Friday, November 20, 2015


It’s later in the day but earlier we were at the great bastion of Excess, the Costco store. It was very crowded and the fact that it was Friday may have had something to do with that. We were there just as they opened and the rush was on. I detoured as quickly as possible and pushed the cart down a side aisle. We did need some more printer paper and I picked up a ream while we were back there. Sticking to the back and side aisles much as possible, we made our way down to the ‘Deli’ section. It’s far too large to be called a deli but I can’t think of anything else to call it. The ‘Butcher Shop’ portion is right across the aisle from the ‘Deli’ but I was looking for the hams and that’s where we found the kind we wanted, Kirkland Applewood Smoked Master Carve ham. It’s the ugliest looking thing you have ever seen when it comes to hams. But is it ever tasty! And super easy to cook and carve. We had some at a friends house last year and vowed that we would buy one this year. We have. A 20 pound one. It will be ready and waiting for Christmas.

After pulling into a safe space, we looked at our list and decided on our next move. We made our way across a stream of determined cart pushers to the paper goods. TP, napkins, and paper plates. That’s all. Normally we go back and forth, looking on each aisle and on both sides of the aisles. It’s good exercise. The walking is good physical exercise and we also get a chance to exercise our willpower as we attempt to avoid most of the offerings. To help us do that, we always get in early, before the vendor ladies set up their tables. Those ladies and their offerings cause a terrible and continuous traffic jam once they are set up. Today, we went to a few selected aisles and took what we needed; M&M’s were a bargain, really, so we bought two packages. Then a two-pack of cough drops. That was it, we were through and headed to the checkout. We were out the door in record time and had no problem getting out of the parking lot.   

Despite premonitions of a terrible shopping experience, it turned out quite nicely. It was our attitude that did it. I couldn’t have done this ten years ago. I hated shopping! Now I enjoy it and I m surprisingly mellow before, during, and after shopping. That being so, I decided to take the slow way home and enjoy the fall colors on the magnificent trees that line the Esplanade. And they were magnificent. All in all, a great morning. Here’s a link to a short video of the fall colors in Chico. The four lane road you see in the video is the Esplanade and it's lined with trees. The tall brick structure is Bidwell Presbyterian church and that is where we can be found on Sunday mornings. The Esplanade runs N/S and immediately west of the church is the Cal State University at Chico. Diagonally across the street, S/E, is Colliers Hardware, an institution here. Just West of the church is a restaurant, Tres Hombres, and the aroma that drifts across the street can sometimes lead your mind away from God and you will find yourself wondering if they will have an empty table for you once the service is over. A personal note; my oldest daughter was once a server here.   

A new entry has been made on the Tuesday Painters blog.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I've been reading some of the responses from the Republican candidates for President when asked what their response would be to this crisis in Syria/Iraq. It made me wonder about their level of sanity. And made me afraid for the future of my children and grandchildren, plus one great grandchild. And for the citizens of this country to vote one of these people into the office of the President would be an act of insanity.

Not one of these people knows what the President knows. They don't get the daily security briefing that Mr. Obama sees. They don't get the messages from around the world. Messages from Embassies and heads of State. They don't get the phone calls that he does. Yet they presume to know what the best course of action is.

Mr. Trump wants to bomb the oilfields of Iraq. He wants to reduce the oilfields to rubble. Hasn't he thought of the obvious? He would have to rebuild those refineries after he 'wins' his war.

I believe it was Jeb that said that we shouldn't allow any but Christian refugees into this country. Jeb said he was a Christian. He lied. There's dozens of quotes in the Bible that say he's dead wrong. And, those verses at the base of the Statue of Liberty? They were written by a Jewish refugee.

I forget which of the candidates wants to put troops on the battlefield. I heard 10,000 troops. They really should stop calling them 'troops'. They want to put 10,000 of our children on the battlefield is far more truthful. These are humans and not troops. I was a Hospital Corpsman, luckily not during war time, but I did work at the hospital on the Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. And, yes, these 'troops' bleed. Some die.

If we as a nation are serious about starting another war, we need to bring back the draft. A fair and equal draft. A draft where a Senator's child could be one of the 'troops. How can we say we are serious about war if we aren't willing to risk our best and brightest in this effort to win? Right now we pay them to be 'troops'. Just like we pay the gardner to mow and blow. If the war isn't going well; we just buy some more 'troops'.

