Veteran’s Day & Diane

Once again it’s 11/11 and time to thank a Vet.

Too bad some folks only do that once a year. Could be they only have that opportunity once a year. I know that I don’t do it every day, but I do it every time I see a vet. Most of them wear hats to advertise their military association so it’s a dead giveaway.

I’ve expanded my thanks to include all manner of public servants, in addition to military members, present and past. I think it’s only fair.

So, if you see some guy on your trip through Oregon, telling a Teacher, Nurse, Mother, Wife, Waiteperson, Cashier, Busboy, Policeman, Fireman, Garbage Man, Doctor, Phlebotomist, or Mailperson, “Thanks for your service,” it might be me.

I’ve found that teachers are especially surprised, and pleased, to get that kind of recognition from an old guy wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat. It’s very gratifying. You should try it.

Now I must share that my wife, Diane, who endured over 20 years as a Navy wife with me, is currently on a mission to get us a Papa Murphy’s pizza. She left me home, alone, in my pajamas. When I told her that I might just put on some outdoor clothes while she’s gone, she said, “Why?” For me, that’s pretty profound since she lived the military life for so long and endured the same deployments that I did.

She’s the best.

I’ll get the next pizza.

 

Eclipse Survivors, and Broken Body Parts

Just when Diane thought it was safe to go outside again, news of other Cate wives breaking bones started coming in. At this point in time we’re up to 4 – three arms and a foot, so far. Since Diane was the first to wreck herself, I suppose that kinda makes her a winner of sorts. Three of the breakee’s are wives to we three brothers and the fourth is the wife of a close cousin who is, essentially, a brother. Just before beginning this, I warned the one remaining sister-in-law about this apparently new tradition in our lives hoping that she might escape. All she needs to do is just sit quietly and have others wait on her hand and foot for the next 3 months and she should be safe. The problem with that, however, is that there’s no way she is going to sit quietly for any extended period. She’s just too busy. Getting waited on, I’m sure, she can manage for a long time. Hopefully she’ll see the danger in testing the tradition and be wary of everything.

Taking this a step further, and kind of stepping out on a very flimsy limb (literally), I’ve got to say that the Cate men must be more durable that the women who chose to share out name. Either more durable, or just not clumsy. No, that’s wrong. Can’t use clumsy because if I’m anything it’s clumsy. Really. Not a day goes by where I don’t add a nick or ding to my exterior, some of which require medical intervention to stop the bleeding and ensure I don’t acquire an incurable infection. You can ask Diane and she will totally agree with me. Yes, ask Diane, the one who broke her arm riding her bike.

I shouldn’t talk like that, I suspect, because the arm still bothers her. Mainly, I think, because her doctor told her to use it and to keep doing her PT exercises. She’s doing that. It won’t be long before she will be able to slug me full on with her left hand, but for now she must rely on her right one, holding her punches to ensure she doesn’t endure another injury in a vain attempt to dent this rock-hard body.

She doesn’t actually do that, of course. Just another lie. Also, the only part of me that’s rock hard is my head and she’d never hit me there because it might leave a mark.

On to more fun stuff, like the eclipse. It’s apparent that we survived since I’m sitting here but it was a close call. We got up early on the 21st and drove out to the south jetty of the Siuslaw River but figured we’d never be able to see anything because we could hardly see the road due to the seemingly ever-present coastal fog. For some reason we thought maybe it would go away, but it didn’t. So, we went east on Highway 126 out of Florence until we found a likely spot to park and watch the show. While getting set up a State Trooper stopped by to make sure we were OK and validated our choice for viewing the eclipse. We had Ziva, our dog, but forgot her leash — OK, I forgot her leash — and it was simply pure luck that the Trooper had one he’d found somewhere. He loaned it to us so we would be legal and asked that we just leave it hanging on the guard rail so he could pick it up later. We did that. Nice guy.

We sat there for the entire two-hour event and never once looked at the sun without using our eclipse glasses. Consequently, neither of us went blind. Ziva didn’t either because she’s smart enough to not look directly at the sun for any reason. Only people need to be told stuff like that. We were too far south to enjoy the totality zone, but it was still a good show.

All that made me tired so I’m going to bed now.

