Off The Road, and Lydia

We’re off the road because we safely made it home from the rainy beach. No mishaps and nothing broke. It was a successful trip. Another reason for leaving the beach was due to the crowds …

Now, about Lydia. Today she turned 19.  We celebrated that event yesterday by driving to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm near Woodburn, OR to tramp around in the muddy fields of tulips. They aren’t all in bloom, yet, but those that were are pretty nice. Won’t be long before the fields will be blazing with color. Honest.

On the way home we stopped at one of the two Cracker Barrel Restaurants in the Portland area. The only other time any of us went was to a CBR was in Virginia and we loved it. We weren’t disappointed this time, either. The food was great and we had a secluded table where we could celebrate Lydia’s 19th without bothering anyone else. 

A glass dolphin from Jeran that I’m pretty sure she likes a lot.

I memory frame for Kylo, Lydia’s Rottweiler puppy (he’s one year old). Sadly, he’s got major mobility issues and will have to leave us before he grows up. He’s a great, friendly dog.

 

I think she’s unwrapping earrings.


Jeran and Jennifer (Mom) watching the celebration in their own ways.

Diane doing the same, and Jeran is, as you can see, still fully engaged.

Not long ago Lydia exerted her adulthood by having a hole punched in her nostril. I asked her how she picked her nose without destroying all the Kleenex and she showed me. Turns how it involves some hard-core nose picking.

Actually it wasn’t that bad, and I didn’t ask her how she cleaned that nostril. It was a lie.

Daniel (Dad) and Jeran hung out in front of the Cracker Barrel making good use of all the stuff they have for sale out there. Daniel waxed Jeran at checkers.

Daniel, Diane, and I went home after this and Jeran stayed with the girls while they went shopping at Cabela’s which was just across the parking lot. Diane got us safely home and all the dogs were extremely happy that we didn’t make the day last any longer.

It was a good day, too. The sun shined pretty much all the time even though there was rain in the forecast.

That’s it.

Big Guns, Little Guns, No Guns, Some Guns, Snow, and Fast-Pitch

You may have noticed over the years that I tend to stay away from politically charged topics, especially those involving guns. After this last shooter took advantage of  a soft and unprotected target to make his statement, I think all of the information learned about the shooter after the fact kind of exonerates the gun as being the problem. It’s the person holding it and, oh ya, it’s all those folks who couldn’t seemingly find the time, or a reason, to investigate all the warnings they received about the shooter. You’ve heard all this if you watch the news so I’m just being redundant and I apologize.

I’m one of those guys who think it’s OK if teachers were allowed to carry a concealed weapon. I suspect that the coach who lost his life would have solved the problem in a more dramatic manner if he had a gun. Maybe he should have had the gun that the school resource officer didn’t use.

Sorry. That was a low blow. I was happy to hear that he resigned his $80K/year job after choosing to not do anything when he could have.

So, after all that, I’m going to offer a solution even though I do not know who funds the resource officer position – the school or the police department. Doesn’t matter to me. I suggest that whoever does should hire veterans, preferably ex Special Forces kind of people who aren’t unfamiliar with the stress and danger of wading into a fire fight. I think they should carry their weapons openly, like just like all those Secret Service agents standing guard around pretty much every important building in Washington, D.C. It’s a real deterrent, believe me. I talked with one of them – asked him for a recommendation of a good place to eat. He was very helpful, and I was impressed with the weapon he was carrying. Kind of like the one our Florida shooter used, I think.

With that thought in mind, I’ll also share that I don’t see the need for weapons of war to be sold to civilians. The only justification I’ve ever heard from owners of such weapons is that they are “fun to shoot,” or that they want them for home protection. OK, I kinda get that but I’m still not a fan of AR-15’s, or similar weapons, being available to pretty much anyone who qualifies, even if they’re nuts. Personally, I don’t own a weapon. Never have. However, if I were to purchase one, I’d get a shotgun. There’s a bit of logic in my addled brain that thinks a shotgun is better protection than a pistol or a fancy rifle. With the latter you have to be a good shot. With a shotgun you only need to get close to get someone’s attention.

