A Fifth Freedom

Dearest Rachel – Many years ago, back during the throes of World War II, Norman Rockwell created a series of paintings entitled ‘The Four Freedoms,’ highlighting the liberties we have as Americans that made this country what it was. And yes, I’m using the past tense, because it seems that everybody and his uncle SamContinue reading “A Fifth Freedom”

Given A Free Hand

Dearest Rachel – It’s taken the better part of the month, and several miscommunications and missed connections, but we’ve finally gotten a team of landscapers working on the yard. This is the same father and son team that have been working on the folks’ place for years, but it never occurred to us to hireContinue reading “Given A Free Hand”

Asking For Approval

Dearest Rachel – You might’ve been aware of it back in the day, but as it wasn’t necessarily a concern of yours, it was never really discussed, but I always would – and still do – call the folks when I’m on my way to the ‘office.’ It’s not a necessary thing – I haveContinue reading “Asking For Approval”

Going Buy-Buy

Dearest Rachel – I let the first of the month get past me, but I was otherwise occupied with a houseguest, after all. Indeed, it wasn’t until last Thursday that I realized I had missed my Monday appointment at the mechanics for your car. Oh well, we can try again later this week, I guess.Continue reading “Going Buy-Buy”

Spot Macbeth

Dearest Rachel – No, this does not refer to some Shakespearean take on Where’s Waldo, although the idea of Martin Handford drawing a crowd in the Globe Theatre into which the actor portraying the Scottish usurper is trying to blend while being pursued by Macduff and Malcolm makes for an interesting image. Considering Handford’s BritishContinue reading “Spot Macbeth”

Intermittent Chaos

Dearest Rachel – It wasn’t precisely a nightmare, as such, but it was one of those dreams that you wake up from feeling quite glad that it wasn’t reality. Well the bulk of what was happening has faded from my memory, I vividly recall a mushroom cloud of fire and smoke erupting at a strangeContinue reading “Intermittent Chaos”

Knowing Your Limits

Dearest Rachel – So the better part of today was spent hiking one of the trails up here in the Rocky Mountains. We started in Glacier Gorge, with the intent of going to Sky Pond. Sounds like a plan. The only thing is, that plan involves hiking 4 1/2 miles in either direction, and toContinue reading “Knowing Your Limits”

Limpiar

Dearest Rachel – You’d probably be able to confirm with me as to the French, but I do know that in Spanish, the verb ‘to clean’ is ‘limpiar.’ Which, while having absolutely no connection to our word ‘limp’ (Since that comes down to us from the German through Old and Middle English), is strangely appropriateContinue reading “Limpiar”

The Futility of Collection

Dearest Rachel – So the other day, I started working on those video tapes from downstairs; playing them on one of our old VCRs, running the output through the converter box, and turning them into digital files. I’ll probably be putting one of them up on my channel at some point today, because I needContinue reading “The Futility of Collection”

The Sunset Isn’t Here Yet

Dearest Rachel – At the end of many a classic Western, the hero adjusts his white hat, declares “My work here is done,” and rides off into the sunset. It’s always the sunset; he never takes a break to sleep all that hard work off, and ride off in the morning, when he’d have moreContinue reading “The Sunset Isn’t Here Yet”

Thousands of Hours to Go

Dearest Rachel – I went through three VCRs trying to figure out what was going wrong. It turned out that the reason there was no adequate picture was because I shouldn’t have plugged the connection in all the way. I think I’m gonna have to go back and explain this to you. Let me justContinue reading “Thousands of Hours to Go”

Permission to Skip

Dearest Rachel – This may seem inappropriate, but I feel the need to address this. Less than a week ago, I admitted to you that there were times when I just didn’t feel inspired to write you, but did so nonetheless. Which, I suppose, resulted in what an editor (were I to have one) wouldContinue reading “Permission to Skip”

from Rachel: Planned For God’s Pleasure

“4/24 “I could and should start doing house work as if I were doing it for Jesus. Especially the jobs I don’t like and generally procrastinate; washing dishes, hanging up clothes, and sorting and cleaning up messy piles.” Dearest Rachel – Interesting to see this entry now, just as I’d been learning about ‘secondary losses’Continue reading “from Rachel: Planned For God’s Pleasure”

Red Tape

Dearest Rachel – Last night was the Bible study on Zoom, as per usual for the last year and a half. One of the regulars generally start things off with a joke. To give you an idea of the level of humor, here was this week’s offering: Question: How do bureaucrats wrap their Christmas presents?Continue reading “Red Tape”

