Sunday, April 24, 2016

I Have Such a Talented Partner!

With Prince's death a few days ago, I'm left somewhat puzzled by the amount of national and worldwide attention his passing has received. I assumed he had a sizeable following but I had no idea he was so revered. I've read my share of articles about him these past few days and they've given me a new appreciation for the man and his music. I can't imagine Bob Dylan garnering more of a send-off than what we've witnessed with Prince.

I don't own any of his music although there are songs of his that I liked and even a couple that take me back to specific places and times from my life in the '80s but nothing more. Tammy and I have been talking about getting a "Prince Essentials" collection of his music if there is such a thing.

I only hope that our lasting memories of the man, other than his music, will be of his generousness for those in need and not a focus on anything darker that is rumored to have resulted in his death.

We had friends of ours come into town from Kalispell, Montana Thursday night. We met Paul and Kate about 6 years ago when we used to host a small group for our church and they were such an important part of that group: Kate with her sincere sweetness and Paul with his questions that nobody else thought to ask. They're such fine people as are the others from our disbanded group. We jumped at the chance to have another get-together at our home. It was so nice to see everyone again. I should have a photo to add here but I don't. 

Tammy has been putting her creative side into overdrive lately. We're still doing our volunteer work on Thursdays in Woodbury with some elderly residents at an assisted living facility in addition to some mentally and physically challenged adults. Each week, Tammy comes up with a craft for the people we work with to do and this past week's project was quite a hit. Tammy prepared dozens of polymer clay slices of various designs she'd made using the cane technique. She had her crafters apply them to a clear glass cup to create a pattern design. They all had a fun time working with them. She brought them home to bake in the oven and we'll bring them back this week. We're thinking of maybe adding some potting soil and flower seeds to complete the project.

She had one other project she took on last week—she reupholstered our deck chairs. After only 3 years they had become faded and tired looking. We went out to Joanne Fabrics and found some outdoor material to use then she spent the better part of two days fitting the cushions for a new look. They turned out great! I'm super impressed that she's able to do this. She first took on an upholstering project when she was a single mom and couldn't afford new furniture but wanted to make her home as nice as possible. She bought some well-worn furniture at a garage sale and breathed new life into it. I have such a talented partner!

I'm still waiting to get back on the links. I had a bit of a setback last Monday when I had an abrupt encounter with not too big of a tree while riding the trails at Murphy. I allowed my left bar end to get too close to a tree and it reached out and grabbed me, stopping me dead in my tracks and sucking me in and smacking my ribs and upper front left shoulder where it left an abrasion that I've done well to keep Tammy from seeing, and because she seldom reads my blog, I'm fine with mentioning it here (insert smiley face). My GoPro was there but my physical meeting with the tree happened out of view of the lens of my camera. Still, you can see it unfold at 3:33 of the video below.

The sharp pain in my rib that I've been nursing for 6 weeks now (due to a golfing injury) was all but gone when this happened but now it's back. I'm hopeful though that I can still swing the club as most of my issues were with rib pain on my left side, more toward my back. I don't want to rush my recovery but I'm itching to get out there. I hit a couple dozen balls at the range tonight at about 3/4 strength and I felt good.

At least I established a bunch of PRs on my ride at Murphy but was it worth it? In that moment, yes but it's no longer that moment and I really wanna golf! Did I mention that men's league begins in less than 2 weeks and I haven't even established my handicap? I've got some work to do in the way of both healing and golfing and I don't know that I can take them both on together but try I will because I'm stubborn that way.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Little Help Please—Am I Being Scammed?

I was contacted recently by someone claiming to work for Facebook. He was wondering if I'd be interested in allowing parts of some video I shot at a Bernie Sanders rally a few months ago to be used in an online commercial he was involved in making. This is actually the 2nd time I've been asked to give someone the rights to use this particular video which you can view below.

The initial contact was followed up with another email detailing the legal specifics about granting Facebook the right to use the video in addition to an offer of $1000 for its use. (Page 1 and page 2.) In a follow-up correspondence, he stated that all they needed from me to proceed was a digital file of the video which they now have. I was told that I'd be contacted by another person who would arrange for me to be paid.

I received an email today from the person responsible for making the payment to me. One of the things he's asking for is a filled-out W9 form for the IRS and I assume I would obviously need to provide my SSN. Maybe this is how it has to be but I'm a little concerned about giving out this information. I did a search for Kapsized, Inc. and all I could come up with is this link to two videos they've produced.

I dunno. It seems legit but it could also be a scam. Thoughts? Please share them here or on Facebook. Thanks!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Art Fairs and Fairways

Tammy and I are making up for lost time as we get out and about together the way we used to. We took in the American Craft Council show at St Paul's RiverCentre on Friday and probably enjoyed the show as much as we ever have in the past. Sometimes it can be a little hit-or-miss for us but not this year. They brought in, as they always do, some talented artists from all across the country to display and sell their work.

No trip into St Paul is complete without a stop at Cossetta's. It's tasty Italian food dished up cafeteria-style. I had a mostaccioli jump off my flimsy plastic fork and splatter the front of my shirt. It required a stop at home for a quick change before continuing on to Canterbury Park in Shakopee to battle the crowds at their craft fair. After just a few minutes we were both questioning why we came. Unlike RiverCentre, there were very few actual artists at Canterbury, just a lot of cheap imported stuff for sale that we had no interest in. We vowed never again! Still, it was nice to be out doing things together and that was really what the day was all about.

