Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Motherless Christmas

[Mom and the grand-kids last Christmas.]

I am working at home today, Christmas Eve.  I went to the office yesterday.  It appears the new policy (this is the first year we cannot carry over vacation time) had come home to roost.  Everyone is gone.  After a brief flurry of activity in early morning, most work ground to a halt around noon.  By the time I left at 4:30 the place was a vast wasteland populated only by a few colleagues who had planned ahead and used their vacation time for vacations earlier in the year. 

In addition to checking email and wrapping up a few loose ends for work, I've cleaned the cat litter boxes and even stopped to wrap a few presents.  A short shopping trip awaits John-John and me – whenever he wakes up.  After that it’s time to prepare food, gather the presents, and head over to Uncle Paul’s for the first motherless Christmas.

The first motherless Christmas is not easy.  After my father died, we still had Mom who was the driving force of holiday traditions.  That first Christmas without Dad was sad, but we were together at Mom’s apartment, she was healthy, the kids were young, so Christmas was exciting.  This time will be different.  I’m not sure how but I know it will be different.  That scares me and colors my mood.

Christmas cards arrive daily with touching messages about my mother.  Those are very helpful, but bittersweet.  I nervously open certain cards.  Sometimes I delay opening the mail until I know I’ll have time to appropriately process the messages in the cards.  It works best that way.

So, where is this going?  It’s an explanation or an apology of sorts.  Because Christmas has been harder this year, I haven’t sent the usual Christmas card and letter yet.   Mom would NOT approve, but that’s the way it will be.  The card will come, but I’m not sure I’ll send the letter.  Many drafts, but nothing seems right. 

Hmm . . . perhaps I’ll just print this out, fold it up, and stuff it in the envelopes with the card.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Building a Statue of Snow"

Peter O’Toole passed away over the weekend.  I’ve read several news articles and blog posts about O’Toole – many remembering him for his personal style and ability to hold his liquor.  The Trad (a favorite blog of mine) linked to this article from Esquire (1963) by Gal Talese.  Given our family’s interest in theater, as actors, behind-the-scenes workers, and volunteers, I thought this was a great quote to share.  O’Toole is comparing his experience on film against live theater:

"Oh, it's painful seeing it all there on the screen, solidified, embalmed," he said, staring straight ahead toward the rows of bottles. "Once a thing is solidified it stops being a living thing. That's why I love the theatre. It's the Art of the Moment. I'm in love with ephemera and I hate permanence. Acting is making words into flesh, and I love classical acting because...because you need the vocal range of an opera singer...the movement of a ballet dancer...you have to be able to act...it's turning your whole body into a musical instrument on which you yourself play...It's more than behaviorism, which is what you get in the movies...Chrissake, what are movies anyway? Just fucking moving photographs, that's all. But the theatre! Ah, there you have the impermanence that I love. It's a reflection of life somehow. It's...it's...like building a statue of snow...."

Hat Tip, the Trad.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Great Great Grandfather?

A relative from Sweden found me the other day.  I'm not hard to find.  I wasn't hiding, and a Google search locates scads of Gisselquists - all related in some way.

The email from Sweden got me poking around online and I unearthed this photo on Ancestry.com - I suspect it's my Great Great Grandfather Per Jonsson Gisselquist - who emigrated from Sweden in the early 19th century.

Sorry for the small photo.  Attempts to enlarge don't do much to enhance the appearance of Per Jonsson.

Wait - this gets better - now I've unearthed my Great-Grandfather Ole Gisselquist.  I love the straw boater.

I may need to purchase a subscription to Ancestry.com.

Get Back to Your Desk

It’s a quiet day at work.  It seems half the company is burning up their remaining vacation days before the lose them.  This is the first year we will not be allowed to carry over any vacation time.  That policy change is having an interesting effect on work around here.  Most folks toiled away all year deferring time-off because their projects and deadlines were too important to break away from.  Now with the year-end use-it-or-lose-it deadline looming, everyone’s changed their tune.   Suddenly work can be deferred and folks can take time away.  I’m not bitter – in fact – good for them!  It’s about time people strived for the work-life balance the company likes to brad about.  What it means for me, and the few others who used most if not all of their vacation days earlier in the year – are many quiet days and lots of great parking spaces!

