Thursday, January 27, 2011

Is it wrong to love global warming?

I feel awful about the ways in which global warming disproportionately affects third-world countries, but on weeks like this one, when Portland is in the 50s and the sun is actually out, I can't help but also feel a little bit grateful for the warming of the earth. I was not meant for the cold, grey days.

The Sun Is In Portland

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The music life

One reason I wanted to move to Portland so many years ago is I wanted to live in a town where all my favorite bands actually played. Turns out, I see even fewer concerts here than I did living in the South. Maybe that's because I'm becoming old and prone to early bedtimes, but I also think it's because it's hard to choose between all of the good shows. Lately, I've been making an effort, though. I saw two Wild Flag shows, and this weekend I'm going to see Tennis with Dirty Mittens.

But here are some photos from one pole that shows just what a typical week of concerts in Portland looks like.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter mornings in Portland, 2011

I feel older, calmer, more level-headed than my younger self. But some things never change. I still love a good space heater.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The sound of

In another life, if I couldn't have been a nonfiction writer, I would have wanted to have Alan Lomax's job. Lomax was a folklore recorder, and in the 1930s he and his father met Leadbelly at the Angola State Prison in Louisiana, where Leadbelly (whose real name was Huddie Ledbetter) was doing time for murder.

Leadbelly's voice eventually became deeper and raspier, but I'm partial to these Library of Congress recordings from the late 1930s.

Midnight Special

Governor K Allen

Frankie and Albert

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What I love about Edna Henderson


Edna Earl Henderson was the best Scrabble player I knew. I spent most of two weeks playing with her every afternoon back in 2006, and I don't believe I ever saw her play fewer than 45 points in one round. I usually made about seven or eight points in any given play, so I tried to learn from her. As my points inched up higher, though, so did hers. Eventually she was making 65 points on one play.

She had the thickest, most beautiful accent of anyone I've ever known, and she preferred to be called just Edna. That's because people - especially Southerners - were inclined to smush the two names together, til it sounded something like Ed'Nurl. She liked crosswords and her little dog Duncan, who would lick the lotion off her legs. She used a hammer to beat the spines of her crossword books so they'd stay open while she played. I am pretty sure I loved her the second I met her.

Edna Earl (there could be an E on the end of that Earl, I'm not sure) was Lynette Hanson's mother. She had spent a good portion of her life (30 years!) traveling around in a motor home, but by the time I met her, she was widowed and living in a trailer with Lynette in Byram. I was a teenager then, and she and Lynette took better care of me than anyone ever could have in Mississippi. That is to say, they loved me, and they let me know it every chance they got. A few years ago, they moved to Portland, and I followed soon after. They let me stay with them back when I was just test-driving the city, and that's when Edna whooped my behind at Scrabble every day.

She's been sick off and on for the past year, and I've been meaning to get over to see her. She lives just two blocks from my girlfriend's house. But for some reason I never made it over there. She passed away last night -- lying in her bed, just like she always wanted to -- and now I won't be able to ever see her again. But I won't ever forget her voice, her laugh, her smile and most of all her spirit. I always felt better around her.

Thankfully, I have a few pieces of her still saved in pictures and audio files. Even though she was several generations older than me, she never seemed too put off when I asked her to participate in one of my latest creative ideas. She was one of my first subjects for the MY STUFF series. And when I was trying to distinguish myself at the Oregonian as someone who could get Podcast material, she let me record her talking about the things she loved about Oregon.

Edna, I love you and will you miss always.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Earlier this year, I decided to stop drinking for a variety of reasons. Since then, I've had a few drinks, mostly for celebrations. Last New Year's Eve is a big part of the reason I stopped drinking, and so this year, I wanted to do something quieter at home. I decided to have a little champagne for the celebration, but the night was still mostly fairly calm (but fun!) I made this video of our in-house party

New Years Eve (2010 becomes 2011) from Casey Parks on Vimeo.