Noteworthy science podcast anecdotes; musings on how we understand, use (and misuse) the term “educated;” wondering how and why some people can believe in the efficacy of intercessory prayer; a bad pun or two; the last Partridge of the Week, etc. I don’t know if the subjects I had planned to address in today’s post were more profound, but they were certainly more fun, than…this.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” (Vice President Mike Pence, 1-6-21, in a letter to members of Congress. From “Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes,” apnews.com )
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done….” ( #45‘s tweet, after Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged he does not have the power to throw out electoral votes )
* * *
Someone needs to be shot for insurrection.
If #45 had the cojones he accused Pence of lacking, he‘d call a press conference, resign, then blow hisbrains out  on live television. He‘d get the “biggliest ratings, ever!” which is and always has been hisultimate concern.
* * *
“Prevoskhodno! This is all going according to plan.”
* * *
How many times did I read or hear, during the last four years,
“Yeah, I know he (#45) is a dick a horrible person as a person, but I’m voting for him because of ______ (conservative policy).”
As friend MM so succinctly put it,
“Everyone who voted for Trump for tax cuts and judges, you own this.”
* * *
What was it that the anti-Vietnam war protestors chanted as they were beaten by Chicago police in 1968?
“The whole world is watching.”
And they were. And we are.
* * *
Department Of Get HimOut, Now. How Can You Not?
Congress: Impeach. Invoke the 25th amendment – #45is clearly “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Get the SCOTUS to lead a squad of Capitol Police to arrest him. Whatever it takes.
Please, no cries of, “But we only have to hang on another two weeks, for the good of the country…”
For the good of the country, he needs to go. Would *anyone else* who had fomented a riot – committed sedition – *not* be held accountable?
For the good of the country, his legacy, as MH put it, “needs to be appropriate.”
For the good of the country, we cannot let strongman hooliganism subvert or even delay our democratic processes.
For the good of the country, we need to show the world – we need to show ourselves – that we have not become another anarchic banana republic our laws and ideals have actual meaning.
And, if heis allowed to just…leave, do you really want any portion of your tax dollars to go to hispresidential pension? $219,000 a year, for the rest of hisdeplorable life, living among whatever other deplorables can stand to abide with him? 
“A Russian dacha or a North Korean apartment – your choice, Comrade.”
* * *
May we get the kind of honest, decent, compassionate leadership we need; May you-know-who finally get what hedeserves; May circumstances allow moiself to return to “regular programming” next week; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Not to worry; it’d be a small splatter, considering the target.
 Section 4, 25th Amendment to the US Constitution.
 There need to be more footnotes, but the only appropriate footnote regarding this deranged disaster of democracy is an unending torrent of FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK !!!
Department Of Where Is Samuel L. Jackson When You Need Him?
Girls and boys, can you say, “Dinoflagellate Bioluminescence?”I knew you could.
“One of the most spectacular forms of marine bioluminescence (often incorrectly called ‘marine phosphorescence’) is produced by dinoflagellates. In the sea, light emission by these unicellular organisms is mostly seen when cells are mechanically stimulated, at the surface of waves, in breakers, by swimming animals or humans or by vessels.” (Bioluminescence in Dinoflagellates, Tree of Life web project)
Whether or not you can correctly pronounce it, we saw it, on an evening (approx. 8:30 – 10:30p) kayak tour last Sunday, in the waters around the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge . To my knowledge, no one in our group took pictures of the phenomenon itself, as we’d been told cameras are “fairly useless to capture bioluminescence,” which was fine by me. How often can one participate in an outing these days without someone pulling out their smartass phones every five minutes for that all-important documentation? 
One form of the bioluminescence we saw (but did not photograph).
It would have been amusing to have watched someone attempt a selfie with the mullets, a plethora of which inhabited the waters just below our kayaks. It seems they had been misinformed as to our intentions. Perhaps they confused our boats with their predators, the local bottleneck dolphins, which, like many of my WT ancestors,  travel in packs and use cooperative hunting to get themselves a tasty mullet meal.
“Y’all wanna eat my what ?!”
No, not that kind of mullet.
I suppose, to a mullet, 13 kayaks might look like a school of dolphins. Anyway, it was dark; we were not interested in them and would have had no idea there were so many beneath the surface, but whenever we neared a school of mullets they tried to escape from our path by jumping out of/seemingly flying across the water’s surface. Both K and I were slapped in the hands/arms several times by the fleeing flying fishies, and, occasionally, one would land in a kayak. Our guide ended up with at least two mullets joining him in his kayak’s cockpit.
They looked like this…only it was dark and we could barely see them.
One exception to the fine by me nobody took pictures sentiment: – it would have been excellent to have gotten a picture of the snake that MH’s cousin NB and his daughter CB discovered in their (tandem) kayak. We were on our way back, about 8/10 of the way through the trip, when a snake slithered across NB’s lap and then went under his kayak’s seat.  . The guide confirmed NB’s claim (i.e. he saw the snake in NB’s kayak when the boat was in the water), but neither the guide nor NB got a good enough look at the snake to confirm whether it might be a round head, yay/whew! (e.g. a harmless rat snake) or a diamond head , YIKES ! (e.g. a cottonmouth, which is venomous.)
There was a distinct improvement of the pace of CB’s paddling as she and her father, as per the guide’s recommendation, hauled ass made a hasty but dignified return to the launch area, so as to dislodge their inadvertent hitchhiker. After hauling ashore We Who Enjoy Such Things ® (read: the guide, Belle, NB and a few others who are reptile-friendly) carefully checked out NB’s kayak, and espied a hole beneath the seat where the snake could have be hiding, but none of us could not see it or get it to come out.
Had we had more time, we would have taken the Snakes On A Kayak! theme to more extremes (some of us immediately began throwing out ideas for a screenplay), but the night was old and Florida’s state birds (read: mosquitos) were out in force.
