Camping at Big Eddy

Last Thursday we took “The Littles” Camping at Big Eddy Park on the Nehalem River near Vernonia, Oregon. It’s a small place but full of fun on hot days. Even I found the water to be pleasant in the 100 degree temps. “The Littles”, by the way, are our Grand Daughters Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie. I’m using that now because it’s easier to type.

We attended this outing thanks to Jennifer’s & Daniel’s willingness to let us join them for their annual Church Campout at the park, even though we don’t attend their church. Guess Jennifer figured I wouldn’t cause too much of a commotion this time and the who attend the last time we went had plenty of time to forget past offenses. I don’t think there were any, but you just never know what might trip someone’s trigger.

This was the first time The Littles went camping with us so it was and exciting time for them. Since the church pretty much rents the entire park for the weekend the kids (lots of them) were free to roam all day and into the night. The big attraction was the big eddy in the Nehalem River for which the park is named.

With inner tubes of various sizes, and life jackets, the kids assaulted the river and had a spectacular time just floating around, visiting, making new friends, and for some, catching crawdads.

In line, front to rear, are Jerrie, Baylee, and Gilligan under Daniel’s watchful eye.

 

Living large in the deep water, about 20′ deep, middle of the eddy.

 

Even the dogs get to play. This is Ziva.

 

There was some down time allowed for river rock art.

 

Jerrie in a brief moment of inactivity.

 

Jennie minding the tubes. This is about as wet as she got.

 

Gilligan coming in for a pit stop.

 

Gilligan giving her Mosh Pit greeting.

 

Mocha just floated around all over the place, lurking kinda like an alligator. She loves the water because it sets her free of her aching joints.

 

Open fires are not currently allowed in any Oregon camp grounds unless they had a way to turn them off. So, before leaving civilization we made a trip to Lowe’s and got a propane fire pit that fit that category.

 

It works quite nicely, throwing a rosy glow on everyone who sits around it.

 

It was even used to produce vast quantities of s’mores for those who like that kind of thing. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of s’mores. I think that makes me kind of unpatriotic, or something, and I’m sorry if it does. But, I still don’t care for them. The kids love them, however.

 

Lots of time people showed up from other families to join in with Jeran, Lydia, Joey, Jamie, Sofie, and Ceiarra. I caught this one sitting still so took her photo. Also, got a fairly good shot of Daniels T-shirt, Save the Chubby Unicorns.

 

Most of the girls are wearing their hair longer, young and old, so braiding it was a full-time job. Jennie loves doing it and fixed up all comers. She’s a pro braider. So, I guess that means she’s Pro Braider Jennie, or PB&J for my acronym book.

 

Jennie and Jerrie posing after Jen gave Jer piggies, my personal favorite hairdo.

 

Diane contemplating something while relaxing.

 

Jennie relaxing.

 

Older kids gathered for lunch.

Sunday morning we attended an outdoor church service then everyone packed up to leave. For me, getting ready to go involved driving our motor home around the narrow, wiggly, tree-lined roads to get in a spot where I could reattach the tow dolly and mount the car on it. I’d done it once to drop the dolly and didn’t have a problem. This time, however, I cut one corner a little close and brushed an old, rotten stump. It left a mess on the driver’s side near the rear wheel that I was sure would signal the end of the world.  But it didn’t. Neither I, nor anyone else with a camera, thought to capture the moment and the damage, so there’s no proof that what I’m relating really happened. Therefore, you can just chalk this up to a big lie if you wish. I really did swipe the stump, though, and the visible damage appeared to be permanent.

Once we got home I got out the polishing compound and rubbed 98% of it away. I was amazed. And happy. Now I won’t be ashamed to take it out again next week for a trip to Nehalem Bay State Park. This is the bay where the Nehalem River joins the Pacific Ocean.

How odd is that?

 

 

Jerrie is 7, and a Plumbing Tale

Last Sunday Jerrie turned 7-years-old. That’s 7, as in SEVEN. That means Second Grade is coming up. When that happened, Diane and I looked at each other with similar questioning eyes, wondering how she did that so fast. She’s quick, we know that, but normally it takes at least one dog-year for a child to attain the age of 7. Not Jerrie. She did it in 3, I’m sure. Anyway, she’s joined her bouncy sisters in another upper age bracket and is on her way to fulfilling her destiny. We’re curious to discover what that is. It’s going to be an exciting trip.

In case you didn’t know, this is Jerrie trying out her new blanket that we dare anyone to snatch and try to call it their own.

This next bit is a going to be long, I can tell already, but I’ve got to get it out of my head. It’s getting crowded in there and I want to gather new “stuff” to think about.

