Jennifer Lynn

Yesterday was Jennifer’s birthday, one of many she’s had over the years, and we had the obligatory birthday dinner yesterday afternoon. By some extremely beneficial coincidence, to us, her birth was scheduled at just the same time as Diane was due to deliver a child to the world. We were living on Guam at the time, which is 19 hours ahead of Pacific Time, and their motto is “Where America’s Day Begins.” Because of that, we always said had she been born in the US, her birthday would have been on the 22nd of October, not the 23rd.

A little explanation is needed here … we have an unplanned tradition of common numbers like that in our lives that has always struck us as kinda prophetic. Diane and I were both born on the 20th or our respective months, and we were married on the 20th of the designated month. The latter was planned, by Diane, so I would be less likely to forget. When children came along, our first, Brad, was born on the 22nd then and he was followed by Jeff the next year, again on the 22nd.

Then came Jennifer, on the 23rd. I suppose that’s totally appropriate because she is unique, and she actually continued the numerical progression from 20 to 22, then 23. Interesting, but not pertinent to who she is as a person.

She’s always been cute and mischievous. I have proof, but they are not yet all digital so I can’t share an abundance of photos, unless you come over for a slide show.  She has been a hula dancer, gymnast, violinist, teacher, nurse, wife, mother, janitor, and mentor.

She’s always been well-loved by all who know her, except maybe her brother who tolerated her for a few days when she was brand new, then suggested we take her back. We didn’t, of course. Thought about it, a couple of years later when she developed an obstinate stance on rules, but we never considered it a serious choice. She was ours forever.

Now she’s grown, been married to her lovely husband, Daniel, for 18 years, with three children of her own. How the time flys by. An old cliché, but too true.

We’re blessed to have Jennifer and her family living near us so we get to see them often as we draw nearer to our exit from this mortal plane. That won’t happen any time soon, we trust, but it’s not something we can avoid.

I’ve included photos I’ve taken over a number of years to demonstrate how very little she’s changed

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Well, maybe she’s changed a little, but haven’t we all?

Love you Jennifer. Happy Birthday.

Cows, Cats, and Chorus

Yesterday Brett & Conrad installed a new patio door on our upper deck. You may or may not know them, but that isn’t relevant. They took out the old, single pane, aluminum clad door, that was installed incorrectly in 1957, and summarily tossed into the back of their truck so they could haul it away. I know it was installed incorrectly because the slider portion of the door was on the outside leaving the screen grooves on the inside of the frame. Odd. Now it’s correct. We didn’t have a screen before, now we do. And, the door hardly makes a sound when you open it. The old one rattled along the rail sounding like a wobbly wheel on the worst shopping cart you’ve ever used. Any where.

One of the benefits of having a noisy door was that Breezie always knew when we were looking for her, and that it was time to come in. Perhaps she understands that the new door isn’t going to be her signal that it’s time for lights out because she’s been staying in the house, sleeping for endless hours, going out only for brief moments throughout the day. Diane thinks she’s growing, but she looks just the same to me.

Someone asked me the other day what kind of cat she is so I told them she’s a Holstein cat. What do you think?

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You can hardly tell them apart … but, the difference becomes extremely evident when you try to milk them. It’s not a good idea to try milking a cat. They object with vigor and leave marks.

Last night we went a chorus concert at the high school to hear Jeran sing. This is a yearly event that includes choral groups from the High School and Middle School. It was standing room only because all the singers took up the first six rows in the auditorium. That would be about 200 kids, in all. Many groups, and they all sang 3 songs each. It was all very enjoyable. When Jeran’s group took the stage, he was located dead center, middle row. Easy to find. He did very well and I think I could actually hear his voice once in a while. It’s hard to pick one voice out of a crowd, as you all may know, but some how you can always pick out a member of your family. Weird how that works, isn’t it? Kind of like how Emperor Penguin mom’s can pick out their babies after even though they’ve never seen them before. You know how they work … talk an extremely long walk, lay an egg, then go on vacation while dad protects the egg from the extreme weather. She returns just in time to save dad’s life, then forces everyone to hike back to the spot she just vacated. Very odd.

