Ozzie & Zen Pruning

It’s almost 0600 and I’m sitting alone here in the semi-dark. Well, not really alone … Ozzie is sitting by my left foot on the recliner foot rest in his normal spot. It’s comforting to have someone as loud as he is because I know he’ll alert me when a stranger tries to get in the house and do us harm. He gives me enough warning that I can ‘get my Ninja on’ thereby thwarting any attack. Although he’s given us many warnings over the years, virtually all of them were false alarms. He had his big chance last summer when we had coyotes in the lower field, but all he did was stare at them staring back at him. I suspect that was a good move on his part and if I were cute and fuzzy like he is I’d done the same thing. No need to prod that dragon.

Most of his false alarm barking is at the black cat that frequents the field below us. We know the cat is looking for field mice, being in a field and all, but Ozzie doesn’t care. He just barks away like it’s the end of the world if we don’t let him out there to take care of matters. So, we do, and he runs down to our fence and stands there barking so hard his stiff little front legs bounce off the ground. The cat ignores him, so he barks harder.

Thankfully, after a relatively short time, he gets a whiff of something strange and trots off to see where it is so he can pee on it. Then he pees on it again from the other side for good measure and trots triumphantly back to the house. He’s a funny little guy.

I probably shouldn’t be doing this right now because it’s so early and I haven’t had my meds, yet. I have my water, but failed, once again, to bring my pill bucket to my morning lounging area. With Ozzie peacefully ensconced by my feet, I hesitate to lower the foot rest. Actually, I’m torn between lowering the foot rest slowly, allowing him to gently wake up, or just drop it out from under him and study his reaction to free-falling. I wouldn’t do the latter. Ever. Again.

However, I feel a nap coming on and need to ingest my legally obtained meds so I can recline with a clear mind. And, either my stomach is growling, or Ozzie is snoring so I have to arise and find out which one it is. Can’t nap until I know.

It is much later, now — 8:30 pm – so I have no idea what happened after that last paragraph. I actually don’t remember writing all of that this morning so was surprised to discover it when I opened up the blog. Hmmm. As for what happened, I’ll just have to go with “got up and got my pills, then had my nap.”

The rest of the day was a blur of activity accompanied with a prodigious amount of sweating on my part.  Remember that rhododendron hedge I trimmed yesterday? This one?


Well, today I just whacked it all down.


You may think that was a rash move on my part, but I had permission to do it! How about that? Diane thought it would be a good idea, too, for me to apply some of my world-class zen pruning skills. So, when she left for her eye appointment, just after lunch, I broke out my trusty plug-in electric chain saw and went to work. I did all this and didn’t sustain any major injuries which may surprise most of you. Just a few scrapes and pokes, but nothing that actually bled. I, myself, found this interesting because it seems to be my destiny to bleed, at least a little, at some point in an evolution of this magnitude. But I didn’t. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved.

I’ll go with relieved, for now.

The entire time I was working on dismantling the four rhoddies, I rehearsed in my mind what I’d be writing here. That’s unusual for me because I normally just turn it loose without thinking ahead of time. However, my overriding thought throughout the mayhem was that Diane would get home and be horribly disappointed that I could do such a thing. Before she left I again asked if she was OK with this and she said, “Yes.” I asked if she would commit that to writing, and she said, “No.” Not even a text, giving me permission? “No.”

So, as you can see, I was treading in dangerous territory, relying on my well documented faulty memory, to move forward with this project. But I did it.

When Diane returned, she said, “Good job. Why is the ladder still up against the gutter?” She’s been giving me a hard time about the ladder for a few weeks now. Maybe not that long, but a while for sure. I put it up there to address a dripping gutter while it was nice and dry. I was going to leave it up until I was sure it wouldn’t leak. That, and to replace the wood I ripped off in the process. But, I removed the ladder and called it good. I wonder how long it will be before she asks when I’m going to fix the hole I made.

Another thing I did today was run the lawn mower around the front, side, and back yards, to even up the dandelions. The grass is mostly brown, and not growing, but the dandelions just won’t quit. So, I took care of it. In the process, I sucked up all the residue of today’s evolution that couldn’t be picked up with a rake. The mower is excellent for jobs like that. It actually … well … my mower actually kind of sucks pretty good. My backup choice was taking the big shop vac and vacuum the lawn. That would have been tedious. I know. And I will never do that again, unless I can figure a way to put bigger wheels on the vac. The ones it comes with are just too small to roll smoothly on grass.

Over the past couple of days we had visits from Jennie with Lydia, and Jeran in tow. They spent last weekend camping at Big Eddy, and, knowing my prolific ability to injure myself, stopped by to show me theirs. Both of them hurt themselves running around the camp ground, in the dark, finally falling victim to some hard to see ropes holding down a neighbor’s tent. I would never do something like that. Mainly because it involves running. Here’s what they did to themselves.

