View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pismo Beach Flood

 Dateline: Pismo Beach, March 2001

But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath;  Matthew 24:20.      

Or at 4 a.m. on a cold rainy morning!  That’s when our propane alarm went off when the water level reached the floor inside our trailer.  This is the verse that came to my mind when I opened the trailer door to see the entire trailer park under water and still rising.  Jeri & I grabbed a few dry clothes, fished for shoes and waded in our pajamas through waist deep water to our pick-up.  The pick-up started even though there was an inch of water in the cab.  God bless the inventor of diesels!  As we drove out of the park, the water was over the headlights and I was trying to drive slow enough to keep it from coming over the hood and possibly being sucked into the engine. 

We made it out of the park and to a gas station and called 911.  The fire department arrived shortly there after and with surf boards started evacuating those who could not drive their rigs out.  Later they brought in a dump truck and loaded people into it and brought them out,  

Turns out the cause of all of this was the collection of trash, leaves and branches from the state park above us that washed down through the trailer park and backed up against a chain link fence and gate that guarded a large culvert going to a small river that fed into the ocean.   Over the night and early morning it became a very effective dam.

After our friends made it out we went into town to Walmart just as it was opening to pick up some shoes for Jeri.  We were met at the door by one of the greeters who politely told Jeri she could not come in without shoes.  Jeri explained to her we were there to purchase shoes because of the flood.  The greeter apologized and pointed her in the right direction. 

By afternoon, they had cleared the obstruction to where the water was only 18 inches deep and we were able to hook up the trailer and pull it out.  I called our insurance agent about what to do next and he suggested that if we could pull it back to Oregon it would be easier to complete the claim.  My friends and I started checking the brakes and brake lights and everything worked.  I took the truck down to a lube shop and had the transmission and both differentials drained and new oil put in.  We decided to spend the night and head out the next morning.

As I pulled onto the freeway heading north on 101, I noticed a very distinct lack of power from my turbo charged diesel engine and started wondering if water had been sucked in to the turbo charger and damaged it.  I looked in the side view mirror and saw the trailer rocking side to side in slow motion.  It dawned on me that water had wicked up the side walls of the trailer, soaked the insulation in the walls and floor and now the trailer probably weighed two or three times it's original weight.  Water had dripped out of it all night, all day on our way to Reno where we spent the night, continued all the way home and for several days there after.  Insurance totaled the trailer.  

Somewhere along the way I must have angered the water gods.  This vacation will go down as being the Wet One.  After being dunked by a sneaker wave in Tasmania, suffering though two days of rain at Disney land and then 9 inches of rain in two days and a flood at Pismo Beach, it was nice to come back to dry Eastern Oregon. 

Sometimes I wonder why events like this happen in our lives.  Surely it is not just for material for the news letter.  Jeri and I had been praying about getting a new trailer.  I was all for it, but Jeri felt that ours was just fine and we really didn’t need to spend the money on another trailer.  Now that the insurance company has totaled the trailer (water level reached 16” inside the trailer) God has apparently given us His answer.  Personally I would have preferred a note on a flaming arrow saying yes or no, but scripture says “His ways are not man’s way”. 

Is God really concerned whether His children have trailers or boats or ATV’s or snow mobiles?  Does He care whether Jeri sees a Duck billed Platypus in the wild or that we catch the last bus to the botanical gardens?  You bet he cares!  Ask us about these stories and we will tell you some amazing answers to prayer.

God cares for the birds in the air and the lilies of the field and He has the hairs on our head numbered.  (Apparently He has time on his hands to plan adventures for me since he doesn’t have to count very high to keep track of my hairs).  The problem is we don’t take the little things to Him, just the big stuff, and we try to handle the rest ourselves.  Unfortunately, we begin to try and handle more and more on our own and trust him less.

As we approach this Christmas season celebrating the birth of Christ, let us each make a commitment to daily turn over to Christ our lives for Him to use as He would.  Do not be afraid to approach God with even the smallest detail of your life because He does care.  And He does answer prayer;  sometimes in the most unusual ways. 

P.S.  A month later we went up to Lewiston, Idaho, and purchased a 30 ft. fifth wheel trailer.  Unfortunately we  discovered that our current pickup was under powered for that size trailer and we ended up buying a new crew cab turbo charged diesel pick-up.  Problem solved.  

 Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him.  Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.   Mark 11:23,24.

