Family Camp – 2020

Grace Baptist Church Family Camp is an event we attend every year as honorary Baptists. That’s mainly because we are related to some of the members and also because they just like us. The “also” is an opinion but I’m sticking with it.

We departed civilization on Tuesday, July 28th and completed the the trip, that normally takes about an hour, in about an hour. It’s really not that far away … just over the hill about 5 miles from Vernonia. Vernonia is only about 25 miles from home and Google maps thinks it’s only a 38 minute drive. What Google Maps doesn’t know is that the road is only 2 lanes and it’s very curvy. Therefore, I’ll stand by my claim that it’s about an hour away, which it truly is, unless Diane’s driving.

I will surely be in trouble for revealing that last bit …

The camp doesn’t officially begin until Friday but we die hards (the old people) arrive early to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before the children descend to make a joyful noise. We took three of them with us so we had a head start, and that’s just fine. They were good as gold the entire time.

Since Vernonia is only about 32 miles from Forest Grove, where the Sunset Grove Golf Course is, it was decided that I should meet Doug there Wednesday morning for golf. I figured, “What the heck, I’m in the area, so why not do that?” So, I did. Turns out that the golf course is closer to Scappoose, where Doug lives, than it is to Big Eddy. But, I made it on time and we had a wonderful time. We always do. I lost, of course, because I always do. You’d think that since I always keep score I’d win one once in a while. The trouble is, even with fudging the numbers a little, Doug still wins.

Back to camp …

Big Eddy Park is located along the Nehalem River just off Highway 47, the road from Vernonia to Clatskanie. Big Eddy Park and I go back a long ways to April 20, 1968, when my big brother, Jack, thought it would be a good idea for me to participate in the Nehalem River Boat Race. Seemed like a fun thing to do so I was all in. What wasn’t related until later was that as we passed under each bridge along the way he would drop half a case of beer to us. After a couple of bridges I figured out that it wasn’t really a race at all. It was just a reason to float down the river and drink beer.

The fact that I was getting married later that day was the primary reason for involving me in the ‘race’. Jack, you see, was my best man and it was his job to make the day memorable. He did that.

When we finally made it ashore at Big Eddy I admit I was ready for a nap. I had no idea what time it was, but I remember getting to the church in plenty of time for the ceremony and I totally remember the entire ceremony. It was awesome!

Back to camp, again …

Diane and I spent time around the camp fire with Daniel, Jennifer, Lydia, and Jeran, and anyone else who had a notion to join us. Yes, we were socially compliant, keeping our distance, but I’m pretty sure we could have sat a little closer because the fire surely burned up any virus bits that came into our area.

The kids, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie, ran wild all day, every day, until they got hungry. Then we fed them so they could go out for another round.

The bottom of the river throughout Big Eddy Park is covered with river rock. Those are the nicely rounded rocks that don’t kill your feet when you step on them barefoot unless you’re old like me. Then you wear shoes. Kids spend a lot of time looking for the pretty rocks when they aren’t actively floating around on an inner-tube. Here’s the best rock of the day that a little girl found:

Pure agate. Biggest one I’ve ever seen in the wile.

Here are my girls in a rare moment of inactivity …

Lydia, Gilligan, Baylee, Jerrie

Bronson even came along for a couple of days but had to leave because it was all a bit stressful for him.

Bronson

Diane made camping more homey with her kitty slippers …

Jennifer and Daniel cooked gourmet meals twice a day throughout the entire stay because they are on the Whole 30 diet …

I tried some of it and it was really good.

Jennifer braided hair for anyone who had hair long enough and wanted it done. Mine wasn’t quite there, yet, so i missed out. Little Jerrie didn’t, though …

Gilligan, Jeran, Daniel, and Lydia spent a lot of time running their long boards around the park. Lydia is the only one I could capture. The others were just too fast for me …

We came home last Sunday afternoon, when church service was over, then returned the children to their rightful owners, and took. naps.

Camping is hard work.

Serendipity

A week or so ago, someone’s adult Daughter received a phone call from a friend of her Mother-in-law who shared a story about a young 9-months-pregnant mother of two, 5 and 7. Her children are in foster care and she knew she would make a better choice to give her baby to a Christian family and give him a great life. She sought help from the Mother-in-law’s friend who, in turn, sought help from the adult Daughter.

The Adult Daughter immediately thought about engaging her pastor for assistance, but he wasn’t available. However, the Children’s Minister was.

After digesting the situation, and understanding the concern for an immediate need, the Children’s Minister ended the call saying she would call back soon.

When she did, it was with a solution to the problem.

It turns out the Children’s Minister and her husband took all of the necessary training for adopting a child through foster care last year, but they were never called to serve. Then the pandemic created a situation where officials were afraid to move anyone anywhere. So, the Minister’s family went without a call but continued to pray for an opportunity to provide a good home to a child in need, and a potential sibling for their own daughters, 5 and 7.

