Stromness Rock

 

 

 

I still find jokes like this (above) funny. Sure, 2020 is a mess, but isn’t it a fantastic, glorious, mess?

2020 has been my kind of year, seeing as how in January I turned 64 and thought that life was essentially over, that my days were going to be a boring slide into old, older, and oldest age. But WOW, was I wrong! My 64th year has been so full of interest, personally and historically. I am SO GLAD to be living through this shit with you all!

Come December, as 2020 draws its last breath, we will look back and wonder at ourselves and at our nation and the world, and marvel that we got through it. It will feel like an achievement to have gotten to the end of this year alive, reasonably sane, and with a manageable number of 2020-induced personality flaws.

Of course, I have no idea what America will look like at the dawn of 2021, but my black-hearted, pessimistic, foul-mouthed, misanthropic, and perpetually resentful self has, in my soul, a tiny spark of hope and joy that things will be radically better for people of color, for the working poor, for immigrants, and for us rationalists.

Dear Readers, I’m not drunk or high, but I have been thinking dangerous thoughts and here’s what I think: I think we might be on the brink of a new Enlightenment. I look around at the unrest and the unity of dissent  against institutional racism and exploitative capitalism and I see a growing consensus that this country doesn’t work any more, not for the majority of us citizens, and it’s time to take it back.

I think this because I, Vivian Swift, boring ordinary white lady in her 60s, am flying a Black Life Matters Flag from the front porch of her house in the suburbs and that, my Dear Readers, is a Vivian Swift who, six months ago, I did not know existed.

Lord knows what this Vivian Swift will be up to six months from now.

Our Dear Reader Leslie in southern Florida has been hosting The Stromness Rock this past week, and Leslie knows what I mean when I talk about this being a transformative time to be showing America to a little rock from the Orkney Islands in Scotland:

I think The Rock is trying to tell us that America is a lot for a Scottish pebble to handle right now.

So Leslie let The Rock acclimate to current events by spending a little down-time in the familiar (to The Rock) ambiance of her Welsh dresser among artifacts of loveliness:

Although known as Welsh dressers, this item of kitchen furniture is not unique to Wales. Irish dressers were also common. Dressers from different geographic areas were adapted to local needs. The Scottish Highland dresser, for example, had a porridge drawer — a tin-lined drawer into which hot porridge was poured and left to set. When cold, slices could be cut and taken out by crofters working out on the land.

I, for one, would not be tempted to eat porridge that had aged in a dresser drawer, I’m just saying.

Revived, The Rock was ready to see the local lay of the land. First, a drive-by in Fort lauderdale:

Blustery. This must have made The Rock a teeny bit homesick. The Oarkneys are very windy — in fact, the winds are the outstanding characteristic of the islands. Strong winds year-round are common, but in Winter the average is 52 gales per season.

Leslie and The Rock tried to play Hide-and-Seek in the roots of trees felled by recent hurricanes, but The Rock isn’t good at camouflaging:

“You want to see the Everglades?” asked Leslie.

The Rock responded, “What are the Everglades?”

Everglades National Park is a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve on the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida. Often compared to a grassy, slow-moving river, the Everglades is made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species. Among the Everglades’ abundant wildlife are the endangered leatherback turtle, Florida panther and West Indian manatee.

And alligators. There are alligators. In the Everglades. Right behind you.

There are also “cypress knees”, and I looked them up and this is a fact: nobody knows what cypress knees “do”.

The Rock poised on the biggest botanical mystery of them all.

This is what one botanist has to say about cypress knees, which just might be the most enigmatic horticulture  writing I’ve ever come across (and I wrote a book about gardens, so I’ve read more than my fair share about horticulture):

It is surprising, after centuries of interest, how much interpretation is based on field observation, and how little hard data exist on knee anatomy, cellular structure, and physiology. Whatever functions the knees serve must pertain broadly in time, space, and related species.

I don’t even understand that last sentence, but I love the sound of it.

But wait there’s more. Leslie had some horticultural surprises for The Rock in her own backyard:

Right. Those are BANANAS. Growing in the backyard. I’m from Long Island, and bananas growing in one’s backyard is, to me, science fiction.

But wait there’s more. I’ve only read about this, and I’ve longed to see one with my own eyes, so for me this is the high point of The Rock’s adventures in Florida, these two buds from Omicron Ceti III:

The Rock had to stay up late, until after night fall, to see with it’s own non-eyes the amazing Queen of the Night, the Night Blooming Cereus:

WOW. Wow. Wowowowowowowowowowow.

