Family Camp – 2020

Grace Baptist Church Family Camp is an event we attend every year as honorary Baptists. That’s mainly because we are related to some of the members and also because they just like us. The “also” is an opinion but I’m sticking with it.

We departed civilization on Tuesday, July 28th and completed the the trip, that normally takes about an hour, in about an hour. It’s really not that far away … just over the hill about 5 miles from Vernonia. Vernonia is only about 25 miles from home and Google maps thinks it’s only a 38 minute drive. What Google Maps doesn’t know is that the road is only 2 lanes and it’s very curvy. Therefore, I’ll stand by my claim that it’s about an hour away, which it truly is, unless Diane’s driving.

I will surely be in trouble for revealing that last bit …

The camp doesn’t officially begin until Friday but we die hards (the old people) arrive early to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before the children descend to make a joyful noise. We took three of them with us so we had a head start, and that’s just fine. They were good as gold the entire time.

Since Vernonia is only about 32 miles from Forest Grove, where the Sunset Grove Golf Course is, it was decided that I should meet Doug there Wednesday morning for golf. I figured, “What the heck, I’m in the area, so why not do that?” So, I did. Turns out that the golf course is closer to Scappoose, where Doug lives, than it is to Big Eddy. But, I made it on time and we had a wonderful time. We always do. I lost, of course, because I always do. You’d think that since I always keep score I’d win one once in a while. The trouble is, even with fudging the numbers a little, Doug still wins.

Back to camp …

Big Eddy Park is located along the Nehalem River just off Highway 47, the road from Vernonia to Clatskanie. Big Eddy Park and I go back a long ways to April 20, 1968, when my big brother, Jack, thought it would be a good idea for me to participate in the Nehalem River Boat Race. Seemed like a fun thing to do so I was all in. What wasn’t related until later was that as we passed under each bridge along the way he would drop half a case of beer to us. After a couple of bridges I figured out that it wasn’t really a race at all. It was just a reason to float down the river and drink beer.

The fact that I was getting married later that day was the primary reason for involving me in the ‘race’. Jack, you see, was my best man and it was his job to make the day memorable. He did that.

When we finally made it ashore at Big Eddy I admit I was ready for a nap. I had no idea what time it was, but I remember getting to the church in plenty of time for the ceremony and I totally remember the entire ceremony. It was awesome!

Back to camp, again …

Diane and I spent time around the camp fire with Daniel, Jennifer, Lydia, and Jeran, and anyone else who had a notion to join us. Yes, we were socially compliant, keeping our distance, but I’m pretty sure we could have sat a little closer because the fire surely burned up any virus bits that came into our area.

The kids, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie, ran wild all day, every day, until they got hungry. Then we fed them so they could go out for another round.

The bottom of the river throughout Big Eddy Park is covered with river rock. Those are the nicely rounded rocks that don’t kill your feet when you step on them barefoot unless you’re old like me. Then you wear shoes. Kids spend a lot of time looking for the pretty rocks when they aren’t actively floating around on an inner-tube. Here’s the best rock of the day that a little girl found:

Pure agate. Biggest one I’ve ever seen in the wile.

Here are my girls in a rare moment of inactivity …

Lydia, Gilligan, Baylee, Jerrie

Bronson even came along for a couple of days but had to leave because it was all a bit stressful for him.

Bronson

Diane made camping more homey with her kitty slippers …

Jennifer and Daniel cooked gourmet meals twice a day throughout the entire stay because they are on the Whole 30 diet …

I tried some of it and it was really good.

Jennifer braided hair for anyone who had hair long enough and wanted it done. Mine wasn’t quite there, yet, so i missed out. Little Jerrie didn’t, though …

Gilligan, Jeran, Daniel, and Lydia spent a lot of time running their long boards around the park. Lydia is the only one I could capture. The others were just too fast for me …

We came home last Sunday afternoon, when church service was over, then returned the children to their rightful owners, and took. naps.

Camping is hard work.

