Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Oregon Coast

Okay, I've been waiting and waiting to post about the trip to Oregon so I could include the pictures. However, as the pictures are still not available, I am giving up on them and posting about our trip anyway. Otherwise I will forget all the pertinent details.

Right after we left the fair on Sunday afternoon we headed over to the Oregon coast for a little relaxation on our way back to Washington. The coast is only a little over an hour away, so it was not a big undertaking. It was hot and sticky in the valley, but as we got over toward the coast it was misty and clouded and the temperature was at least 20 degrees cooler. That was perfect as far as I was concerned; cool and misty is how the coast should be. We came first to Florence and then headed north to Yachats. The Overleaf Lodge is my new favorite place to stay on the coast. It is clean, beautiful, and located right on the water, so you can actually hear the serf at night. The best part is that it isn't very expensive. I only wish it wasn't quite so far south from us because we won't get to go back very often. I love, love, love the bluffs and craggy rocks of the Oregon coast. The waves CRASH into the shore and the spray flies over you. We have none of this delicate lapping along the sand like some places. We also stayed in Cannon Beach on our second night, but that place was just fair, so I wouldn't want to recommend it. I really want to resolve to go to the coast more often.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Okay, there can no longer be any kind of doubt that M and I are members of the bourgeoisie. We are the bloodsuckers who live a life of luxury on the backs of the poor proletariat. We are the yuppies who consume and consume and consume without creating anything of value ourselves. We are members of the western military industrial complex. The proof? We have air-conditioning--- and it works.

Sorry, sorry, that was a political science joke (half truth). The really big news is not about our bloodsucking ways, but the fact that it was 97 degrees outside yesterday! 97! That is just not something we are used to in the Pacific NW. For us, anything over about 85 is cruel and unusual. Most of us are like frogs; we like cool slightly damp places with just a touch of sun now and then. All I could do was lay around and read. Today, on the other hand, we've cranked the air-conditioning for the first time. I don't mean to brag, but aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh that feels good. Because it's partly cloudy you could almost imagine that it was a 70 degree day, but all you have to do is step outside to realize that the heat, and more importantly some humidity, are still out there. I think I'll just stay inside today and enjoy the ill-gotten fruits of Capitalism.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sea of Beads

Lacey Washington is just not a place where a person expects to land. However, if you join the air force or you really, really enjoy beading, you just might end up there. We went down last week so DW could revel in the beadiness of it all. Tucked away a few miles off the freeway is THE WORLD'S LARGEST BEAD STORE (or so they say). The title is well deserved; it is a massive warehouse JUST FULL of beads.

If you are standing in the doorway of the place, and you try to see the people on the other end, you would have trouble making them out. It is that huge. It contains beads from all over the world with all sorts of different qualities. Big, small, sparkly, shiny, matte, and ALL kinds of different shapes. I think I saw about 10 different varieties of banana beads alone. Don't all people need a necklace made of radishes and skulls? Perhaps you would rather a bracelet made of wiggly rubber beads?

M and I only spent a little time there before we headed off to the state park to kill time. DW was VERY happy with the selection, and doubly happy to find that much of it was on sale. She came away from the store with a sizable box of beads to sell in her store. Now I can say I've been to Lacey and I didn't even have to join the air force to do it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've been fairly uninspired for the last few weeks. Summer is very, very wonderful, but there has not been as much relaxing (or blogging) as I had hoped. Why can't one ever be allowed to rest on the proverbial laurels? It seems like there is always something that needs doing, and I am not just talking about the dishes. Fortunately, I finished my stupid on-line class today (at least I hope I got it all off okay) so now the only thing hanging over me is the curriculum stuff for next year. I know I should be getting gobs of things done what with all the free time, but somehow the motivation is sort of floppy and anemic (if you know what I mean). Perhaps August will be more productive. I think I need a nap.

Monday, July 17, 2006

By Way of Explanation

Several people have pointed out that my entries about the Oregon Country Fair are missing more than a little back-story. I do apologize. I tend to forget that several different circles of friends read this blog, and not everyone is intimately familiar with all the details. M, R, and my old friend B know all too well what goes on at the fair, but for everyone else a small history lesson.

My parents moved from California to Oregon in the 1970s. They were fleeing the general ickiness of Los Angeles (I couldn't agree more!), and they thought that Oregon was a very refreshing kind of place. Having worked in silkscreen print shops in California (they met in one) printing seemed like a good business. I am not sure of the exact year they first went to the fair, but it must have been over thirty years ago. They took t-shirts in a number of different designs and sold them in a booth along the Long Tom River (I am not making that name up; you can check it on maps). In these first few years it was called the Oregon Renaissance Fair (or something like that) but it soon got sued by the California Renaissance Fair and had to change the name.

