Golf & Going to Wal*Mart

Today it didn’t rain, again. That’s, like, 3-4 days in a row that it hasn’t rained. Things are still pretty wet, though, because we are smothered in thick fog most of the time because of our proximity to the mighty Columbia River. Typical for this time of year. The fog, however, doesn’t keep the avid golfers among us off the links. No siree. They go out there with lots of faith that once they hit their balls they’ll be able to find them. I, of course, go along just for the fun of it because I’m kinduva golf sheep. You, know, the one who just follows the crowd.

So, a 10am appointment was firmed up for this morning. Before doing that, however, I had to visit the local lab to donate blood to ensure my drug levels were within tolerance for someone my age. They were also testing my BS level to see if it’s out of whack. I think it was so the doc could check my blood sugar, too, but that’s a guess.

I was only a few minutes late to tee off so all was well since none of us are ever in much of a hurry. As I was paying my $10 green fees I spied a nice pair of Nike golf shoes that were on sale. I’ve never in my life purchased a new pair of golf shoes. I’ve never ever purchased new clubs or new balls, either. All my stuff is donated or purchased at Good Will. I’m a seriously cheap golfer. Today, however, these shoes kind of called my name. Damn those shoes. I was on my way out the door when I heard them call to me. So, I picked them up and saw that they were size 10 1/2 and they appeared to be the same length as my sneakers when I put them sole to sole, so decided to try them on. I knew it was a mistake, but I couldn’t help myself because on the box it said they were waterproof. During winter golf in sneakers your feet get really wet in a very short period of time so you’re wet and cold right out of the shoot.

The shoes felt pretty good which surprised me because my sneakers are size 9 1/2 so I put them both on, paid for them and headed out the door. They felt really good and they proved their worth on the first tee when my feet didn’t slip even one bit. Better yet, while walking down the fairway through extremely wet grass my feet remained dry. I was ecstatic about that and decided that I would try really hard to shoot something less than 60, a lofty goal for me.

By the time we got to the third tee the fog was going away and there were spots of blue sky peeking through the gaps.


As we played I got more and more tired, but my feet were dry. The score was competitive amongst us three and I was optimistic about obtaining my goal. On the sixth green it was evident that Doug was getting tired, too, when he did this after his last putt …

IMG_1345When he tried to put the flag in his bag he noticed something was wrong.

On the 7th hole you would have thought we were all playing cart golf. That’s where everyone hits to the same area so there isn’t a lot of driving or walking involved to continue. We made almost a perfect triangle …

IMG_1346Mine is the one on the left. That’s not important. Just thought you should know which one was mine.

When all the math was done, I wound up with 59, meeting my goal to beat 60, and my feet were totally dry. It was a good day.

When I got home Diane wanted to dress up and go to Wal*Mart to get some important stuff and a Subway sandwich. The sandwich was the most important part because we were both pretty hungry. The blood I donated in the morning was a fasting version and I hadn’t eaten anything of substance for about 15 hours. I was due for sustenance.

Here’s how we got there …


IMG_1354We actually didn’t make it all the way to the store because Diane was cold. It was like 37 degrees outside, but it was sure pretty. She stopped and we put the top back up before finishing our business.

As I write this, Diane is off playing bunco at Grace Baptist Church, which I thought was illegal, leaving me home all alone to figure out what to eat for supper. Guess I’ll go do that now.

Leaky Winnie, Nurse Sarah, & # 700 !

Today is the day I must fill in the hole to cover the new water supply line that was rammed through the foundation. The ditch in the yard is already filled and the sod was placed willy nilly because it kept falling apart while I was moving it. After pounding it into the soft soil with the nifty dirt tamper thingy it looks pretty good.

A couple of days ago, after two days of sunshine, I smeared a bunch of sealant around on top of the old Winnebago to stop a persistent leak that was giving me fits. When it rained the next time I was gratified to see I hit all the holes so there was no more leak. The next step is to fire it up and get it down to the Fred Meyer gas station so I can cash in on the $.45 a gallon credit we’ve built up buying bagels and whatnot this month. That will bring the price down to around $1.50 a gallon. Should be able to fill both tanks because I think they have a 75 gallon limit. We’ll see. Tomorrow. Maybe.

I discovered that Nurse Sarah was having a good time in Las Vegas recently, all the way from Connecticut, and I’m happy for her and the stranger she’s been hanging out with. One of these days, perhaps, we’ll get to be in the same vicinity so we can provide validation of her choices, and maybe even learn what his name is. I know she’s already got that from the right side of the country but it won’t be official until the left side has their say. Ya know?

