Five Year Plan

Following a pattern well established by the Soviet leaders of old, I launched Trail Baboon on June 3, 2010 with a grandiose five year plan for world domination.

I had just been tossed from a job I’d held for twenty five years at the place where I’d worked for more than thirty.  During most of those years I’d been writing fake ads,  joke essays, sing-song poems,  and phony conversations with preposterous characters.

It was fun, and while my employers weren’t exactly paying me to do it,  they didn’t withhold my pay to make me stop.  I took that as tacit approval.

So when the gig ended I felt a strong desire to maintain my daily writing habit in case a sudden demand surfaced for random acts of topical whimsy.

The plan in the back of my mind was this – that the blog would become a widely-read creative and conversational spark plug and the audience would grow to such levels that the entire enterprise would turn into a financially self supporting side industry that could continue whether I was otherwise employed – or not.

Today it is my delightful duty  to declare that thanks to the tireless work of the People’s Blogging Army and a prodigious daily output of pithy remarks by the People’s Baboon Commentariat, our ambitious five year plan has led to spectacular successes on every front and all our dreaded foes have been humbled.

Which is Soviet shorthand for this – not a single one of the above mentioned goals was achieved.

But in the process we’ve had some wonderful fun while a loyal community has gathered to meander down the Trail Baboon. With an occasional hiccup, I have posted either here, or at the companion site, The Baboondocks, six days a week, every week, for sixty months.

The most rewarding aspect has been the fine writing and camaraderie that has developed in the comments section, powered by a diverse cast of characters that no one could invent.

Today you are reading post 1,397. Lest anyone think I am claiming credit for all that, 231 of those posts were written by readers – the famed Baboon Congress.  But at the end of this week we’ll hit 1,400 posts – high time to take a bit of a rest.

So after posting this Saturday, June 6th, I’m giving myself a three month sabbatical – some necessary time and space to take a look at how I schedule my days and where I spend my energy. And an opportunity to enjoy these precious summer evenings doing something other than hunching over a computer – just to see how that feels.

I’ll weigh in from time to time if the moment is right and other commitments align.  Some baboons are working on guest essays – I’ll happily post them when they come in.  But one of the beauties of a blog is that it need not follow any set schedule.  Trail Baboon and The Baboondocks will remain in place and open for comment while I rest.

And the internet is wide and deep and there are many other places to go where like-minded Baboons can have a conversation.

I know I don’t need to remind you of this – but like Dorothy and that thing with clicking her heels to go home, everyone has the power to create a blog.    Some already have – note that in the left margin of the screen we have  existing links to Blevins’ Book Club,  A Neo-Renaissance Writer, and The View From Birchwood Hill.

Describe a sabbatical you took and what it meant to you.



90 thoughts on “Five Year Plan”

    1. Gosh, don’t feel crushed, Wes. I need a break and maybe everyone else does also. I’m pleased to be listed in such stellar company though. Colbert and Stewart are favorites.


      1. I’m sure everyone feels that you are allowed a break, Dale. However I’m sure that most of us don’t need a break from you!!!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. And in several years Barack Obama gets his sabbatical–adding to the shine of the list! Maybe he will be our Dear Leader here on the Trail!


  1. I took on a job that I was mostly qualified for, seemed like it would suit my talents and interests and turned out to have parts of it that were just not a good fit or that I wound up dreading. So I got brave, told my boss I’d work until he found a replacement and then took a sabbatical. Wasn’t long – a few months – but long enough to take a breath and figure out what I really wanted to be next when I grew up. Along with that, I volunteered at the Guthrie doing hand sewing in their costume shop – which meant I sewed a lot of buttons, put in a a lot of labels so the wardrobe folks would know who belonged to which white shirt, learned how to rig a shirt for a quick change and earned the gratitude of the regular shop workers who hated sewing labels. (Can’t remember what the show was other than that the cast was huge and some of them played multiple roles, so lots of costume pieces to be labeled.) It might be harder to do that now with a kid to keep in food and clothing – at the time it was me and my pooch – but I am so glad I did it. And, because I was patient and allowed myself to wait for the right gig and not just an expedient one, I wound up at a job I truly enjoyed with great folks and stayed there for 8+ years.