* * *
Department Of Reasons For Moiself To Go To Central Florida
“Oh, there’s so much to see and do there – Sea World, Universal Studios Dinosaur World, Legoland, Busch Gardens the new Harry Potter thing....
It was hard not to laugh at the Well-Meaning Person ® speculating as to the reasons for my trip to central Florida last week. Don’t think for a moment that visiting any kind of amusement park – especially one whose name rhymes with Whiz-pee-sand – would be reason enough to get me there.
Family matters. That’s it.
We (MH, son K and daughter Belle and I) did the Family Trip Thing ®, joining MH’s mother and his sister (who respectively live near/in Orlando), and his cousin and her family, to do the final disposition  of the ashes of MH’s father. 
Florida. From what I’ve seen of it over the years…well, I am not…a fan. IMHO, Florida would be tolerable sans Floridians, who have constructed lives where they scurry from one air-conditioned cubicle to another (car to house to car to shopping mall to car to work to church and church and church and … ) to escape the living-in-an-oven-between-sinkholes they’ve decided to call home. The way humans have to modify/assault the environment to make it acceptable to them, sometimes I think the bipeds should just leave en mass  and let the panthers and gators and other wildlife recover/take over.
Fine by me, as long as I can continue to get poolside beverage service.
The likelihood of the gentle summer breeze changing direction and gusting toward an open garage, filling it with the neighborhood detritus, is directly proportional to moiself just having finished sweeping out said garage and attempting to shut the garage door.
* * *
Department Of The Circle Of Life, Backyard Edition
I found this beauty yesterday morning when I was picking berries. She was stretched out underneath one of our blueberry bushes, and looked so peaceful I thought she was resting, or napping.  I brought her inside to show MH and K, and now I don’t know what to do with her, other than return her to Nature ®, with a nod to her simple elegance and a hope that she had a good life (however that would be defined for a butterfly).
* * *
May your Sisyphean tasks at least provide amusement for those around you; May you have your shae of mullets-in-the-cockpit adventures; May you be having a good life, however you define that for your species; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 “If there’s no picture of it, it didn’t really happen,” seems to be some folks’ motto.
 Sorry…couldn’t resist a chance to tweak my heritage. It won’t happen again. Oh, what am I saying – of course it will.
 The guide’s guess was the snake had been in the kayak all along, but we civilians liked the idea of it jumping, with the mullets, and landing in their boat.
 Not sure what to call it, as it was partway between a scattering and an internment.
 Who died from complications of Parkinson’s disease, two and a half years ago.
 You can’t spit – and I have tried – without hitting a church in Florida. Which would be great, if only spit could do some real damage….
Department Of Perhaps It’s For The Best That I Am Not An Artist
Because, were I an artist, this is the summer squash I would paint. Over and over and over. It’s the most interestingly-shaped Romanesco zucchini I’ve ever seen.
* * *
In the WTF is happening to summer time-warp I’ve been experiencing, I’m already mourning the dearth of kayaking opportunities. Correction: the opportunities are there, of course, it’s just that the pesky time-space continuum keeps getting in the way.
I’ve been out twice this summer, both times with MH: once at a new entry point along the Tualatin River, and last Sunday, when we decided to check out the hitherto-unvisited-by-us Lacamas Lake, across the Columbia River in Washington State.
MH inspecting an island in the lake.
I was unimpressed by Sunday’s “venue” – I am a paddling snob purist and detest sharing the waters with stinky, loud, polluting boats inhabited by sedentary slobs motorized craft.  Still, I would have liked Sunday’s paddle trip to have been longer. But when I felt that blast from the past – the long-ago-but-still-familiar sensation of tightness in my bronchial tubes, which takes me back to those dreary days of the 1970s Southern California Smog Alerts – my lungs stopped enjoying the outing.
Sure enough, both MH and I received Air Quality Alerts on our respective AccuWeather apps. The air was icky – sorry to get all science-y on y’all. Translation: the air was brown and hazy from a combination of the record-setting heat wave we’ve been having combined with the smoke from 37 ( !!! ) wildfires burning in the Northwest U.S. and Canada.
A white lily pad bloom – a pleasant if momentary distraction from the brown skies.
Last Sunday, as always with my early morning earworms, apropos of seemingly nothing I awoke with a Mitch Miller tune bouncing between my ears.
My parents both loved Mitch Miller’s music, and had many of his albums and watched his television show. Thus, my early childhood memories include listening to Sing Along With Mitch. But, why now, and why Bell Bottom Trousers ?
On further reflection, the apropos of nothing was probably a big something: Tuesday, August 8, was what would have been the 93rd birthday of my father, Chester Bryan (akak “Chet the Jet”) Parnell. And Mitch Miller, or more specifically, the musical stylings of Miller’s all-male chorus, was one of the few things my father and I ever argued about.
My arguments with Chet were memorable, mostly because there were so few of them. My father adored his “Robbie Doll”  – he and I were of similar temperaments and got along famously. Thus, it took me by surprise that one night, all those years ago, when he teased me about how it wasn’t really possible for me to claim to like both Mitch Miller and The Beatles (this was after he’d run across a quote from Miller dissing rock ‘n roll music).  I responded with the righteous indignation only a grade-schooler can muster, spewing the counter charges I’d heard from Miller’s critics, who accused him of namby-pamby, gimmicky song choices and arrangements…
I can’t remember how I “won” the argument, only that it was obvious that I did. Although, it didn’t take me long to realize that it was also obvious that he’d let me win. My father thought the sun shown out of my ass…and for a time it actually did, thanks to a tragic childhood flashlight accident, the details of which I won’t go into right now. 
* * *
“These are the good times.” Chester Bryan Parnell
* * *
May you be free from Air Quality alerts; May you enjoy these times, which are the good times; May you be able to appreciate the balance of whatever in your life approximates both Mitch Miller and The Beatles; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Which paddlers encounter more frequently on lakes than in rivers.
