Friday, December 23, 2016

It's Christmas in Minnesota the second part of the puzzle

   July follows June on the calendars that we use around here, so Jan and I took the trailer over to Lanesboro for the 4th. They have a terrific fireworks show, that must be better than a lot of larger towns. We did some riding in the area while we were there. when we returned home I started on removing our old counter tops as we are getting new Cambria counters. We are getting some heavy rains every couple of days, so all of the low spots are showing up in the fields, with the crops under water, some of which were replanted more than once before the farmer gave up. It was Aaron's birthday party at the farm on the 10th, and Eli got the 650 #1 running again, I had given up after 3 rebuilds. Jan and I made another run to Mayo in Rochester again, and they biopsied the other side of my tongue. It must have been OK because I did not have to go back for more carving me up. Also hauled a ton of wood pellets into the basement for our pellet stove, don't think that we will freeze this year anyway. I got in a couple of PGR missions along here, one for a WWII paratrooper who jumped into Normandy on D Day. I was 12 days old at the time so I don't recollect that event. Eli, Lindsey, Jan and I drove back to Rochester, again, to pick up a bar that she found on Craig's list for our basement, it came in handy for the first few Viking games.
   August. St. Jan visits with her Mom in Windom in the rest home, some times it is tough, sometimes not so bad. Jan takes care of her paperwork and bills and that's a big job. So far she has managed to burn through a 120 acre farm in expenses. I did a little work on the deck, modifying a railing so that snow can be removed more easily, cause you know there will be snow in the future, sure as death and taxes. We headed out to stay in Spearfish to hang out with the Theobalds. Gen was going to run the Deadwood Marathon which runs from the Deadwood country club down Spearfish canyon, and finishes in a city park in Spearfish. Except for the pitch dark start at the country club the route down the canyon was as beautiful as ever. We first saw her at Savoy, then leap frogged ahead to bridle Veil Falls and then on to the park in Spearfish. She did manage her 2nd best time and everybody had a fun weekend in the Hills, again. Eli and I drove over to the Westbrook area one night to get a different skid loader, which has turned out to have a few problems. A PGR mission to South Dakota and lawn mowing just about finish out the month. On the last day, Eli and I headed out on a short bike trip, he had our Triumph and I rode the GS, down through Iowa and south western Wisconsin. We hit as many back roads as we could and spent the night in Fennimore.
   September started with Eli and I hitting more back roads in the direction of Wabasha, Minnesota. We stopped in Galesville at a small restaurant called the "Garden of Eatin", and it was good. I knew that riding with Eli was going to be good eating as he very seldom dines in a fast food joint, and I was not disappointed. Also I don't think I could have taken more than 2 days trying to keep up with him, anyhow we had a great time. Jan and I drove to the Cities to pick up two of our grand kiddos at their other Gramma's home. They were back in Minnesota with their Dad Hans. They came home with us for a couple days in the "country". The hard rains kept coming and coming keeping low spots under water for most of the Summer. I think after some spots were re-flooded and re-planted more than two or three times most farmers just gave up. We got the trailer out again and loaded up and headed over to Oakdale, Wisconsin for our semi annual trip over there. On the way we shredded a tire in Austin and got it replaced, luckily I had just checked the spare and checked for proper lug wrenches for the first time before leaving home. We had some great riding but the weather turned on us before leaving, We had over 4 inches of rain the night before we left for home, plus heavy rain on the way home. After getting home I packed the GS and rode west again for my Big Horn loop. Out around the Hills, to north of Sheridan, over the Big Horns to Greybull, down to Ten Sleep and back to Buffalo. From there to Kaycee, and Wright in the coal fields, to Rapid City and home, with a detour to Redwood Falls to watch Leah and Aaron's kickball games. And that is pretty much it for September.
