Again this year I’m singing in the Portland Choir and Orchestra. Our Christmas concerts will be December 19 and I’m confident it will be a great program. It is a lot of work and time commitment with a weekly two hour practice, plus personal practice throughout the week to learn and memorize the music. But it pays off with joy and satisfaction singing such marvelous music.
Here is a promo video for the concert:
And here is one of several numbers on youtube from last year’s concert:
When my son Daniel was approaching his 18th birthday he had to scramble to complete his BSA Eagle Scout project. He got a lot of help from his mother and others, but it was quite a bit of work. It involved gathering clothing, utensils, toys, and other usable items to donate to a migrant farming camp outside nearby Hillsboro. These migrant workers would come up from Mexico (or further south), often with their families, to work the fields here in the summer. Since they didn’t have permanent housing there were camps set up with living quarters for them to use.
Needless to say, the families were fairly indigent and would greatly appreciate the donations. First, numerous items were collected from donors and stored in our garage. Then multiple vehicles were arranged to transport the items to the camp.
Daniel and his mom had worked with county authorities to arrange to deliver the goods to the camp. What an exciting time it was to see the joy and excitement at the camp.
We were particularly pleased to see our rocking horse, which had gone through all five of our kids, find a new home with a happy child.
Over the years we have sometimes used the Thanksgiving long weekend to tackle various projects around the house. For example, more than once we spent many hours wallpapering rooms during the holiday, often staying up late on consecutive days to get it done.
On Thanksgiving day we had a lightning bolt inspiration to sand and refinish our kitchen table and bench on Black Friday. So we did.
First, some background on the kitchen table, benches, and chairs. We purchased it in the early 1980’s while we lived in Meridian, ID. It is made of solid oak, and includes two extender leaves. Suzanne actually bargained with the factory in Utah during a trip there and we bought it for about $1000, which was a discount of several hundred dollars. And we have gotten great use from it over the years. Every few years we sand and refinish it, just using a Danish oil rather than a glossy varnish finish. On Thursday when we were putting the leaves in to prepare for our dinner guests we really noticed the fading and the various marker writings and stains in various places.
The job was made much easier this time since we made use of a power finishing sander that I bought when we were working on our rental property two years ago. It is such a dream to use proper tools for a job, and this task is a beast to perform when sanding by hand.
After thorough sanding with medium, then fine sandpaper, and carefully wiping away all the dust, Suzanne tackled the staining job.
We’ll let it dry overnight and add a clear coat of oil in the morning, then enjoy our “like new” kitchen table.
While we miss being with family in places all across the globe, we were pleased to have 13 of us at our home for Thanksgiving day. Along with Daniel, Suzanne, and myself, we had six from Blair’s family, plus Suzanne’s brother, Dave, with his two sons (from San Diego and Bend), and Suzanne’s sister from Newhall, CA, area.
Later we had the sister missionaries come over to share a short Thanksgiving message, and each of us shared two things we were thankful for, one silly thing and one serious thing. For the silly thing I noted I was thankful for things that make me laugh, like this morning when I laughed myself to tears from a Facebook post about smart phones doing spelling auto-correction in unintended ways. And the serious thing was being so very thankful to live in the United States of America where the rule of law prevails.
We also committed to write down each day this coming week five things we are thankful for, with no repeats. That should be easy. Our lives are so blessed we could do 50 per day. I’ll start with five right now.
To live in this time in the United States of America
Unlike our other children, it wasn’t in the cards for Daniel to earn a varsity letter in high school for cross country, or tennis, or track. But Daniel did serve as a manager for the junior varsity basketball team for several years.
Among his duties were setting up and taking down team chairs for games, getting drinks of water for the players, gathering up the basketballs, and any number of other helpful tasks during games and practices.
One year the team presented him with a signed team photograph, which he still has on his wall.
After his senior year season we were hoping they would present Daniel with a varsity letter to acknowledge his contributions over the years. It took a little prompting to the coach to make it happen, but it did. Here he is receiving his letter.
Each year we attend at least one home basketball game. The same varsity coach is still there and is excited to see Daniel again, and is so kind to make him feel welcomed and appreciated.
Back around 1994 I loaded up three or four of my kids for a Friday/Saturday overnight with Dad. First stop was a North’s Chuckwagon for an all you can eat dinner. From there we took a back road to the Holiday Inn hotel where we were staying. I guess there were too many curves because Daniel couldn’t keep his dinner down and let loose out the car window. I took this gem of a photo the next morning.
This might have been the same hotel stay where one of the kids, probably little Steven, had a number 2 escape from his diaper/pants in the swimming pool. Aw, such fond memories.
