Alarm Clocks & Opposing Thumbs

I hate alarm clocks, especially the mechanical or digital kinds. They are so invasive when they ignite, intruding into some really good dreams, dragging me back from the edge of a blissful event that I can never remember. It’s just terrible. A solution, of course, is to go to bed when the sun goes down, and get up when it does … like farmers. Those guys all have internal, biological alarm clocks developed from a life time of repetitive hard work and regular hours. Since I’m incapable of timing my sleep habits to the rotation of celestial bodies, I have to rely on something more reliable in order to meet my responsibilities for the coming day. Tapping in to a part of my brain that I don’t normally use, I found there a wee bit of creativity and forced myself to think about alarms clocks, and nothing else, for 5 minutes. The object was to determine which sound would result in someone immediately getting out of bed. I thought of all the sounds that annoy me and came up with the perfect idea … The Puking Cat Alarm … there’s just nothing quite like it. I don’t know about you, but personally, as soon as i hear that sound I’m up and running looking for the source.

Wouldn’t this wake you up?

Most days, as most of you know, the dogs function as my alarm, getting me up just before they have to pee, or whatever. They are creatures of habit, tied to the rotation of the sun and moon, and slaved to the level of food in their bowls. Lately we’ve been giving them soft food to augment the crunchy stuff they’ve been eating for years, and that’s a real motivator for them to nudge me from bed at the same time each morning. Ozzie is a half a pouch breakfast guy, saving the other half for an afternoon snack, while Panzee is a 2-3 cans kind of girl, if she had her way. It’s a quick breakfast for her and she always wants more, like most big dogs do. Bottom line, they have reasons to be up and moving at certain times of the day and, since they don’t have opposing thumbs, they need someone to open the can, or pouch, and open the door so they can frolick in the field.

Opposing thumbs will be the topic for a future entry here because I find them fascinating and just love those things!

Even though I dislike them, this morning I had to set an alarm. For 0530. My motivation was a promise  to Steffani that I would get up and make coffee before they embarked on another day of softball in Hillsboro. For these times, I use the Church Bell alarm on my iPad. It’s a gentle way to wake up, even if you don’t want to. When we’re on vacation, Diane uses her iPhone alarm, that sounds like a diving klaxon on a submarine, to get us up so the maid can make up the room. Sometimes she pretends we’re on vacation and sets it off just to see me jump from bed in a panic. It amuses her. That’s usually OK because I probably had to go to the bathroom anyway, and usually make it there with most of my bladder’s contents. I have no idea where the bit that’s missing goes. There must be magic involved there.


Softball and Pizza

It’s 5:30am. The house is quiet, except when the big dog barks at a deer, and the little dog barks because the big dog does. It’s full daylight already and will remain this way for the next 15 hours or so. Gotta love June. I’d burst out singing but that would prematurely wake our guests and that wouldn’t be a good thing. No, I’ll just sit here, quietly tap-tap tapping away on my keyboard until someone else gets up. I don’t expect that will be any time soon because none of us got to bed before midnight. That may cause one to wonder why it is I’m up and no one else is. I suspect that’s because it’s a “Dog Rule” … the first one who gets annoyed with them enough to let them out is the winner. So, I always start out my day as a winner. I’ve never looked at it that way before just this minute, so it’s a good thing. I should thank the dogs, don’t you think? I’ll give them treats, later.

Lydia spent the night so she could visit with Maryssa and get as much visiting in as possible. They don’t see each other very often so we were prepared to use severe force to curtail the late night gabfest, but both were so tired they just went right to sleep, no argument.

Last night Daniel took all the kids to ‘13 Nights On The River’ in front of the old court-house in St. Helens. That’s the court-house Wynette worked in for half her life, in an office overlooking the Columbia River. She was a court reporter so when she wasn’t in court, reporting, she was in her office staring out the window because she had nothing else to do.

13 Nights is an event much like a street fair where the streets are closed around the square in front of the courthouse, and vendors take over. At the gazebo, down by the river, professional entertainers take turns showing their stuff. For this reason I strongly feel the event is misnamed because not once is anyone really ON the river, at any time, unless, of course, they’ve spent too long at the beer garden. This “garden” is cleverly elevated above the children’s play ground in order to weed out the truly inebriated, and the truly stupid, as they can easily tumble over the low fence onto the teeter totter below, thereby improving the town’s gene pool. Those who frequent beer gardens are unaware of this benefit for the others who don’t.

I was going through pictures with Steffani last night and discovered that I miss my East Coast Girls and Guys so here’s a “Howdy” to y’all from Out West. Love you all. I’m going to wear my cowboy boots for a little while to keep memories of my visit current. Might wear my string tie, too. I may, or may not, wear underwear so you’ll just have to wonder about that.

Steffani was the first up this morning and interrupted my morning nap, but that’s OK. I was expecting someone to eventually get up. She was happy the coffee was already made and I was happy to learn that she likes creamers, same as me. Her favorite is hazelnut, same as me. I think that’s a genetic connection.

Eventually, everyone filtered out of the bedrooms, Lydia and Maryssa last. At 8:30 Jennie, Dan, Cedric, and Jeran arrived, and we commenced cooking everything in the kitchen refrigerator. I have to designate the ‘kitchen’ because we have a garage refrigerator, too. I cooked all the eggs, and Diane cooked all the bacon. Jennie brought hash browns. It was a good meal enjoyed by all, unless some of them were lying.