   October. Started with more heavy rains and putting the trailer up and getting it winterized, and filled up with deck furniture. Spent time getting things moved out of the kitchen in preparation for the new floor covering, kind of a pain getting the fridge through the door to the dining room, and all of the trim off and labeled for re-installation. I drove to Miller, South Dakota for a PGR mission for a missing WWII P-51 pilot shot down over what became east Germany. His remains were just identified. The South Dakota Air National Guard did the "missing man" fly over with their F-16s. The flight lead breaks from the finger four formation, and pulls almost vertical in full afterburner until almost out of sight. Then to cap it off Fagen out of Granite Falls did a low pass with one of their P-51s. We were back in Rochester to visit our doctors for a follow up. We are getting on a first name basis with most of the personal there, anyhow it turned out fine. Just to safe I took the other three wheels off of the trailer and had those tires replaced also at the same shop in Austin. Also got the kitchen repainted after the counter tops and new floor covering, and returned to where else but Rochester, but for Sam's birthday party this time. Jan's birthday is the 22nd so a couple days later we drove out to the Hills again for stay at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge, and down at Hot Springs. It is nice to be out there after the tourists have gone home. We had the Mustang GT and ran up the middle of the Hills, great fun on the Iron Mountain road. I ended the month with the usual Fall drudgery of cleaning up all of the leaves and getting rid of them.
   November. The weather has been unusually pleasant with temps in the 60 and 70s, needless to say I was riding as much as possible. And then we have the Vikings, after their 5-0 start they started to reverse that trend, oh well next year. I had a PGR mission to Iowa to stand for a police officer ambushed near Des Moines. It was one of the biggest missions that I have been on lately, and not the first ambushed officer either. Brother Phil and I ran up to Rush City to pick up some bike parts and have a burger in Cambridge, kind of a pilgrimage we do at least once a year. We were trying to decide how many years we had been doing that, and came up with at least 30 years. I did help Eli with a project putting some used steel roofing on one of his sheds that he is turning into a shop, also helped with a "tree" house he is building in the grove for the kids. And just like that Indian Summer ends, with 30 degree temps and snow, not that that is that unusual here this time of the year. Thanksgiving was in Rochester as is the norm with all of the gang from this part of the country at least. We also have been shuffling beds around, our bed out to Leah, upstairs bed to our room, awaiting the new King size. With the King size, the upstairs bed went back upstairs. And that finishes out November.
   December. Jan and I drove out to Sioux Falls one day to shop and get out of the house I guess. She did come home with some bedding for the new bed. I also had another PGR mission to Jordan and started in wrapping presents. We were down to Ormsby for the bank's yearly lunch, it's always good sandwiches, scalloped potatoes, etc.. I wonder how many big city banks do these sort of appreciation feeds? Very rural Midwest sort of thing I think. Now the temps have turned cooler, like the teens above and the snow needs to be blown and shoveled out of the way. Then it got really cold, -24 with a -39 wind chill, two days later it was in the mid thirty's, a 60 degree rise. I am about ready to wrap this up, after loosing my first draft mysteriously I had to re-type it all again. The lesson being, watch where you put your fingers on the keyboard!! All in all Jan and I have had a good year, praise the Lord, everybody reasonably healthy, or as I tell people that ask "how are doing", my answer usually is "upright and taking nourishment". So from Jan and I, I want to wish you all a very blessed Christmas and a happy New Year. As I write this epistle our Daughter Rachel, with her husband Hans and their gang, Josiah, Annika and William are on the road coming home from Virginia. Thanks to cell phones we can get a play by play of the trip complete with photos. So they should be in the area by tomorrow and the whole family will be out to Eli and Lindsey's for our Christmas. So I hope that you find my second part of the puzzle informative, and leave a comment if the spirit moves you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's Christmas 2016 in Minnesota, the first part of the puzzle

   Sooner or later I need to get started on the "Kuehl's Christmas Letter 2016", and I guess that today is the day. My blogging has really slowed down over the years even though I keep doing things that I could be putting down on paper, so to speak. This Christmas letter will be a shortened version of our year, and since I am writing mostly me. As far as health problems go we, Jan and I, have been pretty much trouble free PTL, with no major surprises. The weather has for the most part been unusually nice with 70 degree days lasting until almost Thanksgiving, and plenty of rain. Luckily we escaped the worst of the down pours but still managed to get over 3 feet of water. So anyhow I need to get started here with the first month of the year as is my usual practice.
