Santa Claus

Never in my life have I posed as Santa Claus, but I woke up this morning and decided that playing The Big Guy for a bunch of rowdy kindergarten kids might be a lot of fun. In anticipation of this uncommon desire, I rented a Santa suit yesterday for the astounding amount of $40. That’s only good for one day. They don’t rent beards or fancy hair so I had to purchase that. I suppose that’s a really good idea since I probably wouldn’t like to wear a mustache and beard onto which someones DNA resides as the result of a dripping nose, or smoker’s cough. That wouldn’t be good. No sir. It was Diane who made me aware of that danger and the logic behind purchasing, instead of renting a beard.

My Santa day began early this morning. I had to be up, scrubbed, and dressed for a 0815 encounter with 25 wide awake 5-year-olds. I needed coffee, but didn’t get a whole cup before having to leave. Diane was my helper, making sure my uniform was on straight, things like that. My main concern was the fear of my pants falling off. Even though I had a fluffy pillow installed, it was a danger, one I couldn’t see going well at an elementary school. “Santa’s Pants Fall Off In Mrs. Miller’s Class!” It would make a great headline, but would probably end my Santa career on the spot. So, I was careful. The morning went well, and I had a lot of fun interacting with all the children. One of them was our Great Granddaughter Danyell. I don’t think she had any idea who I was even though I quizzed her about her sister Juliette, and Aunts Gilligan and Baylee.

I didn’t get to visit Gilligan’s classroom because she’s in First Grade, but we arrived just when Jeff was delivering her so I got a hug. There was no fooling her. She just ran to me and said, “Oh Grandpa!”, gave me a big hug and ran for the front door. Very Gilligan like.

Back at the house I removed the uniform because my next engagement wasn’t until 1230. I had time to rest and dry out a little. That suit is really hot. I vowed to not wear so many clothes under it the next time.

Jennifer showed up at 1200 because she was my afternoon guide. We arrived in plenty of time for our 1230 visit and it went very well. One victory stands out for me in one little girl who was fearful of coming near me to get her candy cane. Her name was Samantha. We didn’t push it, and just let her be. When the class was assembled on the floor in front of the stool I was sitting on, she was in the front row a little to my left. Mrs. Miller had them sing Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer for me. I glanced at Samantha once in a while and finally caught her eye. Then I slid a candy cane over to her and she reached out to get it. That was great. Then, after the song was done, and all the kids went back to their tables, she came back for a hug. That was better than great.

The afternoon engagements weren’t as dramatic as Samantha, but still fun. I got mobbed by the entire class who all tried to hug me at once before I left. They slammed me into the blackboard and, had it been the morning group, I surely would have lost my pants. Thankfully, for the afternoon trip, I wore suspenders. The danger was gone.

It was a good day …

VA, Costco, Michaels, Fred Meyer, & Lydia

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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.

Santa Lucia & Snacks

Today after church service our new friends Angela & Randy treated us to the Swedish version of the Santa Lucia tradition. It was a very stunning event that none of those at church had ever experienced. Let me revise that to say that no one I spoke with had ever experienced. The tradition is steeped in history, beginning in the 300’s, and has understandably changed over the intervening 1600+ years. Being a Lutheran tradition, in our instance, it naturally involves food, tea, and coffee. So, the beginning of this tradition at Bethany Lutheran Church, in Warren, Oregon, was conducted during our normal after service coffee hour.

Cameron, the granddaughter of one of my high school classmates whom you do not know, represented Santa Lucia and served coffee, tea, and pastries to the masses who remained for our after service tradition. The real day for this is traditionally December 13, which was yesterday, as everyone knows. But, it was well received even though it was a day late.

