Dump Run, Trees, Softball, & Dead Chicken

The dump called my name this morning and I was compelled to comply. To do so required that I fire up the old truck, hoping that the John Deere syndrome had somehow magically disappeared during the night. It hadn’t, but the truck ran and I was determined to get it emptied. So, in order to avoid an additional $15 fee at the dump, I covered everything with a $20 tarp and headed down the road. I’m sure the engine is only running on 6 cylinders, at most, and it makes the whole rig kinda bounce down the road. But, we made it and I backed it safely into stall 4 as directed at the scales. At that point we all weighed in at 5800 pounds which temporarily confused me because I thought the C20 was only a 3/4 ton vehicle and here we were almost at 3 tons. It was temporary, like I said.

As is my habit, I toss things into the back of the truck with no consideration for what kind of items are added. I should consider it, however, because I can unload any kind of metal for nothing. So, logic kinda dictates that I put all the metal parts in one place, right? Well, that doesn’t work out well because it takes me a few months to get it full enough for a trip and there’s no way I’m going to remember where I tossed that last piece of metal. Just saying. So, everything just goes wherever it lands.

Consequently, at the dump, part of the process of emptying the truck is to separate the metal from the trash because the metal bin visit will be after the dump visit. That’s OK, and it worked OK. As I staggered around in the back of the truck, the people next to me were sure I was going to fall out, but I assured them I’d be fine and that, if I did fall, to not try any heroics, like catching me, because I’m insured. That eased the pressure on them and I didn’t make it worse by falling. I did good.

Our dump also allows us to dump old computers, computer accessories, and TVs for nothing, so I did that, too. I had two old printers, a scanner, and an old analog TV. Lots of stuff made its way out of the basement this morning.

Upon returning home, I went to work on the mound of trees that I dropped yesterday. I cut long pieces off the bottom, then tossed the remainder in the back of the truck for a trip to our burn pile out back. It was grueling work because today was in the 80’s, our hottest day of the year so far and I sweat profusely. Diane insisted that I wear sunscreen, like she always does, even though I told her it burned my eyes. “What,” she asked? “Why would you put it in your eyes?” So, I had to explain that I really don’t put it in my eyes, but when I sweat profusely, like I’m prone to do, it runs off my forehead into my eyes, and it burns. That’s the truth. It really does burn. But, I put it on anyway. If I go blind, it’s her fault.

I was able to get one truck load delivered to the burn pile, and half filled the truck with the next load before it was time to rinse and scrape my body in preparation for a ride in the Buick to Park Rose for another one of Lydia’s softball games. We took Jennie with us because she’s still a bit under the weather and really shouldn’t drive that far. It was an interesting trip because Jennie used her Mom’s phone to navigate with the Waze app. It’s pretty cute for commuters, and it’s really good about re-routing us around bad traffic. That makes sense because it’s made for commuters. We, however, use it for all our travels and it works wherever we go. Pretty nifty.

It was another good game and our girls won 9-2, or something like that. Lydia laid down a nice bunt and almost beat the throw to first, moving a runner around the bases, but the throw was high and she wound up on second base. She also had a nice hit to get on, and she was out on a called third strike, which really wasn’t a strike. But, as I said, they won.

After the game, and the teams paid their respects, the Park Rose team called our girls over and gave them all treats which they’d brought specifically for them. Apparently it’s an old tradition that they always do when St. Helens visits, and our team is the only one they do it for. That was pretty special. The reason given was that it was started because St. Helens was always a fun, respectful team to play against, so they just started bringing them treats. Now the pressure is on for when Park Rose visits St. Helens. It’s going to be epic.

On the way home we had to stop and feed Lydia because she needs to ingest something every couple of hours or she gets cranky. So, we stopped at the Village Inn, one of our favorites near the Lloyd Center. Lydia ate a huge chicken fried steak sandwich, Jennie had a traditional chicken fried steak dinner, and Diane and I shared a sandwich just like Lydia’s. For each meal we also got a piece of pie. Lydia ate her sandwich, Diane ate 1/3 of ours, Jennie ate about half her dinner, Lydia ate about half what was left, plus part of her pie, and I ate whatever was left over. When the our kids were growing up I always cleaned up the plates when we ate out because there was no way I was going to let them throw away perfectly good food.

When the meal was done, we made our way back to St. Helens, dropped Jennie and Lydia at their house, then came home just in time to watch the Blazers lose game 5 in Houston. So, now it’s 3-2 in favor of the Blazers and the next game is at home. The crowd is really going to be pumped up for them on Saturday. It will be supremely noisy.

