Tumalo Falls

A year ago last October we were in Bend for a week and found some of the best fall colors just before you get to Tumalo falls. Our house in Bend is on a ridge overlooking the Tumalo creek which is a beautiful creek that flows through a small town also called Tumalo, just north of Bend.

The Tumalo Creek starts either from No Name Lake or from Broken Top itself. The creek joins with the Deschutes River near Tumalo and the Deschutes then flows northward to the mighty Columbia River.

Kodak Autographic 2c Brownie

Just goofing around today in the new studio. I’ve had two weeks of stressful cleanup preparing the house for sale. These two weeks no doubt were the worst – they required getting rid of a lot of old junk – 17 years worth. I call this “Phase 1” and there will be two more iterations – Phase 2 and Phase 3, but each will be much easier and dare I say more enjoyable than Phase 1.

10,000 Maniacs, R.E.M. and The Decemberists

I recently read a Robert Christgau review of 10,000 Maniacs and its obvious that he thought more of R.E.M. but didn’t totally trash 10,000 Maniacs either. Then I read the Trouser Press reviews – and I like Trouser Press much more than Robert Christgau.

HOWEVER, Christgau did say one thing that I think is correct – but I wanted to dig deeper to see if I could better understand things when you compare the two bands – who were two of my all time favorites in the 80’s and still today. He more or less said that Natalie Merchant was creating “word salad poetry” and that she had a funny weird Polynesian accent.

I listened to several of my favorite 10,000 Maniacs songs and read the lyrics closely – “Back of the Moon” and “Can’t Ignore The Train” and yeah – the lyrics sound like a 20 year old straining to write poetry and perhaps trying to be a little too literate. I did try to decipher the lyrics and only could a little bit. Then it struck me – Natalie Merchants absolutely fabulous voice NEEDS lyrics – because the way she phrases her singing. To prove that theory I listened to her singing “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” by R.E.M. and while a decent cover – it sounded pretty boring, actually.

I then read several of R.E.M.’s lyrics and listened to Michael Stipe’s “Mumble-Singing” and found the lyrics to be more direct – even when he’s mumbling. Later he did try his hand at political lyrics – but I think I’ve learned from this that political lyrics always have a way of sounding out of date or too “preachy”. Maybe if you were playing folk style in a Greenwich Village coffee house in the 60’s – but hate to say it – rock music should be a little less obtuse, dense or preachy.

Another band that is in this genre somewhat is The Decemberists. Their album “The King is Dead” is really superb – probably their best and most like R.E.M. and 10,000 Maniacs – and having Peter Buck and Gillian Welch (plus many other super guests) was brilliant. But I still do like some of their really quirky earlier stuff – I think I listened to Picaresque 10,00 Million times . . . The first two albums were pretty great two. I didn’t care for their live shows where just when they were building steam – they stopped and had these stupid sing along thingies that totally broke the mood. Why did they do that?

Anyway – damn the critics – sometimes there are secrets to why a song and a band sound great – and the critics miss the whole point. Natalie Merchant singing straight on simple lyrics sounds boring – but when she sings word salad dense poetic lyrics its beautiful strong and compelling.

I’m Already in Bend!

My Bend Proto Studio

I’ve lived for 17 years in a man cave that I built in the garage that was funky and quite cool. Literally and figuratively speaking. I froze my ass off until a space heater kicked in and when it got hot, the AC couldn’t keep up in that space. For Ham Radio it was perfect. As a recording studio, not so much. When I played cello my bow hit the recording desk and wall.

I’ve taken over our unused small middle bedroom – which is the same size as my studio room in Bend and YOWZA!

Our new house that will be built starting in June – ish, will give me the same space as our middle bedroom, where this photo was taken. OMG – being in such a room with great light and heat / AC leaves me totally verklempt.

Talk amongst yourselves …..

Synchronicity 1919

Back from the War 
To End War
They had a plan
She'd be his wife
He'd be her man

On the Bremen
Hamburg to Newark
Shiny new City
Shiny new Country
Sure looked pretty

Family photos
On the new Kodak
Folding device
Mother with Children
Sure turned out nice

I bought this 104 year old antique on Etsy for $50 if I remember right. I’ve used it as a prop but just realized how it crosses my family history at two most important times – when my Grandparents were in their 20’s and when I was in my 20’s I worked for Kodak in Rochester, NY.