Plumbers are sometimes necessary to resolve problems for which one hopes they’ve been trained to deal with, and other times they are used simply because it’s convenient to have someone else do the dirty work. Simply because I involuntarily volunteered to get a couple of new toilets for our church, I became the point person for ensuring they got installed. Although I’m knowledgeable with what’s required to install a toilet, since this was a church project, I was given permission to engage a professional. The project also included replacement of a broken, non-functioning, waterless, cold water faucet in the Lady’s Room (LR). It’s been turned off for years, literally, because it ceased to function. The set up, in both bathrooms is really old, using individual faucets for hot and cold. Old school. Since it takes a little bit of time for hot water to reach the LR, it apparently was deemed safe to assume that at least six ladies in a row could use the facility and wash their hands without being scalded. The seventh person is like a hall monitor … if they don’t burn their hands with hot water at the sink, odds are that one, or more, of the previous six didn’t wash their hands, the choice of many women when using public facilities. I have it on good authority that men ALWAYS wash their hands BEFORE using the facilities because they don’t want to get their junk dirty. They know what they’ve touched, ya know?

I digress. What’s new?

Thinking back on that seventh lady who didn’t burn her hands, when she exits the facility makes a note of who the previous six were because ladies, sadly, always have to wait in line to use public facilities. From that point on #7 avoids the previous six because they’re obviously filthy animals. Or, #7 doesn’t wash either, leaving it up to #8. It gets really complicated after that.

Regardless of who does or does wash isn’t really the issue here. It’s the broken and leaky faucet. Someone resolved the problem by turning off the water to that faucet. Simple. They probably thought they’d get around to fixing it later, or not. Actually, that faucet has been off for 10+ years so you know it was a man who disabled it. Right? I’m pretty sure that’s true, but it wasn’t me. Honest.

Given the authority to procure and arrange installation of new toilets, and a faucet, Diane took me to Costco and allowed me to purchase two toilets, just like the one I installed in one of our bathrooms at home. Get that? I, Jerrie, an old man, installed one of these toilets all by myself and it works and it doesn’t leak.

It took a bit of maneuvering to get two toilets in the back of our Camry, but I did it. On the way home we stopped at the church and I manhandled one into each bathroom, staging them for the plumber who agreed to do the job. I called two plumbers and only one called back.

Shortly after that Diane and I departed on our annual Anniversary trip so I wasn’t there to manage the work. I wasn’t worried, though, how hard could it be?

Turns out that some things certain plumbers encounter are way beyond their capabilities and in the confusion of accomplishing assigned tasks get a truly clouded sense of reality when it comes to figuring out what to charge. In this case, the plumber presented a very vague bill for $1495.00.

Upon return from our trip, I visited the plumber, who was out working on another poorly planned job, no doubt, and talked with the nice lady in the office. I explained that the price seemed overly high for a job where the major components were provided.

The plumber called me a couple of days later and was very apologetic after I explained that the toilets were not provided by him, and questioned his billing tactics that provided no detail about what materials were used. I’m sure the majority of his clientele pay without question, abiding by the popular pre-conceived notion that plumbers are just expensive, and that’s the way it is.

The result of that first contact was a $200 refund check along with a new bill containing some more detail about what was done and what materials were used. It was nice to get a refund, but I wasn’t particularly pleased with the detail and the minimal amount considering he was apparently refunding the cost he would charge a customer to procure two toilets. Having paid $150 for each toilet I was pretty sure that his mark up would escalate the price considerably higher.

The new bill made me a little angry so I sat on it for a while before addressing my concerns with the plumber, again. I contemplated calling again, but decided I wanted something tangible that could be filed for future reference. So, I wrote him a letter providing far more detail that I’m sure he wanted to see. Specifically, about the price of the toilets and what he would charge a customer to provide. I also questioned his charge for wax rings and bolts, which were provided with each toilet, and $50 for caulking, and $150 for a new faucet that didn’t look anything like the one he removed, and the fact that he removed and replaced the wrong faucet. Seriously, how dumb is that? I used his cost for that faucet as a measure for what his markup was for parts. Somewhere around 100% or more I’d guess.

Addressing all of these questions, as well as questioning his ethics a little bit, I sent the letter to him and a bunch of other people. My last comment was that I would love to talk with him about everything in the letter. His response was to send another refund check for $300 with no explanation. Just a check in the mail. I suppose we could have just considered that a nice donation to the church and continue to pursue answers to my questions, but I believe we’re way beyond a peaceful solution. He got the price into the $900’s, which is still high, but not worth the stress of all the confrontation involved, in an area where most people carry guns, should I continue. We’re just not ever going to use him again and we’ll gladly share why with anyone who wants to know.

Then, I’ll fix it myself.

For free.

Like I should have done the first time.

Then we’ll just sit back and watch karma take it’s course.

Dang!

Various and Sundry Things

Greetings fellow Earthlings who woke up on the green side of the grass, as did I, this glorious morning.

My awakening was a confused one because the house was so quiet. Like normal, I was once again on the living room sofa and noticed my bride in the kitchen making coffee. On a normal day, once the coffee was done, she would bring me a cup which is code for “GET UP YOU LAZY BUM AND GO YANK SOME WEEDS!” That didn’t happy, however, and it took me a while of this quiet solitude to realize that it didn’t happen because today is Sunday. I don’t have to pull weeds on Sunday. So, I just relaxed, went back to sleep, and waited for my coffee.

