Saturday, December 29, 2018

Life Phases and a New Hobby?

Over the past several months I've become somewhat preoccupied with thoughts of how fast my life is passing by. It's kind of disturbing. Weeks, months, and years fly by like I'm in some sort of time warp. I think in terms now of how many more years of mobility I have left to live the active lifestyle I enjoy. It's not something I take for granted. Do I have 15 more years? 20? Maybe 25, tops? All I know for certain is that whatever amount of time remains in this active phase of my life, it's going to pass much too quickly. Now, more than ever, I have a difficult time sitting still for very long and watching my remaining time here slip away at a pace that saddens me. I've got at least a dozen books I'd like to read but I tell myself there will be plenty of time for reading in my next phase of life. It's come to that.

We've been enjoying a mild winter in the Minneapolis area. I'm not complaining but I wouldn't mind some snow and cooler temps to make for decent trail riding. The temp inside our insulated garage has been hovering at around 40ºf (4.5ºc) on its own with no help needed from our ceiling mounted electric heater -- yet.

We had Drew's (Rachel's boyfriend) family over last Saturday. It was nice to spend some time together, getting to know them more. They're good people. And our downstairs got to see some action for a change. Since Rachel went off to college it's been a little quiet down there with the exception of my time spent there for workouts and stained glass work. We all enjoyed ourselves.

Over the past several years, Tammy and I have made a point of downplaying the Christmas celebration. Where it's most noticeable is in the lack of Christmas decorations both inside and outside our home. It probably takes us no more than a half hour to decorate our small tree and hang a wreath outside on a permanent screw to the right of our front door. No more Department 56 village displays or other touches of Christmas that in years past seemed to become an unwelcome guest after a few weeks. And I no longer do an outside light display. I missed it the first year without it but I quickly got over it when I realized how much work I was putting into setting up the display and taking it down.

Tammy and I did exchange a few gifts. The gift from her that I like most is my Northern Brewer Hard Cider making kit. It was a total surprise. I spent some time Thursday going over the information and getting it up and running. I'm intrigued by it and the idea of experimenting with different blends of fruits to create different flavors of cider. I've got it set up in a closet in our den. It appears to be fully engaged in the fermentation process. Tammy ordered the kit online but didn't notice that the company is located in St Paul, less than a 25-minute drive from home. We stopped in there yesterday to check out what else they have. It's an impressive little shop. I'm quite sure we'll be back.

I remember how my mom used to make balloon wine in the late '60s. She would set her gallon jug(s) out of the way in the basement with whatever ingredients she was using to make the wine. She would place a balloon over the jug's opening and once the balloon had inflated and then deflated through the fermentation process, the wine was ready to drink. I have no idea how palatable it was but I think she mostly enjoyed the anticipation of what her efforts may produce. Sorta like how I feel about making my hard-cider. I haven't enjoyed a Christmas gift this much since Rachel bought me an ant farm several years ago!

That's all I've got.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Finding My Etsy Stride and a New Addition Coming Soon

If this mild weather continues, we may be back to a snowless landscape by the end of the week. I prefer the look of snow rather than the browns of the alternative during the winter months but I'm content either way. Not having to muck out the garage floor from the snow melting off our vehicles is a bonus.

I took advantage of today's warm temps (40º f / 4.4º c) to put on my walking shoes and do my Orchard Lake loop. It's an 8.7 mile loop that I do in around 2 hours -- a little longer if I'm stopping to take photos. It felt nice to have the sun on my face. I saw this little guy working his way across the sidewalk and it had me wondering, what do caterpillars do during the harsh winter months? I looked online and came up with this: "They find a protected place to rest and enter a type of hibernation called diapause, where their body functions decrease and their growth pauses until they wake. Many wrap themselves in leaves or other organic matter, holding it in place with silk for extra protection." That's about what I figured. The little fella was out for a stroll on a beautiful afternoon, just like me.

I've been selling my stained glass artwork on Etsy for a little over a year. I was telling Tammy when I started out that I wasn't going to be discouraged if it seemed I wasn't finding an audience for my art right away and that I'd give it at least a year. So, here I am, one year later -- how am I doing? I've found homes for 21 of my smaller panels and for 1 of my larger panels. I'd say it's been a success. I'll keep at it with hopes that I'll have even more sales in the coming year, but honestly, I just love engaging the creative side of me. It's a bonus that others like my work enough to purchase it. I've got a package by our front door heading out to Broadalbin, NY tomorrow containing the piece in the photo to the left. I do my best to get orders out in the mail the same day I receive them.

Rachel and Drew took us to see a Minnesota Wild game Thursday night. I used to love to follow hockey when I was young but that was long ago. I couldn't even tell you any of the Minnesota Wild players names but we enjoyed ourselves. They were scored on in the first minute of play but that was the only goal they would allow. They won 5-1. And the crowd went wild!

It had been more than 25 years since I'd been to an NHL game and that was at the old Met Center when I took my father to see his last game. I didn't realize how poor of health he was in. The walk to our seats took a lot out of him. I recall him having to stop to catch his breath along the way due to his emphysema. My father was from Canada where following hockey was in one's blood. He was on a business trip in the '70s and on his flight was the Minnesota North Stars team. He had a small notebook that he had the players pass around and sign their names in. He gave it to me and I somehow lost it. He asked to see it years later and I couldn't find it for him. I felt bad.

I'll soon have another bike in my stable. I put money down on a gravel bike at Michael's Cycles in Chaska. My choice was a Giant Revolt Advanced Zero. It's a really sweet bike and it checks off all of the boxes I was wanting it to: carbon fiber throughout; disc brakes, and Shimano Ultegra components, all at a very reasonable price. I hope to have it in the next few weeks. If the weather continues to be mild, you can find me on gravel roads within a 50 mile radius of home.

That's all I've got.



Friday, December 7, 2018

A Slowing Toby, Goodbye Aunt Joyce, and a New Family Member

It was two years ago today that Allie left us. That was such a sad time. Toby (Allie's littermate) is coming up on 15 years 4 months. His hearing is mostly gone and his vision is very limited but he seems content. I know his time with us is short. He's reluctant to go walking in the colder temps but when I last had him out about 10 days ago with Charlie, he led us in a run most of the last tenth of a mile home. It's been nearly a year since we've done the Fleet Farm loop (as I refer to it) on our walks and I'm fairly certain he'll never do it again. It was a favorite walk of Toby's because the roads that took us by Fleet Farm added an extra mile to our walk. I always let Toby lead us and I would smile when he'd tug at his leash to take us across Jonquil Trail in the direction of the roads that would take us by Fleet Farm. He knew exactly what he was doing. He would come home, drink his fill from his water bowl then splay out on the wood floor, panting with his tongue hanging out with a smile on his face that left no doubt, he was one very content boy. How I miss those days with him and for him.

