Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not the Intended Use, but Better than Tiny Tacos

My brothers, SILs and I threw my parents a combo 40th anniversary/retirement party a couple of weekends ago. If you're familiar with my style of party planning, I like to torture myself with the EXACT RIGHT details and when I agreed to my brother's taco-truck-dude-as-the-main-food idea, I immediately started agonizing over how we could possibly do tacos + polished and classy.

But then it came to me!

We were already planning a red and orange color scheme and I could country it up a bit by using red gingham linens and renting jelly jars instead of glasses and then instead of the taco guy's regular plates, I could get those red and white checkered nacho-ish paper boats and VIOLA, I'd have an adorable way of making casual, chic.

I'll share more about all of that later, but I wanted to tell you about how I looked on eBay for those paper boats and once I figured out what they were called, I found a handful of listings. Some of the options were blue, some were in boxes of 5,000, some were $20 with $30 shipping, blah blah blah. I love a good theme as much as the next girl, but I didn't want to be so obsessive that I lost touch with what was reasonable.

BUT WHAT IS THIS??? 1,000 for $20 and $5 shipping??


And then they arrived and they were teeny small. Like the size of a computer mouse. I didn't want my guests to feel like they could only eat ONE taco, so these just would not do. I gave them to my dad, who I was sure would find a million uses for them that did not involve serving people one taco at a time.

Fast forward a week or so and my dad forwarded me an email thread from a lady with an organization called Reptile Rescue and Rehoming. It appeared that he'd put the tiny trays on Craigslist and the thread was about how a lady named Paulina was going to come and get them, great, he'd put them on the porch, and then she got them and yay, Paulina had her trays and my dad had the garage space back.

It took me a minute or three to realize that there were attachments to that email:

I must admit that I'm not a reptile fan, but I sort of feel warmth toward these particular reptiles and I love that the tiny paper trays found a good home and that the reptiles appear to be enjoying their new dishes.

I double love that Pauline thought to send the pictures and triple love that my dad knew I'd appreciate them and I don't at all regret that purchase. (Even though I ended up finding the appropriately sized paper trays at the restaurant supply store for $10.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

That One Time When Carrie and I Went to Guam

[Editing to add: I have no idea why the formatting is all messed up. I'm not fixing it. Just pretend it looks non-jacked up.]

Oh hey, remember when I went to Guam FOUR SIX NINE MONTHS AGO and never blogged about it? Or only started to tell you about it, but really only got to the getting-to-Guam part and totally slacked on the whole being-in-Guam part?

Well allow me to remedy that!

(So the reason you're supposed to blog about things relatively close to when they happened is probably because it's hard to remember a lot of the details when you try to do it four six nine months later...I could have created HUMAN LIFE in the time it has taken for this post to get posted...sheesh).

I went to Guam!

Carrie and I have a friend, the lovely Alyssa, whose husband, the handsome Dr John, got a job at the University of Guam so they moved to Guam and we figured WHY THE HECK NOT go visit Guam when you have a friend living there??


Seriously you guys, when friends move to tiny islands in Micronesia, you should visit them.

This is the beach that is a two minute walk from her house:

And in order to get to that pretty little beach, you have to walk past houses with a lawn that looks more like green carpet than lawn.

And past orchids that just grow like they're weeds or something.

And then you get to the beach and there people BBQing who just run up to you and give you beers. BECAUSE THEY'RE BEING NEIGHBORLY.

It's crazy how nice people are there.

Especially these people, but I knew that going in:

Also: There are coconuts everywhere! Some of them appear to be sprouting and growing into palm trees (which by the way, are not trees at all...they're just big grass...which is a fun fact I picked up when I worked for PG&E and made friends with the tree guy).

And speaking of PG&E, I can't stop taking pictures of electric meters when I see interesting ones, even though I haven't worked there for like five years:

The backyard:

There's this flowering tree right outside John and Aly's front door and the flowers smell AMAZING:

I was all, "I don't know what kind of flower this is, but someone should make lotion out of it because daamn, I'd like to smell like this."

And then Aly was all "Yeah, it's plumeria."

So, someone already beat me to that. Apparently I'm not the FIRST person on the planet to recognize that plumeria is heavenly. I think that may have been one of my favorite Bare Escentuals lotion scents circa 1989, back when they were a lotion store instead of a makeup store.

One of my favorite facts about Aly is that when she moved to Guam she realized that she needed a machete for her car because, in addition to all the orchids that just GROW, there are BANANAS! Just hanging out and growing! Why buy bananas when nature is giving them to you FOR FREE?

They're smaller, more yellow (yellower?), and more banana'y (apparently they're TRUE bananas and the kind we get at the store in the US are sort of actually boring in terms of bananas, but they have thicker skins and are easier to get from A to B without a lot of damage) and I don't remember if this EXACT banana was one she machete'd from a tree on the side of the road, but they made for a perfectly delicious breakfast:

On night one in Guam we went to a German beer and brat restaurant called McKraut's. 

Ever go to an island in the middle of nowhere and not at all anywhere close to Germany and have delicious sausages and kraut and beer served to you by a probably drunk German?

