Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Fishing Itch Gets Scratched

Oooooh, aaaaaaahh. Does it feel good to scratch the itch – the fishing itch, that is.

Very early this morning I went to nearby (20 miles away) Wildcat Lake, where it was rumored the trout are still plentiful and the water is still nice and cool. Above are a couple of boaters lazily trolling past my shoreline fishing spot.

The lake didn’t disappoint, as my line started twitching within seconds of getting it in the water. At first, it was just small planters nibbling on the glob of power bait, but I soon had two nice, foot-long rainbows in the creel.

It’s a picturesque body of water, as you can see in the second photo as well.

Unfortunately, I had to stop fishing before I wanted to, as the fish were swallowing the bait, and it was impossible to release them without harm. So… leave ‘em there for the next guy if you can’t eat ‘em. That’s a good motto to follow.

The good fishing experience this morning could lead to another shot there on Saturday with my son, Doug. Hope the warming weather trend won’t kill the action.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This ‘n’ That

My middle school granddaughter, Talli, is back at her Oregon home following an incredible 10 days in Japan.

She rode the Bullet Train to Hiroshima, ate all kinds of ethnic foods, went to school with her counterpart host and saw some famous Japanese historical sites. I’ll post some photos in the future as they might become available.


I didn’t get my one-person pontoon boat as yet. As nice as it would be to have one, I’m giving the whole idea some closer scrutiny before “jumping into" something. I’m just not sure, having a boat already, that I’ll use it enough to warrant the cost.


On the other hand, I’ve really got the fishing “bug.” There’s a good chance my trout line is gonna be in the water by tomorrow sometime, if not later today. I got my yard work done yesterday, so now I’m “free” for a short time to enjoy some piscatorial delights.


Our summer schedule is rapidly becoming so full it’s laughable. Kay Lynne and I each have individual trips planned to the Midwest, plus we’ll visit California together at least two or three times for different occasions. We’ve both got routine responsibilities at church, plus we have friends coming at different times from different places.


I guess I need to prioritize things. Otherwise, when am I gonna have enough time to fish?

Monday, May 28, 2007

You CAN Live Twice

My seventh grade granddaughter, Talli, is returning home from Japan sometime after noon today. She left the Asian Island at three in the afternoon today.


She’ll literally get home "before she left". By midnight tonight she’ll have had a 44-hour Monday. I’d call that living twice.

The reason, of course, is that when flying east across the international date line, you gain back the day you “lost” when flying in the other direction.

This raises all kinds of interesting questions: Where did the day go when she lost it 10 days ago? And, how can you make a day stretch to 44 hours? Is time relative? What is actually happening when time is “passing”?

I could probably give semi-plausible answers to those questions if I were pressed. But today is a holiday, and my mind is more on fishing – er, that is, on getting a small pontoon boat so I can fish with my sons and relatives when they dangle lines from a “float tube”.

I won’t be able to really focus on the pontoon boat, however, until I’ve heard for sure that Talli is home safely.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Will Our Buddy Re-Discover the God He’s Now Not Sure Is There?

The last few blog posts have been about four of us Baggars who spent this past Monday together enjoying “old times” in the San Francisco Bay Area and attending a Giants game in the evening.

Left to right, above, are moi, Dwight Klassen, Ralph Higgins and Joe Medal.

In the comments section of the previous post, Ralph mentioned that during our time together we had talked about “deism, agnosticism, Christianity, and other topics.”

It was only natural.

We were all raised in “Christian” homes, our parents albeit on the “fundamentalist” side of evangelicalism. Plus, we became friends in a church group in San Jose, California in the late 1950’s and, in spite of a lot of questioning and exploration, for the most part endorsed our spiritual heritage – with some reservations, of course.

In fact, on a church outreach event, Joe once preached a sermon in a fundamentalist Walnut Creek church that had many of their members buzzing with fervent praise.

But in the ensuing years, we all went in separate directions with regard to our personal faith. Dwight, Ralph and I remained within the Christian confines, while Joe philosophically has struggled with his emergent, perceived “inconsistencies” of faith and deity.

He now considers himself an agnostic. To his credit, he doesn’t take the intellectually untenable position of an atheist. You’d have to be omniscient to make that assertion.

