Thursday, February 27, 2020

Gone Vegan, Designer's Block, and Pandemic Talk

Tammy and I have gone vegan—sort of. We've been attempting to go without meat and fish for the past five weeks with good success. I've said from the outset that I would be happy if I was maybe 80% in adherence to the diet but so far I'm closer to 95%. We're still trying to figure out what works for us as we've had our share of failed experiences with some different plant-based meat substitutes. It's important to not let those bad experiences dissuade us from pressing on and finding enough alternatives that work for us. I think we're doing pretty well.

I unexpectedly took an extended break from my glass studio while piddling around with some other alternative style designs, mostly Art Nouveau, but mostly I was experiencing a designer-block of sorts. I was able to come up with several designs (an example) but nothing fully fleshed out. I switched gears and settled on this design instead. I liken it to a modest Japanese style contemporary home. Here's a link to it on my Etsy site. I may try and do another before moving on.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that we have a President who lies as easily as he breathes. And that's especially troubling when we have (what is likely to be) a national emergency unfolding in the form of a pandemic-like flu outbreak that's spreading across the globe and threatens to disrupt/take the lives of many. We need an administration that's more concerned with the health of the public rather than the investments of those playing the markets. It appears we have the latter. It's unconscionable to me that Trump's* administration has spent the past three years making irresponsible cuts to agencies that are tasked with overseeing research vital to the health of not only our country but the world at large. I don't believe a word this administration says about our current situation with respect to the Covid-19 virus—how can anyone? But not only that; they're muzzling those non-partisan voices who would dare to speak candidly about what they know. Sound familiar?

Rachel turned Tammy and me on to a recently released 6-part series on Netflix titled Pandemic. It profiles the work of many on the frontlines who are working tirelessly to identify and thwart the next pandemic that many think we're overdue to face. It's fascinating, disturbing, and timely. Do check it out if you have a way to stream it.

I've had such a good run of outdoor riding this winter—the best I've had since I began fat-biking eight years ago. The trails are an icy, rutted mess now after last weekend's warm weather so I'm avoiding them until we get some fresh snow that I'm confident will come. I've spent so little time on my indoor trainer, and while I do enjoy riding it, I'm happier outdoors.

This is some video from last Friday's ride.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Winter Wonderland and Cycling Without Age

I've been neglecting my stained glass art for the past 5 weeks as I find myself enjoying our Minnesota winter like maybe never before. It began when I studded the tires on my fat-bike and took to the trails; something I've not been able to do the past few winters because of ice and a promise to my doctor that I wouldn't get too crazy on my bike knowing that head injuries and coumadin don't play well together. It also helps that we've had some very reasonable temps for being outdoors—just a few degrees below freezing for the most part.

I woke up this morning to see that we were living in a snow globe. It was beautiful! This winter finds me looking forward to snow in the forecast, whereas recent winters not so much—even the 8" (20 cm) variety of snowfalls we received overnight and today is perfectly fine with me. I waited for the snow to stop before clearing our drive and walkways then I suited up to snowshoe the river trails.

I arrived to see that several fat-bikes had already begun to reestablish the trail so I did my best to work the outer edges of the track with my snowshoes to add some width to what was already there. I considered bringing some tunes along but music would only disrupt the solitude of the river bottoms on this beautiful late afternoon. My thoughts and my surroundings were the only entertainment I'd need. I may try and make it back tomorrow with my bike.

Some photos from my hike.

I saw a featured segment on a local newscast last spring or summer about a program called Cycling Without Age (CWA) where volunteers (aka pilots) take elderly and disabled people on bicycle rides using a rickshaw, or in this case, a trishaw. There was a new chapter of the program in St. Paul and the news segment featured the man who'd organized it. The program has its roots in Denmark where Ole Kassow began it there in 2012. I'll let Ole explain CWA in detail in the video below.

I tried to contact the man I saw in the video on the local newscast but I never received a reply (I'm guessing my email ended up in his spam folder). CWA is something I think I would love to be a part of and fortunately for me, I have some friends in Northfield that I ride with who are beginning a chapter of the program in their city, about a half-hour drive away for me. And not only that but there's also a chapter being formed in Lakeville (where I live) that I've committed to helping out. From all I can see, it's an excellent volunteering opportunity for me

I attended a CWA presentation in Northfield two nights ago featuring none other than Ole and his partner Pernille from Denmark. They literally travel the globe putting on presentations for cities where people have expressed an interest in opening a chapter, and luckily for my friends in Northfield, they were able to have Ole and Pernille schedule a stop in their city after having done a presentation in Rochester earlier in the day.

They told stories of people living in care facilities who were somewhat reluctant to climb aboard the trishaw but once they were out on the road feeling the wind in their face, they came alive and absolutely loved the experience. But more importantly, Ole and Pernille talked about how the trishaw is actually just a tool, a tool used to create an environment where those, oftentimes living out the twilight of their lives, can feel validated as they chat with the pilot who is providing the ride and recall for them memories from their youth. Their lives have a newfound meaning they might not otherwise have for the time spent with their pilot. Relationships are formed and future rides give them something to look forward to. How awesome is that?!

Ole and Pernille spent most of last week in Minnesota with a trip into Wisconsin yesterday before returning to Copenhagen this afternoon. It's truly an amazing thing they're doing!

After their presentation two nights ago, we went out for beers and a bite to eat while getting to know them better and learning even more about their organization. I'm impressed by all I've seen and heard.

If this is something that interests you, please know that there's no requirement to be a strong cyclist to volunteer as a pilot. The trishaws are actually e-bikes with a motor and powerful battery to aid in propelling the bike. I'm excited about it and am looking forward to being a part of Cycling Without Age!

The video below is from a ride I did a week ago with the guys from Michael's Cycles in Chaska. Check out the pup in the video. She had a blast out there!

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Goodbye Sweet Sue

Sue, my brother's wife, and life partner passed away in their home with family at her side late this morning at 11:00 Pacific time after a nearly 5-year struggle with cancer. They were married for more than 47 years and together for more than 50.

I was just a boy when she came into our family. I've added two videos at the end of this post from those early years where Sue can be seen in her early 20s.

I admired her for her never-wavering faith and for her kindness toward others. Sue also had a keen eye for design and turned that into her profession. She was always such a sweet and beautiful presence to be around.

Tammy and I took a trip out west to see Sue and Bryan (aka Dave) where they live near Portland in the spring of 2018 while Sue's cancer was in remission. We had such a nice time and are so thankful for having made the trip. We will miss her greatly.