Lyle's Blog

Big Richard

I don’t know the year, but I remember the time.  We had been in our new building for a few years when the big guy showed up.  He met with an old friend, Richard Coon.  Richard was struggling with cancer and had diminished in size so when he met with this new Richard, they seemed quite the odd couple.  They were soon Big and Little Richard.  Sadly, we lost little Richard soon afterwards to that dreaded disease.

Richard Smith (Big Richard) soon became a steady regular as did our conversations.  I found that Richard was the construction supervisor at Habitat for Humanity.  Since my daughter, Carrie, had been on the list for a house for some time, I asked him one day if he knew how far along she was.  To my amazement, I found that she was right up at the top of the list….number 2.  He came in grinning one morning and told me not to tell her but the person on top had just stepped aside and she now was to get the next house.  It was hard for me not to tell her as she had become a bit discouraged as to whether she would ever get one or not. 

Habitat had just had a big plate supper to raise money and I wanted to help also….especially since my own daughter was soon to be a recipient.  I poured over ideas with Richard one day while sitting at the counter.  Now, recently, my best friend Frank Patka and I had gone to a couple of free Texas Holdem tourneys down in Sunriver and I mused whether we could actually raise some money while playing this card game that had become so popular. 

I decided to give it a go and purchased some table tops and chips from Walmart that I found on their closeout isle.  I began to promote and Frank and I hosted the first event on a Monday night.  Two people showed up.  I was quite discouraged.  But, the next Monday four people showed up and it grew from there.  Soon, we had two to three tables of players every week.  I had some sweatshirts made up and gave them to the winners in those first months of the growth of the event.  I also gave it a name….Holdem for Habitat.  And the person who was working on my logo agreed to make a logo for the event as her donation.

The popularity grew and while Richard played in those early times, he soon decided to be the chip boss for the event and to coordinate it rather than play.  To me, this seemed a boring task as I loved playing but Richard seemed to take it on with gusto and gained the respect and admiration of the players.  I recall when the local TV station decided to run a piece on our event.  With Big Richard between us, the newsman interviewed us sitting at one of our tables.  This helped bring in even more players. 

Then, tragedy hits a bit when my office was broken into after one of the Monday night events.  A dishwasher who quit the next week seemed to be the culprit as he was sitting out behind the building and must have seen me place the bag in my desk drawer.  The burglar knew exactly where to go as he broke through my door and pried open my desk drawer stealing over $1000 of Habitat’s money and around $500 of mine.  It was a lesson learned of never leaving money in my office and of being more discreet around short term employees.

As you can imagine, the theft became big news and it reached out to other areas of the state.  An officer of the Department of Justice called me up one day.  At first, I thought that someone had found the thief.  But, I soon found out that I was the one being investigated.  Now, I had studied the laws and found nothing that I could see as a problem.  But, the investigator soon showed me my error.  Money down for chips, chips played to win, and a prize given to the winner meant gambling. 

I was told to rectify the situation, one of those items needed to be eliminated.  I thought that it was going to be the end of the game.  But, I woke up one morning with an idea.  First off, we had recently had a larger tourney where we garnered prizes from some businesses on the coast and also local when Habitat asked us if we could help them raise some money for a special need.  So, what if we eliminated not one but two of the items.  First off, we would donate the original money at the register and then instead of a prize, we would make it a qualification of sorts for the big event that we would run once a year and hold it under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity thus remaining legal.  I contacted the DOJ officer and he said, “I think you might have found yourself a loophole.”.

While we lost some players, the others soon became quite consistent as did Big Richard.  Every Monday, you would find him there before anyone else setting up the game. 

  

In fact, Richard did much more than that.  One night after cleaning up afterwards, we sat once more over a cup of coffee.  “Lyle”, he said, “I really admire what you do in this community with all of your events.  I want to be a part of this.  Don’t ask me if I want to help.  Just tell me where you need me and I will be there.”.

 

Soon, at all of our events, you would find Richard either running the register, or taking tickets, or cutting pies at Thanksgiving.  In fact, when we had to give up our yearly Thanksgiving affair recently, it seemed almost fitting as how could we do it without him.  When Jimmy would get involved with Chili cook offs, Richard was right there next to him, helping him serve.  And then one day he came in to tell me of a group of vets that he had just joined that were looking for a place to meet.  I agreed to let them come in  to my back room.  After the first week, he asked if they could return the next.  He even talked me into joining up with them.  I found them to be a very interesting and fun group so when they asked me to let them make us their permanent home, I not only agreed but appreciated it.  In fact, I hold it as the defining moment of finally joining my veteran brothers who I had been looking at from the sidelines since I was still somewhat in the closet from my unpopular war of years gone by in Vietnam. 

I came to look forward to this group of “Old Farts” as they called themselves.  They and Richard were the foundation of so many things that I do and became the catalyst and center of my mission in life (of sorts).  This might have never happened if not for my friend, Richard.

When the group grew out of the back room and I decided to buffet them in the front, it was Richard who volunteered to stamp their hands when they purchased a buffet meal so that we knew they had paid before joining the line.  That also placed him at the door and he became the official greeter of sorts for the group.  All new members saw his smiling face as he directed them where to go and what to do.  It was Big Richard doing what Big Richard did….volunteering his time to help others. 

Richard knew that his weight was a problem and pursued what he could do to help himself there.  He agreed to a stomach surgery.  They would decrease the size of his stomach thus forcing him to eat less and lose weight.  He was a bit nervous of this event but felt that it was needed and went through with it.  I remember when we picked him up at the hospital and took him home, they needed a special wheelchair to accommodate his larger body. 

He struggled with eating afterwards but soon grew into a diet of sorts that would sustain him.  But other things soon came to be problems also like blood pressure and sugar.  He fought through it all however between revisits to the hospital.  Other family issues became bigger in his life also.  His brother who was living with him had major health issues and soon passed on.  His son needed his help and he was right there as a good father.  And, he missed his daughter and granddaughter down in Southern California.  He would often talk of them and show pictures around to us all.  His little granddaughter had garnered a huge piece of his heart. 

He would talk of his other son who lived close by.  Something had happened between him and his wife and it had placed a barrier between them.  While Richard was proud of him, his son held anger over the breakup of the marriage.  This bothered Richard but he could do nothing about it. 

One of our servers, Cindy, had become a real estate agent and talked to Richard of a program that he may qualify for to get him into a house.  Before we knew it, Richard had picked out a home south of Sunriver and although it was a struggle soon owned a mortgage on it that he could afford.

While we were happy for our friend, we soon saw less of him.  The cost of coming in every day became just too much.  Our daily meets soon turned into two to three times per week.  I missed my morning greeting of “Good Morning Sir Lyle”.  It actually led me to appreciate him even more when I did see him.  I would come in early on a Monday evening to share supper with him before the poker tourney.

But it did not deter Richard from being Richard.  He saw a need in my kitchen.  Crystal (our lead cook) was on her own.  She had left her husband and was now bringing up their three kids alone.  Richard told her that he would help her get into a Habitat house. 

He soon became her mentor encouraging and pushing her to continue on.  He even saw another need through it all.  Her kids had never been to Disneyland.  He took it on as his cause and soon he was taking them on a trip south.  His big heart beat loudly on that trip and it is something that they all will never forget.   

Then, one day he told me that he was going up to Portland for a special need.  The numbers were up on his blood work and they had decided that he might have a bit of cancer.  They told him not to worry as they felt that they could get rid of it early. 

His appointments kept getting put off and one time he even drove to Portland only to find it put forward again.  This was frustrating for him and I understood that.  He was assured once more not to worry.  So, it was just another trip up for him last spring. 