My Dentist’s Assistant

Lisa. That’s her name. Diane and I have known her for the last 31 years which is pretty amazing because I’m pretty sure she isn’t that old. It could be that I’m just a bad guesser, or that she’s really that old and just doesn’t look the part. Either way, she’s in a position where she can look up my nose at will when I visit my dentist because she’s got the left seat in all events with regard to my mouth’s continued good health.

Concerning looking up the nose … I’ve asked dental assistants and hygienists in the past if they look up people’s noses while they work and without fail they all say, “No!” With an exclamation point! I’m guessing that perhaps they may not have done it in the past, but by asking the question I instilled in them an urge to look. I’ve considered sticking colorful items in my nose to make it worthwhile for them to peek but Diane didn’t think that would be a good idea. So I’ve not done that. Yet.

This morning at 0745 I was parked outside the office and called the office to let them know I was parked outside. That’s the rule. There is no sitting in a waiting room until being called in for the appointment. Nope. Once checked in, we just sit in our vehicles until someone comes out to get us. Then we put on our masks as we’re escorted to The Chair. My mask is made of Sponge Bob material so it’s quite festive. Jennie made it for me.

It was Lisa who came to get me which pleased me because she’s pretty much family. I like that and I trust her implicitly.

The last time I was at the dentist, just a few weeks ago, it was Cheryl who came to get me because I was there to have my teeth cleaned and she’s my hygienist. It was during this cleaning that faulty teeth were found which necessitated today’s visit. It was either faulty teeth, or the Dr. had a car payment pending and needed a little help. Either way, it was necessary.

Lisa got me all prepped in The Chair, took an x-ray, then let the Dr. know I was ready when he was. While waiting for him Lisa held a little raffle out front to see who would give me the shot to deaden half my face. Tracey, the newest Hygienist in the office lost. Perhaps this task fell to her by default because she’s the new kid on the block and there wasn’t a raffle. In all honesty, Lisa asked if I wanted the Doc to give me the shot or if I was OK with someone picked at random. I told her I was OK with the random pick as long as she was pretty. I was pretty confident that it was OK for me to make that request because all the ladies in the office are pretty and they are all qualified. Really, they are. Ask Diane.

I was left alone for a while before Lisa return and went to work installing a ‘rubber dam’ in my mouth. Actually, that’s a small tarp that’s put in place for preparing a tooth for a crown. It’s there to catch all the debris created by the doctor as he grinds the offending tooth down to a little nub. The tarp also ensure the smoke from grinding down the tooth is funneled right up your nose to ensure you get the full effect of what’s happening. There’s nothing quite like the smell of burning ivory.

Once the grinding is done, and the smoke has cleared, the doctor uses a digitizing tool to capture an image of area, where the tooth used to be, which is input into a pretty nifty software tool that helps him create the crown. Once done he sends the results to their blacksmith shop, just around the corner in the next room, where a cutting machine gets to work manufacturing the new tooth that will be glued in place.

I waited a long time for Lisa to return, knowing it wasn’t a speedy process, but when she did it was bad news. She said they had to re-mill the tooth because the first one had a chip in it.

I waited another long time, taking a little nap, then Lisa returned with good news that the second time worked. She handed the new tooth to the doctor who did some preliminary grinding. When he put it in place it was pretty tight but he fixed that by removing it and doing some more grinding. Once he was satisfied he handed the new tooth to Lisa and left. List took the new tooth and put it in the oven, the final step for the tooth before adding glue. It has to be baked in a kiln to make sure it’s hard like a rock and it takes a while to cool down.

Long story short, the crown was glued in place, Lisa cleaned me up, and escorted me to the front desk where I was compelled to fork over my most recent Social Security check for services rendered. I had to do that because I don’t have dental insurance.

Then I went home. In all, I was strapped to The Chair for 3 hours wishing I had my iPad, but it was in the car with a nearly dead battery.

Once home I cooked all the necessary items I wanted for a breakfast burrito. I ate all of it then went outside and painted the front porch.

In a couple of hours I’ll go out and give it another coat and call it a day.

