Sunset Bay State Park and other Stuff

Sorry I haven’t been around to make my normal short, concise, posts, but Diane and I were off planet for a number of days enjoying the Oregon Coast from our perch at Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay. It’s near North Bend, too, and right next to Shore Acres State Park. Shore Acres is the park that has a botanical garden that volunteers decorate every year. Grant MaComie did a story on it not long ago and it’s a nice story about how it all came together. Knowing about this ahead of time, Diane booked another four days, in the same space (A-13) at Sunset Bay that we vacated last Monday. These four days are for the end of November when the lights are all up and blinking. The crews have already begun the task of stringing lights and they will be lit from Thanksgiving thru New Year’s Eve.

Actually, we were only gone for five days but who’s counting? Really. Just five days. We didn’t have cell service, no TV, no internet, no nuthin. We actually had to sit and talk to each other for long periods of time which was interesting and revealing to one of us. With all the distractions of our daily life on Earth we don’t seem to take time to visit like we should. I recommend such a trip like this for everyone. We were in a beautiful place and found that we really didn’t miss all those things that capture our attention for long periods of time.

We did miss Ziva, however. She’s our camper and loves getting away from the other dogs once in a while. As we packed to leave she knew we were leaving without her and did her absolute best to make sure we knew she knew and that she wasn’t a bit happy about it. It was really tough to leave her standing there, all alone in the driveway, as we pulled away from the house to leave.

OK, we didn’t really do that … she was in the house, but she knew we were leaving. I suspect that she slept most of the five days we were away. Truly, she does that when we’re home. She’s a dog. When not chasing something or barking at something, she sleeps.

Normally I jot little notes down on my next post about things I want to share. Kinda like an outline. But it’s not an outline, it’s just a list. To use this program I need the internet so I used the Notes app on my Ipad for the list. I just now tried to bring it up and got a brief glimpse of what I saved, then it just all disappeared. Like magic. Poof! So, now I’ll have to remember stuff to make it worth your time.

We left home at 1:30 pm on Thursday and arrived after 6:30 pm. It’s a long drive (277 miles) and I had to do it all alone because Diane doesn’t feel ready to drive the RV yet. So, we go slow. Making that more of a necessity was the windshield that was really, really a mess. Actually, it was only a problem when cars came at me causing all the dirt smeared on the window to refract the light to the point where I was just kinda guessing where the road was. Another reason for arriving during daylight. It would have been just fine if we could have left home around 9 am as planned, but that never seems to work out. I dislike having to park and hook everything up in the dark and told Diane that if we don’t leave by 9 am on this next trip, we will wait until the next day. Or, we just don’t go. Just before I could stomp my foot for emphasis, she agreed. We’ll see how that works out.

The next morning we got up really late and didn’t do much right away because it was really foggy crappy looking outside. So, we just lounged around and read our books. Later in the afternoon we launched the Toyota and took a trip up and down the road outside the park, then cruised in to Coos Bay to look around. Diane drives the Toyota so I had an opportunity to view the road with a critical eye and couldn’t help but be amazed that I had actually driven a 35.5′ motorhome around those windy turns without once dumping us into a ditch, or the ocean. It was humbling, let me tell ya.

Over the course of the next 4 days we did a lot of reading, watched one DVD movie that we’d both already seen (Dare Devil) and slept a lot. Once in a while we ate something. I can hear many of you thinking that “you watched Dare Devil twice! Really?” Well, yes we did. It was luck of the draw. We’ll never have to watch it again.

We made a few trips to Fred Meyer in Coos Bay, walked up and down their boardwalk for a while, saw a couple of really interesting sea-going vehicles,

and had lunch at Shark Bites. Diane had halibut fish and chips and I had my crab Louie. We both loved our meals. Each piece of Diane’s fish was about an inch thick and cooked to perfection. My Louie had at lease half a pound of Dungeness crab meat on it. Wonderful. The trip was now worth it.

We were able to spend our last day sitting on the beach watching the sun go down on Sunset Bay. Sadly, I failed to bring my phone/camera to capture the moment. Just believe me, it was really pretty. I’ll take pictures when we go back there the end of the month.

Perhaps the following photos will serve to tide you over till then. These are just shots taken around the park.

This is Simpson Reef. Way back ‘when’ the Simpson family owned all of this.