We haven't finished paying the $3 trillion dollars that it's estimated to cost us for just the war in Iraq. I have no idea as to the cost of the war in Afghanistan. Our longest - 10 years- war in our short history as a nation. Yet, these candidates want to start another. Just like that. Just say the words and send the 'troops'. That's right after you have bombed and blasted all that you can see and not see. Call it collateral damage and it doesn't count that way. By the way, how many wars have we won when we were the aggressors; in their country?

I give. I need to take a nap and not think about these horrors that would ensue if someone wants to start another war in the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Not very wet

We had some rain last week and some snow is now on the mountains. Mt. Lassen looks much better with a snowy cap. But it's not the El Nino that we have been promised. They say it's coming, have patience they say. Like all Northern Californians, we are quickly running out of patience...but what can do?

More and more lawns have succumbed to the drought and more are being landscaped with drought tolerant native plants. It's Fall and the trees are losing their leaves. That's a very good thing this year as pretty soon you won't be able to tell the difference between the dormant trees and the dead ones. But Spring will reveal the truth.

We're going up to Lake Almanor for Thanksgiving at my son-in-law's family cabin. It's right on the shore, though the shore line is getting farther and farther away as the water recedes. The power company owns this lake they haven't drained it; a bonus for homeowners here. But, they do use the water for power generation just below the dam. The homeowners here are used to seeing a variable shoreline over the years. This year the water didn't recede till mid-summer.

I had an endoscopy last year around August and I have to have them yearly now after they discovered that I had Barrette's Syndrome. The appointment is for the day before Thanksgiving and the same day we planned on driving to the lake; an hour and a half drive. From experience I know that there is no pain after the scoping. But they don't recommend driving! The anesthesia they use is great as I am asleep for the full 15 minutes they take and then an injection of a 'waker upper drug' into my IV line has my eyes open and I'm good to go.

As a former Navy Hospital Corpsman I find it slightly embarrassing that I don't know the names of those drugs. In the Navy, I had to know the names of a wide range of drugs and know what they did.
Since I'm taking a lot of drugs, I make sure I know what each one does and what precautions I should observe. I have talked to my doctor about my drugs and he knows now that I'm very much aware of the effects and side effects of them. He also told me that very few patients know anything about the drugs they take. "I take 2 orange ones and great big blue one" is their usual response when the nurse asks about their prescriptions. The same thing happens at he pharmacy. I don't know how you can open your mouth and swallow something that you know nothing about. Ae they crazy??? And these people vote.

Yes, they vote and we end up with low intelligence wackos in both House and Senate. Ted Cruz is one with high intelligence yet he's still a wacko. He's probably driving the #RepublicanClownCar as he's the only one that has a good chance of getting a drivers license on the first try.

Shame on me. I should know better than to show my frustration like that. I'm frustrated because of my age. I remember how politics used to be played and it certainly wasn't like it is today. Respect for the President used to be the norm with occasional sharp criticism, of course. Today, it is like a high school gym class where everyone piled on the selected victim. And it's ugly.

I'm not a Republican or Democrat. If I had to join a party it would be torn between the Socialist or the I.W.W. The 'Wobblies' of The One Big Union. Yes, they still exist. I think we have the finest President during the past 50 years. He's intelligent and wise. I disagree with him sharply on many issues. But they certainly aren't issues that would make me utter threats and disparage his work.  So, the Republicans are wackos. Sorry I said it but it's true.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why not?

I think I will post some more Farmer's Market photos. We were downtown at 7:30 and found the perfect parking space; right next to the market. Most of the photos don't need to be captioned. I took quite a few as I didn't buy my coffee till I had a good sampling of photos safely captured. Cane, coffee and camera make for a clumsy time.

It seems that Blogger is telling me that I've posted enough pictures. That is probably a good thing. I take a lot of pain medication and when I am trying to clamp down on that pain I take the most of the morphine and Norco that the doctor recommends. And I've done that, about an hour ago.  Now I'm making all sorts of spellings and grammatical errors. I apologize for all of those errors that I've made during the past six months. Those drugs also make me very alert and here's a blog posting.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Memories, far and wide

We were enjoying our usual Thursday morning coffee with our middle child, our daughter, Alicia. We've been doing this for years and we're not tired of it yet. Our conversation usually ranges a wide spectrum and it was no different this morning. We were talking about something that made me remember my grandfather. That's the grandfather on my mother's side; the grandfather on the other side was a scoundrel and we never spoke of him! Grandpa Ray was a very nice man and although he lived far away, I was always eager to make the trip to see him. A trip in those days meant about ten hours driving up the Central Valley of California, on our way to Sacramento, in a car with no air conditioning. I'm not sure that my dad shared my enthusiasm for the trip. He later moved to Bakersfield, making the trip closer to five hours.

