News in the News

Amid all the shootings, and stories about people blowing each other up, is a scattering of nonsensical news items that make me pause and go, “Hmmm.”

First, I must tell you that I typically don’t watch the news and I rarely read the newspapers that are delivered to our door, so my news view is decidedly limited. Still, I have opinions about what I see when reading “Bing” news on my computer.

Using that handy doorway to the world I’m able to choose from many sources for any of the news items they deem noteworthy. I have my favorites, of course, but tend to look at the most recent entries available. I suspect the trivial items are included to dilute ones perception of news in general to keep their interest. You know, like scattering candy in a pile of crap to make it look more festive.

Take today, for instance. I’ve investigated the world and discovered that a “Popular Tucson TV Reporter Couple” have been charged with child abuse after their baby tested positive for cocaine. This was accomplished through the use of the former Miss Arizona contestant’s shapely left breast, while feeding her infant, after she ingested cocaine the previous evening. How fun. Now she’s newsworthy, but no longer reporting the news. Dumb.

Then there’s news about a Milwaukee woman who has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. She’s the suspect in the murder of her pregnant neighbor and her unborn infant because of loud music. One source indicated that Shanika, the suspect, is Milwaukee’s first fugitive on the ‘Ten Most Wanted List’, like it’s some kind of honor, like when the Bucks win a ball game. Kinda makes you want to move to Milwaukee, doesn’t it?

How about Mark Z, Mr. Facebook? He’s making all his new Kauai neighbors angry because he’s building a six-foot high wall around his 700 acre estate. That’s certainly noteworthy, don’t you think? His spokespeople said the wall is meant to be a sound barrier but I think it’s there to keep the wild pigs out. Or maybe keep them in. One resident of the island reported that she’s 5’8″ tall and when walking along the property all she can see is the rock wall instead of the Hawaiian scenery to which she’s accustom. They want Mark to tear down the wall because it’s an eye sore. I mean, really? It was built to code, using local rocks and, most likely, local artisans. I think it’s a nice looking wall. I also think a more simple solution to tearing it down would be for Mark to build platforms outside the wall, every 100 feet or so, where those who are less than 6′ tall can ascend above the wall and take in all of Mark’s natural beauty. Each ramp would have to have wheelchair access, of course.

 For the sports minded folks, there’s news about LeBron James who declined his player option and is now a free agent. The reason, I surmise, is due to his inherently greedy nature that propels him to seek more and more money for his “talents”. Yes, he’s pretty good but, like all pro sports icons, waaaaaay overpaid for what they do. Declining the option, it is reported, James salary will increase from $24 million to $27.5 million a year, a modest 14.58% increase. Not bad for someone who already has far more money than he needs.

I know, I sound a bit bitter talking about stuff like that, and probably smacks a lot like socialism. That’s not really it for me. It’s just that I find it amazing that professional athletes, and most CEO’s make such obscene amounts of money each year when we severely under educated kids, many of whom don’t know what having a full belly is like. It’s just sad.

There are many more topics, of course, most of them about people getting shot and places being blown to smithereens. You know, fun things to read about. The topper for all of today’s news, for me, was finding out that there might be a Tetris Trilogy in our future.

Stunning news.

2013 in review

Just in case any of you are interested, here’s a recap of my 2013 blogging efforts provided to me by WordPress. I had no idea that I was that busy …

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 8,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Ozzie & Zen Pruning

It’s almost 0600 and I’m sitting alone here in the semi-dark. Well, not really alone … Ozzie is sitting by my left foot on the recliner foot rest in his normal spot. It’s comforting to have someone as loud as he is because I know he’ll alert me when a stranger tries to get in the house and do us harm. He gives me enough warning that I can ‘get my Ninja on’ thereby thwarting any attack. Although he’s given us many warnings over the years, virtually all of them were false alarms. He had his big chance last summer when we had coyotes in the lower field, but all he did was stare at them staring back at him. I suspect that was a good move on his part and if I were cute and fuzzy like he is I’d done the same thing. No need to prod that dragon.

Most of his false alarm barking is at the black cat that frequents the field below us. We know the cat is looking for field mice, being in a field and all, but Ozzie doesn’t care. He just barks away like it’s the end of the world if we don’t let him out there to take care of matters. So, we do, and he runs down to our fence and stands there barking so hard his stiff little front legs bounce off the ground. The cat ignores him, so he barks harder.

