Party, Yard Work, and Strawberries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m done now.

Pets, Weeds, Kids, Golf, Friends, and Higher Education

I’ve been sitting at my computer for about an hour paying bills and checking emails to see if I’ve received any task requests. When I was done I pondered the direction I should take for the remainder of my day. Diane abandoned me again, to accompany Jennifer to Jeran’s Senior Assembly, then off to PDX to shop for “stuff”. So, it was either put on my work clothes so I could go out and pull a bunch of weeds that aren’t going anywhere (but up), or continue sitting here to chat a bit. Not a difficult choice because I did the weed ‘thing’ the last two days and found it difficult to move around at the end of those days.

So, here I am.

I also visited Rimidyl.com to register Panzee’s latest receipt for her meds. Not cheap stuff, but the company gives back a little by keeping them informed about how much customers have paid. In our case, Panzee received 60 100MG pills for $120.95. Just so you know, Rimidyl is like ibuprofen for dogs to help with arthritis pain. She gets it every day and she’s still getting around pretty good. Slowing down, for sure, and stairs are getting to be a huge problem, but she is still toughing it out. When she gets to the point where she can’t get up to go outside we’ll have to make a hard decision. Not looking forward to that.

The Littles visited for a while last week and that’s always fun. They love to run and play in the yard so it’s difficult to catch all three of them together. They just keep growing for some reason. Love those three a ton. They are, in case you forgot, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie:

Sailor Cedric is making his way down from Bremerton to visit quite often. He’s lucky that his ship is stationed so close to home. I was never that lucky. The closest we ever got to home was Long Beach, CA. Not a short trip. It’s good to see him, always.

Last Tuesday was a special day because we met up with Ashlee Holm for lunch. Her last name isn’t Holm any more because she’s married, but that’s the way I have her listed in my contacts list. She is working for her doctorate for physical therapy at Pacific University and her twin is still in Wisconsin also working on her doctorate in the medical field. Her Grandparents are our good friends Butch & Margo who we’ve known since the late 70’s when we were stationed aboard the USS Barbey (FF-1088). And no, they never made a USS Ken, in case you’re wondering. It was good to see Ashlee and feel blessed that she senses a family connection with us even though we truly aren’t related and we never knew her as a child. It’s just one of those old friend connections that has carried on. I’m gonna have to ask her again what her married name is. I do know that she’s married to Michael and they have a dog named Rusty.

Yesterday I was allowed to go golfing with JR and Doug. Doug called to warn me that JR had another stroke since the last time we went out so he may not be able to make it all the way around. But, he was going. As it turned out, JR had the best score of all. His only ailment from the two strokes, after being paralyzed on his right side both times, is some weakness on his right side. Other than that, you’d never know he was having such a problem. To put this in perspective, after his first stroke we golfed on Wednesday, May 30. Between then and yesterday he had another one and recovered enough to go out and beat both me and Doug. Pretty amazing. I’ve shared lots of photos of the Peal Boys in previous posts so I didn’t take any ‘people’ photos yesterday. But, here’s one from better days …

Here’s one from yesterday that I took of Doug’s ball. I was in a cart alone so went out ahead and found his ball and marked it so he’d be able to find it.

He removed the sticks, of course, and made a fantastic recovery shot into the #3 fairway but it wasn’t enough to beat JR.

Yesterday was also a day that Jeran enjoyed his Senior Day at school. He and the rest of his class were taken on a tour of the elementary and middle schools wearing their graduation duds. Jeran was very popular with the kids because most of them know him from his work at the family’s church. I think Jennifer had the sign because folks who don’t know her usually think she’s his sister.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Diane and Jennifer went shopping, leaving me all alone. The rule in that kind of situation, as you all know, is NO POWER TOOLS. I generally abide by the rule but with no supervision, it’s very simple to disregard it. My chosen task, pulling weeds, didn’t require the use of power tools so you’d think I was safe. Before beginning that task I was invited to lunch with Jennifer and Diane before they went to Portland. We ate at the Happy Garden over by Walmart. We took Ruth there when she visited but she got a bad ration of something and didn’t like it much. We were sad that happened. Anyway, I ate all of mine while Diane and Jennifer each ordered the same combination plate and each ate half of what they had. They agreed that they should have ordered just one combo and an extra plate. Seems like someone is always making that comment whenever we eat Chinese, no matter where it’s at.

