Yard Work & Softball

OK, I know. It’s getting a little redundundundant, right? Softball and yard work. That seems to be my life lately, but it’s all good.

First, the yard work. Not our yard, of course. I don’t have time to do that. I went out late this morning to mow the church yard and attempt to remove the piles of hay I made a couple of weeks ago. I took the old truck to facilitate moving the piles from the field to the compost area because I knew it would crank right up. It did, too. Once at the church, however, I was a bit skeptical about turning off the engine until all the grass was moved because, as I’ve learned, once the starter gets hot on this engine, it’s hard to start. The decision about turning off the engine was removed from my sphere of influence when it ran out of gas while I was emptying the gathered grass of the first load.

That was a bummer moment. Just to test my belief, that it wouldn’t start, I tried. It wouldn’t even turn over one time. So, there I was, stuck at the church with my favorite truck in the whole entire world and I was supposed to be home by 1300 for our trip to Sandy for St. Helen’s second game in bracket play for the 5A Division State Softball Championship. More on that later.

Having a couple of hours until I had to be home, I thought I may as well be useful and see how much I could get mowed. Having anticipated the starting issue, I first replaced the battery with a fully charged one I brought with me. It didn’t work any better than the other one. So, I left the hood open, hoping the breeze would cool things off enough so the starter would actually work.

Then I mowed. I got everything done around the church and parsonage, but not the overgrown field. I did make a couple of passes through it, just to see how the mower would handle it, and it appears I’ll be able to get it done tomorrow.

After putting everything away, with only 15 minutes remaining on my time limit, I went back to the truck prepared to call Diane to rescue me. I got in the cab and immediately noticed that I may have added to the dilemma by leaving the ignition switch in the ON position. That couldn’t be good, I thought, but attempted to fire it up and see what happened.

The first thing I needed for success was to get the engine to turn over at least 5 times in order to get the pitiful amount of gas, that I had added to the tank, to the carburetor. I can tell when it’s not there because I have a clear fuel filter in the line just before the carb. I pressed the ignition button and it actually turned over enough to pump the fuel, but petered out on me before the engine caught. Another attempt revealed that I was in for a battle as it only turned about once. Not enough.

Since I was in the church parking lot I figured it would be OK to pray that it started on the next try. I pumped the accelerator a few times then held down the starter button, willing it to turn over enough times to start … and it did! So, I have further evidence that prayer works, even for stuff like this. It was running nicely and I had to go right away because I wasn’t sure there was enough gas to get home.

So, away I flew. Just before I got home my phone rang and I knew it was Diane telling me it was time to quit. Since I was driving, I didn’t answer, which is the wise choice for all of you cell phone users. She understood when I drove into the driveway a few minutes later.

Then we headed for Sandy for game two of bracket play for the championship. Daniel and Jennifer rode with us so we had a nice visit on the way. Sadly, I was in the front seat and was apparently not on my best behavior, the reported cause of the headache Diane had when we reached our destination.

Sandy was ranked #1 for the tournament and St. Helens was #8 so we knew it was going to be an interesting game and we weren’t disappointed. Through 7 innings the score was 0-0. Since St. Helens was the away time they batted first. The Sandy pitcher appeared to be getting tired and proved the point by allowing two hits, then she walked the bases full. She had two outs on our girls, however, so any base would get her out of the inning.

The next girl up was Alyssa, our leadoff batter. She’s an excellent bunter and can run like the wind. She tried twice but fouled them off and it was suddenly 3-2 with 2 outs, bases loaded.

She swung away on the next pitch and grounded it to the short stop. All three runners on base were in motion so there was a flurry of activity as the runner flashed by the short stop and the runner crossed home plate. The ball was delivered to the 3rd baseman in time, but a little off the bag … and the ball fell to the ground.

The runner was safe, and it was 1-0 Lions. The next batter went down swinging, ending our at bat. Then Sandy came to bat.

Our pitcher, Mariah, is excellent, and had 8 strikeouts and no walks to this point. Bottom of the 8th and they needed just one run to push it to the next inning. Mariah, however, was just getting stronger as the game progressed and fanned the next three batters.

Game over. St. Helens took out #1, and the 2013 Champs, advancing to game 3 which will be played next Tuesday. If they win that one, they’ll advance to the championship game which is going to be played at Oregon State. Their next opponent is ranked #5 so it’s going to be another interesting one.

Jennifer rode in front on the way home and I was banished to the back seat with Daniel.

Here are some pictures that capture a bit of the moment.

Lydia is #25 and #4 is the girl who got the run home on the error.


Lined up for the national anthem.

The end result.IMG_0081

Yard Work, Food, Liquid Nitrogen, & Softball

Greetings and solutions to you all, wherever you may be this glorious day. It’s glorious, for me at least, because I was able to attain a vertical position this morning, and walk to the bathroom without having to shuffle my feet. And, my depends was dry as a bone! Mornings don’t get much better than that. Actually, I don’t wear depends, yet.

