Tuesday, March 31, 2009


As I grew up in that small town of Gilchrist, my mom had an incredible influence on my life.

She taught me love and caring. When you were down, it was her hand on your back telling you that it was OK. She didn't want you to dwell on it and expected you to pick yourself up but you knew she understood.

She taught me how to respect. Harsh words for others were not a part of her vocabulary. If you got out of line, she patiently brought you back in. I have talked about that one in an earlier post.

She taught me discipline. Boy, she had a handle on that one. That little lady controlled three boys that were within three years on one another. With her feet firmly set, you did your chores or you dealt with her and you didn't want the latter.

She taught me that being you was an OK thing to be. I remember her giving me the book, "I'm OK, your OK". She knew at the time that I was struggling with who I was.

My earliest remembrance was being in a room with her as she sang and hummed while ironing some clothes. I remember feeling very warm and comfortable.

She was always at my concerts or plays. I would always know that she was out there somewhere in the audience.

I remember her laughing at three silly boys who seemed to always be fighting with each other over something. She didn't protect me there, however, as she wanted me to be tough and stand up for myself. That was most evident when I defended myself against my brother Marvin. Marvin held me down with his head bleeding on me. I yelled for her and she said, "Well, you shouldn't have hit him over the head with that fry pan."

I remember her laughing as I walked up to the house with my brothers and David Nelson with that red and white wobble right hanging out of the side of my head. I was swimming and David wanted to fish. She later had another laugh when I hooked the back of my head while trying to cast out.

I remember when she came to my rescue when I was using the old washing machine that had the ringer that was two rollers that squeezed the water out of the clothes. I caught my hand in it and it began to grab my arm. She quickly hit the button that released the rollers.

I remember when we had that huge storm while living down in Crescent. We all huddled in the middle of the living room while she prayed. While the storm raged outside, I was comforted by her prayers.

I remember her keeping all of us kids entertained in sleepy downtown Bend while our father was busy with just a simple little ping pong ball placed on a sidewalk. We watched to see what people who walked by would do with it.

I remember that she loved to sing. She loved and still does love Hawaiian music.

There are so many things that I remember that if I tried to put them all down, I would still be writing at the end of the day and that would not be good because there is one my very important thing that I remember. I remember that today is her birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Break

It could not have come at a better time. I spent allot of Thursday laying down. I felt like I had hit that wall that we all hit from time to time. My own diagnosis was working to much....spending to many hours trying to make sure that things were as they should be, especially in these present day economic times. I constantly remind myself that my location is pretty much the worst location in town so it is of the up most importance that we do not let our guard down on anything. To survive, you must be a destination not just a brightly lit building on the side of the road (of which we are neither).

So, early on Friday morning, Judy, Trin, Jayden, and I jumped in Trin's car and headed south. Our destination was the Wild Animal Park down past Roseburg. We drove down to the Crater Lake junction and took the road around Diamond Lake. The road was a very pretty drive but extremely windy and Jay had to roll down his window a couple of times as he started to feel it in the back seat. We took our little dog, Mia, for her first drive and she seemed to really enjoy it resting on Judy's lap for most of the trip.

We arrived at Winston just after Eleven and stopped at the local Subway for a quick bite before going into the park. A line of cars seemed to follow us into the parking lot and Judy quickly jumped out and went into the store, putting our group at the head of the line. A small field across from the store brought relief for Mia and I had to go through quite a crowd just to get into the door. Judy already had our sandwiches going and being the restaurateur that I am, I was putting the numbers together as I watched the employee make my foot long. I know that the promotion is to get numbers into the store and to keep the piece of the fast food pie but they were not panning out in my mind. Lets see, six ounces of chicken breast, a foot long special bun, olives, banana peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and a very expensive dressing for the condiment. I had the food cost pushing half of the price and then taking around five minutes to make at $12 an hour after you take in the payroll plus the taxes and work comp. Now, you add in the wrap, bag, drink cups (we drank water), and an average of the costs to keep the building going (Lease, utilities, upkeep, maintanance, and disposal) and I was sure that they were paying me to just take that food away. Anyway, I guess that was their problem, I was suppose to be taking a break.

We drove into the park and saw the signs that said, "Absolutely, no pets in the park.". We reluctantly took Mia to the kennels at the front of the area. A sign told us that we needed to purchase a lock at the park entrance. I carried Mia to what looked like a ticket booth at the entrance to their mini zoo. No one was there but many stares came my way as I dared to bring a pet into the park against the regulations. We walked down to the entrance where the cars went in and managed to get the attention of one of the people there who sold us a lock. If you ever end up going to the park with your pet, bring your own lock, it is much cheaper.

