Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas

Happy birthday, Jesus!

I worked the morning shift yesterday and got to work at 4:30am. It was nice to get off early as I had some last minute running around to do before getting some steaks on the grill and getting to church for the 3:00pm service. I couldn't believe the traffic in Apple Valley...it was nuts! Total gridlock like I've never seen in that city before. For the most part, people were being very courteous and where traffic was merging together, drivers were taking turns and meshing lanes nicely. I was in a long line of traffic trying to get out of the Target, Best Buy parking lot onto a main road. The traffic on the main road was relentless and people in front of me weren't being given much chance to pull out. When they did go they had to be aggressive. So this guy a couple cars in front of me pulls out and in the process the oncoming traffic has to brake so this guy can get out and merge into a lane which is stopped. It doesn't matter that all the traffic is stopped 30 feet ahead...a guy comes up and blares his horn on this poor guy trying to pull out and doesn't seem to realize that he's not going anywhere anyway in 20 feet. Cool your jets guy...good grief, it's Christmas Eve!

Tammy had everything all set at home when I finally got there. I got the steaks on the grill and we had a very nice dinner...Rachel, Tammy and I. We decided to open a few gifts before church but we saved most of them for when we got back. Church was nice but I was so tired after dinner and having been up since 3:15am that I was struggling to stay awake for part of the sermon. I caught my head nod a couple times and looked over at Tammy and Rachel and got the 'busted' look from them. They understood and smiled.

Rachel was very happy with her Christmas haul...it was a Justin Timberlake Christmas at our home this year. It was also supposed to be a very Paul Frank Christmas too but we were a bit thin on his stuff. She did get a couple Paul Frank things but for the most part we took a pass on the stuff as it was too expensive.

Jackie and Jerry came by with Kelsey, Cole and Cassidy around noon to see the pups before we all headed over to Mom's for the afternoon. Toby and Allie were so excited to see them. It was a very nice time. Tim was already there when we arrived and Erin and Clayton showed up a little later. Great food and great company.

I gave Mom a photo album I put together of various photos from over the years. The album had different size cutouts on each page where the photos went making it a bit putzy at times to size the photos to fit. It turned out very nice. The opening photo is one of her mother when she was about 19 years old and the final photo is of Mom's great grandchild, Cassidy. All the photos in between sort of flow from earlier to later years. I know she liked it because she was crying as she paged through it.

Jackie drove with me as I had to head up north to pick up Rachel at her Dad's home about 40 miles away and only a few miles from her home. It was nice to spend some time with her and not be on the phone doing it. We've grown so much closer the past few months and I'm so thankful for that. Our whole family is much closer than we were a year ago. There are still some issues which may never be resolved but I think we're all intent on moving forward and puting our differences aside.

Tammy and Rachel leave for her parent's home tomorrow. I'm still struggling with the headaches (which I thought were done a week ago) so I'm going to lay low. I still haven't been on my bike yet either and that's weighing on me. Every day I lose more of my fitness and I don't like that. I intend to get on it tomorrow though...in fact, I will be back to my blog then to write about my workout.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2003

I'm Back

Thanks be to God that my headaches are over...for the most part. I went to bed last night believing I'd make it through the night without being awoken by a stabbing pain in my left eye...and I did. I had a couple of much smaller cluster h/a during the day but nothing like I'd been experiencing.

It's time to get back on my bike and get some miles into my legs so I'm ready to hit the roads as soon as they're ready. I was even thinking today about putting my running on hold for a year so I can really focus on my bike. I'd like to ride 6000 road miles this year and if I'm trying to run also it's going to make it difficult. I won't run and ride in the same day...I used to but not anymore. Anyway, I'm excited to be on the mend again and looking forward to getting on my new wheels too...the Mavic Ksyriums. I even had my bike into the shop a couple weeks ago to have the headset and bottom bracket overhauled as well as the usual stuff they do in a tune up...so I'm ready to go with the exception of some new skins. Who would'a thunk that when I last rode my bike the second week in October that I'd be off it for over two months.

Tammy is up giving Toby and Allie a bath...she gave them haircuts last week and we had to laugh a bit at the results. She did a good job but we both agreed that she would only get better at it. :)

Mark called me tonight to help him pick up a new piano from Schmidt Music and move it home. I'm glad I don't do that for a living cause I'd starve. I think I strained my knees a bit but I still plan to ride tomorrow...this is my priority tomorrow! To ride!

I'm listeing to City on a Hill, It's Christmas Time. It's a compilation from several Christian groups...Jars of Clay, Third Day, Sara Groves, Caedmon's Call and some others. Really nice. Here's a song titled, It's Christmas Time.

My friend at work got his hand stuck in his snowblower blade last night and lost his index finger as well as mangling three other fingers on his left hand...and he's left handed. He's expected to be out of work for three weeks. I called him today to see how he's doing. He was trying to remove some heavy, wet snow from the auger but had failed to shut the power off to the auger. I told him things could have been much worse and he agreed. He feels blessed to have gotten away with what little damage he did. In a situation like that it's not uncommon for a person's whole arm to be ripped off.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Homeless



Tammy and Rachel just got back from violin class and dance class. Tammy said they had 30 minutes to kill downtown before the lesson so they stopped into a courtyard restaurant to get a bite. They noticed a homeless man in his 50s trying to get some warmth inside from out of the windy cold. Tammy approached him and asked if he would like a sandwich. He said he'd like that. She brought him to the register and had him pick out whatever he wanted. He ordered a turkey sandwich with apple pie and a drink. She asked him if he wanted some fruit to put in his pocket for later on but he declined. She said goodbye in the name of Christ and they went to class. I love that she will do this sort of thing.

