LL Stub Stewart State Park

Camping at LL Stub Stewart — August 31 and later

It was a close call, but we escaped from St. Helens without being stopped by the law. That was accomplished by taking the main roads instead of backroads like they apparently thought we would. And, that’s what we normally do.

Our desired destination was LL Stub Stewart State Park where we intend to hide for the next few days, then we’ll sneak our way back to our main domicile and get on with the daily struggle with the COVID pandemic.

I’m not taking the pandemic lightly which may be why our little neck of the woods is pretty much safe. We don’t go anywhere there are crowds, something we’ve done for years, so it’s ingrained in our behavior and druthers that we be left alone. When I do go out amongst the people, I find myself holding my breath whenever I pass someone. I don’t think about it, it just happens. As long as I don’t encounter a long line of people I should be OK.

Here at Stub Stewart it’s 70 degrees. I know that’s true because I looked at the thermometer I packed. It’s an indoor/outdoor thing that was laying around the house. It worked until I checked to see if it needed new batteries then it mysteriously quit. I figured it must have heard what I planned and decided it wanted new batteries. I was happy to oblige and it worked great. People should listen to their electronic doodads more often.

Diane and I are sitting on our roll-up patio just listening to the quiet. It’s very lovely.

It’s quiet at home, mostly, but somehow the quiet here is just a little bit different. Makes the trip worth while.

Driving over took a long time because every time we saw a car I got off the main road to avoid capture. There are a lot of cars on Highway 26 so there was a lot of hiding going on.

You’re probably wondering why we’re hiding, but I’m not going to tell you because that would make you complicit. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than being complicit. There isn’t enough olive oil on the planet to make the itch go away. So, I’m saving you from a lot of aggravation.

Just as we were leaving Scappoose, after adding fuel to the tank, we discussed whether or not we were hungry enough to visit the nearby Burger King or really dig deep and get something from McDonald’s. We decided that the trip would be short enough that we could do with an energy bar of some sort. I had some in my golf bag that are pretty old, but still good, but Diane had new ones so we each had one. It was just perfect and was something I could eat while dodging the police.

I’m getting hungry now. So is Diane. She said so. Apparently I’m eating a frozen TV dinner that fell out of the freezer when Diane was checking everything after I parked the rig. She caught it and said, “that’s your dinner” which is why I know that’s what she’s going to feed me. That’s OK because I like TV dinners. Alot. We were going to have steak for dinner but when Diane went shopping to stock the RV it was $15 a pound. She said I wasn’t worth $15 a pound for steak and didn’t buy any. That’s another reason I’m eating a TV dinner.

The Dish TV antenna zeroed right in on all the right channels for me because I knew exactly where to put it. We’re in the same spot as the last time we visited here and I put a big X on the grass where the antenna needed to go in case we ever returned. Makes things easier for Diane because her main objective for selecting a site is to ensure it has an unobstructed Southern view so the antenna can ‘see’ all the satellites it needs to ‘see’. Sometimes I have to drag my 76-year-old body up the ladder to the roof to make that happen (get an unobstructed view) which is getting trickier every day. She stays inside when I climb that ladder because she’s afraid I’ll fall and doesn’t want to see that happen. She just listens for a THUD which is her clue that 911 might be necessary. Before calling, however, she always goes out to see what the noise was. So far we’ve avoided the need for an ambulance. Except that time when Diane crashed her bike.

We brought the bikes this time so she can “get back on that horse,” if you know what I mean. She broke her wrist the last time she tried so is a little leary going down that road even thought it’s been two years. It was a very painful event for her. Not only because of the pain of the break, but also because it happened near a bunch of yurts and an entire herd of yurt people rushed over to see what happened. It was probably the most excitement they had all week. If she isn’t able to get the bike going, she knows what the training wheels will look like. I looked some up and showed them to her. Either that, or get her a different bike. Or a scooter. There is absolutely no pressure on her to ride again. I’d like her to try, but if it is difficult I’ll do whatever she wants to make it OK. That’s because I love her, and I’m just a little bit afraid of her when she gets mad at me. I’m not going to make her mad.

