beach trip

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Last week was our annual family trip to Cannon Beach, but with my friend’s BirthdayPartyOne (PartyTwo is happening tonight), and my trip to Montana, I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet.  Brother, his wife, their three kids, and Mom ‘n’ Stepdad arrived on Sunday, and I arrived on Monday.

Before I left Portland, I checked in with Brother to see if I needed to bring anything, and he texted back, The house is small and not very nice, just so you know. Greeeeat.  That meant I was sleeping on the floor.  I threw in my sleeping bag and pillow, as well as a blanket to throw down, just in case.  I also brought my bike this time, just in case I wanted to get away and have some solo adventures.  When I arrived, I got the low-down on the house, which Mom and BrothersWife had spent the whole day cleaning and fixing, but there were still a multitude of things that were broken or at least annoying.  They called the rental company, who sent a repair guy down to fix the more egregious things.  The house was owned by a family named Kennedy, but it must have been the Grey Gardens branch of the family, not the Hyannisport branch.  After some negotiation, Mom’s diplomacy skills got them to refund a day of the rental fee, the entire cleaning fee, and the entire pet fee.

For the most part, we did all the usual family-type things that people do on the beach.  We lit fires, we roasted marshmallows to make s’mores, and we talked and watched the kids play in the sand.  The sunset was particularly nice one night, so I managed to get some pics before my battery died.


Stepdad had been telling us about a phenomenon called ‘minus tides’, in which the tide is extra low, but this year the minus tides were up to two feet lower than usual, and about as low as they can possibly be on the Oregon coast.  Tuesday’s was the lowest tide, apparently, but if you were lucky enough to be up around five-thirty or six in the morning, you’d be able to experience the minus tides all week.  On Wednesday, the morning of my third and final day, my eyes popped open around six, so I dressed quickly, grabbed my bike, and headed for the beach.   It was very foggy, as mornings there often are, but this time it was so foggy that I couldn’t even see Haystack Rock until I was actually down on the beach and right next to it.  I rode along the dirt roads and paths, following the dune grass, until I found a set of steps leading down to the sand.  I carried my bike over my shoulder until I got onto the wet sand, because dry sand is extremely hard to ride in, and it gets in every single crevice of your bike’s mechanical parts and destroys them, so I was quite happy to wait for the wet sand.

I came across an interesting scene, which was of a series of chairs that had been left on the sand overnight, complete with peoples’ toys and jackets.  It was very eerie, almost post-apocalyptic.  I set my bike down and pulled out the camera. . .


. . .then finally made it to Haystack Rock.  It was pretty exhausting just getting down there.  It’s a pretty good walk at the normal low tides, but during the minus tide, it took forever to walk to the water’s edge.  I arrived around six-thirty, to find about ten or fifteen other intrepid explorers down there with me.  We all were walking around the edge of the rock, admiring and touching the myriad of colorful starfish and anemones that were exposed.

starfish1 starfish2

starfish starfish3

The ultra-low tide exposed some nefarious and debaucherous activities, as well.  These two star-crossed lovers (har har) were caught in the act of spooning on a rock. . .


. . .and here we see a perfect example of the type of forbidden love that sometimes manages to transcend the boundaries of inter-species predation.


After I pulled myself away from the starfish and their activities, I walked down to the water’s edge, which was clear down to the ‘back’ of Haystack Rock, on its ocean side.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this area, during a normal low tide, you’re normally only able to get to the beach side of the rock, where the usual tidepools are.  This time, the rock was almost completely exposed.  Check THIS out:

lowtide lowtide2

I know it’s hard to convey all of this by such close-up shots, but it was absolutely stunning, and despite the lack of sleep that morning, I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to witness it.

By this time, which was now around seven-thirty, the tide was just beginning to come in again, and some of us who were engrossed in our photography had to scramble from a couple of waves.  I turned around to find a little rock and tidepool formation that I’d attempted to photograph earlier, but the light had changed enough that it was particularly eerie and beautiful.


After that, I put my bike back over my shoulder and trudged back through the thick fog toward town.  I navigated through the stairway and parking lot of a time-share condo in order to do so, and took the liberty of using their rinsing shower on my bike as well.  Don’t tell anybody.  From there, I headed to my favorite coffee shop, Bella Espresso, for my favorite beach drink, a white chocolate raspberry mocha.  Mmmmmm.  I was the second customer of the day, and arrived just as they were opening, so I sat in the courtyard and watched people on the street while I sipped my coffee, before I rode back to our ‘small and not very nice’ rental house.

