Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

I like baseball. Games are fun, there’s great team spirit, and as we have all learned from Season 2, Episode 1 of Sex and the City:

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Deep down, I’m still an East Coast girl, and so I like the Red Sox. And living in Washington, it’s obviously that the Red Sox are barely a concern to the Mariners fans (and vice versa). The Seahawks-Patriots hate is an entry for another day, but safe to say, I can wear something that has the “B” or something that says Red Sox on it, and not feel the hatred of a thousand suns when I go to the grocery store.

By a stroke of luck, I managed to get myself invited to a Mariners game, with some friends, of whom we will call Sandwich, Louboutini, and Sandlot, Sandlot’s dad, and Sandlot’s dad’s boss.

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Eat it up, bitches.

Because they were from work, the tickets were for the Diamond Club. These aren’t the box seats, high above the third base line; these are seats directly behind home plate, with a special tunnel access to an open bar, a giant buffet with breakfast, lunch, and all the typical ballpark snacks you can imagine. It was a gorgeous day, they were playing the White Sox, and I had great seats!

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There’s nothing like a sunny summer day at the ballpark.  Safeco Field is by far one of the loveliest I’ve ever been to; it’s clean, well designed, and easy to navigate.  The baseball diamond elicits a feeling of familiarity for every red-blooded American, and the Mariners even won!

I don’t remember how much I ate and drank, but I’m sure my nutritionist-RN friend would not have approved. There were hotdogs and sausages (and we tried out the Silicon Valley Season 4 Hotdog-Not-A-Hotdog app), Ezell’s Famous Chicken (SO overrated), burgers, roast beef, nachos, a giant tuna carving station, salads, pastas, an omelette bar, fruit and pastries, regular sandwiches, and all sorts of candy.

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And Cracker Jacks. Because no ballgame is complete without peanuts and Cracker Jacks.  And beer that you can drink at two in the afternoon without judgment.

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Crabbing, Canoeing, and Coconuts, oh my!

If you’re from New England, it’s a good bet that you have gone crabbing at some point (or at least know people who have participated in this fond past-time). You tie a bit of raw chicken/fish to a string, throw it out into some brackish water, and wait for the string to pull taut. You then slowly pull the string towards you, lest you frighten the crabs, and when you can finally get it high enough (they are piggy scavengers – they don’t notice if they are being lifted in the water as long as they are being fed), you take a net and scoop it out of the water as fast as you possibly can.

My uncle lives on a canal where he can dock his boat, and the dock also makes an ideal place to crab. Gem and I had nothing to do on our last day, and we called to see if we could hang out and try our luck with the nets. We did not fare so well, but we did catch a few!

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The first victim.

After a few hours of no bites (literally), my uncle suggested taking the canoe out. We soon discovered that a canoe’s turning radius is only slightly less than a semi-truck, and if we are wrong and you can actually turn a canoe on a dime, well then, we are just bad at turning. My uncle had suggested rowing up to a few neighbors with the mango, lemon, and avocado trees and asking for some, but we had a hard-enough time going straight and not crashing into the retaining walls that managing to get to a dock might have been more of a challenge than our sunburned bodies were ready for.

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We did manage to pick up a few coconuts that had landed in the water (after several unsuccessful attempts), and I was super excited to open it and see what was inside. Seriously, the coconut trees are awesome, but if they fall off onto your head, they can kill you. So, when we managed to grab one from the water, it was a treat! It was, unfortunately, waterlogged and inedible, and made a nasty brown mess on the driveway. (We did get one that my dad managed to peel – yes, peel – the next day.)

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While we lost a good six crabs to our solidly poor netting skills and the fact that they are just crafty creatures – they pretty much give you the finger when you get them to the surface, go to net them, and then they let go of the bait and spread their legs like they just did a mic drop – we ended up with five of them. When we got back, my mom had arranged for a cookout with the family, and also steamed our catch for the day. We were munching on salad, rice pilaf, and crab, and talking, telling stories, and laughing while the sun set. It was a perfect last full day in Florida with the fam.

