Monday, May 31, 2010

An extreme week

I think this last week has been one of the busiest that I have felt in a while. Every day seemed to have it's unique twist or event and I always seemed to be on the move from when my feet hit the floor till my head hit the pillow. I can only attempt to recap the best that I can.

Monday. I was late setting up for the Band of Brothers which threw me behind but we got the event off on time and Zin did his usual great job as MC. I really appreciate that big marine. Afterwards, Judy and I swung by Kevin's house and looked at his 55 gallon fish tank. It seemed perfect for Jayden and we called Casey to help move it over to the house. At last Friday's doctor appointment, the doc found a lump in my abdomen. She wanted blood work done and told me not to lift anything heavy till that blood work had come through positive. I was not going to tell Judy till the results came through but she soon realized something was wrong when I did not want to lift the tank. She and I drove down to Lava Lanes to see Frank and his crew as they practiced for Saturday's tourney for the Wall. We also met Zin there and Zin agreed to help take the tank to the house. I did not practice myself because of the weight of the ball. We picked up Jayden from school, then drove back to the diner where we picked up Zin and Casey and went to get the tank. Jay's eyes lit up when he realized that this was going to be his tank. He was so excited. After taking it to the house, I drove back down to the diner and made ready for the evenings poker tourney. I played well again and ended up in third place. With three players left, I thought I was making my move. I had pocket aces and chose to try and cripple my buddy, Dave. With all small cards up, I went all in after the turn. An old poker pros words were ringing in my ear. "Never let them see the river". But, it was too late, Dave had hit his straight on the turn. So, instead of having the chip lead, I was out. I went home afterwards and watched the last show of 24. Like Lost the night before, it left me with so many questions.

Tuesday had no event but I always seemed to be on the run. As I look back to it, I don't recall any specific remembrances but I was able to help Judy get the now cleaned up tank into the living room. Judy and I took Jay to the pet store to look at plants and things for the tank. We found the best filter and heater for it and I put both of those things into the tank. Jay had a Lacrosse game and I went and watched but left early to make it to the VVA meeting to talk of July 4th when we host the BBQ for them. One of the guys asked me to share of my experience with Lynn (the lady from Vietnam) and I gladly spoke of how it made me feel. As I talked, I realized that some of the guys really understood how much impact something like that had. So many of us still struggle with what happened after the war and good stories like that are always helpful with that healing.

Wednesday was the day of our big event of the week. Race Night was started four years ago when Jerry Bugge came to me and asked if we could do something to promote the Madras Drags where he races. I contacted the speedway also and they jumped on board and Race Night was formed. Last year, it had been so huge that cars were parked all the way to the street on both sides. The weather did not look promising so I decided on a positive spin and wore my shorts. The day started out with the Model A club who meets at the diner every Wednesday. After breakfast with the boys, I drove to the Elks club to help one of them out who wanted me to talk to their kitchen manager and give him some pointers. I found that the manager was doing a very good job with what he had in front of him and hopefully helped the Elk board realize that. All day long, I told people the weather was going to be great and when Clemens from KTVZ called and asked if we were interested in the TV station doing the weather at the event, I became excited that the event was going to be a good one regardless of the weather. Before I knew it, it was after 4 and the cars were rolling in. Clemens showed up with the microwave truck and the closer the event, the more my adrenaline rose. When one of the events happen, I want everything to be perfect so end up running around in circles a bit. I had placed my A on the road with signs on the back and so I brought it in and placed it in the line along with the others. The band showed up and we quickly decided to set up on the deck where it was drier. The keyboardist, twice Grammy award winner Andy had a very expensive keyboard and we were concerned of the possible rain. Jeff, the drummer who sometimes drums for Meryl Haggard showed up and soon the Taelour project was singing the blues. Jimmy had the BBQ ready right on time and I worried at the lack of participants as we seemed to have the Model A's, the dragsters, the speedsters, and just a few locals and lookers. In the middle of it all, I received a call from my doctor at the VA. I had two more small spots that need to be removed. She stressed that they were very early stage Melanoma which made me feel better. I asked of the blood work and she said that it was positive. That made the lump in my stomach not a real problem but she had contacted my main doctor and said that it still should be looked at. Six O'clock came and so did the rain and hail. I stood out front under the roof watching the cars get pelted. Ben, the KTVZ weatherman was under an umbrella making ready for his first shoot and Clemens had the camera wrapped up tight with only the lens showing outwards. Jimmy, the ultimate jester as he BBQ ed yelled out, "What the hail is this!" which brought out laughter from all around. The weather subsided and with the blue sky came customers. They had seen us on the news and decided to come on out. So, KTVZ turned my BBQ from a loss to a pretty good night. I left sometime around 9, exhausted. I felt real bad for Kara, our pregnant waitress who seemed equally tired and asked Kevin the cook to make sure he helped her out in getting things ready for the next day. I drew a bath, soaked for a bit, and then curled up into my much appreciated bed.