We keep a diaper on him now while he's in the house because he's prone to piddling whenever the urge strikes him. Tammy found them online and they work great. We place an absorbent pad inside the diaper wrap and allow him to roam the house as he pleases.

Tammy's aunt Joyce passed away last Saturday. Joyce was a favorite aunt of Tammy's and she would regularly make trips into St Paul to spend time with her. Joyce taught her the art of making lefse and krumkake. The photo to the right is from one year ago. Making lefse was a yearly tradition they would do together going back at least ten years. She would've been 90 on New Years Day. She will be missed.

Tammy and her mother both celebrated birthdays on Wednesday. Elaine turned 93, I think Tammy turned 30-something (insert smiley here). We met Rachel at the nursing home where Elaine is a resident. We visited with her for a while before going out for lunch. Her Alzheimers continues its march forward. I can elicit an occasional smile from her but I can no longer say it's because she recognizes me. She's a favorite among the staff at Trinity Care in Farmington, just a 20 minute drive from our home. We couldn't be happier with the staff there and the care she receives from them. Tammy is there for a couple hours at least 3 to 4 days each week.

Speaking of making lefse -- Tammy has enlisted me to help her in the kitchen when she gears up for the production. It's actually a lot of fun. I mostly just handle the griddle, leaving the more difficult work of rolling out each lefse to her. We agreed that I'd try my hand at the last ball of riced potato to see if I could do it. I did just fine.

We have a new member in our household -- a Roomba! And what fun! Honestly, I could stand and watch the little vacuum do its thing for hours. Think I'm kidding? It's an amazing little bit of technology that I absolutely love.

I made it to the river bottoms for Global Fat Bike Day last Saturday. We had about 30 people in our group. The weather and trail conditions couldn't have been better. Lots of fun as always!

That's all I've got.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Catching Up

My blog has fallen in priority as I've been spending most of my time down in my shop working on stained glass projects. One would think that making an entry in a blog would be a quick 30-minute exercise but it's not. At least not for me -- not usually, anyway. But here I am, determined to make an entry of some sort for future reference.

I began a rather large stained glass project for Bryan and Sue last spring after we'd returned from visiting them in Oregon. They had a decades-old, wood framed stained glass panel hanging in the sidelight of their front entry which has a few cracked pieces of glass. I offered to remake the window, figuring it would be just as easy to simply redo the entire panel rather than repairing it. They told me it wasn't necessary to copy the existing panel and to feel free to do whatever my heart desired for the space. And so I did.

I came up with plans for a 3-part panel but I didn't share the design with them, wanting it to be a surprise. I started work on it back in May but soon shelved it for the warmth of the outdoors and the many distractions that awaited me there -- until a few weeks ago when I was ready to commit to bringing it to life.  I completed the project and entrusted it to Colleen at FedEx in Lakeville to package it and send it safely on its way. And safely arrive it did! A photo from the inside looking out and outside looking in.

Since clearing off my work table I've been busy creating some stained glass sun-catchers for my Etsy site, trying to get my inventory up for people in search of gifts for holiday giving. I was able to knock out 3 of them this past week (here, here, and here) but I sold 5 so I have a net gain of -2 for the week. Tracee was kind enough to account for 3 of the 5 that sold. It's been so nice being down in the shop again. I love the ability to lose myself in a project for hours at a time. I plan to add several sun-catchers to my Etsy site each week in the coming weeks before Christmas.

I had to purchase a new indoor trainer for my bike. Since upgrading my MacBook to the Mojave operating system a couple months ago, my CompuTrainer no longer plays well with Zwift, the online program I ride with. The smooth graphics I was used to seeing had become choppy -- useable but not what I need. The techs at Zwift have tried to find a workaround for me but haven't been able to. They think the problem is with the drivers within my CompuTrainer's program and its interface with Mojave. So, I pulled the trigger on a Wahoo Kickr Core a few weeks ago and have been more than pleased with it.

I've listed my CompuTrainer online to try and find a new home for it but so far I've had no luck. I lowered the price to $190 tonight and would be happy to go even lower if there's anybody interested. FYI- it requires a Windows-based operating system to do the initial calibration each time you ride it. Here's a link (for those on Facebook) where you can see the ad. And here's a link to a video I made about how the CompuTrainer works.

I've been listening to Rachel Maddow's Bag Man podcast. It's fascinating listening and possibly quite relevant to our times. Here's a quick preview with links in the description for where to find the podcast. There are 7 half-hour segments but only 5 of them have been released so far.

Tammy and I changed out the fairy garden scene at Trinity Care Center where her mother is a resident. Tammy is really good about keeping it relevant to the season. I tagged along to help out. Before and after.

Charlie has about the biggest appetite of any living creature I've ever seen. I have to tie him up in the morning when I feed him so he doesn't hurry over after he's finished his bowl of food to help Toby with his. Tying him to the leg of a chair works okay but Tammy came up with something even better. She found a bowl at PetSmart that prevents your pet from being able to devour their food so quickly. It's a hit! And Charlie doesn't seem to mind the extra effort. His feeding time has gone from 3 to 4 minutes to something closer to 10, and Toby gets to eat in peace. Win-win!!

That's all I've got.


Friday, November 9, 2018

Routines Are Good

My day usually begins anywhere from 5:30 to 7:00 when Toby wakes up and lets me know it's time. His most effective method for waking me is a fake sneeze that sounds like the real deal, but I know it's not. We head downstairs and I let the pups out, standing with them in the front yard while they do their business. The occasional coyote or fox are enough of a threat that I don't like to leave them unattended. We go inside and I turn on the gas fireplace in the sunporch to take the chill out of the air so it's toasty warm when Tammy comes down a half hour later. The pups prance at my feet while I fix their main meal of the day.

I reach over and flip on the TV to Morning Joe to get a recap of the previous day's happenings. I like my news shows to offer a variety of opinions from people across the political spectrum, and Morning Joe does that. During commercial breaks, I'll switch to some of the other competing morning shows to see what they're discussing. Two minutes of Fox and Friends is all it takes to confirm that they're still nothing more than hard-right propaganda (not that I was expecting anything less). Their man-in-the-field from somewhere deep in Mexico this morning was reporting that the caravan of asylum seekers working their way toward the U.S. on foot was traveling at the rate of 200 miles (322 km) per day and will be arriving at our southern border in San Diego in one week to ten days. That's impressive! I couldn't do that on my bike, much less walking while carrying a toddler. I think to myself, how dumb do they think their viewers are?

