Holy Toledo

That’s Toledo, Oregon, in case you’re wondering. Today we visited this small artsy-crafty village which is situated abut four miles east of Newport. It’s got a huge saw mill and an odiferous paper mill for industry as well as a main street that turns in to a city wide yard sale every Thursday. Fortunately, today was Thursday so we got to enjoy a wonderful stroll along the street meeting some very nice people. Actually, everyone we met was very nice.


We saw these same tied-dye folks in Waldport yesterday. Some of the other vendors were also there. Also, all of the shop owners along main street pulled their wares out onto the street …


We got a little hungry when we got to the end of the main street and fortunately crossed paths with Sassafras Sue. She wasn’t real keen on having her picture taken but acquiesced for this one shot, as long as she didn’t have to look at the camera. So, she didn’t. Diane and I had sandwiches, Les and Sophie had salads. All of it was most excellent, the prices were good, and the service exceptional. We went back later to get special coffee from their very own Starbucks certified barista who has been doing it for ten years, since she was sixteen, before and after she went to college to be a social worker.


Today we met a dog named Bruce. Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of him. You would have liked him because he looked kinda like the dog-dragon animal in “The Never Ending Story”. He was brown, instead of white, and he was much smaller.

As we departed Toledo, the clouds condensed and began overflowing, giving us a more familiar version of coastal weather. We don’t mind. We had to get “home” to let Ozzie run. He’s been a good little house sitter for us and doesn’t seem to mind. Probably because he knows he’s going to get a treat when we get back to him.


Before going inside I hooked the RV up to the Buick so we could head out in the morning if the weather is still nasty. If we do, we’ll just wander up Highway 101 to Astoria and skip the freeway.


Oregon Coast

Greetings from God’s country … He may visit your place, but this is where He vacations. Just to prove it, here are a bunch f pictures, most taken today as we drove south n Highway 101 to Yachats, Oregon. Yachats, by the way is pronounced Ya-hots. I know, it screws with my head, too, but that’s the way it is.

The lighthouse picture is Yaquina Head, just a few miles north of Newport where we are currently living until Saturday. The other odd beach picture is of Oregon’s, and perhaps the entire West Coast’s, most famous piece of debris from the Japanese tsunami. It’s a cement floating dock that’s about 60 feet long, 20 wide, and 12 tall. Not a minor piece of beach debris at all. Perhaps those of you who don’t live in this neck of the woods have seen it on the news. Perhaps not. It washed up on Agate Beach a month or so ago.

Most of the beach pictures were taken at Cape Perpetua. Lots of volcanic rock, very reminiscent of beaches on the Kona side of Hawaii. Quite beautiful.

The bridge is the one that spans the entrance to Yaquina Bay at Newport.

So, enjoy. I’m tired and quitting for today. Diane said she walked 11 miles today because she took twice as many steps. We did walk a lot. Our escorts were Les and Sophie, a couple of our Classic Winnebago Club friends.










South Beach State Park

Today was brutal. I had to drive the Winnebago over 165 miles, all by myself, in order to lead Diane, who was riding in the comfort of her luxury SUV, to South Beach State Park where we will stay for the next five nights.

Preparation began weeks ago. “Things” we’re staged in various places around the interior of the house and I was given a list of “must do’s”, which I did last night and this morning. Once again, we loaded those staged items, as well as anything that was laying around on horizontal surfaces, emptied both refrigerators, half of the small freezer, and some last minute choices from the garage.

Consequently, both the RV and the Buick were packed to the brim with with everything we owned that might come in handy for pretty much any situation. It’s good to be prepared.

We stopped in Philomath to visit a short while with our friend Mary Jane. She and her special friend, Bob, each have a PT Cruiser. Maybe it’s MJ has two of them and she let’s Bob drive the old one. That’s probably more correct. It was good to see her. She and Bob lives very close to Reser Stadium, home of the Oregon State Beavers.

Philomath is about two thirds of the way to Newport, our destination, so once we left there we only had about in hour or so to go. It was exciting in the RV because it was a winding, two lane, up and down hill kind of road. Typical for this part of the world, it was beautiful, made more so because of the rain shows interspersed with bright sunshine. Once we arrived in Newport, there was no more rain and we got checked in and hooked up in no time at all. First on the agenda was dinner since lunch for both of us had consisted of a tube of crackers each. And coffee.

After dinner it was off to the beach for a walk in the sand. We had two choices for getting there … one path is 1/4 mile long, the one closest to us is 1/3 mile. We took the closer one. Shortly after starting up the path we were surrounded by hoards of Mosquitos who demanded all our blood. Not willing to part with more than as little as possible, we fought back. Here’s what Diane’s back looked like most of the time until I smacked the hell out of her with my hat, then did the same to myself.


Poor little Ozzie went airborne a few times when they picked him up and tried to cart him into the brush. Thankfully, we had a leash on him so got him back each time but not without a fight. We made it about halfway before turning back. It was a choice of finishing the trip and having to battle the entire way back, or turn around then and only fight halfway. Once back, we got in the car and drove to the beach which proved to be a very good choice. Here are some of the things we saw there …





Sadly, I must report an injury to myself. It happened within seconds after arrival as I was attempting to enter the RV the first time after hooking up the power. It hurt a great deal and it got mood n my shirt which is interesting because it didn’t tear anything but skin. I guess I’m more delicate than once I was …


It was a vicious, unprovoked attack on myself by the door latch for reasons that still mystify me.

