It Must be Thanksgiving!

Considering the state of our world, I submit that all of us have something to be thankful for not only on this special day, but on every day of our lives.

Me?

I’m thankful …

  • … for my family, wherever they may be. Some are near, some are far, but they are all with me in my heart, always.
  • … for all the folks who spend their days on guard protecting us in our hospitals, on the streets, at sea, and in foreign lands. They are all special people.
  • … for those folks who wear masks when it’s necessary for us to venture outside and be in their presence.
  • … that I still have all 6 of my senses, most of the time. There are some who will argue that, sure, I have the normal five, but the 6th, common, isn’t always fully engaged. Sadly, I cannot deny that.
  • … for Norris who keeps our septic system working properly.
  • … for all those people working at Oregon gas stations who fill my tank.
  • … for all the people who stock the shelves in our grocery stores.
  • … for the farmers and ranchers who produce pretty much everything I’m allowed to eat.
  • … for my friends for putting up with me even when I can’t remember their name.
  • … for the bagel lady.
  • … for Amazon Prime so I can shop in my pajamas.
  • … for all the Utility workers who ensure all our appliances work.
  • … for our pets, all of them, even cats. They were, and are, some of my favorite people.

… to mention just a few. For those I failed to mention, please forgive me. I appreciate whatever it is that you do. Honest.

Above all, I’m thankful to God who makes all this possible.

Be safe …

South Beach, Jennie, CT/PET scans

This is Oregon’s South Beach, not Florida’s. It’s a state park on the Oregon Coast. That’s where we are at this moment in time. Watching the VP debate.

About the debate. After watching the presidential debate, no way were we going to miss this one.

The trip north was non-eventful. The entire way the sky looked almost like it was going to rain at any moment. It didn’t, but should have. If it had perhaps I could have scraped the 3-4 millions bugs off the windshield. From the inside of the coach, the windshield looks a lot like modern art. Before leaving tomorrow I’ll see if I can capture it in a photo with the thought of framing it for a prominent spot above our fireplace.

When we first checked in to the South Beach camp ground, we set up in space A-33, the one we selected when originally registering. One of the first things I do when setting up camp is to determine how good our southern view is. That’s important for good satellite TV reception. Gotta have that so we can check the news. And other stuff.

After I got the coach all set up it was apparent right away that we didn’t have a good southern view. Neither did we have access to broadcast channels. So, I went cruising around the park looking for a better spot. I found that E-31 was far better and went back to the Park Ranger and he switched our sites.

We broke camp and moved. Everything works great.

I can hear your heads twirling about how what I’m describing has anything to do with camping in any way shape or form. Camping is setting up a tent, stoking a wood fire, cooking with the fire or on a tiny little gas stove. You bundle up when it’s cold, and you sleep on the ground. We used to do that.

Then we got old and camping took on a new look for us. Sleeping on the ground became difficult and extremely undesireable. So, we don’t do that any more.

NOTE: I just opened my laptop and found this as a draft from October 7th so it’s a bit out of date. Instead of wracking my tiny brain for more information related to South Beach I’m going to skip ahead a bit and share where we are this moment in time – Deschutes River State Park near The Dalles, Oregon. That’s almost as far away from South Beach as we can get. Actually, that’s not even close to true because the further east we go on I-84 the further we get from South Beach. But, that’s a bit irrelevant for this narrative.

This trip we connected with our Winnebago Group once again. Diane made the arrangements for us to meet up with the group at the Troutdale Outlet mall so we could travel together east on I-84 to the park. Normally, when we rendezvous like this, we are the last to arrive, but this time we beat Terry & Carolann and Cliff & Susie by a mile. Les and Sophie were already at the camp ground so I guess you could say they beat us all. Which they did.

Since we arrived first, we got our lawn chairs out and sat in the sun, yes it was sunny, waiting for the others to arrive. It took them a while but that was to be expected since they live about 3 miles from Troutdale.

We establised another first by leading the group on the trip to the camp ground. What fun I had leading the pack. We mossed along at a sedate 60 mph the entire way.

Once we got to the campground, and connected to the utilities, I investigated the best view of the southern sky. I’ve mentioned before, maybe earlier in this narrative, that seeing the southern sky is imperative for a successful camping experience because that’s where the satellites live that we need to ‘see’ with our Dish antenna. Thankfully, the antenna finds the satellites all by itself. Nifty.

I reset the Dish received a few times with the antenna in various locations with no success. Then I decided to put it on the RV roof, always my last choice, to see what it could find. Turns out it was perfect even though the window to the sky was small through some very tall trees. I was amazed. Diane was very happy.