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Angel transported her irreplaceable English bone china to the church for use during the ceremony and it was accompanied by a lot of older folks holding their breath while young people carried their drinks and pastries to their tables. Late in the evening, when Mom, Diane’s, was on the way to her car for her trip home, reported that she was very nervous when she saw me helping put the cleaned and dried china back into the boxes they came in. She was especially fearful when she saw me washing a priceless platter. Apparently I have a reputation for dropping and spilling things. IMG_0126

Here’s a little closer look at Angela, Santa Lucia, and her first customer, Declan. IMG_0127After all the china was safely returned to Angela & Randy’s vehicle, and everyone was leaving the building, we spied two bareback riders sauntering down the road by the church. In the field across the road another horse was making her presence known because she knew the riders and their aged steeds. They all live together over there. That would be Ethan and Jessie.

In the typical country fashion, we from the church wandered out into the middle of the road so we could talk with our newest friends, Ethan and Jessie. Every once in a while someone would shout out “CAR” and we would back away into the parking lot to allow the vehicle to pass then we’d wander back into the road so we didn’t have to talk so loud. It was a very nice visit.

Then we came home, ate stew, and watched 3 Christmas movies before Jean, Diane’s Mom, yelled “Uncle” and demanded to be returned to the quiet of her own home.

That’s about it for today. It was a good one. The sun shined all day, and it was beautiful. We all feel incredibly blessed.

Prejudice

Why do you suppose it is that some of our more notable Americans, who fight all comers to supposedly abolish racism, simply ensure that racism remains alive and well in America by stoking the fires that ignite prejudice? Job security would be my guess. If they were truly dedicated to fighting for their cause, they would look at both sides of an issue before immediately jumping on the band wagon of those who, as chance would have it, are the same color they are.

Go figure.

Wind, Rain, & Candlelight

Yesterday it rained cats and dogs almost all day, and the temp ran around 50. The humidity also increased ensuring that pretty much everything exposed to outside air was wet. I hate that part. The humidity. It’s terrible stuff and not something we tried and true Oregonians are intimately familiar with. Unless, of course, we’ve lived in parts of the world where humidity is just part of the daily routine.

This morning I awoke at 0730, an unusually late hour for me considering the dogs’ proclivity for normally exiting our domain at a much easier hour. Guess they’re getting attuned to sleeping in which is a good thing.

At 0900 I joined Jeff, Larry, Everett, and Ron for coffee at the Kozy Korner like most of us do every Thursday morning. That’s our MELCA group which is the opposite of WELCA in many ways. We solved a number of world problems while I ate the breakfast Diane insisted that I must order. Apparently I’m not going to be allowed to have just coffee in the morning any longer. It’s worked OK for a lot of years so I don’t see why I have to change now, but I will do as she asks like the good husband that I am.

Speaking of opposites … did you know that irony is the exact opposite of wrinkly?

After departing the austere presence of the MELCA group, I returned home to discover that it was so nice outside that Diane decided it was spring, at least for a while. Long enough for me to check the gutters, and to wash a bunch of windows and patio doors that exhibited stark evidence of animal feet and noses, and little kids hand prints. It was a simple task and one I wouldn’t have had to do if the sun hadn’t been out and shining through the windows at just right angle for Diane to see the mess. I must admit that they look much better, now. It was truly the calm before the storm during this time

When Diane got busy steam cleaning the kitchen and hallway, shaking rugs, and vacuuming bits of debris, I opened the box our UPS Man delivered this morning. It was a Nest thermostat. I got an email, or note in the mail, offering to sell me one. I investigated and discovered that our system qualified, because the old thermostat has all the correct wires. I know this is true because I took a photo and sent it to nest.com and they told me.

Once they told me I was good to go, I ordered the new thermostat. It cost $219, which seems like a lot for a thermostat, but once I get it connected they will send me $200. So, for a wireless, control it from anywhere thermostat, it’s costing me 19 bucks. Seemed like a deal to me. It’s pretty nifty. You should check them out.

It’ now 5 PM now and the wind has been blowing most of the afternoon. Just like the weather people said it would. The power went away a couple of hours ago, and we probably won’t get it back for a while. Trees are blowing down all over the place. A huge oak tree at the end of our street blew over into the owner’s back yard, taking out a bedroom window and a lot of roof overhang with it. Not pretty.

