Monday, November 23, 2009


Today was one of those foggy, rainy, gray days that make you want to stay in bed all day with the covers pulled up over your head. Wish I could have done that.

Well, the last big move of stuff from the Cities House is now history. We packed up a 24 foot truck and still didn't get it all. My daughter managed to put more stuff in her closet than it could possible hold by bending space-time and borrowing a small black hole. It was like when the clowns keep getting out of the little car. When I finally had it empty, the detritus filled the entire family room. All of that is still in the house awaiting her arrival on Tuesday night.

Oh, the family that wanted to rent the house on the 25th ran into a snag with the sale of their house and lost out to a couple from Austin, TX that signed a year's lease - yea. They move in on Dec. 1 so I have a few extra days to clear the rest of the junk out.

Be that as it may, I am beat. If I didn't have to return the truck this morning I don't think I would have gotten out of bed. Part of the reason why is that all of the junk we brought up is now filling our garages so the cars are outside. We have no room in the house for all of the stuff. Looks like another storage locker is in my future. AND a large garage sale come spring.

I head back down south in a day or two and again after turkey day to continue the cleaning out of the old house. The garbage man is going to send his kid to college on my next payment.

I just keep thinking about those rent checks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Burying My Nuts

I am feeling the urge to hunker down and get my nest ready for winter. I am busy putting the winter wheels and tires on the White Whale and setting the wine cellar up as a root cellar and second pantry as well. Busy, busy.

There has been a milestone of sorts concerning the unsold southern abode. Someone wants to rent it for six months. Yea!! BUT, they want to take possession on the 25th OF THIS MONTH. This means I have four days to clean out the rest of my junk (and my kids junk), completely clean the house, and leave a day for contingency action. This is going to be interesting.

I leave for the southland on Thursday. Risa will follow on Friday. My son will drive down early Saturday. I will pick a big truck up at 10 AM Saturday and then the party will commence. Anyone who wants to help is welcome. I will provide food and beverages for the volunteers. I have also made plans to hire some muscle (young muscle) to help with the heavy lifting.

Once the truck has loaded, we will caravan north and do the process in reverse. Where we will put it all is an open questions. For those of you located here in dog's country, we would be happy to see you for the unloading party.

This is obviously a hastily put together plan and there will no doubt be wrinkles along the way. We will just have to remain relaxed and free wheeling throughout.

More later.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I made one of my quarterly pilgrimages to the medical mecca of Mayo yesterday to be poked, irradiated, and then the shaman read the bones. The news? I am now officially in "clinical remission," a state that I haven't seen for many years.

What does clinical remission mean? It means that there is no evidence of disease in either the scans or the chemistry found in the blood work. This is good news for someone in a phase II study. The drug is doing a good job in the fight against the lymphoma. And while it is a reason to celebrate, I also have to remember that I have been there before and the disease came back, as that is its nature. So, I am grateful to be here once again, but then I am grateful for every day.

It was a long day. We were up at 5 AM, making the drive down to Rochester in the dark to make my first appointment at 8 AM. Because there was a scan on the schedule, I could not eat until that was done. There was a bit of a problem getting an IV in for the dye injection. My veins are so skittish after all of these years that they all run away at the scent of alcohol.

Scans always make me feel weird. Part of it is the injected dye, which makes me nauseous, and part is the massive amount of radiation that bathes my body for the fifteen seconds I am sliding through the donut. Once that was done, we had a six hour wait until I saw the doctor giving us a chance to break our fast and for Risa to do some shopping while I tried to nap in one of the "barcoloungers" on the 10th floor of the Gonda building.

Waiting to see the doc is always a little nerve wracking. You never know what you will hear. Will it be good or will it be bad. Will you once again hear a death sentence couched in medical language that somehow puts you in the position of a piece of data that will be recorded in a ledger somewhere, not a human that will have to process the news into the framework of a living, feeling, fearing person.

On this day, the news was good and relief settled over me. We were not done however. Next was the wait for the pharmacy to produce another 3 months worth of drugs for me to take away with me. When that finally happened, we got the car out of hock and headed for the Twin Cities and home (well, the southern one any way).

There was a bit of celebrating done after that. Perhaps a little too much as I managed to drop a bottle of pink fingernail polish on the bathroom floor where it shattered (don't ask what I was doing with a bottle of pink fingernail polish). No one should have to try to clean up fingernail polish after celebrating the renewal of life. We ran out of polish remover and decamped to the bedroom where I knocked my full beer off the bedside table which caused me to use my one bath towel as a bar rag before the beer stained the hardwood. This presented a problem for me this morning since I needed to take a shower before we could do laundry.