What I’m writing is pretty dumb stuff, I know. But the words are just flowing out of my fingers as I sit in my reclining lawn chair while Diane cooks.

It only takes 4 minutes to cook a TV dinner so I’m stopping now to wash my hands and be ready when it hits the table.

As she always does, Diane brought along a small carrot cake. We both really like carrot cake. I didn’t take a piece when she was cutting hers so was surprised to find this when I felt it was time:

Really, who cuts a round cake like that? Diane, obviously. She said she didn’t want all that frosting. I guess that makes sense, in a way.

—- pretend there was a delay here —-

Since that last entry we’ve been pretty busy. We both got a good night’s sleep, got up early, and drove to the Vernonia Golf Club to play golf with Doug. Yes, he drove all the way out there to meet us for a super round of golf. Actually, we drive out there sometimes for our regular weekly games. It only takes about an hour.

Sadly, he was disappointed about the “super” aspect of the game because he was the only one who attained that level. He had a 49. Together, Diane and I had a stunning 130, or something like that. That’s for 9 holes, people. But, we had a really good time. The weather was great and there was hardly anyone there but us so no pressure.

This is Diane and Doug looking for my ball in a wild patch of vegetation:

I helped and I actually found it. It was suspended about 3 inches off the ground in an especially tenuous bush.

I hit it from there just for fun. I normally toss bad hits like this back in the fairway, but this one looked like fun. So, I hit it and it worked out OK.

Here’s Diane at bat:

After golf Doug headed to Hillsboro to buy a new clothes washer and we went ‘home’ to our RV for lunch. On the way, we went past our section of the camp ground to the end of the road where there are no lights so the stars are really visible. At night. Oddly, there’s a sign on a gate going in to the last section that states “No Stargazing 7am to 9pm”. Kinda weird, don’t you think?

On the way back down the hill we turned in to a section of the park that opened on September 1st. Just wanted to look it over and confirm that it’s the section we camped in with the family when it first opened in 2007. Indeed it was and we found Les and Sophie and had a short chat with plans to connect on Wednesday after supper for a fireside visit.

As for lunch, I can’t remember what I ate, but it was good.

While laying in my chair, waiting for dinner to settle, I got to wondering where my phone was. I misplace it all the time and a search of the RV and the car revealed that I had done a stellar job of misplacing it this time.

Thankfully, Diane has this nifty app on her phone (Life360) that she uses to keep track of me and discovered it was still at the golf course. Apparently I left it in the golf cart they loaned me.

So, back we went to the course to see if we could retrieve it. When we got there, just before 6 pm, I approached a gentleman by the office who said, “Looking for a phone?” to which I answered, “Yes” and he led me into the building to get it off the counter. In all, the phone was officially missing from me for about 20 minutes, but it had been at the golf course for about 7 hours. It’s nice to know there are still honest people in the world.

Today, Wednesday, we drove to Banks to look around thinking we might find a thrift store. But, we didn’t. Banks is a really nice little town (2,500 pop) and it’s obvious that the residents like their town. It was pretty spiffy.

There was no thrift store but we enjoyed touring the small town, then returned ‘home’, ate lunch, then just laid around, avoiding the heat.

Lunch was delayed for a bit while we cleaned up the remnants of the microwave turntable which Diane took out and threw on the floor in a frenzy. That’s not true, of course. It was a total accident. She was removing the syrup she heated up for the waffles the the wire rack for use during the convection cooking periods caught on the turntable. On its way to the floor, the turntable hit the handle of the skillet I used to cook her eggs and the eggs were still in it. The skillet flipped up in the air, separated from the eggs and everything landed on the rug, side by side, just after the turn table landed and broke to smithereens. Diane immediately said “I can still eat the eggs” but I wouldn’t let her. She barely argued when I took them away from her. I was pretty sure she was kidding, but didn’t want to take a chance.

We were both barefoot, standing in a sea of minuscule pieces of glass shards and it took a couple of minutes for either of us to move.

After rolling up the rug that was in front of the stove, I cooked the replacement eggs and we ate. Sadly, I failed to take photos. You would have liked them.

