Musings about music, writing, Portland, my new house, my travels, my family, politics, whatever.....

Thursday, August 31, 2006

"...With exactly no help from the government."

So I am deep into packing now... I feel like I just did this, maybe because I did, not 11 months ago.... But this time I don't have Tracy to show me the funny things she finds while packing and offer me old clothes. Emma Lou is good company though, she enjoys exploring all the empty boxes. And the weather has been a bit cooler this week, which is nice.

When I went over to sign my lease, its turned out the house needed a hose, a doorbell battery, a stove filter, and a few other little things. My new landlord, having just told me that tenants were like family, and handing me some cash for a garden hose, decided we should just go to Home Depot right then. So I hopped in his truck and off we went. He told me about his family and his history in the neighborhood, etc. Truly he is refreshing after my previous rather neurotic landlord. I have a good feeling about him, and about the house. It'll be fun to have my own whole house, a garage (really more like a barn), a little attic, a garden which is already producing vegetables and herbs (tomotoes, string beans, carrots, lavender, rosemary...). I will have to learn how to care for a garden, finally. And I will adjust to the the wallpaper in the kitchen. The cute nook makes up for it.

Fall plans are already unfolding. The Americana Music Assoc. conference in Nashville in late September, a trip to Missoula with Raina in October, New York for Thanksgiving. Maybe even a job with Planet Bluegrass in the spring... My festival looks like it may just begin to take shape.... Next week I get to start hanging out with Willa (who will be four soon!) again on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. There's a new band I might do some work for. And I have some great concerts planned: Andrew Calhoun, Crooked Still (who just got an amazing review in USA Today -, Tom Catmull, Anna Coogan & North 19, Chris Pureka, Edie Carey and Ashleigh Flynn. Tracy Grammer and Darryl Purpose are in the works, and maybe another health care benefit...

I finally read the rest of the Mother Jones cover article from the May/June issue so I could send it to Rebecca: "The Revolution Will Not Be Shrinkwrapped: Breaking the Industrial Food Chain." I liked this sentence: "The [$14 billion market in organic food] was built by consumers and farmers working informally together outside the system, with exactly no help from the government."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rob Brezsny in Boulder

One thing I forgot to mention about Boulder, is that on the night I got there, Jeanne and I went to see Rob Brezsny speak at the Boulder Bookstore. You know, the guy who writes Free Will Astrology, published in all kinds of alternative publications like the Willamette Week, the Missoula Independent, and the Boulder Weekly. And the Boulder Bookstore is possibly my favorite bookstore after Powell's.

So we went, and it was packed to the gills, people standing in bookshelves to see. He was different than I expected, more new agey, into the spiritual stuff, than intellectual. But I'm OK with that, even glad sometimes. He was great. Extremely inspirational. A very Boulder event. I was exhausted from my trip, and sat down between some bookshelves and just listened and admired people's shoes. People have very nice shoes in Boulder.

I'm eager to read Rob's new book, "Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings." I have it on hold at the library (but anyone who wants to buy me a birthday present.....). You can see more about him at

Oh, I got a house! A little two bedroom house near NE 37th and Killingsworth. :)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Colorado adventures and an anniversary

I am home again after a week in Colorado for the Folks Fest and some good visits to some good people. The festival was great. The highlights for me were The Waifs, Paul Kelly, Ani DiFranco (not entirely visible in the picture, but I like it anyway), Blue Rodeo, and Jane Siberry (who is actually now Issa). I volunteered in the box office and met some lovely guys named Carl and Bill. And I ran into Deidre, my roommate from when I lived in Boulder 10 years ago. In the Pea Green Dyke Den. When we were young and we consumed a lot of Jello shots, among other things. It was good to see her, find out that she has two kids now, and see that she still loves Ani just as much as always. I also got to spend some more good time with Steve, Ani's FOH sound engineer and production manager, an incredibly sweet guy. Also talked to her road manager, who I turned out to have some old friends in common with.

The most productive parts were talking to some Planet Bluegrass people about a possible job there next season, so that I can learn about running music fesitvals... They were quite positive about that possibility. And... I got the first funding for my own festival that I have been planning and scheming about for a while. A songwriter festival near Portland to be held (in 2008?), in part, to honor Dave Carter. Pretty crazy to think it might really work...

Before the festival I saw Bindu (my step-brother, or ex-step-brother) for one night before he want to London on business. Afterwards I stayed a few nights with his sweet girlfriend, Jeanne, in their new house in North Boulder. Also spent a night each with Beth and Darryl in Nederland. A beautiful town this time of year. The only time it's not winter... It was so good to see Beth and her adorable puppy dog (I just typed god, that maybe also be true), Stella. And cool to see Darryl's house with it's great view of the mountains, and talk about music festival schemes (as well as go for a walkin East Boulder and chase prairie dogs....). (So from top: Ani, Jane Siberry, me, Bindu at the new vegetarian restaurant in Boulder, Beth and Stella, Darryl, cute prairie dog.)

