Sunday, March 28, 2010

Patrick Flaherty for District Attorney

Patrick Flaherty for District Attorney

Usually, I don't involve myself in politics and this is, in that we are talking of an elected position. I have been open in the past, however, of my disapproval of how the present day District Attorney and crew have handled my situations and I was very happy to see this man is backed by two people who I respect, namely Tim Knopp and Les Stiles.

I am not saying I am in his camp just yet, but I like what I see so far. He is also open to talk as I have already emailed him. May 18 is the day so please, do your own investigating. I know we need to replace the present one, maybe this is the man.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hate is such an ugly thing

I wrote of an ex-employee that I had bumped into last January in a local store that didn't seem to like me much and how it affected me.

I ran into her and her husband yesterday. This time, Judy was with me. I stepped into a waiting room where they were standing. I said Hi to her husband and she was standing with her back to me. I sat down while I waited for the receptionist and watched as she leaned over and whispered into the ear of her husband. He looked over at me and then the two of them walked outside and waited there. I was shocked.

I turned to Judy and asked her if she remembered my tale of the cashier who didn't seem to like me. She did. I said,that is her. Judy watched and saw just what I did. That this woman seemed to hate being in the same room with me and felt better standing out in the cold than to have that happen. I think Judy got a bit of a kick out of her disdain for me. "I just don't understand why she hates me so.", I said to her. "It's her problem, not yours", Judy returned.

We finished up our business and left. They realized we were leaving and started back to the door. I held it for them and said, "Hi guys!". She mumbled something and he said nothing as they walked in.

As we walked to the car, Judy said, "Why did you do that. She obviously does not like you.". "Because I am who I am.", I returned, "I can't hate her because she doesn't like me.".

I mused all the way back to the diner on why this woman hated me so deeply. I don't hate anyone. And I know that I have this deep seeded desire to have everyone like me. You can analyze that all you want, it is just there. The man who I care for the least, who did great harm to my family and this community, I don't hate. I actually feel sorry for him in a way.

As we drove, Judy mentioned that we should ask Toni, one of our waitresses who has a steel trap mind if she remembered her so upon arrival at Jake's, we shared with Toni of our recent encounter.

"I know who it is." Toni said, "She worked for us back when I first started. You fired her.". "Why did I fire her?", I asked. "Because she was mean. She was mean to her fellow employees and to our customers when your back was turned. You fired her because she is what you saw today.". As she shared her memories of events that had happened so long ago, I began to remember them myself. I even recall warning her and how she didn't show this attitude to me but I knew I needed to listen to my employees and the customers who did complain. I do remember her anger when I did let her go.

But, that was fifteen years ago. They say time heals but it most definitely hasn't with her. And, if her angry attitude was anything back then close to the one that I witnessed, I definitely made the right decision so many years back.

I just feel so sad for her. Carrying that kind of anger around in your heart can only darken your heart even more. And I just cannot hope that all will like me, it just doesn't work that way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bob-in it

I asked Jay last night if he wanted to go with me this morning. He asked where. I said, "Well, Bob is meeting up with Bob and we will meet them down in LaPine. We are going there to honor Bob." "What?', asked Jay. "We are going with Bob and Bob down to see Bob so that Bob can give Bob a rock.". Jay giggled. "Sure", he said. "Can I sit next to Bob?".

I met up with three of the brothers at Jake's and picked up Jay on the way south. We pulled into Gordy's and met up with Bob Shotwell in the parking lot. The LaPine Band of Brothers had set us up with reserved seats at the head of the tables. I found our seats alongside Bob Dent and Bob Maxwell.

Bill started off the event by introducing us one by one including Jay. After he had introduced us, he turned it over to Bob Maxwell who told a story of a man who had given him a rock from Normandy beach. Bob Maxwell had promised to find a man who had been there and give it to him. "That day is today", Bob said, "and that man is Bob Shotwell".

The crowd erupted in claps and cheers and all the vets in the room rose from their seats to give him a standing ovation. After it was over, Bob sat there staring at his box that housed the rock....appropriately a french Chocolat box. I looked over at Bob and asked, "Well, were you surprised?". "Yes, very much so.", he said.

The room was very full and the comradery was very much like the Bend group. I sat next to a brother who lived down on Day road. As we talked, I realized that he lived right next to my great grandparents ranch. We talked of how my great grandfather had built the house from the deserted electric substation of Pringle Falls. I told him of the gas station and small cabins that he had built at the front of Day road where the fire hall is now.

I felt so at home in that group of guys. Just as if it was the band who meets at Jake's.

Afterwards, we walked out into the restaurant to pay our bill. As I looked over the floor, it brought back so many memories of the old truck stop. One man asked if I missed it. I told him somewhat but I am very happy where I am at. But, I will admit, the feeling was a bit weird.

