Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Help. My Brain Fell Out

I was running around headless earlier today, trying to get chores done before packing my poop into a couple of saddle bags and heading off on a three day journey that would take me south to Rochester, back to the Twin Cities, and finally to the Wheels & Wings show in Osceola, WI.  As I was packing up one bag, I grabbed my appointment sheet for the Mayo and glanced at the date.  Hmmmmm, September 26. Not September 6.

Once again I have fallen prey to my own shortcomings.   Sigh.

On the bright side, I can sail tonight in the Wednesday Night Races - always a plus. Nothing like a nice sail on the big lake with the sun shining down, the scrambles in the cockpit, and the sipping of barley pop when possible.

I am still heading down to the Cities on Friday to visit a couple of friends who are going through some rough patches.  And I will be going to the W&W show where I will enter the sidecar rig in the motorcycle category.  Then home again.

They say summer is over, but you wouldn't know it by looking out the window.  The hop vines are bursting with cones, the morning glories are strutting their stuff, and the squash plants are still on strike.

The kids are back in school. One a sophomore at the U. of M. in Minneapolis, and the other doing Teach for America in Chicago.  Hope to get down to visit her soon.

What else can I say?  It's the political silly season once again.  The leaves are starting to turn.  My skier friends are talking about new skis, swaps, and hill politics.

I'm looking forward to long walks in the woods with my trusty sidekick, Killer, the ten pound poodle.

Seems like a paltry blog entry upon inspection, but it will have to do.  Ta ta.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Surviving the Flood

Well, now I'm in trouble. Blogger has changed and I don't have the faintest idea of what this will look like.

The spectacular weather of the past week has caused many folks to contact me with inquiries about our health, the condition of our home, and general expressions of WTF regarding the news coverage of my dear home town.

For those living under a rock, a massive, 500 year event occured over the past few days. Ten plus inches of rain fell on the region over a 3 day period.  Up to two inches an hour fell during the most intense periods. The effect of that quantity of water falling on ground that was already saturated produced some spectacular results.

Most, but not all, of Duluth is built on a hillside. Water always seeks lower ground so all of the millions billions of gallons of water made haste to the lowest point around, Lake Superior.  There are all kinds of images floating around the infernalnet that document the destruction.  Wherever there was a culvert it likely is no longer there as well as whatever was on top of it.  Railroad grades used by the taconite industry to carry product down to the lake for shipment are now just twisted masses of metal ribbon at the bottom of new gully's.  The parts of Duluth and the surrounding country side that are more or less flat became instant lakes, flooding homes, businesses, and schools. One little kid got sucked into an underground aqueduct and appeared 6 blocks down the hill - unharmed.  Lake Superior rose 4 inches in two days.  One inch of surface water is equal to 553 billion gallons of water.  You do the math.

The most amazing thing about this event is that no one died (that we know of).  People are displaced, inconvenienced, and financially hurt, but no one died.

The projected bill for the damage done is over 100 million dollars and climbing. This is not helpful for a region already struggling with financial challenges.  We are a tough group up here though and we will pull through.

So, for those of you who are curious about my personal well being, we all came through unharmed and the house is intact.  My little neighborhood appears to be relatively unscathed. Partially due to the fact that we are bordered on either side by two "creeks" that normally channel water down to the lake.  They took the brunt of the impact, sparing most of the streets and dwellings in between.  We did marvel at the shear quantity of rain that fell on us almost constantly for two days.  The poor little poodle had to dash out in times of relative calm to do her business.

The big lake, normally a crystal clear blue is now looking like the world's largest latte.  So much sediment was carried down by the floodwater's.

I haven't been posting much here because I am enjoying life and don't feel like there is all that much to write about.  I should have retired 30 years ago (wait, I basically acted like I was retired 30 years ago).  I putter around the house, take the dog for walks, occasionally do my Honeydew lists, and enjoy living where I do.

My health is still holding.  I go down to the Mayo next week for my regular quarterly checkup.  I never know what that will bring so there is always some anxiety involved.  Several of my friends are going through their own battles with cancer.  Some new at it, some old vets and I lend my support where I can.

If you REALLY miss updates, give me a shout and I will jot something down.  Till next time - don't take things for granted.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blogger Mail

I was reminded by a fellow blogger that I had not posted in some time. I am not alone in this. Many of the blogs I have followed for years have gone dead or fallow. I suppose that Face Book and Twitter have carried away many of us over into methods of more immediate communication. I still check on my blogger friends, but not as frequently as I used to.

