Monday, July 31, 2006


It's garbage day, Frozen Pizza Boy.

The Day I Read a Book

Jimmy Durante sings my intro today:

I'll never forget the day I read a book;
It was contagious;
Seventy pages;
There were pictures here and there;
So it wasn't hard to bear;
The day I read a book.

Thank you, Jimmy.

Yes, I read a whole book today. Instead of working on my painting or finishing the top-down kitchen cleaning that I started this morning, I played serious hooky with a booky. And yes, it took me all afternoon. I'm a slow reader. But jolly. Okay, I'm not jolly.

Recommended fun light summer reading: Lord Vishnu's Love Handles by Will Clarke.

Tomorrow it's back to work.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lost Weekend

Well, lost to painting on a ridiculously big canvas. Man, that baby sucks up the paint. Tubes are being squeezed and discarded like (do NOT go there! NO altar boy references!) lemons at a lemonade stand (whew!).

A photo is all I can offer you for now. No, I don't remember where I got it, and I don't know what it means. Just savor.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Question and Answer Time, Part 1

Curious Reader: Hey Piglet, should I wrap leftover frozen pizza in foil and put it in the refrigerator?

Piglet: Certainly, Curious Reader, if you have too much aluminum foil on your hands and want me to throw that away along with that nasty leftover frozen pizza.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Somehow we have encouraged this.

This is the sort of havoc that ensues at, say, 50% of Keirin races. This particular havoc courtesy of the 2004 Olympics.
This is the sort of padding Keirin racers wear in Japan, where it is the number one betting sport. They wear padding because the object of the game is to come across the finish line first at all costs, if you get my drift. Costs may include skin and/or bones.
These are the crowds they get at Japanese Keirin races.

Dean won the Oregon State championship Keirin race today at the fabled Alpenrose Velodrome. I'm going to guess that the crowd was not quite that size. I'm having to guess because if I had gone out to watch, my skin would have melted from the sun and, from all accounts, my stomach would have succeeded in escaping my body in fright.

But he still has all his skin and bones. And a new jersey.

How Hot Was It?

It's hot. So Hot.

The dogs beg for ice cubes.

I woke up this morning after leaving every window open all night with fans going full blast, and the hallway thermometer said 80 degrees. That's right. 80 in the morning. It's only uphill from here.

If, following this heat wave, you find my rotting, stinking corpse becoming one with the melting nylon of the rug, please eulogize me as an undiscovered talent. I don't care which one. Pick disco dancing or finding lost objects. Whatever.

Don't worry about me. I'll be fine...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Of Mice and Old Men.

I could write a post about the fact that the Captain completely disassembled this desk in a vain attempt to fix the mouse. (What???? I know!)

I could guess that maybe the Captain was unable to get his ape-like hands into the small spaces in the back of the desk to, I don't know, jiggle a cable that looked particularly purple-colored in an attempt to heal the mouse, and thus leave the desk parts scattered throughout the room. (Don't worry - as a tech rescue truckie ape, he will take this all as an elaborate compliment.)

I could write about the fact that, when I learned that the mouse was dead and found the desk in pieces, I cleaned the mouse and had it back in working order in about 30 seconds.

But I won't.

I will instead concentrate my wrath upon Dean for making us deep-fry in an outdoor stadium which, inexplicably for an outdoor venue, had less air in it then a Tupperware container, on the hottest, muggiest day of the year.

I would heap some wrath upon him if I had any. Actually, and again inexplicably for me and my insistence upon comfort above all else, I had a good time. Even more inexplicably if you count the fact that the match ended badly for our side.

The Portland Timbers soccer team were playing their bitter, bitter rivals, the Seattle Sounders (I assume they named themselves after the large body of water that shelters Seattle from the Pacific Ocean and not the rabid dog). Portland and Seattle have a long history of bitter rivalry, unfortunately one that often ends with Portland being given a rough hug full of noogies by its bigger, richer brother who has a cool car. But we feebly fight on, as only a little brother can do. Because we're wiry, and our brother's girlfriends think we're adorable. Sorry, where was I?

Oh, a soccer game in an outdoor stadium on a 103 degree day with no wind and lots of humidity, which we are completely ill-equipped to deal with here in the PNW. Here are some thoughts.