A Touch of Nervous Energy

Dearest Rachel – What with having woken up before six o’clock on a Saturday to shower and tend to the dog (although in fairness, I actually managed to do the former without waking up the old guy! Huzzah!), making a point to attend this morning’s Bible study, followed by running about on errands until aboutContinue reading “A Touch of Nervous Energy”

The Last of the Crawl Space

Dearest Rachel – You probably remember that scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. That harrowing bit when Judge Doom announced that he would “try, convict and ex-ecute” Roger, all while nonchalantly lowering an otherwise inoffensive (and subsequently terrified) clown shoe to its death in a barrel of ‘Dip.’ That was the sensation I felt whenContinue reading “The Last of the Crawl Space”

from Rachel: Life Is A Temporary Assignment

“May 1” “I should try to remember C.S. Lewis’ quote ‘All that is not eternal is eternally useless.’” “Back to my life metaphor (part five) – I am journeying through a foreign land toward my real home. “(Camp out, don’t build a house.)” “I should, today and every day, try to value work more andContinue reading “from Rachel: Life Is A Temporary Assignment”

Wondering if the Chains Will Hold

Dearest Rachel – When I was a little kid, I really wasn’t much for roller coasters. The idea of being spun around and inverted at those dizzying speeds, suspended at heights that, were I to fall from, would undoubtedly kill me (and that was merely the drop itself; never mind the metal mechanisms and trackContinue reading “Wondering if the Chains Will Hold”

I Need the Hat and Bullwhip

Dearest Rachel – I want to first point out that I don’t say that out of any need to be ‘cool’ or anything – although those accessories would seem undeniably make me look a lot cooler than I am. It’s also not just because this is turning into an archaeological dig of our relationship. It’sContinue reading “I Need the Hat and Bullwhip”

Getting Started When You Can’t

Dearest Rachel – My morning starts at ten ‘til six; that’s when I find myself waking up organically. Some wag on the Internet has made the assertion that one’s alarm clock represents one’s theme song, because that’s how you begin most every episode of your life. If that’s the case, then it would seem thatContinue reading “Getting Started When You Can’t”

No Dead Bodies, But Skeletons Nonetheless

Dearest Rachel – I have a feeling we’re not going to be making a whole lot of progress today. Today Jan has resolved to begin work on the crawlspace, and while I know you kept most of our Christmas stuff and the stuff for the island down there, if there’s anything else from anywhere else,Continue reading “No Dead Bodies, But Skeletons Nonetheless”

Nevermore?

Dearest Rachel – Sometimes you don’t see the whole story all at once. Sometimes, what you see at one point might be considered remarkable, but then more happens later that adds to the unfolding story. Yesterday, we received the strangest visitors; a pair of painters who claimed to have been from several doors down north.Continue reading “Nevermore?”

A Bullet for the Critic

Dearest Rachel – Midnight! Two! Six! What is with this dog, that he can’t tell me a decent nights sleep?! After all, if Daniel is to be believed (and he’s never been a very good liar), the old boy sleeps plenty soundly during the day. Okay, maybe I have my answer, there. And to beContinue reading “A Bullet for the Critic”

All Hail the House Elves!

Dearest Rachel – I confess to being the quintessential oblivious mail. I don’t see what I’m not looking for – and I’m really looking for anything. So when I arrived home (nearly an hour earlier than I had expected to, no less – not much traffic at this time of day, I guess), and DanielContinue reading “All Hail the House Elves!”

Preparing to Leave the House

Dearest Rachel – I never really considered just how involved this process was of putting ourselves together for a convention weekend. All I ever did was to pack the computers and hard drives and my own set of clothes and toiletries, and call it good. There’s so much else that has to be taken careContinue reading “Preparing to Leave the House”

Detailed Plans

Dearest Rachel – Look, you’re going to have to put up with puns on the word ‘Detail’ for most of these entries going forward. It’s the name of the kitchen & bath design showroom, after all, and while this has nothing to do with being a dad, there’s still a lot of dad jokes toContinue reading “Detailed Plans”

I’m So Sorry, Mrs. Gecsy

Dearest Rachel – There’s a lot of wrenching decisions to be made in the process of cleaning up the house. One of those is the question of what to do with all the artwork. Like with the pictures of your family going back generations and then out several times removed, I have no emotional connectionContinue reading “I’m So Sorry, Mrs. Gecsy”

