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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Beginner's Wings

Gosh, it's been a while since I've had to.  But I sort of remembered how.  And I think it went okay.  You see, for the first time in three years, we are hiring new flight attendants.  Two classes of 55 in each class.  After 9-11, the airline industry went into the hole.  At one point, there were 100,000 jobs lost in the airline industry.  It's come back, to some degree.  We are successful -- dare I say, one of the top-notch in the industry when the financials, on time, awards by various groups, and customer service pieces are included.  Combined with the fact that we have been understaffed for a year or more, it is definitely time to hire.  Our reserve flight attendants have been completely overworked, used, abused, and reused.  We have junior assigned senior crews far more than should ever be necessary.  (Junior assigning is when the company catches you at the end of a regularly scheduled trip and tells you that you're being junior assigned to work on your day off....you don't have a choice....you are required to go.)  We have quite a few people out with serious illnesses such as cancer and our on-the-job injury rate isn't great because of lifting heavy passenger bags and turbulence injuries.  All of that to say, our staffing is not where it should be....and so the new flight attendant classes are in session.  Thankfully. 

I was asked to help teach in the new class this last Thursday.  Services training.  All about the food, drinks, beverage carts, napkins, coffee, using a beverage tray, making cocktails, all of that crap.  The stuff I've been doing many times a day for 16 years.  It is so embedded in my life now that I forget that this is a whole new world for these new kids on the block.  But they aren't really kids.  They range in age from close to 21 up to....oh, maybe 50 something.  Guys, gals, the whole works.  All dressed up and playing nice -- because they have to.  They are being watched, evaluated, like hawks.  Attitude, smiles, what types and how many questions they ask, negative attitudes, tardiness back from lunches and breaks, talking or texting during class...it's all being recorded.  Everyone is in dress attire.  No one is late.  It's not permitted.  They are studying every night for five solid weeks.  And they do training flights on the weekends.  Like today ----

So, this morning, my buddy Todd and I just happened to be the working crew from Seattle to San Jose -- 1 hour 33 minutes at 35,000 feet.  I was the Senior Inflight Service Director Stewardess working First Class.  And we had two of our new trainees assisting us on board the flight.  Barb came to help me work First Class.  Grace worked in the back cabin.  They were awesome.  Didn't miss a beat.  They did their equipment preflights to make sure that things were working -- like oxygen bottles, evacuation slides, whether we had over water rafts on board or not, flashlights, life vests at each jump seat, etc.  I mean, seriously, this was Barb's first time ever working First Class...and she did it like a champion.  Didn't miss a beat.  Smiles, organized, drink orders taken, food delivered, refills, trays picked up, pilots fed and watered, announcements made, doors open and closed appropriately, lights on and off.  All perfectly.  I was so proud of them.  It's a huge, steep learning curve.  And it takes times like these to remind me of how far I've come.  It's so good to have freshness.  Newness in our lives.  The energy of younger, newer, people.  It felt great. 

I hugged them both goodbye and told them what a great job they had done.  And that I was looking forward to seeing them "On the Line" as we say.  We all need new experiences in our lives, new challenges, new education, new activities, reminders to keep things alive and fresh.  What a nice reminder for me today.  My wings occasionally get tarnished a bit.  Their wings will be sparkling, pretty and brand new. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Needin' My Easter Crack

No silly, not that kind'a crack.  I mean The Easter Sugar Crack.  The white stuff.  The dope that raises your blood sugar levels up to an appropriately inflated boiling point and then drops you off like a cheap whore after a $20 night in Tulsa. 

