Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem, Oregon, has an owl problem. Namely, an owl that likes to swoop down on unsuspecting people and scare the bejesus out of them while stealing their hats. “Owlcapone” has struck at least four park visitors, and Rachel Maddow suggested that the only way to get visitors to take the owl warning seriously is to place yellow “raptor attack” signs throughout the park. The city of Salem agreed and there are now at least twenty signs posted to warn visitors that an owl could be lurking anywhere up in the trees above, waiting to strike. People probably do take it more seriously now. Just not me.
I’m off in Oahu with a group of awesome people, and prepping for this trip made me dig up the photos from the last time I was there. I hadn’t thought about it for a long time, and it was surprising how flipping through the album brought everything back. Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay for hours and realizing afterward that I’d forgotten to put sunscreen on the backs of my legs, which made sitting difficult for a week. Hiking in brutal heat, learning about native and invasive plant species from a surfer bro named Mitch. Climbing the steep Diamond Head stairs, complaining the entire way. Marveling at the ubiquity of ABC stores. The peace at the grounds of Byodo-In Temple. It’s funny, the stories I remember about the people as well: the night we went to a Korean BBQ restaurant and one of my boyfriend’s aunts grabbed my breasts and said in halting English that they were “very good”. The way Bob would pop his hands off the steering wheel every time he sneezed and said it was a pilot reflex–I remember that every time I sneeze in the car. The time and effort Mitsuko put into ensuring I had a nice trip, even though it was here wedding week. The way she smiled and thanked me for making her son a good person. There was ultra-cringeworthy stuff, too. The way I almost shouted into a cell phone at the Ala Moana mall because I hadn’t really used one before. The way I showed up to the aforementioned wedding in a white dress. How did I not know that was taboo? Why didn’t anyone tell me? How did the bride keep from slapping the shit out of me?
This time, I’m going to be in charge of what I see and do. I’ve got so much planned, and I hope that fifteen years from now, my new photos fill me with even more memories of a wonderful time filled with wonderful people. Only maybe this time, I’ll have learned to keep my horizon lines straight.
I turned 33 yesterday, and had my most sacrelicious birthday celebration yet: Mellzah’s Last Supper. A group of us met up at the Lunchbox Lab and indulged in a stupidly decadent meal that may or may not have involved tater tot and milkshake communion. Yes, I’ve totally gone there for a different birthday and I don’t even care that I’m repeating myself, but I am a little bummed that The Last Supper Club couldn’t hang on juuuust a little longer because it would have been the perfect venue for this theme.
For her 31st birthday, my friend Boolia came up with a really impressive list of thirty-one things she wanted to do in her 31st year, and I watched in awe as she checked them all off–go skydiving, fly a helicopter, basically be a badass for an entire year. What I think makes it so much better than a bucket list is that you really have no idea when you’re going to die, so it’s easy to put off all of those experiences and goals with “someday,” “later,” “maybe next year,” whereas the one year deadline is hard and fast. Either you make it a priority and do it, or you don’t. Some of these things are big, and some are small–I can’t cram all of the huge experiences I want to have over the course of my life into the next year because there are always time and money constraints, but I can make sure this year is both exciting and fulfilling for myself instead of wondering where in the hell the last year went…which I’m kind of doing this year. I mean, when I really think about it, I did do a lot of stuff last year– I united some friends in mawwage, packed in a bunch of activities in Denver including the world’s most exciting restaurant, was miserably sick in and around NYC but still managed to have my mayoral photo taken, took SoCal by storm, took a day trip to Vancouver, went to some museums, checked out some festivals, read a bunch of books, wrote some stuff, cooked some stuff, did some house renos, made some stuff, and saw a hell of a lot of roadside attractions,while still leaving time for all-important puppy cuddles. But there’s always that drive to do more, that fear that I’m wasting what little time I have. I think I’d have that fear even if my consciousness was uploaded into an indestructible super-robot. “Why didn’t I go and see the Florida Keys before the ocean swallowed them?” I’ll moan on my 300th birthday. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”
33 things I’d like to do in my 33rd year
- Finish that app I’ve been working on
- Swim with sharks
- Become confident using my camera in full manual and overall improve my photography
- Go somewhere I’ve never been (city, state, country…I’m open! A new restaurant or grocery store does not count.)
