Lawn Ornament Unveiling Report

The Lawn Ornament is staged and ready

After traveling through Argentina and Brazil, half heartedly searching for a suitable lawn ornament to adorn our new yard, I returned to Portland, took one look at that bare mulch in front of our picture window, so longing for decoration, and got on a plane to Florence, the art capital of the world.

I found what I was looking for and was also inspired to start a new zine series, The Very Hungry Caterina, which, in turn, was inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Because when I am in Florence, I eat through everything.

Once I was back in Portland, I realized a work of its caliber deserved an unveiling ceremony. I was also looking for an excuse to have a party. It had been a long time since I’d seen my friends.

Fortuitously, my cousin Khamoor sent up a package around the same time. Inside was something I had always wanted and never remembered to ask for or buy for myself. A PIÑATA!!! And not it wasn’t just any piñata – it was A STEGOSAURUS PIÑATA!!! (I looooove receiving packages like this in the mail. My address is 9815 N. Syracuse St. Portland OR 97203 if anyone else ever wants to send me a stegosaurus piñata or anything else like that.) Now Khamoor told me that this was a grown up piñata with a few very special things inside for me, and so to make sure I didn’t leave it up to the kiddies or stand back when the thing finally broken open. As Khamoor’s 3 rad daughters, Kiera, Melia and Jessa have recently formed a company and started banging out the coolest fingerless gloves (also in the piñata package!) and headbands that don’t slip, hold hair back well and look good and probably other stuff I haven’t seen, I was drooling to get inside of that piñata.

Last summer, Joseph helped our friends Danielle and MacGregor deliver the finest fresh wild caught sockeye salmon straight from Bristol Bay to grocery stores all over Portland. (Joseph’s really great at driving big scary refrigerated trucks and carrying things around, among other things.) In exchange for all that salmon handling, we scored ourselves a box of salmon. The trouble is, they’re whole. They’ve been gutted and deheaded, but it takes more than 2 people to eat a whole salmon. And so every time we thaw one, we have to have a dinner party. Last year I was so busy making spreadsheet after spreadsheet for the IRS, who doesn’t think I’m much of a writer, buying a house, freaking out about buying a house and beating myself up about not being much of a writer,  that we didn’t have as many dinner parties as normal. So salmon season is not so far away again and we’ve got a chest freezer full of fish. And sooooo, along with the unveiling ceremony and piñata bashing, our party included the triple bonus of more wild Alaskan sockeye salmon you could shake a piñata bat at.

I love the idea of Evites and Facebook invitations. They’re so efficient and colorful. But it turns out that they invite a level of flakiness in invitees heretofore unseen. I invited maybe 30 people. The way people respond on these things is strange. When they just click ‘no’ and don’t say anything, I worry. Did I say something? Did I do something? When they write a comment about why they can’t come, then it’s all good. And the maybes. Those guys really do my head in. Especially when I thinking about how many salmon to thaw. And the yesses. They still flake! But more than anything, it’s the non-responders who drive me crazy. Some of them are actually planning on coming, but they don’t say anything. The whole thing gives me hostess blue balls. Next time I’m going to go buy some kiddee invitations and just snail mail them out. I’ve been sending out a lot more mail lately, as I’ve been hoping to get more mail. (Again, that mailing address is 9815 N. Syracuse St. Portland OR 97203.)

So the big day came. I had bought a yard of dirt the day before, dug up the center of the mulch circle, planted a zillion different kinds of bulbs including a couple really fancy ones. Lots of deep reds and blues and rich oranges to contrast with our dark green house. And all that mulch. I also put in some giant delphiniums, dark red nasturtiums, love in a mist and other colorful, fragrant cover flowers.

Mmmmm. Salmon Insides. Bob Huff Took This Picture and Then I Stole It Off Of His Facebook Page Because I Am Shameless

I pulled out two medium sized salmon and stood over them for most of the morning mumbing, ‘come onnnnn thawwwww ya little bastards’ as I anxiously laid my hands on them to speed them out of their frozen state in time for dinner. I convinced/begged my dear friend, Brian, to make us a pasta dish reminiscent of that extreme muffin top inducing black truffle/tagliatelle/butter number I was enthusiastically hoovering in Florence last week. He obliged by scoring some of the first morels from the season, washing them about a zillion times, and churned out this morel/butter/tagliatelle situation that did the tango with my salmon in a such a sexy new way that I considered giving up on ever fitting back into my jeans and going for some new stretchy black yoga pants and 2nds, 3rds and 4ths instead.

