Saturday, November 30, 2019

Winter Has Definitely Arrived!

I was on a gravel ride last Sunday that took me past one of the golf courses I frequent—Boulder Pointe in Elko. I noticed they were still open and was somewhat surprised to see that considering how late in the season it is. I called the clubhouse when I got home to see if they were going to be open the next day. They assured me they would be. I got my clubs out of storage and planned to play one last round the next day in the breezy, cool conditions the forecast had promised. It had been two weeks since I last played.

I got to the course a little after 10:00 on Monday morning and saw only two other cars in the lot. I got my clubs out of my car and made my way up the steps of the clubhouse to present my PCC card to the attendant at the front desk. I tugged on the door to find it was locked before noticing the sign to the left.


I walked back to my car while going through the Rolodex of courses in my head that may still be open so I could get in one last fix for the year. Just as I popped the rear hatch on my Forester, the golf course manager rolled up in his golf cart and told me nobody had called to make a tee-time and that he'd just put up the "closed" sign a few minutes ago and that he'd pulled all of the flags off the greens but if I still wanted to play I could. I didn't hesitate to tell him I'd love to. He said there were only two other golfers on the course and they were just finishing the 16th hole. I would be the last player for the year at Boulder Pointe. I kinda liked that.

I found a nice rhythm to my game and tried as much as I could to live in the moment, reminding myself what a blessing it was to be out there. I have a friend who lives off the 2nd fairway and I texted him to see if he was available to join me. He replied: "Diehard. I like it. Good luck out there. Stay warm and don't hit em thin." By the time I finished the front nine my car was the only one in the lot.

I spent several hours on Tuesday making one last sweep of our yard for leaves ahead of a major snowstorm. Monday's strong west winds had filled our yard with leaves. Again. I love the look of a leaf-free yard and I love before and after photos.

(Blog continues below.)

Winter has definitely arrived! We've had off-and-on snow for the past couple of days.

We made a trip to Rochester last night to help celebrate Jenny's 60th birthday (Drew's mother). It was a very nice time but we had to make tracks for home sooner than we'd like to have because of continued falling snow. I hadn't done that kind of white-knuckle driving in a while. It was extremely slippery conditions. For a drive that typically takes us 1:15, it took us 1:55. It didn't help that my tires have 59,000 miles (95,000 km) on them so they didn't provide the best footing. I went out to Costco today to place an order for a set of 80k Michelins.

I've done so little riding at the river bottoms lately. I avoided them most of last winter due to ice and I wasn't down there at all this past spring, summer and fall due to flooding. I finally made it back yesterday morning and had such a nice time. There's an easy flow to the trails there, making it the perfect place to lose yourself in thought or no thoughts at all. Video embedded below.

Rachel and Drew stopped by tonight on their way back from visiting Rachel's sister Amy. They were rear-ended as they were on the ramp from eastbound Hwy 62 to southbound I-35W. Rachel was traveling at 30 mph in slippery conditions when a white SUV hit them from behind and veered off the shoulder. Rachel pulled over while the SUV backed up, took off and sped past them. Drew was able to get a photo of it as well as its license plate number. It was too slippery for any kind of chase. Rachel's rear bumper suffered some damage but she and Drew are fine. They phoned the incident into the police when they got here.

My Etsy site has been quiet for the past few months but I had two sales yesterday. I was up early filling those orders to get them out in today's mail. One of the panels that sold is a style I've sold the most of—I would guess I've moved at least 5 of them. I think I know what I'll be working on tomorrow. Here's my most recent addition to my Etsy store.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Good Neighbors and a New Wifi Password

I spent the better part of the past two months going through each entry in my blog to ensure that photo links (previously directed at my soon-to-be-defunct websites) now point to my Google Photos where they should live on indefinitely and at no cost to me. I'm glad to have that job behind me because dead links in any blog, especially mine, cause me to frown.

I was sidelined for more than a week recently with some sort of virus that sapped nearly every last bit of energy from me as my body tried to fight it. Fortunately, that doesn't happen very often to me. Whatever it was has settled in my chest where it's reluctant to give up the fight but I'm doing much better overall. I was laying in bed last Monday trying to get up the energy to go out and vacuum up leaves one last time to have them out for the compost truck the next morning. I heard the sound of a lawnmower outside my window and figured it was our neighbors. I looked out to see that it was Mark working in our yard. I hurried to get outside to help him but he waved me off and insisted I go back in and rest. I put up no fight. Good neighbors are a blessing.

I was finally able to get out for a walk yesterday afternoon and feel the sun on my face. It was nice. And Charlie is happy that we've resumed our walks so he can check his p-mail.

Our country remains in a state of conflict with people choosing sides as we head down the road to the impeachment of Trump*. Congress spent the last two weeks taking testimony from State Department officials and others about what they observed from their positions on the inside while Republicans and conservative media asked us to not believe what our eyes and ears were telling us and to instead focus on a false narrative that Republicans were pushing on behalf of Vladimir Putin—that it was the Ukranian government that interfered in the 2016 election and nothing else appeared to matter. You couldn't script this and expect people to believe it, yet, here we are.

Trump* has blocked key witnesses to his alleged crimes from testifying, instructing them to defy subpoenas with promises of protection for anyone who fears legal retribution. What I don't understand and have yet to hear any of his defenders explain is why a man would work so hard to discredit an investigation that would surely prove his innocence? But hey, it worked for Mueller's investigation.

