Party, Yard Work, and Strawberries

As previously reported, Jeran Daniel Lynn Walters was officially ushered into adulthood when he participated in his class graduation ceremony last Friday. In truth, it was really official at the conclusion of his graduation party hosted by his family Sunday afternoon. Everyone cleaned, Daniel cooked, and Jennifer did the “Mom Thing”, flittering around, organizing, and making sure everything was OK. It was.

It was a gala event that included everyone important in his life including his kindergarten and first grade teachers.

The food was terrific, especially with the introduction of something Lydia made after watching YouTube. It’s called an Avocado Bomb and looks like this before cooking:

If memory serves me correctly, it’s a peeled avocado, cut in half and filled with mozzarella cheese, wrapped in a packed layer of ground beef, then secured into place with as many pieces of bacon you want to use. They were cooked on the BBQ and slathered with BBQ sauce when done, about 40 minutes. Lydia isn’t a fan of ground beef so used ground turkey instead but everyone loved them anyway. When I first saw them I thought it was just a bunch of bacon wrapped around a bunch of bacon.

Unlike Lydia, I’m not a fan of ground turkey but I sliced off a chunk anyway. It was really good.

For more photos and information about the party, visit Jennifer’s Facebook page.

Today the dogs felt it was OK to wake me up at 0400. I know they do that because that’s when it starts getting light here and another reason I don’t like daylight savings time. Dogs just don’t get it.

I got up, fed them, and released them into the neighborhood. Actually, I released them into the back yard, but they have access to the neighborhood from there and occasionally choose to exercise that option. After eating my morning banana and taking my pills, I welcomed the dogs back into the house. The cat showed up and came in with them, ate a few crunchies, then went right back out on the porch to glare at the yard. She does that every morning. She’s always on the wrong side of the door. Because she does that it makes getting comfortable difficult for me because about the time I’m ready for my morning nap she starts beating on the door. Literally. Thankfully, this time of year, I can just leave the door open for her. Then I napped until Diane got up.

Diane got up early this morning to clean up 24 hallocks of strawberries that we got at Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island after church yesterday. I added a link for “hallock” because you won’t find it in the dictionary. At least I couldn’t. But, it’s one of those words from my youth when it was OK for kids to do manual labor in Oregon. The link pretty much tells my story with regard to that subject so I won’t elaborate except to share that 1 hallock is about 1 pint. When I was picking berries, I could easily eat 2 or 3 hallocks of berries during the course of the day. That’s totally a guess because the strawberries that were eaten were always the biggest and best ones I found. Also, if I found my carrier magically full and I still had, say, 10 feet to go on my row, I’d just eat my way to the end. I say “magically” because I was very slow. Everyone, especially my brothers, were way faster than me and earned a lot more. The money we earned picking berries went toward school clothes. My brothers got lots of stuff. I got socks and underwear.

While Diane was working on the berries, I went around the yard killing blackberries and pulling grass. Since it rained quite hard yesterday, and a little this morning, it reminded me of berry picking … sticking my nice warm hands into those cold wet strawberry bushes. It was brutal. Today I had gloves, though, so it wasn’t so bad.

In the end I had this much stuff for the burn pile:

When looking at it the thought occurred to me that I either needed a bigger trailer, or I should make more than one trip to the burn pile.

Of course I discarded that thought because the trailer was already loaded and I wasn’t going to expend more energy unloading some before giving it a shot.

I almost made it all the way. Had I skirted around that last blueberry bush a little wider this wouldn’t have happened. Turns out I had enough energy to hurk the part that escaped over to its proper place.

But that was apparently the last of my energy because I fell on the lawn mower when mounting it to go back to the house. Yes, I fell on it, not off it. It was one of those slow motion moments where you think you have event under control but you really don’t.

In this case, my right foot was obstructed by the mower deck (I didn’t lift it high enough) and I knew something interesting was going to happen so I calmly grabbed hold of the steering wheel with my l left hand. This caused a rotation toward the right causing my right knee to land on the running board which I thought ended the falling process so I let go of the steering wheel. Some physics genius probably could have warned me that letting go of the steering wheel would result in a pivot on that knee to my right because of my unstable weight distribution in that direction and the fact that I was still moving slowly to my right.

