My fascination with Candy Crush Saga has come to a close after I would guess 5+ months of off-and-on play. I hadn't been playing the game much over the last month and when I did open it up recently I realized that it no longer held my interest at all. My avatar will forever remain positioned at level 257 on the Candy Crush highway.
Winter weather settled in over much the country this last week. We're coping with double-digit below zero temps at night and temperatures that struggle to get much above zero during the day. Having this cold air descend on us after a wet snowfall didn't help because so many of the roads were left quite slick and unaffected by deicers. Not good for biking but of course I wasn't going to let that keep me down.
We had a fun 3 hours in the studio Friday morning. Traffic was backed up on our way there because of a multi-car collision and in our conversation to kill time the name Herman Munster from The Munsters oddly enough came up. Tammy did a search on her iPhone and started digging up trivia on the actor who played him and trivia on some of the other cast members from the show. Our curiosity eventually led us to The Addams Family and some of the actors in that series. "What about Lurch" I asked. Lurch was played by Ted Cassidy and he died at the young age of 46 after complications from open-heart surgery in 1979. Uncle Fester, played by Jackie Coogan began acting as a child and was discovered by Charlie Chaplin at a vaudeville house. The California Child Actor's Bill, often referred to as the Coogan Law requires that 15% of earnings of child actors be set aside in a trust. Coogan had earned an estimated $3 to $4 million as a child star but saw virtually none of it. His mother and step-father spent it on an extravagant lifestyle and claimed that "No promises were ever made to give Jackie anything. Every dollar a kid earns before he is 21 belongs to his parents. Jackie will not get a cent of his earnings" and claimed that "Jackie was a bad boy." He would later sue them but only recover $126,000 of the remaining $250,000 of what was left of his earnings. He died in 1984 at the age of 69.
Traffic-jam trivia makes a nice pass-time.
After we finished in the studio we walked through the catacomb of hallways that lead to Peter Zelle's studio and spent some time with him while admiring his work. Peter does a wide variety of art-glass work but what intrigued us most were his larger pieces that he's been working on lately. He casts them in clay first and then makes plaster molds from the clay molds which he uses to fire glass into. The pieces are so large that he needs to allow for a two week step-down cooling cycle on his kiln to prevent the pieces from cracking. The sunlight streaming into his studio lit them up beautifully!
Tammy found a smaller piece that we both like a lot and it now sits on a shelf in our sun-porch.
Tammy's birthday was this past Thursday. We spent the day together kicking around at the mall and attended a wine tasting later in the evening with Karen. We'd wait until Friday night to go out to dinner together at our favorite place, Outback Steakhouse. It's a casual place and we like that, plus, we've never been disappointed with the service or food there.
I got out in below zero temps Saturday afternoon for a ride down by the river. I put my bike in the bed of my truck and drove to a parking lot along the trail off 35W. Wearing the right clothes is so important to being comfortable especially in those conditions and typically the mistake people make is in overdressing. You can easily overheat and becoming too sweaty in those temps isn't a good thing. I felt great out there but after an hour my toes began to chill and by the time I returned to my truck a little over 90 minutes later they were biting cold. I use Lake boots which are some of the best but even they struggle in those temps.
Monday afternoon's ride was an adventure. It began on dry roads but by the time I returned home I was cycling inside a snow-globe. The most difficult part was keeping snow off the lenses of my glasses with huge wet flakes falling at such a heavy rate. My Mukluk was rock-steady allowing me to have a blast out there!
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
We had a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. Tammy had to work until 7:30 Thanksgiving night but she still managed to put together a delicious meal for the two of us. I'm not much of a cook but I hope to change that in retirement.
Speaking of retirement. We were talking this past week about things we'd both like to do together when we reach that point. Tammy mentioned loaning out our services to elderly people to help them with cleaning and yard work. I think that's a really good idea and something I would enjoy doing. We've also talked about working with at-risk inner-city kids in whatever ways we could be used. We'll begin to narrow our focus once we get closer to actually making the leap.