The dogs were really happy to see us, as we were them.

Now I must slumber. Gotta finish removing remnants of the forest tomorrow and that’s going to be brutal because the temp is supposed to be near 90. I’m prepared to sweat some more, and I’m sure it’s going to make my eyes burn.

Wish me luck that I don’t contract heat stroke, or something.

Gardening, Mechanic-ing, and Lumberjacking

Yesterday I was a mechanic and a landscape artist. The landscape part was fairly straight forward and didn’t provide anything new for me in the way of knowledge. It was simply a matter of removing most of the green growing things along the west side of our garage. There were challenges, however, because this form of artistry hasn’t been done in that location, to the degree I attained yesterday, since we took up residency. I took out pretty much everything except the group of flowers, the name of which I can’t remember, the baby’s breath, and the Andromeda bush. I have to admit that I did extract a great deal of Baby’s Breath before determining it wasn’t really a weed. During this process I discovered that Baby’s Breath erupts from the ground from one really long horizontal root. Really interesting. Most of the other stuff was just grass, dandelions, and interesting curly cue corms that produce a lot of roots, nice leaves and pretty flowers. The corms themselves look a little like flying saucers with tentacles. I saved all the ones I pulled up so Diane can plant them wherever she wants. The corms are the consistency of potatoes. Maybe we can eat them. Might have to try that.

Before playing gardener, I played mechanic and I learned two things that will come in handy in my future life, I’m sure. This knowledge was imparted while working on the ’73 Winnebago. The goal for that was to make it run so it could be moved out of the way of today’s lumberjack activities, the details of which will be forthcoming a little later.

The first thing I discovered, after installing batteries into the RV, was that the 12V system powering the domestic lights. There wasn’t, however, power to the 12V system that made the engine run. No ignition, no running lights, no headlights, tail lights, things like that. So, it became a troubleshooting evolution to determine why. After three trips under the rig, in the vicinity of the battery tray,  I emerged each time a little more wise about the way electricity works in a Winnebago, and that the position of the driver’s oversize rearview mirror doesn’t move, even when you bang your head into it. I discovered the mirror thing three times, on the exact same spot on the right side of my forehead. That’s how I discovered it doesn’t move. If it did, it would have hit in different spots each time, but it didn’t. It’s really sore.

On the second trip under the rig I discovered the value of a fusible link. That’s something  like a real fuse that blows up if it’s exposed to too much electricity. According to the wiring schematics, which I can actually read, there are two fusible links connected to the circuit very near the batteries. The one I found was destroyed, like blown to bits, and I immediately remembered a time last fall when I was attempting to connect newly recharged batteries. There was a little spark on connecting the second cable of the battery. It looked like success at the time, but but turns out the corroded cables I connected were both of the positive wires thereby making a direct short across the battery terminals. The fact that the battery didn’t implode was because the connectors were corroded. That was good news. I’m pretty sure this had a profound effect o there fusible link.

Not having a fusible link to replace the one that crumbled in my hands, I took two short 12 gauge wires from some wire I had in the basement. I twisted them together and installed them in place of the blown fusible link. This creative solution is temporary, of course, unless I forget. But, it worked. The old Winnebago cranked right up, smooth as a sewing machine.

After it warmed up, I put it in gear and pulled it out of its old home, and headed for its new spot across the street. It was exciting to learn the brakes worked because the last time I drove it, they didn’t, and I ran into the house. You may remember that from a previous post. Or not.

I got it parked, but not exactly where I wanted it because the old truck was in the way. I couldn’t move it because the battery died a couple of days ago, and when I put a recharged one in the started gear didn’t mesh well with the flywheel, and ground off the tops of a few teeth. This created a situation where I found it necessary to shim up the outer bolt on the starter in order to rotate the gears into closer proximity. Happily that was the solution and the truck started, then died. It was out of gas, this time, so I took care of that, and got it running. The fact that it sounds a bit like an old John Deere tractor isn’t a problem, yet. It runs, and I got it moved.

Then I ended the day doing the gardening mentioned above.

Today I found the electric chain saw, oiled it up, adjusted it, and went to work cutting down all the trees within reach of our green extension cord. That’s not true or I would have taken down the birch tree out front. I think it’s a birch. I just removed the 20 cedar trees between us and our west side neighbors. It looks a bit naked right now, but that will change once the fence goes up.

That’s a project for another day, after the new neighbors take up residency at the end of May.