Thankfully, after a relatively short time, he gets a whiff of something strange and trots off to see where it is so he can pee on it. Then he pees on it again from the other side for good measure and trots triumphantly back to the house. He’s a funny little guy.

I probably shouldn’t be doing this right now because it’s so early and I haven’t had my meds, yet. I have my water, but failed, once again, to bring my pill bucket to my morning lounging area. With Ozzie peacefully ensconced by my feet, I hesitate to lower the foot rest. Actually, I’m torn between lowering the foot rest slowly, allowing him to gently wake up, or just drop it out from under him and study his reaction to free-falling. I wouldn’t do the latter. Ever. Again.

However, I feel a nap coming on and need to ingest my legally obtained meds so I can recline with a clear mind. And, either my stomach is growling, or Ozzie is snoring so I have to arise and find out which one it is. Can’t nap until I know.

It is much later, now — 8:30 pm – so I have no idea what happened after that last paragraph. I actually don’t remember writing all of that this morning so was surprised to discover it when I opened up the blog. Hmmm. As for what happened, I’ll just have to go with “got up and got my pills, then had my nap.”

The rest of the day was a blur of activity accompanied with a prodigious amount of sweating on my part.  Remember that rhododendron hedge I trimmed yesterday? This one?

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Well, today I just whacked it all down.

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You may think that was a rash move on my part, but I had permission to do it! How about that? Diane thought it would be a good idea, too, for me to apply some of my world-class zen pruning skills. So, when she left for her eye appointment, just after lunch, I broke out my trusty plug-in electric chain saw and went to work. I did all this and didn’t sustain any major injuries which may surprise most of you. Just a few scrapes and pokes, but nothing that actually bled. I, myself, found this interesting because it seems to be my destiny to bleed, at least a little, at some point in an evolution of this magnitude. But I didn’t. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved.

I’ll go with relieved, for now.

The entire time I was working on dismantling the four rhoddies, I rehearsed in my mind what I’d be writing here. That’s unusual for me because I normally just turn it loose without thinking ahead of time. However, my overriding thought throughout the mayhem was that Diane would get home and be horribly disappointed that I could do such a thing. Before she left I again asked if she was OK with this and she said, “Yes.” I asked if she would commit that to writing, and she said, “No.” Not even a text, giving me permission? “No.”

So, as you can see, I was treading in dangerous territory, relying on my well documented faulty memory, to move forward with this project. But I did it.

When Diane returned, she said, “Good job. Why is the ladder still up against the gutter?” She’s been giving me a hard time about the ladder for a few weeks now. Maybe not that long, but a while for sure. I put it up there to address a dripping gutter while it was nice and dry. I was going to leave it up until I was sure it wouldn’t leak. That, and to replace the wood I ripped off in the process. But, I removed the ladder and called it good. I wonder how long it will be before she asks when I’m going to fix the hole I made.

Another thing I did today was run the lawn mower around the front, side, and back yards, to even up the dandelions. The grass is mostly brown, and not growing, but the dandelions just won’t quit. So, I took care of it. In the process, I sucked up all the residue of today’s evolution that couldn’t be picked up with a rake. The mower is excellent for jobs like that. It actually … well … my mower actually kind of sucks pretty good. My backup choice was taking the big shop vac and vacuum the lawn. That would have been tedious. I know. And I will never do that again, unless I can figure a way to put bigger wheels on the vac. The ones it comes with are just too small to roll smoothly on grass.

Over the past couple of days we had visits from Jennie with Lydia, and Jeran in tow. They spent last weekend camping at Big Eddy, and, knowing my prolific ability to injure myself, stopped by to show me theirs. Both of them hurt themselves running around the camp ground, in the dark, finally falling victim to some hard to see ropes holding down a neighbor’s tent. I would never do something like that. Mainly because it involves running. Here’s what they did to themselves.

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Pretty nifty, huh?

Now, supper is done, I’m clean, and it’s time to just relax while watching some guys beat the crap out of each other with MMA. But first, I’ll just give you a visual on my lunch. It’s a three poached eggs and four pieces of toast. I made two sandwiches. Nice.

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Coffee

I wasn’t going to write anything this morning because my plan was to take a nap when I returned home from placing US Flags on Columbia Blvd in St. Helens. The reason for the flags is to help celebrate the Maritime Heritage Festival for the town. our Lion’s Club place the flags for all holidays and special events like this. It looks really nice to see Old Glory waving back at you as you mosey down the street. The MHF is a big deal for the village. If you’re interested about learning more, just hit the link above and you will be magically transported to our little corner of the world.