While the pups devour their mix of dry food and refrigerated food, I'll typically have a bowl of cereal or I'll thaw out a frozen breakfast sandwich (90 seconds on level 3 in the microwave followed by 45 seconds on high) and a glass of OJ or milk to wash down my daily dose of meds and vitamins. I almost always wake up with a song on repeat running through my head: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears was today's offering. This has been a favorite of mine for the past 10 days or so since posting this video to my Facebook account.

Routines are good and this is my routine.

Usually, I'll have an idea for how I want to fill my day but not always. I like to get my workout done in the morning but since I have no afternoon shift at work to be mindful of, I'm content to take it slow for the first hour and see which way my day wants to unfold on its own. The past few days I've been good about getting down on my indoor trainer and knocking out my workout along with a few thousand others on Zwift before noon. Yesterday's ride was London's Triple Loops course -- a favorite of mine that starts out flat and fast but makes up for it in the last half with a good amount of climbing.

My OCD is such that I typically need to try and get up every last leaf before the snow begins to fall but I seem to have been caught off guard this year. I was going to vacuum up leaves one last time but a covering of snow has descended on us and unless I can get out there before Tuesday (our last compost pickup of the year), the leaves will remain until spring. The long-range forecast has us well below freezing until the middle of next week so it's not looking good.

I took some time to change the oil in my mowers and give them a bath after I finished mowing/vacuuming last week. That simple act will help to assuage any lingering nags about a leaf-free yard. For those scoring at home, my final tally for the year was 63 bags of leaves!

The midterm elections are over and Democrats made some impressive gains across the country. That's a good thing but it's not enough, not when I ponder the fact that there's still half of the country out there that supports this most corrupt administration and is content to put party over country. But the winds are changing and what has been a strong headwind has undeniably diminished some.

Tammy and I attended a protest at the Capitol in St. Paul last night with several hundred others who showed up in a light snow to protest Trump's* firing of Jeff Sessions and the (likely illegal) appointment of Matt Whitaker to take his place and oversee Mueller's investigation. It's estimated that there were 900 such demonstrations across the country last night by people who truly care about our democracy.

That would be us.

Time to get on with my daily routine and see what course I'll be riding on Zwift.

That's all I've got.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

My Faith Walk, or Stumble

Today would've been Mom's 90th birthday. She died a few years ago, just shy of her 87th birthday, and on the same day that I retired -- 9/3/15. For years, she was so certain that each birthday, Christmas or Mother's Day, etc. would be her last. I would try and assure her that she still had many years left to live but of course she'd eventually be right.

She never found love again after my father died in 1995. I asked her about it once and I got the feeling that she felt a sense of loyalty to him and didn't want to betray their bond. She was only 66 and would live another 20 years, alone. I never mentioned it again to her. Here's thinking of you, Mom.

I think I may be done with organized religion. I won't speak for Tammy. We joined a church in Lakeville two years ago but I've lost my desire to continue on as I question more than ever the faith I've been practicing ever since I can remember. I'm a spiritual person who believes in a higher power and some sort of life after this one but I no longer have any certainty about what that looks like. The idea of sitting around singing praises to God for eternity doesn't appeal to me in the least. It just doesn't. I have no real desire to read through the Bible again because I find it kind of pointless. Each time I slog through it I come away with more questions than answers. And I no longer believe in biblical inerrancy; the belief that every passage within it is the inspired word of God.

I suppose more than anything I'm a casualty of conservative Christians who have opened my eyes to the understanding that if they/man can twist the Bible's meaning and make a mockery of Christianity to fit an agenda (See how they ignore Matthew 25: 35-40 or how they embrace a gun culture or their hurriedness to rush off to war, and yes, their enthusiastic support for Trump*.), how am I to believe that man hasn't so thoroughly corrupted the faith since its inception, rendering it something quite removed from what God intended? (I mention this mostly for my own record, as I have before, for when I maybe look back through my words here years from now to see how my thinking has evolved.)

It's been years since we've carved pumpkins for Halloween but we sorta got into it again this year. Tammy suggested we pick up a few and get creative. It was fun. I only carved one, a sea turtle, but Tammy did several: here, here, and here. We need some better carving tools, though. Perhaps we'll invest in some for next year.

There were no Halloween parties for us. We're content to live our lives vicariously through Rachel and Drew. They went as Joanna and Chip Gaines, from the show Fixer Upper. Rachel only needed to remove her glasses to play the part while Drew simply had to procure a tool belt.

The little trick-or-treaters couldn't have asked for better weather with very mild temps for this time of year, yet we only had 31 come to our door. We were prepared for so many more. Toward the end of the night, we were encouraging kids to grab as much as they could with one hand. "Seriously?!" Tammy brought our leftover candy to the nursing home where her mother lives for the staff to enjoy.

I may have golfed my last round of the year. Mark and I met Lyle and Chuck in Winona at The Bridges on a beautiful day for late autumn golf this week. I'm keeping an eye on Monday's weather. There's a chance I'll get out then if the forecast rain isn't too much, otherwise, I'm content to get back on my bikes and take it to the streets and the trails, or the basement.

That's all I've got.



Monday, October 22, 2018

Leaf Me Alone Already! Please! I'm Done With You! (Almost)


In keeping with my strange obsession with tracking meaningless stuff, I'm up to 50 bags of leaves this year. That's important to know because once I get to 59 (the most I've ever filled), I'm pretty much home free when it comes to yard work, and I could use a break. I typically mow/vacuum up leaves once, maybe twice a week but I was out there 5 times in the last 7 days! I've never done that. It gets a bit overwhelming if I wait too long so I sorta like this new approach.

With the exception of some major trimming of trees in our yard, I've done all of the landscaping work myself over the years, until now. I hired a guy to remove 3 Japanese Yews in front of our home rather than do the work myself. They'd become overgrown from 26 years of growth in spite of my best efforts to keep them trimmed. I was reading online where they're a real pain to remove and I just didn't want the hassle, not with all of the other yard work and such that I was doing. As it turned out, I think it would've been a fairly simple job for me but I'm just happy to have it done and I like the new look, which looks a lot like the old look from the summer of '92.

The yews were home to wildlife, mostly rabbits and some birds that liked to take shelter among them but I suspect we may have had a fox bedding down in them at times. This cat's collar appeared once the shrubs were removed, suggesting that someone's pet may have met its demise there. The address on the collar is from just a few blocks away and I have no intention of telling the homeowner of my find. That's why I always stand outside with our pups when I let them out.

Since the beginning of the month, I've been giving Toby a daily dose of glucosamine/chondroitin to help with arthritis which is most noticeable in his rear legs, especially when he runs. It seems to be helping. If only there was help for his vision and his hearing which are both significantly diminished at 15 years, 2 months. We've also started using a diaper on Toby while he's indoors. He's been piddling in the house lately and this has been a big help. The diaper is restrictive and causes him to wait until we take it off and let him outside but it's there in case it's needed.

