News at a Glance

I’ve been reading the news pretty much every day for a while now and I’m pretty amazed at some of the stories I see. Most interesting lately was the one about a 28-year-old conductor who fell to her death from the Royal Gorge Railroad in  Colorado. Two things about this story interested me.

One was, well, she fell off the train. I’ve never heard of a conductor falling off a train. Ever. I’m sure it has happened, but apparently wasn’t noteworthy for the new I read. It’s sad that this young lady lost her life in an incident like this and I’m left unfulfilled because I don’t know how it happened. There’s got to be a reason, but none was given. So, left to my own devices, I can only conclude that she was chasing a bandit from car to car and had him cornered in the dining area when from no where a monkey jumped from under a table and became entangled in her long hair. In its effort to get free, the monkey managed to wrap the hair around her face, blinding her and causing her much concern. As she turned and twisted, trying to help the monkey get free, she stumbled onto the platform between cars and tumbled from the train onto the rocky shores of the Arkansas River. That’s what the new said, she “tumbled” from the train. The NTSB, as a consequence of this event, have made it mandatory for all conductors, henceforth, to be bald to eliminate the possibility of this ever happening again. Some wonder if it might have been a better decision is they just made it illegal to bring a monkey aboard a train. Any train. But, no, all conductors must now be bald either by choice, or by nature. This make believe summary is in no way meant to diminish the sad loss of this young lady.

The second point of interest is that the Royal Gorge in Colorado was carved out by the Arkansas River. Huh. Turns out there’s two of them. Who knew? I wonder if anyone in Arkansas knows about this. If they do, do you think they’re proud that another state is using their name for a river in Colorado, or upset because of it. We’ll only know if someone speaks up.

Then there’s that ‘thing’ going on with North and South Carolina. The states decided to use GPS technology to check their common border and discovered that 19 families have been living in the wrong states. The lines drawn 200 years ago were deemed to be hundreds of feet off from where they were supposed to be. As a result of this change, 16 SC families were moved to NC, and 3 NC families were moved to SC. All that with no one actually moving at all. Now lots of work must start to figure out which schools all those kids will go to, what their new phone numbers will be, new zip codes, street addresses, tax liability, etc. What a mess. Perhaps they should have just left it all alone. But, hey, North Carolina saw a net gain of 13 new families that they can tax at will.

Did you see where Gary Johnson is the Libertarian nomination for president? Did anyone hear that on the national news? So, we have a third choice for president and, perhaps, a better choice. Who knows? Will it be Bernie, Hillary, Gary, or Donald? Should be interesting once it’s all decided.

And, finally, there’s a UFO floating around over Ohio with such brazen indifference that more than one person was able to video it. What do you think of that?

Breakfast and Blackberry Vines

Yesterday I attended what the American Legion calls an e-board meeting at the local Village Inn in St. Helens. I think the “e” stands for Executive because the only ones who attend them are elected officers of American Legion Post 42. Since I’m one of those guys it’s pretty mandatory that I attend. Doug said so. He normally calls to remind me, but I don’t think he did this time. I actually remembered all by myself. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet.

Since we’re at the Village Inn I figured it might be a good idea to eat breakfast, something I rarely do during these meetings. But, since our Supreme Commander, Lyle, didn’t show up, I figured all bets were off and a meal wouldn’t interfere with the proceedings.

I got two eggs, over easy, a ham steak, hash browns, and two pieces of non-nutritional white toast. I had my own coffee from home so didn’t have to pay for that. When it was presented to me it looked really nice.

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… but, I forgot to ask them to run a pizza cutter over all of it about 15-16 times. They do that for me because cutting all that stuff up, even the eggs, is pure torture for my shoulders. It’s just not the right angle. So, I sent it back to the kitchen and they brought it back to me ready to eat.

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That done, all I had left was to get jelly on my toast. No one at the table would help me with that so I struggled through the process all by myself. I guess they just don’t love me enough to help out or, maybe, it’s because they’re all old and crippled up like me. Yeah. I’m sure that’s it. I’ll have to ask them the next time I see them to confirm.

After the e-board meeting I returned home with the intention of using that energy I saved from not having to cut up those eggs by dismantling some of the blackberry vines that surround the house. I figured if I let them go much longer we’d need a machete to get the front door open all the way. Actually, it’s not that bad, yet, but those things do grow mighty fast, so I wasn’t taking chances. I also trimmed the bottoms off a few trees so I could walk under them without hitting my head. That portion of my assigned task went well, with no injuries, but the blackberry vines won the battle and I had to quit before finishing because there was the distinct possibility that I might pass out from loss of blood.

