Twenty years ago today we got married.

We are celebrating by returning to the scene of the crime for a nice dinner. In the evening there will be live music followed by a screening of Star Wars under the stars.

This afternoon I put something in the outdoor fridge. It looked like a pitcher of iced tea exploded out there. I got some sudsy water and baking soda and a sponge and took everything apart and scrubbed it clean.

Later, when Bob got home I casually asked him if there was an iced tea explosion in the outside fridge. He said he’d pulled the pitcher out too quickly but that he thought he’d cleaned it up.

I stood there with my mouth working open and closed but no sound coming out. I finally said, “I can’t imagine how you could think that was cleaned up.”

And we laughed. Twenty years ago that would have been a huge fight.

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Timbers Away, Kansas City Version

This is part 3 in our series of Timbers away adventures. When we were in KC someone asked if we were going to all the away games. I thought that was a crazy question but they met someone at the match who was doing that very thing. We try to do one away game a year. We’re limited on when we can go so it depends on how the schedule lines up. We’re still hoping to go to Chicago, New York and Toronto.

If any MLS fans or Timbers fans find this and are wondering about away matches, we had a great time in Philadelphia and Montreal and highly recommend.

We were told that the Timbers Army were invited to tailgate with the KC Cauldron but it was raining so that plan was scrapped and instead we were invited to hangout in their special clubhouse at the stadium. The stadium is in Kansas and is way the hell out there. You need a car to get out there. Bob found a bus that ran once an hour. I didn’t want to take a bus that runs once an hour.

The stadium is super nice. The KC fans were 99% super nice. We lost the match but we had a fantastic time.

After the match we walked over to Nebraska Furniture Mart which is gigantic (according to the website 450,000 sq ft) and has a See’s Candy inside. We just wanted to see what it was like. There’s a big outlet mall out there, too, and we walked around there. Then we had barbecue and custard and got a ride back to the hotel. That concludes the Timbers part of our trip.

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Kansas City Sports

The rest of my vacation coverage is going to be spotty since other than the giant plates of meat I ate, it’s already a blur.

This photo reminds me that during our time in MO I saw more empty parking spaces than I’ve ever seen in my life. Everywhere you looked there was some massive parking lot, often with zero cars in it. Or just a few. Or a fence around it because dang it, just because there are parking places doesn’t mean you can put your car there.

If only there were a way to export parking places.

My note about the title is that I would say 4 out of every 5 people you see are wearing some sort of Kansas City team attire. Those Missouri folks love their sports teams.

Our hotel was downtown and new with amazing service. The room was terrific except it was like a meat locker. Even Bob was cold. I turned the fan down. I turned the thermostat up. I was afraid to turn it off because that seemed like something that could backfire.

I hated to do it but I asked about it at the desk. They were super nice and they said they adjusted something but we eventually broke down and turned it off. Also the A/C unit had a bright blue light on it. I am relaxed about light sources when I sleep and even I was astonished that no one had put tape over it or carved it out of the unit. Since I already complained about the A/C and the staff was so attentive, I didn’t want to ask about the blue light.

Also, my tea was never hot enough. I didn’t have a decent cup of tea the entire trip. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or if it’s because it’s 1000 degrees there and they don’t like their hot drink truly hot.

Isn’t that great how I these are the details of the trip I remember?

Our first night we were ready to go check out the BBQ but couldn’t find anything within walking distance of the hotel. The desk clerk was kind enough to recommend a restaurant that was in walking distance but it was a chain and we have one in Portland and it’s one of those places that thinks it can disguise the fact that they have mediocre food by having a giant menu.

I wasn’t about to waste a vacation meal on that place so we broke down and tried a ride sharing app. The desk clerk understood our change of plans and was happy to help us figure out which bbq to try.

I forgot to mention earlier but we took the train from St. Louis to KC. It was a pleasant way to travel but it was a tad disappointing in terms of scenery. Most of the time the train is in its own little trench so we saw lots of green trees and only a few nice views. But mostly I read my book. I read 4 books on vacation.

Getting back to dinner, we’d been traveling all day so we were hangry by the time our ride dropped us off at Q39. It was 4:30 and the line was going out the door. We had to wait in line to put our names on the list. We never would have done it except we had no car so we put our names in and then went for a walk and found Thomas Hart Benson’s house (artist) which was closed but we could walk around it and the neighborhood was pretty.

