Our Furnace Quit

Bummer! Just when things were looking up, the furnace decided it wasn’t going to use any more gas. The fan still moves the air around, but it’s the same old air and it’s getting colder. We figured there was going to be a problem when the most recent gas bill was double the previous one. We do, however, tend to keep it warmish in the house, as older folks do. Actually, it’s not that cold right now, and we have a gas fireplace that works just great. Thankfully, the fireplace is in the room where we spend the majority of our waking hours. Well, there and the Man Room. The furnace guy is going to be here between 2-3 this afternoon so I’ll probably have to clean the house. Diane hates having strangers come in the house unless it’s just been cleaned. The 8 mile trip to the house for the furnace guy will only cost $99.95. Then they will tell us what’s wrong and has to be replaced. I’m guessing it’s going to be the entire furnace because it’s about 20 years old, at least.

I was up at 6:30 this morning, with the dogs, but had to wait until 8am to call the furnace folks, like Diane told me to. I took my phone into the freezing garage so I wouldn’t disturb Diane as she was still sleeping. Once that was done, I made coffee. That’s a noisy process because Diane insists that we grind the beans within 30 seconds of putting them into the pot. This, also, must be done in the garage as the grinder runs for 19 seconds. Everything in the pot has to be prepared ahead of time to ensure I make it within the allotted 30 seconds after the grinder stops.

I always make 12 cups of coffee, and used to be very precise about how much water I put in. There are lines on the pot and the reservoir to help with this, but I discovered that you can actually pour as much water in there as you want because there’s a nifty little hole in the reservoir, just above the 12 cup line, and all the excess just runs out on the counter. Then it becomes a cleanup project with helps keep the counter very clean around the coffee pot.

I think the coffee pot is done so I’m going to quit this and go get a cup. If something interesting happens with the furnace guy, I’ll let you know.

Long pause …

It’s a lot late, it’s dark, and I’m sweaty.

The furnace guy, Don, showed up early and determined that our furnace is trash and it’s amazing that we’re alive. He didn’t actually say that, but the implication was there. Our heat exchanger is cracked which is the reason for out huge gas bill for last month. We solved that today by turning off the furnace for good. Thankfully, the temperature today was around 50 so it really wasn’t too bad. A little chilly, but nothing a fuzzy blanket couldn’t resolve.

After the furnace guy left Diane’s Mom called. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but on this end things got pretty lively with serious carrying on and lots of daughter to mother “don’ts” and “shouldn’ts”. Turns out that Grams, who is 84, hauled out an 8 foot step ladder, hooked up all the flex and fixed hoses toy the shop vac, and started vacuuming her roof. It’s had about a zillion maple whirligig seeds on it for a while now. Today she’d had enough. The only reason she called was because the furthest piece of fixed hose fell off and was on the roof. So, I jumped in the car and went to the rescue.

By the time I got there she had removed the piece from the roof using her broom. So, I got her longest extension cord and blower and proceeded to blow those little suckers off the roof. It took be a couple of hours and I finished just as it was getting dark. That’s the part that made me all sweaty. I can’t take a shower, yet, because I need to go get Lydia from her basketball practice in about half an hour.


A Fried Egg Sandwich & More

Greetings Earthlings. I come in pieces.

Yesterday I had a fried egg sandwich. It’s one of my favorite things to eat. That and bacon. I probably should have had bacon with this, but I hate frying it. Especially in the nude. I have to admit, cooking it that way is pretty exciting, but I got tired of explaining it to the nurse every time I visited the emergency room. You know them … make you take off all your clothes and put on one of those drafty little dresses, even for a simple scalp wound. So, I don’t do it any more. It was fun while it lasted.

I was going to say that I don’t remember what else we did yesterday, but I do! Had I said that, it would have been a lie. We went to see “Grease” at the Scappoose High School auditorium. Nice. According to the brochure, it will hold “just under 400 people.” It doesn’t say how far under, but I’m guessing it’s pretty close to that. The play was put on by the high school students and it was very good. Diane’s cousin’s daughter, Victoria, played Rizo and did an excellent job. Everyone also really like the fairy guy that sang “Beauty School Dropout” to Frenchy. Diane didn’t like that I referred to him as a “fairy guy” and said he was an angel. But he had huge butterfly wings and everyone knows angels don’t have butterfly wings. I talked with him after the play, to congratulate him, but didn’t mention anything about fairy’s. I seriously doubt he is one, and suspect he’s going to be a success at whatever he does.

