Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

My trip back from Luverne last night was an adventure. I was delayed in Worthington for almost 30 minutes because of a hail storm (no visible damage to the car). Then I was delayed for about 20 minutes near Jackson because of horizontal torrential rain. The next delay was from Fairmont to Alden because of high winds and wet highways. At least I missed the storm that hit the Twin Cities because it had wound down by the time I pulled into my driveway. It took almost two hours longer than usual, but it was worth it.

After a few hours dealing with a work issue this morning, I went to Dawn Valley for their Memorial Day service. I wound up walking about a half mile to the cemetery, but got to drive in a little later. The service was very touching and I spent some time with Lucy while I was there. At least I was smart enough to bring Kleenex this time.

My dad's side of the family has a number of generations that served in the military here in the US and back in the "old country" (Norway). I entered college as the Viet Nam war ended and got to know a number of veterans, and was shocked at how despicably they were treated by society at the time. It was bad enough that many of them were drafted. They got forced to serve, then got treated like garbage when they get back. No wonder there were many who suffered greatly after coming home.

Because of surgery on my left ankle (and not because of my left hand) I had a medical deferment. It was a moot point because the draft ended 28 days after my 18th birthday. While I couldn't serve, I am very appreciative of those who did serve, either by draft or volunteering. To the veterans reading this, thank you so much for your service.

Julie G. invited me to a BBQ tonight. Suzy and Bob were also there. I was so fortunate to be able to spend time with both my families this weekend. There is nothing like good food, lots of laughter, and hugs to lift one's spirits. I am really blessed by having them in my life. It's going to be a really busy week in the office, so this weekend was a great pick-me-up.

Thank you for your support, for giving your time to reading this blog, and for keeping Lucy's memory alive.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cacti in Minnesota? You betcha!

Prickly pear cactus are native to a small area in southwestern Minnesota. This stand is growing right outside my parents' front door. Blue Mounds State Park has prickly pears growing throughout the park. I was too early to see them bloom this year.

Even more rain is supposed to be rolling in tonight. The forecast is for 1" - 2" tonight, then fairly decent weather tomorrow. Perhaps this will start drying out. I've had 7.7" of rain this month already. That's close to 4" above "normal".

Even though it was a quick trip, it was nice to get away for the weekend. I think the last time I had a weekend away from home, excluding Lucy's hospitalizations, was in August.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Dawn Valley is having an open house and they are doing a Memorial Day service. Please remember why Memorial Day occurs, and as always, give your loved ones some extra attention tomorrow.

Almost ready to bloom!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lucy's monument

It rained heavily today. My electronic rain gauge quit transmitting after 2.33". We set a rainfall record of 2.58" today. The rain actually started about 10:00 pm last night, so we wound up with 3.39" total. There may be more on the way later tonight into tomorrow late morning. The rain quit in Eden Prairie about 1:30 and moved out of Bloomington by 3:00. That must have been when her monument was placed.

I hope to get back and visit my folks this weekend. It's been awhile since I visited my brother Robert's grave in Albert Lea. I'll make a trip to the cemetery on my way to Luverne. With the 10 hour days at work right now, it will be a short trip home. I'll need Monday to get household chores done.

Have a dry night!

I wanted the full dates for her birth and death but that supposedly wasn't possible with the new design.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

And the forecast calls for rain

Remember all the weather folks in the Twin Cities bemoaning the drought ad nauseum? We're not hearing too much about that anymore. Some areas are going to get over 3" of rain tonight. I've been treated to a pretty good sound and light show (thunder and lightning). Everything is green and lush. I think I'll be picking blackberries in two weeks and raspberries in about four weeks. Neither apple tree bloomed this year, though.

I got to meet my cousin Julie at Jake's City Grille in Eden Prairie after work. It was nice catching up a bit. I needed the decompression time. The garlic burger was very good. As we were leaving because of the impending deluge, "Second Chance" started playing as the background music. The rain even held off until I got home.

Apparently the bronze vases at the local cemeteries are getting stolen by the hundreds.  Just a couple years ago, the bronze grave markers for veterans were getting stolen for scrap. One has to be a particularly vile low life to steal from the dead.

Remember to give your special someone a hug tonight.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Garden photos finally

I finally have some May garden photos uploaded. The link should open a new window. Comcast is playing with bandwidth throttling, so it will be a touch on the slow side.

There does not seem to be any hail damage from a couple nights ago. The tree rats are doing more damage to the planters than the hail did. So much for my bluebonnets. It is supposed to rain the next couple days so the surviving planters will be happy.

The cemetery has annuals planted in the garden across the driveway from Lucy. The petunias are cheery.

 Have a great evening and let your loved ones know they are special.

