Sunday, September 30, 2007

More pet prozac

Saturday we headed over to the Little Red Bike cafe grand opening party, which by all appearances and accounts was a whopping success. I'm sure the excellence of the meatloaf and the "meat"loaf sandwiches had something to do with it.

In the afternoon, we headed up to Vancouver where my friend Denise keeps her horses. Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I still had a mom and I owned my own car, I used to head down to her house in Gladstone every Thursday night for riding lessons. I'd trot around the indoor ring on while she yelled at me (in a nice way) to keep my toes in, squeeze with my thighs and remember to post while trotting.

I hadn't seen her in a while, but she came to our house warming party and the subject of a ride came up. So we finally worked out the scheduling and that is how we found ourselves at the Clark County fairgrounds on a cloudy Saturday afternoon.

Denise has two horses of her own and her friend Lynn has one that's also stabled in the same barn. I was slated to ride Lynn's horse, Peanut, a sweet and people-loving soul who lived to please. Jess was given a horse named Handsome who lived up to his name, but who's reputation for obedience was suspect.

We got them all brushed and saddled and set off on a trail that started at the end of one of the pastures. The woods were gorgeous and quiet and you would never know there was a city just 20 miles away. It was awesome.

We were warned that Peanut and Handsome didn't really get along so I brought up the rear and made sure not to get too close. That wasn't really a problem because Peanut was the slowest walker ever. I didn't mind that though, because it meant every so often, he or I would decide it was time to trot to catch up with the others. Since I still not-so-secretly want to be a jockey, the faster I can go, the better--at least in theory.

Meanwhile, up in front, things were heating up. Handsome spent most of his time biting Ryo's butt or trying to get ahead of him. Jess was having quite a time trying to control him and not having much success. Denise assured her that he didn't listen to her either. Maybe that was why she kept turning me down when I offered to switch horses. Not that I would have had any better luck, but at least I had a little experience with horses, while Jess had almost zero. But she toughed it out, which I totally admired.

I got invited to move to the front of the line and Peanut, liking it much better up there, walked a bit faster. We were also free to trot whenever we wanted and even managed a couple of gallops here and there. We were having a grand time.

Unfortunately, behind us, Handsome was getting more bullheaded by the moment. When we got near the end of the trail and onto the wide straight road that lead back to the barn, I decided to gallop in. That got Handsome really worked up and he up and ran off with Jess, galloping down the road with her sawing the reigns and shouting "Whoa!" She finally got him stopped and I stayed put behind them so as not to give Handsome any more ideas. I waited till they reached the gate and then galloped the rest of the way in, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"Can we do that again before I get down?" I asked Denise.


So we trotted off again to the end of the road and this time came back at a faster gallop. I'm used to going 35 mph downhill on my bike but this was totally different. My bike bounces less and doesn't have it's own brain. Watching the ground go by while bumping along is a totally different thrill. Slightly scary but in a good way.

I really mustn't let so much time go by before I do that again. And perhaps I won't have to. Denise told me that she and a friend of hers have gotten into three team penning and she invited me out to watch this week and if I get into it, maybe I'll go out on a regular basis, help warm up the horses and see where it goes from there.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pet Therapy

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. There wasn't much that could bring me out of my Friday funk outside of ressurrection, but Choco the wonder puppy gave it her best shot. And it's pretty impossible not to melt at the cuteness. It was just what the nurse ordered. Thanks to Carmen for letting us horn in on her dog-sitting gig.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Grief 1, Me 0

OK, so I'm not really fine.

My mom has been dead for five months, two weeks and two days. If there's one constant thread in the things people tell me about this journey, it's that there is no time line for when my brain might successfully process the knowledge that I'll never get to see her again. E.V.E.R. Or when I will stop having the ocassional crushing grief spell, crying so hard my head hurts and I can barely breath. I've been trying to think of a good analogy for what it feels like. I know there's know way I could've understood what it was like before. The nearest I can come is, imagine if someone put your hand to a hot burner--and held it there. And your skin is burning up and turning black and peeling off, and all you want in life is to lift your hand up and get some relief...but someone or something is just holding it down. It's sort of like that, only instead of a burning sensation, I just feel like my heart might break right in half from missing her so much.

I'm not trying to be melodramatic. It really does suck that bad. Only much worse.

They say time heals all wounds and I'm sure I'll feel better eventually. But it's going to take longer than five months, two weeks and two days.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Working Girl

I went to work today, a fact that made Jess very happy as she crowed last night about how I had to get up early while she curled into a tighter ball in bed and resumed sleeping.

I can't really blame her, since her job has been particularly frustrating and the latest news has her stuck there until the end of October. I'll have my hands full trying to keep her cranky level down. I'm having to pull out all the stops. I'm about this far from sending out a desperate request for jokes to help me out.

But I digress. My job wasn't a high paying glamorous modeling gig this time, but it turned out to be equally, if not more fun. A printing company near my house had a big job and needed people to help collate. The ultimate in boring. But Carmen is a poor student now too, so I forwarded the info to her and when I walked in, there she was already counting away at a table. I got set up across from her and we spent the day chatting and counting with lunch at LRBC thrown in for good measure. It was a little difficult at first, but after we switched to piles of four, five or six, it got much easier.

After work I went straight home and talked Jess into coming to LRBC for a salted caramel milkshake that was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be and then we went to University Park to play catch with the softball, throw the frisbee around and generally enjoy the sun before it leaves. We're at the time now where each sunny day could be our last.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

First day of school

I set my alarm for 8:00 this morning but my wake up call came at 7:45. I really must remember to turn off my phone at night. Of course, that didn't keep me from running late as usual. I decided to ride to campus but missed the shuttle that goes directly out to Sylvania so I ended up on the bus instead.

I have two classes on campus this term, Java programming and Data Communication Concepts. First impressions of the teacher's are good. They both seem engaged and like they enjoy teaching--a definite improvement over last year.

More and more I'm reminded of the fact that I'm delving into a pretty male-dominated field. But I didn't think the domination would come in the particular form I encountered today. I'm talking about smelly boys. Yup, I was olfactorily assaulted, shortly after arriving at my first class of the day. I was already logged into my work station and had several programs open, so I was trapped. At first I thought he was a smoker, but then I realized it was either lack of showering or laundry or both. And my nose is my worst sense, so I had to assume that if I noticed it, the problem was pretty severe.

I escaped to my next class, only to have the smell repeated. I was sitting between two guys this time and couldn't pin down the culprit. But from now on, I think I'll sit in the back.

Other than that, I'm feeling much better about being able to handle my classes this term. I suppose not having a dying mother to take care of will make it easier to focus on classes. But just writing that makes me want to go have a good cry. Have I mentioned how much CANCER SUCKS??? Oh, I guess I did. Well, it can't be repeated too often if you ask me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Great Cake Caper

Trust is very important in a relationship for many reasons but one important one is so that, when you need to lie and sneak around, you have some credibility to fall back on.

For her birthday this past weekend, Jess decided on a bunch of low key, relaxing activities including breakfast with friends, the Mt Hood scenic railroad and a trip to the Bodyworlds 3 exhibit at OMSI. But I really felt like there should be at least ONE birthday surprise. I'd already given her her present (Ipod Nano, old school style) so that was out. Sure I'd get a card, but really she'd expect that.

