Monday, December 31, 2007

Hat Wearing Kitteh Not Clear on Concept

Dave and Norrene:

Thought you'd like to know that Coco has a new favorite hat to wear. Unfortunately she wears it on the wrong end.

I dare you to take it away from her.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

He's Living the Life

The Littlest Sprinter who is Almost Sure that He Can is alive and well on the other side of the World, celebrating New Years Tasmanian style, which seems to require some degree of liver failure.

He's walking hard.

2007: The Year of Writing Poorly

Thank God! It's time for the lazy journalist's favorite year-end space-waster: the end-of-year retrospective! In this case, a year of mangled sentences that defy the most intrepid grammatician. A year of ivy, weddings, apathy (fanatical and canine), Prius-induced smugness, collie hair, and weather.

Let's get this over with.

01/06/07. In which my diet turns dark: next time I'm coming at you with a kiddie badge, low blood sugar, and a sharpened piece of bok choy, and you're going down.

02/18/07. In which we have that one sunny day in February and we get a little goofy: The sun gets so mobbed by all the sun-starved Pacific Northwesterners, it doesn't come back for four months.

02/21/07. In which I venture to the zoo solo: Today the sun was out, so I TOOK OFF. Actually I worried for an hour about the drive and my gas gauge, left the garage, got about six blocks and wondered how I was going to manage to eat expensive and awful zoo food for lunch, turned around, ate a sandwich, changed my coat (because the first one seemed too, non-zoo-like), and then TOOK OFF.

02/28/07. In which too much TV on Oscar Night produced some unnecessary babble: Penelope Cruz: Why does it take such high tech engineering to make a dress stay on her body? It looks like she's wearing a suspension bridge with feathers…..and …somebody sewed sleeves onto the sides of Naomi Watts' strapless bumblebee outfit. I'm glad she realized they were sleeves and not just odd tubes hanging off the side of her dress at underarm level. Because that would have just been silly.

03/24/07. In which I relive a moment from my less-than-stellar basketball cheerleader career and post a highly entertaining set of Duck basketball pictures contrasting shorts styles over the years: (Oh, hi, Kathi. Hi, Julie. Nice scrunchi. When does the game start? What, this is half time? Oops. Sorry.)

04/27/07. In which I explain the Read To The Dogs program: It's some program where they allow kids to read to dogs, because dogs won't correct them or make fun of their poor reading skills. But I certainly will.

05/03/07. In which I obsess about the TV show Jericho, and helpfully provide them with a pledge: I, state your name, pledge to the town of Jericho that I will fight to the death as long as the viewers don't get too attached to me, in which case I will fight until I get a sexy-looking cut on my face, and that I promise to be cuter than the New Bern residents so the viewers know who to root for. One town, under CBS, in sweeps week, with access to the town salt mine for all.

05/25/07. In which I buy a Prius and not only get really smug, but correctly predict a mild hurricane season: So if you don't get killed in a global-warming-caused hurricane this summer, you can thank me come next fall, 'cause I probably saved your ass.

05/31/07. In which I prove my abilities to bore with work stories and explain the County Auditor’s office: if you enter the Ministry, you must take a number and sit down along with many people with various issues, including, apparently, loss of such things as bathing rights, voice modulation, and child rearing skills, and then wait for the privilege of getting to take another, better number. Time is money and odors are, apparently, free.

06/06/07. In which Dean gets to go to the US Olympic Training Center: So, sorry about your kid not being as awesome as mine and all.

06/27/07. In which I try to work the above into some conversations: “Hi, I'm sorry my son couldn't come with me today. He's at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Working out with the National Team. What? I know he has never come to work with me before. I'm just saying. If he wanted to come with me, he couldn't. He's really, really training.”

07/09/07. In which I give a belated graduation speech and impress only myself: So get up early again. Go to practice again. Study more. Volunteer more. Give more. It's all sacrifice, and everything comes of sacrifice, and nothing comes of no sacrifice. I think God likes the smell of sweat.

07/21/07. In which we return to the garden store for another pine after Drew manages to make an ex-pine of one purchased earlier: It was like Drew was shopping for a second puppy because the first one wouldn't wake up after he squeezed it too hard.

07/27/07. In which I succumb to the make-up ladies at Origins in preparation for the upcoming wedding festivities: She had just never seen make-up try to escape a face before.

08/06/07. Dean and Jenny get married on 08/04/07, host a kick-ass wedding, and I post some pictures, but I don’t really have anything original to say. So we’ll move on.

08/21/07. In which God smacks the Smug out of me (temporarily) for all that “my Prius is going to solve that global-warming-caused hurricane problem” by naming the one deadly hurricane of the season “Dean.”

09/05/07. In which God re-smacks the Smug out of me by allowing it to be hit by a Ford F-250: LOOK WHERE YOU'RE GOING, DUMBASS! And don't use my FAVORITE CAR AS A BRAKE!

09/23/07. In which I try to explain collie training: Training a collie is like training your college roommate. If you tell them to do something, they'll ask you why. If you ask them to do something for a reward, they will decide that apathy is the best reward. If you punish them for not doing what you say, they will become deeply offended, and ignore you until the Resident Assistant agrees to give them a new room assignment.

10/22/07. In which I react to Drew’s painful illness: He may have to get tubes put in his ears to reduce the constant cold-to-ear-infection cycle he goes through every year, which is several kinds of funny.

11/02/07. In which I elicit long-distance coffee-spewing by relating the following conversation from the Humane Society:

Elderly Lady, bringing in a cat that she obviously loves but can't keep: "...and I have papers that say she's been spayed."
Clerk: "Oh, good, because otherwise we would have to guess."
Elderly Lady: "What do you mean you would have to gas her?"
Clerk: "No, GUESS. We would have had to GUESS."

