This last week …

Greetings. I just happened to look at my calendar, not something I do much any more, and realized that it’s been eight (8) (ocho) (hachi) (kahdeksan) (vo-syem) (acht) (huit) (otto) days since my last entry. Realizing this, I vowed to immediately get busy to reground those of you who may be feeling a sense of loss because of my absence. I doubt there are many of you, but saving just one makes the effort worthwhile.

Last Thursday Diane and I loaded up our Winnebago, affectionately named “Wheeezie”, and headed for Cannon Beach. That’s just a few miles south of Seaside on Highway 101 for those of you not familiar with some of the more picturesque locations along the Oregon Coast. Cannon Beach was so named because of the old ship’s cannon found somewhere around there, but it’s much more famous for Haystack Rock, a monolith that appears on the same list as the Rock of Gibraltar. For those of you who don’t know what a monolith is, I’ll tell you, because I just found out … it’s a single massive rock or stone. Another reason Haystack Rock is famous is because it was featured in the movie “Goonies”. Who could forget that? What an epic! I loved it! Still do.

Getting there was just half the fun because this was the first trip for Wheeezie and we were sure how she would react after being dormant for so many years. It’s a known fact that dormant RVs are notoriously cranky and hard to deal with unless, we’ve discovered, they’re Winnebagos. These things are like the Phoenix and rise from the ashes just when you think all is lost. It’s a humbling experience.

To ensure we had a backup plan, should she break down, or run off a cliff, Diane made me drive it alone while she followed along behind, in a car with a heater, with her finger poised over the last digit of 911. Actually, I wasn’t alone. Ozzie rode with me in the passenger seat but it was simply a ceremonial position because he can’t navigate at all. He just laid there napping the entire trip.

The journey turned out to be uneventful and we made the 2 hour trip in 3 hours 45 minutes, give or take and hour. I kept my speedo on 52 mph for most of the trip, even up the hills, which turned out to be 55+ because the speedometer isn’t calibrated very well. I guess that’s OK, but makes me wonder why it took so long to get there. Perhaps RVs travel in a different universal timezone where journeys appear to take more time when, in reality, they don’t. Could be, too, I was a little anxious about it because I’ve never driven anything that big before. Ii pleased with Diane to drive it but she said her big rig driving days ended when she got rid of her last Kenworth in 1967.

So, I found a bullet to bite, and did the deed. Turns out it wasn’t so tough after all. The only glitch was when I plugged in the big electric extension cord, that comes with all RVs, the TV didn’t pop right up with 80-90 channels. That continued to be a problem until the last day of our stay when I finally figured out that the cable wasn’t properly connected inside various parts of the RV innards.

The purpose of this trip was to meet up with some classic Winnebago owners for a weekend of fellowship in the coast rain.

An added bonus for Diane and me was Lydia’s basketball tournament in Seaside. It’s always fun to watch the kids play. They didn’t do well in the tournament, but they had a fun weekend at the beach.

The trip home was as uneventful as the trip over. Though I was hoping for a more exciting time driving, it was actually pretty dull. The rig drives very nicely. Once home, and in the driveway, we promptly emptied the food, returning most of it to it’s proper place in the cupboards and various refrigerators and freezers, then Diane spiffed up the insides while I worked on some of the outside issues. We left it in the driveway until Tuesday morning when we took it back to the rental storage unit where it will live for the month of March. We’ll  be gone most of that time, so it’s OK. “Where,” you might ask, “will you be gone to?” and I’d say, “Calidego, Sanifornia.” Actually, we’ll be in Carlsbad for a week, Las Vegas for a week, then Idaho for a few days. That reminds me … I better call Jim to see if it’s OK for us to visit Idaho.

After stowing Wheeezie, we checked out the newspaper drop boxes that our Lions club monitors. In one of them I discovered a marijuana pipe and a pile of burned ashes where someone obviously started a fire. Pretty stupid since there’s no where for the smoke to go. I took the pipe to the police station and reported the incident. Guess that makes me a narc, and I’m OK with that.

