Monday, December 28, 2009

Need a Washday Miracle

Mrs Elliott and I hosted a holiday party at our house last night for the volunteers who contribute their time at KPOV-LP (106.7). (With the exception of two full-time employees, everyone else at the station is a volunteer: the radio hosts ["disc jockeys"], engineering staff, office staff, web master, fund raisers, and all the other folk needed to keep a radio station legal and operating 24 hours a day providing Central Oregon with its most eclectic and interesting music and commentary are volunteers.)

The party was a lot of fun; about 40 people showed up. And après-party cleanup isn't proving to be too bad with the exception of the baking pans for the lasagna. Devores market on Newport Ave. stocks these delicious hand-made lasagnas (just heat and serve) which come in heavy 9'' x 12'' Pyrex glass baking pans. We bought four of them for the party.

There is a$12 deposit required per pan, so we've got $48 worth of deposit coming back when we return them.

Being unclear on the subject of bakeware etiquette, I'm presuming that it would not be appropriate to return them all crusted with lasagna leavings. So I'm trying to make them squeaky-clean.

Which is turning out to be a more difficult job than I expected.

The facts are these:

I figured the oven would have a difficult time heating four big cold lasagnas (two on upper rack, two on lower rack) evenly, so after sliding them into the hot oven and closing the door, I turned on the oven's convection blower, figuring this would keep the air inside moving and equalize the temperatures.

This was, of course, merely theory: I've never owned a convection oven. To me, ovens have two settings: "bake" (bottom heat), and "broil" (top heat).

But if you can't experiment on guests, who can you experiment on?

The instructions called for baking for an hour and a half at 350 degrees for one thawed lasagna, but since these were barely above freezing (we kept them overnight in our walk-in cooler, aka the "garage") I reckoned it might be more like 2 hours before all four would be ready.

I could see that I was running into trouble when I opened the door at the halfway point to check the internal temperatures of the upper and lower lasagnas to see how evenly they were heating. The inside of the lasagnas were only about 100 degrees, too cool, but the tops were heading toward deep brown leathery finish indicative of burnt territory.

I turned down the heat to 300 and turned off the convection fan so the food could continue to heat without further browning the tops, and I was able to rescue the meal that way. However, unbeknown to me, the cheese had welded itself to the glass with an incredibly tough lacto-silica bond, clearly more tenacious than the stuff that NASA uses to bond the heat-shield tiles to the space shuttle.

After everyone left, I scraped what could from the pans, and left them to soak overnight in hot detergenty* water.

I was greeted this morning by a sinkful of what looked like cold minestrone soup. And a lot of scrubbing to do.

I've managed to get the pans pretty clean, but there are some spots where no amount of scrubbing with Scotch-Brite will clean.

This is going to require chemistry and power tools.

I worry that if I return the pans in less-than-clean condition I will be blacklisted at Devores forever, necessitating the need to don a false mustache and use an assumed name if I ever want to lease some more bakeware.

I should also probably read the manual for the oven to find out what the convection function is meant to be good for.
* We say "soapy," so why can't we say "detergenty"? Soap and detergent are two different things. The first does not necessarily lift grease and oil, the last does.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

LAX 2 RDM After Xmas

Mrs Elliott and I got back from SoCal last night. The flight from LAX to RDM was not promised to be able to land due to the fog. They said that it might have to pull up and head to Eugene, and if Eugene was also socked in, then to Portland. We were offered a direct flight to Portland as an alternative.

Neither option looked very promising in terms of getting home easily, quickly, and inexpensively. We decided to take our chances and stuck to the flight as booked, and by the time the plane got to Redmond, the the fog had obligingly lifted off the ground sufficiently high that the pilot could see the landing markers and land the crate.

At LAX a child was made unhappy by her mother's decision to return to their Los Angeles home rather than try to fly to Grandma's house in Bend for Christmas. Another couple were distressed that their holiday plans had been cut short due to burst water pipes in their Bend home, and that they would be delayed getting back. A few chose the sure bet of Portland.

Anyway, when we got back, we found that Santa had brought Mrs Elliott a pair of cross-country skis and ski poles. He also managed to find some elves (at the Wagner Mall) to patch up her old favorite pair of Uggs.

I got some nice Orvis wool sweaters ("for your Friday nights out," suggests Mrs. Claus) and a swell bedside clock that projects the time and inside and outside temperatures onto the ceiling. It also sets itself, having a tiny radio receiver inside that picks up time signals that originate from a highly-accurate cesium clock located in a secure government facility at an undisclosed location. If I ever find that thing blinking 12:00 then I reckon I have more important things to worry about than what time it is.

Looking at the hoar frost on the trees outside the window right now, I'm thankful I live in such a beautiful place (click on the picture to see a larger view - taken from Galveston bridge over Deschutes river, it's a color picture).

L.A. was crowded, noisy, dirty, and not attractive. The receptionist at the hotel apologized for the cold weather. It was about 68 degrees. There's a reason they make Santa-themed tropical shirts.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cyclocross Nationals, "We'll be coming back next year"

(A few days after last weekend's blowout cycling competition, a friend wrote to me to say that a friend of his who had been in the event wrote to him about the race. I asked for and received permission to quote the letter. Photo Janet Hill.)

Cross Nats from Bend, from John Elgart

Quick Result: 3rd in the 60-64 Men

Of course it snowed. We were expecting it. It always snows at Nationals, accompanied by ice and frozen ruts. Sometime during the event, a blizzard comes along and blows away the tents. Cross is a winter sport and snow is normal for a winter sport. If you went skiing and it snowed would you be suprised?

So deal with it. Or that's my official attitude.

In my race, the temperature was 20 degrees. It had been 14 degrees below zero two nights before. The snow had a nice granular wet sand-like texture. Definitely rideable, if sketchy in the icy corners. I found one of these corners warming up and crashed HARD in the only dirt on the course. Not too good an omen.

The 60-64 field featured 5 or 6 former champions, including Dan Norton from Seattle, who has won at least a dozen times. Dave Rath from Vermont and Phil Bannister from Maine have also won several times. At various times these 3 have beaten me, and Dan had to be considered the favorite. He is a terrific turn rider and this course is nothing but turns. Phil beat me by a minute in the ice of Kansas City last year. Dave Rath beat me 5 years ago in Portland -- this is the one year we overlap. Were I seeding us, I'd put myself in 4th.

Somehow at the start I couldn't find my pedal and slotted in 4th for the hole shot corner. Norton was first and within a minute had opened a gap. Bannister took off after him and I was leading a group of 5 a few seconds back. It was obvious that Norton was riding the turns faster than anyone, and we weren't gaining much in the straight stretches.

My one advantage was that I could ride the steep icy hillside where most were running. After two laps (about 15 minutes into this 40 minute race) I bridged across to Phil Bannister and we took alternating leads. It seemed easy riding behind Phil, but I couldn't shake him. Our skills seemed to balance out: he was a bit faster on turns and I was a bit faster on the straights.

My greatest problem was the cold. While my body was quite warm, my hands were getting stiff, and I was having trouble shifting and breaking. With 2 to go, I hit a stake in a turn because I couldn't apply my brakes from the hoods and Phil got a 10 second lead. Half a lap later I caught him and then took the lead, but on the final lap I missed my pick up on the stairs and Phil passed me. Then coming off the hill, it took me 100 meters to shift into a big gear for the sprint. So in the end I was 2 seconds out of 2nd place.

Phil and I had probably exchanged the lead 10 times. It was a great race.

2 good photos:

I'm in the Janet Hill Gallery.

A few passing observations on Cross Nationals:

* Technical stuff: tubulars with 25 pounds or less were the tires of choice. And, yes, there were a lot of flats. Most common tubular: Tufo Cubus. Clincher: Racing Ralphs. We rode the Challenge Fango 34 -- it had great traction (until Linda flatted the front!)

* Clothing: If you look in the Gallery above, you'll notice that I'm wearing what looks like Hammer shorts with my Webcor jersey. No I'm not riding for Hammer -- this is Voler's new thermal skinsuit and I only have it in this pattern. It works great!! (You can order one for next season in your order--or we have them on Velowear now). Gloves were another matter. I went to REI and got their best with fingers, used warmers and still froze. (I had frostbite as a kid, so maybe that's it). Interestingly some of the Elites rode gloveless at 32 degrees! For me, next year it's bar ends and mittens.