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“Sex Definitely Happens There”

Spoiler – this has no photos. You’ll see why.

We had no plans on one day, and after an early brunch, Gem and I were driving around, trying to figure out something to do before the Cardboard Regatta at noon, when Gem suddenly said she could go for a massage.

“You know, one of those Asian nail places that give you a shoulder massage while you’re getting your nails done. Let’s find one.”

A little Google Mapping and a few minutes later, we found several places that either didn’t offer massages or have any openings for hours. We resolved to finding an actual massage place, and we identified a business close to my parents’ house that seemed to be exactly what we were looking for.

It’s at this point that you will have to use your imagination, because we could not take photos. We also could not get out of there fast enough.

We parked and walked into the massage parlor. Eyebrow-raise #1 was not such a big deal.  The windows were tinted at maybe 10%, but then again, this isn’t a huge shock because it’s Florida, and they are trying to keep things cool, right?  Eyebrow-raise #2 came when we took a look around the lobby. It looked a lot “nicer” than the $15, 30-minute massage place we’d expected. The walls were a darker purple, the curtains were heavy dark velvet, and there was fake marble. Then, we saw that there was a menu of services and prices on the counter. They were asking for $80 for a 60-minute massage…something is off here?

Then, the true nature of this massage parlor revealed itself.  (If you haven’t guessed by now, you are as naïve as we were.)

Two women came out from a side room where they’d been chattering in an unidentifiable Southeast Asian language (Thai?), and a third relaxed on the couch in the side room, trying to hear what we were saying. Gem and I had saucers for eyes. We weren’t exactly what to make of it.

One woman was an Asian-50s, – still looking good, but definitely older. She was wearing an electric blue romper, with her biddies pushed up till they were coming out of her neck, and her entire cleavage was visible. She had full makeup, big earrings, her hair was done, and her nails were long. The other girl was younger, about 5’11”, in giant heels, and had on lace boyshorts and a bright orange tank top that left absolutely nothing to the imagination.

The older woman (we’ll call her Blue) wanted to know if we wanted a massage, and started quoting us prices that were $10 off the advertised price. The younger one looked us up and down. Gem and I are both under 5’2”, and we were not dressed for the occasion – we were not wearing makeup, we were just looking for a diversion before heading to the beach where we would inevitably get rained on, and we were tired.
Blue kept trying to sell us on their services, and I was trying to make excuses that it was getting late, and we needed to get back to the other side of town for the Cardboard Regatta. Gem stood there, frozen. The woman on the couch got up, and Gem noticed a hula hoop in the other room where she was sitting.

After a bit more of polite, then earnest declining, Gem and I went for the door, and Gem couldn’t get out of there fast enough. As we power-walked to the car, Gem said, “Sex definitely happens there.”

Editor’s note: After some research, the owner of the massage parlor was indeed arrested for prostitution in 2010. Then we found a rave review from a month prior, where a single dad took his two girls and they all got massages. Take that for what you will.

Backdoor Dragon

I am always in awe of those food challenge people.  You know, Adam Richman, the Man v. Food guy,  or even the stuff that comes up in the news, like the Super Bowl of Pho.  There are also the spicy challenges, which seem like a form of masochism.

Not to be outdone, my people decided to create their own challenge:  The Samyang 2x Spicy Noodle Challenge.  Okay this is not officially a challenge, but still.  I saw a video on YouTube about it, and when I found them in the store, I knew I had to try it.

She’s a wuss, right?  She can’t handle the Korean fire, right?  Well, we shall soon see…

I found them in a store near a bar I happen to enjoy, and of course I needed to buy them.  Before you ask, we’d not even gone in the bar yet!

Dinnertime rolled around the next day, and while I wasn’t super hungry, I figured it was now or never for the fire noodles.  I warn you, all the photos from hereon out are unedited for lighting or making me look better.  There was simply no time.  My mouth was dying.

