Saturday, April 29, 2006

Grab Your PFD - We're Going Kayaking

You try NOT feeling funky while listening to “Use Me” by Aaron Neville. Can’t be done. Sorry. My intention was to write about my kayaking experience this morning, but I can’t think with this song playing. Try NOT twitching when he sings “baby” (or more accurately, “babeh”) and the organ hits that “bap” note: Babeh – bap – babeh – bap – babeh, babeh, when you love me I can't get enough... see, you’re twitching, aren’t you? Well, you should be.

Okay, say you own a kayak shop that does, I’m guessing, pretty good business here in the PNW, the land of really, really seriously recreationally outdoorsy people. But you think to yourself, “how can I drum up more business? How can I convince more people to take up kayaking and then consequently need a kayak and consequently buy my kayaks?

Well, if you are Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe, you line up all your kayaks and canoes on the beach of a local lake and then invite the Public (and when I say the Public, you can picture them, right?) to come down and take any of them out for a spin, no questions asked, other than “did you sign the waiver?”.

No questions like “do you know how to steer this two thousand dollar kayak?” or “are you currently on any psychotropic drugs?” Just “here’s a paddle. I’ll give you a push.”

It really has to be seen to be believed. Yes, we witnessed some mild mayhem. Some folks left wetter than they began.

We took a half-hour class (not required, mind you) on how to put on our PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices for the uninitiated), get in the kayak, hold the paddle, take a stroke and turn. Then we started jumping in kayaks and slipping into the lake. Luckily, I learned enough in the class to maneuver around the fifty members of the Public with less experience than me (said experience consisting of the previously mentioned half-hour) attempting to sample similar kayaks in the exact same square foot of the lake which I was currently using. I seemed to always be in the most desirable portion of the lake. That’s me. Trend setter.

Of course, we are both convinced that we need kayaks to go with our road bikes, mountain bikes, time trial bikes, surfboards, dirt bike, in-line skates (dusty), horse shoes (no one will play with me – I think they are chicken), hiking shoes, and track bikes.

Drew is excited. He loves anything that involves expensive equipment and any kind of propulsion. You would think working with $800,000 fire engines would keep that urge down to a low simmer, but I think the operative word in that phrase is “working.”

Speaking of which, Captain A is back at work. Yes, he took time off this morning so he could accompany me to the kayak event. Captain is serious about recreation. I guess that’s why we live in the PNW.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Talk Scottish To Me

I really, really want to move to Scotland. No, I’ve never been there, but it must be the finest place in the world, because everybody sounds like Craig Ferguson. I have a bit of a thing for Craig Ferguson. No, NO, I just like to hear him talk. There’s just something jolly and warm about a Scottish accent. I imagine hearing those broguish tones coming out of everyone I meet, and I’m ready to start packing.

I suppose thinking that Scotland is full of Craig Fergusons is a bit like thinking that the US is full of Johnny Carsons – jolly, witty, well-read lives-of-the-party with honey-smooth voices. Well, if it's not true, if maybe a few of them look and sound a little more like Liam Neeson in Rob Roy, well, that will just be my cross to bare… I mean bear…

You know how fine ye arrr ta me, laddie? Yeah, you, the one in the “Old School” t-shirt…

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sun's Out. Let's Go Crazy.

Yesterday was my favorite day of the year. You never know when it’s going to come, but you know it when you see it. That, here in the PNW (Pacific Northwest for those outside the zone), is the first real sunny day of the season. I suppose they have those everywhere in the temperate zone, but here in the PNW it’s particularly intense, because although we do not have particularly frigid winters, they are without a doubt the most depressingly damp in the known universe, and that’s counting London.

The first sunny day is always, always too chilly for shorts, which makes it even more endearing to see all our fellow Oregon/Washingtonians out in their Bermudas and sandals and goose bumps, soaking it in with gusto.

Back in the day, I felt right at home amongst the whiteys with their winter-whitened limbs hanging gracelessly out of their shorts, and the bikini-clad college students littering every grassy knoll on the University of Oregon campus like they had been sucked up by one of those forest fire water-tanker planes from some lake where they had been swimming and sprayed over the lawn in an attempt to stop the spread of some unseen lawn fire.