This morning I stopped for coffee at our in-store Caribou Coffee then thought (since I had the time), why not take a look at the newspapers. 

We have a number of conveniences at my work place.  Along a stretch of our fourth floor we have a Caribou Coffee, a very nice cafeteria, a branch of US Bank, a convenience store, and a library-learning area used for training, etc.  This learning area also has comfy chairs, couches, and big windows.  There’s also an area with magazines and newspapers.  It’s really very pleasant.  I often stop by to check out the headlines on the Wall Street Journal or New York Times, or maybe a magazine.

But today I see this sign:  no more newspapers.  I suspect its part of our ongoing cost-cutting measures – or “transformation” as the initiative it’s officially named.  (We have a newly named Chief Transformation Officer.)   Last week we ousted the Presidentof our division (along with two other high level folks).  The high level replacements were meant to send a message to Wall Street that we are not satisfied with our growth so we are cleaning house. 

So measures are taken, big and small.  First the head-guy, then the newspapers; we are saving money where we can. 

I get the message, “Move along, nothing to see here.  Get back to your desk.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Starting Over Again - at 168 Steps/Minute

Here is a true Hobbled Runner post, as it's all about running - and there is some hobbling involved.

I posted in May about my latest running injury, where tightness and pain in my right calf sent me hobbling home one mile into a run.  A subsequent trip to the doctor and physical therapist (PT) brought the diagnosis that I was walking wrong.  Various exercises were prescribed - and for the most part followed - and then it was time for the running analysis.

I returned to the PT's office where Sam put me on a treadmill and filmed me running - from several vantage points.  Sam said I was over-striding, pushing off too much with my calves resulting in strain to those muscles.  I was also "crossing the line" with my strides:  rather than having my feet fall on either side of an imaginary line, I was placing one foot directly in front of the other - and sometimes even overlapping a bit so that might right foot would fall a bit to the left of this imaginary line running down the middle of the road/treadmill.  This improper foot placement resulted in strain on my right knee (had that for years).  And to top it all off my longer than necessary stride, resulted in my body moving up and down more than necessary.

To sum it all up:  I'm bouncing too high, striding too long, and my feet are not hitting the ground correctly.  And who said running was easy?

Sam "prescribed" even more exercises - more glut work - and told me to use a metronome.  My ideal running cadence was declared to be 168 beats/steps per minute.  Luckily I just got a new iPhone 5 for work, so I downloaded a free Metronome App, set it at 168 beats (steps) per minute, and I was off.

Talk about weird - I felt like I was shuffling along with little mincing steps.  During the first short run/walk at 168 I noticed I was using different muscles:  my quads were lifting more so became tired; my calves were relaxed - and I could actually wiggle my toes in my running shoes.  (Now you don't need to wiggle your toes while running - but by relieving my calves of so much work - my foot became free and relaxed).  I also noticed that I was running more erect and my head seemed to be pretty steady, rather than rising and falling with each step.

But I'll be damned if it doesn't work!  My calf is better.  I feel like I could run for miles.  I've had several runs of 3 miles with no calf problems at all.

Now I don't much are for running with an iPhone.  Of course I carry it in my hand and don't use ear buds.  Yes, I know there are all sorts of ways to carry a phone hands-free and many/most runners seem to be plugged in while running.  But I'm old school - I prefer to be alone with my thoughts while running.  My goal is to internalize the new cadence so that I can leave my phone at home.  Until then, I'm running with the phone beating along - 168 steps a minute.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bev's Book Nook

Stopped in at Bev's in Perham yesterday. Bought this old (1960) edition of F. Scoot short stories. Not worth much if anything as collector's item but I love the inside cover. Appears to have been a school issued text prior to circulation at West Fargo Public Library 

Autumn in July

Testing my new Blogger App. Cool morning at cabin. 46 degrees. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Looking Up

After spending way too much time in the basement mopping and vacuuming up water, I enjoyed the view on a walk this morning.

We had water in the basement after Friday's torrential rains.  We got off easy with some water in the basement that required mopping and carpet disposal, and only a few branches down in the back yard.  One of our neighbors lost two large trees.  One hit her house with a major tree limb piercing her roof and into her kitchen ceiling.  Oh - and she had 6 inches of water in the basement.  We got off easy.

