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God Provides!

God provides adventure, humor, an amazing ride through life with stories told and untold, and divine providence has and will see us through.

Since I hadn’t seen my dad and mom since spring break, I figured I’d better drive over the hills the first week of July. I had things squared away that Tuesday, July 3rd, and locked the front door, but forgot one last thing.  Unlocked the door, left the keys hanging, and when I turned the key to lock up, the cylinder spun completely around (in both directions) so I wound up with the key, the lock cylinder, and several tumbler pins and springs in my palm.  Great, it’s now 11 a.m. and I still need to fuel up on the way downtown to get on I-90 Eastbound at Sherman (avoid the construction at the underpasses to increase bridge clearance for 53’ semi-trailers).  Add “replace front deadbolt” on the list to do when I get home.

At 12 p.m., I was at last on the interstate highway, and feeling good that I’d called with an ETA “before 6 p.m. (MDT).” The usual stop at St. Regis for a 16 oz. huckleberry milkshake kept me going through Frenchtown and the old Smurfit-Stone pulp mill on Mullan Road, a west side route to bypass Missoula in good weather.  Arrived about 5:30 p.m. MDT at Victor, for a light dinner and sampling of Washington cherries ($1.98/lb. at Stevensville Super 1 so must be a bumper crop this year).  Haying season is just getting started, so I checked the hydraulic fluid levels in the disc mower transmissions (It has two, one on each end of the mower bar.) and secured the plugs not quite as tight as a neighbor had reefed on them.  I didn’t injure my foot or skin knuckles while pushing on the hex wrench, for which I’m always thankful.   Hauled and stacked a bit of firewood, ran a Stihl line trimmer to clear grass and wild roses that had overgrown the rhubarb plants above the bank along Bear Creek’s #4 (irrigation) ditch, lopped off some cottonwood limbs in the way, and we hauled that forage over to Les’ two red angus cow/calf pairs and a white park heifer.  My youngest sister has been taking a break from SoCal, working at Tucker Creamery five miles away, and she drove over after work with a small bag of cheese curds, which I brought home.  The curds produced from dairy sheep are large, and as Dad observed, “They don’t squeak.”  The texture is very smooth and moist.  I should not neglect to mention my most important job on ranch visits; giving body rubs or massages and attention to their 14 year old border collie (who knows more than we do).  Watched most of my TV for the year as there were three ball games on ESPN on the Fourth…  Thursday, July 5, I pruned some of the shelter belt trees growing over the drive back even with the cattle guard, loaded up my “truck” and down the road about 2 p.m.   After stops at St. Regis (16 oz. Americano with French vanilla and a visit with the two young ladies tending the fudge, ice cream and coffee counter as I was the last of a bunch of customers with my own travel mug.  Interesting to glance at the departing customers as they wonder at this friendly visiting going on…) and Kellogg Airport’s lounge (add a K-cup worth of coffee to my mug), I arrived home at 6 p.m. PDT to take a shower, shave and clean up.  That shower was priceless the next day.

Friday morning (July 6), I was up at 4:30 a.m. (Ranch hours, I suppose) to pay attention to my Baker cat, sat down on the living room floor, and hmmm it felt different, squishy and a bit damp.  After shutting off the water supply valve and the valve to the hot water heater, I worked out with the small wet vacuum pulling up water from the HW heater closet (and drain pan, which apparently didn’t drain to the PVC pipe outlet), and about eight feet across the living room carpet and pad.  After two hours, it was 7 a.m., I was ahead and it was definitely time to make a pour-over coffee break.  Jim called about mid-morning as I was ready for another short break, so I took the little wet/dry vacuum downstairs and sucked up water from his carpet.  Fortunately the water was concentrated in the hallway, and mostly in his wheelchair ruts.  (Yeah, now I’m thinking about the Oregon Trail.  Southern Idaho was the most difficult part of that trip, since the Snake River offered few crossing points, and there’s very little water elsewhere.)  With water and power shut off to the HW heater, I opened the drain valve and vacuumed water from the pan during the afternoon, with breaks to vacuum the living room carpet and Jimmy’s hallway (one more time and a lengthy visit to discuss replacements for these 12 year-old 58-gallon hot water heaters (in a 2BR apartment?))  At 4 p.m., I drove over to Home Depot to look at smaller Rheem HW heaters, picked up the Venetian Bronze Kwikset deadbolt that I needed for the front door, glanced at the outdoor trees and shrubs (Do we really need to replace those three ornamental and inedible fruit cherry trees that blew down in the June 18 thunderstorm that I cut up and were hauled away June 20?) and returned home for a bit more vacuuming.  As much gray water as I dumped down the sink, there can’t be much ash and soot left in the carpet from last year’s fires.

Saturday was install the deadbolt day, and several more passes over the LR carpet (one at Jim’s). The new deadbolt has the 2-screw mount plate rather than the circular drive-in face, so I enjoyed the precision of carving to the proper depth and shape in the door with the joy of screwing the bolt in square and flush.  The larger 4-screw plate for the door jamb can wait for another day.    Still looking to contact the Rheem installer listed on that manufacturer’s web site, and eventually a Google search for Grizzly Plumbing of Hayden, Idaho turned up an item halfway down the search page that the business had closed.  I’ll stop by Fred’s Plumbing next week.

This week, started with my usual Sunday morning routine (pilgrimage?) to downtown: Bakery by the Lake 0645-0715 for a cinnamon roll and 16 oz. mug of coffee near the usual gang; 0715 -1230 at 1st Pres to power up all the AVL equipment, check and edit lyrics as necessary, rehearsals, audio and video checks, load scripture message (‘Save All’ on the PC, and save the changed songs to the office USB drive…), power down (in reverse order) and give Matthew a hand with moving flags, banners and signs; 1230-1400 with the lunch group at Elmers; refuel at Costco (11.53 gallons of 89UL for the 435 miles since Tuesday morning, 37.7mpg is not bad for road revisions and highway hauling ’07 Malibu); home for a post-lunch siesta.  More Good News:  the hot water heater project is done for (most of) my part as Butch from Fred’s Plumbing left me a voice message during Wednesday afternoon’s HOA board meeting.  Since neither of my telephones are working, I stopped and talked with him Thursday morning.  At noon next Friday (a week after the 13th), Larry will be here to install a new 40-gallon HW heater and remove the defunct 58-gallon unit.  Butch explained that the same factory builds units for Rheem and Ruud; the only difference is that one day Rheem decals are put on, and the next day could be Ruud.  Regulations are still changing, so residential users can no longer get 55, 85 or 105 gallon units, which are now for commercial applications.    After Thursday afternoon’s funeral service, we had a (temporary) lighting committee meeting in the gym, so I left 1st Pres about 5, with hope to visit Spectrum (phone & internet) and T-Mobile (cell phone) offices Friday (the 13th).

Good news… Warm weather dried out the carpet so Baker is no longer leaping across the living room to avoid that damp area.  It was entertaining and informative to watch him; I don’t think a pointing dog would be able to show you where the damp spots are.    The new deadbolt operates smoothly, and the key releases the same way without hanging up on any pins.  The SmartKey feature allows you to rekey the lock yourself, which is another benefit.

Next week: ‘Drone-a palooza’ at Kellogg Airport July 19; annual Lions Club breakfast St.Maries Airport July 21, R&R HW heater in between, helping the plumber from Harrison.

Charlie Branch

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