Banquet, Marsha, and Memphis

Saturday was a very busy day, for some people. For us it was one of another, lazy late exit from our respective beds, a late breakfast (or early lunch) then some sitting around doing a lot of nothing. We had to rest up for the banquet which was to start at 6:00 in the evening. Prior to that the crew members in attendance had a business meeting for the USS Cleveland Reunion Association. Our treasurer, Rick, gave a comprehensive accounting of our financial situation and made it clear how much it costs to keep our organization functioning. After that we went through the agenda, ultimately agreeing on where we go next year. Lots of options were suggested, and promoted, but we finally agreed on Savannah, Georgia. Another new city for us to discover.

At 5 pm we started getting ready for the big event of the reunion by finding the clothes we brought for the occasion and laying them out hoping some of the wrinkles would disappear. That really wasn’t an issue for me because once I put them on they just disappeared thanks to all the food I’ve been eating. Yessir I just filled up all the vacant space and stretched those wrinkles away. It wasn’t pretty, but I wasn’t wrinkled. It worked so well that Diane asked me to put her clothing on for a little bit and kinda iron them out, too. Doing that stirred up some latent emotions from my youth when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a boy or girl. Right then the bra started to chafe reminding me that I’d made the correct choice all those years ago. Diane agreed and thanked me for pressing her clothes. Actually, her’s got stretched a little further than mine and, consequently, looked much better after i removed them. This entire exercise in removing wrinkles showed us that we no longer needed to ensure that rooms we get while traveling have irons in the room. Now I just need to ensure I don’t start losing weight thereby losing this new-found skill I’ve acquired. If necessary, I can hire out my body to fellow travelers so they, too, can avoid the need for an iron. Just have to find out what to charge, or if to charge. I might like doing it just for fun.

The banquet went well and we wound up with 46 ex-Cleveland crew members in attendance, in addition to significant others who attended. It was a packed room. The food was good and the raffle & auction items were plentiful. I have no idea how much money was spent in total, but one of our old Chiefs spent over $1000 on things his wife wanted. I believe that was a new record for one bidder. It went a long way toward ensuring the organization wouldn’t be having any financial woes in the near future. Rick reported that we were, once again, solvent.

After the banquet was done everyone went to the atrium and pool area which is surrounded by rooms for photos. We were making a lot of noise after the suggested quiet hour, but none of the other guests complained. So, we just continued to make lots of noise which made it very difficult for organizers to organize groups for photos, especially the guys. 

Finally, there was a lull in the noise and we got the guys to kind of line up for the photo.
And here are the ladies …

The festivities were finally terminated about 10:30 pm much to the glee no doubt of everyone who had an interior room, and we all headed for our respective rooms. I think.

The five Radiomen in attendance: Spence, Curt, Dan, Gene, and Me

During our good nights and farewells I volunteered Diane to deliverer our friend Marsha to the airport at 0530 the next morning. Diane wasn’t happy, initially, but I won her over. Then she expanded the day by declaring that “since we’re getting up so early, we may as well go to Memphis and visit Graceland.” I couldn’t really object because, first, she is the only declared driver of our rental and, second, well, because she wanted to go to Memphis. Even though it was pouring rain … 

Nashville to Graceland isn’t a trip around the corner. It’s about 220 miles and a 3 hr drive according to my map. In reality, it’s 220, yes, but 4.5 hours. The extended time is because there was a portion of the freeway closed but there were no detour signs pointing to an alternate route. The local folks knew about them but neither I nor our GPS were aware of how to proceed. So, I studied the map as we went and found a way around it. The long way around it, but we eventually made it. We stopped at a Waffle House about halfway to get breakfast and our first coffee of the day. Here’s proof …

Somewhere along the line we stopped at a rest area. They have names just like other states …

The first thing everyone who enters Graceland is exposed to is the gift shop. That’s where you can buy sunglasses for any occasion, just like Elvis wore …

I won’t bore you with the interior of Graceland because you’ve probably seen it before. I will say, however, that both Diane and I were pleasantly surprised to discover how un-pretentious the home was. It was very nice and we enjoyed it. It gave us a different look at how to view Elvis. He seemed to be a very nice guy who died far too young.

