Saturday, April 25, 2015

No Joke

Rachel was back at Canvas and Chardonnay a few nights ago. She texted Tammy and me this photo of the painting she'd done but we couldn't figure out what it was or if it was a finished product. Hmmm. A little later she sent us the completed painting (photo to the left).

I think this is her third time taking a class there. I told her she should look into applying for a job there teaching classes. I could very much see her doing that. Oops...I just forgot...she's moving home in a few weeks!

Tammy has been preparing for her mother to come and stay with us at the end of May. She's purchased a wheelchair that we can use to take her out and about. We'll have walkers on each level of our home for her to more safely get around and minimize her risk of falling. I don't think I can fully appreciate just how big of an undertaking this is going to be but we know it's the right thing to do. Tammy has many years of experience in this area so I'll just follow her lead.

She was online tonight ordering some in-home monitors so she can more easily keep a watchful eye on her mother when she's in another room or while Tammy is working out or whatever. I think that's a good idea.

4/20 is National Weed Day. I posted the graphic to the right on my Facebook wall the next day. Haha...funny! And wouldn't you know it, my first day back to work this week I was pulled aside and told I needed to go down and pee in a cup for the drug testers. No worries because it's been well over 33 years since I've indulged in the evil weed or any other forbidden mind-altering substances. I wouldn't mind making a trip out west though in another 252 days or so. Not that that would be necessary but I think it would be a hoot. Watch this space.

I'm still enjoying my walks as much as ever. I try and get out for at least a 10-mile walk a couple times each week; sometimes more often. I'd like to be on my bike more but I think it's best for my knee health if I mix it up some. I had planned to ride after work today but I was tired and I'm trying to do a better job of listening to my body. I don't need anymore asleep at the wheel incidents. Regardless of whether it's walking or riding, there's something very therapeutic about being alone with my thoughts for a few hours at a time

A friend at work lost his home in a fire yesterday afternoon. I can't begin to imagine what all Brian is going through. He's the 2nd controller in the last few years at our facility who's suffered this tragedy. Shortly after Brian left for home we got a message at the sectors saying the cafeteria was closing early because the chef had an emergency at home. We heard later that he too had a house fire. What are the odds of two people at the same facility experiencing a house fire on the same day?

A few of us were talking today at work about insurance agencies. We're with State Farm—mostly because our policy is through a former neighbor. A friend said he uses USAA and is very happy with them for both their attention to claims and cost savings. I may have to spend some time this week comparing companies.

Any suggestions about insurance companies would be welcome.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Change is Coming and Change is Here

I received some very good news Monday night in a call from Dr. Johnstone. I posted the news to my Facebook wall:

"I just got off the phone with my doctor/surgeon. She updated me on my CT scan from last Wednesday and used the word "lovely" a few times to describe what she saw. The clot in my left common iliac artery that had an irregular shape and was most concerning to her was no longer there. Wow! I wasn't expecting to hear that at all. The clot in my right iliac artery had diminished in size. Another wow! I thank God and medical science for that great news and anybody who may have offered up their prayers or good thoughts or well-wishes. This is welcome news to me/us."

I had mentally prepared myself for a result that would have had me undergoing a surgical procedure that would've meant the end of my career and months of recovery. This gives me some breathing room and I'm once again focused on a retirement date of 1/2/2016, 259 days from now.

Our quiet household is about to become much more alive in a little more than a month. Rachel will be moving back home for the summer (maybe longer) and Tammy's mother will be coming to stay with us. Elaine will be 90 at the end of the year and is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Tammy was a nurse on an Alzheimer's wing at a retirement home for many years and is in a great position in life to be able to care for her. We're hopeful that she'll adapt to her new life with us without too much stress but we really have no way of knowing how smoothly she'll make the transition. We're looking forward to making her as comfortable and as happy as we can.

I'm not sure how we'll fit activities such as glassblowing into our routine once Elaine is with us. It may be that we'll have to put that hobby on hold or possibly find other temporary partners in the studio.

Speaking of glassblowing; we were back in the studio again on Wednesday afternoon. I struggled with my first 2 pieces but managed to do what I think will be a nice candle votive on my third try. We'll be back at Foci on Tuesday for another 3-hour session and to pick up our work.

I was happy with the pieces we made 2 weeks earlier. For not having been at the bench in nearly 9 months, I thought we did okay.

Our hummingbird feeder is out and ready for any early arrivals. I've had such a difficult time attracting the little guys in previous years. It wasn't until late last summer when I finally had a pair that appeared to make it their go-to place to feed. I want to be sure I'm ready for them if they return and any others that may happen by.

I've been taking glucosamine/chondroitin for knee pain for a couple months now and I think it may be starting to help, either that or my knees are getting used to the more regular demands I'm putting on them. I did fine on Tuesday's 55-mile ride through the first 30 miles but then the pain kicked in and I had to limp home. Yesterday was so much better. I did my Jordan loop and was able to keep my watts well above a 200 average for the last 29 miles with very little pain. I'm still nowhere near where I was last year at this time but I'm making progress and for that I'm grateful.