   January. It seems as if we got some snow that needed moving around, and Jan and I were working on another Winter project in the basement. A few years back we covered the walls in part of the basement with prefinished car siding. We liked it so much that this year we did most of the rest of the basement. I have always said, "if this house ever catches fire it's going to burn for a week", or something to that effect. A few trips to Menards and many days of labor (I don't work that fast) and the project was completed to our satisfaction. We had trips to area towns to watch our grandchildren in their sports activities, and toward the end of the month we traded our diesel pickup for a new F-150, what a change. Jan got a new dishwasher, one that is quieter too, and she is helping out part time at St. Paul's school with the younger kids.
   February. It started off with me coming down with a cold a couple days after my second pneumonia shot, a connection maybe? Anyhow, Like most winters, I spend some time in my shop putzing with the bikes, it's a good time for tire changes and cleanup and inspections. We had a couple of pretty healthy snow storms the first part of the month, with heavy snow and high winds, and closed highways at times. We did celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary on the 14th and made a run to the Black Hills a week later for the night. The month was fairly quiet except for chasing around to an assortment of basketball games around here and the Rochester area to watch the grand kids play ball, at least the grand kids in this part of the country that is. That's about it for this month.
    March. A little snow greets us this month, followed by a good return trip to Mayo for a check up, and more basketball. A couple days later I had one of the bikes out for a ride so things are looking up. Just like that it started to tease us with spring like weather. I got the Mustang out of the garage, got the trailer unloaded (we use it for some storage during the Winter),and started on a project in the garage, and made it to a Patriot Guard mission. Later in the month the first of the heavy rains started in. For Easter Jan and I drove up to Wadena to spend the day with her sister Paula and husband Steve. The end of the month Jan and I flew to Washington D.C., to surprise our Granddaughter Annika who had won a competition for writing,
   April. Our daughter, Rachel's husband Hans is at the Pentagon now, so Jan and I got the tour and Hans and I hit the Marine Corp museum at Quantico, both are impressive to say the least. Jan and I helped move her mom Bernice from the rest home here in St. James to one in Windom that has a special care unit. It is sad to see someone that you knew so well, deteriorate at what seems like such a rapid rate to just a shell of that person. It is scary to think of yourself going there in the future, maybe.
I ran up to Delano to help my brother Phil put some accessories on his new BMW in anticipation of our Summer trip out west. I made a swing down through Iowa checking out Air Force radar site locations from the Cold War. If you back up to my previous blog you can see a more thorough explanation of that trip. We ran back to Rochester to check out another spot that was bothering me, which turned out fine. With my track record on oral cancers I head right back over there at the slightest hint of trouble. We celebrate with Chicago popcorn and cokes in the Mayo subways as a tradition. I was doing as much riding as possible, made a PGR mission in Larchwood, Iowa and Willmar, and started mowing the lawn I see. That about does it for April.
   May. More PGR missions and back to Rochester for soccer games and Gus's first communion, and the ladies to  garage sales in Byron, and me to the bike shops and the mall book shop. The major project the first part of the month was tearing down the old barn at Eli and Lindsey's farm. It was in tough shape but hand built in the late 1800s, so it did not want to come down without a fight. All of the big heavy beams were pegged together pretty tightly yet, but the roof was shot. With several lengths of chain and his skid loader we managed to get it down without so much as a scratch PTL. He sorted out the good wood and burned a lot of the marginal siding and stuff. I finally found a print of a B-52D in Vietnam colors that I had been looking for, for ages, it's "Linebacker in the Buff" by Keith Ferris. I got it framed and matted and it hangs in our bedroom with 3 other Vietnam themed prints. Jan and I hit a few more sporting events and I made a run down into Missouri. This was the trip that was supposed to go as far south as Louisiana and Mississippi but got cut short by watching the weather channel one morning. Oh well, sooner or later I will make it that far south, I just don't want to go during the Summer when it is hot and humid down there, even worse than here. Toward the end of the month we had a PGR mission to Rushford to dedicate the new Veteran Cemetery. It looks like a beautiful location, with nice landscaping and facilities on site. It's worth a visit if you are in the area.