There was a picture in one of the out buildings that totally caught me by surprise and may also cause a second look by my brothers … 

The left photo in the middle looks disturbingly like my first grade picture. The means (to me) that at one point in time I looked like Elvis. We just didn’t turn out the same in the same, did we?

After touring the mansion we exited the venue, which is far bigger than just the mansion, and headed home. We had a 3-4 hour trip ahead of us and we were tired already. Diane drove both directions and amazed me at how much stamina she had. I had a horrible time staying awake to make sure she stayed awake. Could be we died somewhere along I-40 and I’m writing this to you from an alternate universe in the Matrix. Seems real, though.

We made it home in time to get to bed about 8:15 pm after eating a less than stellar hamburger from the Opry Backstage Grill here in the hotel. We didn’t wake up for 12 hours and didn’t get out of bed until 10-11. We’re not as tired as we were when we went to bed but it took a long time to get some energy back. Plus, it just felt good to lay around doing nothing.

Finally, the need for food took precedent over the need for rest so we left in search of something to eat. In the car I searched on line for a decent place to go and we wound up at a really nice place just up the street. The Santa Fe Steakhouse where the food is excellent.

When we walked into the place an were being led to our booth, about 25 people sitting at tables in the middle of the room got up and left. Diane said she noticed that the crew was composed of sheriffs and firefighters. When the waitress showed up I asked if they needed to go out and get another steer before they could feed anyone else. She said no so I ordered steak fajitas. Diane ordered their beef enchiladas. Both of us were overjoyed with our choices. Not only was the food excellent, the wait staff was more than wonderful. 

Now I must end this and prepare for our last night here in Nashville. Tomorrow we fly home from rainy Tennessee to bright and sunny Oregon.

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?

 

 

A Marathon, a Trip, and Eating Out

Hi. In case you’re wondering, it appears that I’m going to survive the grueling sciatica affliction to which I was subjected due to the incredibly hard seats in the EOU gym during Maryssa’s graduation. That was on June 16th – FLASH! I need to share, right here, that June 16th is absolutely correct and I just pulled that date out of thin air BEFORE I checked it. I think I’m going to give myself a little star. Yessir! I’m getting a star!

Regarding my ongoing battle with sciatica pain, I must report that over the past 3.5 weeks I’ve had numerous occasions where I was almost pain-free. Every time that happened I figured it would be OK to do some work outside which undid all the good up til then. I should have listened to Diane. She’s was always saying, “stay on the couch or go take a nap”. Really, she told me that but I had a hard time with it because I couldn’t help thinking about all the outside chores that weren’t getting done while I snoozed away. I finally acquiesced to her demands and have since become very comfortable with napping pretty much any time of the day, guilt free.

Another setback was caused by my unauthorized participation in a marathon on the 4th of July in downtown St. Helens. Jennifer, our daughter, and Lydia, her daughter, were participating and asked Diane to join them on this trek around town. Much to my surprise, she agreed. Jennifer said she already bought the costumes for the dogs and had tutus for her, Lydia, and Diane. Sadly, I didn’t get a tutu.

The marathon had a name … The Underachiever .4K Marathon. Yes, that’s a .4K. Jennifer was in charge of Bronson while Diane and Lydia shared turns with Ziva which left me to bring up the rear, hobbling as fast as I could. When it was all said and done, huffing around every corner looking for the finish line, I finally found it after only 2 hrs 27 mins. Diane and the kids, being much younger and less prone to take small breaks along the way, finished in about 30 minutes.

This is the way our July 4th began …

Then we got all dressed up for the marathon … 

Marathon starting line – runners went first.

Diane and Jennifer bringing up the rear … I don’t know where Jeran was at this point, but he was there.

