Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Wishes from CCX

To continue with our Arctic Blast snow theme, I thought I'd share a seasonal photograph of a snowman I saw once while visiting the Sierra foothills.

Happy Holidays! Here at Chocolate Covered Xanax we hope all of your...ahem...biggest....and brightest wishes come true.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Donner, party of 8, your table is ready.

So we're having some snow issues here in Oregon. Let's just get this straight right now. We Oregonians are a mild people. We don't descend from the Norwegians like half of the state of Minnesota. We mostly come from California so we are unprepared for wacky weather like we have seen for the last week. The news stations (who love to name weather systems) have called this storm "Arctic Blast 2008". We here at the gateway to Mount Hood call it "What the @#%#$@^, doesn't God know it's my Christmas break and this is seriously cutting into my plans Blast 2008". I know, pretty similar names.

We're at 3 feet and counting. It's snowed here for the last 3 days straight. I'm seriously considering calling an ambulance for a severe case of cabin fever.

We were able to get out to a neighbor's house today and were rewarded with witnessing a fender bender, 3 cars spinning out, one car missing the road completely and getting stuck on the sidewalk and finally a refill on homemade kahlua by said neighbor. Thank God for kahlua and hot chocolate. I can probably put off the call to 911 now.
Hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday hysteria - it's a gas.

I realize that after admitting the following transgression Heraldo will never make out with me in the backseat of my car again, but while accompanying Bee to her holiday party in Crescent City yesterday, I bought toothpaste at Walmart.

The checkout line was so long that I started to wrestle with the wrapper of the large box of peppermint candy I was also purchasing so that we could eat some while waiting. (They were those delectable melt-aways. I couldn't help myself.)

Suddenly Bee nudged me. "Did you see that?"

I hadn't.

"Some guy just stole something and ran out the door. He threw the box right there."

Not wanting to pry myself away from the task at hand of ripping the plastic off the peppermints, I didn't look up. "What'd he steal?" I asked her.

She giggled. "Beano."

I laughed. "Ha! Yeah, right." I had finally gotten the box open and handed her a peppermint.

"No, seriously. He slipped the Beano out of the box and into his pocket, threw the box down, and ran out the door. Look."

I looked to the place where her finger pointed, and there it was. An open empty box that used to contain Beano.

Why things like this strike me as hilarious is a mystery unto itself, but I laughed until the tears rolled down my face and my stomach hurt and the Walmart clerk looked questioningly at Bee while wondering if she was going to have to call 911.

For a split second on our way out the door I felt a twinge of guilt that neither one of us said anything to an employee about the shoplifter. But then I just shrugged my shoulders because, truly, a person who has to steal Beano from Walmart doesn't really need any more problems in his life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shameless Blog Promotion

If you're still looking for the perfect holiday gifts, or if you just need something pretty for yourself, don't miss tonight's Design Collective show at the Accident Gallery. The Design Collective is a series of shopping events that celebrate Humboldt County's local design talent. The Holiday Collective is the 3rd in the series and last for the year!

Like a certain other blogger, I am also a jewelry designer in my spare time and will be there drunkenly hawking my wares. Because there's beer. And food. And a DJ. And admission is free. So it's a good time whether you're shopping or not.

Here's Shane and Monica. Monica is wearing one of my pendants featuring a piece of vintage sheet music that says "Pretty Baby," which she is. (I blatantly stole this picture from Greg without even asking because I'm bad. Very, very bad.)

You can see more of my stuff here, but I really hope to see you tonight!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Doc Weed's Memories of Humboldt

While dicking around instead of working taking a short break today I ran across this blog entry about a young man's experience working for a mill in Humboldt in 1956. It's a pretty fascinating tale, and I thought some of you might be interested in it as well or even recognize the landmarks and people mentioned. Here's an excerpt:

We arrived in Fortuna, the main market town for the dairy farmers and loggers alike, in late morning on the fourth day. We picked up some food and other supplies, got directions, and headed east on the narrow, winding country road leading to Carlotta, where we would be working for the next two months. On the way, we passed through Hydesville, another quaint farming village. After Hydesville, the road wound into the hills and, an hour later, we were in Carlotta, which, as far as we could tell, was nothing more than two sawmills, a general store and a post office. Not even a diner or gas station! Now all we had to do was figure out where we were going to live.