Afer the recital, we all trekked to Burgerville for Ice cream. That was Jeran’s request. Jennie’s treat. Jeran and I had a hot fudge sundaes, Diane had a smoothie, Jennie had a caramel sundae, and Cedric had an ice cream cone with extra ice cream. It was all good. Cedric’s cone was small, but the ice cream was stacked about a foot tall. Quite amazing.

Lydia wasn’t there because she went to Sandy, out towards Hood River, to play soccer. It was a barebones team because many of them were participating in the choral event, and Lydia was the goalie. We received periodic reports of the action and learned she did very well. It was 3-0 St. Helens at half time, but they lost 4-3 when it was all said and done. Lydia said she stopped about 20 shots and really got a work out. One event caused problems because she had both hands around the ball and a girl kicked her hand, almost kicking her in the face and no penalty was assessed. So, she played injured the second half, and got very tired. But, she loved it, as we thought she would.

Now, it’s almost 10 am and I must get to work. I only have 2 days left to get all the wood trim back in place before company arrives.

Wish me luck …

GI Tract News, Lunch, Kids, Lions, and Mom

Today was really a long one that was filled with interesting and noteworthy ‘things’.

It started early, for me, when we had to leave the house at 0900 so Diane could get to her 1000 gastroenterlogist appointment on time. It’s terrible having to start a Monday morning so early. As I say that, the memory of getting up early enough to catch the 0545 bus to Portland comes to mind making today’s early start much easier to take. What a life that was. Everyone on the bus became like an alternate, diverse family with whom I interacted two hours a day, Monday thru Friday … an hour in the morning, and an hour in the afternoon. There are some really interesting people who ride the bus, but that’s for another day.

We arrived at Good Samaritan Hospital right at 1000 and Diane was a little concerned about it so stuffed the Buick in a parking space  near the elevator. As she bailed out of the car and headed for the elevator, she flung instructions over her shoulder for me move the car to a spot that might not result in someone calling a tow truck. I did, going around the next corner, parking in a spot about head on to the one I just left. It took about 30 seconds and I think I almost made it to the elevator before the door closed and whisked Diane away to the 4th floor. Consequently, when I arrived on the next trip up, she wasn’t very deep into the paperwork necessary for a first visit to pretty much any doctor. Not all of them, mind you, just most of them. Ya know, maybe all doctors need paperwork on a first visit, medically oriented or otherwise. I really don’t know that for sure …

Perhaps Pat can clarify …

Anyway, she really wasn’t late because they always make you show up a bit early to fill out all their disease-specific paperwork, and sign it to verify that you have told the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth. I really don’t know what they say because Diane goes with me to all my doctor appointments and fills all that stuff out for me. I’m spoiled that way. She just hands it to me to sign and I have no idea which little boxes she checks on those things. Apparently she hits the right ones because I’ve never been visited by the Medical Paper Police.

They took her back to her assigned exam room almost right away, leaving me alone in the waiting room with a bunch of strangers. I had my iPad, though, so had a book to read. I also have Sudoku on it which takes up a lot of my time. More than is healthy, actually, but rumor has it doing puzzles like that keeps the mind alert.

She didn’t tell me what kind of exam they were going to make her take, but I knew she was seeing a GI guy (GIG). Though I lost track of how long she was gone, I learned that it was a long time because the doctor who was going to see her said he picked up the wrong chart and walked into his 1030 appointment room instead of the 1000 appointment room. As a result, she was in there almost an hour twiddling her thumbs. I’m guessing there. I doubt if Diane twiddles her thumbs, ever. I bet she was even a little bit ticked to be kept waiting so long. Then, again, having lots of experience with doctor’s visits, and the emergent nature of their business, it’s understandable that they cannot always stick to a rigid appointment schedule. Emergencies happen.

Once the doctor showed up, she discovered that she really liked him. She like him so much that she briefly considered dumping me, then decided that he was a bit too old for her. But, he’s a doctor. With a job. A specialist. I would have understood. Really, I would have. I wouldn’t have liked it, but I would have understood.

