Friday, July 9, 2010

A Paseo in Bend, and a Lost Bit of Bend History

Yesterday was warmish, and with Mrs Elliott out of town (she having gone to Dallas or Houston or Fort Worth or one of those dismal humid places for a conference), I reckoned that it would be a good time to pull the air conditioner out of the garage, where it slumbers during the Cold Season, and reinstall it into the window in the living room.

When we put it in last year I was in a wheel chair and not quite the handy man I normally claim to be, so we just filled the frame around the unit with a patchwork of cardboard and masking tape, which worked fine but looked a bit more makeshift than Mrs Elliott likes.

This year I had a custom-cut piece of acrylic made at Bend Glass & Mirror to surround the device and seal the window. And I promptly broke that acrylic sheet into three pieces during installation.

With the breaks craftily hidden with Post-It notes with "I Love You" written in Sharpie pasted over them, I cleaned up the scattered mass of tools, showered, and rode my little red bike and trailer to Drake Park to meet up with some friends for the first Munch and Music of 2010.

A balmy evening, it was, with some of Bend's finest moms and dads, boys and girls, and ladies and gentlemen out enjoying the park, the music, and the other people.

And there were plenty of people. A parade of people. The best part, for me, is watching the people, and our lawn chairs were ideally situated for that: facing one of the park paths, everyone who was anyone passed in front of us at least once,  many several times.

It's quite like a traditional Spanish paseo. The Spanish love their evening strolls: to see and be seen, to greet and to catch up, to seek and perhaps find; here, the young people seemed most intent on seeking and finding, the rest of the crowd seemed content just to stroll.

And we to watch.

Aphrodesia, a San Francisco-based Afro-beat band, played two long sets of Latin pop/funk/jazz with really nice extended, structured jams; while I struggled with the countervailing forces of savory fast food kiosks nearby versus this unfortunately-large waistline even closer.

It didn't help that last night was the first of what is hoped to be a series of prepared-mustard tasting events. Yeah, that sounds weird, but okay: pretzels and mustard were brought. Three mustards, to be precise, and Rold Gold Classic Style Rods pretzels -- "Guaranteed Fresh," it says on the bag. Given the lack of an expiration date, the word "fresh" doesn't mean what most people mean when they use the word "fresh."

Yet these desiccated supermarket offerings might very well be the best that Bend can offer in the pretzel department; and until someone starts making fresh pretzels here, Rold Gold Classic Style Rods threaten to become the standard pretzel used for the future Bend Prezel and Mustard and Marching Band Appreciation Society meetings.

Really, though, a pretzel is just a mustard-delivery system. It's about the mustard. More will be brought for consideration. Someday soon, the King of Mustards will be crowned. Of last evening's mustards, we realized we had tasted just a tiny bit of a much vaster spectrum of prepared mustards.

I also went to the park because of a little bit of Bend history. Hack Bend ended their writeup of the event with this little tid-bit, promising that they would "...have a string “no dog” policy during the event...."

Not many people know that during the 1920's, a craze for all things Incan swept Central Oregon, and in 1924 the city voted to release official documents not just on paper, but using the writing form of ancient Inca: knotted strings, or khipu. (See picture at the top of the page.)

Nearly a hundred of these "talking knots" "documents" were made from February 1924 until the city council came to their senses and abandoned the practice in November of 1925.

As Ian Scuffling of the Deschutes County Historical Society tells it, "Jasper Harriman showed the council how a hangman's noose is knotted and offered to give the mayor a personal demonstration if the council didn't stop the tomfoolery and stop it right now."

Because only a few of these odd "documents" still survive (most having mysteriously vanished in 1927 when the yo-yo craze hit America), I really wanted to see the string “no dog” policy but no one knew where it was.

So I took this picture from the footbridge on my way home:


  1. Lovely photo, Jack. Last evening's sunset over the Cascades was as beautiful as any I have ever seen anywhere.

    Is there such a thing as a stale pretzel?

  2. I think that these pretzels are purposely made to be stale. Think bread dried to the point where it is crusty and shatters when handled. Just as the food producers managed to acclimate people to green bananas, Folger's coffee, and Budweiser, the pretzel purveyors have erased from our memories, Men In Black fashion, all recollection of an earlier day when pretzels were fresh, chewy, and still warm from the oven. Store-bought pretzels resemble fresh pretzels the same way that Chef Boyardee spaghetti resembles good Italian pasta.


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