Thru LA to Carlsbad – Day 4

Days 4 thru 7 are so full of stuff, and I have lots of photos, that I’m going to break it up so you won’t get totally bored. That, and I have 47 photos to share that total 118 MB of data. Too much for one post. So, I’m going with Day 4 now.

That would be the day we finally arrived in Carlsbad and got checked in to our rooms. This time, instead of a three bedroom house, like we had at NAS Lemoore, we had a two bedroom condo. Well, actually, it’s a one bedroom condo with a studio adjoining. Perfect for the four of us. The girls had their own space with a bath, and we had ours. Yes, perfect.

Getting to the room from Lemoore, however, was a serious challenge because we made it a point to drive through Los Angeles so the girls could experience the traffic. They weren’t disappointed, but I’m sure they wish we’d chosen a speedier route. Yes, it was a dumb thing to do, but we only had to do it once, right? Right.

As it turned out, Diane gave up driving before we reached the infamous Grapevine over the hills into the LA area. So, I had the honor. What fun. Additionally, I wound up driving all the way to Carlsbad, a  v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w. t.r.i.p. Really. And, it took most of the day. No, it took all day. We arrived over two hours later than the original arrival time computed by our GPS lady before leaving Lemoore.

Once over the Grapevine, and into the city, the speed dropped to around 0-20 mph and that’s the way it was for the duration, all the way to Carlsbad. That’s a stretch of about 100 miles. It was brutal; 4-6 lanes (each way) of vehicles cruising along at a little over walking speed most of the time.

But, we made it. Yes we did.

Our accommodations here at Marbrisa Resort are on the ground floor. The girls’ room has a small patio that is about 10 feet from the gate into the pool area, right next to the hot tub. Perfect, right? They certainly think so. They have four pools to play in.

Somewhere during that grueling day, we stopped for lunch at a Panda Express where I pigged out on a bunch of shrimp which resulted in this …

The dreaded Gout. It hurt, and I limped a lot, but it didn’t stop me from keeping up with the crowd. When we had a chance, we went to the commissary at Camp Pendleton and got the most horrible cherry juice in the world which Diane made me drink to help resolve the gout problem. I managed to gag down a glass but that was it. Nasty stuff, and I kinda used to like cherry juice. Next time I get gout I will just live with it until it’s gone.

Today is Wednesday. I’ll fill you in on Monday and Tuesday next. I’ll leave you with a photo of “my girls” waiting for a table at an eating establishment somewhere on the West Coast, South of Los Angeles. Might be the Green Dragon in Carlsbad.

Here’s what we ate …

That’s it.

Ahmed, the Crossfire, and TLWTBA

Yesterday I visited the Walter’s domain to attend Ahmed’s going away party. Ahmed, in case you don’t know, is a foreign exchange student from Pakistan who has been living with Daniel, Jennifer, Lydia, and Jeran since last summer. From day one he was part of the family and didn’t miss a beat by including Diane and me, calling us Grandma and Grandpa. That was pretty cool. He’s a special young man and we can’t wait to see what his future has in store for the world. Jennifer has become something of an expert preparing halal food for Ahmed and it may become a regular food choice for them even after Ahmed has returned home.

He leaves next week and will be missed by everyone. But, thanks to social media, he’s just a click away.

Also, yesterday, I returned the part I bought at O’Reilly’s Auto that I was sure would resolve the problem I’ve had with the Crossfire. The error code reported a bad Crankshaft Position Sensor. I think I already shared that previously but that’s OK. I’ll pretend you forgot.

Anyway, I had to special order the part on Saturday because it wasn’t on the shelf. I was a little surprised by the price because it was over double what I expected. However, I needed the part, and paid the price. I picked the part up Sunday morning and went right home to install it so I don’t have to drive Diane’s truck any more. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a nice truck and I really like it. But, I kinda like the Crossfire more at this time.

I carefully unwrapped the part and noticed it looked a lot different from the pictures I saw during my search for the part. Double-checking the part number on O’Reilly’s website revealed that what I’d paid such an exorbitant price for was a Camshaft Position Sensor, not a Crankshaft Position Sensor. Not the same critter.

I boxed it up and took it back to O’Reilly’s and explained the error of their ways. I’m pretty positive that I requested the correct part but the thing is that when I did it, I also purchased the Camshaft Position Sensor for Lydia’s Envoy. It’s her graduation present from me. She doesn’t know that yet because I didn’t wrap it. I just gave it to her. I can kinda understand why the fellow who helped me (the Manager) made the mistake because of the way the transaction went down, and I wasn’t upset.

