Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Manifest Destiny

This is a post about sleep and sleeping. So you might ask why would I refer to it in terms of the philosophy (manifest destiny) the philosophy that justified the expansion by the fledgling United States to expand over the entire continent until it ran into the Pacific Ocean? Read on and all will be revealed.

First, I may or may not have revealed in a past post (I did a cursory search and couldn't find one but that doesn't mean anything as my labeling of posts has been poor in the past) that Wife and I sleep in separate bedrooms. This was a the result of a LONG and drawn out process of recognizing and talking about how our sleep habits had been changing and causing A LOT OF mutual unhappiness and lack of sleep. Did I mention how good sleep is really important to overall happiness? About a year or so ago we finally got over our preconceived notions and admitted we'd both be a lot happier, sleep better, and love each other more if we didn't share the same bedroom. Once done, I started to learn that there are a LOT more folks out there who have learned the same thing. That made me feel a whole lot better about our decision.

Now roll the film forward to the last few months. During most of my life I was very used to sleeping in a tight space. My Mother used to accuse me as a child of sleeping with as little movement as possible to allow the process of making my bed as easy as possible. Then as a married person over the many decades, I was used to 'staying on my side of the bed'. It was a drilled in habit. Even when I traveled on business, I would usually just stay on one narrow part of the bed.

But a few months ago, I had this realization. I was still just sleeping on a narrow part of the bed even though I had the whole bed now (a King size bed!). It dawned on me that I was wearing out the mattress unevenly. That was silly. I wanted the mattress to last a long time. I needed to use more of it.

AH HA! suddenly I discovered freedom, the ability to move over, to take over more space, my Manifest Destiny to conquer the entire bed and make it my own was unveiled! What a relief to my aging muscle ached body to just sprawl out and fling myself however I wanted 😀

There is the slight problem that when we are traveling and have the occasion when we have to share one bed that if feels like prison, but that is a small price to pay compared to the conquest of the entire bed at home!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dealing With Death

Not anyone in my family but with one of my clients. And not an actual death, but a client who has developed a particularly virulent form of cancer.

It is an aspect of growing older that death processes and events start happening with more frequency. For me personally, the death first of my mother, but much more intensely, that of my father brought the whole dying process and all that it entails into clearer focus.

This year I've had two clients contract cancer that has led to planned succession processes to being accelerate up. In the first case we were already in the process of doing a sale to the proposed successors. In the second case, the cancer diagnosis came out of the blue. The client is only in his late 50's. The cancer is particularly bad with no track record of responding to traditional treatment.

We found out about this in May. Since then my partner and I have been working in overdrive to put into place a mechanism to fulfill the client's goals of taking care of his wife and seeing that his company would continue beyond him. While initially the path to attaining his objectives seemed to be difficult, I can say that we along with the firm's attorneys have managed to put in place a fairly simple (a relative term) process to obtain the client's objectives.

Today we were meeting with the proposed successor owners and then with the client, his wife and his attorneys to try and make major progress on our proposed solutions. The meetings went well but it was very emotional. This is not the kind of work that you seek out to do, but knowing that you are trusted and making an exceedingly serious contribution to someone's potential end-of-life event is really an honor. To be honest, I'm a bit drained.

But on another level, I feel blessed not just to be of serious assistance to the client and his wife, but also to just be participating and learning from the process. It might sound morbid but I think a lot about dying and how I want to manage my own process. I mean it's going to happen. Each one of these experiences that I participate helps me formulate my own personal game plan. (Think Kirk Douglas and the old movie 'The Vikings' - maybe hard to do on the Rio Grande)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Very Late Anniversary

I suddenly realized that I have been blogging now for OVER 10 YEARS! In fact my first post was in March 2007. Crazy!

The Six For Five Reunion

Every three years, Wife's family has a reunion. She has 5 brothers and sisters. Half live in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area so there is a tendency to hold them there. However, this year it was in northern Minnesota, an area not really all that far from Duluth. What this meant was around 21-22 hours of driving. The younger versions of de-I and Wife would have done this easily in two days but we are finding that driving more than 10 hours is a real demand on our systems now. In addition to get to there from Albuquerque requires a lot of driving through non-interstate road countryside as the general direction is diagonal but the interstates go square. Actually the country roads are mostly deserted and you can go easily 75 mph on them. In fact they are less stressful often than the interstates. However, there is a problem in finding places conveniently on the route where you can spend the night. So it was three days of driving in each way for five days at the reunion itself.

Then of course the weather was mostly lousy with rain and cold so not terribly conducive to getting out and doing things. Added to that, doing this immediately after our big get together of Goths your basically hermetic author was in need of lots of time to be alone.

Nonetheless it was nice to see everyone again and there were some younger generation people I hadn't seen for a while and it was good to reacquaint with them. We ate and drank way too much. We're on our way back now. One more drive from Denver to Albuquerque to go...so I can get on a plane Monday and go to Chicago for some work.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Meet The Goths - A Family Pictoral

While I had my trusty borrowed camera out and at the ready the whole time the Gothic interlude took place, things were so busy that I really didn't take that many pictures. However, I did get a number of pictures of various members of the Gothic invasion.

