Abducted

Seriously. That is the only possible explanation.

So, on behalf of Original Xtopher, I – Replacement Xtopher – will tell you what I’ve done since wresting control of his body from his pickled grey matter.

Soto vocce – it was stunningly simple.

Don’t get me wrong, in an effort to blend in, I’m having a glass of wine at my neighborhood spot as I tap this thing out. Apparently, ordering wine was an unusual act for OX – at least judging from the shocked reaction from every employee who has happened by since it was delivered.

Oh, well. Partial credit.

But after a wildly productive day, I needed to get out of the house for a minute. Just a glass or three. Y’know?

Why? Let’s start here: I’ve managed two days of longer and more intense workouts than the rest of the week.

That’s my only two 30+ minute workouts of the week – on top of my awesomeness as a pinch-hitting dog walker for my friend who left town late morning yesterday to spend the night in San Francisco with her man lover. I negotiated that transaction from two nights to one. Apparently urban canines require four walks per day. Who knew?

But I can’t brag too much about that feat. First, because if they get four walks a day, how did I still end up doing five walks after talking her down a night?!? But secondly, my entire “I don’t have two days of dog walking in me” gambit was supposed to result in them not going at all, not falling back to one night versus two.

Oh well, at least I won the unmentioned-until-I-resisted third dog situation! That would have been a trip to the pound, for sure! Apparently, her man lover has a dog, which I was just supposed to know when the question first came up. No, thank you. Also, wrong!

So, on top of actual exercise, go ahead and pile on 13 miles of walking in a 24 hour period. One of those dogs likes to hustle!

Yeah, yeah…only 3.2 miles of walking per day on average, but that number absolutely rose dramatically within a 24-hour period of Dog Uncling.

Regardless, I would have been active in some way, shape or form this weekend. It is, after all, our last weekend of 80 degree weather of the year. Allegedly.

That said…today was a day of – I’m gonna say it – epic accomplishment.

Exercise and self-care: check

Good friending (ish) and doggie day care: check

But! On top of those accomplishments I:

Wrote (am literally writing something right now).

I cooked – for myself! And that’s literally my least favorite person to cook for.

Just put a pin in that problematic statement. I’d say my therapist and I will get into it eventually, but they’re in their early 30s, so it’ll probably be whatever partner eventually succeeds them. In 25 years or so, once we’ve worked past all the hide-and-seek traumas of growing up in the suburbs in the 70s and 80s.

I mean, seriously…why was I never caught before the Ollie-Ollie-oxen-free?!?

Neverthemess…

Going into the weekend, OX still had both of his HelloFresh meals to prepare. How he survived this long before I managed to take over, well, frankly…it stuns.

Replacement Xtopher to the rescue!

I managed a riff on Portland’s brunch culture today by jarring OX into consciousness at 8 am on a Sunday – no easy feat – to walk the adoptive doggos. After that, I came home and worked in a workout consisting of two 10 minute strength workouts, a 20 minute climb ride, 5 minute cool down ride and at last, a 5 minute stretch.

Very nice, very nice.

But, of course…I was famished! Somehow, though, it was also time to walk the doggos again. Once I returned though…food!

I’d had a banana pre-first walk. A coffee on the way back, iced…duh. And was quite excited to kill one of my two HelloFresh recipes of the week. I figured preparing one today would give me food now and lunch Monday. Preparing the other tomorrow – or Tuesday – would give me dinner one other night and an additional lunch.

My next HelloFresh box arrives Tuesday. So, yes…I’m behind. Also, out of nowhere today I made a pork loin and red potatoes. Now I have four additional meals in the meal prep pipeline for the coming week!

And I notoriously loathe leftovers. These all just happen to fall into a starch and protein loophole, though. Huzzah!

On top of that late-in-the-weekend productivity, I also repotted some plants that needed a freer range. I’d recently mentioned this in a post winking at my viability as a mate – having succeeded at being able to keep a plant alive for a year and whatnot.

Low bar.

This was a “low key/thought I’d finally knock it off my to do list task going into the weekend” type of task. Repot some jade plants and a Christmas Cactus that so needed it. Y’know?

However, after answering an assertive knock at my door last night, I ended up with a more pressing repotting candidate. My neighbor – in what I’m assuming was a coke-fueled bit of gregariousness – had knocked at my and my immediate neighbor’s (who just happens to be the HOA President) door. Upon answering, I was greeted with a three foot money tree plant and two smaller plants and told to choose one.

Being a listener, I heard him say the money tree was for his girlfriend. Of the two remaining plants, I chose the variety I didn’t already own. Logic, right? Here’s a pic of the new boy in his for-now home:

A lovely palm, no? I assume it must be highly desirable, since Myrtle immediately knocked it over and tried to eat it.

You can just make out the spider plant babies I need to root out above the new palm. Since I had gone into the weekend planning to repot my Christmas Cactus and two jade plants who have shared one pot long enough, I wasn’t surprised to find myself reporting plants.

That said, I managed to repot my Christmas Cactus and this palm – into a heavier pot so Myrtle didn’t trample it – late this afternoon.

Christina Cactus makes me happy. My mother first gifted her to me in this mug five or six years ago:

Beary cute, right?

After a couple years there, Christina needed to move into bigger digs. She ended up here –

But only for three years or so. Today, she graduated to the big pot you see above.

All that said, I can’t brag – and I assume this is an OX throwback – about the plantings I accomplished without self- owning those I did not. You see, I should have repotted my Jade Twins –

– who desperately need extra space. Currently, they share a spot in a pot. But, given my mixed bag success with 3” potted plants I buy in a grocery, I am somewhat surprised by these two plants’ success. Still, it’s time they get to stretch their roots. Time to repot. The thing is, after repotting Christina and the new palm, I only have one more size-appropriate pot for the jades. It didn’t make sense to repot one and not both.

Ergo…proChristination wins!

Not that the current repotting-palooza didn’t require some plant relocations that make me…nervous:

Olivier and another 3” near-death Freddy’s purchase – who has resurrected quite nicely – has to move into my bedroom window to facilitate the new plant and new home for Christina Christmas Cactus. Mind you, the space around the inverted pot propping up Olivier will eventually be obscured by a repotted jade and who knows what else!

Stand by for that.

In the meantime, I’ll run by Freddy’s and find a second pot for the second jade plant at some point this week. Until then, they are just gonna have to chill and allow me to know what’s best.

But that’s Future Xtopher’s problem. Just like all this abwork I did yesterday and today. That oughta make getting out of bed tomorrow…fun.

Good luck, Future Xtopher!

Abducted

Dispatch From the Peoples’ Republic of Portland

Did I put that apostrophe in the correct place? I wonder if I’ll change it – or more to the point, how many times I’ll change it – before I post this.

See? This was gonna be a quick post because I feel bad that I haven’t written in a while and here I am, letting my neurosis dither on and on for 200 words. <face palm>

Anyway, one of the things Portlanders do well – especially natives like me – is passive/aggressive behaviors. Case in point, my building has new plantings around its front entrance.

