Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fluffy Cardigan Corgi Grooming

My beautiful Solo (formally Indium's Element of Surprise) has a thick undercoat that gets wooly quickly, with a soft and shiny topcoat that gleams in the sun. He's such a handsome dog. We anticipated that grooming would be a handful.

But honestly, with the right tools, it hasn't been bad at all. He enjoys being groomed, and cooperates fairly well. It took me a while to get the right tools, but with them, it's a breeze.

The key is a greyhound comb. Isabel has groomed our dogs ever since we moved to Salem. While no one's a show dog, there's a deeply satisfying magic to taking three dirty dogs to the groomer, coming home and doing a super clean on the house, and then picking them up and upon return, living like civilized people. For at least a few days.

She helped me chose the right tools. When she first showed me a greyhound comb, I thought she was joking. "That'll never go through his fur!" I explained.

"It should," she said, with just the right amount of gentle shaming. I had been brushing him with a slicker style brush. She told me it doesn't get deep enough, and just glides over the wooly stuff underneath, resulting in... well, a really wooly undercoat.

This scary looking thing is a Greyhound comb.
His baby fine fur on his head behind the ears can start to tangle after just a few days. I added Show Shine Argan Oil Gel to the toolkit. Put a few drops on any tangle and it's out in seconds. Afterwards I spread a little bit in my hands and just run my hands over his coat (laughing, as I do the same with another argan oil product on my own hair in the morning).

Start with a slicker to get things going in the right direction. Next go over with the greyhound comb. Treat treat treat along the way.

Then, of course, I just must groom Jackson in a similar fashion. Problem is, the boy has almost no  coat at all, so it's really just a play of passing the tools over his back a few times with lavish praise and compliments, a few treats, and then we're done and everyone is happy.

One of my goals for 2016 was to do better with battling the never ending challenge of dog hair. So far , doing better.

Oregon, my Oregon.

Saturday, Scot led me through a wonderful of our favorite places and things in Oregon. He's done this the last few times I've traveled away from home for a week alone. He knows I miss him, and I miss Oregon, and whatever better way to get as much of both as possible at once?

Up leisurely, we hit Turnaround Cafe for one of the best breakfast's around. The small diner was packed, and after a short weight we were seated right next to the pie case. So tempting. Ordering the chicken fried steak platter, we noted we were going to split that. Usually this results in an eyeroll, and when the food comes, a bare plate dropped onto the table. Here, not a problem! Upon delivery, the platter was indeed split, perfectly down the middle, and pleasingly arranged on two plates. At first I thought they made a mistake and brought us two -- each plate was still overflowing with food. It was perfect.

We headed down to Eugene, hitting Cabela's looking for winter season closeouts on outdoor goodies.

The next stop was Territorial Seed in Cottage Grove. Just a little glimpse of the spring to come, we were talking and working out garden plans and what to focus on this year. So exciting... but about time to start planting seedlings soon! (Another favorite resource that's local is Victory Seeds -- who say the last frost date is 5/22. So back that up 8 weeks for when to plant your tomato starts... so...  March 27th. That's still a long ways off. *sigh*)

We love the valley, so driving and talking while we look at fields, sheep, mountains, etc. And Oregon gave us an intense demo of her favorites this time of year, such as driving rain, wicked winds, spitting drizzle, sunshine, and of course rainbows.

Turning back up to Eugene (dirty, dirty Eugene), we hit Fisherman's Market. The photo most easily found online makes me laugh, because they must've been taken about five years go. They show a bright, clean, well organized shop.  What we found was not quite the same thing.

Parking across the street (in front of the old Hollywood video) is easy. Upon entering, you're hit with a stench -- I'm always wary of a fish market that smells. A well kept fish market shouldn't smell. I mean there's that natural, from the ocean, fish smell... and then there's all that gone wrong -- and that's the smell you don't want. It's true that keeping a live-well setup for crab, mussels and the like makes that tougher. But still... I've been in many a place that didn't smell like this. Half fish market, half seafood diner, you can pick your live crab, or order from a small menu. We opted for the clam strips and chips, and the "house specialty" of Cajun Crawfish Pie.