12/15/07: In which I let out a little anxiety about Dean’s trip to New Zealand-Tasmania-New Zealand: So pray for him. Or chant for him. Or send your vibrations of Celestine oscillations in his general direction. Or use whatever positive rays "The Secret" teaches you to shoot. Or just raise your Jesus antennae and let them wave.

12/22/07: In which I used the phrase “the shizzle.”

Let’s end this on that high note and hope 2008 brings better writing to all, especially me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

In Which I Declare This Internet Fad to be Over

It has finally happened. Eleven or so years after I began surfing, I think I've finally seen every web page I care to see. Case in point: I just now declined to read this list of Golden Girls trivia.

So I guess it's over. See you at the Grange hall.

Oh, and P.S. to the silver mini-van that tried to kill me this morning: please stay to the right of the yellow line. It's common courtesy.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Short Respite From Wet, Soggy Reality

It's like the forty-leventh day of cold rain. The dogs are always wet. My boots are always wet. The sun has been setting about 20 minutes after what passes for dawn. And the heating bills are shocking. As expected.

But last night was all candles, food, champagne, Christmas music, wine, lights, beer, funny presents, cookies and good friends. At least the ones not coughing, sniffing or puking (the norovirus is back! and just in time for Christmas!).

We made Becca & Brian regale us with stories of their Grand Adventures. Tessa fulfilled her obligations as Token Child adorably. The dogs refrained from eating the cookies (with a few well-timed reminders). We are now the proud new owners of a Halloween pumpkin the size of a Volkswagen Beetle and two pieces of millinery confectionery worthy of Jackie Kennedy's cousin Erma. And we managed to make it through the majority of the vat of jambalaya I prepared (it turns out that, despite the laws of physics, if you double a batch of jambalaya that serves 6, you get an amount of jambalaya that could easily serve every member of the US House of Representatives, including William Jefferson, who wraps his and freezes it for later).

My headache is fading and the Seahawks game is on. And I have three pieces of fudge left. Later.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Par-tay at the Piglet's.

We've invited over a small gob of firefighters, cops, cyclists and ne'er-do-wells (some may fit several categories) for a shindig tonight. I fully expect property loss, misdemeanors, offended sensibilities, and small arms fire.

Dean, I'm sorry I said par-tay. I don't know what got into me. Drew has been off work this week, so I probably have just been hanging around Mr. Last Week's Catch Phrase a little too much.

But this party will be the shizzle (laughing and running to avoid damage from evil eye).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Aim Your God Beams South

And Dean, the Littlest Sprinter who is Not Sure That He Can, is on a plane today, heading back to New Zealand and then to Tasmania to race for the US National Team.

So pray for him. Or chant for him. Or send your vibrations of Celestine oscillations in his general direction. Or use whatever positive rays "The Secret" teaches you to shoot. Or just raise your Jesus antennae and let them wave.

Because every little bit helps. And I worry some.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Totally True Conversation We Actually Had

Being from Vancouver, Washington, we know our place in the world: a distant second fiddle to Portland, which plays second fiddle to Seattle, which plays second fiddle to Vancouver, BC, which plays second fiddle to San Francisco. However, we can claim a mighty superiority over Amboy, Washougal, and Vernonia.

However, it did not occur to us how little we matter to the true Pearls of Portland. But we have had our eyes de-closed for us by a twenty-something hipster as something of a public service, I suppose.

Monday, in an attempt to gain some culture, we crossed the river to Portland, where all the culture lives. Kind of like yogurt. We were browsing in a trendy Pearl outpost (we could tell by the teeny-tiny size of the beige-on-brown sign) when we had this conversation with a shopkeeper:

Hipster Shopkeeper: So where're you guys from?

Drew: Vancouver.

HS: Really? Cool. I should get up there more often.

Me (jokingly): You kind of need a reason to go. It's not much of a destination.

HS: Oh, but there's great skiing up there.

Drew: Ah, you mean Vancouver, B.C. We're from Vancouver, Washington.

Me (helpfully): You know, right across the river...

HS: Oh, yeah. So, were you guys affected a lot from the highway shutdown?

(Here we both cock our heads like dogs hearing a funny sound, then realize that he is talking about the I-5 flooding 100 miles north of us in Chehalis. Hipster Shopkeeper apparently has no idea that there is a city named Vancouver directly across the Columbia River from where he is living.)

Drew: Um, no.

Countries of Origin on Tags in a Major Big Box Store Today. least the ones I read before I became disgusted and left:

  • Thailand
  • China
  • Vietnam
  • El Salvador
  • Turkmenistan
  • Indonesia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Lesotho
Tags that read "Made in the USA": None.

Go check out the Church of Stop Shopping, and see the movie What Would Jesus Buy?. It will do you ( and us) good.

And if you really NEED stuff, you can google "made in USA", and can find some stuff to buy made by your neighbors, whose bosses pay taxes, social security, and living wages. THAT's the way to be patriotic, if you ask me.

In Which Christopher Moore Makes Me Want To Give Up

Why write anything when Christopher Moore is out there, tossing off some crap as a guest blogger for Powell's that is funnier and more succinct then anything I've ever attempted?

I guess that's why he gets paid the big bucks. And I'm taking up valuable space in the ether tubes.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pink and Red

I have been cursed with an artistic temperament from birth, it seems. It has allowed me to (1) forget to concentrate on the value of money, thus allowing me to never be rich, (2) paint some seriously paint-heavy paintings, and (3) experiment with colors in my day-to-day life.

My color experiments began as a young child, when I was roundly beaten by my big sister for attempting to wear pink with red. "Pink and red don't go together! Ever."

