Tuesday, June 29, 2010


G comes in quite often. He is getting up in years and loses his temper a bit but all in all, he is a good man and a steady customer so most of us smile when he tells us he will never eat in our restaurant again but reenters the next day or so.

The other day, he ordered a Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato from Casey. Casey did not think much of the fact that G could not eat some foods because of his dentures.

When Casey walked out onto the floor, G was waiting for him with two pieces of Bacon in his hand. Flipping them at Casey, he said, "Just try to chew these. They are impossible!". Casey declined but after G's insistence, got him something different and no charged the sandwich.

This did not stop G from his point, however. He challenged the other waitstaff and some customers that he knew to try and chew the bacon that he flipped around in his fingers. All smiled and declined. His new meal arrived and we felt that it was all done then.

As he came up to the register to pay, however, he still had the two pieces of bacon in his fist. "Just try biting this and chewing on it!", he barked at the cashier. The cashier declined and G walked out the door flipping the bacon and muttering.

I do believe that Jerry Seinfeld would have a field day at our place.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Bloody Big Problem

We worked with the local Red Cross and VA center to set up a Band of Brothers Blood drive recently. Since I did not have the room to house the drive, Williamson and Company, who I lease from allowed the drive to go on in their hall right behind us.

The Red Cross representative came by to see the Band of Brothers on Monday and to get them to sign up for the drive. She was very successful in signing up some and all looked well until she showed me the date, July 5th.

July 5th is a holiday and we have cancelled the Band of Brothers meeting that day because of that. So, that has thrown us into a bit of a dilemma on just how to make this drive the success that it needs to be.

Zin and I challenged the local Vietnam Veterans of America last evening to join us and I believe Zin is going to challenge the Marine Corp League this evening. Our thought is this. To get the veteran organizations to join in on this much needed blood drive. We are willing to go out and buy a plague for the winning organization. My first thought is to call it the 'Best Bloody Veteran Group in Bend'.

I am very open for any suggestions on how to turn this problem around and make this blood drive even more profitable than it was originally intended. I will be talking it up at the coming Fourth of July BBQ and Blues event and also the day of the event as it is a holiday and we will probably be busy.

So, open your minds, get outside your boxes, and give me some of your ideas on how to make this drive a success. No idea is corny or wrong.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Good Gravy

I am not much for reality shows but a few years back, my grandson got me into watching "The Amazing Race". This last years version had a couple of very lovable cowboy brothers who actually came in second in the race but first in most peoples hearts because of their incredible integrity. They lost because they would not stoop to the tactics of others. I also liked the fact that they did not have to bleep their remarks when they got frustrated. One of the guys favorite sayings was "Oh Good Gravy".

Now, being in the restaurant game, I know how important that particular phrase is to a good breakfast venue. We have worked over the years to keep the quality and consistency of our gravy high.

Yesterday, as I was setting up a couple of plates, one of them just seemed different. I asked Penny if this was a special group and she laughed. "You should come and talk with this guy. He has quite a story about our gravy.".

I got sidetracked with work but was able to stop and talk with him as he left the diner. His bright smile was very engaging as he began his story:

"I came to your restaurant over 12 years ago and gave your gravy the only 10 that I had ever given. I love gravy and I rate it all over the country as I eat in various restaurants. It was the only 10 that I had ever given a restaurant up until a couple of years ago when I was in the plains of Canada. I stopped into a small restaurant there and their gravy was great. I stopped the waitress and raved about their gravy. I told them that it was the best gravy that I had ever tasted since eating in a restaurant down in Bend, Oregon called Jake's. The waitress smiled and said that their cook had worked in Jake's".

He didn't ask the cooks name but surmised that he had learned his skill from us. I smiled but queried him, "What is more important is how was your gravy today?". He smiled and gave me a hearty thumbs up. "A 10 again.", he stated.

