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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 15, 2017

What a Difference a Week Makes

September 15, 2017 11am 70 degrees, hazy after foggy morning.

Last weekend was cool here, had to start the furnace - way too early for that. Now, we are in a stretch of 80+ days going out at least 10 more days. Windows are open and the pilot light is asking, "Why?"

And in the past week, trees have begun turning, red leaves can be spotted here and there, the greens are muted, the soybeans are changing from dark green to greenish brown, autumn is coming.

On the front porch this morning, 22 turkeys working their way across the field - huge birds. Goldenrod is everywhere. Star light last night, summer makes her exit.

Gearing up for a busy few weeks. Delivering the wedding present from hell to my new daughter. Eight months, a graphic artist who took a long time to get to my vision, photo printer who should have never attempted to be in that business, jeweler who etched the wrong side of the special order frame, - anyway, done at last.

The kids got together and we are taking my wife to the last concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills next Saturday. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullitt Band. Family outing, will be so fun.

Then, the following week, 14th Annual Wine Tasting and Wife Swapping Weekend, house on Lake Leelanau, copious amounts of wine, fun, laughter, golf, shopping, and cards.

And, as much as I am trying not to do anything, sales are through the roof, money rolling in, and life doesn't really get much better than this.

Well, I could be writing......

September 7, 2017 8am 48 degrees, cloudy morning as the days get cooler, flowers are not as bright, trees not as green, autumn is coming.

Our adopted family in Houston made it through without loss. They did have to evacuate for a few days, but house was high and dry - well, at least dry. Now I get to worry about my niece and her family in Jacksonville Florida. Never ends.

The orioles have gone. Talk about snow birds. First cool morning and they leave for warmer climes. Now, honey bees are devouring the last of the grape jelly in the feeder.

Full moon Tuesday night. Clear sky, wet grass, magic. I do love magic. Went out twice, just because the moonlit lawn kept calling me from my perch on the couch to take a break from watching tennis and get out there.

And the magic is making my phone ring, sales are off the charts, I just love this.

Busy day today, need to get started.

Life is good, life is great right now.

August 25, 2017 10am 64 degrees. Clear Blue Michigan Sky this morning and a definite chill in the air. 44 at sunrise, fallish.

So, our new adopted family lives in Missouri City, Texas. A suburb of Houston and they are now under the Hurricane watch, expecting 18 - 24 inches of rain. I've lived in Houston, my house was 70 miles north of Galveston and I was 6 feet above sea level. which means, Houston is FLAT. 18 inches of rain has no where to go. It just sits there. We had many mornings looking out at our parking lot to see 8 inches of water surrounding our car. Also discovering that if you pull the floor mat back, there are little rubber grommets that you can remove so the water drains out of your car.
Anyway, we wish Jay & Jen and the kids all the luck in the world, they may need it.

One of the joys of driving around as much as I do, is watching the different ways businesses reach out to the public passing by. On a very busy road yesterday, a car repair place, known for their pithy sayings on the message board.

My kid is just like me. Well played, Karma, well played.


August 18, 2017 9am 70 degrees, cloudy damp morning.

So, our local weatherman has been going gaga over the eclipse, and heading to Hopkinsville, Kentucky to watch it. Kentucky? Hey, my little brother lives in Kentucky. Quick google search for his small town and it is directly in the path of the total eclipse.

Email to ask if I can crash on his couch Sunday night, response - Wife finally threw you out, huh? But sure, come on down.

Okay, maybe I should think about this one a bit before pulling the string and loading the car.
After long deliberations, and my wife actually thinking about going along for the ride, last night's news reports of 15 mile long backups in Oregon, and little brother's 30-40% chance of cloudy conditions...

This sounds like the worst date ever. 1100 mile road trip and it's all over in two minutes. And, I might not even get that lucky.

Guess I'll stay home and watch it at the local library with everyone else.

Ah, the thought was good - when is it ever going to happen again? Wow, there's an answer to that. 2024 - that's just 7 years.

Are we having fun yet?