   June. I made a change in my stable by trading my Harley in on another 650 Honda. It was to the point where that Harley was not getting out of the barn unless there was a PGR mission real close by so out it went. I was doing maintenance on the bikes with oil and tire changes, one of the drawbacks to riding a lot. I mentioned the rain we got his year earlier didn't I? We were getting 2" rains every couple of days along here, sometimes more, sometimes less but a lot, with flooded fields and our sump pump going virtually non-stop. On the 20th Phil and I headed west to Wyoming and Montana for our long Summer trip. We rode the Big Horns, Bear tooth Pass and The Going to the Sun highway in Glacier National Park, and a long slog across central Montana and North and South Dakota to home 5 days later. Also see my previous blog about that in more detail. After I got home Jan and got the trailer out and loaded up for our annual run down to Lanesboro, Minnesota for the 4th. That will do it for now. I will finish this up later this year when a little more time has passed. So stay in touch and leave a comment if you will? Pete Kuehl  & December 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

Life in the fast lane 2016

   I would have used the "Bucket List" title of some sort again but I think that that term is getting a little hackneyed so I am trying something different this time. I have found that taking pictures anymore just does not do justice to the scene, so I just refrain from it, besides it means slowing down and stopping to take a photo. I am a great one for cruising down the road and thinking "I'll bet that would have made a great picture", but by that time I am a half mile down the road, and I ain't going to turn around. So far this year I have managed to get in a few over night rides, the first was a swing through Iowa visiting Air Force station sites. I think that I started out to do this trip a couple of years ago. I was south of Mason City thinking about refueling and realized that I had left my billfold on the counter in the shop, so I limped home at a reduced speed. This was with the Honda ST1300 we had at the time. The next day I took off again, this time on our BMW RT, after gassing up it barely turned over but did start, so made the decision to head home again lest it leave on the side of the road. After those two days I pretty much gave up on the idea until this year. I made the swing down past Waverly, LaMotte, Washington and Dallas Center. These are all cold war relics that were long range radar sites for 20 years or so. I actually did get a photo of one of the gap filler sites. Next up was a run back down south through Iowa into Missouri. I had big plans of going down through Arkansas into Louisiana and over to Mississippi etc. But turned around in southern Missouri after seeing the weather reports. Anybody that has been following my bucket list reports may have noticed a trend, big plans but smaller results, I can't help it, I miss my wife and home when I am not there. This is a photo of the gap filler site near Washington, Iowa, it is pretty much still all there except that the radome is gone from the tower. Most of these sites are long gone.

The regular Air Force stations were much larger with 2 to 300 personel stationed there, with housing areas for married troops. Most of the housing areas are long gone, but if you know what you are looking for, the type of houses can be found in the area after being moved to new locations. Anyhow I have that checked off of my bucket lists. Come to think of it I rode right past the Kirkville, Missouri Air Force station site on my way back home from the southern trip.