When we were in San Francisco a couple years ago we encountered so many homeless people begging for money...most likely for their next drink. We bought a bunch of cheese and cracker snacks and packages of peanuts to pass out instead of money. They were always glad and never disappointed or at least if they were they didn't show it.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Family Time

Tammy, Rachel and I are down here in the shop, each on our own computers. They're playing Minesweeper through msn messenger. I'm obviously typing in my blog. Had an overtime shift today and that was good because I had nothing pressing to be done today...except for Christmas shopping which I have yet to start. Tammy's given me a couple ideas for her and Rachel put together a well thought out list of stuff...she always makes it so easy for us. I only have one request...an mp3 player for my workouts. I should get online and narrow it down to one or two.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I Am Sooo Tired

But that's okay because I've gotten so much done on my website. I've been at work all night and rather than try and catch some sleep on my break time I stayed awake and went through the pages inserting the new menu. I'm not using a css template so I'm doing each one individually. I'm into the site too deep now to back out but the next one I make will be done quite a bit differently. Anyway, I've got this site about how I want it for uploading more photos to it. It was cluttered with nav buttons until the new menu. It's not totally how I'd like it but it's much better than it was. I've still got a couple dozen pages to modify.

I got an email back from Carol Conti at ASGLA They liked the photos of the Laburnum lamp and wanted more information about its base. I think the shade photographed very well but I wasn't happy with the base and cap. They seemed pleased with the results.

I noticed last week that the Google search bots have finally indexed my Navy pages from the site. That's very cool because when I put the site together I placed several friends names within the html code. So...if they or a friend happens to run a search on their name they'll quite likely get directed to my site and the photos of themselves from 25 years ago. The message board is also there if they want to leave a message. This could be fun.

It's my weekend...just getting ready to pack up and head home. I need to sleep for a day and maybe more but I can't because I've got stuff I have to do. Such is my life but I'm not complaining...just kinda tired.

Friday, December 5, 2003

Tammy's Birthday

It's just turning past midnight as I write this and it's Now Tammy's birthday. We celebrated it with Rachel tonight because her dad is picking her up after school tomorrow and there won't be time then. I had hoped to secretly bake her a cake but there just wasn't a chance for me to do it without her knowing. Mom was going to do it for me but I figured it wasn't such a big deal if she knew what I was up to so I let her know that I was about do something I don't typically do much of...cook. Actually, it turned out very well...German chocolate...one of her favorites...and I made it a two layered cake. No simple single layer for my gal. All my surprises were found out about before their time as I'd set flowers out on the table for her tonight after she went to bed but she had to get up again and found them. That's okay because she went to sleep with a smile.

I'm very happy with the slides I took of my Laburnum lamp the other day. These are the best I've done and I'll be sending a couple off to the calendar people tomorrow. I'm hoping they can give me some feedback so I can re-shoot them if they think I need to.

Well, it's official...we had Toby and Allie to the vet today and it was determined that Toby is overweight! Allie weighs 6.2 lbs while Toby is 8.3. I wasn't surprised and now we'll have to work to keep him out of her food bowl. I'm sure hoping they'll both enjoy walking as Snickers did. I used to love our walks together. Everyday we'd go out for at least 45 minutes and sometimes over an hour. She looked forward to that time together so much and I enjoyed giving her that happiness. She would give me that look which said it was time for our walk. Sometimes she'd lead me over to the door in an excited way to let me know. When she was younger I used to hang her leash on a hook and she'd nudge it with her nose to let me know what she wanted. I'd really rather not write about her just yet because it's getting late and when I do talk about her I want to do it right. I think of you every day little one and forever will.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Pressing On

I took yesterday off to spend time with Bryan He came over in the morning and we spent a couple hours trying to photograph my Laburnum lamp with his digital camera. They didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. I told him I'd drag them into Photoshop to see if I could improve on them but I'm not very hopeful. After messing with the photographing we went over to Claudia and Ron's and visited with them and Tim. We spent a couple hours and had a nice visit. Bryan was going to get a photo of Ron but when I said I'd like to include it on the website Ron said 'no'. Whatever.

I had a Cluster h/a come on while we were there but I went into the bathroom and took and Imitrex and was able to knock it out after 20 minutes or so. I'm hoping I'm nearly done with them for this cycle...maybe another 7 to 10 days.



This is another photo of Bryan's which I like very much.

I said goodbye to Bryan and he headed over to Mom's for dinner and the night. I went back down in the shop and shot what was left in my camera and a roll of Kodak Professional slide film on the Laburnam lamp. I'd gotten the ASGLA (Association of Stained Glass Lamp Artists) newsletter in the mail the other day and it said that entries for the 2005 calendar need to be in by Feb 1st. I've shot several rolls of film on my lamps trying to get the color right but it's very difficult to have everything come together. I'll pick up the slides and prints today and see if I'm anywhere close to having something to submit.

I've been playing around with the Where's George website for a few months. You make a marking on a bill which prompts people to enter the bill's serial number into the website. For each time it's entered, it's tracked and the initiator receives a message telling them where the bill was entered back into the system. Anyway, I marked 11 one dollar bills with the Where's George tracking info and put them in an envelope and then left them on the front seat of Bryan's truck on my way to work this morning. I put a note on the envelope telling him it was to be used as coffee money on his way home and not to spend them all in one place and not to spend them anywhere near here.

I did poke my head in when I stopped by Mom's this morning to say hello and goodbye to Bryan. He got on the road by 5:45am and last I'd heard, he was just outside of Sioux Falls, SD around 10:00am. He's taking I-90 west toward Rapid City and then northwestward from there towards Portland. I think he had a nice visit.

