Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Haven't Gotten into Too Much Trouble

I love my family.

Last night, Kirsten and I went to the welcome dinner for my cousin Andy's wedding. This is the first time I have seen him in 12 years. His brother Chip I haven't seen since my wedding 17 years ago. We got to see several others that I've seen more recently, but it was nice to get to catch up and hear what everyone has been up to.

The wedding is this afternoon. After running non-stop for three days, Kirsten and I have decided to take it easy for today. We are hanging out in the hotel room and only leaving to get food. Since we walked all over Downtown Portland yesterday, spent 8 hours in the car driving along the coast the day before, and checking out all the little shops on our first day, we are tired and out feet are sore. We will hit the town again tomorrow.

Here are some of the interesting things I have found:

Like Illinois, there are smoking laws here. People are not permitted to smoke within 10 feet of the entrance to a business.

These signs are beside every entrance to the hotel and are accompanied by an ashtray. However, they are right next to the door. Smoking is not allowed with 10 feet, but you have to walk up to the door that you are not permitted to approach in order to use the ashtray. Is it just me or does this seem like entrapment?

I could never be a street performer.
I don't have the wardrobe for it.

Despite the repeated warnings, Kirsten got too close
to one of the carnivorous trees. I almost lost her.
Don't tell her mother.

I never even learned her name.
After preventing a man from tripping and tumbling off the side of the mountain he gave me his wife. It took me less than thirty minutes to discover why he was so eager to get rid of her. I later traded her to a Japanese family to repay them for knocking their lunch and youngest child off the ledge.

They were not satisfied initially, but I explained that it was the law in America. Since I had replaced the lost child with another person they could not prosecute. I then bought them all corn dogs despite the fact that I had only cost them one lunch. I'm generous like that.


I'm looking for my contact lens.

Gotta love Oregon!


Friday, June 29, 2012

Busy in Portland

I have been in Portland for three days now. I had intended to write a post each day about some of the things Kirsten and I did that day, but it just hasn't worked out that way. There are several reasons for this.
  1. The Wi-Fi connection in the hotel sucks.
  2. We get in late every night. We like to party. What can I say?
  3. I am exhausted when I get back.
  4. My room smells like cinnamon. I don't know how that keeps me from writing, but it is peculiar.
I don't know how many posts will get written before we return home on July 3, but there will be stories to tell. Whether, they are told before or after I return home still remains to be seen.

Here are a few highlights. These are without details since I am sitting in a McDonald's taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi and trying to ignore the angry Korean staring at me to vacate his favorite table.

 
Apparently, you can get anywhere in the world from Portland. This is different than my home town. Where I am from, when someone asks me for directions, I usually tell them, "Sorry, you can't get there from here. Try the other side of town."

We climbed to the top of Multnomah Falls. Six hundred eleven feet to the top. The trail is over a mile long to get there and Kirsten decided to leave her shoes in the car so she could play in the water at the bottom. Halfway up the rough asphalt trail, she came to regret that decision.

I got in a fight with a parking attendant, met Jen of "Jen" e sais quoi, ate a lot of vegan food, had a sea salt ice cream cone, fed some hipsters, saw the Pacific Ocean, saw several celebrity look-a-likes, ventured into Washington state and got hopelessly lost near the port in Portland. We were close to killing a vagrant for food, but we found our way out.

Sorry for the brief post, but I will make up for it later with more details.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yankee Soldiers in Portsmouth

Writer's block sucks.

I am writing this post because I've not posted much this month. For the last two months I've averaged a post about every other day. This will only be my 5th post for this month, if you can count yesterday as an actual post.

It's not like I haven't had anything going on to write about. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I've been out of my house doing actual stuff more than usual. There is plenty to write about, but every time I sit down to do it, nothing comes out.

My theory is that now that summer is here I'm out doing more and have trouble concentrating when I sit down at my computer. I just came from some event and will be running out to another soon. My mind is on the things I've been doing or are about to do. The months when I was doing lots of writing were when I was in school and I was sitting at my computer all day anyway. Knowing I was doing nothing else for months may have been my motivation to write.

If this is true, then I may have trouble writing during the summer, but will build up enough things to write about that I should have plenty of material to carry me through the winter. I don't really know. It's just a theory.

To make some attempt at this post, I will try to cover some of the things I've been up to.

