Thursday, July 06, 2017

Hail to the Spud

Hello, World.   It's been awhile.  How you doin?  Stupid question.  I won't get into politics (at least not right now...).  What have I been up to?  Oh wow - lots.  If the Blog Bug sticks around for a little while I'll start posting some very belated adventures, stories.  Being contumaciously opposed to Facebook blogging is definitely more my style.   There's no annoying Big-Brotheresque bullying to log in (I see you're having trouble with your password!) or make friends. I'm a lone wolf, dammit and I will choose my OWN pack, thankyouverymuch.

Speaking of lone wolves... this story made me happy today :  
Rogue Pack Alpha (aka OR-7) is now a Grandpa

Adorable little pups, huh?
So my long story made short:  Three years ago we moved a few miles north to Ridgefield, Washington.  Better schools.  Natural beauty everywhere.   Three volcanic peaks (Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood). Three Rivers (Columbia River, Lake River, Lower Lewis River).  My sacred trinities.  Beautiful. Reminiscent of the old small-town Wilsonville I grew up in with the old family owned corner store, pastures and fields.  The only traffic lights in town are at the highway exit.    Lots of birds (National Refuge).  Tree Frogs.  Deer.   Unlike my childhood hometown, though the new housing developments are going up in pasturelands, and potato farms instead of holly and filbert  (hazelnuts)  orchards.   Hence the school mascot of the "Spudders". 

The humble Spud is a truly remarkable tuber. I'd grown up associating potatoes with the Irish Potato Famine, which drove a lot of my own ancestors to the New World.  Only in my adult years did I learn that, before that Blight, the adoption of the humble spud as a staple crop during the Little Ice Age saved millions.  It would have saved a hellovalot more if the good people of Europe had adopted it a few decades earlier.   When the Spaniards brought it back, most Europeans thought it had to be the "Devil's Food" and refused to grow it except for animal feed.  It grew below ground.  The plant looked like something form the poisonous Nightshade family.  The fruit itself was rather ugly.  And it came from heathens.  Reason enough for the pious French to make them illegal.  Only after several wars where entire armies marched across the continent and burned/trampled traditionally beloved cereal crops, causing massive famines, did people begin to recognize this new staple crop for the treasure it truly was.

I won't apologize for the hiatus.  But since nearly the last time I posted the Monkey was headed to kindergarten, I wanted to honor my favorite "Spudder" who is now headed to 7th Grade and Middle School (guess it's more junior high but they're not big on the label) this Fall:

Go Spuds, Class of 2023!!!
Who is further proof that absolutely amazing things come from Heathen roots.






Friday, January 07, 2011

New TV series "Portlandia"

"The Dream of the 90's is alive in Portland" I don't know what's more scary .... that this depiction of the Rose City is so spot on or that our reality is such a rarity to the rest of the world. Happy New Year from the Time Warp!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cyber Shopping, how do I love thee....

Let me count the ways! No crowds. I'm more than a little demophobic (crowd-phobic) in many ways. I hate feeling like a sheep being herded by money-grubbing retailers for pocket fleecing. Online shopping allows me to preserve the illusion that I am not, in fact one of those mindless consumer-driven sheep driving to a mall/store, endlessly circling for an open parking space (gas-sucking the entire time)then getting in line to spend my hard earned money buying useless, cheap crap to offer to the Gods of Capitalism. Online shopping lets me be a lot more selective in where my cash is going, and I an price-check without wasting a half a day and full tank of gas driving across town to do so.

Besides, nobody gets trampled racing to get a good deal at Amazon.com.

In that light, here are some new cyber stores I've found that are on my internet hit list. I'll add more in the coming days...

If you love Etsy, you'll love ArtFire.comSpeaking of Etsy, they're raking in the venture capital in this down economy. Just goes to prove that capitalism with a conscious can work. ArtFire is the new kid on the handmade/ crafting block and they're just coming out of 2 years of beta testing, so give them some love.

And another plug for Foodzie - the place for all the foodies on your list! What I really like about Foodzie is the ability to search for handcrafted, local artisans by region.

There's Ebay's social and eco-conscious spinoff: World Of Good.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seattle, San Francisco, Portland best cities for Trick or Treating

According to online real estate data provider, Zillow.  Their methodology?