After eating, then spent a great deal of time watching the 2nd part of a Hallmark movie we had recorded. What made it difficult was the hard drive I set up as the DVR for our Dish receiver was EOL. That is a valid acronym. Look it up. One of the choices will be End Of Life. Because of it’s advance age, and maybe because it had been on for a couple of months, the playback kept freezing at different spots so we finally just gave up and removed the drive from the system and watched regular TV. With commercials.

Actually, the hard drive was long past EOL. I salvaged it from an old Apple Time Machine that just quite working about six or seven years ago. As I do with most things that quit working, I tore it apart to see what made it tick. In the end I had a pile of a case not worth keeping, a bunch of electronic parts, and this 1TB hard drive that looked OK to me even though it was around 10 years old. That’s ancient for a hard drive.

Going on faith, I purchased a case for the drive that had a USB connection which I plugged in to my Dish receiver. When I did that, the Dish perked up and asked if I wanted to format the drive to serve as a DVR? Of course I pushed the Yes button. Doing that started the process of setting it up and when it was finished I was informed using it would add $10/month to my bill. That was expected, so OK.

That was a few years ago so I’m totally happy that it lasted as long as it did. I can get a replacement 1TB drive for about $60 and that’s my next project.

This afternoon, after supper, we drove all the way up the hill to Dairy Creek Campground East from Dairy Creek Campground West, to visit Les and Sophie. They are about 300 feet apart, but we drove. It’s up hill.

Now we’re home again and winding down for our last night in the park. Then it’s back to the real home for a couple of weeks before we will be forced to take off again. Next time it will be Fort Stevens State Park at the coast.

It’s a rough life.

Really.

Politics, Demonstrations, and/or Riots

I’ve tried very hard to stay away from political commentary because I’m more comfortable with frivolous ‘stuff’. Oddly, the political aspect of life, in my opinion, is becoming more frivolous each day to the point where, again in my opinion, it’s just one big joke that we, the tax payers, must fund. Seems to me that we should have more say in what’s being done.

The standard answer to that is usually, “you have a say with your vote” but I disagree. Sure, I can vote but it really doesn’t count because once elected, whoever I vote for picks their path and marches merrily down it without consideration for the promises they made. They make decisions using their far superior judgement as to what it best for ‘We the People.’

Sorry. That’s not me. Let’s talk about Demonstrations and Riots.

Nah, let’s not. I’ll leave those topics for the professional folks. I’ll stick to topics I’m familiar with and that I find fun.

Like, I just sneezed and look what I found.

Or, It’s August and I need a nap.

Condiments, Hot Weather, and Tillamook

So, Diane went to Taco Bell yesterday and got me a couple tacos and a burrito. Knowing I like the hot sauce she asked for some and got this:

Ya gotta wonder how doing this affects overhead for this establishment. Just a little bit of waste.

Well, not really a waste, I guess, because I gave them to Baylee who loves hot sauce on pretty much everything. Yesterday she made a sandwich of two pieces of toast that she doused liberally with Cholula Hot Sauce. Nothing else … just two pieces of toast covered in Cholula smashed together. Makes my mouth hurt thinking about it. Sadly, I failed to capture video evidence of this one, but I have no doubt she will do it again in the near future.

The weather has turned nasty up here in Oregon. Temperatures have been around 100 for the past few days. The good side of that is Diane won’t let me work outside when it’s that hot because she apparently doesn’t want me to die of heat stroke. For that, I’m happy. It’s also a reason for me to just lounge around in my jammies all day.

Last Friday, the 14th, we returned from a week long visit to the Tillamook Elks Lodge RV Park. In all, there were five RVs in our group so we were able to practice our social distancing each evening as we gathered for an illegal pot luck. We’re pretty comfortable with each other and have no fear of COVID-19 because we are very careful when out and about among people we do not know. We know they are safe courteous folks because they all drive Winnebagos. We used to, but they let us hang out with them anyway.

Cliff and Susie brought their cat, Dusty, who is pretty quick about escaping out the door when it’s open. Normally, when he’s allowed outside, he’s on a harness, but sometimes he just waits for the door to open and launches and runs under the motorhome. That causes Cliff to get active and chase him down. In this sequence, Cliff had to crawl under and extract him from the right front shock absorber:

This activity keeps Cliff in shape.

