Friday, February 25, 2011


I first met Phil in the Band of Brothers when they first stated meeting at Jake's. I knew that he was a part of the original group but he was very quiet so I did not get to know him well at first. His native American type looks and the knowledge that he was in Iwo Jima made me think as many others did that he was a wind talker there. I later learned that was not the case.

Phil's engaging smile and different wit soon drew me to him as a special man. When I would ask him how he was, he would return, "Pretty good for an old fart". I also learned that this quiet man did not mean that he was not without opinion. There were some things that he had quite an opinion about. Such as loud mouths or pushy people. He had no time for them. When angered, his words could get quite colorful also.

But, there was something about him that drew you to him. That something was his heart. He is just a great guy and fun to be around.

Another member of the Brothers, Ray, became a very close friend and would bring Phil to the meetings and out to lunch whenever he wanted to. A while after the brothers started meeting at our place, he was a regular fixture at lunch time. Phil and Ray would stop in and other vets would often join them including myself.

And Ray loved the girls. Instead of shaking their hands, he would often bring the hand up to his lips and kiss it. For obvious reasons, the girls have a special place in their hearts for him. Once when he was not feeling well, I stuck my hand out to shake his. He inadvertently raised to his mouth and I was not sure what to do. I knew he wasn't feeling well so I figured I would just take whatever and roll with the punches. He realized what he was doing at the last minute and improvised by biting my hand. I playfully punched him in the arm and all was well.

Last year, I took Phil to the Golden Gloves Boxing matches with me. The matches were going on late into the evening and I worried that I was keeping my friend up to late. The last match started and this big bruiser walked just under where Phil was sitting. Phil reached down and tapped him on the head. When the young heavyweight looked up, Phil gave him a smile and a big thumbs up. I then knew that Phil was enjoying himself.

On the ride back to his house, Phil told me. "I boxed golden gloves once. I only had one fight. The guy punched me in the nose and it hurt! That was the end of my career.".

He was the first Brother that my father met. On the Fourth of July, as my mom was using my computer, Dad sat out in the parking lot with the others listening to the band. Phil called him an old fart and Dad has never forgotten that. I think Phil is still his favorite when he comes to one of the meetings.

A couple of months back, Phil told me that he was having problems swallowing. We began giving him broth and milkshakes and waited to hear what the doctor had to say. The results were not pleasant to hear. Phil had cancer of his esophagus. The cancer was stage 4.

We visited Phil in the hospital when they ran the tests and I found that he had two loves. Books and Scotch. Soon friends were bringing him both and he had a library along with a wet bar along the window. The doctor asked him if their was anything that Phil needed and Phil told him, "I could use some Scotch.". The doc laughed and said, "Maybe I will come up and have one with you later.".

Since then, Phil has been struggling. He still came in with Ray whenever he could. One Band of Brothers day, Phil brought him in late and when he was wheeled in the door, 100 old vets jumped to their feet in a standing ovation. His tears showed me how touched he was by that.

Last Sunday, when we had the spaghetti feed for the Honor Flight, Ray wheeled Phil in. Around halfway through the evening, Phil fell asleep and slept in his wheel chair as the festivities went on around him.

On Tuesday, they put him in Hospice for evaluation. Zin, Judy, Art, and I visited him yesterday and Judy and I took him up a milkshake today. While I do think there are people coming up to see him, he seems to not remember much of them. His hearing is going fast and even with his aids in, he does not hear much of what you say.

Our hearts went out to him as we sat there and tried to converse with him knowing that he heard very little of what we had to say. He just smiled and shook his head. He had just been wheeled in after his shower and we soon realized that his wit was still alive and well, when he said, "That was the best shower I have had in a long time.". Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he went on, "She washed every little part of me.". He looked up and me and gave me that wink and we all laughed.

He asked me if I had received his Hawaiian shirts. I said no and he said, "I want you to have them, Lyle, I can't use them anymore. I don't know how much longer I am going to be around.". The tears welled up in his eyes and I quickly worked to change the subject and tried diverting his attention to other things such as the bird that was fattening himself outside Phil's window in the feeders there.

While it is hard to converse with him now due to his hearing problems, it is equally important that we don't stop seeing him because it is uncomfortable. This gentle man who as a youth went through some of the bloodiest and hardest battles of the war now needs his friends more than ever.

Phil is another one of the incredible and colorful people that I have been so blessed to meet in the journey of my own life. So, if you happen to be stopping by Hospice House in the next few days, stick your head in room 5 and say, "Hello" to a very special old fart, my friend Phil.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Band of Brothers Spaghetti Feed

Sunday started out as any other Sunday. I arrived at work around 8 or so. Business got brisk around 9 with both rooms filling up and all of the cogs moving as they should. Trinity was anxious to get off of the register and get to moving into her new apartment so Judy took over for her shortly after arriving.