Another odd thing was when Diane’s front teeth became swollen. We can only presume it was caused by a radioactive mosquito that washed ashore in the tsunami debris from Japan. Thankfully, the swelling went down quickly, but we don’t know what’s in store for tomorrow. It was frightful …


Now it’s late and time for sleep.

The Wedding

Today was the big day for Heather & Justin. It was also a sad day. Bittersweet for Ruth, for today would have been her and Lyle’s 40th wedding anniversary. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, because before all of that, we had to make the trip to Saratoga Springs.

We were up early, like 6:30 or so, I think. Not wanting to forget something potentially important, I put everything I owned into a small Target bag, got my camera, and climbed into the back of Ruth’s Toyota. Sarah drove because I only had a vague notion of where we were going. We followed Larry and Valerie in their Mustang convertible, and Carol and Martin in their new BMW. We were a small parade of Connecticut vehicles winding our way through Massachusetts and NW past Albany, New York to Saratoga Springs … I already said that, didn’t I?

The trip went fairly quickly for me because I read my book on the iPad the entire way except for a couple of times when I was asked what the next exit was and which way to turn. Sarah did that because I had the GPS running on the iPad just for backup and they wanted confirmation that Larry and Valerie were doing it right. Easy trip.

When we got to the last exit, the GPS took us the wrong direction so we were about a mile off on the location of the hotel. I reset the stupid thing and we found it no problem the 2nd time. It’s a Comfort Inn. We got here pretty early because we had all the flowers for the wedding, and Ruth needed to get her portable steamer here to undo the wrinkles in the lady’s dresses. Once we got our stuff into the room, about 11:00 am, all the women disappeared so I just sat in the lobby waiting to see what was going to happen. Turns out, there wasn’t a lot going on in the lobby, and it was time to be hungry so I went to a Five Guys with Martin and we got hamburgers which we brought back to eat in the lobby. We also got a grilled chicken thing for Sarah. She wanted something healthy. Probably because she’s a nurse.

Time passed, I ate a few cookies at the registration desk, then people started filtering in to the lobby. I went outside and talked to some of the younger guests, and wedding party members, and explained how bad it is for them to smoke, which they already knew, then went back to the lobby. I initially thought is was going to be a pretty boring wait to tell the truth, but that was OK. Then new faces started showing up. I struck up a conversation with an older lady, with a crutch, to get the story on all the tattoos she was displaying. I’ve learned that every tattoo has meaning for those who get them. That’s true, mostly. Some folks get tattoos and don’t know it until the next morning when they take a shower and discover the new, and sometimes inappropriate, graphics adorning their previously unadorned bodies. How fun would that be?

Anyway. I got to visit with people I didn’t know and had cookies. Sometimes it just doesn’t get any better than that. I did participate in the evolution to move some cars to the Knights of Columbus lodge, about eleventy miles away, so we wouldn’t have to car pool back to the hotel. That’s because all the wedding girls road from the hotel in a Lincoln Navigator limo. I followed them in the Toyota. All by myself. Alone.

Pictures in hotel lobby, heading for the limo …



Sarah with Arianna and Jeffrey David


Heather – the bride


Once we got to the lodge, things moved quickly. All the girls got inside and some guy, lined us all up in the lobby in the order we would enter. I was the only guy there who got to do it twice … once to deliver Ruth to her table, then again so Cheryl would have something to hang on to so she wouldn’t fall down in her new high heels. She held on real tight. I, of course, was dressed totally inappropriately because all the other guys were in suits, or a tuxes. Me? I wore jeans, my cowboy boots, my string tie, and a festive, light brown sport coat. It was the same outfit I wore on the plane to get here, and the same one I wore to the wake, and the funeral. Though it’s getting to be a bit gamey, no one seemed to mind. Cheryl even gave me my very own flower for my lapel. Nifty. It had a magnet to hold it in place, but I didn’t discover that until after the wedding when I was playing with it.

Once I delivered Cheryl to her table I sat down. Thankfully, Sarah was taking pictures with my camera so captured everyone entering the room. It was a gala affair and I was happy Sarah took the initiative to do that. Here’s what I looked like with Cheryl on my arm …


It was a nice ceremony. Very simple and elegant, conducted by a gentleman with very long hair. Once the vows were exchanged, the party began. First, it was a buffet dinner with light, soft background music provided by a real DJ parked in the corner. After the wedding party went to get their food, it was a buffet, the DJ started calling table numbers. We were at table 6, however, and didn’t want to wait, so we crashed the line. It was warranted, however, because Ruth needed to eat … me too … it had been a while since either of us had eaten anything (lobby cookies excluded) and we were getting weak. No one seemed to mind. The DJ even quit calling numbers and just turned everyone loose. It was chaos as everyone raced to get in line before everything was gone.

The food was very good … Italian. I only ate one plate full and quit. Diane would be proud of me. Then I sat there and watched all the young people dance until they got all sweaty. They were having a real good time. I got all sweaty just watching them. I realize that can be “taken” many ways, depending on the way your mind bends. Anyway, watching wore me right out. Little Arianna and Jeffrey David, the bridesmaid’s, Laura’s, children, who were the ring bearer and flower girl, were running and sliding across the floor having a good time. It was fun to watch and, again, made me sweaty just thinking about all that energy being expended without any evidence. Arianna (4) started with a white floor length dress but polished a great deal of the floor when she discovered she could take off running then drop to her knees and slide to a stop. Jeffrey was doing his six-year-old version of break dancing. It was exhausting.