The Synvisc (hyaluronic acid) injection I had last year in my right knee worked wonders but I'm hesitant to go that route again. I find that without pain, I push harder than I should and I'm worried that I may have stressed my knee more than is good for it. I'd like to give the glucosamine/chondroitin combination a chance to do all it can for me. A little pain can be a good thing if it keeps me in check.

My days off at work have changed to a more junior schedule, one where I'm working with several people I've seldom ever had the chance to work with previously. I'm just putting the finishing touches on a Saturday day-shift as I write this. I can't recall the last time I was here on a Saturday morning but I'm quite sure it's been decades! I think it's gonna be a nice change.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Celebration to Remember

I had another CT scan on Wednesday morning. The results of the scan were to give my surgeon a better idea about the timetable for performing bypass surgery on my common iliac arteries. I was expecting a call with the results but I've heard nothing yet. I would think that if there was anything of urgency on the scan she would've gotten in touch with me by now.

We took a drive into St Paul Friday morning to take in the American Craft Council art show. It's a yearly thing we try and do since first attending maybe 10 years ago. We came close to getting Tammy a new Ann Ringness purse but she opted to get some more miles out of the one I bought for her a few years ago. Perhaps we'll see Ann again at the Uptown Art Fair in August and get one then. We chatted for a while with David Royce, one of the glassblowing artists we met when we first began at Foci. His work is so beautiful and unique.

On the way back to our car I noticed some pigeons walking along the metal supports for the skyway. I looked closer and saw that there were about a dozen pairs with the males bringing the females nesting material while they laid on their eggs. It was interesting to watch.

We made a stop at Cossetta's for some Italian cuisine before leaving for home. It's been several months since we were there so we were overdue. It's easily our favorite place for something tasty in St Paul. There's typically a wait to place your order but there's so much visually to take in that the time passes quickly. There's a reason it's always so busy.

This past weekend was a full one for us both culminating in a small retirement party for Tammy with a few of our closest friends. It was almost a perfect evening.

Rachel came bee-bopping in around 5:00 Friday afternoon, a couple hours before the party. She took over preparations. This girl knows how to throw a party! She brought some nice decorations, assorted foods to make appetizers, and the fixings for Mint Mojitos! Between the food we had catered from Davanni's and her appetizers, we had more than enough.

I had ordered a cake from Cub Foods (the local grocery store) and gave them a cutout of a photo of Tammy from when she was first licensed as a nurse. I had asked for a lighter lavender background color but it didn't quite turn out that way. That's okay because it tasted just like cake. 🙂 I think she was too surprised by the idea to care. She cried a few tears, so thankful for her retirement, friends, and the party. We were all so happy for her.

It was almost a perfect evening until our garbage disposal decided to develop a hole in its side and allow water to spew out of it and inside the cabinet below. Luckily, I noticed it right away. Rachel and I cleaned up the mess and resumed the celebration.

Here's a link to a set of a few photos from the party.

I made it out for a couple rides this past week. Here's video from my 47-mile loop into St Paul.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Yay for Tammy!

Tammy has officially joined the ranks of the retired. She went into work last Monday to turn in all of her equipment and do one final shift. Nearly all of her coworkers also work from home but a few showed up at the office to give her a surprise retirement party, something that seldom happens there. She was surprised! I was so happy for her when she told me that. She deserved it. After the party, she asked if she could be excused for the 2nd half of the day because her head just wasn't with Optum anymore. Her supervisor understood and with that, she left the world of nursing (although I know it will always be in her heart).

We met up at home in the afternoon and I could see from the look on her face that a huge weight had been lifted from her. The work should've been much more rewarding than it was but Optum had a way of adding layers of stress through metrics that took all of the fun out of it.

We took the pups to the dog park and let the idea that she no longer has to return to that pressure-cooker sink in.

Out of nowhere these last few days, she'll suddenly exclaim, "I'm retired!" Every time she says that I imagine my own pending retirement and smile along with her. 274 days.

I wasted little time finding a spot in the office/den for my laptop which is where I'm writing this from. This is where you can often find me now.

We finally made it back to Foci after nearly 9 months of being away. We had no way of knowing when we left there last time that it would be this long before we'd be back. Life sorta got in the way. Tammy commented, "It's like coming home!" It was nice to catch up with the many people who were there. We've both lost whatever edge we may have developed in our glassblowing skills but we're determined to get back to where we were.

It's been crazy breezy here the past few days. I took advantage of Wednesday's wind to shave 2 seconds off of my KOM time on a Strava segment in Farmington. I saw where a group of 5 other riders were out there just a little while later giving it a go. My time still stands for now.

You'll see in the video where a guy pulls out in front of me. I'm not trying to be a jerk when I go by him but the shoulder there is full of holes and debris. I was trying to keep a line that kept me clear of most of it. I doubt he saw me or if he did, he didn't realize I was going as fast as I was.