This is the bottom of a tree that apparently blew over a long time ago.

Just me and my lovely bride.

A different look at Simpson Reef in the distance. 

Then, while driving back to the park one day, we came across this and thought you’d enjoy it as much as we did.

The trip home was uneventful.We stopped at the DQ in Reedsport for lunch. Ate inside, then took our drinks and headed north up Highway 101 to Florence, the scene of our last visit to this area a few weeks ago.

One thing I didn’t get while at the beach was a good bowl of clam chowder. I really like that stuff. So, I rummaged around in a bunch of cupboards until I found a can and warmed it up. When it blew up and figured it was done. I was using the saucer as a cover and when it blew it flipped completely over. What fun.

Betty, our County Clerk, called this afternoon to find out if Diane is ready to go to work with the Counting Board tomorrow. I told her that I’m sure she was and that I was currently washing all her underwear to ensure she was properly dressed … then Diane snatched the phone right out of my hand before I had a chance to say goodbye. I thought that was kind of rude

I forgot to mention that I went golfing with the Peal Brothers before we left on our trip and again on the day after we returned. Diane thinks it’s good for me to golf with these guys. So do I.

It was pretty both times.

Toilets, Stitches, and Golf

Wow! It’s been Eleventeen days since my last post. Doesn’t seem like that long so it’s apparent that I don’t remember all of them.

I do remember going to Costco one day to buy some stuff. I picked out a new toilet that was conveniently sitting on one of those pretty orange push things and no one was around to claim it. So, I just rolled it away and found Diane. As I followed her around the store I’d get an occasional, “Can I help you?” from Costco employees. I got tired of saying “no” all the time and switched to “no, my wife has diarrhea and I have to stay close to her until she’s done shopping.” It wasn’t long before I had 5 or 6 of them following me to see what was going to happen. Little did they know that they were wasting their time because that was days ago and the penalty won’t be enforced until later today when she reads this.

Another interesting aspect of my life that involves change is that Diane has started issuing me one pair of underwear at a time. I don’t get a clean pair unless I have a used pair to trade. Normally that doesn’t bother me but penalties for non-compliance are reportedly going to be severe for future infractions. I probably shouldn’t have turned in my last used pair without letting her see them first because now I have none. Guess I won’t be wearing jeans today.

Oh, and I got my stitches out. Too bad we’re not a little closer to Halloween.

I also went golfing with the Peal Boys even though the humidity was 100%. It wasn’t raining, just a little foggy. Added a challenge for finding the balls once they were hit because until we got to the 6th fairway, we couldn’t see them land. Just old guys having a little fun.

Now it’s time for me to fire up my table saw since Diane left me unsupervised again. I admit I received some explicit instructions but forgot most of them during the 10 minutes drive home. The main one is “no power tools!” We’ll see how that works out because I have a bunch of baseboard parts to trim.

Have a good one.

Broken Bones, Birthday’s, TV, and A Trip

It’s been a week since my last post so you’d think I’d have a lot to say. Like normal, however, I’m at a loss for words as I begin this. Again, like normal, however, somewhere during the course of sitting here I’ll find that I have more to say than is really interesting to most normal people.

8th – served at senior center with Jean & Sue while Diane went to physical therapy and her hand doctor. Then we had dinner with Diane’s Mom, Jean, who turned 90 this day. Diane got a cake for the occasion. Mom’s kindofa humbugger about such things and didn’t think it was a big deal like everyone else.

Me serving old people.

9th – Golfed with the Peal brothers. Did a terrible job, but had fun doing it. Took Panzee to see Dr. Freese in the pm for a checkup ($400). She’s doing just fine, all things considered. Liver functions are a little more elevated, but we expected that.

10th – Missed MELCA coffee with the guys because I had an appointment with a VA ENT specialist. Interesting that, even though I was referred in an effort to resolve an illusive issue, the doctors seem to fail to see the point about me visiting with them because I don’t have symptoms they can see. Consequently, I generally get a quick once over, a figurative blessing, and instruction to go forth and carry on. Interesting.

11th – Nothing happened this day so I chose to uninstall my heart monitor a day early and package it up for return to the vendor. Hopefully the sore spots obtained from those stick on receptacles will heal up quickly. They itch like crazy. I think I’m allergic to the conductive jelly they use.