The former was some food service skinny dinky clam strips on top of waffle fries. Lame. They do have unique and flavorful slaw (two flavor combo options). They also have a variety of flavored tartar sauces. We bought some of their cocktail (tastes very bright, fresh with a great horseradish kick), and the Bombay Bomber, which frankly is a creamy majesty which will be a great dipper for fries, samosas, shrimp, anything I can think of dragging through it).

Most disappointing was the "house specialty." It was an overcooked, dry pot pie with a mushy mass of dried filling. It was NASTY. And you get the pleasure of enjoying it, again and again, until it exists the building of your digestive system. (And we like spicy food, that doesn't bother us.) It's like it is fighting to claw its way back up your esophagus, escaping your stomach because it knows it wasn't good enough to be eaten.

Anymore, if Diners, Drive Ins and Dives recommends someplace, I stay away. Because most have performed poorly. I think the reason may be that sure, they may be able to produce something good when they focus all their resources and abilities in something that they cook fresh for the tv show host. But, you simply aren't buying the same thing. I would be surprised if these things were frozen, cooked yesterday, and just reheated (and thus overcooked) before being served today.

The tables were dirty and sticky. The chairs were sticky. The floors were worn and... sticky. The silverware caddy was empty. The fish case was about half empty, and prices were a bit high. We saw a number of people come in and grab live crab and sides of salmon, cut right then and there. So yes, you can get fresh fish there, and apparently people choose to do so. But we won't bother visiting again.

Scot and I both consume a lot of media around cooking, food sources, local business, etc. We keep lists in our phones about interesting places we want to check out someday. He suggested the next few stops.

Taking some back roads home, we hit Camus Country Mill. A third generation farmer of traditional and ancient grains, they mill their own locally grown, organic grains into flours and mixes. They have a cute little store out in the middle of the wide and flat meadows where sheep graze outside of Junction City. We had a great chat with the lady manning the store. We were lucky we got there before they closed at 3pm. We picked up some flour, an apple coffee cake mix, and some organic, locally grown grain based wheat pasta. YUM.

We said our next stop was the Country Bakery. "Oh, I hope she hasn't sold out already -- she usually does!" said the woman helping us out.

We wisked away to this little piece of heaven. The shelves were ALMOST bare. But as you step inside, you smell the most wonderful, warm cinnamon scent. Yeow. We walked out with our arms full.

Snickerdoodles - let me tell you, I'm always complaining that there's no snickerdoodle worth consuming other than my own. But... I'm now wrong. Hers are BETTER. A nice little pack of a dozen reasonable sized cookies. Er, I mean about half a dozen by the time we got home.

Honey wheat bread - a little more dense than commercial breads, this is flavorful and stands up to your pb&j, turkey, whatever you're going with it.

Hand made egg noodles. Delish.

Cinnamon rolls - Oh my gosh. Amazingly delicious. Again, as good as my own. They don't skimp on the gooey filing, and the icing on top is just the right amount.

We're making sure to swing by again next time we're in the area. And early!

It was a nice, meandering day that just sort of unfolded in front of us. We were home at the end of the day, with enough time to chill and then head out to round out our grocery shopping. I found that being away for a week, and eating out left me with the raging need to cook light, flavorful recipes. The fussier the better, I was dying to carefully prep and present. So there are some good yummies planned for this week.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Crab Report

Yesterday, Scot and I chose to rearrange our weekly schedule so we could play in the great weather, and then work today. We headed to the coast. After a quick stop in at Petwerks, we had breakfast at The Turnaround Cafe in Turner. (Best chicken fried steak. Ever. Anywhere. Period.) Then we headed for the coast.

First stop was Munson Creek State Park. A mile and a half off of 101 south of Tillamook, the drive back to the small parking area is nearly an off-road experience in and of itself. A sign pointing right to the park sites in the center of a fork in the path. Parking under the tall old growth trees in a tiny lot, there's a quick quarter mile walk on a clear path back to a 300 foot tall falls. It's beautiful, but shows the violence of the weather in past years, with clogs of fallen trees all about.

