I’m way better at bike riding now

Aside from two blocks on a yellow commie bike in Copenhagen, I hadn’t ridden a bike in at least two years when I found one in my rental house. (I also found cans of Diet Rite Root Beer and a fine collection of spices from the 1980s in that house). While biking around Ithaca, I immediately developed a new trick while frantically pedaling to catch the bus when I was late for class: slipping, smashing my heels into the metal pedals and tearing the skin on my heels. The key to the trick was repeating it as soon as the wounds were healing.

One rainy night, I thought riding my bike the opposite way down a one-way street seemed like the best possible route, or at least fastest, to go home quickly before I had to work at the bar. I was paying attention to the cars in the actual street, and failed to notice a minivan that was parking until it was too late. I screamed, let go of the handle bars, allowing my bike to drop but still caused me to crash into the hood of the van. A little kid standing on the sidewalk asked if I was ok. The driver asked if I was ok. I muttered “yeah.” The little kid started pointing at me and laughing. I decided walking my bike home would be a good idea. Later that night, I was digging through my bag and panicked when I saw that my glasses case was completely smashed. My glasses were fine, and whatever impact they suffered made them slip down my nose less.

Venturing out of the ferry terminal on Staten Island

I do love art, but when it comes to museums I’d much rather look at pickled animals in jars.

The Staten Island museums delivers! Not only do they have dinosaur footprints, Native American artifacts, but they have glass jars with squid eggs, a flying squirrel, a hammerhead shark, and many more…

Oh sweet irony.

Staring like the Care Bears.
Never leave home without your matchbox full of rabbit droppings. These were on a shelf with the rind of a giant lemon and…

…a four-footed chicken. The chicken and magnified rocks were both pretty hypnotizing, but the minerals were more sparkly. (Though while talking to K10 later, she and I decided that rating how things ranked against a four-footed chicken is a really great way to measure awesomeness).

The entrance has a wall of several hundred insects, near a display of the horrors of the Asian long-horned beetle. These butterflies will not decimate forests…or will they?

Shadowboxes full of taxidermy animals is probably the only tradition I’d like to bring back from the Victorian era.

Cousins’ and mythical beasts

The allure of the stumpy cow statue was too great. We wanted a hot meal, and it was coming from a restaurant named Cousins’.

Marcie, Cody, Garrett and I were heading back to Portland from the Sasquatch music fest in George, Washington. It was the year before Sasquatch turned into a four day fest, when it was just a standard festival show with two stages and lots of bands. Six years later, I’m still trying to figure out why Coldplay headlined over Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips or Jurassic 5. The venue is called the Gorge, and it’s completely worth the five to six hour drive from Portland.

As much as the town “George, Washington” screams “booming metropolis,” The Gorge is surrounded by absolutely nothing. You have to spend the money to camp at in the official venue campground, which is just a field with banks of port-o-potties. There aren’t even old logging roads to park on or a terrible state campground. The only thing around except the venue are farms where Jethro’s wife comes out to tell you not to park on her property to eat cold pizza out of the cooler that’s jamming into your side while you’re shoved into the back of a Volkswagen.

We drove up the night before Sasquatch and the four of us crammed into a two-person tent that Marcie’s parents got as a wedding present. (Garrett only made it into the tent for a night and a half–he fell asleep face down in the grass in front of the tent for part of the second night). When we were about to crash the first night, we stared in disbelief at the tent door flopping over. I dug through the trunk and found my duct tape, wrapped a piece around the front pole, pulled off a long strip, slapped the tape down to the hood of my mom’s Golf, and said “Everybody in.”

On the way home, we stopped to frolic around the concrete Stonehenge replica at the Maryhill Museum.

About a half hour after crossing the bridge back into Oregon, we were in The Dalles, where the gas station bathrooms sell Love Kits for a quarter. We noticed Cousins’ on the way up to Sasquatch, and on the way back, we couldn’t deny the towering roadside sign or the livestock statues.

The hostess said, “Howdy Cousins!”

When our waiter came to the table, he said, “How are you cousins doing today?”

The menu told a convoluted story about the restaurant’s origins: There was a group of cousins who were close and opened Cousins’ together to serve up homestyle food and make everyone who came there feel like they were one of the cousins too…I hoped the wait staff didn’t cheat at board games like my actual cousins. I let the story of the founding slide, but I had a pressing question when the waiter came back to get our order.

“Random question: Why is the word “halibut” in quotation marks on the “Real ‘halibut’ fish and chips?,” I asked and pointed to my menu.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But yeah, that’s weird. I promise it’s real fish.”

We ordered veggie burgers and salads.

Abe Lincoln loves going to the food court

Circa March 2003, here is an Abraham Lincoln impersonator I saw walking through a mall food court in Boston like it was no big deal. The picture is small and blurry because I was going on stalker mode, but I totally saw him.

Three days before this, I worked a the “Lincoln Days” dinner at my catering job for the Republicans of Tompkins County. I walked back into the servery, and Abe was sitting at my boss’s desk eating dinner before going out to give the Gettysburg Address.

(I’ve got some more recent photos the world needs to see, but I’m having technical difficulties…mainly that I need to find batteries for my camera and figure out how to upload pics from my phone. I haven’t tried that hard to solve either problem. Yet.)

Cat Fancy

In the sixth grade, the girl sitting next to me spent a bit of free time in class pouring over an issue of Catmopolitan, Cat Fancy, or one of those other magazines filled with pictures of kitties that are a step above dressing the cats up as people. Out of curiosity and confusion, I glanced over her shoulder.

With her eyes still focused on the magazine, she said, “My cat’s in here.”
“Really?” I said. “That’s pretty cool.”
“Well,” she said, “I just pretend. But she should be because she’s a princess.”

I said nothing. This continued to be my tactic with this girl through the rest of middle school and high school.

Things I despise more than I should…


In most cookbooks, there are recipes for shaped cookies like krumcakes or madelines that require special pans for their trademark shape. But within the same section are recipes for cookies like “Peanut butter dinosaurs” or “Alphabet cookies” and other things to snack on while doing paint by numbers. Guess what? Peanut butter dinosaurs are just peanut butter cookies cut out with a T. Rex cutter! You know the ingredients needed for alphabet cookies? Sugar cookie dough and alphabet cookie cutters.

I freaking love shaped cookies (see “Really important decision making”), but the word “cookie cutter” is a euphemism for “painfully boring and standard.” Even if you’re not that artistic or creative, you should have enough of a grasp on the world to think, “Oh hey! my kid likes butterflies and chocolate cookies! Maybe I should combine the two!” or “It’s Christmas, so trees would be appropriate and festive ” or “I’m gonna make bird and hammer shaped chocolate chip cookies just ’cause it’ll be awesome.” This year, slipped some Christmas bunnies into the standard holiday shapes, what ‘cha gonna about it, Better Homes and Gardens?