We then drove into the park on what ended up being the perfect day. Probably the warmest and driest of the week, many of the spring breakers seemed to have the same idea as us and we found ourselves in a long line of cars that slowly crawled through the park all wanting to get the best vantage point to see the various zoo type animals all roaming free within their prospective environments. The funny thing was once you got to that perfect point to see the animals they had moved or you felt the pressure from the cars behind you to get their turn to get that just right perfect spot. One difference that we noted from previous visits was that you can now go through the entire park with your windows rolled down. I noticed many kids sitting on the window sills of their cars or standing up in the open tops. The lions and tigers are now behind fences and the Grizzly bears are behind an electric fence. The electric fence works the best for picture taking but I could not get the visions of Jurrasic Park out of my mind and wonder what would happen if you were feet away from one of those huge beasts when the power went out in the park.

We came upon the Elephant car wash and watched as a rather large elephant sprayed a van with water and than ran a sponge across the side of it. It wasn't what they showed on the news where they had elephants on both side of the news rig. There was just one elephant and he was on the opposite side of the car so the various moving rigs were jockeying to get the best spot to either take pictures or video. With the entrance cost over $15 a person, we had decided that we didn't want to spend the additional twenty to get our car sprayed by the big behemoth.

After our first run through the park, we stopped and went inside the mini zoo. It was very interesting and I noted that one could come to the park and actually go into their zoo for free. I wondered how many locals did that from time to time. Judy spent most of her time taking pictures of the pink flamingos and she let Trin and Jay ride on a camel before we left and went back to our car for the second time through the park. Judy seemed to be a little on the rushed side and I could only take that to mean that she was worried about her little dog who was locked up in that large box with all of those bigger barking dogs that were locked up in their big boxes.

We decided to go through the park a little faster this time as we knew that places that we wanted to go. The park had a speed limit of ten miles per hour and we got a few stares as we passed others up in their lines as they waited to get to that just perfect spot to take that just right picture. The lions, bears, elephants, and tigers were our destinations but we still had to wait from time to time as other cars in front of us stopped in the middle of the road or waited in line to go through various fences. We stopped for a passing emu who seemed to take an interest in our car. Judy had her window down an inch or so and the emu went into attack mode. As Judy videoed the bird, I hit the down button on her window raising a shriek from her and laughs from the back seat.

Arriving back at the entrance, Judy and the kids jumped out of the car and went quickly over to the cage holding the animal that Judy enjoyed the most, Mia. Mia, in turn, seemed very happy to see her and we began our journey back to Bend. We took the freeway up to Eugene, stopping in Rice Hill for a snack along the way. Rice Hill used to be a major destination truck stop like Jake's back in the day and is now a large corporate Pilot stop. As I looked around a little, Trin asked me if I missed the old truck stop days. Yes, I miss some of my old trucker friends but am happy where I am at.

We took the Willamette pass coming back as it is more scenic and made one more stop in Oakridge before the last long ride. All in all, we spent two and a half hours in the park much of that time in the car and seven and a half hours riding to and from the park. We arrived back in Bend, happy to be out of the car but refreshed from a day away.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


This has to go back to when I first started with Jake's. I had been unemployed for some three months after a short stint at Kmart as a temp over the Christmas season. Back then, there was only a short line of jobs in the paper and I was hitting the street daily determined to get one of them. Anything would do since I had my small family of four to take care of.

I had been to Jake's and interviewed with Kim sometime in January and something must have impressed him (maybe it was my powder blue suit, not sure). Anyway, two months later, he called me back in for a second interview. It was funny since I had been called by Frito Lay the same day for an interview later in the day.

As I talked with Kim, I told him about the other interview and he returned that he would think about me and that I should go to the other interview. I left dejected since I felt that I fit there. I called him right back shortly there after and told him that I wanted to work at Jake's. I would do anything he wanted, clean toilets....whatever it took. All I wanted was to go to college on my GI bill. While at college, he would have a dedicated employee. Kim thought about it for a second and then told me to come in that afternoon to start. I was to be the second person on swing shift pumping fuel.

Those early days as a pump jockey will be ones that I won't forget. I remember running in to an old girlfriend from school who was driving through with her new husband who had some fancy job. Although she seemed happy to see me there also seemed to be some looking down also or at least it felt that way. Another time, while fueling a cattle hauler, I laughed as my partner got peed on while bumping the tires. I told him that I would finish the job as he went up to take a shower. I found out that lightning can strike twice in the same place as I found myself next to him in the other shower shortly after finishing off the truck.

