Year End Special

So, here we are, on the last day of 2014 once again wondering, ‘where did the time go?’ Every year we do that. I’m including you in the we because I suspect its true. If not, then please forgive me.

I have a pretty good log for what happened throughout the year, but I’d have to read all of it to make it real. Doing it from memory isn’t an option. Sure, there’re bits and pieces that filter through the fog, and more detail is added if I scrunch my eyes closed real tight and think about it, but that’s like work any more. It’s easier for me to rely on other people’s memories than mine. And, it works. I just accept what I’m told as gospel truth and everything is good.

You may remember a number of months back when Diane was on a roll to get a convertible PT Cruiser. Well, the end of that story is one of the things I’ll remember from 2014 for sure, because it happened over the last two days, a distance span that i still have no problem with. Yet.

What happened is she spied this silver PT Convertible on the internet that tweaked her interest so we went to look at it. It’s a 2005 GT and only had 57K miles on it. By comparison, the 2001 PT we originally purchased in April 2000, was on the plus side of 204K, and it had some major issues that I was not really in the mood to resolve.

So, we cleaned up the ’01 and drove it to the lot where the ’05 was, in Milwaukie, OR, about 45 miles away. The trip was pretty exciting for me because I drove it. The dealer made me an offer, I accepted, and we traded right there on the spot.

It was a classic case of “Out with the old” …


… and “In with the new?”IMG_0024This is Diane’s second car so she was in a quandary as to how to get them both home since she followed me to Milwaukie, to pick up pieces, if necessary. She decided that it would be OK for me to drive the convertible home since I risked my life to drive the old one in for the trade.

The ride home was very pleasant.


Old News, What’s in a Name?, & Jerry 3

Sports events are escalating with the addition of about 4-5 NCAA football bowl games per day which I find to be OK. Though I’m not a fan of most of the teams who are playing, it’s fun to watch all that commotion as they struggle to be the best at whatever bowl they are playing in. Then there is the NFL which is winding down to another Super Bowl. The BIG one for me, of course, is the Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day. That will be Oregon and Florida State going at it to advance to the National Title game against either Alabama or Ohio. Should be fun.

All this football causes me to think about team names and how the whole world seemed to get all upset about Indian names being used in a way that has been so demeaning all these years without anyone saying anything about it. That’s kind of like a woman stepping forward to report how Bill Cosby abused them 30-40 years ago, like all the sudden it’s too unbearable to keep a secret any longer. Or, the legion of altar boys who were abused by trusted ministers and pastors. I know, I’m trivializing those situations, but it astounds me that such events are hidden for so long, until one person steps forward. Then another, and another, until it becomes a HUGE problem because the media just eats it up and ensures that everyone is aware of the problem multiple times a day, every day, until a plane crashes somewhere.

So, then team names all the sudden became a problem because they diminish Native Americans. Most notable, of course, is the NFL’s Washington Redskins. National news, right? So, I propose that we take a look at all team names, not just those related to cultures. Like the New Orleans Saints. Seems like the Vatican should be up in arms about that one because there is no depiction of any of the many saints on advertising, or uniform items leaving one to doubt the validity of their association with the Catholic Church, which is obvious because of the name.

How about the Dallas Cowboys? Shouldn’t REAL cowboys be upset about that name? There is nothing about the team uniforms or logos that have anything to do with cowboys which leaves fans in limbo, allowed to draw their own conclusions about what kind of cowboys the owner is talking about. Everyone knows that only the media knows whats good and bad about all this.

Then there’s the Chargers, Packers, Bears, Panthers, Jaguars, Dolphins, Eagles, Broncos, Seahawks, Rams, etc. Man, if I was an animal of some sort, I’d either be upset because of the ambiguity of those names, or upset because I’m an animal without a team. Like a Chipmunk, or a Rabbit. Maybe the Cleveland Cows. That would be better than the Browns, which is about as undefined as one can be. What about all the other colors? Shouldn’t they be included somehow?

Maybe we could just use body parts as names for teams … like the Miami Knuckles, New York Arm Pits, Denver Dicks, San Diego Scapulas, Seattle Knee Caps, Carolina Cartilage, Dallas Digits, San Francisco Fingers, Pittsburgh Groins … OK, I’m outta names. Gotta quit before I work myself into a frenzy with this stuff because it drives me nuts. Seriously, who cares? Well, in my examples, perhaps Denver would … then, again, maybe not. We will probably never know. It is my humble opinion that those who get upset about team names are people who look for reasons to be upset about lots of things for no apparent reason.

Sorry for all of that. Maybe I should write more about stuff I know something about, like raisins, or dirt, but that would be incredibly boring.

To end I must report that Jerry 2 is alive and well. I know this is true because he called me to make sure I knew that, specifically. It was good to know.

