(no subject)

You may have heard that last week, 11 gay bars in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle received death threats. Specifically, anonymous letters were sent to each bar, promising that the following week, five patrons in each bar would be murdered with ricin, the same substance used by a cult to kill people on a Tokyo subway a few years back. The Stranger also received a letter, advising them to prepare to announce the deaths of 55 innocent people.

In response to such a ridiculously hateful threat, a pub crawl in support of the 11 bars was organized for last night. I instantly wanted to go, and happily, mountain_child and llellewyn agreed to come along.

llellewyn picked us up and we started our crawl at Purr ("A Cocktail Lounge"), a trendy but comfortable gay bar that reminded us somewhat of the inside of a Starbucks. I got a Long Island Iced Tea, mountain_child got a Kahlua and Cream, and llellewyn got something fruity and sweet that the bartender invented on the spot. We sipped our drinks on comfy couches and benches and enjoyed ourselves. I asked after an old friend of mine that I had heard worked there, but he'd apparently moved on.

The second bar we visited was a lesbian bar called The Wild Rose, which was standing room only. This bar, unlike Purr, had a $5 cover charge. However, patrons coming for the pub crawl weren't asked to pay, which was awfully nice of them, I thought. We dipped in long enough for me to get a Kahlua and Cream, water for mountain_child, and a Shirley Temple for llellewyn, then moved on.

We had to backtrack a bit to get to our third and last bar of the night, and we noticed partway through that we were going by a very nice leather shop that was open late, so we ducked in for a bit. llellewyn and I admired the corsets and fishnets and various toys, and I badgered mountain_child into trying on some leather pants. One pair in particular was utterly delicious on him...soft synthetic leather with buckles all down the side of each leg. It was hot to death. Wait, I cannot emphasize this enough.


I got a leather belt I really liked (I needed a wider one), and mountain_child promised to consider the pants.

The last bar we visited (Cuff) was, appropriately, a leather bar, and they also waived our cover charge. This was definitely the darkest and least glamorous of the three, but that fit the theme well. It had a separate dancing area and courtyard attached, which we visited while sipping water and Shirley Temples (yes, I ordered a Shirley Temple in a leather bar). We also visited a tiny leather shop inside the establishment, which featured solid silver bands that I thought were chokers, but were actually arm cuffs (I have a very thin neck, and these guys had very big biceps). They also had packages of snakebite kits by the door. "They're for your nipples" the guys helpfully advised.

We made our way home after that, and the bouncer at the back door called Tyler "honey." All in all, we had a great time.

And I hope the FBI catches that guy.

(no subject)

Las Vegas was good times. :) Our hotel (Bellagio) was utterly gorgeous. The casino was vast. We had a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower (from the Paris casino) across the street.

The "O" Cirque du Soleil show was definitely my favorite. All the acts done in and around that water tank were spectacular, and I loved that the water was actually used as an entry or exit point, so that the performers would sometimes appear out of nowhere, or vanish into it at the end of the act. Apparently they have regulators down there, and all the cast members are SCUBA certified. My favorite character, by far, was Guy on Fire.

LOVE was also amazing, and was actually the first time I've seen a performance at a theatre in the round. We actually had front row seats. I think Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds was my favorite, and I envy the performers some of the things they get to play with for a living. I also liked all the tricycles with little disembodied yellow rain boots in Lady Madonna.

Mamma Mia was only okay. I think it was overacted and the sets were pretty blah, but the orchestra executed the songs perfectly, and the audience was comprised of really devoted fans (because it was closing night), so that jazzed things up a lot.

Blue Man Group was also really fun, reminding me a little bit of STOMP, but with more performance art. I loved the public humiliation of the latecomers, which consisted of a siren, a screen flashing "LATE ARRIVALS," a spotlight on the arrivals and a cameraman broadcasting their walk of shame onto the main screen, and an opera tenor on stage singing "you're LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE!". I actually got to meet all three of them after the show and they signed my program for me (in blue greasepaint).