She never brought it to me, though, and I couldn’t hear her thrashing around in any of the nearby rooms that generally alerts me to the need to get up. “Thrashing” is too harsh a word here. She never really Thrashes. It’s just the noise people make, especially me, when they’re trying very hard to be quiet so as to not wake up people they love beyond measure. It never works out well for me because I always do it in the dark. No lights for me. No Sir. I know where everything is in the house … except which doorway the big brown dog has decided to lay in front of, or which end of the hall she chose to occupy. Because of that uncertainty, I walk slowly and carefully but the result is still the same because the big brown dog is deaf. She responds to touch. Consequently, when I finally make contact with her, as I slowly slide my feet, one at a time, she jumps up making all kinds of skritching noises on the floor which ignites the Barking Gene of the little black dog (toy poodle). On the verge of chaos, I get them both calmed down, but the damage, I know, has been done. Still, I close the bedroom door and sneak away. It always works that way, but over the years I’ve learned that all that noise really isn’t my fault and my bride understands this. All I want to do is let our four-legged family members out to run freely in the field behind our house. And, to hopefully pee in said field.

Normally I go to church with her on Sunday and she makes sure I’m up and functioning in time to make myself pretty for the event. When I looked at the clock it was 10:30 am and church has already started so I look in the garage and observe that her car is gone so it’s obvious that I’ve been abandoned, left unsupervised, and could, if I so desired, don my weed-pulling attire and go outside to get really sweaty.

Instead, I got my own cup of coffee, fired up my computer, corrected the church newsletter that I sent to everyone yesterday with an error, then sent it again, and finally decided to visit with all of you for a while. That’s what I do when I’m not given a task. I sit quietly, like this, and think of ‘stuff’ I could be doing, and things I’ve done since last we ‘spoke’ …

… like golfing. I was allowed to go golfing with Doug and Junior twice over the last couple of weeks and, predictably, I did badly. But we all had a good time, especially JR. He didn’t fall down even once. Doug and I help avoid that by teeing up JR’s balls so he can take a whack at it, then pick up his displaced tee and escort him back to the cart.

Now, about JR … in my mind he’s kind of a miracle because a few weeks ago he had a stroke and was paralyzed on his right side. I talked with him about it, and it went something like this …

“So,” I asked, “when did you discover that you’d had a stroke.”

“Well,” he responded, “when I woke up with a severe need to urinate and tried to get out of bed. I couldn’t move my right leg.”

“Did you determine right then that you’d had a stroke?”

“No. I just thought something was really screwed up. My right arm wasn’t working too well, but I was able to make it grab my right leg and swing it off the bed, then I rolled to the floor.”

“Why did you do that?”

“I had to take a leak really bad.”

“Oh, ya. That.”

“I started dragging myself to the bathroom but gave up after a couple of feet and called Jeri for help. She helped me back to bed after my bladder was pleasingly empty (in a way will not explain in detail as he did). Then people showed up. I knew who they were, but could not say their names. I guess I was mumbling. So, they took me to the VA Emergency Room where they hooked me up to a bunch of stuff and just left me there. When a doctor finally showed up he told me that I’d definitely had a stroke, but that there wasn’t anything they could do for me.”

“Really!”

“Yes, really. So, I yanked all the hoses and tubes off my body and Tami took me home. My heart rate and blood pressure were higher when I left than when I got there so once I got home I medicated myself.”

“What did you take?”

“One morphine, 2 oxycodone, 2 Tylenol, and 1 nitro. My BP went down, my heart rate slowed, and things started going back to normal. Then I just sprawled in my recliner until it was time to go golfing again.”

Yes, we went golfing again about two weeks after this happened and he still beat me. We went a couple of days ago, too, and I really thought I had a chance to finally whip him, but that didn’t happen even though I was keeping score. So, after a really harrowing event, JR is back to being about as normal as he can be. Quite amazing.

On other news fronts, I was summoned to the County Courthouse by Betty, our County Clerk, who is kind of Diane’s boss when it comes to counting votes during elections. She, Betty, apparently was cleaning out her attic and found some computer parts she thought I could use and wanted me to get them. Turns out, she had a brand new, in the box,  NCR keyboard, the one with the HUGE connector, way bigger than a PS2 connector, that will not work on any computer made today. I was grateful for the gift and plan to incorporate it in a project I have in mind using obsolete computer parts. I think something like that would look nice hanging on the living room wall, don’t you?

Last Thursday I spent a log of time on my feet chopping onions and carrots, and blending black beans and tomatoes while assisting a herd of ladies to construct a 150 portion version of Diane’s Black Bean Vegetable Soup. It’s really great soup, a family favorite. Making it for 150 people was interesting for me because it required extended use of appliances that I generally only get to use for short amounts of time. Like the Cuisinart. Great for the onions and carrots, but they wouldn’t let me chop up the celery. I really wanted to chop the celery.

