Saturday, April 25, 2015

No Joke

Rachel was back at Canvas and Chardonnay a few nights ago. She texted Tammy and me this photo of the painting she'd done but we couldn't figure out what it was or if it was a finished product. Hmmm...a little later she sent us the completed painting (photo to the left).

I think this is her third time taking a class there. I told her she should look into applying for a job there teaching classes. I could very much see her doing that. Oops...I just forgot...she's moving home in a few weeks!

Tammy has been preparing for her mother to come and stay with us at the end of May. She's purchased a wheelchair that we can use to take her out and about. We'll have walkers on each level of our home for her to more safely get around and minimize her risk of falling. I don't think I can fully appreciate just how big of an undertaking this is going to be but we know it's the right thing to do. Tammy has many years of experience in this area so I'll just follow her lead.

She was online tonight ordering some in-home monitors so she can more easily keep a watchful eye on her mother when she's in another room or while Tammy is working out or whatever. I think that's a very good idea.

4/20 is National Weed Day. I posted the graphic to the right on my Facebook wall the next day. Haha...funny! And wouldn't you know it, my first day back to work this week I was pulled aside and told I needed to go down and pee in a cup for the drug testers. No worries because it's been well over 33 years since I've indulged in the evil weed or any other forbidden mind altering substances. I wouldn't mind making a trip out west though in another 252 days or so. Not that that would be necessary but I think it would be a hoot. Watch this space.

I'm still enjoying my walks as much as ever. I try and get out for at least a 10 mile walk a couple times each week; sometimes more often. I'd like to be on my bike more but I think it's best for my knee health if I mix it up a little. I had planned to ride after work today but I was tired and I'm trying to do a better job of listening to my body. I don't need anymore asleep at the wheel incidents. Regardless of whether it's walking or riding, there's something very therapeutic about being alone with my thoughts for a few hours at a time

A friend at work lost his home in a fire yesterday afternoon. I can't begin to imagine what all Brian is going through. He's the 2nd controller in the last few years at our facility who's suffered this tragedy. Shortly after Brian left for home we got a message at the sectors saying the cafeteria was closing early because the chef had an emergency at home. We heard later that he too had a house fire. What are the odds of two people at the same facility experiencing a house fire on the same day?

A few of us were talking today at work about insurance agencies. We're with State Farm but mostly because our policy is through a former neighbor. A friend said he uses USAA and is very happy with them for both their attention to claims and cost savings. I may have to spend some time this week comparing companies.

Any suggestions about insurance companies would be welcome.

Morning Ride from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Change is Coming and Change is Here

I received some very good news Monday night in a call from Dr Johnstone. I posted the news to my Facebook wall:

"I just got off the phone with my doctor/surgeon. She updated me on my CT scan from last Wednesday and used the word "lovely" a few times to describe what she saw. The clot in my left common iliac artery that had an irregular shape and was most concerning to her was no longer there. Wow! I wasn't expecting to hear that at all. The clot in my right iliac artery had diminished in size. Another wow! I thank God and medical science for that great news and anybody who may have offered up their prayers or good thoughts or well-wishes. This is welcome news to me/us."

I had mentally prepared myself for a result that would have had me undergoing a surgical procedure that would've meant the end of my career and months of recovery. This gives me some breathing room and I'm once again focused on a retirement date of 1/2/2016, 259 days from now.

Our quiet household is about to become much more alive in a little more than a month. Rachel will be moving back home for the summer (maybe longer) and Tammy's mother will be coming to stay with us. Elaine will be 90 at the end of the year and is in the early stages of Alzheimers. Tammy was a nurse on an alzheimers wing at a retirement home for many years and is in a great position in life to be able to care for her. We're hopeful that she'll adapt to her new life with us without too much stress but we really have no way of knowing how smoothly she'll make the transition. We're looking forward to making her as comfortable and as happy as we can.

I'm not sure how we'll fit activities such as glassblowing into our routine once Elaine is with us. It may be that we'll have to put that hobby on hold or possibly find other temporary partners in the studio.

Speaking of glassblowing; we were back in the studio again on Wednesday afternoon. I struggled with my first 2 pieces but managed to do what I think will be a nice candle votive on my third try. We'll be back at Foci on Tuesday for another 3 hour session and to pick up our work.

I was happy with the pieces we made 2 weeks earlier. For not having been at the bench in nearly 9 months I thought we did okay.

Our hummingbird feeder is out and ready for any early arrivals. I've had such a difficult time attracting the little guys in previous years. It wasn't until late last summer when I finally had a pair that appeared to make it their go-to place to feed. I want to be sure I'm ready for them if they return and any others that may happen by.

