Coronavirus and Wasting Time.

Day 19 of isolation

Is it really isolation when you do it with 7 other people, 3 dogs and a cat? Yes, it is. All of the humans in the house have strict orders to not touch us, ever, and do not speak in our direction unless they are 10 feet away from us. So far it’s working OK, but the kids are getting rambunctious so it’s only a matter of time before someone gets tipped over the edge. We’ve already decided, as a group, if that happens the first one over will be chucked over the neighbors fence into their goat pen. It won’t be difficult, and they probably won’t mind because they like the goats. Just not sure if they will like living with them and eating their food.

Diane and I are still relatively healthy. Just some age-related stuff going on, but that’s been going on for years. It’s not a problem, just more noticeable now since we spend most of our time reclining, or in our beds, when thoughts are allowed to run wild while Diane fast forwards through the commercials. That’s only with the broadcast stuff, of course, so we toss in a movie once in a while to get a longer period of energy focused on the plot of whatever it is we’re watching. If it’s a Hallmark movie there’s not a lot of focus necessary because everyone knows the guy almost always gets the girl. The only trick with those movies, however, is that sometimes the girl gets the guy. Nice twist.

We’ve been reading a lot, too, but that gets boring after 4-5 hours. I test Diane’s patience once in a while … OK, I test them often … by asking her questions while we’re reading to see how many times I can get her to read the same paragraph over and over. That’s risky business, of course, but I’m not close enough for her to hit me and I can get out of my chair faster than she can should payback appear to involve physical contact. I learned this trick from my big brother Jack. He used to pepper me with questions while I was reading …

“What book are you reading?” … pause

“What’s it about?”… pause

“How many pages are in the book?” …pause

“What page are you on?” … pause

“Who is the author?”… pause

“Where did you get it?” … pause

You get the idea. It doesn’t take long before the target of those questions causes the recipient to escalate the conflict by raising their voice, or stomping out of the room without even a goodbye kiss. If you can focus, just ignore the questions until the perp gets tired of not getting answers.

We’re running out of food so we’re all investigating creative ways to capture and cook rats and squirrels. There are an abundance of them around here. We can hunt squirrels by day, and rats by night. That diet is, of course, a last resort. We’re just educating ourselves in case it becomes necessary. I’m pretty sure the neighbors’ goats, chickens, and ducks will hit the frying pan before we devolve into rat eaters. That’s a guess, of course. Who really knows what will happen when we run out of canned food?

The Littles got calls from their teachers telling them what’s going to happen since school is done for the school year. The youngest ones are getting Chrome Books so they can study on-line with their teachers which is a really good thing. The oldest, 6th grade, hasn’t shared how on-line schooling going to affect her free time but I suspect it will be equally as creative. They are all excited about getting back to learning.

I really try to keep their interest up but for some reason they don’t believe anything I tell them. That could be because whenever they ask me a question I address it like a challenge to include “Arizona” in my answer. It’s really easy …

“Grandpa, where are you and Grandma going?”

“Arizona.”

“Grandpa, where’s Grandma?”

“I think she went to Arizona.”

“Grandpa, have you seen Mom?”

“She said she was going to Arizona.”

“Grandpa, where did you get that?”

“Arizona.”

Their response to each of my answers is, “that’s not true,” or “no you didn’t.” But, they keep asking and I keep giving them the same answers. It passes the time and keeps them from asking more meaningful questions that I probably couldn’t answer correctly.

That’s it for now.

See you later.

Pajamas

I seriously considered providing my personal thoughts about the ongoing pandemic, but common sense cause me to put those thoughts aside. The reason, or course, is because I generally do not take things seriously, and this is a serious matter. Not something to make light of. So, I won’t.

Instead, I’ll share my newfound understanding about when it’s OK to wear pajamas beyond the perimeter of our yard.

Yes, I’ve been wearing my pajamas for a number of days – not the same ones all the time, but various “clean” ones. Until yesterday I was unaware that there was a dress version of pajamas that can be worn anywhere one wishes to go. Prior to this startling information I was perfectly comfortable going pretty much anywhere I had to go. Typically, that means I went to the mail box, an occasional trip to the drive through of a local fast food joint, or just a walk around the perimeter of our yard. You may have already surmised that those examples do not involve close contact with anyone. They were just isolated trips.

