Mark Your Ballot

Man… I just voted. What a mental work out that is. You sit there, ballot and pen in hand, flipping through the pages and pages of pros and cons in the voter’s pamphlet, trying to figure out what the heck these measures and the candidates are all about. It’s maddening really.

Though, I always feel good about voting. After all, voting gives me license to complain about the outcome, since I’ve participated in the system. I figure, if nothing else, I have that. It’s part of what still makes this country a great place to live, our constitutional right to complain. Though the pessimist in me says in today’s climate it seems disagreement, no matter with who or what, is looked on with contempt and suspicion. And to that I say… come on. Please. We’re supposed to disagree with each other. It makes the system better. When there are questions, answers are expected. It’s what keeps things from spinning out of control in any singular direction. But hey, those are just my thoughts.

So, I’ve voted. I’ve marked my ballot, made my choices, for good or bad (depending on who’s reading and with what eyes), and the deed is done. I only wish I wasn’t voting just so I have the right to complain. I wish I was voting FOR something. FOR someone. I want to feel excited about politics again. Like I did, way back, when I turned 18 and filled out my first registration card. I want to feel like I could make a difference, that the system makes sense, and that it works well. I want to feel, that at the end of the day, my selections work for me, and for those I love. I want it to be pure, and I know that makes me naive. But I do… I want it to be about a coming together, not a pulling apart… moving forward, not standing still.

A Flare for the Dramatic

No, I didn’t misspell the title of this post. There’s a reason for the madness. Yesterday, with all the flair we could muster, we once again tried a new approach to getting rid of the moles or gophers that are plaguing our home and our flower beds.

We’ve tried other things before now… Most notably “the worm”. Advertised as a new cure all and invented by men who, I’m sure, don’t actually have moles, and probably never have. They are little flexible sticks of mole poison fashioned to look like actual worms… which if you think about it is a tad silly, since moles can’t see. Ah well, humans can, and stuff like that is always made for the buyer, not actually for the mole. You know what I mean? But, the guy at the feed store said they worked, so we bought them. A box of 10 for $20 big ones. We put them out and for a couple of days we thought we had success. No new mounds, no mole… right? Alas, it only lasted a few days. Because after a few days, yep, you guessed it… new mounds. Which, logically to us, meant new mole. We thought, OK, we must have killed one, it’s a new one that’s moved in. We were “in the moles head”, thinking like the mole. Trying to be one with the mole. We just knew there was a mole conspiracy out there. They had like a little mole party pad, and at that little mole gathering they would tell each other where the good spots were to set up residence. Kind of an underground mole network. We felt they must certainly be recommending our place, after all, it’s beautiful here. And, to make matters worse, they were spreading the word on the whole worm thing. So, when we tried the worms again, at a cost of another $20, the new mole was wise and cunning. He stayed away from the worms. They had no impact.

Which leads me back, in this sad and telling tale, to the title of this post. Last evening, after we returned from the Children’s fair, which I will post about in a moment, we took ourselves to the store and bought a couple of old fashioned road side flares. Yes, the kind you use when your car breaks down. We brought them home, found a couple of places we could dig in and get to the moles little underground habitrail, lit them, and put them in, covering them up so the smoke couldn’t escape. We don’t know if it worked, but, this morning at least, we are mole free. No new mounds. We’d heard this technique had worked for others, and so far, it’s worked for us. Though tomorrow is a new day and there seem to be either a lot of places for the little buggers to hide, or their network is mighty and vast. We shall see. If it doesn’t work this time, we are determined to go get more flares, a bushel of them if necessary, and try again. At only $2.79 a stick, it’s much cheaper than the worm, and at least a little more fun. At least you get something akin to fire works, with nearly the same amount of smoke.

I’ll report back and let ya’all know how it goes, since I’m sure at least some of you have been assailed by moles yourselves. Who knows, this flare thing could light the way toward a day when there are no more moles making tunnels, and we, citizens of the world, might be free of their tiny mole tyranny. I might sound a bit dramatic, but it’s been born out of the frustration of feeling like we’ve been under attack. They’ve singled us out. And now, we’re fighting back, and taking no prisoners. I have a good feeling about this. This time, we’ve won. I just know it….

B Sides – 100 Best Songs

As I made the 100 Best Songs list I had occasion to add and delete songs as I went along. In order to give those songs who were once on the list their due, I include them here in what I like to call the B sides.

Long Road Home – Patty Griffin
Galileo – Indigo Girls
Two Tickets to Paradise – Eddie Money
Weather With You – Crowded House
Vox – Sarah MacLachlan
Creep – Radiohead
Hollywood Nights – Bob Seger
Avalon – Roxy Music
Burning Down The House – Talking Heads
Right In Front Of You – Celine Dion
100 Years – Five For Fighting

100 Best Songs (in no particular order)

Preface: I realize people won’t agree with all of these selections, and frankly, I might decide to change some of them up at some point, but for now, these are them. Take em or leave em… they’re the 100 best songs I could come up with. Let me know what you think and what you’d add, or remove. Music is personal… so without further ado, here’s a look into my musical psyche.

