Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kelly Go Bragh

Happy St. Paddy's Day-After from Bella and Isaiah down by the creek in a field of clover. Some of you might recall my posting from last year's celebration off the sea-snake-filled waters of Brasilito--if not, scroll thru the archives for a trip down memory lane. This year, Outback Jacks not being, sniff, a sweaty option, our plan was to head down by the port docks to the Salty Dawg, for the advertised corned beef dinner. Great. As we wound our way down the one lane road that follows our creek, forks in hand, Andy asked, "Should we get Uncle Buster?" So we crossed over the river and wound our way up his one-way road to his sunny perch on the hillside, pulling in amongst the rusting cars and agate-filled sinks spilling into the garden. It's a bit unkempt, you might say as the understatement of the year, navigating your way past prehistoric cobwebs. Andy roused UB from his slumber and out he came, looking like Santa in a black leather jacket, gun in hand. Gun?

"This is for Isaiah," he announced, a shiny black and chrome 22 the proferred offering. Now, I happen to be in the middle of reading Before you Know Kindness, a novel about a girl who accidentally shoots her father unaware the gun is loaded.

"Is it loaded?" I gulped. Buster extracted the rod and sure enough, 6 or 8 little bullets fell out on the seat next to Bella. Great.

"Is the safety on?" Andy asked.

"Red means it's on," Buster showed Isaiah. (Later, back home at the yurts, Andy would show the same red spot and inform Isaiah, "Red means it's off.") The gun went in the back, Bella put the bullets in the cup-holder, clearly an unadvertised innovation, and my nerves became a bit more frayed in the face of my 6-year-old with a fistful of the only kind of gold the day would bring. We headed downriver past a herd of grazing elk to the Dawg--the actual spelling as I discovered but I am getting used to these things.
It was a beautiful sunny evening but the wind was cool off the water and Bella was dressed for Outback Jacks, purple flip-flops and all. So we scurried to the entrance, our tastebuds ready for corned beef, only to be met inside the door by a surly waitress definitely not of the happy leprechaun variety who barked that the dining room--vastly exaggerated in nomenclature as "the garden room"--was reserved for a private party. Now, mind you, we had eaten in desperation at the Dawg a couple weeks ago which is why we knew that they serve no butter, only nasty fake stuff, and that they were hosting the annual eating of the corned beef. On that night we were seated in "the garden room" since the rest of the place is a bar/restaurant and there is a sign posted between the two rooms that says No Minors Past this Point but we had joked with the waitress as the bathrooms are located on the "other" side and Bella, as usual, had to go at least twice. She-of-the-not-so-sour-disposition told us that kids can go in there, not a problem. Now the only thing the Dawg really has going for it, especially if you like real butter, is that it has been forced to join the ranks of the non-smoking. But having filed away this little No Minors reality check and now finding my way to my ancestral corned beef blocked by the ugly stepsister of the kinder, gentler waitress, I simply said, "Okay, then we will go to the other side."

"NO kids are allowed in there," she hissed before playing her nasty trump card, "And we are out of corned beef anyway."

"Well, then why are you advertising a corned beef dinner?" I gasped incredulously, my Irish blood starting to boil at the thought of missing my annual corned beef fix.

"We've been serving it since 11," she sneered over her shoulder, clearly finished with the likes of us, the uninvited.

