Roads we drive and the paths we walk.

The future is looking very promising right now. A rock cooking on a river bank still has its toes in the water. Though it might just sit there, watching all matter of life being carried away from it, it still gets to partake in its way. Little fishes are passing by, going for a scratch on their fins thanks to the rock. The water pushed through on its normal course waiting for a little bit of a change of pace, the rock provides that.

I’m a rolling boulder. Pushing through the forces of nature that are my children. Each of them becoming masters of their universes. It makes me feel good; I thought this whole trip would be a venture of me interrupting, but if turns out that I’m just moving down a mountain, and they are the paved ways left by boulders before me. It seems I am the one being moved now.

Marc is set to compete in some NCAA competitions.When he was just a tike I haven’t talked to him in a while, and he hasn’t talked about me, but he’s doing well. He has his land of ice in the north, and I’m happy to see him succeeding, even if it is on skates.

Ashely, to my east, is raising her little cubs in the middle of the forest. Her husband may mean well, but he is an outsider to the pack that we have developed. The two of them seem to be doing well; they plan on opening a shop of some sort online. I don’t think shops do too well online, but they are happy with the way things are going.

My son in the South, James, apparently is now in talks to securing a great big contract from I don’t know how all of those Florida folk build so much. Limestone isn’t the greatest foundation to build an empire. I just hope my son starts investing in flight companies before that whole state sinks into the ocean.

As for me, I’m headed on my merry way. Being a boulder has its downsides and right now I’m feeling pretty tired. But I still have a whole road ahead of me and then some. I look forward to sitting down and resting with my dog for a little bit. Maybe I can do itAll this writing and all my daughters pestering seem to be pushing me in this direction. Maybe I’ll begin a book.

That’s the idea anyway, I kind of like that idea. Sitting on my porch with this ThinkPad, doing what my wife loved doing. Telling a story. It seems like such a trivial thing but at the same time, it’s so…. Relaxing. I just want to be able to look over, pat Roger Jr on the head, have a glass of scotch next to me and just figure this whole thing out on the page. I think I’d like that. But for now, enough of this blogging stuff, I have a road to travel and a mark to settle. Somehow, it feels like I’m starting over again.

Familiar Key Strokes.

So now I’m in Raleigh North Carolina with my daughter and her husband and already he is bringing up health stuff again. Talking about my diet, talking about seeing a doctor. He wants me to see one of his friends in Ponte Vedra Beach. This man is claiming to be concerned about my health, and yet he is sending me back to Florida to see one of his doctor friends at I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been. I’ve beaten cancer!

After I had finished chewing him out for being a jerk, my daughter spoke to me in private, and I could see the feat in her eyes. She looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Not the kind of emotions I want my daughter to be conveying, I love her, and I don’t want her to feel scared, nor do I want her reading this blog anymore.

Needless to say, I told her I would see a doctor when I got back home.

39490667 - assorted delicious grilled meat with vegetable over the coals on a barbecue

I have no intention of going to Florida unless I’m seeing my son and I don’t want to be in the sunshine state any longer than that.

That put a little bookend to our conversation, and we went out to get some of that world famous North Carolina barbecue. I had a beautiful rack of ribs from this place called ‘The Pit.’ If you needed me ever to go anywhere involving food and it’s called the pit, I guarantee that I’ll be there. I had that a wonderful craft beer called the AMB Revolution, and it washed everything down.

You are talking about some fine, hickory-smoked and honey glazed ribs. I almost ordered another one for the road. Give me a few pounds of napkins and a beer in a paper bag and this would be the best road food I would have ever had in my entire life. But once again, my daughter gave me those big sad eyes and told me some nonsense. I wasn’t listening because I was too busy being sad. Maybe it’s the ribs; they’re so good they’ve made me feel sad in front of people.

But, right now I’m lying in their guest bed, typing on this old Thinkpad my wife used to have. It’s interesting to touch the same keys she used to touch. think backThere are little spots on the keys where her fingers used to be. I can place my finger over them, shadow where her slender fingers used to be.