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I mean, the packaging is so unassuming!  Cute, even! Yes, it says 2x spicy, but there’s a pirate chicken throwing bombs and lightning bolts!  How bad can it really be?  Leave it to the Koreans to make something terrifying look adorable.

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I was pretty skeptical.  I accidentally had a bit more water than the directions called for, and instead of leaving it plain, I added some shredded lettuce, egg, furikake seasoning, and a bit of old grilled chicken.  It was dinner, after all!  (Also, as a PSA, spicy, soggy lettuce does NOT taste good…)

I did put on a lipgloss protectant with soothing aloe and other things to make chapped lips feel better prior to eating.  You’ll see how well it helped…

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First bite!  Here we go!  Okay, it’s not so bad…a little sweet even!  I notice a lot of people don’t actually chew ramen, so I made it a point to chew it like I would chew any normal food…wait…omg, my lips are tingly!  Delicious tingles..wait no, definitely not delicious.  My tongue feels like it’s swelling.  The fire is going straight to my sinuses.

Have some milk!  Okay, we’re okay now.  No biggie, it’s….wait the milk is gone and I’m still burning.  It is like licking a hot cast iron pan…

Another bite and my lips are scalding hot.  Not just the part that is touching the noodles, but it’s spreading! I am surprised I’m not blistering!  Maybe I am, I feel like anything that’s touched the sauce is 2x the size (maybe that’s what they mean by 2x?) I quickly slurp up more noodle, and it splatters onto my chin a bit!  Damn!  now my chin is a bit tingly!  Oh man, gotta keep going!  We can’t waste it!!!

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My nose is red, and running profusely.  My lips are red.  The red “aura” around them is the burn.  Notice that the “protectant” didn’t work at all.  (It did serve an unintended purpose, however.  It kept them from chapping from the heat!)  My eyes were watering, and I felt like every exhale was going to light something nearby on fire.  This must be what those Game of Thrones dragons must feel like.  What a bad way to live!…and this was three bites in.

With a rating of 8400 Scoville units, it’s about the heat of a jalapeño (you know, the hot ones, not the lame regular ones).  I routinely eat jalapeños, and enjoy them, so it shouldn’t be that bad, right?  I mean, those aren’t all that spicy, right?  WRONG.  It’s HOT.  Like really hot.  Imagine not one but a bunch of them, mashed up, seeds and all.  And then you eat it with a spoon.  It’s so hot, if you get it on your skin, you will break out in a rash.

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I thought I could handle it.  I thought I would be fine.  Nope.  A full glass of milk later, it burns.  Ice cream, ice, anything you can think of, and it still burns.  The “extras” were no help, either.  They just absorbed the hot oil, and it was like eating spicy everything.  Even this morning (it’s 8:51 and I ate it at 18:30 last night), there’s still a faint tingle on my lips.

But what I’m more concerned about is when it’s time to come out the other end.  While I was breathing fire before, I might be shitting fire now.   Let’s hope I drank enough milk to negate it…only time will tell.

Hoppy Hour

In an unscheduled break from my Florida activities, I bring you my previous weekend.

Tidbit 45967: I love beer.

Tidbit 86325: I hate hoppy beers.   This does not bode well for my living arrangements, as the PacNW loves their hops.

Tidbit 28487:  I am Yelp Elite, which simply means I eat a lot, and write a lot, because I have a lot of spare time and not too many people to hang out with.  And Yelp will  occasionally throw us a bone and host events around our area, so we can meet people.

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Bellingham has a pretty great Elite Squad – not too big, lots of fun people. Our last event was at Atwood Ales in Blaine, WA.  They promised free beer and snacky snacks, and a tour of the facilities.  It’s a private brewery, not open to the public, so we were in for a treat.

Or so I thought.

We were to be put to work – hard, manual labor of harvesting hops.  (Ok, it wasn’t hard, and it was actually really, really fun.  Beer makes everything better.)

In case you don’t know what hops are, they are the flowers of a plant, that are dried and used to flavor beer, and they look sort of like little green pine cones.  The “petals” are soft and thin, and there’s an oil in them that relaxes you – they said you can even make it into a tincture with vodka, and a few drops (cups?) will help you sleep!