DSC_6836 DSC_6828 DSC_6827

Pretty nifty, huh?

Now, supper is done, I’m clean, and it’s time to just relax while watching some guys beat the crap out of each other with MMA. But first, I’ll just give you a visual on my lunch. It’s a three poached eggs and four pieces of toast. I made two sandwiches. Nice.


Unsupervised With Yard Tools

I trimmed the hedge out front today. It’s an odd kind of hedge, made up of 8 rhododendrons. It was just getting out of hand, growing so tall no one could look in our bedroom windows. So, it had to go, at least in part.

I used the battery-powered hedge trimmer that I rediscovered a couple of days ago, and it worked just fine. I even used the battery-powered chain saw that came with it to whack off a couple of big branches that I decided were no longer necessary.

Now the truth – I rally did trim to top and sides, but my goal was to carve a path to the water spigot on the house, and the nearby down spout from the front gutter. We have a hose connected to the spigot year round because it’s just too inconvenient to disconnect with all the branches in the way. Now there’s no excuse to leave the hose out when it freezes, but I’ll do it, anyway. It seems to weather the storms just fine.

The downspout, however, was another matter. It was constructed of 2″ PVC piping which is OK, but not normal, and it had a major flaw in that the gutter was connected to the drain pipe via two 90 degree elbows which restricts water flow immensely at the far end, where there should be another down spout, but there isn’t. One 2″ down spout to drain one entire side of the house, with two 90’s doesn’t make for a very efficient water removal tool.

I’ve been looking at that downspout for a few years now, and today decided it was time to rectify the situation. The first part was, of course, removing all the pokey branches from the hedge so I could get to it. Consequently, the front yard is a mess, full of what Diane would readily call “all that crap you cut down.” I admit, it’s unsightly, and I will remove it, possibly before she gets home. She’s working at Community Meals today, a volunteer effort which she attends to monthly. It’s a program sponsored by most of the churches in St. Helens that provides free dinners to anyone willing to show up on any Tuesday or Thursday. It’s a good thing and I love her more for doing it. I help when she calls me, but I’m only allowed to scrape plates and vacuum the floor.

Anyway, after making a path through the hedge, I moved my ladder to the corner so I could remove the downspout. I’d already made the necessary trip to ACE for the parts I needed, and was rewarded with a chance to see Brother Jack. We had a nice talk. It’s always good to see him.

Back home, I used my non-electric hack saw to construct a replacement downspout using two 45 degree elbows instead of the offending 90’s. It just made more sense to me. I only glued part of it together so I can make changes without a saw after I see how it handles the next rain, whenever that will be.

It’s been a while since we’ve had any moisture here. The one we were supposed to get turned in to Tropical Storm Flossie which went to Hawaii instead. Don’t blame it. I’d go to Hawaii instead, too. It’s really nice over there. We lived there for the last three years of the 1980’s.

Gutter … I got the hose fired up and ran it in the gutter for a while to see what would happen. Like, would all the water run to the other end of the gutter, and just stay there, or would it actually drain? I suppose I could have used my level to see which direction it leaned, but that would have been too easy. Besides, I didn’t think about that until just now. So, it’s a moot point, because the water actually ran the correct direction and emptied the gutter quite nicely. I’m a proud little downspout builder, by golly.

Now I must drive my lawnmower to the front yard, pulling my little trailer, and fill it “with all that crap” I cut down. It’s going to take a little while but I still have a couple of hours before Diane gets home. If it looks like I won’t make it, I’ll get my shop vac out there and put it on ‘blow’ instead of ‘suck’ and shove all the small debris back under the hedge. That actually won’t do any good because the hedge is just sticks for about the first 3 feet from the ground.

Maybe I should just cut it down. That would solve some problems, and create more, no doubt. But, I am unsupervised which means I can do whatever I want as long as I’m willing to accept proper punishment for those things that I do which are forbidden, even though I don’t necessarily know what they might be. It’s like the law, you know. Ignorance is no defense when you break it.

I better get busy.

Banished !

The Bachelorette is on so I’ve been sequestered in my room. I’m not allowed to watch it because apparently I ask too many questions and make rude comments that are not acceptable. So, here I sit, typing away, while Zero Hour plays behind me. It’s on the DVR, but I let it run through the commercials anyway so I can add to this. Also, some of the commercials are as entertaining as the shows they sponsor. Some are even better. Zero Hour is one of the three shows I’m allowed to record. I don’t remember what the other two are, so they must not be very memorable.

