A Conundrum of Contradictions

The musings of one born in the wrong decade

>The Speed of Things April 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 5:25 pm

>Readers, be prepared: there will be no pictures with this post…assuming anyone cares.

I’ve just been reading old posts from the Queen of Cake blog (hyperlinked on the right side of your screen) and the term ‘food porn’ doesn’t quite cover it. There are generally no pictures, but there are recipes…for monkey bread, things dipped in melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon, chocolate and bacon in a friendly combination – you get the idea. There’s also a recipe for Derby Pie if anyone is interested here under the Sept 16th post. It’s not the original (since you have to buy that) but the next best thing.

Since our return, the temperature in Las Vegas has continued to rise as the number of available jobs plunges. We’re going fishing just to get away from the monotony of lounging in the yard watching the clouds pass. And since we have all this free time, we’re going for about a week. We’ve moved plenty of boxes into storage – it’s still a full house. We’ve done some side work installing tile (not one of our favorite things) and inadvertently made steps towards becoming a plumber. We stay up too late and sleep in too long to compensate; we watch entire TV mini series on DVD in one go (like 4 and a half hours worth). I highly recommend Tin Man if anyone is interested. It’s all very lazy, but what can you do?

Wednesday is dart night for the boys and Girl’s Night for the girls. We always welcome newcomers so long as the boys bring beer or alcohol and the girls bring so sort of sugary contraband. All parties start around 7pm. I should give fair warning though: the boys get very heavy into the gay jokes, and sometimes I’m not sure they’re joking; and if you can’t handle a noxious fart, you should probably skip it altogether.

Art in the Park is in Boulder City this weekend from 9am-5pm. There’ll be classic cars, so sort of dog demonstration, and arts & crafts. While you’re in the neighborhood, anything from the Coffee Cup Cafe with chili verde sauce on it is fabulous.

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>Trip Home Continued and Other Interesting Stuff! April 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 6:39 pm

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Ok, so my last post and this post are overrunning each other. I didn’t get to complete the narrative of the trip, but there wasn’t much more to tell. We almost didn’t see Bodie; there was a “Road Closed” sign in the way, but the local ranger said we could drive around, then we arrive an hour before closing (and yes, there are people there to enforce that) plus it snowed. Honey wants to go back for a weekend trip. The weather was so crappy at Mono Lake we didn’t stop. It was about then that we did a funds check and realized we had enough cash for two tanks of gas; we were closing in on empty during that discussion, and decided we should quit screwing around and go home if we actually wanted to reach home without being stranded. We rolled in about midnight Thursday night and very gratefully crawled into our bed, despite the large amount of catnip our cats had left in it for us. By the way, those cats are still mad at us but haven’t eaten any charger cables yet, which is there usual method of revenge.

Last Saturday we went to the Backyard BBQ Tour and the Boulder City Art Festival. The B-BBQ-T was in the parking lot of the Galleria Mall in Henderson. The announcer for the half pipe kept saying “This isn’t Vegas, this is Hendo, Bro” which has been stuck in my head ever since. It was free and had plenty of free parking. We arrived just in time for the Moto X demonstration to start. Honey was ready and armed with camera in hand; he got some great stuff that hopefully will be ready when I’m done with this post. I’m being held up from publishing due to my slacking photo department – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Anyway, there were booths for shoes and skate-wear all with lines about 30 people deep, one Del Taco stand which I’m sure made a killing since no other food was readily visible, and a stage for local bands to perform. The madness ran from noon to 7pm but I think we stayed maybe 2 hours or less. The Moto X is what Honey really wanted to see, and the skateboarders were slow warming up. Plus it was moving rapidly towards the characteristically sweltering heat of Vegas plus too many bodies pressed together.

The Boulder City Art Festival has either taken a severe decline in popularity and participation or we confused it with a bigger, badder show in May. Probably the later. At first we though we were in the wrong place – there were no classic cars or booths to be seen – the park that is usually covered (for the show in May) wasn’t that crowded. When we did find it (with no trouble parking I might add) we wandered through in an hour. There wasn’t even any decent fair food to be had, and that’s saying a lot! There were probably 6 or 7 photographers with booths; all except two were selling similar landscapes, usually for too much money. I’m still amazed nobody looked at the competition and said ‘maybe I should be different’. The most interesting one, aside from the ocean photog who’s at every fair anywhere, was a high school student. I can’t remember which high school; it started with a ‘C’. Anyway, she was the most refreshing.