Olive trees, no less. RIP: Olive. Update: Olivier is doing well, although Myrtle is munching his leaves like she’s part goat.

How is olive trees at my front door passive/aggressive? Well, you have to pull back the curtain – or column, in this case – a bit to understand.

You see, those plantings were strictly passive/aggressive self-defense. Specifically, the plants take up a fairly private camping area for our randomly occurring houseless neighbors. The cute little bike sculptures attached to the bike rack ensure no one opts for the “close enough” next best option.

The inspo for this idea is becoming more and more popular in the urban core of the city. There’s at least a dozen that have popped up on or near the three to four blocks framing the park in front of my building.

Go another block or two away from the North Park Blocks and there’s even more. An art gallery on the corner of Broadway probably has the oldest – and most successful – crop of planters. They’ve been there for over two years and the plants are thriving on the busiest N/S street in downtown.

Go another block further across Broadway and you have businesses on the Transit Mall lining their sidewalks with planters to keep the tents away and the foot traffic customers coming.

It’s not always successful. The art gallery – what, it’s Portland…we have a lot of art shit around here, ok?!? – on the corner diagonally from me has some cheaper looking planters that have largely died off. Luckily, the weeds are thriving. The gay strip club on the other side of the block from the park lined its outdoor area with plastic fig trees in 55-gallon drums, as if they’re campaigning to prove not all gays have taste.

Then there’s the corner of my cross street –

– at least they’re keeping the big tents away? The other side of this street is an empty storefront and there’s a solid row of tents from the corner to a driveway halfway into the block.

While it’s all a pretty flower icing on a crap cake type of a situation, I’m glad that this is how our civic displeasure manifests over this situation versus anything more aggressive and less passive in nature. Oooh, foreshadowing!

But it’s not for lack of “trying”.

One of our old money family scions has loads of empty real estate holdings downtown. His first attempt to keep people from lining Broadway with tents in front of one of his empty buildings was to install bike racks.

A very Portland solution. Except it was twenty-six bike racks. Even if that building was leased at some point, there are likely not going to be enough bike commuters stationed there to create anything close to a reasonable bike-to-rack ratio.

Plus, he hadn’t checked permitting, so our local weekly rag did it for him. Willamette Week has taken down our current governor’s predecessor, at least one state senator – anyone remember the Bob Packwood skit on SNL? – our first gay – and shockingly couldn’t keep it in his pants or ID his paramours – mayor, local congresspeople and god knows who I’m forgetting; so this bike rack thing was just them passing the time between scandals or the upcoming midterm elections. Oooh, more foreshadowing!

Undeterred, our scion switched gears and leased some of his empty downtown office space to a city council candidate – that’s who I left out of WW’s hit list! – for $250/month. When they broke that story, the guy claimed he couldn’t rent it for market rate, which was probably true. Still, you don’t have to know commercial real estate to know that if you can’t rent a space with a $6800/month market value that your fallback isn’t $250/month.

I can’t believe they could put that press release out with a straight face.

Worst of all? It was a conservative candidate for city council. I’d say it simply isn’t done, but that’s kind of where the City’s dysfunction over the past 2-3 years has led us. Not that I’m opposed to more middle ground and less extremes of one side or the other.

Let’s do it.

But if you have to lie to do it, you can fuck right off. That’s both my hardline and my $.02.

And it’s not just at the city level of politics, either. Our Governor is term limited, so that job is up for grabs. It wasn’t, but now it is a literal tossup.

That’s thanks to a rural congressperson refusing to let the heir apparent just have the nomination – leaving the Democratic Party to run as an Independent against our lesbian Speaker of the House who we’d all thought was a like it or not shoe-in.

I gotta tell ya, she made me think about voting Independent this cycle, just because she’s been such a centrist Democrat her entire career – go figure, a Democrat from a timber family is centrist. The big surprise is that she wasn’t a Republican. But like I said earlier, I’m not opposed to more middle ground and frankly, at the local level, the far lefties have not gotten things done.

Anyway, that was all well and fine to consider…until the Republicants somehow managed to avoid nominating one of their usual milquetoast-perpetual-loser candidates like they normally do. Usually it’s like they are either not trying to take the top job in the state at all or they are strictly trying to please/fleece their base by running on crazy shit the red counties with more cattle than people care about, candidate be damned.

Well, not this time.

And it’s a perfect storm.

Because it’s not a normal election year. We’ve already got the opposing Democratic split vote candidates issue.

Then there’s the whole the Republicants didn’t run a non-starter candidate from their usual roster of losers. They ran a newcomer, who’s quite a firebrand. With only three years of experience holding public office – so there’s no record to run against.

And to make it all just perfectly awful…it’s another woman. Don’t be surprised if our ballot drop box is only located on Themyscira.

Go ahead and Google that. I’ll wait, non-nerds.

Yup. It’s a three-way, all-female race for the governorship between a lesbian, a septuagenarian and a fair-haired Sarah Palin.

Hold onto your goddamn hats, people, because I can’t tell you what’s about to happen in the Peoples’ Republic of Portland. In a state where the GOP can’t get a job holding doors, one might be holding the top office for the first time in 40 years come January.

If that’s the case, I’m thinking the best thing we can expect – and, surprise…it’s not getting tents off the sidewalks – is the second coming of Portland’s “Dream of the 90s” heyday following the Ds retaking the governor’s manse. Because without our last round of Republican governors in the 80s, we wouldn’t have had the collective spirit or financial incubator that created the environment that made Portland such a unique place to be.

Plus, the tents will be gone. I don’t know how, but I’d put even odds on it being chartering a plane to fly any of them with Texas or Arizona IDs back to their home state.

Whatever the solution is, won’t it be great that we have so many cool sidewalk planters?!?

Dispatch From the Peoples’ Republic of Portland

Another Day, Another Cult

But I’m giving myself bonus points for holding out this long.

First, it was caving to the Peloton cult during the pandemic. But patting myself on the back then for buying one off Craigslist at a steep markdown. AKA: what you can but one for now that they are circling the drain diversifying their equipment. Forgets bikes. Now it’s all about the tread and – crossing my fingers as a stockholder – the new row.

Now it’s the meal prep cult.

I enjoy cooking. For others. When it’s just me, I feel like I waste so much – either by not getting to it fast enough or simply through not using it all. But give me a partner to cook for – or better yet, with – and all that goes by the wayside.

This is how my perpetually single self learned to embrace a Monday Night Supper Club for his also single friends a few years back. But they had to ruin it by being optimistic and dating. So, that fell apart. Imagine it…

Them: Hey, Galbs (yes, sometimes I’m Galbs instead of Galby), can I bring the guy I’m seeing?

Me: It’s fine, I can do the dishes. But…thanks!

Or:

Them: We got married!

