Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Much Needed Break and Holding My Own

Our hummingbird feeders have gone quiet as of a few days ago. In the days leading up to our little guys flying south our feeders were as busy as I'd ever seen them. I couldn't look out there without seeing some activity. I'll miss them and I hope for their safe return next spring.

Tammy and I had our first extended time away together since her mother came to live with us 4 months ago. (Elaine has Alzheimer's and needs 24/7 care and monitoring.) Tammy's good friend Brenda offered to stay with her overnight in our home to give Tammy a break. That was so incredibly nice of her but then that's who Brenda is. She's the most selfless person I know besides Tammy.

We left home around 5:00 on Friday afternoon and worked our way toward Winona and our room at the Holiday Inn Express. We stopped in Cannon Falls to visit a winery there and taste their assortment of wines while enjoying our temporary independence and freedom. It was nice.

Yelp directed us to a restaurant across the street for dinner but their waiting time for a table was longer than we wanted so we got back in our car and continued southeast.

I mentioned that we could easily drive through Rochester if Rachel would be around. Tammy called and she was available. We picked her up for dinner then went out into the city and let her lead us to one of her haunts where a friend from college waited on us. The east wind was stinking up the town; it smelled like dirty feet. Not to worry because the alcohol and our conversation took our minds off of it.

We spent the next day beginning in Winona working our way from river town to river town as we ever so slowly made our way toward home, stopping in each city to see the sites. I of course had my camera in hand and occasionally played around with a tilt-shift setting to try and capture some photos that lent themselves to that feel. Here's a collection of them that I assembled.

Rather than go directly home from Redwing we decided to venture into Wisconsin and a winery/restaurant I'd heard about that I've been wanting to check out: Vino in the Valley. It opened at 3:00 and we arrived at 3:15 to a 90 minute wait for a table. Not to worry because we weren't in any hurry and there was enough to keep us occupied.

We had an excellent time there and made the most of it, not wanting to hurry home. I should add that Rachel relieved Brenda for us at noon. Tammy really needed this but it was good for both of us to have this time together.

Here's some video from our time at Vino in the Valley.

Rachel has joined the ranks of the fully employed. (Not that she hasn't been working full-time hours already but it's been spotty.) She began her job on Monday at the University of Minnesota, Rochester as an Admissions Representative. Her work will involve a considerable amount of travel as she visits high-schools throughout the midwest generating interest in UMR. She already has 3 hotel reservations for the coming month. This is only a year long position. Her focus is still on trying to gain acceptance to a Physician Assistant (PA) school.

Sunday night I drove out to Keith and Tracee's in Northfield away from the lights of the 'big city' to try and get the best view I could of the lunar eclipse. I've seen many of these eclipses over the last few decades but none of them have come anywhere close to the one I witnessed in 1975 on the front lawn of the Stagecoach apartments where I was living. I remember that night how the moon just seemed to hang in the night sky, looking so eerie and unlike anything I'd ever seen.

Sunday night's lunar eclipse came as close as any I've seen since of equaling that sight from 40 years earlier. It was probably every bit as good but I was looking at it with eyes that aren't as young as they once were. Glasses can only do so much.

This week has been so much quieter than any of the last several and I'm thankful for that. I still have moments where I want to reach in my pocket for my phone to give my mom a call. I don't expect that to continue for long but it still happens.

I got a text from Reid (he was one of my trainees years ago and is now at the tower at MSP) to see if I was up for a ride Monday afternoon. I've been waiting for the chance to ride with him. Rain nearly trashed our plans but we still made it out.

I was happy to show him that this old man can still hold his own.

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