Sunday, June 28, 2015

A "Doh!" Moment and Other Random Musings

I've been off from work this past week. Typically, vacation days always fly by for me but not so much this time. It's been really nice. Lots of walks with the pups, time on my bikes and a good amount of hours spent working in the yard. All of those things I find relaxing and that was what I was after. I'll have one more week off in late August before heading into the home stretch of my career.

Speaking of retiring, we have several controllers retiring at the end of June: Tim Baker, Fred Damico, Grant Feest, Dave Hanson, Rob Ralston, and Mark Anderson.

Me? 188 dtg.

We took Elaine to the zoo on Monday. She was excited to see the monkeys but she probably enjoyed the butterfly garden most of all. I can't remember the last time I was there.

Federal subsidies for the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) were upheld by the United States Supreme Court this past week. They also ruled on same-sex marriage, making it legal throughout the country. Conservatives and Christians are not happy. They seem to be happiest when we're spending vast sums of money on war but not the health of our citizens. And how is it that we ever allowed someone's biblical definition of marriage to define who in our society can marry whom? The bible is anything but clear on the definition of marriage because it's not just one-man-one-woman.

We had to have both Joe (our contractor for our addition) and Brian (Joe's former tile installer) out to our home to look at some cracking in the tile grout in the sunporch. We first noticed the problem a year ago but didn't think too much about it. I figured I'd just re-grout the area once it stopped chipping. It's much more serious than we imagined. Either one of the products under the tile (self-leveling compound or anti-fracture membrane) has failed or there's been some movement in the room to cause it. Joe took some measurements and said the structure is within 3/8 of an inch from being perfectly square and level.

If you look closely you can see chips in the grout throughout the room but Joe pointed out that most of the failing is where the structure ties into the house and where there are no footings beneath it that could've possibly moved as seen in this photo. That makes sense.

We're not sure what the final solution will be but Joe is hoping to have an agreement reached with all parties concerned in the next month or so.

Rachel and I had a "Doh!" moment earlier in the week. We went to pick up her mattress at her storage locker and proceeded to tie it to the roof of her car not realizing that we were tying her car doors shut. If this helps to affirm that I'm not her go-to guy for any future moves I'm okay with that.

I was out on my Sarma Shaman fat-bike quite a lot this past week getting acquainted with it. I'm still riding too tentatively to say for certain how much benefit I'm getting from the front suspension but so far, so good. I'm liking my new ride a lot.

I was planning to go for a few hour walk on Friday afternoon but just as I was leaving I changed my mind and got on my fat-bike instead. I was glad I did. I had so much fun out there and whatever worries about our tile floor that were preoccupying my thoughts increasingly faded away with each mile I put behind me.

Video from my ride.

Tuesday's ride had me in some of the tallest grass I'd ever seen. The Shaman made easy work of it but I did have to stop a few times to extract grass from my drivetrain.

Surprisingly, I only found one tick after I got home.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Meet the Shaman!

Maria, Norm, and Eva (my mother's sisters and brother-in-law) came into town last week to see Mom. It was nice to spend a couple of hours with them at Keith and Tracee's home. I think Mom did her best to be there in the moment with them but she's really not well. Between the C-Diff and her medications, there are a very limited number of hours in the day where she is okay to have visitors. Mostly she's exhausted but oftentimes she's confused. Sometimes I want them to stop treating her and just let her leave this life as comfortably as she can. But then there are times when I feel more optimistic for her and see her overcoming the C-Diff and bouncing back close to where she was before this all began nearly 5 weeks ago. The longer this continues, the more I feel it's both wishful thinking and selfish on my part. It's a very difficult time for her.

Tammy and her mother and I went to see her earlier in the week. We're still required to wear a protective robe when we're in her room and we're supposed to refrain from any physical contact. That didn't stop Tammy from trying to position her more comfortably in her bed.

I said so-long to my Mukluk after 3.5 years together. I sold it to Reid last week but not before giving it one last bath. It was a great bike for me and one that introduced me to a whole other world of riding. I'll never forget the first time I ventured down along the Minnesota River bottom trails with it and the smile on my face as I soaked in the scenery. I'll miss my friend but I've been itching to get something a little lighter and with front suspension.

I'm now the happy owner of a Sarma Shaman!

It's a carbon-fiber frame manufactured in Russia. Being that it's from Russia did cause me some hesitation but the reviews I read about it were all very good. Carbon-fiber rims, seat post, and bars along with a RockShox Bluto front suspension fork bring it in at an impressive 27.6 lbs. My Mukluk was 34.4. It doesn't sound like a lot but 7 lbs is a noticeable difference and one that my knees will appreciate.

I took it out for its maiden ride this morning before work. I felt like I was flying out there on the trails in some spots. I had to tone it down a little because the grasses are so tall that it's hard to see what's coming up the trail especially around some of the sharper curves. I had a blast and I was still on a high when I got to work 90 minutes later. It's everything I was hoping it would be.

I made it out Tuesday for a fun 97-mile ride into Wisconsin on a route I hadn't done in the last couple of years. It's one of my favorite routes but I typically like to go into the wind on the way out so I have it at my back when I turn for home and an east wind typically brings rainy weather with it. Not on this day. It was a gorgeous day to be out on the bike!

Come and see what I mean...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Our Moms and a Yikes!

We're beginning to find a rhythm to the new dynamics of our household. Elaine was resistant to staying with us at first but in the past week there's been no push-back at all. She gets a little lonely for her home and Cindy at times but a phone call to Cindy helps. We have yet to set up a video chat for her to try but intend to do that soon. There's no reason not to use all of this great technology available to us.

We purchased a season pass to the zoo; it's less than 15 minutes away. Tammy and Elaine have already been there once and her mom enjoyed it. They'll be doing much more of that. Tammy has also been getting her out for walks around the neighborhood. We're feeling very blessed that we're in a position to be able to do this for her.

My mom hasn't been faring so well. We had a family care conference last Wednesday that seemed to me to gloss over many of the health issues she's having. She continues to be dehydrated due to a persistent case of C-diff. Why they haven't had her on an IV is beyond me. I want to trust the staff that has been caring for her at Three Links Care Facility but some of us can't help but question some of what's happening (or not happening).

Tracee took her back to the ER at Ridges this morning after speaking with her regular doctor. She was so dehydrated when she arrived that they couldn't even get a urine sample from her. Again, I just have to say what a blessing Tracee has been to our family for all she's been doing behind the scenes to make sure that Mom is getting the best care. I should add that Mom is too often reluctant to tell the nursing staff when she has a problem. She didn't want to bother them one night last week in the middle of the night because she felt they needed their sleep, too. She fails to realize that that's what they're there for.

I had my appointment yesterday for my Photodynamic Therapy. It's been probably 5 years since I last had it done and I don't remember my face reacting so strongly to it. It's like a bad sunburn. The entire procedure takes about two hours and begins with a scrubbing of my face with acetone followed by the application of a chemical that needs to be allowed to soak into my skin for 75 minutes. I was then placed in front of a blue light that wraps around my face. The first few minutes are kind of intense as the chemical reacts to the light and begins to burn my skin. I couldn't help but wonder how I was going to endure it for the full 16 minutes and 40 seconds but after a few minutes, the pain subsides a little and becomes manageable. I'll have the process done again in three weeks.

I got a phone call for an overtime shift this morning. I told Lenny I could make it. I then went into the bathroom to get ready and looked in the mirror. Yikes! People are gonna freak out when they see me I thought. I think some maybe did a little. But they paid me well to be embarrassed so I didn't mind all that much.