It is almost four months since my hip replacement and for the most part, it is a transparent part of me. I feel like I walk a little differently. Not sure if I limp or not. Risa makes me limp if I park in a handicap spot and use my placard. This is something I do only if there is no other option, but if she is with me, she will tell me to limp so that she is not embarrassed to be seen exiting a car parked in such fashion.

The hip recovery process got me to buy a membership in a local fitness center where I work out about 3 times per week. At first, this was to strengthen my right leg, which had lost significant muscle mass over the time leading up to my surgery. Now it is a combination of strength training and cardio. The part I enjoy the most is the sauna however. That alone is worth the price of admission.

I am back skiing and patrolling at our local hill. I was uncertain how a hip replacement would affect this, but I seem to be as able now as I was before, which is good because I am scheduled to head out to Colorado shortly for our annual Ski Kamp. Kind of a lousy year to have bought a season pass for Summit County, but you never can tell what the weather will be like.

I also just got back from my quarterly visit to the Mayo where I received a clean bill of health on the cancer front. I can't tell you how lucky I feel about this. I have been at the "end of the road" treatment wise so many times and here I am in remission due to an experimental study. Who would have guessed.

The family is good. My daughter graduates from college this spring and has been accepted into the Teach for America program. She is scheduled to teach inner city high school in Chicago next year. I am sure this will be a huge new challenge, and an eye opener for her.

My son is in his first year of college and is finding his path as we all must do. I am curious how this will play out, but I guess I will just have to wait to see.

One of my brothers is scheduled to have the same hip surgery as I did at the end of this month. His surgeon is the same one that popped in my new hip. Now I will get to play the role of cheerleader and support person. I hope he finds the same relief as I did.

So, that's about it for now. Thanks for all of you who have stuck with me over this journey and I hope that we have a long way to go. Cheers.

Friday, October 21, 2011


It is three weeks now since I got my new hip. The recovery is going well. No bone pain, just soft tissue soreness and lingering bruising. I walk with a cane that is used mostly for balance rather than a support. I am grateful that this has worked as well as it did.

I am also thoughtful about the circumstances that allowed me to have this expensive procedure without adding a mortgage to my house or selling a child into bondage. I feel ashamed that I live in a country where I am privileged, able to do this while others cannot.

I look at our country and truly believe that it is not the same one I grew up in. When did our national priorities grow so askew? How is it that the resources of one of the greatest nations on earth are devoted to war (undeclared), and to the rich rather than to health, education, infrastructure, and the general well being of the nation? I am not sure how we got here, but I know what it is that lead us - greed.

I look at us (the nation) and I see the problems, but I do not know how to solve them. Our system of government is not working. Our congress is deadlocked and either committed to party dogma, or incompetent when it comes to trying to solve the nation's problems. How do we fix this?

People are demonstrating on Wall Street and around the country, but what will that really do? We need to abolish the current system. I do not believe that it can be repaired. It is too entrenched in polarizing, moneyed interests that work not for the common good, but for the financial sources that provide the funding. How to change this?

I guess that I am feeling so frustrated because I do not see a way to get beyond our current position. Do any of you see a way? If you have an idea, I would surely like to hear it.

Enough with the complaining. On the health front, as far as I know, things are good. My hip condition continues to improve at a good rate. I go to the Mayo next week for a regular checkup which will involve the dreaded, but necessary CT scan to see what's happening inside. Wish me luck. I'll let you know what's up when I find out.

Ta ta.

Friday, September 02, 2011

End of Summer Ponderings

I am sorry old blog for ignoring you so long. It's not that I don't visit and read the blogs of my online friends, I do, but I seldom feel inspired enough to write on my own.

The summer here by the giant inland sea has passed in a blur. I started out with the best of intentions to do volunteer work for various local museums, but found that other events were superseding my plans in that area. I have done a few shows on the local college FM station, but not as many as I had hoped.

I bought a motorcycle and side-car rig that I found on fleabay and flew down to hotter-than-hell Texas to drive it back and Risa, Saffron, and I have been making good use of it whenever time and weather allow. Just last weekend we went over to Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands off the Bayfield peninsula in Wisconsin. Madeline Island was a holy place for the First People and much of that magic still remains. The only town on the island is named La Pointe and it was there that we stayed with an old friend that I reconnected with after 18 years. It was a very nice and relaxing time.