About three months into the job, I was called in and asked if I wanted to go to work in their office. I was studying accounting at the time and it was a great opportunity to practise what I was learning and jumped at the opportunity. A few months later, I voluntarily purchased some things to help develop our store and shortly thereafter, Kim asked me if I would be interested in purchasing for the restaurant. It was a job that both he and the office manager did not care for and since I was doing such a good job in the store, they were willing to give me a chance there.

I jumped at the challenge. They were buying most everything from one supplier out of Portland called Continental foods. I began looking at our local cash and carry pricing and then ran across another big supplier by the name of Pacific Fruit. Pacific Fruits pricing for many of the items that we needed were far superior to Continentals and I began purchasing some items from them. This drew anger from the Continental salesman. After all, he had been serving us for quite some time and had given us his best, why would we consider anyone else. I calmly told him that he would need to sharpen his pencil a little as someone else was offering the same thing for a better price. He then challenged Kim who quickly told him that he would have to deal with me. Upon returning to me, he threatened to pull out. I told him that I hoped he didn't but would understand if my business was not worth his while. He left for a couple of weeks and then returned with an apology. I gladly brought him back as for me, it was not about ego but about saving the company money.

Slowly, Continental began buying back various products until he and Pacific Fruit were about even in what they were selling us. Over the years, I have strived to keep that same relationship between the two companies that have now been bought out by much larger ones and are called Sysco Foods and Food Services of America.

I remember a restaurant owner who had a restaurant in the building that now houses Pizza Hut. He came down to school this young upstart in the fine art of purchasing. I wondered if he was sent by Sysco but listened as he told me that I was foolish for working so hard. "I can get you corporate pricing.", he said. "You are beating your head against the wall for mere pennies and if you don't watch out, you will offend one of the companies who will leave and then the other will just up their price once they have you.". I politely thanked him for his time and a couple of years later, when his restaurant went under, Kim and I were there at the auction where we purchased such things as the refrigerated cashier station that I now use. I went into his office area to look over cabinets and found that he still had all his purchasing files. I asked the auctioneer if I might have some of his invoices and he gladly allowed it. Ten years later, I was still buying things cheaper than he was before he closed.

Fast forward to the present and both of these companies still sell me the major part of the foods that I buy. Local meat and produce companies have tried from time to time to sell me things and I have always obliged them and none have ever been able to come close to the two large companies prices. That is until now.

It started with a meat company named Childers from Eugene. The prices and the quality of product that he offered suddenly was bringing him into the fray. I at first thought that he was low balling his prices (a sometimes common occurrence where they give you great prices and then sneak them up later). I called the salesman in and gave him my speech of how a previous produce salesman had used that tactic and even now, I will not even entertain their prices. He assured me that his pricing was sound and that he wouldn't mind staying in touch with me on them on a regular basis.

Shortly there after, Aloha Produce showed up and the same thing seemed to happen. With superior product and prices, they have now taken that part of the product away from the big two.

Both of the big guys seemed to be concerned after losing half of their product that they sold me and the longer they go without competing, the harder it will be to take them back from the locals who can give much better service and surprising better quality.

I love our new meats that are leaner and give us more steaks per pound. And the produce that is fresher and crisper. The only thing that I can figure is that the big guys thought that they could make more money off of us by sliding up the price on things that they felt they had a lock on. There just does not seem to be any other explanation especially since I have seen a increase from year to year in my food percentages.

There are two percentages that can make or break a restaurant. Together they are called the 'prime costs'. One is food cost and the other is payroll. For a restaurant to survive, they must control both to a level that the rest of the costs can be covered with the remaining percentages.

Now, it will be interesting to see just what the big boys do to try and get the business back. It is just an interesting part of the business that most don't realize when they come in and sit down. And one of the larger parts of the many variables of running a restaurant business.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Old Time Rock and Roll

I walked into the cashier station today that Trinity was manning. She had the radio up a little too high for me playing some sort of rap music. I turned it down and she asked why. "I don't think our customers want to listen to rap.", I said. She told me that she had had it on all day and no one seemed to be bothered.

There were three ladies standing at the counter at the time. All of them looked to be in their seventies to eighties. I asked the one closest to me if she cared much for rap music. "What did you say?", she asked. "Do you like rap music?", I returned. "No!", she stated somewhat annoyed. "Heck no, I listen to Led Zepplin!".

Go Grannie Go!

Monday, March 16, 2009

One...er Two busy days

Friday started off early. Jimmy and I had a small cater job. After Jimmy's wake up call, I jumped into my clothes, pulled up to the back door and left my van running so as to keep it warm for the food. We delivered the food and I went back home for a quick shower before starting the day.