While I looked skyward and snapped that picture this thought came to me - it's about basements:  Humans were not meant to live in holes in ground. Holes are for hiding or storing food.  [Sigh]  OK, back to the basement.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It Was Our House

At 6:03 pm on June 8, old friend sent this Facebook message:https://www.facebook.com/john.gisselquist?hc_location=stream

There was a shooting in your old house in Richfield today. Watch the news tonight.

I was stunned.   It was a blessing our TV wasn't working and the dog needed a walk.  It gave me time to digest this news – before I actually tuned in to television coverage of another murder. 

But it wasn’t just “another” murder.  It was a murder in my childhood home.

[The old home - 1958 - with Friskie the cat on patrol.]

As I said on Facebook after the shooting,

An old friend called this to my attention - homicide in our old home in Richfield. Even without knowing the details - and I really don't care to know them - it's very disturbing. One could argue that it's just a house, but it's my childhood home and my parents lived there for 46 years, from when it was built in 1953 until they moved out in October 1999. I'm surprised how unsettled I feel about it. Good thing Mom passed away in January. She would feel responsible somehow for selling the house.

It was a real social media event.  My initial notice of the even came via Facebook, friends and family communicated with me about the event online, and one of the best sources for news was the Richfield Patch

Despite my initial reluctance, I did want to learn more.  Through various news sources I discovered that the victim had been shot multiple times and died in the kitchen of the house. 

The old kitchen was initially a breezeway connecting the house to the garage.  Breezeways were common in the neighborhood but as time went by my parents decided to remove the breezeway, and expand the kitchen – with labor provided by my Uncle Ole.

The police report stated the victim was lying in the southwest corner of the kitchen.  That was always the cold corner of the kitchen.  In the depths of winter, frost would form on the wall paneling where the house connected to the garage.  The southwest corner – a cold spot indeed.

2013 has been a difficult year - so far.  My mother passed away in January, a beloved uncle died a month later, it’s rained at least 40 days and 40 nights, and now we can add to that list images of a dead man on the floor of “our” kitchen.  

Rather than dwell on the bad images, as I feared I would, I've decided to take the advice of friends who responded to my Facebook post:

Wow, feels like my childhood home too . . .  this feels terrible! 
I'll only remember the good that occurred in this house. 
Sorry to hear about this, John. These stories always hit hardest when there is that personal connection, of course. Best to avoid reading anymore about it and remember your home for what it was---your childhood home
[Celebrating 10 years - in the kitchen - of course.]

And that’s how I've decided to leave it.  It was my childhood home.  I’ll keep the good memories. 

Blow out the candles!  Don’t forget to make a wish.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I Scored a Big Fat Zero

I had a CT Heart Scan this morning.  These scans are designed to detect calcium build-up in plaque along walls of the coronary arteries.    

[My heart]

How did I do?  Despite my “alarming” cholesterol (LDL – “bad” cholesterol – of 172), it turns out I have no plaque – 0% - the arteries are clean.  

You may ask, “Why was I even a candidate for such a procedure?”  That’s an interesting story. 

Every year at my annual physical my blood is drawn for a lipid profile – the test to determine your cholesterol score.  My total number is high, the LDL (bad) cholesterol is 172, my HDL (good) is 82 (also very high).  My primary care physician’s clinic requires treatment at 170.  She explained that it’s like standardized tests in schools.  It’s all about numbers.  She gets “dinged” when she doesn't treat people with certain numbers.  My number required treatment. 

I wasn't convinced I needed treatment.  My HDL was great, my Triglycerides are very good (66), so I dragged my feet, avoiding the meds.

During last year’s scare with dizzy spells – which was eventually diagnosed as Atrial Tachycardia, a cardiologist looked at my cholesterol numbers (LDL 191 at that time) and asked me – in a rather patronizing tone of voice, “Is there any reason you’re not treating this?” 

I should have pushed back – but felt like citing Wikipedia and other web sources would have been met with the usual medical scorn.

According to Wikipedia 

Research has found that statins are most effective for treating cardiovascular disease (CVD) as a secondary prevention strategy, with questionable benefit in those with elevated cholesterol levels but without previous CVD.[2][3] Statins have rare but severe adverse effects, particularly muscle damage, and some doctors believe they are overprescribed. 