Since I cannot discuss The Bachelorette with someone in person, I’ll do it vicariously with all of you. I do this with the full knowledge that I will pay dearly for this transgression because that show is one of my beloved’s favorites. A very close second, perhaps an equal, is The Bachelor, an equally interesting piece of work. Diane gets upset when I mock the shows, but I can’t help myself. I know it’s wrong, and not nice, but ‘things’ just leap out of my mouth without provocation. It’s there and gone before I’m able to get control of myself. Then, it’s just too late and I’m in trouble again.

Seriously – why don’t the two TV shows just get together and let The Bachelor and The Bachelorette go on 25 dates all around the world, and see what happens. Whats the worst that could happen if ABC picks your mate? True, doing that would eliminate all the drama, and back stabbing that goes on, but it would simplify things a great deal, don’t you think?

In my humble opinion, both shows are designed to promote promiscuity in a positive light. Seriously, now. One girl going on test dates with 25 willing guys? Or one guy doing the same with an equal number of willing women? C’mon! When that happens in real life the man is tagged as a no good Lothario, and the girls are tagged as loose and wanton. Of course there is no video evidence that romantic aspects of their dates go beyond heavy petting, but the cameras aren’t around all the time, are they?

All of this is sanctioned, by a great deal of society that objects to all the sex promoted on TV, during prime time.


Still, I admit it’s interesting to see where they get sent, all in the name of searching for Love. TV seems like a poor venue for finding true love as the world watches.

OK – my mini-rant is over. I didn’t mean any of that stuff. What I said is all lies. I made it up.

Personally, I’m perfectly happy that I was able to find my true love the old fashion way using a lot of time and patience. More than you can cram into one season of a TV show. I literally waited years for Diane to figure out I was ‘the one’. It was either that, or she just got tired of living in Oregon, wanted to see the world, and I was her ticket out. I don’t believe that, of course. I was just persistent and waited.

Now I’ll quit.

Truly, if I was even a little bit semi-smart, I’d just erase this and call it good.

But, I’m not, so I won’t, so there.

My Eyeballs

First, the cherry pie last night was wonderful. I was allowed to dip the ice cream which made it even better. The pie was still warm from the 2-hour cool down period so we timed it just perfectly.

So, I went to the VA again this morning. Not as early as last time, and I didn’t go alone. As most of you already know, I’m not allowed to drive long distances from the house because Diane isn’t sure I’ll find my way back. As a result, I’ve learned to be a good passenger.  A really good one.  I think I’m past the phase where I thought it was OK to say stuff, like “if I was following that close, you’d be yelling at me.” Or, “if I was driving, I would have turned back there. It’s shorter.” Or, “you cut that corner awful close back there.” I’ve learned that saying things like that create more situations for someone to be mean to you.

Just saying’ …

The VA optometry department uses young students to do all the hard work figuring out if your eyeballs are properly aligned, configured, and up to date. Then they go get a real doctor to check the results and he does it again. All of the students are female Asian people, as far as I can tell. That isn’t a racial issue, just an observation. Whenever I am attended by anyone at the VA, for anything, I always ask them if they love their job. Most of the time I’m greeted with an excited “yes”, but today it was more of a non-comment. She was serious about her tasks, and suspect she did them well, but I could tell they weren’t tasks she was thrilled to be doing. Being prudent, like I am, I didn’t press the issue. She was, after all, fiddling around with my eyes and I don’t have spares. So, I just sat back and obeyed her every command.

The first thing she did, once I was seated in her exam chair, was have me read the bottom lines of her eye charts which were behind me, but reflected on a mirror on a far wall in front of me. Tricky. The letters should have been backwards, but they weren’t. I could read them just fine. After that was done she searched around on her desk until she found the absolutely brightest light she had  which she began shining into one eye, then the other.  I think she had already put some drops into my eye, but can’t remember. At that point, I was consumed with the light. I have to admit that the residual image it left was a pretty green circle that turned blue when I blinked. Very festive.  The lights took about half an hour, then she put the dilating drops into my eyes and sent me to the waiting room to let them work for a while. I waited patiently, playing Sudoku on my iPad, and looking for a new book. I just finished James Rollins “Bloodline”. A fun read because lots of stuff blows up.

When she called me back to the chair, my eyes must have been mostly black because they were sucking in all the light they could find. I’m sure I could see in the dark about then. Very little light was required. So, what does she do? She breaks out and even brighter light and went through all the tests again – look up, look down, look left, look right, look right and down, look left and up, look right and up, look left and down. Just like that, over and over. At one point she changed it up on me and held her hand in front of her chest and commanded me to look there. I did, but I gotta tell ya, there’s not a lot to see when they’re wearing lab coats.

