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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.
October 25, 2018

A Cold Moon

October 25, 2018 10am 40 degrees, heavy frost, 22 this morning.

The Full Moon beckoned me out into a cold wind on Tuesday night. Very cold wind. But, I went anyway, soaking in the lunar rays, gaining strength. Last night, the moon came up bright and full in clear skies, no wind and 40 degrees or so. More lunar rays, and startling the three deer who were sleeping in the back yard, loud rustling and white tails bouncing towards the safety of the apple tree. And the glow of the moon did not disappoint. Woke this morning to the same moon lowering in the western sky, shining through my bedroom window. Ah, joy and happiness.

Everything is going so well right now, planning for our trip is underway, Eldest son getting laid off this week so he will be here to watch the house. (to those of us who worry about announcing we are leaving for three weeks).

Slowly filling in the blank spots on our itinerary, clearly having no idea what we are doing or where we are going. Should be fun.

Rolling along, trying to get everything done. I have a generation 1 Ipad - which means I won't be able to post anything while I'm on the road. You'all will have to wait til I get back to find out if the wife decided 40 years is long enough to put up with me.

Now, off to enjoy the benefits of yet another month of lunar magic.
Life is good, sometimes great, like it is now.

October 22, 2018 10 am 42 degrees, heavy frost, clear blue sky, full moon coming this week, going to be chilly out there.

This past weekend, the entire family out of state at the same time. (excluding oldest son who wandered in from the other side of the state). Amazing the way everyone travels about so much. The youngest is actually going to go into his office for the first time in a year. He lives in Auburn Heights, Michigan. His office is in Menlo Park in Silicon Valley California. Ah, the weird way the world works these days.

Ten days from taking off on our trip. Trying to find things the wife might be interested in, she isn't giving me much to work with. I have included a stop at Rocky Ridge - the home where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books. I loved those books when I was young. They were foremost in my journey into reading. Especially Farmer Boy. And, Yeah, I know Mrs. Wilder was not politically correct in her later years. So much so that the City of Detroit tried (and maybe succeeded) in taking her name off a branch library. (quick shift to Google to see if saner heads prevailed - and, yes, the Wilder Branch has been recently remodeled and is thriving.)

Now, the fun task of pre-paying all my bills for next month - since I won't be here when they come in. This presents a learning curve. I'm not used to paying stuff ahead of time. Have never had enough funds to do so. Interesting.

Looking forward to the Full Moon this week. I can feel the magic rising. Still don't understand it, but I'm seizing the moment, enjoying the power, running with this wonderful, exciting phase in my life.

Be it ever thus.

October 18, 2018 10am 32 degrees, woke this morning to 23 degrees, frost everywhere, clear blue Michigan Skies. Way too early in the season for this.

Had a great time with our youngest son, had a big fire, ran the chainsaw both Saturday and Sunday. Cleared up a lot of what I needed cleaned. He wants me to go to Paris with him for my birthday in March. I am ready. Wife is still deciding if she wants to tag along.

Getting lots done in anticipation of big trip with wife. So many details need to be attended to. Did manage to get my 2002 Pontiac Aztek out of the back yard. I hope the guys got it to where they were going. I would not have tried that journey late on a Wednesday night.

Now, we wait on Indian Summer. I have faith it is coming....

October 13, 2018 10am 42 degrees, clear blue Michigan Skies, the early leaves are gone, swept away by a cold front, Tuesday I was sitting on the front porch with 80 degree weather, enjoying the gold light of a late afternoon sun through the yellow leaves of my front yard maple. By Thursday, all the leaves are on the ground, limbs bare, and furnace running to catch up with the 40 degree drop in temperature.

Enjoyed our 15th Annual Wine Tasting Trip to Traverse City, beautiful sunsets across Lake Leeleaneau, fun with our close friends, a long weekend, but a good one. Now, comes the planning for my wife and my anniversary trip. Planning a 3000 mile trek across America. Just wandering around looking at stuff, people watching, selecting weird and odd places to meander. Still not sure how my wife's ideas and my ideas are going to mesh. After 40 years, one would assume we are on the same page, but I don't anticipate that outcome. It'll be fun.
If nothing else, it will be a trial run at what our retirement might be. If it turns out badly, we can always get a divorce and start over again....

Off to the great outdoors to run the chainsaw, get enough wood to start a fire, Youngest child coming today - his schedule indicates this will be the last time we will see him until his birthday in December. So a turkey is in the oven, he will be in Europe for Thanksgiving. Amazing the lives we have fashioned. I have limbs down that I see every morning from my recliner and from the front porch. Time to clean them up. The sun is beautiful, sunshine mixed with the golden leaves, a little green holding out hope summer has not forsaken us, the thermometer dashing that hope.

Life is good.

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September 26, 2018

Autumn with Changing Leaves

September 26, 2018 10am 59 degrees. Cloudy day, chilly breeze. Had thunderstorms all around us last night, except we got nothing. Not even a good Boomer.

Full Moon was Monday. Since the weather forecast was for rain and clouds - which happened - I went out into the clear evening Sunday Night. Was a bit chilly, but managed to soak up Lunar Magic for another month. Last night, amidst the swirling clouds, the full moon came out again. Ah, Magic.

Had a huge flock of Canadian Geese in the field across the way, maybe 70 or 80. They were just resting on their trip south. Walking down to the mail box caused them to move slowly away from me, just walking a little bit to give themselves some space.

Various things happening. Wife's birthday celebration took all last weekend. Neighbor kid swerved to miss a deer and wrapped his car around a tree. We are still processing his loss and I feel so bad for his parents.

Leaves are turning faster now. The deep greens are giving way to lighter green and touches of yellow. All in all, a good start to autumn. Do miss the early sunrise, getting up in the dark just feels wrong.

