Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Dream to Ponder and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I had a dream about my Dad yesterday afternoon while I was catching a couple of hours of sleep before my all-night shift. It was a lengthy dream, or so it seemed, where one thing leads to another and another.

In my dream I was on my bike coming back home from Rosemount. I noticed that my wheels weren't turning over very easily and I thought that maybe it was because of the coarseness of the sidewalk I was on. I got off to look at my wheels and found myself standing in the driveway of some home where a bunch of people had gathered outside. We were all waiting for the owner to return because the only way to continue on our way was through their garage. I know, it makes no sense. While I was standing there a guy approached me and said he noticed my name on my jersey and wondered if my father's name was Peter. I told him it was and that he'd been dead for many years. He said he used to work for him at Control Data and that he remembers him as a really nice man. He opened up his tablet and quickly navigated to a photo he had of my dad. We continued walking down the sidewalk together and I was beginning to feel very emotional about what he was saying. I was fighting back tears. Tammy was now there and a squirrel crawled in between the spokes of my front wheel. She reached in to take him out but he ran away. I asked my dad's friend if he could tell me some stories about my dad and he said he'd be happy to. We took a seat on some grass beside the sidewalk and as he talked I began to cry. I tried to hold it back but couldn't. I felt embarrassed.

I woke up shortly after and felt sad at what I'd just experienced because it seemed so real. I don't typically remember my dreams in such detail but often times when I do I can associate them with something in my life. I have no clue where there might be a connection between my life and this dream but I'll ponder it over the next few days.

We brought the pups up to Jackie and Jerry's tonight where they'll be for the next several days while we head out west. It's been a while since they were there but I think they'll make the adjustment just fine. We're so grateful for them opening up their home to our little guys. They'll have plenty of company, love and a fenced-in backyard to keep them busy while we're away. Haha...they probably won't want to leave!

We won't be able to make it to the studio to blow glass for at least a couple weeks. Such is summer. I drove up to Foci yesterday to pick up our work from last week and came away with two pieces I was pleased with. One other piece missed the mark because of the copper ruby color I used. It's too dense and muddy to allow any light through. I was disappointed because the piece's shape and size were just right. Anyway, here's a photo of the other two pieces to the right.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is sweeping the net and social media sites. I was really hoping the whole thing would die down before I received a challenge but no such luck. Thanks, Pat! Actually, it's for a very good cause and I'll be making a donation in addition to having done the challenge.

I do think this would've been much more interesting and challenging had we all been doing this 6 months ago when it well below zero here!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting Outside My Bubble

I live in a bubble. I've got my comfortable life with all of the conveniences and distractions I could ever want for. I was complaining to Tammy yesterday morning that all of the mini marshmallows were stuck together in the bag and because of that I didn't want to hassle with them for my coffee. I know...pathetic for more than one reason. It's enough to cause me to feel a sense of guilt at times knowing that there are countless others for whom there are few if any guilty pleasures in their lives and still others for whom there is little hope for a better future from their world of abject poverty or upheaval caused by war. My Facebook feed lately is all too often riddled with postings by friends about fighting in the Middle East or rioting in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri as I/we/they paint with a broad brush, defining one large group of people by the actions of a few.

We've all developed our prejudices along the way and there's no lack of groups or places to go online to support whatever it is we want to believe about others no matter how off the mark our beliefs may be.

To get out of my bubble I turn to Humans of New York. The site is a pictorial blog started in 2010 by a guy named Brandon. Watch the video below for an understanding of what he's up to.

He's been doing some awesome work lately, taking his camera out of NYC and on a world tour, currently focused on the Middle East. Click on the photos and read the short stories that accompany each.

Hopefully his work will do for you what it does for me by showing you a more human side to others that is all too easily overshadowed by news accounts and opinions that can often work to give us a warped sense of other people and their cultures.

For living in the suburbs as we do we don't seem to lack very much for wildlife. I caught this video of a doe and her fawn running through our backyard last week. Then, the next morning I noticed a rabbit feeding on some grass in the front lawn as I took the pups out for a walk. That cute scene was obliterated an hour later when I heard its cries after a hawk had descended on it. Poor little guy.

Alex from across the street was telling me that he watched a coyote walk up the street in front of our homes recently. He had to do a double-take to be sure what he was seeing. The winter before last we had an eagle that we'd often see perched in the tree outside of Tammy's office window. While these animals are interesting to see, they also worry us because of our pups. I really don't feel comfortable leaving them unattended outside with predators like that around.

