Thursday, October 06, 2016

Working Out My Mind and Body

I have reacquainted myself with the ol' neighborhood 24 hour facility lately. It was either that or take up the lucrative offer to be Draper's "Sumo of the Year." And while the actual workout is rather refreshing (blackouts and dizziness notwithstanding), I have found another unexpected challenge each time I blaze my early morning trail to the Stair Masters.

Turns out I have a difficult time remembering everything I need to take with me for the rest of my day. Almost without exception something is left behind. I then map out in my head how to adapt and improvise. As an example, I forgot dark socks. Since I go to work directly after my workout, I think how to get around my newly found deficit. In the case of the dark socks, I had to make a trip to Mr Mac for three new pair (Gold Toe Specials).

I have also forgot a towel (drip dry), brush (finger comb), hair treatment (Gene Wilder hair day), and a belt (don't try running for the train). This week was special. I forgot my pants. That's a deal killer. I had them all laid out the night before, and left them in their designated spot. I didn't realize it until after returning from a 10 minute steam.  I had to wear my regular shirt with my now moist gym trunks back home.

I didn't used to have this problem. I doesn't help that I have to plan out for the whole day, but it shouldn't be that hard to do. Hopefully it will get better as I go along. That's ok if it doesn't. At least I will be off of the Sumo radar. Ok then.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Year of the Watermelon (Not)!

The summer of 2015 will go down in my book as a lousy year for watermelons. I've noticed a gradual decline in the quality of the watermelons these past few years, but this year the watermelon quality graph dropped off the edge of the ol' picnic table.

The best melon this year was the first one we tried from Costco in early May. At that point I was thinking, "This is going to be a banner year for the melon," but I was sorely mistaken. Emma picked out that initiatory orb, and perhaps, in retrospect, I should have stuck with that strategy throughout. But alas, I have been consumed with sampling new strategies in the months that have followed with dismal results: Thumping them for a "solid" feel, thumping them for a "hollow" feel, looking for multiple bee stings, looking for a large yellow spot on the bottom, and the ever popular - looking for a large stem footprint with sugar oozing out of the end.

Maybe I was employing the wrong strategy at the wrong time of the year (as my failures at fishing would suggest). My theory is this: the seedless watermelon has been cross-breeded to the point of worthlessness. They can breed for texture, but it louses up the color most of the time, and with the sweetness all of the time. Many a time my initial cut has revealed a pale pink center that makes it difficult to distinguish the meat from the rind.

Seeded melons are sweeter as a whole, but the selection is smaller, and the prices are always higher, sometimes double the price of the seedless. I refuse to pay $11.50 for a 24 lb. hernia buster whose only useful purpose would be for hollow-point target practice (Day of the Jackal reference- original).

I am also of the opinion that if we lived closer to Texas, my days of melon envy would be minimized. We got great Texas melons in Tennessee years back - unless the watermelon gene-pool hooligans have invaded the great state of Texas as well. Lets hope not.

Anyway, that's my take on the situation, and I'm sticking to it. The melon in the picture above was from my last melon of the year, and it was O.K. I need to come up with something different to eat while sitting on my front porch next summer....maybe yucca.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Relaxing Journey

Where, you may ask, the hell have we been? I just noted that it has been a year and two days since our last post. I think the only people now who visit our blog are the weirdos from eastern Europe who use our site to advertise I'm not sure what. I wonder who they are expecting to reach with their comments, as they are automatically deleted before they show up on the blog. The only reason I know of their existence is the fact that we receive emails which say they have posted a comment.

The Giants started strong and have faded, so I suppose I will mention a few of the highlights of our summer excursion to Omaha, Nebraska. On the Amtrak. On the California Zephyr.

It was beauty. I wouldn't recommend this option for anyone who pops a blood vessel in their forehead when their itinerary has a kink. When traveling by rail, kinks will be had. There were a few delays along the way (six hours on the outbound leg), but when on the Amtrak that is to be expected. For the most part, everybody on the train was civil and had been resigned to the fact that that is the way this particular cookie crumbles. 