Yesterday, however, we went to Jennie’s and Daniel’s home to deliver some items we thought the girls of the house might find useful. As we went out the door Diane asked if I knew I was still in my jammies. I responded in the affirmative and continued to the car. Then she asked me if I was also wearing underwear. I said “no” because I didn’t think underwear were necessary when wearing pajamas. I mean, I thought we were going to Walmart* on the way home.

At this point I received a very specific message that when visiting people one must wear underwear, especially when visiting your adult children. To this point in my life I had been blissfully unaware that wardrobe restrictions of this kind also pertained to old people.

So, I went all the way back to our bedroom, put on clean underwear, went back to the car and was sent right back to the bedroom to put the underwear on under my jammy bottoms as the name implies. It was worth a shot.

Bottom line, it’s really hard to have fun with all this serious stuff going on. I’ll be very glad when it’s over and everything gets back to normal. Diane will be especially glad because as a form of protest against COVID-19, I’ve stopped shaving until it’s gone. Kinda dumb to protest against a virus, I know, but I really don’t like shaving any more and it’s the only thing I could think of at the time.

I seriously hope and pray that all of you are staying safe and healthy.

Hey, Howdy!

It’s been a while since I’ve let you know that I’m still out here causing grief. I’d ask for forgiveness but it really doesn’t matter because you either missed me or you didn’t. Not a problem.

The occasion for this visit is to let folks know that, after a grueling number of months, Adam got the job as Youth Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens. Some of you may recall a previous post where I mentioned Adam and Alicia. We’re very happy for them and they are looking forward to making their home in the St. Helens area. We’ve had the privilege to visit with them a couple of times recently and it was enough exposure for me to actually remember the girls’ names: Ivy, Autumn, Cora. I can even call them by the correct name when I see them. It will be fun getting to know the Pinkston family better.

Cedric spent a couple of weeks at home and had to be back aboard the Nimitz for work today so Diane drove him back to Bremerton yesterday. I was allowed to ride along to keep her company as long as I didn’t ask a lot of questions. We planned to leave home at noon and managed to get gone right on time around 2-2:30. The ultimately goal was to arrive in Bremerton before dark, which we did. After dropping Cedric at his apartment we mossed up to the Trigger Ave. gate in Silverdale to the Naval Station to see if the Navy Lodge had a room available for the night. I called the previous day and was told NO. We’ve discovered that just arriving and asking works well, and they had a room for us. Nifty.

Before checking in we headed back into town to find a place to eat that had decent food, not fast food. After a long trip on the freeway we wound up about a mile away at Fujiama Japanese Steak House. It’s in a little strip mall close to the base and is truly deceptive in appearance. The entry is small but inside is at least 10 Benihana grills surrounded by chairs. Each grill could accommodate about 10 people, so it’s like a family style Benihana. That isn’t part of their advertisement. It’s just a steak house, right? It’s way better than that.

Diane and I split a steak and I inherited all of her broccoli from the vegetable pile. The chef was talented and put on a good show. To start he juggled some raw eggs which he then cooked on the grill. They were destined to be part of the fried rice. Before mixing it all up, however, he went around the table addressing each person in turn, then tossing a small piece of egg which they were supposed to catch in their mouth. Some chose to skip this exercise because they were wearing nice clothes, and others who accepted the challenge saw the egg flying over their heads, or splattering against their cheeks or chins. As it turned out, I was the last one and I caught my piece of egg like a pro. You would have been proud. I’m pretty sure the other diners wanted to applaud, but they didn’t. Diane was one of the decliners which was just fine.

Needless to say, the meal was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Although the steak was good, I’ve already decided that the next time we go there, and we will, I’m getting the shrimp. I was given a couple to sample and they are awesome. And, there were a lot of them for those who ordered them.

In addition to catching my piece of the flying egg, you will be proud to learn that I was the only person at the table who actually ate everything on the plate. Well, Diane ate her plate clean, too, but she gave me those broccoli’s, right, so it didn’t count. Everyone else had to get boxes to remove the left overs.

After a good rest at the Navy Lodge, we got up and headed home, the long way. Lots of side streets are involved in the long way which make trips lots more fun. The first side trip was to discover where the Bremerton Elks Lodge is for future reference. We’ll be going there in June with our Winnebago friends. We don’t have a Winnebago any more but they let us tag along anyway.

After leaving Bremerton Diane began having thoughts of lunch so I searched for something suitable in Shelton, WA. I chose another steak house just because it had a 4 star rating but when we got there we couldn’t find it on the first drive-by. So, we wound up at Blondie’s Cafe which also has a 4 star rating. That’s 4 out of 5, by the way. Just sayin.