Finally, it was done and she went to get the real doctor who, as I already related, did the tests again, but in a more brief fashion. I think he was just spot checking the student. That’s OK. They need to be spot checked. While he looked, he relayed information to the student who typed it into my record, kind of like a dentist does only she had pictures of eyeballs, not teeth. Then he gave me the good news that my eyes looked healthy and there isn’t any evidence of a diabetic problem which means I can increase my candy intake right away. He also told me that the retina in my left eye has some wrinkles in it that will go away if I make more of an effort to keep my eyes wide open at all times, when not sleeping. That’s a lie, of course. Wrinkles happen. I’ve got wrinkles all over, so why not on my retina? Actually, I already knew this from the last visit. It’s no worse, it’s just not something that’s going to go away. Also, I don’t need new glasses because my prescription hasn’t changed. Exciting stuff.

I was finally released after about 1.5 hours and called Diane to come and get me. Before the appointment she dumped me out front and rushed off to the closest Goodwill store seeking ‘things’ she didn’t know she needed. It’s actually good exercise for her because she walks all over the store the entire time, hanging on to her cart into which she tosses random items which she will re-evaluate before hitting the checkout stand. She just grabs stuff before anyone else can get it on the off-chance it might be something useful. Normally it is. And, she has a good time.

She said she’d be around in 10 minutes so I waited a few, then took my dilated eyes outside into the bright sunshine. Just as soon as I went out the front door I figured my eyes were dilated to about 8 cm because my water broke and ran down my face. This happened even though I was wearing a pair of those slip behind your glasses fake sunglasses. It helped, but not enough. Still, I toughed it out and walked up the sidewalk to a point where I knew Diane would see me when she arrived. I knew she would, because I did that one other visit and she drove right past me. Boy. did I give a talking to that I’ll regret forever! It was educational because I was able to visualize my boundaries and talking points more clearly once she was done explaining things to me. Because of that, I knew she would remember, as did I.

Even though my eyes have been certified to be OK, and will last for many years with proper care, I intend to continue practicing braille when possible. I’m going down to DMV tomorrow and see if they can give me a braille version of their manual so I can study for my test next year. If they don’t have one, I’m calling the ACLU, by golly.

The trip home was uneventful. No one tried to run over us. Unusual for Highway 30, but a pleasant change.

Once home we were both very hungry. I was hungry during my test. I knew this because my stomach made various kinds of gurgling noises throughout all the left, right directions. It didn’t ruffle the student at all, but I wonder what she would have done had I farted, as I wanted to do. Repressing my flatulent nature probably contributed to the gurgling. Normally, I don’t repress farts because it is my firm belief if farts are withheld repeatedly, they eventually turn into burps that taste like crap. Thinking about that reminds me of a saying I heard somewhere, that when you’re kissing someone, you’re just sucking on a 30′ tube that’s half full of crap. Kinda takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it?

For lunch Diane and I had custom nachos – I made the bite-sized ones for both of us. They are really good. For dessert we each ate another piece of cherry pie with ice cream. Just when I was settling into a semi-slumber mode, the dogs started barking because Jennie and Jeran showed up for a visit. It’s always good to see them. Actually, Ozzie’s the only one who barks – Panzee kinda talks to those she knows. Unless it’s a cat. Or another dog. Or a deer.

Changing gears, here are some totally unrelated pictures you may enjoy.

Ozzie on guard in the geraniums – he thinks he’s blending in.


My favorite dry cleaners, on the way to Pill Hill (VA Hospital). I’ve mentioned this.


OK – that’s it. Now I need to go out and clean up some more brush from my previous weed whacking efforts.


Hot Tub, Weed Whacking & A Water Show

Saturday afternoon, once I got over my coffee induced nap, it was determined that I should do something around the house for a change. Specifically, attempt to resurrect our empty hot tub and make it work. before draining it a few weeks ago, it was flashing a variety of error codes at me that I had to research on the internet. One of them indicated it thought there was no water in the heater, and another one thought it was overheating. Conflicting and confusing, so I just unplugged it and drained all the water. Then, yesterday, Diane indicated that it would be good if we could use it once in a while which was code for ‘get off your butt and FIX it!’

So, I grabbed a bunch of wrenches, some screw drivers, and went down to see what I could see. Not being familiar with hot tub innards, I was in for an educational experience.

First, I removed the outer plastic pealing, revealing all the fun stuff inside, most of it covered with spray foam insulation. I was concerned about spiders because I’ve found a few pretty big ones lurking around the tub which would have just made Diane’s day had she encountered them first. She doesn’t, ever, because I’m always the first one there just for that reason. Oddly, I didn’t see one spider once the sides were removed. I was happy for that because I’m not particularly fond of them, either. I just don’t scream like a little girl when I see them, like Diane does.

I studied the tubes, hoses, and heater for a while, then decided to undo the only two screws available for me to turn. It was the cover for all the electrical connections, and the heater tube. Interesting stuff. None of it made any sense to me so I just started disconnecting things from the circuit board, and plugging them back in. It’s a trick I learned with computers – sometimes plugs get tired of being plugged in all the time and just quit working, from boredom, no doubt, and unplugging them and putting them back kinda wakes it up. Then it works. Like magic.

