Golf, Thermostats, and the Old Truck,

I had to go golfing again yesterday because I said I would. Diane thinks it’s OK that I golf a lot. I suspect she think by going more often I’ll get better at it. Boy do I have a surprise for her. Unlike most other sports, where that’s true, golf has its own rules when it comes to getting better. One day it’s good, the next day it’s bad. So it goes. The up side of golfing is that I generally get to drive the cart. That’s fun.

Daniel’s PT Cruiser started overheating on him so he brought it over to see if I could figure out why. After looking under the hood for a little while I decided that the thermostat had given up and crossed the bar. For those of you unfamiliar with crossing the bar, it’s a Navy term for “died”. When a friend passes, they’ve crossed the bar. I suppose that could be taken in a couple of ways because of the nature of sailors, like, it could be a statement that a sailor had crossed the bar when he was thrown over one during a fight in a foreign port. You know how those sailors drink, right? Well, you at least know how people THINK those sailors drink. Most commonly, however, crossing the bar simply refers to the point a ship is on its own after leaving port and the harbor pilot departs. Still, it’s a nice, symbolic, mental image for us old guys to consider as we progress toward the end of our lives. “Crossing the Bar” is also a poem.

Back to the PT …

Since neither Daniel nor I had ever changed the thermostat in a PT Cruiser, it was a journey of discovery for both of us. I have a perfectly good service manual in a readily accessible folder on my computer, but referring to it would have removed the mystery of our journey. Instead, we just studied the situation and started taking bolts off things to gain access to what we both determined to be the problem area. Turns out, it’s a complicated process because the turbo engine we were working on was most certainly built by very small people with very small hands. Consequently, gaining access to some bolts whose removal were critical to our endeavor, was problematic and resulted in the loss, forever, of two of them. Each of us lost one, and listened intently as they clattered their way into the tangle of wires and tubes, never to reach the ground. This, of course, required a trip to ACE for replacements. Thankfully, we were had retained possession of a nut of the right size that enabled Daniel to procure the necessary replacements. In the end, Daniel was able to get all the bolts back into place using a more careful approach, knowing that one little slip meant another trip to ACE as soon as all the replacement bolts and nuts were lost. Fortunately, none were lost. One of these days those lost bolts will secure their freedom on the highway and bounce along until they come to rest amidst the rocks and debris near the guard rail somewhere along Highway 30. A hitchhiker may find them and know exactly what they are for but more likely they will sit there for years, rusting, until finally they are once again one with the universe. Happens all the time.

During interludes while Daniel was shopping for parts, I worked on the Old Truck, replacing spark plug wires. I decided to do that when the engine started sounding a lot like a John Deere tractor. It was running on 6 or 7 cylinders because one wire was parted at the spark plug, and another was partially burned through as it rested peacefully on the incredibly hot exhaust manifold. It was time. Part of the process of preparing the wires was to attach the spark plug ends after making sure they were the right length. I didn’t both with cutting them because I didn’t want to. I just took one off, selected a new one that was close to the proper length, then put it all together. As a result, some wires are a bit long for the plug to which they are attached, but I remedied that by winding them around tubes and hoses in the engine compartment. None of them will be allowed to touch the exhaust manifold. They should last a long time. Cousin Don provided me with a handy tool to properly crimp the little metal clips on the wires and I’m thankful for that. Don is my favorite mechanic. He knows everything and has all the tools.

Diane told me there’s a cruise in at the Elks Club today. I might drive the old truck out there just for fun and look at all the nice cars.

Oh ya! Diane’s been bugging me for years about painting it so I began that process a few days ago when I came across an assortment of rattle cans in the basement. I decided to use what I have and see how it works out. The first can only lasted to cover the left front fender. It’s OSHA yellow, meant for hard hats, I believe. I have some green and red that I will try on other parts as time permits unless Diane hides them from me, or throws them away.