The morning was quite brisk and as usual, went by a little too fast making much of my stuff on my desk pushed over to the left for later. I made a mental note to myself to go through that stack of stuff before the weekend was over just so that nothing would get forgotten.

Somewhere around noon, Judy and I left to handle the bank and pick up the equipment from the morning cater job. Upon return, Judy put in a lunch order for us and my buddy, Frank stopped by to talk stocks with me. He is dabbling in the stock market and I am finding what he is doing very interesting. It is not like the normal stock trading that I have always been killed every time I try it (Bought Bank of Cascade stock at what was lowest price to find out that it can go much lower). He has actually made money in his latest purchases and his system intrigues but I am a very cautious investor and am not sure if I would ever try what he is doing. Whatever it is, however, has to be much better than what our IRA has done. I quit feeding mine early last year and have watched as it's value has crashed much as so many others have.

Frank joined us for lunch and around three reminded me in front of Judy if we were still going to the boxing match that evening. We were to meet at Jake's at five. I turned to Judy and smiled and she gave me a wink and a couple of 'women words' that she had read from an email that one of our customers had given her earlier. The email was of words that women said and their true meaning. You know things like 'fine' which means 'just shut up' and 'whatever' which means 'don't argue with me or our argument will finish with the word fine'.

Judy and I went home for a little quality time with our toy Pomeranian who was hurting after just getting fixed and having her baby teeth pulled. She does not quite understand why she hurts every time she tries to run as she always used to. She will take a couple of quick steps and then freeze. It has been kind of nice, however, as it has made her more settled for a day or so and very much a lap dog as she wants to be with us just like a hurting little child.

Jay called around four thirty and I asked him if he wanted to go to the boxing with me. A very quick, 'Sure' was followed up with a quick request to his mom who also agreed. I picked him up and arrived at the diner just in time to take off with the other three in our party.

A long but fun night finished of with arriving back at the house around midnight. I know I was tired as I slept through the night without awakening. Early on Saturday, I arrived at the diner and checked my emails. I had received one from a local person who told me that she read my blog and encouraged me to continue to write. It really started my day off well and I quickly replied to her email and thanked her for making my day.

Jay's last basketball game started at nine and I showed up just at the end of the first quarter. I stepped in just in time to watch Jay steal the ball and bring it back down the court for a lay up. Fist thrown up into the air, I yelled, "Yes". Frank joined me shortly there after. We are considering joining forces next year to coach his team and I wanted him to see Jay play. Jay did not let me down as he soon crossed over behind his back and shot a sweet floating hook with his left hand that hit only net. "Not bad", came the words from Frank.

Back at work, the day was steady but not overwhelming. I closed down the back room, set the bussers to cleaning up, and made ready for our first of three young basketball teams that were to use our room for their final game party. I retreated to my office to work on bills and was called in when the first team started to arrive. At the same time, our front room filled up and everything got crazy hectic. I brought up one of the prep cooks to help buss, called back in one of the bussers, and jumped in where I was needed. The team of three cooks in the kitchen did great and it was all that I could do to keep up with the food that they were putting up in the window and get it pushed out to the floor so that more food could go up. It all went quite well with only a couple mistakes, a minor conflict that had to be smoothed, and a stress level that I have learned to live with from time to time. While you are in it, you cannot panic, you must keep your head, and it is best if you can just try and make light of it. I often sing or hum to myself which helps. I remember in the old place. The worst day was Christmas. I must have looked kind of foolish at times walking around singing Christmas Carols but it was my way to calm myself and others around me in the craziness of the times. As I retrieved a mint from my Seattle Raindrops Mints tin in my pocket, I began to sing 'Raindrops keep falling on my head' as I sorted out the food. Tina said, "Where did that song come from" so I showed her the tin and she just laughed. I could only wave to the coach and thank him for bringing his team in.

Shortly after the first team came Jay's team and Jimmy was there to insure that the buffet for his team was ready. While the kids ate I joked with them while keeping an eye on the pass bar and the level of food in their buffet. My daughters grabbed me and pulled me into the room just in time to witness the awards. It is always fun to watch the kids and hear the 'thank yous' for sponsoring them. I must admit that my main reason for the sponsor is Jay but I also think that it is a very good direction for marketing money to go. I think that I was just about the only sponsor this year, however, which is kind of sad. I wonder if it was because the Park and Rec decided to raise the fees. I made a note to contact them about that. Maybe if they kept their fees down, they would gain more sponsors. After all, the teams will play whether they are sponsored or not.