Serendipity

A week or so ago, someone’s adult Daughter received a phone call from a friend of her Mother-in-law who shared a story about a young 9-months-pregnant mother of two, 5 and 7. Her children are in foster care and she knew she would make a better choice to give her baby to a Christian family and give him a great life. She sought help from the Mother-in-law’s friend who, in turn, sought help from the adult Daughter.

The Adult Daughter immediately thought about engaging her pastor for assistance, but he wasn’t available. However, the Children’s Minister was.

After digesting the situation, and understanding the concern for an immediate need, the Children’s Minister ended the call saying she would call back soon.

When she did, it was with a solution to the problem.

It turns out the Children’s Minister and her husband took all of the necessary training for adopting a child through foster care last year, but they were never called to serve. Then the pandemic created a situation where officials were afraid to move anyone anywhere. So, the Minister’s family went without a call but continued to pray for an opportunity to provide a good home to a child in need, and a potential sibling for their own daughters, 5 and 7.

The Children’s Minister told the Adult Daughter the she and her husband wanted the baby. The entire situation was like a God Send in that it came at an opportune time for a family excited and ready for a child, and for the expectant mother who desperately wanted a loving family for her baby.

On the surface it appears there may have been a lot of twists and turns to this situation but in reality it only took two phone calls to ease the mind of a young mother, and raise up the spirits of another. All the potential possibilities of who to call for help resulted in a straight line from a problem to a solution in one day.

As of today, the baby has joined his new family and is doing fine, as is his birth mother, and his adoptive mother. That it all happened so fast is amazing.

If that doesn’t make you believe that higher powers were involved in the decisions of who to call, we need to talk.

With a little embellishment, this could be a very enlightening movie, don’t you think?

Jibberish

It’s now July 8, and I must get creative, but first I need food.

That’s a haiku poem. Really it is I know this. They don’t have to rhyme.

Actually, both of those are haiku. Not a planned one, but it kinda worked out. In case you don’t know, haiku poems consist of 3 lines in a 5-7-5 syllable format. It’s interesting to make words fit that pattern because you just never know what comes out. At least, I don’t.

Yesterday it rained buckets and buckets, after I got home from golf. Didn’t get rained on even one time on the golf course so it must have been fun, right? It was, even though I did my usual terrible game. To help with my frustration, I’ve started counting only the good strokes which allow me to wind up with a respectable score. I know, that doesn’t make sense because I’m not in competition with anyone so why bother, right? I think I’ll just skip the scorecard next time.

It’s supposed to start clearing up today so maybe I can mow the yard again. I kinda like following my exercise machine around the yard. Makes it pretty and Diane likes that.

Our 3 blueberry bushes are producing prodigious amounts of berries since we fenced them off from the deer. I could have done that in years past but figured the deer like the berries more than I did. That, and picking them is a lot like a job that must be done every day till they are all gone. The deer kept them neatly trimmed.

Yesterday afternoon Diane looked out the kitchen window and saw one of the neighbor’s small goats with his head through the fence around their garden chomping away on what I think was a potato bush. Maybe it’s just a plant. I don’t know. It just has lots of leaves and the goat really liked it. I went out and watched for a while, then let Jeff know what was going on so he could call Jen, the neighbor, so she might salvage part of the plant. In hindsight, I suspect I probably should have let them know sooner. Goats can eat a lot in a short period of time. I’m thinking about renting a couple of Jen’s goats to eat the blackberry bushes across the street where we park some of our vehicles. I’ve cut them down numerous times over the years but they just won’t go away. If you aren’t plagued with blackberries let me know. I’ll send you some. I’m pretty sure doing that would violate a bunch of laws, but I’m willing to chance it if you are.

Actually, I’m not. I won’t send them to you, but you are more than welcome to come visit and take with you as many of the vines as you wish when you leave. If you wait for another month, or so, you can pick some ripe berries and make me a pie which I will happily eat as I watch you toil. I’m really good at sitting around watching people toil. Just ask Diane. She’ll tell you I’m right. I’m a professional toil watcher.

On Monday Diane got up early so she could get me to my VA appointment in Hillsboro on time. Like normal, she dropped me off out front then made a beeline to her favorite store (Goodwill) up the street a ways.

