are a faithful reader of these ramblings, my wife and I are one couple of five, who have raised our kids together since Cub Scouts, through the raucous teenage years, fits and starts at college, graduations, first jobs, marriages and, lately, grandchildren.

Our group could be considered American Middle Class, mostly college educated, house in the country, good paying jobs, wives are teachers, managers, typical.

Because we are so typical, our children are, as well. (Mine are brighter, of course.) And with any parents raising kids these days, certain events are likely to happen. Teenage car wrecks, MIP's, brushes with drugs, tattoos, couple of DUI's, normal stuff.

We've had a couple of close calls with the drugs, both of which have sorted themselves out at this point, but the third one, a bit more complicated, and a bit more scary. And this young gentleman, now 28, got hooked on pain killers after hurting his back at work. Back pain, always a mystery, and opiates are a potent combination. Add in a divorce, a handsome five year old, and over-indulgent parents and you have the makings of a disaster. Which has happened.

So my dilemma is: What does one say to very good friends with whom you have vacationed, played Little League, threw Graduation parties, held their hands through crises, the death of their parents, the birth of their grandchild? What do you say when their only son is sent to prison for four to twenty years?

I have a pretty good imagination, but I have nothing. Yes, his Dad says he may finally get the help he so desperately needs to break his addiction. But he is a gentle soul whose years behind walls of brick and barbed wire are unimaginable.

On this first day of Spring, my heart aches. For a future lost, for his parents, for our little group of dear friends quietly living our lives, supporting and loving each other through thick and thin, my heart aches.

I got a heartbreaking response from my good friend. It is a Dad's deeply felt reaction to his only son's troubles. Reprinted here with his permission.

I tried to write my son a letter again. I cried so hard. I was exhausted after and felt worse -- same as the last time and the time before that.

I think hard to try to say something that will somehow convey just the right thing that a father should say. It has to say "it will be all right". It has to say "this saved your life". It has to say "I'm sorry this happened to you". It basically needs to Dad him and Mom him and Cop him and Teacher him and Friend him. Does he need hope? Lets throw that in.

I do better when I see him. He looks so much better than he did at any time in the last 5 years when he was using. He went into jail I think 6 months ago at near 100 lbs. He has gained nearly 60 back now and it is not because the food is great. He actually looks beefy now.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that my son should not be punished, certainly. He had already passed the point of "victim of casual Rx drug addiction" and was well on his way to "breaking bad". Without intervention of some sort, the "story arc" of the heroin addict ends in early death. And for many if not all, breaking the law to feed your habit and ending up in prison is more like a hopeful turn of events. He has actually said this. He is relieved in a way that this happened.

I think he needs to be separated from society until his physical addiction is gone, then introduced back in a controlled manner with lots of support.

What does one say to a good friend when their only son is sent to prison for four to twenty years? For my dear, close, awesome friends it sounds sappy but the truth is that just knowing that you care and understand and even take the time to wonder what to say -- that is enough.

For more casual friends I would try hopefully "it will be all right"... maybe point out "this saved his life". Probably most importantly I would say "this is not your fault".

For some things it is easy to look back now and say "if we would only have done this differently or that" (We surely should not have bailed him out of jail for example). We could have tried harder to get him to seek help. We could have learned more about our role and tried hard to make sure we were not enabling. We could have kicked him out of the house. We could have turned him in. Could-a would-a should-a.

But in reality, there is no way to know. Certainly things could have been better ... and perhaps worse.

March 6, 2016 10am 29 degrees, fresh inch of snow yesterday, now nothing but 50's & 60's going forward. 8 inches of snow on the ground, going to take a while, but the groundhog appears correct in calling for an early spring - granted, only a week or two early, but, hey, we'll take whatever he dishes up.

Last night, I collected on a Christmas present from my oldest son. Another couple and my wife and I wandered down into the shiny construction zone that is Downtown Detroit to see a Broadway play, A Night with Janis Joplin, one night only at the Fox Theatre.

