Sunday, June 30, 2013

Little Down Time...Just the Way I Like It

I was off from work last week. Typically when I have to go back to the salt-mine after a vacation it's always just a little depressing but not so this time. I got so much accomplished during my time away that coming back to work will give me a chance to catch my breath or at least that's what I tell myself anyway.

I had planned to go for an all-day ride on Friday but Thursday night I decided that my bike would have to remain on ice while I tended to more pressing matters that weren't going to magically get done on their own. After Antonio finished the retaining wall he built for our porch I decided it was time to finally get my hands dirty with our porch project. I'm so glad I made that decision and have all of that work behind me. I'll have to make a similar effort and more once the deck is completed but at least I've taken a big bite out of what's been waiting for me.

I'll hit the roads hard for a couple of hours tomorrow before work and I won't be riding with preoccupying thoughts that I have things other than riding to do.

Am I going gray? Rachel was ribbing me a little about some supposed gray hairs on my temples but I can't see them. Perhaps I'm going both gray and blind. I'll take her word for it.

Tammy and Rachel are in the planning stages of their trip to New York in August where Rachel will be attending college at Stony Brook University for the fall semester. The plan was for them to rent a car and drive out together then have Tammy fly back but the prices for a one-way rental are ridiculous when compared to a round-trip rental. I can't make the drive out there with them because of work but I offered to fly and meet them out there and spend a couple days taking in the sights together before driving back home with Tammy. It will be a mini-vacation. Tammy loves the idea and is busying herself by making a 'to do' list for us while we're out there. I had to laugh because I recalled the time the three of us went to Disney World and Tammy had nearly every minute of our time scheduled with stuff to do. We were all so tired by the time our vacation was over! I asked her to please make sure we have just a little more downtime on this trip.

So far she has us scheduled for a 5-hour tour that takes in many of the main attractions and tickets for the musical Wicked. Rachel texted us that we "should squeeze in time for the Guggenheim." Hmmm...something tells me we're going to have very little downtime but I'm not complaining because as I've said before here, I'm not so good at sitting still. This works for me!

We saw the duo below last week at Thursday's on First when we were visiting Rachel in Rochester. I actually caught part of this song in the video collage of our trip.

I really like this...

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Virtual Journey Awaits You

I got a text from Rachel last week: "You might find this exciting. Remember nate melhoff? He's walking from mn to San Francisco." She then gave me a link to Nate's blog that he'll be updating along the way: Seeing It Slowly. (Edit: the link is now gone.)

I've often dreamt of doing a cross-country trip by bike but never on foot although there's certainly something about that which appeals to me as well.

Nate's father is also an air traffic controller in Farmington where I work but I don't really know him. It's a big facility. I believe Rachel and Nate dated once in high school.

I intend to walk the country along with him through his writings and invite you to do the same if you feel so inclined. It's quite a journey he's committed to taking on and I would guess that any words of encouragement you might have for him along the way would be welcome.

Tammy was having internet connectivity issues last week while working from home causing her to have to go into the office, 15 minutes to the north in Bloomington. She made arrangements to have a Charter Cable tech come out to the house and troubleshoot the problem. I figured he'd be in and out in a minimal amount of time after maybe changing out the cable fitting coming into our home but I couldn't have been more wrong. Andy was here for 5 hours changing out each TV and cable connection we have in addition to replacing the router she uses for her work connection. The results are noticeable with HD signals where they didn't exist before. The next time I hear someone complain about Charter service I'll mention my experience.

We went down to Rochester last Thursday to spend a few hours with Rachel, something we don't get to do often enough. We took in the sights and sounds of Thursdays on First & 3rd before making our way to the local bike shop where we made arrangements to have Rachel's bike outfitted with rear baskets so she can more easily carry groceries home. She's happy! We didn't think of it at the time but her bike also needs a light. She'll be getting one added soon.

She's been moving around a lot from house to house as she finds places to stay temporarily. Such is the life of a college student. Tammy asked her if she was going to keep her violin with her in Rochester and she said yes. She said she'd like to do some public events in Rochester. I took that to mean busking but I could be wrong. I could definitely see her picking up some quick and fun cash that way as she saves for a car. I do wish she could find a place of more permanence to stay. She said she'll be homeless when she returns from New York in December.