Note the sign next to Cliff.

Susan, Sophie, Susie, Carolann, Diane
Lunch at the Blue Heron. Looks nice, food was good, but the wind was blowing about 80 mph.
Fun with bubbles a few RVs down the road from us.

Since it was only five miles down Highway 101, we three remaining guys (the other two had already departed) went to Munson Falls State Park. It’s off the road a few miles and it’s a 1/4 mile hike from the parking lot, but a very easy walk. The falls are 300+ feet high. Since the weather has been very dry the falls were still pretty, but a little subdued. When the rains fall, they are amazing to see.

Cliff, Munson Falls, Terry
Munson Falls & Me – I believe I must shave. Again.

The last photo is from Cape Lookout State Park. This is where we were in March when the pandemic began.

Here we are, eating again. It’s something we do well together. Diane took the photo so the only evidence of her is the empty plate across the table from me.

Hope everyone is staying safe. We are, even with all the riots and such going on in Portland. We just don’t go there any more. Really sad.

Family Camp – 2020

Grace Baptist Church Family Camp is an event we attend every year as honorary Baptists. That’s mainly because we are related to some of the members and also because they just like us. The “also” is an opinion but I’m sticking with it.

We departed civilization on Tuesday, July 28th and completed the the trip, that normally takes about an hour, in about an hour. It’s really not that far away … just over the hill about 5 miles from Vernonia. Vernonia is only about 25 miles from home and Google maps thinks it’s only a 38 minute drive. What Google Maps doesn’t know is that the road is only 2 lanes and it’s very curvy. Therefore, I’ll stand by my claim that it’s about an hour away, which it truly is, unless Diane’s driving.

I will surely be in trouble for revealing that last bit …

The camp doesn’t officially begin until Friday but we die hards (the old people) arrive early to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before the children descend to make a joyful noise. We took three of them with us so we had a head start, and that’s just fine. They were good as gold the entire time.

Since Vernonia is only about 32 miles from Forest Grove, where the Sunset Grove Golf Course is, it was decided that I should meet Doug there Wednesday morning for golf. I figured, “What the heck, I’m in the area, so why not do that?” So, I did. Turns out that the golf course is closer to Scappoose, where Doug lives, than it is to Big Eddy. But, I made it on time and we had a wonderful time. We always do. I lost, of course, because I always do. You’d think that since I always keep score I’d win one once in a while. The trouble is, even with fudging the numbers a little, Doug still wins.

Back to camp …

Big Eddy Park is located along the Nehalem River just off Highway 47, the road from Vernonia to Clatskanie. Big Eddy Park and I go back a long ways to April 20, 1968, when my big brother, Jack, thought it would be a good idea for me to participate in the Nehalem River Boat Race. Seemed like a fun thing to do so I was all in. What wasn’t related until later was that as we passed under each bridge along the way he would drop half a case of beer to us. After a couple of bridges I figured out that it wasn’t really a race at all. It was just a reason to float down the river and drink beer.

The fact that I was getting married later that day was the primary reason for involving me in the ‘race’. Jack, you see, was my best man and it was his job to make the day memorable. He did that.

When we finally made it ashore at Big Eddy I admit I was ready for a nap. I had no idea what time it was, but I remember getting to the church in plenty of time for the ceremony and I totally remember the entire ceremony. It was awesome!

Back to camp, again …

Diane and I spent time around the camp fire with Daniel, Jennifer, Lydia, and Jeran, and anyone else who had a notion to join us. Yes, we were socially compliant, keeping our distance, but I’m pretty sure we could have sat a little closer because the fire surely burned up any virus bits that came into our area.

The kids, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie, ran wild all day, every day, until they got hungry. Then we fed them so they could go out for another round.

The bottom of the river throughout Big Eddy Park is covered with river rock. Those are the nicely rounded rocks that don’t kill your feet when you step on them barefoot unless you’re old like me. Then you wear shoes. Kids spend a lot of time looking for the pretty rocks when they aren’t actively floating around on an inner-tube. Here’s the best rock of the day that a little girl found:

Pure agate. Biggest one I’ve ever seen in the wile.