Me: Fuck you. You’re out of the club!

Ok, that last one was highly embellished. For my own entertainment.

Aaand, so I subsist on takeout, frozen pizza, charcuterie, Mac & Cheese or bellying up at the hotel restaurant’s bar, conveniently located on my block. It’s a rather upscale restaurant, so between that and my tendency to call cheese, cured meats, crackers and wine “dinner”, I think I’ve offset my infamous toddler palate rather well.

My second weekly box arrives tomorrow. The first week was a steal at around $28. This week and next week are on either side of $45 each. That’s giving me a little pause about continuing with them. Even though I added on a couple of salad kits to tomorrow’s box.

In a startling fit of self-awareness, that last sentence has bugged me every time it’s popped into my head over the last 10 days.

You see, each plan is either two servings or four. There’s a minimum of two recipes for each week, so the fewest I could get was four meals a week. I’m experimenting by adding in the salad kits to see what the portions are like. If it’s like the chop salad kits you get in the grocery, that’s a meal for me. I suspect the two in my order tomorrow will even out to one supermarket kit. If that’s the case, I likely wouldn’t do that add-on again.

Parmesan Chicken was my first endeavor. Not too shabby for an out of practice cook.

Still that would be five meals in a week for under $50. Trust me, that’s three beers and a (very delicious) pizza next door. I don’t know why I’m resisting committing to the program. Hell, even when I go down after a “big lunch” day and have a few beers, it’s $30. Eating more small meals each week for less than one meal there is a win.

But back to my reluctance to embrace this perk of living in the 21st century.

It’s not the waste – and I’m talking packaging, not food waste. I joked initially that I’d probably eat both portions of a recipe in one sitting. Truth is, though, one serving is enough – despite the reality that my Mac & Cheese box confirms me as a family of four.

That was my best case scenario, too – eating smaller portions more often. I’d been on the “one giant meal and a snack later” diet for a few years and my weight has just yo-yo-ed.

<takes sip of wine>

Hey, it’s not all self-awareness, all the time here at Chez Galby, ok?

Anyway, I’m hoping I can stick with an improved temperament toward leftovers and squeeze a couple of lunches out of the weekly boxes. Then I can see if my body drops out of the starvation mode I’ve trained it into and stops storing things as fat.

It’s been a fun week. This stuff sat in my fridge for three days before I got around to cracking the first recipe. I imagined a clock ticking every time I opened the fridge and frequently saw this image in my head…

Then I was reminded of the relationship between a cook and their tools and even fire. Things you forget when you’re only using your oven to cook frozen pizza and your stove to boil pasta.

But the kinks are coming loose. Hell, aside from the inevitable smoke-filled unit while “browning” my sausage – not a colloquialism – for yesterdays Italian white bean stew concoction – I feel like I’ve managed through the first couple of Hello Fresh meals better than NPH!

As a matter of fact, yesterday’s endeavor was successful enough that I finished my leftovers for breakfast today before remembering I hadn’t snapped a pic as proof of execution – so you’re stuck feasting on a pic of the recipe card.

This all ties in nicely to a comment I made last week on a fellow blogger’s social media post about her recent late-night binges.

Obviously, this is going to be an interesting little experiment…we’ll see if I come out of it as The Mummy era Brendan Frasier or the current The Whale incarnation.

Oh, wait. <siiiiigh>

Another Day, Another Cult

Incredible Fortunes.

You ever wake up and just briefly consider the reality of your situation could simply be that Pam Ewing is really out there somewhere, dreaming nightmare versions of people’s lives?

To refresh memories or fill in pop culture voids…Pam Ewing was Bobby Ewing’s wife on Dallas. No, the original version. Season one ended with Bobby being killed. Season two was a shit show and season three started with Pam waking up to find her husband showering after a particularly vivid dream…of the entire second season.

The audacity!

Or that maybe you are her, and one morning you come to wake up to find that the worst was all in your subconscious?

Absolutely insane. It was almost enough to wipe our collective consciousness clean of Fonzi jumping a shark on water skis. Almost.

Anywho. I swear that’s me lately. And, frankly, I don’t know why I haven’t made time to buy a lottery ticket.

This life that I deride and take for granted…well, it’s serving me constant reminders lately that while the bad stuff may not be going on in Pam Ewing’s dreams, it’s not the star of The Xtopher Show that I call my life.

Cases in point:

I think I mentioned I was going to another free concert a week or so back. I was incredulous to have notched another free pass onto my 2022 entertainment belt.

And it was incredible…despite a rocky start.

The Shins were playing two shows downtown and I had won tickets from a local radio station. I had said I wanted tickets to the Friday night show, giving them Thursday night to warm up. I got my winner’s waiver the Monday after winning my tickets and was told further info would follow. It did not. Well, by the day before the show, I finally double-checked that I’d submitted the waiver correctly and then sent an email to the station that I’d won the tickets from using the “contact us” link on their website.

Several hours later, at around 2:30, I got a BCC email from the station saying “Congrats Winners!”, leading me to believe someone was having a really long Monday at the station. It went on to tell us that our tickets would be at Will Call and the gates were at 5, show at 6…that evening.

My mental needle skipped.

Luckily, I live about 9 blocks from the venue. I worked until 4:45 and then set out on foot for the show.

Turns out, the venue is all General Admission. Still, when the guy asked if I needed both tickets – after watching me walk up alone and casually scanning my area as he went through my info – I said “Yes”.

What? I wanted them both. I was definitely going to find a way to take up two spots in GA. Plus, that was just rude, right? It’s not like I had a bogey hanging out of my nose and he asked if I wanted a Kleenex. No, this was him rubbing my nose in my solo-ness. Boo, sir.

Because it’s Portland and this venue is a public plaza when it’s not a venue, there were food carts on the periphery of the fence. I hadn’t eaten, so I grabbed a huge sandwich for $12 and a 16 ounce beer for the same price. That amphitheater where I saw Styx can shove it’s $18 beers right up it…area.

I sat on the brick wall at the back of the venue and ate my sammie and drank my beer while the opening band did its thing. It was another Portland band (I know, The Shins are from New Mexico, but they’ve been in Portland long enough to be called locals) named Joseph. Two sisters with a third woman make up the band named for the Oregon town the sisters’ grandfather was from. I’d heard a couple of their sons on the radio before and liked them, but their 45 minute set was amazing. It’s really just guitar with the sisters’ amazing vocals and that’s it.

I was so mesmerized that I barely noticed the Guy Candy that was obviously hitting on me sat right next to me to nosh on his own sando from one of the carts.

Joseph’s set ended and the roadies started prepping the stage for The Shins. I figured I better grab another beer and stake out a place to take up two places near the stage. While I was in line, a true Portland weirdo native offered me a picture of her cat out of the blue.

