Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Today I am hanging out with my faithful assistant, Batman. His parents know him as Antonio, but he has made me privy to his secret identity. I wouldn't share this with just anyone, but I trust that you can keep a secret. If I haven't mentioned it before, three year olds are fun. There are times when he really makes me want to accelerate my plan to adopt a child. Other times he just makes me tired. And it's no wonder - we have had an action packed day.

Since picking him up at 7:30 this morning, Batman and I have planted lupines in the garden, taken the batmobile through DEQ, invented a language that sounds a lot like Beeker from the Muppets blowing raspberries (but is surprisingly effective when coupled with a lot of dramatic gesturing), played soccer, shopped for candy and sunglasses, checked out ALL the travel books on Eastern Washington from our local branch of the library, and made a quick getaway from monsters in a mini-mall parking lot while singing "C is for cookie". One of my favorite parts of the day was on the way home when a little voice from the back seat directed me to pull over, so we could hide in a Dairy Queen (and also possibly get a hamburger and ice cream cone). You have to like a child who picks a lair with such easy access to softserve. Clearly, he has his priorities in place.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Not to be used for toll roads (unless run by druids)

In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history. There lived a strange race of people - the Druids. No one knows who they were, or what they were doing, but their legacy remains, hewn into the living rock of Stonehenge.
- Spinal Tap

One of my favorite things about the state of Washington is that someone (namely Sam Hill, who, when not busy getting his Quaker on, was building monuments and developing NW roads like a mofo back around the early 1900's) bothered to erect a replica of Stonehenge that looks like it was shaped in a giant plaster cast. It is one of those places like Carhenge and House on the Rock that I love for the sheer whackiness of human creativity AND it's in relatively easy driving distance AND close proximity to the Maryhill Museum of Art, which I also love. As a result, it has become a popular destination in my roadtrip canon.

As it turns out, it is also the gateway to my late May getaway with my friends Jen and MQ. Now that we have some planning done, I am really excited to get going. We are, by the way, possibly the lamest deciders EVER. After getting stymied by the question of who was going to drive, we had to resort to writing the names of our cars on scraps of paper, which we then crumbled up, so one of our number could pick our ride. (In our defense, we were really tired after the series of negotiations on the merits vs. jivery of toll bridges and whether we should pay the Hood River toll, since the bridge at Biggs is closed.) In the end, Agamemnon (who is playing "Where's Waldo?" in the picture above) and I won. Man, is that a change from the hunka hunka burning Dodge I drove in my college days. Back then people would have wanted to take any care BUT mine!

Our plans are relatively loose (which I like - there's something appealing about just going where the road takes you!) and involve travelling around and taking pictures of a part of the NW I've never really explored before. On the itinerary so far, are a night in Ellensburg or Wenatchee and a night in Spokane as well as visits to Leavenworth and Grand Coulee Dam. Between my awesome new camera and the months of trying to not waste gas, I have to admit to being pretty excited to get out of the city for a bit. If I manage to capture any druids, I'll be sure to post them here!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Originally uploaded by Martina

Back when I had my real birthday on March 20th, I decided that next year I would move my birthday to May 20th. If you look fast, it doesn't even look that different - 3/20, 5/20. My theory was that the weather would be nicer for outdoor parties. If today is any indication, I might want to rethink that.

The weather is grey and rainy. Not exactly birthday barbeque weather, but still a welcome change from the sunburning upper 90's we had over the weekend. Those of us who are so pale we glow in the dark don't do well with that kind of thing. Even with sunblock I already got myself burned, thanks to McMenamin's highly entertaining Alien Costume Parade over the weekend. If I use this as a base tan, after a series of sunburns I might be able to work myself toward a swarthy off-white, maybe even an eggshell color.

On the up side, it looks like I will be getting what I want for my birthday, maybe it will be a lucky day despite the rain. I am confident that Obama (who had his biggest campaign rally ever right here in Waterfront park - 75,000 people! - over the weekend!) will win the Oregon Primary. The prospect of having a President who does not sound like Cletus the Slackjawed yokel or start illegitimate wars is so exciting to me. Happy Fake Birthday to me and everyone else too!