The first time I drove past the Boulder County Justice Center I thought they must be having some kind of street fair out there. The parking lot was full of tents, RVs, and people. And then I realized it was just the JonBenet media circus. Funny that I happened to be in town when that story was back in the news again, since I lived there in 96 when it first happened. I suppose I hope they solve it now, but really the media is just too much.... Beth thought it might be best to sell cookies to all of them camped out there, they way she used to at Dead shows...

Now I am home, desperately surfing Craigslist for a place to live... So glad to see my kitty cat, Emma Lou. She and I just went upstairs for dinner with our neighbors, Abigail and Aubrey. Abigail cooked us all up some pesto with basil from her community garden plot... And we finished my port. Yum.

Also, today is the 16th anniversay of my mother's death. I haven't really done anything particular to mark it, but I have been aware of it all day. I remember that day quite clearly. How Emily had slept over the night before, and my grandmother came in in the morning while we were both still in my bed to say softly, "Your mother is gone." And later I went over to see her, and my cat, Oreo, didn't understand why she was so still. It was a hot day. And a few weeks later I turned 15. Its a bit crazy to think it's been so long. I still think about her all the time; I suppose I always will.

Here's a picture of my mom on Cape Cod from sometime in the early 80s. She was on a bike trip with her friends, I think I was at summer camp.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Relatives, cocktails, Ani and a housing crisis

There is much to report about this past week.... My lovely cousins from Cairo came to visit me: Jonah and Jessica and their ridiculously photogenic daughter Makaylah (17 months). I had seen them in January and February, when I spent about 6 weeks in Cairo visiting them and going to another cousin's wedding in Israel. It would be great to get to see them twice a year every year, but I don't think a trip to Egypt and Israel is in my annual budget. Anyway, they flew into Seattle on Monday night August 7th, which gave me almost enough time to recover from the Pickathon. I drove to Seattle, picked them up at the airport, and we all visited our grandmother, Happie, for two nights (Happie's late husband, Charles, was Jonah's grandfather). Also saw Jessica's friend, Scott. (And at this point I should say that Jessica and I have an agreement that I am Jess and she is Jessica, cuts down on confusion most of the time, at least for Jonah.) The second picture above is everyone sitting outside Victrola Coffee in Seattle. From left it's Makaylah, Jessica, Jonah, Scott and Happie.

Last Wednesday we all drove down to Portland, had a lovely playground date at Wilshire Park with Willa (my very favorite 3, almost 4-yr-old) and her parents and a few other 3-yr-old friends. Jessica and Brandon, Willa's dad, turned out to have tons in common, both being middle school drama and English teachers. Later on, I took Jonah to Laughing Planet to try the burritos, since he is a burrito aficionado and wasn't sure any burrito could be as good as those at Bueno y Sano in Amherst, MA (thoughts, anyone??). Turns out he *loved* the burritos at Laughing Planet and insisted on eating them twice a day for the remainder of his stay. I was pleased, but after a few days I refused to eat any more burritos myself.

We all had a very nice visit, walked around the neighborhood, went to Pix, saw Raina play at the farmer's market (left)... It was really just good to have them around. Sleeping on the couch and being woken up by a small child early every morning was absolutely worth it! Things got crazier, though. Little did I realize that having Jonah, Jessica and Makaylah meant all kinds of people for everyone would descend up my house. On Friday, Abbie Moos (a cousin of Jonah's dad) came up from Corvallis with her two kids, Jamie and Lily, and Lily's fiance, Pete. We, of course, ate burritos with them for lunch. It was great to see them and I resolved to hang out with Abbie in Corvallis (or actually Philomath) more often.

Here's where it gets bad: around 5:30pm on Friday, I arrived home to an eviction notice posted to my front door!! My landlord is selling and we have to be out by, get this, September 11th (I don't know if this counts as eviction, but it sounds more dramatic)!! I love my house and my apartment and my neighborhood, and this is no time for me to be dealing with this, I was was supposed to leave for Colorado on Monday... Needless to say, I was not happy at all...