Jack and Wynette returned ‘home’ for a short stay because somewhere in Idaho Wynette tumbled and broke her right arm just below the shoulder socket. She was in a lot of pain and the only short-term solution was to take pain meds. Docs in the ER said they couldn’t cast it so they put her in a loose sling. The son of a friend of Jack’s, who knew someone who knew an orthopedic doctor confirmed the need for the arm to hang loosely. Second opinions are always good. Both Jack and Wy slept on the recliner couch which works well for them both. Normally only Jack sleeps there, but Wy can’t lay down with the arm. Jack is taking good care of her. Their insurance company wants them back in AZ so a orthopedist in their plan can follow her from start to stop. The appointment is next Monday, August 21st. So, the break will be 10-days old by the time she sees a doctor.

Some more news from Idaho revealed that Jim’s wife, Donna, broke her foot in June. So, Diane broke her wrist in May, Donna a foot in June, and Wynette an arm in August. Somehow July was missed and were kind of concerned about our other sister-in-law, Ruth, in Connecticut. All the breaks just got worse over time so she must be in for a doozy. We hope not, of course, but the odds are not looking good for her.

12th – I was supposed to send the monitor back today but Diane turned it in yesterday. So, I visited Lydia’s Envoy and made another attempt to resurrect it from the semi-dead. I was moderately successful. It still has no power, but more than it did before. Next up is to replace the catalytic converter.

13th – Church as usual. Mom didn’t want to go for the second Sunday in a row so everyone who did attend ate her cake that Diane got.

14th – Packed up and headed out to Armitage County Park in Eugene right on time about 3 pm. We were supposed to leave at noon, but you know how plans can change. This will be the first trip we’ve taken with a car in tow. Had to use the tow dolly. Worked great. Here we are, stopped in front of Diane’s Mom’s house.

I’m happy to report that the Toyota followed us all the way to the park without falling off even one time. We found the park and our spot before dark. Everything hooked up and working great. They have an off-leash area for dogs so we took them to see what happened. There were other dogs there, but they were of no interest to Ziva who was more enthralled with smelling where all the dogs before her may have stepped, sniffed, peed, and/or pooped. She was in heaven. Ozzie, not so much. He was in more of a mood to be held and cuddled, so Diane complied.

15th – Ziva didn’t get the memo and got me up at 0532, like normal. So, I took her and Ozzie (who begged to come along, too) outside into the freezing cold morning. Diane said it was about 50, but it felt like 9, or so. Very chilly. Then I hunkered down on the sofa for another couple of hours. Kinda like being at home. It was OK. Later in the day Diane drove off to get some essential items at WalMart* which was only 7 minutes away in Eugene. One of the essential items was a small can of propane for the BBQ because I totally forgot to bring one of the two very large spare propane bottles we somehow acquired. From where is a mystery. Once she returned with the propane, and a couple other bags of ‘things’, I fired up the BBQ and cooked the steak we brought for that purpose. Diane made a salad, reheated fresh beans, and made some fake mashed potatoes. It was a wonderful meal in part, I think, because the meat was done nicely. Tasted great.

While Diane was busy shopping, and aggravating her injured, but reportedly healed left wrist, I fiddled around with the Dish satellite system and the RV’s AV features to the point where absolutely nothing worked at all. It was a bit frustrating, to say the least, but I persevered and found a solution by removing everything from the little tiny cabinet that houses everything, then stuffed the satellite things in there and hooked them up. It worked just fine.

Perhaps some of you remember my first foray into that little cabinet. It was kinda like that all over again.

What we don’t have is a connection to the surround system of speakers that live in our ceiling, but they quite working the first time I stuck my arm in that cabinet. The fact that they still don’t work isn’t an issue right now. I’ll figure that out at a later date when it may become important. I can’t get the radio to work, either. Perhaps I should have just left all that stuff alone when it was working. But, I just can’t seem to keep my hands off of stuff that has wires attached. It’s a ‘thing’.

Now it’s time to relax some more, after I share some photos with you …

While getting things ready to roll with the RV, Brooklyn and Kaiah from next door appeared with Alice in a car seat on a hand truck. She looked pretty comfortable. None of the straps were tight so she could have escaped any old time.

I took this photo the other day thinking that Breezie was laying on a bunch of sharp rocks. Well, it was just a trick of hers. I looked at it again after she got up and saw that there were no rocks where she was laying. Apparently she pushed them all out of the way before laying down. Tricky cat.