P.s. In an odd real birthday coincidence, the main character of the book I am reading just got subpeonaed by the SEC to appear in court on March 20, 1987 - my 18th birthday. I wonder why the author picked that date.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On the road again!

Summer is coming and I feel it deep into the marrow of my fidgety bones. The sun makes so eager to get out and feel its warmth on my skin that I can barely sit still - and that's saying a lot coming from a basically lethargic person! Despite gas feeling like such a luxury these days, I actually do have a couple of road trips planned. Luckily, my car gets really good mileage and I've been saving up, knowing that I wanted to get out a bit this summer.

Having proactively requested time off in May, June and September, the scene is set for some long overdue, exciting roadside adventures. I haven't been anywhere since last September's famed "What'd-you-have-to-go-and-break-my-heart-for,-you-selfish-butthead?" Beach Retreat. While the trip was wound lickingly cathartic and I came back feeling a million times better, it wasn't exactly a vacation vacation. Toby did have a rollicking good time, though.

That was the week he became a Subwaytarian, eschewing his normal kibble for sandwiches and the occasional breakfast bar. (I know I'm a total schmuck, but he wouldn't eat. I started getting worried about him and sharing my food and then it was all over with the dog food.) He only went back to his normal diet after we got home, and then only after I was able to convince him that it was not normal Beneful he was eating, but beach kibble. But these trips, they will be different! They will feature picnics, road mixes, human companions and photos of me not taken by the self-timer on my camera!

The Lonely Goatherd Tour

My first summer trip is planned for the end of May. I'm very excited about it, because it will finally fullfill my dream of visiting what I suspect will be a Disnified version of Bavaria - Leavenworth, WA. I can't guarantee it, but I suspect there will be dirndls, which reminds me of that time I convinced a schoolmate that my parents were very strict and only allowed me to wear a traditional dirndls. For a glorious ten minutes, she believed that Tuesday was polka night at the Powellhurst household and that the only reason I looked normal at school was that, despite the risk of parental ire, I snuck over to a friend's house in the mornings on the way to school to borrow American clothes.

As you may or may not know, I am Germerican. That's right! My mysterious ability to waltz and polka despite never having learned how is the product of genetic memory. So, of course, I really want to see how my American brethren in the good state of Washington have managed to twist my heritage into a kitschified marketing tool to bring visitors to a town in the middle of nowhere. I bet there will be dirndls! Despite coming from Berlin (a decidedly awesome and non-rural, "this is the time on Sprockets when we dance" part of Germany where people would happily laugh you and your dirndl off the street - unless maybe you were wearing it ironically or it was autumn and you were on a street within the confines of the Oktoberfest grounds), my mother was not against dressing me in them when I was a child. I had three dirndl dresses that I can remember - a little blue toddler dirndl with a sunny, yellow apron (I'm not going to lie to you - I was pretty cute in it!), and, later, a pink one and a blue one.

But, alas, my dirndl days are long gone. You know that having one would help me tap into my inner Von Trapp. And that would be useful, because let's face it, any trip to the American alps that does not include cavorting about the hilltops to test whether they really are alive with the sound of music is a trip not worth making.

Besides, my travel companions are fun (as evidenced by the fact that they are the only people of my acquaintance who can not only sing Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans", but also know all words to the hardcore gangsta classic "Wham Rap" and are not afraid to use them. (Yes, George Michael, because you are so street, I will take pleasure in leisure, believe in joy AND reach up high and touch my soul! How can I deny you, oh guilty-footed poet who not only managed to work the lyrics "rusty can of corn" into a song but penned immortal classics like "Club Tropicana'" [drinks are free!] and "Credit Card Baby"?)

