Category Archives: Blogging

Wayne

Wayne and me 2013

On September 15, 2006 I joined a group of bloggers in a 365 project where we’d write about someone we knew in as many words as our current age. Through that project I met many wonderful people and through those people I ended up meeting Wayne McNeill.

Regardless of when I first met Wayne, for years I thought his name was Deloney because that’s the name he blogged under. He was pretty much the only male in our group of bloggers. On one of his now-gone blogs he writes: “As of this month I’ve been blogging for seven years. And what do I have to show for it? Chicks! Some really hot chicks! Fame has eluded me but my words were not wasted. 🙂” referring, I think, to his group of women followers.

Unfortunately he deleted most of his blogs. I think the only one left is Green Moleskine Notebook. Also, if you know the URLs of his old blogs, you can find some posts on the Wayback Machine. I plan to copy as many posts as I can and save them somewhere.

Wayne and I interacted through his blogs and friends’ blogs. Since May 2009 most of our interactions have been through Facebook — status pages and Facebook’s Messenger. Until just now I didn’t realize how many times we’d chatted.

Wayne was a poet. His writing could make me laugh. It could also make me cry. It was always wonderful, insightful and delightful. His book, Songbook for Haunted Girls and Boys, was full of his prose-poetry, each poem exquisite.

Wayne was a loving husband to Beth who he lost about 4 years ago. In a FB chat message to me shortly after Beth’s death, he wrote: “To this day I don’t really know what it was. From day one Beth and I clicked. It’s not as though every day was perfect. We had our rows like everyone does. But not once in 34 years did we ever consider breaking up. We were slowly turning into the same person, which is why it’s so hard for me to be without her now.

We met in September 2013 when Dean and I were in Niagara Falls, Canada for a few days and drove to Toronto to have drinks with him and Beth. Wayne and I spoke on the phone shortly before Beth’s death, just after he’d taken her to the emergency room and learned that she had terminal cancer. I was awake at about one in the morning when he posted his phone number on Facebook asking for someone to call him.

Wayne left this world on May 22, 2021 and I learned of it in the past couple of weeks. He left it far too early for me, but perhaps too late for him. I don’t think he ever got over losing Beth. He never seemed to be the same in his Facebook posts.

Dinner at Jacobi's

Welcome to the Northwoods! Dean and I heard about Jacobi’s from the Pasholks (who hated it but thought we might like it). We did. In fact we liked it so much we chose it for our 30th anniversary dinner (instead of a trip to New Zealand or Newfoundland). Really good restaurants are hard to come by in Northern Wisconsin, but Jacobi’s is definitely a really good restaurant. I chose it because I have history in the area and I love the restaurant. I think you will too.

It’s Saturday, August 18, 2021. The United States has a new (Democratic) president and both the House and Senate have Democratic majorities. As for COVID-19, social distancing worked and the spread of the disease slowed. There is now a vaccine for the virus as well as highly effective treatment. It’s still out there, but with the vaccine and treatment, the world is back to normal.

We step out of the 2021 Subaru Outback equipped with the time and place travel module in front of Jacobi’s of Hazelhurst in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin. The Outback stopped at each of our homes on March 21, 2020 (March 22 in NZ) to pick us up for a dinner in a better future.

The outside of Jacobi’s is unassuming, but when you walk through the door and see the beautiful (and fully-stocked) wooden bar, you know you are in a special place. We have a seat at the bar. I order an old fashioned, and encourage the rest of you to do the same. Susan, who has given up alcohol, has sparkling water (unless, because this is a fantasy, you would like an old fashioned as well?) We’re loud, we know that, but we’ve been friends for over ten years and most of us have never met.

We’re seated in the back room. The one with the fireplace. Even if this is summer, let’s say the fireplace is lit and we’re near enough to it to feel cozy but not close enough to be too hot. Wisconsin late summers can be cool. We examine the menu.

The server brings us fresh baked bread and butter along with a complimentary appetizer of fresh watermelon, feta and balsamic vinegar. She asks us what we’d like for drinks and if we want appetizers. Helen orders dry red wine (a whole bottle!), onion rings and garlic bread (to share). Mali orders spinach artichoke dip to share and a glass of California Chardonnay. IB and Bridgett both order a boulevardier. Maureen orders something, but I cannot hear her over the talking. Susan sticks with sparkling water with a twist of lime (unless, since this is a fantasy…) and Kim orders a drink I’ve never heard of with top-shelf gin. I decide to move onto wine, and order a chardonnay.

Our drinks and appetizers arrive and we talk about our lives and how happy we are finally together in the same place. The food is exquisite as always.

The server returns for our dinner order. Helen orders spinach and garlic tortellini, Mali decides on the blackened chicken pasta but substitutes the chicken with blackened shrimp, I choose the pan fried walleye because walleye is one of my favorite fish. Susan asks if the chef can make her a salad for dinner because salad is Susan’s favorite food. The server assures Susan the chef will make a special salad with berries, nuts, heirloom lettuce, blackened chicken and hard boiled eggs. Bridgett chooses the black angus ribeye — because it is unadorned except for au jus. Maureen orders the pork tenderloin after making sure there were no almonds or anything made with almonds in the dish. IB selects the shrimp and tenderloin en brochette. Kim decides on the honey ginger grilled salmon. We order another bottle of dry red and chardonnay to share.

Our dinners arrive, and a few minutes of quiet descend on us while we enjoy our meals, the only sounds are murmurs of appreciation and a sigh or two. We’re all curious about Susan’s salad, it looks so delicious and healthy.

When the server asks if we would like to see the desert menu, Mali and Helen both order the double chocolate truffle pie. Maureen and Bridgett order the blueberry pie (which contains no almonds so Maureen is safe). I convince the rest of you (except Susan) to have ice cream drinks. I order a pink squirrel and Kim and IB order grasshoppers.

After dinner we sit back in our chairs and talk some more, more subdued now. We want the evening to go on and on, but we are needed back home. We hug goodbye. We climb into the Outback and are whisked back to our individual isolations in the midst of an unbelievable pandemic.