Thursday, December 28, 2017

What the heck is Kkottongnae? blog 430

Carla and I have driven by this sign many times since we made Aguanga our temporary home. Carla did said that her family camped here years ago, before this retreat had taken it over. 

A mile above the valley, finds us at the retreat.

Kkottongnae was developed in the 1970's in South Korea as a Catholic organization determined to help to search and help people that cannot help themselves. It eventually migrated to the states 10 years later. 

The first thing we find as we drove onto the parking lot (other than the stares as if to say, "who are these people") was a SUV rolling over these nuts. I assume to crack them.
I had a bit of a problem explaining that we were curious as to what is this place was, because the Asian people we were talking to, did not quite understand us.

Carla immediately recognized the buildings as the old private campground where her family camped with in their trailer back around the 70's and 80's.

We were finally steered to this nice lady who spoke bit of English. She asked if we were hungry and I quickly said no. After thinking about it I said...sure, if there is some food we'd eat. I saw no other guests anywhere, but she still went behind the counter and start dishing up some food.
Do you eat Kim Chi? Huh, no...but when in Rome, do what the Romans do.

This must have been the off season and once Kim Chi was mentioned I realized we had stumbled onto a Korean compound, of which kind, I had no idea. Lamely, I asked if it was a Buddhist retreat? Sister Jun laughed, no it was a Catholic Retreat. Well, I then got into her good graces by admitting that I too, was raised as a Catholic. 

So sister Jun served us up a delicious meal, Kim Chi, salmon, rice and beans and lastly...some kind of root. I offered to pay afterward but was refused, Sister Jun just wanted to feed us...ok, how about a donation? Yep, that was accepted..

Sister Jun and a groundskeeper showed us the dinning room. The sister noted that their priest was in his 90's and could not say mass anymore. I made a lame joke about it must be the Kim Chi that brings long life". Totally went over her head.

Here is a map of Kkottongnae retreat.

This is their chapel, which we had permission to enter.

Besides the dinning hall, a bar, a barber and a chapel, there are a few lecture rooms spread out in the little town setting.

It's a beautiful place in the desert to pray.

Time to say good-by. At least by our exploring off the grid, we found this place to be a beautiful and serene place to workout the reasons why we inhabit this wonderful blue planet.

(if I haven't explained before, I can't change the name of the blog, or I'll lose over 400 blogs, forever)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thinking of You on Your Birthday

When I got older losing my life
Many years ago now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still remember me, will you still think of me
When I'm sixty-four?

You'd been older too
And if you’d been here
I would be with you

I thought I lost all, when I lost you
When your light was gone
 Sit with me by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
Will you think of me, will you still feel me
If I’d made it to sixty-four?

Every year we could of traveled to Los Barriles
If it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Riley and K-Moon

Send me a sign, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely where you are
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still think of me, will you love me
Had I made it to sixty-four?


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fay Hill Landslide Update Blog #428

Last April, about the time we were heading home, part of the hill we live on gave way. Our trip to town went from 3 miles to nearly 9 miles. The county spent the summer trying to figure out how to fix our road and in the last few weeks, they have really started in earnest to repair the damage.

From the bottom looking up, you can see they must have acquired the land because they have started cutting trees and digging into the hillside.

This the same spot looking down the hill, but a few weeks ago.

Here near the creek bed is how far the road fell. Red line indicates road bed.

Carla is standing on the original road bed and I am photographing from above on a road they cut on the top of Fay hill. Carla thinks maybe they will split the traffic with one way going where she is and the opposite where I am standing...who knows?

I'm standing on the new road bed, near the top of Fay Hill, with marking sticks showing the boundaries of the clear cutting.

I wish I could read survey language, then I might know if this is going to be one lane or two.

The tractor above Carla is near the top and it is there that road is being split on the left, going up the hill.
It certainly won't be finished before we leave, but I sure hope it will be done when we get back.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Motorhome repair Blog #426

Well, I feel pretty good taking my electric passenger seat out of the motorhome to be recovered. Damn thing must weigh 70 or 80 lbs.

The dogs had no part in this damage, the upholstery guy says it's from bare skin and body oil. I told Carla, " no more riding naked in the coach. 😂

This is where I excel, taking things apart. (not so much the other way around)

Base plate and electronics.

Base plate attachment, swivel plate and motors add up to more pounds. At this point I was able to reattach a cable for swiveling the chair backwards, which came apart two years ago.

The new leather seat is looking good.

Not a bad match to the back of the seat. It's not like you can match 14 year old leather perfectly.
Thanks to CnT Upholstery in Kettle Falls.

In the next two weeks comes a new paint job. A common problem is that the black paint heats up and causes the clear coat to crack and peal.