After admiring the falls and poking around in the ice cold creek in a few spots, we hopped back in the Jeep and asked, "Wonder where that road goes?" as we approached the fork again. Thankfully, we have a Jeep! We can now answer some of those questions for ourselves. :)

Scot had some off-road experience. Our Jeep is currently a stock Wrangler Unlimited Altitude, and we were by ourselves, and without a full self recovery toolkit. So our goal was just to get back a little further than we usually would feel comfortable doing.

Up, up, over and around the roads took us. Without a map, we turned left, consistently, when presented with options, so we could easily backtrack if needed. The path was always well maintained -- even if it had shrunk down to just wheel paths. There was one slide area that had been dug down into -- the Jeep passed with no problems, but the cut through was just about the width of the Jeep and no more.

We approached one low point with some mud and standing water, so we got out and tested it with a stick to make sure we knew what we'd be going through. The path ended just up over the next hill. Or, rather, it degraded to a point that we didn't feel it was wise to continue alone without a winch or second vehicle in our party.

Over, around, up and back -- we found a number of great high spots to kick back and hang out, and a few roads we had to say, "Nope" to until next time when we are better prepared.

After we'd had enough of that, we headed to Bay City, Oregon, to The Fish Peddler at Pacific Oyster. We had a fantastic lunch on the bay, blinded by the sunlight reflecting off the water. You can even sit at a table that looks out into their processing line, if you're into that sort of thing. When we were there, work was done for the day and it was all about cleanup, so we sat so we could admire the seafood counter.

Crab there was pricey. Cleaned crab was $14.99 for 6 ounces, or $42.99 for a pound. Do the math on that... the SMALLER container is actually cheaper per ounce. You're better off buying multiple small containers. *Eyeroll* We thought that was pretty high. But, wanting to compare, we bought a small container (along with their house cocktail and tartar sauce which is relish, and a load of french bread made by a bakery in Girabaldi) and then headed to Barnacle Bill's in Lincoln City. (Of course, first we had to stop at Tillamook Creamery for cheese samples, ice cream, and a photo op in the Mini Loaf Mobile.)

Barnacle Bill's still closes at 4:30 during the week, and still takes cash only. They do have a new sign, and some swanky packaging for some packed products like seasoning mixes, tuna, and smoked salmon.

Their picked crab was $38.00/lb. Their fresh crab were on a huge sale -- $4.99. WHUT!? We bought 3/4 lb of picked crab there, along with a ginormous ling cod fillet. They did a brisk business, as always.

Before the layer of cheese is applied. CRABARAIFIC.
Our goal was CRAB MELTS. What's a crab melt? Cut a soft french loaf in half. Spread an herbed cream cheese or spread like Alouetta, top with about 1/2" of picked crab, then layer on a mix of cheddar and jack cheese. Warm in the oven at 350 for ten minutes, then turn on the broiler to get the cheese bubbly and lightly browned. Cut and eat.


Had one last night with some red wine while chatting with a friend, and then did it again today for lunch.

With crab from two sources, we compared:

The Fish Peddler at Pacific Oyster has good crab. It was tasty and fresh, but was more expensive, and tastes as if the crabs are boiled in straight water.

Barnacle Bill's crab was better all around. It was cheaper, but price aside, it was much more flavorful. They clearly use a perfectly balanced crab boil that brings out the best in the crab. Also, the crab from Barnacle Bill's was much "lumpier," with amazing tasty fresh pieces of claw meat. We didn't see much claw meat in the crab from The Fish Peddler.

So there you go. We do these arduous tests so you don't have to. Life is tough out here in Oregon, I gotta tell ya.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Creamy green chili chicken enchiladas.

There are no photos, but the results of last night's cooking deserve to be marked in history, nonetheless. I made chicken enchiladas based on this recipe by Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) with a few slight changes.

  • MOAR PAPRIKA (hot and smoked)
  • Medium green chilis from New Mexico (in the chicken, and also in the cream sauce)
  • Cheese used was a mix of medium cheddar and Monterey jack, cuz that's what was on hand
  • Used Don Pancho's tortillas that are a cross between a flour and corn tortilla
  • Added mushrooms to the filling
So. Damn. Good. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Quilts are stories told in fabric.

