Category Archives: News

We were SO young

hippie dogThe other day I was riding my bike home from work. I rode past a quiet neighborhood on the Boise Bench, populated by mostly what I’d call the next generation older than me. When I ride my bike, I love to gawk around at my surroundings, check in with feeling good about being alive and all that jazz.

So when I saw this older, hippie-type dude, long, grey hair past his shoulders, jeans, t-shirt, walking around an old VW van — my mind was blown. Wow, I thought, that guy used to be a young hippie dude, and in the blink of my eye, I SAW him, young, standing straight, not a little stooped over like now, walking in that cool dude walk. If you’re my age, you know what I’m talking about, or even if not, just think of that cool, nonchalant yet affected walk that cries out: I am a cool dude.

That blink brought up so much. Because, you know what?

We were so young. Our hair was long and flowing. Our skin was young. Our bodies young and — they could bend in ways I can hardly remember. We were young and we believed, truly believed, we were changing the world. We had important opinions and intellectual discussions. We were passionate about our causes. We loved our friends and wanted to be friends with everyone. We thought age was something we would never know and we sneered and laughed at it.

We were so young. We were SO young.

And, just for a moment, in the blink of an eye, I remembered. What it felt, looked, smelled, and sounded like.

Thanks, old hippie dude.

You made my day.

The Owyhee saga continued…

Stop in the the new Oasis Bar by Kindness at the Owyhee. Photo by Jeanne Huff

Stop in the the new Oasis Bar by Kindness at the Owyhee. Photo by Jeanne Huff

Sometimes a story doesn’t end – it’s: “To be continued.”

Thus is the ongoing story about the new Owyhee.

Last week, I wrote about getting a sneak peek at the new place after Clay Carley spent about a year remodeling and restoring it to its historical original self (sans hotel). The grand opening was held July 9 for the former hotel, now in its new incarnation as an apartment building with a spacious lobby, restaurant, bar and catering service (called Kindness), and event space. (To read the story, click on this link: http://idahobusinessreview.com/2014/07/08/the-iconic-and-now-historic-owyhee-and-kindness-a-sneak-peek/)

This week, I am writing an update because there is new news to share on two fronts: 1.) The Kindness Bar’s “Oasis Bar” is opening at 5 p.m. July 16 – and the first 75 people in the door get a penthouse after-party wristband for the Owyhee Rooftop.

2.) I have received one of the most exciting recipes I’ve ever gotten and can hardly believe it: It is for Gamekeeper Oysters (or prawns as you prefer).

It all happened after Matthew Villegas commented on the sneak-peek story I wrote. He had worked at the old Owyhee and said there were two great things he got from the experience: there he met his future wife; and the recipe for Gamekeeper Oysters.

As soon as I saw that, eyes a-popping and heart skipping a beat, I emailed Matt, on a long shot, asking if he could possibly share the recipe, not daring to think he would.

He wrote back: “I would love to share this recipe with you as I feel that is what you are supposed to do when you find other people who are passionate about good food like I am.”

And when I thanked him (profusely), told him I was going to make it for my birthday (July 19) and asked him if I could share it with others, he said: “You are so very welcome! Happy birthday to you, Jeanne. And yes, you are more than welcome to share this with others.”

Saturday, I will be whipping up a batch of oysters then heading on down to the Oasis for a martini.

And I invite you to do the same!

Matt’s Take on Gamekeeper Oysters (*if you prefer prawns, just substitute)

While it’s been a good two years or so since I’ve made these, it’s pretty basic and should turn out just like you remember them. I’m going to assume this is for two people. (You’ll need) about 8-10 oysters.

1.  Items you’ll want ready before you start cooking the oysters:

Room temperature softened salted real butter

About 2 cups of basic brown sauce

(For the brown sauce if you are not familiar, we just brought water to a boil in a saucepan and added beef base for flavor.  Add the beef base in smaller increments as you don’t want it to be too salty.  When that returns to a boil, taste it and add roux (equal parts melted butter and flour to thicken the sauce) — olive oil can be used in place of melted butter for a healthier alternative but that’s not why we are here right?  Keep the brown sauce hot and set aside; should you get roux clumps you can strain them out.)

2.  Next, gather the following and have set aside as the cooking process goes quick and you will want to have the following ready to go before you drop the oysters in the oil.

