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.

Golf with my Bride

Yesterday was a stellar day. Diane went golfing with me for the first time in many years and she finally got her new set of golf clubs a little dirty.

The clubs, I must add, are about 10 years old, but they were still brand new because she’s never used them until yesterday. It was a happy day in the sunshine.

There were two big obstacles for her to go golfing with me:

  • The weather was either too cold or too hot.
  • Too many people around watching her.

So, yesterday was a rare day and it was initiated by her … she told me she wanted to go with me. That made it interesting for me because I’d just golfed with my buddy Doug the day before so she was setting me up for two days in a row. That’s unheard of in Jerrie’s World of Golf.

But, no way was I going to turn down a date with my Sweetheart.

I made a tee time for 10:12. We were there in plenty of time but we were just slow enough that the couple we were paired with had already teed off so we had to go alone. Darn, said Diane, although I’m sure she would have gone anyway. Still, being on our own was a better choice.

Getting off the first tee is always a challenge for me so I appreciated Diane’s bravado in kicking us off. She didn’t go far, but she went straight, as she did every time she hit the ball. Me? I can hit it a long ways, and generally straight, just not the direction I think it should go. It’s Army Golf for me – left, right, left, etc…

It was a beautiful day and I’ve not seen Diane smile as much in one day for a long time. We had a great time visiting buzzing around in the cart looking for my balls. Her’s were always easy to find. Mine were a challenge most of the time.

After we finished our round on the course we were tempted to just continue on to the beach for lunch but chose to just head home with a stop at Costco on the way – we needed toilet paper, I think. Got a bunch of other stuff, too.

I’m hoping she found our time together on the links as enjoyable as I did and will make this a recurring date.

You might wonder what our scores were but none of us will never know. I just gave us alternating bogeys and double bogeys all the way around. Looks good on paper.

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.

Camping & COVID-19

Diane and I have weathering the current COVID-19 outbreak in space C51 at Cape Lookout State Park. We didn’t run here to flee civilization because of our concern about the virus, it just kind of worked out. Diane had this trip planned many weeks ago. We’re six days in on a planned ten day stay. So far we’ve had sun every day. At home it snowed last night. We’re in the right place.

We have been surviving without TV with no deleterious effects. Instead of TV we’ve been reading, mostly, and checking the internet once in a while. The park doesn’t have internet but our cell phones have a tiny little signal that allows us to use the “hot spot” feature, so Diane gets her daily fix of Trump snippets. Her day isn’t complete without at least a couple of those.

We have been watching one movie a day. Yes, that’s on our TV, but doesn’t count because there’s no news, or commercials.

Last night we watched two movies because the first one was so horrendously boring. It was almost 3 hours long and was about the beginning of the CIA. The name is “The Good Shepard”. We don’t recommend it for anyone who doesn’t need a nap.

Yesterday we mosied around the backroads of Pacific City and came upon an entire hill full of Holy Cow Houses. Those houses that, when you first see them, causes one to blurt out “Holy Cow, look at that house!”

Seriously major homes, the vast majority of which appeared vacant. We postulated about that and determined they were all owned by California lottery winners who have other homes all over the place and only use the ones in Pacific Beach when the sun shines and gets the temp above 70 degrees. Whatever the reason, they are quite magnificent. Considering that the development name is Nantucket Shores, it’s possible all those houses are owned by a Rhode Island lottery winner who wishes to spend time, with his enormous family, in another beautiful part of God’s world, while pretending he’s still on that little island in the Atlantic.

Lunch at The Schooner on Netarts Bay – best fish and chips ever. Really. I had a cup of some really good clam chowder and a piece of Diane’s fish.

After lunch we drove to Alderbrook Golf Course, north of Tillamook. It’s a beautiful course with awesome fairways. Diane was excited because there wasn’t anyone playing. But, the guy in the pro shop pointed out that the wind was blowing pretty hard, keeping players away. I told the guy in the pro shop that wind doesn’t bother people who can’t hit the ball straight. Also, if they’re concerned about wind they’d never be happy playing with me and the Peal Boy’s because wind just isn’t a factor for us. Neither is snow or rain.

