The Rusted Bucket List

Among the list of things I never want to experience again, getting stuck in an airport overnight is damn near the top. It’s right below pregnancy, which is just above having my brain surrounded by a fortress of mucus. This is what happened a couple of weeks ago when I was stranded at the airport due to inclement weather.

Weather wasn’t the reason I had to spend the night sick in the airport. It was American Airlines’ poor customer service. You see, when flights are delayed due to weather, it’s considered an “act of God” and therefore not the airline’s problem. However, when the gate attendant updates the departure in increments of an hour at a time until the flight crew is no longer viable, “timed-out” as they called it, the flight must then be cancelled. That certainly is not an act of God but one of poor planning. The Devil’s in the details, don’t ya know.

Pushing back the departure time for hours then cancelling the flight altogether at 2a.m. when there are no rental cars and no hotel rooms is ludicrous. Of course, they “know we have a choice when flying” and so thanked us for our business with an invitation to take a spot on the floor next to any stranger and make ourselves comfortable.

All that to say, I missed the last few Friday Fictioneers because it seems there is no end to the number of people who have no problem wasting my time, but I’ll save that rant for another day. Suffice to say incompetence abounds through space and time in workplaces everywhere.

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Copyright Jennifer Pendergast

Another Never Ending Story

In the vast expanse of the universe, there are large pockets of time. In one of them, there was once an enormous pocket watch. One day, or was it night? Yes, night, a dark and stormy night, and on that treacherous night, lightning streaked and thunder rolled for what seemed like an eternity. Then CRACK! The chain snapped and the pocket watch fell to earth. A thousand days and nights had come and gone without so much as a tic toc, but ever since that epic moment of impact, time wasters have roamed the earth without a minute to spare.

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Thanks for reading. More Friday Fictioneers are here. Thanks to Jennifer Pendergast for this week’s prompt and Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who has a thing or two to say about time.

Concerning A Visit To The Pacific Northwest

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Like Lewis and Clark, only with internet access, my Loyal Follower and I investigate places we want to explore when we have the opportunity to travel for pleasure. It’s important to us to jam as much fun as we can into a long weekend make the most of our time. Travel sites are great for getting a general idea of what to see and where to stay, but if you want to know what the locals know, it’s best to go to the source. A few years ago blogger Allan Smorra helped us discover the wondrous world beyond the Golden Gate Bridge and we had the good fortune to meet Allan in San Francisco.

We recently ventured west again for a getaway, this time to Oregon, and once again a blogger provided the inside scoop that made our trip extra special. It was a pleasure to meet Mark Petruska and his charming wife, Tara. They treated us to a taste of Portland I will not soon forget. Funky, and more than a little freaky, Rimsky-Korsakoffee House was the perfect ending to our Pacific Northwest adventure. Thanks, Mark & Tara!

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I emailed Mr. Petruska with a vague request and he replied promptly with generosity above and beyond the call of a virtual friend, proving bloggers truly are the salt of the earth. Speaking of salt, Jacobsen Salt was on our list of stops. It was not meant to be.

TRAVEL HINT: Do Not Rent A Vehicle From Budget. (Possible future rant including pics.)

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San Francisco is where clouds are born, but the Oregon Coast is where they are conceived. That’s right; Highway 101 between Astoria and Tillamook is where the action is. There were many, many photo ops along this route. I could have spent weeks capturing the scenery. This, too, was not meant to be. I only had four days. Of 200+ shots, only fifteen made this post. There are more to come. We packed a lot into our short stay.

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My impression of the Oregon Coast: go for the view, stay for the food.

Dynamic duo Bob Neroni and Lenore Emery, owners of EVOO Cannon Beach Cooking School, lovingly prepared pumpkin squash risotto hugged by sesame seared chanterelle mushrooms and kissed with a fresh Pecorino and beet tangerine slaw. This divinely inspired first course was paired with Neroni’s Chef’s Blend Oregon White. Ordinarily white wine is not my go to, but the crisp citrus notes and fresh peach finish was the perfect contrast to the velvety rich risotto.

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Next we enjoyed pan-seared rockfish topped with puttanesca & aioli sauce served with hand cut buttered linguini and lemon zested arugula salad. It was paired with Pete’s Mountain 2014 Haley’s Block Pinot Noir. 

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Just when I thought I could not eat another bite, a cast iron grilled NY striploin with pomegranate wine reduction was served with potatoes, carrots & Brussel sprouts. This taste of heaven was accompanied by J.Scott Cellars 2014 Petite Verdot.

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No gastronomic excess is complete without dessert, and right on schedule a warm gingerbread spice-chocolate soufflé dressed in white chocolate sauce cozied up next to orange sorbet and salted candied orange peel & nut brittle for the big finish. This sweet shot is a bit out of focus as I was feeling quite dizzy by this point in the meal.

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While in Cannon Beach we also ate at Sweet Basil’s Café twice. It was that good. Insomnia Coffee and Sea Level Bakery and Coffee gave us scrumptious sustenance between feedings.

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Note: No calories were counted during this trip.

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Party Time

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WordPress connects us with talented photographers and writers who inspire us. Through our blogs we discover amazing people from around the world. We make virtual friends on every continent and our lives are richer for it. In 2013 it was my privilege and pleasure to meet three of these friends in real life.

Lorri, a.k.a. Artsifrtsy @ the eff stop, and Allan Smorra @ Ohm Sweet Ohm have graciously agreed to kick off a progressive post party to celebrate beginning another year of blogging here at HonieBriggs.com. My gratitude for their friendship, well, it’s HUGE. They are incredible human beings. I should know, I’m an expert on identifying humans.