One final dip in the pool . . .

. . . and The Rock was off for further adventures in The Palmetto State.

Stay Tuned.

In the meantime, oh, yeah.

Fuck Trump.

(I’m still basking in the humiliation of Trump’s rally in Tulsa, so indulge me a bit.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seen in a Boston suburb:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the previous Instagram shot didn’t give you the feels for Gen Z, maybe this will:

And, lastly:

Cats Will Sleep Any Where.

And They Do.

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers. If I am not here on Wednesday blame my dentist. And my utter cowardice when it comes to anything having to do with my dentist. I will be in hiding.

Think good thoughts about where you’ll be when we say Good-bye to 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

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Remember last May when Top Cat and I went to the Orkney Islands (seen in blue off the north coast of Scotland) and how, for some reason, we got off on the wrong foot from Day One and could never get in sync for the 10 days we were traveling, which resulted in us bitching at each other for the entire time we were on the road? Oh, sure, it was hilarious when I wrote about it later, but living through it was terrible. It’s a form of torture, when you are forced to spend every waking minute with the person whose face makes you want to hit them with a chair.

I’d say that now, with so many of us in quarantine and house-bound 24/7 with our spouses, that you all have the potential to experience first-hand your very own hellish Orkney Island Scenario.

But I’ve been there and back, literally [round trip to/from Orkney without getting charged with manslaughter], so allow me to enlighten you on how to get through this hellish COVID Togetherness.

Tip #1: When your spouse insists on watching MSNBC on the TV while listening to a college radio station at the same time, be sure to say in a loud, clear voice: JESUS CHRIST TURN THAT SHIT OFF NOBODY THINKS THE WHITE STRIPES ARE COOL ANY MORE. The more clearly you communicate how crappy you think your spouse’s TV and musical tastes are, the better your chances that your spouse will just shut everything down and go sulk upstairs, leaving you alone in your well-deserved peace and quiet.

Tip #2: If your house was built before “open plan” became a thing, it doesn’t matter how many square feet you have, you and your spouse will be bumping into each other many times a day in the poorly designed “flow” of the place. Usually it’s the long, narrow hallway from the living room to the kitchen, which cannot accommodate two people at the same time yet it’s always where you both seem to end up about twice every fucking half-hour. When that happens, it’s good to remind your spouse FOR FUCK’S SAKE SOCIAL FUCKING DISTANCING, SOCIAL FUCKING DISTANCING! Make sure you say this loud enough so the neighbors can hear, so they will know how seriously you are taking your responsibility to keep our society safe and healthy.

Tip #3: In a confined space, you’ll be looking at your spouse a lot, which means that you’ll be seeing a lot that you wish you hadn’t seen. Be sure to criticize their slobby personal grooming (YO DUDE WHAT IS THAT SHIT ON YOUR FACE, TOOTHPASTE OR DROOL?) their disgusting snacking ( YOU DIP THAT APPLE INTO THE  MAYONNAISE JAR ONE MORE TIME  AND WE’RE GOING FULL-OUT FIGHT CLUB)   and their shitty new pandemic pastimes (STOP PLAYING TIC TAC TOE WITH THE CAT YOU KNOW THE CAT ALWAYS WINS) because they obviously can’t help themselves.

TIP #4: When your spouse looks at your phone over your shoulder and comments that Gee, you seem to have a lot of pictures of young K-Pop stars in tight jeans on your Twitter feed, now is the time to remind them that the last time they could fit into tight jeans was before these K-Pop stars were born, which can be very motivating. But just for good measure, you can also use your best “Screaming at a BTS concert” voice when you add: AND BACK THE FUCK UP, I HATE IT WHEN YOU BREATHE ON ME.

I hope these tips will be as helpful to you as they were to Top Cat and I when we went through our Orkney ordeal. We also drank a lot on that trip. Separately. He’d go to a pub and I’d settle in with a bottle of wine in the hotel room and we wouldn’t have to look at each other until the next morning. That helps too.

And speaking of Orkney…

…many of you have been wondering where in the world is The Stromness Rock?