Now, of course this begs too many unanswered questions, not the least of which could be,"Who eats a corned beef dinner at 11 and wouldn't that be called a lunch?" You are not in that bastion of all things Irish anymore, Lassie, I told myself, meaning Costa Rica. Stunned, I remained in the warmth of the garden room entrance in deference to Bella's tropical attire, reading and re-reading the false advertisement for their corned beef dinner, while waiting for Xana to get dropped off to meet us while Andy marched past the NO Minors sign to work the crowd. The triumphant witchy waitress made a point of shooting daggered looks at me in between taking her green beer orders, pausing her scribbling only to aim a dramatic roll of her evil eyes like I didn't understand English or whatever. Once everyone converged, we left. Kelly Go Bragh.
There is a new little diner around the corner so Andy suggested we try that. We blew around the corner on the exhaled cloud of nicotine from the desperate Dawg patrons and entered the place which is smaller than a very small yurt, instantly greeted by the cloying smell of fryolater which clung desperately to our every hair follicle and clothing fiber. The owner is a large character in a town full of them and he was seated in a side alcove hunched over his computer, never bothering to make the effort to rotate his bulky girth around to talk to us while we guessed at the veracity of his sign which did say "open" and which appeared to be so as there was a decidedly non-Gaelic-speaking couple busily eating their fish and chips, explaining our freshly acquired scent. The six of us along with the two fish eaters commenced to guessing if he was open, wondering aloud if he had given up at 6:55 because the hours Sharpied permanently on the sign threatened that it would, indeed, flip to Closed at 7. Unable to persuade the big guy to turn from his screen where clearly his Free cell game or Facebook account were proving irresistible even in the face of 6 whole paying customers in a local economy that put the Dee in Decline, we took the rather obvious hint and left. Again. Welcome to Waldport is not the sign that greets our visitors as it would, indeed, be a stretch. What our sign does say is, Waldport, Home of the Fighting Irish. No comment.
We hurried back thru the cloud of smoke and into the warmth of the Silke-mobile, where I ascertained that the gun was pointing towards the back, just in case. "I want to go to Outback Jacks, floor it," I announced, the 22 our only passport. We cruised beneath the proverbial one stoplight in town which is typically blinking yellow and hit the main street of Waldport with my blood cells screaming for a salty beef fix, passing the only other Wallyworld culinary options - Grand Central Pizza, Geng Sing Chinese (sacrilege, both of them) and the notorious Flounder Inn which is a scary place to drink much less "dine" although I am sure some of my ancestors would have happily acquiesced to a liquid dinner and turned their thirsty selves right on in. Trying to set a good example for the kids in a town where parenting has become a lost art, we headed south to Yachats, quelling our hunger while enjoying the St. Patrick's Day sun sinking into the Pacific. We drove along the coast, reminiscing dreamily about a place 3000 miles further south where the party was in full flip-flop swing complete with bagpipes retrieved from Peru, an acapella-singing amiga, and plenty of smiling non-Waldportonian-type faces.
Pulling up to the Drift Inn we encountered a lass in a green velvet shirt and Irish plaid skirt drifting out of the inn so Andy rolled down his window to inquire as to the status. She said she thought the wait was too long for dinner and was heading for the Adobe instead. We parked and Andy went in to inspect the situation while Buster got out, crossing the street towards the ocean where he encountered a scruffy hitch hiker and proffered a smoke while we watched from the warmth and safety of our armed vehicle. "That's called sharing," Bella informed. Andy returned with the happy news that yes, there was a table in about 5 minutes and we all piled out. Heading towards the bar I noted the towel-covered Irish soda bread resting at one end and my blood began to sing along with the Irish band. Bella and I shared a stool by the soda bread while the fiddle-playing lass sang an old-country yarn. As the notes lingered in the air, Bella sighed, "That was the best song I've ever heard."
The whiskey flowed, the corned beef was tender, the cabbage was green, the mash had little green onions, and the soda bread was typically short but would have been better without those blasted caraway seeds. We ate, drank, tapped our feet, and were filled with good ole' Irish cheer, momentarily forgetting the cursed Luck O' The Irish I grew up hearing muttered about by me mum when faced with situations of a decidedly unlucky nature. A precocious young lad sat at the next table with his parents and little sister and as they rose to exit he informed me that they lived far away from the ocean in Talent and extricated a precious muscle shell and a rock from his jacket pocket--gifts from his day at the sea.

"You should ask Buster what kind of rock that is," I told him, pointing the way to the guy who looked like Santa. Clearly a brave lad, he marched on over.

"It's a Leverite," he returned to tell his trusting Mom who had amazingly not stopped him from talking to strangers in an area full of them.

"You will have to write that in your journal," she said.

"Buster knows his rocks," I assured.

Our Irish blood restored to its proper salinity for another year and our tropical dreams temporarily forgotten in the face of our full bellies, we all drifted back out of the inn to a perfect sliver of moon cradled over the sea.

"You could hang a pail on that," Buster noted.

"What kind of rock was that?" I asked as we drove away.

"Leverite," Buster replied knowingly.

"As in leave 'er right there where you found 'er," Andy snorted.

We all laughed. I wonder if that family from Talent will think to question the authority of a man who looked like Santa. Will they ever recognize that treasured rock for what it really is--a Blarney Stone.



  1. Just found your blog - love it!!!

  2. You're making me yearn for the clock to roll back so I can chomp down on corned beef again! Actually I ate mine in a sandwich at lunch that day, but your eventual St. Paddy's Day dinner sounds enticing! As does the one you mention in Costa Rica!