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.

Veteran’s Day & Diane

Once again it’s 11/11 and time to thank a Vet.

Too bad some folks only do that once a year. Could be they only have that opportunity once a year. I know that I don’t do it every day, but I do it every time I see a vet. Most of them wear hats to advertise their military association so it’s a dead giveaway.

I’ve expanded my thanks to include all manner of public servants, in addition to military members, present and past. I think it’s only fair.

So, if you see some guy on your trip through Oregon, telling a Teacher, Nurse, Mother, Wife, Waiteperson, Cashier, Busboy, Policeman, Fireman, Garbage Man, Doctor, Phlebotomist, or Mailperson, “Thanks for your service,” it might be me.

I’ve found that teachers are especially surprised, and pleased, to get that kind of recognition from an old guy wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat. It’s very gratifying. You should try it.

Now I must share that my wife, Diane, who endured over 20 years as a Navy wife with me, is currently on a mission to get us a Papa Murphy’s pizza. She left me home, alone, in my pajamas. When I told her that I might just put on some outdoor clothes while she’s gone, she said, “Why?” For me, that’s pretty profound since she lived the military life for so long and endured the same deployments that I did.

She’s the best.

I’ll get the next pizza.


Sunset Bay State Park and other Stuff

Sorry I haven’t been around to make my normal short, concise, posts, but Diane and I were off planet for a number of days enjoying the Oregon Coast from our perch at Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay. It’s near North Bend, too, and right next to Shore Acres State Park. Shore Acres is the park that has a botanical garden that volunteers decorate every year. Grant MaComie did a story on it not long ago and it’s a nice story about how it all came together. Knowing about this ahead of time, Diane booked another four days, in the same space (A-13) at Sunset Bay that we vacated last Monday. These four days are for the end of November when the lights are all up and blinking. The crews have already begun the task of stringing lights and they will be lit from Thanksgiving thru New Year’s Eve.

Actually, we were only gone for five days but who’s counting? Really. Just five days. We didn’t have cell service, no TV, no internet, no nuthin. We actually had to sit and talk to each other for long periods of time which was interesting and revealing to one of us. With all the distractions of our daily life on Earth we don’t seem to take time to visit like we should. I recommend such a trip like this for everyone. We were in a beautiful place and found that we really didn’t miss all those things that capture our attention for long periods of time.

We did miss Ziva, however. She’s our camper and loves getting away from the other dogs once in a while. As we packed to leave she knew we were leaving without her and did her absolute best to make sure we knew she knew and that she wasn’t a bit happy about it. It was really tough to leave her standing there, all alone in the driveway, as we pulled away from the house to leave.

OK, we didn’t really do that … she was in the house, but she knew we were leaving. I suspect that she slept most of the five days we were away. Truly, she does that when we’re home. She’s a dog. When not chasing something or barking at something, she sleeps.

Normally I jot little notes down on my next post about things I want to share. Kinda like an outline. But it’s not an outline, it’s just a list. To use this program I need the internet so I used the Notes app on my Ipad for the list. I just now tried to bring it up and got a brief glimpse of what I saved, then it just all disappeared. Like magic. Poof! So, now I’ll have to remember stuff to make it worth your time.

We left home at 1:30 pm on Thursday and arrived after 6:30 pm. It’s a long drive (277 miles) and I had to do it all alone because Diane doesn’t feel ready to drive the RV yet. So, we go slow. Making that more of a necessity was the windshield that was really, really a mess. Actually, it was only a problem when cars came at me causing all the dirt smeared on the window to refract the light to the point where I was just kinda guessing where the road was. Another reason for arriving during daylight. It would have been just fine if we could have left home around 9 am as planned, but that never seems to work out. I dislike having to park and hook everything up in the dark and told Diane that if we don’t leave by 9 am on this next trip, we will wait until the next day. Or, we just don’t go. Just before I could stomp my foot for emphasis, she agreed. We’ll see how that works out.

