Monthly Archives: August 2013

“Silent No More” walk/run 2013

Lucy and I participated in 2011 and I did it alone last year. This year I have at least eight people joining me and would gladly welcome more! There is still time to register or donate. Please take the time to do so. Ovarian cancer strikes 1 in 74 women. This doesn’t sound like many, but for far too many women, their diagnosis is either in late stages or after they are metastatic. The cancer forms deep within the abdomen and is difficult to detect. There is no accurate single test to detect ovarian cancer. The CA125 test, named after Cancer Antigen 125, is better used as an indicator of how a cancer battle is progressing rather than as a diagnostic aid. CA125 levels can be influenced by other abdominal organs, like a kidney infection, for example. Abdominal ultrasound exams may prove beneficial, but there is some disagreement on how effective the ultrasound is at detecting cancer in its early stages and if annual ultrasound exams pose any long-term health risks. Lucy showed absolutely no symptoms other than some abdominal tightness that appeared to be a result of a new exercise routine. Her body was hiding several pounds of tumors and untold millions of cancer cells slowly infesting her abdomen. Ovarian cancer is truly a silent killer which is why we need to be Silent No More.

We might grumble about the unseasonable hot and humid weather stifling the Twin Cities area, but I have relatives living very close to the Rim Fire in northern California. As of this writing, the fire has affected over 301 square miles. This would have burned the entire county St. Paul, MN is in plus about ¼ of the county Minneapolis, MN is in. Other articles have indicated the fire area is about the size of Chicago, IL. For all the dominion humankind supposedly has over our planet, we keep getting humbling reminders of how small we really are. Thousands of people are risking their lives to fight this conflagration, and thousands more are in harm’s way if the fire suddenly grows and changes course. Please pray for the fire’s quick end and for those affected by the blaze.

Give your loved ones an extra hug and try to keep cool!

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Filed under rebuilding, weather

Orange barrels and blue language

Fall colors in Minnesota are breathtaking. In the Twin Cities metro area we have a vast color palette for our pleasure. Sugar maples show off brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges while oaks turn burgundy or brown. It is nature’s last hurrah before everything smothers in a deep white shroud.

Summer also have a varied color selection. The primary colors are blue in the lakes (and green in stagnant waters) and greens from the trees. We also have orange barrels causing red-faced drivers with white knuckles on the steering while cussing up a blue streak. My preference is nature’s colors, but as of late I have had to endure MnDOT’s artistry.

The Twin Cities metro area has the confluence of three large rivers, the Mississippi, the Minnesota, and the Saint Croix. In addition, the Crow Wing merges with the Minnesota in the far western metro. There are several hundred other lakes, smaller rivers, and creeks which pose highway building challenges along with sharp elevation changes from the river valleys to the more populous areas. Nearly all the major routes in the southern metro are undergoing maintenance or construction at this time. The soggy start to our summer impacted many projects with the unintended consequence of stacking critical projects on top of one another. Of course, the MnDOT management mindset of “Cripes! We have budget to burn before the end of the year! Uff da!” never helps. That is why so many projects seem to start in mid to late June.

The next few weeks will test the native’s patience. Summer’s imminent end is when the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and Minnesota State Fair begin and the U of M begins welcoming students for fall quarter. The onslaught of tens of thousands of out-of-town drivers relying on out-of-date maps, or GPS apps that do not factor in traffic or construction, or a GPS that has not been updated in several weeks, adds to the challenge. For those of you wishing the visit the Renaissance Festival from the south, you should be OK. Getting to the State Fair will require extra planning. Check with the before hitting the road. The gas you save will be your own.

Roads and bridges are not the only things in need of routine maintenance. Relationships work best with some TLC time. Planning some quality time with your special someone prevents bigger problems down the road (pardon the pun). Keep the communication open and remember your family and friends are there to help. Sometimes life causes unavoidable delays or an emergency repair arises. You will be far better equipped to handle the problem by tackling it together.

Update your GPS device or app before getting on the road. For you smart phone users, try a free  app called Waze, which is available for all major smart phone types (search for it in your app store). If you rely on maps, ensure they are not hand drawn and have phrases like “Hic sunt dracones” (Here there be dragons) and “Terra incognito” (Unknown land), or they were from your local Hupmobile dealer; if so, please donate them to your local historical society and buy new ones. Give your special someone a meaningful hug and enjoy nature’s colors.


Filed under rebuilding

Remembering Bob at one year

My father-in-law, Bob, passed away one year ago today. Please keep Steve, Suzy, and Julie in your thoughts and prayers today.

Bob was quick to help out and Lucy and I always seemed to have projects underway. He was eager to help and I always enjoyed the help. Lucy trusted my judgment but she still relied on Bob’s opinions, knowledge, and experiences. I never minded the second opinion and I would not hesitate to ask for his counsel.

I enjoyed his company when Bob and Betty would stay with Lucy and me. It also meant we would see the rest of Lucy’s family at some point during the weekend. The love he and Betty gave to their children carried through to their adult lives. Our house was filled with laughter and love during those times. It may only be a year, but it seems to be a lifetime ago.

Bob had an incredible memory. He would tell such detailed stories about events from over seventy years as if he were recounting something from earlier in the morning. I had studied 20th century American history in college and read many articles about the Great Depression. Slogging through dusty tomes in a library or listening to a too-young associate professor droning on is not the same as hearing first hand accounts from someone who lived through it. Lucy’s family history came to life during those stories. I know we learned so much about her family and we enjoyed learning those lessons.

Even though it’s been a year, I miss Bob’s laugh, his sense of humor, his stories, and his advice. Most of all, I miss him. I am fortunate that he is still part of me and will be for the rest of my life. He lives on in Suzy and Julie, and I am grateful they chose to have me still be part of their lives.

Whether or not one believes in an afterlife, everyone achieves a degree of immortality by being part of someone else’s life and building memories. It is up to us to help determine whether we are remembered fondly or disparagingly. The life experiences of those we remember help shape the type of person we become. Bob is fondly remembered and deeply missed.

Thank you for the birthday wishes yesterday. I am touched by you remembering me and grateful for your caring. It has helped me through this tough part of my new life.

Give your special someone an extra hug tonight. Enjoy that embrace and never miss an opportunity to let that person know how much you care for her or him. Take a moment to remember a loved one who is no longer among us and give thanks for how that person improved your life. Try to make some wonderful memories of your own.

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Filed under family, friends, philosophy, rebuilding