The Fox is where the Republicans held their debate on Thursday - the debate that finally sunk the campaign of Donald Trump. It is owned and was restored by Mike Illich who started Little Caesar's Pizza and now owns The Detroit Tigers and Red Wings. The Fox sits across the street from where the Tigers play and next door is a huge construction project that will be the new home of the Red Wings. See? Very much happening and, on the street in front of the theatre, a new rail line, trolley is being installed.

The oldest son of the couple we went with is now living and working in Downtown, part of the Millennial influx helping to revitalize the city.

We had dinner at Hockeytown - which was fun and not too expensive. Then over to the Fox - my wife hadn't been there in forty years. Looking forward to something for three months and having the usher look at your ticket and say, "Those are really good seats." just added to the excitement. When the second usher said the same thing, it was even better. Front row balcony - Thanks, Son!

Of course, I'm a big Janis Joplin fan - even have Joplin tunes as the ringtones on my phone. So, needless to say, hearing her songs belted out in a near perfect venue, in a nearly perfect imitation, was a true delight.
We wondered if the crowd would be a bunch of aging baby boomers and were pretty close. They even had bus full of older folks unloading. It was great fun.
And after, from the start of the freeway two blocks away, to our hometown, exactly one hour. Perhaps we should go down there more often.
Primary election in Michigan this Tuesday. There are a lot of commercials on. Candidates are spending an yuge amount of money.

Going to fill the bird feeders and start a fire in th

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March 1, 2016

Then Again, and Yet Again

March 1, 2016 3pm 23 degrees, snowing to beat the band. After our 11 inches of snow last week, it warmed to near 60 on Sunday and most of it melted away. This morning we are getting hit with another big snow storm, the weather forecasters just upgraded it calling for 7-11 inches of new snow. Welcome, March. Calling for 50's on the weekend, 60's next week.

Thankfully, I have nowhere to be. Drove nearly 100 miles yesterday, checking on all my restaurants.

Considering we are four weeks from Groundhog's Day, and HE DID PROMISE an early spring, presumably, this is the last of it....

Writers Circle this Thursday. Always great to see everyone. After ten years, they all become friends. Also was invited by another old writing friend to be a part of written arts at the Pix Theatre/Gallery 194 at the end of the month. We'll see what comes of that, if anything.

I'm a political junkie - getting geared up for our primary next Tuesday.

Got to share some quality time with my youngest son Sunday afternoon and evening, even though he is on the West Coast. We always do the Oscars together, researching who might win and trying to watch all the movies. I slacked off this year, but he saw them all and correctly called Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies. We were both a little annoyed at the overkill concerning oscars so white. A little bit would have been fine, but repeatedly stuffing the show with it was unworthy of the Oscars. Many other important social issues were swept aside, ie, the appearance of Vice President Biden and Leo's impressive stance on global warming, among others.

And so it goes.

February 25, 2016 10am 29 degrees, ten inches of snow yesterday and overnight, still coming down this morning. An amazing amount of white stuff. Needless to say, I'm not going anywhere today - didn't go anywhere yesterday either. There is nothing I need to do that can't wait until tomorrow.

Out here, in the far reaches of civilization, the snow plows have not yet come, travel is limited to those with expensive four wheel drive pickups. As I write this, the snow plow just went by - he'll get to the end of his route in twenty minutes or so and then come back by, putting down sand and salt as well as moving the snow off the road.

Many things happening. Got my Medicare card in the mail last week. Birthday coming up. Have tickets for A Night with Janis Joplin for next Saturday at the Fox Theatre in Downtown Detroit. This is very exciting for someone who has Joplin songs as the ringer on his cell phone. Now, if I can just find my old Nehru jacket...

Well, that was impressive, the mail truck just went by - figured since everything else within fifty miles of here is closed today, the mail wouldn't run. Neither rain nor snow......

A quiet day, maybe get some real work done.