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I’ve got more to do today but decided that I’d wear something heavy-duty with long sleeves. Probably should have done that yesterday. I’m happy to report that, even though the injuries were rather severe, I didn’t get a drop of blood on the sheets last night which means I’m still married. At least for another day.

Then, this morning, I trundled my way down to the Kozy for coffee with my friend Larry, and my other friend Larry. We solve a lot of the world’s problems during these Thursday meetings. Sometimes I order the breakfast special, which used to be $6.95, but was recently raised to $7.50 meaning I couldn’t afford to eat it every week. I’m on Social Security, you know.

Then this morning, Kerry, our normal waitress, placed a menu in front of me thinking I’d order something. It took me a little bit of looking to discover that it was specifically for me and encompassed all the better eating habits that I probably should be observing, but usually don’t. Then I looked at the prices and figured out that, ok, it was a joke. I was disappointed that it took me so long to do that.

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It was finally revealed that Larry and Kerry were in cahoots with this and got a good chuckle from it. So did I, as did our other friend, Larry.

Adding to the frivolity of the menu, whenever a waitress made rounds with the coffee pot she would ask me if I shouldn’t be drinking decaf instead of real coffee because of my heart condition. It was all in good fun and I feel blessed that I have friends like this who have my best interest at heart.

Now I’m going to go see about those blackberries.

Maybe I’ll torch the burn pile, too, if I can find out where Diane hid the matches.

Golf, Lunch, Hair Cut, Bike Ride, Dump Truck, & The Lawn Mower

I golfed in this morning then had lunch with Doug and Junior. We all had McBurgerville Crispy Chicken sandwiches. None of us had fries which was good because none of us need fries. None of us needed a deep-fried chicken breast, either, but we ate them anyway.

After lunch I went to Great Clips and got a haircut from Misty. She’s a local girl who is going to New York this summer to attend her boy friend’s brother’s wedding and she gets to go and meet the family. She’s excited, of course, because she’s never travelled, and she’s never been on an airplane. We’re all hoping that she doesn’t puke, or something. I’ve never met Misty before so learning all this “stuff” was kinda fun.

After I got home I got my bike out and rode to Diane’s Mom’s (Jean’s) house and back. About two miles, uphill both ways. Going was fine, but had to stop pedaling and walk a while when my left arm started going numb. I figured that probably wasn’t a good thing and my legs were all into walking instead of pedaling. Mom and I visited for a while, then I assisted her with washing the filters in her furnace air cleaner. Assisting Jean means staying out of her way and helping only when asked. I’m good at that because her daughter, my First Wife, is exactly the same way. She earned from The Master.

When I got home I sat a bit, drank three glasses of water, then drove the old truck down by the burn pile and emptied the debris Jeff left in the back. It was mostly bad wood and is now on the burn pile awaiting a hot fire.

I contemplated mowing the lawn in the afternoon but decided to not press my luck by working too hard in one day. I consider taking a nap, too. I could do that because Diane is sequestered in the County Court House once again. She said she’s working on the election counting board, but I think it’s community service for yelling at the stupid drivers she encounters on the road. She denies it, of course. In lieu of mowing the yard, I decided to use the electric weed whacker and edge the sidewalk and flower beds. That entailed a trip to the back yard to get an extension cord long enough. It was in the back yard because I left it there, along with the battery charger, the last time I tried to mow the yard. Had to recharge the batteries.

I hooked up two cords and went to work and almost made it around the east corner of the house before I yanked the cords apart. Had I tied the cords together, like I usually do, that wouldn’t have happened, but I thought I might need that extra 6 inches of cord to do the job. Didn’t work. That meant a trip to the basement to get another cord, which I did. The extra length allowed me to zip around all the areas I wanted to zip around. When done, I meticulously wound the cords up and laid them on a pile of “things” in the garage. Having done the edges, I figured I may as well mow, but first I should probably trim the low hanging limbs on the tree by the sidewalk. I like it tall enough that I can walk under it whenever I want to. That doesn’t happen often, but I want it that way, just in case. I trim it by holding my battery-powered hedge trimmer above my head while slowly walking back and forth under the tree, trimming as I go. Works great. Just as I got going, the battery died and the spare was already dead. After searching around for the plug-in units for the hedge trimmer battery chargers, I found them buried under a bunch of chairs we don’t use in the corner of the garage. Tangled up with those chargers was the one for the little yellow jumper battery I have, so I plugged that in, too.

