A Brief 11-Day History of Recent Oregon Events

April 10th

We’re going to another softball this afternoon in Parkrose to watch the St. Helens JV “A” team play. Lydia has been playing 1st base and alternate pitcher with Brooklyn. Seems to work well. Their last game, on Wednesday, Brooklyn pitched 3 innings, and Lydia pitched 2. The final score was 26-0 when it was called after five innings. I know, you aficionados of the sport will report that max runs allowed in five innings is 5 so the final should have been 25-0, but I counted all of them. After two innings it was evident the other team were very new to the sport and were having serious problems catching the ball and hitting our pitches. Our varsity also won, 11-0 after five so the school we played needs help.

I mowed the yard yesterday but didn’t vacuum, thinking I’d get that done today. But, the grass didn’t dry out enough to get it all done so I only got the front and back yards cleaned up. The lower 40 is just a mass of chopped grass. Panzee loves it down there and rolls in it whenever she goes out. Diane isn’t at all happy that Panzee loves the loose grass, of course, because it sticks to her fur. I also burned up a large portion of the pussy willow tree that was lying around the burn pile in pieces. Took a while to get it going but once I did it burned nicely while I mowed. Today I continued the process and didn’t even have to use a match to get it going again because the ashes were still burning hot. Literally. A bag of shredded paper covered with some really dry branches from the old cedar tree barrier was all it took. Then I started dragging all those enormous branches to the pile and let her rip. Every once in a while I’d stop by the pile and work my way around the pile, shoving the branches into the smoking hot cinders. Oner of these days it will all be gone. I hope.

I also hope I’ll get the old RV road worthy … and the old pickup running reliably … and my desk clean … etc … one of these days.

Really late in the evening, Bob & Steffani showed up out of the blue. Apparently they were evicted from Idaho for a few days for some sort of unsubstantiated violation of an obscure rule regarding people who have nothing to do but complain about things no one else cares about because of their insignificance. As written, the law is intentionally vague which allows law-abiding citizens to cause situations where normally law-abiding citizens to be evicted from the state without the need for the accuser to provide even a tiny bit of evidence of the infraction. Only in Idaho, you think, right? Well, none of that is true as I’m sure you know. So, just disregard all of it.

But, Bob and Steffani did show up right about 10 pm demanding a room for the night even though they knew the room was reserved because they had confirmed it a week previously with one of their many expired Visa cards: 4180-8099-3286-2788 exp 02/11 secret code 2123. You can forget that, too, because I’m pretty sure I just made it up.

The reason for the visit was the Eastern Oregon University softball schedule that reported their daughter, Maryssa, was playing in a game against Concordia University in the morning at Concordia University. Complicating the scheduled games was the rain which wasn’t a problem when the schedule was created. Still, there was hope.

April 11th

After being forced to remain awake well beyond our normal bedtime the previous night, and then, to ensure our guests were properly cared for, we had to arise earlier than normal to prepare ourselves for the ensuing day’s events. With the games scheduled to begin at 1100 hours it was necessary to find sustenance in a timely manner in a way that didn’t sully the pristine condition of our kitchen which is only used for special occasions. This not being one of those times, we collectively agreed to partake of the succulent menu choices available at the Kozy Korner Kafe, one of our favorite eateries suitable for relatives of the lower order.

After enjoying a better than normal breakfast composed of various parts of, and issue from, various animals normally found in barnyards and fenced pens, it was brought to our attention that the 1100 game had been moved to 1300 because of the rain. It had also been moved from Concordia’s field to Sandy High School, 20-30 miles closer to Idaho. It was moved again to a later hour but I can’t remember which one. I do know it was late enough that Jennifer, who works on Saturday, and the entire family would be able to attend the entire double-header, both of which EOU lost. It was readily evident that the losses were allowed because of the coach’s unwillingness to make use the talents she left languishing on her bench while the opposing coach rotated virtually every player on her team into the game at some point to ensure they all had playing time. “What a concept,” a statement that was whispered by one of us and overheard by all, pretty much says it all regarding the stubborn, biased, misguided efforts of a coach who was in a position requiring a lot more ability than that with which she was currently equipped. So sad.

After the game we all went our separate ways to our homes.