This was the fifth year in a row that we’ve done a Cannon Beach vacation.  This one was quite a bit more stressful than usual, due to the fact that the rental house was so small, and awkwardly laid out, and dirty.   The kids were also a bit much to deal with this time, at least for me.  Eight-year-old Niece is usually really great, but when she’s having an off day, she can be almost insufferable.  Three-year-old Nephew is, well. . .three, so he’s at the Constantly Looming Tantrum stage of life.  There are very few things that are more annoying to me than little kids’ tantrums (especially since I’m not much of a ‘kid person’ anyway), so I took the opportunities for quiet getaways whenever I got the chance.

This trip was fine and everything, but I’m sure next year’s trip will be better.

miscellany, and Greek misogyny

blogging, funny, music, Oregon, Portland No Comments »

When I wrote last, I had a feeling that this week might get away from me, but I had no idea just how much that would happen.  Most of alll, it was time spent reconnecting with friends who I’ve not seen in years.  The total for this month is now up to twenty two.  TWENTY TWO.  . .and it’s due in a large part to Facebook.

This week, I had two rehearsals, four gigs, two trips to the beach, and as soon as I finished Gig #2 the other night, at ten-thirty at night, I got a text message saying, “Did you get my text yesterday?”

“I don’t think so.  Which one?”

“About me being in the hospital?”

“OH MY GOSH.  No, I didn’t!  What happened?  Are you okay?”  [I tried to call her, but she couldn’t answer.]

The rest of the story is that she got really sick on Wednesday with what she thought was food poisoning from bad cream in her coffee, but she kept getting worse throughout the day, so she went to the hospital Wednesday night, to find out that she had frickin’ appendicitis, so she got her appendix sucked out through her navel on Thursday.  RockShowGirl and I raced over to see her Thursday afternoon, just as her mom was arriving to take her home for a few days.  She’s there now, sans appendix, recuperating with her new friend Percoset.

I drove RockShowGirl to her condo downtown and then came home back to clean up my place, in order that FriscoFriends could stay here tonight.  They arrived five minutes after IrishBand had finished Gig #3 on Thursday night, and we talked at the venue for a while, before driving back to my place and retiring to the front steps with glasses of wine.  We all slept in late yesterday, and I tiptoed out to the living room to retrieve my keys, so that I could walk to the grocery store and be back before they awoke.  I whispered, “Is either of you awake?”  The fakers both instantly opened their eyes and stretched their arms.   I laughed and said I’d be right back with coffee and ingredients for breakfast.  We had scrambled eggs with mozzarella cheese, with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden (I got slimed by a slug who was attached to one of the tomatoes, and it took hours to get all of that sticky, yellowish, gooey crap off of my hand!), French press coffee, and toast with homemade raspberry jam courtesy of Mom ‘n’ Stepdad.

At about half past noon, we happily piled into our respective cars and caravanned to Seaside, where we met up with their family, who I’ve also known for years.  It was a great time.  They told me to bring my bike, since everybody else had theirs as well.  That turned out to be the best idea of all.  We rode up and down the Promenade, and all around the town, and I found the house we used to stay in when I was a kid that belonged to our family friends.  It’s also located right along the Promenade, and it was nice to see that unlike the rest of Seaside, it was unchanged, save for the fact that it is now a vacation rental home.  We rode to the ice cream shop for cones, and down along the riverfront marina and walkways as well.  In a great show of our Second Childhood, three of us raced to the top floor of a parking garage, and back down to street level, skidding on the sidewalk and having the time of our lives.

Then it was time for dinner, and a walk down to the beach, which included a small fire, s’mores, and a radio-controlled car and plane.  First time I’ve ever flown a model plane, by the way, and it’s much more difficult than it appears.  Then we walked back to the fire and sat around talking until dusk, when I had to pack up my car and drive home, after hugs all around.

Today I’m devoting to cleaning up my kitchen from all the cooking, and getting the living room back to normal now that life is back to normal.  By ‘normal’, I mean a gig tonight, meeting two more friends in the next couple of days, and then three gigs in a row next week, followed by at least one more beach trip (but it’s more likely to be two) before things start to settle down in the following week.  At the end of that week, I’ve been invited to play in Whitefish, Montana with a nationally known songwriter who just so happens to live here in Portland.  He also just so happens to be the significant other of someone with whom I played for almost three years, so I’ve had the opportunity to play with him many times before in that context, but it will be really great to play with him in this new context.  He’s an amazing banjo player and guitarist.

