Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Short Greeting

Thought I'd put a quick post together to say howdy. We're in California for the next week. Stopped at my bothers house and stayed overnight, then made the second part of our journey to the bay area. Not sure what I did, but it feels like someone set a grenade off in my left kneecap. Dang O'Mally it hurts.

Today we conquered San Francisco. I'll save the details until I'm back home and can download a few pictures to go along with the story. For now I'll just leave it at, we all had a fantastic time.

In case I don't post again until the big day, Merry Christmas.

I'll be checking in on you when I can over the next few days, but probably won't be around too much till I get back home.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Oh Ficus Tree, Oh Ficus Tree..."

Everybody, sing with me: "Oh ficus tree, oh ficus tree..."
See # 10 for an explanation

I've seen various versions of this Christmas meme at one place or another. I decided to go ala carte and combine the questions I wanted to use, adding and omitting as I went.

Where Ive seen likenesses of this: Rubbish by Roan, Thom's Place 4 Well Whatever and Dr John's. Excuse me if I overlooked anyone.

(1) What is your favorite Christmas movie?
"The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" the cartoon version with Boris Karloff's voice. I love when the Grinch puts the "horn" on the dog and he tips face forward into the snow because of the weight.

(2) What is your LEAST favorite Christmas movie?
"The Sound of Music" OK, I know that's not necessarily a Christmas movie, but it does seem to make it onto the TV lineup this time of year. ICK, ICK, ICK

(3) What is your favorite Christmas song?
"White Christmas" cause it gives me an opportunity to break out my best Bing Crosby voice and sing along with it. Ya, it drives my wife absolutely nuts when I do that too.

(4) What Christmas song(s) drives you crazy?
Any and all of them when they are played between Dec 26 and the following Thanksgiving.

(5) Eggnog or hot chocolate?
Considering that eggnog is like drinking liquid snot, I'd have to say hot chocolate.

(6) What is your favorite Christmas memory?
Waking up, looking outside to the driveway and seeing a big red bow on a brand new car. . . Oh wait, you meant one of my memories.

(7) Have you ever re gifted a present?
No, never. . . but this year's not over yet.

(8) Candy canes, Like 'em or not?
Hanging on a tree I can handle. Eating them?.. Not so much.

(9) Do you ever buy, wrap and put a present for yourself under the tree?
I respectfully request to take the fifth amendment please.

(10) Real tree or artificial?
We live in Oregon which leads the nation in Christmas tree exportation. Trees here are cheap and easy come by. There are U-cut farms everywhere around here, and the boys enjoy going out and murdering a tree every year. This year however, we're going out of town for Christmas so there is a nice ficus in the corner of the living room that is acting as a surrogate (See the picture at the begining of this post).

(11) What tops your Christmas tree?
We have a funky star like thingy that sits up top. Growing up it was an angel. We would always laugh about that poor little angel sitting up there with a tree shoved up her backside.

(12) What is your favorite holiday dish?
Lisa when she comes to bed wearing nothing but a Santa hat. :)

(13) Do you hang mistletoe?
Yes, from the belt loop on the back of my blue jeans.

(14) Christmas lights - colored or all white?
It used to be all white, but ever since affirmative action we've gone to colored ones.

(15) Santa at the mall - Fun times or creepy?
There was one year when Matthew was a wee little guy when Santa scared the bejeebers out of him. Now though, we all look forward to our annual trip to downtown Portland to go see him. We make a day out of it hopping on the train and going there.

(16) Christmas cards - do you send them?
I think about doing it some years and then laziness takes over and it doesn't happen.

(17) Is Christmas your favorite holiday?
Not by a far stretch. Thanksgiving is number one for me. It's all about being with family and nothing about the commercialism aspect that Christmas can have overshadowing it.

(18) What is the worst thing about Christmas?
The utter chaos that happens in and around shopping areas. As I was walking toward the entrance of Target today, I darned near got run over by some retard trying to get a spot up front.

(19) When do you put decorations up?
Sometime after Thanksgiving, during that two hour window when it isn't raining outside.

(20) Out of the twelve days of Christmas, which item(s) would you want to receive?
Eight maids a milking... Hello!

(21) What is your favorite smell at Christmastime?
Homemade fudge and/or divinity

(22) What would make you happy at Christmastime this year?
Safe travel to and from California

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stew On It

Hey, it's December in Oregon so I guess it should come as no surprise that it's cold and wet outside. The perfect weather for some good ole' rib sticking beef stew. For you vegetarians out there, just think of it as tofu with actual flavor.

A few weeks ago we bought a package of chuck roast from Costco. Now if any of you shop at this mecca of excess, you'll know there's no such thing as a small anything there. As a result of this, we had pot roast with half of what we originally bought and froze the rest. Not wanting to have post roast back to back, we decided to thaw out the remaining side of beef and make stew out of it. Thought I'd share a few photos of the cooking process and a loose adaptation of the recipe.

If you decide to make this and are looking at the quantities of ingredients, just remember it can all be altered. Add or subtract to your hearts content.

1/4 cup +/- Oil
3# Beef Chuck Roast (or other stew meat)
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Red Wine
2 cups ea. Yellow Onion, Celery and Carrots
8 cloves Garlic
2 14.5 ounce cans Italian Stewed Tomatoes
3-4 cups Mushrooms
4 cups Potatoes
2-3 Bay Leaves

In a heavy skillet, heat the oil. Cut the chuck roast into large cubes and dredge in the flour. Brown meat in oil over high heat. Cook in small batches leaving plenty of room in the pan so the meat can be browned on all sides without it sticking together. Put all the cooked meat into a large soup pan.

When the last of the meat has been browned, drain any remaining oil and add the red wine. Deglaze the pan with the wine and pour the liquid into the soup pan. (basically this means to bring the wine to a boil in the pan and scrape/loosen any of the browned bits with a wooden spoon.)

This is a important part of the cooking process. Don't simply discarding them, those little browned bits in the bottom of the skillet have a tremendous amount of flavor. If you don't have any wine on hand to deglaze with, you can use water instead.

Cut the Onions, Celery and Carrots into large pieces. (about one inch cubes) Dice the garlic. In the skillet with about a tablespoon of oil, lightly saute the vegetables then put into the soup pot.

Cover the meat and veges with water and bring to a simmer. If you have any homemade beef stock on hand this is a perfect opportunity to use it here.

Quarter the mushrooms. Peel and cut the potatoes into large cubes. Place into soup pot.

If you have a nine year old in the house, ask him (or her) to open the cans of tomatoes. This will vastly improve the chances that they will want to eat dinner later. Trust me, it always tastes better if you let them help you! Put the tomatoes and bay leaves into the soup pot.

Simmer for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

Season with a little salt and black pepper.

About a half an hour into the simmering I like to skim the top of the stew to remove any oil or fat from the meat that has accumulated at the top of the pan.

I also think cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to beef stew. (cause that's the way mom always did it.) Homemade is always a nice touch, but mixes are soooo much easier. This night we used a mix from Bob's Red Mill (a local company) It was mighty tasty.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Tight Christmas

Anybody else relate to the guy on the right?

Thanks to Psycho Mom for this pic sent via an email

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Your Comment Story ... Finally!