1. Under Pressure – David Bowie & Queen
2. Me & Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin
3. Sister Golden Hair – America
4. Tuesday Morning – Melissa Etheridge
5. She Says – Howie Day
6. I am… I Said – Neil Diamond
7. Never Been to Spain – Three Dog Night
8. Suspicious Minds – Elvis
9. Heroes and Villains – The Beach Boys
10. Yesterday – Beatles
11. Summer Highland Falls – Billy Joel
12. Slave to Love – Roxy Music w/Bryan Ferry
13. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby, Stills and Nash
14. Time to Say Goodbye – Andrea Bocelli
15. Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin
16. You’re Still You – Josh Groban
17. Come On Come On – Mary Chapin Carpenter
18. Anna Begins – Counting Crows
19. Stuck in the Middle With You – Steeler’s Wheel
20. Sail Away – David Gray
21. Arms of a Woman – Amos Lee
22. Hold You In My Arms – Ray Lamantagne
23. Nessun Dorma (from Turandot) – Puccini
24. Don’t Come Easy – Patty Griffin
25. Into the Mystic – Van Morrison
26. Rocket Man – Elton John
27. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – The Platters
28. Boogie Woogie – Tommy Dorsey
29. Maybe I – Five for Fighting
30. Summertime – Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong
31. All of Me – Billie Holliday
32. At Last – Etta James
33. Don’t Take Your Guns to Town – Johnny Cash
34. Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ – Charlie Pride
35. Behind Closed Doors – Charlie Rich
36. For the Good Times – Ray Price
37. He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones
38. Let’s Stay Together – Tina Turner
39. When I Fall in Love – The Lettermen
40. Along Comes Mary – The Association
41. To Love Somebody – Gary Puckett and the Union Gap
42. Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You – The Four Seasons
43. Let it Be Me – Everly Brothers
44. That’ll Be The Day – Buddy Holly
45. Soul and Inspiration – The Righteous Brothers
46. Candy Man – Roy Orbison
47. Georgia On My Mind – Ray Charles
48. I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt
49. Colour My World – Chicago
50. No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley
51. Fever – Michael Buble
52. Cecelia – Simon and Garfunkel
53. Honky Tonk Woman – Rolling Stones
54. Changes – David Bowie
55. The Blower’s Daughter – Damien Rice
56. Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & the Pips
57. Closer – Better Than Ezra
58. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
59. Mercy Mercy Me – Marvin Gaye
60. Dance To The Music – Sly & The Family Stone
61. Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
62. Stormy Weather – Etta James
63. Come Rain or Come Shine – Ray Charles
64. This Side – Nickel Creek
65. Cold Day in July – Dixie Chicks
66. Secret Garden – Bruce Springsteen
67. Take Your Mama Out – Scissor Sisters
68. Everybody’s Changing – Keane
69. Angel – Sarah MacLachlan
70. Melt With You – Modern English
71. Let Me Down Easy – Chris Isaak
72. Daughters – John Mayer
73. Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World – Israel Kamadawiwo’ole
74. She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5
75. Sorta Fairytale – Tori Amos
76. These Are Days – 10,000 Maniacs
77. I Don’t Wanna Talk About It – Indigo Girls
78. Have a Little Faith In Me – John Hiatt
79. Red Light – Jonny Lang
80. No More, No Less – Collective Soul
81. Home – Dishwalla
82. I Fall to Pieces – Patsy Cline
83. Bright Lights – Matchbox Twenty
84. Doth I Protest Too Much – Alanis Morissette
85. Right to be Wrong – Joss Stone
86. Cannon in D – Pachelbel
87. Four Seasons – Vivaldi
88. Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers
89. Home – Marc Broussard
90. On The Sea – Vertical Horizon
91. In the Mood – Glen Miller
92. My Funny Valentine – Frank Sinatra
93. Bleed To Love You – Fleetwood Mac
94. Something in the Way She Moves – James Taylor
95. Drift Away – Uncle Kracker
96. Big Yellow Taxi – Counting Crows
97. Let The River Run – Carly Simon
98. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – Elton John
99. Superstition – Stevie Wonder
100. Behind Blue Eyes – The Who

3504.7



That would be the number of miles we traveled on our road trip. We took 2106 pictures, between the two of us. Stayed in 6 hotels, 1 campground, and two lovely nights at Dan and Linda’s place in Vegas. We hit 6 states, and 7 national parks. I wore 10 different t-shirts, 6 different pairs of shorts, and only one pair of flip-flops. We bought one set of bookends near Zion, three pairs or earrings from a Navajo woman near Monument Valley, and three books in Boise. We made friends with two German guys while in Bryce Canyon and one woman from Georgia at the Grand Canyon. It was a great trip. Fantastic.

