4th of July & Other Stuff

Yesterday was the 4th of July, the day when everyone in our town gathers on the streets near our house to ignite all the fireworks they’ve accumulated since they became available in mid-June. There is speculation that some folks fire off rockets left over from last year but I’m pretty sure that isn’t true because the noise begins on July 1st with a few sticks of dynamite being ignited sporadically every few hours. The tempo increases each day until the 4th when it seems to become a competition to see who can make the most noise until everyone runs out of ammo.

Prior to enjoying the neighbors noise, Diane and I went downtown for a flag raising ceremony at the old court house. That’s done at 1:30 pm, prior to the bell ringing at 2:00 pm. The American Legion Post 42 in St. Helens, to which I belong, provides the manpower to ring the bells all over town at facilities that have bells to ring. They are in churches, and the fire department mainly, in addition to the bell near the public docks in front of the old court house. That one is from the old Warrior Rock lighthouse up the river a ways from St. Helens. The bell was moved and was replaced by a new one at some point in the past.

That’s the bell I’ve been ringing for a number of years but Roger has taken over that job because I was a bit late one year. So I just go along to help Roger count to 13. That’s what we do with the ringing – 13 times starting at 2:00 pm, one strike for each of the original colonies.

This is Roger and me.

Me and Roger

I know. We look the same except he trims his beard, I don’t.

For reference, this one is of my Bride and me. Diane doesn’t have a beard.

Technically, anything that attains a lofty altitude, then explodes, is illegal in Oregon, but those devises are readily available in Washington which is just a hop and a skip away over the river. So, anyone willing to spend a small fortune on things that go boom, loads up and returns home to share with their neighbors, whether or not the neighbors wish to participate. Even though they are illegal, the police aren’t prone to pursue those who break that law. Nope. They just turn a blind eye and let everyone fire at will.

As a result, the sky around our house is filled with rockets firing every which way and the exploded debris drifts all around us with the smell of cordite lingering in the air. It makes for a pleasant evening, for sure. The dogs love it, of course. We let Ziva on the porch so she can bark her happiness non-stop during the entire display. I let her bark as much as she likes with the hope that someone will complain about the noise, but I don’t see that happening.

This year, with the pandemic rules still being enforced, most large fireworks displays were cancelled which saved the towns tons of money. I think that after seeing what happens when things are locked down, they will never sponsor another expensive display again. There were fireworks being fired off all over town, and all across the visible horizons, 20-30 miles away. Diane mentioned that if everyone who had fireworks would have taken them down to the river, where the big show usually takes place, the display would have been better than what usually goes up in the air and it would have lasted longer, too.

Today Ziva was none the worse for wear but we were concerned because she’s pretty old for a big dog. Fourteen, I think, and her joints are starting to fail on her. That’s a sad story for another day …

Later in the day, on Sunday, we made a trip to the country to visit some long lost relatives. We see these guys once every 10 years or so which is understandable because they live about 30 miles away. Considering how much we all drive during the course of a year you’d think we’d connect more often, right? Well, Debra, my cousin, and matron of all those we visited, declared that we’re going to do this more often in the future. As a matter of fact, we’ve already set a date.

The fact that Debra’s daughter, Alicia, and her family, Adam, Ivy, Autumn, Cora, and their dog Gemma, have recently become residents of St. Helens may have something to do with her sudden desire to make this visiting thing a regular event.

Adam, you may remember, was recently hired as the Youth Pastor for Daniel and Jennifer’s church. It’s also Cedric’s, Lydia’s, and Jeran’s church. Getting that job closed a very serendipitous loop of events bringing all of our families closer together. Now that they live closer to us, Lydia doesn’t have to drive so far to get her ‘Cousin Fix’ with the girls. That’s handy.

Here’s who was there – First there was the baby, Ava, who the new Mom, Nicole, rarely saw during our visit.

Then, there were all of the little one’s parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, and aunts, for a final total of 33 people.

During this event we helped celebrate two birthdays. Once for Lizzy, and once for Jada who is soon to be 11. Lizzy got the lemon drop cake that Jennifer made. Jada got the oreo cake.

