Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The last posting of 2008!

Ah snow.

Snow, snow, more snow. And then some. 

How many inches have accumulated here in the last 2 weeks? Fifty inches or more? I've lost track. All I know is that I've been trapped in the house, afraid to venture out. Spokane's plowing system isn't the most efficient, and people here don't like to shovel their sidewalks. I have taken a few slow waddly walks and taken the bus downtown twice (on Christmas Eve and today for a few hours). But mostly I've been watching cooking shows on PBS, Oprah, and misc. bad yet strangely compelling shows on the CW--Gossip Girl/90210/Privileged. I've also been crocheting, baking, and reading too: Ellen Klages' The Green Glass Sea and White Sands, Red Menace (thanks J! Love them). Baking: I made aniseplatzchen, pfeffernuse, janhagels (all from the Great Cookies cookbook by Carole Walter) and orange rolls for Christmas brunch. The aniseplatzchen was amazing and also a sort of culinary mystery: you whip 3 eggs with sugar for 50 minutes straight and you come out with these merengue-y cookies that separate into two layers--a crunchy outer layer and a soft inner layer. Amazing! But I don't recommend them unless you have a stand mixer.

A few interesting things to note: a few weeks ago, when we were walking Zuzu before the snowstorm hit, as we were walking by a neighbor's house, we noticed a strange sight: a baby kangaroo was bouncing around their fenced-in yard, wearing a red t-shirt. We thought--what the hell? It has to be illegal to own a kangaroo here. So we contacted Spokanimal, just in case (these same people keep a big black lab chained up outside all the time, with a tiny little doghouse--poor guy). Turns out that this kangaroo is known as a "Wallaroo" and is somewhat legal? as long as you register it? I don't know--sounds weird to me (what is that poor baby doing now with all the snow?). Zuzu was very curious--it's not a cat or a dog or a squirrel or a bird--so what the hell is it? 

Also: a bunch of mysterious white feathers strewn all over our back yard....(before the snow).

What else? Just waiting for this wiggly baby to squirm out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Europe will be more fun without you

"For me, 'high' is a place--and sometimes I want to go there." 

So started Rick Steves' talk about the legalization of marijuana--a lecture entitled "Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation."

How could I not go to this? It was free and featured my favorite PBS travel guide--someone I had spent late nights with in Rome, Paris, Croatia--someone who wears his signature black backpack and pleated khaki pants, his George H.W. wire-rimmed glasses and white tennis shoes with such sweetness and nerdiness. I was a little daunted by the long line outside the "Bing" theater on a cold October evening, not wanting to have to stand, as a pregnant lady, during the lecture. But I got a great seat in the balcony and settled down to hear my favorite travel guru talk about drugs. We watched a really cheesy infomercial-like film about decriminalizing marijuana, which featured Rick, of course, and it took all of my will-power to keep from giggling--the earnest looks on the actors'/audience members' faces, the clips from that 30's movie, Refer Madness, and a graphic of a spinning U.S. Constitution, which was written on--you guessed it--hemp paper! hurtling towards me on the screen. Wow! I think this film is online, if you really want to watch it (and giggle in the privacy of your own home).

But the best part was hearing Rick talk about the creative solutions to drug problems in Europe. He said a lot of public bathrooms in Zurich have blue lights, so drug addicts can't see their veins. He also said there are heroin maintenance clinics, where addicts can get their drugs safely and speak to a nurse or counselor at the same time. In France, apparently there are more boys than girls who use marijuana, because, the government thinks, boys are really afraid to talk to girls so they need something to relax them. The government decided to solve this problem by funding flirting seminars--to help boys hone their asking-out skills. 
He also used the word "shitfaced" when referring to the keggers that Scandinavian parents throw for their teenaged children about to graduate from high school (I wrote in my journal: I can't believe that R.S. just said "shitfaced"!).

I learned a lot--including that I love R.S. more than ever. He is really funny and intelligent in real life, a great speaker, and not a complete dork like he is on his show (but that's another reason why I love him). 

Here are some other notable quotes from his lecture:

"I try to find creative ways to get the word 'marijuana' in my guide books."

"There's nothing innovative about 'just say no.' 
(in reference to the 1980's war on drugs and the DARE program)

"Europe will be more fun without you."
(what R.S. thinks but doesn't say to an old man threatening to stop buying his guide books if he continues to support the legalization of marijuana).

I had to leave during the question and answer portion. The audience was filled with a combination of elderly folks interested in the medical uses of marijuana and a bunch of college-aged pot-heads who would go up to the microphone and, in that drug-induced stoner drawl, meander on an on about the merits of marijuana and how beautiful it is, etc. etc. The old people would start their diatribes with: "I have this problem with (fill in the blank some medical condition) and my doctor says (blah blah blah) and if I only had access to medical marijuana (etc.).....

And, of course he ended his talk with, "Happy Travels!"