Here’s Jeran with Lydia and Bronson. Bronson looks absolutely ecstatic about all the commotion, doesn’t he? There was some doubt about Bronson’s willingness to walk all that way, especially while wearing that hat, but he did well. Another danger was the possibility of encounter someone on a skate board. Given the opportunity, he will chase down the rider and take the board away from him. Skaters have learned to not ride past the Walters house.

Ziva was interested in all the other dogs, of course …

This was Diane saying, “Don’t do it!”

Getting untangled …

First stop, the Krispy Creme Lady …

Next stop was the Running Dog Brewery for a beer, or a fantastic locally made root beer. Truly the best root beer I’ve ever tasted. 

Waiting in line for treats.

Still waiting in line …

… and, still waiting in line …

The race finished with a fashion show where Ziva won 2nd place. Judging was based on audience applause and Ziva’s ovation was the loudest. The judge, however, was obviously biased and gave it to a young girl and her dog who were wearing matching tutu’s. I knew I should have had a tutu!

The next day Diane thought it would be fun to have lunch on the Roof overlooking the Columbia River. It’s a new eating facility that, thankfully, has an elevator that drops visitors off at the bar. It was a perfect day and the food was great. They serve all manner of alcohol as well as sandwiches on hogie rolls. Good food, but they didn’t have ham. I wanted ham. Instead, I ate their version of a reuben which wasn’t bad. The view was awesome.

Straight out from the venue is Sand Island where the cities fireworks are ignited. No doubt it was loud and colorful the previous evening from this location. The far beach is the Washington side of the Columbia River.

Diane wanted to capture the flag in front of the old court house.

Last Sunday Diane and I took a trip to Bremerton, WA to deliver Cedric back to his ship, the USS Nimitz, America’s oldest super carrier. We didn’t leave until 2000 so it was a quiet and uneventful trip. We were treated to this sunset as we made our way north which made the trip worth it all by itself.

Instead of turning around and coming right back home, we booked a room at the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites on the Naval Base where we lounged until almost 1100 the next morning. Then we drove home.

After arriving home I had a short nap then picked up Jennifer and Lydia for another artistic adventure at a local school. It was fun as are all events that I get to share with my girls. My painting is the one on right. I think I could have done a better job if it hadn’t been for the two young girls at the table in front of us who were having way too much fun. They distracted me.

It was a good day.

On Tuesday I took my bad back to the golf course to ride around in a cart with Doug and Junior. Every once in a while I’d get out and smack a golf ball just as hard as I could, as did D and J. They were more serious about form and did better than me, but it turns out when I get enough rest and can hit a golf ball a long way. I can putt pretty good, too. It’s everything between the drive and the putting that gives me problems. Still, it’s fun to visit with the guys.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I had a visit with my VA primary care doctor, Dr. Gilbert. She’s been taking good care of me for a few years and this was just a followup so we didn’t have time to talk about everything new that’s cropped up since our last visit. So, I have another appointment next month to address my back. I’m getting my MRI, one of my most favorite things in the world to do. Yessir, stuff me in that tube, the one that tightens around you and squeezes the life out of you. Thankfully, they give me Valium so I can make it through without screaming too much.

After the doctor visit, we went to the Black Bear Diner on TV Highway for lunch. Rick and Jody joined us. Diane had a croissant tuna sandwich, and I had a California Burger.

Rick and Jody thought it was pretty funny and didn’t think I could actually compress it enough to get it in my mouth, but I fooled them. It was an excellent hamburger.

R&J had already eaten so they each just wanted a piece of pie. When it was delivered to the table it was evident karma was being observed because I got the last laugh. Turns out a piece of pie at the Black Bear Diner is a little bigger than a slice.

It was a good ending to a good day.

Maryssa’s Graduation and Other Stuff

Diane’s Wandering Dog, Ziva, was delivered back to the house about 0900 this morning after visiting the neighborhood below us. When I answered the door, a lady in running gear was holding her collar and explained that she was on North Vernonia Road, a very busy place. The lady said Ziva was a sweetheart and turned to run up the street when she started talking to her so she followed her. When she got to our yard she sat down and waited for her. She knocked on the door to ensure this was indeed ‘home’ for her. Nice neighbor. I think the reason she turned for home is because I whistled for her. She always comes back to the whistle. Sometimes it takes a while. I suspect she’s just out looking for a better place to live. Maybe someplace where there’s an RV and a young family who would take her everywhere with them. We didn’t take her on our last trip so I suspect she’s miffed and letting us know.