Let me tell you about Marissa. (RIP you little monster.)

Marisa loved. Fiercely. Often, her love consumed what she adored. Or at least, took little bites out of it.

This included endless articles of clothing, a $400 comforter, a rug, and items even more priceless: quilts my Mom made for us.

In 2000, Mom gave me a quilt that we used for years as our bedspread. This quilt is well loved, and often washed. 15 years later it's in good shape, faded and soft, just perfect for snuggling with. But, it has a 4"x2" hole (thanks, Marissa), some other areas of lose fabric, and a few wear spots.

That wasn't the only casualty. Something piqued her interest along the edge of the log cabin quilt Mom had given me in 2005 right after we moved into our home here in Oregon. The result was a break in the binding, and a 3"x2" hole up to the edge.

In our living room in September of 2005!
When Mom saw it a few years ago, she was aghast. I could feel her upset, and could also understand it. But I explained that in our house, to honor something was to use it. So, that quilt had spent much of its life on our bed, wrapped around us on the couch, or covering our friends as they slept while visiting.

To me, it was a little endearing. To her, not so much. The time and attention put into a quilt like those she makes is incredible. This is something I can appreciate first hand, although I've only done much smaller, simpler projects.

I assured her the damage would be repaired, and in my eyes the result would be all the better. For instance, the oak hope chest we still have prominently in our home has a chewed corner, as one day Winston thought it looked like a good thing to snack on. While it is a physical mar, every time I see it, a smile breaks out as memories of the little stinker flood back. The hope chest is all the better for it. It has a history. It holds memories.

That was... like over a year ago that I set my mind on patching the quilts.

Since then, the act of patching the quilt loomed large. The solution had to be something that didn't look like a hack, and that added to the quilt's story. Quite some time ago, the paw print fabric was chosen, and I researched how best to do it, even querying on Reddit for ideas. Clearly well prepared, action was still stalled out of worry of doing it wrong.

Finally, this weekend I tackled it. As things often are, the reality wasn't as difficult as anticipated. First, I made a paper template to cover the spot. The binding remained in tact, just severed, so that was first connected with a zig zag stitch, knowing it would be hidden. I then applied the patch as a "wrap" over the binding, inserting some batting to fill the hole, and then hand stitching it on.

The results look great -- just don't look TOO closely at the hand stitching, I am really bad at that. But it's DONE. And the quilt's story has another chapter.

The very first quilt Mom gave me was also customized -- again by Marissa -- this time smack dab on the middle of the quilt. That one will actually be easier to patch, given the location, and my experience with this one.

The older quilt has some loose fabric and other things that I've fixed, and my hand stitching is getting much better.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Summer, condensed.

After returning home from Santa Fe, I hit the tomatoes with gusto. Ten pounds of San Marzanos out of our garden have become tomato paste. Of course, ten pounds of tomatoes yields only 4 cups of paste, but the process is very easy. And the result... is simply amazing. I'll never cook with canned tomato paste again if I can help it!

A few years ago I did a "taste test" in my own kitchen a la America's Test Kitchen. I had made a sauce with some paste, and it tasted very metallic -- and sure enough, tasting the paste from the can and it tasted... awful. Like metal. I set out to see if that could be solved. I found that MOST did, actually -- even pricier canned pastes. The exception was expensive import pastes in a tube. While I use this a lot now, if you need 4-6oz of it for a soup or sauce, that's not really practical.

In my canning adventures, tomato products are my favorite WIN. In most areas, a tomato in the winter is as rare as a unicorn. Canning tomatoes is the best way to preserve the wonders of summer for enjoyment all year 'round. 

This year I decided to make tomato paste. Here's the process I used -- simple! 

Oh. My. God. 

Essentially, I did two batches. 5 lbs of San Marzanos (with a stray Roma or two thrown in San Marzanos were halved, and thrown in a pot with a small amount of olive oil. Cook until they start to break down, with all tomatoes soft and skins starting to peel off.