After the chopping was done, and soup taste-tested (I’m the official taster) I was dismissed with instructions to return at 7 pm. I went home and just relaxed until the phone rang at 6:45. I answered and was asked, “are you coming to get me?” I considered my response and figured that saying I was told to her there at 7 wouldn’t be well received. She was tired and needed to get home.

Last Saturday the family celebrated both Jeff’s and my birthdays. We’re only two days apart and the ‘real’ dates were middle of the week, the reason for deferring till the weekend. Gatherings like that are always a loud, fun-filled event for everyone. They fill the house with happiness and we love it. We also love the quiet that follows, but the hustle-bustle noise always makes us smile. One thing, though, is trying to explain to ‘outsiders’ that son Jeff’s birthday is only two days after mine. He’s 46 now so I just tell folks that he’s my step son from Diane’s first marriage. That’ a lie, of course, because even folks with rudimentary math skills can quickly surmise that if he’s 46 he was obviously born in 1972, four years after Diane and I were married. I just add another lie that she was pregnant for a really long time.

Yesterday Diane and I attended a retirement party for our friend Rick who exercised his right to end his 30-something-year career with ABF Trucking. We got to visit with lots of old friends that we don’t see nearly often enough because they live so far away. There were three Ricks, two Jerry’s, two Pats, Nelda, Diane, Jo, Josette, Jody, Vie, Lucan, Stacy, Brandy, Linda, Allen and many others I cannot remember. For those who I failed to mention, forgive me. I’m old and forget things. Diane thinks I have dementia even though I’ve explained, many times, that I don’t need to remember ‘things’ because she does it for me. That’s one of the many responsibilities a wife has. Right? Well, maybe not all wives will agree with that, and it’s OK.

Once again I’m totally upset that when I select the magic button on my Xfinity remote that displays current and future sporting events, there is absolutely no mention of NCAA Softball. I’ve got to actually search for info on the games. Then, after doing that, I have to sit quietly while the #1 seeded Lady Ducks get smoked by lower ranked teams in the Women’s College Softball Championships. Last year they lost the first two games and went home. This year they won the first game 11-1 then lost the next two and were eliminated. I think if Xfinity would simply include college sports properly in their displays, the teams would do much better. Just wait till next year. Now we must root for Washington, the #2 seed who won their first two games.

Go Huskies.

It’s Been Busy Here

I just checked my calendar and discovered why I normally add ‘stuff’ more often than once every couple of weeks. Generally that isn’t a problem because we’re usually not very busy. Including today, here are the significant ‘things’ that happened over the past 16 days:

4/24 – Our annual Anniversary trip ended this day when we arrived safely home from Bayview State Park, Washington. In case you missed my previous post, this was our 50th. I’m surprised that she let me live this long and told her so. Since she didn’t respond right away, I suspect she’s surprised, too. I thanked her for my longevity. On a previous anniversary trip to NW Washington we arrived 2 days after they lopped off all the tulip tops in all the tulip fields. We had no idea they did this so it was a real downer. This year we arrived in time to take it all in …

4/25 – Trip to Best Buy to retrieve Diane’s repaired computer that we left with them before we took our journey. They had it fixed before we reached our destination and told me so. So, it was kinda funny that when I went to pick it up, it didn’t work. I couldn’t log in to it. Neither could the Geek Guy. So, I sat there while they went completely through the process of reinstalling Windows 10 and all the subsequent updates needed to get it current. It took two hours. I didn’t take a photo of Diane’s computer but you can trust me that it works nicely and it now has a cute little backup hard drive connected.

4/26 – Ruth arrived from Connecticut to join us for our 50th anniversary party where we planned to renew our vows. Ruth is our Sister-In-Law who was married to my older brother, Lyle, who is no longer physically with us. I have a photo of him on my desk that was used at his funeral so I see him every day. Ruth is staying with us for two weeks and was assigned to sleep in Jeran’s and Gilligan’s bedroom because it only has a twin bed. Our other party guests are couples which dictates the need for larger beds.

4/27 – Jack & Wynette arrived from Arizona to also join in our 50th celebration. They drove day and night to arrive on time and we were very happy to see our old pickup truck. You may remember that we swapped vehicles a few posts back. Jack is my brother and won the right to sleep in Diane’s and My bedroom simply because they arrived before Brother Jim and wife Donna. Then, Diane and I moved to the basement and made our beds on the sofas down there. Turns out they were pretty comfortable.

4/28 – Jim & Donna arrived from Idaho. They won a 4 day stay in Lydia’s, Baylee’s, and Jerrie’s bedroom because it has a queen bed. Their arrival signaled the end to our house guest for the near future. We loved having all the brothers and sisters with us because it doesn’t happen nearly often enough. We’re a little bit too spread out in the country.

4/29 – Diane and I renewed our marriage vows with a short service in the afternoon, after our normal Sunday morning service. Lots of friends and family showed up and I’m afraid I didn’t get around to talk with all of them during the course of this celebration. I was too busy eating. So, for those of you I may have missed, please forgive me. If you want to stop by the house sometime, we have plenty of turkey and ham left.