So, at sort of the last minute, I decided I would try to make the cake entirely behind her back and present it at an unexpected moment. She'd already told me that she wanted a vegan chocolate cake but couldn't decide between the cream cheese or the chocolate frosting. I was hedging about making it because of the 'less sweets in the house' rule that got instituted this summer so as the weekend went on (her birthday was Sunday), if she asked about it, I had legitimate grounds to string her along.

Although I'm pretty pleased with how it all came off, I have to admit that if I'd been really smart, I would have thought of all this earlier in the week, when she was still working twelve hour shifts and I had plenty of time to plot. What was I doing with all that time? I don't even remember. But procrastination is in my blood.

Seeing as we were spending the whole weekend together, I had limited opportunities with which to pull this off. The first thing I needed were accomplices. I emailed Ali & Evan at the Red Bike where we would be eating Sunday morning and asked if they'd be willing to hide the cake and bring it out at the appropriate time on Sunday. Of course they said yes.

Next there was ingredient & card shopping to do. On Thursday, Jess went off to her dentist appointment. As soon as she left I tore out of the house. I had to go all the way across town to get our Bodyworlds tickets from OMSI. Then a stop at New Seasons for Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese--the kind with no partially hydrogenated oils (PHO), 'cause those are bad for you--and organic vanilla. Then off to Fred Meyers for a cake pan and cooling rack. Time would be of the essence. I also found a few appropriate birthday cards, so I bought them all.

By the time I got home, time was running short. I hid the new kitchen tools in the garage and the margarine (Earth Balance, also with no PHO) and the fake cream cheese in a brown paper bag and stuck in the drawer where the mushrooms usually go. She hates mushrooms so there was little chance of her looking in the bag. The rest of the supplies got hidden in the cupboard.

I had originally planned to mix all the dry ingredients too, to make prep time faster the next day but I was worried about running out of time. I sent her a text message asking,"What's your status?" but didn't get an answer back right away. That probably meant she was still in the chair, but the last thing I wanted was to get caught with a bunch of flour on my face. Still, life is risk. I went for it. I stirred up all the flour, sugar, cocoa and other dry ingredients and then transferred them to a freezer bag. That ended up being a pretty messy process but I got it done and hidden in the cupboard. Then I had to clean absolutely everything, dry and put away the dishes and wipe the counters really well.

A text message finally came in that said, "Almost home," but by then I was in the clear.

Now my only worry was that I hadn't been able to find a cake serving pan at Freddy's and I had no more time allotted to get one. I didn't know how I was going to transport the cake with no serving platter, but I couldn't worry about it then.

We spent the rest of the day visiting our friend Jess out in Beaverton. We came back to town around 5:00 and decided to see if the bike through window at LRBC was still open for ice cream. I really wanted to try the chocolate pudding flavor.

Ali & Even were still working away, but they had just served up the last scoop of chocolate pudding ice cream. I was disappointed, but instantly saw a way to use the situation. I faked a lot more disappointment than I really felt and vowed to go out later that evening in search of some chocolate that I wouldn't bring home (since that's against the rules now).

Instead of searching out chocolate though, I went straight to the St John's Fred Meyer and found a cake serving platter. Now I had everything I needed.

The next day I had scheduled us both for massages with our friend Davina. This was another piece of great luck, since I called at the last minute (in my blood, in case you weren't paying attention...), but she still had two slots open at 12:30 and 2:00pm. Perfect.

I told Jess she should ride her bike to her massage and I would pick her up in the car when I came to my appointment. This meant that she would have to leave the house earlier and I would have more time for baking.

Again as soon as she left, I sprung into action. Grabbed the cake server from the trunk of my car, preheated the oven and got moving. In 10 minutes, I had the two 9 inch rounds of batter in the oven. While they baked, I made two batches of frosting, one chocolate and one 'cream cheese.'

The cooling was really the nerve wracking part of the process. I only had about an hour and a half to get this whole operation done. As a result, I tried taking the first cake out of the pan a bit early, with predictable results. A big patch stayed in the pan, the rest practically broke in half and a big chunk fell off the side. It was a total mess. I managed to finish the transfer with some wax paper and left it alone to cool some more. As soon as I could I transferred it to the cake platter and basically molded it back together. I figured a little frosting would hide everything.

Fortunately, the top half came out of the pan much more willingly. At that point I put them both in the fridge and freezer for 10 more minutes, then took them out and frosted them. It looked good enough.

Once again I covered my tracks as best I could. I had bought extra ingredients of things we already had like oil and powdered sugar so that no unusual depletions would be noticed. I washed and dried the cake pans and cooling platter and hid them back in the garage. I had the windows open and the fan going to dissipate the chocolate smell. Jess would wait at the Alberta tea house while I was getting my massage so I figured the smell would be gone by the time we got home but I also have a terrible nose, so I wouldn't really know if I'd gotten away with it when we got home. I'd just have to see if she said anything about a smell. I didn't have an apron but I'd worn a brown shirt, so any cocoa that got on me would blend in.

Transport was a bit tricky because the only platter I could get was one with a skinny round base with the platter up high. It meant there was a high potential for the cake to fall over in the car and I had no one to hold it. I pulled the car out of the slanted driveway and onto the flat street, put the cake on the passenger side floor and then drove the mile to LRBC at 3-5 mph with my hand steadying the platter. Nerve-wracking doesn't begin to cover it.

When I got there it was 1:40. I handed off the cake to Ali, ran back to the car for the candles and took off for Davina's office. Seems I'm always running late with her for one reason or another. But at least I'd done it. When Jess asked why I was late to the appointment (supposedly I'd been on the couch reading), I said I'd forgotten my wallet, a common enough occurrence. She didn't suspect a thing.

When we got home, she didn't mention anything about smelling chocolate either. At that point I finally relaxed.

And sure enough, when Ali came out with a burning cake after breakfast on Sunday, her face showed she was totally surprised and all the scrambling was worth it.

I love it when a sneaky, diabolical plan comes together.

Birthday Cake

So close, yet so far

Playing second

We only lost tonight's softball game by 2 points, which makes it our best game yet. There was a lot of excitement. Jess was working but my friend Erica came out to be my substitute good luck and she did a great job. I've decided that second base is definitely my favorite position. It's far enough away from the batter that you probably won't lose your teeth but still in the thick of the action. I scooped two grounders, almost made a double play and held onto a pass for an out even though I got hit by the runner.

And speaking of second time at bat, I hit a fairly weak grounder over by third, but as always, I ran like hell for first base. I got there the same time as the ball, but unfortunately there was a confrontation involving my left thigh and the first baseman's knee. Muscle loses over bone, every time. I went flying and rolled and before I even hit the ground, he was yelling out, "She touched, she touched!"

There are two bases at first, a white one on the inside and a red one on the outside. If you're going to run through, you hit the red bag. If you're going to second, you hit the white one and keep running. So he was saying that I touched the white bag and the ref called me out. In actuality, I touched the red bag with my right foot and hit his knee as my other leg came through. He should've left more room.