While surveying damage from the downed oak tree, another neighbor came home and stopped to visit a bit. He’s a longshoreman and said they evacuated the docks in Portland because containers were getting blown over and off the stacks, and ships were breaking loose from their moorings. Portland always get it worse because at times like this the wind coming out of the Columbia River Gorge is pretty intense. We’re a bit further out so don’t get it as bad, thankfully.

I put this away for a while and enjoyed the candle lit ambiance of our home with the power outage. It was really quiet, too, except for the howling wind which lasted most of the last 6 hours. Now it’s gone, and out power has been restored.

Just in time for bed, but here’s some photos to commemorate the day …

Here’s the downed oak tree

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Diane and her headlight so she could work in the basement. She’s having an Avon sale at the church tomorrow in case you’re interested.
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Lydia and Jennifer showed up, too, but I couldn’t find Jennifer in the dark. At one point she was carrying a candle around the house looking for stuff.IMG_1167

Birthday Surprise

Today I woke up perky, ready to be productive and it was a good thing because the cat was sitting on my iPad which kept me from lounging on my recliner until just before noon. Like I did yesterday. Diane woke me up with just enough time to eat something and shower up for my 12 o’clock dental appointment. It was a restive morning.

On the way home I made a couple of stops. One was at the local Chevy dealership where I spoke briefly to Skip, one of the salesmen, to share the good news that our friend Barb was extremely pleased with her buying experience the previous day. It’s not something I needed to do, but I wanted to check with him to find out if he, or Jeff, the Manager, was the person who would authorize my 25% deduction on my next purchase for the referral. Without skipping a beat he said to talk with Jeff. He was busy, so I went on about my business. I’m guessing a 25% savings on a new vehicle is a pipe dream … another delusion. I’m going to ask anyway.

Another stop was at a high level relative’s home where I inquired about the mantel clock that used to belong to Diane’s Grandparents. I figured since Diane now has a fireplace mantel, she should have a mantel clock, something she’s wanted for many years. I was pleased that the clock was placed into my hands for transport to my lovely bride. It’s for her birthday. Actually, the mantel was her birthday request, the clock was icing on the cake. I’m taking it to a master clock person to have it cleaned and tweaked, but wanted to share it with her first. It was a special moment. One of those moments where tears of joy flowed freely, bringing many fond memories to light. Doing things like this isn’t in my nature because I typically don’t think about doing them until the last-minute, or not at all because I was distracted. To have figured this out all by myself, and to follow through, pleased me immensely. There’s still hope for this old codger.

Sadly, the mantel is about 1/2 inch too narrow to safely hold the ‘new’ mantel clock which means I will have to redo it, or build a classy shelf just for the clock. There is a solution out there somewhere.

For the record, Diane cried when I showed it to her. She’s a happy camper. Here’s what the mantel looks like at the moment. It may change. We’ll see.

IMG_0124Now I must don my work clothes and get to work at something strenuous because my BS Meter tells me I’m running at 216 which is too high. Must have been the coffee.

Christmas Decorations & Football

Today we put up our Christmas tree and got busy hanging all the ornaments we’ve collected over the years. Actually, the tree was placed a few days ago, but we just got to the point where it needed to be decorated with something besides those tiny little lights. Since we use a fake tree, and Diane doesn’t like putting the lights on every year, I just left them on last year so it was ready to go once I got all the saran wrap removed. That was a task, let me tell you. That saran wrap is tough stuff.

Diane’s the straw boss when it comes to decorating the tree and with most things around here I tend to not volunteer to help. I’ll do anything she wants, and she knows that, so we have an agreement that when she wants my help, she’ll let me know. Today, however, knowing she wasn’t feeling totally perky, I offered my services and she accepted. That caught me off guard because I broke the rule, ya know?  But, I dived right in and started hanging ornaments to the best of my ability and it wasn’t long before she was following me around the tree, relocating ornaments I had so meticulously placed. Finally she told me I was fired and that I should leave the tree alone which reinforced the original rule about me know volunteering to help with stuff. Still, I was stunned because I’ve never been fired before. All I was doing was try to help but apparently I’m not destined to be a professional tree decorator.