We enjoyed a nice quiet Easter -- except for the allergies and head congestion that have moved into both of our sinuses.  Seriously, it's like they have settled in with sofa, chairs, dining tables, and all of the kids up inside our heads.  Ick.  I've been giving myself daily north-end enemas (see, I had to say north because of all you whacked out crazies that would have read something sort of naughty into this whole deal).  North-end enemas consist of both morning and evening use of the NeilMed Sinus Wash -- available at Target, CVS, Walgreens, wherever.  If you've got head trouble, use this bad boy.  Seriously.  Back to my story now.....the quiet Easter.  We had a low-key dinner at a friend's home late in the afternoon.  Now the story goes that LoverBoy has been on a low-cal, low-fat, low-sugar, high-boring, high-icky, high-blech diet for some time now.  He's lost 16 pounds.  Amiable except that I needed a hit.  So on our way to dinner I demanded that we leave early because I needed to make a booty call at our local store on the way.  To see if maybe, just possibly, the Easter crack was on sale yet.  Walgreens -- a bag of Reese's peanut butter eggs (just in case the next store was closed....I'd at least have sumthin' to chow on).  And the Easter holiday light of Jesus was shining on me....because the next store was not only open....that sucker was humming with people.  We did the circle tour of the store and ended up in the Easter candy aisle.  My eyes darted to and fro, back and forth, up and down....looking, glancing, eyeballing for the best deals.  In goes a pretty bag of Easter peanut M&M's....lying so lonely in the bottom of my shopping basket.  It needed company so in goes an obligatory small package of the original sunshine yellow Peeps!  Ahh, such little cutie pies....stuffed with marshmallow cream and glazed in yellow sugar.  Perfect.  But, wait, wait, wait.....hum.....what's going on here.....I do like those Whopper Robin Egg Malted Balls....but there's just the big, giant sized package....42 ounces of heaven.  I was hoping to exhibit some of my discretionary limitation skills here and pick out the smaller package...but, alas, there wasn't one.  So, after a quick consultation with the ever-dieting LoverBoy, I tossed all 42 ounces in my basket with a giant clunk.  And away we go.  Self checkout.  Debit card.  And out to the Soul. 

Now, all I needed was a tourniquet to get my veins all plumped up for the shooting in of the Easter sugar crack.  No, wait, skip the tourniquet....I can just snort this crap.  Easter was indeed a nice day. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Struggle of Easter

I must admit that I don't feel today about Christian holidays the same way I used to.  I've migrated.  Holidays used to mean church, music, practice, new clothes to wear, up early, pancake breakfasts, flowers, and candy.  And who could imagine an Easter without trumpet fanfare heralding Christ the Lord is Risen Today.....Alleluia.  I still have some of those same sorts of feelings -- although I think they are more tied to memories of my childhood and past rather than tied directly to a system of faith or belief.  I miss some things about the holidays and special memory-inducing moments.  But I look at life far differently nowadays. 

I think of Christ.  Risen on Easter 'morn.  I think of the miracles He did.  The vision he promoted.  The message he carried.  And then I look at many of his followers today.  And it doesn't all add up.  The message is ill.  The feelings are poor.  The original Christ and many of his followers today operate on different planets.  I'm afraid that He would have nothing to do with them.  The Christ of old had nothing to do with those things I mentioned earlier -- the pancake breakfasts, flowers and such.  And I think of the many, many occasions throughout the centuries where Christians could have chosen to do good....to do the right thing....and they chose not to.  I mean, if you asked me today if I'm a Christian or not, I'd tell you yes.  Of course I am.  But we'd leave it at that.  Because I want no association with the right-wing, political, evangelical church of today.  It stands for nothing but political gain any longer.  The message has been lost, vaporized, into who knows where.  The church brought many good things into my life.  But it also taught me to feel about people, life, the world, and events in a way that I do not subscribe to any longer. 