(The rock that I found in the village of Stromness, Orkney, hidden in the  parking lot of a seafood shop that is part of a game the villagers were playing, where people find painted rocks, upload a photo on Facebook, and hide it for someone else to find. I contacted the person in charge and was given permission to take The Rock home to America with me, and the Dear Readers of this blog have been showing our Scottish Stone the sights (so far) of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington state, Oregon, and California.)

So, Where is The Rock? Here’s a hint:

Can you see our Scottish friend waving from the base of the flag pole?

The Rock arrived in the great Lone Star State just in time to be quarantined with Dear Reader Rachel and her husband Don. But The Rock is happy to get some of that great Texas sunshine and hang with the indigenous flora:

More species of cacti are found in Texas than in any other state. In fact, the Prickly Pear cactus is the state plant of Texas. Now, just because I wrote a book about gardens doesn’t mean that I know a damn thing about plants, so let’s just call the one (above) Stabby Sticks, and the one (below) Jazz Hands:

The Rock has never seen a cactus before, being from a northern latitude that makes “home” feel more like Anchorage, Alaska than Central Texas. If you have never seen a cactus in your life, your first impression of them is that they are extra-terrestrial, and it’s a good thing that The Rock is a huge sic-fi nerd and felt right at home with these creatures. Here’s The Rock relaxing, below, with the famous Texas Upside Down Splat cactus:

This is not a cactus:

This is Dudley, and he’s confused.

The Rock has a very strong Scottish accent, and Cò am balach math? sounds more like a hedgehog gurgling with Dr. Pepper than Who’s a good boy? in Scots. Relax, Dudley. Everyone knows who’s a good boy. (It’s you, Dudley. It’s always you. You’re the only dog in the house.)

Some people say that Texas ladies are the epitome of southern beauty. . .

LeeAnn and What’s Her Name from the Real Housewives of Dallas

. . . and some people say that they look as if they’ve barely managed to survive an explosion in a make up factory, but the point is that Texas ladies are glamorous. The Rock was clearly out-classed when it came to hanging out with the locals:

Texans are some of the friendliest folks you’ll ever find here win these United States, and they tried to make The Rock feel accepted as one of them. . .

. . . but the truth is that The Rock has logged about 7,000 miles on this road trip so far and is beginning to look a bit worn out:

SO GUESS WHAT HAPPENED!

The Rock got a facelift!

I’m insanely jealous. The Rock got a facelift before I got mine and it’s a sad day when a Scottish stone gets an update while I’m still stuck with the same face I’ve been dragging around since George McGovern ran for president. The Rock is SO PLEASED with the result of its makeover that it shines, as if it were lit from within, below, in this field of Texas Blue Bonnets:

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. I’ll be googling the COVID timeline, looking for information for when it’s OK to have elective surgery again, but you all, please ignore me and go binge watch Crash Landing Into You on Netflix. It’s very funny, as funny as North Korea gets.

Our regularly scheduled Fuck Trump post is in a separate post  this week, immediately following this looooong public service announcement. I wanted to give you a chance to get up and go make a cup of tea before you dive into Part Two.

Enjoy.

 

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Australia is a big-ass country:

This is how much of Australia is on fire (as of the morning of Thursday, Jan 9):

OK, you probably know that these maps are a bit misleading. The fires are not drawn to scale and the Mercator projection has never been accurate since it was invited in 1569. But still, a LOT of Australia is on fire.

For the record, the USA is 3.797 million square miles and Australia is 2.97 million square miles. The area that has been burned Down Under is 32,4000 square miles, about one-third the size of the American state of Oregon, which is a big-ass state.

These fires are 80% larger than the devastating 2019 California fires and 5,000 sure miles larger than the sickening Amazon fires.

A billion animals have been destroyed. This means that some insects, plants, and animals found only in teeny little bits of Australia may go extinct.

These six babies were rescued in South Australia, and brought into a home in Cudlee Creek, near Adelaide, for safekeeping while their habitat burned:

Koalas are not endangered as a species, but how can you, now that you’ve seen this photo, not want to do something to help all our dear Australian furry, feathered, horned, scaled, and slime-covered fellow creatures?

I recommend donating to fire companies, many of which are 100% staffed by volunteers. The only one that I have found that is easy to navigate for Americans is for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (Sydney is located in NSW), here. $100 Australian is a mere $68 American.

We love you, Australia.

Now for something completely different.

So I go to my gym, as usual, last Monday. WOW! The parking lot is PACKED with cars, and its a traffic jam with people heading into the Hot Yoga studio on one side of my gym and the kick-boxing workout room on the other side. I go into my gym. I have never seen the place so full of people as it was on that day. PACKED.