½ tablespoon dried dill weed

The juice of 1 lemon

2 splashes white wine (little less than ¼ cup)

1 tablespoon of minced shallots (garlic can work in place of shallots)

¼ cup of small-diced scallions or green onions

3.  Next ,start your vegetable oil in a pan – 1 to 2 tablespoons, the key is to have the oil hot for the oysters to be crispy, but use caution. Dredge your oysters in seasoned flour, consisting of paprika, granulated garlic, salt, pepper and all-purpose flour. When the oil is hot shake off the excess flour and carefully drop the oysters in around the pan, so they aren’t touching, as best you can. They will only take about 1.5-2 minutes per side. Remove the oysters and set on a paper towel or something to drain. Pour off the oil as the trick is to make the sauce in the same saute pan you cooked the oysters in. Put the pan back on the heat and throw in the dill and shallots, quick shake of the pan and add the lemon juice and white wine and allow to reduce.  When 1/4 of the liquid cooks off add the warm brown sauce and let simmer for 30 seconds to 1 minute until well incorporated.

Next, pull the pan off the heat and stir in the butter and scallions. Be sure to do this off the heat or the sauce could break.

Arrange the oysters on a plate and cover with the wonderful sauce you just made. Serve with lemon wedges and great sourdough bread to not leave any sauce left behind.

Enjoy.

– Matt Villegas

THANKS, MATT!!

A Willy Wonka of Idaho

willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-gene-wilder-image-600x337When Jackson McKenzie was in the sixth grade, he felt like his life was pretty boring. So, at a school show-and-tell he decided to beef things up a bit. “I made up that I liked to beat world records,” he says. Fueled by a lifelong love of reading Guinness World Records – “I’ve read every one since 2000” – McKenzie had stuck his foot firmly in his mouth. But then, something magical happened. After contacting the Guinness people and finding out that the easiest record to beat was creating the world’s largest M&M mosaic, he actually made his show-and-tell proclamation come true.

“I did it,” he says. His mosaic was a picture of a tree, a monkey and a sun. He glued the M&Ms onto a plastic grid and created the whole thing in his room. “But, it wasn’t official.”

Now, McKenzie wants to do it again, only this time, he wants to make it really matter. He has contacted the Guinness folks, and knows what “evidence” is required. He has designed his creation – a 124-square-foot mosaic that includes the state of Idaho and a snippet of our state song, “Here We Have Idaho.” (The current record is: 74.92 square feet.) McKenzie estimates it will take close to 30,000 M&Ms.

Jackson McKenzie, 17, and his M&M mosaic plans. Photo by Jeanne Huff

Jackson McKenzie, 17, and his M&M mosaic plans. Photo by Jeanne Huff

With the help of his dad (Idaho State Sen. Curtis McKenzie), he reserved the rotunda at the Idaho State Capitol for two weeks to allow he and his team to assemble the mosaic. “We will be working from July 27 to August 9 and the record breaking mosaic will be in display the following week,” McKenzie says.

Originally, he posted his project at $6,000 on Kickstarter, but he says he overestimated the costs. His new goal is $3,500 and he has a website set up for fundraising at http://jacksonmckenzie.com/.

Anything he receives over the amount needed for materials – M&Ms, Elmer’s Glue, a plastic grid, and paper and wood for support – McKenzie plans on giving to Go On Idaho, http://www.go-on-idaho.org/, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Idahoans continue education past high school.

So, if you want to help McKenzie actually make his sixth grade declaration a reality, send him some M&M money. In addition to his website, you can contact him by phone – 899-0753 – or email: mckenziexjackson@gmail.com. He says all project finances, including every donation and expenditure, will be tracked and publicly accessible on his website.

Whadya say, a little help to help jazz up McKenzie’s summer – and to give summer tourists something extra to see at the capitol?

Let’s do it!

Go, Jackson McKenzie!

Go M&Ms!

Go, Idaho!

Or, in the words of Willy Wonka: “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination…”

For real.

On the Fly is SO fly

L-R: Brick 29 and On the Fly owner and chef Dustan Bristol and manager Doug Stinson cranking out sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts for the lunch hour crowd. Photo by Jeanne Huff

L-R: Brick 29 and On the Fly owner and chef Dustan Bristol and manager Doug Stinson cranking out sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts for the lunch hour crowd. Photo by Jeanne Huff

I have a new favorite sandwich joint. It hasn’t been open long — officially, just a few weeks — but I have been there about 10 times already and have tried just about every sandwich and soup of the day. Everything is delicious. At least for this comfort food loving girl from Kansas, it is truly comfort food kicked up a notch. Well, actually, quite a few notches.

