Fascination

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The Fun Farm is a little bit north of Bend, Oregon, east side of the highway. It's hard to spot, because the town won't allow signs on the highway. Just look for the bowling-ball tree and the field of goats.

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We showed up about 30 minutes before closing, but as we learned at Petersen Rock Gardens, "Bend time" is a relative thing. Apparently someone heard us drive up, as the door was unlocked and we were ushered in before we had a chance to drive away.

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The mouth is an electronic kaleidoscope, using scenes from The Wizard of Oz to create ever-shifting images.

Originally called The Funny Farm, it was founded by partners Gene and Mike, and houses an antique and costume shop in addition to a yard full of outsider art. When you first enter the shop, you are greeted by a large dollhouse, and the sound of The Wizard of Oz. Soon you realize that the movie is playing on a tiny television inside the dollhouse.

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Tin man.

Once vibrant, the Farm has fallen into a genteel decay since the death of Gene's partner, Mike, in 2005. While we were there, work was being done to get the place ready for free wedding day. It's usually in July, but they're running a bit behind, so you'll be able to get married or renew your vows at the Love Pond in August this year.

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Dusty bottles await a purpose.

I think we missed a lot when we were there. I've seen several pictures online of things we didn't see. I felt as if I were intruding on something private, rather than visiting a tourist spot. Part of that feeling came from being there so close to closing--I always feel funky about that--but a larger part came from the quiet, the disarray, the decay. Nonetheless, I'd like to visit again next year. Next time I'll go in the early afternoon, and I'll follow the map to make sure I don't miss anything. What I did see, you can check out in my flickr set.

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The king of the garden surveys his domain.

There are a few things I love more than letterboxing. Which is why, when we recently went to Central Oregon for a letterboxing event, I spent some time touring the local outsider art.

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Petersen's version of Independence Hall

Rasmus Petersen immigrated from Denmark, and built the Garden in the last 17 years of his life, from 1935 to 1952. It was his tribute to his new homeland. He collected local rocks from the mineral-rich, volcanic landscape surrounding his home. Obsidian for a shiny facing, shells for an accent, and the occasional delight of a thunder egg.

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Plaque (out of frame): "Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think."

Peacocks, cats, and chickens roam the grounds. We wished we'd brought along the grapes from our hotel room. Peacocks love them some grapes. The day was bright, and two other families roamed the garden with their children. I had hoped to visit the museum, and though it was scheduled to be open, the doors were locked. I hear there is a display of fluorescent rocks inside. Ah well, maybe next trip.

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No trolls under the bridge--just tadpoles

I was charmed by every bit of the place, even the decay, that allowed us to see the metal barrels supporting the masses of glued and cemented rocks that made up a tiny building. We plan on going back to the area next year, and I'd like to visit when the museum is open, and perhaps get some better pictures. Here's the rest of the set on flickr.

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Wandering through an antique shop in downtown Forest Grove today, I found a treasure. I am fascinated with old photographs, but generally pass them by because I want so badly to know about the people pictured that it becomes frustrating.  This, I could not pass by. For the princely sum of $5, I took home an intimate piece of someone's life: a scrap book from the 1880s.

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The gorgeous Art Deco cover bursts with peacock feathers, flowers, and landscapes. Within are pasted amateur poems clipped from the local newspapers, birth and marriage announcements, obituaries, woodcuts (mostly waterfalls), and the occasional inspirational story, even a scolding article about stingy husbands.

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Inside the front cover is the only color illustration: a sailboat, with the hand-written caption "May my birthdays be life's golden mile-stones."

While I haven't gleaned the name of the owner, I do know some things.

  • The clippings are from the paper in Weston, Oregon, so I'm assuming that is her home town.
  • She is a most sincere Baptist and a believer in temperance.
  • Beelers and Dentons are mentioned many times in the announcements, so she may be a relation. Interestingly, there is a wedding announcement for Ella Crawford of Pendleton. Crawford is my birthname, and my father's family is from Eastern Oregon. Perhaps I'm hold the scrapbook of a distant relative?

