Friday, December 24, 2010

Nursing Homes

One day, many of us might end up in one. When we can no longer take care of ourselves and it becomes a burden for our children to. So, with something so important, why is there no rating systems in place for one like their is for a good restaurant....or a good motel? After a recent visit to two of our local more veteran options, I am left with the hope that my children will put deep thought into which one that I am left at if I am not able to take care of myself in my later years.

Zin, Red, and I went to visit a couple of the Band of Brothers who have been recently placed in such homes by the VA for various reasons. Harmony House and Pilot Butte. We all came away with similar thoughts afterwards so I went online to see if either one had ratings. What I found was interesting. Their seemed to be two types of ratings. One was like you would find a mortgage company online. That is really not a rating but an ability for a particular home to grab you before another other words, a money thing. The other seemed to be a rating based upon either a health inspection or a formula based upon how many staff their was to how many people interned.

One cannot find ratings based upon how well the customer is treated. I know that it is important that the nursing aspect is there but of equal or even more important, is how well the customer is treated and how friendly or how loving is the staff.

If you were looking at that health rating, Pilot Butte was given four stars to Harmony House's three. But, it was in the other aspect that I saw the seemingly huge difference.

Both of them lacked for creature comforts. A sterile, hospital like atmosphere in the rooms with cheap bedding on the beds and small TVs. At least in Harmony, each bed had one but I wondered how that went if their were two guys in a room with hearing problems. Would the man with the loudest TV win? In Pilot Butte, their seemed to be a very small TV in each room.

The huge difference that I witnessed from our visit was the difference in staff and atmosphere. We walked into Harmony House first. The first thing we noticed was staff interacting with people along with families visiting their loved ones. We were greeted by a very friendly female voice who quickly realized who we were from our Band of Brothers jackets.

"Hi!", she greeted us with a smile, "He is just to the left down three doors and is waiting for you guys. We heard you were going to come by and visit with him." I looked around and saw staff members with smiles on their faces interacting with seniors, family, and other staff members. They seemed to be happy which in turn flows down to make the families and seniors happier.

We were chatting with our friend, Len, when a very pretty lady walked in the door. "Who is our new resident?", she cooed. Now, I swear I heard Red say that he wished he was so I piped up, saying, "Here he is" as I pointed to Red, "And the nurse says that he is suppose to be in bed, but we cannot get him to go there.". With a smile on her face, she began to talk with Red who quickly informed her that he was not the patient to the laughs of Len, Red, and myself.

The lady turned out to be the event coordinator for the house and it certainly looked like they had picked the right person. She seemed to glow with friendliness. As we left, I took an even more in depth look around wondering what it was like for the seniors there. How happy were they? This is the end of their life. How well are we treating them? If my visuals were right, this home seemed to be right up on the hospitality line.

So, then we went to Pilot Butte. Now, they are the one that has the higher health rating and based upon that, would be one that many would chose first.

So, I made it a point to look for the other things. We were greeted by what seemed to be the director who made his office by the door as a sort of sentry. There was no smiling face and we were not allowed to pass without him checking to see if our friend, Dale, was actually in his room. He directed one of his staff to lead us to the room and as I walked to Dale's room, I looked around. The staff seemed to be in business first mode. Nurses seemed to be buzzing around doing their job but there was a very large difference in the hospitality angle. I saw few smiling faces . I saw nurses working hard doing their job but very little interaction. I saw seniors sitting in their rooms staring at walls.

Now, there is no doubt in my mind that the Pilot Butte center was doing the best nursing part of the job. But, in my humble opinion, Harmony House was far better in the well being aspect. And is that not of equal or more importance?

Maybe someone needs to set up a site for senior homes where someone goes out to the various ones and rates them for the important things. Comfort, cheeriness, friendliness, and mind interactions.

And equally important, when we make these hard decisions for our loved ones, those things should be in the forefront of our decisions.

This holiday season, take the time to visit one of these seniors who are in one of the various homes in our community. Make it a point to make that time a merry happy time. Remember, you might be there yourself one day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


The past Thanksgiving was very successful with around 470 seniors served in less than five hours. It was, however, a bit too successful and shortly afterwards, I began writing down ideas for how to make it better next year. The first thing that I wrote was that we needed to focus more next year reducing the hourly numbers so that we can better serve the seniors. I worried as I looked at my notes knowing that this meant that some seniors would be left out.

As I thought about that dilemma, I opened my email and was surprised by an email from the director of the Central Oregon Council on Aging. She asked me if I would be interested in possibly helping out her group in the future. It was like a light bulb in my head.

We set up a time to meet and sat down at the counter the other day. I shared with her my desire to help out as many seniors as we possibly could next year and my thoughts regarding our limitations in our present building. Between us we began to formulate a plan moving the existing dinner to the Bend Senior Center and even using Meals on Wheels to expand the delivery.

Our desire is to turn the Senior Center into a sort of resort for the day for Seniors who are without family and to continue to reach out to other seniors who for whatever reason cannot get out and enjoy our company.

She talked of the possibility of getting a big screen TV and setting it up in the lounge room for ones who wanted to just get together and watch the football games while they munched on food or drank coffee.

I know that there will be barriers to jump but I can just see it in my head and it excites me. Imagine a place where seniors who for whatever reason are away from others in their family creating one large family to hang out with and enjoy each others company.

They are greeted as family when they walk in the door. Can eat a casual meal in the dining room while serenaded by local singers. Or play pool in the rec room Or read a book in the library Or watch a football game in the lounge with other fans. All in one large house with one giant family.

Or a senior who cannot get out of his house having a friendly face meet him at his own doorstep with a warm meal and a smile. Maybe even stop in for a bit and watch the game with them or just sit with them while they eat.

This event started the first year that we moved into our new building. We are on our sixth year. The first year, we served around 250 or so. This year, 470. It all began as an extension of something Jimmy, our kitchen manager, did at his old restaurant in California years ago. It has become our biggest outreach focus of the year.

I will try to keep you abreast of developments but needless to say, it has my mind a bit occupied. And I have to wait nearly a year to hopefully see our excited ideas come to fruition.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mrs Collister

I haven't been posting much lately and there has been good reason.....I am sleeping at night. Most of my posts come at this time because frankly, I am just too busy to post during the day. But, tonight I awoke with an experience in my head that stayed with me so I am up writing it down so that I can go back to sleep.

Trin and I went to a basketball game over in Eugene on Thursday. One of the last games in Mac court. I will miss that place. We parked in our usual spot and walked through the cemetery to the court. That is just one of the experiences that I will always remember. Since I was a youth, I have always walked through that cemetery on my way to the games. It is like its own part of the experience.

The game was great. The young team seemed to take on the persona of their new coach who seemed to orchestrate them from the sidelines. They were down by 20 at the half but chipped away all of the second half only to lose by 3. But, it was to the number 8 team in the nation so we all left feeling pretty good about them.

The next morning, we drove up to Albany. I dropped Trin off at the mall and drove to a small church where they were having the service for Frances Collister. I grew up with some of her daughters and met one of the daughters (Diana) husbands, Mark Purkey this last summer along with her two youngest sons. I enjoyed their company one of the days of the old Gilchrist reunion and a few days later, they all stopped into the diner and brought Mrs. Collister with them.

I remember her from my youth as being a friendly caring person but I did not really know her that well. I asked my mom about her and she said she did not know her that well as they were in different circles. I knew that they both were a part of the Christian Women's Association and I mused how I never realized that the women had circles. It makes sense, however, as things just don't change.

I was immediately taken by her when she came in to see me. Her spirit shown like few I have seen before. I knew that she had been struggling with cancer but she did not show any signs of it. A friendly, loving, caring nature seemed to emanate from her. The one real person to person experience of our lives had left a strong impression on me.

So, I drove the few miles north to support her family and ended up being filled from the experience. I listened to stories of her and photos of her life and as I sat in my spot over in the back of the room felt so honored to be able to share this experience. One told of her childhood where she was given a dime and bought flower seeds with it thus starting her love for flowers. In my head, the song 'Where have all the flowers gone' seemed to germinate from the story.

As I listened, I remembered my visit with her when she came in to the diner with her family and the stories only seemed to amplify the feeling that I had about her then. I only wished that I could have known her better.

Your life here on earth becomes your legacy for the future. Mrs. Collister left a very profound legacy. One that stays with me in the middle of the night. What will my life show of me when I am gone? What will they remember of me?