It has been a summer of teenage invasions here at the casa on the hill. My daughter made a surprise decision to return home for the summer. Cousins arrived from the east and west coasts for the annual Blues Fest reunion. Stray college kids bunked with us for a while before returning to their various places of learning.

As of a few days ago, the house is now empty and teen free. The daughter went back to Madison and the son left for his freshman year at the University of Minnesota. Now it is just me and the critters rambling around like marbles in a shoe box.

One thing that has cropped up that was not planned is the death of my right hip. I started to feel discomfort in that hip around the beginning of summer which continued to intensify as time went by. X-rays showed the presence of arthritis, but a failed cortisone injection and significantly increased pain led to an MRI which showed necrosis of the ball of the joint. This is caused by insufficient blood flow to the bone and will not improve. I now walk painfully with a cane and am suddenly mobility challenged.

This has made my participation in the theater much more difficult. I am in a play that is currently in rehearsals and will open in mid September for two weekend runs. I am committed to doing this which has meant a delay in having my hip fixed. I am ingesting strong pain meds like they come out of a pez dispenser. Currently I am scheduled for a total hip replacement on October 18. Hopefully I can get in a little sooner.

That's about all folks. I'll let you know how the play goes and give you a blow-by-blow account of the hip replacement as it develops. Have a good end of summer, all.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 3

Today was not nearly as adventurous as yesterday. Today was mostly a lot of freeway type driving interrupted in the morning with the deluge that I had been avoiding for day's 1 and 2. I finally had a chance to test both the machine and the outfit that I had bank rolled in some serious water and wind.

I am happy to report that the "stich" suit (a one-piece roadcrafter made in Duluth by Aerostich) performed beautifully, which was good because I have been hauling its not insubstantial weight through hell and back for days now. It finally paid off. It's other benefit is to protect me should I have to make an unexpected exit from the seat of the bike at speed - a test I will gratefully put off for now.

As for the rig, I have learned that it is a lot more work to move a hack through the twisty turnies than a regular two-wheeler, but put in the middle of blinding rain and hellatious wind, it is an island of stability. Score for the hack.

There were no "Deliverance" moments today. Today I was trying to cover ground, eat up them miles. The land I covered was mostly farms and sporadic forest. Late in the day, I reached Highway 61 and the Mississippi. Almost home.

I am again nearly nekkid, ensconced in a motel room fighting exhaustion. Today I was in the saddle only 10 hours as opposed to yesterday's 12, but it all adds up. Tomorrow I shoot for the Twin Cities in hopes of attending the Blind Lizard Motorcycle Rallye on Sunday, Father's Day.

Originally, I had hoped to be in Duluth at this time so I could work the finish line of Grandma's Marathon tomorrow morning. Guess that won't happen. No regrets though. This has been a hell of a trip and I am glad that I was able to do it.

Will post more tomorrow and also some pics. Too tired to do so now.

With love, D

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What a Day

Today is Day 2 of the Great Motorcycle Trip North and I have been in the saddle over 12 hours. Now, I'm sitting nekkid in a motel right off of Hwy 65 in Springfield, MO, showered, beered, and recovering.

Oh, OK, the back-story. I have had a motorcycle (a 1973 BMW R60/5 SWB (short wheel base) toaster tank) since about 1980. I used to ride a lot. Take off for months at a time kind of thing. Then I got married and since I don't like to ride with a passenger, and C didn't like to ride at all, the whole biking thing was kind of a non starter. Therefore, I have had a classic towel rack in my garage lo these many years.

Jump to the present. The R60 is still a towel rack, BUT Marisa wants to ride in a side car. Who knew? So, I started looking around for something along those lines and stumbled across one on flea-bay. Just for kicks I threw in a couple of bids. I hit my limit before the auction ended and saw the next day that it ended before the reserve was met. I shrugged and went on my way when a couple of days later I got a phone call.

The guy on the other end of the line had a drawl that you could cold patch your driveway with. He said that he worked for the seller of the bike I bid on two days previous and even though I wasn't the highest bidder, he knew that I was very interested because I had requested all sorts of technical details about the rig, and therefore, he wanted to sell it to me, if I could only bump my offer up five or eight hundred dollars.

I thanked him for his concern about my clearly out of control interest in his machine, but I had hit my limit when I stopped bidding. He proceeded to plead in a polite Texas manner until I ended by saying that I would think about it after I had talked it over with a few people. I promised to call him back and then I went on my way again.

