Monday, December 19, 2005

Toasty Warm Adventuring

Yesterday did not go as planned for a great many people in the Portland Metro area. Fortunately, my friends and I are of the type that would rather make an adventure of an unexpected circumstance than suffer through it. So, if you want a story, read on….

Cate and Victor were moving yesterday, and John and I offered to help, so Cate came by and picked us up in the morning. We completed one load with the U-Haul and then went to lunch, all the while remarking on how freezing cold! it was outside, and wondering what weather the day would bring. There was a winter storm warning that was supposed to go into effect at 6:00 p.m., so we figured we could get in a second load in the afternoon and get the U-Haul back safely, since they expressly forbade driving it in the snow. Well, it started snowing while we were at the restaurant. By the time we finished lunch the wind was blowing snow across the streets, creating the most amazing visual effects. We decided to get chains for the car before going back to their house and deciding what to do about moving.

A good while later we at last arrived at Fred Meyer, only to discover that they had sold out of chains within an hour of the start of the snow. And the Les Schwab just down the street was closed, of all days to be closed! Fortunately, two of Cate’s other friends were on their way to help with moving, and happened to have a spare set of chains, so we decided to wait for them at Fred Meyer rather than trying to drive anywhere without chains (Victor had never seen snow, much less driven in it, and though he was doing a fine job, we didn’t want to push it). So we hung out at Fred Meyer for twenty minutes or so waiting for them to show up. John and I finally decided that our best course of action would probably be to go out and catch a bus back downtown, because there was no other way we could guarantee getting home that night. So, out in the cold we went to wait for the bus.

We were very happy to see a bus approaching almost as soon as we got to the stop (walking backwards against the wind blowing snow in our faces). Unfortunately, the bus got stuck pulling out from the stop before ours, and just sat there, blocking the lanes diagonally. After about twenty minutes another bus came along behind, and just sat behind the first for some time. We decided to walk down and investigate, figuring we could at least be sitting on a warm bus while we waited for them to move. The driver of the second bus said that his bus wasn’t stuck, but that he couldn’t get by the first bus, so we were stuck either way. We sat on the bus warming up for a few minutes and then started reconsidering our plan of action. We were hearing estimates of up to seven hours for getting downtown by bus, which was not acceptable. John looked outside at all the traffic in the snow and said, “Well, we could walk.” I said I’d be up for it if I had some goggles, so we decided to make a day of it.

Fortunately, we were still at Fred Meyer, so we got out of the bus and crossed the street again, push-starting a few cars that were spinning their wheels in the snow (I forgot to mention – all of this is happening on a relatively steep incline, so lots of people were getting stuck). We bought motorcycle goggles, thermals and extra wool socks and gloves, and used the fitting rooms to bundle ourselves up. And then we walked.

Now, this Fred Meyer is in Tigard. We live in downtown Portland. It’s not a long trip by car (Yahoo maps estimates 8 minutes), but it’s different when you’re walking in the snow. We hopped around making funny footprint patterns in the snow, and sang Christmas carols, somehow managing to remember all the verses to “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and completely butchering several others. We were really quite nice and toasty warm with two or three pairs of socks and gloves each, warm thermals and hats and goggles, though I’m sure we looked a ridiculous pair. It was quite amusing. We got to Barbur Transit Center in about an hour, and not a single bus had passed us. We decided to keep walking, since the likelihood of a bus coming down that route anytime soon was not high. We decided to follow a different bus route that was more likely to be running. Right then, we looked and saw that very bus passing the stop closest to us, still a few blocks away. So close, but so far away. But it proved that that route was running, so we decided to follow it anyway and catch the next bus.

So we walked. We were now on back roads rather than the main drag, which was much more pleasant. I suggested making snow angels in people’s driveways, but we probably would have gone through the snow and scraped the pavement, so we didn’t. (There really wasn’t that much snow, but people here don’t know how to drive in it [and, yes, I include myself in this category], so it’s a big deal.) We walked and we walked and were still toasty warm. We arrived in Multnomah Village and thought about stopping by Cate and Victor’s new house, but decided against it on the grounds that they would be absolutely horrified that they had let us try to take the bus and that we were still not home and that we were walking home. We stopped at the main bus stop in the village and called TriMet’s transit tracker number to see if there would be a bus coming soon, and learned that that route was being diverted from that section of the route and was going Barbur instead – the street we’d been walking on originally! So we decided to book it back to Barbur, because there was a bus due in a few minutes.

