Still Listening …

… to my bride. She pointed out that I failed to share vital information about grandchildren other than The Littles in my last post. I was actually aware of that omission at the time but was suffering from a severe case of something yet to be determined. As soon as I come up with a viable cause, I’ll certainly let you know. Right away.

Lydia and Cedric were the ones missing from my previous post. I guess I was too focused on The Littles. Lydia and Cedric are, after all, full grown adults now. Still, they are our children’s children and we love them, too.

It was Friday morning when Lydia drove into Big Eddy toting surprises in the form of Cedric and Ceiarra. Everyone knew that Cedric’s ship, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), was in port at Bremerton, WA but didn’t expect him to be fetched for a visit this soon. Lydia drove up Thursday afternoon when she got off work and drove him back to St. Helens. After resting for the night they made the arduous 20 miles trip to Big Eddy to hang out with everyone. It was especially meaningful for Jennifer who commented the first day that this was the first Family Camp ever when they didn’t have kids with them. Then some kids showed up. It was great. Including Ceiarra was great, too.

Sadly, I was pretty lax about getting photos compared to what I used to do. Guess the finger I use to snap photos was worn out. Anyway, it was good to have Cedric and Ceiarra show up. The Littles were especially happy about it.

Cheers

I’m Listening

I’m listening to my lovely wife, Diane. She told me a couple days ago that I haven’t posted anything during the month of July. I checked and, by golly, she’s absolutely correct. I haven’t. I can only attribute this lack of posting to old age or, perhaps I’ve simply used up most of the words available to me in a given period of time. I’ve heard that’s a ‘thing’. Diane has a cousin who, when she’s at a loss for words, says “…I must have used up all my nouns.”

Considering the amount of time that’s passed I’m pretty sure I can’t possibly remember things in proper sequence, if I can remember things at all, so I’m just going to ramble and see what happens. That way I can be just as surprised as you when something profound sneaks out.

Let’s see … on July 15th Jerrie Anne Diane Cate celebrated her 8th birthday which means the school district has no choice but to allow her to attend 3rd grade when school resumes in September. She’s pretty stoked about that. Matter of fact, she actually cried when the school year ended because she likes school that much. Her older sisters love school, too, so it’s apparently a genetic ‘thing’ that comes from their mother’s side of the family. I guess it could be from Diane, too, but it’s surely not from me. I was perfectly OK when summer showed up and I was still wearing little boy clothing.

Shortly after Jerrie’s birthday we fired up the bus and returned to Paradise Cove for a few days of R&R, by ourselves. You may recall we took The Littles there in June for about a week. We had big plans to spend a lot of time in the hot tub but I don’t remember doing that even one time. Instead we spent our time either sitting on or walking along one beach or another, watching the waves. The high light of the sitting part was when we parked ourselves on a tall dune above the remains of the Peter Iredale which has been a fixture on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park my entire life. We were there to watch the sunset and saw some whales playing along the shore spouting a few times, showing us their tails, then disappearing. It was pretty special which is good because the sun went behind some clouds and there was no proper sunset. It just got dark and chilly. Be we had whales!

We returned from that trip on Monday and had a few days days to recover, we thought, until Diane discovered that we had reservations at Big Eddy County Park near Vernonia on Wednesday. This was another trip with The Littles because it’s a yearly Family Camp for Jennie’s and Daniel’s church. We’re always invited and we almost always go because it’s great fun. The Littles went last year for the first time and loved it. They got to spend days, literally, in the Nehalem River, and they made lots of new friends. The great thing about this is that the church rents the entire park so the kids can be free to go wherever they want with no fear of something bad happening. They just had to check in with their home camp on a regular basis so we knew where they were and they could not venture into the river without adult supervision. All we adults had to do was sit around our campfires talking and eating snacks. Once in a while kids would show up and we’d have a meal. The big deal with food culminated in a dessert social where I cut Jerrie a piece of very rich chocolate cake that was far too large. She savored every morsel but wound up giving it all back, plus, later that evening. I suspect it tasted much better the first time it passed her lips. She recovered nicely the next day and was able to spend lots of time with her friend Lilly.

The bigger Littles (Gilligan & Baylee) put dozens of miles on bikes, riding all over the park with their friends. Most of the bike riders were careful but we had to be wary of the smaller ones with training wheels. They weren’t overly concerned about who was in front of them as they pedaled around, talking to whoever was riding next to them. Diane was almost run over many times because she either didn’t hear the rattle of those training wheels or she thought they actually knew about the rules when encountering old people. Like, don’t run into them. They tend to tip over and break things. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

I exercised our small little BBQ for one meal by cooking hamburger and chicken patties. I don’t use it often, and only clean it when I do figuring that whatever bad things may have grown on it since the last use would surely be consumed during the warm-up phase. It’s worked so far and has provided us with some tasty hotdogs with a hint of steak and old hamburgers. They are a culinary treat. Now that we’re home I’m reminded that I need to remove the 4 chicken patties I left on the BBQ when I put it back in the RV. I have no valid reason for doing that. It just seemed to be OK at the time. I can already hear Diane calling my name, in large capital letters — “JEROLD BRADLEY CATE” — when she reads this.