Finally, these two Transformers landed in our yard a week or so ago and have just been staring at each other since landing. I keep waiting for one of them to make a move but, so far, neither one has flinched. I’ve seen kids from the neighborhood playing on and around them, and no one has been hurt, but it’s just a matter of time. One day soon they will rise up and destroy all the ground around them. I’d like to be there for that.

By the way, the weather in Eugene is magnificent.

Old Friends, Zip Ties, and Bubble Wrap

7 lbs of hair from Diane’s tub drain. By my calculations, she should have been bald somewhere around May 14th. But, she’s not because it just keeps growing back.

Mowed all 7 acres. Took three hours. Bagged it all.

The Crossfire gave me some difficulty yesterday. I went golfing, didn’t do very well, but stayed under 60, then we went to Burgerville for lunch. Diane said I could go. In fact, she encouraged me to go. So, I did. I invited her to join us, of course, but instead she went to a more upscale facility, The Warren Country Inn, for a sit down lunch with Nancy. They worked hard all morning at the church so they certainly earned it. None of the golfers were invited.

I was a little late arriving at Burgerville so Doug and JP were already sitting, waiting for their food. I got in line and determined that I recognized the guy in front of me as someone I knew from PGE. In fact, I knew both guys waiting in front of me. To my never-ending humblement (yes that’s a word I just made up), they both remembered me, too. Lonnie and Tom from Facilities, the department that is currently managed by my friend Fred with whom I worked in IT as a desktop tech for most of 20 years. Turns out Tom and Lonnie were just passing through on a job and stopped for lunch. It was good to visit with them and catch up a bit on what’s happening at PGE since I left 10 years ago. Small world stuff gets me excited.

Here’s Tom, Lonnie, and me.

After lunch I jumped in the Crossfire to head home, but it wouldn’t start. The motor turned over nicely, but it wouldn’t fire. So, I raised the hood so Doug and I could just stand there looking at the engine, neither of us having a clue about what was causing the problem. We took a lot of guesses, none of which were projects we could do in the Burgerville parking lot.

So, I called Triple A to have it towed home. I was told it would take an hour for the tow truck to get there so Doug and I just visited. After a while, I decided to see if anything had changed and tried to start it again. To my surprise, it fired right up, but the Engine warning light stayed on. Having some minimal experience with causes for Engine warning lights that don’t go out, I pondered a bit, trying to recall some of the easy ones, like a gas cap that isn’t properly secured. Actually, that was the only one I remembered.

Since it was running, I called AAA back and cancelled the tow truck and headed home. Doug followed me in case it quit on me during the short trip. He’s a good friend. I made it OK and shooed Doug away so he could go home and get busy on some of the projects he has going on there. He lives on 85 acres on the top of a hill above Scappoose so he has projects all the time.

Curious about what the Crossfire computer might tell me about the problem with the Engine warning light, I searched and searched for my ODB II code reader. I searched the entire house and finally found it on the tray sitting about 14 inches from my right elbow. I actually looked there first, but didn’t remove enough layers to uncover it.

With the code reader in hand, I went to the car to plug it in and see what it might tell me. After a while I returned to the house, and my computer, to search the internet for information about where the ODB II port is on a Crossfire. Should have checked first, right? Right.

Back to the car, I connected the reader and stepped it through all the discovery steps and it came up with no news. So, I started the engine with it attached and it promptly popped up with P0337, the code for the Crankshaft Position Sensor which is identified as the CKP, which I don’t get. It should be CPS. Acronyms should make sense, don’t you think?

On my computer I found a lot of information about the CKP … how to find it, remove it, and replace it. Finding it was essential, I thought, so I did that first. It’s actually right in plain sight so I was pleasantly surprised. Nothing to dismantle to gain access. It is, however, in a tight spot which makes it difficult to remove the wire from the sensor without destroying the plug. Following detailed instructions, I managed to get the wire and cap off the sensor and knew I could get the sensor out with no problem. There was a strong warning about making sure to not lose the screw holding the sensor in place because when it falls it goes to an inaccessible part of the car. Not willing to test that theory right then, I replaced the wire on the sensor and put my tools away.

