Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saddle Solution Number 4 and Other Stuff

Riding my bike has been a struggle all season.  Home projects occupied most of my riding time early on in the year but when I did manage to take to the road, very seldom was I comfortable out there. I'd occasionally have a good ride but they were too few. My knees have been much sorer than ever. Tammy mentioned that maybe it was time to go back to Flanders and see if Scott could find anything wrong with my position on the bike. That thought kept coming back to me but I kept putting it off even though I was pretty certain she was right. I'd replaced my saddle three times in the last 18 months and each time I thought I'd done a good job of dialing it in but it was becoming apparent that I hadn't. I finally threw in the towel last week and loaded my bike into the back of my truck to spend a few minutes with Scott Flanders.

Scott took one look at my Brooks saddle and gave me a look that said, "really?" I was a little embarrassed but I told him it only speaks to how desperate I'd become in search of comfort. He said he hasn't liked them since the '70s when that's all there really was. I laughed and told him I was surprised at how quickly he noticed it. He said he saw it as I came through the door. He went in back and came out with three different saddles for me to consider. I chose a Turnix Pro and after installing it, he put my bike up on the trainer and I pedaled for him while he took measurements and made adjustments. Why didn't I do this earlier?

I got up after the all-night shift Thursday morning with nothing on my to-do list except ride. I worked my way northwest into a light breeze and noticed early on that I wasn't experiencing the knee pain I've become so accustomed to. Was it my position on my new saddle or the stretching I did before the ride (something I don't normally do)? Or was it prayer?

I tried not to get too ambitious out there but I wasn't very successful. I brought it home 115 miles later feeling good about nearly every aspect of the ride.

It's been so wet in the Minneapolis area the last month. Rainfall totals this past week from the gauge in our back garden were .8", .9", 2.2" and .4". I'm not complaining...yet.

We spent a day with Rachel in Rochester getting her registered at UMR. While she was getting her student I.D. card and class schedule ironed out we were going through an orientation designed to answer most of our questions, and it did.

One of the lectures we sat through talked about how college-age kids today are less likely to consider themselves adults as opposed to how our generation felt about ourselves when we were the same age. Kids today are less likely to feel independent because their parents are only a cellphone call or text message away, making their independence more elusive to achieve. While we were listening to the speaker from the back row of the lecture hall Rachel appeared in the doorway and got our attention: "Have you seen my cellphone? ...I can't find it."

We had no argument with what the lecturer was saying.

It was a Toy Story weekend for me. Rachel has already seen the new one and it was because of her enthusiasm that I figured it was time I got up to speed. I took over control of our Netflix queue and watched the first two shows on my days off. Rachel and Tammy joined me for Toy Story 2 last night and when we finished at 11:30, I wondered if either of them would be up for a late-night showing of the new one. They were both all-in but a quick check online showed that we were about two hours too late.

Yeah, I know the target audience is much younger than my age but the shows kept me entertained. I commented that I'd like to get a Buzz Lightyear and Woody doll for the shelves in our entertainment center in the basement. They both thought I was kidding.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

An Ending and A Beginning

Big sigh!

That's the sound of our lives returning to normal now that Rachel's graduation party is over. Tammy did an excellent job of keeping the entire production headed in the right direction while Rachel put in a lot of hours assembling photos and helping me with a video production we cobbled together to run in the background on a few TV's during the party. The weather forecast from earlier in the week held up and gave us a beautiful day. It really couldn't have gone better and we're all thankful for that.

We never felt all that comfortable about how much food we needed to provide so in typical American fashion we erred on the side of too much. We should've stayed with Tammy's original phone order for 300 wings from BWW. Instead, we upped the order to 500 earlier in the week and we didn't need to. Rachel's father and stepmother made 100 eggrolls which were quite a hit. In addition to all of that we had dozens of croissants with all the fixings for sandwiches plus fruit and vegetable trays.  There was lots of food. The only thing we ran short of was IBC Root Beer.