 Chet’s childhood nickname for his second daughter, the nickname a high school friend would memorialize with a drawing of me as a doll, wearing a bank robber outfit and holding a gun. Yes, I’m talking about you, Ruth Rockliffe.
 “Rock’n’roll is the glorification of monotony. A certain element of juveniles accepts almost any form of it, even the lowest and the most distasteful, because everybody else in their group does.” From the UK Independent’s obituary of Miller.
 Which is, of course, a totally fictitious story, but one he would have loved.
Department Of Not To Be Disrespectful Toward Our Brave Men And Women In Uniform ®
… but every time I walk past The Tacoma Fallen Firefighters Memorial I imagine that the second guy in the sculpture – the one tapping the first guy (pointing the hose) on the shoulder, is calmly but insistently saying, “Dude, put down the hose – nothing’s on fire.”
* * *
I had yet another opportunity to pass by the above pictured sculpture during MH’s and my last minute/last weekend trip to Tacoma. Because when your 20 year old daughter hints and hints and hints again that she’d like to see you, you drop everything and go.
In late August Belle will start her junior year at the University of Puget Sound. She’s staying in Tacoma for the summer, working fulltime as a Zoo Camp Counselor at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. We’ve enjoyed hearing her talk about the camps, and comparing them with her stories from last summer, when she was a camp counselor for the Oregon Zoo. 
When we drove up last Saturday, Belle said she wanted to show us around the zoo. We’ve been to the PDZ & A several times over the past few years when visiting our offspring.  This time we got a brief “backstage” tour, courtesy of Belle, which consisted of being able to step inside one staff-only area: the marine wildlife food preparation facility, which included a huge, walk-in freezer filled floor-to-ceiling with cases of various fish and shellfish (read: more frozen herring  than you can shake a walrus’s tusk at).
As a five year Oregon Zoo volunteer, a biology major, and a volunteer docent at her school’s Natural History Museum, Belle has amassed a good deal of information about fauna and flora. Still, as our daughter led us from exhibit to exhibit, MH and I were impressed by how much she knew about the animals in every habitat .  I guess that’s what happens when you’re leading two camps per day, five days a week – you have to know your stuff.
And then there are the moments you just have to strut your stuff, as when Belle eagerly donned my Convertible Survival Kit ®  when MH and I took her for a spin around town.
* * *
Department Of Screw The Slough
Because his company is weird that way, MH had July 5 off as a vacation day.  What shall we do, he asked? I suggested we take our kayaks out for the first paddle of the season. I wanted to try out one of the entry points along the Columbia River Slough, and so, with our Paddler’s Access Guide in hand we loaded up the car, drove to what looked to be the optimum entry point…and then on to the next, and the next, and the next….
The first entry point was strewn with trash and had other signs of being used as a homeless camping/partying area. It was devoid of bipedal presence save for one Sketchy Looking Man ® sitting on a bench by the camp/party area. We parked our vehicle and walked down to the slough’s boat dock, SLM watching us every step of the way.
The slough was…well, we knew it was a slough, but it was really in full slough mode (low water depth and tepid-to-nonexistent flow). Probably good for winter and spring paddling, but already too late in the season, at this particular entry point (~ 17 miles upstream), for a decent paddle. That, plus the area’s vibe, which was if you-leave-your-car-you-will-return-to-find-it-broken-into, led us into checking out other slough access points downstream.
By the time we’d reached access point four or five MH said, “I suppose we can look at this as a scouting excursion for future trips.” As time went on it became imperative, first for MH and then also moiself, for us to find something resembling a bathroom. Ninety minutes after we’d arrived at the first access point and were still not in the water, I said “Screw the slough.” I knew there were pit stop facilities at Smith and Bybee Lakes Wetlands, so we ditched the last slough entry point  and headed there.
We hiked around the S & B Lake wetlands for an hour before returning to our car and heading off to find lunch. At least the birds seemed happy with the conditions in the boggy-wetlands-which-no-self-respecting-limnologist-would-call-a-lake – we saw an astounding number of Great Egrets wading about in the muck.
It turned out to be a good, low key day, capped off by a delightful evening at downtown Hillsboro’s Tuesday Marketplace. MH and I got dinner and a bottle of wine from the various food venders, found a spot on the courthouse lawn which was close enough to see the music stage but far enough away to be safe from the blaring amps and pissing pugs,  and staked our claim with folding chairs.
I really wish I was joking about this.
It was a perfect evening for being outside – that temperature where you don’t know where your skin ends and the air begins. We enjoyed listening to the classic and original rock provided by Hippie Love Slave, a band that, besides having an awesome name, has a guitarist/singer whose vocal stylings reminded me of Grace Slick. I encountered said vocalist between sets, and shared my opinion with her. She took it as the compliment I intended, and then I complemented us both on being old and wise enough to understand.
Whaddya mean, oldenough to understand?
* * *
Department Of I’ll Be Happy To Explain It To You
In the wake/midst of the Thunderswampfuckton of Crap ® that our country is experiencing (and will, no doubt ,keep on slogging through), in particular the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge followed by the allegedly retaliatory shootings in Dallas, I’ve been hearing and reading about (what I take to be) a misunderstanding of the activist movement known as Black Lives Matter.
The very phrase or concept itself seems to be, IMHO, misconstrued. So, attention, critics – be you well-intended or closeted/overt racists – I’m about to clear it up for y’all.
It’s like this: You don’t walk into an Nike footwear store and criticize them for not carrying dress shoes.
But what about the Florsheims!
I’ll try again.
My city has a veterinary clinic named All About Cats . The clinic’s founding veterinarian had a multiple animal practice (dogs, cats, rodents, reptiles, birds) for over two decades; now he has one specializing in felines. One of the reasons he got the idea of establishing a felines-only clinic was his observation, during his years of practice, that cats were more stressed in a vet clinic by the smell and presence of dogs than vice-versa.