And then I remember, oh yeah, it’s the first regular get-back-to-normal day of 2020 and everyone who made a resolution to get fit and lose weight is showing up.

The next day, Tuesday,  I go back to my gym, as usual. I find a parking spot near the door — lucky me. I go inside.  AND THE PLACE IS NEARLY EMPTY.

To all you who did a day at the gym and said Fuck it, I’m kinda cute when I’m fluffy, You Are My People.

I get it. Top Cat and I made a pledge to do the Dryanuary this month, when you’re supposed to go the whole month of January without drinking alcohol. Why? Because:

I did Thursday, Jan 2 dry as a bone. Then it was the weekend with long-standing social obligations and I love my drinking buddies yadda yadda yadda so I put off starting Dryanuary in earnest on Monday, Jan 6.

I lasted until Tuesday, Jan 7.

 

Me and alcohol, we’re in a rut. A loving, fun, exciting rut but still, a rut.

I just realized that “rut” is one of those words the starts to sound weird the more you hear yourself say it.

It all started in 2016.

Since my last book was published, Spring of 2016, I haven’t done much writing. I’ve been farting around. Here’s the list:

I got a dog.

I took two college semesters of American Sign Language. Turns out that I don’t really like Deaf Culture so that’s why I never blogged about it.

I got a part-time job at my favorite store, Home Goods, for the holiday season. I thought it would be fun. Nope. I forget; did I blog about that?

I volunteered to run a used book store to benefit the local library here on the north shore of Long Island for two years.

I organized a huge fund-raiser to benefit the local library here on the north shore of Long Island.  Eight months of torture.

I redecorated the house.

I rescued stray cats.

I traveled.

I made castles.

I haven’t been in a good mood for about three years.

I started drinking martinis again.

I had stopped drinking martinis in 2003 for a good reason. And then, in 2018 Top Cat’s kids started having babies and I woke up one day and realized that I’m married to a grandfather.

Well, that took me by surprise.

So I started drinking more martinis.

Anyway, now I’m back on the Dryanuary bandwagon — 2 days so far. Wish me luck

I will need all the strength I have to get through January because I’m going to have my Beatles birthday next week. I turn 64 on the 16th and friends, I am pissed. But let’s discuss this next week, when I have more room to rant.

One of the reasons I had to postpone my Dryanuary this past weekend was because I had to celebrate the return of The Rock to the north shore of Long Island!

Quick recap: The Rock comes from the town of Stromness on the main island of Orkney. I found it there last May when Top Cat and I were in Scotland and if you remember, Top Cat and I pretty much hated the sight of each other the whole time but especially on Orkney.

The Rock is part of a community-wide game being played in Stromness, where painted rocks are hidden around the village and when found, the finders log it in on a Facebook page before re-hiding them. I was given permission to take The Rock home with me to photograph in Times Square and then the darling readers of this blog volunteered to take The Rock around the country.

So far it’s been to Lexington, MA; Southern New Jersey; Lansing, MI; Ann Arbor, MI; Coopersville, MI; Milwaukee, WI; Richland in eastern WA; Portland, OR; and SOCAL (Coronado, CA).

Due to my sending incorrect shipping instructions to The Rock’s wonderful host in SOCAL, Dear Reader Thea sent The Rock back to me and after this hunk of mineral from the Northern Isles and I got through all the Fàilte dhachaidh’s, we had soaked ourselves in scotch and woke up the next morning with matching tattoos and no idea how they got there.

The Rock had a great time in southern California, specifically in Coronado.

Coronado is a California resort city on a peninsula in San Diego Bay.

Hang glider? Para sail? In the talons of a ferruginous hawk making its annual migration from Canada for the Winter?

Coronado is beautiful, the surrounding area is beautiful, the weather is year-round beautiful, so The Rock got the  idea that one can become beautiful simply by being in Coronado.

Give up, Rock. You’ll never be a gem stone no matter how hard you try.

The Rock is Night Owl Rock and Coronado suited him fine..

The Rock was excited to be part of the 48th Annual Parade of Lights:

 

The grand Victorian Hotel del Coronado opened in 1888. The hotel was also home to the first outdoor electric Christmas tree in 1904.

The hotel and the hotel’s beach is where Billy Wilder filmed Some Like It Hot in 1958.