The Children’s Minister told the Adult Daughter the she and her husband wanted the baby. The entire situation was like a God Send in that it came at an opportune time for a family excited and ready for a child, and for the expectant mother who desperately wanted a loving family for her baby.

On the surface it appears there may have been a lot of twists and turns to this situation but in reality it only took two phone calls to ease the mind of a young mother, and raise up the spirits of another. All the potential possibilities of who to call for help resulted in a straight line from a problem to a solution in one day.

As of today, the baby has joined his new family and is doing fine, as is his birth mother, and his adoptive mother. That it all happened so fast is amazing.

If that doesn’t make you believe that higher powers were involved in the decisions of who to call, we need to talk.

With a little embellishment, this could be a very enlightening movie, don’t you think?

Happy 4:20 to Me and Diane

A few years before 4:20 became a code for “let’s smoke pot,” Diane and I were married on that day, which today happens to be our 52nd celebration of that union. Why certain people chose to use this code for their activities isn’t clear to me, they just did. It doesn’t matter. What’s important to me is that we claimed it first. So, there.

To make it to the wedding I went home on leave from the Navy between duty stations to capture my bride. I was transported from the USS Cleveland, off the coast of the Viet Nam DMZ to Danang where I awaited a day for my flight home. According to the folks who made my air reservations, Okinawa was my next duty station and that’s where they ended my flight. I was a long way from Warren and on a time limit so I was a little flustered. After talking to a lot of people, I convinced them that they owed me a trip to CONUS (Continental US) since I was transported from Viet Nam and I wasn’t going to spend my 30 days of leave on Okinawa.

I was booked on a flight leaving the next day and stayed awake the entire 30 some hours to make sure nothing changed and I didn’t miss it.

When I boarded the Air Force C-141 for my flight I wasn’t prepared for the cargo they were hauling back to the states. The plane was full of aluminum caskets containing the remains of GI’s killed in Viet Nam. I didn’t count the caskets, but I felt compelled to walk amongst them, reading the names of who they contained. It wasn’t likely that I would know any of them, and I didn’t, but there was a need in me to do that. There was no pomp and circumstance involved in their loading (to my knowledge) so my little tiny bit of recognition seemed to be important. This was in 1968 when military people were generally despised by the masses.

The flight ended for me in Anchorage, Alaska where I voluntarily jumped ship and got a flight south to Portland. In Anchorage I called Diane to alert her of my pending arrival and boarded a more suitable airplane to Seattle. When I arrived there, I called Diane again to let her know that I would be in Portland in about 30 minutes.

Although Warren is about an hour’s drive to PDX, Diane made it there before my flight. Part of that was because she was driving my 1966 Chevelle Sport Coupe. It was quick, and she was determined.

She gathered me up and got me home on the 16th or 17th of April. Thankfully, all of her plans were in place for the big event. All I had to do was show up.

She selected the 20th because both of our birthdays are on the 20th and she thought I would be inclined to remember it.

The wedding was awesome. I got to marry my high school sweetheart and Bethany Lutheran Church was filled to capacity for us. It was an amazing turnout for two skinny kids from Scappoose (me) and Warren (her).

My leave period ended very quickly, too quickly, before I had to catch my flight back to Okinawa. Diane couldn’t go with me because she didn’t have her passport. She did, however, fly with me to Travis AFB, her first time on an airplane.

When she got her passport we arrange her travel from Portland to Okinawa, a trip she had to make on her own. She was a brave woman, but I knew that.

Taking that first step with me turned out to be a 20-year career for her as a Navy Wife. She professes to have loved pretty much every minute of it. So have I, and we’re still enjoying our time together.

Here’s the last selfie I took of us together at Cape Lookout State Park. This is where we were when the pandemic began and everyone was ordered to stay inside.

Another Day in Paradise

Today was another sunny one here at the beach. It got to 65 at one point as we navigated back to camp from Tillamook. We braved the crowds because Diane needed paper towels. Fred Meyer didn’t have any, but Safeway did. She did, however, score some chocolate covered Peeps at Freddies. She also got a small knife sharpener at my request because all the big knives are dull like rocks.

Once we got home I immediately sharpened all those knives and also the one I carry in my pocket. I’ve been whittling a little and found it a bit dull. They all sharpened right up.

Then we took a walk to the beach because the tide’s out and there’s actually one we can walk on. The last few times we’ve been there the tide was in and splashing right up against the rocks with no place to walk.

Crafty people were there ahead of us.

While Diane soaked up the vitamin D, I wandered around looking at likely sticks to whittle, found a few then went back to her log and whittled til I cut my thumb. That signaled the end to whittling because I was getting blood all over my whittling stick. Little cuts are easily remedied because I carry bandaids in my cell phone case just for that reason. I have a stunning variety of them available at all times. But, it was time to return to shelter anyway, so, we went back to the RV.