February 15, 2016 10am 19 degrees, sprite of snow this morning, enough to slick up the roads, not much else. Broke record for low temp over the weekend, -12.

There is something about winter. The bright white, clean against the stark dark of naked trees, occasional birch or aspen reinforcing the white. Yet, because the cold seeps into your bones, and the days are short and gray, you wish to be away from it all, somewhere warm and sunny. And I've found living in one of those climates is not conducive to one's health or mental state. The monotony of weather that never changes from one season to the next. Even as wonderful as that sounds, here in the depths of winter, not having the change of seasons, the budding forth of shoots in the spring, the sweltering dog days of August, the first red leaves changing in October. These are necessary for the renewal of the spirit, the affirmation that things are always changing, always renewing, that the status quo does not persist forever.

Come Spring, be welcome.

February 9, 2016 10am, 28 degrees, snow coming down lightly, about 4 inches so far, coming in off the East Coast (thanks, guys). Usually this wouldn't be a problem, however, Lake Huron - some forty miles east of here should be frozen over by now, instead, thanks to El Nino, it is open water and the winds blowing across pick up the moisture and drop it on us as light fluffy snow.

And what I really want to do is wander into town and scarf down a couple paczkis. I will likely make the trek this afternoon as the wife is working (my son took her in at 5am with his four wheel drive). She thinks I'm a wimp if I don't come out in this weather.

The depths of February, waiting for the warming rays of the sun to return us to the rebirth of the seasons.

January 17, 2016 10am 14 degrees, gray winter skies, icy driveway, cold, getting colder all day.

Life is good here along the banks of the Flint River. Who knew there existed corrosive minerals and dangerous stuff in all that water flowing past my house? Thanks to Rachel Maddow, everyone knows it now. And, yes, I am upstream, so the water in Flint has to pass by here first.

Interesting to see if Flint's Congressman, Dan Kildee, whom I've known over the years (his wife was my editor at the Flint Journal way back), is positioning himself to run for Governor. That would be fun.

Have an ever increasing pile of books next to my chair. Thanks to tech savvy children, I am trying to get in all the Oscar contenders before the Academy Awards - all without leaving the house. (no, I really didn't just say that)

Last Sunday, a windstorm took out the cable and internet with two minutes left in the Minnesota/Seattle game. it was out for 12 hours, nothing left to do but read and breed and wife went to sleep. Got a good fix of Steven King, always a great way to spend a Sunday night, even if I would rather watch Ricky Gervais insult celebrities.

Dealing with winter here, cold one day, 40 the next, but, it is what it is. Propane tanks are full, four wheel drive to get around, love and warmth to get through until the January Thaw.

December 29, 2015 11am, 39 degrees, got two inches of white sleet, raining lightly now, melting. Has been a very warm December, green Christmas, no complaints from here.

Survived the Holidays in great shape. Had an odd thing happen though, I'm sure there is a reasonable explanation but I'm not sure I really want to know. I paid for most presents with cash and it seemed every time I opened my wallet, there was more money in there. Like I said, not sure I want the explanation.

Got youngest home from California for a couple weeks, he had been gone six months, his Mother was very happy. Middle son proposed to his long time girl friend, now fiance, welcome to the family, Lindsay. Got the ring through his cousin, Josh who is an executive at Ritani.

I got lots of cool stuff and my kids got lots of cool stuff and, yeah, it was a good year all around.

This is kinda fun. I feel great, the family is great, love is in the air, winter is cooperating as far as travel and warmth, on a roll.

This week is New Year's Eve feast and cards. Menu for seven course meal looks great, I will be a designated KB - with an apron saying just that.
Fun, wine, great friends, another year ends, another begins.

Be it ever thus.

November 22, 2015 12:30pm, 28 degrees, 8 inches of bright fresh snow that arrived yesterday in an all day storm. This morning, blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a driveway that I could probably get out of but not get back up the slight hill to the house.

It has been unseasonably warm here all month, so the snow is a welcome respite - especially since it should be gone by Thanksgiving.

