Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in the Colestin

Looking out our back door on 12/25/08

Here’s how we do Christmas in the Colestin, campers.  We love our kids and of course we want to spend the holidays with them, but given the historic amounts of snow in Portland, and a not negligible amount here with more in the forecast, we encouraged everyone to stay home. Arly Sue and Paul, however, were not to be dissuaded.  After many phone calls and solemn admonitions to be careful, they bought the last pair of tire chains in Eugene and set out south.  They made it to Ashland without a problem, but it was snowing hard on the pass and chains were required.  The $80 chains they had purchased that morning were refundable if they were returned unused, and since their car would never make it up our road even with chains, Sequoia drove to Ashland and picked them up. 

At the last minute, he decided to take my Audi instead of his truck so he would have room for their gear and presents.  Now the Audi is an admirable little car and handles a snowy pavement with aplomb, but it wasn’t really built for our road.  I leave it parked at the top of our driveway when the weather is this bad. So, Sequoia drove his truck to the top of the drive, made the transfer to the Audi, proceeded to Ashland, picked up Arly and Paul, and made it almost all the way home without incident. Almost. The hairpin turn above the last bridge brought him low.  He got half way up before the car fishtailed, slid sideways and almost jumped the embankment.  There they were, less than half a mile from the house, stuck. It was about that time that Paul realized he’d left his shoes in the other car and had nothing but his Birkenstocks.  What could he do but sit in the car while Sequoia and Arly spent the next hour digging, spinning the wheels, digging some more, spinning some more, catching traction, backing into another ditch, and digging some more.  They finally had enough and called me for reinforcements, which must have been a heartbreaking moment for Sequoia. Asking for help violates something deep in the core of his being, and asking ME for help is torture, plain and simple.

While all this was going on I was sitting by the fire all warm and cozy reading my book and drinking hot cocoa.  Upon receiving their call, I pulled on my snow gear, hiked to the top of the drive, fired up the truck and went in search of my intrepid travelers.  Sequoia had managed, by dint of massive effort, to back the Audi down the hairpin all the way to the bridge, so the vehicle was off the road. Once I reached them, he chained up the truck so we could make it back up the hill and we loaded the presents, gear and Arly, Sequoia and Paul into the front of the truck, which looked a little like 40 clowns piling into a tiny car.  I hopped into the back of the truck, settled onto the snow drift behind the cab and we headed home.  We made it about a hundred yards before being pulled up short by a large tree branch blocking the road.  I had just passed that spot not 30 minutes earlier, but the snow was still falling and, when a branch has to go, it has to go.  Whaddayagonna do?  We all jumped out and started heaving the branch for all we were worth.  After a couple of tries and much discussion, we finally got the road cleared. Arly declined the honor of the front seat and jumped in the back of the truck with me, and we bounced and shimmied home.  In all, it was a two and half hour trip from Ashland to our house, and another memorable Christmas in the Colestin.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More pictures from the Blizzard of Feb 08

Just to remind myself how much worse it could be

Call of the Wild

Another day, another hair-raising commute, campers. My car has been parked next to the house since Friday. This time, immobility was due to snow density rather than depth. It snowed and then rained then warmed up; all-wheel drive is of limited use in navigating cement. So, I had to wait until the road was frozen hard enough to be able to drive the car to the top of the hill. Solution? Get up with Sequoia at 5:00 a.m., bounce and shimmy up the frozen driveway, park at the top and catch a ride to town with my husband. I certainly could have made it out to town, but getting home in the middle of the afternoon would have been another story.

One of the nice things about commuting together is that we get to share the animal sightings. Last night we spotted a herd of about 25 elk in the hay field. This morning, we followed cougar tracks from the low bridge all the way out to the Colestin Road; big ones, too, the size of my fist. Wonder if the two events are related?

Well, it could be much worse. I'm attaching a photo of the aftermath of last year's multiple blizzards. We were hiking in and out for days.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost

Mucho Fire

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Colder than...

It was 8 friggin' degrees farenheit in the Colestin this morning, prompting remembrance of some of my favorite cold weather similes. (If the phrase in question employs the preposition "than" rather than "as" or "like", is it still a simile? Is there such a thing as an anti-simile? Does anyone else on the planet other than me care?)
Of course there's the old stand-by "colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra." But my favorite is one that my dear old daddy used to recite: it's colder than a well-digger's ass in the Klondike. One assumes that well-diggers' asses get mighty cold, particularly in the Klondike.
Here's a photo of your favorite music jokers performing at the Craft Fair. If Cletus's ensemble doesn't warn your heart, nothing will.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Where Have All the Dive Bars Gone?

Jon and Jesse and I played a show at the Wild Goose, one of the last smoky, smelly bars in town, a final holdover from all of the venerable old dives that were replaced by sushi bars and faux Irish pubs. Remember the Log Cabin on Main Street? They used to sell short beers for a dime during happy hour, dimers we called them. Pool table in the back, half a dozen Harleys out front and a tough blonde tending bar. And Cooks Tavern; how many nights did I lose in Cooks? Story goes that in the old days it was the union bar where the men lined up to wait for work. It had a trough under the foot rail so the waiting hopefuls could take a piss without losing their place in line. By the time I got to Ashland, Cooks had reinvented itself as a small town gay bar. On the weekends, we’d push the pool table out of the way and crank up the disco. God, I did I really dance to Madonna? It was no Studio 54, but a lot of drugs changed hands in the corners, and I saw more than one coked up college girl take her top off on the dance floor.

But that was years ago. What was I thinking all these many years later, playing acoustic music in smoky dive? You know the kind of place I'm talking about; Christmas lights hangin over the neon beer signs, laminate peeling off the tables, the ripped naugauhyde booth benches mended with duct tape. As of January 1, all public spaces in Oregon will be designated non-smoking, so this cold night in December was the last hurrah for the cigarette set and the air was thick. I tried to remember the last time I had seen people smoking inside. The floor was sticky, the toilets dark and dubious; in short, we were playing a genuine dump, and music was the last thing on regular’s minds. A group of friends had come out to support us and they whooped their appreciation like a bunch of stevedores, but the rest of sparse crowd couldn’t have cared less. A couple of old boozers sat indifferently at the bar, hollering to each other over the music. One old gal nodded in time until she started to nod off. A geezer wearing a tin sheriff star on his cowboy hat kept shambling in front of us, muttering intelligibly. A few students came in, assessed the situation from the doorway, and went into the next room to play pool, the sound of crashing balls clearly audible. We weren't exactly knocking them dead. But then, Jon would kick his finger picking into high gear with Jesse following right behind him on the banjo, I'd squeeze just the right wheeze out of the accordion, and the three of us would hit a perfect harmony. For one short moment the smokers and the pool players and the drunks and the college kids all stopped cold and listened. They listened. Just for a moment, we had them. It was heaven.