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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hot Dogs for Jesus

It's the tail end of the summer. The last of the dog days of August. And it's a time that always reminds me of my growing up and my stints at the Western Idaho State Fair in Boise. It always happened during this time of the year, just before we were subjected to our back to school ickiness. It was always a time of zippy rides, mom and dad holding us tightly at their sides as we traversed the scariness of the midway, smoke and haze in the air, the 4-H animal tents, staring at the Beer Garden and wondering what type of person would be "in there," begging for a Carmel apple knowing full well that I wouldn't actually finish it, and smelling the yummy churros, grilled onions, and burgers. Oh, and the hot dogs. Yeah, the hot dogs....which brings me to another point.

I was a member of Central Assembly Christian Life Center in Boise for years. We had a giant choir called the Singing Ambassadors -- about 120 members. At 9pm sharp each night, we'd sing a one-hour extravaganza of upbeat, happy Christian music on the Main Stage. The place was usually packed. Everything we did, we did for Jesus. Everything. Including the hot dog booth that we ran each and every year at the Fair. It was a modified single-wide trailer that we sold all sorts of hot dogs out of. We had names for different kinds of funky names for the dogs (the entirety of which I can't quite remember right now) -- like Missionary Dog, Junior for Jesus Dog, and others that I don't' recall. And we had this giant wooden HOT DOGS FOR JESUS sign up over the front of the booth to advertise the holiest of dogs on the midway at the fair. We'd work late into the night, clean up, and be back the next day to witness our way to people's hearts and stomachs through a hot dog. Who would have thought that a hot dog would bring people to their knees at the alter of the Lord?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bloggers Kick It Up a Notch in India

The delicious, spicy tones of India House combined with a nice array of good friends made our evening perfect. Spot on, as the Brits would say. I can't spell it out any more clearly than my buddy at Blogography, so I'll leave the dirty work up to him. Suffice it to say, that we had a blast with Mr. Hotness Blogography, Master Iron Fist 2008, and -- the beauty of the whole group -- Ms. TSM herself. Cheer to you all, my friends!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Incest Is Best

Why in the world would Grandaddy Johnny pick his very pretty Granddaughter soccer mom-turned governor to be his running mate? Oh, I know.....she's a conservative and all of that. But that glaring lack of any national or foreign policy experience seems to be a serious liability, rather than an asset, to the ticket. She could seriously be his daughter or even granddaughter. Just look at them. It's the strangest faces you've ever seen together on any ticket, let alone a GOP ticket. Ever. The old and the young. Sort of like an AARP commercial recruiting new members. Or his mistress. But she does bring Jesus to the ticket. And guns. And that's a huge player in this nation of nonthinking, nonanalytical Christians who could care less about the long-term effects of such a choice in this terrorism-filled world. "It's okay, Jesus will help her....," I can just hear it now. We've got a nation filled with white bread families -- one daddy, one mommy, and 2.5 little cute children plus a nice mini van -- who will vote for her. Absentminded. No ability to process right from wrong. And no sense to actually stand up for themselves and speak out. They'll follow the encouragement of their pastors and other good Christian figures .... right off of a cliff if they must (remember Jonestown??). But they will never have the ability to step forth and say, "No, I won't support her." She just doesn't have what it takes to actually be President of this country were something to happen to McCain. It's not pretty, folks. It's damned scary, quite frankly, that's all they could come up with. But, realistically speaking, you watch, you wait, you'll see....I'm afraid we're in for a very long, sad and scary next two months. And hate me if you must, but as much energy and excitement as I am feeling for the Obama-Biden ticket, I have this (continued) sinking feeling for the people of this nation and their ability to make well-balanced, right, proper, responsible decisions.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why Is It That I Feel This Way ??