I put it all back together and turned it on to see what would happen and soon discovered that nothing had changed. It doesn’t heat properly and the 64 degree water wasn’t quite warm enough for Diane. I discovered, however, that running the jets, over and over, heated the water up, and eventually topped out at 84 degrees before I called it a day and went to bed.

During this time I fired up weed whacker and set about using it in the back yard. Diane gave me free reign with only one stipulation – that I pick up ‘all the crap’ I cut down on Friday afternoon. Those would be offending rhododendron branches that I just cut and left laying in the front yard. Also, there were more in the back yard, as well as clippings from an un-named kind of bush that served as a test run for my battery powered hedge trimmers that I didn’t think worked. It’s been sitting un-used in the basement for two years. Who knew?

So, I cleaned that all up, and caused little pieces of grass to fly all over the place, and discovered some new species of plants growing in our ‘flower garden’ that I didn’t know we had. It was exciting to have time to do that. It was pleasing and made me very tired. I sweat a great deal so had to take another shower. With soap this time.

We didn’t sit long before deciding it was time for bed.

This morning, on the way to church, we stopped by Dan & Jennie’s house so I could turn their water heater back on. I worked a bit on Friday and turned it off because the kids had gone camping for the weekend at Big Eddy in Vernonia. Seemed like a waste of power to have it running, especially when I was turning the water off and on. The little work I did was to make sure the sink was level and secure it firmly to the wall. Still lots more to do, but it won’t happen until Monday afternoon. That’s because I get to go to the VA in Hillsboro bright and early tomorrow morning to find out how long it’s going to be before I go completely blind. I’m told it could be many years. Maybe I just need new glasses. I’ll find out because this visit is actually my annual checkup, not for the diabetic retinopathy test results. Though I’m sure that will be discussed. More on that later as I learn more.

Just in case it’s a bad diagnosis, I’ve been practicing braille. That’s not easy to do when you can’t feel anything with most of your finger tips. Most of my practice is on bathroom doors, and the ATM drive through. Regarding that, I’ve always thought it was silly to have braille at ATM drive throughs. I mean, how could a blind person possibly find that useful? I have this vision of a blind person driving up to the ATM with, perhaps, their cane sticking out of the driver’s window, or just sticking their arm out waiting for it to hit something. Then, when that happens, they feel around until they find the braille instructions, pull out their ATM card, stick it out the window, and drop it on the ground, like I do. Then, since they are alone, they have to get out of their car and search for the card. When they find it, they don’t get back in the car, they just face the machine and reorient themselves, finding all the various openings, and swipe their card. Since the ATM doesn’t talk, they have to swipe their card both ways to ensure the magnetic strip is facing the correct direction. Again, since the ATM doesn’t talk, they have to guess at what’s on the screen, unless they signed up for, and took, the ACLU sponsored program that explains everything a blind person should know about every possible version of ATMs world wide.

Eventually, they get their money, but they have to go on faith that what they got is what they requested. ATMs are almost always honest, so it’s probably correct.

Then they get in their car and drive off, running directly into the person in front of them who didn’t find it necessary to move along like a normal person should.

OK, I know. It’s not nice to make fun of blind folks, but I’m really not. I’m making fun of ‘situations’ where someone finds it necessary to cater to their ‘needs’ even if it’s dumb. I’ll tell you right now, when I go blind, Diane’s going to do all that stuff, not me. Just like she does now. I’m not allowed to use the ATM.

After church, we went to Zhens for some great Chinese food. We love that place, and I’ve talked about it before. Today I made a suggestion to our waitress that, considering the enormous size of their portions, they should just serve it in take out containers and save the need for washing plates. The problem, however, is that, since the take home container is totally full after eating, they’d have to serve the other part on a plate, anyway. Really. Here’s proof …


After lunch, we took a trip to the St. Helens water front to see what was going on. Happily, The Maritime Heritage Festival was still in progress, and we got to watch the waterski show. From the car.


What fun. I got out and went down to sit with an older gentleman on the rocks. He was taking lots of pictures. I learned that he has a little shop in town where he sells postcards that have his photos on them. They are all from the Columbia County area. Gotta look this guy up and see what he’s got.



We must have been there for an hour, or so. During that time we watched more than a few cargo ships go up and down the river, and watched the sternwheeler, Portland, sail up the Columbia, heading back home, no doubt. Very picturesque and peaceful.


… and, here’s some of the routine traffic that transits the river past our quiet little corner of paradise …


Thinking about comments from at least two of you, I did some research on the internet about publishing written works. There’s a lot of info out there about doing it and I’m absolutely sure most of them require a fee in association with their TGTBT offers. You don’t get that data until you provide your email address, which I didn’t. TGTBT, by the way, is my newest acronym for Too Good To Be True. It’s not original, just shorter. I’m sure there’s info out there for free, too, and I don’t have a problem with people providing information for a fee. It’s business. I might just use an Apple app I found that allows me to publish to iBooks. I’ve had it for a couple of years, so maybe it’s time to check it out.