Another significant event of the day was that Jeran officially turned 15. To emphasize this milestone in his life he managed to shoot up to a six-foot elevation and the odds are he will continue that trend. We all agree he’s going to be the tallest member of his family. Cedric will be next, then Daniel, Lydia, and Jennifer in that order. If that changes I will let you know.

April 12th

This was a totally routine day for us with the one incredibly random event that caused us to sleep well beyond our normal arousal time thereby making it to church on time pretty much impossible. So, we donned clothes that we normally wear outside the home, collected Diane’s Mom, Jean, then went to lunch. I honestly cannot remember where we went for this repast. It may very well have been a lunch at home. I can only attribute this memory loss as a testament to old age and/or early onset dementia.

April 13th

This day I spent rebuilding the mower deck on our old lawn mower. The blades, which I’ve sharpened at least three times, were all bent, causing an uneven cut. Also, due to the fact that I typically ran the mower far too long and fast in tall grass, the left most blade, from the perspective of one who is driving the mower, stripped the star-shaped thingy on the end of the pulley mechanism that spins the blade thereby making it necessary to over-torque the bolt holding the blade on in order to ensure the blade spun at all. Not a good solution for doing a good mowing job. So, I went online to Sears Parts Direct and ordered three new spindles, which arrived Saturday, and installed them on the already dismantled and clean mower deck. Apparently I cleaned the deck on Sunday and promptly forgot about it. But, there it was, laying in the back yard, just waiting for me to go to work.

Installing the spindles required me to obtain new bolts from ACE because 8 of the 12 bolts holding them on broke when I attempted to retracted them. They just snapped right off. To ensure I had the proper size bolts, I tried one of the salvaged bolts on the new spindles and discovered that the new spindles didn’t have threads in the holes. They were just, well, holes. Thankfully, I had a solution and, oddly, I knew exactly where it was in my messy basement shop. It is a tap set that I purchased at one sale or another with the thought of it coming in handy one day and that day had finally arrived. Luckily, I had the exact tap necessary to all me to install the new bolts. It was a splendid success story. I also reinstalled the front middle wheel on the mower deck which is apparently necessary to keep the deck from plowing into ground at each little rise in the landscape. It’s been that way for a long time now and I just hadn’t been motivated to find the correct sized shoulder bolt that would allow me to reinstall the wheel. ACE didn’t have them and the local Sears store didn’t carry them the last time I looked. So, when I went to Sears to purchase new blades I looked for that shoulder bolt and, oddly, they had them. It wasn’t a cheap stop because those blades, of which I needed three, cost $27 each. It was a shock because it’s been a long time since I bought new blades for the mower.

Once it was all put back together I reconnected the deck to the mower and wound up with one extra cotter pin and could not readily find an empty hole in which to insert it. I strongly considered just firing up the meow to see what would happen, but visions of metal parts flying around discourage me to the point where I laid down next to the mower and searched all the parts I had removed in order to remove the deck and finally found the missing hole on the rod that connects the front of the deck to the mower and allows one to adjust how far down the deck tips while in use. It was one of those cartoon moments where you search around, calmly looking at things and suddenly your eyes go wide and your vision impulsively zooms in and out on the target a couple of times. I could now start my test with no fear.

I attached the grass catcher tube and headed for the front yard as soon as the air compressor was able to supply enough air to fill up the front tires which are always going flat. Perhaps I should replace them, too. And the grass tube which has had more than it’s share of contact with the lower fence, and other immobile objects, making it necessary to bind the two halves together with duct tape.

Considering the efforts involved with getting the mower back into proper shape, I vowed to be more careful in the future and carefully mowed the front yard, twice. Once on 5 and once on 4. The results were spectacular – the cut was nice and even and new blades vacuumed up all the cut grass just like it did when it was all new. I was immensely pleased because I was able to restart my new grass pile around the burn pile in the lower 40.

It’s interesting about the grass pile. I’ve been dumping grass clippings in the same 20 foot long area for the past 7 years and have never needed to move to another spot. All the grass just keeps sinking into the ground. I’m sure there’s some pretty rich soil down there, but I really have no need for rich soil. Perhaps we should have a garden.