This morning we got up and were out of Bend by 9:00 after a call from mom to wish me a happy 41st, and making our way to old downtown Bend to find coffee and a couple of pumpkin old fashioned donuts. Tasty. We took highway 20 towards Salem out of Bend, which took us through Sisters and past the very bright, clear, and beautiful Three Sisters peaks. Instead of sticking with 20 all the way into the valley we decided to go a more scenic route and followed 126 West toward Springfield and Eugene. Don, we would’ve stopped to see you, but when mom called this morning she mentioned you were up in Portland, so we just moved right on through. Well, almost right on through. We stopped for some chicken to go, and then went to a park in downtown Eugene that’s on the river, to have a little picnic. Karen said, because it was my birthday, the food choice was mine. So, I picked a picnic, it seemed a fitting last vacation meal.

Finally, on day 10, we are back home. I love traveling, but I also love coming home. There’s something nice about not having to drag the bags in and out of the trunk, or wondering if the bed is going to be comfortable, or knowing that you have miles to go before you sleep. As good as it is seeking the adventure, it’s just as good or better being home again. This home that we’ve made and I love so much.

So, I’m posting my last road trip related post, and Karen is in caulking the shower. LOL… That girl doesn’t waste any time. She said, “I just thought of this and want to do it so it doesn’t bug me, you just hang out and relax… it’s your birthday and besides, you’ve got a cold”. This was, of course, after she washed and vacuumed out the rental car. It was quite a mess. I’ve never seen so many bug bodies stuck to one car. So… I’m resting, because yes, I do have a nasty cold. We sort of passed it back and forth over the course of the trip. It never got terribly bad for either of us. We each had one day we were exceptionally tired, but all in all it wasn’t too bad. So, I’m hanging out, typing, and relaxing… And, for now, she’s caulking. I’m sure there’ll be other tasks she thinks of because that’s my girl, always taking care of things. And this post, well, this takes care of what I had to do. Now? It’s more advil, a good movie, and a handy close by box of Kleenex. Tomorrow we return the rental car. After 3504.7 miles, they will probably regret renting to us.

Oh, and thanks to everyone who sent birthday wishes my way. It’s been a good day, a good trip, and a good 41 years.

#15

Bend


First I want to say a happy happy birthday to my aunt Syd. We thought of you as we were making our way today, hope you had a great day.

Second, here we are, day 9 of the 2006 road trip, nicely ensconced in the Sugarloaf Mt. Motel in Bend. Coming in from the east this was the first place we came to, after the Econo Lodge. It’s a huge place, and had rooms available with wireless. The signal keeps going in and out, but hey, it works, so I’ll be able to post tonight.

We had a long day today, but another good one. We started a bit late out of Boise after walking to a local bagel place for some coffee and a blueberry bagel with butter for Karen and an Early Riser bagel for me. It was a tasty and satisfying way to start the day. Plus, there was a bookstore next door we couldn’t resist and three books inside we didn’t resist.

After getting the bite to eat and doing a little shopping we hit highway 26 west through numerous small towns and some beautiful countryside. We stopped a couple of times in the John Day Fossil Beds area to take pictures, read some roadside signs, and then again in Prineville for some food to go. It was a long day in the car, but once again we turned up the music, sang, and chatted with each other. Nothing beats good music and great conversation.

Tomorrow we’re going to mosey around Bend. It’s been awhile since I’ve been here and really walked around… and Karen, she hasn’t been here since Mary was swimming.

#16

Canyonlands and Arches, Oh My!




We were up and at em by 8:00 this morning, leaving our fine little hotel and heading North toward the southern most entrance to Canyonlands. It was an adventure, to be sure. We found and fed wildlife, in the form of horses roaming freely near the roadside, and also ran some over…. Yes, sadly, I hit a squirrel. I still haven’t recovered. We also ran ahead of, and then finally with, the weather. The views though, were amazing. Every time we hit a new park we are astounded by the difference in the topography and the phenomenal way Mother Nature can paint.

From Canyonlands we made our way to Moab for lunch at La Hacienda. There’s nothing like a couple of enchiladas to keep you going in the right direction. We also discovered a Starbucks and gave in to the temptations of the black gold by purchasing a couple of cups for the road toward Arches.

Arches, again, was amazing. We found ourselves asking the same question over and over… how? How did this happen? How were these made? We took picture after picture, but looking at them just now I thought, we didn’t really capture it… and I don’t think a person really could. The size of the monoliths is incredible. There’s no way to take a picture of something and put it in perspective, except perhaps when there are people in it. And still, it doesn’t get the bigness of it all.

We ended our day today running with some major weather. Lightening so bright it lit up the whole sky, making it seem like day. The rain was so heavy we were creeping along, following the car in front of us who was traveling with its hazard lights going. All this in what was supposed to be a 75-mile an hour zone. I think we were going 30. For a while there was hail. The weather report on the news tonight said the hail was an inch in some places. Luckily nothing that big hit us. We were just glad to find Salina and this hotel. It’s the first town we came to and the first hotel we saw once we got here.

Tomorrow we head further north through Salt Lake City toward Boise. There’s a huge storm coming in tomorrow, which is actually supposed to dump some snow on the ground in higher elevations. We’re hoping to get through Utah before it hits. It means an early start in the morning, but we’re up to it… or will be after I get this posted and try to get some sleep.
We’ve hit 6 National Parks since leaving home last Friday. It’s been a great trip so far… and it’s not over yet.

#18