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The Flint River
Thoughts, Reflections, and Occasional Writing Stuff from Along the River.
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Along The River
by:  Ric Marion
Life is not about the number of breaths we take, but about the number of times that it takes your breath away.
September 6, 2020

Into Autumn

September 6, 2020 10am 55 degrees, trying to cloud over here. Been a hot summer, feel as though I'm retired, nothing much to do, nothing much to get excited about.

Because I still have a real job, I can't do anything political - one never knows who reads this. Many of my customers assume I am a Republican or a Democrat and it would cost me business - either way - if they knew for sure. A long ago editor of my columns, when I was annoyed people assumed my political leanings, said, wisely, "Let them think what they want - don't tell them." Smart lady, yes, she is.

About ready to be done with this whole Covid thing. No, I don't mind wearing a mask, but I miss hugs.

And, bad as it sounds, it looks like it is going to get much worse before it gets better. We supposedly have the smartest people on earth in charge of this - why does it keep going? Someone should be able to stop it. Or, perhaps, I'm putting too much faith in the leadership who, if they can't monetize it, aren't interested in it anymore. Sorry, but that's really sad.

Three full moons since I wrote last. My life goes on pretty much the same. Flowers still blooming, birds still coming to the feeders (thought the Orioles seem to have headed south). Cooler now so work outside can actually happen. Last night, the moon was playing tag with Mars - pretty cool.

Getting a little punchy here in the early hours - think I'll fire up the chainsaw and see what I can cut down....

June 5, 2020 10am 76 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky. Been a long couple weeks. Wife goes back to work on Tuesday, I'm going back to work today. Go figure. It was just getting relaxing to stay at home and not do anything.

Quite interesting to see all my kids caught up in the protests. Not actually going out to the streets, but supporting them nonetheless.

Everything going back to near normal. Still no word on when I can get my hair cut or a massage, but I am hopeful it won't be much longer. Went to friend's house Sunday evening, celebrated my brother's 75th birthday with a dinner and 10 people close quarters, heading out to the lake Saturday with our card group, none of whom we have seen since March 14th.

Feels like normal - if anyone can remember what that felt like.

Today would have been my Mother's 97th birthday. Is there a card for that?

Full moon tonight. We need all the good karma we can get.

May 19, 2020 10am 55 degrees, raining - it's been raining for three days. Chilly too, but not cold. Furnace is running. 80's by the weekend.

No Warthogs. No planes over my house at all. Little disappointing.

Went last Thursday to get flowers and grass seed. Got the flowers planted on Saturday. All done. Now, just wait for them to grow. There was very little traffic until I got near the greenhouse for the flowers. That's where everyone was.

Good weather the rest of the week. One kid coming out tomorrow, the rest on Saturday. Will be nice to see them all again. It is getting kinda lonely out here in the country with no one to interact with. Wife is fine, I suppose, but still. Nice to hear other voices, other viewpoints, other anything. Going to be a long retirement.

Michigan is slowly opening up. Probably be another month before I can look forward to a massage, haircut or think about getting my business going again. It is what it is.

Onward and Upward.

May 12, 2020 9am 43 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies. Supposed to be a fly over of Blue Angels and A-10 Warthogs. That will be different. Warthogs are scheduled to fly over about 12:30 on their way north and at 3:50 on their way back.

Robins have left the nest. Orioles are eating lots of grape jelly.

Full Moon last Wednesday. Got lots of lunar energy, as I adapt to the new normal. Have no idea if or when the restaurants might reopen and I can actually go back to work. That said, my pandemic unemployment checks are arriving regularly. Haven't drawn unemployment in years. I went my last two years of college while collecting a check every week.

Glorious sunrise this morning. Going to start a fire in the fireplace, still some wood to use up. Going to 70's starting Thursday, 80's next week. March to June in only a couple days. Gotta love it.

Binge watched Good Omens last weekend. Good stuff.
Finished jigsaw puzzle - took 8 weeks. Not going to do that again.

Flowers? Maybe plant flowers this weekend? Still a lot of work to do in the beds before they are ready. But, then again, what else do I have going on?

Really feel for my local newspaper. Advertising has completely dried up, they've laid most everyone off, just trying to survive. Will be interesting to see what happens when the advertisers come back - if they will go back to the schedule they had before or keep with the smaller format, smaller distribution.

Onward and Upward.

May 5, 2020 9am 37 degrees, hard to tell if it is cloudy or just high filtering clouds skimming through.

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Kent State Massacre. I remember it as the day those of us in the anti-war movement realized the government might shoot us if we kept protesting. It was also the day the rest of America who we had been trying to wake up realized the same thing. That whatever your feeling about the war, pro or con, shooting protesters was a step too far. It was the one event that finally pushed Nixon into a solution. (not that I was involved in any of this - I had a 5 day old baby girl and was an nineteen year old kid with no clue.) But, I do recall the time, the angst, the outrage.

Yesterday was my oldest son's 38th Birthday. He spent it somewhere in Michigan's Thumb, directing traffic around a crew filling cracks in the pavement. Nice thing about Michigan's horrible winters - the roads don't hold up very well. Talk about job security. He even has letters of transit in case he is stopped for not sheltering in place (we are still under a lock down order here). Apparently, filling cracks in the road with new asphalt is essential. So 38 years ago, I was living in Houston, Texas, trying to survive the 1980 Recession. Now, I'm trying to survive whatever is going on now. Is it not supposed to get easier? After the passage of time? Or, is this just the ebbing and flowing of the economy?

Two pair of Orioles are enjoying the grape jelly. Baby robins are growing very fast, barely fitting in the nest. They will be gone soon. Mom and Dad did a good job.

Temps have gone from 78 on Saturday and Sunday to 45 for a high today. A shock to the system.

Tomorrow night will be a full moon. Hoping the skies will clear out and I can soak in the magic of the lunar rays. Forecast looks good, though 35 is bit chilly to be out in the yard. We will make it happen. The energy I get is real - the magic is real.

Too much television. I'm through 7 episodes of Riviera - Julia Stiles can sleep in my bed anytime. Killing Eve had a very odd episode this week. Pretty sure trying for season three was not in the best interest of anyone. Still, the acting is worth watching.

