My Title of Liberty

     "In Memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." - Alma 46:12    

 

My Year 2001

 

MARCH 2001

The divorce was final on March 21, 2001, ironically, the first day of Spring. A weight did seem to lift from my shoulders, though.

On March 21, 2001, Mom and Dad drove me to the Amtrak station. We were early. They came inside to see how the building had been restored, and we visited some more. They then left to get some groceries on their way home. The bus was late arriving, but left on time, at 3:10 pm. It was a pleasant ride. I was feeling rather good, considering what I've been through. The bus arrived in Portland ten minutes early, at 4:05 pm. I walked two blocks to a Tri-Met bus stop and caught a bus a few minutes later to Pioneer Square, where I got off and caught the Max to Gateway. When I arrived at Gateway there was a #24 Halsey bus ready to leave, and I got on it. I arrived home at 5:10 pm. I found my gift orthopedic pillow from Craftmatic (for letting them give the presentation) behind my screen door. I phoned Mom and told her I was home safely, and how well the trip went. I phoned Bob Lowell and told him how things went. He and his wife said they are going to throw me a party and invite forty single women and some single men who are ten times uglier than I. I asked if he really wanted to scare people like that. I phoned my boss Judy at work at 6 pm and told her how things went. Since they are always looking for an excuse to have a party at work, I asked if they had ever had a party for a divorce. She said Linda Summers is going through a divorce, too, which I knew. She didn't know if Linda's was final. I had two burritos and some coleslaw for supper. I phoned Elaine and talked to her some more. I updated my journal. I phoned Ernie. He has been sick and went back to work today. He will try to come up in the next 2-3 weeks with my new computer. He says it has a color printer that does red and yellow, but not blue - basically, a black and white printer. We talked about movies. He saw Castaway. He was impressed by the fact that the whole time the castaway was on the island, there was no background music. I went to bed at 11 pm.

On March 22, 2001, At the bus stop on the way to work, I talked to a woman named Jacquie. I unlocked the building when I arrived at work. Kevin and Jan had been making adjustments to my work computer. Deidre gave me some chicken lasagne for lunch, saying it was too spicy for her (I had forgotten to bring something for my own lunch). I worked on Omni and AIG programs. On my way home, I mailed letters to Sandy and Christina.

On March 23, 2001, I talked to Jacquie again at the bus stop. I unlocked and worked more on Omni. We had a programmers' meeting, with donuts in honor of my divorce. I did an AIG fix. On my way home I purchased an April HC Tri-Met pass with my debit card for the first time.

On March 24, 2001,

After the divorce, I threw myself into my work, converting, or translating, our computer programs from QuickBasic to Visual Basic.

APRIL 2001

I began writing poetry more often starting in April with My Compass.

MAY 2001

On May 28, 2001, I got up at 7 am. Ernie arrived just before 9 am. He brought the computer he had been building for three years (off and on). He took the 120 MB hard drive and the 5-1/4” floppy drive from my old computer and installed them in the new one, so it had 5 drives: a 6 Gig Hard Drive, a 120 MB Hard Drive, a CD-ROM drive, a 3-1/2” Floppy, and a 5-1/4” Floppy. The computer also had two speakers (can have 4), a microphone, and a printer (needed new ink cartridges). Ernie set me up with a Free Internet service (40 hrs/month). The Operating System was Windows ME (Millennium Edition). Ernie called his mother, then went and picked her up and brought her back to my house. After Ernie got my computer set up for me, we went over to see his mother, Elaine. I had not seen her new apartment, even though she had been there for months. It was pretty nice, and she had it well organized. She had a new Bread Maker and a new Juicer. She made us a juice with fresh carrots, apples, and I don’t know what else. It was good. She made chicken, pork and beans, Jell-O with strawberries, and cake for supper. Ernie got me home about midnight, before he drove the car back to Salem. A couple of days later, I bought the ink cartridges the printer needed.