Somewhere around 10 or so, Ron (one of our dish crew) and I left to go over to Trin's new apartment to deliver her TV that we had found for free on craigslist the day before. It took four of us and a hand truck to get it to the top of the stairs and into the apartment. By the time we finished, my back was beginning to ache.

One of the local churches had called in to reserve a space in the back room for their seniors who were coming in after their service. I had told the greeter to insure that they had a table for 7. When I arrived back at the diner, I asked him if he was ready for the group and he said yes. Shortly thereafter, I saw the same group waiting in the entry way so I asked the greeter why. He said there was no place to put them. Now this frustrated me as we had just gotten through talking about them. I lectured him and told him to go personally apologise to the group. I then looked to see what we could do. There were two tables open in the back but one of them was higher than the other so while it was fine for 6, it would uncomfortable for 7. The group was extremely gracious and said the table would be fine. I then asked the greeter if he had learned anything from the experience and he said yes. As I walked away, I wondered if yes meant he had learned to keep his options open when I set up a group ahead like that.....or that I can be a bit of a jerk at times. I do like this young man who can be quite creative. At lunchtime, he said that he was in love with my daughter so could he have the family discount. He is 16......Carrie is 30something. I brought that to his attention and he returned, "Well, I don't mind if she doesn't.".

Around 1, Judy asked me if I would help Trin take a load over to her new place. I reluctantly agreed and drove over to the house to help her load. Although it was cold outside, I worked up a pretty good sweat along with gaining more on the ache in my back. I tried to take small loads but that meant more trips up and down the stairs. I arrived back at the diner shortly after 2 and started getting ready for the feed.

Zin, Linda, and Andy from the Brothers showed up early and our last customer left around 2:45. I was glad for that as it gave us the ability to convert over quickly. We set up a table for the silent auction items and we began covering our table tops with some red, white, and blue covers that Jimmy had found.

Soon, the helpers arrived but my back was hurting so bad that I could not concentrate on where I should put them all. Linda was good at that sort of thing so I gave her that chore. She asked me where I wanted them and I started blurting out the different areas of need while she kept up with me as I worked at the various set ups. I brought the group together and thanked them for their help and turned them over to Linda. I then went out to the office and attempted to stretch out my back but ended up just sitting in my chair in a position where it did not hurt. My eyes dropped and minutes later, I was awoken by someone banging on the door. Zin needed something for the auction and off we went.

The crowd arrived before 4 and filled up the main room. I directed Linda to set up someone at the door to start sending them to the back room. I knew that we need to get things rolling so I asked Dick Tobiason who is the President of the Bend Heroes Foundation to make his words brief and then told Zin to jump in and take over if they weren't as we needed to get the feed started.

Dick was brief and I am not sure how many people heard him as the din was a bit loud in the room. Zin then got the room started on the feeding, breaking the room up so that the line would be more manageable. I made my rounds checking on people while Judy got her camera out and shot some pictures. The harder I worked, the less I noticed my back and I took note that the line was going down so I told the back room to go ahead and join the line. The problem was that there was still a section in the front who had not joined in yet. So......we soon had a line out through the entry way and into the back area. When I said something to Zin, he just laughed at me and said, "I told you that I didn't have all of the front room going yet, but you either didn't listen to me or didn't hear me.". Both was probably the case as when I go into my place in my mind for events like this it is kind of a deep focus where I don't always hear everything around me. I call it my zone.

5PM came quickly and then line was still quite long. Jimmy asked me to spell him at the spaghetti so that he could get some more ready. I served for a pans worth before switching in one of the helpers into the line so I could go back to my job of walking around solving problems (and I guess making more).

Everyone seemed quite happy with both the food and what we were doing. Richard was busy taking in the money and stamping hands, various members and their spouses were serving including Bob and Jane Pfiefer of Lazy Boy who always bring in the spumoni ice cream for the event.

We soon run out of bowls for the salad and ice cream and Jimmy brings out some small plates that didn't hold the ice cream well so I darted down to Costco and picked up some more bowls. 5:45 and we still have a line. Jimmy pulls out the last pan of spaghetti. We had gone through what he made for the event and were now into our diner back up supply. The line was subsiding so I told the help to break away and feed themselves. When all had fed, I found one last scoop by scrapping the pan, dished it up along with the last two chunks of bread and ate my supper while still on the run.