When I returned it I was helped by a young man who was apparently new at O’Reilly because he was just learning their computer system. Thankfully, he had me for a customer because I don’t get upset about stuff like this. It just isn’t productive. So, I made it a good experience for him and we got things straightened out. Turned out the part I needed was in stock (their last one) so I got that and half my money back. What a deal.

Back at home, I gathered my tools and went to work. It didn’t take long before I had the old one out and the new one in. I cleared all the computer failure codes and cranked it up. The engine purred like a sewing machine and the engine light stayed off. Just to be sure, I checked for failure codes, but there weren’t any. I guess I can now call myself a Crossfire mechanic. Sure, it was simple, but I did it. All by myself. And only burned my hand 4 times.

Tomorrow I’m taking The Lady With The Broken Arm (TLWTBA) to the doctor who was already scheduled to see her on June 13th, Cedric’s and Don’s Birthday, and the day Ahmed leaves. Apparently the doctor saw something, we think, because she called today and requested that she be delivered to the office tomorrow morning, bright and early. So, that’s what we will do.

Now I must go to bed so I will be ready to roll in the morning.

G’Nite.

 

Broken Arm, Day Four

It’s been brutal, let me tell you. Although I can’t say I know the pain Diane’s feeling, I can tell you that every time she gasps in pay, my poor little testicles get sucked right up into my abdominal cavity. It’s a very unpleasant feeling but serves to demonstrate the empathy I have for the pain she’s enduring.

What makes it worse is the cast she received yesterday. When they first put it on it was OK, but by the time we got home se said it was loose, allowing her wrist to move. So, not being able to keep it entirely immobile, it hurts all the time. She wants her splint back because at least with that she got some respite from the pain once in a while.

I suggested that we call the doctor now, and leave a message about the distress she’s in, but she’s my tough guy wife and plans to deal with it until Monday instead of interrupt her doctor’s weekend. What a gal, huh?

That’s about all I have, except the Oregon Lady Ducks beat Baylor 7-4 in the loser bracket of the WCWS and will be playing again at 10 pm Eastern Time against LSU. One more loss in the tournament and they go home. That doesn’t have anything to do with a broken arm, I know, but we both enjoy watching the girls play.

That brings me to one of my hot topics … Comcast, our cable provider, doesn’t deem it necessary to include female athletic events in the handy-dandy panel they provide for sporting events. For us, we push the “C” button on the remote (the one we can talk to) and the screen splits to show what’s currently playing on the channel we were watching, and a menu list of all current sporting events across the top: On Now (only man stuff), MLB, NBA, NHL, CFL, Soccer (men), and NASCAR.

C’mon, Comcast. This is the Women’s College World Series, from criminy sakes. How about some respect for these Ladies?

Don’t get me wrong, I like men’s sports, too, but I think it’s very unfair, maybe even sexist, to discriminate against the women in this way.

Gotta quit and get off that soap box. I’ll end with a photo of Diane’s arm just before her purple case was applied.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. I certainly hope so. I don’t know how many more times I can safely retract my testicles before it causes some sort of brain damage.

Bike Rides, and the Seaside Emergency Room

It was a nice, overcast day at Nehalem Bay State Park. It had the promise of a good day. Not too hot, not too cold. That lasted for most of the day before things got exciting for some of us. Before I go there, however, this is a busy day at the beach.

I took Ziva for a couple of runs around the park because I discovered that she’s OK with running alongside the bike. She makes a very rhythmic clickity clickity noise as we go. I figured it would be good for whittling down those nails. We did that a few times, running all the way around the park, all the loops.

As the sun headed for the horizon we decided to take Ziva for another run and Diane was game to give her bike a try. The first stop was to dump the trash, and that’s as far as we got before Diane, while trying to stop her bike, failed to put her foot down, and just kinda tipped over like that guy on the tricycle on “Laugh In” from many years ago, for those of you who may remember that show.

I didn’t see her fall because she was behind me, but I heard the crash. When I turned around she was lying on the pavement, on her left side with both legs still almost on their respective pedals. Carefully, I removed the bike from between her legs and got it out of the way so she could sit up, but she stayed prone for a while, waiting to see what hurt the most. I regret that I failed to get a photo of that, but I did get one of her sitting up, surrounded by Yurt People. We were pretty close to them and they all came to see how they could help.

We left her alone until she was ready to sit up. By that time she had assessed the damage and reported that it was confined to her left wrist which was most certainly broken. She pulled he sleeve back on her sweater, which was miraculously without holes, to show us how her wrist made this nifty “S” curve going down her arm into the wrist area. The break was across her ulna, just above her wrist. She’s a quick thinker and managed to get her wedding rings off before the swelling made it to her fingers. I wore them on my right pinkie which is exactly the correct size.

