VA, Costco, Michaels, Fred Meyer, & Lydia

Today I paid another visit to my psychiatrist at the VA clinic. She officially said that I’m not nuts after all and that I didn’t have to come back unless I wanted to. She was very nice and we had a good rapport. Apparently I speak a bit of her language. Anyway, we severed ties because she’s moving on to greener pastures with her skills. I can’t say that I’ll miss her because I’ve only seen her twice, but it was meaningful and we accomplished my goal of ridding my life of Ambien. By January I should be done with it.

Now all I have to do is lose about 30 pounds so the Diabetes Police will leave me alone. All I have to do is quit eating. Simple.

We returned home by way of Costco, the one on Jenkins Road, where we enjoyed a festive lunch of very large hot dogs. $3.00 gets you two of the foot longs plus two refillable drinks. Can’t beat that for a decent meal. Ok, ok, … it’s processed meat, I know, but it’s still a decent meal. On the plus side, I only had half a cup of soda instead of a full one with a refill, like Diane did.

Then we stopped at Michaels so Diane could get some important things. She let me stay in the Buick and rest. And read my book. On my iPad. Then we had to stop at Fred Meyer to get yogurt. She let me stay in the Buick there, too. Gas was only $2.27 but we didn’t need any. It’s cheaper at Freddie’s than it is at Costco.

One of the things she got at Costco was a dead chicken in a plastic box. It was all broiled and brown and I figured it was destined to be our early dinner. I was correct, as I am many times throughout the day. One of us may disagree on that point and that’s OK. I know I’m correct, like I am many times throughout the day. Again, there may be disagreement, etcetera.

Once home, my job was to dismantle the chicken while Diane made a festive salad. We had to hurry because I was tapped to return Lydia to Hillsboro for her weekly goalie training session. I did it because both Diane and Jennifer were booked for a hot bunco party, something they do once a month at various homes throughout the area.

Lydia and I had a very meaningful conversation on the trip over since it was just the two of us. We don’t get that kind of quality time together very often and it was good. I learn stuff. Today it was that one of the qualities of a good male friend, for a girl, is that he will hold your hair back when you throw up. Every time. She was sick, you see, during a teen conference thing for church and thought it would be more fun to throw up out side on the street than inside in a toilet. The male friend, I’m told, is sweet on Lydia but it’s been made very clear to him that she likes him like a brother. Still, he tries. During this learning evolution she consumed 17 of the 20 chicken nuggets we got at McDonalds on the way out of St. Helens. She only wanted 10, but for another $.50 we could get 20 so I opted for the bargain. It worked out.

Now I must stop. This is post 690. Maybe not a big deal to many of you, but it is to me. Thinking about all those words makes me tired.

PT, RV, TV, & Lydia

Today I actually got to pretend like I’m retired. At least for a little while. The only interruption to the day was my last PT appointment with EB at the VA. I don’t have to go back. Oh, the shoulder still hurts, but it was determined by mutual agreement that what needs to be done, I can do at home. As a parting gift, EB gave me a brand spanking new, in he box, ice pack. All I have to do, which I already did, is toss it into the freezer for a while. A great gift, and so simple to care for.

On the way home we decided to celebrate the lunch hour  by ingesting ground up parts of a dead cow. We seem to do that a lot. I know, it doesn’t really sound good when presented in that manner, but I’m not going to shade the truth. It is what it is. I still do not get the reference to pigs for the sandwiches created from the remains of that poor old cow. I think her name was Clarissa. Parts of her are probably still out there in someone’s freezer.

OK – sorry I went down that road, but it’s done and I can’t take it back.

After lunch, we returned home and let Panzee run free in the front yard for a while. Ozzie had to be forcibly relocated from his beloved kennel to the front yard for a little exercise, but he couldn’t wait to get back inside. Since he discovered what his last bowel movement cost, he’s decided, I guess, to just not ever have another one. His increased reclusive nature could also be the result of his distemper shot. We’re not sure. We just know he’s very not a happy camper right now.

One of my tasks today was to measure how many square feet of floor is visible in the old ’73 Winnebago. Turns out there’s around 42 square feet. Small, huh? The reason for obtaining those measurements is because so we’ll know how much replacement material we’ll need when we rip out the terribly stained carpet.

As luck would have it, we have some real deal bamboo flooring in our basement. It was purchased many years ago on a whim after seeing an advertisement on Craig’s List. I think there was a plan when we got it, but it was lost somewhere along the way. Maybe it was destined for the old Winnebago all along. The flooring consists of 24 boards, 3.75 inches wide, and 62.6 inches long which works out to a bit less than the area we need to cover. So, I’m either going to have to cheat on the math, or put spaces between the boards. Using spaces, they will eventually fill up with dirt and dust so that may be a viable solution. Diane will disagree, I’m sure. She does that a lot.

