Category Archives: Sustenance

Favorites 10.9.17

Black hits. When I bought my house 11 years ago, the trim was painted a festive teal. I hired Neil Dacosta and his lass Sara Phillips to paint over it with an understated white—and do classics accents of deep red. Recently, I realized I could—nay, must do something different. And so I went to Home Depot and bought a pint of black to refresh the accents. What I like is the way black isn’t even a color. It doesn’t add anything to the mix—it just emphasizes things, like putting eyeliner on all your windows. Here they are!

Old Country mornings. Townes. Emmy Lou. They are very recommended for breakfast listening on cool-to-cold mornings with fall light coming through the windows (when the NPR membership drive and other horrors of the world have taken the op for soothing news radio off the table).

Harvest moons. Not the Neil Young album of the same name. The real thing—our planet’s satellite. I can never really get over the moon. It’s strange light and mysterious vibrations. What pulls the ocean, pulls us in seen and unseen ways. Or at least that’s what the folk revivalists tell us. Regardless, you can’t not gasp at that big ol’ pumpkin-sized moon hanging over the horizon.

Dove Vivi. Under the influence of cornmeal crust pizza and a glass of red, on maybe the last truly warm night of the year, you can discuss anything. Friends. Work. Blatant gossip. Philosophy. Rock and roll. Television. Death. Birthdays. Future plans and regrets. Etc. At the end, when there are 2 pieces left but 4 people around the table, you cut each piece in half, so that everyone takes home a morsel of the sacred evening.

9.30.1977

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It’s been 40 years since I was born—a little blonde pine cone plopping to earth in Denver, Colorado. Let the record show. It’s been 40 years of fighting and working and feeling.

People have been saying to me kindly, you don’t look 40! Thank you? But, like: What’s wrong with looking 40? I don’t buy into the culture of youth worship. I was an idiot when I was 25. And generally speaking, I do believe people become better with age. In my pursuit of being the realest, most emphatic form of me, I can only feel, look and act exactly my age. I’m me! I go to work. I go to the skatepark. I clean my own house and pay my own mortgage. I run the stairs at Mt. Tabor. I text my mom almost everyday. I drink beer and eat pizza whenever possible. And no matter what’s happened, at a certain hour every night—I migrate toward the couch and watch TV. I used to be energetic and single and very eager to see rock shows. Now I have a house with a mini ramp in the garage and a hubs-to-be. There’s what and who have happened to me in the past life. And there’s me now. Get this—they’re the same thing. Somewhere inside, I’m still 10 freaking years old crouching behind the chokecherry bush about to shoot out the greenhouse window with a bb gun. Accidentally.

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Anyway, Saturday—my birthday—was a big day. A cinnamon roll for breakfast. A driveby on a friend’s yardsale. A hike through the spooky Northwest fog. A dog with a squirrel addiction. A few beers with a few friends and a metric ton of laughs. We’re alive, guys! What a thing.

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Late Summer To-Do List

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1. Keep my garden alive. 90 degrees, for 90 days straight, or it feels like it anyway. If you need me, I’ll be out back watering.

2. Skate backyard mini ramps. This is always on my to-do list. My priorities are forever straight in this department.

3. Tiptoe my way back to reading. My dog ate my book. True story. He ate page 301-333—the last 30 pages. Time for a new story and a fresh start.

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4. Avocados and watermelon. The foods of summer. More of them, please.

5. Eat dinner outside every night until rains. Have dinner conversations with the bees and hummingbirds.

6. Ride my bike to the bar. A luxury of the dry, not-totally-fucking-freezing months.

7. Procure a T shirt dress. A lazy lady’s must-have staple of the Indian Summer.

8. Get a little sunburnt—one last time. Just a little, for old times sake!

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3 Things

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106 Degrees: Last Thursday, the afternoon cranked up to 106 degrees. Due to that—and the wildfire smoke, the day took on a dreamy quality. Ungodly heat, plus red smokey skies and a white-hot sun hanging in the hazy air. After work, we all cruised the Columbia in Josh’s boat. It was cooler out on the water and felt very far away from Portland. The Portland Riviera, maybe? We swam and sunned as the sun dipped, turning the sky all sorts of florescents as it went.

Green sauce at ChickPeaDX: For your falafel—a verdant cilantro elixir with the zing of life. You see, on the sticky eve of day like one million of the disgusting heat, you need zing.

Pup days of summer: Watched over Bhalu the puppy for a day. He brought happiness (and pee!) into the house. It was great. I forced him into my lap where he squirmed and licked everything. He was a little monster. The wild fuzz on his ears looked like metal-band hair, which reminded me of Lefty (RIP) and my eyes got all misty.

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Canada Mega Post

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I’m a healthier, happier person after spending 5 days in interior B.C.—everyday another exploration in the forest, and everyday another constitutional swim in cold, clear water. Those lakes were so clear that my shadow spooked me more than once, way down where it was on the bottom of the lake. Overhead, the sky was very blue, except where it wasn’t because of billowing plumes of smoke. Wildfires are real, and they’re a way of life in Canada.