For lunch we drove about 45 miles to the Ya Hala restaurant where we visited with friends. Ya Hala serves Lebanese food. I have to admit that I went there with a bit of apprehension about whether or not I’d like any of it. But, to please Jerry 1, I had a plate of Jajal, or something like that. It had dead chicken in it so figured it couldn’t be all bad, and it wasn’t. But, it was kind of bland. It was served with a side of homemade yogurt which, Diane reported, is extremely good for me. It tasted a bit like sour cream and wasn’t bad. As I watched others eat, it because apparent that the yogurt was meant to be mixed with the dead chicken & rice mixture which combined to make a unique flavor treat. The bread was my favorite … it was served hot and looked like the top half of a hamburger bun, but much softer. I discovered after a brief trial and error, that if only it would stay warm, it would serve well as a substitute breast for those of us who don’t naturally have them. It was so warm and nice, then Tom squeezed it and it deflated, as did I.

After the meal we all trekked outside to check out Jerry 1’s new addition to his custom Camaro. Pretty slick.

Then it was on to Oregon City so Diane could deliver some Avon to Kathie, who is not to be confused with Sacramento Kathie to whom we’re related. Also, it’s pure coincidence that both Kathie’s are married to Mike’s. Small world.

Around 5:30pm we determined that the Portland rush hour was at it’s peak and that we should join the throngs on the road and get back home. As it turned out, most of the traffic was escaping Portland as we entered, so it was bad at all. Plus, we choose to stay off the freeways, taking surface streets on all our journeys.

When we got home we joined Ziva who was already in a vegetative frame of mind,

and watched a couple of recorded shows on TV until Diane fell asleep, a sure sign that it was time for bed.

Tools !

Yesterday and today I was allowed to use power tools even though I was alone most of both days. I guess Diane is either starting to trust me, or she just doesn’t care if I wind up with a serious injury. I really think she cares but has decided to let me fly alone and let the injuries happen, if they must. Fortunately, for me, I didn’t injure myself as I am prone to do. I thought everything went quite well until I found my shoe glued to the floor this morning.

What happened is I knocked my wood glue over. It didn’t have a cap because I destroyed it when I tried to open it with a pair of pliers. It just snapped right off. Makes you wonder how good the glue really is since the lid was full of it. Anyway, I set it on the floor, where I was working, and eventually knocked it over. It was bound to happen. About half of it had drained onto the floor before I noticed it and made a festive yellow puddle.

I picked up the glue container and pondered a little while about how to salvage what was left. As I did this my eye landed on a pretty red top from some leather mender stuff I had thrown away because it was about 20 years old and had solidified in the container. I had taken the top off in an attempt to get some to fix a little rip on Diane’s new couch, but couldn’t find anything useful. So, I threw it away, but the lid remained on my work bench. It fit the glue bottle perfectly. Going back a little, you may wonder what it’s like when your eye “lands” on something. If it’s happened to you, you know what I mean. It’s like a physical sensation that makes you kind of dizzy when you spy the exact thing you need, and everything else becomes invisible as you zoom in on it. It’s almost like what you see in a cartoon.

With the glue safely secured, I discovered that I had stepped in the puddle of glue while engaged in that activity. Not wanting to make glue spots all over the place I just slipped my slip-on shoes off, and cleaned up the puddle just like Diane would have wanted me to do before I stepped in it. When I told her about this she said, “what if the dogs had stepped in it,” to which I had no response because that didn’t even enter my mind. I mean, I wasn’t supposed to step in it, so why would they? I suppose I should have considered Ozzie because if he stepped in it he’d only get about three steps before his little feet would be glued to the floor. That wouldn’t have been good at all. But he didn’t.

In case you were wondering, this is what I’ve been working on. It’s for our church.

You’re probably wondering why it would take a normal person two whole days to make something that looks pretty simple. First, everyone tells me I’m not normal, so that’s a big issue, and second, I used good joinery, and way too much lumber. I had no plan, similar to the way I write stuff, so it was engineered on the fly. The basic premise was to provide Pastor with a cross for the church to which folks can pin their prayers, concerns, and troubles, and won’t tip over. He wanted an old ragged fence board which I got from Jennie. The I used some cork, from Goodwill, and trimmed it with some decorative wood. The wood for the frame was stuff I’ve had laying around in my shop for 6-7 years. It was time to use it.

I’m sure all of this detail is thrilling you to pieces so I’ll quit. Besides, Diane just got home from her WELCA meeting, where she was reelected as President, and now I have to wait on her.