    1. Also: enjoy the time off from the Trail Dale. I had Facebook remind me a day or two ago that it was five years ago that the announcement came out that RH was to be Dale-less. Sniff. This has been a lot of good, fun, silly writing and reading. A balm for the soul. Especially on those days when the world seems awful, it’s good to know there are Baboons in the world.


      1. I posted many things on FB for six years, never getting a single comment or “like”. My feelings were hurt, so I quit. Last week, I realized that I’d never hit “enter”. Geesh.


        1. You need to be paying better attention, Cb. It’s simply not true that you have never gotten a single comment or “like.” I can recall specific instances of both “likes” and comments to your posts.


        2. My mistake. Thanks, Lisa, and sorry Cb. You just need some different FB friends. Cb.


  2. Well deserved, Dale. I think that Baboons can take this post and continue commenting here until another post appears. Maybe it will inspire those of us who have never created a post to do so. [Note: I said “maybe”]. Of course, I speak as one of the not-so-regulars. I’m sure that the distraughtitude of the usual suspects will probably be more pronounced.


  3. Happy time off, Dale. After our son was born in Winnipeg we moved to southern Indiana for a year while husband did his clinical internship. I stayed at home with our infant son and worked on my Master’s thesis. I consider it a sabbatical since I only worked a little from time to time. Interns aren’t paid much, so my “sabbatical” was dampened by lack of funds, but it was still a good time off. Since son was 10 weeks premature, I needed some extra time to bond with him. Our town had a wonderful public library and I found other things to do in the community.

    I will send photos and my promised guest post this evening, by the way.


  4. Rise and Rest Dale!

    A well-deserved break Dale. But meanwhile, could you repost the instructions for us to post without your assistance. I have had many ideas to write and I have not done them because I lost the original instructions.


    1. Hi Jacque,
      Baboons who have accepted a “contributor” role on the Trail can simply sign into wordpress and choose Trail Baboon from “my sites”. You’ll be able to write a post but you’ll need to send me a note to get it published. As administrator of the site, only I have the power to do that!


  5. I thought it was amazing that you could write all of those great blog postings day after day, Dale. I certainly think that you have every right to take a break now and any time whenever you want to do it. Many, many thanks for starting and keeping your blog going.

    As far as I’m concerned, a blog with a close knit community of followers, as is the case with Trail Baboon, is the best and better than one that reaches a larger audience making it commercially successful. If Trail Baboon had become or could become commercially successful, I wouldn’t be against that, although I think it is a great success in it’s current form.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for the compliments, Jim. TB is successful! But it also represents a time and energy commitment that hasn’t diminished much over five years although I’ve tried several strategies to make it easier.
      Part of what I need to do over the next few months is to carefully consider how to sustain the things I enjoy.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I haven’t been commenting here much lately, but rest assured I’ve been reading and enjoying every morning before plunging into the paperwork maelstrom. Dale’s voice will be missed, but at least we can look forward to his return (we can, can’t we?).

    I took a sabbatical right after graduating high school. I’d gotten no counseling, career or otherwise, and I had no idea at all what to do with my life. For a few months I didn’t do much more than read everything the county library system had on feminism, a period I call my “deprogramming” from 12 years of extremely conservative religious schooling (fortunately, my parents had no plans for my room!). At the end of that, I got a job as a library aide and decided to apply for community college to get my basics before deciding on a major.

    I took another semi-sabbatical 7-8 years ago, after the program I nicknamed “paralegal boot camp,” which was a 4-month intensive training. Not only had I worked hard at that, my adoptive dad had died right at the beginning of the program, so I was a little fried. I applied for a few temp agencies and waited for a call–I was still substituting at two county library systems, but I dialed that back a little and lived off my dad’s insurance money until a very nice temp job came my way that summer.