Dad and I were exhausted by the time we got back, because we didn't gamble at all...we just walked our butts off seeing the sights. We saw the Sirens of Treasure Island show (lame) and the dolphin/tiger/lion exhibit at the Sigfried and Roy compound in the Mirage (sad). We saw the wax museum and rode gondolas on the Grand Canal inside the Venetian while our lady gondolier sang in a gorgeous soprano (awesome) and ate gelato in St. Mark's Square. We saw the living statues show in the Palazzo and the Fall of Atlantis show in Caesar's Palace, both of which were hilariously weird, especially the part with the giant pterodactyl. We saw the volcano at the Mirage (meh) and the fountains at the Bellagio (fantastic). We went up in the Eiffel Tower at Paris (great view) and saw the Bodies exhibit inside the Luxor (facinating/ethically dubious). We saw the lions at MGM Grand and rode the monorail to Mandalay Bay. We walked through and just gawked at Harrah's, Bally's, the Excalibur, the Flamingo (built with mob money), and the Tropicana.

I bought a postcard from every hotel/casino we went to, filled them out while waiting for shows to start, and mailed them all to my Mom. :D

We ate at sumptuous buffets on two nights. We drank alcohol in public places (a Bailey's hot chocolate because I was cold on a walk back, and a Mike's Hard Lemonade in a shopping mall, just because I could). We laughed nervously at the designer shops (Armani, Tiffany, Fendi, Gucci), many of which were in our hotel, where nothing had price tags. We counted all the brides we saw (11). We fended off people handing out glossy prostitute cards, except for the one time we didn't, and now I have a stack of them I need to use for chaotic purposes.

We came back sore and exhausted, but we had a great time. But I think I've had enough Vegas for at least another 26 years.
  • Current Mood
    tired tired

(no subject)

So, we finally got our act together, and my Dad and I are leaving for Las Vegas on Saturday morning!

This is sort of a Christmas gift/retirement gift to Dad/graduation present for AJ combination trip. Mom's been wanting to do this for a while, since both Dad and I kind of needed a break. We've been thinking about it for a year and making idle plans for it, but it didn't actually come together until last week. I made all the reservations online on Christmas Eve afternoon.

I have no interest in gambling. However, we are going to a show each of the four nights we will be there. As follows:

Sat: O (the Cirque du Soleil water show)
Sun: Mamma Mia! (my Dad loves ABBA)
Mon: LOVE (Cirque du Soleil with Beatles music)
Tues: Blue Man Group (wah ha ha)

We weren't planning to leave for the trip so soon, but Dad really loves Mamma Mia! (has the movie and everything), and it leaves Las Vegas on Sunday, so we'll be there closing night. I am a logistics guru, by the way.

We will be staying at the Bellagio, which rocks so hard.

So, here's what else we're hoping to see and do. Please post any ideas or advice if I've missed anything, because I'd love your input.

*Fountains at Bellagio (outdoor water show, free)
*Conservatory at Bellagio (really cool indoor garden, free)
*Fall of Atlantis (fountain/aquarium/show at Caesar's Palace, free)
*4-D Special Effects Theatre (Circus Circus)
*Adventuredome (thrill rides at Circus Circus)
*World's Largest Permanent Circus (acrobatics above casino floor, Circus Circus, free)
*Wildlife Habitat (indoor aviary at the Flamingo, free)
*IMAX Theatre (Luxor)
*In Search of the Obelisk (historical-sorta motion-sensor ride, Luxor)
*King Tut's Tomb (exact tomb replica, Luxor)
*Shark Reef (glorified aquarium, Mandalay Bay)
*Lion Habitat (lions! MGM Grand)
*Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat (Mirage)
*Roller Coaster (on the strip, New York, New York)
*Eiffel Tower (1/2 scale, Paris)
*Masquerade Village (Carnival-style parade floats suspended from ceiling, Rio)
*Speed (roller coaster ride, Sahara)
*Insanity (high-altitude spin ride, Stratosphere)
*X-Scream (high-altitude teeter-totter ride, Stratosphere)
*Stratosphere Observation Tower
*Bodies: The Exhibition (NOT Bodyworks, but I still want to see it. Tropicana)
*Sirens of Treasure Island (sleazy pirate show, Treasure Island)
*Gondola Rides (Venetian)
*Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum (Venetian)

It's tacky and gimmicky, I know...but I'm okay with that. I want a vacation.
Dinosaurs Rule

And then there was Christmas!