You know, I could go on and on and fill up the space on this virtual page with event after event but just these three days will give you an idea of my present day life and why I have not posted that much lately. Maybe I should try and post daily but my reason for not is rather clear and simple. I don't want to bore anyone with just trivial facts.

Thanksgiving is a half year away but we should not wait for a day. We should be thankful every day for our daily sustenance, our house that protects us, our car that gives us transportation, our jobs that allow us the ability to purchase those items, and last but certainly first and foremost, our friends and family that support and encourage us. No matter what is thrown in front of us, everyday brings new challenges and fresh blessings.

And I thank God for all of it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Busy Days Chapter Two

Jimmy had all prepared for the Spaghetti feed. The cause was the WWII Historical Hwy Project. Judy and I were donating to food, Jimmy was donating his time, the Band of Brothers were helping, and Bob and Jane from Lazy Boy Furniture were providing the Ice Cream. So, it was kind of a joint venture. All of the proceeds were to be given to the Bend Heroes Fund.

But, I had committed myself somewhere else also. I was to join some of the High Desert A's downtown to help the Historical Society raise funds at the old Fire Hall. I was to be a moonshiner and the society hoped to have a still to put in the back of my rig.

So, I came dressed to the Spaghetti feed in the same outfit. Our group was to get the front of the line and then leave early for the second event. Zin was given the honors of MC of the event and we set up a microphone in the corner for him to announce from.

But, at 3:45, we still did not have the till closed out from our regular eaters and the lobby was getting very full with spaghetti eaters. I asked Ted how quickly he felt he could get finished and he said to give him just a couple. People started packing in the entry and out the door but Ted soon finished and relinquished the till to Richard from the Band of Brothers who began ringing up the sales for the feed.

Right at 4, we opened up the line with the A's at the front of it. When I was sure that the flow was going well, I grabbed a plate and served myself from the rear and sat down with a couple of the group. I appreciate the support that the Model A club has given us in all of these events. The club has truly become a part of my family in many ways. I feel so comfortable around all of them.

After my plate of delicious spaghetti (I truly love our recipes there), I saw Bob Pfeifer for a scoop of Spumoni Ice Cream that he had donated along with the help of Eberhard Dairy. I sat down with our friend, Anne, who has also become one of the family in many ways also. When Anne comes in nearly every day for breakfast, one of us usually ends up sitting with her and talking. I really enjoy her presence and her smile.

As quickly as I can down the ice cream it is time to go and I ask Zin to give the announcements before we leave. I stood with him and Dick Tobiason in the corner as he spoke and then jumped in my A and drove in convoy downtown.

Kip had his old firetruck and parked it out front while the rest of us grabbed the parking lot in the back. The number of spaces was perfect and seven of us slid into them. I had gotten some mason jars from my mom's well room, washed them, and filled them with water looking very much like clear moonshine. The society could not get their hands on a still so I just place the jars on the tailgate.

An old heavy jeans coat that my crew way back in the 90's had given me helped to keep me warm as we all gathered around to assist the Deschutes County Historical Society as sort of eye candy for a fund raising event that was suppose to be like you were back in the early 30's. Scanlon's had been converted into a speak easy with it's back window overlooking our parking lot.

Steve from the Bend PD who always seems to be at these events has once again volunteered and shows up as the police officer who is to be always walking around primarily looking for someone like me. We joke around and he shows us his memorabilia of the day including a hand cuff device called a 'come along' and a night stick that doubles as a tear gas grenade launcher. I had no idea they had devices like that back then. Steve jokingly arrests me while others take pictures but soon lets me go when I promise him a 'swaller or two' of 'shine'.