She used to type letters to everyone in the household. If you left the toilet seat up, you got a letter. Got an A on your report card, you got a letter. She never even bought greeting cards, she would just work on this little guy tapping away until she found the design she wanted. I miss her letters; I miss her. I keep up with this…. Blog. But I don’ think that I will ever be able to produce anything as good as her. I don’t think I’m a writer; I don’t think I’m much of anything without her.

This lonesome road, a time to behold.

So I’m back up on that long road of life. Back north to where my home is. I’ll probably end up stopping off to see my daughter.

36962816 - pipelines of a oil and gas refinery industrial plant.

I’m sure she’d love it since now all of the sudden she’s a huge fan of my work. But I just like driving at the very least. It’s nice to be out of the house for a little bit, I left my dog with the neighbor, they go often hunting so it’ll be nice for him to get the exercise.

Outside of that, I spent the night and prodded my son earlier about what he did specifically and apparently he’s a compressed air salesman. I was trying to look at the page, but I just can’t seem to navigate it. That’s it in case anybody wants to decode it and get back to me. All I know is that I’m proud of him.

I had an interesting little moment earlier. I was at a rest stop on my way to seeing her, and I was just sitting there. I had made a sandwich at my son’s house, bread, and bologna, fuel. I was tearing the meat from the sandwich and staring out into a nearby wooded area. As I began to focus, I saw eyes staring back at me, a few sets of them, one high, the rest low. Eyes of a deer no doubt, some doe with her little bucks.

There they stood petrified, wondering if I was going to tear the meat from them too. But I didn’t. I sipped on my Dr.Pepper and finished my sandwich. Took my shoe off to shake the rock loose that had somehow found its way in there. Not on this day, I may be a predator but hurting kids and mothers is not the way of the predator, it’s the way of the carnivore, and I eat bread.

So I’ll probably have to stop near the northern part of Georgia tonight. Tomorrow, Raleigh. lonesome roadI will do the best that I can to see that I can take care of my bucks before I pass on into the leaves. But until then let’s see if we can’t hit up another bar in the mean time. It seems the only thing left for me to enjoy a few damn good drinks and make sure my kids are okay.

There’s this place called the Porter Beer Bar. I’d enjoy a beer and a burger after the seafood bonanza my son made me go through. I appreciate a good catfish now and then but I’m not a fan of the bottom feeders like shrimp and mussels. But I wanted to make my son happy, and it’s apparently all he eats right now. But I’m back onto that lonely road. I wish I had my doggy with me; he would have loved the ride, but I never know when some hurricane would have hit at any time, I don’t know how that place works.

Broken branches, falling leaves.

Do you think a tree gets excited to see an acorn fall from it’s branches? His trunks stay put, rooted deep within the ground, deep to what he was brought up from. Both may be from similar seeds, but the wind decides where they rest. Acorns are merely a product of, not a creation of, the tree itself.

What can the tree show? My little saplingOther than itself being resolute, steadfast in where it belongs in this world, it being its flag. A tree shows no movement, other than what the wind forces. The branches do not move at the behest of the tree but are rather interpreted by the world around it.

A tree is just a tree. It may be a living thing, but it is devoid of emotion, meant to just live its life on this planet doing everything it has done since birth, everything that has been preset before it by the previous acorn. The only change that happens is when it is cut down by man or taken down by nature.

So when my son asks me if I’m proud of him. I just smile and put my hand on his shoulder. The wind may decide what the tree shows, but my hand touched him. I am a proud father. My son has grown up to be a good, hard-working man, and he currently has gainful employment at, While I may not know specifically what he is doing, I know that it is good hard work because I see harder men them him holding themselves with much less power than him. My boys got roots of his own.

I can’t say much about Florida other than I prefer the weather. The dryness of our home climate cracks my lips.

10642760 - florida heat. sunset with palm trees. dark orange sky and trees shapes
10642760 – florida heat. sunset with palm trees. dark orange sky and trees shapes

No need for lip balm here. That being said, the people are rude, and the driving is bad. Hopefully, my son provides parents with paddles to whack their spoiled kids upside the head with, maybe then this place would be a little more understanding of laws of these lands.