And that’s exactly what On the Fly’s chef and owner Dustan Bristol intended when he came up with the idea. It’s what he had in mind when he added bacon jam to his egg salad sandwich. When he decided to take on that mother of all comfort food sandwiches – bologna. He remembered his favorite bologna sandwich from his childhood. “My grandparents had that bologna with the olives in it,” he says. And, of course, they served it on Wonder bread with mayo. So, his take on the classic bologna sandwich includes green olive tapenade, aioli, organic arugula, sliced tomato and house-made bologna — “that way I know what’s in it,” he says — on white bread custom made for Bristol by Mathieu Choux of Gaston’s Bakery. “It’s like Wonder bread on crack,” he says with a smile.

I don’t doubt it for a minute. I am one of the addicts that start lining up around 11 a.m. hoping to grab one of the sandwiches at the ready — the egg salad and the bologna regularly sell out early. Or, if I’m feeling extravagant, I might sidle up to the counter and order a fresh, made-to-order hot sandwich. The regulars include grilled cheese Panini (sharp white cheddar, Monterey jack, shaved red onion and pear), a Reuben panini (with house Louie dressing and Swiss cheese fondue and roasted cabbage tossed in vinaigrette in lieu of sauerkraut) and a daily special.

My friend Jason says On the Fly’s roast beef sandwich (with Manchego cheese and house made Bearnaise aioli on a baguette) is the best he’s ever had.

All the usual suspects are there so whatever your go-to comfort sandwich is, you won’t be disappointed; rather, you and your taste buds will be delighted: turkey (house brined and rotisserie-cooked with roasted red and green peppers, smoked gouda cheese, aioli and dried chili pesto on baguette), chicken salad (again, house brined and rotisserie-cooked chicken tossed with vinaigrette, fennel, red onion, raisins, blue cheese crumbles, fresh basil, toasted walnuts with aioli, organic arugula and sliced tomato) and how about this: cashew butter and jelly (house-made cashew butter, boysenberry conserve and fresh banana on that better-than-Wonder-bread bread).

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of other sandwich places downtown, many of which are pretty good to great: there’s the Bleubird (my second fave), Subway and of course Jimmy John’s, to name a few. And there are restaurants aplenty where you can get sandwich specials of the day as well. You can get a sandwich that will satisfy your lunchtime hunger in any of those establishments (the Bleubird will tickle your taste buds with panache, but you have to wait on line, and some of the fare is a little more spendy). At On the Fly, most sandwiches are grab-and-go, and cost about five bucks, a few a bit more, some less. And that’s a pretty great price point for deliciousness. The place also has ramped-up soups, salads and desserts. I dare you to sink your teeth into the Rice Whiskey Treat (think of  your childhood’s rice krispie treat on steroids — comes with salted caramel sauce for dipping) and not flutter your eyes in OMG ecstasy. And if you like breakfast sandwiches, I highly recommend the Croque Madame (fried egg, house ham and Swiss fondue). The only downside I could find on my trips there was that if you want one of the hot sandwiches that are made to order, you do have to wait a few minutes while they make it. But in my experience, the end result was worth the wait.

Bristol, also owner and chef of Brick 29 in Nampa, says he modeled the sustainable, local, whole food, real food, grab and go concept on the trendy and wildly popular Pret a Manger, that started in the U.K. and now has locations in Hong Kong and New York. And, he already has plans to take the entire On the Fly enterprise up a notch or two: he envisions online ordering and bike delivery service in the near future that will rival that of the competition’s. “I would love to have a concept I could standardize and duplicate. We want to be aggressive. I think we offer a better value than Jimmy John’s.”

He wants to be the sandwich king.

One bite is all it will take to know that if anybody can take on Jimmy John’s, Bristol can.

 

IF YOU GO:

On the Fly, 800 W. Main, Suite 200. 344-6833. http://ontheflydeli.com.

On Facebook: On the Fly Rotisserie Deli.

It is in the new Eighth and Main building in downtown Boise. Just hang a right at the top of the escalator.

Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts. Also grab and go entrees.

Today’s word is: responsible

photo 1It all comes down to being responsible, people.

Yes, I’m talking to you, dog owners who don’t bag up your dog’s poo.

And, yeah, I’m talking to you, too, dog owners who bring your furry not-socialized friends along for the hike.