I swerved way out of the lines there that define my normal behavior and blog content, didn’t I? I’d apologize but that would be hypocritical because I could avoid all the potential turmoil this may cause by simply not posting it. But I won’t, so it’s evident that I’m not sorry I did it. I may be sorry tomorrow, but not right now.

Our weather remains to be cold (like in the teens) and it snows a bit now and then, but the roads are clear. There was a tricky period of time at the onset of the bad weather when one of the freeway exits was nothing but black ice making it a tricky trip. It was fun to watch.

It’s after 9 pm and nearing my bedtime, but I must stay alert because we’re waiting for our Niece Steffani to arrive from Idaho. They should be here any time. The reason for their trip is they thought it was time for Birk, Tyler’s little black dog, to meet the rest of the dogs in the family. That, and Maryssa is playing fast-pitch softball against Concordia this weekend. We love to watch her play. We heard a rumor that Maryssa hit a homer in her team’s home opener. Don’t know what the score was, or who won, but she hit a home run. Good for her. It’s her senior year at EOU (Eastern Oregon University) so this is her final season as a collegiate player.

I feel better now. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I’ll try to be a little more upbeat next time.

Cheers

A Birthday and a White Christmas

Today is December 29th. Two days to 2018 and our temperature is 51 degrees. We had a white Christmas for the first time in about 30-40 years but the warm weather and ensuing rain made short work of that. Still, it was pretty nice.

The dogs weren’t huge fans, especially Ozzie, the little guy. After the snow, we had freezing rain which allowed him to walk on top of the precipitation had he chosen to do so. We’re talking about a little dog that has a hard time walking around the house unless there is a throw rug for him to use. Figure the odds that he’ll walk on a sheet of ice voluntarily. Consequently, there is no photo.

Before Christmas I attended an art class with our daughter, Jennifer, who is the crafty one in the family. This was the first time I’ve done something like this so it was an experience to remember. First off, I was the only male participant and I had to ask permission to participate. I didn’t really, but thought it would be prudent to do so. Thankfully, I knew a few of the ladies so it wasn’t difficult. One of the knowns to me was Kristen, Daniel’s sister. Daniel, for those who don’t know, is my son’s brother-in-law.

Kristen’s Mom and Grandma were also there, I believe, but didn’t get their photo.

As you can see, we all did an acrylic painting of a bear of some kind that wears clothing. Mine wasn’t too bad if you didn’t get too close to it. The farther away the better.

Jennifer did a much better job.

Pretty much all of the class.

The class was conducted in the Running Dog Brewery which is located next to the old Fat Boy’s Pizza in downtown St. Helens, and about 3-4 doors up from Jillian’s, the 2nd hand clothing store that was used as the Seattle store where Bella went shopping for a prom dress in the vampire movie Twilight. Considering that the beer flowed continuously throughout the painting experience, you’d think it would have been pretty noisy and the paintings might have been a bit interesting. It was true for both of those presumptions but I wasn’t allowed to capture any proof. I was going to do it anyway, but they outnumbered me about 20-1 so didn’t see the benefit of risking precious body parts to a potentially vicious mob of enraged women.

Actually, I really don’t think anyone would have minded but I just figured not doing so was a better choice. Everyone was having a great time, even me.

Our church choir practiced many times to prepare for our traditional Christmas Eve 11:00 pm service, and the last one was on December 20th, Diane’s birthday. Jennifer arranged for a fancy cake and we had a party at the church.

Since Diane and I are advanced in age, we had Christmas dinner a day early at our house so we wouldn’t have a need to be in traffic with all those other folks. Jeff and the Littles, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie, were in attendance, as well as the entire Walters clan, except for Cedric. There was a short period of time where it appeared that Daniel and Jeran might go get Cedric but the weather had already turned bad and the roads were terrible. So, they returned to base.

Cedric will be home on leave today (the 29th) and we’ll be celebrating Christmas again with him, tomorrow, at the Walters’ home.