We had a concert scheduled for our church service this coming Sunday but Governor Brown has banned gatherings of 25 or more, and President Trump trimmed that to 10. I was going to cancel it tomorrow, but the group, New Legacy Project, beat me to it. Their scheduler cancelled all upcoming concert dates for the foreseeable future for this group of talented young men and recalled them to Nashville. It’s sad to cancel, but better to be safe for all concerned. This would have been their fifth visit to our humble little church. If you ever have an opportunity to attend one of their events, they are free, please do. You won’t be disappointed.

Now it’s time for sustenance and a movie. Tonight it’s going to be “My One and Only”. It’s a Renee Zellweger movie and we like her.

Small World Stuff

Considering all the not so good things that have happened over the last couple of weeks, this last week has restored a semblance of normalcy and happiness to our lives.

The good stuff started on Thursday the 14th when brother Jack had his aortic valve replaced and he came through with flying colors. He’s been waiting for this since he was about 9 years old, I think. That’s a guess, of course. I really don’t know when it was determined to be necessary. The point is, at this time, he got it done, he’s home, and it’s all good. Wynette didn’t actually say it but I’m sure she’s convinced he’s good for another 20-30 years. Makes me happy.

Then, on the 19th, sister Ruth had back surgery, not her first rodeo, and it also went well. Last I heard she was still in a little pain but at a lower level of normal than she’s experienced over the past many years. We’re happy she got some relief.

On the 20th it just kept getting better when we loaded up the RV and headed south to Keizer, Oregon to visit with our old Winnebago friends Terry, Carolann, Susie, Cliff, Les, Sophie, Pete, and Jeannie. We were invited to spend our time in Keizer at their Elks club RV park. Getting in was no problem and we submitted the required funds and got set up.

That first night we all gathered for dinner at Les & Sophie’s house for the traditional pot luck. We could do that because Les & Sophie actually live in Keizer, unlike the rest of us. Pete & Jeannie live just a short drive south, on the other side of Salem. Pete and Les are brothers. The rest of us are from other various parts of the country and aren’t, to the best of my knowledge, related to each other in any way. But, you just never know.

The next day we all went shopping. Diane took the girls, and Les took the boys. I would have driven the boys but before leaving home Diane forgot to remind me to put my wallet in my pocket so I drove the RV hundreds of miles without a driver’s license on my body. Thankfully, it was an uneventful trip, and no one ratted me out, so the police weren’t involved.

When we returned to our respective RVs from shopping, we discovered that during our absence Diane, me, Cliff, and Susie had been evicted from the Elks property because of a new rule that prohibits members from inviting guests to stay there. We aren’t Elks members. It was a little later in the afternoon when this happened, but Diane was able to secure a couple of spots at a nearby Good Sam park for about twice the price. But, we had a new home for the next couple of days. And it was a really nice one at the Phoenix RV & Storage Park.

That second evening we returned to Les & Sophie’s home to celebrate “Friendsgiving”. We did that since we knew we would be apart for Thanksgiving. It was a very good substitute, and one we can celebrate whenever we get together. We did it with all the normal Thanksgiving trimmings and it was terrific. I had to sit at the kid’s table for this meal. I’m not sure why. Apparently I was a little unruly at the pot luck the previous day.

On the 22nd we guys visited Harbor Freight to pick up some necessary “stuff” then went back to the Elks RV Park where Terry & Les raced their electric scooters. There was a lot of posturing and chest pounding leading up to the race about how Terry’s new seat cost more than Les’s shooter (which doesn’t have a seat). When it was all said and done the rig with a seat was the clear winner.

Sadly, that didn’t stop the chest pounding and only primed the pump for cheaper and faster scooters. This could really get ugly. Since we’re all connected I might know what’s happening and can share results.

Now for the small world stuff … after the shopping was done we all descended on a Taco Del Mar for lunch and had a nice visit. Men in one booth, women in another. Kind of like a high school dance. While listening to Terry relate a story to Less he mentioned someone named Pinkston which caused my ears to perk up.

Diane should have been closer because she loves it when my ears perk up. She says it makes me look like a little chihuahua puppy. Makes your heart melt a little, doesn’t it?

I waited for a reasonable pause in Terry’s story to ask about the Pinkston reference and to discover if he knew Adam Pinkston. He said “sure, He’s married to Alicia and they have a bunch of daughters.” I responded, “Huh” because I also know Adam … Alicia is my cousin.

Small World.

Compounding this baffling revelation is that Daniel and our daughter Jennifer invited me and Diane to lunch with Adam and Alicia in Warren just a few days ago. You see, Adam has applied for a job at Daniel and Jennifer’s church in St. Helens and they didn’t remember the family connection until the a little memory from long ago caused Daniel to ask me if Adam was a cousin.

