How To Disable A Rhododendron

Today was interesting for a variety of reasons. The one that got my attention most was when Diane determined that it’s been some time since I inflicted injury to a body part, and longer yet since I had an opportunity to bleed significantly. With this new-found knowledge she thought it would be an excellent idea for us to go trim her Mom’s rhododendrons.  She said, “Jerrie, were going to go trim Mom’s rhodies before she hires someone else to do it. Get your chain saw and c’mon.” I also got a variety of clippers, one of which was a bit rusty, but it worked.

She felt pretty confident about my improving abilities when she snuck back into the house and caught me replacing a wall socket without turning off the power. I’ve done that a hundreds times, on ships at sea, and in our houses and I’ve hardly ever disrupted power by channeling it through significant parts of my body, which causes VCRs, Radios, CD players, to announce their temporary loss of power by blinking 12:00 … 12:00 … 12:00  over and over until someone can find a smart allecky 12-year-old who know how resolve the issue.

I’m stoppling right here becasue I’ve aleady taken my zolpedim and my ares coordinated well enough to carry on a lotgical ongeragtionl see what I meen?

Sorry about the way I terminated that last night. I lost control of my little fingers … the ones that work anyway. It’s now 0610 and I’ve had the 6 hours of sleep allowed by the dogs. They’ve been fed, I’ve had my meds, and I’ve had my 1st of many glasses of water, my morning banana, and my yogurt. I distinguish my morning banana because I sometimes have an evening banana, too. Last night I had grapes, instead.

We were talking about trimming things with dangerous equipment, I believe. At Diane’s Mom’s  house.

Around Jean’s house are about 15 rhododendrons, four of which are close to the house, one by the corner of the street, and the remainder out back by Milton Creek which runs through the town on its journey to the Columbia River. They’ve been growing for 35 years, the last 15 of which they’ve lived under the threat of pending doom because they were blocking windows, and paths, with absolutely no concern for humans.

Having heard about the pending pruning event, they banded together in a pack of self-preservation by directing all their growth upward instead of outward, interlocking their branches until even a small monkey couldn’t navigate them safely.

This is what I faced, as I strung a very long extension cord across a damp yard and, flirting with electrocution, plugged in my chain saw. It worked, and everyone appeared to still have lights so I positioned it near the one furthest from the house.

Diane and I actually began the dismantling process with small, handheld, mechanical pruner, lopper things, much like those used in movies to remove fingers that are sent back to loved ones, or to facilitate the removal of an especially coveted ring. This worked well for a while, allowing us to get to the innards where the brown branches live and thrive. The outside branches are green and tender and easy to remove whereas the brown ones are more like tree limbs to which the green ones cling.

These inner branches are so thick and intertwined that most work must be done by feel as you clear the way to make room for your head so you can see what you are doing. Just as I was making a breakthrough, it happened. I had a group of finger sized branches gathered in my left hand, and started snipping away, willy nilly, confidence building, until I heard this horrible scream! Startled, I glanced around to see what was going on, and then the pain hit.

It was absolutely horrible! The sneaky rhodie had lulled me into a dream state, causing me to push all my training aside, creating a false sense of security which ultimately resulted in my finger nippers actually nipping a left-handed finger.

As soon as I realized that the scream was mine my training came back with such a rush that I was momentarily disoriented. I fell to my knees, then over onto my right side, curled into a little ball of pain. I didn’t know it at the time, drenched in pain as I was, but the area I cut, on my left middle finger, is where all the nerve endings in my entire body resided. It was excruciating. I know this is true because I am not a stranger to pain. I’ve had a lot of it over the years for various reasons, and this one was the absolute worst. Far worse than childbirth, I don’t care what anyone says.

I heard someone calling my name from far away but it wasn’t getting through the wall of pain very well. Eventually the voice got louder and I realized it was Diane. She was telling me to remove my glove so she could check the injury. This caused me to jump to my feet because I knew if I removed my glove this close to the ground I’d bleed out quickly. I then realized my right hand was tightly squeezing my left middle finger, cutting off all circulation, a trick I had learned during two previous incidents with left-handed fingers … squeeze it, and keep it above your heart. Good advice.