What will your legacy be?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Blaming the Dems

Now, I have no love for most of the Democrat political people but I don't believe in blaming them for everything. This just happened.

A man came in and wanted to place an order to go. He wanted to take the menu back out to the car to study it. First off, I could tell that he really didn't like being around people so I gave him the menu and he started back out. Then he stopped and asked me, "I have a card for a free meal. If I don't use up the $10, do you give me the change.". My reply was simple, "No, it is for a free meal not $10". He shrugged and left and I stuck around as I figured that he might be a handful when he returned.

So, he returned and ordered a burger. Then he asked to have the burger done medium rare. "I am sorry sir, but I cannot cook the burger medium rare. I need to fully cook the burger.".

He looked at me and his eyes seem to change. Kind of 'fire in the eyes' look. I continued, "If I under cook your ground beef and you get sick from it, I am the person responsible. It has been determined that all ground beef needs to be cooked.".

"It's the damned Democrats in Congress doing it to us again.", He blurted out.

With a smile, I returned. "No, it is not the Democrats in congress. It is the Health Department in Bend.".

With that, I smiled and left. I will have to check with Trin who was the cashier to see if he had any more words of wisdom for her.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Wow, the day is only a week away. It seems this year is flying by. Our reservation list is nearly full but every hour still has a spot or two because of cancellations. I spent much of yesterday insuring that the larger reservations were indeed seniors and not just large families. Our goal with this event is to be the family for seniors who don't have family around. I think, for the most part, we are getting that message out.

Now, we are looking for shut ins. So, if you know anyone that might fit in that category or who cannot afford the meal, please let us know. We don't wish anyone to be left out.

I noticed while looking at the reservation list that one couple had paid for their delivery ahead of time. When I quizzed the cashier, he told me that the last time the were delivered to, the delivery man said that he was covering the cost and they wanted to beat him to it. That would be Al, from Exquisite Hardware Floors, who will once again be one of our delivery people. He decided that he was going to cover the cost of all of his deliveries as a special holiday treat from him.

This year, we have decided to donate our tips and extra money to the Family Access Network. This awesome organization helps out families that are struggling with the specific goal to keep the children of that family in school thus assisting them to make their future life better to where they can better fend for themselves and not need such assistance. So, it sort of handles two problems with one hit. We can help out the disadvantaged and help them to help themselves in the future. Our only request is that we want to know specifically where the money will go and not to just the general fund. I have been assured that will happen and since I know both Kristi Miller (the head of FAN) and Cynthia Jorgensen (The FAN advocate), I feel pretty confident that this will be the case.

We have added a new face to our list of entertainers this year also. Dave Reno is a singer songwriter who moved to the area from Alaska and sang to the Band of Brothers a couple of weeks ago. He is a very good man and I look forward to his interaction with the seniors. This year also, we have the return of the Singing Sosas who were our very first entertainers. I have changed one thing, however, in that the singers will stop at the half hour so that we can start to make ready for the next hour or next shift of seniors. In the past, when the entertainment has been very good, the seniors tend to stay longer (and who can blame them) thus making it harder to sit the next group.

This event while being the biggest and hardest to coordinate has become the most fulfilling and truly the biggest blessing of our year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day

I recall in the earlier days of the truck stop that I worked every Veterans day. Kim used to have a standing joke about it. Veterans day was the day all of us vets worked so the guys who stayed home and got government jobs could take the day off.

The week started early Monday for me as I met up with the district rep for the Oregon Restaurant Association. We discussed quite a few things such as the minimum wage law and how it adversely affects the workers that it should be meant to help. Forcing restaurants to give wages to the tipped employees in the front of the house means we have to hold back on the wages deserved in the back of the house until we know how much the forced raises affect the business. It ends up giving raises to the highest paid employees forcing the restaurants to hold back on the others simply because they cannot raise their menu prices high enough to compensate for all.

Getting ready for the Band of Brothers was stressful. Veterans day week brings many events and I wanted to insure that all of them were addressed to the group. I put together a stack of notes to try and insure that I didn't miss anything. A singer songwriter out of Alaska named Dave Reno showed up to entertain the vets. He brought his own sound equipment that we decided to use instead of ours. Although the equipment worked well for him, it did not do so well for our voices and I think that allot of what was spoken was not heard by all.

Dave did a great job but some of the vets (maybe because of the sound equip?) did not listen and instead talked which frustrated others who wanted to listen. I apologised to Dave afterwards and he laughed and said that he was used to it. He had a great voice and had a very fitting song called 'Welcome Home'.

Cody Standiford from Greg Walden's office showed up and I let him address the group who had plenty of questions for him. I found out that Cody was the nephew of Brian Standiford who used to have a auto shop out on American Loop. I told him that I used to take all of my auto work out there to him as I knew his shop manager, John Price.

The announcements came and their were so many of them that I could not keep them all in balance and ended up missing two or three. The meeting finished up around 12:30 and I helped reset the room for our regular customers while sitting down for a bite to eat with Judy.

I tried to get a short rest in the afternoon but their were too many things going on and before I knew, it was time for poker. Richard and I had supper in the back room before hand and talked strategy on getting the float trailer ready for the parade on Thursday. Poker started and I really enjoyed the evening. I say that because I won! We stared off with around 22 players. I really enjoy the strategy of poker. Most of it is just sheer luck but there is a certain amount that becomes skill. Knowing where you are on the table, reading others, and deciding when to bet and when to fold. I ended up going home around 9PM.

Tuesday was an equally busy day with Jimmy and I donating a meal to Hospice House in the afternoon. Jimmy had fixed them Turkey and Dressing with Turkey gravy. It went over well and was well received.

I wanted to get Judy's car serviced before she goes over to the coast with Trin later in the week so I called Hyundai up and found to my surprise and delight that Brian Standiford now works there right in front of us. Brian shared with me that John was working for Smolich also just down the street.

We picked up her car and I took a quick rest before picking up Jay and taking him to try outs for the Summit High developmental basketball team. He played for Bend High last year but will be going to Summit and wanted to join with friends there. He had not done well on Monday and I wanted to help encourage him to make the cut that evening. He was the last name on the list at the end of the night so we knew he would have his work cut out for him on Wednesday to make the team.

Wednesday brought cold, snow, and preparations for the float trailer. One of the vets (Red) showed up to help Richard and myself. I brought out one of our dishwashers who is handy to help and while Richard and him put up the sides, Red and I decorated. We soon finished and went back inside to warm up.

A quick lunch and I was off to pick up Jay from school. Getting into Cascade can be such a chore. I could see Jay standing in front of the school so I decided to bypass the line as I had seen many others do and expected to quickly swoop in and pick him up and be gone before the rush. But, as I got passed the first group, I realized my idea was wrong. I could not get in as others were coming out and I was sticking out blocking them. I quickly turned around and then realized that the line was now way back two blocks or so. I turned off a side road and walked in. Jay and I walked back to the car and know I discovered yet another problem. The side road was the road the buses came out of and I was to be stuck behind a line of buses who were attempting to get out on the road that was blocked by cars just trying to leave. Fortunately, Jay knew that the road the other direction lead out through a sub division that later lead back to the road. It was quite a distance but as we ended up back close to the school, I noted that the buses were still trying to get out.

We picked up Jay's basketball shoes and went back to the house for a bit before his first Cascade basketball game. I worked on the car getting it ready for the parade while we waited for the game. I was suppose to help Jim deliver the cakes for the Marine Corp Birthday Ball but Jimmy called me and told me he could handle it himself which I was very grateful for. I got Jay to his game and we watched as his team seemed to handle the St Francis School team with Jay playing very well, scoring, blocking shots, and getting rebounds. We had to pull him right at the beginning of the fourth quarter so that he could get up to Summit for the final day of try outs there. I stayed behind to watch the rest of the game. Without Jay, the other team soon caught up but one of Jay's old buddies from first grade iced the game with two free throws at the end.

Trin and I grabbed a quick supper at Jakes and drove up to Summit to support Jay. He seemed to be doing well but I felt that the coaches pretty much had made most of their decisions and we were not sure if he would make the team or not. Carrie and Trin were very nervous as we waited for the list to be posted. Jay made the B teams list and all were relieved.