JUNE 2001

JULY 2001

AUGUST 2001

August 24 - 27, 2001, I took myself to the Doctor's office and showed them the sore on my toe. Dr. Lara Garrett was able to stick a Q-tip all the way to the bone (one-half inch) and I didn’t feel any pain. She transferred me to the hospital. I was wheeled over there in a wheelchair and admitted. I was put in room 5G-18, a single room. I had three doctors on my team: Dr. Kathryn Locker, Dr. Alice Lee, and one other. I was taken down to X-ray to have my foot x-rayed in three positions. I didn’t get a meal until 7 pm, but it was good. Bob Lowell came to visit me. I was able to talk to my family in Salem by opening the shades and sitting in the window. Elaine tried to come to see me, but ran into problems with the bus schedules. The next morning an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Montgomery, came to look at my foot. He scooped out some of the dead flesh from my toe, and I felt no pain. After that, they were able to stick a Q-tip a full inch into my wound. The doctors decided I would be on IV antibiotics. They hadn’t decided whether they would send me home or to a nursing facility. The missionaries came by and gave me a blessing and a Book of Mormon. Elaine came about 4:30 pm. Just before supper time, they put a PICC line in my arm. A latex tube was run up the vein in my arm and down to just over the heart so the antibiotic would be sucked right into the heart. They then sent me to have it x-rayed so they could be sure the end of the catheter was where it was supposed to be. Elaine went down to MRI and X-ray with me. They didn’t tell me about the MRI. I had to hold still for 40 minutes, and my left knee was hurting because I didn’t have proper support under it. The MRI technician started to inject a fluid into the new PICC line. I said, “You can’t do that, it hasn’t been approved yet.” He asked if I had another one, and I did so he used that. I had to wait for an X-ray technician, and it was 7 pm before I got back to my room. I finally got supper at 8 pm. Elaine visited with me until 10:30 pm when Roger came to pick her up. The third day two of the Elders Quorum presidency came by to visit me in the afternoon. Elaine came to visit with me for a short while and left about 9 pm to catch a bus. The fourth day Brother Alberts came to see me. Shortly after he left, I was told they were going to send me home. They got me scheduled to leave at 4:30 pm, but I didn’t get out of there until after 5 pm. Bob Lowell was going to give me a ride home, but the hospital had called a cab and paid for it, so I called Bob as I was riding home to tell him that I was on my way home. He said, “Good, stay there, I will be right there.” I said, “No, I am on my way home in a taxi.” I explained the situation. He was disappointed. Becky called me while I was still on my way home to check on me as she noticed from her caller ID that I had tried to call her earlier. Someone from the Home Infusion called to say they would be at my house soon. Shortly after I arrived home, the nurse, Pam Henry? Set up my IV pump for me. After she left, Bob Lowell arrived with three beef patties a bun and a plate of baked beans for me. They were good. I phoned Judy and asked for another day to adjust before going back to work. I phoned Elaine, and she plans to come over tomorrow to work on my kitchen. I took my evening meds, changed the dressing on my wound and went to bed.

On August 31, I was prescribed a walker (not so much because of my toe, but because of my weight, which is coming down from 376 pounds in Dec 1998, and bad feet, ankles and knees.) and sent to Home Services where I picked out what I needed and had it ordered.

I went to the Wound Care Clinic at the hospital a couple of times a week to have my toe cared for and the Home Health nurse came to the house about as often to check the antibiotic pump. And the antibiotic supplies were delivered to the house on a regular basis.

SEPTEMBER 2001

September 11, 2001, I got up at 7:30 am. I turned on my TV and saw the New York City skyline with a large cloud of smoke rising out of the middle of it, almost as if a volcano had erupted in the city. I soon learned that two jumbo jets had crashed, each into a separate, 110-story, tower of the World Trade Center building. About an hour later, both buildings collapsed. The resulting cloud of dust and smoke enveloped much of the city. Much of the concrete of the building was reduced to dust. I also heard that another plane had crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. It was obvious that these were not accidents. A fourth plane diverted from its original course and headed toward Washington D.C., then crashed near Pittsburgh, PA. Someone had planned them. One reporter said it left a layer of dust a half inch deep around the city. I got 15 pictures of the tragedy in New York City off of the Internet. I finally reached Bob Lowell just before noon. He said he had gone to donate blood. I turned off my cell phone as the Portland police have asked us to use them only when necessary, as the volume of calls may interfere with emergency efforts. The Wells Fargo building in Portland (the tallest building in Oregon) was evacuated and closed on the advice of the FBI. The Space Needle in Seattle was also closed. It was reported that Barbara Olson used her cell phone to report that her plane was being hijacked, and then the phone went dead. Her plane was the one that crashed into the Pentagon. At 2:15 pm I had three baked potatoes for lunch. I heard that a third, 47-story building, collapsed that had been weakened by the collapse of the first two. About 3 pm it was reported that explosions were occurring in Kabul, Afghanistan, which government has been harboring Usama Bin Laden, the terrorist suspected to be behind the attacks on the East coast. There was apparently an attack on a munitions dump. It is unknown as yet by whom. I do not understand the thinking of men who could hijack an airplane full of passengers and then steer it into a building full of people. The older I get and the more I experience, the more I do not understand it. I know how it is to feel that this life is hopeless (I've been there), but even then I couldn't bring myself to take my own life, let alone someone else's life, and how could I kill perhaps thousands of people?