Last Sunday we had what I thought would be my last Annual Meeting at our church as the iron fisted ruler. However, the meeting went so well, that I opted for another year. I don’t think anyone will try to unseat me from my throne of authority but if they do they’ll be in for the slap-fight of their life. Well, not really. I’ll happily step down for anyone willing to step up if they can knock me off my mountain. No, actually, I’ll gladly step aside and serve out my remaining time as a loyal minion.

For an added note of interest, this is my 700th post on this senseless blog.

Winter Golf

As I walked to the 1st tee, I could see Doug & JP limbering up their stoved up extremities in preparation for that first crucial hit of the day. It’s always a challenge, that first drive, but they almost always hit it down the middle so the ball winds up somewhere in the mud at the bottom of the first hill. We’ve learned that hitting high drives isn’t conducive to finding that first drive because it will invariably bury itself in the muck and become a lost ball. In the middle of the fairway. Just one of the challenges we face on every trip around the course.

To the right of the 1st tee box is a pasture where cows roam, sometimes wandering over to the fence to watch us play, hoping we’ll hit it over their heads so they’ll have something to add to their collection of balls. I generally do that, but not today.

Instead, I line myself up, cock my arms and fire away, driving the ball about 8 feet off the ground toward the left side of the fairway, where the trees are. Trees are another one of my downfalls. I almost always wind up in a forest. This time, however, my ball rolled through all of those trees to the bottom of the hill leaving me a clear 2nd shot to the left toward the hole. After Doug & JP duff a couple of shots, I take aim with my unreliable 5-wood and fire away. It’s a good connection and the ball sails up as planned and through some straggly little branches of a birch tree which slows the ball just enough to stop it at the top of the hill.

Ahead of me the fairway goes out and dips into another soggy mess before rising again to the green which is still about 300 yards away. Using my 5-wood again, I make it to the bottom of the hill, duff it a couple of times before making it to the green, and 2-putt for a 7. Not bad since it’s a par 5 and I usually wind up with a 10. Doug & JP do much better with a 5 & 6. They’ll do whatever it takes to beat me, but I don’t mind.

The 2nd hole is only 156 yards and is reachable with a 6-iron for those who can actually hit it the direction they think they are aiming. That’s not me, at all. I only know the general direction my ball will go, but I can hit it a long ways on the rare occasions when everything comes together. Today wasn’t one of those. My ball sailed safely into the trees, but in such a manner that I was able to find it without much trouble. Both Doug & JP were just short of the green in the middle of the fairway. Typical of them.

Oddly, even though I was in the trees, I had a fairly safe shot to the green. I didn’t make it, but it could have been done by pretty much anyone else. I got on the green with my sand wedge, one of my favorite clubs, and only had to putt three times ending with a 6 for this par 3. Doug & JP had 4 & 5.

Hole number 3 is a long par-4 with an added challenge of a swamp to the right, and a stream to the left, that curves in front of the elevated green. With a good drive, you can make it across on the 2nd shot, then 3-putt for a 5. I’ve done that once. Today, however, was a typical shot to the creek on the left, duff for 15-20 feet, then a good fairway shot that falls 1.5 feet short of the green, landing in the creek, then a chip from the line of sight location, and a rare 2-putt for an 8. Doug & JP end nonchalantly with a 5 & 7.

The 4th hole is a dog-leg right, around a very tall forest. At this time of year these trees have no leaves so it’s possible, with lots of luck, to shoot right through them with no problem. All the leaves on the ground, however, make finding your ball impossible ir you don’t make it. I’m almost always out in the middle of those threes and have had some success zigzagging my way through them to the back of the green. This hole is also par-4 so I’m resigned to my normal 8, but surprise myself by playing safe and getting back to the fairway on my first shot, then hitting the sand trap, and successfully getting it from there to the green on the first try. So, it’s on in 4 and a 2-putt for six. Doug & JP get 5-6, so I finally tied JP on a hole! I should have quit then when it appeared I was on the way to better things. But, hole 5 beckoned us.

The cart path wanders past the only toilets on the course but they can’t be used because they are locked with chains and padlocks. It doesn’t matter because we always use the bushes anyway, normally at the back of the tee box on #4. It’s relaxing for us to stand there, letting go, and talking about trivial things. It seems appropriate.

