Happy Columbus Day

Today in Myrtle Beach we had a brief scare in the morning. There was evidence that it rained during the night because the railings on our balcony were dripping wet and there were dark angry clouds covered the sky, hiding the sun. It made one wonder what the day held in store for us.

Turns out there was a sunny day hiding from us. It finally made its appearance late in the morning when we were at Wal*Mart obtaining provisions that are to sustain us for the remainder of the week. We hope. If the weather turns nasty, like we’re told it will tomorrow night. We’re talking thunderstorms by midnight. But, that leaves the entire day open for opportunity. We’ve already decided that we’re going to walk 5,000 steps north on the beach then turn around and return to our room to cook something. Maybe we’ll have a tuna sandwich.

That’s what’s left. We ate the steak this afternoon.

I think there’re a couple cans of soup, too. And crackers and cheese. We’ll make it stretch to the weekend.

Shopping at Wal*Mart wore us out. That’s why we ate the steak when we got back to the condo. Then it was touch and go for a bit while we contemplated the benefits of a nap over actually doing something.

We determined that it wasn’t the right time for a nap so we went outside and sat on the beach for a while. Diane spied an umbrella with two empty beach chairs under it so we headed for them. When we got there the “For Rent” sign on one of the chairs was a little upsetting because I didn’t think we would be comfortable in one chair so I let Diane sit while I wandered around on the beach and took a couple of photos.

Now the truth – the For Rent sign on the chair indicated we should see the lifeguard. Looking around there wasn’t a lifeguard in sight so we sat down and enjoyed the view, the breeze, and the silence for just a moment before a lifeguard showed up as if he was waiting for someone to sit down.

I asked him what the deal was with renting and learned that the two chairs and umbrella cost $35 for the day, from 9am to 4:30pm. He added that since it was 4:30 it was OK if we just sat there till 5pm and he’d only charge us $5. Apparently $20 is the suggested price. I forked over a $5 and we just sat there enjoying the warm breeze and the sound of the ocean. For some reason the Atlantic Ocean sounds different than the Pacific Ocean. I think it’s because the Atlantic is quiet. The Pacific is much noisier as the waves crash with with more energy. However, if that were the case, you’d think the Pacific would be warmer from the friction of the crashing, but I guess it doesn’t work that way. The Atlantic is warm and quiet here.

We returned to our assigned perch on the 17th floor and nibbled on stuff until it got dark and the moon came out. It’s a full one today and we weren’t sure we’d be able to see it this evening. But, we did see it and it was wonderful.

Can you hear me now?

Just a short snippet to share an interesting (to me) interaction between my fashion-conscious bride and myself as she was preparing to drive herself to an unplanned doctor’s appointment.

Diane has been suffering from what we thought was a bad cold which originated on Maui at “The Wedding”. It started with a severe allergic reaction to a fancy drink with tiny flower petals sprinkled on top. That seemed to clear up and lasted about as long as the flight home then the cold struck with a vengeance.

Last Thursday morning Diane emerged from the bedroom about 9 am with the new that she had an 11:40 am doctor appointment which she made because she was deaf in her right ear when she woke up.

OK. Two things really got my attention right then … Deaf in her right ear, and Doctor appointment at 11:40 am.

Deaf is serious because I’m pretty sure she wasn’t that way when we retired for the evening. At least no complaint was issued. But, then, she doesn’t complain about aches, pains, and other maladies. Then to say she had an appointment with her doctor in just two hours was incredible. That NEVER happens because doctors are usually booked out for a couple of months. Turns out the appointment wasn’t with her PC, but with another doctor in the practice who had just had a cancellation. Had that not happened her next appointment was in November.

With two hours to go, one of which would be used up with travel to Portland, Diane took a shower leaving me alone to contemplate my future with a half-deaf spouse, something I had never considered a possibility. While she showered, I got a little spruced up myself because she wasn’t going alone. You see, getting to Portland requires that we transit through Scappoose when our favorite bagel shop lives and I KNEW she was going to stop there. That wasn’t the only reason I was going with her, but it was a good one.

When she emerged, dressed and ready to go in a nice pair of grey pants, a matching grey sweater, and a pretty blouse. Since she’s color blind she relies on my to reveal the color of her clothing when she isn’t sure and I almost always tell her the truth. Sometimes it’s fun to send her off on a mission somewhere in a blue ensemble with brown socks, but that hardly ever happens. Any more anyway.