We were a little concerned about Tammy's mother while she was staying with us. She kept pushing herself beyond what her body wanted her to as she did what she could to help us get ready for the party. There's no telling her 'no'.  She's planning a visit to her doctor this week with a focus on her heart. 

I played the role of obnoxious videographer and photographer, capturing digital memories for years from now when we look back and laugh at how young so and so looked while noticing other subtle changes that passed us by.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Things We Do For Our Kids?

Many of the guys in my dads' dance group are fond of saying, "the things we do for our kids", meaning, that's why we're all there. I'm good with that.

Dare I say that our lives are about to return to normal? A couple months back I was writing about how over-scheduled I was feeling with weekly commitments of small-group meetings for our church, dance lessons, and glassblowing classes. All those are over now and I'm breathing a bit easier but we still have Rachel's graduation party to get through this weekend. So far the weather forecast (for what it's worth this far out) looks good with partly cloudy skies and 80 degrees. That will be a considerable change from the wet weather we've been experiencing almost daily for what seems weeks.

Last weekend was Rachel's and my (mostly Rachel's) dance recital weekend with one performance on Saturday and two on Sunday. As she loaded up her car to leave for the recital at Eastview high school on Sunday she carried with her a box of Puffs saying that she was going to need them after the show as she was planning on a few tears. Dance has been a huge part of her life and Sunday was a closing of that chapter. From the days when Tammy pushed her into it at 3 years old where she stood not-sure-what-to-do on the stage during her first recital to now where she is often the focus of so many people as she gracefully moves across the stage.

I've been watching her dance since she was 7 and even back then I could see a stage presence in her that most other kids didn't possess. For years Tammy and I assumed it was our bias because she's our daughter but at some point we knew it was more than that, but if we still needed confirmation we got that on Sunday. I had several parents stop me to say how they've enjoyed watching Rachel throughout the years and how they're going to miss seeing her in years to come. They would go on to say that when she was on stage it was her they would watch. What better compliment could there be?

Rachel was in six dances. That's a lot. I was able to watch a good deal of the show before gathering downstairs in the band room with the other dads from our group of dancers where we nervously waited (no kidding) and practiced our routine a few times before getting into position off stage. We went on just before the finale.

Of all the years I've been a part of this group, this was by far the most fun I've had out there. I admit it—it's the disco music. There's a history there for me but that's all I'll say.

The Finale was quite a treat and better than any from years past that I've seen. I was able to catch it the first night from off-stage. The kids put so much work into both their costumes and makeup in addition to their performance. I was very impressed.

Rachel likes to give each of her dancers a small memento to take home with them after the recital, usually, a craft that she makes. This year she made cutouts of each of her 20 kids she teaches, all made to resemble the recipient's appearance in the Finale. Quite cute.

Tammy and I were watching a movie Sunday night after the recital when I got a text from Rachel: "Dana wants u to do the dads dance next year...haha she says ur part of that community now". Dana is the owner of the dance studio. Rachel will no longer be dancing there but they want me to continue on? How is it that I'm finding myself being very agreeable to that idea but what do I say when the other dads comment next year about "the things we do for our kids"?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Congratulations, Little One (can I still call you that?}

"Watch out world, here she comes !!!!! I can't wait to see the impact God's princess will have on this world."

Those are words of a friend of ours, Tom, from Hosanna commenting on Rachel's Facebook. I couldn't have said it better myself.

We attended a Baccalaureate service for her graduating class Wednesday; pretty much her last official function prior to receiving her diploma. I'd never heard of a Baccalaureate service and was actually a little surprised to learn that they held them. It's a Christian service put together by students and involves some of the local clergy as well as students from the graduating class. Rachel played a small role.

She's graduated now and we're very proud of her.

We trekked to Target Center last night for her graduation ceremonies and mingled with a bunch of other Lakeville residents while waiting for the program to begin. There were many familiar faces in the crowd—friends, neighbors and some we only recognized the faces of as being parents we've seen over the years at other school functions.