Rachel urged me to download Candy Crush a few weeks ago. I did but didn't really care for it so I uninstalled it from my phone. Tammy picked up on it a little later and was really enjoying it so I thought I'd give it one more chance. What an addictive little game. I'm hooked! There's clearly a certain amount of luck you need to be successful but lots of strategies also come into play. I'm on level 57. If you connect on Facebook you can see where your friends are along the Candy Crush highway. It's fun! Hmm—perhaps that's why I'm a little behind with this blog post.

I was out mowing a couple days ago when a neighbor pointed out a painted turtle crossing the street in front of our house heading for my lawn. Haha...oh great, another rescue job for me. I can't remember a year when I've found myself in a position so many times to feel a sense of obligation to help some form of wildlife make its way back to safer territory. Just a couple days earlier on a walk, I found a baby robin huddled in the street gutter chirping for its mother. I took it away from the street and placed it in a more sheltered area between some large boulders beneath the nearest tree that I assumed it leaped from.

But my biggest animal rescue this year occurred last Friday afternoon as Tammy and I were exiting 35W at County Rd 46. As we neared the off-ramp I noticed a family of geese walking along the shoulder of the off-ramp and heading toward the freeway and certain death. My heart sank. I got off the freeway and continued toward home while sending up a quick prayer that they'd turn back but also realizing that they could maybe use my help in making that happen. I did a u-turn and crossed back over the freeway and got on the frontage road and parked above where I'd seen them. I jumped the fence and made my way along the shoulder until I saw them...all two families of geese—not just one. In addition to the four adults, there must have been at least 15 little ones.

They were grouped on the shoulder facing the freeway when I came upon them, no doubt waiting to pick their moment to cross. But when they saw me they immediately turned around and headed back through the tall grass and away from traffic: that's where my video below picks up. I was relieved. I kept walking toward them with my main concern being that they kept moving in a direction away from the freeway but unsure of where that would lead.

And where did it lead? To a little slice of heaven where I didn't expect to find it...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

With Those Words She Owned Me

I got a Father's Day card in the mail a couple days ago addressed to Mr. Kevin Gilmore from none other than my stepdaughter. We like to keep things formal between us, often referring to one another with the 'step' (as in stepfather or stepdaughter) title. We're weird, we know that. I can also tell you that there isn't a stepdad on the planet who loves his stepdaughter more than I love mine!

Actually, the only time I refer to her as my stepdaughter is when we're joking around. For me, the 'step' part seems to cast a negative connotation on our relationship. I don't like that. If anybody asks, she's my daughter and once you get me started talking about her it can be difficult to get me to stop.

One quick 'Rachel' story. Early on in our relationship before Tammy and I were married, Tammy was putting Rachel to bed and saying her prayers with her. I had a place in their list of people to pray for and when they got to me on this night, Rachel piped up with "I'm glad we got him before somebody else did!" Seriously, how sweet is that?

With those words she owned me.

We finally made it back to Foci on Thursday after having been away for the past several weeks for one reason or another. It was so nice to be back. There's something so relaxing about sitting at the bench while working the glass or standing in front of the furnace taking a heat. I actually did better than I thought I would, successfully getting 3 out of 4 pieces into the annealer. Steve and Craig both stopped by our bench to say hello. It was nice to see them. My dream would be to spend some quality time with either of them and have them take us to the next level but they're mostly blowing out of another studio these days. I'm happy for them but do wish they were still the fixtures at Foci that they once were. Having them leave for another studio is a big loss for Foci in my opinion.

I'd intended to stay off my legs as much as possible on Friday so I'd have fresh legs for a longish ride on Saturday. Those plans didn't work out so well. I spent most of Friday in the yard mowing, trimming shrubs and tending to our gardens. I enjoy that sort of thing but by the time I got off my feet late in the afternoon I knew I'd overdone it and that any grandiose plans I had for a longer than normal ride the next day would have to be shelved. In the back of my mind, I was entertaining thoughts of a loop to Cokato—166 miles the last time I did it.

I got up early Saturday, suited up and began riding toward the northwest, curious to see how my legs would respond and holding out a glimmer of hope that I could do the loop I was hoping to.

It wasn't happening.

Less than 10 miles into my ride I could tell by my power meter that the strength simply wasn't there. I'd have to settle for the Lester Prairie loop instead. No slouch distance but not quite what I'd had my heart set on.

There will be other days.

Have I mentioned that it's been a rainy spring around here?

What you don't see in the video below toward the end where the rain begins is the lightning that was happening all around me. There were a couple times where I nearly got off the road to seek shelter in open barns along the way but by that time I already had over 100 miles in my legs and I was soaked. The last thing I wanted to do an hour from home was to cool down and have to try and get back on the road again. I just wanted to get home!