Very interesting.

I love this small world stuff. In this expanding world it’s getting us closer and closer together all the time.

How fun is that?

So, I ask that you pray for the leadership at Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens to make the right decision to hire Adam. He’s the right guy.

Now, about the lack of photos …

I really did try to add them but, sadly, I upgraded my MacBook to the new operating system and when I open my photos application it initiates a procedure to update my photo library. It’s a brutal process. I let it run for 3 days and it got all the way up to 75% complete before I lost patience and terminated Photos. I thought that maybe if I turned my computer all the way off and did a hard restart something different would happen. But it didn’t. It was still painfully slow. Now I’m convinced there’s a bug in the bush that I must discover before I can access my photos on this machine. Once I figure it out I’ll revisit this post and add some color.

I’m sure there are other alternatives but they will have to wait until we return home.

That’s it for now. Hope everyone has a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving celebration. Keep us in mind when you think about all those other people who choose to wander around on potentially icy freeways at this time of year.

Till We Meet Again

Yesterday was a continuation of sadness for those of us that Nancy left behind. Stuffing the sanctuary and basement, over 300 people attended her funeral at our little church which definitely violated at least one fire safety rule but none of the dignitaries objected.

Many of those attending extended our parking facilities to include both sides of all the roads in the area and a large unused portion of Bethany Memorial Cemetery which Howard made available. The Columbia County Sheriff was notified about the expected overabundance of traffic so all was good. It was pretty amazing.

First Lutheran Church ladies showed up and took over kitchen duties so Bethany ladies could attend the service. That’s not a surprise because Bethany and First Ladies have worked with with each other for many years, serving each other as needed. Pretty special.

Everything was planned and replanned but as plans go, they don’t always play out correctly in the end. So it was for us. The one that went well was Rich’s efforts to wirelessly stream the service to a projector in the basement. He worked on it for days trying to work out problems with the sound to go with the pristine picture. He solved it about 30 minutes prior to the service and it worked perfectly. The easy part, playing a photo DVD in the sanctuary, didn’t work so well due to electrical issues. Actually, it was due to lack of electricity in AV corner of the church caused by the need in the basement to plug just one more thing into the overloaded circuits. I think it was another coffee pot but that’s a guess. Might have been a crock pot.

Since the service was in progress, and the basement was overflowing with people blocking access to the electrical panel I just warned those who were speaking that they’d have to talk a little louder since their microphones wouldn’t work.

They did, and it was good.

After the service Nancy was transported about 1/4 mile to her spot in Bethany Memorial Cemetery behind the church. It was appropriate that she was walked the entire way flanked by her pall bearers who all wore sneakers and had Nancy’s running/walking medals hung around their necks. They walked her home.

Then, most of the 300 attendees returned to the church for a pot luck lunch. Part of that was baked ham and turkey. I had the honor of slicing all of the meat on our handy-dandy meat slicer so I truthfully told everyone that I touched every piece of meat there.

Nancy approved.

We got home around 5:30 pm, watched a few recorded shows then went to bed. After about 20 minutes, before Diane had a chance to fall asleep, she jerked upright and asked me if I had turned off the heater in the lady’s restroom. Of course, I hadn’t even thought I made sure the door was locked. It didn’t occur to me to check the heater because Nancy always did that.

So, Diane got up and went back to the church to check. I offered to do it or to go with her but she refused so I stayed in bed and fell asleep before she returned. This morning she told me the heater was indeed still on so it was good she returned. Diane’s convinced Nancy reminded her to check it. I’m not surprised.

Random Thoughts In No Particular Order

I left you wondering if I was going to figure out how to hook up the satellite system and I’m sure you are all expecting a report of my success. Well, I hate to disappoint you, but it never worked. So, I put everything back the way it was when we got the rig and just closed that little door. Instead of watching TV, we wound up playing lots of cribbage, walked the dog a lot, and actually talked to each other. I learned stuff, like Diane’s favorite color is Yellow, she’s really not French even though her maiden name is French, and she was only 14 when we got married. I was afraid she was going to tell me we were distant cousins at some point, but that never happened. Doesn’t mean we aren’t, just that she didn’t say it.

Bob and Steffani, my brother Jack’s oldest brother’s oldest daughter, have been visiting for the last few days after delivering Maryssa and Matt back to Salem to finish off the summer. A big plus out of the trip was that Under Armour was having a huge sale at the outlet stores in Woodburn where Matt works. Now they have to buy another suitcase to get everything home. I think they got socks for all their neighbors.

At some point during their stay, Steffani purchased a six-pack of Pepsi to consume while watching Matt and his brother play 3 on 3 basketball in Salem. It was a tournament. Maryssa was a pretty good basketball player in high school and couldn’t keep from giving pointers to the brothers because they were struggling with scoring. At one point one of them tossed the ball to Maryssa who promptly tossed it up and swished it from the sidelines. Point made, both literally and figuratively.

