Jul. 31: Month in summary

julySeems like I just wrote my June review, and it’s already time for July’s. I really should blog as much as I think about blogging. That would be a lot more blogging.

Special days I celebrated this month and how:

  • Independence Day was spent with neighbors and we blew shit up. Yay!
  • Relay for Life was last weekend. I was there as much as I could be.
  • The biggie: Victor’s birthday a couple days ago. He turned old. We joined Sonya and her family over at their parents’ house for a way-fun birthday dinner celebration. I gave Vic a kidney stone to celebrate, because I’m a giver.

Gifts I gave and/or received this month:

  • I guess the kidney stone thing was supposed to go here.
  • Also, I didn’t really give Vic my kidney stone, but he was glad it was gone so I could stop whining.
  • I didn’t really stop whining.
  • I never really stop whining.

Books I read this month:

  • I started reading The Light in the Ruins, by Chris Bohjalian. It’s fantastic so far. Dina and I went to his reading/signing at Powell’s a couple weeks ago and he was charming and told such great stories. One of my favorites was about how some bonehead who had self-published a ridiculous novel asked where Bohjalian got “those Oprah stickers” because he wanted to put them on his books to help them sell better.
  • Whenever I mean to type “Bohjalian,” I SWEAR, I start to type “Boyardee.”
  • I’ve picked up several books to read but haven’t been able to concentrate enough to finish a single one.

Movies and TV shows worth mentioning:

  • We saw Despicable Me 2—adorable!
  • Identity Thief. It was OK, with a few LOL moments.
  • Vic and I have been watching Magnum, P.I. on Netflix, just for kicks. Wow—in 1980, Magnum’s shorts were SHORT.

New recipes or restaurants I tried

  • Ranch Chicken Bake. There are tons of recipes out there, but this is the one I used. It was waaaay easy and pretty tasty. Most importantly, Katie and Jack both liked it. We served it with roasted zucchini and carrots. They did not like that part.
  • Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine in the Ashland Springs Hotel. Delicious!
  • Fancy Water. Jack came up with the name for a plain ol’ pitcher of water that contains slices of oranges, limes, lemons, and cucumbers. Although it isn’t a new recipe, I tried different varieties of citrus this time around. Can’t say it’s better, or even different, but it sure is yummy.

Special or unusual purchases I made:

  • Capes! Relay for Life was superhero-themed this year, and I found an etsy artist willing to make us a big huge batch in cancer-fighting colors. I know I will totally wear my cape all the time, just like all the bridesmaid dresses I’ve collected over the years.
  • Lots and lots of liquor. And then some more. We have enough for at least 37 parties.
  • Materials for several DIY projects around the house—all very creative and mostly fun. Yay!

This month’s disappointments:

  • The kidney stone was not a joke; I had another one. Apparently it was in my kidney when the other one made its presence known in June, but the ER doctor failed to mention that. This makes me madder than you can possibly imagine. I passed the stone on Monday and this is what I have to say: I am tired of kidney stones. No more.
  • The timing of Relay for Life wasn’t so great this year and I felt like I missed out on so much of it. Total bummer. At least I did all my fundraising beforehand. HUGE thanks of you who donated garage sale items and/or $$ to American Cancer Society!
  • I feel like the last part of July was a groggy blur, seeing’s that I was on some heavy-doody drugs. I think it was fun, though. Someone told me so.
  • I dropped Katie’s iPod. iPhone Steve to the rescue!
  • 1cocoWhat’s the deal, Trader Joe’s? They’ve been out of Powerberries for months. Fortunately, they have lots of Roasted Coconut Chips, which I love.