A Night Out

Last night Diane and I went to see “Beauty & The Beast” at the Keller Auditorium. This was “Thanks” to our friend, Gary K who, sadly (for him), had a scheduling conflict and was unable to attend. He was very generous and now we like him more than ever. Really.

Prior to the play we had dinner at the Keller Cafe. It was very interesting. I’m not saying the food was bad, because it really wasn’t. It was buffet style, so we helped ourselves.

To start, we had Italian Wedding soup. Never had that before. It’s some kind of tiny round pasta, about the size of salmon eggs, but white, in a broth with small pieces of sausages, and a random leaf of spinach. It tasted pretty good, but Diane didn’t like it. When we got the soup, we also got salad and what looked like fried vegetables. Maybe they were roasted. Either way, they weren’t fully cooked. Diane didn’t like them, either, but did OK with the salad, which was fairly normal.

For the entree, I got the Dried Fried Szechuan Green Beans with bell pepper confetti, a hard roll (my favorite), Orzo Pilaf,  Pork Roast, really tiny little pieces of cake, and coffee. Diane didn’t try the beans because they really didn’t look “right,” kinda black and all, but I did and found them to be a delightful compliment to the incredibly dry piece of pork roast that I voluntarily accepted. I have to admit that I was able, with a little effort, to cut the meat with only my butter knife, but that didn’t add any juice to it. I was strongly considering a visit to carver to ask for some ketchup but Diane vetoed that in favor of me just eating it and “dealing with it,” over creating a culinary scene that would, she was sure, embarrass her. I had no doubt she was entirely correct in her assessment of the situation so bit my tongue, figuratively speaking. I ate two rolls, and an extra helping of the beans before we both indulged in multiple pieces of tiny cake and coffee. Diane like those, as did I. After it was done, I was full and satisfied, so didn’t really have anything to complain about at that point.

Though there may have been an issue with some of the food, what made it totally OK was that the Cafe is situated right next to the entrance for the 1st balcony where Gary and Cindy normally sit.

About 10 minutes before curtain time, we found our way to the assigned seats. They were in row A with an excellent view of the stage. Having neither seen the movie, nor read the book, the only thing I knew about Beauty & The Beast were a few of the songs. So, I was delighted with the entire event. The cast was exceptional, especially the beer mug clacking scene. That was awesome! The entire affair was awesome! Thank you Gary!

We did have a little trouble with the crowd and some of the audible aspects of the play which disturbed Diane. The first was with the very large lady sitting next to her who coughed, uncovered, throughout the performance, and the latter was due to Diane’s newly realized need to have her hearing checked. She’s actually known this for some time, but keeps putting off doing it because she fears the cost of hearing aids will set us back 2 or 3 house payments. I told her she could wear mine any time she wants because I always forget to put it in. I’d never know the difference. But she won’t because the only one I have isn’t hers.

Today, after church, we took Diane’s Mom, Jean, to Ichabod’s in Scappoose for lunch. We all had breakfast. I always have breakfast at Ichabod’s. That was hours ago so now it’s time for supper so I’m having a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This is something new I’ve learned to like. The first time I made one the peanut butter and jelly kinda sizzled away in the skillet. Now I just toast the bread first and put the fixings on after. Much cleaner. What I really like about them is that I don’t have to worry about jelly squishing out the sides when I take a bite. with the bread toasted, it stays firm and flat, allowing me to eat each half of the sandwich separately without getting jelly anywhere on my body. There’s no need for me to wear color-coded shirts with a meal like this.

Now I’m done.

Monday Morning

Now that I’m retired, Monday Mornings just aren’t the same. They’re exactly like every other day, but different. I used to wake up on Mondays eager to ride the red snake to Portland where I would assume a position much like the one I’m in at this moment. Poised professionally behind a computer, clicking away at one task or another, and waiting for the phone to ring so I could solve my first mystery of the day. Now I’m poised in my pajamas, and my clientele consist of my lovely bride, three dogs, and whoever wishes to call seeking help.

The dogs don’t generally have any issues with computers so they’re easy to assist. All they need are full food bowls so they’ll have something to argue about during the day. And water.