April 14th

Other than working on stuff I can’t remember, I facilitated another rendition of our Church Council meeting. We talked about a lot of churchy type stuff that probably wouldn’t mean much to any of you. So, I’ll just let this day go.

April 15th

Three significant things for today – big brother Jim had his 78th birthday, the IRS relieved me of a bucket of cash, and St. Helens JV team waxed Wilsonville something like 21-0. It was good to have the game end the day, making the IRS gift more tolerable. The JV 1 team is totally indomitable so far. They haven’t lost yet. They can hit, and their defense is awesome.

April 16th

Had coffee with church friends at 10 am then went directly to the golf course for another bad round of golf. Still had a good time with friends.

 April 17th

Today was a bit difficult because I had to go to the VA clinic to shed some blood at the hands of one of my favorite phlebotomists. That, alone, isn’t all that bad, but it was for a fasting lab meaning I had to stop eating before midnight last night. I did them one better and quit eating at 8 pm. I remembered to not eating anything in the morning and just held off the hunger with water until Diane got up and got me to the lab around 1030 or so. My phlebotomist used one of those new little tangly tube things and inserted the needle in a painless manner that, surprisingly left a lovely bruise.

After being phlebotomised by a pro, we began a semi-slow trip to Sandy in preparation for another JV softball game. This one was a little more tense because Sandy scored first and showed us a surprisingly good defense and good pitching. Lydia played 1st base and reported to the team that whenever a Sandy made it to first base they would jam their elbow into her back. She mostly shook it off until one girl hit her so hard it knocked her a few steps off-balance. That was incentive needed to pick up the game and whittle away at that 1-0 lead. An increased effort on defense and more concentration in the batter’s box which resulted in a 7-2 win for our girls. Not a blow out, like they’ve normally had. It was a solid team effort that should serve them well going forward.

April 18th

This day was the high light of the week because we got to attend a wedding. Making it even better, it was at the beach. Better still, the weather was fantastic. The bride, Noydena, is like another daughter for us because she and Jennifer have been great friends since middle school. Another “better” because the groom, Mathieu, and Noydena went to their Junior Prom together in high school. So, this is like a fantasy finale to an old romance. Very poignant, when it’s all said and done. Being Scottish, Mathieu and his male family members all wore kilts. It was a fun affair even though we had to get up at 0600 so we could leave by 0700. That was brutal.IMG_1698That’s Noydena and Mathieu on the rock, and the bride’s Mom, Sandy, expressing her excitement about being included in the shot.

Next is a photo of the Walter’s kids enjoying the beach. The little tiny one, way out to the left, is Jean in a swim suit. A brave person because, though the day was perfect, the water temp was hovering around 48 degrees. Normal people would have sunk and drowned, but not Jeran. Lydia is the in the white shorts, and Cedric is way off to the right, getting away from the water like a smart person should.

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April 19th

A typical Sunday for us except for the WELCA meeting on the end. I tried to stay out of it, but couldn’t seem to do that and wound up being the guest speaker for some reason. Then we went home.

April 20th

This is the big one, the reason I saved it for last. Today is the 47th anniversary of marriage to my best friend ever. We’ve been mostly happy all that time, and we’ve travelled a lot of places. The best part is that we did it together. All of it. And that makes it all excellent. With that in mind, I must terminate this in order to end it on a positive note. Not that there was a bad moment today, but that the longer I drag this out, the more potential there is for something bad to happen.

So, good night.

Lumber & Soccer

Today I was left all alone, by myself, while Diane went to Portland to play with Jennifer and Lydia. They didn’t actually play, per se, they shopped. For girls I suspect that counts as playing. I have it on good authority that they had a good time. I’m hope they still are because it’s 9:40 PM and they aren’t home yet. Perhaps they stopped at a beer joint on the way home for a sandwich or something.

My day started when my alarm went off at 0630 this morning. Yes, I actually set an alarm and it was absolutely horrible. But, I promised to help our Lions club put out flags to celebrate this holiday, so I did it. Once I was up it wasn’t so bad. After flags we always eat breakfast at Sunshine Pizza. I had a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee. Then I went home and had a good cup of coffee.