Our event done, we loaded up our cars and headed home. A time of seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and enjoying an experience with Bob, Bob, and......Bob.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's Monday, my brother

Monday used to be a day off a couple of years back. Things have changed since then.

First off, our new location seemed to breed business because of it's location close to medical facilities. As people came to realize our nearness, they would come in after doctor visits, many of which required fasting prior to. This factor alone took Monday away from being the quietest day of the week.

Then, we came up with the idea of a charity poker tourney on Monday evenings giving me something special to do on that quiet Monday night.

But, then the biggest change was when the Band of Brothers decided to adopt Jake's as their home. Since then, Monday has never really been quite the same.

I arrived right about 9, giving me just enough time to grab a bite to eat and finish off paperwork from the Sunday before starting the transition of the diner to facilitate the coming of the brothers. Richard showed up to stamp hands while I began to move high chairs and baby seat carriers out of the entry area.

The girls had already set up the extra tables in the back room and were already seating people back there when I began the transformation. Moving the greeters table to help open up the door, setting up a table for Lauren to place his stuff, breaking out the microphone and amplifier equipment, moving the plants and replacing with the flags while Jimmy cleared off the short counter and set up the buffet.

It seemed no time before the brothers started to fill up the room and Zin prepared to start the merriment. The first thing that I noticed was that the back room had filled up and new customers were strolling in to find no seats thus causing a block up. I quickly placed a 'Please wait to be seated' sign up in the door and found seats for the ones drifting around the room looking. I soon was making a list along with our cashier, Kara to try and organize these along with explaining why they were relegated to the back room, some of which didn't even know we had one.

I kind of feel it is an unprecedented thing, having a group take over a restaurant on a busy day for three hours like it has, works. Most everyone who sits in the back room understands and then when they realize that the group of vets won't hold up their meals because of the buffet are appreciative.

I came around to seat some of the waiting crowd as Zin is leading the Pledge of Allegiance. I happily watch all of the waiting customers as they all stand to their feet and join in with the brothers. It speaks volumes to the character of these people.

My next hour is spent balancing myself between the two rooms, pouring coffee, talking to customers and friends, seating new ones, and generally, helping out. I notice that the line for the buffet in the front room snakes all around the room as the vets take their time and Jimmy serves them their meal of eggs, bacon, sausage, french toast, biscuits, gravy, and a special apple mixture of Jim's. Zin spends his time with announcements and opening up the floor for different vets to make announcements of their own for various vet affairs in the area.

I stopped and talked with Bob Maxwell and Bob Dent to set up times to go to the Lapine Band of Brother event on Wednesday which will be a special event of it's own of which I will be bringing yet another Bob (Shotwell) to. Then, I made my own announcement inviting any of the vets that want to to join us for poker that evening as the proceedings benefit veteran Habitat for Humanity builds. One of the brothers who had just made an announcement for veteran housing needs help stops me and we begin talking of the need and the various groups and agencies involved when Bill Bussey comes up to the microphone.

I am pulled away from the conversation as Bill awards me with a commemorative Vietnam service coin complete with the engraving of my name, service, and dates. I was honored by the coin of which I will always keep close to me and I am sure pass on to one of my kids some day.

I then found myself deep in conversation with that same housing vet when we realize our familiarity of service. I was a navy Quartermaster whose main job was to assist the Navigator of the ship while he was a Navigator on his. We laughed when I shared my story of my tattoo where my Navigator had actually saved my bacon after I had become incapacitated by what I thought was a harmless bottle of beer that was to help ease the pain of the tattoo that ended up being laced with something else. When I awoke, our ship was fast on it's way back to Vietnam and the pull out of Saigon and the Navigator had taken my place with my headphones and set our positions as we moved the ship out of the Hong Kong straits.

As I moved back and forth between the two rooms, three vets stopped me in the back room and jokingly asked me if this was now the Band of Brothers annex as they could not find seats in the front room and decided to enjoy each others company in the back area. They were all from Redmond and had come down to find out the time and day of the new Redmond branch of this group.

I made a head count of the group in the front room. Not counting me, there were 76. Add in the three in the back room and then me, and the final count was 80. A new record. I dropped into thoughts of where and what we might need to do in the future when a young vet was brought to the front of the room. This young man was about to head out to a tour in Afghanistan. I watched as he became touched to the core by 77 crusty old vets, many of them with walkers, crutches, and canes stand to their feet and gave this young man a standing ovation. I could see the tear in his eye and the shake in his legs as he didn't know just how to take this incredible honor.

The event finished and I stood to the side saying hello to friends that I had missed while being busy earlier when I saw Bea Maxwell crossing the room, headed my way. I have really come to love Bob and Bea Maxwell. Bob is the only living Medal of Honor winner in Oregon and one of the most humble men that I have ever met. Bea had something in her hand and she placed it in mine. "I thought you might like to see this", she smiled.