By way of an ending to all of this miscellany, I’m going to tell you that I’m listening to “El Choclo” by Astor Piazzolla, and I like to share examples of these obscure songs when I can find them.  I scrounged up a video to this one, which has a bunch of misogynistic hilarious pictures that accompany this beautiful and romantic tango music.  If you can read the captions, please feel free to comment and translate them, because it’s all Greek to me.

sea lions in Astoria

music, Oregon, pictures, recording, Washington No Comments »

On my way home from a three-day trip to my dad’s house at the coast this weekend, I drove back through Astoria because the other beach highway, across the river in Washington, is normally much faster, but this time was beleaguered by a series of construction projects, which added about an hour to the trip over.  I love Astoria anyway, so it doesn’t take much for me to want to drive through it.

I drove over the bridge this time, which I rarely do, because A) it goes to a part of Washington that I rarely visit, so driving over it is unnecessary, and B) it’s frickin’ HUGE, and kinda makes me nervous if the weather is anything less than perfect.  Next time I go over it, I want to mount my little camera onto my car’s dashboard or windshield somehow, in order to make a video of the river crossing.  It takes about five or six minutes (at freeway speed!) to drive across the bridge, and when you go up the span and start pulling into Astoria, you are rewarded with a beautiful and unusual view of the town as you go around the curves.  It’s really stunning, but you can’t really drive a stick-shift car around a bunch of curves, pay attention to traffic, and operate a camera all at the same time.

This time, the Astoria Column was finally open, after being closed for renovation for the last two years.  Climbing the steps to the top can really make you dizzy if you’re not careful.  I got up there, took a quick picture for Facebook. . .


. . .and enjoyed the beautiful scenery (but the pictures weren’t very exciting this time), then climbed back down to find something to eat.  Spent a while at a grocery store, but the deli was ridiculously expensive for what you got, so I headed down the road to a pizza place.  On the way, I heard barking coming from the river, so after I got my pizza, I turned back and headed for the marina.  I drove my car onto the pier (which is allowed, by the way; there were many others out there too) and found a group of sea lions sunning themselves on one of the smaller piers.  Most seemed to be asleep, but some were fighting and knocking each other off the pier, and others were awake and enjoying the warmth of the beautiful sunshine.

sealions2 sunning sealions

The weather was perfect, and it was so nice to just walk or drive to the different ends of the huge cement pier and enjoy the views of the town and the river from out there.


Got home and spent the next two or three hours working on Iron Horse songs.  I had to go through our old tapes to find things I can use as part of a retrospective we’re going to make, and I also was looking for our old studio tapes, which are divided up into individual tracks (guitar, drums, vocals, etc.) to use as sound effects for one of the songs we’re recording.  It’ll be hilarious and cool if it all works out, which I have every reason to believe that it will.

In other news, I have two rehearsals (three, if you count the one that happened yesterday morning) and three gigs this week, as well as meeting up with three or four friends (on different days), AND another day trip to the beach on Friday to see some friends from California.  So I’ll try to keep up on BFS&T, but don’t be too surprised if it’s another few-day stretch before I’m back here again.

best. dinner. ever.

beautiful, blogging, Oregon, pictures, Portland 3 Comments »

This afternoon, Mike sent me a text message, asking if I wanted in on a special dinner deal tonight.  Not being stupid, I readily agreed.

I’m not sure if I can divulge all of the details, but I CAN tell you that the dinner was held at Cafe Nell (which is excellent, by the way) on NW Kearney, and it was hosted by the sales rep for the Henry Estate Winery (which is excellent, by the way).  So.  Here’s what our dinner consisted of.  Apologies for the low quality of the pictures, but I was there for the food and the company, and the picture-taking was secondary.  And truth be told, after all that wine, it’s a good thing I got any pictures at all.

Course 1 (appetizer):  tomatoes from Cafe Nell’s own garden, mixed with chevre cheese.

Course 2:  Manila Clams steamed in Widmer Drop Top Amber Ale, seasoned with Old Bay (ale).  I confess; I forgot to take the picture before I started eating this one.
Wine pairing:  2007 Pinot Gris

Course 3:  Fried Oregon Mushroom & Squash Blossom Salad
Wine pairing:  2004 & 2006 Syrah

Course 4:  Washington Black Cod, with a Chipotle Chili Rub, and a Peach and Blackberry Vinaigrette
Wine pairing:  2005 Oregon Chardonnay

Course 5:  Grilled SuDan Farms Lamb Chop, with Grilled Corn, Roasted Red Pepper and Oregon Farro Salad
Wine pairing:  2006 Oregon Pinot Noir

Dessert:  Pavlova with fresh Washington Peaches and Oregon berries
Wine pairing:  2007 Muller Thurgau