When I first saw the clinic’s sign I did not feel obligated to point out to the clinic’s staff, “I appreciate your intentions, but, All About Cats – life is not all about cats!” But I do know someone who, when they were informed that there was a new veterinary clinic in town that sees only cats, had that kind of reaction:
Oh, yeah, well, what about dogs?
What about budgies, and hamsters – other pets need veterinary care, too!”
All About Cats does not equal And other animals don’t need/aren’t worthy of veterinary care. Establishing a feline-only clinic does not mean you dismiss or dislike other animals. It merely denotes a special area of concern or concentration, for which there is a reason.
Black Lives Matter is a special interest civil rights/activist group. It exists because…well, because there are, unfortunately, fucking good and sad/pathetic reasons for it to exist. Including the fact that when my son K told me, many months ago, about being pulled over by a cop because K’s car had a non-functioning tail light, I had the privilege to not think that K might have been in danger.
I’d had The Talk with both of my offspring about how to behave if, while driving, they were ever pulled over by a cop. Still, it never occurred to me to ask K if he’d been overly respectful to the police officer no matter how the officer had treated him; it did not occur to me to ask/remind K if he’d remembered to move very slowly, always keeping his hands in sight, when the officer asked him to product his license and registration….
* * *
May you have the privilege of assuming your children will be safe; May you be able to enjoy the moments that arise and screw the slough when called for; May you stop and smell the roses (or the frozen herring – whatever is handy); ..and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 What the stories have in common: she remains mystified by the immaturity and moodiness of the younger kids (in particular, five year old boys), who “…don’t listen to what you say and have a meltdown when they spill a cup of water.”
 And herring doesn’t smell any better the colder it is.
 Including their names. I mean, two gorgeous tigers lying side by side (“The one on the right is Kirani and the other is her sister, Dari”), they looked identical, to me.
 Which I keep in our new car, for those top down moments. The kit consists of a choice of three Glamorous Sunglasses ® , a scarf, and a tube of bright red lipstick to complete the ensemble.
 Other holidays which most people get as vacation days, Like MLK day or Memorial Day, he won’t.
Kelly Point Park, which might be a good entry point for future kayaking on the slough but which also had signs of sketchy-ickiness and people-camping-who-shouldn’t-be (including two recently burned-out cars – as in completely torched, parked side by side, — in the parking lot. Yet another omen).
 Yo, dog owners: when you bring your dogs to the various Farmer’s Markets – and you seem to think there is a city ordinance which requires you to do so – please mind where they “go.”
To gush about the mahhhhhhvelous trip MH and I took last week, to the San Juan Islands. The trip I alluded to in last week’s pitiful excuse for a blog post?
I’ll start again.
The Fire Pit I’m Not Using
We did not use the driftwood fire pit on the picturesque, pebbly beach shoreline in front of the Obstruction Pass beach house we rented on Orcas Island. Even in the San Juans, there are burn restrictions due to the Washington state drought. No matter – it made for a nice sitting-and-watching-the-ocean perch.
For the first three nights during our Orcas stay we were fortunate enough to have guests from nearby Bellingham join us at the house. It was great fun to be able to visit with friends JT the 18th, JST, and their delightful daughter LT (who knows way too many 80’s songs for a sixteen year old ).
So, yes, we did not have fires in the fire pit. We did hike and dine and hike and kayak and hike some more…
White strip of paper, taped to Obstruction Pass State Park outhouse near hiking trail, reads “Lovely Ladies Live Here.” 
We also explored Orcas by foot and car and made a day trip to Shaw Island …
MH by the Shaw Island Seedshack – an honor system seed store, in the proverbial middle of nowhere.
and shook our heads (and sometimes, our fists) at all the deer ,  bought some beautiful pottery and checked out the local art. I’d include my favorite island road sign in the latter category:
I want to know, what happened to the m?
* * *
And now, a word about the deer.
No, they’re not cute. They’re pests, and they’re everywhere.
According to several Islanders I queried, soft-hearted civilians as well as animal-rights activists resist efforts to cull the massive amount of deer on the islands. A good portion of land in the San Juans is owned privately, and the limited amount of hunting allowed does jack squat to curb the expanding deer population. For the deer, this is a recipe for disaster: deer compete for limited territory and food resources and have few career opportunities (read: road kill).
Recipe for Disaster
Ingredients: – 2 cups too many deer – 1 tablespoon no deer predators
Steal a six pack of Cheap American beer ® from the drunken hunters that will inevitably be enlisted to thin the deer ranks (the hunters will likely not notice, nor even mind, as they’re schlepping another five cases of PBR in the cabs of their Ford F-150 pickups).
Empty one can of beer into an oven-safe mixing bowl.
Lemme see, so far we have five pictures of someone else’s holiday and one half-assed recipe. Is this is as bad as looking at someone’s vacation slides?
* * *
Where was I? After our week long stay at Orcas we took the ferry to Lopez Island and spent two magical nights with our friends-who-are so-fortunate-as-to-live-there, the gracious and witty J and D C-R. C-R, as in, not to be confused with CCR.
Thanks to the lovely and talented George Rede,  , Oregonian/Oregon Live reporter and Orcas Island lover, for his helpful suggestions for sightseeing and recreation on the island. One of his must-dos included hiking around or kayaking on Mountain Lake (we did both).
Pie guard demon, guarding a car (which had two pies in the passenger’s seat) at Mountain Lake boat launch.
* * *
Dateline: A Tuesday on vacation,  in the later afternoon of the day when we took a day trip to Shaw Island. I passed the time waiting for the return ferry to Orcas Island by scrambling about the rocks near the pier by the ferry terminal. As I climbed back up to the road my tie-dyed tee shirt elicited a thumbs up and commentary from a man passing by (whom I judged to be in his early sixties):
“That’s some great tie dye! I know tie-dye – ‘Summer of love,’ yeah, I was there!”
Instead of the comment I wanted to make – about the sophistication of today’s tie-dyes, where back in the 60s they were basically just color blotches that resembled what scrambled eggs would look like to someone on a bad acid trip – I merely smiled and returned his thumbs up.
