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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.
January 13, 2017

Yet Another Full Moon

January 13, 2017 9am 19 degrees, not a bad winter all in all. Had four inches of snow Tuesday morning, yesterday was ice - mostly in the form of pellets, roads were slippery, school cancelled, but quiet otherwise.

Last night, a full moon, skies cleared about 10 pm, stood naked in the moonlight secure and warm in my living room, though I did go outside for a moment - 25 degrees is pretty chilly... Now soaked in the magic lunar waves, looking forward to what this month has in store for me.
My business is doing very well despite the fact that it is January which is always a down month. It appears we are on track to set another record month - the latest in a string.
Middle son called last evening, he and his bride-to-be got the keys to their first house and were on their way there to walk around in it, reflect on the forward motion of their lives, and crack open a bottle of champagne. Maybe it's just me, but it is a satisfying reflection on all those years of child rearing to hear your son so giddy about the direction of his own life, so excited to reach another milestone, looking towards the future.

Life is good, sometimes great - like it is now.

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January 9, 2017

Ah, January in Michigan

January 9, 2017 11am, 21 degrees, snowing lightly, warm up coming tonight, 6 inches of snow turning to slush turning to rain and then disappearing.

Finished Hearts in Suspension by Stephen King & others over the weekend. I haven't enjoyed a book so much in years. Maybe it was because I am only three years younger than most of the writers and they discussed those long ago days of appearing on a college campus, bright eyed and away from home for the first time. Much like my experience and it was great to relive those heady days. But, as King wrote, "Most of us don't say much about those years now, not because we don't remember them but because the language we spoke back then has been lost" (Hearts in Atlantis)

Probably not a good idea to go on a trip down memory lane, those days filled with idealism, awe, wonder, and certainty that those who were governing us did not have our best interests at heart. Probably not good at all.

January 5, 2017 2pm 13 degrees, blue sky, fluffy clouds, windy, bitter.

Took youngest to airport yesterday afternoon, 80 miles one way while watching the radar to make sure I didn't get caught in a snow band blowing all the way across Michigan from Lake Michigan. Didn't do to badly, ran into some, where the road could have turned to ice in an instant, but made it home okay.

Writers Circle tonight, I dread going out into the cold, but, long johns, thick scarf, heavy coat, I should be fine.

Hearts in Suspension, latest non-fiction work by Stephen King, though it is a stretch to say that since he only wrote half the book. King when he is writing non-fiction is at his best. Big reveal is how he managed to avoid the draft back in the Viet-Nam days. Wish I had thought of that.

Oldest son wandered off to New York City to watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve. Had a wonderful time, saw a lot of the city - his first visit. All the usual stuff, Staten Island Ferry, Rockefeller Center, Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, Times Square. Gee, I really need to get back there. Last time I was there was 1978. Wow! That's hard to believe. Was there four times when I was 18. Of course, it was a lot easier then - fly standby out of Detroit Metro, $29 to LaGuardia.

Okay, back to getting ready for the Writers Circle tonight. Working on the WIP - life is good.

January 3, 2017 9am 38 degrees, gray morning, rain last night, quite warm for early January, not that I'm complaining. Been running the fireplace the past few days, saving on my fuel bill.

Christmas is done a put away for another year. House seems strangely empty. Youngest was here for a couple days, gone again, we take him to airport tomorrow and then I'll see him mid-March to bring him home. Apparently, he is keeping his job in Menlo Park - does most of it remotely anyway. So, hey, if you can keep your job, lower your living expenses by 60%, it is close to a no brainer.

Full moon is due on January 12. Long range weather not looking the best, but I have a three day window to get my moonglow.

Two minutes after I looked up the date of the full moon, my phone rang. This before 8 am. Gentleman on the phone apologized for calling so early, but he wanted a spot on one of my placemats. One of my salesmen dealt with him fifteen years ago. Amazing how this stuff works.