The cast of characters:

Andrew, the chef, who gets my eternal kudos and thanks:

Doyle, the wine rep:

Gretchen and Tiffini:

Jessica and Ryan:


Mike (Don’t tell his mom he ate lamb!):

Mr. T (otherwise known as me):

Now that that’s all been established, here are some random pics from the evening.

pinotnoir triplefisting


I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun this evening was, and how exquisite all of the food was, and how lovely it was to make a bunch of new friends, but I have to admit that the best part of all occurred at the end of the evening.


lack of ennui

beautiful, blogging, cello, music, Oregon, pictures, Portland, recording 1 Comment »

Ummmm, hi.


I’m alive and well.  And busy.  Gosh. . .where to start. . .?

I’ve been doing lots of recording, with my friends from my first band ever.

I went on a random little day trip up the Columbia gorge with RockShowGirl, and we hiked to one of the many waterfalls and enjoyed the scenery along the curvy old highway.  On the way back, we stopped in Cascade Locks, where we ate the best bacon burgers either of us had eaten in our entire lives.  I suppose that means I’ll have to stop calling myself a ‘quasi-vegetarian epicure’ pretty soon, yeah?

waterfall tunnel

I went to see an unbelievably amazing show; a double-headliner bill featuring Butterfly Boucher AND Emilie Simon.  Both are supremely talented (not to mention beautiful), and I got the chance to meet both of them afterwards.  I told Butterfly that I’d love to play cello with her the next time she’s in town, and she seemed like she was into the idea.

butterfly emilie

I did something I’ve never done before, and thought that I’d never do; I went to a minor-league basketball game.   [I will now pause for your exclamations of shock and horror.]   Ordinarily, I find most sporting events mind-numbingly boring, so I volunteered to take pictures (with someone else’s digital camera, which is much slower and less responsive than mine) of the game.  I took about two hundred, and I would guess that about three actually came out.  It was pretty funny.

I went to an amazing restaurant called Trébol with Jeannie-wa.  It was stellar, and I can’t wait to go back again.

I went to an amazing restaurant called Indish with BoringFish.  It was stellar, and I can’t wait to go back again.

I had a gig with IrishBand, which ended up being IrishDuo that night, because Violinist was in MileHighState.  It was the first time we’ve ever done a duo show like that, and it was actually quite fun.  I brought the accordion, and someone asked if we knew any Beatles songs.  I couldn’t help myself, and blurted out, “Yeah, I know all of them.”  This was their cue to throw obscure songs at me, to try and stump me, which didn’t happen.  “I Don’t Want To Spoil the Party”, “Let It Be”, “Blue Jay Way”, “Real Love”, all were par for the course.  It was super fun, and we may actually incorporate that sort of Beatles sing-along set into some of our future shows.  If anybody got pictures of that, I haven’t seen them.


I’ll spare you the technical details, but I bought some equipment for my cello which makes it possible to plug it directly into a PA channel, instead of having to mic it when I’m on stage.  It may have been a small step for mankind, but it was a giant leap for my cello career.

I went to a friend’s bachelor party, which lasted until six o’clock in the morning.   At around quarter to five, a neighbor called the cops to complain about the noise in general, but ‘in specific’, I’m sure it had to do with our hilariously horrible drunken guitar playing.  The cop couldn’t have been any nicer, actually.  He was great, and totally cool about it.  It was a super-fun party.  I spent the next day in bed, and got up around three-thirty to take a shower and make the hour-long drive up to SeaBird’s family’s home in the middle of a cedar grove on the edge of a hill, to eat incredible food, marvel over the kids, watch the neighbors’ enormous fireworks display, and celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, and the founding of our country.  They are my surrogate parents, and I always come away feeling rejuvenated after spending time with them.  People like that are very rare and special.

Yesterday, I bought new heads for my drums, installed them, tuned them up, and then recorded drum tracks for three songs in our FirstBand project.  I started working on a fourth song, but it was trickier than the other three, and I didn’t get a take that I was satisfied with, so I’m going to give it its due today.

So yeah.  Been all busy all the time lately, but I haven’t forgotten about you.  It’s nice to finally have spare minutes to let you know what’s been happening.  This is just an overview, too.  There’s been plenty more, such as going to movies and sushi with LJ and SeaBird, for example.

Today I woke up at nine and edited audio tracks, even before I’d had coffee, in order to get ready for today’s recording session.  It promises to be another good, productive day.  There’s certainly been a lack of ennui around here lately.

Okay.  Deep breath, diving back in now. . .