When we parted ways, we stopped by Walmart so Jennifer could purchase a kayak, one of the gifts for a lucky senior at their party tomorrow night after graduation. It fit just right in my truck. Then I stopped by ACE to see if they had one of those weed burners I see folks using all the time. It’s not a power tool so I was safe. I also bought a 22″ machete that I thought would come in handy to take out the blackberry vines. So, what could go wrong, right?

Actually, I had no trouble with either of those purchases because I was very careful with the machete and couldn’t find a propane bottle that wasn’t connected to something so I could give the burner a try. I was stuck with my Pulaski and machete. I managed to make it all the way through the afternoon without injury. I did all this …

Doesn’t look like much, I admit, but it was brutal work because we have very tough grass, especially when it gets about 4′ tall. This photo also serves to show you Ruth that they heavy equipment in the new housing project really is being used. They just finished paving the road today.

There’s about 40 different kinds of plants in that small plot and it’s surrounded by granite rocks that are good for the Pulaski. I got all the way around, and through this little plot, then came up against the dusty miller (Jacobaea maritima), front right. Unknown to me, when a branch dies on this thing, it’s a weapon of sorts because it creates amazing wounds when one encounters the sharp ends. With the exception of random nicks and dings from the ever-present blackberry vines, this was my only significant injury.

I swear I barely touched that dead branch and this is what it did through the sleeve of my shirt. It happened just before Diane got home so I suppose the occasion for the injury was so I’d have something to show her for the energy I’d expended while she was gone. She wasn’t impressed even a little bit. Hardly worth a place as injuries go. She just looked at it and said, “Huh. I need help unloading the car.” So I helped her unload the car of frozen stuff then, since the wound wasn’t actively bleeding, went back to finish getting all the way around the plot. I should have taken the photo before my shower because it looked way gnarlier covered with dirt and dried blood.

I went through the entire day thinking it was Friday. Not that it matters, but I’m a little bummed that I have to do Friday all over again. On this second Friday we get to go watch Jeran graduate from High School.

More on that next time.

Various and Sundry Things

Greetings fellow Earthlings who woke up on the green side of the grass, as did I, this glorious morning.

My awakening was a confused one because the house was so quiet. Like normal, I was once again on the living room sofa and noticed my bride in the kitchen making coffee. On a normal day, once the coffee was done, she would bring me a cup which is code for “GET UP YOU LAZY BUM AND GO YANK SOME WEEDS!” That didn’t happy, however, and it took me a while of this quiet solitude to realize that it didn’t happen because today is Sunday. I don’t have to pull weeds on Sunday. So, I just relaxed, went back to sleep, and waited for my coffee.

She never brought it to me, though, and I couldn’t hear her thrashing around in any of the nearby rooms that generally alerts me to the need to get up. “Thrashing” is too harsh a word here. She never really Thrashes. It’s just the noise people make, especially me, when they’re trying very hard to be quiet so as to not wake up people they love beyond measure. It never works out well for me because I always do it in the dark. No lights for me. No Sir. I know where everything is in the house … except which doorway the big brown dog has decided to lay in front of, or which end of the hall she chose to occupy. Because of that uncertainty, I walk slowly and carefully but the result is still the same because the big brown dog is deaf. She responds to touch. Consequently, when I finally make contact with her, as I slowly slide my feet, one at a time, she jumps up making all kinds of skritching noises on the floor which ignites the Barking Gene of the little black dog (toy poodle). On the verge of chaos, I get them both calmed down, but the damage, I know, has been done. Still, I close the bedroom door and sneak away. It always works that way, but over the years I’ve learned that all that noise really isn’t my fault and my bride understands this. All I want to do is let our four-legged family members out to run freely in the field behind our house. And, to hopefully pee in said field.