Remember back in October when I was in my writing/blogging funk? I asked you all for a variety of comments that I would turn into a story. You came through with flying colors then I put all your comments on the shelf and didn't do anything with them. I went from feeling unmotivated to feeling guilty for not doing anything with them, to practically forgetting about them. Well, I sat down this morning and finally put them all together into a story. It's a bit off the wall, but then again, so were all those comments. Yaozer!

Below is a list all of the comments you left me followed by the story. Thought I'd put all the phrases/comments in a list for you to see rather than highlighting them in the story itself.

I'm not sure it was worth waiting for, but I couldn't stand to leave it as unfinished. Hope you enjoy.


I came storming into the room

What did you do after the elephant sat on your bicycle?

I'd love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair

Blue is the sound my heart makes

He was blindfolded, but he knew that she had just slipped the diamond ring of his dreams onto his toe

The car swerved to the left and the headlights of oncoming traffic blinded Alex

Just when he thought she'd never laugh again, she looked up just in time to see him slip on a banana peel

I felt like the biggest gasbag in town

I hobbled all the way into down on my good hoof

I've not had much loving in seventeen years either

This company consolidation is dreadful

How long are we going to continue to pretend this is a training issue?

Learn to live with the decisions you make in life

$140 in fees for a free education?

Dinner was liver and onions

What the f*** was that?

And that's when the zit popped

The mad cow had struck again

Root canal or keel hauled - choose wisely

The spot on his genitals grew larger by the day

You know I wish that I had Jesse's girl

What do you MEAN it's fake?!

But of course everyone knew my brother Gene was a far greater man than I could ever hope to be

The hole was deeper than I anticipated

"Don't touch it" she screamed, "I fear it's radioactive"

One of these days Alice, straight to the moon!

Will you return or do I have to go through this all by myself?


"The Realtor 's Reality "

The mad cow had struck again and the only thing I could think of was, blue is the sound my heart makes anytime I'm forced to go into that Maleficent bovine's office.

Being called into Mr Tums inner sanctum was rarely good news, and this particular day would prove to be no exception. Don't get me wrong, the initial proposition he placed before me sounded intriguing enough, but once the details were spelled out, it became clear that I was just being used as his string puppet once again.

He informed me that he had a very important client coming into town in a couple of days. He also said he wanted me to preview a variety of homes so I could have potential sites to show upon the arrival of said client. Common sense told me otherwise, but I decided to ask with the anticipation of an excited puppy dog who this VIP was. Tums informed me that it was none other than Bling Crozbee, the latest rap singing sensation. Upon hearing this bit of information I knew I had an immediate choice to make; Root canal or keel hauled. "Choose wisely", I thought. Knowing full well that the old standard "trip to the dentist" excuse wouldn't hold water, I opted for the torture of spending one weekend out of my life with someone I thought less of than the pimples on my ass.

To say this company consolidation was dreadful would have been an understatement. A year earlier when the economy was stronger, Tums would have had at least a half dozen other agents to choose from, but now with only three of us left (one being my brother) and me being the top seller of those remaining, I was the only logical choice. When I looked him in the eye and told him I'd be happy to oblige, I felt like the biggest gasbag in town. (Well, I am a Realtor, so I guess it kind of goes with the territory.)

An hour later and I was rolling out of the office with a list of multimillion dollar properties to preview. Then, as clearly as she was standing next to me I heard the sound of my mother resounding in my head. "Learn to live with the decisions you make in life." I could hear her say. Momma, you see, wanted me to be a doctor. I, of course, had a different idea of how to make a living.

Regardless of who was ultimately right or wrong, I had a job to do and I was going to give it everything I had. That meant doing whatever was needed to bring in a sale. Today that meant I'd needed to learn not only about the homes that were available in the area, but also to learn a thing or two about my new client.

I gulped hard as I reached over to the passenger's seat and picked up a copy of Crozbee's hit CD, "RAWRRRRRR!!!!" Lord, how I hoped the songs themselves had something more to offer than that ridicules title. Unfortunately, my initial suspicion was accurate. It was filled with a dozen or so songs ( and I use that term loosely mind you) that collectively had all the the enjoyment of a bowl of cold porridge.

From the first song, "$140 In Fees For a Free Education?" to the one that propelled him to the top of the charts, "What the F*** Was That!", the CD was one disappointment after another. After twenty minutes of listening, I was convinced talent was not a prerequisite to make it in some musical circles. Another twenty minutes and I was ready to commit hari-kiri.

As quickly as I could, I hit the eject button and flung that putrid silver disc out the passenger side window as far as I could possibly manage. The classic rock station that replaced Crozbee's noise was playing a song from Rick Springfield and I soon found myself singing out loud, "You know I wish that I had Jesse's girl...ta da da da da da...Jesse's girl" Maybe not the greatest song ever written, but it certainly was a far cry better than what was previously on.

It was about this time I pulled into Marietta Heights and up to the first of the homes I thought would be suitable for my client. At just under eighty-five hundred square feet of living space, it was the smallest one on the list and I knew Crozbee would immediately discount it as being undersized, but that was part of my plan. I found when showing property, it was beneficial to show at least one place that the client wouldn't care for, thereby making the others look that much better.

I took the obligatory tour through the property, making a few notes as I went, even knowing Bling would immediately shoot it down once he saw it. A few minutes later I jumped back my Beamer and headed off toward the next property, and that's when the zit popped. "Damn!" I shouted, looking into the rear view mirror. The hole was deeper than I anticipated too. In fact, the darned thing looked like a crater on the end of my nose. I watched as a greenish-white puss oozed from the divot now prominently displayed across my schnoz remembering what my wife had said earlier that morning. With both thumbs positioned to either side of that nasty little red bump, I was just about to give it a good firm squeeze when, in most dramatic fashion, she screamed, "Don't touch it. I fear is is radioactive!" to which I could only think of Jackie Gleason and shouted back, "One of these days Alice, straight to the moon!" I was going to have to do something about this before meeting with Crozbee later in the week.

After mopping up the mess on my nose with a slightly used napkin left over from my morning trip to Starbucks, I was once again focused on the task at hand; searching for the perfect home for my client.

The second home looked to be the perfect choice. I'd seen it two years earlier when it had been for sale before. Now, after an ugly divorce between the most recent owners, it was on the market once again. This baby had all the amenities a young, self absorbed rap star like Crozbee would find irresistible, and with an asking price of just under ten million, I was sure he'd think it was a steal.

With a smile on my face, I thought about the commission I'd be getting from this sale as I opened the lock box and plucked the key from its confines. I grabbed it and slid it into the ornate lock on the front door giving the bell a ring to announce my arrival in case anybody was inside. As I opened the large mahogany door, my smile quickly faded. The most horrific smell wafted through the air and I could tell the previous night's dinner was liver and onions. "Didn't anyone realize this was not the best choice for a house that was on the market?" I muttered aloud. "Well," I thought, "A nice apple pie placed in the oven a couple hours before showing it to Bling would certainly cover up any remaining nastiness that remained. Heck, it might even make him wax nostalgic for his mommas home cooking too, making the house seem all the more attractive."