Jay and I left to go down to get a movie for the night. Carrie and Trinity were going to a scrap booking party and Jay and I were to spend the evening together. After picking up the movie, we went back to the house to see Judy for a short time.....a very short time. I left to go back to the diner to help out with the last team promising to bring back supper with me.

I went out to the office to work on the bills that I had started earlier and only got one done when I was told that the team had arrived. Now, Saturday nights have not been that busy so I felt that a extra waitress for the team would suffice while I was there to help out up front......I was wrong. I watched as the team and families filled up the back room to capacity. I quickly folded out another table so that the rest of the families could sit. Meanwhile, the front room began to fill up. With only two cooks on the line, I could see that this could easily become a huge problem but, as usual, my team was up for the challenge. Without the back up help that is there during the day, the cashier doubled as a busser/milkshake maker while I backed up the two waitresses, sorted out dishes on the pass bar, made root beer floats (27), made salads, poured coffee, and did a whole lot of singing.

Around seven or so, I left and brought food back to the house. Judy had Jay text me with what she wanted but I had not read the last text. After a couple of Judy's cute words, I quickly returned to get the rest of the food. By now, we were closing up on eight PM. I asked Jay if he would help me take out the dogs before supper. It was raining and our little pup turned and darted back through the open door that Jay was standing in. I grabbed the pup and she yelped as I obviously pulled her stitches. In frustration, I snapped at Jay, "Close the door". I noticed Jay retreating into the kitchen and after bringing back in both of the dogs, I could see that he was visibly hurt. "I wasn't angry", I told him but his grandmother was now on the defense. "You could have fooled me" came her return. I called Jay over and gave him a hug and the tears started to fall. As I held him and apologised, my eyes teared up also. "I am sorry" were the only words that I could breath. "Papa, you scared me" came his words back. "I know and I am sorry". As quickly as it started, it was quickly over and we grabbed our food to go up to the room to catch any of the remaining basketball games before starting the movie. We watched the end of the high school game that had the team that had eaten at Jake's just the week before when it came to town to play Mt View. Jay commented how Mac court looks so much better on TV than in real life.

As we started the movie, the day began to hit me. I retreated, drew a bath, cracked a beer, and soaked off all of the sweat. I noticed the giggles coming from the TV room. With the movie half over, I dished up Jay and I some Ice cream and joined him for the rest of the funny show. We then said goodnight to Judy. Jay and I set up the bed for his dog next to his and I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow only to awaken a few hours later from the effects of the sugar in the beer and ice cream. And then, like tonight, I spent a few hours typing in the blog working my way back to sleep.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Boxing with Pink Shorts

A few years ago, we were planning a rather big vacation where we would pick up our nephew and his wife from the airport in LA and then spend a week with them putting together as much as we could to highlight their trip. We looked around for a fitting vehicle that I figured that we could buy and then sell after the trip. At least, that was the plan. We purchased a conversion van from a fellow in Sisters and got it ready for the trip. It had everything in it, a TV, head phone plugs throughout, plush seats, and the back seats folded down electrically into a queen size bed. It even had a built in safe. We were going to vacation in style.

The first part of the trip, for me, however was not one of great fun. From the first night out, my anxiety problems began to heighten. The pills that I had been given years back were not helping out as they had before. I struggled with a lack of sleep and the physical and emotional effects of the various attacks. During the day, while the family enjoyed various parks and entertainment, I spent as much time as I could napping in the back of the van just to keep up my strength. The worst part of the trip was when I woke up in the back of the van where I had been napping while they were in the San Diego Zoo. At first, I did not know where I was or why I was there. I pulled myself together piece by piece by first looking at my surroundings and realizing that I was in the back of my van. Then I looked outside to try and figure out where I was. I saw a sign at the end of the row of vehicles that showed me that I was at the zoo. It was then that I realized where I was and why. The van became kind of my solace....my spot where I could find a piece of my life that was the did not change. It was a good week into the vacation before the van and a repetition of taking a walk early in the morning along with day long sleep while at Magic Mountain the anxiety just disappeared and I was able to enjoy the last part of the trip in Vegas. I remember Judy commenting that it was good to see me eating and me telling her that it was good to have an appetite. Through it all and because of it all, I became very attached to the van. The smell of it, the comfort of the reclining seats, and the comforting feel of it's protection around me.

Arriving home, it was parked and not used much except for special occasions. Frank and I used it a few times, once to take our daughters and their dates to a dance. We took them to various fast food establishments and gave them a dollar each letting them pick from the dollar menus. We then took them back to Jake's to a candle light dinner with their purchased food in the back room. We arrived at the dance with two lit Tiki torches attached to the front of the van. As we pulled up to the dance, Frank jumped out and laid out a red carpet for the kids to walk on as they entered the dance.