The Rock takes a selfie with Marilyn Monroe.

The Rock does a full-body squeeeeeee in the same sand!:

Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre urban cultural park in San Diego, California, United States. In addition to open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, it contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

I think The Rock is mocking me because I wrote a book about nine of the most thought-provoking greens in the world and I forgot to include the Botanical Garden in Balboa Park:

I think The Rock is taking notes for a book tentatively titled, I Am My Own Rock Garden.

The Rock contemplates the rockness of life:

The Rock is trying to be an enoghtengd Rock, so (somehow) The Rock convinced these nice people to do a seven-person Uttanasana:

The Rock would have taken a photo of the rare seven-person uttanasana, but The Rock doesn’t have fingers and could not work the iPhone camera. Sad!

Thank you, Dear Readers Thea and John in Coronado, California, for hosting The Rock:

You bring us. . .

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Australia, we love you.

P.S. BTS is releasing a new album on Feb. 21 after a seven-week rollout that includes yet-to-be-announced events in London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul, and New York. If you know a BTS fan, they are losing their minds right now. Be warned.

 

 

 

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I’m so glad that so may of you Dear Readers liked the watercolor post I did a few weeks back.

This is also a painting post, but not that kind of painting post.

The story is, that with just a few days to go before Thanksgiving, I decided now was a dandy time to re-do our horrible, 100-year old staircase.

Random BEFORE and AFTER photo of someone else’s staircase. I am too embarrassed to show you how bad our stairs looked BEFORE.

Thirty-fiveyears ago, when Top Cat bought the house here on the north shore of Long Island, he ripped up old olive green carpeting that was there and slapped a coat of white paint on the steps. What I’ve come to discover, from wear and tear and exploratory chipping away at the landing, is this:

Historically, there are four coats of paint on this 100-year old staircase. From bottom to top, the archeology of these stairs is: brown paint, yellow paint, white paint, carpet, white paint.

The fine people on YouTube made it look so easy. Just buy “green” (organic) paint remover, go watch an episode of Property Brothers, and voila: your stairs are ready to be televised.

I have 12 stairs in my staircase that I need to strip down to wood. The first 4 stairs took me two days (two full work days) to do.

Then a voice, the mellifluous intonation of the Angel of Duh, spoke to me and yea, it said: Yo, Stupid, Let The Paint Stripper Do The Work.

So here’s how the next four stairs took me two hours to do:

First, squish a lot of Soy Gel, “green” paint remover made from 100% Aerican-grown soy beans so they say, onto the hideous 100-year old tread:

Soy Gel is not cheap but O-boy, is it effective if– you have patience. It’s organic, so you can use it indoors in Winter and you don’t have to rig up ventilation.

Then you take a “chip” brush that you will throw away when this adventure is over, and you spread the Soy Gel evenly over the despicable surface:

This is a trick I learned on the Advanced YouTube tutorial about not being dumb about removing paint:

You lay down a layer of cling wrap on top of the Soy Gel. You do this because you are going to let the Soy Gel do its thing for the next seven hours.

Meanwhile, if it’s OK with the Boss, you can put away the sander and clean up the mess that you made on the first four steps because you won’t need any of it (now that you know the trick with the Saran Wrap).

You can believe your eyes. Lickety took a nap on top of sand paper, sandy-side UP.

And, if it’s OK with the Boss, you can use brown paper to cover the previously stripped stairs so to keep them clean from the crud you will be excavating soon:

It’s 3 o’clock.  Time to have fun!

This is SO COOL!

The Saran Wrap does all the work!

The remaining bits of paint can be scraped up with a minimum of cursing, and still provide you with a fine work-out for your trapezius and latissimus muscles:

Next comes the horrible part. What is left on your stairs now is a thickish layer of persistently clingy goo that has the consistency of  the insides of a marshmallow.

So you need to buy the strongest “de-greaser” you can find. You spray it onto the stair, you let sit for a minute:

And then you get your wire brush and you warn your back and leg muscles that there’s some hurt coming soon. You crouch for leverage, and you put all your might into scouring away at the goo:

At this point, the “goo” becomes a finer texture, more like very sticky “crud”.

The crud wedges good and hard into the teeth of the wire brush every minute or so, so keep a bucket of water handy so you can dip the brush into it and take another instrument to gouge between the rows of wire and pry out the impacted crud. This, too, will require “effort”.