Finally it was time for the cake, which was made out of lemon, red velvet, and chocolate cupcakes. Very cool. The only time I’ve seen that done before is by Jennifer, my favorite daughter, when she makes birthday cakes for the kidlets. Really a nice way to do large cakes. I ate two lemon ones.


Then the party started getting louder, and louder, interspersed with soft quiet music for slow dancing. During one of those moments, Cheryl came over and asked me to dance with her. We were the only ones on the floor for the entire song so it was pretty special for me. These kids (Larry, Carol, Cheryl, Susan, Heather, Laura, Sarah), and their husbands (Allen, Martin) and wife (Valerie), have all made me feel special the entire time I’ve been here. Kinda makes me want to plan another trip east in the not too distant future. I know Diane would love it.

Soon the music volume rose to the level determined by scientists to be that at which folks older than 58 were forced to leave the area. It’s like those high pitched devices used to keep rats out of your basement, or those whistles you put on your bumper so the deer know where to look before they get hit. So, we bid adieu to the bride and groom and headed back to the hotel. It was time. We were tired.

Here are a few random pictures. I don’t have any idea which ones they are because in the blog it just a bunch of HTML coding that I only kinda understand.

Dr. Allen Gouse, the Dad


Sarah and Susan




Thanks to all who are following this journey. I appreciate your comments.

The Lull Before The Wedding

Today was a free day for Ruth and me because most of the family left for Saratoga Springs, near Ballston Spa, for the wedding early this morning. The plan is for the remainder of us to head that direction before 9am tomorrow. We’re taking the flowers and will leave as soon as they arrive. The hope is that we can get the flowers delivered earlier so we can leave earlier because Ruth wants to steam the dresses of the wedding party prior to pictures. Valerie is taking the girly pictures of the preparation, and Larry is doing the guys. I’m doing candid shots of everyone else.

Travel arrangements are iffy, at this point, because Ruth’s car currently has five passengers (Ruth, Martin, Carol, Sarah, and me) in addition to whatever luggage is needed, and all the flowers. Could be a little crowded, so I’m guessing Carol and Martin will drive their Beemer over so there will be room for everyone. Whatever is decided will be reported in tomorrow’s blog. One thing is for sure, we’re glad to be here, and not there right now. Sarah and Ruth have fielded many calls throughout the day from Cheryl about details, and they both said it sounds like a mad house there, What fun. Ruth really got worn out as the afternoon departed, and tried to use the TV remote to call someone.

Here, it was nice and quiet. Ruth went to the doc for a followup and was told things are looking much better and that she can have a sip of champaign tomorrow, but no more. Kinda like just drape her tongue in a glass is all.

Before she left the house, I went to back Lyle’s van out of the garage so I could liberate the mower, but the van wouldn’t start. Sounded like a weak battery. I called AAA and they showed up in about 10 minutes and discovered that one of the cells was bad. It had a charge, but not enough amps to kick the starter. As Ruth dashed to Carol’s car she paid for the new battery and I filled out the paperwork as she drove away. So, it cost $122 to get the mower out of the garage this morning. But, the van works fine, now.

I used Ruth’s new John Deere walk behind the mower and did the entire lawn in about 3 hours. I tried wearing my cowboy boots but that didn’t work so well so I decided to go barefoot. I rolled up my jeans and plodded along, stepping on various sharp things in the yard, but not bad enough to draw blood. It just hurt a little and made me limp differently than I normally do. I got over it.

Here’s what the mowed lawn looks like.


Nice job, huh? It’s a HUGE yard.

When I was done my feet were predictably green so I shook off as much grass as I could and went directly to the bath tub. Sitting on the edge, I scrubbed my feet until the water turned clear, then dried them off and went to take a break. About then, Ruth returned with good news from her doc’s appointment with the good news. She had a soda in her hand which was a sure indicator she’d had something to eat. All I had to that point was the eggs, bacon and toast that Ruth forced me to cook this morning. Since I’m not used to big breakfasts, it stayed with me for a long time. Knowing I should, I made a sandwich, using the remainder of the ham and provolone cheese. It was good.

Larry showed up sometime in the afternoon and tilled Lyle’s garden, power washed the back porch, then planted bunch of vegetables in the newly tilled garden. It looks great. Lyle’s proud.

Sarah arrived in the afternoon, too, to check on Ruth and visit. At one point we three trekked off to Target to get a prescription for Ruth, and a travel shave cream thing for me. I also got a pair of shorts, all by myself. And they fit. They’re black and match my black long sleeved peace sign shirt nicely. That’s what I’m wearing for the trip tomorrow.

After a nice Chinese dinner, which was ordered from the house, and picked up by Valerie, we visited for a while, fielded frantic calls from Saratoga Springs regarding the wedding, one of which was actually for me. Cheryl already told me that she wants me to wear Lyle’s boutonniere, and ride in the limo with the wedding party, and tonight she asked me to walk her down the isle. What an honor. The only stipulation was that I had “to lose the cowboy hat.” Again, I’m honored. I’ll probably cry, and everything, because it will remind me of walking Jennie down the isle. She held my hand that day which was very special to me. And she knows it.