Have adding reading to my list of things to fill the hours. This is a good thing. As opposed to sitting here at the computer playing endless games of mahjong. So it goes.

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April 30, 2020

End of the Strangest Month in Memory

April 30, 2020 2pm 53 degrees, light rain, nothing like we were supposed to get today. And it is warmish out there.

Interesting happenings. Monetarily, Congress printed enough money for some to filter down to me. Should have no ill effects from being off work for a couple months. Didn't think that would happen, so I'm pretty stoked. Which causes a bigger problem - I have two or three months here with absolutely nothing to do - with no stress about how the bills are going to get paid. Ah, what to do with the time?

I mentioned to my oldest son - probably a novel would be a good idea. "YA THINK?" And it wasn't sarcastic at all...

Still working at getting my head around that idea. I'll get there - just not there yet.

Mama and Daddy Robin have four growing youngsters. From inside, we can see the heads bobbing up and down calling for food when Mom comes by with worms. They grow really fast, so they won't be there long.
Also, this morning, a male Baltimore Oriole showed up at the spot where I place the feeder. Hurried up and set out an orange and grape jelly. He didn't come back, so I assume he was just the scout. The quince bushes usually bloom before they show up and we're still a week or two away from that.

Super warm weekend coming up - 70's and warm breezes. Will be the warmest day since last fall. And I'm more than ready. Life is good.

Had some weird dreams last night - I was in Paris with my youngest son. Didn't matter how many times I woke up - which I never do at night - every time I went back to sleep, I picked up the dream where I left off. Don't think that's ever happened before.

And now we head into a May different from any we have ever experienced. At this point, I'm afraid to predict anything. I'm sure lots of folks feel the same way.

April 24, 2020 11am 41 degrees, supposed to warm up today - not to normal 60's, but 55 or so, which will be so much better than the 30's of the past few days.

It is getting harder to remember what the world was like a couple months ago. I'm sure everyone is having the same problem. Driving to town, stopping for coffee, chatting with people you know, sitting in the front window of the bookstore with the owner, stopping to see Vicki at the Salon, chatting with her while she does someone's nails, getting my bi-weekly massage from Regina (God, I miss that!!)

Making money would be good. One full month, no sales, nothing to do. It appears my restaurants are not going to open anytime soon, leaving me to worry about paying the bills, and who will be left when this is all over?

Other random thoughts. Reading the local newspaper completely devoid of advertising. Going to the mailbox and finding nothing - no ads for local businesses, no junk mail. Local television advertising is almost completely ambulance chasers, waiting for them to start offering legal representation to businesses damaged by the shutdown. After all, with no traffic, how many accidents are you going to have?

Going to the local corner store for cigarettes and waiting in your car for the other customer to come out before putting on a face mask and going inside.

My hair is getting really shaggy. Feel as though I'm reverting to my teenage years. Mother Robin has been sitting on her eggs for quite a while now. I suspect they should be hatching soon.

Our Governor has just relaxed rules enough to get the lawn companies back to work, the fishermen and boaters happy, and letting the nurseries open so we can plant flowers (even though it is still way to early in the season - we can have frost for another six weeks...) At least, a little semblance of normalcy. At this point, we'll take whatever we can get.

Okay, rambling now. Been watching Acorn TV - British sit-com called Boomers. I think it's funny, my wife has trouble with the accents. Also, had youngest son get me Riviera with Julia Stiles - absolutely love her. I have that to binge watch.

Off to start a fire in the fireplace. Life is good.

April 22, 2020 11am 36 degrees (normal high this time of year is 60+) Wonderful sunrise this morning.

Deep into the quarantine now. It is getting old. But, yet, we persist. 22 dead in our county. Don't have everyone's name - but I did know at least one victim.

Started a 1000 piece puzzle a month ago. only about 300 pieces left to go. The wife is far less enthusiastic than she was when we started.

Too cold to work outside. Bitter cold. Actually had to order more propane this morning or the house will get really cold.

Did facetime with the kids a couple weeks ago, Daughter wore her Christmas gift - a t-shirt emblazoned with "I was conceived at Woodstock" Which means she has a birthday coming up...

Our wine/card group of five couples get together on facetime every Saturday night, just like normal, except I don't have to take a bottle of wine.. but then again, I don't get hugs and the delicious food we snack on while playing cards.

Waiting on the state unemployment people to start sending me money. I have little faith this will actually happen, but am trying to remain optimistic.

Spending way too much time on facebook. Not getting hardly any reading done, and not getting any writing done at all.

Bored. Bored. Staying safe, staying bored.

When you get to the point of naming squirrels and groundhogs and watching the mama robin sitting on her nest on the window sill, you really need to get off your duff and do something constructive. That is the goal, though all that will likely happen today is a shower and shaving off this five day beard.

How many more weeks?

April 11, 2020 8 am 28 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies, beautiful sunrise this morning, woke in the middle of the night to moonlight on the bedspread.

Random thoughts - how are burglars surviving this? With everyone staying at home, what is left to Burgle?

A friend pointed out interview with Stephen King on NPR this week. I listened on podcast. I usually would have NPR on the car radio, but I haven't driven 10 miles in the past week. Good interview with someone who dreamt up this scenario years ago.

Have gotten a lot of yardwork done in this downtime - at least while the weather cooperated. Have had snow the last two days, so being outside isn't something I'm interested in.

Holding our own here. Cabin fever is setting in, want to get out there and do something. Sporting a five day beard, probably should change my clothes more often, but, then again, what is the point? Not like I'm going to see anyone....

Been watching a lot of old movies. Saw Good Will Hunting for the first time. Good story. And touches of excellence from Ben Affleck which should have set him up for a great career. Funny how that turned out...

Caught Barbarella last night. What a hoot. Milo O'Shea - great actor from my teenage years. This role as the bad guy and his overacted turn as Friar Laurence in Romeo & Juliet. Gotta love someone who can play over the top. Great memories.

Nearly halfway through April - total money taken in - 0, total sales this month - 0, So far so good. only 20 mores days until the next extension of quarantine.