My daughter gave me a call on my cell phone, she apparently has found my blog and is a big endorser of me in this. I don’t like calling it a blog, but she insists I call it that. I like to think of it as a contemporary chronicle of an American man. I don’t want to try and ‘trend’ or set any new ‘hashtags.’ I’m just trying to seal a little part of my life so my grandchildren might be able to understand what it was like in their kooky grandfather’s heads. It seems like these blogs are the only things those kids respond to nowadays and I might not be around forever to sit them on my kneed and set them straight myself.

So since the cat is out of the bag, let me end this with a few rules for my kids. Be good, work hard, live below your means, save your money, love completely and floss. Flossing is very important, and no one seems to do it.

Kneading seeds into the Soil

So when I was younger, and I was fighting cancer, they tied me up to these weird machines. I’d have one tube… might as well call it, it was two tubes going you don’t want to know where and they were controlling what was supposed to come out of me. Kind of looked like thisHowever, I had this one tube that was always down my throat and it was sucking all the extra stuff from my lungs that weren’t supposed to be there. This was a lot.

I remember it scaring me so much when I was a kid; I had my hard-nosed father there every other day. Thought it was kind of funny to see my daddy with little tears dangling off the tip of his nose. My mother was always there, dangling between as stoic as the rockies and as caterwauling as the avalanches that roll off of them. But through all of these moments, I genuinely thought I was going to die, and my parents thought the same too.

I bring this up because my daughter’s husband, Miguel, thought it might be a good idea if I told my story to the guys at They handle medical malpractice cases well and have a great track record. I’m on the phone with him, and he was talking to me, and I couldn’t help it, but he rustled my jimmy’s.

I had to pull over! I sat, and I explained to him that a man is worth what he is owed and that those people saved my lives back then. I probably wouldn’t even be there on the side of the road cursing his name if it wasn’t for those people. Only to have him later rebuttal with saying that he thought my testimonial might help them determine good cases and bad ones. I told him I’d sew him for medical malpractice for misdiagnosing my anger for foot-in-mouth disease!

Anyway, I’ve decided to stay in New Orleans for the night. I’ve always been fond of checking out Bourbon Street, My favorite, the Whiskey sourand I never thought that Baton Rouge could stand up to it’s southern sister. I might sign up for one of those ghost tours before I go back down on the rest of my trip. Something almost seems like it’s summoning me there.

Haven’t heard from Marc in some time, I think I might call him after this whole trip is over. Ashley made some talks about how she might fly down to see me for a day or too. It’d be nice if she could fit me into her busy schedule, I didn’t realize I was raising a bunch of busy bodies. At least Marc hits people with sticks, but he does also slide pucks into nets.

Oh, by the way, I had one of them little lucky dogs. If you don’t know what they are, there’s this stand where you give them like five dollars, and they set you up with a foot long hot dog that has chili and onions and cheese and more meat. It’s crazy delicious; you really ought to look it up next time you’re in town.

Daddy’s Tire Tracks

Well, shoot. I figured I’d recreate the olfudgepack express route that my daddy used to do when he was a kid.

6539581 - group of trucks at country road at sunny day

My daddy, Jim, used to drive a truck down the interstate for several days at a time, he would start at home, down to Dallas, then over to Baton Rouge, then down to Miami in just a few days. Dirty rumors from our rotten neighbors left thoughts that I might have siblings in the cities, and I would be lying if I said that every time I pass through I wonder if someone looks at me with the same potential as I do them.

Anyway, here I am driving down to Dallas, and I stop in to get some pancakes at the local iHop, not out of special interest, there just didn’t happen to be Denny’s nearby, it was in the early afternoon after all. I come out of there after having possibly the best mozzarella sticks I’ve ever had in my life, only to find out that I left my keys in the car! So I panic, and I call Ashley, and she tells me that her husband over heard and told me to just call the local locksmith.

So I hang up on my daughter, as my son-in-law instructed and called up the boys down at and they shot right over real quick and rescued the keys from my car. Not too expensive either, you hear tall tales about a $200, service but these guys happened to enjoy iHop, so I lucked out.

Then I started floating right back down that lonely road. Turning on the radio stations in this day and age just ends up making my head hurt. So I found an old set of CD’s of Hank Williams Jr., and I’ve been listening to that the whole ride through.