My guideline when dealing with Portland’s kookier kooks is “humor them, they might be dangerous”, so I took the proffered pic. It’s now hanging over Myrtle’s food station, just to keep her on her toes. A reminder that there are other cats in the world – versus mine, who seems to believe a week isn’t complete without at least one protest poop or other non-litter box evacuation.

This was me, sipping my fresh beer in my taking-up-two-spaces space by the stage; reflecting on the Guy Candy, the Crazy Cat Lady and watching the sun set while nervously eyeballing the 20,000 crows flying around looking for a place to roost when someone tapped my shoulder.

No, it wasn’t Guy Candy guy. I’m lucky…but not that fucking lucky.

It was Sarizzle, someone I’d worked at Sur la Table with when I lived in Shittatle. I ran the market’s hero store in Kirkland (yes, it’s a real place!) and she ran the original store in the Pike Place Market. I knew she’d moved back to our mutual hometown, but we’d never managed to connect. Just two natives catching up on social media now and again. We hugged and caught up in real life a bit – while I behaved awkwardly because I was still in all my WFH glory and now turn into that person who runs into people they know wherever they go. Eventually, she said her goodbye to go back to her husband as the roadies started wrapping up and the stage hands started turning instruments.

Actually, after running into not one, but two groups I knew at the Bonnie Raitt show…maybe I am one of those people who runs into people I know figuratively everywhere I go.

Not long after Sarizzle left my to my own devices, The Shins took the stage and didn’t give it a rest for about 90 minutes. Their music has a pretty chill vibe, but the lead singer’s voice is haunting, something I figured was a product of some sort of modulator. I still think that, but was impressed that they were able to replicate it in real life.

Their set was so good that for about the first half, I was convinced at a minimum the lead vocals we lip synced. Joseph had come out to sing back up after the first few songs, so I knew it wasn’t the whole setup, but just how was it possible to recreate the lead singer’s otherworldly vocals?!? I enjoyed clicking off the hallmarks of live music that occurred in the set to disprove my suspicion that the lead was dubbed. Just crazy little tics, like singing toward Joseph at the back of the stage and losing the mic’s pickup briefly – nothing too overt.

I enjoyed watching the crowd really get pulled into some of their bigger hits and take over the heavy lifting of vocals or just get caught up in a call and response with the band.

But I’m a native Portlander and I go to shows to watch the show, not be a part of them. To that end, I stood there and tapped my foot, swayed a little and clapped after every song. That’s it. A true Portlander would never risk diminishing someone else’s experience by being overly enthusiastic. I’ve actually been to some fantastic shows where virtually all the crowd did until the end of the show was sit there and clap between songs.

Playing Portland must be an interesting experience for musicians. Well, not as weird as it was back in the day…there’s so many transplants now that the overly polite Portland crowds have been somewhat diluted. Sarizzle and her husband eventually crept closer to the stage and I saw her being true to our concert-going DNA, too. Her husband would occasionally throw an arm toward the sky or do that rhythmic hopping that people do at concerts, but she was doing pretty much the same low key sway in place as I.

The tour was basically a 21st birthday party for the band’s first breakout album, and they played it all, with a few extras sprinkled in here and there. At one point, the band riffed on Rod Stewart’s Do You Think I’m Sexy for a few lines between songs. Just, out of nowhere fun – for them as much as us. No one knew where the idle strumming was going until it careened into that pleasant little surprise.

Another fun moment happened during the encore – unlike Bonnie Raitt, I stayed for this one. No dogs to walk, no parking mess to get ahead of, so I just stayed and watched them completely blow the non-existent roof off of Pioneer Courthouse Square. The next little fun nugget was working a couple refrains of Tom Petty’s American Girl into the middle of one of their songs. I didn’t recognize the song, but I was definitely in the minority.

The following Sunday, I had to set an alarm to wake up and drive out to Hood River – by far the more scenic piece of our wine country. Little Buddy had two tickets to an event at one of their wine clubs called Reds, Whites and Blues. No, we haven’t started making blue wine in our notoriously blue state – the event featured a blues band to listen to whilst stuffing your face with BBQ and sipping on the vineyard’s reds and whites – not in that order.

Sadly, her husband, 2.0, had been tapped for a two-week trip to Germany for work and had to leave that morning, so Little Buddy had a – wait for it…free ticket. Fuck yeah, I went! I even set an alarm to make a day of it – we got a hike in before the event, which was just idyllic.

They set up the event beneath oak trees that are hundreds of years old in the middle of their vineyard and we drove up, parked by some vines and sat under those trees stuffing our faces and listening to blues in the middle of a sea of vines. Not even a barely visible Mt Hood through the smokey haze from our minimal forest fires could dampen the epicness of being immersed in such gorgeousness.

I’d love to sit around and let more of these experiences wash out of my memory and into my blog, but my drinking buddy’s buddy backed out of their plans to go to The Doobie Brothers show tonight this past Thursday. Luckily, I was sitting a barstool away when the text came in, so I’ve got to get ready for another show.

Another free show.

Second row from the floor on the stage side of the second section from the damn stage. It is going to be…epic!

Incredible Fortunes.

Shrinkflation

Gas prices have fallen for about 90 days in Portland. I’ve heard that in many parts of the US, gas has dipped under $4 for the first time in six months.

Here, it’s still averaging well over $4 for a gallon of regular, but I’m happy the mid-grade I use is under $5. That’s still about a buck more a gallon than I was paying in January.

However, I’ve noticed a couple of amusing returns on my gas investments recently.

First, when I was being a pre-vacation grump and refusing to put more than $20 worth of gas in my tank at a time – not sure if that’s denial or self-preservation. I had done just that and was headed out to mom and dad’s for a smoker-q.

Side note: I’ve been thinking about drugs lately. Specifically that moment in drug history where cocaine had faded from popularity and made a resurgence in a smoke-able versus snort-able form that everyone called crack cocaine. I think we really missed a portmanteau opportunity by not calling it smocaine.

Anyway, I remember doing the mental math on my round trip with my almost half tank of gas. I figured I’d come back and park Angela with a quarter tank. I enjoy these mental math games of speculation. Especially when it pits me against technology – like gas gauges and “miles to empty” projections.

This particular instance was a draw. After my ~60 round trip, I was still around 3/8 tank. Saving me face, though, was the “mikes to empty” reading had only dropped by 12 miles.

When I went on vacation and drove to the high desert, I had to give up my grumpy old man ways and fill up for the 168 mile trip.

I remember the mileage between here and Sunriver because it’s my birth month and year. Another thing my brain likes to pass the time noticing. Anyway, I figured filling my tank would be a cathartic exercise to start my vacation. I was shocked when I looked at the “miles to empty” as I pulled onto the road.

Angela usually teases me with 500 mikes to the tank, delivering somewhere closer to 430. I’m not sure what she was trying to pull telling me I’d actually get my money’s worth for the $100 I’d just coughed up.

Maybe she was just trying to make me feel better.

Of course, that projection ended up more like this…

More so than normal, that is. Surprising no one.