I made it out to The Bridges Golf Course in Winona last week. Tammy was going to come with me and bum around the city but she took a pass so I went by myself. I was so impressed with the course. It's a 4-hour round-trip but I enjoyed the drive. I caught up with a threesome and they offered to let me play through or join them. I was happy to have their company and the course knowledge they no doubt had to offer so I joined them. The course is very hilly and offers some beautiful views, especially this time of year with the fall colors, although they're past their peak now. I didn't score well but it was the most fun I'd had golfing all year.

Scott came into town a few days ago from the east coast. Lyle met us out at Crystal Lake this morning for a round of golf. Our tee time was pushed back just a bit while we waited for the frost to dissipate. It was a tad cool but it warmed nicely by the time we finished the front 9.

Scott, Lyle and I go back more than 36 years to when we hired on within a few months of each other with the FAA and worked together at Minneapolis Center. It was nice to do some catching up.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Aussie Floyd Concert and Uncanny Synchronicity

The plan was to spend the day in the yard but a steady snowfall through the morning and into the afternoon kept me indoors. I was in need of a lazy day so I was happy to comply.

Tammy and I went to see Aussie Pink Floyd at The State Theater in Minneapolis Friday night. They're an Australian band who play Pink Floyd covers. Pink Floyd has been a favorite for as long as I can remember and their lead guitarist, David Gilmour, is one of the coolest guys in rock 'n roll.

I wasn't sure what to expect when we sat in our seats. The guy next to me said he'd seen them before and that we should expect an awesome show. He wasn't fooling. He also said the band has been performing together for about 30 years and that they were actually hired by David Gilmour to play at his 50th birthday celebration.

What a fun night! Here are some snippets of video I took of a few of the songs they played. There was so much more.



As we were leaving the theater we were greeted by some buskers drumming for dollars on the sidewalk. Impressive!



Speaking of Pink Floyd -- if you've never seen the synchronicity between Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album and the first 43 minutes of The Wizard of Oz, you're in for a treat; at least I think so. I first learned of it from an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1999. How someone stumbled onto this I have no idea but they did and it's the coolest thing. I should mention that all of the band members, including Alan Parsons who produced The Dark Side of the Moon, deny that there was any attempt by them to intentionally sync up parts of their album with the film.

The album is around 43 minutes long but the person who uploaded the video (embedded below) lets the movie continue while the album repeats. There are some coincidences there, too, but they don't work for me nearly as well as just one run of the album.

See for yourself. I've listed several of the more notable coincidences below.

4:00: “balanced on the biggest wave, you race towards an early grave.” Dorothy balances on the fence railing before falling in time with “an early grave”. Notice the abrupt change in the tempo of the music as Zeke rushes to help Dorothy before experiencing his own distress.

8:00: The song "Time" begins with its alarm bells as Miss Gulch pedals into the scene.

8:45: Notice how well the drums and other instruments fit with the back and forth dialogue playing out between Dorothy, Auntie Em, and Uncle Henry.

11:20: As the song “Time” continues, the camera fixes on the advertising on Professor Marvel’s wagon which advertises psychic readings, “Past - Present and Future”

13:55: Professor Marvel gazes into his crystal ball while he describes images of Dorothy’s home and those waiting for her there as the song "Home" is sung.

14:50: The scene changes as the song "The Great Gig in the Sky" begins. Notice the tornado in the distance.

15:55: The vocals fit perfectly with the growing urgency of the scene.

17:05: The vocals reach a climax as the window behind Dorothy breaks, leaving her unconscious. The vocals and piano continue to provide the perfect musical backdrop for the scene as Dorothy drifts off into the Land of Oz.

19:30: This is where the film changes over from sepia to color. Notice the song "Money" begins right on cue with its cash register sound as Dorothy opens the door to Munchkin Land with the Yellow Brick Road all of the richness there.

27:35: The ballerinas appear as if on cue as the vocals in the song "Us and Them" begin.

29:10: The Wicked Witch arrives in a cloud of smoke just as the word “black” is sung.

29:28: “And who knows which is which and who is who” as the camera pans between the dead witch under the house, the Wicked Witch and Glinda, the good witch.

32:28: Glinda leaves the scene in her orb of light as the words “out … out … out” are sung.

37:20: The song "Brain Damage" begins as Dorothy is talking with the Scarecrow (who lacks a brain) while the lyrics, “The lunatic is on the grass/Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs/Got to keep the loonies on the path” are being sung.

42:35: The song "Eclipse" (the final track on the album) fades out with the sound of a heartbeat as Dorothy and the Scarecrow come upon the Tin Man who tells them he doesn’t have a heart.



That's all I've got.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Reconnecting After 50+ Years, Knock Knock, and Day-Tripping

It's dusk as I sit down to write this, and it's usually around this time that I can look out at our hummingbird feeders and see at least one little flyer feeding at them before darting for the safety of the dense foliage between the neighboring homes. But not tonight. It appears they've all made the trip south. The last sighting I had of one was last Saturday morning. Safe travels, my little friends!

My niece, Erin, and her daughter Anja went to see an astronomy/stargazing class last week put on by Mike Lynch, a meteorologist for WCCO radio. It's something I've been meaning to do for the longest time but hadn't -- until last Thursday night. (Thanks, Erin, for the prompt.)

Our family lived two doors down from Mike and his family in 1965 when I was 8 years old. I'd long since lost touch with Mike, Don, and Steve so it was nice to arrive a little early before Mike's presentation to talk with him. Through Mike, I was able to reconnect with Don. Don and I chatted online a few nights ago and he surprised me by saying he has photos of the airplane we built as kids (story in the link above). I would love to see them! I mentioned that it would be nice if the 4 of us could get together again for lunch and some reminiscing. He agreed. He also said he'd try and locate the airplane photos for me and send me some scans. I can't wait!

Mike is passionate about astronomy and his passion is contagious. It was a cloudy night so I knew there wouldn't be much to see but I figured he had a 'cloudy sky' presentation which would also be worthwhile. He did, and it was. Did you know that the Big Dipper isn't actually a constellation? It's actually just a smaller part of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear.  I plan to attend another of Mike's stargazing sessions in the next few weeks when the skies are clear.

Fall clean-up in our yard has begun. I took out most of the plants from our gardens and also cut back the perennials from 5 of our 6 rock islands. A Before and after example. It's nice to have made a sizeable dent in the job.

