Thank You Mr. Rogers

32106This post will be a mite more serious than my usual lighter fare. I haven’t written anything this week because I wanted to write about this thing that happened to me, and I didn’t have the words. I think I might have some words now, but it might be that I will never know exactly what to say.

Recently while driving home from my almost daily coffee run, Starbucks makes a lot of money off of me, I came across a dead body. At least I think he was dead. I was too scared to actually check for a pulse. But, he certainly looked like he had passed into the beyond, and his chest wasn’t moving.

Not where you think I was going with this.

A man lying in the middle of the sidewalk, face down behind a grocery store. He had a box of Venezia wine and a 24 pack of beers next to him like they came tumbling from his arms as he fell. Before I am asked, he wasn’t homeless, not that that matters in the slightest. He wasn’t just some dude deciding that a nap in the middle of a cold sidewalk sounded awesome. He was a man lying down in the middle of the sidewalk. Face down, and not moving. The part that bothered me so

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

much, is not that he was dead but that people were walking around him seemingly unconcerned about this person. He was a non-entity that did not exist in their world. That bothers me. As in existential crisis bothers me. Have we as a society become so inured to horrible things that someone who is dead is not given a second thought? We care about Kim Kardashian, couldn’t we care a little about the guy on the sidewalk.  I was stunned by what I was witnessing.

Mr. Rogers came to my mind and offered me comfort. All was not as bleak as it seemed. Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” So I did.  I looked for the helpers, and then I endeavored to become one. There was a man across the street, who I had originally not seen,  on his phone calling 911. I asked him what he was doing. His reply was, “trying to get him some help.” He was a helper.

What can I do?  how can I be a helper in this situation? The only thing I did the only thing I could think of, I went and got a blanket out of my car and threw it over the man. Not over his face, but around him.  It was a cold damp day, if he was alive, maybe a blanket would keep him a little warmer. When I got close to him, his chest wasn’t moving. Maybe the breathing was imperceptible, and it was there but I couldn’t see it. I hope so. There wasn’t much else I could do for this man. The paramedics were coming, so I left him the blanket and got back in my car. When I got home, I sat in the car for a long time trying to process what I had just seen and later I talked to my mom about the whole thing.  She said that I did a good thing, and I was a good person by giving him the blanket. Did I? I feel like I did the absolute minimum that a person should do. I felt bad, and cowardly that I did not do more. I still do. But what could I have done?

Later on that afternoon, I drove by where the man was laying out of morbid curiosity. Was there a chalk outline to be found like out of a detective novel? There wasn’t. There was nothing. Like he was never there.

Here I am writing this blog, not sure how I feel about the whole situation, but I do feel better for having written something. I will always endeavor to try and be the helper. Even if it is scary, it often is. Thank you, Mr. Rogers for helping me that day. Your lessons go on and on.

Weird Beauty Products, and why you should just give up and Use Lush

Lush is so, so good.

Don’t you feel a little confused about all of the beauty products out there? From a seaweed bath soak that comes complete with dead crustaceans attached, to an eyebrow product that literally stamps your eyebrows on, it is hard to know what you can use that makes you feel good and is not made of crap. Sometimes literally.

For me personally, that means drastic simplification. I enjoy wearing makeup and usually when I wear makeup I don’t look like a clown. Except when I attempt winged liner.

You are bathing in suds and glory.

That is a whole bunch of next level crap I haven’t mastered. My life just doesn’t seem to allow me much time to do a full face of makeup except on date night. Even then.  Sorry hubby, get used to it.  I do however search out for products that smell good and make me feel right about my very limited beauty routine. Specifically, they are bath bombs and the Whoosh shower gel from Lush.

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Yaaaas queen. Let me huff you. (Image courtesy of lush.com)

The bath bombs need no explaining. They are a bomb of awesome that is plunked with anticipation into your bathwater. They fizzle, glitter, and smell amazing. Cleaning your tub sucks. But who the hell cares! You are bathing in suds and glory.

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The aptly named sex bomb. Jasmine lusciousness. (Image courtesy of lush.com)

The shower gel is for me the most perfect smell and this is coming from someone who has a pretty extensive perfume collection. I sometimes sit in the restroom and just huff it. There is something about the herbal/citrus smell that gets to me. I have searched pretty hard for something that smells like an equivalent, and have yet to find anything.

The third beauty product I am going to mention here is perfume. I like to smell like a french whore. Yes, I love myself. Yes, I know that that is not something that is generally aimed for. Yes, I am ok with this.