I've been taking glucosamine/chondroitin for knee pain for a couple months now and I think it may be starting to help, either that or my knees are getting used to the more regular demands I'm putting on them. I did fine on Tuesday's 55 mile ride through the first 30 miles but then the pain kicked in and I had to limp home. Yesterday was so much better. I did my Jordan loop and was able to keep my watts well above a 200 average for the last 29 miles with very little pain. I'm still nowhere near where I was last year at this time but I'm making progress and for that I'm grateful.

The synvisc (hyaluronic acid) injection I had last year in my right knee worked wonders but I'm hesitant to go that route again. I find that without pain I push harder than I should and I'm worried that I may have stressed my knee more than is good for it. I'd like to give the glucosamine/chondroitin combination a chance to do all it can for me. A little pain can be a good thing if it keeps me in check.

My days off at work have changed to a more junior schedule, one where I'm working with several people I've seldom ever had the chance to work with previously. I'm just putting the finishing touches on a Saturday day-shift as I write this. I can't recall the last time I was here on a Saturday morning but I'm quite sure it's been decades! I think it's gonna be a nice change.

South Loop to Northfield from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Celebration to Remember

I had another CT scan Wednesday morning. The results of the scan were to give my surgeon a better idea about the timetable for performing bypass surgery on my common iliac arteries. I was expecting a call with the results but I've heard nothing yet. I would think that if there was anything of urgency on the scan she would've gotten in touch with me by now.

We took a drive into St Paul Friday morning to take in the American Craft Council art show. It's a yearly thing we try and do since first attending maybe 10 years ago. We came close to getting Tammy a new Ann Ringness purse but she opted to get some more miles out of the one I bought for her a few years ago. Perhaps we'll see Ann again at the Uptown Art Fair in August and get one then. We chatted for a while with David Royce, one of the glassblowing artists we met when we first began at Foci. His work is just so beautiful and unique.

On the way back to our car I noticed some pigeons walking along the metal supports for the skyway. I looked a little closer and saw that there were maybe a dozen pairs with the males bringing the females nesting material while they laid on their eggs. It was interesting to watch.

We made a stop at Cossetta's for some Italian cuisine before leaving for home. It's been several months since we were there so we were overdue. It's easily our favorite place for something tasty in St Paul. There's typically a wait to place your order but there's so much visually to take in that the time passes quickly. There's a reason it's always so busy.

This past weekend was a full one for us both culminating in a small retirement party for Tammy with a few of our closer friends. It was almost a perfect evening.

Rachel came bee-bopping in around 5:00 Friday afternoon, a couple hours before the party. She took over preparations. This girl knows how to throw a party! She brought some nice decorations, assorted foods to make appetizers and the fixings for Mint Mojitos! Between the food we had catered from Davanni's and her appetizers we had more than enough.

I had ordered a cake from Cub Foods (the local grocery store) and gave them a cutout of a photo of Tammy from when she was first licensed as a nurse. I had asked for a lighter lavender background color but it didn't quite turn out that way. That's okay because it tasted just like cake (duh!) I think she was too surprised by the idea to care. She cried a few tears, so thankful for her retirement, friends and the party. We were all so happy for her.

It was almost a perfect evening until our garbage disposal decided to develop a hole in its side and allow water to spew out of it and inside the cabinet below. Luckily I noticed it right away. Rachel and I cleaned up the mess and resumed the celebration.

Here's a link to a set of a few photos from the party.

I made it out for a couple rides this past week. Here's video from a loop into St Paul.

Windy Loop into St Paul from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Yay for Tammy!

Tammy has officially joined the ranks of the retired. She went in to work last Monday to turn in all of her gear and do one final shift. Nearly all of her coworkers also work from home but a few showed up at the office to give her a surprise retirement party, something that seldom happens there. She was surprised! I was so happy for her when she told me that. She deserved it. After the party she asked if she could be excused for the 2nd half of the day because her head just wasn't with Optum anymore. Her supervisor understood and with that, she left the world of nursing (although I know it will always be in her heart).

We met up at home in the afternoon and I could see from the look on her face that a huge weight had been lifted from her. The work should've been much more rewarding than it was but Optum had a way of adding layers of stress through metrics that took all of the fun out of it.

We took the pups to the dogpark and let the idea that she no longer has to return to that pressure-cooker sink in.

Out of nowhere these last few days she'll suddenly exclaim, "I'm retired!" Every time she says that I imagine my own pending retirement and smile along with her. 274 days.