The next morning we got up really late and didn’t do much right away because it was really foggy crappy looking outside. So, we just lounged around and read our books. Later in the afternoon we launched the Toyota and took a trip up and down the road outside the park, then cruised in to Coos Bay to look around. Diane drives the Toyota so I had an opportunity to view the road with a critical eye and couldn’t help but be amazed that I had actually driven a 35.5′ motorhome around those windy turns without once dumping us into a ditch, or the ocean. It was humbling, let me tell ya.

Over the course of the next 4 days we did a lot of reading, watched one DVD movie that we’d both already seen (Dare Devil) and slept a lot. Once in a while we ate something. I can hear many of you thinking that “you watched Dare Devil twice! Really?” Well, yes we did. It was luck of the draw. We’ll never have to watch it again.

We made a few trips to Fred Meyer in Coos Bay, walked up and down their boardwalk for a while, saw a couple of really interesting sea-going vehicles,

and had lunch at Shark Bites. Diane had halibut fish and chips and I had my crab Louie. We both loved our meals. Each piece of Diane’s fish was about an inch thick and cooked to perfection. My Louie had at lease half a pound of Dungeness crab meat on it. Wonderful. The trip was now worth it.

We were able to spend our last day sitting on the beach watching the sun go down on Sunset Bay. Sadly, I failed to bring my phone/camera to capture the moment. Just believe me, it was really pretty. I’ll take pictures when we go back there the end of the month.

Perhaps the following photos will serve to tide you over till then. These are just shots taken around the park.

This is Simpson Reef. Way back ‘when’ the Simpson family owned all of this.

This is the bottom of a tree that apparently blew over a long time ago.

Just me and my lovely bride.

A different look at Simpson Reef in the distance. 

Then, while driving back to the park one day, we came across this and thought you’d enjoy it as much as we did.

The trip home was uneventful.We stopped at the DQ in Reedsport for lunch. Ate inside, then took our drinks and headed north up Highway 101 to Florence, the scene of our last visit to this area a few weeks ago.

One thing I didn’t get while at the beach was a good bowl of clam chowder. I really like that stuff. So, I rummaged around in a bunch of cupboards until I found a can and warmed it up. When it blew up and figured it was done. I was using the saucer as a cover and when it blew it flipped completely over. What fun.

Betty, our County Clerk, called this afternoon to find out if Diane is ready to go to work with the Counting Board tomorrow. I told her that I’m sure she was and that I was currently washing all her underwear to ensure she was properly dressed … then Diane snatched the phone right out of my hand before I had a chance to say goodbye. I thought that was kind of rude

I forgot to mention that I went golfing with the Peal Brothers before we left on our trip and again on the day after we returned. Diane thinks it’s good for me to golf with these guys. So do I.

It was pretty both times.

Little Jennie Has a Birthday!!

Our youngest daughter celebrated another birthday today. She’s 42. I can tell you that because that’s what the candles on the cake report. You can’t miss it. But, not knowing that, you’d never guess it. She’s one of those perpetually young people who don’t age like normal folks. I think still think she and Lydia are sisters more often than now when they are together.

Lydia and Ceiarra spent Saturday at our house baking and making all sorts of minion stuff for a surprise birthday party they hosted for Jennie. The party wasn’t until Sunday evening because Jennie worked all day. She thought she was coming to our house for a family dinner cooked by the girls so it as a total surprise when Daniel drove her up and the place was full of strange vehicles. It was a good surprise and she had a good time. There was lots of chocolate and sugar infused delicacies galore.

Here’s what the table looked like before anyone showed up …

First, the cooks, Lydia and Ceiarra – they thought it was cute to hide behind the decorations … and it was …

… but they did give me a better look.

I think it’s pretty evident that the entire party was about Minions. They are Jennie’s favorite.

The guest of honor showed up about 30 minutes after everyone else.

We got her into the house …

Then convinced her to put on her minion jammies. Cute.

I didn’t mention that it was a pajama party, did I. Well, it was. Not everyone wore them but it was still a festive mix of people.

It was a fun time for everyone.