Almost lastly, here’s my new favorite coffee cup that Lydia got me …

She knows me so well.

Finally, if anyone is in the market for a nice vehicle, this one is for sale. We’ve had our fun, but can’t tow it behind the RV except on a trailer. It’s replacement will probably be a 2015 Chevy Malibu.

Happy New Year to everyone. Make it a safe one.

Detroit Lake State Park, Pacific Crest Trail, Sauvie Island, and Home Depot

We spent last week out of the country camping at Detroit State Park. That would be the reason you haven’t heard from us in a while. Our parking spot was close to the lake and gave us ideas about a family event next summer since all those sites are big enough for many tents.

Detroit Lake is known for good fishing, something neither Diane nor I do. Catching fish involves cleaning them, unless you give them away. We find it much easier to just lay around and watch others fish then go to the store when we want some for ourselves. It’s a beautiful place.

We took walks multiple times a day. Per the rules, all dogs had to be on a leash so we complied. I just didn’t hang on to Ziva’s all the time.

During one walk Ziva had a notion that she was some sort of water dog who liked ducks and was moving in on this one swimming away.

Once we talked some sense into her she got out of the water then walked briskly down the docks to a slip where the ducks were just sitting. Of course they bailed off and I honestly thought Ziva was going to follow them. But, apparently dog sense prevailed and she just watched them swim away. Odd that she liked the ducks because she didn’t give the numerous geese in the area a second glance.

There are nice trails like this all over the park.

After one long walk around the park lasting a couple of hours we returned and discovered that I left my keys in the RV door. I did that, of course, so I’d know where they were.

It rained almost the entire time we were there but that was OK. It was the first real rain we’d seen in almost 3 months. The dogs didn’t mind it either, but it kept us busy drying them off.

Went to Sisters one day to look around. It’s a neat little town. Almost like moving downtown Seaside from the beach to the high desert. Very touristy kind of place. On the way back we took a walk on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Since it was snowing we didn’t go more than a couple of miles up the trail before Ziva’s feet got too cold to continue. It was pretty chilly. Turns out she’s a warm weather dog. I had to carry her back to the car.

The area was burned off at some point in the past, not from recent forest fires. But, it gives you an idea how fire can decimate the environment and makes us appreciate those who fight the fires all the more.

On the way home we stopped at a Home Depot to buy baseboard material for our hall project. It was Diane’s idea, a good one, because we had the motor home with plenty of room to carry 20 foot lengths of material. As it turned out, we only got 8 foot lengths because that’s all they had of the kind Diane wanted. Still, it was nice to not have to figure a way to carry all that stuff home. Ziva and Ozzie enjoyed the shopping trip, too. Ziva even helped me tow the cart around the place.

OK, so Ozzie wasn’t so hot on riding in a cart but he had to. If Diane would have left him on his leash he would have stopped and peed on every display he encountered. We know that’s true.

Before leaving on our trip, my good friend and golf buddy, Doug, drove down to our back 40 to save some apples. He said his apples are all gone and the deer need some to eat. So, he picked a few.

Saturday we participated in a beach cleanup on Sauvie Island which is in the middle of the Columbia River between Portland and St. Helens. About half of the island is farmland and the other half is a wild life preserve. There is no mention in the history books about this beach where Diane signed us up to clean.

During the summer Collin’s Beach is a pretty popular place for the brave at heart. The link contains a photo of me that I didn’t want to use but Diane insisted.

After we cleaned up the litter we stopped at Kruger’s Farm for some fresh veggies. They have great prices on pretty much everything they grow. This sign in the store caught my attention and thought it would be a good way to end this.

The sign was there, but I didn’t see any chickens.