At the Post Office, we learned that there were plenty of campgrounds up the road–including Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park– but the most intriguing was a place managed by Strong’s Station, an old stagecoach stop along the road between Fortuna to Red Bluff, a town on the other side of the mountain. This was a private redwood grove, owned by Hammond Lumber Company, through which the Van Dusen River, from which we could get our water and in which we could take our baths, ran. It was beautiful and very quiet, and we assumed that we would be able to live comfortably and peacefully there for the next two months.

We soon learned that “comfortably and peacefully ” weren’t quite the right words, but we had no way of knowing what adventures were coming our way when we plunked down our $12 a week camping fee on that first day.

To read the whole thing click here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Super Diamond

Super Diamond was the featured musical act on the Late Show with David Letterman last night. You may have heard of this fantastic Neil Diamond tribute band based in San Francisco. But did you know that the cute keyboardist with the dark hair and chiseled cheek bones hails from Humboldt County?

James Terris graduated from Fortuna High. I remember him way back then as part of a late 80's Flock of Seagulls/Cutting Crew/Tears For Fears sideways haircut group who named themselves after an ingredient in stiff hairspray (Peg...something?) I had a thing for the drummer.

Music was always James' passion, and now it's also his living. I'm so happy that he is able to live the creative life he dreamed of.

Here's last night's performance. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

seven things....

Thanks to Eko, for giving me something to write about besides my melodramatic personal life. He seven-things tagged me, and it's been so much fun reading about everyone else that I just can't resist playing. Here's seven things you might not know or might not want to know about me:

1) I dream almost every night about carnival rides, water or carnival rides in water. I've never sought out interpretation because I truly don't want to know the meaning. I'm afraid they'd stop.

2) Though several people have tried to teach me, I can't drive a stick shift.

2) I love my scars, my stretch marks, the bump on my nose and miscellaneous other body oddities. I love them on other people too. Perfection is so dull.

3) I hate doing the dishes and am always tempted to just throw them out the window when they stack up. I'd rather do any other chore - even clean the toilet or unclog a sink - than do the dishes.

4) I was psychically tuned in when I was a kid. On my sixth birthday the phone rang. I said to my brother, "That's Aunt Teresa, and she can't come to my party." And that's exactly who it was. When I was nine I repeatedly dreamt that my grandma was standing at the kitchen counter taking medication from a bottle, and I was trying to scream at her not to but no sound would come from my mouth. She later committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.

5) Even though I disagree with them on just about everything, I find the Fortucky rednecks drinking whiskey at The Playroom highly entertaining.

6) I cannot do hallucinogens. Pot gives me panic attacks. LSD makes bugs crawl all over my body. Mushrooms make me curl up in a fetal position on the bathroom floor for two hours. That's why I stick to booze.

7) I have nearly died three times. The last, in 2000, I was less than two hours from death from pneumonia gone septic when I made it to the emergency room. I think it's why I'm never afraid of change.

And in the spirit of keeping things going, I tag (Sorry if you've already been)

Keri (Has anyone seen my cousin? This blog has become the Kristabel show. Where are you????)
Rambling Jack
Katie LeJoi

Saturday, November 8, 2008

moving and breathing

This is how it works.
You're young until you're not.
You love until you don't.
You try until you can't.
You laugh until you cry.
You cry until you laugh.
And everyone must breathe
until their dying breath.

~Regina Spektor

Next week I will start the first of many trips out of the bear river valley, my car filled with boxes of things I once thought were important. It will be hard to leave such beauty.

Last winter the little schoolhouse Squirrel and I share began to fall apart and has continued to over the last ten months. Water lines were constantly broken. Fences, gates and steps rotted and disintegrated. Pipes leaked, appliances stopped working and the shingles came off the roof one by one.

Squirrel and my relationship began to erode along with the house, and though we tried the best we could, neither one of us has been able to make the necessary repairs. We will no longer be living together.