So, that brings us to today. The weather is suppose to be cold but clear. I get up in a couple of hours to help put out the flags on Wall Street. Then at nine, vets will muster down at Jakes and we will need to get them shuttled down to Harmen park for the parade that begins at 11. Most of the brothers will be all together in three or four groups. The marines will lead our particular part of the parade with WWII vets making ready for the honor flights to Washington followed by in order: Walking WWII vets, Dottie Dolan (wife of Mike Dolan who first marched down Wall st in 1999 with a flag when the city fathers would not allow a parade) driven by Trin, my car, the float pulled by Richard which will carry all the other Band of Brother members, and ending with Toys for Tots and more Marines.

I think it fitting that in this year of a major milestone for the Marine Corp that we let them have the point and the rear.

Later on in the day, we will feed COVO house which is a halfway house for homeless vets. All in all, it should be a very good day.

Happy Veterans Day!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Multnomah County

I find it very interesting to note that this county controls the entire state. So, how goes Multnomah County, so goes Oregon. Now, that should not be a problem, should it. The problem is the seemingly huge difference in how that county thinks to all of the rest of us.

Time after time, the voters of most of the state vote the opposite of the ones in this county. But, their sheer numbers alone cancel out all of our votes. It has happened in Presidential elections and earlier this year in two tax initiatives. Back in January, Prop 66 and 67 were carried by that county. If you took the combined votes of the rest of us, it would have been defeated.

No stark a contrast has their been in this issue than just this week. Former Gov Kitzhaber defeated Chris Dudley. But, if you look at the numbers outside of Multnomah, Mr. Dudley would have won by over 100,000 votes! Just check out the Oregonians website for the results. Kitzhaber won over all by around 13,ooo votes. But in Multnomah county, he won by over 116,000 thus cancelling out all the rest of the states votes.

Wikipedia has a web page that I find very interesting. Besides the fact that this county is by far the largest per capita in the state, it's political leanings started to change back in the 1980's. Now, it has always been a Democrat controlled county but something major changed back then and the numbers of the control of the Democrats have increased since then to where now, the Democrats outnumber the Republicans by nearly four fold.

Somehow, this needs to be addressed. Otherwise, the wide expanse of this great state will begin to get bitter. Oregonians, outside of this county are for the most part fiercely independent. As the political environment and the thoughts of how to best run our state (and our country for that matter) become more polarized, I wonder just how long it will be before the rest of the state begins to fight back.

Furthermore, now that this county and it's opposite thinking center realizes just how much control they have of us all, how soon will it be before they begin to control us all with their agendas. Or has this already happened. So goes Multomah County, so goes Oregon.

I fear we have lost our voice.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Catering has been a side job of ours ever since we moved to our new location nearly five years ago. I originally offered Jim to set up his own business out of our kitchen but he did not want the headache of the responsibility for it. He was happy to just work it from his position. So, we started doing various jobs.

It also allowed us one more venue to give back to the community by assisting organizations with an 'at cost' cater job. Over the years, we have assisted quite a variety without a hitch. But that came to an end on Tuesday and I now must reevaluate my position a bit.

We did a cater for a local youth organization at Shevlin Park. We were asked to provide a meal that would be similar to what they would serve at the county fair. Jim cooked up the following: BBQ beef sandwiches, baked beans, corn on the cob, and salad. Ice tea, lemonade, coffee, and tea were provided along with three large cakes, Jimmy's famous Chocolate Chocolate, Lemon, and a very nice Chocolate Raspberry. Jimmy spent quite a few donated hours preparing and getting others to help out such as linen from Airmark who does ours. Paper plates were decided upon to keep the cost down and supposedly to also keep with the theme. The thought process was over the past few years, they have always done fancy dinners that were expensive for their donors and with the economy as it is, they decided to make everything more affordable.

Jim became a bit stressed just before the event when he could not get a hold of the coordinators to answer his last minute questions but on the day of the event, he was ready and prepared all of the items, loaded up two cars and our trailer and we arrived two hours before the event and began to set up.

The first glitch was that they had brought plates and silverware so our paper plates and plastic silver were put to the side. Jim told of his concern. They were not our plates and they were probably cold thus cooling off the food. Originally, one of the women there wanted us to relinquish one of the ovens but Jim refused as we needed to keep our food at the proper temperature. They decided they would soak their plates in hot water and figured their silverware to be OK. I had to run back to the shop to get some items forgotten or needed and arrived back just before the food was served.

It was my understanding that we were to bring the food and they would do the serving and the clean up. We soon discovered we would need to get involved in both. That did not bother me or Jim as we wanted to help out. I did, however, look for the customary 'thank you' of which I had the words ready to direct it to Jim who had put so many hours of his own into the event. When this did not happen, I admit that I was a bit miffed but we did our job, cleaned up, and then held over the crew back at the shop (of which I did not add to the bill) to help out with the unloading and final clean up.

I discussed the two areas of frustration with Jimmy the next morning and decided to critique the event with the coordinator when I got a call saying that a someone had called the youth organization and complained that a few people had gotten sick in the middle of the night. Now, first off that is a bit soon for food poisoning, but the initial complaint hit me hard and I felt my blood pressure go up and my own stomach started to churn. I sat back, closed my eyes, and relaxed out of the obvious panic attack that was ensuing. I quickly assessed the situation, none of my crew was sick, nor was Jim or I, or anyone that I knew from the youth organization. If it was a food born thing, we all should have been affected since the food was all the same.

I wondered if it was the richness of the food since I remembered dipping corn on the cob in heated butter and knew that the pulled pot roast was a very rich blend. Then someone brought the plates and silver to my attention. Normally if we provide something like that, we insure they are sanitized before use. They merely soaked them in hot water and did nothing to the silver.

I critiqued this with the youth organization's coordinator on Friday morning and he told me that the complaints were a non-issue and a very isolated one. So, I handed him his bill and we both left happy.

I was getting ready for my doctors appointment that afternoon, when I received the call from the health department. Someone had called them, refused to give their name (stating they were just a concerned citizen), and claimed that many people had become deathly sick after eating Jake's food on Tuesday night at at catered event. I discussed as much as I could with him and gave him Jim's cell phone in case he wanted to talk to Jim. The investigator was our normal officer and he knew pretty much how we prepare but asked the standard questions that he needed to. He said that it was purely a complaint at this stage and that no one had gone to a doctor and found anything that pointed to food poisoning. I told him of my frustration to the point of being pointed to however and whomever called him would undoubtedly be telling all of her friends. He told me not to worry about it and that if he needed to, he would be in contact on Monday. I assumed that a contact Monday would come from either more complaints or some sort of verification that something had been contracted. We discussed the plates and silverware and although he told me that we were not responsible for them, he did voice his concern over the fact that he also could not control that aspect of some events.

While I can't let this stop me from helping out where I can, I do need to re look at how we do those events. For one thing, we can not allow the other party or any other party to bring in items that might compromise us or allow fingers to be pointed in our direction when things like this happen. I know Jim was on top of things that day. I know the hots were hot and the colds were cold. I just wish that 'concerned citizen' would have called me and we could have gone over some of that without her just 'calling in the police' and I wish she would have at least given them her name. I would love to discuss this with her but.....

Away from this point, as I stated I was getting ready for a doctor appointment. It was my quarterly skin cancer assessment. I had some pre-cancer burned off of my face and four biopsies taken; three on my left shoulder and one on my left ankle. Margo, my saint doctor who has found the melanoma before it dropped down, said that we will remain positive and that she will see me in three months. But, she also told me that the normal woman who does the biopsies is on vacation so it might take a bit longer than normal so don't worry if I don't hear from her next week with an all clear.

So now I wait. Other than my ankle being a bit swollen and sore and my pride being a bit hurt from that 'concerned' citizen, I am doing OK. Business is doing well, the Ducks are winning, my family is all healthy and close by, and so life is good. Speaking of business, Sundays are usually the most busy day of the week so I best get back to sleep and get some rest.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Now, I didn't eat any chips at all last night, so why am I awake? Who knows.

Saturday was a good day. It started off watching Jay play soccer. I love watching him play in sports. He was put in goal to start off the game and shortly after the start, the other team got a break away. They came quickly at the goal and the shot was from feet in front of him, not allowing for any blocks. His team quickly made up the score and a defensive battle ensued. Midway through the second half, Jay was placed back in the goal. He blocked two or three very close goals while his counter part did the same. But, with only seconds left, the other team got another break away and with blinding speed, shot the goal past his outstretched hand. At first, he took the loss on his shoulders but with his coaches help, made the realization that no one could have blocked either goal.