That’s it for now as I must depart for a visit to Hillsboro to see my VA doctor so she can tell me how great I’m doing.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th.

Today

While Diane was reading my entry about “Yesterday”, she reported that she had photos of yesterday. I did not know that. So, now I’m getting them and will share them with you.

First, I just share me in my COVID face mask that Jennifer made for me.

It’s Sponge Bob, one of my favorites, and it’s very comfortable. I only wear it to Walmart.

This is me relaxing at home …

It’s relaxing because I don’t shave. I’m protesting the virus.

Here’s me and the ice cream cake. That’s not 76 candles but it sure looks like enough fire to melt all that ice cream. But, it didn’t.

In case you’re wondering, That’s Ivy’s left ear in the foreground, in case you were wondering. The sister to her left is Autumn.

Here’s a good photo of my left ear and a fireball on top of the cake. Pretty awesome.

That’s it. I got no more.

Baylee Jean Marie is Eleventeen

Baylee turned 11 today at the stroke of midnight. For years, I’ve told the girls, and other impressionable children, that it’s “Eleventeen”, the trial year for being a teenager. Then they revert back to 12, then 13. So far, they all disagree with me which isn’t a bad thing. I tend to lie to them all the time and leave it to their folks, and Grandma, to straighten things out. That leaves me out of the loop for being responsible. It’s my comfort zone.

Here’s a more recent photo of her frolicking near the Pacific Ocean on the beach where we originally dug her out of the sand after a large storm. We’re not sure where she really came from. That’s the story, anyway. She doesn’t believe that, either.

With the pandemic in full bloom around the world, she’s enjoying an exceptionally long summer vacation with her sisters and recently found out that, even though she didn’t finish the fifth grade, she will be advancing to middle school next school year and partake in all the drama that involves. I’m sure she will do just great as she will have Gilligan in 7th grade to help her through the turmoil of change.

We’re proud of our Bales and look forward to seeing what she grows into over the coming years. At this point in time, and for the past few years, her desire is to be a Doctorteachercop.

Works for me.

Hunkering Down

Day 1 – Noon

Jerrie sensed a fever flourishing in his body so he coerced Diane into taking his temperature with her brand spanking new thermometer. It’s not one of the new battery powered ones, but old-school that must remain in an orifice for 3 minutes. In case any of you have forgotten, having something stuck under your tongue for three minutes is a really long time.

Diane set a timer on her phone for three minutes to make sure he didn’t fudge, just like she sets a 2-minute timer for him when he brushes his teeth.

Once the alarm signaled the end of the interminable 3 minutes, Diane reached out to remove the thermometer from his body but he semi-slapped her hand away so he could read it first.

It was up to 99.5. Since his normal temp is around 97.”something”, he declared that he did indeed have a temperature. Very unusual. He hasn’t had a temperature above 98 degrees in 20 years. That’s the truth. Honest.

He does not feel like there’s anything wrong other than the tinnitus that screams in his left ear non-stop, day and night. However, considering what’s going on in the world Diane’s going to keep an eye on him for a while.

Day-8 Noonish

The temperature I had was gone on Day-2 so I apparently survived this brief brush with the pandemic, or I was never really sick. We’ll probably never know, and that’s OK. We’re here, and we’re relatively healthy, dealing with the stress associated with being forcefully sequestered in our house.

Frankly, neither Diane nor I are having difficulty with sequestering. We just lounge around in our jammies and watch Hallmark movies all day.

We’re fortunate that we don’t live in a populous area so contact with possible COVID carriers is extremely unlikely. Still, we maintain our distance from each other and wash our hands pretty much every time we touch a doorknob. My hands are almost raw in spots and I’ve been using lots of hand cream to keep them semi-soft. I might just send some to Ron, our Son-in-law’s brother, who lives in Manhattan. Last word, he and his Wife are fine. I’m sure they are busy washing their hands a lot, also.

We pray that all of you who read this are safe. There is hope that we will soon be moving back to some sense of normalcy, but I think everyone understands that it will be a new normal for everyone. Whatever it turns out to be, let’s embrace it and make it work.