Then I got the call.  He told me that they had opened him up and then just closed it all back down.  He said that cancer was on an artery and that surgery was out of the question.  I asked him what that meant.  He said, “They give me six months.”.  The shock hit us all but it did not deter Richard…..at least at first. 

And then his absences grew and we saw less and less of him.  I took a couple of trips down to see him.  His family brought him in on the fourth of July.  He looked at me and said, “This is the first fourth that I have not worked with you.”.  He would always take tickets for the BBQ that evening. 

 I will never forget the last time I saw him.  Richard was laying in his bed watching TV.  Ken and I sat at the foot of his bed and visited.  I looked over and Richard was staring at me.  I stared back and two old friends just looked at one another.  Without a word, tears welled in both of our eyes…..no sound was needed….my friend was saying goodbye. 

We held a service for our friend in early August.  I carried his ashes while Ken carried his flag.  David performed his sword ceremony and JW and I piped him off.  It was a beautiful service but a sad goodbye. 

But that was not the end of Richard’s story.  His legacy lives on.  Crystal’s house was named the Big Richard build.  Richard made it to the dedication ceremony where a sign with his picture was placed in front of the lot. 

Two weeks ago, I spoke in his place at the dedication of the house.  It was a happy event where we spoke of Richard’s dedication and his drive to get Crystal into a house.  I also spoke of how the Band of Brothers may have never taken off if it had not been for Richard.  The bend group is now over 1100 strong thanks much to him. 

 

And last week, I spent Thanksgiving in the house that Richard built….the Big Richard build….Crystal’s new home.  As I listened to the laughter, thoughts and memories of my old friend wafted through my head.  If he were alive, he would have been right there with us. 

So….when we sat to eat, I placed a setting on the table for him.  And before we ate we raised a toast….to Big Richard. 

Now a family has a home….a roof over their heads and a warm place to retreat at the end of the day. 

All thanks to Richard Smith….Big Richard….a part of his legacy will always be close by.

Big Richard

November 21, 2014

I remember when I first met him.  It was shortly after I moved over to our present location.  He would come in and meet with another friend of mine, Richard Coon.  Richard was the retired Vice Principal of Bend High and a friend of many years.  They soon became Big Richard and Little Richard to me.  Sadly, we lost little Richard a few years back to cancer.
I discovered that Big Richard was the construction supervisor for Habitat for Humanity.  A very heavy man, I found it interesting that he was living in a 5th wheel trailer....actually sharing it with his brother who I believe we lost to lung cancer.
Carrie was on the list to get a Habitat House so I asked him if it were possible to find out just how high up she was .  He came back the next day, informing me that she was at the top of the list.  Actually, the person to be the first to get a house in the next location.  Shortly afterwards, he came in and told me that if she wanted, a person in front of her had just dropped out and she was in line, if she desired, to gain the last house in the present location.
I sat down one morning with him over coffee.  It was right after a gala event up at COCC where they were raising money for the local chapter of Habitat.  I shared with him that I knew the fellow who had actually started the first chapter here in Bend, some years back.  We had placed a donation box for him at the counter.  I told Richard that I wanted to get involved and help, especially since Carrie was getting a house.  But a fund raiser meal in my place would not raise the money that was needed and besides, I wanted to do something that the local joe could afford to help out with.....and who could afford a $100 a plate meal.
I had been playing a few hands of free Texas Holdem with my buddy, Frank, down at a bar in Sunriver and I thought out loud that maybe we could set up a tourney right in our back room.  I even coined a phrase, Holdem for Habitat.  Richard thought it might be a fun project, so I found some table tops and chips on closeout at Walmart and thus began our new project.
The first night only brought in 2 players.  I thought it was going to be a bust.  But the next brought in 4 more and before we knew it, we had 3 full tables of players.  At first, all three of us played but Richard soon backed out of that.  He said, "You guys play, let me handle the chips" and so he became our 'Chip Boss'.  It had to be one boring job but he handled it well.  Announcing when the blinds were raised, restacking chips, and controlling the flow of the game.  I remember when the local TV station showed up and interviewed the three of us at a table with chips in front of us.
That program, less than 10 years old, has now raised over $40,000 to help build houses for the less fortunate.  As a matter of fact, one of our cooks is to receive the next house do out by the winter.  It is officially called 'The Big Richard Build' and all of our weekly funds are going towards it.  Crystal had Richard as her sponsor as he encouraged her through her process.
Somewhere after Carrie's house was built, Richard announced a special thing in his life....a grandchild.  He was going down to California to see her.  He was gone so long, I thought that he would not return.  So did Habitat, who relieved him of his construction supervisor job.  Richard returned to Bend, jobless but not homeless....he still had his 5th wheeler.  I don't ever recall him complaining, however, life was just what it was.....life.
We soon found out something else that we both had in common, we were both veterans. Another friend had recently walked down the middle of the street in downtown Bend thus starting the Veteran day parade here.  We both started joining the parade the same year.  He, as a part of the American Legion and me with just a few vets in my convertible.  The first year it was just my dad and I.  The next, three other friends joined including Ken Hauge, who became another close friend of Richards through it all.
One day, Richard informed me that he had joined a group of vets that called themselves the Band of Brothers.  I was not one for joining veteran groups.....the pain of the Vietnam war was still present in my mind.  I was a closet vet.  It was just a part of my history.  Even though I had been working with a couple of local organizations, it was not a close part of my life.  That was soon to change.  Richard asked if they could meet at the diner for their Monday morning meal.
I joined the first week, only because I was a vet, they were meeting at my diner, and with the encouragement of my friend, Richard.  So, it became Richard who brought them to the diner where they began to grow in numbers, spawning groups all over the state.  The Bend group that meets at Jake's is now over 1000 strong.  When we grew out of the back room and began a buffet in the front, Richard volunteered to stamp hands being the first person that people would see when they came into the room.
At one of our many breakfasts, Richard informed me that he liked what I did in the community and he wanted to be a part.  "Don't ask me if I want to be in something, just tell me where you want me.", he said.  From then on, that is exactly what happened.  Every BBQ or Spaghetti feed, he was the cashier or ticket taker.  Every Thanksgiving, he cut the pies and served them.   Every Chili cook off, Richard sat right next to Jimmy.  In fact, when we had our Christmas parties, Richard was a part of the crew.
Richard seemed to always be there in the morning before I arrived.  As I walked into the diner, I would hear, "Good Morning Sir Lyle!" .  And I would counter with, "Good Morning Sir Richard!".  His smiling face and generally good attitude just seemed to start the day off right.  Judy also enjoyed his presence and looked forward to his hugs and kisses.  Richard had become a part of our family.
He struggled with his weight and decided that he needed to do something about it.  An operation was set up to take out part of his stomach.  It was felt that with the smaller stomach would reduce his intake and thus assist in weight loss.  I picked him up at the hospital afterwards and we needed a special wheelchair and he was taken down in one of the freight elevators.  He struggled eating things after that surgery.  Most foods seemed to make him sick.  It did assist in his weight loss but also left him somewhat anemic.  He struggled with his blood pressure, blood sugar, and his health in general.
I worried about his living environment.  He lived in a small fifth wheel trailer.  To me it was a bit claustrophobic.   But, it was all that he could afford and he was happy with it. I was tickled with Cindy, one of our waitresses, helped him get into a house down south of Sunriver.  The move gave him room to move around which was good....but it also took him away from us as he could not afford to drive into town every day.  But, he was proud of his new digs and we were happy for him.
He continued to come in to the meetings and to the poker tourneys along with any other event that we staged or assisted but our daily encounters began to fade.  Actually, that made our breakfasts even more meaningful as it would give us a chance to get caught up.
He still struggled with what he could and could not eat and that lead to more tests and to a diagnosis of possible liver problems.  When I first heard that, I worried.  I knew of a few people who had contracted liver cancer and none of them had survived.  My worries seemed to confirm themselves as he told me that the doctor felt he had some cancer.  But, he was not worried.  He had fought other battles and he felt that this was just one more obstacle to overcome.
Appointments were made to have surgery to extract the cancer.  Neither the doctor nor Richard seemed to concern over it but the VA did have problems with their scheduling.  More than once, Richard would go to Portland only to be sent back home because of scheduling problems.  I remember asking him once if that bothered him.  He said that yes it did but only because of the nuisance of it all.  Sooner or later, it would be scheduled and it seemed like a somewhat small procedure.
Then came the phone call from his recovery room in Portland.  The cancer was bigger than they expected and it was attached to an artery and inoperable.  "They give me a year to live", he stated in a confused state.  I knew from experience that the year was probably stretching it.  I did not know what to say to my friend....I struggled to find words of encouragement.