Over the past 4 days I’ve been pretty busy clawing crab grass from the ground around the tree I decapitated next to the garage. The tree has multiple stumps jutting into the air that display the potential of being a prime location for a bird condo. The truth of that has yet to be formalized into an action plan because none of the local builders have returned my calls. I can only surmise that none of them like birds, or they have no interest in participating in a plan to build a bunch of little condos that might only require half a piece of 1/4 inch plywood and some scrap wood for trim. Maybe a little paint, too.

Here’s what’s left of the tree …

IMG_0291Can’t you see an array of little bird houses perched atop the stumps, at various levels? Sure, it wouldn’t be practical because it’s too accessible for the cat, but still … It would be a good exercise and might make someone’s Pintrest page. Who knows? Maybe there’s even an example out there somewhere, but I’m not going to look.

Here’s some of the debris I removed from around the tree … there’s a sidewalk under there …

IMG_0292To obtain all of this required that I deconstruct the home of a herd of rats that apparently call this area home. They had tunnels running all over the place, especially around and under all the tree roots. Fortunately, they weren’t home while this was going on. From the looks of the place, they left in a hurry at some time in the past because there was food on their little tables. It was all dried up, though, so it’s been there a while. I suspect that Breezie, the pushy cat, had something to do with their desire to relocate. Her, and all the other cats that make their way to the back porch area to get a free meal we put out for them every day.

Speaking of meals, here’s one I had a few days ago …


It was quite good.

Last Monday, as I’m sure you are all aware, was Memorial Day. I was up at the crack of dawn to help our Lions club put out flags, like we do every holiday. Then I had a reasonably priced breakfast sandwich at Sunshine Pizza. Bob Krenz rode with me as we did our share of the flags and we were done first so we got back to breakfast in record time. Bob is a WWII vet who served in Europe. One of those Purple Heart guys. We had a great time putting out the flags, then picking them up again in the afternoon.

All my free time right up to this point in time was used to play in the dirt, removing grass. All by hand, I might add. On my little hands and knees. Additionally, with the exception of a few morning hours, that’s ALL I did on Tuesday, between rain showers. Yesterday was especially festive because thunderstorms passed through and dropped tons of hail on me as I worked. I stayed dry, however, because I was wearing a heavy-duty rubber rain coat with a hood. Oddly, it’s easiest to pull grass and weeds right after, or during a rainstorm because the dirt isn’t so clingy. I was wearing kneepads, too, so my jeans didn’t get all muddy. It was a real mess out there for a while, but I stuck to it. Diane was working at prepping food for today’s Community Meals event while I was playing in the rain and instinctively knew I was out in it. The only part she got wrong was the cowboy hat. It’s great in the rain because it’s wide brim keeps water from running down my neck, but I didn’t wear it because I needed the rest of my body to remain reasonably dry so I wouldn’t catch pneumonia. That would make Diane a bit cranky, I’m afraid.

The missing morning hours on Tuesday were spent with a trip to see my new dermatologist in Portland. I go see these specialists once in a while because I just love the way liquid nitrogen feels on my tender skin. This one didn’t disappoint, either. He checked me all over and burned off maybe 15 spots on my face, ears, and neck. Thank God the spot on my scrotum was deemed to be insignificant. I’d’ve had a stomach ache for sure had he attacked that one.

We can right back home after the doctor visit so I could get busy in the dirt. Diane insisted, even though my once pretty face was all spotted up and felt like it had been lashed with a fistful of stinging nettles. The dirt was a good diversion.

I got to quit early yesterday afternoon because the St. Helens High School softball team played their first bracket game for the Oregon State OSAA Championship. Out of 16 teams they ranked #8 and played #9, Marist. St. Helens was the home team, but because of the rain, the game was moved to the Hillsboro Stadium complex. We went because Lydia was moved up from the JV team to play with varsity. She wasn’t expected to play, and she didn’t, but she was smiling the entire game. Had one of the outfielders been unable to play, she was there. Jennie and Cedric rode with us to the game so we got to visit. Cedric, I’m sure, went along for the ride because he knew there were going to be lots of girls at the game. He wasn’t disappointed.

Here they are all lined up on the 3rd base line for the national anthem. Lydia is in the middle somewhere …

IMG_0077… and here she is, #25, warming up between innings …

IMG_0078Officially, Lydia is the only freshman playing with varsity during the state playoffs. Abby, the other freshman selected, fell and tore all the ligaments in her wrist so won’t be playing anything for quite a while.

The game was pretty tight for the first few innings, a display of defensive excellence on both teams. By the 5th inning it was only 2-1 for St. Helens, then our girls figured out the incredibly effective change-up thrown by the Marist pitcher. She had our girls swinging away before the ball was 3/4 the way to the plate. Pretty frustrating. Bunting proved to be a crucial aspect of success, and our girls did it to perfection. Still, they had trouble advancing runners beyond 3rd base with the exception of the two runs.

Then came the 5th. Marist was shut down quickly in the top of the inning, then our girls came to bat. They bunted, hit, and walked the bases full with 1 out. The next girl popped up, for 2 outs. Then the hero came to the plate and hit a line drive double down the right field line. The right fielder let it get passed her allowing the runner to get to third, clearing the bases for a 5-1 lead. It was pretty awesome, and that’s the way the game ended.