In case you’re wondering about the danger of little kids playing in the Nehalem River, fear not. It’s not a big river. It’s more like a large creek. And there are always lots of people around lounging on a variety of different kinds of floating devices. It’s pretty safe.

That’s about it for this time. Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

Let me tell you a story …

It’s a simple one and won’t take a lot of time unless I happen to recall more details as I progress. Sometimes that happens. I don’t know why, it just does.

In a nutshell, yesterday we went camping. Technically we’re camping right this very minute. Well, some of us are. Others are off gallivanting around Tillamook, eating ice cream, and whatnot, while Ziva and I stayed behind to guard the camp. Ok, it’s not really a camp. It’s an RV, and it has TV, but it will always be considered camping to us. As I type, I’m sitting in my outside chair that we specifically bought for camping, so, we’re camping.

The weather is awesome. A little overcast, but not chilly and there are peeks of blue sky all around so all this cloud cover is likely to burn off before the day gets much older. I don’t really care because if things change for the worse, Ziva and I will just go inside and take a nap.

Getting everything ready to go yesterday didn’t seem to be much of a problem. Everything we owned was loaded into the RV along with three fairly small children – Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie. And Ziva, our elderly dog.

While loading everything, Onie, Jeff & Heather’s dog, discovered that the cat was roaming around the RV and gave chase. It was furious for a short time, but Onie finally responded to everyone’s plea to cease and desist the chase. Breezie, the cat, ran under the RV and appeared to be safe so everyone took a deep breath and went about their assigned chores. It was pretty exciting for a short time.

Once loaded, Diane headed down to her Mom’s, Jean’s, house in the tow car for a chat while I and the children went to the local Chevron station to load up on some cheap diesel. We had to run the pump twice because the first time we got $1 off each gallon, thanks to Safeway points, so that first 25 gallons only cost $1.86 a gallon. The next 11 gallons were full price. They used to allow 35 gallons but I think they changed the rules yesterday morning because they knew I was going to pay them a visit. Figures.

Once we were properly topped off, I strapped myself into the pilot’s chair and prepared to leave the station. Right at that exact moment, I see Breezie walking away from the RV and behind another vehicle at the pump. I was able to get outside quick enough to snatch her and get her safely inside the rig. It’s simply a miracle that I was looking in the spot she chose to escape, or she would have been lost forever. The station is about a mile from home, on busy Highway 30, a place she’s never been.

So, when we showed up at Great Grandma’s house, everyone was surprised to see that Breezie was with us. It was pretty amazing. Thankfully, Jeff came down to help me connect the tow car for the trip and was able to drive her back home. He said she crawled into his lap for that short trip and was really happy to be home. It was pretty amazing.

Hooking up the tow car isn’t really a big deal if you know all the rules. Unlike the last trip, we remembered to install the safety cables. I removed the designated fuse before Diane left home so that was already done. The fuse powers up things that will drain the battery because the key needs to remain in the ACC position. That’s the part Jeff didn’t know about so he turned the key all the way off, locking the steering wheel. Consequently, when we turned corners everyone was asking, “What’s that noise?” I could see in the rearview that the front wheels weren’t tracking so the noise was me scraping a bunch of miles off the front tires with every turn.

We hadn’t gone far so I pulled off the highway and I fixed that little error. Then, after turning the next corner, the car began wobbling back and forth for some reason which required another stop for investigation. Jeff came back and helped with that while we were parked in front of Daniel and Jennifer’s house on Matzen Street. They live about a mile from us, so we were setting a record for not getting out of town in a reasonable amount of time. The goal was to be gone around noon-ish. At this time we’re approaching 2 pm, way beyond the limits we normally observe. Had it been only 1 pm it would have been OK.

The only thing I could figure that was wrong with the connect between car and RV was that the tow bar didn’t latch properly, even though it appear to be OK. So, I disconnect the tow bar from the RV and ensured that the latches worked, then released both sides while Jeff maneuvered the car so I could set the hitch on the ball and lock it in place. Then I had him put the car in reverse and give it a bunch of gas to yank the hitch hard enough to make it latch on both sides. Actually, I had him slowly back up to apply enough tension to make them latch. Then I showed him the need for leaving the ignition on, so the steering wheel worked.

There were some other tests in there, one of which involved Jeff riding in the tow car while I towed it around the block a couple of times. He said it was pretty freaky doing that.

