Go-ing


Dawn, all purple and golden and frosted. Being awake this early always makes me feel like own more of the day. That I am embracing a greater portion of my life. This is not to say I do not relish long mornings warm in my bed, but that I also relish not having those. I trade them for a pleasure entirely different, yet no less wondrous and sweet.

not that kind….

When I moved to Eugene, I soon discovered it is very bike and pedestrian friendly. I suppose this may be in part because it is smaller, has less traffic, and is ultimately much more topographically consistent than Portland. As it happened, I also developed a strong preference for the south hills area of town, which is very close indeed to my new office. Once all was said and done, I moved into a place that is just over a mile from the clinic. This affords me a luxury I have never before enjoyed; the walk to work.

This walk takes me down a busy street for a few blocks, but also winds through a residential area where almost all of the houses have some kind of noteworthy things growing in the yard.


I am usually in a hurry. Not for any good reason, just because I am. I drive, think, talk, and move fast. Walking affords me the precious opportunity to slow down and pay attention. I try to remember to do this anyway… I got a tattoo in the service of remembering this is good for me, and something I want to do, but it’s on the back of my neck, where I can’t see it, and so I often forget.

As such it makes me happy to know I have placed myself in a spot where a walk is always a viable form of transportation; both to where I want to go, and how I want to be.

“Wherever you go, there you are.” Buckaroo Banzai

 

It is tempting to believe that a radical change in circumstance will fundamentally alter the experience of reality. Turns out not to be the least bit effective. I still look at the world, surroundings notwithstanding, out of the same pair of eyes, bringing the same perspective to a new location. I am undoubtedly expanded by new stimulus, but still bring the collected wisdom and accumulated damage of my life along with me; I just demand that it cover more ground.

 

Eventually. If you’re lucky, you get to witness it happen…

Karl casting into the confluence of the North & Middle Fork Willamette

 

 

The Driftboat at Hendricks

I’m scared of fish; terrified, in fact. I know that this is a source of skeptical amusement for lots of people, and also that dating a fishing guide requires me to confront this issue to some extent.  Karl is a passionate defender  of the wild trout species native to the McKenzie river, and though the prospect of handing a live critter of the Piscean breed sends me over in shudders, I know him to be a conscientious and intelligent person. His opinions make sense to me in pretty much every other situation, so it seemed reasonable that maybe I could gain some perspective on this issue by virtue of his well-informed and considered view.  I saw it as an opportunity; maybe if I was exposed to fishes, I could gain some kind of appreciation for them, learn to conquer my irrational fears, and failing that, he was probably  well-equipped to protect me should one of the buggers prove all my worst suspicions true and move in for the kill.

We went out on Karl’s drift boat on the Lower McKenzie. We put in at Hendricks Landing at about 1pm on a day of high overcast and temperatures that wavered somewhere between “brisk” and “it’s MAY, goddammit.” Karl chose this section of the river because it is part of a study being conducted by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife in cooperation with the McKenzie River Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited. The objective is to try and track the native trout in the portion of the river set aside for their habitat and help determine a course of management for the waters that best serve the future of the McKenzie and the communities it touches.

Our aim was to capture, tag, and document the statistics of any native trout, known as the McKenzie Redside, that we encountered. Though he had put a rod in my incredulous but willing hands once before, and I’d practiced casting in the front yard to his encouraging refrain “You’re pretty good for a first-timer,” I was extremely skeptical that I would catch any actual fish. This was, I admit, skepticism with a tinge of hope… but I digress.

I sat in front casting into whatever waters Karl pointed me toward, marveling at the way one needs to read a river in order to be both safe and successful out on the water. There are eddies, jams, backflows, rocks, and still calm pools, all with their own kind of beauty and danger. I got to enjoy the course we set, while he had to be constantly vigilant not only for what might trip the boat, or catch my flies on a snag, but also for where the fish might be lying in wait.