Fort Bragg to Eureka – Day 13

I had another title for this but decide it was really appropriate for one aspect of the trip. It was going to be “The Trip to Hell that ended in Eureka – Day 13”. The Hell part only related to the parts on Highway 101 where the highway maintenance department chose to ruin our day by closing down sections for hours at a time. Flaggers literally littered the highway making us stop for a time, then allowing us to drive by 200+ cars waiting in line to go the other direction, while all the workers just stood around doing apparently nothing. Oh, I know they were actually working at some point, but seems like they could at least look busy while all the cars were driving by. We did this about 5 times. The time lost caused us to reel back our chosen stopping point from Crescent City to Eureka. It’s a small difference, actually, but will serve to add another day to our projected return home.

Also, we had committed to stopping to enjoy the Redwoods, so we did it, causing further delays. Turns out it was perfectly OK. Here’s what we did …

First, Lydia drove all the way from Fort Bragg to Highway 101 and she did a terrific job. I sat in the back seat with Ceiarra and only almost got car sick once while trying to read a book. Highway 1 is incredibly curvy and narrow so it was a challenge for her. I shouldn’t have tried to read.

Just before Highway 1 hits Highway 101, there is a road that leads to the tree you can drive through. Actually, it was one of the two available in the Redwoods, but is now the only one because the other one fell over in a storm. We chose to forego driving the truck through the tree because, you know, why take a chance? That, and Lydia was driving. She wasn’t too keen about doing it.After looking around in the gift shop for a while, the girls wandered around the park and I found this nifty poem I thought you’d like. Perhaps some of you have had the pleasure of seeing this in person …

Being in a forest of redwood trees is very humbling. They are magnificent. Here in the park, however, you can climb in and on all that magnificence.

We searched for Diane in the likely spots near the gift shop, but the girls discovered her sitting on a bench, in the sun, gazing out over a pond behind the gift shop creating a perfect opportunity for a photo opportunity.

Then, Lydia spied a frog and the hunt was on. She gathered up as many as should could and came to show us. When she opened her hands up, they jumped everywhere like little springs.

Ceiarra did the same and lost all but one that stayed on her finger watching the world go by as she carried it around the field. Funny frog.

Then Lydia had one final trick before releasing the last two into the wild.

Then we were off to find the really big trees, which we did. They just kind of make you want to look up and admire them.

During one of the stops, they found a small stream and lots of rocks which captured their interest more than the trees. Lydia found room for the treasured rocks in the back of the truck.

Oh, yes, and here’s Sweet Lisa, our waitress from yesterday. She’s special to us.

That’s it for Day 13.

Chaos and My Brother

OK, folks. I just gotta tell ya that winter is getting old around here. We wound up with about 12 inches of snow a few days ago after multiple sub-freezing days, and it’s still here. This morning it was 12 degrees out there at 6 when my bladder alerted me to an urgent need. The dogs, of course, were rarin’ to go plow through the snow in search of critters that may have passed through the field during the night. The cat, however, doesn’t have any interest in going out to play in the snow. I don’t think she’s been outside for three days now. We think she’s kinda hibernating because she sleeps all day and all night and hardly eats, except for the residue from our yogurt cups. So, she’s ingesting only what she can use to ensure there’s no need to poop. Wish I could do that. Sleep all day, I mean.

Bottom line, this isn’t  very Oregon-like weather for our neck of the woods. Ya, I know … we don’t live in the woods, we live on the outskirts of town. I should have said that, “our neck of the outskirts of town,” I guess, but it just doesn’t have the same ring.

Twelve degrees! Maybe I should talk about something else.

Since most of my time has been spent inside I decided to tackle some inside projects that have been hanging around for a while. OK, for years. Considering my predilection for leaving tools in exactly the last spot I used them, it’s hard to find stuff sometimes. Well, like all the time, actually. I go in my shop and look around thinking that, “One day I’m going to straighten this all up.” Well, making a committment to work on finishing some projects makes it a necessity now.

