Happy 2020

January 3rd, 2020. Australia is on fire, parts of California get unreasonable amounts of snow while other parts flood, the mid-west and east coast experience incredibly bad weather, like all winter long, and it snows in Greece. All of that’s going on while we here in our little corner of Oregon are wandering around in shorts and short sleeve shirts. Well, some folks are, not me. I’m not a shorts guy. Just saying our weather has been clear and spring-like all year. So far.

Add to that the fact that (according to Diane) I’m a typical man who can’t handle a simple cold. Yes, it’s not pretty. It’s that time of year when I’m reminded that snot is salty because it runs down my lip causing me to reflexively lick them before I realize what I’m doing. The solution, of course, is to stuff a kleenex up each nostril and leave them there until March.

I take a bunch of pills every day but not one of them is for ensuring my mucus levels remain stable. I’m in no danger of a doctor telling me that my mucus level is too low making it necessary to start taking shots for it on a daily basis. I wonder if there’s a shot for that. What could it be? A Snot Shot? Sounds reasonable.

My resolution this year was to exercise daily, something that’s just not normally in my wheelhouse. Exercise, to me, is getting up in the morning, stumbling to the kitchen to feed the animals, then stumbling to my recliner where I spend an unreasonable amount of time. Normally I get up from my chair when Diane exits the bedroom, ready to face her day.

To help with exercise, I’m thinking about getting an exercise bike that I can use on crappy days. On decent days I’ll just ride my real bike to the bottom of our hill then push it home, over and over. I plan to simplify that process by installing an electric motor kit on the bike so I can make it back up the hill. I figure I can install one of those on the exercise bike, too. Then I can sit in my chair while the bike runs. Sounds like a plan.

I started this two weeks ago so a lot has happened that I can’t recall. I should journal everyday so I’d have interesting things to share, huh? But, trying to remember stuff is good exercise, too. That means I’m honoring my resolution by not journalling.

Diane and Jennie are getting itchy to paint something again. It’s been a long time since we had a paint night so we’re working up to a plan to have one of our own. Should be fun. There will be photos to share when this happens, so be prepared.

It snowed two days ago. Just a couple of inches and it only lasted two days before it warmed up, rained, and it all went away. Guess that’s it for winter.

Now we can look forward to spring which is already making an appearnce.

Primroses, that we’ve ignored for a long time, are also blooming.

Maybe if we ignore all the growing things around the house they’ll do just fine, too. We’ll see.

I better end this before I forget about it for another two weeks. I’m sure many of you are wondering if I’m still ticking along, which I am. So is Diane. She ticks along better than me most days, but I can still out run her should the need arise.

Cheers to all of you.

Jerrie

Dietary Infractions and School’s Out

In my last post I reported a dietary faux pas where Diane educated me, at length, about me believing two apple fritters and a maple bar constituted an adequate breakfast. I learned my lesson. Today I honored those newly discovered instructions had three cinnamon rolls and two blueberry muffins instead. Apparently that combination was OK because I encountered neither spousal opposition nor new dietary instructions. So, I’m good to go with that one whenever the opportunity pops up.

Could be, too, that my spouse wasn’t aware of these infractions until just now. If that’s the case I should be exempt from any misdemeanors that arise from this admission.

In my defense I must report that the items I ingested were supplied by our church ladies as a reward to the church men for allowing the ladies to move the recurring mens’ Thursday morning coffee hour from the Kozy Korner to the church. The ultimate goal of that change was to entice the men to participate in the ladies’ Thursday morning church cleanup efforts. I think it was pretty evident from the start that they scheduled their church cleanup at the same time as the mens’ coffee hour in an effort to shame us into helping them.

Having shared all that, I must admit that it really worked, at least for me. I felt bad about it because I know the jobs they were doing had to be done. So, of course, both of the the men helped, just like all good married men should do.

About school … we have three young girls living with us who are profoundly sad that summer is here and they won’t get to go to school for another 2.5 months. They actually cried because they can’t go to school any more until September. I, personally, have no memory of being sad about having to go on summer vacation from school. Ever. Nope, I was perfectly happy about doing no school work for a long time.