In the end I caved and started taking Simvastatin.   Within a few days, the usual side effects appeared, aching muscles – so bad it was hard to sleep.  I called to report the side effects and the nurse cheerfully informed me that I could take a “Statin Holiday”, two weeks off the drugs to determine if the side effects would go away.  The side effects disappeared. 

Next we tried Pravastatin.  That was a bit better and a test showed my LDL went down (by over half to 91) – but then the side effects started again.  Rather than reporting the side effects and asking for the next drug, I just took myself off that medication without consulting the docs.

This year’s physical came – and low-and-behold – my LDL is still high, my 172 rating.  This time my doctor referred me to a new cardiologist.  He was a jolly fellow.  He recommended the heart scan, telling me that LDL alone is not indicative of plaque build-up in coronary arteries.  Some folks live long, healthy lives with LDL over 200, while others drop dead with LDL far below mine.  There are lots of factors; everyone’s body is different, etc. 

Now I am waiting to discuss my zero (0) score with the cardiologist.  Before the test he indicated that if the score was low enough, he would do nothing – and then run another scan in 10 years.

Hope my primary care doctor doesn't get “dinged” by the insurance companies or whoever dings doctors who don’t treat patients.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

7500 in the Rearview Mirror

Yesterday was a difficult day.  It was cool, gray, and damp – again.  In addition, we’ve finally sold my mother’s co-op apartment.  There was not a lot of ceremony.  Unfortunately I was not needed at the actual closing, having signed over the Certificate of Membership last week.  It’s unfortunate because I think being present would have helped provide some closure.  I would have liked to meet the person who will be living in my mother’s old apartment.  It would also have been nice to offer some feedback to the folks at 7500 York.

From the moment my mother died, we worked quickly to vacate the apartment.  As it was explained to us, the sale (or marketing) process would not begin until we signed a notice of vacancy, telling them we were done with the unit.  Then they would consult the list of folks who were looking for a unit that size – about 38 people I believe, out of hundreds on the building’s waiting list.  Staying in the unit didn't make sense; there was no need to continue to make monthly payments to the co-op association.

The “marketing” process – the sale of the unit – did not proceed as I imagined it would.  I’m sure it’s all detailed in the contracts my parents signed when they bought into the place in 1999, but now that I reflect on it, it’s a bum deal for the unit’s owners.  The management  at 7500 bears no financial risk in the marketing or sale of the unit.  Up until the closing with the new owner on June 4, the risk of ownership remained with us – despite the fact that we've submitted a notice of vacancy on March 5.  We continued to pay the monthly fee.  We continued to pay homeowners insurance.  But we could not help them sell the unit.  We could not speed up the minor repairs, replacement of carpet, painting of walls, etc that were part of the move out/in process.   It dragged on for three months, with us paying for the unit – and having no right to use it in any fashion. 

Maybe it didn't really “drag” on.  It sure felt that way.  Perhaps it’s hard to get the work done, or maybe some folks were shown the unit and turned it down, and they had to do multiple showings. 

What would make it better?  A more satisfactory solution would have permitted us to sell the unit back to the management at 7500.  We were done with the unit in early March.  It was vacant.  We had no further use for it.  If we could sell it back, then the management would bear the financial risks involved with the sale.

The sale of the unit feels like the end, or the beginning, depending on how you look at it.  It turned out to be a less momentous occasion than imagined.  

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Calendar

My Mom kept “the calendar”.  Not only did it have the dates of everyone’s birthday, anniversary, and so on, she also tracked certain dates using a special code that only insiders could crack.  Her calendars often included numbers preceded by a minus sign, like the “–120” seen on the calendar above on April 29.  That indicates that my Grandmother (my Dad’s mother) would have celebrated her 120th birthday that day.   She would often call me and say, “our Grandmother would have been 120 today,” – or something along those lines. 

Today is a significant date in the Gisselquist calendar.  Today would have been my mother’s 84th birthday.  I don’t keep a calendar like Mom’s.  Perhaps someone else has marked their calendar, “–84” today.  

I received two nice cards from those older relatives who are part of the “letter sending generation”.  It’s very thoughtful.  Maybe Facebook has a feature where you enter the dates that significant loved ones died, or their birthdays no longer celebrated, so that your Facebook friends can be prompted to send a message on those days.  (I’m sure there’s a way to do that – no need to send Facebook tips.)  

