Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter, 2016

My mom's townhome in Lakeville went on the market a few days ago. It's had a few showings already this Easter weekend and I think it's priced right for a reasonably quick sale. The feedback has been so-so but the home is a little dated so that's to be expected. Otherwise, I think it shows really well. Here's a link to the listing.

Winter made a strong comeback and dumped 9" (23 cm) of heavy, wet snow on us in Lakeville. Some parts of the metro were spared entirely from the storm as its path was well defined between the haves and the have-nots. We followed up the snow with temps well above freezing and we're mostly back to our brown, drab look again. Hopefully, I'll be back out at Crystal Lake Golf Course tomorrow to continue working on my short game.

I'm still seeing my chiropractor/acupuncturist a few times a week to address my strained intercostal muscles and dislocated rib. I'm making progress but I'm not yet ready to swing the club fully. I was at Golfsmith a few nights ago talking with the guy who fitted me for my clubs. Bob spent some time in his youth as a chiropractic student but never completed his studies. He was very familiar with the injury I'm struggling with and gave me a stretch to do before swinging the club. It's a stretch I can't quite do yet because of tightness but that just goes to show me that I'm not ready.

I woke up yesterday morning with plans to ride my CompuTrainer and the 27 mile Diamond in the Rough course that I like to program into it but I decided instead to pump up the tires of my blue Serotta and take it to the streets. I was so glad I did. I found an early-season form that caught me off guard as I worked my way through my Hampton loop of 41 miles (66 km) in 2 hours and 8 minutes, averaging 227 watts and 19.2 mph. I felt so good out there as did my knees. I got off my bike and walked down to check the mail where I chatted with Alex, my brain drenched in endorphins while thinking this is why I ride.

We just had an offer come in on Mom's townhome as I write this.

Rachel came into town yesterday to meet with some friends in preparation for a wedding in August that she's a part of. She spent the night with us and we chatted while half paying attention to episode 9 of the 4th season of House of Cards. I woke up this morning and used my usual low morning voice to imitate Frank Underwood (from House of Cards) while attempting to get a laugh from Tammy. I only elicited a sideways look from her but I think I got Rachel's approval.

We went to Easter services together at Hosanna. It was a nice service but I was preoccupied with thoughts of how the church environment just isn't the same for me anymore and I can't pretend it is. I know we're all just lost sheep bumping into one another (as Tammy likes to say) but the hypocrisy of so much of what my thoughts keep coming back to keeps me from being all-in for organized religion ever again.

Perhaps if those in the church would say, 'you know, as a group of people we've really been dickish toward the president and others who don't subscribe to our conservative beliefs—we haven't at all embraced the teachings of Jesus when we agreed to shut the door in the faces of desperate refugees out of fear that maybe, just maybe one of them would commit a terrorist act on our soil while not seeming at all concerned about the 32,000 yearly deaths that result from gun violence and our 2nd amendment rights that those of us in the church are in lockstep support of (I could go on and on here but you get the idea) and we apologize, but not only that, we're going to change'. Yeah, right.

By attempting to fit in there, I'd be trying to put a square peg into a round hole and I don't see the good in that. I'm too liberal, too accepting of those the church would rather marginalize. Although I have had thoughts of how Tammy and I could be part of the few who bring another perspective to an otherwise like-minded group of people. I'm open to however God chooses to use me.

Tammy went to pick up her mother after church while Rachel and I went to Perkins to get a seat, expecting to find at least an hour's wait. There was no wait whatsoever. It gave us a nice opportunity to chat while we waited for Tammy and mom/grandma. Elaine enjoyed her time away from her new home and I'm pleased to say that she's fitting in so well there. We're not aware of any pushback at all by her toward her new surroundings.

Rachel posted the photo to the right of Grandma and herself today and said, "Though she now misplaces the pieces that connect her words to thoughts, her capacity to love is ever abundant".