The last fix resolved the wobble problem and we hit the road for real. The destination was Paradise Cove in Wheeler, Oregon on Nehalem Bay. During that trip I heard a lot of suggestions that maybe I should slow down a little on the corners because the road was narrow. It really wasn’t, and I was really going the speed limit (most of the time), but I slowed down anyway. It was, after all, 4 to 1 against me as to who was actually correct. Didn’t matter that I was in charge of the steering wheel.

Women …

We arrived safely, in spite of my errant driving tactics, and found a likely spot with the required southern exposure needed for the satellite receiver. Gotta have TV or it’s just a wasted trip, you know. Once the car was relieved of the tow bar everyone, including Ziva, crammed themselves into the available seats and Diane drove us to Rockaway Beach so the Littles could run and jump in the ocean.

It didn’t matter that the sun was going down soon and everyone but them were wearing hoodies, they ran to the beach and immediately shed their candles and shorts, dropping them in the sand, then headed for the beach. It didn’t matter that the tide was out and the surf line was most of 1/4 mile away.

Diane said “I should have brought a bag,” which is code for, “please go back to the car and get a bag while I watch the girls.” It’s good that I know code. I got the back and loaded the clothes up then followed along. It was a long walk. Then, about the time I got there, it was determined that Ziva needed to go away from people to maybe relieve herself. She’s a little shy. So I walked her back to the rocks that protect the parking lot 1/4 mile away. She had a wonderful time sniffing pretty much everything in sight but didn’t seem to have any urgent needs to squat and pee. So, we walked back to the family. In all I walked most of a mile to do this. Now, that’s not a complaint, just a simple statement of fact. Really. That’s all.

Gilligan said we would never see her shiver and honored that claim. She said she was able to do that because the water was so cold it immediately froze her feet to the point where the water actually felt kinda warm. The other two agreed. I recall being that age … really, I do … and also had the ability to play in the freezing ocean just like that so I wasn’t surprised.

They romped for about an hour until we convinced them we should probably head back “home” and maybe eat something for dinner. Some of us were hungry.

We feasted on chicken noodle soup, the perfect meal for really cold people. Then we watched So You Think You Can Dance and went to bed. I got to sleep about 3 hours before a cramp in my right leg decided to get me up for a while. Everyone else woke up slowly, we had some breakfast, then Diane took the Littles to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, leaving me home to nap, read, walk, or whatever I wanted to do. It was OK with me. I stayed and kept Ziva company.

I got hungry a little while ago because they’ve been gone for a while and I know they’re eating lunch someplace. I probably should have had a PB&J sandwich but ate 5 pieces of licorice Jennie gave me for Father’s Day instead. I also had a couple handfuls of cashews to balance it off. Then Ziva and I went for a walk. I took a bottle of water and drank it on the way.

On the way back to the RV a car was leaving and stopped by me to talk. The gentleman began the conversation lamenting about all the things he volunteers for, the last of which is for the AcroCats. He’s apparently minding a 45 foot Prevost RV that he said is full of cages with trained cats that he looks after in this volunteer evolution. One got away and wouldn’t respond to the whistle they are trained to respond to at feeding time. He was a bit flustered and suggested that if anyone was in the mood to volunteer, he gladly let them have at it. I let him know I’d tell the cat lady I married about this opportunity. Here’s what he was guarding …

Then he left to go take a shower.

We spent time in the Wheeler pool and I was able to recreate a visit we had many years ago with the Walters’ Clan.

The original photo was of Jennie, Logan, Cedric, and Lydia doing the same jump. Fun stuff.

The remainder of our stay was just very relaxing interspersed with walks and lots of pool time. We went to the beach a few times, too, but there’s no need to bore you with photos of all that. I’ll just add a few more.

Weird Clouds

Tired Dog

Drying for the next trip

Breakfast

The trip home was uneventful except for two occasions where the tow car started wobbling very hard. The first time was while going down a hill into the Seaside area. The second time was while transiting the two very sharp turns when leaving Astoria. I was able to stop and get the tow bar latched both times but there’s obviously something wrong with that lash up.

Not far from home we encountered an accident that was in the process of being cleared to allow traffic to move on. It was an amusing spectacle watching the tow truck driver get his hitch thingy under the black pickup a few inches at a time. He’d move a bit, get out and go look under the truck, get back into the tow truck, move a few more inches, etc. until he finally had it where he wanted. Then he raised the trucks rear wheels and pulled it our of the way. It was amusing, also, to watch the policeman walking around with his vest on upside down. Kinda funny.

Diane brought a bottle of wine on the trip but didn’t have anything appropriate to pour it in until she went to Goodwill and found these crystal glasses.

The glasses and the case cost a whopping $4.00. What a deal.

That’s it for this trip.

