Thursday, May 21, 2015

Babysitting in Portland

For several years now since the television series Portlandia has been on the air, I've had people suggest I watch it because "it reminds them of me somehow". Two nights ago I began watching some episodes on Netflix for the first time because I'm physically staying here in Portland so why not? Some of the sketches are good and spot on for me and some are like a Hieronymous Bosch painting, where they leave me with a sense of irony and ambiguity and wondering if I should be appreciating them while being stoned.

As I write this post looking out on a fog laden sky, I'm hearing from a neighboring house the occasional wailing screams of a baby. Therefore I have to share my favorite sketch I watched on the show which does indeed "remind me of me" and might be what I would have done with a baby.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My race is run, beneath the sun

In 1973 my parents brought home the newly released Angel Clare by Art Garfunkel, his first solo record album. I was nine years old and I used to play this record by myself in the living room until the grooves practically wore out. I'd stare endlessly at this man's face who was my parent's age. He seemed so very nice from the picture and his voice and the percussion of the instruments would transport me so that I quite forgot myself.

This one song though (the second one on the album) left me puzzled. I'd listen carefully to the lyrics and wonder why in the world would sweet Art do these things to this girl Rose Connolly. It wasn't until I read the WIKI on it that I understood the origins of this ballad. To think that there is a whole genre of music called murder ballads is noteworthy and something a nine year old wouldn't really understand anyway. My Irish heritage understood some deep connection though for which this song can still touch me the same way all these years later.

To listen, click here :

"Down In The Willow Garden"

Down in the Willow garden
Where me and my love did meet
As we sat a-courtin'
My love fell off to sleep
I had a bottle of Burgundy wine
My love she did not know
So I poisoned that dear little girl
On the banks below

I drew a sabre through her
It was a bloody knife
I threw her in the river
Which was a dreadful sign
My father often told me
That money would set me free
If I would murder that dear little girl
Whose name was Rose Connolly

My father sits at his cabin door
Wiping his tear-dimmed eyes
For his only son soon shall walk
To yonder scaffold high
My race is run, beneath the sun
The scaffold now waits for me
For I did murder that dear little girl
Whose name was Rose Connelly


Monday, May 18, 2015

"The best water you've ever tasted" ~ said nobody ever

This morning my friend Dick drove me to Ashland, Oregon because he had an appointment. He dropped me off downtown for my self-guided tour. Before he drove off, he mentioned some things to see and then casually said while pointing over to a communal water fountain "and to taste the best water you've ever had in your life, go over to those fountains." I walked around for about an hour and then I couldn't resist the attractive water fountains that were obviously from an earlier time (as seen in the photo). The water bubbled out in each of the fountains and so with my left hand holding my latte, I carefully bent down and tasted the water.  The immediate sensation was the fizziness that obscured the flavor but then this "Lithia water" must be an acquired taste. I can describe the flavor as carbonated boot juice, like it had been marinating and fermented inside vintage boots from World War I. Of course my curiousity was immediately sparked after the tasting and so I read the Wiki (click here) to know more about the interest and supposed health benefits. I took comfort in the fact that perhaps by tasting one mouthful of this magic elixir, I have arrested some deleterious brain aging and perhaps prevented dementia. You must try it for yourself and report back what you think.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Traveling between the space-time continuum and swimming through air

Riding through the Arizona desert late morning April 2, 2015 on day five of ten of a 2000 mile motorcycle trip – the air was warm and comfortably soothing. A bright spring sun was shining. The conditions seemed ideal for a perfect day but trouble was brewing.

I was with boyfriend Lowell and our friend Pierre. We'd been traveling for four days together, each on our own motorcycle. There is a distinct rhythm that occurs when touring over long distance and days when on a motorcycle. I could describe the feeling as some kind of meditative hypnosis and is the result of being outside for hours at a time, having all five senses stimulated and then being lulled into relaxation of sorts with the sound of the engine. This state of suspended hypnosis is my excuse for why I didn't step into action when Lowell told me at a gas station 30 miles south of Wickenburg that he was hungry. My response was “let's just push on and eat in Wickenburg”. When arriving in Wickenburg, I pulled up next to Pierre on his Harley and asked “how are you doing? Should we stop for food here in this town?” Pierre largely existed on only two meals a day at noon and six p.m. and when we stopped to eat at any other time, Pierre enjoyed what I referred to as “air sandwiches” and cigarettes. So of course Pierre responded with “let's push on and find a cafe just outside of town.”
It wasn't ten minutes later that I heard Lowell come on the communicator (a Scala G9 device on the side of our helmets), “what the hell, I thought we were going to stop for food?” then some minutes went by and again Lowell comes on “when did you two start making the decisions? I thought you said we're going to get food? What the f*&K?” Another minute and then a seemingly endless barrage of anger came through my communicator. I thought hard about what to respond with and nothing came to me. It isn't often I'm struck mute but my anger was percolating from my toes. Here I was just really enjoying the scenery of the barren desert and though my hunger was brewing too, I was putting that feeling at the end of my needs list.

