Maryssa’s Graduation and Other Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She ran down the ramp …

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

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

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

One last Coy Look before morphing into a Professional Teacher.

M&M – Matt & Maryssa

 

Interesting rock sculpture that Diane wanted to capture.

Us and Maryssa – one last touch …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now my story is done.

Party, Yard Work, and Strawberries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m done now.

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

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

So, here I am.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on that next time.

Various and Sundry Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why did you do that?”

“I had to take a leak really bad.”

“Oh, ya. That.”

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

“Really!”

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

“What did you take?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Huskies.

It’s Been Busy Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is us and most of the grand kids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess they like the view, too.

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

It’s fun to watch in a storm.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Cheers.

Jeran’s All Growed Up & Diane’s New Phone

I’m a couple of days behind reporting that Jeran has finally attained his 18th birthday and has ushered in the time when all of my Daughter’s children are grown up. His birthday was on the 11th in case you want to send him money, or something.

He evolved from this …… to this …… in the blink of an eye.

He will graduate from High School in June and somehow wrangled an acceptance letter from Corban University in Salem, Oregon. Since he’s currently still living at home the reality of that aspect of his life has yet to be realized so it’s business as usual for now. Too soon, however, he will embark on that journey and we’re all excited to find out where it takes him. His initial goal is to be ordained and work as a Youth Pastor. Somewhere.

In addition to Jeran’s remarkable feet of turning 18, so soon after Lydia turned 19, we’ve had some excitement here at home.

Most of it revolves around Diane’s washing machine. After 25 years it finally bit the dust. It entered a state of nirvana where it simultaneously pumped water from the tub and filled it with fresh water. We might not have noticed except the pumping was a bit slower than the filling resulting in a situation where the water level went halfway up the door. It’s a front-loader so that’s not a good thing. The pressure was too much for the water and the load of jeans it was washing. When I got to it to investigate the “little bit of water” Diane noticed coming from under the washer, the bottom of the door, which doesn’t lock, by the way, was sprung out and water was doing a Niagara thing onto the floor. Water was everywhere. I was able to push the door in and stem the tide, but figured that wasn’t a viable solution for the long-term. Eventually it occurred to me that I should turn the water off, which I did. This allowed the pump to empty the tub and spin the jeans to the point where the dryer would accept them for the finish.

We went to our local Sears store and purchased a new set which will be delivered tomorrow.

In preparation for the delivery, we’ve been carving a path from the lower patio door to the laundry room to make the delivery easier. I’m going to take the old W&D out, leaving the laundry room empty, so I can cover the bare studs that Diane’s been looking at for the past 11 years. She deemed it was time to “make them pretty.” So, I will do my best. Toward that end, I took a trip to the local lumber yard and purchased some bead board. I will also build a drop down folding table. Since there isn’t one there now (never has been) I need to work out the dynamics of how she’ll be able to use the toilet when the folding table is down. It’s going to be tricky because the table will cover it completely. I suppose it I had the table high enough, and she used it while folded in half, it would work, but doubt that she’d be happy about that. I’ll think of something and take a picture for your approval.

Just a little while ago a couple of young ladies from a company called “Enjoy“, a pretty nifty delivery service, visited to deliver Diane’s new iPhone 8 Plus. It’s a red one. I ordered it just before 2 pm this afternoon and it was delivered by 3:30 or so. Amazing.

Anyway, the ladies sat Diane down, had her unwrap her new phone, and proceeded to help her through the process of making her new phone look a lot like her old iPhone 5S. We all had a nice visit and it was really nice to have an expert on hand to take care of things correctly.

Now it’s time to stop and eat something.

Little Goats

Our neighbor, Jen, has started farming, her reason for moving to the country. It was handy that the neighbors before her and her family had chickens and left a nice chicken coop. For us it’s an unanticipated benefit because we get eggs once in a while. Nice fresh ones.

The other day she came home with baby goats and they’re adorable. Who can resist the allure of a baby goat? Really? It’s like they beg you to pick them up and cuddle. Everyone but me, that is. I can resist baby goats. They’re fun to watch, though.

Today Diane and Lydia got to meet them for the first time and fulfilled their dreams of holding a baby goat. These guys are brothers and just 10 days old. One of them looks suspiciously like our cat. See if you can figure out which one.

Lydia’s only comment during this cuddling exercise was, “I want a baby goat.”

I asked Diane if she wanted a baby goat and she declined. We’ll play with the kids next door.

Their names are Ren (right) and Stimpy (left). Remember that cartoon?

Now, which goat looks like the cat?