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.