A little on the Traveling SPO Shirt Experience

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Sunday January 23, 2011

Michael of SPO Reflections………….. As a hobby, HE designs AND creates beautifully crafted Hawaiian Shirts for himself and sometimes as gifts. Lucky are those recipients to be considered friends. Recently, he created one shirt that inspired him to let the shirt travel among his blog followers who would take pictures at sites of their own choosing, in their own environments, then pass the shirt to the next participant on a “list” of those wanting to participate. We were on that list and spent a week enjoying the company of this beautiful and lovingly made piece of clothing. Honestly, we BOTH felt it fit each one of us perfectly……..**so what WAS this shirt trying to tell us?

I just sent this electronic message recently to him:
Subject: The Spo Traveling Shirt Show
Message:
Has officially been dispatched from its current location at 1100′ in zip code 97231 and is moving gently
through the valley with the aid of the same people who moved our Christmas Cards. You can follow its tracking with this number @ usps.gov: 03080660000016500032 . It is moving priority and, not wanting our candidate to be late in creating inspiration on how to enjoy said beautifully designed and crafted article of clothing, wanted you to know that it SHOULD arrive in zip 97222 tomorrow and be delivered into the warm and caring hands of the famous and Award Winning Bear Brown
.”

It DID receive loving care here, finally saying it was too cold, so it spent the last couple of nights resting quietly by the wood stove since it WAS cold outside (considering its point of creation). We HAD been waiting for a snow “event” of 6-8 inches that never materialized…..was it this shirt from ARIZONA that prevented it?

It was a warm and brotherly feeling to share in this experience, Michael. Thank you……………. (You KNOW as soon as it was taken from my clutched hands, I immediately thought of 4 places I knew would have been perfect for a picture with it………).

We couldn’t let this touring show leave town without a picture taken at one local spot that’s more photographed, and laughed about than any other. The “Hung Far Low” restaurant has been around for 100 years and was a landmark in Old Town, “Chinatown” . . . . The Drag Queens at Darcells even talked about the place sometimes… for obvious reasons. The Big Neon signage was a Portland tour stop. This past year, however, as “Old Town” becomes the new “Pearl District” (rich development, high rises, as happens in all cities……..move out the poor, the artists, the gays, and build concrete towers)………anyway, The Hung Far Low moved out to the “new” Chinatown, SE 82nd, and though not as charming in looks, the Name says it all:

One more thing this traveling shirt needed was to be photographed BY a Christmas Tree in a land where temperatures give one a Feel of Christmas, i.e., cold weather….. i.e., layered clothing happens here in winter……… So. We chose to show the Spo-Show by our tree cut just a few miles from here at Furrow Farms……it was still drinking a quart of water a day 5 weeks after it was cut:

**I’m NOT sure what the Spo Shirt thought of that mad duck screaming from inside……….

Rodger enjoyed wearing this shirt as well……..his selected photo spot is at Rodger Dodger’s page.

So, Bear Brown: Have a great time, Mark………we’ll look forward to reading about your experience wearing SPO!!!, er, I mean the SPO Shirt.
mark

scribbled diary notes: xmas, donuts, social security, ramblings while it rains.

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday January 21, 2011

A few things we’ve done this past couple weeks……and I’m forgetting about them as time marches forward….

**Artist Rep Theater’s Superior Donuts! We saw it with cuz Nancy last Sunday…..it’s a Tracy Lett’s Play, and was well done, entertaining, and a happy note about how humans endure life’s ups and downs. A great reminder that others around us can be one of the most beneficial things in helping you bloom…….

**On our arrival back from getting the first things done after Rodger’s father passed away, we found an open invite to Sarah’s NY Eve Party awaiting us. Well, a 2 hour nap, and we needed a change of pace. What MORE CAN these fabulous people do? They run the best coffee place in town, Anna Banana’s, and still host get together for the whole family… We really enjoyed seeing some people that, it seems, one sees only on these unusual holidays.

**On CHRISTMAS, 2o10. In a real way, Christmas this year, for us, didn’t really happen. Even Mac was praying for a miracle……

**Our Xmas party (23rd) was VERY fun, almost surprisingly fun, but missing something…..our hearts weren’t there. We’d gotten “the call” that Chet, Rodger’s Dad, was probably slipping away just before the party started, and the “death call” just after we headed for bed after the party.