Pope Francis has my attention. I've never in my life been interested in anything the Popes have had to say over the years but this guy is different. I very much appreciate his mindset and his approach to life. But can his words change the strong convictions of those who disagree with him? I'm far from perfect and am reluctant to cast stones at others but can we agree that if Jesus was here in the flesh among us he would be very disappointed in the unashamed-corporate-greed-winner-take-all-no-need-for-a-living-wage-I've-got-my-health-care-get-you-own-and-oh-yes-guns-guns-guns mantra coming from those on the right...the ones who most loudly claim to be followers of Christ?
I see things so much differently now than I did not so many years ago.
Our outdoor Christmas/holiday/festivus (take your pick) lights are shining brightly for all the neighborhood to see!
Rachel was able to experience the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with some friends from school. She was back in the City yesterday by herself doing some sightseeing and taking advantage of what little time she has left out there. It reminded me of this photo I took of her when we were there last August. Our little girl is no longer that...a little girl.
I've had a couple of fun rides this week with my mukluk on the trails down along the Minnesota River east and west of Cedar Ave. Thursday's ride took me up to Mendota where I entered the trails there working my way back along them toward Cedar Ave. I was really whipped by the time I got home. It's a bit of work riding out of the river bottoms on my mukluk toward the higher elevations of home. Here's video from that ride.
Saturday's ride before my afternoon shift was an absolute blast! I can't remember a time when I've come back from a ride so ridiculously high. I went back to the scene of the crime where I told Tammy I wouldn't venture anymore because it's where I banged myself up and landed in the hospital for a few nights a couple years ago but it was all good! The trails are actually much more tame than I remember them but I also approach my trail riding differently than I did when I first began riding there. I'm simply more cautious than I was when I first got my mukluk but I'm not enjoying it any less.
I'm not sure a guy my age is supposed to be out there having this much fun!
Best viewed in HD with the music cranked because the music accompanying this one is some of my favorite to ride to! Buckle up!
River Ride from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 6:25 PM
Friday, November 22, 2013
Patty Larkin was the opening act and although I was unfamiliar with her music a couple of her songs I liked right away.
I received a Facebook friend request Sunday night along with a short message:
"Last night, my niece and I were going to try making lefse for the first time. (I inherited my moms lefse making equipment, but had never made lefse with her). Since we didn't really know what we were doing, I sent Ashley to the computer to find us a You Tube video to watch. She found one and we watched it. When we were finished, I checked to see who made it. Low and behold, it was your lefse making video. There are scores of lefse making videos out there, and we watched the one made by the guy across the street. How funny is that!
It sure can be a small world at times! Here's the video Jenny was referring to.
I've been battling a sinus infection for weeks. I finally broke down yesterday and went in to be seen and walked away with a prescription for Amoxicillin. I'm happy to finally be on the mend. This thing has been really kicking my butt the past week.
I'm sitting here on a Saturday night tapping out some words here while paying minimal attention to the TV with its nonstop 50th anniversary programming of the JFK assassination. I was in the 1st grade and have some distinct memories of the tragedy but nothing deep. There was no profound sadness on my part because as a 6 year old I don't think I really understood death. I don't know that I do now. I recall being on the bus on the way home from school and listening to one of the other kids talk about how President Kennedy was going to get a 21-gun salute. I don't know that I understood what that meant but it sounded cool. I remember sitting in front of the TV and watching coverage presented by a black news reporter. Keith, being only 3 commented "that man has a dirty face." Why I remember that I have no idea. It's strange the things that remain with us over the years. Of all of the thoughts I come away with after watching the coverage I'm left thinking of his wife, Jackie, and the strength she showed that day and afterward. Just amazing.
I've spent many hours over the last few afternoons stringing outdoor Christmas lights...or 'winter lights' as I refer to them to a friend who frowns on our obsession with Christmas. I really do think Jesus would not be happy to have his arbitrary birthday signified in the way we do.
