Sunday, March 25, 2012

What's More Important: Your riding or Your Life?

I woke up last Monday morning at 4:10 after only four hours of sleep. I laid there trying to drift off again knowing that I'd need more sleep than what I'd had if I was to make it through the day in a somewhat coherent state. It wasn't happening. I headed downstairs and shoveled a bowl of Kashi cereal into the machine before lacing up my shoes and stepping out into the predawn darkness to go walking. There would be time to catch another hour or two of sleep before work when I got back if I needed to.

Maybe it was the idea of being out there when most everybody else was still asleep that was appealing to me most but there was a definite tranquility that was working for me and I was feeding off it. My music collection on Google Music keeping me company.

I passed another guy walking toward me on the lighted path along Highway 50 as I made my way toward the McDonald's on the south side of the city; my halfway point and where I had a date with a medium orange juice and an order of Cinnamon Melts. He looked to be a retired guy going about his daily routine and I began to ponder my own retirement once again and how I could easily see myself out here in the early morning hours putting in some miles to begin my day when I've got no schedule to keep.

Like most things that interest me, I have a tendency to push the limits and I can see that my interest in walking will be no different. I put in 9 miles Monday morning, another 11 on Wednesday and 12 miles yesterday. I'm enjoying myself out there but yeah, I do wish I could be on my bike, especially when I see a cyclist pass by.

One thought that's been troubling me lately is that of coming off Coumadin ten months from now. Coumadin is the blood thinner I've been on since experiencing a bilateral pulmonary embolism two months ago. Being off the drug will allow me to ride outdoors again and I'm looking forward to that day but I'll no longer be living under the umbrella of protection that coumadin provides and that concerns me. Who's to say that I won't have a repeat of this whole mess again and who's to say I'll be so fortunate next time? It was that thought that was simmering in the back of my mind when I was in for a procedure at Ridges Hospital Thursday morning. The nurse preparing me for the doctor was looking at my chart and wondering how it was that I'd had a pulmonary embolism? I told her about my related Factor V condition and thus my need for coumadin but I also expressed relief to her that it was only for another ten months. She asked me if I was serious about coming off the drug and cautioned me against it. Before her current position, she was the head nurse in the cardiac wing of a local hospital. She said that it was foolish for me to even consider coming off it. "What's more important: your riding or your life?"

I need to make an appointment with a hematologist. I do have a lot of questions yet.

My Sony Handycam has served me well since purchasing it in the summer of 2000 but I've felt for a while that it was past time to update it. My choices were limited though because I need a camera with a viewfinder rather than one where you view what it is you're recording through a flip-out screen. A camera with a viewfinder makes it easier to take video at concerts while not being so obvious about it. Because they're a rare breed, I could only find a couple that would work for me. It was a difficult decision but I eventually settled on the Sony HDR CX700V and took delivery of it last week.

I've only used it a couple times but I'm quite pleased with it so far. It takes nice stills as well. The only drawback that I can find is the absence of a shoulder strap. The camera lacks a second eyelet to attach a strap to. It's a bit of an inconvenience and something I figure there must be an easy remedy for but I'm still searching. I suppose it's really the least of my worries.

A few of us gathered at Mom's last night. Here's some video from our time together.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not That I Didn't Have a Sense Early On...

I had to take my 2001 Nissan Frontier pickup-truck in on Tuesday to replace the rear main-seal. I'm determined to get at least another couple of years use from it. I brought it to a friend Keith recommended; a friend he used to race with years ago—Bruce at Ultimate Automotive in Apple Valley. Rather than have Tammy drive me home I decided to walk and rather than take a direct route home, I took a roundabout way. Since I can't ride outdoors and I really do need my dose of sunshine, I think I'll adopt walking as something in addition to my CompuTrainer that I'll do this summer to stay fit. My Google Music collection kept me company—all of my music totally accessible while I meandered the 8.5 miles home.

Having spent so many years as a runner (a recent post about those days), I never seriously considered walking as an alternative. Funny how one's perspective changes over time. I see myself getting as excited to go for a walk as I used to about a run.

It occurred to me on my way back to retrieve my truck a few days later while cutting through Crystal Lake golf course that I really do miss golfing. I put my clubs away in 1997 when I was divorcing Noy and could neither afford it nor focus on what I was doing out there. But when all of that was behind me something unexpected happened; I'd lost all interest in the game. I think I may have had my clubs out twice in all the years since. I'm quite sure that in my retirement I'll find my way back to the course; at least that's been my plan all along. It only took standing on the 1st tee looking out over the fairway Friday afternoon to rekindle that dream.