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Yeah, I know. It needs another coat and I got some paint on the chrome, but it will come right off with the right chemicals. While I’m at it I may as well put the windshield wipers back on it so I can drive it in the rain, and maybe put the right side mirror back together – it fell apart and the mirror part is laying on the dash. When I want to use it, I just hold it and look behind me.

It’s only a little after 9 am and I hear Diane tiptoeing around so guess it’s time to get productive. First thing up is to print the church bulletin and the church’s August newsletter. That’s my job.

Later

Physical Therapy, Boot Camp, and Long Trips

I graduated from Physical Therapy today. My therapist, Brett, said I passed. Now all I have to do is keep doing the exercises he prescribed for me that most folks on physical therapy don’t do.

The first thing I did during my session was spend 8 minutes on a bike. Today Brett dropped me to 5 minutes. Sitting adjacent to me was Kay, who I didn’t know until I asked her what a nice girl like her was doing in a place like this. From that I not only learned her name, but also that she had her knee replaced a few years ago and comes back to the facility to keep it limber to ensure she continues to have no problems with the knee. I wish Diane could have talked with her. She’s leary of knee surgery, even though she would benefit immensely from having it done. Now I’ll share that by sharing that I’ll be in trouble for about a week. What’s new there?

Diane, my Social Secretary/Travel Agent/Best Cook Ever/Friend, spent most of the morning talking with a couple of airlines to see if she could redesign how we used some airplane tickets we already have in order to allow us to visit Cedric after he graduates from boot camp in September.

The current reservation has us leaving Portland on September 20th on Alaska Airlines to Chicago where we switch to American Airlines for the trip to Bradley Field in Connecticut. Since Cedric graduates from Boot Camp on September 16th, Diane is trying to back up our first leg of the trip on Alaska to leave on the 15th, then pick up the original American Airlines flight on the 20th. I don’t know where it stands, right now, so can’t provide results at this time.

News at eleven.

I must add, considering that I’m sharing the news that we will be away from home for an extended time, until October 16th or so, that the home will still be occupied by Jewel who has easy access to a bazooka, 3 shotguns, a couple of 9 mils, various yard tools, and a flame thrower. Plus the dogs, of course. They will be here, too.

So, for any of you Facebook cruisers who have a notion to visit our home thinking it’s vacant, keep that in mind.

We also have video surveillance installed.

And a ex-feral cat.

 

Cedric’s a Sailor, County Fair, Camping, and Golf

Well, we made it safely back from our latest camping trip and I have a few minutes available to catch up on all our activities. I would have done a daily ‘thing’ but we (AT&T) did not have cell service and there was no internet. We didn’t have satellite TV, either. We really roughed it this time. Those who use Verizon and Sprint were still able to communicate which made me briefly consider switching carriers. Then Diane drove toward Vernonia, to the Forest Ranger Station, to call her Mom, Jean. During that process one of the Rangers came out and told her if she had Verizon she was out of luck because there was no service. But, AT&T worked. So, we’ll be sticking with AT&T for a while.

Before all the camping fun began we bid farewell to Cedric on the 19th as he began his trip to Navy boot camp at Great Lakes Recruit Training Center, just north of Chicago. He is a third generation Sailor in our family. Graduation is September 17th, I think, and there are plans in the works to attend the ceremony. I’m not sure, yet, if Diane and I will attend because Cedric is only allowed 4 guests. I think we plan to leave that special event for the immediate family because Diane and I have non-refundable plane tickets to Connecticut on September 20th. Two airplane rides that close together isn’t financially feasible, so we’ll rely on family photos and participate vicariously through them. We’ll see him when he comes home on leave.

Duly sworn in and officially a member of the Navy. Proud Mom, Dad, and Sister.

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After wishing Cedric a safe journey, we all went home. That afternoon we went to the movie and watched “The Secret Life of Pets” at the Columbia Theater in St. Helens with Bob, Steff, and Jewel. Then we had dinner at Dockside. All of us were stuffed to the gills. By the time we got home it was time for bed.