The first thing I did was sit down and make a plan, listing all of the things that needed to happen to, say, saw a board in half. The ‘board’ in question is actually one of six I need to cut to finish the oak trim around the three windows we had Anderson install a couple of years ago. This is the lumber I have left to do them, but I need two 1×5 12′ boards for the big window. Ignore everything except the nicely stacked boards on the folding table up front.img_1553

Before looking for the boards, I had make room on the floor so I’d have a place to put all the stuff I’ve piled on the saw since the last time I used it for building Diane’s pantry drawers. That table saw will hold a lot of stuff.

The stuff on the floor included two or three Avon box lids full of all sorts of screws and bolts that I’ve not been able to part with over the years. I sat on the floor and went through them all, pulling out only the ones with phillips heads, or the shiny ones that need a flat blade driver. The rest I dumped into an empty Avon lid. The ones I kept went into a much smaller bucket. The assumption is that I’ll eventually find that bucket during the final stages of this cleanup.

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Then I removed everything from the work bench I started modifying in 2008. I removed the top boards, which weren’t fastened down, to eliminate that tempting horizontal surface. My original plan with that section of work bench was to make it as tall as the table saw, which it is, so I could use it as a outfeed extension of the saw. That would make sense if the bench wasn’t against the wall so now I’ve decided to lower it more and make it 29 inches high so I can sit at it and do stuff. That means I need to take it apart so I can trim off the excess. I’m talking about that thing in the back with the green paint on it. It used to be a ping-pong board.

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To trim off the excess means I need to unload the saw. To unload the saw I need more floor space, or another table, on which to stack it. Or, I can just add it to the other side of the work bench and no one will ever know.

Before I can use the saw I will need to remove all the excess stuff to Diane’s room so she can go through it to see if there’s anything of interest to her. She can’t do that right now because she’s busy going through old magazines so we can take them to recycle. She’s been doing that for about a week. There were lots of magazines but she’s done an excellent job and now there are just a few. I went through some of my magazines, too, and did purged most of them.

My ultimate goal for the work benches, both sides, is to build sliding draws, shallow ones, that will hold stuff I’ll actually use. That’s where most of the stuff in boxes on the floor is going to go.

Do you see this vicious circle I’ve created for myself? It’s just terrible, but I’ve made it work. I just want it to work better now that I’m more infirm and prone to dancing sideways once in a while. Extra stuff on the floor doesn’t help that at all. If I used my cane like my doctor ordered I would be better off, but that would leave me only one hand to stack stuff. Here’s some more chaos that I must deal with.

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Then, when all that has gone away, I must find time to do something with these old windows I salvaged from the old house we moved out of in 2007. Yeah, they’ve been in the basement that long.

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Yesterday Diane and I braved Highway 30 and drove to Portland to honor my appointment for a CT scan at Good Sam Hospital. It took us about an hour to get there, normal, and it wasn’t a terrible trip. Lots of ice on the road making it pretty lumpy. From the time we parked in front of the hospital until we were back in the truck was a total of about 20 minutes. The scan took about 2 minutes. The rest of the time was spent walking to the imaging desk, and checking in. The scan was ordered to see if there was anything in my head. I’ve had them before and, at that time, there wasn’t anything there. That should confirm what a lot of you may think about some of the things I do and say. Nothing there.

From Good Sam we headed to Hillsboro for breakfast at Elmer’s, then, thinking ahead, we went to Costco for toilet paper which we knew we’d need as soon as we got back home. The toilet paper and ‘other’ stuff only cost $400! It snowed at Costco, too.

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The trip home was tricky because Cornelius Pass is closed so road crews can remove all the trees that succumbed to the extra weight of snow and ice. That meant we had to take Highway 26, bad on a good day, all the way into town to hook up with I-405 then Highway 30. I was driving or I would have taken photos.

We stopped and visited Diane’s Mom, Jean, before going home to make sure she wasn’t out of food and that she was weathering the storm OK. She was, and she’s in good spirits. A tough Lady for sure.

By the time we got home the dogs had been alone for almost 8 hours, and the cat was sitting on the front porch. The cat was not a happy camper. We didn’t know she was out when we left. Maybe she’ll start checking in and out like the dogs do. They never get left outside.