    I doubt I’ll get another sabbatical until retirement, assuming I ever can retire, but it’d be really nice to have a bit of paid vacation time…


  7. I’ve just had two “sabbaticals”. I had some serious surgery that needed about 8 weeks of recovery time – got a lot of reading done, but not much else useful. At least it was during the summer, so I could sit and read outside. Second was maternity leave… although my company wouldn’t call it maternity leave since I hadn’t given birth… 3 months home with Baby. Quite nice!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. It does indeed. Paternity leave is a real and named thing. I’ve known several young dads to take it.

          Getting any of that as PAID time off is something else again.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. My Corporate America HR dept calls it “family leave.” We may not be saving the world through consumer electronics, but they get the inclusive language thing at least some of the time.


  8. Good for you, Dale. As soon as I began understanding and participating in the blogging world, I quickly realized that most blogs will die a slow death because no one, and I mean no one, can come up with that much interesting writing daily or near daily for decades at a time. They can write daily drivel, but not quality stuff.

    You’re writing has been of high quality since the beginning, a rarity. It’s also engaging, judging by the daily comments of a core of regular readers. Have a great sabbatical, and we’ll keep the embers burning her at TB while you’re away.

    Bbest wishes,

    Chris in Owatonna
    (who struggles with his own blog just to write one or two posts per month!)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I had that sinking feeling as I began reading this morning’s post of where it was headed. You’ll be missed, Dale, but the time off is well deserved. I have marveled at your ability to keep that stream of creativity flowing.

    I don’t know that it would be accurate to describe the year off between quitting my job at the law firm and starting at the alternative school as a sabbatical, but what the heck, let’s go with it.

    My parents had both passed away within a six month period, and I had inherited a small sum so was able to muddle through for a year with only husband’s income. I spent the time walking, thinking and reading and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I needed the break from the corporate craziness, but was neither ready nor able to retire.

    Now that I’m retired, I’m truly grateful. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on how lucky and blessed I am.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I wish I could be lighthearted about this development. I have expected this for a long time, and yet that is no comfort. There was a time when I could not imagine how I would start my day without the Morning Show to make it joyful. And then that happened, with TLGMS joining “The Far Side” and “Calvin and Hobbes” and other daily delights that disappeared. We lost “Prairie Home Companion” several times–how many, precisely, I have forgotten–only to see it come back. But some day fairly soon, we will lose it again and it will not come back.

    I often try to disguise it, but my view of such things is essentially tragic. All the sweet things in life are precious partly because they are temporary gifts, with life as the most precious (and improbable) temporary gift of all. What works best is being grateful for the flowers we encounter on the path of life and carrying on gracefully when they fade. Trail Baboon has been one of the most precious gifts in my life, and I probably benefited from this glorious little group more than any other person. Beautiful things have beginnings, middles and ends. We should not gnash our teeth when a bit of joy comes to an end.

    If Dale’s sabbatical itself comes to an end, I’ll celebrate that. Until then, I offer a heartfelt “Thank You” to Dale and all you other wonderful folks.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Your lovely comments remind me of the creation and destruction of a sand mandala by Tibetan monks. This process was part of a Werner Herzog film (below), and it was even woven into the plot line of an episode of “House of Cards”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m remembering one of the times Garrison quit the Morning Show. The next day I was glowering at my coffee mug, feeling worse than I’ve felt in the morning without the benefit of a hangover. Listeners had been calling in to express their grief. Garrison mentioned that he’d gotten a call from a listener who actually got it. “He said he understood,” said Garrison, “for he’d once had a morning paper route.”

        I think this is the third or fourth time I’ve had to say goodbye to you. In each case I hope I’ve made clear how grateful I’ve been for the joy of your company. It seems God is determined to force me to learn how to get up in the morning without the gift of your company.


  11. Bout time, Dale
    I will try to get one in. I am on an art and other writing hiatus. I will aim to do one a week. Anyone else up to it?