Changing things around a bit, trying to get my productivity up, trying to get something, anything moving towards (see, used it again) accomplishment this year. And, no, not the usual resolutions, I stopped doing those years ago. January is a terrible time to try to change your life. The weather is usually horrible, the cold seeps into your bones, the skies are gray, nothing that points to new beginnings. So, I will try little things, like an hour or two in the morning, devoted solely to writing, which means you're going to get my ramblings more often.... pause for applause.

Of course, events conspire against me, as I told my early morning caller I would be there this morning...

December 29, 2016 11am 35 degrees, gray day.

Writing the title to this blog reminded me of the dangers using regional English when composing. My last book - edited by a great friend, Mike Arnholt, who was a newspaper editor - using the AP style. The word Toward in this area is pronounced towards. Which, much to my dismay, isn't a word at all. Imagine my horror when using word perfect search and destroy that it appeared 78 times in the manuscript - spelled incorrectly every time. The horror at being an English Major - with Honors, no less - and yet using a simple action word incorrectly.
Actually, the search and destroy function is pretty handy for fixing things - not like in the old days when I would have had to retype the entire manuscript and still not be sure I found all 78 instances.

Off to my hometown today. Just got a call that Mom's trailer suffered a power outage and the furnace overheated and went to fail safe. Temp in Mom's house is 36. We try to keep it at 50 or so. That's okay, I know where the override button is. Plus I have a lot of other things to do over there. Gee, I love my life.

Getting geared up for the New Year celebration. Five of us will be putting on a seven course meal for 20 people, followed by much more wine and euchre. As we get older, we discovered the party will end when the ball drops. Everybody clears out quickly.

Life is good.

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December 28, 2016

The Break Between Holidays

December 28, 2016 1pm 32 degrees, blue sky with wisps of cloud. Snow is pretty much gone thanks to a day of 55 degree temps, breaking all records for the day after Christmas.

Made it through Christmas with a minimum of tears. I tend to get emotional.... I got a one way ticket to San Francisco in March to help our youngest son drive home. He has been out there two years, a bit homesick, and a bit lonely. It will be good to have him back in Michigan.

Books given - Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler for my daughter who was a waitress and has a degree in hospitality.
Waterfalls of Michigan for my oldest son who took advantage of working in the U.P. this summer to explore many of them.
Middle son got Short Stories by Ursula LeQuin, big book, might be hard to take on the plane.
Daughter in Law to be - Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed - fascinating book.
Youngest son - due to him living with Google people - received Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari with a note to pass it on to his roommates when done.
I got my wife 100 Harlequin romances from our local used book store.

I received the latest two Stephen King books AND the non-fiction Hearts in Suspension. Steve's contribution was so much fun to read - we are close to the same age and had much the same college experience.

Life is good.

December 22, 2016 11am, 35 degrees, cloudy skies and dripping eaves.

Monday, celebrated Christmas with Mom at the Home. She seemed in good spirits, lots of people, Mom just being Mom. When the owner came through in a Santa suit, telling us she was Mrs. Claus, Santa couldn't make it, Mom asked, "Did he have one too many?" Somewhere in her mind, beyond where the memories once were, she still has her sense of humor.

Tuesday, a quick run to Barnes & Noble, able to finish up my Christmas shopping. My kids all know to expect a book for Christmas. It is my thing.

Yesterday, youngest arrived from San Francisco. Clan coming together for the holidays.

Magic. Yesterday morning, a name kept appearing in my head. Rosemary - a dear friend over the years. She lost her husband over the summer. By the fifth time, I picked up the phone and called her. At the end of a 90 minute phone call, she said, "Thanks for calling. You made my day. Actually, you probably made my week."

This stuff just amazes me. Intuitive, psychic, whatever you want to call it. If you pay attention to the little prompts in your mind, amazing wonderful things happen. What a marvelous gift during the holiday season.

Life is good, sometimes even great, like now.

December 18, 2016 10am, 17 degrees, bright sunshine and clear blue Michigan skies. A fresh three inches of snow yesterday. There are seemingly a hundred finches at my birdfeeders.

Tuesday night, Full Moon, Stood naked in the moonlight - in my living room, seven months in a row. Though I did brave the cold air for a bit, stepping out onto my front porch. And the magic keeps happening.

