New This Week

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I don’t really buy nice things for myself because I’m hustling to pay for my mortgage and my lifestyle, but now that I think about it—my lifestyle is a nice thing that I buy for myself. I’m lucky. Life is good. Etc. Etc.

However, I did just acquire this new table/bench set, custom built for my tiny kitchen nook by a talented pal named Brock. Do you know him? A wizard of woodworking; a master of maths, saws, and impact drivers.

So, this table, it’s more than nice—it’s magnificent. Made from Douglas Fir, or doug fir to the layman. So warm in color, you think it might be warm to touch. I plan to keep it forever and have it always piled high with stuff—like open dog-eared magazines near cream-filled morning coffees, like glasses of wine, like games of dice, like notepads filled with lists, like cutting boards of bread and cheese, like pumpkins being carved with a cookie sheet to save the seeds.

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Saturday Night Stuff

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On Saturday night, I rode my bike all over town, but mainly to a foot stompin’ show near Belmont Street—a benefit for My Voice Music put on by The Lonesome Billies, my fave Portland old-country band.

Last year, I attended the same event, with the same people, on the same bike. This is a big deal, because it’s late October—and normally you can’t ride your bike drunkly around town in late October on account of the damn, damn rain. However, both this year and last, soaring down dark, empty streets with leaves flying away in our wake happened, so perhaps it’s all predestined.

Along this ride, we breaked for a stiff drink on Burnside Street, forged a crowd waiting to get into a “Burning Man after party,” and were nearly scooted off the road by a left-turning semi truck. It was all good—all part of the journey.

Upon our arrival, pro-skater Leo Romero’s band Travesura played—who I’ve been following since I stumbled upon their show last winter—and much dancing immediately ensued. The place was filled with pals. Strings of white lights winked overhead. Arms hung over the necks of neighbors, and everyone sung along. It was a pure good time (for a good cause) that should def not be missed by the likes of you next year, okay?

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October street gang.

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Favorites 10.16.14

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Planning a faraway trip: Yes, yes, live in the now … but what about the excitement/discovery of planning—planning a wild foreign adventure, to be specific? (Pic by Bernhard Lang).

Toasted pumpkin-seed oil: I’m pretty meh on pumpkins (most Thanksgiving food, really). But toasted pumpkin seed oil! Nutty, pungent—it’s a cappella of flavor. Pour this forest-green elixir on fresh bread and sprinkle some salt. Please. Thanks.

Beginner violin practice in the house across the alley: When you have your window open for maybe the last time of the year, and instead of sirens or birdsong, what you hear on the thin fall air is a 4th grader stumbling through violin scales—this is profoundly comforting.

Friday Night Lights:  Not about football. (A little about football). About the human condition. About brotherhood. About adolescent upheaval. About dignity. Also, the filming’s gritty, and the music’s great. (Disclaimer: I’m talking the TV show—not the movie—which I haven’t seen but DEF will so don’t spoil).

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First World Problems Of Mine

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Look, it’s October, and you and I both have gutters to clean and those juice-bursting, perfumey Asian pears to eat.

However, last week my refrigerator broke and I was forced to put everything in a cooler to wait five days for a repairman, and the cooler being small, I had to throw away a crap ton of food like the Heinz relish that’s been chilling since 2008 at least.

Also? Instagram’s (only) cool because it makes you think creatively (maybe), but I realized recently that I’m too lazy to take out my phone and snap pics of cool shit anymore—instead, having fallen into this slovenly habit of just screen-grabbing other people’s shots who were in attendance to repost in an “I was there” sort of way. Pathetic,  huh? Or maybe … maybe I’m just living my life?

This Time Last Year

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This time last year, it was a lot stormier. Remember?

There were torrential downpourings that caused almost-floods in my basement (thanks for helping me bail water, Nick!)—leaves and tree limbs littered the streets.

The days were cooler. There was already an acceptance of fall, an acceptance that longer, darker nights are restorative—that “rest” is allowable, that sitting on the couch under a blanket under a cat is a more-than-fine way to pass an evening, that all the “going” and “doing” you did this summer is somehow JUST NOW catching up with you and maybe that’s why you are suddenly so FUCKING EXHAUSTED every night at 6 o’clock …

My birthday weekend passed in a blur of cake and candles—candles on the cake, and candles for the darkness of a 9-hour power outage in SE Portland on the very eve of my birthday fete at Commonwealth. Remember? We all sat there in the dark, talked, drank wine.

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In the early days of October, I cooked a big soup out of tomatoes and potatoes and sage. I dipped toasty bread in. I thought about all the life things that needed doing before 2014 would come barreling through.

And one day, I climbed up Dog Mountain with Tricia and Lisa amidst spooky billows of fog. As we neared the top, the clouds split open and we found ourselves staring straight into the vacuum of space—dark purple faraway mountains cut by silver river waters, the promise of a golden sunset off to the west … Remember?

I do … but only cuz I wrote it down.

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Belonging

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Stayed up late on Friday night on account of our pal George Cutright had a photo show. A lovely occasion! It was a warm night, and everyone rode bikes. There was much wine and beer drunk, and thus plenty of drunk talk. Also? A basketball kept bouncing perilously inside through the open roll-up door, finding unsuspecting heads to hit and beer cups to tip over.