August 13, 2017 11am 72 degrees, clear blue Michigan Skies. Shaping up to be a glorious summer day.
This has been a week for the ages. After last week's festivities, I was looking for a few days at a slower pace. Alas, didn't happen. Started out on Monday with an email from Susan Henderson over at LitPark informing me I had won a signed copy of Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt. Very cool. Great way to start the week.
Monday was the full moon. And I took advantage of the warm evening to spend a long time in the back yard soaking in the lunar rays. And repeated it again on Tuesday night. All fueled up with the magic of the Druids, the power of the cosmos, however you want to say it.
My real job has been particularly busy as well which took up a lot of time but worked out nearly perfect. Had to purchase more grape jelly for my growing families of Orioles. They are going through three jars a week as the little ones grow fast.
Thursday, went for my annual physical. My doctor (who is about my age) did his thing and said come back in a couple years. So much for annual. BTW. No tests were ordered, no pills prescribed, no dietary diatribes, good to go.
Friday, out and about, seeing customers, picking up checks, getting caught in the rain, got a fantastic massage and then prime rib with friends. A wonderful week, powered by the light of the moon.
Also noted that all of my children were travelling out of state all week. A brave new world out there for our kids.
And now, all quiet on the home front. Caroline's book arrived yesterday - I'm 30 pages into it already. Have another busy week coming up. But I'm sure the residual emanations of moonglow will carry me through in tip top shape.
Life is good, sometimes great. Right now, it is the best it's ever been. Be it ever thus.

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August 6, 2017

A Perfect Day

August 6, 2017 5pm 75 degrees, clouds, then sun, then rain, then sun.

Decompressing after my son's wedding in Detroit.
At midnight Friday night, standing at the full length window in the Marriott on the 50th floor with my wife and a glass of wine in my hand, enjoying the end of a perfect day. And it was. My wife and I enjoyed a slow leisurely breakfast with my brother, a slow leisurely lunch with my favorite cousin, off to the wedding site on Belle Isle in a brightly colored school bus, greeting the guests, the bride was half an hour late (not her fault) sitting in the front row watching my son lose his composure as she came down the aisle, a wonderful ceremony, pictures, and then a grand reception. All wonderful. My wife. my friends, my family, everyone around to share our joy. Little windy, but it didn't rain on the ceremony. I got to give a little speech, which went well.
What we heard, in those off moments that happen so quickly at events like this, was how much in love the newlyweds were, and how much that love extended to everyone in the room. Everyone was smiling, laughing, enjoying being a part of this celebration. That, in and of itself, was amazing. And to be a part of it was even more so.

So proud of my son, his two brothers, his sister & husband, and my granddaughter who was flower girl. And, now, we have added more to our family, the bride's brother, his wife and three children are now part of our clan - whether they like it or not. And, they are so welcome. Anything they need, they just have to ask.

And the rest of the bride's extended family, so welcoming to my son and us - the love our two families brought together under a cloudy sky in the middle of the Detroit River.

A Perfect Day.

July 29, 2017 2pm 77 degrees, Clear blue Michigan sky.

The wedding draws nigh. Thursday night, Rehearsal and dinner, Friday - 5:30 on Belle Isle, Downtown Detroit. Then, Saturday, 100 miles away, my niece is getting married in the slowly rolling waves on the beach in Caseville. Way too much fun.

In anticipation of the new movie, IT. My youngest son has requested my copy of Stephen King's huge novel. 1133 pages. He has never been a fast reader, but he wants to try. Movie comes out Sept. 9.

Looking forward to seeing all the family this week and weekend. That's what summers all about.

Watching way too much politics for my own mental health. Rachel Maddow fills my every evening at 9. My wife refuses to watch her - says her voice grates on her nerves.

Baltimore Orioles and purple finches going through a jar of grape jelly every four days. They are so pretty to watch, flying in to the feeder as I sit ten feet away on the front porch. Today, I had blue birds picking worms out of the yard. Had a doe and fawn just outside the bedroom window last night - the fawn's spots still very much evident.