**The nightmare of being the one to clean up the affairs of a deceased father alone is a long affair. I can certainly see if a parent dies with enough money to have left enough estate that your “lawyer” can do it all, it would be MUCH s simpler. When one dies under the “No Probate Estate” clauses, you do it alone. Poor Rodger’s been slogging thru it in phone calls, and sometimes one paper at a time, often getting resistance from almost every contact, sometimes because they’re simply uninformed. It’s a very unpleasant time for him, and yet, there’s almost NOTHING I can do to help him out…..they are calls, forms, signatures, authorizations, he alone must do.

**We learned SOMETHING I didn’t EXPECT about Social Security payments here. I started taking Social Security as soon as I was eligible at 62….I filled out all the papers, submitted, got notification about the amount and on WHAT day of the month it would be paid (all S/S payments are sent out over the 4 Thursdays of every month….depending on when you birthday is)…..mine was assigned to the 4th thursday. ……. well, okay, I accepted that, so then my “first” check would be about a month late, right? Well, that first 4th thursday came and went….I called for them to tell me, NO, your FIRST check is always ONE MONTH in arrears, i.e., you “earn” your first check, and it’s paid in the 2nd month. So, I began earning social security in October, and didn’t get my first real Check until December 24th. You get the drift? NOW . . . . GUESS what happens when you die. If you die ANY day of the month, Social Security expects the money back, although they are ALREADY ONE MONTH LATE in paying you. CHET was paid on the 3rd of every month. They direct deposited his check on Jan 3….were called on the 3rd, and had that check reversed faster than you can dial up a bank….. that was the fastest Gov’t action I’d ever seen.

SO LESSON to REMEMBER: YOU LOSE your last monthly S/S check….count on it. S/S will come AFTER your estate & survivors for it, trust me.

And on a little home note about appliance maintenance, we had a nice experience yet AGAIN with the Fisher Paykel company………

Fisher Paykel service came through shining once again! We first bought their lovely oven in 2005 . . . . over two years, that model was replaced by them 4 times total. 3 because of an oven interior finish problem, and once because a faulty heat delimiter (fancy word for a complex “circuit breaker”)….that burned out when you ran a self clean. Last one installed in 2007 was given yet ANOTHER 2 year warrant…..which expired in 2009. We LOVE the oven, it’s used regularly for lots of things, bread is a good example….. I had NOT run a “self-clean” cycle fearing a repeat of the 2007 problem…….but finally decided, THIS oven seemed sturdy enough to stand the test. I ran the self clean…pushed the button, and 2 hours later, it was burned out. Clean, but no power. Company repairman came up for $70. cost just to determine the problem, and announced it was the heat delimiter again. It would cost $240 to order the replacement “kit” because they won’t sell you just the needed part. WHAT? Of course, I had to order the kit, it was that or a new oven once again for $2k. As this great repairman left, he sort of said on the side, “YOU ought to call Fisher Paykel and complain…. with your track record against them, you should NOT have to pay. I DID call……… and in a simple 5 minutes, was told……they’ll repair it for free. Wow! I AM impressed with this company once again. Note: DO NOT ever run a self clean on your oven……it runs 3 hours, and builds up too HIGH temperatures in the back of the oven for any breaker to stand. The repair guy told me this happens with MANY brands….. THe NEXT time I clean the oven, it will be on a manual cycle…. Lesson learned, and thanks, Fisher Paykel.

=================
Yep, this is certainly a scattered post, perhaps I’ll be settling down a bit more in February. Things are calling out for attention in the yard…………. (Daffodils are barely sprouted already! leaf buds are forming in the hardy trees……..woohoo!) Something tells me to get to work when I look this way:

I KNOW NEXT WEEK the annual Fruit Trees Pruning begins, dormant sprays on Apple Trees, and maybe feeding the lawn some iron to kill some MOSS will be in order. The FIRST REAL SUNNY week is forecast since late November. Ah, La Nina!

How they Came West.

Bloged in Family,General Home Life by mark Wednesday January 12, 2011

I’m a Huffaker obviously because the name Huffaker’s from the Dad side. Ray was the last name of the maternal parents. Expanded: Huffaker (grandpa – from near Knoxville, Tennessee, later moved to Georgia), Keel (grandma – from Georgia…died when my Dad was 14)…..they converted to Mormonism, and trekked west as did many Mormon converts then…..but….

RAY side: Ray (Grandpa – from somewhere north of Jackson MS that they then called: Millville. The whole Ray clan joined the Mormon church, built a little chapel. Neighbors grew suspicious of this new “religion” the Rays had joined, and the missionaries that were hanging out with ‘em…… so they burned down that new chapel……and let ‘em know, they wanted ‘em outta there. Somehow, during these years, Oscar Ray senior, my Grandpa met young Nancy Ault:

….. met the 18th and youngest child, Nancy Ault…….from Arkansas. HER Dad fathered 18 kids…yes.