It was, in my mind, a pleasant turn from the shrinkflation I’d been confronted by daily throughout the summer, though. I’d noted my reluctance to pay retail prices to water manufacturers in the past instead of something closer to wholesale prices.

I mean, where do they get off?!?

So I was proud of my La Croix loyalty because I could get a 12-pack for $4.

Not anymore. Welcome to shrinkflategate!

Now I can’t find a 12-pack to save my life.

It’s 8-packs or nothing these days, my friends.

But don’t worry, it’s still $4. If you’re lucky.

My mind – noticing the patterns it does so naturally – reflexively does the math and can’t quite find where inflation is 8%. I mean, at best the price is flat. But the damn package is 1/3 smaller!

I’d like to speak to the manager.

At least Angela has my back. The prices all around me are rising. Groceries, restaurants, services…everything is going up. But Angela tries to make it all better by giving me hope that a tank of gas will magically stretch further.

Shrinkflation

Mystery Solved?

I got a package I was expecting this past Wednesday. I never really order stuff for delivery, so I was kind of surprised I remembered to look for it. My building’s parcel area is just a table in our entry hall, so I walk by it often, but rarely have a use for it myself – outside of judging my neighbors’s conspicuous consumption proclivities.

Don’t ask me why I looked at the FedEx envelope the next day when I walked by. There was absolutely no reason to, aside from basic nosiness.

It was for me.

Immediately, I wondered who would be sending me money with no signature required.

Alas.

It was the last thing I “ordered” and had reported missing after it missed its two day delivery window by 100%.

It wasn’t really something I’d ordered so much as needed. It was my DoorDash debit card – which is the only way to get paid after each shift versus once weekly. Something I was having trouble adjusting to after Lyft making it so easy to get paid whenever I wanted.

Now look at me, getting paid every two weeks like a regular person.

Still, I’d been debating offsetting my salary with occasional Dashing or possibly going back to Lyft in January. I’m not gonna lie, going from what averaged out to six figure earnings the last couple years back to a paltry five digit salary took some wind out of my sails.

To that end, I’d given myself a chunk of fun money from grandpa’s estate and put the rest in my savings. As that fun fund has dwindled over the past couple of months, the mental exercise has become slightly more pressing – either I need to go back to Dashing or I need to start curbing expenses.

I hadn’t made any decisions – but found myself leaning toward waiting until January when my Lyft restriction…lifts.

Then this happened.

Conundrum!

I just…hate this company. Gig work had been pretty fun with Lyft, I really loved it. The bar was admittedly high, despite the unpleasant surprise that resulted in not being able to drive for them for almost a year.

DoorDash just sucks. Their cavalier attitude about my direct pay debit card not arriving is just one example of their suckery. But a pretty big one since I wasn’t delivering out of the kindness of my heart and without passengers to play with, it was a fairly boring grind.

So after calling and making sure the card was still good to use, I decided to go out and get people fed. Surprisingly, it was a pretty fun couple of hours. I think I logged two hours and 15 minutes on the road after a full day at “the office” and didn’t hate it.

And then I took myself out for a few drinks and ran into friends and then ended up making a night of it with them. It’s about rewards, right?

The weirdest thing about this to me was that I seemed to be the only one who was surprised about any of these mysterious goings on.

Yet, there I was. Shocked back in April that the card was showing as delivered by FedEx but had clearly not arrived at my home. Absolutely gobsmacked that the people at DoorDash were utterly unconcerned about this either – even after stating that it looked like the card had been activated.

Then on the even more surprising backend when I called to report the card had been delivered 22 weeks late…nothing. Not even an “Oh, how nice!” or “We didn’t see that coming”. Just…an “Anything else I can help you with?” that practically made me crack a molar. Like they had done anything helpful.

What is wrong with people? Are these examples of apathy or idiocy? I truly don’t know.

And I’m leaning toward curbing expenses until January, for anyone still wondering. Lord knows what would motivate that decision. On the flip side, though…I’ve definitely been bit by the live entertainment bug. It might just be worth gritting my teeth and sucking it up in the short term so I can keep rewarding myself.

Mystery Solved?

When Your Ex Calls…

Call me what you will: cynical, crazy…whatchu got? But when my ex – Rib – texted this morning asking if we could talk, my mind immediately went dark.

It’s been a few years since we’ve talked outside of random social media interactions. Even longer since we’ve caught up in real-time.

Note to self: chill that white burgundy I got on their wine tasting trip to Portland. That’s gotta be 6 years old now?!?

Anyway. Out of nowhere came the thought, “His mom died”, and I was immediately sad. Thinking about her in the past tense. Thoughts like “She was the same age as my dad!”

Was.

Welp, I’m happy to report that guess was wrong. But the dire spirit was warranted.

He’s getting divorced.

That was in my top two reasons he’d want to talk, but by all (observed) accounts, they were strong.

Despite the reason Rib gave for them getting married – he needed insurance, which is a typical Rib dodge to a question he doesn’t want to answer – they seemed pretty solid. They’d bought a house together a year or so after getting hitched. They recently sold it for $400k more than they bought it for and had an offer on a million dollar build.

They were able to get out of that with less hoops to jump through than Elon trying to get out of his Twitter deal.

But the benchmark of our relationship was that we ended as friends. I figured breaking up with someone 18 years my junior when I was in my mid-40s was gonna be it for me, relationship-wise. A prediction that has held up, but I thought finally having an ex that became a friend was a good high water mark.

Or I had inadvertently strayed into lesbian tendencies territory. I did avoid buying a Subaru when I went car shopping, so I think I’m not in any danger of losing my Gay Card.

Using it is another, less likely story scenario.

Another moment of…not pride, but, y’know…something pride-adjacent was that he wanted to talk to me before he spoke to his family.

Especially his sister. Ironically, she’d gotten married for the same reason. Hey, I never said Rib used original material. That union also ended in divorce. After living in separate states for most of the marriage.

When I’d ended my relationship with Rib, I’d laid out my view of his worldview pretty plainly: he’d moved from his mom’s house, to his sister’s to mine. He needed to figure out who he was before he could be a real partner for someone. “You need to get the shit kicked out of you by the world for a bit” were my exact words.

We found an apartment for him and got him settled in his new life. Two weeks later his sister fixed him up with his soon to be ex-husband and they were immediately inseparable.

I was pissed at her, not him. He was just doing what he knew. She should have known better.

Anyway, a decade later, hearing his plan for his fresh start and then him finishing with, “That’s what you told me that I should do when we broke up. You were right. I don’t even know who I am right now, much less what I want!”

He was a real brat when we were dating. Fun, but a brat. But when I told him I was t dating someone with no job, no education and living with his sister, he batted down my objections with actions. Well, two of the three, he got a job a few days later and a few weeks later was asking me for help filling out financial aid paperwork for college.

I was really impressed by what this guy could do when someone expected something of him. There wasn’t much I could reasonably expect from him on the housing front, but four years later, we fixed that. At least for a few weeks.