While sitting on the pavement, near the trash compactor, park rangers were added to the group of overseers and offered to summon an ambulance for transport to the hospital. It was about 6:45 pm at the time and we knew there was an Urgent Care facility in Manzanita, jus outside the park, so we opted for me to transport her there to at least get some pain meds because the shock was wearing off and she was feeling every aspect of the fracture. She was quickly sinking into a very miserable, painful place.

One of the Yurt People, a young man, helped me get the bikes back to the trailer so I could get the truck and load her up for the trip. That done, we headed for Highway 101 and stopped at a Shell station because Diane wanted water and ice. I got both, as well as a plastic covered soda box that one of the attendants was in the process of breaking down for disposal. She thanked me for saving her a little bit of time. I put the box in Diane’s lap, added the very large bag of ice in the box and she made her arm as comfortable as possible for the trip.

The Urgent Care facility was just a couple of blocks north of the station but it was a wasted stop because they closed at 6 pm. So, we made a decision to head north to Seaside Providence Hospital.

The sobbing stopped within the first 10 miles as the ice did it’s job. We were both thankful for that because her pain was eased, and my distress about my inability to make it all go away was minimized. Then all I had to do was shudder each time I hit an unavoidable bump in the road, of which there are many on Highway 101, as we made that 21 mile trip to Seaside.

As we drove, Diane was able to key into Maps our destination so we knew exactly where to go. It was a good distraction for her. I would have taken a photo but figured that wouldn’t be a good idea since I was driving and she was using my phone.

We got to the hospital about 7:15 pm and got checked in to the emergency room very quickly. The place was jumping, every room filled. We learned that after a fairly slow Memorial Day weekend, everyone in town showed up at the emergency room just before we got there. It was very busy and all that was left was a gurney in the hall near the housekeeping area. A tech soon appeared to take her for X-rays and I took that opportunity to visit Ziva in the truck and let her out for a bit. She was really being good, knowing that there was a problem.

For those of you who require medical details, here’s what the X-ray revealed. She has two things:

  • Closed Smith’s fracture of left radius
  • Closed non displaced fracture of styloid process of left ulna

She broke both bones in her forearm.

Applying the splint. Not a fun thing.

Applying the ACE bandage. Not fun, either, but better.

Expecting a long, normal, emergency room experience, we were both surprised when the very busy doctor, a young lady who looked like she could be Lydia’s sister, appeared with news about what was going to happen.  With the swelling the only thing they could do was splint the break, which a couple of RN’s did, then they wrapped it with a large ACE bandage. The Dr. visited before we left, checking the wrapping, then pulled on Diane’s fingers really hard. I suspect that was to help align the bones a bit, and it hurt. Then we were checked out with instructions to follow up with an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible. The nurse gave us some pain pills for her to take until we could fill the prescription we received with the release paperwork.

In all, we were at this extremely busy emergency room for only 2.5 hours. That’s a record for us. Normally it’s 5 hours. We have lots of emergency room experience and can probably be considered experts on the patient side of things in that regard. Nurse Sarah could provide a more in-depth view of the hospital side from her perspective as a trauma nurse. Perhaps one day she will.

Initially, I was going to just take Diane and Ziva home to St. Helens, after the hospital released her, then return later in the week for the trailer. But, by then she thought staying another night in the trailer wouldn’t hurt any worse. So, we returned to the scene of the crime, got her some nourishment, and she took her pain pill. It wasn’t long before she was down for the count. According to her FitBit she didn’t move a muscle for almost 7 hours.

I slept on the blow up mattress that turns the couch into a queen bed. It wasn’t bad. I woke with no noticeable kinks.

After stowing the blow up bed, Diane got up and stumbled around a bit before eating a banana, a couple cups of coffee, a yogurt, and a piece of toast. Then she took another pain pill which soon caused her to stumble around a bit more as she made a gallant effort to dress herself one-handed in this confined space. She said to NOT share that she needed help putting on her underwear and pants, so I won’t. For that, I will surely be in trouble.

At 10:40 am went went down for a nap. When she woke up she took another pain pill and we began breaking camp so we could leave. She thought she would be able to take care of everything inside the trailer to prepare for the trip so I avoided an argument and just let her have a go at it. Turns out it was another good distraction for her from the pain, and she did a marvelous job. I took care of the various things attached to the outside, and hooked up to the truck. Then, we were off. First stop was the dump to empty the holding tanks.

We bid adieu to space B-13 and decided to take Highway 101 through Astoria, a much less stressful way to get home. The other way is on Highway 26 where accidents are common as folks rush back to Portland from the coast.

In Astoria we stopped at DQ for a Triple Berry Slushy for Diane and a Chocolate Malt for me. Other than that, the ride home was pretty uneventful. No wrecks to dodge, no bikes riding in the traffic lanes, and no rain. It was a good trip.