Up in Canada, where we basked and wandered, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at will. The only hurry was which recreational activity to do next. I’d pester Mark to rush so we could go outside. Because that’s just what you do up there.

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Piney did dog things like play with the Canadian dogs and splash-and-bite the Canadian lakes. In Nelson, he met Pillow, Bree and Kale—a husky, Great Pyrenees and Australian shepherd respectively. In Trout Lake, he ran off into town with Al’s Siberian Husky, Rider, and got a taste of that wild freedom afforded to the country pup. He liked what he tasted … too much. In Revelstoke, he ripped around a beatific farm with Qimmiq, a low-riding Aussie with a whistle-pig squeal. Although Piney will have many more adventures and live happily every after, he still just wishes we left him in Canada.

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Meanwhile, at Kootaney Lake. 

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All the hips in Nelson, B.C. 

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Had lovely hangs with my ol friend Mark Fawcett and his new pup Kale Chip on their private beach. Life is good in Nelson.

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My pal Al Clarke built this baby cabin with his 2 hands. I know him from 20 years ago, back when we were both traveling the world as itinerant snowboarders. He’s a legend and quintessential mountain man. How lucky that we get to hang together again all these years later!

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Typical Trout Lake views.

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Backyard secrets of the North country. 

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Stu’s fabulous farm, where I foraged a handful of black raspberries and plucked 3 delicious pea pods off their vine.

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Revelstoke National Park was stupid beautiful. There was a grizz wandering the area, but we didn’t see him. Only us up there with the wind and wildflowers. 

Favorites 7.18.17

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Driving at sunset. To be out moving through the landscaping at at time of night when you might otherwise be bound—couch-bound, restaurant-bound, bar-bound et cetera. Here, amidst the softy, glowy light, the music sounds better, and hope is renewed.

THIS episode of Snap Judgement. Two first-person tales that I’m still thinking about. Life and death. Star-shaped acid tabs. Ghosts, parachutes and marshmallow skies. Let ’em rip and let me know what ya think.

Tapenade. Bagels. Bowtie pasta. Put it on anything. Have I told you about my love of olives and other briny fruits of the warm, sun-washed lands?

Big West Linn with buds. If you live and skate in Portland, then you know that West Linn park was returned to its almost former glory with some patching and fresh coping. I hadn’t been out there since back in the day, which is to say back when we all skated there a lot because it was new and legendary and there were so few other places, besides. These days, I keep it to skating “small stuff.” However, we went to West Linn on Sunday and I had an amazing time. There on old familiar ground, the memories the and muscle memory returned. I took it easy. Cruised. Pumped walls and peered up at the coping. Thanks world. Thanks skateboarding. You’re just what I need sometimes.

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48 Hours In New York

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I started this weekend by getting on an early flight to JFK. By noon (3 p.m. local time) I was riding through the hot city, all sticky like a glazed donut, on an A train express to the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn—where Matt and Mimi of Cape Cod wedding fame now live with their two dogs who both closely resemble stuffed baby seals.

We were back East for just over 48 hours. A quick trip to Get Out Of Town and help Matt celebrate his birthday. The goal was not tourism, but simply real life. As such, I did not see the Empire State Building or the Statue Of Liberty, just wandered around Brooklyn eating and drinking and skateboarding and soaking in all the general lawlessness and spontaneous joy of that great, old city on a summer weekend.

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Vegetable-arian food. From ramen to cornmeal french toast, I ate a lot of incendiary food while I was there. My favorite, I think, was the oyster mushroom banh mi from Toad Style. I’m always trying to eat those spicy, saucy sandwiches, but I’ve only ever seen them made with tofu, and I don’t really care about tofu—don’t hate it and don’t love it, but generally find it hard to digest. In other words, tofu doesn’t close the deal for me. Mushrooms though!

A shot and a beer. Nowhere else on the planet do I find myself ordering a shot and a beer when I walk into a bar. But in New York, that’s how they do it. Not only is it the cheapest way to consume alcohol in an expensive city, it’s a super easy way to get on a vacation tilt-awhirl. Weeeeeee!

Skatepark tourism. We did a wee skatepark tour through Brooklyn. There’s loads of new ones. I had fun at each one—if not skating, then people watching. From scene to style, New York is super different from Portland, almost the opposite, you could say. I dig watching and observing that stuff, from a sociological standpoint. Also, I dig fun. Coincidentally, that’s what skateboarding is.

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3 Things

I Am Not Your Negro. Watch this movie. Show it to your kids. Heck, show it to your pets. Yes, it’s that important. I am in awe of James Baldwin as a thinker. What an amazing mind. And when you get to realizing, as he suggests, that the whole of Western Civilization was built (thru colonization/slavery/warfare) on a model of white power that we’re still living in, it’s like, what the F do we do now?!

Artichoke heart wings. Procured a plate of these from Century Bar the other night. Of all the things that you could deep fry and dip in a sauce instead of chicken wings, I’m gonna argue here that artichoke hearts are among the best. Full of tang/flavor, and yet light and easy on the stomach in their way. A triumph for vegetable-arians everywhere!