This was the first train trip I had taken for probably over 40 years, when our family visited Aunt Marge in California. The fact that I can remember that trip only confirms the fact that it was memorable, and with any luck Emma will also keep memories of this trip long into her future. The purpose of this viaje was to visit my sister and brother-in-law, who reside in the tourist mecca that is Omaha. It rained a bit while we were there, but being from a desert environment, it was a splendid change of scenery. 

A view of somewhere west of Denver

Breakfasting "Zephyr" style

Losing big with a couple of card sharks in Eastern Utah

Smoke break's over

A splendid spread Chez McKinlay

A relaxed trio

We were go, go, going all of the time. We ate at a place featured on Triple D, visited the air and space museum, a great bar-b-que joint (don't order the chicken tortilla soup), the Winter Quarters visitors center and Omaha LDS Temple, the wildlife reserve, and the Durham train museum. Thanks to Aunt Laurie, Uncle Mark, cousin Morgan and Moose the wonder dog for opening their home to us.

Even with the delays, it was well worth the effort. We were able to see new territory in a relaxed environment. Emma fell asleep in her lounge chair next to Ryan, a retired postal worker from Nebraska who plugged in his C-pap machine and zonked out. They were both dead to the world. 

A great trip with great memories. Beauty. Ok then.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Our Oregon Outing, Part 2

Last Sunday after church, Tom and Julie drove us to the International Rose Test Gardens in Portland.  So very beautiful.  We loved wandering around (with a couple hundred other people) admiring the amazing variety of roses.

And they smelled so good, though you had to watch out for bees inside.  

Emma had a blast taking dozens of pictures with our little digital camera, including the one below (Tom needs his own electronic device).  

There was a beautiful Ethiopian wedding party at the garden that afternoon.  

After the rose gardens we drove around the loop in Washington Park a couple times (so many shades of green, and such fresh, soft air), then headed home and Julie & Tom made us a scrumptious dinner (T-bone steaks & bakers, 4-bean salad, blueberry crisp with Marionberry Pie ice cream; sigh).

On Monday morning, we drove to Newport and visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium (and did not take pictures). Emma was more interested in going to the beach.  We drove up the coast to Lincoln City and found a pretty beach just a short walk from our motel.

Emma was thrilled to see the ocean and made a beeline for the waves as soon as we crested a sand dune and saw the Pacific.  The water was fr-r-r-eeezing, but otherwise the weather was sunny and lovely and Emma enjoyed prancing in the surf in her little life jacket that she got when she was about 3 (I told her she wasn't going to need it, but I guess you can't be too careful in them waves).  


Had dinner at a good place called Kyllo's in Lincoln City that night.  (Julie says we ate there in 1991 during a Hiatt family reunion...and Dad had a big bucket of clams.  Do you remember this, Dad?)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Oregon Outing, Part 1

We just got back from a week in Oregon and Washington.  We left last Friday and drove to Baker City, Oregon.  Everything looked so yellow and dry out the window.  Somewhere in Idaho there were some fires on the horizon that contributed to this impressive cloud formation.  Otherwise, it was pretty much yeller yeller yeller the whole trip.  

In Baker we stayed at a cool hotel called the Geiser Grand.  I wanted to do a blog post that night called "Us Geiser in Baker City" (or maybe it should be "We Geiser in Baker City"), but couldn't get Blogger to cooperate.  Anyway, the Geiser Grand was originally built in 1889, fell into disrepair in the 1960s, and was restored to its original glory with funds provided by a private donor, reopening in 1998.  It is charming and fraught with character.  However, apparently Baker has been experiencing problems with its public water supply (animal waste creeping into it....Joe overheard "something about a goat") and hundreds of people have had diarrhea from drinking the local wa-wa this summer.  They were experiencing a fresh outbreak of germy H20 the day we checked in and told us not to drink water from the faucet or brush our teeth with it, etc.  So we didn't.  And we remain diarrhea free as of this writing.  That was the only fly in the ointment at the Geiser Grand.  And we blame the goat(s), not the Geiser.  