Grandpa Ray was a quiet man, an introvert, as was his daughter and his grandson. I loved spending time with him as it was always 'calm' around him. Now thinking about Grandpa Ray brought to mind his father, Louis Riley Fifer. My great grandfather was not a quiet man. Quite the opposite; he was a 'joiner' and, apparently, the life of any party. I can't help but wonder as to how the two of them got along?

L.R was an early member of The International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo. Yes, that's the name of this ancient fraternal order. Wikipedia has a history of the order that's close enough to be good. Click here to learn some more. L.R. was a lumber dealer in Seattle and Hoo Hoo membership was limited to those associated with the lumber industry. And they still are. Moss Lumber used to have offices all around the country and their logo had the arched black cat  found on the Hoo Hoo logo. I think there are still some Moss Lumber offices still open. It appears that the Hoo Hoo's are still active in half a dozen states, plus Canada and Australia.

I have a couple of documents regarding L.R. and one is his obituary. At the time of his death, he was a Vice-Regent Snark, a position he had held before. At one time he was a member of The Supreme Nine, the governors of the Hoo Hoo's.

 It's quite obvious the L.R. was an extrovert. With Extrovert all in bold and underlined.
I'm pretty sure that my introversion or ASD didn't come from this man!
On another note, this man and his son, Grandpa Ray, had me worried for a full year. It seems that they both died at the age of 65. I had my fingers crossed for a year...about ten years ago.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Farmers Market

We went to the market this morning right around 7. It was still chilly; in the low 40's. With an early start it's easy to find a parking space near the market and we scored one right across the street. It was a sunny day and the colors were fantastic! Lots of flowers and bright colored fruit and vegetables. I always start with a cup of freshly brewed coffee from a older couple (our age) that have been selling coffee here for all the years we have been shopping here. Beans of Paradise is the name and the cup was good...though not heavenly. With a cup in one hand and my walking stick in the other, taking photos is problematic, but I was able to pass the cup off to my wife when needed or I put the stick between my knees. Here are some photos of what was happening at the market this morning.

The purple onions here are spectacular in the sunlight. Some shoppers were in my way and I couldn't get the best shot.

 Love those cauliflower colors!

Tomatoes were $2 a pound...all organic and pesticide free

Some carrots that we liked. The purple ones are for their looks...and expensive at $2 a bunch or 50 cents each

 Here are the two heirloom tomatoes that I bought for pleasure...taste and looks. And they were pricey at $2 each
After shopping here we headed over to Raley's, one of our preferred markets. Always clean and always friendly. They are more expensive than Safeway but I will never shop at Safeway again.

There were more than a few complaints with Safeway before we said 'never again', but one stuck in my mind. We asked the pharmacy clerk why she was shivering and had a heavy coat on; 'Can't you turn the thermostat up?' She said, "No. It's controlled at the corporate offices." What?

Enough of that. After getting some staples at Raley's, we drove over to Trader Joe's to get the rest of the things on our list. Trader Joe's; what a great store. Low prices and great values. Eggs, for instance, are half the price of the ones at Safeway. The same with butter and with milk. Safeway hammers you on the staples. Alvey, the corporation behind Trader Joe's is a German company and Trader Joe's are employee owned. You never wait for them to open another register when needed and they are always cheerful. I'm always happy as I walk out to my car after shopping here.

Now I am recuperating from the pain after the all the walking. I stopped the Nucynta drug trial on Thursday, calling it a failure. Now I'm using Morphine Sulfate Extended Release twice a day. The first day was great; just a little confusion. I snapped right out of it. This morning; no confusion but not as effective. I'll give it time. And it's a little over a month before I see the neurosurgeon and arrange for this useless gadgetry  to be removed from my spine. Can't happen soon enough!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Career choices

At the age of 18 I wanted to be an industrial designer...whatever that was. In my mind it was all very vague. I only knew that it could be done with paper, pen and ink and imagination. I'm sure I was wrong. I attended the local JC and took some design classes that I hoped would get me into the Art Institute. I soon found out that dream would have to be put on hold as I thought that the Design 101 instructor was an idiot and I left the class before finishing it. An Incomplete won't get you very far in the world of design.