The Pepsi came home with B&S because they could only open 2 of the bottles. None of the manly men playing in the tournament could open them, Steffani couldn’t open them, Bob couldn’t open them, and I was never asked to try. That was OK. Since they were such a challenge we dropped by Wal-Mart* on the way to dinner yesterday, at Mark’s On The Channel, so Steffani could return them for bottles that would open. She returned quickly and reported that she never made it past the Wal-Mart* greeter who asked how she could help. Steffani explained and handed the bottles to the lady, who was in a wheel chair, and she took one of the bottles and twisted the top off with no problem. She did the same to the remaining three, solving the problem, and handed them back to a startled Steffani who was wondering about the veracity of the men populating her life. How could a frail little old lady, in a wheel chair, open bottles that young, healthy studs couldn’t? I guess the lesson here is that we should never underestimate the power of someone based on visual evidence alone.

This is us sitting at our table while dining at Mark’s On The Channel:

For those of you wondering how the meal went I’m proud to report that I didn’t get even one speck of my fish on my clothing. It was really too good to waste in such a manner. Bob had a hamburger with bacon jam on it, we other three had Alaskan Halibut which was wonderful. Bob said the jam was pretty good.

A question came up on Sunday about why the bench seats in a church are called pews. A little fumblefinger research provided me with this:

Origin

Late Middle English (originally denoting a raised, enclosed place in a church, provided for particular worshippers): from Old French puye ‘balcony’, from Latin podia, plural of podium ‘elevated place’.

That was going to be my second guess. My first guess was was all about hygiene and whether or not parishioners routinely engaged in bathing rituals beyond baptism way back in time. Just thought you should know.

Last Saturday Diane and I attended my 55th High School Reunion at Trojan Park. Trojan used to be a nuclear power plant owned by PGE and the first place I went to work in 1989 after retiring from the Navy. It’s the one where Homer Simpson worked. That’s true. It’s not mentioned in the link, but I read it somewhere. It’s obviously true because Matt Groning’s point of reference for all things concerning Homer were those surrounding Portland, Oregon.

Anyway, the Scappoose High School class of 1962 held their 55th reunion at the park and it was catered by Sunshine Pizza in St. Helens. It was good to see all those old people again and I’m sad that I didn’t get to visit with all of them for long periods of time. Our class is controlled by the “Tarbell Twins” and we will do pretty much anything they tell us to do. They are absolutely super humans. In the past we’ve always had pot lucks for our food but this time it was catered and so much better. Not the food, so much, but the ability to just graze and visit without worrying about food. Still, “The Twins”, Evelyn & Eva, were there making sure everything was perfect. It was, and we appreciated it. Now, let me see if I can remember those who were there that I actually looked in the eye: Eva, Evelyn (of course), Sam & David (another set of twins), Jimbo, 2 more David’s, Delores (another twin), Darrell, Vern, John, 3 Larry’s, Mary Ann, Phyllis, Harriet, Josette, Don, another Delores, Judy, Jim, Tom, Karen, Howard, and me. Here’s what we all look like at 73 years old:

I want everyone to know that I compiled the list of names above the photo before looking at the photo. I was one off on the count for a long time until I remember that, gee, I’m in the photo, too. I’m the guy in the green shirt ion the middle next to the really short girl (Delores). Here’s the list in order, top to bottom, left to right:

  1. David, Tom, John, Don, David, Larry, Darrell, Larry
  2. Howard, Jim, Vern (these guys kinda made up their own row of 3)
  3. Eva, David, Harriett, Josette, Delores, Jerrie, Jimbo, Larry, Delores, Sam, Karen
  4. Judy, Mary Ann, Evelyn, and Phyllis

I found out at the reunion that some of those folks actually waste their time reading my posts so all errors will be corrected, I’m sure.

On Sunday afternoon Diane, I, Bob & Steffani attended a bible lesson presented by our very own Jeran. He’s been helping with them as his Senior Project. He did a good job and all the kids just love him. His goal is to become a Youth Pastor which is perfect for him. He’s totally focused on this goal and knows exactly where he’s going in life. Pretty impressive for a 17-year-old.

After the bible study, we went to Scappoose for dessert at DQ. That’s where I get my occasional chocolate malt. I just love those things. Today’s treat, however, made itself known to me in the form of heartburn, something I’ve been avoiding lately with a chocolate-less diet. So, I’m either going to have to quit getting those things, or just get them earlier in the day, like for breakfast, so I can sleep well at night.