But I wasn't really thinking about all that as I lay in the dirt with my leg throbbing. Lots of team mates came out and tried to help me up, but I refused until the pain died down to something I thought I might not scream through when I stood up. I took my bogus out like a good sport and when it was time to go out into the field, I sucked it up and took my position, over concerned protest from my team mates. "What's your pain level?" they wanted to know. When I said "five," they thought that was too high. But with a little favoring, I did OK.

To their credit, just about every runner that came through my base asked after my leg. It got a little old but they were just being sweet. Several of them offered as how they thought I was safe as well, which was gratifying.

Unfortunately the game went downhill from there and we gave up a lot of runs and gave them an 11-8 lead, of which we were only able to make up two runs before time ran out.

Still, I feel like I definitely suck less every game and I got a lot of compliments for my hustle. If I could just get some power in my batting, I'd be in good shape. I think I will play again next summer, where I won't have to deal with the stupid Fall ball rules of starting at bat with one out and one strike already.

Meme Rant

I got tagged by Dan forever ago for the "5/5" so I'll incorporate it into today's rant:

1. Name your area of expertise/interest

2. How did you become interested in it?

3. How did you learn how to do it?

4. Who has been your biggest influence?

5. What would you teach people about it?

Two biggest risk factors: Family history and smoking. It's not rocket science!

Survival rates for colorectal cancer go from 10% to over 90% when the cancer is found and treated at it's early stage.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Birthday Weekend

Sunday is Jess's birthday and she's taken the weekend off and lined up a bevy of birthday activities of her choice, along with one surprise from me. Yesterday we (mostly her) cleaned the house and finished up most of our new fence.

Now that the fence is up, we tried letting Idge out for some supervised yard time, while we enjoyed dinner in our new private yard. She's 15 years old, very well behaved as long as food isn't involved and far too lazy to scale the 6 foot fence. Not surprisingly, the first thing she did was start eating grass, which we knew would make a reappearance, mostly likely on the carpet (it did).

Today I sprung for massages for both of us, after which we tea at Alberta St Teahouse. I used to spend hours there studying, as it's usually a pretty mellow atmosphere but today the tea was over-brewed, the wifi signal problematic and there were lots of noisy kids around. We left and Jess decided on a movie and some frozen custard for our date night. We've been wanting to see Ratatouille for a while so we suffered the Lloyd Mall theatre, arriving late to miss the commercials.

I really enjoyed the movie, though it wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as I expected based on reviews from friends. But it was a good story with amazing animation work.

Afterwards, we went all the way to land of strip malls (Vancouver), in search of local frozen custard just like Jess used to have in her home town of Wisconsin. She's been missing it for quite some time. She thought she'd found a place in Lake Oswego but when we went there a couple of months ago, they had closed. This place was not only open, but stays open till 11:00pm on the weekends and was doing brisk window and drive-through business when we arrived just after 9:00.

The menu board was overwhelming and I was having a hard time motivating in the chill of the evening. I asked Jess if she wanted to share and she gave me a rare firm answer: No. She knew exactly what she wanted and from the sound of it, I'd be lucky ot get a bite of it, much less half. I was on my own. In the end, I went freestyle and got a sundae with oreos, hot fudge and whip cream.

You know what's worse than forgetting your camera? *Thinking* you forgot your camera when you actually have it! I think I mentioned that I'm having a dumb streak right now. So I can't show you a picture of the epic tower of whip cream that topped my sundae. It took a while just to dig through to the fudge-oreo goodness, but my effort was well rewarded. It was my perfect ice cream, already soft. Jess pronounced the texture good, but the flavor slightly lacking her girlhood memories of custard.

I gave it my best effort, but the density of custard isn't for the wimpy and I couldn't quite finish it. Besides, I could feel a month of my life-span disappearing as I ate. It was really good, but I wouldn't want to have it too often. It's probably a good thing that A) summer is pretty much over, weather wise and B) the custard is 13 miles from our house.

Now we're back home with our laptops, novels, tea and kitty antics to amuse us.

Tomorrow: A scenic train tour around Mt Hood.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tomato Basil Quiche

I haven't posted a food picture in days, so here's last night's dinner. A nice little dish that whips up in an hour or so. 30 minutes prep, 30 minutes cooking.

Tomato Basil Quiche
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dried basil
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
1-1/2 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, divided

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake pie shell in preheated oven for 8 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion until soft; remove from skillet. Sprinkle tomato slices with flour and basil, then sauté 1 minute on each side. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. season with salt and pepper. 3. Spread 1 cup shredded cheese in the bottom of pie crust. Layer onions over cheese, and top with tomatoes. Cover with egg mixture. sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese. 4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until filling is puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.

Model Citizen


A few weeks ago I got an email from the president of my cycling club that Getty Images needed some cyclists for a photo shoot. But the part that jumped out at me was $500/day. The email came in at 9:02pm and at 9:03, I was dialing the phone to leave a message for the Matt, the producer.

He called me back the next day, I sent him some of my best action shots (thanks Jonathan!) and a head shot and a few days later, he called and invited me to come and play.

The wardrobe director called me next to find out what I had. "Just bring everything," she said, so that's what I did. The night before the shoot, I polished my bike and packed a suitcase with every piece of bike gear I owned, and a few borrowed items from Jess.

My call time was 10:30. It was overcast and none too warm, but at least not raining. I pulled up to the Historic Bybee house on Sauvie Island which was serving as base camp for the day. Matt greeted me and told me where to park.

Holly, the wardrobe woman, came over to check out my clothes. The only thing I have that looks remotely racer-like is my Sorella kit, but Holly latched onto my bright orange Team Shift jersey, probably to combat the gray of the day. I wasn't there to argue, so I got dressed and started stripping my bike. Heidi, the art director decided against aero bars so I took those off as well.

As I was doing that, a woman came up and introduced herself as Nicola. "When you're done, come on over by the food and I want to do a little hair and make-up," she said.

I couldn't imagine what she was going to do with my hair but I showed up at her makeshift work shop and had a seat on the edge of an open van while she rubbed cream on my face, sprayed me a few times, put on eye make-up and finally, rubbed a combination of sweet almond and coconut oil on my arms and legs. "So, what did you have in mind for my hair?" I asked, while she worked.

She didn't bat an eye. "Well for today I was thinking something really simple...kind of like you have it now."

"Sounds good," I said, face totally straight.

"You probably brought all your curling irons and things with you eh?"

"Yup, absolutely."

Despite being on a tight schedule with a lot to get done, I found that the whole crew was pleasant with a good sense of humor, which made the day a breeze.

When Nicola was done, Holly came back over. "Would you mind if I borrowed a pair of your gloves?" They were for Gordon, who had pulled up next to me while I was working on my bike. There were five of us all together. Four of us were cyclists. Gordon was the model sent from the agency. You would think this would mean he was the most prepared and professional but he hadn't followed Holly's instructions and had left his gloves at home. His hands were huge. I was a little skeptical but I dug out my Gel Vent gloves that were stretched out and practically falling apart but looked OK from the outside. Amazingly, they fit him. He also had to borrow a tool to take off his aero bars. Holly came over and whispered to me, "Thank you for bringing *everything* like I asked you to," as if to never follow instructions!

