Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Amazing Halloween Fun

In the previous post, I drove from Bend to Walla Walla, spent a few days, then to Tri-Cities for just one night.

I got up at 6:00, and was on the road by 6:30.  The night before, I'd mentioned to my sister and her roommate that I didn't really know for sure which route to take, but I'd just follow what the GPS said.  My sister said there were two routes that took about the same length of time--boring freeway, and slightly more interesting highway.  So I chose the winding highway to Vantage, then to Ellensburg and over Snoqualmie Pass.

I found my way to my dad's house with the help of my brother and immediately got started helping him and his girlfriend prepare for the Halloween party they were having six and a half hours later.  You see, they had been out of town until Thursday night, and planned a Halloween party on the only night you can really have such a party when Halloween falls on a Wednesday--the Saturday night prior.  They had gotten quite a bit done, but the final decorating, food prep, and game-planning still needed to occur.  My dad's girlfriend, C, has approximately 4,206 bins of Halloween decorations--it's only her favorite holiday.  :-)  So we decorated, cooked, and planned the game.

Oh yes, so my dad, as a fan of the Amazing Race, wanted to adapt it into a party game that was, as he said, JUST like the one on TV, with a few small differences.  I ran through the main pieces of it with him to "vet" it for feasibility and to see how long the different heats (aka "legs" in the TV version--see?  small differences) would take.

Finally, it was time to get dressed, help my dad into his makeup, and greet the guests, some of which the host and hostess didn't even recognize because of their elaborate masks/costumes.  (The invitations had only specified that masks were required, but some people were either very ambitious or heading to a full-costume party afterward, and had full costumes on.)

So, without further ado, some party pictures with a description of the game interspersed:

This couple were friends with my parents something like 27-28 years ago!

The dessert table!  The little pumpkins in the back have "dirt pie" in little cups inside the pumpkins, there were a variety of cookies and brownies, and the "grave" on the right is a pan of caramel corn with a headstone.

Just a TINY portion of C's Halloween collection!

My dad, aka Frankenstein's monster

Some people took "mask" to mean face makeup, and others took it to mean glasses.  It's all good.

Mmm...Sewer Water!  Looked incredibly authentic, actually.  It's Dr. Pepper mixed  with orange juice, and in this case, a decent helping of vodka.  There are also a few "turds" made of Tootsie Rolls, but unfortunately, they sink.  But apparently, eventually dissolve and add a chocolatey flavor to the mixture.

The non-alcoholic drink, Pond Scum.  Not quite sure the ingredients, but I think it  was cranberry-based.

Dad, explaining the Amazing Halloween Race

The first heat started with a quiz, and the first team to answer was given their scavenger hunt list.  This provided some incentive to answer correctly and quickly--a head start on the other teams for the scavenger hunt.  There were eight teams, and eight sets of items hidden throughout the house.  There was foreign currency hidden in a pirate skull, small uncarved pumpkins, "animal bits" in the pantry (jars with their labels replaced with hand-written ones), "dead animals" (stuffed animals) in a bucket in the cellar, and probably a few other things.

It wasn't quite dark yet, so the cellar wasn't as creepy as it could have been, but it was still pretty cool.  There is a wall in the center of the main area, dividing it into two areas, plus a third area with the water heater, etc., and I put a bucket at the far end of each of them so people would have to walk in and check them for the "dead" animals.  Dad had unscrewed most of the lights in the basement, but I replaced the remaining ones with colored bulbs and also plugged in a couple strings of (dim) Halloween-colored lights to provide just a bit of light.

Someone happened to have a flashlight, so I let her use it.

After the first heat, it was narrowed from eight teams down to six.  The next heat started with another sort of hunt, this time the players had a sheet with clues and blanks to fill the answers in on, and they lined up with a  Halloween-themed word spelled vertically.  In the order they finished that task, they got to line up for the task of shooting at pumpkins...

...with a SPUD GUN!

My brother (the pilot--that's his actual uniform from when he WAS a pilot for all of like five minutes until he was furloughed when the airline started tanking) loaded the gun and told players how to shoot, and they went for it.


The first four to hit a target with the spud gun (if they missed, they had to go to the back of the line) moved on to the next round--first charades to get their teammate to guess the title of a scary movie...
...ride a broom from one end of the house to the other, tandem--and this was quite a trek--my dad's house has a very interesting layout, and this route involved crossing the dining room, living room, kitchen, eating area, down a looong hallway, around a corner, a few steps further before turning into a room, across the room, and to this windowsill, where they had to use their mouths to pluck an apple from the windowsill...