I noticed a group of highly colorful youth come in the front door and find themselves a seat in the diner that they probably thought was open for business as usual. I informed them that the diner was closed and that they could have joined us for the event but.....we were out of food. They seemed to grumble as they walked out the door and I hoped that I had not lost a potential customer.

I began to count the money as others helped to clean up and break down. The till came up to over $2700 and the 50/50 brought in another $200. I had the lady who had sold the tickets draw from the bucket and smiled as read the name, Dorthy Ipock (my cousin). David (her husband) was who I got to take over at the spaghetti and he was walking by at the time while cleaning up. He smiled and quipped how she was always so lucky with things like that.

I quickly added up the silent auction items and informed Dick of the grand total of over $3700 while handing him the bag of cash. I retreated to post a couple of pictures on facebook and was just posting the amount when Zin and Dick came back to see me. Dick informed me of additional checks that had been given him and Mike Genna so we quickly discerned that although we did not have an exact figure, it was over $4000.

Our back up plan of sending the extra food over to COVO was not needed as all of the food was consumed along with nearly 10 gallons of ice cream. By 7PM, Jimmy, Gene (the dishwasher), and I were all that was left and we closed up shop and set the alarms.

Trin called me as I got in the car. She could not get her new TV to work. I drove to her new place and helped her hook up her stuff. She had two dvd players and two vhs players but only one of each worked. I looked at the back of her working dvd player and it looked as if their was only outlets for more high definition cords instead of the typical three cord hook up. I then tried taking her other dvd apart finding that the motor did not work right. I took note that both her TV and her dvd had Svideo so I drove back to the house and dug through my boxes in the garage that I thought contained a cord finding none.

I drove out, purchased her a svideo cord, and drove back to her place. As I hooked up the new cord, I noticed something that I had overlooked before. A three plug outlet off to the end of the player. "You are so stupid sometimes!", I quipped at myself. I felt like I did the day before when I had videoed Jayden playing basketball. I had taped him cutting to the middle and hooking a perfect shot into the hoop only to inadvertently delete it from the camera when I tried to clear off all of the junk shots.

Trin's new TV worked perfectly and I drove back home arriving after 9. Exhausted, I climbed into bed and dropped off to sleep quickly. I slept deeply until Judy came to bed. As she got herself situated, her knee went into the small of my back right where the tenderness was. I tossed and turned trying to find a spot that did not have a dull ache. Finally, I retreated to my room and the pillow behind my back that often gives me relief in these types of times. I am telling you about my day in the middle of the night. My back feels much better and tomorrow is Presidents day along with the Band of Brothers and then capped off with the weekly holdem tourney for Habitat. Tuesday, I drive to Portland for surgery so maybe Thursday I should take the day off.......?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Strawberry Hill

In my earlier years, as a young Navy man in San Diego, I was first introduced to Boones Farm Strawberry Hill wine at a party on the grass at Mission Beach. Now, I probably knew of the cold beverage before that but that was my first real experience.

We all sat in a circle, just talking and hanging out after a day of body surfing on a beach that will always be one of my favorites. One of the guys stated that we should play a drinking game. He pulled out a cold bottle of the brew and set down the rules. It was called the rhyme game. The first man would say a line and the next would say another that rhymed and then pass on the bottle. When someone flubbed, they would take a long swig and again pass it on.

The game created a quandary of sorts. You were challenged to not break the chain were thirsty also. So, when you did mess up, you messed up with a smile on your face.

I still remember that first taste. A sweet fruity blend that tasted like a refreshing fruit soda. Yet a few swallows of this soda began to warm and relax you like no other.

I liked it better than a cold beer back then. One of the fond thoughts were of just the share and fellowship of it all. I shared bottles on the beach, at a park, by the pool, and even on the hill overlooking the drive in theater where we would hang out and laugh as we would attempt to lip read the actors mouths coming up with some pretty good one liners in the process.

When Judy and I were first married, we would take in a drive in every weekend. We would get some sandwiches, a Kit Kat candy bar, and a bottle of Strawberry Hill and then drive in to the movie. Soon after supper, a snack, and sharing the bottle, Judy would be fast asleep and I would watch the rest of the movie before driving us home.

The price was a good thing also. A bottle cost 99 cents. If that was too much, there was a cheaper alternative called Ripple but that would often give me a head ache later on so I always tried to fork out the extra 20 cents.

I remember when Judy and I were first dating, I took her to a fancy restaurant close to the airport. The waiter brought over the wine and poured me a splash in my glass. "Wow, they sure don't give you much here.", I quipped. Judy laughed and leaned over whispering in my ear what my responsibilities were and with a smile, I tasted it and gave my waiter the OK for more. Judy asked me if I liked the wine and my answer was simple. "It's not bad but it sure isn't Boones Farm.".