Monday, December 1, 2003

Bryan (aka Dave)

My brother Bryan is in town for a few days on his way back to Portland. He's taking a month to travel the country in his truck and photograph his journey. Recently he quit his job and got out of the corporate rat race with the idea of taking a year off to put some effort into beginning his own business in photography. If anyone can make a go of it I think he can. He met his wife Sue at her mother's home in Hickory, NC for Thanksgiving. Apart from that one rendezvous, he's been on no particular schedule. On the way south out of Portland to Texas he stayed off the interstate and took the back roads which I thought was pretty cool. He's taken some beautiful photographs along the way...he's really got an eye for photography. This was in a bunch of photos he emailed me today...



Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, not all of them are as...what's the word I'm looking for...sad? Dark? Dreary? I'm not sure but his photos run the gamut.

So I'm sleeping soundly this morning and the phones wakes me up at 7:00. It was Bryan saying he'd be right over after he had breakfast. He got there around 7:45 and was attacked by Toby and Allie after I practically had to show him to them...these guys aren't the best watchdogs I've seen. We went down in the shop and got his laptop online after some minor glitches. We putzed around for a couple hours then I went up to take a shower and get ready for work. I took him to lunch at Perkins then he was heading for an oil change and Jackie and Jerry's.

We had a real nice visit. I suppose we talked mostly about family stuff...about Dad, Claudia and a little about Tim...we also touched on how he (Bryan) was doing and his kids. It was just real nice to sit across from him and talk. Before, when we'd get together I always felt like he was talking down to me but I didn't sense that this time. I'm not sure what the difference was...maybe I felt like he was listening more to what I had to say.

I burned him a copy of the new Jars of Clay cd and included a few songs from the Furthermore discs. I'm really liking and listening to this cd a lot.

I'm taking tomorrow off work to get together with Bryan again. He's going to drive to my house and I'll drive us over to Claudia's house to see her and Ron and Tim. I've been meaning to get over there and see Tim so this will do that for me.

Speaking of Toby and Allie...Tammy has been working with them daily using the 'clicker' training method. She's got them both sitting and laying on command. I've worked with them some but no nearly as much. Those little guys are sooo cute. They still have a ways to go before we can give them their potty training diplomas but they're making progress. Toby waits by the back door when he has to go out but you have to see him before long or he does what he has to do then resumes his playing. Allie's not far behind.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Sunday Morning

What a beautiful day! So beautiful that snow will melt and that's a good thing. Tammy's reading the Star Tribune and I just got done with my bible reading for the day...Toby and Allie are barking and chasing each other around the house.

Bible reading...two years ago our church challenged the members to follow a study guide which would have you read the entire bible in a year. We did that and have continued our daily reading into this year. I've really struggled with much of what I've read in the Old Testament. It was such a barbaric time where women were treated as goods and not afforded rights we take for granted. I still struggle with King David. He was far from perfect but he would kill others for lesser offenses than those which he himself committed. Fortunately for me my bible does a very good job of explaining the context within which what I'm reading was written. Without the explained background of the times it would be difficult to just accept things on their face. Tammy is also a good source for understanding.

My faith is very important to me and has been for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure even my closest friends (not that there are many) know its role in my life. It's not something I'm embarrassed of but it's also not something I beat people over the head with. I'm not much of an evangelist, I know.

I got called into work for an overtime shift yesterday. That's a good thing as that should pay for the softener I bought Mom this week. :)

Friday, November 28, 2003

Mom

We made Mom's day today. Jackie told me earlier in the week that she and Jerry had bought her a new hot water heater without her knowing and were going to install it today. I mentioned that she also needed a new water softener but she always had several excuses why she didn't want to get another. Her other one gave up the ghost a couple years ago. Anyway, I decided it would be nice to get that for her to go along with Jackie and Jerry's gift.

So, this morning I got up early and loaded up the softener and stopped by Fleet Farm to get 300 lbs of salt to go with it and drove out to Mom's to wait for Jerry, Jackie and Cole. They were late getting there so I helped Mom set up her tree and decorate it while we shared some small talk about the goings on in our lives. I imagine Mom was wondering why I was hanging around so long but she never said anything as I'm sure she was happy for my company. I'm usually in some stupid hurry when I stop by but not today. Just a second...could somebody please explain this to me...I mean, I know it goes from 12 people to 13 people but I can't figure out how...



Okay...back to Mom...so, Jackie calls on the cell phone and starts asking Mom about some store coupon. All the while Mom thinks she's calling from home but she's actually right outside her door leaving an evergreen floral basket and ringing the doorbell. As Mom goes to answer the door she finds the basket and asks me if I know who left this...who me? Now, Jackie, Jerry and Cole are coming in the back entrance through the garage to surprise Mom. Jackie asked Mom if she knew why we were here and of course I hadn't told her. When she told her she was getting a new hot water heater and water softener she began to cry. I gave her a hug and told her I was happy for her.

Mom made us all breakfast then I drove Jackie and Cole to my house so I could take Rachel and Cole sledding. I dropped them off at the hill and went back to see if Jerry needed some help.Aleah and Pat had stopped by and Pat was there to help should Jerry need it.

So while I'm gone, Tammy got a call from her dad saying that he wondered if maybe she should come up as her mother is quite ill with the flu, cold and sore throat. Tammy talked to her mom and decided it would be best to stay home and just let Mom get some rest. I encouraged her to go and bring Toby and Allie with her but after speaking with her mom we agree it probably was best not to go up. Rachel is heading up to Camille's for the weekend so Tammy and I have a couple free nights together. I'd love to enjoy a glass of wine with her tonight but I'm afraid I can't while I'm still in my Cluster headache period...bummer.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Showing Theresa How It All Works

Okay, the meal was great and now we're all down in the shop with three different computers going...showing Theresa how to set up a weblog.

I Almost Forgot

Family Photos and a Family Forum

When I started our website back in the Spring I had this idea to mostly use it as a way to be able to post some photos of some of the stained glass we've done. I have friends who would occasionally ask to see photos of it and I thought it would be nice to be able to give them a URL instead and they could check it out on their own. So I put together the site with that idea in mind.