Time to quit and go to bed because we’re up early and I’ve been sleeping almost 8 hours a night. That’s unusual for me, but, then, there are no animals here to sound the alarm when bladders bulge.

Sweet dreams to all, and thanks to those of you who make nice comments. They are appreciated a great deal.

The Funeral

Today was an extremely long one. It’s now 9:34pm, and it started at 6am. I know, to most of you that’s really not a big deal. Perhaps not on a normal day, for a normal person. But, today wasn’t, and I’m not, so I’m told.

It was important for me to get up before 7am in order to be alert before Sarah got here to make pancakes for Ruth and me. Of course I told her it wasn’t necessary, but I really didn’t try very hard to dissuade her. Sarah, as some of you may know, is Larry’s daughter, therefore Ruth and Lyle’s granddaughter. She’s an emergency room nurse at the Hartford hospital where Lyle finally saw the light.

Sarah showed up right on time and went about making the pancakes as promised. She did, however, make me cook my own eggs, which was just fine with me. Actually, she would have cooked those, too, but I thought getting pancakes was great, and going for eggs, too, was pushing the limit a little.

After I started the eggs, Ruth decided she’d like some, too, but she wanted hers scrambled. So, I scrambled the eggs I was cooking and gave them to her. Since they were the last two in the refrigerator, upstairs, I had to trek to the basement where they keep all the replacement food. Then I cooked my eggs. As you know I usually take pictures of things I eat but this time I didn’t. I’m sorry.

It was a very good breakfast so Sarah got both Ruth and me off to a great start. And it was a good thing, too.

First up was returning to the funeral home where we once again assumed our seats while those who wished to participate in the procession to the church filed in and took a seat. Lyle was still there in the background quietly taking in all the goings on. As people arrived, they signed in. When everyone was there, the funeral crew started calling out names. As each one was called, they stopped and kneeled by Lyle, on the handy kneeling platform provided, paid their last respects to him, then exited to their vehicle which was already adorned with a little magnetic flag that was imprinted with “Funeral”. It was purple. I remember that.

Alas, the family was last to leave. Prior to departing, however, I stretched the boundaries of funeral protocol by taking a few dozen photos. I will save those for a more private viewing, because I took pictures of everything.

Finally we were released to enter our vehicle. We had Ruth’s Toyota Highlander, and we were vehicle number one. A Funeral Traffic Director lined up the vehicles in two rows at the parking lot exit and urged us to wait for the hearse to pass before we took off. We did, and the hearse, preceded by a van with a nifty blinking blue light on top, finally went around us and the procession was started. Larry was driving with Ruth up front, Valerie and me in the back.Valerie is Larry’s wife.

It doesn’t take very long to get places in Connecticut so it was a relatively short trip. The hearse, and the pace van, led us to the front of the church where we parked in the wrong lane, against the curb, on a narrow street. No one in the oncoming lanes blew their horns, or anything, so I guess they’re used to this around here.

We debarked our ride and waited in front of the church while the pall bearers helped Lyle out of the hearse and walked him up the stairs to the coffin holder on wheels. They rolled it into the church a little ways, Ruth and me right behind, then stopped until Father O’Grady came back to bless the casket. Then it was covered with a nice table cloth and pushed to the front of the church. Ruth and I had to hurry to keep up, but we made it.

The family filled the first two or three pews on the right side of the church, then the ceremony began. I had an aisle seat, right behind Ruth, next to Sarah, and two other granddaughters, Laura, Heather.

First, Susan, one of Lyle’s and Ruth’s granddaughters, sang. Did I tell you that she sings like an angel? Well, she does. I would have taped it but wasn’t allowed to bring my camera into the church. That’s not true. I just gave it a little thought and decided it wouldn’t be appropriate, so left it in the car under my hat. Susan sang many songs during the service and it was absolutely beautiful.

All the way to the church I went over and over what I intended to say, trying to commit it to memory, and thought I had a pretty good handle on it. I was prepared. I was ready. Then, too soon, Father O’Grady said my name and I totally forgot all of it. On the way to the pulpit I regained a little of my memory, and was given a little more time to think when Susan came over from her place, to give me a huge hug. Then I began … here’s what I was going to say …

Lyle was 19 when I was born, and well on his way in life. Consequently, my childhood memories of him are sparse. I learned about Lyle through pictures, stories, and infrequent visits to Oregon throughout the years. One childhood picture continues to capture my attention – it’s of Lyle in his cracker jack Navy uniform, holding me as a newborn in 1944.

We were always aware of what was going on with Lyle through letters and cards. That method of communications, however, doesn’t convey the true depth of ones impact on the community and the family surrounding him.

After I joined the Navy I found myself more often in a position to either visit him in California, or at his home here. And, I got to know more about him, learning to love him as a brother instead of a random visitor.

He was unselfishly devoted to his family with Ruth which is obvious to all who knew him. In return, they were devoted to him. Respected him. Adored him. He was living a dream with Ruth, Larry, Cheryl, Carol, and Todd.

He was a pillar in the community and we are all proud of his accomplishments. We loved him even though he never tired of telling us Oregonians what a “real” hoagie, or a “real” pizza was.

When Lyle turned 70 years old we started a tradition of traveling to each brother as they, in turn, turned 70. Lyle and Ruth traveled west for Jim in 2006, and again for Jack in 2008. Sadly, my 70th celebration will be one brother short. I understand, and know that he will be there in spirit as an honored guest.