Finally heeding Diane’s demands, I released the pressure and waited for blood to start spurting through the new hole in my glove, but nothing happened except the pain increased. This caused me to grab the damaged digit again and prance around the front yard making the inhaled “sssssssss” sound which everyone knows means it really hurts a lot.

Diane caught me on my third pass and said, “Jerrie, you’re embarrassing us. Stop and take the glove off so we can see if you need stitches,” which I’ve been known to need.

So, I did. I took my glove off then spread the wound so she could see how bad it was. With a deriding remark of some kind at the state of my nearly bleeding finger, she marched off toward the house commanding me to follow. Being in no condition to object, I acquiesced, and followed her like a sad little puppy.

In the bathroom the wound began dripping which she searched for the band aids, which she deemed was the only item required to staunch the now free-flowing blood. OK, it was only trickling a bit and she admonished me, telling me to not get blood all over the sink. So I didn’t. To punish me for cutting my finger she put iodine on the wound before attaching the band aid. Oddly, it didn’t hurt at all, or it just didn’t hurt more than the pain that was already employed.

Once the band aid was secure we went back outside to complete our assigned tasks. Now, however, it was personal so I just fired up my electic chainsaw and went to work taking that rhodie down to size, about three feet tall instead of eight.

As I dismantled the first bush, I could feel the others peering around the house at me, talking about what they would do to me if I so much as touch them. But I wasn’t worried because I know bushes don’t have opposing thumbs, something they apparently failed to consider.

The resulting pile of now harmless branches was further dismantled by the three of us so it would fit into Jean’s brown yard debris container which Hudson Garbage picks up every other week. We also filled four rather hefty garbage bags.

We did the same thing to one more rhodie, by the corner of the house, before calling it a day, but the day wasn’t really done. It was six thirty post-mortem for the rhodie, but many fragments of it was stuffed into the back section of Diane’s Buick, destined for our burn pile. I forgot to mention that. Sorry.

After all that, I find it ironic that I was injured by a finger lopper, not the chainsaw. So did Diane and Jean. I believe they were betting each other how far I’d get with the project before having to make the dreaded Emergency Room Trip (ERT). Well, I fooled them, didn’t I?

Finished, we bid our adieus and motored away. I suggested to Diane that she could just park the vehicle in the garage as I could remove the offending rhodie from the rear with no problem.

From the back yard I retrieved my trusty lawn mower from its home on the lower patio, near the hot tub, removed the bagging unit, attached my trailer, and turned it into a lawn tractor.

Getting the rhodie debris out of the vehicle was uneventful, but it took two trips to get it to the lower 40 burn pile. It’s not really a lower 40. It’s more like a lower 1/2. I just call it 40 for fun. Anyway, once the transport was done, the pile was pitifully small. I was disappointed. I needed to do more.

So, I drove the mower to the middle of the yard, engaged the blades, and started making one crop circle by going around in circles until I’d completed the entire area, pulling the trailer the entire time. I went as fast as I could because the threat of rain was ever-present and I didn’t want to get wet.

When I finished I put the mower away and entered Diane’s house via the lower patio. Not far inside that door is her laundry room and, since I was coated with the smell of new-mown grass, I dropped all of my clothes there, as I’ve been instructed to do, over, and over after previous mowing adventures. Doing this poses a bit of a problem if someone has come to visit during the mowing evolution, and might still be upstairs when I transit the area to my shower, but that doesn’t happen often. Most of the time Diane will warn me but once in a while she doesn’t, just for fun. The object, of course, is for me to make the trip to my shower quick enough that I leave as little grass clipping smell in the house as possible since Diane is terribly allergic it.

Once I was a scrubbed up, it was 9 pm or so, and my day was truly done. I could relax. I could lounge on my half of the couch, eating a bowl of grapes which Diane refused to peel.