September 14 - 19, 2001, I took the #19 to the P.A.C.E. clinic. I told them at the reception desk that I was told that Dr. Rosenberg wanted me to see an infectious diseases doctor, but was not told who or when. They got me in to see a doctor, who said that Dr. Rosenberg had decided I didn't need to see him after all. Then they wheeled me to my appointment with Dr. Montgomery. He looked at my toe and we discussed the options and we decided that we would continue the current treatment another three weeks, as originally planned, and then review where we are. I took the bus home. At home, I took an hour nap. I started getting a fever. It was 101F. I went back to bed for a three hour nap. The fever went up to 102.6 F before I called a doctor. Dr. Guitteau with the P.A.C.E. clinic told me to go down to the Emergency Room. I phoned Brother Alberts and he came and picked me up and drove me to the E.R. They took blood and urine tests, and two chest X-rays. After midnight, they admitted me to the hospital and put me in room 5G-44. They let me order an egg salad sandwich and a diet cola from the kitchen. They didn't feed me again until that night, because someone assumed they were going to perform surgery on me that day, but the surgeon wasn't going to be there until sometime Sunday. They changed my IV antibiotic, and turned off my IV pump. They sent me to X-Ray to check my chest for signs of infection. The person who took me down there (on a gurney) said that a friend of his was on one of the planes that was crashed into one of the towers in New York City. They checked my blood sugar and gave me insulin when needed to bring it down. Elaine came in the evening and visited for a couple hours before taking a bus home. On the third day, again they did not feed me, assuming surgery would come. They doubled my Mavik dose to 4 mg/day. They reported to me that no infection was found in my blood. Dr. Montgomery came and looked at my toe. He said it looked like it was improving. He thought it would be OK to send me home with the antibiotic as we had agreed on Friday. Then he went to look at the X-rays they took of my foot on Friday night. When he came back he told me that the X-rays showed that the damage to the bone was worse than it had been. We agreed that the big toe and the tip of the toe next to it on the right foot should come off. He went and prepared his team for surgery. I phoned people to tell them I was going into surgery. Bob Lowell came to visit me until I was taken down to surgery. The anesthesiologist talked to me about what he would do. We agreed on deadening the area of the surgery, and sedating me, which means I would be awake during the surgery but would not feel what was happening to my feet. Which is how it was. I could not see what the surgeon was doing because there was a sheet or something held up between my head and my feet. Afterwards, I saw him take my severed big toe to a table and take a sample from it to be tested, so they would know what germs were there. They checked my blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen level several times before sending me back to my room. The nurse sent for some gelatin for me, but they brought a meal. She told me to eat slowly, and to quit if my stomach sent me the wrong signals. But I ate it all, and was OK. The next night I developed another fever. The fifth day my fever broke about 5 pm. The sixth day comeone came from Physical Therapy and took me for a short walk, including a flight of stairs. A nurse removed the extra IV site from my right arm. I was told I would be going home. They tried to discharge me by 6:15 pm, but things did not go as expected. They did not know what I was supposed to do with the dressings on my foot. They did not provide medications like they did the last time I was discharged from the hospital. The first taxi driver left and they had to call another. I got home about 7 pm.

September 26, Saw Dr. Raguram and was told my kidneys are leaking protein. At home I saw the first episode of Enterprise.

OCTOBER 2001

October 2 - 4, 2001, just before 1 pm, the man from Home Services delivered my walker. It fits well, has a bigger basket than I thought, and is wider and sturdier than the ones I looked at. It has four wheels and hand brakes. The next day, my IV was removed. And the third day, I had an ultrasound done on my kidneys.