No? Then I'm sorry for you.

Dinner was delicious and it really set the tone for Guam:

1. Lots of things in Guam are a little bit odd.

2. There are a surprising number of totally-not-native-and-not-military people there, but they're not really all that forthcoming with how exactly they ended up there.

On day two, after getting a late start because we were watching the Superbowl (on a Monday morning -- because we were on the other side of the planet and all), we ventured into town and hit up the local KMart.

I specifically needed something for my allergies because something on Guam was NOT agreeing with me and I was a mucousy mess. While we were there we did some souvenir shopping, bought a bunch of weird food and alcohol products that we'd never seen before (Guam has some American things, some Asian things, some Australian things) and oh hey, let's just check out the bathing suit section really quickly to see if maybe they have one that will fit me so that I can return the $160 bathing suit I don't really like but had to keep because I couldn't find my super unflattering Target maternity bathing suit (the same one I've been wearing for two years because I never get around to buying a non-maternity bathing suit...the same one that is wildly unflattering as soon as it gets wet because OH YEAH, I'M NOT PREGNANT).

And then the angels sang and I saw a suit that looked like it might be my size and it was only $50 and I was gonna buy that damn thing because an unflattering $50 suit was more than three times as awesome as an unflattering $160 suit.

And then I turned over the tag and saw that my $50 bathing suit had been marked down to $5.


Surely that was a mistake.

But then we turned a corner and saw a WHOLE BUNCH of bathing suit racks with big $5 signs on them.

And holy crap you guys...that suit was ACTUALLY AND FOR REALS FIVE DOLLARS!?!?

It was.

There was another suit I was thinking about buying because OMG FIVE DOLLARS! JACYLN SMITH COLLECTION! But the other suit was a tankini and the bathing suits were $5 per piece and HELL NO was I going to spend TEN WHOLE DOLLARS in order to make a whole bathing suit, so I passed.

Also: Look at Jacyln Smith trying to fake me out that this might be a Tory Burch bathing suit (as if TB made fat girl bathing suits at all, much less $5 fat girl bathing suits sold at KMart):

My dad will have no idea who the hell Tory Burch even is, but many of my lady friends will recognize the gold medallion thing.

So that was the Great Bathing Suit Coup of 2012.

I think it was that night that our lovely hostess ate something that didn't agree with her and kept her down for the count the next day, so she gave us the keys to the car and some directions that involved instructions like "turn left at the Heineken cans" and "drive past the parking lot and into the jungle," along with a promise that we'd end up at the most beautiful place on Guam.

And then we found ourselves here:

And then we realized that there were car nooks every 50 feet or so down that road. #3, represent!

(Also: I picked up that sarong in Hawaii circa 1996 and handed it down to Carrie circa 2000 and she's been using it for beachy excursions ever since. She's really getting my eight dollars worth!)

Before hauling all our stuff out of the car and down a jungle'y path for nothing, we went to check things out and to make sure we were in the right place.

After a 45 second walk through the wilderness, the trees parted and this is what we saw:

So, yeah. I think we were in the right spot. 

We turned our asses around immediately and went back to get our supplies, including some sun exposure warning wristbands I picked up at the ol' KMart (FOR MORE THAN MY ENTIRE BATHING SUIT COST!):

 And all the fruity "wine" we could carry:



Totally gorgeous, right?

Well, even more "OMG I am in a fake place" about the whole thing was that giant butterflies kept flying out of the jungle:

And then flying around our heads and then flying over to the water, kissing it with their butterfly wings, and then flying back into the jungle.

Like we were in a Disney movie, I swear.

We eventually packed up and began the journey to one of the big hotels on the island so we could watch the sunset with more fruity beverages, but not without stopping for all the photo opps we came across:

And then we found the fancy hotel our hostess directed us to:

And made friends with the bartender, who had just written a resignation letter (that I proofread for him) because he was about to move to Seattle, sight unseen:

And then we watched the sunset:

And then we took the bartender's recommendations for dinner and after dinner cocktails. The dinner was good, the dessert was better (chocolate wasabi cheesecake), and the after dinner cocktails had potential (we went to a bar dedicated to and frequented by the US Navy submariner crowd), but those submariners had social issues and NOBODY talked to us except for the lady bartender...until we got up to leave and then SUDDENLY they were all interested to know why we were leaving.

Lame, gentlemen.

Despite the lame submarine crowd, it was a really awesome day - one of my favorite days ever, I'd say. The only thing that would have made it more awesome was if our hostess hadn't been holed up at home, nursing a post-bad-shellfish stomach.


In order to get to Aly and John's house you have to drive past a place called Jeff's Pirate Cove. We saw it every ride to and fro, and one day Aly had to go to class, so she dropped us off at Jeff's so we could experience the magic.

We'd been seeing the cartoony pictures of Jeff outside the place every day, so getting to meet the REAL JEFF was a highlight:

Jeff was another one of those "I'm not from here, but I have chosen the island lifestyle" types we came across a few times. He's an interesting dude and has a thick Boston (? I don't remember exactly where...but it was northeast mainland USA) accent, which was unexpected, and was also more of a fuddy duddy than I thought he'd be, given the goofy persona his marketing projects.

