Thursday, August 30, 2007

Almost Cut My Hair! Yeah for $1790.00

On Wednesday I was sitting with about five bald guys and we were talking about what we were doing on the weekend. I said I was going to Oregon and mentioned that I was going to get a hair cut. One of them piped up and said he would cut my hair for $1.05. The rest of them chimed in and said they would give me a total of $10.00 to cut my hair. So I said, no way! I would not cut my hair off for less then $1000. So in the all campus meeting my boss stood up and announced that Dean Bennett will shave all his hair off if we collect $1000 for an NIC scholarship. Well, a week later they had raised $1790! So at the welcome picnic, they brought out the clippers and two of the staff cut my silver hair off. The money will go in to the Wes Hatch Scholarship fund. Mr. Hatch was my boss for the first five years at NIC and I had great respect for him. He passed away several years ago and the scholarship was started in his name. Having my hair cut was no big deal. People keep telling me that it looks good. It'll grow back but boy that was an expensive hair cut.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Oregon Coast Weekend

The drive down was good; we listened to a book on tape by Robert B. Parker. It was a Spencer novel that we hadn’t read, so it kept us entertained all the way. Lunch was something we don’t want to admit to; McDonalds in Hood River, I had fish burgers and Linda had a salad. It wasn’t that bad, but we try not to go to the big chains. As it worked out we hit either McDonalds or Burger King all the way down just to use their restrooms.

Portland traffic wasn’t as bad as it could be. We hit it a 12:30 PM but with Linda navigating we were able to cruise through with out problems. The stretch between Portland and Lincoln City sucked. It is mostly one lane and it goes through a ton of small towns, so you end up driving about 35 most of the way.

We arrived in Lincoln City a little early so we drove down to the beach walk area and took our first walk on the pacific shore. It was crowded in town and on the beach but we really enjoyed the smell of the ocean, wind in our faces, and the sound of the waves hitting the shore. After a short walk we climbed up a hill into the business district and went to a coffee shop. We ordered coffee, tea and Costco muffins and sat down and played a game of Cribbage. While we were playing, two locals, Rose Marry and Mickey sat with us and chatted about the game and where we were from. They were a pair, both a little short of a full deck, but very nice and interested in us and our game. I won the game; I had some of the best hands I have gotten in a long time. We finished up and said our good byes then walked to the truck. We stopped at the Safeway where we bought some provisions. It was close enough to five o’clock that we decided to find the beach house and make our appearance.

Arriving first we started the tour and then suddenly Linda’s Uncle Ed and Aunt Connie appeared. The calm of the house was over because within about ten minutes Diana and Al Dee arrived with the kids followed by Uncle Al and Marry and finally Jeff and his family. The weekend had begun and the place was a buzz in conversation.

The first group dinner was a BBQ with burgers and dogs. As the families settled in Ray and I set up the Charbroil and went to work cooking the feast. Some of the new arrivals had eaten but we were able to go through a lot of food in a short period of time. Everyone got their jackets on and headed to the beach to watch the sun set and enjoy the ocean.

Ten o’clock came real fast and the different parties slowly started to turn in for the evening. The house that we were staying in was real big and decorated very nicely. There were two bedrooms on the upper floor, the master bedroom had a large bath and then the guest room used the bathroom in the front hall. All rooms were equipped with a large TV and king sized bed. The hall led out to the kitchen and a great room that held a large sectional couch, very big flat screen TV, fire place and a huge dinning table. This would be the gathering place for most of the weekend and it was big enough to hold this tribe.

The lower level had three bedrooms which were equipped the same as the upper floor, with the exception of two that held bunk beds for the kids. The final room was the game room and it was equipped with all things electronic. There was a stand up arcade game standing in one corner, which was played constantly by Jeff and his family. In the other corner was the Gameboy II area which included about fifty different games. The forth corner held a massive flat screen TV, which must have been 90”. The finals corner held a library of books, games and other entertainment stuff. So if anyone were to get bored while they were here, on the ocean, they would have to be nuts.

In the morning Linda went for a run and I slept in a bit. We had the Ray and Barb traditional breakfast of sausage and eggs with toast and then everyone started preparing for the day. Bret, Linda’s second cousin, Linda and I drove down to the Lincoln City Outlet Mall and did some shopping. We didn’t find much but had a good time looking around. On the way back we drove down the coast highway a bit and then returned.