That's so well said.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


This blog entry finds me sitting by the fire with the pups at my side and Mandolin Orange on my UE Boom speakers while a snowstorm (possibly our biggest of the season) has turned our brown-world-struggling-to-turn-green into white. Lots of white. We've got high temps well above freezing for as far out as the long-range forecast peers and I could probably ignore the snow and allow it to eventually melt but I won't. I'm retired—remember?

Although we've found a new home for Tammy's mom, Tammy is still working overtime trying to get several details ironed out with Dakota county. She's put a lot of work and worry into this and we're both looking forward to it being wrapped up. Being able to come and go as we please without having to coordinate between each other so one of us is always here with Elaine has been a nice change. Nicest of all though is the transition she's made to her new home. She's very content and isn't at all questioning the staff about her new surroundings.

The injury to my left side intercostal muscles that I suffered on the golf course last week turned out to be more than that. I went in to see the chiropractor I'd turned to when I was injured in a bike crash in September of 2014, hoping he could work his voodoo magic skills on my pain.

I have even more of an appreciation for chiropractors now.

I took my shirt off and laid face down on the table. Within a minute of probing and reacting to my responses/winces, he was able to pinpoint my pain and surprise me with his diagnosis of a dislocated rib. I thought you either broke ribs or bruised them; I didn't know they could be dislocated. Before I could reply he firmly applied pressure with the palm of his hand and I felt a distinct 'POP!' (I think I even heard it) as he forced my rib back into place. He followed that up with acupuncture and instructions to ice the area a few times each day and to make a follow-up appointment in two days.

It's still going to take a couple of weeks to heal but not addressing the dislocated rib would've set me back much more and it never would've healed correctly on its own. My intercostal muscles were also strained and they're what will probably be what slows my recovery the most. This ordeal has given me a renewed appreciation for the benefits of stretching before teeing it up. Still, I'm going to be more than a little worried about this happening again. If nothing else, it's given me time to focus on my short game.

I've had a love-hate relationship (mostly hate) with my LGG4 phone that I bought last November. The way it couldn't hold a WiFi signal was frustrating me to no end so I returned it for another. The replacement phone seemed to work fine for about a week but then it too began to have issues staying connected. I put up with it until last Thursday when I went back to Verizon and explained to the sales rep the problems I was having. Sure enough, he couldn't get it to connect either. I asked if this is a common problem with the phone and he assured me that it isn't. He put another phone on order for me and it arrived on Monday.

The new phone seemed to be an improvement over the previous two but it would still occasionally lose its connection. I went back to Verizon to get a screen protector for it (having decided that I was going to accept the phone and whatever shortcomings it had) and the rep who'd helped me earlier asked me how the LG was working. I told him about the few times it disconnected and he inquired about the wireless router we have at home. "It's a Belkin," I told him. He did a quick search while another rep carefully cleaned my phone's screen and affixed the protector.

He found a thread where someone was complaining of having connectivity issues between their LGG4 and their Belkin router. They bought a new router and it solved the problem. Hmmm. I asked if he had a suggestion on a good router before going across the street to BestBuy where I came away with a (scary looking according to Rachel) NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabyte Router. That's a mouthful of a description but it leaves nothing to chance with respect to a signal anywhere in our home.

It still doesn't explain why the phone was unable to connect in their store but I'm sorta done thinking about it. The new LGG4 is working just fine and that's what matters.

Time to sleep. I've got some snowblowing to do in the morning!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Empty Nesters Once Again and Too Much of a Good Thing

We're empty-nesters once again. Tammy has been busy this past week assembling all of the puzzle pieces to have her mother (Elaine) placed into a nearby group home. A friend had just mentioned this particular home to us and how nice it would be if we could have her there but they seldom have openings. Fortunately for us all, we reached out to them at just the right time. We never expected the process to move so quickly but when this particular opening became available we jumped at the chance.