So today, again, I struggle to find the right words to announce the Easter holiday.  I'm thankful for springtime, for fresh new beginnings, for life, for my home and partner, and the pooch.  And I'm grateful that I've grown, evolved, changed and challenged myself and my belief system.  And I look for ways every day of my life to help out someone else.  And I think I'll just leave it at that.  Happy Easter.  Happy Spring.  Happy Newness to each of our lives. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tax Deductions

So what if every single tax deduction taken for each child in the U.S. was not permitted, or not taken, or not allowed to be taken?  I'm not sure of what the dollar amount is per child....maybe $2,000 or so??  What if those deductions were actually not removed.  What if that dollar amount was allowed to stand.  Or, horrors!, what if parents were actually required to pay for each of their children simply for having them....for allowing them to consume space, air, water, food, etc., on this planet.  Perhaps there could be a sliding scale.  Families would be permitted to have one, or two, children without penalty -- but beyond that they would be required to actually dish out so many thousands of dollars each year for each of their children. 

Consider what that would do to our tax base.  Add to our bottom line instead of take away from it.  I've never understood why we give tax deductions to children.  When they are occupying space on this earth, they eat food from it, they crap on it, they yell and scream on it, they require so many resources from Mother Earth -- and yet they not only are not required to pay for all of that but they actually get to charge the U.S. Government for it.  In essence, I am paying for it.  And that doesn't sit well with me.  Oh, I know, I know....there are million and one reasons for wanting to fund children, fund early childhood development and all of that.  And I am well aware that the children of today are the leaders, educators, and adults of tomorrow (and that scares the living hell out of me, quite frankly.....). 

I will never understand why a family of two parents and, oh say, four, five, six or even more children are permitted to pay tax on two people instead of six or eight or ten.  I don't get it.  They dirty the earth, they require so much in the way of products, toys, plastics, "things" made in China, giant double-wide strollers, fuel, petroleum products, and the like.  And the parents have to have a giant minivan and pay for the gas to operate it.  The hole just gets deeper the more I think about it.  And the noise pollution level operates at such a higher level with yelling, screaming, crying.  I hate noise and this just adds to my furor. 

I have educator friends and teachers who disagree with me wholeheartedly on this.  But I can take it.  I just don't believe how a guy with no children should be required to fork over extra tax money each year to help take care of those who abuse and neglect the reasonable number of decent children in this world.....all the while the actual parents pay less.  One of life's mysteries. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trump This

Oh kids, I'm not a big fan of The Donald.  I think he's a pretty smart, straightforward business guy and all...but our politics do not coincide.  And that's fine but don't expect me to vote for you.

Mr. Trump is, indeed, against "Medical and Civil Benefits" being extended to same-sex couples in addition to being against gay marriage.  He hasn't yet decided whether I should be able to visit LoverBoy in the hospital.  He said it as one of his clear answers to a clear question.  And if you'd been the one who has been discriminated against in your life, or ignored, or demeaned, or told that you can't marry, or told that you're a disappointment to your parents because of your lifestyle choices, or don't have equal benefits or rights, or had been taxed to the tune of $3,700 per year on your partner's medical insurance, then perhaps you would feel differently.  Until you've been called a queer while riding on a city bus with your partner, there's so little room to pass judgment.  Shut your pie hole, comes to mind. 

Beyond that, he's got horrible hair.  But I think he loves that.  And I think it's kind of sexy.  It's given him a whole new level of attraction and provides the media something to chat about.  I tend to like his black and whiteness.  He shoots like me.  Only I'm open minded and he's not.  He's rich and I'm not.  He likes multiple numbers of pretty women and I don't (except for staring relentlessly at their tanned, deep cleavage).  You know, I'm more than willing, sort of, to put up with listening to your ideas and thoughts and what you believe.  But the moment you dive into territory that you've never been a part of -- the moment you start casting judgment against me and my people -- you're in trouble.  So, yeah, go and be big and rich and famous and let the wind blow through your colored hair while you sit in your Madison Avenue suite.  The Donald's disconnect with the real world is clear.  He's up there and I'm down here. 

"Liberty and Justice for All -- Offer Not Available In Some Areas -- Prices Subject to Change"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

If You Think I'm Sexy....