When we got home Diane insisted that ‘we’ give Panzee a bath because she smells terrible. So we (I) took her to my shower because it’s got a low threshold so I didn’t have to pick her up, and it’s a confined space that she can’t escape from. It was touch and go for a while until she discovered that the warm water felt pretty good and rubbing the soap into her incredibly thick fur was pretty much like great massage. Then she relaxed and allowed me to rid her of much of the odor she carries arround with her. The only way to make it all go away is to shave her bald, but Diane won’t let me do that until spring.

Then I cut her toenails and made one of them bleed so much that I’m sure she now hates me. Once I feed her it will all be OK. I had to follow her around the house for about an hour wiping up bloody spots until it finally stopped. I felt pretty bad about it and will most definitely be more careful the next time. Please don’t turn me in to the ASPCA.

Now some good news about a bad thing regarding a topic about which very few of you are aware. My older brother, Jack, was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. How long ago, I do not know. I just knew something was different but it wasn’t something I was going to grill him about. That would have been counter productive, so when we talked I did my best to avoid negative issues. We talked and argued like we’ve always done.

After the initial diagnosis it’s my understanding that it was presumed that the cancer was in his bones and lymph nodes. With this news he and Wynette made their way south on a scheduled trip to Arizona to visit with their Grandson and their new Great Granddaughter Kelly. It’s my belief that nothing could have delayed that visit.

For some reason he recently had to get different health insurance. In order to get tests he needed he had to have diagnosis from an in plan doctor. So he started over with the preliminaries. Finally, last week, he had a bone density scan and a CT scan. The end result, after all that insurance company hassle, he was told his cancer is confined to his prostrate. Not in his bones. Not in his lymph nodes. We are all incredibly happy about those findings.

Yes, there are still mountains to climb on Jack’s journey, but with these recent findings his mountains just aren’t quite as steep, or tall. They’re manageable and he’s tough as nails. His family and friends will continue to pray for his health and understanding about what is going on in his life, and we plan on witnessing a miracle when it all just goes away.

Please join us in that effort.

Thanks.

Getting Back In The Routine

Considering what’s been going on for the last month or so, my tendency here is to start over and title this post Day 1 – … But that won’t work because it really isn’t Day 1. It’s more like Day 26,797, if you want to get right down to it. And right now, I feel every one of them. That’s because the dogs are back to dictating when I get up, not me. So, I’m tired and not thinking clearly.

That’s OK. Dogs gotta do what dogs gotta do and the dogs gotta wake me up so they can properly relieve themselves then get fed.

Today I attended an American Legion e-board meeting at 1100. Someone dubbed it the e-board meeting but it’s really an Executive Board Meeting. Calling it an e-board meeting makes it sound like something you’d do on the internet. Nope. Not the case. This is a meeting of all American Legion Post 42 officers of which I, surprisingly, am one. I’m the Sgt. At Arms.

I ate a BLT during the meeting so wasn’t able to pay much attention to what was going on so can’t really share any details with you. I’m sure you won’t have any problem with that.

It wasn’t a great BLT. I only ordered it because Doug got one and it looked pretty good. I should have ordered biscuits and gravy like Bill had. That actually looked better. But Doug’s choice swayed my thinking process.

Yesterday Diane and I took Jennie & Daniel’s foreign exchange student, Ahmed, who is from Pakistan, to a meeting of other mid-eastern students, so they could watch the presidential debates last night. After viewing a portion of the first debate, Diane and I excused ourselves and went to the Home Town Buffet for some dead chicken and shrimp. We wondered what the kids take away from the debate would be since Donald and Hillary just sling insults at one another, but heard last nights affair wasn’t as bad.

At Home Town Buffet we enjoyed a nice quiet meal, then just sat there for an extra hour snacking until it was time to pick up Ahmed.

On the way home we talked with Ahmed about the evening and what he thought. I wish I would remember what he told us, but that just isn’t coming through. One aspect of his personal interaction with St. Helens students had a more powerful impact, telling us how uninformed our local youth are regarding Ahmed and his part of the world. He said they stereotyped him with the wrong group by asking if he actually rode a camel to school. He found this funny because the person who asked him was sincere. Then, they were surprised that he had his own smart phone, like people from “that part of the world” are aware enough to have, much less use one.

That’s not the general consensus, of course, but having someone ask such questions and make those observations kinda makes you wonder just how aware students, in general, are about the mid-East.

