Saturday, July 27, 2013

An Intense but Happy Goodbye

I'm supposed to be out riding but I sat down a few hours ago (for just a few minutes) to upload some photos from my camera to my Flickr account and I'm still here. Maybe some downtime in front of my laptop is what I really need as it feels like I've been going nonstop for the last week or more. I did manage to finally hammer out an update to Our Sun-Porch Addition blog so I've not been totally unproductive.

Okay, so I'll just do an abbreviated ride today instead. That works, too!

Bryan and Sue came in from Portland via Hickory, NC a little over a week ago for a family reunion. Keith and Tracee hosted the get-together at their home in Northfield about 25 miles south of us. Theirs is the perfect place for a gathering like that! Considering how hot and humid the weather had been up until the day before the reunion, we really lucked out with a picture-perfect day...and many pictures did some of us take!

Here are mine.

Bryan and Sue stayed with us for the week and it was super to spend time with them even though our home was oftentimes a mess with construction underway on our addition. Fortunately, I had the week off from work so I was able to be around even though I was at times busier than I'd like to have been with my own outdoor projects I needed to get done.

Bryan worked his magic with our home alarm system that had been offline for more than a year. In another life, he used to install alarm systems and he installed this one for me more than 21 years ago when I had the home built. He had to blow off the dust from the installer's manual and try and wake up brain cells that for the better part of two decades haven't been called on to do this sort of thing but he got it fixed and I'm really happy about that!

We had hoped to take them to Foci so they could watch us and others blow glass while they were here but that never happened. It's been more than a month since we've been in the studio and we seriously need to change that. It's not for a lack of wanting to be there. We've just got so many other things vying for our time right now.

Keith met us all out at Mom's the other night for dinner. While we sat around talking and doing some reminiscing it dawned on me that this could likely be the last time Mom will be in the presence of her four sons at one time as it may be a while before Bryan is able to make it back this way.

Bryan and Sue were able to spend another couple of hours with Mom yesterday afternoon before Tammy and I would drive them to the Amtrak station in Minneapolis for a late-night departure last night.

What had been a fun goodbye with them as we joked around while waiting in the lounge for their train to arrive suddenly turned intense. I mentioned to Bryan that he should write about their train ride adventure back to Portland and include some photos and video. Tammy suggested that he take out his camera and begin with a photo of the four of us at the station. Great idea! He reached for his camera bag and realized it was mostly empty. He'd left his camera on a kitchen counter of our home where he'd been charging it. With a little less than an hour before the train was scheduled to leave I offered to give it my best shot at hurrying home to get the camera and make it back in time.

Tammy and I ran to the truck and I pushed the speed where I felt I could, knowing that every minute counted. We did the math and figured if we could get home by 10:45 that that would maybe give me just enough time to get it to him before the train pulled away.

Bryan is a gifted photographer and I knew what it meant to have his camera with him for their return trip home especially considering that he'd just bought it and was having fun becoming familiar with it.

Tammy stayed behind while I left home at 10:48 on my way back to the station with the camera in a large plastic freezer bag with Bryan's name on a yellow post-it note inside that Tammy put there just in case I had to hand it to one of the staff to get it to him.

My cellphone lit up with a call from Bryan as I was approaching 98th street saying that they were intending to depart at precisely 11:15 and to not do anything too stupid trying to make it in time. This was going to be too close. I put my cellphone down and focused on my driving.

I kept the speed up...70 in a 55 through Minneapolis, much faster than I'd typically drive but still slower than at least one or two other knuckleheads out there. After getting off the freeway I blew through the red arrow that was intent on keeping me from turning off University Ave in front of absolutely nobody and onto Transfer Rd, one block from the station.

It was 11:13 and now every second counted.

I approached the station and let out a few beeps from my horn to let him know I was almost there in case he was heading inside to board the train. He was still there. The train was booked and it was taking longer to check people in than normal. That's the only reason I can figure why he hadn't been forced to board yet.

I had to laugh—he saw me and then went into some ridiculously stupid dance with the biggest smile ever! He was happy and I was so happy for him! Where was my camera when I needed it? That would've been a great photo!

I'm really glad it worked out.

We talked on the phone a little later as they were on the train and slowly making their way toward the northwest. He commented that we'll both have a story to tell someday about what we'd been through that night. I think I just did that!