This time she wanted to know if her blouse was black or blue or grey. It was black and grey and matched perfectly and I told her so. No way was I going to send her out of the house in something that didn’t match. She looked great, of course.

As I knew she would, she pulled into a parking spot at the Scappoose Bagel shop and I dutifully went in a ordered her favorite – cinnamon-raison, split, toasted, and schmeered with generic cream cheese. I only get plain bagels.

She donned her car-bib (yes, we have those) and once back on the highway I handed her half of her bagel. She munched her way through the first half, and half of the second half before handing it to me stating, “I’m tired of chewing.”

I still had a few bites left of my second half but decided I wasn’t going to let a Scappoose Bagel go to waste and finished it for her. She was concerned that I might catch whatever she had but, since she was driving, she couldn’t stop me. It was a bit chewy, but not as bad as I thought it would be. Thankfully, I had the remainder of my bagel to satisfy my taste buds.

We got to the doctor’s office in plenty of time and she was quickly summoned while I lounged in the waiting room. She wasn’t gone long and we were quickly on our way back home. During the walk to the car she revealed that her right ear drum was perforated, she had infection in both ears, and the inside of her nose and throat had the appearance of someone experiencing an allergic reaction. So, the Maui Allergy attack manifested into a hearing loss. Amazing. That’s speculation, of course, but the only common theme so we went with it.

The doc prescribed prednisone, antibiotics, and Sudafed to deal with her ailments. Sadly, they weren’t ready when we stopped by Rite Aid in St. Helens on the way home, but I gave it a while then went back for them.

All day yesterday she was in misery with ear pain and coughing/sneezing attacks but, despite a two hour afternoon nap, she went to bed at a reasonable time and slept through the night. This morning she awoke with no pain which was very good. Still deaf on the right side, but no pain.

Now she’s off to Fred Meyer to buy something for Gilligan who is 12 today. That’s another story to tell.

The thing about Diane’s malady is that she needs to heal enough to make another long airplane ride to South Carolina this coming Wednesday.

We have non-refundable tickets to Charleston and, by golly, she’s going.

Cheers.

I’m Listening

I’m listening to my lovely wife, Diane. She told me a couple days ago that I haven’t posted anything during the month of July. I checked and, by golly, she’s absolutely correct. I haven’t. I can only attribute this lack of posting to old age or, perhaps I’ve simply used up most of the words available to me in a given period of time. I’ve heard that’s a ‘thing’. Diane has a cousin who, when she’s at a loss for words, says “…I must have used up all my nouns.”

Considering the amount of time that’s passed I’m pretty sure I can’t possibly remember things in proper sequence, if I can remember things at all, so I’m just going to ramble and see what happens. That way I can be just as surprised as you when something profound sneaks out.

Let’s see … on July 15th Jerrie Anne Diane Cate celebrated her 8th birthday which means the school district has no choice but to allow her to attend 3rd grade when school resumes in September. She’s pretty stoked about that. Matter of fact, she actually cried when the school year ended because she likes school that much. Her older sisters love school, too, so it’s apparently a genetic ‘thing’ that comes from their mother’s side of the family. I guess it could be from Diane, too, but it’s surely not from me. I was perfectly OK when summer showed up and I was still wearing little boy clothing.

Shortly after Jerrie’s birthday we fired up the bus and returned to Paradise Cove for a few days of R&R, by ourselves. You may recall we took The Littles there in June for about a week. We had big plans to spend a lot of time in the hot tub but I don’t remember doing that even one time. Instead we spent our time either sitting on or walking along one beach or another, watching the waves. The high light of the sitting part was when we parked ourselves on a tall dune above the remains of the Peter Iredale which has been a fixture on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park my entire life. We were there to watch the sunset and saw some whales playing along the shore spouting a few times, showing us their tails, then disappearing. It was pretty special which is good because the sun went behind some clouds and there was no proper sunset. It just got dark and chilly. Be we had whales!

We returned from that trip on Monday and had a few days days to recover, we thought, until Diane discovered that we had reservations at Big Eddy County Park near Vernonia on Wednesday. This was another trip with The Littles because it’s a yearly Family Camp for Jennie’s and Daniel’s church. We’re always invited and we almost always go because it’s great fun. The Littles went last year for the first time and loved it. They got to spend days, literally, in the Nehalem River, and they made lots of new friends. The great thing about this is that the church rents the entire park so the kids can be free to go wherever they want with no fear of something bad happening. They just had to check in with their home camp on a regular basis so we knew where they were and they could not venture into the river without adult supervision. All we adults had to do was sit around our campfires talking and eating snacks. Once in a while kids would show up and we’d have a meal. The big deal with food culminated in a dessert social where I cut Jerrie a piece of very rich chocolate cake that was far too large. She savored every morsel but wound up giving it all back, plus, later that evening. I suspect it tasted much better the first time it passed her lips. She recovered nicely the next day and was able to spend lots of time with her friend Lilly.