“If you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t really there.” Robin Williams
* * *
Department of Wasted Youth
So I return from vacation and discover, while listening to an interview with Lily Tomlin, that the pictures and art I have framed  for all these years – it just pains me to have to type this, but I’ve been doing it wrong. Or rather, it seems I haven’t fully appreciated the practice and have settled for less. You see, I’ve learned, via a blurb on a Fresh Air podcast, that sponsor Framebridge has “reinvented the framing experience.”
Just think of the time I wasted, bordering and encasing cherished family photographs and paintings without thought or purpose, when I could have had a framing experience.
Oh, sure, now they tell me.
Yeah, it fits, but it’s not quite the experience I was hoping for.
* * *
Department of Spoiled Surprises Aka, So I return from vacation, 2.0
…and discover two packages had arrived while we were gone. Having received a shipping notice just before we left for the San Juans, I knew that one of the packages, the one addressed to moiself, was the present I’d ordered for MH’s birthday: a new card game from the twisted creative mind responsible for one of our favorite cartoons, the Oatmeal. I let that sit while MH opened the package addressed to himself. Given the timing of the package’s arrival, I thought it might be a present from his parents (his birthday was yesterday). Instead, it was something he’d ordered for himself, unbeknownst to moiself. It was the same same card game I’d gotten him.
One of the few advantages of having your birthday in proximity to Christmas  is getting multiple gift checks – which is what we aging children get from our parents – in the same proximity. I used last year’s gift $$ to purchase a new kayak earlier this year. An Oru “origami” kayak. Origami – no lie. It folds up, with all of its parts, into its own carrying bag. So simple, or so the promo shot would have you believe, a headless woman wearing vastly impractical water sport footwear can do it blindfolded. 
It’s been fun  learning to unfold and fold it, practicing in the living room. I hadn’t found the time to take it out on the water, until Monday, a day my son K had off from his summer job, and (finally) a day which promised not to be the kind of swelter-crap summer days we’ve been having that make you not want to leave the house for any reason. K & I schlepped Flicka and the Oru kayak into the van and drove to Brown’s Ferry Park, which has a public access boat launch for the Tualatin River.
Flicka  is the name of my other/first kayak, a Perception recreational model (the Swifty line, which I don’t think they make anymore). Flicka has served me well for many years. Now she has a stablemate, of sorts.
Flicka, in her garage loft bed.
I’ve yet to name the Oru kayak. Something will come to me.
Here is what it an Oru kayak looks like, unfolded and put together:
Here’s what mine looks like, drying out upside down in the garage, after its first river outing:
I’d been wondering about the viability of accessible local kayaking venues. What with the drought, I was fairly confident that Smith & Bybee Lakes, never deep waters in even the most wet of winters, would effectively be Smith & Bybee Mud Marshes. And Haag Lake…well, no matter what its water level, it attracts too much of the jet ski/Coors Lite crowd for my taste.  Most of all, I find it boring, paddling-wise.
The Tualatin River has several access points within decent driving distance, but, due to the lack of rainfall and those pesky high temps I wasn’t sure how enjoyably navigable it might be. Would it be deep enough to have portions that could be said to run, smoothly or otherwise? Fortunately, you can check the river’s flow level and current conditions online. Which I did. And so we went.
It turned out to be quite a pleasant outing. We impressed an older kayaking gent walking his dog near the boat launch with our wacky folding kayak. We surprised several great blue herons, one of which was quite protective of its riverbank hunting grounds, and K was “buzzed” by a red tail hawk crossing the river. I got one picture of K approaching a spot on the riverbank where geese and ducks were hanging out on some rocks, a spot where there was also, K called out to me, a “big ass frog.” I got one lousy picture, before my phone’s camera fritzed out on me.
There’s a big ass frog ahead on a rock the riverbank, trust me.
* * *
The Salad I Keep Making
Despite what you may have heard on NPR about the downgrading of the American seafood supply, here in Oregon we’ve great access to locally caught seafood in our local farmer’s markets. Which is why I keep making this crab salad, which is IMHO the perfect use for our West Coast summer bounty (lettuce, fresh white corn, tomatoes, avocadoes, red onion, crab, cilantro-lime-crumbled ancho chili-dressing). This week, I augmented the last of the Dungeness crab we had in the freezer (wrangled by MH earlier this summer during a trip to Manzanita) with Oregon coast halibut.
The latter book is actor Cary Elwes’ memoir of …well, of just what the title says. I enjoyed As You Wish…., despite the prevalence of a certain, how you say, narrative tone noted by both moiself and my friend SCM, a tone which I charitably chose to think of as the author’s younger, star-struck, fanboy-like awe and respect for the movie’s cast and director. 
Like many of the book’s and movie’s aficionadas, I can quote TPB’s memorable lines at appropriate situations (never mind about the inappropriate ones). I loved the book, and I love the movie, fervently…but also wistfully. I wish I could say I love the movie unreservedly.  But I can’t, because I don’t.
I love that the book is filled with fanciful and witty dialogue and action scenes, and I hate that the movie’s fanciful and witty dialogue and action scenes are, with few exceptions, the exclusive province of its male characters. The movie’s main female character – the title role, Princess Buttercup – is essentially, to quote Cary Elwes (who plays Westley, Buttercup’s true love, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts), “the straight man.”
“Buttercup falls in love, loses her love, gets kidnapped, is forced into an arrange marriage, reconnects with her one true love, and then lets him go in order to save his life. It really requires a great deal of emotional range. What it doesn’t require – or at least doesn’t display – is the comedic talent for which The Princess Bride is so well know. Goldman wrote a screenplay that we now know is filled with great, classic funny lines. Unfortunately, few, if any, of those lines are given to Buttercup.” (Cary Elwes, As You Wish)
The male characters run the gamut from a cowardly manipulative royal, a gentle giant with a pea-sized brain and a heart to match his height, a blustering, ego-maniacal assassin, a vengeance-seeking alcoholic (yet expert) swordsman; a dashing and confidently self-effacing pirate…. The female characters are a beautiful princess, a few crowd scene peasants, and a crone.