I recall being in the Philippines and finding it there. It brought back memories of home and I even shared a bottle once at the end of the pier with a mate before we stepped back aboard ship.

Somewhere along the line, it seemed to disappear, however, and it has been years since I had seen a bottle until Judy showed me one on a recent trip to Walmart. We purchased a bottle and it is sitting in my fridge waiting. I kind of wish it was a hot summer day right now. We could sit out on the deck gazing at the mountains and do the rhyme game all over again.

Once there was a dog

who had a frog

that lived on a log

in the fog

and he had a cat.....(swig)....."Ahhhh".

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mac 2 Matt

A catchy phrase of which I did not come up with. I saw it on a T Shirt at the basketball game on Saturday.

There is always one thing that you can count on.....things will change. I have many memories of the Eugene area in my youth as my grandparents lived there out on River Road. I can recall when we would visit, dad would always stop at Williams Bakery thrift store for large packs of donuts to add to our breakfast fare. I remember well the bakery smells that would waft through the store as well as the taste of dad's favorite coconut glazed donuts.

Fast forward to my early Jake's years and I had the choice of three bakeries to choose from but primarily Williams or Franz. I am certain that my memories helped but Williams had better bread, better pricing, and better service so the decision was a no brainer.

There were also added benefits to this venture and that was tickets to Ducks games. I would be given one football and one basketball game every year to take Casey to. One football game, they even took us up to the touchdown club at Autzen where we met the football and basketball coaches. On another occasion, the district manager even treated Casey and I to dinner at an Italian restaurant prior to a game at Mac court.

And Mac court itself brings back so many memories. As a youth, we drove over a few times to catch games there. One particular game, we all stopped at one of the girls uncles house in Springfield on our way home. The girls used the bathroom inside while all of us guys just went out behind the barn. The problem there was no one said the fence was electric and guess where I peed. I came back in the house quite shocked and with the front of my pants slightly wet bringing the house down as I became the brunt of many jokes especially from the uncle who immediately said, "Hey, looks like you just had a shocking experience.".

Part of the Mac court lore was the walk through the cemetery. A walk that I took for the last time last November when Trin and I took in our last game there.

The Autzen experience back then started at the Williams bakery building on Franklin Blvd. We would park at the bakery and walk into the stadium with all of the students which added to the lore of the game. I recall many a win walking back with happy students over the walking bridge and then pizza at Track Town before heading home.

In the early 90's, things began to change. Franz bakery in Portland could not compete with Williams so....they bought them out. This had good and bad. The competition declined but it added a new sport......the Portland Trailblazers. At one time, I was given my choice of games in the season. The local manager would call me up when the schedule came out. They awarded me with a full uncut page of Franz Blazer cards that hung on my wall until the old truck stop sold. When I had no room, I don't recall who I gave that too but I am sure Jay would have loved to have it now.

This brought the local manager and I together off of the business relationship and we became very close often taking in games with our sons together. One of my fond memories there was when we took in the 20 year reunion game in 1997. We would always eat in the special sponsor dining hall prior to the game and we ended up sitting right next to the 1979 world champion Blazer team and meeting such greats as Jack Ramsey and Bill Walton. I even had a very lengthy conversation with one of the Blazers as we waited for the start of the game.

Then Franz purchased their other main competition, a company out of Seattle of which I don't recall the name. Now, you might call this a monopoly but for whatever reason, it was not considered this but it did change the playing field drastically. Soon all games were gone from the local standpoint when a new 'numbers' man took over the reigns. He reduced the number of sponsor seats and gave them only to the large corporate clients thus taking both us and the local manager out of the loop. The era of free Duck and Blazer seats came to an abrupt halt.

While I have received a couple of Blazer games since then from other companies, the now cold Franz has never offered me one since then. I asked my latest manager last year if he ever gets to go and he said it was a real rarity. I still stayed close to the 90's manager up until he left the company which called a halt to our weekly lunch or coffee meetings where we would talk sports and kids. I miss those as much as the games.

So, on to more recent days and the Williams bakery on Franklin is now gone. In it's place is the new Mathew Knight Arena affectionately called the Matt. This has changed both of the Duck experiences. No longer able to park at the bakery, Jay and I have tried a few other places only to end up parking somewhere in the new arena neighborhood so that we can experience the walk part of the game and the dinner at Track Town afterwards.

Saturday, we experienced the completion of the change with our first game at the new arena. We were able to park only a short block or two from the stadium which was pretty cool and we walked around the outside of the facility before taking our place in the front of the line a short 1/2 hour before the doors opened.