After changing into my work clothes I commenced the process of helping the remains of our pussy willow tree migrate from the upper yard to the lower yard where it would be easy to dismantle them further and let them enjoy the warmth of a nice cozy fire. Here’s what it looked like before all the branches were whacked off …

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… and this is how they all wound up after making their way down the hill …

IMG_0135The tree was 30-40 feet tall and just getting out of control. Plus, after all the little fuzzy things fall off the branches they are replaced with about a bazillion leaves that have to be sucked up with the lawn mower. It’s a chore. Now we’ll have a couple of years with no pussy willow leaves to be concerned about. Might take me that long to burn all the branches removed from the tree.

Our new neighbor, Scott, cut all the limbs off the tree because I told him he’d have to move if he didn’t. Since Whitney isn’t about to move any where she immediately sent Scott to the store to buy a new chain saw. Since Scott isn’t going anywhere without Whitney he did exactly what she told him to do. That new chain saw got a work out and it was gratifying that Scott, a Georgia Boy, was well versed in the ways of properly dropping timber where you want it to go. I thought only people in Oregon could do that. He did a terrific job and I believe I’m now in his debt. With luck, he’ll have to have something done that involves a computer, not a lot of manual labor. I can do that.

Tomorrow I must golf. Temps will be in the 60’s so it should be perfect. I should feel bad about planning that since the east coast is having one snow storm after another, but I’m really not. All those people over there that we know, and are related to, understand that they can come visit with us any time they want to. Seems like now would be the right time. But, no … instead they huddle in their homes or go to Las Vegas or Arizona. It’s probably no big deal to them since it’s actually a way of life for them. Still, they have a way to get some relief if they wish.

Diane arrived home, safe and sound, shortly before 10 pm so now I must wind down and prepare for slumber.

Hope everyone is well and adequately fed.

Oh! I forgot to mention that Lydia’s soccer team, HSC Crush, played on yesterday afternoon and won 6-0. Most of the action was at the other goal line so Lydia did a lot of this …

DSC_2861Fortunately, she remembered to bring her huge Mickey Mouse gloves so it was easier to shade her eyes from the sun while she watched the action at the other end of the field. Really, she stopped quite a few kicks on her goal. Not much gets by her.

Now I’m stopping.

Soccer, Subway, and Shivering

Yes, it’s sunny and bright where we live which is a bit uncommon, but it’s OK. As soon as the sun hides behind something the temperature drops about 40 degrees. It get pretty chilly.

To emphasize that, we went to Lydia’s last home soccer match with Sherwood and I had to put my fuzzy sweatshirt on about half way through the second half. I was still shading my little eyeballs from the sun, but being bright isn’t enough to keep me warm right now. We need to be a little closer to the sun. Then, after the JV game, we decided to stick around for the Varsity game and see how they did. Since there was almost an hour before the game started, at 7 pm, we went to Subway and got sandwiches because Lydia was hungry and thirsty. Instead of eating, however, she talked the entire time. I don’t know how she can think of so many things to say for such a long time. It’s amazing.

Diane and I finished our sandwiches while Lydia was talking then we had to go back to the stadium for the game. Lydia wrapped up what remained of her sandwich, refilled her giant sweet tea-cup, and away we went. Thankfully, we got a parking place right up front even though the high school parking lot was covered wall in cars. The Sherwood freshman football team was lined up along the fence where we parked so Lydia got out of the car and slipped gracefully into her sweat pants. Sherwood’s football team, incidentally, lost to St. Helens 32-0. The JV soccer team lost 6-0.

Once back in the stadium we found a spot on the aluminum bleachers. Let me tell you, those aluminum bleachers do not retain heat, at all. They do, however, retain cold quite nicely. My posterior froze to the seat and I had to fart six times in order to warm things up enough to extracate myself. Normally, a couple will do.

Actually, I don’t need to fart in order to stand up, no matter what I’m sitting on. It’s just that when bending forward in order to rise, my innards compress and there really isn’t any choice about where the gas is going to go. Certainly not up. I’ve learned that it’s never a good idea to suppress a fart because doing so makes it change directions, eventually transforming it into a burp that tastes like crap. I’m guessing about the taste, by the way, because I really don’t know what crap tastes like.