The venerable Geiser Grand

This is the view from the second floor.  You can look down into the dining room, where we dined that evening.  (They brought us glasses of water and Joe said, "Where did the water come from?"   "We boiled it," the waitress said.  I did not partake. It did not sound refreshing to drink boiled water, even if it was now icy and even if it had been previously goat-waste free.)  But dinner was tasty and the entire dining experience was very civilized.   After dinner we went to Geiser Pollman Park nearby.  It had neat old playground equipment, like this merry-go-round.

We also saw a skinny guy pulling himself up the swing set pole.  I was impressed.  I asked if he'd do it again while I took a movie.  He obliged, but looked pained after the second time around.  He said it makes his stomach sore.  I'm not surprised.  Now his feat is documented on YouTube; I hope he runs across himself one day.  

The next day we drove to Portland and met up with Aunt Julie and Uncle Tom.  We met them downtown at the Portland Saturday Market, an outdoor artsy/craftsy fair attended by a wide cross-section of fascinating humanity.  I told Emma that the best way to describe downtown Portland folks is "scruffy."  I told her "You look around and tell me if that's not true."  Emma took the picture below herself.  

As we looked around, we saw a long line of people outside a nearby shop called Voodoo Doughnuts.  

I asked one lady in line what the big attraction was, and she said that the doughnuts at Voodoo are so delicious that people happily wait in line 45 minutes or more to buy a dozen fresh doughnuts.  We weren't interested in standing in line, but I asked a young couple who had just bought a boxful if they'd sell us one for five bucks.  He told me I could have one for nuthin' and to "pay it forward"  (I'll look for an opportunity to do that.)  We chose a modest unfrosted blueberry cake doughnut.  It was pretty good but I'm glad I didn't pay five dollars for it.  Here's what some of the other doughnuts looked like.  Pretty fancy.

We sat out on a picnic table while we waited for Julie and Tom to join us.  We were a few feet away from Dan and Louis' Oyster Bar, which I remember going to a couple times in my youth.  We bought a few oysters on the half shell, just 'cause we could.  

I think oysters on the half shell are overrated.  They're way too expensive.  And apparently the correct way to eat them is just to let them slide down your throat, and what's so great about that?  So I chewed on mine to get the full oyster flavor, and it's just this little bit of salty sea-watery chewiness for $2.45 cents per oyster.  What am I missing?

Here are a few more photos of Saturday Market:

You could see the big pink US Bancorp Tower down the street.  I used to work on the 16th Floor at Travelers Insurance (and one day after I'd taken a really long nap on a Sunday afternoon in late spring 1984 I woke up in the early evening and thought I had slept all night and that it was Monday morning and so I took a shower and got ready for work.  I went outside -- the light looked so pretty, and different somehow -- and waited for my bus, which didn't come, so I walked all the way down West Burnside to get to work, noting that there were people in the Taco Time, which I thought was odd at that hour of the morning.  Traffic also seemed very light.  I tried to open a door at the US Bancorp Tower, but it was locked, so I said to a guy walking by, "What is going ON this morning?  The buses aren't running and this building is locked," and he looked at me and said, "It's night."   I told Uncle Tom this story and he said, "Bad day to be a blonde.")

There was some dude at Saturday Market who looks enough like Johnny Depp that he's able to dress up like Jack Sparrow and supplement his income by posing with tourists.  He wanted us to hold a bottle of rum in the picture.  Well, actually he wanted Emma to hold the bottle of rum.  Aunt Julie told him we don't drink.  He said, "Well, pretend it's iced tea."  "Well, we don't drink iced tea, either."  Then we told him we were visiting from Utah.  "Oh, that explains it," he said.  