Left Over From the Move

Dearest Rachel – Rather than talk to Daniel about the people he listens to, I figured we might as well work on the stuff in his room. After all, we’re down to his room as far as the cleaning process goes. It will make more sense, and be less painful, if he’s involved in theContinue reading “Left Over From the Move”

Passing in His Sleep

Dearest Rachel – The other day, I got tired of waiting for Chompers to fall back asleep so that I could leave for the ‘office,’ so I just left him lying on the blanket in the sunroom, in the hopes that he would eventually find a comfortable position and go to sleep without disturbing DanielContinue reading “Passing in His Sleep”

The Liberation of Surrender

Dearest Rachel – So just last night, I was observing how difficult it was for me to follow my own advice, and simply (and completely) give up on the possibility of finding another life partner like yourself. This morning, on the other hand, I find myself considering just how much better off I am, nowContinue reading “The Liberation of Surrender”

Out of the Closet

Dearest Rachel – I know you’re looking at that title; and no, it doesn’t mean that. Just take it literally, like you’re supposed to. I stayed home from the office today, because both Jan and Kris were over as part of the (seemingly) never-ending cleaning effort. I left Kris to her own devices – andContinue reading “Out of the Closet”

Problems With My Parenting

Dearest Rachel – So the folks have developed this routine of inviting us over almost every Thursday night. It’s really not unlike back in the days when you would be visiting your parents for a week, or those times you would go on women’s retreats, or any other point in which you were away fromContinue reading “Problems With My Parenting”

Three Hundred

Dearest Rachel – This is the second week in a row that Jan‘s charges for her time have amounted to three hundred dollars exactly. And like I told her last week, the thought immediately runs through my head as I look at the room that we’ve been working on for the past few hours: This!Continue reading “Three Hundred”

Of Madness And Memories

Dearest Rachel – In literature, the color yellow seems to be associated very closely with madness. There’s The King in Yellow referenced by Lovecraft, the story of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Gilman, and so forth. I think that, in some way, it’s why Ellen chose it to serve as the color of what weContinue reading “Of Madness And Memories”

On My Own Recognizance

Dearest Rachel – So, Logan came over yesterday, and I did my level best to stay out of the boys way. Kept busy with writing to you, and picking up dinner for them from a local outlet of some national pizza chain. Also slept a bit more, as the dog seems somehow calmer when there’sContinue reading “On My Own Recognizance”

Yet Another Goodbye

Dearest Rachel – It seems the 2021 has been, is, and will be the year of losses for me. Your departure would’ve been more than enough to make it so, but of course there are all these littler ones that follow, or that are expected to follow. You’ve certainly heard plenty from me about Chompers;Continue reading “Yet Another Goodbye”

Before We Close the Lid

Dearest Rachel – I confess that there are some days where I’m still at a loss as to how to deal with Jan. She’s great fun to be around, and she pushes me to do what needs to be done. Of course, it’s that very part of her that leaves me stuck for how toContinue reading “Before We Close the Lid”

Pennies From Heaven

Dearest Rachel – So yesterday, after Mike and Linda came by to measure the kitchen for remodeling, Jan also came by to work more with me on the office. Bear in mind that this isn’t the first day we’ve been working in the office; we did get started on Monday, and spent a full dayContinue reading “Pennies From Heaven”

Measuring For The Makeover

Dearest Rachel – I haven’t forgotten that this is the five-month anniversary since your departure. It is going to be a long time (if ever, let’s face it) before I forget about the significance of the twenty-third of the month. What’s interesting about it, is how often I have something going on – and moreContinue reading “Measuring For The Makeover”

Fear Of Failing Memory

Dearest Rachel – People sometimes tell me I have an impressive memory. And I suppose, for the things I learned in childhood, that’s not far from the mark. I would memorize Bible verses and the like for Awana, and many of them have stayed with me just like some of them actually advertise: “Train upContinue reading “Fear Of Failing Memory”

Unaccustomed As I Am

Dearest Rachel – I’ve mentioned this before, but it is different to give these letters titles. I mean, if I were writing to you directly, a title wouldn’t make it any more eye-catching: you would read it because it came from me. No, the titles are meant to grab the eyes of those you’ve comeContinue reading “Unaccustomed As I Am”

from Rachel: Spring Cleanin’

Jesus Christ must be Lord of our intellect if we are to keep our house in order (Matt 22:34-36; Phil 4:8) A. Study! “Christ must be Lord of my intellect for me to have spiritual order.” B. Dwell on the good stuff! “It doesn’t come automatically; I must deliberately turn my thoughts to these.” JesusContinue reading “from Rachel: Spring Cleanin’”