* As I've mentioned before Cross Nationals is where all the categories participate -- juniors, elites, masters, collegiates. I love the mix. Monday morning after the racing Linda and I were sitting around breakfast in the Ameritel with Jonathan Page (3rd in the Elites in a tough race), a junior from SoCal and his dad, a masters rider. You wouldn't find that at any other Nats.

* Cross brings out the spectators. There were probably 10,000 for the Elite men's race, crowding the course. And of course there were the costumes, the drummers, the dollar bills in beer cans, the guys trying to get the racers to take a drink of their PBR, etc. It's almost as annoying as the crowd at the TdFrance. .

* Bend went all out to welcome the event. People stopped us on the street. Everyone is a cross fan, which is kind of weird. Well, Bend is that kind of place. We'll be coming back next year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Find Something Nice to Say About The Weather

I was challenged today to find something nice to say about the weather. Easy as cake:

It's not all about you. The shrubberies and trees and other leetle pitiable creechurs need the rain.

Silver Moon getting its Porter on

I sometimes despair of ever finding a good dry stout. Every stout I've tried from the local breweries have been sweet, caramel, molasses-y messes. In contrast to these so-called "English stouts," my taste is more toward what some call an "Irish stout": a full-bodied beer with a dry finish.*

I read in last week's The Source Weekly (I think it was), that Silver Moon had a new stout on tap. Today being the sort of gray, wet, useless day that invites nothing more ambitious than sittin', I decided to swing by Silver Moon after completing some gift-y errands that I told Mrs Elliot were none of her beeswax to try their new stout.

I got there a few minutes before opening time (noon). They must have taken pity at seeing me standing outside the door, in the drizzle, so they let me in. I found a seat at the empty bar, and within a couple minutes a few more locals found their way in, too.

I ordered a pint of the new stout and I gotta say it was better than I hoped for. Still not as dry as I like, but gracious! compared with the dozens of obnoxiously sweet stouts better suited for children -- if children drank beer -- than for adults that I've tried and discarded over this past year, I found Silver Moon's stout quite likable.

As a point of comparison, I asked for a taste of their porter. I last tasted their porter in autumn of 2008, and wanted to see how it differed from the stout (porters and stouts are pretty much the same thing: cf., "What is the difference between porter and stout?" but brewmasters and -mistresses have their own conventions so I'm mentioning this, is all).

I found the porter to be better than I remembered it from last year, and better than their new stout. It has interesting citrusy or maybe cinnamony notes, and a cleaner finish.

"I had this last year. I don't remember it being this good. What did you do?"

"We made it better."

A man of few words, I reckon.

I left with a growler of the porter.

* Some disagree with the terms "English" and "Irish" as labels for sweet and dry stouts, respectively; I commend to the earnest student "The Hunting of the Stout" at .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Boy, That Was Really Bad

After dinner last night, Mrs Elliott and I dressed in our finest Christmas attire (handsome red sweater and nice slacks for me, black skirt and top with cute red jacket for her) and ventured out to the Tower Theatre to see Rita Coolidge put on a Christmas show.

The show was sold out. Outside the theater we came across someone we knew who was selling her tickets because she was unable to attend the performance.

She was the lucky one. The show was just terrible. Wow, it was bad.

The four-piece band was no better than a hotel lounge group. I'm not kidding, there wasn't a single interesting player in the band doing anything of interest, ever. And Coolidge, dragging behind the beat, sucked the life out of every song.

After three songs we were glancing at each other, rolling our eyes. After four songs we quietly discussed leaving. After five, we left.

We had hoped to be able to hear the Youth Choir of Central Oregon, who were on the bill with her, but the thought of listening to Coolidge and her band slog through another clum-footed arrangement of something dreary like "Jingle Bell Rock" made staying impossible.

We were home before 8:30.

Worst music I've ever heard in Bend. In fact, it was the worst music I've paid money to hear.

It's Just Like Summer, Isn't It?

Yesterday was shaping up to being considerably nicer than the weather boys and girls had originally predicted back on Friday, the day I last checked a forecast. Sunny, upper 30's, light to no wind--a pleasant day.

I was thinking I'd like to go watch some of the madness at the cyclocross Nationals by the amphitheater, and Mrs Elliott offered to drop me off and pick me up later (she had shopping to do), but I realized that I was in a contemplative mood, and what I really wanted to do was sit in the sun and read.* So she dropped me off at Drake Park instead, where I foraged for sunny seating, disturbing no end of ducks who gave every impression of having taken great offense by my presence.

Despite my newly-fused ankle, I found the stroll through the park to be pretty easy. The MBT rocker-bottom shoes are a great help, and the arthritis in my foot's subtalar joint didn't trouble, thanks to meloxicam, an anti-inflammatory medicine that a friend with a sore rotator cuff turned me on to. (I asked my doctor if meloxicam was right for me. She shrugged, stubbed out her cigarette. "Sure, why not?")

The park was beautiful and peaceful. I believe that Mirror Pond thawed later in the day, but it was mostly frozen while I was in the park, and looked stunning behind the trees.

Alas, I found no place to sit in the sun: the benches and seats were either in the shade or didn't face the sun. So I made my way to Dudley's Bookshop & Cafe instead, and with a mug of green tea and a brownie at hand, read for an hour or so, until Mrs Elliott came to claim me.

As we walked back to the car, I asked her how the shopping had been and she complained of optimistically high prices and of having forgotten a discount card back at the house.

There were a lot of people out downtown in the relatively warm temperatures and bright sunlight. We met, by accident, an acquaintance of Mrs Elliott's who exclaimed, "Everybody's out! It's just like summer, isn't it?"

It was, in fact, a really nice day; and I'm confident that that perfect sunny, peaceful place to sit and read is out there, waiting to be discovered.

* Update: it appears that my presence wasn't needed at the races. According to this story, Sunday's crowd of 5,000 or so was the largest to watch a U.S. Cyclocross National Championship.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shovelin' Snow

Wow. I don't think anyone saw this much snow coming. KOHD's Adam Clark predicted "some flurries." The NWS said "Numerous snow showers in the evening... then scattered snow showers overnight. Breezy...colder. Local drifting snow in the evening. Snow accumulation of up to 2 inches. Storm total snow accumulation 2 to 5 inches..."

Snowed all day. Started to taper off about an hour ago, so I shoveled off the walkway and sidewalk. Nearly a foot of the stuff, too. Light as feathers, though. And pretty as a picture, even under the light of the streetlight out front. Other than the scraping of the shovel and my breathing, all I heard was the wind soughing in the trees.

Mrs Elliott ran with the Jingle Bell Run/Walk yesterday right before the Christmas parade. Today, I puttered, she spent the day in the living room, wrappin' presents.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

For the Most Specious of Reasons

How does one pick a sports team to root for? I'm supporting the Ducks right now. Why? because when I decided to decide between being a Oregon State rooter or an Oregon rooter last month, I had a choice between watching the Ducks or the Beavers on TV. Both games were on at pretty much the same time, But Oregon was broadcast in high-definition, while the Oregon State game was in standard def.

I like a better picture so I watched the Oregon game, and enjoyed how they played. I've learned a little more about the players, so I have a little more invested in Oregon.

It's for that reason that I'm following the Ducks.

Isn't that a stupid reason? Maybe yes, maybe no.

How do most of us pick the team we root for? Often it's simply an accident of birth: the town or state we were born in. Because we happened to live closer to Buena High than Ventura High, I went to Buena, and as a result, was encouraged to cheer for our team and boo theirs.

Russian people are patriotic about Russia, and French people are patriotic about France.

There's a scene in Woody Allen's Love and Death where the Russian military leader is giving his troops a pep talk before they go into battle with the French. He is explaining about how important it is for them to win. He says that, "If they kill more of us, they win. If we kill more of them, we win!"

Allen, playing a conscripted soldier, raises his hand and asks, "W-what do we win?"