Why is it that I have giant tears in my eyes when I listen? Why is it that I have never in my 46 years felt the way I do tonight? Why is it that in spite of all that I've gone through, that my family has dealt with, and all that our nation has endured that I've never felt the way I do tonight. I hope you feel it too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Best in Summertime Food

What is it about truly good food that turns me on? I mean, there are times that I get actual goosebumps over seeing or tasting a particular food. To see what someone has artistically put of themselves into a meal -- what they've created and developed -- makes me happy. And there's nothing like vegetables straight out of someone's garden. So, when we found ourselves around the table with my family in Idaho last weekend, I was more then happy to devour a whole plethora of home grown foods including juicy ripe tomatoes sliced with ribbons of basil straight off of the plant and sweet corn with butter and salt. I could have eaten them all night long. And to see my mom's bouquet of sweet peas on the kitchen counter reminded me of growing -- when she would plant a whole wall of the sweet peas with little strings running up and down the wall for the plants to grow on. The flowers are so sweet with fragrance. It reminded me of summers gone by.
And then, on our last day there, it hit me....my mind started whirring, thinking, wondering..... I grabbed some green tomatoes from the vine, tossed in just a little fresh ripened red tomatoes, a bit of summer peach, a finely diced jalapeno, basil, salt and pepper, olive oil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to create a sort of salsa. I piled it inside of a pita bread sandwich but it could just as easily been served alongside a charbroiled chicken breast or piece of fish. Or with warm tortilla chips. It was delicious and disappeared quickly.
And should I mention the homemade peace cobbler -- warm and straight out of the oven -- that we finished off our meal with? See, there are some horribly redeeming qualities about Idaho.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Boise or Bust

415 miles on I-84 brought us home at 12:30pm today. 36-38 mpg on the new Camry hybrid made us even happier. Here are the pics. It's always a bittersweet journey -- back home to where I was born, raised, and lived until ten years ago. Things change, you know. People evolve. Places aren't quite like they used to be. That's both good and not so pretty. But we always enjoy the reuniting and good food. And visiting with my sister for her, ahem, 21st birthday was a blast. And there's nothing like the drive along the Columbia River and through Oregon's and Idaho's farm country. And the wind farms are going up rapidly....many more than we saw even just last April.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

You Know You're In Idaho When ---

Well, this sign is a dead giveaway. Plus these overheard comments:

"The Japs make a pretty good car....."

"The damned Jew bitch...."

"The Mormons have three, four or five Jesus's......"

That's is so far ----


Auntie and I pounding one wicked margarita back at lunch.

Morning Coffee Boise Idaho

At my Mom's place to surprise my sister for her birthday-415 miles in the hybrid took 3/4 of a tank!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bitches R Us

Well, looky here at what my little Malti-Poo is sporting these days. It's a gift from a friend of ours. He went to the manscaper this morning....and boy did his daddys get in trouble. Bad daddy! Bad daddy! The groomer pointed out how matted his hair is (hair, not fur, for malti-poos). He must be brushed every single day....and get rid of the harness...it mats down the hair even more. Sigh. When will parenthood ever take root in me? Anyway, the irony of the shirt is that he is a totally loving, non-aggressive, no attitude sort of pup. The shirt makes us both giggle. I'm wondering if I can get my flabby self wrestled into that shirt?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Master and Commander

Picture it....Saturday Night, 20:54, Portland Airport:

The airport is packed. People moving up and down the escalators, everyone piled up around the baggage claim belts. I'm all dressed in blue polyester, coiffed appropriately, and semi-rested for my all-night flight to Orlando. I'm pulling my regulation 22" roller suitcase through the revolving turnstile door. And there's a, maybe, ten or twelve year old kid with fire in his eyes playing in the revolving door...going 'round and 'round. Just having fun and wasting a little time. He's not shy.....and he spots me......

The Fiery Kid: Hey, what are you?

Me: What? Me? Just coming to work.

The Fiery Kid: So, are you a COMMANDER?

Me: A Commander? Oh man, no. Just a flight attendant.

The Fiery Kid: Oh.

End of story. What is a commander, anyway? Maybe I am one and didn't even know it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Condo Life

It's long overdue. But here are pictures of our new condominium. I haven't done any staging or making it look all pretty. Yes, you'll see the dog's collar on the counter and no towels hanging on the bathroom rack. You'll see our desk just the way it is....and the place that this post and all of my blogging occurs. It's au natural....just plain old us. We're really enjoying it. It's pretty simple. Except for this one nagging thing -- hauling the dog's arse up and down three flights of stairs many, many times a day. Ugh. But it is giving these skinny, pale, pasty legs a little workout. I shouldn't complain. He's a wonderful puppy. So, enough. Go and enjoy the photo extravaganza.
Oh, and just one more thing: In the above pic, we are the little small deck on the top floor, 4th from the right side or second from the left side....with the black BBQ grill that you can hardly make out in this pic. It faces east. And right outside of our door is eight wonderful blocks of all kinds of restaurants, fitness center, gift shops, coffee and ice cream, deli sandwiches, a bank, an old local neighborhood market, an antique shop, a bamboo workshop and walking garden, and a ton of other things. It's absolutely perfect. And have I mentioned the view of Mt. Hood from our living room?

