Date Archives May 2014

Spotted on the Roadside: Salem Sue, World’s Largest Holstein Cow

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Salem-Sue

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comparing-hoof-sizeAt 38 feet high and 50 feet long, Salem Sue is certainly impressive! She might want to get her giant veins looked at by a vet, though, they’re pretty gnarly, but that may just be vein jealousy talking since I always get the nurses who stab and stab and wiggle and can’t seem to find mine.

Spotted (and spotted)  in New Salem, North Dakota.

Scenes from Port Townsend, WA

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My dear friends Aisling and Chris got married in Port Townsend, which was an excellent excuse to poke around the town when we weren’t otherwise occupied with festivities. This wasn’t my first trip to Port Townsend, but the last time was a day trip for the Wooden Boat Festival, and I spent the majority of it playing sea captain.

Downtown Port Townsend is cute in a carefully cultivated in order to appeal to tourists way; I can’t envision the locals providing enough business to keep the combination pirate and steampunk store open. Outside of downtown, things get real pretty quickly. Our hotel, booked sight unseen as they were the only one that took online reservations, looked like the spiritual sister to the Breaking Bad hooker motel; we could hear every bump and shuffle in the surrounding rooms, which meant that they, in turn, were treated to my yowling rendition of “Roxanne” every time I turned on the red light in the triangular bathroom.

The rehearsal dinner was at The Pourhouse, and in addition to their great selection of beer, cider, and wine, they have a killer patio and the best policy with regards to food: they encourage you to bring in outside food and/or have food delivered, so you get to pair what you want to pair with your beer instead of being stuck with bar food. It’s a policy I wish more taphouses would adopt! They also allow dogs on the patio, and I was completely taken with a patron’s puppy. I kept sneaking peeks at it from across the patio, and it was almost always looking back at me…and so was its owner, so I suppose I understand why he left because he probably thought I was about to attempt a googly-eyed dognapping. Another delicious Fire and Blood beer and I might have considered it.

Makin Stuff: Giant Squid Pillow

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After reupholstering the kitchen bench with a Squids in Space fabric (how many times can I post the same bench with different fabric and call it content?), I had quite a bit left over, and when I saw the instructions for this giant squid pillow, I knew it was the perfect project for some of the remaining fabric.

It actually takes longer than one might think to sew a giant squid pillow–I spent the better part of two days sewing and stuffing in the living room with Malcolm in the Middle streaming in the background. Frankly, I don’t know why I have a craft room at all, I just go where it’s warm and comfortable-ish and I have a TV at my disposal regardless of where I’m supposed to be dumping all of these works-in-progress.  My squid’s tentacles ended up a bit overstuffed so they’re not as flexible as I’d like, but they’re still good for staging shark (and dog) attacks which may explain why Napoleon lived in terror of this thing for a while.

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For a while.

Napoleon vs Giant Squid

If you’d like to make your own giant squid pillow, the instructions are here.

Masticating with Mellzah: A Burger With Lots of Lettuce

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It’s the exterior of places like Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA,  that draw me in because I’m a sucker for chainsaw carvings and California Raisins, but even the kitschy exterior can’t prepare you for the interior: hundreds (possibly thousands) of marked-up dollar bills are pinned to every surface and hanging from the ceiling. The atmosphere they create is a bit uncomfortable, as even in the bright of the day, the room feels dark, dirty,  and almost claustrophobic. However, we were hungry, and despite the atmosphere, Fat Smitty’s has a reputation for good burgers, so we stayed. We each ordered the Fat Smitty burger, though we should have taken more notice of the giant burger outside and planned on splitting one–when it lands in front of you, it feels like a 1:1 scale replica.

The Tacoma Museum of Glass

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Now that the Chihuly Garden and Glass has been installed at Seattle Center, it seems like Tacoma’s Museum of Glass is being overshadowed, much like Tacoma is by Seattle. Ask anyone who lives Seattle and they’ll tell you about “the aroma of Tacoma” from the paper mills; what they’ll neglect to tell you is that the air actually doesn’t smell anymore. It’s like a game of “he who smelt it dealt it” between cities and the stigma is permanent. It’s unfortunate because Tacoma and this museum have a lot to offer, and yet I know plenty of people who will never go because of zip code snobbery.

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The Museum of Glass houses a permanent collection as well as special exhibits and (what I consider to be the best part), a hot box, where you can watch live glassmaking demonstrations from a team of in-house glass artists as well as invited guests.  We were there while Joe Cariati was visiting (I’m the slack-jawed yokel who asked about getting burned sometime around the 50 minute mark), and were able to watch the team working on a clear and black-striped vase. It was astounding to me how much work and how many people it takes to create one glass item, which is something I’d never considered before when looking at prices on glass art.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis piece is called “You have a coat” which is the opposite of my dog-owning experience: the nastier it is outside, the more likely he is to want to dillydally, sniff everything, and clench his dog buttocks as long as possible.