Now they must play Sandy, the #1 seed, tomorrow. It would be nice if the game was also in Hillsboro, but that’s not a guarantee, just an option. That decision won’t be made until tomorrow. Two more wins and St. Helens plays for the trophy. What fun!

Going back a ways, here’s a photo of when we were placing flags on Veteran’s graves at Bethany Cemetery last Saturday …


That’s Roger (Army), Beth, Bill (Marine), and Doug (Army). Beth is the organizer who has all the cemetery maps and makes sure we know what we’re doing.

Today I’ve decided to stay clean just as long as I can because I will be helping at Community Meals this evening. Diane left at 1000 to get things organized for the evening meal. I’ll go later to eat and help clean the place up.

Now it’s noon, and I’m going to follow Panzee’s lead and take a nap. Seems like the right thing to do.

Flags for Vets, Small World Stuff, & Chinese Food

Here it is, Memorial Day weekend already! Boy do the days whiz by faster and faster when one isn’t paying attention. Thankfully, I belong to a number of public service and military organizations that keep track of those things for me, reminding me via emails and phone calls that it’s time to put up the flags again. All of those people involved know I need that kind of reminding. Some go to the extremes of telling Diane because they, for sure, know I’ll show up. She never forgets stuff like that.

The American Legion, Post 42, is one of the groups I work with. We support the veteran community in a variety of ways but the most humbling, to me, is when we place American flags on the graves of our fallen Military Veterans on holidays like this one. We go out in groups of two, or three, sometimes accompanied by a Boy Scout, with a list, the flags, and a device to poke a hole where the flag needs to go. We don’t rush, but with a large group an amazing number of flags can be placed in short order.

The first effort took place on Friday morning at the Yankton Cemetery out on Pittsburgh Road. There are actually two cemeteries there, on either side of the road, one really old, and the other just old. Many of the birthdays go back to the mid 1800’s and we put flags on many WW-I vet’s graves. My helper during this evolution was a young boy whose grandfather is one of the scout leaders. About mid-point in our efforts he decided the flag hole poker would make a good javelin. We had a talk and finished our assignment.

Yesterday morning we placed flags at Bethany Memorial Cemetery in Warren, next to our church. During this session, Roger, Bill and I went together. I was in charge of the list, Bill was the poker, and Roger placed the flags.

As we made the rounds I pointed out those too whom my lovely bride is related. She was raised in Warren and I’ve always contended that most of the people in Warren are related and that was revealed to Roger and Bill and we progressed. It’s quite amazing to see the connections to Diane and they were duly impressed.

After finishing our flags we stopped to visit with an older couple who were cleaning up their relatives’ stones. Names were exchanged, which I promptly forgot, but when I brought up my theory about everyone in Warren being related, and that Diane is related to the Kallberg and West families.

Upon hearing this, the lady said, “Mel!” to which I replied, “yes, Mel West is my wife’s uncle. Did you know his brother, Gib, who was the local state cop a long time ago?”

“No,” she said, “but I remember Judge Kallberg.”

“It’s Judge Kalbearer,” I replied, “not Kallberg.”

“Oh,” she said, “that’s right.”

“I know that’s true,” I added, “because my brother’s wife worked for him her entire career.”

“Wynette,” she exclaimed! “I know her!”

“Jack!” said her husband. “I worked with him at the Deer Island chemical plant for years.”

“Hmmm,” said I, as I turned to my friends. “See, we’re all related. Well, maybe not all related to each other, as in real relatives, but related in some way.”

Then the guy said, “DeLonais.”

“That’s my Father-in-law,” I exclaimed! “I know him! Mel DeLonais!”

“Jean,” the lady said. “Isn’t his wife Jean?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said, relieved that this was all finally coming out into the open.

With a solid sigh, we bid them adieu, and began the trek back to our respective vehicles. On the way we had a very clear view of the entire cemetery festooned with flowers and flags. It always amazes me how many flags there are. It’s actually a very beautiful and moving sight, knowing there were so many who served their county over the years.

Back at the truck, which I drove to the cemetery, something I didn’t mention previously, I noticed that the headlights were still on so I immediately invoked the emergency rule about no one leaving until I discovered if I could, or not, get the truck started. Before trying, however, I simply turned the lights off and let it rest while we all talked about pretty much everything in the world.

It was good to solve the “things’ that we perceive to be wrong with the world. If only people would listen to us.

After all that ‘solving’ activity, I went home. When I arrived I found Diane standing in the garage, tapping her duster in the palm of her left hand, and was immediately directed to get the vacuum cleaner. Apparently we were going to conduct a good old navy field day.

Then she said hello and administered to me the obligatory greeting kiss, which is the same as the obligatory parting kiss, but different.

I couldn’t find the vacuum cleaner in its customary parking spot in the garage until Diane pointed it out. It was, of course, in plain sight. I took it in the living room and was told to move all the furniture away from the walls so I could suck up the bad stuff gathered there. I did as directed and did such a good job that the furniture moving evolution escalated to the point where everything was moved to a new location. We do this once or twice a year and I’m OK with it because it’s a far better alternative to either moving or purchasing new furniture. Just putting it in a different spot in the living room serves the purpose of making it look like new. Doesn’t cost anything, either. Just a little sweat and a few strained muscles.