I think I have pretty good taste in perfumes, but what the hell do I know. Fun fact about me: I am slightly anosmic. Which means that I have very little to no sense of smell. It is not entirely gone, I can smell some things. But generally, they have to be very strong or very specific. This carries into they way perfumes smell for me. Belk.jpegMy very favorite fragrance that does not wholly annoy my ultra sensitive nose of a husband (aren’t we a pair) is by MAC cosmetics. It smells like I have slathered honey and sexiness all over my body. It is called Velvet Teddy. See see, french whore.

Sometimes I sit in the bathroom and huff it

Close second concerning smell is all class, Coco Chanel. I feel so fancy wearing it. Two very different price points. Depending on the day and if I want to feel a little low-class slutty, I wear the Velvet Teddy. High-class “Pretty Woman” slutty, it’s all Coco Chanel. If I want to keep it all to myself, just the shower gel after a shower.

I built a Thing. It’s Spicy.

 

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I actually have that quote painted on a board and hanging above my new spice rack, I think that It combines my favorite things, science fiction, and cooking. Only about 1 in 40 people who have seen it know where it comes from so all my smug coolness of it is really only in my head. Garbgeek.com

We decided not long ago that we needed a spice storage solution to the million spice jars that I have in the kitchen. No joke, but I think I have close to seventy. I like to cook, and that requires a lot of different spices. Garam Masala to Chinese five spice, I have quite the collection and before you ask I have used them on a least one dish at some point in the past.  I make killer tea eggs with the Chinese five spice.

A previous solution we had been using utilized the spice holder Bekvam from IKEA just hanging by its lonesome on the wall. It got ridiculous with all the spice. It was almost like a shrine to IKEA. Plus,  they are hard as hell to hang. IKEA totes itself as being easy to build and hang, but I call BS on it. Most of the stuff I have gotten from IKEA has been difficult and required a youtube video to get together.

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Not my hack, but you get the idea. This times 10. 

I had gone through a teal phase with them, then a coral phase. The spice holders were a bevy of different colors by now. Much to the chagrin of my husband, it looked like the seventies threw up in my kitchen.

This is what I did. I took all the myriad of spice racks I had and some scrap wood. screwed them all together. Tried to get it true, then painted it. Voila! Insta-spice rack. The wood I screwed it together with was kinda warped, and the spice shelves are not perfectly level. But it is off my counter and hanging beautifully up. Obviously, this isn’t as a tutorial. I kinda winged it. You get the idea.

 

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Here it is in all its glory. Be awed. Be Amazed. Be jealous. Make one yourself. 

 

One of the things I am going to do in the future is to do a background on the spice rack. The periodic table of spices appeals to my inner geekiness. Also, having it organized and a spot where I can find them easily is a must. Baby steps. They are off my counter.

That Time When The Captain Danced Tunak Tunak Tun

My wedding was an extravaganza. It is so seldom one gets to use a word like an extravaganza, but there you go. We had ducks, swords, pirate flags, books and Indian dancing. So the definition is apt. How did we get all these ideas/things crammed into a wedding… INGENUITY. The Captain (my husband) and I took things that we loved and created a mishmash of themes. I love books (obviously) and rubber ducks; he loves pirate stuff, swords, and Indian dancing. Specifically Tunak Tunak Tun by Daler Mehndi. It was quite the party.

Just so you know what I am talking about. Daler Mehndi in all his gloriousness. The man who helped The Captain land me. 

(Commence ecstatic dancing and jumping down while butchering Hindi lyrics at the top of my voice)

Sing along.

Tunak tunak tun 
Tunak tunak tun 
Tunak tunak tun 
Da da da

Tunak tunak tun 
Tunak tunak tun 
Tunak tunak tun 
Da da da

Tunak tunak tun 
Tunak tunak tun 
Tunak tunak tun 
Da da da

Tunak tunak tun 
Tunak tunak tun 
Tunak tunak tun 
Da da da

Dholna vajje tumbe vaali taar 
Sun dil di pukaar 
Aaja kar layieh pyaar 
Sweetheart, the strings of the instrument play

No conceivable idea what this song means. I could look it up.. but I think that ruins the effect for me. I feel like it is about rainbows and dancing and how the sun is pretty, and we are going with that. The Captain introduced this song to me when we started dating and I learned about his questionable musical tastes. I even kept dating him after that. Questionable being polka music, klezmer music, and Swedish dance pop. Don’t even get me started on the Tuvan throat singing. Which he can do by the way. He was inspired to learn how to do it by the masters.