Then there was a lot of waiting around. I've done enough acting and been on enough movie sets that I wasn't surprised. The photographer was out scouting the best location to get the most perfect shots and in the meantime, I warmed up by riding back and forth on the main road. After that I chatted with the other models and ate chips. I was a little cold standing around in shorts and a short sleeve jersey but I calculated that each goose bump was worth $1 and magically felt warmer.

Finally, we got the word to go. We got on our bikes and followed Holly and Nicola in the van. Except they forgot we were behind them and, though Adnan and Damien are very fast racers, not even they could quite do 45 mph. We found the van pulled over after a turn off, and then they raced off again. After about two miles we reached a turn in the road with a gorgeous open field back drop that even the oppressive cloud cover couldn't spoil.

Flaggers were in place on either side to stop traffic for three minutes at a time while we rode back and forth. At the pop of the flash, we all turned around and did again. Single file, double file, random order, faster, slower, "try to make the turn look more exaggerated."

Between runs we waited in the gravel by the side of the road and tried to amuse ourselves cracking jokes.

"This is so much easier than my last shoot for Maxim" I said, cracking up the boys. "Quiet, I'm trying to get into character!" From Damian. Adnan started a track stand and I foolishly tried to copy him, which lasted less than a minute. Mine, not his. He told us of track stand contests he'd been in which lasted over an hour.

I teased Adnan about his computer which was huge. Was it the cyclist version of a pick up truck? "You get Google & Showtime on that thing?" I asked him. I noticed he was shivering much more than the rest of us even though the sun was coming out. At lunch time I found out that he is on a month-long fast. He doesn't eat from dawn to dusk. No calories, no heat. For once I wasn't the coldest person in a group. Actually, I was surprised how well I was holding up. I usually lean towards over dressing for any outdoor occasion.

When we went for our next pass, Thomas, the photographer, was laying across the road. "You want us to bunny hop him?" I asked. Someone had to explain to the camera crew what that meant. The next few shots were painfully slow passes between Thomas and the edge of the road, and he snapped close ups. I was glad I'd cleaned my bike. The boys didn't. "They wanted realism," was Damien's defense. We went through in various groups of two and three. I tried to flex my calves, but I was already having inadequacy issues from riding behind Patti, who has amazing calves. Damien complained that Gordon stopped pedaling and coasted through the shots, causing the line up to be off. Showing his model roots again.

After the road shooting was done, Thomas set up all his umbrellas in the field and then had us out there lined up and posing like we were carrying our bikes cyclocross style. Damian gave us a few cross tips while we waited to be called in, which I found interesting but I don't think I'll be racing cross anytime soon. I'm still not sure where my new mountain bike is going to go in our tiny garage.

After the group shots, Gordon got the spotlight to do some macho poses holding his bike overhead in various ways and showing off his model street cred. He did get into character really fast when Heidi threw a scenario at him--and he was very good at running in slow motion, even while loaded down with his bike. Damien offered to 'frolick' by with his bike. I think he was surprised when Heidi took him up on it. It was clear that he wasn't normaly a 'frolicking' sort, but he gave it a college try.

After that we wrapped for lunch, which was great because though I'd been ultra prepared with clothing, I'd neglected to bring a single snack with me. Back at the trailer there was a whole table of sandwiches with veggie trays (snap peas!), fruit, cookies etc. We watched the last of the lifestyle shoot going on directly behind the Bybee house. There was laundry and a barefoot little girl involved and that's all I could really figure out.

Holly came over and told us we'd need to change for the next round of shooting. "I might have you try on the Specialized outfit," she said to Patti. "Doh!" I couldn't help expressing my disappointment. I'd seen that kit on the rack in the morning and coveted it madly. She took pity on me and brought it over for me to try on. It fit perfectly and looked fabulous. I figured there was a good chance that if we used them, we might get to keep our outfits.

The boys got gussied up in River City Cross Crusade kits and spent two and a half hours riding around the island behind the camera car, simulating a race, while we sat in our cars and read or napped. When they got back, they were so stinky that Holly eventually foisted the shirts on them and said, "keep them!" After she confirmed that no, we don't wear underwear underneath cycling shorts, there wasn't even a discussion about taking the shorts back.

No such luck for the women. We'd done nothing but sit around for two hours and now there wasn't time to do anymore with us because they had to get started with the runners. They were only going to do portraits anyway, so the outfits wouldn't have mattered. I was totally bummed! I wanted to get in on the action and I really wanted that riding kit. But, I decided to be happy with my $500, which after all, will pay for half my new mountain bike. :)

The pictures will go up on the Getty site sometime in the next two months.

Holly *strongly* suggested that Patti and I sign up with Sports Unlimited, the sports model company that sent Gordon. She said they don't have many cyclists, especially women, which is why they had to hit up every team and coach in the city to find people. I promptly submitted an application. Who knows, maybe some mountain bike money will come of it.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

4 Things you may not know about me

When in doubt, meme:

Four jobs I have had in my life:

Caretaker for a disabled person
Making jump ropes
Painting fire hydrants
Delivering balloons

Four movies I've watched more than once:

Terminator 2
Fried Green Tomatoes
Truth or Dare

Four places I have lived:

NE Portland
SE Portland
N Portland
Vallejo, CA

Four T.V. Shows that I watch:

Gray's Anatomy
Battlestar Galactica

Four favorite past time activities:


Four places I have been:

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Vancouver B.C.
Washington D.C.
Wallace, ID

People who e-mail me (regularly):

Bank of America

Oh said *people.* Well I sure would love to hear from more of you more often!

Jenny Levison

Four of my favorite foods:

Pasta w/ fresh Pesto sauce
Lemon cake w/ cream cheese frosting
Vegan Chocolate cake

Four places I would rather be right now:

N/A (I'm home with my honey, don't get much better)

Four friends I think will respond:

::crickets chirp::

Four things I am looking forward to this year:

The year being over
Jess's new job (IV Nursing @ Emmanuel)
My new Macbook

Tag, you're it:

Anyone fellow blogger who reads this. Leave a comment/link to your blog.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Losing Streak

No, I'm not talking about last night's softball game, though we did lose--again, bringing us to perfect 3 loss record. I'm referring to the much more distressing fact that I left my mitt at the batting cages. That mitt was far more expensive that I had any right to spend on something I'll only use for 6 weeks. I'll probably have to join a team next summer to justify it. But more importantly, it seems to have started one of those unfortunate periods of absentminded carelessness that leads to losing important items...such as my keys.

Yup, I lost my keys today. Somewhere between the Verizon Wireless store and Cacao Drink Chocolate is a small ring with two bike keys and two house keys. Perhaps languishing in a gutter, or smashed beyond recognition by a passing car. The good news? I didn't lose them *before* unlocking my bike and they are all quite replaceable. In fact, given a choice between replacing the mitt or the keys, the keys are the clear winner. Hopefully the manager of the batting cages will be more accessible tomorrow so I can find out if they recovered my mitt and get it back before next week's game...