The Russian sergeant can't believe his ears.

"Imagine your loved ones conquered by Napoleon and forced to live under French rule. Do you want them to eat that rich food and those heavy sauces? Do you want them to have soufflé every meal and croissant?"

Here in America you better love it or leave it.

My point is that just as folk identify with the country they grew up in, I suspect that we support a particular team simply out of geographic, academic, familial or economic happenstance, a choice made not out of mentality, but sentimentality. Is that any sillier than picking a team based on which one happened to be playing on the network with the better picture?

Beats me. I'm not going to worry about it because I feel that picking a team doesn't have to be the result of careful planning. Just pick one. Cheer for them and boo the other guys. That's what I'll be doing this evening at a cheerfully-noisy establishment downtown. With plenty of screens.

All in high-def.

Learning One's Lesson

I made a big mistake last week. Mrs Elliott and I drove all the way down to the Sacramento area for Thanksgiving with the kids. I assumed I'd find good wines there to bring to the table. But the only place to buy wine in that wasteland of factory outlets and stucco neighborhoods was a Safeway. The main wine in their "Imported Wines" section was -- wait for it -- Yellowtail. The domestics wines section was simply depressing.

I should have brought a couple bottles of decent wine with me.

I have learned my lesson: I'm not going to count on finding good wine in Marina Del Ray on Christmas eve. I'll pack a couple bottles of good stuff in my suitcase before boarding that plane.

The tricky part is making sure that good stuff doesn't to to waste.

No one in the family knows good wine from bad, so those that drink wine pour from any bottle at hand, simply checking the color. This means that the good wine I bring often ends up in the glass of someone who has no appreciation for it. This is not just a waste of good wine: it means that I end up having to drink crummy wine blindly purchased by a non wine-drinker.

With a more discriminating group of people I could camouflage the good wine by pouring it into an empty bottle of a crummy wine, like Yellowtail, for example. But there are some there that buy Yellowtail. Even a Maneschevits bottle would not dissuade them.

There's nothing for it. I'll have to hide the good wine in a bedroom closet.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tasty Still Lifes

I've long been a fan of still lifes.

Isn't this pretty? That's "Tea Glow," a small oil painting by local artist, Katherine Taylor, who has recently been picked up by Lahaina Gallery in the Old Mill.

Lahaina has never been much of a destination for me when I'm looking for* fine art. They have some fine art there, but there's a preponderance of kitch: tourist art, hotel lobby art -- big, colorful cutesy stuff brilliantly executed. Lahaina is a cut above a Thomas Kinkade gallery, and miles above this creepy art gallery I once saw in Hawaii featuring paintings of clowns by Red Skelton, but they appeal to the same market base of punters who don't know art but know what they like, and aren't ashamed to spend big bucks on a picture better suited to greeting cards or a magazine cover and hang it on their walls.

But it's not all bad. Once you get past the pictures of bears dancing with butterflies, Lahaina also features some sweet pieces. I like Taylor's small, classic still lives and figurative studies.

"Tea Glow" is small, only 9 inches by 12 inches, but I'd rather have a small, excellent painting than a big corny one.

* I look for fine art. Alas, I cannot afford fine art.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Back in the Saddle again

... bicycle saddle, that is.

Cycling has always been my favorite form of recreation, and places second only to riding the train as form of transportation of choice. I dearly missed cycling when my ankle was healing. Missed it all spring and summer and much of fall. Missed it when Mrs Elliott went for morning rides with her friend.

Last week I got on the bike for a tentative first ride, and learned three things: 1. My cardiovascular system is completely out of shape, 2. my ankle is still very tender so mounting and dismounting has to be done with great care, and 3. riding a bike is still just about the most civilized way to get around.

Earlier this year while I was recovering, I noted with interest the opening of a new business, Abbey Pub, less than a mile from our house, and from what I read, it sounded promising because they offer a selection of beer and ale on tap from breweries not necessarily located in Central Oregon. I'm not opposed to the local brews, I like the local brews, I drink the local brews. We are blessed with seven or so breweries busily making and selling fine product, but the Pacific Northwest is peppered with breweries and I've felt it was a pity that we didn't have a place here in Bend where we could sample from a broader selection.

So last night I had an evening free (Mrs Elliott was at a glass-slumping class at Glass Symphony), and I hopped* onto my bike and rode over to Abbey Pub to check the place out.

I'm glad I did. Though it's a family-friendly place which serves sandwiches, salads, and snacks, it's not a restaurant, it's a tap room. It has a nice-sized TV, and the remote is graciously placed on the bar so customers can watch news or a game, but it's not a sports bar. It's a tap room.

Proprietor Geoff Marlowe is a self-described beer geek: has made his own beer, belongs to the local homebrewer's club, and appreciates a good beer when he tastes one. He may change the list of beers he pours twice a day, and is always bringing in new ones to pour. His laptop is always within reach so he can research and field inquiries about beers from all over.

The Abbey Pub is located near the roundabout at the top of Newport Ave on the west side. Geoff doesn't yet have a web site, but is working on it, and plans to update it continually as new beers are put on tap. No nitro tap yet, but he's working on that, too.

It's tough starting a business. Most people have no idea. Geoff related a story to me about a local woman who said that she wanted to open a store, but didn't want it to take over her life. She figured that some little shop where she could work part-time would be fine, and she'd be happy if it threw off $100k per year profit.

WTF? Totally clueless about how much work it takes to operate a shop, and how skinny the profit margin is. It has to be something you believe in, and you have to be real careful about how you spend your money.

I personally think that the Abbey Pub makes a nice addition to Bend's pub scene. It's off the beaten path, but I encourage my reader to give it some patronage.

After sampling a couple excellent browns, a so-so lager, and a well-balanced IPA, I cycled home with two bottles of Belgian sours in my basket, thankful for the warm muffler that Mrs Elliott knitted for me last winter, and thankful that I can ride my bike again.

* "Nice hopping." -- Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein, 1974.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Downtown Parking Committee Meets, and Wager Dispute Impacts Local Bookies

The parking policy downtown has to satisfy a lot of conflicting needs. Shoppers have to do their shopping under the two-hour limit before getting ticketed. To avoid the ticket they must move their vehicle 500 feet as the crow flies. Shoppers are not provided with a handy crow. Business owners and employees need cheap all-day parking conveniently close to their shops, but at the same time, retailers want lots of spaces out front for customers. Businesses located behind the shops or in upstairs offices -- the firms who are part of what I call "deeper Bend" -- may seldom require customer parking, but their needs for employee parking must still be met.

It's surely a Gordian Knot that may never be untied to everyone's satisfaction.

Terri Cumbi, owner of Dudley's BookShop Café, threw open the door of her shop on Minnesota Avenue at 9 am last Tuesday to host a meeting of the downtown parking committee. Chuck Arnold, the executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association chaired the meeting of about ten shop and property owners. City mayor pro tem Mark Capell attended, as did KOHD's Lauren Biskind. I introduced myself as a local blogger. Meaning I have time on my hands.

The main issue revolved around the two-hour limit on free parking, its impact on the downtown shopping experience, and how it conflicts with the needs of downtowners who need to park their cars someplace.

Two of the members, both women, said that women shoppers find the the two-hour limit frustrating. Some of the men scratched their heads over this, surely feeling that two hour should be plenty to buy anything. But given that women do most of the shopping, their needs should be addressed.

Footzone's Teague Hatfield also pointed out that trying to have a leisurely lunch with friends from out of town while keeping your car ahead of Diamond Parking's troops is not easy.

From the employee/business owner's viewpoint, several members stated that the modest $45 per month fee for a permit which grants all-day parking on the top of the downtown parking structure is uncomfortably high.

I know of one downtown firm which is laying out nearly $1,000 a month for employee parking permits. Part-time employees who work just a few hours downtown often don't find the permit affordable.

Free parking in the structure is highly unlikely, Capell said. The city spent quite a bundle building that facility and has to pay for it.

So some downtowners simply find it more cost-effective to just keep an eye out for Diamond Parking and move their cars before they get ticketed. "Taking my chances on the occasional $65 ticket makes more sense than spending $45 a month," one downtown business owner told me.