The security guard looked through our bags early so that we could make a quick entrance as we had General Admission seats and we thought we would have to run to get the best ones. I asked a few of the guards at the door for the best route and was surprised to find that no one knew it. One told us to take the elevator as it was quicker but Jay and I decided it would be the stairs and whoever got up their first would save seats for the other.

The doors opened at noon and Jay and I were off. I lost my cell phone and quickly scooped it up and sprinted after him as fast as grandpa can. We headed to where we were told the stairs were only to find a room that we were told we could not enter. We quickly decided to take the elevator and found we were the only ones. The elevators are manned and we asked the operator to take us up to the General Admission seats. "They are on the other side of the stadium.", he said. I knew better and just said, "Second level please.". We dashed out the door and found the entrance to the best section and as we came in the door, thought we were first. But, Carrie who had found the stairs had beaten us. We quickly found the best seats right up front and settled down for the game.

I took a walk around prior to the game and realized that unlike the Mac, there were no bad seats. I remember a few games at Mac court where my neck hurt from the ducks and twists of finding the best vantage point to watch. All of the seats at the Matt gave great vantage points and the stadium floor loomed large from all.

We enjoyed our game especially since the Ducks kept the Washington Huskies in line only relinquishing the lead twice. The Duck mascot kept us quite amused also as his antics actually caused Carrie to say, "I don't know what is more fun to watch, the game or the duck.".

I actually felt bad for the Husky faithful who were quite vocal at the start of the game but quickly quieted and then seemed downright depressed as the game went out of reach.

The stadium still has it's bugs, however. One of them being the sound system. They ended up turning off all of the outside speakers when they could not get them to stop screeching. And one of the elevators jammed afterwards trapping some people inside and causing a local 911 call. I cringed at the thought of that and wonder if I will ever be able to ride their elevators again.

Afterwards and much to the chagrin of Jayden, we decided to finish off the new experience with a new pizza experience also as we stopped at the parents of one of Carrie's fellow employees at the bank. We stopped at the Roaring Rapids Pizza. It was quite brisk there and we shared a large pepperoni and olive pizza. The pizza tasted great but I ate too much and the pepperoni later burned into the side of my stomach. A mixture of apple cider vinegar and apple juice was needed to put out the flame and allow me rest. I remember thinking that their was no way that I was eating our normal pizza for the Super Bowl party.

All in all, the new experience was good but as you can see has brought up many old remembrances. Nothing in the future is for certain. The only thing we know for sure is that things will change. We cannot dwell on the past but must embrace those new experiences making them future fond memories.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Game

I was driving over to pick up Jay from school, when a call came through. "Hey Lyle, it's Mike....Mike Genna. Hey, I have a friend who has tickets to the game tomorrow in the new Mathew Knight arena. You leave from the Duck store on the bus at 9AM, watch the game and head home at are back by dinner. What do you say?"

"Say that again?", I asked.

Mike repeats it but adds on a bit this time. "The cost is only $60 and I think I can get him to trade for it.".

"I don't know what to say.", I state and Mike quickly returns, "You say Yes.". Mike, like his dad, Vince, who got the local baseball stadium built amongst other things, is a mover and shaker. I work together with him on raising money for the Bend Heroes Foundation sending WW2 vets to Washington DC on the Honor Flights. Mike is a jovial, likable guy who gets things done.

"Can I call you back, Mike?", I asked. "Sure, but don't take too long, these tickets won't last.".

I asked if he could get two and he said that he could probably swing something so I told him I would call him right back.

I called Carrie and asked her if she wanted to go. I know she could not afford it and figured on sending her and Jay. She got immediately excited so, like Mike, I said I told her that I would get right back. I called Mike and asked him to start working on two tickets and he said he would.

When he called back, Jay was in the car and could hear the conversation on the Bluetooth. "I can get you two tickets from a local friend but he wants $120 cash for them.", Mike said. I told him that I thought I would pass and thanked him for all of his trouble.

"Were those tickets to the Washington game?", Jay asked, "I would love to go!". "Yes, but I can't afford that, son.", I said. "Oh, OK.", he replied.

The inner me started talking in my head as we drove to the house. I knew Carrie wanted to do something special with Jay this weekend and I also know her budget as a single mom didn't afford for the game. I knew what I needed to do.

We arrived at the house and found Judy on the computer. I kissed her and whispered in her ear. "Hey, do you mind if I take the kids to the game in Eugene tomorrow". "I guess that means you want me to work.", she replied. I told her she could just remain on standby if they got real busy and she laughed, "Of course, go ahead. Not that you need my permission.".