I wandered up to the 3rd floor, arriving in plenty of time, only to learn that I really didn’t have an appointment. Well, I did, but it isn’t until July 28th. I was 22 days early. That’s kind of epic, don’t you think? I mean, people are either a little early or late by a matter of minutes, but 22 days? Really?

I didn’t call Diane right away to inform her that she got the appointment wrong on the calendar because I knew it would ruin her chi. I kinda do that unintentionally on a regular basis, ruin her chi, throughout the course of a week but not quite as profoundly as getting an appointment wrong by 22 days. Oh, and it wasn’t her that got it wrong. It was me.

Finally I called her and she answered while digging through a pile of clothes in children’s sizes that had just been made available. It would have been easier to report my mistake if she’d been in the book section instead. Nope. Had to catch her in the kids clothes.

I told her what I’d done then went outside to sit on the curb because I didn’t want to wear my little Sponge Bob mask any longer. I told her to take her time but she rushed right back to get me. Unfortunately, Goodwill isn’t far enough away from the VA facility to allow disappointment to fade away. Not even my bright and smiley face could make it better. Thankfully, she was hungry (hangry, actually) so she drove us to Elmer’s to see if it was open. It was, so we had breakfast. After coffee and a couple pieces of really crispy bacon, she was OK and we could safely continue with our day. The trip to town wasn’t a total waste. For me a trip anywhere with my bride is special. Even to a very early doctor appointment.

After we got home I think we both took naps. Going to the Portland area does that to us. Actually, getting up and walking around the house for a while does that. Naps a good.

Looking back a few paragraphs made me hungry so I’m feel the need to go fire up the stove and cook something. If I don’t I’m sure I’ll go into a diabetic coma and that’d make Diane a little cranky. It always does.

Stay safe and keep your distance.

4th of July & Other Stuff

Yesterday was the 4th of July, the day when everyone in our town gathers on the streets near our house to ignite all the fireworks they’ve accumulated since they became available in mid-June. There is speculation that some folks fire off rockets left over from last year but I’m pretty sure that isn’t true because the noise begins on July 1st with a few sticks of dynamite being ignited sporadically every few hours. The tempo increases each day until the 4th when it seems to become a competition to see who can make the most noise until everyone runs out of ammo.

Prior to enjoying the neighbors noise, Diane and I went downtown for a flag raising ceremony at the old court house. That’s done at 1:30 pm, prior to the bell ringing at 2:00 pm. The American Legion Post 42 in St. Helens, to which I belong, provides the manpower to ring the bells all over town at facilities that have bells to ring. They are in churches, and the fire department mainly, in addition to the bell near the public docks in front of the old court house. That one is from the old Warrior Rock lighthouse up the river a ways from St. Helens. The bell was moved and was replaced by a new one at some point in the past.

That’s the bell I’ve been ringing for a number of years but Roger has taken over that job because I was a bit late one year. So I just go along to help Roger count to 13. That’s what we do with the ringing – 13 times starting at 2:00 pm, one strike for each of the original colonies.

This is Roger and me.

Me and Roger

I know. We look the same except he trims his beard, I don’t.

For reference, this one is of my Bride and me. Diane doesn’t have a beard.

Technically, anything that attains a lofty altitude, then explodes, is illegal in Oregon, but those devises are readily available in Washington which is just a hop and a skip away over the river. So, anyone willing to spend a small fortune on things that go boom, loads up and returns home to share with their neighbors, whether or not the neighbors wish to participate. Even though they are illegal, the police aren’t prone to pursue those who break that law. Nope. They just turn a blind eye and let everyone fire at will.

As a result, the sky around our house is filled with rockets firing every which way and the exploded debris drifts all around us with the smell of cordite lingering in the air. It makes for a pleasant evening, for sure. The dogs love it, of course. We let Ziva on the porch so she can bark her happiness non-stop during the entire display. I let her bark as much as she likes with the hope that someone will complain about the noise, but I don’t see that happening.