Judy called me from the Spaghetti feed to let me know that they had raised over $1300 and that she was about to give the donation to Dick Tobiason and Bob Maxwell. She said that she had gotten a few good pictures including a very cute one of one of the brothers grandson who comes to the meetings with his grandpa every week.

The cold starts to get to our group and the society invited us inside for a cup of coffee. We all gladly came in with half of us in the 'speak easy' room and the other half out front just in front of the bar. The bar has the original slider pole from the old fire station running right in the middle of it. We are told that a lawyers office is at the top of the pole and someone jokes that he wonders if that is how the lawyer comes down after hours.

After a warm up, I went back outside and met up with Kip and Kathy out front looking in a store window that seems to have hats from that era in it. Across the street is the new Oxford Hotel and a couple walked out from the hotel entrance and crossed the street looking at Kip's truck that is parked right behind a larger old fire truck that was actually used by the early Bend Fire Station.
I thought I recognised the couple and were pleased to find them to indeed be the man who lives right behind my parents house along with his daughter who used to work for me years ago. They both came over and gave me a hug and explained that he was at the hotel for a orchestra event as he was in the orchestra. They had a few minutes and walked around back to see my rig.

The night begins to darken and soon the guys and gals are jumping in their rigs and heading out as most of us don't like driving them after dark. I jumped in mine with Speedy following and drove back to the diner. While they put their car up on the trailer, I checked out the diner to make sure it was ready for Monday and reset the alarms. I soon was back in my A and heading home.
I was bone tired but being somewhat of a "Lost" freak decided to watch the finale. The coffee did have me up a bit anyway but I just could not bring myself to drive over to Casey's house to join his 'Lost' party and just set myself up in my TV room.

While enjoying it, I was left with so many questions just like most of the rest of the viewers and decided to watch the show following it hoping to get some answers only to find out that the actual cast did not even have them. I was shocked when I looked at the clock and realized that it was 2AM.

I turned off the TV with visions of 'Lost' still bouncing around in my head. So, which life was real? Was it all about Jack? What happened to the guys in the plane that got off of the island? How were they able to get that large plane off of that small strip? My mind pondered on those things but was tired enough to pull itself into sleep to prepare for yet 'Another Busy Day'.
It is the life I have chose. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Busy Days Chapter One

My days can often times seem to just blend together into what seems like a constant stream of events with a short period of rest at the end of them.

Today is Wednesday and my last few days have been packed with events, meetings, people, friends, and work.

A good taste of that would probably be Sunday. I awoke and headed in early to try and get some paperwork done before the busiest day of the week started. I grabbed the receipts from the day before and slipped into my office seemingly without too many people knowing that I was there.

I quickly sorted out the receipts along with bills that needed to be paid when I was called out front by a customer. The customer was an old friend and his family. I had not seen them all together since the early 90's when two of the kids (now adults) worked for me at the diner. I laughed and joked with them all and they asked me if I would take a picture of them all out in front of the diner. I agreed and it was then that I noticed that the father was quite frail looking. After taking the picture and getting hugs from all of the family, I met up with the parents at the register where they were paying for their meals. As the dad left, the mom informed me of why her husband looked so frail. He has terminal cancer. Obviously the reason that the whole family was together. The thought of it shook me to the core. Not only because I know this man but because of my own dealings. On Friday past, I had four more biopsies done and have to wait for a couple of weeks to get the results. It is imperative that I stay diligent with this and catch these small spots as early as possible. When I saw my friend, I was sad and yet thankful that my own is able to be caught in such early stages that it does not impair me nor cause me need for anything other than small surgeries.

As I walked around the room, pouring coffee and greeting guests, one of them stopped me as he was going up to pay his bill. I recognized his face but could go no further. He ended up being a near and dear friend from quite a few years back. My mind raced for memories of our last encounter and I remembered a funeral that I had seen him at and went over and sat next to him. He has always been a kind and sensitive man and the next day, I was surprised with a phone call from him thanking me for sitting next to him at the event. He said something like "It meant more to me than you can imagine". Such kindnesses and conversations like that burn into your memory as a cataloged event of sorts that I will never forget. I told him that we needed to stay in touch this time and he told me to look him up on facebook. I did that evening and am now linked up with him there. It is my hope that we will see each other in shorter breaks than 10 years or so.