- Become more comfortable with having my picture taken
- Fill a sketchbook from front to back. Not necessarily good sketches or things I’d want to show people, but make the time to draw.
- Float in a sensory deprivation tank
- Hike in the Olympic rainforest
- Make myself and Jason an awesome Halloween costume
- Feast at Camlann Medieval Village
- Have a lifecast made of my face so I can…
- Learn to make foam appliances
- Visit the dinosaur town with volcano toilets
- Hike to Diablo Lake
- Check out an actual ghost town
- Run a 5k
- Plant a tree
- Try an average of one new recipe a week to avoid boredom and advance my cooking skills
- Achieve my ideal weight
- Fly in a hot air balloon
- Learn a new language or take my Chinese or Spanish from utterly pathetic from disuse to closer to fluency
- Take a hike before dawn that ends with a spectacular viewpoint for the sunrise
- Dye my hair a fun color
- Indoor skydiving (baby steps!)
- Go river tubing
- Get to the point where I can hold a freestanding handstand
- Throw a party that doesn’t revolve around movie-watching (I love B&G&P&P but it’s a very passive kind of party and it feels like the only kind I’ve had recently)
- Go to Tillicum Village
- Go to Cape Disappointment
- Go horseback riding on Orcas Island
- Have afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress
- Go on the Elk bugling tour at NW Trek
- Go to Viking Fest
I’m already excited!
This might be the only time in the history of the world where someone has thought “YES! I’m glad I hung on to that taco costume.” When my prop closet explodes and the crew of Hoarders comes sniffing around, I’m going to use this photo to justify my collection.
Escondido’s Grape Day Park wouldn’t be the same without its unique playground, dubbed “Vinehenge” by the creators. Sprawling vines are designed to climb and swing upon, mosaic leaves rise up from the ground to form the cutest seats, and a slide is encased in a bunch of vibrant purple grapes. I wondered how the heck I missed this when I worked in Escondido, and as it turns out, the installation was put in place in 2004, six months after I moved out of the area. It’s always fun to see unique playgrounds, especially since so many old, cool structures are being torn down across the country. I vividly remember the playground in my hometown with the huge metal swirly slide that would burn the backs of your legs in the summer sun, and the giant spinning wooden hamster wheel of danger–I don’t think either are there anymore, but I could be wrong. Then again, it’s good that some of these death traps are no longer in action, because the only people who should be pirouetting on a metal barrel that rotates around a metal pole are already in Cirque du Soleil.
Spotted on North Broadway in Escondido, CA.
It’s a food rule that putting two delicious foods together results in a superfood that’s slightly more than twice as delicious. Cheese and burgers? Check. A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla? Check. A spicy chicken strip rolled up in a pizza slice? Ok, maybe that was invented just now, but the point is that two great tastes together taste even greater. Some
monstergenius has taken this to the next level and deep-fried bacon-wrapped Oreos.
Pros: It’s bacon, it’s oreos, it’s deep-fried, what’s not to like? Bacon bacon bacon!
Cons: The bacon and frying process may overwhelm the stuf, which is integral to the oreo experience, and may in fact be the best part of the oreo experience. Deep frying, sadly, does not always make foods tastier. They just plain do not look appetizing and you eat with your eyes first, especially desserts. Bacon fatigue–is there anywhere it won’t wrap its bacony fingers? Is nothing sacred?
I plugged a quarter into their chucklin chicken, and the employee told me I’d need to shake it to get it to work. I took that as an invitation to hulk out and accidentally knocked the chicken right off the top. Whoops! The chicken suffered no lasting harm. My embarrassment has lingered.
Most of the time, a roadside attraction is the business in and of itself. In the case of Mattress Ranch, the roadside attraction was built to support the business. I first drove past Mattress Ranch on my trip to Forks and had intended to stop on my way back, but by then it was too dark for photos and the store was closed. This time, there was an epic backup at the ferry I planned on taking, so in lieu of waiting, I decided to drive around the peninsula instead, the existence of Mattress Ranch tickling the back of my mind. I STILL almost drove right past it again, turning across two lanes of traffic to get into their lot.