Storm's a Comin' and Fried Twinkies in Orlando

I swear, you guys are my bestest friends ever. From fried Twinkies at Hamburger Mary's to cute waiters to lifting up my shirt out on the busy street corner for Sorted to pick me up, the day was a happy occasion. We had a very nice afternoon of exploring Orlando's downtown areas and tromping in front of the Caylee Anthony house with all of the media across the street waiting for a break in this heart-wrenching story of a missing three-year-0ld girl. We enjoyed a Starbuck's vanilla bean frappuccino and stuffed our faces with Combos while we talked trash flitting around in the Volvo. Mr. Stud and Boyfriend from Mid-Afternoon Snack joined us (we'll be seeing them in Portland in a few weeks) and, thankfully, Mike Says and hubby were there too. Oh, and the really cool part? My camera stayed in my pocket the whole day. Not a single pic shot. Nice, huh? Fortunately, Mr. Handsome Mike Says has a few on his site.....no comments about the red shoes, please. We've exhausted every trashy comment you can imagine already. And now, 5 hours and 11 minutes brought me back to Portland. What a great day, you guys. Many many thanks. I'll be thinking about you this week. Oh, and if you weren't there, we did talk about you. FYI.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Faith and Friends From the Past

Tonight begins a three-day celebration in Anaheim, California. And I was supposed to have been there. But I just couldn't force myself into it. Not that it would have been necessarily bad. But, perhaps, uncomfortable. And not just for me -- but for others as well. It's a gathering of one heck of a group of great musicians....vocalists, instrumentalists, lighting and sound technicians, administrative and management personnel from, quite literally, around the globe. It's the 40th anniversary celebration of The Continentals (formerly the Continental Singers). They began in 1967 (I know, it's actually the 41st year) in Portland, Oregon, by a true visionary Cam Floria. And he's still the guy heading up the group. It's a Christian missionary sort of organization that sings, dances, has costume changes, and does all sorts of musical mission work around the world. The likes of Sandi Patty, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, The Winans, Steven Curtis Chapman and plenty of others were connected with The Continentals to some degree. I traveled in 1982, twice in 1983, 1986, 1993, and twice in 1994. I spent one tour as an assistant director and two as the director of the group. It carried me to more than 30 states and 30 countries including behind the former Iron Curtain to Estonia and Poland. Truly once in a lifetime experiences that could never be recaptured. Each tour was three months and we did a minimum of one concert per day, many times more. We were up at 4am and up until past midnight most every night. It was exhausting. We spent thousands of miles on buses each tour. And some of the greatest years of my life. I've written about a good friend from the group here; about the KGW and Christian espionage here; and even about a little hanky pank here (oh yeah, it happens). I had almost every experience you can imagine during my years with the group. And, I must say, mostly good. I was challenged, stretched, asked to push myself personally and musically, and learn more than I could have ever imagined. During the height of the group's popularity, there were 15 groups in the summer consisting of nearly 40 people in each group. I think I've done more than a thousand concerts in large and small churches, fair and rodeo grounds, outside in grassy areas, in battlefields, on airplanes and cruise ships, in front of monuments and memorials, and in homes. We spent nearly every night in the homes of those from the churches that hosted us. We ate more spaghetti, lasagna, and fried chicken than you can imagine in church basements.
And all the while, I was gay. I knew it. I have no idea if they knew it. It's one of those areas of my life that still brings me great joy when I hear the music or look at the pictures....and there are thousands. I've been able to reconnect with a few friends since my coming out. Most have been horribly understanding. A few have not -- for which I pity them. You see, I would have had to take my partner with me -- in fact, I'd want to....I wouldn't do it any other way. And I'm so forthright now that it would be "just the way it is" when I introduced him to my past -- strangers to him. I would expect nothing but warmth and smiles from them. And I have a feeling that's exactly what I'd receive. Because they are that kind of people -- good, solid, happy folks with tremendous energy and drive. Even if our faiths are horribly different now. In fact, dramatically varied in paths. Tonight as my honey and I were driving along the Columbia River in the hot summer heat with Mt. Hood in front of us, I remembered that tonight a couple thousand of my former buddies were gathering to celebrate and remember in Anaheim. And I got kind of melancholy. I sort of wish that we were there. To say hi, throw hugs, remember the many crazy times from the past 40 years, listen to great music, and to -- maybe -- even allow them the opportunity to see that there are other beautiful pieces of life beyond what our eyes can actually see. Way beyond life on a pew. I miss them. I hope they miss me too.