Here are my girls in a rare moment of inactivity …

Lydia, Gilligan, Baylee, Jerrie

Bronson even came along for a couple of days but had to leave because it was all a bit stressful for him.

Bronson

Diane made camping more homey with her kitty slippers …

Jennifer and Daniel cooked gourmet meals twice a day throughout the entire stay because they are on the Whole 30 diet …

I tried some of it and it was really good.

Jennifer braided hair for anyone who had hair long enough and wanted it done. Mine wasn’t quite there, yet, so i missed out. Little Jerrie didn’t, though …

Gilligan, Jeran, Daniel, and Lydia spent a lot of time running their long boards around the park. Lydia is the only one I could capture. The others were just too fast for me …

We came home last Sunday afternoon, when church service was over, then returned the children to their rightful owners, and took. naps.

Camping is hard work.

My Dentist’s Assistant

Lisa. That’s her name. Diane and I have known her for the last 31 years which is pretty amazing because I’m pretty sure she isn’t that old. It could be that I’m just a bad guesser, or that she’s really that old and just doesn’t look the part. Either way, she’s in a position where she can look up my nose at will when I visit my dentist because she’s got the left seat in all events with regard to my mouth’s continued good health.

Concerning looking up the nose … I’ve asked dental assistants and hygienists in the past if they look up people’s noses while they work and without fail they all say, “No!” With an exclamation point! I’m guessing that perhaps they may not have done it in the past, but by asking the question I instilled in them an urge to look. I’ve considered sticking colorful items in my nose to make it worthwhile for them to peek but Diane didn’t think that would be a good idea. So I’ve not done that. Yet.

This morning at 0745 I was parked outside the office and called the office to let them know I was parked outside. That’s the rule. There is no sitting in a waiting room until being called in for the appointment. Nope. Once checked in, we just sit in our vehicles until someone comes out to get us. Then we put on our masks as we’re escorted to The Chair. My mask is made of Sponge Bob material so it’s quite festive. Jennie made it for me.

It was Lisa who came to get me which pleased me because she’s pretty much family. I like that and I trust her implicitly.

The last time I was at the dentist, just a few weeks ago, it was Cheryl who came to get me because I was there to have my teeth cleaned and she’s my hygienist. It was during this cleaning that faulty teeth were found which necessitated today’s visit. It was either faulty teeth, or the Dr. had a car payment pending and needed a little help. Either way, it was necessary.

Lisa got me all prepped in The Chair, took an x-ray, then let the Dr. know I was ready when he was. While waiting for him Lisa held a little raffle out front to see who would give me the shot to deaden half my face. Tracey, the newest Hygienist in the office lost. Perhaps this task fell to her by default because she’s the new kid on the block and there wasn’t a raffle. In all honesty, Lisa asked if I wanted the Doc to give me the shot or if I was OK with someone picked at random. I told her I was OK with the random pick as long as she was pretty. I was pretty confident that it was OK for me to make that request because all the ladies in the office are pretty and they are all qualified. Really, they are. Ask Diane.

I was left alone for a while before Lisa return and went to work installing a ‘rubber dam’ in my mouth. Actually, that’s a small tarp that’s put in place for preparing a tooth for a crown. It’s there to catch all the debris created by the doctor as he grinds the offending tooth down to a little nub. The tarp also ensure the smoke from grinding down the tooth is funneled right up your nose to ensure you get the full effect of what’s happening. There’s nothing quite like the smell of burning ivory.

Once the grinding is done, and the smoke has cleared, the doctor uses a digitizing tool to capture an image of area, where the tooth used to be, which is input into a pretty nifty software tool that helps him create the crown. Once done he sends the results to their blacksmith shop, just around the corner in the next room, where a cutting machine gets to work manufacturing the new tooth that will be glued in place.

I waited a long time for Lisa to return, knowing it wasn’t a speedy process, but when she did it was bad news. She said they had to re-mill the tooth because the first one had a chip in it.

I waited another long time, taking a little nap, then Lisa returned with good news that the second time worked. She handed the new tooth to the doctor who did some preliminary grinding. When he put it in place it was pretty tight but he fixed that by removing it and doing some more grinding. Once he was satisfied he handed the new tooth to Lisa and left. List took the new tooth and put it in the oven, the final step for the tooth before adding glue. It has to be baked in a kiln to make sure it’s hard like a rock and it takes a while to cool down.