Our girls, however, demonstrated just how much they liked their teachers and learning in general. They are all good at it, too. Makes us, and their parents, very proud. Next week Diane and I are taking the girls for a week at Nehalem Bay.

That is going to be a lot of fun. There will be photographic evidence of the fun when we return home from the trip.

Always Learning

The other day I discovered that 2 apple fritters and a maple bar do not constitute a proper breakfast. I was taken by surprise by that one because it sure tasted proper and filled in the proper vacancies in my empty stomach. Along with 3 cups of coffee, I had to disagree and deem that ingesting those pastries was the right thing to do at that time. I’ll even do it again given the chance. I suspect Diane will have a hand in ensuring I don’t have that chance. She’s pretty lenient with small infractions, but apparently 3 pastries is sitting above and beyond acceptable. Deep down I have to agree but I don’t have to like it.

Our weather here in the Northwest is flip flopping all over the place. Last week, after a string of really nice days, it rained for about 4 days. Starting today we’re supposed to surge into the 90’s which puts a crimp in golfing because no one I know really wants to wander around a golf course in heat like that. Well, at least one of us (Junior) doesn’t. Add to that the fact that Doug decided to have his appendix out last week kinda makes him ineligible to play so I’ll just find something else to do until it cools down and Doug heals. Maybe I can convince Diane to come play with me.

I bought her a really nice set of golf clubs about 10 years ago and they still have the protective plastic coating on the woods. She professes she’d love to go golfing but we need to find a course where she can play and no one is watching. That’s gonna be difficult, but I’ve got an eye out, just in case something pops up.

Did I mention that Diane took a chance and let me buy a chainsaw despite my poor track record with motorized tools? Well, she did, and I’ve had monumental success without sustaining any life threatening injuries. The potential is there, of course, but I’m being very, very, careful. Honest. I’ve dismantled the pussy willow tree on the corner as well as a worn out lilac tree that I subsequently discovered Diane wanted part of it left to flourish. I assured her that it’s unlikely that I removed all of it, though I really tried.

Now I have my eye on the ancient birch tree in our front yard. Diane thinks that’s a bad idea. I’m pretty sure, however, there will be a time in the near future when she feels the need to shop at Goodwill and I’ll be left alone to do as I wish. I’m willing to take the consequences, whatever they may be. I’ll let you know about it either after I get out of the hospital, or after a successful endeavor, whichever comes first.

I’m currently reading a book where the USA was destroyed by a war between Republicans and Democrats. Considering the dysfunctional nature of the current warring parties kinda makes me wonder if this book is a prophecy. Kind of scary times, it is.

Diane just left to visit her Mom, Jean, so I have a green light to get my chainsaw fired up.

See you later.

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.

Money, Peeps, My Lawn Mower, and some Photos

Two things of concern

  1. Why so much money is spent on political campaigns
  2. Why movies are ranked by how much they earn instead of how many people watched.
  3. Peeps

OK, Three things. I was wrong, or I just can’t count. You choose.

First, lets discuss Political Campaign Money – it is my asserted opinion that spending billions of dollars on political campaigns is an astounding waste of money that could be used in a far better manner. Like, feeding hungry people in the world. That, and I think we can all agree that those who collect the most money aren’t necessarily the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Movie Money – just because a movie earns a ton of money doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most popular. I’ve actually spent good money, more than once, to see movies that I didn’t like at all. When I shared that information with friends, they went to see it, too, and didn’t like it either. Still, the fact that they went added to the monetary total for the period of time covered. I think those who attend movies should fill out a brief survey about how they liked the movie. And how good the popcorn was. Each theater would then upload their data to a central collection point where popularity of the movies would be accurately captured based on LIKE or NOT LIKE, not on the price of a ticket.