For fun, I set up the portable DirecTV HD antenna out by the garage and hooked up the DVR system in the ’79 Winnebago. I tried this yesterday, too, failing dismally. I knew where to point it, but getting it level proved to be extremely difficult. Today when I tried it, I discovered there’s a bubble level on the antenna, so it was a breeze. With bricks I was able to counteract the influence of the wind which was causing the dish to wiggle a bit, disallowing any possibility of obtaining a good signal strength. It went from ‘0’ to ’96’ plus, for all 32 whatevertheheck it is the DVR measures.

Once I got the good signal, I had a great picture … on channel 100.  Nothing else was available to me because the DVR hasn’t been turned on since last year some time. Now it’s going to be on every day. I’m just going to go out there every once in a while and turn it on, just because I can.

Now, about the portable antenna. It’s the same size as the ones mounted on homes. In fact, it used to be mounted on someone’s home but it was liberated and presented to me. It’s been languishing beside the garage for a few years but hasn’t lost any of its ability to capture digital images. It’s not even rusty like the one on the house.

My success in obtaining a stellar picture in the old motor home was obliterated by the fact that the DirecTV package I ordered does not include HGTV. Oh, the horrors that await me when we hit the road. I’m sure that aspect of the satellite programming will be reconsidered. Thankfully, that can be done on a whim. DirecTV is more than happy to up the ante, so to speak, by adding even more channels to the many you already don’t watch.

Speaking of that, I think satellite, and cable, providers should have an ala carte menu for programming suits each viewer. They can, we already know, be very selective about which channels you can get (the minimum is 55 for us, it seems, most of which we’ll never view) so why not just give us all the locals, TNT, Pac12, ESPN, MGMHD, SyFy, and, of course, HGTV. So charge me $5 apiece for each channel. I don’t care. Don’t give me the ‘package’ of 55 channels of which I will only, ever, watch those mentioned above.

I guess it’s not really a big deal, since I can set a favorites list, but that takes time to go through all those channels. Maybe Diane will do it. Another option, I guess, is to write down the channels we like and just punch in the numbers. Yea. That’s a reasonable solution. It just bugs me to see that hugs list of channels and not be able to see all of them. It’s a ‘thing’.

Now, the most interesting news is about Lydia. Summer is ending, there’s 2 weeks until she begins her freshman year in high school, and she was blessed with a solid case of Fifth Disease that will not dissipate until well after school pictures are taken. With Lydia’s permission, I’m sharing a photo that was taken yesterday when her face was all purple, and splotchy, and a little swollen. Every 14-year-old’s dream look, don’t you think?


Today, however, there’s very little, if any, swelling, and there’s no rash but it’s still covered with purple splotches. But, as you can see by the below picture, you would never know it.

Thanks to Avon, and the fact that her lovely Grandmother has lots of their products, they were able to rid her of that ‘look’ to ensure school pictures will probably not have to be repeated. It’s totally amazing.



I think she is a very brave, confident young lady to have allowed me to share the photos. She just rolls with the punches. That’s my Girl.

My Eyeballs

First, the cherry pie last night was wonderful. I was allowed to dip the ice cream which made it even better. The pie was still warm from the 2-hour cool down period so we timed it just perfectly.

So, I went to the VA again this morning. Not as early as last time, and I didn’t go alone. As most of you already know, I’m not allowed to drive long distances from the house because Diane isn’t sure I’ll find my way back. As a result, I’ve learned to be a good passenger.  A really good one.  I think I’m past the phase where I thought it was OK to say stuff, like “if I was following that close, you’d be yelling at me.” Or, “if I was driving, I would have turned back there. It’s shorter.” Or, “you cut that corner awful close back there.” I’ve learned that saying things like that create more situations for someone to be mean to you.

Just saying’ …

The VA optometry department uses young students to do all the hard work figuring out if your eyeballs are properly aligned, configured, and up to date. Then they go get a real doctor to check the results and he does it again. All of the students are female Asian people, as far as I can tell. That isn’t a racial issue, just an observation. Whenever I am attended by anyone at the VA, for anything, I always ask them if they love their job. Most of the time I’m greeted with an excited “yes”, but today it was more of a non-comment. She was serious about her tasks, and suspect she did them well, but I could tell they weren’t tasks she was thrilled to be doing. Being prudent, like I am, I didn’t press the issue. She was, after all, fiddling around with my eyes and I don’t have spares. So, I just sat back and obeyed her every command.