My 1,000th Post, or Why my fingers are tired

This is my 1,000th blog entry and I thought I should make it special. In what way, I don’t know, because I don’t consider any of my entries special. They’re just a bunch of words I string together in a manner that I’m still not sure I understand. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don’t. It’s a crap shoot. Still, I do it and I wonder why, perhaps like some of you may do. I’m not about offering advice for anything. I just share the mishaps I encounter during a current project that typically lead to some sort of injury to some of my favorite body parts. I constantly receive encouragement to keep writing leading me to believe that those folks enjoy reading about all those times I needed stitches. Or, maybe it’s because I have this one particular finger that’s had a total of 25 stitches for three different wounds over the course of the last 55 years. It’s true, and all three wounds were in close enough proximity that the resulting scars intersect. It’s evident that this finger, my left pointer, is poking around in the wrong places when it shouldn’t be.

Having people suggest that I keep producing this stuff makes me feel obligated to do so and also makes me suspect that I’m filling a need for them to be entertained. I’m OK with all of that. Sometimes I do stupid things on purpose just to see what happens. According to my wife, Diane, it’s not a proper way for a 73-year-old to conduct himself. Not healthy, either. But you know what? It’s kinda fun so I ‘spect I’ll keep going a while.

Last Friday I visited some of our Winnebago friends who came to spend a few days in St. Helens at the Elks Club. In case you don’t know, most Elks Clubs all over the US have hook ups for RVs and Camp Trailers that don’t cost much. No sewer in St. Helens, but there’s water and electricity for $15 a night. Plus, you’re parked next to a restaurant and bar that’s just a short walk away. Friday was pot luck night for the campers, however, so I represented me and Diane for the BBQ hamburger meal. Diane didn’t go.

Well, she went, actually. She went a lot because she and our daughter, Jennifer, spent the day together doing girl stuff which included lunch at a local restaurant. The food is generally good, as it was on Friday, I’m told, but both of them encountered some sort of bug that acted suspiciously like norovirus. Consequently, when the girls got home to their respective habitats, they went, and went, and went, without going anywhere except the bathroom. All the while that was going on I was sitting with our friends enjoying my hamburger, beans, and potato salad. I believe I got the better deal.

By the time I got home, Diane was much better but wouldn’t be full speed until Saturday. She communicated with the girls and the decision was made for all of them to come to our house for early dinner on Saturday. It, too, was a bit of pot luck which is always great because of the variety you get. For our part, Diane dug around in the refrigerator and found some hamburger that still smelled OK and decided to make meatloaf. For those who shun beef she went to either Safeway, or Fred Meyer’s, for some dead chicken parts they cook. I like their dead chicken. Actually, I like anyone’s dead chicken. It’s very tasty.

Now, I have to clarify here that I specify ‘dead’ chicken because we all know that there are many chickens out there that aren’t dead. Like those that live in our neighbor’s back yard. I need to make that point because I’m not a fan of live chickens but I’m not the kind of person who would go out of their way to make them more likable to my way of thinking without just cause. At this point in time the resident rooster is pushing the limit. Some of the hens are apparently special kinds because the feathers stick straight out from their scrawny necks looking as if someone has grabbed them by the feet, wrapped their hand around their neck, and apparently tried to stretch them a bit. Kinda like this …

Kinda weird, right? Now, the rooster of this little flock doesn’t have a robust crowing ability, as you might imagine. He crows in a feeble way like he’s on his last leg. So, that’s kinda like entertainment for me.

Our Winnebago Friend Gathering (WFG) this time of year is normally held at the fair grounds in Hood River. That plan was nixed when some idiot child tossed a firecracker in a ditch and started the Eagle Creek Fire and burned up over 30,000 acres of prime timber along the Columbia River. There was grave danger that the Multnomah Falls Lodge would burn but the fire fighters kept the flames away.The freeway, I-84, was closed and remains closed because of the fear of trees falling on the road once the rain starts. Because of that, the Winnebagos came our direction instead.

For our dinner, I chose to use our china, crystal, and silverware because it needs to be used. I set the table so I used pretty much all the silver so folks had enough tools to choose from for the items they were eating. No one complained and everyone had a good time.

You’ll notice that Diane isn’t in the photo. That’s because she rarely sits down during meals like this. Instead, she always up getting one thing or another like most hostesses I know. In the photo, left to right, are: Susan, Cliff, John, Less, Sophia, Terry, and Carolann. That’s me in the middle, with the big head.