Then, for some reason, I started the engine. Perhaps it was to just make sure it still ran in case I might have to make a run to Urgent Care for some reason. I have a bicycle that works nicely, but I’d rather drive when that need arises because it’s much quicker. Anyway, the engine started just fine, and the Engine light didn’t stay on. I stopped and started the engine a number of times and it never stayed on. So, apparently, removing the wire from the sensor and putting it back on was the solution. Didn’t cost me a dime. Fixed. This is day 2 and it’s still staying off, so I’m calling this a win. I love solutions like that. Now I’m thinking that maybe I should work my way through the entire car unplugging and plugging all the connectors to avoid possible future weird things. Then again, I don’t think I want to engage in that much work. There’s a ton of plugs under the hood and most of them have names written in German because the car, although it’s a Chrysler, is made in Germany.

This morning I was up at 0500 for the marking dogs, but only for about half an hour. Then I assumed my napping position on the sofa until 0830 or so. Then it was time to put on some outdoor clothing and make a trip to the Kozy for coffee with the guys. I got there right on time, but there weren’t any familiar vehicles parked in our normal spot, so I just lurked for a while, then went home because I had yard work to finish.

You may remember that I buzzed the entire yard but it was so tall there was no way I could vacuum the mess, or use the mulching blades. Today, as anticipated, it being 80 degrees and all, the mown grass was nice and dry, weighing next to nothing. Before I could begin, however, I tackled the project of putting my grass catcher, and associated parts, back together, and tightening some nuts and bolts so it would mow better. I’ve run into a few trees these last 10 years causing the catcher cover to be hanging by a thread. Well, actually it was hanging together by two zip ties. Yes, just two of them. I’ve known for a while now that it needed many more to avoid the need to haul it back to the house when it fell off in the field somewhere.

So, I grabbed a hand full of zip ties, my drill, and went to work. Here’s the end product and it’s just as sturdy as a new unit.

The discharge chute was a mess, too. Up until yesterday it was held together, kinda, with duct tape, but it wasn’t working any more. In addition to stitching up the seam, I pop riveted the two parts of the tube together because the little rubber stretchy things it came with broke a long time ago and Sears doesn’t seem to sell those parts.

I even made creative use of some bubble wrap to keep the grass from blowing out of the catcher onto my back from the hole I previously plugged with a nice towel that was converted to many little towels as reported in a previous post.

Once it was all put together, I got busy sucking up all that grass I chopped down the other day, and it went very nicely. I was pleased. I only had to empty the catcher about 10 times. That’s 30 catcher bags of grass and it’s still nice and solid. It should last me another 10 years.

Now I’m officially tired.

Happy Birthday Jeff & Other Stuff

He’s 45, but he’s still our baby boy. He will always be that and I think he’s OK with it. Now.

Jeff was born this day in 1972, in Rome, Italy. Consequently, his birth certificate is in Italian. Unique. When he started playing Little League we thought it may pose a problem, but no one seemed to mind. Apparently all those official could read Italian, or they didn’t care. He got to play which was all that mattered to us.

Jeff has made our life interesting over the last 45 years. Lots of memories, some good, some bad. Oddly, the good memories are easier to remember so it’s all good. We love our Little Baby Boy who has grown into a good man and a well-loved father. There’s more in store from him in the future, we’re sure.

Today I had really good intentions of digging up the rest of those weeds that inhabit the east side of the house, but that didn’t work out. The weather got in my way by turning up the heat. To about 117 degrees. That’s a lie, of course, but it sure felt like it. It really was 90, or so, thought. As I manipulate this keyboard it’s 85 out there and it’s 7:00 pm. Actually, it’s 7:04 pm.

I didn’t do the weeds because Diane said I wasn’t doing it when it’s 90 out there because she doesn’t want me to die, I guess. As a compromise, I got permission to mow the yard which doesn’t require a lot of physical effort. Just steering the mower which is pretty easy to do when the tires are properly inflated.

To prepare for mowing the yard, I lifted the front end of the mower off the ground to more easily access the mower deck so I could swap out the mulching blades for the hi-vac version. That needed to be done because the lower 40 is too tall to run mulching blades. Instead, I plan to just blow it out all over the place, let it dry, then vacuum it up. Much easier than trying to get the stupid thing to vacuum up heavy grass. Much easier on Jerrie.