The day kicked into gear and the paperwork stayed on my desk as I made my rounds around the diner, pouring coffee, busing tables, sorting food, picking up spills, moving tables, assisting the greeter, and talking with customers and staff. I had found a few day old cinnamon rolls and had taken them into the kitchen to be transformed into cinnamon roll french toast for one of the specials. The older cinnamon rolls make especially good and rich french toast and to me are quite the treat. I pampered myself the other day with one as a sort of trial or lets say 'quality control'.

The day seemed to fly by and I took the first break to go back to the office to finish off the work. Soon a knock came to the door and Casey handed me a phone. A very rough voice on the other end chastised me.
"You are the fourth person that I have talked to. Doesn't anyone down there no what the hell is going on?".
"How can I help you sir?"
"Who do I write my check out to?"
"You check for what, sir?"
"For the damned spaghetti feed, what else?"
I smiled to myself and said, "Well, sir, I am not really sure either but I will look it up for you."
"Don't any of you down there no what is going on?"
"Sir, we are merely producing the event for a needy and worthy cause. This is their event and I will be assisting them. Wait a second and I can look up the actual name of the organization as it was just recently formed."
I looked up a recent email from Dick Tobiason and gave him the name of the foundation, "Bend Heroes Foundation".
He had me say the words slowly one at a time.
"Bend, as in Bend, Oregon"
"Heroes as in they are heroes that we are trying to honor. In this case, the WWII vets"
"I am one of those heroes"
"Good, then we can honor you will you join us at the spaghetti feed today and then also in two weeks when we honor you all in Sunriver"
That confused him and so I explained to him that the money that was raised that afternoon would help pay for the cost of the signs along the highway and the kick off event in Sunriver in two weeks. I went into detail but the more detail, the more confused he seemed to be. I left him with the hope that I would see him that afternoon. I then went searching for the reason that it took four people to finally get to me. The cashier had taken the initial call. The man had yelled at him when he got his directions mixed up. "Don't you know north from south?". So, the busy cashier had passed it on to the greeter. The greeter thinking that he wanted a to go order then passed it on to one of the waitresses. This particular waitress does not hear as well and with the ringing of the diner in her other ear ends up passing it on to Casey. Just as soon as Casey hears the mean voice on the other end of the line, he knows that it is best for me to take the call. Sigh.
I informed the cashier that the next time, just transfer to phone to me immediately.

That small distraction behind me (took up nearly an hour), I sat down for a quick bite to eat before heading home to get change and get my Model A. I changed into my overalls, long underwear shirt, and old hat. I sprayed out my beard and put my corn cob pipe in my mouth to check on the look in the mirror before heading out. As I came down the stairs a startled Mia (toy pom) barked at the stranger who had invaded her space. After hearing my voice, she calmed down and I soon had the A fired up and was heading back to work.

I arrived back right at three to find quite a few eaters still in the diner. A couple stepped in the door who had just gotten back from San Antonio where they took their picture outside a Jake's there who's logo was very similar to ours. I checked to see that the grill was still on and told them to leave it on for a second longer while the waitress took the last order.

While the last diners were finishing up, we cleared off both of the counters and made ready for the buffet style feed.

With that, I will close off this post as Chapter one. I fear that the whole thing might end up looking like a book and besides, I need to get back to sleep for my busy day ahead. I will attempt to finish this off either later on today or tomorrow night when I wake up in the middle of the night and need to write simply to rest my head so I can continue to rest.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And then came the good

Her name is Lynn. Her real name is Lin Thi Dang. Being Vietnamese, I am sure they pronounced that Dang Thi Lin as the given name comes last over there. She was born in 1962 and as a child in Vietnam lived the hard times of the war along with a pretty tough early life. She came close to dying a few times, and while our paths crossed years ago and miles away, we did not know one another. That is until yesterday. And now, hopefully, we will be friends for many years to come having witnessed one of the most impacting events of the last century from two totally different angles and directions.

You see, she was a part of my Vietnam experience when my ship took on 4500 Vietnam refugees from Phan Rang (not to far from Saigon) at the end of the war. We were not sure that she was on my ship until we met one another, shared our story, looked at pictures, and realized that we were at the same place at the same time over 35 years ago.