Recovery. After our life-giving “winter ordeal,” we spent all of last week recovering. Their were sneezing fits and other symptoms of the common cold. And there was absolutely no energy to be had anywhere until Friday or so. Earlier in the week, from the moment I got up, it was a stone-cold countdown until I could come home and sit on the couch. Also, Piney got fixed and snoozed off his surgery meds with the rest of the laid-out household.

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Overnight On The Mountain

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Dark was the morning we loaded the car and drove south through Eugene, through Oakridge, and up the side of Warner Mountain until we reached the deep snow. Ten miles of freshly powdered road separated us from the Warner Mtn. Fire Lookout, a cozy cabin atop stilts atop a ridge with 360 views of the Cascade Range. We strapped into our split boards and swished off into oblivion.

Fast forward through 8 hours of rugged uphill ascent, and we were still on that trail. It was pitch dark. The storm raged. Mark was slurring his speech, suffering from severe exhaustion. In the light from my headlamp, the tracks of the people who’d skied out earlier that day were buried, wiped from existence by snow and wind. This blizzard of March 5th, it wasn’t half hearted—but brave and full of force.

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It’s a funny thing, memory. Already what happened is all jumbled up in my mind. I remember a moment when I realized something was wrong with Mark. It’s really hard to see someone who’s always very strong, always taking care of you, suddenly need help. It hit me over the head—it was time to stop, stop motivating, stop rallying. We had to go into survival mode, which meant digging some form of shelter and staying put. And—not kidding—calling 911. Yep, only 1.5 miles from our cozy cabin destination, we were immobilized by exhaustion, by darkness, and by the storm.

We shimmied into the area under a tree well, threw down a sleeping bag, sat down, and then put another sleeping bag over us. This is making it sound warmer than it was. We were soaked to the core from sweating and from the storm. We were very, very cold. Cold is an understatement. Drifting in and out of consciousness, we shivered violently from 8 pm until 4 a.m., when, thinking I was hallucinating, I saw the lights from the Search And Rescue snow cat.

What we did wrong. 

We had too much stuff. Just because you’re going to a cabin, doesn’t mean you need to bring your 700 page book. If I did again, I’d go so much lighter, so much leaner.

We brought a 4 month old puppy. Sure, he’s part Malamute. But he’s a freaking baby. We were prepared for him not making the whole trek—we just weren’t prepared for the extra strain pulling a 30+ pound pup in a sled would put on Mark.

We didn’t eat. We had plenty of food, but not super accessible trail snacks to keep us super fueled up. We were prob burning thousands of calories, but we kept thinking, we gotta just GET THERE! Turns out, taking care of yourself is more important than anything.

We didn’t turn back when we maybe thought we should. My new mantra—it’s okay to quit!

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What went wrong. 

There was (way) more snow than expected. The park ranger had told us the trail would be packed by snowmobiles, but instead, we were skinning through feet of fresh. This was a game changer.

The GPS made us look closer than we were to the destination. There was a tragic moment just before dark when we made a final push, thinking we were 2 miles away, and then saw a road sign that read, “Warner Mountain Lookout, 3.7 miles.” FLlksjdfla;jksdbuasdfja;sjkdgjl;dajsg!!!!!!!

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How we got so fucking lucky.

-Like a ghost, 1 bar of LTE service shivered in and out of my phone. Just enough to get some calls off to 911 and text my mom our location.

-The sheriff’s department was able to get a snow cat sent up from Roseberg. It was hours away. It took, literally, all night—but the cat was everything. It got us out of there in 25 minutes flat. All hail volunteer Search and Rescue crews, everywhere!

Adventures In Meditation

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Until late December, I’d never meditated. I’d been a longtime supporter of mediative THINGS—walking, gardening, cooking. But, let’s be clear, meditative is not meditating.

Meditation is really hard! Have you tried it? Do you agree? It forces you to reckon with your total mess of a brain. As a child of the 80s, I went to swimming lessons and piano class—but no one ever taught me how to control my thoughts and emotions. This is a thing. A skill you can hone through hours and days and weeks of, just, sitting and focusing. Who would’ve thought, as you get older, that the secret to life is not in adding things—knowledge, skills, experience, friends—but rather in taking things away, stripping down existence to its very simplest form.

Anyway, I’m terrible at it. Like a tot with training wheels, I’m doing guided meditations that I’ve downloaded to my phone. My favorite  is the one where you simply sit and focus on the space between your thoughts. The SPACE! It’s expansive. On good days, I can rise right up into it. Eventually, perhaps when I’m all gray, perhaps when I’m living atop a Tibetan peak, I’ll be able to turn my mind on and off at will. Mind control. How cool.

Anyway, daily meditation is not glamorous. It’s another thing on the to-do list. Plus my knees always hurt after I sit there for a while. Still, the work is important—as necessary as eating and sleeping. And later, when the stress runs high and the world roils, I’ve got a surefire way to dial it all down.