Number 5 is a long par-4 dog-leg left around another small forest. Doug & JP almost make the edge in the middle of the fairway and I hit a line drive right at the next to last tree before the corner. When I get to my ball I decide to play it safe and just hit ahead to the corner so I will have a clear shot to the green. Normally I just plow my way through the trees which, in years past, I could actually hit over. My shot to the corner kind of worked on the third shot, and I continued on to the green. My 4th shot was just a little ways past the pin and about 10 feet off the green on the low side meaning I’d have to make another iffy chip shot before I could safely do my standard 3-putt. Which I did.

At #6, a dog-leg right, I fluffed a couple of shots off the green but they didn’t count because the agreed upon DCTO rule was in effect. My third try was much better, but still hit a tree and landed right next to JP’s ball. He played safe, but I, once again, chose to ignore the trees with expected results. I finally ricocheted my way to the green and wound up with only a 2-putt to end it. Both Doug and JP worked their way down the fairway with much better results.

Hole 7 is a fun 3-parr because you must hit across a valley of sorts to reach the green. JP hit about halfway up the hill toward the green, as did I, and Doug made it to the top, but to the right of the green, behind a tree. Somehow I was able to make it to the green in two more shots, as did JP & Doug. We all 3-putted, the only tie of the day for me, I believe. That was my success of the day.

The 8th hole is a long dog-leg right and the first leg is all downhill and flattens out at the corner to the green. The ideal shot, which I’ve done more than once, is to hit all the way to the bottom where a good golfer can make the green in two. I’ve also done that, but it’s rare. This day it took me three shots to reach the bottom, another two to turn the corner, then I shot a wedge that actually hit the green making it necessary for me to repair the dent my ball made, a task I’m not overly familiar with. I usually roll on the green from somewhere out on the fairway. From there I 2-putted and headed for #9. Doug & JP both had difficulty with 8 but not as much as I did.

Just for fun, even though I didn’t have honors, not something we ordinarily observe, I teed off first and whacked my ball over the hill that rises up to the elevated fairway from the tee box. I hardly ever make the top without sailing 2-3 balls off into the ditch to the right that is out-of-bounds. When that happens we don’t count them because of the DCTO rule. Both Doug & JP made it over the top, too, just like they normally do.

My second shot went a bit right, behind the copse of birch trees but they still aren’t too tall for me to hit over, which I did. My ball headed for the sand trap and was stopped by a rake that was left in just the right spot to keep my ball from rolling all the way in. A chip, and three putts later I had my customary 7. Doug & JP, or course, made their way down the middle of the fairway just fine and ended much better. But, after applying the Gimmees and Mulligans that I hadn’t used I still wound up with a respectable 39 for this round, beating them both because neither of them are allowed either of those handicap helpers.

So, there you have it. A typical round of golf on a beautiful Oregon day.

IMG_0692 IMG_0701 IMG_0709 IMG_0678

Doug in a Ditch I Dug, & Diane

Just when I thought everything was going perfectly, I discovered there was a leak in our water line between the new meter that was installed, and the house. I notified the water department asking them to please visit and convince me that installing the new meter wasn’t the reason for the leak. They come up and we had a nice conversation during which they proved to my satisfaction that there were no leaks at the meter. That was disappointing news because it meant I would have to dig around in the yard to find the problem area. A daunting task. I had visions of holes all over the place and the trouble I’d be in if that actually happened.

So, I decided to dig down to the input pipe next to the house hoping I wouldn’t have to dig up the year at all. Grabbing a shovel I got to work. The input into the house is through the basement foundation about 3 feet below ground level. To get there required that I hack my way through the root structure of some really old rhododendron bushes that I dismantled a couple of years ago. Finding the water line may result in the demise of one or more, but that’s OK. I never liked them anyway. Then again, I’ve also discovered that it’s really hard to kill one of those things so they may be just fine.

At the level predicted, I encountered the old water line that was installed, I’m sure, when the house was built in 1957, a good year for Chevys. The 58-year-old pipe I found was very rusty and appeared to be a serious candidate for springing a major leak. Fearing the worst, I sprang to my feet and rushed to ACE Hardware to get the parts I needed to correct this potentially expensive situation.

Upon my return I went to the basement to shut off the water to the house. Normally the whole house cutout valve is located outside the home, but not here. It’s located just above the basement work bench. Then I killed the water on the city side of the meter so I could disconnect the house side from the meter. By adding one crafty attachment to the house side, I was able to attach my new water line hose. At the house, I connected the other end of the hose to the outside spigot that’s conveniently located almost directly above the input water line. Going back to the house cut out valve that’s inside the house, you may wonder why I turned it off. Well, as it turns out, that cut out valve is located below the outside spigot so by connecting the new water line house to the spigot turned the spigot into the house supply point. Here’s what I wound up with.


