Sunday, July 29, 2007

Beer Goggles

Drink Beer
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
This weekend was the Oregon Brewers Festival. And as per usual, I was there drinking beer. I did not overindulge, although other people did. In case you doubt this, here's some evidence.

B and I occasionally had to go our separate ways, and stand in separate far-flung lines, when, say he wanted to sample a cream ale and I wanted to sample a double IPA. We agreed that we'd meet back at the centrally located and sparsely patronized root beer tent. Evidently, the IPA line was shorter than the cream ale line, because when I got back to the root beer tent, B was nowhere to be seen. As I was slowly revolving 360 degrees to see if I'd perhaps missed B, a young man (age 22 tops) materialized in front of me and asked me if I was looking for someone.

Me: Yes, my husband.*
Young Man: Well, you looked like you were looking for someone. I could tell. I was waiting for someone, too. A Playboy model, but she didn't show up.
Me: Uhhhh???!!!! Bummer.
Young Man (eagerly): Let me help you look!!!! You look unhappy!!!! I can help you look!!!!! I'm taller than you. I can see above all these heads. I can help you!!!!! What does he look like? Is he tall, short, fat, skinny? Is he wearing a hat?
Me (long, thoughtful pause**): He's wearing a hat. A baseball hat. Oh, there he is (B walks up [thank god]).
Young Man (to B): She was looking for you!!!!! She looked unhappy!!! I was helping her look!!!!!!!
B: Ha, ha, ha! I know that look!
Me: How many of those (pointing to young man's beer mug) have you had?
Young Man (enthusiastically and boastfully): I had a bottle of champagne before this! (wanders off toward the Horn of Africa).

Jeez. Let's hope he took the MAX home.

Here's the weird thing. Almost the exact same thing happened to me at the beer festival last year, i.e., a man young enough to be my son accosted me and engaged me in an extended and drunken conversation when I happened to find myself alone for a few minutes. Lesson: Never underestimate the power of beer goggles.

*Astute readers will recall that B and I aren't actually (in the legal sense) married. But at this stage in my life it seems preposterous to refer to B as my "boyfriend"; "partner" (ick) doesn't do it for me either. Plus, when you're dealing with a drunk guy, it just doesn't make any sense to split hairs.
** I admit to being somewhat at a loss when put on the spot to describe B. He is neither tall nor short; fat nor skinny. His own personal description of himself is "nondescript." When my brother first met him, he referred to him for quite some time as "the white man." All of which is to say that B tends to blend in in a beer festival crowd. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Quickish and Off the Top of My Head

OK. I’m giving myself 20 minutes to write a blog post. I’ve set the timer and everything. Then I have to take a shower, set the alarm for 5:30 AM, and hit the hay. Discipline must be exercised, i.e., I’ve got to start getting to bed earlier and getting up earlier or I’m going to find myself working 24-hour shifts come about the third week of August. But I don’t even want to think about that. So onward to the post!

First and foremost, I got the rare opportunity to meet not one but two bloggers today—Tinarama and Writermama (plus her two beautiful daughters, her sister, and her nephew). It was a thrill to meet them in person after following their blogs for a couple of years. Tina and I indulged in quite a bit of garden talk, appropriately enough, as we toured the Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Garden. Tina also set me straight on just who this guy is—I’d always thought of him as “the little green man” (he’s usually pretty mossy)—but he has a name and a lovely story. Writermama who (as I knew from her blog) has a real knack for discovering hip and underappreciated places told me about an excellent super-eco dining option in Yachats called (I think) the Green Salmon. I’ve been to Yachats several times and have no idea how I missed this place given that Yachats is a dinky little town. But Writermama arrives from New York City and finds it right away. Talent. Anyway, next time I'm in Yachats, Green Salmon, it is! Also, courtesy of Writermama, I’ll be adding the term “Irish twin” to my lexicon. Anyone else ever heard that term? It was definitely new to me. I wish I could have spent all afternoon hanging out with them, but, sod it, I had to go back home and get some work done.