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Many pages are missing, and the ones left are mostly loose, so it is difficult to determine order. I do think our scrapper used this one book for most of her life, as her handwriting clearly ages. The front pieces are from the 1870s. Here is a later page, with something even older, and a note:  "Torn from wall of my birth place [...] Scio about 1912. Probably used as wall paper by my parents." I'm guessing she was visiting in 1912? Or perhaps there is more than one author? On the back of this page is a note that appears to be different handwriting: "Polk Co, June 23 1877."

Here are some gems from the pages:

MARRIED. DAVIS-BARKER -- On Sabbath, Aug 26, 1877, at the residence of Taylor Cotton, in this city by the Reverend T.B. White, Mr. Commodore P. Davis and Nellie J. Barker.
Accompanying the above notice was the most delicious silver cake, which received due attention from the whole force. Mr. Davis is one of our best young men; honest, capable, steady-going and temperate, he fully deserves the rich prize which has fallen to him. May they meet with nothing but happiness as together they float down the stream of time.

--

BORN,--To the wife of O.G. Beeler, Sept. 15, 1890, a girl. Weight eight pounds.

Oren goes around with a look of utter bewilderment on his face.

--

A BOY'S DETERMINATION

G.E.B.S

You can't make the pledge too strong,
Though I'm a little shaver,
I'll to the temperance ranks belong,
And never, never waver.

King Alcohol's a foe to all,
Who give him any quarter;
The best of drinks for young and old,
Is pure unmixed cold water.

No brandy sling, or cherry bounce,
No wine to soak a cracker;
Nor will I touch a single ounce
Of that vile weed--tobacco.

Though rum and ruin rule the world
They shall not conquer me.
I'm pledged to total abstinence,
The true way to be free.

No word profane my lips shall pass,
Nor filthy juice bespatter,
I will not touch the poisoned glass,
Though all the world may flatter.

Then when I grow to be a man,
And vote for legislators;
I'll do the very best I can
To beat the temperance haters.

Aren't you just dying to know what a cherry bounce is?

A few years ago, I received an email from a friend, asking me to forward it along in an attempt to get it to its target--a stranger to me--and to fill out a questionnaire for a worldwide study. I was fascinated, and duly forwarded the email to a friend in Australia. Here are the results at last. Turns out it's really 5-7 degrees of separation (okay okay, saying six is close enough, and successful trials depended disproportionately upon business connections.

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I've been seeing a Saturn commercial that leaves me blinking. I think there's a subversive at the ad company.

The ad begins with a soothing piano solo, and we see a man jogging out of his garage, backing on to the road, and jogging off forward, as if he were maneuvering his car.

Next come a number of scenarios where we see only people--no cars--on streets and highways. They are spaced as if they were driving...showing us just how much room cars take up. The soothing music continues, as if to say how calm life would be without automobiles.

Finally, the pitch comes. Three silver Saturn models overlook what I believe is Los Angeles at dusk--horrible smog layer and all.

Thank you, Saturn, for making my point so eloquently.

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On Christmas at around 9:00pm, Bill answered two wrong numbers. They were both the same woman, calling for someone named Wendy*. She sounded drunk. Bill was very kind to her. Later in the evening, when we were in another room where we couldn't hear the phone, she called again. I didn't pick up the message until a few days later.

What resulted is a mix of poignant and pathetic. The woman is remarkably articulate for being so obviously inebriated (I didn't edit, except to add punctuation). I'm not sure what to think about it, but I know I want to keep it:

Uh, hello, Wendy I'm trying to reach you, I need to reach you, I know you're home. I know you go to work tomorrow. please answer your phone, honey. I'm begging you.

You're gonna get so much stuff, and that's all you care about from me, so please, answer the phone. Please, Wendy. I'll never ask you again for anything. And you're getting everything of mine. I mean everything. I made out my living will; you're getting everything. Please, Wendy, please, please, I'm begging you to call me back.