Off to get much done today, go see Mom, check in with my Brother, pick up some money ahead of the start of bow deer hunting (the owner processes deer - it's his busy time of year). Check a couple restaurants to see if they have enough placemats to get through the end of next week as I'll be on our Annual Wine Tasting and Wife Swapping Weekend.

September 16, 2018 11am 77 degrees. Clear Blue Michigan Sky. Foggy this morning when the turkeys came out. Wandered into the backyard last night at twilight and spooked a deer eating the tasty Macintosh apples under my tree.

Neighbor's dog has left. After lightly complaining, it was determined the dog belonged to a friend of the teenage granddaughter. He was annoying everyone, so resolution was quick.

Quiet in the neighborhood today. No sound of mowers, chainsaws or other stuff. Could be that it's quickly getting warm out there.

Autumn equinox this coming weekend, which will mark two and a quarter years since I began this journey. And, amazingly, it continues unabated. Life is simply fantastic. Things are going so well, I may have to make an appointment with a tax expert to figure out how much of my fortune needs to be shared with the government. That hasn't happened in a long time.

Leaves are turning ever so slowly in the trees lining the river across the way. They are always the first to change and I'm not ready. When you live in Michigan, you are never ready for the arrival of fall. Bundles of insulation are in the attic - where they've been for a couple years now. They have much less heat saving properties when they haven't been spread out. Bought a cart for my new lawn tractor, but haven't used it yet. Should be thinking about getting in the first load of propane. Won't be long until I clean the boiler and get it ready.

And, still, life is good. Cleaned the office yesterday, tripping down memory lane. Found an old photo. Sitting at my typewriter in my office in Houston, Texas. I was maybe thirty years old. Can't remember ever looking that young...

Life continues on. Mom is making a remarkable recovery from what we thought might be the end. We are coming up on two years since we moved her to the Home. Many residents have come and gone since then, but Mom just keeps on going.

Deep into philosophical thought. What is causing this great fortune? What can I do to keep it going? What does it all mean? If anything? Perhaps, the best course of action is to simply enjoy, ride it for however long the powers that be let me. Seems like a great plan, even though I would really like to know the answers.

Be it ever thus.

September 13, 2018 11am 69 degrees. Overcast this morning, heavy fog, but warming up after an extremely cold weekend.

Neighbors have a dog - not sure where he came from, but he doesn't like being here. Two nights in a row, barking into the wee hours. Waking me up at 5am starting off the new day. They should just kill it.

Youngest son came over the weekend. We listened to coyotes howling in the distance.

Other than that, life is good. Trying to get some writing done - it is becoming clearer that I need a new project to get the juices flowing. To the point that I may approach our local paper with a column idea, anything that will force me sit down and write. I did that for ten years with a bigger paper and I really enjoyed it - as well as making myself productive.

Annual physical yesterday. Doc says to keep doing whatever it is I'm doing. No pills, no problems. Good for another twenty years or so....

Off to see Mom. Maybe deliver some placemats. Go to the bank. Try to accomplish something.

September 6, 2018 3pm 72 degrees, Finally, a break in the weather. Though it is not in my nature to complain about warm weather, it has been ninety plus the past few days. Humid, Hot, not conducive to yard work or anything beyond sitting in front of a fan.

Flock of wild turkeys meandering through the hay field across the road. "They DO move in herds." Yeah, had to get my movie quote in - my kids are a lot better at that than I am, but, every once in a while, I get one.

Have a comment up on LitPark Susan, gracious as ever.

All of this, and I'm still not getting a lot of writing done. Started off this week with good intentions, but it just isn't happening. Apparently, my lifetime of not just doing it, not sitting down and studying, has come back to haunt me. I could be a decent golfer - if I practiced. I could have been a great sax player - if I practiced. Any number of things that I somehow figured I didn't need to put the long hours into, the hard part. Had enough natural talent to get by - sometimes nicely. All that intense hard work seemed dumb.
The only thing I've really put the long hours and hard work into is writing. That, I've actually done. and, now, with the skills firmly in hand, I find it nearly impossible to sit down in the chair and write for two hours every day. Phone calls, Mahjong, getting lost on the Internet, following whatever insanity is coming out of our nation's Capitol. Anything but writing.

This will change. Hopefully, the cold front that came crashing through here last night has swept the impossibility from my keyboard.

August 29, 2018 10am 71 degrees, cloudy, rain in the forecast, had some boomers last night, little rain.

Woke this morning before dawn, seems first light is getting later and later every morning. Was privileged to witness a spectacular pink/red glow behind last night's rain clouds. A glorious way to start the day.
Road trip last weekend to Allentown, Pennsylvania. My favorite cousin's 50th Wedding Anniversary. All my brothers (and wives) came and there were hours and hours of family time, reminiscing, genealogy, catching up, hadn't seen one of my brothers in a year, so all good. And, we got to see Winterbrook, my cousin's horse farm and finally put real pictures to her letters. It was not what I had conjured up from her descriptions. Living in a house built in 1798 certainly presents some challenges, not sure, at my age, I would want to take that on.
It is a really long way from my house in Michigan to Allentown. A Really Long Way. Coming home, we split up the trip with a stop in Corning, New York. My wife got to see the Corelle Museum. She was not amused at the idea of driving a thousand miles to look at stuff she has in the cupboard at home. After that, we drove straight through, worn out from the family time and long weekend. Can't believe I drove right past Niagara Falls and didn't stop.

Standing in a parking lot in Corning, New York, watching the full moon rising above the freeway, and wondering if the wife would bail me out of jail if I wandered out behind the trucks and took off all my clothes. Ah, better wait until Sunday. Sunday night was cloudy here, no moonlight. Monday night, cloudy early, but by 10 pm, the moon rose majestically in the East. Temperature of 78 degrees, dew on the grass, and I spent 20 minutes or so getting my lunar luck recharged in the back yard. It was wonderful. Now, rewired for another month. Interestingly enough, I found myself with absolutely nothing to do yesterday afternoon and all day today. So, taking this as a sign I should be writing, that's where I find myself. All the forces in the universe will conspire to help you achieve your dreams.