I wasted little time in finding a spot in the office/den for my laptop which is where I'm writing this from. This is where you can often find me now.

We finally made it back to Foci after nearly 9 months of being away. We had no way of knowing when we left there last time that it would be this long before we'd be back. Life sorta got in the way. Tammy commented "It's like coming home!" It was nice to catch up with the many people who were there. We've both lost whatever edge we may have developed in our glassblowing skills but we're determined to get back to where we were.

It's been ridiculously windy here the past few days. I took advantage of Wednesday's wind to shave 2 seconds off of my KOM time on a Strava segment in Farmington. I saw where a group of 5 other riders were out there just a little while later giving it a go. My time still stands for now.

You'll see in the video where a guy pulls out in front of me. I'm not trying to be a jerk when I go by him but the shoulder there is full of holes and debris. I was trying to keep a line that kept me clear of most of it. I doubt he saw me or if he did he didn't realize I was going as fast as I was.

Speed Run from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

33 Years Ago Today and One More Shift for Tammy

33 years ago today I began my career with the FAA. I don't know what 33 years is supposed to feel like but certainly not this. Back when I was beginning my career that would've seemed like a ridiculously long time to be a controller but that's not my perspective today. Of the 500 or so people I sat with in the auditorium that morning as we filled out the many forms I have to wonder how many (if any) are still working traffic? Could I possibly be the last man standing out of all of us? It's entirely possible.

I spent too much time this past week trying to upgrade Tammy's phone after she'd dropped hers in the toilet. It still functioned but would occasionally go dark. She was a few months past due for an upgrade but that's not what our account's records with Verizon showed. I tried to get a resolution to the problem both in-store and over the phone but with no luck whatsoever. Each time I was assured that someone would get back to me but they never did. In my frustration I made a post to Facebook, more curious than anything about what carriers others were using as I kicked around thoughts of giving Verizon the heave-ho, all the while pretty sure I would be staying with Verizon because their coverage really is the best. Once we're retired and doing more traveling we'll want good coverage.

One of the commenters to my Facebook post was Jay, a retired controller whose son works at the Verizon store in Apple Valley. He suggested I go in and see if he could get it straightened out for us. I was feeling like this was our only hope at this point.

And we did.

We spent more than two hours with James Thursday afternoon. He was on the phone with the corporate office for much too long it seemed but he was finally able to untangle the mess our account was in and that's all that really mattered. Tammy is the happy owner of an iPhone 6 and we also walked away with a pair of UE Boom wireless speakers. They make a lot of sense for out on our deck. Actually, I'm listening to them now as I write this. They're so full of sound.

Another thing James noticed on our account was that we weren't getting the government employee discount of 15%. He fixed that too!

I opted for indoor riding this week on my CompuTrainer. I have a love-hate relationship with that piece of equipment. It works me so hard but when I'm done I'm very thankful for the workout. The photo to the right was taken during a workout where I was riding against myself from two previous rides. The image to the left of the screen was the 'current' me during the ride. The center image was from a couple weeks ago and the right side image was an effort I did shortly after getting out of the hospital a couple months ago. I can see my improvement based on my watts output and average speed.

Today's ride was even better averaging 195 watts over 30 miles. Nothing exceptional but I'm moving in the right direction.

Spring shows up on the calendar but you wouldn't know it by looking outside. I was expecting the snow we got last Sunday to be gone by now but it's reluctant to leave. I haven't let that stop me from taking the pups for their daily walk. They really look forward to it. Toby and Allie will be 12 this summer and I know this is something we probably won't be able to do in a couple of years. I don't want to even think about that.

Tammy has just one day of work remaining before retiring from her job as a telephone triage nurse. She's been with OptumHealth for 7 years and will be so happy to be done. It's stressful work. She'll go into the office on Monday for her last shift and to turn in all of the equipment she used in her home office. I had to laugh, after she finished her last at-home shift on Tuesday she wasted no time in tearing down all of her equipment and promising me that the office/den would soon be my domain once again.

I don't expect that she'll be putting her feet up for too long. She's already got something in the works; something that she's very excited about but I'll wait for a while to say more about it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

16 Years Together and She's Clearly No Dummy

Tammy and I celebrated the 16th anniversary of our first date last Thursday night. We considered going to Sawatdee restaurant in Minneapolis (where it all began for us) but opted for something different instead so we drove south to Northfield and with the help of Yelp we chose The Tavern. We enjoyed ourselves while reminiscing about those earlier years and looking ahead to the changes we'll be seeing in our near future.