Sunday we planned to stay home, maybe continue the organizing attempt at the tornado-stricken den we call a room, but Honey got a voicemail around 9am asking if we wanted to go shoot Mexican wrestling in Primm that afternoon. So we did that instead. And in a phrase, they’re all crazy. Lucha Libre fans make the fans of WWF and E look like pussies. There were 5- and 6-year old kids chanting “Asshole, asshole” at the referee! Wrestlers are diving out of the ring at opponents and a very hard concrete floor. The barrier fences were not much help. We went in with The Vegas Tourist, Sazzy and Honey got to stand at the barriers; I got a seat on the floor in the front row. Oh yeah, and it was free, which was awesome cuz I read my ticket later and the seat I occupied cost $55 bucks. It was a good two hours long, there were a couple of female fighters, and everyone put on a good show albeit unorganized. The DJ was terrible most of the event. LeAnn Rhymes sang the national anthem via CD. Every photojournalist in the room took pictures of the kid two seats from me because he was wearing a lucha libre mask. Grandmothers were swearing at the ref, who was swearing back. “F*** your mother!” was thrown around quite a bit. I learned all this later of course because I don’t speak Spanish. I’m pretty sure Honey pissed off the photog from the Las Vegas Sun/Review Journal. They’re notoriously rude and self-important, and Honey is indifferent or outright antagonistic towards those people. You get the picture. I think mostly Honey was just in the guys way, getting shots he wanted and not yielding when expected. Honey doesn’t yield very well. And if he thinks you’re an ass, he doesn’t yield at all. Anyway, a good time was had by all.

 

>The Trip Home (Finally)