There’s really nothing else to say so I’m going to bed.

G’nite.

Day 18 – A Day With Cedric

I’m writing this the day “after” instead of the day “of” so please forgive me if I get things out-of-order, or, God forbid, forget something. I might even spell something wrong. It could happen because I’m going to write in present tense, pretending it’s yesterday

The first order of business was to see about connecting with Cedric in person. So far we’ve only been texting while things get sorted out about whether or not he can leave his barracks with us. Since he’s still new to the Navy, and currently stationed on an Army base, Army rules apply and they require that their newbies obtain a Battle Buddy to move beyond the bounds of their barracks. The Buddy System. Makes sense. Cedric had a Buddy lined up for last Thursday so we could see him but that Buddy backed out. When Jennifer heard about this she told Cedric, “Remember that when he wants help.”

That’s my girl!

That put Thursday out of reach so we arranged to meet him at his barracks this morning so we could hang out with him at the picnic tables on the Navy side of his barracks which is shared with the Air Force.

When we arrived there were about 10 Air Force folks, men and women, performing yard maintenance all across the front of the building, which is very large, sending grass clipping odors our direction in such a manner that Diane found it hard to breath. So, she departed for the safety of the car until they were done. Before leaving I captured them.

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Cedric and I, who are not similarly affected by grass odors in such a manner, sat at a wobbly picnic table talking about his new life.

He said he actually liked Boot Camp better because it was a mindless (my word) existence that didn’t require decisions, just obedience. With the shift to Fort Lee he retained the obedience requirement, obtained more freedom, and was tasked with the added aspect of adopting unfamiliar Army regulations into his behavior pattern. I can understand his confusion.

We talked for about an hour during which time I learned a bit about how his daily life goes. He’s only been on the base for a week so really hasn’t had much time to assimilate. His school started on Monday and they already have them playing with knives, an unanticipated treat. And it wasn’t just a butter knife, but a really sharp one.

I learned that FC1 Clark is in charge of the Navy aspect of the barracks today. FC stands for Fire Control meaning his job is mainly on ships at sea dealing with guns and missiles. Being here, in this job, is a way for the Navy to give him a break from sea duty. Cedric calls him their baby sitter, which it is in a way. He approves all the standard requests for liberty so he’s an important person this day in the daily lives of the sailors in the barracks.

By now the lawn mowing had been terminated because lunch was looming on everyone’s radar. Food was becoming more and more important. Even our stomachs were beginning to sense the need for sustenance in order to make it through the afternoon to supper. So, Diane volunteered to make a run to Subway and bring it back for us to eat.

About that time FC1 Clark left the building on his way to lunch. He wasn’t gone long, and Diane was preparing to leave on her mission to obtain a sandwich when he returned. I stood by Diane, wishing her well on her quest as FC1 Clark exited his vehicle.

I timed my return to Cedric so it intersected with Petty Officer Clark’s trajectory so that I could thank him for his service, and to introduce myself. As I expected, he was a very congenial young man who was willing to explain the rules for Liberty Buddies for me. We just talked Navy, something I think he misses.

At this juncture I must profess that not once did I reveal my Navy rank in an attempt to coerce a desired answer to an unasked, but simply inferred request. That was, of course, was there any reason why I couldn’t be Cedric’s Liberty Buddy since we were not going to leave the base.We just wanted to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity to visit with Cedric.

He tipped his head to the side a little, pondering the situation, then he asked, “what’s his last name?”

“Walters,” I told him.

He turned, aiming his voice at the picnic table where Cedric sat and said, “Walters!’

Being attuned to the sound and tone of FC1 Clark’s voice Cedric jumped to attention and quickly assumed a familiar position in front him. I learned later that Cedric was seriously afraid that I’d said something to get him into trouble. Then FC1 Clark said, “go get that liberty request you filled out and bring it to the office.” Then he turned to look at me and said, “bring your Grandpa, too.”

Stunned, Cedric departed on his mission and returned shortly to escort me into the building.

The entrance is set up to mimic boarding and leaving a ship and proper decorum is maintained throughout the process – salute the flag, turn and salute the Petty Office Of the Watch (POOW) request permission to come aboard, permission granted, then proceed into the building. Very proper stuff.