Then I took my nightie time meds, and you know the rest of the story.

Now it’s Thursday, and my day is already almost half gone because Diane didn’t wake me up from my morning nap until after 9 am. It’s really OK because I deserved the rest since I worked on Diane’s computer until almost midnight trying to figure out how Windows 8 works. It’s very different. Then, Ozzie got me up at 0530 for his pouch food fix.

Diane is off to visit with the Bethany Quilt Ladies (BQL) with her Mom. That leaves me here, all alone, with a need to conjure up a project that will be meaningful, necessary, and one Diane will like. This concerns me because I tend to pick the wrong projects when left to my own devices.

Oh well. I’ll just have another cup of coffee and think about it for a while. If nothing “pops”, I’ll just take another nap with my iPad.

Hope everyone has a great day.

Oh, ya … Diane took a couple of pictures but they are on her phone and I don’t have them yet so I’ll update this when I have access.

Update – Here’s the last branch of the first rhodie to bite the dust. Neither Diane nor her Mom would let me leave it.


Here’s the remains of the dismantled rhodie from the right side of the house. Diane and her Mom are whittling it down to size to fit the bags. Whatever was left over, because they couldn’t cut it, went in the Buick.


You can almost see my crop circle out there.


These are four of the many rhodies in our yard that are going to yield to my efforts. They probably looked really nice when they were a couple feet tall. Now they are just too crowded. I have no idea what the bush is on the right side, but the birds love it because the cat can’t climb it.


The Headboard, More Magnets, and Birthdays

The headboard is finished! Diane deemed the bedroom to be complete! That doesn’t mean there is rest in my near future, but that we are now eligible to move on to the next room, Diane’s bathroom. Since that room had the most work done, prior to the bedroom, I think its unfair to all the other rooms that have been waiting years for a facelift. But, they’re going to have to wait a bit. Mostly, the bathroom just needs new paint. And baseboards. Using the last projects as a measuring stick, I should be done with that job in about 5 months, or so.

Back to the headboard. This is what it looks like.


Not very fancy, considering all the work I put into it, but converting twin headboards into a king headboard was a challenge for me. For others, probably not much of a challenge. Oddly, less of a challenge was rigging a way to connect the two twin frames to the headboard in such a way that allows Diane to swing the beds out from the bottom so each bed can be made independently. Pretty tricky, I thought. I amazed myself that I figured it all out by myself. Part of the figuring required me to resurrect my knowledge of the Pythagorean theory. Interestingly enough, I remembered it and all my computations were good. I won’t go into detail for my reasoning because when Diane returned home, from the store, she told me it all looked good and to leave it as is. So, I threw away all my fine diagrams and measurements and called it a day.

I meant to share with you about the magnets that came to visit me last Saturday. Jennie showed up with Lydia, Brianna, and Alyssa in tow for a visit in the afternoon. Brianna rushed to me with her hands full of magnets and presented them to me stating that she read my last blog about magnets, and knew how much I liked them. So, she gathered up all of her younger brother’s, Colin’s, magnets and brought them to me. How nice. We didn’t discuss how Colin felt about it but the presumption was he didn’t know. I must admit that it was a stunning array of magnets, but I just didn’t feel right about keeping them. So, when they left, I gave them back to Bree. The hardest to part with was the glob of buckyballs. I’ve never seen any previously and they are just fun to play with.

The next day at church I asked Colin what he thought about Brianna giving away all of her magnets. He admitted he was unaware, but also stated that he thought most of them were hers anyway. Funny. So, no harm done, and I got to play with buckyballs.

Now I’m going back to last Wednesday, May 22nd. That’s Jeff’s birthday. Our son. He’s 41 now. Diane don’t know how he got so old. My birthday was Monday, the 20th. I’m not old at all.

Anyway, stepping up to the frugal side of life, Diane reserved the back room at Zhen’s Chinese Restaurant, formerly Lucky Inn, in St. Helens, so she could throw a party for both Jeff and me.

