Monday, April 30, 2007

Posting From The Ithaca, New York Library

Well we made it to New York safe and sound. We burnerd through over $20 in tolls along the way (I think they doubled since I was on the Illinois Tollway last). Ohio has these crazy Travel Plazas on the tolls now. They feel more like a mall complete with a food court (including 24 hour Starbucks, which helped once). Dinner at the Moosewood was great, I'll post on that later. We took a trip down to Moh's Grandfathers' house on the Pennsylvania-NY border. They really have gorgeous rolling hills out this way. Today I'm in Ithaca again picking up some groceries at their co-op. Tomorrow I'm off to the city ( Long Island) for a wild adventure. More later.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Posting from the Rock Falls, Illinois Library

Yeah, I know, I'm on the road again and with so much to do back home. We decided to give my mother in law our old Buick so we're driving it out to New York. It also gives us an excuse to see her family before we head out west at the end of May. Chances are we won't be getting back east again for some time. Hopefully we'll have a bit of fun in New York. We'll be in Ithaca so the original Moosewood is on the agenda. I'll be in "the city" for one day, but I don't have any plans there except getting out asap.

Hope to be back up and blogging soon. I feel as though I am missing out on all of my friends lives. Be well.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Empty Bowl

Well my absence from the blogging world can only mean one thing-I've been busy. Everyone knows that feeling right?

Spring has finally sprung here in the Northwoods so I've been trying to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Also the dreaded cleaning and de-cluttering has been an ongoing battle.

However last weekend we were able to make it to our local Empty Bowl event. For those who have never heard of or participated in an empty bowl event, I strongly recommend seeking them out-or better yet try to organise one yourself if you are the motivated type. In a nutshell, they are a fundraising event usually for food shelves or soup kitchens. Local artists, students from schools and colleges make and donate handmade pottery bowls for the event. Then the public that attend get to pick out a bowl, load up with some hot soup, and enjoy socializing and listening to some live music. The one here in Ashland cost $10 a bowl-and there were some beauties. We accidentally arrived 45 minutes early because we had the starting time wrong. The nice college kids in charge of the event didn't even tell us to comeback later or inform us that we were too early. We thought people were just late arriving. A little embarrassing looking back, but hey, we got first pick at the bowls.

Here are the two bowls we chose

Also, I'd like to give the Northland students and artists that made this year's Empty Bowl a success a big thumbs up. You guys really are an asset to the community.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

We Are What We Drive (part 3) or Another Teenager Post

In my opinion, when we're young we should be excused for doing dumb things. Often times we learn an important lesson, while other times we simply receive a great embarrassment. I had many of the embarrassing moments, like when I tried to pose as my father and phone myself off of school. The problem was I tried calling from outside of the school cafeteria and in the middle of my pleading or imitating, the bell rang. I just hung up and went back to class. There was also the time I tried to take a bag of chips out of the front of a Frito Lay truck. Unfortunately the driver was in the back. I tossed them back in the truck and hopped in the car, my friends laughing the whole time. But sometimes the embarrassment goes hand in hand with a life lesson. Which leads me to another car story.

It was 1995, I was eighteen years old, had just left my home in Illinois to live in Portland, Oregon, and was living out of my friend Aaron's car or at his girlfriend's apartment. I had a part-time job and was on food stamps, but I just received $500 as a graduation present from my Grandmother, even though I hadn't technically graduated. The decision of going to Oregon was a little more interesting than finishing my senior year. Anyhow, the wealth of cash meant that it was time to stop relying on my friend's ancient Bonneville and get a set of wheels of my own. And this time the decision would be mine. In the past my Father always chose a car from one of his friends, because he claimed it was cheap and reliable. So in high school I drove a 1977 Impala and a 1979 Malibu. Both rusty as hell and a nasty color green. But this time I was free to pick out something old, but cool. Not cool as in muscle, I was more into dorky cool. I thumbed through the Oregonian and was amazed. I was used to the dozen or so car classifieds in my hometown paper back in Illinois, but the Oregonian was filled with cars. And not just old Fords and Oldsmobiles, but classic volvos, VW's, Audis, and other imports-all rust free. I wanted something classic, but I only had a little over $600. I ended up test driving an old Volvo, a classic Mercury hardtop, and even a VW bug, but nothing seemed quite right. Then I saw an add for a 1964 Corvair for $550. I once saw a Corvair back in Illinois in front of the oil change place and thought it was "so cool". I had never heard of Ralph Nader or his consumer advocate nonsense, so I knew nothing about Corvairs. Only that I thought they were cool, in a dorky sort of way.