Life is good.

March 27, 2020 noon, 38 degrees. blue skies and fluffy clouds - a lot of fluffy clouds.

What a difference a couple weeks can make in one's life. Where I should be heralding the arrival of spring - as evidenced by the large flock of fat robins bouncing around my yard, I am instead curled up in my office wondering how I'm going to pay my bills. Since my real job - The Placemat Guy - is dependent on restaurants - all of which have been closed for the past ten days, my income stream is severely compromised. The phone has completely stopped ringing - which is understandable since everyone else is closed as well. Plus, small business owners have closed their checkbooks, not knowing what the future will bring, how long this is going to last and how long it will take to recover once it's over.

As I said in my last post, this may get a lot worse before it gets better. I really did not expect this. But, then again, NO ONE expected this.

So, back to spring. Orion high in the sky, planets putting on a show for all of us, free of charge and cable bills. Green things peeking out of the leaves I didn't bother to clean up. Summer birds - Robins, Redwing blackbirds, starlings, attacking my suet feeders. And we roll on.

The days are long. Can't go anywhere - nothing open to go to anyway. Even running to the grocery store presents all sorts of obstacles and dangers. The news channels are doom and gloom. The President is an idiot, still saying whatever pops into his head, regardless of whether it has any basis in fact or relevance.

Still trying to get myself together enough to actually write while I have this downtime. Now, that is something I could be doing, diving deep into a new project, keep my mind active, keep my skills honed. Harder said than done. But I'm still trying.

Stay safe out there, everyone. Can't see the end of the tunnel yet, but it is there and we will get back to summer's sun soon enough.

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March 8, 2020

Spring makes an appearance

March 8, 2020 10am - or it could be 9am - 45 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies. Shooting for 60 today, full moon tonight, all things wonderful and glorious.

Michigan Primary is Tuesday. My guy backed out, my second choice backed out, my third choice backed out. Now, all I have left are 70 something white guys - that didn't work out so well last time.

The way I get treated for being old - the disrespect, the "old guy", don't need to take him seriously, the dismissal simply because of my age, how is the whole country going to accept these guys as our leaders?

Full Moon tonight, soaking up the lunar rays for a burst of energy, a better way of looking at the world, a bit of magic, all excited. (as I usually get this time of the month).

Had a great trip down south, hot enough to get a sunburn, leach a bit of winter from my old bones, got to see lots of people, enjoy conversations and seeing how some folks are easing into retirement and what works for them. Not sure I'm ready yet, but there are a few areas we may look at.

Not sure what the summer will bring, I have a feeling - a bad feeling - the virus is going to get a lot worse. That will affect my business in ways I can't imagine. On the other hand, going overseas on vacation is probably off the table this year.

Now, the trick is to get more writing done, get the business back on track, maybe some work done on the house and pray for the best.

February 5, 2020 9am, 21 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies, sunshine and a cold northeast wind. Weather forecast all over the place. One says 7 inches of snow tonight, next one says 1 inch, how does one plan for that?

Spent way too much time watching the election returns Monday night - at least my guy is winning as Iowa figures out how to count votes. Did not watch much of the speech last night. Did see Rush Limbaugh gets his medal. I stopped watching Rush twenty years ago when he went on 60 Minutes and said, he wasn't a pundit or politician, he was an entertainer - didn't have to believe any of the stuff he was saying, just on the air to entertain folks. I suppose I should look at Hannity and Maddow that way as well - would keep my blood pressure much lower.

Trying to get in as many Oscar movies as I can before Sunday night. Watched the Joker - tried to watch Judy - my version of the Two Popes did not have subtitles - all this is harder than it should be.

And so, we go on. Need to get a lot of stuff done before leaving for the Southland. only have 6 work days to pull this off. Ah, yes. and away we go.

January 31, 2020 noon 32 degrees. Winter just doesn't want to stick around. Has been a mild one so far. Last year on this date, we were -13, haven't been below zero at all this year - so far.

Finished Where the Crawdads Sing - good book, I'll recommend it. There were a few tells that it was a first novel, but, overall, it was still good. One has to remember that Stephen King's Carrie was a first novel and it had way more tells than this one.

Ending the month, a good one for my business which is a good thing after the past few months. Gearing up to head to warmer climes for a couple weeks at the end of February. If winter makes an appearance, hopefully, I won't be here to experience it.

Middle son is working the Super Bowl, so we are getting dispatches from Miami. All in all, everything is going along just fine. Life is good.

January 20, 2020 11am 18 degrees. Woke this morning to 1 degree temps, five inches of snow on the ground and clear blue Michigan skies. Winter finally arrived this weekend. 5 inches of snow, then rain, then warming to 40, then cold, ice, more snow, back to five inches or so and, now, the cold. Coldest of the season. Just went out to start the truck, check the propane tanks and the shed to see how it is surviving the winter. Didn't take long for the cold to seep into my fingers through my leather gloves.

So far, staying healthy, both the wife and I. This is a very good thing. Kids are all doing well, middle son getting geared up for the Super Bowl - yeah, he gets to go to Miami for a week, leaving the rest of us here to suffer in the cold and snow. Something wrong about that picture. That said, wife and I are planning a trip south the latter half of February. Have a condo to stay at - well, sleeper couch and only one bath - but the price is right - in Fort Lauderdale. And friends who are happy to host. If it were to stay cold here for the next few weeks, I'd be happier about going south. Right now, it is supposed to warm up again at the end of this week.

Reading "Where the Crawdads Sing" - a first novel by someone my age that has sold 4 and a half million copies over the last three years. Had to see what all the excitement was about, even after the fiction librarian at my local library told me folks had a problem with the suspension of belief enough to actually think a young girl could live in the swamps with little interaction and survive. So far, I'm not having that much trouble with it - we'll see.

Also reading, Hemingway and his Boat - interesting biography - I kinda like the writer - he is all over the place with side facts, long stories that have little to do with Hemingway and, yet, it seems to work. Different stuff.

Okay, nearly out of cigarettes, time to go out into the cold and icy world and get some work done.