On October 6, I walked with my walker more than a mile and a quarter to Bob Lowell's house. Bob was out of town so Katie drove me and my walker home.

On October 12, Dr, Montgomery removed my stitches. The next night at a Single Adult Conference I was dancing: I sat or stood on the sidelines for about an hour, sometimes rocking to the music, or taking dance steps, always wondering how to ask someone to dance when they all seemed to be paired up. Finally, Peggy, a friend of Jeff’s (he says he didn’t send her over, and I believe him, but I would have thanked him if he had), came over to me and asked me to dance. After that I found the courage to ask others myself. I danced with younger ladies, and older ladies, but I really could not guess any of their ages within ten years, I think. To one older lady I told how I became a member of the Church. I got several dances out of that one. To others I told some jokes including:
     There was this guy who had his toe amputated.
     He asked the doctor, “Doc will I be able to dance?”
     The doctor says, “I don’t see why not.”
     The guy says, “Great! I never could before.”
There was a mixer dance where the guys lined up on one side and the gals on the other. The two lines would then come together on one end of the room and people would pair off and the couples formed would dance to the other end of the room and separate into the guys and gals lines again and the whole thing would repeat, only next time you would be dancing with a different partner. The music for that went on for twelve minutes, so I got to dance with 6 or 7 partners that time. As I was resting on the sidelines, they started playing “Could I Have This Dance?” and again someone asked me to dance. I think I remember her name was Leona. I danced a couple of dances with her until they started a group dance that I didn’t know the steps for and I had to bow out. I danced with Inga, which I always thought was a Scandinavian name, but she was black. I danced with Dee, who was also black and had Whoopi Goldberg hair. I gave Dee and a few others one of my “dating” cards.

NOVEMBER 2001

November 3 - 5, at 4:16 pm, my temperature was 102.6 degrees. I called the doctors office and they said the doctor on call would call me back. I waited two and a half hours and then called again. They verified my number and said they would page him again. Nobody called. I took the cordless phone to bed with me. The next morning I called and cancelled my ride to church. I went back to bed until about 2:30 pm. In the evening, I called Br. Alberts who lives nearby and he took me down to the Emergency Room, knowing that if I had talked to the doctor, he would have told me to go to there. I tried calling the home teacher for whom I had a phone number but got an answering machine, and I was assuming that no one could call me. I had forgotten to bring my glasses, and my wallet. They took my vitals, etc. They determined that I was dehydrated, and had a urinary tract infection (they used a catheter, which was uncomfortable at best and quite painful at worst). They prescribed an antibiotic for seven days which I couldn't fill until Monday. They released me to go home just before midnight. I wasn't feeling much better, but they had broken my fever with 3 tablets of Acetaminophen and 3 tablets of Ibuprofen (don't know the dosage). I called Br. Alberts and he came and took me home. It was 12:15 am Monday morning. It was raining pretty good. I watched my friend start down the street, probably to go to bed, and I was thinking of doing the same. As I walked up to my front porch, I suddenly realized that I had also forgotten my keys. First I tried sliding something between the door and the jam to open the door; there was enough of a gap. But even if I had had the right tools, it probably wouldn't have worked. I went around back and checked the back door. I even sized up the windows for any thing I could open (not that I could have gotten myself up to and through them). Most of them are barred, and most of them are painted or nailed shut. I went back to my front porch. Qwest had kindly deposited two misdirected tomes on my porch, which were dry. I took one of them and placed on the chair I have been leaving out on my porch, which was not dry, and sat down. I first contemplated sitting there until morning, but then what? I didn't want to wake my only neighbors. I didn't know how they would feel about it. The rain was actually relaxing, and I was very tired, not having gotten good sleep for more than two days. Suddenly, it occurred to me that in the far end of the office building across the fence from me was a Taxi office which would have someone there 24 hours a day, and their landlord was the same as my landlord (also my boss). I walked over there and knocked on the door. The man motioned me to come in. I told him my situation, and he let me use his phone to call the Landlord. Actually, there are two of them, Clyde and Judy. Judy answered the phone. I was glad of that as Clyde's health has not been good. She drove to the office and picked up a key to the house and brought it over to open my door for me, while I went back to sit on the chair on my porch to wait. It took quite a while for her to arrive, but the rain was pleasant, and I was no longer tortured by the thought of being there the whole night. In the light of the streetlamps the rain looked like an aurora. After Judy let me in I had something to eat, but I couldn't eat but half of what I had fixed. I got some good sleep finally.