Bottom line for the visit, beyond really liking him, she discovered that she’s a “very healthy woman.” Straight from the doc’s mouth. He actually read all of her history, checked all her labs, going back years, then had her describe her tumultuous youth and told her he was going to fix her plumbing. You see, for many years now, the semi-doctors she’s been seeing have been treating symptoms, never resorting to methods that attack the ’cause’ of her tummy grumblings. What a concept! Fight the cause! I like that approach, as does Diane. She has a much better outlook on what’s going on, now, and will probably be nicer to me as this problem goes away. She said she would, anyway. We’ll see.

After leaving the doctor we had to travel all the way from downtown Portland, to Orenco Station in Hillsboro. That’s a HUGE condo complex that turned in to an entire town around one of the trolley stops for the MAX train. If we lived there we could see all our cars and never have to go anywhere, for anything. It’s quite amazing, actually. Well, it’s more than a short walk to Costco, but a neat place, even so. We were going to BJ’s Restaurant to meet up with Jerry 1, Coleen, Nelda, Linda, Jodi, Rick,  Jerry 2, and Tom for lunch which was scheduled for 1130. We were late, of course, since Diane had to twiddle for an hour, but no one minded. Because everyone already had assigned seats, Diane and I were placed at opposite ends of the tables that were jammed together to accommodate the group.

We ate, we talked, and we carried on for hours until the waiters and waitresses made it clear we should leave. We had worn out our welcome, but we tipped them anyway. They were a good group to put up with all the grief this group can provide.

Then we departed to the parking lot where we participated in a very public display of going our own separate ways. We’re a huggy group. We’re family. We were missing Vie. Jerry 1 departed for Vancouver in his tricked out 2013 Camaro, Tom & Linda left in their little Toaster Car, Coleen in her PT, Jerry & Nelda in their PT, Rick & Jodi in Rick’s PT, and us in our Buick. It’s Rick’s PT, by the way, because Jodi has her very own PT.

Rick, thinking I actually had real knowledge about tablet computing, asked my opinion about one for sale in a nearby Office Max. He wanted to get Jodi one. Jodi, who doesn’t fiddle with computers very much, is particularly suited to a tablet. Not having an opinion to share on tables, except that I really, really like my iPad, he then asked if I would look at it and see what I thought. It’s hard to say “No” when someone trusts you that much, so we followed them over to Office Max and had a look.

We poked and prodded all the ones they had on display, comparing prices, figuring out why some models were more expensive than others. Finally, a young man with no facial hair appears and asked if we had any questions. We did, of course. Rick asked him what he thought of the one he had in mind, and the kid oooed, and awwwwed over it, wishing he could get one. It was very believable, and we bought it, but we still had questions. Some of them he couldn’t answer so he guessed. That was OK because they were trick questions and we already knew the answers. Just having a bit of fun.

Now Jodi is the proud owner of a nifty little tablet with a Windows 8 operating system, which Diane really likes. Now. She didn’t like it on her computer right away, but she’s learned to love it.

An interesting part of this visit was Diane’s encounter with Edith, 81, in the tablet and phone cover display, about 10 feet from we who were haggling over the tablet purchase. This simple encounter highlighted how approachable Diane is because she got pretty much this lady’s life story, all the way back to Japan where her shoulder was crushed when she was very young and her left arm did not grow as it should have. The story went on to relate how Edith liked to change her phone fairly often because she like “flying under the radar.” Reportedly, she lives near her daughter in Orenco Station, making frequent trips over the past seven years to Vancouver, BC to gather information about her father’s military days and his association with Winston Churchill.

Really?

Winston Churchill?

The research was done at her husband’s request, before he died in Florida, that her father’s story had to be told. So, she set about doing that over the next seven years, writing a historical novel about all her father’s covert activities. We’re not clear on the name of this novel because we cannot find any reference of it on the internet, but Diane said it’s “FF1”. Edith also reported that a movie company is making a movie of this story in Hong Kong and offered her $14 million for the rights. Being wealthy already, having earned a ton of money as a graphic artist who designed many of the currently used major league logos, she said she told the movie folks to hang on to that $14 million and they would negotiate after the movie was done and see if she liked it. “I’m 81 … what do I need $14 million for?” she told Diane.