You, too, trail bike riders, with no regard to “hiker’s only” signs — or to hikers.

And, most emphatically, I’m talking to you, dog owners who have no business owning a dog.

Here’s why I’m talking: I’ve been doing a lot more hiking lately. Trying to get in shape because the old middle-age spread is not an old wife’s tale, like I kept hoping. So, while walking up Tablerock, I’ve been noticing there is a lot of dog poop. Fresh and gooey, dried and shriveled, teeny-tiny and ginormous. Right. On. The. Trail. God knows what is out in the wildflowers, weeds and boulders. Why? Why? Why?photo 2

There are handy scooping bags conveniently placed at the trail head and they’re FREE. So, why all the poop?? “Part of being a responsible dog owner is picking up the poop,” this is what I told my grandson Max when he, my daughter, Tracy,  and my granddaughter, Julia, inherited Puppet. We practiced in my back yard where there is usually a fair number of poop scooping opportunities. Yes, he hemmed and hawed, “I can’t do it, I’ll throw up, it’s so gross!” But finally, herking and jerking, he passed the smelly Easter egg hunt test. If he can do it, so can you!

And about you dog owners who bring your snarly, aggressive companions along for the walk — don’t. At least, not until you and your friends take a class, there are a number of dog training classes available, some even free. Call PetSmart or Petco or Zamzows or the Idaho Humane Society. We took Payton through the Scotch Pines Dog Training and he actually graduated. He got a little cardboard graduation hat and everything. And he is “socialized.” So, if he passes another dog, or a group of 10 dogs, a person using a walker or a baby in a stroller — he is not a threat. Sometimes, he even lays down to let others pass. If you have a dog, even if he is on a leash, that you are unsure of, “I don’t ever know what THIS one will do,” LEAVE THAT DOG AT HOME. Because, I don’t want your dog attacking my sweet little Puppet.

Bike riders who share the hiking trail: pay attention. Scootch over. Slow down. Once, I saw a guy on a unicycle coming down the trail. No kidding. It doesn’t matter what you’re riding as long as you ride it — and the trail — responsibly. There are families, kids, babies, dogs, grannys, people with walkers, canes and disabilities — you need to watch out for all of us.

Finally, I have to say a few words to you who do not deserve to be dog owners. You let your dogs — untrained, aggressive and vicious — roam the neighborhoods. Your animals are not wild animals they are domestic but because you are so irresponsible, they act like wild animals. They terrorize other animals and people — two of them murdered my friend’s sweet kitty. He was just sitting in his spot. In the early morning sun. Shame on you. Give your dogs to Cesar Millan (he’s the dog whisperer, he knows how to rehabilitate dogs but I think training you is hopeless).

It’s just about being responsible.

Get your hand basket out

friends-tv-showWow, I don’t know about you, but it really seems like that old saw “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” is really happening. Maybe not for me (I’m knocking on the proverbial wood right now) and hopefully not for you — but lately I’ve been inundated with super sad news about my friends — and their friends or family members.

I find some of the sad news on Facebook. In my newsfeed, where I like to dilly-dally and scroll through funny videos of cats terrorizing dogs, or babies and puppies sleeping together, I’ve been stabbed in the gut with updates that are definitely not warm and fuzzy. And again, I don’t know about you, but every time it happens — and like I said, it just seems like it’s happening more and more — a small part of me that I am definitely not proud of, makes my finger waver over the thumbs-up “like” button. Sometimes that small, almost tiny part of me (thank God it’s nearly infinitesimal) rolls on by to the next, hopefully, much more upbeat update. Maybe another funny cat video.

But I really do like my friends — even all of my Facebook friends, some with whom I am really not that well acquainted.

And I do really want to help if I can — with a kind word, a sympathetic sentence or two. It’s a kind of a new way to reach out, and I’m not sure we are all yet comfortable about it. God knows, we have a hard enough time reaching out in person. I think it’s harder yet to do so with the buffer of a computer screen or phone scroll. Nobody knows you’re really there, right?

But like I said, I do, I want to help — and, when I can muster it up, sometimes a “comment” is all I’m good for. And many times, so many times, I wish I was better at saying something special or meaningful or coming up with some magic words that will ease my friend’s pain or suffering. Or maybe help her find a smile. maybe make him laugh.