**above Grandma in later years….and her Mother to her left. First wife died about a year after having the first child (the child died too), 2nd died after having 3 sons…all dying during the civil war, and finally, Ms. Westbrook arrives as the 3rd and has 12 kids. Grandma Ray was the last. Yes, she was very spoiled. ((((and thanks to Nancy M for correcting my wife/child order on this family branch, I guess I don’t remember like I thought I did.))))

…… BUT, Nancy met Oscar, joined the Mormons, and moved west with the RAY clan after their church burning……. ALL couldn’t wait to get to Utah, ZION, and the glory they’d heard of. But……….

*Utah was getting so full of new converts, Brigham Young was sending out his troops to intercept them at several points and ask them to stop where they were and “build up the Kingdom of God there”……….. The Huffaker group (who brought their own parents along) were intercepted at what is now Manassa, Colorado, deep in SE Colorado, elevation 6500 feet, high, dry, wind, cold in winter, tough ranch country………… There are STILL a few Huffaker cousins living there: Ranching, raising feed crops, kids, going to Church, and, in one family, fighting about WHO got the best of Dad’s land when he died. They can be a tough bunch, a rowdy group, but NO question, they’re the side of the family with the SERIOUS ability to laugh about life.

**The GREAT-Uncles the rowdy young bunch…while still in Tennessee….
I SO WELL remember times as a kid our driving to Manassa to a Huffaker reunion and the cowboy tales they told when all gathered together in the evenings. (note to self: write some of those down, they’ll be lost if you don’t).

Not to forget the Rays and their kids also getting stopped in Manassa….. here are most of my Aunts and Uncles on the Ray side with THEIR Oscar’s Mom:

*ah, yes, My Mom, her sisters, Pauline, Ethel, brothers Melvin and Oscar. Young Aunt Merle yet to be born.

Eventually, my Dad meets one of the prettiest Ray daughters, my Mom. They marry after stern lectures from Oscar Ray Sr to my Dad, and (skipping one or stops along the way) eventually hear of land going for $1 an acre in SE Oregon, where, after the depression, the gov’t built several dams in the desert opening up some desert land to farming. This would a tough place to come, breaking wild desert land into farmland…. some arrivals with a little cash were able to buy the land on the riverbottom valleys…they scored. The ones up on the bluffs, not so lucky, and are still struggling. They didn’t go alone…… Along came the Rays too….and even a Huffaker brother or two (for a little while only…..they saw the folly of this desert place and soon left).

Hence, I grew up in tiny Vale, Oregon, a SE Oregon settlement that HAD been suitable only for raising Sheep (Hence, all the fine Basque families STILL there, and a few Cattlemen). Union Pacific even built a depot there, the train stopped once daily! These livestock ranchers were NOT happy to see farmers come into town, especially a bunch of Mormons, but nothing bad happened. (Several Mormon families had also arrived from Utah when this land opened up.)

My closest pals and cousins all the while I grew up are/were the Judds, kids of beloved Aunt Ethel, and sour stern Uncle Willard…. We spent a LOT of time together as families:

*and THAT one is taken before I and Nancy were even born.. . . . . . . .the oldest daughter here is my sister FRAN…..

FRAN had the Huffaker personality, she learned to ride horses, fell in love with a Catholic Boy, Johnny Shaffield…….and was forbidden to see him. She masterfully snuck out her bedroom window a few times to bat eyes at Johnny, but eventually caved into the pressure, went to BYU, where ALL good young Mormon Girls go, became a teacher and moved to Los Angeles to create her own dream….she met Ken there, had 3 beautiful little girls, and unfortunately, at age 33 succumbed to cancer. Her 3 girls have grown up having no idea what a fabulous Mom they missed…. (NOTE: I DO FEEL very lucky at this point in my own life, to be in touch with 2 of those kids….we’re having a bit of fun getting to know each other).

But the last pic……..taken after MANY of the oldest RAY kids had already gone away to college….. But we were the big kids now, I was a senior, Ray next to me was a senior, the two nancy’s on each end of the couch were juniors…. (AND THESE DAYS? THESE are the TWO Nancy’s we make “the Nancy’s Do Pickles” EVERY August!!!!!). . . . .

What’s truly amazing, is that in THAT house, my Grandmother Ray had only had RUNNING WATER in the place for about 8 years, and had only given up her coal cook stove 3-4 years prior to this……………. Her Garden was about half an acre in size, and we spent many summers with Grandma working in that garden………………fabulous memories. The youth WE enjoyed was a gift………..