If you want my body and you think I'm sexy come on honey let me know.....la la la....1978, Rod Stewart.  I thought I saw Rod walking along Congress Street in Austin just last night....but then I realized it was some guy(?) on his way to the club on a Saturday night.   We departed Austin early this morning for our 3 1/2 hour flight to San Jose.  A few seats open but nearly full.  It will come as no surprise to you that I've run into all kinds of characters in my life as a stewardess.  But today gets a whole chapter all to itself in my book of life.

The guy was big.  Maybe 275 pounds or so.  And tall with a couple, or three, jiggly chins.  Sneakers untied, no socks.  And a yellow shirt that smacked of the south, a conservative well-worn one.  With little funny golfers on it.  Maybe from some southern department store back about 1987 or so.  He was probably in his early to mid 40s.  He never told me...despite the fact that he asked my age and refused, refused I say!, to believe me at 49 years old.  "Nuh uh," he kept saying.  He hung around the galley.  For a really, super long time.  Now, we flight attendants are not known for enjoying people in our galleys.  Its our space, lots going on there, and we like to chill and enjoy a coffee after the service is complete.  But today was not going to play out that way.  He blathered on about life in Austin, how he'd moved there to go to school after playing in the NFL for six years with the Green Bay Packers.  He had a wife with no further information beyond that.  He wanted a vodka and cranberry but his credit card had been declined earlier this morning when he'd tried to use it to upgrade to First Class -- "I was supposed to be in First Class," he tells us.  So, we scanned his card anyway and gave him his cocktail.  Instead of returning to his seat, he kept on chipping away at the intimacies of life.....all 275 pounds of him smack dab in the middle of our galley.  Me on one side, my friend Cathy on the other.  I kept on trying to sneak glances at her around his expansive mid section.  But it was hurting to bend my neck that far around him.  He brought out his iPhone and showed us his music selection -- U2, Eric Clapton, Rush.....others.  "I used to smoke pot and listen to Rush."  He was from "Pennsyltucky," as he put it.  The back hills of Pennsylvania.  But with Cathy being from North Dakota and me from Idaho, neither of us had any compelling reason to think we were any better.  I made up the state "PennsyltuckyIdakota" and we all had a giggle.  Another cocktail for him, please....now we're up to four vodkas.  I tell him that there is an open seat in the exit row and maybe he'd be more comfortable there.  But, I ask him, do you think you'll need a seatbelt extension?  Because they are not allowed in the exit row.  "So, are you calling me fat?" he asks, laughing.  Nope, I'm not...I'm simply asking about seatbelt extensions before you try to sit in the exit row.  So, and I swear to god it happened just this way, he grabbed a handful of that belly in both hands, jiggled that bad boy belly like Santa Claus, looked straight at me, and asked "So, do you think this is sexy?"  Oy vey.  I gotta get outta here.  Another cocktail for him. 

And he continued on about salaries and jobs and such -- wondering who was the bread winner in each of our families.  Cathy said she flies minimums and that her husband brings in more than she does.  (Seriously, are we really having this conversation with a perfect stranger ?)  I sort of skirt the issue and try to change the subject.  "I think I'll go and pick up trash," I say as I slither past his sturdy frame into the aisle.  I stand in First Class for a bit, waiting, waiting, waiting for him to clear out of the back galley.  I finally end up there again.  I sit down on my jumpseat and gather the Sunday morning paper with a cup of coffee.  He begins to sit down next to me....but I diverted that by telling him that nobody is allowed to sit on the flight attendant jumpseat.  "Oh, well maybe I can buy you a drink then....." as he turns to my coworker Cathy, pulls out that (previously declined) credit card and says to her, "Can I have a drink for myself and one for Arnie too?"  Oh lord god jesus and mary, I about evaporated.  She explained that we are not allowed to drink on the job.  And then he heads back into uncharted conversation territory with the questioning again about who is in my family and who the bread winner is.  I say that we both make about the same amount.  "We, who?" he wants to know....."Are you married?"   So, if you're willing to encourage that conversation with me, I'm more than willing to have it.  "Nope, I'm not married....they don't let the gays marry in this country," I tell him.  "I have a partner," I tell him.  "Oh, a dude partner?" he asks.  Yes siree, a genuine honest-to-goodness dude partner!  "Oh, I'm all cool with that," he continues.  Once again, I'm looking for a way out so I grab the aforementioned trash bag and head out leaving Cathy in the back galley (again) with him.