Tomorrow we visit the Ortho clinic at Good Sam for the next phase of solutions and recovery.

Hope everyone has a stellar day. Now I’m off to take Uncle Bill to the outer reaches of Hillsboro to retrieve his ancient (35 years old) John Deere Edger.

Nuts, Bolts, and a Mower Engine

Just checking in to calm those who may have been concerned about my health and welfare after that marathon run to Bremerton a couple of days ago. I’m just fine. For those of you who may not be concerned about my health and welfare, for any reason, that’s OK. Lots of times I’m not concerned about my health and welfare, either which usually ends in a trip to the emergency room for stitches. You would think it’s because I’m careless, which is definitely a contributing factor, but the main reason for my accidents is because I’m concerned about your health and welfare all the time.

It’s distracting.

Makes me lose focus.

You’d think I’d learn, right? Especially after all those lectures I get about being more careful. Oh well, I generally mend OK and the many scars I have are like the rocks I pick up on the beach. I know what I was doing when I got it, and where I was at the time. They are memories.

Now I’m happy to share the good news that I’ve successfully earned the right to call myself a Small Engine Repair Guy (SERG). Remember that mower engine I tore apart last week? Well, today I got it all back together, didn’t have any engine parts left over, and it runs like new. I’m so happy! There’s more to this story, of course, and it’s another one of those frustrating trips, but the end result was worth it.

It all started yesterday morning when I took Diane’s truck to Emmert Motors to discover why the backup lights are always on. I may have mentioned that I semi-resolved the problem by taking the backup light bulbs out. It was tempting to just leave it at that and not bother taking the truck in for a checkup. There was always the chance of a more serious underlying issue, however, so I drug myself off the couch at 0745 so I could honor the 0800 appointment.

I checked in with Tom, gave him the keys and the backup light bulbs, then went to talk with Steve for a while. I always do that when I visit Emmert, visit with Steve. Sometimes I go there just to visit with Steve. He’s my favorite car salesman and he always has candy on his desk. After a short visit I went to the lounge area and fiddled with my iPad until Tom appeared and asked me to follow him. I did.

He took me to the garage and demonstrated for me that the backup lights were functioning just fine. He believed me that they were on for 2-3 days, like I reported, but they were working fine now. He just said to bring it back if it happened again, preferably during the failure. So, apparently I fixed it by taking the bulbs out. Go figure. But, we’re keeping an eye on those things, believe me.

After that morning trip, I returned home and at a sandwich in preparation for tackling the lawn mower engine. Diane insisted. She was preparing for her trip to the court house to finish ups some community service she was assigned. No, wait. That was a couple of weeks ago. She finished her community service. She was going down to join her friends on the counting board for the current ballot.  Yeah! That’s it!

After the sandwich I attired myself in some of my better dirty work clothes and made my way to the church. It was raining more than not, so I was planning on getting wet because the lawn mower is stored in a small shed with no room to work on anything. As it turned out, though, the sun shined most of the time which allowed me to sit in the wet grass to do the majority of my work which was to put everything back together.

I got busy by first scraping off the old crank case gasket using a starter shim I happened to have from the last time I installed a starter on the old ’68 Chevy truck. I meant to take a chisel or knife, but forgot, but the shim seemed to work just fine. Just took a while. Made my hands sore, too.

Then I cleaned up all the parts as best I could, considering the circumstances, and went about the process of discovering where all the parts, bolts, and screws went. That really wasn’t a huge challenge because all you have to do is match up bolts to the holes they fit in. For instance, there were 10 bolts holding the crank case together and they were long ones. They wouldn’t fit anywhere else. This was pretty much true for the entire reassembly process. The tricky part was the new cam shaft which required me to match two little dots together on the cam gear, and the shaft gear. It took a while, but I did it. It just didn’t happen as easily as I had anticipated. From the YouTube video I watched it seemed to be pretty simple.

When the last bolt was tightened, I set the engine in the proper place on the mower frame and manually turned engine over to see what happened. No way was I going to try it with the starter first. No sir! Good thing I did, too, because it spun around nicely for about 1.5 rotations then went “clunk” and stopped. Turning it backwards the same distance produced the same result. So, I figured I must have missed the mark when lining up those two dots. However, I’d had about enough small engine exercise by that time, called it quits and went home.

I was only on the couch for a short time, recovering, before Diane returned home, released from the Counting Board for good behavior. We went through what has become a daily routine of “what do you want to eat,” and “I don’t care,” then Diane got a couple of egg rolls and some rice. She suggested that I eat the last Kung Pao TV dinner, which I did, along with a couple of egg rolls of my own. We have a large box of them in the freezer. It only takes 3.5 minutes for heat a couple of them up. It’s 4 minutes for the TV dinner.