A few days ago I found myself alone, and I sat in the quiet house, in Lyle’s place at the table. Letting my mind wander a bit, which isn’t surprising to most who know me, I could easily envision Lyle puttering around in the kitchen, or calling to me from another room, to relate something of importance. It was comforting, and I knew he was with me.

He’s with me now, as he always will be. I’ll miss not being able to hug him, shake his hand, or simply just watch him sleep on the couch.

But, I have my memories of those events and can make them very real simply by closing my eyes. I can only hope that I leave half as many happy and loving people as Lyle did in the swirling wake of his life

As for the events of the last five weeks, In Lyle’s and Ruth’s words, “this too shall pass.”

I don’t really recall what I actually said, but many parts of the above were included. I did remember to speak slow, as Jack suggested at our last funeral, and it seemed to work well after I got the mike pointed in the proper direction. When I was done, I introduced Larry who had written many things about why he loved Lyle. It was very moving, and I’m happy he went 2nd because I could never have equalled him.

Then Susan sang another song and it was amazing not only because of her voice, but because the bulk of her family were sitting in the pews crying while she stood strong throughout. She held herself together to the end and we were all proud of her strength.

Lyle was then wheeled from the church for the final time, followed by Ruth and me, and the rest of the family. I haven’t yet mentioned that I felt overly honored to have been given the honor of leading everyone with Ruth but, then, it may have just been an age thing. Still, I was humbled.

After sliding Lyle into the hearse, the pall bearers melted into the crowd and we entered our vehicle for the trip to the cemetery. Again, it wasn’t a long trip, just a couple of miles maybe.

When we got there, the pilot van drove all the way past the cemetery to the last entrance which caused Larry and Ruth to question the logic since Lyle’s plot was straight down from the first entry road. This led to a brief discussion that concluded with the belief it was done in order to allow the fifty or so vehicles behind us to line up within the confines of the cemetery roads, and not be strung out down the street. When the hearse stopped well short of the anticipated location, things got interesting. Larry rolled down his window when Michael, the funeral guy, approached our vehicle and reported that Lyle’s vault had been delivered, and placed into the wrong plot. But, the chairs were all lined up, everyone was exiting their vehicles so it was agreed that Father O’Grady would just do the final portion of the service right there, at someone else’s grave site. There was no hurry, because we understood the new occupant wasn’t scheduled to arrive until Saturday.

Lyle was removed from the hearse and carted down to the wrong grave and the service proceeded. I didn’t sit, though I could have. Instead, I wandered around the crowd taking pictures. It was great, and we all agreed that this was just Lyle’s way of having the last laugh. Father O’Grady, however, felt it was just Lyle’s way of getting a plot without having to pay for it.

We left and drove to the La Notta restaurant in East Windsor where Lyle and Ruth took Diane and me for dinner the evening we drove our marathon around the NE states in 2010. Again, I took lots of pictures of everyone eating really good food. The younger kids had a great time running around on the dance floor, dodging people who were getting food from the buffet line which was parked in the middle of it.

Then, it was done. It was finally over, and everyone started leaving. One of Ruth’s brothers, Alan I believe, had been talking to me for a while, then said you need to come out and see my ride. I did and discovered he was driving a 1982 Porsche Targa. Nifty little rig. We chatted a little longer, then he stretched its legs leaving the parking lot to show me what it’s like to be 18 again.

We went back to the house for a while, then Susan, Jay, Sarah, and Laura left, leaving us with Martin and Carol. We visited for a while, then they, too, departed. By this time it was almost time for supper, so we decided to taste test some of the dishes that had been delivered over the past week.

A couple of them got tossed, then we discovered a meat pie that looked possible, so I stuck it in the oven. About then, Ruth’s neighbor came a knocking, and visited for a really long time. I sat there and listened to them laugh and reminisce about growing up in the Windsor area. It was like having someone read a book to me. About half way through the visit I turned the oven off, figuring the meat pie was about as hot as it needed to be. And, I was correct.

After the neighbor departed, Larry and Valerie showed up and we all took a stab at the meat pie. It was interesting, but not something anyone would want to eat a lot of. About the food … though I know it’s not true, I speculated that those who delivered it used recipes they’ve had for a long time but were afraid to try, or they have these recipes they save exclusively for making dishes which they deliver to folks in mourning. I believe it could be a way to speed up the healing process because it makes one want to opt for better fare. Having said that, I must admit that all of the desserts delivered were exceptionally tasty. I know that for a fact.

After we all had a couple bites of meat pie, we looked at each other, dropped our forks, and headed out the door for Chili’s. It was a very good end to the day.

Oh, ya, we went back to the cemetery, too, to make sure Lyle was in his proper place. He was and I can prove it because I took pictures.

Now, to put a few things in perspective for you. Following is a picture of Sarah, Laura, Ruth, Alicia, Heather, and Susan. That’s the order they’re standing in. On Saturday we’re going to Saratoga Springs, NY to attend Heather’s and Justin’s wedding. We’ll be staying over Saturday night, returning Sunday. As luck would have it, Ruth and I are sharing a room so I’m pretty excited about all the rumors we can start with this trip.