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December 31, 2019

New Year's Eve

December 31, 2019 10am, 29 degrees, two inches of fresh snow. First measurable snow we've had since November 11. Going to 45 on Thursday, it will all be gone again. So far, a decent winter. Somewhat warmer than usual, doesn't seem as bad when the ground is brown instead of white.

Getting geared up for our annual feast tonight. I have to go prep cook at 1, then take off at 3:30, pick the wife up from work, go back for the feast at 5, then get wife back home for sleep as she is working tomorrow. She was up at 2:30 this morning, she will be one tired puppy. The feast is put together by the men of the wine group. Five guys preparing a seven course meal for 24 people. Very formal, very fun. Coq au Vin is the main entree tonight. Along with a bunch of cool appetizers and weird things. Salmon, bacon, small dogs. Should be fun.

Have arrived at the end of a very fruitful and exciting year. Took a big hit when my biggest customer burned in January and didn't reopen until September. I should be able to recover though.

Mom passed in March, Father's Day was spent at Pebble Beach with my middle son, October in Paris with my youngest, oldest son took care of some infrastructure here at the house (and, on mornings like this, drives his mother into work so she doesn't have to listen to me complain they are not paying her enough to drive through the snow and ice)

All in all, a good year. Didn't get much writing done, didn't get much of anything accomplished on that front at all. But, it is still there. Got Stephen King's latest for Christmas - thank you, daughter. Finished it this morning at 1 am. Even though he is my age, it doesn't seem like he is phoning it in. Some of the climatic finish was confusing - could have been clearer, I found myself trying to keep characters straight in my head. Some of that might have been me, but usually King uses a defter hand.

Going in to 2020 with optimism, excitement, anticipation. The moon still turns full once a month, the sun still shines every morning. Taking time to enjoy, to savor, to watch with awe the world around us.

Over the holidays, especially this year for some reason, friends, relatives, acquaintances are dealing with crises, unexpected woes, and, yet, I and my close family are not. Should I be thankful? I am. Should I continue to think this will go on forever? I will. Being pessimistic at this point doesn't seem practical. The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar.

I am blessed. And, I know I am. May the world bestow upon all my readers, those same blessings. Happy New Year.

December 22, 2019 8am 35 degrees. 6 weeks since last post, and it's actually warmer now than it was then. Clear skies, sunlight gold on barren tree trunks.

Glorious sunrise this morning. pinks and orange. crescent moon shining in my bedroom window.

Gearing up for Christmas. just a couple days away. presents wrapped, tree up, glittering with tinsel, busy times, Soon, the whole family will roll in, with pizza and cookies, and, as tradition demands, we will eat, laugh, open presents, pile the wrapping paper in the middle of the living room floor, jump into the middle like a pile of leaves, then toss it into the open fireplace - and Christmas will be over.

Sounds rather depressing when you put it like that...

Trust me, it isn't. Old traditions kept, new ones tried out for size and fit, new family (?) members, changes to our dynamic. Holding it all together by holding tight to each other.

It is life. It is Christmas.

Mornings like this, waking to the sun now starting towards the summer, peace along the river, Hard to imagine how it all came to this. I live in a state of wonder, be it ever thus.

November 7, 2019 3pm 31 degrees, damned cold, snow on the ground, cars off the roads everywhere this morning.20 to 25 degrees below normal temperatures for this time of year. Great, just what we need.

So, Paris. Last month, I went to Paris with my youngest son for a week. I've been struggling to come up with a synopsis of our trip that doesn't sound like a travelogue. It is much harder than it seems.

First off, son was in charge of travel arrangements. Got the airline tickets and then sent me a listing for an airbnb. Which I checked out and said, "NO". Reason - an hour from everything we wanted to see and it was a 7th floor walkup. (My son did not know what that meant.) Second place he picked - 1/2 hour from everything and a fourth floor walkup. (I had to be forceful at the idea of not walking all day and then coming back to the room and having to walk up four flights of stairs.) FINE. You find a place. So I did.
Since I wanted to make Hemingway and The Movable Feast a part of our trip, I started my search in the Latin Quarter where Hemingway lived. Found a delightful little tiny hotel - not too pricey. And off we went.
My son made a list of all the things he wanted to see and I made a list as well. We put the lists together and it was longer than we thought it would be. But, we got to everything on the list. A couple of these involved standing in line for two or three hours at a time; but it really wasn't that bad. Except at Versaille, there we stood in line for three hours in the rain. My jeans were wet up to my knees.
Our plane left Toronto at 7:30 on Thursday night. We arrived in Paris at 9 Friday morning. So, of course, we couldn't check into our room until 2. At this point, we'd been up all night and were getting tired. So we strolled through Luxembourg Gardens where Hemingway would go to sit and think and ponder the Great American Novel. From there, it was a short walk to Gertrude Stein's apartment where she held salons for Hemingway, Joyce, e.e. cummings, Picasso, and other notables from the Twenties.
I didn't have a good idea of how good I was at picking hotel rooms until we got up, after an afternoon nap, and went out for supper. Three blocks down the hill, turned the corner and there was Notre Dame, sitting silent in the middle of the Seine. Absolutely amazing. It was dark, the construction workers have erected a ten foot high barrier all around it as they rebuild the roof. Still an amazing sight, in the dark.

October 1, 2019 8am, 70 degrees, okay, that was just weird - it should not be 70 at 8 am on the first day of October. Tis the times we live in. Clear blue Michigan sky this morning, heavy rain due in this afternoon.
Last night, the Milky Way stretched from the northeast overhead. Orion was due south. Glorious weather, big change coming. 80's today, 40 by Saturday.

Been getting things done for my trip to Paris. Started the furnace, filled the water softener, got the fireplace up and running, Wife shouldn't have too many problems while I'm gone. Youngest is coming tomorrow night, final preparations under way.

Got to sit on the front porch this morning and watch the sun rise. Very nice, likely the last morning this year to do that. Autumn is coming quicker than I want - as it always does.

Deep in thought about how lucky I am. How my life has come to this. Kids all doing fine, and I am healthy, happy, still looking forward to each new day with a hope life will get even better. This is different from starting each day hoping things will change, get better. This is every day is a gift to be unwrapped, savored, tasted, enjoyed. NOT time to be endured.