It's been four weeks since I walked off the golf course in pain from a dislocated rib and strained intercostal muscles. Today was my first pain-free day since my injury but I'm reluctant to tee it up just yet. I was reading several stories online from others who have suffered this same injury and came back too soon, reinjuring themselves only to have to start the healing process all over again. I prefer not to experience that.

Our weather has been cool and windy so I'm not missing much by being sidelined. My chiropractor suggested hitting some balls with half a swing when I'm feeling ready to see if there's any pain the next day and to keep increasing the amount of swing until I'm back to 100%. I think I'll leave my driver and 3 metal out of my bag for now.

I'm taking advantage of this downtime to make it over to the practice green at Crystal Lake several times each week to work on my short game. This is practice I'm quite sure I wouldn't have taken the time to do had I been healthy so that's my silver lining to all of this. It's beginning to pay off.

Speaking of playing golf—Dave Celski has joined the ranks of the retired! There was a party for him at Carbone's in Lakeville on Saturday afternoon. He said he intends to play a lot of golf at The Wilds this summer. It was a nice gathering of people who made it to his party.

I spent part of my weekend watching all four rounds of The Masters golf tournament. I used to say that if I could only watch one program each year on TV, I would choose Sunday afternoon's coverage of that tournament. I put my clubs away in 1997 when I was going through my divorce because I'd lost my focus on the course and I really couldn't afford to play; I gave up watching the game on TV as well. But I'm back! I've managed to catch final round tournament coverage of each of the past few weeks and that makes me happy.

But what a loss for Jordan Spieth yesterday, blowing a 5 stroke lead on the back 9. I haven't seen a collapse of that magnitude since Greg Norman's epic collapse 20 years earlier on the same course. I enjoy watching Jordan play and hope this loss won't negatively impact his game although how could it not to some degree?

I've put my Sarma Shaman on a bit of a diet for the summer. It's shed an inch around its tires. I've gone from 4" 45 NRTH Dillingers to 3" Maxxis Chronicles on 52 mm Stan's tubeless rims to make it a little easier to do some longer distances on it. I took my new wheels out for a ride yesterday and I could tell that I'm a little more nimble on the trails with it. My legs were tired after 54 miles but that's to be expected. I'd like an even narrower tire but I'm not sure the extra speed it would give me on the trails is a good thing. I think I've found a happy compromise with this new setup.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Dave and Joe

I received a Facebook friend request recently from Noy, my former wife from another lifetime. I accepted her request with hopes of finding her sons, David and Joe among her contacts. I didn't stay in touch with Dave and Joe after Noy and I divorced in March of '98 and I wish we had but I wasn't going to intrude in their lives, plus, I figure that in this digital age they know how to easily find me if they ever want to, and I hope they do.

I looked through Noy's collection of photos and found recent photos of them both that she had uploaded but I found no links to Facebook pages of their own. Still, it was nice to see them again. I believe Dave is still single and Joe is married with two boys and a girl living in Pittsburg, Ca, just east of San Francisco.

Dave will be 45 in September and Joe will be 40 in June. I still think of them often but especially on their birthdays.

I used to be self-conscious about being a dad to boys who weren't all that much younger than me. Dave is only 14 years my junior, the same age difference between my oldest and youngest brothers. I was a good dad to them but I was also too hard on them at times and I'd love to be able to take all those moments back. I do remember feeling a lot of the time that I was in a thankless position and not appreciated for the sacrifices I was making for them but it wasn't their fault.

I was with Dave when I got the news that my dad had died in September 1995. He was in town after having been discharged from the Navy and we had just returned from golfing at Hyland Hills in Bloomington. We attended my dad's funeral together in Michigan's Upper Peninsula before he left for California. That was the last I saw of him. I last saw Joe ten years ago in May of 2006 when he came into town to move his mother to California to be near him.

There's a lot I could write about from our days together but I've never gone there in my blog. I suppose that on some level I've taken those memories, boxed them up and stored them away in a closet in my mind. We did share many good times but we also had our share of strife. We've all moved on but perhaps someday I'll find a way to work in some of my memories with them into these pages. I would like that.

I've found a nice rhythm to my workout routine the past few months. One of the things I used to dream of when I was employed was of the day when I'd be retired and much more able to find time for my workouts without being so rushed to make it happen. I'm doing that now in ways I was never able to before. It's nice. Tammy has embraced this new lifestyle as well. She joined Lifetime Fitness last November and loves the various classes she takes there in the evening, and it shows! I'm happy for her.

I finished work on my most recent stained glass panel a couple nights ago and I've put my glass tools away until next winter. The piece (photo to the left) measures 4.5" x 8". It's small but I love the challenge its size presents. I've had a good run the past few months as I was regularly going down into the shop for a few hours at a time, cutting and fitting some pieces together while letting my mind wander.

Here's a link to projects I've done this winter.

I've already got ideas for some designs I'd like to play around with next winter—possibly some intricate landscape or floral scenes of about the same size as these smaller panels I've been working with. I can't think of anyone who works with pieces this tiny so perhaps that will be the niche that can set me apart.

I do have one other project I'd like to begin before the pull of warmer weather is simply too strong for my desire to do indoor stuff and that's a model car I purchased one year ago but never got around to sizing up. I hope to begin work on it tonight.

I've gotta run. We're taking a class at Gertens Greenhouse this afternoon about getting a jump on flower planting season with our own flower starts inside. Tammy's idea!