After taking photos of the lot, I ventured inside to avail myself of their restroom and see if there was anyone who could answer my questions about the place. As it turned out, one of the employees on site had worked there on and off for the last twenty years and was more than happy to tell me all about the origins of the attraction attached to the store. As it turns out, Mattress Ranch isn’t one store, but a chain of stores in Alaska, Washington, and now Arizona. It feels weird to me to post about a chain store, but then again, this place isn’t exactly Target. Originally, they had a few black and white cows outside, but after the paint started to flake, they decided to spice them up a little, and they haven’t looked back since. Every year, the menagerie out front grows, and so does their commitment to the community, even using 25% of their commercial air time to support charities and other local businesses.
I don’t know what it is about strutting around a mattress factory, waving a fistful of money and talking about his cow of a wife and pig of a daughter in law, but I dig this guy’s vibe. He proves, once again, that local commercials are the best commercials.
I am super pumped for this weekend–it’s the last weekend of the Moisture Festival! Game of Thrones returns! There’s an Easter II feast on Sunday! Plus I just made some homemade butter which practically begs for the buttermilk to be used in some lilac scones. I was hoping to get some time out in the backyard this weekend since I’ll be out of town for the next three and the blackberry bushes are already getting a little too bold in their advancement (let’s just say it won’t be a surprise when they bust through my bedroom window and attempt to strangle me in my sleep), but it’s supposed to be cruddy out so this may be the excuse I was looking for to rent some goats to take care of business for me.
Speaking of upcoming trips, I’ve got a short jaunt to Portland in the works and a longer one to Hawaii, so I should have some good stories to share soon. There are already tentative plans in the works for insect eating and ghost teasing, both of which I’m sure will go swimmingly and not at all like last time.
I’ve also been catching up on The Walking Dead this week, which means that my zombie burnout has come to an end, at least in this instance. No spoilers here, but it makes me laugh that Judith always looks like she’s confused and angry to be growing up in a world without Cheerios and animal crackers. I’ve also come to realize how profoundly irritating loudly chewed gum can be.
Also on my TV recently: Face Off Season 8. I called Emily Serpico as the winner in episode one, so it was exciting to see her make it to the finale this week. Everyone left is a talented artist, though, and at this point, I think they’re all deserving of the prize. It’s been especially gratifying to see a bunch of women kicking ass and taking names this season, since I’ve complained before about men dominating the positions of authority. No matter who wins, I’m so glad that Face Off has stopped the “not here to make friends” format. I haven’t watched most of the seasons because of the typical backstabbing present in the earliest seasons, and I didn’t think it served the artists to trash their reputation before they ever made it into the SFX industry–it’s so small, and it’s hard enough to get work (much less paying work) without someone thinking you’re difficult or obnoxious. The only aspect of this season I’d call a swing and a miss is the “coaches/team” aspect. Yes, the coaches are there for guidance, but it’s not quite clear what the coach gets out of participating, and whenever they’re on camera, it’s generally worrying about how one of their team members doing poorly might affect them personally. I’m just not feeling it.
In my kitchen this week: gyro lettuce wraps and animal style in and out in a bowl. I’ve been doing the low carb thing six days a week for a few months and it’s working out well for me–I’m fitting into my smaller pants and I don’t feel deprived, and those are both good things.
On my nightstand/in my Kindle:
Mothers Who Can’t Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters – This book is a tough read, but it’s been helpful for me to come to terms with an aspect of my past that has had a long-lasting impact on my life and personality. I’m sure that it’s something I’ll keep referring back to, and if you have a strained/difficult/nonexistent/toxic relationship with your mother, you may find it helpful as well.
Bad Trips – I’ve been looking for travel writers I like outside of Bill Bryson, and now that I’m 75% of the way through this book, I’m fairly confident that I won’t be finding what I’m looking for here. They’re all such twats! There’s a guy whose bad trip was actually a good trip for him, it’s just that a woman he met during his journey was raped twice in short order, and he wondered if she hadn’t been able to shake it off and have a good trip like him that it would have been some fault in her upbringing instead of, you know, the trauma of having been raped at knifepoint twice. There’s a made up story about a tour group going on ‘safari’ to Central Park to watch a woman getting sexually assaulted and blaming her for her own assault. There’s a piece by Umberto Eco complaining that a hotel isn’t decorated to his taste. There are a few pieces where people merely imagine what a bad trip would be like, namely concerning doing the sorts of activities that your average tourist engages in and you already know that I loathe that sort of elitism. I’m finishing it out of stubbornness.