Michael Query, Water Carrier

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Alpha Dog

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end”.  Rev. 22:13

Dateline Fallbrook, Calif.:(Feb. 2004)  As I write this we are still ministering to Jeri’s parents.  The last month has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.  We were able to get both of them home for all of 5 days before Jeri’s dad fell and ended up back in the hospital.   No broken bones but pneumonia was discovered.  Yesterday he was transferred back to the Skilled Nursing Facility where he was a month ago.  He is actually weaker now than before, so we have lost ground. 

But through all of this a positive thing has come out.  Jeri has promised never to complain about me being a picky eater.  Her parents have taken over that title.

While Jeri has been staying with her mother, Quincy, our Doberman, and I have been spending a lot of time together.  He thinks he is human and expects all the rights that go along with that distinction.  It has been a 7-year battle between us in determining who the Alpha male is in this family.  I am winning, but it hasn’t been easy. 

We started making gains when Jeri found this book about why dogs do the things they do.  It explained that there are reasons why dogs bark, always want to be in the front, first out the door, etc., etc..   Most of what he was doing was establishing his position as the Alpha male.  Our challenge then was to change that. 

First thing we did was to start feeding him after we finished our meal.  In the wild Alpha males are the first to eat, then the rest of the pack, according to the pecking order.  Therefore, we started feeding him twice a day, after breakfast and dinner rather than just put food out when ever his bowl was empty.

The second challenge was to make him stay back when we went through a door and then let him follow.  We’re still working on that one. 

The most frustrating challenge has been when he is on the leash and we want him to “heel”.   He insists on being in the lead and pulls on the leash like a Clydesdale.  I have worked with him to the point of shortening the leash, stepping on his feet, turning into him, jerking him around, all to no avail.  He is determined to be the point guard, no matter how painful it is.

Over time, Quincy has become fairly obedient.  When we go on our morning walks on the golf course, he is kept on the leash until we reach the golf course and then he is free to run.  He has earned that privilege over time as he has become more reliable in responding to my whistle or call.  He runs out about 75 yards in front, checking everything out, runs back to check on me, checks behind to make sure nothing has sneaked up behind me, and then runs out in front again to start the routine over again.  I walk two or three miles, he runs five or six.

His one weakness is cats: He hates cats, loves to chase them and totally ignores me when I try to call him off of a chase.   Therefore, when I do get him back in control, he is returned to the leash for the remainder of our walk, much to his chagrin.

Overall, I think he understands who the head of this household is (it is not Quincy) but I also believe that he tolerates the situation only because I control the food and take him for long walks on the golf course, which he dearly loves. 

It is interesting how Quincy’s and my relationship parallels a Christian’s relationship with God.  I look back at my younger days and much of what I was doing with God was trying to establish myself as the Alpha male.  I didn’t realize it at the time but I was reluctant to give up control of my life to God.  I was praying for guidance but was really asking God to pave the way that I wanted.  Once I was able to give complete control to Him, asking only that God would direct my life in the direction that would be best for me and within his will, then I finally found peace. 

Who better to guide and direct my life than the one who created me and knows intimately what my gifts, talents and abilities are.  What on earth ever processed me to think that I knew what career I would be suited for?  God is not there to assist us in accomplishing our every wish and desire; we are here to worship Him and accomplish His agenda. 

God is the Alpha and the Omega.  It starts and ends with Him.  The sooner we learn to accept that fact, the sooner God will be able to use us in accomplishing His will.  The key to all of this is obedience.  As we become more obedient and trustworthy, our desires will more closely be aligned with God’s will.  And then peace will follow.      

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Three Ring Circus

When I was a kid living outside of Wilmington, Delaware, Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey would bring their three ring circus into town just about every year.  The first time I remember their coming Mom and Dad took me and my sister to the field where they were getting ready to set up.  We arrived early to see the train arrive and the unloading of the elephants first so they could be used to set up the big circus tent.  It was quite the show watching the elephants raise the main support poles and then the massive tent itself. 

Two days later we went to see the whole shebang all set up and running like clockwork.  It was amazing to see all the wild animals, the freak shows, and the circus acts with clowns galore, trapeze acts, ladies riding white horses around the rings doing all kinds gymnastic moves, something going on in each of the three rings and sometimes in between.  It was hard to keep up with everything going on. 