We are ready for the big event. All my chores are accomplished, clothes ready for a two day stay in Downtown Detroit, Good times.

July 21, 2017 9am 75 degrees, trying to be hazy, but when the sun comes through, it is hot!

Deep into wedding planning. The big event is just two weeks from today. Things are coming together. I've been trying to get ahead on my work so the calendar is clear for any last minute details.

Sitting on my porch last evening, glass of wine as the sun was setting behind the house. Watching a family of wild turkeys in the field across the street, deer coming through my yard, and then little spots of light rising out of the grass. Fireflies! In the warm humid air, seemingly thousands of them, flashing for a second then replaced by a hundred more. Fascinating!

Just more magic in my life. Right now, everything is going so exceptionally well, it is hard to believe I could be this blessed. The wonder grows each and every day. How can this be? And why didn't I know how to do this years ago? Or am I even doing anything to make it happen?

Did the full moon thing, as usual, warm night, wet grass beneath my feet, soaking in the lunar rays and recharging for another month of magic.

Life is good. Sometimes great - like it is now.

July 6, 2017 5pm 85 degrees, sky a lovely shade of blue

31 years ago today, I spent the morning watching the Wimbleton Final. Ivan Lendl, my favorite, got his clock cleaned by Boris Becker. I was also chain smoking in the waiting room of the maternity wing at Lapeer General Hospital. My very pregnant wife would walk in every few minutes to check the score and watch until the nurses tracked her down and made her go back to the labor room which did not have a tv.
After the match was over, it started to get interesting. Daughter came through on her way home from work at Burger King. And by four thirty, we had a big Baby Boy.
He has grown up fine and, in a month, is getting married. Being the middle child, he didn't get to be first at anything, or the last at anything. But he held his own, is loved by a multitude of friends and has given his Dad more than a few great stories.
His future is bright, his star is still rising. Tomorrow holds such promise. Life is good.
Happy Birthday, Son.

June 27, 2017 9 am 59 degrees, skies are clearing.

Yesterday was bittersweet. I finished clearing out Mom's trailer Saturday and yesterday, my brother and I handed over the keys to the new owner. Mom is 94 and still with us, safely ensconced in The Home, where she seems content though some days she doesn't know who we are and, others, where she says "Hi, Ric." Since she is never going back to her trailer, it seemed prudent to sell it and cut that expense. Mom and Dad bought the trailer home in 1994 and Dad passed in 1999. So, for the past 18 years, my brother and I have been making the thirty mile, one way, trip to Brown City every other week to see Mom, mow the lawn, spend some time with her. For three years in that time, my sister-in-law was ill, and my wife and I did the trip every week. At one point this past year, I mentioned how I'm not going to miss the drive.
I was born and raised in Brown City, left when I was twenty and never returned. But it is still home, you know how that goes. Still, handing over the keys to the last remnant of my time there, was more emotional than I thought it would be. My older brother acted like he thought we should do something to commemorate the occasion, but, in the end, we simply drove away.
My parents did an exceptional job of raising four boys on a farm south of town. I had a wonderful childhood, working with animals, learning life and love in the back seat of a Ford Galaxie, surviving high school, always with the support of parents who would point me in the right direction. We all turned out pretty good, with families of our own and good lives.
Yesterday, though, felt like something important was ending and my life will never be the same again. An undefinable loss, sure I lost something but not exactly sure what it is.
Last night, about 8 pm, I looked out my front window and in the sky was a beautiful rainbow, not a full one, but a slash of bright colors, wider than usual. When I grabbed my phone and went out to take a picture, a bunny darted around the corner of the house and, as I was trying to focus the camera, a doe walked down the driveway twenty feet away from me. An amazing experience as the sun created the rainbow and cast a yellow light - Tuscan light = over everything. I knew what I think I may have lost, is still with me. My Dad, whose life was centered around that little town in the Thumb of Michigan let me know it is okay to feel loss, but, going ahead, there is still so much more.

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June 24, 2017

Into Summer

June 24, 2017 8am, 66 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky, damp out there.

