|Hello friends and neighbors! Ouch, I have been extremely remiss in keeping my
website up to date. Now that winter is fast approaching, it's high time to do something
about it. So here goes...
Karen and I live in Lake Oswego in a fine house that she bought a few years back. It's the the Lake Grove neighborhood of Lake Oswego, some eleven miles south of downtown Portland. As the name indicates, Lake Grove is both near the lake and in a grove of trees, mostly pine and maple. While the trees provide the neighborhood a certain rustic character, they also provide an enormous amount of debris. It's no problem filling up an large recycle bin once a week with an assortment of leaves, branches, pine cones, pine needles, and general organic detritus. On windy nights, I am awakened by the thud and roll of a pine cone hitting the roof. It is nice, though, on chilly evenings to dash out and jump in the hot tub. Life in Lake Oswego.
Typical of me, immediately upon settling in I searched out musical possibilities. While I've played some cowboy and swing and done a wee bit of performing, my main musical fix has been jamming a couple of times a week with a bunch of Gypsy jazz fanatics. Portland boasts an active Django scene and I've having a great time learning new chops. It ain't western swing, but it's sure enough swing. One jam is at a brewpub (I never met a brewpub I didn't like) and one in a funky coffee house. By the way, Portland is crawling with cool pubs and brewpubs.
As a side note, if you're not familiar with the music of Django Reinhardt, do yourself a favor and search out some of his recordings. He was active in the 30s, 40s, and, I think, into the 50s. Died fairly young, of course, like so many musical geniuses. Django melded Gypsy music and swing and the result is this great, acoustic swing sound, which sounds just as hip today as it did back then.
Work-wise, I'm substitute teaching in a few of the local high schools. Yes, I still enjoy mixing it up in the classroom with the teenage animal. And, while subbing has its drawbacks (like no benefits!), at least there's no homework. I'm gathering a bit of renown as "the yodelling sub."
I'm also doing some writing. Songs, short stories, articles. Last winter I took a creative writing class at Portland Community College which got me back in the swing of things. Nothing like a deadline to get one's juices flowing. Be nice to have a few new original songs to perform and perhaps record. And I just wrote a non-fiction piece on fly fishing at The Home Ranch -- you can click on it from the home page.
Last week, I dusted off my cowboy guns and am once again competing in the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting. Participants dress up in old time western outfits and only pre-1900 weapons are used. It's great fun and appeals to the cowboy in me.
The outdoor sportsman in me has also led to the world of fly fishing for steelhead in the rivers up here. This is one of most challenging kinds of fishing and I'm gearing up to give it a serious shot. Catching a trout on a fly is hard enough, but with steelhead, a guy can go many days with nary a fish to show for it. But when you finally do catch one, it's a major thrill. They're big and feisty. Wish me luck.
Finally, as if I need yet another activity, I'm putting in some time at the local cable access television station. I made a ten minute video on my guitar collection last spring and am crewing for some other producers. I hope to do some music pieces. We shall see.
This last summer season marked my third stint at The Home Ranch. But unlike the previous two seasons, I didn't handle the fly fishing, but just wrangled. The barn was my home away home and I racked up many hours in the saddle. The fishing I did on my own time.
Of course, I also played music and entertained the guests a couple of nights a week. I got to play with some fine local musicians, including my good friend and concertina whiz-bang, Larry Gulley.
While I'm moving in all kinds of directions, Karen is focused solely on her schooling. She is a full-time student at Portland State University working toward a double degree in marketing and advertising. When Karen sets her course, I've learned not to get in her way. She's due to graduate in summer of 2006, and looks forward to a new and interesting career in business. Stay tuned!
Daughter Kelsey has just moved to a new house in Arlington, Virginia. Her work in cancer research at Georgetown University across the river in DC keeps her busy. Somehow, though, she also finds time to put in a few shifts at the Rock Bottom Brewery, teach a couple of hip-hop classes, and sing in a ska band. No grass grows under her feet, you can bet.
While I can't say that I miss California too awful much, I do miss all the great friends that I made over the years at both ends of the state. But I will, of course, head south for visits from time to time, so you Californians don't be too surprised if I show up on your front porch one sunny day. Meanwhile, please keep in touch with emails, snail mails, phone calls, and smoke signals.
Adios for now,