Later Al Dee and I were assigned the job of getting Linda’s dad out of the house so that Linda’s mom could practice her song that she will sing later on in the evening. So we grabbed Uncle Ed and Dad and went Geocaching. Neither of the two had been out ona cache hunt so we did about four real easy ones to show them how it was done. This gave Mom and Diane time to practice and gave Linda time away from me to read. This operation worked out well for everyone.

The big dinner was held this evening and everyone dressed up and was ready when the catered meal arrived. The folks had made the arrangements and a small restaurant was hired to provide the feast. I have to admit that everything went very smoothly and that everyone kept their heads as the dinner was served. The food was very good and everyone got more then their fill.

After dinner and after the caterers had cleaned up a left, Al Dee and I hosted a short program where everyone spoke about our hosts and the two who had achieved the fifty year anniversary mark. Each of the family members told a story about the hosts of honor and the program concluded with Linda’s mom singing a song to her dad while Diane accompanied her on the electric piano. It was a wonderful event and I thing everyone enjoyed themselves greatly.

The next morning we got up and Linda and I drove to Depot Bay and did some whale watching and shopping. Again, we didn’t purchase anything, but we did find a geocache as we walked back to the truck. Three geocachers were gathered around a cache and I stuck my head in and asked if I could claim the find. They were more then happy to let me in on it, so I signed in and we returned to the beach house. When we go home Linda sat on the deck in the sun and I went down to the beach and flew my kite. Later Diane, Al Dee and the kids joined me and we flew kites together. The afternoon winds picked up and so did the kite action. About six surf kits arrived and hit the waves. Man these were cool, I must have watched them for an hour and would have probably watched longer if I didn’t get so clod standing in the surf taking pictures. I retreated to the deck wit Linda and continued to watch as the launched themselves off the waves and flew forty feet to land and take off for the next break.

We all gathered in the kitchen and put in our order for pizza and while it was being prepared and delivered, Linda Diane, Al Dee, the kids and I went for a walk to find a geocache at the end of the beach. It was about a mile up the beach and back and we arrived back at the house just after the pizza. The cache took no time to find so we had wasted no time in the process of getting ready for our dinner. The pizza was great and everyone had more then their fill. We talked and enjoyed the company till about 10:30 pm when went to bed.

Linda and I got up early and hit the road for the drive back to Post Falls. We had no problems and basically stopped at the same spots that we did on the way down.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bell Bay and Remembering Sebaka

So what can we say? It happened so fast and we had to make the right decision, for us and for Sebaka. This week end we had to get away. As you know from the previous post we had to put Baka to sleep on Tuesday morning. He had bone cancer and from everything we learned it is a fast and painful disease. Baka is now resting at the top edge of one of John and Loretta Sutherland’s fields. He has a beautiful view and can chase the deer all he wants. We placed a big rock as his headstone, but will probably return to clean the spot up a bit once we get through the pain of his being gone.

We drove down to Bell Bay to camp and get our heads and hearts around the fact that our best friend and basically, child has passed. Baka was with us over six years. Every day, most moments that we were here at our home, he was by our side. We watched him a lot and noticed that he never liked to not be able to see one or the other of us, so he was always there, keeping an eye out, protecting, and hoping that we would scratch his belly. This has made it dreadfully hard now that he is gone. Everything we did was based on decisions about how it would affect Baka. Go to the store? How will we park to keep him out of the sun? Weekend trip? Do we have all his stuff and will there be enough places for him to rest as we look around? Most everything Linda and I did for the past six years included decisions about Baka.

This weekend we needed to let go, so we camped and of course, we thought about Baka. The one thing we have found is that everything reminds us of our friend. We always walked up the road at the campground and looked for deer every night so when we got done with dinner and started walking we got quiet and tears filled our eyes. We sat on the bench overlooking the lake and talked about him and how to let him go enough to stop the hurt. Yes, we have found the hurt. This hurt sets in your chest and stays there until you breath. It comes and goes all the time. When we sat at his grave two days ago, Linda asked me what my best memory of Baka was. It was easy; every night when I watched TV Baka would walk in and flop down on my lap for about an hour of petting. Linda remembered the way he would get so excited whenever she returned home, barking, getting the Kong and almost howling at her. The belly rubs; a ritual that always made Linda laugh and get up and pet him. So we cried and remembered our friend.

