Lunch at a Chinese restaurant downtown today with Mom and a friend – Dianne got the top fortune, and I got the bottom one. Well played, Fortune Cookie. Well played.
As my last post anticipated, a week or so ago my son and his grandpa went for a hot air balloon ride. On Friday they were instructed to meet at 7:00 a.m. at site “W”, a church in West Salem. (The church has a sign that says “Drive-In Church”. I’m still trying to figure out how that works…) The balloon van arrived and the crew started unpacking. The whole process of unpacking and blowing up the balloon took about a half hour – I’m always impressed when people accomplish such big things in so little time!
The whole balloon is in this bag!
Cold air is blown into the balloon with a fan:
The burner is fired up and hot air is blown in:
Balloon is up and they’re ready to go!
I had planned to spend the morning checking out some estate sales, or rushing home to take photos if the balloon was going to come our way. But, the winds were “light and variable” and the balloon floated off toward downtown. I was snapping away when one of the crew asked if I wanted to come with them in the chase van. Yes!
When they call it a “chase” vehicle, they aren’t exaggerating. There’s a sign on the back of the van that says “Warning: Frequent Stops and Indecisions!” While we zoomed and stopped and looked and went around the block and zoomed the other way, Dad and Ben were floating over the river looking down at the Oregon State Capitol building with the Gold Pioneer on top, and all of downtown Salem; and listening to the balloon pilot, Jim Desch, guide them through their aerial tour. Jim, who owns Balloon Flying Service of Oregon, has been flying since 1989 and knows every possible landing spot in the area. They estimated that this spot would work so Cecil pulled the van in here and stopped:
But…oops! The winds changed direction and we had to jump in the van and take off to the east, where there was a nice big field next to the city shops.
It cleared the wires effortlessly (although from the ground it looked like they were coming in right on top of them!)
A perfect landing!
Time to pack up…
At the top of the balloon – it’s 200°F on this end!
They wrap straps around the balloon and then pack it into the bag…
They have to squish it so it will fit in the van!
When everything was packed up we all rode in the van back to the launch site, and took our cars to Wallace Marine Park in West Salem for the traditional champagne or sparkling cider breakfast. Jim graciously invited me to join in, (but only those who flew in the balloon were allowed to have champagne)!
Setting up for breakfast.
Ben wanted to go throw a rock in the river (ka-bloop!)…
Before breakfast, Jim introduced the champagne toast with a history of ballooning…
…and presented Dad and Ben with framed Certificates of Ascension! (They also got to keep the champagne cups with the little balloons on them!)
Breakfast included croissants with strawberry cream cheese or chive cream cheese, crackers and a cheese spread, chocolates, and brownies. For beverages we could choose hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles or coffee. Everything was delicious, and I was enjoying the meal and the conversation (mostly about Jim’s former career – monument making) so much I completely forgot to take any photos of the food!
I JUST realized that the whole time Ben and Dad were on their balloon ride and I was in the chase van, I didn’t once think of the song “Up, Up and Away” until just now when I was trying to invent a title for this post. Can you believe it?
(Sorry about the weird fonts in this post. I can’t figure out what happened, and it won’t let me edit the font sizes!)
These photos were taken 2 weeks ago, I was in bed and heard the WHOOOOSH! of the balloon burner and ran outside to the porch to take a photo since it was flying so low. As I was waving enthusiastically at the people in the gondola I realized I was still in my nightie and had sleep hair…but the people were turned the other way so I don’t think they saw me (whew!) This balloon often flies over our house and has had to make a few emergency landings in our neighborhood. This time it was aiming for a church parking lot but ended up in someone’s yard instead!
Anyway, the other day my dad called and invited my son and me to go for a balloon ride in this very balloon! (It’s on Dad’s “bucket list”, last year he and Ben went on the Slingshot ride at the Fair, and he has been skydiving about once a year for the past 4 years. Dad had to miss skydiving and the rafting trip this year because of problems with his heart, and he was quite disappointed! Now he’s good to go, though!)
After the balloon flight there is a picnic continental breakfast with champagne or sparkling cider. It sounds like so much fun. I would LOVE to go. But, last time I was up high (Ferris wheel) I had a small panic attack and couldn’t stand to look. Since there isn’t room to sit down and hide in the balloon gondola and I don’t want to be a party-pooper, I decided not to go this time. My logical brain wants to go, but my bipolar brain is a total spoilsport.
So, Ben will be going with his grandpa bright and early tomorrow morning – there are multiple start points so they will find out tonight where they start (depends on the weather and wind). He is super excited. It’s so great that Grandpa includes Ben in all his adventures. I’m going to have him text me if they are going over our house so I can go out and wave and get a photo! It’ll be awesome!
While we were in California, my son Ben got to visit with my cousins’ daughters, I~ and A~. A few days before we arrived Aunt S~ had taken I~ to this abandoned slaughterhouse down the road from her house, out in the middle of Central California farm country, to look around.
As you can see, it has been turned into a sort of work of art by graffiti artists and paintball aficionados. Big blank walls, all sorts of places to hide…who could blame them? Since I~ had all sorts of fun poking around there by herself, she thought it would be even more fun with her cousins and therefore insisted that Aunt S~ take them down to the slaughterhouse so they could explore, even though Aunt S~ had done her best to convince I~ that the place was full of hobos.