Years later after taking over the diner and moving it to it's new location, Frank and I took turns sleeping in the back of the van while I waited for the security people to install our security after our safe was robbed. It became our watch dog van.

I had tried from time to time to sell it but we just could not find the buyer. Then one day, Richard from the boxing club, Deschutes County Rocks, walked in the door interested in buying it for his club. As I sat their listening to him tell me of young lives that had been affected by the boxing club, a small voice began to talk to me and I knew what I needed to do. Turning over the pink slip and signing it, I turned to Richard and said, "I am not going to sell you my van.....I am giving it to you.". His face dropped as I began to speak and then went into a shocked look. "I am prepared to pay for it.", he said. "No, this is what I need to do.", I returned. I remember my accountant telling me that I could sell it for a couple of thousand and make more money than I would get by a reduction of taxes in giving it away. But I felt good about it and knew that it was the right thing to do. That was four years ago.

Friday night, I drove into the parking lot of the fair grounds with a car load of guys to watch the first night of the golden glove boxing event there. We pulled up behind the van now sporting the logos of the club on it's side and with a large "Fueled by Jake's" sticker on it's spare tire in the back. Frank and I looked in the windows and reminisced of old days and trips that we had taken in it. He told one of the guys that it had been his apartment for a while a few years back. Jayden said, "Papa, when you gave it away, I was very mad at you for a while. I loved this van.".

The five of us walked into the event center and found ourselves a seat while we waited for the first fight to begin. We watched as Chaz shadowed boxed in the corner with his headphones on, preparing himself for his fight.

The fight card started and I watched the young men spar as they attempted to gain entry to the second night of championships. Chaz was the fourth event and he came out strong taking the first round but then seemed to lose his strength a little which in turn spurred his opponent on who took the next two rounds and the fight.

In the middle of Chaz's fight, I felt the vibration of my phone and went to the quietest corner of the center to attempt to answer it. It was the diner who was very busy asking me to come down and help. "I am sorry guys", was all I could say, "You are on your own this time. I have five guys counting on me for their ride. Besides, by the time I got to you from Redmond, you will be past the rush.". I felt bad but also realize that there are just sometimes that I cannot be that back up in those crazy times. I could only hope that no customer was affected adversely.

As the fight card progressed, I watched as other fighters began to prepare for their turn. I noticed a more middle aged fighter over in the corner. It was really very easy to notice him as he rather stuck out from the rest. First off, his milky white skin that seemed to shine out brightly from all of the rest of the primarily Mexican or Native American fighters. And then there was the pot belly that sort of seemed out of place from the other solid, strong, flat bellied competitors. But it was the shorts that really made him stand out. They were pink with numbers on the front of them. I wondered if he had purchased them from Goodwill or something. Next to him with a towel around his neck was a rather large older man who kind of looked like one of those guys who would come into the diner and order up two long haulers with a diet Pepsi. The two of them just looked out of place. My first thought was that he was a father who was trying to embarrass his son.

Chaz stopped by to tell us that he was trying to find another fighter to fight him in one of the early rounds of the next night. "Maybe you should ask old pink shorts back there.", I quipped. "He really is a fighter.", Chaz returned, "He is out of Tillamook and is one of the later rounds tonight The man next to him is his father and coach.". "Who is his sponsor, the Cheese factory.", I joked. I honestly thought that it was a hoax.

The events progressed and just before the heavy weights came up, their was a fight with a tall long armed young man and a rather strong but shorter opponent. The parents of the taller boy were seated behind us and as the fight started became quite vocal, yelling at the ref and stating that the smaller man was holding and cheating and then egging on their son to get in their and beat him up. I watched as the smaller guy did have a struggle getting in close enough to get some good punches in but most every one of his holds seemed to be accompanied by the same hold from the taller young man who I felt he was soundly beating. After the third and final round, the mother screamed at the judges telling them that they must pick the blue corner and restating that the red corner had been cheating. "You know that the blue corner is the better fighter and that he won.", she yelled. We all agreed that we felt that the red corner had done the better job. But, the judges must have heard her and gave the fight to the blue. Boos went of from all angles of the event center as others obviously agreed with me and the parents behind me quickly packed up their things and grabbed their fighter and left with their jobs done for the night.