Business was brisk leaving little time to do anything other than get food out, tables clean, coffee poured, and people greeted not in that order. Judy showed up for much needed help and before we knew it, it was time for us to go to our friend, Bob Maxwell's surprise 90th birthday party. I never cease to be amazed by Bob. He is the only living Medal of Honor recipient living in Oregon, but is also one of the most humble men that I know. Representative Gene Whisnet showed up and I got to meet and visit with him but the most impacting time for me was when Bob's family ask Judy and I to join them in Bob's pictures taken to remember his birthday. I remember feeling so unworthy but so warm by that reception.

We left the party as Trin needed to go to work leaving Jay alone at the house. That and I needed to secure the swamp cooler hearing that the next couple of days might bring some chilly temperatures.

That done, I joined Jay to watch as Missouri beat up on Oklahoma and we rejoiced with the thought of Oregon bouncing to the top of the BCS.....that is until I started looking at the figures and did my own analysis that Auburn will probably take the top spot away from them. With Auburn beating the third best defense in the nation, the computers will be shooting them up and with LSU and Oklahoma out of the way, they (Auburn) will probably jump Boise State in the other polls due to their inactivity. Trin grumbled as I showed her my thoughts. Once again, Oregon will lead all of the polls taken from human analysis but will drop in the BCS because of random machine numbers on programs made by men who probably don't even know what a spread offense is. Oh well, what matters is two things, who is at the top two on December 5th and who wins in the championship.

Who is the best team in the nation? What do you and Whitey think, Kina? Are you as blinded by your present closeness to Boise as my brother, Rudy, is who now lives in Idaho. Are you green with envy or blue from being overlooked? I am enjoying this football season.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A busy week

My new diet has allowed me to sleep better and thus reduces my time on the computer which is why my posts have also reduced. But, after eating a few chips while watching a game with my grandson, Jay last night, I find my blood sugar level to be up a bit tonight and that keeps me awake. One night slip is OK but I did it two nights in a row. I need to be more diligent there for my own good.

Monday, I arrived at work to find the travelling veterans center parked across from the front area of our parking lot. I walked over and thanked them asking how long they would be there and letting them know that they can come in and address the vets during the meeting. We were in the middle of the meeting and I was talking over an issue with one of the guys when I was called up to the front. The guys from the vet center awarded us with a plaque of appreciation for the work that we do for veterans in the area. The award came from them and the Dept of Veterans Affairs. This is one that I will cherish. Monday night, after winning the previous week, I could not get off of the ground in poker. I was the second one out and ended up cleaning up and getting caught up on some paper work while the others played.

Tuesday, Judy and I drove up to the Columbia gorge area. The plan was to stay at McMinnimans in Troutdale for a food show on Wednesday. We drove over to the Washington side and hiked up Beacon Rock. If you ever get the chance to hike this one, you should. While it was a bit daunting at 850 feet, the hike was not really that bad going up. Coming down, was a bit different, however. My surgery knee started to hurt and so I began to favor the other knee. Before I was down all the way, both knees started to talk to me a bit. I will do this one again, however. We finished off the day driving the waterfall road east of Troutdale. We arrived at the hotel around 5 or so. The hotel was made from a deserted poor farm and was very interesting. The room was decorated with the story of it's inhabitant, in our case a man who was Stonewall Jackson's nephew. The rooms there have no TV and the bathrooms are common ones. I found the silence to be very loud causing the ringing in my ears that I don't normally notice to scream at me a bit. I fortunately found a fan in the wardrobe that allowed us the white noise needed for both of us to get a good nights sleep. I did awake in the middle of the night and take a bathroom break. While in the bathroom alone a breeze came through the room. Probably 10 to 20 seconds in length, it was very eiry(sp). I froze as it felt as if someone had opened the door to the room and was looking around. After the breeze stopped so did the feeling and I went about my business. As I was washing my hands, however, I noticed the window was open. The air was still but what must have happened was a small breeze wrapped around the building coming in that same window. Judy's reading of haunts in the area earlier before we retired did flash through my mind.

Wednesday, we drove in to the food show. While we did not find it to be anything great, we did get to meet Conner Doren from Bend and his mom. Conner was the young man who flies kites indoors and was close to the finals in the TV show, America's got talent. His mom took a picture of us with Conner and they promised to stop in and see us with it. His mom is such a nice lady and Conner's autism if far more evident in person than on TV. It was easy to see how it allows him to focus so well at his kite flying which is so cool to watch. We stopped at Sandy River Marketing on the way home to pick up a jacket that will be the prototype for ones to be sold to the Band of Brothers with the proceeds going to the Honor Flights of Eastern Oregon where WW2 vets will be flown to Washington DC. Upon arriving back in Bend, I drove one of our old cars down to what might just be our last car show of the season. It was a nice warm night and I ended up working the floor with the crew till nearly 8.

Thursday was a day of catch up from the two days prior. I honestly don't recall any major events from the day but as usual, it went by fast and soon it was time to go home and make ready for the big game. Trin and I set up in the TV room and my friends, Frank and Dave showed up to join us just before kick off along with Carrie. Jay had basketball practice but joined us for the second half. With a full room, I had the window opened and I am sure the hooping and hollering could be heard from a distant around our house as all had a very good time watching the Ducks tear apart a good UCLA team. I grumbled every time I noticed the 2 next to the Ducks on the scoreboard. I am not a fan of the BCS system.
Friday was spent between a busy floor and continuing to attempt to get caught up from the two lost days. As I struggled with a letter that needed to be written, One of the cooks came in to let me know that the fan in the kitchen was not working. I quickly scrambled up on the roof to discover the fan belt had broken. Now, I am always ready in these matters with a back up motor and fan belt always on hand. I yelled down to Jimmy to get the back up belt and saw that he could not find it. We both looked frantically through the room. I had left it hanging from a chrome shelf right by my desk. When I could not find it, I jumped in my rig and headed for the local NAPA store. Traffic seemed to be much more heavier than normal which added to my frustration. I arrived at NAPA and stood in line. The person there looked up on the computer and said, "We have one in stock.". I told him I would take it and he just kept typing on the computer. He turned to a guy and said something about Madras. I told him that I was in a bit of a hurry and he said that he could have the part later that stock meant they had Madras. I shot out the door and entered the heavy traffic again this time to the closest parts store that I could think of down on Reed Mkt Road. I called the diner and had them switch off the fryers as they would be the item giving off the most heat. They told me the rooms were beginning to fill up with smoke so I had them open up a couple of doors. At this parts store, they found a belt that was close to the one that I needed so I took it and returned to the diner, scrambled back up on the roof and struggled putting it back on. It was just slightly shorter than the other and I urged the wheel on the fan to help me out hoping that I would not have to do any adjustments. On the fourth or fifth attempt, the belt popped into place and I breathed a sigh of relief as the fan took off again, clearing out the room below. I returned to my paperwork and the letter that I was working on. That letter was one attempting to assist one of our employees who I felt was being unreasonably garnished by a organization in Idaho. I faxed off my response, finished up my other paperwork, drove out and picked up Jay from school, and then returned to Jakes to assist them with dinner. I noticed a paper in the fax machine and was thrilled to find that Idaho had reconsidered and had put a stay on the garnishment. I called the employee with the good news before heading home with my own supper.

Another week gone by, I am now ready for a hopefully brisk weekend and then we can start it all over again. I must begin to prepare for Thanksgiving next week and we have a rather large cater job for a charity on Tuesday so I can already see that it will be a busy one. But, as I have said before, this is the life that I chose and I do love least most of the time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

World Series of Holdem for Habitat

A few years back, Habitat asked me to have a special tourney that fall. I am not sure the need or the reason, but we decided to take a spin off of the large poker tourney on TV and created our own World Series of Poker. This would be a two night event. The first night to allow last minute players who did not know of our weekly tourney or who had not had much of a chance to play to qualify with all of the previous winners of the weekly event for the main event on the second day.

The event was a success so we decided to have it at the same time every year and began setting up rules for entry into the main event. There became four ways to qualify: 1. To win one of the previous weekly events. 2. Every weekly event would give points to the people who made the final table and the top ten point people at the end of the year would qualify. 3. If a person played most every week, we qualified him just because of his donations to the cause. 4. The last minute qualifiers.