I was on my bike earlier than usual last Friday, intent on doing somewhere between 70 and 150 miles depending on how I felt once I got out there. We've had some excellent cycling weather the past several weeks with very little precip or strong winds to contend with and I've been enjoying it.

I let my garmin guide me along some roads I'd never ridden before as I made my way out of Medford and in the direction of Kenyon, not really sure how much I wanted to chew off but finding myself feeling more and more comfortable on the bike as the ride progressed.

A map of my route.

I made it back home with enough time and energy to check out the new outlet mall in Eagan with Tammy. I'm not much for outlet malls but it was something new to see. It looks impressive from the outside but there wasn't much going on inside that would cause me to think I'll be a regular there.

Toby and Allie turned 11 years old yesterday! We don't actually celebrate their birthdays but I do like to give them an extra hug or three and refer to them as the birthday girl and birthday boy throughout the day. They seem to like it.

Lakeville to Medford, Kenyon to Hampton and home. from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Monday, August 11, 2014

How Adventurous Do You Want To Get On Your Birthday?

Tammy recently asked me, "How adventurous do you want to get on your birthday?" I knew exactly what she was hinting at. "Are you thinking of skydiving?" I asked. She smiled. I knew it! This is something we've been kicking around for the longest time but never seriously enough to plan it out. My one concern I told her was my right knee and my reluctance to do anything that might injure it. I've seen the soft landings made in most jumps but for every several of those successes there's always the one that doesn't end so smoothly.

I dunno...this is something I could very easily be talked into. It's also something I could come to regret ever doing for a long time. What to do what to do what to do???

I went in for my annual FAA physical Monday afternoon and failed it. Not to be alarmed though because I failed it for reasons that are actually good. The EKG part has tripped me up before because of my heart's bradycardia condition. I recall having a nurse early on in my career joke with me that I was somehow slowing my heart-rate down on purpose. I told the tech administering the EKG that he'd likely be hooking me up again real soon.

Sure enough, the doctor entered the room I'd been waiting in and took a quick look at my EKG results: "Holy Shit!" he said then laughed and told me my resting heart-rate of 38 beats per minute wasn't going to cut it.  I'd need to do the test again but this time I'd have to do some exercises to get my heart-rate up above 51 bpm. I knew the drill.

My heart's slow heart-rate speaks to its strong condition and comes courtesy of all those miles spent in the saddle on my bike.

We went with Karen and Bob to see the Minnesota Lynx play the Chicago Sky at Target Center Thursday night. I can't remember the last time I was at a professional sporting event; it's been at least a dozen years. I'm not much for basketball but I still managed to have a really nice time. We were able to get some seats down near the court within spitball distance of Jesse Ventura. No other celebs were noted. It's a very family-friendly atmosphere. As you can see from the photo to the right and the video link, Prowl (Lnkx mascot) and I took a liking to each other.

Did I mention that I went for a nice ride a couple days ago?

Well I did...

(with special guest appearance by Tracee!)

Lakeville to Kenyon Loop from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I'm Ready for Another 15 Years!

What a full weekend it's been!

I surprised Tammy with tickets to see Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit Wednesday night at Vetter Stone Amphitheater in Mankato. We'd seen him back in February but the show left us wanting for more because it was less of a concert and more of a podcast production.

We sat through the first two acts while doing our best to make the most of our obstructed view. Just prior to capturing this video we were seated right behind this guy getting his groove on. Someone got up to move so we scooted over. He kept us entertained. We made our way toward the front of the stage before Jason and his band came out. Tammy was fortunate enough to score a spot on the rail just to the left of center-stage. I was really happy for her.

The weather was perfect and so was the night. What a great way for us to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary!

Speaking of our wedding...

Without question, Tammy and Rachel coming into my life has been the best thing that's ever happened to me and I literally thank God every day for bringing us together.

I'm ready for another 15 years!

I got up Thursday and knocked out my Jordan Loop before heading down to Rochester with Tammy to spend the afternoon with Rachel. She invited us down to check out the sights of Thursdays on First. It's a weekly thing in downtown Rochester where vendors sell artwork and other handmade crafts along the sidewalks. Oh, and lots of food too! It's always a nice time in addition to being one of the highlights of my summer. With Rachel's busy schedule it's not always a given that we can make it happen.