All the restrictions for COVID-19 are concerning. I’m sure pretty much everyone is getting the message about how important it is to wash one’s hands. At least we hope they are. We’ve enforced that simple heigenic routine with the Littles, and each other, for years. Some of us still don’t get it but they aren’t the ones likely to contract the virus. We older folks are. So, we keep them honest by making them wash their hands pretty much every time they touch anything. We do our best to ensure they understand the possible consequences of not washing their hands before opening the refrigerator, any drawer or cupboard to get eating utensils, or when they cough. All the news about this virus gives us ample opportunities to get their attention and say, “See what happens when you don’t wash!?”

I have photos of houses and “stuff” that I’ll have to add later. The weak signal we have won’t allow me to upload them with this. So, I’ll just send it off without them and work on the A/V aspect later.

Hope everyone is getting through this scary time OK. We’re praying for everyone.

Now I must stop. Diane is prettying up to go shopping at Safeway in Tillamook. Alone. I’m staying home to work on the furnace. It won’t light and Diane doesn’t want to be here when it blows up while I’m working on it.

Wish me luck.

Golfing in Myrtle Beach

Before going golfing this afternoon, we drove north into North Carolina just because we could. It’s only about a 30 minutes drive. Our goal was Calabash, NC, then we went a little further to Sunset Beach. The only stop we made was at the Pea Landing mercantile in Calabash, NC. This place is one incredibility huge knick knack shopping center that stretches at least one city block long then turns a corner for another block. Inside is an indescribable array of “things”, many of which are things I’ve never seen before and can’t remember the name of. Here’s a little of what it looks like.

While driving around in Sunset Beach, this sign caught my attention and decided I had to share it. I can only presume that whoever made it had a speech impediment of some sort.

Then we went south, and back ‘home’.

After returning from our NC adventure we fortified ourselves with a great lunch of tuna fish. Diane had hers plain on the remainder of her salad from yesterday’s fare, and I mixed what was left with various things for a tuna sandwich. We did that because Diane wanted hers plain and I like to put onion in my tuna salad for sandwiches. It’s way better that way. Really. Diane will disagree. turns out I have enough remaining to make another sandwich for supper this evening, if Diane lets me. She’s turned into my food alarm so she can ensure I eat enough of the correct things, but not too much of it. It’s all about my diabetes and I understand her concern, so I comply. It’s easier for me to do that than to remember everything I’m supposed to do and what I should do. far less complicated for me.

The weather here in Myrtle Beach has been most excellent the entire time we’ve been here. It rained twice, in a tropical manner (at night) but it was OK. The temperatures were in the mid to high 80’s a few days ago, but the last few days it’s been chilly in the morning (45 this am) and warms up to 70+ as the day progresses. As I sit here typing (at 1800 hours local) it’s a balmy 68. There is no wind and the sea is so calm it hardly makes any noise at all. Quite different from the rambunctious Pacific Ocean. Way different.

But, there’s a storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico that may change all that over the weekend as we prepare to pack up and head back south to Charleston. Should be interesting to see what transpires.

Now, back to goffing …

The course we chose was the Mt. Atlanticus Minotaur Goff course.

From the top of the mountain.

No doubt you gasped when you realized I was talking about putt putt golf, not real golf. The thing is, if you think about it, me being an unemployed, retired, old navy guy means that $10 for 18 holes of putt putt beats real golf green fees that range from $28 to $80+. I don’t know if that’s for 9 holes or 18, but putt putt is cheaper and I’m cheap. That, and it was Diane’s choice of which course to play.

We had a great time even though it involved climbing many stairs. According to Diane’s fitbit we logged about 5000 steps and a little over 2 miles during our match. According to the score sheet, even though Diane had 4 holes-in-one (I had one) I beat her by 2 strokes; 43-45. Pretty close. Diane had such a good time that she’s decided to go Golfing with the Guys when we get home. I’ve been trying to get her to join us for a long time and I know she’s going to really enjoy it. She’s got this really nice set of golf clubs I bought her about 10 years ago and they still have the plastic wrapped around the club heads.