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That’s why I’m inviting all of you humans to visit their blogs and join the fun by sharing the link to a post of your own about what keeps you coming back to HonieBriggs.com. Select posts will be featured here throughout the remainder of December.

BUT WAIT….THERE’S MORE!!!

Three bloggers who submit posts will be chosen for an in real life meet up with me in 2014.

So, here’s how it works. Visit The Eff Stop and Ohm Sweet Ohm. Be sure to tell them how awesome they are and share the link to your post in the comments section to keep the party going. Watch for your post to be featured on HonieBriggs.com. Good Luck! Thanks for reading. Now, let’s get this party started.

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Tales From The Crypt: A Poet Revisited

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The grave of Emma Lazarus is located on a hillside cemetery in Queens, New York. Emma’s headstone stands beside those which mark the final resting place of her parents, Esther and Moses Lazarus, and two of Emma’s sisters, Josephine and Sarah.

GPS coordinates for Emma’s grave.

My mission to find and photograph the headstone of Emma Lazarus was prompted by a story written by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You see, Emma was a poet, and while her name may not ring a bell, her sonnet, “The New Colossus,” engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty with its famous line “…give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” is recognized the world over as the call to the disenfranchised to come to America to realize their own version of the American dream.

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Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) is a person worth knowing. Her voice resonates with me. Discovering her poems made me curious and took me down a path to discover she was a young woman with high ideals, and then as now, high ideals didn’t come cheap. Her writing and writings about her life bear this out. By today’s standards, her family would be labeled as the one percent, most likely derided by their fellow Americans for their personal wealth. That’s right, Emma Lazarus lead a privileged life. She was well-educated, well-connected, and well-respected within her elite social circle. You wouldn’t know it by her gravesite, but it was written about beloved Emma that “With her own hand she has sown the seeds that shall transform her grave into a garden…”

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As you can see, her grave is no garden. Of course, this was metaphor, but still…

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Acres and acres of dearly beloved dearly departed take their place in silent galleries etched by sun and wind and rain. What remains of who they were in life are admissions into the record by those they left behind and perceptions of those who came after. Emma’s story leaves me with more questions than answers. Does nature thrill while passion spills from vessels overflowing with contempt? Do hearts beat with abundant life or merely the longing for an after life? Do we hold sacred the promise once embraced by people of conscience or let it slip the surely bonds of earth unobserved?

I wonder. I wonder with every breath of freedom I draw.

Poets through the ages give us a glimpse into the future. It is easy to see when we look into the past. Human experience tells the tale we must not ignore. Why not break through the ancient barrier that the art of race or creed or rank devises [still, to breed] hatred between heart and heart? Is this a question to which the answer is past due or an idea whose time has come? The system removed from the system, could we see our way to finally letting hatred rest in peace? I do not know. One thing is for certain, I will ask these and other questions until I find answers or die trying.

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Click here to read more about Emma Lazarus.

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path to gravesite

Middle Ground

The Golden Gate Bridge leads to a magical place filled with history and mystery. In the air, scents and sounds trigger memories of a time before metadata became all-consuming and the simple act of noticing served to preserve something meaningful.

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Our day trip showed us the magic that floats along the coastline and revealed to us some things worthy of being remembered. Our intended destination was Muir Woods. Fortunately for us, not necessarily for Muir Woods, cars spilled over from every parking area and along the roadside for over a mile. So, we kept driving. The thrill of exploring new territory, new to us anyway, was made extra thrilling by the curves and switchbacks and stretches of road with low visibility and no guard rails! Our excitement grew as we approached Panoramic Parkway. Onlookers stood by the roadside snapping photos to their heart’s content. Photos, like our own, that do not do justice to the splendid scene.

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We stopped to stretch and take a breath at Stinson Beach where we witnessed families enjoying the day together and the disappointment of a seagull that discovered what he thought was a picnic was only a bag of sand. It was too comical not to capture the effort of the perpetrator and his lookout trying to score some beachgoer’s lunch.

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Forward to the edge of the world, where beach gave way to woodland and then to craggy cliff, we came upon two cemeteries. One was tucked deep into a churchyard protected by a row of majestic sentries. A crow protested our intrusion until he realized we meant no harm and left us to walk among the dead.1-DSC_0841

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The other graveyard was high upon a hill behind a chain link fence. Hawks circled above as we strolled the silent hilltop. Cemeteries hold secrets, but they can also tell a story. If you know what you’re looking for, the story of immigrant populations unfolds in the names, dates, and ages chiseled in granite, marble, or stone of lesser value. Paying attention to details such as the location, size, and inscriptions on the markers, the story can take on a life of its own. Evidently, families that ferried together got buried together.

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On our way back from Point Reyes Lighthouse there was a driver who could not abide with our traveling the speed limit and whizzed passed us in a fury only to be stopped in his tracks a half a mile down the road by what else but one of those California happy cows. It certainly made me happy to see this guy’s road rage foiled by a cow!

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We made our way back into the city. Of course this is the view everybody goes for.

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But if you look around, you see more.

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This is how I try to find balance. By taking it all in, all of it, and working out for myself what is praiseworthy, what is salvageable, and what is too heavy for me to carry, but that must not be forgotten. All of this is important. All of this goes with us. All of this is life.

1-DSC_0852The beauty, glorious and powerful, the pain, devastating and necessary, and the middle ground, where seraphs and fears hover in spheres, agreeing to disagree.