Next up is the premier bike trip of the Summer with brother Phil, who is riding a new BMW this year. Thankfully I did not make huge plans this time around, but tentative plans to get up into Canada did not pan out, although we were both packing our passports, just in case. We followed the usual route, out through Rapid City and over the Big Horns on highway 14. I saw 50 some degrees on top and on the way into Lovell it hit 106, like riding in front of a blast furnace. After that we spent the second night in Powell. In the morning it was a beautiful run up the Chief Joseph road and over the Bear Tooth pass. I actually managed to get video of most of the ride up Bear Tooth with my new Gopro camera, and believe it or not it actually came out pretty good. We set down in Bozeman, Montana that night. The next day we headed up towards Glacier National park via some two lane roads. We passed through Helena, my first time in that city. From there it was a long ride through the forest until we got to West Glacier. Once in the park I fired up the Gopro again and captured the whole ride over Going to the Sun Highway. Jan and I and the kiddos drove that one from east to west 30 years ago and were impressed I am sure, but it is a whole nother ball game on a bike. That road kind of clings to a cliff for a lot of the distance and finally over a pass. On the east side there has been a big forest fire, with miles of blackened forest. St. Mary lake which you pass by on the way out of the park is still very pretty. We called Cutbank home that night. After checking the Weather channel (an every morning task) it was down Interstate 15 to Great Falls, where we dodged between two cells and only got slightly damp, the only rain of the trip. It was a long hot slog to Miles City, within striking distance of home. The next day it was a run all of the way home, luckily with a stiff tail wind and reasonable temperatures. I rolled in around sunset so not too bad a ride. Tomorrow though, it's back to reality we are making another run back to Mayo to check out something else that has shown up recently, so wish me luck.
Here are a couple more photos, one from Bear Tooth pass and the other of Lake St. Mary in Glacier.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Kuehl's Christmas letter, the sequel

     When last I posted I had managed to make my way through the month of June I believe, primarily because it is the half way point in the year. Anyhow, I am going to resume pecking away at the month of July.  We pulled the trailer down to Lanesboro for the 4th of July weekend again this year. We always bring the BMW GS along and explore southeastern Minnesota and the Lacrosse, Wisconsin area. We usually take a picnic lunch and find a quiet place to have a sandwich, lots of times we have stopped at old country school houses, or small town playgrounds. Eli, Lindsey, Leah, Aaron, Gen, Sam, and Gus spent the night of the fireworks there too, at Lanesboro I mean. We always try to reserve the spot right next to the field that they use for the fireworks, so we have a good view. Afterwards a lot of those small hot air bags are launched from the field, a beautiful site in the dusk. Did I mention that Jan is spending most days out at the farm working in the grove cleaning up fallen sticks and an unbelievable amount of scrap iron and broken glass. There was also a lot of really old farm machinery backed in among the trees, so it is kind of her second job after taking care of me, and her Mom's finances, and our house etc., etc..  My sister Kathy was home for a visit in July, as it turns out for the last time. Jan and I were over to Rochester to watch Sam and Gus, hit some garage sales, and let Steve and Gen have a night out. Mom, Kathy and I went to Mankato for a couple of Mom's doctor appointments. I see that I was also working on finally finishing up that B-36 model that had been gathering dust since about 1980, it actually turned out pretty nice, if you don't get too close. I headed west with the GS for a three day run to hit a trail that I had avoided due to wet conditions earlier in the Summer. I always wondered, here I was  40 miles out on a dirt road, have not seen a vehicle in an hour and here lies some roadkill. I wonder, how does this animal and a virtually non existent vehicle come together at the same time? Hmm, something to think about while the miles reel past. The last day of the month Jan and I stopped to visit her sister and bother-in-law in Wadena. We had the GS on our other trailer headed up to a lake home near Itasca for a family weekend.