It was obvious by the generally unkempt conditions I saw while going from room to room, that the husband had somehow retained possession of the home, but certainly not the maid. I kept reassuring myself we had a couple of days before actually showing the home, and these things could be overcome easily enough. That's about the time I made it to the master bedroom. The door was sort of half closed and I could hear two people inside who were, for the lack of a better term, engaged in an extra curricular activity that I was quite sure I didn't need to witness with my own eyes. As I stood motionless on the opposite side of the door, I could hear, "I've not had much loving in seventeen years either." to which I thought, "I did not need to hear that!"

"I'd love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair." she replied with a giggle.

"Oh brother!" I continued thinking, "What am I doing here?" A moment later I heard the young woman exclaim, "What do you MEAN it's fake?!"

Fits of laughter started to work their way through me as I stood there in morbid curiosity as to what was transpiring on the other side of the door. This was like a train wreck unfolding before my eyes ... well, my ears anyway. I couldn't stand it anymore so I came storming into the room as if I'd not heard a thing. The two of them jumped up from the oversized bed as the young woman quickly reached for the corner of the sheet to cover herself. He was not as modest though, and he stood there wearing nothing but a ridiculous looking ten gallon hat on his head and a dark red robe. Much to my dismay, the robe was not fastened in the front leaving his Johnson hanging out in full view. It was at this point that I recalled the very public divorce proceedings between he and his ex wife. The one headline that was played on every news channel and across every tabloid was a quote from his wife in which she said, "The spot on his genitals grew larger by the day!" Well, I'm here to tell you, she was absolutely right in her statement. DAMN!

Without skipping a beat he looked at me, extended his hand and said, "Howdy, you must be the realtor."

Dumbfounded, I replied, "Uh, er... Hi, Alex Snyder, pleased to meet you. Sorry to interrupt. I rang the bell, but no one..."

Cutting me off he said, "Don't worry boy, I heard ya, but as you can see I was a little busy. I figured you'd make it back here eventually." He looked at his companion and said he needed to talk business with me.

She asked, "Will you return or do I have to go through this all by myself?"

"Keep it fresh darlin', I'll be right back." he told her.

"OK sugar, you know where to find me." she replied.

We made our way out to the pool and he said, "You know, your timing could have been better."

"I'm sorry sir," I said, "but I did have an appointment."

"I know boy. I'm not upset about that. It's just that, well... that tender little thing in the other room just proposed to me."

"Really?" I responded.

He went on to tell me he was blindfolded, but knew that she had just slipped the diamond ring of his dreams onto his toe. I pretended to be touched by the sentiment, but what I really wanted to do was to put my client in his house and put a nice fat commission check in my pocket. I cared very little to hear any more of his personal doings or god forbid to see anything more of the two of their sexual escapades.

That's when he informed me that due to the newly developed circumstances the home would no longer be offered for sale. "That's just perfect," I thought. "Now what?"

By this point it was getting late and I decided to pack it in for the day. I climbed back into my Beamer and decided to head down to my favorite watering hole, "The Rusty Nail". I figured I could drown my sorrows of the day in a few libations. I thought wrong.

On the drive back down the hill I was met by hoards of cars traveling in the opposite direction as I was fumbling through some paperwork on the passenger seat. The car swerved to the left and the headlights of oncoming traffic blinded Alex. "Good Lord. " I thought, "Now I'm talking about myself in the third person. I really do need a drink!" I regained control of the car and of my composure and continued toward the Rusty Nail.

The place was full of the usual characters. From the over make-uped, over perfumed floozy sitting on the corner stool waiting for some "gentleman" to buy her a drink, to the scruffy, white haired drunk who'd obviously had more than one too many already. Wanting to avoid both of them, I pulled up a stool in the middle of the bar and ordered a JD and Coke. "And make it a double would ya." I said to the bar tender.

I picked up my cell phone and called Mr Tums to inform him of the days activities. Needless to say, he was not pleased. The funny thing was, he tried to pin the blame on me, saying with proper training, I'd have convinced the guy he didn't want to live in his house with a new wife and that he'd be better off selling it. "How long are we going to pretend this is a training issue?" I found myself saying. After a few more heated words I hung up the phone and returned to my cocktail.

No sooner had I picked up my glass than the scruffy, white haired drunk stumbled down the bar and pulled up a stool next to mine. Through glazed eyes he looked at me and with slurred speech asked, "What did you do after the elephant sat on your bicycle?"

I quickly replied, "I hobbled all the way into down on my one good hoof."

Friends, let me tell you, that was an absolutely beautiful moment. He starred at me with the most stupefied look on his face, turned and just walked away. At the same time, the floozy at the other end of the bar looked up with her sad eyes and just when he (that is, I) thought she'd never laugh again, she looked up just in time to see him slip on a banana peel. "Wow" I thought, "of all the times for the bartender to have a request for a banana daiquiri and to subsequently drop a peel on the wrong side of the bar." Well, with the way the rest of my had had gone, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised.

Like the continuance of a bad dream, my phone rang and it was Mr Tums on the other end of the line. He informed me that he was removing me from Bling's sales team and was replacing me with my older brother Gene. I started to argue my point, but of course everyone knew my brother Gene was a far greater man than I could ever hope to be. I knew the real truth though and couldn't help but think no one deserved Bling like Gene did.


Thank you to all who contributed to the madness by leaving a comment for me to use. To say you made it a challenge would be an understatement.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

When Cold is Cool

Rather than let the cold weather get the best of us, Lisa and I decided to take a short journey east this morning while the boys were in school and take in what mother nature had to offer. We climbed into the truck and were met by a very neat display of ice crystals that had formed on the windshield over the previous night. (You can click on the photos to see them in a larger view)

About twenty miles to the north of where we live runs the Columbia river. For the geographically inquisitive, it forms the border between Oregon and Washington. The part of it just to the east of Portland is known as the Columbia River Gorge. As one might imagine, it meanders through the foothills on either side of it forming a deep canyon. It also makes for an incredible wind tunnel that sucks the cold air out of the east and pushes it toward the Portland metro area.

Within the gorge, there are several waterfalls that are all absolutely breathtaking. One of the more famous ones, at least locally, is Multnomah Falls. At 620 feet, it boasts being the second highest year round waterfall in the country. Anyhoodle, we've been there several times during the summer and hiked to the top of it on more than one occasion. Today though, we went there to see it in a completely different view.

With the past few days not getting above freezing, the falls have taken on a spectacular look. combining both the rushing water along with ice that has formed in and around itself. Usually when Multnomah gets this way, the entire Gorge is a mess of snow and ice, making driving through it a challenge at best. This week has been a bit different though. It has been colder than a well diggers butt, but it has also been bone dry. This meant we could travel out there at freeway speeds, but still get to enjoy the beauty of it firsthand.

Now I know some of you live in places where twenty degrees F would feel warm right about now, but to me it is C O L D ! So, I/we donned our long undies, scarfs, jackets, gloves and anything else that would keep us toasty, and headed off on our quest. About an hour later we arrived and were treated to some pretty cool sights. On the short walk up to the bridge, we came across a stream that literally froze in time.

There were probably a hundred or so people in and around the area, and everyone had a camera at the ready. Mine is just a simple pocket sized one, and unfortunately does not do the sights justice. To see it in person was really amazing.