I suspect he was once a hootin', hollerin' good time bar owner, and then started getting tired but had to keep up appearances.

Oh, Jeff.

I remember he smelled freshly showered, but with the beginnings of B.O.

I don't remember being hammered during the Jeff experience, but all the pictures sure make me look like I was:

But however many tropical beverages I sucked down while Aly was continuing her education, they were nowhere near as potent as whatever the hell it was that Carrie drank at the bartender's suggestion. Apparently, when you're at Jeff's Pirate Cove and the bartender asks if you'd like to try their homemade rum, the answer is NO.

Here she is looking all pre-rum and pretty, but it didn't take long before she was whispering to me about how hard she was trying to keep her shit together:

Aly eventually came back to collect our drunk asses and joined us for lunch and a photo session on Jeff's compound:

I don't get why these cutout things were so exciting, but we took like 75 pictures that are all pretty much the same.

It was January, but Jeff wasn't the only one who still had his Christmas decor out.

True story: She's been my stand-in husband for years:

So, this Yokoi dude is a local legend. He was in the Japanese army during WWII and all but one other member of his posse were killed so he spent the next few decades living in a cave on the island, waiting for the war to be over.

Obviously, when he was found in the 70's, the war was wellllll over and it makes me sad that nobody ever came to get him, but it sure does make for an interesting story.

A couple weeks after we got back I got an OMG YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHO IS A GUEST ON THIS PODCAST call from Carrie, and it was JEFF, talking about the anniversary of the Yokoi discovery.

Jeff and Yokoi were with us not only in Guam, but also in California!

NOT STRANDED! Happy to be there!

I remember two things about this cutout photo session w/ Carrie and Aly:


2. The sun was SO BRIGHT.

From there we went on a drive up the side of the island we hadn't been to yet. Carrie got awfully close to some sort of cow-looking non-cow, but I think Jeff's moonshine made her brave.

I *think* that if you go far enough out into that water, you'd hit California. Actually, you'd probably have to aim considerably north too, unless you wanted to go to South America.

But I could totally be making that up.

That night we went to a huge outdoor market where I spent a lot of time in the one air conditioned space because OMG IT WAS HOT. Not any hotter than the rest of our time in Guam, but considerably more crowded than any other place we'd been and without a breeze.

The people watching was fascinating though -- I saw more white people there than I'd seen in the whole rest of the time we were on Guam. What the heck they were doing there was confusing for me because they were not adventurous, "Hey Bob, let's go to GUAM!" types and seriously you guys, Guam is SORT OF remote -- not quite somewhere you pop off to for a quick weekend trip. MY best guess was that they were visiting their children in the military? I dunno. 

We'd heard that the market featured a few freaky or giant animals that you could pay for pictures with so Carrie paid a dollar to hold a giant sea creature:

I look all healthy and glowy, but really I was sweating my ass off.

And then suddenly, like five minutes after we got to Guam, it was time go leave. I remember feeling sad that we had to say goodbye, but being SO SO SO GLAD that we'd been there at all.

Airport Outfit Photo of the Day:

The largest cockroach I've ever seen lives at the Guam airport:

If you read the getting-to-Guam post, you'll know that we accidentally ended up in first class on the flight from Tokyo to Guam and I wasn't in the mood to fly coach (I know, such a princess), so I asked about the cost to upgrade. Carrie wasn't interested in paying for an upgrade so she waited with the bags while I had a very confusing conversation with the check in lady. Apparently day-of-upgrade requests for international flights were UNHEARD OF and they were so confused that I'd want to sit in a seat other than the coach seat I'd been assigned and I was so confused that they'd have open first class seats but didn't want my money in exchange for the privilege of sitting in one of them.

But okay, no dice. I will take my coach seat and be happy.

So we went to the gate, sat around answering tourism surveys conducted by a lovely Japanese woman that seemed to be aimed at understanding if the nuclear disaster in Japan had an impact on our willingness to travel to Japan.

And then the plane started to board and I was next in line to hand the ticket taker my boarding pass and I heard "MISS HOLT?!"

And I turned around and it was the lady from the check in counter.


May I have a word with you?

Uh. Sure?

And she handed me two new boarding passes -- one for me and one for Carrie. I have NO EARTHLY IDEA how that happened or what motivated her to go out of her way for us -- other than ALL THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE ON GUAM ARE SO NICE, but hot damn...THANK YOU!

And as easy as that, Carrie and I traded our coach seats for free first class seats and flew to Tokyo.

And when they ask you if you would like some Baileys with your after lunch coffee, you say YES:


Internet, please know that Dr John and Alyssa could not possibly be more wonderful hosts and Carrie and I could not possibly be more grateful for their hospitality.

I'll end with this:

We were discussing that Guam is like a more rustic Hawaii. Aly hit the nail on the head when she said that Guam is like Hawaii's little sister who hasn't yet learned how to put on makeup and do her hair.

Guam doesn't have the polish that Hawaii has, but GOOD GOD, she's a beauty.


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