I was out Saturday morning and afternoon knocking on doors for Congressional District 2 candidate Angie Craig. I was assigned 33 doors to call on in a neighborhood in the city of Savage. It's targeted door-knocking so volunteers aren't wasting time with people who have shown little to no interest in supporting Democratic candidates, but rather, those who maybe lean Democrat but don't necessarily show up to vote. You've probably noticed strange faces walking through your neighborhood with a binder in one hand and a smart-phone in the other. There's an app we use that shows us some cursory information about the people whose door we're about to knock on. We're also gathering information while we're out there for input into the app for other volunteers in the campaign to process. Did I mention that it wasn't all that many years ago when I was voting a straight Republican ticket? To my fellow conservatives stuck in the bubble -- take a look around. You owe it to yourself and the rest of us trying to right this country of ours.

I only had one unfriendly door in all of those 33 doors. A woman on the other side, her voice shaking with emotion, yelled at me to immediately leave or she'd call the police. "You're poison!" she said. I never let the smile leave my face. I wished her a good day and was on my way. I actually felt bad for her. As I walked toward the next house on my list I wondered if I'd maybe just pulled her away from some Fox programming, and that upset her. "Programming" seems such an appropriate word.

Tammy and I took a drive along the Minnesota River towards Winona yesterday to check out the autumn colors. We didn't see much in the way of fall color but it was still a pretty drive. We stopped for lunch at The Grill at Signatures which is located at The Bridges Golf Course in Winona. I couldn't help but notice the attention to detail of the flowers and shrubbery around the grounds. I wondered if that carried over to the course itself. The golf course looked really nice and I could swear it was calling to me. I went online to see if it was part of the PCC golf program that I'm a member of and sure enough, it is! I'm going to have to try and make my way back there in the next couple weeks. Tammy talked about coming with me and visiting the shops in the city while I'm golfing. We've got a date!

That's all I've got.

Monday, October 1, 2018

I Believe Her, Moving On and Charlie Turns 10!

I was sitting with the pups and my laptop this morning in our sunporch when something in my periphery caught my attention. I hadn't seen a hummingbird at our feeders in more than two days so I assumed they'd all begun their 2-week trip south to more hospitable weather. I was wrong. It's October 1st and we've still got at least one hearty soul staying put. I quickly changed out the nectar in their feeders for one last time. I think.

Tammy and I spent all of Thursday watching the testimony of Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She claims he sexually assaulted her 36 years ago and that her claim needs to be heard before he's granted a lifetime appointment to our nation's highest court. It was riveting television but it was also exhausting. I was left with a helpless feeling that Kavanaugh's confirmation is pretty much a sure thing. Democrats simply don't have the votes to stop it, and it's doubtful that the limited FBI investigation that's been allowed to proceed through Friday will yield much. If Kavanaugh could sit up there in front of the country and repeatedly lie about his college days and his actions then, it's no stretch to believe that his good friend and alleged accomplice Mark Judge will follow his lead and do the same during his questioning by the FBI.

I have no doubt that Dr. Ford was truthful in every aspect of her testimony. There was nothing in her demeanor that left me uncertain and nothing in her words that caused me to question her motives. The same can't be said for Judge Kavanaugh. Had Dr. Ford acted the way he did, Republicans would be gloating about what a crackpot she was, dismissing her testimony. Yet, they rally behind this man who displayed a total lack of temperament for the position he seeks while lying repeatedly during his testimony. Remember: One of them asked for an FBI investigation. One did not. One of them took and passed a polygraph test. One did not. Strip away all of the emotion and focus on that.

Too funny!

Tammy and I went to Rochester Friday night to watch Rachel's boyfriend's band play a gig at a local bar. Drew plays rhythm guitar for Francis Jennings and the Seisable Johnsons. They've had a number of shows now but this was only the 2nd one we could attend. I recorded the night for them. My favorite song of theirs is embedded below. It's not often I'll hear a song and instantly like it; "Moving On" is one of those. Clay, their lead guitarist wrote it and sings it.

I had Toby on his longest walk in months (probably since last spring, or maybe even last fall) today with Charlie. We walked 1.4 miles (2.25 km) and he did really well in the cooler air. He was even running in the final quarter mile! He hasn't been at all interested in walking lately so I was happy he joined us and did so well.

And this guy turned 10 years old yesterday! Happy birthday, Charlie!

Speaking of birthdays -- I received a late birthday gift in the mail today from Tammy, and it's perfect!

That's all I've got.








Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Stormy Weather and a Giant Revolt

It's the 25th of September and we still have hummingbirds at our feeders. I think they're juvenile offspring from the adults that returned in early May. I've read where the adults fly south in early September while the juveniles will stay around a little longer. I usually use a mixture of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water in our feeders but as of a few weeks ago (based on a recommendation I read online) I've been adding just a touch more sugar as a high octane mixture to fuel their flight south. Each day they remain seems like a bonus day especially considering how much cooler our nights have become in the past week since a cold front and an associated line of severe weather came through, leaving in its wake a lot of storm damage a half hour south of us.

The squall line spawned several tornados in addition to straight-line winds ahead of it and wreaked havoc on Northfield and nearby communities. Keith and Tracee lost several trees while many other trees on their property sustained considerable damage. They were really fortunate though because it could've been so much worse for them. Their home was spared any damage. Many others couldn't say the same. Here's a photo I took of a farm less than a half mile north of their home.

I've found my next bike. Tammy and I were bumming around the city of Chaska a couple weeks ago and happened to park on the street in front of the new location of Michael's Cycles. How convenient, I thought. I made a quick stop inside to check their inventory of gravel bikes. (I've been lusting after a gravel bike since last spring.) They didn't have many in stock but Austin was happy to show me what options they had available to them online. One bike in particular really stood out for me. It had the component group I'm desiring and it filled every other square I had on my list of must-haves. It's a Giant Revolt Advanced O, and the charcoal color also works really well for me, especially when it's covered with a layer of gravel road dust! The bike won't be available until mid-December but I'm in no hurry. I've always lived my life with the thought that good things in life are worth waiting for.

Here's a review of the bike.

We spent Sunday at the Renaissance Festival. We weren't there 30 minutes before I had a run-in with a knee-high trash can, leaving a nasty mark on my shin.  We'd just finished watching this attraction and I was looking back over my shoulder as we walked away. The shortish trash can was out in the open but because I wasn't watching where I was walking, I hit the lip of it hard with my left shin, infecting the wound it made with an assortment of nasty germs. Within a matter of seconds, someone on staff was tending to my bloody gash with a first-aid kit while they summoned a human-powered taxi to take us to their main first-aid station where they did a more thorough job of cleaning and dressing my owie. I'm on blood thinners so I tend to bleed quite a lot before it eventually stops. We were back out among the masses in a matter of minutes.

It's been 8 days since I've been on any of my bikes but I'm not suffering any withdrawal. My golf clubs are taking up the slack. The ride below was the last time I was on my bike. I did a longish (for my fat-bike) loop down to the river bottoms and back. What began as a beautiful sunny morning turned nasty by the time I exited the trails. I worked as hard as I could in the last hour of my ride to stay ahead of the storm. Fun stuff!