Since I had to wait for the batteries to charge, and I was way beyond wanting a nap, I thought I may as well fire up the lawn mower and get what I could. I went down stairs, jumped on the mower, turned the key, and nothing happened. I did this a few times before surrendering to the understanding that the battery was dead, too. I the charger from the lower patio which was near by, went back up to the garage for the extension cords I had recently removed from the lower patio, and got it plugged in. When things like this happen I always think that I should have upstairs and downstairs extension cords to eliminate all that walking up and down. I admit, however, that all that walking is a good thing. That’s one of the reasons I have all my tools in the basement. When I need a wrench I make a fairly educated guess at what size I need then go to the basement and get it. It’s always the wrong size so I have to go back and get the correct wrench. I do this for each task which some may think is a bit eccentric, which it is, but it’s the way I exercise. Kinda dumb, I know.

Now, while all the batteries are charging, I had nothing to do until I caught sight of the blackberries that were encroaching the area were we are growing our own bird feed from the seeds the birds scatter all over the place. They are interesting. I think pretty soon they will be tall and strong enough for Breezie to climb all the way to the bird feeders instead of jumping.

Thinking the charger had been on the mower long enough to get it going, I gave it a shot. It started right up, so I went to the burn pile to get the grass catcher attachments. That’s where I left them the last time I mowed. I don’t remember how long ago that was, but I’m sure lots snakes and rats appreciated the cover during the last few rainy days we had. I always enjoy helping the wildlife in the area.

Mowing went well until I emptied the jam-packed bags and headed out for the final round on the front yard. Then guess what happened. Yup. Ran out of gas and I didn’t have any.

At this point I decided to bow to the wisdom of whatever spirit was trying to tell me I wasn’t supposed to mow the yard today. At least, not all of it. So, there sits the mower in the front yard. Almost done, but not quite.

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Perhaps tomorrow.

Diane’s home. She was released from the County Jail about an hour ago and stopped to talk with her Mom on the way home. Mom told her I rode my bike down to the house so she probably should look for me laying alongside the road on her way up the hill. That’s pretty kind of her to be so concerned about my welfare, don’t you think?

Birthdays & Biopsies

Today is our annual “Tweener” birthday celebration. The reason is because my birthday was yesterday and son Jeff’s birthday is tomorrow. We’re only two days apart but he’s a Gemini and I’m a Taurus. We do the tweener celebration because it’s much easier than doing it twice, once for each of us. Besides, we’re both getting older and instead of planned events like this we all find much joy in just seeing each other for no reason at all.

For my birthday we took a trip to The Dalles which is 113 miles up the Columbia River Gorge from home. We went to The Dalles to watch the St. Helens High softball team play their last game. It was their last game because they lost 9-7 to the The Dalles Redhawks. It was still a fun game and a beautiful drive.

We went early so we could stop and have a birthday lunch and chose the Ristorante Di Pompello in Troutdale which sits right next to I-84, the quickest way to The Dalles. The atmosphere at the Ristorante Di Pompello was very nice, and the service excellent, but the food was a little disappointing for a couple of us. On the plus side, the price was right. Daniel paid.

After lunch (Thanks Daniel) we were amazed by all the bronze sculptures along the sidewalk then stopped by the Caswell Gallery, the source of our enjoyment, to a room full of beautiful bronze art. Rip Caswell is quite amazing. Sadly, he wasn’t in the store, but he has his studio in the town and I’m sure that any of you who have a notion would be welcome to see how he does his magic. I’m just guessing on the visit potential, of course. You’ll have to call Rip at 503-492-2473 and ask if it’s OK. If that doesn’t work out, just enjoy the store. There’s a very nice lady who guards the place.

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After the game we headed back home and folks decided it might be a good idea to eat again. It was going on 7 pm when we headed west and maybe 7:30 when Jennie, our chauffeur, pulled in to a DQ in Hood River, one of the premier locations in the world for wind surfers. When the wind blows in the gorge, the Columbia River is full of these folks. They are very entertaining, especially those who use kites instead of sails. Those folks get way up in the air.