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They make lovely vines, and they grow quite quickly – they told us that they’d start to grow in March, and be up to 16′ by June.  For those of you that like pretty vines crawling up the sides of your deck, barn, or whatnot, but also have issues with instant gratification, hops just might be your answer.

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And harvesting we went.  It was pretty fun, and we ended up with over 130 lbs of them.  To put it into perspective, each hop weighs barely a few grams.  We had more or less unlimited beer, went on a tour of the facilities (where they grow fruits, veggies, hops, and pretty much anything you can think of to flavor a beer – or to make wine!), and were able to buy bottles at the end.  The facilities include a storage shed and a two-car garage with a loft.  Pretty impressive!

My hands smelled delicious afterwards, and we were all quite relaxed.  I can’t say I’m going into homebrewing, but I’m pretty sure I can support the industry by drinking.  And now I have a newfound appreciation that goes into the tasty beverage.

However, I do not recommend eating them.  They’re unbelievably bitter, and it gets a weird dry mouth feel the longer you chew them…which you have to do, for longer than you think you should.  I will say though, gnawing on hops can numb your mouth, which is especially good if you have a canker sore.

I might even look into growing some in a pot.  (We’ll ignore my absolute lack of a green thumb, and my uncanny knack for killing every plant I’ve ever had.)  I mean, there’s no homebrewing in my future, but that vodka tincture for sleep sure sounds delicious.

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Paddleboarding Extravaganza

Gem and I were really into the idea of going paddleboarding, and Groupon had a bunch of deals from which to choose, and while we’d never actually done it, we figured it couldn’t be that hard.

The day we chose ended up being a little choppy, so we went to a calmer side of Sanibel Causeway. The lady dropped off the paddleboards, gave us some instructions, and drove away. We had four hours of boarding to attempt, and by George, we were going to do it. We were even going to attempt yoga!IMG_20170424_085308726

It had been cool out, but we certainly miscalculated how burned you can get. We did not last the entire four hours (maybe 90 minutes?), but we did pretty much everything we wanted to: played with birds diving for fish, saw dolphins, attempted yoga poses (Gem was much better at this than I was), and even swam a bit.

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Gem is much better at a lot of things than I am…not just paddleboard yoga.

I even made a little friend, who was hanging out in the truck for us when we got back.

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It’s quite fun, and can be a workout when people don’t adhere to no-wake zones, or when the water is choppy.

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I resolved to buy a paddleboard from Costco when I returned to the PacNW. Until I saw how much they cost, and then I resolved to rent one instead.

 

A Cape of Coral

I know in my last entry, I said that I was beginning to appreciate my new home, but as someone who chooses sunshine as a drug, it took a lot of patience to get used to the dreary weather, and by April, my patience had worn out.

My parents had recently relocated to Florida (they affectionately call it “God’s Waiting Room,”), and I hadn’t seen them since Christmas. They moved to a neighborhood where a good chunk of my extended family (two sets of aunts and uncles, four cousins, my grandmother, and the friends they’ve made down there) also live, so it was going to be a mini family reunion.

A very good friend of mine was also experiencing a D-deficiency, and a stress overload, and we both needed to escape real life for a bit. A little coordination and we were set, so off we went to Cape Coral for a long weekend.

I was going to head out a bit early, because I work from home, and when I got there, I did have to do a few days’ work.  But with an office like this, can you blame me?

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One of my favorite things about this Gem of a friend is that she’s adventurous and active, but also very much into relaxing on the beach with a cocktail, so we had paddle board reservations, a 90-minute massage, and trips to the beach planned. The other favorite thing about Gem is that she is an eater, much like yours truly. With few exceptions, she’ll eat anything, and isn’t shy about eating till she’s full. I knew we’d be in for a fun-and-food-filled weekend.

The long weekend with my parents, seeing their new home, and hanging out by the salt-water pool with my extended family, spending a girls’ weekend with Gem, and relaxation was exactly what the doctor ordered.