Okay. I lived by that rule until the day I found a little top-and-shorts outfit that boasted pink polka-dots on a red, red background. Or was it red polka-dots on pink? A little of both, more likely, taking into consideration the blinding textile trends of the late sixties and early seventies. No matter.

I wore that outfit in happy (and slightly uneasy) defiance. I'm sure my big sister had long forgotten her momentary fashion decree, but that did not dilute my pixie-topped feelings of mutiny.

I have no photographic evidence of the insurgent outfit. It's probably just as well. It sounds perfectly hideous.

Letter to The World


There's this guy I know. He's the best kind of human - generous, kind, energetic, and committed to helping others, even at his own expense.

Do not piss on him anymore. Do not send him any more humans that will say one thing and do another. Or that use him and discard him. You might think that a guy who lives a Real Man's Life would not feel a stab to the heart like other people, but you would be wrong.

I know, I could ease his pain by telling him all the things I wrote in the second sentence of this letter. But I won't.

His friends could say, "She's an idiot," or, "You can do better," but that's not saying what we really mean. What we mean is, "We were hoping she was the one, and that she could make you happy, because you deserve it." But that doesn't seem like a helpful thing to say.

So the only helpful thing I can think of is: quitting pissing on him, World. You owe him some "happily ever after," so get on it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

For The Record

Here are some more jobs I will not be applying for:

  • Power line fixer guy
  • Storm water management guy
  • Garbage collector
  • Sanitation Dude
  • Official White House Press Official
  • Slaughterhouse Worker
  • Pelt Skinner
Then again, its all about touching the stuff nobody else wants to handle, isn't it?

Monday, December 03, 2007

I Feel Like Singing "There's Got To Be a Morning After"

The storm came.

The storm stayed way too long.

The storm finally passed.

Sorry, Annie and I just got back from reading to preschoolers, so it may take awhile for my big-girl words to come back.

Man, I had plans for this weekend. I was going to solve all my Christmas shopping woes by going to a big Christmas Bazaar. Then I was going to play Christmas music, and skip around with a magic Christmas wand, leaving Christmas sparkle wherever I go, and decorating the tree with three waves and a nose twitch.

What actually happened was that it snowed, then it rained, then it rained sideways. Then I sneezed, and my nose ran, then it ran faster, then my head hurt, and I collapsed on the couch in a puddle of snot.

Today the rain is no longer sideways (but still ever so present), and my cold is on the mend (I can tell because the phlegm running down the back of my throat is all gummy).

I'm sure I'll find my magic wand by next weekend.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sudan: Just Batshit Crazy

What the hell?

What is wrong with these people, that they, who profess to be so devout, yet kill their own countrymen and women by the thousands, burning, looting and raping from village to village while hiding behind a thin excuse of a rebellion, and yet turn loony at the story of an elementary school teacher, in that godforsaken country only out of a desire to bring some light into a dark place, who innocently follows her students' wishes to name a teddy bear Mohamed?

What the hell?

I have strict rules against speech that may be construed to be hateful against any group of people. But I'm making an exception in this case.

I am so taking Sudan off my World Tour schedule.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Feel Better Already

This is the Gävlebocken that I know that I can keep tabs on the Gävle Goat this Christmas.

He seems to have been the brain child of the Gävle town merchants to scare up Christmas season traffic. The first Gävle Goat (a giant version of the traditional Swedish goat of straw, yes, traditional goat of straw) was erected in 1966. Apparently, since then, the most exciting part of having a giant goat made of straw in your town square was waiting to see if it could make it through the holidays without being burnt up by the local hooligans. In the past 40 years, it has been torched 22 times.

I like the idea that Sweden has hooligans. Who knew?

This was the Gävlebocken

This year, they say they've got that baby doused in flame retardant chemicals, and are "very confidant" that he will make it through the season. We'll see about that...

Too Cold.

It's been unseasonably cold. And then wet and cold. And then more (okay, by now) seasonably cold. And then really wet and cold.

I feel strongly that I should not have to honor any obligations outside of the house when the temperature drops below 40 and the sun never truly comes up before it dips down again.

Maybe if I just tell everybody that I have night blindness they will feel more forgiving. I'm not sure that there is such a thing as night blindness, but if there is, I'm signing up for it. I hate driving at night. Double that for rainy nights. Eddie Rabbit can shove his rainy nights up his country bumpkin butt. (Look it up, youngsters.)

Check this space soon for the Christmas Spirit to kick in and the Mood of the Piglet to improve.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

You Need a Little Talking Heads, Don't You?

Once in a Lifetime

By David Byrne and Brian Eno

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful
And you may ask did I get here?

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...

Water dissolving...and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
My god!...what have I done?

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Family Dynamics Illustrated

I'm not sure what you can measure in this photograph by measuring the acreage taken up by the personal space of one particular tousle-haired trouble maker. Everyone on the right side of the photograph seems to be scrunched together, in part out of affection, but also out of necessity to fit into a frame filled mostly with Dean (with his arm around wife Jenny) and those on the left trying not to violate his sphere of domination. If you cut this photo in half, you would have a picture of seven people on one half and a picture of four people on the other (three, as this is a community property state).

It almost looks like he was leaning against the wall with Jenny, and everyone sort of gathered around him for a picture as if he were one of those theme park cutouts. (Have your picture taken with the hipster! He looks so lifelike!)

