Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's been almost a year since we moved out of our trailer and we're feeling pretty settled into "the big house" as Stella calls it. The view here is good, the vibe is cozy and the combined effects of a cross country move, cancer, and parenting have taught us a great deal of appreciation for the space we have and the time we have in it.
This blog site was easy to keep up to date when we were living more adventurously. Putting a dramatic spin on things helped gloss over the difficulties of leaving all of our friends and family and trying to find our feet somewhere new. Lately there hasn't been much to tell and I'm real okay with that. I'm ready to settle in here for a bit until adventure starts throwing rocks at our bedroom window again.

So with that in mind, I'm gonna sign off. I've enjoying writing and it always warms my heart to think that people take the time to check in, but this was supposed to be a record of our attempt to have an adventure and it's stretched well beyond that.
Love from here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

tiff's gone for the weekend, leaving me ostensibly in charge. i can't say that i feel particularly in charge, more like a jockey hoping that the temperamental thoroughbred he's perched on makes it to the finish line without throwing him. (except that using a riding crop on a toddler is illegal). i've been trying to catch stella on my camera phone to keep tiffs maternal instinct in check. ( i keep picturing tiff at the airport, stomping her foot and saying "put me on the next plane to my baby!". )
it's been a while since just stella and i have hung out for a few days. as a two-year-old she is constantly engaged in a fully body exploration of her immediate surrounding accompanied by a steady and enthusiastic commentary on each facet of the experience. she's not shy about what she thinks. morning time is for "pushing buttons and hot coffee" (the computer) and afternoon is for "fixit bike-ride" (tinkering and biking). stella has her own sense of style and is generous with her opinions on fashion. nala d. dog, sasha rottenweiler and i are are looking nice this weekend in our hairbands and swim goggles.
we're enjoying the fall weather. opposite of kentucky, everything is getting greener as rain intermittently creeps in the same way drinking returns to recovered drunk; "i'll just have one a week, or maybe two or three...oh hell, gimme the bottle." but until we're caught in the full precipitating misery that is oregon winter, it gorgeous. (i.e. just a little tipsy)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Here's our new pad, an inviting old farmhouse on a hundred acre farm that backs up to the Mary's river and faces west. From the upstairs you can see the sun set over the coastal range at night. The fact that lawn service is included in the rental makes me think I'll wake up back in the trailer park and find out that it's just a dream. We are all enjoying the extra space, at least after a couple of days of trying to figure out exactly where Stella could be. I'd never realized how much easier child care was in a two room apartment.
I'm fresh back from Burning Man, which is never what I expect and always seems to pull the rug out from under me a little bit. The picture above is a steel sculpture called "Bliss Dance" and was my unquestioned favorite piece of art this year. This year, John and I spent most of our time rolling around on a pedal taxi and using a megaphone to create a radio station without a dial.
When I was a kid, I loved putting on costumes and playing the part. Burning man offers a similar chance to escape some day-to-day habits and ways of being. Or at least that's how I justify wearing fishnets and swinging around a cage at a dance club. If you are troubled by this sort of behavior, be comforted by the fact that I was sharing the cage with a psychiatrist and we've worked out how we feel about all of this. Trust us, we're doctors...
Tiff has finished 4 out of 7 weeks of radiation and continues to be casually courageous about it. We snuck in a whirlwind camping trip in the mountains this weekend between treatments and were rewarded with some phenomenal views of the Cascade range from atop Black Crater. The mixture of lava, snow and wildflowers was amazing and typical of the bizarre and beautiful landscapes in Oregon, a state seemingly designed by a drunk geologist.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In the gospel Matt (nobody who knows him calls him Matthew) one of the disciples asks Jesus what they're supposed to take with them to spread the word. I'm gonna paraphrase a bit, but the Big J tells him "takes your shoes, a walking stick, and your faith." Often the right thing to take is nothing. When we headed cross-country last year we went from an 1800 sq ft house into a 74 sq ft trailer (disregarding the shameful tipi incident) Over the course of 8 months we went from back-patting ourselves about our nomadic ways to drinking heavily in a trailer park. Our desperation lead us to Justin and Lina's ranch for troubled gypsies and our plans to be here for a month or two turned into seven. This place has been the first fertile ground our kentucky-blown seed has fallen on and we've started to take root in Oregon thanks to their family. If we hadn't been in the trailer, we couldn't have ended up here and here was where we needed to be for a while.
(photo: mary's peak summit, highest peak in the coastal range, with sarah and sebastion)

Tiffany and I are fundamentally uncomfortable with doing things normally. It keeps things around here lively (using a rickshaw to take stella to the playground or the shameful tipi incident for example) and makes for interesting conversations like "I'd live in a school bus if it had a deck and a hot tub." or "What if we lived in a pontoon boat and kayaked to shore for work?" The exception to our quest for novel approaches to housing is a particular farmhouse on our regular bike loop that we always always covet a little. It looks like the setting we would choose if we had to direct an autobiography about ourselves. And although I can't realistically cast a young Paul Newman as myself, it looks like we can at least get the house thanks to the rental section on craigslist. We move next week and for the first time in a long time we'll have room for guests, so come on; there's beer in the fridge and the toilet actually works. (cheers to all of guests this summer who slept in a tent on the porch and didn't mind me running the sewage pump while they showered)
(photo: the world's greatest campsite in northern washington)
After sarah and sebastion left, we headed up to Van Couver BC to intersect with my parents on their way to alaska. Van Couver is pretty amazing with the thousand acre Stanley Park in the city and incredible infrastructure for bikes, pedestrians, and public transit. Nonetheless, Tiffany and I independently arrived at the conclusion that Van Couver is strangely like Miami. Lots of small dogs and big hooters. (eerily big; at some point there's enough saline in there that just walking around qualifies as playing in the ocean)
stella with mild nose trauma but undaunted (unbridled even) spirit after a nosedive out of a restaurant chair