Now I’m tired and Diane said I have to go to bed.

Cedric, Jeran, Hives, & Blazer Basketball

The last few days have been a whirlwind of extracurricular physical activity cleaning up the garage. It’s one of those things we’ve talked about doing for many years, now, like we talk about taking walks. This time we actually did it. Not walk, but clean up the garage. We touched everything in the place, moved it to the driveway, swept the joint out, then put back the stuff we didn’t toss in the back of the old pickup, and the stuff we kept for the yard sale we’ve talked about.

The end result is that we now have enough room to park two cars in there. Honest, that’s true. We have two garage doors so we’ll have to get another opener so I won’t have to get out of the car to open it. I suppose I could call Diane when I’m coming home so she can go out and open the door for me, but I don’t think that will work. She’ll object, I’m sure. So, I’m not even going to ask, even though I open doors for her all the time. We’ll see how it all shakes out once the floor is totally empty. As it is right now, Diane can drive into the garage and her Mom can get out of the passenger side by opening the car door all the way, and walk  into the house without weighing sideways past the shoe rack, the piano, and the vacuum cleaners. Lots less dangerous for her, now.

Friday night Cedric came up to spend the night and have a little down time with us. Before that, however, we all went to dinner at Fultano’s where Jennifer got hives. I know I’ll be told that there’s no evidence she got them there, and I agree it’s pure speculation on my part. But, the fact remains that the hives appeared sometime after she got home from dinner. Another possible place she got it was at Sears where she and Daniel went toward the end of the meal in order to purchase a new lawnmower.

We didn’t now about the hives until yesterday, so Cedric’s visit was very calm and pleasant. Cedric had his pick of movies and chose “2001: A Space Odyssey”, from 1968. We had to admit that the technology used in that movie was pretty darn good, but it was still an incredibly boring movie. That was a unanimous decision. Boring. Back in the day, it was totally awesome but, after watching the new movies with all the action stuff, it was boring this time. But, we really enjoyed having Cedric hang out with us.

Yesterday Jennifer went to Chehalis to shop with some ladies from her church. On her way home, she stopped by the house with her friend, Erin, to show Diane what she got and to share her itchy hives. At the time, no one knew what it was. It took some serious talking to get her to go to the hospital and get checked out. Erin went with her. After keeping her for the required 4-5 hours she was give steroids, Benadryl, issued an epi-pen and sent home. The meds they gave her helped with the itching, but they rash continued to spread.

Today I went to church, like normal, but I had to bail out after communion because Diane thought I had temperature. I admit I didn’t feel real perky, and she asked me if I wanted to stay home, but I chose to tough it out. It was, of course, the wrong decision. So, Diane took me home, then went back for her Mom, then they went out for lunch, a little shopping,  and to Jeran’s annual piano recital. I was really looking forward to that, but couldn’t take a chance of infecting anyone, especially Mom, if I had some sort of virus. Jennifer saved the day for me, however, by sending me a video of his performance. He did a great job.

I had to fend for myself for sustenance. I ate three poached eggs which I prepared in the microwave. I’ve never done that before. It was pretty easy because there’s a button for doing that. Really, there is.

I was all alone for about five hours. During that time I watched a number of saved shows that were on the DVR. Diane got home not too long before the Blazers and Rockets tipped off for game four of this seven game series.Since tip off, my entertainment has been watching Diane yell at the TV as if the refs can hear her explaining to them all their mistakes. I have to admit that they made obviously bad calls, mostly in favor of Houston. As a result, Houston took the game to overtime again. That’s 3 OT’s out of 4 games which is pretty interesting. The Blazers won this one 123-120 and lead the series 3-1. Now it’s back to Houston.

Diane will sleep well tonight with tonight’s win. So will I.

This afternoon Daniel contacted us to report that Jennifer’s rash was still spreading, and her tongue was swelling. The meds weren’t working like they should. She called the on-call nurse and was told to get right to the hospital and be prepared to stay the night. They didn’t keep her, but they did give her IV meds before sending her home. She’s in good spirits but we know she’s terribly uncomfortable.

Now I must eat an apple. Maybe a banana. Then go to bed.

Tomorrow I need to get the ’73 Winnebago started so I can move it out of the driveway. Starting it shouldn’t be difficult. It’s stopping it after I get it rolling because I’m pretty sure the brakes don’t work. Should be exciting.