About this time last year I was busy archiving all of our family photos. I got whatever Mom had and I was also given a bunch from others in our family. I'd scan them and burn them to discs. As I started looking at them I noticed that many were in poor condition and I quickly learned how to touch them up in Photoshop. So I began this huge undertaking of going through every photo and cleaning them up. I imagine I'll still be doing it a couple years from now as it's that big a project and I've got all sorts of other things to also do with my spare time. Anyway, it occurred to me that I could post some of the photos on the site for everyone to see as the work progressed. So the site is now a combination Family, stained glass and photos from my time in the Navy.

Along the way I got the idea to attach a message board to the site so we could comment on some of the photos...and so I did. It's been a bit slow to get it going but there are 4 of us who regularly contribute...Bryan, Jackie, Claudia and me. It's entertaining to hear others thoughts about whatever it is we're discussing and maybe some long overdue confessions along the way from our childhood. So the past couple days we'd been discussing Dad and wondering about his childhood. All was fine until Claudia complains that we're not letting Dad rest in peace because we're apparently dredging up a past which should be left alone...excuse me...what is your problem? Nobody is trashing Dad, save for a few comments about his alcoholism but so what. If anything, we were expressing our thankfulness to him for all he did for us over the years.

I believe Claudia is the only one who has any contact with Dad's side of the family. When Dad left home for the Navy he never had much contact with his family the rest of his life with the exception of the occasional phone call and Christmas card. He left with a lot of resentment toward his older sister who cared for him after his parent's died. Not much was ever said to us about his bitterness but I just learned from my mother yesterday that he was sexually molested as a young boy by his sister's husband's brother. That being enough on its own but I think there was more to it all but suffice it to say that he had no desire to forgive and forget whatever came between them. Claudia, however, is sympathetic to those on my Dad's side of the family who want to trash his name...and they do. So who is the one not letting Dad rest in peace?

I was really hoping the message board could be a source of healing and understanding for us as siblings to be able to get together in a fun way and build on our relationships. Maybe I'm thinking too much again. I don't mind a bit of differing in opinions on the board but I was hoping we wouldn't have to deal with the over-the-top reactions like Claudia's yesterday. I think she spends a good deal of time on other message boards and I think she thrives on the confrontation you can find there. I just wish she'd save it for the other boards.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

This Is So Good!

I'm listening to the new Jars of Clay cd today and I have to say that this is such a nice sound. The first song almost has a Jayhawks feel to it. Tammy and Rachel have decided to stay home with me for Thanksgiving as Tammy's mom isn't feeling at all well. I wasn't up for the trip so I was staying home, regardless. It'll be nice to have our own Thanksgiving dinner. Theresa and Tony will be coming over for dinner.

It's been six weeks since I've worked out. Tammy keeps telling me to take it easy while I'm going through this cluster phase and so I do. I'm worried that I'm losing muscle though as well as some cardiovascular strength so I can't let this go much longer. It does feel nice to give myself a break as I'd been working it pretty steady for quite a while. This is the longest break I've had since I don't know when.

I finished the year with 3800 miles on the road. Not spectacular but the last six weeks of riding were very, very good for me. I hope to push the 6000 mile mark next year now that I've got myself into the mode of going long distance again. I'm especially looking forward to using my new wheels. It seems for quite a while now I haven't had much faith in my current wheels. I was overdue for these wheels. Apart from the 6000 mile goal on the road I also have a goal of riding to Babbitt, MN in one day. It'll be a 260 mile trip but if I train right and find a day with a tail wind I should be able to do it. I should begin to map the trip out so I'm ready to go. I know the guys at Flanders can help me with directions to get me up toward Duluth.

The Duplex

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Mellow My Mind



It's been a long weekend and now my work week is just beginning. I got a lot done through and I feel good about that. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...not really. But it is.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Tim and Dad

My brother, Tim, stopped by last Friday. Our relationship has been strained so much the past few years that there was a time when I wondered if there was anything left to salvage. That's twice now in the last three weeks that he's stopped by. A year ago our family was in turmoil and so many of us had for the most part given up speaking with one another. Ours is a classic dysfunctional family. An alcoholic father and an enabling mother. Not only was my dad an alcoholic but he was also a work-aholic.

Although I seldom saw my dad without a drink when I was a boy, I don't think there was necessarily abuse occurring. I can never recall seeing my dad falling down, or obviously drunk. I'm sure he was feeling a buzz and taking off an edge but nothing more. It wasn't until he lost his job in the Spring of '85 that his drinking became a problem. He'd been a financial planner with Control Data for most of his career and in the Spring of '85 his division was bought out by a company named VTC. Dad was let go by the new group within a few months of the buyout. It was then that he crawled inside the bottle from which he would never emerge. He filed an age discrimination suit but he was really on the leading edge of that sort of thing back then and he simply didn't have the money to follow it through. He ended up settling for attorney fees and walked away with a much smaller pension than he'd planned for.

I remember he and Mom were in the middle of planning their retirement home with an architect and those plans were quickly shelved. They sold their home and moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where we have relatives from my Mom's side. I don't know if my Dad gave up by running away so to speak or if he really thought he could begin again in Michigan. My parent's found a home to rent for a couple years and then bought a home They also purchased an old barn in a beautiful location on the road into Houghton. They renovated it and turned it into Landmark Rental. I'll finish this later...

I was living in Huron SD at the time but I was getting home ever 6 weeks so I wasn't totally detached. I can remember driving in my car in Huron while listening to WCCO on the radio and hearing of the merger/buyout/whateveritwas and wondering if it would affect Dad. It was sometime in early 1985. I think he lasted maybe four or five months before they pulled the rug out from under him. We look back today and wonder if maybe Dad had begun to drink more heavily after the merger and that maybe the new people saw him as a liability to be gotten rid of. It's hard to know. Just the previous year he'd won an award for his performance and I can't be sure but I want to say it was 'Employee of the Year' for his division. Not something they just give to anybody.