At one point in our talks I mentioned to Joe how meaningful my relatively recent involvement in the Lutheran Church had become. I tried to explain that in mainline Lutheran theology I’ve sort of been able to trace my spiritual heritage – my religious “roots”, if you will. He had no problem with that at all.

The three of us then pressed him a bit to indicate where his search for reality and meaning had led him. He responded very honestly.

“All I can tell you for sure,” he said, “is that I can’t be sure of anything.” “God can’t be proven – or disproven, for that matter – and that is why I’m ambiguous,” he intoned.

“I just can’t make the giant leap of faith,” he lamented, referring to theologian Immanuel Kant’s famous commentary. His integrity has not tarnished.

We left the discussion there, due either to other pressing things or to a need to catch a ferry. I hope we get to continue the dialog sometime soon.

In our younger days, Joe in many ways was an anchor in our group. I think he may be the strongest human being, pound for pound, of any I’ve ever met. When younger, he could "punish" his body more than anyone I’ve ever known.

He was a champion wrestler and a talented catcher in baseball. One day he caught three games, back-to-back and was none the worse for wear.

Another time, to win a short term weight loss contest with a friend, Joe ate nothing – no food, no water – for three days before the “weigh-in.” He won the event by drinking vinegar hours before the end to further dehydrate his body.

After his winning weigh-in, we all went to San Francisco for a seven-course meal. His opponent in the contest could eat nothing and nearly lost it all watching the ensuing developments. Joe ate everything offered. With no ill-effects.

One Thanksgiving, Joe ate a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings and then downed FIVE whole pumpkin pies. Again, with no ill-effects.

He was a superman.

Now, however, in later life, he’s dealing with a potentially life-threatening physical ailment. You’d never know it looking at him. He puts on a steely, strong front, as always.

“I probably should be dead,” Joe admitted to me on the way to the airport for my flight home, “but for some new, experimental medication I’m taking.” Apparently it’s working so far.

As I got out of the car at the departure gate, we gave each other a big bear hug (that’s about the only thing “real men” can do to show affection). I noticed a bit of involuntary mist in my eyes.

“Well, old buddy,” I told him, “I’m going to pray to the God you’re not sure of, with the expectation he’ll give you strength for the journey.”

He broke into a big smile, said nothing, got into his car, and drove off.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More On the Day in the San Francisco Bay Area

Four of us old college-buddy fuddyduddies enjoyed a relaxing day together Monday in the Bay Area. We didn’t have our wives with us to “direct our itinerary,” so several interesting incidents occurred.

It took us almost a half hour to find the right parking building near the ferry terminal in Oakland. Then, we had to ask three different people before we figured out how to get on the right streetcar from the Ferry Building in S.F. to AT&T Park.

We also lost our parking validation, but then finally found it again. We (I) had trouble with the automated ticket dispenser at AT&T Park Will Call. And on the way home we couldn’t decide the best driving route from Jack London Square to the 580 freeway.

Where were you, Gayle, when we needed you?

In the previous two posts I’ve described in general why we got together in the Bay Area. In this one I’ll add a little meat to the bones.

Dwight, Ralph and Joe picked me up at the Oakland airport from which we headed directly for the Oakland ferry terminal in Jack London Square. As an aside, Gertrude Stein would be happy to know that Oakland, finally, may be creating a “there” there, based on the incredible construction activity we saw going on.

After the aforementioned parking boggle, we shot across the Bay in the high-speed catamaran ferry boat and arrived at the Ferry Building in S.F. in only 15 minutes. After standing on the pier looking rather like pathetic old men, someone spotted a restaurant (a major “port in a storm” for this group) where we decided to have a late lunch.

The photo is of the four of us at Sinbad’s, a popular dockside Embarcadero eatery. Left to right are Ralph Higgins, Joe Medal, Dwight Klassen and myself.

We spent at least an hour shooting the breeze in the picturesque setting and got caught up on what’s been going on with all of our families. For a while, Joe talked seemingly incessantly, relating story after story, and we soaked it in because we’ve seen him the least in the past few years.