The Queen of the Tearling – I picked this one up mainly because I saw that it was being made into a movie starring Emma Watson, and I wanted to be in on the hype loop for once instead of wondering why everyone is so pumped for a movie I’ve never heard of. I’m really torn on this one–I read through it in two days, and while I was reading it, I was 100% sucked in, but now that I’ve finished it, I have no desire to read the next book in the series. Even with its interesting setting (a return to medieval structure postdating our current technological society, in a place where magic is a thing), the characters and the storyline just felt too familiar. Plus, with the chapter intros being excerpts from books written about the main character at a future date, there’s not really any question as to whether she will prevail.
Mr Mercedes: A Novel – I love me some Stephen King, and it was refreshing to see him go for a detective novel rather than supernatural horror. This is another book that I cracked through in a day or two. It’s fast-paced, deeply engaging, and I only wish that King wasn’t so comfortable with the n-word. I’ll be glad to see those same characters come back in Finders Keepers.
Too Fat For Europe – This is a self-published work by a friend of a friend, and is generally enjoyable. It reads like a long-form blog entry, though, and it could use the strong hand of an editor in a number of ways. If it were up to me, I’d also axe the photos entirely or swap them for illustrations. Granted, I have one of the older, cheaper Kindles which may be a contributing cause, but the photos are so muddy and don’t add anything to the experience.
What are you up to? Any weekend plans? What’s on your plate–food, books, or otherwise?
As I’ve mentioned before, Jason is the WORST to shop for, because everything he really wants, he buys for himself. This past Christmas, we’d already discussed that we didn’t want to spend a ton of money on gifts because it’s so easy to get caught up in an exponential increase in spending each year to try and top the previous year’s gifts. Let’s face it: we all have spending limits and less than an infinite amount of room for stuff.
I brainstormed for a while and decided that it would be really fun to make him a board game. We both have had a lot of fun playing board games together, but we’d had a bad string recently of games he bought that I hated. Mostly the sort with gigantic instruction manuals that you have to reference constantly throughout your turn, twelve different kinds of tokens to keep track of, and completely different rulesets for different players, so we’d be competing against one another and ultimately I’d lose because of something in the rulebook I hadn’t seen and then I’d be unreasonably pissed off for hours afterward. Ugh, kill me now. So I knew that I wanted to make a game with a simple ruleset where we worked cooperatively. Something fun, reminiscent of games we’d played as kids, easy to pick up and play, with a cute theme. We’d tried to go see Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 on our honeymoon with disastrous results, but saw it later and loved it, so I decided to infringe the hell out of their copyright for my personal enjoyment and made Save The FLDSMDFR.
The object of the game is to reach the FLDSMDFR with one of the foodimals before Chester V arrives and takes it for himself. Players control their own foodimal and take turns moving Chester V, rolling a die and following the instructions on the board, having to land on the final rainbow space with an exact count. Should a foodimal and Chester V end up on the same square, there is a struggle determined by the roll of a die, the loser of which goes back to the starting square–in the event of a tie, both figures stay put. Between the struggle mechanism and various board features (which includes slides that move both ways), there’s a lot of back and forth in the game, and it’s generally anyone’s game up until the very end.
Jason and I have been enjoying playing so much that I ended up making him an expansion pack of foodimals for his birthday!
This past Saturday was International Pillow Fight Day, a day to gather with your fellow humans and pummel the hell out of each other. Like the Seattle Cardboard Tube Duels, the mayhem went down in Cal Anderson Park. The rules were simple: bring your own pillow, and try not to hit anyone with a camera. Face shots? Acceptable. Groin shots? Acceptable. Ganging up on Pikachu? Acceptable. Unlike the cardboard tube fight, the kids were super into pillow fighting. I saw one girl run by, her face twisted with concentration, screaming “GET HIM!” with almost primal fury. It was like Lord of the Flies out there.
I split my time between taking photos and engaging in tactical pillow warfare. It was a strangely uplifting experience, raining blows down upon others and having them returned in kind. There was a lot of concern before the event about the post-battle cleanup, but from what I saw, the pillows held up really well so there wasn’t much to clean up. And all of the pillows in good shape were donated to Compass Housing Alliance afterward!