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 6:28 pm

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Special Note: It’s all Honey’s fault this has taken so long. 🙂
Like I said before, we made it to Las Vegas in one piece. There was no snow or fog to slow us down but instead of 17 hours it took 3 days.
We retrieved our boat Monday – the guy keeping it for me never called to find out if I’d taken it or it was stolen, and I haven’t heard from him since – and devised a method to lower the totes from the third floor balcony on an anchor rope instead of walking the stairs repeatedly. It upset the neighbors a little, but we parked the boat in the handicapped space (closest to our apartment) and parked the Rover in front of it. They probably didn’t appreciate us throwing the leaky air mattress off the balcony either; it made a sound like cannon when it landed and probably woke everyone up. We waited until 5:30am for that. I smiled all the way to the dumpster. That horrible thing will never torture us again!!
We rolled out for the coast at 6am. Our ever-changing itinerary still wasn’t finalized; we just played it by ear the whole way. It felt good to get on the road and just leave it all behind, heading for a new adventure; even though it was towards a place I’ve known all my life. Two hours later we arrived at the coast in a little town called Cannon Beach. We parked in a dead-end road with stairs leading down to the sand. It was amazingly beautiful and I think we stayed all of 10 minutes. It was so freaking cold with the wind coming in from the sea even Honey couldn’t stay out in it. He took pictures and dashed for the car. When he’ll admit its cold – it’s pretty damn cold. I drove on and eventually stopped somewhere for breakfast at Denny’s. I attempted to blog along the way and even wrote a journal entry from the breakfast table, but it didn’t flow and I couldn’t keep up and enjoy myself at the same time. That Denny’s was the nicest one I’ve ever been to: sparkling clean (including the bathrooms), brand new modern interior, classic black and white photographs on the walls, and all the staff said “Ma’am” and “Sir”. It’s a shame I can’t remember exactly where I was at the time.
We passed through several small towns, some perched almost directly on the beach, and others close but far enough away to take advantage of the climate for farming. There were a lot of farms. Once we got near Tillamook there were dairy cow farms for miles. The factory for Tillamook Cheese is visible from the highway; we did the “we are not worthy” bow in passing. You can’t get it down here, but Tillamook also makes yogurt and some fine ice cream (there’s your useless factoid for the day). It is beautiful country to drive through and a nice change from the flat desert I’m used to. I think by then I’d skidded off the road about six times so Honey could jump out and take pictures. Newport found us at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, one of the places we’d planned to stop. It was nice but also a little disappointing. There were a lot of rockfish, a few sharks, a lot of birds that all looked the same to me, some awesome jelly fish, seahorses, and a red octopus I could have stared at for the rest of my life. Simply mesmerizing. I touched some starfish and an anemone, which gave me the willies. They’re a little sticky and rubbery and I expected it to sting but it didn’t. I bought a cup of coffee on the way out and we tried to contact our generous host, who would not be receiving us that night because it was 2:30pm in the afternoon and there was no way we’d make Reno. We headed for Winston where the Wildlife Safari is and figured we’d drive till we were tired and then camp in the car at a rest stop. We never did find the rest stop; the sign for Winston appeared before we found one. Luckily we found an RV park practically across the street from the safari entrance and the manager was still awake and cut us a deal. I was asleep about 3 minutes after snuggling into my blanket. We didn’t realize until the following morning, but we’d turned a 5-hour drive into a 14-hour day.
The following morning also revealed to me a badly swollen right ankle. Good thing the safari is a drive thru because I was hobbling like an old lady. We topped off the gas tank and tried a local diner for breakfast. Carri’s Diner is one of those tiny buildings where it doesn’t look like a kitchen and dining room would even fit and the parking lot is always packed. We ordered biscuits and gravy, thinking we’d get a little side plate like you do back home with a lonely biscuit cut in half. What arrived instead was a breakfast platter with 4 biscuit halves and enough gravy to sink a small boat; one plate for each of us. It now occupies the top spot of my ‘best biscuits and gravy’ list. All homemade, fluffy biscuits, sausage gravy, and enough of it to satisfy even me. We took leftovers; it was still awesome cold the following day.
The Wildlife Safari is home to one of the few, if not the only, captive cheetah breeding programs in the US. It’s a good half mile drive away from the highway and has paw prints painted on the road for you to follow. There was practically no one there when we arrived besides staff. After dropping the boat in the parking lot, we proceeded into the animal habitats at a crawl slower than the required 10 mph with many stops for pictures. The first section was for the animals of the African plains; there were giraffes, rhinoceroses, zebra, and several other four-legged critters I didn’t immediately recognize living together in a huge open field. Unfortunately, the rhino where all the way at the back sleeping against the fence. I was excited by the prospect of sharing the road with them, but it was apparently too early. The hippo was a no-show – yeah, they let you drive thru the hippo enclosure – we looked hard but didn’t see any bubbles or waggling ears. The bison were very accommodating, probably because their feed troughs were right by the roadside and it was breakfast time. Honey mentioned these didn’t have the heavy musk scent like the wild ones in Yellowstone National Park. They were also completely unconcerned by our presence. The bear section kinda bummed me out. We’ve been to Bear Country in South Dakota and there you literally drive thru where the bears live. We had one that was half blind bump down one side of the car. Here, however, the bears are kept away from the road by electric fences, and you’re not supposed to stop because their curiosity will get them shocked. We circled the loop twice and moved on. A huge two-humped camel walked right in front of the car with an “I’m more important than you” expression. Later on we got a good look at a female Siberian tiger named Leah. The cheetahs were beautiful, at least what of them you could see. They stayed far from the fences closest to the road and blended away into the grass. I think it took us two hours to get back to the parking lot. Took a bathroom break and discovered there were more animals and a petting zoo around the gift shop. There were some very twitchy little monkeys, a piebald deer that couldn’t be released due to leg problems, a goat that smiled at me, and a lone cheetah who also lounged at the back of the enclosure. We saw the lions from here (apparently we missed them on the drive), a sleeping porcupine, and heard without actually witnessing the lemur equivalent of the pimp hand being put down. They live on an island surrounded by a mote (I guess they can’t swim). I saw one right before he walked into the house and them all hell broke loose, screaming and screeching bloody murder like I’ve never heard (and probably you either). We bought a pin to decorate the headliner of the Rover (our new tradition), avoided the “poo candy”, and hit the road to Reno. We wanted to see Crater Lake, but the back entrance I took nearly got us plowed into a snow bank. The snow plough had cleared the road for about 300 feet and then just stopped, leaving an 8 foot high wall of snow that didn’t immediately register for what it was. I managed to get from 55 mph to stop with 5 or 6 feet to spare. The only other entrance was several hours out of the way, so we just put it on the list of things to see on the ‘Big Trip’, as we’ve come to call it. We didn’t make it to Reno until 11pm. By then both my ankles and feet looked like balloon people and I was glad not to sleep in the car.
Thursday morning we slept in. Our hosts made us breakfast and we took our time catching up on the last 8 years. We’d planned to see Bodie ghost town, Mono Lake, and Death Valley…
I’m exhausted. More in a minute…
 

>Coming soon… April 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 3:12 pm

>Everyone, please be patient! We did arrive safe and sound (and broke), but we’re still getting pictures together and trying to get settled. The tale of our latest trip is coming soon. Thx!