This morning I got up with that stupid mower engine buzzing around in my head, mentally preparing myself for the necessity of dismantling it again to see what I did wrong.

As I was pulling the mower out of its little garage, it started pouring rain so I just picked up the engine and carried it into the mower space and went to work.

I took out all the bolts, removed the crank case cover and stared intently at the new gear I’d installed yesterday with great care. It only took me about 30 seconds to see that I’d not matched the cam gear dot with the crank shaft gear dot, but with a gear on the crank shaft that was just different that all the others. About 20 teeth around the corner was the little dot I’d missed. I firmly believe that the folks who build Briggs & Stratton engines make their crank shaft gears like that just to fool folks like me with the intent of getting them to try cranking it with the starter before checking to see that it works. Well, I previously proved that I didn’t fall for that tactic. No sir! No, I didn’t get it right the first time, but I didn’t break anything, either. All I wasted was a little time.

I released the rocker arms from the cam shaft push rods, turned the engine to the spot where the dots would line up, slipped the cam shaft into place just as easily as the guy on YouTube did in his video. The crank shaft cover went on just as easily, like the video, and things just fell into place. All those bolts and nuts went back like I had been doing this kind of work for years. Once together, the engine turned freely, as it should. The little rocker arms danced up and down just perfect, the carburetor almost attached itself, as did the exhaust pipe. When I looked around my work space, there was only one piece left, an odd looking bent wire thing that I hadn’t removed. It had fallen off something when I took the engine apart and I had no idea if it was even part of the process because I’d just found it laying in the lawn.

I had a feeling it belonged somewhere around the carburetor and studied that area for a long time before giving up, cleaning up, and driving to the Scappoose Sears store to look at the new mowers and see if I could find something similar on them. No one questioned me as I wandered around the dozen or so mowers on display, lifting the hoods and staring intently at the  engines. I can only surmise that they didn’t want to take a chance they’d have to talk with me because I was pretty ratty looking, even though I had arrived in a pretty nifty little car.

This investigative effort proved to be a waste of time so I went back to the church and dialed up Bing to see what I could find.

Finally, I found a reference that gave me the answer. The left-over piece was the part that chokes the engine when the accelerator lever is pushed to the maximum level. So simple. Well, now I know and think I could repeat this job quite easily, without YouTube, in a fraction of the time I’d spent learning.

Once the engine was together, I bolted it to the frame, installed the pulleys, connected all the wires, and whatnot, then sat in the seat. I didn’t try starting it right away, but just sat there a bit, resting. Actually, I was casting good mojo at the engine, willing it to turn over and run. Apparently mojo works because when I turned the key it fired right up and ran like a top. I only let it run for a few seconds before realizing that I’d failed (again) to replace that 48 ounces of oil I’d drained from the engine at the start of this process.

Withe new oil installed, I started it, and ran around in circles in the little yard next to the shed before putting it all away. There would have been more circles, but it was raining pretty hard.

I’d done it! I fixed the mower! The small engine repair guy said he could do it in 5 hours, at $80 an hours, plus parts which I paid about $80 for. So I saved the church $400, minimum. All it cost me, in addition to those parts, was some of my time.

To put that in perspective, considering I was making about $40 an hour when I retired the second time, had I been charging for time it would have cost the church about $480 in time plus parts.

Good thing my time is free, right?

In my eyes, that time was well spent because I’d learned a new skill. I’ve busted a lot of those little engines over the years, but had never been compelled to tear one apart to see what makes them tick. That’s odd, too, because I generally tear everything apart right away to see what’s inside, but not engines. Turns out they are actually pretty simple and made me realize that had I been a little braver, or inquisitive, I could have saved a lot of money over the years by fixing those things instead of replacing them.

Now I’m a mechanic. Really, I am. Once my hands heal up, and my sore muscles go away, I’m pretty confident I can talk someone through this process should the need arise.

All that’s missing is the hood. It’s all good.

Maybe I’ll go find my Bubba Teeth and make my own video.

To the Moon and back, Part dos

Yesterday I believe I was in the middle of a narrative about going to the Moon. Well, not really the moon, because I really don’t know where we went and there was never a moon view from the only window to which I had access. Nope, I was sequestered in what I believe was a small portion of a very large facility that’s located on the dark side of the Moon so all visual reference was forever aimed at deep space. That’s a guess, of course. Then again, they could have taken me to another galaxy, far, far away because they were able to fool the laws of physics, as we understand them, and take advantage of folds in space about which much is speculated on Earth. But, if I was on the moon I would weigh less, right? I didn’t feel lighter so I probably really wasn’t on the moon.