This is exactly what it looked like-I found this one on the net. See it's dorky cool.

To see the car, I had to have my friend Aaron take me all the way out to Hillsboro. At first sight I was taken by the car. It was in perfect shape, bright orange, rust and dent free, and kinda funny looking. The car didn't even have that many miles on it and had been stored. I guess that should have been a red flag. The guy didn't let me drive it very far because it didn't have insurance and the plates were expired, another red flag. But all I could think about was imagining me driving it around. Taking a trip back to Illinois and showing it off.

I think it was one or two days later that I phoned the seller to tell him I wanted the car. I picked up a temporary sticker at the DMV, got my insurance squared away, and returned with Aaron to Hillsboro to claim my prize. I paid the man, asked Aaron to follow me abck to his girlfriend's apartment, and hit the road. The car was making some coughing sounds because of the old gas, so I sputtered into a gas station for some fuel cleaner and some new gas. I remember some people yelling stuff in spanish, probably cacho mierda or something, as my car sputtered into the station, but I tried to ignore them. I knew the car was a little rough, but a tune up and some new gas would do wonders.

After paying, we left the station and headed out on the Sunset Highway. I'm not sure how far we made it, but suddenly I noticed Aaron frantically flashing his headlights behind me. I pulled over to the side of the road. Aaron got out of his car and yelled to me that he saw smoke and even some flames coming from somewhere beneath the bumper. Shit, was the car overheating. Corvairs have their engines in the back like the old VW's so I was a bit worried. We opened up the trunk, but didn't really see much of a problem. Then suddenly the back seat of the car started smoking then quickly changing to flames. I was yelling Shit over and over. A semi driver came squealing over to the side of the road, jumped out with a fire extinguisher, and bolted towards my car. He began hosing down the back seat. Then another semi driver pulled over. A few minutes later even a fire truck arrived, this time hosing the inside of my car with water. Some people stopped to gaze, others even took pictures. Eventually the firemen ripped out my smoldering backseat and chucked it into the ditch. I was left with about 3 inches of foamy gray water, a blackened back window, a burnt temporary sticker glued to the window, and a lecture about air-cooled engines overheating. One of the firemen told me the air ducts that traveled beneath the seat were probably clogged with leaves. The heat of the engine must have ignited them. After some best wishes and sincere goodbyes, Aaron and I were left standing by ourselves. The Corvair wouldn't start and I was too embarrassed to return to the guy who sold me the car. Dusk was settling in so I decided to return in the morning. I really hoped the car wouldn't be stripped and vandalized overnight-abandoned vehicles around Portland seemed to be targets for vandals.

The next day we returned to a car free of vandalism, much to my relief. Another shock was the car started right up, saving me from figuring out towing. I also had to return to the DMV for another sticker. The wiseguy at the counter advised me to spray flame retardant on the sticker, but somehow I didn't see the humor. Eventually the car made it to the apartment complex and the restoring began.

Over the next couple of weeks the car caused a few more problems that were non-mechanical. The manager lady from the apartment complex called the cops on me because she claimed I had illegal plates on the car, which I did not. I transferred my Illinois plates onto the Corvair. Then the manager from Albertsons had my car towed because he insisted that it was parked on the lot for over 48 hours, when in truth I had left it there overnight.

As for the final fate of the car? I was driving back to Illinois when I pulled over for gas in Eastern Oregon. After the tank was filled, I went to start it, but to no avail. I figured once it cooled down it would probably be okay. After about a half an hour the workers helped me push it away from the pumps. Finally after it till wouldn't start an old mechanic and station owner came out and tried to get it running. After hearing how it sounded, he said the engine was pretty much shot-a bad rod or something. He claimed there was no way I'd make it to Illinois. I managed to get $100 out of him for the car, plus a ride to the Greyhound station. $69 got me a ticket back to Illinois and the Corvair from hell out of my life.

