Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spud Update

The mystery of my sweet, sleeping spuds has been discovered. Kevin researched the reason potatoes are covered at night and found that prolonged exposure to light, especially fluorescent light, causes greening. He found lots of studies published by the American Potato Journal and the American Journal of Potato Research that reference this problem.

I still like my vision of tucked in spuds dreaming of becoming mashed with cream or made into devil's starchy fingers better.

Do you think there are back issues of the American Potato Journal? 'Cuz my birthday is just around the corner...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thank You for the Music

Last Saturday night I met the King of California, Dave Alvin.

The story begins back in March 1995 at the Backstage in Ballard (R.I.P). I went to see a concert that night that was a triple bill of two people I had only vaguely heard of and a man named Dave Alvin. I enjoyed the other two, Peter Case and Tom Russell, quite a bit but when Dave hit the stage . . . I was transfixed. Transfixed not in some sort of fan-girl kind of way but in a "this music and these words and these stories smacked me upside the head and won't let go" kind of way. It was a seminal night in my musical education. I had found music that really spoke to me. It was also the night I came home to find police officers in my apartment after my roommate had called the cops on our neighbor who felt the need to masturbate in his window. That night was seminal for more than one reason.

Over the years, my musical tastes have changed slightly. Favored artists have come and gone but Dave has always been there. I do not grow tired of his old music and I relish every new CD that comes my way. It has sometimes been months without listening to one of his songs but when I hear one it always sounds as good, if not better, than before. His songs are of borders, both physical and emotional. He sings of people living on the fringes of life. The songs are frequently sad but always have hopefulness to them. Dave Alvin writes and sings bittersweet better than anyone else. He is a critics darling, a roots rock genius and a true American musical treasure. None of that is hyperbole by the way. Music has always been a huge part of my life and Dave's music has been far and away the most important to me.

I have logged thousands of miles listening to him in my car. Road trips and commutes; Dave's songs of the West have been my frequent companion. Many nights spent sitting alone letting the music wash over me. Some dark, lonely nights to match the dark, lonely songs but both the songs and I held that glimmer of hope in the background. Many more happy nights to match the . . . well, mainly dark, lonely songs but that makes me happy too. Sad music is always so much better than happy music.

Last Thursday, Dave played an acoustic show at The Tractor Tavern and I, of course, was there along with Kevin, my brother and my friend Todd. It had been well over two years since he had been in town and I was ready for the show and it was magic. I was once again wrapped up in those songs, the stories, that guitar work and the timbre of Dave's voice.

Saturday night he played at Mississippi Studios in Portland and Kevin took me to there for Valentine's Day. It was another wonderful show with Dave, his Guilty Men guitarist Chris Miller and his old friend from The Blasters, Steve Berlin. Watching them you knew you were watching people who truly loved what they do. Afterwards, Kevin insisted on making me hang around to get an autograph on a show poster that I had bought. I didn't want to be "one of THOSE people" and was getting very antsy about calling the cab and getting the hell out of there. I am very shy and don't want to intrude on others. Besides, this is music I have loved for fourteen years; what if he turned out to be a dick? I would still love the music but would it be slightly tainted? Kevin (a million thanks sweetie!!) stalled long enough for Dave to finally come out to the bar area and I screwed up my courage and asked him to sign my poster. I am proud to say I did not gush. I played it cool, mentioned what an honor it was for me to meet him, he shook both of our hands, personalized the poster and could not have been more gracious. I always said if I ever met Dave Alvin I would simply say (without getting all ABBA on him) "Thank you for your music" and that it has meant a tremendous amount to me over the years. I forgot that part. Maybe I will get the chance again some day. For now I have this treasure to go along with the songs that have become the soundtrack to my life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Goodnight, Sweet Tuber

As I perused the grocery store late last night I noticed a strange and charming sight in the produce section. All of the potatoes had been covered with burlap sacks. I stopped, stared and pondered this for a moment. It got me wondering about why this happens. Could it be:

  • Potatoes and their ilk are the Chosen Vegetables and are afforded extra special treatment?
  • Does the produce manager love his spuds so much he tucks them in each night with their little burlap blankies, pats them on their heads, reads them a story and quietly leaves them to their slumber?
  • Are there roving gangs of tuber haters who invade grocery stores late at night and harass the vegetables, forcing the produce people to hide their spuds away?
  • Do potatoes need their beauty sleep more than other vegetables? Are they more simply more sensitive and high-strung. I always thought they were more down to earth then other produce.