Just for fun, here’s the sunset last night:

And, here’s the sunrise this morning:

And, here’s a Happy Cat that I’m going to paint one day:

Lydia

I’ve transgressed by failing to mention, on the proper day, that our dear Lydia has become a legal member of society by attaining the lofty age of 21. That happened yesterday. Yes, our little cutie …

… is now a big cutie.

The big bottle was a gift from her grandmother on her mother’s side.

She got this shirt, too.

In my defense for being late, there’s been a lot of distracting things going on and I think it’s acceptable that I only missed by a day. We did celebrate with some of the family earlier in the week, before the governor mandated sequestering in our homes. We had cake, fried chicken, potatoes, spinach salad, and carrots. I was told the carrots were for me because I like them. I thought that was very thoughtful of Lydia’s lovely mother.

For a moment, Lydia contemplated eating directly from the cake but she regained her sanity after a stern warning from he Mother.

No one blamed here because the cake was pretty awesome.

Daniel, Lydia’s Father, found one of his middle school year books to share a photo that included both of Lydia’s parents. Jennie is front row, 5th from the left; Daniel is next to last on the right side of the back row. This coming July 1st they will have been married 25 years. Pretty amazing.

One of Lydia’s gifts was a Himalayan Salt lamp that she requested. That thing weighed a ton, at least. After learning that it was a salt lamp, Jeran, Daniel, and I licked our fingers, wiped it on the lamp and tasted it. This wasn’t planned. It was very spontaneous. It was just an example of how alike we are. It was something we needed to know for sure. And it is salty. How about that.

Lydia was a little ticked that we licked her lamp, but quickly got over it.

None of us got sick.

Now for some breaking news. I found this tool on my dresser and it took a while to figure out what it is. It’s a golf divot repair tool used primarily to fix the dents on a green when one hits a ball well enough to land on the green on the fly. I’ve never used this tool because I never hit the ball high enough so it lands hard enough to dent the green.

I’ve apparently had this thing for a lot of years and decided I should put it on eBay. It’s an antique, I’m sure.

I guess that’s all I have for now. We’re defrosting our freezer and I’m supposed to be helping so I better get back to it.

Hope everyone is staying safe, wherever you may be. Just remember … if you wind up in a crowd, hold your breath. Better yet, stay in your jammies and don’t leave the house.

Paradise Lost

The title for this entry is a nod to my last post “Another Day in Paradise”. That was just 6 days ago. How quickly things change.

The way we live must change, has changed, since the outbreak of COVID-19. In our house we have 3 children ages 12, 10, and 8 and we’ve almost trained them to wash their hands every time they touch a doorknob. This is imperative because they are constantly moving around the house and there are lots of doors. Additionally, they periodically, throughout their busy days, are compelled to wipe down door knobs, cabinet and drawer pulls, sinks and faucets, with antibacterial wipes which are handy throughout the house.

We do all of that even though none of us travel away from the house except to get necessities. But, it only takes one bug to upset the balance we have attained. That’s the message.

Doing all that, then watching the news showing all the party-people playing on Florida beaches, doesn’t make much sense. Won’t be surprised if the government invokes Martial Law to encourage cooperation.

Now, on to more fun stuff.

Today I was reinstated as a card-carrying member of the St. Helens Elks Lodge #1999. That means I can, any time I want, visit the Keizer Elks Lodge and park my RV in their lot and they won’t kick me out, as long as there is space available and the lodge is open. This is a reference, or course, to our last trip to Keizer when we were asked to removed ourselves from their nearly empty RV park because we were not Elk members. I believe that was in a previous post.

Oddly, considering my inability to remember important things, I actually recalled my lodge member number which I last saw about 20 years ago. Amazing. It doesn’t mean anything special except that, well, I remembered it. That’s significant.

Yesterday I fiddled with our RV, putting up our portable satellite antenna in case Diane decided to take up residence, which she’s threatened to do. Not only because she wants to get away from me, but also because she’s more comfortable in the RV bed. I also managed to get broadcast TV on the bedroom TV, something I’ve half-heartedly tried a couple of times with no success, in case she wants to lounge around in bed, just because she can. On those days I go into support mode and get her whatever she wants. Really. I do that for her. I figure it’s the least I can do since she’s allowed live (with her) for the past 52 years or so.