Time

Time is a precious thing.  A minute or so either way can make a huge difference.  I was reminded of that on Saturday as I prepared to venture over to Eugene to join an old friend at the Duck game.  I lingered a bit in the office talking with my son, Casey before I left.  I was going to drive to the game and then afterwards drive up to Vancouver to join up with Judy at our daughter, Trinity's place and then back home the next morning.

That small time made me leave around a half hour later than I had anticipated.  I began up and over the Santiam only to be stopped just shy of the HooDoo turn off.  I sat in the massive back up of traffic wondering what had happened up ahead.  I watched as many people began to turn back and I wondered what they knew.  Then, I realized that I had a smart phone and wondered if I could get service where I was.  I pulled out my small hand held computer marveling at how much communication and information has changed in the last few years.  I looked up the ODOT page and found that their was a large accident ahead.  They recommended a different route.  Now, I knew why others had turned back.

I too turned around and headed back down but now I began to fret at being stuck inside this huge traffic flow going over that small pass.  I fought as to whether it was all worth it or if I should just turn north towards the girls and call it a day.  But, I had not seen my friend in a while and the game was a big one so I figured that I would just play it by ear when I got back to Sisters.  As I drove past Black Butte Ranch, I wondered if many would take the Cold Creek Campground cutoff road.  It is a small but straight gravel road that cuts over to the McKenzie. 

As I approached the road, I watched the mass of traffic in front of me and no one was taking the short cut so....I decided to give it a go.  I turned and headed down the road and marveled that I was the only one on it.  So, I took it a little faster than I normally would (40 or so) and shortly found myself on the other pass well ahead of the crowd with hardly anyone there.  I reveled in my small victory and smiled at the fact that I was now ahead of all of them. 

But, when I got to the top, a small light came on the dash.  The tire monitor told me that their was a problem.  I was driving Judy's new car that tells you all sorts of info including tire pressure and switched the monitor to see the problem.  The back right tire only had 16 pounds in it.  I pulled over and looked at it and you could not tell there was a problem so I kept on going thinking maybe the problem was the sensor.  But, when I got to Proxy falls, the indicator now said 9 pounds.  I pulled over again, still far ahead of the others and it looked low but not that bad.  I figured that I could easily get to McKenzie bridge and find some air for it.  I drove past a rather large flat area by the church camp with that vision in my mind.  The tire would hold....but....it did not.  Shortly before the bottom of the past, it gave up the ghost and I struggled to find a place to pull over. 

The only place was rocky and a bit of a incline but now...I had no choice.  Sweating and nervous, I was angry at myself for not just pulling over at that large flat area.  I got the jack out and placed it in the only place available and began to raise the car.  The rocks did not allow the jack good footing and the incline was not friendly and now I worried that it would slip off the jack.  I quickly swapped the tires and tightened the studs on the small donut reserve.  With the flat tire in the back, I started the rig back up.  The huge line of traffic was now upon me and the traffic the other way was now in play also.  It was like rush hour and I was left looking for the small gap to slip into the flow. 

I saw my break and punched the gas trying to bring it up to the speed of the traffic so as to not anger the car that was allowing the break.  The small substitute tire cried out as I asked it to keep up with the other three.  At first, I thought that maybe I had not secured it tightly but then once up to speed, I smoothed out and all seemed good.  I wondered just what speed it was meant for so I kept it down to 45 or so.....all the way to Springfield.  I took every turn out and kept to the side as much as I could so as to not hinder anyone.

I was glad that I had my GPS with me and set it for the Les Schwab Center.  It took me a bit as the first two on my list wanted me to go back the other way.  I am still not sure where they were trying to take me but I found the Springfield store and took note that it was on the main drag.  I arrived in Springfield at the store now 4 hours after leaving Bend.  It was 1:30 and I was supposed to meet my friend, Ron, at 3.  They assured me that they would get me out in an hour so I walked back up the road to a small burger joint not far away. 

The sign said that Food Network had been there.  I wondered if I actually had time thinking that they must be very busy but I walked into a small cafe with only two tables full.  With hardly no one there, I walked up to the counter and asked how I ordered.  They told me to take a seat and they would come to me.  I ordered a burger and drink and waited....and watched.  I am one to always check out the other places and the two things that I saw that stood out were a line of beer taps right out where anyone could get to them and a small room towards the back for playing lottery.  Instead of a TV for entertainment, they had one with the numbers for lotto.  The owner seemed to certainly be trying to maximize his profits.  The draw for Food Network was obviously Man vs Food as they had signs for a 5 pound burger challenge.  I wondered how one even cooks a 5 pound burger insuring that it is cooked through.

My lunch soon came and I wolfed it down wanting to get back to my car.  As I paid at the counter the cashier told me that I was lucky that I had beaten the rush.  As I left, I could not help wondering what rush?  It was 2 in the afternoon.  Was it a pregame rush?

I got back to the shop and noticed my car was up on the jacks.  I watched a bit of the Alabama game noticing that they were certainly taking care of Texas A&M.  I ended up walking outside and was there when the young man remounted my tire.  He showed me the large plug that he had to put where the sharp rock on the cut off road had punctured.  He told me that I was lucky...it was their largest plug.  I asked if it would hold and he assured me that it would. 

I arrived 15 minutes short of my friend at the mall where we were to meet not sure if I was ready to take on the crowd in my heightened state of mind.  I wondered if it was just best for me to head north to Judy and Trin.  I shared with him a bit of the struggle that I go through and told him that I did not want to ruin his game.  He assured me that if I had a problem, we could come back out so...off we went. 

We met up with our old coach from high school at his tailgate spot and chatted with him for a bit.  His buddy was cooking up some fresh clam fritters.  We ate some of the delicious fritters and as we talked, I began to relax.  We left and walked into the stadium a half hour or so before kickoff and found our seats.  We sat there sharing our lives and our families and soon the kickoff started and the game began.  As I watched I relaxed even more and I enjoyed the atmosphere...of course winning does help. 

Afterwards, as we left the stadium we found ourselves where the Huskies were leaving.  A few idiots were harassing them but most clapped and wished them well.  A rather tall player came over and engaged the crowd a bit, even signing autographs.  I noticed his name on his jersey...Thompson.  I later realized that it was Shaq Thompson, their best defensive player and certainly a future NFL star.