The last shot is of the bridge I spoke of earlier. If you look closely, you'll see a couple of people standing on it. (to the right side) This was about as "empty" as I could manage to get it. I decided to change this one from color to black and white. It seemed to give it a more nostalgic flair.

Hope you all enjoyed this brief journey through Multnomah Falls.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Meandering About

As the great hunter Elmer Fudd would say, "Time for a wittle west and wewaxation."

My work projects have wrapped up and I'm ready to pack it in until after Christmas. Yahooooo!!!

Things should be pretty calm around here for the next couple of weeks now. After that we will be heading down to California to spend Christmas with Lisa's mom and brother. We're going to manage to get in some tourist type time in while down there too. Believe it or not, after living for about thirty years an hour away from San Francisco, Lisa never has been to Alcatraz island. So, on the 23rd, we're going to go check it out.


Winter may officially be a couple of weeks away, but like most of the country, if you take a look at the thermometer it would appear that it's already upon us. When I left for work this morning it was a whopping 15 degrees outside. For the third day in a row, the daytime high stayed under freezing. Brrrrrr!!! Tomorrow is supposed to be a bit colder still and, as an added bonus, if we're real lucky, we may get freezing rain on Friday/Saturday. Yepee Skippy!


How about a little cold weather Haiku?

I can't feel my toes
Temperature plummeting
It's so freaking cold!


Here's a blogging question. Sometimes when I read a post I particularly enjoy, or one that I like to reference back to, I mention the author along with a link to their place. I do this out of courtesy, not obligation. So the prose is this: Do you, when you see these links, ever click on them to visit the site?


I have a story idea running through my head. Hopefully I'll actually find the time and ambition to get it out on "paper" and share it with you all.


OK, enough rambling on for now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Working Girls / Working Man

So in case you missed it (as did I), last night was Victoria's Secret big show on TV. It got me to thinking as some things will.

Was this show done to improve their bottom line?

Did they bust out all of their special goods?

Do you suppose they are bosom buddies with Fredrick's of Hollywood?

How's this for a slogan idea? "Don't buy off the rack. Buy for the rack!"


In other news, I have one more day left on a huge commercial job that has consumed the past two weeks of my working life. My oldest brother Gene came down for Thanksgiving and offered to help us out for a couple of days. My wife has even gotg into the act by helping out the last two days and will be there again tomorrow. Do you get the idea this really is a family business?

The project has been to revamp concrete floors in two locker rooms and the associated saunas and restrooms for a large recreation center. We've been grinding and leveling the floor and then putting a decorative epoxy floor system in. Tomorrow will mark the completion of phase one of our scope of work. I'll be sure to snap some photographs of it in a few weeks when the other trades have completed their work and the project is finished.

We'll be back at the project sometime in January to do a bit more coating around the new swimming pool that is being constructed. We've done larger jobs as far as square footage is concerned, but this one marks the largest contract yet. That's due to the logistical issues we've had to overcome and the intricate nature of the coating itself.

I am really looking forward to a day off and sleeping in past five a.m. Yes, my pillow and I are going to get reacquainted with one another very soon!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Good Times

This past Monday night Anthony and I had an opportunity to do something really fun. We got to go to a Portland Trailblazers, basketball game. (insert shouts and hollers here)

Now I am not personally a big fan of the game. Heck, I'm not even a little fan of the game really, but considering it was time spent with my boy and the tickets were free, I was a fan for a night.

About two weeks ago I received a call from my sales rep where I get my flooring supplies thanking me for placing a rather large order. In addition to his thanks, he also said there was an envelope at the store with my name on it. In it were two tickets to the game against the Blazers and the Chicago Bulls, a parking pass and two passes to the Lexus Club. Way cool!!!

So Monday rolls around and Anthony was anxiously waiting for me to finish work. I knocked off a bit early and made it home by five. A quick shower and we were off to the Rose Garden. (the arena where the Blazers play) We made it up there just ahead of six o'clock, a full hour before tip off. I pulled into the parking garage, whipped out my handy dandy parking pass and we were in.

A couple of minutes later they opened the doors and we walked in to go find our seats. We laughed because when we walked in, we were at gate A7 and our tickets said to enter at A26. Figuring there must be fifty or so gates we started off towards the higher numbers. As we walked and walked and walked some more, we finally made it to A26. Just past it was A1. We really laughed when we realized we had almost completely circled the arena before making it to our gate. Had we have gone the other direction, we would have only had to walk a short distance to get there.

We couldn't believe what great seats we had. First level about twelve rows up from the floor right behind the Blazers bench. Not quite center court, but pretty darned close! (This pic is from our seats. No zooming in) We sat down for a bit and watched as the two teams did some warm-ups on the court.

We then decided to go see what the Lexus Club was all about, so we donned our wrist bands and headed up the steps to go find it. A very nice usher directed us to the escalator across the walkway from us. Once up there we were treated to a complimentary, all you can eat buffet. They had everything from prime rib to hot dogs available. We grabbed a plate full of goodies and a couple of sodas, then went on a quest for a table to sit at. That was a challenge, but we eventually found one. After filling our bellies we headed back to take in the game.

The game itself was a great one to watch. Lots of action and the occasional slam dunk to really get the crowd going. The Bulls took an early lead, but by half time it had evaporated and the Blazers were in command. They would not lose the lead again and would eventually go on to win by a score of 122 to 98.

To me the Blazers could have won by fifty points or lost by the same and it wouldn't have mattered one bit, because the smile on Anthony's face was absolutely priceless! Oh ya, I guess I had one on too.

Good times...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How Pumpkin Pies Are Made

I've never been much of a fan of pumpkin pie before.

Now I think I know why!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Man Vs. Machine

Before I get on with the actual post, let me take a moment to express my heart felt thank you to all who came by to say hi and offer up well wishes for Randy. When I talk with him next I'll be sure to pass them on.

As I was doing some long overdue catching up on various blogs the other day, I came across one in particular that hit my funny bone just right. It was penned by Kelly who writes at Cross Your T's. The post, titled, "How to Fold a Fitted Sheet ... Me vs. Martha!" can be found by clicking here. As you can probably ascertain from the title, it's a great comparison of how a "trained professional" versus the rest of the world folds a fitted sheet. If you've ever wrestled with trying to fold one of those scrunchy cornered monsters you'll enjoy Kelly's take on how to tame one.

Inspired by her post, I thought I'd do something similar with a man's perspective of setting up and programming a DVD/VCR player.


I had Lisa find the User's Guide that came with our DVD/VCR combo we purchased several years ago. (It should be noted here that as a man, I had absolutely no idea where the manual was, let alone if one ever existed in the first place.) Sure enough she came out of her office/craft room within a minute carrying said booklet. Dang that woman is good!

Step 1

According to the manual the first thing you are to do is to connect the DVD/VCR to the TV. "Using an RCA-type audio/video cable (red, white, yellow) connect the line out jacks on the back panel of your DVD/VCR to your TV's line in jacks. Use the three cables as follows: red for right, white for left, and yellow for video."

