Roadside America

There are times when a somewhat innocuous newspaper mention knocks the breath out of me. So it was when I read in passing that Olivia Goldsmith, author of many best selling novels including The First Wives Club, had died while undergoing cosmetic surgery. I was on the bus at the time, and there was no one to remark to.

So it was with this paragraph which spends a little more time on the subject of Roadside America’s closing then the passing mention of Goldsmith’s death did. It still caused that catch in my breathing.

When I moved from Somerville to Portland in 2001, my friend flew out to make the trip with me. I had purchased a guidebook called Roadside America, which directed us to the quirky things along the way. Of the sites we saw, the one that surprised me the most was the Roadside America attraction the author mentions.

In my memory, it was a sprawling setup. Miniatures of America that stretched through several stitched together buildings. It was, essentially, a huge model railroad, but when you neared the end of the winding path, the lights dimmed as if the sun had set over the landscape, an American flag was projected, and “America the Beautiful” played. I found myself surprised at the tears that sprung from my eyes.

There were a lot of things that could have fed into that feeling. It wasn’t yet two months after 9/11; I was making a huge move to a place I’d visited regularly, but never lived; my time in Massachusetts hadn’t been the greatest. But somehow that simple (and also complex, what with the lights and the projected flag and the music) picture of the sun going down over a miniature American landscape stirred up a lot inside me.

My visit to Roadside America was probably going to be my only visit. I don’t see myself making my way back to Pennsylvania in this lifetime. But it was a perfect visit.

The Thing I’ve Been Looking at on My Phone

Me on the morning after the election: Come on, Nevada! Let’s do it!

Me roughly seven times per day on all the days between the election and today: Come on, Nevada! And wait, what’s going on in Georgia?

Today I got up, fed the cats, listened to hear if the election had been called. It hadn’t, so I went back to sleep on the couch until Matt padded into the living room and told me that they had called it.

And I could finally, FINALLY, take the screen shot I had been hoping to take.

And Nevada still wasn’t done counting! Come on, Nevada!

Calming My Election Jitters

I broke down and bought one of those all-plastic (the main reason I was avoiding them) thread organizers. Then I treated myself to several palettes from my new favorite website Stitch Palette, where those of us who are not good at picking out colors that pop can find help.

I also included a cheat sheet in case I need to find the palette again. Plus there’s a list of colors at the bottom of each section.

I did all the thread winding and labeling while listening to election returns on NPR. But there was no news at bedtime, so I went to bed. Days later, I’m still waiting.

Hot tip for NPR. When you plan the coverage of the 2024 election, consider basing people on the West Coast, rather than the East Coast. I could do without, “It’s getting very late,” said at 8:10 p.m. While it was 11:10 p.m. in Washington D.C., on the other coast it’s nowhere close to late for anyone over the age of ten. And not everyone lives in the Eastern time zone.

The Things We Keep

Can you guess the age of this container?

Did you guess 22 years? If so, you are correct. When I lived in Boston in the 90s, my friends Cindy and Sara came to see me from Idaho. It was a very fun trip. We did all the Boston things, gossiped, and had a ton of fun.

At one point, Sara went with me to Star Market (Stah Mahket) to pick up some more Lucky Charms (I had bought them special for their visit) and we spent long enough looking at the differences in food between Massachusetts and Idaho that when we returned Cindy wondered where we’d gone to.

One of the things not in that South Boston supermarket? Adams Peanut Butter. It was a hardship for me (the Smuckers natural brand just wasn’t as good) and Sara felt my pain. When she went home she sent me this five-pound jar from Costco.

It’s a good-sized container, and I’ve used it since that time.

And soon the container will be older than we were on that trip.

Great Packaging from Little Dear

My first orders from Little Dear came in what we all probably think is standard packaging. A clear plastic bag with some paper stapled to the top. But Aimee Ray has been thinking about packaging and has upgraded to this situation.

Plain brown bag with stamp. Hole cut through the bag with a punch to let people see what’s inside.

Closed with a sticker.

Inside, all was neatly folded.

It was great to not have to throw out any plastic. I would like the retailers of the US (and those around the world) to follow her lead.

Voting. Plus a Creative Mailer

Look at all the paper things I shuffled through before I voted. This doesn’t include the online resources I used as I was doing my research. This is why voting by mail is a-mazing. When I used to have to go to a polling place, I scribbled notes on a piece of paper and hoped I covered all the right things.

This was a creative mailer. You’ll never guess what conclusion was.

My favorite question was “Who killed Packy?” Because while I think Packy died from old age and standard substandard zoo conditions for elephants, I know that point was brought up because Metro once promoted a bond measure that would build an off-site home for the elephants at the zoo. And then when it passed they never did! I’m still salty about that.

From the future, I can tell you that though I did vote for Metro’s Transportation Wage Tax (even despite being salty about the elephants) many people agreed with the sentiments of this flow chart and the measure didn’t pass.

More Plexiglass at Fred Meyer

Recently, Fred Meyer revamped their check stands in a way I find ridiculous. The checkers can no longer bag at their stations. Instead they must put everything on the conveyor belt to the end. This would be fine if 100% of the time there was a bagger, but in reality 95% of the time I’m in the store, there is no bagger.

In that case, the checker must walk around to the end and bag all the items. (I just bag my own, but not everyone does that.) Then they must walk back to their area. It’s a stupid, inefficient waste of time and clearly no one asked the people working what would make sense for them.

They also made it so the back half of the check stand is open, where once it was not. This also turns out to be dumb because: global pandemic. And so now we have these plexiglass structures.