This years event qualified 40 players and we were able to secure some very nice prizes from not only local businesses but from ones that we have begun a relationship with over at the coast. Local businesses such as the Chevron station in front of us, Lava Lanes, Edge barbershop, Missing Link golf, Transfix Transmission service, JC Pennys, and my buddy Frank's Printer Resources who designed the winning hat and brought along the booby prizes for the first out.

We randomly set up the tables by taking the list of people and simply numbering them. After getting them situated, I said a quick word of thank you, explaining how things had all started and then introduced the director of Habitat who also thanked all for their support. With my buddy, Richard who watches the chips and was also one of the original creators starting the clock. The director gave the command "Shuffle up and Deal".

I started off winning the first hand but began to watch the players around me especially the ones that I have not played much with to see if I could read them very good. I have learned the benefits of this skill but cannot say that I have gotten it down that great.

I slowly built up my stack of chips, going in on hands that I felt I could win and backing off on the others. By the time we had reached the final table, I had one of the healthiest stacks and felt very good about my play. We had two of the last minute players at the table and one of them, Les, was to my right. I had played Les at the previous table and had just bluffed him out of a hand not 6 hands prior. I had a weak ace and felt he had an ace also but did not want him to beat me with a higher kicker so I went all in or bet all of my chips. Since I had much more chips than he did, he folded but was not happy when he saw my hand.

At the final table, Les became hot. His original hands were not that good but on his first two hands, he drew the winning hand on the last card or the river. His luck had taken out two players and given him the chip lead in just two hands. On the third hand, I was dealt a king and jack. I bet it hard and two others followed, one going all in. I felt he probably had a pair and figured him on eights or nines. When the flop came it was ace, queen, and ten. I had just flopped a straight. I was actually hoping he would follow me and he probably did for two reasons. He had a pair of tens. That gave him three tens and he probably was remembering what had happened a few hands back. I smiled when I turned over my hand showing the straight and sat back, figuring tonight was going to be my night. After all, the chances of him winning three hands on the river were pretty slim. But an ace came up on the river giving him a full house and deflating my arrogant bubble. I stepped away from the table at 5th place. Les ended up taking out Frank in third place with a very similar river hand. His luck came at the right time and he was soon the winner of this years event.

We lined up all of the final table winners for a picture before breaking things down and resetting the tables for the meetings in the morning before closing down the room after the diner was already closed.

The two night event was once again a success bringing in $460 and raising our total to over $23,000 raised since we first started. Next Monday, we start all over again with our weekly tourneys.

So, now I start looking forward to our next big event. The largest one of the year, Thanksgiving. I already have seniors asking when the reservations will begin so I am pretty excited. My list of volunteers is long but I do need a couple of singers to secure all of the hours entertainment. While I don't see how we can physically serve any more seniors than we did last year, I am sure that will only increase the number of deliveries.

Friday, October 1, 2010


She came to me sometime in the early 90's, I believe. Her husband had passed away and she needed to go back to work. She was a pleasant pretty woman who quickly worked her way from cashier to waitress.

While she was never one of my faster waitresses, she overcame that with incredible efficiency and a trait that I hold the highest among servers and and that is simple caring. She genuinely cared for every one of her customers.

She was a strong part of our crew and we even hired many of her family members from one time or another as they grew up. I recall an employee party that she held in her back yard once after she sold her house and moved out onto some property in the woods that she owned. She lived a block away from me back then and watched our dog once when we went away on a trip.

She retired and it wasn't very long before I heard that she was back to work as a cashier for a store in the northern part of town. A cashier position came open and she applied for it and became a valuable part of the crew once more. She was one of the crew members that stuck with us when we made the move and worked hard to get the new place clean and ready. She was proud to be a member of the team.

Sometime after the move to the new location, things started to change a bit with her, however. She became moody at times and would have occasional anger problems. Since she was easily our oldest employee, I just put it off as age. But, the problems became acute and I was forced to confront her. She seemed confused by my challenges and did not seem to realize even when I showed her written remarks from customers. I eventually had to make one of my hardest decisions that I have ever made when I pushed her into retirement. Although she told me later that it was what was needed, I have always had a bit of guilt especially since she had stuck with me in those hard times.

It wasn't long before we discovered the reason for those mood swings. Fran had brain cancer. Many of the old crew stayed close to her as she progressed with the illness. Just a couple of weeks ago, Judy and one of the other crew members went to her house to visit with her. I received the call last night from one of the crew members. Fran had passed on.

So, tonight, sleep evades me as my mind races with thoughts and memories of this dear person. I can easily see her bright smile, her perfectly arranged hair, and her soft voice. One fond funny memory that I have was when a rather strong good looking cowboy truck driver came walking through the diner. All of the girls were a bit taken by his looks and I remember Fran commenting, "Even I wouldn't mind jumping his bones.". Since Fran was openly religious, we all stopped and stared as she became immediately embarrassed saying, "I can't believe that I just said that.".

She opened her house to women in need and was always seeming to be helping one of her grandchildren in one way or another. It just all went along with her caring spirit.

She is now added to the list of people that have been close to me who have succumbed to that horrible disease. It angers me when I think of how our government spends ten times the money on research for aids as it does cancer while cancer is far more prevalent and indiscriminate. Don't get me wrong, aids is a horrible disease, but it pales to the scope of cancer. I have known one person in my life that died from aids while the list from cancer is so long it would easily fill a page.

I remember watching a movie once where a doctor had found a cure for cancer in some obscure flower in South America. Some diabolical group had knocked him off since there was so much money to be made just in fighting the disease that they did not want a cure. I have always wondered if their were any truth in that story.

Although she stated that she understood and forgave me for letting her go, there still remains a small tinge of regret there. One thing is for certain. She will always be a fond memory and has garnered a solid part of the legacy of Jake's.

As I firmly believe I will see her again one day, I will not say goodbye, however, but a simple "See ya later, Fran". You are and will be missed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I have known her since she was just a little girl. He mother worked for me and she was the same age as my youngest so I have had the privilege of watching her grow up. As a teen, she took on a sort of Smore type persona. Hard on the outside but soft and sweet inside. She was the one who wore black while tattooing her skin and setting up multiple piercings. At 16, she put a ring in her nose just before a busy Thanksgiving shift. When I saw it, I informed her that she was not going to be able to work with it. With tears in her eyes and an incredible resolve, she folded the ring up into her nose so that it could not be seen just so she could work. I knew how painful it must have been and admired her tenacity as she stepped out on the floor to bus tables.

When my kids were teens, I had a birthday that I recall was not my happiest. My family sat around the table. I remember the mood being somewhat argumentative and I was not a happy father let alone a happy birthday camper. The phone rang and when I answered a sweet young voice sang happy birthday to me. It was just the medicine that I needed and I thanked her for making my day.

She told me a couple of years ago that she did not like Christmas because of the commercialism that it has caused. She wanted no one to give her anything at all. But, on a snowy Christmas eve, I saw her car driving down the street looking for my house. I walked out and she handed me a package. I was so touched by her going out on that stormy cold night. She gave me a Oregon Duck mug and the Duck cell phone sleeve that I proudly wear today.

And now, as a single mom, she waits tables for us and works hard to support herself and her two small children. I am just as tough on her as I am on the others servers, pushing her to get her orders out and to greet new customers quickly. While she is not the fastest most efficient server that we have, she is definitely one of the hardest workers and has the skill that I most highly look for in a server, she cares more for the person that she is serving than the money that they put on the table.

And so tonight as I lay in bed, awoken by Max, our rather large and personality filled cat, who was looking for a spot on our bed to call his own, I was startled by my cell phone vibrating that it had a text message. Upon closer inspection, I could see that it was coming from Kara. The text was simple and sweet: "I just wanted to be the first one to wish you a Happy Birthday. I love u. Kara.

I smiled as I sent her a quick response and lay there with a smile on my face......and a resolve to write a small piece about a young lady who has touched me......Thanks Kara!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dr Boo Boo

The surgery is now over a week past and I am doing very well. The first two days had my leg laying me up because the cut was along the side of my knee. But, that actually gave me opportunity to rest and read which was very good. By Monday, I was back to work and by Tuesday, I could walk up and down the steps without too much discomfort.

The young doctor who started out doing my procedure was being assisted and taught by the leader and instructor at OHSU. After finishing up my side, he started to deaden the leg in preparation of the cut. We chatted as he worked and he told me that he was leaving that evening for Chicago to go to the Notre Dame game the next day with old college buddies.

