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Showing posts from 2011

From My Notes...

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I'm sitting here, New Year's Eve, relaxing by the crackling fireplace with a glass of wine (oops...it's empty...brb) and my laptop. I don't know that life gets any more relaxing. Tammy has been in the office all afternoon and evening taking calls from people in search of medical assistance, sussing out their needs and coordinating any required help. Our most mild and brown winter is going to have a new look when we wake up in the morning as snow is falling heavily. I'm ok with that. I've got a new snowblower that is itching to show me what it can do as well as my Mukluk. They both thrive on snow. I'm becoming more accepting of it. It's been a full week for us. Aren't they all? I'll typically make notes on my Bionic throughout the week of things I'd like to touch on in my blog and this week there's a long list. I won't get to them all. I've become more aware in recent years that less is more. It'll be difficult to hold true t

Christmas, 2011 and the Call of a Mukluk

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Quite a contrast between last year and this year... I love a brown Christmas—well, maybe an inch of snow would be acceptable but no more! Oh, wait a minute...I have a snow-bike now. Strike that! I had some use-or-lose vacation time to burn through before the end of the year so I took Wednesday off and spent it getting familiar with my Mukluk on the trails along the Minnesota River bottom. I actually had a difficult time falling asleep on Tuesday night in anticipation of my ride. I was excited to get out there and that excitement was for a good reason. It was one of the more fun rides I've had in a very long time. I've never experienced anything like that on a bike. More about this later. Christmas, 2011 is nearly gone as I sit down to add to my blog. I can't think of another year where I felt so detached from the celebration. I'm not sure why. I just never got caught up in much of the hype this year aside from putting up outdoor lights. I'm actuall

Bring it On!

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We've been experiencing some unusually nice weather here in the Midwest! I believe they're talking 40s for Sunday. I love it! It appears we're in for our first brown Christmas since 2006 and I for one am very happy about that. Or am I? Hmm—I'm actually somewhat conflicted now because I have an altogether new reason for wanting snow. No, it's not because of my new snowblower and no, I didn't buy a snowmobile. I suppose the photo to the left is a bit of a giveaway. I bought myself a new toy: a Salsa Mukluk! I'm joining the ranks of the fat-bikes! ...or however you say that. My original intent was to purchase a Pugsley Surly  (something I've had my eye on for a little more than a year) but after comparing the two over at Freewheel Bike in Minneapolis, I opted for the Mukluk with its aluminum frame, slightly larger size, and better components and wheels. Thanks to Steve at Freewheel for his guidance in helping me sort through the options. The fat tir

Celebrating a Birthday and I'm Easy to Please

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It's been a busy week and weekend. Normally I'd say that it's nice to come to work to relax but I'm just not feeling it lately. I'm grateful for my job but this strong urge I have to be retired often nudges out those more rational feelings about staying around a few more years to better secure our financial future. It's a good problem to have and I get that. Tammy and I both took off work last Monday to spend time together celebrating her birthday. We got an early morning start with breakfast at Perkins followed by a 9:00 slot time at Foci. I had a good day there and left feeling satisfied with my progress. That good feeling would vanish come Friday. More about that later. We left Foci and headed home to clean up before venturing 50 minutes north to Stillwater for the afternoon. It had been a couple years since we'd visited the picturesque city on the St Croix river and we were both looking forward to going back. I'd forgotten how busy with traffic

A Practice Retirement Day

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Toby is becoming finicky about his drinking water needs. I've noticed for a while that he appears to appreciate freshly drawn tap water over a half bowl of stale water left over from the previous day while neither Allie nor Charlie couldn't care less. I came into the laundry room where their water bowl is kept and he was standing in front of it looking at me then back at the bowl. The other night during our small-group meeting for our church I could hear his distinct bark coming from the laundry room. I went to check on him and he was standing in front of his nearly full bowl of water. Apparently, it wasn't fresh enough. I refilled it and he proceeded to drink to his heart's content. We were back in the studio on Friday for a few hours in the morning. We found Steve back in the cold shop working on some pieces. It was good to see him again as an illness has had him sidelined for a few weeks. He came out later and sat at our bench to chat, observe and give us some poin