Now he’s closing another circle in his life and I gotta hand it to him for having the insight to be able to look at his actions the last time he found himself single and decide what he wants to do differently this time.

I may not have had kids of my own to release into the world, but my MO when dating younger ‘mos had been to leave ‘em better than I found ‘em. I’m happy that I was able to see the results with Rib not once, but twice now.

Here’s hoping I get to witness the rewards he reaps for the work he’s signing up for, too. But I’m not taking my chips off the square that says “Takes his half of the house money and moves away” either.

When Your Ex Calls…

Non-Practicing

You know how when you meet a lapsed Catholic and religion comes up in conversation? Eventually it comes up as, “Oh, you’re Catholic, what are your thoughts?!?”

The response? Well, obviously, it’s varied. They’ve left the cult and can now exercise free thought and expression. But it usually starts with a clarifying variant of “Non-practicing Catholic” before any deeper response is given.

It’s like “Let me be perfectly clear, here…”

Well, that’s me and my sexuality.

People usually want to know if I know their gay friend when they are introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance. “Oh, Chris-Chris?”, they ask. our mutual friend like my eyes and ears aren’t connected to my brain.

Mentally I add, “Non-practicing” before they even finish their sentence. But I have managed to perfect the mental eye-roll. A few of those made it awkwardly out into the wild. I wasn’t the first to realize it, either. Not even always the second. I had to ask myself a few times whether the person-I’d-been-introduced-to’s eyes widened before or after my friend’s overly dramatic coughing fit began to figure out the appropriate level of chagrin or combativeness to display.

I say all this by way of introducing my topic tonight: I deleted the sole dating app on my phone a couple weeks back.

Sidebar: This is dating not mating app I’m talking about. I rarely act on the opportunities that prostrate present themselves on the mating app, but I enjoy opening it to “see who’s around”. It used to be fun to surreptitiously open up Grindr while shopping or at a show with plenty guy candy present just to see if there were other gays around. Now, though, it’s so much easier to profile gays in a crowd. Well, queers in a crowd. What with the rise in visibility of gender fluidity over the past 5-10 years, I’m no longer wondering if that hot guy is gay so much as I’m curious if that guy wearing nail polish isn’t gay. This is what I lived through the AIDS crisis for? Seems like a lot of trouble in retrospect.

So, yeah. I deleted OKStupid a few weeks back.

Not like I was actively using it. But at least I could tell myself I had a line in the water, right?

Sports analogy!

Don’t get me wrong, I was completely fine letting them app linger, tucked away in the social media folder on my Home Screen. But a while back, they sent me this bullshit:

Yeah, GoPuff knows a lot more about marketing than the folks at OKStoopid. If I wanted manipulative behaviors like that, I’d date. So I ignore it thinking, “Save me the trouble, will ya? But, just like dating, they kept coming back like they hadn’t thrown down a failed ultimatum.

“No, they don’t.” It’s just the same Lost Boys I encounter in the bars or on the truly asocial media apps trying to assuage their shame by having an actual dating app on their phone. Poor stupid, stupid dears.

Or, channeling my inner Groucho Marx, riffing on not wanting to meet anyone who would want to meet me. In case you missed this the last 100-ish times I’ve used it…

The thing I didn’t like about this app experience wasn’t the caliber of the offerings – I’m sure it would surprise no one to hear that my expectations were set appropriately low and we’re still unmet. It was that the app was just a gaslighting shit show.

I’d keep seeing the same guys. My mental conversations would be something like, “I know I’ve swiped left on that train wreck before.”

Being <ahem> situationally charitable, I’d assume the best. About the app, not the person. When it came to the people, my thoughts would range somewhere near the “Who is this hard luck case (from me) trying to fool with a new profile?”

Turns out, it wasn’t the people trying to juice interest with a fresh profile, it was the app recycling people I had no interest in by presenting them as potential matches again. Like “It’s been 3 months and you haven’t met anyone, are you sure you can afford to be so choosy…at this point?”

Yes, I can. 1000%.

I finally gave them a hand and deleted the app myself after getting another “Your Profile Will Be Deactivated” email from them.

Yes, please.

I’m not kidding, the next day I got two emails from them. The first was another “Your Profile Will Be Deactivated” email that briefly made Gilbert Godfried my dominant personality.

The second email almost earned Apple a repeat sale on my phone. Check it out…

Two hours after a “WTF, I deleted my profile, why are you still sending me emails?!?” email, they’re trying to lure me back with my epically useless Super Like.

Hey, OKStoopid, I kinda super like myself – at least compared to any of the people you actively call Users. I think I’ll be ok.

That’s not a declaration I make capriciously, as I admit I am wont to do. Nono, this comes years after the 50th-birthday-party-turned-dating-intervention. That led to a year of focused dating effort – also where the loathsome OKStoopid app earned its place on my Home Screen.

That led to this –

Still active on Amazon…<hint, hint>

And it’s all been diminishing returns since then. Turns out, if I want oddly unsatisfying entertainment, I can binge watch a quirky series on one of my many streaming services. Cheaper than dating, less frustrating and much less potential for follow-up therapy! Plus, unless the internet goes out, binge watching always shows up.

Non-Practicing

Mourning…Glory?

When Olive died during last year’s heat dome, I wasn’t prepared for – or even thinking about – how that would hit me. I was surprised at the number of the stages of grief I could identify. But yesterday, I finally reached Acceptance.

For the record, Olive was a plant. Obviously an olive tree.

Olive was the first plant I acquired after moving back to Portland. Even that took a while to accomplish, since I got her in 2016 and had moved back in 2014. She was the product of an in-store event I’d hosted for a local Olive Oil company who had brought a couple trees as set decor for their booth. The owner of the company had offered me one of the three they’d brought up to the event and without hesitation I accepted.

Anyway, I lost her – and everything else on my balcony during our three day heat dome last year. Y’know, the one where our temps in the PNW were the hottest on the planet. That should never happen in Portland, OR. Even watering twice daily didn’t do the trick because the temps never went down at night, there was just no respite. I think that instead of providing relief, watering just changed the heat from baking the roots in their clay pots to steaming them…

That was some Denial right there. Anger was reserved for the climate change deniers and people who helpfully told me that my plants could have survived with even more watering. Bargaining was the ridiculous habit I had of still watering her stick figure remains in hope the roots came back this past spring.

I think what was hardest for me was the throwback memory I have of my first post-relationship gay friend here back in the early aughts. He was only a friend, but we’re really got to know each other deeply since we were both navigating traumatic waters at that point in our lives. He was in recovery for sex addiction before it became a fashionable excuse for misconduct among our powerful and famous men. But something he told me was that one of the steps he had to complete before he could date was to keep a plant alive for a year. It was an exercise in caring for another’s needs.