Life is good. Sometimes, even great. Like now. Like it has been for the past two years. Go figure.

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August 17, 2018

Festival Time

August 17, 2018 7am 70 degrees, cloudy, no sunrise, rain in the forecast.

Up early this morning, warm last night, woke up wringing with sweat. RIP, Aretha Franklin.
Been busy finishing up my summer festival placemats. Going off this morning to deliver across the County - that is, as soon as they are printed. Then, a surprise birthday party, tomorrow the lawns and then a wedding in the evening. Trying to get everything in line to head to Pennsylvania on Thursday.

Local festival starts today. 100,000 people, free entertainment for three days, what could possibly go wrong? I used to partake but with the kids grown, not having to cart them, or watch them march in the parade, don't have much reason to wander down there. I will, of course, go long enough to get my egg roll from the Grace Episcopal Church group. They had a Chinese pastor for years and an ancient recipe which he used to raise money for the church. They make and sell upwards of 25000. They are every bit as good as New York's Chinatown.

I find myself easing into a new phase. Not sure yet, which direction it is going to take, but things are changing. I can feel it deep in my bones. Still ten days from the next full moon, I shouldn't be having this stirring in my soul. This is going to be exciting. Never know what the next hour, day, week, is going to bring.

Life is good.

August 14, 2018 12pm 81 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky.

I don't have the patience for meteor showers. Something about laying out in the dark looking at the sky, which is basically doing nothing but being sky. Oh, well.

Doe and Fawn in back yard. They are living under my apple tree. Fawn is getting big quickly.
Have a bunch of hummingbirds fighting over the food, chasing each other and making odd noises while doing so. The Baltimore orioles have returned with their youngsters. They, too, are an amazingly loud bird. They croak loudly when I put out more jelly.
Have a murder of crows wandering the hay field across the way, second cutting of alfalfa was baled up last night, so easy picking for the birds.

This morning, a bright red sun above the trees to the east, mist surrounding the giant bales of hay in the field.

Life is good, here along the river. Have gotten just enough rain to bring the lawn back, a new mower to keep it neat, all in all, a good end to summer.

August 6, 2018 9am 78 degrees, cloudy, rain coming.

So, Saturday's attempt at mowing the lawn. After ten minutes holding the starter key, my riding lawnmower finally started. Backing it out of its spot in my shed, I discovered the steering wasn't working. Some unskillful maneuvering around the yard - it would only turn to the right- got me to the garage. Didn't take much to figure out mowing was going to be an adventure - one I wasn't up to.

Researched online for replacement, found a Craftsman for $1100. Off to my local Sears Factory Outlet to buy a new mower. Once there, I was warned by the staff not to purchase the latest iteration of what used to be a great brand name. They showed me three slightly used mowers that had been returned shortly after purchase. "they are junk" "You won't be happy and you'll blame us." This quickly became a rare and bizarre retail experience.

I perched on an orange Husqvarna roughly the same as my old mower. A young kid - who wasn't an employee but hanging out with the manager - asked what I was looking for. I said, "I have a 20 year old mower with three flat tires, a bad solenoid, the hood dropped off, and the steering doesn't work. I want something that will last me 20 years."

The kid looks confused.

I said, "Yeah, it has to last 20 years, I"ll be 87 and ready to give up mowing by then."

He said, "I was going to ask how old you were. And why you would need one to last that long."

"I'll take it. Free delivery?"

Same kid says, "I'll deliver it for $35. Right now."


As they were doing the paperwork, I got a chill and shivered. "Are you cold?"

"No, acid flashback."

"Did you just say that was an acid flashback?"

"Yeah, I was a hippy. Happens all the time."

By now, the three twenty somethings running the store are very unsure what to think of me. An hour later, I'm mowing the lawn and they probably still aren't sure.

Sometimes, I feel this is the weird part of getting old. I still think of myself as a young man. But, by appearances alone, no one else would think that. Interactions become interesting. Though, I am pretty sure the hippy line didn't help...

Last night, on the newly mowed grass, a fawn wandered out from the apple tree and laid down less than 20 feet from my window. Her mother watched from under the tree. The two wandered the yard for a couple hours after that.

To work, couple of busy weeks, then vacation mode.

Life is good. Some days, even great.

August 3, 2018 11am 77 degrees, cloudy skies but bright

Basked in the moonlight for four straight nights, with Mars gleaming red close by. Powered up for another month. Good stuff happening.
Writers Circle last night, good group, everyone had new stuff written, gelling as a support and encouragement cabal. Great to see and be a part of.

The lawn had not grown enough last weekend to mow. I think this is the first time being a homeowner that I've gone the whole month of July without mowing the stupid lawn. I'll take it, just odd.

Quiet weekend ahead with kids out of town, wife working Sunday afternoon, nothing much else going on. I will be mowing the lawn this weekend.

Time seems to move faster the older you get. Granddaughter turned 8 yesterday. Wait, that can't be right. Turn around and life has passed by.

Bridge fixed. Traffic has now resumed to its insane level. Still working on that - may involve explosives.

Off to work, busy couple weeks coming up, then sliding ever so quickly into vacation/party/wine/etc. mode.