The minion ski hat was my contribution. Diane found the pattern and suggested that I make it, so I did. I still had the stitches in my thumb at the time so crocheting was tricky because the my stitches tended to get tangled up with the minion hat stitches.

Jeran tried on the hat.

Austin and Georgie – Austin wore a banana costume and Georgie had a minion hoodie. Should have had them put up their tops.

Jerrie Anne …

The end.

Steaks and Dog Food

This afternoon I heard the dogs arguing in the living room and had to go see what it was all about before the fur flew. It’s true. The argument was escalating to that point. Actually, it’s only Ziva growling, but it’s a bit scary for me because I know that if they tangle, I’ll have to get between them. They have substantial teeth which makes that move risky for one of us.

When I got to the scene of the event here’s what I found …

That’s an open, and empty, food pouch that the big dogs don’t get to eat. Normally. It belonged to Ozzie. Now, had they ripped the package open from the top instead of the bottom I may have thought one of them retrieved the empty packet from the garbage but the way it was open gave them away.

Perhaps the dogs used this as a teaching moment to say something like, “Jerrie, CLOSE THE STUPID CUPBOARD!”

Or, maybe it was simply them showing off what they can do and to get a sense about how upset I’d be with what they did. You know, not so mad, they could do it again some day. Really mad, they could do it again some day but not too soon.

About the steaks … they are the ones Diane bought to take with us to Detroit Lake last week. They were rib eyes and would have been really good BBQ’d. The problem, as I’m sure you guessed there was one, we left for Detroit Lake Sunday afternoon but didn’t find the steaks in the car trunk until Tuesday. So, they were incarcerated in an unrefrigerated car trunk for over two days. Still, when I picked them up they both still looked nice and pink, and they weren’t warm at all. When I pierced the plastic in which they were encased, I didn’t detect any odors that smelled like spoiled meat and neither could Diane. But, she said e-coli could still be lurking around in there and that I should throw them away.

I just couldn’t do it. They were so pretty, and I really like steak. So, I lit the BBQ and cooked them. Still no suspicious smells, but I cooked them a little longer than the normal 5 minutes a side anyway. Brown all the way through. No red.

So, I put one of them on a plate and started easy with little teeny bites to see if anything happened to me. I ate slow, chewing each bite until it was so well masticated that it could easily have come fresh from a really good blender. Suitable for ingestion by someone with no teeth.

I’ve got to admit that it wasn’t all that satisfying. It took me a while to figure out that it was probably the dried onion I used in lieu of the seasoned salt I normally use which was still at home on a shelf in the kitchen.

Diane’s words about e-coli started rolling around in my head about the time I got half-way through the steak. That, and the wrong flavor of the meat, convinced me that I probably shouldn’t be eating any more steak right then. I kind of lost my taste for meat and decided that common sense dictated that cease and bow to my bride’s superior knowledge about such things.

Then the wait began. I figured it wouldn’t take long for the stomach cramps to begin and was torn between calling an ambulance right away, or just wait for the pain to begin. I decided to wait. I waited for 3 days and nothing happened.

Apparently I’m immune to e-coli, or whatever else could be wrong with meat that should have been totally spoiled due to lack of refrigeration.

Yup. I’m immune. It’s been 7 days and I’m going with the option that e-coli normally strikes 3-4 days after exposure.

That part about e-coli taking up to 10 days to make itself known is a myth.

I may have a different story to tell in three days.

Detroit Lake State Park, Pacific Crest Trail, Sauvie Island, and Home Depot

We spent last week out of the country camping at Detroit State Park. That would be the reason you haven’t heard from us in a while. Our parking spot was close to the lake and gave us ideas about a family event next summer since all those sites are big enough for many tents.

Detroit Lake is known for good fishing, something neither Diane nor I do. Catching fish involves cleaning them, unless you give them away. We find it much easier to just lay around and watch others fish then go to the store when we want some for ourselves. It’s a beautiful place.