I'm going to need to be extra careful for the next week or so.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

We're not alone

Today was packed full of activities and socializing. I got up early and headed down to River City Bikes to lead the women's ride as part of my volunteer duties for Sorella Forte. The nice thing about leading is not having to wonder where the ride will go and also being able to plan a nice lazy route with basically no hills. We spun our way through north Portland, along Marine Drive, around to St Johns and back to the shop via Willamette Blvd and Greeley for free espresso.

I was hoping to find replacement pads for my aero bars at the shop but they were out. Fortunately downtown Bike Gallery had some, so I jetted across the bridge before heading home. The odometer was close to forty miles by the time I pulled up to the house.

There was just time for a quick shower and then it was off to meet Maureen at LRBC. Luring new people there gives me an excuse to loiter even more than I normally would which is great for my tummy and not so great for my wallet. But the food is just sooooooo good and today Ali's mom was helping out by putting her foot into some biscuits and gravy (meat or veggie style). I can't have my own mom's cooking anymore, but Madeline's will do nicely for not-so-sloppy seconds.

While we were there, we met Deanne and Jonathan, weekend regulars (three weeks and they already have regulars!). Jonathan had a Dell laptop and Deanne had a Macbook, which caused Ali to inquire about how their relationship worked out, having different operating systems and all. Turned out J was running Linux, which upped his cool factor considerably. Deanne had chosen her Mac for work-related compatibility. I assured Ali from my own experience that bi-OS relationships can in fact work very well, as Jess and I can attest.

I had noticed the matching yellow helmets behind their laptops when I walked in, but I didn't really think much about it until I walked out of the shop and saw this:

I practically ran back inside to their table. "You guys have matching bikes! You're bike dorks!" They grinned sheepishly and I explained that they are the first couple I've seen sporting the dork matching bike style. I left the shop shortly after, but ended up calling to get their email address before they left so I could send them pictures. I felt like I'd found our people. Maybe we can all go on the Twin Ride for next year's Pedalpalooza.

Later on I met up with a couple of friends for the revival of the WBP. That's the Weird Black People. It's the closest I've gotten to 'fitting in' somewhere. Yes, we're still black but we just don't do things quite like the others. For instance, you might find us camping, cycling, swimming..all things you won't find the "normal" black folks least in our neck of the woods. When's the last time you saw black woman doing Cycle Oregon? Yeah, I thought so.

We hung out and caught up for a couple of hours at the Nutshell vegan restaurant, the newest G-spot in north Portland. That's gentrification, get your mind out of the gutter! I really wanted to finish the evening by heading to Live Wire to see Storm Large perform, but alas, my tummy, which was still full from the biscuits and gravy, decided that I should really go home and sit still.

Besides, I have to get up for work tomorrow--managing the rest stop for the Bike to the Future ride put on my the good folks at Good Sports Promotions. The mountain bike fund is looking better and better.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Food Porn & Good News

I barely got this picture in time. Trying to take pictures of LRBC food is kind of like trying to take a picture of your crack before you smoke it. I think this half of the sandwich amply represents the goodness: Applewood Smoked turkey breast w/ gruyere, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cranberry jam & avocado aioli on ciabatta.

I brought Jess here today so we could have a comforting and supportive atmosphere in which to tackle and daunting chore: our finances. We both have the same program to keep track of our spending but you still have to log in and assign your transactions to categories so you know where your money went. Neither of us have done this for the past mumble mumble months.

We're also celebrating our new employment status! Jess just got a job offer to do IV nursing at Emmanuel hospital and I got a modeling gig with Getty Images. Sure it's only one day, but they're paying me $500 smackers--roughly $100 an hour. Maybe I should reconsider this school thing and change careers...

Nah. I might have to give up treats like these:

Sweet Cream Marionberry Swirl & Roasted Brown-Sugar Banana and Sweet Cream

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Since I moved to Nopo, I haven't really had a good place to loiter. In my first two terms of school last year, I practically lived at the Alberta Street Tea house, spending up to six hours a day doing homework, drinking tea and visiting the loo. It helped that they were close to my old house and open till 10pm.

Since moving, pickings have been slim and unsatisfactory for various reasons, which is why I was so excited when Little Red Bike opened up.

Yesterday I remembered that my good friend C is footloose and fancy free for a few weeks between quitting her job and starting school. I started to call her but then she popped up on gmail chat. I successfully convinced her to meet me at the cafe for lunch. Thus starts my plan to lure in ever more unsuspecting diners to the warmth and yumminess of that fine establishment.

We had a lovely visit, and lingered long after closing time. Ali put on the best of Michael Jackson and C and I experienced a bit of a time warp as all our old favorites came on. Pretty soon we abandoned conversation in favor of singing along with "Man in the Mirror" and other classics. Shortly after 3:30, Abe the wonder dog showed up with his people Tim and Lindsey. Abe was just as sweet and adorable as described and I had loitered around with the hope of finally meeting him. Lindsey saw how totally wrapped I was and said, "You can come hang out with him anytime." Ha...she should probably be careful what she asks for. :)

We did eventually leave and I went home and made some progress on the fence and not much else. After dinner, when the question of dessert arose (as it usually does), I decided to indulge.

Flight of the Conchords - Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros

'Cause I need a good laugh. Thanks Jen!

No Regrets

Joe Kurmaskie, AKA the Metal Cowboy put up a great post today about his bike trip across Canada with his wife and three kids in tow. I complained about my 40 pounds of panniers in Idaho, but Joe is pulling a tandem bike with tag-along and trailer, "400 pounds of flesh and metal" through hail and high water. My grandmother thinks I'm quite the adventurer, but Joe makes me look like the laziest of couch potatoes.

Still, I do what I can, and this morning I headed out on the roadie, after removing the Bessie seat post rack. Two water bottles and a bottle of Gu and I was off. Though I cut down on the physical weight, emotionally, I had plenty to bog me down. This ride wasn't just a ride but an experiment in alternative therapy.

I gave in and started therapy last month. Amazing how you can have a lifetime of good memories and a few months of horror can over shadow everything. It's getting better, but slowly. There's purgatory between the time I get in bed and the time I fall asleep where my brain has too much time to go down some pretty dark paths. My therapist suggested I could do a version of EMDR on myself while biking. It turns out maybe you really can pedal your pain away. Or something like that. At any rate, biking is cheap and therapy is expensive so I thought I'd give it a try.

My instructions were to find someplace where I wouldn't get run over and then, while pedaling, deliberately bring up the traumatic event for a few minutes, then 'come back' to the present and examine my mental state. Repetitions of this supposedly help to process the traumatic events so you can move past them. Oh how I really want to move past the trauma.

I headed for the Marine Drive path, just 5.3 miles from home. I wasn't anxious to get started, figured I'd wait till crossed Columbia so as not to be interrupted. Just then a biker passed me going the other way and I just made out, "The road's closed!" before the wind whipped her voice away. Sure enough I crossed Marine Dr and a truck was making it's way along the path--part of a repaving project.