About 11:00 Bob, Steffani, and Maryssa departed for Hillsboro to attend the college recruiting ‘thing’ for softball. Maryssa is going to be a junior in the fall. The rest of us, except Jennie, will go in later this afternoon to watch her play in the All Star game at Hillsboro Stadium. Tomorrow is tournament day for both Lydia, in Rainier, and Maryssa at the Hillsboro fairgrounds. Maryssa is also playing Sunday, so we will get to see her play then. It’s going to be a busy weekend for sure.

Dan just left to take the boys to a movies, Jennie left to go to work, and Diane just left. So, I’m home alone with serious thoughts about using some of my more dangerous power tools to see what happens. First, however, I gotta mow the yard. I can only do that when I’m home alone. It’s some sort of rule that everyone voted on one day when I was sleeping. Another rule is that I’m not allowed to vote on anything that involves me, so they let me sleep.

It’s now 3:30 pm and I just finished mowing the yard. You need to know that. It took me 3 hours. You wouldn’t think that riding around on a lawn mower for 3 hours would make you tired, but it does because you’re always trying to keep it going straight, except for the corners, so it’s a brutal exercise.

… long pause here …

It’s now 11:11 pm, and we just got home from Maryssa’s ball game at Hillsboro Stadium. It was an all-star event, and some of her old teammates were on the opposing team, so it wasn’t about the win … it was about the experience. Maryssa did OK … she went 2 for 4, I think. One single, and a double off a ball that bounced over the left field fence. She also played short stop and second base. It was fun to watch. Here’s the swing that got the double …

After the game, we all went to Fultano’s Pizza in Scappoose … that’s the new one across from Fred Meyer, next to Les Schwab on the east side of the highway. Diane and I had a turkey club sandwich which was very, very good, and very, very filling. I’m stuffed to overflowing. And tired. A lot of things happened, and were revealed during dinner that I was supposed to remember for this, but I can’t remember all of them. Most importantly, I think, is that Maryssa didn’t realize the that the vice grips on the hot water faucet was something she could turn on. Apparently she’s not allowed to touch tools at home, so that carried over to her visit here. Consequently, she waited a long time for the water to get hot and was finally saved when she caught Diane walking down the hall who explained the significance of the vice grips. She keeps reminding me that it needs to be fixed, but she doesn’t like my quick fix, to make them match by getting another pair of vice grips. That’s a story for another day.

Now it’s bedtime …

Relatives vs. Real Visitors

Today I survived another “scrub-a-dub-dub” evolution to spiff up the house because our niece, Steffani, her Husband, Bob, and one of the fruits of their loins, Maryssa, are scheduled to appear this afternoon. They’re arriving from Idaho, fresh from the potato fields, so Maryssa can participate in a college recruitment event for softball. She’s really, really good at that. And, she’s a really nice person. This is Steffani, Bob, and Maryssa. The picture of Bob is also of Maryssa, but it’s the only one I could find … he’s sitting in the chair in the back ground. The other picture is Staffani’s dad, Jim, watching TV. I’ve shown you that one, before.

Back to house cleaning … I made a sincere attempt to convince Diane that it wasn’t necessary to expend all this energy cleaning the house for them because they aren’t really guests, they are relatives. Everyone knows there’s a different set of rules regarding house cleaning for those distinct groups of people. And, c’mon … they aren’t even high level relatives, which are Uncles and Aunts. But, my pleas fell on ears that would not listen to common sense. Her argument was that the house needed to be cleaned anyway, and I really didn’t have an argument about that, because it was true. It’s just … you know … I didn’t get my after breakfast nap, or anything.

Instead of the nap, and even BEFORE breakfast, I was out on the streets of St. Helens stuffing flags into holes in the sidewalk with fellow Lions in celebration of Flag Day. I enjoy doing that with Bert and Sue, so that wasn’t really a chore at all. I even got a free breakfast out of it after we were done which gave me the energy to deal with the house cleaning when I got home.

As I throw these words on the screen it’s becoming more and more clear that I really don’t have an argument at all. It’s OK to clean up the house for relatives, even lower level ones, because they would probably do the same for us. I think. We’ve been to their house before and I’m sure they either cleaned it really well, or their house never gets dirty. There wasn’t a sign of dirt anywhere I looked, and I’m good at doing that. It used to be my job when I was in the Navy to find dirt the cleanup crew missed. I still have the white gloves.

Diane’s at the pharmacy waiting for a new subscription that is, hopefully, going to ease the pain she’s experiencing in her tummy. This is something that’s been going on for a long time and it’s wearing her out. That’s really why I got involved in the house cleaning evolution … I wanted her to sit down and let me do it, but she had to be there supervising, which probably was a good idea. I do things better, and neater, when I know she’s watching me. Left to my own devices, it would wind up done, but done wrong, or not done all the way, because I have a genetic tendancy to be easily distracted. Usually, the distraction is of the nature I explained a blog or two ago, but it could easily be as simple as spying a pretty bug on a curtain, or a speck of glitter on the floor. It doesn’t take much and most of my tasks encompass a voyage of discovery. I’m getting better at retaining focus, but it takes an effort that sometimes makes my eyes water. Wears me out and makes it hard to see clearly.