We don't think we could've found a better place for Elaine and that's comforting to know. She'll be only 7 miles (11 km) away which will make it easy for us to see her as often as we'd like.

A week ago we had no idea that this is where we'd be today. Tammy was in tears this morning at the thought of her mother in an unfamiliar place but there's much relief to be had in knowing that she'll be well cared for and that our lives have been freed up to begin doing together the things we used to love to do but that we had to put on hold for the past 9 months. We went out to dinner with Marty and Brenda last night to delight in regaining our freedom.

Among other things, I will miss our conversations in the car where she would repeat for me a handful of stories that she would draw upon, telling me each as if for the first time. She would often talk about her brother Adolf and how he would take her and her friends dancing, or the story about the two boys on the bus who saved her a seat once because they wanted her to sit by them or several others that she enjoyed reminiscing about.

She never knew my name in all the time she's been staying with us and recently Tammy has stopped being her daughter and has become that nice woman who helps her. She recently referred to Rachel as her sister. Her decline into Alzheimer's has been steady but she has remained a caring and kind soul. As much as we will enjoy our independence once again, we'll also miss her sweet presence.

Charlie will miss the easy mark she was for scoring treats from her plate! Too many times he'd come up to us with food stuck to the top of his head that missed its mark when she dropped it to him.

I've been enjoying too much of a good thing and by that, I'm referring to golf. Crystal Lake Golf Course is only a mile from our home and I was over there on the driving range, Friday, Saturday and Sunday working on finding that elusive groove. I joined a men's golf league which will start in May and I purchased a season pass. Yes, I just bolted out of the gate so to speak—and fell flat on my face!

I was out at the course early yesterday morning before anyone else had arrived, excited to get my first round of the year in but after only a few holes I had aggravated the intercostal muscles of the ribs on my left side. It's a sharp pain and an injury that will likely prevent me from fully swinging a club for a month or so. I had to deal with this same injury back in '93 so I knew exactly what it was when it appeared. I'm hoping that because I stopped playing soon enough after noticing it that my recovery will be quicker than usual.

I can still practice my short game so I'm not totally dead-in-the-water but the practice range and the course are going to have to wait.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Serial and No Hurry to Get Home

I've been listening to the Serial podcast on my walks. I'd first heard about it a year ago but never took the time to check it out until Rachel recently mentioned how good it is. She's right. It's compelling listening, much in the same way Making a Murderer is.

I drove out to Golfworks Saturday morning to get a few things for my newly rekindled fascination with golf. Tammy was having several friends over so I took some extra time getting home and went a mile out of my way to revisit a neighborhood where I'd spent a year of my life in 1965 when I was 8 years old. I had written about my time there a while ago. I took some photos yesterday to go along with some of those memories I wrote of. We lived on the southeast corner of 66th Street and Lakeshore Drive in Richfield which is right in the middle of this map.

The home we lived in was a small, one-story home that must've been bursting at the seams with 8 of us living there. The house, as well as several neighboring homes, have long since been torn down to make way for a senior high-rise and other associated dwellings. A few of the trees remain but that's all. The photo to the left is taken looking in the direction of where our home used to be, right across from where Bridgeman's Ice Cream was before being torn down and replaced by Pizza Luce.

I had my first job while living there. Steve Casperson and I used a red wagon one summer day to deliver advertising flyers for the local Super America station across the street. Our hearts were in it when we started but after several hours of canvassing numerous blocks of homes, many of the flyers found their way into the storm drain before we returned to tell our boss at the station that we'd finished the job. I suppose the old adage is true that you get what you pay for because they didn't pay us much.

I took some photos to update my previous blog post linked above. The hill I wrote of that was to be our runway that would get Don Falin airborne is this hill. It looks much different today with an overgrowth of trees, none of which were there back in the day.

And here's the view I would've had from my bike the day I rode on the wrong side of the street, not paying attention to what was coming my way and nearly pedaling hard head-on into an oncoming car.