Repeat at least twice; three times if you’re really into punishing yourself for ever having started this stupid project in the first place, and then let dry.

This weekend I will be painting the stairs Espresso, because I read that dark-chocolate-colored treads are the hottest trend in staircases. I’ll be painting the trim and risers white, but I won’t strip them first since I don’t want to.

I did all this work all by myself because I got no help at all from The Rock, who was off gallivanting, as it’s been doing for over a month now, and now has made it all the way to the Great North Great West.

The Rock, from Stromness, Orkney, Scotland, is now in Washington (state).

This for Australian readers who don’t want to have to drag out an atlas.

In olden days, the Oregon Territory took up the whole huge NW corner of the continental United States. Nobody knows why it was called “Oregon”, but when that top northern bit broke away and its residents applied for statehood in the 1880s, they petitioned Congress to give them the name, “Washington, Not That Washington, The Other One.”

Then New York Congressman and general busy-body David Dudley Field went around bitching that the country already had a “Washington” (that “Washington, of D. C.”), and that a duplicate “Washington” was going to make life very difficult, especially for the U. S. Post Office. He wanted the new state to have a Native American name, and he suggested “Tacoma”.

David Dudley Field, 1805 – 1894. I wonder if he was disappointed about not living long enough to see 1900?

I’m all for having a state called “Tacoma”. Is it too late?

Well, the residents of “Washington, Not That Washington, The Other One”, argued that the dunces at the U. S. Post Office should be able to deliver mail to the correct Washington by paying attention to context and they took advantage of the fact that nobody else in Congress gave a crap about having two Washington’s so they shortened their state name and their application for statehood as  “Washington” was approved in 1889.

So, now you know where we are today.

We are in that Washington. Specifically, we are with Dear Reader Alexandra, in the fair city of Richland, located at the confluence of the Yakima and the Columbia Rivers. Richland is in the southeastern part of the state where, being on the dry side of the Cascade Mountains, the climate is desert-like. The area gets 7 inches of rain yearly (Seattle gets 39 inches) and there are dust storms in Summer.

Dust storms. In THE DESERT.

So, naturally, that’s where you can find The Rock hanging around the USS Triton Submarine Memorial Park:

In THE DESERT.

All that is left of the historic USS Triton is its con-tower, sticking up out of the ground. Much like the history of the nomenclature of Washington the state, the sub is here in Richland because shut up, we want the damn submarine and Congress doesn’t care either way, so shut up.

They notified the U. S. Post Office  that the sub’s new address is in THE DESERT, in that Washington.

Fun Fact: The USS Triton submarine was the first to circumnavigate around the world underwater, on its maiden voyage Feb 16 – May 11 1960, following  Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of 1519 – 1522. The con-tower stands tall at 26 feet high and 67 feet long. The sub has no logical connection to Washington, the state, but that has never stopped Washington, the state, from getting what it wants.

Here we are at the splendid used book store of the beautiful and gleaming Richland Public Library, where The Rock is trying to see if anyone will mistake him for a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  and try to read him, and they can’t because he doesn’t have any pages because he’s a rock, and then he’ll laugh and laugh and make them feel stupid.

The Rock can be a little bit of an asshole sometimes.

Lunch time, and The Rock heads for The Emerald of Siam, Richland’s oldest Thai restaurant, located in the groovy Uptown Shopping Center:

FunFact: The Upland Shopping Center was designed in 1948 and its architecture epitomizes that brief but glorious style known as Atomic Age Aqua Everywhere.

Funner Fact: The shopping center was designed by by the Atomic Energy Commission of the United States.

Why?

Because it’s Washington, the state. Shit like that happens here.

And next The Rock went bowling. Because it’s a rolling stone. Get it?

The Rock wrongly thinks this is hilarious.

Most people call this next tourist attraction The Ginnko Petrified Forest State Park in Vantage, Wa. But The Rock calls it “Meeting the American Cousins.”

The rock drawings that are reserved here date from prehistoric (pre-white people, that is, because pre-white people there was  no history) times. Carved by the Wanapum people, who lived along the Columbia River and welcomed Lewis and Clark to the neighborhood. The Wanapum lived here in peace until 1953, when newly-built dams on the river flooded the ancestral home.

Petrified wood was discovered here in the 1930s, which led to the creation of this 7,124-acre park.

The Rock ponders, “Is this petrified cottonwood, or redwood?”