I like this. This is good. A couple more days of waiting and then a big bird non-stop to Paris. The final fulfillment of a dream I've had since age 15, when favorite cousin moved there right out of college. Her thin airmail stationary, her fine penmanship, her thoughts and everyday life. I wished so hard to follow in her footsteps. And now, I am on the way.

All this is not to say I feel I have missed anything. My life, right now, is wonderful. I have a cozy home, a loving wife, marvelous children and grandchildren. The extras - the cold blustery soccer games, long conversations with my oldest son, walking the golf course at Pebble Beach, strolling the Champs-Élysées, These are just the frosting, the whipped cream on top of the life I'm living.

I am so blessed. Be it ever thus.

September 25, 2019 9am 62 degrees, started out clear, clouding up quickly, rain due by early afternoon.

Entering into one of those weird phases of my business life, happens every five years or so, never figured out why it does, exactly, but all of a sudden, many of my loyal and biggest customers pull out for awhile. Causes a number of problems, not the least of which is to cashflow. But, just another thing. Things happen. I'll recover, no harm done. Spent an extra hour helping a guy talk through his problems last night - he was just a tad stressed. Didn't get home til 7 o'clock. THAT hasn't happened for awhile.

Had a great weekend up north wine tasting with our friends. It was a good time. Not sure we bought all that much wine, but laughs were had, wrinkles in life were smoothed out. Had a long long discussion with two of the other guys about our Dads, a growing up, and the scars we still all carry. Cathartic - for all of us. Glad we could do that.

My wife celebrated her 64th birthday - friends, laughter, Henry the VIII. On Sunday morning, she realized she has outlived her Mom and Dad and Brother. Hard realization when that happens. But, just another milestone on our way to the end of the road.

Getting ready to go to lunch with a friend - Annual Take a Widow to Lunch Day. She was a bit unsure about the invitation until I said we would to go the restaurant where my wife works - so it was clear nothing else was intended or expected. Sometime in the four to six months after losing your spouse, friends and relatives drop off enough so you feel very very alone. I think I can buy her lunch, get a few giggles, and help her on her journey. At least, that is the plan.

Onward and Upward.

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September 16, 2019

Harvest Moon - Was a Good One

September 16, 2019 8am 65 degrees, cloudy, just had a spit of rain move through, not enough to show on radar, and not forecast.

Full Moon was spectacular. Lots of lunar rays to start a very busy month. Warm enough to stay outside for a long time - though I did scare a deer under my apple tree. He snorted his displeasure.

15th Annual Wine Tasting weekend starts this Thursday. Four days in Suttons Bay. Good times and laughter with very long time friends. Will rejuvenate depleted batteries and move me on towards the future. Retired French teacher going to help me with what I need to know for Paris.

Worked a bunch on the yard again this weekend, cutting trees, clearing brush on Saturday. Yesterday, big burn pile put to the torch. Didn't get as much burned as I wanted, but a good start. Hoping to cut up forty foot saplings taking up a chunk of my north yard before going up north.

Odd things one learns while watching PBS. The call letters for WLS in Chicago. Worlds Largest Store. You really have to love trivia like that. Go Sears!

Busy week ahead. Onward and Upward.

September 13, 2019 Noon, 71 degrees, cloudy, trying to warm up enough to give us big thunderstorms this afternoon. Had the fireplace running last night, it never got above 65 outside yesterday. Took the chill off the house.

Full Moon tonight, hopefully the skies will clear enough to get out and enjoy it. Few nights ago, I went to the backyard, moon shining bright, casting shadows across the grass, stars out above til the middle of the sky, north of that, huge thunderclouds and lightening everywhere, rumbling flashes of light, pretty spectacular. Some of those storms were nasty, but we didn't get anything here.

Wife back to work, restaurant is busy - as you might expect. She is working a lot of hours helping to get everything squared away. She isn't used to it after being off for 7 months.

I just keep rolling along. Next weekend is wine tasting, ready for a break. Orioles are gone, purple finches are gone, the grape jelly has been put away for the winter. Hummingbirds are still coming, strange birds are flocking in the backyard, gathering for the trip south, huge wedges of geese fly over every night. It's coming. Harvest time.

Life is good.

September 2, 2019 9am 64 degrees, skies trying to clear from thin white clouds. Not as cool this morning, Saturday was 45 - which is not the temps we want to be seeing this time of year.

Over the past few evenings, the Milky Way - stretching overhead - need a little less ambient light to really see it, but still impressive. Saw a UFO - or lights moving in directions they shouldn't be able to do according to Einstein. Watched it for ten minutes, moving up, left, right, down and back again. Multi-colored lights. Very cool.

Tuesday morning, five am, deep into sleep - dreaming of best seller lists and world tours, Wife wakes me up to attack bat in house. Can't find bat, it is not flying around where it can be quickly dispatched with tennis racket and coffee can. (tennis racket is to knock it out of the air - coffee can is to quickly capture it before it regains senses - coffee can, piece of cardboard to hold him in, take out front door, release) Fifteen minutes, searching crevices, behind curtains, nothing. Ah, office door is open. There he is, hanging out, attached to the wall. Open outside door, wave tennis racket, out he goes. Didn't get any more good dreams, though I did manage to get back to sleep.

Sitting on front porch, tiny little bird - a wren, I believe, lands on yew bush next to me, quickly works through the branches, walks out onto the floor of porch, jumps up on door sill, steps into house through our super tacky magnetic screen. Then, of course, she can't get back out. Into house, find bird in my office frantically trying to get through window screen. Manage to open door again and shoo tiny bird out into the garage, though she did keep trying to come back in because that's where the sunrise was shining through the windows.

Youngest son came home to visit and work on Paris trip - ah, Google Docs, everything lining up.

Cards with friends, setting up 15th Annual Wine Trip, three weeks out. Way too much wine.

Wife's restaurant due to open Wednesday this week. She is looking forward to getting back to work and not having to deal with my lack of work ethic. Writer's circle this week. Busy times coming for the month.

Life is good. Sun is shining. Off to do some yard work on this Labor Day. Enjoy.