Once I get the mulching blades off I thought, “you know, I should clean the old grass off the deck before putting on the other blades.” Yes, I actually thought all of that in one coherent sentence. So, I took the mower to the front of the house, got the power washer, changed the short water hose for the longer one so it would reach across the street, went to the gas station to fill my gas can, filled the power washer, and cleaned the deck. Whew. Then I just left it over there to dry.

While waiting I thought, “gee, I might as well finish power washing the front walk. I’d both ends un touched from the other day because Diane usually likes to do a little PWing herself, but not today. I was directed to finish the job, which I did. That and a little more. Not much more. Just a little.

While working on the sidewalk I only had to stop twice. Once when Doug showed up and I did some work for the American Legion Post 42 at his request, then again when Jennie appeared, looking for addresses. She’s working on Lydia’s graduation announcements. Maybe you’ll get one.

After all that, it was time for lunch but I couldn’t eat until I cleaned up. That meant a shower because I was a mess. Since I had to take a shower, my work day was officially over so I put on the PJ’s Jeff gave me last Saturday, in addition to the apple fritter, and called it a day.

While in the shower Diane constructed a Crab Louie for us. We love those things. She was well into hers by the time I showed up because she said she’d given me to 4:00 pm to finish before she started because she was hungry. I don’t blame her because while I was messing around outside, she cleaned the entire inside of the house. That’s the deals with all the dust and pet hair inside and I deal with anything that’s green and grows.

After lunch I took the trash and recycle cans out front so they can be emptied tomorrow. I took the dogs out with me because I knew they’d stay close. They got all interested in the fermenting grass I’d cleaned from the mower deck, to the point where Ziva was laying down in it. Diane poked her head out the door and asked, “What are they eating?” I didn’t know they were eating it, but they were. Must be tasty stuff, but I certainly wouldn’t do that. It was pretty nasty looking. All squishy, rotting, and just plain nasty. It was like silage. And they were eating it. Maybe they are mutated cows that look like dogs.

It wasn’t easy getting them away from their new-found treats, but I did it. I knew they wouldn’t let me brush their teeth because I’ve tried it before, so I didn’t bother. I just won’t be kissing them any time soon. No sir, not me.

Now I must stop and watch the Golden State Warriors finish the destruction of the San Antonio Spurs. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just the way it is. The Spurs are a really good team, but they can’t stay with the Warriors. They have a 67-15 win loss record this season. Not too bad.

Now I must stop.

Kids, and Growing Older

Over the past four days absolutely nothing of interest happened. It was pretty routine around here. I did manage to go golfing with my friends Doug and Junior last Wednesday. That was fun because I shot a 48 for the second time in a row. That’s pretty amazing because before that happened I made a commitment, to myself, that I was going to count every stroke and play the ball wherever it wound up. If I could find it. Magically, my scores began to improve and it was quite satisfying. We’ll see if that continues. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to go back to my old ways and just count the good shots.

Tuesday evening I was invited to attend Baylee Jean Marie Cate’s 2nd grade program which was held at the high school. That’s also her Tai Kwan Do night, an activity at which she’s becoming progressively good, so I picked them up at the dojo and went straight to the program. It was a fun event all about singing picnic songs.

Baylee is in the front row, far left.

Additionally, I got a glimpse of Baylee’s niece, Danyell, who is also in the 2nd grade. She’s also my Great Grand Daughter, but we don’t get to see her very often. She’s in the middle of the back row, above the little boy who is looking at his necktie.

Baylee also got to perform a dance routine with three others which was fun.

Wednesday evening I attended a rousing session at Church Council and helped solve some problems. I don’t remember what they were but I’ll find out when I type up the minutes … I’m the secretary. I volunteered. Perhaps I mentioned that previously.

On Thursday I had coffee with two of my friends at the Kozy – Larry and Howard. Like normal, we solved some of the more important world issues that plague us, but we did it to deaf ears. No one listens to us. Except the waitresses. They’re always listening, but that’s OK. They take good care of us.

Friday morning I picked up Diane’s Uncle Bill and ferried him, and his ailing 35-year-old John Deere edger, to the outer reaches of Hillsboro, to his chosen repair facility. I swear we drove a 100 miles. Actually, I think we were on the outskirts of Seaside when we finished. The up side is we got to investigate all the new mowers and tractors, of which they have an abundance. It’s called Pape’. I made a half-hearted attempt to convince Bill that I, and the Internet, could fix his edger for practically nothing and save the trip. But, his heart was set on that ride, so away we went. We had a great conversation during the drive, so it was all good.