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Hanging It Out

[Yes, it's probably time for a real clothes line, but using the Rainbow Play apparatus and several local trees gives it that hillbilly redneck look.]

Duke and I were up early, doing laundry and hanging it out to dry, trying to beat the rain.  Yes, you read that correctly:  “hanging it out to dry.”   We still haven’t purchased a new dryer.  Up to now, hanging laundry on the line, and quick trips to Josie’s are covering our needs.  I’m probably just an old fart but I’m not impressed with the expected lifespan of the new washer dryers.   They tell us 5 to 7 years.  The ones we have now came with the house, and were certainly not new when we moved in 13 years ago.  I bet they are (or “were” in the case of the dryer) 20 years old.  Add to that, the problems people report with front loading washers – and the long washing time, all the bells and whistles added in the name of efficiency, I’m tempted to go out and buy the cheap, old-fashioned kind.   Yep – I’m an old-fart laundry guy.

Lots of reasons to hope for dry weather today:  The laundry is one, and the First Rosetown Playhouse picnic at Central Park is another

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Don't Worry - You Only Walk Wrong

Here's a quick update on my previously reported calf injury.

I went to my first physical therapy session yesterday.  It turns out the injury is not so bad, it's just that I’m walking (and running) incorrectly.  The first 50 years have all been a big mistake.

The PT gave me some exercises to strengthen the other muscles needed (abs/core and glutes) to bring everything back in line and get the calf muscles working as designed.   The exercises are simple yet challenging - some planks, a downward dog type stretch, and a fun exercise ball activity.  The hard part is thinking that it's all about redesigning how I walk.  I'll try to ignore that.

Should be easy – no?

Stop and Smell the Roses – or Stop and Watch the Train

What’s the hurry?  It’s another gloomy, dark, humid day.  The rain never stops. 

This morning I got stopped behind several cars waiting for a train to cross.  The two cars in front of me peeled out of the line, working some interesting back-and-forth maneuvers to complete their u-turns.  I was patient, and eventually moved to the front of the line where I snapped this picture.  It wasn’t a particularly long train, but it was a very slow train.  

It's like the weather around here – slow, gray days.  The monotony is broken only by rain.  The ground is saturated and the grass is growing like crazy.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I did not audition for the Rosetown Playhouse summer production of Annie – but I was cast anyway.  It was a small role.  They needed adult males.  Still – it was very flattering.  All weekend long I waffled.  My ego first told me to say, “Yes”, and then common sense would take over, “You planned to sit this one out.  You wanted your summer back.”

In the end, I decided not to participate, keeping to my old advice – Most of the bad or troublesome things in my life occurred because I didn’t go with “my gut” and just say, “No.”

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Up Early with an Old Dog

The sun rises early at the cabin, even on dreary days.  Duke and I were up early this morning - before 6:00.  When you wake up that early you have to find ways to occupy yourselves - like posing for pictures with little trolls.

Duke was not amused - but he put up with it anyway.

We arrived at the cabin late afternoon.  We didn't leave town until 1:00 or so - as John had rehearsal for Hairspray and Maria had to be dropped at a friend's for a weekend of camping at Whitewater State Park.  It's the second Memorial Day that Maria has not joined the rest of us at West McDonald.

What's on the agenda for this weekend?  Perhaps some mowing at the farm, or here by the cabin.

What's NOT on the agenda?   Putting in the dock.  The water is very cold (I'm guessing) since the ice didn't come out until Mother's Day weekend (aka Fishing Opener).  We have no waders here at the cabin - never have, and maybe never will.  Waders are for sissies.  Who needs waders anyway - the lake is swimmable 3 maybe 4 months out the year anyway.  What possible use for waders would anyone have.  But enough about waders.  I'm too old to stand in frigid water in a swim suit (and besides I left the swim suit at home).

Wish me luck on the dock.  Last night, over beers, a wise old man of the lake was telling me putting in the dock wouldn't be so bad, since it's just a matter of getting used to the cold - and we wouldn't be in very long anyway.  Hmmmm

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Home with a Sick Dog

Woke up at 3:45 am.  Something was wrong; it was too quiet.  Duke was not in his accustomed place in the bathroom.  I located him downstairs on the couch - how cute.  But look, he had pooped by the back door - not so cute.

