Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I had the good fortune of seeing the Sara Bella booth at the Tour des Chutes post ride gathering recently.  Lovely merchandise made of plastic bags and banners that have been upcycled into tote bags, wallets, aprons, purses, and on into the imagination.  These items are well constructed for a multitude of duties with the designs from the "parent" materials whimsically built into the upcycled product.  I opened one wallet to find wee baby footprints walking across the interior.

Now I am a long time Sara Bella fan, having had the good fortune of receiving a Polartec baby hat from the original incarnation of the Sara Bella brand that included marvelous baby wear.  The hat no longer fits Resident Kid, but I've been holding on to it for perhaps sentimental reasons related to Kid's babyhood.  But them I am fond of hats and have quite the collection myself.

I asked Sara if she had yet considered making an upcycled hat.  "Yes!" came the happy reply.  There are design issues involved that need to be solved, but I look forward to the new fruits of Sara's lively imagination.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tour des Chutes

It is another crystalline blue sky day here in Central Oregon as I sit and listen to one of my favorite acts, Wild Rye, at the post-ride party for the Tour des Chutes. The Tour is a great event in the Livestrong tradition that brings together cycling and support for cancer care and survivorship.

Wild Rye does a wonderful cover of the Hanneke Cassel arrangement of Bono's "Mother of the Disappeared."* While the context for Bono's inspiration for the song did not relate to cancer, I was struck by the juxtaposition of the music and the sight of cyclists passing by with tags pinned to their shirt in memory of loved ones. The sight of these pinned to children's shirts tears at your heart. Those who succumb to cancer may disappear physically, but they live on in our memories.

* Recorded on Some Melodious Sonnet

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Heat Wave 2010

We just came through our first little heat wave of the summer. I think the temps got into the 90's (F) and the highest overnight low was about 61. My own lack of planning and/or laziness got the better of me and contrived to settle all my errands on the hottest day of that period. Otherwise, we engaged in our usual "chill the house" routine at night with its concomitant annual discussion of what the best way to achieve this task.

I am of the belief that you chill the house fastest by putting the box fans in the window to blow out and exhaust the hot air. Spouse likes to feel the breeze and wants the fan blowing in for cooling effect. I don't prefer this because it cools the one room the fan is blowing in towards but the rest of the house stays warm.

So a few years back, after a stunning (I mean stunning!) demonstration of the cooling effect of two box fans exhausting the house, we compromised. We put one fan in the lee window of the house blowing out and one fan in our bedroom window blowing in. Resident Kid could care less what we do, because no matter what we do during these times, the house is too cold in the morning.*

And perhaps it is. After all, I feel victorious if we get the house down to 65, and one night this week, we kind of overdid it and the house was a frigid 62. Yes, a little excessive. The boon of these shenanigans being that the house rarely goes above 75 as it heats during the day. I revel in the natural air conditioning we reap in this region and that connects us so closely with the diurnal swings of the season.

Occasionally we bemoan the extra vacuuming and dusting that comes with open windows and the pollen season can be annoying, but I can't envision living with an air conditioner separating me from the outdoors at this time of year. The connection is too valuable to let go. Besides, who could miss the opportunity to be awakened by the local deer herd trying to sneak past your window to pillage the garden?

* Which gives me another glorious parental opportunity to exhort Kid to "put on a sweater." In July!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Asterisk Pass

Yesterday the fambly and I and my bro and niece headed to Smith Rock State Park for a little hiking and poking around. The day was drop dead gorgeous with crystalline blue skies and not a cloud in sight. The serrated rocks cut the sky with a crispness in sharp contrast to another day I spent at the Park. But I will defer that story for the moment.

Yesterday was just about the perfect temperature for the park. Warm but not roasting in the sun and cool but not freezing in the shade. What a Goldilocks moment. The Mimsical creature got a little toasty, being a black critter, but a dunk or two in the river seemed to cure that ailment and she scrambled up and down the rocks to Asterisk Pass like a little goat. I didn't quite make the pass, being on the road to recovery from a chest cold a couple weeks ago the lungs were willing but not able to sustain the effort. So I sat in the shade partway up and penned a draft of this entry.

As I looked eastward I remembered another day we had spent at Smith Rock with some friends from Hungary. It was not a perfect temperature day, I think it might have been August and the sky had that hot hazy look to it and the edge of the rocks were smearing against the sky. A stiff hot breeze kept the air moving and things somewhat more comfortable than if the air were still.

We had just set up a top rope on a short pitch and were about to do some climbing when we noticed little wisps of smoke passing overhead. Clambering up to the top of the pitch (and the parking lot) we found that the park was full of dark smoke so we pulled up our rope and headed for the car (which was all of perhaps 100 yards away). Driving back through the park, we were berated by park personnel for lingering so long in the fire zone, while we wondered why park personnel hadn't check the series of pitches where we were climbing because they were so close to the parking area and were popular climbing spots for that time of day (being in the shade).

Later we found out that the fire started because a park employee was welding a fee box for the bivy area and with the stiff hot wind caught the nearby grasses on fire and it spread fast through the rest of the park.

Yesterday, about 15 years later, it was hard to pick out signs of that fire. But maybe I missed a few as my lungs labored to recover from the trek back up the grade to the parking area. The Mimsical creature provided invaluable assistance by pulling on her harness to give me a little boost up the tough parts. I thought she well deserved the ice cream cone (minus ice cream) to chew up on the way home.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oxygen Deprived

I ponder the time I spend in bed,
Coughing up a lung, a gore I dread.
Why can't I use this extra time
To put down words in prose, in rhyme?

I stuttered my starts, nothing would click
Until, days later, it started to stick.
I find my pen can take off again
I chalk it up to lack of oxygen.


It's been an interesting exercise in observation noting the lack of mental fortitude that comes with lung congestion. I've just wheezed my way through my first chest cold in I don't know how many years, but I would have happily gone longer without the experience. I realized that I was mentally glacial in some small corner of my mind when I had to ask questions multiple times because I couldn't remember the response. I'm sure that certain critters made off with a few extra meals because I couldn't remember if I had fed them or not.

I noticed the mental impairment because it came on quickly and I was getting frustrated with myself. I cannot imagine not noticing a cognitive decline. But, I am assuming a person will remember how full their cup was at the beginning. I understand that early stage Alzheimer's sufferers do notice a change of some kind and may act out on their frustrations until ... they forget.

Eat right, drink plenty of fluids, move, use your brain, breathe.