I find myself without anger or accusations or blame, only with a deep sadness and a grief for a dream that has died, along with an anxiousness that always comes from a future uncertain.

At the end of every day now I make my way home to a funky little cabin made of recycled windows and abandoned wood. I sit on the floor, talk to the resident spider, shed more than a few tears, eat Greek yogurt and sleep in a tiny loft that makes me feel like a fat little bird hiding from predators.

And for the first time in a very long while I can breathe again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Write to Marry Day

When Squirrel and I were planning our wedding one of the things that really bothered me was the fact that we could. Get married, that is. Purely because we're straight.

I looked through our guest list and realized we had a number of friends coming who were gay - several of them long-term couples. It felt so ugly and discriminatory, and even though I knew our friends probably wouldn't feel this way, to me it felt like we were throwing our heterosexual privilege in their faces.

I wanted to make a big statement, like having someone read the text of the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Preferably my flamboyant friend Pancake. In drag.

Squirrel, being much more understated and less willing to piss off our fundamental Christian relatives, wanted something a little more subtle. In the end, we compromised, and to this day I still regret the watered-down wording we chose.

So here's what I wish we would have said. It's beautiful, and spells out exactly why marriage is not a privilege but a right.

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations. Without question, civil marriage enhances the welfare of the community. It is a social institution of the highest importance. It is central to the way the Commonwealth identifies individuals, provides for the orderly distribution of property, ensures that children and adults are cared for and supported whenever possible from private rather than public funds, and tracks important epidemiological and demographic data. Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition. It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a civil right.

I am so thankful that California has made a similar decision, and I urge everyone to vote No on Proposition 8 and affirm the dignity and equality of all Californians.

Oh, and for those who are still using the "but they've got civil unions" argument? Although it probably won't be the last time anyone says this to you, it should be:

Separate is not fucking equal.

H/T to Joe for the heads-up about Write to Marry Day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Morning Confession

I can make a tender almond butter cake from scratch to serve 100 people, fill it with creamy lemon mousse and fresh raspberries, ice it with white chocolate buttercream then cover it with hand-molded white chocolate seashells,

but I can't fry a damn egg to save my soul.

It's very sad.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Absolute Best Time to get your Saturday Night....

is definitely not on the beach in Dubai.

Thank god Baker's Beach is still safe.

Bomp Chicka Bow Wow...Chicka Bomp Chicka Bow Bow...

Mmmmmm hmmmmmm.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Plan B pumpkin bread

The sun streaming through the bedroom window woke me up yesterday morning, and the first thing I could think of - after becoming sufficiently caffeinated - was that it looked like a great day to take a long walk. I put on my shoes and full of early weekend energy, started to open the front door to burst forth into the world. Just at that moment a huge gust of wind blew the door so hard that it tore from my hand and hit me smack in the middle of the head. Obviously the world wasn't ready for my bursting.

So off I went to rub my head, feel sorry for myself and start on plan B, a little fall baking. I love this recipe. It's really easy, really good and tastes just like autumn.

Pumpkin Bread

The Ingredients:

Place two cups of pumpkin (either canned or cooked), 3/4 cup water, 4 eggs and 1 cup of melted butter in a big bowl. Yes, I said one cup, also known as 2 sticks, of butter. This is important. Humboldt winters can be cold and harsh. You may need a little extra meat on your bones just to make it through. Just trying to be helpful.

Stir this with a big spoon until it looks like this:

Then in another bowl place 3 2/3 cups flour, 2 1/4 cups sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 2 tsp. cinnamon and 2 tsp. baking soda.

Stir this up, add it to the wet ingredients and stir them together until the mixture is well blended.

Then you have a decision to make: to add or not to add. Some people like nuts in their pumpkin bread, and others like raisins. Some people like both, and some people like nothing at all. I prefer chocolate chips. You might think this is an odd combination, but it's one of those things that sounds strange and maybe even distasteful at first, but is in reality most delightful in the mouth - much like apple pie with cheddar cheese, Jones green apple soda and oral sex.