August 26, 2019 Noon 72 degrees, puffy white clouds ahead of rain overnight and tomorrow.

Went to my 50th Class Reunion - Fifty years from High School. We had over 50% of the class there, casual setting at one classmate's home - really a super madcave nestled into the woods. Much fun, many memories, seeing old faces, not recognizing more than a few. Some, the years have not been kind, some were just few days from 1969. A lot of "we need to do this more often - we don't have much time left"
All in all, a good evening spent with those I interacted with back when I was still learning about life, and love, and living.

Now, a week of flurry getting ready for the re-opening of my main restaurant - now scheduled for next Tuesday - the day after Labor Day. How have we gotten to September already?

A quiet Sunday working on the yard, reading Tana French's In The Wood, way too literary for my usual reading, but I was drawn to the premise, as it is close to my Work in Progress.

Life is good.

August 22, 2019 9am 64 degrees - might not be cooler, but it certainly feels like it. Highs in the low 70's, lows in the upper 40's. Clear blue Michigan sky this morning. Flowers are out in all their glory. Orioles are clearing a quarter jar of jelly every day - gearing up for their flight south. Hummingbirds are going through quarts of nectar. Back yard full of the strange birds in flocks.

Mother turkey and 8 mid sized offspring wandering through the yard. Groundhogs are out - front yard and a different one in the back yard.

Trying to get a handle on all this, as the next couple months are going to hectic. Busy the next couple weekends, then a break, then 15th Annual Wine Trip, back home for a week, then Paris. Busy, Busy. Meanwhile, still waiting for big restaurant to open - has been set back four times already, but they will get there, should be next week. That will disrupt the routine around here with the wife going back to work.

50th class reunion of the Brown City High School Class of 1969 on Saturday. Not sure if I'm looking forward to it or dreading it. Haven't gotten over the fact that the kids in shop class - who never went to college - are all retired from GM or Ford, with cottages up north, winter homes in Florida, while I'm still working. Something terribly wrong there. But, really, at this point, I'm past the point of being jealous or envious. It is what it is. I've had a great life - no regrets.

Life is good, sometimes great.

August 15, 2019 9am 63 degrees - trying to rain. sprinkles coming down, well, of course they are, I spent 40 minutes last night outside with a hose in my hand, naturally it's going to rain NOW.
Was cloudy last night, so I didn't get to see the full moon. Glad I went out the night before. Tonight doesn't look all that good for lunar activity - though that may change.

Didn't get a lot done yesterday, never left the house. Propane people brought me a new tank so, now, instead of having two propane companies, I only have one. Should save me a couple hundred dollars a year.

Off today to deliver special placemats for event in Metamora next week. Last week's run was just a touch under 100 miles. Trying to get it all done today so I can spend a little time at Lapeer Days tomorrow. It would appear the weather is not going to cooperate. Supposed to be cloudy, scattered showers and getting really warm over the weekend and into next week. Great, more muggy, more summer, just when the kids are going back to school.

Energy rising with the Full Moon. All that said, still not getting any real writing done. I'll be able to confront local publisher about my column idea tomorrow afternoon in the Beer Tent. That might be interesting.

I have elderly cousins - she is 88 and her husband is 91. They have reached the point where they really shouldn't be living on their own. Their daughter is moving them to Missouri over Labor Day. Stopped by Tuesday and had a good chat with them. They've been here in Lapeer since 1952. Can't imagine the change they will have to make. New church, new neighborhood, new everything. All I can say is I hope that never happens to me - but I'm sure something like that might happen. I wish them the best.

Okay, off to work. A long drive down country roads always makes me happy.
Life is good.

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

Into August And Still No Rain
originally posted: August 13, 2019

August 13, 2019 8am 68 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky. No rain, nadda, not a drop. Should have watered the flowers last night - will definitely have to do it tonight.

Early morning, sky a glorious orange above the trees across the way. Quiet, so quiet, the insane dog across the street not up and about yet. The neighbors have taken up a collection to kill him. Not sure yet how the owners feel about that.

The Baltimore Orioles have returned to the feeder after a couple weeks hiatus. Have a few more weeks before they head south. Hummingbirds are drinking much more from the feeder - also getting ready to head south.

Doe and fawn in the back yard last night grooming each other. Wow, something I've never seen before. Every day brings new things. We just keep learning if we just keep watching.

Caught the new PBS show Pictures of Us. I wasn't impressed.

Life is good. Local festival gearing up for this weekend. Some of the kids are coming back home to see if it has changed since they were smaller. Another week on the restaurant where my wife works. She will be happy to get back and out of the house.

A quiet morning, sun shining, all is well.

August 12, 2019 8am 67 degrees, cloudy skies, hopefully a solid rain coming tonight. Everything is very dry, lawn is crunchy, flowers need water.

Saturday, I burned a big pile of branches and such like, down by the road. Had my hoses lined up, bought a new one to make it out that far, which promptly burst when I turned the water on. That will be a return to the Ace Hardware. Didn't even last twenty minutes. Sitting in the shade watching the fire burn, I could see the cars going past. Every fourth car had the driver talking on a cell phone, held up to their ear. Every Fourth One! I think we might need the law they have in Illinois where that is illegal. I did see something I've never seen before though, an minivan with a couple kids in the backseat, windows down, and Mom wearing an hijab. Something I guess I thought I'd never see out here in boondocks. The world is indeed changing.

Life goes on. The doe and fawn come through the backyard every night. The Fawn's spots are quickly disappearing. Charly the groundhog doesn't like it when I try to engage him in conversation. Deadheading my marigolds has resulted in the best showing I've ever had with them. Full moon this week. Can't wait.

And, this morning I had the idea to go buy new blue jeans and black jeans for my work uniform. Then, I remembered I always go to Walmart for those. I'm really not sure I want to risk it. Ah, what a world we live in.

Life is good, none the less.

August 8, 2019 9am 66 degrees, cloudy skies after overnite rain.

Two months from now, I will be in Paris. Getting very excited. Hopefully, that won't get too out of hand. My excitement sounds like bragging, which I try not to do.