Peeps – In case you aren’t familiar with Peeps, they are a marshmallow confection that has miracle healing qualities that aren’t well documented in medical journals. I know this is true because Diane told me so and I’ve been complicit in helping her carry out unauthorized use of Peeps to help her. So far she’s convinced me that Peeps cure hiccups, something she discovered a long time ago. I’ve seen it work, numerous times, for Diane and multiple Grandchildren. Our Grandchildren. Another Peep solution is they’re great for removing popcorn hulls that are stuck in your throat. So far, those are the only two significant cures about which I know. Since both hiccups and stuck popcorn hulls are unpredictable, Peeps must be administered as those events occur. By taking them, however, we don’t know if taking them for those events also serves as a preventative solution for other maladies that aren’t allowed to manifest. We’ll probably never know. If anything changes with this medial miracle, I’ll let you know.

Oh, wait! There’s four! My Mower. The weather here is probably the important news because it’s been so nice everyone around here has been able to mow their lawn using the grass catcher. That’s significant because normally this time of year the grass is too wet for any mower to actually propel the clippings through the plastic tube into a bag. The clippings just jam up the tube making a nasty mess that needs to be cleaned up. When I mowed it I didn’t take a chance on the tube getting plugged up by just leaving the grass catcher laying there on the ground. I’ll make another tour around the yard tomorrow to pick it all up, after I play golf. It’s going to be 70 degrees, I’m told.

This is Jeran, Jennifer and Daniel’s youngest, waiting for a concert to start.

These guys were the concert: New Legacy Project from Nashville.

Our back yard after I mowed it a couple of days ago. Really. A couple of days ago.

Our cat, Breezie, sleeping on her head.

I dog I encountered some place. I’m getting a sign like this, and another one that says, “I’m not working now, you can pet me”

Lydia visiting with a lizard on her shoulder.

My mower before I mowed it.

The Air We Breath & The Demise of a Tree

Our normally excellent air in the Pacific Northwest has been polluted by all the forest fires burning throughout the state. There is ash raining down everywhere and breathing is at your own risk.

That isn’t a complaint – it’s a simple fact. Although the air in St. Helens is compromised, we are not dealing with the threat of evacuation due to fires as are many, many areas of the state. Last night fire fighters were close to losing the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge due to a fire started by a 15-year-old child playing with fireworks. The lodge was saved but the fire remains un-contained as I write. In the blink of an eye this fire, named Eagle Creek, has consumed well over 10,000 acres of forest in the gorge and has caused closure of I-84, the main freeway artery from Portland through the gorge. Closure is from Troutdale to Hood River.

It’s a mess. I’d say visibility is less than a mile at our house.

Regarding the tree … it’s the tree that participated in our power outage during the last wind storm we had in December 2015.

Some more of it fell off the tree a week or so ago so the power company decided it was time for that tree to bite the big one and sent Asplundh over to take care of it. It was a two day job.

After cutting off, and grinding up all the limbs, they were about to haul it all away and dump it some place. I only begged and pleaded for a short time before the foreman decided that we could keep the residue which we intend to scatter all over the place around the house. Now we don’t have to buy bark dust.

Actually, I didn’t have to beg at all. They were glad to leave it for us.

 

Happy Independence Day – 2017

Greetings Fellow Earth Dwellers. It’s another glorious day in the neighborhood, the kind that makes it OK to get up early, even if you don’t want to. On this day I was compelled to arise at 0430 because the little dog decided it was time. The last few days, since returning from our vacation, he waiting until 0500 precisely. I swear he wears a tiny little wrist watch with an alarm. It’s amazing.

Just like all previous years, beginning a couple of days before the 4th, many of our neighbors find it necessary ignite extremely loud fireworks well into the night. We expect it. The dogs hate it and would like to run down and have a word or two with whoever is holding the igniters. Apparently the city police view such events as normal, and accepted, because we never see them converging on the offenders, even when they lite off rockets that spew sparks all over the place, including over the dry hay-field next to our property. And it’s the same folks every year.

Now, having shared all that, I’ve got another story about a fire I started, legally, on June 30th. That was the last day for open burning in the county and I’ve been putting it off. Being the last day kinda prompted me to get busy and make it go away.

