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Thoughts, Reflections, and Occasional Writing Stuff from Along the River.
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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.
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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October 11, 2015

Indian Summer

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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September 3, 2015

Dawn comes Later

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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June 18, 2015

To the Middle of June

June 18, 2015 1pm, 70 degrees, puffy white clouds after a morning shower.

Fireflies, skinny groundhogs, a doe and fawn in the hay field across the way, summer weather, life is good.

Finished Love, Sex and 4-H by Anne Oomen ( Wayne State University Press), heard her interviewed on Michigan Public Radio. We are the same age, so her memoir of growing up in the Fifties and Sixties seemed like something I might enjoy.

What I didn't notice is she teaches in an MFA program, so I wasn't expecting a literary memoir. It was okay though, as she lost the pretentiousness after 40 pages or so.

Many of her memories about things beyond our hometowns match mine. I was in 4-H for ten years and a small town high school like her. And, I could clearly remember girls like her, too. OMG. She was a calculating bitch and, clearly, owns that. My first wife was one of those....

Good book, good read.

Off to make money in the sunshine of summertime.

May 26, 2015 5pm 83 degrees, perhaps some thunder this evening, the wind chimes are clanging.

Managed to get my water wheel balanced correctly, still need to paint it. My friend, Jim, who rebuilt the original did it in natural cedar and I didn't want to paint it white - however, it cannot be seen from the road, being that dark. I think ten years is long enough to leave the cedar - the paint will probably make it last longer.

Went bowling with the granddaughers yesterday, had all the Uncles there, fun stuff - something neat to do on a Memorial Day afternoon. with one Uncle moving to California at the end of June, and another going on the road for three weeks next weekend, my wife wanted all her kids together one last time. Probably won't duplicate this until Christmas.

Life is good.

May 24, 2015 2pm 76 degrees. Had frost on Saturday morning. Going to 80 today. Amazing weather.

Got two flats of flowers planted yesterday, one of annuals, another of perennials. Fertilized heavily, used compost, watered as it dry hereabouts.

Gearing up with our friends for our annual wine trip up to the Traverse City area. BBQ out last night on Lake Lapeer, much wine, food, conversation and requisite card game. We find it amazing to have four other couples with whom we can spend so much time and no one ever gets testy or snappy. To the point of staying in a house for four days every fall - this year will be our tenth.

Granted, we have known these people since Cub Scout days some twenty five years ago, but I am still amazed at how well we get along - much better than some families.

One friend who teaches High School English got a birthday card with Winnie the Pooh on it and remarked that none of her students could even fathom that Christopher Robin is based on a real child. That can't be right, Disney must have made it up.

Wow! It's only Sunday on a three day weekend and I'm already bored. I suppose I should use some of that boredom and put a few thousand words on the WIP. Yeah, that's the ticket.

May 17, 2015 9am 64 degrees. What a difference a couple days make. 32 degree difference when waking up. Instead of hearing the boiler kicking on, through the open window, I can hear the waters of the Flint River bubbling over the rocks. I miss that soothing sound when I have to close the windows for the cool weather.

Spent yesterday working on my big flower bed. It is a mess. Some while back it was invaded by quack grass - nasty weeds with very long sucker roots that spread everywhere. This is my main perennial bed, so removing the weeds is nearly impossible since they reach underneath all the established plants. Have about six hours in so far and I'm about half done. The birds are enjoying all the worms unearthed in the process.

It is now nine o'clock on a Sunday morning, and my neighbor has been busily running her chain saw for the past twenty minutes. Anyone planning on sleeping in this morning is pretty much screwed.

Put out oranges and home made grape jelly and the first Baltimore Oriole showed up within fifteen minutes. Beautiful birds - loud, but wonderful to watch flitting about the yard.

Youngest son wandered through yesterday, gave us his new address in California where he is moving next month. Zip codes with 9 as the starting number - something new, something different.

And so it goes.

May 14, 2015 8am 32 degrees. Frost this morning, 80's by the weekend. Did manage to get the lawns mowed last weekend before everyone arrived for Mother's Day celebrations. And, though chilly, we got the grandchildren outside to feed apples to the horse and see baby bunnies along the path. Much fun.

This week has been short sleeves to flannel. I broke down and turned the furnace back on as we hit 32 degrees this morning. Going back to 80 for the weekend.

Crops are mostly planted, followed by an inch and half of rain, and this week, little green rows are sprouting from the brown dirt. Farming has changed a whole bunch since I last planted corn. Now, they don't work the ground up as much - no till planting, instead using enormous amounts of weed killers and other chemicals to increase yield and reduce manual inputs. The result is one man can farm much more than the 160 acres of the typical farm in my day. Now, farms are 1000 acres. and this land is available because my generation moved away. The small farms of my youth are no more. Those who live in the farmhouses work elsewhere and the farm buildings have pretty much disappeared.