The Varsity girls played really hard but ended the first half down 1-0. Being severely cold, we called it quits and headed over to Jeff & Heather’s to pay up for Gilligan’s Fun Run. On the plus side of that visit, we got to see Tiana, Gilligan, and Jerrie Anne. It was past 8:30 pm, or so, and shouldn’t have been up. Lydia was delighted because she loves those girls. I think she was seriously considering waking up Baylee, too. But, she didn’t.

From there, we took Lydia home then took ourselves home, too. The dogs were delighted to see us, like normal. They bark a lot in greeting, then Panzee stops, but Ozzie walks out the garage, past Diane, barking the entire way as he trots out to the front yard to pee on his favorite plant. He’s been trying to kill it for years, but it isn’t working.

Now it’s late, and I have ‘stuff’ to do early in the morning, so I’m quitting. Turns out we’re going to have to scrap and paint the exterior of the house in order to secure a VA loan refinance on the house. The VA doesn’t like chipped paint as much as we do. So, that’s a new project, about which we talked all throughout the warm, sunny summer, but didn’t do. We’re motivated, however, because the refi is going to save us about $800 a month.

Yeah!

Lady Lions vs. Lady Indians

That’s what’s written on the shirts Diane and I wear to Lydia’s soccer games. The shirts also have her number on them. It’s # 1. That’s what Diane and wore this afternoon to the latest game. We have to keep watching because we’re right on the verge of figuring out what some of the rules are even though we don’t agree with them.

Before going there, however, I’m happy to report that Lydia’s nose had a miraculous recovery last night. Yesterday, her team mates told her she needed to put ice on it so it wouldn’t look so bad and scare the Scappoose girls today. She must have done something, or else she also has the ‘Amazing Healing Gene’ with which I’ve been blessed because it doesn’t look bad today.

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Instead of recapping the entire game, I’m just going to share a few photos I took with my magnificent camera with my magnificent telephoto lens. I can’t share all of them because the magnificent auto focus mechanism failed to function properly, no doubt, to the inability of the operator to set the various speed and aperture aspects which would elicit optimum photographic evidence of what was transpiring before him. Yes, all of that is true. The fuzzy photos were caused totally by operator error. So, you only get to see those that are at least in semi-focus.

First, what does the football team do while on the way to their locker room after their practice terminates?

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This one is for Sharmel. Her daughter is Laurel, #2 for Scappoose. We’ve known Sharmel for many, many, many years, and Laurel for most of her life. We do not mind that Laurel attend Scappoose High School at all because both Diane and I did, too.

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Next is one of Lydia duking it out with a frisky Scappoose Indian. It almost looks like they’re dancing, doesn’t it? Far from it. I believe right after this photo was taken, Lydia dropped the other girl like an autumn leaf then jumped in her stomach with abandon. That, of course, didn’t happen. Lydia has been known to knock other girls down, but she never jumps in their stomachs.

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While the soccer game was in progress, other members of the human race who have meaning for Lydia were frolicking in the top row of the bleachers. That’s Cedric, Lydia’s big brother, running off with the football that he just liberated from Chris who is sitting to Jacob’s right. They are both Cedric’s friends, all are sophomores, but Chris is more meaningful to Lydia than either of the other two.

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Here’re the Lady Lions taking their victory sprint across the field toward the bleachers after winning 2-0. It was a good game and fun to watch. We sat with Jennifer, Lydia’s Mommy, for the entire game.

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Now, about soccer rules … what’s the deal that the ball can roll right down the out-of-bounds line, but not be out-of-bounds. AND, the players can run out-of-bounds to kick the ball off the line with no fear of penalty. What’ that about? I mean, out-of-bounds is out-of-bounds. I guess when you only have one old guy in a yellow shirt, and jaunty black shorts, running down the middle of the field with a whistle that apparently doesn’t work, the girls can pretty much call the shots. All they have to do is just wait for the old guy to take one of his elongated blink, and they’re safe.

I must share a bit of crowd activity about which I heard after the game that involved a zealous Lady Lion Mom, not Jennifer, and the father of a Lady Scappoose Indian … the Mother was very loud in her vocal admonishment of Lions allowing Indians to push them around without pushing back a little themselves. The Mom confided in us, on the way out, that the Father displayed an inordinate level of assininity. A new word for me which I just love. I’ve never heard that one before and had to share it. I know that a new word because my spell checker didn’t recognize it.

That’s it …