I went back down to help out with supper and secured three general admission tickets online and called Carrie up to inform her. I told her I would pick her up at 8AM and she said we will leave the surprise for Jay until then. I go in the morning. On an adventure with Carrie and Jayden. We will leave early since I have no idea when the new arena opens up and we want to be there early to get the best seats possible.

Funny how things change with one phone call.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I was out with my grandson, Jayden, this afternoon. We grabbed a snack after school and were just driving around talking when he asked me if I would ever consider starting a card shop up. His latest love is to collect sports cards and so I have recently given him the two boxes full of older collectible cards that I saved for him knowing that one day he would enjoy them.

I told him there was only one card shop in town and asked if he would like to go there. "Sure!", was the quick answer. So, we turned the car around and drove downtown to Pegasus. The realm of Duncan McGeary. Although in certain ways Duncan and I are kindred spirits, we had never officially met person to person and talked before. I see his father twice a week when he comes in with old associates for coffee but in the business world, Duncan does what he does and I do what I do. And that means if we either meet each other there or here since we both spend the majority of our time doing what we need to a business.

I knew I would be able to talk to Duncan a bit if he was not too busy as Jay would never get bored in his shop. There is just too much for a boy like Jay to see. And, indeed, as Duncan and I talked, Jay spent his time peering at the sports card section of his shop. He would have been happy spending the day there, I believe.

We talked about what you would expect us to talk about. Business, service, marketing, survival, and as you would expect, blogging. Duncan is a very consistent blogger who has built a very large following of his daily muses. I told him that I needed to be more consistent in my posts as I fear that I have lost some of that readership. Part of that has been because of my recent diet change which has allowed me more sleep at night. Now, last night, Judy brought up some popcorn while we watched TV and something about it has blocked my sleep so here I am.

Duncan is my kind of businessman. One who understands his product and loves what he is doing. While he has to invest in his business, it is far more than just an investment.

Maybe I can explain myself better with an example. When I first took over the diner, I felt that there was no way that I was going to be able to move on from it's present location without finding a local investor. I did not have any savings, other than the value of my house, and I felt that I would need to have working capital in order to survive.

So, a friend of mine introduced me to a local restaurateur who is quite successful. I remember well that first meeting. He asked me why I wanted to keep Jake's alive. I told him my variety of reasons, none of which made sense to him at all. He looked me in the eye and said, "You should be in business for one reason. And that reason is to make money. Making money is the only way the business and you will survive.".

He sent his business manager over to my place to look over our books and to judge how I run my show. That same business manager showed me how Jake's was far less profitable than their venture so I was not surprised when they informed me that they did not want to go into business with me. But, they offered their services. They would find me a backer and a building for a price.

I remember telling them the proposal that I had been given to be able to stay at Jake's present position for 6 months so that I could get my feet on the ground. They said that the proposal was not good and not to take it as it stood. They looked into a variety of backers for me and proposed us moving the diner to LaPine. I was not happy with that thought as I knew we needed to keep our base here in Bend.

I remember the day that I was sitting in the back room of Jake's with three of my close friends crunching numbers and trying to decide if it was all worth the try. I received a call that afternoon from that other businessman. He told me to take the offer of 6 months. I asked why. He said because he felt it was my best bet. So, I probed deeper and asked what had changed to make him change his mind. He then got angry and told me, "I have been working for you for two weeks and I haven't gotten a " " dime out of you for it. I then made one of the best decisions that I made at the time. I told him thanks for his help but I would need no more.

As I continued to discuss how we could make all of it work, Jack Mangin (the original owner of Pilot Butte Drive In and my business mentor) looked me in the eye and said, "Lyle, if you don't take this chance, you will regret it the rest of your life.". That was the push that set my mind on it's course and led us to where we are today.

That same businessman was in the diner last week. I was not sure if he was there for business or pleasure but I did stop by and said hi. I didn't tell the crew till afterwards as I did not want them to gawk.

I did muse with them on a point afterwards, however. This man is very successful. He owns and is invested in many different ventures and lives up on the hill. He is very wealthy because of it.

But, I told the crew that I am far more richer. For as I walk around the room, I see and talk with people who have become friends and that has far more value than the dollars they bring. I may not have his money, but like Duncan, I believe that there are things that are far more valuable than that.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jaywalkers and Office Max

What do they have in common.....nothing really, they just both became large parts of my day.

