Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Unkindest Donuts of All

Freddie's Knock-off Voodoos

Does this or does this not look like the product of a technicolor yawn? I’m always slightly horrified by Fred Meyer’s bakery section, but these donuts are beyond grotesque. Those are M&Ms and jelly beans on that one donut. And is that mustard frosting?

Here’s the sad thing. I know exactly how these donuts came to be. Portland is home to the self-proclaimed, “world famous” Voodoo Doughnuts. They feature some pretty far-out donuts like the “blood”-filled chocolate-covered voodoo doll, the cream-filled cock-n-balls, and the Cap’n Crunch (with Crunchberries!) donut.

The irony and cleverness that is lovingly baked into the Voodoo Doughnuts* is missing entirely from the Fred Meyer malignancies. But someone at Fred Meyer thought that slapping some frosting containing a lethal dose of food coloring on their lousy yeast-raised** donuts and then sprinkling them with a random assortment of candies would be good enough to put a serious dent in Voodoo’s business.

And maybe they can. Because the most frightening thing of all is that there were only 4 of these babies left on a tray that probably holds about 24. Who on Earth can be buying and (shudder) eating them?

*I should note that the Voodoo Doughnuts are excellent, super-yummy cake donuts. They’re made with high-quality ingredients and they’re fresh. Fresh and fun.

**How I detest a yeast-raised donut! The way it collapses as soon as you bite into it (sometimes before you bite into it). There's no substance or flavor to it! And invaribably there's a pool of sticky sweet glaze or frosting pooled in one of the shallow collapsed areas that makes eating it (not that I'd ever do such a thing) a messy, unpleasant ordeal.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

For Fuck's Sake, Jesus H. Christ!

These are expletives I reserve for when things go straight to shit.* [save] For example, say, when I compose an entire blog entry in Microsoft Word and am on the point of uploading it to Blogger and Word decides to quit. Then when I reopen it and it raises false hopes by having my entry in its entirety open up in an autorecovery document. Only to then again quit a second later, dragging my entry down to the Ninth Circle of Hell where Microsoft and all Microsoft products reside. [save] It is now probably being devoured by some Microsoft demon with a forked tail and/or forked tongue. Nevermind that it was one of those entries that was interesting only to me. That only makes it worse as far as I’m concerned. It’s like a personal attack. I’d lovingly documented a lovely hike [save] B and I took on Sunday. It was all interspersed with photos and everything. It took me well over an hour to write and size all the photos.


It’s 9:39 PM now, so I’m not going to attempt to reconstruct my entry. I’m just so fucking pissed off at Bill Gates. Why is Word always “unexpectedly quitting”? And why does the dialogue box have to state the obvious in such a responsibility-shirking way? It’s infuriating and so typical of the way Microsoft operates.

OK. Maybe I’ll try for the Cliff’s Notes. God, I’m mad!!!!!!!!! [save]

The entry was titled “Hiking with Alacrity” (how I mourn it already). [save] I was all pleased with myself because (instead of the raving preamble above) I’d started out with an semi-esoteric allusion to the doomed 1924 Mount Everest expedition [save] in which George Mallory and Andrew Irvine were last seen climbing with “considerable alacrity” 900 feet shy of the summit. When next seen--75 years later--Mallory was frozen solid, with a hole poked through his forehead and his leg broken in several places.

Adopting Mallory and Irvine’s hiking style was perhaps tempting fate, but we’d gotten a late start and we had 12 miles to hike and 2,300 feet of elevation to lose and then regain on the Paradise Park Loop Trail. "Alacrity" was exactly what we needed. Alacrity was absolutely no problem for the first couple of miles of trail, since it was all downhill. [save] Even the guy we saw who was hiking with a cup of coffee in his hand had a certain degree of alacrity.

Alacrity was once again in evidence as I crossed the Zig-Zag River. [save]

Believe it or not, I turned back about 4 years ago when I encountered this piddling little stream.

Zig-Zag River

It’s nice to conquer fears even if they are fears of something no reasonable person would be afraid of.

Onward and most definitely upward we went through a frizzled wildflower meadow on a sand trail. I can’t say I enjoyed this part of the trail. In fact, I stopped about every 200 feet—basically whenever there was a tree. I couldn’t help wondering, “How is it that I was able to hike all over creation in sunnier and sandier conditions on my hiking trip to Utah 13 years ago? It could not possibly be that I’m older and feebler and out of shape. No way. I refuse to believe it."