I ordered a Denver omelet and Diane had fish and chips. My omelet was tremendous and undoubtedly the best Denver I’ve ever had. Diane’s fish pieces were huge and she could only eat one of the three provided. Another good place to park your rear and enjoy an exceptional meal.

Now we’re home and gearing down for the night. Only one more hour to bedtime.

I’m sure I forgot a bunch of stuff but that’s OK. Diane will refresh my memory if she reads this.

Hope all is well with everyone.

Till We Meet Again

Yesterday was a continuation of sadness for those of us that Nancy left behind. Stuffing the sanctuary and basement, over 300 people attended her funeral at our little church which definitely violated at least one fire safety rule but none of the dignitaries objected.

Many of those attending extended our parking facilities to include both sides of all the roads in the area and a large unused portion of Bethany Memorial Cemetery which Howard made available. The Columbia County Sheriff was notified about the expected overabundance of traffic so all was good. It was pretty amazing.

First Lutheran Church ladies showed up and took over kitchen duties so Bethany ladies could attend the service. That’s not a surprise because Bethany and First Ladies have worked with with each other for many years, serving each other as needed. Pretty special.

Everything was planned and replanned but as plans go, they don’t always play out correctly in the end. So it was for us. The one that went well was Rich’s efforts to wirelessly stream the service to a projector in the basement. He worked on it for days trying to work out problems with the sound to go with the pristine picture. He solved it about 30 minutes prior to the service and it worked perfectly. The easy part, playing a photo DVD in the sanctuary, didn’t work so well due to electrical issues. Actually, it was due to lack of electricity in AV corner of the church caused by the need in the basement to plug just one more thing into the overloaded circuits. I think it was another coffee pot but that’s a guess. Might have been a crock pot.

Since the service was in progress, and the basement was overflowing with people blocking access to the electrical panel I just warned those who were speaking that they’d have to talk a little louder since their microphones wouldn’t work.

They did, and it was good.

After the service Nancy was transported about 1/4 mile to her spot in Bethany Memorial Cemetery behind the church. It was appropriate that she was walked the entire way flanked by her pall bearers who all wore sneakers and had Nancy’s running/walking medals hung around their necks. They walked her home.

Then, most of the 300 attendees returned to the church for a pot luck lunch. Part of that was baked ham and turkey. I had the honor of slicing all of the meat on our handy-dandy meat slicer so I truthfully told everyone that I touched every piece of meat there.

Nancy approved.

We got home around 5:30 pm, watched a few recorded shows then went to bed. After about 20 minutes, before Diane had a chance to fall asleep, she jerked upright and asked me if I had turned off the heater in the lady’s restroom. Of course, I hadn’t even thought I made sure the door was locked. It didn’t occur to me to check the heater because Nancy always did that.

So, Diane got up and went back to the church to check. I offered to do it or to go with her but she refused so I stayed in bed and fell asleep before she returned. This morning she told me the heater was indeed still on so it was good she returned. Diane’s convinced Nancy reminded her to check it. I’m not surprised.

The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood and the Alabama Theater

Today (Friday) we ate quite well. Not that we haven’t eaten well on previous days lately, but today we ate exceptionally well. The Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort, where we currently reside, had a package for all of us old USS Cleveland sailors that included tickets to eat at The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood buffet. The web site shows the innards better than I can but here’s a quick peek at some of our group chowing down in our own private section of the facility.


Pretty much any kind of seafood you desire, especially shrimp, is presented in many different ways. Pretty amazing. Calabash, by the way, is a word that describes food in this way: Calabash seafood typically refer to seafood that is lightly breaded (usually dipped in milk & then a combo of flour & cornmeal) and then fried. Usually in a calabash-style restaurant you will get huge portions, oftentimes with a combination plate of several types of seafood – shrimp, various kinds of fish, crab, oysters, etc.. and hushpuppies. Calabash is also the name of a small town in North Carolina near the southern border north of Myrtle Beach. Driving on Myrtle Beach one is assaulted with all manner of calabash restaurants. It gets a bit confusing after a bit. Just remember, it’s all good. I’m happy to report, too, that none of it caused my blood sugar to spike. I think another reason it was OK is that Diane was very careful about what I ate. She takes really good care of me.

I would have liked to stay a little longer at the buffet but we had to leave in order to make it to the Alabama Theater before 7 pm to see ONE The Show. It was truly a great show and is highly recommended by all of us who attended.