Christmas was great, as usual. The blanket of snow that had flomped all over Seattle was absolutely glorious, and it stuck around long enough to give me my first honest-to-dog White Christmas I'd ever had in my life...big fat flakes on Christmas morning and everything. I loved it.

I decorated the tree the first day we were home, and Tyler chipped snow and ice out of the driveway so we could foray out for a few last-minute gifts (and cat food, and cat litter). We sat in front of the fire, wrapped presents, and played with the cat. It was great.

The cats made out better than any of us when we did the stockings on Christmas Eve, with plenty of toys and treats. On Christmas morning, Santa brought Pan an enormous 5-foot tall climbing tower, complete with high perch at the top and two cubbies below. Pan has enjoyed it immensely so far. I got 4 packages of Milano cookies, on which I am still nibbling happily, and a big book about all the species of extinct humans (Australopithecus afarensis, Homo neanderthalensis, etc.).

Christmas morning was wonderful as usual. I got up early to sit by the tree for a while and start a fire. I was very happy to get the Planet Earth DVD's, which I cracked open just this afternoon. I also got the 7th season of Scrubs, a pretty bracelet, a new sheath knife, a scrummy pair of knitted armsocks, and a set of eight Pez dispensers made to look like the original cast of Star Trek. I got Tyler a new Leatherman tool, a new utility knife for my Dad, some art books for my Mom, chocolate molds for Jason, and an oil lamp for Ilana. It was really nice.

We maintained our tradition of No TV on Christmas. I made Mom and Dad breakfast in bed before presents, and we played dominoes later. Sandwiches for lunch, along with handfuls of cream puffs Jason and Ilana had made the night before, and Eggplant Parmesan for an informal dinner.

We made it home, eventually

We had Christmas! It was good.

So, when I left off from our journey, we had been defeated by our attempt to drive home from Boise, and had returned to Boise. When our flight was canceled, they offered us a rebooking on a 9:30 PM flight the next day, but we canceled instead and tried the drive. By the time we had changed our minds, the earliest we could get home together was on Christmas Eve morning, around 9:30 AM.

The lesson I tried to take away from it was one of peace and serenity, of not trying to influence fate, of letting things happen as they happen. But still, the next morning, I was antsy and wanting to try and fix things. I went to the store. I made a snow duck by the pond. Eventually, I called Alaska's customer care line (not the reservations line, which was busy and not accepting any new calls). After 20 minutes on hold, I got a guy on the phone.

"Can you get to the airport RIGHT NOW?" he asked me.

"YES. YES!" I sputtered.

So we frantically threw our stuff back in the bags (I had chosen that time to back up my computer and the hard drive was in the bottom of my backpack, called Tyler's uncle away from baking Christmas cookies, and got to the airport. Again. It took us ages to check in because they were busy dealing with everybody who had been planning to fly to anywhere in California that day, all canceled. This was mostly because Alaska employees had been working overtime and then were not legally permitted to fly.

Our flight hung in there. It was delayed twice, not due to weather, not due to crew problems, but to mechanical issues. But we had a plane, and we had a crew, and nearly 3 hours later, we actually boarded an aircraft. I was a nervous wreck the entire time we were at the airport and spent most of it lying on the floor staring into space. I was nervous when we boarded the plane. I was nervous when we sat on the runway. I was nervous when we were flying, because they could still turn us away...but they didn't. The irony is that the 9:30 PM flight we would have been on later that day if we hadn't tried to drive was canceled.

We got some gift certificates to McCormick and Schmick's, I drank lots of fluids, and we touched down in the morass of Sea-Tac around 9:30 PM. We waded through acres of luggage at baggage claim without incident and eventually made it onto a shuttle. Shuttle Express wasn't going to any residential addresses due to the deep snow (and a number of drivers not coming back when they tried it the previous day), so we got dropped off at a grocery store a half-mile from my house and just walked home.