Oh well………..back to reality.. I’ve daydreamed too long.

2011 started. Feels empty BUT a Memory found

Bloged in Family,General Home Life by mark Friday January 7, 2011

It’s odd starting a new year that ended so severely. A week spent cleaning out a family member’s home isn’t really pleasant. Rodger’s still moving all over the place, and I think he’ll be slowing soon…the details he’s had to be working on to get some closure on Chet’s loss are getting sewn up. I HOPE he can get a day to simply REST………soon.

I FINALLY got the old external drive cleared off, and it’s just been set up to do backups for the new IMAC! IN THAT effort, I ran across a couple pics today that brought a smile to me…..they’re of no value to someone else, but these two tiny tales were life lessons to me.

Pic 1:

My folks with lifelong best friends Nephi & Addie Grigg ……….
(This IS the guy who created, built, founded Ore-Ida Foods, and yes, with his team, invented Tater Tots. He retired in older years by selling Ore-Ida to HEINZ……. although they had plenty of money later on, they remained down to earth as anyone I ever met. I suppose the early years spent as a poor farmer breaking land from sagebrush in Vale, Or with neighbors in the same boat made for strong bonds of friendship).

The little story? Nephi and Addie spent 20+ years wintering with my folks and 2 other couples in Southern California golfing for 3 months….Nephi & Addie also spent two years serving as Mormon Mission President in Scotland….they were always very active in the Church. The day this picture was taken, the foursome had just arrived at my house in Sunnyvale, CA, near SF, heading homeward after their winter golf outing in So Ca. Nephi & Addie had NEVER seen my parrot Jocko (see him in the picture background?)…… I will never forget Dad stepping over to the cage, trying to make “someone” think he was best friends with the bird, teasing him a little, handing him a sunflower seed….. MY MIND was hoping the bird wouldn’t do anything like BITE him or embarrass him OR ME in front of such treasured religious family friends………….. But then, I thought, “Hell, that bird doesn’t KNOW any cuss words, so I’m probably OK” . . . . .about that time, Dad stepped back from the cage and as CLEAR as a Human voice could utter, MY parrot said loudly, and slowly, “OH SHIT!” . . .. . . . YIKES. What was I gonna say or do…….I immediately KNEW that anyone would know this bird couldn’t say ANYTHING it hadn’t heard 1000 times while at the same moment, my mind was saying, “WHERE THE HELL DID HE HEAR THAT?”…… to my relief, while I was worrying, Nephi and Addie let out a rich long long laugh (which broke the worry look on my own Mom’s face)…….. and I remembered why I liked the Griggs THAT much. I NEVER to this day thought I said, “Oh Shit” enough anywhere that Jocko could have learned it……………..it’s a life mystery.

Pic 2…..

That picture taken in McCall, Idaho where my Dad had built a summer cabin partnered with his boss Henry Zobell….it’s at Payette Lakes…..an area that has exploded with resorts. When my family built it, the cost? $2000 (they did most of the work themselves)….they sold it for $8000. The last time it sold on the market, it went for $250,000……and still has NO indoor bathroom. . . .
***I digress…those were wonderful summers, and my first experience about working for a living: read: Caddy. Until THAT time in my life, my jobs included: A Paper-route I inherited from older brothers…….that paid pennies it seems, and barely enough to buy the bicycle you delivered the papers with. I graduated from that to farm work: A kid my age then (about 9-10??) and his siblings would be place in one corner of a sugar beet field of seemingly mammoth 10-20 acres to: (first round) THIN the beet starts, then later….. (second) hoe the weeds out from around the beets, all paying about .75 to $1 dollar an acre. It would take a couple days for 3 boys to do it. Let’s see here: 20 acres x $1 = $20. for TWO days work divided by 3 = $3.30 for me. I could see then WHY Mexican families needed 8-10 kids helping the work in those fields…. That meant I could make about $1.65 a day in the fields.
**THAT’s where being a Golf Caddy came up. McCall sponsored a Golf Tournament every August. That first year, Dad taught me HOW to be a caddy of course by being HIS caddy for NO pay. . . that’s him I’m giving the club to. But, as I was taught, on the day the tournament started, I stood out there as the players were coming from the club house begging, “Can I be your Caddy, today, Sir?” . . . . .. . and one nice guy said yes….. I really enjoyed walking around the 18 holes with that guy, he was kind, and we were surrounded by forest, what wasn’t there to like? Gene handed me $10. ($5 for each 9 holes) that day, and asked if I could caddy the next day. WOW. I had just learned how fortunes were made! I caddied for him 3 days that year and two the next.
The LESSON? I did NOT go back to working beet fields. I DID manage to score a baby sitting job or two from the local Doctor (paid $10 ) and got a job at the local funeral home…… HEY! $5. for 10 minutes playing the organ at a funeral for about 30 minutes work, and I Got OUTTA school to do it)…….
So THAT was the summer I learned about the value of different kinds of work.