So now I’m slowly turning to my right, headed for a header in front side of the mower deck with nothing to hang on to. I’m reaching out, and touching a lot of ‘things’, but nothing I could grip and I just went down, turning slowly, until I finally landed on my back next to the mower. It was quite exciting as my mind whirled with all the possibilities of which part of my body was going to get hurt the worst from all the projections in close vicinity.

I lay there for a few moments, assessing the damage, and going over the sequence of events that brought me to that moment. Nothing seemed to hurt and I couldn’t see any blood dripping off my hands and arms, so figured I must have missed all the things that usually make me bleed when I just bump them. It was amazing!

Had anyone been watching they would have found it pretty entertaining. I was kind of wishing someone had been there to capture it on video so I could enjoy it myself. From start to finish I bet it took 10 seconds for me to reach the ground. That’s slow. Normally when I … when someone falls it’s way quicker than that.

After a bit I rolled over and slowly attained a vertical position without detecting any new injuries, then climbed on the mower without mishap and drove back to the house. I figured that fall was a sign my work day was done and put everything away. Then I went in the basement door, took all my clothes off near the washer, and went upstairs to take a shower. I couldn’t hear any strange voices up there so figured we didn’t have company so I was safe.

Diane was still working on the strawberries when I got out of the shower so I tried to help but she wouldn’t let me. Had she allowed me to help I would have gladly taken the blame for this …

Apparently strawberries increase in volume when you beat them up with a Cuisinart. Actually, she’d gone through the process without mishap 2 or 3 times previously so it was just “one of those things.” No permanent damage was done. That was some sticky stuff, let me tell ya.  I offered to clean it up but was denied again. The end results will be something we’ll enjoy for a long time. 

This last photo is for Ruth, and anyone else who loves mountains. It’s for Ruth especially, however, because she tried to capture it every day of the two weeks she recently spent with us and it was just never out for viewing. So, Ruth, here you are… Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson. And a lovely view of a new neighborhood in progress.

I’m done now.

Happy Birthday To Me, And Other Stuff

Diane and I took a short trip to the beach last week so the dog would quit whining. Ziva pointed out that we have this perfectly good RV and she would really like to visit the beach. Normally we ignore her when she acts up like this, but this time she made a lot of sense. So, Diane made reservations at Cape Lookout State Park near Tillamook, OR where, in my opinion, the best cheese in the world is made. I suspect there are folks all over the world who will object to that bold statement, and that’s OK. It’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

Cape Lookout is located a very short walk from the beach which is the appeal for those of us who do not live in fear of tsunamis. Should one of those happen, anyone at that location would be goners for sure. According to Allen, one of my neighbors, Cape Lookout is situation on the Cascadia Subduction Zone meaning there was a chance we may not be returning home. Yes, that could happen due to a severe tsunami. It could also happen if I fell asleep while driving the RV along a very narrow road at 85 mph.

Fortunately, neither of those events happened so we had a nice couple of days at the beach and a safe drive home. Ziva was disappointed that we didn’t stay longer but didn’t get nasty about it. That was good because we humans on this trip had to endure three days of fairly dreary weather (no sun) in a location that didn’t have even the glimmer of a southern exposure (no satellite signal). Consequently, we had to take some long walks and actually talk with each other when not reading books. It was awful. So, we came home.

That’s a lie, of course. We enjoy our time together no matter where we are, what the weather’s like, or if we wind up with a spot in the park that can’t ‘see’ the southern sky.

Considering the weather, and the fact that I had to turn down a golf date for Tuesday (tomorrow) Diane gave it some thought and decided that we needed to return early so I could go golfing with the boys. I thought that was very considerate of her. I think she did it for my birthday, which was yesterday, the same day as George Gobel who pointed out that,If it weren’t for electricity, we’d all be watching television by candlelight.”

Not far from Cape Lookout is Happy Camp, a place we visited a long time ago with one of the travel trailers we used to have. At that time, the parking spots were right next to the water making beach access as simple as stepping out of the trailer. It’s not that way any longer.

Not many people live there.

One of our side trips was to Cape Meares Lighthouse which is near Cape Lookout State Park. We found this tree at the end of a 1/4 mile path inside the park.

A few steps beyond the tree revealed this view of the coast.