Arriving back at the car, I now began the next challenge...the drive up I-5.  I turned up the music and let it help me deal with this different mass of people.  I soon found myself at he place and pulled myself into a comfortable bed.  Two hours later, I was up as usual and downstairs reading as my daughter left for work. 

I noticed online that three people had lost their lives on that accident on the pass.  They had left behind a 6 year old who had stayed back with friends.  My heart went out to this small boy and what he was about to got through.  His parents and younger sister were gone....and he would have to deal with that the rest of his life. 

I found myself wondering where I would have been had I not sat in the office and talked with Casey.  Would I have been there just before the mishap, or during it?  One never knows.  It makes me pause and remind myself to always tell the ones that I love that I do just that.

Electric

March 30, 2014

Before I left work that evening, I noticed a noise in my computer like a plane going off.  I knew that a fan was going off.  Instead of leaving it on, I shut off the machine before I went home.
Upon arriving the next morning and turning it back on, it sounded as if their were birds in the box.  I quickly called my friend, Vito, and asked him what I should do.  Vito came over and looked at the electronic device that I have come to rely on so much and determined that the problem was the fan on the power module.  It would need to be replaced.
So, Friday morning, Vito was in early with the new part and it was quickly replaced.  But after the install, we realized that we no longer had sound.  Vito worked his magic but to no avail.  Finally, he got out his tools and opened the small machine back up.  We found that it had yet another fan that was not working properly.  I was surprised that their were so many in there.  This time, the fan was on the video and sound card which in the case of my compact computer was the same card.  The fan had gotten sticky and was not spinning properly.  Vito tried taking it off to see if he could get it spinning better when one of the springs sprung dropping behind my desk.
We decided to see what it would do without the fan and he installed the card back in place.  We turned on the machine and it quickly came to life, sound and all.  But just before he left the room, the video went out.  Vito opened the machine back up, took the card out, and reinstalled.  This time he left the outside off the box open hoping that the air would help cool the card.  Seconds after starting up, the video crashed again.  So....Vito left...with my much needed machine.
I don't know how many times that day, I sat down at my desk and grabbed my keyboard only to stare at a blank screen realizing that I would need to change over to the accounting machine to accomplish my task.
When Kim came in to do the books, I decided to go home and rest a bit.  I got home to find that the package from Bose had arrived.  Judy had purchased one of those fancy Bose systems for me for Christmas.  It had worked....for a little more than 2 months.  Bose had sent me a replacement machine.  I quickly plugged the small player in that would be giving me the true sounds of the surf each night helping me get my much needed rest.  The machine had one flaw....the manual turn on and off switch did not work.  I called the Bose corp and maneuvered through the phone system.
After being shocked that it did not work, the man on the other end of the line told me that he had never heard anything like it.  He said their machines were so well made that it was quite a thing to have two of them not work to the same customer.  He said that he would send me yet another and said that if that one did not work, I should buy a lottery ticket because those were the odds.  I thought that was a bit of a oxymoron but said nothing.  I merely boxed the machine back up and sent it back.
I arrived back at the diner for supper and Chris asked me if I would check the camera at the cash register.  He said that a customer had told him that they had left him a five at the register but nothing was there.
I went back to the office and fired up the DVR for the security cameras.  When I went for the search, the machine froze.  I had to hard boot and once I got it back up and running, I found that I could not find any history in back up.  I played around with the settings on the machine and rebooted again.  This time, an admin log in came up.  I had not remembered a password so I tried a couple to no avail.  I went to their password problems page and was told that I would have to contact them.
I found their contact page and noted that they had a chat box.  I signed in and was told that I was next in line.  They said the normal wait was 1.5 minutes but they expected me to be hooked up in 20 seconds.  After the count down, nothing happened except the screen telling me that I was next and to have patience.  The same 1.5 minute note came up...but nothing else.
After 10 minutes, I decided to try and find a phone number.  I still had 1 more hour before they stopped their assistance for the night and so I worked my way through the usual phone direction and redirection.  I was put on hold and told that I was the next in line.  They said the normal wait was 1.5 minutes.  I thought, ok, lets see who answers first.  I put the phone on speaker, laid it on my desk, and put my feet up and waited and waited and waited.  Finally, the phone help opened first.
A man who claimed his name was Sean but had a heavy Indian accent told me that he was there to assist me.  We both struggled with the language barrier, me having to ask him over and over to restate what he was saying, him having me spell out my email since he could not understand me....j a k e s d i n e r @ b e n d b r o a d b a n d . c o m.  Somewhere along the line, I had asked the cook to put my normal on and a knock on my door told me that my food was getting cold.
We had already been working on the problem for well over a half hour and Sean had just told me that he had sent me an email with a program that he wanted me to reinstall in the DVR to get it up and running right again.  A form of reset to it's original settings.  I assured Sean that I could figure it out and went off to have supper and help out up front a bit.
Around 7 or so, I returned to the office.  The email told me what I was to do.  I had to install some programs through a thumb drive, reboot and install some more.  My first problem was that I could not find a thumb drive that did not have anything on it.  Frustrated, I took the one with the least on it, copied it to my other computer, and took another 10 minutes doing that and clearing it off for their programs.  I went through their instructions over and over.  But each time that I tried, something was obviously wrong and nothing happened.
Frustrated....I just locked up and went home.  I kind of felt like a man standing in a room being beat up on all sides by electronic machines.  I was either going to go home....or that latest machine would find itself in the dumpster.  I knew that I needed a break and some rest to reenter the fight in the morning.
Sure enough, with a fresh mind in the morning, I had the DVR figured out and up and running again.  But all of the past was gone so I could still not help out Chris.
Sometimes I truly miss those days when we weren't controlled by these boxes filled with electrical sparks that sometimes seem to lead us more than we lead them.  And to the day when you made a call and it was answered off of the ring by a friendly voice that you could understand and that seemed to genuinely care.
Ah....those were the days, my friends.