That night, we had sushi with Raina and Briel. And then went to the airport to pick up Angie, a friend from Vancouver (via Cairo), who flew down to see us as well as Alex, Jonah's best friend from New Jersey, who flew in later that night (are you still following?). Then on Saturday, more relatives showed up, this time Judi Scharnberg (my mom's cousin) and her partner, Marcus, from Arcata, CA (see first post below). We all went out for brunch at Equinox. Yummy. After that, Jonah, Angie, Alex and I went down The Bite of Oregon, a waterfront music festival. My friends Tracy Grammer, Mark Erelli, and Stephanie Schneiderman were performing (unfortunately, at the same time).

We rushed home around 6pm to clean the house and have a cocktail party. Very much fun and good music was had. Makaylah stayed up until midnight and was so enthralled with all the people and the music that she didn't even have a tantrum, just tired herself out and crashed.

Jonah and Jessica and Makaylah left early Monday morning and I decided to get a flight to Colorado instead of driving, since I now have to deal with my housing situation. I'm not going to get into all that here, I've thought about it enough for now and this is long, but email me if you're interested.

On Tuesday night (after a burrito with my upstairs neighbor, Abby... It had been two days!), Phil took me to the sold out Ani DiFranco show at the Aladdin (he said he wanted to do his duty and bring a lesbian... thanks Phil!!). I hadn't seen her in years (5 or 6?) and I really had a great time. She played a lot of older songs from Little Plastic Castle, which made me happy. Something I think I don't like her anymore, but I was reminded of how much I used to love her (every thought her fans are awfully screamy). :) Also met some of her crew, who Phil knows. I might see them again on Sunday at the Rocky Mtn Folks Fest....

Anyway, I am now in Boulder at my step-brother, Bindu's, house. A lovely new house he has with his girlfriend, Jeanne, on Dogwood Lane in North Boulder. Tonight I will go to Lyons for the Folks Fest. I look forward to visits with my friends Beth Amsel and Darryl Purpose in Nederland next week.

Pickathon pictures

Here are some pictures from the Pickathon. I may have some more later...

Kris Delmhorst and Mark Erelli:

The Wailin' Jennys:

Roy and Heather:

Raina in her new Pickathon hat:

Greg Brown playing one of Sherry Pendarvis's homemade instruments backstage:
Raina and Garett in the merch tent:

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Recovering from the Pickathon

Well, all the planning and postering and waiting paid off, the Pickathon was amazing this year. Last year was fun, but this year was far beyond that. I don't really think a blog post can do something like this justice, but I'll say a little bit anyway. The weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot. I was grateful to have the lovely and talented Raina Rose to camp with. She really helped me keep my sanity by feeding me Luna bars, keeping me sparkly (really), and singing to me at night. I wish she'd had a real grown-up set and not just two kids sets (although she and Garett totally nailed the kids stuff, they were brilliant) because I realized how much I really do love to hear her play. Next year maybe. In the meantime, see

But the line-up was pretty great anyway. I must admit, a little too bluegrass/old-timey for me in places. Really my favorites were the acts I already knew and helped to bring there. Not new discoveries, but great anyway: Kris Delmhorst, Mark Erelli and The Wailin' Jennys. What really made me happy was how much everyone else there loved them. The Jennys especially kicked some ass. I won't get into numbers, but they sold tons more CDs than any other artist there (and that includes Greg Brown and Iris DeMent, who were good, too). I also liked the Everybodyfields and Martha Scanlan (who I originally met in a parking lot in Missoula).

I was in charge of the merch tent (in addition to the workshops), and that was kind of crazy what with all the T-shirts and trucker hats, in addition to hundreds of CDs. My volunteers were amazing and wonderful, even though Allison and Jeff decided to ride their bikes the 27 miles from Portland, and they got lost in the suburbs and were two hours late. But they made it and were rock star volunteers just like last year.

- Raina and Garett singing to me in my tent at night.
- Kris Delmhorst and Mark Erelli in the workshop barn.
- Driving a golf cart around for the Wailin' Jennys.
- My very favorite Thai restaurant on Alberta St being a vendor there, and it was my idea. :)
- Blackberries right outside my tent in the morning.
- Endless free Pixie Mate Latte samples served by cute people.
- Watching Sherry Pendarvis ride her horse through the middle of the site, followed by her dog, Freckles.
- A really nice chat with Darol Anger.
- A really nice chat with Martha Scanlan.
- Seeing Silas (Zale's son) play in the dirt.
- Hanging out in Jill's family's trailer.
- Being interviewed by the Portland Roots Music Project documentary crew at about 12:30am and being told they heard that I was an integral part of the festival and knew lots of important people (...?).
- My NEW tent from REI (A Mountain Hardwear Light Wedge 3).