It was a good day.

Now it’s 1926 hours, we’ve had dinner and are winding down for a restful night so we can venture north (and a little west) to Loris where we plan to see what the Loris Bog-off is all about.

Should be fun.

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.

Junior The Red-Nose Reindeer

Today I went golfing for the next to last time, forever, on our private course in St. Helens, Oregon. I’ve been golfing there with the Peal Brothers for years and learned, just today, that they’ve been keeping a secret from me. Junior is actually Rudolf! Who knew? All this time I thought he was simply a great friend and an old classmate. As we played the sixth hole, however, his transformation started and he reported that he would be heading to the North Pole earlier than usual. He figures if he sticks around much longer he’d be answering a lot of questions about his fuzzy ears.

I’ll miss having him around to engage me in a nice, leisurely round of golf. Also, learning that Junior naturally has a large red nose in his natural state explains why he’s hard to find when Christmas rolls around.

I’m keeping an eye on that guy from now on.

A Marathon, a Trip, and Eating Out

Hi. In case you’re wondering, it appears that I’m going to survive the grueling sciatica affliction to which I was subjected due to the incredibly hard seats in the EOU gym during Maryssa’s graduation. That was on June 16th – FLASH! I need to share, right here, that June 16th is absolutely correct and I just pulled that date out of thin air BEFORE I checked it. I think I’m going to give myself a little star. Yessir! I’m getting a star!

Regarding my ongoing battle with sciatica pain, I must report that over the past 3.5 weeks I’ve had numerous occasions where I was almost pain-free. Every time that happened I figured it would be OK to do some work outside which undid all the good up til then. I should have listened to Diane. She’s was always saying, “stay on the couch or go take a nap”. Really, she told me that but I had a hard time with it because I couldn’t help thinking about all the outside chores that weren’t getting done while I snoozed away. I finally acquiesced to her demands and have since become very comfortable with napping pretty much any time of the day, guilt free.

Another setback was caused by my unauthorized participation in a marathon on the 4th of July in downtown St. Helens. Jennifer, our daughter, and Lydia, her daughter, were participating and asked Diane to join them on this trek around town. Much to my surprise, she agreed. Jennifer said she already bought the costumes for the dogs and had tutus for her, Lydia, and Diane. Sadly, I didn’t get a tutu.

The marathon had a name … The Underachiever .4K Marathon. Yes, that’s a .4K. Jennifer was in charge of Bronson while Diane and Lydia shared turns with Ziva which left me to bring up the rear, hobbling as fast as I could. When it was all said and done, huffing around every corner looking for the finish line, I finally found it after only 2 hrs 27 mins. Diane and the kids, being much younger and less prone to take small breaks along the way, finished in about 30 minutes.

This is the way our July 4th began …

Then we got all dressed up for the marathon … 

Marathon starting line – runners went first.

Diane and Jennifer bringing up the rear … I don’t know where Jeran was at this point, but he was there.

Here’s Jeran with Lydia and Bronson. Bronson looks absolutely ecstatic about all the commotion, doesn’t he? There was some doubt about Bronson’s willingness to walk all that way, especially while wearing that hat, but he did well. Another danger was the possibility of encounter someone on a skate board. Given the opportunity, he will chase down the rider and take the board away from him. Skaters have learned to not ride past the Walters house.

Ziva was interested in all the other dogs, of course …

This was Diane saying, “Don’t do it!”

Getting untangled …

First stop, the Krispy Creme Lady …

Next stop was the Running Dog Brewery for a beer, or a fantastic locally made root beer. Truly the best root beer I’ve ever tasted. 

Waiting in line for treats.

Still waiting in line …

… and, still waiting in line …

The race finished with a fashion show where Ziva won 2nd place. Judging was based on audience applause and Ziva’s ovation was the loudest. The judge, however, was obviously biased and gave it to a young girl and her dog who were wearing matching tutu’s. I knew I should have had a tutu!

