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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tractors

Mom took this photo of the tractors they recently sold.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Is This Bird Doing?

I took this photo on my way out the door to try to help this bird
obviously in distress. However, when I opened my door it somehow got
itself free and flew off. I wonder how it got in this situation.

My Three Girls

Miley, Lucy, and Missy relaxing on this extremely hot afternoon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Colleen's Tree - Update

The kids surprised me again. They placed this custom made stepping
stone near the tree they planted before the end of the last school
year.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Dinner on the Farm

^Mom using her new camera.
>Kelly, Takoda, and Randy eating dinner.
^Grill Master Kent and Cory eating dinner.
>Above the barn in the haymow.
^Miley catching a drink in the hot sun.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Visit to the Family Farm

^Farm Ruins - On the farm we had half of a shed half collapse and we were never able to have it repaired.  It has the appearance of ancient ruins in a rain forest.

>One of the corn cribs that now has a giant vine surrounding it.
^A triptych of green apples.

>I love the optical illusion here.  Where is the road?
^Mugsy, Mom's dog.

>Miley watches as I leave for dinner and a movie (Inception) with Kelly and Randy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You Never Know

Since Colleen's death I have heard many worn out clichés from well
meaning people. Most of them are meaningless in the midst of loss. I
have found the honest sharing of similar experiences with grief and
loss to be far more comforting and helpful. One trite, cliché phrase
that has stuck in my mind is, "You never know what you have until it
is gone." In spite of its shallow sentiment, this phrase has focused
my thoughts and lead to significant revelations.

The first feeling that this phrase brings to the surface is guilt. Of
course guilt comes in many forms and with many related emotions:
doubt, blame, regret, and denial are just a few. I still doubt the
decision to end the medical battle. I blame myself for Colleen's
decline and not doing more to help her. I regret not having spent
every possible moment with her. I don't want to accept the reality of
the situation; my love, my wife is gone.

I have spent the better part of the past two months surrounding myself
with such feelings and thoughts. When I do experience a moment of
levity I feel guilty. When I accomplish something (no matter how
insignificant) I regret not having done it earlier so I could share it
with Colleen.

As painful as all of this is, it is important to get all of these
sources of guilt out in the open. Without focusing on and allowing
these feelings to come out I would languish in them forever. Don't
get me wrong, most of my days are still dominated by depression and
feelings of pointlessness and dread. I am, however, spending much
less time with guilt and regret.

The second reaction I have to this idea of "never knowing what you
have" is to ask myself, "Would I have lived differently if I had known
before?" Obviously I am ignoring the important second factor of the
saying; yet it is a rut my mind has been stuck in. The initial answer
is to say that I would have spent more time with Colleen. I mean, I
would have spent more time with her over all of the years we were
together not just over the last two months of her life (that she spent
in the hospital). Clearly there is a connection to the flood of guilt
discussed above.

Then of course I realize that it would have been difficult to spend
more time with her. Career, family, and other obligations did take me
away from Colleen at times. It is easy to look back and say that I
would have given up that pointless meeting at work for another hour
with her. What fuels this desire for more time is even more guilt. I
remember Colleen's disappointment when I would come home from work and
it was later than she expected me home. My apologies to her seem so
inadequate now; she always said, "If you were really sorry, you would
have been home sooner or called."

In addition to questioning my own choices, I have to fight a desire to
try to "warn" others about "knowing what you have." In 2004 my
college advisor lost his wife to cancer. After she died, he told me
to appreciate what I had (as I had only been married a year at that
point). I remember not knowing exactly what he meant by that; I did
appreciate having Colleen in my life. Now I know the nuance and depth
of what he meant. The human animal always desires more and we desire
more strongly what we can't have. My friend's warning to appreciate
what I had comes in part from a place of jealousy. Certainly there is
also the notion that he might have "saved me from some regret." It
doesn't work that way though. I might be worse than him because I
want to stop random strangers (especially couples) to tell them to
appreciate life and the time they have. I have to stop myself from
admonishing friends and colleagues for not "focusing on what is
important." I am simply jealous; I want my love back.

So, while I could have altered a few minor decisions there really
isn't a way that life could have been different. I would/will always
want more time and I would never have enough. I have always been
haunted by the idea that you never know when you are going to loose
someone. Because of that, I never left Colleen without saying "I love
you" and knowing that she loved me. Her death, however, left me with
a splinter in my mind; unlike all of the Hollywood death scenes, we
did not have a final "moment" together. Colleen never woke up after
the infection was discovered. She died in my arms and now that she is
gone I know how important her love was.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Poem - Surviving the Storms

Each flash
of lightning
at four
in the morning
tells the street lights
to
blink.
Early hours
are often the hardest;
this is the time I had
reserved for
your needs.

I walk around our place
and mutter,
or sob,
or demand,
"Oh honey."
One way I ask "why"
and plea for your return
and condemn
god
or god's
nonexistence.

I turn the lights out
to appreciate
nature's performance
and I instinctively mutter,
"it's okay honey; I'm right here."
I wonder if
you
are here
telling me the same?

I walk around our place
and pick up everything
you had once touched;
like our cat, Lucy,
rubbing scent
onto
and off
of random objects.
By now I have
rubbed
off any
trace
of your magic.

The clouds move on
and rumble
in the distance;
the sun is peeking
over the horizon.
Early hours
are often the hardest;
this is when
my want
of you
is resumed.
At five
in the morning
I am resigned
to loneliness
and longing.

