Services Family John R. Borchert



To all our friends and family:
We know many of you probably thought we vanished from earth for the last few years,
but really we just got caught up in an accelerating pace of kid's activities, our work,
graduate school, and extended families.  Rather than even try to describe everything we
have done, we thought a few scenes from the life of the Borcherts might be fun.....

July 1992:  We are camped among the inspiring redwoods of Northern California after a
drive up the coast from San Francisco.  The lush ancient forest gives way to a low
canopy of evergreen shrubs sculpted by the winds off of the Pacific, then clean white
sand and an infinite expanse of  blue ocean.  Three children from distant Minnesota
frolic at the waters edge, digging up vast mountains of sand and carving them into
fantasy landscapes.   A scene of trouble free escapades........well.........

Better watch out Tom, sand is an excellent abrasive.  If you dig furiously for hours with
your bare hands, you might miss all those layers of skin on your sensitive finger tips.  It
brings back memories of the nightly changing of the bandages on Tom's hands for the
next week.

Was someone missing from that divine scene of forest, sand and surf?  Why Pat of
course, busy hobbling around a Laundromat on crutches washing sleeping bags and
blankets and apparently most of the contents of our rented mini-van.  The scenic curves
of California Highway 1 had claimed a victim.  "Motion discomfort" has afflicted our
smallest passenger... on a full stomach... everywhere.  It could have been worse, it could
have been our car.

But what about Pat!  Crutches?  Hobbling?  This sad tale dates back to our first full day
in San Francisco.  A busy schedule of events was planned., the beach, the zoo, and so
on.  One misstep off of a high curb and a hospital emergency room replaced everything
on the schedule after beach.  Supported by crutches and an ankle brace Pat bravely
hobbled through a ten day car-camping trip from the redwoods to Crater Lake to Mt.
Lassen to Yosemite and finally Big Sur.  By the time she put her feet back up on her
desk at work they were almost the same size.

February 1993:  In the basement 10 kids on two different Odyssey of the Mind teams are
busily sewing costumes, bolting together inventions, and painting props.  Through a
remarkably inefficient trial and error process, a variety of mechanical inventions are
evolving down in the "OM dungeon".  A robotic dinosaur blinks, waves his arms, wags
his tail, and chews with his mouth open..  For what seems like the millionth time a kid-
made wooden gear fails to work the way it's supposed to in a ratchet drive for a vehicle. 
Will it work in time for competition.......?  Read on!

Meanwhile, upstairs our old kitchen has been converted into a pile of rubble in the
driveway.  Pat's brother Paul  busily works on our kitchen remodeling while living in his
camper out in our driveway.  In a convergence of the Sand relations, Pat's father, Carl,
takes up temporary residence in Karen's room while he recovers from a serious stroke
and Pat's mother, Doris, enters a nursing home a few miles south of our house as her
Alzheimer's progresses.  Meanwhile, Pat is still keeping up with her schoolwork,
finishing her second year in a 2-yr. Master's degree program in Management of
Technology.  Maybe she should be applying her course in Project Management in
figuring out how to run this chaotic household.

Luckily, we both still have challenging, fun jobs in the ever-changing computer
industry.  Ah, but is that Dave, shuffling into work, unshaven and wearing his bath-
robe?  The floor of his office is carpeted with waste paper and the desk is a jumble of
modems, computer equipment, file folders, and coffee cups.  We are witnessing the
brave new world of tele-commuting and it is NOT pretty.  And what about Pat - after
taking off four weeks to take care of her parents, Pat returned back to Empros, and
discovered that when Siemens buys her division of Control Data in March of '93, they
are going to shut down the development effort she has been managing for the last two
years and make Empros use the almost equivalent Siemens product.  What a deal ! 
Well, that didn't sound like much fun, and Pat didn't have much to do anyway, so she
went looking for a different job in her spare time.

In the most remarkable example of dogged persistence and inventiveness we have ever
witnessed, Carl went from wheel chair to walker to cane to walking.  The obstacle
course of OM props and toys that usually confronted  him outside his room probably
helped sharpened his navigational skills.  Every task performed out of habit had become
a challenging problem to solve.  It was an amazing process of adaptation and innovation
to watch as he regained his independence.  Faced with a daunting and uncertain task, we
never sensed any frustration or disappointment from Carl, only determination and
optimism.  By summer, Carl drove back to his home on Lake Mille Lacs, where he is
enjoying his independence and a peace and quiet that are hard to find in our household.

Doris' Alzheimer's has been relatively stable for many months now.  Despite the
memory loss she still has a great sense of humor and is showing real joy and affection
for others (including her favorite squirrel puppet she has declared her "baby") - a bit of a
shift for this particular Scandinavian.

Back to the OM teams!  The dinosaurs of Tom's OM team nosed out the competition at
the regional competition, which promoted them to the Minnesota state competition
(remember the Peter Principle?).  The vehicle for Mike's team almost performed well
enough to propel them into first place at the regional competition... but not quite.  If
they had just rebuilt that gear one more time...... 

And the kitchen.  Spank'n new and up to date in every way!  But, following the
immutable laws of home remodeling and project management, late and over budget. 

July, 1993:  Look at the happy crew starting out on their family vacation on a Sunday
afternoon.  Tom is happy because his soccer team just finished first in his league for the
second year in a row.  Karen is ecstatic because when she returns, she gets to live a girl's
"dream come true" - to feel like a princess as a flower girl in a wedding.  Pat is happy to
leave behind the chaotic work environment endemic to a small, rapidly growing
software development company she recently joined.  Mike is looking forward to fishing,
and Dave to some quiet reading.  But what happens when we look closer....

The parents are exhausted from staying up until 3 am packing.  Tom's happiness about
soccer this year wasn't complete, since he played most of the season with a 4 cm. sliver
in his foot (leftover from an injury sliding across an unfinished floor - remember the
kitchen project?). 

After a few hours, it starts to rain.  Good, then the vegetables won't need watering while
we are gone.  Of course, there aren't many vegetables planted this year, since Dave was
so busy running the whole household while Pat finished school.  But that's okay, since
the weather's been so cold and wet that most of the plants rotted anyway (and what
didn't rot was eaten by the woodchuck), and the garden is now mostly crabgrass.

Back to the trip - it starts out with a rainy night in Ely, followed by clouds, wind and
strong suggestions from the ranger to plan a less aggressive trip, since the portages are
all a muddy mess, and storms are a daily occurrence.  Thinking back on how much
"good luck" we had on our last family vacation (remember San Francisco?), we took his
suggestion, and we had a relaxing 9-day trek through Quetico.

Now it is Christmas, 1993:  Everyone is healthy.  Life is still hectic, but not completely
out of control.  Each child has special interests, both parents are gainfully employed, the
house is warm (and not under construction), and we enjoy each other's company.  What
more could we want?


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