Regarding for former Lucky Inn – it’s our understanding that the cook bought the place. He renovated it, and the food got better. We liked it before, now we love it. One entrée is enough to feed a normal person for three meals. Most Chinese restaurants are that way, but Zhen’s is better. Really.

Here’s who was at the party, in numerical order: Jean, Jack, Wynette, Me, Diane, Jeff, Heather, Daniel,  Jennifer, Logan, Cedric, Lydia, Brianna, Jeran, Gilligan, Baylee, and little Jerrie. I don’t think I missed anyone.

Like normal, at most Chinese restaurants, we got tea. But, we didn’t get spoons. Measuring sugar for the tea was a challenge for most of us, but not Jack, who overcome this deficiency by adding a fork full of sugar to his tea. As you can see, it’s not always neat, but it works. Some of the sugar escaped.


I, however, also got involved by devising a way to stir my tea without a spoon. I tried it with the other end of the fork, first, but it didn’t accomplish much. This works better.


That’s Heather, by the way. It’s hard to get a picture of her because she always hides.

Below are the oldest 3 people at the party. I was also at the table sitting in the very spot from which this photo was taken. Odd.


You know those little bowls of egg flower soup you get before the meal. Little did I know that you could actually make a meal of the soup. Apparently Lydia did, as did Jack & Wynette. That’s a lot of egg flower soup.


To my right I saw these people – Heather, Jerrie, Jeff, Diane, Gilligan, Cedric, Lydia, and Brianna. I don’t have a picture of the other folks. Jennie took one of everyone, but I can’t find it.


Now, Diane is off to her WELCA meeting, leaving me all alone again. Think I’ll go play with some electricity and see what happens.


Memorial Day

This morning I had my iPad alarm set for 0615, but woke up at 0515 when my internal alarm went off. I actually got up to ensure I didn’t fall asleep and miss my obligation.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was hoping to get some young people to help me out with placing flags around town and was very surprised when four of them signed up – Lydia and her friend Alyssa, and Cedric and his friend Stephen. Two 14-year-olds, and two 15-year-olds. All four were extremely responsible and helpful so we were done in short order.

Then, as promised, we went to Sunshine Pizza for breakfast which cost me $28. Not bad, really, for 5 heavy eaters. Well, 4 heavy eaters, and me.

The rest of this day was devoted to absolutely nothing except watching movies, eating, and lying around in our jammies. We do, however, always honor our veterans who scarificed everything so we could do this.

Because of our history, we both have strong personal connections to all veterans. We reconnect to those feelings each time we find an opportunity to visit a military base. Diane especially likes the ones where she can hear the sound of fighter jets flying around, or where she can get really close to a Navy ship. I admit, it’s impressive and reassuring.

Although it’s only 1240 I deem this day to be done. Lunch is cooking, a really bad movie is on, and I’m stuck to the recliner until supper, then bed. There will be one short break this evening in order to move garbage and recycle containers to the street for tomorrow’s pickup.


Memorial Day Weekend 201

This morning I turned the tails on the dogs by getting up at 0500. They weren’t ready for their day, but I made them get up anyway, and go outside, in the cold and wet … it’s 45 degrees. Really chilly on bare feet, which all dogs have.

After I finish my Tillamook Marionberry Yogurt I plan to hunker down and continue reading Dan Brown’s “Inferno” which I broke down and purchased for my iPad. Knowing that I will be overcome with weariness from all this morning exertion, I plan to test my inner alarm clock to see if it will wake me in time to be at Bethany Memorial Cemetery by 1000 so I can help place flags for veterans, as we did yesterday. I suspect Diane will be up by that time, however, which will defeat my inner clock and spoil the experiment. We shall see.


Thursday was a little fuzzy for me, but I do remember that we went to Costco about noonish, and didn’t get home until well after the time the dogs expected us. They always do that, though, making us feel guilty for leaving them alone. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. It’s like they thought we may never return. I suppose that probably isn’t a bad way to be because, truly, we really don’t know if we’ll return. Anything can happen on Highway 30.