About three weeks ago I started out  on a journey that resembled a three ring circus.  Sunday, August 23rd I started to feel nauseous and it proceeded to bother me the whole week.  On Friday we went to our Life Group (similar to a care group, home bible study) despite how I felt.  By the time it was over, I was regretting going.  I told Jeri I was ready to go home, I was feeling sicker and was starting to have stomach pain.  After arriving home, it was getting worse and I figured something I ate at dinner was not agreeing with me; i.e. the flaming hot cheetos that I had with my hamburger for dinner.  I drank a glass of warm salt water and got all of that mess out of my system.   I then proceeded to have the shakes where I could not pick any thing up, or drink anything because my body was shaking so bad.  Temperature started at 101.6 and over the next hour went to 103.6, at which point I told Jeri we need to go to the ER because I wasn’t sure what my white blood cell count was. 

So at 11 pm at night I am banging on my neighbors door asking him to drive us to Waimea since Jeri has difficulty driving at night.  Ken never hesitated in graciously agreeing to drive us and so we head for the Waimea hospital arriving right around midnight.  For some reason I cannot do these things during daylight hours in the middle to the week.  It is always late at night on the weekend.  

It also dawns on me that I am supposed to have the Camaro in Hilo that day to have the ignition switch replace under a recall program.  This is the third time I have scheduled it and twice before I had to cancel it because of extenuating circumstances, and now I have to cancel it again.  New appointment is now the 1st of October. 
Saturday morning they admit me an did a CT scan, an Ultra-sound – I guess to make sure I wasn’t pregnant – and then later that afternoon they did an MRI.  Insurance company is going to love them.   Bottom line is they found a gallstone blocking the bile duct between the gallbladder and the small intestine, and it was causing an infection which elevated my temperature.  They also discovered more stones in the gallbladder.  Sunday afternoon they did and endoscopy procedure where they run this scope down your throat into your stomach, through the duodenum, into the small intestine and find the bile duct, then up the duct to grab hold of the stone, and drag it out.  Afterwards the doctor says to me “You know, if you don’t have that gallbladder removed, you are just going to continue to have problems.”  Took me all of about two seconds to say let’s get rid of it.  The doctor said he does not do surgery but a Dr. Howard Wong would be doing it and he would see me Monday morning.  Yeah, right!!  Been down that road a few times.  

By Monday at 11 we have not seen hide nor hair of this Dr. Wong, nurses know nothing except that he is in surgery and will come by when he can.  As you all know, I am not a patient person, I have been restricted to nothing by mouth, only saline and anti-biotics, and I am tired of the hospital and especially the bed.

The bed is some new fangled thing that has a tubular air mattress that inflates and deflates starting at your head and working down to your feet.  24/7!  Just about the time you get into a comfortable position, the mattress starts moving in different areas making you uncomfortable.  If you happen to be asleep, it wakes you up.  If you are awake, the motor runs constantly and impedes you going to sleep.  I ask the nurses if they can shut it off and they reply there is a three hour sleep mode but nobody knows how.  Finally someone finds the instructions and puts it on sleep mode, only to have it start up in two hours, not three.  I know why it is only 2 or 3 hours, because every three hours someone is in the room taking vitals, checking blood sugar, drawing blood, etc., etc.   So about two in the morning I have had it with the bed and I unplug it.  Big mistake.  I get all comfortable, go right to sleep and wake up two hours later to a completely deflated mattress.  I am laying on the frame of the bed, the edge of the bed is now 4 or 5 inches higher than before, I have to pee and I can barely get out of the bed.  I ring the nurse, she gets the bed plugged back in, gets me back in bed and I go right to sleep.  

Back to Monday.   The reason I was so upset is that nobody was telling me if I was going to have surgery or when that might happened.  I explained to the nurse that if it was not going to happen on Tuesday, then I wanted to go home until they could make up their minds.  I was not going to spend three or four days on nothing but saline and anti-biotics waiting for surgery.  Been there, done that and it is not fun.

Finally -----  at 5:30 pm the mysterious Dr. Wong shows up at my room.  He apologizes for the delay, explains he had two emergency surgeries’ come in and so everything was backed up.   We talk about what is entailed for the gallbladder removal and he has it scheduled for Tuesday between 2 and 3 pm.  I’m thinking “yeah, I’ve heard that before” but I am just happy to have it scheduled.  

So Tuesday at 2 nobody has shown up to take me to surgery, nor at 3, or even at 4, and not at 5.  I am not a happy camper, nurses tell me he is still in surgery, nothing is happening.  Finally at 5:30 they show up to wheel me into the pre-surgery room.  They tell me this is just a 45 to 60 minute procedure barring complications.  Three hours later they are wheeling me back into the room after two hours of surgery.  Seems it took them 30 minutes to find the gallbladder because of all the scar tissue left behind by the lymphoma cancer in that area.  But, I had very little pain, only hurt when I tried to move or get out of bed or, God forbid, I sneezed.  Those were killers.  They kept me until Thursday afternoon because of the drain tube I had. 