The next round was the heavy weights.....211+. Pink shorts came through the ropes and settled into the red corner with his father, trainer, coach behind him. Into the ring in the blue corner came a rather large Native American fighter and oh, was he big. He was big in every part of his body from his large head, thick neck, broad shoulders, huge arms, big hands, massive trunk, and strong stocky legs. There was no grin on his face just a look of determination and anger. It looked like the miss match of the century. One of my party commented on the size of the blue fighter. We figured that if he got in one good punch that it might be over. I turned and quipped, "This is like some Saturday night Live skit.". Pink shorts took that first punch but the second one knocked him down and into his corner. Pink shorts arms flailed up and he yelled, "Stop the fight.". The massive blue corner guy backed back into his corner with out breaking a sweat. Pinkie then began complaining of his left knee. Apparently, he had twisted it from falling back into his corner. He was helped down to the chairs and given ice for his knee. Now, if I had hurt my knee like that, I would probably sit still while keeping it iced until it was time to leave. But old pink shorts jumped up and limped back and forth talking to various other people. I wondered if it was for sympathy or if he was just trying to explain why he had been defeated so quickly.

If you ask me, he was lucky he went down so fast. And if I was to suggest anything to help this fighter, I would probably come up with three things. First off, prepare yourself better. If you are honestly prepared for a fight, you will not have a beer belly. Two, you might want to hit a tanning booth a couple of times just to take the glow of the white skin off a little. And thirdly and most important, burn those Pink shorts.

All in all, it was a great night. A night of fun with some of the guys. A evening of entertainment. A time of reminiscing. And another bonding time with my little buddy and grandson, Jayden.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


That is not a word that is in my vocabulary right now and has not been for quite some time. That does not mean, however, that I feel that the things that I am doing are interesting enough for me to write them down and have you enjoy reading them. My days are loaded with allot of.....stuff, interesting for me but just stuff.

I recall back when I first got out of high school, I went to work for a year in the saw mill where my father and brother were working. My first job was at the end of what they called a re saw. That is where they take a two inch board and rip it down to two one inch boards. I stood at the end of the saw, sawdust flying down my back and would just grab the end of the board as it came out of the saw and with the help of the man on the end of the load, stack the board. We would go on to stack a load, one board at a time. There was absolutely nothing that I could do to make that job interesting especially when you add in the irritation of the sawdust. I made a pact right then and there that mill work would not be my life. I know others enjoyed it and the rest of my brothers and father made a good life with it, but it was just not for me.

Fast forward nearly forty years and my life is anything but boring. As a matter of fact, I cannot find enough minutes in a day to get my job done the way that I want it to. I was in my office today and two thoughts came to my mind as I was working of things that must be done. I grabbed a piece of paper and began to write myself a note. By the time that I had written the first note, the second thought was gone and I still have not brought it back. As I recall, both of the thoughts were important and the other will probably resurface just before it has to be done. That is just my life....no complaints.

I am incredibly thankful and there is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for the business that keeps me and our crew busy in these trying times and I am also humbled and thankful for all of the positive and uplifting comments that we are given.

Recently, we were notified by the chamber that we were nominated for small business of the year. I was surprised by that since it was the second year in a row that we have been nominated. And then I was even more blown away that we made the final three. I am not one that is very comfortable in formal settings but I am extremely appreciative of whomever nominated us and further being voted on to the finals. That alone is a huge honor that I don't take lightly.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jake's on the Go Go

I was approached last week by a woman from a new online magazine called On the go go.

They came in Monday to take a few pictures and have us in the Men's section of their magazine.....funny, women play poker too and the girl who took the pictures said that she wanted to join us and play next week.

You can check it out at http://www.onthego-go.com/Mars_Venus/Mars_Rules/ or just come on in and join us some Monday night. We have averaged four tables for the last few weeks and next week will be taking the total raised over $16,000.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Not in our house

We purchased the tickets for the civil war way back when they first came up for sale. I waited until after midnight that night to get the best seats that I could get....or at least I thought they would be. They were in the fifth row along the side on the third level. Close to the corner but the picture online of what the floor was to look like looked pretty good. As the season progressed and the Ducks continued to lose, we all wondered if the game would be any good at all but we were excited just to go to Mac Court for a game.

We left Judy and Casey working at the diner. Business was brisk and I felt a little guilty about going but I promised the girls we would get going early so around eleven, we headed out.

We had a great trip over and pulled into the parking lot of the Broadway motel on Franklin to get our room. I had found the motel online and it had not only had one of the best rates but was also one of the highest ranking stays. I had booked a twin room with the girls in one side and Jay and I in the other.