Health, in General …

For those of you who are concerned with my well-being, or those of you who are curious and wonder what kind of a fine kettle of fish I’m currently embroiled in, I must comment on my visit to the doctor last Monday, the 22nd. As you may recall, at that visit it was determined that I probably had a virus but if it didn’t clear up in 7-10 days it was probably an infection that would require antibiotics. So, here I am on day 9, hacking and coughing up some pretty interesting stuff that feels like it has a death grip in my bronchial tubes until a sufficient amount of coughing wrenches it free, allowing me to spit it out and have a good look. Now, it’s understood that I’m not an expert on material that exits a body, in any manner, but I know what I like and what I don’t. In this particular case, not only does the expelled material reek of infection, it also tastes really bad … a little like sulfur smells. Or the taste one might get from sucking on a mouthful of pennies … so I’m told.

To help remedy this, I sent my doctor an email explaining my symptoms and suggesting that a round of antibiotics may be in order. I have a particular antibiotic in mind, but didn’t want to suggest it and, therefore, appear to be a bit brazen. But, I bet I get what I had in mind.

If anyone is interested, I’ll take some photos of the chunky monkey I’m coughing up, but think a generic photo will suffice. It’s something like this …

thIt looks a lot like pancake batter.

Now I must stop and watch football, leaving you with this image that may cause you to reconsider your breakfast choices going forward.

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s going to be a very non-traditional one for me. Remember that kid-germ virus it was probably the virus that’s going around, a common diagnosis when there really isn’t one. So, to avoid sharing it with all the old folks at church during our annual Christmas Eve Service, I’m staying home. Not that I’m a super singer, but my absence is going to change the dynamics of our choir because I’m the only bass singer who showed up at practice. The only other guy in the choir is a tenor, so he’s going to be all alone this evening and I regret that. But, I’ve decided that at the stroke of 9 pm I will rise from my sick chair and belt out the bass part of Hosianna, the song that we always open with at this service. And, yes, we sound just like choir in the link but we sing it a cappella. We always think it sounds great but that opinion is a bit shaded with self administered communion for spiced wine prior to the service. Not a lot, but just enough.

So, as I sit here, waiting for 9 pm, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and pray that all is well with you wherever you may be. May God bless and keep you in his ever loving care.

My Wife

She’s the love of my life, the best friend I’ve ever had, and the person who completes me. She also makes sure I smell good when I leave the house, for any reason, that I wear the proper clothes for the reason I leave, and that I have a list of things I’m supposed to do while I’m out and about. She makes me go golfing a lot, cooks me incredible meals, does all my laundry, irons my shirts, and feeds all the birds. All I do is mow the yard once in a while and get the oil changed in her Buick when needed. I feel that I don’t pull my share of the load, but I’ve learned that I shouldn’t volunteer to help. I should just wait until she asks and when she does, I’m always there. She’s more than earned it.

Today is her birthday so help me in wishing her a really good one. I’m not allowed to say how old she is, but she was born in 1946.

I love you, Diane. Thanks for all you do.



Santa Claus

Never in my life have I posed as Santa Claus, but I woke up this morning and decided that playing The Big Guy for a bunch of rowdy kindergarten kids might be a lot of fun. In anticipation of this uncommon desire, I rented a Santa suit yesterday for the astounding amount of $40. That’s only good for one day. They don’t rent beards or fancy hair so I had to purchase that. I suppose that’s a really good idea since I probably wouldn’t like to wear a mustache and beard onto which someones DNA resides as the result of a dripping nose, or smoker’s cough. That wouldn’t be good. No sir. It was Diane who made me aware of that danger and the logic behind purchasing, instead of renting a beard.

My Santa day began early this morning. I had to be up, scrubbed, and dressed for a 0815 encounter with 25 wide awake 5-year-olds. I needed coffee, but didn’t get a whole cup before having to leave. Diane was my helper, making sure my uniform was on straight, things like that. My main concern was the fear of my pants falling off. Even though I had a fluffy pillow installed, it was a danger, one I couldn’t see going well at an elementary school. “Santa’s Pants Fall Off In Mrs. Miller’s Class!” It would make a great headline, but would probably end my Santa career on the spot. So, I was careful. The morning went well, and I had a lot of fun interacting with all the children. One of them was our Great Granddaughter Danyell. I don’t think she had any idea who I was even though I quizzed her about her sister Juliette, and Aunts Gilligan and Baylee.

I didn’t get to visit Gilligan’s classroom because she’s in First Grade, but we arrived just when Jeff was delivering her so I got a hug. There was no fooling her. She just ran to me and said, “Oh Grandpa!”, gave me a big hug and ran for the front door. Very Gilligan like.

Back at the house I removed the uniform because my next engagement wasn’t until 1230. I had time to rest and dry out a little. That suit is really hot. I vowed to not wear so many clothes under it the next time.