First, however, I need something to write about. Sitting down to write a story, something with structure, is difficult. Nothing I do has structure, writing or otherwise. And I lie a lot. So, I’m limited to fiction. Being limited it difficult. Now all of this is a quandary.

The pie is done so I have to quit. It’s a cherry one. My favorite.


I wasn’t going to write anything this morning because my plan was to take a nap when I returned home from placing US Flags on Columbia Blvd in St. Helens. The reason for the flags is to help celebrate the Maritime Heritage Festival for the town. our Lion’s Club place the flags for all holidays and special events like this. It looks really nice to see Old Glory waving back at you as you mosey down the street. The MHF is a big deal for the village. If you’re interested about learning more, just hit the link above and you will be magically transported to our little corner of the world.

I know. You’re thinking, “What does this have to do with coffee?” In response, I would say, “not much, yet, but give me time and I’ll get there.” Honest.

Normally, after placing the flags, we stop by Sunshine Pizza for breakfast. We do this because the flag evolution begins at 0700 in the morning which is just way too early for me. True, I’m always up before that, but normal days find me deep into ‘nap mode’ by 0700. So, I had to set an alarm on my iPad. I guess I could have used my phone, but I didn’t want to. I like breakfast at SP because they have excellent breakfast sandwiches for a reasonable price. I discovered those one morning when I took Diane’s Buick to Emmert Motors for a bit of warranty work and an oil change. They’re right across the street from Sunshine and gave me a coupon for the sandwich while I waited. How nice.

I’m wandering around a little, aren’t I? Sorry.

Coffee … I’ve been drinking coffee forever and was never very particular what it tasted like. The entire time I was in the Navy, I drank it black and rarely walked past a coffee pot without refilling my cup. Never washed my cup, either. It was a ‘thing’, you know? Like, wash your cup and you lose all that flavor that took years to accumulate. Truthfully, the coffee was so bad it didn’t do any good to wash your cup, so why bother.

The one exception to this was when we were stationed in Italy. We learned to really like latte’s and espresso. We would have made it at home but didn’t have a coffee bean grinder, or the fancy machine they used to make the ones we bought.

Coffee at home, wherever we were, was always good because Diane made it. But it was still ‘fresh’ out of a can, vacuum packed for freshness. We both loved the smell when a new can was opened. It made us swoon a little, it was so fragrant. Then, after retiring from the Navy I went to work for a local company and we decided to take a trip on a cruise ship to Alaska. That did us in for coffee because cruise ship coffee is pretty darn good. Very rich flavor, and not bitter.

So, upon return from that first cruise, we purchased our first coffee bean grinder and started testing beans to see which ones we liked the best. Eventually we settled on Gavalia, which is expensive, but really good and they mail it too us. They also send us a new coffee pot once a year. How cool is that?

We always make 10 cups of coffee first thing in the morning, when it’s just the two of us, which is most of the time. Generally, there’s a cup left at the end of the day which I save for the next morning and heat in the microwave while the new pot is brewing. Unless I’m napping, that is. Then Diane makes the coffee. I normally don’t because the bean grinder is horrendously loud and I have to take it to the garage so it doesn’t wake Diane. She does that for me, too. We’re nice to each other, that way.

This morning, upon returning from my flag duties, I put my favorite creamer in one of my favorite cup, and discovered that it was going to be the last cup for that bottle of creamer. When that happens, I pour the coffee into the creamer container to ensure I get all the creamer we paid for. I swish it around and around to get the really sticky stuff off the bottom, then I pour it into the cup and stick it into the microwave to heat it up for a minute and forty seconds. I don’t pick that number. That’s what the microwave assigns for one cup of coffee.

When the little microwave dinger went off, signaling that my coffee was ready, I pulled it out and discovered something floating in it. This had never happened before so it perplexed me. Upon dipping it out with a spoon I discovered it was a small moth. “Hmmm,’ I thought. Should I really drink this or not. “I don’t know where this moth has been,” I continued. “Then again,” thought I, “it’s been thoroughly cooked in the microwave so couldn’t possibly be all that bad.”

Continuing with this line of thinking, I got out a fine mesh strainer and pour the coffee into another cup to ensure there were no legs or eyes floating around. The last thing out of the original cup was what looked like coffee grounds, neatly caught by the strainer. I couldn’t help but think that, possibly, they weren’t grounds, but moth eggs, or worse, moth crap, but there were far too many to accept that as a reasonable assumption. So, I stuck with ‘coffee grounds’ and took the cup to my nappy place on the couch to enjoy it.