Hope you had a nice, stress-free Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wish List, Version XXVIII

  • I wish I had more time to paint.
  • I wish I had an extra camera battery.
  • I wish water tasted better.
  • I wish my cat respected my furniture.
  • I wish chocolate was really good for you, and not good for you in the way red wine is good for you (i.e., mostly bad, but with a single redeeming quality, a quality which for me could be termed "mood stabilizer").
  • I wish I could move objects with my mind.
  • I wish good always triumphed over evil.
  • I wish Dana Carvey had a TV show. Maybe a variety show, like a latter-day Carol Burnett show.
  • I wish you could work out by reading.
  • I wish I hadn't missed yet another committee meeting last week.
  • I wish the voting public were smarter.
  • I wish those producer guys wouldn't be so piggish and settle the writers' strike fairly. (I don't need The Daily Show. I can quit any time I want. I just don't want to.)
  • And (obligatorily),
  • I wish for World Peace and Global Cooling (or what I like to call World Coolness).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Couch Update: One Down

I moved my painting studio back into the sun room, so the Dania couch had to go.

How embarrassing: we tried to give it to Goodwill, but they wouldn't take it. It was too ugly for Goodwill, people! We ended up taking it to the dump.

So long, couch that Goodwill turned their noses up at. You were cute before the cat turned on you.

Friday, November 16, 2007

This Just In: Disappointed Alumna Vows Never Again to Place Her Faith in Duck Football

Crushed. Ouch. I yelled at my dogs last night and I was in a rotten mood all day. Sports should not have such power over me. I laugh at people like this.

Dennis Dixon's Knee: You are dead to me. Brady Leaf: Dead. Duck Defense: Dead. Bellotti: Dead. Arizona: Don't get me started.

Dixon: If you have any smarts, you will limp around the rest of the season and get that knee back in shape for your pro career. Don't completely wipe it out for these damn Ducks. They're not worth it.

Update: Damn it, he should have been out for the season before the Arizona game, and Bellotti should have prepared his team to play without him.

Bellotti: you say you were just trying to help Dixon continue to play like he wanted. That's crap. You were using him. You should have been the adult, benched him for his own future, and worked on your Plan B.

Dixon: Get your knee fixed and spend the rest of the year in the weight room. You look like Olive Oyl out there. Put some meat on your bones if you want a chance in the pros.

Okay, I'll go back to my regularly scheduled nonsense now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hints for the Homeowner

Here's a hint I like to use:

Never rake your yard until after the big autumn wind storm. If you're lucky, you will come out ahead on that one.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's a Good Thing Cats Are Cute

We own three sofas, we have two rooms in need of a couch, and yet we have no couches that are actually presentable as grown-up furniture that one might encounter in a grown-up house.

I will elaborate:

Sofa 1: Part of an early conversation-pit-style couch-and-love-seat set in veridian green velvet with pink highlights that screams 1990 louder than MC Hammer singing U Can't Touch This. It's still in remarkably good shape on account of the fact that I have a slight phobia of sinking into gooey couch cushions, thus it has had its cushion foam replaced twice, the last time with foam dense enough to use as space shuttle tiles. It is comfortable, ugly, and moderately ruined by the damn cat using it as a scratching post. We tried to keep the cat away. We gave her several of her own scratching posts, which she delighted in never, ever touching. She would rather lay into the velvet as deep as her claws would go, and pull out long strands of former couch.

Coco on the Hammer couch.

Sofa 2: Once it was clear that the green couch set was out of date and on its way to cat-scratch hell, we found a couch at Dania. It was as firm as Danishly possible, widened out at one end to be at once hip and yet also deep enough to fit two sets of middle-aged hips. The cat set herself the task of destroying it at night while we were asleep. One day we had an avant-garde piece of living room art, and the next day we woke up to a garage-sale markdown. The first couch was looking dated so we couldn't really blame her for that one, but now this cat just cost us fifteen hundred bucks. We tried to take it to an upholsterer once. He gave us an estimate to fix it of about how much we paid for it, and promptly went out of business. I keep trying to think of ways to mask the damage, but I'm afraid of making it look worse and then having to explain the mess to the guy at Goodwill when I drop it off.

Sofa 3: Okay, one more try. This time we are living in a house with a latter-day craftsman-style theme, so we come home with a craftsman-style couch with oak arms and legs that the cat cannot sink her claws into. Brilliant. Except that the couch is nearly as comfortable as trying to sleep across three chairs in the airport.

Now we have a family room, a living room, and a sun (read dog) room, and we keep cycling these misfit couches around the house, waiting for each of them to become something they are not - either pretty, whole, or comfortable, and all three are failing.

We really should drop the whole lot off at Goodwill and try again, but that would entail spending money we promised to someone else - mainly the electric company, but that's another story involving a furnace from another time when electricity was cheap and it seemed like a good idea to heat a high-ceilinged, attic-less house with a jumbo-sized hair dryer.

I'm going to go move the furniture around some more. It will help me stay warm.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Diversionary Tactics

The country's going to hell. Everybody's credit card is maxed out and Christmas (in the shape of Bad Santa) is leering at us from around the corner. Pakistan is this close to freaking out. Bush has messed up Iraq so bad that Iran is leering at HIM from around the corner. Bush's itchy trigger finger is back. Your ARM has just blown up. Some poor soldier's arm has probably just blown up somewhere. What to do?

List stuff!

How about favorite movies?