Our neighbors behind us moved away today to a larger home in Lakeville. When John and Melissa moved here some 7 years or more ago it was just the two of them but now they've become so much more with Grayson, Haley, Ila and Kariss (sp). I was outside yesterday when Haley came running up to me..."Mr Kevin...Mr Kevin!! ...we're moving tomorrow!!" They're all so adorable! I'll miss their "Mr Kevin" greetings. They're such good kids.
Patty played for an hour before giving way to Shawn.
I have to say that had Shawn walked up to me to bum a smoke I'd have not recognized him at all. He looks like the most unlikely recording artist...at least in that moment when he first took the stage. After watching him though for just a few minutes you can't help but become a big believer! His voice is so rich and his words draw you in and paint an image that takes you on a journey for the length of the song. Tammy was so happy to be there too. She's the one that turned me on to his music when we first met.
Our seats were just off to the left of the stage and a little too close for sneaking a video or two. I spied an empty seat at a table in the balcony and gave Tammy a wink as I left to go capture a few songs with my camera. She understands this thing I do.
We couldn't have been happier with the show and the night! I wanna go again!
Shawn Mullins, Lullaby from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 11:01 PM
Sunday, November 17, 2013
My Candy Crush fixation has begun to wane after a few months of diligent play. I'm on level 257 and finding that the game doesn't intrigue me the way it once did. It's been a good run but perhaps it's time to find another distraction. Hmmm...I'm considering reinstalling Wordfeud on my phone.
I was quite sure I wouldn't be putting up Christmas lights this holiday season, in fact I promised myself that last year would be the end of the tradition. I'm a softy. Over the last week or so my resolve to go into these holidays in a less than festive mood is weakening and the idea of involving our new addition in our outdoor light display has been gaining momentum; so much so that I went out to Fleet Farm yesterday and bought a bunch more LED light sets. I've sort of wanted to lay some off-white lights over the top of our pergola so this will be the motivation I need to get out there and do it.
I took yesterday off from work so I could get a head-start on the outdoor lights but rains moved in and washed out most of the afternoon. I didn't mind though because what I probably needed more than anything was a day for laying low. I did manage to get out for a couple hours after sunset last night to begin work on the job with hopes of having all of the lights strung by this time next week.
Tammy had her last watercolor class on Wednesday and came home with a poinsettia she painted. She wasn't totally pleased with it because her instructor insists on her students doing more outlining in black of parts of the painting than Tammy is happy with. Rather than outlining, Tammy was anticipating shading areas instead where it was necessary. She just goes with the flow and does her best to take in all of the advice whether she agrees or not.
She's looking to sign up for another class when one becomes available. I'm really happy to see her painting again because she's so artistic and I think she needs this outlet. She mentioned possibly using her poinsettia painting as the cover of our Christmas cards this year. She won't need to convince me.
I made it back out to the trails at Murphy-Hanrehan this past Wednesday after sleeping a few hours in the morning following my all-night shift. I'm learning a lot about trail riding but I have such a long way to go. Not having suspension on my Mukluk forces me to find the cleanest line I can through the trails because bouncing off rocks and roots can throw me off line so quickly and send me veering off the trail if I'm carrying too much speed. I not only prefer to keep my bike upright but I have to. I've had no falls my last two times at Murphy which I'm really pleased about.
Some video from Wednesday's ride.
Tammy and I drove up to Stillwater Thursday afternoon in search of some end-tables for our sun-porch. Karen cautioned us that we'd likely only find lots of antiques and she was right. Still, it was a nice time. We always enjoy doing that trip together. I think we'll pencil in an afternoon in Excelsior in the next few weeks as well because that's another city where we enjoy visiting the various shops.
I'm not sure where to go next for the end-tables we're in search of. We've been to the more obvious places so now it's time to check out those lesser known names.
I took advantage of some beautiful fall weather Friday afternoon to spend some time on my road bike. It was nice to be on it hammering out a nice cadence and speed. I haven't done nearly as much riding this year as in years past but I've made the most of my time out there and I'm riding faster than I have in a long while thanks to the Quarq power meter on my Serotta. It's made all the difference.
