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Keeping the bottle deposits from meth heads: round two

I spend more time thinking about how to thwart meth heads than I’m really willing to admit. But the fact that every bottle of beer we consume means a meth head has a shot at freakin’ five cents galls me. We’re talking TENS of dollars in annual contributions to the criminals if we set our recycling out at the curb.

However, tonight Brooks and I spent 3o minutes at the St Johns Spaceway, surrounded by dodgy people and dodgier smells, trying to return what turned out to be the $9.80 fortune in bottles we had amassed. He has eloquent lawyerly thoughts on the matter; I have annoyance and a strong bias in favor of being home, eating dinner rather than in the criminal queue at the bottle return place.

The long and short of it is this: we have decided not to return the bottles anymore. “But what about the MONEY?!!1!!1one!?” you may ask. Suffice it to say that the large economic hit we take by not returning our bottles is…negligible.

“But what about the meth heads?!” the more perceptive of you may ask. Well, we have a plan. We will be rendering the bottles unreturnable by defacing them in such a way that the bar code can no longer be scanned, which will mean….wait for it….that moron meth heads will take our bottles for a while, but will find that they can’t get five cents each for them when they hie their worthless asses to Safeway!

Thank you, thank you. This was a joint decision powered by Inversion IPA. Brooks has some words on the matter as well. Look for a guest post soon.

Bella’s first days

Friday, Brooks and I went to meet Bella, a 4-year-old English Bulldog who was surrendered by her owner. Expecting to meet the dog and have the weekend to talk about it, we were surprised to instead find ourselves driving home with her that night, having agreed to foster her until we decided one way or the other if she worked for us.

Since then, we have learned a lot about her. She is very calm and quiet around the house. She handles being by herself fine, and she is glad to have us come home. She lazes around a lot. She is afraid of our spiral staircase, like most dogs. She thinks a walk is going out the car port and coming in the front gate. She doesn’t do well with change. Unfortunately, she apparently doesn’t know how to interact with many people at once, and  not with children, either.

Many of her characteristics are really great for us, but we don’t want a dog who’s the terror of the neighborhood. So, we’re going to see about doggy boot camp or some consultant help. If that doesn’t make her better, she will need to find another home. I hope she does work out.

Bella, in the basement

Canning festival: check. Fence raising: check.

Last weekend, as planned, my parents came up to our place and helped us out on a number of fronts.

Mom taught me, and a few other lucky women, to can. I’ve done research and read books, but having mom’s advice and lore from decades of experience was simply great. She’s a bit of a renegade canner, and when she mentioned sealing jams with wax and skipping the water bath entirely, I expected USDA commandos to break through the kitchen door. But we learned the importance of following the recipe, keeping the implements clean, and how to use a pressure cooker.

By the end of the weekend, we had canned two batches of blackberry jam (thanks for bringing the fruit, mom!), one batch of blueberry lime jam, one batch of Makers Mark peach butter, and a whole bunch of carrots and garlic, which we plan to use in soups.

Canning: first attempt

While I was learning to can, Brooks, my dad, and a great group of volunteers were helping raise our new fence. Raise. I guess I say that because it was like an old-fashioned barn raising. A fence raising. We got most of the way there; I wimped out on the sealing with linseed oil Sunday evening, and there is a colorful and eclectic array of finials that are awaiting install. Plus the gate. But all in all, it’s really looking good:

New cedar fence

The fence is based on one a few miles away that Brooks saw and liked. He has, however, made a number of improvements, and the finished project will be fantastic.

Now that we have (most of) a fence, the next step is obvious. We will get a dog. Tomorrow, we’ll meet Bella and fall in love with her (you just know some things in advance) and bring her home as soon as we are screened and approved. Happy day!

Summer road trip: Astoria

Friday morning, Brooks and I headed over to Astoria, Oregon for a couple days at the coast. It was foggy and a bit low-light, but we had a great time wandering the town. Some highlights:

  • Dinner at Clemente’s: we ordered the Summer Halibut, which arrived in a lovely blackberry/Pinot Noir reduction, and the halibut fish and chips. Both were outstanding. Tangentially, we recognized a lot of fixtures from IKEA.
  • The view from our room: the Holiday Inn Express winds up being a fabulous place to stay in Astoria, given its location, which is practically right under the Astoria-Megler Bridge. I took many pictures from my comfortable perch on the fourth floor. Additionally, the picturesque Astoria trolley runs along the waterfront and hence passed right below us as well.
  • The Columbia River Maritime Museum: boasting very interesting architecture in the style I think of as “coastal,” the museum kept us entertained for hours. Um…they have a whale-bone swift on display. And lots of old boats. And tons of models of varying quality.
  • Walking through the warehouses on the water front. Fun!

[Click image for higher-res view]

Look, mom, we’re a real state now!

Oregon, or at least the game, gets a nod on xkcd.

Tomato thieves=sadness

Our tomatoes have finally been ripening. This has occasioned all kinds of anticipation, as well as plans to have my mom come for a visit in a couple weekends and teach me to can (while Dad helps Brooks with the new, meth-head-deterring fence).

But even before the great canning fest of 2009, I had more immediate plans to use two huge heirloom tomatoes that were finally ready for eating. Oh yes. They were to be combined with our own lemon cucumbers, basil, red onions, and oregano into a delicious Greek salad tomorrow night, when my brother passes through Portland on his way to his new Coast Guard assignment in Alaska.