The bigger Littles (Gilligan & Baylee) put dozens of miles on bikes, riding all over the park with their friends. Most of the bike riders were careful but we had to be wary of the smaller ones with training wheels. They weren’t overly concerned about who was in front of them as they pedaled around, talking to whoever was riding next to them. Diane was almost run over many times because she either didn’t hear the rattle of those training wheels or she thought they actually knew about the rules when encountering old people. Like, don’t run into them. They tend to tip over and break things. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

I exercised our small little BBQ for one meal by cooking hamburger and chicken patties. I don’t use it often, and only clean it when I do figuring that whatever bad things may have grown on it since the last use would surely be consumed during the warm-up phase. It’s worked so far and has provided us with some tasty hotdogs with a hint of steak and old hamburgers. They are a culinary treat. Now that we’re home I’m reminded that I need to remove the 4 chicken patties I left on the BBQ when I put it back in the RV. I have no valid reason for doing that. It just seemed to be OK at the time. I can already hear Diane calling my name, in large capital letters — “JEROLD BRADLEY CATE” — when she reads this.

In case you’re wondering about the danger of little kids playing in the Nehalem River, fear not. It’s not a big river. It’s more like a large creek. And there are always lots of people around lounging on a variety of different kinds of floating devices. It’s pretty safe.

That’s about it for this time. Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

Let me tell you a story …

It’s a simple one and won’t take a lot of time unless I happen to recall more details as I progress. Sometimes that happens. I don’t know why, it just does.

In a nutshell, yesterday we went camping. Technically we’re camping right this very minute. Well, some of us are. Others are off gallivanting around Tillamook, eating ice cream, and whatnot, while Ziva and I stayed behind to guard the camp. Ok, it’s not really a camp. It’s an RV, and it has TV, but it will always be considered camping to us. As I type, I’m sitting in my outside chair that we specifically bought for camping, so, we’re camping.

The weather is awesome. A little overcast, but not chilly and there are peeks of blue sky all around so all this cloud cover is likely to burn off before the day gets much older. I don’t really care because if things change for the worse, Ziva and I will just go inside and take a nap.

Getting everything ready to go yesterday didn’t seem to be much of a problem. Everything we owned was loaded into the RV along with three fairly small children – Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie. And Ziva, our elderly dog.

While loading everything, Onie, Jeff & Heather’s dog, discovered that the cat was roaming around the RV and gave chase. It was furious for a short time, but Onie finally responded to everyone’s plea to cease and desist the chase. Breezie, the cat, ran under the RV and appeared to be safe so everyone took a deep breath and went about their assigned chores. It was pretty exciting for a short time.

Once loaded, Diane headed down to her Mom’s, Jean’s, house in the tow car for a chat while I and the children went to the local Chevron station to load up on some cheap diesel. We had to run the pump twice because the first time we got $1 off each gallon, thanks to Safeway points, so that first 25 gallons only cost $1.86 a gallon. The next 11 gallons were full price. They used to allow 35 gallons but I think they changed the rules yesterday morning because they knew I was going to pay them a visit. Figures.

Once we were properly topped off, I strapped myself into the pilot’s chair and prepared to leave the station. Right at that exact moment, I see Breezie walking away from the RV and behind another vehicle at the pump. I was able to get outside quick enough to snatch her and get her safely inside the rig. It’s simply a miracle that I was looking in the spot she chose to escape, or she would have been lost forever. The station is about a mile from home, on busy Highway 30, a place she’s never been.

So, when we showed up at Great Grandma’s house, everyone was surprised to see that Breezie was with us. It was pretty amazing. Thankfully, Jeff came down to help me connect the tow car for the trip and was able to drive her back home. He said she crawled into his lap for that short trip and was really happy to be home. It was pretty amazing.