The food ended up being amazing. Super amazing. We both ordered platters where you try different things and tried everything. It turns out I can eat a lot when I’m motivated.

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The Tomato of Disappointment

I was so excited to spot this little guy. And then crushed with disappointment.

Bob: Are you still going to eat it?

Me: Of course.

(I have more vacation stuff. Stay tuned.)

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We Interrupt Vacation Coverage

A little bit more vacation stuff coming. Meanwhile, I need to complain about people doing it wrong and tell a quick story.

Story first — remember last year at this time when I lost a bunch of stuff from my wallet? I never found it and it’s happened again on a much smaller scale. I had a couple of gift cards that I was getting ready to use. I was interrupted in the middle of putting together my order (this was months ago) and I can’t find the gift cards. I am cleaning my room right now and they haven’t turned up. Obviously there is a black hole here somewhere. I have no other explanation.

Now the wrong people — at the beginning of this month I received a bill dated July 29 for an eye doctor appointment I had in mid-June. I paid for services at the time of the appointment.

My Doctor’s office switched to a computer system a couple of years ago so now I can get all my information online.

I dutifully dug around until I found my username and password and secret extra code and logged in and could find no record of the bill.

You can pay using the system but there is no way to tell them that they have billed you incorrectly nor is there a way to send them a scan of your receipt that you were so kind to make for them.

I went to the customer service menu and sent a note explaining that I’d received a bill for services that I’d already paid for and that I couldn’t find any place in their system to tell them that.

The response was that the eye clinic isn’t part of the online system (?!) but that my account didn’t show anything due and probably the bill was generated before the payment was registered. If your billing system can’t track an electronic payment after 6 weeks, you are doing it wrong.

I will bet you anything I get a past due notice next month.

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Meet Me At The Fair

St. Louis, MO, Vacation Wrap Up Part 2

I tried to make this pretty but I am afraid while the mighty Mississippi River has many things going for it, beauty is not one of them. But we enjoyed the boat tour and learned about boat and recreational traffic on the river. I think my earlier post might have given the impression that I was afraid I would have to go whale watching in Missouri.

That was not my concern.

We stopped in the Old Cathedral while we were around the Arch park. They are very particular about their silence.

It is the oldest building in St. Louis. Construction began in 1831 and the church was dedicated in 1834. Right now there is a huge renovation project going on down at the park where the Arch is so there are land movers and fences and big piles of dirt. It’s supposed to be done next year and should be really cool.

We also went to the Dred Scott Court House, the history museum and the art museum in Forest Park which was the site of the World’s Fair in 1904.

Missouri has a lot of interesting history because of its location. When the US was in full burn pioneer mode, the settlers would gear up in Missouri before setting out.

Forest Park is beautiful and we enjoyed the museums. Unfortunately, we were caught in a thunder shower while we were walking around. Bob said: Quick, let’s wait under this tree. And a tree can be decent coverage for a certain kind of rain but not the sky opening up and gushing. There was some sort of venue but I don’t think it was public and we started running for that and then spotted a restroom. So we ducked into a stinky park restroom for 20 minutes until the rain stopped.

My summer sandals are probably going to have to be retired after this summer. They didn’t bounce back from the slosh.

Next stop. Kansas City.

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Meet Me In St. Louis

This is vacation wrap up Part 1.

For the first time in forever, I didn’t take any notes on this trip. I brought no writing materials of any kind except for the ability to note take on my phone which is not an activity I enjoy and I do only when I have to.

We’ll see if I can remember anything interesting.

We started our trip in St. Louis. I’ve lived on the west coast my entire life and found it adorable that St. Louis calls itself the gateway to the west.

They were in between heat domes so the weather was tolerable. I have concluded that I don’t dislike the heat as much as I dislike going back and forth between the A/C and the heat. I get chilled so easily so I’m always dragging around long sleeves and I hate to have my legs bare. I’ve had good luck with those special travel clothes that are lightweight and dry fast and do magic tricks. I don’t know what they are called but worth it to track down.

When Bob was telling me about St. Louis he mentioned a boat tour and a trip to the top of the Arch. I don’t like boats or high places but I was trying to be game. Turns out the boat tour was a paddleboat on the Mississippi. Of course I wanted to do that. The kind of boat trip I don’t want to do is whale watching in high seas. I kept an open mind about the Arch but then I saw this in the visitor center.