The first thing she did, once I was seated in her exam chair, was have me read the bottom lines of her eye charts which were behind me, but reflected on a mirror on a far wall in front of me. Tricky. The letters should have been backwards, but they weren’t. I could read them just fine. After that was done she searched around on her desk until she found the absolutely brightest light she had  which she began shining into one eye, then the other.  I think she had already put some drops into my eye, but can’t remember. At that point, I was consumed with the light. I have to admit that the residual image it left was a pretty green circle that turned blue when I blinked. Very festive.  The lights took about half an hour, then she put the dilating drops into my eyes and sent me to the waiting room to let them work for a while. I waited patiently, playing Sudoku on my iPad, and looking for a new book. I just finished James Rollins “Bloodline”. A fun read because lots of stuff blows up.

When she called me back to the chair, my eyes must have been mostly black because they were sucking in all the light they could find. I’m sure I could see in the dark about then. Very little light was required. So, what does she do? She breaks out and even brighter light and went through all the tests again – look up, look down, look left, look right, look right and down, look left and up, look right and up, look left and down. Just like that, over and over. At one point she changed it up on me and held her hand in front of her chest and commanded me to look there. I did, but I gotta tell ya, there’s not a lot to see when they’re wearing lab coats.

Finally, it was done and she went to get the real doctor who, as I already related, did the tests again, but in a more brief fashion. I think he was just spot checking the student. That’s OK. They need to be spot checked. While he looked, he relayed information to the student who typed it into my record, kind of like a dentist does only she had pictures of eyeballs, not teeth. Then he gave me the good news that my eyes looked healthy and there isn’t any evidence of a diabetic problem which means I can increase my candy intake right away. He also told me that the retina in my left eye has some wrinkles in it that will go away if I make more of an effort to keep my eyes wide open at all times, when not sleeping. That’s a lie, of course. Wrinkles happen. I’ve got wrinkles all over, so why not on my retina? Actually, I already knew this from the last visit. It’s no worse, it’s just not something that’s going to go away. Also, I don’t need new glasses because my prescription hasn’t changed. Exciting stuff.

I was finally released after about 1.5 hours and called Diane to come and get me. Before the appointment she dumped me out front and rushed off to the closest Goodwill store seeking ‘things’ she didn’t know she needed. It’s actually good exercise for her because she walks all over the store the entire time, hanging on to her cart into which she tosses random items which she will re-evaluate before hitting the checkout stand. She just grabs stuff before anyone else can get it on the off-chance it might be something useful. Normally it is. And, she has a good time.

She said she’d be around in 10 minutes so I waited a few, then took my dilated eyes outside into the bright sunshine. Just as soon as I went out the front door I figured my eyes were dilated to about 8 cm because my water broke and ran down my face. This happened even though I was wearing a pair of those slip behind your glasses fake sunglasses. It helped, but not enough. Still, I toughed it out and walked up the sidewalk to a point where I knew Diane would see me when she arrived. I knew she would, because I did that one other visit and she drove right past me. Boy. did I give a talking to that I’ll regret forever! It was educational because I was able to visualize my boundaries and talking points more clearly once she was done explaining things to me. Because of that, I knew she would remember, as did I.

Even though my eyes have been certified to be OK, and will last for many years with proper care, I intend to continue practicing braille when possible. I’m going down to DMV tomorrow and see if they can give me a braille version of their manual so I can study for my test next year. If they don’t have one, I’m calling the ACLU, by golly.

The trip home was uneventful. No one tried to run over us. Unusual for Highway 30, but a pleasant change.

Once home we were both very hungry. I was hungry during my test. I knew this because my stomach made various kinds of gurgling noises throughout all the left, right directions. It didn’t ruffle the student at all, but I wonder what she would have done had I farted, as I wanted to do. Repressing my flatulent nature probably contributed to the gurgling. Normally, I don’t repress farts because it is my firm belief if farts are withheld repeatedly, they eventually turn into burps that taste like crap. Thinking about that reminds me of a saying I heard somewhere, that when you’re kissing someone, you’re just sucking on a 30′ tube that’s half full of crap. Kinda takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it?

For lunch Diane and I had custom nachos – I made the bite-sized ones for both of us. They are really good. For dessert we each ate another piece of cherry pie with ice cream. Just when I was settling into a semi-slumber mode, the dogs started barking because Jennie and Jeran showed up for a visit. It’s always good to see them. Actually, Ozzie’s the only one who barks – Panzee kinda talks to those she knows. Unless it’s a cat. Or another dog. Or a deer.

Changing gears, here are some totally unrelated pictures you may enjoy.

Ozzie on guard in the geraniums – he thinks he’s blending in.


My favorite dry cleaners, on the way to Pill Hill (VA Hospital). I’ve mentioned this.


OK – that’s it. Now I need to go out and clean up some more brush from my previous weed whacking efforts.


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.

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.