How a man begins this simple process:

Look for the colored cable thingies that came in the box. Look again when you don't find them the first time through. Ask your wife if she's seen the cables that you're sure were in a small plastic sleeve when you opened the box. When she informs you that there was no such bag, state "I knew we shouldn't have bought this cheap model." and tell her you'll just go up to the store and get a set of cables. Climb into your truck, start it up and realize you are out of gas. Mutter something to yourself like, "Dang it, I should have filled up on my way home last night when the gas light came on." Go to the gas station to fill up then proceed to the local electronics store.

Once at the store, ignore the sales person at the front who asks if he can help you find what you're looking for. Walk past the new 60 inch high definition super deluxe TV's and think about how nice they would look in your living room. Grab a credit application and put it in your back pocket "Just in case". Stop by the video game console and play a game of "Death Shooter Squadron" with a snot nosed little kid who proceeds to kick your butt while rolling his eyes in disgust at how easy it was to defeat the "old man". Mutter under your breath that the kid's parents probably let him spend way too much time playing games and not nearly enough time doing school work, thusly justifying the walloping you just received. Take a gander at a few CD's and then remember you originally came in for a set of connection cables. Find the wall of wires and finally pinpoint the space where there are normally red,white and yellow cable combos. Notice they are currently out of stock on these. Offer up a colorful metaphor just loud enough for the sweet little old lady in the isle next to you to hear. Apologize for your outburst, then realize you distinctly remember having a box of left over wires and cables on the shelf in the garage. Convince yourself that there will be something in there you can use and head back home feeling good that you saved the ridicules price the store wanted for the cables anyway.

Once back home, locate and open the box of wires and cables. Comment on how smart you were for saving all these gems. Upon further searching, discover there are no yellow or white cables, but there are in fact, three black RCA-type cables of various lengths. Grab a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie, then label two of the cables with a "W" and a "Y" respectively. Go into the house, get "the look" from your wife at your handiwork then connect the DVD/VCR to the TV.

Step 2

The manual instructs you to, "Plug in the DVD/VCR to a standard 120/60Hz wall outlet. Avoid pressing any buttons on the remote control or the unit during Auto Setup. While your DVD/VCR is running Auto Setup, "AUTO" will blink on the front display. When the Auto Setup is complete , the current time will be displayed on the front panel."

How a man continues this difficult process:

Pull the cabinet that the TV sits on away from the wall. Locate the DVD you couldn't find three years ago and were subsequently charged for by the rental store for a lost item. Comment on what a dumb movie it was in the first place and how it really frosted your shorts that you had to pay full price for it when it couldn't be found. Hear "OH MY GOD!" come from your wife as she looks at all the dust that's collected since the cabinet was last moved, then wait for her as she insists on vacuuming behind the cabinet before you do anything else.

Once a thorough cleaning and disinfecting has occurred resume the task at hand. Locate the power strip that currently has all available slots in use. Unplug the light for the goldfish tank containing a single goldfish that was won at the county fair four years earlier. Recall spending twenty dollars for your five year old to throw ping pong balls into a jar to win the thirty-nine cent fish. Secretly hope it will somehow kill off that darned fish that otherwise just wont seem to die.

Plug in the DVD/VCR into the now vacant spot. Look at the display and notice that it shows "AUTO" blinking. Immediately grab the remote control and press every combination of buttons imaginable. Become increasingly frustrated that nothing seems to work. Make a comment like, "I can not believe they can't design one of these things that works right." Finally, settle for a series of dashes displayed across the front panel, being resigned to the fact that you will never see the current time displayed on any DVD/VCR ... ever!

Step 3 & 4

According to the manual, you are to turn on the DVD/VCR combo, then do the same with the TV.

How a man continues this ridicules process:

Turn on the TV. Notice that the baseball game is on. Become engrossed with the game and continue to watch it for the next forty-five minutes completely abandoning the DVD/VCR for the time being. When your team loses again for the fifth straight time, comment on what a bunch of overpaid bums they are and resume with the DVD/VCR setup. Turn on the DVD/VCR.

Step 5

The manual instructs you to, "Set the button on the back of the DVD/VCR combo to either 3 or 4. Remember to set the TV to this same number when operating the DVD/VCR. You have now successfully completed the setup of your new DVD/VCR combo. Congratulations!"

How a man completes the impossible process:

Slide the DVD/VCR into place completely ignoring the fact that there is a button on the back to select a viewing channel. Tune the TV to channel 2 and notice there is nothing but snow on the screen accompanied by an obnoxiously loud hissing sound coming from the speakers. Throw your hands in the air and exclaim, "What the *%#@! I did everything just the way it was supposed to be done!" Watch your wife leave the room shaking her head as you continue your tantrum. Mentally run through all the steps you've taken over the past four hours while attempting to program this blinkity blank thing. Pull the cabinet away from the wall again. Check your master electrician style wiring. Determine that Edison couldn't have done it any better. Play with all the buttons on the remote one more time. Unplug and re-plug in both the DVD/VCR and TV, "Just in case". Just before you fling the DVD/VCR across the room, discover the button on the back for selecting channel 3 or 4. Wonder out loud who the idiot was who "changed" the selection from channel two to 3 or 4. Click the button to three, then tune the TV to the same channel. Smile as you see the screen boldly display the DVD/VCR manufactures' icon. Holler out, "Honey, I got it!"

Give a fake, "Ha Ha Ha!" as your wife comes back into the room wearing your son's catchers mask asking, "Is it safe now?" Grab the DVD she hands you to put in. Without looking at the movie, hit the eject button and place the DVD into the open slot. Sit back in your chair, hit the start button and wait for the movie to begin.

Wonder why you ever started this whole process when you realize your wife has selected the lastest chick-flick starring Matthew McConaughey.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Two Very Different Phone Calls


What to talk about.

It's been ages since I've put anything together here, and I wonder who might make it by now. Thank you to those that have/will.

So the other day I called two friends down in California. We are going down there (Calif) this Christmas to spend time with Lisa's mom and brother and I wanted to find out who else might be around to visit during our stay. These two calls could not have been more different. The first was to Liz. She was on top of the world. In a new home, work going well, life seemed to be burning on all cylinders for her. She went on to tell me how she believed God had put her in her current home as a testimony to his grace and goodness. When she unfolded the story of how she came to get the house, I could easily see how Gods hand played a part of it. There were so many elements of the story to simply be chance I thought.

After talking for about a half an hour, catching up with each other, I said goodbye and called another good friend Randy. His wife Mo answered and when I asked how the old man (Randy) was doing, she said, "Well, he's got the big "C"." As I gulped, I timidly asked, "Do you mean cancer?" As much as I was hoping she was going to say no, she unfortunately said that was in fact what it was.


She took the phone out to him and we started catching up with each other. I found out he had just had his first chemotherapy treatment that day. My heart sank. This is a guy only a few years older than me. He should not have to be facing this at his age I thought. Then again, no one should have to face going through cancer. What an ugly disease.

We managed to laugh and enjoy some lighter moments, although we both knew there was this behemoth lurking in the corner. I wanted to find the right words to share with my long time friend, but as I verbalized to him, in that situation, there just don't seem to be any to find. We both understood and told each other we loved one another.

Even as I type these words, my eyes are heavy with tears welling up behind them.