We weren’t allowed to take photos of the show so this is the only picture I got of the inside. It’s special because it has Diane in it.

The host of the show, Greg Rowles, who won Ed McMahon’s Star Search Show as the Best Male Vocalist 25 years ago, honored all of us USS Cleveland sailors and even provided a lot of the ship’s history. Pretty special evening.

After the show we all headed back to the Sea Mist for our last night at that facility. After breakfast Sunday morning we packed up and drove all the way north to Hilton’s Ocean 22 high rise. It took 11 minutes. We fiddled around a while, driving north to an enormous RV park, with a very small dune that one must traverse to access the beach. It looks like a place we should visit.

From the looks of things, fishing off the beach is a requirement.

See you tomorrow …

Myrtle Beach, SC

Yes, we’ve embarked on another journey. Some of you may be thinking that, considering the sad time we had in Maui recently, we would have given this trip a little more consideration before committing. But, we’ve actually been trying to get some time at Myrtle Beach for the last five years or so but something always comes up that messes it up. Mostly the deterrents come in the form of hurricanes this time of year.

This time, we made it all the way. Here’s proof …

OK, yes it’s the baggage carousel at the Charleston airport, but that’s the airport we flew to and rented the car that got us to Myrtle Beach. Another reason we flew to Charleston was so we could reconnect with our luggage which got there 8 hours before us.

Here’s what happened – there are no non-stop Alaska flights from Portland to Charleston, but there is one from Seattle. So, all we had to do was get to Seattle early enough to make the connection so that we could arrive on the east coast at a decent time of the day. The reservations she got allowed us almost an hour to get to the connecting flight in Seattle that would arrive in Charleston at 4:30 pm their time. If you think about that for a minute, considering the 3-hour time difference, we would arrive at 1:30 pm St. Helens time. Then, figure in flight time from Seattle you can see we had to leave pretty early.

We got up at 3:30 am to catch the PDX to SEATAC leg that left at 6 am. The first snafu we encountered was when TSA kicked us out of the precheck line because out KTN wasn’t printed on our ticket. We knew that but had the letters from TSA as proof that we had KTNs. That’s Known Traveler Number in case you didn’t now. Not good enough for the ambitious little guy who insisted that it had to be on our boarding pass. The first time this happened, on the way to Maui, the TSA agent would have let us continue if we knew the KTN. Not this guy, however.

So, we returned to the ticket counter and fixed it with some manual interventional assistance of a cheerful Alaska Agent.

We breezed right through.

Got to Seattle in plenty of time to make our connection then ‘things’ kinda went south with regard to customer service and scheduling accumen of managers at the SEATAC International airport who parked our plane on the runway for 30 minutes because there wasn’t an open gate for us.

There we sat, with 12 other folks who needed to make the connection, watching the clock tick away, diminishing the probability of making the flight to Charleston.

We finally parked at N15 about 7:20 pm and our connecting flight was scheduled to depart at 7:45. Our pilot and crew assured us that everyone knew we were on the ground and the reason we were late and that they would hold the plane for us.

It was a huge lie. We got to the next gate, D21, in time, but management had already filled our 12 seats with standbys and sent the plane on it’s way, 20 minutes early. Kinda makes your day, ya know?

Then we were sent to the Alaska Customer Service desk near gate D2 that is manned by folks who are accustom to dealing with upset people and apparently don’t see the need to be friendly any longer. We 12 were demoted to 3rd class citizens (whatever that is) and the fact that we missed the flight due to decisions made by the airline.

The two agents behind the counter were working to re-book flights for misplaced people but their hearts weren’t in it and they weren’t very careful about information they doled out. For us, for instance, after they professed to have got us seats on an American Airline plane leaving shortly, gave us a confirmation number and sent us to gate D8 and told us to talk to one of the AA agents there to get us seat assignments. We made that trek and learned that the confirmation was invalid and that the flight we were supposedly put on was full. No seats available.

Back to D2 and customer service. At different agent made another attempt and actually got us seats on a plane leaving in a few hours for Dallas. From there we were booked on an AA flight to Charleston which was to arrive at 11:30 pm.

Interestingly, our bags were transferred from the Portland flight to the original non-stop connection with no problem, but they couldn’t delay 10 minutes to wait for the people who owned them. That’s why our luggage arrived in Charleston on time.

And, they didn’t have any trouble delaying the newly acquired flight, for some reason, which pushed our arrival time in Dallas a little later yet. That was OK because we had a 2-hour layover in Dallas.