Old oldest dog, Panzee, has apparently recovered from a terminal case of arthritis in her left hip. Just a couple of weeks ago she came up lame to the point where we thought it was time to visit the vet to see if it’s time to send her on her way. But, she never indicated that she was in pain so we left her alone and gave her Rimadyl (dog ibuprofen) twice a day. Expensive stuff – $2 a pill. But, she’s family, so it’s OK. Letting her work it out turned out to be the right thing to do because after nearly going to the Great Beyond, she managed to work out her kinks and is currently getting around with just a minor limp. Before, she could hardly put any weight on it. Now she runs like nothing’s wrong. Amazing. I believe she’s living proof that if you don’t move it, you lose it. Lots of times I wish I was as smart as our dogs. So does Diane. I think Diane thinks I’d be a lot less prone to injure myself if I didn’t have opposing thumbs. She tried to trick me one time by taping my thumbs to my hand when I was asleep. She said she just wanted to see if I noticed the difference but boy did I fool her. I figured it out right away when I went to the bathroom and discovered that I couldn’t rip off a piece of toilet paper like normal. I believe she regretted that decision and hasn’t tried it again, as far as I know.

Speaking of questionable hips, I’ve got a couple. Now, I don’t mean to share this information as if I’m complaining, which I’m often accused of doing. No, I’m simply sharing facts as I know them. With regard to hips, I may have mentioned that I occasionally contract a semi-case of near-terminal sciatica and have successfully combatted it’s spread with frequent naps. The reason for previous naps may not have inferred the reason, but now you know. When I nap, I heal. We all do. I think.

Anyway, our BIG event this last week was a trip to Eastern Oregon to attend Maryssa’s graduation from Eastern Oregon University, in La Grande. She got a job in Albany, Oregon as a 3rd grade teacher at Waverly Elementary (I think) so things are going well for her.

The graduation ceremony was the 2nd one of the day for EOU students and was held in  a big auditorium that looked suspiciously like a gym with chairs all over the floor for the graduates, and extremely hard bench seats for the masses who attended. To ensure we’d get a seat, we arrived early.

Arriving early wasn’t difficult because we drove our RV to the Wild Horse Casino RV Park near Pendleton where we spent Friday night. We arrived at a reasonable hour thinking we might give the casino buffet a chance when Steffani and Maryssa both called to find out where we were. We explained where we were and Maryssa told me, “well, I’m just going by Wild Horse right now and we’re going to have dinner at Rooster’s Roadhouse in Pendleton. Turns out that Matt (Maryssa’s favorite male person in the world) was arriving with his family from Salem and were staying in Pendleton and everyone available was going to meet them. We were invited. I had just finished hooking everything up and the water heater had been on just long enough that I got a warm shower without having to dilute the hot with cold water to avoid burning off the first couple layers of skin. Having full hook-ups made that possible.

We arrived at Rooster’s right on time to find a herd of people waiting near the front door. Joining them, and passing around platitudes, we learned that Matt and family hadn’t yet arrived so we stood and waited for their arrival. It was a short wait.

Once in the restaurant we were ushered to a back room where we discovered even more people that we know, like brother Jim and Donna, and Bob’s parents. Bob is Maryssa’s dad. In all, once everyone was seated, there were 15 people at one long table.

Going down the left side, and back on the right, we have: Bob & Mary (Maryssa’s Grandparents), Me and Diane, Steffani (Maryssa’s Mom), Mia & Tom (Matt’s and David’s Folks), Bob (Maryssa’s Dad), Bogie (Bob’s Friend and Maryssa’s fake Uncle), Tyler (Maryssa’s Brother), Maryssa, Matt, David, Donna & Jim (Maryssa’s Other Grandparents). Hope that clarifies things.