I smiled back and asked her how her daughter was doing as I began to unfold the curious wrapped blue ribbon when I realized what it was. I lost all consciousness of my conversation, my knees went weak, my pulse quickened, and I began to sweat as I realized what it was that I was now holding in my hand. The Congressional Medal of Honor. The highest award that can be given for the valor of a military man. I turned it over and over in my shaking hand before placing it back in hers while cupping my hand over hers in thanks for this huge honor of just being able to touch it.

Even now, I look back at the 10 to 15 second event as the highlight of my day and probable highlight of my entire week.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I was a hippie. Complete with hippie van, a 1961 fully curtained Econoline van....mag wheels and all. Living in San Diego, I was also living my dream. We had purchased our own house on a canyon, I had a good job working for the government, a beautiful wife to come home to each night, and I was very happy. I even enjoyed our routine. Every week, Judy and I would go to a different restaurant and every Friday night, we would go to a drive in theater. We would alternate on who would pick the show but one thing always happened. Judy would fall asleep in the matter how action packed the flick was. I would even often times end up eating her half of our treat....a kitkat bar.

San Diego was a Mecca for two people in love. Anything we could want was in driving distance. The beach, the mountains, amusement parks, beautiful picnic sites, and other great events such as concerts and movie premiers. Life was sporadic.....we could do what we wanted, when we wanted. We could jump in a car and drive ending up where ever we pointed the car. Little did we know how much our lives would change by one single solitary event.....The birth of our first born.....Carrie.

Our last holiday season was spent with our ready made family, three dogs and three cats. We also had numerous birds and a fish tank full of various shapes, sizes, and colors. I celebrated Christmas and New Years with our three dogs, a coca poo, terrier, and cocker spaniel and my beautiful wife who absolutely glowed in her pregnant state. It brought an extra sparkle to her eyes and gleam to her smile.

We had chose a prepaid plan at the University hospital. Opting for a special mid-wife type delivery and planned a natural childbirth that would give our child the best chance. We took all of the Le Maze classes always treating ourselves to one of those Kitkat bars afterwards. So, that spring, we were ready and fully prepared for the blessed event.

The pains started to come some time Saturday night. The labor pains were quite lengthy between, however and I think that first night, she even let me sleep while she worked her way through the first sets. I had taken a small white piece of cardboard, the type that you would find on the back of a pad of some sort and began to write down the times of her contractions. We thought of going in on that Sunday but the times were still very much apart and we ended up working through another night, this time with me keeping tabs on the time once more and doing my job as coach when I was allowed.

Finally, Monday morning, the times were growing closer and more intense and we headed out with our fully prepared bag to the hospital. I walked Judy into the emergency room with the bag on my shoulder and heavily written pad in my back pocket. As she sat down in the wheel chair, she began another contraction and I began my coaching stroking her head and talking to her softly. A powerful voice broke the moment....."Hey Buddy, get out of my way!". I looked up to see some large bruiser on crutches. "Just a moment, please", I explained, "My wife is having a contraction". "I said get out of my way!" I now looked at him a bit more stern. "Can't you see what is happening here. Just a second.". I went back to my soft coaching till I heard him bellow....."I said NOW!". I had enough and totally out of my element, I did the natural thing for any man who is charged with the protection of his wife and not yet born child. I reached back to punch this monster right in the nose. Before I can swing, one nurse steps in between us while another who had come to help us up to the birthing area grabbed my arm. "Slow down there, Tiger.", someone laughed. "Your wife is going to need you alive to help her pretty soon.". They quickly wheeled her to the elevator while the big mouthed bully pushed his way out the emergency room door.

Before the elevator had reached the floor, Judy was into another contraction. I whipped out my card, checked my watch, and wrote the time down on my now heavily crowded paper. The nurse laughed, "Is this your first child?". "Why yes", I explained between coaching, "How can you tell?". She laughed once more and pointed to my paper. Not sure what she was meaning, I shrugged my shoulder and placed the paper back in my pocket.

We wheeled her into the preparation room and the nurses set out checking her for dilation and preparing her for the coming event. In our bag, we had everything that we would need for the coming of our first born, who we were going to name Mark Nathaniel. You see, since Judy had been sick for so many months of the pregnancy, one of the mid wives declared that met most assuredly a boy. She said, don't even bother buying any other type of clothes. I had even purchased my young lad a small San Diego Charger uniform complete with helmet.

One of the nurses brought me my uniform. Back then, very sterile operating rooms were used and you must be scrubbed and fully gowned to be in the room. I put on the outfit and walked out of the bathroom tying up the ties in the front. Once more, a couple of the nurses got a good laugh at my outfit and one of them helped me take off the top, turn it around, and tie it up in the back.