The Portland Timbers "fan club," or more accurately, "drinking club," have some rather colorful, if by colorful, I mean evil and depraved "cheers." If there is such a thing as cheerfully mean-spirited, that's what they are. From a distance, they look to be having a good time. However, if they are anything like drunk college football fans, they are to be kept at a distance.

The Portland Timbers probably have the only mascot in sports who is of retirement age, with a beer gut, a scraggly grey beard, and a chainsaw that he revs like a leather-faced massacre-er to the delight of the fans.

Your average stadium seat does not necessarily hold your average American ass these days. Luckily (with a few uncomfortable exceptions), soccer doesn't seem to be a big draw for the girth-challenged.

Speaking of the girth-challenged: it's no big surprise that America is all fatted up. We stopped at a nearby Mexican restaurant for pre-game sustenance and air conditioning, and my dinner came on a plate the size of a backyard wading pool.

On the hottest day of the year, Dean bought a knit scarf, because he sorely needed one. Obvy. I told him how I used to take a gauze scarf, wet it down, arrange it around my head and neck fetchingly, and then drive my no-AC car home from work in my old Vacaville days, so he wetted his scarf down and tried it out. Unfortunately, it worked less like a cooling device and more like a wet blanket.

Drew to Dean, whose head is wrapped in a wet scarf: Is that cool?
Dean: If by "cool," you mean, "awesome."

Jenny's foot hurt because she recently had two warts removed. I think their names were Gary and Emanuela Guatemala (or something). Apparently, they had become part of the family.

I brought a spray bottle of water, which allowed me not only to survive, but also to annoy those seated around me. Without it, I would have perished.

I get extra points for not being particularly irritated at the boys sitting behind us, whose witless parents had bought them huge, 3-foot-long horn-like noise makers and then continued to say "Okay, stop that now," but without really meaning it, or inflicting any long-term damage, like I would have. Luckily, the noise that the boys were able to make with the horns sounded more like dismayed guernsey cows then honks, so that was more entertaining than irksome.

The halftime show consisted of a sausage (yes, sausage) eating contest held by a particularly odious local pretend-English pub. With any luck, they learned that (a) you don't pick random dudes out of the crowd to engage in competitive eating. They may find it more entertaining to throw the sausages. (b) You offer them a prize they want to win, instead of more of the same food. (c) You pick a less hostile audience. (d) You don't use sausages.

The refs sucked.

Oh, but there was a line judge who was like 80, and so intent on doing the very best job, never running alongside the pitch when he should be doing a little jumping-jack maneuver that kept his full body focused on the play and not just his eyes. So cute with his little flag. I was a little concerned for him, because I was just trying to keep from fainting while seated, and here he was, with his tufts of wispy white hair flying about as he scissor-stepped his way up and down the pitch, never taking his eyes off the ball for as much as a sip of water.

I am humbled, sir.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Oh. My. God.

What a stage at the Tour de Frenchies today! Damned if Floyd Landis didn't grunt back into contention with a ridiculously hard ride, taking back all but a whisker of the nine minutes he lost yesterday when he pooped up the mountains like he exchanged legs with me for a day. What???? True!!!

And look at that face! It is the face of 2006, my friends. Beauty-free, but guts-rich.

Update: according to Dean, Landis slaughtered his foes, made a new bike from their bones, and rode it to victory in a pillar of white light.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Can't Talk. Painting.

Trying to write while painting is like Oscar Pereiro (wearing the Tour de France yellow jersey today after the Mighty Mennonite, Floyd Landis, had a nuclear meltdown and struggled in nine minutes behind) trying to answer journalists' questions in English ("I...[unintelligible]...go faster...[unintelligible garble]...zen I hear...Floyd garble garble...[long pause]...[unintelligible] yallow jersey...sank you").

So as a consolation (or celebration) prize, here is a picture of sweet, dainty little Annie putting the smack down on her loyal subject for looking at her funny.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lance is out. Noses are in.

This is Sergey Honchar getting a smooch after winning a stage of the Tour de France.
This is Pierrick Fedrigo after winning Sunday's stage of the Tour de France.

Apparently, the key to a successful Tour de France this year is having an aerodynamic schnozz.

The more unfortunate faces have had it up to here with the riders with the rock star looks and are sending them to the back of the pack. The coup has begun. Get out of the way. The noses are on the march. And they can smell you from there.

