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.

 

My Friend Tom

Last Friday I picked up my friend Tom and we went to lunch at Hale’s Restaurant in Hillsboro. I took the Crossfire thinking we could go out and play on some of the back roads of Hillsboro after we ate. I figured Tom would enjoy that because deep in his heart he’s a racer. In his garage is a 1961 slant six Plymouth Valiant that he used to run at drag strips up and down the West Coast with a great deal of success. It’s been sitting for a while but he’s got all the parts to make it ‘new’ again, ready for another run.

In the mean time, we regressed to teen ager status with the Crossfire and ran it through the gears on some curvy roads. I’m happy to report that we were careful, didn’t get caught, didn’t run in to anything, and I only ground the gears once.

This is us after successfully getting back to Tom’s driveway.

It was a very good day.

Demo Day !

It has begun. Diane’s been wanting the hall floor to go away since the day after we moved in (10 years ago) and it finally made it to the top of my To Do List. As most of you probably already know, TDL’s are a living document, subject to change at the drop of a hat, or at the hint of a whim. Mine is always in flux. Replacing the hall flooring made it to the top because Diane thinks we should sell the house and move into the RV. That means we must fix everything up like brand new for the new owners.

There is one layer of linoleum and two layers of tile that need to be removed. The original 1957 tile is the bottom layer and I’m determined to remove it to ensure the floor is level at all ingress and egress points in the hall. There are six of them.

In order to remain true to my tradition of doing stuff like this, I’m using the wrong tool, but it’s working. I would use the right tool, but I don’t have one. What I have it a flat pry bar that has a very sharp edge, allowing it to slip easily under the tile so it can be pried up.

Hmmm.

Maybe I do have the right tool, after all.

Thankfully, I’m medically trained to recognize signs of injury and what to do when they are discovered.

Not only is this the sign of an injury, it’s also a reminder that I should be wearing gloves. The blood is just a little bit of what I lost when my hand slipped from a piece of tile I was trying to pull out and the knuckle of my wedding ring finger grazed the sharp edge of my pry bar that was obviously laying in the wrong place. I didn’t know the extent of the damage at the time it happened. It was just an ordinary random pain I get when I do stuff like this so kept on working. When I saw the blood on the floor my training kicked in, causing me to react very quickly to determine the source of this vital fluid by checking the exposed portions of my body for leaks. Once found it’s a simple matter of getting a paper towel wrapped around the injury, if possible, then going meekly to Diane for assistance to seal the wound. Her response, pretty much every time, when she sees me standing in front of her holding a paper towel to some part of my anatomy is, “Oh Lord, what did you do now?!” I know it’s a rhetorical question because she just heads for the band aid drawer without waiting for an answer.

Yes, we have an entire drawer that’s used only for band aids.

Now I’m all fixed.

It Rains in Other Places, too.

The news here at home is all about the havoc dished out by Hurricane Harvey and I understand. What I don’t understand is some of the dumb (from my perspective) questions reporters ask of officials involved with the recovery efforts. Like, “When do you expect the water to recede to a normal level?”

Really? Does he really think this official has that information? That’s just one, but it’s typical of the segment of CNN I watched.

I get it – huge areas of Texas, as well as neighboring states, have experienced devastating losses. It will take years for them to recover, but recover they will. But, it actually rains a lot in other places, too. Check the link. India is in the midst of a horrendous monsoon season. Last count was 1,200 dead in India and surround countries from flooding. I’ve not seen this reported on any of the TV channels I checked. I found it on BING news on my computer.

Let’s pray for them, also.

Stress Test, and Prescriptions

Today I participated in a stress test of my heart. That’s where, in my case, a male Nurse Practitioner (a nurse that acts like a doctor, lots of times far better) and a girl in a blue jump suit (like they wear in county jails) attached EKG probes all over my body then planted me on a treadmill running at 3 mph and told me to walk till I dropped. Actually, they just told me to let them know when it became painful or when I was just to pooped to continue. The legs started giving out first because I never, ever, walk anywhere at 3 mph so the pace was a bit much. They slowed it to 2.5 mph to accommodate that problem for me, thankfully. Then the skin covering my left shoulder-blade started going numb, then it felt like it was burning, as did most of my left arm. I shared this info but they didn’t seem to be impressed so I pressed on. In truth, I wasn’t too concerned about my left arm either because it always tingles a bit and is always colder than my right arm. I blame all that on faulty nerves.

