Sunday, May 27, 2012

Segueing Backwards

I struggled in the studio on Thursday, operating on not enough sleep having worked the all-night shift the night before. I couldn't seem to find my rhythm. I'd already thrown in the towel when Tammy suggested I take the remaining 30 minutes of our 3-hour slot and try again. I'm so thankful for her encouragement. Tired and not thinking clearly, somewhat shaky from not enough to eat, I somehow managed to blow a vase shape I'd never before attempted—a 3 gather vase with shoulders. I hope to have a photo of it next week to post here. I'm excited to go back and try again.

I was out on a longish walk the other morning (12 miles). With my Kindle in hand, I occupied my mind reading the book, Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. I had no particular route in mind and after 90 minutes I found myself in my old neighborhood. I closed the cover of my Kindle, silenced my music and tried to recall the last time I'd walked these streets 20 years earlier with Snickers leading the way. I stood in front of my old home and felt a twinge of sadness at how rundown it's become. It will be 20 years ago tomorrow that I closed on our current home. By far the longest I've ever lived in one place. I hope to do another 20 years right where I am.

Short video

I was a veteran long before it was cool to be one. I don't know that I ever had anyone thank me for my service until a few years ago when our senior pastor at Hosanna recognized all of the veterans in the congregation one morning by having us stand. It was actually a touching experience. For that moment, standing there with what seemed to be too few others, I had a real sense of pride. But truth be told I didn't join the military to protect my country or out of some patriotic leanings. I did it because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life and it seemed like a responsible alternative to the factory or gas station jobs I was working. I had no interest in college, having barely survived high school.

I'm segueing into something here.

I've been writing my blog going on 9 years and in that time I've written a handful of posts that stand out for me. Typically they have to do with me reminiscing about my past and decisions I made that resulted in profound changes in my life. Thoughts of what prompted me to join the Navy reminded me of this series of writings I did a couple years ago; a series of entries that stand out for me.

(follow the link at the end of each post to take you to the next)

1975 Revisited

Wishes for a safe and memorable Memorial Day tomorrow, everybody.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

She Was Also Meant To Dance

It's not often that I find relaxation in returning to work after my weekend but that's what I'm feeling this afternoon. It's been a busy few days off for Tammy and me. Between us, we've gotten a ton of yard work done and by that, I'm referring to our flower gardens. They're all in!

We acted on advice from my sister Jackie and purchased most of the flowers for our gardens this year at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. She'd recently been there and was impressed with their quality. I trust her judgment. We began our flower buying frenzy there and we weren't disappointed either. In fact, we ended up going back for a second helping after checking out a few other shops including Getens where we typically buy nearly everything we need.

Mom came by on Thursday afternoon as I was putting the finishing touches on our work. She'd stopped by to drop off some moonflower sprouts that I'd expressed an interest in. She took my arm and I slowly walked her around the yard. She's noticeably slowed down since making this same walk last year. It amazes me though that she's still getting herself around to the extent she does.

Here's a video for the archives to look back on at some distant time in the future.

I'm finding my stride walking, covering over 46 miles this past week. I was telling Tammy that should I ever find that I'm restricted from ever riding outdoors again because of my blood condition it won't be so devastating to me as I'd once imagined. I can actually see myself substituting walking for riding even considering that it will be much less intensive. Not that I want for that but I do have my CompuTrainer that is regularly kicking my butt down in our basement. I'm grateful for my health. I'm managing.

Tammy submitted her resume' to a few places this past week and got a call to interview for a Personal Care Coordinator position working with the elderly. This would be an ideal job for her as she has such a heart for the geriatric population. It's a full-time position though so that will take some adjusting but if it's something she's excited about (and she is) I can see her actually enjoying going to work rather than the dread she feels now.

It was a sad time two years ago when Rachel danced in her last recital with Brenda's studio. Accepting that her dance performing days were pretty much over, I don't think any of us realized then how well the fledgling ballroom dance team at UMR would fill the void. As co-captain, she's stepped in and taken a leadership role in seeing the team blossom into a group of committed students who all put in a lot of hours to make it work.

She's got so much of Tammy in her. Her determination to make sure all the dancers had blue suede shoes for their most recent dance being an example of that.

The UMR team meets and takes instruction at Dahl Dance Center in Rochester. They had their final performance of the dance season last night as part of a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester. Tammy had to work but I was able to make it and film her group's performance. Rachel joined me in the back row and we watched the show together before she took her turn onstage as part of the last dance of the night. Watching her perform is always a treat but what was most meaningful to me was seeing her interaction with the other dancers from the studio which included many shout-outs to friends onstage. She's definitely found a new dance home.

Since she was 3 years old dancing has been an important part of her life and now it seems clear that it somehow always will be. I have no doubt that she'll manage to find a way because among so many other things in her life she was also meant to dance.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

597 Days and as Political as I Get

Rachel is done with her 2nd year of college as of last week. It's going to be a much quieter summer here for us since she's decided to remain in Rochester working as a camp counselor at YMCA. We'll miss her but no doubt we'll plan a few trips south to see her for lunch and an afternoon together.

