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