...carry it in their mouths back to where they'd started with the broom, while still riding it tandem, by the way...

...so they could "sweep" the apple back down that whole route into the room they'd gotten it from and into a small trash can turned on its side.  After this round, two more teams were eliminated, so only the top two teams had the pleasure of continuing on to the next round.  And as I reminded them, there's a type of competition that's nearly always included in the final episode of the TV version of Amazing Race...

...an eating competition!  Sorry for the large photo (you can click it to view it even larger, I think), but these tasty treats deserve to have readable labels.

The champagne flutes, from left to right, contain:

  • Bovine Ovaries (Longan fruit in syrup--ours wasn't THAT brand, though!  I've had this fruit fresh in Thailand, but hadn't tried it canned.  It kind of has the texture of the canned maraschino cherries from fruit cocktail, and the flavor is sweet and mild, not unpleasant)
  • Ghost Testicles (Palm seed in very heavy syrup, it was seriously very thick and sticky but actually quite tasty.  I think I also had this in Thailand, and it's not unheard of to use it in desserts there.)
  • Lizard Eyeballs (Hard-boiled quail eggs canned in brine.  I thought they were too rubbery to enjoy, but my dad helped himself to quite a few after the contest was over.)
  • Werewolf Boogers (Pickled grapes, which were VERY sour, but wouldn't be bad in moderation mixed into a dish in which their powerful flavor can be appreciated.)
The little bowls contained:
  • Monster Dandruff (Strips of dried and/or fried fish skin or fish something-or-other.  Many of the other foods were purchased from a local Asian market specifically for this contest, but my brother raided his pantry at home for these--his wife, who is from Thailand, brings them home whenever she visits because she enjoys them.)
  • Fish Food (Fish-flavored balls with the texture of cheese balls, but they smelled EXACTLY like the fish flakes you feed to fish; I can't find a link for these, but they were also from my sister-in-law's snack stash)
  • Witch Intestines (So-called "sweetened" dehydrated radish, which was actually quite salty, not at all sweet, and a little bit sour [this one says salted, but ours said sweetened on the label].  They had the look of a very flaccid cadaver penis or other tubular organ (seriously--they were exactly the color of a preserved anatomy cadaver).  We added the pieces we weren't using in the eating contest to the bucket of guts people needed to pull their clues out of earlier in the game.
There were three pieces of the final stage--the eating contest (any combination of the partners could eat the food, so long as all of the food disappeared down their gullets), a relay race with on partner carrying a severed head on a tray and the other running with it held between their thighs, and scooping candy corn from a bowl to a mug across the room via a spoon.  Because there was only one severed head, one team started with that, then did the other two tasks, and the other team did the other two tasks first and ended with that task, so since they weren't racing head-to-head, neither team knew if they were ahead or behind until it was over.

After the Amazing Race ended, the food was ready, and general partying continued.

This guy and his wife won the award for best dessert.

This was the best costume.
I can't believe I didn't get a photo of them with their award, but the guy with the nerd glasses and his wife in the white jacket won the whole thing.  Woo!

The spread.  And what a spread it was!  Pierogis, stuffed grape leaves, egg rolls, potstickers, curry, coconut shrimp, spicy cornbread muffins, and a few other things I'm not remembering right now.  They all had creatively creepy names I'm having a hard time remembering.  The shrimp were warlock knuckles.  One of the items (potstickers?) was shredded brains, the pierogis, which had shredded cheese on them, were something to do with sinus scrapings...

My brother came with a mask, too.  :-)  (He couldn't actually wear it for more than 10 seconds without it  fogging up, but it was clever in any case.)

The party was quite a success.  The next morning, I hung out longer than I probably should have, chatting and intermittently finding a couple items to clean up.  But I needed to hit the road, because the lady was coming to look at Trigger sometime that day, and would be getting a vet check the next morning, so I wanted to get home by sunset to be able to see him and say goodbye and so forth.  It was raining REALLY hard most of the way.  At some point during the drive, Trigger's trainer texted me then called me to tell me that the lady had come to see him, but thought he was lame.  Neither she (the trainer) nor her husband could see what she was saying, so who knows if she's just REALLY astute or if she just didn't like him for some other reason and that was the excuse she gave.  So back to the drawing board on that one.  She re-posted him on Craigslist, his former owner re-posted it to an endurance group on Facebook, and I re-posted it to the endurance group's Yahoo page and also added some photos to the Dreamhorse ad.  Here's hoping!