The dinner was great but I caught a little grief when I commented to the waiter that I found it interesting they could cook a tenderloin to perfection and only get it luke-warm. But, it was good and I ate it all.

After dinner we parted ways and headed for our assigned abodes, some in Pendleton and some in La Grande (47 miles away).

The next morning we drove to THE EVENT and immediately connected with others in the group and captured good seats in the 18 that earlier arrivals (Steffani and Stefany) had reserved which was totally against the rules. I sat next to Donna and right behind Stefany (Daniel’s Fiancé and Maryssa’s Other Brother). We had fun talking with each other, adding our voices to the gathering crowd, and just relaxing. On those cold, hard benches, previously mentioned, which brings us back to the cause of my sciatica situation. Again, I’m not complaining, just explaining. To lighten the mood, Steffani gave us a look at a couple of sides of her personality:

I’m sure I’ll be blamed for instigating this, but that’s OK. Steffani has been well-trained through frequent exposure to her Uncles.

We mostly sat there for four hours, maybe five, seemed like six, and I actually wasn’t aware of the severity of my situation until the graduation was over when I stood up to leave the area. Prior to that, Maryssa received her diploma and was blessed with her BA in Elementary Education.

She ran down the ramp …

Posed for one last photo, and headed for the exit.

Her Mortarboard. The reference to Cleats is about her collegiate career as a stellar softball player. She ended her career at EOU with a game-winning, bottom of the 7th, Home Run in her last time at bat. What a way to go.

I took this one because I like the way her hair looked.

One last Coy Look before morphing into a Professional Teacher.

M&M – Matt & Maryssa

 

Interesting rock sculpture that Diane wanted to capture.

Us and Maryssa – one last touch …

Diane’s graduation gift to Maryssa; a cooler full of strawberry freezer jam. She had some at our house years ago and Diane never forgot. It was the perfect gift.

After that, we headed back to Pendleton to rest one more night before heading home on I-84. My little sciatica bones were absolutely killing me and thinking about the drive didn’t help.

Long story short … I drove for a couple or three hours of the planned five-hour trip then stopped and rested for a while. Couldn’t dally long because we had a date in Scappoose with the Walters family (minus Lydia and Ceiarra who drove to Nampa for Maryssa’s Graduation Party, taking a detour through Lewiston on the way – another story).

First, we met at Ixtapa for dinner then planned to go to the Incredible’s 2 movie. It took forever for our food to arrive making us wonder if we’d make the movie on time, but it worked out. The upside of eating first was that we didn’t spend $50 on popcorn and drinks at the movie.

I sat next to Jeran and he put up with a lot of fidgeting from me as I had to keep changing positions so I wouldn’t cry. The seats were soft, but the position wasn’t good. I hurt.  Still, I enjoyed the movie. We all did. Even Jeran who’s seen it about six times. It was a good, fun evening out with the Fam. I regret that I didn’t get any photos of everyone at the dinner, but you’ve seen them before. Just close your eyes and visualize Me, Cedric, Stephen, Jeran, Daniel, Jennifer, and Diane.

Then, home. When we got there Diane gave me half a Vicodin and I went to bed early. Slept all night, to 0430 when the dogs got up. Let them out, fed them, then found a position on the sofa that didn’t hurt. When Diane got up she gave me a whole Vicodin and I slept most of the day away, healing. I had to heal sufficiently to enable me to go play golf the next day. Oddly enough, as bad as my sciatica hurt me, swinging a golf club doesn’t hurt.

Now my story is done.

Party, Yard Work, and Strawberries

As previously reported, Jeran Daniel Lynn Walters was officially ushered into adulthood when he participated in his class graduation ceremony last Friday. In truth, it was really official at the conclusion of his graduation party hosted by his family Sunday afternoon. Everyone cleaned, Daniel cooked, and Jennifer did the “Mom Thing”, flittering around, organizing, and making sure everything was OK. It was.

It was a gala event that included everyone important in his life including his kindergarten and first grade teachers.

