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 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 him from being able to devour his 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 is 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 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.