The past three weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. So many things going on, so many memories, jolts from the past, and just plain strange strings of "what? Really?"

I started this process of clearing out Mom's Trailer - new owner takes possession July 1st. I had my oldest brother helping until he fell and hit his head, causing blood on his brain to mimic the stroke he had twenty years ago. So, he's out of the equation. My two other brothers came in last weekend and helped. But, I am in charge at this point and all of the STUFF is ending up at my house. I don't want any more STUFF. I don't need any more STUFF.
Not to mention, what am I supposed to do with it? Example, stuffed into a nest of stoneware crocks (which are really cool), was a Wonder Bread bag - the kind with bright colored spots - in the bag, I found every Valentine my mother got while in country school. And they are dated. 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934. And one very special one. Dated 1924, from her grandparents (not sure which side) for her very first Valentine's Day.

Seriously? They are beyond priceless - but what am I going to do with them?

I managed to get the kitchen and dining room painted, whereupon I could reassemble my bookcase and get those boxes out of my living room. They have been replaced with 15 boxes of stuff from Mom's. To the point where I can't paint the living room.

And as the sun goes down each night, the wildlife has returned to my neglected yard. Deer, bunnies, and bats in the gloaming.
My two sets of Orioles have been joined at the grape jelly by a set of purple finches - that's different. And, this morning, there is a cat in heat somewhere out there, making the most plaintive howls in search of a mate.

Over to Brown City today to finish the trailer. It will be done, but, unfortunately, I'll have another fifteen boxes to stuff the stuff in whatever remaining corners of my little house I can find.

June 8, 2017 Noon 70 degrees, clear impossibly blue Michigan sky, warming up for the weekend.

Last night, (even though the full moon isn't until tomorrow morning), the moonlight called me into the yard, glorious lunar vistas, And I soaked up the rays, hoping to do it again this evening. Life continues to get better and better.

Celebrated my Mother's 94th birthday on Monday, she does like a party and, more to the point, being the center of attention. This is something we've only noticed in the past twenty years or so. Maybe she was just too busy before that for us to discover that particular personality trait.

Off to my home town to help Brother Jim with Mom's trailer. Trying to get it cleared out, it has already been sold. Other Brothers coming in next weekend and we've barely dented 94 years worth of memories, knickknacks, stuff and more stuff.

My life has reached such a magical point. And it keeps on coming, like the arrival of the full moon every month, I just take it as it comes, and, right now, everything is good, everything is great, everything is going along incredibly. Tonight will mark the 13th full moon in a row that I have taken strength from, been suckled by, and I still don't know what that means, only that I believe it and it works.

Deep into the metaphysical. Don't know, don't care as long as it keeps working.

June 2, 2017 9am 61 degrees, had showers roll through here quickly an hour ago, sun is out and warming up.

Just finished up a record May for my business. And it really feels like I'm hardly working at all. Tons of other stuff going on, remodeling the house, repairing some damage from letting the roof get seriously bad before replacing it - so now I get to repaint everything. Like I don't have enough going on this summer. Have dead trees down all over the yard, which also needs attention.

To wit: Actually writing. The continued encouragement from the Writers Circle and their anticipation for the next chapter in my WIP. They have been following this saga for a number of years now and are anxious to reach the solution.

Now, if I can just keep it up through the whole month and not when deadline is approaching.

Off to deliver product. Weekend involves yard work, painting and whatever else comes up.

Life is good.

May 12, 2017 9am 50 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies. Been down to 28 this week, not sure if the apple blossoms made it through or not.
Bright orange Baltimore Orioles at my feeders, going for 8 or 9 years straight with these loud and colorful birds.

Last night was full moon (actually the night before, but the sky was clouded over then). Got my moon fix, standing naked in the back yard, soaking in the lunar rays and re-energizing my psychic soul.
My life is going so well right now, this is the eleventh month in a row for my moonlight ritual, and everything continues to bloom and blossom and grow.
I wish there was some way to bottle this, I'd make a freakin fortune.
But, I suppose just having it for myself, without evangelizing to the world, is enough. Always happy, always smiling, my customers love to see me walk in the door, everyone likes to see someone doing well, especially someone you've known through the hard times - it raises your spirits. So if you are going through a rough patch, you know there is the possibility of redemption down the road.