Jennifer showed up at 1200 because she was my afternoon guide. We arrived in plenty of time for our 1230 visit and it went very well. One victory stands out for me in one little girl who was fearful of coming near me to get her candy cane. Her name was Samantha. We didn’t push it, and just let her be. When the class was assembled on the floor in front of the stool I was sitting on, she was in the front row a little to my left. Mrs. Miller had them sing Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer for me. I glanced at Samantha once in a while and finally caught her eye. Then I slid a candy cane over to her and she reached out to get it. That was great. Then, after the song was done, and all the kids went back to their tables, she came back for a hug. That was better than great.

The afternoon engagements weren’t as dramatic as Samantha, but still fun. I got mobbed by the entire class who all tried to hug me at once before I left. They slammed me into the blackboard and, had it been the morning group, I surely would have lost my pants. Thankfully, for the afternoon trip, I wore suspenders. The danger was gone.

It was a good day …

VA, Costco, Michaels, Fred Meyer, & Lydia

Today I paid another visit to my psychiatrist at the VA clinic. She officially said that I’m not nuts after all and that I didn’t have to come back unless I wanted to. She was very nice and we had a good rapport. Apparently I speak a bit of her language. Anyway, we severed ties because she’s moving on to greener pastures with her skills. I can’t say that I’ll miss her because I’ve only seen her twice, but it was meaningful and we accomplished my goal of ridding my life of Ambien. By January I should be done with it.

Now all I have to do is lose about 30 pounds so the Diabetes Police will leave me alone. All I have to do is quit eating. Simple.

We returned home by way of Costco, the one on Jenkins Road, where we enjoyed a festive lunch of very large hot dogs. $3.00 gets you two of the foot longs plus two refillable drinks. Can’t beat that for a decent meal. Ok, ok, … it’s processed meat, I know, but it’s still a decent meal. On the plus side, I only had half a cup of soda instead of a full one with a refill, like Diane did.

Then we stopped at Michaels so Diane could get some important things. She let me stay in the Buick and rest. And read my book. On my iPad. Then we had to stop at Fred Meyer to get yogurt. She let me stay in the Buick there, too. Gas was only $2.27 but we didn’t need any. It’s cheaper at Freddie’s than it is at Costco.

One of the things she got at Costco was a dead chicken in a plastic box. It was all broiled and brown and I figured it was destined to be our early dinner. I was correct, as I am many times throughout the day. One of us may disagree on that point and that’s OK. I know I’m correct, like I am many times throughout the day. Again, there may be disagreement, etcetera.

Once home, my job was to dismantle the chicken while Diane made a festive salad. We had to hurry because I was tapped to return Lydia to Hillsboro for her weekly goalie training session. I did it because both Diane and Jennifer were booked for a hot bunco party, something they do once a month at various homes throughout the area.

Lydia and I had a very meaningful conversation on the trip over since it was just the two of us. We don’t get that kind of quality time together very often and it was good. I learn stuff. Today it was that one of the qualities of a good male friend, for a girl, is that he will hold your hair back when you throw up. Every time. She was sick, you see, during a teen conference thing for church and thought it would be more fun to throw up out side on the street than inside in a toilet. The male friend, I’m told, is sweet on Lydia but it’s been made very clear to him that she likes him like a brother. Still, he tries. During this learning evolution she consumed 17 of the 20 chicken nuggets we got at McDonalds on the way out of St. Helens. She only wanted 10, but for another $.50 we could get 20 so I opted for the bargain. It worked out.

Now I must stop. This is post 690. Maybe not a big deal to many of you, but it is to me. Thinking about all those words makes me tired.

Santa Lucia & Snacks

Today after church service our new friends Angela & Randy treated us to the Swedish version of the Santa Lucia tradition. It was a very stunning event that none of those at church had ever experienced. Let me revise that to say that no one I spoke with had ever experienced. The tradition is steeped in history, beginning in the 300’s, and has understandably changed over the intervening 1600+ years. Being a Lutheran tradition, in our instance, it naturally involves food, tea, and coffee. So, the beginning of this tradition at Bethany Lutheran Church, in Warren, Oregon, was conducted during our normal after service coffee hour.

Cameron, the granddaughter of one of my high school classmates whom you do not know, represented Santa Lucia and served coffee, tea, and pastries to the masses who remained for our after service tradition. The real day for this is traditionally December 13, which was yesterday, as everyone knows. But, it was well received even though it was a day late.