I stopped in to see Mom yesterday. She's doing well. She was excited to show me the body donor card they gave her to keep with her and a letter she received from the University of Minnesota thanking her for her commitment to donating her body. I told her of a conversation I'd had with Rachel last week where she talked about a recent experience of hers in the cadaver lab at school. It had been a very stressful week leading up to the STLF trip and she was frazzled. She found herself in the middle of the cadaver lab and noticed that calmness had come over her. All of the other issues she was worried about took a back seat while she focused on the task at hand. A request went out from the instructor asking for a volunteer to use the bone saw and open the chest cavity. Without hesitation, Rachel's hand shot up. She detailed the entire experience for both Tammy and me. We sat there hanging on her every word, excited for all she is experiencing and accomplishing. She went on to say (and this is the part I wanted to stress for Mom) that from the very beginning they're instructed and reminded to treat each body with dignity. That thought is never forgotten.

Rachel returned from her STLF trip last night. She stopped in for an hour to chat and fill us in on her week before getting together with some friends still at home for spring break; her voice hoarse from all the talking she's been doing. I had no idea of the leadership role she played in putting this trip together until she called us last Sunday night. I think my health issues maybe got in the way of her sitting down and letting me know what she was up to.

She was one of four students who organized and led the activities for her bus. It sounds like they were putting in some full days. From listening to her talk, I don't know that she's ever been on a more rewarding trip or bonded with her companions in the way they did over the last eight days. Not just bonding through having a fun time together but bonding in some much deeper, vulnerable ways where they would open up to one another through activities designed to do just that. It was an experience I don't think she'll soon forget.

The highlight of her time with everyone was seeing the freshman grow through the experience. Their bus got some high praise from others who took note of how well they were working together. I can't say it enough how blessed I am to be in her life and watch as she grows in ways I never quite imagined or expected.

Not that I didn't have a sense early on that she is an incredibly special person.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Time Traveling and What I Love About Choo!

I'm probably more of a weather geek than most but that's because of the amount of time I spend outdoors on my bike. I appreciate a site that provides good wind and temperature forecast details as well as one that maintains a history of this data. I think I've stumbled onto the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance of weather sites. Check it out. Note the slider along the bottom that takes you back in time; in this case (Minneapolis) as far back January 1st, 1948.

My retirement countdown is on and as of this writing, I have at most 661 days left before I push back from the scope one last time. Not that I want to wish my life away but how fast will 661 days pass by? My blog is a perfect tool to help me put into perspective my time remaining. Using this calendar-calculator I can plug in the number of days I want to go either forward or backward in time to see what the date would be. 661 days in reverse takes me to May 19th, 2010. Looking at my blog I find this post from May 16, 2010. Not so long ago at all really.

Speaking of going back in time, every once in awhile I'm curious to figure out the year and month that my dad was the age I am now. The calculator in the link above makes easy work of that computation as well. I'm 54 years, 6 months and 14 days old. My dad was born on October 27th, 1925. He was the age I am now on Sunday, May 11th, 1980. The photo to the left would've been taken within a few months of my dad at the age I am today.

I got a text from Rachel sometime after 10:00 Tuesday night that read: "Hey, you're good at writing. Wanna send me a letter saying all the things you love about me?" I replied "Sure...when do you need it by?" "Like tonight or tomorrow," she replied. Considering I needed to be up in less than 6 hours I told her I'd work on it in the morning.

She's on a leadership bus tour of the Midwest with 25 other students from the University of Minnesota campuses. They'll be taking a circuitous route to Texas and back, stopping in Kansas City, Missouri; Fort Smith, Arkansas (where they are tonight); Hollandale, Mississippi; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Bay Town, Texas and Dallas, Texas along the way. They'll be doing volunteer work at each city with different students taking the lead and organizing each stop.

The letter she asked me to write is something that gets read in front of the other students early on in the trip as an icebreaker of sorts. I was only too happy to help.

What I Love About Choo!

From the very first time I saw you, all of 7 and a half years old running alongside my truck looking back over your left shoulder with the biggest smile on your face as I pulled into yours and Mom's townhome driveway, I felt a connection to you. You stood, out of breath waiting for me by the door in the garage while yelling up to Mom "he's here!" As you led me inside I handed you a gift I'd picked up at Target the night before: a Betty Spaghetti doll with accessories. It's a memory that will be with me forever because at that moment, you began to win my heart and I've never been the same since.