I stood in First Class for the longest time.  Waiting, watching, watching, waiting.  He returned to his seat and waved at me.  I waved back.  I finally ventured to the back galley and Cathy turned to me and said, "You'll never believe what he said about you....he said he thinks you are sexy." 
I blushed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Paley's Place Portland

Chef Vitaly Paley and his wife have crafted this unique restaurant along the gritty throws of Northwest 21st Avenue in Portland.  We ended up there last evening for LoverBoy's birthday meal.  Unbeknownst to him, I'd had an unexpected conversation the prior evening with a friend who just happened to mention Paley's Place to me....and how much she enjoyed it.  LoverBoy had asked me not to do anything for him for his special day.  So, loving the sense of tingling and excitement that comes from being told what to, or not, to do, I did it anyway.  I made reservations at Paley's Place.  Perhaps it was the $800 bottle of wine on the menu that piqued my interest....and not my pocketbook.  Here is my review posted on Yelp this morning: 

"Oh, what a night!  (You remember the song, don't you??).  You'll see that I seldom give the illustrious 5-stars...but this one gets it.  We ventured here based on a recommendation from a friend, just the night before.  It was a birthday for us......so I emailed a reservation request.  (I'm not sure if they are on Open Table or not but that would be convenient...).  They returned my call and we arrived at 6pm.  We left just after 8.  No rush, zero intent to get us out of there.  This is NOT Applebee's cousin, I must add.  We felt spoiled, treated well.  The waiter (Colin) took whatever time we needed -- to explain anything on the menu, to chat about his history, our history, the restaurant, food, life, weather.  It was 100% full shortly after we arrived.  It is an old Victorian home.....two smaller dining rooms and a cute little bar sits in between.  The porch along the front of the home will draw you in nicely....especially in BOTH of those good months of nice weather we have here in Portland.  Paley's Place definitely demanded more from our bank account than we hardly ever dish out....as exemplified by the $800 bottle of wine on the menu.  But I was not opposed to it for this special occasion -- and because the service, atmosphere, and food were absolutely spot-on.  The muted, rich colors, lighting, artwork and fabrics lended to a warm atmosphere.  Being a veggie guy, that can be a challenge -- but Colin went right down the menu explaining what could be done veggie and how things could easily be adapted.  I enjoyed the white bean vegetable cassoulet with butter leaf salad with crispy onions and homemade ranch dressing.  May I just mention that the second half of the cassoulet is on today's lunch menu for me -- perhaps I should spin the hands on the clock forward now.  My partner enjoyed one of the 3-5 items on the menu that change daily -- stuffed and rolled pork tenderloin with a horseradish and Dijon flair.  And the Sweet Potato soup -- like velvet, warm, rich, savory.   A French Rose' and fresh lime gin gimlet began the meal.  Pear Brandy and cognac ended it.  Along with Meyer lemon pudding cake with Madjool Dates and a warm, dark chocolate tasty treat with homemade ice cream.  Holy smokes my eyes are puffy this morning.  And my muffin top has been embellished.
P.S.--Chef Vitaly Paley is featured on Iron Chef America this Sunday April 17, 2011......Will he earn the title?!"

 You'll be able to watch Chef Vitaly Paley this coming Sunday night April 17, 2011, on the Food Network in Iron Chef America......we've got it on our calendars!