Portland Trailblazers & Old Computers

Just so you all know, Portland is up 2-0 in the playoffs against the Houston Rockets. In Houston. Doing it on the road makes it sweeter. During the season, Houston only lost 8 times at home, now this. Two in a row from an upstart team that many thought wouldn’t make it far. Flash in the pan. A passing thought.

Well, hang on to your hats because they’ll be playing the next two games in Portland starting Friday evening. Those two should be as entertaining as the last two. I just hope they don’t draw Bennett Sabatino as one of the referees because his whistle only seems to work for Portland’s opponents. Curious.

Tonight’s ref crew called Howard for travels, something he’s become accustom to most refs ignoring. It was refreshing.

Then there’s Lamarcus Aldridge … he’s had over 40 points in each game so far.

OK – that was at the end of a busy day. At least for Diane it was busy because she cleaned the house while I just sat around in the basement going through boxes and boxes of cords and various parts of computer equipment. I found about 10 desktop hard drives, two laptop hard drives, six CD players/burners, five 3.5 inch disk drives, and one 5.5 inch disk drive. Yes, I found a 5.5 inch disk drive. Many of you may have never seen one of those. It’s a true relic. One of those things that you will remember for life if you ever have the opportunity to install a program issued on 5.5 inch disks.

Loading program with 3.5 disks was also a lot of fun. Somewhere in my boxes is a Windows 3.0 on a 10 disk set of 3.5 disks.

My how things have changed.

I’ve also got an old Commodore 128 stowed in the original boxes. I keep thinking I’m going to break it out one day and fire it up just for fun. Once I get rid of all the extra stuff, I will do that.

Now it’s time for me to go to bed. I have my Echo/Stress Test tomorrow afternoon and I have to study.

G’nite.

Yoga

I have my own yoga trainer and she sits right next to me at the computer. This makes it easy for me to observe the intricate movements so that I can emulate them at a later time. The goal, of course, is to obtain just a portion of the body control she has to maintain all those positions.

Many of them I have down pretty good, but this blatant display of flexibility is still beyond the limits of my aging body.

IMG_0274 IMG_0277 IMG_0279She makes it look so easy …

 

46 Years, Lions, & a God Moment

Yesterday was Easter so after church we had our traditional free for all lunch for anyone who wanted to show up. Pretty much. In attendance were Jean, Me, Diane, Jeff, Daniel, Jennifer, Cedric, Lydia, Brianna, Alyssa, Jeran, Gilligan, and Baylee. Those are family members. You may question, Brianna, and Alyssa, but we count the kid’s friends as family. Also there was our friend Ron, from church, and our friend Gretchen who stopped by on her way home from Rainier. Gretchen and I worked together at PGE for many, many, many years. She’s still there, working hard.

The bigger kids, including Jeff, scattered candy filled plastic eggs all over the yard, front and back, for Gilligan and Baylee to find. There was no method to the distribution process, and no one had any idea how many of those eggs were scattered around so I have just cause for believing eggs will be showing up the next time I mow. After everyone left yesterday I found two. Today I found a couple more. I’ll get a better count with the mower because they’ll make a lot of noise as they go flying up the grass catcher tube.

Yesterday was also Adolph Hitler’s birthday, in case anyone was wondering.

The absolutely best part of yesterday, however, was that it marked the 46th year of wedded bliss for Me. Yes, just me, because I’m sure all those years weren’t blissful for Diane. Most of them, maybe, but not all. I know that’s true because I’ve been told. Thankfully, for Diane, the blissful part has been mostly on this end of the calendar. It just keeps getting better. Really, it does. Ask her.

After all the activity yesterday, it took us a while to wind down, then we watched the Blazers beat the Rockets in overtime. That caused an emotional outburst of adrenalin that didn’t go away until after midnight. So, there we were, laying in bed with our iPads at 0004 this morning. Diane’s checking her Facebook and I’m reading my book. I hear a little ding from my iPad and a little note pops up from Diane wishing me a Happy 46th. We’re like 15 inches apart, and she sends me a text. It was great, and I answered her back. Getting old and knowing how to use technology is quite fun.

Today I pulled weeds from the flower bed out front. We’ve both been working on it during the sunny days, a little at a time. This morning, when Diane told me today was the last sunny for the next week, I donned my pulling weed clothes and got to work. Diane stayed inside because that kind of outside activity isn’t kind to her immune system. Additionally, our neighbor was mowing his yard which is worse than simply touching weeds. So, I was on my own, and that’s OK.