As I waited for her to arrive, I sat with a few of my buddies from the Band of Brothers. They laughed at me as they saw how distracted I was, starring at my pictures that brought back so many memories and constantly looking at my watch as I waited for the exciting meet. "Lyle", they laughed, "are you here?" "Hey, is there something or someone you are waiting for". I am not an excitable guy but they could all tell that I was on pins and needles.

Lynn brought her family with her. Her adopted parents, Lyle and Barbara, with Lyle not only having my name but looking somewhat like me (without the beard). We exchanged hugs and greetings and then took some pictures before sitting down at the big table in our back room to begin sharing . Lynn and I sat together with her daughter, Sara and Sara's husband, Matt on her other side.

I had a few pages of the event and I showed them to Lynn as I told her my side of memories. We seemed to go back and forth and soon realized that our memories were very much alike. Lynn said that as she looked at my pictures (her first that she had seen since it happened) she began having memories of the time that showed her that it must have been the same ship.

One of her biggest memories was the man who helped her aboard.  "He was so brave", she said, "His arm was cut and he just kept on working.".

They warned me that Lynn was a very quiet woman so her grin and talkative nature showed me that she was just as excited about this as I was . As I shared things, she would say, "Oh yea" and I found myself doing the same thing as she spoke. I said that the boats full of refugees came on the ship like bees. "Yes", she explained, "It was like they were swarming. Everyone wanted on the ship.". She told of waiting for the ship that they were told was out there and I told her how we were out to sea but were not allowed to come in yet.

When things happened , they happened fast. The North Vietnamese were attacking the city, and the people were trying to get out. We only had two days to pick up as many as possible. We saw, heard, and felt the same thing from two totally different angles. I told her of seeing what I felt was a church attacked and she explained of the large Catholic group that was in the area. We both spoke of a point of land that must have been the headlands that were just south east of the town.

A bond of friendship seemed to grow between my family and hers as I fielded questions from her various family members. Then her son in law, Matt, thanked me. He said that if we had not saved her life, his wife would not be here today. As I listened to him, I saw tears in his eyes, along with Sara and Lynn herself. I was so deeply touched that I fought back my own but I am sure they could see them welling up.

I informed him that Lynn was the story here. Not me. I was merely someone there doing his job. I was not the one who was struggling for their lives. I had a bed to lay in, food to eat, and the freedom to move around.

We talked so long and deep that I didn't realize that they had also came in for lunch and soon had Cindy taking orders for all as we continued to reminisce.

Jay seemed excited when he found out that Lynn was quite the fisherman and Lynn asked him if he would like to go fishing with her some day. His face showed me his excitement there.

We spent nearly the entire afternoon together and left with even deeper hugs as friends. And I hope we remain that way for a long time. Thirty five years ago, a scared 13 yr old girl and a young sailor confused by what he saw. Today, Adults and Americans with proud and happy families around us both.

I guess you could say that yesterday was sort of healing time for both of us.

We have good days and we have bad

And I have had both in the last two days. I will start with the bad.

I drove up to the hospital Friday morning to visit two of my Band of Brother buddies there. Bill and Loren. These are the two guys in the group that give the group more of their time and resources than most. Loren takes pictures, prepares the book of the brothers, and purchases name tags for all new members. I am sure that he does not always enjoy this task but he took it on and has been very diligent at it. Bill has been the one who tries to acknowledge the vets for the things and places that they have been. He buys coins, patches, and hats and gives them out. He has bought me one of all. The group gave him money to help and he just bought more items with it. Bill has gone all over the state with members of the group to help acknowledge veterans.

As I stood in the lobby of the hospital, joking with Jack Mangin (my friend, my mentor, and the man who created Pilot Butte Drive Inn), a woman came to the counter asking for William Bussey. "Hey, I am going that way, let me walk you", I said. I walked to the elevators and out onto the floor with Bill's next door neighbor who is retired military along with her husband. As we walked into the waiting area outside his room, I could see something was wrong. Bill's wife was sitting with two people around her. You could see a shocked expression on her face. Bob Maxwell and Dick Tobiason were standing close by with gloom looks on their face.

We soon learned that Bill had just had his second cardiac arrest and the doctor was telling her that he would not survive. He took her to the other room and when she returned we were told that the decision was made to take him off of his machine. I was shocked. I had just talked with Bill the day before and his voice sounded strong as he explained that the doctors did not know what was causing him problems.