As the time grew closer, so did the pain. Not only Judy's but mine. I was so incredibly nervous that I had to go but could not bending me over with cramps of my own. No one seem to worry about me, however, and I was even asked to remain to the side as they took my place by her side during the contractions. Judy's sweet nature seemed to change as the event grew closer. I remember her looking at me with tired and yet strong determined eyes and saying, "Get me something for the pain!". I knew better than to argue with her and soon, the nurse had set her up with an epidural.

Finally, the time arrived. With my bag on my shoulder and my camera in my hand, I walked alongside her gurney as she was wheeled into the room. I remember the surealness (sp) of the moment. A sort of dream like time going very slow. Between pushes, I was able to wipe her brow and hold her hand but during the actual birthing pushes, I was once again replaced by women who knew what to do and I was relegated to photographer.

I remember thinking in between snaps, all of the blood and worrying that something might be wrong. The head crowned and the body slipped out behind it. But our baby was covered in blood and purple! "She is beautiful!", one of the nurses explained. "Congratulations, you have a beautiful baby girl, what are you going to call her.". I looked dumbfounded at my bride who had just worked so hard to accomplish her life's greatest moment to the present. My shock was cut by her voice, "Carrie Anne", she said. We looked at each other and the tears flowed freely down both our faces. We had a baby girl!

My first job after leaving the hospital was to trade in the Charger uniform for a pretty dress. My van broke down and was in the shop to be repaired when I was called and informed that Judy was ready to come home. I called a car rental company and while I waited, the repair shop called me. When they heard of my event, the owner of the shop told me that he would button up my van and have it ready in an hour. It was too late to hold off the rental car. A few minutes later, it pulled up in front of the house. I went out and talked to the driver expecting to pay him and walk to the repair shop. "Get in", the man said. "No charge, buddy, and we will take you to the shop.". I could not get over my fortune but was soon to see yet another kindness as I arrived at the repair place. The owner came out and shook my hand. "Congratulations, the bill is on me.". I wheeled the van out of the shop and to the hospital to bring my new family home.

From that moment on, our lives were never the same. The restaurant visits stopped and take out was the moment. No more jump in the car trips and late night drive in movies. We were now a family and our priorities were totally and happily changed.

That was few years back. As any Father Daughter relationship, there have been many highs and lows on our roller coaster ride called life. From the little girl who curled up in my lap and listened intently while I read her books to the bold and angry teen who placed her feet on my dash while I drove her to school after taking her keys away from her letting me know without a doubt, "I hate you!". From the fear of losing her when she contracted Pneumonia to the elation of her receiving the Louis Armstrong award for her trumpet play. The times on my knees outside her room in the middle of the night as I prayed fervently for the young lady on the other side. The bright smile and laugh as the youth group came to our house.

I remember as if it were yesterday, the day that she left to become a flight attendant in Dallas, Texas. We had to leave her in a motel room the night before her flight out. I had to be back home to work the next morning. Judy and I drove in silence that night between sobs as the tears did not subside the entire way home. I recall the emptiness and fear of that following day until we knew she was there and secure.

I also remember the phone calls from the various flights that she took. One time, she was staying in what was considered a haunted hotel. I calmed down a scared daughter and prayed with her over the phone.

She talked Judy and I into bringing her car to her and we drove across country and arrived three days later in Dallas. We went to her apartment and I as the two girls laughed, I walked through the apartment. On the wall in her bedroom was a collage of black and white photos. A closer look found one small color print in the very middle. A picture of me holding her when she was just six months old. Tears flowed down my face as I realized......she loved me.....she really loved me!

Our relationship to this day has its ups and its downs. As with any two people, we don't always see eye to eye on some things. But, there is one thing that she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt. There is a piece of my heart that is always and will always be hers. I can just see creative script letters tagged.......Carrie .

I love you, sweetheart! Always and forever. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Introducing the Blazers

Let's start with the other coaches:

Ezra is Izac's dad. I have known Ezra for a few years and our kids have played together for the second year in a row. Frank joked that when he first met Ezra, he thought he was one of the kids. His reasoning there was Ezra's dress. Blazer jersey, baggy shorts, and his Blazer hat on backwards. Frank jokingly named him is defensive coordinator. Ezra would get right down with the kids and has some pretty good skill of his own.

Sam is Jake's dad. I have known him since football when he was an assistant coach of the Jake's diner Chargers. Sam was the co-coach of the Bend High developmental team that Jay played on also. Sam has a very positive attitude and is very athletic. Frank and I were both surprised to find out that he was just a few years younger than us. We gave him the name of offensive coordinator although for a few weeks when Frank was hurt, Sam took over the team.

Frank, my best friend and co-conspirator on many fronts. I have always know his ability to relate to kids and his basketball skills and watched him coach his kids teams in earlier years. As head coach, Frank got right down to the kids level and explained what he was doing in ways that as I coined latter "put the fun in fundamentals".

Me....the general manager and team owner (in a way). I know that I am not a coach but I love kids and especially one particular one that I would do just about anything for.