After eating breakfast, and before returning home to work, I walked around the local car dealer’s lot checking things out. As i was doing that, the owner had just parked on his way to the office, and tried to sell me a car. I explained that the kind of car I had in mind would never be on a car lot because I wanted one that’s waaaay cheaper than his. We want a really cheap one to tow behind the RV. Cheap, and really light. They don’t have cheap. Still, I followed him into the show room and sat down to talk with Bo for a while. Bo is a young man from whom we’ve purchased more than one vehicle over the years. During this conversation I learned that he’s a long time kite boarder and sometimes spends his lunch hour on the Columbia River. I expressed an interest in gretting some pictures of him and his friends “doing their thing” and he’s all for that. Even wanted to let me use his Zodiac to get around and take the shots. So, there may be some interesting pictues for me to share in the near future.

Gotta quit, now, because Diane is home with an SUV full of groceries. I forgot to mention she went shopping, too. Sorry. Shopping is another task associated with visitors, relatives, or not. Even low level relatives.

You’re Really 15?

Cedric … it wasn’t very long ago when you were a tiny little fake human being. You were only 18 inches long and weighed less than a bag of sugar. My oh my, how you’ve grown.

Love from Grandpa

The Garden

Have you ever had one of those days where events overcome you to the point where you just don’t get anything significant accomplished? If so, please tell me what it’s like to have that happen as something out of the ordinary because that’s the way my life is every day. From the time I arise, to the time I arest.

Let’s look at today, for instance …

I got up at a fairly normal time, for me, and was out working by 9:00 am. Diane’s been wanting me to plant the tomatoes in the little area we have outside the kitchen, but it still needed to be cleaned up. Before I went to Connecticut I had spaded it all up, and that’s where it was this morning, but the grass had begun to grow again so I thought it was going to be a tough job. So, I pulled out the old Mantis tiller and went to work to get it running, but that didn’t work out well. While priming the engine, by pushing that little bulb thingie, I managed to split it open causing it to leak a little gas. But, I did manage to get it started, I just couldn’t keep it running. Thinking it was the bulb, I went to a local repair shop and bought a new one. I also bought an air filter, something the Mantis hasn’t had for about 4 years now.

When I got home I proudly showed Diane the new and old bulbs, but the air filter simply disappeared. Really, it did. I know for a fact I brought it in the house from the car, but I couldn’t find it. Normally losing something like that drives me nuts, which is a pretty quick trip, but today I managed to remain calm as I tried to retrace my steps to find it. That proved to be difficult, because I couldn’t remember where I’d been before I discovered it was missing. Both of us search the house, the car, everything, but it’s gone.

After replacing the bulb, I decided to just run it without the filter since it was running just fine without it before, but it still wouldn’t stay running. So, I got to looking around and wound up dismantling the carburetor. I got it all cleaned up and reinstalled, but it still wouldn’t stay running. All symptoms pointed to a clogged fuel filter, but I wasn’t sure where it was. I finally found it at the end of the fuel line in the gas tank. It was pretty clogged and the fuel line kind of disintegrated in my hand, so figure I’ll need to replace that before I can make it work properly. Everyone should be really proud of me, however, for getting it all back together without destrying it.

Since the Mantis wasn’t going to help me, I decided to just bite the bullet, for now, and get busy with the manual version of getting rid of the grass and weeds. Armed with a handy Polasky, a pitchfork, and a rake, I was making real progress when Diane bid me adieu to go work at the St. Helens Senior Center to serve lunch. She does this once a month. I help sometimes, and offered to help today, but she thought she was OK and would have enough help to get it done. So, I remained in the mud … did I mention it was raining? … plugging away. That was about 11:00 am.

At 11:25 am Jennie showed up to tell me Diane needed me at the Senior Center because no one showed up to help. She needed me. After taking a shower, Jennie drove me and Cedric to the rescue. When we got there, some of the helper folks had arrived, but there was still a need. I was going to help serve the meals, but it wasn’t getting dished up quick enough for 3 servers, so I just sat down to eat at one of the tables. Once I was done, however, things got busy … my job was to scrape all the uneaten food off the dishes and place them in dishwater as a pre-rinse for the sterilizer machine. It’s actually an easy job but I had to keep reminding myself to NOT lick the spatula I was using on the plates. That wouldn’t have been good.

Finally, it was done and we returned home where I re-donned my wet, dirty work clothes, and returned to my garden chores. The tomatoes got planted as well as the cucumber plant. This is our second cucumber plant because the first one died on the porch before we could get it in the ground. Poor thing is still out there, all brown with all of it’s arms hanging over the edge of the pot like someone shot it. It’s kinda sad. I think tomorrow I’ll take it out and bury it next to the new cucumber and put a little cross up for it.

Right about the time I finished with the garden, it was time to get ready for my monthly Church Council meeting. Weird, huh? Me on Church Council? How, you may wonder, did that happen? Adding to your consternation, I must report that I’ve been involved with our Church Council for many, many years. At one point I was President for 8 years in a row. I initiated the concept of an agenda, and made everyone follow it, unlike all the meetings for the preceding 95 years. They just went off in all sorts of directions making things really confusing for someone like me who thrives on order and discipline.

When I returned from the meeting, Diane was still in the basement where I left her. She’s been watching our oldest TV in the newly reorganized family room area of the basement. It looks like this:

The plan is to remove the big TV from the upstairs living room and put it against the knotty pine wall. Then, if we want to watch TV, we’ll have to go down there … or into the man room where I have one hanging on the wall over Diane’s computer monitor.