Ok, so she does get one great line, but she has to share it with Billy Crystal.
‘Tis likely my critique would provoke the movie’s champions to muster the tried but true, TBIABTTM  defense. And, as is often the case, I suspect any criticism with the translation of a story from novel to movie would be cast upon the screenwriter. The trouble with that is, the book’s author  also wrote the movie’s screenplay. Who better to know the essentials of the story, right? His distillation of book-to-movie is indicative of his mindset, that the vital-to-the-story characters he wrote were in a 11-2 male-to-female ratio.
This male-female protagonist discrepancy is, sadly, par for the course in Hollywood. I won’t be getting’ all Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media on you right now – I’m just feeling a bit wistful, wishing that one of my favorite movies was even favorite-er.
I find the show quite entertaining. It appeals to my affinity for silly parlor games…even though I would probably and massively suck at this particular show’s games, what with the emphasis on knowledge of contemporary celebrity names and trivia.
So. Last week we were watching HGN, and one of the contestants, Ms. Ditsy TV Starlet Who Shall Not Be Named,  blew what should have been, IMHO, an easy question that had to do with the mere existence of the Mars Rover. After the answer was revealed, instead of a red-faced, I-can’t-believe-I-missed that! reaction, Ms. Ditsy unabashedly announced that she’d had no idea there was a thing called “a rover on Mars.”
And I just lost my shit.
I was watching a TV game show, populated by (I assume) celebrities chosen not for their SAT scores, IQ tests or knowledge of current events but most likely due to their availability to promo some project they’ve got going on the host network. And yeah, I was already a bit piqued at the sight of a Pretty Young Thing (Ms. Ditsy) who, at her tender age, was already/obviously botoxed…and it’s not like she’s ever going to be in any sort of political and/or scientific policy making position…but she’s a citizen, dadgummit, and she had no idea the Mars Rover project even exists, and worst of all, she displayed no shame at her lack of awareness. THIS IS YOUR FUCKING COUNTRY WHICH IS SPENDING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ON THIS PROJECT, AND EVEN IF IT HAD COST NO MORE THAN YOUR LATEST MANICURE THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC VENTURES OF THE CENTURY.
Don’t you hate it when the caps lock gets stuck?
Yep, I’m pissin’ in the wind, here. But it got me to ruminating on one of my pet peeves: the downside of democracy. Specifically, the fact that, in This Wonderful Country of Ours, ® our votes are not weighted on criteria having to do with civic engagement or grasp of reality.
Thus, PYT Ms. Ditzy Starlet can be totally ignorant of the New Horizons flyby of Pluto; she and others like her can believe that global warming is caused by polar bear farts and/or that the U.S. Civil War was the result of “Northern aggression” against the gallant Southern states and had little or no connection to slavery, and/or that gay marriage makes the baby Jesus cry…and her vote counts the same as mine. Grrrrrr.
So like, Horizons airlines flew that Disney Dog? Ya sure, I knew that.
* * *
May your rivers run deep, may you find movies to love without reservation and game shows to watch without consternation, may your vote always count, and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 If I haven’t already, I’ll get around to complaining about the disadvantages in a future post.
 Without a head, you don’t really need a blindfold, do you?
 If you enjoy judicious use of profanity, as regular readers know I do.
Returning From a Week in DisneyWorld Domination Central Florida Edition.
Content Warning: Central Florida.
Visiting my in-laws, that’s why. MH’s parents used to come out to see us at least once a year, and we’d do the trek to see them every other year or so. But my FIL’s struggles with Parkinson’s Disease, and now lymphoma on top of that (good times!). These and other realities of age have made it difficult for the former intrepid travelers to comfortably and safely do the cross-country trek.
My in-laws are nice people and gracious hosts. We visited the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey and kayaked on the Wekiva river, and we had a great lunch on Sunday with an old friend of MH’s (old as in, from when MH was a teenager) and her family. Still, I loathe Central Florida, or at least the parts of it that are not rivers fit for kayaking and canoeing. But even those (ala Wekiwa Springs) are infested with an odious blend of Hey-Where’s-the-Party Locals & Tourists ®.
My goals for this trip included:
* being able to get a good night’s sleep in the bedroom that used to be MH’s sister’s bedroom, with MH was in the same room, in the same bed;  * avoiding trips to any and all amusement parks. 
The Mechanically Unfriendly, Cardiac Incident-Inducing Skies Aka: Notes to Moiself on the Flight(s) Home
Okay, so our flight from PDX to Phoenix was delayed, first to check “mechanical difficulties” and then, when we were getting ready to go, a passenger seated in first class had a “cardiac incident,” which ended with him being deplaned, as they say. We thought we’d missed our connection, but when we arrived in Phoenix we ran to the gate just as our flight to Orlando was beginning to board, and another “mechanical difficulty” was announced.
On the first leg of our flight back home, there was another call over the plane’s PA system for a medical professional, wich resulted in an elderly women a few rows ahead of us being given oxygen for the rest of the flight and her vitals monitored by a doctor…and now this, our fourth and final flight during this trip, the flight to return us to our beloved PDX, is behing delayed due to mechanical difficulties…and I wouldn’t mind pacing back and forth/sitting for yet another hour-plus delay if the Phoenix airport didn’t have such gawd-awful carpet, ahem.
it was like this, only uglier and dirtier.
Department of It Wasn’t All Bad
When we finally boarded flight #2 (Phoenix to Orlando), as I was schlepping my carryon back to row 2,478 or whatever, I greeted the flight attendants as I always do. As I passed by, one of them one asked me how my day was going. My shrugged reply of Meh –I’m flying to Central Florida apparently amused her enough that she comped me two white wines during beverage service.