Once in Dallas the flight to Charleston was delayed twice ensuring our arrival time wa pushed beyond midnight. Yippee!

By this time both Diane and I were to the point that we could see humor in all the things that had happened to us during this trip. It was like a comedy of errors so it was easier on both of us to accept the comedy of the situation instead of being bitter and upset.

Now, the good part of all this. On both of the flights we met passengers who went out of their way to accommodate both Diane and I by switching seats so we could sit together. You see, with all this switching going on, we were considered standby passengers with no real guarantee we’d get on an airplane. Because of that, we were placed in seats that were rows apart because, you see, all those other passengers made their flight on time.

Our fellow passengers made it all OK and we had a great time talking with them. Had we caught our original flight we would have missed that opportunity which would have been kinda sad.

When we got to Charleston we sent directly to the AA office in the baggage claim area to retrieve our on-time bags. The cheerful agent said, “oh, you were on that Alaska flight …” which kinda told the entire story.

After getting the bags we went looking for a cab because I was told the car rental agents closed up at 11:0-0 pm. But, we saw some lights on at the rental area and saw people turning in to that area. There was hope, after all. You see, we had a car reserved for the trip so we could get to the Air Force Inn at Joint Base Charleston for the night, then drive to Myrtle Beach in the morning.

When we turned the corner and saw lines of people at pretty much all the various rental agencies, and way off in a corner was Enterprise, with one agent working and a line of 2 people ahead of us. It was a miracle.

Long story short, we got a car and made it to Joint Base Charleston with no problem. It was only about 5 miles away, so we didn’t expect problems.

At the Air Force Inn we had a reservation and the agents were waiting for us. We got our room, spent the night, and took off for Myrtle Beach earlier this morning. We fudged our check out time beyond 11:00 am because it was so late when we checked in (1:30 am or so) and stopped at a really busy restaurant for lunch. It was the Long Point Grill in Mount Pleasant, SC for lunch. It was absolutely wonderful and the place was jumping. I had shrimp and linguine. Diane had a chicken BLT sandwich and a cup of tomato and artichoke soup. It as good, but getting it meant she could only eat half her sandwich. So, of course, I ate the other half.

The drive to Myrtle Beach was very relaxing and it was great sailing along without a care, our worries behind us. Life was good.

Now we’re here on the 9th floor, at 1200 S. Ocean Blvd with an ocean view.

Our view north
Our view south.

How sweet it is.

Oh ya, the reason we’re here is to attend the 22nd annual reunion of the USS Cleveland Reunion Association. So, there will be more news later.

Cheers.

The Maui Wedding & Other Stuff

The deed is done and this is just the wrap up of an event that’s been in the planning stages for years. As Sarah would say, she got “Mauied”.

To begin this day of joy and change Diane took a trip to the University of Hawaii Maui campus. That’s where the Maui Swap meet is held. The reason for our trip there was to obtain some outer wear for some little people we know back in Oregon. That, and to look around a bit. One thing I noticed right away was that prices were a bit steep for a swap meet. Hats, for instance. One gentleman had hundreds of them stacked neatly on many tables and his price for a baseball hat was $28! That’s not a swap meet price. I didn’t want a baseball hat anyway. The items Diane found were much more reasonable.

While in the vicinity, we took an moment to capture a selfie to show Jeran that Corban University is being promoted everywhere we go.

Here’s Diane hard at work.

Now for the wedding.

The service was held outside at the Sugar Beach Event Center.

Only 40 chairs
Beautiful backdrop

Diane shedding her pre-wedding jitters
Same for Ruth
Sarah and Dad Larry begin the march
They arrived safely
It was a flawless handoff
Rings were exchanged
The final blessing were given
Then “The Kiss”
I think she’s happy
Now it’s reception time
Grandma Ruth
Great Aunt Diane

I went through the line twice – once with Ruth and again with Diane. Lucky me.

Ruth and Larry
Larry and Diane

After the reception line it was into the hall for the reception dinner, after all the photos were taken. Right about this time Diane became ill and had to leave but she insisted I had to stay and eat. I did that then she came back to get me after the crowd began to get rowdy, like young crowds tend to do. They were having a terrific time and I was worried about Diane so it was all OK.

Diane was pretty sick and we spent all of Sunday inside – Diane rested and I stayed quiet like a mouse.

Now we’re going to take it real easy until our flight Wednesday morning. Maybe we’ll find an opportunity to visit Goodwill, but that remains to be seen.