The white spattered cliff is home for a variety of birds who inhabit the area.

Ziva during a brief playful moment on Cape Lookout beach. The tide was going out. At its highest, the water splashed about halfway up the rocks.

When the tide goes out, it goes a long way. The point of land in the distance is Cape Meares.

This is closer to home, at Pixie Park in Columbia City, Oregon. Normally there are steps down to a beach beyond the railing. The Columbia River is running quite high right now. This is where we come to watch ships transiting the river.

Proof that the river is very high is that we can see the ships from our house. This is the Carnival Legend cruise ship heading down stream on its way to new adventures after receiving a $65 million dollar upgrade at Swan Island. Normally we would not be able to see this from home..

Gotta quit now and clean up because Diane’s cooking supper. I need to clean up because I actually did some outside work whacking down a bunch of grass and yanking out a couple of bushes that I killed a while back. I’m not allowed to smell like grass clippings inside the house.

Later.

It’s Been Busy Here

I just checked my calendar and discovered why I normally add ‘stuff’ more often than once every couple of weeks. Generally that isn’t a problem because we’re usually not very busy. Including today, here are the significant ‘things’ that happened over the past 16 days:

4/24 – Our annual Anniversary trip ended this day when we arrived safely home from Bayview State Park, Washington. In case you missed my previous post, this was our 50th. I’m surprised that she let me live this long and told her so. Since she didn’t respond right away, I suspect she’s surprised, too. I thanked her for my longevity. On a previous anniversary trip to NW Washington we arrived 2 days after they lopped off all the tulip tops in all the tulip fields. We had no idea they did this so it was a real downer. This year we arrived in time to take it all in …

4/25 – Trip to Best Buy to retrieve Diane’s repaired computer that we left with them before we took our journey. They had it fixed before we reached our destination and told me so. So, it was kinda funny that when I went to pick it up, it didn’t work. I couldn’t log in to it. Neither could the Geek Guy. So, I sat there while they went completely through the process of reinstalling Windows 10 and all the subsequent updates needed to get it current. It took two hours. I didn’t take a photo of Diane’s computer but you can trust me that it works nicely and it now has a cute little backup hard drive connected.

4/26 – Ruth arrived from Connecticut to join us for our 50th anniversary party where we planned to renew our vows. Ruth is our Sister-In-Law who was married to my older brother, Lyle, who is no longer physically with us. I have a photo of him on my desk that was used at his funeral so I see him every day. Ruth is staying with us for two weeks and was assigned to sleep in Jeran’s and Gilligan’s bedroom because it only has a twin bed. Our other party guests are couples which dictates the need for larger beds.

4/27 – Jack & Wynette arrived from Arizona to also join in our 50th celebration. They drove day and night to arrive on time and we were very happy to see our old pickup truck. You may remember that we swapped vehicles a few posts back. Jack is my brother and won the right to sleep in Diane’s and My bedroom simply because they arrived before Brother Jim and wife Donna. Then, Diane and I moved to the basement and made our beds on the sofas down there. Turns out they were pretty comfortable.

4/28 – Jim & Donna arrived from Idaho. They won a 4 day stay in Lydia’s, Baylee’s, and Jerrie’s bedroom because it has a queen bed. Their arrival signaled the end to our house guest for the near future. We loved having all the brothers and sisters with us because it doesn’t happen nearly often enough. We’re a little bit too spread out in the country.

4/29 – Diane and I renewed our marriage vows with a short service in the afternoon, after our normal Sunday morning service. Lots of friends and family showed up and I’m afraid I didn’t get around to talk with all of them during the course of this celebration. I was too busy eating. So, for those of you I may have missed, please forgive me. If you want to stop by the house sometime, we have plenty of turkey and ham left.

This is us and most of the grand kids.

Our daughter, Jennifer, and son, Jeffrey, took the role of Bride’s Maid and Best Man. I think they had a good time.

We even had a beautiful wedding cake thanks to Jennifer. She has a cake-baking friend. 

Unlike the first marriage, in 1968, Diane tempted fate and tried to smash some cake into my face. She was moderately successful, as was I. I’ve always wanted to do that.

