Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Everywhere Sky

If ever there was a doubt as to my being a flatlander by birth let it be put to rest.

This is the view from the window of the bedroom I called my own while growing up in Mid-Michigan. There are a few less trees and the wind turbines are a recent addition, but this was/is home.

The big news while we were there was Dad's sugarbeets were harvested.

Farming has changed much in during my sixty plus years on the planet.

Of course, I never need an excuse to go back to Michigan and visit my Dad. Still, this time we did have one. Some folks came up with an idea for a 5K timed obstacle event utilizing agricultural themes for the obstacles. I thought it a great idea and wanted to see it. Heather toyed with the idea of running in the event, but decided she'd rather observe this year and if there is a next maybe give it a go then.

It was a whirlwind trip. We arrived late Thursday evening. Friday we scouted out the venue for the race. This is what the weather was doing when we got there. None of the snow stuck. Heather was not regretting her decision not to run.

We spent the rest of Friday driving around. I had the idea of taking a photo of the great mounds of sugarbeets waiting their trip to the processing plant. I forgot they just look like giant piles of dirt. Impressive? Yes, in a way. Photogenic? Not in the least. I took a pass on my idea,

I did see this old shed. There aren't many older out buildings left in my Dad's neck of the woods. There isn't the need for them with no livestock and the grain, corn, and beans being stored at the elevators. The few left are either immaculately taken care of, or more often, falling down.

Saturday was race day and it dawned clear and cold. Temperatures were in the low 20F's.

Even though we didn't race, we had ordered shirts. The real participants got a bag of goodies. As we were waiting around Heather was regretting her decision. She looked at me ten minutes after we got there and said, "I should have run this thing."

Did I mention it was cold? Actually, it wasn't bad for those of us layered up for being sedentary, but it looked like not much fun for the racers. They weren't dressed for standing around.

And then they were off.

It seemed the first obstacle was one of the hardest.

Heather is trying to figure out a way to practice this before next year.

Some of the other obstacles were crawling under barbwire, carry buckets filled with water, running with rectangular bales of straw ...

There was flipping tractor tires ...

Climbing up one end of a truck full of shelled corn, running its length, and then climbing back up and out ...

Pushing a wheelbarrow around a sandy corral ...

And crawling through culverts.

From what I overheard the participants had a blast. There only complaint was how cold it was. The organizers had already made it known they are planning on moving the date of the event to earlier in the year. Heather is still psyched and I have to admit a wee twinge. I mean it could be an interesting way to celebrate turning sixty-five.

After a couple of hours in the cold it was back in the car for the ten hour trip home.

Goodbye flatlands. Goodbye wind turbines. And, mostly, goodbye everywhere sky.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Carondelet Park

Autumn is here, but mostly the colors are just beginning.

Sunday was gorgeous. Lots of blue sky, but plenty of clouds to add interest.

I thought these clouds looked a little like Kanji

Lots of folks were fishing in the Lake and the pond.

If you look close you can even see a couple of fishing lines in the bottom corner of this photo.

Billie enjoying a view of Horseshoe Lake.

I do so love the slow ride.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It Is The Weirdest Thing

It is the weirdest thing. When I drive over to visit my son and his family I take a wrong turn nearly every time. When my Daughter was in town and driving us to my Son's house I had her turn at the wrong place. Yet, when I ride I go directly there. What's my take on this? It is more proof of my mind being more engaged and functioning from a different place when I'm riding. Chris, over at Everyday Riding, has told me there was a study done in Japan showing those who commute to work on their motorcycles had a lower incidence of Alzheimer's than those who drive. He linked it for me, but I can't find it. Hopefully he'll pipe up.

My Daughter during her recent visit commented on her biggest worry about my brain injury is the unset of dementia. My response? What can I do except live my life? I'm definitely a candidate for having Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), but since it can only be definitively diagnosed postmortem I'm in no hurry to find out. CTE and Alzheimer's are different maladies. One birthed of trauma, the other not. Both progressive.

There is so much known about brain trauma ... and so little. For now, I can be grateful for how my brain works when I'm riding. And, I am. I can, also, be grateful for my ability to bring the place my mind is in when I'm riding to other parts of my life. And, I am.

I will try to always ride to visit my precious ones for as long as I am able and know who they are.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Memorial Day Story

Last Fall the Condo Association decided to remove a wall from the one time fountain now planter which sets in our front yard. It was falling down. It was going to be very expensive to repair and the decision was made to tear it down. There really wasn't any plan as to what to do with the space afterwards.

One of the things Heather misses about not living in a house with a yard is being able to garden. She decided to take matters into her own hands.

The mission for Memorial Day Weekend was to make this look good.
She loves getting her hands in the dirt. Me? Not so much. I was the heavy lifter. By Saturday evening she had accomplished quite a bit.

She wanted to add some more annuals and it still needed more mulch. Mulch means me.

Early Sunday afternoon I headed to the garden supply store to buy three more bags of mulch, which brings me to the story.

I noticed him when I came into the store. He was an African-American gentlemen of about my age. His tee-shirt said, "Marines" on it, as did his hat.

While waiting to checkout I saw him again. He was in the other line. He was buying a flat of petunias. When I got to my car, there he was again. We were parked next to one another. I could have kept my mouth shut, but those of you who know me know that wasn't likely. "There's nothing I like better than seeing a Marine with his petunias," I said. Thankfully, he chuckled. "Happy Memorial Day," I said next and then added, "That doesn't sound right, but I think you know what I mean. Thank you."

"Well," he said, "I tell folks when you see a veteran my age you can assume he served in Vietnam. It's okay to say 'thank you' to us, but better to say, 'Welcome home'."

I walked over to him. "I need to tell you about something." I went on to tell him about my daughter.

My daughter lives in Norfolk, Virginia and in addition to being an electrical engineer employed by the Navy, she sings in the Virginia Symphony Chorus. One of their performances each year is during the Virginia International Tattoo.  I explained to him a Tattoo was a military show with lots of drill teams, bag pipes, patriotic songs, and other military themed performances. This year the Tattoo made a special point of honoring Vietnam veterans and their families. At her performances just before the Armed Forces Medley the master of ceremonies asked all the Vietnam veterans to stand and be recognized. And, then the MC said to them, "Welcome home."

I, also, felt I needed to tell him she told me many of them broke down and cried. Why did I feel this need? Because he was crying.

I put out my hand. He took it. I shook his hand and said, "Welcome home." With his left hand he grabbed my right arm between the elbow and the shoulder. I responded by putting my left hand on his right shoulder. He looked at me, really looked at me, squeezed my arm hard enough I thought he might leave marks, and said, "Thank you."

We let go of each other. He went to his car. I went to mine. We drove off. I never did get his name and I suspect I will never see him again, but I'm positive I was supposed to see him when I did.

By the way, here's Heather's finished project.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cahokia Mounds

Heather and I spent the day at Cahokia Mounds Saturday. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can click here to learn more.

At one time these were the doors one used to enter the Interpretive Center. They are cast bronze and very heavy. They have stopped using them. They were very heavy. They have stopped using them. There are more easily managed doors on either side of these monsters now. Not so functional, but beautiful.

This is one of the conical mounds.

The large mound's base is bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza.

On a clear day the view from the top of the large mound gives a great view of the St.Louis City Skyline. Unfortunately it was hazy Saturday

One of the reconstructions is called "Woodhenge". It is a circle of poles around a center pole. They are pretty certain it was used as a calelndar and there are gatherings here at the Solstices. This is the pole in the center of the circle of poles.

Signs of the past seasons are still with us.

And, of course, there was Cake.
I love this place.