2013 – The End

I’m not going to bore everyone by sharing all the things that transpired over the past 364.75 days for a couple of reasons. 1) You’ve already heard about most of it if the news you watch chose to share it with you, and 2) I can’t possibly remember all of it. One thing I do remember is that everyone in St. Helens, except me, is sick on this last day of the year. It is my understanding that this epidemic is not restricted to my immediate area – folks on the East Coast have reported incidents too. I can understand that because they are ending the year with some pretty exciting weather events. We, here in St. Helens, cannot blame the weather for the ailments folks are experiencing. All we’ve had is cold weather. Not terribly cold, just cold for us. Maybe just chilly according to those who live in areas where the mercury drops well below zero degrees more often than not.

Nossir! I blame this outbreak on Little Kids because they sneeze on their hands, then wipe them, and their noses, on Real People most often while sharing a hug. I believe they are taught this trick in Little Kid School, which they attend when no one is looking, in order to make everyone taller than them ill enough to even the playing field when it comes time for cookies. They know, all of them, that a sick Real Person will give them anything they want if they just leave the RP alone. They will deny this, of course, because that’s what they’re taught to do at LKS.

At this point I must clarify the difference between LKs and RPs. LKs are mostly just potential epidemics on really short legs. RPs, by contrast, have longer legs but no longer have the ability to infect anyone with anything. I suppose that’s not entirely true, but that’s not pertinent. It’s kinda right, and that’s good enough for me.

Don’t get me wrong because I think Little Kids are awesome, even when their little noses are exuding a very salty mixture of puss and mucous all over their lips, which they end up wiping on their sleeves, because their tongues aren’t long enough. I can say this with authority because its one of the more memorable things I recall from my indentured servitude as a Little Kid. When I was a Little Kid, however, things were different. Now it snot.

When I started this, at 1958, it was my intention to terminate it at 2013. Though I could lie, and tell you I did it, I won’t. I don’t lie. I fabricate. It would have been neat, however, to bid you all adieu on 12/31 2013 at 2013. Now I can’t.

As I scribble, Diane is watching all the back episodes of Downton Abbey so she’ll be all up to speed for the premier which is going to happen soon. I kinda like the show, and have watched some of the last episodes with her, but when I start remembering what’s going to happen I need to quit because it’s no longer interesting to me. I will be watching the new season because I have no idea what’s going to happen, and I love the accents. My favorite person is Daisy who works in the kitchen. I think that’s her name. She’s the one who was going to marry William, I think, but he was killed in the war, or somewhere else. Now his father is teaching her to run the farm because he wants her to have it. Something like that.

We planned to visit Keizer, Oregon to bring in the New Year with some old Winnebago friends … no … friends who have old Winnebagos. When Diane came up very congested this morning, however, we nixed that trip, not wanting to contaminate anyone else. So far, I’m doing OK, in case you’re wondering.

Part of my evening was spent in the basement ripping my work bench apart. You may remember that I complained about it in an earlier blog and suggested that I might do this. Since we are sequestered for the night, I thought it might be a good time to continue that effort, so I did. The challenge was working around the electrical connections that were mounted in the front edge of the work surface. I just cut around them, leaving the rewiring effort for another day when I have company available to call 911, should it be necessary.

Here’s what it looks like down there now …

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This half of the workbench is going to be configured so I can sit in a chair and do “stuff”. The other half will be lower to the height of my table saw. I’ll just have to do something with all that wire. During this evolution I found an entire gallon of Liquid Nails so maybe I’ll just glue those 2×4’s against the back wall and call it good.

We hope everyone has a safe transition from 2013 to 2014. I won’t say that “I hope you all had a good year,” because you either did, or you didn’t. Me “hoping” you did won’t change that.

I can, however, “hope you all have a wonderful, safe, productive 2014. May you all win the lottery.”

Now it’s 2113 so I’ll stop.