The Wake

I’ve never been to a wake before so today was a real eye opener for me. Sure, I’ve viewed deceased family members, and others, but I’ve never experienced an event like this. Ruth told me she insisted on the wake because it’s a good way to get closure. I have to admit that I was extremely skeptical with Lyle laying right there where he could hear every word. I half expected him to raise up and ask everyone to keep the noise down because he was trying to sleep. But he didn’t. He didn’t even flinch.

The wake was scheduled for four hours. For those of you who may never have experienced a wake, it’s a period of time used to punish close family members by making them stand in a line, for the entire period, while pretty much everyone in the entire town files by to pay their respects. Really, the entire town. There were at least half a bazillion of them. Honest. I didn’t know there were than many people in Windsor Locks. Michael, the funeral director said it was “a good turn out,” which reminded me that folks from Suffield were there, and a state representative showed, up, too. That explained it.

Since I was part of the family, Ruth put me at the head of the receiving line so she could introduce me to everyone. At first I didn’t think that was right, but I was, after all, there for her. So, I quit my belly aching and stood my watch. I shook hands with everyone, hugged those I remembered from our 2010 trip, and grew accustomed to everyone extolling the saintly status of my brother. Normally when I hear the same words repeated over, and over, I grow deaf to them, but that didn’t happen this afternoon. I always knew Lyle was a stand-up guy, someone to admire, and a good person to call friend. Listening to everyone repeat this to me over that four hour period made me realize that there were many sides of Lyle I didn’t know at all. That’s understandable, because these people were pretty much a daily part of his life while I, and Jim and Jack, though more closely bound by blood, we missed a lot because we didn’t have that personal connection.

Toward the end of the scheduled 4-hour period I realized that it was OK Lyle was laying there in his casket while everyone shared stories, passed their condolences, and reiterated what a great guy Lyle was. I became so comfortable with his silent presence that I almost waved at him a couple of times. But I didn’t. By that time I knew he wouldn’t wave back, and I understood the healing benefits of a wake. We were becoming desensitized to his presence, making it easier for all of us to take that next step forward. To let the din of daily life creep back into our sensory range knowing that all is well. All is as it should be. Now we all, even Lyle, can move on to the next phase of existence.

In summary, I was devastated when we first got there, not prepared for the emotional response that erupted when I first saw him laying there. It was like a time warp in my head because the last image I had of him was standing beside Ruth in the open door of their garage, waving goodbye when Diane and I headed home from our visit in 2010. Then, BOOM, there he was, prone and silent. Prone was familiar, silent not so much. By the end of the evening a billowing sense of calm pervaded the room, and everything seemed to be OK.

After that we all went back to Ruth’s, ate pizza, and continued with the stories until it was time for sleep. Tomorrow is the funeral and I’ve been blessed as one of the eulogy guys. That seems to be a developing theme for funerals and me lately.

A Redneck In Connecticut

So, here I am in Connecticut. When I left Portland this morning, it felt pretty good to have on my long sleeved shirt and jacket, and it was OK on the flight to Atlanta. Once there, however, things took a turn for the worse as the weather decided to get really hot. It was about 90 degrees there. When I boarded the plane for Hartford, most of the sweat had dried so it was just a thin crust all over my body. I was still a little wet so let the blower blow on my head and down the back of my shirt until I was dry all over.

Then we got to Hartford. It was only 88, here. We arrived at 5:30, right on time. I was able to connect wirelessly while aloft (for $12) so I frantically searched for someone in Connecticut to extract me from the airport on arrival. Niece Susan responded saying she would do it. Then she went to a wake for a family friend and didn’t get there until about 6:30. She was, of course, extremely apologetic, which was entirely unnecessary because she was doing me a favor. I was grateful. I knew she was going to be late so I wandered around inside the airport for a short time, then went outside. It was 88 degrees. I immediately started sweating again, liquifying the crusty substance I obtained in Atlanta, and it started running down my back, into my pants. It was an unsettling feeling. People behind me were starting to talk. This gave me motivation to continue on out the door, into the sweltering heat. After about 45 minutes I stopped sweating, and was actually starting to become fairly comfortable, then Susan showed up and ruined it all with her air conditioned car.

It was comfortable in Susan’s car. I stopped sweating, and we had a nice visit on the way back to Lyle & Ruth’s house. Just before we got there she said, “Oh ya. Grandma’s A/C quit working today but we put a fan in your room”, which caused trickles down my neck in spite of the A/C. But, that’s OK. I’m not here on vacation. I actually have a purpose. Really, I do. And, as soon as we walked in the door the significance of that purpose was made even clearer when we learned that Ruth had been taken to the emergency room by Martin & Sarah. Martin is Carol’s husband, and Sarah is the granddaughter emergency room RN. I may not explain all the names to you who don’t know these folks, so if you’re curious, just ask and I’ll answer. Honest.

Upon my arrival, those in the house were: Cheryl, Allen, Carol, Heather, Laura, Larry, Valerie and three great grand children (one is Susan’s, the other two are Laura’s). I think that’s all. We all sat around the kitchen eating area and ate whatever the ladies put on it. It went well. It was the first meal I had today and it was really good. I ate a lot of vegetables, too.

Every once in a while Sarah would call from the hospital to give an update on Ruth so we were able to follow her progress through the emergency room process vicariously. They thought for sure she has a UTI, but they were waiting on labs from the results of the phlebotomist’s efforts, and they were scheduling a CT scan. It didn’t sound good because of all the stress and trauma she, and everyone else, has endured over the past few months, and especially the last few days.