To start off with, I headed out after lunch to get Jayden from school. Now, the intersection in front of Jake's at Hwy 20 is a busy intersection. On our side we have cars coming and going from us, the homes behind us, the shopping center in front of us, Hyundai, Subaru, and Chevron. Across the road, two small shopping centers have been built and the road goes back to more houses. Hwy 20 is already a busy road and trying to cross it by foot is treacherous. A couple of years back, a man nearly lost his life trying it.

I pulled up to the intersection and noticed that the traffic was quite heavy. I watched and waited as a string of cars came from the east towards town. I noticed three cars with their turn signals on and realized my chance for moving out into the first lane. As I pulled out, I suddenly noticed that the inside lane had stopped. And then I noticed why. A woman was walking an older man across the road. They were now crossing in front of the blocked traffic in the inside lane. I hit my brakes and stopped to allow this to happen. My initial look was probably shock and then disbelief that someone would attempt such a thing especially as busy as the road was. But my stopping was not good enough for the woman who was walking the man. As she walked in front of the car, she glared at me with angry eyes. Then as she was about to pass, she began screaming at me. I could not tell what she was yelling and raised my hands to let her know that I didn't know what she was angry about. This only seemed to make her more angry and she stopped on the sidewalk and continued to yell. I just shook my head, shrugged, and drove on.

A few hours later, I had my second interesting confrontation. My bookkeeper, Summer, informed me that I needed to pick up a case of paper as we were just about out and she needed to print out some internal documents. So, I stopped down at Office Max thinking that it would be easier to get it there than the busier Costco. I grabbed a cart and as I came in the front door, noticed a stack of paper just inside the door with a sale tag on top. The sign said, "As Advertised, $19.99". Now, I normally pay between 25 and 30 for a case so this looked pretty good. I thought of getting two but figured that the loss of space in the office was not worth the few dollars saved so I just put one case in the cart and rolled towards the check out.

I came up to the counter and placed my Office Max Rewards card and my Credit Card out on the counter. The lady who was quite nice said, "That will be $39.99." I could see the sign across the room so I showed it to her and said, "No, it is $19.99.". She could not change it so she called over either a manager or a lead person who told me that their was small print on the sign that explained itself better and went over and retrieved the sign. He placed it on the counter and showed me the small print that said something like 'For the same as' $19.99 or something like that. On the other side of the sign, it stated that you would receive a $20 gift card from the rewards card program. I showed him the sign sitting right next to another 'as advertised' sign and asked them both if that did not look kind of same. I said, "I think this is kind of misleading.".

The man just shrugged and said, "This is how they market it. That is the way it is.".

So, since I had a Office Max rewards card, I figured I could just deal with it until I realized something. "Well, now that I think of it, I have not received my rebates back from last year. Do you know when they send them out?". He looked at me and stated, "They changed that program last year. On January 1, 2010, they began to give the rebates out online.". "Oh", I said, "So, if I get online, I can get my rebates from last year.". "No, actually only for the last 100 days.", he explained calmly.

Now, I was starting to get a little irked. I can be a strong buyer, I know that. And, in my game, I often have to keep that kind of pressure up to get the best price for the product so that I can sell our product for a reasonable price. But, I also have to be cognisant of two big things. First, my witness. I profess my Christianity so I need to live it the best that I can. And second, the other person is also a potential customer and I want to keep as many of them as happy as possible.

I noticed that the cashier was red in the face and embarrassed. So was I. I looked at her and said, "I am not mad at you. I am angry at the situation, however, and this is not something that you did.". Then I turned to the man and said, "Let me get this straight. You changed your program last January, no one told me about it, and now all of my rebates earned over 100 days are gone?". "Yes", he said, "That is their policy. As a matter of fact, many people are not even messing with the cards anymore as they say it is not worth their time.".

I had had enough. I now had to decide what to do. "I am sorry. I don't agree with their policies and what they have done. I also see that add there as extremely misleading and I think I am going to buy my paper at Costco.". "OK", he said and just wheeled the cart away. He seemed to not care either way.

I drove over to Costco, got my $28 case of paper and was checked out quite quickly.

I don't blame the man for calling the corporate line but I guess I am a bit frustrated over the attitude of it all. Maybe I was not the first that had complained or maybe he thought the price was a fair price in the first place. I know he had no choice in regards to the rules but I guess I was looking for something that he might have lacked in, compassion. I am not sure.

Anyway, on a brighter note, I had a busy day and all of the other transactions and conversations were quite good. I enjoyed talking to many friends and customers. Had a great breakfast with guys from the Model A group. Took Judy out to get her passport and fix up her social security card with her new citizenship info. Both the lady at the county and the one at the Social Security office were so nice. We mused and complimented to ourselves that we had found two very nice government employees. The guys at the bank were super friendly and when I stopped down to Papa Johns for a pizza dinner for Jayden and I to watch a movie with, the lady there was extra nice also.