I'm also one of those rare women who prefers milk chocolate to dark, especially in pumpkin bread. Add the ingredient of your choosing, stir it up well and place it into your greased and floured pans. I like to use this all-in-one butter/flour baking spray because I'm lazy.

This recipe makes two large loaves of bread. I made one large loaf and four small ones this time because I wanted to give some away.

Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour - maybe a little longer. Most recipes tell you to bake quick breads, cakes and the like at 350 and take them out when an inserted knife comes out clean. This makes things too dry for me. I like my baked goods moist and gooey and decadent and salacious, so I bake them a little lower and take them out when the knife still has a few crumbs clinging to it.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Google's been spying in my Outbox

Every once in awhile I get a little tipsy. Alright, sometimes I get a lot tipsy. Okay, sometimes I get totally plastered.

At any rate, this state of mind often makes me think I'm incredibly smart, witty and insightful and should share my rare talents with the world. If you are my friend, my lover, my ex-lover, my boss, my neighbor, my cousin, my co-worker or that guy I thought sounded straight in the "ABBA Love" Yahoo chat room, you know what I'm talking about.

The next morning while perusing my email, I sometimes find that perhaps I shouldn't have gone ahead and hit the Send button.

Now Google has the solution for this temporary affliction. It's called Mail Goggles. That's right, it's like a breathalyzer for your computer only instead of breathing into a machine, Mail Goggles makes you solve a series of math problems before allowing you to send any email. It only works at certain times which are pre-set for late nights on the weekend, but you can set it for self-monitoring too - like if you're prone to a Sunday brunch of bloody marys at The Alibi.

Considering I can barely do basic math sober, this service could most likely save me from potential disaster, or at the very least major embarrassment, but it certainly would make life a lot less interesting.

Thank god they haven't invented Phone Goggles.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Wren's Debate Party

My friend Wren throws a great party, and Wednesday's little debate get-together was no exception.

She had beautiful floral decorations on the table.

The rooms in her house were glowing with candlelight, and she brought out one of her most prized home decor accessories, dressed up for the occasion. We called her Sarahquin.

Of course, the most important thing was the food. We were all asked to contribute by bringing some sort of food or drink item from Alaska - open to interpretation. This was a rather spontaneous party, so I just didn't have time to make the Baked Alaska I really wanted to bring for dessert. I decided on bear claws instead.

There was also wild salmon dip,

several things that needed to be killed in order to eat them,

as well as chocolate moose cake.

As the wine flowed, the food disappeared, and the wine flowed some more, Sarahquin mysteriously began to participate in the debate herself. Her best answer:

"Darfur? Well, gosh, I know I'm not going to be very popular with some people for saying this, but in Alaska we have to wear fur sometimes. It's really cold, doggoneit."

Then she winked, and we hugged her and told her it would all be okay.

Thanks for the party, Wren. Good times, good times.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Did You Hear That?

Date: September 24, 2008
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Place: Old Town Coffee and Chocolates

A cute small man at the next table is discussing his love life with his coffee drinking companion.

Companion: "So, you're into Asian guys?"

Cute small man: "Yeah. So my ideal man would be an Asian midget. My therapist thinks I may need to broaden my horizons."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The new mouth to feed

My house no longer smells like these little bastards.

My blankets are no longer coming apart at the seams.

My lacy underwear has no new holes (except the ones created by human fingers ripping them off in the heat of passion of course)

I no longer find piles of crackers in the corners of cupboards.

Squirrel no longer wanders through the house swinging his machete and mumbling obscenities to himself.

There's peace in the schoolhouse in Bear River Valley tonight.

All thanks to King George.

Who's totally worth the price of cat food.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

And now in the something tells me there might have been alcohol involved department

Maybe it's me, but I cannot stop laughing hysterically at this article from the Fresno Bee, "Burglar victims wake to spice rub, sausage attack."
The victims, both farmworkers, told deputies they were awakened by a stranger applying "Pappy's Seasoning" to one of them and striking the other with a sausage.

And an 8-inch sausage at that!

Unfortunately in the end, the great big weapon was eaten by a dog.

