Oktoberfest!

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Things are still lovely here in Salem. We’ve had a little more rain this week than in the past, but it’s been nothing compared to Nashville from what we hear. I think we’ll get our fair share before too long, but I hope all of you Nashville readers have been staying dry and safe.

This past weekend was a big one, a weekend that I dare say Celine and I have been waiting for since we came out to Salem to find a place to live. It was the weekend of the Oktoberfest in Mt. Angel! Some of you may remember us talking about visiting a monastery last time we were here. That was in Mt. Angel, which is a small community settled by Germans not far from Salem. Back in June when we came out, they were already advertising for the Oktoberfest, and after enjoying our first visit so much, we put it on our calendars. I think this picture sums up why we’d want to go back:

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That’s the town square! This was during the fest of course, so there are a ton of people hanging around. Why would folks just hang around in the square at Oktoberfest, you ask? Because at certain times of the day, this happens:

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Basically, that tower is a huge cuckoo clock, and three times a day, the doors open up and these wooden figures do their dance. It’s pretty cool, especially if you like Germans and cuckoo clocks. And wooden figures.

Anyway, clocks are not the main attraction at an Oktoberfest. Great German music, delicious food and beer are the real stars.

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That’s me with a delicious beer and a sausage with kraut haloed in heavenly light. As it should have been. Astute observers will notice I’m wearing my Lebowskifest shirt. The guy at the beer counter saw this shirt and said, “Lebowski? That’s almost my name. Are you Polish?” Thank you, Donnie.

In this same tent, we watched this amazing German band play:

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You may have trouble seeing the band in this picture, as there is a man in full German costume with a feather duster on his head in the foreground. Please accept our apologies. The music was really great, that girl with the fiddle was quite good, and they played a lot of traditional German folk songs, which means a lot of singing along and drinking beer. I don’t know any of the words to German folk songs, but I do know how to drink beer, so it all worked out.

After the food and beer we headed over to the kindergarten for the highlight of the day: wiener dog races. Yep, you read that correctly. On the way there, we saw this lovely site:

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Delicious on toast!

Chalk this up to more Oregon weirdness: they call port-a-johns “Honey Buckets” out here, which is at least 10,000 times more disgusting. These things are everywhere, they were at the fair too. I would rather call them “poop thrones, ” at least I know what I’m getting.

Anyway, wiener dog races. Basically, you take a bunch of wiener dogs and you put them in a box. Then, you send all the owners down to the end of  the chute, and you open the front of the box. All of the wiener dogs come wandering out, and the owners jump up and scream and call their dog like a bunch of idiots. The first dog to cross the line wins. Now, let me be very clear here. This is not like a true dog race, mainly because it doesn’t appear that anyone has told the wiener dogs that they are, in fact, in a competition. When the front of the box was lifted, many of the dogs wandered around behind the box, some of them went to the edges of the “track” and tried to get the people there to pet them, and very few of them moved with any sort of purpose. The owners were far more interested in getting the win.

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Notice that none of these dogs are blurred in the pictures. Their speeds were, shall we say, modest. One of the dogs in this heat was named Emma, and I’m almost sure she won. It did rain on us during the races, but only briefly.

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Luckily, I came prepared, as did Celine:

Note the sexy new glasses.

Note the sexy new glasses.

That’s Blue Steel I’m giving you there. Magnum isn’t quite ready yet. After the rain let up a bit, we headed back to the fair for more phallic food:

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Yikes. Then it was back to the music halls for more beer and a great accordion band led by this guy:

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To his right, you’ll see the 92 year old woman that he sang for here. He was a great showman and a good player, he wandered around the hall and stood on top of the tables while he played.

All in all, an excellent day. Food items consumed but not pictured: Fondue and potato pancakes. I think we’ll be frequenting this little party every year that we are here, and if you ever hear of wiener dog races near you, do not miss that golden opportunity. That is all.