Have managed to fill up the remaining weekends in August. Only have two left in September. Good grief. But, then again, we are doing something. Always better to be doing something than hanging out on the couch watching worthless television. Caught the Woodstock event on American Experience. It was pretty good. We really thought we were going to change the world. And we did - that's the part that so many forget. We did change the world. Now, Rupert Murdoch and his minions from Australia are trying to change it back. Didn't see that coming.

Off on my big route to deliver placemats today. Always a fun drive, hopefully, the sun will come out. Blue Skies. Full Moon next Thursday. Can't wait.

August 1, 2019 9am 60 degrees, hazy skies, sunshine. Tried to get a look at the Dark Moon last night, but, after the debates, I was too tired to locate it - Milky Way was out and glowing.

Cooled down considerably, had to put on long pants this morning. Now, time to start the new month, records to be broken, my main restaurant getting ready to reopen, stuff happening.

Writers Circle tonight, for those who are still in town, which doesn't appear to be many. Which is as it should be.

I can hear lawnmowers in the distance. Traffic seems to have picked up. Waiting on the phone guy yet again. Been a week without a usable phone. This is no way to run a business. Thanks, Frontier.

July 31, 2019 1pm 74 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies, has cooled down from the high temperatures and high humidity. Got 3/4 inch of rain on Monday, everything green and growing.

Trying to get some writing done for Writers Circle tomorrow night. Keep getting distracted...
Had to assist the wife in removing voice mails from her phone, both scams, the second involving student loans - she never went to college and graduated in 1974.

Youngest son and I are going to Paris in October, tickets bought. Very excited. Hoping to stay in Earnest Hemingway's old neighborhood. Life is good.

Meanwhile, lots of stuff going on every day. Never a dull moment. Watched the debate last night. My whole take on this is sure let's elect an old white guy in his seventies - that certainly worked out last election. Go Mayor Pete!

July 26, 2019 8am 66 degrees, sky a bit hazy with smoke from Canadian wildfires. Sunrise this morning was faint pink - was hoping for something a bit more spectacular, but, hey, it wasn't raining.

Family stuff last weekend. Good times, bad golf, lots of laughter and hugs. This weekend, going to the Eastern Michigan State Fair with my granddaughters, daughter, daughter-in-law. We'll see if my almost nine year old granddaughter can get Grandpa on the ferris wheel.

Had to water the flowers last night, has been the usual late July dry weather around here. At least, I don't have to mow the lawn as often.

Saw something I've never seen before, sitting on the front porch watching the sun come up. A robin was in the grass, cleaning himself, by taking drops of dew from the grass and preening his feathers. Don't think I've ever witnessed that happening. Fascinating.

In the evening, deer come through my yard on their way to the hay field across the way. Last night, two does and a fairly young fawn - still had some spots left, they sampled the apples under the tree, took a few bites of my grape leaves, headed towards the road, then Mom decided not to attempt a crossing and they headed back the way they came.

Waiting on the phone repair guy to show up and remove the static from my phone. I can still use it, but it is hard to hear over all the noise. He had to wait for a bucket truck since the overgrowth around the pole he needs to get to won't let him get close enough with a ladder. Yeah, I really need to cut that stuff back. Yet another project.

July 20, 2019 9am, 84 degrees, in the _th day of a heat wave. Tis very warm. Missed most of the cooling rain last night, storms all around us, had a lightning strike extremely close to the house, almost knocked me off the couch.

Family stuff today - my little brother coming in from Bowling Green Kentucky - another brother from Tacoma arrived Tuesday. Dinner and fellowship today, golf on Monday - Mom's four boys together- she would have loved that.

50 years ago today, I was with Alex Graham - doing what? I have no idea, but we did pause in his parent's living room long enough to watch the first steps on the moon. I am really not sure if my hormone infused brain realized the momentousness of the occasion. Likely not.

Getting too hot to sit in my office. Off to watch The Open on tv.

Upward and Onward.

July 11, 2019 9am, 77 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies. Went up to 90 yesterday but the air is so dry, the rain did not develop even with high humidity. Very odd. Have a string of 80's coming up. 80 -85 degrees everyday with little chance of rain. Been out watering my flowers, hoping they'll stay pretty.

Had a wonderful weekend. Saturday, celebrating my middle son's 33rd birthday, and enjoying time with the Texas wing of my family. They were in town for a week and we spent time with them on Saturday, Sunday, and then, Monday, they came to Rockfall. It was great fun. Though, it did make realize how much work I actually have to do around here. So many projects, so little time. (or add in the fact that one can't reasonably use a chainsaw when the temperature is 90 degrees. - or at least not someone of my age). Anyway, it was great to see our Texas cohorts, get to know their kids a little better, and spend time not worrying about jobs, or work, or any of that normal stuff.

Summer brings wildlife out. Charly, the groundhog in the back yard, was out for hours last evening. Curly, the groundhog in the front yard, was out this morning. I have baby bunnies in the front and full grown bunnies in the back. Fifteen to twenty deer come through the yard in the evenings, stopping to see if there are any fallen apples under my tree, on their way to the field across the road, watching them stop and listen for traffic. One pair of Baltimore Orioles have starting bringing their youngsters to the grape jelly on the feeder. Lots of fireflies this year - people have commented on how abundant they are.

Normal week - after taking Monday off - this is my busy time of year, so I probably shouldn't have done that, but I think it will all work out. And, of course, watching Wimbleton every time I wander through the living room.

Did manage to binge the new season of Stranger Things. Great show, but this year, I had more fun trying to catch all the 1985 references. They must have had a lot of fun putting that together. Now, alas, I will have to wait another year for the next season....

Onward and Upwards.

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Into Summer
originally posted: July 5, 2019

July 5, 2019 11am 87 degrees, Hot, Humid, Heat Wave. Been like this for a week now, getting old.

Month since I've written. Went to US Open Golf with my middle son at Pebble Beach, California. Great time, we drove down to Big Sur, wandered the back streets of Carmel, enjoyed the golf, Thanks for such a fantastic Father's Day Gift. Unfortunately, the skies never cleared for the full moon. But I managed to get outside here at home on Monday of the full moon.