I'm sure Pappy's is lovely, but personally, when being rubbed by burglars, I prefer that they use larrupin sauce. And don't worry. I'm not even going to tell you about my sausage preferences.

Friday, August 29, 2008

This sign

takes on a whole new meaning here, doesn't it?

Well....for the first time in my entire life I have absolutely nothing to say.

No drunken apologies.
No Saturday night suggestions.
No country living complaints.
No hot blogger fantasies.
Not even any random questions.

Wait, I have one random question about the plural form of penis. Is it peni? Like cacti? It should be. But anyway...

if anyone has any writer's block/brain cramp suggestions please let me know.

Or you can just go create your own fabulous church sign here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The R-Word

Check out this fabulous PSA by the ARC of Virginia, the ARC of Northern Virginia and Blueberry Shoes Productions in response to Tropic Thunder.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thanks, Mr. Stiller

Thank you so much for bringing the phrase "never go full retard" to the world. We just don't have enough horrible and demeaning things to say, especially when talking about people with disabilities. I am pleased to see a creative genius like you at work. There's just not enough hate speech in the world. /sarcasm

No matter where you stand in the whole Tropic Thunder controversy, the fact remains that we as a society continue to not only allow, but widely accept the use of "retard" or "retarded" or "tard" when talking about people with disabilities. I hear it several times a day - from the mouths of children as well as adults, on television, on the radio. There's even a proliferation of other versions of "tard" to describe people perceived as unintelligent: Celebutard, technotard, debutard, and the list goes on.

I have a lot of friends who have disabilities. I hear their stories of being bullied, victimized, tortured and teased. I see their fallen faces when they overhear someone laugh, "You're such a retard."

My friends talk about this word often - sometimes with anger, but more often with shame. A shame, not aimed at the people who use these words or at a society that allows and even encourages them to, but a shame at their own disability. Their own difference. A shame at who they are.

There are always people who attempt to use the "it's only a word" argument. "It's only a word," they'll say. "It can only offend you if you let it." Bullshit. A study done by the International Coalition on Abuse and Disability found that over 83 percent of women with developmental disabilities have been sexually assaulted and that 50 percent have been sexually assaulted 10 or more times. Hateful words lead to hateful actions.

It's easy to talk about other people's cruelty and ignorance in private, but I've never quite known what to do when things are said in public. Do I confront the offenders and bring more attention and likely ridicule to my friends? Do I try to explain the hurtful words away and keep perpetuating the silence? Do I encourage my friends to speak up for themselves when I know that they are often so afraid of others' disapproval they won't even speak up about what they'd like for breakfast?

So I was thrilled to see these little "words hit like a fist" cards being offered from Active Gray Matter. The image on the front is the one above. The image on the back is the text below. I've got 200 coming my way, but they're giving away 10,000 more free if you'd like some of your own. I can't wait to start handing them out - and giving some to everyone I know so that they can do the same.

It's time to end the hate.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Marshmallow monday, Oregon style

We admit it, we've been neglecting our marshmallow duties. You know how it is, right? Vacations, laundry and a few limoncellos and before you realize, it's August. Let me be the first to apologize. I'm sorry, really I am. And because I am a Type A person who needs people to like her I 'm going to try to make it up to you.

May I present:

Key Lime Marshmallows with Toasted Coconut, Macadamia Nuts, and White Chocolate

Using Kbel's recipe I used key lime juice instead of water to mix with the gelatin.

Then I toasted shredded coconut and chopped macadamia nuts. Chop up some white chocolate chips.

Spread it all out in the bottom of your pan. After whipping the marshmallows like they like it, you pour it over the toasty goodness that's waiting for it.

Once it's set up then I cut it in half and put one layer on top of the other. Now you'll get 2, 2, 2 bites in one!

If you've done it right your clothing will look like this:

We decided we may market our marshmallow creations because, after all, we need to make a million by the time we're 45. Forty would be ok too but it doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room.

Here's where you come in. We need a name for our burgeoning marshmallow empire. Help some sistas out will ya?

If you don't leave a business name I'll send my flying monkeys after you.