Hooking up the tow car isn’t really a big deal if you know all the rules. Unlike the last trip, we remembered to install the safety cables. I removed the designated fuse before Diane left home so that was already done. The fuse powers up things that will drain the battery because the key needs to remain in the ACC position. That’s the part Jeff didn’t know about so he turned the key all the way off, locking the steering wheel. Consequently, when we turned corners everyone was asking, “What’s that noise?” I could see in the rearview that the front wheels weren’t tracking so the noise was me scraping a bunch of miles off the front tires with every turn.

We hadn’t gone far so I pulled off the highway and I fixed that little error. Then, after turning the next corner, the car began wobbling back and forth for some reason which required another stop for investigation. Jeff came back and helped with that while we were parked in front of Daniel and Jennifer’s house on Matzen Street. They live about a mile from us, so we were setting a record for not getting out of town in a reasonable amount of time. The goal was to be gone around noon-ish. At this time we’re approaching 2 pm, way beyond the limits we normally observe. Had it been only 1 pm it would have been OK.

The only thing I could figure that was wrong with the connect between car and RV was that the tow bar didn’t latch properly, even though it appear to be OK. So, I disconnect the tow bar from the RV and ensured that the latches worked, then released both sides while Jeff maneuvered the car so I could set the hitch on the ball and lock it in place. Then I had him put the car in reverse and give it a bunch of gas to yank the hitch hard enough to make it latch on both sides. Actually, I had him slowly back up to apply enough tension to make them latch. Then I showed him the need for leaving the ignition on, so the steering wheel worked.

There were some other tests in there, one of which involved Jeff riding in the tow car while I towed it around the block a couple of times. He said it was pretty freaky doing that.

The last fix resolved the wobble problem and we hit the road for real. The destination was Paradise Cove in Wheeler, Oregon on Nehalem Bay. During that trip I heard a lot of suggestions that maybe I should slow down a little on the corners because the road was narrow. It really wasn’t, and I was really going the speed limit (most of the time), but I slowed down anyway. It was, after all, 4 to 1 against me as to who was actually correct. Didn’t matter that I was in charge of the steering wheel.

Women …

We arrived safely, in spite of my errant driving tactics, and found a likely spot with the required southern exposure needed for the satellite receiver. Gotta have TV or it’s just a wasted trip, you know. Once the car was relieved of the tow bar everyone, including Ziva, crammed themselves into the available seats and Diane drove us to Rockaway Beach so the Littles could run and jump in the ocean.

It didn’t matter that the sun was going down soon and everyone but them were wearing hoodies, they ran to the beach and immediately shed their candles and shorts, dropping them in the sand, then headed for the beach. It didn’t matter that the tide was out and the surf line was most of 1/4 mile away.

Diane said “I should have brought a bag,” which is code for, “please go back to the car and get a bag while I watch the girls.” It’s good that I know code. I got the back and loaded the clothes up then followed along. It was a long walk. Then, about the time I got there, it was determined that Ziva needed to go away from people to maybe relieve herself. She’s a little shy. So I walked her back to the rocks that protect the parking lot 1/4 mile away. She had a wonderful time sniffing pretty much everything in sight but didn’t seem to have any urgent needs to squat and pee. So, we walked back to the family. In all I walked most of a mile to do this. Now, that’s not a complaint, just a simple statement of fact. Really. That’s all.

Gilligan said we would never see her shiver and honored that claim. She said she was able to do that because the water was so cold it immediately froze her feet to the point where the water actually felt kinda warm. The other two agreed. I recall being that age … really, I do … and also had the ability to play in the freezing ocean just like that so I wasn’t surprised.

They romped for about an hour until we convinced them we should probably head back “home” and maybe eat something for dinner. Some of us were hungry.

We feasted on chicken noodle soup, the perfect meal for really cold people. Then we watched So You Think You Can Dance and went to bed. I got to sleep about 3 hours before a cramp in my right leg decided to get me up for a while. Everyone else woke up slowly, we had some breakfast, then Diane took the Littles to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, leaving me home to nap, read, walk, or whatever I wanted to do. It was OK with me. I stayed and kept Ziva company.

I got hungry a little while ago because they’ve been gone for a while and I know they’re eating lunch someplace. I probably should have had a PB&J sandwich but ate 5 pieces of licorice Jennie gave me for Father’s Day instead. I also had a couple handfuls of cashews to balance it off. Then Ziva and I went for a walk. I took a bottle of water and drank it on the way.