My parents' original booth fell into the river one winter, so we were relocated to a new section of the loop, and we have been in that same spot for more than twenty-five years. Booths consist of semi-permanent structures (the framework stays) made mostly from wood. There is a commercial portion out front and a hidden camping portion at the back. Vendors must try to avoid displaying "unnatural" looking things such as plastic. Virtually the entire fair is run by committee, so there are LOTS of exceedingly silly rules. One of my favorite overheard quotes ever was from one stoned hippie to another "dude, the fair used to be all about yes, yes, yes, but now it's just about no, no, no." Fortunately, the rules combine to make things work with such a huge group of people.

Fair family (staff, vendors, entertainers, etc) usually make up more than 5,000 people. Visitors are welcome during the day from 11am to 7pm, and the attendance is usually so good that they have to cap the number who can come. Most years 18,000 people PER DAY visit the fair. They come to eat as much as they can hold (there are more than 200 different food booths last time I checked) listen to music (there are more than ten different stages), look at the crafts, and just sort of soak up the, ahem, unusual atmosphere. Where else might you be accosted by giant chickens while looking at a topless woman painted blue?

Many people associate the fair with stoned hippies, and they do attend, but the bulk of people are just there to have fun. Allow me to just grab my goody-two-shoes from the closet. Ah, there we are now I've got them on, and they are just SO comfortable. I have never done drugs at the fair (or anywhere for that matter), and I really don't think I ever will. Drugs are bad m-kay. If you are not familiar with the fair this will seem like a digression but trust me it's not.

Moving on, the booths are all situated along a pedestrian-only path that is just barely wide enough for service vehicles. Only the very patient (or the very stupid) drive their goods in. Most people just park their cars outside the loop and haul stuff in by hand or by carts. This is a very heavy job, and it usually takes several people several hours to get everything unloaded. Once everything is in, we begin to set up the camp in the back and decorate the booth at the front. We use fabric (and this year a carpet) to decorate, and we hang t-shirts by size. When finished, the booth should look bright and welcoming with lots of fascinating merchandise. We can print just about anything on the t-shirts that is not under copy write. We've done dragons (very successful), medieval woodblocks (somewhat successful), and quotes from Ben Franklin (not very successful). Every year it is a challenge to think up something new.

Even with all the above, I think I can safely say that it is impossible to really describe the fair using words. Even pictures are only so helpful. It is a very unique experience to say the least. Some people love to visit, others can't stand it, and never want to go back. I am looking forward to my 27th visit next year.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

It Lives!

Despite all the toing and froing about the mechanic and the tow truck, my car is once again fixed! What was the matter? Shock of all shocks! The car was flooded! After the nice-but-slightly-dense mechanic believed it for himself it took hardly any time to get things cleaned out and running nicely again. Of course "fixed" and "running" are relative terms, and you never know when things may change for the worse. Either I need to buy a new car or take some extensive courses in auto repair. Nevertheless, I am once again an independent person, and I cannot complain about that.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More Fun With Cars

To borrow directly from a clever friend of mine--- Welcome to my pity party!

We got home from our trip this afternoon. I pushed to leave Portland early so I would have plenty of time to call the mechanic, renew AAA, and wait for the tow truck. In other words, I had accepted the situation, and I was prepared to deal with things. If only it could have been that easy. The mechanic, it turns out, is on vacation for the next two weeks (his entire shop that is) so I have no one to do the work. I had another recommendation from a friend, but when I went online to vet them I found an entire webpage devoted to how awful they are. Okay, next plan, I did some more research and found a place with good ratings and a AAA recommendation. They actually answered their phone AND they said that, yes, they do work on rotary engines. Sure, they are going to charge me $100 just to find out what is wrong (hello! It's flooded!) but at least they will do the work. Next, I called AAA to request the tow. My favorite (oh my god! I have a favorite towing company!) and most reliable towing company was "experiencing delays" and they would have to farm it out to someone else. The someone else came without calling first (bad towing manners), backed the car out crooked (bad towing technique), wanted me to steer it up the ramp (bad towing policy), and then failed to secure both sides with straps (bad towing mojo). In short, I was not impressed, and I missed my regular guys. Oh well, supposedly it survived the trip, and they will get started with "the diagnosis" (I told you IT'S FLOODED!!!) tomorrow. I really hope the car gods are finished having a laugh at my expense.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Oregon Country Fair

Free WiFi is a beautiful thing! I'm sitting on the rough wooden benches in the back of our booth at the fair. The drum tower is in full swing, the noodle booth is frying up a storm nextdoor ("One chicken MURGI!!!"), there is tye-die everywhere, and the parade should be passing by soon. We are not making loads of money, but fortunately we don't care that much any more. We are having a wonderful time, and I will be sure to post more later (with pics is hope).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