        1. Or it email it to Dale. You have to email anything other than text even if you are signed on.


    1. Realistically, I won’t do one a week…but I certainly can try to do more than one a year, or whatever it’s been lately!


  12. As a teacher I had a two month hiatus every summer. I used June to write my text books and instructional materials, and the rewrite them each year, or retouch them. At the end of June I had the next year ready, which made the hiatus all that grander.


  13. Completely understand, Dale, and I’m amazed that you’ve gone this long without a break! I did a weekly podcast with a friend for nearly a year but I bailed at about 11 months. Recording a podcast every Wednesday until 1:30am and then getting up for work just wasn’t good for me after a while.

    Hm…been looking to get my writing bug buzzing again…maybe this is a nudge. (snap, snap, grin, grin, wink, wink, nudge, nudge…)


    1. When I turned 55 I sent my mother a sympathy card; I wrote “Sympathy on having a daughter old enough for the senior discount at Perkins.

      Liked by 6 people

  14. I too have wondered how long you could continue at this pace, Dale. The sabbatical will be lovely, just think, only one job! I hope we’ll see you again in some way.

    How much time have you got? First sabbatical was the year I finally taught in the public schools and finally got a summer off, as I didn’t have to work those months to make ends meet. The next one was for a few months in 1978 when I moved in with roommates – I had saved up enough money to float me for a few months while I figured out what I wanted to do next. (One of the roommates is now Husband…) Then after I sold my little book business, I worked for the buyer for six months while she learned the ropes. Our personalities didn’t exactly mesh, and I really needed a break – took the second half of ’93. Then I worked for 6 years at a job I love, took a break between the ending of that company and my Birchbark Books phase… Yikes, I’ve had a lot of sabbaticals, the last two of which were made possible by Husband’s contributions.


  15. This has been great Dale– good on you for knowing enough to take a break.

    Back in 1996,I burned out on theater. I can picture the place; State Theater, standing in the upper lobby over that mall. We were watching ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ and it was intermission and I stood out there looking at that ‘head’ sculpture and I thought ‘This show is literally dark; I can’t tell what’s happening. This is stupid, why am I here, why am I doing theater? I don’t want to do this anymore.’
    And we got back to Rochester and I finished up my commitments and at midnight of whatever day that was when strike was over, I handed in my keys and turned my company shirt inside out and that was it.
    Well, for a couple years.
    And then someone called from a new theater. And it was a different place with different equipment and different people. (The Jon Hassler Theater).

    A few years later I decided It was time to stop milking cows. Course that wasn’t a ‘sabbatical’ as much as a change of lifestyle.
    But both have turned out OK.

    Have fun Dale. Enjoy yourself and what ever new adventures come your way!


  16. Oh Dale, along with the rest of the troop, I understand and support your decision and your admirable fortitude in keeping on keeping on as long as you have. I admit to a strong hope that you’ll miss it, and come back to some version of the trail when you’re ready. I know we can carry on, even without regular daily starters. Guest blogs will certainly be welcome but just an opening line from the first baboon awake will probably get the ball rolling. The twists and turns of the trail and the troop have often obscured the original path you set us on; although it won’t be the same without your insights, humor, and slightly cockeyed point of view to start the day.

    Maybe once a week or so we could resurrect a golden oldie from the archives and rehash that past day’s theme with your words to get the juices flowing.

    Enjoy the summer but please stop by and say hi when it seems like the thing to do.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Dale – thank you so so much for inspiring us for so long. My brother opened this door for me a few years ago and I, like all of the others, look forward to daily conversations with such intelligent, educated, fun folks.

    I seem to recall sometime in the last year that you wrote you’d only be posting weekly? Then, it seems, you got caught up in daily once again?
    I’m worried about how the Trail will continue on (the mechanics) or if it will without your guidance. I don’t know if there’ll be enough regular guest stories to carry it forward. I’m worried it’ll just disappear altogether without your daily contributions. There seems to be a big difference between what you write than other Baboons: people respond to your stories as if they’re dropped on us, but a guest spot elicits mostly personal responses to the author of the story.