It never fails that as we say our goodbyes and drive away we talk about Rachel and how we think the world of her. I'll typically mention how fun it would be to be able to go back in time and relive some of those moments from years earlier. We miss all of that but there's also something to be said for watching her embrace life and step out into the world.

When Tammy was in her 20s she lived with her friend Sue in a house in Minneapolis and together they fostered four siblings (2 boys and 2 girls) for several years. It's been over 20 years since she's seen any of the them. She got a call from Sue a few days ago to let her know that John would be in town and she was wondering if Tammy would want to come up to Alexandria and see him. Whatever other plans we had could wait.

She got up there early Friday morning and they all spent the day together talking about the past and their lives today. Tammy was impressed by John and what he's done with his life. She said it was a really nice time. I'm hopeful to meet him one day as well.

While Tammy was in Alexandria I was doing my loop to St Bonifacius and hurrying back so we could make it for the last couple hours of the Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis, which we did. We kind of had to hurry our way through the fair but we still had a chance to chat with some glass artists we'd never met before as well as some friends who were participating in the fair. Another milestone of summer has come and gone.

Like I said...what a full weekend it's been!

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Cover Me Up from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Living Dangerously and Videos for Reminiscing

I had this past week off from work and that's always a dangerous thing at this point in my career. Our ever-changing plans are for me to work another 9 to 18 months but throughout the week I routinely found myself imagining what it would be like to not have to go text Tracee and ask her to please ready my paperwork to process me out. More than once I made a list in my head of both pros and cons for retiring now but the results were always the same. I'm determined to stay put and keep feathering our nest. We're not quite there yet but we're close.

I would love to see Tammy be able to call it quits before I do. She's never been more frustrated with her job and I really don't like to see her stressed the way she's been.

Toby had a rough start to the week. He was hesitating coming down the stairs in the morning as if in pain. He'd haltingly take one step at a time rather than the usual blur his little legs make when he's hurrying to get to his food bowl. Typically it's a race between Toby and Charlie to see who can get to the bottom of the stairs first. Toby will often nudge Charlie to the outside and force him up against the wall to slow him down while he goes for the win; it's sort of like a body-check in hockey. There's been none of that lately.

I called the vet and brought him in to be seen. She methodically checked out all of his joints before stating that she thinks he may have injured his right shoulder. She said it's possible that something may have fallen on him or that he may have taken a tumble down the stairs. We know that both Toby and Allie's eyesight isn't what it used to be so we're careful to turn the lights on for them when they're on the stairs. The vet gave me some pain meds for him and he's doing much better. I had them out for a walk this morning and he seemed to be back to his old self.

I got in a bunch of miles both walking and riding during my break. It was nice. I did one of my longer walks last Sunday of 15 miles. I've been doing lots of 8 to 12 mile walks but nothing quite that long. I was ready to get off my feet by the time I got home.

I used to often ride in the evening but somewhere in the last few years I've gotten away from that preferring to get my riding done earlier in the day. I made an exception last Wednesday night and took to the roads on the heels of rush hour traffic. I thoroughly enjoyed myself out there! I may need to make room for more of these evening rides to close out the day.

Evening ride into St Paul from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

The 3rd week in July is typically the peak for our gardens and this year is no exception. I did a walk around our yard with both my Panasonic Lumix camera and my Sony Handycam to capture some images and video for the archives to look back on years from now. Maybe I'm a little odd but I've always been one who enjoys reminiscing. The ability to capture moments has never been easier and I'm certain that I'd be upset with myself later in life if I didn't take the time to record scenes from our lives now.

And so I do...

Yard Tour, 2014 With a Special Appearance by Toby, Allie and Charlie! from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Suggestion or Two and Somebody's Got Mail!

I was clicking through channels one day last week when I landed on my all-time favorite movie: Breaking Away. It didn't matter that I have it on DVD, I couldn't pull myself away from it. I remember watching it in a theater by myself in San Diego when it came out in 1979. I loved it and the connection I felt with the lead character, Dave Stoller. I brought a couple friends from my ship the next night to see it again.

It's a coming of age movie about 4 friends from Bloomington, Indiana and a growing competition (born out of their own insecurities) between them and some of the college kids in town. I guarantee you that you won't be disappointed you took the time to watch it.

As of a couple weeks ago Rachel has a set of wheels to get around on. Her dad gave her his 2001 Toyota Camry with about 110,000 miles on it. This should be all she needs to get her through the next few years until she's more able to afford something newer. She's done well the last few years using her bike to get herself most places, even in the winter. She plans to continue using public transportation between Rochester and Minneapolis for her job as a medical scribe though because it's considerably cheaper than driving her car and paying for parking. I'm glad to see that she's got even more independence now.

