Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Let me show you something

A New Adventure
There have been rumors that Engineer Kepler no longer drives E73 in the Kent RFA. Captain Bolender and Engineer Moffatt have said Keith has been a “no show “for the past number of weeks. When Firefighter Gegan was asked what he knows about Engineers Keplers disappearance he replied, “I can neither confirm nor deny his whereabouts.”
  Yes It is true that after almost 31 years on B shift and nine years at 73’s I have cleaned out my B shift lockers, pulled my food from the shelf in the “B” shift fridge, removed my bunkers off the “B” shift rack, boxed my books and papers from my corner B-shift office and relocated.  Some may be thinking -RETIREMENT and I say are you crazy? Retire from the best job in the world, I don’t think so.
  It was nine years ago I left Station 71 and when I did the boy’s blossomed. Engineers Galassi and Woelber became Captains, Engineer Lyons now packs heat and Captain T is now Division Chief Tomlinson.
   Again feeling I was holding back 73”s crew I decided after 31 years to stretch my wings, do something new, take on a new challenge, and leave the nest and take the accumulation of my vast years of experience and knowledge and apply them to a much larger palette of Fire and Life Safety.

  It all started a few months ago when I heard there would be a vacancy in the Kent Regional Fire Authorities vaunted, second to none, Fire Prevention Bureau (FPB).  Wanting this as bad as Ralphy wanted his Red Ryder BB gun I waited till MarLa was batting those big beautiful eyes at me and popped the question, “can I go to the FPB? Being a veteran Firefighter wife she said, “What’s the FPB?”
  I told her about Fire Marshall Bill and how I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps. See I said I have the burns! I told her that the vetting process would be stiff but there were a potential for four openings and my chances were good. She asked how many would be applying and I said there was at least three that I knew of.  Hesitantly she gave me the green light and so I tossed my name in the ring and waited like a child waits for Christmas morning.
  Now you may be asking yourself why MarLa harbored some hesitation. Well I’ll tell you why. Years ago in church a wonderful lady got up and with tears in her eyes and a quivering voice stated that her husband of nine years got a new assignment at Boeing and every three months or so he would have to travel for five days back east and leave her alone at home. She went on further to say in their nine years of marriage he had been there every night and she didn’t know if she could survive without him. Soon members in the congregation began to feel empathy and tears started to roll out of their eyes and one even started sobbing. Realizing the sobbing was coming from my right shoulder and MarLa was on my right shoulder I quickly turned and I whispered, “hey… we’ve been married 15 years and I’ve been gone about 1,500 days so why all the noise?” She replied,” I know, I know, I was just thinking that someday you’ll be home every night and there would be no more just me and the pets in a King size bed, no more staying up till 2 AM, no more pajama and popcorn days and the thought of having you home every night telling me what to do was just too much!”  Not sure how to respond I do what I always do in these situations of emotional confusion and agreed with her and gave her a hug.
Well back to the important stuff.

  As some of you may know Sargent O’Rourke had his Corporal Agorn, Sheriff Andy Taylor had his Officer Barney Fife, and Marshall Matt Dillion had Festus Haggen. Well Division Chief Napier, Chief Bentenson, and Captain Nee will have Assistant Fire Marshal Keith D. Kepler.  Yep with clip board and code book in hand I’ll be traveling the streets of the Kent RFA making sure businesses are fire and life safety compliant. I’ll be walking miles a day keeping a keen eye open making sure extension cords are not being used as permanent wiring,  hood and duct systems are clean and the other 1000’s of codes that will become my new close friends. Also I’ll get my own pickup, orange vest and office with a view.
  Now some of you are saying, “But Keith you’ll never be on an engine again how sad.” Not to worry, I’ll be keeping my skills finely honed and occasionally I’ll be called back to fill a seat and impart my Fire and EMS skills to some new rookie or rub shoulders with the RFA’s finest.

   Meanwhile back at 73’s I occasionally pull into the parking lot and peer through the windows only to find that Walt Henry from 71’s has quicker than you can say “CrossFit” moved into my bedroom and B shift locker, Engineer Paul has jumped into the B shift Driver’s seat and now controls the helm not to mention he also moved into and took over my B shift corner office. I’ve observed Carlo who seems to be smiling more readily and I hear kissing more babies. Meanwhile Greg seems more laid back and relaxed and cooking more dinners for the boys!
  Ah…but that is the circle of life in the firefighter world as we try to make the best out of a sad situation. Sometimes though it’s too hard on a few and there are those like John Robbins who took my leaving B-shirt so hard he turned in his retirement papers. I’m going to miss you #124.