Moving On Up

Dearest Rachel – Yes, we’re moving on up, to the upstairs of the split-level section of the house. Unlike the Jeffersons’ theme, I think it’s the south side of our house – I was never particularly good at orientation, and determining direction based on a compass: whatever direction I was facing, I always felt likeContinue reading “Moving On Up”

Well, This Sucks (After All)

Dearest Rachel – One of the channels that we would watch on YouTube fairly faithfully on any given weekend was this one Reddit read-and-react segment done by a particularly famous gamer. Over the course of a month or two, he would go through a number of different subreddits, take a look at the photos onContinue reading “Well, This Sucks (After All)”

Cleaning vs. Cleaning Out

Dearest Rachel – So today was pretty much the last day that we will be working on the ground floor. For all intents and purposes, we cleaned out all the rooms on this level. Correction: we have cleaned all the rooms, but not necessarily cleaned them out. There’s a difference between cleaning and cleaning out.Continue reading “Cleaning vs. Cleaning Out”

Nothing Too Out of the Ordinary

Dearest Rachel – So what can I tell you about a day like today? The thing is, some days are… not all that remarkable. They may be eventful, but there’s not much to really say about them. And this has been one of those days. The morning started out with nothing all that out ofContinue reading “Nothing Too Out of the Ordinary”

Wouldn’t Hurt a Fly

Dearest Rachel – As things have been progressing with the entire cleaning out and organizing process that Jan has been doing, I’ve noticed a little change in my own personality over time. I’ve actually gotten sensitive to a certain level of clutter, to the point where I can’t work in a place that’s too crowdedContinue reading “Wouldn’t Hurt a Fly”

These Can’t Be Keepsakes…?

Dearest Rachel – So yesterday, Jan was over, and we continued cleaning out your side of the bedroom. Most of the books under the nightstand are being donated (the rule is, if I don’t see myself reading these books – and they don’t have any notes from you in them, so I don’t, for theContinue reading “These Can’t Be Keepsakes…?”

Never All At Once

Dearest Rachel – As frustrating as dealing with Chompers can be, one of the most difficult has been the fact that he never seems to be satisfied with what he has or where he is. As a result, there are times when all the boxes are ticked – he’s been fed (although that only happensContinue reading “Never All At Once”

Cleaned Out

Dearest Rachel – Here’s something you probably didn’t ever get to see once we moved into this house some twenty-five years ago: That’s it. That’s the corner of the laundry room where all the dirty clothes would be piled up awaiting processing. We (and by ‘we,’ I admit it almost always meant ‘you,’ with theContinue reading “Cleaned Out”

What You Considered Important

Dearest Rachel – I hope you don’t mind too much, but I’ve jailbroken four of the computers you left behind. There was a span of time when I couldn’t get into any of them unless I was listed as a secondary user, and could log in with my own Microsoft password. And the alleged RosettaContinue reading “What You Considered Important”

The Legend of Bryan Hamilton

Dearest Rachel – You already know the bulk of this story, but Jan and I have just written what basically amounts to the final chapter of this story, and I figure I might as well fill you in on it while I tell the full story to anyone else who might be interested. The tooContinue reading “The Legend of Bryan Hamilton”

Jan Would Like A Word

Dearest Rachel – I think I may have mentioned it to you previously, but today’s work on the laundry room – and your closet – have reminded me to remind you that you may need to prepare yourself for when Jan gets up to see you someday. It seems she would like to talk toContinue reading “Jan Would Like A Word”

Empathy… Suitcase?

Dearest Rachel – The “Empathy Doll Shot” is a trope whose name might be unfamiliar, but when you see it, you know what it’s all about. That item left behind that you, the viewer, would recognize as ‘that thing is supposed to have an owner,’ followed by the realization as to why there is noContinue reading “Empathy… Suitcase?”