In the past few days I've been going through what I would assume is the natural questioning. Why can some of us be so up while others are in such a bad way? Why does a God who claims to be so full of grace allow such things as cancer to exist?

Why? Why? Why?

Many more questions have come to mind while some answers have managed to surface.

My faith is still in tact, but I've been consumed with many questions that seem to lay dormant until something like this happens.

I know we all come from different beliefs so I will ask for prayers, positive thoughts, well wishes or whatever might be offered for my friend. They are all appreciated.

Be well all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Broken Record

It seems like all of my far and few between posts lately have the same theme. . . I'M BUSY!

Dang, I feel like a broken record.

I started the comment story a couple of weeks ago and have only managed to eek out about a page so far. Partly because all those wild comments are kicking my butt, but mostly because I just can't seem to find the time to sit down for more than a few minutes at any stretch. One of these days I suppose I'll get to it. In the mean time I have to remind myself, "Guilt free blogging Jeff."

In other news, my older (much, much older) brother Gene is going to be a Grandfather. Wow does it feel weird typing that! His oldest daughter Steffani and her Husband Josh are expecting the new arrival in late May. I believe the official due date is the twenty-fifth. This will make me a great uncle. I have of course, always been one, but now I'll have the lofty title to prove it. Bwahahahaha

Good grief, I can't believe she is having a baby. I still remember her being a little girl playing with Barbies and such. Dang, these kids grow up fast don't they? Now she's a young woman preparing for parenthood herself. Congrats my dear!

More to follow when life settles a bit for me. Until then, Ciao

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coming Soon

Sorry all, life has been busier than I expected and I haven't put the story together I promised you. I actually just started working on it this evening finally, but it's not finished yet. I hope to have it done soon.

Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Looking For Some Input Please

Poking my head up out of the sand that is work to say hello. . . Hello!

My brother Mark is on vacation this week and next, so I'm doing double duty right now.

One of these fine feathered days I'll put up some photos of a few of the floors I've been doing lately. Some pretty cool stuff if I do say so myself.

Lisa, the boys and I are headed back to the coast this weekend for a late season camping trip. Should be a lot of fun. It's supposed to be sunny and mild temperature wise, which is always a plus.

I've been wanting to write another story, but in between being swamped with work and inspiration running low lately, I keep coming up blank. So here's where you all come in.

I'd like you to leave a short sentence or phrase in the comments and I will attempt to string them all together into a (coherent?) story. No rules.


1. How many hot links did you eat anyway?

2. Seventeen years of blissful marriage.

3. Water on the knee

Make sense? Leave a couple if you're so inclined.

I did this a long time ago and it was a blast trying to tie everything together. I'll let you come up with your best material and when I get back Sunday night, I'll see what I have to work with.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Relaxing at the Coast

All this work lately and no play was making Jeffy a dull boy, so this Saturday I suggested we head out to the coast for the day. Our destination would be the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport; A two and a half hour drive away.

The trip out there was pretty uneventful. Just the usual "How much longer?" and "Are we there yets?" from the back seat, along with a few more "Stop picking on your brother." and "We'll eat later." comments from the front seat and we were there.

As we headed through the exhibits one of the first things to catch our attention were these jelly fish. Completely mesmerizing .

Around the corner from the jellies, we found couple of "touch tanks". There were several star fish, anemones, crabs, abalone, various icky-slimy-sticky things, rays, and even some small sharks. Want to guess which ones the boys liked the best? Yep, you are right. Matt spent the better part of the day telling anyone who would listen, "I touched a shark!"

We found this very colorful tank. It just screamed, "Take a photo of me." I obliged.

A school of hundreds of silver fish (ya, that's the Latin name for them I'm sure)

A little bit further along the path and we came to this strange looking fish. Very prized and loved by all. It was none other than the Matt Fish!
There was a "bubble" in the bottom of that particular aquarium where the kids could crawl under and poke their head up into.

Another favorite (yes that's an oxymoron) were the series of tanks where you walked through tubes and the fish swam all around. Once again, the one that had sharks in it was the clear cut winner. I took several pictures, but none of them turned out great. This was about the best I could come up with. Definitely a "you had to be there to truly appreciate it" thing, but I wanted to share it with you anyway. The squarish shadow near the top-center was a large Manta Ray.

After about three hours there and exploring every nook and cranny of the aquarium we decided it was time to get a bite to eat. I wanted fish and chips, but after viewing all their brothers and sisters earlier, I opted to go to the Sizzler and have Malibu Chicken and a salad bar. I should have gone with my first choice.

One the drive into town we noticed a lighthouse and since there was plenty of day left, we decided to go check it out. What we didn't realize was that there are actually two lighthouses in Newport. One on the north end of town and, as you might expect, one on the south. The first one we went to was the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. Built in the early 1870's it was only in use for three years. This one might look a bit different from other lighthouses you've seen, because it isn't a stand alone tower. It's a house with the light on the top of it. It also has a bit of ooky-spooky lore to it too. It's rumored that a visitor to it mysteriously disappeared leaving no trace except for a pool of warm blood on the floor. True or not? Who knows, but it does make for a good ghost story none-the-less.

The other lighthouse is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. More of the traditional style. Cool thing about this one is that you can walk up the 114 steps to the top. Round and round we went, all the way up.

Did you notice the sky in those two shots? Even though they are only about four miles apart, one was sunny and warm, while the other was several degrees cooler with coulds/fog around it.

This picture is of the stairwell in the first one. I loved this unique shot of the boys.
Click here if you want to see the lighthouse(s) website. Some very cool photos there. Much better than my point and shoot camera these were taken with.

We were all pretty tired by the time we got home, but it was well worth it.

It was a great day filled with plenty of priceless memories.

OK, one last pic. Waves crashing over the rocks. This particular rock was about 25-30 feet tall, so in person these splahes were quite impressive.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Did You Hear?

Hey, did you all hear about the dyslexic atheist who got excited about this past Wednesday being 9/9/09?

It is rumored that after realizing his error, he looked to the heavens and shouted,

Monday, September 7, 2009

Oh ya, I have a blog

Well then, it certainly has been a while since I've penned any words here. Just about as long since I've come by any of your blogs either. To say I've been busy lately would be a gross understatement. After a slow start to this season's work load, the past two months have been nearly non stop. The good news is, it isn't showing any signs of slowing down in the near future.

Outside of working like a dog, I've had a bunch of fun with the family as well. Most recently was an outing to the state fair. We hadn't gone to any fairs for at least three years, so this was an especially nice treat. Perhaps a full post later to highlight the doings of the day will follow.

Lisa and the boys spent a week down in California visiting with her mother and brother while I stayed home. A bachelor for a week I was! Now before you start letting your mind run wild with all the things I did during my week of "no rules", relax. I worked every day they were gone and was generally asleep by 9 or 10 each night. Wow, do I know how to live it up or what?

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the school year for Anthony and Matthew. Excitement and apprehension have been running simultaneously through their systems the past couple of days as they get ready for the big day. As good of kids as they are, I'm pretty sure Lisa is looking forward to a bit of a break.

Not a very long or cohesive post I realize, but I wanted to at least let you know I'm still alive and kicking. I'll post again soon, and try my best to get by to catch up with you all too.