2013 in review

Just in case any of you are interested, here’s a recap of my 2013 blogging efforts provided to me by WordPress. I had no idea that I was that busy …

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 8,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mabel Ahlf 1918-2013

Yesterday we honored Mabel’s 95 years on this mortal plane. She departed in the early afternoon on Christmas Day. The church was full and I learned many things about Mabel that I didn’t know. I attribute that to my lack of vision. The knowledge was there for the asking, but I didn’t ask. Instead, I formed my history of Mabel using bits and pieces of rumors I’ve heard over the years, and short snippets of stories shared by her family members, but never did I sit and talk with Mabel directly to talk about her life. That’s my loss. Had I done that she might have told me her past was none of my business, but I’ll never know because I didn’t take the time to try.

So, there’s a resolution candidate for 2014.

God Bless Mabel’s family.

Gilligan, Baylee, and Jeran

Now that Christmas is over we look toward next week and the dawning of a New Year. 2014! Thinking back to when I wore much smaller clothes, 2014 wasn’t part of my vocabulary. Heck, neither was 1970. It was just too far out there to be a concern. It’s not a concern now, either, just more like reality making me thankful that I’ve actually made it this far in life. I got to see many of the Buck Rogers things of my youth become reality, we went to the Moon, saw photos sent from Mars … how cool is that? Old news, I know, but still pretty nifty.

The past few days have been very relaxing, giving us time to pause and reflect on things past. That doesn’t take very long for me since I can’t remember much, but it was a fun effort. Diane helps me along with hints until I guess correctly which makes me uncommonly joyful. We do this every day, so it isn’t something new for her. Deep down I know the answers, but keying on her hints makes her happy, especially when I’m right. Makes me happy, too.

Yesterday we received Gilligan and Baylee for their first overnighter with us. Gilligan has stayed before, but when she’s alone with us things are pretty boring. We understand that. So, when they both came it was a really good thing as they each had company with common interests. Here are their adorable selves, sitting at the counter playing with Polly Pockets … Gilligan is the poser on the left.

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Making it even better, Jeran skipped going to the movie with his family so he could stay and play with his cousins. He had planned to be here anyway, but initially considered the movie, then opted to spend his weekend with us. The girls were thrilled and they all had a terrific time. Jeran is great with them. Here’s Jeran as he watches “The Sound Of Music” snuggled under my blankie, without permission, but it’s OK.

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Baylee crashed and burned around 2030, then Gilligan at 2130. Jeran lasted a bit longer. It’s good they went to sleep so easily, and fairly early, but that just meant Saturday morning was an early one. Like 0600 for Diane to mediate. Jeran wisely stayed in bed until around 0930. Me? I don’t remember.

After a simple cereal breakfast the girls were sequestered in Diane’s bathtub with some Avon roll on soap. Blue for Baylee, Red for Gilligan. They each got a vintage Barbie doll to play with, too. They had a good time and didn’t splash all the water out of the tub, just like we asked them not to. After an appropriate amount of time, Grams went in and scrubbed them clean, then shampooed every hair on their heads, one at a time. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would until she told me it was one “child” at a time, not one “hair” at a time.

When everyone was out and dry, I was alerted that the tub wouldn’t drain and required my handy hands. This isn’t my first encounter with the non-draining tub, so I knew exactly what was wrong. Hair. Lots of long hair. It is my belief that whoever designed the tub plug was bald because his complicated mechanism restricts draining water even when it’s pristine clean. I would have taken a picture of it but I know Diane would have objected. It looked kinda like the fur ball Panzee barfed up last summer. Really, it did. Here’s what that looked like … don’t look if you have a week stomach because it’s pretty gnarly …

First, however, here’s the kind of drain I must deal with …

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Now, Panzee’s fur ball …  if you were quick enough, I had a photo here, but Diane was seriously upset that I published it. I must admit it probably wasn’t the best move I’ve made this year, but had to do it. Now it’s just gone.

The cereal was just a primer for the girls. For an encore, Baylee, who barely eats anything here, had a scrambled egg, another bowl of cereal, a cup of milk, and an M&M Cookie. Grams made french toast for Gilligan and I added a scrambled egg for her.  Jeran ate cereal, two scrambled eggs, and a piece of jelly toast. I had a bagel, Diane had a fried egg, and jelly toast. The animals didn’t eat but Breezie took a shot at an agile hummingbird. Thankfully, she missed.