I was struck by the irony of so many immigrant State Department officials testifying before Congress, seemingly more concerned with our democracy and Constitution than those who looked down their noses at them from their lofty seats in the chamber and castigated them for daring to speak against the President.

I'm also struck by the fact that this is the same Republican Party who impeached Bill Clinton for lying about an affair—that lying about an affair was where they drew the line then but it's a meer yawner when a President abuses his power by withholding nearly $400,000,000 in promised and approved military assistance to a country in exchange for publically sullying the reputation of his chief rival in the upcoming election. I honestly don't know how one gives a pass to that.

I remind myself that there was only 30% approval for Nixon's impeachment when the Watergate hearings began but that number slowly grew over time as witnesses exposed a more sinister side to the man. It's my hope that Democrats have a plan to ensure that there's public testimony from all of the key players in this mess so that when the Senate gives a pass to Trump*, the voting public will have a full understanding when election day comes around for why he and his entire administration should be turned out.

On a brighter note: I finally made it back down into my glass studio a few days ago to knock out a piece for my Etsy store. It was so nice to be down there again losing myself in the process of bringing a piece to life. Temps are expected to be in the mid-40s tomorrow so I'm feeling torn about spending the day working on a stained glass project or possibly trying to battle the wind to play golf or ride. I suppose I could do both.

That's all I've got, well, except for this. 😁 Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 11, 2019

No Thanks Needed and Changing Lanes

I was telling a friend today that I'm somewhat self-conscience when anyone thanks me for my military service (not that it happens very often) because I didn't enlist out of a sense of patriotism. I enlisted because I was a kid who had no plan but knew enough that I couldn't continue working dead-end jobs. I don't think I should be thanked for that. Enlisting in the Navy was simply a card I played from a hand that made little sense at the time. But it was a good card to play and I'm grateful I did.

I wrote about my decision to commit to a 4-year enlistment six months out of high school in a series of blog posts beginning with this link. It was an enjoyable series of posts to write as I recalled so many memories (aided by a journal I'd kept) from my time in the Navy.

I'm not much for expressions of patriotism but that's just me. I respect those who feel otherwise. Still, thanks to all who have served and thanks to their families for keeping the home fires lit in their absence.

My brother Keith and his business partner are in the process of closing their cabinet business after some 30 years together. They sold the building they work out of last week and will continue making cabinets in their same location for another 6 months while they look for a buyer for the business. I'm happy for them both. Keith is the hardest working guy I've ever known and I'm glad that he's going to be able to move over into a slower lane for a change. He's earned it.

I took part in Random Relay 2.0 last Saturday morning at the West Lake Marion single-track MTB trails with the guys from Silver Cycling and others. It was a relay race put on for the purpose of raising money for trail grooming equipment for the WLM trails. It was a lot of fun—so much fun that I have no idea what place our team finished in.

That's all I've got

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Halloween Cuteness and Cutting the Cable

We had 44 little ones ring our doorbell Halloween night. That's up quite a lot from last year when we only had 33. I find them all to be so adorable. The highlight of our night was a group of 4 girls (3-4 years old) who paused in front of our inflatable Dracula to wait for him to show his face. They screamed and laughed when he did then waited for him to make another appearance. It was so cute to watch. (Thanks for the photo, Natalie.)

We received our bill from Spectrum Cable (formerly Charter) in the mail this week. Our monthly rates had risen from $248 to $262 for our not very extravagant cable package. This most recent increase was the one that finally put us over the edge and prompted us to call and cancel our cable service (we'll remain with Spectrum for the internet). We've been toying with the idea of leaving Spectrum for more than a year but the inconvenience of switching over to some other form of service or provider seemed daunting.

It wasn't at all.

I disconnected all 6 of our cable boxes and Tammy and I brought them over to Spectrum's outlet on Friday morning. We then went to Best Buy and purchased a bunch of Roku Streaming Sticks for $45 each that allow us to stream to all but one of our TV sets. It's a much simpler process than I was expecting it to be. We couldn't be happier having made the switch.

If you're considering cutting the cable, take a look at YouTube TV. It's a little more than $50 per month and it provides us with pretty much all of the programs we were enjoying before with Spectrum—plus, the service provides unlimited storage for recording shows. Our bill is now closer to $113 per month than the $262 it would've cost us to remain with Spectrum (not including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Now which we already had. This is just an apples to apples comparison using YouTube TV in place of Spectrum Cable.)

I was going to spend the afternoon working in the yard vacuuming up leaves but an invitation to golf proved too strong to turn down. I met Steve at Oneka Ridge Golf Course late this morning for 21 holes of golf. We extended our stay by 3 holes because it was too nice out to call it quits. That will likely be Steve's last time on the links this year but I'm hoping to get out one last time tomorrow at Crystal Lake. I called and they said they'd be open tomorrow but that it's anybody's guess after Monday. My rider works fine in the dark.

I finally made it back to the trails at Murphy Hanrehan Park earlier in the week. I was so overdue for some time there. If I wasn't into golfing I'd likely spend more time there but the increased chance for an injury (I have some history in that regard) to sideline me from golfing is always a looming thought when I'm riding singletrack. Golf is winding down now so it's time to take advantage of this remarkable mountain bike playground 6 miles (10 km) from home.

That's all I've got.