What a story! Diane said she was perfectly believable the entire time. But, we can’t find anything about this book. Elaborate and detailed as the story is, it’s suspect. But, who knows? Could be legit. Either way, we all had a good time in Office Max.

Then we went to Costco to get ‘stuff’, and headed home to see if the dogs were still talking to us after being left alone for over 6 hours. They were just happy that we showed up.

Just before we got home Jeff texted that he was on the way up with most of his girls – that would be Ziva, Daisy, Olie, Gilligan, and Baylee. The first three are dogs. They arrived shortly after we did so we got a dose of hyper energy from the dogs and little girls running up and down the stairs, and in and out of the house. It wore us out watching all that activity from the upper porch. Jeff takes Daisy in the back yard and uses a tennis ball flinger to throw the ball for her. She chases it until she can hardly walk so he has to pace her. Olie, the puppy, runs with her but her heart belongs to Gilligan. Energy plus.

After the kids left Diane and I had a snack. She had what she calls a quickie which is simply two pieces of toasted bread between which is placed a piece of cheese food before the toast gets cold. It’s just a modified toasted cheese sandwich. We had to do this because we had to go to the Lions Club meeting at the Village Inn. Well, it used to be the Village Inn. It’s called something else, now. That meeting lasted until 8 pm, then we went to visit with Diane’s Mom, Jean , for a while. We didn’t get home until 9 pm.

Again, the dogs were very happy to see us return. They greet us the same way whether we’re gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Very consistent.

Now it’s almost midnight and I really need to go to bed because I’m tired and I think I’ve used up my alloted quota of words for the day.

“Monsters University”

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Because of this movie, I may never, ever, eat popcorn again.

It was another free entry day for us old people, but I pitched in for the snacks, which is only fair. Once again, we wound up down close to the front, where Debbie Reynolds sat, with Jennifer and me sitting in front of Jeran, Diane, Lydia, and Chris. I chose to move down a row because the seat I was assigned in the row with Diane was apparently broken. I know this is true because I sat in it and it automatically reclined because the rocking springs were not working correctly. Consequently, I wound up in the lap of the young man behind me, who took it well, although I know I crushed his knees quite nicely. He was very kind to refrain from pounding me into the ground, which he easily could have. I would have understood. So, there are still some well-mannered young folks out there. More who are than not, actually. Sad that the minority side of any issue seems to get all the recognition.

Jennifer got in the snack line, where all the money is made at movie theaters, as soon as she got in the door. I just gave her all my money and went to my seat, after making the changes noted above. Lydia went back to help with all of it. It’s quite a deal, actually, because you can get a HUGE tub of popcorn, and two HUGE drinks for $10-$11 and all of them are refillable. That’s the reason I may never eat popcorn again. Since I sat with Jennifer, we had a tub all to ourselves, being adults and all, so I just picked at it all through the movie, as did Jennifer. Turns out that I’m a quicker picker than Jennifer which caused me to eat almost all of our assigned tub, all by myself. Plus, I drank most of the Coke she brought for me. I should have specified 7-UP which may have avoided my current situation – that being on the verge of barfing up an entire tub of Coke flavored popcorn. I’m holding it off pretty well, but it’s not a done deal that I’m beyond it, yet. I can only hope that I chewed it up enough that, if it does come back for a visit, it doesn’t scratch my throat, or get stuck in the back of my nose. The latter is the worst part because ‘snuffing’ out of my nose always makes me sick to my stomach. In a different way.

The movie? It was great, as we knew it would be. Not only was the animation awesome, it had a great story line which, if kids follow it, would do away with all bias based on personal appearance. I may have actually learned something from Mike and Sully.

I give this movie 16 stars, based on a 17.5 star system, where 17.5 is the best. Go easy on the popcorn, or sit with someone who is allergic to it and just don’t buy any.