So begins the second ring of the three ring circus.  We have had three hurricanes in the area at the same time, an event that has never happened before.  One went south of us, the other two went north.  No wind, but a ton of rain like the west side of the island has never seen before.  The hurricanes spun off clouds of moisture and when they hit the cool air of the mountains, it is released in buckets.  Monsoon type rain, 1 to 3 inches per hour.  Halfway home we run into this cloud burst where the windshield wipers can’t keep up and there is water running across the roads.  Suddenly the car starts shaking like maybe we have a flat tire.  Terri, our neighbor pulls over but the shaking continues.  We determine that something has gone amiss with the engine, it is pouring down rain outside so we make the decision to nurse it home and worry about it the next day.  

Friday I call Mercedes Benz asking where do I take it to have it worked on since it is still under warranty.  They have me call the Big Island Honda dealer and they tell me that they have a Mercedes service technician fly over from Honolulu once or twice a month to do warranty work, September is already booked and it will be sometime in October, depending on the technician’s schedule, yet to be determined.  I sort of “politely” explain that is totally unacceptable,  outrageous, and I cannot be without that car for over a month or more.  I have family arriving on the 29th of September and I cannot pick them up in the Camaro.   They reply “sorry, that’s the way it is.”  I call Mercedes back and ask that surely there is somebody on the Big Island that they can authorize to work on my Mercedes since I see adds in the newspaper that at least 4 shops claim to work on Mercedes’.   Their reply is they are not qualified to do warranty work.  

I then call my last resort, my son Chuck who just happens to work for Mercedes Benz.  I catch him on the way to the Atlanta airport for his flight home, he doubts he can get a hold of any one this late in the day, so he will try Monday.  Oh, except Monday is Labor Day so it will be Tuesday.  So I proceed to stew over this all day Saturday and most of Sunday.  Never does any good but it keeps me busy.  

Suddenly I get an inspiration!  I go out to the car, lay my hands on it and pray “Lord, Lord, you are the great physician, the healer of all things, HEAL this car!!”  I stick the key into the ignition switch, turn it on and it starts right up and runs like a Swiss watch.  Actually the only thing wrong with the car was it got water up in the engine compartment and into the ignition system somewhere and shorted out one of the cylinders.  After we parked it in the carport the heat of the engine dried everything out.  It would have started Friday if I had just thought of it.   I have not had that happen since I quit driving cars built in the 50’s and 60’s.
And now Ladies and Gentlemen, I direct your attention the third ring under the big top!  I have had it with problems and decide that the week end is going to be spent watching football.  I can’t do anything else, I am restricted from lifting anything.  More on that later.

So I can only record two programs at the same time with my living room programmer, but with the bed room unit I can record up to six at a time.  So I proceed to try and do that only the stupid thing won’t let me.  I call direct TV and they check the system and tell me that the control box is defective and they will have to send me a new one.  And since Monday is a holiday, it won’t ship until Tuesday.  Isn’t that special! 

Jeri and I decide that we need to go to Costco since it will be closed both Sunday and Monday because of the ----HOLIDAY!  One of the items that we need is a case of diet Pepsi which has 36 cans in it and too heavy for Jeri to lift,  and I don’t dare for fear of popping something inside.  So I hail a fellow patron and ask him to put the case in our cart and in the spirit of aloha, he says no problem.  We get out to the parking lot and we are faced with the same problem of getting the Pepsi's out of the cart and into the trunk of the car.  I turn around and start looking for someone and down the parking lot comes this homeless looking guy on a bicycle.  I hail him down and he turns around and cheerfully transfers the case from the cart to the car.  I offer him money, he refuses, I thank him profusely, he gives me a big smile and rides off into the sunset.  Of course the same problem is facing us at home. When we arrive, Ken is standing in our shared driveway, I pop the trunk, look over at him, he gives me this big grin and asks “Need me to lift something?”  Problem solved.  What a blessing to have great neighbors!!

There were a couple of other bizarre things that happened but for the life of I cannot remember what they were.  Which is probably good because this has rambled on way longer than I intended.  The gist of all of this is that God provide some great friends who visited and brought Jeri to the hospital or took her home, and then came and took me home when I was released.   I was treated well in the Waimea hospital and Dr. Wong is a wonderful surgeon.  And he is overworked.  