We ended yesterday evening by selecting our new places to sit in the new arrangement. This is an important task because it determines where we will be located while eating pretty much every meal. It’s got to be the right angle so we can see each other, our food trays, and the TV without straining our eyes.

This morning I was forced awake by Ozzie around 0600. I sense he had been trying to wake me for a while because he was pretty active. He was happy to get out where he and Panzee made a mad dash to the yard, did their thing, then quickly returned to the back door seeking admittance so they could consume their treasured pouch food. Then I assumed my prone position on the couch recliner and promptly went back to sleep until Diane woke me around 0945 asking if I was staying home or going to church. I chose to stay home.

I did absolutely nothing for the next 3 hours.

After church was over, Diane returned home with her Mom, Jean, and two bags of Safeway Deli Chinese food for lunch. It was awesome. There was enough left over for Mom to take home for lunch tomorrow.

Then Jennifer, Cedric, Lydia, and Jeran arrived for a visit. Well, everyone but Lydia was there for a visit.  Lydia needed to use the computer to work on some school tasks. The rest of us visited.

Now it’s late afternoon, and we’re waiting for Jack and Wynette to drop by for a visit. That will be entertaining.

It always is.

42, Yard Work, & Softball

Today our son, Jeff, is 42. There were many times during those years I was sure he wouldn’t reach the next one, but he always did, and we’re grateful for that. He’s got a great family, which we get to see frequently because he still lives close enough to borrow stuff. It’s a good tradeoff. We love them all dearly, in case that didn’t come through above. Today he brought Gilligan along for a ride when he returned the old truck he needed for a task.

Before going further, I must correct a terrible omission from two days ago when I was 70. On that day in history, the lovely Maryssa graduated from Skyview High School in Nampa. She received a sports scholarship to Eastern Oregon University to play softball for the next four years. I heard a rumor that she will major in either sports medicine or continue her education on-line, after graduating, to get an advanced degree in nuclear basics in an attempt to learn about fission as it relates to the study of maggots that attack migrant squirrels, before they get run over on I-17, in Northern Arizona. As always, of course, I could be wrong. That happens once in a while.

Maryssa, by the way, is the daughter of my Idaho niece, Steffani, married to Bob, who was obtained by my older brother, Jim, from his first wife, Donna.

The significant issue about Maryssa graduating is that she’s going to follow her older brothers lead and abandon Nampa to attend college. Unlike her older brothers, who elected to stay in Idaho for their college careers, she chose to seek excitement by moving west to the more chic and modern La Grande, Oregon. That and, of course, the scholarship. We wish her well and we plan to attend all the games she may have with local area colleges.

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, Lydia’s JV softball season ended a week or so ago and we were prepared to just stick it out until next season. Turns out, however, that the varsity team (11-2) is going to state and their coach asked Lydia and another JV player, Abby, to step up and play with them. So, it’s not over yet. It’s an awesome way to end her freshman year, playing varsity for the Oregon state high school softball championship. She’s very excited about it, as are we.

At this time, I’m resting my weary bones because I separated about a ton of dirt from crab grass and some very clingy weeds this morning and afternoon. Then I removed the mower deck from my mower, hooked up the trailer, and relocated them to the lower yard in the vicinity of the burn pile. They will return, I’m know. They always do. But, moving them as far away as possible slows them down.

Now I must prepare myself for bed. It takes a while to get everything arranged just right so I can slumber. I’ve already put away the underwear I found on the bed earlier this evening, so I can just jump in the sack willy nilly. It’s good the underwear were there because I haven’t seen a recently laundered pair of tighty whitey’s in about 6 weeks. I made it that long without ever wearing the same pair of undies two days in a row. It think it was a test. I don’t if I passed.

70, Family, Friends, Music, & Tall Grass

Today is my 70th birthday which means tomorrow I embark on my 8th decade of existence on planet Earth. I’m not yet sure how long I’ve really existed, however, because I have no empirical evidence that I did. Just “things” in my head that surely must be triggered by ancient memories about which I know nothing. Some I’ve shared. Some I can’t because I can’t format my limited words into a coherent statement well enough to describe some of the things I see when I close my eyes. Every time I do that I am treated to proof, to me, that thought is faster than a neutrino. As everyone knows, neutrinos were measured to travel faster than the speed of light, a speed that Einstein’s theory of relativity showed to be an absolute value. Nothing could travel faster. It was a speed limit of sorts. Now it’s been broken. But, the speed of thought can transport me millions of light years away in the blink of an eye.

Sorry about that. I kind of got sidetracked by a documentary I watched while checking this out.

Now, on to more important things like what I did today … first, however, I want to thank everyone who took the time to remember me today. I didn’t know I had so many friends, and family members older than me who could type. You all made me feel very special today. Thank you all!

Doug called me yesterday and suggested I join him and JP for another classic round of golf at the St. Helens Golf Course today at 0930. I said “yes” and told Diane who heartily agreed that I should go and enjoy the day. Besides, she’s working on the election counting board at the court-house today and probably won’t be home until some time Wednesday morning. So, I was released into the wild, free of supervision for an entire day.