I saw the move Waitress a couple of weeks back, and I’m still thinking about it. It was written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly. And after a somewhat shaky start, it developed into quite a witty and insightful movie about the shortsighted choices people make and how relationships can take on a life of their own. (I hope that’s vague enough not to spoil the movie for anyone.) But, for me, the whole thing had this patina of tragedy to it, given that Shelly was brutally murdered soon after the movie’s completion. I had always really liked her.

In the credits, the movie was dedicated to Shelly’s memory, and, wow, after much snuffling and leaking of tears through much of the film, I kind of lost it when I saw that up on the screen. I had to spent about five minutes in the ladies lounge attempting to pull myself together with the aid of wads of toilet paper. Her death just shouldn’t have happened. I guess I found it even sadder to think that she’d made a really good movie and was deprived of enjoying its success. This could have been the start of a promising new career for her as that fairly rare breed, the female film director. And now she’ll never make another.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On and On and On and On

Summer in Portland. There’s just so much going on, I actually feel strangely pressured to not miss anything fun, so I try to cram as much into the nonwork hours of my schedule as possible. Really, it almost seems like a form of greed or gluttony the way I consume and gorge myself on fun activities. Guilt is involved, too, if I have to sacrifice, say, a street fair in order to go to a party. It’s actually kind of stressful trying to pack it all in and make those agonizing choices--in a fucked up, privileged, first-world, middle-class sort of way.

Not to be a downer or self-flagellating or anything.

When I first moved to Portland 5.5 years ago, I was casting around trying to make friends with people and had struck up an acquaintance with a woman in my yoga class. She and I had had lunch a couple of times, and I decided to branch out and see if she’d want to go hiking. This was April. She immediately shot me down, telling me that she’d love to, but that all her weekended were completely booked until the end of July. OK. I can take a hint. I can tell when I'm not wanted. I made no further attempts to hang out with her and from then on referred to her as The Woman Who Didn’t Want to Be My Friend, TWWDWTBMF, or Twidwidwhatthebloodymotherfuckingfuck.

But in the last couple of years, I’ve come to realize that maybe she wasn’t trying to blow me off at all. It is totally possible to book and double-book and triple-book every single summer weekend.

For example, here’s what last weekend looked like.

Friday evening: B and I took a leisurely 20-minute stroll over to Fernhill Park to hear a free concert by Dirty Martini,* while enjoying a falafel sandwich from Aladdin’s Café (Portland’s best!) and sitting in one of those lowrider lawnchairs amid a vast swirl of impish preschoolers; their wine-drinking, red-wagon-toting parents; and slumbering dogs (heavy on the border collies).

Saturday: We walked to the Hollywood Farmers Market to buy blueberries and strawberries. I got inexplicably overheated on the walk back (perhaps from not wearing a hat?) and had to shelve my weeding and gardening plans in favor of lounging on the patio drinking ice water and trying to cool down. Eventually, I managed about 45 minutes of weeding, deadheading, and inspecting in the garden. The leaves on my blueberry bushes are looking extra crispy and the berries look like very small prunes. Blast. Apparently, they did not go for those 102 degree temps we had a week or two ago.

Saturday evening: I donned a horrifying oversized shirt with pockets big enough to accommodate four wine coolers (with room to spare) and went to an ‘80s-themed birthday party. One of the first people to greet me was Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, well, a very reasonable facsimile anyway. B and I schmoozed with preppies and Valley Girls. And there was karaoke. As you know, I’m not really a fan of karaoke, but when it’s at someone’s home and there’s a hand-selected mix of all the ‘80s best and worst pop music moments** Well. That’s different. I volunteered to sing “Girlfriend in a Coma” as a duet with my friend P and ended up standing there (as if in a coma) while she belted it out.