While searching my photos, I found the one I took of the sunset that welcomed us to Lookout State Park on March 6th. I’m pretty sure I haven’t share it with you yet, and it’s worth a look.

The photo is deceptive because it looks like the sun is still above the clouds a little, but it’s actually already below the horizon. Quite stunning.

Now, I’ll end with some random beach pictures.

One day we headed South toward Pacific City. We came around a corner and encountered what I initially thought was a plane crash (really) but it was just a bunch of hang gliders getting ready to launch off the hill toward Lookout State Park. The above photo is the view they have as they run down the hill to get enough air to lift off.

I took videos of a few launches but I’m not able to upload them here without learning something new. So, this is all I’ve got of this event.

For folks who are a little familiar with the Oregon Coast, you may find the interesting. It’s group of three rocks at the southern end of Lincoln City that are normally (when I’ve seen them) surrounded by water. The locals have a name for them, but I can’t remember what it is.

That’s it for today.

Camping & COVID-19

Diane and I have weathering the current COVID-19 outbreak in space C51 at Cape Lookout State Park. We didn’t run here to flee civilization because of our concern about the virus, it just kind of worked out. Diane had this trip planned many weeks ago. We’re six days in on a planned ten day stay. So far we’ve had sun every day. At home it snowed last night. We’re in the right place.

We have been surviving without TV with no deleterious effects. Instead of TV we’ve been reading, mostly, and checking the internet once in a while. The park doesn’t have internet but our cell phones have a tiny little signal that allows us to use the “hot spot” feature, so Diane gets her daily fix of Trump snippets. Her day isn’t complete without at least a couple of those.

We have been watching one movie a day. Yes, that’s on our TV, but doesn’t count because there’s no news, or commercials.

Last night we watched two movies because the first one was so horrendously boring. It was almost 3 hours long and was about the beginning of the CIA. The name is “The Good Shepard”. We don’t recommend it for anyone who doesn’t need a nap.

Yesterday we mosied around the backroads of Pacific City and came upon an entire hill full of Holy Cow Houses. Those houses that, when you first see them, causes one to blurt out “Holy Cow, look at that house!”

Seriously major homes, the vast majority of which appeared vacant. We postulated about that and determined they were all owned by California lottery winners who have other homes all over the place and only use the ones in Pacific Beach when the sun shines and gets the temp above 70 degrees. Whatever the reason, they are quite magnificent. Considering that the development name is Nantucket Shores, it’s possible all those houses are owned by a Rhode Island lottery winner who wishes to spend time, with his enormous family, in another beautiful part of God’s world, while pretending he’s still on that little island in the Atlantic.

Lunch at The Schooner on Netarts Bay – best fish and chips ever. Really. I had a cup of some really good clam chowder and a piece of Diane’s fish.

After lunch we drove to Alderbrook Golf Course, north of Tillamook. It’s a beautiful course with awesome fairways. Diane was excited because there wasn’t anyone playing. But, the guy in the pro shop pointed out that the wind was blowing pretty hard, keeping players away. I told the guy in the pro shop that wind doesn’t bother people who can’t hit the ball straight. Also, if they’re concerned about wind they’d never be happy playing with me and the Peal Boy’s because wind just isn’t a factor for us. Neither is snow or rain.

All the restrictions for COVID-19 are concerning. I’m sure pretty much everyone is getting the message about how important it is to wash one’s hands. At least we hope they are. We’ve enforced that simple heigenic routine with the Littles, and each other, for years. Some of us still don’t get it but they aren’t the ones likely to contract the virus. We older folks are. So, we keep them honest by making them wash their hands pretty much every time they touch anything. We do our best to ensure they understand the possible consequences of not washing their hands before opening the refrigerator, any drawer or cupboard to get eating utensils, or when they cough. All the news about this virus gives us ample opportunities to get their attention and say, “See what happens when you don’t wash!?”