The motel was old and I remembered staying there once with Judy. We checked in and found the rooms to be small but very clean. The girls wanted to go to a shopping center so we went off to Valley River. After a quick snack, we split up with Jay and I heading for the sports stores. He had ten dollars in his pocket burning a hole and we found a pretty nice basketball with a penny change on top.

Jay showed me how he could dribble between his legs which very much impressed me and that little red haired girl that watched from a distance. After purchasing an ice cream, we sat on a bench in the middle of the mall and waited for word from the girls.

It was then off to Track Town Pizza which is the only place to eat on game day. We all ordered individual pizzas and sat watching the beginning of the Blazer game on one of their TVs.

Afterwards, we cruised by Mac Court and decided that it was best that we drove over since it was threatening rain instead of walking as we had originally chose to do. We parked just across the hill from Mac Court and walked through the cemetery. It brought back plenty of memories. You really have to walk through the cemetery to the game to have the full experience. As we came up to the lights of Mac Court, it brought back a very vivid memory of back in the late sixties. Undefeated UCLA was in town and the game was sold out. I walked through that same grave yard and stood on that same lit sidewalk in front of Mac Court and with a twenty held up in my hand, I yelled, "I will give you twenty bucks for your seat.". I remember people looked at me like I was crazy but back then, twenty bucks was quite allot. I thought someone would take me up but no one did. I ended up going to a drive in movie, turning down the sound and turning up the radio and listening to the Ducks giving the Bruins the first defeat of the season.

We entered Mac and made our way to our seats. They had to be one of the worst seats in the house. The fifth row was the last row. The seats were bench and not that much higher than the ones in front of us. We could not see the scoreboard and had to twist and turn to just see most of the floor. Jay could not see at all so we sat on the back of my seat to try and get a better look. The girls had a vent just above them so they could not sit as we were. As the game got closer, I spied four seats together just over and right after tip off, we all moved to those seats. They were much better with a great view of the floor and scoreboard.

The game started off with the Beavers easily handling the inexperienced Ducks. Try as they did, the Ducks just could not stay with them and at half time were down by ten points.

I needed to go to the bathroom and since Mac only has a couple of those on the main floor, I decided to wait until midway through the second half to get any chance. I ducked out with the Beavers up by twelve points.

The line was long but not close to as long as it would have been at half time and as I locked the stall, I noticed the noise level of the stadium seemed to be getting a little louder. The roars continued to intensify and the walls and floor started to shake. It was so intense that the lock on the door kept unlocking on me. I was wondering what I was missing out on. When I washed my hands, I noticed something else. I was the only one in the bathroom. With 9000 people and four bathrooms, I really began to wonder what was happening in the game.

I soon found out as I walked out and looked up at the scoreboard that showed that the game was now tied. The last part of the game was well worth the ticket as the place had erupted as Mac Court of old. Fans clapping, stomping, and yelling so loud that the refs could not even hear the buzzer. The Ducks with the help of the fervor of the fans threw the Beavers way out of whack and the Ducks ended up beating them by ten points.....a twenty point turn around from half time. Now, I have always challenged Jay to watch the flow of a game and was pleasantly surprised when he made an analysis of the Ducks point guard. "TP needs to pass the ball more, he is ball hogging and is missing allot of open guys.". I told him to remember that when he played and he said that he would.

We walked amongst students and supporters back through the erie graveyard, to our car, a stop at Safeway for snacks, and back to our room. Along the way, we called Casey up to sing the Oregon fight song to him. Casey is the only Beaver fan in the family. I did everything that I could to make him one including taking him to quite a few games and introducing him to players and coaches but in the end, his buddy, Jason, went to Oregon State and he became a Beaver believer.

We wound down in the room with a movie and snacks and went to sleep around midnight. Carrie had warned me about Jay being a somewhat active sleeper and around one or so, he raised up and yelled, "Blocked Shot, where is the ball!". I reached over and pulled him back down to the bed, ruffling his hair and joking with him saying, "Did you win the game?". He dropped back to sleep only to wake up an hour or so later, raise up on his arms, look at me and yell, "Why?". Laughing, I quipped back, "Why not, little buddy?". He then dropped off for the rest of the night.

The motel had a very nice little continental breakfast in the morning. There was coffee in the pot with a air pot right next to it. I figured that it was decaf so I put some cream in my cup and pressed down on the cup to find orange juice coming out. I started to throw it away but after tasting it realized that it was kind of like a creamsicle so I just filled the cup and drank.

A good time with the kids, a great game in one of the last at Mac Court, and a fun day away, we left early to get back to Bend and be with Casey as much as we could before he left. I think it will be an adventure that we will remember for many years to come.