Friday, November 22, 2013

A Small World and a Shawn Mullins Evening

I received a Facebook friend request Sunday night along with a short message:

"Last night, my niece and I were going to try making lefse for the first time. (I inherited my moms lefse making equipment, but had never made lefse with her). Since we didn't really know what we were doing, I sent Ashley to the computer to find us a YouTube video to watch. She found one and we watched it. When we were finished, I checked to see who made it. Low and behold, it was your lefse making video. There are scores of lefse making videos out there, and we watched the one made by the guy across the street. How funny is that!


It sure can be a small world at times! Here's the video Jenny was referring to.

I've been battling a sinus infection for weeks. I finally broke down yesterday and went in to be seen and walked away with a prescription for Amoxicillin. I'm happy to finally be on the mend. This thing has been kicking my butt the past week.

I'm sitting here on a Saturday night tapping out some words for my blog while paying minimal attention to the TV with its nonstop 50th-anniversary programming of the JFK assassination. I was in the 1st grade and have some distinct memories of the tragedy but nothing deep. There was no profound sadness on my part because as a 6-year old I don't think I really understood death. I recall being on the bus on the way home from school and listening to one of the other kids talk about how President Kennedy was going to get a 21-gun salute. I don't know that I understood what that meant but it sounded cool. I remember sitting in front of the TV and watching coverage presented by a black news reporter. Keith, being only 3 commented, "that man has a dirty face." Why I remember that I have no idea. It's strange the things that remain with us over the years. Of all of the thoughts I come away with after watching the coverage I'm left thinking of his wife, Jackie, and the strength she showed that day and afterward. Just amazing.

I've spent many hours over the last few afternoons stringing outdoor Christmas lights—or "winter lights" as I refer to them to a friend who frowns on our obsession with Christmas. I really do think Jesus would not be happy to have his arbitrary birthday celebrated in such a materialistic way with our frenzied shopping for and giving of gits.

Our neighbors behind us moved away today to a larger home in Lakeville. When John and Melissa moved here some 7 years or more ago it was just the two of them, but now they've become so much more with Grayson, Haley, Ila, and Kariss (sp). I was outside yesterday when Haley came running up to me..."Mr. Kevin...Mr. Kevin!! ...we're moving tomorrow!!" They're all so adorable! I'll miss their "Mr. Kevin" greetings. They're such good kids.

Tammy and I went to see Shawn Mullins at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis on Wednesday night. What a fun time we had! Patty Larkin was the opening act and although I was unfamiliar with her music, a couple of her songs I liked right away.

Patty played for an hour before giving way to Shawn.

I have to say that had Shawn walked up to me to bum a smoke I'd have not recognized him at all. He looks like the most unlikely recording artist—at least at that moment when he first took the stage. After watching him, though, for just a few minutes, you can't help but become a big believer! His voice is so rich and his words draw you in and paint an image that takes you on a journey for the length of the song. Tammy was so happy to be there, too. She's the one that turned me on to his music when we first met.

Our seats were just off to the left of the stage and a little too close for sneaking a video or two. I spied an empty seat at a table in the balcony and gave Tammy a wink as I left to go capture a few songs with my camera. She understands this thing I do.

We couldn't have been happier with the show and the night! I wanna go again!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Going Back on a Promise, Riding and Road Trips

My Candy Crush fixation has begun to wane after a few months of diligent play. I'm on level 257 and finding that the game doesn't intrigue me the way it once did. It's been a good run but perhaps it's time to find another distraction. Hmmm. I'm considering reinstalling Wordfeud on my phone.

I was quite sure I wouldn't be putting up Christmas lights this holiday season, in fact, I promised myself that last year would be the end of the tradition. I'm a softy. Over the last week or so my resolve to go into these holidays in a less than festive mood is weakening and the idea of involving our new addition in our outdoor light display has been gaining momentum; so much so that I went out to Fleet Farm yesterday and bought a bunch more LED light sets. I've sort of wanted to lay some off-white lights over the top of our pergola so this will be the motivation I need to get out there and do it.