Now, George’s show: a collection of half-frame pictures of “people and the skateboards they belong too.” What he did was he took out his camera (read: not phone) and pressed down on the shutter button once while pointing at a person, and then again while pointing at their skateboard. He then went into the dark room (remember those?!) and created each print using an ages-old method called film developing.

Skateboarding might not be what regular 30 (and 40!!) somethings choose to do on a daily basis. But here in our circle, it is. It’s how we maintain fun in our lives and give meaning to our days. It’s how we keep the angst at bay. It’s how we find our place and our people. It’s how we keep our bodies healthy and remember that sometimes, strangely, falling down feels good.

Getting hurt can suck it of course.

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Pic by Brooke Geery.

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To: Me

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Oh hi! I turned another year old again. It happened this week on a quiet Tuesday of no particular import. There was rain upon waking and afternoon sun, followed by pizza in the evening.

Also? There was a party on Sunday eve. All of my friends (well, most—I think I forgot to text some of you? Gah, I’m sorry) came over and sat in the golden light that was beaming my backyard. It was exceptionally fun and made me feel all happy and sad at once (emotional, I think it’s called) because, I dunno, friends really are why life is good.

For instance: All of them showed up carrying bottles of wine or good beer tied to chocolate bars with pretty colored string, or they came carrying champagne, or they came carrying bouquets of gerber daisies or hydrangeas, or they came carrying handmade houseware crafted from an old skate deck, or they came carrying a bunch of balloons they stole from a child’s birthday party.

Obviously, these are good people we’re talking about here. Love you guys!

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The coolest coasters for keeping Pinot stains off the coffee table—handmade my Marsha and Jasper.

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Lefty ate a cupcake wrapper and got a modest proposal. He partied, in other words. 

Favorites 9.29.14

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Driving on the beach: It always feels like you’re getting away with something. Freedom! I mean, you could drive straight into the freaking waves if you wanted! But you don’t. But still.

Goat milk: Goat milk? Goat’s milk? Milk of the goats? Whatever you call it, it’s good. Use it in place of regs milk in your oatmeal and be rewarded with a deep creaminess and that lovely, goaty tang on the tail end.

Pine nuts: My very, very favorite of all the nuts. Or is it a seed? And why don’t they make some sort of pine-nut butter for toasts and rice cakes? This is something my breakfast most desperately needs.

Beginners: Rewatched this Mike Mills movie the other night and remembered how it’s great. About, among other things, the silk thread that ties our parents’ fraught relationship to our own adventures in fraught-ness. Also, cancer, rollerskating, and a wicked cute terrier.

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Top 3 To Read (Slowly)

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Did y’all know there’s a new movement for “slow reading”? Which basically just means reading a book. Because peeps are forgetting how, can’t sit still long enough, can’t focus on something for more than 10 minutes without scrolling. Reading books is my thing! But I’m a victim, too. That shit takes me waaaay longer now. But I’m still doing it! You should, too.

Without further ado, I give you my top 3 favorite non-fiction books. All of them wild with adventure, of course.

North To The Night, by Alvah Simon: About a dude who winters alone in the arctic darkness on a tiny sailboat. See, he sails up there with his wife and cat (!!!), but she (the wife) has to leave, and he’s left frozen there for months with his boat, with his demons, with polar bears, with the Northern Lights, with the storms, with the crushing cold.

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The Man Who Walked Through Time, by Colin Fletcher: Mom sent me this book, so it’s special. The author walked the entire length of the Grand Canyon in the 60s, all alone, and then wrote about it. Mom read it 30 years ago. Now me. An interesting cycle. Anyway, a quiet, relaxing text with much lovely language describing the hugeness of geologic time, the nature of beauty in the wild, and such: “Beyond shadow that still belonged to the night, a day’s incoming sunlight streamed across the rock reefs. Noon pressed down onto the Esplanade, hotter each day, more ponderously silent. Evening came, and a softer, richer silence.”

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 Jacque Cousteau: The Sea King, by Brad Matsen: “He didn’t particularly care about money as long as he had enough, and his chief financial tactic was simply going out and getting more cash when he ran out.” You see, Cousteau was down for living only in the now—no rehashing things past or backward-looking. “The road to paradise is paradise,” he said, quoting an old Spanish proverb. Anyway, a bit of a womanizer, but a true adventurer, through and through, Cousteau pioneered the modern-day scuba tank by trial and error with sketchy homemade setups. He’s fucking crazy! So much could go wrong!

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The Weekend Report

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Fall and summer crossed paths this weekend on their ways in and out of Oregon. The sun was hot, but the shadows were long and the light inarguably gold.

Went to Hood River to skate but no one had any energy. Ended up on a sandbar in the warm Columbia, wading out to cool off and watching the dogs lunge through shining waves.

Smoke from wildfires turned the sunset hot pink on the way home, and everything felt liminal.

Went to see Dumpster Wizard—an aptly named metal band comprised of our pals—play in a shadowy corner of the Kenton Club, then pit-stopped at The Tannery for a potent drink in a tall thin glass.

Attended Sunday afternoon gathering at the Bracewell residence, skated ’til exhaustion, sent summer off in the best way possible.

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