The first day of the Columbia County Fair weekend was Wednesday, the 20th. That’s the day old people get in for free so we almost always go. There were fairs in past years where we helped and earned badges for daily entrance, but those days are behind us now. We took Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie with us, using ride wrist bands and entry tickets that Diane bought ahead of time. She also got wrist bands for Lydia and Jeran so it worked well that the 3 little ones were chaperoned by the two larger ones. It as pretty amazing that the children chose to go see all the animals before giving in to the allure of the carnival rides. Toward the end of the day, Jeff & Heather arrived and took charge of G, B, and J then we went plant shopping. Everyone had a great time. Even the old people.

Gilligan, Jerrie, and Baylee on the way in

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Lydia, Jerrie, Gilligan, and Baylee confront a T-Rex.

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Lydia conquers the wall … multiple times.

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Jewel and Diane with their trusty dogs.

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Bob finally has Steff where he wants her.

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On Thursday, the 21st, we finalized our preparations for our Camping trip at Big Eddy. For those of you not familiar with the area, Big Eddy is a county park situated on the Nehalem River that flows through Vernonia. The river begins it’s journey on the east side of the Coast Range then loops around the north end of the range near the mouth of the Columbia River. Then it winds it’s way SW, finishing it’s 119 mile journey at Nehalem Bay, which is near Nehalem, OR. The bay feeds into the Pacific Ocean.

Diane and I fiddled around long enough to be the last ones out of the chute, consequently arriving last, which was OK. We arrived without incident, got parked and connected with lots of help from those who were already there. Then we started relaxing right away. That means we huddled around the camp fire all day and well into the evening, eating when food was ready, then going to bed when it was pitch black outside. Since the park is booked exclusively for the St. Helens Grace Baptist Church kids could run free, which they did, with no fear of danger, unless they fell down, which some did. It was chilly for the first couple of days so most of the time was spent around a fire, sharing stories and eating.

Here’s the night fire …

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… and the day fire …

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On Saturday the 23rd Bob, Steff, Jennifer, Diane, and I made the 7 mile trip to Vernonia to see what the Vernonia Saturday Market was about. Since nothing else was going on in town, there were only 4 booths open but they all had beautiful quality products. It was good to visit the town. The most interesting part of the visit was learning about David’s story. David is the first person we encountered in a little knickknacks shop on a corner. He was extremely nice, and friendly, and pointed us to his boss’s store a couple blocks up the street. At that store Donna, the owner, told the girls about David and what a remarkable life he had survived. He has Aspergers Syndrome  and spent the first 55 years of his life hidden away from contact with anyone but his Mom or Dad. They didn’t know how to deal with him so tucked him away when folks visited. He never went to the doctor, dentist, or school. When his Dad died 7 years ago, his sister took him in and spent the next 5 years cleaning him up and exposing him to social situations until he was comfortable leaving his home. Donna met David when he and his sister visited her store and was impressed with David’s willingness to help. This led to a friendship that caused Donna to purchase another store which David manages. It’s his store. He’s 62 now and doing very well considering how much he missed during those 55 years of isolation. His store is on the corner of Adams Ave. and Bridge Street. Stop in and say HI, then go to Donna’s store and thank her for her incredible benevolent spirit.

After attending outdoor Sunday service, everyone packed up to go home. Bob & Steff were heading to Pendleton where they stayed at the Wild Horse Casino. On the way they were trapped in huge traffic jam caused by accident. It took them many hours longer than anticipated to reach their destination, but they eventually made it. We made it home without incident since we didn’t have to travel any of the freeways. The dogs were extremely happy to see us and Ziva let us know that it was a dirty trick to leave her behind when we know how much she enjoys camping. So, she will be going with us on all future trips.

This morning I went golfing with Doug and JP. It was a beautiful morning and we all did really well. I had three pars, a new personal best for me. Doug chipped in from 60 feet for a birdie which was fun to watch. It was a good day. When we finished we went to lunch, like we always do. I called Diane to see if she would like to join us, but she declined because she thought we were going to Burgerville, our normal choice. But, this time we went to the Village Inn where I had a very good Chicken Fried Steak, hash browns, and eggs. It was very good and I ate it all. Diane was upset about not going when she found out we didn’t go to Burgerville. It was very good and she missed out.