That said, I am still involved in a horrible writer's block. I think I have it narrowed down to a fear of failure. The thought of putting so much of myself into a project and then - poof - not being able to sell it. Could it be that I'm so enamored with my good feelings and positive vibes that I am forcing myself not to write in an effort to maintain this great experience? That I can't bring myself to put six months into a book because I'm scared if it doesn't sell, I'll become morose and depressed?

Anyone got any suggestions?

May 4, 2017 5pm 45 degrees, heavy rain, all day, all night, all day tomorrow

35 years ago today, living the life in Houston, Texas, when my wife gave birth to my first son, a blond blue eyed little guy to carry on my name and make the world right again.

All these years later, I still see that spark, that indefinable sense that he is mine. He has taken a different road than I would have, but has turned out to be a generous, garrulous young man, with a quick sense of humor, a touch of grace and a clear idea of what he wants from life.

Late on a Texas evening, a new light in the world, my light - may he ever shine.

Happy Birthday, Stefan.

April 28, 2017 9am 52 degrees, cloudy & cool.

47 years ago today, I was a long haired hippy, pacing in the waiting room of Lapeer General Hospital, chain smoking and annoyed that the nurses were keeping me there instead of the delivery room.
When the gurney finally came down the hallway, the nurse said, "It's a girl."
I replied, "I don't care what sex she is, as long as she can handle a machine gun."
In my small town, the comment did not go over particularly well. Sometimes, I forget where I live.
I sold my mother a cow for $450. The hospital bill was $435.
Had my daughter been a boy, she would have been named Che`. Instead, she got Tania - Che`'s female counterpart in the jungles of Bolivia. The name was also assumed by Patty Hearst years later. The spelling comes from the French translation of Russian. Something that annoyed my Russian professor at Oakland University. Should have been Tonya.

Tania came home to a loving family, such as we were. She is now an account exec in telecom sales with two young daughters of her own.

Life is good. The revolution didn't quite turn out the way we planned, but we are still here.

Happy Birthday, Daufer.

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April 15, 2017

Sometimes I Forget Where I Live

April 15, 2017 11am, 62 degrees, sun coming out, going to 80 today

Somehow I ended up living in a very conservative small town out here in the hinterland.

One of our wine group member's father passed last weekend.
So, at the funeral dinner, I somehow got seated next to the Lutheran Minister.
We chatted about various people we know around town.
Then he asked me what church I belonged to.....

Not sure - but I don't think Gnostic Mysticism was the correct answer.

My long suffering wife , who was on the other side of the table, was aghast.

"It's Holy Week and now the poor guy is so upset he won't be able to give a decent sermon."

Happy Easter,

April 13, 2017 3pm, 48 degrees, cloudy with rain showers.

