Monday, April 21, 2008

FW: another one

Copy and paste this into a new email, then place an X by all the things you've done and remove the X from the ones you have not. Answer 30 questions at the end and send it to friends (including me). This for your entire life.

(x yeah, a Deaf date, too. That one's lasted over 15 years and still ongoing! ) Gone on a blind date ?
() Skipped school
( would you count a spider as some"one?" ) Watched someone die
(x) Been to Canada
(x) Been to Mexico
(x) Been to Florida
(x) Been to Europe
(X) Been on a Plane
(X uh, yeah yesterday, driving around Salem looking for home foreclosures ) Been lost, in any sense of the word
(x both ) Swam in the ocean
(x) Been on the opposite side of the country
(x several 4-H trips and one honeymoon) Gone to Washington , D.C.
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Played cops and robbers
( surprisingly, no ) Recently colored with crayons?
(x badly ) Sang Karaoke
(X unwrapped pennies ) Paid for a meal with coins only
(X I still have some M&Ms left, too ) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
(X I did 4 of them to one of our salespeople this morning by mistake) Made prank phone calls?
(x red koolaid once, adult beverages another time - that burned ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(X uhhh, yesterday ) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(x uhhh, yesterday ) Danced in the rain
(X yeah, and now I sign certain letters to little kids with his name) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(X my cousin, blechhhh! ) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(X does driving down the road, bleary-eyed, taking him to work at 5am count? And I can't say I cared about him very much at that ungodly hour of the morning. ) Watched the sunrise with someone you care about
(X) Blown bubbles
(x) Gone ice-skating
() Been skinny dipping outdoors
(X what kind of question is that?? Who hasn't done this?) Gone to movies

1. Any nicknames? SPam (but that kind of died away with the advent of the internet)
2. Mother's name? Donna. Why?
3. Body Piercing? just one in each ear only
4. Do you love your job? There's a foam frisbee flying back and forth in here!
Oh, uh, yes, except when I have to actually work. (Hiya boss, how are you??) Ok, I loved talking to the old lady who went way off topic from what we were supposed to be talking about and she told me in great detail about a problem she had been having with excess mucous in her nose and she sneezed while driving and had a bit of an explosion onto her lap and brand new sweater... and she got a little distracted from the mess... She was a HOOT. I'd invite her to lunch if I could (and I'd bring extra Kleenex, of course.)
5. Favorite vacation spot? My last road trip to Bend was great, but that's not really a vacation spot. Pretty much any new city or scenic place is a great vacation spot for me.
6. Ever eaten cookies for dinner? yes, I think we had ice cream for dessert that night, too. What?? I was tired.
7. Ever been on t.v.? no, but in the newspaper lots of times.
8. Ever steal any traffic signs? been involved in a situation where the cops stopped us for stealing traffic signs... until they took a good look at the street names and realized they were theater props were were transporting from one theater site to another.
9. Ever been in a car accident? yep, I knocked the front door off a car once. He parked way too far from the curb on a busy street during rush hour and didn't check his mirror before suddenly opening his door.
10. Drive a 2-door or 4-door? 5 -door
11. Favorite salad dressing? Litehouse Garlic Caesar
12. Favorite Pie? Lemon Merengue or my mom's blueberry pie
13.Favorite number? it's a secret
14. Favorite movie? A Christmas Story, The Princess Bride, And Now For Something Completely Different, Napoleon Dynamite, and any other movie worth quoting at random times... Oh, and anything with Steve Carrell.
15. Favorite dessert? Creme Brulee. It's so easy to make.
16. Favorite Holiday ? Xmas/Halloween, in that order
17. Favorite food? Meditteranean and Middle Eastern nosh
18. Favorite day of the week? Tuesday! Because on that day I'm Sure Happy It's Tuesday!
19. Favorite brand of body wash? Huh? Soap. Maybe I'm not girly enough if I don't have a favorite brand? Who writes these questions, anyway?
21. Favorite smell? If it stinks, I ain't smellin' it.
22. What do you do to relax? Answer and read memes like this one
23. What is your number 1 pet peeve in the whole world? Stupidness.
Unless someone gets hurt, then it's funny. (OMG, I sound like my boss.)
24. How do you see yourself in 10 years? Probably with a mirror. I may need glasses to see myself clearly...
25. Furthest place you will send this message? Around the world, probably. I'm sending this to my Adventures blog*
26. Who will respond to this the fastest? Uhhh, who's got 5 minutes to kill?