The last picture? This DEAR little native Douglas Squirrel has been So cute out at the feeders the past week.

The aggressive Blue Jays are NOT allowed to land anywhere NEAR the food tray when HE’s on duty. He’ll chase them all over that cedar tree, up and down, and immediately run back and sit right by the food. He’s a joy to watch! After all, the jays should be off eating from all those food storage places they were working on last fall.

This T-Shirt is available on-line. My friends with Cats are opposed to the political implications of Cat Family behavior, so I guess I won’t order one:

OKAY. Perhaps, I’m beginning to wake back up from some sad family events……..It’s a NEW year………….we’re healing.

A Christmas to Remember

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday January 4, 2011

Between Rodger and I, all but one parent have been gone for a few years. Rodger’s Mom passed away in the late 80′s of cancer. Mark’s Dad in 1995 from a long bout with congestive heart failure, and his Mom in 2000 from a stroke. Rodger’s Dad plugged along finding love not too long after after Shirley died, and the marriage to Pat truly showed a shared love between them. We ALL celebrated that union, but it ended early when Pat suffered a sad sudden heart attack leaving Chet a widower a 2nd time in the mid 90′s. But Chet wasn’t through with love yet…………

It’s quite an unbelievable and cute story when he encountered his the childhood love of his life, Joyce, the sweetheart from Arkansas one evening out there in the wilds of the Sacramento River Delta just 2-3 years ago, a night he was singing karaoke at 78 years old. The romance with Joyce ended ONLY by her Father putting a stern stop to it. ***A Younger Chet:

Both kids parted, married separately, raised children, and here in their late years, met again, and magically, Chet Metheny thrived again winning love for the 3rd time in his life.

This time, it’s Chet’s misfortunes that brought unwanted complications to what time he had left here. In July, he broke his hip, and grudgingly, 4-5 days later was driven to the E/R by Joyce. The hip surgery proceeded okay, he finally returned home, but NEVER got into the routine required to truly overcome such an accident for an 81 year old. He never regained an appetite, lost more weight, began to have breathing issues (unreported by him) until it was so severe, he knew something had to be done. He went to the doctor who immediately placed him in the hospital where double pneumonia was diagnosed so aggravated that lung surgery was involved. The surgery was performed, but it seems he didn’t really have the strength, or health condition to recover.

Rodger flew down for a couple weeks to be with him and Joyce, to be by his bed day shift and sleep (and clean) his home, hoping he’d soon return. Surgeons reported he was going to be transferred to rehab, a move Chet interpreted as shunted into a nursing home that he was always afraid was a death sentence. He realized though he didn’t have the strength to go home. Well, Rodger came home to be here at Christmas and give himself a break.

December 23 meant Marks cousins were here and some friends/neighbors, yes, a smaller group than usual. Just before the gathering began, one of Chet’s surgeons called to finally acknowledge they’d done about all they thought they could do, and did the “family” (Rodger) want his current “care” continued, or….. would he, as they recommended, shift to the new term, “Palliative Care”. Option 2 was chosen, and 30 minutes after our last guest left, the hospital called once again to report Chet had passed away.

We both flew down this time to to the “work” that this family event always requires. It’s always unbelievable the amount of things that have to happen quickly. I won’t go into detail…….

We’ve finally returned home, knowing yet one more trip is required there with the pickup that will involve renting a small u-haul to pull back here with a few family treasures……………….we arrived back home on New Years Eve to an invitation to join Sarah at her place where she was hosting a NY Party. JUST the perfect fix-it remedy we needed after the last few days. We thought we’d stay for an hour, and came home at 1:00 am. We’d had tickets to see the revival of “HAIR” the musical on NY day, and we went. We both felt it was a wonderful production….it’s traveling the country, make sure you SEE it if you get a chance.

OUR Christmas tree sat dark and quiet through the Christmas week. Strange week it was. That was this years Christmas to Remember.

Just a last happier note, THIS adorable puppy DID attend Chet’s 75th birthday:

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