We set up on Thursday and prepared ourselves to silently celebrate our daughter’s, Jennifer’s, 45th birthday on Friday. Wow! Our baby is 45! But, she still looks like she’s 20-something. Knowing we weren’t going to be home, like almost every October 23rd for many years, we celebrated her birthday with dinner and a small party at Jen’s house last Wednesday. It was a nice, quiet visit. Always good. In attendance was Jen, Daniel, Lydia, Justin, Diane and me. I haven’t mentioned Justin before. He’s Lydia’s new boyfriend. Actually, they’ve known each other since they were wee children and went to school together. They were friends then until Justin called Lydia a “dumb blonde”, or something like that. Because of that she shunned him for the last 8 years or so. Now Lydia acknowledges that he is her boyfriend. It’s a good thing.

The next morning, we left town.

Now it’s time for some historical information to set the stage for Friday afternoon.

Diane was informed about spots in her lungs that concerned her doctor last February. The fact that the doctor knew about them was due to a serendipitous abdominal CT scan that was mistakenly done on her chest. One spot, behind her heart, was of primary concern so another CT scan was scheduled for April so they could see if anything changed. It didn’t, so another CT was scheduled for six months out, in October. That test, done on October 12th, showed changes. Not good news so a PET scan was scheduled for October 20th. Knowing that PET scans are a primary avenue for discovering cancer in one’s body was intimidating, but it had to be done.

That was just a few days ago. Yesterday, Friday, Jennie’s birthday, she got a call from her oncologist but it went right to voice mail so she didn’t get to talk with the doctor directly. The message she left relieved a lot of tension for both Diane and me. She said the PET scan didn’t reveal any bright spots, meaning there was no cancer. Then Diane was able to access the PET diagnosis which was pretty much all good news. Amazing. Her oncologist said there are things that need to be worked on, but the worst case wasn’t in the picture.

I am so happy that my life with Diane isn’t going to be cut short and Diane is so relieved that the doctors have something definitive to deal with. She told me that on the drive home after the PET scan she felt a calm envelope her, a sense of peace. Like a sign that all was going to be alright. So far, it is.

The fact that all this news became available on Jennifer’s birthday seemed to be significant. No doubt in our minds, prayers were answered. For that, we’re thankful.

Life is good.

Off on another Adventure

This is a preamble to the following narrative to explain the reason I wrote it two days ago and am only now sending it. First, there was an “internet thing” that prevented me from sharing it. I also had photos to share that I needed to download to my laptop from my phone. I found it interesting that when I connected my phone to the laptop I got a message reporting that I needed to download a file to make it happen but it didn’t tell me what the file was. Being gullible, I just selected “sure, download that file and make me take a change you will destroy everything on my computer.” That was actually an option. Really. I started that last night but got bored waiting so I stopped the process and went to bed. This morning I just let it run wild and also initiated a download of my own to update my laptop OS. Since I’m using my iPhone as a hot spot, and the signal it has is iffy, the process took just about 5 hours. I’m happy to report that everything turned out just fine except the photo download process thought all of the 9700 photos on my phone were new. It took about an hour for the process to stop at my command, then I selected the last 150 photos and downloaded them. Now I’m ready to let you read this thing. Whew!

I can’t believe that it’s been 19 days since my last post. You’d almost think I’ve been avoiding all of you. I could claim that COVID has kept me away, and that’s true, to an extent, but not the reason I’ve avoided the blog. Nope. I’m just lazy. One day melds onto another and, at least in my case, they’re pretty much all the same.

I get up around 5 am, let the animals out, let them back in, feed them, take my pills, sit in my chair, spread out a blanket in my lap for the cat, read my book until the cat wants to go back out, make coffee, fall asleep until Diane gets up between 10-11am, drink coffee, make breakfast, check my email, watch TV with Diane until time for supper, eat supper, watch TV until time for bed, let the animals out, let them back in, go to bed, read until I fall asleep, wake up just enough to put my book up, sleep off and on until 5 am, let the animals out, etc. for the past 19 days.

Actually, that routine’s been going on for years.

So, what did we do during those last 19 days? Let me look at my calendar. I’ll be right back …

A quick review revealed that there’s not much to report other than the fact that Diane wanted to wash the storm windows on the east side of the house. I thought, well, they come off pretty easy and they shouldn’t be too difficult to wash and replace, so I agreed. I got three of the four removed myself, but needed Jeff’s help on the 4th one.

Once they were down, and we got a closer look at them, and the condition of the window frames they were hiding, we had a short discussion about the benefits of spending a lot of money to just have all the windows replaced. An expensive but simple way to get all the windows washed. Made my day.

Now all we have to do is wait for the guy to show up and measure all the opening for that perfect fit. Then wait some more while they are all manufactured. Then wait some more for an install date. We have a pool going about whether or not it will be raining cat and dogs on the install day.

