A RARE and fabulous experience at the OLD CHURCH

Bloged in Oregon,Portland by mark Wednesday August 31, 2005

Today I felt as if I had an old wonderful comedic memory revived vividly TWICE in one hour and in the same room. I hope you’ve heard and experienced both ANNA RUSSELL and FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS. Anna Russell was one of the finest Classical Music Comedians ever on the stage. In her exaggerated British drawl she could dissect Wagnerian Opera, explain how to play a bagpipe (with the pipe in hand), or simply do an impression of some small town ladies club president introducing the “artist of the day” at a monthly meeting…..one of her most classic routines. Florence on the other hand, was a wealthy woman whose friends were afraid to disagree with her………they continued to tell her that her voice was beautiful ….. and always asked her to perform for them. She had a dream of performing in a huge hall so way beyond her prime years, she rented Carnegie Hall and got someone to sell it out. The recording is torture to listen to……….and hilarious at the same time.

SO. What does that have to do with today?

We were invited by friend Roushdi and Eran to attend one of the “free” weekly musical recitals offered at Portland’s “Old Church” on Wednesday’s at noon.

People may bring a small sack lunch or noshables………… the audience is made of those interested in music (and every week the program is different), PSU students, even a homeless character will come in occasionally, and lots of older folk coming in from the condominium towers nearby.

Roushdi got us our grilled Panini Sandwiches and gave them to us as we went in. As 12:00 PM arrived, a very old little lady dressed very nicely, hair in a bun, hobbled up onto the stage…..and over to center floor to announce today’s program. Her first words were, “I’m getting older and climbing up here gives me vertigo.” So as she stood there dizzy, she described who would be singing, and introduced the accompanist who was sitting at the piano. She continued to look and squint at the program and finally turned around to the lady and asked her what her name was……………..it was all I could do not to giggle, sorry. It was SO ANNA RUSSELL………………………..

So we got through that, and the artist came onstage in a lovely lavender dress with long shawl. She described herself as such a “believer” that she saw God in everything, even in Popular Broadway and Folk Musical(s). She said she was going to sing things but had re-written some of the words to make them more powerful bringing God into the culture of music. Hence, we heard things from Carol King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” to themes from Phantom of the Opera from a blonde woman who sometimes placed her shawl around her head and pretended to be the Virgin Mary. EVERY high note was a struggle and it did not often hit the pitch. The vibrato reminded me of the old electronic Hammond Organs Vibrato, a fast ………..whir whir whir whir………. As each song passed, we were looking at each other and noticeably beginning to stifle giggles we couldn’t control. We DID have to leave after 30 minutes because all of us were beginning to audibly crack. The poor woman took herself SO VERY seriously………..it was SO FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS that I could HEAR her friends choking back when she would ask them what they thought of her singing……….

By the way, the pianist sometimes stopped….and picked up a few measures later because she couldn’t really play either. IF THIS hour show would be given on the COMEDY CHANNEL it would make MONEY ! ! !

SO I TRULY and SINCERELY want to thank Roushdi and Eran for this fabulous revival of TWO of my favorite musical comedian memories………..but this time seeing it performed LIVE……………in a very OLD CHURCH………….. by SERIOUS PEOPLE…………… it WAS fun. As the afternoon wears on, I’m laughing more and more ……………..

I KNOW any of you who know Rusell and Jenkins will know exactly WHY we had a good time.

Mark & Rodger.

Later Summer is here.

Bloged in birding,garden by mark Tuesday August 30, 2005

Ah. Despite poor care (except for good weeding and getting water), the garden has certainly done well. The tomatoes are laying over the five foot cages and producing every day, the beautiful French Fennel (left foreground) has about 100 bees on it every day eating up the yellow pollen:

The Giant Sunflowers are at least 8-9 feet tall and corn at least 8 feet:

That was LAST week and Mac shows the effects of a 90 degree day…………..THIS week, the corn tassels have all been cut off in hopes our corn will last long enough to ripen……….We must have 100 ears of corn in those tall plants.

HOWEVER…………….last night, after two months of NO rain at all, we were hit with a great one inch thunderstorm in about 10 minutes……….we’ll have news about what that did to the garden later.