Monday, April 11, 2011


I've just finished Now is the Hour by Tom Spanbauer.  I bought it at Powell's Books because it was on the sale rack for a measly $7.98.  And with 459 pages divided by $7.98, that's only .0173856 cents per page....a steal.  Considering that the new one I just started was $11.20 (20% off at Target) with 279 pages....which comes out to .0404332 per page.....a rip off.  Plus, the book from Target is crap.

Now is the Hour was about a Catholic family who lived 12 miles outside of Pocatello, Idaho, during the 1960s.  Farm family, hay growers, smokers, drinkers.  Father who was removed emotionally from the family.  Their land and fields butted up against the Indian reservation (yes sir, that's what they used to be called).  It's about this kid coming of age.  Girls, Mexicans, rosary beads, dogs, pickup trucks,  growing fond of an Indian man, naughty thoughts, church, smoking dope, discovering life for himself in spite of his screwed up conservative church family.  And especially good because Pocatello is in the heart of Mormon country, not Catholic country.  The kid itches to get out of dodge and head to the big city, San Francisco!   I really saw myself in a bit of the book -- being from Idaho and all.  I especially related to the quote from page 44:

"Niggers are like Mexicans and Indians, Dad said, only worse, a lot worse.  They aint' got no morals, and the like to get drunk too, real drunk."

I'm afraid that sentiment is still rampant today.  If not verbally, definitely within the buried places in the hearts.  I really enjoyed this book by Spanbauer.  

So I picked up a new book at Target the other day.....Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch.  It had a picture of a nice doggie on the front of it.  And the story line led me to believe that it was some story about a pooch and a family, a man, and the guy disappears....and I guess I thought that the dog helped out in some way that was going to make me cry and love dogs any more than I already do.  Alas, I was disillusioned.  Quite so.  This story is crap so far.  Objectively, I'm only about 20% of the way into it.  But I haven't read one single interesting thing yet to hold my interest.  It feels like high school, or maybe early college, years.  Girls, silly story line, simple sentences and phrases.  You know when the big word of the day is "Crestfallen" that you're in trouble.  If you're looking for depth, or lessons, or such don't bother with this one.  Remember, I haven't finished it yet so perhaps I shouldn't be passing judgment quite yet.  But I'm not even sure that I'm going to finish this.  B-o-r-i-n-g.  Here's a lovely paragraph from page 76:

"She's always envious when she enters the houses of gay men.  Perhaps it's the unbridled self-indulgence; the gleeful spending of tens of thousands on oversize Jacuzzi tubs flat-screen televisions, teak decks fitted with wet bars.  Or maybe it's the total lack of concern as to future developments.  Gone is the half-decorated room held back from its full potential because it may -- listen for the quiver of hope -- "one day" be a nursery; absent is the basement converted-to-in-law-apartment because a nanny or night nurse might have to move in.  Nor does one tend to see taste clashes so often compromising shared heterosexual homes.  No mountain bikes leaning on chintz Pottery Barn sofas, no framed photos of golf courses hanging above beds draped with floral sheets."  

Predictable, isn't it?  Perhaps sort of funny, or even some truth to it....but predictable, nonetheless.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Secret Millionaire

Have you seen it?  Secret Millionaire on ABC?  I like it.  Perhaps Hollywood'ish.  Perhaps planned.  Perhaps well crafted for emotional moments.  But I still like it.

The other night when we were on the Oregon Coast, I pinned LoverBoy down and made him watch it.  It was the story of Gary and Diane Heavin -- the Texas owners of Curves a workout facility for women.  They live in the middle of nowhere Texas....on acres and acres of land.  Their property is gated.  And the gate is one mile from their home.  That means that their driveway is one mile long!  It keeps them isolated in a beautiful, quiet country estate.  They really do seem like nice people. Christians.  The kind of Christians that pray for things, before meals, for blessings....that sort of thing. 