Until then, thanks for dropping by and be well.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Extended Break

It seems that summertime activities have taken the place of blogging for me lately. See ya when I see ya.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Heat is On

Our seven day forecast

Summer has officially arrived here in the Pacific Northwest. Long gone are the endless days of rain and drizzle, but don't worry, they will be back again. It is after all, Oregon. In fact the weather prognosticators are even calling for a day with a chance of the icky stuff early next week. Until then it's time to make some iced tea and get ready for the heat.

I know my buddy Ron from Vent will read this and the temps for the next few days will have no appealing value to him at all. He's one of those sickos who's idea of good weather is about fifty degrees and rain. You are a warped puppy my friend.

Then again, there is Songbird from The Ice Box who will look at our predicted high temps and laugh, knowing they are nothing more than a warm spring day in the desert she calls home. I know that because when I lived in Indio, Ca (near Palm Springs) we would call anyone who thought 90 degrees was hot, sissies.

Personally, my idea of just right is 75 with a slight salt air breeze. I believe this is otherwise known as San Diego.

So what kind of weather floats your boat?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Time to Split

It has been a busy couple of weeks around here. Work has picked up significantly and believe me, that is a wonderful thing. Can't believe it's been a couple of weeks since I posted last.

Take a look at this first picture. It's from my back yard. Notice those two large Maple trees just beyond the back fence? Aren't they beautiful? At about 40-50 feet tall the afternoon shade the dark green leaves on long branches provided were always welcome.

You probably noticed the past tense I just used. That's because those two trees are no more. Our local electric company is getting ready to string additional wires on the giant towers that are off in the distance and these trees were within the path of the new lines. That meant they had to come down last week.

If you take a look at the next picture you will see what it looks like now. Still pretty, but a whole lot brighter now.

I will say that even though I wasn't thrilled by the loss of the trees, it will certainly make growing a garden a much better possibility. With as much shade as there was, having a vegetable garden wasn't much of an option before.

This is a "glass half full" way of looking at it.

The crew that came out to do the tree removal were really nice guys. When they showed up the first day, I asked them if was possible to cut the large rounds into sixteen inch sections. The foreman said he wasn't sure, but would think about it. When I got home from work later in the afternoon, I went out into the back yard and saw some very tired workers as well as a pile of sixteen inch tree parts! I offered to fill up their water jug and thanked them for cutting the trees into sections. They were almost as happy to have the ice water as I was to have the wood.

Over the next couple of evenings I loaded my truck with the wood and took it over to moms. Then, on Sunday Lisa, the boys and I rented a splitter and proceeded to make a massive pile of firewood for mom. (and some for camping too)

If you've ever split firewood by hand, and I have, let me tell you, renting a splitter is worth every penny! Actually, I should say it was worth every one of mom's pennies, because she actually paid for it. Bless you mom!

When the day was done and the sore mussels were counted, I would estimate that there was somewhere in the neighborhood of two and a half cords of firewood. (A cord is measured at 4x4x8 feet)

Let me say that my family is awesome! They stuck it out with me for the majority of the day helping stack some of the wood and running the handle for the hydraulic splitter. About three quarters of the way through the pile, my brother Mark showed up and helped me finish. Yahoooo! That was right on time, because by that time my arms were about to fall off from lifting all those rounds.

When winter rolls around I plan on going over to moms and sitting beside the nice warm fire.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Behind the Wheel

Haven't done one of these types of posts for a while.

Things you don't want to hear at a driving test:

1. OK, next I'd like you to parallel park, Up ahead, there, between that Lexus and the Mercedes.

2. Congratulations Mr Johnson, your teenage son/daughter just passed their test.

3. no, No, NO!!!

4. I've never actually had a driver get a car up on two wheels before.

5. Have you ever considered the benefits of public transportation?

6. Are you by any chance part of the Andretti family?

7. No, that wasn't a speed bump.

8. Are you sure you shouldn't be wearing glasses.

9. Not even that amount of cash is going to help your score.

10. Wow, most people stop the car outside the building.

11. Thirty-two years in the DMV and that's the first time I've ever seen that move.

12. Didn't your brother try this earlier this year? Oh yeah, he didn't pass either.

Feel free to add any others that come to mind in the comments section.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Our Anniversary

The calendar has reached June 13th, which means Lisa and I are celebrating the seventeenth anniversary of our wedding day.

Much has changed in our lives over the years.

We have two children, and if you're a parent, then you know that changes your life on a daily basis.

We live in a different state. We were both born and raised in California, but have taken up residence in Oregon for about eight years now.

We have each discovered hairs that have changed color from their original shade. (me, much more so than her!)

We have had our share of disagreements over the years. Some of them rather heated, but none of them that lasted any length of time.

We have regrettably had to say goodbye to each of our fathers as well as other family members and even a couple of friends along the way.

One of the things that has not changed over the years, is that we are friends. Before we ever went out on a date we had developed a friendship, and that has continued throughout our marriage.

We have learned the true meaning of our wedding vows: For richer or poorer, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

We've never been monetarily wealthy, nor have we been destitute, but we have seen glimpses of each and remained true to each other in both.

We've had our "for better" times and other times that would qualify for "worse". With a spirit of love and understanding, we made it through each of them with a renewed sense of respect and love for each other.

We've experienced periods of good health and our share of sicknesses along the way. It's true that you gain a real understanding of another person when they are under the weather. Through various illnesses that life has thrown at us, we've learned to care for one another deeply.

The last part of our vows, till death do us part, fortunately has not come, but I do believe I've heard on more than one occasion, "Over my dead body!"

We've experience many things in 17 years of marriage and no doubt will have many more things to look back at in the years to come. More happiness, more memories, more times of worry, more times of great joy, more. . . life. Each of these things we will be able to enjoy or endure, as the case may be, because we will have each other.

So to my wife, my lover, my best friend, my companion, my soul mate. . . I love you. I love you now as I have loved you all of the years we've been together.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where There's Smoke . . .

Where there's smoke . . . there's usually an entrance to a shop of some kind.

Now if you are a smoker try not to get your shorts into a bunch by the following post. I will be quick to say that this is not designed to be all inclusive of all smokers. Just as it would be ridiculous to say that a few people in any given group represent the entire body.

OK, now that that little disclaimer is out of the way, on with the rant.

In Oregon smoking is prohibited in just about every public building, and the law further goes on to say that there will be no smoking allowed within ten feet of an entrance (door). Being a non-smoker I obviously have no problem with this. I personally could care less if smoking were banned everywhere outside of ones home. What I do have a problem with is that at nearly every doorway now, some ten feet and one inch away sit or stand a group of displaced smokers puffing away. In order to get through the door I must navigate my way through a thick cloud of nicotine infused air.

The other thing that irritates the crap out of me are all of the inconsiderate pigs that insist on making the patios and sidewalks their own ashtrays. Why is it so hard to actually put the cigarette butt in an ashtray or sand filled container? It tends to look like a sty outside the doorways. Little yellow and white butts everywhere and black marks from stepping on a discarded smoke are more and more common. "People, the world is not your personal toilet, please stop shitting on it at every given opportunity!"

While I'm on the subject, my same lack of love is extended to any of the oink masters that can't use the ashtray in their own cars to discard the end of their cancer sticks. Why do they insist on throwing them carelessly out onto the road? Is it because they are "just a little thing"? BS I say. It is littering plain and simple.