The annuals garden at Dawn Valley

There may not have been much hail, but it was backed with some strong wind.
The hail with it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

May seems to be popular for weddings

In addition to Mike and Sarah's wedding tonight, I found out a friend of mine got married last week. A belated congratulations to Kelly and Brad! Tonight's wedding was huge. I thought Mike was kidding when he said about 400 guests were invited. There were probably close to 450 people there.

Today was not a fun day to drive from Edcen Prairie to St. Paul. What should be about a 25 minute drive turned into close to two hours. The weather was warm, the Twin Cities set a record high of 93°F today, but there should not have been THAT many cars stalled out. Maybe the 10-15% ethanol we're required to have in our gasoline is causing vapor lock. In addition, St. Paul decided to close just about anything that was paved. I-94 was closed, there was a lane closure in I-35E. The main thing is I made it.

Work is going OK. I'm figuring out how things go together in Silverlight and C#.NET hasn't been too onerous yet. I'm already working on a live project and moving forward on it.

With all the love in the air, please take time to let your loved ones know you love them.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Congratulations Mike & Sarah

I will be attending their wedding tomorrow night in St. Paul if (a) I'm not stuck at work really late and (b) the dreaded orange barrel season hasn't choked off the thoroughfares down to hiking paths. There is some irony in attending someone's wedding after losing my spouse. Life keeps moving with or without us. Lucy and I were softies for newlyweds. We hoped they would have as much joy in their marriage as we had in ours.

Tomorrow might be our first 90°F day of the season here in Bloomington. Today's rain fizzled out after a few drops. Our next chance of rain is the whole weekend.

Since I work in Eden Prairie now, my commute takes me with a mile of Lucy. It's nice that I get chances to visit her.

The bald eagles are out in force today. I saw one in Eden Prairie and three in Bloomington, We also have about a dozen turkey buzzards soaring along the Minnesota River south of me.

I hope to get some pictures of Lucy's gardens this weekend. Perhaps the weekend won't be a total washout.

Thank you for thinking of me and for keeping Lucy's memory alive by reading this. It really does mean a lot to me.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

One month

Today marks one month since Lucy passed away. My parents and I went to breakfast, then stopped by the cemetery to visit Lucy. They left about 10:30 this morning.

I saw my first monarch butterfly today. Lucy enjoyed butterflies and hummingbirds. The painted lady butterflies have been around for well over a month, but Lucy would be excited seeing the first monarch of the season.

Late this afternoon, I heard a fox yipping and barking. My guess is a pair is scouting locations for a den. It was this time last year a male and female were in the neighborhood.

The gardens really kicked into gear now that the weather has warmed up again and the rain has stopped for a few days. OK, so the fool living southwest of me is watering his back yard and then will gripe loudly and profanely about the mosquitoes. You would think that over five inches of rain  the first ten days of the month would adequately moisten the soil down several inches. I know the ground clumped when I was planting glad bulbs today at a depth of four inches.

I had planted dahlias a couple weeks ago and they have sprouted. The string beans in the hanging planters are about an inch long now. All the blue flax is in full bloom and the white flax is starting to bloom. Lucy would be happy with her gardens right now.

I'm behind on getting garden pictures taken and uploaded. The upcoming week is going to be incredibly busy, but I hope to squeeze in some time for photos. It is supposed to be in the 80's almost the entire week, although Friday into Saturday looks stormy and sticky.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone! One of my blessing is my mother is still alive. Lucy had lost her mother in August. This would have been her first Mother's Day without her mother. Now they are together.

Thank you for your time, and please take time to count your blessings. You have more than you think!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lucy was my rock

Lucy is in her final resting place today. Her inurnment service was at 1:00 this afternoon. The weather was beautiful and Rev. Naumann did an outstanding job at the service.

After my brother died fifteen years ago, Lucy and I made the decision that we would be cremated after we left this world. We had visited Dawn Valley Memorial Park a couple times while doing family history research around ten years ago. Lucy had commented how much she liked Dawn Valley.

We both loved the outdoors. Lucy had gathered some interesting rocks through the years which we have incorporated into our landscaping. When I was looking for a resting place for us, the boulder gardens were a unique feature. It was very appropriate. Lucy was my rock.

The boulder below is the one we will be sharing eternity. Lucy gets the right side, just as she did at home. The marker will be ready in about six weeks.

Our final resting place

She is the farthest from our neighbors, is in the highest spot, and has the best view. There is a nature preserve close by. I saw red wing blackbirds, Canadian geese, goldfinches, and cardinals, and heard bluebirds and robins before the service.We are close to a pond, marsh, trees including pines, a grassy area, and a flower garden. It's very peaceful and I know Lucy would have selected the same spot.

We are the boulder at bottom right. The three rocks behind us are decoration; the rose quartz is stunning.
Be sure to tell your loved ones how much you love them tonight.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Nights are Forever Without You"

The England Dan and John Ford Coley hit from the mid 1970's pretty much sums up how I am holding up right now. I'm finally managing to get close to a full night's sleep without waking up every couple hours. I know the sleeping will get better. Right now I'm trying to get a lot of the administrative stuff done before I start my new job. The challenge of the new job will also contribute to some insomnia, but that will abate when I start contributing and earning my keep.