July 27, 2018 8am 64 degrees, clear blue Michigan Sky

Out the past two nights soaking up the lunar rays. Glorious Full Moon with Mars bright and red just to the lower left. Great stuff.
With the road still closed, I could simply walk out the front door and enjoy the moonlight. No traffic, which I'm really going to miss when they open the road today. My life has gotten to the point where I am beginning to believe that anything is possible. Even if I try not to do anything, the phone will ring, checks will arrive in the mail, everyone is happy and healthy and looking forward to the future. And, yeah, I do know these things don't last forever, but I'm going on over two years now. My finances have been rearranged for maximum return. Bills are paid, bank accounts are fattening. My massage therapist complains I'm not giving her anything to fix. And my brain is overwhelmed at plot lines, asides, red herrings, and other fun stuff making their way into my WIP.

On top of this, plans are gelling to go to Pennsylvania at the end of next month, with a couple stops in Buffalo to see Frank Lloyd Wright house on the way home, as well as Niagara Falls and cutting across Canada. Passports arrived yesterday, so we are good to go. Then our Annual Wine Tasting trip to the Traverse City area the first of October, and then Arizona for more Frank Lloyd Wright in November.

Mom has rallied and the Hospice Nurse is pleased, though they may have to take her back off Hospice at some point. Even at 95, I can imagine her still being around a year from now.

Off to my home town this morning to deliver placemats, not sure how much more I'm going to do today. Getting the lawn mower back up and running should be in the mix. The lawn is dead, except for odd weeds sticking up and making it look messy. Tidying it up will likely take most of the weekend. Weather looks good, highs in the 70's and no rain. Just a spectacular way to end the month. Be it ever thus.

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July 25, 2018

Michigan Summer

July 25, 2018 1pm 81 degrees, puffy clouds,
The lawn is not recovering. Grass is playing dead, not sure if that means it is gone for good or just playing possum.

Out last night in the moonlight, getting closer to a full moon - supposed to be Friday, weather does not look as if it is going to cooperate. At the same time, I could feel the lunar light penetrating my soul, waiting for the full on full moon.

The workers on my bridge have been off the last couple days due to rain, I can hear them out there now, so they must have decided to try to finish by the weekend.

Off to work now, such fun.

July 22, 2018 5pm 63 degrees, been raining off and on since yesterday, much needed rain, as of this morning, I had 1.5 inches. The lawn is going to go crazy. But the moisture is really needed for the crops. It may even be too late to save the second cutting of alfalfa. Should be good for the corn and soybeans, though.

Got a comment on my last entry, which sent me to my local library to get a copy of The Alchemist. Now, to see if I can put that simple philosophy to work in regard to my writing. All the universe conspires to help you achieve your desire. Perhaps that would explain why I have extra hours in my day - like I'm supposed to use that to actually write?? There's a frigging concept. I hadn't stopped to figure out what all that extra time was for. Maybe I've got an answer now.
Something I am going to take advantage of.

Yeah, Yeah, simple productivity. Sometimes I can be so dense. Thanks for the note, Jay.

July 19, 2018 8am 61 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky. Supposed to be a rainy weekend, we need all the help we can get.

Thirty years ago this date, a restaurant opened in Lapeer. My daughter was one of the waitresses, newly graduated from high school. I did the first menus and got to know the young owner fairly well. After they had been opened a couple years, the owner came to me and asked me to do placemats for the store. Something to go on the tables so customers had something fresh and clean to put their plates on. I really really did not want to do this. It involved a whole new set of sales skills that I wanted no part of. But the owner was persistent and I reluctantly gave in.
Since then, I have delivered 9 million placemats to that one restaurant. And I've made a pretty good living doing it. Sometimes, opportunities appear when you least expect it, or don't want it, but those are the ones you can build a future on. Never turn a blind eye to everything. One of the hardest things I've learned in all these many years, is to simply pay attention to those little nudges from the universe.
The New Age people say there are no coincidences. On one level, I really have trouble with such a notion. We are individuals and our fate is what we make it. But, on a spiritual level, maybe that's not the case at all. Not sure what or how it works, but there is magic in the lunar rays I soak my body in each month. There is more going on in other dimensions than we know about.
Thirty years of serving up home cooking, my daughter worked there until she went off to college and then my wife took her spot and has been there, more or less, ever since. I've put quite a few tons of paper on the tables.
It is all good.

The workers on my bridge started at 7:30 this morning, don't know what the hell it is they are banging on out there, but going back to sleep is not on the agenda. Last night, it was so quiet with no traffic. Going to be hard to go back to the noise.

July 17, 2018 11am 76 degrees, blue Michigan skies with fluffy white clouds, humidity low. Everyone around us got rain yesterday, some places south of here as much as 3 inches, Stayed dry, and I was about to complain "not a drop", about 11 last night, it started to rain. Got 0.3 inches, not much, and certainly not enough, but it should green the yard up nicely. Next chance of rain is Saturday.

So, they have been planning to close my road for the past month. They are repairing the bridge on the corner of my property. This morning they closed the bridge. This means I, and my wife, have to drive around. Adds about five miles on the trip to town. It will be closed for two weeks. When they pulled the signs out across the road, a few cars kept trying, then turned around. Otherwise it was nice and quiet. That lasted until they started with the jackhammers. They are out there just having a ball making noise. Can hardly hear myself think.

Ah, but tonight, when the workers go home, there will be no traffic past my house. I really do like this idea. We have way too much traffic. I'm trying to coordinate my new route into new places to stop and sell ads. Much fun.

Ah, summertime.

July 16, 2018 10am 83 degrees, hazy skies, supposed to get rain with a cold front this afternoon, not holding out much hope, it hasn't rained here all month and it is now the 16th. Lawn is nearly dead, county wide burn ban in effect.

Off to try and catch up from what I didn't get done last Thursday and Friday. Have a deadline for Wednesday noon that I have to meet. Even so, folks are still buying and a couple paid me by credit card over the weekend, so money still coming in even when I spend all my time watching little yellow balls bouncing on green grass.