You get into one of these things and ride to the top. For 5 minutes.

We did not do that.

Later, on the boat, a lady talked about doing it and said up in the Arch it shakes. So doubly glad we skipped it.

The Cardinals baseball field is downtown. They were on an extended away streak while we were there but we wandered around the field. I know know who Stan Musial is. He is a rock star in Cardinals history.

More to come.

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Beg-A-Thon Final Update Week #5

Current state of the pumpkins in the backyard.

This is my final write-a-thon update. I’m turning in my draft to beta readers on Thursday and then taking a much needed break from screen time so there will be no week #6 update.

I am behind and I have a super busy day today where it will be tough to get revising done. And I’m sitting here cropping a pumpkin photo. Not a good sign.

Thanks again to all my donors. The fundraising is going great. In the most recent report, the funds raised for the write-a-thon are up to $15,514.

Donations are still happily accepted.

Manuscript currently stands at:

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Beg-A-Thon Week #4 Progress Report

I was aiming for something a little more clever with this, but I am fried on screen time and need to get a break from the computer.

I am still write-a-thoning but since I’m revising it’s harder to quantify the work I’ve done this week. I’m over a quarter of the way through this revision which is probably less than I’d like but not as bad as it sounds. At this point I’m smoothing out continuity and fixing the most dreadful prose passages and re-writing various bits that aren’t quite working yet.

I think I am on target to make my goals but I have two early soccer home games between now and my deadline of July 28. (I know, poor me.) We kick-off at Noon tomorrow which means I need to be having my match day pizza and beer at around 10:30am. This is the only time I drink before Noon because I am too old for day drinking.

I’m also having insomnia issues on and off which isn’t unusual for me but the timing could be better.

Thanks again to all my donors. The fundraising is going great. In the most recent report, the funds raised for the whole shebang are up to $14,033.

You can still donate. Even a few bucks is appreciated.

Manuscript currently stands at:

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Beg-A-Thon Week #3 Progress Report

This week I did just over 11,000 words. I remain on target for my goals.

From here on out it makes no sense to measure by word count. I need to tidy up about 24K per week to get the draft to the beta readers by July 28th.

Now that I look at it like that, it seems impossible. Oh well. I’ll do my best.

So I wrote a complete (not pretty) draft since starting on May 20th. That’s pretty incredible. I’ve always considered myself to be a slow writer.

I had a fairly substantial outline to work from but I need to remember not to let myself get too gummed up at the beginning because I figure out a lot of stuff as I go along.

One of the things that makes this possible, like I said before, is letting everything else slide. This is agonizing for me but when you want one thing you have to sacrifice something else. Bob is out of school so he picks up more of the chores. I also (oh so painful) gave up about 90% of my reading time. I had time to power skim the New Yorker and that was it. I used my time on the bus to work out the next bits I wanted to write.

So if my outline says “woman discovers she’s really an alien.” Then while I’m on the bus I’ll write notes about how she figures out her craving for raw meat and the strange appendages she has growing out from behind her knees aren’t normal so she goes to the science library to do research but realizes she’s being followed by a purple Cadillac…

And so on like that so when I sit at the computer I’m ready to roll.

I try to preserve my back and neck and wrists by regular breaks.

I do any number of these things:

Shoulder Stretches with a belt.

Wrist and forearm work (This is a class preview. It might sound technical but watch the demo. These are great.)

Foundation training back exercises. I am generally the type to be put off by branded exercise systems but I’ve been doing the basic exercises regularly as part of my recovery from the back debacle of 2015 and I think it’s helped a lot.

Those are my secrets to writing a whole bunch in a short time. Although to be honest I’m not as confident in this manuscript as I was in the last one.

Thanks again to all my terrific sponsors. My report showed over $10K in donations already. Not for me but for the whole thing.

It’s not to late to donate.

This is what the tomatoes are doing. I’m going to put the cages up this afternoon. I did a half-assed job of throwing them out there and have ignored them ever since so probably not going to be a big tomato year. (Again.)

A couple more links.

I’m not a big pork eater but I’ve been anxious to try out a new recipe and this Cuban Roast Pork caught my eye. Right now the house smells amazing.

For a huge portion of my career I worked with the Metlakatla Indian Community in SE Alaska. This is a terrific article and photo essay about basketball in the Community.

That’s this week’s update.

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