Those are the times that push you on to continue. Like a strike in bowling or a good drive or putt in golf. But as good as they are at motivating you, I believe it is listening to the downside that will keep you alive. So, please, if you ever have a problem while eating at our establishment, please don't hold back. Let me know. While I love hearing the good, it is the silent customer that I know that I must watch for.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A night with Charlie

Tuesday, I had a great time at the annual Combined Communications golf tourney. My team composed of my buddies Frank, Mark, and Dave started off with a bang getting birdies on our first two holes. Then, as things go, we didn't do so well and ended up 1 over par for the game and a couple of strokes out of the prizes but.....we had a great time.

I was pretty tired when I got home and Trin had baked some Zucchini bread that she asked me to sample. I gladly downed one of her small tasty loaves, soaked in the bath, and went off to bed.

Around midnight, I awoke in a sweat. I opened up the window and let the cool air blow on me but the heat from within continued. I washed my face with cold water and went downstairs to not disturb the girls. Nothing I could do seemed to cool me down and I soon began to feel sick. I now wondered if I had somehow eaten something wrong but all that I had eaten was a sack lunch and a pretty nice buffet dinner. If either was the case, many others would be sick also.

I began to throw up and usually after that happens, you feel just a bit better, but I did not. I began to shake from within. I could feel it down to my toes. Something was wrong. My first thought was that I remember others saying they had those symptoms and found they were having a heart attack. Knowing Trin was probably still up, I knocked on her door and asked her to take me in.

I arrived at the hospital and had Trin drop me off at the door. By now, I was very out of it and I admit most of the rest of the night being somewhat of a blur but I will piece my thoughts together as I remember them.

I walked into the reception area finding no one else around and the lady told me to sit down, not even looking up. I could hear her either chewing or popping her gum (whatever it was was annoying me). Trin joined me and the lady said she was busy but would be with us shortly. I kind of lost it then and know a couple of seedy words came from my mouth like the ones my dad got mad at me for saying way back in sixth grade at school. I then turned to Trin and said, "These guys just don't give a damn.". The next thing I remember was waking up in a bed with wires and tubes attached to me and people all around. Trin later informed me that I had passed out. Then the non-caring attendant looked up at me and said, "Is this normal for him?". Wow, what a statement.

They gave me something that made me feel a bit better but I started shaking and could not stop. Someone gave me a warm blanket and that did feel better but did not curtail the shaking. Trin told me from her perspective that I mumbled a whole lot and the doctors and nurses asked her if she understood me. Then she said, once more from her perspective, that as I became more lucent, I told them what I was feeling but they seemed to ignore my statements which frustrated her.

I recall an alarm going off quite often and Trin said that my heart rate and blood pressure seemed to vary quite a bit. She said the alarm would go off as I shook and she would go get a nurse. She said the nurse usually came into the room and just left. Finally, she asked him if anything was wrong and why the alarm was going off. He said, "Oh, we have been having problems with that machine.". Now, after the fact, does that make any sense? If you are in a emergency room and a machine is not operating right, would it not be best to not use it and replace it with one that does....just my thoughts from the man laying down on the bed.

I seemed to stabilize then it all seemed to hit again. They increased my meds but I thought I was going to get sick again. They gave me a bag but I asked to go to the bathroom. The nurse refused to unhook me or allow me access to the bathroom. I will not go into detail my thoughts nor my embarrassment of that part. Trin said she felt so bad for me and tried to persuade the unmoving nurse.

I know they ran some tests on me. How many, I don't know. I do remember being wheeled to a cat scan. The lady there told me that I needed to stop shaking. I told her I had no control there so she had me hold my breath. It seemed to work and she got her pictures.

So, now, I am feeling better. Pretty drugged up, I guess and drifting in and out of sleep when a doctor walks in and looks down at me. "So", he smiles, "What brings you in tonight?". I know he was just doing his job and I know he was trying to be friendly. But, my mood just did not set well with his words. "I don't know, Doc, I just woke up and decided, oh what the heck, why don't I just go to the ER, let them run some tests on me, and spend allot of money.". He ignored my sarcastic response and began looking at my charts and test results.

He began talking to others around him that he felt it was a basal vagal response. Now, I heard that once before many years ago, when an allergic reaction landed me in the hospital for a few days. My doctor back then told me that it was more like the doctor didn't know for sure. So, I wondered if this one did.