The trick laugh at the bad experiences. You cannot change how a person acts or reacts. You have that small circle around you that you can control. And that circle is how you act and react. None of us our perfect.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


He showed up on our door step around 10 years or so ago. He would cry like he wanted us to let him in and I would chase him away. He was dirty looking with his tail bent at the end as if it had been broken at one time or another.

Now we had taken in strays a time or two but always young strays. Judy agreed that this dirty mangy crooked tailed feline was better off outside. I warned her not to feed him but....well, Judy could just not do that one. We decided that we had ourselves an 'outside' cat. Judy said, "There is no way that I am letting this filthy cat inside.".

I was not surprised a month or so later, to walk into my bedroom and find him laying in the middle of our bed. I picked him up and deposited him outside the door. The next day, he was back but before I could extract him, Judy informed me that Maxwell was allowed inside now......he had a name making him an official member of the clan.

It seemed that Trinity had taken a liking to the persistent cat and had gone out and purchased some dry cat cleaner and had given him a bath of sorts.

While Maxwell was his official name, it became Max for short and he soon took over the house. When he needed food, Max would let you know. When he wanted water (the dish has to be to the top), Max would let you know. When he wanted out (no matter what the hour), Max would let you know. When he wanted back in, Max would sound off loud enough for you to hear.

To save our furniture, I had Max declawed in the front, leaving his back claws as he would never try to sharpen them on the couch. We also had him fixed. Normally, these types of things would make a cat more domestic.....more inside. But, not Max. Even without front claws he showed that he could easily leap up and over six foot fences using his back claws. He also remained just as skilled at mousing. His catches are always laid out just outside the door as tokens of his love for us. It is my job to dispose of these 'presents' and on many a summer morn have found as many as two laying side by side beyond the entrance.

He also never lost a cat fight, learning to use his back claws for offensive strikes. He would often come in with battle scars but with a stern triumphant look on his face. I once found him trapping a cat much larger than him in the corner of our yard. This was his territory and the other cat needed to be taught that lesson.

Max is just as persistent in his being lovable. In the morning, when he wants to be petted, he will crawl up next to you and stare at you. He has learned that if he utters a 'meow', he gets tossed so he just stares. Then he edges closer and closer. Soon, his head is close to your hand. If the result is not what he wants, he is soon nudging underneath your hand, sliding his head into a position for you to stroke it. "I am Max. You belong to me and I want to be petted now.".

Our grandson Jayden has an allergy to cats. While it is not a big one, it sometimes causes him some grief. But, to him, Max can do no wrong and he has decided that Max is his cat.

A war started up between us a few months back. With my new diet, I have been able to sleep better so when Max informed me one night that he wanted to go outside, I ignored him. His meows got larger until I picked him up and gave him a toss out the door.

A few days later, the same scenario occurred. This time, I was more persistent and slapped his butt a bit as he was extracted. With a large yowl, he turned and glared at me as if to say, "This is not over.".

At around the same time on many nights (around 3AM), Max would come into the room and let us know he was there. If we ignored him, the sounds became louder. I would swing my foot out of the bed and he would yell and run, normally not coming back. I felt that I was beginning to win the battles.

Tonight, he came into the room and woke us both out of sound sleeps. I had been up late watching a movie and when I could not sleep, had soaked in the hot tub for a bit, getting to sleep around 1:30. So, at 3, Max was not accepted well. Judy tried shushing him but Max wanted our undivided attention.

So, I swung my foot out and he, as expected, ran out the door with a loud and demonstrative "Meow". Ten minutes later, he was back.

Walking back and forth in front of the bed, his voice became louder until I leapt out of bed, catching him off guard as he scurried away and down the stairs. I climbed back into bed thinking that maybe I might have won this skirmish but picking up one of my slippers for good measure.

Sure enough, minutes later, he walked proudly in the door and announced himself. I sat up quickly, took aim, and flung the shoe just by his head. With a jump and a yowl, he sprinted out and down the stairs.

For measure, I picked up the other slipper. I was sure he would be back so I sat up in the bed and waited. 4PM came and no Max. I got out of bed and looked down the stairs.

Confident of my victory, I placed the slippers in their place and laid my head back down on the pillow triumphantly. But now, I was wide awake. I tossed and turned but to no avail. So, now I am up with slippers on my feet to tell you this tale.

It is now nearly 5:30. In retrospect, it might have been wiser to just have let him out. But here I type with the night nearly over and only a slight 1 1/2 hours of rest. Tonight, I have won the battle. But, I fear, Max may have won the war.