So he and Mom sold their home and moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where Dad started going through money like there was no tomorrow. He spent a large amount getting the business going. It was to be a tape rental as well as equipment rental shop. They also operated a Ryder Truck rental out of their lot. Tim (my brother) moved up to help them run the business but between my dad and him and both their drinking excesses the business never got off the ground. They kept it going for a couple years but eventually had to sell the building.

It was a very difficult time for my mom. I think she just hung on to the hope that things couldn't get any worse and that tomorrow would be better. On a couple occasions she left Dad and drove back to Minnesota to stay with Noy and I. She'd last a couple days then have to go home as she was too worried about Dad being on his own and what might happen. She was so tired on one of her trips to Minnesota that she fell asleep at the wheel and ran off the road and through a fence.

Meanwhile, Dad had fallen into a routine of driving to Mass City everyday for whatever he needed to keep himself drunk. It was sometime in the early '90s that Mom finally called the police and had him pulled over. How he never killed anyone only God knows as his blood alcohol content was around .3. His license was taken away and I'm not sure he ever forgave Mom for that although he should have thanked her. All the while he was suffering more and more from emphysema and it wouldn't be long until he was pretty much confined to his chair in the living room tied to his oxygen tank. It's the side of smoking you usually don't get to see because the people who suffer with it have a difficult time getting out in public. I'm sure fewer people would smoke if they had a clearer picture of the end game.

As I sit here and write these thoughts of my dad I realize that I'm just touching the surface with most of this. My thoughts and memories go much deeper than these words. I'm dwelling on mostly negative things about my dad but I do realize that he had some very good qualities about him as well. He loved to help out the underdog and try and give a hand up to those he felt could use it. He was a bit of a dreamer and I admired that quality in him. He was a pretty simple guy when it was all boiled down. He had difficulty with authority and that never served him well especially when it came to the corporate world. He could have had a VP designator in front of his name but he wasn't one to play the game to make it happen. He remained a financial planner/manager and it paid the bills. More later...

Sunday now and I have no idea how long this ramble of mine will last.

I came across some of my dad's writings recently where he talked about some of his earliest memories. His parents died when he was a young boy. I think his father died when my dad was 4 and his mother died when he was around 8. He was raised by his older sister, Vi and her husband, Joe. He carried with him a lot of resentment toward both of them. Here's an early photo of my dad and his mother and brother and possibly and aunt...not sure.

I used to feel that I never had enough individual time with my dad when I was growing up but being one of six kids in the family and knowing how much it takes to maintain a household I now realize he did the best he could. We always lived in a nice home and never lacked for anything important.

My dad died in September '95 from a combination of emphysema and heart failure. I had been up to see him the week before but I wasn't there when he died. I remember how hard it was to say goodbye to him knowing it would be the last time I'd ever see him. I remember looking back at him as I left the room and feeling the weight of knowing he would die soon. There had been many close calls in the year leading up to his death but I was certain I wouldn't see him again. When he finally did die I came home to an answering machine message left by Jackie saying that "Dad died at 3:15 today". She was crying and that's all she could say. My stepson, Dave, was in town and we'd been out golfing. I remember thinking how I was out enjoying myself and my dad lay dying in the hospital.

Noy, Dave, Snickers and I drove to Michigan and met the rest of the family there. We all stayed in the same hotel and I remember how the grandkids had fun being together ordering pizza and running through the halls to each others rooms. The photo to the right is of Dave and Snickers from the trip.

I think it was a year before I ever broke down and cried for my dad after his death. I'm not sure why I did at that time but I recall it happening. Mostly I was relieved when he died both for my mom and my dad. His life had become a painful existence and I know it was hard on my mom in so many ways. She's not at all a selfish person and I'm sure she was happy to be there for him but it was consuming her.

After Dad died, Mom remained in Winona for another year before moving back to be near us kids in the Twin Cities. She eventually bought a townhome about 5 miles from me. She's a busy lady these days with not enough time in her day. She's volunteers 3 to 4 days a week at Hosanna and has really found a new depth to her faith there. She's got such a servant's heart that I can't begin to say enough good things about her.

This started out being an entry about my brother, Tim but I somehow got sidetracked talking about my dad. I hope to see Tim this Thanksgiving as well as my sister, Claudia and her family and continue the healing.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

So Far So Good

Still taking the Prednisone and doing well. It's when I begin to back off the stuff that it gets difficult. I managed 4 hours of sleep last night and 3 the night before that. My heart beat was elevated yesterday...72. I didn't check it today. Usually it's in the mid 40s. Tammy happened to check it otherwise I'd have never known.

I tried recording a show with the laptop tonight but I don't have it configured correctly yet. I think I may have to plug it in directly to the cable box where the signal comes in. The media center with my laptop is very cool and I'm looking forward to using some of the features. It would be a waste of money not to take advantage of them.

It snowed hard today for several hours. Tammy brought Toby and Allie out in it and Toby was having fun trying to catch snowflakes in his mouth. I'd like to have seen that. Those little guys are sooo cute. They really bring a lift to you if you're not having the best day.