597 days. That's how much time remains in my career so says the countdown widget I'm using to track what's left of this phase of my life. I'm sort of looking at these days in groups of 100 as I work my way toward January 2nd, 2014. I'm under 600 and looking forward to my next milestone.

I don't post about politics too often here anymore but if this is to be a blog that I want to look back on years from now to see where my head was at, I do need to occasionally make mention of my thoughts.

I don't see myself ever again embracing the political beliefs of my past where I was an ardent Republican supporter. There's just nothing there for me anymore. I've never been one to follow a crowd but if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that I let the insidious, shrill voices of talk-radio influence me and cause me to not truly think for myself for too long. I thank the previous Bush administration and their transparent disdain for workers' rights for causing me to reevaluate who it was I was supporting and the resulting shift in my thinking.

That's as political as I'll get here.

I actually had to mow my lawn in the rain last Tuesday afternoon. We'd been in such a rainy period and I got it in my head that I was going to do it no matter what when I got home from work. I had other yard projects planned for my weekend and this wasn't one of them; projects that were already rain-delayed from the previous weekend. Life in the suburbs can be so difficult at times!

I did manage to at least have some fun with my Garmin out there—something I've been meaning to do for a while. Here's a track of my progress. I can tell you that on this afternoon I walked 3.28 miles while mowing my lawn. The white area would be the footprint of our home. Yup—I'm somewhat of a geek and I don't shy away from that.

I spent Thursday reclaiming the landscaped area on the side of our home from weeds that seem to do better than the plants I'm trying to encourage. I took on a load of mulch at Friedges and got busy. It looks nice once again and I'm happy to move on to other projects; namely, planting flowers over the next few days.

Jackson, a friend of ours from Foci has opened his own glassblowing studio and we couldn't be more impressed with what he's done. Jackson, along with Steve has been so gracious in coming alongside us and giving us pointers along the way. We were both happy and sad to see him leave Foci. He had an open house at his studio on Saturday and we made sure our schedule remained open so we could attend. Jackson, Joe, and Kevin do some amazing work. We'd occasionally work alongside them at Foci and sometimes stop what we were doing just to observe.

We've been wanting to purchase some of Jackson's work for a while now simply because we think it's beautiful but also to support him in our small way. Mother's Day was one day away and I asked Tammy if she wanted to pick out a gift for herself knowing full well that I'd enjoy it just as much! How could I lose? She found a vase and some wine glasses that will be treasured by us for years to come.

Here's a little 3-D photo fun. To view the image below in 3-D, slightly cross your eyes until a composite image forms in the middle. Attempt to position the composite photo over one of the two original photos. When you've achieved the overlap the combined images should form a 3-D photo. Click on the image to view it in full size.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Are You Rachel's Father?

Tammy has decided that enough is enough. She's been working to update her resume' in hopes of finding a job she actually looks forward to doing rather than one that causes her mostly stress which would well describe her current position. Up until now she's been working part-time but she's considering full-time employment if that's what it takes.  I'm happy with her decision because for the longest time I've been encouraging her to either learn to not care so much about her current job or find something new. It's not in her nature not to care so this becomes her only option.

I'd hoped to do some major yard work this past weekend but continued downpours hampered my efforts. I did get the one most important job done though—wheelbarrowing 3 yards of garden mix dirt to our flower beds around the yard. Friedges in Lakeville has a mix of pulverized dirt, compost and sand that I'm hoping will work well. It was pretty much a full afternoon job and one that I had to race to get done just ahead of Friday night's stormy weather. I finished just as the rains began.

I also wanted to get the lawn mowed but it's been raining so much that there are actually a few small areas where water has pooled. The lawn will have to wait. Our sump pumps have been steadily cycling for the last 36 hours. I shot this photo just outside of work on the way in to begin my work-week yesterday afternoon. The ground throughout the area is saturated.

I was standing in line at Divannis Friday night when I heard someone behind me say "Is that Rachel Nguyen's dad? ...excuse me, are you Rachel's father?" I turned to see a family that I recognized from the dance studio where Rachel danced for ten years before leaving for college. Tony and I were in the Dads' dance together for at least one year, maybe two. "Yes, she's my daughter" I replied, trying to keep from smiling too much. Mary went on to say that the first recital without Rachel last year just wasn't the same. She always looked forward to seeing her out there and that she missed her. We talked a little about how she's doing now. I told them of her new-found passion for ballroom dance.

I called Rachel when I got back in my truck and told her of my encounter. She mentioned that they were some of her favorite people from the studio. We talked about her standing invite from Dana to participate in judging dance tryouts at the studio for next season and she mentioned that she hopes to be able to get off work to help out. Oh yeah, speaking of Rachel and work—I'm not sure I mentioned here previously that she accepted the position of Sports and Enrichment Counselor at the Rochester YMCA where she'll be working with K-6 graders in several different sports this summer which is somewhat amusing because she's never really played that many sports. But she'll wing it. She's good with kids, having taught dance for a few years at the studio while in high school. But this also means that she won't be home for the summer other than just a day or two at a time to visit.

I have a feeling that I'll be seeing more of her via video files than in real life for the foreseeable future. Here's my latest 'Rachel fix' she sent me as she performs with members of her college ballroom team.

(She's 2nd from the left in the front as the video begins.)