I got everything pulled across the front, but not all the way around the corner. That was my goal, actually, so started gathering all the tools scattered in my wake so I could put them away. The net results of my efforts filled the little trailer I pull around with the mower when the grass catcher isn’t attached. I do that for fun sometimes. Just hook it up and pull it around the yard. Sometimes I put something in it and move it to another location. Just for fun. Really. Makes me feel like a real farmer.

Just as I began gathering my tools, it started sprinkling. That’s the rain that wasn’t supposed to arrive until after dark. So, thanks to Karma, I chose the exact right time to end my task.

Another good reason for ending it was because we had a Lions club meeting to attend. Diane was scheduled for the program and had Mary from SHEDCO lined up to speak. So, we got there early in order to be there when she arrived.

Shortly after we arrived a strange gentleman arrived so I introduced myself. I do that. His name was David. Expecting Mary as the only stranger for the evening, I asked about her and he said Mary had to cancel. This led me to believe that he was filling in for her as the SHEDCO speaker.

Then Mary showed up and threw both Diane and I into a momentary fit of mental frenzy as we tried to figure out what was going on. The reason turned out to be that Diane and Andy swapped program dates because we weren’t going to be in town on Diane’s assigned date. So, Diane wound up with today, but Andy forgot and arranged for David to come speak. David, or Dr. David Krier, founder of Volunteer Voyages, LLC, came prepared to give us a pictorial presentation about his organization. All he needed was some A/V equipment. But, we don’t have anything like that. All we had available was a screen that’s always there in the back room of the Village Inn Restaurant where we have meetings.

So, we had two presentations available: David, who had a flash drive but no A/V equipment, and Mary who, gee, had a laptop and a projector. David and Mary had a little discussion and cleared things up as to who would present by determining who came the farthest. That would be David who lives in St. Paul. The one in Oregon, not Minnesota. Mary lives in St. Helens.

So, the double booking worked out great for everyone, even me. David gave his presentation using Mary’s equipment, and Mary sat and watched. The real upside for me is that I was able to secure Mary as the speaker for our May 5th meeting. That’s the day I’m responsible for the program. She was a really good sport about the circumstances.

We call things like that a God Moment.

Dealing With Adversity

Today we had a terrific time visiting with new friends Nickie and Mary Louise (not their real names). I call them new friends because before today they were more like “friendly people we know.” I can say that, because it’s really true, but Diane has more of a long-term connection with them. Today, however, all that changed when they visited us so Nickie could loan me his a book … “The Frozen Shoulder Workbook” by Clair Davies, NCTMB which was published in 2006. I readily admit that I have no idea what NCTMB stands for but I’m confident they mean something important because the letters are all upper case, like MD, and unlike PhD, or Dr.

Nickie brought it to me because of the problem I’ve been having with my right shoulder and he wanted to share with me the story of his own shoulder. It was a generous thing to do and, after our visit, made me understand that it’s just the way Nickie is. I mentioned that Diane has more of a connection and that’s because her parents knew Nickie’s parents. They all lived in Warren and it’s common knowledge, in Columbia County, at least, that everyone in Warren knows each other. Part of that familiarity is due to the fact that most of the older residents are related to each other.

We visited for a long time in our living room. This is a rare event for us because that’s where the big TV is and it’s almost always on when we’re home. Sitting there, visiting, each in our own comfy chair just talking, was just great, and very informative. I got Nickie’s story and it is amazing. Not only does it involve political intrigue, it’s about overcoming incredible frustration caused by terrible medical care that’s the result of government control of an insurance company that dictates required treatment in order for someone to return to work. It’s intentionally complicated, in my opinion, in order to force patients to extract themselves by the most expedient means possible.

Nickie’s journey started with a fairly simple issue with his shoulder that escalated over a few years to a complex series of medical issues. That he’s relaxed, and pretty stress-free, speaks volumes about his fortitude. During this time, Nickie was admitted to the hospital a number of times as the result of doctor visits, and also because of emergency issues. He kept his wrist bands to document this tumultuous time in his life, and attached them to a metal ring normally used for making wreaths. He ran out of room so attached more of them to a long chain.

Maybe my words aren’t very convincing, but this should be …

DSC_9662

Amazing, right?

We talked through lunch and finally made a unanimous decision to go out and get something. Burgerville was the choice where we all got Tillamook Cheeseburgers. Have I ever told you how good those things are?

It was a very good, very informative day. At the end, I decided that the little pain I have in my shoulder isn’t really a big deal.

However, I’m still going to read “The Frozen Shoulder Workbook”.