Adam and I have done a lot of shows. Summer is here and the DJ business is picking up. We've played for the local Chamber of Commerce, several bars and have done a lot of weddings. The weddings are my favorite. I have decided to start taking my camera to get pictures of what happens once the liquor has been flowing for a few hours. Videotaping two middle aged fat guys act out Michael Jackson's Beat It would give my blog traffic for months. At that same wedding, when we played LMFAO's Sexy and I Know It about a dozen pre-teens ran out on the dance floor and did a choreographed dance routine complete with the guy that has the box on his head. It was cute until it got to the wiggle wiggle part. Then, it was a little disturbing to watch. Most those kids were twelve. Who taught them to do that?

I have spent a significant amount of time with Red. Things are going very well with us, but it gets a little difficult sometimes trying to decide what to share with our readers and what to keep private. Last weekend, we attended a wedding in New Hampshire and had a very difficult time traveling there. For the full story of our adventure with United Airlines and our missed flight click here for my post at Studio 30 Plus.

They were practicing for something and did not like
my presence.  I hid in the trees to get more pictures.

They found me.
Despite the troubles getting there, the trip was great. I was chased off by some Civil War soldiers in Portsmouth who did not appreciate having their pictures taken. Maybe they didn't know what a camera was.

The 'general' actually said, "I order you off this property."

I reminded him that he wasn't a real general, so didn't have any real authority, but the look in his eyes when he started toward me made me stop questioning and leave. Well, I sort of left. Being proud of my Southern heritage (except for that unfortunate slave fiasco), I decided to keep snapping pictures. The general soon discovered me and exercised his supposed authority again.

Since the city was founded in 1623, they consider themselves to be rather historic. Due to all the threatened gun play, I decided to venture into a more modern part of the city. I wandered through many unique shops and found a LIFE IS GOOD merchandise store. I had never heard of this brand so I checked it out. It is mostly clothing and other accessories depicting cartoon likenesses of life's good things. Playing frisbee. Grandma's cooking. A comfortable bed. Falling in love. A beautiful song. You get the picture.

A few blocks later I found another store.

This store sold a very similar line of products,
only a little bit different.
That evening, I searched for crabs on the beach with one of the other bridesmaids, Red and I took a harbor cruise, we ate incredibly expensive meals for the next two days and met a lot of great people. I hated to have to fly back and bring the weekend to an end.



Well, this post just took on a life of it's own once I started typing. I've heard the best cure for writer's block is to write and it seems to have worked in this case. I meant to write about the things that have been keeping me busy this summer, but it looks like this post ended up being mostly about the past weekend. I don't feel like going back to edit it, so it is going to stay as is. I have to get to another show with Adam tonight anyway.

On Tuesday, I am hopping a plane with my daughter to head to Portland, Oregon for my cousin's wedding. We are staying there for an entire week, so we will have plenty of time to see the city and hopefully get into a little bit of trouble. We will be meeting up with Jen of "Jen" e sais quoi to help us find the hot spots. Plus, she has promised my daughter some quality vintage clothes shopping, so expect me to be wandering off on my own while they do their girl stuff. I hate shopping.

I'm taking my laptop with me, so I will try to keep you posted  on what we are up to.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Featured Writer post at STUDIO30PLUS

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed a storm of angry tweets about United Airlines last weekend. I attended a wedding in New Hampshire, but was late getting to the rehearsal because of the stupidity and unnecessary rudeness of their employees.

For the full story of what happened you will have to read my post at Studio30Plus. I am the Featured Writer there today and my post detailing the nightmare of trying to get to New Hampshire can be read by following this link:

http://studio30plus.com/profiles/blogs/covered-wagon-trains-had-it-easier

Tonight or tomorrow, I will post about the rest of the weekend. The weekend was great. It was just the trip getting there that made me madder than a flasher at a nudist colony.

Hop on over to Studio30Plus to read my post and check out the site. It is an online community for writers. If you are a blogger, please consider joining. It's great for networking and finding other talented writers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Awards Fairy Strikes Again

This week is being pleasantly spent terrorizing children at VBS. I am the photographer/video/sound/tech guy, which means I don't have to do any teaching, but have pictures and video to shoot and I run all the technical do-dads. It's great fun. I bounce into a room in the middle of a lesson, scare the kids to get the shot I want and then leave so the teacher can try to regain control of the class.