We’ve been traveling more and more lately. Fort Stevens State Park was the last trip, a couple of weeks ago with our Winnebago Friends.

At this time, we’re currently on the second day of a trip to Bullard’s Beach State Park in southern Oregon. It’s a great way to sequester. One big reason to head west was to get away from the forest fire smoke we’d be breathing for a week or so. This is what it looked like off our back porch:

Just 60 miles west in Seaside we had this:

End of Broadway – the Seaside Turnaround.
South end of Seaside Beach.
The Winnebago Crowd

At this moment, we’re parked in spot 9 at Armitage Park in Coburg. Got here yesterday and will leave tomorrow for the final leg to Bullard’s Beach State Park. It’s very quiet here and the spaces are about 30 feet apart so there’s no crowding at all.

A funny thing happened last night that made both of us grab out chins, tip our heads a little, and go “Hmmmm.” When I woke up this morning my right knee looks like someone hit me smack on my patella with a hammer. It was all swollen up and had stuff squishing all around my knee cap. I know that because I was moving it all around with my fingers. I could do that because it doesn’t hurt. Another interesting aspect of this event is that it doesn’t hurt to push it around, but I cannot kneel on it. That hurts. A lot. It’s just weird.

My gnarly knee. Looks kinda like a kangaroo knee.

For now it’s just not a concern and it’s kinda fun to look at.

Today we took a trip via back roads to investigate Springfield and Eugene (think Oregon Ducks). We made a trip to Mount Pisgah Arboretum and tromped around on their grounds for a couple of hours, walking 3 miles or so. It was good. It’s an immense area with miles of paths for serious walkers, of which there were a few.

That’s Diane running away from me.
Recharging
One of many paths across the fields.

Met some very friendly people who were hard at work clearing acres of blackberry vines. After watching them for a bit, my little patch of blackberry vines at home dwindled to pretty much nothing in my mind.

Then we drove to downtown Eugene to see an incredible house perched on the side of the hill just above the Amtrak stop. If it hadn’t’ve been Monday we would have toured the place but they don’t open till Tuesday. Big bummer.

Shelton McMurphey Johnson House

Then it was time to go ‘home’, but only after a stop to get some groceries. Turned out there was a Winco Food store right around the corner so Diane was delighted.

Diane wanted steak so we got some. The New York versions were cheap, she said, and came 2 to a pack so we got 2 packs. I allowed this knowing that Diane would only eat half of hers, but that was OK. While checking out she foolishly asked me if I could eat a pound of meat. Though no answer was required, I said, “sure.”

Once back ‘home’ she went to work baking a couple of potatoes and one ear of corn (for me) while I got the BBQ out of the basement and worked at getting it hooked up. That’s really not a tough job but when I opened the basement door things fell out. Like a bag of beach toys the girls use when we take them to the beach. They went everywhere. While I was picking those up, the bag full of kitty lights fell out and scattered a bit.

Then I got the BBQ and hauled it over to the picnic table. The propane tank was waaay on the other side of the motorhome. Gathering my strength for that trip took a bit, but I got it together, got the tank, and hurked it to the picnic table. You may scoff, if you wish, but that tank weighs at least half as much as I did when I was in the fifth grade.

Not much happened until all the food was cooked and I made a concerted effort to get the steaks, which looked marvelous, into the coach. Everything went well until I couldn’t, for some obscure reason, get my right foot to the top of the last step. There was a lot of wobbling going on, Diane held her breath, but nothing worked and both steaks landed on the rug; the one we wipe our feet on when we come indoors. Nice, huh? That was resolved by passing them under the water faucet for a rinse. Then we ate.

I ate all of mine and the other half of Diane’s. Definitely a pound of meat. Then I ate a piece of cake. When that wore off, I ate a banana.

Sadly, neither Diane nor I captured any of this to share with you. We still have those other two steaks to cook while we’re traveling so I’ll try to remember to get photos then.

Now we’re winding down, watching Dancing With The Stars and wishing Tom was still the host. Tyra just isn’t any fun at all.

Still, we watch.

LL Stub Stewart State Park

Camping at LL Stub Stewart — August 31 and later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—- pretend there was a delay here —-

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s Diane at bat:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a rough life.

Really.

Condiments, Hot Weather, and Tillamook

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

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

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

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

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

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

This activity keeps Cliff in shape.

Note the sign next to Cliff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Camp – 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Back to camp …

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

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

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

Back to camp, again …

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

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

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

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

Here are my girls in a rare moment of inactivity …

Lydia, Gilligan, Baylee, Jerrie

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

Bronson

Diane made camping more homey with her kitty slippers …

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

I tried some of it and it was really good.