I know. You’re thinking, “What does this have to do with coffee?” In response, I would say, “not much, yet, but give me time and I’ll get there.” Honest.

Normally, after placing the flags, we stop by Sunshine Pizza for breakfast. We do this because the flag evolution begins at 0700 in the morning which is just way too early for me. True, I’m always up before that, but normal days find me deep into ‘nap mode’ by 0700. So, I had to set an alarm on my iPad. I guess I could have used my phone, but I didn’t want to. I like breakfast at SP because they have excellent breakfast sandwiches for a reasonable price. I discovered those one morning when I took Diane’s Buick to Emmert Motors for a bit of warranty work and an oil change. They’re right across the street from Sunshine and gave me a coupon for the sandwich while I waited. How nice.

I’m wandering around a little, aren’t I? Sorry.

Coffee … I’ve been drinking coffee forever and was never very particular what it tasted like. The entire time I was in the Navy, I drank it black and rarely walked past a coffee pot without refilling my cup. Never washed my cup, either. It was a ‘thing’, you know? Like, wash your cup and you lose all that flavor that took years to accumulate. Truthfully, the coffee was so bad it didn’t do any good to wash your cup, so why bother.

The one exception to this was when we were stationed in Italy. We learned to really like latte’s and espresso. We would have made it at home but didn’t have a coffee bean grinder, or the fancy machine they used to make the ones we bought.

Coffee at home, wherever we were, was always good because Diane made it. But it was still ‘fresh’ out of a can, vacuum packed for freshness. We both loved the smell when a new can was opened. It made us swoon a little, it was so fragrant. Then, after retiring from the Navy I went to work for a local company and we decided to take a trip on a cruise ship to Alaska. That did us in for coffee because cruise ship coffee is pretty darn good. Very rich flavor, and not bitter.

So, upon return from that first cruise, we purchased our first coffee bean grinder and started testing beans to see which ones we liked the best. Eventually we settled on Gavalia, which is expensive, but really good and they mail it too us. They also send us a new coffee pot once a year. How cool is that?

We always make 10 cups of coffee first thing in the morning, when it’s just the two of us, which is most of the time. Generally, there’s a cup left at the end of the day which I save for the next morning and heat in the microwave while the new pot is brewing. Unless I’m napping, that is. Then Diane makes the coffee. I normally don’t because the bean grinder is horrendously loud and I have to take it to the garage so it doesn’t wake Diane. She does that for me, too. We’re nice to each other, that way.

This morning, upon returning from my flag duties, I put my favorite creamer in one of my favorite cup, and discovered that it was going to be the last cup for that bottle of creamer. When that happens, I pour the coffee into the creamer container to ensure I get all the creamer we paid for. I swish it around and around to get the really sticky stuff off the bottom, then I pour it into the cup and stick it into the microwave to heat it up for a minute and forty seconds. I don’t pick that number. That’s what the microwave assigns for one cup of coffee.

When the little microwave dinger went off, signaling that my coffee was ready, I pulled it out and discovered something floating in it. This had never happened before so it perplexed me. Upon dipping it out with a spoon I discovered it was a small moth. “Hmmm,’ I thought. Should I really drink this or not. “I don’t know where this moth has been,” I continued. “Then again,” thought I, “it’s been thoroughly cooked in the microwave so couldn’t possibly be all that bad.”

Continuing with this line of thinking, I got out a fine mesh strainer and pour the coffee into another cup to ensure there were no legs or eyes floating around. The last thing out of the original cup was what looked like coffee grounds, neatly caught by the strainer. I couldn’t help but think that, possibly, they weren’t grounds, but moth eggs, or worse, moth crap, but there were far too many to accept that as a reasonable assumption. So, I stuck with ‘coffee grounds’ and took the cup to my nappy place on the couch to enjoy it.

As I sat there sipping away, I couldn’t help wonder about how the moth got in my cup. I know for sure it wasn’t in the cup when I started, and I’m fairly certain it wasn’t in the creamer because it’s stored in the refrigerator. So, the only way it could have inserted its way into my life was by crawling into the pot at some point during the night. I presume it fluttered to the bottom of the pot, drank a little bit, and got crazy once the caffeine took hold, and bashed his brains in by flying into the side of the pot, over and over, until it fell into the remains and drowned.