  • Monty Python's Holy Grail
  • Spinal Tap
  • Princess Bride
  • Animal House
  • Some Like it Hot
  • Ace Venture Pet Detective (really)
  • The Austin Powers trilogy (Scotty don't!)
  • Anchorman
  • Amadeus (I need this on DVD)
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • The first Fletch movie (the book was better)
I like:

  • Johnny Depp
  • Peter O'Toole (what's he doing in this list?)
  • Dana Carvey (watch his concert (word?) performances)
  • Robin Williams (watch his early performance shows when he was probably completely fueled by powdered substances - his brain is moving so fast you can practically watch the synapses melt)
  • Hugh Laurie (watch the entire Blackadder series from BBC. I mean it.)
  • Christopher Guest movies
  • The first five years of Saturday Night Live (um, not that I'm that old, I just hear it's cool to like stuff that's before your time, ditto for the next item, and, um, not that I remember the days when the high school had actual ditto machines and not copy machines), and
  • The Original Bob Newhart Show (More goo to go!)
The Best Bad Movies

  • The first Terminator. Sweet, sweet eighties. And a naked, garbling Ahnold. Gold.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula. The one with Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker. Bloody worst English accent ever. Absolutely appalling. Anthony Hopkins overacting. Weird beastiality scenes. Gary Oldman using a blood-dripping Transylvanian accent. Who knows if it's authentic? It's like caramel in your ears. Totally, satisfyingly over the top. Let's all plan on watching it next Halloween at our house.
There. Thinking about Bram Stoker's Dracula always makes me feel better.

The cheeldren off the niyeet. HHHHHwhat beeeoootifool mussich they mayik...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

This Post Redacted

I was going to post about how I was wondering this morning, as I was flopping along down a hill with Scotty, how long I had to flop so loose jointedly and carelessly before I started walking stiffly so as not to jar my brittle old limbs.

Then I remembered how the Captain hates my "impending doom" posts and thought better of it.

It is fall, though, and my thoughts turn so easily to The End.

Instead I'll post another pretty picture.

Here's another picture of the Eagle Creek trail because I heard it suffered some bad landslide damage and will be closed for a while.

Becca (and Brian): our peer pressure paid off. You got to see it before the trail gave way (and not during)!


Friday, November 02, 2007

Overheard at the Humane Society

I do a little data entry for the Humane Society for Southwest Washington every Wednesday. My actual entry of data is slowed, but my entertainment level is highly raised, by the fact that my little desk sits just off to the side of the animal intake desk, where found or unwanted animals are brought in.

Sometimes I type with a tiny puppy in the pocket of my stylish purple volunteer apron. Sometimes I share the space with wild geese, while we both wonder what they are doing there.

This is a snippet of conversation that I had to write down so as not to forget and deprive the world (or my four readers) of:

Elderly Lady, bringing in a cat that she obviously loves but can't keep: "...and I have papers that say she's been spayed."

Clerk: "Oh, good, because otherwise we would have to guess."

Elderly Lady: "What do you mean you would have to gas her?"

Clerk: "No, GUESS. We would have had to GUESS."
I love Wednesdays.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bend Over The Weekend

Benham Falls:

The (smoky) view from Pilot Butte:

Get it? Bend over....the weekend?

More later after the kids and their rude demands for candy go away.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Should Be Mad, but I Have a Serious Cuteness Weakness

After a complete summer's worth of back-breaking manual labor, we were able to completely de-root 20 years' worth of ivy growth, and nestle some spare, unthirsty, baby plants into a fluffy bed of bark dust, which we hope will help them blossom next spring into lovely blobs of lavender and sage.

However, we did not count on the fact that the neighborhood has a healthy squirrel population, and a healthier walnut tree across the street. We had no idea that what we installed was a 75-foot-long nut storage device.

Now they seem to be digging just for the aesthetic pleasure of seeing their own handiwork. Our fluffy new bark dust looks like it has been hit by a thousand tiny air strikes.

The bark flies in all directions when they are at work. I should be livid that I have to go out and sweep the bark back into place, and smooth over the pock marks. But I don't care. They're just so cute, and they look so happy that this new pantry has fallen into their tiny little laps.

I'll think about fixing it in the spring.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Don't You Wish You Were Here Right Now?

Here are some pictures from the last time I got Drew to go hiking with me. This is the Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia Gorge.

Yes, his feet hurt. But it was worth it. And I got to try out my new camera. It was worth it too.

This (below) is Punchbowl Falls, once featured on the cover of a totally awesome Styx album (pre log fallage). Rock on.

I try to catch Drew tending to his delicate feet and/or knees at some point in each hike.

Happy autumn. Go outside and look at the leaves.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Imagine the Horror

Imagine the horror of, after losing your concentration for a moment, or hurrying too fast, you take someone's life. A young, promising, happy life.

So slow down. Use your mirrors. And for God's sake, if you pass a cyclist, remember him when you make that right turn. And that way you won't kill anybody.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's SARS - Surly Annoying Robber of Sleep

Remember when I said something about feeling colds coming on while we were hiking - 14 DAYS AGO?

Since that Monday, I snuffled for a couple of days and went on with my life.

While Drew snorted, coughed, wheezed, talked in a yodelly voice using several octaves at once, coughed, complained of ringing in his ears, developed a new and startling kind of barking cough, complained of pain in his ears, went to the doctor, came home with an armload of pills and the name of an ENT, and continued to cough all night. He may have to get tubes put in his ears to reduce the constant cold-to-ear-infection cycle he goes through every year, which is several kinds of funny.

Since he was unable to work during this illness, he turned to the healing properties of paint fumes, and proceeded to paint the interior of the house as therapy.

I can't stop him. But I don't have to enable him either.

Today he has gone back to work for the first time in quite a while. The house is quiet - at least temporarily. And the paint fumes are waning - at least temporarily. With the high ceilings in this place, he's still got several rooms to go.

And I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Take That, Hipster Animators

When Dean was little, I used to rent a video with this cartoon on it every Halloween season. For Dean, see. Not because I loved watching the skeletons dance.

This is from Walt Disney circa 1929. Yeah, 1929. I think it's as entertaining and inventive as most of the animation available today.

But I'm probably just being old and curmudgeonly.

You Can All Him "Doctor Scotty" Now.

'Cause he just got his PhD in Advanced Awesome.