Drove 65 miles to a graduation open house yesterday, it was very hot. Nice open house, got to see some of my daughter's childhood friends, and daughter as well as my two granddaughters. But it was still very hot.
Saw a combine in the field, harvesting wheat. That brought back a lot of memories. My Dad had one of those combines, the first in the area, and we would drive down country roads and harvest our neighbor's wheat and oats and barley. Enough so that it paid for the combine. Seeing one moving through a wheat field brings back hot summer days, Mom's iced tea, and hurrying to get the field done with a wary eye to the clouds growing in the west.

Off now to catch up. Pray for rain.

July 14, 2018 1pm 80 degrees, cloudy all morning, thunder expected later. Email keeps blowing up with someone trying to buy a placemat ad...

So, Thursday, after my morning massage, spent the rest of the day with Mom and various family members. Friday, I was going off the make sales calls when my youngest son called to let me know the $4000 he spent on lasik didn't work. Not happy, but also not much he can do about it now. Then, I made the mistake of getting involved in the tennis match at Wimbledon. OMG. The match didn't get over with until 4, and then the next match started immediately. A totally wasted afternoon - well, if you discount the fact that the tennis was amazing. Productivity wise, it was a wasted afternoon. For sports fans, especially tennis fans, it was so very cool.
Had a large doe wander through the backyard about ten this morning. Bright fawn color, beautiful animal, about thirty feet from my perch on the couch.
Field trip tomorrow - going to New Haven. When I was in high school, through some inexplicable clustering of sports teams, we were in the same league as New Haven - which was a much bigger school than ours. And the epic school bus trips on the fan bus took two hours, with the cheerleaders leading us in song - the songs popular in 1967. We would sing Last Kiss, Leader of the Pack, and other girl group songs. And hopefully, you would be with someone you could make out with when the bus grew quiet. On long trips, the cheerleaders ran out of songs....
Busy couple weeks coming up. Lots of things happening.
Still holding out for some rain. Can't mow the lawn as it is completely dead and running the mower over it would kill what chance it has of recovering should we ever see rain again.

Life is good. Feeling good about the world today. Be it ever thus.

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July 12, 2018

Summertime Redux

July 12, 2018 8am 58 degrees, hazy blue skies. Very dry, no rain, lawn crunches like corn flakes, watering flowers every other night.

In the grand scheme of things, life continues apace. Mom has rallied a bit, sitting a bit straighter, eating better, smiling a bit more.

Wife and I applied for passports. This more to take advantage next time my youngest son sends me a link to a super cheap airline ticket to Europe. Last one was $396 roundtrip Detroit to Paris. Really hard to pass that up - albeit it was for December and it is very cold there to be out walking around. We're going to try again for March... Oddly, my wife has expressed no interest in going.

Business goes well, bills are paid, warm weather makes it hard to do much, just a typical Michigan summertime. And it doesn't get much better than this. Life is good.

Off to get a massage, take my money to the bank, and then go see Mom.

July 8, 2018 1pm 80 degrees, clear Blue Michigan Sky - glorious weather.

following is from a response to Susan Henderson's LitPark question of the month:

About the only stress around here is my Mother, who at 95, is ready to get on with her next great adventure. Her body is slowly shutting down, the folks at the Home are on top of it, Hospice is keeping a close eye on her. And I’m not really stressed about it. It is time. Dad went 19 years ago and it has been a lonely existence for her with the love of her life gone.
In high school, my Mom’s best friend grew up on a fox farm, raising fox for those fabulous coats popular in the ’20’s. When Mom started having some issues, a red fox appeared in my backyard. First time I’ve seen one in the 33 years I’ve lived here. So at sunset, we watch the fox, and her three kits, rollicking on the grass. Kinda makes one wonder if her friend is calling her home. I like to think so. And that knowledge eases my fear of losing her, or missing her sense of humor, and, instead, relishing the childhood she gave me, the sacrifices she made so I could blossom and grow.

Life is good.

June 29, 2018 10am 80 degrees, Clear Blue Michigan sky, Hot Hot Hot, going to 92 today, 95 tomorrow, very warm weekend and next week as well.

The Fox in the backyard brought out her three kits to play. That was fun. My wife and I watched them for half an hour, tumbling around, play chasing each other, being kids. Doe still living in backyard, now have added baby bunnies, and a groundhog I have named Bunky.

Some disquieting news. Mom, who just turned 95, is starting to decline, suffering TIA's or mini-strokes. Her speech is slurred and it is difficult for her to stand up straight or even walk. I have taken the fox in the backyard to be a sign. Mom's best friend from high school raised foxes and, later, mink. I think her friends are calling Mom home. Life passages.

Out last night in the light of the full moon. And warm enough to actually enjoy it, feeling the lunar energy soak into my skin and into my soul.

Just finishing up my best month so far this year, July looks even better. Things are happening, flowers are blooming, Life is good.

June 21, 2018 8am 61 degrees. Blue Michigan Sky, sunrise the earliest it will be this year.

Mid-Summers Day. Have a doe living in my backyard. Bunnies under the bush by the road. Two raccoons who insist the grape jelly for the orioles is for them. Had a red fox cross the backyard last night, tail straight out, flash of color. First time in thirty years, I've seen one in my yard.

Family this weekend. A great-niece graduating high school open house. Little brother from Kentucky coming in. All my kids will be around.

The magic continues. Bills are paid, savings account fattening, a whole different world than before. One, I might add, I enjoy much more.

That said, the blips that happen now generally don't affect me like they used to. I simply don't get upset - usually. I'm a fairly easy going guy to begin with. Take away the stress of paying bills and getting things done and I'm really quite mellow. Now, because I'm easy going, doesn't mean I don't get upset when someone straight out lies to my face. Had that happen this week and I had trouble dealing with it. I was livid. And, as you can tell, I'm still miffed. Used to be when these things happened, I would smile to myself and say, "That's fine. I'll outlive you." I hesitate to say that these days, as I had a 40 year old guy drop dead of a heart attack two days after I told him that.