On November 17, I went to a Single Adult dance. The dance was fun, though I only danced with one gal who asked me to dance. Her name was Sandy, born Sandra, and she was from Salem. Miki Laurich came over and told me it had been a long time since she had seen me. I asked her who she was. When she told me her first name, I remembered her. I knew her as Miki Sieroslawski from West Salem. I had been noticing her dancing before that. I looked down at her feet and said, “Oh that’s who you were!”

For Thanksgiving, I left work about 4 pm and took the bus and Max downtown. The Amtrak bus was late due to traffic. I visited with a lady who was going to the coast on another 6 o’clock bus. There were at least two TV News crews (channels 6 and 12) at the station. I may have gotten in the camera angle of one of them. The bus was 50 minutes late leaving Portland and took 85 minutes to get to Salem. Mom and Dad waited for the bus and met me at the Salem station. They drove me home. Mom fixed me a ham and cheese sandwich. Becky was at a church meeting and didn’t get home until about 10 pm. Thanksgiving Day, I got up at 6 am. I learned that Ernie had moved to 640 Kingwood Drive. For lunch we had sliced apples and cranberry sauce. About 3:30 pm Becky called the Old Country Buffet to ask how long the line was. Becky and Horacio went down there and got in line. When they got to the door, Becky phoned and told Mom to bring the rest of us. We drove over there (Center and Lancaster) and met Horacio in the parking lot. We walked past the rest of the line and Becky paid for all of us. We found a table and started getting our food. I didn’t find the turkey and dressing on the first plate, so I went back for seconds and got turkey and dressing. I was thinking about having ice cream for dessert too, but with only a couple bites of dressing left, I could not eat any more. Dad and I were done eating first so we went out to the car and waited for Mom. Becky and Horacio took the kids home. Horacio, Becky, Jesús, Amy, and I played the game of Life on their Nintendo. The plug got pulled out near the end so we don’t actually know who won, but we were all pretty close together. The next day, Becky and the kids and I went to WinCo to do grocery shopping. I used their electric cart. “Turtle” didn’t work, “Rabbit” was slow, and the horn only worked with “Turtle.” Then on the way home we stopped at Albertsons. Becky went in to get sub sandwiches for dinner. She came back out and said they were sold out, but they were making a two-foot sandwich for her. Meanwhile, we went to Radio Shack where she bought a “walkman” and I bought some spare batteries for my pocket computer. Then we went back to Albertsons. Becky brought out the sandwich and handed it to me. I said, “Thanks. Did you get some for the rest of us?” Jim, Debi, Gary and Patrick arrived. They brought a tray with a casserole, salmon, a Cornish game hen, and some other stuff on it. We played two games of Skip-Bo. We had the sandwich and the rest for dinner. Mom baked three pies: apple, pumpkin, and cherry. The cherry pie folded when she took it out of the oven and we called it a cobbler all night, but it was eaten up before the others. Horacio didn’t get home from work until we were done eating. Jim, Gary, Patrick, Becky and I started playing Phase-10. At the third hand Horacio started in and caught up with the rest of us. About the tenth hand, Debi took his place. She won, but not before 3 others of us completed the 10th level. I went to bed about midnight. On Saturday, Becky and Horacio went to the YMCA early. When they got back we played a game of Monopoly on the Nintendo. I won after Amy (Becky took over playing her piece) absorbed Becky’s and Jesús’ assets. We stopped and had breakfast (cereal and muffins). Horacio made lunch (turkey, baked beans, and rice in tortillas). Becky and Amy took me to the Amtrak station after dropping off some things at the City Library on the way. The bus came in and left on time. The bus was only about 80% full, but the seats that were not occupied had bags or purses in them. I went back to the next to the last seat and sat down on the aisle where I wouldn’t crowd the other person more than necessary. I set my walker basket on the floor with my umbrella in it. I relaxed as much as I could and the trip did not seem overly long. When we got in to Portland, by the time I got off the bus, my walker was setting against the curb. I used the restroom at Union Station then walked 5 blocks to where I could catch the Halsey bus. On the way a man asked me how I liked my walker and tried to sell me a cane for $5. I waited for a while and the bus came. At times I was the only rider on the bus, and when I got off the driver thanked me for talking with her. I picked up some mail from the mailbox. My front door was unlocked and the living room light was on. Elaine was there. She didn’t come until today. She had done more work on the kitchen and took some of my garbage away. The smoke from her cigarettes was too much for me so I lit a stick of incense and that made it more bearable. I saw her onto the bus at 8:38 pm. The missionaries came by to visit. They shared a scripture and prayer with me. I went to bed at 10 pm.