Long story short, the crown was glued in place, Lisa cleaned me up, and escorted me to the front desk where I was compelled to fork over my most recent Social Security check for services rendered. I had to do that because I don’t have dental insurance.

Then I went home. In all, I was strapped to The Chair for 3 hours wishing I had my iPad, but it was in the car with a nearly dead battery.

Once home I cooked all the necessary items I wanted for a breakfast burrito. I ate all of it then went outside and painted the front porch.

In a couple of hours I’ll go out and give it another coat and call it a day.

Serendipity

A week or so ago, someone’s adult Daughter received a phone call from a friend of her Mother-in-law who shared a story about a young 9-months-pregnant mother of two, 5 and 7. Her children are in foster care and she knew she would make a better choice to give her baby to a Christian family and give him a great life. She sought help from the Mother-in-law’s friend who, in turn, sought help from the adult Daughter.

The Adult Daughter immediately thought about engaging her pastor for assistance, but he wasn’t available. However, the Children’s Minister was.

After digesting the situation, and understanding the concern for an immediate need, the Children’s Minister ended the call saying she would call back soon.

When she did, it was with a solution to the problem.

It turns out the Children’s Minister and her husband took all of the necessary training for adopting a child through foster care last year, but they were never called to serve. Then the pandemic created a situation where officials were afraid to move anyone anywhere. So, the Minister’s family went without a call but continued to pray for an opportunity to provide a good home to a child in need, and a potential sibling for their own daughters, 5 and 7.

The Children’s Minister told the Adult Daughter the she and her husband wanted the baby. The entire situation was like a God Send in that it came at an opportune time for a family excited and ready for a child, and for the expectant mother who desperately wanted a loving family for her baby.

On the surface it appears there may have been a lot of twists and turns to this situation but in reality it only took two phone calls to ease the mind of a young mother, and raise up the spirits of another. All the potential possibilities of who to call for help resulted in a straight line from a problem to a solution in one day.

As of today, the baby has joined his new family and is doing fine, as is his birth mother, and his adoptive mother. That it all happened so fast is amazing.

If that doesn’t make you believe that higher powers were involved in the decisions of who to call, we need to talk.

With a little embellishment, this could be a very enlightening movie, don’t you think?

Jibberish

It’s now July 8, and I must get creative, but first I need food.

That’s a haiku poem. Really it is I know this. They don’t have to rhyme.

Actually, both of those are haiku. Not a planned one, but it kinda worked out. In case you don’t know, haiku poems consist of 3 lines in a 5-7-5 syllable format. It’s interesting to make words fit that pattern because you just never know what comes out. At least, I don’t.

Yesterday it rained buckets and buckets, after I got home from golf. Didn’t get rained on even one time on the golf course so it must have been fun, right? It was, even though I did my usual terrible game. To help with my frustration, I’ve started counting only the good strokes which allow me to wind up with a respectable score. I know, that doesn’t make sense because I’m not in competition with anyone so why bother, right? I think I’ll just skip the scorecard next time.

It’s supposed to start clearing up today so maybe I can mow the yard again. I kinda like following my exercise machine around the yard. Makes it pretty and Diane likes that.

Our 3 blueberry bushes are producing prodigious amounts of berries since we fenced them off from the deer. I could have done that in years past but figured the deer like the berries more than I did. That, and picking them is a lot like a job that must be done every day till they are all gone. The deer kept them neatly trimmed.

Yesterday afternoon Diane looked out the kitchen window and saw one of the neighbor’s small goats with his head through the fence around their garden chomping away on what I think was a potato bush. Maybe it’s just a plant. I don’t know. It just has lots of leaves and the goat really liked it. I went out and watched for a while, then let Jeff know what was going on so he could call Jen, the neighbor, so she might salvage part of the plant. In hindsight, I suspect I probably should have let them know sooner. Goats can eat a lot in a short period of time. I’m thinking about renting a couple of Jen’s goats to eat the blackberry bushes across the street where we park some of our vehicles. I’ve cut them down numerous times over the years but they just won’t go away. If you aren’t plagued with blackberries let me know. I’ll send you some. I’m pretty sure doing that would violate a bunch of laws, but I’m willing to chance it if you are.