Everything is Ducky

I awoke early in the morning.  Last minute thoughts went racing through my mind.  I slipped out of bed and onto the computer to check weather and other last minute details.
I made a mental note to insure that when I got to work, I would look up the roster for the Ducks so that we would know who we were looking at at any given time. I gave a wake up call to Vivian, Red's wife but he had been up for hours.  I wondered how many of the men had actually gotten much sleep.  Especially that ones who did not experience last years event but heard from others about it.
Judy then slide out of bed also and we made our preparations to depart. I shared with her that my anxiety was raising a bit but knew that it could just be last minute jitters.  We agreed to set up a back up fail safe just in case by gassing up her rig.  I stopped in at Kent's Shell station to top her off.  They have the best service in town but this morning...nothing was fast enough for me.  I could feel it all creeping into my head.  I needed to prepare a back up for the day.
I was so glad that I had anticipated this a bit and had asked my buddy, Zin to join us and help organize. By the time that I reached the diner, waves of anxiety were flowing over me and I was having a hard time concentrating.  I kept telling myself that all was well and that my doctor was joining us in the trip.  What could possibly go wrong. I slipped into the office and Zin joined me there.  I told him I was struggling a bit as I printed out the extra sheets of who was to go in each bus and info on all of the WW2 guys so that they could be properly introduced.  I told him that I was confident that all would go well but that I wanted him to be ready to take my place.
We went in to get some breakfast and all of the men were waiting in the front room.  I went over and teased Mr. Denfield that after today, he would be a Duck fan (he is a die hard Beaver fan but agreed to go on the trip).  I was hoping that this distraction would help but I felt it all pushing the other way.  I looked over at Zin and motioned to join me in the back room.  I did not want them to see my distress. With tears welling in my eyes, I forced down as much food as I could.  Knowing that something in bananas help, I told Judy that I would be right back and drove down to Safeway.  I forced down one of the yellow fruit as I drove back up and parked.
Zin had them all outside and ready to go.  I was feeling better and helped organize a picture of us all before we left. I stepped up into the bus and realized that it was not a good idea.  There was no way out once I was on it and if I had a large problem I would end up shutting down the whole convoy.
So....I took the escape route and told them that Judy and I would drive.   That decision alone seemed to help out matters and my heart began to slow down a bit from its hard pumping. As we pulled out of the lot, I wondered out loud if we would actually make it to the practice on time.  "What ever happens, it will be ok.", Judy countered.  She was right.
By the time that we were half way to Sisters, I was calm and feeling fine....the point in front of a convoy of two Deschutes County Sheriff busses filled with WW2 vets on their way to visit the ducks. This was the second year of this event.  Last year, we had taken them over in cars.  After hearing about it, the Sheriff told me that they would like to get involved in this honor of our senior vets.  With two of his finest driving behind me, we were truly in good hands.
The first little glitch happened when we went through Sisters.  The busses took the truck route.  I merely waited off to the side after going through the town and pulled back out in front of them.  The night before had been cold and wet and the pass was heavily covered with cinders.  The two busses slowed behind me and I to followed suit as I kept them in my mirror. Our first stop was Belknap Springs.
I jumped out of the car to let them know that we had arrived and held the door for the guys as them came in out of the cold for their scheduled bathroom break.  I kept the guys moving and noticed a couple of them with coffee and sweet rolls.  They had found were the guests had their continental breakfast and thought it was for them.  The staff did not seem to care so I said nothing also. The front desk asked for a picture before we left and I said as long as it happened soon.   The manager met me out by one of the busses and pleaded with me not to leave.  She said the photographer was right behind.  We waited a few minutes and he did not show up.  I said that maybe we could stop on the way home and get one.  She asked which bus had the medal of honor recipient in it.  I told her that Bob had to step aside as he was not feeling well.  She said, "Well have a good trip.".  I think that Bob was the reason that she wanted the photo op and since he was not there, she did not need it.  We never heard from her.
Neil, one of the drivers, told they had to slow on the pass because of the potential icy roads but from now on, he should be able to keep up with me.  Judy giggled as we got into the car.  "What are you laughing about?", I quizzed.  "A police officer just told you that he could keep up with your speed.", she laughed.  I smiled....it was rather funny.
I came upon a long stretch of road and an impatient driver going the other way passed a car and into my lane.  I hit my brakes and slowed to the shoulder letting him through.  "I wondered if the guys behind saw as they were back a bit.  They had...after all they were police officers trained to look for things like that.  Neither of them got his license number as he flew by us the other way. I turned to Judy and said, "I can't wait to tell people that I drove from Bend to Eugene with two officers on my tail and never got a ticket.".
As we closed in on the stadium, I called Kyle (the Duck football director) and he told me to look for a gate just west of the compound gate that we had drove through the year before.  I drove by and missed the gate because it was not on the road but in the parking lot.  I called Kyle again and finding out my error, drove the loop around the compound once more.  Right in front of the steps to Autzen there was a rather large puddle of water.  I was looking closely for the parking lot entrance and not at the water.  When I hit it, it splashed a huge wave on two unsuspecting students who were walking down the sidewalk. Both officers saw what happened and swung out around the puddle.  They laughed that the two students were drenched.  I felt real bad but one of them said that people around here are probably used to that sort of thing....after all, Eugene gets a fair amount of rain.
Kyle met us at the gate with a handful of passes to get in.  Lanyards with the stamped names of all our people on them.  I took half of the stack and we quickly labeled all our guys and they walked down to the field as we parked the rigs outside. I joined the group and noticed the marketing director was there also.  I smiled and said, "I wondered if you would be here.".  He said that they were going to make a small video for the web and that he would send me a link when done.

I set him up with interviews on a few of the guys as the others began to spread out and watch the team. I then realized that I had forgotten to print out the list of players so with their helmets on, I would not know just who was who.  But, I was far to busy to look anyway as I went from vet to vet to insure that they all were ok and having a good time.  I glanced in a time or two and caught some of the plays and noticed that they were practicing with the signs just like they played on game day.

Kyle caught up with me and told me that they would soon be breaking up and told me where to take my guys to.  I spread the word around to muster on the 50 yard line.   One of the guys was heading the other way and told me that he needed a bathroom.  "Can you hold it for just a short bit", I asked, "We are just about to meet the team.".

I looked over my notes as I prepared to introduce the men to the team.  We joined the team just off to the side and listened as the coach gave his after practice thoughts and encouragements.  He also had his coaches introduce a few potential recruits along with their families.  A couple of the kids looked the part already even though they were would still be juniors in high school since all seniors had already committed. Coach then introduced us and I stepped forward to make my address when he told the team to come around us and bring down the practice.  All of a sudden I had huge football players standing all around me.  One of them, a 6ft 3inch linebacker looked down at me and said, "Hey, you want to bring down the team?".  "Sure", I said, "How".  "Just say Down on me...Down on 3...123 Go Ducks".  It all happened so fast, my head was swimming.  "Down on me!" I yelled...still not grasping that I was actually in a huddle with the Ducks.  "Down on me", they echoed.  My mind was racing and I forgot the second line.  The cheerful student laughed "Down on 3", he encouraged.  "Down on 3", I yelled.  "Down on 3" came the echo from the team.  "1", I yelled....no echoe...."2?"...just a bit quieter...no echo.....Now I was confused....I turned to the player and said..."What do I say now?"..  "3", he laughed.  "3", I yelled and the team shouted out, "Go Ducks".  My buddy Zin was not far from me.  "What's the matter, Lyle, you Navy guys can't count to three?".

Hand after hand was thrust out to me as the various teammates thanked us all for coming.  It was all so overwhelming having my favorite team all around me....much different than addressing them.  I noticed Kyle off to the side.  He smiled and shrugged his shoulders knowing that I had wanted to take a picture with the team and the guys.  I walked over and shook his hand.  "I know how this works", I said, "you take what you get and we are happy with that.".  "Thanks", he smiled. I then joined in with the guys talking with the various teammates who lingered around.

I caught up with the coach and took a picture as I missed one the year before.  I told him that I had brought a couple of Beaver fans this year.  He said, "Give me an hour, we will have them converted.".
I spied Marcus as he was about to leave and shook his hand thanking him for sticking around for another year.  "Cool Aloha shirt", he commented on my Duck Hawaiian shirt.  "I play the Ukulele also", I joked.  "I never leaned that...always wanted to.", he said.  "It's pretty easy.", I smiled, "If you can run this team, you can surely play the uk.".  Carrie had asked me to say "Hi" to him so I did.  He seemed used to that sort of thing and said, "Tell her Hi back!" as he headed off to the locker room.
I looked around for WW2 guys who might be a little shy and found a couple off to the side, bringing them over to Coach who lingered on the field, giving the guys as much attention as they wanted.  Mr. Denfield was standing next to the coach with a big grin on his face.  "Are you a Duck fan now?", I asked.  "Close", he replied.
Kyle then took us on a tour of the new facilities.  We first had to go up a small flight of steps.  With two guys on walkers and a few others with canes, this was the biggest obstacle of the day.  Len (our Frogman....original Navy Seal) was carried up the steps by the two officers.....one on each side.

Their facilities left us....speechless.  No wonder young kids want to play at Oregon.  They are incredibly beautiful and state of the art.  Their theater where the coaches can address the team is so sound proof that you can almost hear a whisper.  I told the guys that we needed something like that for our meetings.