I figured my task was done. I bypassed the rusty old pipe, got water flowing into the house again, and when everything was turned off, the meter didn’t spin like it did before. Then I suddenly remember that I was married and that there was no way having the hose strung across was going to be a good thing. I called my lawyer and was able to negotiate a deal that would allow the hose to stay in place temporarily while I dug a proper ditch that would allow me to install a proper water line. The only driving factor for completion is the weather … considering the hose is above ground, freezing temperatures could prove to be problematic.

About this time my friend Doug called and offered to lend his considerable talents to help me resolve this problem. Actually, he called before and was the one who suggested the temporary hose solution. I cannot deny him that success because it was an awesome suggestion. So awesome, in fact, that it could easily be a permanent solution in a warmer climate.

This morning Doug arrived at 0900 to assist me with a proper ditch into which we can stuff a new direct line to the house. We began by laying out a huge tarp onto which we laid the sod we removed from the path we chose from the meter to the house. Then it was time to begin the ditch. Doug chose to work in the ditch I’d already dug next to the house, hence the title to this little ditty. I started digging deep at the meter, piling the excavated dirt onto the aforementioned tarp. As we worked in our respective ditches it occurred to me that we represented over 140 years of life experience in the course of our tasks. I pointed this out to Doug and we both concurred that it was time to take a break. It was time for lunch anyway, so we went in to eat soup with Diane.

The afternoon stretch, after lunch, found us moving a bit slower and taking breaks more often to chat. Soon we were chatting more than working so figured it was time to call it a day, which we did. We were dirty and our boots were caked with mud so it took a little bit of time for us to make ourselves presentable enough to administer a proper adios to each agreeing to reconvene another day that is yet to be determined. Doug commented to Diane that he was afraid I’d go to work on it without him and thereby take all the credit for the big finish. I wouldn’t do that. You know that, right?

After I scraped myself clean, then took a shower, putting the temporary waterline hose to the test, I relaxed for a bit and watched the New England Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens. Then I made us BLTs for supper and we watched the Seattle Seahawks take out the Carolina Panthers. When that was over we switched channels to watch the Portland Blazers play the Orlando Magic. As I rattle this keyboard, there are 33.5 seconds remaining and the Blazers are up by 7 points. In order to maintain their winning ways when they are ahead after three-quarters, they must maintain until the bitter end. Now there are 9.8 seconds remaining and it’s 103-92 Blazers and that’s where it ended.

Now, about Diane. She’s been battling terminal bronchitis for two weeks now and it pains me that there’s nothing I can do for her. She’s on antibiotics and they are helping, but not quickly enough for either of us. She gets exhausted coughing and watching her do that just wears me out. Please pray for her recovery so I won’t get so tired.


Happy 1515

Greetings to you all. If you are reading this I can only surmise that you survived whatever New Years celebration party you chose to attend, and that your gift of sight is still functioning. Could be, however, that some of you may have a third party reading this to you. Why anyone would do that is beyond me, but it could happen. I suppose.

It’s readily evident that Diane and I survived the festivities in good shape mainly because we avoided them. We watched the ball drop in New York, stayed up until 0100 New York time, then went to bed. A few revelers in the neighborhood popped off a few illegal fireworks to let everyone know they could read a clock and knew the precise moment when it turned to midnight. That’s OK. Happens every year the very same way, by the very same revelers. It’s expected to the point where the dogs didn’t even bark. They no longer bark on the 4th of July, either. They are self-taught, in this regard, with a lot of encouragement from we who no longer bark at fireworks.

Diane celebrated the 1st day of this new year by continuing the hacking and coughing cold I had over Christmas. I can share an informed guess that what she’s coughing up is a lot like the photo I shared in a previous post but she won’t share so that I can confirm.

As you may have guessed, not a lot transpired at this domain no New Years Day. Just waking up on the green side of the grass was a positive event. Actually, that’s a good one on any day. When it comes to waking up, green is good, you know. It’s also a primary color in the Oregon Ducks uniforms. Normally.