On the way back to the RV a car was leaving and stopped by me to talk. The gentleman began the conversation lamenting about all the things he volunteers for, the last of which is for the AcroCats. He’s apparently minding a 45 foot Prevost RV that he said is full of cages with trained cats that he looks after in this volunteer evolution. One got away and wouldn’t respond to the whistle they are trained to respond to at feeding time. He was a bit flustered and suggested that if anyone was in the mood to volunteer, he gladly let them have at it. I let him know I’d tell the cat lady I married about this opportunity. Here’s what he was guarding …

Then he left to go take a shower.

We spent time in the Wheeler pool and I was able to recreate a visit we had many years ago with the Walters’ Clan.

The original photo was of Jennie, Logan, Cedric, and Lydia doing the same jump. Fun stuff.

The remainder of our stay was just very relaxing interspersed with walks and lots of pool time. We went to the beach a few times, too, but there’s no need to bore you with photos of all that. I’ll just add a few more.

Weird Clouds

Tired Dog

Drying for the next trip

Breakfast

The trip home was uneventful except for two occasions where the tow car started wobbling very hard. The first time was while going down a hill into the Seaside area. The second time was while transiting the two very sharp turns when leaving Astoria. I was able to stop and get the tow bar latched both times but there’s obviously something wrong with that lash up.

Not far from home we encountered an accident that was in the process of being cleared to allow traffic to move on. It was an amusing spectacle watching the tow truck driver get his hitch thingy under the black pickup a few inches at a time. He’d move a bit, get out and go look under the truck, get back into the tow truck, move a few more inches, etc. until he finally had it where he wanted. Then he raised the trucks rear wheels and pulled it our of the way. It was amusing, also, to watch the policeman walking around with his vest on upside down. Kinda funny.

Diane brought a bottle of wine on the trip but didn’t have anything appropriate to pour it in until she went to Goodwill and found these crystal glasses.

The glasses and the case cost a whopping $4.00. What a deal.

That’s it for this trip.

Sciatica Deluxe, Beavers, Anniversarys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maryssa’s Graduation and Other Stuff

Diane’s Wandering Dog, Ziva, was delivered back to the house about 0900 this morning after visiting the neighborhood below us. When I answered the door, a lady in running gear was holding her collar and explained that she was on North Vernonia Road, a very busy place. The lady said Ziva was a sweetheart and turned to run up the street when she started talking to her so she followed her. When she got to our yard she sat down and waited for her. She knocked on the door to ensure this was indeed ‘home’ for her. Nice neighbor. I think the reason she turned for home is because I whistled for her. She always comes back to the whistle. Sometimes it takes a while. I suspect she’s just out looking for a better place to live. Maybe someplace where there’s an RV and a young family who would take her everywhere with them. We didn’t take her on our last trip so I suspect she’s miffed and letting us know.

Old oldest dog, Panzee, has apparently recovered from a terminal case of arthritis in her left hip. Just a couple of weeks ago she came up lame to the point where we thought it was time to visit the vet to see if it’s time to send her on her way. But, she never indicated that she was in pain so we left her alone and gave her Rimadyl (dog ibuprofen) twice a day. Expensive stuff – $2 a pill. But, she’s family, so it’s OK. Letting her work it out turned out to be the right thing to do because after nearly going to the Great Beyond, she managed to work out her kinks and is currently getting around with just a minor limp. Before, she could hardly put any weight on it. Now she runs like nothing’s wrong. Amazing. I believe she’s living proof that if you don’t move it, you lose it. Lots of times I wish I was as smart as our dogs. So does Diane. I think Diane thinks I’d be a lot less prone to injure myself if I didn’t have opposing thumbs. She tried to trick me one time by taping my thumbs to my hand when I was asleep. She said she just wanted to see if I noticed the difference but boy did I fool her. I figured it out right away when I went to the bathroom and discovered that I couldn’t rip off a piece of toilet paper like normal. I believe she regretted that decision and hasn’t tried it again, as far as I know.

Speaking of questionable hips, I’ve got a couple. Now, I don’t mean to share this information as if I’m complaining, which I’m often accused of doing. No, I’m simply sharing facts as I know them. With regard to hips, I may have mentioned that I occasionally contract a semi-case of near-terminal sciatica and have successfully combatted it’s spread with frequent naps. The reason for previous naps may not have inferred the reason, but now you know. When I nap, I heal. We all do. I think.

Anyway, our BIG event this last week was a trip to Eastern Oregon to attend Maryssa’s graduation from Eastern Oregon University, in La Grande. She got a job in Albany, Oregon as a 3rd grade teacher at Waverly Elementary (I think) so things are going well for her.