I ran into Scott Frost, the offensive coordinator and took a couple of pictures.  I told him that Carrie went mad at me last year for not getting one.  I thanked him and told him that we wanted him to stick around....I am sure that other teams have him in their radar for head coach.  He only smiled there.  As the guys were getting on an elevator, Scott thanked them all for coming.  Back in the 90's. he had been the quarterback of a Nebraska team that beat Payton Manning for the title.

 

The lounge overlooked the practice field.  It had two large sectionals made of the leather from a football and had around 8 large screen video game areas that had NCAA 2014 on them.  I could just see the guys taking time off there.
As the two officers and I brought our rigs around and into the compound to pick up the guys, Ed tap danced for all to enjoy.
After picking them up, I said one last thank you and goodbye to Kyle.  "See ya next year!", he yelled out as I left.
While we still have these guys around us, this will be a very worthy event.
Go Ducks!

Spaghetti

February 25, 2014

A few years back, I was approached by Dick Tobiason, a local retired officer and head of the Heroes Foundation, to assist in raising funds for the Honor Flights.  The Honor Flights are trips to Washington DC for WW2 veterans to see the Memorial there.  It is actually more about honoring the veterans than it is just getting them there.  All along the way, they are acknowledged and honored.  I have talked with many of the men and women who have gone and all seem giddy with excitement afterwards.
I told Dick that I could not help with what I would call a large fund raising situation but I could certainly put together something that the local every day person could get involved with and could help raise funds.  This sort of event does two things.  It raises funds for the donor and allows people who want to help and yet cannot afford to dole out $50 or more a plate to be a part of the event.
After talking it over with Jimmy, I suggested a Spaghetti feed and allow Jake's to be the venue and the first Spaghetti feed was created.  The cost was $10 per head.  It made the math much easier.  If I brought in 100 customers, than we would raise $1000 dollars.  That became my goal.  The first year, we raised a bit over $2000, if I recall.
It was so successful, that I had other groups coming to me and asking me to run one for them.  I knew that having too many would just dilute the mix, so I decided that the Heroes foundation would be the only recipient and that we would not do more than one per year.
That was six years ago or so.....I tend to lose count.
I awoke Sunday morning a little unsure of myself.  It is typical for me on days of these sorts of events.  All the last minute thoughts of what can go wrong and the anxiety that I battle began to wrap my mind a bit.  But distractions help me with that and I had one this morning in my grandson, Jayden.
Jay had spent the weekend with us as his mom was over in Eugene attending the Justice conference there.
Jay had LaCrosse training this morning and so we got up early and drove down to the diner to have a bit of breakfast first.  One of our waitstaff was sick so we did some shifting around which always causes a bit of distraction in the flow of things.  We began to get busy just as Jay needed to go to LaCrosse.  He asks me on the way over if I would stay and watch.  My heart sunk in telling him that I could not.  I wanted so much to watch him but knew that I was needed back at the diner.  I figured that I might be able to get back to watch a bit towards the end, especially if Judy was there watching the diner.
But, as it was, Judy was a bit late as she also had an extra mouth to feed at the house with Carrie and Jay's dog, Lola who was at Grandma and Grandpa's resort and spa.
I actually tried to get out a bit early, but a full pass bar of food held me up.  I arrived just as Jay got finished and ended up taking him back to the house so he could shower up.  I told him that I would come get him at lunch.
I then headed back to the diner where all was in full force.  Judy was helping at the pass bar so I did what I normally do, pour coffee and put out fires.  I suddenly began to feel weak as if my blood sugar was down so I grabbed a cheese sandwich and downed it.  I also exited the pressure and went out to the office and the unending stack of paperwork that is always needed.
The next few hours became a blur of sorts with the office work, helping out front, picking up Jay and bringing him back down, and all the other parts of running a fast paced diner.  Judy and I sat down for a little lunch and a dark chocolate but I soon ejected back to the office to finish things there.
I got a call from my mom asking me to help her with a jar.  Dad wanted some juice and she could not get the top off.  I drove over and helped her.  Even I had a problem with one of the lids so I wondered how she could be expected to open that bottle of juice.  I asked her if she wanted me to bring her some spaghetti later.  "Shh", she said, "I want to go to the potluck tonight".  She felt that Dad would not want to go if he knew about the spaghetti.  I smiled and headed back to the diner.
I was really feeling tired and weak so I just stayed in the office as things began to wind down for the day out front.  Judy and I talked and I put my legs up on the trash can and was soon off to sleep.  Judy left the office quietly and I probably would have been there for a while except the door swung open and in walked Jimmy.  He wanted to go over last minute details and thoughts of how to make the flow better.  We had no idea how many were to show up, so I had Jimmy prepare for around 300.  Last year, we had prepared for 150 and actually had to take some of our stock out to finish off.
The restaurant closed and people began to show up as volunteers for the spaghetti event.  Judy helped to coordinate them so that sort of freed me up and I was still feeling a bit weak so I went back to the office.
Judy came out and got me as there was one table left in the diner who was still sitting after their meal.  We needed to cash them out so we could get the diner closed and ready for the event.  I came out to find the door crowded with customers waiting for the big event.  Nothing could happen until we got that last table done.
One of the waitstaff was already talking to them and she secured the payment.  I helped Sam, our cashier close out his till and made the area ready for Richard, our volunteer cashier for the feed.  What seemed like hundreds of eyes stared at us as we readied the counter to receive their payment and stamp their hands.  Some pleading, some angry, some frustrated, some happy, and others just staring and watching.
Soon, the mob was released and the diner began to fill with customers.  I spent my time helping organize seating and letting people know that they would not be able to sit just two to a table.  Others would be there sitting with them.  That is the only way this event could be pulled off.  Most were happy with that idea.  It even changes the whole atmosphere.  It is about getting together, having fun, and raising money for a good cause.
As the room filled, I checked all exits to insure that we had all of our bases covered in case of an emergency.  As I walked through the room, I looked for WW2 guys who I could talk with of the up coming event in April.  The Oregon Ducks are going to open up one of their practices to us again.  Last year, that happened and it was quite an event.

Snowed In

February 10, 2014

I was to speak in Crescent at the church that I grew up in on Saturday evening.  I was both excited and scared.  It was where I met the most influential man in my entire life in Ned Landers and it was where I spent much of my time as a youth so you might imagine how I felt.
I awoke and looked out the window to a heavy layer of snow and it was still falling.  My telephone rang and it was Kim, my bookkeeper who's kids and their friends make up the bulk of our buss people.  Kim was snowed in and could not get one of them to work.  So, I told her that I would go over and bring them in.
I plowed through the deep snow in Judy's rig, driving through the back streets to her house.  I felt that I dared not stop for fear of getting stuck.  Many people were already out shoveling their driveways.  I spied a small black thing sticking out of the snow off to the right.  It moved and as I looked closer, I realized that it was the black head of a mallard duck.  It was down in the snow with it's head looking around, I guess trying to figure out where to go.
I picked up Matt and got to work around 8:45.  My entire crew was there and in place.  2 dishwashers, 2 prep cooks, 3 line cooks, 4 servers, 2 bussers,and 1 cashier.  I took a quick look around the room and found 7 customers.  It did not take much math to realize just how much money I was losing.
To add to the matter, my lot was plowed but the area coming into it was not.  People would have to come through the deep snow to get to me.  As I waited for my breakfast, I looked out towards Costco and saw a car stuck in the snow at our entrance off of Purcell.  I grabbed a couple of kitchen crew and headed that way.
A man had gotten stuck driving over the curbing that you could not see from the depths of the snow.  He told me that he was on his way in for breakfast.  We pushed him off of the curb and he drove around to our Hwy 20 entrance.
I contemplated closing when a few more customers showed up.  One of them stated that other restaurants were not open so I figured that just as long as they came in, I would stay open.  I knew that it was not going to be a stellar day but no one said that you would make money every day.  That is a part of being in business.
I knew that I was not needed so I looked at other things that I needed to do.  I stopped up at the hospital to see my friend and brother, Jack Cooper.  Jack is 89 and had a quadruple bypass on Monday.   I looked in his room and found him fast asleep so I just left a note stating that I was there and drove off to my house to shovel snow.