He was busy making sure I caught something

After about an hour we anchored in a bend near a gravel bar that looked likely and I took up a dry fly casting rig. I’d been using a nymph and bobber, but it was a somewhat heavier setup and I was getting a little tired casting constantly. K kept pointing to “fish” in the water, but I could never quite see what he was trying to convey. As soon as he wasn’t busy with oars, he cast out himself. Almost at once he had a fish on. Once I saw the motion that indicated the presence of a fish, I couldn’t unsee it. He hauled in a smolt which he plucked off the line, plopped back in the river, and had recast with barely a pause.

His next hit was much harder. His pole bent at a far more dramatic pitch and he worked the fish far longer before getting it close enough to the boat to net it up. He hauled a large and lustrous native out of the river and held it out for my inspection. The fish was undeniably beautiful, but it was also thrashing in a desperate bid for freedom that sent me reeling a few inches back (there wasn’t really anywhere else for me to go in the limited confines of the driftboat) torn between honest admiration and utter terror. We tagged (#721) and measured the trout at 436mm (about 17.5 inches)  before we put him back in the water to scamper(?) off along his merry way.

#721

I did briefly reach into the cooler where we had him confined to touch the fish while Karl took his notes and recorded his stats. I realized that it wasn’t the slime on the fish that bothered me, so much as the unadulterated muscularity of the beast. These are creatures made entirely of motive force. They are remarkably strong for their size, and this is what I find so intimidating; they are much smaller than I am, but would totally give me a run for my money in an arm wrestling match. If they had arms. Or could breathe out of water. I mean, that would be a tough match to set up. The fish in a tank… me in some kind of articulated sleeve. A fish with arms…

Wait, what was I talking about?

After that catch, I had a clearer sense of what to look for in the river if I wanted to lay the fly down in a place where the fish might see it. I took to spooling the line out further and making an arc wider around the boat just past the rim of the shallows where we were anchored and into the deeps just beyond. After about 3 minutes of riding the arc, pulling the lure, and recasting the fly, I had a hard hit on the end of my line.

“I think you got a good one!”

I started pulling back on the rod to set the hook and was stunned at just how much force the fish was exerting against my tugging. Karl told me to let him run a bit, but my line was jammed and wouldn’t spool out so I just hauled on him with all my strength. In retrospect, it seems clear it was something of a miracle I didn’t lose him with my clumsy angling, but I did in fact reel him in close enough to the boat for Karl to scoop him into the net and bring him aboard.

“That, is a nice trout.”

His deadpan delivery was probably more convincing than any more effusive display would have been. We tagged and measured my fishy opponent and good old #723 came in shy of Karl’s redside, but not by a whole lot. He measured 428mm and was declared a nicer fish than most people land after years of trying, let alone their first go round fly-fishing. I credit the skill of my guide, wholly, for this outcome. I decided after some consideration, that I needed to record this victory, both over the trout and my own terror, by grasping the fish for the customary grinning-fish-gripping photo opportunity. This of course meant, I would have to touch the fish.

Heaving a deep breath, and steeling myself as best I was able, I took hold of the trout and hoisted him out of the cooler. He promptly thrashed with such force that he slipped my grasp and crashed to the floor of the boat. Chagrined, and not wanting him to hurt himself, I scooped him up again and took a firmer grip. Doing so, I managed to hold on, but it also more effectively communicated the strength I had found so shocking in competition with my flyrod; this was a strong fish.

This is happiness. Combined with terror. The kind that makes you think you might poop yourself.

Karl snapped a few photos, and we slipped him back into the river, tagged and ready for fishy action. We had a few more bites, but nothing else quite so dramatic. As we neared the pull-out, Karl let me row the boat for a bit, and I found that my capacity to do so with some facility pleased me almost as much as landing the trout had. And touching the oars was lots less distressing.

It was really a fine and wonderful day on the river. I expected to enjoy myself in the company of the boy I like, but there was something more fundamentally gratifying about the experience. I was cold and surprisingly tired after we were finished. Not least of all, I was slightly sore from having done battle with my first Redside. Doing so, I learned something about the water, and about myself. I pushed past the borders of my assumptions and saw something that was  indeed powerful, and intimidating in it’s way, but also beautiful, and singular to this place we live in. It made me care profoundly about protecting something that nonetheless scares me.