Great. But the point was not to wallow in misery for hours after all so I decided the 3/4 mile strip between 33rd and 42nd would do just fine. I re-crossed the road, sank down into my aero bars and descended into hell. Six trips back and forth reliving the ambulance ride, the ER, the doctors asking how much they should do when we shouldn't even have been there in the first place. The last words she said to me, "You are the best care taker." that's when I remembered one really should bring tissues to bike therapy... Turning off the oxygen and waiting and waiting and waiting... Prayers around the bedside, playing Mahalia Jackson and Sweet Honey in the Rock and singing to her. That whiny sound she made every breath that cut through me like nails on a chalk board. Sleeping on the hard bench in the church chapel with the bright lights above. And that last van ride home where she slipped out on us as soon as she had a quiet moment. Just me and her in the van, and me worried I'd get in trouble for showing up with an empty shell instead of a daughter, sister, mother...

At each end of the path, I came up for air, clawed my way back to now, hanging into the hum of tires, the flowers by the side of the road, the feel of the wind, planes soaring over head. In small chunks it still SUCKED, but it was a little less...present.

Coming home, I pedaled extra hard. Pedaled against the wind and pain and anger. Pedaled against the time when I can't pedal anymore. And took some comfort in knowing that I cherished her for all the time we had her.

While we were cleaning out her room, we found a letter I wrote to her that she kept her whole life:

Sunday June 27th, 1999 6:55am:

Dear Mom,

This is the first day in weeks that I've been able to sleep in and here I am up before 7am. I even turned off all the phone ringers in case anyone why am I up?

I had this horrible, completely vivid dream that you were dead. I didn't know it was a dream. I hate when that happens. It was some freak accident (not even a car accident, freakier than you were bitten by some dealy insect or came down with some really fast disease). In my dream I was spending the night somewhere else and people tried to call but I had decided I didn't want to be reached for a day so all the ringers, pagers and cell phones were off. So I found out from a voicemail the next day, when it was too late to say goodbye even.

Then I was running all over the city trying to find the hospital you were at. I stopped by home, looking for Traci and found her and then we were both wandering together. Dad was at the hospital with you but he was no help (some thing snever chance I guess) and we never did find you. I finally woke up just a few minutes ago, feeling terribly sad, terribly relieve and really pissed that I could even have such a horrible dream. And worried. It's early, but perhaps I'll call Liz's place when I'm done with this letter and make sure you're really alright.

There is a good part though and it is this: When I was dreaming and I thought you were dead, I was thinking to myself, "Well, at least I didn't waste any time. We had great times together and we liked each other and I have more good memories than I can count."

Hopefully, you already know how much I love and appreciate you and like spending time with you but, after a dream like that, I figured it wouldn't hurt to say so, and write it down so you won't forget (the mind is the first thing to go... :-) Years ago, I saw a movie once about a little boy who was dying of AIDS and his mother would say, that every time a really special moment came, 'her heart took a picture.' I loved that idea and I've been doing it ever since. And I have so many 'rolls of film' I've lost count. I take them when we're playing around trying to give belated birthday spankings, during the nightly zrrbt, when we're all sitting around playing Taboo, when Traci is trying to stall to avoid going to bed. You guys may have stolen my camera, but I have all the best shots anyway.

I feel so lucky every day. Even though things suck sometimes and we're still getting it together in a lot of ways, there's really too much to be grateful for to complain. I think that most people I know couldn't live with their parents for a week without killing them. But we don't just get along or tolerate each other...we have fun. the more time we spend together, the more I like hanging out with you. I brag about you to all my friends you know, and most of them are jealous that I have such a cool mom. We've got it pretty good.

And that dream, which I'm still getting over, must've just been a reminder to let you know. So there it is. Drive safe on the way home and I'll see you when you get here.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I ordered a shiny new Macbook Pro today. I've been pondering making the upgrade and my recent issues, plus the fact that I'm probably going to be required to run Windows for most of my programming classes decided me. The main reasons I held back in the first place were that 1) The technology was new--needed to give them time to work out the kinks. 2) The programs, specifically Adobe Creative Suite weren't created for the new OS yet. And 3) the money. Well, CS 3 is out and with my educational discount I can get the whole suite for $300 (about a $1500 savings) if I bought a new Mac--which I would also get at an educational discount. Once I have all my new toys, I hope to sell the powerbook for close to what I paid for it. It still has more than a year of Applecare so I think it's much better to sell it sooner rather than wait a year. I'm really hoping this upgrade will be my last until I'm done with school at least.

Today was another productivity day. Did some laundry, worked on some school stuff--I'm *finally* registered for classes and I stopped by campus to pick up a current change in financial status form so I can hopefully wrangle some more mula from financial aid. It's ridiculous that they're basing my aid on a full time salary when I haven't worked since September of last year.

So now I've got the general ed requirements out of the way and it's time to start focusing on hard core geek stuff. I'm questioning just where I want to focus my efforts. I really would like to be able to program *and* design web sites, but there isn't really a degree--two or four year--that offers exactly what I want. I definitely don't want to do the hard core computer science degree at PSU. I started thinking about the realities of entering a profession that's male dominated and pretty sexist and decided I'd like to avoid that particular corporate machine. Buuut, I can't go straight for a graphic design degree because I'm a lover writer not a fighter visual artist. So that lead me to check out OIT and the Application Development degree. It seems close to what I'm looking for and also feels like it will play to some of my strengths in communication, teaching and writing. Also, it's a four year bachelor's degree, which I will eventually need to transfer to according to the rules of my scholarship. Yay scholarship!

Feels good to finally have my schedule set. I'm not thrilled about having to go to Sylvania, but I'm allowed to up to half my classes online so with luck I'll only have to make the trek on Tue/Thur this term. Tomorrow I'll start tackling my sorely neglected finances.

I didn't get over to LRBC until close to 3:00 today, just in time to enjoy a perfectly sweetened ice latte and grab an outside table to wait for the flavor of the day. Temps were scorching but I considered it soaking up heat for the winter. Today's ice cream flavor was sweet corn. I love corn so I went for it and got the scoop. It was good--a little strange, since I'm pretty traditional when it comes to ice cream. But I have to admire Ali's creativity--it definitely inspires me to be more adventurous. I indulged in some writing time and made a bit of progress on the Idaho bike trip report which I *will* finish and post sometime this week (uh..or next). Evan turned me onto the Pandora website, streaming radio tailored to your taste based on the artists you enter. I put in Ray Charles and got the perfect soundtrack-to-write-by.

This weekend I'm leading my first club ride for Sorella Forte. I had a basic plan for my route but didn't know how many miles it would be. I found this nifty site that lets you create point by point routes and tells you the mileage and even estimates how many calories you'll burn, for people who count those things. I have a pretty simple, one bike ride = three servings of ice cream formula that I swear by. Here's my route.

When the heat got to be too much, I got out of the kitchen and headed home. I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around the house and doing chores naked which is just one of the many things I love about having our own house all to ourselves.

Fresh basil from Terra's gardenTerra brought us fresh basil from her garden yesterday so that pretty much mandated that we have pasta with fresh pesto sauce for dinner. That Terra, she grows a nice herb.