Some people say they know what the American dream is. I don’t know if there is an American dream for everyone, but I know that I’m living mine. I beat cancer at such a young age that everything else just seemed easy from here on in. Now I get to take a road trip down the same streets my daddy took, going down to see my son for his birthday and his new job. All the while I don’t have a care in the world. I’ve got money in the bank; I’ve got Hank in my ears and my kids on my mind.

The wind has a special sort of feel today, the kind of musky dryness that only the desert can offer. As much fun as I am having, I still can’t stop thinking about certain things you know? The certain thoughts that just come creeping now and then, like that fish I brought up, or James. I wonder if these are signs from above or me having a couple of screws in this old noggin loose.Rattler But all I know is that I ran over a snake a few miles back, and something about the way it rolled under my car has been making me feel queasy for the last few miles.

Skippin’ through life.

Back when I was a younger lad, right around the time I was twelve, and old roger was well beyond that in doggy years, I would skip stones on the lake behind my house. I had another friend named James who would always skip rocks with me except he found it funnier to skin my knees with them. I wasn’t too fond of James, but I complied when my wife had decided to name our eldest James.

The two of us skip these stones across these waters, chewing Blackjack gum as we go. This is what blackjack gum tastes like.The waves would make this hollow sound, the sound you would get if it was raining on one of the old barrels from There was a manufactory near by and we would love to roll ourselves down the hills in them. We’d stand up and get dizzy and lose our lunches on the leaves as the wind took them away like whispers.

Anyway, there was this one time where we would be skipping stones except mine snagged something. It didn’t make the hollow droplet that it usually does. It made a spongy thwack sort of sound.  If Batman had an issue where he spent the entire time fishing, this sound would inevitably make its way onto the splash page.

Well, me and James (not my son) would just stand there for a moment. The calmness of the ripples stilling themselves against the slowly coming tide. A curious bubble seemed to form, multiply briefly and stop. Then a fish, belly up showed itself. In the place of its eye happened to be the very stone I did skip.


I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes, life throws stones at you. Some people will catch it in their eye and go belly up like the fish. Some people may be able to fight through the pain and survive like you see a lot of people do. But other times, sometimes the stones will be used to skin your knee and it’s all your left with knowing for the rest of my life.

He may not have had lymphoblastic lymphoma, but ol’ James was a Marlboro man from birth. He was never long for this world, but in his time here he certainly left his impacts, my knees and some poor girls womb. But sometimes I’ll stand by my window and look out to that lake, wonder if the waters still splash the same way. I just can’t bring myself to go down there, the sounds of Roger and the cackles of James would float around me like butterflies.

My son called me last week, told me that he might pick up a new job soon and that I should drive down to see him. Hope the chevy can make the trip. I’ll think about it, his birthday is next month and I’d like to make it all one trip but I know now I’ll probably end up making two trips. My boy James will end up outliving my friend James, not that it’s surprising. But it is a bit sad, but that’s the way life goes I guess. We just got to keep our noses clean and our heads down and let life just roll over us or it will take us into its hot mess and leave just our shoes behind.

Finding Life in Retirement

living-in-madison-wisconsin-progressive-culture-in-the-capital-4  I retired about a year ago. I worked at a brokerage firm in Madison, Wisconsin. It was my 25th year with the company, and I thought it was about time I moved. I lost my wife five years ago to cancer and our three kids had all moved away. My son, James, moved to Florida because he wanted to get away from the cold. He used to live in Hawaii, but he got a great job offer after graduating with his psychology degree from the University of Hawaii in Manoa. My daughter, Ashley, moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and opened up her own gelato store. She lives there with my wonderful son-in-law, Miguel, who is a web developer. They have three beautiful kids, Angie, George and Kelly. And lastly, my youngest child, Marc, has been living in Canada for the last year and a half one a hockey scholarship at the University of Toronto. He was studying graphic design while trying to be a professional hockey player.
2011-03-01_13-58-48.572I told the three of them that I was retiring and selling the house. They knew it was time, but I asked them to come to the house one last time to gather anything that they wanted to keep. Anything that they didn’t want to keep, we would sell or donate. I took to cooking that night. I wanted to make them their mother’s famous turkey dinner. We only ever ate the turkey dinner during Thanksgiving. But, I knew that we wouldn’t be able to have Thanksgiving together this year because everyone was scattered. They all came over and we had a wonderful dinner. We spent a lot of time reminiscing about the times we’ve had in the house. Ashley cried the most. She was UofT_Logo.svgclosest to my wife, Amy.