At our wedding, The Captain wanted to do the Tunak Tunak Tun dance with his groomsman and I made that shit happen. I talked to the DJ before the wedding and made sure that he had bought the appropriate version of the song so The Captain and his merry men could get out there and boogie.

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Let me paint a picture for you: The room is hot and sweaty.  Multicolored lights hang from the ceiling are slowly panning down to fall on four dapperly dressed men in tuxedos.The man in the center of the group is wearing a black tux and white tie. He is quite tall and has a live edge sword strapped to his thigh. He is the hero of this evening. His men standing to the left and right of him are also dressed in tuxes. At the far end is a very large man, almost 7 feet tall. He has a 3-foot battle ax strapped to his back; He is best of The Captain’s men. He is currently wearing my garter on his head.  They are visually nervous, but not the captain. The Captain is always cool.  A hush falls over the crowd as the lights dim. The four men are standing very still, heads pointed to the ground waiting… waiting for something. A war? A Fight? A need for tree chopping.   When the crowd on the edges of the floor could not take the waiting any more fore they boil into a frenzy of anticipation and adulation, this happened. TUUUUUUNNNNNNAAAAAKK TUUUUUUUUUUUNNNN. All in unison the men look up with steely gazes, the lights lift and begin to swing back and forth across the crowd.  You would think that Elvis had entered the building by the frenzied glee pouring off of crowd (myself included). We all shout TUUUUUUUN and begin to jump up and down.

 

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Ladies are on the outside cheering ourselves hoarse.

The Captain in the center of his men like the absolute commander that he is. He begins to shake his hips, and finger dance. Women swoon, dogs howl, parents cover their children’s eyes.  He plays a pretend harp with his body while swaying to the sweet Hindi felicities blaring out of the speakers. The crowd wants more! The Captain looks at me, and I melt. “Oh captain my captain.” He gyrates his hips some more, plays the pretend harp, finger dances.  I felt faint. I swear, and I know I am not alone in this if the ladies of our party could get our knickers off we would have to throw them at them. I am sure someone threw hotel keys.

 

Then it ends and the world is a cold, dark, cruel place again. That Daler Mehndi wrote a hell of a party song. It has been almost ten years and family and friends still talk about The Captain getting out there and dancing. My bold brave captain.

But First, Fifty Teas.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. C.S Lewis

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Every year I set out to learn something new. I’ll be damned if I don’t have some personal growth every year of some sort. Besides, life is short or long depending on how you look at it; I am going to try to eeek out every experience I can before I die.

This process is really a hit or miss process.

One year I set out to learn everything I could about whiskey. I still don’t know my ass from my elbow when it comes to most whiskeys. However, I did learn quite a bit and sampled 27 different varieties till my impending motherhood put the kibosh on drinking. I would consider the whiskey drinking a bit of a miss only because of the kid but I did discover that I am indeed a 76-year-old British man deep down inside complete with tweed hat. You may call me Edmund Nigel Rickwillow III.

This is all a roundabout way to talk about my Tea challenge of 2013. Fifty teas in 365 days. No duplicates. Holy shit! How am I going to do that? With great joy and furious vigor that’s how. Annoying amounts of vigor

Typical household conversation while on the quest:

Hey, honey I heard there is a tea shop that mixes their own teas a short fifty-mile drive from here.”

“It will be fun!”

“Yes, it will. Don’t 

make that face.”

“Sweetie, please don’t hide in the bathroom. C’mon we are going on an adventure!”

71KVRzZ8OFL._SL1500_Annoying amounts of vim and vigor! Hell, even I annoyed myself. But, I love to talk exhaustively about my current mission/goal that totally isn’t obsessive. Yes, it is still cool. Please be my friend. ahem.

Here is what I discovered. I think in the same way wine is very much up to the user’s palette so too is tea. Yes, there are flavors out there; blends, mixes, regional variations that impart greater richness to the flavor profile. Again much like wine. However, if you are someone who can not tell whether the tea was picked in rainy season or sunny, that the person who picked it wore gloves and there was dew present on the tea. Who gives a shit! The most wonderful part of tea I think, I only speak for me, is that it is a hug from the inside out. It feels good in your hands, it feels good in your mouth, it relaxes the soul and gives you a hug. That is what it is all about and frankly, I think we all need more hugs. Internal and externally. I’ve attached my exhaustive list of tea I tried below. Some were very good, some tasted like satan’s asshole.