North Pacific

The second part of my summer travel schemes involves a road trip with Mexican Jenny and her two of her offspring, Mexican Jenny Jr. and Mexican Jenny III. This trip is exciting for a whole other set of reasons:

1. Mexican Jenny has never travelled around Oregon and I get to show it to her!
2. Mexican Jenny is going through a messy breakup with someone who is acting like a bit of a nutjob and needs the distraction.
3. Mexican Jenny III has never seen the ocean before.
4. I have seen the ocean and love it with all my fishy, Pisces heart
5. Travelling with them is going to be fun - like everything else we've ever done together.
6. The trip will feature my first yurting experience.
7. I am going to get to drive a dune buggy and possibly ride a jetboat - whee!
8. I really love my state and think I would one day like to write a travel book about it.

Among our planned stops are Crater Lake, the Oregon Vortex, Jacksonville, the Oregon Dunes, Newport, the 3 Capes Scenic Loop, Fort Stevens, Astoria, and, of course, a stop for chowder (clams don't really have a face, do they?). We're going to spend a night in a beach yurt (isn't that a fun word? Yurt yurt yurt yurt yurt!), a night in a beach cabin and the rest of the time in hotels. There was a brief period when we were contemplating some old school tent camping near the Rogue River, but that was abandoned after discovering a section on the campground's website that featured a tutorial on recognizing bear tracks. If there's one thing that really brings down a vacation, it's being eaten by a bear. All the chowder in the world won't lighten the mood after that!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Stimulate this!

How much fun is this site? I totally stole the link from my friend MQ's blog and am in love with the idea of being able to pull together outfits from multiple sources (and do it against an eye pleasing, custom background!). It makes me want to go shopping in a really bad way. Just think! My pimple and I could finally get matching outfits for the Vegas style show we've been planning! Just wait til you see our killer diller version of Nowadays!

Actually, I am happy to report that it is (thanks to the skin restoring properties of attacking theater people) almost gone. The cookie part of my therapy, sadly, was less of a success. They were proclaimed gacktacular before they even cooled, which is really sad, because I had had such high hopes for them. As everyone knows, even warm, crappy chocolate chip cookies are usually better than no chocolate chip cookies at all. These weren't. They were hard and the dough was bland.

But who am I to talk? Maybe the joke is on me and I've just outed myself as a total cookie philistine. Maybe they were supposed to taste like cranberry and chocolate filled bricks. I double checked afterwards to be sure I hadn't goobered anything up with the recipe, but I had followed it faithfully, so I am not sure what happened.

On the up side, if could design a special cookie gun, I am already in possession of 2 dozen pieces of deadly ammo. And that brings me one step closer to being able to join the military as a member of highly skilled Special Pastry Forces. You may have seen them on t.v. that time Geraldo became an embedded journalist with ground forces in Iraq. They were the ones prancing about the desert, wearing camo chef's hats while he was drawing his battle plan leaking map in the sand. Also, the Penne with Shrimp, Cream and Tomatoes that I got out of the same cookbook was incredible enough that I am comfortable believing that my cookie issues were the product of baker error or bad baking powder. I'm sure a little retail therapy could make me forget the whole incident.

Too bad I already stimulated the economy by using my rebate check to buy gas, groceries, make a car insurance payment and pay off a bill. I did also make a deposit on some beachy hotel reservations for an upcoming trip in June, but mostly I just applied it to cost of living type stuff. If I am feeling really wild next weekend, I may use the remainder to get a transmission flush and new tags for Agamemnon (my Matrix). Guess the new outfits will have to wait...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Woe is me!

Don't you just hate it when your phone and Internet connection go out and it takes FOUR DAYS for the phone company to restore full service? Not just four days, but also three evenings of wasting valuable non-work hours on the phone with their technical support department? Generally speaking, I have no beef with Qwest. However, after dealing with their automated customer service line three times too many this week, I've come much closer to giving in to the urge to run amock with a carving knife than I ever thought I would in this lifetime.

Once you actually get a human being, they really are pretty nice and do try do be helpful. Tech person #3 didn't even make fun of me when we discoverd that my modem didn't work because it wasn't plugged into the phone jack. She even spent two hours on the phone with me trying to get my wireless back up. And though she totally had me headed down the wrong path despite my helpful suggestions (It took me about 15 minutes to set it up doing it My Way. I think the singing helped-it always does!), I appreciate that she tried. I even forgive #2 for making repeat back the RMA procedures to him like I was an unruly Kindergartener with ADD, but that stupid recording has just got to go!