Sorry, George. I was so hoping this was going to be your year.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hire Me As A Wedding Planner. You Like Tacos?

Today we participated in the search for the perfect wedding venue for my son and his fiancĂ©e. If you are not currently up on the little worldlet that is the wedding industry, let me tell you, it is a jungle out there, and it’s every bride for herself. Luckily, I feel that our roles as parents of the groom are secondary, because this world scares the shit out of me.

We visited Edgefield, a hotel/restaurant/golf course/pub/whiskey distillery/winery/small concert venue outside of Portland. Today (Sunday) they had three weddings in progress and a tour bus stop whose patrons seemed to be bent on consuming vast amounts of beverages before re-embarking, or whatever one must to do to hoist oneself back up on that bus after guzzling ones body weight in Hammerhead Stout.

Turns out that for a mere $6,500 minimum food and beverage tab, one of their rather smallish wedding/reception venues could be ours (does not include mandatory gratuity, chair rental, arbor rental, outdoor table rental, florist, photographer, decorations, or any guarantee that your wedding party will not grow to include future bus patrons who wander through).

Actually, it turns out that every single Saturday is booked for 2007, including every Saturday in September 2007, a mere year and a quarter away (what were we thinking?), but, hey, there’s still one Sunday and one Friday open. That seems to be the case at all the local wedding joints. They are crazy expensive, and yet already booked up anyway.

Makes that idea of having the reception in the Captain’s union hall seem a little less skuzzy, now, doesn’t it? (I have to interject here and tell you that Word just corrected my spelling of skuzzy. I guess it’s spelled with a “k” and not a “c”. Now you know.)

It would be tough to be a bride in these trying times.

Why, I remember, back in the day, the Captain and I started making fast friends with the pastor of the cutest church in town when we started thinking about making it legal, and by the time we set a date, we had the run of the church and its dining hall for the cost of our sweet, sweet company. We decorated with ivy we picked from a neighbor’s yard who was happy to see it go, and the reception was pot luck. Of course, that was in a simpler time and a much simpler place.

If I had to get married today, I would break the union hall wide open, hook up my iPod playlist to somebody’s geeky sound system, have it catered by Baja Fresh and Argyle Champagne (from Dundee, Oregon, wine capital of the world), and wear a dress I can dance in. Maybe a skort.

Or I would get married at the Inn at Spanish Head, which looks out over the ocean (but is indoors, because you can’t trust the beach to give you a sunny day when you need one).

Or I would go to Las Vegas…nah, I don’t like Las Vegas. But I would definitely go to Virginia City and get married in the old Opera House. Or the Bucket of Blood saloon. Whichever.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What I Learned at AVC This Year

Lizadies and gizentlemen, I give you the lazy person’s writing style: the bullet list. Here are the things I learned at the Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge (the AVC) this weekend, where track riders from all over the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Dean’s apartment, and probably some other places, came to race and pick up some sweet prize money:

  • My son is a vicious pirate.
  • He is the one in orange behind the hippo-sized cheetah that is Stephen Alfred.

  • I have no idea where all that aggression comes from – certainly not from a little parental teasing in his past (“Ha – ha! He believed me when I told him the car runs on hamster power! He’s so gullible!” “I’m not gullible. I’m four!”).

  • The fact that the rest of the sprinters at the AVC outweighed him by about half did not impress him in the least.

  • It was no 88 degrees out there. It was more like ninetyleven. In the meager shade of our shade tent.

  • Our meager shade made us quite popular at times.

  • Alcohol is prohibited at the Alpenrose Sports Complex and Dairy (really), although you can drink as much milk as you like.

  • However, they do not inspect your sports bottles to make sure that it’s Gatorade in there.

  • I hate it when I realize that I have screamed. It’s so undignified. But understandable when your son decides that the best way around a tight-knit bunch of thunder-thighed bruisers going 35 mph on bikes with no brakes is through the middle.

  • Stephen Alfred, a member of the US Olympic team and most recently, a gold medal winner in the 2006 Pan Am Games, still owns the AVC. Luckily, he is a gracious and kind, though unmerciful proprietor.

