Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Very overdue for an update.

So last Friday, Sat., and Sunday, I was working away in the library, finishing up my last long paper… Discovered the joys of working in the library, surprisingly, since at MHC I avoided it during finals period due to germ issues. Jill & I actually arrived about an hour before the lib. opened on Sunday morning. Get this: during finals week, Stanford’s library didn’t open until NOON on Sunday. This seemed bizarre after MHC’s 24 hour policy, and then even the reduced early morning to 2 am compromise. I definitely took for granted the better access to the administrative powers…

Anyways, so Monday I finished up & packed… Tuesday morning I headed out early for my flight (way early, I had 3 hours to kill at the San Jose airport)… and learned the ropes of using mass transit in my new area. Still prefer my bike to the Marguerite, but… it’s helpful when you’ve got a huge suitcase.

Met up with Mer & Mum at the escalators in PDX (after some confusion), and headed into Portland for shopping. We found a very cool store (Presents of Mind), outside of which I got into a conversation with a gay rights activist & made a donation to the cause. Then Mer & I tried on gobs of clothes at Buffalo Exchange. After going through our painfully slow decision making process, we grocery shopped at Trader Joe’s (and I almost lost a mitten), drove through an unlit Peacock Lane, & had dinner at Skipper’s w/ much laughter over “hush puppies.” Great homecoming, w/ Tim at the door and Prissy expectantly looking at me (first time EVER that this cat has shown an interest in my being home again).

Select quotes:

Mom at Buffalo Exchange: “Those sweaters match really well. Too bad you can’t wear them both at once!”

On Mer’s stomach growling: “No digestion without representation!”

Gosh. So… what have I done since then. Weds. Mer & I headed down to Hood River and I got some more of my Hanukkah shopping done (aka, Andrew’s presents). We realized at some point that we were starving, so rather than grabbing coffee we walked over to the Crazy Pepper for some (as always) amazing Mexican food.

Thurs. we headed back into town – I hung out at the library ostensibly working on my intro to grad final while Mer shopped for me. Actually, I caught up on NYT articles, political blogs, and www.gofugyourself.com. I did finish writing the first paragraph, however, which seemed like a huge victory at the time.

So afterwards, we got some pretty amazing mochas at Dog River Coffee, and I got some more work done on my paper. I usually hate working in cafes due to noise issues, but (much like the library discovery) I’m finding it’s actually rather enjoyable when you’re in the right sort of café. Luckily, Hood River is not a university town, so one can still sit and drink coffee and work without being surrounded by other people doing the same. Refreshing to be the only one working on a paper in a given establishment.

Helped Mum w/ dinner – rice & bean mixture w/ kale & Mum’s amazing home grown & home canned tomatoes.

Thurs. we again headed into town – I again worked in the library, and got a first draft out. Dinner involved elk meat and spaghetti. I tried the elk (since it was wild & hunted), but found after one meatball that I just couldn’t do it. Hadn’t had red meat since the summer – wasn’t ready to really restart. Plus, elk meat has that gamey taste… The OC was excellent. Looking forward to Chrismakkuh w/ Andrew!

Anyway, Friday is difficult to remember now. At some point we watched The Bear though: a trippy movie in which bears are shamelessly personified and take drugs (otherwise known as psychedelic mushrooms).

Speaking of difficult to pinpoint events, we attempted to do something Chrismas-y each day. First was positioning & decorating the tree… I made some Christmas playlists for our soundtrack, and we got all the old favorites up on the branches. A couple days later I had a wrapping session, and got all the gifts under the tree. Mum’s been in a baking frenzy (partly due to events yet to be narrated), and has made like 7 or 8 pies in the last couple of days, plum pudding, and a walnut pie (which is amazing). We also made fudge soon after I arrived. Calculated the calories in a batch : 5800. Per square, about 200, depending upon how large your cuts are (we got about 30).

Saturday is the big crazy day. We had our self-scheduled Christmas, w/ Mer & I opening stockings and opening one another’s gifts. Surprised Mum w/ perfume & hiking boot money. I’m particularly excited about the coasters Mer got me. Must try out this mint julep recipe. Also found a perfume scent for Mer that seemed appropriate: beleaf. Mum & Tim surprised me w/ pink poodle figurines, which will stay under glass till I’m more settled geographically.