The Team, I will give you their nicknames first:

"Mighty Mouse"

The best way to describe Izac is natural. He seems to just 'be the ball' in a way. He can drive, shoot, rebound, and defend better than most. Teams that don't know him can easily be lulled by his size and ease of play...then he slashes to the middle and scores amongst players twice his size. Others who knew his skill , collapsed in on him leaving others open and Izac would find them for a sometimes easy assist.


Scotty is the smallest on the team but has one of the biggest hearts. His scrappy defense where he was all over his counter part earned him not only his nickname but became the name for the defensive mode that we employed our team to use. He also had a very sweet shot when he got open and had someone pass the ball to him


Micah played with allot of passion. While he at times was distracted by that same passion, he had an incredible knack for cutting away from his defender and hitting some pretty good shots in our games. We could always count on Micah for points when needed.

"Mr. Positive"

You got to love Kurt's attitude. He is always smiles. He could step in front of a pass and drive back down the other way and never let that infectious smile on his face lag. He was hard on defense and made some pretty good shots for us. Frank noticed something outside of that big smile, however, as when Kurt would miss a basket, even with the smile on his face, he would give a guttural growl as he ran back down the floor.

"EverReady Battery"

I also name him Carrot top as his hair although blond reminded me of the well known comedian. Russel's energy was unsurpassed. He would give you his all at all times and if the ball was close to him, he was right there on it. In one game, when we were short handed, Russel was a key in our win that week. Unfortunately, Russel missed the last few games and his team missed his smile and hard work ethic.

"Wiley Coyote"

Sam's son, Jake was given many names before we stuck with this one. He was a force for the team both on offense and defense. He got his nickname from his drives down the court in some of the games. You could see the intensity and see his brain working as he drove down the court. But sometimes he was ahead of his own thoughts and just like Wiley, found himself crashing on the court, onetime even sliding down on his elbow and having to come out to get himself bandaged back up.


The first practice, I wasn't sure that Marcus wanted to be there. I later realized that he just did not know much of the others. Marcus was by far the most coach able boy on the team. He absorbed whatever you told him and did exactly as he was told. He really started to excel when we made him point guard and ended up being our best man at that spot. In our last game, he got stuck in the middle of the key. He could not find a man to pass to so he curled around his defender and flipped the ball into the basket in a heady play that few his age could accomplish. Bottom line, Marcus was a thinker.

"Clark Kent (looking for his phone booth)"

I loved this boy. Maybe cause I felt I could relate to him. He was quiet on the outside but I felt their was more there inside than met the eye. I knew I was right in the last week of practice when his team won a competition that Frank had set up. Miles was so excited that he pumped his fist high into the air. In our last game, Miles got his first shot and you could see the excitement in his eyes. I never saw it but the parents told me of a leap in that last game that was unbelievable. I truly believe that if Miles puts his mind to it, he could a player in his coming high school years. By far our best improved player.


Whenever he was close to the ball, there was an explosion of energy. In one game, he actually flipped one of the larger players from the other team over his back trying to get the ball away from him. In the halftime of the last game, he said, "I just want to make one basket". "OK, Hawk, get the rebounds. That will be your best chance of getting that shot". Haaken became tenacious on the boards and soon had his put back basket. His hand shot high into the air with explosive excitement.

"Rock Solid"

I know I am bias here but when the team heard the nick name, no further description was needed. They all yelled out, "Jayden"!. I am so proud of Jay's play. He has incredible natural skill and does not get over excited on the court just plays hard. His game is very well rounded and he can play any position with flair. In one game against a much taller defender, Jay was blocked when he went up for a shot. He was on the bench shortly after and I called him over. "You can juke that guy, I know you can". "Yes, papa", was all that he said. The next time in he did just that, faking him and getting him off of his feet allowing Jay to drive around him for an easy lay up. Soon afterwards, he did the same and when another defender left his man, Jay found the other teammate who made another easy lay up. That night at supper, I was bragging how Jay juked the bigger player. Without looking up from his food, he merely said, "Papa, it is called a pump fake".

There you have them...the Jake's Diner Blazers. A team embedded in my heart and mind.

Jake's Diner Blazers

I have been sponsoring a couple of Jay's sports teams a year. I think it is a worthy marketing investment for any business for it accomplishes a few things. Your name is out there permanently on small shirts that are used for many years in some cases. I have seen young kids wearing shirts that were from teams that I have sponsored last year. You are supporting worthy parks and rec programs that help build strong minds and bodies. But, the most important aspect is that it gives you a connection with the kids and in my case, an additional way to connect with my grandson, who I am so incredibly proud of in so many ways.

I remember his eyes lighting up when I asked him if he would like me to coach one of his teams. I told him that it all counted on whether or not I could talk my friend (and his friend), Frank into helping out. I have watched Frank coach young basketball teams that his kids were on and knew that if I could talk him into it, that the kids would get so much out of the experience along with Frank. Frank agreed and we signed ourselves up to co-coach the Jake's Diner Blazers.