It's finally time for that abbreviated ride I've been putting off.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Will! Just Not Yet

Mom's checkup last Friday for her healing eye didn't go so well and she had to go back in for another surgery Saturday morning to tack her retina back in place. This latest procedure wasn't quite as involved as the other two and the prognosis appears to be good but then she's heard that before.

We attended the wedding of Tammy's nephew in St. Peter last weekend. I'd only met Brady on maybe one other occasion. He's the kind of person who leaves a really positive impression on you as does his wife, Kaylee. They've got such a bright future.

Both the wedding and reception were held on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus. The acoustics in the church left a lot to be desired but I loved the stained glass. It was simple but had a refined look to it. I didn't have my nicer camera with me but I tried my best to capture a panorama of the artwork with my Droid.

The wedding was nice but we enjoyed the reception and dinner even more. We had picked up Rachel and Tony in Rochester before leaving for St. Peter so it was nice to spend time with them too. Everything about the wedding was done so well. We'd be happy to be able to provide something as nice for Rachel someday.

I started up my truck to head into work Sunday afternoon for the beginning of my work-week and realized that I hadn't driven it at all over the weekend as the same Pink Floyd tune in the CD player kicked in where it had stopped when I'd shut the truck down after my mid-shift. Tammy disagrees with me but I think we can easily get by with one vehicle when we retire. I'm still going to push for that. I can only imagine a couple times a year when it might be convenient to have two cars so the expense hardly seems worth it. Wish me luck.

It's a slow week for our porch and deck project but Joe got lots of work done last week. That update can be found here.

I got out Monday morning under a warm, sunny sky for a 44 mile ride before work. I really loved being out there with so little traffic and the freshness of a new day. I was imagining how it will be when I'm retired and not in a hurry to get home to get ready for work. It seems that I live my life in a hurry these days, always trying to maximize my time away from work with an eye on the clock. I wanted to add in the hills of County Rd 86 on the return leg but I had to skip them. Not enough time.

I know I know I know...I can hear my retired friends thinking, 'just do it!'

I will! Just not yet.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Morning, Mom and Mini Marsupials

I was up at 6:30 and out the door by 7:00 this morning with the pups hurrying to get them out for a walk before the temps got above 70 and in a range where Toby and Allie struggle somewhat, especially with the high humidity we have. Walking at night hasn't been an option lately with all of the fireworks that come alive in the evening. Allie looks to jump into my arms at the first sound of them.

For the most part, they're content to hang out at home next to me. If I'm gone, you'll typically find Allie and Charlie by the back door with Toby in his spot on the family room couch by the dragonfly lamp. We're looking forward to having our deck completed so they can while away the hours out there in the fresh air.

After chatting with Joe this morning and giving him my approval for some decisions we needed to make about the construction of the pergola, I was free to suit up and hammer out some miles on my bike before work. I really love my Monday morning loop. It's not a long ride at 36 miles but I enjoy the challenge of riding the route with a little more intensity than I do on my longer rides. Any time I can bring it home in something over 20 mph I'm happy. Today was 20.2.

We got together with Mom on the 4th. She lives just a few blocks away from Lakeville North High School where they launch the fireworks. Her neighborhood is always buzzing with people trying to find a nice spot from which to view them but that wasn't our focus. We brought over some wine and she put together some snacks for us to munch on while we chatted. Still, I managed to go out and capture a few images of the glimmering blossoms with my steadiest hands possible.

Her right eye continues to make a slow but steady recovery from a torn and detached retina. You could tell that she was grateful for the company. It was a nice time.

Our porch project is probably two weeks behind schedule because of both the wet weather and a delay in replacing a damaged window but it's nearing completion. The pergola gave us a bit of a scare but Joe came up with a solution that should work just fine.

Joe (our contractor) and his wife are the new owners of two Sugar Gliders. Joe told me that they'd gone to the mall to get a basketball hoop when Lisa saw the Sugar Gliders being sold at a kiosk. They're marsupials, native to Australia and very tame, preferring to hide out in your shirt pocket if you don't mind.

Sugar Gliders

Joe isn't overly thrilled with their new purchase but I hope he warms up to the little guys because they have a life expectancy of between 9 and 12 years. Yikes!