Unfortunately for the kids, I went along and cramped their style.
The photo above only shows part of what’s on the property. There are some other small buildings, one of which we headed toward after we got out of the car. We walked in its direction until we saw a dozen rats scurry out the door. The girls chucked that idea and we made our way to the main building.
The owners of this marvelously attractive nuisance obviously don’t swing by to check on it very often, so besides being used as a graffiti gallery/paintball arena/home of various carriers of rabies, it is also used as a convenient place to dump that trash that is just so hard to get rid of:
Note how the tires, stove, and other debris have also been covered with graffiti and paintball splats, so they don’t subtract from the ambience of the place.
As the kids practically leapt into the building to examine this nifty masterpiece here, they were accosted by a pigeon, which led to a few seconds of shrieking and declarations of how much they disliked birds.
In this photo, Ben is standing just under a piece of the wood door framing that was completely consumed with dry rot and hanging at an alarming angle (not sure why I didn’t get a photo of that)…
Next they went into another room, where they found this…
But all I saw was this…
I didn’t take any photos of myself, but I probably looked something like this:
But the kids didn’t UNDERSTAND.
Needless to say, I did not let the kids go up the stairs. I couldn’t see the stairs but they were most certainly rickety, and I’m sure there really WERE hobos up there. Scary, stinky hobos. And bats. Not the nice bats that eat mosquitoes, but deranged, rabid bats. Big ones, like on “The Bat People”. Thankfully we made it home alive.
Two and a half years ago I wrote a post about a local Pacific Power public service television commercial I remember seeing as a child (read the post “Kite Man” here for reference). Today, I am incredibly pleased to announce that the video, after being lost for years, is finally on the internet! Thanks, Jason Rouse, and thanks to Rob for letting us know where to find it! Here it is:
Over the last couple of years I’ve realized that I’m not the only one who wanted to see this again and show it to the next generation. It is one of the most read posts on my blog, and there are numerous Facebook pages about the subject, including this one: Search For the Kite Man.
How many of you hear the word “frogs” and still automatically respond “I like frogs.”?
My son, my parents, and I just returned from a trip to California to celebrate my Aunt S~’s 70th birthday. On the way home we decided to stop at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. You drive your car through the park, stopping where you like to watch the animals. The big cats – lions, tigers,and cheetahs – used to roam about like the the rest of the animals but are now all behind fences so I couldn’t get clear photos of them. Same with the elephants. But, my son got great photos of one non-vegetarian type – you’ll see them at the end of the post! Here are some of the critters we saw.
Rhinoceros derrieres. The sign said to keep “3 car-lengths away” from the rhinos. It wasn’t a problem, as they turned their pointy noses up at us and then ignored us completely.
The elands didn’t seem to mind our car…
Giraffes are easy to spot (bwaha!)
It was lunchtime for many of the critters when we were there:
Here’s a llama…
And last, but certainly not least, these guys:
In so many of the new kids’ cartoons there are classic culture references that the kids (and probably many adults my age) just don’t get, and when I see these I am compelled to ask my kids, “Do you know why that’s funny?”
Today my son and I are were watching “Courage the Cowardly Dog”. There was a scene where Courage and a Bigfoot got in a food fight, and at the end of the food fight they both had piles of fruit on their heads and skirts made of bananas and were dancing the samba. I said something like “Ha ha, Carmen Miranda!” and Ben said something like “Huh?!” so I made him watch this video because I feel it is my responsibility to teach him everything I can possibly think of.
Ben and I were at the bank drive-up ATM today and I was telling him “Now, when you’re at the ATM be sure to keep your car doors locked, and look around to make sure nobody is sneaking up to take your money, etc. etc.” and he said “Yes, I know, that’s the third time you told me!” I think I’ll make him watch this video a couple more times just so he doesn’t forget who Carmen Miranda is.
Watch the video, then try not to sing and dance. It’s impossible, the samba is irresistible! La la la la la chica chica boom chic!! Boom ch’boom boom boom ch’boom…
As I was searching for pictures to use for my new blog décor, I found the following interesting tea-related things.
(My parents have this mug, which used to belong to my grandparents. It is one of my favorite things ever. EVER. The way Mr. Froggie peeks up out of your unsuspecting guest’s coffee is just perfect!)
And behold, the Green Tea KitKat!
Have any of you had one of these? I can’t imagine what it would taste like. If the KitKat article on Wikipedia is correct, they also come in “Cantaloupe” in Japan. And “Blueberry”. And…er…”Apple Vinegar”. Hmm, I’m thinking stocking stuffers for the person who has everything…
Look at this tea cupcake from Zalita’s Cupcake D’Lights! Remarkable. Hand-painted teapot and cup! Tiny cupcake and jelly roll! And don’t miss her tea table cake HERE – tiny sandwiches! And tablecloths!
This one is for Mom:
Saw this gentleman yesterday while coming back from the pumpkin patch with my friend and her daughter…
Harley guy on a Vespa, or Vespa guy with a Harley jacket? Judging by the shoes, I’d say the latter. Did he borrow his friend’s jacket? Did he borrow his friend’s Vespa? Did the salesman convince him a Vespa was just more practical? What do you think?