Finally we made it here—to the beginning of Paradise! [save]

Paradise Loop Trail

Notice that Mount Hood is coming in loud and clear—apparently the fires on the other side of the mountain have subsided. It was splendidly clear.

The trail flattened out and everything just got better.

Paradise Park

At the higher elevations, the wildflowers were at their peak.

Lupines and Paintbrush

B and I bounced along (with extreme alacrity) on the Pacific Crest Trail for several effortless miles, enjoying the illusion that we were even with the top of Mount Hood.

Pacific Crest Trail

You can just make out the trail cutting along the side of the canyon. [save]

We got back to the ford over the Zig-Zag River, which I accomplished with even more alacrity than before, and sat down for a snack. I noticed a nearly full bottle of Gatorade in my pack and decided it might be a good idea to chug it all, since we had a 900-foot pull up the side of Zig-Zag Canyon coming up next.

Good thing I did that. B started flagging badly not long after we reached the top of the canyon. No alacrity was detectable. I was really surprised, as normally he’s a stronger hiker than I am. [save] I was actually feeling fine, but I was a bit worried about B. We plodded along steadily uphill for a couple of miles. B was wiped. He even had to sit down on a log when we were probably no more than a mile and a half from the end.

As we sat there, a German woman in her 60s trudged by. She paused and said something about it being a drag to end a hike with an uphill slog. Trying to be affable, I said, “Well, it’s such a beautiful hike, it’s worth it.” She said, “Yes. But still…I curse it!” [save] About 10 minutes later (yes, we still had out butts parked on that log!) her husband dragged by us. He was hiking without a shirt, leaving his not inconsiderable belly exposed. (That seems very unEuropean to me.) He was so spent, he didn’t even nod.

Well, I guess I did more or less reconstruct the post. I cannot allow Microsoft to win—and still I curse it!!!!!!! [save, save, save, save, save, save]

*Since I rewrote this, I've spent a couple of hours (intermittently) trying to sign in to Blogger, which surely must be in cahoots with Microsoft. I don't know what the fuck is wrong with it, but I'm ready to kick it's ass into the middle of next week. And I'm furious at myself for being so obsessed with getting a blog post up that I've stayed up waaaaay past my bedtime. It's a sickness.

Blogger Screwed Up?

Paintbrush, Asters, Etc.
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
I'm posting this through Flickr just to see if I can post anything. Blogger won't let me sign in.

Anyone else having this problem?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Unkind Donuts

I have 45 minutes to compose and post a blog entry, and then I have an appointment (that under no circumstances can be broken) to watch some TV. I’m sure that would be plenty of time for most people, but not for me. My increasingly decrepit brain needs oodles of time to mull and dither over what I’m going to say and how I want to say it. And then I edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit until I get sick of editing and upload the thing in its still highly unsatisfactory state.

I’d give a pretty to be able to whip out a blog entry in 15 minutes, as I assume most people do. I’m thinking that perhaps, if I started doing the New York Times crossword on a regular basis, it would rejuvenate my brain and make it fire in a livelier fashion. I think this because, a couple of days ago we went to a screening of Word Play, a documentary about New York Times crossword puzzle fanatics—those who construct them and those who work them in three minutes flat. In one scene one of the puzzle constructors was driving by a Dunkin’ Donuts and mused, "If you take the D from Dunkin' and put it at the end, you get Unkind Donuts [beat] I've had a few of those." Haw, haw, haw!!!!! That's how these people think; they're always looking at words in a way I never do, but I love it.

The filmmakers also interviewed various celebrities who make the Times crossword a regular part of their day. One of these folks was William Jefferson Clinton. While he blathered on about nature vs. nurture (?!), all the while solving puzzle clues, I sort of tuned out what he was saying because I was so riveted by his necktie, which was so intensely turquoise that it gave off an eerie glow. Perhaps it mesmerized me in some way. My mind wandered. He's so erudite and he's actually pretty darn good-looking. How old is he now? Has he lost some weight? His hair looks good, too. George W. Bush couldn't solve the Times crossword to save his life.

Speaking of neckties. Man, were there some bad ones in that movie. At the annual Crossword Geeks Tournament, a lot of the men were wearing ties that looked like blank crossword puzzles. Not a good look. At all. Will Shortz—puzzle master and exceptionally nice man (as I have always expected)—was not wearing one of the hideous puzzle ties. I wonder to what extremes of tactfulness he had to go to get out of wearing one. You know there had to be a lot of pressure on him.