     August started with the whole gang, minus the DeFors, spending a few days at a home on Hart lake, near Itasca. After spending some time there we understood why lots of people go "up to the lake cabin for the weekend", it was so beautiful there in the evenings. We watched beaver and loons swimming across the lake near the dock, and the water so clear, the kids had an awful lot of fun in the water, and Jan and I did some riding. We did manage to find the cemetery that was the site of the first Patriot Guard mission that I was ever on. It was not in the location I thought that I remembered, but we managed to drive by it by accident. Troy Linden was killed by an ied in 2006 in Iraq if my memory serves me right, and it often doesn't serve me so well anymore. Jan and I bought a ton of wood pellets for the pellet burner and carried all 50 bags into the basement near the burner. My sister Kathy had returned to California while we were up at the lake house, and as it turned out, had passed away at her home in Modesto. We were getting a little concerned when she did not make her usual calls to Mom and was not returning our calls. Her health had been poor for several years, so it was not a huge shock, but after a bit you realize that she won't be coming home again, and you won't be going there to visit again either. Kathy and I were closer years ago. We both came back to Minnesota together on a Greyhound from California in 1958 so that we could start school in St. James before the rest of the family moved back in December. While I was in the Air Force we traded letters and she visited once while I was at Rapid City. I got the proper clearances for her and we toured the flight line at Ellsworth, and a cockpit visit of a B-52. I am not so sure that was really allowed, what with all of the classified equipment in view on board but the crew chief said go ahead, so we did. Lots of memories. Luckily my brother Paul and his wife Marcy were able to spend nearly a month in Modesto getting all of her estate details in order and ironed out. Anyhow life continues to move forward. I did Ride Captain duties for a Vietnam Wall replica escort into St. James on a weekend of veteran appreciation activities. We dedicated the new veteran monument in the park here in town, and there was a field of crosses to commemorate all of the warriors from Minnesota killed in the middle eastern wars, and a country western concert. Shortly after,Jan and I headed east to Burke, Virginia to visit the DeFors, minus Hans who was still in command of the USS Curtis Wilbur in Japan. One of the reasons we were there was to take care of the kiddos while Rachel flew back to Japan for Han's change of command ceremony when he hands over command of the ship to the next commander. It's a very big deal believe me. We have managed to watch both ends of his tour as commander live on line, which was pretty cool. Rachel had picked a nice home in a good neighborhood all on line from Japan prior to moving back. Hans' next assignment is the Pentagon, so this home is a bus ride away from work. While Rachel was gone we all went to the nearby pool and took care of the house.
    September the 2nd, Rachel returned from Japan at Dulles and later we picked up Hans at Reagan, it seems that they could not get home on the same flight. Jan and I headed home to a lawn grown crazy by the rains we had had while out of town. I could have bailed it I think. Eli and I built some fence at their farm for some horses they were going to board for a lady in town, and we were up to Redwood Falls for Leah's volleyball tournament, also a trip to Rochester to watch Sam and Gus. Lucky for us the price of gas keeps coming down, although I think I would drive anyway as long as they keep making it. Things were picking up toward the end of  the month, planning for Mom's 95th birthday and Kathy's funeral, both of which were done on the same day down at Trimont. Kathy had already had a marker placed at the Cedar Hills cemetery west of town next to my Mom and Dad's site. Kathy's ashes were interred on a beautiful sunny day with quite a few relatives and her high school friends in attendance. Mom's birthday party was later in the afternoon with a nice party at her church in Trimont. The next day we had a good group watching the Vikings with the tv on the deck and us watching from the lawn. We have done that before and had a lot of fun. This was followed up that evening with a super moon total lunar eclipse, sort of a big weekend! Jan and I drove Rachel back to the airport in the Cities, she had come home for the events of the weekend, and I did some riding and attended a couple of PGR missions during the month, and that about does it for September.