The main low point was loud people drumming on buckets and rapping at 4am and having to get up at ask them to be quiet (and then realizing it was the sweet McMenamins guy I knew, and I'd been kind of bitchy). So there wasn't much sleep had, but that's how it goes... Reaching that delirious point is part of the fun. Zale (the director) asked me at the end if I'd gotten any good fulfillment out of it. I got tons of it! It's a crazy thing to be involved in running a festival, but I can't really imagine many other things more fulfilling, when it goes well.... We'll just have to see where my festival inclinations lead next.... (Oh - and pictures of things besides my tent are to come soon.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pendarvis Farm and blackberries

I just spent all day at the Pickathon site, Pendarvis Farm. Setting up the workshop barn, cleaning tarps, moving furniture around and getting to know the owner, Sherry Pendarvis (and her dog Freckles and her three horses). She's hilarious, I love her. Toolbelt, pink lipstick, beer, she is totally prepared. I tried to set up a campsite, and my old green dome tent died. It was my mother's tent, the one we had since I was a kid and camped in on Cape Cod, in New Hampshire and Vermont and Maine.... Definitely had sentimental value, but it had some small rips, all the stakes were bent and the poles were coming apart. Today one of the poles splintered pretty badly, and the tent collapsed after I almost had it all up. I realized it was time to let it go and make a trip to REI (any advice, Emily??). So my first new tent will be exciting. It's time. And at least I have a blog to memorialize my old tent on....

After moving things around a lot and being very social, I retreated to the blackberry bushes, which are everywhere there. The fattest yummiest blackberries. I took a bucket and filled it up for almost an hour. One of the farm cats came and stuck right next to me the whole time. I brought the bucket back to where everyone was sitting around waiting to eat and they ate a lot of them, but there were lots left (see above).

Crazy week, bad Monday, good curry

Well, I'm too busy this week to write a lot. Trying to babyproof my house in honor of Makaylah... And Pickathon is this weekend, lots to do to get ready for it. Its going to be such a fun time though!! Greg Brown, Iris DeMent, Kris Delmhorst, Mark Erelli, the Wailin' Jennys, Darol Anger, Kelly Joe Phelps..... And, the Raina and Garett Kids Hour should be a highlight!!

Yesterday I began the day with a kitchen fire. A dishrag was on the stove and it caught fire and burst into flames while I was boiling water for tea and had gone in the other room. So I managed to get it out, removed the still-smoking remains from the house and started my day being totally late. Then later my car blew a tire on the 205 near Vancouver (exit 28)(that's Washington, not BC for those of you who are not local...). Then I almost injured myself falling into a deep rabbit hole by the side of the highway, while trying to get some shade. Luckily, Raina was there to help me laugh about it and also to provide a working cell phone and AAA card. So then I had to replace my two front tires and pretty much not have an afternoon after that.... Oh, and then some woman pulled out really fast right in front of me on Fremont and I came extremely close to really hurting both of us. Luckily, my brakes worked well and all it did was make me more tense for a little while. But the evening ended with some really good Thai red curry that Raina and I made and Briel helped us eat. Which made things a lot better.

I sent a petition from Jewish Voice for Peace to a lot of people the other day, and have had several dissenting responses saying that they will not sign something asking for Israel to have a ceasefire. It is not a simple issue at all, and I do not presume to know the answers, I probably know much less than most people about it. But to me some basic facts seem clear. One is that we as US citizens only have any influence over our own government and thus Israel, as their ally. We could have a petition asking Hamas or Hizbollah to disarm, and I'd be the first to sign it, but they already hate us. Do you give advice to your friends or your enemies? Also, it remains true that Israel has killed many many more innocent civilians in both Lebanon and Gaza than Hizbollah or Hamas. I do not want my family in Israel to get hurt, and wish that Israel and the US could try doing less things that make other Middle Eastern countries hate us/them, so that both Israel and people here can be safer. I'm all for hating terrorism, in Israel, Seattle, New York, everywhere. I do hate it that people can be that angry, that the world exists where that seems like the best outlet for some people.... OK, I think I'm getting delirious here and can no longer say anything coherent. I'm sure I already sound naive in many ways. Oh well. Thanks for reading anyway.

Despite a few heated emails on above topic, today was much better than yesterday. Lovely weather, lovely dinner at the new Mississippi Station with Jim & Julie and Kate & Steve (while REM - or all of them besides Michael Stipe - recorded with John Wesley Harding next door and had a drama involving too many birthday cakes). And I got a new cell phone, so I am reachable again. In fact, feel free to email me your number, because my whole cell address book got lost and I'm missing a lot of numbers... So email me your number, or your opinion about Israel, or your opinion about red curry, or the Pickathon line-up....

And here's a totally unrelated picture of a few of the stray kittens born in my backyard last month. Want one?