Yeah, he was worried. There were times when he just wanted to bark at the top of his lungs and pounce on the closest dog. But he didn't. Because he knew he wasn't supposed to. And he kicked ass.

Things he had to do:
  • Meet a stranger without straining at the leash, jumping up on them or nuzzling their crotch. (Yeah, he can do that when he needs to.)
  • Having a stranger hug him tight, mess with his feet and tail, and pet him roughly. (He didn't like the tail part, but he was patient about it.)
  • Walk through a crowd of people, including wheelchairs. (No problem.)
  • Walk on a loose leash, stop when I stop, and go when I go. (Psssh. We can do that in our sleep.)
  • Sit on command. (Kindygarden stuff.)
  • Lay down on command. (Um, slowly.)
  • Sit and stay while I walk away. (Oops. A little wiggling at the end there. And he was so good at this!)
  • Sit and stay, and then come when called even though he's getting petted by a friendly stranger. (Okay, but it seems rude to just leave her there...)
  • Walk at my side while we meet someone with another dog on a leash. No crossing over to socialize. The point is to ignore the other dog. (As if! Scotty didn't cross over the invisible line of doom, but he really, really wanted to. And he whined like a baby.)
  • Help diffuse an angry situation by staying calm while two people argue, and we encounter a third. (Scotty was a little freaked out by this, but tried to maintain. The evaluator noticed his stress.)
  • Walk past a toy without taking it. (The "leave it" drill. We nailed it!)
  • Act nice and gentle while being offered a treat. (He said "no thank you," but nicely).
Can you believe he passed? I know, me neither. Actually, he got a "Predictable" rating, which is passing, but not passing with an "A." It's like being a "C" student.

But then, do you know what they call someone who graduates last in his class at medical school?


That's right, baby.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Explaining an Inside Joke

When Drew says to me "Ah'm a busy man! Ah don't have tahm to stop and do wimin-folk work," I crack up.

It loses a little in translation when I say "Ah'm a busy woman! Ah don't have tahm fer sich bizniss," it's still funny, because we can still recognize the joke.

So when I say, "This Just In: Busy Woman [fill in blank]," I am referring to a joke that you are not aware exists. It's my way of being inscrutable in a way that doesn't make any sense. Here. I'll tell you the story.

Once upon a time, Drew and I were a very poor couple of kids living in Austin, Texas. Drew was a few months into a six-year Air Force enlistment, and I had gotten myself pregnant by working in a maternity shop (don't let them tell you stories about how ladies get pregnant - I lived it).

Our apartment had just gone "condo" (all the rage in the eighties), and we needed a new cheap place to live. We stopped in at the base housing office, and found a listing for a "house" for $250 a month - cheap even in 80's dollars.

Intriguing, no? (You can click on the image at the left to see the "listing."

The house had started as an addition that someone had built onto a single-wide mobile home, maybe for a farm hand long gone. At some point, the trailer had rotted away, so they sided up the former trailer side, and built another half onto the other side of the addition. Voila, a rental home extraordinaire, complete with scorpions, tub worms, and cockroaches. Home sweet home, with a lovely view of the few remaining milk cows loitering in their little pasture.

The proprietors, Dorothy and August Krumm, were a doddering old couple who must have immigrated from Germany early enough to have a Texas twang twisted into their Teutonic tongues, so that their accents were impossible to recreate, no matter how much we tried.

I would trudge over to their farm house once a month with the rent, knowing that old Dorothy was going to sit me down and require me to endure a formal visit with tea and whatever awful stale cookies or crackers she could unearth from her kitchen. If she could not find what she was looking for, she would call for August to look in the store shed, and he would reply,

"Ah'm a busy man, woman! Ah don't haff tahm fer yer fizitin!"


"Ah'm a busy man! That cows a'givin me some trooble, you don't know!"

Meanwhile, Dorothy would scratch out one of her receipts for the rent, which were so cute, I've kept some of them to this day.

So when I say, "I'm a busy woman," you should know it's really funny.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

This Just In: Busy Woman Takes Time to Update Her Blog

  • We spent last week not painting the house. Too much rain. Shocked, you say? Nevertheless. We will probably spend this week doing the same.
  • Scotty made it through a staged earthquake on Saturday, assisting pretend victims by being cute. Again, he loved the people. The other dogs were hard to ignore.
  • The Famed World Travelers, Becca (and Brian) came over on Saturday. We planned on picking their brains on how to world-travel, but we didn't get around to it. We'll have to try again soon. They're the good kind of dinner guests - they bring wine.
  • Sunday, Drew managed to not race another cylcocross race. Kind of his specialty.
  • Meanwhile, I helped another class of therapy dog candidates in their testing process. I excelled in my part as Crowd Member Number 5.
  • We finished up the weekend by eating too much at Fire On The Mountain (chicken wings and spicy sauces) in PDX with some 'cross racers who actually raced at the race. I stuck with barbecue sauce because I do not enjoy pain.
  • We took a hike on Monday by going too far up the Eagle Creek trail, and realizing somewhere along the path that we were both coming down with colds and our feet hurt.
  • My car is back! Now it smells like grease and paint.
  • Do NOT hit my car. A reminder.

Friday, October 05, 2007

And Misfortune Continues to Hang On My Dainty Shoulders

....I burnt my tongue.

Just thought you'd want to know.

Flowers and gifts may be sent to my Felida address, as I'm sure my hospital stay will be brief.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dean: Something to Take Your Mind Off Your Troubles

Johnny. Depp. Will have vengeance. And. Will. Totally. SING.

The Agony of Defeat Really, Really Sucks

Dean's nationals trip really took a dive today when he couldn't get up any speed in a simple 200 meter qualifier.