Weird stuff about Oregon, Part One

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Since moving out here, Celine and I have noticed that Oregon is…different. Not necessarily worse or better than Tennessee overall, just different. To be sure, it is better in some ways and worse in others, but in many ways it’s just weird. I’m trying to keep a list of weird Oregon things, here’s the first round:

  1. They call a Demolition Derby a Destruction Derby.
  2. In Salem, you can turn right at stop signs without stopping. Sometimes. There’s no rhyme or reason to this that we can discern, but if there’s a sign that says you can do it, you can do it.
  3. You can also turn left on red light if you’re turning onto a one way street. This one actually makes good sense to me.
  4. In Portland, every intersection is technically a crosswalk for pedestrians. This means that if you are an extremely brave pedestrian, you could step out into traffic at any intersection you like, and you’d be in the right if you got plowed over by a car. I don’t trust this one just yet.
  5. Fair food is a little weird. Sure, they still have corn dogs and funnel cakes and kettle corn. But they also have a lot of Chinese food, some greek food, fish and chips, and Mexican food (done poorly). Notably absent from the fair: strange fried foods on sticks and decent BBQ (don’t get me started).
  6. For Labor Day, all of the grocery stores had SALADS on sale. Seriously.
  7. All of the sports bars here advertise their breakfast menus. I know it’s because football starts at 10 in the morning, but it’s still weird.
  8. Kanye insulted Taylor Swift two hours later out here.

New places are always strange, even when they are in your own country. The way I see it, we can either pine away for how things were in Tennessee, or we can embrace the changes and see wha Oregonians like so much about this place. We’ve chosen the latter.

So next Sunday, I’m setting my alarm, and I’m going to drive down the Half Penny, the closest sports bar, and I’m going to eat an omelet and drink a Bloody Mary and watch football. And yeah, I’ll probably be the only person there that cares about the Titans. And while I’m all for embracing the culture here, I draw the line at pulling for the Seahawks. A man has to have standards.

Salem, Week 2

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It’s been awhile since my last update, but we are still here! This was our first semi- normal week here in Salem. I worked a full week at Emma, and while Celine hasn’t started school yet, she was able to get a bit of a routine established. She is already taking lessons, so she was able to practice this week and continue to get our house unpacked and lookin’ good! Here’s a few pics of things as they stand now:

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That’s our living room! The futon fits in nicely as you can see, and it’s awesome to have those huge windows. Both cats like to sit up there on top of the futon in the sun, and Tortellini loves checking out the neighborhood. If you could look directly to your left in this picture, you’d see this:

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This is just behind that leather couch, and we’re calling it our reading nook. We bought that end table for a cool $10 at a yard sale this weekend, and it was just what we needed. That little basket is a kitty bed, but of course, they never use it. Here’s a good picture of the bedroom:

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As you can see, the walls are a little plain (still haven’t hung pictures), but it’s cozy! And finally, here’s a picture of our patio, where we’ve been eating a lot of meals thanks to the table that Celine’s dad and stepmom sent:

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However, the big news of the week has nothing to do with pretty rooms. It has to do with appliances:

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That beautiful piece of equipment that Celine is cuddled up to is a dishwasher. A portable model that you can roll around your kitchen and hook into your sink to wash dishes. AUTOMATICALLY. Without manual labor. It’s pretty awesome. We bought this and had it delivered for $120 off of Craigslist, and it was worth every single penny. Having to wash dishes was makin us less interested in cooking, that’s how dependent on this little piece of technology we had become. It sounds stupid, but washing dishes really sucks, y’all. We are super happy to have a dishwasher back in our lives.

As for work, I had planned to use the bus system to get there for at least part of the way. I did this for two days, and then I decided to just drive all the way in. As it was, taking the bus, I was still driving 45 minutes in the morning, and then riding a bus for 30 to 35 minutes. The alternative was to drive all the way in, which only takes about 55 minutes, but I was sure that parking near my building would be nearly impossible. Well, it turns out that it’s not so hard to find a space (I’m parking on the street less than two blocks from my office), so I’m driving all the way now. It’s saving me an hour of my day, which is worth more to me than the environment these days (sorry, environment!). It also wasn’t cheaper to ride the bus. The bus costs $2 each way, so I was spending more doing that than I do in gas driving. So, it’s back to the car for me.

Tonight we are going to a local bar that is showing The Big Lebowski, which only further proves that this is my kind of town. I’ll leave you with a cat picture, because I know y’all love those. Happy Labor Day!

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