Run this through a foley mill or food strainer (I use the former) over a large bowl. Stir in one teaspoon sea salt, and a quarter teaspoon citric acid (you can find this in the spices section; I had it as a result of cheese making. It's mainly to keep it acidic enough for a hot water bath canning; you can skip the citric acid if you are going to freeze the product).

Here's the magic: pour the thick "tomato juice" into a rimmed baking sheet. Pop into a 350 oven, and set a timer for an hour. (TIP: sit your pan in the oven, and pour the juice into it from there so you don't have to move a sloshing pan of liquid.) Basically you are creating a large surface area evaporator.

Stir the pan after an hour, then set the timer for another hour. Stir again. At this point, I had paste with a small bit of moisture still left -- but I feared if I left it at temp for much longer, I'd get burned edges. So, I just closed the oven, gave it a few minutes to return to temp, then turned if off and left it to cool down. The result was a nicely reduced paste without any burn.

The paste is a deep and vibrant red, with a pure tomato flavor unlike anything I've ever experienced.

Yes, 5 lbs of tomatoes resulted in two cups of paste. But it's well worth it, IMO. I did two batches, and it was quick and easy. These little freezer containers are the perfect size for a 4 ounce block of paste, to pop into a recipe. 

And this weekend -- our own little Leith style La Tomatina! Tomorrow morning starts off with getting about 30 lbs of tomatoes from a you-pick, and setting about canning some stewed tomatoes, tomato soup, and some tomato sauce. The sisters-in-law are going to join in! We'll cap the day off with some pizza on the grill. I just made two batches of Alton Brown's pizza dough and stashed them in the fridge to rise overnight. YUM. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Well, we have ONE potential herd dog in the family.

Jackson, Solo, and hit the road to visit a farm today. At Brigand's Hideout in Battle Ground, Washington, we took part in a Pembroke Welch Corgi Club of America (PWCCA) Sanctioned Herding Instinct Test held by the Columbia River Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club. While advertised as open to Pembroke and Cardigans, I asked if I could bring Jackson as he's a mix, and he was welcomed, too. Herding is not only a farm chore, but also a sport for many dogs of working breeds who don't live on a farm. This event is the first step in determining if your dog may have the natural ability to enjoy this activity. We were just doing it for fun.

The "test" is simple: in a moderate size pen with a tester/evaluator and three sheep, you work to see if your dog reacts to the sheep with herding interest and instinctual behaviors. It's a simple pass/fail event, and it means nothing more than your dog did or didn't exhibit the behaviors on that certain day.

It's was great to watch the dogs! I didn't count, but it felt like we were half and half Pemis and Cardis. Great to see so many Cardis together! Some of whom, like our friend Terra, exploded almost immediately upon entering the ring, working the sheep together and into a direction. Before entering the ring, the dog is placed on a long rope of a lead, with knots in it. This is so you can stop the dog by getting anywhere close and stepping on the lead. If a strong instinct was displayed, after the dogs got really into the sheep, the tester would stop the dog and try to distract them, or distract the dog with a flag on a long plexiglass pole. They'd shake, wave and smack the pole on the ground between the dog and the sheep. A dog like Terra would just dart her eyes around flag and tester, clearly saying, "Hey, I can't see my sheep!" She was amazing!

I learned that... sheep are bigger than I thought.

Other dogs entered the ring and were like, "What is going on?" But, with some coaxing, they would have an "aha" moment, and start running and chasing. They just took a little warm up.

Then... there was Solo. LOL.

Solo and I entered the ring as (un)lucky #13. And... basically, I chased sheep for 3 minutes while Solo chased me. Seriously. The tester asked me how much obedience training I'd done with him; I said just basic. She said that was surprising because he was all about focusing on me. He honestly did not care one bit about the sheep. He wasn't afraid of them, wasn't freaked out, but just didn't give a shit about the sheep, even when they kicked up and sprang off.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. "No interest," was the mark on his report card. Now if they'd been giving out awards for Mama's Boy.... well, he'd be the winner.

Hey, that's okay! This was just something fun and different to do with the dogs, and he had a great time traveling, meeting other dogs, and just being his handsome old self. A great day for Solo, period.