Tomorrow, a therapeutic road ride in the morning and then off to the cafe where I hope to finally meet Abe the wonder dog.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fence building

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Made great progress on the fence today. Terra came over with her saw and cut support beams for us and generally acted in an advisory capacity, which is not to say she didn't get her hands dirty. I somehow volunteered/got suckered into scooping all the dirt from the holes we dug and transporting it by wheel barrow out to the street. My back didn't like that. Then our nails were too long, so I had to go to Lowe's and then Home Depot. But finally, sometime in the early afternoon, I got to do what I've been looking forward to since we started--hammering. The nails in back were somewhat problematic, but in the front I had enough leverage to do some good old fashioned hammer-therapy.

We rewarded ourselves with the usual Scooby snack--Burgerville shake and then Jess proceeded to act as my good luck charm for this week's softball game. Yeah, we still lost 14-12, but we played much better than last game. Not only did I not make any major errors, but I got two people out while playing second and got my first legitmate hit--a solid crack of a grounder that I haven't been able to achieve in practice. I told Jess she'll have to call in sick if necessary so she can attend the rest of my games over the next four weeks.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Originally uploaded by ephany
It'd be nice to be able to eat at the Little Red Bike every day...but since we can't afford that, we still make out alright at home.

Summer Weekend

This weekend has been just the right mix of relaxing, socializing and squeezing the last juicy bits out of the summer. Saturday we biked to the Equinox for a scrumptious breakfast with T & L. After that, it was off to northwest for a quick stop at the picnic put on by Jess's coworkers. I got to meet her boss, who thinks we're insane for riding around Crater Lake, having visited just after we did. And there were a number of cute babies from one month to one year. We spent some time chasing after the one year old, who had just learned to walk and got some baby cheek and baby tummy--always a delicacy.

We had a nice built in excuse to leave early, since we had to report for volunteer duty at the Bike Film Festival. We're attempting to start doing more stuff on-the-cheap and I have a feeling we'll be doing a lot of volunteering this winter. We showed up for our bike parking shift, but there was a surplus of volunteers and not a lot of bikes, so Nate invited us to go in and watch the 1:00 show. We saw a series of short, amusing films and two longer films about people collecting bikes to send to villages in Africa, where simple two-wheeled transportation can radically change the quality of life.

When our program was over we checked back in, but the bike parking was still under control so we helped out with Will Call and selling tickets during the brief rush before program 5. The volunteer coordinator gave us free popcorn and we got an unexpected $1.50 in tips! Then we went back in to watch the film I really wanted to see which was Klunkerz. It's a documentary of the origins of mountain biking, invented unknowingly by crazy guys and one girl in Marin county who kept modifying old bike frames from the 30's to ride down Mt Tamalpais. It was interesting to see the development, especially since I've been recently converted into a MTB enthusiast. Jess just kept saying throughout the movie, "Don't get any ideas."

After the movie, we had some time to kill before meeting up with T, another friend of Jess's and T's girlfriend for dinner. We used the time to walk up and down 21st and scout out possible places to eat. We actually managed to find a few reasonably priced options. NW is such an eclectic mix of bohemian hipp and upscale urbanite that it makes for great people watching.

As we passed by the Blue Moon bar, a guy yelled out to me, "Hey, you were singing that time!"

"Which time?" I asked. Well, it turns out he was one of the three people going by 200 Market St last week when I sat in with Steph. He complimented me, then proceeded to hit on both of us and invite us to join him for a beer. We're pretty sure he was hoping for a threesome and hastily excused ourselves and kept walking. From then on, I kept making reference to my 'adoring fan.'

Further down the street we saw this VW Bug with a green house built into the side, a bathtub strapped on the front, a bed on top and a bike strapped to the back. It was just. so. Portland. Click the photo to see more close up pictures.

We had a nice Indian dinner at Swagats, with T & D, despite a few stories that took me down flashback lane. D is also a nurse and shared a lot of work stories, including a woman who came in because of a fall, but eventually it came out that she has breast cancer that has come back and spread to her lungs and liver. "When the doctor said he'd check it in three months, she and the family just nodded as if that made perfect sense, but she'll probably be dead by then. There was just this total..."

"Denial?" I put in. "Yeah, I'm familiar." Which necessitated an explanation and I was surprised how calm I was. After that D & Jess took off sharing work gripes about nursing in general and their hospital system in particular. I told T, we're obviously going to have to figure out what we have in common so we'll have something to talk about when our girls go off on a rant.

It was just getting dark and the evening temperature was perfect for our uphill ride home, which we took at a leisurely pace and then spent the evening watching the rest of our season two episodes of Weeds.

Today we headed down to the Muddy Boot organic festival to see Dirty Martini and Stolen Sweets perform. It was a Lara double feature as she traded her guitar for a microphone and came right back on stage for her set with the Sweets. We haven't seen them in a while and they're still in fine form. They're gearing up for a European tour next March and I'm sooo jealous. We toured the booths and saw all kinds of sustainable practices from water purifiers to earth floors, organic produce delivery, cargo bikes and more. The festival strived to be a no-waste event. Compost and recycle bins were staffed by volunteers to make sure things went in the right bins and every material used by vendors was made of recycled materials, right down to the spoons and cups made of corn starch. I love Portland.

As the Sweets wrapped up their set, I turned to Jess. "Well baby, what do you want to do after this?"

"Oh, just look around a bit and take off. What do you want to do?"


"It's really hot today."

She started to laugh. "Which ice cream shop are you wanting to visit today?"

Yeah, I've been an open book in this relationship since about the third week. So we left and climbed the hill up Harrison ever so slowly in our granny gear at 4 mph. The reward was Cold Stone ice cream. I went for something new and tried the 'All lovin', no oven' combo which included cake batter ice cream, cookie dough and whip cream. Man, was it good.

The heat and the wind, which had been relentless all day, totally sapped us. We took our time pedaling home and then napped on the couch for a while, then grilled chopped veggies and corn on the cob on the back deck.

Tomorrow: fence building: part 2.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Fresh churned marionberry ice cream
Originally uploaded by ephany

Now that the Little Red Bike cafe is open, I can tease everyone with food pictures they way Ali & Evan have been teasing us for weeks. :)

I've just quality tested this freshly churned marionberry ice cream and I can say without hesitation that you should definitely come on down to the after-hours bike-through window and try some like, right now.

Blast from the past

Guest posted from dad's email:

My lifelong friend Bobby Fouther was waiting for the Max Train downtown one day and went in to an art gallery. There was a spread of photos taken by a retired photographer from the Oregonian. To his surprise Bobby saw the picture above. Mom! He exclaimed. Uncle Teddy! (which is he used to call my Dad). This photo of Teddy and Ellen says it all. Bobby's mom and my dad won a number of swing dance contests together in the forties, fifties and sixties. This may have been one of those nights.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Idaho. No U-da-ho.

We're on the road to Idaho. We left town at 3:00, after one of the least painful getting-ready-for-travel experiences we've had all year.