Golf has again been put on hold for at least another week or so.  I have been putting and will start chipping later on this week, with the goal of being back into a full swing by the end of September when my bother-in-law Tom shows up.  Otherwise I feel great, except when I sneeze.  Not a good thing.         


Monday, August 10, 2015

Fish Story

I have to start this off with a disclaimer:  I am not a fisherman.  My folks were avid fishing people and my sister and brother-in-law loved fishing.  In fact, my brother-in-law, Dick, owned a tackle shop and built beautiful fishing rods.  I, on the other hand, enjoyed catching and eating fish, just did not like cleaning them and did not have the patience to dangle a piece of bait over the side of a boat in the hot sun waiting for some dumb fish to bite.  So I took up golf where I could take a club and hit the dickens out of a ball and release a lot of pent up frustration.

Last month my friend Dennis, who use to live here in Hawaii, e-mailed me that he and his wife were coming back for a visit and he was setting up a fishing trip and wanted to know if I was interested.  Now you have to realize that I have almost terminal motion sickness, had car sickness when I was a kid, was air sick a lot of the time when I was in the Air Force, have been deep sea fishing less than a handful of times and until two years ago, had been sea sick every stinking time.  For me, going out on the ocean in a boat was not a fun time.
Churning water across the deep blue pacific.

Two years ago Dennis talked me into going on a Marlin fishing trip.  The Kona Coast is prime marlin fishing grounds where people pay big bucks to catch trophy size fish, like a 1,000 lbs and better.  It is truly an exciting thing to see a marlin of any size tail dancing across the water after being hooked.  I decided that it was worth a ralphing session to experience something that I had never done before.  Turns out that I was fortunate to catch and release a 175 lb. marlin on my first time out.  A combination of calm seas and lots of Dramamine took care of any sea sickness.

Now Dennis was asking me to risk a second trip to maybe, or not, catch a fish and I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I committed to the trip.  Two days before the trip, Dennis calls me and says we will be meeting at the harbor at 5:45 a.m.   Say What!!!  Really???  Fish don't bite at 10 or 11?  Seriously something is not right there!  Anyway, on the appointed night before, I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. and asking myself what was I thinking. 

I arrive the next morning at 5:45 and Dennis shows up somewhere around 6:10 or 6:15.  The boat and Captain  was already there and he and his grandson where futzing with something in the engine compartment.  They finally got the boat in the water and we were out of the harbor a little after 7.  The sun finally got up over Mauna Kea, 13,796 ft, sometime after 8.  This was a treat because we rarely see a sunrise on our side of the mountain.

Official weight 178.2 lbs. 
After three hours of churning up the water, we finally get an Ahi (Yellow fin tuna) to take the lure.  It proceeds to strip off line at an alarming rate and by the time they get me into the chair with the rod, somewhere around 1600 feet of line is gone and less than 200 ft. is left, less than 100 ft. by the time we got it slowed down.  Then began the arduous  task of reeling him/her in, a foot or two at a time.  It took 35 minutes to get it up and along side of the
boat where they could gaff it.  It took another 20 or so minutes to get it up over the side and into the boat.  Late in the battle Kenny asked me several times how I was doing because he was aware of my medical history and age.  I kept saying I was fine and he finally said "if you need help, say so, I don't want to have to  
resuscitate you."  I replied that cancer couldn't kill me, neither was this dude.  I will tell you that it was a battle of wills and I just barely won.  I could hardly walk when it was over.

About an hour later we had a nice marlin strike but lost him after 10 or 12 seconds when he threw the hook.  Still it was exciting to see him tail dance across the water.  Quite a show.  We then proceeded to churn the water another three hours with only a couple of strikes to show for it, no hook-ups.

I took two Dramamine that morning and did not eat a thing all day and never got sea sick.  There was a fair amount of pitching and rolling that 30 years ago would have sent me leaning over the side of the boat chumming fish.  That was truly an answer to prayer.

The purpose of this story is not to brag about a big fish catch, others have caught bigger fish than this.  For me this was a gift from God, something I hadn't even asked him for, something I didn't ever expect.  Yet it has made me a celebrity in church and even got my name published in the newspaper for the second time under "Notable Catches".   It was an exciting hour out of a eight hour boat ride that I will remember always.  As always, God gets the glory because  as God knows, I know nothing about deep sea fishing.

This is how God operates, giving us gifts that we don't expect.  Our job is to acknowledge where they came from and share with others so they might be encouraged and to be on the lookout for those gifts.  To many times we fail to see the gift that has been given in love by our heavenly Father.