Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving food hangover

Probably the best holiday has come and gone. But it was a good one.

Continued traditions:
1. A fine three part liquid concoction of the Emerald Isle
2. All the usual good foods

New endeavors:
1. Four sweet potato pies (five pounds of sweet potatoes goes a long way)
2. Making thin bread (see pic)

Things missed:
1. Rekishi Ninja's green bean casserole (I only had it once, two years ago. It was that good)
2. A second orange-haired sibling

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Jump" doesn't start with "D"

An unexpected invitation arrived in my voicemail last week. A few fire crew buddies had started a dodgeball team in the local city recreational league. They needed an extra player. I was more than happy to oblige. You see, my last two dodgeball memories are dripping with glory. The scene: typical middle school gymnasium: lacquered plywood bleachers folded against the wall, basketball hoops, lots of white tile, eighth grade. It was the last day of school. The gym teacher let us play three team dodgeball. I was still a scrawny four-foot-something nerd. The bigger kids were putting some serious steam on that playground ball. I suddenly found myself holding that red rubber sphere of destiny in my hand with only a few minutes of class left. I had nothing too loose. I sighted across the gym from me a big, fat, jerk of a kid I had never liked throughout childhood (incidentally he just walked into the coffee shop I am at, I haven't seen him since high school). Some inner strength I didn't know I had welled up and I put every muscle in my body into throwing that ball. A red streak sped across the gym, nearly breaking the sound barrier. The missile beaned the jerk square in the face. My gut jumped with equal parts elation and fear. I had just smoked the biggest kid in the class. In a state of near shock at being hit with a ball moving at a speed only he thought he could produce, he asked "Who threw that?" I said, as nonchalantly as I could, "I did." The whole class looked at me with a newfound respect. Now that's the way to finish off eighth grade.

My second brush with dodgeball glory came as a senior in high school. I had to satisfy my PE requirements as a senior because I had been to busy the previous years with studly things like marching band. Again it was three team dodgeball. I was the last one standing on my team. I managed to avoid all the balls thrown at me until, once again, a big burly kid was the only other player left. At least by this time I had grown a couple feet, but I couldn't be described as anything but a beanpole in stature. The big kid ran straight at me and hurled the ball with all his might at very close proximity. Somehow I caught the ball and put him out. He yelled in astonishment and, being a bit more confident, I raised the ball toward the sky and paraded around the gym.

As you can see I must have some innate dodgeball talent. At least that's what I thought before the big game last Tuesday night. I sucked. I was out quicker than I thought possible. My problem? I was trying to jump over balls thrown at me. Now if you remember your "Five D's of dodgeball" from the movie Dodgeball, players should avoid being hit by employing the Five D's. The D's instruct you to dodge, dive, duck, dip, and dodge. Jump is not a part of the Five D's. Hence my poor performance. Next week I reclaim glory.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Battle of the Generations

Since the holidays are rolling around, conversation among the extended family has inevitably moved toward preparations for various celebrations. My dad and I joined my grandma for dinner on Friday night since my mom was away at a retreat. We talked about the same things we always talk about, and every good Midwestern family should talk about: food, work, and family. Aas it always does this time of year, the conversation turned to that traditional Scandinavian delicacy, lutefisk . Christmas Eve, the day we all had to prepare ourselves to reckon with the galatinous fishy blob, was only a month and a half away. We all knew that lutefisk is cod, or at least it used to be cod. My grandmother and I were sure that the cod was preserved with lye and then dried until it was stiff as a board. It would later be reconstituted with water to soften it and remove the lye, thus making it edible, if not tasty. My dad countered that lutefisk was dried and salted to preserve it, then later reconstituted with lye. The dispute was over the use of lye in the preservation/reconstitution process. We agreed to disagree (as a side note not particularly relevant to the debate, my dad insisted that dried cod, destined to become lutefisk, would be propped up on the sides of small country stores for dogs to pee on. I don't know what to attribute the recurrence of this claim to). As usual, my research confirmed that my dad was right. The lye is used to reconstitute the dried cod and remove the salt, making it edible and somewhat "fresh" looking. There is a whole separate debate on the repulsiveness vs. tastiness of lutefisk, but that will have to wait for another post. One can only handle so much fun in one day.

A lutefisk drying rack.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I bit the bullett

It's official, I'm going to be a bona fide volunteer at Mt. Rushmore. The responsibility of building experience in the NPS sent the life of a ski bum running away with its tail between its legs. In the end, I simply couldn't justify giving up the opportunity to get more experience in the hopes that I will be able to determine my future with the NPS that much sooner. Not that I wasn't sad to see the defeated option retreating, quite the opposite. I will miss that lifestyle for sure and I hope it will be back sometime in the future. Overall, it feels great to have the weight of decision making off of my shoulders, but I'm sure the weight will be replaced by some gloomy days as I ponder the life of a 28 year old living at home. I'm confident though that it is temporary and that I can make RC a decent place to spend a winter saving money. So, I know that hundreds of you out there have burning questions about Mt. Rushmore. Whip those questions into shape and ask me in a couple weeks. I know you can't wait. With that, my belly-aching posts are done. Thank goodness for that.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Zero hour

The culmination of the last five weeks is at hand. I have to make up my mind, no more beating around the bush. The options: 1. Stay in RC, live with my parents, swallow pride, volunteer at Mt. Rushmore, get loads of good NPS experience, become a hermit to save money, learn to play the harmonica. 2. Move back to Bend, earn money, have fun, prepare self to wow NPS hiring officials in the spring.

I've been ruminating on these two options for about three solid weeks. I've made lists, pounded my head against the wall, and played devil's advocate. Both options are about equal with pluses and minuses which is why I can't make up my mind. Neither choice is obviously better than the other one. I have to make up my mind by tomorrow afternoon though, as people in Bend need to know if I'm going to show up. So, if anyone has any magic "Best Decision" potion send it my way because I have a feeling that if I flipped a coin it would land on edge.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

At Last

For anyone who gives two bits, I've put up a Flickr link/picture viewer thing on my blog. Look to the right and down.

I've always wanted to say "two bits." The day is a success.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


KFR's usual astute observations and comments, this time on the process of aging, got me thinking. The idea that stasis becomes an increasingly attractive state of being as one ages seems particularly accurate as do the comments on the growing importance of close friends. I've tried to avoid stasis in my life so far. But to be honest, the idea is gaining steam with me. The ability to put some roots down somewhere and foster those roots for more than a six month period would be nice. It seems to me that the challenge would be to combine stasis with a healthy dose of willingness to step out of one's comfort zone and embrace a little change. As I've been back in RC for about a month now, I've noticed some people around town from my childhood. Some of these people have not changed in the slightest, except for the normal aging process. They dress the same, act the same, and do the same things. That permanence is really quite scary. I can't imagine that there is much excitement in their life (don't get me wrong though, I thoroughly look forward to the day that I sit in the open garage on a riding lawn mower and shake my fist at the neighbor kids). Perhaps they like it that way, and perhaps that will become more and more attractive as I age. For now though, I wish everyone happy aging with a perfect mix of stasis and change.