Thanksgiving Weekend, 2011

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We had a really nice get-together at Jackie and Jerry's home for Thanksgiving. I can't recall better weather for the holiday than what we enjoyed; sunny skies and temps pushing into the 60s with very little wind. Short-sleeve weather. My only regret was not bringing the pups with us to play with Tucker and Gracie in their fenced-in backyard. They would've loved it. In typical Jerry and Jackie style, the dinner was great. What more is there to say? Photos  and video from the day. My 24" Simplicity snowblower has served me well over the years since purchasing it new in the fall of 1986 but I decided it was time to replace it with what will likely be the last snowblower I'll need to buy in this lifetime. When we're due for another new one I'm guessing we'll be living the maintenance-free townhome lifestyle. I've had my eye on an Ariens blower for a couple years but I just couldn't ever find it in me to pull the trigger until Friday . I de

A Sunday Evening with Rachel and Mat

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I relented to Rachel's pleadings and spent much of Friday putting up our Christmas lights. The task included two trips to Fleet Farm for lights and several trips up the ladder to the roof which really doesn't bother me much at all. It's the section along the front of the house where I have to fully extend the ladder and stand on a rung beyond where I should and reach further than I like to secure the lights that gives me the creeps. I always hate that part and am glad when it's done for another year. I was somewhat amused at Rachel's logic though in that I "have never fallen off the roof before!" Haha! Tell me that when I'm lying broken on the ground below. The job is nearly done with the exception of some shrubs and our flowering crab tree. And just in time. We had our first snowfall of the season on Saturday afternoon. What a mess. I don't think I've ever seen an inch of snow cause so much havoc out on the roads. But truth be told, it wa

The Gini Coefficient and More

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We've been enjoying the new Coldplay CD that came out a couple weeks ago: Mylo Xyloto. The one song on the disc that I can't seem to get enough of is Major Minus . I can't wait to hear when it comes around on my iPod Nano while on my bike. I have an extra gear for songs such as this! We were in the studio for four hours on Friday morning. When we got there we went straight to the cold shop as we always do to check out our work from the previous week. I was especially pleased with two vases Tammy did, here's  one of them. She's beginning to expand more in the shapes she's doing and it's fun to watch. I had one piece I was happy with. Tammy spent her studio time Friday working on Christmas tree ornaments—something she's been wanting to do for a while. Out of a half dozen she did, I think there will maybe be at least a couple keepers. She suffered her first nasty burn from the annealer door. Those things are bound to occasionally happen. I spent my t

Happy 83rd, Mom!

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I first came across this little brain-teaser several years ago. I'd like to think that I tend to give up on these things too quickly but more accurately, I think I'm just not smart enough to figure them out. Notice how the picture shifts from 12 people to 13 people. Where does the extra person come from or disappear to? The answer is obviously right before my eyes and yours—so tell me. Tammy's bonsai plant is not only surviving, but it's also thriving with plenty of new growth! She's got many skills but botany has never been among them so I'm pleasantly surprised. She's been talking about getting another bonsai plant but there's just one thing that concerns me: they need to be watered daily. That means not only do we have to find somebody to watch our pups when we leave town for a few days but we also have to find someone to water her bonsai plants. I've been enjoying my new Droid Bionic and have experienced few problems if any in the month o

She's Not Normal

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Rachel mentioned to us a few weeks ago about a desire she has to travel to India this summer and volunteer with a medical team there. I admire so much her ambition to follow her heart and seek out that which is often only found on the road less traveled. She's not normal. Can I say that? Tammy made a brief mention of Rachel's budding plans for India in the video I posted to my previous blog entry which prompted a couple of responses from family and friends. Rob from work commented on how his daughter did much the same thing by traveling to India a few years ago as a college student to study and the life experience that it was for her. He gave me his daughter's contact information to pass along to Rachel. I'm hoping she seeks her out for any and all advice she has to offer. Speaking of Rachel: for all the many times I mention her here, I was surprised to find that when I did a wordle on the content of my blog, Rachel's name barely registered. I don't understa

Sidelined and She No Longer Lives Here

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I had to take some forced time off my bike this week and given the mild weather we've been enjoying it left me chomping-at-the-bit to be out there. Sharp pain in my right calf had me hobbling around for most of the weekend. When an ultrasound was negative for a blood-clot (my main concern), the radiologist suggested it was possibly a muscle tear deep in the tissue and undetectable. A muscle tear? The only thing I could come up with was when I was hauling my 24 bags of leaves out to the curb Monday night after work. I was trying to hurry the job along so I'd run between each trip. Oddly enough, the pain which began abruptly didn't show up until 36 hours later which had me discounting it as the reason but I can think of no other. Too many times this weekend I was tempted to try and sneak in a short ride to see how it felt but Tammy's admonishment to rest it because I'd only aggravate it won out. She's a telephone triage nurse so I have little choice but to heed

What Will They Think of Next?