Last night was Day 2 of a five day event and when I returned home with a big smile on my face from the number of kids I made cry, I saw this on my front door.



The smile left my face faster than Martin Short's when talking with Kathy Lee Gifford. This couldn't be good. Any time the Awards Fairy visited me, it never ends well.

Links to past visits from him:
The Awards Fairy Came By
Return of the Awards Fairy
Awards Fairy Detox

I jumped out of my van and dashed to the door, then ran back to the van to put it into park. I get a little ahead of myself sometimes. Upon reaching the door again, I was afraid to see what was inside. I turned the knob and peered into my living room. Nothing seemed to be out of place. I stepped inside and scanned the room. It looked good.

Nothing seemed to be missing from the bedrooms or the kitchen. The only thing I could find was an empty prescription bottle on my kitchen table. He had taken the Vicoden the doctor had prescribed. I hadn't needed any for the last couple of weeks, but it was nice to know it was there in case I had a flair up.

I stepped back outside to call the police. While I was waiting, I decided I might as well see what the award was for.

It looked as though I had won this award twice. Once from the peanut butter-loving Aussie stand up comedian Michael D. Agostino of The World as I See It and once from the hammock-loving Southerner Carrie Ryan of The Slow-Dripped Life. Thank you to both of you. I do appreciate the thought behind it. It's not your fault if the delivery system always seems to find a way to screw me.

As with past awards, this one had some rules.
  1. Link back to the bloggers that gave me the award. - CHECK
  2. Answer 7 questions about myself. - I can do that. Me is my favorite topic.
  3. Provide 10 random factoids about myself - Once again, ME!!!
  4. Pass the award to 7 other deserving bloggers. - This one doesn't really concentrate on me, but I will comply.
The Questions:

1: What's your favourite song?
I don't know that I have a favorite song. I have a wide music taste and what I listen to changes all the time. Lately I have had this one stuck in my head.
Bodies by Drowning Pool


2: What's your favorite dessert?
I am not really a dessert person. I would much prefer to have seconds of the main course than reach for cake or pie. Although, Red of Doesn't Speak Klingon regularly brings me cookies that are a big hit. We recently had chocolate chip peanut butter and put Nutella on them. Very good.
 3: What do you do when you're upset?
Usually nothing. Ninety percent of the things we get upset about are not really of any consequence. I have no problem letting most things go. In the rare occasions that I feel something has to be said, I say it and then I am done.
4: Which is your favourite pet?
I only have one. Dr Finklerstein the python.
5: White bread or whole meal?
I am not a fan of white bread. I find it to be too dry.
6: What's your biggest fear?
Luckily, it's not something that someone can run up and scare me with. I fear growing older and not being able to take care of myself. I don't want to be broke and stuck in a nursing home.
7: What's your attitude most of the time?
Anyone that knows me can testify that I am in a very good mood almost all of the time. I laugh all day and rarely get down about things.


10 RANDOM FACTOIDS ABOUT MYSELF:

Christian tells it like it is.
Due to previous awards and the 100 random facts about myself that I recently came up with for my hundredth post, I have deferred these facts to my son Christian. Here are 10 facts about me according to my son.
  1.  Every pair of jeans my dad owns are frayed at the bottom and around the pockets.
  2. He has a Jesus tattoo on his right shoulder. Jesus appears to be Asian. I don't know why.
  3. Dad talks to himself. A LOT! No one even has to be in the room.
  4. Dad took me to get my first tattoo.
  5. He has an obsession with the color red. Red vehicle, Red States, red meat and even a girl named Red.
  6. He always buys the same kind of bologna: the cheapest.
  7. My dad and I once broke into a neighbor's house just to steal the pepperonis off all their frozen pizzas.
  8. He won't use sticks of lip balm. He's a CARMEX guy.
  9. When I was 8 years old, my dad bet me $5.00 I couldn't sit through the entire movie Nightmare on Elm Street. I made five dollars that night and had nightmares for the next month. Dad said the cost of sleeping with him and mom was ten dollars.
  10. Dad used to hide the batteries to all my electronic toys so I couldn't play with them.