The graduation ceremony was the 2nd one of the day for EOU students and was held in  a big auditorium that looked suspiciously like a gym with chairs all over the floor for the graduates, and extremely hard bench seats for the masses who attended. To ensure we’d get a seat, we arrived early.

Arriving early wasn’t difficult because we drove our RV to the Wild Horse Casino RV Park near Pendleton where we spent Friday night. We arrived at a reasonable hour thinking we might give the casino buffet a chance when Steffani and Maryssa both called to find out where we were. We explained where we were and Maryssa told me, “well, I’m just going by Wild Horse right now and we’re going to have dinner at Rooster’s Roadhouse in Pendleton. Turns out that Matt (Maryssa’s favorite male person in the world) was arriving with his family from Salem and were staying in Pendleton and everyone available was going to meet them. We were invited. I had just finished hooking everything up and the water heater had been on just long enough that I got a warm shower without having to dilute the hot with cold water to avoid burning off the first couple layers of skin. Having full hook-ups made that possible.

We arrived at Rooster’s right on time to find a herd of people waiting near the front door. Joining them, and passing around platitudes, we learned that Matt and family hadn’t yet arrived so we stood and waited for their arrival. It was a short wait.

Once in the restaurant we were ushered to a back room where we discovered even more people that we know, like brother Jim and Donna, and Bob’s parents. Bob is Maryssa’s dad. In all, once everyone was seated, there were 15 people at one long table.

Going down the left side, and back on the right, we have: Bob & Mary (Maryssa’s Grandparents), Me and Diane, Steffani (Maryssa’s Mom), Mia & Tom (Matt’s and David’s Folks), Bob (Maryssa’s Dad), Bogie (Bob’s Friend and Maryssa’s fake Uncle), Tyler (Maryssa’s Brother), Maryssa, Matt, David, Donna & Jim (Maryssa’s Other Grandparents). Hope that clarifies things.

The dinner was great but I caught a little grief when I commented to the waiter that I found it interesting they could cook a tenderloin to perfection and only get it luke-warm. But, it was good and I ate it all.

After dinner we parted ways and headed for our assigned abodes, some in Pendleton and some in La Grande (47 miles away).

The next morning we drove to THE EVENT and immediately connected with others in the group and captured good seats in the 18 that earlier arrivals (Steffani and Stefany) had reserved which was totally against the rules. I sat next to Donna and right behind Stefany (Daniel’s Fiancé and Maryssa’s Other Brother). We had fun talking with each other, adding our voices to the gathering crowd, and just relaxing. On those cold, hard benches, previously mentioned, which brings us back to the cause of my sciatica situation. Again, I’m not complaining, just explaining. To lighten the mood, Steffani gave us a look at a couple of sides of her personality:

I’m sure I’ll be blamed for instigating this, but that’s OK. Steffani has been well-trained through frequent exposure to her Uncles.

We mostly sat there for four hours, maybe five, seemed like six, and I actually wasn’t aware of the severity of my situation until the graduation was over when I stood up to leave the area. Prior to that, Maryssa received her diploma and was blessed with her BA in Elementary Education.

She ran down the ramp …

Posed for one last photo, and headed for the exit.

Her Mortarboard. The reference to Cleats is about her collegiate career as a stellar softball player. She ended her career at EOU with a game-winning, bottom of the 7th, Home Run in her last time at bat. What a way to go.

I took this one because I like the way her hair looked.

One last Coy Look before morphing into a Professional Teacher.

M&M – Matt & Maryssa

 

Interesting rock sculpture that Diane wanted to capture.

Us and Maryssa – one last touch …

Diane’s graduation gift to Maryssa; a cooler full of strawberry freezer jam. She had some at our house years ago and Diane never forgot. It was the perfect gift.

After that, we headed back to Pendleton to rest one more night before heading home on I-84. My little sciatica bones were absolutely killing me and thinking about the drive didn’t help.

Long story short … I drove for a couple or three hours of the planned five-hour trip then stopped and rested for a while. Couldn’t dally long because we had a date in Scappoose with the Walters family (minus Lydia and Ceiarra who drove to Nampa for Maryssa’s Graduation Party, taking a detour through Lewiston on the way – another story).

First, we met at Ixtapa for dinner then planned to go to the Incredible’s 2 movie. It took forever for our food to arrive making us wonder if we’d make the movie on time, but it worked out. The upside of eating first was that we didn’t spend $50 on popcorn and drinks at the movie.