Actually, I’m not. I won’t send them to you, but you are more than welcome to come visit and take with you as many of the vines as you wish when you leave. If you wait for another month, or so, you can pick some ripe berries and make me a pie which I will happily eat as I watch you toil. I’m really good at sitting around watching people toil. Just ask Diane. She’ll tell you I’m right. I’m a professional toil watcher.

On Monday Diane got up early so she could get me to my VA appointment in Hillsboro on time. Like normal, she dropped me off out front then made a beeline to her favorite store (Goodwill) up the street a ways.

I wandered up to the 3rd floor, arriving in plenty of time, only to learn that I really didn’t have an appointment. Well, I did, but it isn’t until July 28th. I was 22 days early. That’s kind of epic, don’t you think? I mean, people are either a little early or late by a matter of minutes, but 22 days? Really?

I didn’t call Diane right away to inform her that she got the appointment wrong on the calendar because I knew it would ruin her chi. I kinda do that unintentionally on a regular basis, ruin her chi, throughout the course of a week but not quite as profoundly as getting an appointment wrong by 22 days. Oh, and it wasn’t her that got it wrong. It was me.

Finally I called her and she answered while digging through a pile of clothes in children’s sizes that had just been made available. It would have been easier to report my mistake if she’d been in the book section instead. Nope. Had to catch her in the kids clothes.

I told her what I’d done then went outside to sit on the curb because I didn’t want to wear my little Sponge Bob mask any longer. I told her to take her time but she rushed right back to get me. Unfortunately, Goodwill isn’t far enough away from the VA facility to allow disappointment to fade away. Not even my bright and smiley face could make it better. Thankfully, she was hungry (hangry, actually) so she drove us to Elmer’s to see if it was open. It was, so we had breakfast. After coffee and a couple pieces of really crispy bacon, she was OK and we could safely continue with our day. The trip to town wasn’t a total waste. For me a trip anywhere with my bride is special. Even to a very early doctor appointment.

After we got home I think we both took naps. Going to the Portland area does that to us. Actually, getting up and walking around the house for a while does that. Naps a good.

Looking back a few paragraphs made me hungry so I’m feel the need to go fire up the stove and cook something. If I don’t I’m sure I’ll go into a diabetic coma and that’d make Diane a little cranky. It always does.

Stay safe and keep your distance.

4th of July & Other Stuff

Yesterday was the 4th of July, the day when everyone in our town gathers on the streets near our house to ignite all the fireworks they’ve accumulated since they became available in mid-June. There is speculation that some folks fire off rockets left over from last year but I’m pretty sure that isn’t true because the noise begins on July 1st with a few sticks of dynamite being ignited sporadically every few hours. The tempo increases each day until the 4th when it seems to become a competition to see who can make the most noise until everyone runs out of ammo.

Prior to enjoying the neighbors noise, Diane and I went downtown for a flag raising ceremony at the old court house. That’s done at 1:30 pm, prior to the bell ringing at 2:00 pm. The American Legion Post 42 in St. Helens, to which I belong, provides the manpower to ring the bells all over town at facilities that have bells to ring. They are in churches, and the fire department mainly, in addition to the bell near the public docks in front of the old court house. That one is from the old Warrior Rock lighthouse up the river a ways from St. Helens. The bell was moved and was replaced by a new one at some point in the past.

That’s the bell I’ve been ringing for a number of years but Roger has taken over that job because I was a bit late one year. So I just go along to help Roger count to 13. That’s what we do with the ringing – 13 times starting at 2:00 pm, one strike for each of the original colonies.

This is Roger and me.

Me and Roger

I know. We look the same except he trims his beard, I don’t.

For reference, this one is of my Bride and me. Diane doesn’t have a beard.