As I sat there sipping away, I couldn’t help wonder about how the moth got in my cup. I know for sure it wasn’t in the cup when I started, and I’m fairly certain it wasn’t in the creamer because it’s stored in the refrigerator. So, the only way it could have inserted its way into my life was by crawling into the pot at some point during the night. I presume it fluttered to the bottom of the pot, drank a little bit, and got crazy once the caffeine took hold, and bashed his brains in by flying into the side of the pot, over and over, until it fell into the remains and drowned.

I don’t know that this is what happened, of course. It may have simply clung to the inside of the pot all night and was still alive when I poured it into my cup, and I microwaved it to death. Knowing that microwaves cook things from the inside out caused me to envision this sad little moth exploding in the cup giving credence that what I thought was coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup could indeed be moth parts of some nature. So, I returned to the sink with the cup still half full, took one final sip, and dumped it down the drain.

By this time, the new pot was done, so I got a fresh cup and returned to the couch. All of this will probably make Diane gag, especially when she discovers that the spoon I used to remove the moth from my cup is the one she uses to put sugar in hers. I guess I just won’t tell her because I’m sure the moth had been sterilized.

Hope you have a great day.

PT @ VA w/EB, TV, Dirty Knees

Our day started early because I had another PT appointment with EB, my therapist, at the VA this morning at 0830. That means we left home at 0730 to get there on time. He works on my shoulder and it’s feeling pretty good now, so I may be done with him. Just keep doing my exercises, and the should will be OK. The thumb knuckle and elbow on the same arm are giving me sporadic fits of pain of a different nature. As Big Brother Lyle used to say, frequently, “This too shall pass.”

Too true.

After returning from the VA, Diane and I rested on the couch for an hour and a half while we watched recorded episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, one of our favorite shows, and Perception, another one of our favorite shows. We have lots of favorite shows which makes our DVR one of our favorite electronical devices in our home.

When we were finished resting, I took a trip to Matzen Street to work on The Bathroom for a bit, hoping to solve the issue with the slow drip at the new shut-off valves. I was successful and the solution was in my hands the entire time. As previously reported, I used teflon tape and thread goop without success. This time I used Plumber’s Putty and it worked great. Thank goodness.  I was seriously considering relocating to a location where plumbing wasn’t necessary in the event I couldn’t stop the leaks. Plumber’s Putty saved me a HUGE expense.

Diane is tired of looking at my ‘dirty’ knees so, being the wonderful Avon Lady that she is, obtained a tube of Apple & Honeysuckle Rejuvenating Body Polish. Body polish! Interesting. She explained the process of rubbing it on the offending knees before taking a shower. Between the lines this meant I was supposed to do it now, and go take a shower. So, I applied some to each knee and scrubbed really hard. Though fairly viscous, and really good smelling, it’s a lot like rubbing compound you might use on your car, but more gritty.

We’ll see how good it works, but I think if it does, it will take time. The dark hue of my knees was acquired between the ages of 6 and 13 when I played marbles a great deal of my free time. So much, in fact, that I was the acknowledged target for hot-shot marble players throughout my hometown of Scappoose. During my playing days, we played marbles ‘for keeps’ which means each player got to keep all the marbles he shoots out of the circle. I had lots of marbles. One of my older brother’s friends was dead set on beating me but I wound up with all his marbles, too. In case you’re interested, there is only one town/city in the world named Scappoose. I looked. Google only found one. Mine. It was a good small town in which to grow up in the 50’s. Spending all that time on my knees in the dirt, playing marbles, permanently altered the nature of my knees forever. They look dirty all the time and it’s never bothered me before because it is what it is.

I hope the Body Polish works because it might be nice to have pristine knees for a change. Or, at least knees that look clean all the time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Now it’s time to shower the Body Polish off my knees and see if there’s a difference. Also, Diane made taco meat so I can make a plate of my custom nachos.

Homemade Dirt, Concerts, The Moon, and Hair

I had a day off from The Bathroom so I went down to the lower 40 and trimmed the blackberry vines away from the pile of grass I’ve been collecting since 2007. The pile gets pretty tall in the spring and fall, then sinks into the ground during the winter and turns to some pretty fine homemade dirt. I trimmed the black berries back because I needed to access some of that dirt to put around the crocosmia plants for which I chipped out a couple of holes on the side hill. It’s interesting that Diane paid good money for them and when Jack saw them he asked if we wanted more because he’s removing them. So, I suspect there’s a trip to Scappoose in our future to retrieve some of them and add to our small collection. That, and to swim in the pool which is reportedly 86 degrees the last time they checked.

After the blackberry event, I took a nap to recover some of the body fluids I lost. It was about 94 degrees out there when I started and Diane didn’t think it was a good idea for me to be outside doing ‘nothing’ so when I did ‘something’ it was a problem. She was right, of course. The nap was good.