Video from Friday's ride. Hang on tight!
Time-lapse ride video from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 8:33 PM
Monday, November 11, 2013
I was driving home from work recently, flipping through stations on the radio until stopping on a Christian station that at one time in my life not all that long ago I would occasionally listen to. The person hosting the show was laying into Jehovah Witnesses and how they're all going to hell because they're not interpreting the Bible the way he thinks they should. When he finished bashing them he turned his attention to the practice of judging other people while encouraging his listeners to be more judgmental of one another and to not follow the trend in some circles of society where being judgmental is frowned on. He said the Bible calls on us to judge one another and that we should be doing this constantly throughout the day. Great. Let's all do that. I'd like to begin by judging him but really, I've got better things to do.
I reached toward the radio and said something I shouldn't have before turning to NPR, upset with the thought that this guy has people out there following his lead.
It's been a year since my divorce from Hosanna that resulted from my failed attempt to come to an understanding with their senior pastor Bill Bohline over his leadership about an issue that was troubling me. My heart has only hardened more toward organized religion in the year since and that disappoints me. I can't pretend it's something other than what it is.
But there is hope. There are actually people out there who in my eyes exemplify Christ's love through their words. I was watching a video last night from a theologian named Tony Campolo. He very much speaks to me and for me as I find myself reassesing where I'm at in my own faith/spiritual journey. Here's a link to the video.
There's a quote that's often wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill that says: "If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative by 40, you have no brain." My life seems to be working in the reverse order of that.
But enough of all of that.
Tammy hosted a lefse making party at our home last Wednesday morning and it was a hit! Jackie, Erin and Mom came over with Anja and friend Lena. I mean, what would a lefse party be without a Lena in the mix? Betsi and Tracey also came over and took their turn on the rolling pin. There's definitely a knack to the whole process. I of course shot some video for the archives. We plan to do it again next month except the focus won't be on lefse; it'll be sunbuckles and krumkake.
Typically this time of year I'm trying to take advantage of dry roads and mostly reasonable temperatures to squeeze in as many miles on my road bike as I can before the snow flies. But not so much this year. I've been giving the nod to my Mukluk for the past month while my skinny tire bike sits idle. Between the trails at Murphy, the Minnesota River bottoms and local gravel roads I've been having so much fun out there.
My inner child is alive and well and loves coming out to play!
Video from last Friday afternoon...
Take me to the river from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 5:05 PM
Sunday, November 3, 2013
When Tammy was in college she took a watercolor painting class as an elective study. She put together a nice portfolio of work during the class but in the 18 or so years since then she hasn't taken the time to dabble in the art. I've tried over the years to encourage her to get back into it but I'm not one to nag.
But she's finally going to!
She signed up for a watercolor class taught by a local artist and will work with her over the next month. She's excited about it and so am I. I told her that I can totally see her setting up out in the sun-porch with her materials; it will be a perfect spot. She has a birthday coming up next month and I think I'd like to get her an easel of some kind.
Rachel is in Maryland this weekend for another ballroom dance competition. I got a text from her Friday afternoon as they passed near New York on their way: "NYC doesn't scare me anymore" "you know how it can be a bit intimidating at first? I can handle it now". Both Tammy and I couldn't be happier for her as she ventures out into our big beautiful world. Like I always say about Rachel's life; I just love being along for the ride!
The competition is going well for her and her partner. Out of 100 couples for Rhythm they took 2nd place in both Cha-cha and Rumba and 1st place in Swing during Saturday's competition. They took three 1st places and one 2nd place today. She sent us a link where we could watch a live video feed of the competition and even go back and review video from earlier in the day. Tammy's been glued to her laptop, watching.