Victoria is a senior and has a full ride scholarship to Portland State University in the Air Force ROTC program. I’m told that one works out to about $400K. Smart cookie. I think there’s not much doubt that she’s going to succeed, also. Did I tell you she’s gorgeous?

Today we went to the Portland Auto Show. It was in Portland. At the Convention Center, on MLK Blvd. We weren’t going to go, but our friend, Mike, works the show every year and it was an opportunity for us to see him. Unfortunately, his lovely bride, Kathie, not to be confused with the Sacramento Kathie, daughter of Gene, to whom I’m related, won’t be at the show until tomorrow so we missed seeing her. Now, I believe, we have a date to mingle on Monday. It’s difficult to do because they live all the way over in Oregon City. On the other side of I-205. It’s a hike. But, we haven’t seen them for almost 6 years, so it’s about time. We have to do that because the last time we had an opportunity to visit, they came to the house. OK, so that means it can’t be 6 years because we’ve only been in this house for only 4 years, 3 months, 2 days, 3 hours, and 67 minutes. Not as long as I thought. Before I forget, here’s Diane’s favorite car …

It’s a Fiat 500. When we lived in Italy (70-73) those things were absolutely everywhere. Little 3-cylinder things that seemed to run forever on hardly any gas. Considering that gas at that time was over $3 a gallon using very little of it was a very good thing. They were called cinquacentos (chink-qua-chentos) which, I still firmly believe, means 500 in Italian. What drew us to the little car was still un-thirsty nature. Though it now has a 4-cylinder engine, it still gets over 30mpg average. Which leads to another thing we learned … the car we have is perfectly OK … for long trips. And, we take a lot of long trips. So, we’ll keep it and, perhaps, turn the PT we have into a Fiat so we have something economical for the frequent runs to Safeway. The PT is fast, but only gets around 20mpg on a good day.

The dogs were very good during our 6 hours absence, for which we were grateful. We didn’t leave any trash cans within their reach, so I’m sure they had a very boring time.

When we got home Diane made me make potato salad for the pot luck at church tomorrow. It’s not my best, but it’s OK. As a friend once told me, about a food choice about which I wasn’t particularly fond, “it’ll make a turd,” meaning, of course, that you don’t have to like it in order for it to do what food does in your body. This friend was a USN Master Chief on one of my ships, so I had to believe him. Turns out, he’s right. He also once asked me, “Jerrie! d’ya know why you throw up when you’re stomach’s upset?” Of course I said, “No, Ed. Why?”, because I don’t always do that. “Because your belly’s fulla puke,” says Ed. So, if you’re stomach’s upset, but you don’t puke, it’s because it’s not yet full. That’s a bit of nautical knowledge everyone should know.

Time to quit … probably should have quit one paragraphs sooner, huh?

Day 26 – 2012

Today I spent almost all day in our church office running off 70 copies of a 16 page report for the church’s annual meeting. Sounds simple, right? Perhaps for someone other than myself, that would be true. Generally, I don’t have problems with copy machines, and today really wasn’t any different. The problem is that the copier is very slow, and it kept interfering with the Sudoku game I was playing on my phone.

That’s another twist for me, too. Playing games on my phone! I used to make fun of people who did that. Now “I’m that guy!”

I mean, common! I’m almost 70 years old, for crimminy sakes. How did this happen? Phones, for me, have traditionally been a communication device. Then I got one with a camera. Shortly after that, I learned how to text on my Motorola Razor. I suspect that was the beginning of my transcendence into the group of people for whom cell phones are a lot less for communication than they are for entertainment. I’ve even been known to listen to music, for gosh sakes. I do all this stuff with my phone, and I find that I’m still behind the power curve with where all that technology is going.

Diane’s even ahead of me, here. When she gets into her car, her phone automatically connects to the audio system using Bluetooth. So, when her phone rings it’s on the car speakers. How cool is that? She answers with the push of a button on the steering wheel and has a jolly conversation with whoever’s calling. Sometimes it’s a wrong number, but that’s OK because it’s as if she’s talking to the car. Which she actually is.

Now I have a problem because we watched “The Bing Bang Theory” this evening. It’s one of our favorite shows. Raj, who cannot talk with girls, got an iPhone 4s and got real comfortable with Siri. Siri, for those of you hiding under a rock somewhere in Montana where there’s no cell phone towers, allows the phone owner to just talk to the phone to get what they want. Raj was so enamored with Siri that he started dating his phone. Pretty funny stuff. Now I want a phone with Siri, but I can’t have one until sometime next year when my current phone obligation expires. I really don’t see how I can possibly survive that long without getting one of those.

