Hello 2018 !!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now it’s time for some football.

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

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.

Sunset Bay State Park and other Stuff

Sorry I haven’t been around to make my normal short, concise, posts, but Diane and I were off planet for a number of days enjoying the Oregon Coast from our perch at Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay. It’s near North Bend, too, and right next to Shore Acres State Park. Shore Acres is the park that has a botanical garden that volunteers decorate every year. Grant MaComie did a story on it not long ago and it’s a nice story about how it all came together. Knowing about this ahead of time, Diane booked another four days, in the same space (A-13) at Sunset Bay that we vacated last Monday. These four days are for the end of November when the lights are all up and blinking. The crews have already begun the task of stringing lights and they will be lit from Thanksgiving thru New Year’s Eve.

Actually, we were only gone for five days but who’s counting? Really. Just five days. We didn’t have cell service, no TV, no internet, no nuthin. We actually had to sit and talk to each other for long periods of time which was interesting and revealing to one of us. With all the distractions of our daily life on Earth we don’t seem to take time to visit like we should. I recommend such a trip like this for everyone. We were in a beautiful place and found that we really didn’t miss all those things that capture our attention for long periods of time.

We did miss Ziva, however. She’s our camper and loves getting away from the other dogs once in a while. As we packed to leave she knew we were leaving without her and did her absolute best to make sure we knew she knew and that she wasn’t a bit happy about it. It was really tough to leave her standing there, all alone in the driveway, as we pulled away from the house to leave.

OK, we didn’t really do that … she was in the house, but she knew we were leaving. I suspect that she slept most of the five days we were away. Truly, she does that when we’re home. She’s a dog. When not chasing something or barking at something, she sleeps.

Normally I jot little notes down on my next post about things I want to share. Kinda like an outline. But it’s not an outline, it’s just a list. To use this program I need the internet so I used the Notes app on my Ipad for the list. I just now tried to bring it up and got a brief glimpse of what I saved, then it just all disappeared. Like magic. Poof! So, now I’ll have to remember stuff to make it worth your time.

We left home at 1:30 pm on Thursday and arrived after 6:30 pm. It’s a long drive (277 miles) and I had to do it all alone because Diane doesn’t feel ready to drive the RV yet. So, we go slow. Making that more of a necessity was the windshield that was really, really a mess. Actually, it was only a problem when cars came at me causing all the dirt smeared on the window to refract the light to the point where I was just kinda guessing where the road was. Another reason for arriving during daylight. It would have been just fine if we could have left home around 9 am as planned, but that never seems to work out. I dislike having to park and hook everything up in the dark and told Diane that if we don’t leave by 9 am on this next trip, we will wait until the next day. Or, we just don’t go. Just before I could stomp my foot for emphasis, she agreed. We’ll see how that works out.

The next morning we got up really late and didn’t do much right away because it was really foggy crappy looking outside. So, we just lounged around and read our books. Later in the afternoon we launched the Toyota and took a trip up and down the road outside the park, then cruised in to Coos Bay to look around. Diane drives the Toyota so I had an opportunity to view the road with a critical eye and couldn’t help but be amazed that I had actually driven a 35.5′ motorhome around those windy turns without once dumping us into a ditch, or the ocean. It was humbling, let me tell ya.

Over the course of the next 4 days we did a lot of reading, watched one DVD movie that we’d both already seen (Dare Devil) and slept a lot. Once in a while we ate something. I can hear many of you thinking that “you watched Dare Devil twice! Really?” Well, yes we did. It was luck of the draw. We’ll never have to watch it again.

We made a few trips to Fred Meyer in Coos Bay, walked up and down their boardwalk for a while, saw a couple of really interesting sea-going vehicles,

and had lunch at Shark Bites. Diane had halibut fish and chips and I had my crab Louie. We both loved our meals. Each piece of Diane’s fish was about an inch thick and cooked to perfection. My Louie had at lease half a pound of Dungeness crab meat on it. Wonderful. The trip was now worth it.

We were able to spend our last day sitting on the beach watching the sun go down on Sunset Bay. Sadly, I failed to bring my phone/camera to capture the moment. Just believe me, it was really pretty. I’ll take pictures when we go back there the end of the month.

Perhaps the following photos will serve to tide you over till then. These are just shots taken around the park.

This is Simpson Reef. Way back ‘when’ the Simpson family owned all of this.

This is the bottom of a tree that apparently blew over a long time ago.

Just me and my lovely bride.

A different look at Simpson Reef in the distance. 

Then, while driving back to the park one day, we came across this and thought you’d enjoy it as much as we did.

The trip home was uneventful.We stopped at the DQ in Reedsport for lunch. Ate inside, then took our drinks and headed north up Highway 101 to Florence, the scene of our last visit to this area a few weeks ago.

One thing I didn’t get while at the beach was a good bowl of clam chowder. I really like that stuff. So, I rummaged around in a bunch of cupboards until I found a can and warmed it up. When it blew up and figured it was done. I was using the saucer as a cover and when it blew it flipped completely over. What fun.