4th of July

"Mere vaporing and boasting become a nation as little as a man. But honest, outspoken pride and faith in our country are infinitely better and more to be respected than the cultivated reserve which sets it down as ill-bred and in bad taste ever to refer to our country except by way of deprication, criticism, or general negation. We have a right to be proud of our vast material success, our national power and dignity, our advancing civilization, carrying freedom and education in its train. But to count our wealth and tell our numbers and rehearse our great deeds simply to boast of them is useless enough. We have a right to do it only when we listen to the solemn undertone which brings the message of great responsibilities — responsibilities far greater than the ordinary political and financial issues, which are sure to find, sooner or later, a right settlement." - Henry Cabot Lodge, Americanism

Happy 4th of July! My deep, dark secret is that I think this is a truly great country based on profound ideals. This nation has, dare I say it, effected positive change in a thousand different quarters, and it can be a very real force for good. If you bring up these ideas in front of most people they practically fall over themselves to remind you about all the ugly and tragic things connected to this country. I am fully, painfully, aware of the darkness- thank you very much- but I refuse to submit entirely to those who would do nothing but disdain.

The ideals of this country allow me, a young, unmarried woman, to be more than the chattel of my father or my husband, to study where and what I want and as much as I choose, to earn my own living based on my own merits, to choose my religion (or lack thereof), my philosophies, and opinions, and to talk about them as little or as much as I like, to read and write and think freely, to associate with anyone and everyone, and finally, to vote with reasonable assurance (don't start with me!) that my ballot will be counted.

You may argue that these rights are available in many places around the globe, but my point is that this was not always the case. The United States is responsible for assisting in the propagation of these ideas, and I think that cannot be other than a very good thing. Therefore, happy 4th of July; long live the republic! Down with the monkey's butt!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fair Prep

In three days we are heading down to the Oregon Country Fair. This will be my 26th fair since I was born, and my family has been attending for more than 30 years. Yes, it is a hippy fair. Yes, there are people there who don't wear too many clothes. Yes, there are people who drink or smoke things while there. Yes, many people there are overly fond of patchouli. However, I have never done any of these things at the fair, and yet I still manage to have a great time.

First, you get to spend some time with at least some of the family. I hardly ever get to see both my brothers at the same time let alone for several days on end (they are nice even if they do tease me ALL the time).

Second, it's a little world all to its own, and so you don't really have time to think about all the other stuff like your job, world affairs, or traffic on 520. You hardly even remember that 520 exists.

Third, its great fun to stroll around with M and other people and look at all the crafts, shows, and strange people.

Forth, it is actually kind of entertaining to run a tiny business for a few days. We always spend some time conferring about what will sell, and which colors to buy, and how many people might want.

Fifth, the FOOOOD! This place is by no means gourmet. Instead, it's more like a wide variety of street food. For any meal you can choose between falafel, phad thai, gumbo, or greek salad just to name a few. Sometimes I find myself jonesing for a Tia Supreme burrito in the middle of winter.

Sixth, it's tradition! I love the way this event doesn't change much in character from year to year. It really is like a little world, and you can imagine that you were never really away from one year to the next.

Viva la peach!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Dead Car

Ack! I have gotten used to the fact that my car, at 16 years old, is not exactly reliable. However, I also thought I knew at least some of its foibles, so I could try to avoid doing anything that would annoy it. I know, for example, that it is more likely to flood in cold weather, so I try to minimize the risks of flooding during the coldest months of the year (very short trips, parking overnight on a hill, not starting it for long periods). But this is July. Surely, based on all I have learned, I should be safe in July (are you laughing at me already?). Yesterday I decided to take out the lawn mower which is located in the corner of the garage. Due to garage configuration, this means I have to back the car out first. Normally I get M to help me push it out so I don't have to start it, but M was at work so I started it up, pulled it out, and turned it off again(oh the humanity!). I then went off and mowed the lawn. A couple of hours later I came out to drive downtown, and, you guessed it, the car would not start. Even though it is July the car is well and truly flooded. Now it needs a flatbed ride to the mechanic who will clean it out and get it running again. I am getting to know my mechanic and my tow truck driver REALLY well, and it sucks (not that they aren’t guys and everything).

This is the part where sane people are saying "but this car is old, old, old, why can't you get a new car made in, say, the last decade? Then the problem would be solved." Yes, a new car would certainly ameleorate the reliability problem. There is just one fatal flaw with this plan; I am REALLY attached to the old car. It is cute, it is sporty, it goes like a top (when it goes), and my brother gave it to me when I was a penniless college student. I LOVE this car. If I could just shrink it down to toy size I would keep it on my bookshelf and be happy. However, the science is just not keeping up with me on this one. The only thing to do is bite the bullet, sell the old car, and buy some new, non-exciting, non-special, something. At least the next time I need a new car I won't mind so much.