Bob and Steffani left this morning allowing us to reclaim all the space they’ve been taking up with their presence. Don’t get me wrong … we love having them visit, any time they wish. Them being here doesn’t impact us in any way except when it comes to food. Diane feels that a good host would make meals available on a regular basis but I’m less inclined in that direction. I figure they are adult humans and fend for themselves. So, there’s that little point of contention. The compromise is, of course, that we go out to eat a lot. It works.

Rabbits & Eggs

Though it’s a day late, Happy Easter, a time of year when many kids get to eat their fill of Cadbury Eggs, and other assorted candy. For many of them, that’s the reason for Easter. They don’t understand the real reason. Perhaps it’s because they are confused with the concept of a rabbit delivering eggs on the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’ve heard the reasons before, but that information never made it to long-term memory. Perhaps because I was unwrapping a chocolate rabbit at the time.

Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I did a brief internet search and discovered that the eggs are residue from a pagan ‘thing’ where kids were sent out in search of wild game eggs for breakfast on a specific day. Since wild fowl eggs are hard to find they resorted to chickens because they are easier to catch, most of the time. The fact that they did this the same day as Jesus’ resurrection is a coincidence. I did not find any credible evidence about how the rabbit got involved other than the fact that rabbits, due to a special gene, are incredibly fertile and can pop out tons of little rabbits in a very short period of time.

That’s probably why parents purchase their kids little chickens, in addition to lots of chocolate, instead of rabbits for Easter.

Yes, I know that makes no sense at all. Just like rabbits and eggs.

Wondering about Stuff, Quilts, and a BLT

This morning as I lay trapped by a cat on our couch, I got to wondering. Not about anything specific, but about things in general. I find that life is much less stressful if I generalize everything and don’t dwell on specifics. Specifics require concentration and knowledge about actual “stuff”. It’s much easier to just make up things … for instance …

I was released from the mother ship just a few days ago and when I got home I couldn’t wait to get to my computer to tell everyone about that incredible experience. It was really awesome. But, as soon as I touched my computer things started going haywire in the electronic world and finally ended in the demise of my treasured Apple iMac computer. I fiddled with it for a couple of days before giving up and seeking the help of the Best Buy Geek Squad. I was so distraught (ask Diane) that I took the old iMac to the store without first making an appointment, like Apple Folks do at the Apple Store, but they took it in hand with the promise that they would extract all the data they could find and export it to the 1TB drive I provided. Knowing, deep down in my heart, that I’d never see the old iMac run properly again, I purchased a new one to take home. Like all Apple products, it wasn’t cheap, but it’s really nice and I’m used to it. So there.

Anyway, once home I extracted the new iMac from its box, found the new keyboard and mouse, got new batteries for both and proceeded to get it all set up. The first problem I encountered was with the keyboard. It’s wireless, but there’s no place to put the batteries. As a matter of fact, the HDD is about half as thick as a AA battery and just a little thinner than a AAA battery. Discovering this prompted me to turn the mouse upside down, which I did, and noticed right away that there isn’t a battery cover on it, either. A mystery, but quickly solved when I noticed the Lightening port which indicated I was dealing with a futuristic mouse like the ones the aliens use. A more thorough investigation of the keyboard revealed the same port on it. That would, I surmised,explain the presence of the brand new lightening cable that was packaged with the keyboard and mouse.

Setting those two items in front of the new iMac I turned on the power, trusting that the keyboard and mouse were truly already paid like the instructions said. They were and things worked just great. All that’s missing is all the data I had on the old iMac. It’s gone into the ozone, headed for a fiery demise on a journey to nowhere. Sad. I had 42,000+ photos on that computer, as well as about a ton of documents, that I’ll never see again. Thankfully, I uploaded all the photos to my iCloud server a couple of weeks ago, but just hadn’t made it to uploading the documents. I know, however, that those documents are lurking around here somewhere on a wayward thumb drive, or on the My Cloud drive I used to use for backing up the old iMac. Regarding the latter … it quit backing up recently and apparently convinced this 4TB drive that there wasn’t anything on it. I know that’s a lie but I can’t yet prove it because of login issues. Yes, I’m having those. Something about not knowing the password. That information, of course, was on the old iMac.

Now I’m sitting at this new computer that’s really, really fast … mainly because there’s really nothing on it. Yet. I do have it hooked to my iCloud, wherever that is, and you’ll all be happy to know I can see all those photos. They are safe. The really big item I’m missing is the spreadsheet I made using Excel that provides all the details I need to be debt free in three years. It took a while to make it because it has a bunch of formulas in it that I’ve added over time. If I can’t recreate this thing then I’ll never get out of debt.

I was going somewhere more interesting at the start of this but it’s gone, now. So, I’ll stay with the computer for a while.