DECEMBER 2001

On December 8, I gathered my paperbacks. I counted 60 of them: 54 were Star Wars books, 5 were by Orson Scott Card, and 1 was by Piers Anthony. I took the bus to the bookstore on Halsey hoping to get $15 to $20 for the books. They were not buying books at this time. The lady running the store said she did not have any cash to buy books, though she said mine were all in good shape and she wouldn’t mind having some of them. She said she was working on the rent. I said I was working on food. She told me about a bookstore on Glisan that might buy them, but I knew that bus does not run on weekends. She told me that Powell Books downtown is always buying books. She called them for me to make sure they were buying books on the weekend. They were. She told me I should go to the entrance at 11th and Couch. I took the Halsey bus to 82nd and transferred to the Max. I took the Max to 10th downtown and the Portland streetcar to Couch. Actually, the streetcar’s announcer announced the streets wrong and I got off two blocks past Couch and had to walk back to Couch, then another block to 11th where the entrance was. I went inside. There were signs telling you where to go and where the line formed to sell books. The line was short. When it was my turn, I put the books from my walker’s basket up on the counter. They take the books they need and you keep the rest. They are overstocked in some books, and of course, they don’t want damaged books. My books were all in good condition. I was disappointed that they gave 20 of my books back to me, thinking that I wouldn’t get much money at all, but they paid me $47, more than twice what I had hoped to get for all the books. On the way out of the store I bought three postage stamps from a vending machine to get me by until payday. Since I had more money than I expected, I thought about the fact that Elaine lived on this side of the river and it was lunchtime (breakfast for her, if she was up). I didn’t remember her address, or even her room number, but I did have her phone number memorized, but I couldn’t find a pay phone. I knew she took the streetcar to her place, so I got on the streetcar and rode it until I recognized her neighborhood. After I did, the streetcar went another two blocks (downhill) before I could get off. I walked three blocks uphill to her apartment building. There I was faced with another problem. The door was locked. Someone would have to open it from the inside. No one was in the office on the weekend, so I couldn’t buzz the office, and as I said, I didn’t remember her apartment, though I knew it was on the second floor. I went next door to a little store under her apartment building and asked to make a very local call. He let me use his phone. I phoned Elaine and told here I was downstairs and asked her if she was hungry. She told me her apartment number and I went back to the apartment entrance and buzzed her room. She let me in. I found the elevator and took it upstairs and found her apartment door directly across from the elevator door. I knocked and she let me in. I asked her where she would like to eat. She said she had heard about a place three blocks away that was supposed to have good food, so we walked down there. It had started to rain. As we approached I saw the sign, Rivercity Saloon. I joked and said, I should have worn my cowboy hat … and my spurs. We went in and took a seat at a table at the window. We each ordered the steak and eggs weekend special for $4.75 each. Elaine asked for hers medium rare and I asked for mine well done. They came with small potatoes cut up with mushrooms and onions. I ordered a small cranberry juice, and Elaine ordered a small orange juice ($1 each). We had a nice meal together. Elaine mentioned wanting to find a doctor to help her stop smoking. She says she spends well over a hundred dollars a month for cigarettes, though her health is the main reason she wants to quit. After the meal we walked back to Elaine’s apartment. We talked some more. Elaine gave me a three-volume set of a dictionary that includes a seven-language dictionary in the third volume. She got it when someone died, and thought of me when she saw it. It would be a good resource for my writing. She gave me a big plastic bag to put my books is as it was still raining. She went to the bus stop with me and I got on the #6. I rode it across the river and transferred to the Halsey bus at Multnomah and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