On the way home I stopped at O’Reilly’s for new spark plug wires for the truck because one wire burned out against the exhaust manifold making the truck sound a lot like a John Deere tractor. I also filled the truck with gas and got a container of gas for the lawn mower thinking I’d get something done outside. But, when Diane and Jewel left to go play around in thrift stores, I was told “No working outside because it’s 90 degrees!” I can only assume the she wasn’t in the mood to go looking for me after dying from heat exhaustion, and laying in the hot sun for hours. That probably wouldn’t be any fun at all, so I’m just staying inside, as directed.

That’s it. Except for this hydrangea that grows by our home.

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We haven’t figured out what causes it to come out in multiple colors like this, but it’s kinda neat.

News Flash !

A “new” study has determined that violent video games are linked to child aggression. This was reported in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Really? It took a study six month study, I think it was six months, to come to this conclusion. I suspect pretty much every parent who allowed their children to play violent games could have told you within a couple of weeks, if not sooner.

Regarding the report … it’s from November, eight months ago, and is just now being reported by our ever vigilant media. Obviously this either isn’t important news, or everyone already knows. Just a guess.

Hmm.

 

Hillary

OK, it’s official. Hillary has entered the ranks of famous people who only need one name for folks to know who they are. Like Madonna. Had to point that out even though I’m pretty sure everyone knows.

Then, this morning, I read a news blip about how Hillary, at a NAACP conference, vowed to reform the American justice system to “root out implicit bias and stop the killings of African-Americans.”

First, African-Americans, when the dust settles are just Americans like the rest of us. It is my belief that those who insist on being called African-Americans are part of the “bias” problem in American and help perpetuate racial tensions. I, and many others, not all of us Hispanic, or Black, have pointed this out in the past, but we are overshadowed by the media who dwell in the world where the sensational minority demand more attention than the more stable majority. It’s a sad situation.

I have to add that my first thought about Hillary’s vow to reform the justice system was that she wanted to ensure that no one in the future would be able to cleanly walk away from legal charges like she did. It was a travesty of justice and she knows it so I guess she’s going to fix it.

Nifty.

Astoria, Soccer, Crabs, Clams, Cod, & Cow

Today was a really good one. We drove to Astoria to watch the girls play soccer and to celebrate Jewel’s last day of her antibiotics and her return to semi-normalcy. It’s “semi” because I believe we’re all in agreement that none of are every truly normal. Something is always out of whack in one way or another.

The trip to Astoria began at noon under a dark, cloudy sky with the slight promise of a little rain. We knew the girls would play rain or shine so the weather prospects weren’t relevant. As we neared our destination, Duggar’s in Warrenton, so we could eat lunch first, the sky showed a slim promise of sunshine, but it didn’t last. Thankfully, however, it wasn’t cold.

Lunch was awesome. Lydia had chicken strips and a cup of clam chowder, Diane had a halibut sandwich, Jennie had a Duggar Cheeseburger, Jewel had fried clams, and I had my customary, trip to the beach Crab Louie. There’s nothing quite as good as a crab louie made with fresh Dungeness crab. I’m sure some of you may disagree, but that’s OK. I regret that I failed to take a photo of our meals to share. I do have this one, however, that we ate with Diane’s Mom, Jean, the other day:

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It was pretty good, too. Got it from Zhen’s in St. Helens. For folks familiar with St. Helens, and even those who aren’t, Zhen’s used to be Lucky Inn.

After lunch, we went a bit further down Highway 101 to visit Petco so Jen and Lydia could get a halter and collar for their new cat, Beau. He’s all gray and very cute. His new collar has a bow tie on it. I’ll share a photo when I get one. Whether you want me to, or not.