At 0915 I headed for the golf course, arriving about 0925. It’s not very far away. Maybe 4 miles on back roads. We sat in the parking lot waiting for someone to arrive to give us a cart because we can’t make it around the course on foot like we used to. That person didn’t arrive until 1000, and the key to the golf cart barn wasn’t discovered until about 1030. By then the sun had risen that extra hour, causing us to be uncomfortably warm. Still, away we went.

It was fun, and we had a great visit. Since it was my birthday, I wasn’t allowed to spend money so my round, and share of the cart, were free for me. What a treat. Then we went to lunch at Fultano’s in Scappoose, something that’s verging on becoming a traditional stop after golf.

Before going to Scappoose, however, I had to back track to home and get some keys that I needed to deliver to the church. Coming in the back way, as I turned down N. Vernonia Road, I saw Diane heading down the street ahead of me as she had just pulled out from our street. I waved, but I’m sure she didn’t see me as I turned toward home.

Since Diane had just left the house, the dogs weren’t the least bit impressed that someone opened the garage door. They couldn’t have cared less, in fact. They didn’t make a peep. I gathered the keys I needed and headed off to church, dropped the keys, then went directly to Fultano’s where I found Doug and JP sitting outside, in the hot sun, waiting for me. I figured they would be inside, but they chose to make me feel really bad for the delay by sitting out there dripping sweat everywhere.

We had the meal and Doug made me feel worse, in a way, because he insisted on paying for my lunch. I didn’t think that was fair since he and JP had paid for golf, but apparently I wasn’t convincing enough and I didn’t want to get into a shouting match with my friends. So, I graciously accepted the gesture knowing that at some point in the future I’ll have a chance to reciprocate.

From lunch I went directly to the DMV to get my new driver’s license. I needed to do that so I can drive tomorrow because my old one expired today. That means, theoretically, if I went some place at 2359 this evening my license would expire at 0000 and I would no longer be able to drive. I’m not sure how that works, like if my arms would just freeze up causing me to miss a corner, or if the vehicle I was in would stop working. Not wanting to tempt fate, I thought it would be best to just get it done.

I walked into the DMV, took my number, and was immediately called to the counter. It was amazing! Normally I have to wait at least an hour or so to be called, but I got right in. The fact that I was the only customer in the place may have had something to do with that, but it was still a treat. Traditionally, the DMV is always crowded.

As soon as I got to the counter, and started laying out the paperwork necessary for my new license, and my new disabled pass, I realized I was missing a crucial piece of ID. My passport. Either that, or a birth certificate was necessary to prove I’m a real citizen and worthy of getting my license renewed. I was given a little stamped piece of paper and sent off to get the passport.

When I returned the parking lot was full and I knew I was doomed to a long wait. However, I learned the little piece of paper was a special front of the line pass and again was beckoned directly to the counter upon entering the office. Another treat for my birthday. Additionally, I was served by a fellow retired Chief Petty Officer named John, who just happens to be Diane’s cousin. That’s handy. We have things in common.

John checked my eyes to make sure they worked, took my picture without specs so the NSA’s facial recognition will be able to detect me if I’m ever kidnapped, or rob a bank, gave me my documents, and sent me on my way. It was about the best ever visit I’ve had to the DMV.

From there I went directly home where I checked the bag I found on the front porch during my previous visit because I didn’t have time to check it then. It contained two pints of grape jelly from our friend Jeannie E who made the jelly from the grapes she harvested from our vines. I’m looking forward to my next PB&J with a strange new desire because of this. Maybe I’ll have one for breakfast.

Yesterday I got a birthday card in the mail from Susan who lives in Connecticut. She’s my Sister-In-Law Ruth’s granddaughter so suspect she some sort of niece of mine. I figure that’s true because she, and her siblings, as well as Sarah, call me Uncle Jerrie. They call Diane Aunt Diane, too, just to reinforce my belief. I also got cards in the mail from PGE and my insurance company. I liked Susan’s the best. I got many other cards, too, but they weren’t delivered in the mail and I really liked them, too.

I sat down on in my recliner for about an hour waiting for Jennie, Cedric, Lydia, & Jeran to arrive with dinner. I was told to do nothing, so I didn’t. They arrived with spaghetti (my favorite), french bread (my favorite) and a tray of cucumber, carrot, and radish (my favorite) slices. We had a terrific dinner and had time to visit a bit before it was made known that they had also arrived with a festive bag for me.

In the bag were cards from the kids, and from Jennie. Both had buttons which I will wear with pride. I’ll take a picture when I do so you can see them. The children’s button says I’m the “#1 Grandpa”. Jennie’s reports that “My Daughter is #1”, which she truly is. I also got a crafty picture frame and a unique rendition of a family tree which Jennie started with her thumbprint in green for leaves. It came with red paint so all the grandchildren can add their thumbprints as fruit. Very cool and especially excellent because it’s home-made.

After the gifts were given, Jennie, Cedric, and Jeran left because Jeran had to be at the high school to participate in his final choral recital of the year. He had to be there by 1830 for the 1900 show. Lydia stayed with me because she had some home work to do and it wasn’t time for us to go yet.