Hmmmm. Wonder what happened there. Some sort of melancholy thing, I guess. Way too serious. Perhaps the reason I went down that road was because Diane left me alone for a while yesterday when she went to church to meet with some of the ladies to hold a prayer vigil for a friend. Her name is also Diane. She went to the hospital last Thursday for chest pains, and wound up getting a 5 hour session of open heart surgery. She had an aortic aneurism which normally kills folks outright, but she survived. The vigil was to pray for her recovery because she hasn’t yet awakened since the operation. The doctors are optimistic, but it’s one of those things that that’s hard to fathom. Bad things just happen so quickly so treasure every second you have.

I’m writing a book about history. Not the way you learned it, but the way it really happened. From the beginning. So far it’s five chapters long, but it’s only 10 pages so there’s some filling I need to add. Shouldn’t take me more than a couple more days and I’ll be done with it.

Today I took Ziva & Ozzie to the vet to get their rabies boosters. I put a big red leash on Ozzie, and black on Ziva because they’re supposed to be on a leash in the office. I told the attendant that the dogs were twins and I used the different colored leashes so I could tell them apart. They figured it out right away, though, when I had to put the dogs on the scale. One at a time. Ozzie weighs 6.4 pounds. Ziva weighs 74.4 pounds. And, when you look closely, they don’t look much alike at all. The doc said Ziva was overweight, which didn’t make her happy, but she took her shots well and decided going to the vet wasn’t all that bad because she got treats. Ozzie wasn’t having anything to do with the treats and gave the doctor his Elvis lip when she tried to pet him. He can do that on either side of his face and it looks pretty scary. So, I had to hold his nose until she was done.

When I got home I put on my three day old working clothes that have been laying on the bedroom floor for three days, and went out to whack some black berry vines. I quickly learned that the gloves I was wearing weren’t up to the task of protecting my tender little fingers very well. I was constantly pulling thorns out of them. What made them stick in the gloves was the points that imbedded themselves in my skin. Apparently the thorns have been trained from birth to leave a small piece of themselves behind when pulled from human flesh. Now I have little black dots on my fingers and hands. I took a couple of shots across the face with some unwieldy vines, too, and Diane wouldn’t let me come back into the house until the bleeding stopped. So, I just kept working. Finally, at 5 pm, Diane said I could come in to eat supper. She figured it had been long enough for the blood to have solidified on my wounds, and she was right. Now all I have to do is wait for the wounds to fester so I can pop the rest of the thorns out of them.

Now its time for bed, and there I must go.

Jody, The Quilt Show & Fine Dining

Yesterday Diane and I went to Hillsboro to visit a very good friend who had just been released from the ICU after a kidney operation to remove a HUGE stone. It was 1/3 the size of her kidney. The doctor removed about 3/4 of it before Jody’s BP dropped so low they had to terminate the operation. It was a scary time for Rick, I know, and for us when we found out what happened. It was good to see Jody and talk with her. I ask that everyone keep Jody in your thoughts and prayers as her doctors devise a way to get rid of that other 1/4 of her stone in a less invasive manner.

This morning I went to coffee with the MELCA group while Diane went to the church to set up for the WELCA’s 31st annual quilt show. Actually, it was only part of the MELCA group as a few were missing. But, seven of us filled up a 4-person table at The Kozy Korner Kafe. I don’t know if it’s “Kafe” or not, but seems like it should be since everything else starts with “K”. MELCA stands for Men of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. It’s not really an official group … Larry made that up thinking that when the WELCA group had their shindigs at the church, the MELCA group could have a tail gate party in the church parking lot. I guess that didn’t fluff a lot feathers in the right direction so we decided to have coffee every Thursday morning instead. We met at the Warren Country Inn until it went bankrupt and closed down. Don’t know how long we’ll last at the Kozy.

The WELCA Annual Quilt Show is a big deal for the ladies and they put a lot of hard work into it. Quilters come out of the woodwork to display their efforts, and to sell their wares. It’s quite an event enjoyed by everyone who takes the time to participate and those who just show up to look. The ladies serve sandwiches and soup … the absolute best homemade clam chowder in the world, bar none. Really. That’s true. Valerie makes it. Not the Connecticut Valerie … the St. Helens Valerie. I can talk about her because I know for a fact she doesn’t have a computer. It’s in my basement shop. Well, it was, until I tore it apart and recycled it because it was broken. Since she doesn’t have a computer she can’t read any of this. I’ve had her computer in the basement for the last 4 years. She didn’t want it back and she didn’t get a new one. She doesn’t like computers.