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

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

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

Camping is hard work.

Serendipity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Itsa Monday – May the 4th be with you

I’ve established a routine for eating properly that has been successful in controlling my BS level. My wife is pleased. She was getting a little annoyed with me for not minding established rules for diabetical eating requirements which caused my BS level to go whacky every once in a while. Truthfully, being an amateur diabetic (I’m not on insulin), I tend to experiment with the hope I can find just the right solution the will allow me to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Sadly, that doesn’t work.

I must control myself. I was kinda hoping that Diane would be my guide through this confusing sugarless existence, but she’s right … this is my battle and I need to take charge.

Getting to this point has had it’s ups and downs over the past few years, at times causing extreme concern about what’s going on. I’ve learned to recognize the need for sustenance when the cold hollow feeling grips my innards. That doesn’t happen often, but it’s exciting when it does. The last time was just a few days ago when I had Dungeness crab Louis for lunch and a bunch of sautéed shrimp for supper. I don’t know how many there were, but I bought a pound of them. My BS dropped to 62. Apparently there’s not a lot of diabetic-fighting ‘stuff’ in shrimp to keep things stable. Or, there was a conflict between the crab and shrimp during the digestive process. Who knows? Obviously not me.

Half a can of peaches fixed it. I would have had a glass of orange juice but I couldn’t find any. That works, too.

What made the event a little scary was that it occurred just as I was ready to go to bed. So, of course, my head took me down the path where, had I not caught it, Diane would have found me unresponsive in the morning and would have had to call someone to haul me away.

My golf buddy, Doug, is a professional diabetic, who assured me that had I been asleep when my BS dropped too low, my body would have alerted me to that fact so I’d awake to take care of it. He knows all that stuff. He lives alone and has dealt with high BS for many years.

Since my last ‘event’, I changed my eating habits in this way: one piece of toast, with crunchy peanut butter for breakfast, around 6 am; a large sausage patty, 2-3 eggs, O’Brien hash browns with freshly chopped peppers & onions, and one piece of toast for lunch, around noonish; whatever Diane wants for supper, whenever she wants it. Supper is an unknown but breakfast and lunch are consistent. Eating that way has allowed me to drop my morning BS level to around 130, down from 260+.

And, another thing I discovered is that those rumors I’ve heard about exercising being good for me are actually true! Who knew? Being sequestered at the moment, makes exercise difficult. Generally, my exercise routine consists of waking up, walking about 3 feet to the bathroom, then another 50 feet to the kitchen, then 30-40 around the house gathering dog and cat food after letting them out to do whatever they want to do, 30 feet from the kitchen to my recliner with a fresh glass of water and my PB toast, back to the kitchen to let the dogs back in, 10 feet to the dishwasher with all their dirty dishes, 40 feet back to my recliner where I sit, but don’t recline, to wait for the cat to come back, then 15 feet to the patio door when she announces her desire to return, then stand there with the door open which she exerts her authority by licking one foot or the other, then saunters slowly in.

Then I go sit down and start reading my book on my iPad. I don’t recline right away because I know the cat is waiting for me to do that so she can go beat on the patio door to go back outside. If I remain upright she may come jump in my lap and give me a false sense of security that she’s going to be there a while, then I recline. She waits a few minutes, looking over her shoulder, waiting for me to get comfortable, then jumps up to go beat on the door. She actually does that, too. Stands on her hind feet and pounds on the glass with her front feet. It used to be cute. I used to leave the patio door open for her as it’s on a secure balcony but in the past she’s brought treats, like mice, and various kinds of birds into the house when not supervised.

Sorry about that. I was talking about exercising, wasn’t I? What I shared really is exercise, but it’s just not enough to make a difference win one’s BS level. So, I decided to do my exercising on the golf course. Sounds like a really dumb idea because I have sciatica that’s brutal at times. But, I decided I’d walk the course instead of ride a cart like normal.

Turns out, I survived. We only play 9 holes and the course we use is pretty flat so the pain was negligible. I didn’t golf all that well, but I had some good hits. The big benefit from walking was this: I walked over 8,000 steps without falling down even once, and I travelled over 3 miles without getting out of breath. Amazing. Then, the next morning, my BS was something I could like with, literally.

Now I’m being a really good boy by eating regularly. I quit eating cake, ice cream, and pie, cut my bread intake in half (one piece of toast, not two), and don’t skip meals.

My bride is proud of me, and I feel better. I’d take a picture but “feeling better” doesn’t relate well to “looking better” in my case. I’m still really old and I need a shower. Diane told me that a couple of days ago so I guess today is the day for that, even though it’s not Saturday.

I must stop now and go make my breakfast before I fade away,

All of you please stay safe.

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.