I picked Bill up at 0800 and it was time for lunch when I returned home. Lunch was a challenge, too, because Diane made me this …

Its was messy, but really good.

Somewhere in there Lydia and Jennifer showed up with their dogs, Solo and Kylo who had fun running around the place and eating all the dog food people forgot to pick up. At one point Oz and Kylo stood guard at the front door …

Just a few days ago Kylo was about Ozzie’s size. He’s going to be huge.

Friday afternoon Diane picked up Lydia and drove her to Hood River where she had a date with Chris to attend his Prom. He lives in White Salmon, Washington which is just across the Columbia River from Hood River. They would have stayed in White Salmon but there were no rooms available. Chris and Lydia have been friends for a few years since they met at Camp Tadmor one summer. Chris was Cedric’s friend first when Cedric worked for an entire summer at the camp.

Anyway, here is the happy couple. Our little Lyddie has grown up.

Yesterday, my birthday, I woke up all alone. Except for the dogs. Diane wouldn’t take them with her so I had to do the normal routine with them. Once they were fed, I was awake, ready to go to work pulling weeds, and whatnot, but forced myself to sit on the couch to read for a couple of hours anyway. As luck would have it, I fell asleep and had a nice little nap before Panzee barked at something.

So, I got up, donned my work clothes, grabbed my tools, and headed for the front yard where I went to work pulling grass and weeds from the dirt that should just be dirt littered with things we planted. This is the normal spring routine and I generally do it alone because Diane is very allergic to grass. She can only watch. Since she wasn’t there meant that I could also mow the front yard, which I did. Mowed the back, too.

I wasn’t alone the entire day. Jeff rode his bike up to deliver an apple fritter, which was delicious, and wished me a happy birthday. That was special. I also received birthday wishes from nearly 80 friends on Facebook. That was a treat, too, because I had no idea I had that many friends. Wow!

Though the love of my life wasn’t there, it was a good day. I did what I wanted to do, watched a couple of movies, watched the University of Oregon softball ladies advance toward the championship game of the NCAA tournament, fed the dogs and cat, etc. Generally, I just relaxed like I was told to do. But, without Diane there, even in another room, it’s just not the same, you know? I missed her.

After being relieved of Lydia Duty by Dan and Jennifer yesterday afternoon, Diane came safely back to me. I’m happy we are able to be available for the kids, but I’m also happy with every moment I get to spend with my bride. Especially at such an advance age.

I’ll be 80, just like Jim, in 7 years. Who knew I’d be allowed to live this long?

I’m a happy guy.

G’day.

From a Flawless Plan to an Adventure

The plan was:

  • Jennie to take Cedric to Sandy for double-header – Lydia was to pitch both games – and Diane and I would meet them there.
  • After the games, take Cedric back to his ship, USS Nimitz CVN-68, in Bremerton, WA.
  • Diane would drive Jennie’s car home while we headed north to Bremerton.

Simple plan, right? Well, it morphed quickly into the Adventure when Diane returned home from her dermatologist in the morning with lots of burned, crispy spots on her neck and doctor’s orders to remain out of the sun for 4 days. Considering the way the sun shines around here, that could take a couple of weeks. When I returned from golfing, which I did while Diane was at the dermatologist, she said she wouldn’t be going to the games which changed the entire plan for driving Cedric back to his ship.

The new plan was for me to drive Jennie and Cedric to the game, then just head north after the games. Simple, right? Well, to get ready, I had about an hour to mow the front yard, shower, and pick up Lydia and Cedric for the 1.25 hour trip to Sandy. Traffic was horrendous and it took 2 hours so we missed the first inning. It was OK because Lydia wasn’t pitching. Brooklyn was! Shock. She was supposed to have been off doing her Columbia County Rodeo Queen responsibilities. So, the six seniors got to play two more games together. Lydia pitched the first 3 innings of the second game then moved to first base.