Teavana English Breakfast served cold. Only had it hot. Yummmy
Peach Tea by Stash. Serious yum. Mixed it with regular
I had a delicious English bmr-tea-1reakfast at cafe brief across from the library. Researching the brand
sweetheart valentines day tea by Bigelow. Bleh. Cannot stand red-hot candies and this is reminiscent of them complete with red food coloring…
Teavana Lime tea
white chocolate tea from Bigelow. Kills my sweet tooth craving for chocolate. But it is not really sweet.
St. Dafour organic black cherry tea
adagio peach oolong
bengal spice celestial seasons tea is delicious. I adore cinnamon tea and this is perfect non-bitter tea
Teavana – Kona Pineapple pop. YUMMY!
Teavana – wild orange blossom. Way to bitter for my tastes
Teavana – Blueberry bliss
Teavana – Citrus Lavender sage
Teavana – Opus rouge
Teavana – Strawberry rose champagne
Teavana – Maharaja Chai Oolong
stash – decaf chocolate hazelnut
Red Leaf Tea Company – Maple matcha
Peach Apricot – The Tao of Tea at the Portland Chinese Garden
Mint lime Mojito – Zhena’s Gypsy Teas. I own this tea but never had it hot. Total meh
Lemon Zinger by celestial seasons. Yummy lemon. Going to try iced.
Teavana Wonderberry chocolate truffle. This I liked a lot. But mark deemed it from Satan’s Asshole.
Tao of Tea Vanilla almond
Teavana – salt caramel tea
Teavana – Banana foster
Teavana – Peach tea
Strawberry Cream Tea Teavana – Too much hibiscus
Spiced vanilla chai blend – teachaiate
Vanilla tea from Camilla tea
Cinnamon tea from Camilla tea
lychee tea from Camilla tea
berry tea from Camilla tea
berry almond amaretto from Teavana
pineapple tea from Teavana
lime cola tea from Zoomdweebies.com
samurai chai mate from Teavana
maharaja chai mate from Teavana
dragonfruit devotion from Teavana- Yum from April
berry kiwi colada from Teavana
Peach Tea from Teavana
constant comment
house tea from Dragon tree
apricot creme from Thea.
Scottish breakfast tea
Twinnings Irish Breakfast
Tazo cinnamon spice tea
Tazo Organic Iced Green Tea
Teavana – Strawberry Sangria
Teavana – Fruit Bomba

 

Camping is Crap – Sorta

ee0a857b7172a61aab4ebe47d7bfcf59Well no, it really isn’t crap. Maybe you could liken camping to cold french fries that you warm up in the microwave. It is supposed to be satisfying, but they are never really as good as you expect it to be and it will probably leave you with a stomach ache and/or the runs. Also, isn’t camping supposed to bring you all sorts of enlightenment? Get out into nature and experience a oneness. Let me set the scene. Last minute, “why the hell not” decision to camp on a Friday night. insert an inadequately prepared family of 4 with neurotic dogs. Grandmother, husband, me and a 14-month-old baby. Here is what I learned on my last camping trip.

  1. Setting up a tent on a hillside where you sleep at a 45-degree angle could be classified as a weird sort of psychological torture. Constantly sliding down a hill while sleeping makes you dream you are going to slip-n-slide to hell or the world is covered in lube.
  2. Never camp with a 30-year-old tent. I am still coughing out the shredded plastic fibers. The only upside is the calming pea green color. Why did folks in the early eighties think pea green was the color du jour?
  3. Only camp with your toddler if absolutely necessary. If there is a cliff, river, or patch of poison something your toddler will run at it full speed. Which means as a parent you will have to hold your screaming toddler.  The whole time. (see the previous comment about being inadequately prepared) My kid weighed thirty pounds. I hated everyone after hour 3.
  4. Never camp with my dog. My dog hates other dogs. He tries to simultaneously shred them to pieces and run away scared. The dog had to remain on a leash for the entirety of camping outing. Thus, the dog made a circular track around the tree while he tried to maim every foreign thing he saw. This included wildlife, trees, stumps, the stars, me after awhile. It was all a crazy fever dream for him. This got annoying at 2 am. For the extent of the trip; I hated my dog.
  5. Mosquitos were invented by the devil to taunt me.  If only they sucked fat instead of blood. (see number 6) Ever read the book, “Thinner?” That would be me.  They will hassle no one else. I swatted mosquitos away and prayed for a firestorm. The other members of my camping party told me it was all in my head. I wanted to push them in the aforementioned poison-something bush.
  6. I ended up eating only chips because it was both too dark to see and I was too tired to give a damn. Actually, this wasn’t all that bad.
  7. Fire is beautiful and the thought of roasting smores by the campsite is great until your toddler wants to play with the shiny bright thing.
  8. Raccoons are jerk faces.