Recently I stopped for gas at the same station and looked around for the car. The old fellow wasn't working and I didn't feel like asking the guy filling up my car anything. Still, I wonder if it's still out there, perhaps haunting someone else. Or maybe it was just me that it haunted.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Family: Love It Or Leave It?

The picture above is of my cousin and myself around the ages of 5 or 6. She is my only 1st cousin, I know freaky unless we live in Russia or something. Anyhow, she just had her second child a month ago. The sad thing I have never even seen her first child who must be like 4. I just don't keep in contact with my family. It's too difficult. I talk to my mother every couple weeks, but that even stresses me out sometimes.

I didn't used to be like that. Actually my cousin and I were like best friends. I never had a babysitter, my mom and her sister would take turns watching us. Our sleep-overs were often consecutive. My house meant plenty of time outside, playing with the dogs and cats, collecting caterpillars and building mazes for them with tinker toys and Lincoln Logs. My cousins house meant TV (they had a colour one with cable), riding bikes on cement instead of gravel, and playing with our extensive bouncy ball collection in her large kitchen. We rarely fought and it seemed we had a lot in common. We dreamed of having our own pet shop together.

I guess the times have changed. I haven't seen her since our Grandmother's funeral 5 years ago. Actually, she may have come to my Father's funeral too, but nevertheless it's been awhile.

The rest of my family seems just as removed. All of my grandparents are dead. I have a brother, well half-brother, that I speak to occasionally, but every time we seem more distant. I actually wouldn't mind spending some more time with his kids, my nieces and nephew, but they live in Illinois and I'm heading to Idaho again. The rest of my family seems to stay put where they grew up. I'm lucky if I can stay in the same spot a year.

So why am I going on about all of this personal stuff? I have no clue. I guess I just need to vent. Sometimes I feel as though I am on my own, besides Moh and now Kalea. Perhaps I am thinking about my family because I feel the need to keep in better contact? There's something special about relating to people that knew me as a child. Whatever the case, this has been a very insightful post for myself. Sorry readers. I guess this was more of a personal journey.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

No Title

Death is pissing me off. I have no words today, others will speak for me.

3292 Dead, 24,476 wounded

Oh my broken lamb
I worry when you cry
Baby's gonna fetch ya
Horses in the sky

Though dead hands ring the garden
And these are violent times
And violence brings more violence
And liars bring more lies

Though we was born defeated
Worried, tired and scared
And monsters build mean robots
Launching rockets into the air

And the wealth of our nations
Fed on angel blood
And our cities shot with moneyed schemes
Built on twigs and mud

And our schools look like prisons
And our prisons look like malls
And downtown's just a sick parade
Where no-one cares at all

And our hero's all died crazy
Broken, poor or shot
Let's celebrate their tragedy
And sanctify the loss

And manifest the daydream
Like those who fell before
And glorify our small attempts
And hate ourselves no more

Blow words between these sucker's teeth
And bind these panicked hands
Lose your heart like a clumsy bell
Please be well

And all i true love
Is the light
In my sister's darling eyes

Horses in the Sky
by A Silver Mt. Zion

Sunday, April 08, 2007

That Memorable Spot

All right, all of you out there that view me only as a devoted father that tries his best to make wise choices ethically, environmentally, and well maybe even logically please read no further. Perhaps I'd like you to keep thinking of me that way...

Okay, everyone gone? Good. Now for my private writing.

I've been thinking a lot about my teenage years lately. I guess growing older does that. Teenagers need to feel the sense of rebellion. They thrive on the rush of doing things that are taboo or dangerous. I was no exception.

Most tweens and teens also have that special someplace that they go to "cause mischief", I love that term. For my friends and I it was the Pilgrim Road rock quarry near my friend Aaron's house. For several years it was our playground. We explored the caves around it, climbed down the cliffs, skated on the ice in the winter, picked berries along the creek, rolled boulders down the hill, and even built a rope swing near the quarry. But it wasn't all innocence. Since the quarry was still in operation, there also came a bit of *ahem* vandalism.