Anyway, if you like movies about dorky geeky nerds competing against each other, I highly recommend Word Play. It should be out on DVD soon. If you live in Portland, catch it at the Laurelhurst and enjoy it with pizza and beer (like I did).

Yow! The clock is ticking.

I’ve decided that from time to time I will be posting a "Keep Portland Weird" photo, part of an ongoing series. Here's the first one.


Many of Portland’s curbs have iron rings attached to them, which people used to hitch their horses to. Did I say used to? Clearly, they still do. This is the third miniature steed I’ve seen hitched up, but the first one I’ve seen when I had my camera with me. Is one person responsible for the hitch-ups or are there multiple people? I’ve seen two of these horses in Northeast at least a mile apart. It could be the same prankster or it could be a copycat. When I returned with my camera to photograph one of them a week or so later, it was gone. The plot thickens. The one pictured was in Southeast around 28th and Clinton (roughly). Are there more? Or is it the same one being relocated on some mysterious schedule? Has this horsey phenomenon been documented in all the major papers and I’m just too ill-informed to be aware of it?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Carbonated Fusion Beverage

My first reaction to the idea of Coca-Cola’s new “carbonated fusion beverage” Blak was “Blech! Coke infused with coffee? That sounds revolting.” But a fraction of a second later I thought, “Hmmmm. It might be kind of good.” I’m not a big Coke-head. I crave Coke only about once a year, but I decided that the next time that Coke craving hit, I’d get a Blak instead of a Coke.

That day was today. B and I were sitting in the bleachers at PGE Park watching the Portland Beavers rout the Salt Lake City Bees. No doubt after a beer and a bag of peanuts, we were both a tad drowsy and dehydrated. B casually mentioned that we might just walk over to Fred Meyer after the game and get one of those Blak things. I was all for it.

Freddie’s does not carry Blak. Go figure.

But the seed was planted. I had to have one. We found a supply of Blak at a Shell station, where incidentally, you can also get a liquid version of a Three Musketeers bar or a Milky Way bar. Instant diabetes.

Anyway, I’m not sure whether to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to Blak.

It’s actually kind of tasty. It manages to balance both the Coke flavor and the coffee flavor pretty well, the net result being that it tastes like toffee. I’m definitely not sleepy anymore either, so it must have a jolt or two more caffeine than regular old Coke.


An 8 oz bottle costs $1.49. Pretty spendy. It is not thirst quenching in the least. In fact, before I finished the bantamweight bottle, I had to pour myself a giant glass of ice water to counter the thirstifying effects of the carbonated fusion beverage. This may be because it’s really sweet. So sweet that if you aren’t able to drink a giant glass of water simultaneously and/or brush your teeth immediately, your teeth will feel like they’ve sprouted peach fuzz. Not only does Blak contain high-fructose corn syrup, it’s actually got a smidgen of aspartame in it—enough to impart that unpleasant aspartame aftertaste.

Anyway, that's my review of Blak. But now that I’ve articulated my impressions, it looks like the cons vastly outweigh the pros. So, I guess that means thumbs down to Blak. It’s only real merit is that it perked me out of my groggy state, but a good cup of coffee would have done that as would have regular old Coke.

In other news, Mount Hood is on fire. It has been for a couple of weeks now. Not all of it is in flames, of course, but the fires are bad enough that Mount Hood and the entire Hood River Valley are shrouded in a ghostly (and ghastly) haze of smoke. B and I took a hike north of Mount Hood yesterday. Here’s what Mount Hood looked like from the summit of Chinidere Mountain.

Mt. Hood from Chinidere Mountain

We could actually see smoke billowing up from where some of the fires were burning. For comparison, here’s what the view would look like if there weren’t any fires. Spectacularly beautiful.

Here’s the smoke-filled Eagle Creek valley (also taken from the top of Chinidere Mountain).