I was in the middle of taking a selfie to upload to Facebook when the couple across from us offered to help out. That was sweet of them.

We walked in the cold night air to our car and talked of coming back to Northfield to check out the many shops one day soon. It's a beautiful, older city and one we seldom visit.

I'm all caught up on my TV watching after having viewed the final season of Breaking Bad and the last episode of the most recent House of Cards series. I was a little late to Breaking Bad and got mired down in the 3rd season when it became too dark for me but I pushed through and enjoyed the rest of it. After watching Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood in House of Cards I don't think I can even recall what he actually sounds like. He's so believable as Frank with his southern accent.

I've got a few shifts behind me now that I'm back to work. It seems surreal at times because I'll have moments at the sector where I feel like I never left for those two months. Selective memory of some sort I guess. All I know is it feels nice to be back.

I think I may have let Rachel down a little without her even knowing. Let me explain. I've got more than a passing understanding of weather. It's knowledge I used while performing weather briefings for pilots when I worked in Huron, South Dakota for the FAA early in my career. It never occurred to me to share any of this wisdom with Rachel: the difference between a cold front and an occluded front or the dynamics of positive vorticity advection and how it relates to storm development, say nothing of adiabatic lapse rate or upslope but surely I could've at least talked with her about the basics of weather patterns and systems in the US. It never came up.

We had this text exchange Saturday night:

(Me) "Did you see the weather forecast? We're getting a lot of snow they say. Mom's phone is working again. :)"

(Rachel) "East coasts been hit so Im not surprised its headed our way. Knew that would happen."

"I gotta go to bed though I work tomorrow. Talk to you later! Love you"

(Me) "You goofball...we get our weather from the west not the east! ;)"

She runs circles around me in every other category when it comes to booksmarts so she's clearly no dummy but this exchange was amusing to me. A topic of discussion for our next cup of coffee or glass of wine together? Maybe. Maybe not. I enjoy having at least something where I still have an edge.

About that forecast. Yes, we did get lots of snow; somewhere between 8-10 inches in Lakeville (20-25 cm for my European friends). Our bird feeders had much more activity than what is normal in the hours before the snow began. I find it interesting how they sense a change in conditions and the need to prepare.

I too have been preparing but with a focus for more springlike weather as you can see by our deck furniture in the photo. I said I wouldn't snowblow this snowfall but that was a lie. I was out there this morning making quick work of it before heading into the salt mine.

Last Thursday's ride...

South Loop to Northfield Via Webster from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Back in the Saddle Again!

Finally! I was able to return to work today and resume my duties as an air traffic controller after nearly 2 months away on medical leave. It feels nice. Not that I didn't appreciate my job before being sidelined as I was but I appreciate it even more now.

I showed up at work this morning to report to the Quality Control office for some 'other duties', running short on sick-leave and intending to either get my clearance to work traffic again within the next few days or reluctantly submit my paperwork and retire at the end of the month. Fortunately for me I received a call mid-morning telling me that I was being reinstated and that I was free to resume my work as a controller. I quickly stepped outside to text Tammy and tell her the good news but decided to call her instead. This was something we both really wanted and a text message just wouldn't do it justice. She was really happy too!

I'm not ready yet. I'm just not. The widget on my phone says 291 days until my final day. I'm good with that number as it allows us to take care of some loose ends financially and that to me is more important than the easy life. That will happen soon enough all on its own.

I'm getting a jump on this year's yardwork with the nice weather we've been having for the past week. I think this may be the earliest I've ever put fertilizer down. I even found time to transplant some hostas this afternoon. I'm really good at putting that job off until the next year or the year after that. Done!

The pups are digging this nice weather too. I'll send them out on the deck to bark their little heads off for a few minutes before giving in to their pleadings to come back in and have a bite of whatever I'm munching on.

I'm ramping up both my outdoor walks and rides. I'm struggling with some knee pain but I'm determined to find a way to make this new-normal of mine work. I can't recall if I mentioned this here previously but I'm under strict doctor's orders to no longer use NSAIDS because they interfere with the anticoagulant I'm taking. They were my go-to medication to alleviate much of my knee pain. I'm allowed to use Tylenol but it does little if anything for me so I'm resorting to glucosamine/chondroitin with hopes that it will provide some needed relief. I'll report back later.

We just got a call from Rachel. I was sitting here blogging while messaging with her on Facebook when she suggested that she call instead. Great idea! That wasn't quite the highlight of my day but it was close!

Video from my Jordan Loop from a couple afternoons ago...

Jordan Loop from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.