After the nap we went down to Diane’s Mom’s house for a visit. The original plan was to attend 13 Nights on the River, a St. Helens ‘thing’ where local, and not so local bands and singers give a free concert in the gazebo on the St. Helens water front. It’s a festive affair with lots of local vendors hawking their wares. There’s always food, too, and the beer garden waaaay down on the end – too far away for those participants to throw a bottle.

Tonight pianist Michael Allen Harrison, a well established entertainer in the Portland area, is the entertainment. He visits us every year for this free event. The last time we saw him it was chilly by the river and he must have played solid for about 3 hours, all from memory. When he was done he said he had to keep going to keep his fingers warm. Nice guy. Incredible pianist.

During the visit with ‘Mom’, we all chose, quickly, to skip the concert in favor of cool rooms with A/C. That gave us an opportunity to visit longer and we stayed long enough to score some cucumbers from one of her friends who stopped by. It’s good to have friends who grow vegetables. It was a good visit.

When we got home I took Panzee into the back yard and brushed the dickens out of her. This is what ‘dickens’ looks like when you’re done:


It looks a lot like hair and fur, doesn’t it? There’s some cat hair in there, too, because Breezie showed up and let me brush her. For a long time. Hers is the darker hair you can see, if you look really close.

… and here, just for fun, is a picture the day before our moon was full, four days ago …


… and here it is on the day it was full …


You can tell it’s full because it’s brighter, and bigger. I actually like the orange one better.

100 Word Story


Hi – I’m taking a lead from a new acquaintance, Damyanti, who lives, I believe, in Singapore. She writes serious, “stuff” and it’s very eloquent. She shared an excellent story, “The Shadow of Your Smile”, on her blog as an entry for a group she joined where members must share a 100 word story. After reading her entry story, I decided to write my own.

Read hers first, here: Damyantiwrites

Here’s mine – 100 words, not counting the title:

The Bug Zapper

There, in the dark, lurked the bug zapper, waiting patiently for the next bug to be lured into it’s beckoning bright blue light, but only one bug fell for the ruse, ending it’s livelihood in a frankly frightful flurry of bug bits which were scattered, mingling below with the fuzzy remnants of those who preceded it the previous day when it was raining, and the bug zapper platform provided a brief respite from the bountiful downpour before drawing them into the light, blasting them, and dropping them to the floor of the cage like the filthy dirty flies they were.

That’s exactly 100 words.

Damyanti’s is much better.

Then The Floods Came …

Today I did something I never ever considered would be something that would have to be done. I had to use my wet dry vacuum to clean up the ceiling in ‘The Bathroom’. I can imagine what you all must be thinking, that one of the 14 new connections I made in the bathroom failed. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. It’s normal. It’s the perfect amount of connections. I’m sure. And, none of them ruptured or leaked.

What happened, you see, is that I had everything in place for the sinks to be connected to the water supply, but I hadn’t done the drain. That was today’s job. In order to connect the drains I had to reroute all the hoses for the water supply so they wouldn’t interfere. This involved a lot of cutting and rearranging everything, and the water supply had to be de-energized. So, your presumption, though wrong, was logical considering that I had to disconnect and reconnect everything, numerous times, to make things line up OK.

When I was finally satisfied that everything might work, I went outside and re-energized the water circuits. Upon entering the house I could hear water running and knew, immediately, that everyone would be delighted to learn that I had failed to turn off the new, unconnected faucets. All four of them were blazing away, splattering water everywhere. They have lots of water pressure in ‘That Bathroom’, believe me. I lost precious time as I turned once to go outside and turn off the water, then immediately realized I could save a lot of time, and water logging, if I just sucked it up and go into the rapidly flooding bathroom and turn off the faucets. Needless to say, I got amazingly wet.

As water dripped on me from the ceiling, I plotted my next course of action which was to bring my wet-dry shopvac back into the house and make sure it still works. It does, and I was able to suck up all the spilt water, including the water that sprayed into the hall, soaking the carpet. I was very proud of my shopvac. I used it on the ceiling, the mirror, the door, the walls, and finally the floor. You will all be happy to know the linoleum floor we installed does not leak.

You may also be glad to know that the GFI outlet works just fine. It got soaked and disconnected. That’s probably what I smelled when I got the water turned off.

I got it all cleaned up and actually got one of the sinks connected, temporarily, so it could be used. That, and I wanted to see if I could do it after all the turmoil. I could and I did.

As I write, Jeran and Gilligan are sitting behind me singing the entire Phineas and Ferb theme song, word for word. That’s what they are watching on the Man Room TV while eating Lunch. It’s 8 pm, but it’s lunch because Gilligan doesn’t like supper.

That’s my day.