This is pretty much all of us. We were missing some cousins (Debbie and Roger) who could have joined us but probably thought it would be better to not have a permanent record of our association. That’s OK. I’ll leave it to you to figure out who’s who.

The 2nd wedding was presided over by our good friend, Carolann, who lives part time in an old (1989) Winnebago that her husband, Terry, got from our other good friends, Les and Sofie, because they got a new Winnebago and decided they no longer needed three of them. They kept Wilbur, their very nice 1972 rig. It’s complicated. It’s a fun club (Classic Winnebagos) with fun people who have amazing skills and interesting backgrounds.

We also had attendees from our old PT Cruiser Club with whom we’ve been cruising since 2000. And, there were high school classmates who still talk to me. We even play golf. It was great to see everyone.

Although gifts were not encouraged, some were presented and gratefully accepted. Some were monetary in the form of $50 bills, and one notable pile of 50 $1 bills, in addition to this marvelous framed street sign from our USS Cleveland shipmates, Gary & Cindy:

4/30 – Baylee Jean Marie Cate celebrated her 9th birthday.  

Since we had a lot of exceptional cake left over from the day before, we used it and some candles to have a little party.

5/1 – Daniel’s Birthday. He’s getting closer to middle age all the time even though he still looks like a kid to me. He’s only 43. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a secret, or not, but don’t tell him you got that info from me. That escalated age happened very quickly over the course of the last 20 something years. Daniel single-handedly runs one of the many Intel campuses in Hillsboro. If it wasn’t for him, your computer wouldn’t work. That may, or may not, be true.

5/2 – Jim & Donna left which meant Diane and I could have moved out of the basement, but we didn’t. Turns out we were pretty comfortable down there, and we didn’t want to make the vacated bed. So, we stayed in the dungeon with all the dogs. And the cat. Probably a bunch of spiders, too. It was sad to see them go because we don’t often have the opportunity for the whole (remaining) family to gather and visit. There will be more, I’m sure.

5/3 – Sarah Visited. Sarah is Ruth’s and Lyle’s granddaughter who moved to Hillsboro from Connecticut a couple of years ago. She’s the one on the left in the following photo. Ruth is on the right. Diane and Lydia are in the middle. We had lunch at the Klondike then took her on a scenic trip around St. Helens, stopping at Lydia’s place of work so she and Sarah could look at each other live for the first time. It’s good to know who your cousins are. It was good to see Sarah and especially good for Ruth to see her Granddaughter. If she looks familiar to you, you probably had open heart surgery at St. Vincent’s. She’s the nurse who is totally in charge of all the doctors and nurses at St. Vincent’s who do that kind of stuff. She’s pretty special. I’m sure most of that is true, especially the “pretty special” part.

5/4 – Dinner @ Elks with Jack, Wynette, Ruth – Jack & Wynette took us all to the St. Helens Elks club for dinner and it was excellent. I didn’t take any photos there because it was dark, but you know who all those people are. One of them, at an adjacent table, is a lady who used to share a seat with me on the bus to Portland when I was still working. Hadn’t seen her in 8 years. The rest of us had a great time visiting, something we don’t get to do as a group nearly often enough.

Earlier in the day, Lydia brought her year old Rottweiler puppy to the house for a last visit. Sadly, he had a spinal deformity that caused him to fall all the time and it can’t be repaired. Lydia and family have been hoping he would grow out of it and thrive, but that didn’t happen, so he was released from the strings that trapped him in a malfunctioning body. Lydia and Ceiarra spent the day taking him around to visit friends, then to the beach, and out for an ice cream cone before the appointed time for departure. He was well-loved and will be missed a great deal.

5/5 – Family dinner at home – pork roast and tiny taters by Ruth and associates. Sadly, Daniel, Cedric, and Ceiarra were missing due to scheduling conflicts. We missed them, but we ate anyway. There was a report that the pork was a little dry because I was left home, alone, without proper instructions or supervision, while Diane and Ruth toured Portland in search of Diane’s almost 50-year-old sewing machine that was at the Sewing Machine Hospital of Portland. We delivered it to them before departing on our Anniversary Trip to Bayview State Park. It was gratifying to learn that they had successfully resuscitated the machine. We had doubts.