    Again, thank you for being in this world and actively engaging us.


  18. Like other Baboons, I have been expecting this day to come.

    Along with Jacque, I need to see the directions for self-posting. I don’t think I processed that info when it first came out as I knew there was no way I would get anything written, but I’d like to get into the habit.

    I don’t feel I have ever actually had a sabbatical (does working for someone who was taking one count?), and being fully self-employed, I doubt my slave-driver boss is going to give me one. I do hope you enjoy yours as much as I imagine I would.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had no idea the video for this song was like this. Just about killing me.
        S&h got the letter yesterday telling him he has been accepted to start taking regular college courses through the U next year through the PSEO program. Geez, he even thinks I know what I am talking about when I give advice. Can’t thank you enough, Dale, for being the soundtrack of my boy’s childhood.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. woo hoo s&h!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          donft worry mig. the day will come soon enough that yo will not be up on that pedistal. or maybe its just me.


        2. My Niece the Younger went to the U through PSEO. She is going on 22 now, with a 2-year head start on, and a lot less student loan debt than, her contemporaries. Good move.


      2. OT but related to this song. At BelovedCamp we have community singing twice a day with eclectic music. One year this song was on the songsheet and the leaders noticed that I was singing it with great feeling and gusto. On a day later in the week, they asked if I would lead it. I was honored to do so.
        That was the one year that wasband and I both attended BelovedCamp after the divorce. We had made it through the week pretty well, being civil and avoiding each other for the most part.
        The song leaders decided, clearly without thinking much about it (or were they?) to have wasband lead a different song and follow it immediately by having me lead this song. I was pretty mortified as our divorce was NOT The End of the World for me. (now if HE had led this song, it would have been more fitting if not as well sung).

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I hope no minds if I post this a second time today after first posting it under Captain Billy’s entry about earthquakes.

    OT Another problem waiting to happen, and already starting to happen, which is as bad or worse than earthquakes is climate warming. This Saturday you can join a march and rally in St. Paul which is part of an effort to deal with climate change.

    People from across the Midwest will be gathering at Lambert Landing at 12 noon to march to the capital for a rally there which starts at 2. Bill Mckibben is speaking at the rally. Lambert Landing is near the Union Depot on the river. This march and rally is part of an effort by MN and other groups to prevent the building and expansion of pipelines designed to carry tar sands oil from Canada into the United States. I hope to see a contingent of Baboons at this event.

    More information about this march and rally can be found at:

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Any time that I could have used to take a sabbatical was used working on something or another including looking for a new job. I think I might have done better if I had taken some time off to think about my options.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. damn the 14th in my daughters golden birthday there is no way i can do a 2 oclock. i enjoyed my book this time. have a good one without me on the 14th. i missed the conflict until now. damn.


  21. Aw, man…

    We will miss you, Dale, but you deserve some time off. I don’t know how you’ve managed to keep posting something nearly every day for so long – heck, I can’t even keep up reading and commenting on them, so it boggles my mind how you can come up with something new day after day after day.

    A sabbatical? Closest I ever got to that was after a surgery. Three weeks were supposed to get me halfway to “fully recovered. ” Ha. Not even close to fully recovered, but I had to get back at it anyway.

    More recently was my trip out west this past March. Never had anything like that before – a trip far away and All By Myself. Which reminds me: I was going to write at least two more guest posts about that. Time to blast past that darn writer’s block and get something down. If the words don’t come, I’ll write a couple sentences and put up lots of photos.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!