You will note the past tense. Were. For, when I turned the corner on the way home from work today, a meth head was picking one of them. And by the time I got to the driveway, he was eating it. While I applaud his interest in nutrition, this was Our Tomato. Really, the first of the heirlooms. And therefore special.

This occasioned some rolling down of window and yelling on my part, followed by some fleeing on meth head’s part.

Ok, I wish he had fled. But the bastard insolently ambled, and even turned around to shout at me when he overheard me tell my brother on the phone that he had said. “I took your tomato; I’m a moron.”

But wait, there’s more! Meth head later returned, clearly casing the joint out. I tremble for our carrots. But Brooks was in the carport and spied him, and bless him, he gave the meth head a Great Fright. OH god. I wish I had been there to see it. However, others were. I take comfort in that.

I also hope that our taillights aren’t broken out tomorrow.

On to more delightful topics. No one has stolen the flowers from the front yard. Yet.

Putting an end to inadvertent meth-head support

The St. Johns neighborhood has a lot of meth addicts. This is a reality that is simultaneously fascinating and tiresome; the meth users who wander the area are clearly wrecked by the effects of drug use, and their decision-making processes suffer just like their skin, hair, teeth, and general physical health. As for genuinely violent criminal motivations, most of them seem incapable of much more than wandering the streets, high on meth, looking for cans to steal so they can 1) return them for the cash deposit value and 2) buy more meth.

We don’t have a fence. Not having a fence is, obviously, the same as having a sign out that says “meth heads welcome to rifle through contents of trash and recycling at will.” It’s possible to be standing right there and have a can wraith (our nickname for them) come up and start checking out your trash.

This is troubling, as we do not want to support the meth culture, however accidental and unintentional the aid may be.

Our current solution is simple:

1) Decoy glass recycling bin, visible from street, gets the wine bottles and other non-deposit items. If a meth head approaches the bin, he/she will assume that one of their colleagues has already collected the tribute. Meth heads being rather unmotivated, this is enough to keep them from further investigation.

2) Out of sight around the corner is the “real” recycling bin. Given our affection for microbrews, it’s quite the gold mine.

3) We return the bottles to the store ourselves, as there seems to be no other guaranteed way of keeping them from falling into meth-y hands.

But now I am faced with a dilemma: what to do with the deposit money? It’s not much, but it seems, I don’t know, special. I think we should start saving it up, but for what? More beer? Too easy. Trip to Europe? Would take too long, unless we dramatically increase our beer intake. Meth addiction program? Um, maybe. Is there a good one? I don’t know.

Any ideas?

A little bit of smoker justice

I’m still pretty gleeful as I write this. Last night, we had a really, really great experience with a local business owner.

I have terrible respiratory allergies, and one of the things that has become more and more troubling for me over time is tobacco smoke. It used to be that it occasionally would provoke a coughing fit, but now it’s an invariable and awful consequence of being exposed to smoke. This means that we have to scout out the road ahead of us when we are walking and cross streets to avoid smokers, leave outdoor seating at restaurants when a smoker lights up, and that my day can at any instant be reduced to a fit of coughing and choking when some freewheeling tobacco lover exercises their stupid right to smoke what seems like everywhere but inside businesses.

Since Oregon’s anti-smoking laws came into effect, I thought it would be easier. In fact, it’s worse, if anything. Smokers now hang out outside of dive bars and smoke on the sidewalk, which is….hello….a place shared with people who may NOT be smokers, and every outdoor dining area I have been in is still crawling with them.

So, we were at Sam’s martini bar in the Pearl, Olive or Twist. The name is awesome, I know. We were sitting outside, and someone a table away lit up. I was immediately apprehensive, but the wind was blowing his direction, so it was ok for a couple minutes. Then it shifted, and I immediately started coughing. GRRRRR. We collected our drinks and headed inside, but Sam spotted us, noted my obvious gasping for breath, and asked if the smoke was bothering us. We said yes, and he told us not to go inside, that he would take care of it.

And bless his heart forever, Sam went over to the smoker and asked him to leave. Never, ever, ever has a business owner done anything to protect their customers from smokers while I was around, and I am incredibly appreciative. It was nice for once to have the smoker have to leave, not me.

I’m highly aware that I have family members and friends whom I love who smoke, but I just don’t believe it’s right that smokers be able to endanger my health and foul up public spaces.

Anatomy of an eviction > part 3 (Thursday)

So, it was Thursday morning. Thursday as in the day that’s after the day the neighbor had said he would be out of the meth house across the street. And he was, of course, still there. The criminal factor in the neighborhood was becoming disproportionate, even for St Johns.

At this point, he had been “packing” for some 30-odd hours, aided no doubt by some kind of uppers. And a great help they had been–the truck, while lamentably still across the street, was piled high with what I can only describe as a a precarious and random pile of rubbish. No beds were yet in sight, which made us think that another night of being neighbors with him + criminal consorts was in store.

7:25 am. I leave for work, my mind filled with fantasies of not coming home to more of this view:

But at this rate, expectations were low. Continue reading Anatomy of an eviction > part 3 (Thursday)

Burgerville confusion over the English language continues

I had no idea that the St Johns Burgerville would prove such a treasure trove of linguistic chaos. Witness the June marquee, which Brooks most obligingly photographed for me during last night’s evening perambulation.

Either way, we’re all going to have a good time!