Birds

New Camera Test

I bought two refurbished Kodak C190 cameras from woot.com. One needs
to go back to Kodak because it won't read/write to the SD card. So, I
took the pictures above to test the other camera; I had to be sure it
worked before giving it to Mom.

I then used a program called Diptic on the iPad to make the collage
above. I am happy with both the camera and the program.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Colleen's Tree

Before the school year was out my students planted this tree behind
the school in honor of Colleen's memory and in honor of our
relationship. I was touched beyond words and impressed at the
emotional depth of my students.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Born to Ride

Dalton gave his sister a ride back to the lake from the farm.  Notice Mikal's puffed up cheeks from having her wisdom teeth extracted.  I will have to have that done soon too; ugh.

Visit To The Esser Lake House

Dad, Joe, Randy, and Molly sitting on the deck.
This is the view from the deck.
Takoda shooting hoops.
Miley, Mom, and Kelly getting their feet wet.
Takoda, Randy, and Molly coming into shore.
Here you can see Miley's webbed toes.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Pipestone National Monument

The only real stop I made today was at Pipestone. A beautiful place
with a lot of history. Well worth the $3.

Sometimes You Are the Bug

In the daylight this morning I could see another sign of my war with
the clouds of bugs last night. Looks like I won a few of the battles.
This picture truly does say a thousand words.

11:30 PM Check-In at Royal River

I pushed almost all the way back to the east side of SD. I got off
I90 at 37 and took 34 to Flandreau, SD.

Most of 34 goes through swamp/marsh land. This means that the
bugs were literally in clouds. When I stopped in Madison, SD I had to
scrape off the windshield and refill my washer fluid. This picture
shows the cloud of bugs (mostly mayflies) flying around the light at
the gas station.

Flandreau is where the Royal River Casino and Hotel iS located. They have great rooms
for only $50 a night. However, I didn't know the last 20 miles of 34
leading into Flandreau was "Rough". Massive portions of it
were no longer paved but were only gravel.

Travel is supposed to be an adventure right?

Crazy Horse Memorial

This was well worth the extra few miles. They have a great visitor
center with a theater and a huge collection of Native American
artwork. For a donation you can even take home a chunk of the rock
that has been "carved" away (and of course I gave five bucks for a
piece).

On my way back to I90 I went through Custer State Park, what a beautiful place.

Mt. Rushmore - Yes, I had to Do This Too

I figured that since I had gone all the way to Rapid City and Bear
Country I should go the few extra miles to see Mt. Rushmore. I can't
say I was that impressed or overcome with patriotism. If you have seen
it in photos, you've seen it. However, it is something I can now say
that I have done.

Bear Country USA

Bear Country is just a few miles south of Rapid City, SD. I happened
to be driving through during feeding time so I got to see about three
dozen bears all together (a few even passed right in front of my car
to get to the food). Colleen loved this place but I had never been
here with her. I see now why it is so appealing.

Wall Drug - Wall, SD

One of the many things that Wall Drug has in it is this traveler's
chapel. A nice quiet place to get away from the crowd.

The Badlands - One of Colleen's Places

In all of the other places I scattered Collen's ashes on the air and
in the water (as they were all close to water). In the badlands it
seemed more appropriate to let the wind and rain do the work on their
own time.

Badlands - Panorama 3

Badlands - Panorama 2

Badlands - Panorama 1

Okaton, SD

Okaton, SD has a few claims to fame. One is this iconic (now
collapsing) old grain mill. Another is that it has one of the
smallest post offices in the country.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Chamberlain, SD

A view from above of Chamberlain and the Missouri River. Truly a
beautiful place.

One of Colleen's Places

Here is the spot next to St. Joseph's Indian School on the Missouri
River where I scattered some of Colleen's ashes.

Mitchell, SD - Yes, I Did Have to Stop

So aside from fueling up and using the men's room I also swung by the
Corn Palace in Mitchell. You might be able to tell from the picture
that they were in the process of finishing the decorations.

Blue-Green Earth Giant

This 60 foot tall Jolly Green Giant is in Blue Earth, MN.

SPAM

At the Spam Museum in Austin, MN they have a rather elaborate stage
for a rather small TV that shows the famous "Spam" skit from Monty
Python's Flying Circus
.

Outside Dexter, Minnesota

Dexter, MN is one of the many communities in Minnesota to have
windmills nearby. It is amazing to think that there are hundreds of
these. The size of one individual windmill is impressive. I can't
help from feeling a little like these are something out of War of
the Worlds
; especially in a photo like this where you can see them
far into the distance against an ominous sky.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Baraboo Dells Airshow

I am posting this to test blogger's post from email using my iPad. If
it works, it will be a slick way to post content to this blog.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Poem - Care Givers

(dedicated to the staff of four center)

When she yelled out in pain
I know you comforted her.
At times her pain
became your pain;
you were desperate
to help her and
disappointed when
you could not.

At 2:00 am when she wanted ice
I know you brought it to her
with a spoon.
Often you also had to help
feed her the ice chips.
My heart is warmed by the
cool relief you brought her.

When she needed a sympathetic ear
I know you listened.
You made no judgments of her.
Often you comforted her and
gave her a reason to let
some of her anxiety go.

When I cried out with her last breath
you were there to comfort me.

And many of you joined me
in sadness.

And many of you joined me
in my relief that
her pain was gone.

My Love, My Wife

It has been a long time since I posted here. My wife's battle with numerous medical issues ended on May 18.

I miss her more than words can say and I always will.

Now, I am left to plan out a new future. Part of that future will be to pursue my Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

I will be reworking this site to be a place for me to put my writing; I need to get back to the discipline of writing.