Anyway...it was really raining on the drive home, especially west of the Cascades.

But the scenery was really pretty!

Back on the dry side of the mountains, it wasn't raining quite as much, but there were still some dramatic clouds.

Thus endeth the Trigger update, travelogue, and Halloween party.

Monday, October 29, 2012


So, I was poking around on Craigslist, looking for the ad Trigger's trainer posted so I can post it on a few online forums, and found this ad:

You can click to enlarge it, I think, but here's the text:

Yeller is 10 years old and stands 15.1 hands tall he is really broke and in the bridle can really turn around and spin has a big stop on him as well i bought him in Texas 5 years ago where he was used in a feedlot for a couple years he is to broke for beginners to ride but not for advanced riders he is 100% guranteed sound as well he loves working cattle and has been branded on as well please call 541XXXXXX or email thanks 

Ignoring the run-on sentence(s) and spelling of "guranteed," what on ear do they mean that he is "to" broke for beginners but not for advanced riders?  Do they think broke means UN-trained?  As in, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"?

There's another ad that's not worth screen capping, because it doesn't have any photos, but they are careful to describe the horse as "black bay with a small belly spot."  I know when I'm looking for a horse to buy, I don't care about its conformation, or actually even looking at its color with my own eyes, I just want to be sure it has a little spot on its belly.


Back to Travelogue mode for the most part, though there are Trigger updates spattered throughout as well...

The first installment is my trip to Walla Walla, WA (see, NOW the title makes sense, including the silly capitalization), though I guess I'll start a bit earlier...

My mechanic is my ex-boyfriend.  He's the only one I trust to work on my car, so I've gotten through the awkwardness of the first few visits after our (amicable) breakup, but I still sometimes put off contacting him longer than I should.  I knew I was coming due for an oil change AND going on a long driving trip soon, but still somehow put off contacting him until the day before I was planning to leave.  He had time to fit me in on Tuesday morning before I headed out, though, so it all worked out.

Until he came in after working on my car to tell me I was still down a quart of oil, even after he'd fixed an oil leak at the previous visit.  I asked what we do about that, and he said "start looking for a new car," but when I looked appalled at that recommendation, he backpedalled and said it'll probably still last a while, but yeah, it's not super great.  Also, my left rear tire was low, and he'd filled it, but there was a screw in it, so I should get that fixed before I drove all over the northwest.  Great.

I headed to Costco (which is where I bought my tires), but they were still closed.  I ran a few other errands, and by the time I got back there, I was now quite a few people back in line, and they asked if I could just drop my car off and leave it for a while.  Well, no, I wouldn't be able to do that on a normal day, but especially not today since I was hoping to be a few hundred miles away before dark.  They operate on a strict "first come, first served" basis, but said they might be able to do a quick tire change for me if I had a full-sized spare.  I figured that with my luck, I had only a donut, but I went out and looked in the trunk, and lo and behold, I actually had a full-sized spare!  Of course, it's ancient (well, I didn't buy it, and I bought the car almost five years ago now).  They replaced it, though, and sent me on my way.

I stopped by the trainer's to drop off some feed for Trigger, and stood there while he ate, petting him and chatting with the trainer.  She's really pleased with the progress he's made there, and is excited to find him his perfect home.  I don't love that I'm having to sell him, both financially and emotionally, but it IS for the best, so I hope he finds a wonderful home soon.

Then, finally, I was on my way.  When I have time to spare, I sometimes stop along the way to take photos, but I was already going to get to my mom's house after dark and after dinner time, so I only stopped once, and only for a few minutes, in Shaniko.  It's pretty close to the middle of nowhere, and in fact pretty close to the middle of the northern hemisphere (there's a sign not too far past Shaniko that says you're crossing the 45th parallel - exactly halfway between the north pole and the equator, as the crow flies).

I couldn't decide between these two photos--which do YOU like better?

Cool old truck.  I really liked the clouds I had as a backdrop this time.  Usually it's clear blue skies, which are great, but boring, or overcast, which is also boring.

There are two "fastest" ways to get from Bend to Walla Walla.  Unfortunately, it's not possible go go STRAIGHT there (or at least, not quickly), so both routes involve going nearly due north to the Columbia River, then following it a ways.  You can either continue going east all the way to Pendleton, then go north again for the final stretch, or you can go north to Umatilla, then east along the river once again, winding through the hills along the river.  Both ways are scenic in their own way (once they diverge--there's a long boring stretch for a while there before you choose which way to go), but I usually take the Umatilla route.  So this time, I went the Pendleton way for a change.