No, seriously, I will.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

This guy may be a

gun totin', god fearin', golf club swingin', conservative Republican from Fortucky, but he can still get down with his bad ABBA-lovin' self.

Rock on, Terry. I would've given you the sundae. Or maybe some Swedish meatballs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Welcome Home

Keri is on her way back today from visiting Burt's family in Minnesota, or as she fondly calls it, "Home of the Hot Dish." Ah, family vacations. Almost everyone I know has a family vacation story. I have several, but those are for another day.

Today I want to welcome Keri back with a special little memory about a family vacation we all took together one year. All ten of us, including Grandpa Joe, spent a week on a houseboat on Lake Shasta. That's right - ten people, four of them bratty teenagers, and one tiny bathroom. Good times.

On our last night there, our parents had the grand idea of holding a talent show. This was the year that "Yo MTV Raps" debuted, so Keri and I decided to write our own rap song for the event. Our brothers (both sporting fine mullets at the time) provided the background beats. I still remember the first line.

Here's a little story
We'd like to tell
About a family vacation
That was
For some reason our parents were less than amused.

And so I give you, straight from the summer of 1988:

D.J. Parachute Pants and The Flashdancer

Yes, that really is our hair. We were totally tubular!

What's your favorite family vacation memory?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Welcome to ABBA Ranch, King George

King George, previously of my favorite Boy Most Likely To...arrived on Friday. He was a little bit shy at first and spent one worrisome night hiding in the closet, but today he seems to have made himself right at home.

I find myself just calling him plain old King and singing him ridiculous cat versions of Elvis songs. You ain't nothin' but a tom cat.... eating all the time.... I'm sorry, Boy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Book Review

The other night I had dinner with my friend Wren - something we haven't done in far too long. Wren is an amazing woman in so many ways. She always helps me to remember that we must constantly remain open to whatever life brings our way.

And look what life brought my way via Wren. A new book! Wren swears by it and has insisted that I pass it around to all my other girls when I'm done...those inclined to care about tickling pickles, that is.

I've only made it through chapter two (titled "Meet the Penis & The Land Down Under), but so far it looks pretty good. Of course I can't be sure yet as I don't have a pickle. I mean, I don't have a pickle attached to my body. I mean...well, never mind. I don't know who Dr. Sadie Allison is, or how she became such an expert on the subject, but she seems to really know what she's talking about.

I think my favorite part of the book is that it is filled with random shaded boxes called "Sadie Sez." Interspersed through the different pages of fascinating facts and technique advice are these little gems filled with extra Dr. Sadie pep talks like the following:

Do you know the ONE technique that elevates a great blowjob into an outstanding blowjob? Enthusiasm. More than paint-by-the-numbers know-how, true oral sex artistry comes from wrapping energy, emotion, joy and rapture into your orgasmic masterpiece. Try it!

I can almost imagine Dr. Sadie jumping up and down and waving pom-poms above the headboard, can't you?

I also love the cover and think it's very appropriate. After all, who hasn't practiced zen and the art of stifling your gag reflex on a kosher dill?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Country Creatures Part 2

The weather in Bear River is almost always different than it is in town, especially during the summer. When I leave the house at 7 a.m. it is usually bright, sunny and warm, and I'm usually in short sleeves and flip flops. A half-hour later, mid-way through the descent down Wildcat Road, I realize that I've again dressed completely inappropriately as it's foggy and drippy and remains that way through the rest of my commute into Eureka.

The ride home is exactly the opposite. It's a glorious moment when I turn onto Bear River Ridge Road and the sky cracks open to reveal a bright blue without a cloud in sight.

The other day as I turned onto the ridge and looked down into the Eel River Valley I had to stop and get out of the car just so I didn't run off the road. I was standing in sunlight, but the fog was creeping in from the coast and over the trees. It reminded me of the winter ocean in its eerie beauty, and I just had to get a picture.

I got back in the car and continued on my journey across the ridge. Suddenly right in front of me was something I'd never encountered there before: a giant turkey. I see lots of turkeys here in the valley, but not like this one. The wild turkeys are thin and nondescript. They wander around in large groups and always run away when anyone goes near them. This turkey was different. It was big, fleshy - even flashy with its bright red....well...thing on its neck. You know what I'm talking about.