This is us and most of the grand kids.

Our daughter, Jennifer, and son, Jeffrey, took the role of Bride’s Maid and Best Man. I think they had a good time.

We even had a beautiful wedding cake thanks to Jennifer. She has a cake-baking friend. 

Unlike the first marriage, in 1968, Diane tempted fate and tried to smash some cake into my face. She was moderately successful, as was I. I’ve always wanted to do that.

This is pretty much all of us. We were missing some cousins (Debbie and Roger) who could have joined us but probably thought it would be better to not have a permanent record of our association. That’s OK. I’ll leave it to you to figure out who’s who.

The 2nd wedding was presided over by our good friend, Carolann, who lives part time in an old (1989) Winnebago that her husband, Terry, got from our other good friends, Les and Sofie, because they got a new Winnebago and decided they no longer needed three of them. They kept Wilbur, their very nice 1972 rig. It’s complicated. It’s a fun club (Classic Winnebagos) with fun people who have amazing skills and interesting backgrounds.

We also had attendees from our old PT Cruiser Club with whom we’ve been cruising since 2000. And, there were high school classmates who still talk to me. We even play golf. It was great to see everyone.

Although gifts were not encouraged, some were presented and gratefully accepted. Some were monetary in the form of $50 bills, and one notable pile of 50 $1 bills, in addition to this marvelous framed street sign from our USS Cleveland shipmates, Gary & Cindy:

4/30 – Baylee Jean Marie Cate celebrated her 9th birthday.  

Since we had a lot of exceptional cake left over from the day before, we used it and some candles to have a little party.

5/1 – Daniel’s Birthday. He’s getting closer to middle age all the time even though he still looks like a kid to me. He’s only 43. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a secret, or not, but don’t tell him you got that info from me. That escalated age happened very quickly over the course of the last 20 something years. Daniel single-handedly runs one of the many Intel campuses in Hillsboro. If it wasn’t for him, your computer wouldn’t work. That may, or may not, be true.

5/2 – Jim & Donna left which meant Diane and I could have moved out of the basement, but we didn’t. Turns out we were pretty comfortable down there, and we didn’t want to make the vacated bed. So, we stayed in the dungeon with all the dogs. And the cat. Probably a bunch of spiders, too. It was sad to see them go because we don’t often have the opportunity for the whole (remaining) family to gather and visit. There will be more, I’m sure.

5/3 – Sarah Visited. Sarah is Ruth’s and Lyle’s granddaughter who moved to Hillsboro from Connecticut a couple of years ago. She’s the one on the left in the following photo. Ruth is on the right. Diane and Lydia are in the middle. We had lunch at the Klondike then took her on a scenic trip around St. Helens, stopping at Lydia’s place of work so she and Sarah could look at each other live for the first time. It’s good to know who your cousins are. It was good to see Sarah and especially good for Ruth to see her Granddaughter. If she looks familiar to you, you probably had open heart surgery at St. Vincent’s. She’s the nurse who is totally in charge of all the doctors and nurses at St. Vincent’s who do that kind of stuff. She’s pretty special. I’m sure most of that is true, especially the “pretty special” part.

5/4 – Dinner @ Elks with Jack, Wynette, Ruth – Jack & Wynette took us all to the St. Helens Elks club for dinner and it was excellent. I didn’t take any photos there because it was dark, but you know who all those people are. One of them, at an adjacent table, is a lady who used to share a seat with me on the bus to Portland when I was still working. Hadn’t seen her in 8 years. The rest of us had a great time visiting, something we don’t get to do as a group nearly often enough.

Earlier in the day, Lydia brought her year old Rottweiler puppy to the house for a last visit. Sadly, he had a spinal deformity that caused him to fall all the time and it can’t be repaired. Lydia and family have been hoping he would grow out of it and thrive, but that didn’t happen, so he was released from the strings that trapped him in a malfunctioning body. Lydia and Ceiarra spent the day taking him around to visit friends, then to the beach, and out for an ice cream cone before the appointed time for departure. He was well-loved and will be missed a great deal.

5/5 – Family dinner at home – pork roast and tiny taters by Ruth and associates. Sadly, Daniel, Cedric, and Ceiarra were missing due to scheduling conflicts. We missed them, but we ate anyway. There was a report that the pork was a little dry because I was left home, alone, without proper instructions or supervision, while Diane and Ruth toured Portland in search of Diane’s almost 50-year-old sewing machine that was at the Sewing Machine Hospital of Portland. We delivered it to them before departing on our Anniversary Trip to Bayview State Park. It was gratifying to learn that they had successfully resuscitated the machine. We had doubts.