This year, with the pandemic rules still being enforced, most large fireworks displays were cancelled which saved the towns tons of money. I think that after seeing what happens when things are locked down, they will never sponsor another expensive display again. There were fireworks being fired off all over town, and all across the visible horizons, 20-30 miles away. Diane mentioned that if everyone who had fireworks would have taken them down to the river, where the big show usually takes place, the display would have been better than what usually goes up in the air and it would have lasted longer, too.

Today Ziva was none the worse for wear but we were concerned because she’s pretty old for a big dog. Fourteen, I think, and her joints are starting to fail on her. That’s a sad story for another day …

Later in the day, on Sunday, we made a trip to the country to visit some long lost relatives. We see these guys once every 10 years or so which is understandable because they live about 30 miles away. Considering how much we all drive during the course of a year you’d think we’d connect more often, right? Well, Debra, my cousin, and matron of all those we visited, declared that we’re going to do this more often in the future. As a matter of fact, we’ve already set a date.

The fact that Debra’s daughter, Alicia, and her family, Adam, Ivy, Autumn, Cora, and their dog Gemma, have recently become residents of St. Helens may have something to do with her sudden desire to make this visiting thing a regular event.

Adam, you may remember, was recently hired as the Youth Pastor for Daniel and Jennifer’s church. It’s also Cedric’s, Lydia’s, and Jeran’s church. Getting that job closed a very serendipitous loop of events bringing all of our families closer together. Now that they live closer to us, Lydia doesn’t have to drive so far to get her ‘Cousin Fix’ with the girls. That’s handy.

Here’s who was there – First there was the baby, Ava, who the new Mom, Nicole, rarely saw during our visit.

Then, there were all of the little one’s parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, and aunts, for a final total of 33 people.

During this event we helped celebrate two birthdays. Once for Lizzy, and once for Jada who is soon to be 11. Lizzy got the lemon drop cake that Jennifer made. Jada got the oreo cake.

That’s it for now as I must depart for a visit to Hillsboro to see my VA doctor so she can tell me how great I’m doing.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th.

Reunion

Well, it wasn’t really a reunion, more like a visit from some of our favorite relatives. That would be Bob, Steffani, and Maryssa. Making it even better, Lydia and Jeran found their way up the hill to join the fun. Hearing all the noise up stairs, Jeff, Heather, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie joined the crowd. It was a busy time in the old house for a while.

Gilligan, Jeran, Baylee, Maryssa, Lydia, Steffani’s feet, Baylee’s feet, Bob’s feet
Maryssa, Lydia, Steffani, Jerrie, Bob

Since we don’t all get together very often a discussion was had about when the last time it happened. Thanks to modern technology, someone (Maryssa, I think) resurrected an old photo that depicts the moment. I have no idea when it was taken, but it was definitely our back yard, and all the older children were still struggling toward adulthood.

Cedric, Lydia, Gilligan, Baylee, Maryssa, Jerrie, Heather (Mom of the three littles)

Having found this photo everyone thought it would be fun to recreate the photo but we could do it with 100% accuracy because Cedric is currently floating around in the Pacific Ocean on his way to Guam, his Mother’s native country. He’s on the USS Nimitz CVN-68.

So, Jeran stepped ups to fill his older brother’s shoes and we came away with this …

Jeran, Gilligan, Lydia, Baylee, Maryssa, Heather, Jerrie

It’s pretty close and will serve the purpose. I suspect Cedric will approve.

Cheers.

Here’s an update – Maryssa was the instigator of recreating the photo because the original was taken 8 years ago on this same day. Nifty.

Golf with my Bride

Yesterday was a stellar day. Diane went golfing with me for the first time in many years and she finally got her new set of golf clubs a little dirty.

The clubs, I must add, are about 10 years old, but they were still brand new because she’s never used them until yesterday. It was a happy day in the sunshine.

There were two big obstacles for her to go golfing with me:

  • The weather was either too cold or too hot.
  • Too many people around watching her.

So, yesterday was a rare day and it was initiated by her … she told me she wanted to go with me. That made it interesting for me because I’d just golfed with my buddy Doug the day before so she was setting me up for two days in a row. That’s unheard of in Jerrie’s World of Golf.

But, no way was I going to turn down a date with my Sweetheart.