Jay was already on the Bend High developmental team and we soon received a list of boys that included 6 others on it. I remember looking down at that list and wondering how we could make it work. After all, on any given week, someone would either be sick or away and how could we play a full game, let alone just foot a team to play. I talked to one of the coaches of the Bend team who I had made friends with in football and we soon had two of the COBA kids on our team. A third boy showed up at our first practice and we had ourselves a complete team.

I was in awe of Frank's ability to coach and relate to these boys and realized early on that my ability to coach was extremely limited. First off, I love the game but never was able to play it well enough as a youth to make a team. It was a sport that one of my brothers excelled in but as the last of three young boys, I paled in their shadow so I stuck with my what I could do best which was running. I knew I could assist, however, having doing so with my daughters team a few years back where I learned that my spot on the end of the bench could affect young minds in many ways. While the head coach worked on their skills, I worked on their emotions and focus.

The following weeks, I entered the lives of ten boys in an experience that I will remember the rest of my life and a connection that I hope will last long into the future.

Yesterday was our last game. The team had members that many of our boys knew well including the son of the Bend High team and was coached by their head coach. We picked up a couple of other coaches ourselves along the way including Bend's co-coach and one of the our boy's dad, who I have known for a few years. Jay had asked me if I would coach one of the games so I decided that it would have to be this one.

I felt very inadequate compared to the other three men but knew that with their assistance, I could pull it off. I sat up last night working out a plan to include all of the boys in equal time as it was their last game and since the goal of this program is for them to play not necessarily win. But, especially this game, these boys wanted to win.

My plan and blend of boys seem to work well at first and we traded baskets back and forth with the Sixers. Our boys seemed to have added spark in them and played far and above their best game in many cases. It is an powerful feeling squatting down in the middle of a huddle of young boys and to have them actually listen to you as you speak. That feel is actually indescribable.

Now, there is no keeping score officially in these games but you know the parents have that one and our group of parents were an especially vocal group totally wrapped in the excitement of the game. The din that I heard behind me was as loud as any high school game that I remember.

After halftime, I set my only play. We had two plays that we worked on in practice that I had our two point guards shuffle at their own decision but I had a variation of one of them that was sticking in my mind. It was a play that Jay had cooked up in his ever thinking mind and had named "peanut" some reason or other. With the point guard bringing the ball down the floor, the four other boys would set themselves up straight across the front of the key. The guard would pass to one of the two outer boys and then use one of the inner boys as a block to cut towards the basket and hopefully catch a pass back from that same boy. I wondered if the guard ran in between the two boys in the middle if that would make him even more open from blocks on both of his sides. I quickly wrote up the play on my clipboard that Jay had given to me as a Christmas present and sent the boys back out on the floor.

As things would go in the case of young minds, their was a little confusion on the floor and the pass ended up going to one of the inner boys but the rest of the play worked to perfection and the return pass to the cutting guard found him open under the basket for an easy two points. We then went on a roll of baskets that put us safely out in front.

It became evident in the second half that the team was having fun when Jake, Coach Sam's son started playing a one on one dance with the coaches son from the other team. A glint in Jake's eye and a huge smile lent to a determined crouch and dribble from one hand to the other while the other boy positioned himself to try and stop Jake and the rest of the kids sort of cleared out to let them have their fun. The crowd loved the entertainment.

In the middle of the fourth quarter, the other team caught fire and scored a couple of baskets. Frank leaned over and said, "Good time for a time out". I looked at the clock and thought to myself that a whole new team was soon to hit the floor and ignored his request. Soon a couple more baskets put the other team in the lead. Our new team hit the floor and I hoped that it would be the change and was soon to see that it was. We scored two quick baskets including a very sweet tear drop from a driving Jay who cut right through them middle of the defense and prompted a quick time out from the other coach.

From there, the intensity seemed to blossom with the screams of a extremely excited parents and grandparents behind me, I all of a sudden hit a wall of sorts of realizing that I was very far out of my league. I leaned over to Frank and said, "I really don't know what to do here. If we need a time out, you talk". With two minutes left, the rest of our boys pleaded with me to put our best boys out on the floor. I looked out at how hard the ones on the floor were playing and just could not do it. As much as I wanted to win the game, the boys that were out there were giving it their all and it just didn't seem fair to take the time away from two of them just to try and win. It hit me that this was what it was all about....not winning but letting the boys feel the experience.

The other coach called a time out and I stared at a group of panting and hard working boys who were staring at me waiting for word on what they should do.....and I had nothing to say as I was in awe of them. They were playing their hearts out and I was overwhelmed by the whole thing. The few seconds of uncomfortable silence were broken with Frank encouraging them on and his voice broke my silence and I yelled out as the group threw their hands in the middle, "Just go out there and have fun!".