Technically, anything that attains a lofty altitude, then explodes, is illegal in Oregon, but those devises are readily available in Washington which is just a hop and a skip away over the river. So, anyone willing to spend a small fortune on things that go boom, loads up and returns home to share with their neighbors, whether or not the neighbors wish to participate. Even though they are illegal, the police aren’t prone to pursue those who break that law. Nope. They just turn a blind eye and let everyone fire at will.

As a result, the sky around our house is filled with rockets firing every which way and the exploded debris drifts all around us with the smell of cordite lingering in the air. It makes for a pleasant evening, for sure. The dogs love it, of course. We let Ziva on the porch so she can bark her happiness non-stop during the entire display. I let her bark as much as she likes with the hope that someone will complain about the noise, but I don’t see that happening.

This year, with the pandemic rules still being enforced, most large fireworks displays were cancelled which saved the towns tons of money. I think that after seeing what happens when things are locked down, they will never sponsor another expensive display again. There were fireworks being fired off all over town, and all across the visible horizons, 20-30 miles away. Diane mentioned that if everyone who had fireworks would have taken them down to the river, where the big show usually takes place, the display would have been better than what usually goes up in the air and it would have lasted longer, too.

Today Ziva was none the worse for wear but we were concerned because she’s pretty old for a big dog. Fourteen, I think, and her joints are starting to fail on her. That’s a sad story for another day …

Later in the day, on Sunday, we made a trip to the country to visit some long lost relatives. We see these guys once every 10 years or so which is understandable because they live about 30 miles away. Considering how much we all drive during the course of a year you’d think we’d connect more often, right? Well, Debra, my cousin, and matron of all those we visited, declared that we’re going to do this more often in the future. As a matter of fact, we’ve already set a date.

The fact that Debra’s daughter, Alicia, and her family, Adam, Ivy, Autumn, Cora, and their dog Gemma, have recently become residents of St. Helens may have something to do with her sudden desire to make this visiting thing a regular event.

Adam, you may remember, was recently hired as the Youth Pastor for Daniel and Jennifer’s church. It’s also Cedric’s, Lydia’s, and Jeran’s church. Getting that job closed a very serendipitous loop of events bringing all of our families closer together. Now that they live closer to us, Lydia doesn’t have to drive so far to get her ‘Cousin Fix’ with the girls. That’s handy.

Here’s who was there – First there was the baby, Ava, who the new Mom, Nicole, rarely saw during our visit.

Then, there were all of the little one’s parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, and aunts, for a final total of 33 people.

During this event we helped celebrate two birthdays. Once for Lizzy, and once for Jada who is soon to be 11. Lizzy got the lemon drop cake that Jennifer made. Jada got the oreo cake.

That’s it for now as I must depart for a visit to Hillsboro to see my VA doctor so she can tell me how great I’m doing.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th.

Reunion

Well, it wasn’t really a reunion, more like a visit from some of our favorite relatives. That would be Bob, Steffani, and Maryssa. Making it even better, Lydia and Jeran found their way up the hill to join the fun. Hearing all the noise up stairs, Jeff, Heather, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie joined the crowd. It was a busy time in the old house for a while.

Gilligan, Jeran, Baylee, Maryssa, Lydia, Steffani’s feet, Baylee’s feet, Bob’s feet
Maryssa, Lydia, Steffani, Jerrie, Bob

Since we don’t all get together very often a discussion was had about when the last time it happened. Thanks to modern technology, someone (Maryssa, I think) resurrected an old photo that depicts the moment. I have no idea when it was taken, but it was definitely our back yard, and all the older children were still struggling toward adulthood.

Cedric, Lydia, Gilligan, Baylee, Maryssa, Jerrie, Heather (Mom of the three littles)

Having found this photo everyone thought it would be fun to recreate the photo but we could do it with 100% accuracy because Cedric is currently floating around in the Pacific Ocean on his way to Guam, his Mother’s native country. He’s on the USS Nimitz CVN-68.

So, Jeran stepped ups to fill his older brother’s shoes and we came away with this …

Jeran, Gilligan, Lydia, Baylee, Maryssa, Heather, Jerrie

It’s pretty close and will serve the purpose. I suspect Cedric will approve.

Cheers.

Here’s an update – Maryssa was the instigator of recreating the photo because the original was taken 8 years ago on this same day. Nifty.