The food was terrific, especially with the introduction of something Lydia made after watching YouTube. It’s called an Avocado Bomb and looks like this before cooking:

If memory serves me correctly, it’s a peeled avocado, cut in half and filled with mozzarella cheese, wrapped in a packed layer of ground beef, then secured into place with as many pieces of bacon you want to use. They were cooked on the BBQ and slathered with BBQ sauce when done, about 40 minutes. Lydia isn’t a fan of ground beef so used ground turkey instead but everyone loved them anyway. When I first saw them I thought it was just a bunch of bacon wrapped around a bunch of bacon.

Unlike Lydia, I’m not a fan of ground turkey but I sliced off a chunk anyway. It was really good.

For more photos and information about the party, visit Jennifer’s Facebook page.

Today the dogs felt it was OK to wake me up at 0400. I know they do that because that’s when it starts getting light here and another reason I don’t like daylight savings time. Dogs just don’t get it.

I got up, fed them, and released them into the neighborhood. Actually, I released them into the back yard, but they have access to the neighborhood from there and occasionally choose to exercise that option. After eating my morning banana and taking my pills, I welcomed the dogs back into the house. The cat showed up and came in with them, ate a few crunchies, then went right back out on the porch to glare at the yard. She does that every morning. She’s always on the wrong side of the door. Because she does that it makes getting comfortable difficult for me because about the time I’m ready for my morning nap she starts beating on the door. Literally. Thankfully, this time of year, I can just leave the door open for her. Then I napped until Diane got up.

Diane got up early this morning to clean up 24 hallocks of strawberries that we got at Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island after church yesterday. I added a link for “hallock” because you won’t find it in the dictionary. At least I couldn’t. But, it’s one of those words from my youth when it was OK for kids to do manual labor in Oregon. The link pretty much tells my story with regard to that subject so I won’t elaborate except to share that 1 hallock is about 1 pint. When I was picking berries, I could easily eat 2 or 3 hallocks of berries during the course of the day. That’s totally a guess because the strawberries that were eaten were always the biggest and best ones I found. Also, if I found my carrier magically full and I still had, say, 10 feet to go on my row, I’d just eat my way to the end. I say “magically” because I was very slow. Everyone, especially my brothers, were way faster than me and earned a lot more. The money we earned picking berries went toward school clothes. My brothers got lots of stuff. I got socks and underwear.

While Diane was working on the berries, I went around the yard killing blackberries and pulling grass. Since it rained quite hard yesterday, and a little this morning, it reminded me of berry picking … sticking my nice warm hands into those cold wet strawberry bushes. It was brutal. Today I had gloves, though, so it wasn’t so bad.

In the end I had this much stuff for the burn pile:

When looking at it the thought occurred to me that I either needed a bigger trailer, or I should make more than one trip to the burn pile.

Of course I discarded that thought because the trailer was already loaded and I wasn’t going to expend more energy unloading some before giving it a shot.

I almost made it all the way. Had I skirted around that last blueberry bush a little wider this wouldn’t have happened. Turns out I had enough energy to hurk the part that escaped over to its proper place.

But that was apparently the last of my energy because I fell on the lawn mower when mounting it to go back to the house. Yes, I fell on it, not off it. It was one of those slow motion moments where you think you have event under control but you really don’t.

In this case, my right foot was obstructed by the mower deck (I didn’t lift it high enough) and I knew something interesting was going to happen so I calmly grabbed hold of the steering wheel with my l left hand. This caused a rotation toward the right causing my right knee to land on the running board which I thought ended the falling process so I let go of the steering wheel. Some physics genius probably could have warned me that letting go of the steering wheel would result in a pivot on that knee to my right because of my unstable weight distribution in that direction and the fact that I was still moving slowly to my right.

So now I’m slowly turning to my right, headed for a header in front side of the mower deck with nothing to hang on to. I’m reaching out, and touching a lot of ‘things’, but nothing I could grip and I just went down, turning slowly, until I finally landed on my back next to the mower. It was quite exciting as my mind whirled with all the possibilities of which part of my body was going to get hurt the worst from all the projections in close vicinity.