Fall Colors

Well, it finally happened. I was sitting peacefully at my computer, like normal, visualizing all the pretty colors I see in the trees when Diane lets me go outside. Normally they don’t turn such vivid colors until it freezes, which it hasn’t done, yet, to my knowledge. The deciduous trees that litter the hills, hiding in plain sight amongst the evergreens through spring and summer, apparently think otherwise. Their disguises serve them well until fall, when the promise of winter causes them to blush profusely, betraying their location, making them more prominent as they comtemplate the impending loss of their leaves, leaving them naked, surrounded by a majority who staunchly maintain their greenery. Living thusly only serves to make them more noticeable, a bright spot in a forest made mostly of a never-changing sea of green.

The fall colors seen in the north-east are unquestioningly dramatic and awe-inspiring, but those in the north-west are bright little surprises hidden most of the year amid an ever green forest. We know they’re there, but we forget until they remind us each fall.

Normally the leaves drift down gently in the breeze, signaling an end to summer, a prelude to winter. It’s a beautiful thing to watch this cycle of life.

Here’s the view from the front of our house looking up our street at the next door neighbor’s front yard. The house is for sale, or will be soon, if anyone is interested. It’s on a half-acre, daylight basement, with an unobstructed mountain view, just a little higher up the hill, and there’s an opening in the rock wall Sven built so you can visit us any time you wish. Really, you can.

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Following is our beloved dogwood tree as it looked yesterday morning before Jeff visited with Gilligan and Baylee. There’s just something about trees, with low hanging branches, that compel children, of all ages, to climb them. Cedric, Lydia, and Jeran graduated from the dog wood and climb all the way to the top of its fellow yard-dweller, the tall, green, birch tree to the left.

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Gilligan … she just turned six …

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Gilligan and Baylee …

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Baylee … she will soon be five …

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Here’s how the tree looked when they were done climbing it …

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That’s a lie, of course.

The tree looked that way before they climbed it. You knew that, right?

This is the third time it’s covered it’s ‘space’ with leaves. It’s very pretty, and easy to clean up with the mower, but it seems wrong to undo the effort this tree expended in order to provide us with such a pleasing sight. So, I will wait until all the leaves descend, then I’ll take another picture before decorating it for winter …

like this …

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Nature.

What a wonder it is …

Homecoming and Other Stuff

Just so you know, there are people in the north-east who still talk to me. Once in a while. That’s not relevant to this entry. It’s just something I was compelled to share.

Today I sanded about 1700 board feet of moulding of various kinds, then applied two coats of clear polyurethane finish. The reason it was 1700 feet is because I did it twice. Not because I did it wrong the first time, but once to make it pretty, and the second time between coats of finish. It wasn’t 1700 feet, either. More like 100 feet. It just felt like 1700. And, I didn’t put a finish coat on all of it. Just the trim around the three door ways in the entry hall. Things are looking good because I’m ahead of the imposed timeline for completing this project.

Diane worked on the hutch, in the garage, half the day, then painted the front porch a nice, pleasing light gray. It’s cement, so gray is the perfect color. It was red when we moved in six years ago, but it turned gray shortly thereafter. Useless information, I know.

The hutch is something we’ve had for a long time and it was getting a little bit beat up from some sort of furniture abuse. We’re not sure if it’s something that other pieces of furniture can catch, or not, but Diane has the solution. The hutch is maple and I just happened to have an un-used can of maple stain which Diane meticulously applied to the entire structure. She also removed all the brass hard wear and placed them in a solution of vinegar, baking soda, and something else, and a piece of aluminum foil. It’s a holistic metal cleaner that really works great.

The porch got painted while the stain was drying. By the end of the day, Diane was tuckered out to the point where she settled for a hot bath in lieu of a soak in our broken hot tub to which she only made a passing reference. After she headed for the tub, I went to the garage and applied a coat of paste wax to the hutch and made it really shiny. Mae my arm’s tired, but it was a surprise for Diane so that’s OK.