I rewrote the epic road trip - enjoy.
Partially due to timing of leases and such, my son, Patrick sent me a one way ticket to San Francisco the day after my birthday. Arriving at our local airport at 4:30 in the morning, I headed out. Pat picked me up at the airport in a sunny San Francisco and we spent the day downtown, Chinatown, Pier 39, Coy Tower, then out to dinner with his roommates - he has some marvelous friends, and then a late night hike up a nearby mountain with panoramic views of lights in the city.
Friday, St. Patrick's Day, we headed home. Across the central valley of California - ah, Bakersfield - Merle Haggard Drive, ending at the Excalibur Casino at the end of the Vegas Strip. We walked the Strip from the south end to the north end and back again. Saw the Bellagio fountains go off, the volcanoes at the Mirage, had a glass of wine under the Venice sky at the Venetian. Caught up with some friends from back here, living out west but celebrating a birthday at the Flamingo. Pat made two bets and won both - I did not gamble at all.
Off the next morning to Arizona. Got to the Grand Canyon about 3, cost $30 - oh, wait, are you a senior citizen? - Here, a lifetime pass to all the National Parks - lucky you got this today, the price is going up to $70 - handed me the pass and a twenty dollar bill. Have a great time. We headed out to a point Pat had researched as an easy spot. Halfway there, I said, pull over, park the car. We got out, walked twenty feet and there it was.
Life is not about the number of breathes you take, but about the number of times it takes your breath away.
There have been only a few times in my life where I have been speechless, Pat was the same way. Took a while for Patrick to get comfortable being close to the edge, finally, he sat on a rock sticking out over the canyon, hung his feet the edge, barely able to see the bottom. We walked down the path a mile or so, never more than a few feet from the edge. New vistas every turn, an amazing experience. An unforgettable memory.
Then off through the Hopi Indian Reservation on a two lane road, darkness falling, came out eventually in Gallup, New Mexico.
Sunday morning, on the road again. Stopped in Old Town Albuquerque - my oldest son, who lived there, said it was neat and it was. Saw the Cadillac's stuck in the ground in Amarillo, stopped for the night in Elk City, Oklahoma. Monday, on to Memphis. I asked Pat if he wanted to go to Graceland and he asked, "What's that?" Clearly, as Uncle Jim says, we are the last generation to care about Elvis. We tried to stay at the Marriott in downtown Memphis but they were full, but we had an adventure none the less. I found an Econolodge for $100 a night or so, right downtown. Pat put it in the GPS and when we got there, it was a parking garage - an OLD parking garage. We drove in and a little sign said, Registration for Econolodge, so we parked and went in. $100. wait, how about a senior discount? Okay, $80. Then he hands me a slip of paper to sign. I hereby acknowledge that I am aware the elevators do not work, but I will simply call the front desk and staff will drive up and provide transportation down to street level. "Where is the room?" Eighth floor. "Pat, are you sure we want to do this?" Pat said, "Just for the story, Dad."
So, Pat and I drove to the seventh floor, got our bags, walked up one flight of stairs to our room. There are three floors of rooms on top of the parking garage. From up there, we could see the Marriott two blocks away - they had working elevators, but they were also $289 a night. We got settled in and then called for a ride. Walked down one flight of stairs, got in a van, dropped at the street. Where is Beale Street? Four blocks that way.
Pat and I had a great time wandering from nightspot to nightspot, great dinner, went in one place where the entertainment was one guy with a guitar and not much audience, so we had a drink, started a friendly conversation, and Patrick ended up on stage performing.
The next morning, I sat by the pool on the eighth floor, in pajama bottoms and a t-shirt, drinking coffee, 68 degrees, Life is good.
Tuesday, we drove across Tennessee, toured downtown Nashville, got to my Brother Mike's about four, had a great time, good dinner, comfy bed, and got back home at 5 Wednesday night. 3, 126 miles.
A chance - they come too seldom - to share experiences and adventures with one of my children. To learn about his life as an adult, his dreams and fears, and come away certain that he is on the right track, that growing up in our household hasn't scarred him for life, and the future holds great promise.

And that takes my breath away.

March 24. 2017 10am, 52 degrees, going to 70 today, rain all weekend.

March 10, 2017 1pm 22 degrees, sun shining on a fresh coating of snow. Big wind here on Wednesday, second largest power outage in Detroit Edison history, middle son still without power, I have a couple restaurants closed, not sure when they are re-opening. Trees and branches down everywhere, lost a 80 foot pine in my backyard. That cleanup will have to wait until it gets warmer.

The spring we had three weeks ago is now gone. Going to 8 degrees tonight, hopefully the fruit trees haven't budded too much and the farmers won't lose their fruit crop.

Full moon this weekend. Leaving next Thursday for San Francisco, cross country trip with my youngest son. It'll be fun. Said we could stop at Graceland and he responded with "What's that?" My brother noted we are the last generation who will have any interest in that chunk of Memphis history.

Busily clearing off my desk to take a week off. I have reached the point now where that is getting easier and easier to do.
Which means I should be writing more and more instead of less, which is exactly what I'm doing.