My accomplishments:

  • Our Geeks Who Drink trivia team (These Are Not the Answers You’re Looking For) finally took back our first place title. We were in second place again the next week, though. That other smart team is super-smart.
  • I decided, for no reason whatsoever, that it was time to redecorate our bedroom. The furniture stayed the same, but I changed up our bedding, window coverings, and small décor. I don’t think Vic has noticed. He actually kinda hates when I make these kinds of changes, but at least this one didn’t involve paint! For me, though, the little touches make a cheery difference in daily life. I gotta do ‘em.
  • Mom and I worked on a kitchen project all day today. We completely re-did the chairs—foam, lining, fabric and all—which was a task long overdue. The fabric on them wore out really quickly after we got them. Grrr. I chose a new fabric that goes better with the colors in the kitchen and family room; it’s prettier and sturdier and although it barely looks different in the photos below, you have to trust me when I say it is a HUGE improvement. Here are the before and after photos, both with Lucy Butt Goodness:


  • Throughout the entire chair renovation project, there was no bloodshed. This is always worth mentioning when I’ve been using power tools (and yes, in my world, a staple gun is a power tool).
  • An accomplishment I share with a couple hundred other people: our Relay for Life event raised almost $62,000 toward curing cancer.

Anything else noteworthy:

Nothing I can think of. Instead, you get sillies:








That’s it for July.

Jul. 15: Mini-vacay report

Do you hate when people say “vacay”? I kinda do too.

We just got home from a week in Southern Oregon and boy, are our arms tired!

(That is a very stupid joke. It doesn’t even make sense, because we didn’t fly to Southern Oregon, and I didn’t even suggest we flew in the sentence and let’s just start over, mmmkay?)

Last week we went to Southern Oregon. It was the vacation we took instead of going to San Francisco (the certainty of having to deal with crowds of America’s Cup watchers kept us away), and we really had a great time. Here’s how:


Our goal on this trip was to find out if this book was science fiction:

photo 1 - c

Here we go…

We left home and drove to Medford. My mom lives there, in case you haven’t been paying attention. We sometimes call her “Mother Mary,” in case you haven’t been paying attention to that either. That evening we hung out at Mother Mary’s comfy and welcoming house, ran some errands, and not a whole lot else. Why is driving so exhausting, even as passengers? Vic wondered that aloud. More than once.


A break from all that time in the car was in order, so we stayed in town all day. We went to Despicable Me 2. The kids and I had gone the week before, but Vic and Mom hadn’t; the movie is super-fun and definitely worth seeing more than once. Afterward we had lunch at Kaleidoscope Pizza. I’m sure there are similar pizza places in Portland and I definitely want to find them because YUM.


We got up early and headed to Brookings, which is on the southern Oregon coast. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and didn’t realize that the best (only?) route there from Medford is through California. How weird is that? We drove north to Grants Pass, southwest across the state border to Crescent City, and back up north to Brookings. It’s cocoa for cuckoo poops, that’s what it is.

We drove along the very edge of the Redwoods and were tempted to drive a bit farther south to drive through that one tree, but stayed on course to the beach instead. We thought the weather would be better there. We are bad interpreters of weather forecasts.

Harris Beach is beautiful, at least it appeared to be when we could see through all the fog. The skies were disappointing, yes, but generally, the weather was warm so we didn’t mind much. I even got a sunburn, proving that clouds and fogs do not mean sunscreen is unnecessary. Katie and Jack did lots of wave-jumping and sand-throwing, and the dogs enjoyed romping up and down the coast.

Victor and his biggest fan

Jack and Katie standing in poopy water

It really was a fantastic day, and we were slightly pleased to find the southern coast weather as unreliable as the areas we visit on the central and northern parts of the coast. But our love of Harris Beach waned a few days later, when we saw this news item:

Health advisory lifted at Harris Beach

July 13, 2013

A public health advisory warning against water contact at Harris Beach was lifted Friday by the Oregon Health Authority, according to a news release.

The advisory was issued July 1 after water samples showed higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria at the east end of Goat Island in Curry County.

Recent samples taken by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality showed bacteria levels had subsided and the water no longer posed a higher-than-normal risk, the release said.

But officials recommendeded [sic] staying out of large pools and runoff from water frequented by birds, whose waste was believed to be the source of the contamination.

The Oregon Beach Monitoring Program monitors the waters along Oregon's coastline for the presence of fecal bacteria annually from Labor Day through Memorial Day.

Marine waters are tested for enterococcus, which is an indicator of the presence of other bacteria. Enterococcus is present in human and animal waste.