I don’t know that this is what happened, of course. It may have simply clung to the inside of the pot all night and was still alive when I poured it into my cup, and I microwaved it to death. Knowing that microwaves cook things from the inside out caused me to envision this sad little moth exploding in the cup giving credence that what I thought was coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup could indeed be moth parts of some nature. So, I returned to the sink with the cup still half full, took one final sip, and dumped it down the drain.

By this time, the new pot was done, so I got a fresh cup and returned to the couch. All of this will probably make Diane gag, especially when she discovers that the spoon I used to remove the moth from my cup is the one she uses to put sugar in hers. I guess I just won’t tell her because I’m sure the moth had been sterilized.

Hope you have a great day.

PT @ VA w/EB, TV, Dirty Knees

Our day started early because I had another PT appointment with EB, my therapist, at the VA this morning at 0830. That means we left home at 0730 to get there on time. He works on my shoulder and it’s feeling pretty good now, so I may be done with him. Just keep doing my exercises, and the should will be OK. The thumb knuckle and elbow on the same arm are giving me sporadic fits of pain of a different nature. As Big Brother Lyle used to say, frequently, “This too shall pass.”

Too true.

After returning from the VA, Diane and I rested on the couch for an hour and a half while we watched recorded episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, one of our favorite shows, and Perception, another one of our favorite shows. We have lots of favorite shows which makes our DVR one of our favorite electronical devices in our home.

When we were finished resting, I took a trip to Matzen Street to work on The Bathroom for a bit, hoping to solve the issue with the slow drip at the new shut-off valves. I was successful and the solution was in my hands the entire time. As previously reported, I used teflon tape and thread goop without success. This time I used Plumber’s Putty and it worked great. Thank goodness.  I was seriously considering relocating to a location where plumbing wasn’t necessary in the event I couldn’t stop the leaks. Plumber’s Putty saved me a HUGE expense.

Diane is tired of looking at my ‘dirty’ knees so, being the wonderful Avon Lady that she is, obtained a tube of Apple & Honeysuckle Rejuvenating Body Polish. Body polish! Interesting. She explained the process of rubbing it on the offending knees before taking a shower. Between the lines this meant I was supposed to do it now, and go take a shower. So, I applied some to each knee and scrubbed really hard. Though fairly viscous, and really good smelling, it’s a lot like rubbing compound you might use on your car, but more gritty.

We’ll see how good it works, but I think if it does, it will take time. The dark hue of my knees was acquired between the ages of 6 and 13 when I played marbles a great deal of my free time. So much, in fact, that I was the acknowledged target for hot-shot marble players throughout my hometown of Scappoose. During my playing days, we played marbles ‘for keeps’ which means each player got to keep all the marbles he shoots out of the circle. I had lots of marbles. One of my older brother’s friends was dead set on beating me but I wound up with all his marbles, too. In case you’re interested, there is only one town/city in the world named Scappoose. I looked. Google only found one. Mine. It was a good small town in which to grow up in the 50’s. Spending all that time on my knees in the dirt, playing marbles, permanently altered the nature of my knees forever. They look dirty all the time and it’s never bothered me before because it is what it is.

I hope the Body Polish works because it might be nice to have pristine knees for a change. Or, at least knees that look clean all the time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Now it’s time to shower the Body Polish off my knees and see if there’s a difference. Also, Diane made taco meat so I can make a plate of my custom nachos.

Homemade Dirt, Concerts, The Moon, and Hair

I had a day off from The Bathroom so I went down to the lower 40 and trimmed the blackberry vines away from the pile of grass I’ve been collecting since 2007. The pile gets pretty tall in the spring and fall, then sinks into the ground during the winter and turns to some pretty fine homemade dirt. I trimmed the black berries back because I needed to access some of that dirt to put around the crocosmia plants for which I chipped out a couple of holes on the side hill. It’s interesting that Diane paid good money for them and when Jack saw them he asked if we wanted more because he’s removing them. So, I suspect there’s a trip to Scappoose in our future to retrieve some of them and add to our small collection. That, and to swim in the pool which is reportedly 86 degrees the last time they checked.

After the blackberry event, I took a nap to recover some of the body fluids I lost. It was about 94 degrees out there when I started and Diane didn’t think it was a good idea for me to be outside doing ‘nothing’ so when I did ‘something’ it was a problem. She was right, of course. The nap was good.