Then Jeff, Heather, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie showed up to round out the day of special events. The girls are such a joy and I love them very much. I love their Mom and Dad very much, too. I was given a tie-dyed T-shirt, that they helped create, proclaiming me to be a “The World’s Best Grandpa, Hands Down”. Then all three girls were given a color of paint which they used to apply their hand prints to the front of the shirt. Since Lydia was here, she got to add hers, too. I will get Cedric’s & Jeran’s the next time they are here. It’s very awesome.

After the visit Lydia and I headed for the high school for the recital. We were a bit late, and the parking lot was more than full, so I parked illegally in a loading zone. It was OK. I was next to someone else who had parked there first. There wasn’t going to be any loading during the recital.

We got inside just as the acapella choir was finishing their opening bit. It was dark, and we couldn’t see right away, so couldn’t find the seats that were being saved for us. Lydia’s eyes adjusted quickest and she led me in. Though I stepped on the toes of a few strangers, no one complained because they just didn’t care.

The recital is put on by choral groups from 7th through 12th grades so there are a lot of kids involved. Jeran is finishing up 8th grade this year so we hadn’t missed him as his class came on as the third group. All the kids were sitting in the front rows of the auditorium and when Jeran’s class stood up to go on stage he was immediately prominent as one of the tallest. They did awesome, as did all the other groups and grades. One advanced group performed a piece that lasted about 15 minutes. It was an incredible amount of words and melodies to remember but they did it perfectly.

For the finale, some of the kids went on stage to the risers, others lined the sides of the auditorium, and the remainder stood and faced the audience as they all sang an incredibly beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah“. Whenever I hear the song I get totally mesmerized by the melody and have never really listened to the lyrics. I have to admit that they don’t seem to fit with the beauty of the melody, but the combination, to me, is very beautiful to hear, especially in 4-part harmony by such a large group. Had I been the least bit aware, and used only a tiny bit of my little used brain,
I would have taken a video of the performance, but all I have is one photo.

IMG_0863Jeran is the tallest one, center, of the row facing the audience. He did a great job. All the kids did a great job and I loved all 2 hours of it.

Now, just for fun, here are some photos of the brownie cake Jennie made, that I didn’t mention …


Brownie Birthday Cakes are awesome!

The cake Nelda made for me last week …IMG_0070The 3-Jerry Group …

IMG_0071Tom swinging in the breeze …

IMG_0072 … and a little chronological sequence of the grass battle at the church …

First is from May 10th when Howard jumped in to save me from having to flattened all this with a weed whacker …


Then I used the church mower to chop it down some more, and scatter the grass so it would dry …IMG_0063

… and raked it into piles to load into the truck. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was brutal.
IMG_0065The next effort will be to load and move the grass using a real pitchfork, then mow and vacuum before it has a chance to grow any more. I’m taking my mower out there to help with that.

OK. That’s all I got for this effort. It’s now 0105 on May 21st, I’m still alone with the dogs, and I’m going to bed.

Scappoose Junior Prom

It’s been a lot of years, I mean a LOT of years, since I had anything to do with a High School Prom. Back in my day they were fairly inexpensive affairs where the boys broke out the best jacket, or suit, they normally wore to church, and the girls mom’s made the dresses. Back then it was more about having a good time with a pretty girl. It was less about a fashion show. Sure, everyone wanted to look their best and I bet some of the girls were mortified if her dress didn’t turn out just perfect, but she wore it anyway. If prom traditions still hold, it was pretty dark in the venue.

Venue! When I went to prom we had prom in the school gym. Now it’s held at flashy places like this one at 918 SW Yamhill in Portland called the Adrianna Hill Grand Ballroom. It’s quite elegant.

The subjects of this year’s Scappoose prom are Lydia & Wayne. She’s a freshman at St. Helens High School and her boyfriend, Wayne, is a junior at Scappoose High. Wayne was designated as “the boyfriend” WITHOUT my permission, I might add, but, since they met at church, I suppose it’s OK. Still, I have my concerns. I’ve heard about what young men do, and how they feel, when in the presence of pretty young women. Can’t remember where I gathered that information, but I’m sure it’s a touchy subject. Or, perhaps, a subject about not touching. At all. Ever! Still, in the end, it all comes down to trust … as in …

  • trust that, in the event they are compelled to touch, they both listened to those important instructions about not touching each other in the wrong places … like hallways, breezeways, elevators, outdoors, indoors, under water, on a boat, or bathrooms. Outer Space is OK. They can touch there. In spacesuits.

This is the happy couple … that’s Wayne on the left …

DSC_0141They’ve known each other for a while now and they get along great. Wayne has been to our house a couple of times and he impressed me with his extremely good manners. Admittedly, I’m easily fooled by pretty much everything so my beliefs are naturally suspect. Wayne may just be an incredible actor.

At this point in time we haven’t heard how their evening went last night. I trust they had a wonderful time and are still on speaking terms. When I find out, I’ll let you know.

Here’s another photo, or two, or three …

DSC_0191 DSC_0230

Lydia with Great Grandma Jean, Diane’s Mom …DSC_0243

Kids and their Moms … Rachel and Jennifer … by their respective children …DSC_0286

Mom pinning on the corsage. There was no blood involved …DSC_0319 DSC_0328

In all I took 259 photos. Some of them were actually pretty good. One day I might share them, also.