Cumbi recently discovered how prevalent this practice is when she accompanied a member of Diamond enforcement staff for some downtown walkarounds and witnessed folk dash out of their shops to move their cars before Diamond got to them. She showed maps of the downtown with the locations of employee cars marked in red. Looked like the maps had the measles.

Some downtowners are using texting to warn friends in nearby stores about Diamond's progress. These are retailers who don't want all the parking spaces in front of their shop taken up with employee's cars but are not bothered by packing up the spaces in front of somebody else's shop, it seems.

For the meeting, the city provided a list naming names of repeat offenders who have been ticketed for violating the two-hour limit. There are around 70 people who have received ten or more citations in the past year, and the roster of those who have received five to nine tickets was said to fill four pages.

The crux of the matter is this: The two-hour limit exists because of those relatively few people who don't find the parking structure to be convenient or cost-effective, or who enjoy gaming the system. One member, the owner of a downtown restaurant, stated emphatically that he'll park wherever he wants to.

Steeply escalating the fines for repeat offenders was proposed, making it economically senseless to risk getting more tickets. Then, perhaps, the time limit could be extended by another hour, or even more.

(This reporter knows a good idea when he hears one. Boot the cars of the repeat offenders. Dynamite them off the streets, I say!)

The downtowners are taking this idea to the city council. However, this doesn't appear to be a new idea. According to the minutes of the September 23, 2008 meeting of the Bend Urban Renewal Agency:
Another issue discussed was the chronic employee abuse of the system. Mr. Russell added that parking revenues are up. Member Dempster suggested tripling or quadrupling the fines. Mr. Datwyler explained that Councilor Capell is very interested in this issue and met with the Downtowners’ Board and a tentative escalating fine structure was set up. Mr. Datwyler announced a Council work session on October 15 to discuss this issue.

[...] Member Kesgard was supportive of new fine structure and asked if the other Councilors were in agreement and Mr. Datwyler replied they agreed, but are not as adamant. Further discussion followed on the escalating citations, booting and signage.

But the minutes for the August 20, 2008 meeting state that,
Member Abernethy understood Member Capell’s concept about significantly increasing the citation amounts, but did not agree because it is not in alignment with the infraction occurring. He would increase the fine some, but $500 would be too much and limiting to three hours would be an administrative nightmare.
Looks like some smoke-filled back room negotiations and arm-twisting are needed.

The parking lot at Mirror Pond has machines that afford a method to purchase another hour beyond the first two, but there's something goofy with the way the machines are set up which some have taken advantage of to obtain a five hour pass. Ice's Marty Brazil recommended that the city take a look at re-program the things to disappear the loophole.

Wine shop owner Melanie Betti made the suggestion that another way to ease up on the congested parking is to put up signage directing out-of-towners to the parking structure. According to many, folks unfamiliar with downtown are surprised to learn of the existence of the facility. The committee agreed to take this idea to the city as well.

The downtown recently started a program where customers who got cited for overstaying the time limit could get the ticket canceled if they made a $10 purchase in any of the downtown shops and mailed a copy of the receipt along with the ticket to the city. It's a program that has been well-received. I think the number mentioned was that there have been over six hundred customers who have been granted a Get Out Of Jail card. Some shop owners are even handling the paperwork for their customers.

But, according to a few people I've talked to, Diamond can't be counted on to always put the explanatory slips into the ticket envelopes. However, this might be because the folk I talked to were referring to their own citations, and as Cumbi learned, Diamond knows the cars of downtown employees by sight.

With an eye toward finding more affordable places for employees to park, it was asked whether some of the streets on the periphery of the downtown, but still within the enforcement area, could be set up with a permit system that allows for unlimited free parking. Another idea for the city.

And what happened to the 15-minute loading spaces that used to exist on every block, someone wanted to know. How did those get changed to police parking only spaces?

This was not a dispassionate meeting. The level of frustration felt by some of the members led, at times, to raised voices. One member practically pulled a Joe Wilson ("You lie!") when Capell said that downtown parking ticket revenue was a trivial amount of income to the city and they would not notice it if it went away.

It was asked why the press was even there -- such things should not be shown on TV, it was argued, and that while the meetings should be transparent to members of the Association, showing the inner workings of a sometimes emotional meeting wasn't necessarily a good thing for the image of the downtowners. (KOHD did cover the story that evening, but avoided footage of the more interesting bits.)

Brazil, who had been largely quiet for most of the meeting, wrapped things up by acknowledging the viewpoints of the members and summarizing the action items to be taken to the city. Brazil seems to know her onions. Like Capell, she has been doing business in downtown Bend for, like, ever and is very familiar with what has been tried in the past and what works and what doesn't.

At the conclusion of the meeting, it was agreed that Arnold would step aside as chair so that Betti and Cumbi could take over as committee co-chairs, allowing for more frequent meetings than Arnold's busy calender can permit.

As we walked out, Hatfield observed that some people didn't seem to be very happy that I was there.

I later learned that the member who objected to the presence of the press was only referring to the KOHD camera, and not me. She knew that I, as a blogger with a readership that can be counted on one hand, cannot in any way be considered a member of the esteemed Fourth Estate.

Though after this in-depth story is published it remains to be seen whether I'll be invited again. Stay tuned on that.

Everyone, it seems, has a reasonable gripe, but with the exception of last night's Gallery Art Walk when we could only find parking in the the parking structure,* I've never had trouble finding spots on the streets.

I am sympathetic to the shops that feel their business might be better if the downtown's parking felt less unfriendly. Even though it's impossible to prove that business would be better if customers found more spots to park in and had more shopping time, hearing customers complain about the time limit as they leave, purchases unpurchased, buying impulses thwarted, can be discouraging.

And to some businesses, having to fork over $45/month per permit can make the difference between being in the black or going into the red.

After all, coming up even a dollar short when it's time to pay the electric bill or a supplier is a serious bummer.

* The parking garage is not my favorite place to park, being another of those grim, utilitarian echo-y spaces which are a testament to all the former Soviet-era Russian architects who have found nice jobs in the U.S. designing these Stalinesque buildings. But it is in a good location and a coat of bright paint on the gray interior concrete walls and ducting would go a fair way toward lightening the overall mood. It couldn't hurt.

IN OTHER NEWS, the bet between Bend blogger Blackdog and me has been called off. A contentious detail had surfaced about how frequently Blackdog had to post his Daily Suck Index in order to claim the purse. We met on Wednesday night at Pine Tavern to try to reach an agreement on this delicate matter. But negotiations collapsed following a dispute about the shape of the table. Bend's bookmakers are returning customer wagers even as I write this.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pissing Contest

I recently had an interesting conversation with local journalist H. Bruce Miller in which he mentioned that no matter how long someone has lived in Bend, someone is bound to mention that they've been here longer. Or their parents. Or their parent's parents.

It's like guys swapping war stories, or seeing who can pee the farthest.

My point of pride is the various broken bones I've endured, my titanium knee, the random assortment of screws and pins I use to set off TSA's scanners at the airport. I have enough injury-fu to smack down most anyone else ambulatory enough to get out of the house.

At airports I always get sent to Secondary Screening for a wand probing and a patdown.

"May I touch your buttocks?" said the polite white-gloved security official at Tokyo's Narita airport where Japanese security was, until 9/11, much tighter than ours. I assented, he patted my rear pockets. A good time was had by all. Or I had a good time. He never called me, though.

Miller's comment put me in mind of my one geographic boast: though my parents were Okies -- a despised group at the time -- I was born in Santa Barbara. Which gives me bragging rights in that town of newbies and interlopers.

Damn them and their fancy cars and money. They priced the homes in the market completely out of my reach.

Art Mashup

If Bend's First Friday Art Walk ends before your bedtime, you might consider checking out Poethouse Art's hybrid art event which starts at 9:30. Called "Art Fusion," it promises to be an interesting mashup of live music, spoken word and LIVE painting - fused and formed simultaneously in a continuous feedback loop of inspiration. I've never heard of such a thing, it sounds like fun.