Some of the proponents of the continuing presence of hatchery trout in the McKenzie river watershed make the claim that inexperienced fisherfolk, (read here: tourists) can’t land a native. That they are too elusive, strong, and wily to be caught by anything other than a relative expert fisherman. That without these planters, who are slow, weak, easy to catch, and who compromise the habitat for other wild species, the tourist fishing industry on the McKenzie will collapse. I submit the following rebuttal: if a person who is utterly inexperienced, generally uncoordinated, and nervous about fish such that she is not even entirely sure she wants to catch one lest it be in the same boat as she, can catch a native, and on her first time out, anyone can.

It’s been a bumpy ride of late, and by the time Friday rolled around, I was starting to feel the strain pretty thoroughly. I haven’t been resting enough, or eating right, and that coupled with events being totally crazy all around me, I was ready for a break.

I had a guest for the weekend in The Boy I like. He came into town and let me play tour guide a bit.  I managed not to fall down at all, though I will admit, he caught me at least once, and maybe, technically, more than once.

We did some chores, had an impromptu lunch date with some folks I like a lot, wandered around town making fun of hipsters, and then went on;

Quintessential Date #1

A Hike In The Gorge: Growing up in Gresham meant that when you were too young to go to bars, and you were also too young to have your own place, you needed somewhere to go and do the sorts of romantic things you can’t do at your own house because your parents would frown on them (and I do mean YOUR parents, my mom was all ABOUT those things) To this end there was the drive in the gorge. You piled in the car with your CD’s and a desirable person of interest and off you went. Scenic make-out locations abound. It’s cozy, and romantic, and prompts good conversation. It was pretty much an ideal getting-to-know-you activity. And it turns out, even though I am old enough to get into bars AND I have my own place, it continues to work about as well as it did when I was a teenager, and it’s still a good time with someone I like a real lot.



Quintessential Date #2

Hug Point & Battery Russell

I am charmed by the fact that my favorite little cove on the beach is called Hug Point. That’s just fucking cute, and there is no getting around it. It was my Uncle James’ favorite place on the coast, and he took me there several times when I was young. I have nothing but sweet memories of this place, and it is both beautiful and important to me.

Battery Russell I like for weirder but no less compelling reasons; it is fun to scramble around on the top, dart and dodge through the mazelike rooms below, play hide and seek if it’s dark. But the real reason I like to go is for the acoustics, which are epic. It’s basically a concrete bunker with nothing in it, so sound just carries and rolls around in the best possible way. I like to stand there in the dimness and let my voice sweep through the structure in waves of sound like I cannot produce anywhere else. I’m showing off, it’s true, but it makes me weak in the knees at the same time.

The weather this weekend ranged from cooperative to amazing, so that was quite nice. We ate well, got lots of rest, and nothing tragic happened to us or anyone we care about.

Going to call this one a win.

 

 

 

 

First let me say Hawaii was beautiful. Unquestionably, utterly, beautiful. And I had a pretty damn good time. There were some… intense moments, but it was a truly memorable and positive experience. More travel for me, yes, that.

There were more shades of it here than e'er I knew

Cloudy. 31 (feels like 31)

 

VS

Partly Cloudy. 83 (feels like 85)

 

Yes. And thank you.

Aloha bitches!

I am an unabashed lover of all things car.

 From the time I got my first car when I was 16 up until this very day, driving has always been simply one of my very favorite things to do. Grumpy? Go for a drive! Bored? Same! Date? Drive in the Gorge! Sad? Drive to the beach! It’s the first answer to almost any emotional state I am in. It makes me feel adventurous and free, safe and in control all at the same time. It is almost the perfect venue for listening to music as it keeps me occupied but allows me to really attend to the music in a way I would not if I had other tasks to distract me. Most of my best stories are adventures from when it was time to go for a drive…

My Cars:

I’ve had a few, no lie. In chronological order:

#1 Old Blue 1965 Plymouth Valiant. Hand me down from dad with a slant six. He was super fast, but a total death trap. No reverse and the brakes went out on me while I was driving it. A clear head and the awareness that an automatic transmission shifted into 1st WILL slow you down if all else fails probably saved me.