One the shopping was done we parted ways. Lydia had to be at the field by 4 pm but the game didn’t start until 5 Diane, Jewel, and I headed further West to the Pacific Ocean. Jewel has been whining that she hasn’t seen the Pacific Ocean for years, forgetting, apparently, that she lived on an island surrounded by the same ocean for the last 8 years or so. One of us pointed that out and she rephrased her whine that she hadn’t seen the PO from Oregon in a very long time. So, we rectified that. It wasn’t hard for Diane to go that extra step because she makes up reasons to visit the coast. Sadly, we don’t do it often enough for either of us. It’s a great place to be and there’s just nothing quite as pretty as an Oregon beach even on the worst of days.

We drove through Fort Stevens to the very end where the road terminates in a parking lot on the Columbia River side of the park. Along that stretch is a very nice beach that was being put to good use when we arrived. We didn’t stay long because the object, after all, was for us to reach the ocean. Back tracking a bit we stopped at the parking lot for the South Jetty, took a short walk to a viewing tower, and got our ocean fix for the day. Here’s proof:

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After the Kodak Moment it was time for us to head for the soccer field so we wouldn’t miss anything.

The game was fun to watch, but not as exciting as normal because it was just a scrimmage between the two teams. They played almost a full game during which the Astoria goalie made some pretty incredible stops. They scored against Lydia once off a corner kick. The reason they scored was because she didn’t have any defenders to help and just before the kick one of our coaches was yelling at our girls to get away from the goal for some reason. Anyway, it paid off for Astoria because they got it in the net and there wasn’t a thing Lydia could have done to stop it. It ended 1-0.

When the game was mostly done, they called it and regrouped for another round but the Astoria goalie shed her gear to play in the field leaving the keeperless. Fortunately, St. Helens has two goalies so one, Morgan, was loaned to Astoria. St. Helens scored against her once and Lydia kept the other goal clear so the day ended in a 1-1 tie, I guess. Then we went home. Diane made me drive.

The day before yesterday Jeff showed up with his three youngest children and we had a great visit. It’s always fun when they are around because they are so full of energy. That’s Gilligan, Baylee, Diane, and Jerrie.

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And here’s a sunset I failed to share with you on July 10th. Sorry about that.

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Now it’s late and we’re having our final visit with Cedric tomorrow before he ships out for boot camp. He has to be in Portland Monday but doesn’t leave until Tuesday after taking his official oath of enlistment. We get to witness that at 9 am Tuesday, then it’s hands off Cedric until his first leave because once he swears in he belongs to the Navy, not us. We’re all excited for him and he’s ready to go. Has been for months.

I’ll be back when my head gets cluttered with stuff I don’t want there any more.

Edited 7/17/2016: Had to change Cod to Halibut in the narrative to make the story more factual. But, I left it Cod in the title because Halibut doesn’t begin with a “C”.

Good News For Golfers

I have it on good authority that all golfers in the world, or at least in the USA, are going to realize a benefit based on the fiasco of the FBI releasing Hillary of blame for lying to Congress, and her blatant refusal to use an appropriate, secure, government controlled, email server. The FBI decision, I believe, was that she did all those things without meaning to so cannot be blamed. No intent to cause harm, so she walks. Then the AG steps up and abides by the FBI ruling sidestepping her requirement to uphold the law herself. Kinda makes those of us who know that, because we reside lower on the tree of forgiveness, we would be held fully accountable and probably sent to jail. Obviously two sets of rules are in play here.

Now back to golf …

There will no longer be a penalty stoke for hitting a ball into the water or out of bounds. The USGA , the R&A, the PGA, after a private meeting with Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch, on a plane somewhere, have recommended that your opponent must prove that you intended to hit the ball into these hazards in order for there to be a penalty.

Carelessness or ignorance is not intent.

No intent-no penalty stroke.

My good friend, Jimmie O’, who keeps a watchful eye on all things golf, relayed this bit of info to me. Sounds like a boon, to me. I’m sure Hillary is thinking the same. No, probably not. I think she’s more attuned to getting her way and would find being at fault, for any infraction, a travesty of justice.