I took my handy little propane torch down there, after stringing my longest hose to the pile of debris. I’ve always used matches in the past then decided to try the torch with the last pile and found it to be much more convenient because it’s got an igniter on it. Pretty handy. When I touched it to the pile it went up pretty quickly and spread to the entire burn pile in a matter of seconds. I hadn’t planned for it to be as big as it got, but I had it under control with my water hose so just let it go. After it died down a bit, I went up on the porch to watch it and visit with our Niece Maryssa who was visiting from Salem where she spending the summer in a test marriage with her boyfriend who lives with his parents. Maryssa is a Senior at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon so we don’t see her much. It’s great to visit with her. I spend at least one evening talking with her and Granddaughter Lydia just like I was one of the girls. The entire time I feared they would talk about stuff I probably wouldn’t want to discuss, but they didn’t, so it was all good.

As I sat there visiting, Keith, a young firefighter, came walking into the back yard and reported that I had to put my fire out because the burn ban was ending at midnight. It was about 4:30 pm at the time, and dusk was hours away so I reported that I was legal because the “Burn Line” (503) 397-4800 told me that June 30th was the last burn day and open burning was allowed in the county for folks who had a current burn permit. My fire qualified so burn it did.

Being a good citizen, and knowing Keith was just doing the job he was told to do, I went down to man my garden hose while he went to his truck to unreel a couple hundred feet of hose after connect the truck to the fire hydrant that is conveniently located at the corner of our property. As we hosed down the pile I asked why I had to put out my fire when the burn line said it was legal and he said, “We’ve had phone calls … “, an unfinished sentence.

“OK,” I said, “so I burn legally and someone in town calls to complain so you come out to put my fire  out?”, or words to that effect. He didn’t respond to that so I prodded a little harder suggesting that whoever called knew the Fire Chief. He denied that, of course, and said, “No, some fires have already gotten out of control, and the burn ban ends at dusk.” I noted the change of the ban ending at dusk instead of midnight, his first choice, but didn’t say anything. He also said”the chief said …” a number of times that so I just left it alone.

The Chief Said.

Since I used to be a Chief, a Navy Chief, I understood the concept about “The Chief Said”. It’s law and doesn’t require any explanation. Just do it. So he did. And he did a great job. He blew my fire all apart, even thought it was barely burning when he arrived, and sprayed it all down with foam when there was no more smoke coming off the embers. I acknowledged that I doubt that that pile would burn any time before next year at the earliest.

Then, regarding phone calls to the fire department, I said, “you think you got phone calls now, wait until they build those 77 new houses in the field adjacent to our property. When I burn then you’ll probably get tons of calls.” He said, “It’s OK if you have a valid burn permit.” I let that rest a bit before replying, “I have a valid burn permit for the one we’re destroying.” Keith had no response because he knew I was correct, but, The Chief Said.

Finally he was done and told me “The Chief Said you need to have a 3 foot bare dirt perimeter around the debris to ensure it doesn’t re-start.” Looking at my destroyed burn pile which had been soaked with probably 200 plus gallons of water, maybe more, I thought it was unlikely it would ever burn again.

He wound his hose up and departed well before the Dusk ban and I went to work creating the perimeter as directed. Diane made me quit after I made one circuit of the pile because, well, it was just time to quit. Now the plan it to get the old truck down to the pile, scoop up the residue, and just let it resume to be just another part of the field I mow. Works for me because keeping track of the burn pile is a pain.

For today’s festivities at our house, I made potato salad and will be BBQing pork ribs this afternoon sometime. I have to be down at the docks at 2:00 pm to ring in the 4th using the bell in the Columbia River Warrior Rock replica located near the gazebo in front of the old court house in St. Helens. All I have to do is ring it 13 times for the original 13 colonies. It’s a yearly thing done by the American Legion Post 42 of which I’m a member. It’s kinda cool to be part of that.

Now I must go put on some clothes and ready myself for the task.

Hope everyone has a safe 4th.