So, I started talking to the phone I have, and ancient iPhone 3Gs, and guess what! It kinda does what I tell it too. Like “Call Diane”. It was amazing, and sent a little sensuous thrill up my backbone. When it got to the base of my skull I briefly went blind in my right eye. I call it sensuous, but I have no frame of reference for what that means. I think I read it in a book.

I have an iPad, too, but I want to get an iPad2. Say that to someone who has their eyes closed and they’ll think you’re nuts. My iPad doesn’t take pictures. Perhaps by the time my  2-year obligation is up with AT&T there will be an iPad3 that makes phone calls. That would be totally awesome!

Back to the church … once all the pages were copied, Diane and I took the stacks to the church basement and started putting them together. There were two long tables pushed together so I spaced the 16 pages around them. Diane sat at the end of the line and accepted the collated bundle I handed her. Then she’d put a clip on the report and put it in her pile. I did this 70 times, and, according to the pedometer on my phone, walked almost a mile doing it. So, now you’re wondering why I just didn’t have the copier collate the reports, like most copiers do. Well, ours doesn’t. So there.

Gotta quit now. Diane just reported that Ziva, our big black dog, has been cleaning out our bathroom and bedside trash cans and has a Q-tip sticking out of her ass. I was wondering why I never had to empty those on garbage day.

Day 24 of 2012

Yesterday, when Diane took Jennifer and Cedric to the emergency room, in Longview, I went to our rented storage facility to check up on our Winnebago. The main thing was to see if it would start. I feared that the battery may have run down since it’s been over a month since we closed that door. If it wouldn’t start, I’d have to drag it out in order to get to the battery because there’s only, like, 3 inches of space on the battery side.

Thankfully, it cranked right up, and I let it run for a little while. When the fumes started making my fingers go numb, I thought it would be a good idea to back it out so the exhaust went somewhere else. That went well. Getting it back in proved to be trickier, however, because I thought it would be a good idea to get more space on the passenger side. This meant, of course, that I needed to squeeze another inch, or two, off the driver’s side. There was contact, but I will deny it to my dying day. No major damage and I think my liability coverage will take care of it. Maybe.

So, “why,” you may ask, “did Cedric and Jennifer have to go to the emergency room, and why did Diane have to drive them?”

I’ll say, “because Jennifer couldn’t get Cedric’s bagel wound to stop bleeding, and had to keep pressure on it all the way to the hospital.” Driving wasn’t an option for her.

The visit was a success. Cedric was using a serrated knife to cut his bagel and sliced into his left thumb and into the palm of his hand. The doc used glue instead of stitches because the wound was so jagged. Then he put those little strips of tape across them like Diane uses on me all the time. The ones that are skinny on the ends, and skinnier in the middle. There’s a name for them, but it escapes me. They look like little versions of the nose strips I use to keep my nose open when I sleep. If I don’t use those, my nose slams shut. Diane wakes up and jabs me whenever she hears that sound.

So, Cedric is OK, and has something to talk about at school, which is important for a growing boy. It’s going to be an awesome scar, and I’m envious. I believe, however, that I still have a few scars in my future. There’s actually no doubt about it. I’m always finding little nicks and dings with bits of blood and don’t have a clue how it happened. So, if I’m actually paying attention when I receive a wound, it’ll probably be a good one. You’ll be the first to know, after Diane, when that happens.

I’ve decided to be a good boy when I eat. That shift was motivated by events of two days ago. Maybe it was three. Anyway, I was really on edge, not feeling well. I blamed it on the 9 pounds of Chinese food I ate at lunch, but Diane thought it was more basic than that. Bowing to her better judgement, as I always do, I made a decision to “eat right.” I was toying with the concept of not eating anything white – white flour, sugar, rice, potatoes, etc… A friend of our is doing that and he’s lost, like 180 pounds in the last couple of months! I’m guessing, here, and could be off by as much as 100 pounds or so. Still, that’s a lot of weight. He looks really great, too, because it’s not a rapid loss. He’s only losing about 4-8 pounds a day. I think the way he’s losing that weight is from spitting. You know, from spitting out all that good food, for the taste, just before eating all that non-white stuff. If I did that diet I’d just make everything brown by putting gravy on it. Simple. That, or teriyaki sauce.