Summertime Walla Walla Onions

It's summertime....and the livin' is easy. One of my all-time summer favorites is Walla Walla onions. I've mentioned them numerous times before in recipes. I like them peeled, left whole, dig out a notch in the top of them, insert a cube of bullion or whole garlic clove, and wrapped in foil. Cook for 45-60 minutes on the grill. They are fantastic sliced thin and perched high atop your favorite sandwich. Or grilled and caramelized on a garden burger with cheese and fresh avocado. Some folks, not me, eat them raw like an apple. They are that sweet! Or a variety of sandwiches such as peanut butter, onion and banana. The town of Walla Walla, Washington, has become famous for these beauties. It's a relatively new wine growing region and near the place where the Whitman Family was massacred in 1847.
The region and it's farm fields are one heck of a beautiful place to spend the weekend, drink a little wine, and grab yourself a bag of yummy onions on the way home.
And if you're lucky, maybe you'll even with the Miss Walla Walla contest.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Girl Gets Invited Back to the Party

Do you remember when it was only the girls who put out, the jocks, and the cheerleaders who got invited back to the parties over and over? Well, I sort of nosed my way back into a party this Sunday in Orlando -- in spite of being awfully close to a cheerleader and no resemblence whatsoever to a jock (well, the exception being my giant biceps). I have picked up an Orlando trip this coming weekend and will be meeting up with all of my buddies in Orlando on Sunday for a little lunch at Hamburger Mary's. If any of you are in the area and interested, be sure to email me soon for the details. In my nearly two years of blogging, I've found Orlando to be the home of my good friends Sorted Lives, Mike Says, Mid-Afternoon Snack, and Actor Schmactor among others. And this little gathering has happened a TIME or TWO or THREE or FOUR or FIVE or SIX. We've always had a great time and I expect that Sunday will be no exception. See you soon, boys!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pat Robertson's Nemesis

Looky what we spotted on the back of a car near our house recently. I just know that Pat Robertson would want to know that he's doing us all well. Look closely.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

39 MPG Anyone ??

Anybody else care to join the "Upper 30's MPG Club"? You'll recall that I asked you all about this a while back. And it's finally happened. These are very difficult to find cars. This one came onto the car lot at 11:30am and was ours by 3pm. Wild! It's beautiful and an excellent ride. Plus, the Hybrid technology is very cutting edge -- really teaches the driver how to accelerate, coast, brake to achieve the best MPG....you can actually see what your slightest movements on the accelerator pedal are doing to your MPG. So, the tank should get us around 550-600 miles instead of the 225-250 we were getting. Plus, it's emissions are far less. It's all over and tucked nicely into our parking garage.

Today is our old neighborhood's block party. It's rained a little over night and not overly warm, but tolerable (sounds like most of the year here in Oregon, quite frankly). We're taking the tortellini pasta I talked about the other day (only this time I'm turning it into a cold salad). Plus, we're taking a yummy, horribly easy, and horribly white trash dessert -- just put two bags of your choice of frozen fruit in a greased baking dish and add a box of your favorite cake mix to the top, dry with no water. Bake 350 for about 45 minutes (depends on the water content in the fruit you've used). I'm using chocolate fudge cake mix with one bag of dark cherries and one bag of peaches. We're expecting close to 75 people....maybe a few more than last year.

Wishing you all happy returns and a great weekend. From Portland, I send you happy Hybrid dreams!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wanna Be Daddy's Girl ??

Anybody want to be Daddy's Girl? Apparently you'd get paid for it during daytime hours. After 10pm though, who knows what happens. I guess it's gratuitous work at that point.