Lucy wanted me to move forward. I've been trying to do many of the things Lucy and I would do together: walks, gardening, household chores, grocery shopping. It's strange coming up from the basement office and not seeing her in her glider rocker watching TV or reading; that was always a good time to do something incredibly ridiculous to get her to laugh. When we would go for our almost nightly walks, I would get her smiling or laughing a couple times; now it's a quiet time to reflect. Gardening was semi-serious business for us and we enjoyed doing it; it still is enjoyable. I would help Lucy with household chores, though I was usually relegated to yard duty; I have a much deeper appreciation for single mothers now since they do so much on their own. We both hated grocery shopping though I would try to lighten things up; now it's a task to get done.

For those who have asked, I am eating properly. I dropped a lot of weight mostly because Lucy and I changed our diets to help her cancer battle. I'm still down almost 70 pounds and intend to keep it off. I had bought a suit about four years ago for a sales presentation. I showed Lucy's siblings how it no longer fit "Biggest Loser" style. The pants nearly went around me twice.

I had a friend tell me a long time ago that just because you no longer cry for someone doesn't mean you no longer love them. What happens is as the sadness and sorrow diminish, happy memories fill in those spots. I'm already finding that out firsthand. Love conquers sorrow.

It's everyone's kindness that is helping so much right now. Thank you Ginger for sending a nice sympathy card and note today. Thank you Julie for calling to see how I was doing and for getting me to laugh a little. Thank you Cathy from GBS taking time from your hectic schedule to allow me to pick up Lucy's belongings at work Each of those acts is deeply appreciated.

So here's hoping for some rare events in the near future: rainless days in May and the Twins winning some ballgames. Let your loved ones know you love them, and thank you for your time.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

So today's NOT Mother's Day

After wishing Suzy and Julie a happy Mother's Day, I realized I was a week early. At least I didn't mail my mother her card yet.

After another major soaking today, I think we can say we're out of the drought. The storm that rumbled through at about 2:00 am and ended by 2:45 am dumped 1.42" of rain and some pea sized hail. There doesn't appear to be any garden damage, but that might take a couple days to show up.

Lucy knew about my new job. I had interviewed on March 20th and we found out the next day that Lucy's battle turned significantly worse. I called them to turn down the position. Later that day I heard back they would hold the job open while Lucy needed me.

I had promised Lucy I would take care of some tasks for her this year. The basement steps are almost fully painted and my back and knees are letting me know it. That was on hold because I didn't want to expose her to paint fumes. Even low odor paint with no Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) still off gases as it dries.

So even though it's not Mother's Day, give your mom a hug anyway. She's earned it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"The Sky is Crying"

Lucy's MP3 player has about 1,400 songs on it (all legal, of course). One of them, Stevie Ray Vaughn's "The Sky is Crying" seems appropriate today. My backyard picked up 1.11" of rain since midnight, and 1.46" since the yesterday. The Twin Cities metro area was about 5" behind on rain. I don't see any standing water despite all the rain. I also haven't seen any state birds (mosquitoes)...yet. I swear the Siberian irises have scuba gear on now.

The garden planting is almost complete despite the downpour. The garden work has been very therapeutic for me.Lucy and I would eagerly await the arrival of gardening weather. It gave us some wonderful quality time together through the years.

It's been a tough week dealing with the administrative minutiae that needs to be done once a person dies. With the exception of one local financial institution, everyone I have dealt with has been sympathetic and helpful. Lucy and I tried to cover all the bases to minimize the hoop-jumping for the surviving spouse, but it's still tough

Most of you know I start a new job on May 14th. I'll be working in Eden Prairie as a Sr. Software Engineer for a company that is growing quickly but intelligently. The job is going to be demanding and I'll need to be as close to 100% as I can be when I start. That's why I'm trying my best to get the administrative stuff done so quickly.

Thank you again to everyone who has called, emailed, or visited. Words cannot describe how you have helped me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

An unexpected gift

I am still receiving sympathy cards. Yesterday's mail also included a card and memorial candle from Fairview Hospice. They will call me tomorrow with information about purchasing additional candles.

Lucy enjoyed dahlias and lilies. Yesterday before the storm hit, I planted four dinnerplate dahlias, two canna lilies and nine Oriental lilies. I'm also going to take another whack at growing morning glorys around the arbor near her rose garden. Like last year, I'll be planting borage, cardinal flax, and bluebonnets. I know I'm running about a month late on some of the seeds. Now we're getting into a rainy period. Yesterday saw ¾" of rain which helped put a dent in the drought we have been in since July of last year. Here's hoping we don't get a hatching of mosquitoes to go with the rain.

Give your loved ones a hug from me tonight.

The Hospice memorial candle