So, yeah. Losing Olive affected me. I don’t believe I will have another relationship in my life, but I want to know that I still could vis-a-vis successful plant husbandry. How’s that for a new twist on the old “It’s not me, it’s you” trope?

I didn’t replant my balcony for fall as I usually do. Nor did I plant anything this spring. I just kept watering Olive’s carcass.

The Silver Fox picked up his own Olive on one of his trips to Trader Joe’s. Sensing my interest when he told me, to promised to remain on the lookout for me on subsequent trips. But their plant inventory rotates so quickly that timing is critical.

Which is why I was excited to share this pic with him on my way home from a walk to my local TJs for cat treats yesterday.

Lil Olivier. They were out of the cat treats, BTW. The next best option – fried salmon skin – seemed like a sure thing, but Myrtle turned her nose up at them. My current mental exercise is debating whether to risk Olivier on my balcony or keep him inside where I only have to worry about Myrt.

The interesting thing to me is how my inside plants have benefited from my undivided attention over the last year. I went from a roster of four to fourteen in the past year. That’s including a pothos that I propagated a second plant from. There’s a third rooting out now and a jade that has two plants in one pot that I need to split out. My spider plant is throwing off some babies I need to trim and root out soon.

I need to split this jade into two pots, but I’m afraid of damaging them in the process
The pending plant parent

I’m starting to wonder where I can keep them as I look toward a plant stable approaching twenty by year-end. My apartment has limited window space. My living room wall is basically 16 feet of floor to ceiling window. My bedroom on the other hand has only two panes. Plus I’m pretty bad at opening the curtains, but I think that will be one of the next steps.

Right now, I’m using dense clustering as a defense against Myrtle’s rubbing them to death. She loves scratching her cheeks on them, but that’s generally to their detriment. To that end, when I started putting plants on window sills, I learned that I had to arrange the sill so there was no room for her to sit on the same sill.

The climber that’s in the corner was a 4” rescue from the local grocery’s nearly dead section.

Likewise, since my dracaena sits at the end of my TV console, I need to find a way to limit Myrtle’s ability to get to that end since she’s already snacking on it.

And the unsnacking all over the floor.

But enjoy the last few pics of my lil therapeutic plant farm while I resume my mental debate over Olivier’s initial home…

The Christmas cactus on the upper sill was from a cutting from mom.
Cornelius, also a gift from mom.

If you’re in the states, enjoy your extra day off on this three day holiday weekend. I’ll be potting at least one plant today or tomorrow!

Mourning…Glory?

The Year of FREE Music

No, this is not a nostalgia post about my Columbia House membership.

Whilst working from home yesterday, I was planning out my weekend. The focus was getting my weekend blogging goal back on track as well as my exercise regimen – which has been off track since my vacation. Add into that the Silver Fox’s return to town. And this is still on top of wanting to maintain my regular weekend misadventures.

But it was also Flashback Friday on my local radio station. Back when I was living that #LyftLife that meant I listened to the weekly Party Out of Bounds radio show from 8-midnight while driving Friday nights.

All 80s and 90s music for four hours? Yes, please.

Now that I’m living the WFH life, I listen to the morning show until 10 Monday-Friday and maybe switch to a pandora station later in the day. But on Flashback Friday I might put in a little longer on the show because they give away tickets to upcoming live shows from 80s and 90s bands every hour.

I’ve set my limit at 5 calls per hour, if I’m able to call when they throw it out. Sometimes I’m on a Teams or Zoom call and can’t.

It’s fine. I’ve already won seats at their free in studio performances twice this year, so if I miss out, I’m still having a pretty good live music year. Some of the shows though…Jane’s Addiction, Garbage, Crowded House. There’s about five shows to choose from each week at a variety of venues: The Moda Center (where the Blazers play), Edgefield (one of our larger outdoor venues), Crystal Ballroom (if you wanna experience a concert on the third floor of a hundred+ year old building, this is your place – and let’s hear it for feeling the floor move beneath your unmoving feet!), or Pioneer Courthouse Square (aka: Portland’s Living Room).

Moda Center
Inside the Moda during concert mode
Edgefield – looking back from the 4th row. More on that in a minute
Crystal Ballroom – home of the “Floating Dancefloor”.
Pioneer Courthouse Square from the air…or an office tower across the street

I’ve been to shows at all of these venues over the years, but my attendance was stagnant recently – pandemic closures notwithstanding. I’ve been to Moda many times, including Fleetwood Mac on three separate tours. I saw Everclear back in the late 90s or early aughts at the Crystal and was “recently” (aka: five-ish years ago!) invited to Echo and the Bunnymen there. Pioneer Courthouse has a couple different summer music events each year. The first is just a “Portland is awesome” type of thing…a free Lunchtime Concert Series every Thursday at noon. Back when our downtown had businesses operating in it, people would throw open their windows in the neighboring non-skyscraper buildings to lean out an watch. People on the streets would be drawn to this packed city block brick plaza. I’ve seen several shows there, too. Notably, the Indigo Girls back in the 90s and I was sad to miss their return to this venue this year. There have also been a couple of community concerts featuring our local Pink Martini to mark holiday tree lightings or punctuate a local event – like a protest concert or to honor the life of a colorful former Mayor.

This is our former Mayor, Bud Clark. I missed his memorial at Pioneer Square, but if it was half as entertaining as he was…

Which leaves us with Edgefield out of the venues listed above. It’s a 7000 “seat” outdoor venue at the edge of town, owned by the same family that owns the Crystal Ballroom, so the music gene is strong. The official name of their music program is Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn…hence the apostrophes around the word seat earlier. I’d been decades ago when it first opened. It was fun to go and cop a squat on a patch of grass with a date or maybe as a foursome with another couple.

But that was decades ago, and my lawn squatting days are behind me.

Enter my drink buddy neighbor. He’s kind of my spirit animal for having a life as a single old man. I don’t know why this eludes me so. I think it might partially be a willful ignorance on my part. It was only a few – ok, closer to ten than five – years ago that I regularly wrote under the blog theme I called the Yes Game. Now I’ve got Jessla fresh off her divorce and recently moved back to the city from the coast talking about her Year of Yes as well as my drinking buddy reminding me that life is meant for living, not waiting for the end.

Anyway, my drinking buddy has adult children with a couple of grands that keep him busy, which is a resource I don’t share. Outside of that, which is plenty for most people, he also has this great life of solo adventures that have inspired me recently to do more than just carouse my way to the grave.

He’s the one that invited me to the Loverboy/REO Speedwagon/Styx show a couple months ago. That, in turn, motivated me to not be resigned to the sidelines of life. I remembered when doing things alone was a source of empowerment for me when I was younger. As I’ve aged, I’ve avoided that source of power while eschewing the source of one of my biggest frustrations: people.

It was good to be reminded that I can do both by planning strategically. While it will take a lot to get me back to the Moda Center for a show, post-pandemic. It was the show that I lucked into last week at Edgefield that highlighted the reality I’d been missing out on.