I lay there for a few moments, assessing the damage, and going over the sequence of events that brought me to that moment. Nothing seemed to hurt and I couldn’t see any blood dripping off my hands and arms, so figured I must have missed all the things that usually make me bleed when I just bump them. It was amazing!

Had anyone been watching they would have found it pretty entertaining. I was kind of wishing someone had been there to capture it on video so I could enjoy it myself. From start to finish I bet it took 10 seconds for me to reach the ground. That’s slow. Normally when I … when someone falls it’s way quicker than that.

After a bit I rolled over and slowly attained a vertical position without detecting any new injuries, then climbed on the mower without mishap and drove back to the house. I figured that fall was a sign my work day was done and put everything away. Then I went in the basement door, took all my clothes off near the washer, and went upstairs to take a shower. I couldn’t hear any strange voices up there so figured we didn’t have company so I was safe.

Diane was still working on the strawberries when I got out of the shower so I tried to help but she wouldn’t let me. Had she allowed me to help I would have gladly taken the blame for this …

Apparently strawberries increase in volume when you beat them up with a Cuisinart. Actually, she’d gone through the process without mishap 2 or 3 times previously so it was just “one of those things.” No permanent damage was done. That was some sticky stuff, let me tell ya.  I offered to clean it up but was denied again. The end results will be something we’ll enjoy for a long time. 

This last photo is for Ruth, and anyone else who loves mountains. It’s for Ruth especially, however, because she tried to capture it every day of the two weeks she recently spent with us and it was just never out for viewing. So, Ruth, here you are… Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson. And a lovely view of a new neighborhood in progress.

I’m done now.

Pets, Weeds, Kids, Golf, Friends, and Higher Education

I’ve been sitting at my computer for about an hour paying bills and checking emails to see if I’ve received any task requests. When I was done I pondered the direction I should take for the remainder of my day. Diane abandoned me again, to accompany Jennifer to Jeran’s Senior Assembly, then off to PDX to shop for “stuff”. So, it was either put on my work clothes so I could go out and pull a bunch of weeds that aren’t going anywhere (but up), or continue sitting here to chat a bit. Not a difficult choice because I did the weed ‘thing’ the last two days and found it difficult to move around at the end of those days.

So, here I am.

I also visited Rimidyl.com to register Panzee’s latest receipt for her meds. Not cheap stuff, but the company gives back a little by keeping them informed about how much customers have paid. In our case, Panzee received 60 100MG pills for $120.95. Just so you know, Rimidyl is like ibuprofen for dogs to help with arthritis pain. She gets it every day and she’s still getting around pretty good. Slowing down, for sure, and stairs are getting to be a huge problem, but she is still toughing it out. When she gets to the point where she can’t get up to go outside we’ll have to make a hard decision. Not looking forward to that.

The Littles visited for a while last week and that’s always fun. They love to run and play in the yard so it’s difficult to catch all three of them together. They just keep growing for some reason. Love those three a ton. They are, in case you forgot, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie:

Sailor Cedric is making his way down from Bremerton to visit quite often. He’s lucky that his ship is stationed so close to home. I was never that lucky. The closest we ever got to home was Long Beach, CA. Not a short trip. It’s good to see him, always.

Last Tuesday was a special day because we met up with Ashlee Holm for lunch. Her last name isn’t Holm any more because she’s married, but that’s the way I have her listed in my contacts list. She is working for her doctorate for physical therapy at Pacific University and her twin is still in Wisconsin also working on her doctorate in the medical field. Her Grandparents are our good friends Butch & Margo who we’ve known since the late 70’s when we were stationed aboard the USS Barbey (FF-1088). And no, they never made a USS Ken, in case you’re wondering. It was good to see Ashlee and feel blessed that she senses a family connection with us even though we truly aren’t related and we never knew her as a child. It’s just one of those old friend connections that has carried on. I’m gonna have to ask her again what her married name is. I do know that she’s married to Michael and they have a dog named Rusty.