With seconds on the clock, one of our boys was driving to the basket and had his arm whacked hard right in front of our bench and more importantly, in front of the screaming parents. The ball flew out of bounds and the refs who had not seen it, sent it down the other way with the other team. The parents screamed with the insurrection and I admit that I too yelled out, "Foul!" with my now very hoarse voice. I raised a hand to try and settle down the angry mob behind me. The game soon finished with what I was told was a draw. We had tied the other team.

My coaching debut finished, I bagged up the balls and headed down quickly to the diner to insure that the food was ready for the final party for the team.

The whole experience has left me with a feel and permanent memory that I am sure I will experience over and over in my brain for the rest of my life. I know that I will always have stories of how I once coached my grandson's team. I wonder, however, how much those stories will change or become embellished along the way. All I know is that they will be there and this will be ranked up there with one of the most impacting experiences of my life.

Monday, March 8, 2010 Francine?

His name is Frank. Most people know him here in Central Oregon as that big guy with the crazy car. His latest car is a Chrysler Sebring convertible. You might have seen him driving down the road in a snowstorm with the top down, his dogs and cats hanging out the side. He has glued a montage of things on his hood and trunk attempting to turn his car into a work of art. I am kind of surprised that he has not been pulled over to insure that nothing will fly off going down the road and hit the car behind him.

Frank has been to just about all the churches in town. I recall the first time that I saw him, years ago in my church he was making demands that people needed to feed him. A few years back, he began playing a guitar down town close to the Pine Tavern and I actually thought that was OK. At least he was earning his keep.

He has come in in the evening a time or two and although has been demanding and annoying, he has not given me what I would call true cause to ask him to leave. Even lately, with his newest attempt at either art or making a statement. Frank has decided to become a cross-dresser. We all just pretty much ignored that...just as long as he didn't bother anyone.

This morning, as the Band of Brothers began to filter in, Cindy warned me that he was there. I looked and saw him in the entry way but it didn't look as if he was going to stay and I figured if he goes into the back room and just eats, who cares.

I was making a coffee round and the room was filling up when I noticed him. He had brought a chair over to the entryway to the main floor. He sat down on that chair, facing the guys on the floor. Hiking up his short dress, he sat legs spread right out so that all could see his fishnet stockings and blue panties. His blouse cut clear down to his belly button, with gaudy necklaces and ear rings dangling down. He had make up on and had combed his hair in a sort of bangs.

I walked up to him and asked him to move. I told him that he was blocking the entrance which was very much the truth. I hoped that he would just leave or at least go into the back room and not cause to much of a scene. But no such luck.

The next time that I came into the room, he was talking to Zin about joining the group. I grabbed Zin and asked him to follow me. We went into the waitress station and I explained that I was going to have to do something. "This is going to get real ugly if I don't, you know that.", I said. Zin agreed to back me up and one of the girls yelled into me that I needed to do something now as a couple of the vets were just about to take matters into their own hands.

I stepped out onto the floor with Zin on my back. Frank was explaining to Lauren, our vet who takes the pictures that when he takes his picture, he wants a full on shot, not just his face. "Frank!", I spoke, louder than normal. "Please follow me." I lead him to the entry way and out one of the doors. I was so glad that he agreed to follow me because I was in my mind preparing for if he refused. I knew there were enough big vets in that room that if we needed to we could just carry him out.

I was happy to see Tony, another friend and brother standing at the end of the building. With adequate backing, I made my announcement, "Frank, I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone and I am now refusing service to you. Please leave and don't come back.". Now I have heard that Frank has an anger problem but he could easily see that he was far out manned with the two marines by my side. He started to walk away and then turned around and said, "But, they let gays in the military now.". "I don't give a damn about that, Frank, you are not welcomed her. Please leave and do not come back.".

With that, he left. I stood there shaking from the ordeal. I turned to Zin and said, "I have been in this business over 30 years now and I can count on one hand the number of people that I have said what I just said to him. In all my years, he is my third.". I went back into my office to help calm my nerves. I am sure that my face was quite red from it all. Judy stuck her head in the door and suggested that I call the police to at least get it on record of which I did. They told me that the next time he comes in to call them and they will make it official. After that, if he comes back in, it is criminal trespass.

As I walked through the floor pouring coffee, vet after vet thanked me for doing what I had done. But, through it all, I have no anger or hatred for Frank. Only sadness and sorrow that he feels the need for attention so badly that he does what he does. I just only hope that he heeds my words and that we don't have the need for another confrontation.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Phone Call

I was setting up for poker last evening when Chris, our cashier came back with the phone.

"I have a very strange call here", he said. "It is one of those operators like the deaf use. I thought it was an order and then they said they would only talk to the owner".

I took the phone and asked how I could be of assistance. The operator, very monotone asked me if I understood how the system worked. I have talked to deaf people before on the phone having hired one years ago so I said , "Yes".