 

>Happy to go, Sad to leave April 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 9:29 pm

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Yesterday was both awesome and sad. Now that we’re on the brink of leaving, I’m realizing all the things I’m going to miss about Portland. As much as I need to go home – to my chiropractor, family, and friends, to a place where I can survive on unemployment alone – this place has a vibe, a spirit of unapologetic funkiness, a soul even that gets under your skin and before you know it, you’re hooked. I didn’t recognize it until today – but I’m hooked. I tried to explain this weird mix of feelings to Honey: how I’m relieved to go home, desperately need to go home in order to not live in pain with ribs all twisted out of place, and yet sad because I’m going to miss how people here actually seem human, and there’s a real art scene with real artists, and people care enough to protest practically everything. Honey said that’s because Las Vegas isn’t a city, it’s an attraction. What I’m feeling and seeing now is how a true city lives and breathes, and it’s fascinating.
Let me attempt to explain…we went to the Saturday Market for the last time this morning. I haven’t been up before 9am since I got fired, but we were on the road by then today. There were clear blue skies for miles – the first day of them this year I think. The market was the busiest I’ve ever seen it, with vendors and shoppers, street musicians, homeless wanderers attempting to be street performers, and dogs. Crowds of what we call “native wildlife” – the costume-dressed, wild-haired, hard not-to-stare-at people who inhabit downtown. There was a man playing drums on a set of empty plastic buckets sharing the sidewalk with an accordion- and harmonica-wielding man and his amplifier; across the street there was a black man in a very large, Rastafarian hat with a carved staff holding court from a lawn chair, but not obviously selling anything. Next to him was what appeared to be wanderer (he had that far-away look in his eyes and could’ve used several good meals) who rolled out a blanket to display very colorful crocheted beanies. He started crocheting a new one while I watched. Artists and locals, homeless and vendors all rubbing shoulders in a comfortable sort of jostling, creating the kind of buzz you read about in the markets of far away or long dead places. We circled this festival of commerce for over 3 hours, taking photos, collecting business cards, dropping dollars to deserving musicians and one unfortunate soul with a broken leg, crutches, and a sign simply stating “need food, God bless”, and avoiding the small gang of ruffians advertising ‘free hugs’ to all takers. For someone like me, from Las Vegas where it used to be tradition to implode a building every New Year’s, street musicians are harassed for disturbing the peace, and ‘culture’ comes and goes with the tourists, today was an experience like… settling into a much worn, but still proud chair or taking a tab of acid and feeling all five senses explode, minus the paranoia of course. I don’t really know how to describe it. Everybody is weird and everybody is different so nobody points and judges or stands with their little group of friends, feeling superior. So refreshing.
I had a hard time resisting, but I didn’t buy everything in sight. We picked up some of “the best catnip on the planet” as a peace offering to our poor cats, who haven’t seen us in nearly 2 months and probably think we’ve abandoned them. We bought a flint and magnesium fire starter for our road trip and a cute little drawing of a scuba diving bunny rabbit – it made us both laugh. For lunch we found the guy who makes Philly cheese steaks with grilled onions and parmesan garlic sauce – still at OMG status. We also tried his grandmother’s recipe for orange lemonade, which was very good. We walked across the street towards the back of the market which puts you in a little park right next to the Columbia River. It’s lined with blossoming cherry trees, green grass, and benches excellent for resting your tired feet and watching tail of the many runners in spandex.
I’m going to miss the option of going to Saturday Market every weekend of the summer. On top of that, they also have Second Thursday which we’ve never been to but could probably kick the butt of Las Vegas’ First Friday. We’ll miss the farmers’ markets and loops you can drive to buy produce direct from the growers, Voodoo Doughnut, though we did manage to get in this morning and buy the famous “no name” doughnut (cake doughnut with chocolate glaze, rice crispies, and drizzled peanut butter). There are things I won’t miss of course: relentless rain, sky-high taxes that don’t pay to fix the roads (that are disintegrating), and not seeing our awesome friends. If I could meld Portland with the aspects of Vegas I have to have, it would be perfect.
Oh, here is a list of links from vendor business cards I picked up. I couldn’t buy everything at once, so…enjoy.
 

>All about the Tranquility April 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 9:11 pm

> “We do love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love colors and sheen that call to mind the past that made them.”