Work continues to amaze. Most days I don't have to leave the house unless I want to. All very odd, but it works. It seems a good economy has conspired to create more demand and it is just those few extra sales that make the difference between surviving and prospering. Wish I had figured that out twenty years ago, I would have worked harder to make those extra sales.

Stopped in to see an old friend at their new job the other day. She said she saw me walk into the lobby and thought I was glowing with happiness. Interesting projection to be making, and I'm sure she's right. The past six months, since I've started doing my "happy" thing, is among the greatest periods of my life. I feel so great.

who'd a thunk?

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A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

Indian Summer
originally posted: October 11, 2015

October 11, 2015 1pm 70 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky, glorious light.

The sun shining through yellow leaves, a magnificent Tuscon glow in the early morning and late evening, it is easy to see why painters crave the subtle shades - it is so magical.

My whole life is magic right now. Not sure what is going on, or what I've done to deserve these mystical hours, but I am beyond thankful.

Trees turning towards autumn gold, sky so achingly blue, and, deep into the night, stars, oh, my gosh, the stars. The Milky Way curving overhead from northeast to southwest, Orion in his glory, the Big Dipper in the northwest sky.

And, add to this all my other great fortune, family doing great, hither, tither and yon. Bank accounts not crying out for an infusion of cash to keep from cratering, dinner with my brothers and Mother last night, a fall wine trip being planned, life is indeed good, great.

And we go on.

October 8, 2015 10am 50 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky, rain coming tonight. Boiler hasn't kicked on since Sunday.

Go CUBS! Since the powers that be (or were) at the Detroit Tigers gave away all our talent, I really need to root for someone. 100 year underdogs seems like a good choice.

Quiet week, work wise. Or, could be I'm simply trying real hard not to do any substantive work.

The local paper hired a columnist to write about growing up in the area. Gee, sounds like something I did for ten years for the Big Paper. If I sound like I'm a bit miffed they didn't offer me the job, well, you probably heard that right.

I seem to be getting caught up in the hype surrounding City On Fire. All his success and the artful way he is handling his fame through interviews, it almost seems as though he is channelling my dreams of forty odd years ago. I'll get there, just taking a bit longer than I had expected.

Heard a great quote on Charlie Rose last night, spoken by Megan Kelly - who, as a liberal, I have a problem getting past the foxy blond. She quoted Dr. Phil - always a dicey proposition - but it fits the above paragraph. “The only difference between you and someone you envy is that you settle for less."
I like that. Now, to work.

October 4, 2015 12pm 52 degrees, cold, misty rain drops - not really raining, but you can see the moisture hanging in the air. Brisk wind still blowing. Broke down yesterday morning and turned the boiler on - it was just too cold in the house, cold that seeps into your bones and you can't get warm.

Dr. Who on BBC America. Fun stuff, warming to the new iteration of the Doctor. Also caught Hillary Clinton's bit on Saturday Night Live.

Pretty quiet here, life is good.

October 1, 2015 2pm 56 degrees with a brisk wind coming in from the Northeast. Clear Blue Michigan skies. East winds are the worst, they bring changes to the weather, and my house faces east, so the majority of my windows are taking the wind head on, makes for a chilly house. Since I have hot water heat, the boiler has not been started for the winter and the only heat is what I can generate from my fireplace - which also, is not one of those fancy kind with heatalaters and blowers, it is open and much of the heat produced goes right up the chimney. That said, I was able to raise the temp in the living room last night from 62 to 68 - only requiring four trips to the woodpile.

Tonight is Writer's Circle. I somehow have been made the director of same, even though it has been months since I've written anything of consequence. Don't know why I keep doing this, I suppose it is the idea that some morning the spark will reignite and I'll be off to the races. And, without my loyal support group, I would have nowhere to determine whether what I am writing is any good.

Mom's caregiver, according to her doctor, was only a couple hours away from hospitalization with pneumonia. And so it goes.

