When I was a kid there were few things I liked more than going to my uncles’ farms. Being a “city slicker” (as my classmates often called me), the farm was a completely different world to me. When I visited my Uncle Merlin’s farm it was mostly about hanging out with my cousins who were close in age to me, but when I visited your farm, it was always about you and I spending time together. That is a gift that I will always treasure.
One time when I was there “helping” you, we tried to take a dent out of the local rat population. I’ll never forget when you lifted up a piece of plywood (or maybe it was corrugated tin) that was laying behind the big machine shed. The plywood was laying on a small pile of corn and when you lifted it, it revealed several rat “tunnels” and the rats inside them. I was surprised but you were not because you had a gun and started shooting the rats as they scurried away. Guns, rats, tunnels – everything about being on the farm was so cool.
You’ve always been there. You were at Grandma Christensen’s for all those Christmases with the toys in the bedrooms and the money in the envelopes. And you were at Grandma Ring’s for the oyster stew. I remember sitting in that little living room watching Vitas Gerulaitis play tennis and you laughing when I joked that his name sounded like a disease. Harold was there. And my dad. And Gene.
So many memories I have of you and so little time to tell you about them. You kept your golf cart in Grandma Ring’s garage. You drove that giant green Cadillac. You visited me at my first house in Portland. Remember? You got lost and I told you “find the first bridge you see and cross it.” I was so sad to spend what I thought would be our last birthday together three years ago but now I’m so glad that you have had three more years in this world. I’ve never had a birthday where I didn’t think of you. And I never will.
As I sit here with all these thoughts and memories swirling through my head, I’m desperately trying to figure out how to end this note to you in a meaningful way. I suppose that life mostly doesn’t come to an end in a dramatic or meaningful way so perhaps I should just end this by saying that I thank you for your many kindnesses towards me over the last (almost) 45 years and that I think you’ve been a good uncle and a fine man. I also thank you for my double cousins without whom my life would be lesser. I hope that you reach the end of your days peacefully and without regret. And I love you.
A few years ago I used to ride with Portland Critical Mass every month. Eventually, the numbers became so small that it seemed pointless to continue. Still, I’ve long felt a kinship with Critical Mass rides everywhere. Thus, seeing the following video taken Friday night in Brazil almost made me cry. One minute into the video, the joy and serenity is replaced with insane violence:
I spent most of last week in Milwaukee (actually Menomonee Falls), Wisconsin, searching for the cause of a crash in our software that is adversely affecting a client. I flew into Milwaukee on Monday, spent three days on the client site and planned to fly back home Thursday evening. Thursday morning I glanced at my Google Calendar on my iPhone for my departure time. This is what I saw: Continue reading “An Extra Day in Milwaukee”→
As you probably know, we had a very hot summer this year in Portland. During one heat wave, temperatures reached 107 on some days and didn’t get below 75 at night. Round about that time I found myself thirsty quite a lot. It was hot and our air conditioning infrastructure is lacking so I thought it was because of the heat that I was drinking so much water. Around about the same time I also started urinating much more often than I had ever before. Again, I chalked it up to the heat and increased water intake but I still noted a couple of events that were unusual. First, one night I woke up having to urinate which is something that almost never happens to me, especially if I go to the bathroom before I get in bed. Soon it was happening to me every night but I still didn’t put it together.
I also felt incredibly tired most of the time. The last few hours of work each day were very difficult and I would often end up in the comfy chair a few feet from my office, watching MSNBC’s political block. The fatigue had arrived rather gradually and I didn’t really notice it until our Family Camp with Troop 820 in June. When walking long distances there was difficult in terms of muscle fatigue, I chalked it up to the altitude and the weight I had recently gained. It got worse and worse all summer but even these were not clue enough for me. Continue reading “Like endless rain into a paper cup”→
With only two weeks of summer remaining it’s high time I updated you about what’s been happening in the Ring household.
For the second year Troop 820 (Thomas’ Boy Scout troop) held an unofficial “family camp” in June. If you recall, last year we went to Idaho for three days of biking. This year we drove to La Pine, OR, where we camped in the “high desert” at 4100 feet. I was huffing and puffing there for two days before I realized that the altitude was the problem. During a bike ride to the shower I figured out that deep breaths counteract the lack of oxygen. Once I knew that, I no longer dreaded getting off my ass and walking to the next campsite. While we were there, the boys enjoyed a long bike ride and floating down the Deschutes River. It wasn’t really that warm but I think the altitude made it feel warm. Continue reading “Blowing through the jasmine in my mind”→
Last night Graham and Thomas had their final orchestra concert of the year. In anticipation of the event, several months ago I invited my mother to visit us at this time so that she could attend. Graham’s fourth grade orchestra was the first to play and they did a very nice job of showing how much they had improved during the year. After they took their bow, they all started off stage to make room for the fifth grade orchestra. As Graham stood near the edge of the stage waiting for the rest of the kids to move, he chatted and laughed with his nearby friends. I looked away for a second to talk to Tina and then we heard a crash in front of the stage followed by a gasp from the audience. Somebody fell. Tina asked, “Who fell?” Scanning the group near the commotion, I realized Graham was no longer on stage. “It’s Graham!” I told her as she stood and then rushed down the stairs to the stage.