After “chowing down” (Joe’s terminology), we then impersonated confused, slow-walking old duffers as we plodded "a quarter of a mile" (had to be at least a half mile) to the Embarcadero streetcar stop where we began the mile-and-a-half trolley ride to the Park.

In one way, it was great to be a senior. The ferry ride cost each of us only $3 each way (instead of $7), and the streetcar ride cost only 50 cents (instead of a buck and a half regular fare). The streetcar ticket noted that only seniors or handicapped get the cheap fare. We probably qualified as both.

Plus, the ferry ticket also included free parking in Oakland for the day while using the ferry. If we had driven to S.F it would have cost $10 in gas plus $30 parking near the Park. So we saved at least $40 with the boat.

Originally, I thought the reason for using the ferry was the Bay Bridge freeway intersection crash and burn about a month ago that has created driving havoc at the Oakland end. However, I later figured out that Dwight, who was driving, made the decision to take the boat. We don’t call him “Save-A-Buck” for nothing!

As I mentioned in the last post, the Giants ballgame in the evening was our highlight and was as good a game as you can see if you’re a Giants fan. And of course, as is Baggar custom, after we got back to Dwight’s place in Discovery Bay long after midnight, we had to sit around, chew and digest the day, and do something we hadn’t done for at least an hour – eat some more.

And, surprisingly, no shenanigans occurred on the outing. Truth is, we had enough trouble just getting ourselves from place to place; there was little chance of causing anything more.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

24 Jam-Packed Hours

Yesterday was one of those times when you wish you could slow time down and play it at a slower speed.

I was in San Francisco for the day primarily to attend last night’s SF Giants game – which they won with a shutout against the Houston Astros – with three of the Baggars, or, roommates from college days so long ago.

Top photo shows the four of us in front of the Willie Mays statue in Mays Plaza at the main entrance to AT&T Park. Left to right are yours truly, Dwight Klassen, Ralph Higgins and Joe Medal. You’re looking at a combined 200 years of friendship.

The game was an outstanding game, as baseball games go – great pitching with just enough timely hits hits to insure the victory.

Above is what it looked like from our seats at the Park shortly after the game began. It was a picture-perfect night. The fog even rolled in over the top of the stands right on cue about 9 pm. Click on the photos, BTW, if you want a larger image. More tomorrow on some of the other events of the day.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Day in the Golden State

Tomorrow evening I’ll be attending a San Francisco Giants baseball game with three of my college roommates. Somehow, we’ve managed to stay close friends for almost 50 years.

When the four of us get together by ourselves like this (sans sane wives), you never quite know what’s going to happen.

We’re going to take the ferry from Oakland across the Bay to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. From there we’ll grab a bus down the Embarcadero to AT&T Park. The after-game ferry, which docks at the park’s water front, will bring us home.

In the old days, a lot could happen – and usually did – on outings like this. Of course now that we’re so much older and more mature, it’ll just be a routine day. Right. At any rate, I’m looking forward to it, but I’ll only be in the Bay Area for about 24 hours.

On another note, my granddaughter Talli reports that she is having an incredibly good time in Japan. Already she’s tasted ethnic foods and been to school with her Asian counter-part. She found out that her name (in Japanese characters) roughly translates to “many beautiful colors.” Not a coincidence, if you know Talli. We’re thrilled that she’s gaining so much from her journey.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Off To Japan

My seventh-grade granddaughter Talli is due to land in Osaka Japan in about 10 minutes. She's spending 10 days or so there in an exchange student program. Click here for my son's description of her send-off in the wee hours this morning.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Dilemma?

One of my California crony-buddies (initials EW), who I assume reads these posts occasionally, had an interesting thought regarding my last post.

“Maybe the reason you don’t have time to get your boat ready for the water,” he lampooningly suggested in a phone conversation, “is that you spend so much time blogging.”


Monday, May 14, 2007

I’m Not Ready Yet For Warm Weather

This week, all of a sudden, we’re getting warm, summerish (for the northwest) weather. And I’m realizing I’m not ready yet to be able to enjoy it.

The boat sits, as it did all winter, at the end of our driveway, waiting for some loving care and attention.

Shrubbery is overgrown from the sunshine after a long, wet winter. Additionally, some trees need trimming and weeds need to be whacked.