Right after discovering my speculation about my location I suffered a period of unconsciousness of unknown duration. It could have been seconds, days, or weeks. Probably weeks because I felt nicely rested when I woke up. Perhaps I just had a nap. One of those dreamless ones. That happens sometimes but is only a problem when I’m driving. I knew I was in a different location because the furnishings had changed from lite modern to country sheik.

This afternoon Ringo came to my room and told me that I was still on Earth at their facility that’s located in a hidden storeroom in the back of the new Bi Mart in Scappoose. Lot’s of folks wondered how Scappoose wound up with a Bi Mart so close to Fred Meyers. Now we know. Aliens built it. Through the small window mounted high on the wall all I could see was sky so I had to take Ringo’s word for it. He went on to explain that the reason we were at Bi Mart was because they have the parts needed to repair the damage George did to the landing craft, but it was on back order and wouldn’t be available for 3 weeks. That’s how long it takes for them to get resupplied from their Moon base. So, I was stuck in Bi-Mart for the next three weeks. To make up for the delay, Ringo gave me a stack of coupons I could use in the store when they finally released me. I thought that was pretty nice of him at the time but later learned that everyone in town received those same coupons in the mail on a regular basis.

I think I left off yesterday where I was just becoming aware of ‘things’ when Brucette stepped out of the shower. Considering the nature of Brucette’s skill and training, I suspect more than one of you were intrigued at the mental vision this may have created. Well, it’s not what you think. You see, these folks don’t really shower. When they get dirty they just shed their skin, like a snake, and keep on keeping on. Using the shower is a handy way to get rid of the evidence because all the discarded skin is water-soluble and easily washed down the drain. Because of this, you’d think water is very dangerous for them and make them melt. Not the case at all. The water merely removes the first layer of skin, of which they have about 128 layers that keep replenishing themselves. So, though Brucette was indeed naked her fake beauty was overshadowed by the bis of still dissolving skin clinging to her torso. If she’d stayed in the shower a bit longer I suspect they would have all gone away but apparently she was in a hurry. It wasn’t one of those ‘sights for sore eyes’, believe me.

The next time I woke up, not knowing that I had fallen asleep, I was laying on an exam table, just like the one they use on the Mother Ship. As I pondered my situation I became aware of a lightness making me think I was no longer on Earth. This was verified with Elton appeared with that big shiny reflector strapped around his head like doctors used before good flashlights were created. You know, it has a hole in the middle of it through which the doc looked while directing the reflected light on what he was looking at.

One of these …

th-1 unknownth-2th-3

Elton didn’t really need it because they actually have state of the art lighting on the Mother Ship. He wears it as a fashion statement and, I think, as an attempt to put me at ease because he’s acting like a doctor. I know better because I’ve been here before. Many times over the past 52 years. I didn’t understand why they kept taking me over and over, doing the same tests, looking at all the same parts, over and over. Turns out that everyone on Earth is assigned a number and they select abductees based on a random draw and my number just keeps coming up.

“Once someone is selected to be abducted, why not leave their number out of the pool for the next drawings?” I asked during one abduction.

“Well,” said Elton, “you see, we are from Uranus and our rues are very strict about how abductees are selected. The numbers aren’t really drawn from a hat like we told you before. We use a computer to make the selection. Since you are just a number on a monitor we can’t very well remove the number. It’s always there. You could, conceivably, be selected numerous times in a row but the chances of that happening are astronomical.”

That’s actually the most words I ever heard come out of Elton’s mouth. Yes, they have mouths. They actually look just like us but learning that they originate from Uranus might make you wonder.  I was stunned because I had no idea that Elton could verbalize a coherent thought. During all previous visits all he did was issue commands to me like, ‘turn your head and cough’, ‘stick out your tongue’, ‘squeeze my fingers as hard as you can’, ‘turn to the right’, ‘stand on one leg and hop’, routine stuff like that. I just figured he was giving me a physical like they do in schools to make sure you can play sports without dying.

“Why do you do the same tests on me? Don’t you have the results from the last time?” I asked.

“We have protocols,” is all he said. Protocols. Right. Time tested protocols. Just like that guy you call for help troubleshooting your new computer because it won’t do something it’s supposed to and he (always a He) starts reading to you the protocol he’s supposed to use to determine the cause of the problem. He must go through every step on his guide even though you’ve already told him that the video card is smoked. No, he’s got to test everything before he can authorize shipment of the replacement part. After two hours he determines that the video card is bad and arranges to ship a new one. That’s a hypothetical example, or course.

So, I once again endured the protocols after which I was given an injection. They’d never done that before so I had to ask, “what’s that for?”