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I’m torn on this piece: on one hand, it’s beautiful, and on the other, I’m sad a unicorn had to die.

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I really enjoyed the “Look! See?” exhibit by Jen Elek and Jeremy Bert. They had a series of displays that were meant to be touched, worn, and otherwise interacted with, their desire being to encourage visitors to think about how they are marketed to as well as creating an active museum experience: art as something you encounter and not just see.

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You can’t put me in a room with a bunch of light-up moveable letters and not expect me to spell my nickname. Well, maybe you could expect it, but it’s not going to happen.

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On one hand, I love the way this flame vase glows. On the other hand, I don’t have $925, so I will have to stick to appreciating it from afar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like that there’s a little window into this glass bird’s brain, intentional or not.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I will never for one second believe that the nipples on their watermelon boobies are anything other than intentional.

Spotted on the Roadside: A slice of cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee

 

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This is the Double R diner from Twin Peaks, but thanks to a fire that gutted it in 2000, you wouldn’t recognize it. If I owned the place, I’d have capitalized on its connection to the show and restored it instead of the ubiquitous diner faux 50s crap, but I guess pleatherette is cheap and wood isn’t. Maybe I’m expecting too much from a place that was featured on a TV show over twenty years ago. It just seems like they could do more than Twin Peaks mugs and a $2.00 crayon map.

Spotted in North Bend, WA.

 

Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, WA

The title of this post could well be “Guess who got a macro lens?” so don’t say I didn’t warn you when it comes to up close shots of everything from now until forever or I break it, whichever comes first. Just be thankful there’s no way for me to take “up my pores” selfies. We visited the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden during peak bloom season. In addition to their substantial number of rhododendrons, they also maintain a field of Himalayan blue poppies. As luck would have it, we visited on the only day of the year they make them available for purchase to the public. Ultimately, I decided not to purchase any as their care is on the fussy side and I felt the opportunity should go to someone a bit more capable in the garden; this year I’m focusing on killing a number of fruits and vegetables so I’ll save the flowers for someone else. I particularly enjoyed playing bumblebee paparazzi while wandering the extensive trails. While most were busy with their own bumble business, one must have enjoyed the attention as it landed on my upper arm and posed patiently while I taught Jason how to use the camera.

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Bear in a Box in Allyn, WA

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I heard there was a place in Allyn with a ton of chainsaw carvings, but I needed to see it to believe it. When we arrived at Bear in a Box, I still hardly believed it. The smell of freshly-cut cedar is hanging in the air, and there are so many carvings in different stages of completion, it’s hard to take them all in. When we remarked aloud at how great the air smelled, a man called from an elaborately-carved bench “At least you can smell it, I can’t anymore.” We made our way over and met Don Benson, one of the chainsaw artists. He started carving 8 years ago, and made the switch to full-time 6 years ago, carving and teaching classes at Bear in a Box. This year, he took fourth in the national competition in Yreka, CA, with the above carving. We learned that some carvings are done start to finish with saws, and some require a small amount of hand tools–a bit of sanding for a smooth beak, smaller tools for the smallest detail work.

“Anyone can do this, there’s money in it. Start off with bears, people like bears.”

“I think my bear would probably look like a turd with three legs.”

“And people will buy it! When I started, I made these terrible eagles, people would come up to me and say ‘Man, that looks exactly like an eagle’ and I’d laugh because I’ve seen pictures of eagles and they looked nothing like an eagle. But they still sold. Get a saw!”

“I don’t know, I’m a little clumsy…”

“Don’t get a saw. You–you get a saw, don’t let her touch it.”

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Hearthstone Fireside Friends

If you haven’t heard of Hearthstone, it’s a free-to-play collectible card game made by Blizzard. Recently, they released an app so you could play on ipad, and also announced “Fireside Friends” gatherings–official gatherings where people could meet up and play with one another, and those who participated would be given a special card back to show everyone that they have real-life friends. Well, screw that noise. I don’t have a laptop OR an ipad, and since it looks like they won’t be developing a Windows RT app any time soon (or ever, which is a shame, because it would be so much fun to play Hearthstone in my hammock instead of at a desk), I decided to host a Fireside Friends gathering at my house so I could actually play without lugging my PC around like I’m still living in the heyday of the LAN party.

To commemorate this occasion, I made some themed food with modified Hearthstone card labels, because theme parties are my jam and it’s a sad day when I can’t photoshop a joke about balls.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s also not a party without a fart joke.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had never made spring rolls before. They were such a pain that I may never make them again.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are grapes wrapped in goat cheese and toasted pistachios and they are amazing.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was so not lying about having a cotton candy machine.

We had fun, got our card backs, and best of all, we didn’t have to interact with strangers. If you play Hearthstone, add me as a friend! My BattleTag is DrStinkbeard#1437.