To recap, here is how I got home:
*Bush plane
*Plane (failed)
*Plane (failed)
*Rental car (failed)
*Plane (success!)
*Airport shuttle

(no subject)

Pan's vomiting stopped last month after we took him to the vet and got him some deworming medicine and a very bland prescription cat food diet. We didn't know which one of those things did it, but it worked.

But prescription diet is expensive, and in case the problem was resolved (or if the problem had just been worms in the first place), we called the vet clinic last week to see about transitioning him off the prescription diet onto some new food. They were really helpful and recommended some good foods, and so we picked one and started mixing it with the last of his prescription food, to ease the transition.

That worked great for about 6 days. Then the night before last, Pan threw up a tiny bit in the middle of the night, and I got worried.

Last night, Pan threw up what looked like everything he had eaten in his entire life. And this morning, he's thrown up twice more, both times after I fed him the last little bit of his prescription diet, unmixed.

The extra twists in this is that Pan sneaked downstairs to my Mom's last night and tore open an entire bag of cat treats and ate them all. And this morning, the first time he threw up, I found a wadded ball of stuffing in it, from one of his cat toys.

So, I don't know if he is throwing up because his stomach is unhappy about the food change, because he scarfed an entire bag of Whisker Lickins', or because he had a big wad of stuffing in his stomach. And, as usual, the day of the week he picked to be sick is Sunday, when the vet is closed.

I'm now totally out of prescription food and I can't get more until I go to the vet, so he's not getting any more food until the rest of the day, and I'll call the vet tomorrow.

The really annoying thing about all this is that in the month of prescription food when Pan was totally fine, he was here in Seattle, and we were at Taylor, taking care of a 6-month old golden retriever puppy who kept eating coyote poop and her chew toys, then cheerfully vomiting them up in the middle of the night.

I cannot express in words how ready I am to be done with vomiting pets.
  • Current Mood
    distressed distressed

(no subject)

Our flight to Seattle was canceled. The flight before it was canceled because it was too snowy in Boise and visibility was bad, which means they have to space flights out more, which means that smaller planes get canceled to make way for bigger planes. Then the sky cleared, and I thought we were okay, but we got canceled anyway due to Seattle weather.

In the accommodation line, I asked for a refund on our tickets, and we went downstairs and rented the only car available to go one-way to Seattle from the Boise airport. At about 5 PM, we were on our way out.

The roads were a little slick, and we saw several cars on the side of the road, but things went great until about 60 miles later when we hit the Oregon border. Then the roads turned to packed icy snow, and we pulled off at a truck stop to reevaluate.

What we learned from about 8 truckers inside was that the interstate was closed from Portland to the Dalles (and had been closed in NE Oregon earlier in the day), and chains were required for all vehicles in Portland. We already knew Snoqualmie was closed. The gorge was only open during daylight hours. According to the police, there were over a thousand trucks stranded on the side of the road, and all the rest stops and truck stops were full.

We still tried. We stopped in Ontario to look for chains, but there was nothing available that fit our car, every place was cleaned out. I was shaky and scared and miserable. At some point, we decided what we were trying to do was not worth our lives in case we crashed or got hit or got stranded in the middle of nowhere, so we turned back. We got a refund on the hotel room we'd gotten, and the rental car place refunded more than half our money, which was nice of them.

So, I rebooked our tickets. The best I could do was Christmas Eve at 9:55 AM. Then I stewed all day today. I finally got ahold of a person at the airline on the phone today to see if cancellations had opened up any seats today. He said that if we were ready to leave now, there was a flight leaving for Seattle at 5:25 tonight. We scrambled to get our stuff together and got to the airport immediately.

And here we are. Our flight has been delayed twice now, to 7:35 PM. We apparently have a plane and a crew, but there's a mechanical issue holding us up. I have no idea if we'll make it home or not.

Most of all, I'm trying not to control things and let things happen as they happen. Desire is the enemy of happiness, right?

(no subject)

Friday, December 19th

We wait for a plane all day, but there's never an opening in Cascade. We hunker down for another night. It's okay. I allowed an extra day for this.