    i wake up in a cold sweat realizing the world can change and leave you out in the cold with the slightest tweak of a little detail the loss of the morning dale is just such a tweak. i hate bill kling to this day and ive never met the son of a bitch . now who can i vent over dales turning inward and taking care of his need too do something else with the two hours plus a day he spends that we benefit from.
    i can thank you dale for the gifts youve provided. the smiles the tears the aha moments the little self discoveries youve initiated the friends the ability to nail a thought sort of and the countless realazations i have come up with on related conversations. i can not believe how often i quote the blog or the thoughts and topics i have tuned in on becaise of the direction of the fearless leader here on the trail
    im in there clyde . ill take a day a week if the rest of you slugs can kick in for the other 4 days we can make it throug the summer.
    dale i always thoght i would be able to go on forever if i had a week a month to travel the world. im not quite there yet but i get it. the idea of freedom does have its appeal to a soul doesnt it? whats that sappy saying about if you love someone set the free and if they return then it was meant to be or some such crap…. everytime i have had that thought its been bye bye life as i knew it and on to the next adaptation of life without that thing i enjoyed. i hope this isnt a repeat. but in reality you are a sick dog dale and someone had to knock some sense into you it may as well be you.
    the ability to come up with a complete nugget every damn day is phenominal. the baboondocks was a good idea. remember…. three or foru sentances tht would be the fix for a day until time allowed. i used to quit smoking the same way as you slow down from your creative juice fix. not too sucdcessfully. i would hoe we can at least saddle you with saturday posts until you are dead and clyde and i can take a day until clydes fingers give out and sherrileepj linda holly steve jacque renee anna ljb mig bir jim ben and chitrader wessew and the ocdcasionall coarline lisa and the ones i am forgetting (.if didnt leave someone out and misspell a word it wouldnt be for real would it?) can handle the other 4 days with a tuesday thursday contribution for the archives. maybe we can ask linda to write the continuing saga of the vase monkey series
    i hate it when i have to admit that life goes on and i have to put on my big boy pants and act tlike i am capable fo taking the next step standing up tall and taking a long stron srtide. i feel insoide like i want to curl up with my blankie and turn on leave it beaver and do a mindless sidestep where i dont have to thinl about losong somethig i love. i know its not fir but damn i hate ending the good stuff. thank you dale for 1300 blogs that were outstanding. we will let the 100 so so ones go unmentioned
    sayng good bye to capn billly senator loomis beechley dr babooner and all the rest is like attending a funeral for a town. this is a community and it is all your doing dale. like ben said good on you for looking after you. but damn dale …. damn

    Liked by 1 person

  23. never had a damn sabbatical i went to atlanta to see the olympics at a buddies invitation only to discover he didnt mean to join me just to invite me. i found out i really like what i really like and come up with great stuff when left to my own devices. it is liberating to be the one at the helm.
    enjoy the helm dale and have a great summer.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I just had an idea for the fall, as it is too late this time of year. I wonder if we could encourage guest posts from budding writers at the middle school, high school,and college level using our teacher contacts in various schools and colleges. Teachers could submit promising work, young writers could see their work on an official blog, and we and whoever else could comment.


    1. sounds like you are ready to branch out and start a new one renee. ill bet the following among young writers would be but im not sure those snot nose little twits would get the proper introduction to writers workshop here on the trail, renees real good writers /// its got kind o a nice wring to it


  25. No true sabbaticals for me. When I’ve been between jobs, I’ve been too focused on finding the next job to really hit the “off” switch.

    I’d like to wade into the guest blog waters from time to time. Can’t promise to come up with great quantities of posts, but I can probably pledge to improve on my past output; I’ve written one guest blog in five years, so not a high bar.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Dale,
    My hope is that doesn’t end up like the Chinese reorganizations where your sabbatical is not just from the blog but from the larger world. We should be happy to return your evenings to you and Nancy with the same wistfulness we felt when we lost you and TLGMS but as baboons we can still stamp our feet, throw some banana peels and demand not regular blogs but occasional comments and appearances with assurance that you are still on the trail of life with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve seen the little girl having a tantrum in front of the President? That’s how I feel today. Thanks to Dale for all the insights and chuckles. We await your return.


  27. Interesting. Great to see that your blog worked out pretty well.

    My blog is exclusively (almost….) about India Population, and creating awareness. If you or any of your authors are even a little curious about what India Population means to the world at large, then check out my blog at:

    I would love to guest blog at your site! 🙂

    Thanks & Best Regards!


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