VA, Village Inn, and the ReStore Store

Today Diane drove me to my PT appointment at the VA Hospital on Pill Hill in Portland. I endured about 45 minutes of severe pain from EB then we went to the Village Inn, on Wielder Avenue, near the Lloyd Center, for breakfast. From there we went to the Habitat For Humanity ReStore store near Mall 205, which is, oddly, near I-205.

At the ReStore store we purchased some different festive ceramic tiles for the bathroom project, but all we went there for was to see if they had any pedestals that might fit the sinks Diane and Jennifer purchased last week. They didn’t, but we learned they allow returns.

So, while Daniel and I worked on the bathroom, to secure the overlayment flooring, Diane and Jennifer returned to the ReStore store to return the sinks and pedestals in favor of ones that match. This meant, of course, that they timed it just perfect for Portland’s rush hour traffic on Friday afternoon. They returned around 6:30 pm after stopping at Fred Meyer in Scappoose for salad to go with the lasagna that Lydia cooked. They got a watermelon, too. It was all very, very good.

As mentioned above, Daniel and I secured the layer of flooring, to which we will glue the linoleum. Because of that, it has to be absolutely smooth, with no nicks and divots due to the screws used, all of which were secured a tiny bit below the surface of the wood. Daniel used floor leveling compound to fill those divots, and the cracks between the board. Tomorrow we can see about cutting the linoleum. I’ve been wanting to do that for days, now. Just cut some linoleum. It doesn’t have to fit. I just want to cut it. With my knife.

While waiting for Diane and Jennifer to return, after we had done what we could do in the bathroom, I watched TV with Lydia and found out what I’ve been missing. We watched “The New Girl” which is all about sex and weird relationships. There are morals in there somewhere, but all of them are pretty loose ones. It’s funny on the same lines as “The Big Bang Theory” which Diane and I really like. I think there are 22 episodes stored on the DVR for later viewing, when we have a chance to sit down at home. Lately that’s been difficult.

I need to mow the yard again, too. The grass continues to grow even though we haven’t watered it all year. It’s still kinda green, too.

Did I mention hat Daniel and Jennifer laid out the new tile in a desired pattern for the wall? They did it wrong, of course, because some of the new tiles we got have a kind of rorschach pattern on them, and they are all the same. Lydia and her OCD-ness fixed it by ensuring all the patterns were lined up in the same direction. It’s going to look right nice when done. That will happen one of these days. I keep telling Jennifer that but I don’t think she believes me. She’s resigning herself to a life with nights interrupted by children using their bathroom who don’t know how to close doors quietly and who don’t realize gravity takes over when you let go of the toilet lid.

That’s it for today. Gotta save the cat from Panzee now.

VA, Weinies, and Mold

This afternoon I had an appointment at the VA Hospital for physical therapy. On the way we always pass this dry cleaner in Portland that has the coolest sign in the window – “Drop your pants here!” I’d do it, but Diane won’t stop and let me. Just want to accommodate.

This morning I spent a couple of hours with Daniel seeing how bad the damage is on the bathroom floor and the consensus is that we’re just going to gut it and start from scratch. We know for sure that we’ll have to replace some of the sub-flooring, and underlayment, so might as well make sure it’s all gone. The mold smell is horrendous now that we’ve unleashed it into the atmosphere. But, it’s trapped in the bathroom and the kids are on notice to stay out until it’s all cleaned up. We also yanked out the bathtub. It’s actually OK where it was sitting, but I wrecked it with the sledge yesterday, as reported, so feel obligated to replace it. I suggested to Dan that we just put it in the back yard and they can use it to plant something. It will probably just go into the dumpster that’s on the way.

On the way home we stopped at Fred Meyer’s to get “a couple of things” and walked out many more than that. Typical for those kinds of stops. But, we needed all of it so it wasn’t a wasted or un-frugal stop. One thing she got is a cat nip scratch pad thingies for Breezy. She laid on it a couple of times then ran off when I tried to move it away from the deck railing, fearing she might start flipping all over and fall off. We’ll see how it works out.

Dinner tonight is beans-n-weinies and potato patties. Comfort food. Diane boiled a dead chicken yesterday thinking I’d make egg noodles today, for my world-famous chicken and noodle soup, but there was no time. That will be a task for tomorrow. It’s not really soup because there are no vegetables in it. I cook the liquid down, and add flour until it’s thick like gravy, then we put it on mashed potatoes. It’s part of our new diet that I call “I Like Starch So There.”  For those who like acronyms, it could be ILISTARSOTH.

EB, my physical therapist, made me hurt today and all he used was extremely large rubber bands. I didn’t know it at the time, but now it’s 7:30 pm, five hours later, and I’m a little sore. Maybe I should exercise more.

Gotta quit, now. Game seven of the NBA finals is on.

Go Spurs.