Because, me too, I hate cancer, house fires, car, motorcycle and bicycle accidents. I despise crippling diseases, autism and Alzheimer’s. If I was a billionaire, I would give all my money to all my friends, hoping that in some way, I could buy them what they need or at least make it so their pain might be lessened with 500 pounds of ice cream, or their burden eased by an exclusive, intimate Louis C.K. in-home concert.

But all I got is words. And here they are. Today, although I am heartsick about one of my friend’s sister’s recent cancer diagnosis, and another of my friends whose husband was in a tragic motorcycle accident, and another one who is dealing with the mind-numbing trauma of visiting her mother who doesn’t remember her name or her face — I am going to single out two of my friends who are dealing with hardship. I am going to tell you about them, I’m going to tell you their stories, and maybe you will tell your friends about them and maybe they will tell their friends — and maybe we can just all pitch in to make a difference.

And if we can do that, we can be as good as billionaires toting suitcases of cash. We could bring as much joy as ice cream and maybe even bring as much happiness as a night with Louis C.K.

My friend Christine: Christine (who many call Queen or Queen of the Universe) lost her home and all her worldly possessions — yes, even her iphone — in a fire just before Christmas. She ran out of the blazing inferno with only the clothes on her back — and those were hacked off in the emergency room. Oh yeah, and she miraculously came through this ordeal relatively unscathed, except for eyebrows, eyelashes, singed hair — and a really nasty third-degree burn on the back of her leg. She just completed her third skin graft at the burn center in Salt Lake City.  There is a fund set up for her that you can donate to:

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/ffIA7?psid=a3a73a8e07ca45edb9d03d5fca5d3380&fb_ref=share__c2h9p3

And my friend Will is putting together an event fundraiser that will be held at the Visual Arts Collective Feb. 21. Music, art, silent auction and more with all proceeds after bar tab going to Christine.

Here’s my second friend’s plight and plea: Meet Alex’s sister, Monica

When my brother Dan passed away a few years ago, one family who came to his memorial was not one familiar to me — but one with whom Dan had become close to. They worked at Dan’s favorite restaurant, Baja Fresh. He went there at least a couple of times every week and they knew to start his order — he always ordered the same thing — when he pulled into his parking space.

Alex — her name is actually Alexandra — had dropped out of high school and Dan constantly chided her about it, telling her to get her G.E.D. — “I’ll pay for it,” he would say. Alex did get her G.E.D. just a month ago. And, sort of filling in for her Dad and his promise, Dan’s daughter Dana stepped in and paid for it. I was the lucky person who got to deliver the check: 1619589_10202452354262866_1224159130_n

Well, while I was there, Alex told me about Monica, her 25-year-old sister. Monica has kidney failure and needs a kidney transplant, and hey, she also just had a stroke and found out she has a bad heart. Her mother, who, yes, is still working at Baja Fresh on Broadway in Boise, is frantically trying to figure out ways to make money to help her daughter. They need to raise $5,000 for the surgery and so far are up to a little more than $1,500. You can donate here:

http://www.gofundme.com/63j8dk

This is the only way I can think of to help my friends. (Not a billionaire, remember?) And I vow to help as many as I can. I vow not to skip over their Facebook posts for funny cat videos — I will still watch the cat videos of course, but only after I say a few heartfelt words to my friends.

I turn now to the Beatles :

Please let me know if you have friends who need a little help from their friends.

Peace and love

A Seasonal Survivor

people-at-post-officeI’m a survivor. Not only do I feel like one, Linda, the U.S. Postal worker at the window where I eventually landed, corroborated it. “Congratulations – you survived.”

Today I went and did one of the least intelligent things one can do. I went to the Post Office. On the busiest day of the year.

In my defense, I was sure Wednesday was the busiest day. And, that I had beaten that marker by two whole days. I even sort of patted myself on the back, all kind of gloating about it. After all, I’d wrapped presents all day Saturday and Sunday, all 31 of them. Fourteen each for my two sets of in-laws – we do “the seven days of Christmas” (don’t ask) – and three more for my mom-in-law and sis-in-law who each have a January birthday. More gloating because: why, I was so clever to get the birthday gifts in the flat rate boxes.

My smugness was short lived.

I arrived at the U.S. Post Office a little before 9 a.m., bag of wrapped gifts, separated into two piles. A line of bedraggled and confused looking people snaked to the outer door. A postal worker sang out: “Number 104!” I pressed the button and got my number: 122. Oh boy.