Speaking of the Ducks … their uniforms are quite the topic of conversation over here in the Far West because of the lack of color. My first take on them was, “where’s the yellow ‘O’, or the green one?” For the the inaugural NCAA championship game they are  gray and silver. After my initial disappointment I gave it a little thought and realized that the uniforms look like something a warrior might wear. Quite stunning, and appropriate. It’s going to be a good game and history will be made because, gee, there isn’t an ACC or SEC team involved which goes against everything the BCS computers stood for; those computers that everyone knows were developed and maintained by a Booster Club somewhere in Alabama.

January 2nd I attended the first Veteran’s Breakfast of the year mainly because Diane, between very productive coughs, insisted I go. It was a good visit with some old guys who used to wear uniforms for a living. Doing this meant I had to get up early and be ready to eat at 0800, something a little beyond normal for me. But, I did it. I couldn’t stay for the entire event because I had to be somewhere at 1000. I can’t remember what that was about, but I know I was on time.

On Saturday I left Diane at home, picked up her Mother, Jean, and joined Barb and Ron at the church so we could dismantle the Christmas tree and get it outside before it decided to spontaneously combust and burn the building down. That didn’t happen so it was a successful day. Also, I didn’t fall off the ladder which was a good thing because I’ve learned that as I increase in age my ability to bounce when I fall is drastically diminished. I’m sure that’s true for all of us. We just kind of land and jiggle for a bit. Then, when all motion has ceased, we evaluate our extremities to see what does and does not work. Sometimes a weak “ouch” or two escapes before the jiggling stops, but not always. Sometimes there isn’t enough air available for that until much later. There may have been times where I was unconscious but I don’t remember them.

Sunday found me at church with Diane’s Mom, Jean, to get the New Year off to a good start. I’m sure something else happened Sunday, but I can’t remember what it was. Surely there was a point in time where I made a light lunch for my bride as the next step in her recovery. At that point she didn’t have much of a voice because of the congestion, so I just fixed her something that I thought sounded like what she asked for. I think it might have been fried eggs and toast, one of her favorite comfort food groups.

Later in the evening I got a text from Whitney, the girl next door, asking me to please let her dogs out because she had taken Scott, the boy next door, to the emergency room to address an emergent medical condition. I did that for them. The dog’s names are Taylor and Trigger and they are well-behaved. It was raining but they didn’t mind. I let them run around for a while, fed them, gave them water, had them visit with out dogs for a while, but ushered them back to their cage in the garage. They went in with no problem. Good dogs.

Monday I got up fairly early and let the dogs out again and just left them out to run because they don’t run away even though one of them is still a puppy. By doing this I learned that they are both quite good excavators when they plowed up the flower beds along the basement wall on the south side of the house. It was a really nice job. I later learned that they had also expressed their love of dirt by churning up the raised flower beds out front. They had fun. Lots of it. Then they took their dirty little feet back into their cage with no complaint.

I worried about Scott all day Monday and was happy when he was released back into the wild before the sun set. At that time Cedric showed up so he could make a Power Point presentation for his church youth group. That was good because it meant he’d be there to help his Grandma get off the floor in the event she fell down while I was gone to our Lions Club meeting. We had a program presenter from Harlyn Medical which is an innovative company conveniently located in St. Helens. Our presenter was the company’s Chief Marketing Officer who, also conveniently, is the son of one of our club members. This young man and the rest of the executive team for the company is bringing cutting edge technology with a global impact home to St. Helens. Pretty cool.

Now it’s Tuesday, garbage day. Thankfully I remembered to put the cans out yesterday allowing me to avoid another early morning reason to get out of my pajamas. No, not that, but a reason to go outside before noon.

Did I mention that we sold the old 1973 Winnebago? Probably not because that happened Sunday, also. I just remembered. We sold it just two days after advertising it on Columbia County Buy Sell Trade internet site. It worked so well that I will be taking pictures of lots of things to post for sale, but next will be our 1996 Subaru. If  all goes well, in a couple of weeks we should be able to clean out at least one layer of “things” that are littering the basement floor, and lots of other stuff throughout the house that I don’t recognize. Then, in a couple of years we’ll remember we had something that was really useful at one time and know it’s in the basement somewhere but we can’t find it. Then we’ll buy another one, not remembering that we sold one just like it, a couple of years ago, for about half what we paid for the new one that could very well be the old one since it was purchased at a thrift store. I guess that’s kind of the circle of life for most “stuff”.

Now I must rest because I took Mom Jean shopping this afternoon. Diane sent me with a list and I got everything she wanted. That makes today a success.

Now … who figured out the 1515 reference in the title?