In the mid-90’s we visited the Manti Temple pageant in Utah. Sadly, little Teresa wasn’t feeling well and she lay in agony on the ground where we were sitting. Stomach ailments seemed a common occurrence when we visited family in Utah.
Fortunately, I have no photo for the next memory. We had a large Costco bucket of red licorice in our Dodge van for a trip to California. Daniel must have eaten too many because some licorice came out the other end and left a long lasting red stain on the car seat in back.
As a boy growing up in the 1960’s I enjoyed watching Home Run Derby on television. Each episode two top home run hitting baseball players would square off to see who could hit the most home runs in nine innings. Here is an example episode:
The winner would earn a whopping $2000. Watching it today, I am entertained by the campy conversation, as well as the subdued, almost shy attitudes of the ballplayers.
As kids we would play our own versions of home run derby, setting up a lawn hose to mark the outfield fence and pitching a whiffle ball to each other. Great fun.
As a nostalgic adult I became curious about the setting for the filming of Home Run Derby, and discovered it took place in Wrigley field in South Central Los Angeles, probably during the off season. It was built in 1925 and named after the same chewing gum magnate as Wrigley Field in Chicago (built in 1927), and was used by the Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels until 1957, as well as the Holllywood Stars in the late 20’s and 30’s. The ballpark was used for various movies, such as “Damn Yankees”.
The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958 and considered using Wrigley Field, but opted instead for the L.A. Coliseum for their first home before Dodger Stadium was constructed. The newly formed Los Angeles Angels major league team did settle in Wrigley Field in 1961 for one year. Demolition of the park began in 1969 to be replaced by a recreational facility, Gilbert Lindsay Park.
During a trip to Southern California 20+ years ago we drove through Los Angeles and took a few pictures of the site. I was amused at seeing the same roof line of the houses that stood beyond the left field fence.
I commute to work by bicycle year round. When November comes around there is an abrupt change in conditions, mostly due to loss of daylight saving time, bringing on darkness for my commute home, but also the colder, wetter weather than November ushers in. My ride is 8 miles each way, on quiet neighborhood streets and wide bike lanes on busy streets. So I get a good hour of exercise each day I commute and avoid any slow traffic the car commuters encounter.
There are several components to riding successfully and safely this time of year. First, you need the right frame of mind. So what if it is wet out. The air is fresh and the exercise great, and the cold is only momentary. Second, you need the right equipment–clothes and booties for the wet conditions, and lights, both front and rear. Third, you need to ride safely for the conditions. In November that includes watching out for slick dead leaves on the roadway. And if the weather is particularly stormy, meaning gusty winds that might blow me around, or excessive rain to reduce visibility, then I will opt to drive a car for safety reasons. Also, if the road is snowy or icy I will skip riding the bike.
I mark my calendar at work, circling the days I commute by bike. I normally don’t work on Fridays, but pretty much every other day is circled this year. (I worked from home a lot in July and August, and wasn’t consistent with marking the calendar.)
I’m pretty confident that I am more visible to cars in the dark than I am in daylight, due to reflectors and bright, flashing lights on my bike. I have noticed cars slow down and give me wide berth. I’m glad that Oregon is a very bike friendly state, and especially the Portland metro area. Technology has increased dramatically in recent years with high efficiency, bright bike lights. In addition to one or two blinking rear taillights, I have two headlights, usually setting one to blink to increase my visibility to cars, and the other solid to help me see the road ahead. Even in daylight I will set my headlight to flash to increase visibility and safety. Here is my bike with both headlights on.
Here is some of the winter road debris that collects on my bike. It is worse in November due to the particles from leaves on the roadway.
This summer I purchased a quadcopter and we’ve had a lot of fun with it.
I’m amazed at what $50 can buy in a quadcopter. This includes a camera mounted on the underside which can take still photos or movies. Not great quality, but it is still exotic to get a view from up above. The grandkids had a lot of fun chasing it around in the back yard, and also at the park at Sunriver. They took turns flying it.
Here is a video clip from it flying over our house:
I worry about it getting away from me and having it fly into oblivion, or it getting stuck high in a tree. There are two challenges when flying it–wind, and disorientation. Both were factors when I did stick it into a tree once, but I was able to reach and free it with a long pole. This past weekend I had a narrower escape. Flying in more wind than I should have in our back yard it scraped along the grass and got turned around, so I was unsure which way was forward and couldn’t correct it as it flew away from me. When it got about two houses away I cut the power and hoped for the best.
It was getting dark when we went looking for it, which was a good thing. Because we were able to see its lights blinking through a neighbor’s fence across their yard and in a swamp area behind it. I was very lucky it didn’t stick high in a tree or be lost forever in the brush. I doubt I would ever have found it without its lights blinking in the fading light.