So wish me well on my new adventure and know that I now play a larger role in protecting the citizens of the Kent RFA.
Assistant Fire Marshall Keith D. Kepler #125

Saturday, December 19, 2015

One week post surgery and so far all is well. MarLa has been taking good care of me and keeping me from doing too much. When I listen she is an angel. When I don't listen she becomes Nurse Kratchet. I've decided to listen. Many, many thanks to all. Got visits from my sister Karen and my fire department buddy Paul Moffat at the hospital. Plus many phone calls from old friends and family. Mike McGinness my oldest and fondest friend apologized for twisting my back into knots in wrestling back in Jr, Hi. and starting this whole need for surgery. Then all of you sending your prayers and kind words my way has been great. Surgery was not 2-3 hours but 4 hours as the doctor told me my bones were 50% lager than most of the patients he works on and took more drilling and grinding time and that everything went on without a hitch. I had two bone spurs pushing in on my right sciatic nerve and some scar tissue taking up some nerve space. And so now I now am a proud owner of a 10" incision from the base of my ribs to my plumbers crack. Attractive right??? Some folks do tattoos, I do scars. I was told by a doctor once that men with scars are found to be more attractive. Well never had a problem there but little extra good looks never hurt. So what's the future hold? Well there will be one more week to get past the infection concern and then it's just be getting the back, back in shape. Decided to do the mini Tri-Athlon at Moses Lake again this year in June to help motivate me into better health. Looking forward to 2016 as it will be a year of change. I start my new job in Fire Prevention as an Assistant Fire Marshal (post coming soon), MarLa and I celebrate 30 years of marriage (going to Costa Rica for 2 weeks), looks like Jared will be assigned to a Marine battalion in August stationed at Hawaii, and hope to get over to Spokane a lot to be with AriAnna, Ryan and the boys.I'll also work on doing a little better job at Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, and friend. In the meantime it'll be sauntering for another week, then graduate to short then long walks for two weeks, add in swimming and water aerobics at week four, and  then adding on the bicycle and jogging at week eight and beyond. Even though it will be cold I'll probably go without a shirt as people will honk and wave as they drive by and say to each other...Wow look at that scar... but what a handsome looking middle aged man!                                                                     Merry Christmas and many smiles. Keep your eyes open for those whose Christmas is anything but joy and peace, and lift their hand and strengthen their knees.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Don't call me as I will not call you back...
So in the process of trying to "find" my skinner self I "lost" my cell phone. The saga starts where I'm on my newly remodeled bike (extra wide handle bars (Due to my expansive chest) and a new speedometer to
avoid getting a ticket from MarLa's co-workers) I zip about nine miles when that little voice in my head says, "Keith did you zip your little pouch shut that holds your cell phone in on your bike bag?" Screeching to a halt which took a while as I was going an amazing 17.9 miles per hour I limped off my bike and NNNOOOO. It was not zipped and it was GONE!!!
I looked in the cloudless sky and said to the man upstairs WHYYY didn't the voice come sooner? He answered and said ... I'll tell you what he said when his response hits my slow thick skull. Needles to say I did a 180 and double timed it back with speeds that would have made "American Pharaoh" look like she was at a stand still.
I'm sure at intersections small children mistook me for Captain America on a bike. Having peddled the flats of the valley and up 277th Mount Kilimanjaro to Military road I came up empty. I was by then admittedly exhausted and tired. So stand by as a replacement phone is as they say "in the mail". What's weird is last few days have been like the 1970's and 80's where I find myself free of the Matrix and the fibers of the world wide web. Big brother does not know where I am 24/7. And I kind of like it. It must be the dirt farmer in my blood.
Phoneless in Seattle

