Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dead Fish For An Ear Rub

There aren't a lot of cartoons or comic strips out there that give more than a passing glance, but Get Fuzzy has been a constant read for me for years. I love the banter between Satchel Pooch and Bucky Cat and their owner Robert, or as Bucky likes to call him 'Pinky'.

They have several supporting characters that pop in and out all the time such as Fungo the Ferret and Mac Manc McManx the cat from England. If you haven't ever read Get Fuzzy and are a pet owner or simply enjoy a good chuckle now and then I encourage you to read a strip or two of Get Fuzzy. They can be viewed here at or a Google search will bring several sites up.

I happened across this one the other day and it struck me as funny. Maybe because when I read it, I imagined a very strong British accented voice saying the last line or maybe because our cat Basil loves dead fish and ear rubs.

Appreciez et nouvelle annee heureuse. (Enjoy and Happy New Year)

-Au Revoir

"When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?" ~ Michel de Montaigne, Essays, 1580

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Shoulder Check of 2009

No, not that kind of shoulder check, but a look back to see where we've been and what is behind us. As 2009 comes to a close it is time to reflect on all we've done this past year. This was the year that Troubadour and I decided we were going to get out and do a lot of activities rather than simply talking about it while time slipped by.

We thought of all of the festivals and things we'd like to do and started an electronic calendar to keep track. We didn't manage to make it to all of the events we would have liked since sometimes there were two or three different festivals or activities scheduled on the same weekend.

I do however, think we managed to cram a lot of things into 12 short months. Let's see exactly where our time was spent.....

January started off with a rainy New Year's Day and we met the ladies of the local Women in the Wind chapter for a polar bear ride. Everyone rode to the coffee shop for a meet and greet but no one was adventurous enough to ride any long distances in the pouring rain. We did however get to meet Stacey and Stacy for the first time and are happy to see them and ride with them on a regular basis. It was a good way to start out the year. January also saw the move of Corvallis Bike Night back to American Dream Pizza. I believe the first night back saw over 20 people and most were riding. Not much weekend riding was done in January, but Troubadour did manage to sneak in a nice long ride with a group to Foster Reservoir (see side photo). I didn't have all of my winter riding gear at the time so did not attend. Somewhere in there we managed to complete our kitchen renovation as well. It was started over the winter break and consumed many an hour as we gutted it right down to the drywall and did all of the work ourselves. That pretty much tapped our resources and our energy so the year started off slow while we recouped.

February was fairly quiet for us. I do remember another bike night with about 30 folks showing up, and if I remember correctly, that is where we met our good friend Rick for the first time.

March: Looking back it appears that March was quiet as well. Troubadour became a moderator over at in March and has been enjoying it. I am sure there was at least one ride in there somewhere but do not recall exactly.

April saw the first of our festivals for the year - the Oregon Scottish Heritage Festival. It was held at the fairgrounds in Albany and we had a good time walking around and looking at everything. Quite a few clan booths were set up and Gary from Celtic Warrior Kilts had a booth set up. He made Brad's first kilt (see side photo). We also started hiking Bald Hill on a weekly basis training for our annual trip to Wallace Falls. April saw us seriously pondering getting me a bike since it had been 6 years since I took my Team Oregon Course. We also took advantage of one of the nice sunny days and made a ride to the coast for chowder. This was the first of many chowder runs to test and rate the clam chowder up and down the Oregon coastline. Good times were had that day, great chowder was not.

In May we started to get busier. Troubadour and Bolty spearheaded a newby ride and over a dozen signed up to take a short putt putt around the valley. That Friday night we did a pre-ride of the course with Rick and Saturday the actual ride took place (see side photo). We arrived home late in the afternoon and proceeded to spread 20 yards of bark mulch in the shrub beds. Where did we find the energy? The following weekend was the Oregon Vintage Motorcycle Show and ride. We attended the ride on Saturday and also the show and swap meet on Sunday. We could have gone to the Rhododendron Festival in Florence that same weekend, but motorcycles are more fun. Besides, Troubadour was able to get his '76 Kawasaki KZ 900 running and we rode it to the show. May long weekend saw the purchase of my first motorcycle - the Honda Nighthawk 250. It was great for starting out and gaining some confidence. I had to work it to keep up with Troubadour and it seemed a little shaky and buzzy at 55-60 which was worrisome. Lots of evening rides were had puttering along the back roads and learning to countersteer.