After a very tiring hour at coffee hour with the MELCA guys, I took a piece of tail pipe to Don to see if he could bend me a new one just a little longer. The piece I had fell off our RV and I couldn’t get it back in the sleeve because it was rusted off a little. Don used to own a muffler shop and he’s a really good guy to know. He’s also Diane’s cousin, which helps. I fiddle with his computers and he’s my official car mechanic and muffler guy. Don also races on the local track that he got built, at the local county fair grounds, many years ago. His shop currently has three race cars in various stages of construction, or rebuilding from the last race. Races start in May. We visited for a while then I had to leave because Diane and I had a date in Oregon City to have a late lunch at Mike & Kathie’s. This Mike & Kathie is not the same Mike & Kathie who live in a secluded area East of Sacramento. They just have the same names, with Kathie spelled the same way. Kind of odd, actually, but I’m comfortable with odd.

Since the church was close to Don’s, I stopped by to see how Diane was doing and found her vacuuming the floor. Being properly trained, I got to her as quickly as I could and took the machine away from her and finished the job. Then we went home to get cleaned up for our date.

Mike & Kathie’s Kafe is in a secluded location not far from the famous Willamette Falls, last seen by this reporter in an episode of Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton, which is a TNT series filmed in Portland. As I recall, Timothy got shot down there, but didn’t die. Of course he wouldn’t die, because there has to be another show next week. Anyway, Mike & Kathie’s is known for their fabulous quizeen … I mean cuisine. It’s exciting because we never know what’s on the menu until it lands on the table in front of you. Mike started me off with a sangria and club soda mixture, which is kinda like Bali High wine and vodka, with a lot less kick. Pretty good stuff. I watched him open the bottle so know it was fresh.

Diane had water.

Then the honey buns were brought to the table and they were excellent. We munched on them while our plates were being filled by the owners. The excitement was building as wonderful odors wafted from the newly remodeled kitchen, with really nice fake granite counter tops. Actually, they aren’t fake at all. And, they aren’t granite. They are quartz, and very very nice.

In a short time Kathie appeared with steaming plates and placed them in front of us. She served me first because, I thought, she liked me best. Turns out I was just the closest to her. This Kathie, in addition to being an excellent cook, is a prodigious quilter, as is Wynette. We’re related to Wynette, and the Mike & Kathie who live near Sacramento.

On the plate was mashed potatoes, corn, and spare ribs. That was good and bad. Good because I had on a dark shirt. Bad because the plate was sitting on a white lace table cloth. Diane gave me that “look”, warning me to be very careful with my food and not get any on the table, or myself. I was a little tense as I took my first bite, but found that the meat pealed off the bones quite nicely. So, I stripped the bones, cut up the meat, and just mixed everything on the plate, like I normally do the TV dinners we have at home. I really like TV dinners that way because it makes it all look more appealing. Doing it at Mike & Kathie’s, I discovered, wasn’t a good choice, so I hit the magic button in my armpit, and spun the clock back 30 seconds to where everything was OK on my plate. Except the meat was still stripped from the bones.

It was most excellent. So good, that I ate twice. And, I only got one, little, teeny, tiny, spot on the table cloth. I pulled my plate a little closer to cover it up, thinking I  could get away with it, but Diane saw me and gave me that squinty eye, head turned look which forewarned me of events to come. It was a really little spot.

After eating, we visited for about 3 hours. Normally you can’t do that with Kafe owners, but they are good friends, and it was really in their home. So it was OK. We don’t see them nearly often enough because they live so far away. Or maybe it’s because Diane and I live so far away. It’s one or the other. Many of our friends fall into that category. They seem to all live 40-50 miles away. That shouldn’t been so bad, you’d think, since we’ve been known to drive 2500 miles to attend a wedding. Really, what’s 40-50 miles?

We returned home safely and the dogs were very happy to see us. Like normal. Just before we got home, Jeff sent a text stating that Ziva, our black blue healer/catahoula leopard hound mix, is a descended from Spanish war dogs which were bred in Louisiana to go out and pick fights with feral hogs, and get them to chase them home. I think this is where the term “bringing home the bacon” really came from. That was fitting end to our evening.