Anyway. Blips are to be expected. Stuff happens. This one caught me off guard and I didn't handle it as well as I could have.

Back to the adventure at hand. Full moon next week, weather looks good for backyard moon bathing. Can't wait for the new burst of energy that comes with it.

June 14, 2018 7am, 58 degrees. Clear Blue Michigan Sky, Glorious Sunrise, Summer.

Just a week away from the two year anniversary of my new life. 24 months, 26 full moons, and I wake each morning wondering what new adventure will happen today.

I have long stopped trying to make sense of this. Does it work because I'm so positive and upbeat all the time? Or is there some cosmic force I'm still oblivious to, pulling the strings?

Whatever it is, it has filtered down to my four children (and the one in Texas who never writes) and their journey through life. They are all prospering, healthy, happy. Something rather unique for a Dad with Father's Day coming up.

Sitting on the front porch watching the sun come up, three sets of Baltimore Orioles flying into the feeder (on my fifth jar of grape jelly), two sets of Pine Warblers, a crow atop my big pine tree, a doe in the field across the road. My Dad used to love mornings like this, where the whole point is to sit quietly, take it all in, and contemplate our spot in the universe.

I still have naysayers who say enjoy it while you can, it won't last. At this point, I'm not so sure it will end. Two years - who's to say it won't be three or ten or twenty?

It is magic. Magic that builds on the positive vibes, each day better than the last, a rosy future, a wonderful life filled with love, prosperity, and the wonder of a flash of orange streaking across the yard.

I am in awe.

June 11, 2018 11am 69 degrees. Summer is trying to make an appearance. That said, it was 37 degrees here a couple mornings ago. Now, a stretch of 80 degree days and sunshine.

Celebrated Mom's 95th Birthday last Tuesday. Good party.

Don't usually pay much attention to the Tony Awards, but there wasn't much on tv last night. What a wonderful surprise.

Kinda falls under the OMG label. I gifted the book on which the play is based to my middle son last Christmas. Guess I need to read it. You can't watch that and not be moved.

Off to make a little bit of money this morning.

Be it ever thus.

June 2, 2018 9am 49 degrees. This cool dry air coming after a sweltering weekend in the 90's, with lows of 70 or so. Not all of us who live in the Northern Climes have invested in air conditioning. I inquired years ago when I replaced the boiler. The guy asked, "Where is the duct work?" - I have hot water heat. - "What are the walls made of?" - Cement blocks. "You can't afford Air Conditioning."
Since then, they have come up with a really slick system for retrofitting older homes, but since I really only need it a couple weeks a year, I haven't pursued it.
Somewhere in my thick rejection folder - which the advent of email rejections has rendered obsolete - there is a very nice rejection letter from Elaine Markson. A very nice lady. RIP. Also noted in her obit from the NYT, her husband and many colleagues frequented The Lion's Den in Greenwich Village. Third time this year that name has popped up, but, alas, it, too, has passed into folklore.
My Grandfather always said the one drawback to growing old is all your friends die. Many of my friends are gone, now I'm losing old clients and colleagues. And it appears, prospective agents as well. This is probably not a good omen. I had a younger agent once tell me that I was unqualified to write about the 1960's - I needed to do more historical research. Clearly, the fact that I lived it, Vietnam and the draft, and the anti war demonstrations in Washington. And somewhere there is PBS footage of me leading a demonstration on the Capitol Steps. All that is ancient history to someone born in the 80's or 90's. This will become even harder when trying to sell a novel where cell phones and fitbits are not part of the story line.
Still, life is good in my little part of the world. All my kids are thriving - this week finding them all out of state, doing their thing, living their lives, creating memories. My wife and I puttering along in our 39th year together. My Mother celebrates her 95th birthday this coming week. All things good.
Be it ever so.

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Summer Makes An Appearance
originally posted: May 23, 2018

May 23, 2018 Noon, 71 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies. After a rainy and cold weekend, finally able to turn the furnace off this morning - actually had to use it this week, temp dropped to 38.

RIP - Phillip Roth. There was something about his books that didn't connect with me. Wasn't able to finish many of them... But that's just me - too bad he didn't get the Nobel Prize.

Orioles are chattering away, loudly, at the feeder. A flash of bright orange across the yard - very cool. Hummingbirds are back as well.

Pushing to get yard work all caught up this weekend. And that's saying a lot. Other projects need to be worked on - the wine cork ceiling in the entryway. Got it repainted last weekend. Now to figure out how to configure a couple thousand wine corks.

Life is good.

May 10, 2018 9am 61 degrees, cloudy yucky looking day out there, have had a string of beautiful days, near 80, sunshine, clear skies at night, Orion high in the Western Sky. Venus gleaming love and sex and spring fever above the horizon.

A glorious Full Moon 12 days ago, soaked up the lunar magic for another month. Now at 23 straight and life continues to get better and better.

Grass is growing way too fast. Haven't even thought about getting the mower out, stuff is greening up quickly, quince bush showing the start of red buds, the Baltimore Orioles are back for another season. At least one pair are enjoying the grape jelly I set out for them. Dogwood tree getting ready to bloom.

Managed to get a few pages added to the WIP. It is slowly coming along. Have decided, based on feedback from my Writers Group, to throw the outline away and keep pushing the characters forward at a dizzying pace. When I get to beta readers, my main question will be "At what spot did you stop reading to go to bed?"
The object, of course, is hoping for "I couldn't stop, had to finish it...."

So far, that concept is working. And, if Dan Brown is any indicator (and I'm not sure that he is), this is how you write a bestseller.

Life is good.

April 27, 2018 11am 57 degrees, spring is really trying to break through - 40's for highs over the weekend, then straight to 75, good grief. Picked some daffodils yesterday, grass is getting greener, trees are budding out, light green on the willows, red buds on the maples.