It's a simple speed trial, one he's done many times, and much faster. He doesn't know why his legs turned to grape jelly today. He could be coming down with something. He could have just had a bad day after a series of sleepless nights.

But after so much work, it's a painful trip-up that will cost him.

What will he do next? Can he pick himself up after this? Is there anything left for him at nationals this year? And what about after nationals? Does he go back to twice-a-day workouts? Or just go home and leave the pain for some other schmuck?

Stay tuned for answers. Next week on Deancat Manor.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's October. That Means It's Time to go ALL IN

I get freaked out by having to drive somewhere new to take my dog on a light rail system I've never been on, to walk around in an airport. Scary, right?

Or is scary driving to LA with a small contingent from your tiny, under-funded, Portland-based amateur bike racing team and going to the line with bike racers half again your size with more professional-level training under their belt this year alone then you've received in your lifetime, with the goal of beating them fair and square, using only your sinewy muscles, ninja skill, Celtic hocus-pocus and pirate-like voodoo?

That's what I thought.

It's Nationals time again and Dean is on his way to LA to the Staples Center Velodrome. No big thing. Just the make-up of the Beijing Olympics team is on the line. If you remember, Drew and I accompanied the team down to LA last year in the team van. Dean did great. I thought I was going to die of terror.

This is one of those national championships right before an Olympic year. Everybody is on edge. Even if we had money to follow him, it would be a bad idea. I would come back with either a stroke-induced limp or a hemorrhaging ulcer.

I've seen him crash. I've seen him get hurt. I've seen him lose races he should have won. I don't know which one is more painful to watch. They all tear my heart out. But fear of those outcomes can only hurt you.

Fear is the thing that I fight with the most. Because it's useless. Especially when you have a son who has courage. Remember the lesson from before? Courage is doing scary stuff even if you're scared. And Dean is the King of the Forest with that stuff.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Our Grand Day Out

So I spent the week dreading Saturday, imagining dire consequences and sleeping poorly, as I was scheduled (due to my misplaced zeal at having a cute dog that everyone wanted to pet and thus entering him in a therapy dog class despite his spastic behavior) to drive to the Parkrose Max (light rail) station off Sandy Blvd., meet the class, place "therapy dog in training" vests on our unsuspecting students, board the Max, get off at the airport, and wander around the baggage claim area, waiting for our dogs to freak out. Actually, I fully expected the freak-out to occur upon boarding the Max train. I was happily disappointed.

I started the day by taking Scotty for a long run, hoping for a little fatigue-inspired laid-backedness. It was a thought.

After two wrong turns, and therefor slightly behind schedule and in my own full red alert, I found the Max station and met up with my class. Scotty was already pulling on the leash in a way that you could either interpret as excited to see other dogs, or sheer panic. Thus I began a long day of stopping, backing up, and giving Scotty another chance to walk on a loose leash.

Gathering at the Max Station

He looks dashing in his vest. He pulls on the leash. He gets on the Max train without any signs of fear, but he won't sit down without a muscular form of assistance (disallowed in the coming test). We get off the Max at the airport. He pulls on the leash. I stop and back up once, twice, seventy times, maybe.

The Max ride.

He likes the people, does not spook at any of the baggage handling equipment or rotating doors (although they spook me a little), mostly sits nice (for treats), gets lots of pets and coos, and finally falls apart when he sees his classmates going down some stairs and is delayed from following.

Scotty, trying to camouflage his trainee vest with hair.

Not a bad day, considering the prospects for chaos. I was expecting total wild dog freak-out with catch poles from a scene out of Animal Cops.

Scotty chilling on the way back to the Max station while I feel grateful to be alive and have a full tank of gas to get home. Yes, his trainee vest is still on. It has just been completely overgrown with hair.

Drew came home from his day of sportsmanlike leisure activities with a bottle of champagne to celebrate my courage.

In school, I learned that bravery was not being afraid, even though the circumstances and logic call for some fear. Courage was doing stuff even though you were afraid.

If that still applies, then I earned my champagne. Scotty got Sunday off.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

There's A Reason Why Collies Don't Do Humiliating Dog Sports

Collies are not border collies. Exhibit A.

There's a reason why those dog obedience trials are basically the Retrievers vs. the Border Collies.

Those dogs are like gambling addicts with eating disorders. They will do anything to get a tennis ball. They will do anything for a piece of food. Even if it's not good food. They will do anything to get to play a game. Right there, you've got a perfect storm for tight and sticky obedience winners.

Collies are not like labs. Collies will not do this.

Training a collie, on the other hand, is like training your college roommate. If you tell them to do something, they'll ask you why. If you ask them to do something for a reward, they will decide that apathy is the best reward. If you punish them for not doing what you say, they will become deeply offended, and ignore you until the Resident Assistant agrees to give them a new room assignment.

That, except maybe for the access to an RA, is a collie.

This is a classic collie pose.

So, it's slow going here in training land. Scotty is tired of sitting when I ask, and he's tired of having to perform for treats. His treats have to be so delicious for him to work for them that his regular food is looking rather boring to him.

Once this week, we covered a mile in an hour and a quarter because (according to training rules) I had to stop every time Scotty pulled on the leash. Start. Spazz. Stop. Start. Spazz. Stop.

But training must go on. If I stop now, it's going to be because I would rather live with a spazz for another ten years than put in the effort to mold him into a good citizen.

See you at the farmer's market. We'll be the ones walking two steps at a time.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Haka - New Zealand Vs Tonga

If you play the New Zealand All Blacks, you must first be yelled at.

It's the law.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Oh, And One Other Thing...

How awesome is it that one of the stars of the New Zealand All Blacks is named Rokocoko?

I know. Lots. Lots of awesome.

This is how he scores.