Dietary Infractions and School’s Out

In my last post I reported a dietary faux pas where Diane educated me, at length, about me believing two apple fritters and a maple bar constituted an adequate breakfast. I learned my lesson. Today I honored those newly discovered instructions had three cinnamon rolls and two blueberry muffins instead. Apparently that combination was OK because I encountered neither spousal opposition nor new dietary instructions. So, I’m good to go with that one whenever the opportunity pops up.

Could be, too, that my spouse wasn’t aware of these infractions until just now. If that’s the case I should be exempt from any misdemeanors that arise from this admission.

In my defense I must report that the items I ingested were supplied by our church ladies as a reward to the church men for allowing the ladies to move the recurring mens’ Thursday morning coffee hour from the Kozy Korner to the church. The ultimate goal of that change was to entice the men to participate in the ladies’ Thursday morning church cleanup efforts. I think it was pretty evident from the start that they scheduled their church cleanup at the same time as the mens’ coffee hour in an effort to shame us into helping them.

Having shared all that, I must admit that it really worked, at least for me. I felt bad about it because I know the jobs they were doing had to be done. So, of course, both of the the men helped, just like all good married men should do.

About school … we have three young girls living with us who are profoundly sad that summer is here and they won’t get to go to school for another 2.5 months. They actually cried because they can’t go to school any more until September. I, personally, have no memory of being sad about having to go on summer vacation from school. Ever. Nope, I was perfectly happy about doing no school work for a long time.

Our girls, however, demonstrated just how much they liked their teachers and learning in general. They are all good at it, too. Makes us, and their parents, very proud. Next week Diane and I are taking the girls for a week at Nehalem Bay.

That is going to be a lot of fun. There will be photographic evidence of the fun when we return home from the trip.

Always Learning

The other day I discovered that 2 apple fritters and a maple bar do not constitute a proper breakfast. I was taken by surprise by that one because it sure tasted proper and filled in the proper vacancies in my empty stomach. Along with 3 cups of coffee, I had to disagree and deem that ingesting those pastries was the right thing to do at that time. I’ll even do it again given the chance. I suspect Diane will have a hand in ensuring I don’t have that chance. She’s pretty lenient with small infractions, but apparently 3 pastries is sitting above and beyond acceptable. Deep down I have to agree but I don’t have to like it.

Our weather here in the Northwest is flip flopping all over the place. Last week, after a string of really nice days, it rained for about 4 days. Starting today we’re supposed to surge into the 90’s which puts a crimp in golfing because no one I know really wants to wander around a golf course in heat like that. Well, at least one of us (Junior) doesn’t. Add to that the fact that Doug decided to have his appendix out last week kinda makes him ineligible to play so I’ll just find something else to do until it cools down and Doug heals. Maybe I can convince Diane to come play with me.

I bought her a really nice set of golf clubs about 10 years ago and they still have the protective plastic coating on the woods. She professes she’d love to go golfing but we need to find a course where she can play and no one is watching. That’s gonna be difficult, but I’ve got an eye out, just in case something pops up.

Did I mention that Diane took a chance and let me buy a chainsaw despite my poor track record with motorized tools? Well, she did, and I’ve had monumental success without sustaining any life threatening injuries. The potential is there, of course, but I’m being very, very, careful. Honest. I’ve dismantled the pussy willow tree on the corner as well as a worn out lilac tree that I subsequently discovered Diane wanted part of it left to flourish. I assured her that it’s unlikely that I removed all of it, though I really tried.

Now I have my eye on the ancient birch tree in our front yard. Diane thinks that’s a bad idea. I’m pretty sure, however, there will be a time in the near future when she feels the need to shop at Goodwill and I’ll be left alone to do as I wish. I’m willing to take the consequences, whatever they may be. I’ll let you know about it either after I get out of the hospital, or after a successful endeavor, whichever comes first.

I’m currently reading a book where the USA was destroyed by a war between Republicans and Democrats. Considering the dysfunctional nature of the current warring parties kinda makes me wonder if this book is a prophecy. Kind of scary times, it is.

Diane just left to visit her Mom, Jean, so I have a green light to get my chainsaw fired up.

See you later.

Statistics

Over the past few days I discovered a simple way to capture all of the information I’ve added to Word Press via my posts over the past 8 years. Well, almost 8 years … 7 years, 6 months, 9 days, to be more exact.

I copied and pasted all that info, photos and all, into Word documents on my computer and here’s what I got:

528 MB of data

3600 pages in Word

773,030 words (I’m disappointed because I thought it would be 1 million+)

During the course of this endeavor, I’ve acquired blurry eyes and sitbutitis deluxe.

So, for those of you who read all of them, you read a lot and now you know why my little fingers are tuckered out.

Thank You …

… to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday recently. I sincerely appreciate it and feel blessed that Diane has allowed me to live this long. Three quarters of a century is a significant number … and, she made it so much better by spending half a century of her life to get me here.

God bless you all.