Well, we were almost to Barbur and could see the overpass where it crossed the road we were on. And we saw the bus go by. So close. By that time we had pretty much used up all our lunch fuel, so we stopped at Safeway and bought some snacks to provision us for the rest of the trip. We thought about calling a cab, but there’s no way we could have gotten one that night. We went to the bus stop outside Safeway to see if there was a bus coming, and waited for ten minutes or so, talking to another guy waiting there. By this time it was about 7:30 or 8:00, and we were really feeling the need to be back home, especially since John had to be up early for work in the morning. So I called Anne and Bob, who live about half a mile from the Safeway, and pleaded for a ride home. She said, “Why don’t you come over and have some soup, and we’ll figure something out?” to which invitation I gladly responded, “Yes, please!” So we walked over there and had warm soup and bread and hung out with them and Janet for a while. After much discussion of possible ways to get us home (the first suggestion being that we stay overnight at Janet’s house), we settled on Bob driving us in Janet’s car, the most snow-worthy vehicle available, dropping Janet off at home on the way, and then Janet could walk over and pick up the car in the morning.

So we didn’t walk all the way home, but by that time we were very grateful for a ride. I think our total walking distance was probably about four miles, mostly uphill (no exaggeration – but that was actually better than downhill). We finally got home, safe and sound and still toasty warm, around 9:15, having begun our journey at Fred Meyer at 5:30. It’s a good thing we like adventures!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Welcome Yule!

I volunteered at the Revels this weekend, for the Saturday and Sunday evening shows and strike on Sunday night. I love strike -- we get to take things apart and haul heavy pieces of stage and scenery and props around in tank tops in the freezing cold, clear night. I got nicknamed "GI Jane" by one of the stagehands, and had way too much fun running all over the place and getting myself very sore for today. :P

The Revels show itself was good as well, though I had to miss the first few bits because of ushering duties. The female soloist had the most gorgeous voice you could imagine, and the chorus was strong on vocals as well. And the sword dance was..... Wow. Absolutely incredible. They used Papa Stour, a wonderful seven-person longsword dance that I can't quite find the right adjective for. It made me wish I was in the sword dance again this year. My favorite song is always the Sussex Mummers Carol, the song sung at the end of every Revels show in every city every year. That was the part that really brought me back to memories of being in the Revels last year, and remembering being on stage for that song. It was a good time.

I wanted to share the last bit of the show before the Sussex Mummers Carol, written by Dick Lewis (I believe - he wrote the rest of the script, so I'm assuming he wrote this bit as well). It was in last year's script, and I was so glad to hear they used it again this year. It really gets to the heart of Solstice and makes me love the wintertime even more. I know it's not quite Solstice yet, but it's on my mind, so here it is:

The Shortest Day

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them,
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land;
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Well, that’s it. I just turned in the last final exam of my undergraduate career. Yep, you’ve got it – I’ve finally graduated. Isn’t it amazing? And you thought I’d never get around to getting that piece of paper. Well, I haven’t actually gotten the piece of paper yet (in fact, I’m not even sure how I’m supposed to get it….), but the important part is, I’m done with all the work! Hooray!

Now it’s on to finding a job, which should be an exciting challenge. No, I’m not going to be an anthropologist, despite the fact that that’s the degree I just completed (well, alright, it was a double major in anthropology and social sciences, but I don't think I'm going to be a social scientist either). But don’t ask me what I am going to be, because I won’t be able to tell you that until I become it. :P

And, in case you’re curious, yes, I am going to be a student forever. I applied for post-bac admission at PSU and signed up for classes next quarter, so I’m all set to keep learning forever and ever. Hooray! And this way I don’t have to move! Double Hooray! I worked out the math and figured it would cost just about the same amount to move off campus and not take classes as it would to pay for eight credits (the minimum to qualify for student housing) and stay on campus. No contest – if it’s going to cost the same to learn as to not learn, by golly, what do you think I’m going to choose? :)

That’s about it for now. I’m a happy Lacey, looking forward to enormous amounts of cooking, baking, knitting and reading in the coming month. Oh, yeah, and job hunting…

Happy Thursday!

Current Magnetic Poetry:

sail through the lingering window
of yesterday
meet the torrent of the present
and reach out to catch
the translucent boquet
of tomorrow