Those who know Duke are probably amazed that he hadn't "cleaned up" the poop himself - an old trick of his.  So I should probably be grateful - and I guess I was.

Anyway, clean up family room and on the couch myself for another 2 fitful hours of sleep.

Shortly after breakfast, Duke vomited up a rather large amount of food.  Two hours later, more.  Add to that some rapid evacuation from the other end and you get an idea of what my day has been like.

Luckily most of my job can be done via email and conference calls, so I've kept busy here at home between clean-ups and quick trips outside with Duke.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tuck Your Shirt In!

We've recently relaxed the dress code here at work.  Jeans are acceptable any day - unless you have customer meetings.

Now don't get me wrong, jeans are a nice option.  Some days you just don't feel like going through all the effort that getting ready for work requires.  On those days, it's nice to throw on a pair of jeans.

While I will wear jeans, I draw the line on NOT tucking in my shirt. Just this morning I ran into a guy who "outranks" me - the kind of guy that actually has an office with a door that closes.  He was in jeans and his dress shirt was un-tucked.   Big sigh - where did we go wrong?

Oh well, whenever I despair the state of the dress code around here, I turn to this little scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm - Ed Asner meets an attorney on Casual Friday.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Seven Minutes - and then some

At the suggestion of my brother-in-law, I tried the "Scientific 7-Minute Workout" yesterday.  Of course, tough guy that I am, 7 minutes didn't sound like enough - despite the science behind it - so I did it twice.  It got the heart beating and in the end it felt like I had really worked a "number" of muscles - how's that for a non-scientific take on the effort I exerted?  The killer for me - the side plank at the end of the routine.  I just couldn't figure out how to balance.  Do I put one leg on top of the other - or "cheat" by having both feet touch the ground?

This morning I woke up stiff in spots - mostly below the belt.  I don't "work out" a lot, and what I do is mostly upper body stuff.  I enjoy my push-ups (any where, any time), and pull-ups on the bars at the local park - or our own Rainbow Play System in the back yard.  The only lower-body work I do is walking and the occasional hobbled run.  My legs are stiff and sore (in a good way) in a number of places.  For what its' worth,  my Achilles feels pretty good and my knee is fine.  At this rate I'll have healed myself before I can even get in to see the PT - on May 28.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Still Hobbled After All These Years

It’s been a while – but I was recently reminded – again – why I call this blog “The Hobbled Runner”.  

One week ago today, I tempted the running fates.  Not content to confine my “running” to once a week runs on Saturday or Sunday, I set out after work for a (very) short run.  About one mile into what might have been a 3 mile run; I noticed my right calf/Achilles area tightening hp.  I stopped to stretch against a utility pole.  After some cautious stretching, I realized the run was done.   The calf was too tight; I’d have to walk home.  It wasn’t a pleasant walk home.  If any drivers were home at the Hobbled household, I would have called for a ride.  As it was I hobbled (literally) a little over a mile home.  

Treatment was proceeding well, ice (and later heat), resting, and elevation (time on the couch), then on Saturday afternoon, Patches the cat entered the picture. 

I was outside with Duke and Patches enjoying the sun and a little yard work.  Patches is the only cat we allow outside relatively unsupervised – but I saw her make a dash around the house chasing something.  Fearing I don’t know what (maybe she was going after one of the neighbor’s chickens which often are allowed to roam free) I sprinted off after Patches.  When executing a sharp turn, I came up lame, hopping on my one good leg fearing my Achilles was going to snap and roll up like you see on those horrible sports outtake videos.  Thankfully nothing snapped or popped – but it hurt a hell of a lot more than it did before the cat took off.

Fast forward to yesterday:  the calf was very stiff and still hurt.  I had compensated so much for the calf injury that my right knee hurts the muscles of that leg were tired, and my lower back hurt.  So off to the doctor I went.  She prescribed a muscle relaxer (haven’t taken one yet), and some PT.  I can’t get into the PT until May 28.  The delay of the PT, and the very act of seeking medical help have activated the placebo effect and today my calf doesn’t hurt so bad. 

Today I went for a walk at noon – a little slower than usual – but no real pain.