Another dog ran, and then I entered the ring with Jackson. Sometimes he's nervous in new situations, lots of people, or lots of dogs but he was doing great today. He was a bit stressed when I would walk away -- he spent much of my away time in Megan's lap!

In the ring, he was interested right away, but you could tell he was like, "Mom, am I supposed to do this?" We HAVE spent so much time stopping him from chasing other dogs, and doing... well, most of the things we were now asking him to do. We humans sure are confusing! But in just a few moments, once the sheep started moving, he perked up and started doing a bit of a chase here, a bit of a pursuit there, and eventually a few really good runs to keep everyone together. "He'd make a great cattle dog," the tester commented.

He passed the test! He has a nifty little certificate and everything!

There were multiple groups of three sheep penned up, and they worked "shifts" of a few dogs each. The sheep were moved around by a handler and a "real" working herder. The cooperation between them was awesome to witness; the dog knew what to do, clearly, but the handler gave specific direction that the dog would respond to. The sheep were twice the size of the dog, but the dog could easily stop or direct the sheep as desired.

Walking around before leaving, we saw another woman working with her dog in a large field wit some more sheep. Again, a beautiful activity to do together.

Here's an interesting article about the tester, Nancy Ward, and her facility, Brigands Hideout. They have a huge barn with an indoor agility ring.

Much fun was had by all!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Canine travel safety

Traveling with dogs can be a handful. For years, we just threw them all in the back of whatever vehicle we had, and off we went.

With age comes more caution. Working in insurance begets more caution. Flirting around the edges of dog events suggests more caution. And, every Facebook group and mailing list shares horror story after horror story of everything from poodles embedded in steering wheels to dogs who survived horrific crashes, only to escape from the car and be struck on the road while emergency services worked to free the driver.

With plans to work more with Jackson and Solo -- together or separately -- I took a look at my canine car safety plans. Which was easy, because it was essentially ZILCH. "Load up, let's go!"

Immediately, a tough challenge was at hand: I have a 2006 VW Beetle. Not exactly known for copious and versatile cargo room. Bought new, the initial intent was to drive her until the wheels fell off. I maintain that intent.

After searching, reading, measuring, considering, etc. I came up with a solution that, while not perfect, is about as good as its going to get for me in this vehicle.

Two collapsible soft crates that fit perfectly -- they actually wedge -- between the back wall as it cuts away for the hatchback and the seats in front.

I'm going to take a "test ride" with them this afternoon. They are both crate trained, and I've had the crate out in the house for a few days and we play in/out with it a few times a day, so I don't anticipate any issues.


It's not perfect, but it's better than two crazy dogs lose in the car.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Ugly Quilt

I'm back working on what is affectionately called, "The Ugly Quilt."

While traipsing across NW Oregon with my Mom during the Snowflakes and Stitches Shop Hop earlier this year, a jelly roll caught caught my eye. Ombre dots, a fabric series by Quilting Treasures, was busy, modern and enticing.

After completing all the squares from the shop hop, I was eager to start another project. Looking at various projects online, the possibility of paralysis was palpable -- I could look for that perfect project forever. Chances are, the choice would be a project that would then require more learning, more tools, more fabric... and ultimately just be one more thing that would never see completion.

Opening the (already growing) fabric stash drawer, I perused things for a moment, then just grabbed the roll, unfurled it, and started sewing strips together.

Like the kid that bellies up to the ice cream counter and asks for a scoop of everything WITH all the different sprinkles, too, I quickly found that too much of a good thing is, indeed, just too much. All that color, the busy dots, the fades... just TOO much. It almost causes motion sickness, I'm not joking.

But... I was committed. Besides, how does one learn from mistakes, unless you go boldly into and then through them? Deciding to make two square variations, each of five colors, the strips were cut down into large blocks. Opening up Illustrator, I played with some layouts and grid sizes. The aim was not for a specific size, just something big enough for a couch blanket.

On the one hand, I have no idea what I'm doing. On the other... I did it.

Fast forward until the next time my Mom was here... four months later. She, Scot and I went to Fabric Depot, and my goal was to find a fabric to flow between the blocks. Something sturdy enough to stand up to it, but not add to the cacophony. In my mind was a strong idea; but, as usual, Scot had a better eye than I did, and made a suggestion that I didn't quite see, but, frankly, trusted more than my own.