I feel overwhelmed. (Well, at least I’m trying to let my sensitive side express itself.)

Part of the reason is that not only have we been very busy of late, but also we’ve been traveling, as you can tell from recent posts. I guess now it’s time to face reality and get off the dime.

The vibes are telling me that the fish are hungry and waiting.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

If You Haven’t Seen SPEED STACKING, You Soon Will

Hayley, our 10-year-old granddaughter, yesterday introduced us to “speed stacking” – a new activity craze where you stack and unstack plastic “cups” in a precise manner and in specified formations. It is "guaranteed" to improve your ambidexterity, hand-eye coordination and concentration.

You almost have to see it to believe it, so click here to view the Speed Stacking web site video clip page. Once there click on any or all of 14 sample movie shorts to get the vision. Start on the second one down on the left for a quick peek.

Hayley has the ultimate maneuver, The Cycle, down to about 20 seconds. The world record, by-the-way, for this feat is an unbelievable 7.43 seconds.

I can just imagine some bored Burger King workers starting this craze with plastic drink cups when they had nothing to do.

Speed Stacking is now officially a sport with its own governing body, the World Sport Stacking Association (WSSA). The WSSA championships were seen on ESPN-TV this past April 14.

O yes, we bought the game at Target; it's in a store near you. It takes me well over a minute to do what my granddaughter can do in 20 seconds. But I will improve.

P.S. For us retired seniors, this is a FABULOUS way to keep the mind sharper and the dexterity at least operational. Maybe we oughta get our own championships going.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Double Winner!

That’s our 7th grade granddaughter Talli, in the lead above left, with a late kick yesterday approaching the finish line in the 800 meter run. She won the race in her best time ever. You can click on the photo for a larger image.

She can now run a mile faster than I ever ran one all through high school – or college, for that matter. Who says kids today aren’t in shape?!

What’s mind-boggling to me is that about an hour before the 800-meter run, she won the 7th grade 1500-meter run, also making her best time ever in that distance. You go, girl!

We made the two-day trip to Oregon and McMinnville high school to primarily watch Talli compete in probably her final Middle School Track Meet this school year before leaving for Japan late next week. She’s spending 10 days in the Kyoto area on a student exchange program.

Along with her parents, we’re very excited for her to have this wonderful opportunity. She’ll be living with a Japanese family while there who has a same-age daughter in school. Talli will attend school there with her host friend and participate in a lot of learning activities. More on her trip later when she returns.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Last Stop in the Midwest

A week ago today we culminated our trip to the Midwest with a late afternoon stop in a northwest Chicago burb to pay a visit to my only remaining aunt and uncle, my dad’s sister Gloria, her husband Bob, and my cousins.

From left in the photo is cousin Rob, my second cousin Tina (carrying another Bears fan who’s due in July), cousin Larry (Tina’s dad), uncle Bob, aunt Gloria (sitting), cousin Dave, and Terry (sitting) Dave’s wife.

We were thrilled to be able to be together with the Brooks family for a (Chicago style) pizza fest. As usual, Gloria had enough pizza and other goodies to feed an army battalion; I’m sure they’re still enjoying left-overs.

Gloria and Bob first introduced me to black and white television back in the late 40’s and very early 50’s, as they were the first in our extended family to have a TV set. My mom and dad and I would go to their house almost weekly so I could watch The Lone Ranger round up bad guys and shoot guns out of killers' hands with silver bullets.

Fittingly, they gave me a Lone Ranger DVD to bring home and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Today Is One of Those Incredible Northwest Days

When it’s nice here in the northwest, it’s really nice!

I had to go to the Norwegian town of Poulsbo earlier today to run some errands, and it’s a good thing I had my camera along.

Photo above is of Liberty Bay and the Poulsbo marina breakwater. Click on the photo for a larger image. Across the Bay you can see the snow-capped Olympic mountains keeping watch on our beautiful area.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Birthday Cake at Kate’s Place

We ended up at our niece Kate’s new downtown Chicago condo a week ago last night to enjoy some of Danielle’s delicious home-made birthday cake in celebration of Kay Lynne’s and Rick’s back-to-back birthdays.