The following is a somewhat remembrance of the call. My frustration and stress from trying to finish my job before all of the people arrived probably clouded my thoughts but it went something like this:

Operator: What would you like to say to them.
Me: Tell them that I am the owner and how can I help them.
You must speak as if you were speaking to them not to me.
Ok, I am the owner. How can I help you.
Is that what you want to say?
Then tell me end of message
OK, end of message
What did you say after I am the owner.
How can I help you.
No, what did you say after I am the owner
I said, How can I help you.
Was that the end of message
Wait a minute while I relay the message.
They say, I would like to order.....
(I interrupt as Chris can take an order so I don't hear all that she says)
If it is an order that you want, Chris can easily take that.
Please do not interrupt, the other party is speaking. I would like to order this for March 6th to be picked up by private courier. I have my credit card ready to pay.
How would you like to respond?
What did you just say?
How would you like to respond?
No, before that.
I need you to respond. It is now your turn.
I would but I don't know what you said. Will you restate their message.
Please don't talk to me, talk to them. What do you want to say to them.
I am talking to you. I did not hear their response. Please repeat it.
Sir, I told you not to talk to me. Talk to them.
I don't know what they said.
Is that what you want to say to them.
That is what I am saying to you.
Please don't talk to me. I am the operator.
(I went silent....frustrated by the conversation)
Ok, tell them that I need more information. that the operator will not repeat what you are saying.
What did you say after more information? (funny, she could talk to me but I could not talk to her)
I said, that the operator will not repeat what you are saying.
Is that all?
You need to say "End of Message"
Ok, end of message.
Wait while I get their response
(A few minutes later came the response)
I would like to order 200 orders of Chicken breast and salad for my husband's birthday on March 6th to be picked up by private courier around 6PM. I am prepared to pay with my credit card. How much will you charge me? End of message
Is that all?
Is that what you want to say to them?
No, I am talking to you. There is so much more that needs to be known of this order. Do they want a full meal, what kind of salad dressing, do they want.....
(she cuts me off, curtly)
Sir, I said don't talk to me talk to them. I can only be the interpreter.
Well then, interpret this...... I need more information.
Is that all?
Then say end of message.
(Now all of the people around me are seeing the frustration and laughing at my obvious plight)
I need more information...end of message.......Mam, I am really busy right now and am working on a charity event. I cannot give my attention to all of this.
Sir, you cant put more after end of message. Do you want me to move that end of message to the end of message?
No, I am telling you that I cannot continue as I am needed here.
Would you like me to tell them that?
No, tell them that I need more information before I can give them a price.
Is that all?
Then please say end of message
End of message
Ok, please wait while I get their response.
(a few more minutes go by before the response returns)
They say, I would like to order 200 orders of Chicken breast and salad for my husband's birthday on March 6th to be picked up by private courier at 6PM. Please give me a price, I am ready to pay by credit card.
I can't give them a price based on that? I need more information.
Don't talk to me, I am the operator, talk only to them.
I am telling you that this is very frustrating
(She interrupts, now more louder, shouting over my voice)
I said, Don't talk to only to them.
This is very hard. I need more information. I need to know so much more.
Is that what you want to tell them?
I am telling you.
Don't talk to me. talk only to them.
I need to give my attention to the people that are here for my charity event.
Is that what you want me to say to them?
Why can you talk to me and I cannot talk to you.
Please sir, say only what you want to say to them and then follow it with end of message so that I know you are done.
But I need so much more information.
Is that what you want me to say to them?
Mam, I am going to hang up
Is that what you want me to say to them...if so say end of message.
I am telling you that I cannot continue and that I need to hang up the phone.
Don't talk to me, talk only to them.
(Silence for a few minutes.....I am now totally frazzled. I don't know how to say. I don't know how to get my point across and I don't know how I can possibly finish this conversation that is now far more than 30 minutes)
I need them to come in and see me for an order like this.
Don't talk to only to them.
I am sorry
Is that what you want me to say to them.
I am sorry.....end of message

Totally frustrated, I drop my shoulders, hang up the phone, and hand the phone to Chris. I look around and wonder if it was a prank call. As I process it in my mind, I can only feel that it was real. I wonder if the person on the other end was as frustrated as me. A simple help by the operator in the middle could of helped but I still don't see how I could have completed the transaction. Even being able to speak directly to the person and get immediate response, there are so many variables that it often takes quite a bit to complete something like this.
Do they want bulk? Do they want only Chicken Breast and salad? What kind of dressing? Will you have your own containers? How many Chicken Breasts per person do you want? Do you want that in individual meals and if so, with the normal potato and veggie? The list can go on and on and can change with each response.

I suppose looking back at it, I should have just said, "Yes, it will be $2000. That is $10 per order.

Oh, and don't forget......end of message