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.

P-ting!

"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.

BEND CONTENT BEGINS

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 manifestdestinyinc@gmail.com

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.

http://4peaksmusic.com/2009/07/darkside-of-the-moonshine/ -- 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.
 
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