My drinking buddy ended up triple-booked on a Friday night: a family thing, a Timbers match (he’s a season ticket holder) and a show at Edgefield that he’d been raving about for weeks. It was the last-minute realization that he had a match that Friday and the laster-minute family thing that ended up with me being gifted his tickets to the Edgefield show.

To Bonnie-freakin’-Raitt, no less.

I couldn’t possibly say no! Even though I’d already said yes to walking the Silver Fox’s pooch while he was at the same show. And yes to walking Jessla’s dogs while she was out of town for the weekend.

On top of having a lunchtime doctor appointment…this was going to be quite the Friday. So at lunchtime I put my Out of Office on and hood it over to my doctor. That runs late, so I go right from there to Jessla’s pups afternoon walk. I’m back in my chair just before 130. At 430, I set my status to offline and head up to Jessla’s for a quick pee walk and dinner for her pups. Then I hop in the car and head east to Edgefield.

Did I mention that this free seat is in the 4th row of Reserved Seating?!? But I still have to wait in line with all the picnickers before the show starts at 630, thanks to this post-9/11 mass shooter gun violence world in which we live.

Getting 7000 people through metal detectors takes a minute. Factor in Bonnie pulls a Boomer crowd and you’ve got a real shitshow of a line scenario.

The venue is up there in that stand of trees, this grass will soon be covered in cars

The Fox had been insisting my seats were good, but the seats he had in the Sponsors Section – courtesy of his nephew, owner of Wyld, a cannabis edibles manufacturer – were better. Well, they came with reserved parking and free tacos and drinks, so he was partially correct. Otherwise, we both learned that they had moved the Sponsor Se ruin sometime in the past couple of decades. Here’s a view from my not-worse-than-his seat.

He’s under that white tent…

But that reserved parking was legit. After standing in a line for 45 minutes, what was I finally greeted by when I was able to branch off the mainline to the two measly metal detectors dedicated to Reserved Seating ticket holders?

I’d know that snow cap anywhere. He hadn’t responded to my bored-in-line inquiries about his whereabouts. Probably because he was driving out so he could walk right up to the Reserved Ticket Holder’s entrance. But it amused me – while I was ignoring my darker inner thoughts that he’s seen me and was ignoring me – that he was so focused on the venue that he didn’t notice me until moments after I sent this…

Remember the basement scene in Silence of the Lambs where Bill is reaching out in the dark behind an unsuspecting Clarice?

Anyway, we were both entertained by his level of surprise. A phenomenon I would repeat as I beat a hasty retreat during the encore to get back to Jessla’s pups for their evening walk and ran into the Fox’s former partner’s parents – with whom he’s still friends. The dad was wearing his Timbers jersey, showing support for his team as a season ticket holder since he’d made a different decision than my beneficiary. So we got to chat a bit until we made for our separate grassy parking spaces – turns out, they left early to get home to their dog, too. Since it’s an outdoor venue, I put down the windows and opened the moonroof to listen to the encore as I queued up to exit the lot.

I’m not the guy who runs into someone I know everywhere I go. I’m always the guy with the person who runs into someone everywhere there go. Seriously, it happened at the top of the Eiffel Tower. But in between this happening to me twice in one night, I saw an incredible show. A week later, I’m still in awe.

Mavis Staples was the opener. Let me tell you, at 83 this woman is absolutely killing it. She’s not tall enough to have ever ridden a roller coaster in her life, but onstage? Well, let’s just say that you can’t miss her – even though it was a good minute or two before I saw her head because it was behind a mic-mounted iPad.

What? I didn’t see her take the stage because I was getting a beer! The McMenamin’s brothers started out as beer makers, not concert promoters.

I watched Mavis in awe. Her band and back up were amazing on their own, but in no way making up for any diminished capacity in Mavis’ talent or skill. She might have had to sit down a couple of times during the set – 83 years old! – and the band didn’t lose a beat, but when she was ready to come back, she let ‘em know that the stage was hers again.

I will never not think of this performance when I hear a cement mixer’s engine idling while its tumble turns. That a voice that big comes out of such a small human. Epic.

If that was all there was to this show…it was still a bargain at twice the price. But wait…there’s more!

Bonnie-freakin’-Raitt!

In my concert-going career I’ve been to myriad shows. Folks touring to promote a recent album, storytellers on tour, spectacles of a show that hid lipsyncing artists, intimate venues, stadium tours, has-beens on the State Fair circuit, perennial favorites, career touring acts…and much, much more!

And it’s not like those options are mutually exclusive. It’s more of a Venn diagram.

I’d always thought of Bonnie as a storyteller on tour given my knowledge of her history touring with the likes of Lyle Lovett and John Prine. In this instance she was that storyteller on tour, touring to promote a new album and perennial favorite. I wasn’t super-excited to learn about the new album since that usually draws focus from the library I’m familiar with. For someone whose first album came out 50+ years ago, though? She is still creating amazing content.

Case in point, after talking about touring with Prine and reminiscing about them performing Angel From Montgomery together and how she can’t imagine performing it without him since his death, she tells how that history and loss inspired her to write a song with a similar story behind it. She’d heard a story about a man who showed up on a woman’s doorstep years after she lost her son in an accident…to thank her for the gift of life her son’s heart gave him.

Being an emotional sap is another good reason to go to these types of shows alone.

A few songs later, she performed Angel From Montgomery, and I think everyone was crying when she hugged her guitar to her like it was her lost, dear friend.

Starting the encore

Like I said, I beat feet at the encore, but didn’t miss anything but a 45 minute wait to exit the lot in doing so. Hearing her voice through the trees in the night air of a perfect PNW summer evening while idling in a grass field? It gave me time to think about what I take for granted: the future. Not for granted, so much, more something I look forward to with a sense of dread or contempt.

But this coming-up-on-73 year old and her 83 year old touring companion showed me that people can continue to give to the world around them well into the years of life when others have left their careers. And my Generation Jones aged drinking buddy is giving me an example on how to live life as a single-person without waiting for someone to live it with to enable it – and without caring what others think of my solo-status.

I am kind of happy about my reluctance to return to larger venues for this reason, too. Fringe benefit of going solo to smaller venues alone? I stand out as alone easier in a smaller setting. Hey, if I’m going it alone, I want credit for the finger I’m giving my failure at achieving an enduring relationship. Can’t get that in a crowd!

All of this is by way of telling you that on my fifth attempt at winning tickets in the Flashback Friday offerings yesterday, I succeeded!

Jessla would point out the time was a triple number as an indicator of this luck

You’ll notice it took 22 attempts – versus the weeks of effort that came before yesterday – but someone finally answered the phone! A few minutes later, I was the proud owner of a pair of tickets to the upcoming Shins show at Pioneer Courthouse Square and could not have been happier. Until a few minutes later when the texts started rolling in…

The year of free music rocks on, friends!

The Year of FREE Music