Friday, October 30, 2009

Have a Devil of a Hallowe'en

When I was somewhat bored last Saturday I pulled out a box of old photographs just to see which ones were in there. I then proceeded to think I should take some digital pictures of them. With this day and age of technology the easiest way to share your photos is not the old fashioned way. Also, some of the photos were quite old and faded with no known negatives and I wanted to store them digitally before they were too far gone to be photographed. We do not have a scanner so that was not an option.

I found several old photos and grabbed the digital camera. Some of pictures were of Troubadour when he was little, a few were of me when I was little. I even found some of us when we were first together, but we'll leave those for another post.

When I saw this picture of Troubadour dressed up for Hallowe'en, I knew it would be perfect for a post this weekend. He doesn't remember how old he was but it's cute all the same.

Whatever happend to mom's helping their kids make homemade costumes? It seems too easy nowdays to just go to the store and buy whatever you want.

One of my most memorable Hallowe'ens had homemade costumes. My brother Tiger dressed as an outhouse. He had taken an old refrigerator box, shaped the roof, and cut a door complete with crescent moom shape and it even had a toilet paper roll hanging inside. He had used paints and markers to make the outside look like wood. The same year I was a tube of Crest toothpaste. I had an ice cream pail as a 'cap' and I remember coloring the butcher paper by hand to look like the toothpaste tube. Wonder if there are pictures of that somewhere. Ahhh the good old days of imagination and homemade costumes.

May you all have a devil of an All Hallow's Eve.

- Au Revoir

"Proof of our society's decline is that Halloween has become a broad daylight event for many" ~ Robert Kirby

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Back in Time

We took the Ninja off consignment and brought it home for the winter a week or so ago and as Troubadour was putting the title away in our lock box, he started looking through it to see exactly what we had in there. Apparently we have all kinds of things. Titles to the other motorcycles, our marriage license from 1996, passports, mementos, etc. Well.... one thing he happened across was a picture that I had thought lost in one of our moves. I don't think I've seen it in 10 years.

But first ......a little background........

Troubadour and I met in Penticton, British Columbia the summer of 1994 when we were in our early 20's and shortly thereafter had the opportunity to be spontaneous and go on vacation to the Oregon Coast. A good way to get to know each other. His mother graciously lent us the use of her motor home and off we went. One stop we made was in Florence to wander around Old Town, and there we saw a little shop that took 'old time' photos complete with costumes. To memorialize the trip we decided to have our picture taken. Little did we know that we would be living in Oregon one day.

Here is a copy of that photo. It is sepia tone and a little faded. Troubadour took a digital picture of it.

I then decided to do a little tweaking with iPhoto and came up with the following version.

It was a nice surprise to find the picture and it felt good to laugh, reminisce, and walk down memory lane. I thought I'd share. I hope Troubadour isn't too embarrassed.

-Au Revoir

"Every man's memory is his private literature." ~ Aldous Huxley

Friday, October 16, 2009

Turning Over a New Leaf


No, not me.... Nissan.

Nissan has a new 100% zero emissions vehicle in the works. It is called the Nissan LEAF and should be available in late 2010.

Troubadour and I have a 2007 Nissan Versa 4 dr. hatchback, which we love. You have probably seen a picture of it when I did the blog on our canoe trip in June. We love the Versa but it would be nice to have something electric with zero emissions for commuting. Troubadour commutes 12 miles each way to work everyday, whereas I luck out with 3 miles each way.

The LEAF looks promising. Althought at first it reminded me of the Versa, Troubadour quickly pointed out the front end looks rather like a catfish. He says it like that is a bad thing.

According to Nissan's website, the LEAF is.... "100% electric. That means it burns zero gas and produces zero emissions. But, this is no golf cart. Off the line, Nissan LEAF performs like a V-6. Plus, there's room for five."