September 29, 2015 2pm 63 degrees, gray clouds with a touch of blue here and there. Has been 76-80 for past ten days, cold front is coming through this afternoon. Been nice, wish it would last.

Just returned from our Annual Wine Tasting Weekend. Four couples, much wine, too much golf, lots of cards, good food, and friendship. This was our 11th year - we have matching shirts with 11 wine bottles on the sleeve, looks very professional. On the other side, Traverse City and surrounding area is taking advantage of the increased tourism, and the opportunities for people watching are wonderful.

The guys added an extra day to golf, staying overnight at the Doherty Hotel in Clare, Michigan. These folks are an enterprising outfit. They put together cheap golf packages and then act as the center, offering free breakfast and a nice room. You have to picture a whole hotel full of 55-75 year old men in golf shorts. I saw nary a female except on the waitstaff. Some groups were on a five day golf outing, playing different courses around the state each day.

Off to my home town now. My Mother's Caregiver is ill. Mother is 92 and the Caregiver is 68. It is becoming increasingly likely that Mom is going to outlive her.

Gotta love it.

September 14, 2015 11am 68 degrees, clear blue Michigan Skies. Temps all over the map, from high of 93 to high of 53 on Saturday, now back to the 80's. Actually had to build a fire in the fireplace just to take the chill off.

Meanwhile, on the front porch, across the way in the hay field, a young buck, four point, magnificent animal. Don't usually get to see them with antlers that big from my chair.

And this morning, outside my office window, bluebirds. I really must put up some boxes for them to next in, they are such a pretty little bird.

Have come to one of those places in my life where everything is going well, snapping into place, creating a strong foundation on which to build. This is so much different than scraping by day to day, rushing from one crisis to the next. This is, "So, how's it going, Ric?" and the response is so enthusiastic they are soon sorry they asked.

I am healthy, don't take a single pill, tomorrow I turn closer to 65 than to 64, Business has never been better, a family doing well, thriving, a wife who, against the odds, still loves me and still provides a warm smile on a chilly evening.

And so it goes. Next chapter being written.

September 8, 2015 1pm, 71 degrees, cloudy, humid, oppressive, Tied a record yesterday for high temp, at 93, muggy now, 1 3/4 inches of rain yesterday afternoon and this morning.

Trying hard to get back into the swing of things. My Mother, who is 92, needed tending this weekend, as her caregiver had back surgery ten days ago. I was there all afternoon on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. It is tiring, Mom's memory isn't the best and she repeatedly asks why we are there, what we're going to do, and then promptly forgets the answer three minutes later and asks again.
There are occasional glimpses of the old Mom, like if I give a smart ass answer, like, "I'm going to go visit my girlfriend." She will respond, "Good luck with that."

Anyway, hard to keep up with what's really going on when you are time stuck with Mom.

But, then again. I am among the few of my friends at my age, who can say they are going to have lunch with their Mother. For that, I am thankful and blessed. Matter of fact, I am going into the big city tonight for the wake of a friend's Mother.

One can see how disruptive caregiving can be. Trying to get back into the swing of things. Annual Wine Trip is two weeks away, much to do before I sleep.

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Dawn comes Later
originally posted: September 3, 2015

September 3, 2105 5pm 78 degrees, raining

Dawn comes later now, as the sun moves further south in the sky. Getting up at my regular time means searching for my pants in the faint glow of morning yet to come.
Coffee started, first cigarette of the day, opening the front door to step onto the concrete pad that serves as my stoop. Still dark, the east a gradually lightening horizon. Bats swoop in, silent, gathering the last of their feeding before roosting for the day.
Early birds waking, calling out to friends and neighbors, traffic picking up on the road as day shifters head south toward jobs in the city.
The sun breaks over the trees across the way, strong and warm even this late in the year. The flowers perk up and spread their petals to the life giving glow. Hummingbirds appear, going first to the feeder, since that is easier than tending to the flowers. The Daddy Baltimore Oriole flies into the feeder, calling out in his high sharp bark, to let the family know I’ve filled it with more of my wife’s homemade grape jelly. They will follow shortly, pushing each other out of the way.
Now, a cup of warm coffee, two sugars, half and half, warm in my hand, watching the world come awake, another night past, another dawn here, life is good.