A beautiful highlighted summer evening happened this weekend. I came into the house to see Rodger on the back deck with binocs in hand looking almost straight up. Curious, I walked out and he’d spotted a huge flock of Cedar Waxwings at the tippy top of the tallest fir. Continuing to fly in, they seemd to finally number around 30-40 in the flock. They aren’t small birds, and so smoothly feathered, they DO look a little “waxy” …………..too far away to take our own picture, we’ve borrowed these from the web………they eat fruit and berries mostly, so we don’t see them often up here:

and one more shot of a beautiful bird:

Mac goes to the vet to be “tutored” Friday.

So much for news here. We’re doing resurface work on the wall of the garage that is just outside of the kitchen. Finally sealing up old drywall and shelving so we can get the last surviving “old” cabinet hung out there over the washer/dryer……………… so off to work.

Mark

owl babies & deer

Bloged in birding,Nature by mark Monday August 22, 2005

We had a nature moment Friday night

We went outside into the garage to talk about kitchen lights……………………… about 9:00 ……………..

Little Mac …………….. begins to snarl …………..and began to run down the driveway as though his pals “Porter & Quinn” …. Across the street neighborhood doggies were still there…………..but we began to yell, “MAC……..STOP………….and he DID stop about halfway down (hurray for training) ………..then we WATCHED a big Yearling DOE run DOWN SKYLINE in front of us………….
MAC did halt.

MAC then, as he came to realize that a live animal was there, began to run along with her along the street barking at her loudly………she went off to the left into the wooded lot that’s undeveloped and wooded.

MAC ……….stopped at the road! Hurray………..we praised him and came back in.

We proudly praised him for being obedient when he went to one of the bedroom windows and began to bark.

We couldn’t figure that out………..until Rodger thought he heard something out near the garden.

Rodger took the flashlight out and saw something making a kind of little bird-like whining noise ……………..fluff over into the Fir Tree……………Rodger described the sighting as a BIG bird …………..but not knowing what it was.

We both went back out and listened to what was an obvious fledgling bird whining for Mom. With the flashlight we kind of scared it into a couple different trees (as Rodger discovered the MOM making the “Who Who Who” sound following them………..

Rodger finally actually saw the fledged owl in one of the Pine Trees…………….just as he (and a sibling) flew off to the next closest tree with Mom calling.

What a thrill……………..Here we have found a screech owl family obviously successfully making a second brood out searching for training about how to live.

That was fun……………..MAC was oblivious about the reasons…………but it was a fun moment. HOPE the owl babies learn how to hunt………there are plenty of mice around. We’ve been catching one a night in the garage for about two weeks.

Mark & Rodger.

Kitchen (almost final) Update Aug 17 05:

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Tuesday August 16, 2005

August 17, 2005

Other than paying for this thing, I’m beginning to actually believe the remodeling project DOES come to a successful end. There is still much to do but we feel confident it’s going to work out.

I believe our last entry made much ado about TILE, selection, getting, and installing. Everything leading UP TO installing is child’s play. Remember our diary entry August 03 about the sweaty long job of laying Wonderboard and getting the floor mostly level PRIOR to even thinking about the tile. Also, using 18 x 18 inch tile doesn’t help make it easy. You lose a larger percent of larger tile by having to cut edges, etc. But that’s what we chose.

We finally settle into work after good friends and neighbors Dave & Deborah loaned us a “Wet-Saw” Dave has used to tile the entire exterior of his new home with ONE single diamond blade. Yes, getting a “chalk-line” down and “thinking” it square is a challenge in a 25 year old room that now has an island bolted down in the middle of it. But we made serious progress the first day:

Each odd cut required using the wet saw, and with apologies here, Mark gets HIS pic in the post because Rodger took one EVEN THOUGH Rodger is the perfectionist who really got into the process and by the end of the install, could almost hand hold a tile at this machine and get what he wanted, for example, where the furnace register required a tile cut with one edge less than an inch wide about 8 inches long:

And, lest we forget, we have a small pile of tile remnants out in the driveway edge giving testimony to the work this cutting job takes. As we discovered, the Porcelain Tile we are using is one of the hardest tiles made. Anyway, here’s Mark at the machine:

Once set on the mortar, the tile had to cure for 48-72 hours. So we prepared for the next step, GROUTING. The cement for the mortar and grout is powdery nasty stuff extremely hard on your hands. Even with the best gloves, your hands begin to look mummified, but we got through it. When grouting you spend a LOT of time cleaning up the powder when it dries:

Once the Grout’s in and cleaned up, you rest again and prepare for the final step, “sealing” it all up. It finally begins to look pretty sharp after the 3rd sealing coat:

With the floor finally down, one can begin to move appliances back into place and when you can do that, you’re a happy happy human
A dishwasher, really? Yep, that’s an amazing invention I have never taken for granted:

And the kitchen begins to look healed and complete:


The floor, once finished, has added a completely new dimension to the look and feel of the room.

Monday, Robert returned from Hayes Cabinets and placed trim, adjusted cabinets, made repairs, etc etc ALL DAY and still will be back for more, but, the room even at This late stage, once again, looked more finished and quite beautiful.

Robert’s return also allowed us to get the stainless backsplash installed onto the hood. Or should I say allowed Rodger to install it. He did all the work on this item as well. Rodger gets BIG scores for a lot of finish work. His persistence has paid off in benefits that will pay us back for years.

Mark spent most of the entire day finally picking up scores of boxes, items in back rooms and trying to get them back in order. The garage is an intended final destination for tools, etc., but THAT end waits for another day. We still have to sort out items for donation, and get this mess out of the living room too:

So it ain’t all pretty. But smiles were all around yesterday evening and pride over a job well done.

We both have a few injuries that will take some time to heal. Mark may have permanently injured the middle joint/tendon in the middle finger while Rodger may have permanently injured his last two fingers on the typing hand with nerve damage. Whew!

Still, we’re happy things are this far and we can begin to learn how to cook and socialize maybe? I need a nap.
==========================

Watermelon & Corn

Bloged in birding,garden,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Wednesday August 10, 2005

We stopped by Sauvie Island Farms (farm of the great Hale Haven Peaches) to PICK our own sweet corn…..The “Bodacious” Variety is unarguably the sweetest corn grown and these were no exception. We had a sweet Watermelon here from the hot country of Hermiston, so last night we had a high-calorie dinner of buttered corn on the cob and very sweet Watermelon ! A HIGHLIGHT of summer……….

It reminded me of a childhood favorite time of year too, in Vale, when all the farmers took a break from the hurried summers pace of growing their crops to gather at the local church for a “Watermelon Bust and Corn Feed”. It always was one of the happiest times of the year for the farmers….everything was at its best, crops were beginning harvest, the nights were warm, and that three hours of social gathering was a great time. We kids were always husking corn, of course, but there was lots fo eat, lots of folks laughing and enjoying that warm summer night……… I DO believe I never saw those folks happier than that night every year….and that includes Christmas. It was a great little small town moment every year just before school started again, before the irrigation reservoirs almost emptied, the huge harvests would be at happening at breakneck speed, and yes, the weather would start to chill.

And that’s where we are now right here on our little acre. ALL of our songbirds have departed, we’re eating tomatoes, lettuce, onion, etc out of the garden. We’re nursing the 8′ tall corn tassels with insecticidal soap hoping some of the pollen fertilizes the tiny baby ears now growing. The sky is cloudy this morning (no rain) and the house is cool…..does this mean summer’s peak is past?

doing it yourself laying tile

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Wednesday August 3, 2005

August 2, 2005

Dear Diary:

ah………one of my favorite hydrangea flowers.

It seemed all so simple then…. and life was beautiful. We had a kitchen we thought 98 % done and no more “two steps back”…………hah. We had materials purchased and everything decided………..hey, don’t you just go buy it at 12:00, bring it home at 1:00, slap it down by 2:30, and like a Do-It-Yourself 30 minute TV Show on, you’re having 40 friends over with the same TV Crew to show off your new floors. I mean all you hear is, “Yeah, yeah, you do this and that, yeah, you gotta adjust for this, but it’s pretty straight-forward stuff and you won’t have no problem. Just slap down that 3×5 ft mortarboard then the tile will be easy.”