I sat next to Jeran and he put up with a lot of fidgeting from me as I had to keep changing positions so I wouldn’t cry. The seats were soft, but the position wasn’t good. I hurt.  Still, I enjoyed the movie. We all did. Even Jeran who’s seen it about six times. It was a good, fun evening out with the Fam. I regret that I didn’t get any photos of everyone at the dinner, but you’ve seen them before. Just close your eyes and visualize Me, Cedric, Stephen, Jeran, Daniel, Jennifer, and Diane.

Then, home. When we got there Diane gave me half a Vicodin and I went to bed early. Slept all night, to 0430 when the dogs got up. Let them out, fed them, then found a position on the sofa that didn’t hurt. When Diane got up she gave me a whole Vicodin and I slept most of the day away, healing. I had to heal sufficiently to enable me to go play golf the next day. Oddly enough, as bad as my sciatica hurt me, swinging a golf club doesn’t hurt.

Now my story is done.

Various and Sundry Things

Greetings fellow Earthlings who woke up on the green side of the grass, as did I, this glorious morning.

My awakening was a confused one because the house was so quiet. Like normal, I was once again on the living room sofa and noticed my bride in the kitchen making coffee. On a normal day, once the coffee was done, she would bring me a cup which is code for “GET UP YOU LAZY BUM AND GO YANK SOME WEEDS!” That didn’t happy, however, and it took me a while of this quiet solitude to realize that it didn’t happen because today is Sunday. I don’t have to pull weeds on Sunday. So, I just relaxed, went back to sleep, and waited for my coffee.

She never brought it to me, though, and I couldn’t hear her thrashing around in any of the nearby rooms that generally alerts me to the need to get up. “Thrashing” is too harsh a word here. She never really Thrashes. It’s just the noise people make, especially me, when they’re trying very hard to be quiet so as to not wake up people they love beyond measure. It never works out well for me because I always do it in the dark. No lights for me. No Sir. I know where everything is in the house … except which doorway the big brown dog has decided to lay in front of, or which end of the hall she chose to occupy. Because of that uncertainty, I walk slowly and carefully but the result is still the same because the big brown dog is deaf. She responds to touch. Consequently, when I finally make contact with her, as I slowly slide my feet, one at a time, she jumps up making all kinds of skritching noises on the floor which ignites the Barking Gene of the little black dog (toy poodle). On the verge of chaos, I get them both calmed down, but the damage, I know, has been done. Still, I close the bedroom door and sneak away. It always works that way, but over the years I’ve learned that all that noise really isn’t my fault and my bride understands this. All I want to do is let our four-legged family members out to run freely in the field behind our house. And, to hopefully pee in said field.

Normally I go to church with her on Sunday and she makes sure I’m up and functioning in time to make myself pretty for the event. When I looked at the clock it was 10:30 am and church has already started so I look in the garage and observe that her car is gone so it’s obvious that I’ve been abandoned, left unsupervised, and could, if I so desired, don my weed-pulling attire and go outside to get really sweaty.

Instead, I got my own cup of coffee, fired up my computer, corrected the church newsletter that I sent to everyone yesterday with an error, then sent it again, and finally decided to visit with all of you for a while. That’s what I do when I’m not given a task. I sit quietly, like this, and think of ‘stuff’ I could be doing, and things I’ve done since last we ‘spoke’ …

… like golfing. I was allowed to go golfing with Doug and Junior twice over the last couple of weeks and, predictably, I did badly. But we all had a good time, especially JR. He didn’t fall down even once. Doug and I help avoid that by teeing up JR’s balls so he can take a whack at it, then pick up his displaced tee and escort him back to the cart.

Now, about JR … in my mind he’s kind of a miracle because a few weeks ago he had a stroke and was paralyzed on his right side. I talked with him about it, and it went something like this …

“So,” I asked, “when did you discover that you’d had a stroke.”

“Well,” he responded, “when I woke up with a severe need to urinate and tried to get out of bed. I couldn’t move my right leg.”

“Did you determine right then that you’d had a stroke?”

“No. I just thought something was really screwed up. My right arm wasn’t working too well, but I was able to make it grab my right leg and swing it off the bed, then I rolled to the floor.”

“Why did you do that?”

“I had to take a leak really bad.”

“Oh, ya. That.”