Today’s news is that it rained. A lot. In a very short time.



Metal Hurlant Chronicles

For some odd reason I started recording the “Metal Hurlant Chronicles” series on the Syfy channel. After every one of the 8 episodes I’ve watched, I wonder why. Admittedly, they are quite elegantly produced and, perhaps the dubbed English causes it to lose something in translation. I believe the original series is in French, based on a French comic book series. All of the dubbed English speakers have French accents.

I don’t know why I’m going on about this because I cannot imagine anything entertaining about any of the episodes I’ve seen. Call me crass, if necessary, but I don’t get the point.

I don’t get anime, either.

There! I had to get all that out of my head so I can move on to something more interesting.

Friends, Family, Gardening, & Pizza

Today, even though it was a Monday, was a great day. A terrific day, even. I did all kinds of things that I like to do which is good because I’m so old. In no particular order, I got to say pizza, dig in the dirt, watch a softball game in person, eat cake, visit with friends, ride with Diane for dozens of miles on various freeways, mow the yard (all of it), and something else I can’t remember. Perhaps it will come to me as I get all that in order.

First, I dug in the dirt on the east side of the house, making a space for the five new roses Diane got in the mail a couple of days ago. I took my trusty pulaski out there and dug up about 400 pounds of grass that had to go. Before I could get it gone, however, Diane beckoned me into the house to and ordered me to scrub my body because we had to be in Vancouver for a scheduled lunch meeting with the 3 Jerry group. There’s a long story associated with the group and we three Jerry’s respond to our shouted numbers. Jerry T is #1, I’m #2, and the other Jerry C #3.

Actually, it’s a short story. We all belonged to the TVCC PT Cruiser club for many years beginning in 2000. Since there were three of us, we just numbered ourselves according to age, oldest first. So, there it is.

Then, since we’re all old, and retired, we started having lunch once a month. Others, whose schedules allowed, joined the group to ensure there were enough people to make a memorable amount of commotion wherever we went. Those folks are Vie A, Rick & Jody R, Colleen G, Tom & Linda V, and whoever knew of the lunch dates and could make it. Big Brother Jack and his lovely bride, Wynette, also joined us on occasion. It was all good and we never, not even once, got kicked out of any of the many restaurants we visited over the years.

Today was scheduled a couple of weeks ago and the venue changed, but I didn’t give it a thought. We went to Jerry #3 & Nelda’s house in Vancouver for  a pizza party. What I didn’t know was it was also a birthday party for me. Diane set it up and totally surprised me. How fun is that? I went with Jerry #3 to get the pizzas, with some urging from Diane and others. We had a very nice visit and he didn’t scare me even one time. When we got back the cake was unfurled and the secret was revealed.

We sat in their back yard, ate the pizzas, the cake, and had a terrific time visiting. We always have a terrific time whenever we get together. Their backyard is totally unique, very electric, and serene. It’s very difficult to describe. It’s a very large back yard that has a pond in which a fake duck floats, a little bridge, many large trees to which cowgirl boots are nailed, some have teapots attached, many kinds of bushes, a few squirrels, and, reportedly, an unwanted rat. There are large antique chains hanging from sturdy supports, there’s a hammock, obtained in Costa Rica, hanging under a house-like structure, that has lattice for a roof, which Jerry #3 said he has to tear down because his old cat used it to sharpen his claws. The cat, I learned, is no longer able to sharpen his claws because he can no longer move them because he died. I sensed that wasn’t a bad thing, according to the person who told me about the scratching.

Tom told me a couple of jokes I was supposed to share, but they got lost in my head on the trip home. I’m sure they were both inappropriate for a mixed audience so it’s probably OK I can’t remember them. If I had, Diane would have objected because I’m supposed to be nice.

Sadly, 1630 rolled around and it was time to leave. We would have stayed longer, but softball games had been in progress since 1530 and we wanted to watch the second game, if possible. It was supposed to be a JV double-header against Wilsonville, but turned out to be only one because they didn’t have enough players to field a team because they needed them for the varsity game which started when JV was done. Sarah, Lydia, and Abby joined the varsity team after winning their game 4-3. They didn’t get to play because the varsity girls had a defensive battle on their hands, and no one got injured. St. Helens won 1-0. Our pitcher was awesome, striking out Wilsonville girls one after another.

After the game, sometime after 1900, we went home and let the dogs out. They were very happy to see us return. They were alone for over 6 hours. They’re really good dogs.

Then I mowed the yard. Then entire thing. I also mowed one of the neighbor’s yard. Toward the end I was happy that the mower had headlights because I needed them. I think I finished somewhere around 2100.

Now I must take garbage to the street, something I do every Monday night. Then I’m going to bed because I have to get up early tomorrow and go play 18 holes of golf with Jim O at Wildwood. Should be fun. I’ll let you know how that goes. On, snap! While I was type all that, Diane took the garbage out. Awesome!

By the way, today wasn’t really my birthday. That’s not for another 8 days. But, considering my advanced age, Diane thought it would be good to celebrate with our friends because you just never know what’s going to happen next. It was a good idea.