We all voiced our concern with Linda, Bill's wife and the three of us walked up to see Loren. We ran into the doctor there and asked him how long he felt Bill had. He informed us that Bill died immediately. My feelings were shock and sad at he same time. Bill was more my age. He was not suppose to leave us yet.

I walked out of the hospital in a sort of funk. I remember seeing Jack and mentioning it to him. Jack consoled me, telling me how sorry he was. I wonder how many that he deals with like that working at the hospital as he does. He and his wife have volunteered there since their retirement and sale of the business.

I drove back to the diner and walked into the office where Judy was sitting at my desk. "How did it go, sweetheart?", she asked. "Not good", I said, and explained what had just happened. I got on my computer to see if I could find a way to let as many of the brothers know as possible but found instead an email from Bill the day before he went to the hospital.

On Monday, I had gave announcements in Zin's place and had called Bill over to give out his awards. Bill struggled with the microphone and eventually gave up, handed it to me, and yelled out to the room. His email apologized for the incident (not needed) and then went on in typical Bill fashion to inform me that when Zin returns, we need to figure out that mic thing. For he was not going to use the mic and he was not going to yell. I could hear him speak as I read his words.

I had just witnessed my good buddies death and was now reading his last email to me. My heart was crushed by both of those thoughts as they collided in my brain. I have no good pictures of Bill on this computer but will put a couple that Dick Tobiason sent to me along with a sort of eulogy that Dick wrote from my work computer.

I loved Bill. And will always remember his crooked smile, his desire to acknowledge others before himself, and his unselfish willingness to give. And am stunned to now have lost three brothers in less than a month.

There is one positive, however, in that Bill had shared his faith with me. And there is no doubt in my mind that I will see him again one day. I wonder if he will be wearing his overalls and a Band of Brothers hat.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Jay, the fisherman

When Jay gets something stuck in his mind, he does not just think about it, he totally immerses himself in the thought. He studies it, writes notes about it, and almost takes it in his brain like air into his lungs.

Right now, Jay's thing is fish. He has decided that Judy and I are going to buy a fish tank and that he is going to stock it. He got online and learned the best fish, can tell you what they look like, what they eat, and all of their traits. Friday night, when Jay helped us cater the Police Chaplain's annual dinner, as we drove back and forth to deliver and replenish supplies, he went over these with me. I figure out an approximate cost of all of the fish that he wanted as close to $400. He said, "Papa, I will buy them.". "So, where are you going to get the money?", I asked. "I am not going to get them all at once.", he replied.

Later, after we had finished serving and were eating our own supper, he asked me if he could spend the night. I said that I worked in the morning and that if he did, he would need to help. He said, "Sure, but I think I need a raise.". I could see where that one was going. His mind was figuring out how he was going to buy the fish. "And Papa, after work, you and I are going fishing.", he said. I looked at him and said, "We are?". He quickly rebounded with "Papa, would you take me fishing after work tomorrow?". Now, I have stated from a previous post why fishing is not my favorite sport but also how I will do anything for that young man and fishing is a good time to talk so I agreed.

When he arrived at work with his Nanny the next morning, he also had his fishing pole. He could not find his tackle box but I assured him we could find it after work. Around noon, a knock came to the door of my office. "I think it is time to clean up.", he stated with a big smile. I sent him back out and told him I would look at the situation shortly. Soon, he was helping the bussers with their clean up. We grabbed a quick lunch and were off.

With his pole and found tackle box, we headed off to Shevlin Park where I had joined his class just a couple of weeks ago in a fishing field trip. We found a good place on the side of the pond, put some power bait on his hook and commenced fishing. His patience waned as no fish even bothered to nibble and we soon found new spots along the side and tried out different baits. We watched as others caught fish all around us and soon realized that worms were the best bait. A man and his daughter seemed to be having some pretty good luck across from us, so we moved close to them. They offered us a worm and soon, Jay had his first nibble. He was still a bit frustrated that he was not catching anything while the others seemed to be reeling in right and left. His eyes lit up with his first catch. "Can I keep it?", he asked. "Why?" came my reply. "I want to mount it on my wall." he stated. "I really don't think your mom would be into that.", I said, "just name it and release it.". Tom was soon released and our bait reset. As one dad left, he gave us his remaining worms so we were set for bait.