So, I sequestered myself in the Man Room to watch the Alabama and Missouri football game. As you know, I’m a Oregon Duck fan so watching Alabama only served one purpose for me. I wanted to see them lose to Missouri because Alabama is ranked #1 and Oregon is #2 but that didn’t work out. Alabama won.

Last night Oregon played Arizona for the Pac-12 title and it was a really good game. Arizona, as you Pac-12 fans know, is the only team that beat Oregon this year. Last night Oregon squeezed by Arizona for a 51-13 win and managed to redeem themselves for the early season loss to the Wildcats. It was touch and go all the way through the first quarter which ended with Oregon ahead 6-0. Then it got ugly for Arizona. At the end of quarter 3 the Ducks were up 44-7 and Marcus Mariotta’s day was done. The second and third string players entered the game and scored one of their own and allowed Arizona to score on the last play of the game. Fun to watch.

Speaking of football … what’s the deal with Ohio’s big play stickers on their helmets? Looks like marijuana leaves to me. Odd. They’re playing Wisconsin, in case you were wondering.

Today is Kaia’s birthday, in case you were wondering when it was. She got lots of Frozen and Hello Kitty stuff. She also got a nifty tent that her dad couldn’t erect. Fun to watch. He’ll figure it out, I’m sure.

Commercials

Considering my advanced age, and my desire to improve my health, I’ve been paying more attention to all the advertisements I’ve previously ignored. Oh, I hear bits and pieces but mostly they flit through my brain mostly as white noise. You know, you hear it but not to the point where you actually paid attention. Lately, however, the white noise is fading and identifiable words are filtering through to the part of my brain that understands them. I’m not sure where that part is but suspect it’s somewhere a little above, and between my ears somewhere. Just makes sense. But, then, the eyeballs are connected to the back of the brain instead of the part right behind the eyes themselves. Perhaps that’s because the hearing part was already using that space so the eyeballs had to be rerouted to the back. Kinda like a detour.

Anyway, the words I’m starting to string together into coherent memories from the commercials are a bit disconcerting for me. Perhaps you have the same feeling. Take this one, for example … it’s for a seemingly benign salve for foot fungus that’s supposed to clean up your toenails. the commercial itself is fairly short, but the speed-speaking person listing the list of possible side effects is quite entertaining. It goes something like this …

The list of possible side effects includes, but is not limited to, the possibility of liver and kidney failure unless the salve is applied between 4-5 am on a Sunday morning, severe brain damage if ingested by licking the finger applying the salve within 30 seconds of application, a Viagra induced erection lasting less than 15 minutes, whether or not it was used, heart failure if do, blurred vision, impaired hearing, and possible death if you don’t get a haircut right away.

Pretty much every commercial, about anything, ends with a similar list of ill effects but in a different order. Makes me want to run out and buy stuff like that right away.

And you?

Friends & Family

OK … this is a couple of days old so ignore any references to yesterday and tomorrow. They are relevant. Actually, I wrote this on Monday.

The title explains everything about yesterday. A throng of people showed up throughout the day, culminating in a joyous reunion between an Aunt and a Niece. At one point in time the following people were milling about our home talking, running, playing, and sitting quietly when possible:

Jean, Jack, Wynette, Me, Gary, Kathie, Jeff, Heather, Kristie, Daniel, Jennifer, Scott, Whitney, Cole, Cedric, Lydia, Jeran, Emilie, Gilligan, Kaia, Baylee, Jerrie, & Brooklyn. That’s about 23 folks ranging in age from 87 to 3. I think they are in chronological order as listed, oldest to youngest, but there’s a distinct possibility I’m wrong because I don’t know the ages of Gary, Kathie, Kristie, Scott, or Whitney. I just guessed where they may fit on the list.

At this point I must confess that I had a lengthy dissertation about this topic completed and it was fine until I decided to add some photos. That’s when WordPress failed me completely. The photo upload failed and all those pretty words simply disappeared. There was no draft to recover, either. Consequently, I have to recreate this from scratch and it’s not as much fun as it was the first time. You may find it boring, full of useless information like most of my other posts.