Normally I go to church with her on Sunday and she makes sure I’m up and functioning in time to make myself pretty for the event. When I looked at the clock it was 10:30 am and church has already started so I look in the garage and observe that her car is gone so it’s obvious that I’ve been abandoned, left unsupervised, and could, if I so desired, don my weed-pulling attire and go outside to get really sweaty.

Instead, I got my own cup of coffee, fired up my computer, corrected the church newsletter that I sent to everyone yesterday with an error, then sent it again, and finally decided to visit with all of you for a while. That’s what I do when I’m not given a task. I sit quietly, like this, and think of ‘stuff’ I could be doing, and things I’ve done since last we ‘spoke’ …

… like golfing. I was allowed to go golfing with Doug and Junior twice over the last couple of weeks and, predictably, I did badly. But we all had a good time, especially JR. He didn’t fall down even once. Doug and I help avoid that by teeing up JR’s balls so he can take a whack at it, then pick up his displaced tee and escort him back to the cart.

Now, about JR … in my mind he’s kind of a miracle because a few weeks ago he had a stroke and was paralyzed on his right side. I talked with him about it, and it went something like this …

“So,” I asked, “when did you discover that you’d had a stroke.”

“Well,” he responded, “when I woke up with a severe need to urinate and tried to get out of bed. I couldn’t move my right leg.”

“Did you determine right then that you’d had a stroke?”

“No. I just thought something was really screwed up. My right arm wasn’t working too well, but I was able to make it grab my right leg and swing it off the bed, then I rolled to the floor.”

“Why did you do that?”

“I had to take a leak really bad.”

“Oh, ya. That.”

“I started dragging myself to the bathroom but gave up after a couple of feet and called Jeri for help. She helped me back to bed after my bladder was pleasingly empty (in a way will not explain in detail as he did). Then people showed up. I knew who they were, but could not say their names. I guess I was mumbling. So, they took me to the VA Emergency Room where they hooked me up to a bunch of stuff and just left me there. When a doctor finally showed up he told me that I’d definitely had a stroke, but that there wasn’t anything they could do for me.”

“Really!”

“Yes, really. So, I yanked all the hoses and tubes off my body and Tami took me home. My heart rate and blood pressure were higher when I left than when I got there so once I got home I medicated myself.”

“What did you take?”

“One morphine, 2 oxycodone, 2 Tylenol, and 1 nitro. My BP went down, my heart rate slowed, and things started going back to normal. Then I just sprawled in my recliner until it was time to go golfing again.”

Yes, we went golfing again about two weeks after this happened and he still beat me. We went a couple of days ago, too, and I really thought I had a chance to finally whip him, but that didn’t happen even though I was keeping score. So, after a really harrowing event, JR is back to being about as normal as he can be. Quite amazing.

On other news fronts, I was summoned to the County Courthouse by Betty, our County Clerk, who is kind of Diane’s boss when it comes to counting votes during elections. She, Betty, apparently was cleaning out her attic and found some computer parts she thought I could use and wanted me to get them. Turns out, she had a brand new, in the box,  NCR keyboard, the one with the HUGE connector, way bigger than a PS2 connector, that will not work on any computer made today. I was grateful for the gift and plan to incorporate it in a project I have in mind using obsolete computer parts. I think something like that would look nice hanging on the living room wall, don’t you?

Last Thursday I spent a log of time on my feet chopping onions and carrots, and blending black beans and tomatoes while assisting a herd of ladies to construct a 150 portion version of Diane’s Black Bean Vegetable Soup. It’s really great soup, a family favorite. Making it for 150 people was interesting for me because it required extended use of appliances that I generally only get to use for short amounts of time. Like the Cuisinart. Great for the onions and carrots, but they wouldn’t let me chop up the celery. I really wanted to chop the celery.