I took yesterday off from work so I could get a head-start on the outdoor lights but rains moved in and washed out most of the afternoon. I didn't mind though because what I probably needed more than anything was a day for laying low. I did manage to get out for a couple hours after sunset last night to begin work on the job with hopes of having all of the lights strung by this time next week.

Tammy had her last watercolor class on Wednesday and came home with a poinsettia she painted. She wasn't totally pleased with it because her instructor insists on her students doing more outlining in black of parts of the painting, making it look somewhat cartoonish. Rather than outlining, Tammy was anticipating shading areas instead where it was necessary. She just goes with the flow and does her best to take in all of the advice whether she agrees or not.

She's looking to sign up for another class when one becomes available. I'm really happy to see her painting again because she's so artistic and I think she needs this outlet. She mentioned possibly using her poinsettia painting as the cover of our Christmas cards this year. She won't need to convince me.

I made it back out to the trails at Murphy-Hanrehan this past Wednesday after sleeping a few hours in the morning following my all-night shift. I'm learning a lot about trail riding but I have such a long way to go. Not having suspension on my Mukluk forces me to find the cleanest line I can through the trails because bouncing off rocks and roots can throw me offline so quickly and send me veering off the trail if I'm carrying too much speed. I not only prefer to keep my bike upright but I have to. I've had no falls my last two times at Murphy which I'm pleased about.

Some video from Wednesday's ride.

Tammy and I drove up to Stillwater Thursday afternoon in search of some end-tables for our sun-porch. Karen cautioned us that we'd likely only find lots of antiques and she was right. Still, it was a nice time. We always enjoy doing that trip together. I think we'll pencil in an afternoon in Excelsior in the next few weeks as well because that's another city where we enjoy visiting the various shops.

I'm not sure where to go next for the end-tables we're in search of. We've been to the more obvious places so now it's time to check out those lesser-known names.

I took advantage of some beautiful fall weather on Friday afternoon to spend some time on my road bike. It was nice to be on it, hammering out a nice cadence and speed. I haven't done nearly as much riding this year as in years past but I've made the most of my time out there and I'm riding faster than I have in a long while thanks to the Quarq power meter on my Serotta. It's made all the difference.

Video from Friday's ride. Hang on tight!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tony Campolo, Lefse Party and Indulging My Inner Child

I was driving home from work recently, flipping through stations on the radio until stopping on a Christian station that at one time in my life not all that long ago I would occasionally listen to. The person hosting the show was laying into Jehovah's Witnesses and how they're all going to hell because they're not interpreting the Bible the way he thinks they should. When he finished bashing them, he turned his attention to the practice of judging other people while encouraging his listeners to be more judgmental of one another and to not follow the trend in some circles of society where being judgmental is frowned on. He said the Bible calls on us to judge one another and that we should be doing this constantly throughout the day. Great. Let's all do that. I'd like to begin by judging him but really, I've got better things to do.

I reached toward the radio and said something I shouldn't have before turning to NPR, upset with the thought that this guy has people out there following his lead.

It's been a year since my divorce from Hosanna that resulted from my failed attempt to come to an understanding with their senior pastor Bill Bohline over his leadership about an issue that was troubling me. My heart has only hardened more toward organized religion in the year since and that disappoints me. I can't pretend it's something other than what it is.

But there is hope. There are actually people out there who in my eyes exemplify Christ's love through their words. I was watching a video last night from a theologian named Tony Campolo. He very much speaks to me and for me as I find myself reassessing where I'm at in my own faith/spiritual journey. Here's a link to the video.

There's a quote that's often wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill that says: "If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative by 40, you have no brain." My life seems to be working in the reverse order of that.

But enough of all of that.

Tammy hosted a lefse-making party at our home last Wednesday morning and it was a hit! Jackie, Erin, and Mom came over with Anja and friend Lena. I mean, what would a lefse party be without a Lena in the mix? Betsi and Tracey also came over and took their turn with the rolling pin. There's definitely a knack to the whole process. I of course shot some video for the archives. We plan to do it again next month except the focus won't be on lefse; it'll be Sunbuckles and Krumkake.