Instead, I’m going to test my resistance and will power by just eating less of everything and fill up on water when my spirits start to wilt. Get it? Water? Wilt? Kinda sounds like I’m some sort of delicate flower. Not true. That’s Diane, not me. I’m like a cactus. The only time I used to drink water was when it rained in Arizona. Now I have to drink it whenever it rains in Oregon.

Last Saturday I attended a motivational seminar conducted by an old friend. As a result, I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to see if there’s a story in my head worthy enough for someone to pay for it. My first step will be to find a local writer’s group. If there isn’t one, I’ll just have meetings with myself, sitting here at my computer, talking to all of you. I’ve already looked for, and found one in St. Helens. But, it’s not in Oregon. It’s in England. That commute is a bit long for a weekly trip. Guess I’ll keep looking.

We hope everyone is doing well, wherever you may be.


This isn’t for the squeemish. The following is a detailed account of how I happened to be blessed with the 12 stitches depicted above. I believe I reported this incident in a previous (old) blog entry so if you read that one and find discrepancies, the old one was incorrect.

It happened a long, long time ago. In a land faraway. It was a clear day and the stars were shining brightly. Rain was pouring from the sky. Somewhere in the distance, a dog barked …

While living in our previous home, it was determined that we needed to replace the kitchen flooring. The simplest way, for me, was good old peel-n-stick tile. As luck would have it, doing this requires proficiency in the use of a very sharp object to make cuts so tiles fit snugly around various obstacles.

In this instance, I used a box cutter with a new blade. I had permission to do this because Diane was in the house, and Joshua, a foster child at the time, and an honorary Grandson, was helping me. He was about 10 at the time and Diane figured he could dial 911 as well as anyone if she wasn’t immediately available.

Well into this project, there became a need for Diane to accompany our oldest Grandson to the local Urgent Care, leaving me and Joshua alone. They left in such a hurry that Diane didn’t have time to give me any instructions on how I should proceed with the project. Joshua and I conferred, and agreed that we didn’t receive specific instructions about NOT continuing. So, we continued.

We had about 30 minutes of uneventful progress, and were on the very last piece I had to cut. Cutting, as I said, involved the box cutter and a steel framing square to ensure all the cuts were straight. I held the square down with my left hand, and had adopted a method of scoring the tile on the first cut, with light pressure, then doing another cut with more pressure. Safety was my primary concern. Really, it was.

On that last cut I did the first light cut, then the second, and added a third for emphasis, kinda like an Ole’ move that the deed was done. On this third cut, the box cutter veered off the desired path, crossed a very short section of the square and connected with the tip of the pointing finger of my left hand. I swear to this day that is was like a laser guided weapon.

Upon hitting the soft portion of my finger, the blade smoothly sliced into the tip of the distal phalanx of my left index finger. Since bone is very hard, the blade was forced upward, but it didn’t stop cutting. It sliced through the outer edge of my fingernail and continued toward the interphalangeal joint. The joint deflected the blade away from my finger thereby avoiding further injury and the requisite stitches.

All of this happened in less than the blink of an eye. Zip, and it was done.

Immediately recognizing the pain of serious injury, I pinched my thumb against the wounded digit, and raised it above my head. This also happened very quickly because I was fearful of getting blood on the floor. Diane would have been livid had that happened. Joshua got a little wide-eyed at that point, and asked what happened.

I went to the sink and held my left hand in front of me, still pinching very hard. But, I knew I had to look to confirm that the pain I felt was worthy of a trip to visit a doctor. I slowly released the pressure and blood gushed into the sink giving me all the proof I needed that, indeed, there was a trip to urgent care in my near future. I reapplied the pressure, rinsed the blood off, grabbed a handy dish towel, released the pressure, wrapped my finger and reapplied the pressure. That was quickly done, too, as I was to learn later.

I told Joshua to come with me and we headed for my car. It’s really “our” car, but Diane let’s me call it “mine”. Fortunately, for Joshua, he had relatives who lived between us and urgent care, so I dropped him there, saving him from having to visit the waiting room.

At urgent care, I got all checked in and patiently waited my turn. The pain was becoming excruciating, causing me to invoke the age old method of pain relief of sucking air loudly, and often, through my clenched teeth. My hand, of course, was planted firmly on top of my head. There was a little girl in the waiting room who appeared to become quite frightened by all of this, but she was saved from life altering trauma when I was called into the business end of urgent care.

The nurse who escorted me to my room is a friend of Diane’s who’s name, oddly, is Diane. I was allowed to lay down and let my left arm rest on a handy table that was provided, and release the pressure on my finger. It was at this point I discovered the dish towel had hardly any blood on it which I knew would please my Diane. Nurse Diane didn’t care because she was more interested in the wound.