All in all though, I would rather have to deal with these problems than with some others I can think of.

Hope you all have a good Friday the 13th.

Monday, November 09, 2009


The little dog and I just got back from a 12+K walk along some cross-country ski trails on the eastern edge of the city. This is one of the things I moved back to Duluth for - the amazing availability of parks and trails throughout the city. Go a few blocks in any direction and chances are you will come across a trail dedicated to those who travel on their own two (and four(and a few three's)) legs.

The place we were today is nestled between two rivers that join just before emptying into Lake Superior. The wedge of land containing the trails rises some four hundred feet vertically from its lowest point to its highest. There are hiking trails, groomed ski trails, and snowmobile trails all coexisting as they take the traveler through a series of micro climes, each with its own mix of vegetation.

After finishing our hike, we returned to the car and traveled up the road that marks the western boundary of the park. It is called Seven Bridges Road due to its twisting path that crosses and recrosses Amity Creek on its way up the hill. Eventually, this road links to the eastern terminus of Duluth's Skyline Parkway, a twisty drive that attempts to go from one end of Duluth to the other along the edge of what was once a massive mountain range. The little stretch that we traveled today is also known as Hawk Ridge - so named for both the watchers and the raptors that frequent its crown.

Its a beautiful day here. Not a cloud in the sky and temps in the fifties (bout 14 C for the rest of the world). Perfect for walking.

Having said that, here I am sitting in a dark corner of the house typing on the computer. What I should be doing is trying to move stuff around the garages so that all of the car maintenance stuff is located in the lower garage and all of the camping/skiing stuff is located in the upper. This will involve much moving of things into and out of the station wagon as I drive back and forth from one garage to the next. If I had been thinking (and held the winning lotto ticket) I would have put in an elevator.

Oh well, enough procrastinating. I am off to do it.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Can You Say "Mentally Deficient?"

I can't help it. To see the best in today's home grown art and crafts go here.


So, the afternoon of the morning that Sophie departed, we left on a seven hour drive to Sheboygan to check on Risa's Mom's house (they are in India for 10 months) and to attend the Kohler Food and Wine Festival, which was a salve of a kind for the loss of such a dear companion. There was much good food and libation and lots of activities to bend the mind away from sorrow.

No sooner back in Duluth and I had to head to the Cities to have a couple of business discussions and check on the empty house down there. I have decided to try to rent it and hope to find a transferred executive who would like to sign a six to twelve month lease and see what the housing market looks like then. The rental market for up-scale houses is also down but I figure I have little to lose on this.

Then I was back just in time for Halloween, but had to get a piece of my neck whacked out first. My initial visit to a dermatologist up here resulted in a biopsy of a previous biopsy site that turned up a small basal cell carcinoma, so I had to go back and have a quarter-sized disk of skin snipped out. We didn't have a quarter-sized replacement handy so the doc just stitched the thing closed in a straight line, trying to keep it in line with the wrinkles she assured me will come with time. While this was a practical approach, it has left me feeling a bit tight in that spot and makes me turn my whole body instead of just my neck. It makes driving a bit of a challenge.

For Halloween, we did the traditional pumpkin/gourd carving and passed out loot to the goblins at the door before heading to a big person party at what used to be the trading floor of the Duluth Exchange many years ago. I was a little disappointed that the lights were so dim because we had taken great care to draw two vampire punctures dripping blood on the bandage that covered my little neck surgery. No one noticed.

Since then we have been doing the usual. Risa works Monday through Wednesday (and part of Thursday and Friday usually) while I think about all of the chores that I could be doing if I were not sitting in front of the computer all day reading emails, checking on FaceBook, or blogging as I am doing now.

Actually, I am in mid-chore as I do this. I am draining the rain barrels for the winter so we don't have giant ice cubes that explode their containers. Two down and one to go.

Last night we had a bit of an emergency when I went out to our worm farm in the garage to find all of the worms desperately trying to escape their home which had become too dense and damp for their liking. In addition to the mass escape attempt, the whole bin smelled bad. Not good news.

My rescue attempt involved tearing unbleached paper towels into strips that blanketed the soggy mixture, absorbing some of the excess moisture and providing some additional bedding for the little red wigglers. Today, I added more of the torn paper and will follow up with some crushed egg shells as soon as I cook up some eggs. I might have to divide the farm in two and start another bin. Don't know. All vermiculture suggestions welcome.

So long for now. Have to get busy for our "world dinner party tonight." Ciao.