“Oh, there’s a bug going around up here,” said Elton, “and we don’t want to contaminate the humans.” Then he asked if I was allergic to eggs or egg products.

Just for fun I said, “Yes. Yes I am.”

“That’s OK because there’s nothing in the shot related to eggs of any type.”

“Then why did you ask?”

“Protocol,” he said.

“You’ll be transported back to Earth shortly. Do you have to use the bathroom?”

“No,” I replied, “but I’d like to look around a little if it’s OK.”

“Sure,” he said. “Just don’t open any of the doors that have large red ‘X’s’ on them.”

So, I got up and wandered around the room and found three doors, two of which had the red ‘X’s’ on them. The third one had a happy face on it and looked promising. So I approached it and looked all over for some sort of knob that may open it. Behind me I heard Elton say, “Push on the door to open it.” I did that and, hey!, it popped right open just like one of those cupboard doors that have magnetic spring locks.

Behind the door was rod from which hung all of Elton’s clothes. Apparently it was a closet. Behind me I heard laughing as he enjoyed his little joke. That made me a bit angry so I turned and rushed to one of the ‘X’ marked doors with the intention of pushing on it but stopped short when I heard Elton yell out, “Noooooooo!”

Then I woke up fully clothed in my bed. At home. Mom was standing over me, wide-eyed, asking me if I was OK. It was really nice that Mom was there but a little odd, too, because Mom died in 2001.

“Crap.” I thought. “Elton sent me to the wrong reality, again.” He’s done that before. Probably on purpose. I’m sure it wasn’t protocol. Now I had to find out where Ringo lived in this reality so he could help send me back the proper reality. For the moment, though, I just said, “Hi, Mom,” and gave her a big hug. I haven’t had one of those in a long time.

Maybe I was just dreaming.

Diane’s fixing to take her Mom, Jean, shopping. That means I’ll be left unsupervised for a few hours so I’m going to the basement to play with some of my power tools. I do that when she leaves because her parting words when leaving me alone are, “don’t use any tools that plug into the wall!” It’s a warning and I know, but I prefer to take it as a challenge. It doesn’t always work out well for me but today I need to be really careful because I won’t have transportation to get me to the emergency room. I’ve driven myself there a few times and I always get into trouble for it. It’s just my renegade nature, I suspect.

Ciao.

Things & Stuff

Lots of Things and Stuff have happened and transpired over the last 10 days. Thankfully, Diane keeps good track of what’s going on by making sure everything is on our shared calendar. Even little things like “Jerrie take pills”. That’s an important one because, alas, I sometimes forget. I’m sure that’s a surprise to most of you, but I really do. Even when my overflowing pill case is sitting right in front of my keyboard all the time.

Using the calendar, I’m going to try something different and go in order. Doing that won’t, however, deter me from wandering off the beaten path once in a while to fill in where things need to be filled in.

First, Donna, Mother of Steffani, Wife of Jim, Husband of Bob, and Grandmother of Daniel, Tyler, and Maryssa, had a birthday on January 26th. I may have mentioned this before, but don’t feel like looking back in my posts. Jim thinks she only 58 but he’s like one of those records that keep skipping back, repeating the same verses over and over, and you have to bump it to make it continue. Since I’m not there to do that, he’s stuck on 58. I’m sure she’s at least 62 because I’m pretty sure she’s drawing Social Security now. This will be a shock to him, I’m sure, but he can take. Learning about that extra income will perk him up.

Reaching back into my ancient bag of IT tricks I was able to resurrect the Windows XP computer that belongs to my friend, Jeri. Now, getting an XP computer to function isn’t really as difficult as you might think because it is, after all, just a silly computer. The difference is that it hasn’t received any updates from Microsoft for a few years, and internet security has been absent for nearly as long. That would make one who does online finances a little jittery which is why I was summoned. It’s tax time, you know. Well, it’s almost tax time. That will be on April 17th this year since Jim’s birthday in on Saturday. He was born on the normal tax day. That’s April 15th, in case you were wondering. Jim will be 80 on that day. OK, now I’m feeling old …

Getting that old computer to respond was awesome and I left feeling pretty good about myself. Not bad for an IT guy who was dubbed “Mr. 286” at the peak of his career.

Next we have the Bethany Lutheran Church Annual Meeting. That happens once a year. That’s why I added “Annual” in there. This is the meeting where our Church Council, and Cemetery Board reveal all the secret stuff about their respective areas of church activity that they’ve kept secret all year. It’s all the time when new council members are elected. I may have mentioned in previous posts that I’ve served on the council for many years – about 15 I think – and have only been absent for one year. Sadly, that made me eligible to be nominated for another turn at the oars. Like normal, I accepted, as did Nancy, Shawn, and Randy. Nancy has been absent from council for a number of years, but Shawn and Randy have never served. So, we have new blood to spill. Our first meeting is February 15th. Until then I really have nothing worthy to say about this recurring aspect of my life.

