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.