Finally the CT scan was done and it was determined that Ruth has diverticulitis. She’s coming home with a box of meds, and strict instructions to be good and rest. That’s going to take some serious discussion because Ruth will not rest until all the details are in place.

Having heard the news, and learning the diagnosis, everyone went home to well deserved rest. So, I am alone in the house, waiting for their return. At this moment it’s 11:11pm. I’m sitting in Lyle’s place at the table, where I’ve been all evening, and now that the voices are gone, I can hear Lyle’s voice above the din of the quiet, calling my name in order to tell me something, or laugh about something someone said. He’s at the kitchen sink rinsing dishes, and getting things ready for tomorrow.If I were to go into the basement I know I’d see him sitting at his computer playing solitaire, or saying, “Jerrie, come’ere. I want to show you something.” So, I go, and we share memories, and anecdotes until that memory fades, and I’m called to another place in the house where he lives in my mind.

He’s nowhere, yet he’s everywhere I look. Sitting here in his place, I see him at our house when he and Ruth visited. He’s playing cribbage with Dad on 3rd Street, posing for pictures on that old couch with us, his brothers, giving Mom a huge hug just for fun, and on Johnson Ridge looking at Mt. St. Helens … All of these memories are proof, to me, that we are all immortal. As long as we have memories of our loved ones, they will continue to live forever. Pass it on …

Day Eighteen – Snowbound


Here we are, trapped in Nampa for “who” knows how long. Yesterday it was sunny, bright, a little cool, but really pretty. That was at the ball game in Emmett. It was snowing when I got up this morning and it’s been snowing all day, until about 30 seconds ago. It was terrible. Jim made me leave the house with him to go visit his Burger King Old Guy Group (BKOGG) for coffee and we could hardly see where we were going. Thankfully, Jim was was driving and, apparently, it’s ok to straddle the yellow center line in Idaho. He didn’t really have to because the roads were actually clear, but I’ve come to realize that he just seems more comfortable driving when he’s cozied up to that yellow line.

Today’s session of the BKOGG was in full session when we arrived so we had to sit in the riff raff section at one of the small square tables. In lieu of an introduction, Jim made me stand up and tell everyone who I was. Some of them I remember meeting before so I was not a total stranger to all of them. Walt sat next to me and we talked for a long time because everyone else was ignoring us.

Jim paid for the coffee, so while he had his wallet out I ordered a breakfast sandwich. It was good.

After this mandatory visit was over we fought our way through the parking lot blizzard, cleaned the snow off the windows, and headed back to the house. This is what the road was like…


On the way Jim and I discussed the benefits of him purchasing a wireless router for his house so I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital for a wireless connection to send my blog, and check my email, and such. Since he’s chosen to remain relatively uneducated in the new world of technology, it was an easy sale. There was no benefit for him, of course, except for the opportunity to spend $50 on something he really didn’t need. But, as I pointed out, it would be nice for his neighbors.

When we got home lunch was ready so we ate. It was lasagna and very good. I regret I failed to take a picture for you but I’m sure you all know what lasagna looks like.

After lunch we bundled up again and drove to Best Buy to check out wireless routers. We wound up in the Costco parking lot so just went in there to see what they had. They had nice ones, but more expensive than I was willing for Jim to spend on something that would only benefit me. And Steff & Bob, and all the kidlets. So, we braved the weather, again, got in the car and drove to our original destination, Best Buy. They had exactly what I nee… what Jim needed to make me happy,

We installed it as soon as we got home and I was amazed at how easy it was to set up. I gave Jim the instructions and he hooked everything up, so there’s hope for him yet. Amazingly, there was no setup routine required. It just worked! The password is “melodicsocks134”, in case you’re wondering.

We were going to go to another softball game this afternoon, but the snow storm caused everyone a bunch of unnecessary concern so they cancelled it. Perhaps the team from Mt. Home had a little worse weather than we did. Probably a good idea. So, I donned my cozy jammies and began to work on this.

That’s about it for today except for this picture of the Idaho Cate’s back yard a few minutes ago,..


… and Jim watching TV …


OK … so I wasn’t done. I fell asleep on the couch with a pillow over my head to stifle the headache Jim gave me yesterday. He’s been making fun of me ever since I sustained the injury and I’ve toyed with the idea of sewage in order to obtain some monetary compensation for the attack. But, he’s my brother so sewage isn’t really an option. Instead, I’ll just add another picture of Jim watching TV, then there’s a little more.


Sometime around 6:32 pm Bob, Steffani, and Maryssa showed up for a visit knowing that it’s our plan to depart the Plains of Nampa tomorrow. By the time they arrived, all of the snow had melted and it was about 50 degrees. I’m guessing, of course, but it wasn’t as cold as it was earlier so I think I’m within 10-20 degrees. So, it’s only right that I capture these events herein for posterity and to provide you with a couple more pictures of people we don’t see very often.

Bob was very quiet on arrival but the women, all four of them, became equally noisy as if they were have a contest to see who could be the most disruptive. I’m not sure there was a clear winner, but it was entertaining.

Steffani brought he CD with pictures from Jim’s & Donna’s 50th wedding anniversary from 3-4 years ago that we’ve never seen. She tried to upload them to a web site, using the newly established wireless web site at 1923 Mass, without success, learning, in the process, why she hadn’t done it previously … the files are too big. So, I think I inherited the CD to take home and try it from our house, using my non-Lenovo computer. Hopefully it works so I won’t have to be shamed for having an iMac.