To wit: Birthday next Wednesday. Leaving on a jet plane Thursday, back home in a week. Kids want to get together Sunday to celebrate and then again after their brother is here as well. I suppose you really can't get too much family.

And the generations keep going.

And, after a total stream of consciousness rambling, I need to get out on the street and make some money.

Be it ever thus.

February 24, 2017 11am 50 degrees, raining. Now on our eighth day of record breaking temperatures. Birds are confused, trees are starting to bud, spring is trying to happen, yet it is only February.

Not even going to start on global warming. My Dad and other farmers his age used to tell about planting oats in February. Always thought those were just tales, but this week, the records we are breaking for high temps were mostly set in 1933 - the year with no winter. My Dad would have been 10 years old and so the sowing of oats is altogether possible. The frost is moving quickly to the surface hereabouts. Still, we are three weeks from spring.

Had one of those days, Tuesday, where everything went right. Ended the day with record sales for a single day, and a huge deposit into my bank account. Pretty much a month's work in one day. Yeah, yeah, I know, duplicate that a few times and I'd be in much better shape....

Small town living can be a challenge sometimes; other times it showcases the good residing here. Thirty years ago, when we moved here, I had to schedule garbage pickup from a local guy. Couple years later, my wife and I were attending a Chamber of Commerce get-together. Our small town Chamber was notoriously cliquish so we gravitated to another couple standing off to the side. Turns out it was my garbageman. After introductions and kid's ages, and small talk, he asked my daughter's name. I told him and he put his arm around me and said, "Your daughter is an amazing young woman. My son was going through some really bad times and she kept at him until he straightened up. She probably saved his life." Aside from feeling very proud, I didn't think much about it. I never got another quarterly garbage bill.
Years later, when his son took over the business, the son stopped one day and asked why he wasn't getting paid for picking up. I told him the story and he said, "Yeah, Dad was like that. You're just one of many."

Foggy here, in the rain, waiting on severe weather tonight and a return to February. Darn, I thought it was over.

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February 19, 2017

Mercy, False Spring

February 19, 2017 11am, 54 degrees, blue sky & sunshine. 66 yesterday, set a record. Stars were especially bright last night, Orion high in the southern sky.

Birds are confused, mating calls ring out from the trees, we aren't done with winter yet, though the forecast says otherwise. Fired up my chainsaw yesterday, pruning dead limbs off my apple tree, yes, I have a chainsaw. Cooked burgers on the grill. Not bad for the middle of February.

Been taking down my big bookshelf - a necessity due to new kitchen floor coming. Not sure how many books are on it, but dusting them off has been a trip down memory lane. Dr. Jim Hart, Oakland University, noted in many of them. Found a few old books with my Grandfather's name, both sides of the family, Uncle's class books, and two copies of the book that started me on this journey of writing. William Goldman's Boys and Girls Together. Found a copy at Uncle Bert's cabin on Little Bear Lake, I must have been 14 or so. The subject matter much different from Little House books and the Hardy Boys.

I found over a dozen Goldman books on my shelf. Hooked, pulled in, never the same again.

Off to my middle son's new home for a housewarming party, and to pick up Girl Scout cookies from my Granddaughter. Looks like a beautiful day for a drive.

February 16, 2017 5pm 30 degrees, blue sky with whispy white clouds. The forecast is for 50-60 degrees the next five days. Not your normal February weather, but then, with global warming, we didn't get an actual January Thaw, so whatever. It has been a decent winter so far, we'll take what we can get.

Interesting week - sales off the charts, absolutely no money coming in. Very odd. Not sure what to make of it, probably nothing, or at least nothing to worry about. Waiting for warmer weather to sell - something about the sunshine makes people happy and they are willing to buy my product - go figure, but take whatever advantage you can grab.

Four weeks from today, I'll be in San Francisco, enjoying dinner with my youngest son and packing the car for the long trip home. I'm probably more excited than he is. I get to see the country, end to end. We wanted to do that this past summer, but couldn't figure out how to get a reliable car for the trip, short of buying a new one, which I really don't want to do.