I cleared out my driveway and shoveled off my car.  The snow was still piling up and I felt it's 4 wheel drive might be needed.  I finished clearing the drive and fired up the car, letting it warm up before I took off back down to the diner.  Judy asked me if I would wade out into the back yard and bring in a couple of bird feeders.  We had spied a woodpecker in the neighbors yard just sitting down on the cross bar of their fence and looking over the top.  By the time that Jay and I were ready to head down to the diner for lunch, she was busy taking pictures of the mass of birds that were using our deck for protection and food.

Judy let me know that she was concerned over me driving all the way down to Crescent.  I told her that I had committed and was not sure what to do.  So, that was tugging at my thoughts as Jay and I got in my rig and headed out.  Immediately, I struggled in the snow and ended up throwing the car into 4 wheel drive low.  It went through the deep snow with ease.  We saw car after car in the ditch and off of the road as we made our way down to the diner.  I spied my buddy, Frank, shoveling at his place of business, Printer Resources and drove in to say hi.  Frank had been a youth pastor once and was up on the etiquette of public speaking.  He said that I should call my brother up and leave it to him since he was my contact in the church.
Before lunch, I did just that and Marvin told me that he would let them know that I was not able to make it because of the weather.  I found out the next day that the event had been postponed so all was well there.  It took a load off of my mind however.
The diner was pretty full.  Casey had sent a couple of workers home and he asked me how I felt about shutting down early.  I felt it was a good idea so he began preparing signs stating that we were shutting down at 3.  I drove Jay back to the house and made a discovery on the way home....my car had stuck in 4 wheel low.  It seemed to be ok for the time being, however, as I could not go very fast anyway.
I drove back down to the diner, stopping at the shopping center down below to purchase another shovel to take the place of one of ours that had broken.  The store was sold out which didn't surprise me a bit so I figured we were just going to have to put up with a broken shovel.
A lady called in looking for someone to plow her driveway.  I laughed.  "You are calling a diner to find a snow plow?".  "You do so much for the community", she said, "I knew you would know who I could call.".  I looked it up in the yellow pages and gave her a few numbers.  I chuckled with the cashier over the conversation.  "Makes sense to me", he stated, "you know pretty much everyone in town.".
The crew still did not need me so I found work out in the office paying bills while Casey ran the diner.  Around 2, Casey came in and asked if he could just close.  Only a couple of diners were inside and it seemed like the right thing to do so we shut her down.  As I continued to work on the bills, the crew shut down the diner.
Terry, our 2 oclock wait staff showed up.  Someone had forgotten to call her up and tell her she was not needed.  Her and her husband had driven 2o miles to get to the diner.  I apologized knowing how angry that I would have been if it had been me.
By 3, they were ready to go.  The cashier had gone out and swept off the wait staff cars and we all watched as Kevin, the cook got stuck trying to get out of the lot.  We all pushed as he struggled to move his car.  Cindy, one of the wait staff ended up pushing him with her car.  Between us and her car, we finally managed to get him on his way.
A lady in her Subaru had gotten severely stuck just outside our lot, so we went over and pushed her out also.  I slipped and fell as we pushed and noticed a twinge in my right shoulder.  I shrugged it off and we got her going.
I was the last to leave and I set the alarms and drove back to the house.  As I got to my turn off of Bear Creek, I found a SUV blocking the road.  A man was shoveling it out.  I stopped and he stated that he lived back in the subdivision.  I got out and we both pushed as his wife drove.  Once she got it going, she did not stop so the man ended up walking in with his shovel.  I got back in my rig and headed in myself.  The man walked down the middle of the road so I drove slowly behind.  Eventually, he got off to the side and I drove past and into my driveway.  As I popped up my wipers, he walked past and to his house.  I looked over and smiled but he did not even look up.  I then realized that he had not even said thanks.
I told Judy that I would not be going to Crescent and that made her quite happy.  I went out and re-shoveled the drive that now had another foot or so on it.  When I came back in, my shoulder was hurting pretty bad.  Judy said I should draw a bath and soak in it and that seemed like a good thing to do.  After the bath, my shoulder felt better and I lay down on the couch while Jay and I watched the Olympics.  I woke up 2 hours later with it dark outside.
Jay thought roasted chicken sounded pretty good for supper so I headed down to Safeway.  I got my stuff and got into a huge line at the self check outs.  5 more lines were open and one looked pretty short so I bounced over to it.  But, as things go, the checker had problems with her order and I watched as customer after customer went through the self check.  I figured it would be a better bet so I changed lines back with a smile.  It always seems to happen to me that way when I try to get out of the store faster.  I wondered if the chicken and french bread would still be hot by the time I got home.
Supper was great as Jay and I watched the Blazer game.  Then we put the Olympics back on.  As was the case in the afternoon, I dropped back off asleep.  Jay woke me up telling me that he and Judy had seen some unusual lights over towards the diner.  He said they were like spot lights.  I got up and looked for myself but the lights had stopped by then.

So, all tuckered out from the day and with my shoulder still aching, I took some Ibuprofen and headed off to bed.  I lay there contemplating the day.  The duck, the drives in the deep snow, the many people that I saw out on cross country skis and snow shoes, the stuck cars, the business that might have broken even for the day, the lady on the phone looking for a snowplow, the waitress who drove in 20 miles only to have to just go back home, the many stuck cars, my car stuck in 4 wheel low, the woodpecker in the back yard, the talk that I had prepared and was not needed, the unfriendly neighbor.....roasted chicken and french bread......time with my grandson......happiness......sleep.

MOW

January 11, 2014

Joe Kline / The Bulletin
Jakes Diner owner Lyle Hicks bags up some clothes collected at his restaurant for his Middle of Winter clothing and drive on Saturday afternoon in Bend. Hicks gives the clothing and other items collected to Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, which distributes them to those in need.
A coat for a veteran in need
Bend diner holds traditional clothing drive for vets
By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin
Published Jan 6, 2014 at 12:01AM
The smells of bacon, pancakes and syrup filled Jake’s Diner on Saturday morning.
But Bend resident Bob Stoops, 70, pulled up outside the east Bend eatery with something other than food on his mind.
The U.S. Navy veteran stepped into the diner’s foyer toting three jackets and a pair of blankets, and dumped them into one of several bins pushed up against the wall. A piece of paper above the bins spelled out a list of items people could donate to local veterans in need — clothing, food, blankets, toiletries.
“I’m a veteran, too. Fortunately, I’m a little better off than some,” Stoops said. “So for those less fortunate, I give where I can, whether it’s at the Goodwill, the Humane Society or here.”
Jake’s Diner has held winter donation drives since 1995. Owner Lyle Hicks calls it the Middle of Winter clothing and food drive.
For years, the drive has targeted the homeless and needy across the High Desert, but the focus in recent years has been on helping homeless veterans.
Volunteers collect the donations and bring them to Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, which distributes them to veterans in need.
The idea came after Hicks read about similar efforts around the country during the December holiday season.
“I thought, ‘Well, that’s Christmas. But who cares about them in January, February, March? That’s the coldest time of the year.’”