We will wait and see – and not run.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Company Way

Sigh – it’s over – How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.   The RAHS Drama kids finished their student-run show – and it was a great success.  Maria played Rosemary – the on/off love interest of the male lead, J. Pierpont Finch.

I love watching Maria is her shows. It’s a very emotional experience.  Of course I know it’s “just” acting, but it really hits me hard. 

Many songs make me sad.  Watching Maria sing Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm made me want to cry.  I sat in the darkened theater thinking, “She’s really growing up.  Soon she won’t need me.  She looks so adult-like and self assured up there.  Oh, I know she’s not – but it looks that way and it makes me think of times when she will be – times when she won’t need me (as much).”

Let’s hope she doesn't have to settle for a “happy to keep his dinner warm” life.

After seeing three complete shows – and a part of Thursday’s show – I can’t get the songs out of my head.  Sitting in my cube, The CompanyWay comes to mind. 

FINCH: Your face is a company face... 
MR. TWIMBLE: It smiles at executives then goes back in place!

That’s me – smiling at execs!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Laundry Day

Friends with Shana on Facebook know that our dryer died.  We are in the market for a new dryer (and washer – why not start fresh with two new appliances?).  The washer discussion on Facebook generated some strong feelings, with folks dividing into two camps:  front loader v top loader - like the Hatfields and McCoys.

In the meantime, I’m hanging at the local Laundromat.  It’s kind of fun, very efficient – you can wash and dry several loads at the same time in really big equipment – that’s new!  But it’s a different world, full of interesting people.  Earlier this week a strong smell – likely generated by one of my fellow patrons – scared me out.  Instead of sticking around to fold my dry laundry, I threw it in the laundry basket and high-tailed it home..

The Laundromat - Josies - is also conveniently located next to a donut shop – great for your weekend washing sustenance.

I haven't done the math, but am pondering this question:  Do you even need to own your own washer/dryer?  Obviously the convenience of in-home laundry can't be beat.  But it would be interesting to sit down and figure out the cost of wash/dry – how many loads, etc – water, electric – risk of hassle due to breaking and repairs for the own-your-own crowd.  Just a thought.

Soups On! (Well - not for a few more hours)

I’m making soup stock with leftover ham roast (great bone) that I had originally cooked in slow cooker with LOTS of brown sugar.  In addition to the bone, I had saved at least two cups of the juice – ham drippings.  I wonder how “sweet” the soup will taste?  Should that influence the ultimate soup?  I was thinking lentil soup – or maybe potato?  There’s always the old standby, split pea and ham.  

Monday, April 01, 2013

Wake Up

Last night I spent part of the night down stairs on the couch, not because Shana had kicked me out of bed, but for reasons related to the dog. 

Duke needed to go out at 1:45 a.m.   Recent health issues have made him very thirsty, and he has trouble getting up and down stairs so I decided to keep him down stairs in the kitchen – near the water dish – and the back door.  I slept on the couch.

Shortly before waking this morning, I dreamed I was staying at the home of a grown-up John-John.  I was sleeping on a fold-out couch/bed.  Their kid (my grandchild) was trying to wake me up.  She – I believe it was a girl – was jumping up and down on me to roust me.  When I awoke, Roscoe our cat was sitting on my chest licking my face.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Not in Palm Springs Anymore

Sigh.  Oh well.

We flew home Friday, but getting dressed for this morning's walk in 10 degree weather reminded me that we had indeed left sunny southern California.

That's a lotta layers.  And to think I went running earlier this week wearing only a pair of running shorts.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Palm Spring - Continued

Lots of pool time today - with a high temperature of 97 - you're not in Minnesota anymore baby!

Yesterday’s hike on the Lykken South Trail came up short as Shana had forgotten to take a puff on her inhaler – and I wasn’t so interested in scurrying over the switchbacks up that hot dry mountain all by myself.   Abandoning Lykeen, we resorted to Plan B – the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve – less strenuous – somewhat cooler – and a nice breeze.

Big Morongo was fun.  In the canyon was a wetland.  Hard to believe we’d find a wetland in the desert, but there it was, complete with cattails and a bog.  In just over an hour of walking/hiking, we saw the bog, as well as some desert elevation.  It was quite a diverse environment tucked into the valley.

The Birthday Boy got to choose the dinner location, and we went to the Blue Coyote Grill.

