Sunday, April 24, 2016

I Have Such a Talented Partner!

With Prince's death a few days ago I'm left somewhat puzzled by the amount of national and worldwide attention his passing has received. I assumed he had a sizeable following but I had no idea he was so revered. I've read my share of articles about him these past few days and they've given me a new appreciation for the man and his music. I can't imagine Bob Dylan garnering more of a send-off than what we've witnessed with Prince.

I don't own any of his music although there are songs of his that I liked and even a couple to take me back to specific places and times from my life in the '80s but nothing more. Tammy and I have been talking about getting a "Prince Essentials" collection of his music if there is such a thing.

I only hope that our lasting memories of the man, other than his music, will be of his generousness for those in need and not a focus on anything darker that is rumoured to have resulted in his death.

We had friends of ours come into town from Kalispell, Montana Thursday night. We met Paul and Kate about 6 years ago when we used to host a small-group for our church and they were such an important part of that group: Kate with her sincere sweetness and Paul with his questions that nobody else thought to ask. They're such fine people as are the others from our disbanded group. We jumped at the chance to have another get-together at our home. It was so nice to see everyone again. I should have a photo to add here but I don't. Next time.

Tammy has been putting her creative side into overdrive lately. We're still doing our volunteer work on Thursdays in Woodbury with some elderly residents at an assisted living facility in addition to some mentally and physically challenged adults. Each week Tammy comes up with a craft for the people we work with to do and this past week's project was quite a hit. Tammy prepared dozens of polymer clay slices of various designs she'd made using the cane technique. She had her crafters apply them to a clear glass cup to create a pattern design. They all had a fun time working with them. She brought them home to bake in the oven and we'll bring them back this week. We're thinking of maybe adding some potting soil and flower seeds to complete the project.

She had one other project she took on last week -- she reupholstered our deck chairs. After only 3 years they had become faded and tired looking. We went out to Joanne Fabrics and found some outdoor material to use then she spent the better part of two days fitting the cushions for a new look. They turned out great! I'm super impressed that she's able to do this. She first took on an upholstering project when she was a single mom and couldn't afford new furniture but wanted to make her home as nice as possible. She bought some well worn furniture at a garage sale and breathed new life into it. I have such a talented partner!

I'm still waiting to get back on the links. I had a bit of a setback last Monday when I had an abrupt encounter with not too big of a tree while riding the trails at Murphy. I allowed my left bar end to get too close to a tree and it reached out and grabbed me, stopping me dead in my tracks and sucking me in and smacking my ribs and upper front left shoulder where it left an abrasion that I've done well to keep Tammy from seeing and because she seldom reads my blog I'm fine with mentioning it here (insert smiley face). My GoPro was there but my physical meeting with the tree happened out of view of the lens of my camera. Still, you can see it unfold at 3:33 of the video below.

The sharp pain in my rib that I've been nursing for 6 weeks now (due to a golfing injury) was all but gone when this happened but now it's back. I'm hopeful though that I can still swing the club as most of my issues were with rib pain on my left side, more toward my back. I don't want to rush my recovery but I'm really itching to get out there. I hit a couple dozen balls at the range tonight at about 3/4 strength and I felt good.

At least I established a bunch of PRs on my ride at Murphy but was it worth it? In that moment, yes but it's no longer that moment and I really wanna golf! Did I mention that men's league begins in less than 2 weeks and I haven't even established my handicap? I've got some work to do in the way of both healing and golfing and I don't know that I can take them both on together but try I'll because I'm stubborn that way.


Murphy Hanrehan Loop from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Little Help Please -- Am I Being Scammed?

I was contacted recently by someone claiming to work for Facebook. He was wondering if I'd be interested in allowing parts of some video I shot at a Bernie Sanders rally a few months ago to be used in an online commercial he was involved in making. This is actually the 2nd time I've been asked to give someone rights to use this particular video which you can view below.

The initial contact was followed up with another email detailing the legal specifics about granting Facebook the rights to use the video in addition to an offer of $1000 for its use. (Page 1 and page 2.) In a follow-up correspondence he stated that all they needed from me to proceed was a digital file of the video which they now have. I was told that I'd be contacted by another person who would arrange for me to be paid.

