Halloween, 2016

Every Halloween, the same.

The costumed crowd begins to form.
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Pulsing, pushing, the swarm overtakes the street.

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The animals, adorned and incentivized.

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The humans, well-accessorized.

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As dusk settles, a weariness takes hold.

Uphill they trudge with their prizes.

Towards home.

Oh, Halloween

Presuming you’re not so dim as to choose a racist costume or to go running around terrorizing people with a chainsaw (“This is Miami, he has a gun”) there is nothing not to love about Halloween. The weather is usually beautiful, the last of the leaves are about to fall, and everything is properly autumn. Soups because we’ve waited all winter. I made beef stew Saturday and pot roast yesterday and there’s not a meat in my fridge I won’t hesitate to braise because it’s finally cold overnight. We’re wearing sweaters again! Of course we have to take them off by noon but no one cares because there is a Tim Burton movie to watch when we get home.

I don’t think there’s a town in Utah that celebrates Halloween quite like Park City. Oh I know there are the pay-$20-get-lunged-at haunted houses throughout the valley, and the theme park Lagoon stays open late and has ghouls running around, and if I weren’t so old and tired I might venture over to some dance club or local theatre with my bag of toast, spray bottle, and lighter for a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Just kidding, you can’t bring your own anymore. In my day you brought your own toast.)

Here in Park City, Main Street shuts down for the afternoon so that entire costumed families can show off their holiday spirit. We call it “Howl-o-ween” because there is a “dog parade” but really it’s just bedlam, but just the sort of bedlam you know Park City can guarantee

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NEW FRIENDS NEW FRIENDS NEW FRIENDS NEW FRIE

Seeing more than one legit Chewbacca costume isn’t unusual. Despite prohibitive laws, there are open containers a-plenty.

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^^^HOW IT’S DONE^^^

All the bars and restaurants are participating in some way. Someone is usually playing spooky music and once they tried to stage a Thriller flash mob but everyone had been drinking and nobody knew the steps anyways. Typical.

It’s also the last big holiday before we get buried in snow, so many people decorate their houses for the event. Assuming we didn’t get a freak storm of course, which is always possible. My favorite street for this is Daly Ave. You’re in Old Town, so the houses are old and spooky anyways, plus they’re close together and you get a lot of bang for your walking buck. And the kids luck out as well; they can trick-or-treat on Main at all the shops plus they can trick-or-treat the houses once it gets dark.

This is the time of year when chilly stuff is fun and optional, and the only big stress is when to turn the sprinklers off for the season and if you bought enough fun-size candy to not give out. No family ordeals, no pressure for big meals or parties or events.

Just black clothes, candy, and Christopher Lee reading “The Raven”. My kind of holiday.

*Featured photo taken by our rockstar photographers at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty. Then entire tour for that year’s parade can be seen here.

Timber Madness at 1403 Eagle Way

If you’ve ever watched Barnwood Builders you get the drift; somebody acquires an ancient barn or log home, they deconstruct it, then re-construct it either into the same shape structure or a modified structure. But the point is to save a building that has been let go far too long. It’s actually a beautiful way to repurpose what might be a condemned structure. And that is the story of 1403 Eagle Way, listed by a colleague of mine at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty. You can view the virtual tour here, and as you’ll see in the drone shots at the beginning, the views are fantastic, and here is the full listing report.

The story continues: apparently the dramatic timbers repurposed here are from an Essex grain barn, built in the 17th Century.

And they are MAGNIFICENT.

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Now, you know how important good ceilings are to me. And this? Good ceiling. Very good ceiling.

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The timber and brick usage above the stove! Oh, my heart.

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This is the upstairs loft area, and it is a perfectly lovely place to write or knit or plan your next Game of Thrones-style betrayal.

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And everywhere in the home they have preserved the gorgeous joinery. In their time, these joints were built for function, and made to last for 400 years or more. What we might dismiss as only an aesthetic choice today was simply a beautiful and elegant solution to a problem back then.

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This is a special house.

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One that needs to be preserved, loved. Respected. This home needs a special owner. One that will appreciate the big details, like the massive timbers.

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And the little details, like the cast iron door pulls.

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And lovely latches.

Portions of the house aren’t timber-accented, including the downstairs level. However there is an interesting wood feature here: the floor of the bar. Look closely.

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Look MORE closely.

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It’s an end grain wood block floor! I can’t think of another house in Park City with this type of flooring. Also known here in the US as Nicolson pavement, its origins are unknown, but surely trace back hundreds and hundreds of years. Wood was easier to work with and easier to obtain than rock for a very long time, so it was quite popular as street pavement until less slippery, less creosote-soaked, more durable stone-based paving became more available. It was also used on interiors, even into the 1970s Chrysler used it on some of their factory floors because it was easy on the feet and the equipment, easy to repair, and because it was indoors, didn’t rot or need to be sealed as often. Plus it’s beautiful.

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This house is not gimmicky. But it is a home with impact. The location is good, the views are excellent, and the interior is lovely, memorable, and worth preserving.

Dottie’s Kolaches

I can’t remember the first time I heard about kolaches, but I do remember first making them myself maybe 5 or 6 years ago off an archived newspaper recipe. A kolache is a beautiful little baked pastry with choose-your-own filling. They’re labor-intensive and taste best hot out of the oven, which puts them in the same category as donuts and cinnamon buns: learn to make them, appreciate them, and then pay a professional baker to make them for you.

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When I was first making kolaches no one in town sold them. No one. And it blew my mind; who wouldn’t want a sweet dough full of cream cheese filling? Or a savory dough stuffed with cheddar and bacon and egg?