He suddenly stopped and said, "Oh, I did a boo boo.". "What?", I laughed in almost shock as you can imagine my surprise. First off, it was funny hearing those words from a doctor and secondly, what was the boo boo......after all, this was my body he was working on.

He had poked his finger while deadening my leg. The nurse immediately began to lecture him. "I should spank you for that", she said, "That is one of the things we always talk about.". "Maybe he wants spanked", I joked. That drew a roar from the doctors and nurses close by and a stop and stare from the nurse who seemed surprised to hear from the patient. She smiled as she continued to talk to the young doctor and tell him that he was off the floor and had to go to Human Resources. She then asked me if I would be willing to go up and give blood after the surgery. They had to insure that I did not have Hepatitis or Aids before the doc was allowed back on the floor. I understood and agreed.

So, yesterday, I was walking out of Fred Meyers when I recieved the call that went kind of like this:

Hello Lyle, this is Doctor J who did your surgery last week.

Dr. Boo Boo?

Yes, (laughing) I felt awful foolish about that one.

How did your game go?

Great, it was so much fun getting to see old friends and the game was fun.

I am going to the Duck game with my daughters and grandson tomorrow.

That sounds like fun. And I have good news for you.

You got it all?

Yes, the biopsies are in and the outer areas were all clear.

Thanks Doc! And good job.

Thank you, Lyle, and enjoy your game.

So, for right now, I once again have the all clear signal. My next check up is in October. I am actually enjoying parts of this new diet that I have put myself on. Last night, Trin made a tofu pasta spaghetti dish and I ate it with a bowl of fresh fruit and washed it down with a vegie/fruit drink made from colorful fruits and vegies. For desert, I had a couple of almonds covered in dark chocolate. Proof that sometimes diets can taste good.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I knew I would have a struggle sleeping tonight. Lots of thoughts fly through my head that won't allow my mind to rest enough to lull it to the area it needs to be.

Strangely enough, the surgery itself is not the main focus of my thoughts even though I do wonder just how much of a struggle my next few days will be walking as one of the surgeries is on the side of my leg right at the articulation of the knee.

Instead, my thoughts seem to fly between conversations of the day and a movie that Trinity and I watched this evening.

This morning was one of those mornings when many friends showed up. Today, however, they seem to arrive all at the same time. I walked out to the counter and found RL sitting there with a cup of coffee so I sat down and joined him. R and I used to see each other almost weekly back in the early Jake's days as he was one of the first to help me with the marketing of the product.

I have always found him to be a very genuine good man. And our friendship is one that I believe he would not hold any thoughts away from me that he might have. He asked me how I had been doing and I felt led to share with him my struggle with the cancer. He shared with me two stories. One good and one....not so good. The not so good involved a man who had some under his hair line. A mental note to myself was immediately written to insure that Margo checks out that part of me very thoroughly on our next meeting.

We talked of our families and generally got caught up with each other since our last meeting while he ate his breakfast and waited for a call from a mechanic who was working on his car.

Jess, the chaplain for the Band of Brothers, was one of the other friends and shortly, I found myself sitting out on the deck with another cup of coffee in deep conversation with him. Jess is another friend who I find so genuine. He talked about a variety of topics and he shared with me his leadership thoughts from his time in the fire dept. The one thing that bugged him the most was dishonesty. It was the thorn that hit him the hardest. "I don't have any time for liers", he said, and he confronted them without holding anything back. I shared with him how it is the thing that I too deal with the hardest except instead of confronting the issue, I tend to just lose my trust in them. Direct confrontation has always been a bit hard for me. I always try to do things to get them to see the lie and hope that they learn from my patience. I remember pondering on how much better his direct approach was for the situations and wondered if I could change my ways of handling that issue in the future.

Judy needed to take me down to pick up her new car from the shop and I remember being deep in thought of how fortunate that we are to have so many good friends around us. Many of our customers are so much more than just.....customers. They share their lives with us, their dreams and their pitfalls. Their laughter and their tears. There are some days that I can go without seeing any of them and then others, like today, when so many of the close ones that I love so much seem to show up and I end up spending my day on my butt with a cup of coffee in my hand. Do you think that may be part of why I am struggling with my sleep tonight? The coffee, I mean.

After finishing off the evening, I went home with a couple of steaks and bbq'd them for supper along with some fresh corn, fruit salad, and cottage cheese. A glass of dark vegie/fruit juice washed it all down as Trin and I prepared to watch a movie that she had gotten called 'To Save a Life'.

What an incredibly impacting movie. One that should almost be mandatory for all high schoolers and soon to be high schoolers to watch. It deals not only with teen suicide but with relationships and peer struggles. I remember as I watched it how much things have changed but have remained the same. As I watched, I remembered struggles of my own during those years that all though they did not define who I am right now, certainly laid out cornerstones of my thoughts and ways of dealing with things.

It was the end of the movie that hit me the hardest, however, and I had to share that with Trin as it impacted me so much. The main character in the film had impacted someone so much that that someone had shared that he had saved his life.

I sat their with tears welling up in my eyes as I recalled a phone conversation from a man that I knew back in high school. He was one of my brothers close friends and had been in our house a time or two.

He had called me up looking for my brothers phone number and we had chatted about our lives since High School a bit when he began to share some things with me. He talked of bullies that had affected him adversely back in those years and told me how he dealt with that later in his life by calling them up and forgiving them. I remember wondering just how those guys were affected by it and immediately thought of one who would probably still not get it. Then he hit me with it.

"You know", he began, "You and your brothers probably don't realize it but you saved my life.". He went on to tell me how unhappy he had been back then. He said that he had often thought of just ending it. "But Marvin and the rest of your family opened your arms and your house to me. Your accepted me for who I was and invited me to join your youth group at your church who did the same.".

I shared that with Trin and told her that you never know how much something you say, something you do, or the way you do it might affect someone. That can go both ways, good and bad. I don't mind being the encourager, but I can only hope that nothing that I do will cause someone to trip up.

So, I guess I have left the day before and enter the next one, both apprehensive for the next few days but extremely blessed for the friends and experiences that the day brought me. When I think of the past few years of my life, even though their have been trials and tribulations, that word seems to flash across the pictures in my mind like a large flag waving in the wind. "BLESSED".

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A day with Jay

We got up early and headed into Jake's for breakfast. As we sat at the counter, Jay asked if he could see the tickets. I handed them over without comment and he looked at them. "Pretty good seats, aren't they?", I asked. "Yes", he answered. Neither one of us realized just how good they were.

We put our flags on the side windows of the car and off we went. I love being a grandpa and I love being with my grandson. He is such a good kid and so fun to be with. We listened to music and talked as we drove over the pass to our game. "I hope it is a blowout, papa.", he said, "I like going to a game where I am pretty sure we will win.".

We had hoped to try and find the blue pool along the McKensie river along the way. But as we drove closer to the spot where I thought it was, I realized that our time was fading away, so we kept on going.

We noticed that many of the cars that were headed our way were also going to the game and joked about being in the 'Duck' parade. It seemed that most of them either sported flags or stickers on their car. The closer we got, the more cars, many of them honking as they past.

We used to park at the Williams bakery which is now the site of the new basketball court, so we drove behind the new stadium and parked on the road behind. Then we set off on foot to Autzen.

Just as we did while driving in, we talked and laughed as we kept a quick pace with the others to the excitement of the first game of the year. The closer we got, the more people we encountered and the more crazies. As we came over a rise, we saw it, our goal....Autzen Stadium.

Jay spied a stack of Game Day magazines and grabbed one off of the top. We past through the turn stills and noticed that they were not letting anyone in yet so we headed over to the practice building where they sell food before the game. Jay told me that he wanted hot dogs so we walked around looking but found no food court with hot dogs. We decided instead to go inside knowing we could get a dog there. There were no lines and we grabbed our dogs and ate them as we walked down to our seats.

The closer that I got to the bottom, I began to realize that the third row might be closer to the front than I thought. As we passed the sixth row, I counted only three more rows and I realized just how good the seats really were. We were on the front row. As we walked down the row, we found that it was even better. Our seats were the last ones on the row, closest to the middle of the field. As we sat down, we were looking down at the 20 yrd line just to our left. We looked off to our right and saw the students section that was filling fast while we were the only ones in our section for rows behind.