-Tanizaki Junichiro

We went to the Japanese Gardens today, despite the promised 80% chance of rain. It was by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to; the Chinese Gardens pale in comparison, like bright colors left in the sun too long. It covers close to 5 and a half acres, has all the slippery rocks, koi ponds, and burbling waters you could want. ‘Zen’ doesn’t cover it really. If you soaked in steaming Tranquility for two weeks you might get close. Honey took loads of photos, none of which he’s allowed to use for anything unless he pays a $150 fee to the Gardens; I, however, am not a photographer and won’t be making any money or getting any publicity from them, so they’ll be posted here in all their glory. I’m not usually one for gift shops, but this one had all sorts of interesting stuff. Honey bought me the book I wanted; he just looked at the title (Wabi Sabi:The Art of Everyday Life) and didn’t ask any questions. It’s got some great wisdom in it and aligns perfectly with my current state of mind.

We attempted the Rose Gardens but nothing has bloomed yet; it’s all just twiggy stumps right now. There’s also an arbitoreum – basically a park full of trails solely for the purpose of looking at various tree species. We skipped that. On the way home we were discussing where to eat and decided some place new was in order. We’ve been at home this whole week and haven’t spent much (except for movies and orange juice to accompany my new drinking habit). Honey saw a sign for East Burn and we circled the block three times before finding a parking space (for free no less). We sat in the front window, each of us in a hanging bamboo chair, and proceeded to have the most decadent, delicious, and food-porn-worthy dinner ever. Yeah, it was that good. Potato pancakes with apple-bourbon chutney and scallion sour cream for the appetizer. (Are you drooling yet?) I had chicken stuffed with wild mushrooms, roasted red peppers, parmesan, rosemary, and thyme on a bed of the best garlic mashed potatoes I’ve ever had, all swimming in pesto. OMG!! Honey had flank steak with an apple chutney demi-glaze, creamy polenta, and Moroccan vegetables. He even commented how perfect the carrots were – my husband, the man who doesn’t eat vegetables. The food was excellent and the portions small enough that you didn’t feel like a stuffed pig in desperate need of a nap afterwards. There were only three choices for dessert, all made by local bakeries. I was really bummed they were out of cheesecake (there was chocolate ganache, caramel, nuts, and a chocolate cookie crust involved), so we had one each of the German chocolate cake and the lemon cake and shared. The German chocolate was divine. I’m not a big fan of lemon cake, but there’s was very good. We even had cocktails (hey, it was happy hour!). I had something called a Sunburn with vodka, rum, and fruity stuff in it. Honey had something like a lemon drop only made with lime and far more tart than sweet. The check didn’t even break the bank. 🙂 I am a very happy camper.

For the third time now, we’ve added stuff to our road trip home, stops we can make because they’re on the way. Currently we’re planning to head for the coast – the beaches are promised to be amazing – then to the Oregon Aquarium, and Oregon Safari. The last is a drive thru wildlife park similar to Bear Country in South Dakota only with animals from the African plains, Asia, and the Americas. Frankly, with the condition of my skeleton at present (all fucked up) the more stops the better. We’ll stay a night in Reno (once we get there, be that in one day or two) and then head for Bodie ghost town, Mono Lake, and through Death Valley to Scotty’s Castle before reaching home. We didn’t get to do and see as much as we planned here and now we’re going home it’s time to make the most of it.

Kinda out-did myself with the links, huh. Trying to share the experience!!

 

>April Fools – no kidding April 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 10:15 am

> April Fool’s Day seems like an excellent day to realize I’ve been completely screwed. There will be no compensation for uprooting my life in the service of Alexander Services, LLC; being fired negated that and is why, I’m sure, they fired me. Politics – shady no matter where you go. They went about this all wrong, and I, having gone to several places without getting the job first, thought I was doing this all right. Neither of us knew what the hell we were doing. There had been the suggestion of a trial run, maybe for a week or two; I could have stayed with another employee and the company could have figured out long before I made the ultimate commitment that I wasn’t right for them. However, the guy who suggested that went on vacation for a couple days and while away I was hired out right and the snowball was released down the hill. We all know how that works.

So here we are: once again sitting in a patio chair, writing to you good people, watching it rain incessantly, and contemplating if its too early to have a cocktail. I haven’t even had breakfast yet. Don’t worry – I’m not depressed. I’ve just moved on into not giving a damn. It’s a happy place where the day-to-day stuff that drives us all insane doesn’t matter (because it really doesn’t) and I’m endeavoring to live there permanently. You kind of have to with the plans we have in mind.