Hello 2018 !!

Happy New Year to everyone. I sincerely hope that those of you who celebrated last night did so safely and find yourselves fully functional this morning.

In our neighborhood, the last day of 2017 was sunny and beautiful. This first day of 2018 continues that trend while most of the remaining states are blanketed with terrible freezing weather. Especially hard hit are towns, villages, and cities on the eastern shores of the Great Lakes area. Lake effect snow is how they refer to the over abundance of snow created in this matter. Simply put, that’s when very cold air floats across the lake and sucks moisture from the water as it passes, and converts it to snow during the remainder of the transit across the water. Upon reaching land, the ground is significantly cooler than the water and the upward rush of air ceases allowing the newly formed snow to fall in massive quantities. It’s kinda like the clouds gorge on the water vapor which turns to snow during the digestive process and makes the clouds simply miserable as they inflate beyond comfortable limits. When they reach landfall, and the water vapor source ceases, the clouds promptly purge themselves of massive amounts of unwanted snow on unsuspecting areas in their path. It’s a vicious cycle and you’d think those who reside in the line of fire during these predictable events would find a reason to visit, say, Phoenix during those times. But, they don’t. They’re tough people up there and they all have snow blowers. Life is good.

We don’t have snow at our house. It was 29 degrees when I got up this morning, but the sky is clear and it actually looks like a good day to go golfing. We really did go golfing on January 1st a few years ago, when our bodies could tolerate cold weather in a more manly like manner. Those days are gone, however.

Today I take down the Christmas lights and our faithful snowman and Diane will also take down the tree. The tree is going to be really easy this year because it’s fake, only 4 feet tall, and already has lights attached. She’s planning to just drop a large garbage bag over it then have me traverse those 15 stairs to the basement with all the ornaments still attached. I’m pretty sure I can make that happen without medical intervention.

Now it’s time to continue the tradition of starting the year off with a clean slate. In order to do that I must scrub off the 2017 residue with a celebratory shower in the back yard with the dogs. They aren’t willing participants during this cold weather tradition but they need to be clean, too. Actually, they aren’t willing participants during warm weather, either. I, however, relish the feeling of icy water flowing down my back, soaking my speedo, and continuing on down my skinny legs to my feet where it runs off and melts the ice that’s still on the lawn. The first order of business is to get the dogs clean which is no small task. There’s a lot of commotion and Diane isn’t allowed to take photos. The neighbors, however, have no restrictions and line the lower fence hoping for a good shot worthy of YouTube. I’d share, but have never found one that I liked.

OK – that’s all a lie. No way am I wearing a speedo in the back yard even though the sun is shining brightly. And, once the dogs are out back, there’s no way I can catch them once they see the hose and realize what’s in their immediate future. So, that’s not going to happen either. Instead, I’ll begin the year as I always do by taking my January shower in a warm house with warm water. The dogs will get by for another year with an occasional squirt of Fabreeze.

Now it’s time for some football.

Diane and I wish all of you peace, happiness, and prosperity as we begin this new year. Be kind to others and help make the world a better place, no matter where you live.

People with Power, My Wet Lawn, and Dogs

Apparently there isn’t much news to report that doesn’t have something to do with sexual misconduct of politicians, TV personalities, or entertainers. It’s reported on so often and at such great length that both Diane and I are becoming immune to it. When it’s reported that another woman stepped forth accusing, say, Al Franken, of touching her a few years ago, Diane changes the channel. Neither of us view that as condoning the behavior but rather we’re tired of hearing about it.

This morning I was reading Bing News, which provides info from a variety of sources, and was treated to another repeat of the things Roy What’shisname, that ex-judge in Alabama, … Moore, that’s his name … and learned that it’s apparently OK to round up certain things to make the story more interesting, I guess. The article, by Marina Fang of the Huffington Post, reported that Roy has “… been accused of sexual misconduct by nearly 10 women, with several incidents allegedly occurring when the women were teenagers and he was in his early 30s.” Since Roy is now 70, I guess that means these alleged early events occurred nearly 40 years ago, or thereabouts. When reporting news like this I guess the Huffington Post editor is OK with reporters just getting close to the correct number of accusers. Using the ’round up/down’ rules I learned in school, the proper number could be any number between 6 and 14. That’s about 10, right?

Nearly 10? Really?

I may never read the Huffington Post again. Ever.

Actually, I will, and I’ll be looking for stuff like this and totally miss the point of the article, no matter what it’s about.

Now – about all this misconduct by all these people, all of a sudden. I think it started with Bill Cosby, one of the more notable offenders, and has recently created a kind of mob mentality that’s causing women to come forth with all these really old accusations. This is just my guess, or course. There’s safety in numbers and they’re finding it easier to share stories of their abuse. I get that. I have no doubt that this kind of behavior goes unreported all the time and I find it distressing for both the victims and the accused. There are people on both sides who don’t believe the other side. It seems the only resolution lies in the hands of lawyers who are allowed to warp the truth, for either side, in defense of their clients.

OK. As I’ve got into that dissertation and struggled to find a way out of it and then it turned into a lawyer “thing”.

Sorry I went down that road and hope I didn’t offend anyone in the process. Just so you know, I tend to believe the women in nearly all of these accusations because I’m a guy. I actually know how easy it is to offend people – men and women. In all cases, when I’m made aware that I’ve done something inappropriate, like reach out to tap a lady on the shoulder to get her attention and she turns just in time for me to touch her breast. It wasn’t my intention, but it happened. I snap my hands back to my chest and apologize. That’s simple, right? My most mortifying moment of inappropriate touching happened when I was walking with a co-worker in Portland. I was a little bit ahead of her at a crossing and started to move when a car came around the corner with no intention of stopping. Like my Mom used to do, I put my right arm out to block this person’s progress so she wouldn’t get splattered on the road. She stopped and I held my hand in place until the car had passed and I decided that I had apparently missed her arm and had my hand planted firmly on her left breast. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that it didn’t feel like an arm should. To confirm this, I looked at my hand, then into her eyes, and snapped my hand back out of her space. I apologized and we continued on. It never happened again and I’m confident to this day, maybe 20 years later, that had we been in that same situation later on, she would have been run over in the cross walk.

Not really. I would have stopped her somehow. Honest.

The problem with these folks in the news is I believe they do stuff like this with intent, not accidentally, and they do it repeatedly because they are in positions of power over their victims. This is an opinion but I’m sure it’s true.

Done with that.

So, it’s been raining like crazy since August and all the grass that withered in the 90+ days of sunshine has found new life. Too bad I can’t mow it.

Gotta stop and go brush the dogs. One of them doesn’t like it so wish me luck.

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.