Sunday, November 9, 2003

They're Back

My Cluster headaches have returned like I as afraid they would. I woke up last night to the beginnings of one but it subsided just as quickly. It came back this morning at 11:00 and I could tell it wasn't going away. I inhaled an Imitrex and started the Prednisone. It stopped it nicely but left me with a lingering achy head. I don't like the stress that me having them places on Tammy. I think she wants so badly to take them away but she can't. She's a Registered Nurse and she's very intuitive to my needs. They typically last 4 to 5 weeks so there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Tammy and I went out to get the new Jars of Clay cd last night and ended up coming home with a new laptop from Best Buy. My nephew, Brent, is a sales manager at Best Buy and he sold it to us. I'd been looking at a Dell so I've been researching them a bit. We got a wide screen Toshiba, 2.8ghz, 60gb hd...very nice unit. Tammy will inherit my Sony Vaio so now Rachel doesn't play second fiddle to anybody for the desktop computer. I'm going to reformat it tonight when I get home from work though as the guy who set it up misspelled my name in the registry and it can't be changed and I just have to have spelled right don't you know...it shouldn't be a problem as I haven't added much to it.

Not only did we get Jars of Clay new cd but we also bought Coldplay's live cd. It comes with a dvd of some concert footage which is very, very good. I'd recommend both. If you've never heard Jars of Clay you should give them a listen if you're anywhere between the ages of 12 to 62.



Saturday, November 8, 2003

Men Without Hats

Hello

This past week has been a struggle for me. I've been getting some indications that my Cluster headaches are about to return. I suppose I'm overdue for another cycle of them but the thought is a depressing one.

It's been one month since I've felt strong and healthy. The trip to Disney World took a lot out of me. The Bronchitis and now these headaches looking like they're ready to take over. I have a feeling it's going to be some time before I'm where I want to be.

As I write this, Toby and Allie are going nuts running around the shop. So full of energy and dickens.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Halloween 2003 and The Elms

We had a total of 62 trick-or-treaters tonight...not as many as usual. Some very cute costumes. Rachel went dressed in a Gothic costume and looked very much the part.

Tammy and I took Toby and Allie up to Jackie's to see their parents and Frannie before she goes to her new home next week. The pups had a great time playing nonstop for the 3 hours we were there. Jackie grilled steaks and fed us a fantastic meal...wow...I'm glad Tammy doesn't cook like that because I'd have a weight problem.

We went to Club 3 Degrees last night in downtown Minneapolis to see The Elms. What a show and what a nice Christian club. We made an exception and kept Rachel out later than we wanted. We thought it was worth it to let her see some older kids having a good time in that environment...no alcohol and no smoke. I can't get over how good the Elms are. That was the 2nd time we've seen them and we won't hesitate to go again.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Goodbye Ole and Lena :(

I said goodbye to Ole and lena today. I found a nice sturdy cardboard box which I cut air holes into and packed them away in. I sent them to Susan in Colorado Springs via 'next day air' with the USPS. I hope they enjoy their new home. I'd been keeping them in a 30 gallon aquarium so when they get a feel for their new 155 gallon tank it's going to allow them so much more room to roam.

Today was also a sad milestone for me as it was one year ago today that Snickers died. I know Toby and Allie are going to be great additions to our family but I'm not sure that I'll ever have the connection with them that I shared with Snicks.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Finding a New Home

I posted a message to a lizard newsgroup yesterday in hopes of finding a new home for Ole and Lena. It seems that I just don't have the time for them since Toby and Allie have arrived. Between Toby and Allie, the aquarium and Ole and Lena, I need some relief so a new home I must find for them...and it appears I may have. I got an email from a woman named, Susan, from Colorado and she would love to have them. She's got a 155 gallon aquarium all ready for them. That's a much larger tank than they're currently in so I feel very good about that.

I finally made it to church this morning after having been away for I think one month. It's nice to get back but it would've been nicer if Tammy was with me...she had to work. I love Hosanna! It's a church which is unlike any I've ever attended. It's a Lutheran church but not your ordinary Lutheran church. I believe the Holy Spirit is actually there among us. Hosanna has so many talented people who lead the service but I have just one complaint. The music is too loud. Tammy and I have been wearing earplugs for the past few months during the praise part of the service as it's uncomfortably loud sometimes. You really notice it when you come into church late and the music is full tilt.

Friday, October 24, 2003

From Dog Food to Puppies

So I'm sitting here watching Toby and Allie chase each other around the house and a thought occurs to me...Isn't is amazing that simple dog food in your hand becomes these little creatures, full of love and dickens?

These goofballs wrestle all day...they seldom let up. They'll crash for a bit but as soon as they awake they're back at it. Just when I think one of them is being picked on a bit too much I'll notice that the same pup is giving back as good as it gets. A lot of taunting going on. It's so funny to watch...especially when one of them assumes a crouching position and is attempting to sneak up on the other...in full view...and the other is watching the whole time and getting frustrated. Almost as if to say...attack me already!

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Me Again

I finished reading Lance Armstrong's latest book, Every Second Counts, the other night. Unlike his last book, this one got into some team tactics and previous race scenarios and his thoughts at the time. Interesting, to me anyway.

Speaking of riding, it's been over two weeks since I've been on my bike. I'm not bothered by it too much because we were out of town for a week and I've been sick so it's not like I've been a slacker. I'm so glad to have finally found some good form again. Ever since my accident over two years ago I've had a difficult time feeling comfortable on my bike. But I think I'm back now and maybe I'll always be a bit less carefree than I was before the accident but it's so good to know that I'm able to put in the miles like I used to.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Sigh

Don't ever take your health for granted. I found myself feeling guilty today because I was complaining about being ill with a cold, sore throat and no energy...then I got to thinking about those who have cancer or something similar which they may never recover from. It makes my temporary condition not worth complaining about in comparison.

I finished Lance Armstrong's latest book, Every Second Counts the other day. A very good book even though I may be a bit biased. His recovery from cancer is nothing short of miraculous but he doesn't acknowledge any real higher power for his victory. He talks about team tactics in this book, something he didn't do in his last book. The race discussions were very interesting, especially his thoughts on his latest tour victory.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Cough Cough

I feel like crap. The morning we left Orlando I noticed I was getting a sore throat. It's now become a full blown cold and I feel miserable. I took the day off work today and I doubt I'll make it in tomorrow either.