Others had left our spot but we could still see the school of fish as they gathered in the bottom of the middle of the pond and I had an idea. I increased the length between the bobber and the hook, letting the line sink lower towards the school. We cast back out and before we even had time to taut the line, the fish were biting. One after another were reeled in, named, and released. Bob, Jerry, Gary, Fred amongst others were greeted, thrown back, and told to be more careful the next time. In a very short period of time, 10 fish were caught. "Actually, I think we caught 9. I am pretty sure we caught Jerry twice.", he stated. We walked around to our friend who had helped us, thanked him, and informed him of how our school was biting. When we left, he was casting out in the same area.

Tired and happy, we left and drove home. He retrieved the flower that he had talked Jim Crowley into to the night before that was left behind on one of the tables at the Chaplaincy event and drove back to his house where he gave it to his mom for Mothers day. He did not tell her of the worm that he place in the pot prior to, however. "The worm will keep the soil fertilized.", he stated. I can just see Carrie's face as she reads this and rushes over to see if she can figure out how to get that worm out of her house. Happy Mothers Day Sweetheart!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Break

I have been away for a few days. A sort of recharge of the batteries as one would say. So, nothing earth shattering has been happening. We went to Lincoln City for what has become our yearly beach trip which actually started way back when Jake's Diner started up in 1987. I had worked so hard at getting the diner off of the ground that Jake rewarded me with letting me use his condo just north of Newport. The next year, I figured out that coordinating a trip along with the Sysco spring food show allowed the family a pretty nice get away. I remember looking for a place to stay and finding a small motel called the "Beach Front Inn" that was very affordable. The day before the trip, one of the kids asked if they had a TV. I knew that the add said that they had an ocean view and I figured that was probably standing on the toilet seat and looking out of the window or something. I called and asked the owner if they had a TV in the unit. He laughed and said, "Yes, and we have running water also". The unit we discovered was very nice and we stayed there for a few years running. The owner lived in the main unit and rented out four others. Since then a family in Washington has purchased that motel and a few other locations in Lincoln City and I am still renting from them. The latest was an unbelievable house called the 'The Beach House". You can look at it at this site but must navigate through the listings to find it. It is on the second page of the listings. I believe it belonged to a doctor who retired there.

A few of the walks with the kids were like reminiscing walks. Casey, Jay, and I walked down to rocks that Trinity had fallen into the waves as a small four or five year old. Carrie, Jay, the dogs, and I the next morning walked to different rocks that had been the destination of so many walks with the kids over the years. It all brought back so many great memories of walks and talks with them. I remember wondering if their memories were as precious as mine.

On the only full day that had all of the family there, we drove to Seaside where Casey had spent a summer working in Cannon Beach. It was cold and we stopped for a bite at Subway and wondered around the area before heading up to Astoria to show Jay the Goonies house and the Kindergarden Cops school. Years ago, when visiting there as the kids were growing up, we were informed that Cher had just pulled out as we sat there watching the kids by a man who was watering his yard. As we talked he informed me of the area and gave me stories of the two movies. He stated that Cher owned the bed and breakfast across the street from him and often entertained guests there. I admit that I kind of put him off as I listened. But when I pulled out, I noticed a limo in the driveway of the B&B and later when I watched Kindergarden cop and came to the part where Arnold runs out to confront a father, there in the background, watering his yard, is that same man. Anyway, the day turned out to be one long drive with Jay keeping himself occupied in the back seat writing down places along the way that he wanted to go fishing at. "Hey, Papa, what is the name of this river?".

Carrie recorded her part of the get away in pictures on her facebook. We arrived back on Thursday afternoon just in time to go over to the Senior center with Jim to prepare for the big cater job tomorrow evening for the Police and Fire Chaplaincy. This has become our largest cater job of the year serving well over 200 in an event to help the chaplaincy generate funds to help them provide the services that they do to the Police and Fire Department. With the help of some of our family members, we can keep the costs down.

Coming up, we have a spaghetti feed on May 23rd for the Hwy 97 World War memorial fund and later the next week, on May 26th our first big cruise in BBQ of the year that we have called 'Race Night" where we help promote both of the two Madras tracks events of the year.

Lots of things coming along so I better get some rest and hit the ground running in the morning.