Seven Bloggers to Pass Award on to:
  1. That is Priceless - Arts Greatest Masterpieces Made Slightly Funnier - This is not a written blog. You will have to check it out to see how it works. I love it.
  2. Odd but Nice - The funniest blog you've never read
  3. Quirkyloon - Loonatic for life
  4. Lucy at A Little Lucidity
  5. Mental Poo - Challenge him to a game of Words with Friends
  6. Lady Goo Goo Gaga - This is not her mother's motherhood
  7. My Drunk Kitchen - This is a video log, but is the best cooking show out there




The police arrive just as I am finishing. They weren't in much of a hurry since there was no danger. I showed them the empty Vicoden bottle and they swept the house to look for other missing items. While I was filling out paperwork in the front yard, I heard yelling from the back of the house. Moments later, the officers drug a naked and wet Awards fairy out the front door. He had drawn himself a bath and passed out in the tub. I hadn't gone in the bathroom, so didn't realize he was still here.


After two arrests, rehab and a restraining order, he still won't leave me alone. I may have to hire a hitman.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fortune Cookie #3 - New Experiences Aren't Always Good

I can definitely tell that summer is here. I sat down to post a blog and realized it has been six days since my last post. My life is much busier in the summer time. I will have to work harder to make sure I keep the posts coming.

In my previous post, my van had broken down in Elkville while out with Red of Doesn't Speak Klingon. It sat in a mechanic's parking lot until Monday morning and was ready to be picked up by that afternoon. Adam of The Train's Whistle gave my daughter and myself a ride back to my vehicle. All is well with the van now.

Since we had to retrieve the van from an area that is near larger cities than where we live, my daughter wanted to take this opportunity to go shopping.

I HATE SHOPPING!!!

I can do it for about half an hour. I might even last an hour on a good day, but then my mind starts to turn toward violent thoughts and I want some ice cream.

However, I did not resist this time. Kirsten was leaving on a mission trip in a few days to Puerto Rico and still needed a few things, so I gritted by teeth and we headed for the mall. Kirsten knows how much I hate this activity and typically encourage her to make these trips with her mother, but this was a unique situation that landed me in the middle of it. She worked quickly to find the items she needed and finished in less than 20 minutes with visits to only two stores. She's such a good girl.

With our shopping done and a long drive ahead of us, we decided to find a place to eat. I suggested we find a buffet and Kirsten hungrily agreed. Within a few blocks, we hit the jackpot.

A SUPER BUFFET!!!

I had never been to a super buffet! Would the food have extra taste? Would the portions be bigger? Would we be waited on by ninjas and samurais? Would consuming the food increase my abilities in martial arts? Who knows. We had to go there and experience this.

It looked normal on the inside. It seemed to have a little more variety than most regular buffets. They had fried squid; not just the small calamari rings, but the entire tentacle. I couldn't wait to dive in. I filled my first plate and started eating. Despite the large variety, the food was bland. Everything tasted the same. No flavor. I tried different sauces and spices and just couldn't fix it. I was very disappointed. Add this disappointment to the fact that we never saw our waitress again meaning our drinks were empty most of the time and I was not impressed.

Kirsten picked through her food and made the same complaint. She didn't like the place either. At ten dollars a plate, we still ate, but were sure we would not be recommending this place to anyone else. We asked for our check and it was brought with the standard fortune cookies. My 'fortune' said this:


This could not be further from the truth. I do NOT like competing, watching or even acknowledging most sports. I even wrote about my disdain for sports. Not only was my 'fortune' cookie way off base, it wasn't even a fortune. It just made a generalized statement that may or may not be true depending on the person who gets it. What is going on in China? Are they even trying any more? And what is with the 'have a nice day' smiley faces? It doesn't exactly have a Chinese feel to it. I was tempted to walk in the kitchen to see if it was staffed by a bunch of Mexican migrant workers.

I should have known better. When it comes to the Chinese buffet, I need to stick with CHINA BUFFET #6 in my hometown. The food is excellent. The staff is always available and very friendly AND The fortunes are much better. Here is the last one I received from #6.


While this may technically not be a fortune, it is a sound piece of advice. Plus, anyone who spends time with me will quickly learn that this is a motto that I can get behind and tend to live by. I love a good adventure and look to have one every day. I thought I was embarking on a culinary adventure when I entered the doors of the so-called 'super buffet', but am ashamed to admit that I was duped by the false claims on their sign.

#6, you have made an already loyal customer even more devoted. Save me a seat.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Brett's Plans Fall Apart...Again

Yesterday marked a milestone in the ongoing saga between myself and Red of Doesn't Speak Klingon. It was the first time she came to my hometown. Up until now, we have met somewhere in the middle or I have gone to her area.