Nissan is claiming:
1) Zero emmissons tailpipe;
2) 100% electric - no gas required;
3) Competitively priced;
4) Speeds up to 90 mph;
5) 5 passenger, 5 door; and
6) Advanced airbags, premium audio, Nissan navigation and more. has a really good article on the LEAF as well, and it can be viewed through this link. Their article is reporting that Nissan is planning on selling the vehicles, but leasing the batteries. I believe this might hamper sales depending on how they approach the leasing process/terms and cost. They are claiming it can go 100 miles without a charge,that is good.

One can hope that Nissan has sat back and watched how the other manufacturers have designed their hybrids and gone one step further. If you have ever watched "Who Killed the Electric Car?", you pretty much know what happend to the first round of electric vehicles. It appears that Nissan is helping to bring electric transportation to us regular folk. Although they will not give a stated price at this time, they are claiming that it will be comparable to other family sedans. Does that mean under $20k, under $25k, or under $30k? We'll see.

- Au Revoir

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."~ Albert Camus


Friday, October 9, 2009

Motorcycle Show

Well, it is official. Troubadour and I are attending the 2009 International Motorcycle Show held at Qwest Field in Seattle, December 11th - 13th.

Last Saturday, while at coffee with the bike night crowd, Rick brought up the suggestion of a group trip to Seattle via Amtrak for the show. We jumped on board immediately. We have been wanting to attend for a few years now, but for one reason or another we never made it. This year the stars are aligned and we are going.

The show is rumored to be amazing. All those manufacturers, booths and bikes to look at, sit on, and drool over.

One of the benefits of living within 10 miles of I-5 is that Amtrak runs up and down the corridor. Rick's original suggestion was to take Amtrak from Albany to Seattle and leave early in the morning on Saturday, attend the show, and return home on a late train Saturday night.

Troubadour and I figured if we were going to spend that amount of money on train tickets and were already going to be in Seattle, we might as well splurge on a hotel room and stay overnight. We have always wanted to go to Pioneer Square and Pike's Place Market so this would give us a change to do that on Sunday before taking a late afternoon train and returning home. It isn't that often we get to go on an adventure.

Rick posted up the idea on the forum to see how much interest we could generate from the other bike night attendees and it was also mentioned at bike night on Wednesday. We are trying to get the wives to go with their hubbys. If they don't want to look at motorcycles we are luring them with shopping while the rest of us play at the show.

So far we have one other couple signed up to do the overnight. We found out the rooms at the Arctic Club Hotel are booking up quickly so went online last night and booked our room. We're locked in now. We opted for the cheaper non-refundable rate. This will assure our attendance. And....oh darn, there were only king rooms with jacuzzi tubs available. And the hotel has Starbucks coffee in-room. It will be tough but I think we can manage to stay there.

The hard part is going to be waiting until December 12th to go. Only 2 more months. We can do it. We will have bike night, Saturday morning coffee and sporadic group rides to tide us over as the weather allows.

-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, October 2, 2009

World Vegetarian Week

I recently learned that October 1-7 is World Vegetarian Week. I believe what started off in several countries on varying dates as a celebration of all things vegetarian went global to celebrate on the same date in 2008. And now every October 1-7 is World Vegetarian Week.

Troubadour and I have been vegetarian for almost 2 years now and lean toward the vegan side. We do not eat meat and only eat fish if faced with no alternative but beef, pork or chicken or to starve. I am sure a true vegan would rather starve but I am not into self deprivation and will have clam chowder if there is no bacon in it. We do not eat eggs, or most dairy. Still haven't been able to give up cheese and yogurt although I have tried some soy alternatives and they are pretty good. I have been thinking of cutting out all dairy to see if we can do it. We also have honey every morning in our coffee.

I have never been a huge meat eater, but used to enjoy a good burger, etc. The one thing that prompted us to change was all the mad cow, e. coli scares a few years ago. The hidden video in the slaughter houses pretty much sealed it. No downer cow for me, thank you.

We made the decision and I don't think we'd ever go back. I can't say for Troubadour for sure but I know I would never go back to eating meat. That isn't to say that bacon frying doesn't smell good, because it does, but I wouldn't eat it knowing where it came from and how bad it is for my body.