#2 Godiva 1981 Datsun B210 Coupe

She was brown and shaped kinda like a chocolate chip. Starter went out and had to arc the ignition manually from under the hood with a screwdriver for the better part of the year. Powershifted that bitch through the clutch going out for almost that long. She just kept running, until one day, she stopped.

#3 This Car Had No Name 1983 Mazda GLC

That alone should tell you something. It was a nightmare from start to finish. When Godiva died, I decided to go FINANCE something and went to what was at the time the WORST POSSIBLE CAR LOT in town. Seriously, they got sued and lost HARD. They managed to talk me into this POS for something like $3500 (I had NO idea what I was doing, clearly) at 58% interest! Sweet deal huh?? The heat didn’t work, it wouldnt pass DEQ, 5th gear just sort of disappeared after a few days. At this point I was totally fed up. They started coming after me for payments and I was like, you can come get the thing. They threatened to sue me, I said Bring It On. They came and towed it away and I never heard another word.

#4 Lyrica 1989 Toyota Corolla Coupe

I loved this car. It was the first “nice” car I ever had. It was cute as hell and drove really nicely. It had a sporty stance; very low to the ground, and even though it was only a 4 banger had totally decent pickup. After the disaster with the GLCbeast, the  people at the Toyota dealership were really nice and were giving me a FANTASTIC deal at only 39% interest!! God, I was young and had never had parents with credit of any kind… This one had to go by the wayside after my former spouse crashed it into a curb at about 30mph during an ice storm. I contend to this day he did it on purpose cause he hated that car.

#5 Opal 1989 Honda Accord

The next car I had that was truly mine wasn’t until after aforementioned spouse ceased filling that role. This was another hand-me-down, but in this case it was from the boyfriend at the time. It was in fairly good shape, but he’d just bought a Stealth and had no use for a sedan anymore; he was all set with his flesh-colored PenisMobile. Anyway, it was a very nice car to drive most of the time. Apart from when the moonroof collected about a gallon of rainwater that would pour down my back when I took off after a shower without thinking about it. That wasn’t so great. Nice handling, liked the ride a good deal. This car was mostly great because at the time I lived over in Felony Flats and all the Asian kids drove around in souped up Hondas. This one (when it came into my posession, thank you) had an aftermarket spoiler and windows tinted with what appeared to be roofing tar. I put a giant purple daisy sticker in the rear window to alert the police that I was not in fact, an Asian gang member of any kind, I have never been pulled over so many times in my LIFE as when I owned this car. It happened CONSTANTLY. What’s more, the officer would invariably approach my window with a very stern look only to see me and become immediately kind of crestfallen as though inside they were thinking

“Dammit, that is just a white girl and her baby.”

#6 Datsy 1980 Datsun 510

Oh, Datsy.

Remember how I said I loved my Toyota? It was NOTHING compared to how much I loved Datsy. I OWNED this car. I bought it all by myself for $250 and then drove the CRAP out of it for about 5 years. I personally repaired the brakes, dash pad, replaced the instrument cluster, plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, headlights, replaced a broken window, swapped out the battery, and helped put in a new radiator. That’s RIGHT!!!

I was totally irrationally in love with this car. But she was super fun to drive. Nimble and quick. Stopped on a dime and got me everywhere I needed to go. It wasn’t til I betrayed her by moving to the top of Sylvan hill that she began to remind me she was only 3 years younger than I was and wasn’t really all that keen on hiking up that goddamn hill everyday. Having done it once (just once) on my bicycle, I kind of see her point.

#7 Klaus 1998 Volkswagen Passat

Remember how much I loved Datsy? Well, I loved Klaus even more. He was and is my favorite car ever.

I had a serious crush on this car. I got him custom plates. I put a roof rack and gear atop him. I cried then they crahed into me and broke into him (more than once, thanks much) He was the apple of my eye, and I miss him still.

He was beauiful and drove like a dream. Road hugging, agile, comfortable suspension. The interior had nice appointments, he had a moon roof. I took him skiing and up logging roads, camping and surfing. I drove him to Bend and California, around the Olympic Peninsula, and took him to Reno to see Neko on what remains the most amazing adventure I have ever taken.