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Horror of Horrors
As I have been trying to achieve an Olympic body I realize there are two objectives I must meet. Objective “A” is consuming 10,000 calories a day and objective “B” is no less than 3 work outs a day. I have achieved object” “A” quite nicely and now it is time to focus on objective “B”. And so I wake up at 5:15 to start my day with my mile swim at the Mt. Rainier pool. In my excitement to have a body like Michael Phelps, not Bruce Jenner, I fail to remember I ...took my swim trunks out of my swim bag for my Whidbey Island get away. This discovery was not realized until I drove into the pool parking lot and my “cat” like senses told me something was wrong. I thought, “Well I could go home and work on objective “A”, but then I thought, “Possibly they might have a spare pair I could borrow.” Approaching the young lifeguard I told him of my predicament and he said you can check the lost and found for a pair to wear. This is where my story gets ugly. For those of you who are University of Washington grads or fans (go Dawgs) I suggest you quit reading now. So digging through the huge box of swim suits I discover the “only” pair large enough to fit my Olympic body in training is the Crimson and Gray WSU trunks!!! Horror of horrors. It was at that time that my life flashed before me like a VHS cassette tape with all the joyous moments of Husky wins and Cougar defeats. Now my grandson Hunter, a BYU cougar and WSU cougar fan would have been ecstatic at this time. I can hear him saying “Wear them grandpa nobody will know.” Now I love Hunter but I don’t give in so easily to temptation and so dug through the box again. And my second efforts of finding a suit large enough to fit produced a woman’s one piece!!!. But as stated earlier I wanted a Michael Phelps body not a Bruce Jenner body and so with a heavy heart placed the Cougar trunks on the Husky hips and thighs. Some of you may be judging me now and saying I would have swam naked before donning the Wazzu colors. But the lanes were full of swimmers and those folks paid good money to exercise. If I would have swam al- a- fresco somebody would have screamed, “There’s great white, run for your lives” and vacated the pool, thus losing out on their workout, and hard earned money I might add. So I quickly dove in the pool, (oddly landing on all four paws). The swim went well, but for some reason I just wasn’t quite as fast as when I wore my purple and gold trunks. I can’t explain why. On the way back to the showers the young lifeguard snapped a picture of me for my “time-line”. As it turns out he graduated from Wazzu and so the smile on his face was memorable. Leaving the locker room I left the “borrowed” trunks in a strategic place where he could easily locate them.
Once again I have found out that life can be unpredictable and occasionally throw you a curve ball.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Devil Dogs

Another near death experience where good wins out over evil!

A-71 slows down and pulls slowly into the side street behind the sleazy motel. As the drizzle of the rain falls on the windshield I tell my partner , Dave to drive slow and keep your eyes peeled. I sense with my Jedi power his presence and know he is close... gates of hell close. Slowly we pull up to the inconspicuous Mobile home and I find my self thinking back to my last "dance with death" not more than three weeks ago. The call came in as a female who fell and couldn't get up. At 2:00 PM that's code in Kent for DWF (drunk white female). After helping "Charlotte" up off the floor from her alcohol induced collapse and placing her on the couch we proceed to say our good byes when from outside Scotty and I hear an unnatural inhuman noise with scratching on the trailers walls. Using the Vulcan death grip we bring our patient back to consciousness and ask her to identify the noise. She smiles, brushes my leg with her hand and invites me over for dinner and cocktails... minus the dinner. Throwing caution to the wind we quickly exit the residence and walk the "green mile" to the exterior wood gate knowing at any moment that the "noise" could attack. Scotty walks through the gate of freedom and I having held my breath the whole way let down my guard and relax expelling the fear ridden air from my lungs. Then suddenly...BAM... I felt a muscle tearing pain from behind the right knee shoot through my rather muscular leg causing me to drop like a Redwood. Stunned, blind but alert I find myself laying on the ground with my mind screaming for an answer of WHAT HAPPENED and WHY AM I BLIND? Realizing that my eyes are closed I slowly open them only to look up into what can only be described as the eyes of Satan's Spawn. Call it the grace of God, call it spidey sense, I discovered I had not put away the metal clipboard in the "jump kit" but instead held it in my right hand as I walked out through the DMZ. With lightning like reflexes I quickly parried Devil Dogs yellow fangs as he tried to deliver the final death bite where upon his fetid maul clamped down on cold steel bending it like a pretzel. Frustrated and confused from his failure to rend flesh from my bones I sensed this was the exact moment to use my "urban dog tactic training" and so pointed and yelled "squirrel". Just like the SWAT instructor said the foolish creature looked where I pointed giving me the precious seconds needed to make good my escape.