(In front of the Crowne Plaza near the Lloyd Center in Portland.)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Tortellini With Walnuts and Spinach

Again, kids, no science to this fantastic meal. It's easy, light, and goes very well with chilled Trader Joe's Villa Sonia Pinot Grigio Piave. A glass during cooking and refill during dinner will leave you in pretty good shape.
Boil one package of your favorite pasta -- I used a fresh tortellini pasta from Trader Joe's with pesto filling. Drain and return to pot while hot. While the pasta is boiling, chop the following: Small amount of minced onion, chopped fresh tomato, fresh parsley, walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes. Add a handful of fresh spinach, spoonful of butter or margarine, heaping tablespoon full of fresh chopped garlic, and good dose of olive oil. Stir with rubber spatula to avoid damaging the tortellini. Top with your favorite shaved cheese. Serve alongside a dolled-up garden salad filled with every vegetable you can find. You'll have the world's best meal ever. Easy!
P.S. -- Don't ever tell anyone that I don't share old family secret recipes with you.
P.S.S. -- You may want to finish up your evening with good quality vanilla bean ice cream topped with fresh Oregon blackberries. It's not so bad.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Festivals Abound in the 'Hood

I swear, living this new condominium lifestyle has led to nothing but visitors, good times, coffee and lunch out, meeting new neighbors, and festivals. Yesterday was no exception. Our neighborhood hosted its annual Fremont Fest 2008. Every store was open and giving away free gifts, holding drawings, tons of good food, and people, kids, and dogs everywhere. There was a parade which included maybe 200-300 kiddies dressed up like Sponge Bob or Hello Kitty along with pets which clearly didn't admire their tin-foil wings that had been added to their backs for effect. Oh, and the Clydesdale horses gave free rides up and down the street all day long -- which scared the hell out of Mason. It was a fantastic way to welcome us to the Beaumont Wilshire-Fremont area and confirmed to us that we've made a great decision to live in this neighborhood.

After that, we headed back to our old 'hood since we'd been grandfathered in to our former neighbor's annual Rib Fest whereby eight individuals bring their homemade ribs. They are judged and the winner given a throne upon which to sit for the upcoming year. I made my white bean and charred onion salad along with Oregon blackberry shortcake. And of course since there were ribs and meat involved, the evening wouldn't have been complete without plenty of Hehehe jokes surrounding the rubbing of one's meat -- including the obligatory t-shirts. Oh, and did I mention the handsome good-friend-and-bartender making Key Lime Martinis? I swear, these are some of the nicest friends ever to keep us involved in spite of the fact that we ditched their street for another. Next week, we go back to the same great former street for the second annual block party.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A Day In The Life -- Up, Up and Away!

3:55am Alarm goes off. Shower and adorn self with blue polyester

4:40am Out the door

5:00am Riding employee bus from parking to terminal

5:25am Required check-in time -- make sure manual is up to date, safety briefing with crew

5:45am The first pretty passenger faces of the day arrive on board

6:25am Boarding door closed, pushback begins, 65 passengers

6:30am In the air, runway 10 left

6:50am Starbuck's coffee and other beverages being served, try and be pleasant

8:03am Touchdown on runway 30 in SJC

8:10am Fold blankets, tidy cabin, call honey at home

8:40am Next group of passengers boards, 85 on board this time

9:03am Forward boarding door closed, pushback begins

9:07am Off the ground

9:30am Jone's Soda and Starbucks being poured liberally

10:27am Touchdown on runway 10 right in PDX

10:40am Everyone off, cabin clear, doors are disarmed

10:50am On the employee bus back to the parking lot

That's been much of my life over the past few months. Occasionally I toss SNA, DEN or PHX into the city mix for a little variety. But SJC is our shortest day and gets me home quite early. I haven't been on an overnight trip for quite a while with the move and doggy day care issues. But soon, they will be returning. And, I must happily admit, it beats sitting at a desk or staring at a clock all day -- tick tock, tick tock. And of course there is the myriad of other issues that must be dealt with from time to time: Unaccompanied children traveling alone, passengers in wheelchairs, carry-on bags, weather issues, mechanical troubles, making sure my required manual is up to date ($2,000 fine if it is not), hotel vans, wake-up calls, changing aircraft at the last minute, lavatories that don't work, tequila from Mexico leaking in the overhead bins, children kicking and screaming (adults too!), wrinkle cream applied liberally to face for those early wake-up calls, dealing with fellow crew members who have chosen to have bad attitudes and don't want to work, running (for the umpteenth time) to the galley for hot water (tea) or decaf (usually don't have it on the trolley). And the list goes on. But, again, I'm grateful. It's a job. And a good one at that.