My eldest son lives with us and, having been laid off for the winter from his usual job, went to work for a local mechanic. Wednesday, my truck wouldn't start, so he brought home a battery rig that got it started, Thursday, it wouldn't start again, same procedure, by Friday, and still near zero degrees, I was convinced the battery had gone bad, his mechanic boss thought it might be the starter, whatever, I needed it fixed, so battery rig again, son took to garage to fix. All this sounded expensive. Son called to inform me he had fixed the problem by cleaning the battery terminals, everything else was fine. The point to this story is: had my son not gone to work for the mechanic, I would have spent a couple hundred bucks getting my truck towed to town where a different mechanic would charge me another hundred to clean the battery cables. My son and his boss asked for chocolate chip cookies, which my wife made this morning.

So, where is the everything happens for a reason? Well, son's boss advertises with me, when I was last there he said his regular worker had gotten a job at Chrysler and if I knew of anyone, send him along. I told my son who jumped at the chance to play grease monkey with someone else's tools and expertise. Just so happens this came in exceedingly handy.

Does everything happen for a reason? Is it true there are no coincidences? You have to decide which one you believe. M. Night Shyamalan from his movie, Signs. and just about every New-Age person you run into.

Warmed up enough yesterday to walk outside, the snow didn't crunch when stepped on - a sound that translates into cold in your bones. I paused in the yard to listen to the silence. Complete silence, no snowblowers, no traffic, no far away train whistle, just quiet, the wonderful silent snow.

Magic - adding a layer of mystery to my holidays. Great letters and notes, living room filling up with presents and blinking lights, Kenny Loggins and Josh Groban playing in the background. I am blessed. Be it ever thus.

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December 12, 2016

First Big Snow of the Season

December 12, 2016 10am 33 degrees, got 7 inches of snow yesterday, snowed all day long and into the night. I've had two people come and plow my driveway, still waiting on the regular guy. I could get out if I needed to, but no rush. Have to deliver some mats today, but no biggie if I don't.

Been a pretty quiet week, interesting conversation going on at LitPark, Susan Henderson's Blog.

Tomorrow night is the full moon for December - also known as the "Cold Moon" - this should be interesting. I've got 7 inches of snow in the backyard - still, even in the midst of winter, the forecast is for a clear sky when the moon rises. I may cheat a bit and stand in my nice warm living room in front of my big window and soak in the moonlight. Or, I may brave the chill and head to the back yard.

Had an hour and a half phone conversation with my best friend from my twenties, ah, when we were young and carefree. This was about the time my first marriage was falling apart and large amounts of alcohol were involved. I remember going to see The Who at the Silverdome in Pontiac in early December. It was the first concert there and the builders neglected to put in any heaters - it was very cold. Now, like that marriage, the Silverdome is an abandoned wreck that hung around too long.

Life is good, sometimes, like now, great.

December 5, 2016 10am 37 degrees, inch of snow last night, first of the season to stick, cold front coming later this week, just had a peek of sun.

Writer's Circle went amazingly well, actually feeling the urge to write, hasn't happened for awhile now.

Off to big city to babysit Granddaughter Friday evening. Saturday, started on picking out new kitchen floor, got Christmas tree, Sunday, put up Christmas tree, house all decorated.

Forty years ago, living in subsidized housing while attending Oakland University, one of our neighbors, Holly, whose last name I probably never knew, hand made ornaments for everyone. Each year since, it is the last ornament on the tree, always at the top, and I say, "Merry Christmas, Miss Holly, wherever you are." And I always get teary eyed and I always wonder where she is and how her life is going, sure in my heart that it has been a good one.
Another early December tradition is listening to Kenny Loggins, Celebrate Me Home, over and over, and crying each time.

All that and a record couple of days to start the month, all is good in my world.

Have to get my Christmas list done for the kids - what books I want to read this winter. Any suggestions?

Don't think I've ever entered December in such good shape, financially or otherwise. Looks like my angels are pushing me towards a wonderful holiday. For which I am thankful. and in awe.

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

And It Goes On
originally posted: September 8, 2016

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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Spring Arrives
originally posted: May 3, 2016

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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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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