5/6 – Jack & Wynette departed on the first leg of their journey back to Arizona. We were sad to see the pickup go, as well as it occupants, and wished them safe travels along the winding road home. One of these days we will be visiting them in Arizona. Really, we will. Looking at the photo, I see a band-aid on my left thumb so this must have been the day, before dinner, when I was brutally attacked by Dexter, the dog next door. Actually, there was an altercation between Panzee and the neighbor’s giant black lab that prompted me to insert myself into the middle of that dog fight. Probably not a smart thing to do, but I did it anyway. I do lots of un-smart things like that. I wasn’t actually attacked. All I did was break a nail on something, probably a shiny white tooth. The break was about halfway down the quick of my thumb and halfway to the middle where it was ripped away. There was blood on Panzee’s neck, which was in grasp of Dexter’s very impressive mouth, so everyone thought it was hers. Then I noticed my disheveled thumb and fell to the ground whining and groveling when I realized it was my blood, not Panzee’s. In spite of the groveling, I was able to extract Panzee from Dexter’s jaws of death and Tim was able to get Dexter under control. It was a pretty exciting series of events. Then we had dinner.

5/7 – Sarah invited us to a BBQ dinner in Hillsboro. Of course we went and were pleased to meet Sarah’s boyfriend Jay, his brother Todd, their parents, and Todd’s wife’s parents. Being an expert at forgetting names immediately after hearing them I was at a severe disadvantage for figuring out who everyone was. I know Keith is J & T’s Dad, but can’t remember their Mom’s name and cannot remember Todd’s wife’s parent’s names at all. I do remember Lucy, however, who was the smallest person present because she’s only 9 months old and belongs to Todd and his Wife. There is a pretty incredible story about how Sarah met Jay and it could be long, but I’ll give you a short version. Sarah and Todd are both RN’s who worked together in Connecticut. Todd moved to Hillsboro, Sarah visited, and they went to Seaside to visit Jay and family where Todd exposed his plan to marry his current wife. She’s an Emergency Room Doctor for Kaiser. Jay and Sarah got along well and she decided to relocate to Hillsboro. Jay was a Policeman in Connecticut and traded that job for one with the Washington County Sheriff’s department. They got a condo. The BBQ was awesome … the biggest and most tender filet mignon I’ve ever seen. Cooked to perfection by Todd and Jay. Halfway through the meal Diane and I had to leave to visit the Good Sam ER facility. This was a planned visit, nothing to do with the food. Did you know you can make appointments for Urgent Care? I did that to have someone attend to my escalating case of epididymitis that I’d been fighting for a couple of weeks. End result, I had a soothing ultrasound of my testicles, by a nice young lady, while Diane and I held hands and watched TV in ER room 10 at Good Sam. This was a new one for us. I got antibiotics and am healing. For some reason, this is the only photo I took at the BBQ:

Diane wouldn’t let me take photos in the emergency room.

5/8 – Diane & Ruth  took a trip to get their toes fixed at a local nail salon. Well already had the appointments but I gave up my spot for Ruth. Yes, I get a pedicure once in a while. I’m thinking that the next time I have an ultrasound on my testicles I’ll just get my toes done at the same time. Ya, I know that’s not going to happen, but it conjures up interesting things in my head.

5/9 – We took Ruth to the beach, via Astoria, and ate Crab Louie’s at Norma’s near the Seaside turnaround where Louis and Clark finished their epic journey. Here’s proof …

Then we went to Ecola State Park by Canon Beach where we were delighted to see a dozen elk wandering around in the grass by the parking lot.

Guess they like the view, too.

One of the main points of interest you can see from this location, is the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

It’s fun to watch in a storm.

Then we went to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock that was in the movie Goonies.

Then, it was time to head home by way of the Astoria Column located on a hill above Astoria.

 

This is just to show off the T-shirts Diane got us. Kinda cool, huh?

We made it home safely from our journey to the coast (that’s the same as ‘shore’ to those of you on the east coast).

Ruth left for home yesterday after spending two weeks with us, looking everyday for a glimpse of Mt. Hood. Alas, it never showed up even one time. Then we put her on a plane. When we got home, here’s what we saw, so this is for Ruth.

I think that pretty does it for the past umpteen days. Now I need to get out of my PJ’s and go mow the yard.

Cheers.

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.