*(If you read this in my blog, just post your answers in a comment here or link to it and post your answers in your own blog.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Last week's adventure

Monday: the alternator goes out on the van. When paying $600 for repairs, the mechanic urged us to get rid of it. Soon.

Tuesday: we crunch numbers and decide to keep the van for Frank to commute to work but buy a newer, reliable vehicle. Requirements include being able to haul two stand-up basses (see previous blog post) but also have a minimum 30mpg. Big SUV cargo space with subcompact fuel economy. Could we find what we need - and fast?

Wednesday: we bought a 2007 Chevy HHR. It looks just like this one. Love it.

Friday: Rachel has an Orchestra trip to Bend, Oregon. We've never been there before. One of the other parents already had the basses loaded into his minivan, so I took a half dozen violins and followed the school bus all the way to Bend (and at times driving only 35 mph up some of the steeper grades, going over the mountain.)

Ok, stop for a moment and look at the picture of our new car. Looks like a mafia car, doesn't it? And we loaded it up with violin cases. Rachel and I were cracking up all day about that. The other parents didn't seem to get it. Being from the midwest, namely Wisconsin, then living in Minneapolis/St. Paul for over a decade, Al Capone's influence was present my entire life. But maybe his influence didn't stretch all the way out here to Oregon. Anyway, we thought that was pretty darn funny.

So, driving alone, with Ray on the bus, I had to take pictures by myself. I set the camera on the dash and snapped away when something caught my eye. I am so sorry I didn't insist that Frank come with us. When we visit a new town he likes to have me drive and he'll say, "Go down this road. Now go that way. Let's go over there to see what that is..." and he has the binoculars on his lap as I drive. We love to do this, and I regret that he wasn't able to experience all the scenery and be as surprised at the massive contrast between the lush Willamette Valley on the west side of the Cascades compared to the arid high desert on the east side.

I did take a lot of pictures, and here's a slideshow of the highlights. They're out of order, I apologize. I'll try to figure out how to get them in the correct order later. Click pause in the lower left if you want to sto pand read the title and/or comments.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Things To Do In or Around Bend

After chaperoning on a recent orchestra trip to Bend, Oregon, I can't wait to go back up and over the mountains to see more. Granted, I only saw a little bit of town and a lot of one of their high schools, but the scenery going over the moutains and the amazing, jaw-dropping view to the southwest has me practically drooling for more.

Photo courtesy of the Oregon State Highway Department.

I'll share my photos and more details of our orchestra trip soon, but meanwhile, my friend Todd, who used to live over there, emailed me this list of places to visit on our next trip over the mountains. Some places I'd heard of, others were new to me. All of these include his own comments, except for the info about rock collecting, which may have come from some unknown website.

Here are Todd's suggestions for our next trip to Central Oregon:

Petersen’s Rock gardens
This is a quirky strange rockery that celebrates America and various landmarks. It was mostly built during the 30’s -50’s

Smith Rock State Park
This is very beautiful to look at and hike around. It is also a rock climbing Mecca so if you do any climbing you will love it.

Lava Tubes & Ice Caves
Lava river caves
They actually only let you in one of the caves due to collapses in the past but I have sneaked into the blocked off cave once in the middle of the winter. It is fun but there are not any stalactites or stalagmites it is far too recent geologically speaking for that to have occurred yet. There is a day use fee…

There are about 12 various lava tubes and ice caves out China Hat Rd. I have been to most of them; however they may not be labeled from the road anymore due to vandalism. If you stop at a ranger station in the bend area they should be able tell you how to get there. But you will need your own ropes and lanterns.

Lava Lands Visitor Center
It is being redone so I’m not sure how it will be when it opens again, but before it hasd very cool dioramas with rumbling floors and interesting lighting and sound EFX.

The High Desert Museum

This is a kind of a hybrid Zoo/Living History museum it is very worthwhile and fun. Probably one of the best museum’s in the state.