The jury is still out on whether this is a good thing.

Okay, enough ruminating. Work to do, bills to pay.

May 9, 2015 10am 65 degrees - rain, thunderstorms, blue skies. And the lawn is getting long - not sure if we'll get it done before the family shows up tomorrow to celebrate Mom.

Managed to add another 1000 words to the WIP - it is coming however slowly, waiting for the muse to take over and make with words flow faster, to get to that point where the first thing I think of in the morning is getting to the keyboard. Not there yet, but the stars are lining up to make that possible.

Which brings up one of my brother's favorite sayings, "If you want to see God smile, tell him your plans."

Sun is out, drying the half inch rain we got last evening. Outside work, need to get outside and clean this place up.

And so it goes.

May 6, 2015 1pm 63 degrees - weather is all over the place, 80's one day, 50's the next, with bits of gray cloud and rain thrown in.

Been working on a new outline for WIP - coming along very nicely. I'll have to see what Writer's CIrcle has to say at the meeting tomorrow night. Life is good.

April 25, 2015 11am 40 degrees - been a wild weather week, nothing severe, just weird. 70's last weekend, woke Thursday morning to inch of snow on the grassy areas, and yesterday morning set a record with only 21 degrees.

Ran into some young people who had used the past two weekends of spring weather to plant flowers and gardens - they were not happy now that they will have to do it all over again. 21 is very cold for this time of year.

Obituaries are becoming more of a problem. Seems more than 50% are younger than me. Perhaps there is some wisdom in actuarial tables after all.

Stacking firewood on the agenda today. Cool temps shouldn't affect that too much.

Life is good.

April 22, 2015 8am - cloudy, dreary, and, if you believe the radar, snowing nearby.

Let's see, on the very first Earth Day, I was 19 years old, married, living in house with a bunch of other college kids in the middle of a lake. Seriously, we had water ten feet from three sides of the house and we had to move out by the end of the month because, once the ice was gone, they could rent the house for five times what we were paying. And, my wife was extremely pregnant and hoping to get finals done before giving birth.

So, I had a lot on my plate to be worrying about the Earth. That said, I do have a copy of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring around here somewhere.

Growing up on a farm, gives one a different perspective on pollution, stewardship, and sustainability. Manure spread on the fields provided fertilizer - homegrown fertilizer that we didn't need to purchase. And it was plowed under like putting compost in your garden. If any of it did run-off into the ditches, it would have to travel miles before it would even near another house. And some fifty miles before reaching Lake Huron. I suppose it was a trade off, but it also wasn't something we worried about.

Still, you didn't have to drive far - say, the south side of Detroit, where Ford's River Rouge Plant hugged the edge of the Detroit River and spewed forth toxic fumes to blow east over Canada. I suppose the idea of Earth Day and shepherding the masses to care for the planet had some resonance. And, now, forty-five years on, we realize that we are losing the battle to keep our planet safe and the ominous warnings are becoming reality as global warming becomes inevitable.

So we do our little bit to reduce our carbon footprint, keep the cars tuned up, compost the garden, recycle the newspapers.

And, aforementioned pregnancy will celebrate her 45th birthday next week. Be it ever thus.

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

Spring has Come!
originally posted: April 14, 2015

April 14, 2015 8am 38 degrees, bit of frost this morning but a glorious sunrise, a brilliant blue sky and the stars last night, standing on my front porch looking up at the spectacular show in the sky that we so often ignore. Sparkling in the rain drenched air, and Venus in the west shining her glow through the bedroom window. Love springs eternal under the evening star.

Had to remove a groundhog from the end of my driveway where he apparently got hit by a truck. Not sure whether it was Clarence or not - he wasn't wearing his nametag. Hope it wasn't as I can't imagine the pain of losing yet another pet to the vagaries of my heavily traveled road. Might be a Stephen King novel in that concept.

Much to accomplish this sunny spring day. To work!

April 12, 2015 11am 61 degrees. Clear blue Michigan skies.

My whole writing schedule thing has gone nowhere, although I will say the WIP has been percolating, coming to the surface in dreams, filling in the plot holes, so hope springs eternal.

Right now, in the warm south breeze, a rake is calling me, time to get out there in the fresh air, start cleaning up the debris of winter.

Chimed in on LitPark, Susan Henderson always has a lively discussion going on - and she is a delight, having something positive to say about everything.

These days are a whirlwind of baby showers for our friends and family's latest grandchildren, and looking forward to my youngest son's graduation from Oakland University with his Masters degree.