  • Give Dean (the Celtic Ninja Pirate) a year or two and some really, really hard training, and he might get Stephen to hand over the keys.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Notes de le Tour and all thingies Bicyclette

  • Robbie McEwen is a magic elf.
  • Al Trautwig just used the "word" aerodynamicism. He must be eliminated.
  • Floyd Landis, whatever they are paying you, it isn't enough to be seen in those silly-ass sunglasses.
  • Hear me and believe me later. George Hincapie will win the Tour. Unless his handlebars come off again. Two words: duct tape.
  • The annual Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge is this weekend. Dean will be hurling himself around the Steepest Velodrome In The Country against Very Large Animals. I have been training for the weekend by wearing an underwire bra for two days in a row. It doesn't quite deliver the same level of nausea and angst as watching the racing, but it comes close. Similarly, taking it off is almost as good as watching a winning sprint. (Hands up in victory and jump up and down! Yay!).
  • See you at the AVC.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day

We are empty-nesters again. The time just flew by, this time around. It seemed like just yesterday they were little blobs of pink downy goo, when in actuality, it took, like, two weeks.

One day in May, I stepped out the front door to find a pile of dry grass, twigs, and moss bits on the porch underneath the porch light. On higher inspection, I found this doozy of a nest, built exactly to the specs of the top surface of the light fixture, decorated jauntily with overhanging moss and twigs. A tour de force of nest design.

Not looking forward to cleaning the guano off the light for the duration, the Captain lobbied for its removal. How do you think that went? No harm in trying, I guess, but he really had no chance.

The nest stayed, and two little sky-blue eggs followed. Each time we left the house via the front door, there would be a flurry of wings as Mom would take off for the safety of the nearby Japanese maple, and we would listen and look for action.

Fast forward maybe a week or two, and these little blobs popped out while we were entertaining a four-year-old (practically five) and her parents.

Soon, the cement under the nest was littered with cherry pits from nearby trees and the occasional blue stain evidencing certain blueberry theft, and the inevitable whitish stains. Hey, it's nature.

Fast forward a week and a half (I swear! That's all!) and we came home from vacation to these little beaks. How adorable? Hard to quantify. Not quite baby meerkat adorable, but definitely bumping into baby hedgehog territory.

Fast forward another week or two (hey, I have a new DVR and I know how to use it), and they are gone. All growed up. As Mork once said: Fly! Be free! Or, as Helen Hunt once shrieked to little data-collecting bots in that hilarious Tornado movie (it was supposed to be funny, right?): Fly! Fly! Fly! Fliiiiiiiiiiiy!

All that's left is the job of cleaning up after them. I know, so Deja Vu.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Summertime, and the livin' is friggin easy

We moved into this house last fall, so this is my first harvest of our new-to-us blueberry bushes. I picked three containers of this size full of blueberries today, leaving plenty of greenies behind for a second picking.

Hope you like blueberry pancakes. They're on the menu for the next, oh, year.

I've never been much of a fruit preserving type, even though I come from a long line of preserving pros. It just seems that it's such a lot of work, always on the hottest day of the year, for a couple of jars of sweet goo that my college nutrition professor told me had most of the nutritional bonuses cooked out of it. And, although home-cooked jam from Grandma disappears before it ever leaves its sticky mark in my fridge, I find the grocery-store kind quite handy and affordable.

Okay, if I really liked jam, I'm sure I would be in there with the heat and jars and the pectin and whatnot, but to tell you the truth, I'm not a fan. So there you are. It's a matter of pure selfishness that I don't make preserves for my family, because I simply don't care for them. Look at me! I found a new guilt today! What did you find?

4th of July weekend, Annie's least favorite time of year

This is what Scotty looks like after hearing the first firework bangs of a long evening of many more, if one can judge by last night (possible thought process: Doy, dee, doy, doy, doodly do).

This is what Annie looks like. Poor Annie. Laying on cement is bad enough, but less awful than the green scratchy stuff that Scotty lays on. There's probably a bug in it.

And the noise, noise, noise, noise! She can't go on like this.

I'm not giving her those drugs the vet gives her this year. I don't think it keeps her from being panicky. I think it just makes it harder for her to do anything about it. Great for the dog owner. Not so great for the dog.

Luckily, she's taking some of her cues from Scotty, who could not care less about the whiz-bangs. She's trying to be brave, like a queen should be, but it is wearing on her, and it is only the 2nd. Buck up, little Annie! Three more nights to go!