She let it bleed for a little while, making sure all the little blood vessels were working OK, then she stuck a needle in my finger near the metacarpophalangeal joint. She did this numerous times, injecting lidocaine to numb my finger. It felt like my finger was swelling up as she did this so I looked. Indeed, it was swelling up to about twice it’s normal size.

Then she got this really small, thick rubber band and worked it down my finger to the metacarpophalangeal joint. When she let go of the rubber band it cut off the blood supply to my finger and the bleeding stopped. My finger started turning white and she said she could leave the band on there for 45 minutes without killing my finger. While laying there, watching my finger die, my daughter, Jennifer, appeared in the doorway. This caused me concern because she tells her Mother everything. I was curious, too, to know how she had tracked me down.

Lydia, daughter of Jennifer, was a Girl Scout at this time. Girl Scouts sell cookies and Jennifer was the Cookie Mom. Lydia had sold cookies to Joshua’s relatives, the ones I dropped him at on my way to urgent care. This was the day they were delivering cookies. When they arrived at Joshua’s location they were surprised to see him and more surprised when he told them that I’d cut off my finger.

Jennifer went directly to urgent care and we had a nice little talk. Most of it was pleading with her to not tell her Mom what had happened. I knew, deep down, that, being a good daughter, the only choice she had was to rat me out. So, she did, but I didn’t immediately detect the ripple effect of that conversation.

The Doc finally appeared, with only minutes to spare. When she entered the room, looking at my chart, she said, “Jerold Bradley Cate.”

I said, “Yes, but you can call me Jerrie.”

She said, “No. It’s Jerold Bradley Cate. Get used to that, and tell me what happened.”

Now, every man knows that, when anyone uses all of his names, something bad is going to happen. In this case, it already had, but I knew there was great potential for things to get a lot worse. She had all manner of tools and sharp instruments at her disposal so I thought it would be prudent to do pretty much everything she told me to do.

We started chatting and I learned that she was the doctor who treated my Grandson, and visited with my Diane during that process. Apparently Diane gave her enough background on me that she wasn’t at all surprised to encounter me this fine morning.

I watched as she calmly stitched the flab of finger back into place. Two of the stitches were through the attached part of my fingernail making me admire the fine manufacturing abilities of whoever made such a sharp needle. When she was all done the ridges of my fingerprint were perfectly aligned. It was quite magnificent.

Then it was time for the leak test. That’s when she cut the rubber band that was killing my finger. It was very interesting to watch the blood flow back into my finger, turning it back to a normal color. The stitches held nicely, and not a drop of blood escaped.

I was released and sent home with a prescription for some pain killer, but I didn’t go get them figuring I better just get used to the pain. On the way I picked up Joshua and shared the story with his relatives.

Once home, Jeff called to see how I was. He found out because after Jennifer called Diane, Diane called him, telling him to have me call her when I got home. Jeff and I had a fun conversation about being clumsy and accident prone, which we both kinda are. We laughed and enjoyed the moment.

Soon, however, it ended with my promise that I would call his Mother right away, which I did. Her phone rang twice before she answered with, “Jerold Bradley Cate, what did you do?” She’s never been one who gently eases into a conversation.

“Well,” I said, “the good news is that my tetanus shots are up to date.”

“What’s the bad news?” she replied.

“I have 12, new, incredibly complex stitches,” said I, “and my new gloves will live to fight another day.” I added the part about gloves in an attempt to steer the conversation away from talking about the injury, but she tricked me.

“You weren’t wearing them, were you?” she responded.

“No,” said I.

“Why,” said she.


“Why because.”

“Just because.”


Teaching Dogs New Tricks

It started snowing yesterday morning and has been snowing for weeks, now. The prediction for accumulation was from 2-3 inches, depending where you happened to be at any given time, but we only have about a foot. Before it got too bad, I thought I’d take the dogs into the yard and teach them how to spell their name in the snow. Turns out they don’t know how to spell, at all. So, I just gave up and let them scribble a bit. Maybe you can figure out what they were attempting to share.

Diane felt the need to make a cake for a memorial service scheduled for tomorrow at church. To continue being a church lady, she MUST bake a cake for every memorial service, whether or not she knows the person being memorialized. In this case, however, we know him. So, it will be an extra special cake.