On Thursday we got up and drove to Harrison where we unloaded our bikes and rode the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes about fifteen miles up river to the Lane Trail Rest area. On the way we saw some type of an Owl hidden in the shade next to the river. Our total ride was about 30 miles earning us some ice cream from the Harrison Creamery. We drove back to the campground and went swimming. Dinner was chicken enchiladas. After that we took a walk and stopped by to visit with the camp host, Jim, and his dog Bebe. I asked Jim about his window sticker that said “Chosin Few”, Chosin, Korea. Jim explained that he had served in Korea and had survived the battle at the Chosin Reservoir. He said that the Chinese had trapped US troops in this area and that he and 3000 others had to endure 40 below temperatures while they moved across the frozen reservoir under Chinese fire. He said that of the 3000 soldiers 182 made it safely across and survived. I had never heard of this battle and Jim said that it was because we were losing the war at that time and it was kept secret.

We said goodnight and walked back to our camper, got ready for bed and turned in. Thirty miles on the bikes had taken its toll.

The next morning we were on the road again. Back to Harrison and on to the trail, we rode our bikes south. The trip took us up to Plummer and back, a total distance of thirty- two miles. It was a great ride! The trail leads up an eight mile hill into Plummer and then it returns down hill all the way to the bridge that crosses the lake. Eight miles of no peddling and then to top that all off we had the wind at our back so we were able to ride at 17 mph all the way in to Harrison. ICE CREAM! We looked over our choices and decided on the same flavors we had yesterday, Black Cherry for me and espresso almond fudge for Linda. We watched the goings on in Harrison, talked to a couple of recumbent riders about their trip the past couple days and then we drove back home. First thing we did was swim and then read and then I made chicken alf redo from Costco. We ate and took our walk. Each night we have checked to see if Larry and Marry Wright, two hashers I know, were at their lake home. Tonight as we approached we heard “On On” from the front window and we stopped by. The house is beautiful and Larry gave us the proud tour. We didn’t stay long, their whole family was coming over and they had a lot to do to get ready.

We walked back to camp and said hi to Jim and Bebe. Jim invited us to sit and chat. We found out that he goes to all the EWU games with his old army Jeep and when the Eagles make a touchdown he turns on the flashing lights and runs the siren. His wife has had to work a lot this year and so Jim will not be doing the camp host thing next year, he said he has to take care of his farm. I think he misses his wife a lot. We talked more about the “Chosin Few”; Jim got several medals for his efforts in this fight. Sounded like he was shot three times, he admitted to not talking about it much but I think he had recently talked to a person who was a history teacher on the Korean War, so it was on his mind. The night cooled off and we headed back to the camper and went to bed. Once again our legs were at the mercy of the 32 mile ride.

We got up Saturday and I was restless. Linda ran six miles and I had slept. By the time she got back and cleaned up I was ready to go home. It was probably because I felt I wanted to deal with being home without Baka a couple days before I started work. Everyone at work will know about us putting Baka to sleep so I think I need some time at home to get ready for all the support. It is great to have people talk to you about his passing but it still digs up memories and makes it hard nonetheless. I don’t think Linda was ready to go, but once we got home and did our chores she seemed to be ok with it.

We went to bed late on Saturday night, I am not sure why. The movie we watched, “Wild Hogs” was funny and cute and kept our minds busy. I slept well, but woke up wondering why I didn’t hear the usual rustling outside our bedroom door. There were no snorts, there was no sound of the Kong dropping on the floor followed by an excited low throaty woof, nothing; I got up and walked out to Linda quietly reading the Sunday newspaper. Our dog was truly gone forever; tears filled my eyes as I made my morning coffee and started another day.

This entry was dedicated to Sebaka.
Born: February 1999.
Passed: August 14, 2007

Our last picture of Baka, August 2, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bad News

Hello everyone, I have some very sad news. Today at 8:30 am we put Sebaka down and we buried him up at John and Loretta’s. I am telling you this because Linda is heart broken and I want all our friends to be aware that Baka is not with us. Give us a few days to absorb the shock, this has been real quick. About two weeks ago we noticed a little limp in his walk. This week he would not put any weight on the left back leg so we took him in to the vet yesterday. He has been diagnosed with bone cancer and the prognosis is grim. We could take off the leg and he would have about a year with us. Statistics show that 90% of the pets with this cancer die within six months. The vet said it is very painful for the dog and we could use pain drugs, but it would only prolong the out come. We will spend a few minutes with him this morning and put him to sleep to save him the pain and suffering.

It’s very sad but I thought you should be aware.

Keep us in your thoughts.