One last assault of angry sentences came into my helmet and then I was suddenly filled with my own rage. It was like waking up from a slumber to find I had turned into a dragon and my hair was literally on fire. The surge of anger raced through me from the ground and I proceeded to shut off the Scala and rip it off of my helmet.  With all the force I could muster in my left arm, I flung it into the desert to the side of the road while doing 80mph. I no longer wanted that god damned device that allowed for communication because it was a conduit of pain. The resulting sensation was like stepping out of heavy cloying nylon clothes on a hot day -- I was free. I couldn't resist looking in my rear view mirror to see what Lowell was going to do. Sure enough, his headlight got tiny really fast as he immediately slowed to a stop.


I continued on at my 80 mph average with Pierre so far ahead, I couldn't see him. He had not known what had just happened as he himself was in that comfortable soporific state of riding trance. After about 15 minutes, I saw a motorcycle headlight getting bigger in my rear view mirror. In no time it was Lowell passing me and then from in front, he signaled me to pull over. It turned out he had broken his shift lever while traveling at about 150 mph to catch up to me. He extracted some tools from under his seat and did a make-shift repair that took about ten minutes while I honored the silence echoed around me as I studied the shape of the tumbleweeds. No traffic on this road whatsoever, highway 60 West Bound toward a town called Salome that I'd never been to. I didn't do my homework enough to know that there is absolutely nothing between Wickenburg and Salome. It is a 53.9 mile ribbon of 2-lane highway with an occasional abandoned building.


After Lowell's repair, he walked over and handed me my Scala device but for the life of me, I can't imagine how he found it. He said “put this on your helmet and let's hug it out.” I'll admit to being surprised at the state of perfection this little unit was in after the “flying lesson” it received. I apologized to Lowell as well and we both go back on the bikes and headed west into the unknown. About ten minutes later we happened upon Pierre on the side of the road, not even in the shade as he waited for us. Then as a group with me in the front, we pushed on and arrived at Salome, Arizona in the early afternoon.


Seeing the “Salome Cafe and Bar” sign was like an oasis after the miles we just traveled. The fact that the “Stanford inn” was closed didn't concern us. Salome is a place I felt could be used for the next Bagdad Cafe movie. The only detail about Salome that I found on the Internet is the notoriety of the town's founder Dick Wick Hall who was another stubborn Taurus like myself (his birthday being two days after mine)… born in 1877 and marrying a woman named Daysie May Sutton, he died young but spent his career writing in the genre of humorist.


The ensuing lunch was the quietest meal in the company of others that I have ever experienced. The inside of the restaurant was wedged just outside of the space-time continuum. A big open square room with probably 25 people sitting at a sprinkling of tables. These people ranged from law enforcement officers to retired couples sitting opposite one another and not breathing a word or even looking at each other. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and the bright sun was piercing through the windows as occasional murmurs from diners but mostly deafening sounds of TV news was the background sound. Even our waitress had trouble getting a full sentence out as we ordered our food. Several television sets were mounted from the ceiling in the corners of the room and all turned on to a FOX News channel. And though I didn't time it, the wait for food seemed interminable. When the meal finally arrived, it was a hamburger that looked like it had been in a warming oven since 1967 and tasted the same. At some point we managed to finish eating and though I wanted a piece of Apple Pie due to the suggestive advertising at the counter, I wasn't willing to wait in the uncomfortable silence a minute longer.


I took the opportunity after the meal to photograph an empty swimming pool next door to the restaurant. I couldn't help but listen to a young man sitting on a chair between the restaurant and the pool talking on his cell phone about personal details of his dating life, not caring that I heard every word. In the photo you can see the man just outside the fence near the building. This empty pool had a magnetic attraction for me. I posted this photo on my Facebook and a friend commented “Bikers Welcome, Swimmers not so much.” That summed it up. 
Salome, AZ ~ bikers welcome, swimmers not-so-much


To see the full photo album of our trip, all 110 pictures can be viewed by clicking here.