Eagle Creek Valley

I’m pretty bummed out by the fires. True, they were started by lightning, and fire is a natural part of forest ecology, but about 1,400 acres are burning right now and though attempts are being made to contain the fires, they keep spreading. Many of my favorite trails in the Mount Hood Wilderness and the Badger Creek Wilderness are closed. And it’s likely that the fires will burn until the fall rains start. And after that, who knows what will happen? The Bush Administration is always very keen to move in and do “salvage logging” after fires instead of letting the forest recover naturally. A sneaky trick for getting in and clear-cutting the few remaining forests that are supposed to be protected as wildlife habitat and recreation areas. It sucks.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Coffin Full of Beans

Thanks to Tinarama’s recommendation, I’m listening right now to Good for What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows: 1926–1937. Based on her brief description, I knew instantly that this CD would be right up my street. There's nothing I like better than kazoos, harmonicas, banjos, ukeleles, and plinkety plunkety out-of-tune guitars!!! Truly.

Right now I'm listening to a paean to beans by a couple of musicians known as Beans Hambone and El Morrow. I like what the liner notes say about it: "Their rendition of 'Beans' is so eccentric that it’s a wonder any phonograph company would deem it capable of commercial viability.”

Sample lyric:
“I died from eatin’ beans, beans, beans. Undertaker brought beans. Had a coffin full of beans!"

Isn’t that the greatest thing ever? The melody is great too. Minimalist, low-tech and cheery in an existential, surreal sort of way. That probably makes no sense, but that's how I'd describe it. I think it's genius. Seriously.

I am far from having fully absorbed all the gems on this CD and I really do need to read the 72-page liner notes booklet, but I can tell you this. There’s a fairly high percentage of songs about food like, “C-H-I-C-K-E-N Spells Chicken,” “I Heard the Voice of a Porkchop,” and “A Chicken Can Waltz the Gravy Around.” Quite a few of the musicians have food-related names--the aforementioned Beans Hambone as well as Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers and Uncle Dave Macon & His Fruit Jar Drinkers. Food--e.g, "boarding house hash"--is always popping up in the lyrics, too.

Hmmm. Again, I need to read that booklet cover to cover—I don’t rightly even know what a medicine show was—but I’m guessing that the musicians were poorer than dirt, and since most of these songs were recorded during the leanest years of the Depression, I’m going to hazard that food was on their mind—a lot.

So now I’m listening to “A Chicken Can Waltz the Gravy Around,” which features an instrument made out of a stovepipe that looks like a cross between a didgeridoo and a saxophone and sounds like, well, someone farting out a melody. Odd that it wasn’t featured in that "Beans" song.

The musician performing “A Chicken Can Waltz the Gravy Around” was known as Stovepipe #1. I love that. He wanted to distinguish himself from Daddy Stovepipe, Stovepipe Johnson, and Sweet Papa Stovepipe. Heck, you’ve got to see one of these stovepipe instruments. The photos in the booklet seem likely to be in the public domain, so I'll risk posting a snap.

Stovepipe Player

I don’t know if he's Stovepipe #1. I doubt it. Maybe he's Stovepipe #143. He looks pretty young.

Reading the liner notes again. Apparently, “A Chicken Can Waltz the Gravy Around” is a version of another chicken song: “Chicken Don’t Roost Too High for Me,” which in turn may have originated from “Dem Chickens Roost Too High” and “There Is No Chicken That Can Roost Too High for Me.” Why, oh why, don’t people write songs like that anymore?

Well, one reason might be that these songs are super-duper un-PC. Fairly misogynistic for one thing: For example:

“The man who wrote ‘Home Sweet Home’ he never was a married man. He never had no lovin’ wife with a fryin’ pan to meet [beat?] him at the door and knock him down with a rolling pin.”


“I got a gal, she’s six feet tall she sleeps in the kitchen with her feet in the hall. She’s got a sister tall and keen, she runs her tongue like an English queen. Bow wow. Bow wow wow. Got the Bow Wow Blues.”

Also, the whole thing is extremely racist by today’s standards, if the photos in the booklet are anything to go by. Lots of white guys in blackface, with the exaggerated painted-on lips. Yikes. A product of the times for sure.

I guess I should quit all the lyric quoting and scattershot speculation and just read the ding-dong booklet, listen to the CDs all the way through, and come back tomorrow and blog a bit more knowledgeably. But, hey, that’s no fun!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Late Summer Bouquet

Late Summer Bouquet

I don’t know why, but I have this thing where I think I can't cut any of the flowers in my garden and stick them in a vase, even though I really do have plenty of flowers and cutting a few wouldn't create a glaring bald patch in the garden. Maybe it goes back to some admonishment from my childhood about not cutting flowers. But surely I can give myself permission to cut flowers from of my own garden!