If you've not visited, Poethouse Art is worth checking out just for itself. Located on the second floor of the building on the SE corner of Bond and Minnesota (entrance is on the Minnesota side), the attractive gallery rents out -- on a sliding scale based on what the artist can afford -- small studio rooms for local artists to work in, as well as providing plenty of well-lit expanses of wall for exhibitions, which change on a regular basis.

Several months ago I saw an exhibition of local artist Ken Roth's very nice abstracts at the gallery, but I've not been by since May, mainly because I had my famous ankle blow-out. Now I've recovered enough to visit this upstairs gallery. So I think it's high time I dropped by. On account of there should be enough going on to keep Mrs Elliott out later in the evening.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Geeking out on our VW camper

Our little 1984 Volkswagen Westfalia pop-top camper received a refrigerator transplant today. A few years ago I removed the OEM Dometic refrigerator because it didn't have the cooling horsepower to keep up with the heat of the southwest and replaced it with a more modern Norcold unit.

The Norcold kept things nice and cold, but it was too noisy for me. It made a thrumming sound whenever it ran, which was pretty much every ten minutes. And it vibrated the galley cabinet so much that everything on the stove-top or around it would rattle. I spent much time chasing down rattly things whenever the compressor it kicked on.

Well, a few weeks ago I sold that refrigerator to one of the aides at the place where I go for physical therapy -- a cyclist/runner with a Westy that has a faulty refrigerator. He said he has no problem with the noise level. Some people are bothered by noise more than others.

To replace it, I purchased a Vitrifrigo brand refrigerator, a design which uses a more efficient compressor and is much quieter as a result.

My son came over today to give me a hand installing it.

In the process of changing the door from left-hand opening to right-hand opening we immediately lost the latch spring.


"What was that?"

"I don't know. Wait -- what happened to the spring?"

He had to drive to Bend Lock and Safe, where he works, to find a replacement.

A little creative woodworking with a jigsaw to open up the front of the cabinet a bit, a little electrical wiring, and the new refrigerator was installed.

It's real quiet: all I can hear is sound of the little muffin fan blowing air through the condenser. It's also more roomy inside, and has a real freezer section. And a tiny, tiny little ice cube tray, Barbie sized.

Of course, there won't be any camping for many months now, but I'm glad that when we start camping next spring, I won't be getting up in the middle of the night, swearing and moving pots and pans around to quell the rattle.

A City Recovers: B of A Clock Accurate Once Again

Now that Daylight Saving Time has ended, the clock tower at the Bank of America building on Wall reads correctly once again. It was never sprang it forward when DST started earlier this year. So it's been off by an hour all summer long

I'm thankful that we can put all that behind us now. At least until next spring.

What's up, BofA? Someone lose the instructions?

Ducks or Beavers?

As transplants, we don't know where to come down on this crucial issue. Or if we should even be allowed to have an opinion. I don't have a favorite college football team so if I were to pick an Oregon team to root for, I would not be betraying any loyalties.

I know nothing about the Oregon teams.

I generally like ducks, as a race. Ducks are funny-looking. I can offhand think of several famous ducks in comics and cartoons (Donald, Daisy, Daffy, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Scrooge, and Howard). I can't think of any cartoon beavers.

Beavers aren't very interesting. About all you can say about them is that they work hard. They are just kind of big rats.

They both look pretty angry. It's unclear why.

Nope, we don't have much to go on.

Clown Walks into a Bar and Orders a Varietal

I took a cab downtown after work yesterday for my bi-weekly haircut at the Bond Street Barber Shop. Mrs Elliott has been out of town for a week and the prospect of another night cooped up alone in the house in front of the TV did not appeal, so I was looking to get out and be around people. Enjoy a light repast, some wine, do a little reading. The weather had been kind all day, and the evening was lovely.

People in costume were about. While getting barbered I saw a garden gnome pass the window. Owner Jim Wilson incorrectly identified the boy as a leprechaun. Different species of small imaginary people entirely.

There are three wine bars close to the barber shop. Two have opened very recently on on Minnesota. One in the small space formerly occupied by Chocolate e Gateaux -- I've only looked through the window there, I can't tell if it's a nice place to spend an evening. The other, across the street, is where Volcano Vineyards moved to from their former location on Brooks Street. They had found it difficult running a nice wine bar next to the rowdy, drunken crowd who spilled out of the nightclub next door. And there's The Wine Shop and Tasting Bar, also on Minnesota, which suits me quite nicely.

It's spacious enough to to not feel cramped, unlike the other two shops. They always have a fine selection of wines by the glass*, there are tables for groups and a comfortable bar, The lighting is bright enough to read by, and due to sharing a lobby with the Poethouse/tbd loft, the clientele is always interesting. I've had a number of brilliant conversations with locals, street people, artists, musicians, and visitors there. Last night there was a party going on upstairs and lots of people in costume were milling around the general vicinity.

So I'm sitting with a glass of wine and a cheese plate, reading a story in a magazine when a rodeo clown walks into the bar and orders a pinot grigio. That seems like the beginning of a joke, but the beginning's all I got.

He had just come off the tail end of a rocky marriage, and being single again, the clown was out for adventure. But under his greasepaint he was a worried clown, worried that he was too old to find someone to be with.

I "tut-tutted" him, and assured him that a man in his mid-40's needn't fret about that, at least here in Bend.

Mrs Elliott has checked Bend out to see if it might be a good place for an unmarried sister to move to and came to the conclusion that she would not like to be a single woman here. The population of single, bright, and attractive females appears to be greater than that of suitable males, so the odds favor men in that regard.

Because I am not in the habit of searching for and identifying single men, I take her word for this, but she's smart and wise and knows things like that.

The fellow seemed to be an all-right guy, well-built, a self-employed artist with a strong following, so I gave him a pep talk, a little sage advice from the perspective of an older man who's made more than his share of bad relationship choices and yet somehow managed to end up married to a sweet and generous woman.

The take-home lesson was that good things can happen, even to middle-age rodeo clowns with a taste for white wine.

* Speaking of wines by the glass, one of my favorites has returned after a hiatus of a few months. It's the 2006 Chateau de Fouzilhon from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France; a dry red with great structure and a mineral finish that lingers on the tongue forever. At $12.99/bottle it's a good value. I missed it when it was gone. Melanie doesn't want her wine list to get stale, so she brought in one or two other dry reds for a while, but they didn't have nearly the character or structure of this one. I'm glad it's back.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Funny Looking Shoes, and a Wager

"You're going to need different shoes," said Dr. Askew, who surgically fused my ankle back in June.

Outcome studies on people with ankle fusions show increased osteoarthritis in the non-fused joints in the foot, and I've already got a fair amount of that due to the original accident back in 1980. So I paid attention to him.

There are, he said, two shoes that are helpful: New Balance 1123's, and MBT "rocker" bottom shoes -- the "anti-shoe."

Neither is inexpensive. The New Balance shoe, carried by Footzone on Wall street as well as other shops around town, is pretty flashy for an old guy with a limp. They've got chrome or something shiny on them. Runners, it appears, like their shoes complicated and colorful. "Super" Dave helped fit me and they felt much better than my old sneakers, so I bought a pair.

I do feel pretty silly in them. "Brown shoes don't make it," Frank Zappa once sang, but at my age, brown shoes feel right. They are understated. One does not wish to be off-putting unless one is dashing enough to carry it off, and I missed the dashing gene.

The MBT shoes are stocked across Wall at North Soles Footware. Margo, the owner, got me fitted up. It's also a goofy-looking shoe with a thick, rounded sole, and is very odd to walk on. But it does provide a lot of stability and rolling forward on the sole gives me a bit of a platform to launch off of for the next step, something that is otherwise difficult to do when the ankle don't bend.

I got a pair of brown ones.

Mrs Elliott tried on a womens pair in white. Looked like orthopædic shoes, or those nurse's shoes which were worn back in the starched uniform Nurse Ratched day. She declined to buy them.

So I strolled over to Pine Tavern in my new brown shoes for a meeting with a fellow who goes by "blackdog" online. His blog, Bend Sux, is dedicated to the proposition that Bend "...really, truly, deeply and profoundly sucks." He has recently introduced a "daily suck index" (DSI) intended to demonstrate that the weather around here has a high degree of suckitudinosity.

