Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Cabin Still

Last Saturday I did something I wasn't sure I'd ever do again—I sat on the stern plate of a canoe and propelled it around a lake. To be sure, it was a small lake, but I was paddling nonetheless and the torque of my J-stroke on my spine was painless. Whew. 

Susan was in the bow and the experience stimulated a silent upwelling of good memories.

Back when I was eight years old and among the youngest cohort of campers at Camp Easton for Boys (Ely MN), I was introduced to the gentle art of canoeing—something completely foreign to my upbringing in the suburbs of Chicago. I took to it right away and it's been part of my persona ever since. All together I figure I've spent about a year of my life in the back of a canoe. Not so much these days, of course, but the association persists.

Even a brief circumnavigation of the shores of a quiet lake in northern Wisconsin was evocative. It was a highlight moment for Susan and me.

The Long Goodbye
Last weekend was also saying goodbye to a cabin that had been in Susan's life the last 30 years. It belongs to good friends Ray and Elsie (who live in Minneapolis) and is on the shores of Spring Lake, about 15 miles east of Spooner WI. Susan would be invited to join them at the cabin once or twice a summer and all their kids grew up sharing that experience. Since getting together with Susan three years ago the invitations have included me as well.

Living in the north, Susan always aspired to have a cabin of her own, but her first partner, Tony, wasn't into the maintenance and it didn't happen. The next best thing, of course, is having friends with cabins and on that account Susan has fared much better. Susan has lots of friends.

Still, Ray & Elsie's cabin is the one she's enjoyed most frequently, and the joy of our visit was somewhat undercut by the bittersweet knowledge that Ray & Elsie had accepted an offer on the property and this would be our last visit. By the end of June another Minneapolis couple will own the cabin.

So we made the most of it, arising each morning to witness sunrise over the lake. We saw bald eagles, hawks, heron, hummingbirds, and Baltimore orioles. Although it was warm enough for mosquitoes, we were relatively protected on the screened-in porch that overlooks the lake—the perfect place to enjoy a good novel (I read two). We all took turns cooking, washing dishes, and dranking more beer than on a typical weekend.

We brought Lucie with us and she loved being allowed to free roam in the nearby woods, and go for dips in the lake when it suited her. Her biggest challenge was sharing space with Ray & Elise's 18-month-old puppy, Polly, who invariably wanted to play more than Lucie (our grand dame at 11 years old). Even so, Lucie got plenty of exercise and slept like a log on the drive home Sunday.

The first thing I did after unloading the car back in Duluth was take a nap. That nonstop relaxing at the cabin can really take it out of you.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

May the Fourth Be with You

Susan and I attended the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra's season-ending performance this evening, where we enjoyed both a 60-degree evening (don't laugh—that's warm for the first week of May in Duluth) and a program styled Along the Mediterranean. The balmy weather helped put us in the mood for that program.

We enjoyed a set of five up-tempo compositions, concluding with Ravel's Bolero—one of my favorite orchestral pieces. After a boffo crescendo ending and a standing O for all the various soloists, we were ready to head for the exit, when our puckish maestro, Dirk Meyer, took advantage of the calendar, grabbed the mic, and sent us off to summer with a surprise encore, introduced with the semi-cryptic entrée, "May the Fourth be with you." The DSSO then launched into a spirited rendition of John Williams' Star Wars Overture.

It was a delightful way to spend Saturday night.

Especially after having spent eight hours volunteering at St Paul's annual rummage sale earlier in the day, which pretty much took the starch out of Susan and me. The Episcopal Church netted something north of $2000—mostly on sales of items that sold for $5 or less (I counted the cash at the end and we had accumulated a whopping 235 one-dollar bills)—so that was a healthy outcome. 

Email Purgatory
Today's busy schedule helped take my mind off the need to dig out from under the 474 emails that had piled up last week when I was suddenly unable to send or receive email for eight days. For reasons that still baffle me (gremlins?) my email program (Apple Mail) suddenly asked me for my Google password and I had no idea what it was. My computer had been automatically logging me in for years and I was dead in the water.

The problem first surfaced April 21 (which meant I was fully grounded on Earth Day—just not in a good way) and it didn't get resolved until the following Monday. As email is far and away my main connection to the information superhighway, I was in big doo-doo. Sure, I was able to handle the odd bit of business via telephone but mostly I was on hold, hoping that I wasn't missing too many time-sensitive requests.

While I had no trouble with connectivity and therefore had full access to the internet, nothing is more crippling to me than than loss of email. It's how I conduct almost all of my business these days, excepting only the live work I do with clients.

After spending 48 hours monkeying around on my own (trying all manner of possible passwords) it was time to call in reinforcements. So I took my laptop in to George Reindl, my go-to Apple guy at Downtown Computer. Although George needed help from both FIC (the Fellowship controls the ic.org domain that I've always used as my primary email address and I first needed to get a new password for my alias) and from Google, he eventually got it sorted out—including correcting the setting mistakes I made in my ham-handed attempts to fix the problem myself.

Now I have four days left to get everything caught up before alighting in Vancouver BC next Thursday for the start of a new two-year facilitation training, which will occupy my entire bandwidth. Because of my penchant to travel by rail, that means two of my remaining four days I'll be on rolling stock. Departing from St Paul's (the city, not the church) Union Depot Monday evening at 10:20 pm, I'm due to get to Vancouver at 11:00 pm Wednesday.

Fortunately, I can be productive on a moving train (I'm not susceptible to motion sickness) and I'll have connectivity en route via the hotspot I can set up on my iPhone. So four days should be enough.

It will have to be. Or the Fourth will not have been with me enough.