These days everybody spends the winter in tanning salons just waiting for this day. That leaves me at a distinct advantage, as I am banned from tanning salons by…well, by common sense. I am the whitest person I know. That used to mean something around here. Now it just means that I am a reverse rebel. Kind of like having no tattoos. But uglier.

Captain A and I chose to spend the day on a hike, going from the Columbia Gorge floor to a rocky ridge about 1,500 feet above it. The wildflowers were blooming, the forest smelled piney and pregnant with spring green, and the natives were restlessly hiking up and down the path. Luckily, it’s a long path, and even in the Portland area, there aren’t enough people with the aerobic capacity to climb for 90 minutes without several cardiac mishaps to make the many hiking trails around here feel crowded, so it was nice.

Meanwhile, up the road at Multnomah Falls where no effort is necessary to witness nature showing off its good side, there was a traffic jam of somewhat larger-sized northwesterners enjoying the waterfall and the smell of fried foods wafting from the snack bar. (What? What “healthier than thou” attitude? I will take my superiority where I can find it, fella.)

My memories of the hike:

  • Lots of unleashed dogs (no, Harvey, come here, no, come here, come, Harvey. HARVEY!).

  • The dogs included many labs, a couple cattle dogs, one depressed Viszla, one Chihuahua, and as many as three Pomeranians. Who knew Pomeranians were such avid hikers. The dogs, not Europians from the regions of Germany and Poland bordering the Baltic Sea.

  • Earworms included Heart’s “Dog & Butterfly” (because there were dogs and butterflies), Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” (because I recently watched the Starsky & Hutch movie, in which it made a smarmy appearance, I suppose in order to place the viewer in the one year in history in which you were legally allowed to play such a song on a top-forty radio station), whoever-the-hell’s “In the Year 2525,” because I was recently reminded of that crime of music by Dave Barry, and “Macarthur Park.” I’m going to have to blame Barry for that one too.

  • Killer view at the top. But in spite of the trail’s name (Angel’s Rest), I saw no resting angels. This time.

  • A nice after-hike dinner in Hood River at 6th Street Bistro. I know, we weren’t even close to Hood River, but it’s a nice town to hang out in, especially after doing something outdoorsy.

  • Drew’s backpack-style water thingy, which requires the user to suck water out of a tube. The end of this particular tube is really rubbery and squishy. The whole thing was way too bovine for my taste.

  • I appreciate Drew taking up hiking like this. If not for me, he would have been happier on his bike (pedal or motor) on a day like that. That’s what friends are for, I guess. At least the good ones. The lifers.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Items of Interest


I bought two pairs of Dockers today.

Bite me. They fit.


I saw a squirrel fall out of a tree yesterday. Yes, onto his back, and then get up and scramble back into the tree. No sign of evil tree-pushing squirrels, and it's not mating season when they are all insane. He seemed to have accomplished it all by himself. Beat that.


My dog tripped me while running this morning, and now I have to walk around for a week with a big scab on my chin. I have got to teach him some manners before he kills us both. I know he knows what he's supposed to do because I got up, screaming mad, yelled at him for being an ass, and turned around for home. Whilst walking home, he heeled like he was in an obedience competition. I think that might have just made me angrier.


I also bought two boxes of See's dark chocolate peppermint candies today. Hands off. They are chin scab medicine.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Can't Help It 2: The Tongue of Adorableness

Now, why would Capt. America want to keep me from having one of these? Why? Is there anything more smooshy?

I stole this from

I can't help it.

I'm supposed to be on blog-strike, but I cannot stop myself from posting these pictures.

These were taken at the Pig Olympics in Moscow. Really.

And no, these beauties will not be tomorrow's bacon. Here's a real quote: "They go on to produce a new generation of sport pigs. They don't get eaten," said Alexei Sharshkov, vice-president of the Sport-Pig Federation (really. I know - awesome name). "How could you eat a competitor who is known around the world?" How true.

Here's another juicy quote from the article, thanks to the entrepid BBC News: "Each pig, dressed in a numbered bib, was carried squealing into the arena for each event."

These are my people.

I feel all squealy just thinking about it.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Going for a Record

Hey, let's see if I can make it five posts in a row so completely uninteresting that they elicit no comments at all!

See, there's fun to be had, even in failure!

Hmmm, maybe I should go by the name Eeyore...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Yesterday's Score: Dean 1, Death 0

My son cheated Death yesterday.