Angel transported her irreplaceable English bone china to the church for use during the ceremony and it was accompanied by a lot of older folks holding their breath while young people carried their drinks and pastries to their tables. Late in the evening, when Mom, Diane’s, was on the way to her car for her trip home, reported that she was very nervous when she saw me helping put the cleaned and dried china back into the boxes they came in. She was especially fearful when she saw me washing a priceless platter. Apparently I have a reputation for dropping and spilling things. IMG_0126

Here’s a little closer look at Angela, Santa Lucia, and her first customer, Declan. IMG_0127After all the china was safely returned to Angela & Randy’s vehicle, and everyone was leaving the building, we spied two bareback riders sauntering down the road by the church. In the field across the road another horse was making her presence known because she knew the riders and their aged steeds. They all live together over there. That would be Ethan and Jessie.

In the typical country fashion, we from the church wandered out into the middle of the road so we could talk with our newest friends, Ethan and Jessie. Every once in a while someone would shout out “CAR” and we would back away into the parking lot to allow the vehicle to pass then we’d wander back into the road so we didn’t have to talk so loud. It was a very nice visit.

Then we came home, ate stew, and watched 3 Christmas movies before Jean, Diane’s Mom, yelled “Uncle” and demanded to be returned to the quiet of her own home.

That’s about it for today. It was a good one. The sun shined all day, and it was beautiful. We all feel incredibly blessed.


Why do you suppose it is that some of our more notable Americans, who fight all comers to supposedly abolish racism, simply ensure that racism remains alive and well in America by stoking the fires that ignite prejudice? Job security would be my guess. If they were truly dedicated to fighting for their cause, they would look at both sides of an issue before immediately jumping on the band wagon of those who, as chance would have it, are the same color they are.

Go figure.

Wind, Rain, & Candlelight

Yesterday it rained cats and dogs almost all day, and the temp ran around 50. The humidity also increased ensuring that pretty much everything exposed to outside air was wet. I hate that part. The humidity. It’s terrible stuff and not something we tried and true Oregonians are intimately familiar with. Unless, of course, we’ve lived in parts of the world where humidity is just part of the daily routine.

This morning I awoke at 0730, an unusually late hour for me considering the dogs’ proclivity for normally exiting our domain at a much easier hour. Guess they’re getting attuned to sleeping in which is a good thing.

At 0900 I joined Jeff, Larry, Everett, and Ron for coffee at the Kozy Korner like most of us do every Thursday morning. That’s our MELCA group which is the opposite of WELCA in many ways. We solved a number of world problems while I ate the breakfast Diane insisted that I must order. Apparently I’m not going to be allowed to have just coffee in the morning any longer. It’s worked OK for a lot of years so I don’t see why I have to change now, but I will do as she asks like the good husband that I am.

Speaking of opposites … did you know that irony is the exact opposite of wrinkly?

After departing the austere presence of the MELCA group, I returned home to discover that it was so nice outside that Diane decided it was spring, at least for a while. Long enough for me to check the gutters, and to wash a bunch of windows and patio doors that exhibited stark evidence of animal feet and noses, and little kids hand prints. It was a simple task and one I wouldn’t have had to do if the sun hadn’t been out and shining through the windows at just right angle for Diane to see the mess. I must admit that they look much better, now. It was truly the calm before the storm during this time

When Diane got busy steam cleaning the kitchen and hallway, shaking rugs, and vacuuming bits of debris, I opened the box our UPS Man delivered this morning. It was a Nest thermostat. I got an email, or note in the mail, offering to sell me one. I investigated and discovered that our system qualified, because the old thermostat has all the correct wires. I know this is true because I took a photo and sent it to and they told me.

Once they told me I was good to go, I ordered the new thermostat. It cost $219, which seems like a lot for a thermostat, but once I get it connected they will send me $200. So, for a wireless, control it from anywhere thermostat, it’s costing me 19 bucks. Seemed like a deal to me. It’s pretty nifty. You should check them out.

It’ now 5 PM now and the wind has been blowing most of the afternoon. Just like the weather people said it would. The power went away a couple of hours ago, and we probably won’t get it back for a while. Trees are blowing down all over the place. A huge oak tree at the end of our street blew over into the owner’s back yard, taking out a bedroom window and a lot of roof overhang with it. Not pretty.

While surveying damage from the downed oak tree, another neighbor came home and stopped to visit a bit. He’s a longshoreman and said they evacuated the docks in Portland because containers were getting blown over and off the stacks, and ships were breaking loose from their moorings. Portland always get it worse because at times like this the wind coming out of the Columbia River Gorge is pretty intense. We’re a bit further out so don’t get it as bad, thankfully.

I put this away for a while and enjoyed the candle lit ambiance of our home with the power outage. It was really quiet, too, except for the howling wind which lasted most of the last 6 hours. Now it’s gone, and out power has been restored.

Just in time for bed, but here’s some photos to commemorate the day …

Here’s the downed oak tree


Diane and her headlight so she could work in the basement. She’s having an Avon sale at the church tomorrow in case you’re interested.

Lydia and Jennifer showed up, too, but I couldn’t find Jennifer in the dark. At one point she was carrying a candle around the house looking for stuff.IMG_1167