That's all I've got.



Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ride Speak and I Love Hue

I'm sitting on the deck overlooking our backyard, enjoying the cooler temps and lack of bugs while Mandolin Orange provides background music. Charlie is keeping me company. I'm not sure it gets any nicer for deck sitting than this. To be inside right now wouldn't seem right. I don't do this enough.

I have a love-hate relationship with autumn. I love the cooler weather and the beauty of the changing leaves but I get more than a little tired of the ongoing task of bagging up the fallen leaves. The season won't be over until I've filled 60 compost bags (in addition to what gets taken away in both of our yard waste receptacles). Yes, I actually track this meaningless stuff. Our leaves are still green for now but not for long.

I thought I was maybe done with longish rides for the year after the Dawn to Dusk ride a little more than a week ago, but I was wrong. I decided to ride the Jesse James 💯 in Northfield last Saturday. What a fun ride! My plan was to accompany some friends on the ride at a more leisurely pace than I typically ride at but our little-peloton-that-could sorta fell apart after 20-some miles. I latched on to a fairly fast group as they passed us and hoped my legs wouldn't show any signs of tiredness from the D to D ride one week earlier. They were more than fine. I'll be adding this to my list of rides for next year.

It's time to give the nod to my fat-bike. It's been patiently waiting for me to get my fill of road riding for the past two months while it's sat mostly idle. I do see more trail riding in my future but I'm not so sure I'm done with longish road rides this year as I'd thought. What better way to see the fall colors than from my bike, either on the road or from the trails -- or from a camera on a drone. I still have that on my wish-list.

Rachel and I have begun a bit of a tradition. Last Sunday we rode in the St Paul Classic Bicycle Tour with 5500 others, making this the 2nd year in a row we've ridden the ride together. The cool, crisp air felt nice at our 7:30 start. We took in the entertainment while waiting to rendezvous with my friend Reid and his bride Danielle at the first rest stop. It was nice to finally meet Danielle and to catch up with Reid. We used to ride the trails together a few times a year but it's been a while. We were overdue for a ride and a chat.

On the way home, we decided to make a stop for some fast-food. The new Chipotle restaurant in Lakeville had just opened its doors for the first time within the hour so we decided to throw caution to the wind and fight whatever crowds were awaiting us. But there was really no line to speak of. Former Mayor Matt Little (who, if I'm not mistaken, helped lead the effort to get our city a Chipotle restaurant) was there with his wife, and by the looks of it may have been their 1st customer.

I Love Hue -- Check it out.

That's all I've got.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dawn to Dusk 2018 With Silver Cyclists

I've had a fascination with endurance sports for at least the last 30 years. I used to love to watch ABC's Race Across America coverage back in the '80s, making sure my VCR was set well in advance to record it. I'd sit in front of my TV and marvel at the determination of the competitors. Sure, it was as much an act of sleep deprivation on wheels as it was a race but it captured my imagination, and I admired those who put themselves in the arena to compete. The annual Ironman Triathlon coverage in Hawaii was another favorite of mine to watch. I, on the other hand, would have to be content in my personal life to make do with an occasional marathon and longish efforts on my bike.

Over the past few years, I've moved away from the long rides I once loved, leaving me to wonder if I'd ever find the zest for them again. Walking 18 holes of golf was fun but hardly a replacement for the endurance athlete within me and neither were the hours spent on my fat-bike. I seemed to be okay with the less ambitious me.

But I wasn't.

I still had a desire to go out and do long distances and train for longer rides but I convinced myself that distracted drivers had taken the fun and safety out of it. Distracted drivers are a real problem for cyclists and they will always be of concern for me but do I want to allow them to prevent me from doing this thing I love?

I got a group email invite from a friend in early July looking for anybody interested in a longish ride the next day. I hadn't ridden with Steve in a while and I had no other plans so I told him I'd be there. The ride took us on some roads south of Webster that I'd never ridden -- roads that are the kind I expect to be waiting for me in heaven. Roads that are winding, twisting and hilly with very little traffic. It was out there riding with 7 others that day that I rediscovered my love for road riding. Steve suggested I consider riding with his group in their annual Dawn to Dusk ride, a 207 mile (333 km) ride in early September. It had been seven years since I'd last completed a double-century and to be honest, there were times when I figured those days were behind me. But he had the wheels inside my head turning as fast as those under me at the thought of training for and completing another ride of that length. Before I could talk myself out of it, I told him "I'm in!"

I finished the ride with Steve and the others that July day with a rejuvenated desire to ride. I felt like I'd been saved!

I went back to those same roads two days later and did the ride again. Within two weeks I rode up to Taylors Falls and back (157 miles/253 km), sealing the deal. I was back! Over the next month I'd complete several rides of even longer distance as I prepared for Dawn to Dusk 2018. The last thing I wanted to do was to show up unprepared for whatever effort the group had in mind.

Which brings me to last Saturday: Dawn to Dusk 2018 with Silver Cyclists

I got an early start, waking up 15 minutes before my 4:15 alarm, thankful that I was able to fall asleep within a few minutes of my head making contact with my pillow. I was fueled and on the road by 5:25 as I made my way to rendezvous with the other riders 20 minutes away, allowing time to fix a flat should I have such crummy luck. I didn't.

There's always some nervous anticipation for me before the start of something such as this, but I was feeling confident. My knees felt fine and I knew I'd done my homework. My only real concern was once we were several hours into the ride, that our collective tiredness would give way to inattentiveness, leading to a crash within the group. Thankfully, that was never an issue. Everyone in the group was a capable rider who came prepared.

And what a blast we had!

We rolled out of Eastview Elementary parking lot at 6:00, just as we'd planned. We'd need every minute of daylight and more to do this distance this late in the year with the sun rising later and setting considerably earlier than it was just a few weeks ago.

A group of riders in Northfield was waiting for us to arrive in town so they could lead us out to a point an hour south of the city. I would guess they were 12 to 15 strong. I thought that was a very cool gesture on their part.

The forecast had us expecting sunny skies with a light northwest wind but that wasn't what we were experiencing out on the road. An overcast sky grew darker the further south we rode until a steady drizzle developed, eventually turning to a light rain. The rain abated after an hour and left us with clouds to shield us from the sun. I heard no complaints from the group.

We had several stops planned along the way with Shad's parents working as our support crew, driving ahead of us after each stop to set up shop at a predetermined rest stop ahead. We'd arrive and they would be there with coolers full of drinks and food to refuel us. It was a treat to have them working behind the scenes on our behalf. They were such a valued part of our day and we made sure that they knew we very much appreciated their efforts.

Two in our group of 15 were only going halfway and were being met by their wives at our lunch stop in Wabasha leaving 13 of us to complete the ride.