June: The last weekend of May/first day of June was spent at the Wallace Falls State Park in Gold Bar, WA visiting with Troubadour's brother, sister-in-law, mother and step father. Hiking was done and good times were had. We had our own private cabin this year. It is good to have your own space to retire to. The following weekend saw another ride to the coast for chowder. We also took the following week off. The first week's vacation we've had in 15 years. We decided to be spontaneous and take a motorcycle ride to California through the redwoods (see side photo). Yes, you can pack three days worth of clothes, etc for two into saddlebags and a tailpack. We only went overnight instead of for two days but we had an adventure and logged a few miles on the America. We considered ourselves lucky to find one of the only hotel rooms left in Crescent City and it had a two person jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. That helped with the sore buttocks from riding all day in the cold coastal weather. A day or two after getting back from California we heard about the Siltcoos Canoe Trail south of Florence and decided to give it a try. We hadn't had the canoe out in years and it took a bit to get our paddling coordinated. We had an awesome time and I'm sure we'll take the canoe out next year too.

July: We started July by selling the Nighthawk and a week later picking up the Ninja 650r. In hindsight not the wisest choice as I really do not like to ride it and I cannot force myself to ride something I just don't feel comfortable on as I would hate to make a fatal error. It took a few rides into August before I knew it just was not the bike for me. July 5th was also the first Western Ride in Days in Independence (a motorcycle show connected with their Western Days Celebration). Our friend Brandon was putting it on so we all showed up en masse to help him out.

July also saw our first trip to the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta. We drove to Eugene and took the free shuttle bus to the fair. We did a lot of walking that day. I could have done without all the pot smoke in the air but hey - it is the Country Fair - and we had a great time. This is the one festival that we will be sure to do next year. Troubadour bought a Utilikilt at the fair and was very happy with his purchase. Maybe next year we'll be adventurous and dress up a bit.

In July we also went to the Portland Highland Games. It was a much anticipated event even though we were in the midst of a heat wave. We both donned our kilts and off we went. We were disappointed with how spread out the games were and that the events didn't really seem to be taking place when stated. We did however get to see some pipers play which is always a good thing. I do not think we will go back next year. That same night after getting back from Portland we went to Da Vinci Days here in town to watch Ladysmith Black Mambazo play. There were a ton of people and although we were tired from our day in Portland we had a good time listening to the African music.

August saw us hitting the ground running. The first weekend we went to Troubadour's mom's house in Washington for a family get together/3 day weekend. We took the car as we knew it would be a long hot trip and we spent 20 hours on the road. The weekend after that was another ride to the coast for chowder and also our anniversary. August was crazy for me as my boss got hurt in a boating accident and so I was in chaos at the office moving court appointments and juggling things around his knee surgery. Mid August we went to the Scandinavian Festival in Junction City and the the following weekend we took the Ninja to Hillsboro to put on consignment or trade for a TU 250. That didn't go as expected and we ended up taking it down to Rod's shop in Eugene to put on consignment the following weekend. August ended with a visit to the grandparents. My grandpa hadn't been doing well and was put in a home. It was good to see him.

September started busy. My boss was still out of the office and on mass quantities of Vicodin so I was left to run the office and be everything to everyone. It was a stressful time but I muddled through. Labor Day weekend saw us at the All British Field Meet in Portland (see side pic) and we arrived late but got to see some nice vehicles and a little racing. We also went on our end of summer ride and on Labor Day my big brother got married so that was cool. The following weekend was the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire. Huzzah for the Black Knight. It was interesting to see all of the costumes and the jousting.

October saw us pulling the Ninja off consignment so that Troubadour could use it as a winter commuter. Good thing he did, as we have had record lows. October is also when we made the decision to go to the Seattle International Motorcycle Show. Thank you Rick for suggesting the trip and train ride. My cousin Chelsea, her son Carson, my mom and my sister-in-law all have birthdays in October so it was fairly busy. We visited family in Eugene then also met family in Newport to have lunch, celebrate birthdays and wander through the aquarium (see side pic). More good times were had.