After the chopping was done, and soup taste-tested (I’m the official taster) I was dismissed with instructions to return at 7 pm. I went home and just relaxed until the phone rang at 6:45. I answered and was asked, “are you coming to get me?” I considered my response and figured that saying I was told to her there at 7 wouldn’t be well received. She was tired and needed to get home.

Last Saturday the family celebrated both Jeff’s and my birthdays. We’re only two days apart and the ‘real’ dates were middle of the week, the reason for deferring till the weekend. Gatherings like that are always a loud, fun-filled event for everyone. They fill the house with happiness and we love it. We also love the quiet that follows, but the hustle-bustle noise always makes us smile. One thing, though, is trying to explain to ‘outsiders’ that son Jeff’s birthday is only two days after mine. He’s 46 now so I just tell folks that he’s my step son from Diane’s first marriage. That’ a lie, of course, because even folks with rudimentary math skills can quickly surmise that if he’s 46 he was obviously born in 1972, four years after Diane and I were married. I just add another lie that she was pregnant for a really long time.

Yesterday Diane and I attended a retirement party for our friend Rick who exercised his right to end his 30-something-year career with ABF Trucking. We got to visit with lots of old friends that we don’t see nearly often enough because they live so far away. There were three Ricks, two Jerry’s, two Pats, Nelda, Diane, Jo, Josette, Jody, Vie, Lucan, Stacy, Brandy, Linda, Allen and many others I cannot remember. For those who I failed to mention, forgive me. I’m old and forget things. Diane thinks I have dementia even though I’ve explained, many times, that I don’t need to remember ‘things’ because she does it for me. That’s one of the many responsibilities a wife has. Right? Well, maybe not all wives will agree with that, and it’s OK.

Once again I’m totally upset that when I select the magic button on my Xfinity remote that displays current and future sporting events, there is absolutely no mention of NCAA Softball. I’ve got to actually search for info on the games. Then, after doing that, I have to sit quietly while the #1 seeded Lady Ducks get smoked by lower ranked teams in the Women’s College Softball Championships. Last year they lost the first two games and went home. This year they won the first game 11-1 then lost the next two and were eliminated. I think if Xfinity would simply include college sports properly in their displays, the teams would do much better. Just wait till next year. Now we must root for Washington, the #2 seed who won their first two games.

Go Huskies.

Happy Birthday To Me, And Other Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not many people live there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later.

Money, Peeps, My Lawn Mower, and some Photos

Two things of concern

  1. Why so much money is spent on political campaigns
  2. Why movies are ranked by how much they earn instead of how many people watched.
  3. Peeps

OK, Three things. I was wrong, or I just can’t count. You choose.

First, lets discuss Political Campaign Money – it is my asserted opinion that spending billions of dollars on political campaigns is an astounding waste of money that could be used in a far better manner. Like, feeding hungry people in the world. That, and I think we can all agree that those who collect the most money aren’t necessarily the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Movie Money – just because a movie earns a ton of money doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most popular. I’ve actually spent good money, more than once, to see movies that I didn’t like at all. When I shared that information with friends, they went to see it, too, and didn’t like it either. Still, the fact that they went added to the monetary total for the period of time covered. I think those who attend movies should fill out a brief survey about how they liked the movie. And how good the popcorn was. Each theater would then upload their data to a central collection point where popularity of the movies would be accurately captured based on LIKE or NOT LIKE, not on the price of a ticket.