Our meal was good and it was enjoyable just sitting, eating, and talking with the family, even though it was only a partial family. Lydia and Jeran were missing. When the last bite was done (mine) we piled back in the Envoy and continued our trip home. Once on the freeway it was evident that it was going to be a very incredible sunset. We continued on, gasping at the beautiful sky, the bits and pieces we could see through the trees along the freeway, until Jennie found a pull out for folks like us who want to take in the view. Here’s what we saw looking down the river …
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and this is was looking up the river. Pretty nice.

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I mentioned in a previous posting that son Jeff tied balloons to our paper box at 0530 on my birthday, yesterday morning. Here’s the evidence. It was very thoughtful.

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Last Thursday Diane took me to an overdue visit to my dermatologist. He’s not actually mine because I know we’re not allowed to own people, but if that were possible, he’d be mine. He did a very thorough check of all my bumps and lumps and chose a few that he thought should have a closer look. One was from my left forehead, another from the top of my right ear, the left one if you’re looking at me, and the last one from just below my right knee. There are numerous spots that need to be seared off my exterior but he’s waiting to find out the results of testing on these three before heading down that road. Here’s what they looked like …

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Now I have three divots that need to be filled in. I suspect there will be a larger notch in my ear before this is all done. If so, so be it. I can’t see my ears anyway so it’s not a big deal.

Funny thing. All of my wounds have band aids applied and they are supposed to remain on all night. This morning the one from my leg was missing and I couldn’t find it anywhere in the bed. Later in the day, Diane found it stuck to the inside of her leg. Since I was asleep all night, honest, I have no idea how that happened. Swear to God.

 

Yesterday, Last Night, & This Morning

Diane was released from the County Courthouse this morning and she got home at 0450 after 18 straight hours on the job. She was very tired when she drug herself through the front door (which I left unlocked for her). This was expected, however, because it’s a long drawn out process with specific requirements for each step involved. I don’t know them all, since I’m not a member of that inner circle, but I can speculate about what I “think” I know.

Like, signatures. Every ballot is signed by the voter and the signature is validated by one of the volunteers against a database of voters signatures which are kept in a special vault by the men’s bathroom. That’s unfortunate because the person who does the counting isn’t technically allowed to use the men’s restroom due to the nature of her physical characteristics.

Regarding that … bathrooms. There’s such a huge argument about which bathroom a transgender person should use which I think is totally asinine. Instead of building new restrooms for to accommodate people who aren’t quite sure which one to use, why not just rip out all the fixtures in public facility restrooms and install porta pottys. They are private and every gender imaginable can use them. In schools, for safety, I suspect they should be bolted to the floor so no one can tip them over.

Another alternative would be to build a separate structure, like I’ve seen in some campgrounds, that has a row of doors on each side that doesn’t indicate gender. Each door opens to a small private bathroom that can be used on a first come, first served basis. The signage on the door is either “Occupied” or “Available”. For students who can’t read, “Occupied” is RED, and “Available” is GREEN which has universal meaning all its own. For those who are both illiterate and color blind, there is always the simple test of trying to open the door. If it opens and there’s someone else already in there, they obviously don’t care if they have visitors regardless of gender. Or, they just forgot to lock the door. I’m sure the School Board would be open to establishing a special class to teach students how to recognize simple clues like I’ve mentioned in order to avoid a law suit. Pretty simple. Sadly, anything that requires a committee always winds up being complicated and expensive.

I’m sure that some of you are wondering what I was doing while Diane was working so hard. Well, I think I mentioned that I mowed all three acres of our lawn during the early afternoon, then I took Cedric to his DEP (Delayed Entry Program) meeting at the Navy recruiter’s office by the Hillsboro airport. While he was inside learning, I steeped a couple of doors down and had a wonderful Chinese meal of orange chicken and noodles for $8 at a very small establishment. One of those little family run holds in the wall places. Beats the commercial outfits every time. Then I sat in the Diane’s truck, which allowed me to drive, and read my book until my iPad ran out of juice. Then I drove Cedric to the Scappoose McDonald’s where he bought his supper, then dropped him at Grace Baptist Church where he helps with their Youth Group. The entire Walters family helps with all of the Youth Groups at church. They are busy.

Then I went home and let dogs out. Yes, I’m the one who lets the dogs out. That song is about me.

After fiddling with Diane’s fancy remote – she has one of those Xfinity things that you can talk to – I decided to just watch one of the movies I had recorded. It was “Tomorrowland”. I really liked it and would like to watch it again with Diane, when she wakes up. I also watched “Ant Man”, which was OK, but not something Diane would enjoy, and three episodes of “Quantico”. There might have been an episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” in there, too. It’s a little hazy.