Reader’s Digest-y condensed explanation: It has to do with the human body’s internal clock, which has an inborn tendency to run slightly longer than 24 hours. Every day, when you think your body is preoccupied with maintenance tasks like digestion and respiration, shedding skin cells, emitting waste products for which you plan on blaming the dog and so on and so forth, without your conscious knowledge your sneaky body is also “contracting” your internal clock to synchronize with the sun’s 24-hour cycle. Thus, when you travel east and lose time, your body has to cut its natural cycle even further (and when you travel west, your body gets the extra time it instinctively craves).
Anyway, all of this means that we were there long enough for me to feel sleep-deprived and dopey the entire time, and now I get to return to feeling just…my normal sleep-deprived and dopey self.
Still, it’s good to be back. Even if I’m not up for doing much of a post.
* * *
Department of Maybe It’s a Good Thing They Turned Right And We Turned Left
Another creepy thing about Central Florida, for us Happy Heathens and Amiable Apostates, ® is the preponderances of churchiness. You can’t spit (and I have tried) without hitting a church or a church school or signs in people’s yards advertising religious schools or religious bumper stickers and license plates holders…
Also, you can’t get halibut in this FSM-forsaken place, a realization which, as we were driving to yet another grocery store, pissed me off even more than the
WE ARE A CHRISTIAN NATION
window sticker I saw on the car ahead of us — the car I hoped was also grocery store-bound, so I could leave a
CRACK THE CONSTITUTION – WE ARE NOT A THEOCRACY,
WE ARE A SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, YOU SANCTIMONIOUS DUMBFUCK
note on their windshield.
…that you didn’t do that, right?
* * *
Okay, I’m too tired to do a decent post so pretend that right here we have many delightful pictures of Florida alligators, and people who need to be bitten by alligators….
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 Which is one of those inappropriately named “full size” beds. Nothing full about it. We have a king bed at home. I was grumpy about the lodging arrangements…and rescued at the last moment, when MH’s parents rented another bed, yee haw!
 You can’t spit in Central Florida without hitting an amusement park of some kind. From LegoLand to Universal Studios to Gatorland to SeaWorld to Disney’s Epcot, Disney World, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Disney’s Blizzard Beach….
 And not really downtime at that, what with scampering around to fulfill multiple obligations as per moving back home and attaining summer employment .
Make that eat, hike, eat, kayak, eat, hike, eat, go crabbing, kayak, eat, walk along the beach. And did I mention, eat?
This week marked the end of Part I of MH’s and my sabbatical. We spent four plus weeks at Manzanita, Oregon. Disneyland, schmisneyland – Manzanita is, for me, (arguably) The Happiest Place on Earth.
Admiring MH’s mussels, during a beach hike.
My time spent there was invigorating, relaxing, refreshing and reflective. Unfortunately, despite my opening riff on a certain popular soul-searching/self-discovery title of a few years ago, there will be no book proposal arising from my experiences.
Alas, I am not a self-absorbed thirty-something woman seeking spiritual and emotional clarity after a nasty divorce.
( Y’all know the title to which I refer; it rhymes with Bleat, Bray, Shove. In 2006-2008 TSA employees detained any woman over the age of 21 who intended to board an airplane without carrying a copy of that book ).
Nor I am the local literary darling whose own spiritual-journey-memoir-flavor-of-the-month-book is soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture. Nope, I am not a woman devastated by loss who seeks deliverance from her dubious personal choices (promiscuity; drug abuse; the belief that using a symbolic surname as your non de plume confers hipness) via a solo wilderness trek.
I just don’t have that hook – in literary biz terms, some scandal-worthy and/or titillating personal details – which would give me a “promotable platform.” What I do have is a picture of a beautiful place MH and I stopped for lunch during our beach hike from Cannon Beach to Humbug Point. Okay, the tip of MH’s banana is visible in the picture – this is my nod to titillating.
* * *
Department of What Being Married to Me Has Done To Him
I was informing MH of my upcoming schedule in the 1.5 days we have before we travel again, this time, to attend a family wedding. When I told him I planned on treating moiself to a pedicure, MH wondered aloud if that meant my feet would be subject to the ministrations of a pedifile?
Wanna see myBIG toe, little girl?
* * *
Previews of Coming Attractions
While attending the Harvest Festival of Manzanita’s Community Garden, MH and I signed up for a trial paddling session with the Nehalem Bay Tiderunners, a local branch of the Wasabi dragon boat paddling club of Portland. Newbies interested in learning about dragon boats joined the Tiderunner veterans in paddling a dragon boat up and down the Nehalem River one cool/gray Saturday morning. I wish I had a picture of the curious seal whose bobbing head followed the boat during several practice runs.
The dragon boat paddling stroke is different from the kind of paddling one does in the recreational kayaking I have been doing for years. The technique reminded me of when I participated in the Disneyland Employee Canoe Races, all those years ago.
MH and I had so much fun we stayed for a second session. I’d been considering joining a dragon boat team ever since I first saw several teams practicing in the Willamette River, but I’d always had scheduling conflicts with the various teams’ practice schedules (plus, there’s the drive to Portland and back). This year, with the looming sabbatical travel, I didn’t want to make any kind of commitment I could not keep…. but when my schedule calms down, I’ll try to find a boat crew that will accept me. You have been warned.
* * *
Department of Trying To See Who’s Paying Attention
MH alerted me to an upcoming volunteer opportunity at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. We both separately filled out online volunteer application forms for the event. The form’s first blanks requested first name, middle name, and title. The form’s title options consisted of Dr., Jr., Mr., Mrs., Ms., None, Sr.
Harumpf. There was no option for me to choose or write in my preferred title: N.a.D.  Mature person that I am, I accepted the slight. There was, however, a fourth name-related blank: “preferred name, (nickname, etc).” All righty. I typed, Boutros Boutros Ghali.