Peeps – In case you aren’t familiar with Peeps, they are a marshmallow confection that has miracle healing qualities that aren’t well documented in medical journals. I know this is true because Diane told me so and I’ve been complicit in helping her carry out unauthorized use of Peeps to help her. So far she’s convinced me that Peeps cure hiccups, something she discovered a long time ago. I’ve seen it work, numerous times, for Diane and multiple Grandchildren. Our Grandchildren. Another Peep solution is they’re great for removing popcorn hulls that are stuck in your throat. So far, those are the only two significant cures about which I know. Since both hiccups and stuck popcorn hulls are unpredictable, Peeps must be administered as those events occur. By taking them, however, we don’t know if taking them for those events also serves as a preventative solution for other maladies that aren’t allowed to manifest. We’ll probably never know. If anything changes with this medial miracle, I’ll let you know.

Oh, wait! There’s four! My Mower. The weather here is probably the important news because it’s been so nice everyone around here has been able to mow their lawn using the grass catcher. That’s significant because normally this time of year the grass is too wet for any mower to actually propel the clippings through the plastic tube into a bag. The clippings just jam up the tube making a nasty mess that needs to be cleaned up. When I mowed it I didn’t take a chance on the tube getting plugged up by just leaving the grass catcher laying there on the ground. I’ll make another tour around the yard tomorrow to pick it all up, after I play golf. It’s going to be 70 degrees, I’m told.

This is Jeran, Jennifer and Daniel’s youngest, waiting for a concert to start.

These guys were the concert: New Legacy Project from Nashville.

Our back yard after I mowed it a couple of days ago. Really. A couple of days ago.

Our cat, Breezie, sleeping on her head.

I dog I encountered some place. I’m getting a sign like this, and another one that says, “I’m not working now, you can pet me”

Lydia visiting with a lizard on her shoulder.

My mower before I mowed it.

The Air We Breath & The Demise of a Tree

Our normally excellent air in the Pacific Northwest has been polluted by all the forest fires burning throughout the state. There is ash raining down everywhere and breathing is at your own risk.

That isn’t a complaint – it’s a simple fact. Although the air in St. Helens is compromised, we are not dealing with the threat of evacuation due to fires as are many, many areas of the state. Last night fire fighters were close to losing the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge due to a fire started by a 15-year-old child playing with fireworks. The lodge was saved but the fire remains un-contained as I write. In the blink of an eye this fire, named Eagle Creek, has consumed well over 10,000 acres of forest in the gorge and has caused closure of I-84, the main freeway artery from Portland through the gorge. Closure is from Troutdale to Hood River.

It’s a mess. I’d say visibility is less than a mile at our house.

Regarding the tree … it’s the tree that participated in our power outage during the last wind storm we had in December 2015.

Some more of it fell off the tree a week or so ago so the power company decided it was time for that tree to bite the big one and sent Asplundh over to take care of it. It was a two day job.

After cutting off, and grinding up all the limbs, they were about to haul it all away and dump it some place. I only begged and pleaded for a short time before the foreman decided that we could keep the residue which we intend to scatter all over the place around the house. Now we don’t have to buy bark dust.

Actually, I didn’t have to beg at all. They were glad to leave it for us.

 

Happy Independence Day – 2017

Greetings Fellow Earth Dwellers. It’s another glorious day in the neighborhood, the kind that makes it OK to get up early, even if you don’t want to. On this day I was compelled to arise at 0430 because the little dog decided it was time. The last few days, since returning from our vacation, he waiting until 0500 precisely. I swear he wears a tiny little wrist watch with an alarm. It’s amazing.

Just like all previous years, beginning a couple of days before the 4th, many of our neighbors find it necessary ignite extremely loud fireworks well into the night. We expect it. The dogs hate it and would like to run down and have a word or two with whoever is holding the igniters. Apparently the city police view such events as normal, and accepted, because we never see them converging on the offenders, even when they lite off rockets that spew sparks all over the place, including over the dry hay-field next to our property. And it’s the same folks every year.

Now, having shared all that, I’ve got another story about a fire I started, legally, on June 30th. That was the last day for open burning in the county and I’ve been putting it off. Being the last day kinda prompted me to get busy and make it go away.