Life is not like TV no matter if it’s soap-opera or the Home and Garden Channels. In 30 minutes they actually show on film about 1% of the total work done and THAT 1% is edited for time. At the moment, once again, the fridge is in the living room, no dish-washer, “stuff” is everywhere…………..disposal unhooked, etc.

This life episode began with Mark driving once again down to Swan-Island (a pensinsula on the Willamette located AT the “Port of Portland” where all the ships are off-loaded or loaded. Several large transportation companies are there, and if the product you sell is heavy, it may be smart to pay rent two blocks from the ship rather than truck your stuff 30 miles away. So, that’s where the tile Broker is. Anyway, we calculated that two loads on the half ton Toyota pickup would be required so planned just what we would bring home in each load. The Tile itself would be about 1400 lbs while wonderboard and all other materials about 800. Luckily, this time, as planned the material was ready to go. I told the loader I needed to take tile 10 cases along with the wonderboard he’d loaded onto the pickup to balance the weight out. “Sure, he says, “Happens all the time.” The tile cases are banded together in cases of 3 packages each so they are very heavy (to Mark)………..“10?” I said yes. He picked them up like they were foam……….and gently put them into the pickup. I immediately thought, “hm………. Installing this floor will be a lot different for ME as opposed to that guy handles this stuff all the time.”

Get the stuff home, spend a while unloading, back for remainder of material and a second unload. Thursday night…….. we began laying out wonderboard and planned how each would be cut-to-fit. Rodger decided to take Friday off so we’d get a jump on this. Hurray, all going according to plan!

Friday. We began in earnest, and we’re SO confident how quick this would ALL go, we took a long breakfast, read the paper, drove to Home Depot to browse, etc. Got back and began to cut the wonderboard for the space. Nancy G dropped by to look at Mark’s hand (another joint pull…this time caused by Mac) and left another of her hand-made cement creations: two beautiful hands that are cupped to form either a feeder or bath for the little birds. NANCY – You’re wonderful, these are beautiful.

Well, on the board cutting: The Skil Saw did a great job, but was a little slow. It took us well until dark to finish simply cutting the damn stuff and putting it on the floor to make sure it fit.

We were humble by then, and Saturday morning Rodger spent the entire day spreading mortar and laying the wonderboard…the muscle job. Mark spent the entire day putting in about 700 (I’m not kidding) screws at the required 8 inches apart………..We were so confident, we even went to Dave and Deborah’s down the street to borrow the wetsaw telling them, “Oh Sure, We’ll have this thing done in just two-three days.” That was the end of THAT dream.

We were so sore Sunday morning we did NOTHING, NADA, ZIP other than traveled to Nancy G’s to celebrate Dee’s (Nancy’s Mom) birthday with friends MaryAnn, Carol and Sandy. Dee is one fabulous lady. We got to hear a wild tale about her folks building a store on the Yukon River where she spent the first few years of her life. Anyways, the dinner was fabulous. Nancy as usual outdid herself with three gourmet salads and flank steak along with shrimp to fill us up. Sandy is another pastry chef who made a blueberry pie with crust that flaked into crumbs when placed in your mouth. She says HER secret is freezing the Crisco (the non-trans-fat stuff) and using a little more Crisco and called for but a little less water………have to try it.

So now it’s already Wednesday and Rodger’s back to work with NO tile set. I think we’re about to begin moving again though.

Mark spent Monday catching up on a dozen odd jobs, watering plants, garden, lawn, washing more clothes, cooking some food since the kitchen will allow traffic once the tile is down (for 2-3 days), cooking more hummer food, putting up the deer fence…..etc etc etc.

In OTHER NEWS:
Deer have arrived. On getting up Monday to water the garden early, discovered all the lettuce munched including the bolted old stuff (I’d hoped it would seed itself). So half the day was spent putting up the deer fence………….

Birds are leaving………Goldfinches are losing their mating colors, and it is so soon………………it’s hard to accept that the clock moves faster when you’re busy.

Well. Wish us luck. Maybe tonight we’ll start laying OUT the tile to get it squared and lined up for an install to begin tomorrow?

And lastly, thanks to Peter M sending us the pic, here’s Rodger working one of Baird’s FAMOUS fourth of July “Flying Steel Wool Fireworks”……….always thrilling:

Mark & Rodger.

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