But I get ahead of myself.

About 16 adults showed up and 4 kids, in addition to Jordan, who was stoked about the piñata and all of the kids. The kids partied upstairs and spent the night trying on every article of clothes in Jordan’s closet and having their own strange little kid time up there. Cyrus might have given himself a black eye at one point. But he was a champ about it.

I was kind of nervous about the unveiling.

We make our opening remarks and respectfully request that guests refrain from photographing the piece once it has been revealed

I knew I had to make some opening remarks. Joseph and I had a request to make of our camera happy guests. And would the unveiling come off without a hitch?

When the last expected guests had arrived, I turned up the volume on my speakers and made my opening remarks against Aaron Copland’s great orchestral piece, Fanfare for the Common Man. Joseph followed with our mutually agreed upon request that guests refrain from photographing the actual work itself once the initial veil was removed, as we believe it truly is most powerfully experienced in person. 1/3 of our guests put their iPhones back in their pockets.

At the climactic moment of the big reveal, the guests burst into laughter.

I spat out a couple of obligatory thank yous and shuffled everyone out back for the piñata.

Piñata Breaking Rules Strictly Enforced: 20 spins, 3 whacks

Brian Uses Jedi Mind Tricks to Locate Piñata Without Seeing

Slightly Restless Chilluns and Broken Footed People Stand By, Unwilling and/or Unable to Spin and Swing Blindfolded. This is an ADULT Piñata Party. Weird Upstairs Kid Party To Be Resumed Immediately After Ground Has Been Scoured and Candy Has Been Scarfed.

Jim Delivers What May Have Been The Mortal Blow. He is Very Good At This Sport and It Is Also His Birthday This Week So He Gets Extra Swings.

I thought Khamoor said we had to wear a blindfold and spin everyone 20 times. Nobody barfed but some people came close. The kids wouldn’t go near the thing because of the blind fold and all of the spinning, so the adults got to have more fun than normal, when

After we have felled the preternaturally tough-hided stegoñata we adorn our heads with its body parts. This is an essential component of every proper lawn ornament unveiling ceremony. In this photo, Joseph's extended tongue is a subtle nod to the beginning portion of the famous Hakka war chant, Gene Simmons and his Miwok ancestors. I just look that way because I have gas.

there’s a piñata around. Unfortunately, being a stegosaurus and all, the piñata had a preternaturally tough hide. After everyone was at least 2 turns in and the thing was barely dinged despite many good whacks, we eased up on the rules, spun people a mere dozen times, let them have 5 swings instead of three, and finally let the 4 year old girl, Odile, just wale away on it without a blindfold or anything until a single piece of candle dripped out. First blood. I don’t remember who made enough of a rip in its hide to merit Joseph and I just helping it to open all the way. I quickly spied and snatched two of the headbands made by my genius cousins and tucked them into my back pocket while the other guests were distracted – the adults by the lemon verbena soap, the kids by the candy and peanuts.

With the successful unveiling and piñata bashing behind us, there was only the feast left. All of that salmon cooked up beautifully on the grill and since it is still winter, and people haven’t overdosed on salmon yet this year, it disappeared completely down people’s gullets along with that incredible pasta. If Joseph hadn’t cleverly hidden away a half a case of wine in the wine refrigerator thingie, I could say we drank all the wine in my house. We did get through two cases of beer and 12 fabulous bottles of wine that night.

A good time was had by all.

It was the best party we’ve had in our new house yet. Now that I’ve moved the furniture around a couple of times, we’ve had some good parties and I’ve dug up and planted and puttered around the garden for a few days, it is starting to feel like a home around here.

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Long may it continue!

(Thanks to Julie Mills and Bob Huff for the stolen pictures! Thanks to the Poehlmanns for the piñatas and best headbands and handwarmers ever! Thanks to Brian for the pasta! Thanks to Mary for the eating binge and company in Italy! Thanks to all of the guests and chilluns for making it such a great night and helping to warm our house up! Thanks to Danielle and MacGregor for the fish! And thanks to Joseph for being practically a saint and always a willing participant in my shenanigans!)

One Response to “Lawn Ornament Unveiling Report”

  1. Khamoor says:

    Wow, I have never actually seen a person suffer 20 spins pre-whack. That must have been one sick crowd!

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