Saturday, December 20th

11:00 AM: We get word over the radio at Taylor Ranch that a plane is coming for us. We haul our stuff to the airstrip and drain our cabin for the winter.

12:00 PM: Plane arrives. We unload the contents and haul them up to the cabin, including a new recliner, then load our stuff, say goodbye, and leave. We have to fly through some clouds and there's a little turbulence, but it's not bad.

1:00 PM: Arrive in Cascade. Unload plane, talk to Carol about bills. Pilot drives us to the medical center to drop off blood sample, to the post office to drop off mail, and to the gas station, which is where the bus will pick us up at 2:15.

2:15 PM: No bus.

3:00 PM: No bus.

4:00 PM: No bus.

4:30 PM: I call Greyhound and am informed that all of their Idaho routes have been canceled due to the weather. I flail around. Tyler calls his grandmother and asks, again, if anyone can get us in Cascade. At the same time, the gas station clerk cheerily informs us that she called and the bus is now in New Meadows, will be meeting another bus in McCall to offload some passengers, and then coming to Cascade. What?

5:15 PM: Bus arrives. AJ is confused. Bus is full of college students and there are almost no seats. We ask if we can get on. Bus driver tells us to wait outside while the passengers use the bathroom and get food, because he doesn't know if there will be room for us. Bus driver gets a smoke.

5:25 PM: Bus reloads. Drive comes over to us and says "Look. I'm tired. I'm cranky. I don't want to mess with money or tickets or anything. Just get on the bus and find two seats. I never saw you." We board the bus.

7:00 PM: Bus arrives in Boise. We get off at the bus station and call. Uncle Michael is dispatched to pick us up and take us straight to the airport (and give us our Christmas present).

7:00-7:30PM: We wait on the street for our ride while a man with cigarettes, sour apple pucker, and "ADD and bipolar schizophrenia and I ain't got no meds!" chatters at us and tells us about his various tattoos and prison sentences.

7:30 PM: Michael arrives and drives us to the airport. We check in. The person at the ticket desk looks glum and tells us that Sea-Tac has been turning away about 50% of its flights.

8:00 PM: We wait at the airport. We eat snacks. I am too exhausted to read or sew or play on my laptop, and too overstimulated to sleep. I pass the time with a cowlike stare.

8:00 PM-10:30 PM: Flight is delayed and delayed, both ours and the Seattle flight that was supposed to leave before ours. Their flight is finally canceled and everyone crowds the downstairs ticket desk. Ours is canceled minutes later. We wait in line for about 30 minutes while a ticket agent comes down the line and cheerfully suggests we call Horizon's toll free reservation number. I do. The number refers us to a second number. The second number announces that they are too busy and hangs up on me.

11:00 PM: The upstairs ticket desk in the main terminal opens up to help people. Everyone near the end of the line (including us) scurry upstairs. We are first in line after the two agents are taken. We wait for 20 minutes.

11:20 PM: Greasy kid in the leather duster several people behind us starts screaming at the top of his lungs and hitting things with his umbrella. I go downstairs and get our checked luggage back.

11:30 PM: We are rebooked for the earliest available flight, which is the next day (Sunday) at 5:25 PM. We leave the airport and get a taxi. Because the delay is due to weather, Horizon will not put us up for the night.

12:00 AM: Taxi drops us off at Grandma Shirley's house. Tyler knocks and rings the doorbell, but she cannot hear us. Or she does hear us and is maybe calling the police?

12:15 PM: We gather our stuff and walk two blocks through the snow to Michael's house. Tyler rings the doorbell several times. Nobody hears us. I start to cry because I have completely used up my reserves for the day and I am absolutely exhausted, we have no access to a phone, and I am sort of hoping the police will come because then I can sleep in jail.

12:30: We decide waking up one person in the middle of the night is better than waking up five, and walk back to Grandma Shirley's house. Tyler rings the doorbell, knocks, and calls through the door until she lets us in. "You poor dears!" she exclaims. Hot chocolate and showers ensue.

Then I slept for 12 hours.

So, that's the deal. Still in Boise, but at least safe with family. I have never, and I mean NEVER, had to fight so hard to get every leg of a journey to work.