So then we drove across the bridge to Julie and Tom's house in Vancouver, WA,  and spent a lovely evening with them.  They were so very hospitable and had stocked up on Emma's favorite snacks and put cute signs on our bedroom doors, etc.  We had dinner at Jazzy John's barbecue nearby, then came home and stayed up late chatting.  So fun to be at their home.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Emma's Big Month

Emma's big month was last month, April.  She's having a medium month this month, what with the school year wrapping up and the attendant hoopla, but last month was:

1.  8th Birthday
2.  Baptism

Big.  Here's a pictorial recap

Emma's Birthday was April 12
 Which was a Friday (a great day for a birthday).  She had a neighborhood friend party at Color Me Mine, where the kids got to pick out their own ceramic tchotchke to paint

The store kept the figurines for a few days and fired them, then we picked them up a week later, nicely glazed and glossy, and delivered them to the party goers
 April 20 was Baptism Day.  Two of Emma's pals, Jacqui and Ashlyn, were baptized that day, too.  The three girls sang a lovely number together ("I Come to the Water"). It was a wonderful day for our family.  And don't you think Emma has that "just baptized" look in her eyes in the photo below?
Many of our dear family members and friends joined us 
Including Grandbaby Mac (who I don't believe could be cuter) 

Monday, December 31, 2012

12 Photos and a Video

It was absolutely delightful to have my sister Julie, her husband Tom, and their family in town for Christmas (including three children, their spouses,  and two grandbabies:  Ben/Jax/Avery, Julia/Chris/Claire, and Russell/Megan).   We also celebrated with Emma's Grandma & Grandpa Hiatt, Aunt Barbie & Uncle Dennis, cousin Amy and her three adorables, cousins Tony and Cindy and their six adorables, and Louie/Shanna, Janie, and Andy/Kat/Baby Mac.  Not everybody was in the same place at the same time, but a couple times we got pretty close.
It was a fun fest, lemme tell you.  Amy's husband Dave caught sick and was unable to join in.  We were sorry we didn't get to see him, too!  We probably won't be celebrating with this big a group again any time soon -- families are growing and many are so far away.  But we have wonderful memories of 
Christmas 2012.    

Homey dinner on December 23rd.  Joey made pork enchiladas (handrolled by Russell and Emma) and homemade refritos.  We also enjoyed Christmas tamales, Aunt Barbie salad, and chips'n'guac.  And assorted storebought brownies.  
This photo won't enlarge for some reason, but the others do.

Denny and Aunt Julie on Christmas Eve Day.  Julie is making her traditional "tree" (cinnamon roll dough shaped into Christmas tree, then frosted after baking on Christmas morning and decorated with walnuts, maraschino cherries and red & green sprinkles.  It's sticky and scrumptious).  Or she could also be making her famous cheeseball, made with cream cheese, sharp cheddar and blue cheese, etc., 
all in one glorious glob.  Cheeeez, it's good.

 Christmas Eve dessert following delicious Christmas Eve dinner that Aunt Barbie packed up and brought over to our house.  Yay Barbie!  Ham, funeral potatoes, various salads, washed down by Christmas ginger ale.  Followed by Costco cake and marionberry pie ice cream elegantly served in paper bowls.
 Tom, Russell and Ben

A portion of the nativity reenactment (directed, with great insight and nuance, by Aunt Barbie) 
 Lauren (donkey), Macy (Mary), and Eli (Joseph).

Our ambivalent angel

Cindy, Eli, Tired Tony, and Calvin J

Grandniece Avery

Grandpa reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," with feeling, and a mustache, 
to conclude Christmas Eve festivities

And then there was Christmas Morn, a flurry of tissue paper and exclamations.  
Below is an Angry Bird with an attitude.  A dangerous combination.

Baby Mac pondered a red Solo cup

And numbers of the red sweater group increased
Megan, Denny, Grandma, Julia, Julie, Barbie, Jax

And later in the day Uncle Tom patiently supervised Emma's efforts with her new Easy Bake (which replaced the old Easy Bake of a couple years ago, which Mama broke after leaving the plastic spatula inserted into the baking cavity and making the whole thing seize up into one gelatinous mess). 

And to conclude, Violins in the Round on Christmas Eve.  Aunt Barbie accompanying.  Lauren, Jane Marie, Reagan (invisible but not inaudible), Denny and Emma on strings.