Rachel, you have a zest for life unlike anyone else I've known. So much so that I'm willing to give you a pass on your perpetually messy room because through you I realize that there are things in this life that are so much more important. Your beautiful faith in God and genuine love for others topping that list.

I love the many road-trips we've taken together, sometimes just the two of us where we can be driving for hours with seldom more than 10 seconds of silence between us. A Caramel Macchiato for you only adds to our time together as you're even more talkative and I love that! I never tire of hearing all you have to tell me about your life, the funny stories you describe in detail about experiences you've had since we last connected. You are such a treasure and a blessing in my life!

Gone are the days of me coming home after the late shift, walking in through the laundry room an hour or more after your bedtime only to hear you whisper down through the clothes chute "hey, Kev! ...c'mon up!" My heart would melt as I'd drop everything and give a quick wink and a nod to Mom on my way up to you, explaining to her that you were still awake and wanted to say hi. She'd smile back at me. I'd sit on the edge of your bed listening as you'd excitedly to tell me about your day or show me the book you were secretly reading under your covers with a penlight. Your late-night-after-hours secret activities were safe with me.

I'd love to come home to that precious little girl again but I know I can't because she's grown and moved on. Instead, I take comfort in seeing you blossom into a beautiful, confident and radiant person who has her whole life ahead of her. I thank God every day for you and Mom in my life. You, my sweet child, are the icing on our wedding cake and I love you more than I could ever begin to express. There's nothing I wouldn't do for you. Heck, I'd even appear on Judge Judy if that's what you wanted!


jj video from Kevin Gilmore on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Even in the Quietest Moments...

I got a recent text from Rachel: "Hey so i have to use missys car to get to the cities this morning for dance. So i used the gas card to fill her tank." I had to smile. The "gas card" she refers to is a credit card that she's had for years and woud use to fill her tank. I'd just never heard her call it a "gas card". She recently posted a photo to Facebook taken by a professional photographer from last weekend's dance competition. The photo had a huge watermark across it so I wrote "Hey, feel free to order this photo or any others you'd like to can put them on the "gas card" :-)

I love that kid!

There's a question I've been kicking around in my head much more than ever lately: when will I retire? It's not as though I need to define the date and lock it in, but for reasons I'm not entirely sure about, I need a plan. And so I have one. January 2nd, 2014. Actually, the date reflects the latest I'll continue to work and there's a real possibility I could be gone considerably sooner. I've added a countdown timer to the dashboard on my MacBook Pro so if I ever feel the need, I can know at a glance precisely how much time I have left—at the most.

I hate head-colds. I came down with one last Monday and it's been kicking my butt all week long. I'd hoped to get on my CompuTrainer this weekend and hammer out some much-anticipated miles but my fatigue level has been off the charts. So much so that I'm too tired to care. There will be plenty of time for working out once I'm feeling better. The one thing I don't want to do is push my body too hard considering all of the other healing it's been preoccupied with lately.

My all-time favorite album is Crime of the Century by Supertramp. It was released in 1974 and yielded a couple of hits in Dreamer and Bloody Well Right. Not that those two songs aren't exceptional but there was other music from the album that I liked even more, such as School, Hide in your Shell and Rudy—songs that never got much airplay. I was fortunate enough to see them at the peak of their career while in the Navy in San Diego in April 1979 touring with their Breakfast in America release.

Years later in the spring of 1997, I went with a friend, Rick, to First Avenue in Minneapolis to see Roger Hodgson (formerly of Supertramp) on his Solotramp tour. I'd be hard-pressed to recall a more memorable concert than his performance that night. Roger's music more than anyone else's has been the soundtrack to my life.

I was surprised a couple months ago to find that he'd be playing at Grand Casino in Hinkley, a little less than two hours north. I didn't get in on opening day ticket sales but in a venue of that size, there really wasn't a bad seat to be found. The only downside to the night was my lingering head-cold but I wasn't going to let that keep me down. Rather than rely on my Panasonic Lumix and its marginal audio to record some of the night I took along my 10-year-old Sony Handycam as it has a much better zoom as well as audio. It's served me well over the years and it did last night as well but it's time for an upgrade. More on that another day.

It was a nice night. Not as intimate as First Avenue 15 years earlier but the music was every bit as good and I was left smiling. Tammy enjoyed the show as well even though the music holds no special meaning for her.