Diane did all the work in the basement and it looks really good. One day I’ll have to take a picture of all the stuff that’s behind where I was standing to take the above picture. It’s a mess. Boxes, and boxes of “stuff”, a foosball table, a computer station, a piano, and the laundry room. Stuff just everywhere, with paths to make it easier to get through. Looks a little like one of those hoarder’s places you see on HGTV once in a while, except you can actually see most of our floor. Using that as a comparison, I guess ours really isn’t that bad.

Now I’ll leave you with some pictures. First is Cedric on the roof where he went to retrieve Panzee’s sock monkey … it’s a squeeky toy that she just can’t leave alone. She’s had it for a long time and hasn’t hurt it a bit …

Next is Lydia’s softball team celebrating the end of their season. One of the coaches, Jennifer, gave each girl a gift basket that had a softball in it. Here they are passing them around to get all the girl’s signatures. I think Lydia is covering up because she tossed a ball up and it didn’t make it to the girl behind her. Either that, or someone said something colorful …

Next is one of my favorite sunsets ever. It was taken on the island of Hawaii in 2009 …

And here’s one of my favorite sunrises, taken from our back porch. That Mt. Hood under the cloud in the middle. I think it blew up that day, but I’m not sure.

I guess that just goes to show you that Hawaii hasn’t got anything on Oregon.

Hope everyone is well, or getting better from not being well, or as well as you can be, all things considered. If you’re reading this, things could be a lot worse … you have a computer, and many don’t … you can see … you have a mouse and know how to use it so at least one of your arms and hands work … you’re probably sitting upright in a chair right now without a seat belt … and you have time to waste.

Later …

A Busy Day

Yesterday

Yesterday is gone,
and tomorrow awaits, but
it’s now the present.

OK – I’m bummed. Guess what happens when you create a WordPress entry on an iPad and kill the screen before publishing it … it disappears. I did that twice today, then decided to wait until I got home. I was really in to it, too, making all kinds of sage comments about pretty much everything in the universe. It’s sad that all those words are just whispers in the wind because they’re gone, and I’ll never be able to recreate them, except for all the pronouns and adjectives. And a contraction or two.

Making it even worse, I have the iPad plugged in on my desk and it’s getting all of this direct from my computer. That just doesn’t seem fair. Now I have to remember all the things I did today.

Let’s see … I took Diane to the doctor this morning and a new diagnosis was rendered regarding her stomach pain that may Ruth may find interesting. The doc she saw thinks the trouble may be some exotic bacteria that she got from contanimated water. I call it exotic because I can’t spell it. Can’t pronounce it, either. Coupled with this is some newfound knowledge that Diane learned either on the news or in the funny papers, they are pretty much the same, that leaving a Britta container with the filter on the counter isn’t a good thing because it grows this nasty bacteria. Now, that must be in the really small print on the filter wrapper because that’s not something either of us knew. Actually, I didn’t really care until I found out it might be a bad thing.

Anyway, when we stayed at Moses Lake, guess what? We left that container on the counter for a week, refilling it whenever it got low. Seemed to work OK and Diane thought her innards were dissolving because of all the Mexican food we had to eat up there. But it wasn’t. It was the nasty bacteria from the Britta filter container. The simple cure for that is to put the water container in the refrigerator. That’s OK, if there was room.

Now, I didn’t get sick on this trip like Diane, so it was hard to track down the culprit. After one dose of Cipro she’s already better. That started killing the bacteria and the flagyl she’s going to take will flush it all out like one of those new pressure toilets … whooosh! It’s pretty dramatic, I’m told.

I’m getting way ahead of myself …

After the doctor we went directly to the Rite Aide pharmacy to get the meds. Since it was going to take 30 minutes, we thought we may as well get a breakfast sandwich from Burgerville which was just across the bowling alley parking lot. It was 10:10am. I remember. It was good. Then I got the meds and we went by Jennies to get her and Cedric. They only live across the street from Burgerville so it was a quick trip. Then we went to our house to let the dogs run for a bit before we abandoned them for our trip to Portland.

First up was a trip to Olive Garden for lunch. That was Cedric’s choice, and a good one. I ate spaghetti and didn’t get any on me. It. Was. Amazing. I normally wear a red shirt so no one can tell, but didn’t know I was eating spaghetti today and had on a light brown one. It was OK, though, because Diane sat next to me and watched me like a hawk, snatching splatters right out of the air before they hit me. It was quite impressive and drew moderate applause from customers at nearby tables. As a result, my shirt remained spot free until we got home and our at, Breezie, jumped on me with muddy feet. Really nice, but totally in character.

After lunch we went to Costco. Jennie wanted something but we didn’t really need to go but bought a camping lantern out of guilt because it’s illegal to go to a Costco, anywhere, and not buy something. It’s a rule. After the purchase we decided we hadn’t spent quite enough so went to the Costco gas station for a fillup. Rounding up, we met the $85 minimum and were able to leave the area with a clear conscience.

From Costco we went directly to the Target store that was the furthest away. The main reason we went there was so Jennie and Cedric could get slushies. Apparently Target makes the best ones. I declined to exit the vehicle, choosing instead to remain behind and capture the days events on my iPad, which I lost twice, as I previously mentioned.