I have photos of houses and “stuff” that I’ll have to add later. The weak signal we have won’t allow me to upload them with this. So, I’ll just send it off without them and work on the A/V aspect later.

Hope everyone is getting through this scary time OK. We’re praying for everyone.

Now I must stop. Diane is prettying up to go shopping at Safeway in Tillamook. Alone. I’m staying home to work on the furnace. It won’t light and Diane doesn’t want to be here when it blows up while I’m working on it.

Wish me luck.

Hey, Howdy!

It’s been a while since I’ve let you know that I’m still out here causing grief. I’d ask for forgiveness but it really doesn’t matter because you either missed me or you didn’t. Not a problem.

The occasion for this visit is to let folks know that, after a grueling number of months, Adam got the job as Youth Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens. Some of you may recall a previous post where I mentioned Adam and Alicia. We’re very happy for them and they are looking forward to making their home in the St. Helens area. We’ve had the privilege to visit with them a couple of times recently and it was enough exposure for me to actually remember the girls’ names: Ivy, Autumn, Cora. I can even call them by the correct name when I see them. It will be fun getting to know the Pinkston family better.

Cedric spent a couple of weeks at home and had to be back aboard the Nimitz for work today so Diane drove him back to Bremerton yesterday. I was allowed to ride along to keep her company as long as I didn’t ask a lot of questions. We planned to leave home at noon and managed to get gone right on time around 2-2:30. The ultimately goal was to arrive in Bremerton before dark, which we did. After dropping Cedric at his apartment we mossed up to the Trigger Ave. gate in Silverdale to the Naval Station to see if the Navy Lodge had a room available for the night. I called the previous day and was told NO. We’ve discovered that just arriving and asking works well, and they had a room for us. Nifty.

Before checking in we headed back into town to find a place to eat that had decent food, not fast food. After a long trip on the freeway we wound up about a mile away at Fujiama Japanese Steak House. It’s in a little strip mall close to the base and is truly deceptive in appearance. The entry is small but inside is at least 10 Benihana grills surrounded by chairs. Each grill could accommodate about 10 people, so it’s like a family style Benihana. That isn’t part of their advertisement. It’s just a steak house, right? It’s way better than that.

Diane and I split a steak and I inherited all of her broccoli from the vegetable pile. The chef was talented and put on a good show. To start he juggled some raw eggs which he then cooked on the grill. They were destined to be part of the fried rice. Before mixing it all up, however, he went around the table addressing each person in turn, then tossing a small piece of egg which they were supposed to catch in their mouth. Some chose to skip this exercise because they were wearing nice clothes, and others who accepted the challenge saw the egg flying over their heads, or splattering against their cheeks or chins. As it turned out, I was the last one and I caught my piece of egg like a pro. You would have been proud. I’m pretty sure the other diners wanted to applaud, but they didn’t. Diane was one of the decliners which was just fine.

Needless to say, the meal was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Although the steak was good, I’ve already decided that the next time we go there, and we will, I’m getting the shrimp. I was given a couple to sample and they are awesome. And, there were a lot of them for those who ordered them.

In addition to catching my piece of the flying egg, you will be proud to learn that I was the only person at the table who actually ate everything on the plate. Well, Diane ate her plate clean, too, but she gave me those broccoli’s, right, so it didn’t count. Everyone else had to get boxes to remove the left overs.

After a good rest at the Navy Lodge, we got up and headed home, the long way. Lots of side streets are involved in the long way which make trips lots more fun. The first side trip was to discover where the Bremerton Elks Lodge is for future reference. We’ll be going there in June with our Winnebago friends. We don’t have a Winnebago any more but they let us tag along anyway.

After leaving Bremerton Diane began having thoughts of lunch so I searched for something suitable in Shelton, WA. I chose another steak house just because it had a 4 star rating but when we got there we couldn’t find it on the first drive-by. So, we wound up at Blondie’s Cafe which also has a 4 star rating. That’s 4 out of 5, by the way. Just sayin.

I ordered a Denver omelet and Diane had fish and chips. My omelet was tremendous and undoubtedly the best Denver I’ve ever had. Diane’s fish pieces were huge and she could only eat one of the three provided. Another good place to park your rear and enjoy an exceptional meal.