Here’s a picture of Steffani trying to upload the pictures …


I visited with Maryssa for a long time while she was trying to do her homework and got to hear her read a few of the papers she had written. They were very good and I could only think that she wasn’t sure I could read. However, I learned that it’s nice to have someone read to me and reminded me of the things Lydia and Cedric have read to me over the years. Maryssa wasn’t getting much homework done, you might have guessed. Here are some pictures of Maryssa studying …


Sorry it’s a little fuzzy, but I think the glare from her gleeming hardware dazzled the camera.


Notice the iPod in the delightfully lime green cover … she claimed she was researching something.
A little later she stood up to move around a little and found a melted chocolate in her pocket which she promptly ate. Now everyone’s leaving so I have to quit.

Day Seventeen – Assault in Nampa


I feel fortunate to be able to share this day with you. It started out pretty good, then went down hill drastically for a 3 hour period when I assisted Jim and LaVerne with their Meals on Wheels route. That, too, started OK, but I should have been weary when the only sit I was offered was a lawn chair in the back of the van. It was one of those little, tall Ford vans that folks use for utility purposes. The above picture is the view I had for the duration of this ordeal.

Jim made me leave the house with him at 8:02 am to ensure he was on time to begin the noon route at 11:00 am or so. One of the hospitals in the area provides the meals and the transportation, which is a very good thing. On the way over he let me ride in the front seat, and we stopped by Steffani & Bob’s to pick up a beach chair, that was smaller than the one we already had, because he said he thought it would fit better with the warming oven and three large coolers. Turns out there would have been enough room for a nice recliner but, no, I had to sit in a tiny little beach chair. Sideways to our direction of travel.

Before loading, however, I discovered the real reason Jim wanted to be early. He got to run the crimping machine that secures lids to the warm part of the meals. While he did that I stood, calmly, in the hall, introducing myself to everyone who walked by because there was no one to introduce me. I met Hugh, who was the Principal at Rainier High School from 1991-1994. He left because he said the clouds got too low. So, he moved to Montana. Now he’s in Nampa. I also met Ginny, Heidi, and Eda. We had wonderful discussions about Jim and his real value in today’s modern society.

Finally, everything was packed, and we trundled the oven and coolers out to the van. As I stated earlier, I sat sideways in the back of the van surrounded with this equipment and it wasn’t bad for the first hour or so, even though I was forced to fill little baskets with meals as directed by Jim and LaVerne in their comfortable front seats. Since they are both older than me, their need for heat was understandably much higher. I was collateral damage from the heat but didn’t bring it to their attention until I started getting car sick, something I’ve never done before in my life. Fortunately, by then, one of the coolers was empty so I could have used that in a pinch should the need to puke go beyond a mere possibility. I don’t think I mentioned that there were no windows in the back of this van so I had no visual reference for what was going on in the outside world.

I have to admit that once I proffered the possibility of my need to vomit, voluminously, I had their attention and they yielded to my repeated request to please allow some air to circulate in the rear of the vehicle so I wouldn’t have to embarrass anyone. Jim cranked the heater up, but lowered the windows a bit so I could get a sniff of fresh air at least once in a while.

At this time I also rotated my chair 90 degrees to the left so I could look out the front thereby giving me the reference to the living world I needed in order to regain my sense of wellness. Shortly after calming my iffy stomach, we entered an area with many speed bumps. Big ones. Jim was careful on all but the last one when he apparently forgot I was in the back and thought it would be OK to accelerate once the front wheels had cleared the bump. As a result, I was launched vertically from the chair, missing the roof by centimeters, then slammed back down into the chair. This broke six bones in my neck and caused an instant headache. Since the feeling returned to my limbs fairly quickly, I lost a majority vote to continue the MOW route until done instead of returning to the hospital for an MRI. So, I continued doling out meal pieces until done, and by the time we returned to the hospital to turn everything in, no one remembered that I was seriously injured. Not being someone to create a scene, I just dropped it and decided to just heal on my own.

We returned to the house just in time for a wonderful lunch of meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I ate twice. Then, when I was just reclining to take a short nap, and try to recover from my ordeal, I was ordered out of the house so we could take an hour trip to Emmett to watch Maryssa play softball. Everyone was fearful of the cold wind, but the day turned sunny and bright, making the trip the highlight of the day. Maryssa’s team won 12-3, or something like that, but didn’t score the bulk of their runs until the last inning. It was fun to watch.

This is Diane and Donna watching the game. Maryssa hit 3 for 5.


Immediately after leaving the game, Diane made Jim stop at a McDonald’s so she could use the facility. None of us know what she did in there, but she was smiling when she returned.

Now it’s 9:12 pm and I’m siting at the table in my jammmies thinking that I may survive this day yet. Tomorrow may reveal something different as my injuries have time to show their true colors as I slumber.

I won’t be able to send this until tomorrow because Jim’s too cheap to install a wireless router in his house. For that same reason, I cannot add pictures until just before we stumble upon a wireless site that allows me access.

Tomorrow morning Jim’s forcing me to go to his weekly meeting at Burger King with 38 of his friends. I’m told there’s some sort of initiation that I must endure in order to be allowed access to Burger King when that group is there. I’ll let you know how it goes.