Today dawned warmer with hints of the heat to come.  While Shana, John, and Sue headed off to the Living Desert Zoo, Maria, Uncle John, and I remained at home.  Maria and John made brownies; I went off for a run – yes, a run.  That makes two runs in one week – plus two days of hiking in-between.  I could certainly exercise more if I didn’t have a full-time job. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

TheEarth Moved Under My Feet

Birthday – 51 years old.   The first year that my Mom won’t call to remind me how snowy it was that week in March 1962.  My Dad – in order to keep busy while he nervously awaited my arrival – shoveled all the time.  The pictures my parents snapped showed snow banks along the driveway almost as tall as my Dad – 6 foot 2. 

There is no snow where I sit today.  Palm Springs – beautiful weather as usual.  It is about this time yesterday that I experienced my first earthquake.  I was sitting poolside – as I am in the picture above – when water started leaking out of the sprinkler system sprayers in a funny way.  Within seconds, I heard the windows on the house rattling.  I stood up only to feel the ground kind of roll under my feet – a very weird feeling when standing on concrete.  It was over in about 20 seconds.  The in-laws – longtime San Fran residents – said it was a long one.  It turned out to be 4.7 on the Richter Scale.  It was an “interesting” experience.  I’m glad I got that out of the way – but not looking forward to my next earthquake. 

Plans are being made for one hike or another.  Yesterday we hiked a 3 mile loop in Indian Canyon.
My one big fear when climbing the sides of these steep hills and mountains is that I will fall off.  Only some of the trails present real falling opportunities, but I still feel the need to cling to the surface.  I fear that if I launched myself by leaping into the air, I would take off, alternately tumbling down the hill and flying through the air.  Like I do in my dreams.

I don’t experience these dreams as often anymore, but I still occasionally have “The Flying Dream”.  In that dream I am able to leap up into the air and by flapping my arms, fly around about 15 to 20 feet off the ground.  It’s a rather peaceful – and empowering – sensation. 

Anyway - on with the day - time to wake up Maria so we can hike before it hits 90 !! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Early Spring

Nothing says early spring like a little sunburn.

We are in Palm Springs for spring break again this year.  Arrived yesterday about 8:30 - which means we woke up around 3:00 AM in Minnesota (or 2:00 if you consider the time change).  The kids pulled an "all nighter", preferring to remain awake watching SNL and then some other junk until it was time to leave for the airport.  Shana and I were raring to go - after about 3 hours sleep.  It's amazing we made it in one piece.

It's good to be away- even if it's been only 24 hours.  I'm emotionally exhausted from dealing with my Mom's estate business.  We have cleared out her apartment and are awaiting various court proclamations giving me authority to sell the co-op, car, etc.  My Mom was very organized and we had several discussions about what to do "in case" something happened; that made things "easy" in that I never was confused or blocked because I didn't know what to do.

But knowing which steps to follow, what to do next, didn't make it easy.  The busy work probably even delays the grieving.  Top that off with some denial about how exhausting it is - and you've got an exhausted Hobbled Runner retreating to the desert southwest for some rest and relaxation.

Did I say "Hobbled" Runner?  I ran about 3 miles yesterday - not bad for a Hobbled guy - on only 3 hours sleep.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Memory Lane

Where do you start?  How do you begin how to cull through 80+ years of a life well-lived?  

This afternoon I was looking in drawers and up on shelves – trying to determine what was tucked away.  In one folder I came upon some interesting artifacts of my father’s.  Look – here’s the canceled check for their engagement ring. 

I also found a voter registration card from the City of Chicago.  My father lived in Chicago after the War, working for Liberty Mutual Insurance.  

52 Cedar Street – hmm?  What do you know, the place is still standing.

My Mom

It’s been a busy few days.   My mother had some heart troubles for a few years – but was controlling everything with medication.  She was active and mobile (driving herself) to the end.  We feared that she was getting worse the past several weeks – but she and the doctor were tinkering with her meds (blood thinners, etc) so things looked good.  I was surprised when the Edina Police called me while I was in a meeting on Wednesday.  She died suddenly at home – maybe Tuesday night – maybe Wednesday morning.

We have been busy with funeral arrangements, making plans for the future of her apartment, her car, furniture, etc.  

Here's Mom and the grand-kids at Christmas.