We took walks multiple times a day. Per the rules, all dogs had to be on a leash so we complied. I just didn’t hang on to Ziva’s all the time.

During one walk Ziva had a notion that she was some sort of water dog who liked ducks and was moving in on this one swimming away.

Once we talked some sense into her she got out of the water then walked briskly down the docks to a slip where the ducks were just sitting. Of course they bailed off and I honestly thought Ziva was going to follow them. But, apparently dog sense prevailed and she just watched them swim away. Odd that she liked the ducks because she didn’t give the numerous geese in the area a second glance.

There are nice trails like this all over the park.

After one long walk around the park lasting a couple of hours we returned and discovered that I left my keys in the RV door. I did that, of course, so I’d know where they were.

It rained almost the entire time we were there but that was OK. It was the first real rain we’d seen in almost 3 months. The dogs didn’t mind it either, but it kept us busy drying them off.

Went to Sisters one day to look around. It’s a neat little town. Almost like moving downtown Seaside from the beach to the high desert. Very touristy kind of place. On the way back we took a walk on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Since it was snowing we didn’t go more than a couple of miles up the trail before Ziva’s feet got too cold to continue. It was pretty chilly. Turns out she’s a warm weather dog. I had to carry her back to the car.

The area was burned off at some point in the past, not from recent forest fires. But, it gives you an idea how fire can decimate the environment and makes us appreciate those who fight the fires all the more.

On the way home we stopped at a Home Depot to buy baseboard material for our hall project. It was Diane’s idea, a good one, because we had the motor home with plenty of room to carry 20 foot lengths of material. As it turned out, we only got 8 foot lengths because that’s all they had of the kind Diane wanted. Still, it was nice to not have to figure a way to carry all that stuff home. Ziva and Ozzie enjoyed the shopping trip, too. Ziva even helped me tow the cart around the place.

OK, so Ozzie wasn’t so hot on riding in a cart but he had to. If Diane would have left him on his leash he would have stopped and peed on every display he encountered. We know that’s true.

Before leaving on our trip, my good friend and golf buddy, Doug, drove down to our back 40 to save some apples. He said his apples are all gone and the deer need some to eat. So, he picked a few.

Saturday we participated in a beach cleanup on Sauvie Island which is in the middle of the Columbia River between Portland and St. Helens. About half of the island is farmland and the other half is a wild life preserve. There is no mention in the history books about this beach where Diane signed us up to clean.

During the summer Collin’s Beach is a pretty popular place for the brave at heart. The link contains a photo of me that I didn’t want to use but Diane insisted.

After we cleaned up the litter we stopped at Kruger’s Farm for some fresh veggies. They have great prices on pretty much everything they grow. This sign in the store caught my attention and thought it would be a good way to end this.

The sign was there, but I didn’t see any chickens.

Looking for Trouble

The other day on my way out the door to go golfing, Diane asked me if I’d eaten anything. Of course, I hadn’t, so I grabbed a handful of Costco bacon bits, 3 truffles, and a cracker I found in my chair. Those, and a cup of to-g0 coffee, and I was ready. Sadly, I was late for my tee time because I made the crucial mistake of telling Diane what I had. Apparently my choices do not count of valid food choices. So, I had a bowl of cereal.

Later the same day, checked the in and out temps on the catalytic converter on Lydia’s Envoy. Not having a tool specifically designed to do this kind of work, I chose to use Diane’s instant read meat thermometer. It seemed to be the same on either end so I figure the catalytic converter wasn’t working properly. As a result of this finding, I removed the catalytic converter and inserted an 18″ piece of 3″ ABS pipe in its place.

I know, it’s illegal to remove a catalytic converter, but it’s temporary because it’s going to melt then the exhaust will get really loud. I’m hoping that it will hold up for short trips around town. I would have used heavy-duty PVC but didn’t have any. It’s thicker and takes longer to melt which would allow for longer trips to, say, Warren, or Columbia City.

That’s it for today. I need to get to Kitchen Kaboodle before they close so I can get a new meat thermometer for Diane.