Before we left for Costco I barely had enough time to work on the headboard, which is becoming a vocation, after getting up from my morning nap. Still, I got it stripped of the acrylic finish I so laboriously applied, multiple times, hoping it would get darker. But, it didn’t so I removed it and started prepping the wood for stain. Red mahagony is the choice.

We went to bed at a reasonable time and I thought, like I always do, that I got a good rest. The dogs went out at 0610 and returned at 0613, primed fore their morning pouch and canned food. I swear, they live only for that moment. That, and the evening trip out when they get their treats for being such good puppies. They know they get extra treats if they bring the cat back in with them, so I’m sure they make sure she’s on the back porch before alerting me they are back.

After they we properly fed, and the cat went out, the recliner beckoned me. I was allowed to lanquish there until about 0800 when the cat decided it was time to return. She lets us know she’s on the wrong side of the door by frantically scratching on the patio door glass with both hands. It’s an awful sound, similar to fingernails on a blackboard, so she gets prompt attention.

Then I went back to the recliner until Diane got up at about 0947. When I heard her stirring, I got up and made the coffee. I only got in trouble twice before going to the garage to work on the headboard some more.

Now it’s 1530, almost, the headboard has been stained twice, I have confirmation it’s closer to the correct color, and I need to get ready to join my American Legion friends to place flags on the graves of veterans at the Yankton Cemetery. Seems like we just did that a couple of weeks ago for last Memorial Day.

It was a ho-hum day with the exception of lunch. Diane made taco soup using the leftover taco meat. Like normal, she found a recipe then ad-libbed for the ingredients she didn’t have. She ad-libs extremely well, and it’s always good.

Now I have 10 minutes to get to Yankton.

If you are travelling this weekend, stay safe. If you have a choice about travelling, stay home.

Life In The Ozone

Greetings Earth people. I come in peace to render a report from your faithful minion, Jerrie Somethingorother, whom we borrowed for a short period of time to conduct experiments crucial to our need to dominate all species on earth of the classification Chromista and below. The purpose of our experiments is to develop a new life form, though no one on the team seems to know why, so I cannot divulge that information. Most of us surmise that our leader, Krrooggllee, had a brain fart that infiltrated his need for attention and dreamt this up as a way of appeasing that particular fart. It happens.

At the exact moment this fart occurred, teams of investigators were roaming about in a small town near a river and not far from the ocean, our very favorite place, and were instructed to execute a short-term lease on the first semi-erect being they encountered. Negotiating short-term leases must commence immediately upon receipt by all teams and the winning team gets to plant a patch of ding dong bushes and spend 3.25 days at the beach.

So, it’s a race, if you will.

Fortunately, Roodee, on Team 19, for lack of a better description which you just wouldn’t understand at all, swiveled his eyes to the right at that exact moment and spied Jerrie, who was on his knees making rapid back and forth motions with a small tool for which we have no name. He appeared to be removing the skin from a prone, inanimate life form which we later discovered was a headboard, something about which we knew nothing at the time. Having since been provided a meaning for such a device we still do not understand the need for such a life form. Whatever. Earth people amuse us.

Anyway, Roodee spied Jerrie out of the passenger window of the team’s bright gray 1995 Toyota celica undercover vehicle, which is used by all teams, and initially discarded him as a choice since he wasn’t erect at the time, kneeling as he was, but, before Roodee looked away Jerrie stood, more than fulfilling our need for a semi-erect being. Therefore, he was lassoed with one of our snagger things and delivered to our research ship post haste.