On December 11, we had our company Christmas dinner. Kevin drove me there. It only took us 25 minutes to get there (somewhere SE of Troutdale along the Sandy River) and we were early. Everyone else was standing outside the restaurant as the people inside were still getting ready to open. We were finally ushered in and to the back of the restaurant (they called it “outside”). It overlooked the Sandy River, but it was too dark to see it. We had gift bags at each place setting with our names on them. Mine was at the end of the table (the head?). Clyde was on my left, and Mike on my right. Around the table clockwise from me were: Clyde, Ken, Cindy, Doug, Melody and the other end (with deer antlers on her head), Deidre, Bonnie, Kevin, Judy, Mike, then me. We opened our gift bags. We each had a scratch-off lottery ticked (mine was worth $1). There was a Christmas refrigerator magnet, and candies in the bags. We ordered drinks first (I had water). They brought appetizers: veggies with dip, deep fried zucchini, mushrooms, and onion rings (I liked the zucchini the best). Then they brought hot bread and butter. Then they brought soup and salads (I had the smoked salmon chowder; it was really good). Then they brought the main course (mine was their specialty, chicken and dumplings). I ate all the chicken, but not even half of the dumplings. Last of all, I had a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert (others had pie and/or ice cream). Clyde (and Melody) took pictures of the group with his digital camera, and a waiter took two pictures of the whole group. Kevin took me home by 8:30 pm, then went home himself.

On December 14, as I headed out to catch the bus I saw one go past. Then I noticed the street sign on the corner had been knocked down sometime during the night. There was no bend or dent in the pole, but was completely uprooted with the concrete that anchored it split in two. There were pieces of what might have been part of someone’s car by the curb, and there was a fresh scrape mark on the curb itself. After work I went to Bi-Mart and asked them to fill 4 prescriptions. I bought a Cool-iCam and a kit for refilling my printer ink cartridges. At home I installed the iCam and software, and began trying it out. I refilled my printer ink cartridges, but the color printing did not seem to improve. The black did.