The weather changed this afternoon, after we finished golfing. Went to the course at 0900 this morning, dog tired, and did pretty good. Can’t tell you what my score was because that’s not important. I can report, however, that I nearly had a birdie (got a par instead), and I only had 8 on one hole. The rest of them were 5’s and 6’s, maybe one 7, too. After golf we (Doug, Junior, and me) went to Burgerville for lunch and talked briefly about all the folks our age who are checking out to The Great Beyond which is a song by R.E.M and an Australian store that sell clothing made from bamboo. Who knew? For the purposes of my narrative, I mean that they died. Perhaps you knew that, but I had to clarify. Most recently was the lost of another class mate who decided to end it himself. No one I’ve talked with, so far, understands why. Then, Junior’s neighbor died and he’s been asked to be a pall bearer. All this is happening not long after Junior and Doug lost their very good friend, Mike Barnes. Golfing is a good way for us all to put all those dark thoughts aside and enjoy the day.

I think this is enough.

Oh! Tomorrow Diane and I are going to The Dalles to watch the St. Helens Lady Lions varsity softball team participate in a playoff game for state. Lydia and her friend, Ceirra, were both called up to play so we will, naturally, go watch. It’s only a simple 2.5 hour drive, but that’s one of Diane’s favorite things to do. No one expects the team to advance very far, but you just never know which way that ball will bounce. So, we go.

Does your vote count? – Shipmate Cedric – EOU Softball

It’s Tuesday, May 17th. That means its primary day and if you don’t get your ballots in before midnight, or thereabouts, your vote won’t count. Actually, it probably won’t count anyway since most of the other states have already made the decision for us. That’s emphasized by Hillary not even bothering to visit Oregon, something she did for most of the other states during their primary vote which means she’s just going to concede us to Bernie because I suspect she figures she just doesn’t need our support. Either that, or she doesn’t feel that she’s going to get our support, so why bother. Just an opinion. I could be totally wrong about that as I have been about far less import events in the past. No doubt this up and down trend will continue till I suck my last breath.

To aid in this voting effort, Diane is spending all day today, and won’t be home until the wee hours of the morning, counting ballots, helping to ensure everything is on the up and up. She does this every year and it wears her out, totally, every time. But, hey, they pay her $9 and hour for all that work so why not? Might get enough for a full tank of gas. We’ll see.

Me? I spent the day in self-imposed isolation, kind of, by mowing our entire yard. It looks right nice. Thankfully it dried out quickly from the last rain. I was unnecessarily concerned. After that I had time to take a shower then pick up Cedric for his meeting with the Navy recruiter. He does this, along with other Delayed Entry Program enlistees, on a regular basis while waiting for his trip to boot camp. Cedric will be going in mid July. I don’t know about the others.

Considering what happened last week (that trip to the emergency room?) you’d wonder why I would be left all alone with instructions to not use any dangerous tools (scissors are now on the list), but I was allowed to drive Cedric to Hillsboro. Kind of inverted logic, I think? But, it worked out OK and I’m home safe, as is Cedric. I guess the thought was I’d be safer in the truck going 55 than I would be going up or down stairs at home, in case I had another “near” Syncope event. A purely Syncope event is when you actually faint. I didn’t do that, but it was close. I think things like that happen so that you are unconscious when you hit the ground. I’d think that would hurt a lot less than being awake for the entire event. I’ve not had a recurrence but I’m still scheduled to see my cardiologist on June 14th. I’ll let you know how that goes whether or not you’re interested.

Eastern Oregon University (EOU) softball made it to post-season play this year for the first time since 2000. I know that’s true because I looked it up. I looked it up because I figured someone might ask if that’s true. Well, it is. As far as I can tell. My interest in EOU softball is because Diane and I have matching EOU cushions, and I have both an EOU shirt and hat. We have those because we cashed in on a prime opportunity to get stupendous bargains at the EOU book store as they closed out their stock last year. We were there to watch our Niece-niece Maryssa play for the EOU team. She’s a sophomore there now. On May 8th she knocked in the winning run that earned her team their first conference title in school history. Impressive.

 I guess I’ll wrap this up and watch a couple of movies while I wait for Diane to get home. She’ll be upset that I stayed up waiting for her, but that’s OK. I just need to know she’s home safe. I could go to bed, I suppose, because the dogs will alert me to her arrival, but I’d rather see if I can stay awake. It’s only fair.

Later …