The trip into town went without mishap. The only roads with snow on them are in front of our house. It will never be plowed because it’s not a city street, and it’s a dead end. So, the only way our street becomes passable is when someone drives on it. Usually, that’s George, a neighbor, who runs his 4-wheel drive rig up and down the street. He didn’t have to do that today, however, because the temperature went up to about 34 and the falling snow turned to really, really heavy snowflakes. The noise they made when they hit the snow on the ground was incredible, and it quickly pounded the accumulation down to an inch or so.

Tonight it’s going to freeze, then snow all night. Tomorrow’s commute is going to  be a ton of fun to watch. I wish for all of them to be safe in their journey. Still, the State Troopers will be non-stop busy catering to the idiots who think they’re bullet proof.

Our little dog, Ozzie, isn’t himself lately. He’s being terribly antisocial, hiding out in his kennel, and rarely going outside. I thought he might be constipated and thought about giving him some mineral oil. Instead, we took him to the vet for a checkup where they took X-rays, poked & prodded him a little, and told us he was constipated. The doc said to give him mineral oil for a few days and to bring him back if things didn’t improve. Then they charged us $157 for the service. Hmmmm. Maybe I should have been a vet.

Ozzie’s problem is also psychological. As I said, he hangs out in his kennel pretty much all the time, never plays any more, and doesn’t talk to us about what’s troubling him. We plead with him to let us know what’s going on but he just stares at us with his glossed over eyes, looking through us, not at us. We’re beginning to think he has a drug problem, but can’t find any evidence of that in his kennel. All we can do is focus on his behavior. I considered gathering a group of his friend to have an intervention, but I’m afraid he might bite someone. Lately he’s prone to being a little gnarly and growly. Maybe if I was constipated like him, I’d be a little gnarly and growly, too. Might even bite someone.

I’m waiting for all that mineral oil to kick in and evacuate Ozzie’s innards. I have this vision of all 6 pounds of him humped up in the yard for the big moment. When it happens, the discharge is so powerful that it propels his rear into the air and his nose into the snow. I’m keeping the video camera handy, just in case.

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm.

Winter is Finally Here

Here in the beautiful NW part of the USA we’ve been suffering through a very annoying heat wave. It’s been, like, 60-70 degrees every day since October making everyone wonder if we’d ever get a taste of what winter is like. Many of us, in the older segment of life, can’t remember anything about it.

That actually isn’t true (of course) because I was reviewing some old pictures on my computer and found quite a few of them with that odd white stuff. Diane told me what it was. When I first saw it, I thought it was dandruff. Really big dandruff. But, that didn’t make sense to me so I sought out Diane for clarification. She always gives me the right answer to any question I ask. And, I ask a lot of them. I’ve learned to ignore her rolling eyes that accompany some of the answers. I really have no choice but to believe everything she tells me because I have no reference as to what’s correct or not with regard to any given question. As I tell her, frequently, I ask questions because I don’t know the answer. So, who am I to question any response to my questions? Surely no one would lie to me. Would they?

I’ve learned that many of my questions are rhetorical. I didn’t know what that meant until last week. Before that, I thought people were either just ignoring me, or they didn’t know the answer. Now that I know what rhetorical means, I never expect an answer. So, when I get one, it’s special. I treasure it. Some times I write it down. When I find it, a few days later, I wonder what it means because I’ve forgotten the question for which I’m holding the answer. Very confusing. Makes my head hurt sometimes.

Today Diane and I went to the horse races at Portland Meadows. The 9th race was a memorial for Charlynn Taketa, our friend who was killed at the track when a horse kicked her. That was on August 11th, 2011. Diane, I, Vie, Tom, Linda, Jack, and Wynette joined Jerry 1 to share this moment in memory of his wife. We all joined Jerry in the winner’s circle where he was presented with a beautiful quilt made from old T-shirts he and Lynn had collected over the years. A beautiful memorial.

At the track I ate a lunch. Actually, it was a huge appetizer, because Diane made me eat a chicken sandwich on our way to the track. The appetizer consisted of 15 long, straight shrimp on a bed of succulent tater tots. All for $7.25. I should have taken a picture. Besides being amazed at the incredible price, I was mesmerized by their shape. As I said they were long and straight. All were about 3-4″ long. Where do you suppose they grow straight shrimp. Until today I thought all shrimp were curly. They were really good. They were especially good because Jerry 1 paid for them. Actually, I paid for them, but later Jerry had the waitress give me back my money. What a guy! Some of my best friends are the ones who buy me food. I just love those folks.