For Christmas, December 21 - 25, Kevin offered to drive me to the Amtrak station. It took him only 25 minutes to get me there. I arrived at 3:30 pm. I got in a line to find out what the procedure was for getting on the bus. A red cap came over and told me that he would see that I got on the train before the other passengers because of my disability (needing the walker). I went to the restroom then came back to the lobby and sat in my walker at the end of one of the long benches. I admired the architecture and the artwork. I watched the people. I visited with a few passers-by. I visited with a young lady who was playing solitaire because her train to Seattle was delayed in arriving. After an hour I got up and walked around the lobby. There was a train set up in a glass case that I examined. I believe it was a prize for a drawing they are having. I sat down again. Toward 5 pm people started lining up at the gate, but I waited for the red cap. My train began to board about 5:30 and he still didn't come. I followed the line out the door. The man who checked the tickets told me the red cap was too busy. I got myself on the train which was parked so that the door I needed was straight out from the gate. I found a seat set back against a wall with no arms so it had lots of space with it so there was room for my walker. The guy on my right was returning to Salem. His chair was in a normal position. He had a laptop computer (15 megs, DVD). He put in a DVD movie to watch. He said it was "High Fidelity." The train was delayed for 50 minutes due to two Union Pacific trains being on the Union Pacific track we needed to use. The passenger cars were all one-level cars. The next car in my sight had a bar with stools. I never got up and went there to see what else it had. The train finally was able to leave the station. They showed 2/3 of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" movie before we stopped in Salem. I backed myself and the walker off the train. I looked around for Jim. I thought I recognized Jim's van. There was someone's back half ticking out of the side door. I went over and sure enough it was Jim clearing some space in his van for me. We put my walker in the back of his van, and I took the basket into the middle of the van with me. We visited on the way. The mortgage issue for his house has been resolved in his favor. He had jury duty, but got it deferred as things are still slow at work. We got to his house by 8 pm. Debi made supper for Jim and I and herself. It was Octoberfest sausage and peas and corn and macaroni and cheese dinner. We watched the Spy Kids movie I brought with me and visited, while the kids put themselves to sleep. I went to bed at 11:30 pm. They gave me the computer room (there was also a bed, a cable TV, a game machine, and toys all over the floor. There was no pillow or blanket (an oversight), but everyone had gone to bed so I made a pillow with my plastic bag of clothes and stretched my tee shirt over it. I slept well, only getting up once during the night. I was also warm in my bathrobe all night. The next morning I turned on the computer and tried viewing the JPGs I had brought from home. I could view the GIFs, but not the JPGs. I updated my journal with a “Temp Journal.wri” file. I found I could view the JPGs by dragging and dropping them onto the Paint icon on the Desktop. I had mac and cheese dinner for breakfast while Jim and Debi went Christmas shopping. When they got back they wrapped the presents while the little ones went down for a nap. We had sandwiches for lunch. I played some video games with Gary: Need for Speed (car racing), racing Jet Skis, and a martial arts game. I did best at the martial arts. We had chili and grilled sandwiches for supper. Jim, Gary, Patrick and I played Who Wants to be a Millionaire the table game. I made the most play money: $132,000. We went to bed a little after 1 am. The third day Sunday, December 23, I installed the Kellogg's sample Radio Disney Music Mix Studio on Jim's computer. I got dressed. I drew a picture of Boots the cat with crayons for Morrighan. I had Rice Crispies for breakfast. I packed my things. I helped them make Toothpick Treats (mini shish kabobs) while Debi got dressed. Jim unloaded things from his van to make room and then we loaded the food and my walker into the back of the van. Then we all got into the van and headed for Salem. We arrived at Mom and Dads about 1 pm. The rest of them headed to Debi's sister's place to spend time with her family. I visited with Mom and Dad a bit. Then Horacio, Becky, Jesús and Amy got back from church. I went upstairs to see their tree. Then I shared my photos with them on their computer. We had lunch. We watched Hook and Spy Kids with Jesús and Amy and Jonathan. Jonathan's foster mother is Rilla Gifford. She picked him up at 8 pm. I asked her if her maiden name was Smith, and it was. I told her I was David Sawyer from Salem Academy. We graduated in the same class. We discussed reunions, and the fact that I've never made it to one. She asked what church I belonged to. I told her I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She remarked that I had converted from being a Christian. I told her that we "Mormons" considered ourselves to be Christians. Becky, Horacio and I watched Joe vs. the Volcano after the kids went to bed. Then we went to bed at 10:15 pm. On Christmas Eve, Horacio went to work by 7:30 am. About 8 am Jim brought Debi, Gary and Patrick over. Jesús and I had cereal for breakfast. We played Phase 10. Becky won. I was working on Phase 10 myself. We had sandwiches for lunch. Jim showed up about 2:45 pm and Ernie showed up about 3 pm. At 4:30 pm we had Christmas dinner: turkey, potatoes, Jell-O, salad, rolls, cranberry sauce, gravy, pie and ice cream. Horacio got home from work about the time we started dinner. When that was done we opened presents. I got a Christmas card from Mom and Dad with a ten dollar bill in it. Ernie gave me a DVD of Willow, a CD with some software and more pictures of his new house. He also gave me a DVD drive and a video card to go with it. Then we played Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I was teamed with Ernie, Jim with Gary, and Horacio with Jesús. Later Mom helped Horacio, then Debi did. We were making jokes about some of the answers to the questions. One question was: “What creature produces pearls?” In fun, I said, “Japanese divers.” Everyone started laughing so hard we couldn’t continue for several minutes. Ernie and I ended up with $136,000, Jim and Gary had $137,000, and Horacio and friends had $89,000. Ernie and I made good partners. Jim and family left about 11:15 pm to get back to Independence by midnight. Ernie left right after Jesús and Amy got up to open presents. They opened their presents and went to bed by 1:30 am. I went to bed by 2 am. Christmas Day, I got up at 8 am. The kids were up and playing. We had eggs and potatoes for breakfast. I put the photos from Ernie’s CD on Becky’s hard drive. I got my things packed up and took care of my feet. I left six videos with Becky to make room for my Christmas present from Ernie. Becky and the kids went down for a nap just before 2 pm. I found that my watch was about 40 minutes slow for some reason. Mom and Dad drove me to the Amtrak station. We waited for the bus. I got on the bus after they loaded the walker and the basket under the bus. The driver objected to me taking it on board. I watched the folks follow the bus out of the parking lot. I took a nap on the way to Portland and the trip went by fast. I walked the five blocks to 5th and Everett and waited for the #77. When it arrived nearly half an hour later the lift got jammed and they couldn’t take me on. I waited another half hour and got on the next bus, boarding in the middle of the street because the other bus was still there. On the way home one person got on and rode several blocks without paying and got off again. At another place three young people ran across the highway and narrowly missed being hit by the bus. I finally got home about 6:30 pm.