We sat and watched as the players warmed up on the field. We weren't sure who was who but we soaked in the realization of just how close to the action we were going to be. We watched as two or three of what we figured were alumni stood in a circle and talked. I wondered openly who they were. The student section started chanting "Joey.....Joey". I looked down and watched as Joey Harrington walked over to the circle and began talking with them not twenty feet from us.

Shortly, the chant changed to "Uncle Phil" and I watched as Phil Knight walked over. He stood just past the wall in front of us. "Come on Jay", I said, "Let's go get your picture with Phil Knight". A few years ago, Jay would have just complied but I have noticed that as he has grown and is now about to go into Middle school, that he has began to have his own mind and he did nto want to. "Ok, little buddy, but I want you to let you know something. Ten years from now, you will look back at this and say, 'Man, I wish I would have done that.'". I told him that I knew that as a fact from the various decisions that I made that I regretted later. I hoped that he would let that set in and change his mind but no such luck. So, I didn't bother asking when Chip Kelly showed up.

I noticed two things as I watched the team continue to warm up. First, their confidence. They walked and warmed up like they knew they were special. Not cocky but confident. And the second thing was that right in the middle of them was Chip, clapping to the beat of the music that was being broadcast while the team did the same with their warm ups and stretches. The team spread out over the field and then faced the other team as they worked out. I knew the other team must have been intimidated by it all. They then brought themselves into a smaller and smaller circle around him before breaking up and heading back off the field to come back on for their official entrance.

We called as many people as we could and asked Trinity to tape the game knowing that we would probably be able to see us a time or two on it. The excitement built as the team ran onto the field and before we knew it, the kickoff had started.

The Ducks received and the plays came so fast that the Lobos could not even set up their defense. Before we knew it, they were right in front of us and I began to snap pictures of the game. Someone behind me said, "From this great spot, those pictures should be good enough for a magazine.". Just then, one of the Lobos picked off a pass and another man behind me said, "Yea, but that one would be better for a magazine in New Mexico.". Jay and I agreed that just about every game that we have come to, the Ducks have turned it over in the first possession.

But, the Lobos fortune was short lived as the swarming Duck defense shut them down and in what seemed like seconds, the Ducks were up 21-0. Trin texted me to tell me that they could see us on tv. I looked down and noticed that a street dressed player was being interviewed right in front of us so I told Jay to wave and with both waved at the cameras wondering if the girls could see us on TV. I texted and asked them if they could and soon got the answer, "Yes!". Later, the taping of the game showed that you could see me sending that text.

Before the end of the first quarter, I noted that the Lobo's defense had their hands on their hips and looked tired. The Ducks seemed to be running them ragged.

The first half seemed to drag in the fact that their always seemed to be lots of time left after each touchdown and on the other hand seemed to fly by as the excitement of each score made time fly. Before we knew it, it was almost half time and Jay and I decided to go back up for another dog before the rush of half time. Once again, we hit no line as we ordered our dogs and sat at the top of the stadium wall eating them. Trin called me and asked where we were as they had just scanned our seats and we were gone. I told her and she said that they figured that might be where we were.

We found our seats again and Jay asked if he could go back up and fill his water bottle. He wanted to do it on his own and as he is almost in Middle school, I decided to allow it I told him to hurry back as I didn't want him gone during the rush out for half time. He agreed to and headed up the steps. I watched as the Ducks kicked a field goal and then held the Lobos on yet another 3 and out. The time was ticking down getting closer to halftime as the Lobos set to punt back. I nervously watched up the steps and smiled as I saw the yellow hard hat of Jay's coming down the steps. A roar brought be back to the game as I watched the same player who had ran back a punt minutes before run yet another back and the score was soon 59 to 0 at the half. Jay appologized for taking so long but told me that one family wanted to take his picture in his hard hat. I had noted that many had complimented him on it.

Jay and I watched the half time show and stood up leaning over the railing in front of us as we talked and waited for the second half. I asked him if he wanted to go after the third quarter and he said, "No, I want to stay for the whole game.". I asked him if he wanted to go down on the field and he again said, "No, about 2 minutes before the end, let's go up and get ready to beat the rush.".

We did just that and were up and ready to leave as the Ducks dropped on the final snap just 5 yards from another score We had no idea that the 72 points that they had score had tied some sort of record. As we walked down the steps, we noticed that the team was coming out so Jay ran ahead and positioned himself to slap hands with them as they came off the field. I watched and smiled as Jay finished off his big game with a flair, slapping hands on the last two players, the Quarterback and the Running back who had set a new team record in scoring while only playing less than a half.

We then darted through the masses back towards the car stopping only at the other big finish for the day, Track Town Pizza. Jay found us a seat while I ordered the pizza. I forgot just how big their pizzas are and we ended up sitting across from a small family who happily took up our offer of sharing our pie with them We sat at the table watching other football games and talking with others of the game we had just seen.

Tired but happy, we made our way up to the car and headed home. For me, a great day and a great time with my grandson. For him, I hope an experience that he will not forget.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The new diet seems to be working. My blood sugar has declined which has affected me in a few ways. First off, I seem to be able to sleep a bit better. Now, that might affect this blog a bit in finding times to post but I think you would all agree that health is a bit more important. If I wake up early and have something on my mind, I will still try to relay that out.

My life still seems to be as packed as usual but I have found creative ways to get exercise in. Yesterday, I walked from the repair shop on Reed Market Road to work. The funny thing was that I ran into another Model A guy on the way who was doing the same thing but heading the other way. We laughed as we both had a good hours walk ahead of us with the rain starting to fall.

The Band of Brothers was brisk with close to a hundred in attendance. I noticed a woman walk in and then turn and head outside. I followed her and sure enough, she was telling her husband that we were far to busy. I assured her of a seat and that we would be just as fast as any other time. She took me up on it and when I tried to find her a seat, realized that the back room was packed also. But, my friend Buck and his dad were just about to get up and graciously gave her their seat. Their food was up in less than 10 minutes and the last I saw, they were very happy.

Right in the middle of it all, the hot water stopped. I called the repair shop with a 911 call and within a half an hour, the owner himself was fixing the problem. He laughed that he had to park a block away because of the huge crowd there. But, with the buffet lunch out front and the busy back room, the dishes piled up quite high in the dishroom. It looked like some crazy B movie as I watched them work out from the huge blockade.

The new 'Cruise In' shirts came in and I quickly noted that the print was on the front of the shirts and not the back. I sent off a brisk email on the issue and pondered on whether to put them out, deciding that we would see if they actually sold as well as the others. The mistake could be a future bonus.

Jack, one of our WWII guys, brought in a paper pronouncing the proper way of saying the pledge of allegiance. I have always got a kick out of Jack as he works to get 100 other men who have always said it wrong, say it right. It seems that their is no comma before 'under God'. When we say the pledge, Jack would shout out the unbroken phrase while the other 100 would keep on doing what they have always done. It has never failed to bring a smile to my face as I am so amazed at his zeal there. With the paper in hand, he actually got a couple of guys to join him today and he just might reach his goal one day. I shook his hand and called him 'the rock'.

With the group behind us, I broke away to have a fellow give me a bid on gutters at our house. I chatted with the young man as he did his measurements. "You work at Jake's?", he said, "I have eaten at their place in Portland.". I informed him that we were a different group and were quite independent. "Kind of like that place that use do be down south?". he asked. "Yes, I think our food is much better now than down there.". I meant that in a positive way as most people liked us before but I guess I let the door open. "Well, that is a good thing.", he seemed to smirk. I did not ask him to qualify his statement as I think he was just making small talk least I hope he was.

After retrieving the car from the garage, I managed a brief cat nap before heading down back to the diner for supper and preparation for poker night. Business was brisk for a Monday evening and I had to call Jimmy back down to help out the cook who was in a bit of a block. Jimmy bailed him out as I set up the back room. Most of the players came in at the last minute and we ended up with a good night, raising $120 for Habitat and having fun.

I finished the clean up around closing time and headed home. I did not realize how tired I was till I got to my turn onto Bear Creek Rd. I was shaken by the horn behind me as I sat with the green turn light bearing down on me. I didn't bother reading as I crawled into bed and immediately went to sleep. Minutes later, I was awoken and sat up in the bed. I heard a 'bang bang bang' on the window downstairs. Judy had been in the hot tub and Trin had inadvertently locked the door thinking both of us had gone to bed. Trin was in the TV room and heard nothing of this. Judy was very thankful to be able to come in from the freezing cold being as wet as she was. Minutes later....I was again asleep only to wake up to pets that needed attention. I firmly believe that if not for them...I would have slept the night away.