There are over 50 species of trees that are petrified here. One of those species is the ginkgo. The forest dates from the Miocene Period, 5 – 12 million years ago.

You should know that dinosaur fossils have not been found in Washington, the state. The park’s velociraptor, small brontosaurus, and pterodactyl statues came from Arizona, where there are dinosaur fossils. So, in the end, it’s completely legit.

The Rock is at it again, trying to pass itself as something’s not, in this case, a gem:

You know what else moves rocks? Tourists fromLong Island, Aer Lingus, the U. S. Post Office, and the lovely volunteer tour guides who have given The Rock memories of a lifetime.

It’s a fossil, yes, but it’s a mammoth, still not a dinosaur:

Fun Fact: Columbian mammoths (mammuthus columbi) once roamed from Alaska to Mexico and are the most common species of mammoth fossil found in this part of Washington state—so common, in fact, that the Columbian mammoth is the Washington state fossil.

You will be happy to know that The Rock barely moved the needle of this geiger counter:

Why is there a geiger counter at The Ginko Petrified Forest State Park?

Nobody’s telling.

Least of all these guys:

This is Truman and Pippin. Can you tell from his hang-dog look which one is most disappointed that The Rock is not edible?

Thank you for stopping by today and hanging out with me and The Rock.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. And if you check back later, I will have a slew of stuff to make your celebrations of the House Impeachment Hearings’ total indictment of Trump, Giuliani, and the Republicans just a little more fun. I have a lot to show you.

Oh, lordy, it was a good week to be an American, for once.

 

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Dear Reader Jeanie was in charge of The Rock from Stromness (Orkney, Scotland) last month. GUESS WHERE Jeanie took our beloved rolling stone?

From its secret hiding place at The Orkney Fisherman’s Association last Summer, you Dear Readers have hosted The Rock through Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and, now, Ta-Da:

The Rock is in Michigan, The Great Lake State, the base from which the United States launched an invasion of Canada in 1813 which, sadly, we did not quite pull off. But that is why everyone agrees that Michigan is our most Canadian state, as reflected in its almost absurdly polite state motto: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”.

The Rock, being Scottish, needed refreshments of a liquid nature so Jeanie took it, first, to a cider mill/Tiki Bar:

And then to a wine tasting:

And then, because drinking makes the Rock very thirsty, they went to the famous Miller Brewery in Milwaukee:

Quick: What’s the capitol of Michigan?

It’s Lansing, where Jeanie gave The Rock to a group of very Michigan protestors gathered around the capitol building. They get together every Wednesday afternoon for a little political activism and then they go to Marge’s house for cherry pie. Because they are CanadiaMichiganders. And none of their signs say, Fuck Trump.

Michigan’s unofficial state food is cherry pie. Michigan would make cherry pie its official state food, but Michiganders don’t want to hurt the feelings of the state’s official state flower, the apple blossom.

Apple Blossom be all like,  So, I’m good enough for the state flower but not good enough for the state food?? Apple pie, ever heard of it??? WTF?

No, CanadaMichiganders don’t want any hard feelings.

Since The Rock was in Lansing, it moseyed east, over to Michigan State University campus so take a wander through its 4-H Garden:

MSU is the nation’s pioneer land-grant university and has 50,000 students, known as Spartans. It is the biggest of The Big Ten universities, an athletic conference founded in 1895 which actually comprises 14 schools, mostly in the Mid-West. If you don’t like snowy winters or if you need an urban vibe for your college experience, do not go to a Big Ten university.

But if you like to be around people who know how to earn an A+ rating for their parties and academics, then you should put Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI at the top of your list.

Next, let’s go visit Lansing’s most famous native son:

Ransome Eli Olds was the son of a blacksmith and a dress-maker whose Curved Dash Oldsmobile (1901 – 1904) became the first mass-produced, low-priced American motor vehicle so take that, Henry Ford.

Fun Fact: Ransom Eli’s father was Pliny Fiske Olds; his his wife was Metta Ursula Woodward Olds. People had fabulous names back then. His gorgeous mansion, which had a turntable garage which allowed Mr. Olds to pull in at night and leave again the next morning without driving in reverse, was demolished in 1966 to make way for an interstate hi way. People had shit for brains in the 1960s.

