Letter to my Uncle Lorell who is dying

September 3, 2011

 

Dear Lorell,

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.

Mick

Transoceanic depth in this earth in this cenotaph

It’s been three weeks since Tina’s surgery and she is still recovering. Her mom, Jan, stayed with us for a couple of weeks and was a tremendous help, but we’re on our own again now. We’ve all gotten into a routine since she left, but we’ll be glad when Tina is back to full strength again. She’s frustrated with the speed of her recovery but glad that she already feels better now than she did before the surgery. She’s looking forward to an active spring and summer with our family.

Continue reading “Transoceanic depth in this earth in this cenotaph”

Birthday Interview Questions

Friday I’m going to start a tradition in the Ring household. I’ve had this idea for some time but I keep forgetting to do it. The idea is to hold an interview with someone on their birthday. On Friday, the interview will be with Thomas on the occasion of his 13th birthday. Hopefully, I’ll remember to continue this and I’ll use the same questions year after year. Here are the questions I have so far. Please add your suggestions in the comments.
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Birthday pictures

I didn’t take many still pictures when I was in Iowa for my birthday with my Uncle Lorell because I was preoccupied with my new Flip Video camera. I did take a few though and have posted them in the Rynosoft Gallery for your viewing pleasure. In case you didn’t notice when they appeared this summer, there are also a bunch from our trip to Idaho to bike with the Scouts. Of course, there’s always three random pictures from the gallery on the right side of this blog.

I keep the ends out for the tie that binds

Life has been more hectic than usual so I’ve had little time for writing lately. Nevertheless, as I wait for the second Presidential debate to start, I’ll fill you in on a few things that have been going on in the Ring household.

Last week I returned from a short trip to Iowa where I celebrated my birthday with my Uncle Lorell. Lorell and I have the same birthday so we probably spent every one of my birthdays together until I was a teenager. This year we enjoyed cake with many of my cousins shortly after a Friday night of Wildcat football in Riceville, IA. At some point amidst the buzz all around us, I leaned over to him and said, “I didn’t get you a card.” He replied, “That’s OK, I didn’t get you one, either.” It was a perfect moment. By all accounts his chemo-therapy is going well and he hasn’t had a great deal of discomfort or sickness yet.

Just a few days after I got home, we held our 3rd Annual 40th Birthday Party. Lots of old and new friends attended and it was a rousing success. Unlike previous years, the weather kept us indoors and we weren’t able to have a fire on the deck. Still, we enjoyed the company and conversation. We’re grateful to have so many great friends.

Thomas has good news this week: he is getting A’s in all of his classes. He’s in 7th grade this year and we have been apprehensive about his academic performance after he had lots of trouble getting homework done last year. We realize that it’s just the beginning of the year, but this is a much better start than last year.

Vital Statistics

Relatives seen: 30 (approximate)
Weight lost (in pounds): 0
Aches & pains: sciatic
Current reading: My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk, Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
Recent listening: “Grandma music”
Recent viewing: CBS Morning News, The Fugitive, Presidential debate
Recent playing: Chain Factor, Spaceward Ho!
Recently accomplished: Travel to Iowa, birthday celebrations with my birthday uncle, Spam Museum (outside only)
Imperative To Do: Return home, cancel gym membership, get rid of office junk, freecycle, activate new Tivo, oil change for van, clean garage, office organization, get rid of MacRenewal Macs

Peeping from behind every window pane

I find myself in Foster City once again at EFI headquarters. I’ve been moved to another team again so I’m here familiarizing myself with the tool set and meeting the other team members. I’ll be here until Friday night.

Working from home has been better than I expected. Even though I’ve been very busy, I get to choose the times when I work and the times that I don’t. That means when I feel like doing a couple of hours in the evening, it’s no big deal. Or if I have to run some errand in the afternoon. So far I feel like I’ve been pretty productive and my new office feels like a cockpit controlling my working world and it has to do with the decoration I put on it, including windows with motorized blinds so I can control it from everywhere I’m with my phone. I’m sure I’ll write more on this later.

Continue reading “Peeping from behind every window pane”

A Few Disparate Links

Continue reading “A Few Disparate Links”

Vital Statistics

Weight lost (in pounds): 30
South Beach days in the last week: 3
Hours of sleep last night: 9
Hours billed last week: 43
Aches & pains: wrists, left shoulder
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Death By Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Recent listening: This American Life, Coverville, DrugMusic, Pure Pod For Now People, Science Friday, Fresh Air
Recent viewing: Countdown, Hardball, The Daily Show, My Name Is Earl, CSI: Miami
Recent playing: Guitar Hero II (XBox 360)
Recently accomplished: Updated Tina’s OS, cleaned up kitten poop in Thomas’ room, 2nd annual 40th birthday party, updated resume
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, sift through inbox, post office, finish garage, freecycle gorilla shelf parts, sunglasses, sign release papers for Sears commercial