The day began with church, like normal, then things got complicated as we prepared for our guests. The occasion was to welcome Kathie and Gary who were spending the night with us on their way back to the Sacramento area from Tacoma. Gary is from Tacoma so knows his way around in those woods through which, we were told, he forced Kathie to hike so she could enjoy the beauty of the area. Sadly, it was about 20 degrees so Kathie was more concerned about freezing than enjoying the stellar views. We were happy that our temperature was all the way up to 29 when they arrived at 5 pm.

Before the honored guests arrived, the house filled with everyone but them beginning with Daniel, Jennifer, Cedric, Lydia, & Jeran. They were followed shortly by Kristie, Cole, & Emilie. Using iPhone’s auto correct Emilie was initially called Emilio and it was quickly correct. Not before I was rendered confused, however. Kristie quickly corrected that so I was able to call her by name upon their arrival.

Then Jack & Wynette arrived, followed by Jeff, Heather, Gilligan, Baylee, & Jerrie. Jerrie, the little one, was escorted from the premises within the first 15 minutes due to the fact that she had fooled her parents into believing she was potty trained so they didn’t bring diapers. She revealed her deception while standing in the middle of the kitchen. She’s not bashful.

Last to arrive were Scott, Whitney, Kaia, & Brooklyn who had the least distance to cover since they live right next door. Since they were late, they were relegated to the basement with all the kids. They were OK with that.

Slowly, our guests drifted away using excuses like, “we have an hour drive ahead of us,” or “I have homework to finish,” and “my hip hurts.” They were all valid excuses, I must admit.

At one point I brought up the carved shark cribbage board that was given to me by Kathie’s Dad, Gene, while we lived on Guam. At the time, Kathie was attending high school on the neighboring island of Saipan, 120 miles away. She didn’t know about the shark which was given to me so I could give it to my Dad, Jim Sr. and was returned to me when he passed away in 1992, or 2001 when my Mom, Ruth, passed away. I’m a little hazy on that. Jim Sr., and Ruth are Jack’s Mom and Dad, too. Not everyone knows that.

The shark was used by Jack and Gary to determine the West Coast Champion. Jack has been the Oregon champion for many years having whipped the Washington champion without breaking a sweat in 1967. I’m just guessing at the year so it may be wrong. Jack won the game and was declared the West Coast Champ because though Gary is originally from Washington he currently resides in California near Sacramento and Kathie.

The evening ended with all the higher level cousins visiting when Jack declared his hip was beckoning him home but it was gold so Wynette insisted he warm up the car first since the temp had dropped to the low 20’s. He did so, and even moved the car into the driveway from across the street. We visited for another hour or so before Jack remembered the car was running out front so he and Wynette rushed out to ensure it was indeed warm. It was.

This morning we had to completely disrupt our daily routine by getting up at 0600 in order to make it to Scappoose by 0700 so we could eat breakfast and Gary and Kathie could be on their way south by 0800. We went to Ichabods because we know the cook, jeri, and she makes a mean meal. Right after ordering our meals Kathie discovered that she’d left her phone in one of our chargers at the house and insisted that Diane retrieve it for her so her meal wouldn’t get cold. Diane, being the consulate host, complied and scurried back to St. Helens for the phone. She was only gone about 30 minutes and was able to complete her meal with we other three. Then we bid adieu to our guests and headed home.

Diane made me work the remainder of the day so now I’m tired. Before I go, however, I’m going to try adding photos again. Then I’ll quit.

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Jennie & Diabetes

Someone in the family was going through some old photos and came up with this one

Jennie

It’s my new favorite. That looks pretty much says it all, don’t you think? It’s an old Polaroid photo and Diane wrote “Broom Hilda before perm” across the bottom. There is no date but it was a long, long time ago. A really long time ago. Maybe 35 years.

About diabetes. Today I attended a diabetes class on how to conduct myself henceforth since I’ve been officially tagged with type 2 diabetes. Now I must start counting carbs and actually exercising. As you all know, exercise is something I generally talk about, not do. So, this new journey begins.

I thought retirement was all about lying around and eating whatever you want.

 

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