We went through all their old rooms and we spent a lot of time digging through their various belongings. And then came the worst part, we went through my wife’s belongings. I hadn’t touched any of her clothes, her jewelry or her night stand. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the clothes; they still smelled like her. Ashley was the bravest one and really she reminded me so much of her mother. She was so strong, she was kind, and she looked like Amy. She began rummaging through all the clothes first. She pulled out a blue dress, and I grabbed Amy’s blue dress from Ashley because I couldn’t let that one go. That was the dress Amy and I renewed our vows in. I cried as I held it close to my nose and mouth. I breathed in the faintest smell Amy had left on the dress. My kids sat around me in a circle and hugged me all at once. The boys silently shed tears and Ashley held her sobs in to be strong for her blubbering father.

After days of clearing things up, I called Advanced Disposal for bulk pickup. We had a yard sale and it was a success. We raised quite a bit of money that I gave to Ashley for the kids’ college funds. Whatever we couldn’t sell we donated and whatever else was left was sitting on the lawn waiting to be picked up. Ashley asked me to move in with her and Miguel. They had a guest house on their property that no one was using. I told her I’d pay her rent for it and she could put that money in the bank for the kids’ college fund. Once I sold the house, I gave each of them part of the sale. And now, I live in Raleigh.

My Love for Roger Rabbit

When I was fifteen, I lost my best friend. His name was Roger. He was a golden retriever that my family had given me for my fifth Christmas. It was Christmas morning in 1978, I remember getting up earlier than usual that day. The smell of Mom’s chocolate chip waffles pulled me out of bed. I jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs. I saw my Dad sitting right by this big, red package under the tree and he asked me to come sit next to him. Mom came through the kitchen and sat down right next to Dad and they told me to unwrap the present carefully. As I was pulling the wrapping apart, I felt the box move and heard scratching and yelping noises coming from within. I quickly pulled the ribbon off and opened the box. There was a little golden retriever in it, who stood up and licked my nose the first chance he got. He tumbled over, bringing the box on its side with him, and he climbed on top of me and licked me. My parents asked me what I wanted to name him and I said Roger because Roger Rabbit was my favorite cartoon character at the time.

What I didn’t tell you was that I would be diagnosed with cancer by my sixth birthday in September. I was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma. My parents were devastated. I didn’t really understand what was going on. My parents only told me to be strong because I was about to endure the toughest battle of my life. I spent a lot of my days in bed after starting my chemotherapy. I spent a lot of my time in the hospital as well. My parents told me that Roger was waiting by the door every night. He wouldn’t budge because he was looking for me. I got to use my wish to have Roger come to the hospital and stay with me during the day. He made all the kids happier. He was so friendly and he wouldn’t leave my side. He slept in the bed with me and refused to move. If there is such a thing as a soulmate, then I’ve met him. Roger understood me and when I was in pain, I could see it in his eyes how much he wanted to make everything better. He would lick my face, put his paw on my lap and then try to lift my arm onto his head. I don’t think I would’ve been able to make it without him.

After several months of chemo, I was given the all-clear to go home. I still went back to the hospital to visit my friends and I would take Roger with me. Roger eventually became a service dog and we would both visit people at the hospital to help cheer them up. We did this for a few years before I got busy with school and Roger enjoyed becoming a lazy house dog. His playfulness never faded. He wanted to make you smile even with his last breath. And he did. He was my rock. He taught me everything I needed to know about compassion and empathy, and for that I will be forever grateful. He was also the reason I started my service dog training company. I also created the Roger Tilden Cancer Foundation that helps pair children with service dogs to help them during their times in hospitals. Roger helped me and my family through the hardest part of our lives, and I want nothing more than to be able to help families the way Roger helped us.