   October started with soccer in Mankato for Leah, finishing up that B-36 model, and getting the dirt bike ready for Colorado. I need to include a picture of that plane after all of the time I have spent and mentioning it.  Jan and I drove out to Ridgway, Colorado again this year, just a little later than last year. We took the dirt bike along again as well. I was taking a chance that I would not have trouble with snow at the higher elevations, and for the most part I didn't, although trying to get down from Imogene Pass I lost it in the slush up there. That was good for a thrill let me tell you. Jan and I did drive over to Telluride just to look at the scenery, and it was gorgeous to say the least. It was a long run home again with the choice of Kansas or Nebraska to bore a person to death. We did stop at the BMW dealer in Sioux City to see if he had any GS's. Unusual lately, he had 2, a red and a blue , so it got us to thinking about a change up, after all we have 45,000 miles on the 07 GS. The next day I was back with the check book in hand and bought the blue one. Every thing I have read and heard about the new GS is true! Jan and I spent a day in Mankato for her birthday, going to lunch and bumming around the mall. We also got a water softener that actually works that day. A couple days later we were on the road again, out to the Spearfish Lodge in the Black Hills for a couple of days. We took the Mustang so it was an 85 mph cruise across South Dakota. I am almost to the point where we can make the run to Rapid City in the same amount of time I did when I rode home with a Air Force buddy in 1964, in the days before 4 lanes and radar. To this day I have no idea how fast we were going.
   November starts with a drive to Rochester for Sam's birthday party, and me taking the new BMW out to the Kennebec, South Dakota to see that the old rail line west of Chamberlin is being rebuilt, then down into Nebraska to visit the SAC museum and stop in Sioux City for the bikes first check up. Veteran's Day found Jan and I back in Mankato for the free offerings for vets. Breakfast at Hi Vee, haircuts at Great Clips, lunch at Applebee's, and tire rotation at Quick Lane, which we had to pay for. A few days later I visited an eye doctor in Mankato and we went on to Rochester for another visit to my doctors at Mayo, which did not go the way I would have liked. It turns out a spot on my tongue that biopsied clean last Spring now doesn't look so good, so more surgery was scheduled for after Thanksgiving. About as expected, the roads and weather started to deteriorate so that Gen and Sam, who came home for the weekend had a tough time of it. The company I had worked for for 40 years dropped my discount on our land line so I cut the cord so to speak. It is much quieter without the telemarketers calls. Jan and I were back to Rochester for Thanksgiving at the Theobalds house again. As a move to make prior to my upcoming surgery I shaved off my beard, which I grew in the first place to camouflage the effects of my 2008 surgery to my jaw. There was a possibility that further cutting would need to extend down my neck so I figured try to get ahead of the game.
    December started with some more snow and another trip back to Rochester, although this time was not so much fun as the last trip there. I guess I can say thankfully I woke up after surgery with just a chunk carved out of my tongue rather than the more extensive stuff I had feared. I should say that that is a really really sensitive area, that takes some time to heal. I am typing this January 4th and it is still touchy, although I am down to an occasional couple of Tylenol. We did take the truck in for servicing and I was working on the bikes, at least I am not rebuilding the 650 Honda this year for a change. This year we had an early Christmas at Eli and Lindsey's farm. The Defor family had just driven back from Virginia, so we had quite literally everybody here for Christmas at the same time. Everyone from my Mom down to William DeFor, the youngest. I should say I guess, that Jan's Mom is in the rest home here in St. James and not mobile and of course Kathy who left us this Summer. It was especially nice with the weather co-operating so the kiddos could run all over the farm and the adults could eat and lay around and visit. The DeFors headed back up to the Cities after a few days at our place to spend some time with Hans' Mom. Jan and I joined them later in the week for a couple nights at a hotel in Eden Prairie. Hans and Rachel and the gang headed back to Virginia on Christmas day to get ahead of the approaching storms, which they did. Jan and I started on a basement paneling project we had been waiting to do after things calmed down and it went well, now that I have all of the tools necessary to do the job. I wish I had had the tools years ago when I did most of those jobs by hand. And that is about it for 2015. For the most part this has been a good year with just a few bumps in the road with my health, and my sisters' passing. Other than those things we have been able to do most of the things we want to do and our kids and grand kids all seem to be good and getting along with life pretty well. We have no big plans this coming year but trying to love and take care of each other, but that should go without saying I think. I am already thinking of a different route for a bike trip next Summer. I also can't wait for this election cycle to be over, although after that happens I imagine they will be starting on the next round. So take care of each other and yourselves and with any luck at all, I will probably be doing this again next year.