Sunday is the next full moon. Been outside late at night soaking in the moon rays - getting stronger every night. Looking forward to a good long exposure Sunday evening - skies are supposed to be clear, but the temps are going to be cold. - i e 32.

Got most of my work done by Wednesday this week, nothing much happening the past two days. Really don't have anything to do, so I figured out how to connect my cell phone to the car, set a whole bunch of radio stations - I get a year of Sirius XM free.

Birds are chirping like crazy this morning, apparently they have gotten a little behind in courting due to the weather. Making up for lost time...

Life is good. Hopefully I'll be able to get outside and start on my spring projects. There are limbs down everywhere that need the loving touch of my chainsaw - not to mention the woodpile is nearly gone.

Off to celebrate my daughter's birthday tomorrow - and watch my granddaughter play soccer. Ah, fun.

Finally got around to reading The Shack last weekend. My wife kept asking me how it was and I kept replying, "weird". Time not well spent.

April 21, 2018 2pm 56 degrees, cloudy but getting warmer. Had to do surgery to the outside of the house today, some starlings - nasty birds they are - found a small spot at the edge of my soffit where they could get inside to build a nest. Watching them from the kitchen table flying up under the eaves with sticks is not a good way to start a Saturday morning.

All things great and wonderful. Bought a new car, we've had it a week. Suburu Forrester with all kinds of bells and whistles - I haven't even figured out half of them yet. Still working on it, day at a time.

Oldest son starts back to summer work on Monday, going to southern Ohio for two weeks. As bored as he was for the winter, I don't think he is ready to go back at it.

Trying to get up the energy to go outside and do something, anything. This is the first warm stretch we've had in six months. Surely there are lots of projects to delve into, just can't summon the will.

Everything else is going great. Life is good. Sky clear at night, crescent moon in the west, perhaps a good omen after a long, long winter.

Onward and Upward.

April 9, 2018 9am, 32 degrees, snow flurries
Rolling along into the month, extremely cold temps for this time of year, my daffodils are screaming for relief, the propane tank continues to lessen, my winter coat is getting too much wear and tear.

On the other hand, life is good, still good, still getting better. Off today to look at (gasp) foreign cars. In this area of Michigan, where so many family fortunes are tied to the auto plants in Flint, Pontiac, and Detroit, it is anathema to purchase a foreign car. There are still a few of my customers where I will be unwelcomed. Not as many as in years past, and there has been some softening since GM declared bankruptcy in the last recession and their stock went to zero. Still, my Dad's pension keeps Mom in a nicer old folk's home than most. My brother's pension funds his third decade of retirement. There might be consequences to my leaving the fold of American auto companies.

Work on my WIP this past week. Things are happening, the tipping point towards diving deep and finishing is getting closer and closer.

Onto a new adventure. It has been 16 years since I shopped for a new car. Life is good.

March 30, 2018 40 degrees, clearing skies.

Tomorrow Morning is the second Blue Moon of the year, the second full moon this month, the Easter Moon. Very auspicious omens. And the sky is clearing which means I get to soak in the lunar rays and energize for the next month.

March was a record month all around for me, my business, and my family. Go figure. I have no idea how this works, or why, but it doesn't matter. Things are going along so well, I find it hard to believe myself.

Getting a new mortgage on the house Monday, much lower interest rate, have started looking for a new vehicle, as my fleet is slowly decaying. ( the newest car I have is a 2002 model ) It is time.

Right now, my whole life is magical. The sun is shining, expecting the moon to rise early, set for 7:08 pm, two hours before sunset, the snow is finally gone from the yard - though I did spot some while out running around today, deep in the ditches where the sun can't reach. The 40 degrees just isn't enough to melt it away. April will be here soon, the daffodils are trying to grow, the temp inches up every day - though certainly not as fast as I would like.

So - to recap - 21 months of solid growth for my business, 21 months of good health, great things happening for my family as well, 21 months of watching little signs, - I still don't catch all of them, but many, many more than I did before. and 21 months of magic - the best time of my life.
Truly blessed.

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The Flicker of Old Dreams
originally posted: March 19, 2018

March 19, 2018 10 am, 32 degrees, still patches of snow on the ground, not going to get warm enough to thaw this week, some spring...

Saturday, my copy of The Flicker of Old Dreams arrived in my mailbox. Susan Henderson whom I've been blogging with for 15 years or so now, has written a spectacular book. It is really good, and keeps you wondering how she is going to resolve seemingly intractable hearts, feelings, and lives.

Having grown up in a small dying town, much like Petroleum in her story, I know the broken dreams and lost hopes of her characters. Her prose takes this to a whole new level, however; capturing the loss and the lost.

Of course, I was delighted when I managed to get a whole paragraph concerning place mats. My day job is The Placemat Guy (not certain I was on her mind when she added that in, but I'll take the coincidence)

Whenever an author creates a main character, the goal of the writer is to make her actions logical - reasonable. Mary, the lead, is living what many of us would consider hell on earth, yet she is drawn with such sympathy and depth, that we find ourselves rooting for her, cheering her on, and understanding why she fails. Many times, we may not agree with her actions, but Ms. Henderson has populated her work with enough story to understand why Mary doesn't just do it. That is a skill and Ms. Henderson has mastered it.

It is also masterful she managed to create sympathy for an introverted, lonely, bullied girl who is so lost she only briefly sees hope in The Flicker of Old Dreams.

Well done, Susan.

March 12, 2018 Noon, 28 degrees, snowing lightly, yeah, still snowing, it will not end. We have nearly a foot on the ground and the temps are not supposed to break 40 until the end of the week. Really getting old.

I have a birthday on the Ides of March. Been ruminating about how old I've gotten, what that means in the grand scheme of things, or if it means anything at all. If I come up with any stellar observations, I'll let you know here.