Sunday, August 8, 2010

my good friend amy told me that if i didn't get up to speed on this blog that i was going to have to join facebook, so i'm typing as fast as i can. i tried facebook once, and i couldn't handle the pressure. (i was also a little disappointed in myself when i found out that ALL of my ex-girlfriends are now vegan yoga-nazis)

when tiffany and i got married we decided that our one rule was "keep it simple", and by the time it rolled around we had shuttle buses, bagpipe players, and the event had turned into a three day nuptialooza. likewise, this summer we decided to "just take it easy" and have some people out to visit. consequently, we had 6 weeks straight of guests and manic travel plans that took us from crater lake to canada. being around friends and family for so long was a real joy and seemed to put life back on track after being temporarily derailed by cancer. we also got to see and do things that we would have never done if not infected with the enthusiasm of good company.

(picture above: austin and john making snow-based cocktails at crater lake)
a highlight of the summer was a flight over crater lake, piloted by our friend rob. i'd never been in a plane that small, it felt like "herbie IV, herbie learns to fly".

looking down on crater lake from 11,000 feet or so.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer has finally hit in Oregon. The clouds that have filled the Willamette valley for six months have been replaced by 14 hours of sunlight and ridiculously amazing views of mountains on both horizons. Everyone is outside and the ER has been full of native oregonians wondering why their skin has been turning brown.
We have been gleefully inundated with visiting family and friends. Right now Tiffany's mother and grandmother are here and I've had the rare pleasure of spending time with four generations of a family. There's a genuine enthusiasm for life that runs through her family and watching Stella get to explore the beaches and forests with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother leaves me quietly overjoyed.
Tiffany's grandmother is a rare breed of woman. I met her several years ago when she came to Lexington to visit Tiffany. I had gotten a chocolate bar out of the cabinet and asked her if she'd like some chocolate. She said "yes, thank you" and then took the bar and put it in her purse. Yesterday we were all looking out over the ocean on a trail and she turned around to realize that Tiffany and her mother had already moved onto the next viewpoint. She turned around and jogged to catch up to them. I am amazed by her energy. She hasn't put up a fuss about being shuttled around in a oversized and overdecorated van and always seems to have an interesting story to tell. I recognized her sense of adventure in TIffany when Tiffany and I rented one of those fringe-roofed, four-wheeled, two person, bicycle tourist contraptions to explore Portland's riverfront. Thanks to some traffic detours around a festival we ended up accidentally merging onto a highway with out a bike lane and had to retreat offroad down a steep hill to get back to the bike lane with Stella bouncing around in the front basket.
The reflection off of the lens of the lighthouse at Yaquina bay, an hour west of Corvallis

Tiffany and I have been wondering if Stella will lack the sense of family and connection that we both associate with a southern upbringing (I never considered myself southern until I moved out here, but everyone here thinks an accent means you live on a plantation and eat okra) A lot of the experiences particular to our geographic upbringing have informed our notions of "normal" in a way that seems uncommon here. I think about going to the state fair and listening to a guy with a megaphone attract crowds with an offer of "a free flying-weasel window-sticker and a chance to talk to a real-life Budweiser girl." At age seven, I wasn't sure exactly what a Budweiser girl was or why she was wearing a swimsuit, but to her credit I have always had a deep and undying love for beer. Tiffany contributes the example of her cousin's friend named "Mater", short for "Tomato", short for "Tomato-head" for a congenital heart defect that made his face turn red when he got excited. Even at work the differences here are fairly astonishing. So far, after a year in the ER here, I have only had one patient drunkenly threaten me for somehow insulting his manly dignity by sewing up his scalp. His address: Winchester, Kentucky. No kiddin'.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Understanding how ancient fishes evolved from sea to land is easy in Oregon where there is little difference between the two environments. Spring has been wetter than a mermaid's beachtowel this year. It's been wet enough that I've heard people that were born and raised here say things like, "hmm, little dampish these days". I still suspect that native Oregonians are born with gills. We've been spending time in the coastal range which gets about 100 inches of rain per year. (That's the equivalent of two wet feet of rain per day.)
The further north you travel along oregon's coast, the wetter it gets, but the beaches become amazing collections of surf-splashed eroded lava rock formations and tree-lined cliffs along the shore. We took some surfing lessons at cannon beach and after 3 days of trying, we can now get into our wetsuits without falling over.
For you parents-to-be, try to build the strength and composure you'll need by strapping a rabid ferret to your back and walking around town as if it were totally normal. If you've got a friend willing to talk jibberish through a megaphone at you, you'll be all set for toddler-times.
Haystack rock at cannon beach is covered by enormous starfish and a slow circling cloud of seagulls. Nala caught a nasty case of barnacles there.