Shamrock Rundown

Yay! It is Shamrock Run Day! Up early and getting ready. I started this annual tradition in 2012. I started because of BreAnna. The race benefits Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. I joined a team from the hospital originally that first year and last year. This year I discovered that there was a team where I work, Portland Community College! So I joined Team PCC.

That first year, I ran the 5K. It was the first race I ran since high school track. It was exhilarating. The Run is held on the waterfront in downtown Portland with a field of 35,000. It is the second largest race on the west coast.

Everyone puts on green and shows up for what I’d describe as a huge welcome to spring. There is Irish music, food, beer… A wonderful way to bid farewell to Oregon winter.

Last year I ran the 8K. Fun time again! Ran into several people I knew and hadn’t seen in a while. Folks I knew from work and from our children’s grade school days (other parents). I told myself I would take the next step for this year and signed up for the 15K. So I did.

Got up early for the 7:40 am start to the 15K. Got thumbs up and smiles from many with my amazing thrift shop find a couple of weeks back:



Yep. Leprechaun hoisting a green beer, throwing up a rainbow into a pot o’ gold!

There are fewer runners in this race, so the wait at the start line did not take long. I had concerns about the 9 plus mile distance, as my last few runs were less than stellar. But I deliberately started slow and ran the first few miles steady. The course is hilly. I had run sections of the course over the last few weeks, so I knew what to expect. The segment through downtown Portland was cool.

I did experience some unpleasantness mid race; needed to pee, but the lines were long. Did not want to break my stride too much. So I soldiered on. Climbed the hilly portion of the course. From recent runs, I knew the discomfort would only be temporary.

Got up and over and it was downhill from there. Did walk some short parts of the race but got rejuvenated when I put my earbuds in for some music to push me along. Usually don’t run to music, but with closed streets the danger of getting hit by a car while I rocked some Tool was nonexistent. It was in fact, Tool’s “46 and 2” that kicked me out of my whimpering walk to a running finish!

What a feeling! The longest race I’ve ever run in my life! Got in line to collect my prize:

Finisher’s Medal/bottle opener. Score.

My time? Not important, because I am a runner, and I ran. Today was a good day.


36 Hours

So one of my cousins was in the Northwest this past week. Cheryl, who lives in Memphis TN, was in Seattle for a writer’s conference. She ended her visit with a side trip to visit our family. She described her trip to our region as the ” trip of a lifetime.”

We met briefly during a family get together back in the early 80’s. We reconnected in recent years through (ta-da!) Facebook. My dad and her mom were brother and sister; we are first cousins. We are both middle children. We had the feeling that we would get along great; sharing some interests and a similar sense of humor.

Sunday Night At my suggestion, Cheryl took the Amtrak from Seattle to our train stop here in Oregon City. Carmen and I picked her up and took her on a mini tour of OC. We showed her the famous (to us) Oregon City Elevator.


Also showed her Willamette Falls and some other sites.

We only had 36 hours to spend together, so we got visiting! Brought Cousin home and had a spaghetti feed. Had a couple Black Butte Porters; I had bragged up my favorite Oregon beer to her. She enjoyed.

We kept her up til midnight. 30 hours to go. Bedtime.

Monday Morning Monday is walk day for Carmen and our neighbor Caron. They took Cheryl out for breakfast and mall walk. I waited at home and planned a quick beach trip. They enjoyed visiting and returned at 11 to leave for the coast. 19 hours left. Beach time.

Mid Monday Drove through downtown Portland for a bridge-eye view of the city. Through the West Hills and on Sunset Highway 26. She enjoyed the wet, green Oregon landscape and the journey. Stopped at a rest area with a nice short loop trail that goes through coast range forest.

Monday Afternoon We made it to Cannon Beach. Cheryl cried tears of Joy at her first sight of the Pacific Ocean. She was awed by the enormity of the Pacific in winter.

We went to lunch at Mo’s. Our family favorite for clam chowder. They serve the chowder in sourdough “cannonballs” (Cannon Beach). Delicious.

Cheryl, Carmen and I looked around town, making a stop at the Cannon Beach Bakery. Headed to Seaside, just to the north. On our way out of town, witnessed a sight we haven’t seen before. A group of elk feeding on the escallonia in a front yard of a residence. Amazing. 15 hours left….


Made Seaside, sharing stories about our late daughter BreAnna and her love of Seaside. Showed her the house we’d stay in on our visits, cruised the Promenade, took pictures with Lewis and Clark and went to the candy shop for salt water taffy!


Drive to the south end of Seaside and watched surfers braving the cold winter Pacific. Looked at a trailhead that we planned to hike “next time.”

Headed back home. Stopped at Camp 18… Closed! Just happened to be the night of their annual floor sanding. They let her look inside for a moment. Made the trip back home. 12 hours left.

Got home for another spaghetti and Black Butte Porter session. Gabbed for a while then went to bed. Cousin’s flight left at 6:00 am. I got up early and drove Cheryl to the airport at 5. Said our “see ya laters” and off she went back to Tennessee. Time’s up.

Well that was sure a fun time! We should do this again.

A Little Bird…

During our many stays at Hotel Doernbecher (Children’s Hospital), BreAnna and I would spend time in the 9th Floor Courtyard. We would play ball and enjoy the courtyard during warm weather.

Sometimes a couple of pigeons would visit the rooftop area. One brown-speckled bird seemed to follow Bre and our family around. It was up there on numerous occasions.

BreAnna used to imitate the pigeon’s head-bobbing.

Last Sunday, while my teenage son was at his Driver Education class nearby, I was hiking the Marquam Trail. It is near the hospital. After my hike, I decided to drive through the turnaround at Doernbecher’s entrance. Something was drawing me to that place. I haven’t been back for a year or so.

I have always felt BreAnna’s spirit around our family. And I believe that there are miracles all around us. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open… Sometimes, some things are unexplainable.

Look closely… My breath was taken away, hands shaking as I took this shot:



It has been eleven months since our BreAnna took her journey to Heaven. Our family was fortunate to have had such a strong, powerful spirit in our lives. We spent those eleven years filling our lives with special, treasured memories.

Besides the beautiful thoughts and memories, we are always finding notes, pictures, Bre’s toys and other surprises. Her presence continues here at home. She loved our home and made it a beautiful place to come home to!

She is here. The signs are all around us. Sometimes the message is simple…




I have goosebumps on both arms… Hair on arms standing too. I just showed Carmen.

I just walked into the kitchen to get some coffee and saw a small, fast shadow run from right in front of me and into the dining room.

Fast, in the blink of the eye. I caught a glimpse of our girl. We know you are here. Right where you always wanted to be…


Fall Is In The Air

Today was another great fall day in Oregon.  Yesterday was Bre’s 12th birthday.  I was sitting on our wall after doing some yard work this afternoon with my wife Carmen.  We were gathering the leaves from our very showy October Glory Sunset Maple.  I was looking up through the treetops at the sky.  I was remembering that October was a wonderful month for BreAnna.  Her birthday was on the 12th.  She loved Halloween.  During the last few years, we kind of turned the 12th through the 31st into a fun, extended birthday party for Bre.  Fun, friends, party, CANDY!

While daydreaming about the good times and memories, I looked to the sky to see a small falcon or kestrel flying in a circle high above the trees.  I turned to remark about this beautiful bird to Carmen, then looked back up to see that, in an instant, it vanished.  I got up off the wall and ran to the street to get a better look at the sky…  

Gone.  But not in my mind.  This was Bre’s spirit back for another visit; letting us know that she is here.  She will always be.