The sun finally made an appearance as we wheeled out of Wabasha and crossed into Wisconsin. The road became a little sketchy for a stretch near Lake Pepin where Brian picked up our only flat of the ride; a small leak that he could never find the source of. We were back on the road in a matter of minutes.

Our final rest stop came in Cannon Falls where Shad's parents met us with a large tray of fried chicken. Oh man! It was the best chicken ever and I was in need of the nourishment it provided.

Refueled and on our way, I started doing the math and figured we'd probably finish in the dark. But not to worry -- we made good time on the final leg and arrived less than 10 minutes after sunset. This was truly a dawn to dusk ride, and then some!

Here's a map of our route.

We quickly took a group photo with what remaining daylight there was (it was considerably darker than the photo suggests) before opening one final cooler for a beer to toast our achievement. I headed out afterward and arrived home aided by my light, feeling so good about having done what I needed to do to be a part of this day and looking forward to next year's ride.

I'm in!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Rested and Ready, I Hope

Tammy took me out to see our first game at Target Field for my birthday last Saturday night. Neither of us follows baseball and I could only name one player on the Twins but we were there for the experience more than anything. The Twins lost but that didn't matter. We enjoyed ourselves and both commented that we'd like to do it again. We even drank beer and munched on salted peanuts the way real fans do.

I golfed in the annual retirees Red Eye Memorial golf tournament Tuesday. There were off and on rain showers the first 2 hours of the tournament but the rain let up by the time we made the turn. It's always a fun time, especially the gathering at a local pub in town where we get a chance to catch up with one another afterward. There were two older men in our foursome, Archie and Roger, age 84 and 87 respectively, and I was so impressed by them. I would not have guessed their ages based on their golf swings. They both said that staying active is the key. They didn't have to convince me of that. I have a difficult time sitting still for very long.

I took all of last week off my bike. I've been riding quite a bit more than usual the past 5 weeks in preparation for tomorrow's annual Dawn to Dusk ride put on by the Silver Cyclists group out of Lakeville, and it finally caught up with me. I did a 110 mile (177 km) ride two weeks ago this Sunday and although I felt fine on the ride, the next day it hit me hard that I needed a rest. I spent the next several days in such a tired state that I couldn't even consider riding. My resting heart rate was about 12 beats higher than its normal 38 - 41 beats per minute. That's a sure sign that my body needed a rest. I sprinkled in some walks over the next 10 days but that was all.

I went out with Rob and Steve Wednesday morning for a few hours of easy spinning. I'm good-to-go for tomorrow's big ride and my bike is ready. I'll be leaving from home in the dark around 5:30 to rendezvous with a group of about a dozen others. We plan to roll out at 6:00, a few minutes before sunrise and return around the time it finishes its arc across the sky. We'll hook up with a group of about 30 riders in Northfield and they'll lead us out to a point about 20 miles south of the city. We'll take it from there. I'm quite sure it'll be dark by the time I get home after a celebratory beer with the finishers. I've added a headlight to my bike.

For anybody interested, I'll put a link to my Strava beacon on Facebook that will show our progress throughout the day. I believe it updates every 30 seconds. Here's a link to our intended route. The weather forecast couldn't be better with a temp in the low 80s (27ºc) and light northwest winds.

Our hummingbird feeders have been getting lots of use lately by a pair of hummingbirds that I'm quite certain are the same pair that returns each year. They're especially active now as they work to store up as much fuel as possible for their long journey south to warmer climes -- a journey that takes a couple weeks. I expect they'll begin that journey in the next few days.

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Toby is 15 and Too Much of a Good Thing

I'm sitting out on the deck with the pups, listening to Augustana while a hummingbird chirps its dissatisfaction at my presence. The cool evening air feels nice. If I never see another 90º day again in my life that's fine with me.

Our city, Lakeville, has contracted with a company to get its residents a discounted price on the preventative treatment of our ash trees for the Emerald Ash Borer. It's a daunting little bug that will destroy any ash trees in its path if the trees aren't treated with a chemical. We had 2 of our 3 ash trees treated last week at a cost of around $120 each for a 2-year application. Because it stands on the boulevard, the remaining tree will hopefully be treated by the city next spring, or so they say.

I'm a little late to the party but I finally signed up for Nextdoor, the neighborhood social media site where people can post about events in their neighborhood; lost animals; items for sale; reckless drivers, and whatnot. I'm not sure how much I'll use it but in less than an hour after signing up I was able to find a new owner for a fertilizer spreader I no longer needed. I was surprised to see how many of my neighbors had already signed up; I would estimate around half. 

Toby turned 15 a few days ago but he didn't feel much like celebrating. We'd had him in to see the vet a couple days earlier and he's still not fully recovered. This is such a difficult phase in his life and I feel so bad for him. He can only hear loud clapping noises, and his vision is limited due to cataracts. He shows little interest in walks anymore, and up until a few months ago, he used to love them. I was able to get him out for a little less than half a mile yesterday and he surprised me by sprinting home from a few houses away. He still has that in him. Hopefully, he'll be up for walking more when the weather turns cooler.

I couldn't be more pleased with the external power pack I bought from Garmin to power my Edge 820 on longer rides. Without it, my 820 is only good for maybe 9 hours at the most, and that's not enough especially when I'm in unfamiliar places and I'm in map mode where power is drained more rapidly. There are less expensive ways to attach an external power source but I like the way these two pieces work together.

I got up early Sunday for a longish ride and was on the road a few minutes before sunrise. There's something about a Sunday morning that no other day of the week can compare to because of the lack of traffic -- especially the route I took to the south into a light wind. It's not a stretch for me to say that it's somewhat of a spiritual thing for me out there with so little to distract me from my thoughts.

I'm taking a few days off my bike to let my body more fully recover from all of the riding I've been doing. I'm over-trained. I like seeing how many miles I can ride in a week but there's a price to be paid and walking around sleepy all the time is part of that price, as is being more prone to illness. I like that I'm itching to ride because that means I'm not burnt out. That's never a good place to be. I look forward to riding the trails at Murphy again on Thursday.

I'm hitting the links tomorrow morning with some fellow retirees. Willingers Golf Club in Northfield is now part of the PCC membership that many of us belong to and we're going to check it out. It's been at least 25 years since I've played there, and of all the courses I used to play in my younger years, it was one of my favorites. I would guess it's in the top-ten of courses in the metro area.