Life is good.

February 23, 2015 2pm 4 degrees. Bitter cold. set yet another record last night and will again today for the daily high temp. No school, my teacher friends are happy, third day in a row cancelled for dangerous wind chills. Yeah, yeah, back in the day when we had to walk five miles to school through hip deep snow, uphill both ways.....

Taking advantage of this time to redo my writing schedules. What I have been doing, which isn't much, is not working. Nothing is getting done, though I am playing an inordinate amount of Mahjong on the computer. Used to be, when this happened, I would grab my notebook and head out to the local coffee shop and get the groove back. Tried that and the restaurant has changed their coffee supplier to a deeper darker blend, which is really horrible coffee and has an adverse effect on my digestive system after the second cup. So that is out.

So, blocking out hours now, solid writing, no games, no checking the stock market, no checking facebook or twitter, just writing. Starting with a couple hours a day and see if it will build on itself. Off we go...........

February 21, 2015 3pm 22 degreees. First time over 20 degrees in days. Set a new record for -29 degrees on Monday. Coldest ever recorded in our little town. Supposed to be 35 or so and the ten day forecast has no numbers even close to that. 16 inches of snow on the ground, the deer are eating my yew bushes again like they did last year when the snow was too deep to dig for grasses.

Party todnight - one of our friends is turning 60, so food, cards, wine and fun. Tomorrow is Oscar night, Oakland University Golden Grizzlies basketball and dropping temps.

Been playing Garth Brooks songs in anticipation of the concert Friday night next. Should be great fun.

Life is good.

February 16, 2015 2pm, 8 degrees. An actual warmup as yesterday's high was 0. Woke this morning to an official temperature of -25. Don't recall ever getting that low hereabouts. Hard to do anything outside when it is so cold.

Fifty Shades of Gray took in $90 million. Yeah, the books took in nearly as much. I made it through the first book, just couldn't bring myself to pick up another. Sorta like those bestsellers that appear out of nowhere, go by word of mouth, and when you get around to reading what all the fuss is about, you go, "Huh?" The Bridges of Madison County comes to mind, Valley of the Dolls, Jonathon Livingstone Seagull.

And I am firmly not being elitist here. I just abhor poor writing.

That said. I will watch the movie when it gets to my little screen this fall. The Bridges is a great movie and Valley of the Dolls is my favorite movie of all time - I rewatch it whenever I need a jolt of guilty pleasure.

The Saturday Night Live special did a great tribute to New York - haven't been there in years, hope to go this summer.

Too cold to go outside, getting cabin fever.

February 9, 2015 Noon, 19 degrees, roughly 15 inches of snow on the ground, winter refusing to release her grip, going to be a long hard slog to spring.

Back when the kids were small, a cartoon show started on television that they wanted to watch, because all their friends were watching. The Simpsons. Their Mother and I watched it a couple times and decided it was not appropriate for young boys to be viewing. The reason? It portrayed the Father in a horrible way. He could do nothing right, he got no respect from his children and was a complete loser. The kids growled and complained, but we held firm.

It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, until all the other sitcoms quickly followed in portraying Dads in a bad light. Married with Children, Malcolm in the Middle, and nearly every other program as well. No more Ozzie & Harriet, Father Knows Best, My Three Sons. Fathers had gone from all knowing to know nothing. It was a hard time, as young boys quickly picked up on the idea that Dad was a loser, couldn't possibly know anything and was clearly not a role model.

(as if we didn't have enough things to worry about raising children, we now had to integrate the idea of being perceived as less than wisdom personified.)

On Super Bowl Sunday, amid the dancing sharks, horrible coaching, and hype, there appeared numerous commercials with a new kind of Dad. WTF? Well, that's a pleasant surprise. From racing car Dad, to Dad coming to the rescue Dad, it seemed the Super Bowl had suddenly become a Father's Day greeting card commercial.

I'm sure there are psychologists parsing what all these means - and if they aren't, they should be. But, as a Father, it certainly means a lot to be back on the top of the hill and not portrayed as a perennial loser.

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How to Lose Your Job as Editor
originally posted: January 31, 2015

January 31, 2015 9am, 18 degrees, sunshine giving way to clouds.

Simply glance at the obit as it goes across your desk. Get skewered by news outlets worldwide.

Ouch.

January 25, 2015 Noon, 21 degrees. Cold front came through last night, freezing the drips and melting from yesterday's 38 degrees. Blue Michigan skies with fluffy white clouds rushing in the wind.

Finished The Bone Clocks this morning about 1:30, long book, great read, got a little hokey towards the end, but that didn't deter the overall message. Now, I have to find a copy of Cloud Atlas to read - I've tried watching the movie, but I can only make it ten or fifteen minutes in before I switch to Rachel Maddow or the History Channel.