November started to slow down for us. Not much going on. No obligations. We puttered with the house and Troubadour worked on building his tire changing equipment for the motorcycles. A few short rides were had to get photo tags but nothing too long. Over the Thanksgiving long weekend we tore apart a closet in our spare room so that we could build a walk in closet. It is good to get more renovations started. Not too much left to do on the house.

December started off busy. We tried to get a few more things in before year's end. We went to a Joe Purdy/Meaghan Smith concert in Eugene. Had yummy treats to eat and listened to good music. Stayed up way beyond our bedtime. And finally the much anticipated train ride to Seattle for the International Motorcycle Show. Sleep deprivation is not a good thing but weekend jaunts to Seattle are. The show was smaller than I thought it would be and I didn't get to sit on any bikes. I think I had more fun wandering around Seattle with Troubadour and Rick (see side pic) and meeting Bobskoot and Mrs. Skoot than I did at the show. We managed to have a few days off over Christmas so we framed in the new closet and even hung the drywall. Now we need to tape and crack spackle the seams and screw holes, sand, then paint and buy some closet fixtures, but we'll get there. Will be nice to hang clothes in the closet again.

Upon reflection it was a good year. Some weeks were busier than others. Overall I think we managed to do a lot more activities than we had in in previous years. I wonder how much activity we can pack, pile, squeeze and otherwise cram into 365 days next year. We'll find out.

-Au Revoir

" Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols." ~ Thomas Mann

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blog Monster

I've been feeling the need lately to feed the blog monster. You know the one I'm talking about. He sits there and looks over your shoulder while you are wasting time on facebook. You can hear his toe tapping when you are playing solitaire. He is giving you his evil grin knowing you are thinking about blogging but cannot come up with a post topic.

This is what I have been facing lately. I have been having a hard time coming up with blog post topics. In the summer we are so busy that I have all kinds of things to write about and lots of pictures to share but not enough time to post up anything. Now I seem to be suffering the opposite.

I go to work, I come home. The next day I go to work, I come home, rinse, repeat. You get the idea. Not to say that we haven't done anything lately.

We did go to the Meaghan Smith/Joe Purdy concert in Eugene and had a great time. The music was awesome and we even stopped at a quaint little Patisserie on the way that Troubadour had just discovered. Sweet Life Patisserie on Monroe Street in Eugene. If you are ever in town I recommend it. They serve all kinds of amazing baked goods and treats and supply wonderful organic coffee to wash it all down. I wish we had thought to take a picture or two of our treats. Troubadour did take a couple photos of the concert and a few videos but the lighting was not so great. The picture to the right is of Meaghan during one of her first few songs. Kudos to WOW Hall in Eugene for being a great host in a small venue.

I haven't been out on a bike recently. I think the last time was a few weeks ago when we rode down to Saturday morning coffee, I rode pillion on the back on the Ninja. Not a comfy position. Still perusing bikes here and there and looking on Craigslist too. I am having a hard time justifying the price of a Bonneville SE even with reducing the price by trading in the Ninja. Sure would look nice beside Troubadour's America in the garage though. The Suzuki TU 250 was still on the table as a viable option but one of the distributors at the show said they are hard to get and not even sure if any more will be imported by spring, maybe not until summer. That, and I can't justify spending that amount of money on a 250 cc motorcycle - it is over half the price of a Bonneville when freight and PDI are added. For now I shall wait and see what the spring brings. Maybe the Ninja will sell and something will turn up when I least expect it. I am worried about having to start all over learning everything again. It has been several months now since I've ridden. Troubadour assures me it will all come back to me - kind of like riding a bike (pun intended).

The holiday season is upon us and I for one will be glad when it is over and my favorite radio station returns to playing normal music in lieu of the 24/7 Christmas songs that it is now playing. How sad that I've had to change the station. That is okay. I have pre-sets in the car and I know how to use them. No plans for Troubadour and I. We don't celebrate Christmas and we have come to enjoy the peace that comes with not participating. It has been 5 years since we liberated ourselves from the commercial buying frenzy and madness to please everyone at once. Every year it gets nicer and nicer to just go about our business and observe everyone else caught up in the hustle and bustle. We prefer to show our appreciation of family and friends in little ways throughout the year and not through commercialism.