Once the pain became a bit much, and I had confirmed that I met the minimum BPM increase for my suspicious heart, I cried “Uncle” and they stopped the machine. Leaving me connected to the EKG unit, they put a chair on the tread mill behind me so I could sit during the 5-minute cool down period. All the while they kept the EKG machine running, sharing little knowing glimpses at each other and nodding, which wasn’t lost on me. It was obvious one saw something out of line and shared it for confirmation.

They took all their findings and left to confer with their staff, they said, and suggested that I sit down and wait, which I did. They were gone for a while. Finally, the NP reappeared and shared the good news that during the cool down period, as well as during the 30 heart monitor I recently did, they detected PVC’s of some sort that aren’t normal. Then I was told I was getting a new blood pressure medicine, Metoprolol Tartrate (a Beta Blocker), to take in addition to the other two blood pressure meds I currently take. I asked about the redundancy of taking so many different kinds of BP meds but didn’t get a reasonable answer. So, I’ll toss that one to my PC doctor who knows everything.

Now, about prescriptions. My new bottle of pills directs me to “Take one tablet by mouth twice a day.” I’ve seen this many times previously and always wondered at the wording, but seeing it again on my new prescription made me wonder just exactly how that should be done. I know what they mean, but I can’t help wonder how a more literal person than me would decipher the process. To me it means I should take one tablet, retrieve it, then take it again later in the day. They only way to do that, of course, would be to tie a string on it the first time. The problem is the pills are really small so I’d have to work on devising a way to attach the string.

I think it’s obvious I’m not going to be tying string to a pill any time soon because I’m pretty sure swallowing something like that would make me gag. If it didn’t on the way down, it surely would on the way back up. Nope. Not going to do it.

It’s time for me to rest and complete my stress test recovery process which includes a nap. It’s either that that makes me drowsy, or the big lunch Diane made me eat on our way home. I had a small chicken fried steak, hash browns, two eggs, three pancakes, and a cup of coffee. Whatever the reason, a nap is going to fix it.

Later.

Julia, A Notable Niece

Just a short time ago, like 30-40 minutes, I was having a fun time chatting with my niece in Connecticut. Her name is Julia and she’s not really my niece – her Grandmother is my niece. I suppose I could look up the proper placement of titles here, but I’m not going to because I’m OK with Julia being just my niece.

Julia is a dedicated Girl Scout and has been breaking records for cookie sales since joining the organization. Because of her prolific sales she was interviewed on the Today Show last March and most recently she had a meeting with Linda McMahon, the Small Business Administrator in Washington, D.C. Julia considers herself an entrepreneur and has some lofty goals for cookie next year. She told me she’s shooting for $3,000 in sales.

Julia is also a musician whose instrument is the bass violin, the really big one, taller than her. She named it Jerry. Of course I figured she had me in mind when she named it, which may have influenced some of the kind things I’ve said about her, but that’s probably not true. She said, “It just looks like a Jerry.” Perhaps it does.

 

God Bless Texas & Oregon

Normally, when someone mentions Texas to me I tend to ask, “Do you know where the best part of Texas is?” When I get the expected, “No,” I tell them, “Smack dab in the middle because then, no matter which way you go, you’re leaving.”

That’s just a harmless dig at Texans, of course, but the same could be true for any place I ‘spect. Even Oregon.

Personally, I pray that the weather will turn off the rain in Texas so the flooding can recede and people can get about the business of recovering. It’s pretty devastating. An ideal situation would be if all that rain could be redirected to Oregon & Washington to help put out 22 forest fires burning in those states. The most significant is the Chetco Fire near Brookings, Oregon. Much of that town has been evacuated as the fire approaches after burning more than 125,000 acres of timber. Many of the other fires have consumed 10,000 to over 30,000 acres. Containment is difficult because of the remote locations and continuing heat.

Please keep all the folks displaced by both flooding and fires, as well as those who are battle the elements to contain the damage, in your prayers.

Thanks.