I am sure there is a very logical explanation for this but I prefer my vision of softly slumbering spuds snuggled in for a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ode to the Most Hated Month

Dreary snowy day
Interminable winter
February sucks

Monday, February 9, 2009

Can Haz Denturz?

This face? This big, giant face cost me a lot of money last week. Ollie had to have two teeth removed along with a cleaning, complete films and some drugs. This cost me ...oh, let's just say more than one month's rent. Actually, more than one month's rent, both phone bills and my cable bill combined. Can haz poverty?

Turns out that the x-rays showed he actually needs two more teeth out and his fangs will probably go at some time too. They couldn't get the other two teeth because he had been under the anesthetic too long so they had to bring him out. It is hard on any cat but especially older ones like my beast. I will wait a few months before we go after the other teeth. I need time to find a buyer for my kidney.

P.S. He is worth every penny.

Love 'Em or Leave 'Em Race Report

Hooray! A race report! I haven't been able to post one in so long; I am practically giddy.

Sunday I ran in my third "Love 'em or Leave 'em" 5K at Green Lake. While not as "speedy" as in past years I was still very pleased with my time: 32:44 or a 10:22 pace. I ran this one just as kind of a check-in to see where I was and what I was capable of. I had taken essentially four months off from running last fall so I felt like I was starting back at the beginning when I started training in January. My first pace in January was 11:53 for a three-miler so the 10:22 is a huge improvement for me in a very short period of time. My 5K PR is looking good for this year!

I had to go to this Valentine's themed race alone. Kevin is suffering from some nasty shinsplints and Matt didn't feel like racing that day. I don't mind going places alone, in fact sometimes I miss that, but it seemed a little sad and mildly pathetic to go to the Valentine's run without so much as a friend. But I dragged my spinster behind out of bed early Sunday morning, drove to the lake feeling very unprepared and proceeded to have a fun race. The weather was a little chilly but the splits were good:

11:07 first mile - too many people and two bottlenecks on the course
10:07 second mile
10:04 third mile
8:29 for the last tenth (or .16 per my Garmin)

I was passed briefly by two people running in tandem as a giant heart. They couldn't have been very aerodynamic and it was a bit demoralizing seeing them trot past me but I persevered. Shortly after they passed me they began to walk and I chugged past them never to see them again. I take my victories where I can.

Everything went much better than the dream I had about the race the night before that involved carrying my tax textbook, crawling along ledges, getting stranded on someone's kitchen island, getting lost on the course, and not wearing any pants. Hooray for reality.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What's Up?

I have been kind of MIA lately so here is a run down of what I have been up to these past two weeks:
  • Studying, studying, studying. It is what I should be doing right now but I have fought the good fight on this tax problem long enough and it is time to let it go. Ugh. This quarter is a killer.
  • Dealing with various family health issues. Surgery. Blood transfusions. New chemo. Nursing home. Infection. Pharmaceutical fights. Pain. Non-compliance. Good times.
  • Running. I am actually on a fairly regular schedule again and have my pace for a three-miler under 11:00. Sad that that is an achievement for me but I took so much time off last fall that it is going to take awhile to get back in the game. I did a four miler on Monday and it felt great and I know I could have stretched it out to five or six. Patience, Grasshopper.
  • Saw "The Cody Rivers Show" with my dear friend Liane, her boyfriend, and Kevin. Odd, weird, quite indescribable sketch comedy stuff. Go see them when they come to your town. I'm talking to you "Blue Sky Girls!" They are Bellingham based so the Fisher's should be able to see them at some point too but they aren't scheduled to right now. Do yourselves a favor and check the schedule. Did I mention, odd?
  • Painting of Kevin's master bedroom closet. What started as a simple quest for a new closet organizer resulted in the room being gutted, repainted, carpeting ripped up, laminate floors installed and a new light fixture. He has been working very hard and I have only been able to help with the paining and not much else.
  • Work. Sweet, sweet work.

That's all for now kiddies. Back to the tax book. This week looks more interesting. A PNB performance Friday night, a 5K race where I will probably set a personal worst on Sunday, ridiculously expensive feline dental work, and if the infernal studying doesn't get in the way, a chocolate and wine festival on Saturday.