Thursday, July 27, 2006

Superior trip, part 1.

Last Friday after work, I drove up to Superior for what I was warned would be an "evening of intrigue" as concocted by Joe & Travis.

With these two at the helm, who knew what wonders awaited Shannon and I as we peered out her kitchen window, wondering why they were leaning on the car and not bothering to come knock on the door?

Long story short, after we went outside and snuck up on them, we were swept into the car and whisked away to....Sakana Sushi, in the Norm's Beers and Brats building downtown. Yes, a sushi bar at Norm's. The bar that is infamous for putting toy sharks & whales in their drinks. Trust me, the irony was not lost on us, either.
None of us had ever had sushi before. Two members of the group (Shannon & Joe) don't like fish. Me, I'm scared of wasabi. These factors could have made the selection of a sushi establishment problematic.

However--we discovered that sushi is tasty. VERY tasty. (And wasabi is avoidable, thank goodness. Or I would have died.)

We washed our sushi down with some sake--reminded me of painful cough medicine, but it did the trick.

Travis speaks (leaps?) for us all--the sushi was a hit.

Superior trip, part 2.

After the sushi (and before the sake had a chance to kick in), we were off to the one, the only...Applebee's. (*note sarcasm*) Home of the appletini. (Not to mention a fair amount of Bong memorabilia.)

Superior trip, part 3.

Post-appletinis, there's really only one thing left to do for a bunch of mid-20-somethings: go to the playground, of course!

Our playground of choice is the one by the S.S. Meteor on Barker's Island. Nice location, good views of the lake & the radio towers in Duluth, plus it's fairly secluded at night and there's nobody living nearby.

So we can be loud. And silly. Which comes so remarkably easy after one has downed two (or more) appletinis.

(For some reason, this sign struck us as being insanely creepy at the time, but re-reading it now I don't know why.)

Additional reasons why this playground is wicked awesome (in no particular order):

1. Giant spider-webby climbing thing made out of stetchy ropes.

2. Watching liquored-up people try to climb said giant spider-webby thing.

3. Big bell to ring.

4. The ground is covered in bright blue bits of shredded tires. TIRES = BOUNCY!!!

5. It's the perfect spot to stand looking menacingly back at Superior or Duluth, cackling to yourself like a supervillain.

Superior trip, part 4.

And a few random ones from downtown Duluth--a dead dragonfly, a possible Weird Al shout-out, and the Hulk doing what he does best at Robin Goodfellow.


Flannery's home, and doing A-OK. :+)

She had some big pink gauze things on her feet yesterday, which she removed in short order.
Now she's got some tape left stuck to the fur on her legs, which makes her look like a boxer.
And she may need to make like a boxer if she's going to keep Toivo off of her shelf from now on. (He developed quite the taste for it the night she was in the hospital.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

No more cat scratch fever.

Flannery went in to get declawed today.

(Front paws only.)

When I put her in her plastic carrier to drive her to the clinic, oh lord, she meowed herself hoarse. Maybe she thought I was driving her back to Montana, since that's the last time she laid eyes on the cursed box of doom (as I imagine she thinks of it).

(Although chances are she'd prefer another 20+ hour drive to Montana to the declawing.)

Generally, I'm against declawing cats. After all, cats don't scratch out of vindictiveness (uh, usually, haha), they do it out of instinct. It seems like a lot of pain to put an animal through for the sake of humans' convenience.

However, over the past few months, Flannery's uncontrollable desire to leap at moths by the window screens combined with her burning desire to plunge her sharp little digits into the wood paneling in my parents' living room have made this a necessary evil.

Flannery's an indoor cat, so in her case she doesn't really need her claws for self-defense (unless you count Toivo as a predator, which I don't, because the only thing that dolt can stalk successfully is his food bowl). What's more, she's most likely going to be living indoors inside of other people's houses/apartments for the rest of her days. If it were just a matter of my stuff getting clawed up, I wouldn't have gone this route. But when other people's walls/furniture/window coverings are paying the price, sometimes you've got to weigh out which is the lesser of two evils.

Declawing seemed to me to be lesser than eviction.

Upon returning home tomorrow, Flannery shall be receiving the utmost in follow-up care, including many delicious Pounce treats, a new catnip toy, and a new collar (with skull-and-crossbones all over it, arr!).

And, to top it all off, I'll be letting her leap at moths on the screens to her heart's content from now on. :+)

Friday, July 21, 2006

The World's Largest (Partially Buried) Badger

The badger. Wisconsin's state animal. (Historically, because much like the noble badger, early Wisconsin settlers lived in holes in the ground/hillsides until adequte above-ground dwellings could be built.) "Loyal." "Gentle." "Have an extraordinarily dangerous bite, which they are willing to use recklessly when threatened." "Short-legged and heavyset." The more I read, the more apt the nickname becomes. ;+)

(Brief sidebar: I love this quote from the link above: "There is also a proverb, 'Don't call a badger a bishop.' This is a warning not to confuse an obstinate underdog [such as a badger in badger-baiting] with a saint [e.g. bishop]. Resistance to a larger foe does not in and of itself constitute moral virtue -- 'rebels' can be just as nasty as the 'establishment.'")

Until this past weekend, the only place I'd ever seen a badger in the flesh was the time I visited Nick Anich at the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. Montana, of all places! A Sconny girl born & raised, seeing her first badger in Montana--I know badgers are elusive & all, but still, this was unacceptable. How everyone from Wilderness Walk to the Lake Superior Zoo failed in schooling me on badgers as a wee lass, I'll never understand.