Synchronicity perhaps?

Just goofing around late today in my new studio . . .

Adios Orinda – Part 3: Apple Blossom Express

Our Heirloom Gravenstein Apple Tree
In the dead of night
Hear the whistle blow
Green and slightly tart
This is how they start

Green Apple Man
Smiles a brimming cup
He knows your secrets
He knows whats up

You finally learned
Patience for your dreams
Wishing Chair: Fall Harvest
Tasty tart and green

There are quite a few beautiful old trees on our property, and this old apple tree is one of our favorites. It could be 70 years old, and when watered enough it delivers the tastiest green apples, crisp and slightly tart. Absolutely perfect for baking.

Ironically, some of the best fall colors around are right in our front yard.

I’m now really looking forward to moving and worked very hard getting rid of quite a bit of stuff on Next door and with our garbage companies “Bulky Waste” and Recycle days.

Its been a very busy week – time for a well earned cocktail!

The Red Hand

Camera Obscura
Hidden from site
Red hand controls it
Lets in the light

Shutter is open
Wide open lens
Surveillance is Love
You and your friends

Your every move
Watched from inside
Government Compound
Give em' a smile!

Phantom Drummer

In the dark
Forlorn night
My ears pounding
Shadow fright

The sound is low
Resonates
Near my soul
Ear drum aches

Hammer, stirrup
Please be still
Mind be quiet
Final Will
The Metamorphosis

Ah yes – whenever I listen to (some) of Tom Waits albums, I do get some very interesting inspiration. The three albums that I love are the “triad” of Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Franks Wild Years. There are others – some of Mule Variations – and more that I haven’t explored yet.

My Assemblage art mentor – Jack Howe of Santa Cruz – has sold several of his pieces to Tom Waits – and so there is this erstwhile sidewise indirect connection I have with Tom Waits. You see – these three albums sounds like the creepy, dusty but oh so cool (horror fascination) with the strange.

The musicianship is top notch and very unique. When I first heard Tom Waits I thought he was channeling Louis Armstrong or some of the New Orleans Blues – Jazz artists or older black blues artists – very vintage Americana. But now I realize that while there is no doubt some influence – he is very unique.

Its old soul music – matches old soul creepy Assemblage art, and I love it.

Adios Orinda – Part 2: Mighty California

When I think of California – besides the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco – Mt. Shasta is where I left my heart . . .

The silly assed media had you believing Trump was a genius and that California was falling apart.

Neither are true. Not by a long shot.

Google California Economy and you’ll see that its the 5th largest economy between Germany and ahead of India. The Central Valley is the #1 food producing area in the world. Don’t cry for California.

The natural beauty in this State is probably #1 in the country. The diversity of Coast, Mountains and everything in between is beyond compare. I’m partial to the West Coast but also love Colorado.

California is over populated in some areas and its also very expensive. Its fantastic if you want a great paying job and a place to raise kids.

Its not “mellow” and its not a great bargain to live here. But don’t expect Texas or Florida to be any better – when I hear some nitwits go on about how everyone is moving from California to these and other states I laugh. You might gain something and also lose something when you move.

17 years ago we fell in love with Bend. Until just a few years ago – and because of Covid, but more importantly, telecommuting (100% remote work), I had to be in an office. Bend is in a much less populated state but the job situation is no where near as good as the SF Bay Area for what I do – I’m a Senior Data Architect / Senior Data Engineer. There is no better place on earth than the SF Bay Area for this.

I was able to have a tower and big ham radio antenna every place I lived in in California. In Bend, every neighborhood has an HOA and CC&R’s against such antennas. I couldn’t live in Bend as a ham radio operator. Every place has its good and bad. Bend Winters will be colder and last 2 months longer than Orinda. I grew up with worse weather – much worse. Orinda weather has been excellent.

Now combine Orinda as a town in the SF Bay Area – its naturally beautiful with hills and trees and lots of open space and I know that I am very lucky to have had 17 years here, 10 in Lafayette and 10 in San Francisco.