Diane took me to Portland yesterday to give up the old iMac for the work described, and on the way home we were stranded on Highway 30 for a couple of hours to accommodate the actions of an idiot driver who thought it would be OK to pass a bunch of people in the center median – a big no-no. When trying to regain the lane he apparently hit a van and caused it to flip over. For those of you familiar with Highway 30 this happened near the weigh station. We learned today that no one was injured in the accident except for the hundreds and hundreds of motorists trapped in the requisite traffic jam going both ways for miles. Nifty. Thankfully, both Diane and I are retired, and it was a bright sunny day, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the view, one of which was a flock of geese that landed in the overflow lakes from the Willamette Slough. We watched them paddling north, our direction, and we couldn’t keep up. It was OK. We finally made it through and made it home. The dogs were glad, but they’re glad to see us when we come back after a 3 minute walk to get the mail. It’s like they thought we’d be gone forever.

This morning the Geek Guys called to report that they were unable to extract any data from the iMac because it looked like it had recently been restored. I’m pretty sure that’s something I did while fiddling around trying to figure it out on my own. That’s what I get for thinking I know stuff, ya know?

After absorbing this information we made another trip to Portland to retrieve the failed unit and get the $80 refund for the fee charged to transfer data to the new HDD I mentioned earlier. That drive, by the way, is really tiny and it hardly weighs anything. But, it’s got enough room to make continuous back ups on this new iMac. It’s amazing.

Going back to last week, there’s more fun stuff that happened. The 37th Annual Quilt Show was hosted at Bethany by the WELCA ladies. It’s quite an event and this year was the best in many years. Here’s what our humble little church looked like for last Friday and Saturday …

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These photos were taken before the doors opened to the hoards waiting for access. Sadly, I wasn’t around to get photos of those folks. I think I was home sleeping. No! I was home trying to get that iMac to work. That’s it!

This is Angela and Diane (my 1st wife) working hard to wrap things up so the drawing for the quilt winner could commence.

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To end, here’s the BLT Diane made me for lunch yesterday. It was awesome.

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Now I must quit because my eyes burn. A lot. I need eye dropsThe font size on the new iMac gets way smaller than the old one. Really, really tiny. I like it that way so I can get lots and lots of open windows in view.

Chaos and My Brother

OK, folks. I just gotta tell ya that winter is getting old around here. We wound up with about 12 inches of snow a few days ago after multiple sub-freezing days, and it’s still here. This morning it was 12 degrees out there at 6 when my bladder alerted me to an urgent need. The dogs, of course, were rarin’ to go plow through the snow in search of critters that may have passed through the field during the night. The cat, however, doesn’t have any interest in going out to play in the snow. I don’t think she’s been outside for three days now. We think she’s kinda hibernating because she sleeps all day and all night and hardly eats, except for the residue from our yogurt cups. So, she’s ingesting only what she can use to ensure there’s no need to poop. Wish I could do that. Sleep all day, I mean.

Bottom line, this isn’t  very Oregon-like weather for our neck of the woods. Ya, I know … we don’t live in the woods, we live on the outskirts of town. I should have said that, “our neck of the outskirts of town,” I guess, but it just doesn’t have the same ring.

Twelve degrees! Maybe I should talk about something else.

Since most of my time has been spent inside I decided to tackle some inside projects that have been hanging around for a while. OK, for years. Considering my predilection for leaving tools in exactly the last spot I used them, it’s hard to find stuff sometimes. Well, like all the time, actually. I go in my shop and look around thinking that, “One day I’m going to straighten this all up.” Well, making a committment to work on finishing some projects makes it a necessity now.

The first thing I did was sit down and make a plan, listing all of the things that needed to happen to, say, saw a board in half. The ‘board’ in question is actually one of six I need to cut to finish the oak trim around the three windows we had Anderson install a couple of years ago. This is the lumber I have left to do them, but I need two 1×5 12′ boards for the big window. Ignore everything except the nicely stacked boards on the folding table up front.img_1553

Before looking for the boards, I had make room on the floor so I’d have a place to put all the stuff I’ve piled on the saw since the last time I used it for building Diane’s pantry drawers. That table saw will hold a lot of stuff.

The stuff on the floor included two or three Avon box lids full of all sorts of screws and bolts that I’ve not been able to part with over the years. I sat on the floor and went through them all, pulling out only the ones with phillips heads, or the shiny ones that need a flat blade driver. The rest I dumped into an empty Avon lid. The ones I kept went into a much smaller bucket. The assumption is that I’ll eventually find that bucket during the final stages of this cleanup.

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Then I removed everything from the work bench I started modifying in 2008. I removed the top boards, which weren’t fastened down, to eliminate that tempting horizontal surface. My original plan with that section of work bench was to make it as tall as the table saw, which it is, so I could use it as a outfeed extension of the saw. That would make sense if the bench wasn’t against the wall so now I’ve decided to lower it more and make it 29 inches high so I can sit at it and do stuff. That means I need to take it apart so I can trim off the excess. I’m talking about that thing in the back with the green paint on it. It used to be a ping-pong board.

