The Path We Take

I heard Henry whine-harumph.  I did not open my eyes.  I could sense, from the warm breath on my face, that he was likely an inch from me.  He was awake, having heard my early-waking father upstairs making coffee.  With my eyes still closed, I asked Henry if I could get 15 more minutes of sleep; he wanted nothing to do with that desire.  He licked my face.

Henry, my five-year-old basset, and I had traveled up to Hibbing the day before.  I had waffled on the heading north for a while.  Melissa was heading the opposite direction with a load of puppies and plans to work with her horse, Victor.  In the ended, Melissa said she could take, in addition to puppies, the other dogs with her to the kennel; Henry and I could venture north for a long weekend.

I rolled off the couch, put on pants and socks, walked up stairs.  Henry happily followed.  Even though there is a guest room at my parent’s, I have always have chosen to sleep in the basement on the couch.  Henry takes a chair that once resided in grandparent’s house.  The guest room in my parent’s house is actually the room that my sister and I once shared when we were in the low-to-mid-single-digits of age.  Later, the room would become just my sister’s.   Since that time, has been remodeled.  New wall-covering, new hardwood flooring; it’s a different room from the room my sister claimed as hers in the early-to-mid-90s.  Henry is a wanderer and harumpher.  Any detectable motion on the part of the parents, and I feel Henry would want to investigate.  It works best if Henry and I just stay elsewhere in the house.

Coffee and toast was had while my mother discussed with me a recent study she had read that involved the efficacy of placebos.  I brought up a question that had been rolling around in my head that involved charter schools and success of public education systems.  An email arrived, it was from my good friend Pete.  In addition to sitting in on a hearing or two today, did I want to have lunch, too – maybe noon?  Yes, I did.  I needed to get going then; it would be at least an hour and half drive to Two Harbors, and it was 9:45am.

With a reassuring pat on Henry’s head that I would return later, I headed out for Two Harbors.

Periodically, I notice that people cycle back into my life.  Sometimes, the person runs parallel with me for years only to disappear and then reappear a couple years later, or reappear just for lunch once every six months.  Some, through happenstance, who have been absent thirty-years, come into contact, maybe via email or text message, only to have emails and text never returned.  Others, after a year or two, disappear all together.  Life sometimes has hard turns where you jettison individuals who were not hanging on tight enough.  I wrote about this idea a while ago.  The idea of hard inflection points in ones path that sends two friends in different directions.  The idea that individuals cycle back, even just for the briefest of moments, is phenomenon that sometimes bewilders me and sometimes amazes me.

I have known Pete for thirty years.  It was not until college, however, that we became great friends. Maybe we connected because of our hard times; I was coming off of having been ill and out of school for my entire senior year of school; Pete was mentally digesting a death of a parent.  In 2003, Pete was best man in my wedding, and eleven years later, I returned the favor by being best man in his wedding.  Throughout grade school and high school, Pete and I were always in the same mathematics and science focused courses and after school programs.  I remember making an text-based animation of a race car hitting a wall – all in BASIC on an Apple IIe – in an after-school science program.  After two years at the community college in Hibbing, I followed the woman I had been dating to Duluth; Pete stayed on at the community college one more year.  We drifted apart for a few years.
IMG_2810The road to Two Harbors is almost mind-numbingly straight.  There are a couple turns or twists, but from a turn around the Makinen area up to Bassett Lake, the road is without a curve.  There are a few turns and bends around Bassett Lake, a final ninety-degree right turn south, and then more straight road into Two Harbors.  Even on an overcast day with a bit of moisture in the air, Lake Superior can been seen in the distance as you drive south, descending in elevation as you approach the town and lake.

The woman that I followed to Duluth had already been at the university in Duluth for a year.  In the overlap time of my attendance at the community college and her living in Duluth and attending university there, too, I had made traveling to Duluth for weekends a routine.  From time to time, the weekend visits would involve meeting other university friends of hers.  One such friend was Belissa.

I arrived at the courthouse in Two Harbors.  I had visited Pete and his place of work one other time, a number of years but the potential location of his office was not coming back to me.  The courthouse, however, has one courtroom.  The placard on the main entrance to the courtroom said, “Quiet, In Session”; Pete was in court at the moment.  I took a seat outside the courtroom.

Several months after I moved to Duluth, the relationship with the woman whom I had followed ended.  Belissa would become a person I saw now and again in the hallways at the university.  Pete was off in North Dakota causing mischief under the guise of “going to school.”  Everyone’s paths diverged.

The hearing Pete was reporting for ended, and the courtroom opened up.  I slipped into the back of the gallery and took a seat.  The next hearing started.  A mea culpa from the public defenders office for dropping the ball on the matter at the hand, a testy prosecution because of the dropped ball, a tentative rescheduling of the matter by the judge, and the hearing was over.  A short time later, Pete and I were heading to place a bit up the shore for lunch.