5/6 – Jack & Wynette departed on the first leg of their journey back to Arizona. We were sad to see the pickup go, as well as it occupants, and wished them safe travels along the winding road home. One of these days we will be visiting them in Arizona. Really, we will. Looking at the photo, I see a band-aid on my left thumb so this must have been the day, before dinner, when I was brutally attacked by Dexter, the dog next door. Actually, there was an altercation between Panzee and the neighbor’s giant black lab that prompted me to insert myself into the middle of that dog fight. Probably not a smart thing to do, but I did it anyway. I do lots of un-smart things like that. I wasn’t actually attacked. All I did was break a nail on something, probably a shiny white tooth. The break was about halfway down the quick of my thumb and halfway to the middle where it was ripped away. There was blood on Panzee’s neck, which was in grasp of Dexter’s very impressive mouth, so everyone thought it was hers. Then I noticed my disheveled thumb and fell to the ground whining and groveling when I realized it was my blood, not Panzee’s. In spite of the groveling, I was able to extract Panzee from Dexter’s jaws of death and Tim was able to get Dexter under control. It was a pretty exciting series of events. Then we had dinner.

5/7 – Sarah invited us to a BBQ dinner in Hillsboro. Of course we went and were pleased to meet Sarah’s boyfriend Jay, his brother Todd, their parents, and Todd’s wife’s parents. Being an expert at forgetting names immediately after hearing them I was at a severe disadvantage for figuring out who everyone was. I know Keith is J & T’s Dad, but can’t remember their Mom’s name and cannot remember Todd’s wife’s parent’s names at all. I do remember Lucy, however, who was the smallest person present because she’s only 9 months old and belongs to Todd and his Wife. There is a pretty incredible story about how Sarah met Jay and it could be long, but I’ll give you a short version. Sarah and Todd are both RN’s who worked together in Connecticut. Todd moved to Hillsboro, Sarah visited, and they went to Seaside to visit Jay and family where Todd exposed his plan to marry his current wife. She’s an Emergency Room Doctor for Kaiser. Jay and Sarah got along well and she decided to relocate to Hillsboro. Jay was a Policeman in Connecticut and traded that job for one with the Washington County Sheriff’s department. They got a condo. The BBQ was awesome … the biggest and most tender filet mignon I’ve ever seen. Cooked to perfection by Todd and Jay. Halfway through the meal Diane and I had to leave to visit the Good Sam ER facility. This was a planned visit, nothing to do with the food. Did you know you can make appointments for Urgent Care? I did that to have someone attend to my escalating case of epididymitis that I’d been fighting for a couple of weeks. End result, I had a soothing ultrasound of my testicles, by a nice young lady, while Diane and I held hands and watched TV in ER room 10 at Good Sam. This was a new one for us. I got antibiotics and am healing. For some reason, this is the only photo I took at the BBQ:

Diane wouldn’t let me take photos in the emergency room.

5/8 – Diane & Ruth  took a trip to get their toes fixed at a local nail salon. Well already had the appointments but I gave up my spot for Ruth. Yes, I get a pedicure once in a while. I’m thinking that the next time I have an ultrasound on my testicles I’ll just get my toes done at the same time. Ya, I know that’s not going to happen, but it conjures up interesting things in my head.

5/9 – We took Ruth to the beach, via Astoria, and ate Crab Louie’s at Norma’s near the Seaside turnaround where Louis and Clark finished their epic journey. Here’s proof …

Then we went to Ecola State Park by Canon Beach where we were delighted to see a dozen elk wandering around in the grass by the parking lot.

Guess they like the view, too.

One of the main points of interest you can see from this location, is the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

It’s fun to watch in a storm.

Then we went to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock that was in the movie Goonies.

Then, it was time to head home by way of the Astoria Column located on a hill above Astoria.

 

This is just to show off the T-shirts Diane got us. Kinda cool, huh?

We made it home safely from our journey to the coast (that’s the same as ‘shore’ to those of you on the east coast).

Ruth left for home yesterday after spending two weeks with us, looking everyday for a glimpse of Mt. Hood. Alas, it never showed up even one time. Then we put her on a plane. When we got home, here’s what we saw, so this is for Ruth.

I think that pretty does it for the past umpteen days. Now I need to get out of my PJ’s and go mow the yard.

Cheers.

Bethany’s Facelift

Our little country church, Bethany Lutheran, is on the verge of a major facelift in the form of new carpeting. The current carpet has been in place for 45 years so the church ladies made it a mission to replace it. That’s going to happen over the next two days.

To make that happen it was necessary to remove everything from the church innards because the carpet people do not move ‘stuff’. Therefore, it fell on the shoulders of a few old guys and as many young people as they could muster, to move 27 pews. the altar, the pulpit, and the lectern leaving the current carpet unlittered with heavy objects. They wanted the piano removed, too, but after moving everything else there wasn’t enough strength remaining in the entire crew to pick it up. So, it stayed. There’s a plan afoot to have someone available to roll it out of the way as needed tomorrow.

To commemorate this effort, we took a couple of photos using those taken of the iconic PDX carpet, before it was replaced not long ago, as an example of how to properly make it special. I’m not sure that was accomplished, but we had a bit of fun doing it. The tools were necessary to unbolt the pews from the floor. Not all the bolts came out willingly.

Not everyone who participated is included in the photos and I regret that. Nor do I have photos of the pews leaving the building because my camera was in the church while I was in one of the two large semi trailers that were graciously loaned to us by LC Hall trucking of St. Helens.