I needed to see him about that.

Suckiness, as it pertains to weather and a host of other things, including but not limited to music, art, architecture, food, wine, clothes, one's parents, the neighbor's yappy little dog, und so weiter, is of course a completely subjective matter. But given the title of blackdog's blog, it's easy to see where he's gotta go with this: the weather sucks in, one presumes, a deep and profound way, and frequently enough so that any human with a shred of intelligence who can, would leave.

Now, I personally find the climate here bracing, refreshing, challenging, unpredictable, the skies beautiful; and the change of the seasons deeply moving, unlike the pale version that we get in coastal SoCal, which is the easy-listening music of weather.

But I can't challenge another's opinion about what constitutes nice weather. To each his own. However, over on Bend Sux I did question whether blackdog had the tenacity and perseverance to rate the DSI on a daily basis for an entire year. "He doesn't have what it takes," I thought.

I certainly couldn't gin up the patience and creativity needed to remark about the weather every day.

So a wager was offered. A time and location for a meeting was agreed upon so each could take the measure of the other.

Thus last night's meeting at Pine Tavern, where over a pint of porter (me) and a glass of red wine (him), we both agreed that easy listening jazz deeply and profoundly sucks.

That settled, we got around to the point of the meeting. Buoyed up by ale and the new-found confidence that sometimes accompanies new shoes, I bet him cash money that he'd find writing about the weather every day, for a full 365 days, to be about as interesting as cleaning out those Augean stables, or updating a newspaper's obituaries, and that he'd not accomplish his mission.

(NB: A loophole was left open that needs closing. On more than one occasion he's done a Suck Index after several days of blog-silence. It's the Daily Suck Index I'm betting against, not some made-up weak Weekly Suck Index or other workaround. And at time of writing, I don't believe a DSI has been posted for today. There's cash at stake.)

As we left I showed him these goofy-looking MBT shoes. It does appear that I will be sporting odd footwear for, like, ever.

Monday, October 26, 2009

To The Harbormaster

I mentioned in a earlier post that I don't "get" poetry very well. Maybe it's because I am a "silent reader" and don't "hear" in my head the words that I read -- they go straight to meaning without "sound," and it may be that in poetry the sounds of the words carry much of the meaning, or hearing them gives time to digest the meaning.

I also don't hear song lyrics. I get distracted by the music, the sounds, the licks and riffs and bass lines the rhythm, and have no idea what the song is about. I recently asked my wife what the Michael Jackson song "Billie Jean" was about. When she told me, I was surprised -- I had it in my head that it was somehow either about Marilyn Monroe ("Norma Jean) , or Billie Jean King, that tennis player. It makes it tough for me to sing a song.

That said, I recently came across a Frank O'Hara poem that floored me.

To the Harbormaster

I wanted to be sure to reach you
though my ship was on the way it got caught
in some moorings. I am always tying up
and then deciding to depart. In storms and
at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide
around my fathomless arms, I am unable
to understand the forms of my vanity
or I am hard alee with my Polish rudder
in my hand and the sun sinking. To
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage
of my will. The terrible channels where
the wind drives me against the brown lips
of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and
if it sinks it may well be in answer
to the reasoning of the eternal voices,
the waves which have kept me from reaching you.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Two in Drag, a-and a Theramin!

Poor Mans Whiskey's show at the Domino Room last night, "Dark Side of the Moonshine," was fantastic. I mean, dress up a bluegrass/rock group as characters from "The Wizard Of Oz," including Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, the Wicked Witch, a farmhand and I don't know what the drummer was wearing, give them two sets of kick-ass bluegrass and rock music with their bluegrass version of Pink Floyd's iconic Dark Side Of The Moon -- all of it -- sandwiched in the middle, then toss in a laser light show as well as a theramin (played by guitarist Eli Jebidiah) for the psychedelic song "On The Run," ...and you've got a show, my friend.

The hall was close to packed and the band ripped the place apart.

Mrs Elliott and I got there early, but not quite early enough to score seats at the balcony, so we had to sit a distance back, but found that sitting behind the light man on the balcony gave us a clear sightline of the stage, though one member of a group of very drunk young women next to us who apparently felt that the point of being at a show was to talk loudly and continuously with her friends, and on occasion attempt a bit of dancing which verged perilously close to tumbling into everyone nearby including the light control board 'bout drove Mrs Elliott crazy, but we're not so young that we'd care to spend the entire evening standing up in the crowd down on on the main floor so you get what you get in a venue like this.

It reminded me of the rooms I used to play in when I was in high school in Ventura, Calif. Dark, decrepit, and funky -- just the right kind of place for great music. The sound was pretty darn good though the bass was a bit flabby -- the opening and closing heartbeat on the album was provided by the kick drum and it didn't thud, it just blubbed.

Costumes were encouraged, but not many participated. Mrs Elliott suggested that I covered a couple plastic funnels we found in the garage with aluminum tape and fashion Tin Man hats for the both of us.

Dropkick Murphys is coming to town on November 8 at the Midtown. Celtic Punk is not exactly to Mrs Elliott's taste, so I'll be going stag to this one.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Enough with the Carrots!

I've never cared much for cooked carrots. I'm not alone in this. The Interwebs are full of "I hate cooked carrots" stories.

The day after the Berlin wall came down in 1989, the previous Mrs Elliott and I were studying menus in a restaurant in Vienna when an Austrian friend commented that he "abhorred" cooked carrots.

That simple statement somehow made it okay for me to admit my deep and abiding hatred for the cooked root.

Carrots apparently originated in Afghanistan, and made it to Europe -- for reasons unknown to me -- in the 17th century, whereupon either the damn British or the stupid Dutch brought the horrid things here. Spread like athlete's foot in a Turkish bathhouse. Next thing you know, steam tables in schools and penitentiaries were laden with the things and folk were baking them with brown sugar (just in case the cooked carrots weren't sweet enough already).

And that's where matters lay for centuries.

But in the 80s, Americans started demanding that their dishes be sweeter and sweeter, and I noticed a disquieting trend in US restaurants to put carrots (and corn, that cloyingly sweet cereal) into meals that had been just fine without them.

Chinese food, for example. Suddenly the cretins in the kitchen were wokking carrots with everything. I asked a Chinese-born employee whether the food back home in Shanghai had carrots in it. "No, of course not," she said, making an "ick" expression.

The Cantonese-style food in Hong Kong, arguably the finest in the world, has not a trace of the evil root. Pan-Asians had enough sense to stay away from the carrot, recognizing it for what it is: abhorrent.


So last night Mrs Elliott (the present one) and I dined at the Hong Kong Restaurant on 3rd. First time we've eaten there.

I ordered chow mein. It's not a dish I normally order, but the place has an old school atmosphere* that took me back to the kitschy Chinese restaurants my parents brought us "for Chinese" in the late 50's and early 60's in pre-Yuppie Napa and Santa Barbara. That was a simpler time and most Americans' only exposure to Chinese cuisine was watered-down Cantonese food. I mean, for heaven's sake, Mom used to bring home goopy chicken chow mein in a can. The crispy noodles were packaged in a separate can. We ate it up and clamored for more!

Back to last night: when the dishes were brought, the sizzling rice soup unfortunately did not sizzle because the rice was not hot enough, but it was the dinner hour and the place was slammed so I can't fault them for that.

But what did I see in my chow mein? Chopped carrots. I was dismayed.

Is this really necessary? Do we have to pitch carrots into everything? It's probably a cheap filler, but it's getting to the point where I have to practice defensive ordering.

"I'll take the oatmeal, please -- they don't put any carrots in it, do they?"

"Let's see . . . how about the four-cheese pizza. Hold the carrots."

Put not cooked carrots in my food, for it is an abomination unto me and maketh me to upchuck a little bit into my mouth.

* As for the Bamboo Room Lounge in the back, I told Mrs Elliott that she simply has to have her next employee holiday dinner there. It's a must-see.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Catgut Trio + Senger Raise Hair

Tonight's performance of High Desert Chamber Music at the Tower Theater was, in this reporter's humble opinion, the best yet. Of course, it was only the fourth public performance by the young organization, now in their second year. They've put on consistently good shows, and the organizers have brought in some fine talent. I've never left a performance disappointed, but I've never been electrified like I was this evening.