Once aboard, and connected to all our electromechanical gizmos, we learned about the headboard and that he was situated on his knees in the garage, removing the plastic coating he had previously applied because it “wasn’t dark enough”, according to his spousal unit.  All we could get from him regarding the tool was that it’s a ‘painter’s tools’ which makes no sense because he was obviously ‘scraping’ the headboard. It did, however, seem to be working nicely causing us to rethink our current compulsion to have a specific tool for every specific task. Needless to say, wanting to be ready for anything, our tool bags are enormous and must be placed in a trailer behind the celica. We can fix anything with the tools in our trailers.

We learned that another reason he was in the garage, in the cold, is because the headboard is too heavy for him to move to the basement by himself. We offered to help but he just stood there and peed down his leg, intimidated, no doubt, by our clever disguises which make us look like dogs, man’s best friends. We hadn’t, at that time, arrived at the conclusion that dogs don’t drive and have since altered our appearances to mimic that of little old men and women which are far less intimidating than very large dogs. As an aside, Roodee was garbed as a frolicky Terrier, Hooser was a non-shedding Poodle, Garment was a Retriever of some sort, and our driver, Zimlot, was a mixed breed of all three which we liked but he apparently created a very frightful appearance to Jerrie.

We interrogated Jerrie for 17 hours, gathering all sorts of useful information, then sent him back in time to his garage with no memory of what had happened, but with all manner of monitoring devices on him allowing us to see, hear, feel, and taste everything as if we were there.

He was returned to the garage about noonish, a new word we learned, so he quit his task and went into the house to make a snazzy nacho lunch. We really liked it and plan to add this tasty treat to our synthesizer memory for future delightful snacks, as soon as we can figure out what’s in it.

After lunch he urged two dogs to exit the domicile, and into the yard in order to fertilize specific areas of the yard. When they returned, he departed his domicile.

His first stop was at a large metal box, a shipping container, near the St. Helens High School that is used by local citizens to rid themselves of their discarded newspapers, and for students to dump their garbage. The purpose of the stop was to straighten up the donations and remove the garbage. There is similar box located in the Wal*Mart parking lot that does not get as much garbage.

Then he proceeded to a location between St. Helens and Scappoose to visit The Twins, whose names we learned are Eva and Evelyn. Eva desired assistance with her computer and printer which Jerrie, for reasons that are not apparent to us, knows how to do. Jerrie’s emotions revealed that he always enjoys visiting The Twins, old high school classmates, and he’s glad he can help with their electronical needs. Now he has to return and retrieve his favorite Navy baseball hat.

He returned to his abode where he languished for an hour before he had to return to Warren where he was to preside over a meeting of church elders. They call it a council. We understand the concept of having a council that oversees “things” but we are mystified why it is that Jerrie was chosen to preside. After giving it much thought, our conclusion is that no one else wanted to do it and he’s used to abuse, so he volunteered.

During the meeting Jerrie’s spousal unit texted him, on a nifty device he carries around in his pocket, to report she wouldn’t be arriving home until after 10 pm because they had so many ballots to process. Not knowing what ballots were, at the time, we thought it had something to do with procreation, and just skipped over to something more interesting.

Jerrie arrived home at approximately 9 pm thinking he only had one hour to spend alone in the dark. Apparently there is a rule that Jerrie isn’t allowed to do anything when home alone except attempt to organize words in a meaningful manner on his computer. He did that for a short time then began assembling a puzzle on his computer which we found to be absolutely fascinating! We do not understand the concept of puzzles yet, but we will soon because we’re positive he will do it again.

The spousal unit didn’t return until after 11pm. She was tired and anxious to learn who won Dancing With The Stars before she went to bed. Jerrie, not knowing she was checking those results on her computer was startled when she let out a yell to honor America’s decision to bless Kellie and Derek with the mirror ball. Having monitored earth for many years we know about Dancing With The Stars and each have our own secret favorite. Since we are not allowed to cheer about anything, we silently urge our favorites to win. Mine, incidentally, was also Kellie and Derek. After Jerrie recovered from the sharp exhalation of air from the spousal unit’s breathing apparatus, I discovered that he, too, was a Kellie and Derek fan. Knowing that made me want to be nicer to him so I let him go to bed.