Study of Gothic Cousins 
2.4, 3.1 and 3.2 bonding over a 'screen'

The 'Tweener' Goths
Cousins 1.1 and 2.2, both 12 years old showing their 'Tweens against the world attitude

And yet the Tweens were a big hit with their younger cousins

Study of Gothic Sons-in-Law
1A working the decorations for #2's party
3A working decorations with 3.1

Granddaughter 2.1 at 18 a young adult doing decorations as well

Wife, Lady of the Tower, with gifts of hand crocheted scarves to assuage the Gothic hordes

Study of the Gothic Daughters
These be Wife and mine



Saturday, August 12, 2017


What's the best way to pull of a surprise birthday party?

I'd say do it on a day that is months from someone's actual birthday.

That is exactly what the Gothic Clan de-I did for me this week. We went to the house we are renting for children for dinner as I was told that I had cooked enough for everyone. They were just going to buy pizza which was fine by me. Daughter #3 who is staying at our house, went over to the other house with her kids early saying she wanted to hang out with her sisters. I said we could come over too to hang out but was told, "no I would just end up chipping in on the work and that would defeat the purpose of having dinner at the other house."

This was all BS for upon my arrival, there were the shouts of "Surprise!" and all the decorations of a birthday party. As my birthday isn't until December, I naturally still was clueless as to what was happening. It took the daughters and Wife explaining that since this was the only practical time to get all the family together, and since this December would mark my 70th year of not getting myself killed by doing something stupid, that they would do it now. This evidently took massive negotiation and discussion over months and months, changing of plans, and nearly cause a breakdown in the whole family, just to pull this off. Kind of makes one pretty F-ing humble that folks would go to such work for you (insert tear dropping here).

We had a lovely evening topped off by son-in-law 1A doing DJ honors pulling up on his Spotify account and playing over his portable speaker all my favorite heavy metal/hard rock hits from the late 60's and early 70's (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, The Who, Led Zepplin for those who are interested).

But best of all was the gift, a book produced under the leadership of #1 that contained personal input from the entire family, from deep long essays by Wife, the daughters, and the sons-in-law to pictures with parental comments from the 3-year olds. What made this so especially nice was the historical perspective it gave me of my own life.

We tend to think of ourselves as a picture...a set piece...with the most recent picture as the dominant impression of who we are. But reading all these impressions from others who talked about how I'd interacted and influenced them over their lives put my life into a different perspective all together...not as the picture but as the story with all the chapters included. It was very beautiful and I'm very grateful.

Thank you family.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

End Of The Goths - Almost

We only have a couple of more days with the clan before everyone starts going their separate ways. It seemed like it was going to be such a long time and now it has just flown by. I think without a doubt this is the mellowest family get together we've ever had. I think part of it is having the extra rental house that allows for some needed separation but is close enough that the older children can walk on their own back and forth. I think everyone has changed and mellowed out. I think just having the children on average being older takes stress out of the system. We've had a lot of great time just hanging out with each other. I had meant to make many posts during this last two weeks but we tend to be going fairly late in the evening and (in all honesty) have been drinking just a tad.

So here are some of the highlights.

Seeing the stars - We went with the #3 clan north about 3 hours to Abiquiu where they had rented a house that they specifically researched so we could do stargazing. Hadn't seen skies like this for many, many a year. Wife and 3A had a great time trying out there night sky photographic technique.

Sharing good wine - There aren't a whole lot of folks that I ask over if it is a particularly good bottle of wine. Daughter #3 and son-in-law 2B are on the list. I had a fine Bordeaux that I had been gifted and added a 1998 Hermitage then had an adults only meal with the #2's and #3's. Great wine, company, and food.

Cooking both expansive and under control - I struck a good balance by doing a lot of cooking for the first three days we were all together then having enough leftover that it took care of a number of days afterward.

Surprise party for #2 - She is turning 40 later this month and we were successful and completely surprising her.

Success with the smoker and the new grill - I will have to do a separate post just on the new grill I have had fabricated for us. Let me just say it is a marvel of non-moving part flexibility and delivers a superior grilled product with tons of flavor especially when using real charcoal and not briquets. And I have got the process of making spare ribs down to a science on the smoker.

The ultimate family picture - Finally, finally we got everyone in the picture. Even though there were a few potential holdouts, all made it into the shot.

I haven't been terribly diligent about taking pictures but here are some from the beginning.

Some pictures from early on during the invasion

Cousins Bonding Over Thomas the Train

My super, cosmic, custom made, charcoal grill
Still learning how to best use it but some great results so far

View from the rental overlooking Abiquiu Lake

#3 showing 3.2 how to 'take in the view'
Wife studying up for the evening night star shoot
The #3 clan
A study of the many phases of #3

3.1 in intent listening mode
The 'Wild' 3.2

And the 'hip' 3.2
Abiquiu was first set up in the mid 1700's and was a classic representation of New World Spanish Square town planning
The Santos Tomas El Apostol church named for  Saint Thomas the Apostle when he was hiding under a Spanish disguise.

Abiquiu hit it big in the late 19th/early 20th centuries when it was a center for the international pinon nut trade. Then the great pinon nut crash of 1924 came and nearly wiped out the town. All that is left are the sad memories of the golden days.