So, if you don't know already, the show sends millionaires to an unknown location in the US.  They are provided a roof over their heads...and that's about it.  Seriously, it's a very trashy home.  Dirty, unkempt, you and I would not live there.  It is typically inner city.  Dangerous areas.  All poor folks.  Children who are not cared for.  Families who struggle.  They receive $6 or so dollars per day to live on.  And that means Top Ramen for every meal along with maybe white bread with peanut butter.  They drive a beat up car....one that they would never have back at their well-to-do ranches.  And then they are left on their own.  To find a group or two or three to help out for a week.  They are "Secret Millionaires" going under cover as helpful volunteers who are just trying to see what they can do to assist the local neighborhood.  Each show is different, each organization that they discover is different.

On this particular episode, Gary and Diane are sent to Houston's Third Ward.  Honestly, it has to be one of the US's worst places to live with some of the nation's worst crime and poverty.  They found three organizations to help out -- No More Victims a group that assists children and family members of incarcerated parents.  Their goal is to stop the cycle of victimization....and keep the children from following the same steps that their parents do.  Extremely powerful footage of young children describing their home situations and what they do to keep their heads above water.  The second group that Gary and Diane helped was the Sean Ashley House....a home dedicated to helping adults and children living with disabilities, primarily autism.  And the third organization that they discovered was Lazarus House....an amazing group of folks dedicated to helping people with the devastating cycle of malnutrition and muscle wasting that accompanies numerous chronic illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and muscular dystrophy.  Gary and Diane are like fish out of water throughout this whole episode.  Gary, especially, struggles to find his way.  A way to relate.  A path to draw commonality.  And the Lazarus House is filled with gay people, those with HIV.  It is obviously the very first time that either Gary or Diane have ever met not only a gay person....but a person with HIV.  They are caught off guard.  And I loved it.  I loved how they did their best to help out, to relate, to kick in and help.  They leave each of the groups with many many thousands of dollars at the end of the week.  They come clean with those who they have rubbed shoulders with for the week about who they really are and what they are there to do.  It is one of those moments

In spite of having preconceived ideas about Gary and Diane from my many years inside the four confining walls of many churches, I am very proud of the way that they honestly tried to do their best.  My favorite parts of the show were when Diane said to a young blind HIV-positive lady at the Lazarus House that "I've never met anyone with HIV before."  And when Gary went outside with a clearly gay man and painted.  Brush stroke after brush stroke on a house that needed it badly.  A Christian millionaire with the most common of HIV-positive homosexuals.  To say it brought tears would be putting it mildly.  And the third thing I liked hearing was about that gate.  That big huge giant gate one mile from Gary and Diane's front door.  The gate that keeps them blocked off from the rest of the world.  And in the very last line of the show Gary talks about that gate -- and how it needs to come down.  How there is clearly a world outside of his ranch that needs his help.  And there is. We probably all have one of those gates in our lives.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Oregon Coast Staycation

Clearly you already know that we're on a mini staycation and just returned home from a few days at the Oregon Coast....Lincoln City, to be exact.  It is only 100 miles from our house and the drive was perfect.  we stopped for breakfast on the way out at the McMenamins Oregon Hotel in McMinnville.  McMinnville is also home to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum -- which houses the former Howard Hughes Spruce Goose.  It is quite the place and in the running to get one of the last two Space Shuttles once they are retired.  And the whole area is Oregon's Wine Country -- filled with wineries and tasting rooms.  Oregon has done its best to put it on the map for some of the world's nicest wines....it seems like we have a million local wines available to us. 