She drove up Friday and stayed with us through Sunday. Her visit was timely because her diploma came in Saturday's mail. We didn't get to spend very much time together because she was getting together with friends who were also in town. Still, it was nice to see her.

We were in the studio last Wednesday for a few hours. Steve and Craig were putting on an impressive display of glassblowing skill on the far bench. We got a little bit of a late start so we could watch them.

Of my 3 turns at the bench I had two successes. I'm doing an occasional vase, bowl or tumbler but mostly I'm still really enjoying making the candle votives I've playing around with for the past several months. I tried something different and embedded a layer of frit between the 2nd and 3rd gather on the piece to the right. It gives a nice shimmering effect to the candlelight.

I do need to step it up a little though and move on to other forms.

It's been a dream of mine for pretty much all of my adult life to bicycle across the country. The dream hasn't totally died but I put its chances of ever happening at no more than 15%. Keith told me about the daughter of a friend of his who is cycling from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania to Seattle, Washington. Megan doesn't appear to be a hardcore cyclist although she did her share of riding in preparation for the trip. Wait a second...isn't someone who bicycles across the country a hardcore cyclist? Yeah, I stand corrected. You can follow along as I am through either her blog or on Facebook at Moon Cycle. She's a recent college graduate and began the cross-country trip with a friend but they decided to part ways somewhere just west of Chicago. She writes very well and has some interesting stories to share.

Speaking of riding; I'm finally getting out much more regularly than I'd been. It feels good and so does my troublesome right knee. I was riding Saturday morning and reconsidering my plans to 'go long' and opt for turning toward home instead. I had pulled over on the side of the highway to shoot off a quick email to a friend when Paul (from work) and his wife Tracy passed me by. Paul had quickly paused to see if I needed help before recognizing me through my helmet and shades. I thanked him and assured him I was fine before finishing my email and putting the chase on them, finally catching up with them a few miles up the road. We spent the next two hours riding together and turned what for all of us had been somewhat mediocre rides into something a lot more enjoyable.

I'm typically a solo cyclist but a departure from the norm was welcome.

Thanks to my friend Eugene Benjamin for the backing music...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Freezers on the Fritz and a Summer Celebration

Tammy noticed our freezer in the basement had stopped working and most of its contents had melted and spilled out onto the floor. At about the same time she was telling me of the mess she'd just finished cleaning I was reaching for a frozen pizza from the upstairs freezer and noticed that it too was struggling to keep the food frozen. Both units had power to them but something was seriously wrong. I had a tech out from Tony's Appliance in Burnsville the next day and he diagnosed the problem as a failed compressor in both the downstairs freezer and our upstairs refrigerator/freezer. I kind of figured as much. Neither one would be worth fixing. We'd had a strong storm come through two days earlier and the tech said it's quite likely that the storm could've caused a power surge that took out both units. We're just thankful it didn't happen while we were away on vacation.

We'll have some new appliances delivered this week and while we wait we're thankful for the mini-fridge in our downstairs kitchenette.

Our next-door neighbors, Karen and Bob, hosted our annual summer get-together Friday night. It's always a fun time when they host a party. Always! We've got a really nice group of neighbors who usually show up. There was a time a dozen years ago when the neighborhood was definitely on the cliquey side and we never felt comfortable with that crowd. Karen and Bob go out of their way to be very inclusive but even so there are many who take a pass and I get that. We can be more than a little loud once the party gets rolling.

I got out this morning for my Jordan loop. It's 43 miles and something I can easily knock out before my late morning shift at the salt mine. Light winds, low humidity and comfortable temps made for ideal riding conditions. I'd take a year of days just like today if I could.

I brought it home in a 19.1 mph (30.7 km) average speed which for where my training is at this year is something I'm happy with.

It's been about 9 weeks since I had my Synvisc injection in my right knee to help alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis. The PA who administered the shot told me to allow 3 to 6 weeks for it to get up to speed and begin helping. He was right. It was a couple weeks ago when I noticed that I'm riding virtually pain free. How amazing is that? It feels like I've dialed the clock back 30 years on my knee. It's that good! I have to be careful not to overdo it which is asking a lot some days. Only time will tell how many months of relief the injection brings me. So far so good.

Jalisco Terrace Party from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.