If you are a smoker you may be saying, "Yeah, but we have rights." I'm not disputing that at all. Yes, you do have the right to smoke cigarettes and I'm sure you are more than irritated that your legal areas to do so are shrinking. What my real gripe is, is nothing more than being considerate to those around you.

That being said, I realize I'm biased. I hate cigarettes. I think they are nasty. I think they have the ability to turn the most gorgeous woman into the ugliest one just by seeing her take a drag from one. They have the ability to kill more than four-hundred thousand people every year. They have the ability to grab a hold of people of all ages and never let them go. I see nothing remotely sexy about them, nor do I think they make anyone look cool.

Time to check your shorts. Are they wrinkled and bunched? Let me reiterate, if you're a smoker I do not hate you. I hate that foul, lit smog machine hanging from your face, nothing more

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Camping time is upon us and as promised, here are some photos of our most recent outings.

This first one is of our pop-up tent trailer. After traversing the sides of numerous mountains and sleeping in tents on the cold hard ground, this is my new idea of ruffing it. We love this fun little trailer. It has beds that pop out on either end and a slide out on the back side where the "dining" table is. It makes for pretty decent room inside when it's set up, but is relatively compact when its folded down and is very easy to tow.

These first few photos are from two weeks ago when all four of us went out to the coast (Pacific City, OR) There's a nice RV campground right across the road from the beach. This spot makes a regular appearance on our schedule each year.

The fog kept pretty close to the coast line all weekend. Occasionally it would afford some nice shots like this one, of the monolith just off shore .

Along the north side of the cove there are a number of rocks that are rich with tide pools. Plenty of anemone, crabs, mussels, and other goodies to look at. At low tide we were treated to a whole host of exploration opportunities.

After we checked out the tide pools, we headed back down the beach and came upon a very strange sight. There in the middle of the sand were two giant footprints! I think they must have been left by Gulliver. Check them out for yourselves.

This past weekend was the guys camping trip. I had sandwiches made and as soon as the boys got out of school on Friday we had a quick bite and were on the road. Our destination was Fort Stevens State Park. We had about a two and a half hour drive and spent the whole time talking and laughing and carrying on. Yes, this was going to be a good trip.

Heading west along Hwy 26 through the coast range, there is this cool tunnel through the mountainside. As the boys closed their eyes, held their breath and raised their feet, it reminded me that not only are tunnels beautiful to look at, they are equally as fun to drive through. A reminder from the boys; Let go and enjoy. Thank you guys.

We got to the camp site around five o'clock and started unpacking. Anthony and Matt both eagerly helped set up the camper and then wanted to hop on their bikes to check out the surroundings. While they were familiarizing themselves with the area, I finished setting up and then got dinner going. My only guidelines for meal selection are as follows: It should be easy to prepare and the use of paper plates & plastic-ware whenever possible is a must. Night number one's menu consisted of pulled pork sandwiches (Cooked the meat on Thursday so I just had to re-heat it) and a small green salad. Now, just in case you were ready to stand up and applaud me for including something as healthy as a salad, don't worry, we did have double chocolate brownies for dessert. Yum-O!

It was kind of cold that night and was drizzly/foggy outside, so we opted to forgo the campfire and hang out inside for the rest of the evening. I taught Matthew and re-taught Anthony how to play cribbage. It brought me back to when I was a kid and learned how to play this card game from my dad, most likely on a camping trip somewhere.

After playing cards, we read about several of the shipwrecks that had happened in the area where we were. According the the pamphlet we had, since 1792, approximately 2000 ships had sunk trying to enter the Columbia River from the Pacific, earning it the ominous name of the "Graveyard of the Pacific".

The shipwreck we were most interested in was the Peter Iredale, a British sailing ship that ran aground on October 25, 1906. Fortunately no one died, but I'd be willing to bet the captain wanted to when he had to report back to England what had happened. The thing that makes this wreck so interesting is that a large section of the rusted metal bow still protrudes from the sand just at the surf line so that when the tide is right, you can walk right up to it. When we made it out to it the next afternoon the water was only about ankle deep around it so we were able to get right up close and check it out. It's kind of cool to see the skeleton that has been stuck in the sand and exposed to the elements for over a hundred years, but still stands at least twenty feet out of the water. We broke out our best "Arrrgh, skarve ye navies..." as we took in the sights.

Saturday morning brought with it cool temps, clearing skies and two hungry boys. While sitting at the table enjoying a hearty meal of hash browns, sausages and scrambled eggs, Matthew exclaimed, "This is a man's breakfast, and we're eating it cause we're men!" Coming from his eighty pound, nine year old body, it gave me a pretty good chuckle. I did manage to contain this chuckle to my inside though. After all this had been dubbed the guy's camping trip and I wasn't going to squash his enthusiasm.

With full stomachs and a spirit of adventure we hopped on our bicycles and headed off to explore. The trails through the park are really nice. They are all paved and meander through the trees, shrubs, wild huckleberries with just enough down hill runs to compliment the up hill spots.

Our first stop was at The Battery Russell. It served as the fort's southern lookout and gun placement. The concrete structures are all still there and provided for plenty of investigation for the the three of us. After giving the area a thorough going over it was back on the bikes and off to the main part of the fort a couple miles to the north.

We discovered a really beautiful wetland area in route with lush grasses and a lazy creek running through it. The boys enjoyed riding over the big wooden bridge most, but still managed to take a few moments to take in the scenery with me.

A little while later we were at the north end of the fort. We spent the next couple of hours checking out all the batteries, trucks, cannons/guns and other things. The boys found a jeep to jump in and offer up a salute.

All totaled, we figured we rode about twelve miles up and back and walked a couple more in the process of looking at things. By the time we got back to the camper everyone was a bit tired and you guessed it, hungry. I wonder, is there ever a time when boys are not hungry?

After a brief nap and lunch we went out to the beach to check out the ship wreck I told you about earlier. Later that night we made a big campfire and sat around it talking while the boys roasted marshmallows and turned them into smores. (graham crackers with roasted marshmallows and chocolate squished in between them.)

The campground emptied out pretty early on Sunday morning as they normally do. Most people were headed back to work or back to school. We had both of those things on our agenda as well, but we opted for a more leisurely approach. We gathered up a few things in the morning then went for another short bike ride to the nearby lake. We were having way too much fun to rush going home. Unfortunately, check-out time at the park is 1:00pm, so at 12:59 we fastened the last clip on the trailer and headed out.

On the way home we stopped at a place called Camp 18. It's a restaurant, but has several old rail cars and pieces of logging equipment out front to check out. We didn't eat there this time. (already had lunch back at camp), but figured we'd give it a try next time through. This is one of those spots along the road that is not where you intend on going and can easily be driven past in an effort to get to your destination. Such had been the case on other trips, but I decided I wasn't going to pass it up again and wonder what it was like. We ended up spending about a half an hour looking at all the neat things they had. I've already made a mental note to do this type of thing more often; stop and smell the roses, as it were.

Well, there you have it. A little taste of camping with us. Not sure where we're heading off to next time, but I'm sure it'l be a fun time.