Now I must go reconstruct Diane’s mixer (the parts arrived yesterday) and see if it works. The coffee maker at church has also been reassembled with the new parts, in case I didn’t mention that in a previous post, like you really care. The coffee maker works perfect and delivers a full pot, every time, and I only got shocked once.

Hope you all have a nice quiet Saturday which isn’t likely if you either like football or live in a house with someone who does.

Cheers.

Merry Christmas

The day is done, and it was a busy one. Actually, it’s been pretty busy the past few days, but that’s OK with us. Busy is good.

The sad news for today is the loss of a good friend’s Mother. Mabel passed on this afternoon at the tender age of 95. Please help us heap blessings on Daughter Nancy, Granddaughter Lisa, and their families to help them through this trying time. Mabel will be missed, but not forgotten.

Sorry to start out with bad news but, ya know, life is funny like that. It’s unpredictable and keeps us all wondering what’s going to happen next. Sometimes it’s exciting, some times it’s not.

Yesterday was extremely busy for Diane and me. We got up late, like normal, then went to First Lutheran Church, here in St. Helens, to assist with the annual Boy Scout sponsored event that provides hot Christmas meals to hundreds of people, all delivered to the recipient’s door. Bill, the head “Scout Guy” in the area, said the event isn’t advertised and help isn’t requested, but  there are always plenty of helping hands who show up to make it work. This year was challenging because the scouts had to move from one staging area to another for political reasons. So, a process that has been in place for years had to be re-engineered to work from a much smaller facility. It worked out nicely.

My humble part was initially unwrapping and separating rolls into defined numbers determined by the number of people in each family receiving a meal. Lots of ones, twos, threes, etc., and a couple of twelves. Diane and I were doing the separating and Lydia was wrapping faster than I could unwrap. But, we got it done and ended with one table full of newly wrapped rolls. Another lady parceled out patties of butter into stacks for each group of rolls. In hindsight, we figured it would have been better if we’d’ve wrapped the patties with the rolls. This was determined after I dropped quite a few of them while transferring them to the distribution table. It was because of the slippery gloves I had to wear. Really.

From rolls duty I was sent to help fill vegetable plates and pass them on to the wrapper. Part of the time that was, again, Lydia who gave me a little grief for not keeping up with her. She’s pretty quick, and she’s a very hard worker. Diane was out doing other “stuff”, like cutting and boxing up individual pieces of pie, and I know she did a ton of other things but I was wrapped up, so to speak, in my task. Tunnel vision, you know. I do know that she, Daniel, and the kids made numerous trips around town delivering meals to many people. It’s time-consuming but very humbling to be part of this effort.

Once the veggie plates were done someone saw me taking a break and sent me to the kitchen where I was put on mashed potato and gravy duty. This involved three huge, like 10 gallon pots sitting atop an electric range. Two of the pots had boiling water into which were placed semi frozen packages of mashed potatoes, five bags to a pot. In the packaging area was a steam line with potatoes, beans, dressing, and gravy, two of which were my responsibility to keep filled. Behind me, on the prep table, Terry and Vern were ripping up turkeys and ham and placing portions in containers for delivery. I never figured out what a portion was because it was done using the “BGBG” method. That means, By Guess By Golly. The ‘cutters’ filled the containers by hand, literally, using the zen approach. A handful to them, I suspect, filled the needs of “x” number of adults and kids. It seemed to work until we started running out of meat. Then portions got more normal, but they were still generous portions.

For me, the potatoes were renewed numerous times, I burned off all the fingerprints of both hands multiple times, and I kept the gravy train rolling. That huge pot almost got empty once, then I had to make up a recipe for a new pot. Never having made that much gravy at one time, it was interesting, and I have no idea how it tasted. To make it I used all the stock salvaged from turkeys that were delivered by volunteers throughout the afternoon, and some pre-mixed thickener which was, I’m sure, stock and flour. Whatever it was worked OK and we wound up with just enough to finish the job, I think. I don’t know for sure because I had to leave as things were winding down to prepare for our choir responsibilities at our church. That was happening at 2100. In all, Diane and I both spent almost 7 hours working non-stop, along with dozens of others doing the same. It was gratifying.