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I had an extended weekend having taken the last two days off from my work-week. I don't have plans for any more vacation days this year and likely won't take any until next June. It's times like this when I catch myself daydreaming about retirement and the ultimate days off, Monday through Sunday. If I had to guess when I may finally pull the plug on my career I'd guess December 2013. That's the tentative plan anyway and it's definitely subject to change. I'm not even sure I've shared this date with Tammy yet. I spent Wednesday being totally lazy. It was a rainy, stormy day and that made it all that much easier to ignore any yard work that may have been taunting me. Tammy and I traded Wordfeud moves with one another throughout the day then spent a couple of hours in the evening, coffees in hand, kicking around Mall of America. I love that place! Speaking of Wordfeud! I've uploaded nearly my entire music library to Google Music . This is an ama

I'm Declaring War!

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I mentioned Spotify in a recent post. I'm even more of a believer in this music program now than I was a couple weeks ago. I enjoy getting suggestions from friends which is one of the features of Spotify. Listening to a track that you like and want to share with a someone? Drag the track over their username located on the right side of the player and they'll receive the notification and a link to your suggestion. Just that simple—but they need to be a Spotify user as well. We both struggled to try to blow glass this week. Some sessions are like that so you make the most of learning from your mistakes. There's never a lack of those. I had a three-gather vase take a dive off the punty onto the concrete floor but survive the landing. Together we were able to re-punty and salvage it. I tried to fire-polish out whatever scuff marks it picked up but I'm thinking it may be a candidate for my first attempt at a sandblasted finish to help hide any remaining marks. There's

We're Now Happy Bionic Owners!

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We were back in the studio blowing glass on Friday morning. Jackson, Joe, and Kevin were bringing to life works of art on the bench next to ours that we can only dream about at this point. I was excited to see how our pieces from the previous week turned out. Typically I'll remember whatever I place in the annealer as being much nicer than it actually is but not this week. I was pleasantly surprised when we walked back into the cold-shop to have a look at our work and find that I wasn't at all disappointed. Three-gather pieces now have me intrigued more than ever but I couldn't help but wonder if I should stay with the two-gathers we've been working with until I perfect a few more forms? I'll keep wondering because I did some larger pieces again on Friday. Very fun stuff! I boxed up some of our pieces and sent them off to Sweden Saturday morning to a friend of Tammy's and mine that we met last winter while playing WordFeud  together on our phones. English

Are You Spotified?

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I have a love/hate relationship with the fall season. I love the cooler temps and the great riding and dog-walking days they provide but more and more (as the trees in our yard and our neighbor's yards get larger and larger) I'm hating the leaf raking that goes with it. I got a head-start on our flowers and perennials today by cutting some of them back a little sooner than usual. Our trees are all still green but they will soon change and when they do I'll be owned by them as I try and keep up with their falling leaves. Wish me luck. Tammy took a Bonsai plant class last Sunday at Como Park Conservatory. She had her interest piqued when we were at the State Fair a few weeks ago and observed a  bonsai plant exhibit . I came home from work Sunday night and she couldn't wait to tell me all that she'd learned in her class from how to water and fertilize them to what to look for when trying to achieve the desired shape and what that should be. It was much more involved

Arrr Bilge Rat, Hand Me My Grog and Pen

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We finally made it back to Foci last Thursday after more than three weeks away. We did alright on the bench but we could tell that some rust had begun to settle on our limited skills. The studio has their furnace issues behind them and is open for full use again so we should be able to get back to our weekly time-slots. We're both as eager as ever to continue to push ourselves and develop as glassblowers! Tammy's mother spent two days with us this week and was able to watch us blow glass. Our concern with her in the studio with us was that she's so quick to move about so we had to be careful to keep her from getting hurt. It's typically not the 2200 degree glass that burns you but the tools that come in contact with it. An object doesn't begin to show that it's hot until it's over 1000 degrees. Pat Robertson was in the news this week for a remark he made about one spouse leaving another when Alzheimer's descends upon a marriage. I'm not much of a