Kevin Kirsch, a controller at work, is moving on. Because he's now 56 years young he can no longer work as a controller but he was able to score an instructor's slot down at the academy in Oklahoma City where he plans to continue his FAA career for at least another couple years. There was a going-away party for him a few days ago and I stopped in to wish him well. I gave him the latest fruits of my glassblowing labors as a gift; a couple of simple candle holders. He'll be missed by us all for both his talents in the sector and his storytelling...haha...well, maybe not the stories so much but some.
Tammy and I were both home to pass out Halloween candy to the little monsters and assorted characters. It's been a few years since I've had our air powered Dracula set up but I got it down from the loft in the garage and had it greet the trick-or-treaters as they made their way up our front walk. One little guy didn't notice it as he walked past it on his way to our front door but when he turned around to head back to his mother waiting for him at the end of our driveway he saw Dracula rising up out of the casket. He shook his head 'no'. "I'm not going" he kept quietly repeating but his mother couldn't hear. I yelled down to her that she may want to come up and walk with him. Poor guy.
I had such a fun ride on my Mukluk yesterday morning before work. I thought seriously about getting on my road bike and taking advantage of the dry roads but my Mukluk is just way too much fun and its call can be so irresistible sometimes. I love exploring gravel roads and routes on it that never get any consideration when I've got skinny tires under me. I only biked 30 miles but I worked it hard out there for the most part. I came home out of breath and on such a ridiculous high. I love that!
There's a bit of a treat in this video for my siblings...
Mom turned 85 today! Tammy and I took her out to Perkins this morning for breakfast. She looked so pretty. It's been a difficult six month stretch for her with all of the eye surgeries (I think 5) she's had for a detached and torn retina in her right eye. She had a followup appointment on Friday and her doctor gave her the go-ahead to drive again. It's encouraging to her but I don't really like the idea very much because she's gotten so weak in the last few months. It will be difficult for her to get in and out of her low sitting Ford Escort without some assistance. We'll see.
Jackie, Aleah, Erin, Kelsey, Cassidy and Anja picked her up tonight and took her out to the Old Piper for Pizza. She had a great time. When I talked with her on my way home from work tonight she was too excited from all the activity to sleep.
It sounds like she had a really great day!
Mom Celebrates 85 Today! from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 10:15 PM
Sunday, October 27, 2013
"I got a text from Rachel a few days ago: "Soooo the amazing race...are we gonna make it happen?"
The Amazing Race is a program on CBS that we've been following since it first aired in 2001. It's a 'reality tv' show where contestants complete challenges as they race around the world. We've been talking about trying out for the show for at least the last six years. They're taking applications now for the cast/participants of the next race which is planned for this coming spring and summer. It would work for Rachel's schedule but not mine...unless I retire. Hmmm.
The show is as much about relationships as it is about a race and they've never had a step-father/step-daughter combination. We've always thought that could work to our advantage. Rachel said she'd compile a storyboard of our lives together for a video submission from us. We'll see.
I finally made it out to the mountain bike trails at Murphy-Hanrehan Park about 6 miles west of us. What a blast! It's such a departure from the road biking I'm used to but it's so much riskier for me, or is it? At least I'm not contending with distracted drivers in vehicles out on the road but I simply can't be throwing myself around out there and taking falls. Two separate days on the trails this past weekend and two falls. The last one came just after I'd reminded myself to go easier and that it wasn't a race and to simply enjoy the beauty of the trail. I was splayed out in the fallen leaves before I had any idea I was going down. It's so hard to back off though because the kid inside me wants to push-push-push while the older more mature me is advocating for a reserved approach. You can guess which voice usually wins out.
The park consists of about 10 miles (16 kilometers) of trails carved out through the woods. I'm so in awe of the work that's gone into planning and making this system of trails happen. I'd been in there for 30 minutes when I briefly glanced down at the breadcrumb trail on my Garmin Edge 705 to see the many switchbacks and turns I'd maneuvered through as depicted in the photo to the left. It's just so impressive to me and it's so close to home. I really need to not screw this up and make sure I stay safe because I want this kind of riding to continue to be part of what I do.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 4:11 PM