The past month has brought me to a different place. It appears I am not indestructible, that I actually can have medical issues. I am not good with this. For all of my life, I have had perfect health, no pills, no yearly followups. This is different and I'm not sure just what it means or how it will affect my life. Mind you, there is nothing major, just little minor stuff to deal with. But the idea that I'm not immortal, not bulletproof, that's what I'm having a hard time coming to grips with. (Gee, let's see how many prepositions I can end sentences with)

Has been a strange summer anyway. Crops did not get planted, fields that should have knee high corn are fallow, some corn is only a couple inches tall, never going to get to maturity. Farmers here abouts are in desperate shape. Going to be a hard winter for them. Right now, heat wave, humidity hanging like a damp warm cloth in the air. Everything is sticky. My house is not air conditioned.

Off to the movies - they have AIR!

Life is good.

June 7, 2019 10am 70 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky. Going to be a beautiful summer day going into a glorious weekend. This is what we put up with winter for - a few weeks of perfect.

Mom's rosebush has 8 blossoms, huge white roses too heavy for the stalks. I have it staked to an iron rod with zip ties. Absolutely gorgeous.

Writers Circle last night - three new people - so much for the gossip club mentality. Newbie writers we can help, encourage and mentor. The whole idea behind the circle to begin with.

Stephen King's book - The Outsider. One member of the Writers Circle read about half of it and then took it back to the library. I can see why. I stopped at the same spot, when he killed off what I thought was going to be the hero. I finally went back to finish it and King brought in characters from older books. Which is fine - I liked those characters back in the day - but trying to remember their backstory and just exactly what it is they brought to this one - well, that was a stretch I had trouble with. So, I ended up mostly annoyed. King is too good an author to resort to such tactics. And I was disappointed.

Okay, a beautiful morning - off to do a little business and then home to mow the yard, get ready for the weekend. Leaving Monday on two day golf trip with the guys, then home for Wednesday, off to Monterrey on Thursday for the US Open with my son. Life is good. Life is great. Full moon over Monterrey Bay on Sunday night. You just gotta love it.

June 6, 2019 2pm 68 degrees, blue sky with puffy clouds. Chilly this morning, but warming up nicely. Inch of rain yesterday. Farmer's fields are waterlogged, getting awfully late in the planting season. Saw a lot of corn coming up yesterday - not sure when they were able to put seed in the ground.

Flowers looking good - don't need to water them. Stars out last night, summer warmth the night before with scattered stars, the season is finally upon us.

Writers Circle tonight, yeah, like I've written anything in the past month... Oh, well, it's getting to be more of a social gathering anyway. Which is fine. Some are still writing, but the majority just show up for the company. Really need to do something about that. I'm supposed to be helping move writing forward - not just a gossip club.

Sales have been weird. I've been underselling - which is costing me money. Dumb. But, I'm so used to everyone being cautious with their advertising, it is a surprise when they want to spend more not less.

Couple more days of work and then starting off on my great adventure. Fun, fun.

Okay, off to get ready for my meeting. Things to do, places to go, people to see, all that jazz.

May 28, 2019 8am 61 degrees, rain last night, cloudy morning. Finally shut the furnace down yesterday. Thought it was going to have to run all summer. Still have flannel on.

Got my perennial beds cleaned out, lawns mowed, place is looking pretty spiffy. Spent Sunday with my wife's sister for her 60th birthday. Great time, got to see their new house, she has waaaaaaaaaaaay more plants than I do - but maybe we can share. She came out this way yesterday to a hosta person, who gave her ten new plants, all kinds of cool stuff. Have no idea where the gene pool messed up there, my wife won't even go outside to look at the flowers. Oh well.

Mom's rose bush has bloomed already. I think I did a pretty decent job picking one out.

Went furniture shopping with wife, she bought a new couch and loveseat for the living room. We determined the last time we did that was 1980. Good grief. Also stopped at Barnes & Noble, got the Stephen King book I didn't get for Christmas. (Daughter bought be the last publication - a thin little thing.) I was unaware of this one until someone in Writers Circle asked me if it was any good. It is.

Lots of stuff to get to today. Sales, checking mats, maybe get daughter in laws 47 Plymouth Hotrod out of my shed. Only two weeks left before big week ending in Father's Day. Golf in Michigan Monday/ Tuesday, then off to Pebble Beach for the US Open with middle son. I'm getting way to excited about this. Need to calm down a bit. My customers are getting annoyed.

Onward and Upward.

May 24, 2019 8am 52 degrees, Started out clear, now clouding up a bit. Have had sunshine the past few days, woke yesterday morning 5 am to thunder. Good stuff. Still wearing flannel, it can get warm anytime. I miss my short sleeve shirts.

Have two sets of Orioles coming to the feeder, along with a pair of purple finches. Even had a squirrel tasting the grape jelly. Got all my flowers planted last weekend, still need to work on my perennial beds. Bought a special white rose bush in memory of Mom - it has eight buds on it, hoping the shock of planting it doesn't freak it out too bad. Dogwood in full bloom, glorious white against deep green.

Yesterday, the wind was blowing hard out of the southwest. Sitting on the front porch, cumulus clouds moving swiftly across the sun caused shadows to race across the front yard, the field across the road and into the woods, followed by bright sunshine and then another cloud. Sort of like watching one of those old movies flicker on the screen. Shadows and sun moving at 40 miles an hour. Very cool.
Orion last night directly overhead.

Full moon last weekend. Got out two nights in a row, soaking up the lunar magic. All energized. Had a great week of selling this week. Bank accounts getting fat, life is good.

All things good and wonderful here on my little end of the world. Thunderstorms this weekend. And warmth, at last, warmth. It has been a long and cold winter - to the point where I thought I might never get warm again. Now, on to four months of short sleeves, and complaining about the heat.

May 15, 2019 10am 62 degrees, what a difference a couple of days make. Ground is drying out, farmers are on the fields, and it is warmer...

Out working this week, getting lots done, bills paid, money coming in, things are happening. Full moon this weekend, really looking forward to that.

Phone is ringing, wife making breakfast, my few minutes to weigh in here are apparently over.

Have a good One.

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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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