Well, I thought, I will just mosey over to the flat rate box self-packaging area and get started – I’ll be totally done by the time my number is called. That was my first misstep. Because there are a number of self-service packaging areas, and I didn’t see one labeled “flat rate.” A fellow DIY-er had to show me where to go. So I sat down my Santa Claus bag and got started.presents

Misstep No. 2: The presents wouldn’t fit into the “medium” sized box. After I had splayed them out across the counter and folded the cardboard edges, it was clear they weren’t going to fit. OK, I’ll get the large box. But the large didn’t have self-stick strips on it like the medium one. I looked around for some tape – not really frantic or anything (yet). No tape in sight.

I stuffed the gifts back into the bag and walked into the main room to find tape. “Tape? Do you see any tape?”

There was only “priority” tape and I was planning on sending my flat rate boxes as inexpensively as possible – that’s why they call them “flat rate,” right? So, no thanks for the priority, which, I assumed, would cost more.

“If you don’t have any tape, there’s some on the wall. Labels, too,” called out a postal worker who must have noticed my where’s-the-tape glazed over eyes. OK, now we’re getting somewhere. I grabbed my packaging implements and started for the worktable out in the hall.

“You can’t go out there with the tape and labels – you’ll have to do all that in here.”

OK.

“Number 112!”

I started to sweat. I was wearing my winter coat and faux fur hat and I was going about 100 miles an hour trying to jam the presents into the boxes – and get them taped up and labeled – before my number was called.

Then, another postal worker pointed out that I did not need the tape and labels I had grabbed from the rack – yes, my boxes were flat rate, but, they also were “priority” mail. Huh? So, that meant I could use the priority tape and priority labels, free of charge.

Alrighty then.

“Number 114!

I began assembling box No. 1. The priority tape was really, really sticky and kind of hard to maneuver. Plus, I found out – but not soon enough – that it was not in the kind of dispenser that cuts the tape for you. The dispenser had a pair of scissors chained to it for that purpose. Huh. Awkward.

“Number 118!”

Beads of sweat popped out on my brow. The line of people waiting was growing. I couldn’t get the tape to stop snarling. I was still on the first box.

“Number 120!”

Now there were about four of us using the same tape dispenser with the ball-and-chain scissors. We all were trying to hurry and at least once I worried that I had maybe snipped more than the end of the tape as a flurry of clumsy hands kept grabbing at it because we all wanted to hurry, hurry, hurry to get it done before our numbers were up.

I started on the second box.

“122!”

Oh no!

“Hey,” I called out to the people in line, “that’s my number, but I’m not ready, does someone want to switch numbers with me?”

“No number switching!” A really cross looking postal worker gave me the stink eye. “If your number is called, go ahead and finish and just approach the counter and wait. We will get you after the next person in line.”

I finished taping both boxes, filled out my labels and was just about ready to move to my place at the side of the line. I looked at my labels. I looked at my boxes. Both boxes were the same size. In the frenzy of the tape and the cardboard folding and the numbers being called out and the line getting longer and the Soup Nazi Post Office rules – I totally forgot which was which. I thought I knew, but what if I was wrong?

I couldn’t handle the idea of that, so I did what I imagine a good third of the DIY Christmas packagers do – I opened one of the boxes to peek inside. Just to make sure. After carefully setting the proper labels on the correct boxes, I moved to my designated slot. Finally. I stood there bedraggled and confused like everyone else looked, and marveled at the fact that I was a professional business person, got a real paycheck and everything, but here, perspiring and laden with lumpy boxes wrapped with gnarled taped, in the bowels of the U.S. Post Office, a week or so before Christmas, I felt anything but bright.

“Next!”

Nearly two hours after I had arrived, Linda began processing my boxes and ringing me up. “It’s pretty busy today, huh?” I was attempting small talk. “But this isn’t the busiest day, that’s Wednesday, right?”

“Nope. Today is the busiest for shipping. Tomorrow is the busiest for mail processing, and Wednesday is the busiest for delivering.”

“You mean, I came to the Post Office on the busiest day of the year?”

“Yep,” she smiled. “Congratulations. You survived.”

The U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver 420 million packages this year for Christmas – a 12 percent increase over 2012. If you haven’t gotten your packages in the mail, I suggest you hurry on down to your local U.S. Post Office, take a number and give yourself an hour or two. Oh, and, you might want to box up your presents before you get there.