But later (after I’d consumed only half a wine cooler), I fearlessly got up and attempted “Bohemian Rhapsody.”*** If you’re going to go down in flames, might as well do it spectacularly. I fear I was terribly off key, but B says I did OK. It was just that I was mostly inaudible. Probably a good thing. I forgot my camera, but the birthday (valley) girl was snapping away, so there’s photographic evidence of it, with me looking all anxious and my face all shiny with sweat (it was really hot that day). I’m clutching the mic with both hands at one point. Who does that? Dorks. A slide show (courtesy of the birthday girl) of the evening and its fashion disasters is here. At least, check out the cake, which, despite appearances, was delicious!

Sunday: We picked up our friends T and M and drove out to idyllic Hood River for the Fruit Loop’s cherry festival. First stop? The Apple Valley Country Store for BBQ pork sandwiches from an itinerant BBQ truck and some cherry cobbler baked right there in the store’s old-timey kitchen. B bought a cherry pie (also baked in the old-timey kitchen)--something he’s been talking incessantly about doing for months! Then we drove to a cherry orchard and were transported on a potentially deadly tractorish thing a total of about 500 yards to some extremely heavily laden Lapin cherry trees. B and I picked five pounds of them in no time.

Were we done for the day? Far from it. Gotta get some exercise. We drove to Lost Lake, where (unbelievably) we’d never been. It’s famous for this magnificent view of Mount Hood. By the time we got there, though, the entire west side of Hood was enshrouded in cloud. You’d never have known it was there. But that was OK. We took the E-Z hike around the lake anyway. The trail was lovely and amazingly undegraded and uncrowded, given that Lost Lake is a very, very, very popular camping/resort area. I liked it very much. We returned to Hood River for obligatory beer and burgers at a brewpub. So many of the hikes I take seem to end that way. And why not?

*Sorry about having to link to a myspace page; I feel fairly confident that it will be the first and last time I ever do it.

**“Ghostbusters,” for example, was immediately followed by “I Want a New Drug.” Remember the law suit about that?. Also, "Ninety-Nine Love Balloons" was on the list! I preferred the German "Luft Ballons" version, didn't you?

**Yes, I know. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is from the late ‘70s, but it's so baroque and over the top it seems like it should have been from the ‘80s.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Laming Out With a List

My sister was in town for a visit last week, hence the silencio on the blog. I packed as much fun stuff into her visit as I possibly could, making full use of each day and every last photon of daylight.

Seven things we did (in random order).

1. Ate Voodoo Doughnuts and drank Stumptown coffee.

2. Got temporarily lost and befuddled on sand dunes.

3. Snorted and giggled and made immature remarks when we encountered these things. Two questions: 1) What do they remind you of? 2) Do you know what, in reality, they are? Place your educated or wild guesses in the comments.

4. Escaped the heat by spending the afternoon of the 4th of July at Forest Park.

5. Continued to escape the heat by decamping to the Coast for a few days.

6. Picked five pounds of blueberries and then took an evening stroll on Sauvie Island.

7. Bought superfantastic and amazingly flattering and comfortable one-size-really-does-fit-all snap and wrap skirts. Perhaps I will write an ode to my snap and wrap skirt at some point that will more thoroughly express my love for it and my conviction that every woman should own one.

There’s so much more, but B tells me it’s time to start watching Season 2 of “Extras” and drink beer.



Monday, July 02, 2007

Dawn (Not Really) to Dusk (Not Really)

Jim Dandy on Sandy

I like to travel by foot. I guess everyone knows that by now (six out of the ten blog posts on this page are about some hike or walk I did or hope to do). While out walking on a glorious fall day last year, I got this idea that I should get up one morning at dawn and walk all day just to see where I’d end up. I happened to mention this scheme to my friend P, and she thought it was a great idea. We officially began planning our Dawn-to-Dusk walk (patent pending).