So, around sun up, they just sent me home and I slept for a few hours and took the rest of the day off.

Yesterday, I laughed about it with the guys at the counter relating my experience as I have here trying to make light of my plight. John looked up from his ice tea and said, "Do you have hypoglycemia?". "Yes", I responded. "Well, it sounds to me like a major hypoglycemic attack. Something triggered your pancreas to over react and that threw your body into confusion." John went on to explain that something similar had happened to him once and was discovered to be just that.

So, looking back at it all. I spent a night in the hospital on my back in an uncomfortable bed, had a gum chewing receptionist annoy me, a nurse ignore me, and a doctor try to be cute with me and nothing that they said seemed to make any sense. But John, who paid for his ice tea, seemed to make perfect sense and laid it out in a way that I understood.

Maybe I should just call John the next time. It might save me a bit of money.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Saturday afternoon

I went to LaPine with a few of my veteran brothers yesterday. We all drove in convoy to a service to remember an old friend, Bill Bussey. We had 8 or 9 cars in our convoy down and kept pretty well together until we lost a rig probably when we turned onto Burgess Rd. That rig never showed up so I can only assume they just headed back.

We arrived and sat outside talking for a bit before we all started filing in the door. Originally, I had figured that we all would not be able to fit inside the church but the crowd was just about perfect for the seating as it looked like they had opened an annex of sorts on the side of the floor to fit us all in.

As I walked in the door and mingled with the crowd, I was listening to various people talk back and forth about how Bob Maxwell had shown up. "I sure hope I get to meet him." was the common saying. I looked around and saw Phil had found a seat in the middle of one side and I slipped onto the end of that row.

As the church began to fill up, I sat there in silence looking at my program and up at the picture of Bill in the front. My thoughts were filled with my old friend and how it was just to early in his life. I remember thinking and praying, "Why take one of your saints so soon. There was still so much he could do.".

A voice broke through my thoughts. "Anyone sitting in that seat?". I looked up to see my friend, Bob Maxwell. "Yes, you", I smiled back. I felt so honored right then and there. Much more than he imagined. Here were all these people hoping to see this man and he chose to sit next to me. I think so highly of this humble man. He had been in the valley but had chose to stop at Bill's service on his way home to honor his old friend also.

The preacher spoke and assured us all that plenty of time would be offered to allow people to come forward and say the things that they wanted to say. He said that we needed to keep our comments to under 4 minutes each but there would be time enough for all. He lied. Maybe not intentional but he even stated that he knew there would be plenty of us wanting to talk. I got up and shared an email that Bill had sent me that last week that I could hear Bill's voice so clearly in. But just as people were really just getting into things, the preacher stood up and said. "Ok, this is the end of it.". I wanted to stand up and yell out, "Hey, what fire are we going to?". I was sure that no one there had any one place that they needed to be except maybe the preacher himself and we could have run the show without him. I looked up and in my mind, saw Bill himself sitting up on the side of the stage shaking his head at the preachers comment.

Then the preacher stepped on it again when he said, "The honor guard gave Bill a 21 gun salute at his official funeral in Portland and protocol does not allow us to do that again so we will only play taps. Again my mind screamed out, "Protocol be damned. Let's throw it out the window." This was not an official military funeral. This was a bunch of his friends remembering him. "Give me the gun, I will shoot all 21 of them.".

The preacher brought the service to a close and we all walked by the family greeting them. I always wonder how I will be in that situation. I imagine not wanting anyone to talk with me. I just shook hands and hugged. The words had already been spoken and the hugs spoke words of their own.

We all filtered back into the back part of the church where the church family had put on quite a spread of sandwiches and deserts. I sat with Zin and a few others until my friend, Loren, showed up and I gave him my chair. Loren was in the hospital the same time that Bill passed on and has yet to be able to go home. His wrapped hand was still quite swollen but I could tell that he was enjoying his time out of the room with his friends.

Many people thanked me for my words and said that they had wanted to speak but were not able to. So, we all just stood around sharing with each other our various memories of our old friend. Getting the things off of our chest that we needed and chastising the preacher for his time table.