It’s a little weird to have the sanctuary empty, and it looks a lot smaller. However, if everything goes as planned, all the pews will be back in place for service this coming Sunday. How that goes will decide whether or not I show up for service on Sunday because I assume responsibility for making sure the pews are properly aligned and that all the pews are returned to their original spots to ensure that those who attend regularly get their assigned seats back. At this point I’m pretty sure I can get them lined up fairly well, but I can say with confidence that no one is getting their old pew back except by accident. It’s time for them to step out of that comfort zone and sit in someone else’s seat.

A Birthday and a White Christmas

Today is December 29th. Two days to 2018 and our temperature is 51 degrees. We had a white Christmas for the first time in about 30-40 years but the warm weather and ensuing rain made short work of that. Still, it was pretty nice.

The dogs weren’t huge fans, especially Ozzie, the little guy. After the snow, we had freezing rain which allowed him to walk on top of the precipitation had he chosen to do so. We’re talking about a little dog that has a hard time walking around the house unless there is a throw rug for him to use. Figure the odds that he’ll walk on a sheet of ice voluntarily. Consequently, there is no photo.

Before Christmas I attended an art class with our daughter, Jennifer, who is the crafty one in the family. This was the first time I’ve done something like this so it was an experience to remember. First off, I was the only male participant and I had to ask permission to participate. I didn’t really, but thought it would be prudent to do so. Thankfully, I knew a few of the ladies so it wasn’t difficult. One of the knowns to me was Kristen, Daniel’s sister. Daniel, for those who don’t know, is my son’s brother-in-law.

Kristen’s Mom and Grandma were also there, I believe, but didn’t get their photo.

As you can see, we all did an acrylic painting of a bear of some kind that wears clothing. Mine wasn’t too bad if you didn’t get too close to it. The farther away the better.

Jennifer did a much better job.

Pretty much all of the class.

The class was conducted in the Running Dog Brewery which is located next to the old Fat Boy’s Pizza in downtown St. Helens, and about 3-4 doors up from Jillian’s, the 2nd hand clothing store that was used as the Seattle store where Bella went shopping for a prom dress in the vampire movie Twilight. Considering that the beer flowed continuously throughout the painting experience, you’d think it would have been pretty noisy and the paintings might have been a bit interesting. It was true for both of those presumptions but I wasn’t allowed to capture any proof. I was going to do it anyway, but they outnumbered me about 20-1 so didn’t see the benefit of risking precious body parts to a potentially vicious mob of enraged women.

Actually, I really don’t think anyone would have minded but I just figured not doing so was a better choice. Everyone was having a great time, even me.

Our church choir practiced many times to prepare for our traditional Christmas Eve 11:00 pm service, and the last one was on December 20th, Diane’s birthday. Jennifer arranged for a fancy cake and we had a party at the church.

Since Diane and I are advanced in age, we had Christmas dinner a day early at our house so we wouldn’t have a need to be in traffic with all those other folks. Jeff and the Littles, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie, were in attendance, as well as the entire Walters clan, except for Cedric. There was a short period of time where it appeared that Daniel and Jeran might go get Cedric but the weather had already turned bad and the roads were terrible. So, they returned to base.

Cedric will be home on leave today (the 29th) and we’ll be celebrating Christmas again with him, tomorrow, at the Walters’ home.

Almost lastly, here’s my new favorite coffee cup that Lydia got me …

She knows me so well.

Finally, if anyone is in the market for a nice vehicle, this one is for sale. We’ve had our fun, but can’t tow it behind the RV except on a trailer. It’s replacement will probably be a 2015 Chevy Malibu.

Happy New Year to everyone. Make it a safe one.

Random Thoughts In No Particular Order

I left you wondering if I was going to figure out how to hook up the satellite system and I’m sure you are all expecting a report of my success. Well, I hate to disappoint you, but it never worked. So, I put everything back the way it was when we got the rig and just closed that little door. Instead of watching TV, we wound up playing lots of cribbage, walked the dog a lot, and actually talked to each other. I learned stuff, like Diane’s favorite color is Yellow, she’s really not French even though her maiden name is French, and she was only 14 when we got married. I was afraid she was going to tell me we were distant cousins at some point, but that never happened. Doesn’t mean we aren’t, just that she didn’t say it.

Bob and Steffani, my brother Jack’s oldest brother’s oldest daughter, have been visiting for the last few days after delivering Maryssa and Matt back to Salem to finish off the summer. A big plus out of the trip was that Under Armour was having a huge sale at the outlet stores in Woodburn where Matt works. Now they have to buy another suitcase to get everything home. I think they got socks for all their neighbors.

At some point during their stay, Steffani purchased a six-pack of Pepsi to consume while watching Matt and his brother play 3 on 3 basketball in Salem. It was a tournament. Maryssa was a pretty good basketball player in high school and couldn’t keep from giving pointers to the brothers because they were struggling with scoring. At one point one of them tossed the ball to Maryssa who promptly tossed it up and swished it from the sidelines. Point made, both literally and figuratively.

