Sunday, July 22, 2007

oregon country fair

Last weekend I went to the Oregon Country Fair. The Oregon Country Fair isn't your typical county carnival with rides and midway games, but more of a hippie festival, with a focus on music, sustainability, hand made art and crafts, ideas, and fun. The weather was nice and I had a lot of fun, I listened to a variety of musicians, spent time with new friends, and engaged in an immense amount of people watching.

As fun as the country fair can be, my experience is it's more fun when you work for or know someone who is a vendor. Many years ago I spent the weekend there working for a vendor, a food vendor selling grilled sausages. I had free admission to the fair and could camp in the space behind the booth, and in return I worked three 2 to 3-hour shifts chopping onions and peppers and prepping supplies. The fair is only open to the general public from 11 AM to 8 PM, but after the fair closes a different sort of party commences. The whole entire campsite is illuminated in candlelight, lamplight and reflections off of disco balls. It was like floating around a beautiful city of lights. There were a whole new schedule of musicians playing on a few different stages, people were dancing and drumming, there seemed to be much more energy at night. One of the nights I was there I saw a midnight break dancing show that was the most incredible display of break dancing talent I haver ever seen. These guys were full-on flipping around were acting just like robots. It was awesome.

My friend that I went with last weekend knew a few people who were working at a recycled clothing booth. From the front of the booth, it appeared to be a roughly a wooden storefront, with a second story open windowed structure allowing for private camping or living space. We went behind the curtains and there were few people up on the second floor of this "fort," talking and/or playing musical instruments. The hospitality from these newly made friends was incredible; without really knowing me I'm offered drinks, food, was great hanging out behind this booth because it seemed as if it were in the trees, with a tent-mesh enclosure that permitted us to see the crowd walking by outside, but rendered us invisible to the crowd up in the hideaway,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rumor Control

Just in case you needed clarification...

...and more on hospitality coming soon!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


We had an earthquake this evening about 8:45 PM, which ended up registering 3.3 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was in Canby, which is about 20 miles south/southwest of Portland. The whole thing must have lasted 4 seconds; it set forth a geological shudder that seemed more significant then a large truck driving by or a neighbor stomping around. At the time it happened, I was sitting on the floor watching TV and I felt a sudden and strong shaking. The windows creaking for that second resembled a great pressure, as if a tremendous force were pressing against the frame while the frame pushed back. But something strange I noticed was that the glass ornaments hanging from the window latch didn't kilnk against the glass. And none of the pictures on the wall moved, and the hanging plants remained stationary. My neighborhood seemed exceptionally quiet.

The earthquake started strong for 2 seconds, and then tapered down to nothing, leaving a quiet emptiness that had me wondering if that was just an earthquake.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Misty Mountain Farm

The weekend before last I went to visit a friend named Lynn who lives along Hwy 30 in Oregon, the road you take from Portland to Astoria and the Pacific coast. She lives in a small town named Clatskanie (pronounced Clat-ska-nie), and it wa absolutely beautiful. Lynn and her family have 2 horses, 1 llama, 3 goats, 2 peacocks, 2 turkeys, many chickens, a rabbit, a dog and a cat. At first I was scared of the llama, because when I parked near his corral, he came running over. I was expecting him to spit on my windshield or something, my only knowledge of a llama is what I saw on Napoleon Dynamite. Lynn reassured me that their llama, Mocha, is nothing like the Napoleon Dynamite llama, and I soon discovered that Mocha was the friendliest animal I have ever met. He was like a 4 year old crossed with a big cat or something. He was very expressive and receptive, and seemingly had facial expressions of happiness, concern, worry and anger.

At one point Mocha was so overly excited that he sneezed a mouthful of llama saliva, snot and grass on my face. And as timing would have it, my mouth happened to be a little open when this happened. I wanted to vomit, it was so awful. My only saving grace is that I was wearing my ridiculously big sunglasses, which took the brunt of the snot grass mixture.

The other animals were great too. Lynn's farm was really nice and well kept, and didn't smell like a farm at all. If the horses shit, I had no idea where.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

happy 7th of july!

Well, I'm still researching firework related accidents. I read several articles all citing a 27 year old mother of 3 who had some illegal fireworks blow up in her face, killing her instantly. That was about the only article I repeatedly saw. There were a bunch of generic articles about drinking and driving, and traffic related accidents, but those accidents don't really count as firework related accidents. The people in my neighborhood are still lighting off fireworks, I can't believe they still have stuff to light off. Since the 4th of July was on a Wednesday this year, many of us had to work on Thursday. The small percentage of people who didn't have to work made sure they carried on the festivities throughout the night. And since it's been hot here, we all have open windows. The result was every time I'd start to fall asleep, another explosion or high pitched whistle would jolt me awake and I would immediately wonder if my car was still intact. I can't even imagine what the people with PTSD go through, especially if they're recently back from the war.

I think the media and news outlets downplay the fireworks accidents, unless they're particularly injurious or gruesome. I did stumble upon, a comprehensive website keeping you up to date with any amusement park related criminal activity, ride accidents, injuries or deaths.

So I've been going out to dinner twice a month with a few neighbors--the old ladies of the neighborhood, I'm easily 1/2 the age of the other dinner-goers. We went out on that Thursday and devoted about 20 minutes of conversation about bitching about the fireworks that kept us all up. I can't believe any of these women didn't suffer a cardiac arrest. I like to spice things up a bit when I go out with these women, so I'll throw a fiery topic into the mix. I transitioned from "how the fireworks annoyed me last night" to "do you think it's appropriate women breast feed in public?" One of the ladies in our group elaborated and said she was out at a restaurant eating lunch when a woman sitting at the table next to her whipped out her breast and started feeding her infant who was "just out of the chamber."