Now, off to another day and to see what new and exciting adventures it might bring. Tomorrow is the last big BBQ of the summer and to give you a taste of what the entertainment will be like, I give you this video of Andy Armer with Richard Taelour on his guitar at the recent Portland Music Awards.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Proactive and Blood Sugar

I decided last week that I was going to get proactive and fight my cancer from the other side. My doctors are using surgery and that is all well and good, but I need to fight it with nutrition. Actually, it was my buddy, Frank's idea. He gave me a book about it and I started to read it. Then I discovered another friend who had fought her cancer with yet another book based upon your blood type. She found out what I was doing and loaned me her book.

Armed with this knowledge, I began to adjust my diet accordingly. One thing that I learned about cancer from these books was that it is fed with sugar. Now, at the same time, I had not been feeling well and I decided to check my blood sugar and found it running a bit high.

I began a strict regiment of diet on Saturday, (well strict as a busy man can get) with fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast, and chicken or pork for lunch or dinner. Then, I discovered in the second book, that I am not suppose to eat either of the later. I quickly adjusted and on Sunday evening began eating primarily foods that were good for me according to that book.

By Monday night, I was feeling better. I read a chapter of one of my books before going to bed and actually slept through out the night. When I awoke on Tuesday, fairly rested, my blood sugar was down to 98. Other than feeling lots of stress in the day, I felt pretty good. I even walked a bit in the morning helping that feeling.

I went into the evening feeling pretty good and then stopped at Jake's for a bite to eat before heading to the VVA meeting. I felt pretty good getting ready for bed but when I took my blood sugar it was up over 160. I scratched my head in wonder but went to bed anyway. Sure enough, two hours later, I am up. I took it again and found it 138.

Then it hit me. Tuesday night is Spaghetti night. I love spaghetti and always eat a plate of it during our special night. Not only is it high in sugar but it has another food that the second book tells me to stay away from, Tomatoes. I could not believe how dumb I had been. To be so careful and then to just indulge without a thought.

I have just got to get smarter.

Now, on a positive note, Thursday night looks like it might get big. There seems to be a bit of a buzz going on about our up coming Banjo Jam. I would suggest if any of you are planning on coming that you might want to bring your own chairs to sit outside and listen to the picking.

Also, I found out that Richard is bringing not one but two Grammy award winning artists to the car show next week. Local keyboardist and song writer Andy Armer (This link will take you to a video of Andy performing at the 2010 Portland Music Awards with Richard playing guitar next to him) and Steel Guitarist Ken Emerson. If the weather stays with us, it should be one heck of a night with the profits going to the High Desert Model A's COCC Scholarship fund.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Water Guy

I was working late on Wednesday and just about to go home when a small knock came to my office door. Ricci told me that she had an angry customer and proceeded to tell me that he had found a splenda packet in his water.

I came out to the floor and walked over to the couple sitting in a booth. I greeted them and the man began to explain that their was a paper in his water. I saw that he had a fresh full glass of water in front of him so I said, "It looks like your waitress has gotten you a fresh glass. I am sorry for the problem and it looks like she solved it."

"No, she didn't", he stated and they both stated that they had now lost all appetite. I looked down and noticed that both of them had finished off a goodly amount of their food so I restated that I was sorry. The man then quickly stated that he felt that he should not have to pay for it.

I quickly began to process this in my head and since they had eaten most, I said that I would credit some but they will have to pay for their meal. He got angry with me and told me that he would not pay a dime. I countered that, yes, I expected them to pay something.

They both got angry and began to prepare to leave. I remember trying to decide what I was going to to if they just walked out. Then, he made the statement: "This is the first time that I have ever been in this place and it will be my last.".

Now, I remember a time when something similar happened to me. The man was angry in this same way and said something similar. I took his ticket, asked him to leave, and please not come back. I recall how after he obliged, a regular that was sitting close by told me that I had not handled the problem well. "You did exactly as he wanted.", I was told. "He just got himself a free meal. If he is not coming back, at least get your money from him.".

I tried to remain calm as I shook inside. "Sir, if that is the case, then you can pay for the whole thing.".

He then erupted at me, grabbing his cane which made my crew began to go on standby thinking they were going to have to come to my rescue. He jumped to his feet, yelling something about if a scene was what I wanted then by golly, I was going to get one. He began to speak loudly so that all could hear how our food and service were crap and how he was going to tell every one about it.

I took a quick look around the floor and realized that most of the people there were friends and car enthusiasts. "On your way out, please feel free to tell any of my customers here how you feel.". I stated. I noticed Terry and Zeb sitting at the counter and knew that if he said anything to them they would probably jokingly agree. Both of them like a good dig and would probably say something like they don't know why they keep coming back other than they feel sorry for me or something.

I followed them to the cash register as the man continued to yell how he felt about our food and service. I handed the ticket to the cashier and said, "Please ring them up.". I then walked back over to the counter and sat down. I sat there shaking and trying to decide if I had handled it right. The cashier came by and said that they had paid and left. I said, "Did they pay for it all?" and he answered, "yes".

I then began to push it behind me and ordered up some supper before leaving.

The next day, Judy received a call and walked into the office with the phone. She told me it was the same man and that he said that he had never refused to pay for his food, that he felt that I was rude to him, and that he wanted compensation. She asked him if he wanted to talk to me and handed me the phone.

With Summer and Judy in the office with me, I began to engage with the man again. He told me that he had never said that he would not pay for his food and I reminded him of what he said at the table the night before.

He then told me that I had played games with him placing words in his mouth and I assured him that I played no game. He said that I made him feel like a criminal, that I had talked down to him like some kid who was trying to get out of his meal. He then said that he would have liked to come back again sometime but with me treating him like that and not giving him compensation, he would not.

I reminded him of the conversation the night before where he said that it was his first and last time there. I went on to say that was why I told him that he could pay the bill and the logic for that.

He then said that he had paid the bill in full and I thanked him for that. He then restated that I had made him feel like a criminal. I asked him how I could have come across that way as it was him that was yelling to everyone around how my food was crap and so was my service.

He then blurted out something that I could not understand and his voice went still. I thought that he had hung up so I hit end and placed the phone on my lap. "He hung up on me.", I said.

Judy, Summer, and I talked about it and I admit laughing out of frustration saying something like there is no good way of handling those types of situations. I asked both of them if what I had said was the same thing that I had told them earlier when we discussed the situation (Situations like this don't come up that often and I admit discussing them as I did right then looking for answers on if I did handle it right and what we could better do to handle a situation like that.).

No one likes situations like that and no one wants to lose customers. And, I admit that I don't always handle things right. I fished in my head for ways to better handle them so that in the long run, the customer is happy and you hopefully keep him as a customer.

I remember jokingly stating that I had given him the option to tell anyone on the floor. We laughed as we discussed what Zeb's reaction might have been. As I spoke, my phone rang and it was someone that we had helped out by finding something of his. He told me how much he loved us and appreciated me. It was exactly the medicine that I needed and I stated that to the two girls. I then handed the phone to Judy and noticed the beep beep beep of disconnect on the phone as she reset it.

Almost immediately, it rang. Judy answered and it was him again. He said that he had not hung up and that he had heard us whispering about him. He said, "I heard everything that you said.". Now, Judy knew that we had not said anything bad and said to him. "I don't know what to tell you sir. Lyle is my husband and there is one thing that I know about him.......he does not lie.". The man then accused Judy of calling him a lier. Judy said, "I don't know you sir.".

He then blew up at her, telling her that he was going to call the health department and was going to tell everyone on facebook about how he was treated. He said that he was a 66 yr old disabled vet and that he had never been treated like that before. Judy told him that she did not know what to say and he hung up.

There is no text book way of handling these situations and I have that side of me who wants everyone to like me but I must realize that just does not happen. Maybe it was just a misunderstanding.....maybe if I had, I just need to move on.

I told Judy later that it still bothered me but not half as much as it would if we did not receive so much positive feedback from our other friends and customers.

I do appreciate every soul that walks through our front door and I do desire to make them happy. I realize that by not hanging up the phone properly when I thought he had hung up on me, that it just made matters worse. I need to keep a positive attitude however and that can easily be done by the realization that even though I did not know that he was listening, that I didn't say anything detrimental.