Fecal bacteria can cause anything from diarrhea and stomach cramps to skin rashes or no reaction at all, but it is the largest threat to the elderly, children and those more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria.

Source: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130713/NEWS07/307130328

Fecal bacteria levels were higher than normal? There are acceptable levels??? Yikes.

Vic and I researched Trip Advisor extensively to find the best places to visit on the southern coast, but we didn’t think to check recent news reports. [sing-song voice] Geniuses! But really, shouldn’t there have been a bunch of warning signs posted along the beach if we were supposed to stay out of the water? We didn’t see a single one.

Fortunately, none of us have been stricken with E. coli poisoning. Whew.

One of the coolest parts about this trip—and the beach was lovely, it really was—involved a liquor store just over the California border. If you Google a phrase like “why is alcohol cheaper in California” you’ll find a variety of ideas and even contradictions; all I know is that, for the most part, the liquor store outlets near the California-Oregon border had much better prices than I’ve ever seen at home. Mother Mary and I stocked up like the world’s about to end and we want to be drunk when it does. Or maybe we were buying in preparation for the Global Booze Wars. Those are happening, right? We be ready.


anthonyhealdMom took us to see My Fair Lady at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival. Anthony Heald played Eliza’s father and stole every scene he was in. What a hoot! Most of us know this actor from his baddie roles in Silence of the Lambs and tons of other movies and TV shows, but who knew that is actually quite delightful and can sing and dance, often at the same time?*

The show was spectacular. Somewhat sadly—but just somewhat—our kids recognized much of the music from the particularly hilarious My Fair Laddy episode of The Simpsons. In other words, Jack didn’t hate My Fair Lady. If you ask him to sing anything from it, though, you’ll hear “Wouldn’t It Be Adequate,” “I’m Gettin’ Blue Pants in the Morning,” and “In the Shack Where You Live.” Sorry. There’s only so much culture I can try to pound into that kid.

After the show, Mom treated us to a delicious dinner at Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine, the restaurant in Ashland Springs Hotel. Ten thumbs up.

I love Ashland, and there are lots of eateries worth a try, but here’s something I don’t understand: why do so many restaurants refuse to split checks? Larks actually had it printed at the bottom of their menu that they have a one-check-per-table policy. Is it really that much extra effort for them? And wouldn’t you think they should be willing to split checks just to please their customers, many of whom visit Ashland in large groups? Servers will inevitably get bigger tips that way, right? Puzzling.


Back to California! We left the dogs at home this time, and headed down I-5 to the Shasta area, touring Shasta Dam and appreciating shady parking spots and our vehicle’s powerful A/C. It was H-O-T HOT in them parts. Beautiful scenery though.

photo 2 - c

photo 8 - cphoto 4 - cphoto 5 - c

Since we were a handful of miles from Redding and the northernmost In-n-Out Burger, we went a leeetle bit out of our way for lunch. Those of us who ordered cheeseburgers were glad to make the detour. And did we stop at a liquor store before crossing back into Oregon? You bet your sweet open container ass we did!

The really memorable thing about the day was doing things we’d (mostly) not done before. I mean, how many times have we seen the sign to Shasta Dam/Lake from I-5 and thought “We should do that someday”? Too many times.


We had tentatively planned to go back to Portland on Thursday, but Mom convinced us to stay for one more day of relaxation. We spent the hot morning in Auntie Donna’s pool and then went out for lunch, came home and watched the first two Iron Man movies, Life of Pi, and the film version of My Fair Lady. Except for the packing-up-to-go-home part, it was a bonus day of even more vacation fun.


We drove back north. ‘Twas a long and boring drive, but sooo worth it for our week of vacation with Mother Mary. Thank you, Mom, for hosting us!

Conclusion: this book had some excellent ideas for family activities. Not science fiction-y at all.

photo 1 - c

Since we’ve been home, the list of things we hoped to get done over the weekend mostly went undone. Today Vic is back to work and I’m doing all our vacation laundry. Blech.


*Lyric lifted from Spamalot and shamelessly paraphrased. I apologize.


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