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fair Talk, Plotting Courses, and Lots of Pedaling

I was plotting out a course on my laptop late one night last week for a bike ride the next day when I received an Etsy notification that one of my large stained glass panels had sold. A notification that should've caused a feeling of elation, caused instead my heart to sink a little because I was sorta hoping none of my larger pieces would sell. We enjoy having them in the windows of our sun-porch, and they help prevent birds from crashing into the windows the panels hang in front of. I have them on my site to display my ability more than anything. I quickly accessed my Etsy account and increased the price on the other remaining 6 large panels to soften the blow should they too sell some day. The panel that sold was the first of the larger panels I did last winter. I'll be making another to replace it when I finally find my way back into the studio in a few months.

We made it to the Dakota County Fair last Thursday to continue our tradition of watching the demolition derby. Maybe it's because Rachel couldn't be there with us, or maybe the derby didn't quite live up to our expectations but it was sort of a letdown this year. We left after 3 heats. I was talking with a neighbor who was also there with her daughter that night and they too were disappointed, leaving the same time we did. We kicked around the fair for a while afterward taking in some of the exhibits and getting our fill of fair food. It's our warm-up to the State Fair! I mentioned to Tammy how Tim used to love coming to this local fair.

The route planner (mentioned above) I was using to plot my bike ride is the one found on RideWithGPS. It's a nifty tool. I made a tutorial video for it in 2009 and the guys at RideWithGPS stumbled onto it and used it on their site for years before making their own. It's especially useful for mapping longer routes where I'm riding in areas I'm not very familiar with. It suggests less traveled roads but it won't distinguish between paved or gravel, and I really wish it did. Instead, I'll drag the little Google man over the road I'm considering using to see the Google Street View of it and what its surface is. I've been using the program quite a lot lately.

Between my fat-tire bike and my road bike, last week was a big week for me on the trails and on the road. I had 260 miles in my legs for the week before deciding to attempt a double century (200 miles) ride on Sunday. It all worked out well but there was a time around 4 hours into the ride where I was seriously thinking of abbreviating the ride and giving it a go another day. The forecast wind was for 7 mph out of the south but it was easily 12 to 15 mph instead and it was putting the hurt on me as I tried to keep my speed up. It didn't help matters that my #2 knee wasn't at all happy with the extra demand I was placing on it. I kept telling myself that once I got to the halfway point and I could put the headwind to use as a tailwind I'd be okay. And I was.

It was difficult staying hydrated with the temp in the lower 90ºs (33º c) but I was able to find places along my route to grab some Gatorade and get back on the road. I find these little guys especially useful for getting a quick fix of sugar into my muscles to fuel me. The extra stops added to my overall time but I had no other choice. As determined as I was to stay hydrated, I still lost 3.4 lbs by the time I finished.

Here's a link to my ride on Strava or click the image to the right and then click it again after it opens for a zoomed in view of the route I took.

I kept Tammy updated on my position through the use of a beacon sent to her phone via Strava, a site I use to track my rides. It updates my position every 30 seconds. I like that she's able to take a quick look and see that I'm still making progress. She can send texts to my Garmin Edge 820 (cyclocomputer) which gives me a few canned responses to use for a reply. it's simple and quick. I love technology!

There's no better time during the week to go out riding than Sunday morning. The streets are quieter then than at any other time. It was a little foggy to start but with my front and rear strobes, I felt comfortable that I was being seen.

I'm not certain that I'll still be doing the double century ride with Silver Cyclists that I spoke of in my previous entry. I'm more of a solo rider after all but I've done the hard work to get myself in shape so I just may show up and help out.

That's all I've got.



Video from a ride into Wisconsin on Monday. There's a map to my route at this link on Strava.



Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Living Legend and Summer Traditions

I received this message on Google Hangouts back in June: "Hi, Kevin! I am a journalist (freelance, though this piece is for Jalopnik) and I am writing about someone you know. Wanted to see about having a quick interview with you."

I wasn't sure what to think so I messaged him back: "Sure."

The person contacting me is named David and he was doing a story about a man who lived next to us for several years in the late '60s and early '70s -- Jim Barbour. In doing his research about Jim, David came across this piece I'd written ten years earlier where I talked a little about Jim, or Mr. Barbour as I knew him. He said my blog post was about the only thing he could find online about him and he wanted to know if I had some time to share any additional memories or thoughts I may have about Jim that he could possibly use in the article he was writing. I was happy to help.

We spoke on the phone for 20 minutes. I told him of my intrigue with Mr. Barbour as I'd often see him out in his driveway tinkering with his blue Austin-Healey Sprite race car, and how cool it was when I learned that he raced it at the track in Brainerd. I also spoke of how it apparently wasn't lost on anyone in the neighborhood that a black family was moving in and how I sensed a level of concern that wasn't there for any of the other white families when they moved into their newly built homes in our neighborhood between Jefferson High School and Hubert Olson Elementary/Junior High in Bloomington.

David published his piece a few days ago, and it's very good. I believe he told me he spent 15 hours over the course of 2 days with Jim to gather as much history about him as he could. My contribution didn't make it into his story but it may in a future continuation piece or on David's podcast. No worries. I'm just happy to see Jim's story told.

From Tuskegee Airman to Racing Godfather, Jim Barbour Is the Living Legend You Don’t Know About

I'm beginning to get excited to get back down in our glass shop and come up with some new stained glass designs to bring to life. I woke up to a notification a few days ago informing me that I'd sold 2 small sun-catcher panels overnight; this in addition to another I'd sold a couple days earlier. It's not as though my pieces have been flying off the shelves of my Etsy site so this was a pleasant surprise. But my shop will have to wait until the snow begins to fall. That's just the way it is.

One of our traditions in the summer is a trip to Rochester to spend an afternoon with Rachel, taking in the food, music, and artists selling their work downtown at the city's weekly Thursdays on First and 3rd event during the summer. It's always a nice time for us to get together and catch up on whats happening in her life. She's really made Rochester her home and is putting her roots down there. We can understand why. She's continually running into friends along the way while we're with her and we couldn't be happier for her. She's thriving there.

Tammy and I made it out to the Uptown Art Fair Friday afternoon and into the evening -- another of our summer traditions. We really enjoyed ourselves, taking in the various artwork for sale and conversing with many of the artists. As a bonus, we came away with some nice pieces of art as well. Tammy spotted a print of a painting that she'd mistaken for a photo. She called me over to have a look and I could see why she liked it. Without much hesitation, we decided to purchase it. It's titled Serenity, and it hangs on a wall in our kitchen.

I had a long ride of 170 miles (254 km) on Tuesday as part of my training for the Dawn to Dusk 207 mile (333 km) ride with the Silver Cyclists club in Lakeville a month from now. I could've done the full distance on Tuesday but that wasn't the point. I'm simply trying to get some decent base miles in my legs so I have both the confidence and stamina to do the ride with enough strength in my legs to go even further if I wanted. I could go into the ride less fit and draft among the group, having them pull me home but I'd rather I be able to take my turns at the front and show the young ones that this guy isn't ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

That's all I've got.