Interestingly, it took me one month, exactly to get through all the books I got for Christmas. Not sure that's ever happened before.

Back to work on my WIP - influenced by David Mitchell, it will be a more literary work. Seems like the way to go, though I'm still very hesitant about going first person - much cleaner to stay third. Just not confident about my narrator having 100,000 words in him.

This will be the year of my book. It has been along time since I've been this excited about a project - getting the energy for another shot at the apple is the hard part.

Quiet day. No football. Middle son leaving for sunny Arizona to do his thing at the Super Bowl. This is his fourth year getting to be part of the craziness. I'll be interested in his take on the whole NFL mess.

Eldest son, who makes his winter money moving piles of snow around, is unhappy that we have a paucity of the white stuff this year. He is a small minority...

Life is good.

January 18, 2015 10am 35 degrees, cold front coming through today - been nice while it lasted.

Reading The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. Pretty heavy reading if you're not used to it. I am hooked, though, good stuff.

Loaned out copies of blogger friend's books to a friend. She really enjoyed Susan Henderson's Up From The Blue. Glad I could pass it on - now, eagerly awaiting the next book??? Susan?

Off to do family stuff today. Going to pass on Amanda Palmer's The Art Of Asking to my soon to graduate youngest son - I figure advanced degrees in Communication would be able to utilize her new way of looking at the world and the way we do things. It will be interesting to see if he feels the same way.

Ran into an old friend, colleague from Writer's Circle, who stopped coming because of some sort of religious revelation that he shouldn't be writing horror even though he is exceptionally gifted at it. Apparently he had a life changing accident at work which has left him unable to work, but otherwise not too physically handicapped. I told him God really wants him to write that book. We'll update the next time I run across him.

Life is Good. Sometimes, even Great.

January 11, 2015 Noon 25 degrees - warmest we have been in an entire week - nasty cold snap - one warm day, then four more cold ones coming - then an early January thaw. My propane tank is all excited and dropping levels - doubtless, a fill will be in order soon.

Amanda Palmer's The Art Of Asking - excellent book and an entirely different way of interacting with the world, very interesting and I'm sure I learned a lot of tidbits that will enhance my work life in ways I wouldn't have thought possible. Does drag a bit towards the end, but that may just be my jaded outlook on the past few years.

She hit a home run first time out of the gate. Congrats to her and her team.

Watched Philomena with Judi Dench, finally. Ver good movie though I wish they hadn't edited it so tightly, it would be interesting to see what they took out as some storylines were left a bit bereft.

My middle son, back in '90's, was into country music - specifically Kenny Chesney. I took him to his first concert at Pine Knob to see Kenny - a grand father/son bonding experience. It was a great concert barring the drunk girl who kept trying to pick me up, embarrassing my son.

The one country act that we didn't get a chance to see was Garth Brooks, as he stopped touring. So, for Christmas, my son got us tickets to the new tour in Detroit next month. Very cool. Looking forward to having another grand experience.

Seem to be having a bevy of funerals hereabouts lately. Which wouldn't bother me as much if these were old people. But they aren't. They are younger than me - not sure what that means in the grand scheme of things, but it is a bit disquieting.

And so it goes - winter grips hard, but the sun grows stronger and spring cannot be far away.

Je Sui Charlie
January 8, 2015 Sad.

January 5, 2015 4pm 8 degrees Blue Michigan Skies with puffy white clouds.

Exceptionally cold outside, though the wind has died down from earlier. Still licking our wounds as long suffering Detroit Lion fans, that was just wrong. Another little something to give the NFL a bad name and the cynical among us to believe in conspiracy theories and the power of the almighty dollar.

Christmas brought me a whole pile of books to read and enjoy. Fun stuff. Have finished Neil Gaiman's Hansel & Gretel, Gaiman's The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains - both excellent, by the way.
Also through Stephen King's Revival - a sturdy pillar in the King Canon. The ending was a bit silly, but, hey, you can't have everything and I've always been a Lovecraft fan.

Nearly through Amanda Palmer's Art of Asking. I generally don't read much non-fiction, but her backstory was enough to get me interested and, I have to say, the book is really good. She has kept me up the last two nights and I will be sad when I finish the book. I want to stay a few more days with her and the strange world she inhabits.

And that has me fired up to start writing again. Getting the process going, getting into the schedule, the habit again, so that I feel guilty if I don't write every morning, so I feel the tug of the blank white page, the thrill of seeing the characters come alive and speak on their own. I miss it and I've missed a good many days and weeks of not having that fulfilling feeling. It is time. Time to begin again.

and so it goes.

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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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