Now we’re home and gearing down for the night. Only one more hour to bedtime.

I’m sure I forgot a bunch of stuff but that’s OK. Diane will refresh my memory if she reads this.

Hope all is well with everyone.

Another God Wink

Everyone knows what a “God Wink” is, right? Sure you do. I believe all of us experience God Winks but we either don’t have identifying names for such events, or we simply accept them as a matter of course as we cruise through our daily routines.

For me a God Wink is something that happens serendipitously. At this point I must admit that I had to look that word up – serendipitously – to see what it means. It just kind of dribble off my fingers and felt like a good choice. According to Webster, I got it right.

Diane and I experience serendipitous events on a regular basis. You know, like choosing a different route to a place visited frequently and finding a lost puppy along the way. Or, stopping at a fast food joint in an unfamiliar city, buying two breakfast sandwiches, then driving back to the freeway through an alley where we discover a person digging through a dumpster for food. Because of serendipity, he got a sandwich I really didn’t need that morning.

Most recently, Diane was having abdominal and back pain for an extended period of time. She finally went to the doctor after her self diagnosis and was diagnosed with UTI. As a precaution her doctor ordered an abdominal CT scan to check for kidney stones. Her Dad had them all the time so it’s possible she may have inherited his ability to produce them.

Diane went to Good Sam Hospital in Portland last Friday afternoon, had the scan, then headed back home.

It’s here that I must explain that we do not live in close proximity to medical facilities that have equipment to perform CT Scans. It’s an hour drive on a good day. During rush hour it just gets longer. Friday afternoon trips to Portland are typically avoided like the plague. But, this was necessary.

On the way home she stopped at Fred Meyer in Scappoose, about 30 miles from the hospital and 10 miles from home. While enjoying this part of her day, doing what he does well (shopping), she gets a phone call from the doctor who reported that the CT tech did a good scan but instead of focusing on the abdominal area, he focused instead on her chest. “How,” you may wonder, as did we, “can a mistake like that happen?” Well, it’s serendipity, pure and simple.

The doctor asked Diane to return to the hospital so they could perform a proper scan of the desired area. Since it was about 5 pm, deep into rush hour(s), she replied, “Well, that’s not going to happen.”

The doctor then asked if she would return Saturday morning. “What time?” Diane asked.

“We open at 7:45 am,” she said.

“Well, that’s not going to happen. Do you have anything later?”

The result of this negotiation was that Diane would return to the hospital at 10 am Saturday morning for the correct scan. The doctor assured Diane there wouldn’t be any charge for the incorrect scan but that she was going to read the results of both anyway. Just because.

Saturday morning Diane got up and made the trip to Portland by herself. That’s her favorite way to go to Portland because being alone allows her to stop wherever she wishes to do pretty much anything she wants. Normally that means a side trip to one of the Goodwill stores along the way. She knows where all of those are. If i had tagged along we would probably have gone to a Harbor Freight, or Home Depot instead.

I stayed home, in my jammies, doing very little, like a good retired person, as I waited for my bride to return safely to me. She always does, but I worry anyway. It’s my job.

Not long after returning home the doctor called to inform her of the results of both scans.

The scan of her abdominal cavity did not reveal anything unusual. She had no evidence of kidney stones which was a huge relief.

Then she revealed the serendipitous results of the first scan, of her chest.

The doctor told Diane she found two spots on her left lung – one 7mm, the other 12mm. We did some investigation and learned that 12mm is about 1/2 an inch. Not such good news, right? Well, without serendipity, those spots would have remained undetected, potentially forever, or until there was nothing that could be done about them. Since they were discovered, she has an appointment to return in 3 months for another CT scan to see if there is any change.

It’s not good news, yet, but it’s important news that might have never been shared without a little bit of serendipity.

With the knowledge that serendipity is on our side, we will continue our daily routine, enjoying each other, trips to the beach, Goodwill, and Scappoose Bagels until it’s time for the checkup scan.

Perhaps the reveal of the next scan will find the spots are gone.

It could happen.