OK. Permission granted.

The first thing I went out and cut were some roses. In fact, really, I’m doing them a favor. If they stay out on the rose bush, they’re toast within a few hours of opening. All brown and crispy. Infinitely better to cut them and get them out of the searing rays of the Sun.

The hydrangeas crisp up, too, and then I miss out on the interesting metamorphosis from pinky blue/bluey pink to greeny dusky pink. It’s really quite interesting to witness, but the effect is ruined if the bloom is scorched around the edges.

The thing about waiting until late summer to start making bouquets is that the choice is a bit limited—my garden is at its peak in late June/early July. However, thanks to LeLo—who gave me some seedlings a few months ago—I have some lovely late blooming four o’clocks that not only bloom late in the season, but late in the evening, despite their name. They bloom around eight o'clock; I guess they like to be fashionably late. They’re the small fuschia flowers near the top of the bouquet, by the way. Four o’clocks were one of my mom’s favorite flowers, so it’s nice to have them for that reason, too.

Note the hop boa I've draped around a couple of the hydrangeas and pink roses. The hop looks fantastic this year. It has arranged itself in a very handsome cascade over the garden arch and has even seen fit to cover up the wretched, scrawny, and awful ‘Nancy Reagan’ rose bush. Thanks!

The hop cones are huge and unblemished—unlike two years ago when the vine was ravaged by aphids and unlike last year when I made a gross miscalculation regarding how much water the plant needed and no flowers or cones formed at all. Of course, yet another reason to like the hop plant is that hops are the key ingredient in my favorite beverage—India Pale Ale (although my plant is an ornamental variety, so it would probably yield indifferent and/or insipid beer).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Every year there is this performance-art festival—I guess that’s what it is—called T:BA. That stands for Time-Based Art (didn’t you know?)

And every year, T:BA comes up with an increasingly cryptic promotional poster. Too bad if you want any details about who, what, when, or where. Who needs that boring crap? It’s so much better to have a provocative poster that will dazzle people with its hip-ness.

I know almost nothing about marketing or design, but I do know this: The design should be subordinate to the message not the other way around. But every year, T:BA comes up with a poster in which the message is nowhere to be found.

I have nothing against the festival. But I do not get why they go out of their way to undermine their promotional efforts. How does that make any kind of sense? If people don’t even know what the heck the poster is advertising, there is no way they’re going to be able buy tickets, and if they don’t buy tickets, the festival will fail to thrive, and there will be no inscrutable poster to design next year.

I can testify that at the one T:BA performance I did manage to find out about (through other means, of course), there was an audience of about a dozen people. It was a stupendous tour-de-force show, too. The show got rave reviews in other cities and I’m sure sold out everywhere else. Not in Portland. Because no one knew about it. I’m sure the artist was pissed as hell about that. And I'm sure that Portland is now at the top of her Do-Not-Set-Foot-In List. Too, too bad.

Anyway, enough ranting. Here’s this year’s inscrutable poster. Click on it, then mouseover the image to read my annotations, paying particular attention to the bathing costume (I guess that’s what you’d call it). Does anything seem to be missing?


Monday, August 07, 2006

The Life and Times of the Jesus Sandals

If there is one thing I am good at, it is keeping clothes and footwear for a really long time. In fact—I won’t be modest—I am super good at it. Case in point. My Birkenstock sandals, AKA the Jesus Sandals.* I have had them since 1988! See what I mean by super good?

In all that time I’ve had them resoled only once. This was when I lived in Chicago. I had to pack them up and ship them to Oregon (where else?) because there weren’t any Authorized Birkenstock Repair Centers™ in the Midwest. They came back from their vacation in Oregon looking spiffy and refreshed (who wouldn’t?), almost brand new. And now I need to have the Jesus Sandals resoled again, so that I can keep them forever. I’m serious. I really do want to keep this pair for the rest of my life. According to some lifetime caluculator think I found on somewhere on the Internet, I'm going to live another 50 years (holy shite!), so that would mean that at my death the Jesus Sandals will be 68 years old. Wouldn't it be neat to be cremated in 68-year-old sandals? I think so.

Seriously, I’m really attached to them. And it’s not just that Birkenstock no longer makes the Jesus style with burgundy suede straps like mine have. And it’s not just that the footbed is a perfect match for my anvil-shaped feet. And it's not just because I love having footwear that I can slip on and off in a split second.