I made a trip to the ENT Clinic at Good Sam Hospital in Portland and was quickly referred to the Vestibular Clinic to see what makes Jerrie almost fall down sometimes. Hopefully it’s not a vestibular schwannoma. That would be terrible. I think. I’m curious to find out. I was told the first visit will last 2.5 hours. Part of that time, I suspect, will be helping me off the floor while doing some of those fast turn exercises that led me to this point in the first place. That, and running into an occasional wall. Nothing major, just little mishaps that do not cause severe injury. Just a few nicks and dings that are quickly forgotten.

Then I went to OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) which is located on Pill Hill next to the VA Medical Center and Doernbecher Children’s’ Hospital. Actually, Doernbecher is a OHSU facility. It’s complicated. Here’s what the entire mess looks like from a helicopter.

ohsu_arial_61411_1

If you don’t have a helicopter, you can take the tram that launches from the banks of the Willamette River. The tram looks like fun to me, but Diane won’t ride it.

tram

Our trip to OHSU was to, once again, participate in an intake process for a Diabetes Study for folks who are taking Metformin and whose A1C is above 6.8. I qualified because I take metformin and my last A1C was 7.4. So, I was looking at getting $10 a visit for the next 4 years. At the appointment I went through all the paperwork with Trish then she took some blood away from me while Brianna watched. Then I was released with the promise of a phone call the next day. Brianna called, as promised, and told me I didn’t qualify for the program because my A1C has mysteriously dropped to 6.2. This happened the last time I was interviewed for this program. So, I was out before I even got started and I had plans for that $10.

With that out of the way, I assisted Diane with some chores at our church to prepare it for their 37th Annual Quilt Show. That’s when all of the pews in the church are draped with elaborate quilts from all over the area as well as some antique quilts that have been in use for many, many years. It’s quit impressive and very beautiful. My job for this effort was to clean up the spots in the carpet where people always drop drips of wine with we have communion via intinction. We tell them to put their hand under the dipped wafer to avoid those drips, but not many listen. Thankfully I had a machine to help me and I’m happy to report that the carpet looks wonderful and will remain that way until we have communion again. The quilt show, in case you’re wondering, will be this coming Friday and Saturday, February 10-11, from 10am to 3pm both days. Downstairs there will be other displays, a bake sale, and sandwiches – egg salad and chicken salad. And pie. Lots of pies. Come and eat. It’s all good and it’s free unless you feel like donating to the jar located on each table. Donating is encouraged.

Another part I did was take photos of the Bethany Quilt Ladies who meet each Thursday morning and generally sit around drinking coffee and visiting, unless someone shows up, then they look busy. I don’t know how they do it, but they still manage to complete about 100 quilts for Lutheran World Relief every year. That’s amazing. This is, Right to Left, Vi, Pat, June, and some lady I’ve never met. Probably should have asked her name, huh? Diane said she is June’s niece.

img_1727 img_1737

One of those days I got another haircut. That’s two I’ve had in the last few weeks. It wasn’t so much that I needed one, but the barber, some of our Grandchildren’s Aunt, came to the house and I just couldn’t resist. Diane got a haircut, too. She looks great with her new do, like always.

Jeran went on a bona fide date last weekend to attend the Winter Ball. It’s mainly for Juniors at school so Lydia, a senior, help organize it. While we were at Diane’s Mom’s, Jean’s, house the group came by for a photo-op. Included was the Prince – not a Princess – which was a first for St. Helens High. A great group of kids on the way to having fun.

Jeran, Danielle, Lydia, Julianna, and Fiona.

img_1765

That brings us to yesterday when I escorted my adopted Grandson, Ahmed, to our Lions meeting where he gave an incredible presentation about Pakistan, his home country. He’s really good at it. I call him my Grandson because he calls me Grandpa. It works. He’s living with Dan, Jennie, Lydia, and Jeran while attending St. Helens High School this year as an AFS student. His adopted parents, and sister, also attended the presentation. Jeran stayed home and ate spaghetti.

Another highlite from last week is that Lydia was one of the three students selected as Student of the week at the High School. The other two were boys. She was the best looking one in the crowd.

Sadly, I failed to get photos of Ahmed’s presentation so the day ended in failure but this is what he looked like from the back … on the left …

img_0552

… and from the front … on the right …

img_0547

The other people in there you already know.

Diane was summoned to the Court House again this morning. She wasn’t there very long before they released her into my custody so now I must regroup and work on being responsible.