Pine Mountain Observatory
This is cool I believe one of the largest collection of large telescopes in Oregon. I’ve been here several times it’s only open in the summer because the roads become inaccessible during the winter.

Shaniko Ghost Town
Never been here but I found it looks strange and interesting.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Part of the national parks system this fossils bed allows you to keep small fossils but not anything large. I have personally found fossilized shellfish here.

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
A collection of 20 or so alpine lakes along about a 50 mile road very picturesque very pretty and very crowed on the weekends this is probably a much better byway than the one over by Sisters. Scenic America named it one of the nation's 10 most important byways.

This is a resort with golfing fishing boating shopping and more it is a very nice place to get a vacation home rental for a week. There are bike paths everywhere so you don’t need to use your car once inside.

Rock Collecting
There are several sites in and around bend for rock hounding. It is a fun hobby but the sites are too numerous to mention here if you are interested there are guides at the library.

Thundereggs -
Oregon’s state rockUnimpressive on the outside, these spherical rocks contain colorful silicic material and when sliced and polished, make beautiful collector’s items. Oregon’s state rock can be collected at fee and free sites in central and southeastern Oregon.

Agates and Jasper -
These semiprecious gemstones can be collected at many sites along the Oregon coast, including Agate Beach at Newport, in some of the streams draining the Western Cascade, near the town of Antelope and around Prineville in central Oregon, near Hart Mountain and Lakeview in south-central Oregon, and at Succor Creek in southeastern Oregon.

Obsidian -
This volcanic glass can be collected in central Oregon at Glass Buttes on Highway 20 between Bend and Burns. An enormous flow of obsidian can also be seen at Newberry Crater, south and east of Bend, but no collecting is permitted in this national monument.

Gold -
Gold has been mined for many years in the Blue Mountains, the Western Cascades, and the Klamath Mountains. Oregon has set aside fee and free sites for recreational gold panning. Gold panning is also usually permitted on nearly all banks of stream and rivers running through state land and through BLM and United States Forest Service (USFS) campgrounds in Oregon.

Oregon Sunstone -
Oregon’s state gemstone.In color, the gems range from water clear to pale yellow, soft pink, and blood red to deep blue and green. Oregon sunstones are a rare type of feldspar crystal that is of gem grade and large enough to cut stones for jewelry. Found in Lake and Harney Counties, where they are dug from the soil and the underlying lava flows. It may be collected on Bureau of Land Management, (BLM) land and fee sites near Lakeview, but collecting on mining claims is prohibited.
- Pam's note: I have seen earrings made out of sunstone and they remind me of tourmaline. The sunstone used in the earrings is a cloudy tomato red at one end and flecked deep amber gold at the other end. As the color changes from red to amber, the cloudiness changes to crystaline and all the copper colored flecks sparkle within. They're very striking.

Beads courtesy of Mcfarland Designs

Earrings courtesy of Rogue Gems

See? And you thought Oregon was all moss and rain...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Big Red is Dying

I'm not a soccer mom but I love my big red van. We can fit a sofa in it and close the back door. It's great for road trips, and we periodically cram 7 people into it and temporarily escape from our lame town of "Sa-LAME" to... any place better.

We use it to haul basses around, for crying out loud. It's our Bassmobile!

Hold on. That picture is a fine looking bass but look at this to get an idea just how large this instrument really is before you say, "It's a bass. Big deal." Here's a better picture of just how large these babies are.
Yes, you can see that this is a very large instrument. And we usually carry two: Rachel's plus one other, for orchestra events around town. This Friday, I'll be driving two of them up and over the mountains to Bend. (I hope.)

Did I mention how fragile basses are? Or how they don't just fold up into a compact box? Even the carrying case is made of soft cloth or vinyl. If the bridge gets knocked off (that's the blonde piece of wood under his right hand) there goes about $400. I like to think that driving Big Red may actually save us $400 by making it easy to load and unload the two instrument(s). Don't even get me started on the 2 basses, 4 cellos, 10 violins, 6 violas, and 3 large pizza carriers that I chauffeured around on a school tour last year...

So we got bad news yesterday when the mechanic told us, "Ok, your charge for the new battery, serpentine belt and alternator are $631. My advice is free: get rid of it."