Things I Never Dreamed I’d Do

Dearest Rachel – I’m gonna nudge the fourth wall yet again tonight, as I wait for Chompers to fall asleep, I’m going to mention the fact that any time I talk about the old boy, I seem to get a lot more people actually reading my post. I don’t know why; this whole series ofContinue reading “Things I Never Dreamed I’d Do”

The Ledger

Dearest Rachel – I’ve mentioned this speech before, and I’m sure I’ll mention bits of it in future, but here it is as we first encountered it, for the benefit of those following us: The reason it came to mind today was because (in preparation for Jan’s visit today) I was going through more ofContinue reading “The Ledger”

Burninatin’

Dearest Rachel – Today’s letter was supposed to be about heading up to Camp Awana for a budget meeting, and my concerns about seeing the place for the first time since the accident. However, one of the guys I was to ride up there with got sick (again, probably just a cold rather than Covid,Continue reading “Burninatin’”

The Joy of Introductions

Dearest Rachel – At the risk of leaning hard against the fourth wall, I’m fully aware that you will never read a word of these letters; they are, rather, a way for me to memorialize you before the potential world that is the internet. Would that everyone had met you while you still walked theContinue reading “The Joy of Introductions”

Postpone-Mints

Dearest Rachel – So I came home early today from the ‘office’ (actually, I wasn’t at the office all that long today, since I was meeting Pastor Scott for lunch. It still takes some getting used to meeting him as a peer and friend, rather than in a pastor-to-congregant basis), because Jan warned me sheContinue reading “Postpone-Mints”

Convention Season

Dearest Rachel – Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve booked a room at the Marriott Coralville for the AnimeIowa weekend. Without your help. All by myself. Yeah… all by myself. All… by… myself. I remember you watching the feed on Twitch last year when AnimeCentral did its virtual convention. You were sobbing as youContinue reading “Convention Season”

Ghost in the Machine

Dearest Rachel – Jan can be a real hoot sometimes (and in so doing, she manages to take the most bitter edge off of everything we’ve been finding as we go through the house). Her happy dance when she finds hidden money – and there’s been a lot of it scattered throughout the place; you’veContinue reading “Ghost in the Machine”

The Things We Find

Dearest Rachel – Another day of cleaning the house today, honey Thought we might curve around the wall and dig out the television pedestal (and stash a pile of VHS tapes and DVDs in the process), but it seems Jan would rather we excavate the dining room table instead. Actually, that probably makes more sense.Continue reading “The Things We Find”

Paranoia Over the Perfectly Normal

Dearest Rachel – So last night, I could feel the beginnings of a raw throat as I prepared for bed. And sure enough, this morning I woke up with a cough, sneezing and a runny nose. In a normal year, we would know that this would be the beginning of a garden variety 24-48 hourContinue reading “Paranoia Over the Perfectly Normal”

from Rachel: Absolution

Dearest Rachel – Normally, I would put one of your notes up on Sunday morning, as they mostly come from sermon notes and bible studies. But upon discovering this barely half an hour before Jan was to arrive this morning, I had to include it here and now: It’s as if, after the awful up-and-downContinue reading “from Rachel: Absolution”

Dumpster Dive

Dearest Rachel – There are times while she’s working that Jan encourages me to get out of the house. Now, sometimes it’s just the fact that I have appointments to keep, and she’s giving me an “I got this” type of reassurance. Other times, she senses I have work to do at the ‘office,’ andContinue reading “Dumpster Dive”

A Place in the Sun(room)

Dearest Rachel – As Jan and I move from room to room in our cleaning efforts, we’re starting to get into places where the trash is tangled up with the treasures. Notes and nothings mingle together, and aside from the sanctum sanctorum that is our bedroom, nowhere is more complicated in this respect than theContinue reading “A Place in the Sun(room)”

So Many Little Things

Dearest Rachel – You know I began this site as a form of therapy – a way to reach out to you despite knowing full well that you would see neither a word nor a pixel of it. It made a sort of bookending sense – we started our courtship by writing letters to eachContinue reading “So Many Little Things”

The Fate of the TIE Fighter

Dearest Rachel – This probably shouldn’t come as any great surprise, honey, but as we’ve been going through the basement, we have been finding things from so far back that we just can’t hang on to anymore. Not just because of the mice – although that’s certainly contributed to the need to dispose of theseContinue reading “The Fate of the TIE Fighter”

A Ton of Memories

Dearest Rachel – I think these letters will, for a while, come more frequently, but be considerably shorter than originally intended. There’s no point in trying to put together the disjointed activity of a given day when the ups and downs are such that it would give someone whiplash. Best just to observe a singleContinue reading “A Ton of Memories”

Funny Papers

Dearest Rachel – As a fellow collector of comic books and authors, I understood what you were doing. Since we didn’t get the newspaper anymore (more on that later), you would, every time you went to visit your parents – and later, every time we would visit Twofeathers at your parents’ home – you wouldContinue reading “Funny Papers”