The Catgut Trio had the stage for the first half, opening with Anton Rubinstein's Melody (Op. 3, #1), followed by Zdeněk Fibich's Poème (Op. 39), then finished with a string trio by von Herzogenberg (A major, Op. 27, #1). None of which were familiar to me or Mrs Elliott, and unfamiliar music -- serious music -- is often difficult to appreciate until it has been heard a few times.

After a few intonation problems in the first few bars, the trio got nicely warmed up and settled into their groove.

But it was in the second half of the evening, when the Trio, joined by HDCM's Isabelle Senger on second violin, kicked some serious butt on Beethoven's String Quartet No. 9 in C Major, Op. 59, #3("Rasumovsky").

I love me some Beethoven chamber pieces. Give me a proper piano trio or quartet and I'm a happy man. Give me some of Beethoven's middle quartets and I'm getting right cheerful. Don't even talk to me about his late quartets -- those are about a nutritious a musical meal that a man could want at a single sitting, and leave me feeling pretty pleased.

When watching the trio + Senger, it was easy to focus on Catgut's Kevin Kumar (first violin) and Armen Ksajikian (cello) -- both are expressive, idiosyncratic virtuosi, and both are fun to watch. But showmanship aside, the inner voices -- Senger's violin and Catgut's Dale Hikawa Silverman's viola -- were often where the action was because of how well they blended with each other and supported the more showy bits happening closer to the audience. Which is not to say that they weren't handed some pretty fancy arpeggi and licks to play, because they were and when it was their time to take the lead, they did, in harmony or singly.

And speaking of fancy bits to play, the final movement, a rippingly fast fugue tossed from player to player, was positively hair-raising. They tore the roof off the place. The audience heartily and loudly approved.

Bravo and brava to the players, and again, I thank Isabelle Senger for her dedication to bringing such fine players and music to Bend.

Poetry In Bend

I had a brilliant conversation with Terran L. Randolph a couple weeks ago who is doing a lot of interesting things in Bend with music, poetry, and inspirational speaking. The conversation was briefer than I wished it could be, but he left me with a CD of his music, and has sent me a collection of his poetry, as well as some notices about upcoming events which might be of interest to my reader:

On December 11th, Jim Maschue will be discussing his new book Oops, Your Personality is Showing! (Outskirts Press, Inc., Denver, Colorado). Amazon says that the book, "will assist you in all areas of your life. This book can help you identify the type of your child at a very early age. There are nine types of children and each are on a different emotional path. Things that work with one type of child can be detrimental to another. Nothing can be more important than raising a healthy child. If you were a single person, wouldn't it help to know that there is one type that is SUPER attracted to you and that you have a strong attraction to yet another type? When you know the type of your partner, you know how to build amazing closeness and you know what to avoid. Imagine being a salesman and understanding how your cusItalictomer will buy from you before you learn their name! Each of the nine types of people buys in very different ways and even shakes hands differently!"

It could be true.

Seating will be limited to 50 people.

Also, starting in November the PoetHouse in downtown Bend along with Terran's Manifest Destiny will be starting a series of poetry workshops called "Bend Oregon's Young Voices Be Heard," which Terran describes as "a space and outlet for young voices where they can learn how to write from within, learn how to find their flow, as well as memorizing and performing in front of the class." He said that "We want to provide a safe and positive environment because poetry is necessary."

They will hold a youth poetry slam were the kids can win prizes to book stores or cash from sponsors, and the creation of a slam team in every school district who will have a slam off at the Tower Theatre is in the works.

The cost for the class will be $25 dollars per student for the week and will meet on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

For more details on either of these events, give Terran a call at 602-614-3180 or email him at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Central Oregon Provides Fine Weather for Season's Last Camping Trip

Though the National Weather Service was predicting rain and gloom for the past weekend, the actual weather turned out to be just perfect for a camping trip for my son and me. We found a sweet little site off USFR 23 at the base of Pine Mountain southeast of town, and had a lovely three days.

I discarded my ankle stabilization boot on the first day and have been doing without it since. I walk slowly, with a big hitch and a limp, and some pain, but things are improving.

That boot will be relegated to a corner of the house, rather like a grisly Victorian-era umbrella holder fashioned from the foot of an elephant. Likewise, I'll keep a couple spare canes or whatnot in it.

The camping gear gets put away now, the little Westrailia trailer gets a new blue tarp to keep it snug until next season.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Man Bites Self In Ass

"Hooray," I thought. "Now that I'm no longer in California, I will no longer have to pay the Secretary of State the annual $800 fee for my LLC!"

The fees here are lower, and California provided nothing of any value to me for that annual fee. So I figured I was coming out smelling of roses and a little patchouli oil from the local hippies.

Except for one little thing: I didn't file papers to shut down my California LLC when I left the place in 2008. And forgot to do so once here.

So I owe the great state of the totally extinct since 1922 golden bear Ursus arctos californicus $800 for 2008, and $800 for 2009.

I suspect they have some kind of an agreement with Oregon that can make my life miserable if I don't pay the fees.

I know, I know -- I got no one to blame but myself.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dark Side of the Moon

I first heard Dark Side of the Moon in Sausalito in 1973.

But now . . . a bluegrass version of the Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon?

Yeah. Poor Man's Whiskey.

I'll be there. Either with Mrs Elliott, if she's feeling in the mood, or my son. -- check out the video.

October 24 in Ye Dominoe Roome.

So Close, Yet So Far Away

Has anyone been to the Abbey Pub up on Pence Lane (sorta kinda where College and Newport come together over on the westside)? I love Supporting Local, but this taproom pours beers from breweries from all over place. This intrigues me.

They're close to my house, but after a few ales I will not get behind the wheel of my car, and I'm not yet healed enough to ride a bike.*

Mrs Elliott would drive me there and back, but it doesn't seem appropriate to be picked up from a pub by one's wife. Kinda like having your mom pick you up after a rave.

I gotta get back on the bike.

* The penalty for riding a bike while under the influence is the same as as if you were driving a car. That I can live with. The advantage of riding a bike under the influence is that you are not likely to kill someone else.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chance Encounter Demonstrates Earth Smaller Than Previously Thought

While having a glass of excellent Côtes du Rhône at Melanie Bettie's Wine Shop and Tasting Bar on Minnesota St. last night, I struck up a conversation with pianist Eric Anderson who is here for the weekend, having been flown to Bend by Isabelle Senger to perform at tonight's High Desert Chamber Music's second annual gala. They'll be doing Moszkowski's Suite in G minor for two violins and piano.

I'm not familiar with the piece, Anderson told me that it's a challenge for him due to the demands it places on the player's left hand. Or maybe he was talking about another piece. He's a great conversationalist and add to that the conviviality of the wine bar and the general haze caused by a couple of glasses of good wine, and I confess that he might well have been talking about something else entirely.

There's a degree of separation at work here -- Anderson knows conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, the Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. I shared a house with Kahane in San Francisco in the early 70's. A former life, for sure.

I recall Kahane as being gentle, intelligent, hard-working, cheerful, and generous. According to Anderson, Kahane is still that way.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Belly Dancers

The Bulletin has a story today about a free belly dance workshop that was held downtown yesterday.

Am I the only guy that finds belly dancers kinda creepy? I certainly don't think they're hot. Like clowns, they are meant to provide amusement, but some people are freaked out by clowns. Or like someone's aunt who's had a little too much white wine at a party, dancing in a suggestive manner, thinking that she's enticing -- such women are worrisome.

Stay away from my table O fearsome woman with the jingly-jangly bits on your clothing. Do not attempt eye contact. I will pretend that this morsel of food in front of me is the most fascinating thing I've ever seen. I will not get up to join you and move awkwardly about the room, waving my arms in a silly fashion.