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To trim off the excess means I need to unload the saw. To unload the saw I need more floor space, or another table, on which to stack it. Or, I can just add it to the other side of the work bench and no one will ever know.

Before I can use the saw I will need to remove all the excess stuff to Diane’s room so she can go through it to see if there’s anything of interest to her. She can’t do that right now because she’s busy going through old magazines so we can take them to recycle. She’s been doing that for about a week. There were lots of magazines but she’s done an excellent job and now there are just a few. I went through some of my magazines, too, and did purged most of them.

My ultimate goal for the work benches, both sides, is to build sliding draws, shallow ones, that will hold stuff I’ll actually use. That’s where most of the stuff in boxes on the floor is going to go.

Do you see this vicious circle I’ve created for myself? It’s just terrible, but I’ve made it work. I just want it to work better now that I’m more infirm and prone to dancing sideways once in a while. Extra stuff on the floor doesn’t help that at all. If I used my cane like my doctor ordered I would be better off, but that would leave me only one hand to stack stuff. Here’s some more chaos that I must deal with.

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Then, when all that has gone away, I must find time to do something with these old windows I salvaged from the old house we moved out of in 2007. Yeah, they’ve been in the basement that long.

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Yesterday Diane and I braved Highway 30 and drove to Portland to honor my appointment for a CT scan at Good Sam Hospital. It took us about an hour to get there, normal, and it wasn’t a terrible trip. Lots of ice on the road making it pretty lumpy. From the time we parked in front of the hospital until we were back in the truck was a total of about 20 minutes. The scan took about 2 minutes. The rest of the time was spent walking to the imaging desk, and checking in. The scan was ordered to see if there was anything in my head. I’ve had them before and, at that time, there wasn’t anything there. That should confirm what a lot of you may think about some of the things I do and say. Nothing there.

From Good Sam we headed to Hillsboro for breakfast at Elmer’s, then, thinking ahead, we went to Costco for toilet paper which we knew we’d need as soon as we got back home. The toilet paper and ‘other’ stuff only cost $400! It snowed at Costco, too.

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The trip home was tricky because Cornelius Pass is closed so road crews can remove all the trees that succumbed to the extra weight of snow and ice. That meant we had to take Highway 26, bad on a good day, all the way into town to hook up with I-405 then Highway 30. I was driving or I would have taken photos.

We stopped and visited Diane’s Mom, Jean, before going home to make sure she wasn’t out of food and that she was weathering the storm OK. She was, and she’s in good spirits. A tough Lady for sure.

By the time we got home the dogs had been alone for almost 8 hours, and the cat was sitting on the front porch. The cat was not a happy camper. We didn’t know she was out when we left. Maybe she’ll start checking in and out like the dogs do. They never get left outside.

When we got home Diane insisted that ‘we’ give Panzee a bath because she smells terrible. So we (I) took her to my shower because it’s got a low threshold so I didn’t have to pick her up, and it’s a confined space that she can’t escape from. It was touch and go for a while until she discovered that the warm water felt pretty good and rubbing the soap into her incredibly thick fur was pretty much like great massage. Then she relaxed and allowed me to rid her of much of the odor she carries arround with her. The only way to make it all go away is to shave her bald, but Diane won’t let me do that until spring.

Then I cut her toenails and made one of them bleed so much that I’m sure she now hates me. Once I feed her it will all be OK. I had to follow her around the house for about an hour wiping up bloody spots until it finally stopped. I felt pretty bad about it and will most definitely be more careful the next time. Please don’t turn me in to the ASPCA.

Now some good news about a bad thing regarding a topic about which very few of you are aware. My older brother, Jack, was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. How long ago, I do not know. I just knew something was different but it wasn’t something I was going to grill him about. That would have been counter productive, so when we talked I did my best to avoid negative issues. We talked and argued like we’ve always done.

After the initial diagnosis it’s my understanding that it was presumed that the cancer was in his bones and lymph nodes. With this news he and Wynette made their way south on a scheduled trip to Arizona to visit with their Grandson and their new Great Granddaughter Kelly. It’s my belief that nothing could have delayed that visit.

For some reason he recently had to get different health insurance. In order to get tests he needed he had to have diagnosis from an in plan doctor. So he started over with the preliminaries. Finally, last week, he had a bone density scan and a CT scan. The end result, after all that insurance company hassle, he was told his cancer is confined to his prostrate. Not in his bones. Not in his lymph nodes. We are all incredibly happy about those findings.

Yes, there are still mountains to climb on Jack’s journey, but with these recent findings his mountains just aren’t quite as steep, or tall. They’re manageable and he’s tough as nails. His family and friends will continue to pray for his health and understanding about what is going on in his life, and we plan on witnessing a miracle when it all just goes away.

Please join us in that effort.

Thanks.