My take on it

filmz.ruWARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Kill Your Darlings is a well-acted, semi-interesting, peek-a-boo-style look into the early machinations, mischief and misdeeds of the literary Beat Poet geniuses Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.

I say “semi-interesting” because some of the more graphic stuff I really could have done without – especially with my poor, sweet, innocent mom-in-law along for the ride. Little did she know – or I’m sure ever would have imagined in her wildest imaginings – that my little “writer’s group assignment” outing to the movies would be something she would “try to pretend” she never saw. I know she wanted to wash out her eyeballs.

After we dropped my friend off and we were alone in the car post movie, I tried to break the ice with “Well, that was … interesting.” Her response, an outburst: “Another one of my icons bit the dust – first Hannah Montana with all her twerking – and now Harry Potter!”

I tried, in vain, to point out that he (Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg) really did a pretty good job of acting – “he didn’t have a trace of a British accent,” I said. The look I got in response could have gotten its own Academy Award nomination. I would say this about it: she looked daggers at me.

The fact is, the storyline is not merely about the early creative spurt that ignited the Beat movement – although, to be sure, there are frenzied scenes of drug-fueled, manic typewriting, book pillaging and cut-ups-slashing fireworks and library hijinks aplenty. But the real story here is a love triangle gone bad. Way, way bad. And, since the love triangle involves three males, and since the three males were attracted (one obsessively so) to one another during another time when such things were mostly considered to be taboo, and, since the whole thing explodes on the screen – in many more ways than I was comfortable with, especially taking into consideration my movie buddy – in the heady, jazz infused and debauched sleazy New York City/Manhattan confines, and since it ends with a murky death for one and messy denouements for the rest – well, that made the way, way bad worse. Story-wise, I mean.

In the end, I was struck with a sort of curiosity about the “honor” killing defense bandied about in the film – was that really real? Did that really happen? My, how things have changed — and what does that say about the tentative realities we believe in today — here today, possibly gone tomorrow?

I wondered if the drugs and sex stuff was amped up (haha – one of the drugs they took was Benzedrine, they put ampules of it in their coffee – good morning!). I wondered how they all not only remained friends, but, according to the prolific publishing that history shows came later as they birthed the Beat Poet movement, but also fueled one another’s success, as if egging each, one after the other, to climb higher and higher.

And, I came away feeling dazed and yes, a little heartbroken.

Harry, we hardly knew ya. Another one bites the dust.

Tangling with Mother Nature

Photo on 2013-09-23 at 15.16This blog may be of interest only to “women of a certain age.” I am not sure why, how or when that came to be a part of our lexicon, and I for sure am not happy with it, but I have to admit I fit the criteria.

Most of the time, I don’t think about it. My health is pretty good, although I’ve had a bit of a tussle with my lower back off and on. And when I sprained my ankle during the summer by sort of falling off of my really adorable wedge sandal while walking to a lunch meeting, it did cross my mind that I probably should have taken more heed to the calcium-is-your-friend advice. But overall, except for about 20 pounds that crept up and have taken happy residence on my thighs, bum and tum, I’m pretty healthy.

It’s true, my hair has changed into a color I like to call silver, but I only recently discovered it when I decided to “go natural” and find out what was really sprouting out of my head. Ever since I spotted my first grays, probably in my early 30s, I have been close friends with Lady Clairol and her cohorts. And, oh, what fun we’ve had together, mixing and blending colors like chestnut, auburn, fire-engine red, brunette, auburn, mahogany, blonde. But yes, silver is my newest shade.

The thing is, I may be of a certain age, but the age I operate from is of a much younger age. I just don’t feel of a certain age. And I sort of resent it when it confronts me. Like yesterday.

It was at my annual — that’s what we women call our yearly appointment with our lady doctor. One of the things I wanted to talk to her about was the whole hormone thing. I was of the notion that not taking medication must be better than taking it. She said I was wrong.

She then told me, this woman of a certain age, in no uncertain terms, that after women go through menopause, their bodies, well, begin to die. “Our purpose, according to Mother Nature, is to make babies,” she said. “When we run out of eggs…” She clearly must have seen the rictus of horror on my face. But she bravely went on: “You see, we fool Mother Nature with hormones. Otherwise, our bodies just go into decline, they’re not useful any more.” She said women of a certain age who do not embark on hormone therapy statistically develop brittle bones, arthrosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, they lose their hair, get wrinkled and shriveled up, sex becomes really painful if not nonexistent (sorry, but like she said, everything becomes a dried-out husk) — and the list goes on and on.