You always say you can call anytime, you can come over any time, but you know that's a lie. Please, honey, I'm begging you. Please, Wendy. I don't know how much longer I can stay awake. Please. Please. You're getting everything you've always wanted. You have been blessed with that and you are gonna be blessed again. Please Wendy, please.

I am your mom. I had a choice not to keep you or keep you and I kept you, even though it meant losing my life, I kept you. But I didn't, we both lived through it. I've loved you all my life, and I've seen you, I don't know what life was like before you. You're so cruel to me! I need you to call me. You avoid me, you lie to me. You say come over any time but you don't mean it cause you don't even have my coat, you lost it. My 23-dollar moisturizer is gone, everything, my book--my library book's gone, my stationery's gone, everything is gone.

I don't have anything any more. I don't have photos of you any more Wendy. I'm so proud of you and I don't have photos of you. I love you so much, why are you doing this to me, Wendy, why? If you'd stop doing it I wouldn't be sad all the time, don't you understand that? All you gotta do is call these doctors. I'll sign releases for you. Or all you gotta do is call Tony, he talked directly with them.

*Her name has been changed.

January 3, 2003 Addendum:

For the past two nights, a deep voiced woman (not Mom) has called asking for Wendie. Last night she was quite rude, accusing Bill of lying to her, and asking him if he was someone else--presumably Wendie's boyfriend. He was not impressed, and told her not to call again.

In 1967, Stanley Milgram sent packages to random addresses in the Midwest. He asked the recipient to pass them along to the person most likely to reach a target address in the Boston area. On average, it took about six people for the package to reach its destination. Thus the idea that we are all separated by six degrees of separation was born.

While fascinating, the experiment has been difficult to duplicate--especially worldwide. Columbia University is giving it a shot with their Smallworld program. Using email only, they hope to get thousands of participants to target a few final addressees. Because of the prevalence of spam and chain mail, it's difficult to get the emails forwarded.

Let that be a lesson to everyone who has ever forwarded chain mail. It really does damage trust in the medium!

In any case, you can participate by accepting an email or by being a target. Just sign up at the site. We'll see how many degrees there really are. After all, it is a small world.

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For reasons beyond the scope of this blog I purchased The Book of Questions today. I had to be led to it, as it was in a section of the store I'm ~sadly~ unfamiliar with: the romance shelf in the self-help section. It was nestled between such titles as Seduction, Making it Last, and The Secrets of Mind Control (!). It amazes me that books like Seduction and Sex for Dummies sell at all. Who the fuck would take that to the counter?? I suppose they all say they're buying it for a friend. Well, Seduction isn't so bad. At least it's not Basic Seduction for Complete Clueless Bastards.

Back to the subject...

Some of these questions are quite good. I thought it would be fun to post one from time to time, when I'm strapped for content. As in, every day.

Today's question:

"Do you believe in ghosts or evil spirits? Would you be willing to spend a night alone in a remote house that is supposedly haunted?"

I've felt things I can't explain. I've studied the subject a great deal, and because of this I am extremely skeptical of your average ghost story--I can nearly always explain it away, though I don't because people hate when you take away their mysteries. I tend to think that there are human possibilities we don't yet understand. I'm endlessly fascinated by what people call "ghosts", and would jump at the chance to camp in a haunted house, provided I could take some equipment and a couple friends.

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I realized as I was logging on to the www today that I've been using the same home page for years. I use My Yahoo and, believe it or not, I keep up with the new features. I tweak it like mad and get as much as I can out of it.

I flirted with the idea of creating my own home page for a while, but realized I didn't want to keep it up. Using my site doesn't work, because I don't necessarily want to link all my clubs, my email, my calendar, yadda yadda.

I'm curious about what others use for a home page, and why? Do you roll your own, or did you leave it at the default?

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In a MetaFilter thread from July, I learned that prior to WWII the Pledge of Allegiance (also known as the Bellamy Salute) was given with right arm stiffly extended. I expressed interest in seeing a picture of this, but at the time I didn't pursue it.

I just heard from someone else who was interested, and I decided to go looking.

This site held the prize. It is a creepy as I thought it might be:



(warning--the full size graphic is 129k)