Toby and Allie are quite a pair. I videod them for 30 minutes today and they never let up once. Always trying to one up the other. If Toby has something, Allie has to have it and the other way around. Allie is quite a bit smaller than Toby but she holds her own.

What a hassle this time share has become. Westgate keeps putting me off and won't give me the address to send the cancellation to. Tammy and I found whatever addresses we could off the mortgage papers and sent the cancellation to each of them as well as a copy to the Florida Attorney General's office explaining our dilema. The woman who is handling our paper work at Westgate says she'll have the address for me for sure tomorrow. Why should that be so hard?

My head is pounding and I'm trying to numb it with a glass of wine...it's not helping.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Getting Adjusted

I came home tonight from work and Toby and Allie were running through the house like they hadn't a care. I think they've adjusted pretty well. We're a little concerned that they may rely on each other too much for companionship and may not bond as they otherwise would with us. I'm not sure what to think. They seem to be very affectionate with us but I also notice that they're very content to wrestle with one another. It's cute. If you give them each a chew toy or a ball they have to have what the other one has even though it's the same thing...not unlike regular kids.

In the middle stages of a head cold...popping Seudafed to try and keep everything moving so as to avoid a sinus infection. I think I'm calling in sick tomorrow.

I had to call the state of Florida this morning to get some direction on how to cancel the agreement we made for the timeshare. They told me we have ten days to cancel the contract in writing and all of our funds will be reimbursed. I don't think it's necessary to involve a lawyer. We'll send a couple certified letters tomorrow to the offices of Westgate to cancel the contract.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Welcome Toby and Allie!

We brought Toby and Allie home from Jackie's yesterday. They are such a fun and exciting addition to our family. I looked back at Rachel while we were driving home and it gave me such a nice, warm feeling to see her holding Allie in the back seat. Tammy is also very in love with these little guys and I know she'll be a good mom to them.

We had to stop at Petco on the way home for a few things. We brought Toby and Allie in with us and we felt like proud parents showing off our new pups for anyone who wanted to see them.

Theresa came over and we watched Survivor together...I'd taped last Thursday's episode while we were away. Toby sat in my lap with a rawhide chew stick and he reminded me so much of Snickers and how she'd love to sit on the floor next to me when I'd watch tv or read while she chewed on a bone. I commented to Tammy about it and she said that nobody would ever take the place of Snickers. She's right.

I woke up at 6:00am and went down to see how they were doing. They met me in their kennel...both sitting up with their tails wagging. I brought them outside and we came back in. I wanted to go back to bed but they really wanted to play so we did. They had me cracking up with their antics. I later brought them upstairs and put them in their basket in our bedroom. To my surprise, Tammy took them out of the basket and brought them into the bed with us. Toby saw his reflection in the headboard mirror and would duck his head down so he couldn't see it only to sit up again to see the other dog in the mirror. He did this a few times and then started barking at the new guy who looked much like him. What a nut.

Heading home from work in a few minutes and I'm looking forward to seeing how they're adjusting.

Good To Be Home

We got back from Orlando yesterday morning. I'm so tired and drained that I'm actually very glad to be home. I saw a sign at one of the theme parks which said 'I need a vacation from my vacation'...I agree.

We arrived in Orlando on Saturday the 11th and hit one of the parks as soon as we were checked in. I've done five marathons in my life but I don't ever recall my feet being as sore as they were after a couple days of walking the pavement throughout the parks. I actually didn't mind walking so much but it was the waiting in line which got very tiring.

Of all the places we went I'd say my favorite were Animal Kingdom and Epcot. They're both so amazing. I look around them and I'm in such awe that people have combined their efforts to create them.

We stayed at the Westgate timeshare villas in Orlando and did the 90 minute tour. I went in their having no desire to purchase a timeshare but we left as new owners. I'm now in the process of canceling the contract after getting home and looking online at what other people have to say about Westgate as well as timeshares in general. They're really not much more than a scam for the unsuspecting. I know several people at work who own them and seem to be happy owners; it's just not for me. I'm sure they'll try and drag their feet as I proceed to cancel the agreement so I'll need to be deliberate in getting it done. I think a registered letter to their main offices tomorrow expressing my request is necessary. Maybe even a lawyer so it gets done right and I'm not left stuck with the contract.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Lots To Do

I've got so much to do tomorrow. Today was too busy after coming off an all nighter at work. I'm really looking forward to some time off. I was hoping to get a ride in tomorrow but I should probably run instead. I can get my workout done in an hour that way instead of two or three hours on my bike.

Speaking of my bike...I'm really happy with how I've found my desire to ride again. After my accident two years ago I've had a difficult time getting back into the groove I'd been in. I just never seemed to be comfortable with being out on the road for fear that something bad would happen again. Then I'd get depressed because I wasn't finding my form and that would cause me to not ride as much. Kind of a downward spiral. But since late August, I've been putting in some very good miles with 6 rides of over 100 miles and two of those in excess of 150 miles. It feels so nice to know that I can still put out a good effort at 46 years old.

I'd like to do an all day trip one day next summer if I can get a favorable wind and ride the 260 miles to Babbitt, Minnesota in one shot. I know I can make Virginia easily but it will take everything I've got to make Babbitt before the sun goes down. Hey, I've got to have a goal and this is it.

I went out tonight and picked up some dog food and a water bottle for Toby and Allie at Petco. We'll be bringing them home on the 18th and I want to be ready for them. We all turn to smiles here whenever anyone mentions them. They're so cute.

Good night.

Thursday, October 9, 2003

A Conservative's View

db was on a rant tonight on the board about how conservatives were taking this country over the edge of a large abyss. A couple others chimed in and of course agreed with him. Conservatives are evil, bad, uncaring people don't you know. This was my response...