Finally, we departed for home, arriving about 5:00pm. I was coming down from a sugar high from the lunch, and couldn’t stay awake so sat on the couch waiting for 6:00pm for Jeran’s fly up ceremony from sixth to seventh grade. It was also a pot luck so we got supper. A twofer. Jeran’s class put on a fun little skit and we had a good meal.

From there I took Diane home then met Jennie and Cedric at Campbell Park for Lydia’s softball game. Her team played a 16U tournement team and beat them 7-5. Lydia pitched the last two innings and the girls played awesome, blanking the other team. Then, I was allowed to go home. Cedric came with me and I loaned him a pair of jammies  and I did this. If you read this far, I’m sure you feel cheated unless you are really, really interested in what I do.

Tomorrow I’ll edit this and add pictures.

Haiku And Other “Stuff”

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that is normally composed of three lines. The version I’m most familiar with is where the first and last lines are 5 sylables, the center is 7. It’s kind of interesting how things come out when you do this. Since three lines are not enough for me, I use the Zen approach and just continue until the story is done. For example, here’s some I just made up, just now …

Animal Alarm Clock

Today I awoke
to a dog licking my hand.
His tongue is real soft.
The cat, however,
has a tongue made like a rasp.
It leaves marks on me.
They do this each day
because they are both hungry.
I feed the dog first.

I know … it’s not elegant, but it’s descriptive. Like this one.

 Monday

Today is Sunday
and it’s likely tomorow
is no doubt Monday.
I am retired,
so I no longer car pool
and get to sleep in.

OK … I’ll stop. It’s goofy, but doing this is a good exercise in making sense of pretty much any situation using small words. How convenient is that? Ooops, here’s another one …

Lyle

Lyle is my brother.
I went to his funeral,
But he is still here.
Dwelling in my mind,
he will be with me always
He is with me now.

OK – that’s it, no more, please!

Today I did nothing of consequence except take Diane’s Mom, Jean, shopping for food. Turns out she hasn’t eaten for the last 3 days because she ran out. That’s a lie, of course … she only ran out yesterday. And, she only ran out of milk. I also shopped for us, not something I do much of because Jean’s daughter, Diane, takes care of me quite nicely. It was interesting to roll the cart up and down the aisles at Safeway, trying to get only the things she had on the list, but I couldn’t help myself. I bought a piece of never frozen salmon, and macaroni & cheese because it looked good. Diane called while I was in the store and asked for tomatoes, where weren’t on the list so I was able to get permission to buy the salmon and macaroni.

We’re going to try a vegetarian diet for a while and see if it helps with Diane’s diverticulitis. Maybe it will do something good for me, too. Either way, I’m all in to help Diane shed this “stuff”. Ruth knows what we’re dealing with, here. It’s no fun.

I just talked with brother Jack who is working 86 hours a week at the old plant where he used to work. He’s done this a number of times to help with their annual scheduled shutdown for maintenance and upgrades. One of his responsibilities in the past was scaffolding and he got this really neat hat from the company that put them up. Their motto was “Erections are our business”. Cute. That should be Hooters motto. I am speaking out of turn here because I’ve never been to a Hooters so have no frame of reference for that comment. But, I’ve seen pictures. This time Jack is in charge of everything. He’s been promoted. That’s why he gets to work so many hours each week. He has four of those to go so pray he makes it.

Now I’m going to quit and watch TV with my first wife. She’s been here for a while.

How To Complicate Your Life Without Even Trying

Friday was one of those days I’m used to where attempting to get one simple little thing done requires completion of many other tasks first. You know, one where you go look for your car keys and on the way you find the glass of water you were looking for before you had to go to the bathroom but there wasn’t any toilet paper which required a trip to the basement where you discovered your drill wouldn’t work because the battery is dead and you left your Dremel tool outside dangerously near the wet part of the patio? Ultimately, all that got done was the Dremel tool was returned to the tool bench and you’re left standing there wondering why you’re there. Complicating all that, sometimes, is when Diane innocently asks for assistance on something, or gives me a task to do later but if I don’t do it right away I’ll forget and I’ll fail her.

Now, where was I?

Oh, ya. I got the truck keys so I could warm up the truck for a dump run, but the license plate expired last December, and the new one was sitting on the table by my computer. It’s been there for six months. Then the truck wouldn’t start because the battery was dead as a doornail and you just gotta wonder how a doornail can possibly be dead. C’mon! There isn’t one doornail in all of existence that was ever alive … oh, I see now … that’s pretty dead, isn’t it?

The truck … battery … the dead battery in the truck was one I retained from one of the old Winnebagos we used to have and it worked just fine clear up to the point where I moved the truck last December. It didn’t fit in the battery tray so it sat a little cattywampus next to the radiator, but the hood closed so it was good. I hunted around in the garage for a while, looking for the original truck battery, which had died at some point before last December and had been recharged and placed in a prominent location where I was sure to find it. And I did … it was behind a spare piece of sheetrock I had propper up against Jeff’s drafting table in the garage. I knew that but was distracted by all the other nifty stuff in the garage … like the organ and the player piano. Probably not the best place for those things, but that’s where they are, and that’s where they’ll stay until I can gather up enough people to help me carry them downstairs.

To get the old battery out I had to find my wrenches, which were in the basement where they belonged. I only needed a 1/2 inch wrench but I took all of them with me. It seemed like the right thing to do because if I took just the one, it would never make it back to the holder. They have to stay together, always! Well, most of the time, anyway.