Still, it was a good day in the saddle...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mr Kevin's Outside!

I had most of last week off from work but because of some rainy weather and a sciatic nerve flare-up, I was mostly kept sidelined. I suppose forced downtime is okay but I get restless when I have to sit still for too long.

Mom's initial treatment for her detached and torn retina was unsuccessful so she had to go back and have another procedure done where they insert a gas bubble into the eye which works to keep the damaged retina in place while it heals. She was mostly awake for the 45-minute procedure. It's called Pneumatic Retinopexy.

I find it so incredible the things that people are able to do. She still has very limited vision in her damaged eye but hopefully that will improve over the next few weeks and months. I think she said it could take six months before she'll achieve her optimum vision.

Tammy's mom is in town for another few days. We were able to bring her to see my mom and let them visit for a couple hours last Friday night. It's the first time I've ever seen Elaine drink alcohol; just a small glass of Chardonnay. I brought my video camera along to quietly film them as they talked. Who's to say how many more opportunities I'll have to video either of them.

The neighbors behind us will be moving in the fall. They've got a growing family of 3 adorable kids with another on the way and they need a larger home. The little ones refer to me as Mr. Kevin. "Mr. Kevin's outside!" I think it's so cute—so cute that I adopted the title for my Instagram account.

Tammy thought it would be fun to make a Fairy Garden in a small section of our flower garden in the backyard for them. It turned out really nice. She plans to occasionally add things to it to keep them coming back to check on it. We'll miss watching them grow up.

The window dilemma for our addition has been solved and I'm relieved.

The rainy weather broke long enough on Saturday for me to get out on a ride to the southeast. It was the only workout I did all week so it was especially nice to be out. Unlike the previous Saturday, my quads didn't begin to fail me at 80 miles so I was happy about that. They did, however, begin to show signs of weakening at 97 miles after I gave an all-out effort on a Strava segment just a few miles from home. Still, I was happy with having moved up in the standing on that particular climb!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I'm Not Normal

We live in such an amazing world. Whenever I'm struggling with doubts about God or divine creation, all it takes for me to put those doubts aside are observances of life that surrounds us. Precious life, especially newborn life with such a variety of it and especially this time of year.

I had an appointment last Friday morning. On the way home I happened upon a family of geese walking through a parking lot with the little goslings book-ended between their parents. It was sweet to watch although my heart went out to them because they were hardly in anything close to ideal surroundings for raising a family.

An hour later I was back in my truck on Burnsville Parkway having just gotten off the freeway when I noticed a mother duck and her ducklings stymied by the curb. I put my flashers on and got out to do what I could for them. The mother hopped the curb at the sight of me with the little ones peeping wildly as they tried to follow but couldn't. I scooped them all up in one handful and reunited them with their mother, leaving them with a prayer that they might avoid the freeway below. I felt especially bad because I could see no good way out for them as they were hemmed in by streets heavy with traffic no matter which way they went. My prayers would have to suffice.

For any retired controllers who visit my blog, Barb and Greg Henderson joined your ranks last week. Greg will be back at work bright and early Monday morning working for the training contractor and I believe Barb will be joining him in a few weeks. It's always nice to see good things happen to good people.

Joe continues to make sure and steady progress on our sun-porch and deck project although I'm facing a bit of a dilemma with it. I hope to feel better about it all once we figure out how to proceed.

I got a 9:00 start yesterday morning on my bike, taking advantage of what looked to be a beautiful day but with a chance for thunderstorms in the afternoon. I suppose I could've played it safe and stayed close to home but I was really feeling the need to do a route I hadn't done in too long and that meant taking a chance with the rain.

The rain won.

On the return, I could see storms building to the north so I checked the weather app on my phone and sure enough, there would be no staying in front of this line of weather. I wanted to take a more scenic and less traveled route home through Jordan but that would leave me with fewer options to run for cover should I need to. I opted for the much busier highway 212 instead and its many more options for seeking shelter from severe weather. I put my head down and did my best to reach Chaska ahead of the rain.

Oh, I could tell you how that worked out but that would spoil it. You'll have to watch the video below to see what happened.

I was telling Tammy this morning that my quads were tired after 80 miles and that I was a little surprised by that. Her response: "Do you know how that sounds to a normal person?" "You're saying I'm not normal?" "Yes, that's what I'm saying."