Relaxing & Lots Of TV

Today was just exactly like a vacation day, but a little different. We didn’t have to drive 1200 miles to do it. Instead, we got up late, and watched TV all day long. Didn’t even take a walk except to the bathroom. Diane insisted. The remainder of time we sat in our recliners ridding the DVR of old shows. It rained here all day so it was OK that we did that. I didn’t even get up to eat lunch. Diane made me a tuna sandwich and brought it to me.

Then we watched the Blazers lose the 2nd game of this series with the San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers got to within 8 points in the 4th quarter, but then Joey Crawford started calling phantom fouls against PDX kinda shutting them down. It wasn’t all that, of course. San Antonio shot the lights out and Portland had a horrible time making a shot. Still, they closed the gap with pretty darn good defense in the second half. Now it goes to Portland.

I’m sure all of you really care about that, right?

We just watched the end of American Idol where Jesse goes home.

Now it’s almost 2200 and time for bed. Sitting in this chair all day made me really tired.

Oh, ya … Lydia’s team went to Sandy this afternoon and beat them 15-7. Lydia said they 10-runner them in the 2nd inning then the game was called in the 5th in the middle of a torrential downpour. All the girls nearly froze because Sandy isn’t far from Mt. Hood and the rain out there ices one up quickly. They all had to be carried off the bus, into the already warmed up showers, when the bus returned to St. Helens.

That was a lie. No one really froze. They just got really, really, really, cold.


Mornings, Golf, Dead Clams, Stumps, & Mowing

This morning Ozzie woke me up at 0530, a fairly certain indicator that we need blackout blinds for our bedroom. It’s getting light earlier and earlier and it’s pretty obvious that’s what gets him going. I learned a couple of days ago that Diane has been playing possum in the morning because Ozzie tries to wake her up first by walking up and down her body. She tuffs it out, however, knowing I’ll eventually get up and let him outside. Then she goes back to sleep for 3-4 hours. Tomorrow I’m going to try that and see what happens.

I slept on the couch until 0830, when Diane got up. She said Doug had called about golfing this morning so I went out and we teed off at 0945. I took Cedric’s Ping driver to see how well it worked, just for fun. I’ve never hit anything with a Ping club because I’ve never been in close proximity to one of them. Turns out it really does make a “ping” sound when you hit the ball just right. That’s not something I did with consistency, but I have to admit I did manage to whack a few tremendous drives. Straight, and everything. Very un-Jerrie-like.

After a fun, but bad round of golf with Junior and Doug, we went to Scappoose for lunch at Fultano’s Pizza joint. I knew Diane was going to be in Scappoose because she told me. That meant she would be at Goodwill, about 300 feet from Fultano’s so I couldn’t very well go to lunch there without alerting her. I’d planned to do that, anyway, but forgot my phone. So, I borrowed Junior’s to make the call. She agreed, of course. Who wouldn’t? We ate pizza and salad, and visited.

On the way home I stopped by Junior’s place to get some fresh dead clams so I could deliver them to Jack & Wynette. He’s always doing that because they really like dead clams. I was happy to do it for him because he was tired. Also, the story about how he got those clams was pretty exciting according to Doug. He told me that while hunting the tell-tale clam signs on the beach, Junior had to get closer to the ground. Too close, it turns out, because he was tumbled by a rogue wave. If he hadn’t been broadsided, the outcome may have been a little better, but he was. Doug said Junior rolled around in the water for a while, embarrassing him so he had to finally go get him and move him to higher ground. Doug said it wasn’t easy because Junior’s boots were full of water and he was hard to drag up the beach. But, he did it, and he salvaged the clams Junior had painstakingly gathered. That was the important part. So, sharing them with J & W has more meaning because Junior put his life at risk to capture some poor unassuming clams, trying to make a living in the sand. Now they will never see their babies again. If they had babies. Maybe they didn’t.

After visiting with J & W for a while I went home to dig out more stumps. It’s a grueling job, but it had to be done. So, I donned a new set of dirty clothes and went out to getter done.

The chore began in a normal manner but it was terribly tiring. Made me breath hard, like a pretty girl does, or going up the stairs. And I rid myself of a lot of excess sweat. Because of my tendency sweat at the sight of a pretty girl, I’m not allowed to watch any of those Victoria’s Secret commercials, or the Blazer dancers. Any dancers, actually. Especially those nearly naked ones on Dancing With The Stars. It’s a terrible affliction. Honest, it is.

When the sweat ran out, I had to find a better way to eliminate the stumps and decided to use the truck to pull them out. I found the towing strap in the garage, hooked it to the bumper hitch, wound it around a stump and wallah! Out it came, simple as could be, making me wonder why I didn’t think of that before. Such a simple solution, until the truck ran out of gas. I found a couple of gallons in a can in the garage, dumped it in the truck … and the battery was dead. It wouldn’t start. Being a believer in Karma, I took that as an obvious sign that it was time to quit.

So, I did. I quit, went out back and mowed the yard. That went fairly quickly because I didn’t bag it. I had to get it mowed because it’s going to rain tomorrow and I was prevented from mowing it completely because of events a few days ago. Don’t remember what events those were, but they kept me from mowing.

Once I was clean enough to enter the living room, we watched the new “24” show.

Jack’s back!