Left to right: Brooklyn (pitcher), Kayla (3rd base), Bailey (left field), Ceiarra (1st Base), Mercedes (catcher), Lydia (any position needed)

Towards the end of the game Cedric gave us a huge sigh, hung his head, and reported that he had forgotten his keys at home. That required another change to the plans. Instead of going directly north via the freeways, we had to detour back through St. Helens. This increased the 3 hour trip to 4 hours. He had also forgotten one of his hats. OK, it happens, so we just dealt with it and went on about the business of watching the rest of the game.

Before leaving, Cedric had time to say good-bye to Lydia who was going home on the bus with the team. She got very emotional knowing she wouldn’t see him until next February, at the earliest. She cried, something she rarely does. For that reason, and others related to female hormones, some of her team mates started crying too. It wasn’t long before many of them were crying in support of Lydia’s sadness, and Cedric was getting hugs from many of the girls who don’t even know him, wishing him luck. It was a Kodak moment the coaches couldn’t ignore so they gathered the team for a picture of them crying and laughing. Cedric was very touched by it all, as were we.

Then something happened off to my left that caused a reaction that soothed the crowd.

With all this emotion going on Coach Little told Jennie to just take Lydia home with us, which we did. She slept with her head in Cedric’s lap most of the way. During the trip it Lydia said she’d like to go to Bremerton with us because she’d never been on a navy base and would like to see Cedric’s ship. School on Friday was the only issue but Jennie resolved that quickly and the deal was done. Lydia was going with us.

We got to St. Helens around 2030, Lydia got a go bag while Cedric passed out more hugs with his brothers, Jeran …

… and Ahmed …

… and away we went. It was dark, nothing to see, and Jennie drove from home to Bremerton. We got on base no problem, and dropped Cedric at his ship’s liberty gate. Lots of lights but not a photo-op.

Then we went in search of the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites (NGIS). It took an hour to find it and required the help of a person on the phone guiding us while she used a map of the base. While looking for parking I noticed signs indicating the spots we’re reserved for NGIS which looked suspiciously like NCIS so I didn’t park in them. Finally, I looked closer and noticed it was for the hotel and gratefully parked.

When checking in I bantered with the desk clerk, Randy, and learned he was born on Guam. Jennie piped up, “I was too. In Agana!” she said. What a small world even though Jennie was born there about 20 years before Randy.

Room had one bed and a recliner. Lydia, to be kind, said she wanted the recliner but I declined her the recliner and reclined in it quite comfortably the entire nite while the two girls, one of whom forget her Jammies, rested nicely on the queen bed. Even though Lydia slept in the clothes she wore for the trip, she intentionally didn’t bring Jammies, so I guess it was Jennie’s Jammies that didn’t make the trip. It was OK. By the time we got the lights out, it was about 0100 and we were all dog-tired.

Got up about 1000, left the room, then went to the NEX for some trinkets to commemorate the journey. Then I drove them all over the base to get a good view of the USS Nimitz in the daylight so the girls could see it. Last night it was too dark to see it clearly.

Then we went to breakfast at Denny’s which was almost all the way north in Silverdale. We all ate quite well. Lydia had a bacon burger with avocado which I had doubts that she could wrap her mouth around …

… but she did …

Jennie had this, but didn’t want the sausage links …

… so I got them with my Denver omelette …

After breakfast, Jennie drove us south toward home, the long way through Shelton, because we didn’t want the freeway stress. About 50 miles from the finish, she cried Uncle and I took over to the end. She drove the lion’s share of the trip and didn’t scare me even once. I was proud of her. After I started driving it began raining harder, and harder causing me to run the wipers at full speed much of the time.

I got them home a little after 1500, waited for Lydia to get her softball gear, then took her back to school for practice. The team has one more game on Friday then they can put their softball gear away. Lydia will pitch the entire game Friday because Brooklyn is definitely done for the season.

I arrived home to an empty house because Diane is at the court house again, working with the election committee. Well, the house wasn’t really empty because the dogs were here, and they were very happy to see me. They’re always happy to see anyone, even if they’ve only been gone a couple of minutes.

Oh, and the hat Cedric forgot at home? He forgot it in the truck when he got his stuff to go to the ship. Lydia found it.

I was feeling pretty good until I put this all down on paper and now I’m tired again. If it was a little later, I’d go to bed but it’s only 1730, so I’m going just have a nap.

Oops! Diane just buzzed into the garage in the roadster so maybe a nap isn’t an option. I may have to go out and kill something for her to eat.