A couple of days after completing our application forms, MH and I received identically worded emails – except for the salutation –  from the Volunteer Coordinator. Here was mine:
Hi Boutros Boutros Ghali, Thank you for volunteering at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve....
* * *
Oui, c’est vrai, je suis belle.
Sometimes we all need to look at a proud & pretty Parisian Pigeon.
* * *
May your paddling stroke efficiently propel the dragon boat of your heart (sorry; I’ve been refining my treacle-laden wedding toast),  and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 Which stands for, Not a Doctor. You knew that, I know you did.
 His began, Hi _____ (his first name). Can you believe that?
 Which may lead to more footnote-worthy stories in next week’s blog.
A three hawk day, of course. Red tailed hawks: yesterday I saw, three within a five minute span, perched on posts or power poles near fields bordering the countryside roads and Highway 26, near North Plains. One adult, then one juvenile (as in the picture), and then another adult.
When I see an RTH on a post or other perch, with its distinctive, striking plumage, locking its piercing hunting gaze on a field below, I am overwhelmed by a feeling of serenity. Even knowing what is to come (some snake/rodent is about to get grasped and eviscerated), I feel that all is as it should be – if only for a moment – in the world.
And now for all (excuse the hyperbole; make that, a smidgen)
of what is not as it should be:
Express Scripts/Medco Makes Me Sick
As readers of this blog are aware, I have no qualms using Strong Language, ® but in this case initials must suffice as I don’t want to type the same word over and over.
I FFFFFF hate hate hate hate FFFF Express Scripts/Medco. Are they our only option for an Rx plan? I whined to MH. I don’t want ANY more of our money, any more of our business, going to them. I have spent too much time on their “help” line (does this sound familiar?) trying to get through to a real person, cursing on line as the perky robotic voice recording dares to say, “to continue to provide you with the best service possible…” Having to listen to that hornswaggling balderdash (see the last post item), after they have provided absolutely the worstservice possible, is enough to give me a stroke…which may be their intent, and then that’s one less Shiny Happy Customer for them to deal with.
The idea of such incompetency and penny-pinching bureaucracy having the power to get between a doctor and her patient….. You’re an overpaid passel of pill dispensers; do your job. Diagnosis and treatment are between doctor and patient. The doctor writes the prescription, based on her examination of the patient and the minutia of said patient’s history, to which you, Express Scripts/Medco, are not privy. Fill the fucking prescription – same one you have been filling for Over. Two Years. and now decide to dispute?)
“No soup for you…just because”
* * *
And then, there was this.
Because my day wasn’t stressful enough, what with dealing with the medical bureaucracy shit, one of my cats (I have my suspicions as to the perp’s identity) decided to carry on with the theme by leaving me an odiferous fecal deposit, with accompanying skidmark, on my office carpet, by my desk. Apparently, she felt it had been too long since I had awarded anyone the prestigious Golden Turd Trophy. Nova, this turd’s for you.
* * *
Mark your Calendars and Head for the Indies
Vintage Books in Vancouver (WA) will be celebrating Indies First, on Saturday November 30. Indies First is the brain child of author Sherman Alexie, who urged all “book nerds” (authors) to be booksellers for a day and help support independent book stores. You can see the full text of Alexie’s delightful letter here. I’ll be at Vintage, sharing shifts with other authors, (hopefully) selling and signing copies of The Mighty Quinn and recommending other favorite reads. My shift is from 12 – 1 pm. Be there or be…you know.
* * *
From the masthead of Oregon Coast magazine, in a section that lists bio notes for the current issue’s authors and photographers:
“____ is a travel and adventure writer based out of Portland. When she is not writing she is fishing, looking for whales, life-coaching, helping businesses succeed online, making sculptures, teaching yoga, and being a professional Viking.”
Okay. How do you get such a résumé? And am I to believe that she gets paid to be a Viking…of some sort?
I could do that. Kinda sorta: Robyn Parnell is a travel and adventure-deprived writer based out of Hillsboro. When she is not writing she is looking for fish  (but not whales), pestering life-coaching (her daughter), and she, too, helps businesses succeed online. 
Or, maybe not. There was another one that caught my attention:
“_____ explores Oregon from her home in North Bend. An Oregonian since 1982, she writes for a living, and spends the rest of her time biking, canoeing, making things, and playing Irish music.”
Reading these things, I’m both inspired and befuddled. And maybe just a teense bit jealous. I want a jazzier résumé.
Robyn Parnell explores Oregon from her home in Manzanita (well, in her dreams). An Oregonian since 1991, she writes for a mere pittance, and spends the rest of her time (thinking she should do more) biking, kayaking, making dinner, and playing Dropkick Murphys holiday videos.
* * *
Something to Celebrate
The World Wildlife Fund in cahoots with Vietnamese government’s Forest Protection Department has discovered evidence that should warm the cockles of your heart. An animal scientists thought might be extinct, one of the rarest and most threatened mammals on Earth,  is still alive. A camera trap placed in a remote area of the Central Annamite mountains of Vietnam captured the images of a Saola, or “Asian unicorn.” The WWF’s pictures are grainy/paparazzi quality; here is one from many years ago, when a Saola had time for a stylist consultation before the photo shoot.
* * *
Speaking of cockle warming: Let us now praise the Idiosyncratic Origin of Inane but Interesting Idioms
In another life I might have happily been a linguist, specializing in the etymology of whimsical words and expressions.
Warm the cockles of your heart. Why is the image of a bivalve mollusk used to invoke feelings of inspiration or nostalgia?
Someone said to skedaddlewhen they are quickly fleeing something. If you want to quickly distance yourself from an aimless scribble, do you skedoodle?
Why does ragamuffinrefer to a disheveled person, and not a Hindu musical quick bread?
And then, there is cattywampus. Yes, there is. But, why? Sometimes it’s more fun to speculate than to know for certain. I could google their origins, but that would take all the mystery out of life.
May the warmth of your heart-cockles never fall below room temperature,  and may cattywampus-worthy hijinks ensue.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.