Diane just left to go play Bunco. She’s on a team in the St. Helens Greater Open Bunco League (SHGOBL). They play once a month, always on a Monday, and teams travel from all over the NW to participate. Once a year they hold their tournaments at our house which is why I know, for sure, that the SHGOBL isn’t about “the game”, it’s all about snacks, wine, and the chance to shriek loudly at odd times throughout the game.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with bunco, let me help you out. It’s like Yahtzee on steroids, but they only use 3 die. To begin the game, someone rings a bell. When everyone is convinced that the bell caused by the wine, or spiked snacks, one person at each of the three tables starts rolling the dice as fast as they can. Their temporary partner, across the table, keeps track of the number of 1’s rolled. When all five dice are rolled, and a 1 doesn’t show, the dice pass to the next person who also rolls as fast as they can. At some point they get tired of rolling for 1’s and progress to 2’s. When one pair isn’t rolling they are allowed to roam freely though out the facility to get wine, snacks, and to distract participants at the other two tables, if they can. Usually this is done by offering wine and snacks, which are never refused.

The game ends when either the wine & snacks are gone, or the hostess runs out of toilet paper. Regarding the latter, the hostess for any given match is limited to supply only 3 rolls of toilet paper. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. The toilet paper rule was added to the tournament by laws as an effort to be conserve our natural resources, and to ensure that participants didn’t use up all the hostess’s napkins in addition to the toilet paper. All league members quickly saw this as an opportunity to use up all their cheap toilet paper during their turn as hostess. Indeed, many hostesses began buying up the half-ply toilet paper imported from the The Arctic. I think Costco sells it. You can get 185 rolls for a small goat.

Gotta quit and get my fingers back under control. They’re just going crazy here.

Jerry 1’s New Toy & the TVCC

Jerry 1 is the first of a very short list of Jerry’s who are charter members of the Tualatin Valley Cruiser Club (TVCC). This club is, without a doubt, one of the largest, and certainly one of the oldest clubs originally established for folks who owned Chrysler PT Cruisers. The original group had three Jerry’s, with various spellings, of which I was #2. I wanted to be #3, but everyone insisted that we be recognized in chronological order. Jerry 1, therefore, is the oldest. #3 is currently in a sunnier location, running over folks with his Segway. His Bride has one, too, and it’s been reported that they race them up and down their street, when they’re home, without a care for all the children crawling across the street. They view them kind of like traffic cones – to be avoided, but it’s OK if you bump one. That’s not true, of course.

The TVCC has been going strong for the last 10 years thanks to the tireless efforts of Rick & Jody. It’s really all Rick, but Jody lets him do it, so I guess it’s really all Jody. Whatever … it’s a great club. They boast members from all over the US as well as some in Canada & Europe. They even have a board of directors. Diane and I used to be on the board. I might have still been a member of the Board, but the majority fear that my non-serious nature about all things might be detrimental to the club image.

I’m getting off the subject, here …

The essence of this post is to clarify that, though the TVCC originated because of the PT Cruiser, of which we’ve owned 4, and currently have 2, it’s evolved into an organization that’s all about people who just like to gather, laugh, and tell lies to each other. I fit right in. It doesn’t matter if you have a PT Cruiser or not. The evidence is in the cars seen at the meetings. Jerry drove his 2012 Custom Camaro, we drove a Buick, and there was also a Dodge Magnum there last night. Oh, ya, the meetings are the 2nd Friday each month at Finley Sunset Hills Mortuary. I may have mentioned that before. So, if you ever find yourself in need of free entertainment on any 2nd Friday of any month, come on up. Dues are only $8 a year per person. That pays for the liability insurance and the TVCC web site. I’d add a link, but don’t know how, yet.

Last night’s meeting wore everyone out laughing at the antics of Jerry 1, an ex-jockey and undeniably the shortest man in the room, and Mike, a retired San Fran parole officer and the next shortest man in the room. The intention was for attendees to share stories about their best and worst cars. Between Jerry & Mike the conversation devolved into verbal sparring about how difficult it is for a short guy to shoot his rifle out of a foxhole. They were both in the Army, which is why it’s a foxhole. Apparently, if you’re short, about the only thing you can shoot out of a foxhole is a really large, slow bird. It was hilarious and I wish someone would have been filming it. It was one of those moments that needs to be frozen forever in time so you can go back and replay it.