As you can see in the photo, there wasn’t room on the cake for all the candles, so we used sparklers to create an equivalent light. In this shot it was Rick receiving the Happy Birthday song. In case you’re wondering how they could have birthdays on consecutive days, they are three years apart.

We enjoyed a wonderful tour of Kate’s condo as part of the festivities. In addition to being on the top (3rd) floor with a roof patio, her home has two neat bedrooms, two full baths, and a kitchen, eating area and large living room. The high ceilings make it especially spacious.

Photo at left is Kate with her year-old Yorkie, “Tahoe”. “Wrigley,” the cat, did not want to be photographed.

The last photo is of Kate (with Tahoe), Danielle and Rick, taken on the roof patio (that I thought was so cool).

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Chicago – It’s My Hometown

A week ago today we were in downtown Chicago spending the day with Kay Lynne’s brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Danielle Keethler, and their daughter Kate.

In the morning we went to Kate’s church, historic Fourth Presbyterian Church, located on the famous North Michigan Avenue “Magnificent Mile”. It was an awe-inspiring worship experience.

Following lunch, we caught a matinee performance of the Broadway show Wicked at a downtown theater. In the evening we enjoyed a wonderful dinner in Lincoln Park, and then we paid a visit to Kate’s newly-purchased third-story condo, south of Wrigleyville.

The photo above shows the gorgeous view at dusk from her rooftop patio, looking east toward the skyline. Tallest building, of course, is the famous Sears tower, rising higher than any building in the western hemisphere.

I may have another post or two on the above activities in the days ahead, but for now I wanted to post the beautiful view from Kate’s place. At her young age, she’s made a very savvy real estate acquisition.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Adieu to Sturgeon Bay

As I left Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin last Saturday morning to head back to Chicago with my gratuitous fishload, I took one final photo of the Bay itself.

This view looks northwest through the main part of Sturgeon Bay and toward the Green Bay in the far distance to the right. The city of Green Bay is actually about 40 miles to the southwest of this position, at the foot of the Green Bay.

In a bit, we’re off to the big city for a connect with a cousin (Marilyn) on my mom's side that we haven’t seen in over 40 years. Then early this evening we’ll have dinner with our son Doug and his wife Jamie, in acknowledgement of Kay Lynne’s birthday which occurred while we were gone to the midwest. (At our age we don't "celebrate"; we simply acknowledge :-).

O yeah, today is the opening of the boating season in the northwest. We should see some beauties from the ferry and from the waterfront.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Door County Wisconsin – An Incredible Fishery

I thought the overall fishery we have here in the Pacific Northwest was about the best there is in the US of A. And it very well could be.

But I’ll also say this: the fishery on the Door County Peninsula in northeast Wisconsin is right up there. That's the Sturgeon Bay Harbor above.

Above is the Lighthouse at the mouth of the Lake Michigan side of the Sturgeon Bay channel. I got there on Friday of last week during the peak of the Brown Trout action going on just outside the mouth on the big lake. It’s sort of obvious why the area is a haven for many varieties of fish.

The colder waters of Lake Michigan ebb and flow through the Sturgeon Bay channel and the much warmer Sturgeon Bay itself into and back from the waters of Green Bay that are just slightly warmer than the big lake. Wind-generated currents in the canal keep the water temperatures in constant flux.

At least 10 different types of piscatorial strains reside there among the varying aquatic temperatures. I was after only two: Brown Trout and Lake Trout (sometimes called Mackinaw Trout).

I caught both, as you can see in the photo. All are Browns except for the 10-pound Lake Trout second from right. On the far right is the 17-lb Brown from the previous post. The total weight of all five fish topped 40 pounds, making it an unbelievable day of fishing. I'll not soon forget it.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Genuine Fish Story

Here’s a pic of the 17-lb Brown trout I was fortunate enough to catch last Friday on Lake Michigan just east of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Click on the photo for a larger version that shows the detail on the fish. (Sorry for the sloppy shirt hanging out, but I was a bit distracted.)

Not only was it a real thrill to catch, but also it’s of trophy size. A fish of this bulk in this specie is relatively rare. It may even be worth mounting; we’ll have to see.

I hope, in the days ahead, to post several stories about the great trip we had to the Midwest, including more on the fishing excursion. Stay tuned…