Sunday, November 29, 2009


I am a football fan, High School and College football that is. I love the Oregon Ducks as any alum should and I bleed Black and White for The Vale High School Vikings as anyone who taught there for 44 years should. Yesterday the Vikings played Rainer High School in a 3A State Championship Semi-final game. The game was played in Bend, 5 hours away and I was unable to attend, but I listened to the game on the radio. Vale played very well and after falling behind early, quickly came back to lead 7 - 6 in the first quarter. They led the rest of the game, up 21-6 at half time. Rainer came back and narrowed the score, but each time Vale answered with another score. Then, the unthinkable happened, with only seconds left in the game Rainer tied the score at 28 - 28 and the game went into overtime. The Vikings scored on their possession and went ahead 35 - 28. Then it was Rainer's turn to try to score from the 25 yard line. Vale held them for 3 downs and with 4th down and 2 Rainer went for a pass play and the defense stopped the quarterback and had him in their grasp when he threw the ball. It was caught in the end zone for a touchdown and Rainer went on to score a 2 point conversion. Rainer wins and advances to the Championship game against Amity. Jubilation for Rainer, heartbreak for Vale. That's football, and that's why I love it. Kudos for both teams, great football.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Winter Travel

We went to Canyon City this past Sunday for services at St. Thomas. We woke up to blowing and drifting snow and I knew we were in for a fun ride. Going up Highway 26 on any day is an adventure since it is so lightly traveled once you get past Brogan, 25 miles northwest of Vale. The main highway is US 20 that goes to Burns and then on to Bend and Eugene. It is the main east-west highway across the center of Oregon and gets lots of traffic. US 26 goes east to west as well but is not as good a road especially in the winter. When it snows on Sunday morning it takes a while for the crews to get to 26 because 20 is the priority. Consequently, early Sunday morning trips up US 26 can be an adventure. When we left town at 8 am there was an inch or two of snow on the road and as we went along it got deeper until it was 4 to 5 inches deep. Fortunately, it wasn't too slick for the studded snow tires, but I could see that Jean was getting a little nervous. Never fear, I told her, we'll get to plowed road pretty soon. Sure enough, we met the snowplow in Cow Valley (7 miles past Brogan). From there on, the roads were ok, still snow packed but well sanded and plowed. On the way back, 3 hours later, most of the snow had melted off and the roads were great. Winter travel in Eastern Oregon can be very interesting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Water Heaters

Last night after we got home from shopping, Jean was doing the dishes when she discovered that we had no hot water. Since that is usually the signal for a flood in the guest room, I got up from my chair and went to the utility room to check. Sure enough, there was water on the floor of the utility room. On further investigation I discovered that the water came from a leak in the outflow pipe at the top of the water heater. Good news! the tank had not sprung a leak. I turned off the power to the heater and put some towels down to catch the water and went to bed. This morning I removed the leaking flex pipe and replaced it with a new one from Olson's Hardware, reset the breaker switch and turned on the power. Hot water! Huzzah! We dodged a bullet, instead of a $300+ water heater we only needed a $15 flex pipe.

I am beginning to understand better my neighbor Paul's frustration as he neared his last days. He had been a handyman all his life and near the end he was unable to do those simple repair jobs. The cost of hiring the job done is exorbitant and the loss of the ability to do it had to be painful. I found it harder to do this job because I have trouble holding on to the wrenches. When you have no feeling in your hands it's difficult to tell when you have a good grip on the tool and if it is aligned correctly. Had I been unable to do this job we would have been without hot water for at least a day or more. Getting a plumber to come to Vale is no easy task in itself and they charge $60/hr for travel time and there's no telling what the charge for the repair would have been. Thanks be to God that I can still do the fixing around here.