Visiting with Pete and sitting in on hearings in a rural courthouse was the plan for the day.  The evening, however, would involve attending a wedding reception.  Adam and Belissa’s wedding reception.

This is the strange sort of cycling back that I refer to.  I have known Adam since shortly after meeting Melissa.  He and I formed a software consulting business in the mid-2000s.  I knew him before he had kids with his to-be first wife.  Somehow, two individuals from two different areas of my past met, and are forging forward with a new path – together.

I left the reception after a couple hours.  I was exhausted, but still had the hour and half drive back to Hibbing.

Gardenless Summer with a Side of Change

Minneapolis Sky Line from the UofM

Before I went to Japan, things had been bothering me.  I was not as happy as I would have liked to be with my day job; something felt off, out of whack, and unbalanced.  I need a change.  Melissa was not content with her day job; she could use a change, too.

We talked it over and settled upon exploring the possibility of moving away from the Duluth area.  Perhaps, even perchance, we move to Twin Cities area – Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota.  But, first, we needed jobs.  But before needed to look for jobs, I needed to head to Japan for two weeks.  Job perusing would have to wait until I returned from the land of the rising sun.

As much as I dislike Sheryl Crow, she was spot on with a change would do you good.  Japan was what I needed in March.  Japan was what helped me step back from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.  Slowly, the idea of moving for opportunities, for change, seemed more appealing.

Months before leaving for Japan, we had put our spring plans into motion; ordering chickens and ducks, and hoping to fence in the front yard for a larger vegetable garden.  Grape vines were ordered to place along the fence that divided the chickens from the dogs.  Last fall, we even started to cover the grass in the front yard with cardboard, compost and dirt.

Shortly after returning from Japan, I set to work retooling my resume and began to drop a line into the Twin Cities’ job pool.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago; I quit my job at the University of Minnesota Duluth for a job in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota in the Minnesota Population Center.  Melissa will be starting a job in the Twin Cities at a local home brew and wine-making-supply company doing odd job IT work.  We sold all the chickens in Proctor; we moved all the Proctor beehives to Normanna Township; we repainted the house; we refinished the hardwood floors in the house; we sold our house and close on the sale in late July.

In the mean time, I am staying with my in-laws in St. Paul with one of the hounds; Melissa will be joining me next week.  Looking for a new house to call home is most likely my least favorite part of this leg of the adventure of changing careers.  But that is purely a whine on my part.

So, no gardens this season, no chickens this season, and no hives at our home (at the moment).


Alex has prompted me to write something.

Most days I come in contact with two people: al-who i share the house with-and my mother-whose arm i wrap just about every day (more on that at a later date). both of these people have memory issues. al is dealing with the residual effects of a stroke 8 years ago and my mother is dealing with the residual effects of living to the age of 87. interestingly enough, i’m often the one with the best memory. “best” here is obviously a relative term and it only really only applies to my short-term memory. long term memory has never been my long suit. i’m just too good of a fabulist. it must be the Irish in me.)
it’s said that steel sharpens steel. the meaning being, i think, that like things are best suited for this task. if this were not so, the saying would be that a banana makes a great sharpening tool. i’ve not heard this said. so i’m getting nervous. i ‘ve not been spending much time with whip-sharp individuals.
i;ve been known at various times in my life for my sharp wit, my sharp tongue, my sharp teeth, and razor-like stare. i’ve been know to make many cutting remarks. some of my observations have been not only insightful but also incisive.
but lately, i suspect that the knife metaphor is dulling abit. the edge is being taken off so to speak.
actually,a rather good short-term memory has held me in stead so far… i remember especially well things that i’ve eaten recently that were exceptionally tasty.. the scrambled egg with thyme on toast with a dash of hot sauce this morning comes readily enough to mind. as does the great 2006 bogle merlot that i had a few nights ago… an aside: i got the very last case at the liquor store which is something i’ll long remember, i’m sure. it was a coup. i also remember very well where i put my keys and my scarf and where you or you put y
but my inabaility to sharpen my skills on the minds of those around me matters not a shred to my mother. she has always prided herself on being the sharpest mind in town. her scrabble score is always substantially higher than anyone else’s. she does at least two crossword puzzles a day. but recently the lights are dimming in the short-term remembrance department. and she’s not a bit amused. in fact, when i mentioned that i was toiling at this blog ( and after i reminded her what a blog was-again) and that it was about the subject of memory, the air got decidedly chilly when i brought up her less than stellar abilities. she was again not amused.
she doesn’t take well to being less than perfect.
(being the slowest, clumsiest, roundest,last one to be picked kid on the block. i think i got that lesson learned very early.)

ah well… i’ve worked hard enough at this for now.later i’ll buff this blog to a sheen of published perfection.  if i remember i’ll also write  about the times that i’ve let the kettle boil down to nothing but pan and the ensuing billows of smoke that filled the house as enamel melted and metal met its match in heat. .. and about the smoke alarm which failed to sound as someone had forgotten to change the batteries.

say, that’s some damn good remembering!