I received an email today from the person responsible for making the payment to me. One of the things he's asking for is a filled out W9 form for the IRS and I assume I would obviously need to provide my SSN. Maybe this is how it has to be but I'm a little concerned about giving out this information. I did a search for Kapsized, Inc. and all I could come up with is this link to two videos they've produced.

I dunno. It seems legit but it could also be a scam. Thoughts? Please share here or on Facebook. Thanks!



Bernie Sanders St Paul Rally from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Art Fairs and Fairways

Tammy and I are making up for lost time as we get out and about together the way we used to. We took in the American Craft Council show at St Paul's RiverCentre on Friday and probably enjoyed the show as much as we ever have in the past. Sometimes it can be a little hit-or-miss for us but not this year. They brought in some ridiculously talented artists from all across the country to display and sell their work.

No trip into St Paul is complete without a stop at Cossetta's. It's tasty Italian food dished up cafeteria style. I had a mostaccioli jump off my flimsy plastic fork and splatter the front of my shirt. It required a stop at home for a quick change before continuing on to Canterbury Park in Shakopee to battle the crowds at their craft fair. After just a few minutes we were both questioning why we came. Unlike RiverCentre, there were very few actual artists at Canterbury, just a lot of cheap imported stuff for sale that we had no interest in. We vowed never again! Still, it was nice to be out doing things together and that was really what the day was all about.

It's been four weeks since I walked off the golf course in pain from a dislocated rib and strained intercostal muscles. Today was my first pain free day since my injury but I'm reluctant to tee it up just yet. I was reading several stories online from others who have suffered this same injury and came back too soon and reinjured themselves only to have to start the healing process all over again. I really don't want to experience that.

Our weather has been cool and windy so I'm not missing much by being sidelined. My chiropractor suggested hitting some balls with half a swing when I'm feeling ready to see if there's any pain the next day and to keep increasing the amount of swing until I'm back to 100%. I think I'll leave my driver and 3 metal out of my bag for now.

I'm taking advantage of this downtime to make it over to the practice green at Crystal Lake several times each week to work on my short game. This is practice I'm quite sure I wouldn't have taken the time to do had I been healthy so that's my silver lining to all of this. It's beginning to pay off.

Speaking of playing golf -- Dave Celski has joined the ranks of the retired! There was a party for him at Carbone's in Lakeville Saturday afternoon. He said he intends to play a lot of golf at The Wilds this summer. It was a nice gathering of people who made it to his party.

I spent part of my weekend watching all four rounds of The Masters golf tournament. I used to say that if I could only watch one program each year on TV I would choose Sunday afternoon's coverage of that tournament. I put my clubs away in 1997 when I was going through my divorce because I'd lost my focus on the course and I really couldn't afford to play; I gave up watching the game on TV as well. But I'm back! I've managed to catch final round tournament coverage of each of the past few weeks and that makes me happy.

But what a loss for Jordan Spieth yesterday, blowing a 5 stroke lead on the back 9. I haven't seen a collapse of that proportion since Greg Norman's epic collapse 20 years earlier on the same course. I enjoy watching Jordan play and hope this loss won't negatively impact his game although how could it not to some degree?

I've put my Sarma Shaman on a bit of a diet for the summer and it's shed an inch around its tires. I've gone from 4" 45 NRTH Dillingers to 3" Maxxis Chronicles on 52 mm Stan's tubeless rims to make it a little easier to do some longer distances on it. I took my new wheels out for a ride yesterday and I could tell that I'm a little more nimble on the trails with it. My legs were tired after 54 miles but that's to be expected. I'd like an even narrower tire but I'm not sure the extra speed it would give me on the trails is a good thing. I think I've found a happy compromise with this new setup.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Dave and Joe

I received a Facebook friend request recently from Noy, my former wife from another lifetime. I accepted her request with hopes of finding her sons, David and Joe among her contacts. We never stayed in touch after Noy and I divorced in March of '98 and I wish we had but I wasn't going to intrude in their lives and I figure that in this digital age they know how to easily find me if they ever want to, and I hope they do.