And then, because I didn’t know anything about having a nice German car, I killed him. I didn’t know the timing belt would just… break. When I was a kid all the cars would start running like crap when they needed attention in the timing department. Klaus ran great right up til he started making a horrid noise. Then, I drove him for a few more days thinking “I should get to that” but unlike Datsy who I had some hope of actually being able to work on Klaus was too fancy and computerized. Even still, when he finally did die, he did it at home. He wouldn’t leave me by the side of the road, not my baby. Sniff. A testament to how much I loved this car is that I kept it, with fantasies of reparing him, for almost THREE YEARS after he died. I only finally gave up and faced reality in September of this year when I had to explain why I still had a car that didn’t run, but not one that did. And even after all that time, i still cried my head off when I had to let him go.

#7 Sven 1984 Volvo 240

This was only meant to be my emergency back up car while Klaus was waiting to get fixed. I kept him for almost 2 years, but hated him pretty much the whole time. The only thing I can say in favor of this car was that it always started and went. Oh and it also had AMAZING cargo capacity. Other than that, plththftht. Drove like crap, handled horribly, Thing was a tank, had no get up and go. Heavy and cumbersome with ungainly stiff suspension. I really really didn’t care for this car one bit. Hodie agreed. I could, and did, work on him, but it lacked the joy of working on Datsy, cause I didn’t feel that way about Sven.

 

Ironically, as much as I didn’t really like him, he’s a popular model and brand, so when I sold him with non-working windshield wipers, no overdrive, and a clutch that was going out, I got almost as much for him as I spent on my next much nicer and current car.

#8 Colgate 1991 Subaru Legacy Wagon

Unlike most Oregonians, I am not a Subaru fan, per se. I bought this one mostly because it was a REALLY good price on a car in such good condition and with such low miles. That, and the boy I like really likes Subarus. Ahem. He is toothpaste colored,(the car, not the boy) and a little beat up on the outside, and kinda tempermental about starting at times, but he he solid on the road and was a screaming deal for the $800 I spent. I like him well enough. He has personality, and he’s old enough I feel like I can and will enjoy working on him. His brakes are grinding a bit, in fact, so as soon as I find a relatively warm dry spot to work on that I will. I’m actually even sort of looking forward to it.

Driving is so much a favorite thing of mine, that I haven’t yet exhausted it. After all this talk about cars, I have yet to discuss my favorite drives to take in a car. Tune in tomorrow…

I’m in Seattle with Hodie visiting her godmother Allison. It’s been drizzly all day, but we had a pretty nice time nevertheless.

We went to H&M and I bought her various accessories because that is what I do.

Then we went out to Ballard and looked at the shoreline a bit. Technically, just Allison and I did this, because by this time, Hodie was interested less in scenery and more in avoiding the drizzle. Which, to be fair, was wise since most of the scenery was clearly visible from the car.

We then went and had dinner at a place called the “Hi-Life” and I can say that the only thing to recommend it was the lovely historic building in which is was situated. The food was underwhelming and overpriced while the service was just plain lousy. Ah well, it was a last resort after Hodie got us kicked out of the first place we went to…

Allison and her husband Michael suggested we go get some ice cream, and they were talking to the right pair of girls. During the course of this outing I kept making accidentally inappropriate comments. By which I mean to say, they were fine in context, I wasn’t trying to be nasty, but then M & A would snort and make them dirty. For example;

M: “You’ll want to take a hard right here.”

me: “Yes because god forbid I do anything that isn’t hard”

(snort, cough,heh)

M: “It looks like Oregon beat Washington 53 to 16”

me: “Yeah, they beat the pants off the huskies and now they’re going to cream the beavers.”

(baha, mert, ha)

Hodie was fairly mystified, thank the baby Jesus.

M also created on purpose hilarity of his own when he said:

“I’m better than average at that; you could call me outcompetent.”

A’s laughter was echoing off the buildings and we had to make sure she didn’t collapse in the street. It was wet there.

(heehee, haha, ahem)

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