What most people that read this blog don't know is that I have Crohn's Disease. It is an inflammatory bowel disease that is a cousin of Colitis. There is no cause and there is no cure. I was diagnosed in January of 1991 at the young age of 19. I had emergency surgery (good thing I lived in British Columbia or I would have been bankrupt - that is right, didn't cost me a dime except higher taxes). The doctors thought I had appendicitis and when they opened me up that was not the case. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital and when I was released I was on 21 pills a day. The doctors did not know a lot about Crohn's at the time so I didn't have much to go on as a guideline for what to eat and what to avoid.

One day I ended up in emergency after eating a half order of Caesar salad. I was told that veggies were not my friend. In May of 1993 the doctors gave me the option of removing 8 cm of bowel or going on as I had been. I voted for surgery and had an ileo-cecal resection. I'd rather be in pain getting well than just being in pain. (yes, that is right, socialized health care did not say no to surgery, I had the option to get it, my choice, not the government). Luckily with the surgery they cut the bad piece out and reattached everything so no physical changes for me. Yeah.

It has been 16 years since my surgery and my Crohn's has been in remission. That is not to say that I haven't had my share of troubles here and there. When you remove something and make it shorter things have a tendency to travel rather swiftly and more often. Too much information, I know. The reason I bring this up is how it relates to our vegetarian diet.

Since going vegetarian my system is completely normal. I mean doctors have a hard time believing I have Crohn's when I tell them. From what people have told me, typical Crohn's patients are sick looking and thin and you can tell they are in distress. Me, perfectly fine now and so I get asked my secret. I just tell them I am a vegetarian and if I had of known 15 years ago how healthy and 'normal' I would feel there is no way I would have continued to eat meat. Of course, some veggies can cause gas, but I think they do that to everyone.

The other thing we have noticed is that we do not get sick, ever. No flu, no cold. Not sick. We work with people in offices who routinely get sick. Their kids bring home colds, they get it and bring it to the office and the office just keeps passing it around. But we don't get it. It is kind of odd really, but in a good way. Even my seasonal allergies were minimal this year. I didn't take any medicine during the day and just a Benadryl at night so I could sleep. That is pretty good for the Willamette Valley. Grass seed capital of the world. The slogan is if you don't have allergies when you get here, you will.

The skeptical people seem to ask the oddest questions like "what do you people eat?' Ummmm veggies, grains, legumes. Pretty much anything we want that is not meat. It isn't like vegetarians starve. We actually eat quite well. There are a lot of vegetarian meat substitutes. Morning Star Farms makes an awesome bbq 'pork" riblet. You would never know it was meat free. Great on a bun or with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. They also make great Italian 'sausages.' Tofurky, made right here in Oregon, makes amazing deli meat substitute. My cat even likes it. He thinks it is turkey lunch meat.

For those that think you can't bake without eggs, that is not accurate. I make homemade blueberry muffins on the weekends with soy milk and no eggs. They are light and yummy. I made them for company last weekend too, and they enjoyed them. You can even use bananas as an egg substitute. I have cookie recipes that take no eggs. And even an 'egg' salad recipe that uses tofu instead of eggs. It is great on crackers.

I know the world will never be vegetarian and I am OK with that. If you want to eat meat, go for it. I just wanted to share my experience with going vegetarian and thought this was the week to do it.

Here are a few facts regarding the health benefits of a veggie lifestyle:

* Vegans are approximately one-ninth as likely to be obese as meat-eaters and have a cancer rate that is only 40 percent that of meat-eaters

* The consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products has also been strongly linked to osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, asthma, and male impotence.

* Scientists have also found that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than their meat-eating friends; this means that they are less susceptible to everyday illnesses like the flu.

* Vegetarians and vegans live, on average, six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters.

* The American Dietetic Association states that vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; … lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.

If you have ever thought of going vegetarian now is the time to try it. Try adding one day a week as veggie day. Work up from there. See if you can do a week. See if you feel any different or if you miss having meat. There are many great resources on the web for recipes.

-Au Revoir

"Truely man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others: we are burial places! I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men." ~ Leonardo da Vinci

"Recognize meat for what it really is: the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal." ~ Ingrid Newkirk