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The old-timey fillings are always the best. Cottage cheese. Poppyseed. But literally any filling is delicious and this whole concept emerged first out of necessity. If you had cherry jam in the fridge you used that. If the apricots had been plentiful then you used those.

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Lemon is always a popular filling, and it didn’t matter whether you used lemon curd or lemon pudding or lemon pie filling. Just a little homemade drizzle of powdered sugar, lemon juice and water icing on top.

And I’m pleased to say, kolache joints are FINALLY starting to crop up.

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No, it’s not the same as what your Czech grandmother could whip up (but let’s be honest, nothing will ever be that good again). But they are lovely and plentiful and in some cases, offer drive-through convenience. It’s been far too long since I ate at Dottie’s, but if you live anywhere near Heber you ought to drive over and take a look at what they have to offer.

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Be sure and order a cream cheese kolache for me.

Vaguely Borgish: my LG Bluetooth Headset

I am a real estate agent which means I take 7,000 phone calls a day. Scrolling through my Recents is enough to give my thumb a cramp. I also drive, walk, type and text every minute I’m awake, I can’t spend my life with one hand holding my phone on my ear. My elbow would rot and fall off. I also CANNOT suffer having a earpiece sitting in my ear. It’s been a personal problem since they came out and I know people love them and if you have one and love it then terrific. Every time I’ve worn one the urge to punch myself in the face is overwhelming.

A colleague introduced me to the ways of the neck headset (neckset?) and forever I am chang-ed. (Christine’s is different, the earpieces pull out of the ends, it’s more rigid, and it’s a very pretty color.) It’s like casual Borg meets the Secret Service. I tuck the whole thing into my collar and the wires stick up a little but who cares? It’s comfortable and bluetooth and NOT ON MY FREAKING EAR. The LG TonePro Bluetooth headset.

The earpieces magnet into the ends of the headset. The speakers are somewhere in those pointy bits too. It’s been months and I still haven’t bothered to figure the buttons out. Forward is on, backwards is off I think, there’s a volume and a next/previous. Word of warning: if you push the answer/hang up button in some sequence you will either answer/hang up, summon Siri, or call the last person you talked to. Which is only a minor inconvenience in most cases, “Whoops, hi sorry, didn’t mean to call you back.”

However. If you ended your call in a less than savory manner, and then yanked the earpiece from your ear and started complaining about how that person smelled, rest assured, they can hear you with crystal clarity and you aren’t yet aware of the war you’ve just started.

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I also use it when I’m working in the yard or going to the gym. The yard is because weedwackers are loud and angry. The gym is because the gym is one of the places I wouldn’t be sad to see fall into a giant sinkhole, so I use it there to listen to ebooks. And I only listen to fun, descriptive books that I know I will love. If I had to listen to a businessy book club book I may as well eat a bowl of glass shards. So the last one I downloaded was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, narrated by Stephen Fry (who narrated the movie).

I’m seeing them more and more often now, particularly on service technicians and construction workers, which makes perfect sense. Keep your phone on your person someplace safe while you’re working, but you can still answer calls or use Siri by just touching the headset which is safely around your neck. Plus they hold a charge for quite a while; I just plug mine in at night with all my other devices and it’s ready to go in the morning.

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On the Free Will Improbability Factor

As a human I’m qualified to point out something ridiculous we do: get terribly worked up waiting for something to happen. Sure, using tools was a great achievement, and mourning the dead was another big day, but at some point we went straight off the rails and let ourselves invent fantasies about what might, what is, and what has happened. I just don’t see a cheetah pacing around muttering about how that stupid wildebeest must have gotten lost and probably isn’t even fat enough to eat anyways.

As a real estate agent, I’m on the receiving end of a thousand conspiracy theories. It’s a fascinating insight into a client’s mind. And the theories—creative as they are—are always always always wrong.

Always.

Always wrong.

I’ve been told by buyers that the seller is getting divorced (they aren’t). I’ve been told by sellers that the buyers lost their jobs (they haven’t). I’ve been told by buyers and sellers that the other side is going bankrupt (they’re not). I’ve been told by buyers that sellers have rigged a dishwasher to appear to work until five minutes after we close (just…no). These are total strangers working up complex scenarios with personality and plot and I’ll be darned if I haven’t just about had my fill of fiction.

We have this ridiculous thing called free will. Free will. We choose to live our lives the way we do and other people choose to live theirs and our paradigms are as unique and specific as a gd snowflake. Except snowflakes are usually a little more, well, balanced. Oh I know, we watch Sherlock Holmes and think we can anticipate fifteen steps ahead of our adversary but our adversaries completely imaginary. I promise, that obnoxious checkout clerk who always smashes your eggs? They have no idea what you look like and just smash everybody’s eggs.

Our lives are just not that interesting. And neither are the lives of anybody else we’re interacting with. So let it go. The other side of any situation will do or say whatever they please, guided only by their own life experience and hopefully a shred of moral fiber. And they’re going to do all that whether we figure it out ahead of time or not. And considering the infinite and chaotic number of possibilities, you’re astoundingly lucky to dream up a theory in the same time zone as the actual situation, much less the same ballpark.

So let it go. Seriously.

Think of all the free time you’ll have now that you’re not imagining scenarios! You could knit sweaters for every nephew, dog, and penguin in the US. You could brew a thousand batches of beer then drink it all and brew a thousand more. You could map out the universe or walk every square mile of your hemisphere.

Or better yet, use that imagination and write the Great American Novel. I can’t wait to read it.