Went to see my Mom at the Home this morning. It gets harder and harder to do, she doesn't remember enough to have a decent conversation. She barely remembers who I am. And she tries so hard, you can see her thinking, trying to remember, trying to hold on to her memories, and it breaks my heart that she can't do it. Her nearly 94 years are full of so many great memories. Now, they are lost to us, and, worse, lost to her.

Life goes on.

February 12, 2017 10am 33 degrees,snow coming down, wind coming later, none of it is sticking and the ground is somewhat warm, no snow on the grass.

Thursday night, full moon, 20 degrees, fortified with a bit of red wine, stood naked in the moonlight and let the lunar rays deep into my soul.
The actual full moon was Friday night, there were thin clouds until midnight. I wandered out to the front yard, full moon glorious, and as I was about to go back inside and remove my clothes, I heard footsteps. A deer was walking across the yard north of my house, and then another. Looking across the road to the field, there were maybe 15 deer grazing in the moonlight. A rather amazing sight for which I looked up and thanked the moon.

The effects of these lunar adventures is getting harder to quantify. Yesterday, I put a Bob Seger album on my new record player (thanks, Kenny) From the live album, to Janis Joplin, and back to Seger, The album that came out while we were living in Houston, when it got to Boomtown Blues, I started crying. "you can't miss that freezing rain.." looking out the window, I thought, "yes you can."

Then, on to Neil Diamond's You Don't Bring Me Flowers, which is my divorce album, with the new system, it appears the vinyl is nearly worn through, lots of scratches and pops, every word and phrase bringing back memories and choking me up. Mind you, I've been married to my lovely wife for 38 years, so this is a long, long time ago. Having her to hold in the middle of my living room, with Free Man in Paris blaring, reminds me of how lucky I really am.

Halfway through Stephen King's End of Watch. Always a pleasure to spend time with Steve.

Five weeks from today, I'll be somewhere near the Grand Canyon riding back from San Francisco with my youngest son. An adventure awaits. Be it ever thus.

February 1, 2017 3pm 36 degrees, fluffy white clouds against an impossibly blue sky, inch of snow on the ground.

A couple of things. I had one of those Eureka moments yesterday. You have these in lessor amounts when you get older, but they still do happen occasionally.
I was sitting in a restaurant with an old friend, he's about the same age as I am. Two young boys - maybe eight years old or so, came over to our table and stood looking at him until he turned and said, "Can I help you?" The first boy stuck his hand out and said, "Thank you for your service." and then, the second boy did the same.
"They must have seen my hat." was his first comment.
Then, he said something profound, that I guess I never realized, even though it was common knowledge at the time. "In 1970, when I got back from Viet-Nam, I took off all my green, went back to work at the auto plant, and never mentioned I was in the service to anyone. It was like it never happened."
I asked why.
"Because if you advertised you were in the service, people would get angry, and mean, like it was your fault all those guys died. It was safer to just ignore it."

Now, as a committed anti-war demonstrator, and activist, I must admit I was never concerned about the guys who got drafted, never imagined what they had to endure when they came back. I know I wasn't angry or mean to them, I was nearly drafted, too. And I ran into a number who came back much differently than when they walked the halls of high school with me. But I don't recall blaming them and I don't recall anyone who did. But clearly it happened.

Fifty years on, and it still haunts us.

Everything else is going fine. I'm sure it really isn't going all that great, but, with my new frame of mind, and lunar waves of energy, stuff doesn't bother me much any more. One just rolls on.

Writers Circle tomorrow night, have new people coming, new things to learn, new insights to make.

My neighbor, Hubert, used to say, "you should be halfway through your woodpile by Groundhogs Day, that way you'll have enough to get you through the winter."

Woodpile still looks pretty good. So does everything else. Be it ever thus.

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

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

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

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

Ah, January in Michigan
originally posted: January 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is good.

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The Break Between Holidays
originally posted: December 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

Life is good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is good, sometimes even great, like now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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