So, yeah, this woman of a certain age left my doctor’s office with a hormone prescription (low-dose, bio-identical cream). See, I don’t mind my new silver fox ‘do, I can camouflage a few pounds with smart-looking empire-waisted jackets and dresses.

But hey, not that excited about shriveling up and having a heart attack. I’ve got things to do, people, and I want to be around to dance with my grandchildren and maybe even my great-grandchildren.

And I don’t care if it’s not nice — I’m gonna keep fooling Mother Nature, at least for a bit longer.

Bobbleheads: They’re ba-ack!

You may still be able to get one of these.

You may still be able to get one of these.

Last year, when I stopped to get a Kellen Moore Bobblehead at Jacksons I was denied! I couldn’t believe it – by 8:30 a.m. I was two hours too late.

I wasn’t about to miss out this time. They released the Jamar Taylor bobbleheads for sale at 6 o’clock this morning.  I was there one minute later.

At first, I was worried I still didn’t make it in time. After all, anticipating last year’s bobblehead frenzy, Jacksons had issued a press release stating they would begin passing out numbers for queuing up in line at 2 a.m. When I pulled up at the Fairview Jacksons – purportedly its most heavily trafficked store – there were quite a few empty parking spaces. Inside, the line was average – I was the fourth one back.

Had the rabid bobbleheaders already come and gone?

As I stepped up to the counter, I caught a glimpse of telltale bobble boxes stuffed into my fellow shopper’s bag across the aisle. The woman at the counter told me the limit was two per person.

“I thought there would be a line,” I said.

She rolled her eyes. “I thought so, too. I got here at 2,” she said. She added two others got their line numbers right after she did. Then a couple more stopped in to wait until the magic hour. But all in all, it was not the mad rush of yore. The store had received 76 bobbleheads, and there were still about 70 to go.

When I called the store at 8:36 a.m. and asked if they still had bobbleheads, someone named Bobby said, “We sure do.”

“How many?”

Pause.

“A lot.”

I pressed Bobby as to why the run on bobbleheads was so different from a year ago – did he think it could be because the Broncos had hit a bit of a slump?

He didn’t skip a beat. “Oh, yeah.”

Now, even if that’s not true — although I did hear ticket prices have recently been lowered  — the thought that Boise Bronco fans could possibly be so fickle really bothers me.

I like to think of my hometown fans as a better lot than that. Bronco Nation should keep the Bronco Mania steady as she goes, right? After all, it’s much, much bigger than the expanded Bronco Stadium with the attached Steuckle Sky Center and the 34,000 blue-and-orange-clad attendees. Our Boise State Broncos have generated impressive team revenue, ramped up Boise State enrollment, and many say they’ve boosted our local economy big time. In fact, Jana Jones, director of economic development services at Boise Valley Economic Partnership, said being a Broncos name dropper opens economic development possibilities for Boise nationwide.

They may not be winning every game, but they haven’t lost their cachet, she said. Just say the word and conversation blooms. People start talking about their own Fiesta Bowl experiences — “I was up until the morning watching it,” said one East Coaster. “I couldn’t go to sleep until it was over.” Or they just want to know about that blue football field.  “For us, it’s still one of the things that opens doors for consultants and business owners across the country – especially on the East Coast. There are so many fans there who live and breathe college football.”

In an article this summer on Forbes.com on the economics of football, the Broncos were singled out for the impressive revenue the program generated in the 2011-2012 season — $15+ million.  Reporter Alicia Jessop said Boise State generated a higher net income than schools including Texas Christian, Northwestern and Louisville.

Tell you what: I hope all of the Jamar Taylor bobbleheads are sold today. If you hurry, you might just snag one. And I’ve get my iPhone calendar set to alert me at 5 a.m. on the rest of this year’s bobblehead release dates – Oct. 11 (Shea McClellin), Oct. 25 (DJ Harper) and Nov. 8 (Buster Bronco). I’m going to get them all (fingers crossed).

But if you missed getting a bobblehead and really, really, really want one – like I wanted the Kellen Moore boblehead last year – (read about the surprise ending here)– send me an email. IBR reader Beth Hagen of Kuna came to my rescue last year and offered me one of her Kellen Moores, inspired by the Starbucks customer who had anonymously bought everyone behind him a coffee that morning.

I’m ready to take her lead and pay it forward.