The next day Diane thought it would be fun to have lunch on the Roof overlooking the Columbia River. It’s a new eating facility that, thankfully, has an elevator that drops visitors off at the bar. It was a perfect day and the food was great. They serve all manner of alcohol as well as sandwiches on hogie rolls. Good food, but they didn’t have ham. I wanted ham. Instead, I ate their version of a reuben which wasn’t bad. The view was awesome.

Straight out from the venue is Sand Island where the cities fireworks are ignited. No doubt it was loud and colorful the previous evening from this location. The far beach is the Washington side of the Columbia River.

Diane wanted to capture the flag in front of the old court house.

Last Sunday Diane and I took a trip to Bremerton, WA to deliver Cedric back to his ship, the USS Nimitz, America’s oldest super carrier. We didn’t leave until 2000 so it was a quiet and uneventful trip. We were treated to this sunset as we made our way north which made the trip worth it all by itself.

Instead of turning around and coming right back home, we booked a room at the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites on the Naval Base where we lounged until almost 1100 the next morning. Then we drove home.

After arriving home I had a short nap then picked up Jennifer and Lydia for another artistic adventure at a local school. It was fun as are all events that I get to share with my girls. My painting is the one on right. I think I could have done a better job if it hadn’t been for the two young girls at the table in front of us who were having way too much fun. They distracted me.

It was a good day.

On Tuesday I took my bad back to the golf course to ride around in a cart with Doug and Junior. Every once in a while I’d get out and smack a golf ball just as hard as I could, as did D and J. They were more serious about form and did better than me, but it turns out when I get enough rest and can hit a golf ball a long way. I can putt pretty good, too. It’s everything between the drive and the putting that gives me problems. Still, it’s fun to visit with the guys.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I had a visit with my VA primary care doctor, Dr. Gilbert. She’s been taking good care of me for a few years and this was just a followup so we didn’t have time to talk about everything new that’s cropped up since our last visit. So, I have another appointment next month to address my back. I’m getting my MRI, one of my most favorite things in the world to do. Yessir, stuff me in that tube, the one that tightens around you and squeezes the life out of you. Thankfully, they give me Valium so I can make it through without screaming too much.

After the doctor visit, we went to the Black Bear Diner on TV Highway for lunch. Rick and Jody joined us. Diane had a croissant tuna sandwich, and I had a California Burger.

Rick and Jody thought it was pretty funny and didn’t think I could actually compress it enough to get it in my mouth, but I fooled them. It was an excellent hamburger.

R&J had already eaten so they each just wanted a piece of pie. When it was delivered to the table it was evident karma was being observed because I got the last laugh. Turns out a piece of pie at the Black Bear Diner is a little bigger than a slice.

It was a good ending to a good day.

Sciatica Deluxe, Beavers, Anniversarys

Since my last post I’ve been recovering from the consequences of sitting on a hard bleacher seat for 4 hours. My little sit-down bones rebelled and have been complaining since that day causing my sciatica to run rampant making life pretty miserable for both me and Diane.

Yeah, I know. No one really wants to listen to a complainer so I’ll just put those personal items aside and talk about other stuff. Doing that, however, doesn’t make my back feel any younger.

Let’s talk about the NCAA College World Series. Everyone watched at least some of those games, right? I mean, like you were glued to your TV screens, hanging on every pitch to see what was going to happen. Well, I can’t say that Diane and I did that, not at first, but we got totally engaged when the field was whittled down to the last eight teams, one of which was the Oregon State Beavers. That caught our interest.