The Pepsi came home with B&S because they could only open 2 of the bottles. None of the manly men playing in the tournament could open them, Steffani couldn’t open them, Bob couldn’t open them, and I was never asked to try. That was OK. Since they were such a challenge we dropped by Wal-Mart* on the way to dinner yesterday, at Mark’s On The Channel, so Steffani could return them for bottles that would open. She returned quickly and reported that she never made it past the Wal-Mart* greeter who asked how she could help. Steffani explained and handed the bottles to the lady, who was in a wheel chair, and she took one of the bottles and twisted the top off with no problem. She did the same to the remaining three, solving the problem, and handed them back to a startled Steffani who was wondering about the veracity of the men populating her life. How could a frail little old lady, in a wheel chair, open bottles that young, healthy studs couldn’t? I guess the lesson here is that we should never underestimate the power of someone based on visual evidence alone.

This is us sitting at our table while dining at Mark’s On The Channel:

For those of you wondering how the meal went I’m proud to report that I didn’t get even one speck of my fish on my clothing. It was really too good to waste in such a manner. Bob had a hamburger with bacon jam on it, we other three had Alaskan Halibut which was wonderful. Bob said the jam was pretty good.

A question came up on Sunday about why the bench seats in a church are called pews. A little fumblefinger research provided me with this:

Origin

Late Middle English (originally denoting a raised, enclosed place in a church, provided for particular worshippers): from Old French puye ‘balcony’, from Latin podia, plural of podium ‘elevated place’.

That was going to be my second guess. My first guess was was all about hygiene and whether or not parishioners routinely engaged in bathing rituals beyond baptism way back in time. Just thought you should know.

Last Saturday Diane and I attended my 55th High School Reunion at Trojan Park. Trojan used to be a nuclear power plant owned by PGE and the first place I went to work in 1989 after retiring from the Navy. It’s the one where Homer Simpson worked. That’s true. It’s not mentioned in the link, but I read it somewhere. It’s obviously true because Matt Groning’s point of reference for all things concerning Homer were those surrounding Portland, Oregon.

Anyway, the Scappoose High School class of 1962 held their 55th reunion at the park and it was catered by Sunshine Pizza in St. Helens. It was good to see all those old people again and I’m sad that I didn’t get to visit with all of them for long periods of time. Our class is controlled by the “Tarbell Twins” and we will do pretty much anything they tell us to do. They are absolutely super humans. In the past we’ve always had pot lucks for our food but this time it was catered and so much better. Not the food, so much, but the ability to just graze and visit without worrying about food. Still, “The Twins”, Evelyn & Eva, were there making sure everything was perfect. It was, and we appreciated it. Now, let me see if I can remember those who were there that I actually looked in the eye: Eva, Evelyn (of course), Sam & David (another set of twins), Jimbo, 2 more David’s, Delores (another twin), Darrell, Vern, John, 3 Larry’s, Mary Ann, Phyllis, Harriet, Josette, Don, another Delores, Judy, Jim, Tom, Karen, Howard, and me. Here’s what we all look like at 73 years old:

I want everyone to know that I compiled the list of names above the photo before looking at the photo. I was one off on the count for a long time until I remember that, gee, I’m in the photo, too. I’m the guy in the green shirt ion the middle next to the really short girl (Delores). Here’s the list in order, top to bottom, left to right:

  1. David, Tom, John, Don, David, Larry, Darrell, Larry
  2. Howard, Jim, Vern (these guys kinda made up their own row of 3)
  3. Eva, David, Harriett, Josette, Delores, Jerrie, Jimbo, Larry, Delores, Sam, Karen
  4. Judy, Mary Ann, Evelyn, and Phyllis

I found out at the reunion that some of those folks actually waste their time reading my posts so all errors will be corrected, I’m sure.

On Sunday afternoon Diane, I, Bob & Steffani attended a bible lesson presented by our very own Jeran. He’s been helping with them as his Senior Project. He did a good job and all the kids just love him. His goal is to become a Youth Pastor which is perfect for him. He’s totally focused on this goal and knows exactly where he’s going in life. Pretty impressive for a 17-year-old.

After the bible study, we went to Scappoose for dessert at DQ. That’s where I get my occasional chocolate malt. I just love those things. Today’s treat, however, made itself known to me in the form of heartburn, something I’ve been avoiding lately with a chocolate-less diet. So, I’m either going to have to quit getting those things, or just get them earlier in the day, like for breakfast, so I can sleep well at night.

Bob and Steffani left this morning allowing us to reclaim all the space they’ve been taking up with their presence. Don’t get me wrong … we love having them visit, any time they wish. Them being here doesn’t impact us in any way except when it comes to food. Diane feels that a good host would make meals available on a regular basis but I’m less inclined in that direction. I figure they are adult humans and fend for themselves. So, there’s that little point of contention. The compromise is, of course, that we go out to eat a lot. It works.