Our service was OK, but Pastor got a little carried away with video clips which many people, including us, didn’t think was appropriate for the service. I know, we have the technology, so why not use it, right? True, but there’s something to be said about tradition, and last night was about as far from tradition as one can get. Jean, our organist, was particularly upset because the service had “Joy To The World” at the beginning instead of the end. Until last night the choir has always marched out singing “Joy To The World” to end the service, following the Acolytes after they extinguish the candles. It was just wrong, ya know? The choir was great mostly because I didn’t sing very loud. I’m sure that would have ruined it for sure.

After the service we dropped Diane’s Mom at home because it was after 2300, then went to Daniel & Jennifer’s home to watch the kidlets open their gifts. This is our own tradition, and it will not change. For a while, at least. By the time we got home it was well after midnight and we were dog-tired, as old people tend to be when they stay up that late. So, Diane and I exchanged our gifts and went to bed. I got a new pair of Nike Air sneakers, and Diane got a nice little flashlight for her purse. We were both pleased.

This morning the dogs, not caring how little sleep I got, made me get up at 0715, about 5 hours after laying down. Then I napped until mid morning when Diane needed my help to get a 21 lb turkey in the oven. People were told they could show up anywhere from 1200 and beyond, as their desires dictated. It was going to be a ‘simple’ affair, buffet style, right? Right! In addition to the turkey there was a very large ham, all the pieces that go with a holiday meal, including some an awesome sweet potato and yam casserole from Wynette. I’ve never had that before and it was great. J&W brought that as well as their very welcome company. It wasn’t ‘simple’ by any means. As I may have mentioned before, I’ve learned to just stay out of Diane’s way and respond to help when beckoned. If not beckoned, just stay out of the way and don’t talk. Oh, I did make a double batch of fudge which actually turned out pretty good although I used too much butter, on purpose. I just didn’t want to figure out what 1/3 of a cup was. I used too much sugar, too, but that was OK because the recipe calls for almost an entire can of condensed milk for a double batch. So, instead of tossing out what little remains I used it all, like Jack said he does, and added an extra cup of sugar. It’s pretty good.

The meal went on throughout the afternoon, the middle of which we retired to the rearranged living room to watch old slides of years past, before digital cameras. I was pleased that they are all still in pretty good shape and we all enjoyed seeing ourselves all dressed up in younger people’s clothes, with more hair and skinny bodies. Our children, Jeff and Jennifer, were especially pleased to see the pictures of themselves as babies in foreign countries. Jeff was born in Rome, Italy, and Jennifer was born in Agana, Guam. About as far apart in the world from each other as you can get, I suspect. I set the screen up in front of the big screen TV which wasn’t on at all today. We just visited, watched slides, laughed, and laughed. It was an exceptional day of remembrance for us.

Now it’s over and I must retire. It’s almost 2300 and Diane’s already gone that direction. We had our entire family gathered around us one more time, and we feel blessed.

We hope you all had a wonderful day and that the spirit remains with you throughout the year.

Peace, Love, and Joy to you.

Christmas Shopping to “Home Free”

Christmas is almost here and I, unlike most of you, am considering a little shopping trip. Considering, mind you, but not seriously. Oh, there will be a token gift, or two, but nothing major because Diane and I prefer to wait until after Christmas for a couple of reasons. First, we concentrate on kids, no matter what their age is. Second, things are less expensive when we wait.

I guess I’m not in much of a sharing mood because I’m a bit depressed about all those people whose credit card info was mishandled by Target. Thankfully, we’re not in the mix for getting our info snagged because we don’t visit Target often, and the thieves of the world have probably already figured out that infiltrating our personal accounts isn’t really worth their time. So, we rest easy. I don’t like thinking bad thoughts about people, most of the time, but I’d seriously consider Capital Punishment as a proper solution to those who steal identities, and those who find it enjoyable to create and share computer viruses. Yessir. I think for some of the crimes committed we should just revert back to Old Testament justice. You know, the one where an eye for an eye is OK.