What?? He repeated: "Trade in this van as soon as possible; it's dying. Get something else before there is no trade-in value left. Hurry."

So now we are on a quest to find an affordable (ie: we want to pay cash), fuel-efficient car.

One that will fit at least two basses in the back. That's because I've turned into the official volunteer parent who "really hauls bass."
Har de har har.

On the other hand, yesterday's transportation woes didn't end with a dying van having one last expensive operation. After dropping off the van at the mechanic, I hoofed it to the mall, hopped a bus (ok, I revived myself with something frosty from Starbuck's - it was lunch time by then) realized the bus would get me to work just in time to go back outside and wait an hour for the return bus to pick me up, no thank you. (Limited public transportation; I told you this town is lame.) Instead I took a bus downtown to update Frank on the impending death of his beloved. When I hopped off the bus I gasped. Not only were my 5-year old $20 shoes eating my achilles, I swear they were dissolving the soles of my aching feet. I could barely hobble in to his cafe to give him the news.

My wonderful husband said, "Ok, we'll get another car. And here's my credit card. Go get some shoes."
And so I did. Aren't they cute?
(What?? They were on sale!)
It was that or Haagen Dazs!

Back to the hauling bass situation.
Rachel wants to look at a Kia Rio.

MMmmmm, yah. First criteria in finding a car was fuel efficiency. Now I think we're gonna have to take a bass with us to the dealership to see if it even fits before any other consideration.
I think we may have to take the camera, as well.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Oregon Photography (and other beautiful shots)

Digging around online for some photos of Silver Falls, I discovered the gallery of a very talented photographer.

Click click click and enjoy:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Knee Injury Causes Tourette's

Two weeks ago I was babysitting for my upstairs neighbor when I gracefully tripped over a baby gate and crashed: face down, spread-eagle on the just-washed kitchen floor.

The four kids I was babysitting all ran into the kitchen to see me laying on the floor, groaning. One of them offered me a bandaid. Another offered to help me up. I thanked them but said I needed to wait for my knee to stop stinging and then I would stand up. I was fine, laying face down on the kitchen floor for now. Besides, I was busy editing all the words in my head that I wanted to yell. I didn't say anything because I could only think of @&^&$%#@ and I didn't think their mom wanted them to learn these fancy words until they're older.

Lying on the cold floor, I realize that I don't swear. Where are these words coming from?

Oh, and Rachel was downstairs in the next room. There are always rambunctious kid noises coming from upstairs - we let 'em. They're kids. And they don't complain about our barking dog, so we're even. She said she didn't know what the big noise was that night, but she heard footsteps into the kitchen, then ping - creak - rattle - ka BOOM! then four pairs or little feet running toward the kitchen.

Five minutes later Rachel and Frank stared as their mother and wife burst into the apartment with tears streaming down her face. She dropped her pants, examined her left knee, pulled up her pants, grabbed an ice pack from the freezer, muttered "@*&%" then hobbled out the door, slamming it behind her. Rachel's jaw drops as she realizes her mother just swore.

Turns out when my left toe caught the gate I crash landed on my still-bent left knee. Now I don't pretend to be a featherweight petite with hollow bones, so when my knee hit the floor, all ### pounds of me landed on that one knee.

It has been a little tender since.

After hobbling around as Igor or Quasimoto for a few days I've limbered up to where I sometimes forget that there just might be a swollen or slightly torn tendon or ligament deep inside. When that happens, I plop on the couch with my left leg curled up underneath me. I announce to anyone listening that the twisting action doesn't feel so good:

"#&#$(&*# knee!"
To keep Frank in the loop, I translate "#&#$(&*#" into sign language. He stares at me for a long time, then feels my forehead in case it's a little warm.

Last night I tried to shift my leg so I was still effectively "curled up" on the sofa. Finding a comfortable spot was @*#!&% impossible until my #&@#$"#&%#$ leg was stick straight and my foot was up on the *#!&% ottoman. I tried to #!&%@* relax but I couldn't without being #!@*&%"#!@*&% curled up on the #!&@*!%#!&@*!% couch.

@*#!&% it. I just #!&%@* gave up and #&#$ went to @*#!&% bed.

Be sure to check Pam's Inbox for today's giggle:
Pam's Inbox