August 21, 2015 10am 66 degrees, clear blue Michigan Sky.

Sitting on the front porch this morning nearly in the shade that a week ago was twenty feet south. Amazing how the sun is making its move as it rises in the morning, and the fall chill in the air doesn't help.

SNAFU yesterday as I printed 20,000 placemats with the wrong dates on them. Ah, well, things happen. Cost of doing business, I guess. Doesn't make for a well celebrated day, however.

Today, I'll wander down to our local festival - I try to go on Friday every year, just to get the egg rolls sold by the Episcopal Church. They had an Asian pastor for years - his special recipe - and the closest thing to Chinatown in New York I've been able to find.

Picture a 17 year old, fresh off the farm, from a town with a population of 899, walking the lower streets of Manhattan with his cousins, tasting real egg rolls for the first time.

In this life, what lies around the next corner is the best thing you will encounter today.

Life is good.

August 17, 2015 11am 82 degrees, hot, getting humid, fluffy white clouds, maybe a cold front later.

Watered the flowers last night, phlox are doing well in their first year getting reestablished. Still trying to get the hang of the geraniums.

Have taken to sitting in the front yard, either on the porch (not really a porch, just a 6 by 8 concrete pad, or, if the sun is too hot there, twenty feet to the south where the shade stays.

There is a large construction project going on a half mile north of me, so the crews come by every morning, six days a week, with truck after truck full of electrical stuff. They are putting up a huge electrical line to Flint's new water plant which is being built a couple miles west of here.

Wildlife apparently doesn't like the hot weather, not seeing much out and about.

Life continues to be interesting. The kids are all doing great, thriving and looking to the future with anticipation. The wife and I are rolling towards whatever comes next in our lives.

Had a copy editor go berserk over the word "towards". Apparently, it doesn't exist as a word even though that's the way you say it.....

Business is booming, time to read a bit, working my way through Cupidity by Patricia Wood. She uses a couple of odd devices I'm having trouble with. More about that at a later date.

Just finished Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman - who never disappoints.

And - in my neck of the woods, as reported by Jimmy Fallon,
Our local State Representative, Todd Courser, "God helped me win the election to do His Will",
got caught in an affair with another Tea Party
Republican. Yeah, okay, whatever. Then attempted to cover it up byspreading a rumor he had been arrested with a male prostitute in an effort, as he put it, "to inoculate the herd" by starting a scandal so
absurd no one would believe it and make his own
indiscretion seem mild by comparison.
Fortunately, or not, depending on your point of view, one of his aides, a good Christian lad, tape recorded the events, and, when he refused to play along, was fired and went to the press with the recording.
Hey, you can't make this stuff up. Courser's office is two doors from Brian's Restaurant where my wife works and she has been treated to non-stop news
trucks.

For all you agents, writers, editors out there - if this were the query letter for a novel, you would have hit delete as unbelievable, unrealistic, and not possible. Real life is stranger than fiction.

Life is good.

July 29, 2015 10am 77 degrees, hazy sky more blue than white, storms expected this afternoon, could use the rain.

Deep into summer here, 90 degrees for the past four days, not real sticky though, which is good.

Watching the television wayyyy too much, as though the brain shuts down after 6:30 pm, when the news comes on. Rachel Maddow cracks me up, followed by The National on Canadian channel, and Jon Stewart, whom I came to late but now I'm really going to miss . The backup is Charlie Rose, who lately has started talking over his guests, probably because he considers himself a journalist now instead of an interviewer.

Okay, enough rant.