The truck has a BBC engine – that’s Big Block Chevy. It started out as a 454 but wound up a 462 after the engine was rebuilt but a guy that builds race car engines. Plenty beefy to pull pretty much anything, which was our intention. To start it requires a great deal of pumping the accelerator, like 30-40 times, before attempting to engage the starter then keep pumping as you do that. You keep pumping, but let the starter rest a bit, then to it again. Usually it starts on the third try. Once it’s warmed up, however, it starts just fine without turning a full revolution. Amazing.

Once started, I pulled it into the driveway in order to load up more junk for the dump, bur still had to replace the license plate. Then it turned out to be a good thing that I brought all the wrenches because now I needed a 3/8 to get the nuts off the screws holding the license plates in place. They were so rusted, however, that didn’t work so I got my Dremel,  because I knew exactly where it was, and cut the nuts off the screws.

I put the new license plate in the back window of the truck, but one of these day’s I’ll bolt it in place. Just not now.

In the back of the truck were all the windows I removed from the 1968 Winnebago I salvaged, as well as all the residue from that evolution … like little bits of wood, some walls, and parts of the floor. It took me a while to extract all the glass from the window frames, and only one broke. So now I have 7 nice panes of glass for which I have absolutely no use. The thought of dropping them in the clear glass bin at the dump doesn’t set well with me so I’ll find a place to hide them in the basement. All of the wood bit were removed to the burn pile so all that’s left is about six pounds of real trash that will fit in the garbage can.

By the time all of that was done, it was time for me to shower up for the trip to Portland and our TVCC meeting. We had to go because the guest speaker was there at my request. It was the right thing to do. On the way we stopped at Red Robin to have dinner with five other TVCC members and Diane and I split a bacon cheeseburger. We split so I could have a chocolate malt. I LOVE those things! the meeting was good, the speaker spake very well, as I knew he would, and I was kinda offered a job writing database reports. Go figure. I’m going to have to think about that for a while because it would involve having to learn something new and I don’t know if my brain could handle that. The new stuff might overwrite something important that I’ll need, like forgetting what toilet paper is for. Something like that.

Today I fell victim to an old routine by taking an after breakfast nap that last three hours. As a result, I didn’t get started doing anything of consequence until 10am, or so. But, I did something important … wire brushed all the rust off, and painted primer on the laundry tub that I dismantled earlier in the week. The painting was simple, but the wire brushing part proved to be hazardous because I used a wire brush wheel attached to a plug in power drill. Those things spin faster, and last longer than a battery drill. And, when the wire brush gets tangled up in a T-shirt, painful things happen. Like, it could give you a terminal left nipple injury … well, not terminal, and not even bandaid worthy, but it hurts a lot … so I’m told. OK .. Yes, it was me … and it’s going to leave a mark. Now that I’ve admitted to that I may as well add that I nearly took out my right testicle, too. I still have a stomach ache from that one.

On that, I believe I’m done here, for now, except for this picture … it’s of Diane, her Mom Jean, and Jennie at Cedric’s graduation. Jeran took it and it’s evident that he’s centered on his Mom. But, I like it …

… and one of Alicia on her trampoline in Connecticut, from last week …

Cedric’s Graduation !!

It’s quiet in the house, again, since I finished putting away the clean dishes and reloading the dishwasher with dirty ones. We always leave the sink full of dirty dishes at night in case one of the animals needs a snack in the middle of the night. Sometimes, we get up to find the plates spic and span, ready to go back on the shelf. I suppose we could simplify it for them if we just scattered the dishes around on the floor, but that’s just too much bending over for me. Last night they, however, they didn’t do a very good job because Breezie decided to spend the night outside and didn’t do her part. Oh, well. The dishwasher will get what they didn’t.

Yesterday afternoon Cedric graduated from the 8th grade, and has been given permission to move on to High School in the fall. A couple of months ago he was pretty concerned about this big change in his life, but his voice finally changed so it’s no longer the fear it was. We’re really proud of him because he’s the first person in the family to make it all the way to High School … except for his Mom … and Dad. And Diane … there may be others, but I can’t think of who they might be right now. Anyway, we’re proud of him.

Since he expressed interest in joining the golf team once he starts, Diane, I and Diane’s Mom, Jean, gave Cedric a set of golf clubs that came from his Great Grandpa, Mel, Diane’s Dad. Being the empath that he is, it was a meaningful event for him, and he was briefly overwhelmed. Now we’re making plans to go golfing together which will be fun. Perhaps he’ll help me figure out what I’m doing wrong.

Cedric has been attending the Arthur Academy in Yankton for years. It’s a charter school who’s students are chosen to attend by lottery. The number of students in the lottery are diminished by the fact that not everyone wishes to drive their kids 10 miles out into the country for school. Their loss. The school has excellent teachers and a great curriculum. Cedric’s done very well. Right behind him are Lydia, and Jeran, who also attend Arthur and will be entering 8th, and 7th grades respectively.

Before the ceremony began, I gave Jeran my camera so he could take some pictures. He’s got an avid interest in photography which I want to encourage. Here’s one he took …

In case you are new to the family, or have just forgetten who they are, this is Diane, Diane’s Mom, Jean, and Cedric’s Mom, Jennifer. Jennifer is my First Wife’s daughter.