And so here I am back only this time I know the enemy within. My new partner Dave innocently approaches the wood gate and just before unleashing the Hound of Baskerville I scream...WAIT!! Startled but trusting my vast years of experience pad wan Dave asks "what is wrong master?" It is that moment that from behind the gate we see what appears to be two points of Master Mahans pitch fork appearing intermittently breaking the fences horizon and my blood freezes as I realize its not the fork of "pain and dispare" but the tip of Devil dogs ears that appear to have calcified and have taken on the shape and density of the horns of Lucifer himself. Knowing that "Charlotte" is unconscious on the floor and another life is crying out to be saved, it was not a question of "do we go in" but "when". With life in the balance I request a "Code 3" (firefighters life in imminent danger) and give a brief description of the situation and confirm to dispatch that this is the "Devil Dog" as sketched by an artist from my prior assault while recovering in a hospital. And so with Adam 12 on the way Dave and I patiently wait when from the inside of the trailer we hear a crash, scream, and a groan. (Later we discover Charlotte dropped her Vodka and the loss caused her to scream as it hit the floor and she moaned as the contents soaked into the foul stained carpet.) But not knowing this and thinking a life was in peril we made the fateful decision to go in without backup. Suddenly like a sun in nova I had the brilliant idea to grab the three gallon pressure water extinguisher to use in our defense. Approaching the gate I went to put on my helmet when a voice in my mind said, "Keith...use the force." Tossing my helmet to the side I had Dave pull open the locking latch and advancing I mentally reviewed the PASS technique and without mechanical assistance Pulled the pin, Aimed at the Devil Dogs uvula, and squeezed the trigger while sweeping from left rear molar to right rear molar. Startled Devil Dog was bowled over backwards and like Teddy Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill I pressed my advantage. The inhuman little Curr knowing it was time to retreat so it could rend another day, evaded the killing squirt and ran around the back of the trailer. There I stood holding the "thin red line" when from my rear I felt the warm breath of deaths door from none other than another creature from the bowels of Hell. Yes you guessed it there was not one but two servants of the evil master and seeing a brief glimpse of the dogs rear end I knew this had to be "She Devil Dog". Yes Devil Dog had a female partner and with her man on the run she was coming at me like a wall of flame fanned by the fires of perdition. Pivoting like Jason Bourne I brought the extinguisher to bare and let go its cold flame quenching fluid only to find that unlike her evil male counter part she just kept coming with jowls wide open. Seeing my life flashing before my eyes I screamed at Dave to run for cover and said if I don't make it, "tell MarLa I love her!" Just before the She Devils final leap for my throat with her red hot glowing charcoal briquette sized brain hoping to make me a neck breather Officer Sniper arrived out of no where and from a rolling position discharges his tazer from exactly 23ft four and three quarters inches away. A distance known as the "Kill Zone". With fangs approaching my muscular but exposed neck the probes flew true and found there target in "She Devil Dogs" flank. With milliseconds to spare the 400,000 volts made positive contact with her evil soaked bones and discharge into her body. Right before my gratefully tear soaked eyes she vaporizes into a puff of smoking fur and Devil dog fangs.

Epilogue: Like a Marine on Omaha beach who made it to the bluffs I collapsed on the porch and told Dave he'd have to pick up "Charlotte" by himself but watch out for her hands and don't accept any appointments for dinner with cocktails...minus the dinner.
Sadly in time "Charlotte" died from her addiction. But to this day I fear going out on wet rainy days in Kent. For I know somewhere out there lurks "Devil Dog" who lies in wait for "he who vaporized his mate".

Discloser: No tazer was discharged and no animal was hurt.
Author embellished to make himself look braver than what he is. Names have been changed except, Dave's, Scotty's and mine.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cute College Coed

Well I've always dreamed of being married to a cute college Coed. And well "I am". Most of MarLa's girl friends think she is under 35!
When I've climbed Mt. Rainier you feel success when you can look down on Mt. Tahoma the peak on the east side of the Mts. Profile. Then you look up and realize the summit is in view and a reality with a little more hard work. MarLa's got her 2year degree and is a Junior at the University of Washington and heading for the peak. Go Dawgs...Go Cute College Coed...Go MarLa.