Are your party’s motives (providing you support one) any better? I think Bush is showing that he wants to preserve our freedoms from those who would love to threaten them. We’ve seen what 8 years of a do nothing president brought us with respect to those freedoms.

I know it’s not nice to keep bringing up Clinton here but you’re forcing me to make comparisons and so I will. Tell me something Clinton did to uphold the constitution? Is preserving the right for partial birth abortions your idea of upholding the constitution? Are those the freedoms you’re worried about losing? Please tell me how your life has changed in the wake of the Patriot Act. What is it you could do before which you no longer can?

For that matter, tell me anything the previous administration did which you’re proud of. Don’t tell me he created a vibrant economy because there isn’t any basis for that claim. He inherited it from Bush1 and left Bush2 with just the opposite. Frankly, I’d rather have a president with the will to go against public sentiment at the risk of being voted out of office, a president who isn’t afraid to make tough choices rather than one who needs to rely on focus group polling before deciding where to vacation.

You come across as one who feels Republicans are to blame for all the world’s ills. Is that really the way you see it? Sure, there are some greedy, money grubbing conservatives out there who would sell their mother for a nickel just as there are liberals with the same love for money. Warren Buffet is one of the wealthiest men in America, let alone the world but he’s a Democrat. Am I to assume that he’s a bad guy because he’s made money off the hard work of others? I don’t assume that about Mr. Buffet and neither should you about other hard working, business owning, people employing Americans who may be of a conservative tilt.

Why does it have to be that if you’re for big business you can’t also be for the little guy? I want the little guy to do well…it’s what makes this whole American dream fly. The problem is that we all want whatever it is we’re after for the cheapest rock bottom price we can get it for. That’s fine but we have to realize that the cheap goods we enjoy come at a price to the person who works to sell them to us or to the person working to produce them. Take away a climate which helps to create jobs and you’ve got an even worse situation where the little guy can’t find work let alone buy things from the evil business man. Who benefits then? Certainly not the conservative entrepreneur who’s risking his capitol to try and make a living. I think we can all agree that nobody is out to keep the little guy down.

I’ve been an Air Traffic Controller since the PATCO strike in the early ‘80s. Reagan had the nerve to fire the controllers when they went on strike. As a controller we’re forbidden from striking. We take an oath that we will never strike when we take the job. The controllers' union felt they had the nation by the balls but Reagan didn’t back down. Firing the strikers was the right thing to. It took us years to rebuild the system at a huge expense. Fast forward to 1998. Clinton gives the okay to rehire the fired controllers even though some are in their late 60s and early 70s. We need new blood desperately in this field yet we’re wasting our resources training rehired controllers, many of which have no chance of recertifying simply because the traffic is much heavier than it used to be and they can’t keep up. Clinton already had the union vote so it’s beyond me why he allowed them back. Not only is it a waste of resources to try and retrain them but in most cases the rehired controllers simply put in the minimum amount of time required for them to secure a government pension and then they’re gone. Good for America? I don’t think so. There’s more troubling aspects to this whole story but I won’t bother with them here.

I understand this isn’t foreign policy or macro economics I’m talking about but it’s a small example of a larger problem; a problem which neither side can claim to be above. It’s politics.

Why are we in Iraq? I wish I could honestly say all our motives are good and right but I can’t with 100% certainty say they are. We’ve all seen in the past how our good intentions have left us with egg on our faces. I said early on in a post to this board that I absolutely believe it all comes down to oil. We had an unstable dictator sitting on top of the earth's second largest oil deposit and like it or not, oil is the life blood of this world. His rape, torture and slaughter of his people made it that much easier for us to remove him. I’m not sorry about that.

I get the feeling from your post that whatever side it is you’re invested in you feel they’re taking the higher ground. Bush may be rocking the boat in an effort to make America a safer place to live (yea, I really do believe that) but If not rocking the boat while it’s sinking is a better approach then please toss me a life vest because we’re going down either way.

Neither of us are evil, uncaring people, David. I hope for a better world for my daughter than the one we currently live in. I know we can do better. There are always two sides to every story and each of our sides is never without its shortcomings. I hope this helps.

Kevin g

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Whew

Today's ride was my last long one of the year at 152.5 miles. I rode hwy 169 to hwy 19 to Gaylord. I got in just as it turned dark. I'm pretty tired but I feel good.

A lot of politics being discussed on the db message board I posted a few articles about media bias and was met with the usual denials. I agree that the tide has turned as far as there being conservative voices out there now where there once was only Rush and before him, nobody. But...the big three networks all still lean left and they have a huge influence on the average person who naively believes there's no bias. Check out ratherbiased for an interesting site devoted to Dan Rather and his bias.

Back to work tomorrow. I've been an Air Traffic Controller for the FAA for nearly 22 years. I can't imagine anything else I'd rather be doing for the money they pay me. I suppose I wouldn't mind making my living working with stained glass but that's not going to pay the bills. Tammy and I hope to dabble with our own stained glass business when we retire in ten years.

Monday, October 6, 2003

I'm Journaling

Very cool. I kept a journal for 3 years while I was in the Navy in the late '70s so this will bring back some memories for me. My name is Kevin and I'm 46 years young. I live in Lakeville, Minnesota. I've been married to Tammy for just over 4 years and I also have a daughter, well, actually she's my stepdaughter, Rachel. I don't really think of her as a stepdaughter though because to me she's my daughter. You can see her here.

Her dad is involved in her life and we're very happy for that. I was married previously for 15 years but that marriage ended in 1998. I met Tammy online in the Spring of '99 and we were married a little over 4 months later on July 30th, 1999. At the time I'm sure there were people who thought we were nuts for getting married so soon but I have to tell you, when you're in your 40s you have a much better idea of who you're looking for. Tammy and I knew very early on that we could stop looking.

Did you check out our website yet?