What really set this turkey apart, though, was his attitude. He stood there in front of my car glaring at me. Then he let out a loud, "Ggggooooobbbbbble!" I'm sure he meant to have an exclamation mark on the end.

I thought he was adorable. I grabbed my camera and rolled down the window to capture him in all his turkey cuteness. It was then that he ran over and started trying to peck my arm. I screamed and rolled up the window quickly as he continued to yell at me. "Gobble. Gobble. Gobble!" He then started pecking at the window. I thought he was going to break it he was hitting it so hard with his beak.

I stepped on the gas a little bit to try to get away from him, and he moved out of the way. As I stepped on it harder I heard a loud thunk coming from the back. The damn bird was trying to jump onto the back of my big boxy Element. He was squawking and flapping his wings and pecking the back window as hard as he could. When I stopped, he ran to my side of the car and began pecking at the window again. When I tried to go, he moved to the back and repeated the same bad behavior. I was too afraid to go faster because I didn't want to hurt him. I was too afraid to get out of my car and shoo him away because of the visions of missing eyeballs and bloody stumps. So I rolled down the window a tiny bit to try to reason with him.

"Listen, " I began. "I'm really sorry about the whole Thanksgiving thing. It started a long time before me. Remember that year I tried to go vegetarian and went with a tofu version ? With the gross cashew gravy? Don't I get some points for that?"

He was not impressed.

"Okay..this year...I'm going with chicken. Trust me. You and your kinfolk are safe. You can go pick on someone else now."

He seemed even more agitated than before and tried even harder to stick his sharp beak through the crack in the window. There was only one thing left to say.

"Turkey. I'm really sorry about this, but get the fuck out of my way."

I stepped on the gas as hard as I could, praying that I wasn't running over his skinny little turkey feet and leaving him in a cloud of dirt.

Fifty or so feet later I stopped and looked behind me in the mirror. There he still stood in the middle of the road looking extremely flummoxed, and I could hear his faint gobble in the distance. I picked up my camera and took this really poor shot through the window.

Just as the shutter clicked he started running toward the back of my car again, and he wasn't limping a bit, the little bastard.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tomatoes and Contentment

I don't often go back and read my old journal entries, but sometimes when I'm tired or lazy or in heat or just not wanting to write I find myself flipping the pages back to weeks or months gone by.

I try to always write first thing upon waking before the night visions are gone and the coffee has lifted the morning fog. Sometimes there are pleasant surprises to read like the bizarre dreams described that I now have absolutely no recollection of or the snippets of small moments in time that seemed insignificant but now seem particularly beautiful.

Sometimes there are not so pleasant surprises, like how trite and overemotional I often sound, or how silly the words are now that I've gained some time and perspective on whatever it was that I was struggling with.

Yesterday while sitting in the morning sun I was flipping through some of January's journal pages, letting the memories I had put away stream back in for awhile.

This past winter was unexpectedly difficult in many ways. The harsh weather coupled with the physical as well as mental isolation of the dark months were sometimes almost too much to bear.

I expressed this in pages and pages...and pages....and pages, sometimes writing the same thing over and over in some sort of strange compulsion. Reading the words made me wince and flinch and twitch and want to throw the whole thing in the river. But just as I was about to fling the notebook away in disgust, I turned the page and saw something different. Apparently on January 19 I had become so tired of my own overwrought angst that I had grabbed a marker and scrawled in large red letters,

"All I want this year is heirloom tomatoes and contentment."

That's it. Nothing more. I think I just wanted to stop the whining and sum things up so I could get on with it.

Tomatoes and contentment really doesn't seem like that tall of an order, but somehow they've both been eluding me. And so, it's taken me six months, but today I took matters into my own hands and at least tried to get on with it.

After a few hours with my hot pink rubber superhero boots and a spade,

I'm half-way to having heirloom tomatoes.

And after the manual labor, a sunny afternoon spent with a book and a homemade chocolate chip cookie at my own private swimming hole on the beautiful Bear River, contentment may not be as far off as it seems.