All was going well, until someone (probably me) had the bright idea of heading up to Laurence Lake to see the snowy sights. Well, as Mer was being nice and pulled aside for a small car to speed down the road, we got stuck on the none-too-plowed road up to the lake. At first it wasn’t so bad… just a bit nosed into the snow. Backing up proved fatal, as we started going into the ditch. Called up Scott, who w/ a neighbor and a handful of passersby directed our rescue operation. People shoveled snow out from under the wheels, pushed the jeep, and gave advice. The truck w/ chain attached to the jeep couldn’t pull it out, so at one point we had a truck & an SUV hooked up via winch to a tree and somehow… they finally got us out. Wheels spun without catching, the brakeline busted, and then Mom (keep in mind, no brakes) rear ended Scott’s truck (but we were the only ones damaged, luckily the fog light was the only casualty). Eek. Inched down the hill in first gear, watched one of our helpers get stuck in the snow as everyone tried to prevent him from backing into the same ditch that got us (Scott got him out, too, though his gears were messed up, something about a transmission box breaking).

Anyway, we got down the hill using emergency breaks, and turned into Scott & Linda’s, where we were greeted w/ tea & woodstoves burning. After figuring out our plan of attack in car repairs, we headed home in Tim’s truck. I made chili & compiled the blue cornbread mix from TJ’s. Yums. Kind of made up for our misadventure, and our frozen toes.

Mom started baking “thank you” pies that night – which we had to deliver the next day. SNL was freaking hilarious. The digital short about Narnia & cupcakes was our favorite. Debbie Downer’s Christmas was a close second. However, couldn’t figure out Neil Young.

Sunday was ridiculous. As Mer says, we visited half the people that we know in this valley. Scott & Linda’s for a pie drop off, Catherine & Marcus’s for an alpaca holiday event (not kidding), one of our helper’s for another pie drop off (where a pack of barking dogs attempting to get themselves run over as they “escorted” us down the driveway), Grammy’s for a visit, the café for chai & the grand electronic send off of my last final paper, Arlene’s for a visit, Rosauer’s for dinner ingredients… we were hungry, exhausted, and relieved of pies by the time we got home. Dinner was snappy, as we’d gotten a frozen concoction. Later, toward midnight, Mer & I decided to have a snowy adventure. Walked to the pipes, sat in the quiet imagining elk, and then went home for a late night of hilarious dating shows.

Ripped from Mer’s blog, here are some quotes w/ my parenthetical comments:

"He really does like, consume people."
-Becky, about a guy making out with women on Elimidate (it was truly zombie like).

"Will Mike choose Tracy, or the egg donor?"
-Host of Elimidate

"Oh, someone's gonna get elimidated. Oh, no, someone's gonna have to watch the "Bod" commercial for the 50th time."
-Becky, concerning false dramatic pause and subsequent commercial break (they seriously played the commercial up to four times during EACH break. Sometimes even back to back alternate versions of the same d&#* ad).

"He's groovin' to that windchime"
-Becky, concerning "Third Eye" commercial (in which an unshaven guy in baggy clothes strums a wind chime and starts kinda dancing).

"She just craves that fresh water like a hippie craves a windchime."
-Me (i.e., Merrie, since this is from her blog), concerning Prissy and her faucet habit

So, for today:

Mum woke me up early (that is, before 9 am) as they’d spotted a herd of elk in the orchard. Right outside our front window, really, a whole herd grazing on the fallen apples. As they moved about, we caught sight of one spike or just a few pointed bull, which was way exciting, until we realized that an even larger bull was out there. He had probably about five points, and he was just a huge animal, as Mer says, “judging from how huge the rack was,” he must have had a decent amount of points. Mer tells me that bulls take “harems” during the mating season. So guess that’s what we were seeing. We’re not really sure what was up with the younger bull, but he must not have seemed a threat. Something spooked the herd, and they headed back up to the ditch & the hills.

Mer & I later decided to track them… which wasn’t too difficult in the snow, and with all the broken saplings, droppings, and shed fur. Mer spotted a number of small trees stripped bare by antlers. Got some cool photos in macro mode to document the trip. The highlight, though, was when Mer recognized these shrill bleats as elk communicating with one another (and probably warning of our presence, as we were none too quiet with our puffy coats catching on every limb and our boots crunching through the snow). These noises went on for about five minutes, with us crouching in the snow that was quickly melting through even my three layers of pants. After the bleating had stopped, I was ready to head homewards and take in the snowy views, so I ended up leaving Mer and tried to make as much noise as possible on the return trip to (we hoped) calm the elk into thinking we had left. Had some moments looking at the views of the valley hillsides in snow, and this ancient sign on a tree…

Helped with dinner – we had tilapia w/ garlic, onions, and tomatoes, and my new favorite veggie side, involving kale.

After, as Medium was a repeat, Mer & I watched Lady and the Tramp. Realized upon rewatching (it had been years), that there are huge issues being worked out in that film… all the different representations of immigration & ethnicity, class (the “kennel club”), not to mention gender roles. EEK. I used to love those old Disney films, and now I can’t imagine showing them to kids without a whole lecture attached.

Anyway, must go now. Will leave w/ a link to an awesome article from the NYT on health care reform for this country.



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