Anyway, other hot transition topics have been:
  • What was on Oprah today (I miss out on this one because I work)
  • What's been happening on "Days Of Our Lives" (I have been watching this soap on and off since 1983, and stay updated by visiting
  • The war (any of them)
  • The president and the government (usually segwayed from the previous topic)
  • People putting pressure on women to have children (how come society's doesn't promote adoption?)
  • Jobs that haven't worked out and why
  • Growing up with multiple siblings we fought with (okay, this doesn't really apply to me but fun to listen to)
  • How late the medical transport service got me to my medical appointment (this doesn't really apply to me)
  • Prescription drugs and combinations that give you a buzz (this also doesn't apply to me)
  • Gossip about the other women who couldn't make it
  • Critiquing what the remainder of the group has ordered
Each time we're out we decide on where to meet next, and usually go to some Denny's type of place. The area of town we meet in is known for having a variety of restaurants in a few block radius, and is a half way point for those of us who live in my area, and the other women who live in the suburb east of here. It's usually more fun then I think it will be when I go out, at least the conversations are funny and I can always find something to eat on the menu.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July

Fireworks are dangerous, loud and incredibly polluting. Every year there are tons of injuries and deaths associated with fireworks. Just generically peruzing the news this morning, I read that a 4 year old boy lit off a closet of fireworks in his home around 7 AM. I couldn't believe that, what a horrible thing to happen to someone so young. How did the kid know there were fireworks in the closet? How did he know to get and light matches to set off the fireworks?

Apparently, there were so many fireworks packed into this closet (I'm sure with many other fuel sources, too) that when the kid lit one, the entire closet blew up into a fireball. The boy was trapped in the closet and burned to death. There were a couple of adults in the house at the time of the fire, parents I think, or roommates of the parents. Everyone else got out okay, but the boy's father sustained several serious burns trying to get the boy out of the burning closet.

But anyway, I'm sitting outside on a nice cool 78 degree breezy evening, and the waterfront's grand firework finale is clearly audible. The amount of carcinogens and flaming toxic debris that a firework display sets into the air is incomprehensible; now imagine that happening all over the enitre country, north, south, east and west.

When I was a teenager and living in Florida, it was kind of a neighborhood tradition to go to the Safety Harbor Rec Center's firework display. It was the nicest in the immediate area, and year after year I was impressed by the caliber of colors, effects and sounds. It was put on annually by the Safety Harbor Fire Department and everyone from Safety Harbor and nearby towns BBQ'ed in the parking lot all day to prepare for the show at night.

One year the show was much more interesting then in years past. In the middle of the systematic launching of fireworks, there was a strange noise, then it seemed as if quite a few fireworks went off on the ground. The flash was so bright it seemed like a supernova, or a tear in the time-space continuum. After that, the show stalled, then the ambulance came roaring across the field to where the firework launchers were. It seemed pretty serious, and the next day we learned that guy's arm was blown off. Freaky.

Now the grand finale at the waterfront is over, and all the amateur drunk neighbors are launching off their explosive investments. Many people who live in Portland drive to Washington to get the really good fireworks. Lucky for them it's a 20 minute trip north on I-5. Washington fireworks are illegal here, but that doesn't stop at least one person per block from setting off 6 dozen between 10 PM and 12 AM.

Anyway it was nice to have the day off. I think I'm going to follow up on how many firework related injuries and deaths occurred this past 4th.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mt. Hood Scramble -- results and aftermath

Well, the Mt. Hood Scramble results are in, and I finished in 290th place (out of 374). My actual racing time was 1 hour, 46 minutes and 59 seconds, which doesn't seem bad seeing as how I injured my ankle about 1/2 way through the race. Maggie stayed with me through the rest of the race, and she finished 289th place. Maybe a good goal for next year would to finish in the top 200.

Anyway, after the race...the next day my ankle swelled up to twice its size, and took on an ashy-bluish color. I honestly think it looked a lot worse then it felt. I was able to hobble around on it, but many people were strongly suggesting that I go get an x-ray. My boss saw it, and after I explained that I don't have time for an x-ray, he said to me, "You know, the funny thing about x-rays is that doctors can see inside your foot to determine if anything's broken or wrong." If only you could have been in the room when he delivered that dry sarcasm, it was really funny. So reluctantly I went to the Urgi-center to get some professional care.

I ended up sitting in the Urgi-center for about 3 1/2 hours, and was seen by 6 different people, not counting the cashier who forgot to give back my insurance card. After I was x-rayed, the doctor met with me for about 4 minutes to show me the x-ray, and explain that I didn't break anything, but tore all the ligaments in my foot. The doctor actually said "you tore ligaments." and I said "Oh, really? which ones?" and he replied "all of them." I'm not sure how many there are, but I sure can feel them when I sleep on my foot wrong or step funny.

After the diagnosis, the doctor left and the cast-and-leg brace-ologist came in the room to fit me for a KISS army boot. Seriously, this boot was designed to keep my ankle stable, went half-way up my thigh and had several velcro belt straps the whole way up my leg. It was also quite a few inches higher then my other foot, and I was warned by one of the nurses that I'll be experiencing hip and back problems from wearing the brace.

So 20 minutes later, I peeled the boot off and mentally vowed to be as careful as possible. So far it's been about weeks and I feel pretty good. I'm able to walk up stairs, bike ride, go for walks with hardly any discomfort. There's another scramble on July 15th (McCubbins Gulch, also on Mt. Hood), and maybe I'll have recovered enough to participate.