Twilight in Forks, WA

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Initially I planned on reading the Twilight books to see how the fictional town of Forks, Washington compared to the actual town of Forks, Washington. I tried, repeatedly. I just can’t do it. I suppose, more accurately, I really, really, really don’t want to do it. Levels of anti-desire equivalent to not wanting to be audited, to not want a spinal tap, to not want to lick a NYC sidewalk. I made it about twenty pages into the first book, taking a break every couple of pages to get up, wander around, get a glass of water, go to the bathroom, let the dog out, paint a room, clean out my closet, dig a hole in the backyard…basically anything I could think of to avoid the task at hand. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m good at avoidance. I’d get my black belt in avoidance but I just can’t seem to find time to make the meeting; I don’t understand why they can’t just mail it to me. They might have, actually, I haven’t checked the mail in a while. The point is, I’ve been on this self-assigned task for something like three years and I still have not made a dent in even one of these damn books. When I admitted as much to Jason, he said, “You didn’t even make it to the werewolf part? I hear that’s where the story really picks up.”

“Do you want to read them and report back?”

“Well…I’ve got some other stuff to do. And I should really read the prequel first: the entire Bible, including the dead sea scrolls and the stuff they only let the pope read. But once I become the pope, my first order of business will be to read the Twilight books, I swear.”

So he was basically no help.

I don’t know if the series gets more complimentary toward the town later on, but the part I read stopped just short of calling it a dismal trash hole full of translucent circus freaks, so it’s all the more sad that Forks has embraced Twilight as its sole identity. Nearly every business I saw offered Twilight souvenirs, banners for Twilight tours were plastered everywhere, and even potted plants were emblazoned with the logo. If you lock yourself out of your car while in Forks, try Jerry’s Lock and Key–and while you’re there, browse their available Twilight souvenirs! Obviously everyone wants to capitalize on the tourism this mania has brought to the town, but as the years pass and Twilight tourism dwindles, having all of this outdated grab for relevance everywhere will only serve to make the town sadder than it was originally.

Forks is literally a two-intersection town, only one with an actual light. Blink and you’ll miss Forks entirely. On each corner of the lighted intersection is a Twilight-related business. On one corner is the Dazzled by Twilight store. On the second, a pharmacy with “Bella’s First Aid Station”. On the third, a hardware store where you can “get your picture taken in Bella’s work vest!” On the fourth, a Native American and Twilight art gallery.

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While I didn’t try on Bella’s work vest or receive Twilight-themed first aid (I know, what sort of half-assed investigative journalism is this?), I did thoroughly check out the Dazzled by Twilight store. I can’t say that I was dazzled, befuddled might be a better word.

Dazzled by Twilight had every piece of Twilight-related merchandise a person could possibly imagine, from shot glasses to license plate frames to vampire-scented soap to creepy dolls to “Edward is my boyfriend” magnets to one-of-a-kind furniture to blacklight underwear. Twilight t-shirts? Check. Twilight posters? Check. Twilight toilet seat covers? Probably, I can’t remember anymore. If it had even a tenuous connection to Twilight, they had it.

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dazzled-by-twilight-leakWhat they didn’t have was working shingles.

creepy-doll-forks-waCreepy doll Jacob, keep your shirt on!

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twilight-art-forks-waI’ve always wanted a table with my favorite book’s title written on it in mixed case in Sharpie, how did you know? The rocks hot glued around the edge really make the piece.

I pressed a penny to mark the occasion, and since Jason and I were both hungry and didn’t want to make the three and a half hour drive back around the peninsula on empty stomachs, we decided to check out the “Dazzled by Twilight” recommended Twilight Lounge and see if they had glitterburgers.

twilight-lounge…oh.

 

We ended up at Sully’s Drive-In a bit further down the road. Inside, the walls were festooned with grease-spattered dusty Twilight posters; their advertised special was the Bella burger, topped with pineapple, which came with a side of fries and plastic vampire fangs. Obviously, we had to order it.

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jasonwithvampirefangs As it turns out, it’s rather difficult to eat a burger with a mouth full of toy vampire fangs, but a milkshake is somewhat manageable.

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Finally, what you’ve been waiting for: Twilight in Forks, WA.

The road to Forks is narrow, twisty (especially around Lake Crescent), and requires your full attention while driving, even in broad daylight. The drive back was terrifying: it was now dark, one of my headlights was out, a thick fog covered the road, and logging trucks paid no attention to the speed limit and grade, screaming by with inches to spare on blind curves. I genuinely believed I was about to die in the ass end of nowhere. Should you feel the desire to take a Twilight trip, definitely plan so you’re back on the road before dark to save yourself some white-knuckle time behind the wheel.

 

I checked the Google Maps streetview and as per their 2013 drive-through, it appears that they’re already starting to pare down the Twilight references; only 3 out of the 4 corners mention Twilight now (apparently the work vest didn’t boost the hardware store’s business as much as they’d hoped, because from what I can see of their windows, it’s evidently gone). The banner proclaiming Forks to be the Twilight capitol of the world is similarly gone. The Dazzled by Twilight store location has been knocked down so they are not properly on the corner anymore, but they’re still close by.