After the nap we went down to Diane’s Mom’s house for a visit. The original plan was to attend 13 Nights on the River, a St. Helens ‘thing’ where local, and not so local bands and singers give a free concert in the gazebo on the St. Helens water front. It’s a festive affair with lots of local vendors hawking their wares. There’s always food, too, and the beer garden waaaay down on the end – too far away for those participants to throw a bottle.

Tonight pianist Michael Allen Harrison, a well established entertainer in the Portland area, is the entertainment. He visits us every year for this free event. The last time we saw him it was chilly by the river and he must have played solid for about 3 hours, all from memory. When he was done he said he had to keep going to keep his fingers warm. Nice guy. Incredible pianist.

During the visit with ‘Mom’, we all chose, quickly, to skip the concert in favor of cool rooms with A/C. That gave us an opportunity to visit longer and we stayed long enough to score some cucumbers from one of her friends who stopped by. It’s good to have friends who grow vegetables. It was a good visit.

When we got home I took Panzee into the back yard and brushed the dickens out of her. This is what ‘dickens’ looks like when you’re done:

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It looks a lot like hair and fur, doesn’t it? There’s some cat hair in there, too, because Breezie showed up and let me brush her. For a long time. Hers is the darker hair you can see, if you look really close.

… and here, just for fun, is a picture the day before our moon was full, four days ago …

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… and here it is on the day it was full …

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You can tell it’s full because it’s brighter, and bigger. I actually like the orange one better.

Physical Therapy, Eyes, and Bathroom Sinks

Today was filled with variety, as you can see by the title. True, I’ve had multiple things in the titles before, but those were all lies. This one is the absolute truth. Honest. It is.

Here’s what I did and I numbered them for clarity …

1. I cancelled a conflicting PT appointment with EB at the VA. I cancelled it because it was on a day that we will be in Seaside. For those not familiar with Seaside, it’s a tourist trap of a city just south of Astoria that both Diane and I have been going to visit our entire lives. It’s a fun place and, oddly enough, is situated right on the Pacific Ocean. One of the main attractions is at the foot of Broadway where there is a turnaround with a memorial marking the end of the Lewis & Clark Trail. Surely you know them. I think they were explorers of some kind. Anyway, these guys were actually in Seaside at one time. That’s true. Anyway, we’re taking Diane’s Mom, Jean, there for a few days to celebrate her 86th birthday. She’s really old, but hard to keep up with sometimes.

2. I made an optometry appointment at the VA with an unknown practitioner because the government sent me a postcard directing me to do so. This isn’t in response to my suspect diabetic retinopathy test, but rather my annual followup to see if I’m going blind for other reasons. I don’t think I am, but who knows? Maybe I am and just don’t know it. If that’s true, I will sorely miss my computer, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

3. I Kung Fooed the plumbing into place in “The Bathroom.” The pedestal sinks were temporarily mounted yesterday, a detail I forgot to share. Just for fun we’re going to mount Lydia’s sink a little higher than the boy’s to see if her OCD-ness can tell the difference. Regarding the sinks, Jeran thinks there should be three sinks because Lydia shouldn’t be the only one with a personal sink. In Lydia’s defense, she needs her own sink and she gets the one next to the wall because that’s where the plug is. Apparently she has plans to use it. The sinks were actually just propped up against the wall which made it easy to remove them so I could install the plumbing parts. I did that today. It was a challenge because I had to  cut some large chunks out of 2×4 studs so there’s an increased chance the wall may just collapse at some point. Maybe not. We’ll see. Until that happens, I trust the PEX tubing In installed will not leak. What did leak was three of the four new cut off valves, two for each sink. That was a bummer. It took a long time to convince myself to cut the supply lines, thereby making complete installation of the valves a requirement. Otherwise, the water would have remained off, no one could shower, no one could flush the toilets until the last person was done with it for the night, which would have created an iffy situation that could easily have ended with the involvement of lawyers and such. Not wanting to be responsible that kind of situation kept me going until it was water tight. I had to reinstall the valves three times to get it right. The final solution involved some incredibly gooey crap to seal up the threads. Now all that remains is to add the drains, finish the wall, and, oh ya, wainscoting. Actually, the latter aspect will simplify the process for finishing the wall.

I might have to take some pictures of the before & after to share with you. It’s been quite a process.