Since then, the bins have become a sort of Jake’s Diner tradition. Hicks often leaves them in the diner foyer throughout the year. Sometimes, days and weeks pass without a donation. Other times, the bins pile high with jackets, scarves, hats and blankets.
“It’s not just warm clothing,” Hicks said. “It’s food. And I’ve even had guys bring in small propane bottles for heat. Anything they can use.”
This winter has been unseasonably mild, but overnight temperatures still drop into the teens — potentially fatal conditions for anyone without shelter.
Hicks said he’ll keep the bins out in his diner as long as people keep donating.
Homelessness “is a need that’s always been out there,” Hicks said. “Fortunately, this is an exceptional community. … As long as there’s that need, and there’s something we can do, we’ll be here.”

 

Curb it

December 9, 2013

For some reason, I seem to attract angry people from time to time.  I suppose we all do because they are out there. When I do, I always attempt to explain myself but as was the case yesterday, my words usually fall on deaf ears.
My mom called me and asked me if I would take her to Fred Meyers to pick up some prescriptions.  Now let me preface this with the fact that my mom is closing on 87 and yesterdays temperature was slightly above zero most of the day.
So, I used Judy's car which is warmer and has heated seats and I drove over and picked her up.  We drove to Freddys talking with the radio on softly playing peaceful Christmas music.
When I arrived, I asked her if she only needed to pick up her prescriptions and she said that she had a couple of other things but not much.  So, I made the decision to drop her off at the door and keep the car warm for her.  Normally, I would go in with her but with the cold, I opted for her comfort first.  I told her that I would be close by where I could see her and would pull back up and pick her up.
I hoped to find a parking spot where I could keep tabs on the door but as I drove around the lot, I saw that was just not going to happen.  Then, I spied a guy parking along the curb waiting.  I looked at the curb and it was yellow.  Now, according to the DMV, yellow curbing is for loading and unloading and is designated primarily for commercial vehicles such as UPS.  But today was Sunday and there is generally no commercial on that day and I figured I could keep my eyes open and if one did by chance, I could always move on.
So, I slid behind him making sure that I was not blocking any avenues or the front of the store.   There is a side street where drivers can pick up prescriptions from and I insured that I was not blocking that either.  Shortly, the guy in front of me picked up his passenger and I then pulled up in his spot.  I still was keeping my eyes open for an open parking spot where I could see the door.
A van pulls along side of me and rolls down his side window.  At first, I thought it was either a friend or a customer who wanted to say hi.  But instead, I turned to find an angry man in his minivan screaming at me.  "Don't you know you are blocking traffic", he screamed.  He called me a couple of choice words while I tried to explain that I was sitting in a yellow zone.  While he yelled a car traveled the opposite direction quite easily which should have showed him that there was plenty of room but did not.  He then flipped me off and drove angrily around the corner.  The roads were quite slippery and I hoped that he would not hit something in his anger.  I would have felt at fault since I was the one he was angry with.
He came walking around the corner just as angry and I prepared for a confrontation.  Instead, he stopped and took a picture with his phone of my license and yelled something else at me.  I rolled down my window and waved for him to come over and speak to me.  He shook his head and walked toward the store. I wanted to explain to him what I was doing thinking it might make him feel better knowing that I was keeping my car warm for my 87 yr old special passenger.
A couple of minutes later, a parking spot with view of the door opened up and I slid into it.   A couple of minutes more, he came back out, walking around looking for me.  Then I thought of the fact that my business name was on the back of the vehicle.  He probably will not be coming into my place of business.  I justified that with his anger, I probably did not want him anyway.
Then I realized that my vehicle was actually a commercial vehicle also.  If I would have been delivering a cater, the yellow zone is just where I would have parked as I unloaded and brought the food inside.  A few years ago, I had actually done just that and parked in that same yellow zone as we catered a event for Freddys.
I actually thought of trying to walk over and talk with him but two things stopped me.   One was that look in his eye.  He did not look like one who was open for discussion.  The other was my mom who was walking out of the building.  I quickly drove over, loaded up her things, and took her home in a nice warm car with heated seats and soft Christmas music playing in the background.

Giving Thanks

November 29, 2013

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  We served around 350 seniors. There were ups and downs and there always is but I choose to be thankful for the ups and wish to list the highlights of the day:
So many handshakes, hugs, and kisses from grateful seniors who would have sat in their houses in front of the TV.  To watch them interact with the volunteers and see the smiles on their faces is a priceless thing.
Our greeter was from the local TV station and did an incredible job along with one of our regular helpers who had never organized seating before but did it like he had done it all of his life.
In the first hour, servers along with a couple of seniors stopped and sang "My Girl" along with the singer.  Servers from the back room ran into the front room to join in the fun.  I stood next to the greeter and said, "This is why we do this."  Seniors in the crowd clapped and sang along with all of them.
Buck and Gayle picked up Ethelene. As she came in the door, she shook her finger at me and barked, "Don't you ever send Buck Sherwood after me again!".  I believe she meant it too.
My daughter, Trinity, giving up two days of time and a half at the airlines to step in and reduce my stress.  I am not good at organizing and she is.  She stepped in where ever I asked her to and helped reduce the problems.
My other daughter, Carrie and grandson, Jayden who showed up to be with us.  Jay helped out in the cashier booth and was greatly appreciated.  Carrie knew I was stressed a bit and gave me constant hugs and reminders that I was loved.
Judy showing up even though our little dog, Mia, had kept us up most of the night prior with an upset tummy (still don't know why).
Tony and Leo from my group showing up and eating with the seniors.  It was great to see my two brothers and their presence reduced my stress just being there.
Somewhere in the first two hours (always the most stressful as that is when the problems usually occur), I stepped out on the floor and one of our volunteers told me, "I am having so much fun".  I had been wound tight and that was such a release knowing that they were enjoying themselves since I had already encountered other angry volunteers who did not deal well with our disorganization.
Cynthia from COCOA who worked feverishly with Trinity to control the staff problems.  They agreed to stay in touch with one another before next year.
Seeing friends and customers who have become friends over the years enjoying themselves with good food and entertainment.
Jimmy working so hard these past few days to insure that the food quality was top notch and to insure that the left over food was delivered to the police station so that officers who had to work so that others could enjoy their day could have some holiday cheer when they took their break.
Ed's tap dancing.  I saw a couple of seniors grab their cameras so they could take his picture while he danced.
Being able to jump in and sing the chorus of a song that I knew with Roy and the resounding whoops and claps afterward.
Richard once again handling the pie station.  It is so comforting to know that I can count on him every year there.
The various venders who helped out including Sysco, FSA, Franz, and Farmers Coffee.  And local dairy, Eberhard providing the ice cream so that the pies became pie alamode.
All of the various volunteers and entertainers who took a big hunk of their holiday to become family to the many who showed up.  Love isn't Love  (til you give it away).  Reba McIntire and Michael W Smith amongst others.
The people who donated money on the week before to pay for peoples meals on Thanksgiving that they did not know.
And last but certainly not least, Barb, Sterling, Bob Gordon and his wife (she did all the vacuuming), and JW and his family for sticking around afterwards and helping clean up the mess and reset so that we can go on with business on Friday.  If you guys had not shown up, I would probably still be down there.
I was so exhausted afterwards that I fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow (something that does not happen often with me) and slept until an hour or so ago when I knew I had to get up and write this all down before I forgot it.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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