So, what to do? I lived at the beach so I spent a lot of time there. I had a job as night manager at a Texaco station and a job being a delivery 'boy' for a liquor store. I wasn't lazy. Then, at the age of 19 I decided, with the help of two friends, to join the Navy. I did and I enjoyed it. After boot camp I went to Hospital Corps school and after graduating I was sent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I worked at the base hospital and at the end of my normal enlistment I was offered a bonus of $$ and the school of my choice. I decided to go for Aviation Medicine school...and then found out that they wouldn't guarantee that I could leave Lejeune right away and might have to do a complete enlistment of two more years. So I was discharged to civilian life and reserve duty.

After another failed attempt at college I had to get a job. I lived at home but I had to pay rent. I didn't resent that, I assumed that was what you did when you were an adult. I found a job driving a forklift for a new tech company, Space Technology Laboratories, or STL. After a month I knew that I needed to find something else to do or I would go crazy. The work wasn't hard and the pay was fine, but it was deadly boring.

My sister had a friend that worked at STL and I was talking to her one day and told her of my frustration. A few weeks later there was a knock at the door one evening and when I opened it, a stranger introduced himself as the father of that girl. He told me that he had heard I was unhappy with my job and would I be interested in a job in construction? Of course I was and he told me to come and see him the next day and we would talk. He lived right down the street and the next day I was listening to him explain that he was offering me a job in the drywall industry. I would have to join the Carpenters union and become an apprentice. After a little while of doing that work, he wanted to train me to be an estimator. He was the owner and estimator of his new business and hoped to expand quickly. How much money would I make? I was told $2.50 an hour with raises every 6 months for 24 months and then the journeyman's pay was $5.00 an hour. I was making $1.75 in the warehouse and few chances for a raise. Two days later I was an apprentice.

That knock on the door was the pivotal moment in my life. In 2004 I retired from a wonderful career in construction. I had been a journeyman, a foreman, superintendent, project manager, estimator, owned a construction company, left that and moved, where I worked in Reno and started the process all over.  then I had a chance to move to Sacramento and become a superintendent, then estimator, then an IT guy and programmer, software developer and finally an instructor to teach estimators how to use our software. I flew all over the US as we were an international construction company. People now ask me what did I do before retirement and I have to ask them, "Which year?"  


Growing old

I was reading the Time Goes By blog about conservatism being a normal part of aging.  I commented, writing that I was firmly a Liberal, despite my age of 75. In fact, attaining the age of 75 marked a time of change in my attitude about a lot of things. I'm free now, free to express my opinion on anything I darn well please. And I frequently do. And since I am 75, I am forgiven. Usually for the wrong reason...which is exasperating!

Living where I do, Chico CA, saying that I'm a liberal is an act of bravery or foolishness; take your pick. Chico is a 'purple' City in a 'red' county in a 'red' valley' in a 'blue' state. The City Council has been taken over by the conservatives of the Tea Party stripe. It's a 4 to 3 majority for them and they use it viciously. They hate the homeless and enact laws that will send them to jail or out of the city. They don't really care that 75% of the homeless are home grown...Chico has always been their home. They still want to get them on a bus out of here. Too many of the homeless are veterans as well. That doesn't cut them any slack with the council. They have enacted a sit-lie ordinance, making it illegal to sit or lie upon any public property. Want to take a nap on the inviting green lawn at the park? Go to jail!

If there was some way to engage the students at the University here, the liberals could take the council back in the next election. But the students are notorious for their record of not voting in any election. The conservatives are afraid of the students and have attempted many times to curtail their rights to vote. Twice now, they have tried to pass an amendment that would change the date for the primaries to a time in the summer, when students are absent.

I could go on and on but I won't. Time for a nap...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

That's smart...

As I mentioned earlier, we were selected to receive a 'Smart' thermostat from our power company and it was going to be free. Well, it's been installed and we really like it. It's an Ecobee3 and according to the installer, the best of the three types of thermostats they are installing in this survey to find the best. It's controllable from my phone, laptop, and even my Kindle. It has a remote sensor so that the thermostat knows the temperature in the living room...where we live. We don't live in the hallway where the thermostat is located. If the thermostat cannot detect movement after so many hours, it will shut off the planned comfort levels and go to the levels you set for away/vacation. If we go the lake this month for Thanksgiving. we can use our phone to turn the heat back up and since the lake is about an hour and a half away, the house will be at a comfortable temperature when we arrive.

The thermostat itself is the black object you see. It has a white ring around it is because it had to go where the old thermostat was located. The house has been painted twice in its life time. The white ring conceals the old coat of paint.

This is the remote sensor for the thermostat. It sits on a table in our living room.