I'm not that old, but those "helpful" automated routers always make me feel like a dinosaur - an impatient dinosaur from a time long, long ago when human beings (who walked to school up hill both ways) answered phones and even provided customer service that was not generated via call scripts. (#2, in particular, did not like that my questions deviated from his script and kept trying to wrangle me back in.) Thankfully, I have the Internet and a blog, so I can complain to a wider audience about how rotten technology is!

But my tale of woe does not end there! Again connected to the outside world, I woke up this morning to find that my normally clear skin (whatever manufacturing defects I might suffer, I really have been blessed with good dermal health!) had errupted into what looks like the beginnings of a second head sprouting from my chin. I seriously feel like I've discovered an undeveloped, parasitic twin on my face, and I just don't cotton to that kind of thing.

Covering it is no use. I tried and ended up with so much makeup on my face that even Tammy Faye Baker would have told me to just put the Studio Fix down step away from the applicator sponge. All the makeup did was leave a cakey film of powder around it anyway. In the end, M.A.C. was no match for its scarlet majesty - might as well decorate it with glitter and little "This way to Mt. Pimple" signs.

So, I am doing the only sensible thing - sequestering myself (for the sake of the children!) and baking Chocolate and Cranberry cookies from the red chapter of Tessa Kiros' lovely Apples for Jam. Once they are finished, my pimple and I plan to eat them while lounging on the love seat (where there will be ample space for us both!) and reading Marc Acito's new book, Attack of the Theater People. If that doesn't cheer us up, nothing will!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Mission Accomplished?

Five years ago George Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq were over. Good thing we wrapped things up before we squandered tens of thousands of lives and racked up trillions of dollars in debt an insane war. What? We're STILL there?

Boy, am I looking forward to the coming elections! Maybe, just maybe we will end up with someone who favors diplomacy over "obliteration" and a plan for withdrawal over "100 years in Iraq". Five years has been more than enough.

Iraq Body Count web counter

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy May Day!

Doesn't looking at the color of those tulips make you crave a peppermint? It does me! I can almost taste the icy cool on my tongue. I would go outside and lick them right now if I weren't so afraid I might accidentally swallow a bug! It's been a lovely, sunny day for showing them off too! I know that it is technically still spring, but May always make me feel like summer has begun. Call me crazy, but I am happily optimistic that it's going to be a good month. In case you are not yet down with my happy, here are some things to boost your mood:

1. LibraryThing (like Facebook for people who can read!) has a group called "I See Dead People['s Books]" where you can check out the collections of such notable, departed souls as W.H. Auden, Sylvia Plath, e.e. cummings, Tupac Shakur and Wolfgang Mozart. And if that doesn't touch the heart of your inner book nerd, then exploring the rest of the site just might.

2. It's almost Friday and I am totally in love with Steve Rasnic Tem's and Melanie Tem's The Man on the Ceiling, their delightfully engrossing and surreal narrative about stories, family, love, fear and and the fuzzy line between the real and fantastic. There is so much more I want to (and likely will) say about this book at a later date. It is at times dark and spooky, but also sweet and truly fabulous in the way it plays with narrative and authority. What pleasant surprise for a book I picked up on a whim. I love you, new books shelf at the library!

3. Did you know that for the first time in eons Oregon's primary election is actually going to count for something in terms of who will end up the eventual Democratic nominee? It's true! So, don't forget to vote, and especially don't forget to vote Obama! (Not that I am biased or opinionated when it comes to politics or anything.)

4. Want to soak up some stereotypical, kitschy German culture without actually leaving the country? Well, you're in luck, because it's coming on road trip season and you can visit the "Bavarian village" of Leavenworth, by just driving across the border to Washington and the American alps! I know that I am practicing my rendition of "The Lonely Goatherd" and cannot wait until the end of May when I will finally get the chance to don my Fräulein Maria dress and sing about how alive the hills are in a more appropriate setting than the shower.