Typically this time of year I'm trying to take advantage of dry roads and mostly reasonable temperatures to squeeze in as many miles on my road bike as I can before the snow flies. But not so much this year. I've been giving the nod to my Mukluk for the past month while my skinny tire bike sits idle. Between the trails at Murphy, the Minnesota River bottoms, and local gravel roads, I've been having so much fun out there.

My inner child is alive and well and loves coming out to play!

Here's a link to my ride on Strava and some video from last Friday afternoon.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Full Weekend and a Full Life...(but she's aiming for 90!...she told me)

When Tammy was in college she took a watercolor painting class as an elective study. She put together a nice portfolio of work during the class but in the 18 or so years since then, she hasn't taken the time to dabble in the art. I've tried over the years to encourage her to get back into it but I'm not one to nag.

But she's finally going to!

She signed up for a watercolor class taught by a local artist and will work with her over the next month. She's excited about it and so am I. I told her that I can totally see her setting up out in the sun-porch with her materials; it will be a perfect spot. She has a birthday coming up next month and I think I'd like to get her an easel.

Rachel is in Maryland this weekend for another ballroom dance competition. I got a text from her Friday afternoon as they passed near New York on their way: "NYC doesn't scare me anymore" "you know how it can be a bit intimidating at first? I can handle it now". Both Tammy and I couldn't be happier for her as she ventures out into our big beautiful world. Like I always say about Rachel's life: I just love being along for the ride!

The competition is going well for her and her partner. Out of 100 couples for Rhythm, they took 2nd place in both Cha-cha and Rumba and 1st place in Swing during Saturday's competition. They took three 1st places and one 2nd place today. She sent us a link where we could watch a live video feed of the competition and even go back and review video from earlier in the day. Tammy's been glued to her laptop, watching.

Kevin Kirsch, a controller at work, is moving on. Because he's now 56 years young he can no longer work as a controller but he was able to score an instructor's slot down at the academy in Oklahoma City where he plans to continue his FAA career for at least another couple years. There was a going-away party for him a few days ago and I stopped in to wish him well. I gave him the latest fruits of my glassblowing labors as a gift; a couple of simple candle holders. He'll be missed by us all for both his talents in the sector and his storytelling...haha—well, maybe not the stories so much but some.

Tammy and I were both home to pass out Halloween candy to the little monsters and assorted characters. It's been a few years since I've had our air-powered Dracula set up but I got it down from the loft in our garage and had it greet the trick-or-treaters as they made their way up our front walk. One little guy didn't notice it as he walked past it on his way to our front door but when he turned around to head back to his mother waiting for him at the end of our driveway he saw Dracula rising up out of the casket. He shook his head 'no'. "I'm not going" he kept quietly repeating but his mother couldn't hear. I yelled down to her that she may want to come up and walk with him. Poor guy.

I had such a fun ride on my Mukluk yesterday morning before work. I thought seriously about getting on my road bike and taking advantage of the dry roads but my Mukluk is just way too much fun and its call can be so irresistible sometimes. I love exploring gravel roads and routes on it that never get any consideration when I've got skinny tires under me. I only biked 30 miles but I worked it hard out there for the most part. I came home out of breath and on such a ridiculous high. I love that!

There's a bit of a treat in this video for my siblings.

Mom turned 85 today! Tammy and I took her out to Perkins this morning for breakfast. She looked so pretty. It's been a difficult six month stretch for her with all of the eye surgeries (I think 5) she's had for a detached and torn retina in her right eye. She had a followup appointment on Friday and her doctor gave her the go-ahead to drive again. It's encouraging to her but I don't really like the idea very much because she's gotten so weak in the last few months. It will be difficult for her to get in and out of her low sitting Ford Escort without some assistance. We'll see.

Jackie, Aleah, Erin, Kelsey, Cassidy, and Anja picked her up tonight and took her out to the Old Piper for Pizza. She had a great time. When I talked to her on my way home from work tonight she was too excited from all the activity to sleep.

It sounds like she had a really great day!