Soon, my car load was ready to head home and I said my goodbyes and drove back to Bend, taking the Day road route and showing all in my car the old ranch house that my great grandfather had built from the timber of the abandoned electric sub station of Pringle falls. The old house and all of the out buildings are still standing from their original build back in the 20's.

As we were arriving in Bend, I received a call on my bluetooth from Jayden. He had found a slug in his driveway and wanted to let me know all about it. They put the slug in a box and decided to call it, "Cheetah" as it had stripes on it. I promised to come by and see it so after dropping the guys off at Jake's, I drove out to see Jay's newest pet. The slug was huge, much bigger than any that I had seen in our area. It reminded me of ones that I had seen in the valley.

Carrie and Jay were heading out to the old mill to the national beard contest down there. I told them that I would join them there after running a couple of errands. I wanted to drive by some houses that the agent had sent me thinking that my parents might like them. I took the stack of 8 or so houses and found only a couple that might interest them. I am hoping that they will find just that right house that they will feel comfortable in but will afford them to be closer to shopping and hopefully the bus line for Mom.

I then drove back down to the old mill to link up with the kids. As I arrived, I noticed security at all of the closed entrances to the amphitheater. Would they be charging for this event? The event seemed to be almost over and they were inviting men with beards to get up on the stage with them to set a record for the number of bearded men on one stage at the same time. I wondered if Guinness would have cared about that one. I thought I might sneak up on the stage and join them but when I got to the entrance, I found the cost to be $10. The event was almost over so I wasn't going to lay out that kind of money for just a chance to join them on the stage.

As that part broke up, I walked along the sidewalk by the stage area watching the people file out. The security guy asked me to keep moving. "Why?", I asked. "I am waiting for my daughter who is coming out with my grandson.". "I am suppose to keep these sidewalks clear so please keep me out of trouble and keep moving , OK?". I shook my head at the stupidity of it all but kept moving as I waited for Carrie's return call to say where she was coming out. As I walked along the sidewalk, it hit me. Isn't this sidewalk community property? How does anyone have the right to tell me I cannot be there when it is not a part of the theater property? I wanted to go back and confront the guard but decided that was best not done.

As I walked along, my mind went back to the various things that had irked me today. The preacher not giving us time to speak, the statement of proper protocol on the gun salute, and finally being told to leave a public area when really nothing was going on at this amphitheater. I looked up and in my mind, saw Bill standing there by the fence. He was wearing his overalls and his red, white, and blue shirt. And he was smiling at me. It was as if he was saying, "I understand, Lyle, it would irk me too.".

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bill Bussey

Yesterday was Memorial Day. We were very busy in the morning and slowed down just enough to let me get away and go to the Memorial service at Deschutes Gardens. Many of the Band of Brothers were there and we agreed that next year, we would be putting up a wreath.

Afterwards, Zin and I drove up to Redmond to visit Lauren who has been in a home there temporarily while he goes through some therapy that should allow him to go home and continue his normal life. While there, Lauren proudly showed us a picture and medal that was sent to him by none other than General Petraeus (sp) himself. What an incredible honor.

As I looked at the medal, thoughts of my old friend Bill Bussey flooded me. Bill passed away a couple of weeks ago and his local service is going to be this Saturday in Lapine. I believe that the church will not be big enough to fit us all and have suggested that people going should bring their own chairs. Bill was always one to honor people. As a matter of fact, he took that as his mission in life. I have three things that he gave me. A patch that will one day grace a jacket, a hat that I wear proudly, and a coin that he had my name inscribed on.

Last night, I used that coin as my marker in poker. I remember staring at it as I played and seeing visions of the big guy who gave it to me. In my mind, I could see him sitting over in the corner. He was never one to just step out in front. Even when he gave his tributes, he would stand off to the side. He wanted the person honored to be in the forefront.

I sure miss him. And the room will always have a vacant gap in it where he would sit with his box of items to honor people with. In that same light, my heart will have a gap that will not be easily filled.

Goodbye again, old friend. Or should I just say, 'See ya'. I know where you are and know that I will see you again one day. And if Heaven were a room....I know where you would be sitting.