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I want to like camping. I used to love it when I was a kid, but now it seems like it lacks all the things I want in my daily life; toilets, showers, hot food, no bugs. I end up feeling like, “what fresh hell is nature bringing me now?” I’ll camp if it is not torture so my kid can eat a s’more. But future self will need a fabulous RV or tasteful beekeeper suit. I can look out at nature and flip off all the bugs.

Poke around the Shanghai Tunnels they said..

I want to tell you a little story about an experience I had when I first moved to portland. I went on a haunted ghost tour of downtown portland found here.

I did this for a variety of reasons:

  1. It was cheap entertainment for the evening.
  2. Gave me an opportunity to walk around like a tourist.
  3. Also, gave me a chance to hang out with my very cool friend Jessica.
  4. I like dark stories when they involve architecture and secret compartments.
  5. Even better if they feature some sort of dastardly secret society hell bent on kidnapping you and using you for nefarious purposes.
  6. I can use these stories later to not-impress family and friends when they come to town to visit me.
  7. I do believe in ghosts.
  8. I do believe that alcohol can make the above mentioned points even better.

The evening started off mild and wet. I met up with my friend Jessica and ghost hunting partner at a local bar downtown called Oldtown Brewing. This bar is renown for its excellent beer, excellent pizza and haunted and terrifying past.

“Old Town Pizza sits in what used to be called the Old North End, a section of the city with a rather questionable reputation. Despite the upstanding clientele of the Merchant Hotel, even it was known for offering one of the oldest professions in the world: prostitution. As legend goes, one of the young “working women” was Nina, sold into this life by a thriving white slavery market. In an effort to clean up the neighborhood, traveling missionaries convinced Nina to share information in exchange for freeing her from a fate she did not choose. Nina cooperated but soon afterward was found dead in the hotel, now Old Town Pizza. Thrown down the elevator shaft, Nina is reported to have never left the building. Could it be Nina who carved her name in the brick of the old elevator shaft, now the backdrop of a cozy booth in the rear of the restaurant?” https://www.otbrewing.com/haunted-past

The beer was good though, plus they had karaoke. Bad karaoke can make you wish you were dead, so that was close enough for me. I did not meet Nina, there was no hovering over my pizza while karaoke played, but I did hear a neat story told by a great storyteller.

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Entrance to the tunnel proper
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Entrance to the bowels of hell. No really just stairs to the basement.
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The weird tunnel is in the back that just leads off.
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Where we had our story time. No seance this time. 
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Old AF stairs that lead down into the basement. 

 

After our food, beer, and story where concluded. We headed down single file to the back of the restaurant and filtered through a series of hallways and stairs that lead down into the dusty and dimly lit basement. The room looked old by the wood lathe used on the walls. It smelled dusty, moldy, but with the never mistaken smell of rising pizza dough.  You can tell that it had not been used as a busy space in years except by GHOSTS! haha no really, it was pretty well not used. In the corner of the basement was a dark and cordoned off hallway that lead.. well..it led away into darkness.  I am not trying to be all mystical or scary movie-ish. It literally led out into the darkness around the corner. It was a weird hallway. We were not allowed to follow the hallway into the great beyond. My inner goonie was screaming. Apparently it is dangerous to walk around pitch black tunnels in the middle of the night that may or may not be used for slave trade and/or drug running. They could get sued. All I heard was blah blah you are ruining my fun.

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The tour continued around downtown from there. It is a walking tour after all. The guide walked and pointed and the tour group nodded sagely and occasionally took pictures. I know we visited the Bensen Hotel, which is a marvel of wood and crystal and makes me feel both very fancy and underdressed at the same time. Apparently it is said to be haunted by the ghost of the previous owner, Mr. Bensen. No freaky apparitions of men from the 1930’s wearing expensive suits were seen. I did however have another drink.

A little bit of trivia, “The Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell died in his hotel room at the Benson Hotel on November 12, 2008 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benson_Hotel)”

I hive-fived his ghost while washing my hands in the ladies loo.