"We theorized that homes in more expensive neighborhoods would give out bigger, better candy. However, wealthy neighborhoods are not always the best for harvesting the most Halloween candy. For parents and kids alike, the walkability and density of a neighborhood is key to covering the most ground, in the fastest time, to collect the most candy. Safety, of course, is also a primary concern for parents on Halloween, thus adding crime data to the Index was a no-brainer."


Doesn't hurt that the Pacific NW (we include San Fran when it's convenient...) has a very high Happy Heathen index (i.e. lowest "religious" population in the country). We do like our Pagan holidays.

Over the next two weeks the folks at Zillow will be rolling out neighborhood-specific stats within those top 20 ghoul-friendly communities.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Harvest

We made our semi-annual October migration to the Hood River Valley this weekend to collect our winter's stash of Honeycrisp apples.  As the Monkey had temporarily re-located my camera I don't have pics to share.  But we actually made it all the way to Parkdale this time to Kiyokawa Family Orchards (a missed goal from last year as you may recall...)  

A few thousand other folks had the same idea - it was also the weekend the Mt. Hood Scenic Railroad celebrates their Autumn Fest in Parkdale.  And Hood River has their Harvest Fest.  The scenic railroad is lots of fun if you've never been.  The biggest kick is to see grown men rediscover their inner 10 year old, model-train loving selves and go climbing all over the caboose.
Once long before the Monkey - and I think when we were just dating Mr. Stang and I took this same railroad trip on a weekend as part of a 'romantical' weekend at the historic Hood River Hotel.  Beautiful old, historical inn - though I kept expecting "Larry, my brother Darryl and my other borother Darryl" to walk in at any moment. 

For this trip, however the weather was incredible even though the fall foliage was pretty much nonexistent. The nights have only just begun turning a little crisp and it looks like most leaves will fall off before changing color .  I'm blaming La Nina.  Supposedly we're in the strongest event in 60 years or so which means we're in for a "wild and wet" winter according to all the local news agencies.  I don't think I can wait to see what seizure-inducing TV graphics and adverbs for "wild, wicked weather"  they're going to come up with this year.  On the other hand, yes, yes I can! 

Actually what's most entertaining when snow/iced in is to turn on the local news, mute, and watch the city streets turn into a Demolition Derby.   I hear Seattle is giving in this year and planning to salt their streets.  Killjoys.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Does the Universe/God/alines/guiding spirits speak to you through your FM radio?

I believe so. It’s one reason I have yet to buy an IPod, download songs and put them on a playlist. I love the random cosmic convergence that seems to happen by just turning on the radio dial. When I’m having a bad day one of my secret, relatively obscure “feel good” songs inevitably hits the airwaves just in time to make me smile when I need it most.

Case in point: I love the song “Oh Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers and used the famous refrain once as the title to a blog post 6 years ago (that actually had nothing to do with the song/band) .  Here’s the funny coinkydink that tells me someone is sending me coded “I love you” messages through the radio. Not less than one hour ago I mentioned - totally out of the blue -  in an online community I frequent how that very post is #2 on Google search if you type in the lyrics to the refrain. Then, JUST NOW -  not 5 minutes ago -  I heard the Doobie Brothers performing THAT VERY SONG live on KINK in their new performance lounge.  I guess they’re in town for a concert.

Is it worth having to listen to the annoying car dealership commercials? Maybe not.  But think about it..... the consensus of astronomers is that if there is life OUT THERE circling far distant suns we will probably find them first via radiowaves.  Thjat's where we're looking.  In every good sci-fi movie the aliens start messing with the radiowaves.  I don't think it's so outrageous to think that higher life forms, beings, guardian angels (whatever you want to call them) may use them to communicate with me, personally.   Or maybe it's just the way we humans "tune in" to our collective subconscious.   In the old days they found omens in entrails and bones from the firepit.  Later tea leaves in cups.  Why not radio?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Where's my baby gone??

The Monkey's first day of Kindergarten. Well, technically it's the first day of the "Kindergarten jump start camp" since school doesn't officially start until Sept. 8.


But it's his school, probably his teacher, classroom, and classmates.

No tears (on his part, anyway - I at least held it together until the parking lot).