I made a tee time for 10:12. We were there in plenty of time but we were just slow enough that the couple we were paired with had already teed off so we had to go alone. Darn, said Diane, although I’m sure she would have gone anyway. Still, being on our own was a better choice.

Getting off the first tee is always a challenge for me so I appreciated Diane’s bravado in kicking us off. She didn’t go far, but she went straight, as she did every time she hit the ball. Me? I can hit it a long ways, and generally straight, just not the direction I think it should go. It’s Army Golf for me – left, right, left, etc…

It was a beautiful day and I’ve not seen Diane smile as much in one day for a long time. We had a great time visiting buzzing around in the cart looking for my balls. Her’s were always easy to find. Mine were a challenge most of the time.

After we finished our round on the course we were tempted to just continue on to the beach for lunch but chose to just head home with a stop at Costco on the way – we needed toilet paper, I think. Got a bunch of other stuff, too.

I’m hoping she found our time together on the links as enjoyable as I did and will make this a recurring date.

You might wonder what our scores were but none of us will never know. I just gave us alternating bogeys and double bogeys all the way around. Looks good on paper.

My Lifer Wife

On the surface, being called a Lifer could be construed as an insult, but that’s only in the mind of someone who has no intention of staying in the military any longer than they have to. I’ll also share that many of those who used the word “Lifer” as a negative wished they had chosen that life in their waning years.

Being a Lifer is a commitment to making the military a career, sticking it our for at least 20 years. I made that decision, with my Wife’s concurrence, in 1973, just five years after we were married. At that point she had only experienced two commands with me – NAVCOMMSTA Okinawa, and USDAO Rome, Italy. You wouldn’t think that was enough to make a career decision, but she did.

During the course of ‘her’ career we were sent to some interesting commands, only a few of which were centered in and around San Diego, California. Even so, San Diego quickly became her favorite port.

Our time in San Diego meant that I was stationed aboard one ship or another and spent a lot of time at sea, away from home, six months at a time. Perhaps that’s the part she really enjoyed. I don’t know. She never said. Even if that’s true, I think the larger part of the attraction was the life-long friends we met along the way and the demeanor of people who live on military bases. There’s a certain camaraderie throughout a military complex that we never experienced anywhere else. Maybe it’s just us. Who knows? We just like it.

Even now, when we travel, we plan our trips to include stops at various military bases along our route, staying in temporary quarters, and enjoying the atmosphere of those surroundings.

Although the sound of jets flying by on a Naval Air Station make her eyes sparkle, it’s the underlying aroma of machinery and fresh paint of a Naval Base, like San Diego, that truly has her heart. There’s just something about it that triggers good memories.

This was brought home to me yesterday when we were watching an episode of “The Good Witch”, there was a moment where the wife suggested they just up anchor and move to France. The husband, a doctor, gave it a little thought and agreed they should do that. After another brief pause, the wife reported that they didn’t really have to go, but it was really nice to know he was willing to make such a move. It was a test. He passed.

That interaction prompted me to ask Diane, “of all the places we’ve been in our lives, where would you most like to live?”

Without hesitation, she said, “San Diego. Not in the city, but not far from the ocean. That way we can drive by and smell the ships once in a while.”

I’d never thought about it that way, but that’s really kinda what we do. We smell the ships.

It’s just a little bit intoxicating.

Today

While Diane was reading my entry about “Yesterday”, she reported that she had photos of yesterday. I did not know that. So, now I’m getting them and will share them with you.

First, I just share me in my COVID face mask that Jennifer made for me.

It’s Sponge Bob, one of my favorites, and it’s very comfortable. I only wear it to Walmart.

This is me relaxing at home …

It’s relaxing because I don’t shave. I’m protesting the virus.

Here’s me and the ice cream cake. That’s not 76 candles but it sure looks like enough fire to melt all that ice cream. But, it didn’t.

In case you’re wondering, That’s Ivy’s left ear in the foreground, in case you were wondering. The sister to her left is Autumn.

Here’s a good photo of my left ear and a fireball on top of the cake. Pretty awesome.

That’s it. I got no more.