At the office, Cedric stood to the side of the door, then knocked, asking permission to enter. I screwed that one up by just marching ahead of him into the office. Seeing my mistake, I backed out and let him go first. At the desk I signed him out and away we went to Pizza Hut.

Yes, we opted for Pizza Hut instead of Subway. It was a good choice. Lunch was really good. Turns out the Pizza Hut on base is typically populated by Army so we two sailors were pretty much a minority. It was fun to mingle with them and they were all very polite and respectful.

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From there Cedric opted to just hang out in our hotel room for the afternoon. The deal about being his Liberty Buddy was that I had to sign him back in prior to 2000. So, we made a pact to be back before 1930. During that time, Cedric did this …

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and thisimg_9798

Just hung out and watched a movie, ate popcorn, and visited.

Later we stopped by Subway to get Cedric a sandwich, then we stopped by his school on the way back to sign him in. I call it the Knowledge Distribution Center, or KDC since were in the land of acronyms once again.

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That ended the day.

It was a good one.

 

Dunsmuir to Naval Air Station Lemoore

The title is our current location, the one we attained on the long drive from Dunsmuir. Driving tasks were shared, which is new for our trips. We’ve established a new pattern where Diane starts us off, I drive the middle, and she ends it. Works just great. I drove for 2 hours and 4 minutes. She drove the other 5. Doesn’t seem fair, I know, but that’s way better than her driving all 7 of them, which she’s been known to do. It’s nice to know that she trusts me now.

While in Dunsmuir we had time to wander around a bit and learned that there’s way more to the place than the little bit one sees while flying by on the freeway. It’s an old town which we confirmed by visiting the local cemetery. We do that once in a while because we find it very interesting. I even took photos, like normal. The three headstones shown captured my interest the most. The first one because it’s a military stone commemorating a gentleman who was in the Indian Wars. Never seen one of those before. The older two were important to me because they were obviously hand-made and didn’t have dates. Just the names Pa and Ma Rafferty.

Then this church jumped up in front of us and demanded a photo of its own. Really nice stone work. Beautiful.

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One of the most anticipated portions of this trip was when we went by Shasta Lake. The last few times we’ve been this way, the lake has been nearly empty. We were happy to see that it was full, once again.

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I tried taking a photo when we crossed the bridge, but that didn’t work out very well. So, Diane drove down to the moorage on the other side, something we’ve never done before. It was good to see the recovery up close and personal.

Somewhere along the line, noonish I think, we stopped to eat brunch. I found a place using my iPad that looked promising and that’s where we went. It was a country-style place where everything is home-made on site. Nice. I think they shipped the eggs in from someplace because we couldn’t hear any chicken noises. Same for the bacon … no pig noises. There was, however, a cow out back. I think.

Anyway, we both had omelets and fried potatoes with non-noutrishonal white bread toast. It’s our favorite. While eating, Diane saw a guy digging around in the garbage for something to eat. Sitting there with a nice meal in front of us required that we take action. I went out and introduced myself and saw that he was articulate and didn’t appear to be incapacitated. I asked if I could buy him a meal and he said that would be great. I escorted him inside and turned him over to the hostess, then gave him $20 so he could get whatever he wanted. He chose to sit by himself and ordered a huge order of biscuits and gravy. Satisfied that he wasn’t going to bolt and spend the money on something less healthy, I left him alone. He said his name is John and he’s from Longview, Washington.

Figure the odds of that. We’re from St. Helens, Oregon, 800+ miles from home and John is from Longview which is only about 15 miles away from our home. Diane and I call these chance meetings “God Moments” because we feel we are led to moments in time where we have a chance to make a good decision. It’s gratifying to make the right one.

Getting John fed allowed me to return to Diane and enjoy my Denver omelet.

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And Diane got a good cup of coffee …

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Now we’re enjoying our stop at NAS Lemoore. When we arrived the fighter jets were landing and taking off, making lots of noise. That was going on when Diane called her Mom to relate our day. She had to stop a few times because she couldn’t hear and I asked if I should call the front desk and complain about the noise. She didn’t think it would be a good idea, considering where we were and all.

I could only agree. Then we ate soup and called it a night.