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The Rear End

THE REAR END: Salt on Watermelon

and all manner of late night treats

The sky was black and crickets were droning on in the grass just outside the open windows. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t have air conditioning back then, and humid summer air pushed in through ...

THE REAR END: Sweet, Sweet Summertime

time to slather on the sunscreen and Purell

My, oh my, people of the Chippewa Valley. Summertime is here, and it’s time for some good ol’ summertime fun. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Fish Puke

(and wondering what I should remember)

Its vomit was bright orange. I can’t say if that’s normal. But that day in the boat, that’s what it was. I’m sure I held it ...

The Middle of the Road

what your walking says about you

A few short months ago, back when this country’s quarantine was in its toddler stage, I was driving through my neighborhood past quiet houses with dark windows. The sun was ...

A Productive Pandemic

thanks oh so much for all the great quarantine advice!

How’s it going, Chippewa Valley? Anything new happening? Any world-shattering current events affecting us here at home? Any paradigm-shifting incidents gripping the planet, making things weird here in ...

Letters from Home in the Time of COVID

these will be amazing memories ... eventually ... one day ... maybe?

How’s it going, Chippewa Valley? I’m fine. Like many of you smart, attractive, industrious people reading this, I’ve been working from home for the past few weeks.

Nest in Peace

cohabitation with some feathered friends

I try to see it from the opposite perspective, I really do. I try to sympathize. I imagine myself, snuggled in all cozy upon the couch, doing the things I like to do at home while snuggled upon the couch ...

Blue Sky Over the Kwik Trip

Not everyone coming and going from the Kwik Trip holds the door for me, but almost everyone. I always hold it for people. Or at the very least, I lean back outside a little and keep the door open until the next person reaches out ...

Berating Skating

(I don’t care how quintessential it is)

No, dammit – I can’t skate. Not on wheels and not on ice. And besides a brief stint as a hardcore thrasher back in the fourth grade, I can’t even ride a ...

The Dark Side of Winter

how loving winter means accepting the gritty parts

Let’s get one thing straight, Chuck. I like winter. I like winter a lot. And I think all you Wisconsinites out there who complain about the snow and the cold and the ...

Ski Dooing It

aka, the Snowmobile Super Jump Master chronicles

Like many of you (the awesome ones), I’m very happy we have plenty of snow this year. I hope we get more. We need it. But not just for our own frosty fun. We need it for an often overlooked, yet crucial ...

Moaning ’Til the Plows Come Home

there’s no good alternative to a snow plow ... or is there?

Those of us who grew up here in Wisconsin know the legends by heart. And we know that they are true. Each winter, after the holidays, after the haze of family gatherings and poor eating habits has worn away, once we’ve awoken from our nog-based stupor to find ourselves in January ...

Winter Houses

from warm to cold, from cold to warm

Winter houses. Lonely walls standing up squarely against the snow and the gasping cold. Our walls. Our houses. And us inside them. What are we doing in here?

Silent Nights

Christmas memories glowing in the dark

We sang “Silent Night,” standing up on the shiny marble steps, up in front of the church. For our parents, brothers, and sisters. For our teachers and the priest. And I guess we sang for the big Jesus hanging high up behind ...

Right Before Dark

sitting in the trees and listening

Right before dark, things calm down. Out in the woods. All day long out there, you get used to it. The small but explosive chatter of animals smaller than your fist. The clattering of tree branches ...

This Is All Your Fault

placing blame for this Winter’s untimely arrival

Everybody hold up – hold on just one second. Stop talking. Take a deep breath. And answer me one simple question ...

What the Snow Doesn’t Care About

some thoughts for my midwestern friends and acquaintances

Sitting by a church door, looking out at the dark parking lot, we are waiting for people to arrive. So we can open the door and let them inside. This lady and ...

The Darkest Holiday

Halloween is the best and that’s that

Pale dead weeds flank the wrought iron gate. Dark, dirty windows gape at you from the rickety walls. The roof has many angles and lots of little places to hide. The house stands three stories ...

October Sky

At night. Sometimes I get dizzy looking up at the sky. When I look past the black tree branches and past the moon. When I look up to the tiny grains of light littering the atmosphere ...

Steak and Fake Lobster

breaking bread with my family supper club style

Poor man’s lobster. It’s more than a great name for a funk band. Poor man’s lobster is what my mom usually ordered when ...