We started out spying on the workers. We had binoculars and would watch them from above. We really wanted t see where they kept the dynamite, but we never found out. One time one of the workers spotted us. We saw him pointing at us to another worker. Since they were down in the quarry, we could watch their every move. Finally one of them looked as though he was going to come after us. We knew the surroundings so well, we had no fear of getting caught. A couple times we even threw rotten apples into the backs of the trucks from our hidden cliff as the trucks drove beneath us.

After the spying came breaking and entering. We managed to get into one of the cabins at night. We ended up taking some Field and Stream magazines for the novelty of it, but that was about it.

Look at me, what a punk* Taken some time  high school

The worst came one evening we were in a particularly foul mood. I guess the heavy equipment just pissed us off. And we wondered if a boulder really could break the windows of those big trucks. The answer? If the rock or boulder is big enough. I believe that was the same evening that my friend Jason also took a crap in the cab of one of the trucks.

Did we ever get caught? Well, one winter day we were shooting fireworks off on the icy pond, when a pick-up came driving down the road into the quarry. We had a dufflebag of fireworks, the good kind, but had no where to run. The guy turned out to be one of the head honchos of the quarry. He started rattling off about the vandalism that had occurred, like smashed windows, picked locks, and then he said "slashed tires". We both looked at each other in this shocked way because we had never done any tire slashing. There were other vandals on our turf. He threatened to call our parents and turn us in, but knew there was no way to link us to anything, but trespassing. He also may not have even thought we had done anything because we were just a couple of young country kids who acted as though the acts of vandalism were awful. He took down our names and told us that if he caught us again he would call the cops. Yeah, yeah.

Oh, but we did return.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Spring? Cleaning

My blogging has taken a bit of a vacation while I do some cleaning and decluttering. I've even decided to get rid of books and cd's (which has always been tough for me.) We plan on moving in to a studio apartment/condo next (more later), so downsizing is a must. I've even decided to become a capitalist and sell some used stuff on Amazon. Here's my page if anyone wants to checkout my junk-I'll be adding more. I already sold a couple things. I may even get rid of things I regret (If the Cure imports come out, I've probably gone too far).

Hopefully I'll be out reading other blogger sites soon. Until then, ta ta.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

April: In Like A Lion

Ain't No Picinic Yet

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Has It Really Been Three Months?

Yesterday was 3 moons, today is 3 months for KIA's existence out of the womb. Wow. That's a quarter of a year.

Things with her have been getting a lot smoother. The colic has pretty much subsided, she has been pretty much been sleeping through the night, and the wonderful enjoyment of toys and observations has begun. What a trip.

To celebrate I conjured up a good ol' Great Lakes Snowstorm. Yeah it's like a blizzard out there, but the fire is so delightful. We really have no place to go so....

Lake Superior at it's Finest

What a difference a day makes

Sunday, April 01, 2007

.........Meanwhile, Back In The Northwoods....

Okay, enough about the future and traveling. One thing I have a real problem with is living in the moment. Maybe not just the moment, but the present. Today, however, was a nice Sunday. I finished off my book, made a couple good meals, kept a warm fire going, spent plenty of time lounging around with KIA, and took a walk with the dogs around the property and down to he creek to see if the signs of spring were creeping along. I must say, with all of the snow melt and rain we have been having, Fish Creek was a reddish-brown roaring river. To cross it this time of year I have to use a trolley. Great fun.

But besides the sightings of some new birds, plenty of mud, a few chives popping up (mmmm baked potatoes for dinner), the vibrant part of spring has yet to arrive. Plus there is snow in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday. Until then, if it does happen, I guess we will watch this last snow pile melt away.

Watching the pile dwindle reminds me of living in Illinois as a child. There was a parking lot near a Krogers that would pile up crazy amounts of snow. Then people would guess when the car would touch the ground. In Neil Gaiman's American Gods a fictitious town in Northern Wisconsin did the same thing, but only the car was on a frozen lake. Oh and there were.....oh wait, I'm not going to spoil anything. It's a good read.