Betty, our County Clerk, called this afternoon to find out if Diane is ready to go to work with the Counting Board tomorrow. I told her that I’m sure she was and that I was currently washing all her underwear to ensure she was properly dressed … then Diane snatched the phone right out of my hand before I had a chance to say goodbye. I thought that was kind of rude

I forgot to mention that I went golfing with the Peal Brothers before we left on our trip and again on the day after we returned. Diane thinks it’s good for me to golf with these guys. So do I.

It was pretty both times.

Steaks and Dog Food

This afternoon I heard the dogs arguing in the living room and had to go see what it was all about before the fur flew. It’s true. The argument was escalating to that point. Actually, it’s only Ziva growling, but it’s a bit scary for me because I know that if they tangle, I’ll have to get between them. They have substantial teeth which makes that move risky for one of us.

When I got to the scene of the event here’s what I found …

That’s an open, and empty, food pouch that the big dogs don’t get to eat. Normally. It belonged to Ozzie. Now, had they ripped the package open from the top instead of the bottom I may have thought one of them retrieved the empty packet from the garbage but the way it was open gave them away.

Perhaps the dogs used this as a teaching moment to say something like, “Jerrie, CLOSE THE STUPID CUPBOARD!”

Or, maybe it was simply them showing off what they can do and to get a sense about how upset I’d be with what they did. You know, not so mad, they could do it again some day. Really mad, they could do it again some day but not too soon.

About the steaks … they are the ones Diane bought to take with us to Detroit Lake last week. They were rib eyes and would have been really good BBQ’d. The problem, as I’m sure you guessed there was one, we left for Detroit Lake Sunday afternoon but didn’t find the steaks in the car trunk until Tuesday. So, they were incarcerated in an unrefrigerated car trunk for over two days. Still, when I picked them up they both still looked nice and pink, and they weren’t warm at all. When I pierced the plastic in which they were encased, I didn’t detect any odors that smelled like spoiled meat and neither could Diane. But, she said e-coli could still be lurking around in there and that I should throw them away.

I just couldn’t do it. They were so pretty, and I really like steak. So, I lit the BBQ and cooked them. Still no suspicious smells, but I cooked them a little longer than the normal 5 minutes a side anyway. Brown all the way through. No red.

So, I put one of them on a plate and started easy with little teeny bites to see if anything happened to me. I ate slow, chewing each bite until it was so well masticated that it could easily have come fresh from a really good blender. Suitable for ingestion by someone with no teeth.

I’ve got to admit that it wasn’t all that satisfying. It took me a while to figure out that it was probably the dried onion I used in lieu of the seasoned salt I normally use which was still at home on a shelf in the kitchen.

Diane’s words about e-coli started rolling around in my head about the time I got half-way through the steak. That, and the wrong flavor of the meat, convinced me that I probably shouldn’t be eating any more steak right then. I kind of lost my taste for meat and decided that common sense dictated that cease and bow to my bride’s superior knowledge about such things.

Then the wait began. I figured it wouldn’t take long for the stomach cramps to begin and was torn between calling an ambulance right away, or just wait for the pain to begin. I decided to wait. I waited for 3 days and nothing happened.

Apparently I’m immune to e-coli, or whatever else could be wrong with meat that should have been totally spoiled due to lack of refrigeration.

Yup. I’m immune. It’s been 7 days and I’m going with the option that e-coli normally strikes 3-4 days after exposure.

That part about e-coli taking up to 10 days to make itself known is a myth.

I may have a different story to tell in three days.

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.


Eclipse Survivors, and Broken Body Parts

Just when Diane thought it was safe to go outside again, news of other Cate wives breaking bones started coming in. At this point in time we’re up to 4 – three arms and a foot, so far. Since Diane was the first to wreck herself, I suppose that kinda makes her a winner of sorts. Three of the breakee’s are wives to we three brothers and the fourth is the wife of a close cousin who is, essentially, a brother. Just before beginning this, I warned the one remaining sister-in-law about this apparently new tradition in our lives hoping that she might escape. All she needs to do is just sit quietly and have others wait on her hand and foot for the next 3 months and she should be safe. The problem with that, however, is that there’s no way she is going to sit quietly for any extended period. She’s just too busy. Getting waited on, I’m sure, she can manage for a long time. Hopefully she’ll see the danger in testing the tradition and be wary of everything.

Taking this a step further, and kind of stepping out on a very flimsy limb (literally), I’ve got to say that the Cate men must be more durable that the women who chose to share out name. Either more durable, or just not clumsy. No, that’s wrong. Can’t use clumsy because if I’m anything it’s clumsy. Really. Not a day goes by where I don’t add a nick or ding to my exterior, some of which require medical intervention to stop the bleeding and ensure I don’t acquire an incurable infection. You can ask Diane and she will totally agree with me. Yes, ask Diane, the one who broke her arm riding her bike.

I shouldn’t talk like that, I suspect, because the arm still bothers her. Mainly, I think, because her doctor told her to use it and to keep doing her PT exercises. She’s doing that. It won’t be long before she will be able to slug me full on with her left hand, but for now she must rely on her right one, holding her punches to ensure she doesn’t endure another injury in a vain attempt to dent this rock-hard body.