The winner of the worst car was Vie, who was sitting at our table. She was part of the pre-meeting dinner group with us at Red Robin. The winner of the best car was Tom, who was also sitting at our table and was part of the pre-meeting dinner group. Vie’s car, in which she took her driver’s test, was an old farm truck with no doors, and two kitchen chairs for seats. She said she made sure that it had everything the driver’s manual mentioned before going for her driving test. Apparently there is no mention of doors and seats in the manual. She passed, by the way. Tom’ car is a 1964 Dodge Valiant that he’s had for 45 years. When he first got it he set it up as a dragster and ran it at tracks all up and down the West Coast. Vie said she remembers seeing the car at the Woodburn drag strip many, many years ago. This car has a 6-cylinder engine that propelled the car over 100 mph in a 1/4 mile. Quite respectful. He named it “Six Appeal”. The car is now a sedate little family coupe that will turn a 1/4 mile in about 13 seconds. Nice. It’s a red one.

So, now, back to Jerry 1’s Camaro … he claimed it as his best car because it’s a tribute to his deceased wife. She’s the one I wrote about previously who was killed at the race track when a horse kicked her. An odd tribute, you may think, but it’s OK. They discussed what each would do with their insurance money if one checked out before the other. The next time we see that car it will have Lamborghini doors … the kind that pop out and swing up. Nifty.

That’s about it for now. Except, while I sat here doing this, it snowed about 2″. First of the year. The weather man actually used the right dart this time.


Do you believe in Fate, or Destiny? I do, and have many reasons I could share to substantiate why. For this day, I’ll limit it to one.

Yesterday I had lunch with a WWII veteran at the St. Helens Senior Center. This is the second time I sat across the table from him in the last two months. I only go on days that Diane volunteers to serve with our church ladies. He goes there every day.

Both Diane and I are card carrying members of the senior center, but rarely go. Sadly, the reason, as my new friend astutely surmised, “some times the lunch isn’t so good.” But, it’s only $4 for a nutritious meal and it serves our community well. The Center does more than meals, but that’s all I’ve investigated, so far. They have many activities to keep folks moving and thinking.

I learned a great deal about this gentleman while visiting over lunch. Mainly, I discovered that he was in the Navy during World War II and spent his entire enlistment in the South Pacific, 1943 thru 1945. While we talked he revealed that he’s having difficulty with the VA regaining control of his finances. He’s 100% disabled, you see, and at one point it was determined that he needed someone to take care of his money. His efforts to get a valid ruling on this issue was met with silence. His main connection to the VA was the local VA Service Officer who is no longer in that position. So, the VA ships in folks from Portland and Salem a couple of times a week.

Taking my first step down a different road, I offered to see what I could do to help my shipmate. Knowing how understaffed the VA is, I had no illusions about a speedy resolution. So, you can imagine my surprise when I called the local VA office and obtained an appointment at 11:00 am this morning for him. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. It’s as if, gee, let’s see … like it was meant to be, that I was in the right place at the right time. It took me weeks to get an appointment for myself with the last VASO, so getting one for the next day was kind of like a miracle.

When I picked him up, he had a letter from the VA that he had received yesterday afternoon. It addressed the issue for which I obtained the appointment. “Hmmm,” goes I. “What a coincidence,” I think.

The VA Service Officer we met with is a retired Marine. He’s one of the VASO managers from Salem, and one who trains VASO’s how to do their jobs. It goes without saying that he knew his “stuff”. After a couple of phone calls he had a course of action and felt there would be action on this issue very soon. Perhaps, in only a couple of weeks.

Both of us left that meeting with different feelings. My friend no longer felt alone and abandoned by a system that’s in place to help him. Me? I left with a sense of wonder at how all of this came together so quickly. It was very humbling. My belief is that by extending a helping hand without expectations, or any kind of a plan, something clicked in the universe to make it all work. It wasn’t me, it was the act. I was a tool.

It’s odd for me to be writing about something serious. It’s just not something I do. I usually poke fun at my lovely bride, and she takes it in stride, knowing I don’t mean a word of it. This is different, however.

Our WWII Vets are disappearing at an alarming rate and we need to honor them. The VASO said it best that, had it not been for my new friend, and all those with whom he served, we would be speaking different language in America today. Literally.

So, thank a vet whenever you see one.

Thanks, Lyle, Jim, and Jack, Gary, Jerry1, Jerry3, Bob, Larry, and all the rest of you who served our nation in any way.

It Was a Sunday …

I just laid around and did nothing all day long.

Had  been allowed to do that yesterday, at least for a little while longer, I probably wouldn’t have been injured so severely.

Jeran laid around with me and also did nothing all day long. We talked a lot and watched a lot of “How it’s Made” on the Science Channel. Now I know how frozen waffles are made.