Stars in my little part of the world, Orion over head, Big Dipper in the west, Blue Moon coming Friday, the deer keep eating the heads off my phlox, making it harder to get them established and blooming.

Juvenile Oriole has started to turn a darker yellow trending to the bright orange of his father. Haven't seen the fox for a while. Three does, each with twin fawns move through my yard each evening just before dark, pausing at the edge of the lawn to listen for traffic - so far they are safe from the way too much traffic on my road.

Youngest son, out in Silicon Valley, experienced his first earthquake last week. Welcome to LaLa Land.

Have been doing an exercise in being happy. Simple to do, simple to keep doing - picked up from aforementioned CBC newscast. Sales are up 20% and I'm a much happier person. Go figure.

Life is good, sometimes, like now, even great.

July 4, 2015 10am 63 degrees, hazy sky after a beautiful sunrise.

This past week has been a whirlwind of good and great events. Got youngest off to California, Chevy Malibu packed to the gills and brother along for the ride. Pictures of the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, and Yellowstone, safely arriving in Silicon Valley to his ecstatic roommates and a job offer. His first Big Kid job, starts Monday.

Last weekend was family, as my three brothers rolled into town. Much fun, much food, golf, family, and my Mother, at 92, presiding over the whole thing. (Not sure how much she was actually catching as her hearing aid broke and she can't remember much, but she is still with us and still has Mom's smile.)

On Wednesday, I finished up the best month ever for my company. Glory be!

Last night, Wife and I took our middle son out to dinner to celebrate his 29th birthday. Can always tell when his date comes around, recalling my wife, in heavy labor, leaving her hospital room to come out in the waiting room to see if Ivan Lendl was winning his finals match at Wimbledon.

Today will be cookout and fireworks with our friends at the lake. Life is indeed good.

So, at midyear, my wife and I are presiding over a brood of four children, all very gainfully employed, and happy with their choices. Everyone is healthy, and the future looks ever brighter.

And, in my little corner of the world, I sit on my front porch and watch a family of Baltimore Orioles swoop in to the grape jelly I set out. Mom, Dad, and at least two juveniles, who, like typical teenagers will stand next to the jelly and expect Mom to feed it to them. Very fun to watch.

In another first for our thirty years here along the river, a fox. Reddish Orange, with bushy tail and sharp ears, hunting in the hay field across the way, and in our yard, with two pups.

A glorious glorious time of my life right now. Happy, contented, and trying hard to get back to writing - seems like the stars have aligned, doesn't it?

June 26, 2015 9am 60 degrees, hazy clouds.
Various things happening, had severe storms Monday night, could not track them as my cable went out about 7:30, sat in the front yard and watched the continuous light show with accompanying thunder to the north. Warm night, no rain. Middle son called from Eugene, Oregon about 10:30, having been alerted by his girlfriend here in Michigan, and he stayed on the phone, watching the radar and informing me funnel clouds had been spotted and were close by. Oddly, the wind never picked up here, got a lot of rain, but quiet otherwise. Tornado seen about 6 miles to my north. No damage.

Late evenings, decent wine, fireflies, doe and fawn in the alfalfa field across the road, and stars, magnificent stars every night. My flowers are thriving, making all the work this spring worthwhile. And a family of Baltimore Orioles eating huge amounts of my wife's homemade grape jelly, flashes of bright orange against the vibrant green background.

This afternoon to be spent with youngest son who is moving to California tomorrow morning. Having finished college - probably more college than he needed, now moving to Silicon Valley to room once again with guys he lived with in college. They have been there a couple years which will make his transition so much easier.
His Mother is quite emotional over this move, while I am somewhat jealous. Not that I don't love my life, here along the river, but the chance to start over, in a new town, in a new state, it is something I think I would jump at, even now. And he'll do fine. He, of all my childr

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A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

Ric Marion is a writer, far from New York, in the rural thumb of Michigan. Done about everything, welfare caseworker, shop rat, trucking supervisor, editor, columnist, small business owner.
This writer is in search of agency representation.


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