Casey's in town will mask and remove all the damaged black paint and redo it. Can't wait to see how this turns out because if I had to have the whole coach painted, I'd be looking at $25 to $30 thousand. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Winery's near Colville, Wa. blog 425

A few days ago I blogged about a winery near the Canadian border called China Bend Winery which was cute, orderly and organic.
Today we visited another local organic winery near us on the Columbia River.

The Barreca Vineyard is about 20 miles south west of the house on the Columbia River. Whereas China Bend Vineyards was finely manicured, Barreca was more of a natural vineyard, something I might of developed.

Cheryl and Joe first started this vineyard because they like to drink wine 30 years ago, but when they started producing more wine than they could consume, selling it seemed to be the right answer.

Cheryl was very happy to have us sample six of their organic red wines and one Riesling, and explained how each wine came about. No tasting fee here, but if I like the grape, I always try and support local businesses.

Joe explained that oak barrels impart too much of a oak flavor into his wines and he wants the wine to taste and smell more like the grape than the oak. Each glass bottle has a hyper atmospheric device that tells Joe when the wine has stopped maturing and ready for bottling. They use no sugar in the product at all.

Joe and Cheryl are classic 70's hippies. Their "hobbit" house was Joe's design and built in the early 90's. 1400 square feet, two bedrooms and energy efficient. Cheryl said the house has 3 1/2 miles of rebar in the concrete. I believe this because she also showed us a scrapbook and one photo had a D-7 Cat bulldozer pushing dirt up on the top of the roof.

Joe explained his wonderful Marechal Foch and Lici Kulhman vines and also explained how his 40 years, he'd had made mistake after mistake, but learning something new from each failure.

While we were out on their 8-10 acre vineyard, orchard and garden area, Carla thought they could be fairly self sufficient with all the food, wine and hobbit house, I tend to agree. Cheryl was such a trip to talk to and loved showing us every plant on the grounds, I had to use the dogs at home as an excuse to hit the road.

Lightning and thunder shortened our stay anyway, but all an all, every stop showing Cherie around has also been a learning experience for me.

Besides the few bottles of wine we bought, we were sent home with some fresh Morel mushrooms that Cheryl said they got while mushrooming on Saturday. Cherie had not seen one before and Joe told his wife to give us a few for cooking. I think I saw Cheryl give Joe the stink eye, because most folks that hunt these mushrooms are very secretive and possessive about their prized shrooms.

About 5 minutes after getting home we received a pretty good hail storm. Good planning on our part and a quick 1/2 inch of rain.

Carla and Cherie recounting the days trip. I'll be sad to see Cherie go home, because Carla enjoys having her sister here so much...and so do I.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Health Care 424

Health Care 201

With all the talk about healthcare recently, for and against Obamacare, I'd like to add our story to the mix. 
During our 34 years in the casino business our healthcare was behind the curtain. I say this because we never really had to think about was always there, just waiting for us. 
Costs were minimal, co-pays small and it was capped at a $1,000,000 lifetime limit...yea, like who'd ever come close to that. In the 34 years I had my insurance, I'd had multiple broken bones, approximately 12 or 13, two severe foot operations and I had a nasty bout with cancer, but last I remember before retiring, I'd had only used $185,000 of my $1,000,000 limit. 
The insurance companies pooled all the monthly insurance payments together and provided excellent coverage, this kind of reminds me of the "single-payer" system. 

Unfortunately in our occupation, when you retire, all benefits cease, zilch, nada! I was fortunate, or depends on ones perspective, because of a service connected injury, as the VA was responible for all my medical and prescriptions, 100%. Donna on the other hand had no medical insurance and when her cobra ran out we got one of those $1,000,000 "catastrophic" policies where she pays quite a bit monthly but if something bad happened, they would pickup the costs after a $10,000 deductible. 
We felt safe with this because really "who in the hell will run up ONE MILLION DALLORS in medical costs? Did I mention we were slightly naïve?

Fast forward three years later and we find the house of our dreams in the state of Washington. Four months after becoming Washingtonians, OBAMACARE or what should be called ACA, became available in our welcoming state. 
Donna's premium went from $477 a month for catastrophic only to $145 for complete coverage, wow...we couldn't believe how lucky we were to be in such a beautiful and progressive state. 

Now the bad news. 

Two months after Donna was accepted into the ACA program she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. 
During the next 13 months, with 8 of them being in a hospital, Donna and her doctors fought to win over this frightening blood disease. Chemo for 2 months in the hospital (which failed) followed by another chemo trip for another months stay before the only option was to get a bone marrow transplant at the University of Washington near Seattle. 
The only hitch was that SCCA wanted $100,000 up front for acquiring the bone marrow from the hosts. It costs about $125,000 and the insurance would only allocate $25,000 towards this, so against Donna's wishes, I proceeded to take a first out on our house. Luckily, the doctors fought and made the insurance company pay the total cost for harvesting the marrow. 
The transplant would require Donna to stay up to 21 days max for the transplant and after more chemo and ended up being 5 months!
Donna beat the leukemia, so they say, and was sent home in a very weakened condition and only lasted 5 days, before she was flown on a medevac jet back to Seattle, only to be told there was nothing they could do. 