Later that same day I received a second call from the same guy. He said, "OK, we'll give it to you for your last bid price. Do you want it or not? We have another guy - the highest bidder - who now wants to get in on the deal." I stood there speechless for a long minute until the gent at the other end started saying, "Hello. Hello. Are you there?"

Now, this deal was fraught with peril. If I went down this road, it was going to complicate my life in multiple dimensions. Plus, I had a perfectly good (if somewhat out of tune) beemer in my garage already. What to do, what to do? Why go for it of course.

Skip ahead several weeks to yesterday when I rose at 4:30 AM after getting a ride to the big cities to our south, got in a cab and flew to Dallas/Fort Worth where it was the same temperature as hell, to pick up this rig:

That's me in the sun when it was 105 fucking degrees Fahrenheit as I giddily gave the thumbs up to the camera as I embarked upon a 1,400 mile journey north having never driven a side-car rig in my life. Needless to say, it has been an interesting journey.

The ride east across Texas was gruelling. I had to stop frequently to rehydrate and to soak my T-shirt in cold water before donning it again, hoping that the evaporation would lower my internal temps before I hard boiled my liver. When I finally left the freeway and the monster semi rigs and headed north into Arkansas, things lightened up a bit. No one was trying to drive me off the road for example. I made it to De Queen, AK, a town that is inhabited entirely by Mexicans as far as I can tell, where I found a room, peeled off the clothes that were now packed solid with salt from my body, took a shower, and hobbled off to find sustenance and a beer.

Guess what? It's a dry county - hooray! Fuck. Had to settle for a bad Mexican dinner made for gringos and then returned to the motel with the best of intentions for a productive evening of journalling and such. Fell right to sleep.

And a good thing it was too, because this morning I awoke at 6 AM and was on the road 45 minutes later. After 12 hours of fun and adventures exploring some of the more remote parts of Arkansas, I am now again in a motel trying to share a little of my trip.

Some people who shall go unmentioned have accused me of slacking because my accumulated mileage does not add up to their expectations. In my own defense, I have to insist that I did my best, but Mother Nature has thrown all sorts of obstacles in my way. Such as small, hilly, steep back roads where I would go for miles without seeing any sign of human existence (should have been a clue). Such as this one:

That's a one-lane bridge barely wide enough for the bike and the side-car. This is the river it crossed:

So there I was, traipsing across the back roads in the Ozarks thinking "this looks just like the movie Deliverance" when the pavement ran out.

It was too far to go back and I only had another ten or twelve miles to go before I hit a bigger road, so I decided to push on. Can you hear the base drums pounding like they did in "Jaws?" Everything when kind of OK until the surface of the road changed to giant rocks embedded in the dirt. What kind of idiot dumps giant rocks on a dirt road? Well, I decided moments later, it was the "idiot" who was trying to keep passing vehicles from being consumed by the quick-sand like behavior of the road which had now turned to clay. How bad could that be?

Turns out that motorcycle tires are skinnier than car or truck tires and they were just the right size to sink down in the ooze and pick up great heaving globs of red dirt clay with every revolution. Another difference between cars and motorcycles is that a car has about a foot of clearance between the tire and the fender which would allow for a lot of mud to build up. Not so on the bike.

What you can't see in the photo is all of the mud packed up under the fender. The result? The wheel she no spin any more. Hmmmm.

After trying to clean the demon dirt out with various implements and several false starts, it becomes clear - the fender must come off. And so it was - only not that quickly.

And here is the guilty party (no, not me, silly):

I eventually made it out of the Deliverance set without an arrow through the chest and soon found a town with a spray car wash to blast the stubborn (and now baked-on mud) out of the various nooks and crannies of the bike. I only lost one mounting bolt down the car wash drain when re-attaching the front fender.

It's been quite the day for sure. Just outside of Needmore, AK, I passed a shack with two nearly naked boys standing on the front porch. The older, taller one tracked me with a long gun as I rode by. I couldn't tell what kind.

Coming around another corner, I startled a golden eagle at it's dinner and watched it lift off with powerful strokes of its wings.

The country I have traveled through has been beautiful (if muddy) and the people have all been very nice. Even the gun boy missed if he indeed did shoot.

Tomorrow I have a lot of big highway driving (my least favorite on a bike) to get to Hannibal, MO where I will pick up the Mississippi and follow it north. Till then, I bid adieu.