This is a typical rugby tackle. It looks painful. And makes American football players look like pansies.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

This Class Is Bumming Me Out

It turns out that this class mainly teaches you what your dog should already know in order to be admitted as a Therapy Dog, and that you are responsible for teaching your dog those things.


Secondly, it turns out that a class full of dogs is a little too much stimulation for Scotty. (Surprise!)

Yes, Scotty was the evil child, whining and carrying on while the other dogs were sweet and laid back.

All the stimulation made him completely forget all his (admittedly spotty) training. He was so excited by the other dogs that he could not pay attention to me, or care about behaving, even for treats.

Guess I'm going to spend the next five weeks walking Scotty around the farmer's market, the playground, and Main Street, and relearning our good-dog behavior.

What a bummer.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Burning, Itching Question: Can You De-Spazz a Dog?

I guess we are going to find out.
Scotty is going to finishing school. The first class is this weekend. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Was There

Know how it's all cool to see a total eclipse of the sun, or a comet that comes around every 120 years? That's what it's like to experience a 90-plus-degree day at the Oregon coast. Those days come around once in a lifetime if you're lucky. Factor in the improbability of such a day without a howling wind, and, well, I can't think of a number that high.

And we were there.

It was Sunday. All the families with kids had to pile in their minivans and head back to the city, but we had Monday off, and we just waved as they left. Then we put on our shorts (shorts!), sunblock (lots!), and hiking boots, and headed up the road to Yaquina Head.

We sweated!

Then we had local fish and chips and chowder. Okay, that part really wasn't improved by the weather, in fact, the Yaquina Head Cafe has no air conditioning (for that one day per century need), but still.

I walked barefoot on the beach!

I saw two girls in bikinis! I had to rub my eyes at that one. That's like seeing cows walking upright, shopping at the mall. You might as well put two girls in bikinis questioning General Petraeus on the Senate floor. Sometimes girls try to wear bikinis on the Oregon coast, but they usually end up with a sweatshirt on over the top, and goosebumps visible from the lighthouse.

Anyway, we were there. It was our 25th anniversary.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Don't Miss Rembrandt and Friends! Or You Could Always Go To the Netherlands.

Okay, "Rembrandt and Friends" is what I named the show. The Portland Art Museum calls it The Dutch Masters. Whatever.

These pics are on loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam while they do a little dusting and polishing, so it's now or never if you don't plan on stopping in the next time you're in Amsterdam.

There are a lot of not-Rembrandts (Rembrandt pupils and wannabes), but there are a few, but good examples of actual paintings from Rembrandt van Rijn, his own self.

What is heartwarming about Dutch art is that there are dogs in maybe 90 percent of the paintings. I like that in art.

Another heartwarming lesson we learned is that 17th century Dutch porn consists of a picture of a fully-clothed Dutch stud offering a pheasant (!) to a fully-clothed Dutch hotty. I can tell you it certainly shocked me to the core. And in a family museum.

What is also apparent from the exhibit is that it is not the modern style "whoever-has-the-best-press-agent-must-be-the-best" type of determination that allowed Rembrandt to rise to the top. His stuff is better. It is more creative, more daring, and more (for lack of a better word because it drips of pretentiousness) painterly.

Rembrandt's pupils learned their painting lessons well, but rarely strayed from the lesson, while their master was all over the place, showing bold brush strokes, leaving deep dark areas where you are forced to peer into the blackness to make out the figures, using crazy lighting effects with candles, and painting facial expressions into faces that even digital imagery cannot beat.

Here is Rembrandt, in a sort-of self-portrait, but morphing his own features to match the story he is telling, namely, that of the Apostle Paul. Now he's old, beaten-down, and careworn. With an awesome turban. Look at that expression.

Look at the way Rembrandt hides a candle behind the girl's hand in this painting depicting the moment that Peter denies Christ. And I like the way you can barely see Jesus looking back at his friend, all "I told you so." You can't really see that part in this little picture, but he is back there at the right and behind Peter.

Don't look for examples at the Portland Art Museum website. They would rather you pay your 15 bucks and come on in. I can understand that, I guess. I'm sure that snagging this show was not cheap.

But all the paintings come from the Rijksmuseum, and they have a very nice website.

Dave Barry for President

Here he outlines his wide stance on several key issues, such as the improbability of the name "Arlen Specter."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

If You Are Traveling Near Me, For God's Sake, Look Where You're Going

Hey, sometimes? On the highway? During rush hour? The traffic stops. That's when you should LOOK WHERE YOU'RE GOING, DUMBASS! And don't use my FAVORITE CAR AS A BRAKE! With your lifted-up gas guzzling earth-killing-emission-spewing FORD F-250!

This was the only car I've ever patted on the hood and thanked for the ride. I feel pain.
Good thing that dude had insurance. We have learned from fellow Prius owners that the collision bills on these babies can be steep. The last one who backed into a post with her freshly purchased Prius got a $7,000 bill. And she didn't have a dented hatchback like I have. Makes you kinda shudder, doesn't it?
We were on our way back from the Rembrandt and Friends exhibit at the Portland Art Museum, and I had plenty to say. That will all have to wait until I can access the non-rage portion of my brain.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Some Fascinating Ivy Facts to Enjoy as I Gloat Over My Ivy Kill

Q: What decorated the church at your wedding?

A: Garlands of ivy.

Q: What stencil, designed by your own self, did you use to decorate the bathroom of your first house?

A: Um, some ivy.

A Sentimental Retrospective

There's Kleenex available in the lobby.

Victory Is Mine

You may all go about your lives now,
safe in the knowledge that I have won and the ivy has lost.
Proof that I got Drew to help me with the final push.
Drew's front.

Satisfaction. Ivy goes down.

Tabula rasa. Now I've just got to plant something less evil.