Have a ton of things to get through this week. Corporate taxes for my business, standing in long lines at the DMV to get new license tags, (I stopped Friday afternoon and the line was out the door - now serving #40 - my number was #98 - yeah, like that was going to happen.

Special project for the company - two week deadline on that and barely started. And, somewhere in here, I get to think about how old I am and how I managed to get here. Certainly, I never expected to live this long when I was younger. The past fifteen years or so, I've come to expect I'll live to be 100. Still, burying a lot of friends and I've already lived longer than either of my in-laws. What does that mean?

Ah, off to do other things.

March 3, 2018 11am 33 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies, glorious morning if a bit nippy.

Full Moon on Thursday, sky cleared Wednesday night and I stood naked in the backyard soaking up the lunar magic. To be fair, there was a nasty northeast wind blowing and it was cold. Writers Circle on Thursday night - with three inches of new snow and slippery roads.
Last night, the sky was clear, the moon was out and I went out again, no wind, but still darned cold.

Amazingly, my stellar run continues. And has now filtered down to my children, whose lives are charging forward to the future like an unstoppable train. I am happy for them all. Another record month for my business. I wandered through one of my restaurants and a guy spotted my jacket and bought an ad on the spot. Still don't understand any of this but we'll go with it.

And, I am actually working on my WIP. adding a few pages here and there, trying to get it to critical mass so it will take off. When I was working on my last completed novel, I hit 20000 words and the rest of the book came in 26 days. The most productive time I've ever had. Hoping the same lightening strikes again. Getting close.

Managed to get almost all the Oscar movies done, watched the Shape of Water last night. Get Out the night before. My youngest son is coming tomorrow night to watch the Oscars with me - ah, father son time.

Things are happening. Spring is trying to break through, new life, sap rising, first robin of the year trying to find worms under the inch of snow on the grass. Life is good.

February 26, 2018 10am, 37 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky. All that thawing took away the snow, turning it to run off, filling the streams and the river which rose 6 feet next to my house. I'm on a hill, no worries, minor flooding in this area. Now, a stretch of 50's.

Birds are returning, have sandhill cranes squawking loudly in the field across the road. Red Wing Blackbirds at the feeders. Spring is indeed close.

My latest cable bill arrived with yet another rate increase. So, I finally bit the bullet and cut some. You have to realize I had everything you could get - HBO, Cinemax, Starz, Epic, tons of stuff - 800 channels. Dropping back to basic cable meant losing a lot of things we watch occasionally. It also meant, as I discovered, that watching movies on network tv, means watching commercials. If you're used to not doing that, it comes as quite a shock and the reaction is "f*** this" and change the channel. Fortunately, my children have me hooked up on all sorts of stuff, Plex, Netflix, etc. So, with a little effort, I can get around watching much network at all.

Oddly, this also gives me more time to read, write and do other stuff. i.e. finished Jamie Ford's Love and Other Consolation Prizes. And, he hit it out of the park again. Very nicely done.

Busy week ahead, end of the month, Writers Circle, full moon (though the weather looks cloudy), All things bright and beautiful.

We roll on. Spring fever likely to strike any time and, after the winter we've had, I'm more than ready for it.

February 20, 2018 11am, 58 degrees, rain and fog and mist and wet. Our 16 inches of snow are nearly gone, though piles still exist, so much moisture in the air, it drifts in ground clouds.

My last post, where I noted The White Horse Tavern in New York City, reminded me of another writerly watering hole my cousins introduced me to. Which sent me to Google to find out if it still survives. The Lion's Head on Christopher Street in the Village. Alas, it no longer exists. It was a stop on my honeymoon with my first wife. I remember having dinner and this old codger at the next table couldn't keep his eyes off my bride. When I went to the head, he tried to pick her up. A couple months later, I saw his picture on a book jacket. It was Norman Mailer. Wish I'd known at the time....
Ten years later, went back again with my new wife and my little brother who was 15 at the time and amazed he could order a drink and not get ID'd.

You can't go home again.

February 11, 2018 10 am, 21 degrees, and snowing. Got 7 inches of snow on Friday, 2 more yesterday, and 4-6 expected today. Can no longer measure snow depth in the yard with a foot long ruler. Had to get a yardstick. Good thing I don't have to go anywhere. Supposed to get to the 40's by midweek. Can't come soon enough for me. Snow on my Quonset hut getting pretty thick. Not sure the fiberglass skylights can take the weight - they are bending inward.
Full Moon on January 31st. Powers that be, power me on. Bills are all paid, money in the bank, refinancing the house to a lower rate, everything going like it should.
I've been watching Oscar nominated movies. Have gotten through Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, The Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, and The Post. Next up, The Shape of Water and Get Out! - Get Out holds no interest for me, whatsoever. I guess I'll try to watch it, but the reviews and the subject matter simply don't catch my attention.
Have finished Stephen King and Owen King's Sleeping Beauties, and Louise Eldritch's Future Home of the Living God. Getting into Jamie Ford's latest now. Eagerly waiting the arrival - on my birthday next month - of Susan Henderson's new work, The Flicker of Old Dreams.
Might be just me, but I have absolutely no interest in the Winter Olympics. Might have something to do with all this snow we've got around here. Watching other people play in the snow feels counterproductive when all you want is for it to go away.
Hard to concentrate on work when you don't really feel like you can accomplish very much with slippery roads.
Over on LitHub, couldn't help but go through the literary bars, sure enough, The White Horse Tavern in New York made the list. I bought my first drink at that bar in the fall of 1968. And, no, I wasn't of age, but they didn't seem to care. I had come to spend Thanksgiving with my cousin, Maureen and her husband Mark. They lived in a tiny walk up, a half block from the bar, on Perry Street.
It h

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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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