Not wanting to bite off more than we could chew, we decided that 9:20 AM was close enough to dawn for us. We started out from my house and headed north on NE 33rd Avenue toward the Columbia River. The northernmost part of NE 33rd is not a part of Portland a guide book would ever mention, let alone recommend. It’s the site of several sprawling, no-nonsense businesses like United Salad Company. It’s also part of the route you must take if you’re on your way to jail. The stretch of road is completely unmemorable, I’m sure, if you’re driving it, but if you’re taking the route at the leisurely pace of three miles per hour, you’ll notice not only the massive edifice that is the Oregon Food Bank, but the Food Bank’s lovely community garden, with rows and rows of lush tomato plants, asparagus, and raspberries all being tended by gung-ho (one naturally assumes) early-riser volunteers.

NE 33rd ends at the bike path that heads east along the Columbia. It’s certainly one of the less bucolic bike paths I’ve been on in my life, and, yeah, we walked right by the airport. I've always thought of the airport as being small and cute, but as I was walking along side of it, it seemed more ludicrously tiny and rinky dink than ever. It’s so hard to believe that PDX is actually an international airport. Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s small enough and unobtrusive enough that a bike path within long-range spitting distance isn’t 100% unpleasant. Osprey nest nearby, too. We saw one hunting along the river for food for its hungry little ospreylings.

We also saw this meteorological phenomenon. Any idea what it is?

Sun Dog

I have all these random, fragmented oddments of scientific knowledge knocking about in my brain. Usually, they do me no good at all, but I told P I thought that that little blob of rainless rainbow was a sun dog. Totally faking it, I pointed out the cirrus clouds and theorized that the Sun must be hitting the ice crystals just right, blahbiddy-blah-blah-blah to make the light refract and disperse like that. Turns out I was more or less correct! Close enough, anyway, to get credit on a multiple choice test.

We walked all the way to the 205 bridge, turned right and then right again and cruised into Jim Dandy’s for lunch. You can get a cotton candy-flavored milkshake there if you want to (I don’t know why you’d want to). They have something like 30 other flavors of shake there. Also, if you’re there for breakfast, you can order Dick’s Slop (a heap of biscuits and hash browns smothered in sausage gravy)--or not. Not feeling terribly adventurous, I ordered a plain-old burger and a peppermint shake. P had a garden burger and a chocolate shake.

Later, we would regret those shakes.

After lunch we got ensnared in a no-go zone of dueling freeway overpasses and were forced to trek for some time down NE 92nd Avenue (mostly charmless) until we could duck into a residential neighborhood, where we witnessed a woman sitting in her front yard with a tub of water and a dishwashing scrubby. She was individually scouring an assortment of plastic toys and tossing them haphazardly into an enormous pile off to the side of the tub. What was that about?

Not long after that, we noticed that P’s legs had somehow turned Pepto Bismol pink. It was about 3:15 PM. We stopped and put on the sunscreen we'd been carrying with us all along. We also took a few moments to whinge about those milkshakes that were churning restlessly in our stomachs. P said her toes were feeling squished. It looked to me like she was limping.

We soldiered on for a bit until we got to the nightmare that is 82nd Avenue. We sat down on shady patch of way-too-green lawn in front of a pet hospital and pulled out the map. P captured on film our next ignominious move. Note the slogan on the back of my T-shirt. Pretty funny juxtaposition, no?

Yes. We declared dusk to have arrived at 3:45 PM and took the MAX to the Hollywood District where we limped a few blocks to the Laurelwood brew pub and ordered a pint of IPA apiece. Unbelievably, neither of us finished our beer, as those Jim (not so) Dandy milkshakes were still wreaking havoc.

Are we lame-asses for bailing early (like about 5.5 hours early)? I maintain that we are not. As it happens, we summoned enough gumption or mettle (or some such thing) to walk back to my house from the Laurelwood (about 1.5 miles and mostly uphill, I might add), bringing our total mileage for the day to 15 miles.

So, yeah, maybe the walk could have been more true to the name we coined for it and certainly it could have been a bit less trafficky and underbellyish (but we did see red-winged blackbirds, osprey, bunny rabbits, and a great blue heron, all bang in the middle of one of the most urban/industrialized parts of Portland) and a number of other serendipitous, startling, and unexpected sights. We’re totally planning on doing it again—next time maybe we’ll head for the terra incognita known as the West Hills.

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