We decided to be ambitious and get all our stuff together last night so we could get breakfast at the LRBC this morning. After a lovely visit with Evan and Ali, we went home, packed up the car and headed downtown. A quick stop at REI for bike snacks and then we parked on the east side and biked back over the Hawthorne bridge to hear Stephanie play at the 200 Market St building.

This gig is a weird one that she's been doing every summer for the last few years. There's nowhere to sit so there's usually only ten people at most gathered around. A lot of people pass through and in half a song, they'll get hooked and buy a CD before heading off to their next business meeting. But for the most part, it kind of feels like having her play in my living room. I met my good friend Liz at this show a few years ago. She was clearly someone who had come down on purpose to listen and we hit it off right away. Just one more reason I feel kinda nostalgic about this gig. I was glad we got our act together enough to catch the second half of the two hour set.

When we walked up, Steph was just finishing up a song. I was thrilled to see that she was playing with Skip VonKuske, my favorite cellist on the planet. Skip can improvise with anyone. He makes cello cool. Also with her was Drew, a new-to-me drummer that I'd seen at a couple of shows this summer. We leaned our bikes behind Mike's merchandise table and as we crossed back in front of the 'stage' Steph said, “I hit a bus.”


She was OK, but she'd run into a Trimet bus on the way there and was late to the gig. So we hadn't missed much after all. But she was obviously upset and delayed the start of the next song to tell us how horrible it was to have all the people at the bus sending shards of hate her way while they waited for the Trimet supervisor to come and do the incident report. We chatted for a minute or so and then went and sat down so she could continue.

(We just saw big horned sheep right by the highway!)

At the break, she brought out a bag full of gorgeous beaded bracelets and necklaces. She said they were made from calendars by women in Uganda. At first I kept thinking 'calendar' was some kind of tree I'd never heard of, but no, they were made from actual paper calendars, rolled up to look like beads and then glazed. On some of them, you can see the numbers and letters, warped from being rolled up. Steph invited us to take our pick and we both picked out bracelets.

Just then I heard a shout and looked behind me to see my friend Danette pulling into the circular drive up.

She had agreed to feed our kitties while we're out of town and now here we were running into her. Turned out she was there to drop off some papers. The randomness and the smallness of Portland never ceases to amaze me.

The second set started and I made a request. “Hey Steph, how 'bout 'Tin Man?'” I asked.

She got a slightly panicked look. “Oh man, who remembers the words to that? Do you remember?”

“I never knew t
hem in the first place!” I confessed. But she immediately started strumming the intro while she called words into her brain and then started singing. You know those songs that you can sing along to if they're playing, but if you had to try to sing without it actually playing, even a gun to your head wouldn't help? That was Tin Man. One of those songs I mumble along to and then bust out with the four lines of chorus I actually know. But it's a catchy tune and Steph was a good sport for playing it. She couldn't remember the second verse, but I told her to sing the first one again. It's not like anyone else would know. Besides, the people who'd heard the first verse were probably already gone by now and new people were passing by.

When it was over, I
said to Jess, “You know, I do think she would've called me up to sing the second verse if I'd know it.”

“Probably so,” she agreed.

“Well you know, that's a common problem for me when I go to shows,” I joked.

A few songs later, I was busy making googly eyes at Jess when a sound finally made it's way into my consciousness. “Pssst! Pssst!” I looked up. It was Steph. She was motioning me over to the 'stage.' Probably our cute couple antics were making her nauseous so she figured to distract me by giving me the mic. I couldn't even figure out what song she was playing the intro to, but I stood up and went over anyway. And then I figured out. It was “Some Birds Ain't Supposed to Fly,” a song I sang on a real stage with a big crowd two years ago at my birthday party during her show at the Imbibe.

It had been ages since I even heard the song and I was completely blanking on the words. But she fed me lines through the first verse and it started to come back. I sang the first and third verse...the high part at the end is a bitch if you're not warmed up so I went falsetto and manged not to sound like a tortured animal or anything. Not my best performance, but my crowd of five seemed to think it was OK. Plus I fantasize about being called up on stage at every show so it's always nice to have it come true once or twice a year. Of course I'd left the camera in the car so no video (I'm pretty OK with that actually) but Jess got a picture on her phone.

After the show, I got a flat just after crossing the Hawthorne bridge. Kind of a bummer way to start the trip, but at least we were close to the car and a bike shop.

We stopped at Rivercity Bikes and I bought a new tire (just in case) and an extra tube. We did our separate bike shop rituals; Jess tried on vests and I ogled the mountain bikes. As we were heading out the door I nearly ran into the last person I expected to see.

“BRUCE!” I shouted happily and launched into his arms. Yeah, I know, not really my normal reaction to guys. But Bruce is one of those rare guys that whenever I've see him, I leave the conversation thinking (or in this case, repeating to Jess in the car), I LOVE that guy! He's so damn cool! Come to think of it, Cory at Seven Corners is one of those guys too. I wonder if bikey guys are just cooler than other guys?

Bruce is a former Rivercity employee who left a year and a half ago to move down south near his mom. When I met him, he'd only ever had two jobs and they we
re both at bike shops. I love Bruce because he doesn't seem caught up in the idea of the American rat race, the need to make a certain amount of money or have 'status.' He loves bikes, so that's what he does. And though I only ever saw him at the shop, I always got the impression he wasn't one of those people who's work was his whole life. He reeks of balance, warmth and friendliness. He did my first bike fitting on my road bike four years ago and I have long considered him my 'bicycle boyfriend.' I was truly ecstatic to see him.

Before I got too happy I asked, “Are you visiting?”

“Nope, I'm here.”

“Wow, you're here?” I said, not believing I could so lucky as to have him back at the shop, but that's exactly what he meant. I had just been thinking how there were all these new faces inside that I didn't know and now one of my favorite people was back. What a total treat!

We spent a little time chatting, he gave me condolences (it amazes me how many people read my emails and never ever EVER reply) and we told him about Idaho. I told him we might have to actually go for coffee sometime so I could hear about the last year and a half for him, which he would only
describe as “weird.”

It was a fabulous way to start our trip and I was glad I got that flat.

We were a little worried about traffic as we got on the road at last but it wasn't that bad for those of us lucky enough to be heading east. By the time we passed the I205 junction, we were going at normal speeds. We were headed towards Hoodriver and every third car had either a bike or a kayak on top. We stopped at Wal-mart in Hoodriver to get batteries for the camera, the only thing I'd forgotten to bring. It was my first time in downtown Hoodriver. It was adorably cute, filled with coffee shops that probably have free wifi and reminded me a lot of Sisters, only closer to Portland and cuter. If I
get a mountain bike soon, I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot more time there.

We only have about three and a half hours to drive today so we'll have time to relax this evening and maybe see a move. The rest of our group isn't leaving till 7:00pm so they'll get in around 10:30. Tomorrow we'll drive to Couer D'Alene and bike the sixty five miles to Wallace, ID. Hopefully without getting shot. Both my dad and Bruce said the same thing. “Watch yourself.” Yeah, I hadn't really thought about it, but Idaho is the “home of the order,” as dad called it. The skinheads, the clan and your general whitepeoplewhohateeveryonethatsnotjustlikethem crowd. Hopefully they're not cycling enthusiasts.