My arm, the right one, is a mess. It’s that way because I keep forgetting that it’s a mess and move it the wrong way which makes the mess worse. It works just fine for anything that needs to be done below my waist, but if it’s higher than that, it’s useless. To overcome that restriction I have a method that involves using my left arm to relocate my right arm to a position above the point where I can’t move it by itself, then it’s perfectly fine. It’s weird, I know, but it works. I bet there are some of you out there who know exactly what I mean.

At this very moment in time I’m watching unranked University of Central Florida play even with #8 unbeaten Louisville. Right now it’s 31-28, UCF. It’s the first time Louisville has been behind in a game this season. Gotta love the underdog, unless they are playing against the Ducks. Or another Pac-12 team.

We talked with Linda tonight and discovered that things are going well for both her and Tom. We made a date for lunch at BJ’s which is located on the corner of Cornelius Pass Road and Cornell Road. I think. It’s a new one. The time to meet is 11:30 am next Monday. Everyone is invited. If you get there first, get a big table.

Tonight is Homecoming for both Scappoose and St. Helens High Schools so both towns are whooping it up at their respective stadiums. Jack and Wynette are at the Scappoose game, and Cedric & Lydia are at the St. Helens game. Diane and I are home because we forgot it was homecoming day. It’s cold out there, anyway, and we’ll get the scores tomorrow. Still, it would have been fun to watch in person.  Maybe next year. It’s also good to be warm. Lydia got all dressed up for the dance, after the game, purple nose and all.

That’s it.

4-0 and 3-3

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I didn’t make any mistakes today. As a matter of fact, Diane even admitted, out loud, that I made a record 4 correct decisions while within range of her senses. Those are the only ones that count. If she doesn’t see it, hear it, smell it, or taste it, it doesn’t count, even if I’m right.

That’s a rule.

I’m really about 17-2 for the day, unofficially, but 4-0, officially, is good. Right?

The activity for today was to finish sanding the entry hall door moulding, which is in the basement on my work bench. Well, it’s not really on my work bench because that’s covered with all kinds of ‘stuff’ that used to be hanging on the pegboard behind the bench. What I actually have, is a pair of nice saw horses on which I placed some wide boards, that used to be shelves in the house next door. I put the moulding on those boards and applied a coat of liquid plastic. Tomorrow I will reinstall them on the door openings. Then I must work on the baseboards. I’m on the clock because we’re expecting visitors next week and I’ve been told that if the woodwork isn’t completed before they show up, I have to move out. If it comes to that, there’s an off-chance I will be allowed to stay in one of the Winnebagos. Hopefully its the one that works.

There is a brewing football dynasty at St. Helens High School. The varsity team isn’t doing so well, but the Freshman team is unbeaten. Not just this year, but for the past 6 years, when most of them started playing together in the third grade. I can’t find any information about them on the internet, but Jennifer, my beloved daughter who knows all, and has two children who attend her alma mater, told me that Cedric, a sophomore, goes to all the games but gets bored after the first half because the score is usually something like 50-0. I plan to go to their game next week, if it’s home, so I can give an accurate report. Sounds promising.

The varsity soccer team played a tough game this evening. Jennifer said they had 4 over times and ended in a 3-3 tie. I didn’t know soccer had over time. I thought the score was whatever it was at the end of regulation, whether it’s 0-0 or, whatever. Apparently not. So, there’s another aspect of soccer I apparently do not understand. In order to help with this terrible deficiency, that cannot be resolved with creative chemistry, I’ve decided that I’m going to make my own rule book based on what I’ve seen happen at the games we’ve attended. Maybe it will make sense, then. I’ll even share it and perhaps help some of you obtain a more in-depth knowledge of the confusing world of soccer.

Not today, however.

It’s late and I’m tired.

Oh! The cat was out only about half an hour before zooming in the patio door when I opened it. Apparently she didn’t want to spend another night outside. Don’t blame her. There are coyotes, and bigger cats out there.

Wow! I  have to report that I just ran my spell checker and it didn’t find any erors. How about that?