“I started dragging myself to the bathroom but gave up after a couple of feet and called Jeri for help. She helped me back to bed after my bladder was pleasingly empty (in a way will not explain in detail as he did). Then people showed up. I knew who they were, but could not say their names. I guess I was mumbling. So, they took me to the VA Emergency Room where they hooked me up to a bunch of stuff and just left me there. When a doctor finally showed up he told me that I’d definitely had a stroke, but that there wasn’t anything they could do for me.”

“Really!”

“Yes, really. So, I yanked all the hoses and tubes off my body and Tami took me home. My heart rate and blood pressure were higher when I left than when I got there so once I got home I medicated myself.”

“What did you take?”

“One morphine, 2 oxycodone, 2 Tylenol, and 1 nitro. My BP went down, my heart rate slowed, and things started going back to normal. Then I just sprawled in my recliner until it was time to go golfing again.”

Yes, we went golfing again about two weeks after this happened and he still beat me. We went a couple of days ago, too, and I really thought I had a chance to finally whip him, but that didn’t happen even though I was keeping score. So, after a really harrowing event, JR is back to being about as normal as he can be. Quite amazing.

On other news fronts, I was summoned to the County Courthouse by Betty, our County Clerk, who is kind of Diane’s boss when it comes to counting votes during elections. She, Betty, apparently was cleaning out her attic and found some computer parts she thought I could use and wanted me to get them. Turns out, she had a brand new, in the box,  NCR keyboard, the one with the HUGE connector, way bigger than a PS2 connector, that will not work on any computer made today. I was grateful for the gift and plan to incorporate it in a project I have in mind using obsolete computer parts. I think something like that would look nice hanging on the living room wall, don’t you?

Last Thursday I spent a log of time on my feet chopping onions and carrots, and blending black beans and tomatoes while assisting a herd of ladies to construct a 150 portion version of Diane’s Black Bean Vegetable Soup. It’s really great soup, a family favorite. Making it for 150 people was interesting for me because it required extended use of appliances that I generally only get to use for short amounts of time. Like the Cuisinart. Great for the onions and carrots, but they wouldn’t let me chop up the celery. I really wanted to chop the celery.

After the chopping was done, and soup taste-tested (I’m the official taster) I was dismissed with instructions to return at 7 pm. I went home and just relaxed until the phone rang at 6:45. I answered and was asked, “are you coming to get me?” I considered my response and figured that saying I was told to her there at 7 wouldn’t be well received. She was tired and needed to get home.

Last Saturday the family celebrated both Jeff’s and my birthdays. We’re only two days apart and the ‘real’ dates were middle of the week, the reason for deferring till the weekend. Gatherings like that are always a loud, fun-filled event for everyone. They fill the house with happiness and we love it. We also love the quiet that follows, but the hustle-bustle noise always makes us smile. One thing, though, is trying to explain to ‘outsiders’ that son Jeff’s birthday is only two days after mine. He’s 46 now so I just tell folks that he’s my step son from Diane’s first marriage. That’ a lie, of course, because even folks with rudimentary math skills can quickly surmise that if he’s 46 he was obviously born in 1972, four years after Diane and I were married. I just add another lie that she was pregnant for a really long time.

Yesterday Diane and I attended a retirement party for our friend Rick who exercised his right to end his 30-something-year career with ABF Trucking. We got to visit with lots of old friends that we don’t see nearly often enough because they live so far away. There were three Ricks, two Jerry’s, two Pats, Nelda, Diane, Jo, Josette, Jody, Vie, Lucan, Stacy, Brandy, Linda, Allen and many others I cannot remember. For those who I failed to mention, forgive me. I’m old and forget things. Diane thinks I have dementia even though I’ve explained, many times, that I don’t need to remember ‘things’ because she does it for me. That’s one of the many responsibilities a wife has. Right? Well, maybe not all wives will agree with that, and it’s OK.

Once again I’m totally upset that when I select the magic button on my Xfinity remote that displays current and future sporting events, there is absolutely no mention of NCAA Softball. I’ve got to actually search for info on the games. Then, after doing that, I have to sit quietly while the #1 seeded Lady Ducks get smoked by lower ranked teams in the Women’s College Softball Championships. Last year they lost the first two games and went home. This year they won the first game 11-1 then lost the next two and were eliminated. I think if Xfinity would simply include college sports properly in their displays, the teams would do much better. Just wait till next year. Now we must root for Washington, the #2 seed who won their first two games.

Go Huskies.