She doesn’t actually do that, of course. Just another lie. Also, the only part of me that’s rock hard is my head and she’d never hit me there because it might leave a mark.

On to more fun stuff, like the eclipse. It’s apparent that we survived since I’m sitting here but it was a close call. We got up early on the 21st and drove out to the south jetty of the Siuslaw River but figured we’d never be able to see anything because we could hardly see the road due to the seemingly ever-present coastal fog. For some reason we thought maybe it would go away, but it didn’t. So, we went east on Highway 126 out of Florence until we found a likely spot to park and watch the show. While getting set up a State Trooper stopped by to make sure we were OK and validated our choice for viewing the eclipse. We had Ziva, our dog, but forgot her leash — OK, I forgot her leash — and it was simply pure luck that the Trooper had one he’d found somewhere. He loaned it to us so we would be legal and asked that we just leave it hanging on the guard rail so he could pick it up later. We did that. Nice guy.

We sat there for the entire two-hour event and never once looked at the sun without using our eclipse glasses. Consequently, neither of us went blind. Ziva didn’t either because she’s smart enough to not look directly at the sun for any reason. Only people need to be told stuff like that. We were too far south to enjoy the totality zone, but it was still a good show.

All that made me tired so I’m going to bed now.

Apocolyptic Eclipse, and other Stuff

Does anyone else wonder why the media is making the coming eclipse appear to be, like, the end of the world? Here in Oregon everyone is urged to stock up on food, gas their vehicles, batteries, candles, and be careful with their pets during the 2+ minutes of darkness. It’s like a major disaster is pending.

Early on we heard local media at home treat this event “like” a catastrophe and make sure everyone has all the survival equipment they need to weather the storm, but it seems like the comparison is no longer being made – omitting that reference makes it sound like the real deal. Kind of like “War of the Worlds”.

Diane just checked the internet, which is functioning just fine here, in case you’re wondering, and saw news about all the “Eclipse Traffic” in the Prineville/Bend area. It’s bumper-to-bumper on the major roads in that area. Amazing.

Me? I’m just going to continue like normal, like it’s just another day with a brief bit of welcome shade, right up until the earth explodes. If I’m lucky, I’ll be eating a fudge cycle  when it happens.

Now, add to all that hoopla about the eclipse, we have demonstrations going on that are on the verge of being touted as domestic terrorism by some government officials. Nifty. Hate groups seem to be coming out of the wood work.

To make it worse, the media seems to think the blame for these events fall directly on President Trump’s shoulders. Interesting. These folks have been around far longer than Donald Trump.

Sorry for jumping on that wagon. I normally don’t do that, but all the negative news about what’s going on is disturbing. There doesn’t seem to be anything good happening anywhere according to reporters. So, let me share some with you.

This morning I took the dogs for a walk to the off-leash area for a romp and, hopefully, a major potty stop. It was early and the temp was fairly reasonable at less than 80 something. While there I struck up a conversation with another dog owner, Amber, who lives in Eugene. She found this dog park after looking at all of them in the area and deems it to be the best one around. It’s at least a full acre of fenced ground with water, and lots of sawdust piles in which to play. I always find it interesting that when animals are left to their own devices, they seem to all get along just great.

Anyway, Amber and I talked small talk for a long time, then got down to specifics like, “does she come there often,” and “what’s your favorite color,” and stuff like that. That’s a lie, of course. I didn’t ask her what her favorite color is. I did, however, considering the location and her perceived age (late 20’s), ask her what she taught. I actually asked that .. “what do you teach?”

That raised her eyebrows, thought for a bit, then asked in turn, “did I say something to make you think I am a teacher?”

“No,” I responded, “but it just seemed like the right question.”

“Well,” she said, “I’m a speech therapist. Good guess.”

From there we talked about many things, including dogs, and I suspect we parted company with mutual respect. Her respect for me for not hitting on her like I’m sure many men do because she’s very attractive, and my respect for her because of her dedication to her chosen career. She obviously enjoys what she does and I enjoyed my brief encounter with her, even though I don’t have any idea what her favorite color is.

Diane made another couple of trips to Walmart* today, something she enjoys, then she made another trip this afternoon to get the winning ticket for the $400 million + Power Ball drawing. We’re due to win. Just like everyone else in the good old USofA, and Canada. Who knows? Maybe this is the one. It is, after all, the new American Dream.

For being good, Diane stopped on her last trip back to get dinner at Taco Bell.

Now for some photos for those of you who made it this far …

For most of the day, when Diane was out shopping in air-conditioned spaces, this is what my view was when I opened my eyes.

By tipping my head up a little, this is what I saw.

After walking the dogs a little ways from the parking spot, this is what I saw on the way back.

Looking a bit to my left I could see our nearest neighbor. The sites here are very far apart. That neighbor, incidentally, serenades everyone at night with either his banjo or his bass. He told me he’s in a bluegrass band and needs to keep his fingers limber. He’s very good at his craft … fun to listen to.