I’m sure he wishes that he hadn’t teased it quite so hard, because it did leave him with multiple bruises and a cracked rib.

What my son is now, is a walking (thank-you, thank-you) advertisement for seat belt use, because that (and the now permanently crumpled crumple zone on Jenny’s little Civic) is all that stood between him and a rather pointy and solid cement highway median.

You know those medians that stand between divided highways, the ones where you are meant to choose to either miss it on the left or miss it on the right? That is, unfortunately, where Dean’s overworked body and brain decided to call it an early night and take a nap, leaving Jenny’s car traveling at ramming speed straight ahead.

There’s nothing like a hurt child (well, he’s my child – offspring if you must) to push you out of your comfort zone. I drove to the hospital in downtown Portland (of course, I first had to print out map-it instructions even though I’ve been there many, many times as a passenger), follow Dean into the exam room so that somebody besides a stunned accident victim would hear any diagnoses and/or instructions, and then drive Dean and Jenny to the closest 24-hour pharmacy that ended up being, like, 20 miles away somewhere in Nofe-east, then drive them home, and then find my way back to the highway without map-it directions (I actually had printed map-it directions from the hospital back to my house, but those turned out to be unusable. I only took one wrong turn, which required several correcting turns.)

That, of course, is all easier than waking up in a car that is several feet shorter than it was the last time you checked, with an abrasion that looks like someone tried to tattoo a seatbelt onto your chest, and shards of your CD collection in your shoes.

Thanks to Honda, for making excellent crumple zones, even on their cheap models. Thanks to Jenny, for continuing our “put your seat belt on” mantra, because, up to now, it has never come naturally to Dean. Thanks to God, Jesus, the Greater Power, Allah, the Buddha, Zeus, Odin, Isis, Krishna, and the Great Lobster. I owe you one.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Annie Queen of Scots and Scots - a love story

The toddler-dog has managed to survive his first three months at Casa McTracy. Here are some tidbits of news:

Scotty has developed an obsession with bird poop that requires him to pee on every sidewalk splat. This is not all bad, in that it slows him down somewhat.

He has also developed a technique of running with all four feet ahead of his nose, in order to keep them from being nipped by Annie while playing keep-away. I will attempt to catch it with my still camera one of these days, because it is f*cking funny.

I must also capture the look on Annie's face while she is humping Scotty. I know the books say it is all about domination, but if you could see the look on her face, you know it must feel gooooood.

Scotty has been forgiven for breaking almost all of my prized Japanese glass fishing floats the first time we left them in the house alone. They must have been having some kind of wild party in the dining room to be able to knock them out of a big-ass basket on a table with such force that they shattered on deep shag carpet. However, the dogs are now banned to the sunroom whenever we leave the house.

They have developed a system of chewing rawhide wherein they chew their own piece for awhile, then Scotty stands up, barks once, and they switch pieces. This goes on every ten minutes or so until one of the rawhide pieces is gone, and then all hell breaks loose over the last one. It seems to work for them.

Scotty likes to play catch. Annie does too, but can't keep up with Scotty, so she just ends up assaulting him mercilessly. Scotty will continue playing with Annie attached by her teeth to some part of his body, until she finally tackles him and grabs him by the throat (okay, large mass of hair in the vicinity of his throat), at which time he rolls over on his back and appears to revel in the beating. Oddly enough, if we invite Scotty to play catch when Annie is not around, he will go looking for her and make her join him. If she won't, he loses interest. Go figure.

In the evenings, when we are curled up in the living room, I am a little less likely now to pad into the kitchen for a little something-something, because every time I get up Scotty jumps up, like, "yay, where are we going to now, boss?" and I have to explain to him that I am getting something for myself, and uh...not for him. Sorry. Get back! And so on. And then it takes him another 20 minutes to relax and curl back up. Geez. All that for a fun-size York peppermint patty.

Collies generally are not aware that their noses continue a good half-foot beyond their eyes. A nice long nose is good planning if you need to keep the old grey matter intact whilst nipping kicky cows and sheep in the pasture, but tends to make them appear much less graceful in an indoor environment. They are always whacking their noses on kitchen corners and walls. It makes for some free entertainment (not counting food, fencing and vet bills, I guess), but I sometimes wonder if they get little bruises on their shnouts under all that hair...