As the year comes to a close, I shall look back to all we have done in 2009. I have thought of one year end post to come. A wrap up... or reflection if you will. Stay tuned.

-Au Revoir

"Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul." ~ Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bright Bikes, Big City

As most of you know that read this blog, Troubadour, I and our compadre Rick all headed out to Seattle on Saturday December 12th for the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show.

We were up at 3:30 am, out of the house by 5:00 am and on the train just after 6 am. We were all very excited to be on our way and the train ride was swift and uneventful.

Upon arriving at the King Street Station we were greeted by brilliant sunshine and a cool breeze. We journeyed to our hotel a few blocks away. We stayed at the Doubletree Arctic Club Hotel. A former gentleman's club built in 1917. Check in was easy and before we knew it we were in our rooms enjoying warm chocolate chip cookies. I must same they were some of 'the best' chocolate chip cookies ever.

After a quick rest we walked to the show. We wandered around and looked at a lot of accessory booths and some bikes. Before we knew it, it was time to meet up with Bobskoot and Mrs. Skoot ( so nice to finally meet you). With introductions out of the way it was time to look around a bit more. Rick and I found ourselves drifting through the show while Troubadour was hanging out and getting photograph tips from Bobskoot. At one point the Skoots headed out and we traipsed around, just the three of us. It was busy enough that I didn't get a chance to sit on any bikes hence you won't see pics of me on any. Makes for a sad panda. Suzuki didn't have any TU 250's there. A local Triumph dealer was there but no Bonneville SE's were on display. We did learn to take two cameras with us. Since Troubadour had the camera I didn't take any pictures so I will credit every picture in this post to him. I think Rick may have a pic or two of Troubadour on a bike we can pilfer for a later post.

We headed back to the hotel and asked the front desk clerk for a sushi restaurant recommendation. He recommended Nijo. It was a short brisk walk and we were soon seated in a very nice restaurant. Much to our surprise we even hit happy hour. A few drinks and many tasty morsels were consumed. If ever in Seattle I would recommend this restaurant and the Avocado Fu egg rolls. Avocado, tofu and veggies all wrapped up in a handy egg roll. They were awesome. We didn't get any gratuitous pictures of the food, but since it was our first real meal of the day we were pretty hungry.

After a leisurely dinner we strolled in the brisk evening air and made our way to Westlake Center. While meandering we happened to pass a chocolate company and Troubadour took this picture of some yummy looking caramel apples.

When we arrived at Westlake Center Rick led us up to the monorail and before long we were on our way to Seattle Center and the Space Needle. Neither Troubadour or myself had ever actually been to Seattle before. Driven by lots of times, but never stopped. We appreciated Rick playing tour guide for us.

We splurged for tickets and rode the elevator to the observation deck. I can tell you that wind was mighty chilly when we went on our walkabout around the tower. A few pictures were taken and we went back inside to warm up.

We bought a coffee from the stand and relaxed. When going downstairs we wandered around the gift shop and looked at all the overpriced trinkets. No purchases made so we made our way outside and trekked back to the monorail station. On the way we paused to take a picture of this cool lighted tree located outside in Seattle Center.

We finally made our way back to the hotel after 10. Seems there was a birthday party going on next door to us. We were pleasantly surprised when the music stopped and all was quiet. That is until 3:30 am when they returned from the local taverns/bars/pubs/nightclubs or wherever it is 20 somethings hang out to get even more knockered. By 4 am Troubadour was at the front desk requesting another room. Luckily the night clerk was super nice and after trying a few times (darn key cards wouldn't work) got us a room a few floors up. By this time it was after 5 am and we needed to be up just after 7 to meet everyone downstairs and start our day. That made two nights in a row with about 3 hours sleep each. Good job we were in the land of Starbucks as mass quantities of coffee was consumed to keep us going.

I must say that Doubletree handled things as well as we could have asked. There was no hesitation on getting us a new room in the middle of the night. They brought us complimentary coffee and warm cookies by the fireside Sunday morning and also offered complimentary breakfast in their restaurant when I checked out. I would not hesitate to stay with them again.