I miss being able to see the old house and walk the alley behind our homes and reminisce about so many memories that I can still see so vividly in my mind. Rachel will be able to do that with her childhood homes for a long time to come, probably the rest of her life. I wish I could. 

Our weather has turned unseasonably warm, pushing into the mid-50s today. The pups and I were out by 7:30 this morning, back in the swing of our daily walks again for as long as the well below freezing weather remains a no-show. They're loving it! I don't typically walk them during the winter because their fur picks up so much grit from the roads. The past few days they've all been camped out at the back door near where I keep their leashes. It's a clear signal and I can't disappoint them. A quick rinse in the laundry tub to clean their feet after each walk is all they need.

I got home and refueled before going walking on my own (nearly 13 miles total) to feel the sun and wind on my face. It was nice. I noticed lots of contrails with several running from north to south; flights most likely from Europe possibly working their way toward DAL or LAX. I have to admit, I was tempted to call the sup in my old area and have him/her tell me who I was looking at in the photo to the right but I dismissed the urge. Besides, the Serial podcast was holding my attention quite well.

Friday, March 4, 2016


I've been down in our glass shop more than usual this past week and it's nice. I continue to work on small sun-catcher panels that measure about 10" x 4" (25 x 10 cm). They'd be much easier to make if they were a little larger but I enjoy the challenge of working with smaller pieces. I probably have about 10-12 hours of work into each one.

Part of the fun is found in designing them. I'm using a program called DeltaCad that a friend told me about years ago. It's so much easier than using a pencil and paper.

What can't be seen so well in the photo to the left is the German antique glass I used through the center of the panel. You can see it in the upper section but it runs the length of the panel and adds a nice touch.

I hope to knock out at least a few more before the weather turns warmer and I close up shop until next winter. I'd love to think that with my extra free time I'll be able to dabble with this hobby throughout the year but I just don't see that happening.

One of my other hobbies used to be golf. I was an avid golfer 20 years ago and could be found at the practice range at Crystal Lake Golf Course 2-3 nights each week and on one of several courses around the metro area once each week, usually Friday mornings. I'd typically meet up with Mike Koch, Joe Schrodt and maybe Bob Nichol or Lee Larson but my favorite rounds were when I got together with Scott Brandes. We were so competitive with one another. "Oh, that's unfortunate." We would often use that line on each other as we tried our hardest to suppress a smile. Those were some fun times.

I lost all interest in the game when I went through my divorce from Noy in '97. I was no longer enjoying myself out there so I took to the solitude of my bike to work through my worries. Plus, it was an expense I could no longer afford at the time.

I've played only a handful of rounds in the years since with my clubs having been relegated to a corner in the loft of our garage. I haven't missed the game but I think that's my mind playing with me more than anything; a kind of denial.

I was on the phone with Scott last week and we got to talking about golf. I mentioned that I was considering getting a new set of clubs although I hadn't been pursuing it all that much. But the more we talked, the more I started warming up to the idea of actually getting some clubs and by the time we hung up my mind was made up.

Scott will be in town in May and we have plans!

I can be like a dog with a bone when it comes to these things. Once I set out to do something there's usually no stopping me. Golf club technology has come a long way in the last 20 years and my old set was very much in need of replacing. I went to Golfsmith on Sunday afternoon to see what the lay of the land was and came away more confused than ever.

So much has changed. The driver heads are comically huge but wow are they light!

I got online and made an appointment with Bob for a fitting the next afternoon. He came highly recommended by one of the guys at the shop. It was definitely time well spent. After an hour on their golf simulator, Bob had my needs in clubs dialed in and I was so impressed. Amazing technology!

I picked up my clubs yesterday afternoon and sat in the sun-porch organizing them in my golf bag, just like a kid with a new toy. And now I'm really excited to get back out on the practice range and course again. I remember this feeling well.

I can't wait!