For both categories we could develop a special surgery that would safely allow removal of all finger and thumb bones so they could no longer use a keyboard. Maybe a laser. Also, since technology is proliferate with voice recognition they could be fitted with a voice synthesizer that makes them sound like Chewbacca.

So, floppy fingers, no opposing thumbs, and voices that only allow them to yell. I suspect that would make them readily identifiable anywhere. Then we could shun them.

Complicating this train of thought is the sad fact that governments of some countries sanction such activity. I suspect there’s really no way we could enforce my proposals on entire countries, so it’s probably a moot point. Besides, both identity thieves and malware creators have spawned entire industries that work to defeat them. They ensure a lot of people are employed.

I finished Jennifer’s window table. Well, almost. I need to put a fixture on it so the top won’t flop all the way open and break something. Jennifer reads this, but I can talk about it because she wrung it outta me that I was honoring her wish to have one of these. Never done it before, but it seems to have turned out OK. The window is from our last house which was built in 1925.

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Now that “Home Free” has won the Sing Off, we can go to bed. Jerrie’s eyes are tired.

God Bless Mabel.

A Wedding

Today Diane and I went to a wedding for John and Pam’s daughter, Victoria. Since John is Diane’s cousin, I guess that makes Victoria, and her younger brother, Johnathan, semi-cousins. Now we can add Alic Amaro to the family.

Alic is in the Navy, stationed aboard the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) in Everett, WA. The wedding was scheduled for next summer but was escalated because the US Navy had other plans for Alic next summer. Now they are joined in wedded bliss,  and we enjoyed a terrific reception meal catered by one of the many Famous Dave’s that litter the USA. The food was totally awesome. Honest. I recommend FD’s to anyone who has discriminating tastes. Also, to those who do not have DT.

Here is the happy couple …

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Before I forget, here’s the photo from yesterday when Jennifer made her Mom cry …

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Not a terrific picture, but it conveys a meaning, just the same.

This morning, before getting ready for the wedding, I fiddled with the hot tub, again. I turned it off last night because I didn’t want it running all night, and the temperature dropped to 98 degrees. Not bad considering how chilly it was last night. I turned it back on, but the heater didn’t come on and the temperature dropped to 96, even after mixing up the wires, again. It was still dropping when we got back from the wedding, so I did some button pushing on the control panel, just for fun, and magically the heater came on when I got it to blink “ST” at me instead of “SL”. I have no idea what either of those stand for, but apparently SL has something to do with disabling the heater. Not so ST. Within an hour the temperature was up to 105. That’s another concern, however, because I only have it set for 104. Since the heater was off, though, I figure it was just settling into a range and will be OK. Tomorrow, if the temperature is still holding, and nothing is smoking, I’ll declare myself a Hot Tub Mechanic. That means you can call me for hot tub advice any time you wish. I do not, however, make any guarantees that answers I provide for your questions will result in a solution for you. I just know what’s going on with the one we have. So, if you have one just like ours, I think I’m good to go.

Now it’s semi-quiet here in the house. We both put our PJs on when we got home in preparation to retiring early, like we say we’re going to do every night, but this time it might actually work. I say that because it seems like I’ve been doing things around here for a few hours and it’s not even 1900 yet. Still really early. I’m watching football and basketball in the Man Room and Diane has sequestered herself in the basement to watch some of her recorded “stuff” while wrapping presents.

I think it’s time for me to crochet something. Maybe a doily. Say, that reminds me of a story the pastor told at the wedding …

I man was married to he wife for many, many years. Early in the marriage he found a box his wife had placed in the closet and was told that he should never open it. Ever. He honored this request. Then, when his wife was lying on her death-bed she told him to get the box. He did, and she told him to open it. In it he found 2 doilies, and $82,500.00. He asked what the doilies meant and she said, “before our wedding my mother told that every time I got angry at you I should sit and make a doily because doing so would dissipate the anger. It worked.”

Looking at the doilies the man was very happy that his wife had only been angry with him twice. Then he asked, “what is the money for?”

Looking him in the eye, the wife said, “that’s the money I made from all those doilies I sold.”