R. E. Olds is dead, which is why The Rock is in a cemetery.

Oh, I forgot: while in Milwaukee, The Rock got to take a selfie with The Bronze Fonz:

Taking a selfie with the Bronz Fonz statue on the Milwaukee RiverWalk is practically a rite of passage for any visitor. As is a visit to the Harley Davidson HQ:

Motorcycling is very popular in Scotland and The Rock felt right at home in the gift shop:

And, lastly, The Rock had the good fortune to meet one of Michigan’s grandest dames, the lady Lizzie Cosette of the blog, The Marmalade Gypsy:

And that was Michigan.

Next stop for The Rock: Wisconsin.

Otherwise known as The State of Deja Vu:

Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of WISCONSIN. I can’t say that I had known that for sure before I got Dear Readers Susie and Tony’s photos, but I know now that I will always remember that MILWAUKEE is in WISCONSIN. Not Michigan. It’s never even been to Michigan.

Milwaukee is known for being the setting of the popular 1970s sit-com Happy Days. This explains why there’s a Bronze Fonz in MILWAUKEE, in WISCONSIN. Which is not Michigan.

And then, being that The Rock is a bit of a booze hound, it went back to the Miller Brewery, in MILWAUKEE, which is in WISCONSIN, a city that is famous for its many breweries.

Overlooking the Menomonee River, the Harley-Davidson Museum displays classic motorcycles, including one of Elvis Presley’s. The Rock also went back to the Harley Davidson museum, which I don’t have a picture of but I do have one of the stills — I mean brew kettles — at the Miller Brewery:

Yeah, The Rock is looking a little worse for wear, but that’s what happens when you drink your way through Michigan and WISCONSIN.

Fun Fact about MILWAUKEE: the city boasts a statue legendary Scots poet Robert Burns. As far as anyone knows, Burns never visited Milwaukee, mainly because Milwaukee didn’t exist in his lifetime.

But you know how it is when you’re in a foreign country and you come across a countryman and you’re all, “Hi an sin seann friend! Och, gabhamaid deoch! ” And then you’re stuck with your new best friend for the rest of the bus tour.

Fun Fact about the Saint Andrews Society of Milwaukee:

Every September they hold a Kilt Raffle.

Now, when I think of men in kilts, I think of this:

Actually, The Saint Andrews Society in Milwaukee is like this:

But let’s think a little bit longer about men in kilts, because that’s where The Rock has taken us (Thank you, Rock) :

 

 

Now, while The Rock did not don a kilt while it was in Milwaukee, it DID get to try on the famous WISCONSIN Cheese head:

WISCONSIN is known as The Cheese State because they make a lot of fondue there and because fans of its football team, the Green Bay Packers, wear bits of cheese on their heads. I think it’s because football is a dangerous game that causes concussion. Also, because of the long, hard Winters in WISCONSIN.  People go a little crazy from concussion and the cold and nothing says “crazy” more than an inordinate love of cheese.

The capitol of WISCONSIN, America’s Dairyland, is Madison, where apparently The Rock got an Uber and hit the singles’ scene:

Fun Fact: I have no idea where The Rock is (below), but then, I don’t track The Rock’s every move and if it hooked up in Madison and woke up the next day in a strange town hey, it’s not for me to judge:

Good Going, Rock.

But The Rock isn’t as young as it used to be (it’s actually from the Devonian Age, about 400 million years ago) and hop boy, the Rock needed a bucket of coffee and lots of low light when it woke up the next day.

They say nature is the best cure for a hot night out in Madison WI and there is plenty of nature in the woods around Lake Michigan:

TREES. On Orkney, The Rock never sees trees because it’s treeless environment, being too cold and windy for them to grow there. So you can imagine how spectacular this landscape was, how overcome The Rock was to see such abundance of those little things, in the billions, those things called Leaves. So, so many leaves.

Majestic Lake Michigan, from a rock’s point of view:

Fun Fact: Lake Michigan gets its name from the Ojibwe native peoples’ word michi-gami, meaning “great water”. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume, and is 2/3 the size of Scotland. Scotland’s largest lake (or loch) is Loch Lomand, which is about the size of a Great Lake sneeze if Lake Michigan had a nose and a cold. (Loch Lomand is 71 square miles and Lake Michigan is 22,393 sq miles.)

So. Where is The Rock now?

For that, you’ll have to meet me here next week. Spoiler: The Rock turns out to be a real stoner.

Thank you Dear Jeanie, and Dears Susie and Tony, for showing us and The Rock such a great time.

And, oh yeah, Fuck trump.

 

 

 

 

 

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