Why am I reliving this horror?
So you aren't fooled by any phony "HEALTH CARE PLAN" that won't protect you, your family...or your life's savings. 
Donna's total bill for the 13 months was $2,300,000...TWO MILLION THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!
Who paid this? The pool in Washington did, our share of the cost was a little less than 10%, but remember when I thought ONE MILLION was a ridiculous amount of money? Think again.

Do I want to say thank you to Mr. Obama...damn right I do, "thank you Mr Obama".

Do I want to say thank you to the thousands, if not millions who pooled there money into an insurance fund to help Donna, yes I do, "thank you". 

Donna didn't survive, even with the worlds best doctors and equipment, but thanks some thoughtful and intelligent folks in D.C., she had a chance, isn't that all we can ask for?

We are the richest country in the world, yet we are ranked 37th in the world for health care. 

The 1% hold half of the wealth in this country and because of our tax codes I can end up paying more, percentage wise, than most of the richest people do. How is this fair? A flat tax, no deductions or exemptions would solve a lot of budget problems. 

Be humble and kind

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Two years ago today.....

41 years ago, if you had looked up in the dictionary the definition of a "hot Mess"... you would of seen my face.
After having two failed marriages in the same amount of years, I had no intention of developing anymore relationships for quite a while...considering my poor record. Hell, one of the reasons for picking Chico State College was an attempt to put the past behind me.
Things went well for months, I'd go to school, work and fish on the weekends. My life revolved around those activities and not partying the nights away. One of my principle hangouts was the Denny's, in downtown, where believe it or not... a lot of ideas and soul searching went on, all the while consuming vast quantities of coffee.

 I drove through Chico with the motorhome on my way south for the winter in 2015 in an effort to recreate

some of my memories of the past. I found the Denny's, with its new name, Jack's, still with the same ambience that I remembered over three decades earlier. 

I told the manager of my "trip down memory lane" and asked to take a picture, which he graciously agreed.
The empty first seat is where I'd park my butt and read textbooks or cram for that mornings test and not once did my waitress (who also attended CSU) me way. I'm sure I had cost her a few bucks in tips by hogging my seat.
My typing skills at the time were poor and I asked my waitress if she would be willing to type some of my school reports...I'd pay for this of course, it was the least I could do for costing her money by camping on the counter.
There was a bit of flirtation going on for weeks, until I got up the nerve to ask my waitress out on a date. Unfortunately, she accepted, which actually made me more nervous.
We had a few dates before I told her my extensive history of failures, but this did not frighten her at all. She did mention it seemed like I had a many layers of walls I was hiding behind...Oh, did I mention she was a psych major?

By now I am sure you know the name of my waitress, and probably my life saving angel...Donna.
We dated for another two years before getting married in 1978. 
Donna never, ever, pushed to make me a better and more responsible person...she just led the way and I followed willingly like a puppy dog. Without me knowing it, she shaped me, like she was molding clay with the gentlest hands, into someone who could also see the good in other people, just like she could.
Who knows where I would be today without her guidance and gentle ways, I have my own ideas, but none of them turn out very well.
I believe everyone has a sponsor on earth to help them grow. Most of us rely on our parents for this job, sometimes it's a complete stranger and other times it's their soul mate who completes you as a person, as in my case. It's pretty easy to spot people that never hooked up with their sponsor, just look in prison or the poor and bewildered walking the streets.

You've heard the term "natural beauty"? Well Donna exemplified that term to a "T". Not just in looks, but she never had a bad word about anyone in the 40 years I knew her, other than maybe the man that married her mother, a guy named George, who took all the heritage that was left by her father and than mother, who died while Donna was just a teen.

To me she was just as beautiful when sick, as she was at anytime of our life together. It was an amazing testimony of willpower and so sad to watch the person you've loved completely for years, undergo such hardship and pain, yet never complain.

Even when things were not looking up for Donna, her concern was for me and my health. Because of her path...showing me how to live life, she allowed me to believe in love and to continue my life as she would of wanted me too. Donna was very concerned about my recent weight gain while being her caretaker and insisted I do something about it. She also knew and helped care for my father with me the last few years of his life and she did not want me to live without a life he did for nearly 30 years.
Dad may of been happy with that, but Donna knew it would not be good for me.
Because of her guidance, I am very open to finding someone I could go through the remainder of my life with a person that is honest, loving and open to adventure.

Life offers no guarantees but my thought is that Donna had a hand in finding Carla to join me. Carla is not threatened at all by my love of you...she encourages it and understands that people's hearts are big enough for more than one person to occupy the space.

Is this my last relationship? Time will tell but my feeling, and how I developed it in the last 41 years... believes it is.

RIP Sweetheart.