Bobskoot and Mrs. Skoot drove us to drop our luggage off at the train station and then for yummy Dim Sum for brunch at the Jade Garden in the International District. Who knew we'd drive around and find a 'Best of Seattle' restaurant first pick. The food was really flavorful and a nice visit was had with good people. After brunch the Skoots graciously drove our entourage to Pike Place Market. Parking spaces were scarce so we said our goodbyes.

Troubadour, Rick and I wandered around for several hours. Looking at this stall and that. Troubadour bought a nice wool scarf and some raspberry pepper jelly. Rick bought some Rainier cherries and when we got chilly we went over to the original Starbucks for Carmel Brulee Lattes. Yummy. Needed something to warm our hands.

We wandered more both inside and out. We then headed over to the waterfront. By this point we needed some lunch so we stopped at Ivar's. There had been some chatter on one of our forum posts about a good place to have chowder.

The Chowder Bowl in Newport takes the prize so far, but a bunch of fellows from Seattle said Ivar's was better. Well, we tried it and it isn't any Chowder Bowl that is for sure. Mind you at the Chowder Bowl you don't have to share your chowder with pigeons and you get to eat at a real table with real dishes and it is the same price whether you sit on a patio or not. Thumbs down for Ivar's.

It was getting cloudy and starting to get darker out so we headed towards the train station knowing we had a bit of a trek in front of us. We managed to make it by 4 and our train didn't leave until 5:30. That gave us some time to sit at the train station before departing. We arrived at the station in Albany by 11 pm and after a short drive home we managed to get to bed by 12:30 am with the alarm set for 6:00. We managed to get less than 12 hours sleep over three nights but we had a great time. We'll catch up on sleep sometime. Next year we are thinking maybe we'll try the show in San Francisco just to be different. Will make for a longer train ride though.

-Au Revoir

"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." ~ G.K. Chesterton

Friday, December 4, 2009

Shiny Bikes and a Purdy Singer

Time goes by at the same rate every year but it sure doesn't seem like it should be December already.

Now that it is December we are getting close to the International Motorcycle Show in Seattle and are gearing up to sit on, look at and drool over all the shiny new bikes. Their website does not have the list of vendors for the Seattle show, but it appears that the usual suspects will be there: BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, etc. Unfortunately it looks like Triumph will not be there. That is ok. We know where Rod's shop is in Eugene and we know how to get there. It will be a nice opportunity to check out all of the latest and greatest models in person and actually sit on and compare models without driving back and forth across town.

I am hoping to take a lot of pictures while there and post up a report when we return. Maybe we'll have some pictures of the show, Troubadour and I sitting on different bikes, the train ride, the Arctic Club Hotel, Pike's Place, Pioneer Square, etc. I am going to try and make an effort to take more pictures as we don't always take the cameras out of our pockets. We hope to meet up with fellow bloggers and if so maybe we'll have some photos to document that as well. Rumor has it a few of you might be headed to the show.

Well, before it is time to look at shiny bikes we are going to see a purdy singer. And by purdy I don't mean southern slang for 'pretty' - I mean Joe Purdy the folk singer. I found on his facebook page that he was coming to Eugene on December 8th to perform at WOW Hall. A small historial performing arts center. He is an independent musician and all music is self-released.

Troubadour and I have been a lover of his music for several years now and couldn't beleive he was going to be performing here in Oregon. We were more delighted when we found out the ticket prices were very reasonable - as in $15 per person.

He has released several CD's including "Julie Blue" and "Paris in the Morning." My favorite song by Joe Purdy is "I Love the Rain the Most". This is not his video, just photographs someone has set to the song, but you can listen to the full song. His website will also let you listen to all of his music.

Another one of his great songs is "Wash Away", which apparently was played in the TV show Lost. Another favorite of mine is "Can't Get it Right." Here is his video for that song:

Appearing with Joe Purdy on Tuesday is Canadian Singer Meaghan Smith. Until we saw her advertised as a special guest we hadn't heard of her. We are so sheltered down here below the 49th Parallel. After some internet research we found we were really happy she was appearing. We quite enjoyed the clips of her music we discovered. Her singing reminds me of Stacey Kent.

Here is her video for "A Little Love":


-Au Revoir

"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without."~ Confucius