We couldn't be happier for her knowing how much effort she put in not only throughout high school but in each and every grade along the way. This is a bittersweet time for us all as we're equally excited for her to enter into the next phase of life and sad that she'll be moving on.

She told me that she "friended" all her teachers on Facebook; something they're not allowed to do until they've graduated.

Here's a video I put together from last night's ceremony: a shorter version and a longer version and a link to some photos I uploaded to my Flickr account.

Time to get busy as it's dance recital weekend and I need to work on my steps a little more before tonight's show.  Hopefully, a video or two will accompany my next post.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Charting a Course for Home

This is a continuation of a series of writings about my time in the Navy. The first in this series of posts can be found here or go here for the most recent.

We moved our ship into drydock in the way early morning hours of Monday, July 16 for a yard period that would relocate all or most of us from the ship into barracks on base. Getting off the ship was such a relief to me as one who never opted for an apartment off base the way many of the guys I served with did. At this point in my enlistment, I was antsy for a change and barracks life would provide that for me.

I was able to avoid a lot of the mind-numbing-needle-gunning-paint-chipping work that was a large part of the yard period by accepting an assignment to base shore patrol. The duty ranged from undercover (literally) work to being a presence in and around the Enlisted Men's' club.

The undercover work involved keeping an eye on one of the main parking lots off base that sailors would use. I would spend 8 hours in a tiny wooden white shelter/box on top of a building along 8th street while I surveyed the lot with binoculars through a tiny opening for any suspicious activity. The walls inside the box were littered with graffiti from others like me trying to pass the time. I wasn't very good at the job as there was a motorcycle stolen from under my nose while I was on watch one afternoon. I have little doubt that my time would've been better served had I been in uniform walking the lot instead of sneakily trying to make a bust from my 4-foot cube with the hot sun beating down and no air conditioning.

As Shore Patrol, I was indeed part of a bust one night outside the EM club on base. I was paired with a guy who was very much into the part of looking for offenders. As we made our way around the back of the club, I was paying no particular attention to anything but he was. "I think we've got us some dope smokers," he said and with that, he approached a van and asked everybody to step out—two men and two women. I recognized one of the guys as the bass player from the band as we'd been inside the club earlier in the evening. Sure enough, the air around the van wreaked of dope and backup was called. When the band took to the stage after their break, they did so without their bass player. I found the whole thing a little amusing.

I had friends who had either recently left the ship for new assignments or others whose enlistments were soon to be over. Mike McGregor, aka Speedy, transferred to the USS Mt. Vernon and headed back overseas. We wouldn't see each other again until last summer, 30 years later. And after more than a year of insisting he was going to leave the Navy the minute he was eligible, John would begin to hint that he was going to re-up and stay in the Navy. I have to say, I wasn't entirely surprised. But with a wife and two small children to provide for I couldn't fault him for his change of heart after all the time we'd spent bashing Navy life.

We were also getting lots of new blood on board and I was finding myself in the enviable position of E5 with lots of people beneath me and not much in the way of responsibility. I wasn't an old-timer by any measure but I was a short-timer and that's what mattered.

Alone in my room in the barracks one night in the fall of 1979 I penned the following as I contemplated my return to civilian life and a return to my family:

81 Days to Home

Well maybe they're not listening
I don't know why I care
Coming home but do they know
I feel kinda funny there

Reluctance in my mind

Was it me or was it them
Or of time am I aware
Slipping into hours
Days to years
Smiles to tears
Oh, the years

Craziness in your laughter
You don't notice but they do
Given one too many chances
You say one too few

Draw the line and set a goal
Ideas thrown to the wind
You run and try to catch them
But return again

Was the competition there
Or didn't you dare?
Wasn't it fair that they left you there?

So back out on the street
You take another stand
Something new to believe in
Revolution in the younger minds
So cock-sure
Yet so unaware
Things get slow
When you haven't a care
Grow your hair
That'll show 'em

To be continued...