Yesterday I was allowed to go golfing with JR and Doug. Doug called to warn me that JR had another stroke since the last time we went out so he may not be able to make it all the way around. But, he was going. As it turned out, JR had the best score of all. His only ailment from the two strokes, after being paralyzed on his right side both times, is some weakness on his right side. Other than that, you’d never know he was having such a problem. To put this in perspective, after his first stroke we golfed on Wednesday, May 30. Between then and yesterday he had another one and recovered enough to go out and beat both me and Doug. Pretty amazing. I’ve shared lots of photos of the Peal Boys in previous posts so I didn’t take any ‘people’ photos yesterday. But, here’s one from better days …

Here’s one from yesterday that I took of Doug’s ball. I was in a cart alone so went out ahead and found his ball and marked it so he’d be able to find it.

He removed the sticks, of course, and made a fantastic recovery shot into the #3 fairway but it wasn’t enough to beat JR.

Yesterday was also a day that Jeran enjoyed his Senior Day at school. He and the rest of his class were taken on a tour of the elementary and middle schools wearing their graduation duds. Jeran was very popular with the kids because most of them know him from his work at the family’s church. I think Jennifer had the sign because folks who don’t know her usually think she’s his sister.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Diane and Jennifer went shopping, leaving me all alone. The rule in that kind of situation, as you all know, is NO POWER TOOLS. I generally abide by the rule but with no supervision, it’s very simple to disregard it. My chosen task, pulling weeds, didn’t require the use of power tools so you’d think I was safe. Before beginning that task I was invited to lunch with Jennifer and Diane before they went to Portland. We ate at the Happy Garden over by Walmart. We took Ruth there when she visited but she got a bad ration of something and didn’t like it much. We were sad that happened. Anyway, I ate all of mine while Diane and Jennifer each ordered the same combination plate and each ate half of what they had. They agreed that they should have ordered just one combo and an extra plate. Seems like someone is always making that comment whenever we eat Chinese, no matter where it’s at.

When we parted ways, we stopped by Walmart so Jennifer could purchase a kayak, one of the gifts for a lucky senior at their party tomorrow night after graduation. It fit just right in my truck. Then I stopped by ACE to see if they had one of those weed burners I see folks using all the time. It’s not a power tool so I was safe. I also bought a 22″ machete that I thought would come in handy to take out the blackberry vines. So, what could go wrong, right?

Actually, I had no trouble with either of those purchases because I was very careful with the machete and couldn’t find a propane bottle that wasn’t connected to something so I could give the burner a try. I was stuck with my Pulaski and machete. I managed to make it all the way through the afternoon without injury. I did all this …

Doesn’t look like much, I admit, but it was brutal work because we have very tough grass, especially when it gets about 4′ tall. This photo also serves to show you Ruth that they heavy equipment in the new housing project really is being used. They just finished paving the road today.

There’s about 40 different kinds of plants in that small plot and it’s surrounded by granite rocks that are good for the Pulaski. I got all the way around, and through this little plot, then came up against the dusty miller (Jacobaea maritima), front right. Unknown to me, when a branch dies on this thing, it’s a weapon of sorts because it creates amazing wounds when one encounters the sharp ends. With the exception of random nicks and dings from the ever-present blackberry vines, this was my only significant injury.

I swear I barely touched that dead branch and this is what it did through the sleeve of my shirt. It happened just before Diane got home so I suppose the occasion for the injury was so I’d have something to show her for the energy I’d expended while she was gone. She wasn’t impressed even a little bit. Hardly worth a place as injuries go. She just looked at it and said, “Huh. I need help unloading the car.” So I helped her unload the car of frozen stuff then, since the wound wasn’t actively bleeding, went back to finish getting all the way around the plot. I should have taken the photo before my shower because it looked way gnarlier covered with dirt and dried blood.

I went through the entire day thinking it was Friday. Not that it matters, but I’m a little bummed that I have to do Friday all over again. On this second Friday we get to go watch Jeran graduate from High School.

More on that next time.

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.