One step at a time.

It was put away, just stacked squares and the hunk of whatever-it-is-you-call-between-the-squares, until today. My craft room continues to be -- slowly -- cleaned out and organized. All "Projects Yet to Be Done" are stored in the open, in a special little basket. (OK, so it isn't that little; it's a laundry basket.) Approaching the basket, a voice reminded me to do the projects in the order they were received. Which, meant The Ugly Quilt was up.

Today, three rows. In another short evening, those will be married together, and the border completed. At that point I'll have a quilt top. A very busy, ugly, but well loved quilt top.

Then, backing, sandwiching, quilting and binding. All things I've never done. Yet.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rush R40 Tour stops in Portland, OR

About 30 minutes before curtain. Yes, seats filled up. Show was sold out I believe. 

Lessons learned earlier this week when Rush rocked Portland, Oregon:

1. Going to a concert stag is awesome. While some worried, I assured them that with ~18,000 other people there, surely someone would talk to me! The situation kind of comes primed with, oh, AT LEAST ONE THING IN COMMON. As suspected, I had no lack of conversation when it was desired.

And sometimes when it wasn't.

But also, your attention is completely free to focus on people watching. The air was filled with stories of how life long best friends met in college because they heard the other person listening to their favorite band, along with men of all ages trying to explain their deep love and devotion to the Holy Trinity to their wife/girlfriend.
My view from Floor Row 27 Seat 3 @ Moda Center

2. Floor tickets are not bad, but better if you are 6 ft plus. If I ever see a rock show in Moda Center again, I'll perform geometry to determine if the rise and run of a lower section seat would provide better viewing than the run on the flat from the stage to my prospective seat. I saw plenty, mostly thanks to their use of massive screens, but I know many around me -- shorter than I -- saw nothing but the back of someone's head.

Word is the sound mix was AWFUL elsewhere. Sounded good from the floor, but apparently not elsewhere.

3. Oregon is awesome. As the crowd filed out, the men behind me said, "Look at this! Everyone is so calm, friendly and orderly. What the hell, are we in Canada?" "We're close," said another. "It must trickle all the way down here!" I chatted with them a bit. They were Not From Around Here.

4. In this crowd, I'm nowhere near the oldest. (Yea!) And the draw is for my preferred demographic for window shopping: 45-55 nerdy guys. Niiiiiice.

5. This was my third Rush show, having seen the two previous (Clockwork Angels and Time Machine). It's a damn good show. Many people say, "Oh, I hate Rush," but all they have to go on are memories of early work -- and, yeah, if you didn't like Geddy's high vocals back in the day, I get it, neither did I.

For goodness sake, they got together as a band when I was 3. My first Rush album was Presto, in 1989 as a junior in high school, after getting turned into them by some friends at Rose Hulman (geeks I met through dial-up BBS). Rush's work through the naughtie's to present is filled with really rich wall-of-sound productions, silky, deeper vocals, and some awesome lyrics. This ain't your Daddy's Rush, you could say. But, there's still maniacal drums and more sound than you'd expect from one guitarist and one bassist.

Really -- their catalog has a little something for everyone, really.

6. I picked up the bass for a few semesters in college. It's the second instrument I wish were still here beside me today. Damn me and my short attention span.

7. Never stop doing what you love. These guys are 60-62, and they put on a three hour show and made it look effortless.

Pics from OregonLive:
Live review: Rush blasts through 40 glorious years in epic Portland show

Pics from other shows and a cute, but true, list of Rushisms:
21 ways to keep out on what may be the band's last tour

The night wasn't cheap. Floor seats, after "convenience fees," were $148. Parking $20. Bottle of water $4.50. The thinnest known-to-man but well printed concert t: $45.00.

And I'm happy to say that I got up and through the next day without issue. I'd call it all good. My boss did notice a pile of coffee and soda cups at my desk later in the day, however. But if a little rock and roll and caffeine are my biggest vices, I'm not doing too badly.