I looked through Noy's collection of photos and found recent photos of them both that she had uploaded but no links to Facebook pages of their own. Still, it was nice to see them again. I believe Dave is still single and Joe is married with two boys and a girl living in Pittsburg, Ca, just east of San Francisco.

Dave will be 45 in September and Joe will be 40 in June. I still think of them often but especially on their birthdays.

I used to be self-conscious about being a dad to boys who weren't all that much younger than me. Dave is only 14 years my junior, the same age difference between my oldest and youngest brothers. I was a good dad to them but I was also too hard on them at times and I'd love to be able to take all those moments back. I do remember feeling a lot of the time that I was in a thankless position and not appreciated for the sacrifices I was making for them but it wasn't their fault.

I was with Dave when I got news that my dad had died in September 1995. He was in town after having been discharged from the Navy and we had just returned from golfing at Hyland Hills in Bloomington. We attended my dad's funeral together in Michigan's Upper Peninsula before he left for California. That was the last I saw of him. I last saw Joe ten years ago in May of 2006 when he came into town to move his mother to California to be near him.

There's a lot I could write about from our days together but I've never gone there in my blog. I suppose that on some level I've taken those memories, boxed them up and stored them away in a closet in my mind. We did share many good times but we also had our share of strife. We've all moved but perhaps some day I'll find a way to work in some of my memories with them into these pages. I would like that.

I've found a nice rhythm to my workout routine the past few months. One of the things I used to dream of when I was employed was of the day when I'd be retired and much more able to find time for my workouts without being so rushed to make it happen. I'm doing that now in ways I was never able to before. It's nice. Tammy has embraced this new lifestyle as well. She joined Lifetime Fitness last November and loves the various classes she takes there in the evening, and it shows! I'm happy for her.

I finished work on my most recent stained glass panel a couple nights ago and I've put my glass tools away until next winter. The piece (photo to the left) measures 4.5" x 8". It's small but I love the challenge that presents. I've had a good run the past few months as I was regularly coming down into the shop for a few hours at a time cutting and fitting some pieces together while letting my mind wander.

Here's a link to projects I've done this winter.

I've already got ideas for some designs I'd like to play around with next winter -- possibly some intricate landscape or floral scenes of about the same size as these smaller panels I've been working with. I can't think of anyone who works with pieces this tiny so perhaps that will be my niche that can set me apart.

I do have one other project I'd like to begin before the pull of warmer weather is simply too strong for my desire to do indoor stuff and that's a model car I purchased one year ago but never got around to sizing up. I hope to begin work on it tonight.

I've gotta run. We're taking a class at Gertens Greenhouse this afternoon about getting a jump on flower planting season with our own flower starts inside. Tammy's idea!


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter, 2016

My mom's townhome in Lakeville went on the market a few days ago. It's had a few showings already this Easter weekend and I think it's priced right for a reasonably quick sale. The feedback has been so-so but the home is a little dated so that's to be expected. Otherwise I think it shows real well. Here's a link to the listing.

Winter made a strong comeback and dumped 9" (23 cm) of heavy, wet snow on us in Lakeville. Some parts of the metro were spared entirely from the storm as its path was well defined between the haves and the have-nots. We followed up the snow with temps well above freezing and we're mostly back to our brown, drab look again. Hopefully I'll be back out at Crystal Lake Golf Course tomorrow to continue working on my short game.

I'm still seeing my chiropractor/acupuncturist a few times a week to address my strained intercostal muscles and dislocated rib. I'm making progress but I'm not yet ready to swing the club fully. I was at Golfsmith a few nights ago talking with the guy who fitted me for my clubs. Bob spent some time in his youth as a chiropractic student but never completed his studies. He was very familiar with the injury I'm struggling with and gave me a stretch to do before swinging the club. It's a stretch I can't quite do yet because of tightness but that just goes to show me that I'm not ready.

I woke up yesterday morning with plans to ride my CompuTrainer and the 27 mile Diamond in the Rough course that I like to program into it but I decided instead to pump up the tires of my blue Serotta and take it to the streets. I was so glad I did. I found an early season form that caught me off guard as I worked my way through my Hampton loop of 41 miles (66 km) in 2 hours and 8 minutes, averaging 227 watts and 19.2 mph. I felt so good out there as did my knees. I got off my bike and walked down to check the mail where I chatted with Alex, my brain drenched in endorphins while thinking this is why I ride.