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Festivus for the Rest of Us

As I've mentioned before folks in the Pac. NW go a little nuts in the summertime.  The weather is typically glorious and you can pretty puch live outside (yes, we have one of the highest population of homeless in the nation.  It's a non-so-little known secret that a good % of them are actually there by choice).  Give us any excuse to eat great food, listen to great music, drink great booze, people/dog watch and buy/sell handmade arts & crafts under a canvas roof and we're there.

To that end there are a near infinite variety of civic-sponsored festivities every weekend from June - October.  And most weeks something going on weekdays as well.   Every berg with a population over 1000 has at least one "official" town fest (some version of "Pioneer Days..."  with requisite royal court, parade, carnival and softball tournament &/rodeo ) and any number of  farmer's markets, Saturday markets, street fairs, art fairs, fun runs, charity races, tournaments, music festivals, film festivals, beer festivals, seafood festivals and ethnic heritage festivals.  The largest and most famous of which is Portland's Rose Festival.   These are all in addition to the county and state fairs.

Then as the days get shorter and a lot colder they move inside for Oktoberfests, Harvest Fests, Halloween Fests, Holiday Fests, Winter Fests.... soon to move back outside in the spring with the Flower Fests.  One big,  year-round party, that's us.

Which is to say - that's what we've been up to.  I'd post pics but I've temporarily misplaced my nifty camera card reader doohicky. 

Tomorow Mr. Stang and I are doing a kayaking tour of Ross Island. He got a great deal via Groupon.  We thought it was last week but discovered otherwise when we showed up at the deserted dock underneath the Sellwood Bridge. 

They happened to be doing some filming for the TNT series "Leverage" ontop of the bridge later that day and were shutting it down. Since I'd already taken the day off I was all for sticking around and watching (maybe I'd see Timothy Hutton! or a stunt dude jumping on to a train!)  but Mr. Stang nixed that idea.   He was anxious to go pick up the Monkey who had been staying alone (for the first time) at Gramma's for a few days.  He made it two days out of the four originally planned.

We were meeting in Albany to do the hand off.  On the way down they'd met at the Enchanted Forest just south of Salem.  Gramma took him around and did the log ride and whatnot.  I had to work and was jealous not having been there since I was a kid.  Apparently they've added a ton of rides/attractions in the last few decades.   As a result I am both hopeful and terrified that we'll never be able to drive south without having to stop there, again.  I wonder if they still have the Crooked House?  I'm just happy they're still in business so I (and the grandparents) can share something I loved so much as a kid with my son.

With a forecast tomorow in the low 80's it should be a beautiful day on the river. I'm looking forward to seeing the "before" (or rather... current...) version of Ross Island up close and personal.  There's been so much interest in rebuilding/reclaiming Ross Island lately with any luck it will be unrecognizeable (for the better) by the time the Monkey grows up and shares it with his own children!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Free Portland Art museum Admission Tonight! (and other fun Free stuff to do in Portland/Vancouver)

Like so many families right now we're on a tight budget.  So I'm always on the lookout for cheap, or even better - FREE entertainment opportunities.  Especially now that T-ball and the Monkey's ballet class are both over.  Here are a few things that are on our radar for the coming weeks:

Tonight, July 23rd from 5-8 the Portland Art Museum is offering free admission and a bunch of kid-centered art activities. And Old Tyme music.  Who doesn't like Old Tymee music ?? (I'm hoping they sound like George Clooney and the Soggy Bottom Boys from "O, Brother, Where Art Though??" )  Apparently the museum has 4 free family days a year so if you don't make this one there will probably be another.

The Oregon Symphony will be having it's annual free concert in the park, by the way on Thurdsay, Sept. 2nd at Waterfront Park.



Along with many other SAH parents, Mr. Stang has developed a deep adoration for the Vancouver-Clark Parks & Rec "FunWagon".   Some of my fondest summer memories as a kid were when the BookMobile came to our little suburban town (we didn't have a library of our own).  I don't know if you can beat a bus full of BOOKS but I'm told the FunWagon comes pretty close with two hours of free arts, crafts and supervised play activities at ten different neighborhood parks every week.


I love the summertime free concerts at Esther Short Park - especially the "Riverview 6 to Sunset" Thursday night concerts.  Great music for the adults (even a beer tent...) and a great playground and splash fountain for the kids.  Grab your lawn chairs/blanket, pick-a-nick basket (or buy from the excellent food vendors there), the dog and the kids and you're all set to enjoy the oldest public square/park in the Pacific Northwest.