Sorry I didn’t take a picture of my plate of food so you would have a visual reference, but I was too engaged to think of taking pictures. I ate and visited instead.

G’nite.

Super Bowl Sunday & Other Stuff

Yes, I watched the game. So did Diane. We did it mainly to watch the commercials. We also watched the Madonna half time show which we both thoroughly enjoyed. I guess that makes me a Madonna fan. I’m a Danika Patrick fan, too.

Before the game, Terry and his bride arrived to remove the old generator from the ’68 Winnebago I’ve been destroying. He had to get here today because Ryan is hauling off the carcass tomorrow and I’ll have to get busy cleaning up the mess. Terry and I managed to yank the generator out with little difficulty, and transfer it to his trailer. Generators are very heavy. At least the ones they made in 1968 are heavy.

After the generator went away I fired up the BBQ and we had steaks. The weather has been incredible. It must have been around 70 degrees, or so, and I was thinking about mowing the yard. Diane nixed that in favor of the BBQ.

I’ve been sitting here a while trying to think up something clever to write, so this might be at least a little interesting, but I’m coming up empty. I think that’s because Diane is making me take my fish oil pills three times a day. It’s supposed to help my heart, which works just fine, but rumor has it that it also helps ADD afflicted folks, of which she thinks I one. Jennie told her that because that’s what the doctor is doing for Jeran. I have this theory that the fish oil capsules, which also contain flaxseed, safflower, and olive oil, are suppressing my imagination. I find that things aren’t flying around in my head like they used to but I found, too, that caffeine can temporarily fix that.

Here’s what the sunrise looked like this morning from our back porch …

As an old friend, Jewel, who lives on Hawaii (big island), and lives in a house that sees every Hawaiian sunset … she’s not really old … at least she’s younger than me, I think … anyway, she calls this sunrise “stunning”. High praise from a lovely lady who is surrounded by incredibly beautiful sunsets every day. Some might think that would get boring, but it doesn’t. Here’s a Hawaiian sunset picture I took a couple of years ago so you can see what I mean …

Kinda ho hum, huh? Who would want to look at stuff like that every day? Well, Diane would. For that reason I would force myself to endure the brutal assaults on my senses. I’d suck it up and deal with it.

You may find it amusing that Diane and I are sending emails back and forth so she doesn’t have to yell at me. She’s sitting in the living room with her laptop, and I’m all alone in the Man Room, with the dogs. We’re having some of the calmest “conversations” we’ve had in years. I guess it works better when there isn’t any body language involved to emphasize certain points. Little things like raised eyebrows, or rolling your eyes in lieu of a verbal comment to something you might not believe, or simply disagree with. It’s kinda fun to enter a conversation between a couple of women and just do that once in a while without saying anything, whether or not you know what’s being discussed. It gets interesting pretty quickly. You should try it. Perks things up, it does.

Time to quit. I hope “your” team won the game today. If your team was the Patriots, I’m sorry. I’m not really sorry, because I really didn’t have anything to do with it other than to cheer on the Giants. That may have helped, a little. No, I’m not sorry at all, and you can’t make me feel bad for rooting for the winning team. I won’t allow it. No sir! We’re just not going to talk about this any more.

PS – we love our new furnace.

Heat! Finally!

Greetings … The heat came back on about 3:30 pm, PST. The installer arrived before 8:30 am and got right to work. We lucked out and got Jake again. He’s the one who installed our gas fireplace and he does an excellent job.

While Jake worked, Diane fiddled around in the Girl Room, with a heater, while I slaved away in the cold basement dismantling old computers. They’ve been stacking up for years and I figured it was time for them to go away, or get repaired. Of the six I had, only one was resurrected. The remaining five were stripped of every screw, and piece of plastic. Power supplies were dismantled, fans salvaged, and hard drives torn apart. I’ve always wanted to do that … tear a hard drive apart. That went well until I got to the magnets and about got my finger snapped off. They are extremely powerful little devils.

Now I have to stop because Diane just returned with supper. She was going to drive to the mail box, then thought that was a little excessive, so I suggested she continue on to Burgerville for a couple of hamburgers and stop at the mail box on the way home. She thought that was a good idea.