It was an interesting trip--I hit some rain along the way, but it made for some dramatic cloudscapes!

I arrived safely at my mom's house a bit after dark.  My step-sister, whose daughter my mom babysits, was due the prior Thursday with their second child, a boy.  I'd mostly finished a sweater for him before I arrived, but the big sister, V, got to help with the finishing touches, and we gave it to the parents Wednesday at lunchtime.

There were some gorgeous fall colors visible right from the living room.

At some point during the week, the trainer Trigger is staying with contacted me to say that she'd given my number to someone who expressed interest in him and wanted to talk with me directly (the trainer is helping me sell him, on commission, but the potential buyer wanted to hear about him straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak).  I called her, and figured I'd probably scared her off with my talk of the bucking and so on, but the trainer let me know later that the potential buyer would be driving up from Grants Pass to look at him on Sunday, and had a vet check scheduled for Monday.  My heart pounded at the thought of him driving away in a trailer as soon as Monday, but of course it's for the best for all of us.

Thursday night, the whole crew (my mom and step-dad, my step-sister, her husband, their daughter (and their son, as a parasite), my grandma, and me) went out for Thai food.  My step-brother-in-law was taking a photo of my step-sister, to document the 41-week mark of her pregnancy, so I snapped a photo, too.

Isn't she beautiful?  Pregnancy suits her!

Mmmm...green curry with miniature eggplants and tofu.
Friday, I had meetings for work, so my mom took V on errands out of the house while I attended/held them from her dining room table.  I hung around for another couple hours after that, but no sign of the baby coming.  I was kind of disappointed not to get to meet him (yet), but such is life.

I drove an hour to my sister's house in Tri-Cities, in the rain, and after a mishap with me not listening when the GPS told me which way to go at an exit.  Oh well.

My sister had pre-warned me to call or text when I arrived rather than ring the bell, since it upsets the FOUR dogs.  (My sister owns two, her roommate owns one, and they foster a fourth.)  Her phone wouldn't have even started ringing yet when she appeared outside to meet me as I parked.  I started to get my stuff out of the car, and she told me not to yet.  They wanted to try something out.  Her roommate held the foster dog on a leash as I entered the house behind my sister.  He barked vehemently at first, but eventually settled a bit.  They gave him a treat and handed me a treat to give him, too.  Then I petted him.  He seemed to be accepting me.  But then he lunged and snapped RIGHT at my chest.  My shirt was covered in slobber, but luckily the fact that he was on leash saved me from a double mastectomy by dogbite.  They put him in his kennel, we watched a silly goofy movie--I highly recommend Air Collision if you enjoy laughing at the inaccuracies of cheesy disaster movies.  After the movie, he seemed to be fine with my presence in the house, at least from the kennel, but when my sister's roommate got him out to let him go potty, she kept him on the leash and led him around the living room to let him see and smell me from all angles, and once again, he settled in a bit, and I scratched his head and fed him a treat, immediately followed by him trying to take my ear off.  Guess the experiment didn't work out too well.

We sat around chatting and watching cheesy TV until midnight, when I had to get to bed, as I was getting up at 6:00 the next morning to go to my dad's house.  I was laying in bed, with the small dog on the bed with me, and the bedroom door open so she could leave if she wanted to (though I'm pretty sure she slept with me the whole night, which was nice since I missed having my cat sleeping on my bed).  My sister was watching TV, but had the volume down low enough that it wasn't bothering me.  But then I thought I heard her crying.  I wasn't sure, though.  But then I heard her voice on the phone.  I couldn't make out what she was saying entirely, but it seemed like it was about the dog, and soon enough, her roommate came out of her room, so I figured I'd join them out in the living room.  It turns out she was talking to someone she knows through one of the rescues she works with about him, and the options for training or rescues who would take a dog with his aggression issues.  My sister was worried about what might happen to him.  I feel bad for her--she LOVES dogs, but logically understands the risks involved with a dog who has no qualms about biting people, but is quite attached to this dog, and he's great with her, her roommate, and two of their three other dogs.

So it was 2:00 by the time I went to bed, and as usual when I have a short night, I tossed and turned a bit, apparently worried the alarm wouldn't go off.  But it did, I woke up, hit the road, and headed for my dad's house.

But I'll save that part of the journey for another day...