But in Birnamwood, Wisconsin, the badgers are anything but elusive.

Glorious, no?

Yet still, he's a mere shadow of his former self.

(Old-school giant badger picture courtesy of World's Largest Roadside Attractions, which is chock-full of fiberglass treasures nationwide.)

You see, the World's Largest Badger used to be even MORE ferocious. (I know, hard to imagine!) Tall and menacing, he loomed over a gas station shaped like a log (with a not-so-menacing giant squirrel on top of it) until 1998, when the cruel winds of fate blew into town and turned the log from a gas station/tourist trap into...

The storage shed for a strip club.
The badger was cut down in size (I'm not sure how much of him is buried in the ground, exactly) and buried in a spot overlooking the highway. Then, at some point, the entrepreneurial spirit of the exotic dance club operators told them to build a fence in front of him. (?) Now, when one drives by "Northern EXposure" on Hwy 45, all they get is a mere glimpse of the badger from the road...

This is what happens when you pave paradise and put up a strip club.

But still, I am thankful that the proprietors of "Northern EXposure" kept our ol' buddy the badger at all--and hey, at least they haven't hung bras & g-strings off his claws or anything like that.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Nobody, no, nobody is gonna rain on my parade!

A representative smattering of photos from the perennial wonder that is the Ashland 4th of July parade:

Left: What do you do when you can't get Brett Favre to come to your parade? You do that.

Below left: To quote my mom, "I think you probably have to be blond to ride that float."

Below right: Gary LaPean on his stilts--he's been doing that for as long as I can remember.

Below: Inexplicable renaissance fair people! Knights...and a pirate strumpet? Where did they come from? I thought the nearest renaissance fair was down in the Twin Cities...? People dressed up as voyageurs and lumberjacks, we're used to--but not so much the pirate strumpets.

Left: Waylon & Willie. They're donkeys. My mom knows them. That's almost like knowing a celebrity or something.

Left: Another entry in a little game around here we like to call, "Can I buy a vowel?"

Pushing my "smile and nod" skills to the limit.

Early one morning shortly before the 4th of July, the office door creaked open and in walked the apparition to the left.

"What time do the Democrats open?" she squawked. (The county Democrats rent our basement office space and show up about once a week for their "A Lot of People for Dave Obey" meetings. I agree, not the best name, but that's probably the least of the Democrats' concerns right now.)

I told her that they were only in on Thursdays, after 5:00. Wrong answer.

"They really should keep regular office hours. It is our duty as Americans to be ever-vigilant against the tyranny of law enforcement."


But wait, there's more.

Apparently, several days before she showed up here, she got into an "altercation" with some people over a sign they had in their yard--one of those "Impeach Bush" placards that keep popping up. "I take that sort of thing very seriously," Crazy Lady says. "That is a serious charge to level against our Commander in Chief." So she got out of her pickup truck and walked over to the edge of the signkeepers' driveway.

And then she started yelling at their house.

"What do you mean by this?!? Freedom isn't free!!!" and so on. She got no response. So she decided to kick things up a notch. Literally.

"I could sense that the person was inside and just not answering the door, so I kicked their sign down and got in my truck to drive away."

At last, Crazy Lady had roused the homeowner into action--they ran to their screen door and yelled at her to get off their property, or they were calling the cops. Crazy Lady's response? Kick the sign again, give the sign-owner the finger, and scurry back to her truck to drive away.

But, there was one thing she hadn't counted on: the homeowner running out of their house and writing down her license plate number. By the time she got home, the cops were calling.

This has proven especially troublesome for Crazy Lady, because in addition to the disorderly conduct charge/fine levied against her for the sign-kicking, she's also embroiled in yet another peccadillo with the City. Something about her truck being towed from a no-parking zone.

"They had no right to tow my vehicle, and to take my stun gun in there, and to take my little wooden box, too. That box had a lid on it, and they had no right to open it without a search warrant. And I want my stun gun back, dammit!"

I don't know why her truck was towed. I don't know what she had in the box, although I think I could hazard a guess or two. I'm frankly a little terrified that she possessed a stun gun. And I'm still not 100% clear on why she came looking for the Democrats--maybe to yell at them about freedom for a while?

"I wanna move to Las Vegas next week to start my new life as a bartender, and I don't want to have this to deal with back here. And now the public defender won't even talk to me. I don't know who died and made him god. I'm part of the public, defend me!!"

"Are you a lawyer?" (No.) "Well, I want me one of them lawyers what really believes in the law. A lawyer who believes in truth, liberty, and justice for all. (in her head, I imagine that "America the Beautiful" is swelling in all its orchestral glory by this point) A lawyer who'll stick it to the government!" boss is the City Attorney. I don't think he'll be sticking it to the government for you anytime terribly soon.

By this point, Crazy Lady had spiraled down past the point where our conversation (if you can even call it that) was making much sense...deflated, she left with naught but a business card and her delusions.

Epilogue: Thirty minutes later, I left the office on my morning mail run to the post office and City Hall. Grabbed the mail from our P.O. box, walked down the block to City Hall, stepped inside...and THERE SHE WAS. CRAZY LADY!!! Yelling at Patti the receptionist, repeating everything she'd just come and harangued me about. I made eye contact with Patti, winced sympathetically, and backed right out of the building. One time's the charm with Crazy Lady.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Signs that Sarah might be taking the phrase "raise the roof" a bit too literally.

These were taken back on the 4th of July...Sarah's garage was roofless. Or, as I think Liz put it, "topless."