We just had an offer come in on Mom's townhome as I write this.

Rachel came into town yesterday to meet with some friends in preparation for a wedding in August that she's a part of. She spent the night with us and we chatted while half paying attention to episode 9 of the 4th season of House of Cards. I woke up this morning and used my usual low morning voice to imitate Frank Underwood (from House of Cards) while attempting to get a laugh from Tammy. I only elicited a sideways look from her but I think I got Rachel's approval.

We went to Easter services together at Hosanna. It was a nice service but I was preoccupied with thoughts of how the church environment just isn't the same for me anymore and I can't pretend it is. I know we're all just lost sheep bumping into one another (as Tammy likes to say) but the hypocrisy of so much of what my thoughts keep coming back to keeps me from being all-in for organized religion ever again.

Perhaps if those in the church would say, 'you know, as a group of people we've really been dickish toward the president and others who don't subscribe to our conservative beliefs -- we haven't at all embraced the teachings of Jesus when we agreed to shut the door in the faces of desperate refugees out of fear that maybe, just maybe one of them would commit a terrorist act on our soil while not seeming at all concerned about the 32,000 yearly deaths that result from gun violence and our 2nd amendment rights that those of us in the church are in lockstep support of (I could go on and on here but you get the idea) and we apologize, but not only that, we're going to change'. Yeah, right.

By attempting to fit in there I'd be trying to put a square peg into a round hole and I don't see the good in that. I'm too liberal, too accepting of those the church would rather marginalize. Although I have had thoughts of how Tammy and I could be part of the few who bring another perspective to an otherwise like-minded group of people. I'm open to however God chooses to use me.

Tammy went to pick up her mother after church while Rachel and I went to Perkins to get a seat, expecting to find at least an hour's wait. There was no wait whatsoever. It gave us a nice opportunity to chat while we waited for Tammy and mom/grandma. Elaine enjoyed her time away from her new home and I'm pleased to say that she's fitting in so well there. We're not aware of any pushback at all by her toward her new surroundings.

Rachel posted the photo to the right of Grandma and herself today and said, "Though she now misplaces the pieces that connect her words to thoughts, her capacity to love is ever abundant".

That's well said.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

POP!

This blog entry finds me sitting by the fire with the pups by my side and Mandolin Orange on my UE Boom speakers while a snowstorm (possibly our biggest of the season) has turned our brown-world-struggling-to-turn-green into white. Lots of white. We've got high temps well above freezing for as far out as the long range forecast peers and I could probably ignore the snow and allow it to eventually melt but I won't. I'm retired -- remember?

Although we've found a new home for Tammy's mom, Tammy is still working overtime trying to get several details ironed out with Dakota county. She's put a lot of work and worry into this and we're both looking forward to it being wrapped up. Being able to come and go as we please without having to coordinate between each other so one of us is always here with Elaine has been a nice change. Nicest of all though is the transition she's made to her new home. She's very content and isn't at all questioning the staff about her new surroundings.

The injury to my left side intercostal muscles that I suffered on the golf course last week turned out to be more than that. I went in to see the chiropractor I'd turned to when I was injured in a bike crash in September of 2014, hoping he could work his voodoo magic skills on my pain.

I have even more of an appreciation for chiropractors now.

I took my shirt off and laid face down on the table. Within a minute of probing and reacting to my responses/winces he was able to pinpoint my pain and surprise me with his diagnosis of a dislocated rib. I thought you either broke ribs or bruised them; I didn't know they could be dislocated. Before I could reply he firmly applied pressure with the palm of his hand and I felt a distinct 'POP!' (I think I even heard it) as he forced my rib back into place. He followed that up with acupuncture and instructions to ice the area a few times each day and to make a follow-up appointment in two days.

It's still going to take a couple of weeks to heal but not addressing the dislocated rib would've set me back much more and it never would've healed correctly on its own. My intercostal muscles were also strained and they're what will probably be what slows my recovery the most. This ordeal has given me a renewed appreciation for the benefits of stretching before teeing it up. Still, I'm going to be more than a little worried about this happening again. If nothing else it's given me time to focus on my short game.