After graduation, which was held upstairs in the Yankton Grange building, we retired to the first floor to partake of a potluck of goodies provided by the parents of those graduating and, I’m sure, anyone else who might have had a notion of baking cookies or cake. There was a lot of stuff to eat. I had one cookie, a piece of Jennie’s cake, and a tiny little root beer float. Just enough to spike my blood surgar, but not good enough for supper since there wasn’t much protein in there. I looked.

We all came to our house to continue the graduation party which is where Cedric got his golf clubs. Lydia wanted to take some pictures so borrowed the camera and headed outside. It was still pretty light outside, but we still saw the flash going off once in a while as she made her way around the house. We are now the proud owner of pictures of pretty much every flower in and around the house. And the cat, Breezie, who followed her. Her’s are the flowers, the rest are mine. The kid pics are Jeran, Lydia, and Cedric.

Next time I would add so many pictures. Gets boring looking at flowers, don’t you think?

It’s 8:45 and Diane is still sleeping or I would be off to the basement to reassemble and paint the vintage 1957 laundry tray I dismantled yesterday. I was working on that when Diane redirected my efforts to help her spruce up the basement which evolved into a discussion with DirecTV about why that receiver didn’t work. They couldn’t fix it over the phone so scheduled a service call for Saturday. Then we moved the TV container across the room, reconnected it, and it worked fine. So, I cancelled the service call. Now it looks like an entertainment room when you sit on the couch. Today we’ve vowed to throw things away that have been accumulating down there for the past 35 years. That’s mostly hollow bugs left by spiders because we’ve only lived here for 5 years.

There was good news from the East Coast Cate Family (ECCF) – Ruth got her lawn mowed! I applaud her for tackling it because it’s not a task to take lightly. She has a rider to use, but the last time she rode it she got a speeding ticket from one of her neighbors, who is a detective, so sticks to the walk behind John Deere. I suspect she has a John Deere mower because Lauralaura made her get one. Lauralaura, mother of Jeffrey David and Arianna, is a John Deere enthusiast. I was going to say “fanatic” but thought that might be a little harsh. I do, however, think she would agree.

As for Ruth’s other grandchildren … Heather and Justin are off on their honeymoon in The Dominican Republic, Nurse Sarah is back at Hartford Hospital running point in the emergency room to keep the doctors on task, Susan is busy shipping ‘things’ all over the country (AR Express, Inc. … use them), Alicia is wishing she lived on the west coast because she has school til July (I think), and all their parents are doing what parents do … making everything better for their kidlets. God Bless Them All.

Yesterday and The Day Before

I returned to Oregon Monday evening and was greeted at the exit gate by my first wife who  took me home after a brief stop at Arby’s for a sandwich. It’s funny how a person’s mind works to adapt to current conditions so I was still on Connecticut Time, expecting Connecticut Trees, and Connecticut license plates, but everything was Oregon, Oregon, Oregon, just as it should be. So, as I nibbled my food, gazing at my lovely bride, I flipped that switch in my head and returned home mentally, as well as physically. Though it was sad to leave Ruth, and all my Girls and Guys “over there”, it was time to move forward. The mission was accomplished and I think we are all better for it. My one regret is that everyone else from the Left Coast couldn’t go, also. But, life gets in the way sometimes giving us other areas of concern that require our attention. I understand.

By 9:30 pm Monday evening I determined that it was well past my bedtime, even though there was still a bit of daylight remaining. I’ve always found it difficult to justify going to bed when it isn’t dark. Makes me feel like I’m cheating, or something. But, I was tired. Diane blessed me with a kiss and sent me on my way where I slumbered all the way to 5:13 am Tuesday morning. I was still on Connecticut Time. It was quickly apparent that the switch I flipped didn’t include that aspect of updating my brain.

So, I got up, fed the animals, did my pitiful little exercises, took my meds, and even ate breakfast. All without making enough noise to wake Diane. It was a successful endeavor, up to this point, which was good because it sometimes isn’t. I drop things a lot. Like just now … I went to get up and get my 2nd cup of coffee and knocked my iPad keyboard on the floor. Very noisy. But, I do not hear any stirrings from the East Wing, so all is well. She sleeps on.

Back to yesterday … after Diane got up I shucked my jammies in favor of some work clothes and went about the never ending task of moving things around in my shop in an effort to seek order. But, it’s a hopeless venture. The only way to make it “right” is to just stuff everything in a bunch of Avon boxes, donate it, and start over with new shiny tools. Easy to say, impossible to do because lots of my tools, and assorted screws and nails have been in the family for far too long to just casually toss them aside. I still find the need to dig around in my shoe box full of really sharp screws, nuts, and bolts, looking for the one I need for one project or another, and I know, way in the back of my head somewhere, that doing this takes far more time and effort than a trip to ACE to get the exact “thing” I need.

I digress … what’s new there?

After re-disovering the futility of cleaning up my shop I had this image of Lyle’s shop. It’s not large, but he managed to maintain it in a manner which I found commendable by keeping it messy. Actually, messy is just a visual clue that it was well used. And, I would (almost) bet that he knew where everything was out there. Now that he’s gone, so is that knowledge and really important “stuff” will languish on that work bench until there is an overpowering need to recover the space. I think it should be a family affair where everything is removed and divided up for transport, leaving only a hammer, a pair of pliers, sixteen screws, seven nails, and nine screwdrivers of various size and configuration. That’s all Ruth needs. Maybe a crescent wrench for when she feels daring. That’s all.