This is everyone. I apologize for not getting a better photo of Diane, and I will surely hear about this one, but it’s what I got. I think she was sharing, during group discussion, how her day went on Friday. I love my wife. Mainly what we were doing in this formation, was watching the news of Hurricane Irma and how the weather was affecting folks in Florida. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Florida and Texas are drowning while Oregon and Washington burn.

Here’s a better photo of Diane …

It’s always fun to watch the news people during disastrous events like the floods because they encourage all the residents to evacuate then news teams go in and stand in the flood so they can get their pictures taken. It’s even more fun when the wind is blowing over 100 mph. Gotta wonder what motivates those people. Why do they feel the need to put their people in danger to show the masses what a stiff wind, filled with pelting rain, will do to unsuspecting people. Maybe it’s some sort of punishment for low performers. This only happens for water related events. Apparently the news people are smart enough to NOT show up at a forest fire and demonstrate the dangers related to them. Nope, that’s when they shift to one of those protest rallys that seem to pop up that don’t seem to have a valid point. The most recent one in Portland, today, was the Anti-White Nationalist Rally. I guess it was just a matter of time before something like that jumped out of the ground, huh? For those of you who don’t live in the Portland area, here’s a Protest Rally Schedule of events across the country that may interest you. If you attend any of them, we expect you to report back with information about what you learned at whatever rally you attend.

OK, now that I’ve actually put that rally list out there, I think, Really?! There’s a web site for protest rallys? I guess those folks who don’t have anything productive to do on any given day need guidance, and this is it.

Now it’s getting late. Ziva was happy when folks went home so she could reclaim her spot on the couch. She loved our visitors, but they were sitting on her couch.

Goofy dog.

Oh, ya! It rained Saturday night. Just enough to put a very slight green tinge on our brown yard. First rain in about 3 months.

I hope everyone had a safe weekend. Now, get back to work. I need my Social Security Check.

Thanks

The Air We Breath & The Demise of a Tree

Our normally excellent air in the Pacific Northwest has been polluted by all the forest fires burning throughout the state. There is ash raining down everywhere and breathing is at your own risk.

That isn’t a complaint – it’s a simple fact. Although the air in St. Helens is compromised, we are not dealing with the threat of evacuation due to fires as are many, many areas of the state. Last night fire fighters were close to losing the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge due to a fire started by a 15-year-old child playing with fireworks. The lodge was saved but the fire remains un-contained as I write. In the blink of an eye this fire, named Eagle Creek, has consumed well over 10,000 acres of forest in the gorge and has caused closure of I-84, the main freeway artery from Portland through the gorge. Closure is from Troutdale to Hood River.

It’s a mess. I’d say visibility is less than a mile at our house.

Regarding the tree … it’s the tree that participated in our power outage during the last wind storm we had in December 2015.

Some more of it fell off the tree a week or so ago so the power company decided it was time for that tree to bite the big one and sent Asplundh over to take care of it. It was a two day job.

After cutting off, and grinding up all the limbs, they were about to haul it all away and dump it some place. I only begged and pleaded for a short time before the foreman decided that we could keep the residue which we intend to scatter all over the place around the house. Now we don’t have to buy bark dust.

Actually, I didn’t have to beg at all. They were glad to leave it for us.

 

It Rains in Other Places, too.

The news here at home is all about the havoc dished out by Hurricane Harvey and I understand. What I don’t understand is some of the dumb (from my perspective) questions reporters ask of officials involved with the recovery efforts. Like, “When do you expect the water to recede to a normal level?”

Really? Does he really think this official has that information? That’s just one, but it’s typical of the segment of CNN I watched.

I get it – huge areas of Texas, as well as neighboring states, have experienced devastating losses. It will take years for them to recover, but recover they will. But, it actually rains a lot in other places, too. Check the link. India is in the midst of a horrendous monsoon season. Last count was 1,200 dead in India and surround countries from flooding. I’ve not seen this reported on any of the TV channels I checked. I found it on BING news on my computer.

Let’s pray for them, also.