The Jesus Sandals sort of mark a turning point in my life. One that’s really no longer all that relevant, but still. Up until 1988, I—like many—thought that Birkenstock sandals (especially the Jesus variety) were only for granola-gobbling freaks. And the only place you could buy them was at this one particularly crunchy-granola health-food shop. A place notable for its peculiar smell. Rancid tofu? Curdled goat’s milk? I could never quite place it, but it was funky and off-putting.

Earlier that year, I’d broken up with a boyfriend—the Dumb Dummkopf—who was a militant vegetarian. Interestingly, he fit the profile of a Birkenstock wearer to a T, except for one thing. He refused to wear leather and Birks were made of leather.** Anyway, in his typical passive-aggressive fashion, he broke up with me by refusing to admit that anything was wrong, when it was blatantly obvious that just about everything was wrong with our relationship. In the end, I had to break up with him because his chilly, noncommittal manner toward me became intolerable. Freakin’ coward!

That summer I was constantly trying to come up with new ways to keep my mind off of my broken heart. One of my more inspired ideas was to take a trip to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Joseph Smith and a large group of Mormons settled in 1840 after being forced out of Missouri. I’d heard that they had re-created the town and had blacksmiths and people in period costume and all that. Possibly one of my strongest motivations was that I hoped to find out more about that sacred underwear I'd heard about. What can I say? Remember I pretty young, and I was nursing a broken heart. Cut me some slack.

I dragooned my Cure-obsessed sister into coming with me. Of course, temperatures were in the mid-90s and the humidity was probably about the same. My sister was dressed entirely in black (including black wool tights) and had shellacked her hair with tons of gloopy product, so that she could look as much like Robert Smith (no relation to Joseph, at least I don't think so) as possible. To give her credit, she actually got remarkably close. After about 20 minutes of traipsing in and out of blacksmith shops and chandler shops and barrel-making shops my sister had had it and went into full-on gripe mode. She was sweltering in those black tights and her hair was melting into a flat, sticky mass. She was hungry, too. And so far, we’d learned nothing about that sacred underwear! So I was disappointed, too.

We decided to try to find some food, so we left the ersatz re-creation town and walked to the real town. I don’t think we found any food there. But what we did find was a glass blower. Don’t all tourist traps have at least one glass blower? Maybe I was just addled by the heat, but this glass blower seemed to me to have the perfect life. She was just a few years older than me, yet she and her easygoing and winningly cute boyfriend had this no-pressure, fun business together. They had this appealing, jokey rapport with the crowd of onlookers and I could totally tell that they had a great relationship—and GREAT SEX, in stark contrast to my doomed relationship in which the sex life had dwindled to nil in the last months.

I also noticed that this extremely cool woman—this woman who had the life I wanted--was wearing Birkenstock sandals with socks and an overalls-style dress. I thought she looked un-fucking-believably fabulous—a trendsetter and an independent spirit. Right then and there, I decided that if I couldn’t have the cute boyfriend, the great sex, and the glass-blowing shop in hellfire-hot Nauvoo, Illinois, I could at least have the sandals. Maybe the rest would come later.

When I got back to Chicago, I went to the smelly health food shop and bought my Jesus Sandals. I remember hoping that I might run into the Dumb Dummkopf while I was wearing them and he would be forced to regret mightily the fact that he’d let me slip away. I really do remember thinking that. Laughable! But I felt like by buying those sandals I was doing something to defy him and in some weird, intangible way they helped me get over him and move on. They somehow helped me recognize that latching onto some guy and expecting him to fulfill all my needs was a bad idea. Yeah, I hadn’t figured that out before then. I was young and naïve. And as proof that I have gotten over that, I offer this. B loathes the Jesus Sandals. But will I cave to his wishes and get rid of them? Never!

Now, of course, I realize that Jesus Sandals are dorky, always were dorky, and always will be dorky, but here in Oregon, Birkenstocks (especially when worn with socks) and dorkiness are everywhere, so I fit right in.

*I started referring to them as the Jesus Sandals after a tough-girl dental hygienist ranted for 20 minutes about how ugly she thought Birkenstock sandals were, “especially those Jesus Sandals.”
**I’m sure you can get nonleather Birks now, but back then you couldn’t.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tomato Troubles


Tilt! This isn’t an artsy Dutch Angle shot of a tomato plant. It is, in fact, listing at an angle of about 45 degrees off the perpendicular. And this is after I shored it up with an ingenious (NOT!) rigging of monofilament fishing line and tent stakes. A few days ago, it was flopped over in the other direction. Are tomato cages utterly useless or what? Every year I dutifully enclose my little plants in them, and the plants invariably grow to four or five feet and make a mockery out of their so-called supports.