I loved Newton, NJ growing up, but long Winters commuting in the snow and very humid summers with lots of rain meant lots of rained out weekends. As a kid that was fine. There were lots of good paying jobs in Northern NJ and NYC.

There are plenty of problems in California, but no better or worse than any other place in the US or the world.

There is no utopia, no perfect place. However, given your life situation, and your age and “station in life” some places are better than others.

100% remote work had dropped from 100% to less than 75% by my non scientific but statistics based calculation of headhunters approaching me on LinkedIn looking for people at my level to run their Data Warehousing or Corporate Reporting operations – and 100% remote. My experience affords me much more leeway than when I was younger. I expect 100% remote work will be easy for me to get for as long as I chose to work.

My two sons have jobs that are either 100%  in office or “hybrid” – so they have to be here.

Somehow, young people are still buying houses – just like mine – the least expensive in a VERY good location.

It was hard when I bought my first house in California and now its even harder. However, unlike the past, many parents are better off and they help their kids more than when I bought my first house.

But affordable housing in California is a serious problem in the state. Over population is also a problem. Crime is on the rise.

Any place people flock to have this exact same problem. There’s always a reason people flock to such places.

I lived in Rochester, NY for a year and Lock Haven PA for 3 years and they were dirt cheap. But guess what? These rust belt places had awful weather and no jobs. Lock Haven was better than Rochester (only weather wise – it was even worse job wise) – but my last semester at college – that February – didn’t get above zero for the entire month. Rochester was the gloomiest city I’ve ever lived in – cold, dark and depressing in the Winter and raining all Summer. The reason I moved there – Kodak – went bust. Heartbreak City, USA. Lock Haven had the college as a place of employment but its attendance is 1/3 of when I went there – and they no doubt have downsized and even consolidated with two other state schools that have the same demise. My sister lives in Peoria and she and her husband have to work 2 retail jobs each. Sure, housing is cheap. The weather sucks too.

Pick yer poison!

Adios Orinda – Part 1: The Shack

A very surprising feeling overtook me today. Its that feeling when, while you are very excited about leaving a place, you then get blind sided with a pang of heart dropping sadness.

My man cave

Orinda has to be one of the best places to live in the SF Bay Area. My ex wife and I moved from San Francisco to Lafayette in 1994. Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda were not so well known. They have some of the best schools in the Bay Area, and at the time, the house I sold in Miraloma Park bought a much nicer house in Lafayette. Orinda and Lafayette are on the BART line and close to open space so you can’t find this kind of living in any other place at this price. The Peninsula and Marin have awful commutes and only Marin has this kind of open space – but Sir Francis Drake is just about the worst commute. Both are way more expensive, so the value proposition stinks.

Cubase home studio recording software used for this song

My ex wife and I divorced in 2005 – 2006, and I left the Lafayette house and purchased this Orinda house. Its a cute 50’s rancher on a great property with a creek. Its very homey and comfy.

Arturia keyboard, Yamaha HS-5 monitors, Mix cube and SSL12+

I met Kat and she and I are much more compatible and its been the best 17 years of my life.

One of 4 excellent mics – 3 ribbon and an SM-57

When I first moved in, a year before Kat, I built this “shack” in the garage. Its only 7 x 10 feet. It started out as a Ham Radio shack but for the last 3 years its been my music studio.

A room full of creepy dolls and puppets

Its a classic “Man Cave” and when I had the heating and cooling system replaced, I had them add a vent. Its OK, but it gets pretty cold in the Winter and hot in the Summer. A space heater has been great, and if we have a heat wave, I use it early in the day.

A cool door which was left under the house when I bought it

I’ve had a ton of fun in this little shack. My wife did a fantastic job remodeling the bathrooms and kitchen so my two favorite rooms in the house are the kitchen and my shack.

There isn’t a bad room in the house and I know it will sell in one day as others recently have that are on our street and comparable as far as they also being the original mid century rancher floor plan.

To avoid melancholia, I will start moving my home recording studio into the middle bedroom – since no one has used that in years. Then I will have to take down the shack and return that space to be what it was intended for – the second car of a two car garage.