When Oregon lost their first game to North Carolina the excitement waned a little, I admit, but we watched anyway. Sticking with them provided us with a great deal of entertainment as the Oregon Beavers clawed they way through the field, one elimination game at a time. Each time we thought it was all over for the Beavs they rallied late and came out on top. That included the final elimination game against Arkansas which was game 2 of the Championship round. Arkansas was unbeaten to that point and Oregon was down to its last strike, bottom of the 9th inning with 2 out and the score was 3-2 Arkansas, and the tying run was on third. It looked bleak for our Beavers. The pitcher took the mound and the batter line up for that final strike. It was a mighty swing resulting it a pop up down the 1st base line. Two Razorbacks rushed to the projected landing zone and raised their mitts, waiting to see who had the best chance to catch it. Right then, a third Razorback rushed between them with his glove in the air as if he had it in the bag. About the time those three formed an equilateral triangle the ball plummeted into the ground right about ground zero. It was stunning for the Beavers, devastating for the Razorback. Had one of them caught that ball it would have been game over and the Razorbacks would have been the national NCAA champions. Instead, the batter and pitcher faced each other one more time. The batter made a solid connection and drove in the tying run with a solid single. That brought Trevor Larnach, Oregon’s team leading home run hitter who didn’t disappoint. He drove the ball over the right field fence into the Beavers bullpen. Now it’s 5-3 Oregon and they wouldn’t lose the lead, taking out the three batters they faced in the top of the 10th. Great game. Check the details here if you want to read it with photos.

As a rule, I don’t watch baseball because I find it to be a fairly boring thing to do. It’s like watching a horse race while standing next to the finish line. Nothing really happens until the last straightaway sprint when jockeys jockey for position and the thundering hoof beats impact your entire body, causing your adrenaline to spike, driving your heart rate sky-high. Then, BOOM!, it’s over, and quiet quickly descends on the crowd amid a mixture of cheering and boohoos.

Now we have to wait until next season to see how they do. Odds are in the Beavers’ favor for finishing high in the standings because many of their ace players are returning, including the freshman pitcher, Kevin Abel, who threw a complete game shutout for the final game. Also coming back is the catcher, Andy Rutschman, who set an NCAA championship series record with 17 hits, I think. Maybe 18. He did well.

OK, enough about sports. Now I’ll just make stuff up and see if something moves into the realm of reality.

Even though I could hardly walk due to my annoying sciatica, I can still golf. I don’t get it. All that twisting, turning, and swinging doesn’t aggravate the existing pain. And, I think because the pain slows me down a little, I actually golf better. Funny thing. My last outing with the boys was yesterday and we finished our allotted 9 holes with a 54. Yes, we tied, something we’ve never done before. Now, before you bring up the fact that 54 for a round of 9 isn’t all that great, let me point out that we don’t take golfing all that serious. We’re out there for fun, fresh air, and the lunch that follows the 9th hole. When we’re done and packing up our gear we talk about where we should eat so that’s actually part of the game for us. Generally, we wind up at Burgerville but lately the New Happy Garden restaurant, across from Walmart, next to the Verizon store, has caught our interest.

Today is Tuesday, July 3rd, in case you were wondering. I was, so looked it up. This morning Diane made me get up really early then drove me to the VA Clinic in Hillsboro to donate blood and urine to be analyzed prior to my pending July 11th appointment with Dr. Gilbert. She’s my primary care doctor. Hopefully my sciatica will be all healed up by then because I’m fearful her solution might include some guy with a sharp knife. I’d like to avoid that. I think I’ll beat it because Diane has been very strict with me, making me rest and relax, to let it heal. I thank God for her every day.

On June 23rd, Jennifer’s brother Jeff, and his lovely wife Heather, celebrated their 11th anniversary then on July 1st Jeff’s sister Jennifer, and her lovely husband Daniel, celebrated their 23rd anniversary. Factor in the 50th anniversary that Diane and I recently celebrated, we have a combined total of 84 years of married life. That’s quite significant. We pray there will be many more of those years.

My mind just ran dry so guess I’ll quit for now. I hope everyone is in good health, happy, and that you will all be careful when playing with fireworks tomorrow. Remember – it’s light the match, light the firecracker, throw the firecracker. Some folks seems to get confused in the heat of the moment and throw the match and keep the firecracker. You can always tell past offenders. They’re the ones who can still play Chopsticks on the piano because it only takes 2 fingers.

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.