Saturday, May 2, 2015

Modern life best described by acronyms

Two years ago I heard what has become one of my favorite acronyms, FOMO. I don't feel I have this syndrome but sometimes say it in my head when I hear about people and their lives. Just yesterday when talking to my brother Ian, I had to tell him about it and I was surprised to hear it was new to him. I guess we're all getting old if we can't keep up with these crafty and helpful acronyms. FOMO has been written about extensively (just google it to discover for yourself) and whole areas of study are fueled by it thanks to the digital hand-held devices we all carry around.  FOMO comes from the concept that "you can imagine how things could be different" if only you had been there. And we all know how powerful imagination can be. That brings me to my second favorite acronym heard months ago, YOLO, You Only Live Once that we have a Canadian rapper to thank for in 2011 ~ pure genius.

stock photo used by escapefromcubiclenation.com 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hanging with a legend in Sausalito

Greg LeMond came into A Bicycle Odyssey on April 20th and I was fortunate to capture the visit in an interview. Recalling memories and history of the area in addition to walking around the shop, Greg provided over an hour of video but here is a distilled version in seven-minutes.


 

"LeMond was the first American man to win an elite world road championship (in 1983), the first cyclist to sign a million-dollar contract (in 1984), the first American to win the Tour de France (in 1986), and the first cyclist to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as its Sportsman of the Year (1989). In all “LeMonster” won two elite world titles and three Tours, as well as the Tour de l’Avenir, Criterium du Dauphine, and the Coors Classic, twice." From a VeloNews article.

Friday, April 24, 2015

When your heart beats in your head ~

I found myself on a ride up Mount Tamalpais last Sunday morning with some of the most fit bicycle riders in history. Greg LeMond and Tony Tom were two of us in a group of eight and I had to laugh. At least I had my GoPro mounted to my handlebars to capture the video below and remind myself of this when I'm old and filled with only wistful memories.

When the group stopped about half way (or maybe even just a quarter way) up Mt. Tam, Greg LeMond looked over to me and remarked, "you could benefit from an electric assist on your rear tire, they have them now." Well, coming from him -- I told him I wasn't going to be too upset.

Then I asked him "Greg, do you feel your heartbeat in your head right now? Because I do." And I wondered to myself if this was a prelude to a stroke.

I obviousy survived and it was one of the best experiences of my life to meet and ride with a legend I have been following since the 1980's when I was riding my own Nishiki on long distances up the coast of California from Santa Barbara.



Ride with Tony from Anna MacKinnon on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Piece of History ~ leaving flesh on the oar

The alarm went off at 4:45am which meant it was time to row with the Dolphin Club. Dragging the body out of the bed and jumping into rowing attire, then shooting out the door to drive into SF. The boat was prepped, and then as a team ~ all six of us rowers and the coach Charlie headed over to the South End Rowing Club (SERC) to have a pre-regatta meeting and sign up. Turns out the route was the same as last year ~ starting at Aquatic Park just outside the opening and rowing along the piers of the SF waterfront down to the Bay Bridge, rounding the "B" tower in a counter-clockwise direction and then coming back through the middle of the bay to ride the strong ebb.

In this annual regatta last Sunday (the 12th of April) we had the standard match race against SERC's Hurley barge and we beat them by over ten minutes. Once in a practice, Andrea Fabian stared down at her hands following the long row and she remarked "there is flesh on my oar (from her hands)" ~ true enough. We all leave a lot of flesh on those oars and then sometimes I ponder how much flesh has been left since 1888 when the boat was built. More history of the vessel can be found here.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Numb but Fun ~ Winter fitness routine in sunny California

Yesterday’s weekly ritual of meeting up at the Dolphin Club with my friends Kelley Heye and Andrea Allen for our swim in the bay, we happened to literally float into Joe Locke while he was swimming too. We had a little chat about his accomplishment last July (see article here). Joe said he decided to do his historic record-breaking swim after a bet was made one night with some friends. Photo below of Kelley with Joe. Kelley inspires me also with her business of physical fitness training and putting the “fun” back into fitness, her website here and we enjoy our own personal bests at the club. {photos taken on an old iPhone inside a waterproof bag courtesy of Kelley's ingenuity}
me under the Dolphin Club dock on the way back in from swimming

Kelley by the first swim buoy

Kelley with Joe Locke

Andrea Allen at left with me ~ we're not cold, just numb (54 degree water)

what it feels like ~ a bit distorted

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The man in the red suit ~ here he comes again

Time to bring out the annual INVISIBLE SANTA blog.

I'm looking for authentic Santa Claus but yet again this year, not quite finding the rosy-cheeked man but sure seeing a lot of interesting imposters! Just this morning I saw a strange 6 foot model of St. Nicholas in a PAWN shop in San Rafael next to a green guitar.


This is more my idea of what he would look like if I found him...