I continued fiddling around until Diane gave me a rudder and refocused my attention on the laundry room. As some of you may recall, I removed the laundry tub some time ago and rearranged the washer and dryer, placing them next to each other which I couldn’t do previously because the laundry tub was between them. A consequence of removing the tub was the open drain with no trap. With no trap, sewer gas was allowed into the laundry room which caused one of us a great deal of concern because the other one was oblivious as he wasn’t here. This required a temporary fix until the tub can be replaced and it was accomplished with a small piece of aluminum foil wrapped over the end of the offending pipe.

Then I took the laundry tub into the back yard and partially dismantled it so I could power wash it, preparing it for a new paint job. Power washing required me to move that unit from the garage to the back yard. When I checked the oil, it was pretty gnarly looking so I decided to change it. After searching the mechanism for an hour or so, I couldn’t find any obvious method of draining the old oil so I went to my work bench in search of the owner’s manual. It wasn’t there, so I went to my computer to look online, but couldn’t find it there, either. So, I just tipped the entire unit upside down over an old coffee can until it quit dripping. Before doing that, I actually made sure the gas tank was empty so I wouldn’t drip gas all over. Finally, it was done, and the washer started right up, just in time for lunch. We had BLTs.

After lunch, and a short nap, I returned to my task and power washed the tub. It still needs the attention of a wire brush, but we have some nifty paint that totally encapsulates rust, making it paintable. But, I want it smooth and pretty before I reinstall it. This may require the purchase of a new laundry tub.

Once the laundry tub was sufficiently scrubbed, I decided to mow the front yard because the grass, though it rained in the morning, was dry. To get the lawn mower out I had to fire up the downstairs air compressor so I could inflate one of the tires on the trailer, which was in the way, and add more air to the mower’s front tires so it would steer easily.

I forgot … somewhere in there I took the furnace filters out and used the upstairs air compressor to blow them out. I do that occasionally, when Diane tells me to. I think I did this before power washing the tub because I have a vague memory of being dry when I did it.

I love my lawn mower. It always starts right up even though I abuse it … maybe not like Larry and Todd would, but it’s well used. My mower and I buzzed around the house to the front yard and had it done, lickty split. I only took the top couple of inches off, so the bagger held pretty much all of the clippings. So, I continued around to the side yard and did that. Things were going to well, I just kept going around to the back yards and finished it all. On the my mower it takes me about 2 hours to do all of this. If I just let the mower fling the clippings all over the place it wouldn’t take as long, but I suck it all up into the bagger and dump it down by the burn pile. I’ve been doing that for years and I’m always amazed at how the grass just seems to sink into the ground. I never turn it, I just keep adding to it, and it never gets taller than about 3 feet. I suspect there’s some pretty mushy ground under that pile, but I’m not inclined to look because I sometimes forget and step into the pile while emptying the bags, and it’s like thick, liquid grass. Nasty smelling, and will no doubt devour a shoe if given the chance.

By the time I was done the clock said I only had about an hour before Lydia’s game at Campbell Park. So, I took a shower to wash off all the grass.

When we got to the park, the girls were working on the infield, to get rid of the standing water. It looked like the games (it was a double header against Clatskanie) were going to be a lot of fun for the girls, especially if they had to slide, And they were, and they did.

Though it’s June, the weather is pretty iffy. The day wasn’t too bad, but the evening was very cold. Everyone was wrapped in blankies, except me. I had a manly blanket that I shared with Cedric. Thankfully, Jeran was also there and was happpy to take my camera and snap a few shots of the girls playing, leaving me to huddle under the blanket. Lydia made it worse for pretty  much everyone watching because she chose to play without long sleeves, unlike everyone else on both teams. Made me shivver just to see her out there. She did well both pitching and fielding. I think the temp was around 9 degrees, or so.

At one point I was on the phone with Jack when Diane got my attention to stop and watch because Lydia was at bat, bases loaded. She fouled off a couple of pitches then was called out on a pitch that was easily a foot outside. I grumbled, loudly, but the ump didn’t turn on me. Instead of grumbling, Diane got out of her chair, more than once, and took a walk behind the bleachers. Lyd’s team won both games, 11-0 and 12-4, so the bad calls were inconsequential. Still … why teach the girls one thing, then call the game using different rules?

Between the games Lydia came out to visit and wanted to look at some of the pictures Jeran had been taking, so gave her the camera. She buzzed through them and came across a special photo I have of some of my favorite girls giving me the universal gesture normally reserved for bad drivers who tick you off. She said, “Grandpa, what’s this….?” So, I told her the significance, naming everyone in the picture, explaining that they were all Cousins she’s never met, and they were just sending along a special Connecticut “Howdy” to the West Coast. She knew who the Aunt in the middle is, and I’m sure she understood the gesture. She’s 13.

During the 2nd game Jennie showed up while she was on her break from work. She works at Safeway doing pretty much anything that requires to be done in the store. Apparently she had a date with some boxes later because she had a nifty little knife strapped to her waist. She went to get some nachos, her dinner, and left most of them because time ran out on her. She did get to see Lydia bat, however. It was the only base hit she got and it resulted in at least one RBI. Maybe more. I blinked a couple times right about then.

The games were over around 8:30 and we were both tired when we got home so wound things up for the day. I was in bed before 10pm which is a modern day record for me, except in Connecticut it was almost 1am. I’m still not totally connected to Oregon clocks, yet.

Gotta quit now because I’m hungry and my fingers are running out of ink.