We stopped at the Spirit Mountain Casino on the way to the Pacific Ocean.  Lost all of my entire five dollars on the penny slots.  We ended up in Lincoln City long before motel check in so we plied the town's star attractions -- the Tanger Outlet Mall, Cyber Garden and Tea House for a coffee, and a walk along the town's small main street which coincides with Oregon's famed coastal Highway 101.  It was a really nice sunny afternoon before a 100% pouring rain and windy day to follow.  Our nights were spent at the overtly doggy friendly Looking Glass Inn at the south end of Lincoln City....with perfect access to the beach for walking, enjoying, reflecting and walking the pooch.  Mason loved the beach...it was his first time to see the ocean.  There were other dogs everywhere on this quiet stretch of Oregon sand.  The sea lions played in the water right outside of our motel window....diving for a snack and then popping back up to look around and take a gander at us.  The tides were low around 8am and then high around 2pm.  It was amazing to watch how much water went out and then returned a few hours later.  The tides are around 6 feet in this particular location.  We watched two movies in our room, something we rarely do at home.  The Social Network and Up in the Air.

Monday started out rainy and ended up rainy.  100%.  Blowing Pacific wind and rainy against our windows.   After a precious experience at breakfast (wait for it....wait for it....) we spend the remainder of the day snuggled in our room watching the wind and waves until we snuck out to the giant Chinook Winds Casino for their dinner buffet.  And the experience is precisely what you're thinking right now -- morbidly obese people with scooters eating more mediocre food than you can possibly imagine.  "These quesadillas sure are chintzy....." being the words right out of the mouth of the giant young girl at the table next to us playing Keno with numerous used dinner plates sitting in front of her. 

Breakfast earlier that day....I told you to wait for it.  We stopped in at a place I couldn't even believe was actually there.  Lil Sambos.  Yes sir, Lil Sambos in Lincoln City.  We had them growing up back in Idaho too.  Except that they were called Lil Black Sambos at that point in our nation's history....With little black stick figures running across the walls.  This place was filled with a nice gift shop -- complete with Christian gifts, books and craft items quoting scripture and such.  Oh, and we enjoyed a large television of Fox News above our heads while we dined.  And, yes, it did have an ancient copy of the book Little Black Sambo for perusing purposes only.  I guess I thought that most of our world was actually in the year 2011.  Apparently not.

Yesterday dawned clear and perfect.  No wind...which is really something on the Oregon Coast.  We trenched back out to the crashing waves with Mason and watched the sea lions playing again.  It was a very nice way to end the trip.  We ventured back home on a few back roads in the Willamette Valley and stopped briefly at the Woodburn Company Stores Outlet Mall before ending up back at home at a respectable 2pm.  

Nice.  Relaxing.  Perfect.  Simple.  Easy.  Not fancy.  Repeatable.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Oregon Coast

Tomorrow is the day.  We're tossing our suitcases in the Kia Soul and headed to Lincoln City, Oregon, for a few days.  We live one and one-half hours from the cold Pacific Ocean but haven't been over there in several years.  I've said it many times, and I'll say it again....we live in one of the world's most amazingly perfect corners of the universe.  Cold Pacific Ocean winds, wild rain and wind, tall 100-year-old trees, lots of moss and green, whales, rocky cliffs, coffee shops, art galleries, and and and.  The list goes on and on.  It will be Mason's first trip ever to the ocean.  Portland sits at the north end of the Willamette Valley.  From the valley we go westward up and over Oregon's Coast Range and back down the other side to sea level. 100 miles from our house. 

It's no secret that we love our road trips.  For us, it's a time of decompression.  Away from airports, uniforms, and schedules.  We live and breathe most of our lives by a clock.  And in spite of the fact that we are both wildly organized and typically energized for going places and doing things, we always appreciate not having a schedule.  Coffee shops are our thing.  We don't need Macy's or a mall.  Or even a laptop or iPad.  What we do need is each other -- and Mason.  It's almost someone's birthday so it will give us a leg-up on celebrating it.  Plus it's nearly the would-be birthday of his late mother who passed away just last November.  I imagine that will be a difficult day.

All of that to say that we're escaping for a bit of time.  Nothing complicated, or planned, or fancy.  We're not really fancy people.  But we're going to be Oregon Coast people....even for just a few days.