I took my handy little propane torch down there, after stringing my longest hose to the pile of debris. I’ve always used matches in the past then decided to try the torch with the last pile and found it to be much more convenient because it’s got an igniter on it. Pretty handy. When I touched it to the pile it went up pretty quickly and spread to the entire burn pile in a matter of seconds. I hadn’t planned for it to be as big as it got, but I had it under control with my water hose so just let it go. After it died down a bit, I went up on the porch to watch it and visit with our Niece Maryssa who was visiting from Salem where she spending the summer in a test marriage with her boyfriend who lives with his parents. Maryssa is a Senior at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon so we don’t see her much. It’s great to visit with her. I spend at least one evening talking with her and Granddaughter Lydia just like I was one of the girls. The entire time I feared they would talk about stuff I probably wouldn’t want to discuss, but they didn’t, so it was all good.

As I sat there visiting, Keith, a young firefighter, came walking into the back yard and reported that I had to put my fire out because the burn ban was ending at midnight. It was about 4:30 pm at the time, and dusk was hours away so I reported that I was legal because the “Burn Line” (503) 397-4800 told me that June 30th was the last burn day and open burning was allowed in the county for folks who had a current burn permit. My fire qualified so burn it did.

Being a good citizen, and knowing Keith was just doing the job he was told to do, I went down to man my garden hose while he went to his truck to unreel a couple hundred feet of hose after connect the truck to the fire hydrant that is conveniently located at the corner of our property. As we hosed down the pile I asked why I had to put out my fire when the burn line said it was legal and he said, “We’ve had phone calls … “, an unfinished sentence.

“OK,” I said, “so I burn legally and someone in town calls to complain so you come out to put my fire  out?”, or words to that effect. He didn’t respond to that so I prodded a little harder suggesting that whoever called knew the Fire Chief. He denied that, of course, and said, “No, some fires have already gotten out of control, and the burn ban ends at dusk.” I noted the change of the ban ending at dusk instead of midnight, his first choice, but didn’t say anything. He also said”the chief said …” a number of times that so I just left it alone.

The Chief Said.

Since I used to be a Chief, a Navy Chief, I understood the concept about “The Chief Said”. It’s law and doesn’t require any explanation. Just do it. So he did. And he did a great job. He blew my fire all apart, even thought it was barely burning when he arrived, and sprayed it all down with foam when there was no more smoke coming off the embers. I acknowledged that I doubt that that pile would burn any time before next year at the earliest.

Then, regarding phone calls to the fire department, I said, “you think you got phone calls now, wait until they build those 77 new houses in the field adjacent to our property. When I burn then you’ll probably get tons of calls.” He said, “It’s OK if you have a valid burn permit.” I let that rest a bit before replying, “I have a valid burn permit for the one we’re destroying.” Keith had no response because he knew I was correct, but, The Chief Said.

Finally he was done and told me “The Chief Said you need to have a 3 foot bare dirt perimeter around the debris to ensure it doesn’t re-start.” Looking at my destroyed burn pile which had been soaked with probably 200 plus gallons of water, maybe more, I thought it was unlikely it would ever burn again.

He wound his hose up and departed well before the Dusk ban and I went to work creating the perimeter as directed. Diane made me quit after I made one circuit of the pile because, well, it was just time to quit. Now the plan it to get the old truck down to the pile, scoop up the residue, and just let it resume to be just another part of the field I mow. Works for me because keeping track of the burn pile is a pain.

For today’s festivities at our house, I made potato salad and will be BBQing pork ribs this afternoon sometime. I have to be down at the docks at 2:00 pm to ring in the 4th using the bell in the Columbia River Warrior Rock replica located near the gazebo in front of the old court house in St. Helens. All I have to do is ring it 13 times for the original 13 colonies. It’s a yearly thing done by the American Legion Post 42 of which I’m a member. It’s kinda cool to be part of that.

Now I must go put on some clothes and ready myself for the task.

Hope everyone has a safe 4th.