I've had a love-hate relationship (mostly hate) with my LGG4 phone that I bought last November. The way it couldn't hold a WiFi signal was frustrating me to no end so I returned it for another. The replacement phone seemed to work fine for about a week but then it too began to have issues staying connected. I put up with it until last Thursday when I went back to Verizon and explained to the sales rep the problems I was having. Sure enough, he couldn't get it to connect either. I asked if this is a common problem with the phone and he assured me that it isn't. He put another phone on order for me and it arrived on Monday.

The new phone seemed to be improvement over the previous two but it would still occasionally lose its connection. I went back to Verizon to get a screen protector for it (having decided that I was going to accept the phone and whatever shortcomings it had) and the rep who'd helped me earlier asked me how the LG was working. I told him about the few times it disconnected and he inquired about the wireless router we have at home. "It's a Belkin" I told him. He did a quick search while another rep carefully cleaned my phone's screen and affixed the protector.

He found a thread where someone was complaining of having connectivity issues between their LGG4 and their Belkin router. They bought a new router and it solved the problem. Hmmm. I asked if he had a suggestion on a good router before going across the street to BestBuy where I came away with a (scary looking according to Rachel) NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabyte Router. That's a mouthful of a description but it leaves nothing to chance with respect to a signal anywhere in our home.

It still doesn't explain why the phone was unable to connect in their store but I'm sorta done thinking about it. The new LGG4 is working just fine and that's what matters.

Time to sleep. I've got some snowblowing to do in the morning!



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Empty Nesters Once Again and Too Much of a Good Thing

We're empty-nesters once again. Tammy has been busy this past week assembling all of the puzzle pieces to have her mother (Elaine) placed into a nearby group home. A friend had just mentioned this particular home to us and how nice it would be if we could have her there but they seldom have openings. Fortunately for us all we reached out to them at just the right time. We never expected the process to move so quickly but when this particular opening became available we jumped at the chance.

We don't think we could've found a better place for Elaine and that's comforting to know. She'll be only 7 miles (11 km) away which will make it easy for us to see her as often as we'd like.

A week ago we had no idea that this is where we'd be today. Tammy was in tears this morning at the thought of her mother in an unfamiliar place but there's much relief to be had in knowing that she'll be well cared for and that our lives have been freed up to begin doing together the things we used to love to do but that we had to put on hold for the past 9 months. We went out to dinner with Marty and Brenda last night to delight in regaining our freedom.

Among other things, I will miss our conversations in the car where she would repeat for me a handful of stories that she would draw upon, telling me each as if for the first time. She would often talk about her brother Adolf and how he would take her and her friends dancing, or the story about the two boys on the bus who saved her a seat once because they wanted her to sit by them or several others that she enjoyed reminiscing about.

She never knew my name in all the time she's been staying with us and recently Tammy has stopped being her daughter and has become that nice woman who helps her. She recently referred to Rachel as her sister. Her decline into Alzheimer's has been steady but she has remained a caring and kind soul. As much as we will enjoy our independence once again, we'll also miss her sweet presence.

Charlie will miss the easy mark she was for scoring treats from her plate! Too many times he'd come up to us with food stuck to the top of his head that missed its mark when she dropped it to him.

I've been enjoying too much of a good thing and by that I'm referring to golf. Crystal Lake Golf Course is only a mile from our home and I was over there on the driving range, Friday, Saturday and Sunday working on finding that elusive groove. I joined a men's golf league which will start in May and I purchased a season pass. Yes, I just bolted out of the gate so to speak -- and fell flat on my face!

I was out at the course early yesterday morning before anyone else had arrived, excited to get my first round of the year in but after only a few holes I had aggravated the intercostal muscles of the ribs on my left side. It's a sharp pain and an injury that will likely prevent me from fully swinging a club for a month or so. I had to deal with this same injury back in '93 so I knew exactly what it was when it appeared. I'm hoping that because I stopped playing soon enough after noticing it that my recovery will be quicker than usual.

I can still practice my short game so I'm not totally dead-in-the-water but the practice range and the course are going to have to wait.


Untitled from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.