My jerry-rigged solution looks like hell but at least (for now) all the tomatoes are off the ground and out of the reach of slugs. That’s something.

One positive thing I’ll say about this strapping plant—an Arkansas Traveler—is that it is extremely healthy and producing much better than the Arkansas Traveler I planted last year. Last year, the Trav didn’t put out much (cold night temperatures led to a lot of blossom drop), but what it did produce had an outstanding flavor. This year looks much more promising. There’s a blush of color on a couple of the fruits, so maybe by the end of next week, I’ll be slicing into my first ripe Trav.

My other tomato plants are all pretty much a massive disappointment. They’re scrawny and short and are in no way putting their tomato cages to the test. They each have two or three dozen tomatoes on them—max. I couldn’t even bear to take photos of them they look so pathetic. The Taxi Yellow that produced mass quantities of delicious mid-size tomatoes last year has so far produced three or four puny tomatoes that rival the tomatoes Safeway sells in January as far as flavor goes. As I said, disappointing. In the extreme.

It’s all my fault. I’ve been growing tomatoes in the same spot for three years running, and I’ve done nothing to make sure the soil stays fertile. Here’s my tomato-planting method. Dig a hole, toss in a scant handful of hydrated lime to sweeten the acidic soil, a sprinkle of bone meal, and a handful of compost. Plug my little tomato set into the hole. Backfill with a bit more compost and the soil from the hole, spread a miserly “collar” of compost around the base of the plant. Water and call it good. This highly scientific method has worked fine for the past two years, but I expect that by now tomatoes of years past—the ones that produced a hundred or more tomatoes per plant—have rather exhausted the nutrient stores in the soil. I should have realized this and plowed generous shovel loads of well-rotted manure into the soil before planting this year.

My theory on what went wrong is borne out by the fact that the Trav’s is colossal and is the only plant that is growing in a space where I never grew tomatoes before. I need to amend my ways.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blabbering Yayhoos

What is it with these people who go to outdoor concerts and talk through the whole ding-dong thing? How is that not rude to everyone who’s trying to listen? And egregiously and unpardonably rude to the performers? It makes my blood boil.

Why do these people go to a concert if they’re not going to listen to the music? It doesn’t make sense. It's a concert. At a concert people listen to music. It's that simple. If they want to talk, go anywhere else and talk. They could even stay in the park and eat their “picnic” of Cool Ranch Doritos and Merlot, but please, philistines, move away from the music.

B and I had to leave a concert being given by the Portland Festival Symphony at Peninsula Park tonight because the blabbering yayhoo quotient was simply through the roof. In the past, I’ve been known to get up and start kicking ass and taking names—walking up to people and telling them to BE QUIET (sotto voce, of course). They always think I’m overreacting and being unreasonable. I’ve seen them exchange looks with each other after I’ve walked away and it’s clear they think I’m a crazy uptight bitch. They spend 30 seconds rolling their eyes and snickering about me and then resume talking about the size 40 fly fishing nymph they just bought. Oh, OK. Now I understand--news that important can’t wait until intermission!

If I were in charge of the universe, I’d have them killed.

Not really. But I’m just trying to convey the fact that blatantly inconsiderate behavior like that makes me almost blind with rage. There's absolutely no excuse for it.

I have tried to raise my threshold, but I haven’t had much success. That’s what I tried to do tonight. I did notice something quite amusing as I sought visual stimuli to drown out the crowd chatter. There was this kid selling ice cream. I saw him scarf down three different popsicles and a drumstick in the space of about an hour. At one point a guy from the hot dog stand came over and they did a little barter: a drumstick for a bag of BBQ Fritos.

It was pretty funny to watch. Every time I looked over at the ice cream kid, he was eating something new. It got kind of awkward at times as he tried to count out change with one hand while holding a melting SpongeBobsicle in the other hand. I have to wonder what kind of a pay arrangement he made with his boss. Was he being paid solely in popsicles? I wonder. That would explain his all-you-can-eat approach to sales. Otherwise, he was sure eating up the profits.