I am not nearly drunk enough for that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Deciduous Trees Caught With Pants Up

Yesterday's massively heavy snowfall has downed hundreds of tree limbs, and in some cases small trees, in our neighborhood. All the trees were deciduous which normally don't carry that kind of snow load because they usually drop their leaves before snow gets heavy. Not this year, though. They hadn't yet had time to get naked for winter and the weight of the snow just tore them apart.

Your coniferous trees, evergreens, are built for snow and I didn't see any that looked troubled.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Snow, Power Outage . . . might as well do some housework

Wow -- a heavy snowfall this morning. It was snowing when I woke up, and now (11 am) we've got at least 5 inches heavy snow weighing down the branches of the trees. (Photo taken at 8am.)

We were going to go to Home Despot and get some hardboard cut for a project, pick up some hardware doodads, but I'll wait until others have cleared the streets a bit even though I have some good Finnish Nokian Hakkapeliitta winter tires on my VW van.

And the power went out for 2,800 homes (per Pacific Power's recorded phone announcement) including ours for about an hour. A good excuse to make a cup of coffee and just wander about the house and tidy up heaps of books and papers and disassembled projects I'm tinkering on.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Catching Up

It's been a few weeks since I've published anything.

I totally forgot to publish my annual September fashion edition!

I have indeed been remiss. The picture to the left will have to suffice.

With regard to last week's Tumblebug Complex smoke and ash downpour, I noticed that standing in the middle of the parking lot at the Cascade Village Shopping Center between Bed, Bath, and Beyond and World Market on that hot, smoky day was just like a trip to Southern California. It was hot and hellish, and I'm sure that with the right photoshopping and promotion you could get it to look really attractive.

Lately I've been clumping around a lot on two legs with a stabilization boot on the recovering leg. On Tuesday my orthopedic surgeon said that the end of the tibia (leg bone) and top of the talus (ankle bone) are now nicely-fused and that it's time to get the custom-molded orthotics (insoles) made so I can start with non-booted weight bearing and walking.

I got the bottoms of my feets cast at Pacific Medical Orthotics and Prosthetic and the orthotics will be delivered next week. At which point I will have to lay out some more bucks for some "rocker bottom" shoes to help with walking. MBT shoes (sold at North Sole on Wall St.) and New Balance 1123's (Footzone) are the two that have been commended to me.

Alas, my crummy health insurance was only willing to cough up enough money for eight physical therapy visits. Runner and skiier Chris Vergona at Rebound Physical Therapy is the go-to physical therapist and she tells me that this is not nearly enough sessions for someone who has been non weight-bearing for as long as I have, esp. after getting an ankle fusion. The risk is that I'll never get the right muscles strengthened up sufficiently to get a normal gait back.

She's under the illusion that I had a normal gait before my ankle blew out and was fused. This ankle was shattered when I was 29 years old, along with the hip, and the knee on my other leg.

I just want to be able to get back on a bicycle again.

But for right now, even in the stabilization boot I can get around quite a bit. I'm starting to putter around the house, doing manly activities like using tools and repairing broken things, taking out the trash, and doing my own damn laundry.

Which makes Mrs Elliott happy.

Yesterday afternoon, after dropping off some parcels destined for a customer in Scotland at the downtown post office, I parked my VW Vanagon camper van in a handicap parking spot on Bond Street across from the barber shop for a much-needed haircut and a pint of 10 Barrel's new award-winning Sinistor Black Ale, which is really quite nice.

The place was jumpin': barbers at all four chairs, everyone seemed to be enjoying Friday. Even the UPS man, who came in for a haircut at the end of his shift decided to dump his uniform shirt and strip to a t-shirt so he could have a glass of ale w/o besmirching the company's reputation.

There's something about getting a glass of ale with your haircut that is eminently satisfying.

Mrs Elliott met up with me later and we stayed out the evening for Art Walk. This was my first First Friday on two legs! ...and it felt grand.

At Hot Box Betty a young husband and wife team were showing a number of figurative oil paintings on large canvases. I did not catch their names! But the work was wonderful: everything that one should know about painting the human form -- composition, values, warm and cold colors, foreshortening -- were on display. Lovely work.

Next door at Mockingbird Gallery -- which was really crowded -- I suggested to owner Jim Peterson that he pop over to Hot Box Betty and take a look. Ken Roth, one of my favorite local artists and nice guy to boot, said that the two artists were former students of his. He felt that it was about time for Mockingbird to set up an annex for edgier, less mainstream work. Mockingbird does have some lovely pieces, but this economy being what it is, the selection leans toward very nice, sometimes brilliantly-executed, but safe works. Although it must be said that if it's cheesy and hyper-commercial art you have a hankering for, you can't go wrong at the Lahaina Gallery at the Old Mill.

(My opinions only, of course. But it's my blog and if you don't like what I have to say, then get your own - Ed.)

At the end of the evening, I left my van downtown and Mrs Elliott drove us both home. She dropped me off early this morning to pick it up. Our first freeze, I reckon. Had to scrape the windshield, and midway home the gas pedal froze to the bottom of this stupid plastic stabilization boot and it was pulled right off the accelerator linkage when I lifted my foot off the gas to use the brake in a roundabout.

The engine dropped to an idle and I pulled to the side of the road to see what happened.

So thar I was, pinned down by Jap fire . . . no, wait: wrong war story. Thar I was, in a sweatshirt and pajama bottoms with my big butt sticking out into traffic fiddling around under the pedal getting it re-attached to the linkage.

One of those odd mechanical things that parts on VW Vanagons do to remind us of their existence.

I got home without further incident and have been loving the alternating rain, snow, and sun that we've been having today. I reckon it's about time to yank the casement-mount air conditioner and its cardboard gasket from the window and put the window back in. Two cords of seasoned wood have refreshed the woodpile, the wood stove downstairs and its chimney insert have been cleaned, and we're prepping for winter.

I have my fingers crossed that we get a few more days of nice weather before winter clamps down because my son and I are hoping to get one more camping trip later this month. We're thinking of Pine Mountain, up by the observatory. 6,200 feet closer to the stars. The night sky in fall is lovely.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Doc Greenlights Weight-bearing

The surgeon who performed my ankle fusion is happy with the healing and has given approval for physical therapy to wean -- the word he used -- me off the Knee Scooter and, presumably, onto two both feet.

The x-rays pleased him greatly. He pointed out various features which indicated how solidly the site has pasted itself together.

I've been babying the ankle and foot, keeping them well-protected from any weight or leverage which might cause things to pull apart.

So there I was, sitting on the examination table and Dr. Askew unexpected grabbed my foot and bent it about to show how the other joints in it will be taking up the slack for the now-fused joint. "See?" he said. "Your heel can bend and rotate like this, and these joints in the foot will bend like this!"

My heart just about stopped. Mrs Elliott went pale.

The fused ankle didn't move a whit, the other feety bones and articulations did. I expected pain. There was none.

Outcome studies on ankle fusions show a high rate of osteoarthritis in the foot years down the road, this due to the other joints having to compensate for an ankle that no longer flexes. So to minimize that danger I'll be wearing funny "rocker" shoes and orthotics from now on.

Bend's Fleet Feet and North Sole Footwear (no website?) both carry the special shoes. They're spendy, but a prosthetic foot is even more expensive. Ickier, too.

Time to call the folk at Rebound Physical Therapy and get the ball rolling.

My First First Friday

Tonight will probably be the last First Friday that isn't very cold. It will also be the first First Friday that I am mobile enough to be out and about. So Mrs Elliott will visit the shops and kick some tires and I will be poking around on my rented Bantex Knee Scooter.

It's a clunky device. You kneel on it with the bad leg. If either front wheel gets snagged, by and cracks in the pavement, pebbles.... heck, painted lines are almost sufficient to snag a wheel, the steering instantly heaves over in the direction of the snag without warning, threatening to pitch one off the scooter. So despite the apparent speediness that the wheels suggest, one moves carefully on all but the smoothest of surfaces.

BUT the Knee Scooter provides far more mobility than crutches or wheel chairs. All it needs is a backup beeper, some tassles on the handlebars, two tiny mudflaps with naked girls on them, a flower on the basket, and a squeeze-bulb horn and I'll be cruisin'.

$600 retail, $100 a month to rent, not covered by my insurance. Norco has 'em.
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