Red coming here had more meaning than just less travel for me. She was going to meet my daughter Kirsten as well. This was, of course, very important.

After Red left, I asked Kirsten's opinion and she said, "She's just wonderful." This morning, Kirsten was talking about how pretty and funny Red is. I have to say the day went very well and Kirsten is correct. Red is wonderful, pretty and funny. I have been wanting to share more of our time together with my readers so you can see more of this as well, but it is not that easy.

Readers of Red's blog know that she is a very private person. She does not use her real name and the only photos of herself that she has ever used have been from her childhood. I approach my blog in a much different way. My life is (for the most part) an open book. I have divulged my real name, where I live and work and have not even used aliases for my kids. I had never considered what this might mean when I first started writing, but now that it's out there, I can't take it back.

Since I include lots of pictures of the activities I write about (which she has become a part of) and hate to leave my readers without details, I convinced Red to allow some of the pictures I have of us together to be used. So as not to betray her confidence, I will still not give away her name and gave her final say on what pictures could be used. So, my readers will finally get to see what she looks like starting with this post.

Yesterday morning, we intended to head south to Giant City for some rappelling on a 140 foot rock bluff. However, right before leaving we had to change our plans. My brother Kyle, who had all the equipment, couldn't make it. We (Red, myself, my daughter and her friend Charles) decided to go to the area anyway.

Giant City Water Tower
Giant City has miles of rugged trails and beautiful scenery. I first took her to an area where we could survey the park before we tackled it. We climbed the steps to the water tower (pictured on the left) and admired the miles of scenery we could see around us. It is a beautiful area with a breath-taking view for those who have the nerve to get to the top. It is well worth the climb, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing.  With this backdrop, I convinced Red to pose for our first public picture. Reluctantly, she agreed.


She is right behind the guy with the glasses. Isn't she beautiful?
After picking the direction we wanted to explore we ventured out into the wilderness. The Giant City State Park has warning signs posted on every path and throughout the rest of the park telling people to watch their step and use extreme caution. There are deep ravines and large drop offs everywhere. Much of the ground is rocky and gets slick when wet.

Red tripped right before the snap.

After leaving Giant City, we sought out a Root Beer Saloon and enjoyed root beer floats in the small town of Alto Pass. We then made our way to a natural bridge that I had heard about. After a long winding drive down a terrible gravel road we finally arrived. A short hike through the woods and there it was.

Between the bright background and her light colored shirt,
I think the picture is a little overexposed.

I know it's blurry. I wasn't ready.
After a long day of hiking and climbing rocks, we started the journey home. We didn't get far before my radio went out. While trying to find the problem, I noticed that I was losing power to the vehicle. I pulled into a Casey's gas station and 90 minutes later my van is being towed away to a mechanic. Being close to 8 o' clock on a Saturday night, it wouldn't even be looked at until Monday morning.

Red using the curb for a pillow.
So, the four of us are stranded 60 miles from home and it is getting dark. Luckily, we know other bloggers and called one for help. Adam, from The Train's Whistle agrees to come pick us up. We knew it would take at least an hour for him to get to us, so we got comfortable. It was a beautiful night, so we set up camp in the parking lot.

We were happy it was a nice night, because it took Adam a considerable amount of time to get to us. When we called him, he had just ordered a meal at Chili's, so he could not leave until it arrived and he had eaten it. Forty-five minutes later, when he had gotten on the road, he was upset that he hadn't been able to enjoy a dessert.

Having never been to Elkville before, he was following the GPS on his smartphone which led him through a small town that happened to be having a carnival. Still depressed over missing his dessert, he stopped and scoured the event for a food cart. After buying a funnel cake with extra powdered sugar, he got back on the road with a smile on his face.

Since he drives a pickup, Kirsten and Charles had to ride in the back and we arrived home four hours after the initial breakdown. Add to this the fact that Red still had a 3 1/2 hour drive to get back home and she had a very long night.

Despite the unanticipated turmoil, we had a wonderful day. Adam was wonderful for coming to rescue us. Red is still coming back next week. We saw a lot of beautiful scenery. We ate at a great Thai place and we ran into this guy in Carbondale.


He was out killing zombies.
Don't ask. We didn't.