The Day of the Dad: a recap of Big Dave’s time in Portland

Dear you fabulous reader,

Funny seeing you here again, after writing on the ladies in my family I neglected to mention my Pops was recently in Portland.

AWESOME TIMES WERE HAD BY ALL.

My father, David P. “Superballer-Awesomesauce” Holman recently took the train from Detroit to visit his darling daughter on the other side of the continent.

Here we have Big D being coerced into getting the coolest tattoo ever

Engage your “awwww!” drives, folks, we had a kickass time.

Through the time we spent together, my dad was able to make best friends with everyone in my household as well as some of the more extended members of Eric's (you may remember him as “the man I love”) family.

Dave and I ended up on his schedule, or as I like to call it “Old Man Time”. We woke nearly everyday at 7am and thank god he knows me well enough to know what kind of monster I can be without coffee already ready and/or brewing by the time I get up.

I recall our house being painted at the time and each morning he would enquire into how the gentlemen doing the work were fairing. He'd swap construction stories and recant the most recent episodes of “Breaking Bad” to the entire crew while I sipped on coffee and realized where I get some of my better social graces. The man has no shame, he'll talk to anyone, and unless you're some sort of unfeeling monster you'll leave wishing he was your best friend. What a guy, right?

The first few days we went out to Moulton Falls and hiked upstream to a watering hole in Washington outside Yacolt. Even though the water was roughly 55 degrees my old man and I were the first ones to jump into the water. Bristling and chilly, we shivered through the bracing cold and nagged my buddy Liam into jumping in the water.

Ain't she adorable, folks?

Let me take a moment to recap on this site's unofficial mascot, Liam. You may remember him from such memorable times as “That dude pulling a Vana White on the croissants in 'Despair Baking'” or “That dude mashing the shit out of the butter for the aforementioned croissants from 'Despair Baking'”. While I have 2 older sisters, I've always wanted a big brother. A crazy, manic, excitable and intelligent older brother. This dude has the chops to fill the position. I get to play wingman to our bar outings with him, dance like idiots together at the recent Amanda Palmer Concert and make him wear a dress to advertise my garage sale last weekend. What a guy! So, I've decided that Liam is to be the unofficial mascot for Drive By Blackbird and all of its upcoming shenanigans.

Birthday Sausages!!!

No surprise, Dad and Liam got along like peas and carrots. We spent the next day (my dad's birthday!) up in Seattle where we ate “Birthday Sausage's from Uli's Biergarten in Pike Place Market. After lunch we spent the rest of Big D's birthday at the Bruce and Brandon Lee's funeral plot at Lakeview Cemetery and then we were off to The Jimi Hendrix's Memorial in Renton, Wa.

Liam, channeling his spirit animal at the Hendrix Memorial

The memorial was crazy enough, they were blasting Electric Lady Land through the sound system of a ubiquitous black Hummer and people were swarming all around. Little did we know, my father's birthday corresponded with the anniversary of Mr. Hendrix's passing. Spooooooky. So what did we do there? Oh, just met Jimi's older brother and his gaggle of nieces and nephews. Crazy stuff.

After heading back to Portland, I decided to hook my Pops up with Eric's great-uncle Ed. A man who went missing for thirty years in the USA and was recently reconnected with his whole family.

Here's another diatribe on another awesome man. Ed is a veteran of the Vietnam war and spent many of the years afterward being a train bum and working his way around the country. After all that time he was found by an awesome chick from The Oregonian here in Portland and put on the cover of the paper after he was reconnected with his whole family back in upstate New York. Crazy, right? Even nuttier is the fact that this article came up right around the time that Eric moved out to Portland, where Ed currently lives with his adorable kitty, Little One. Long story short, I love Ed and he's quite possibly the only dude I think is as sweet and kind as my own dear old Dad.

Fly tying and Japanese ice cream crepes with Ed and Papa Bear

So what happened up their meeting? Fly tying lessons and trips to fantastic restaurants. Promises to meet up at my Dad's cabin in upper Michigan for fishing and camping. Screaming at football matches at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Awesomeness.

I loved every moment with my Dad, and having him all to myself for a week was bar none, one of the best weeks I've had in a long while.

It's always been fantastic to know that of all my family members, there's one who truly gets me. My tumbling-tumbleweedness and my big heart. My love of adventure and stubborn independence. My surly attitude and soft nougaty center beneath my crunchy, bitchy exterior.

Cause lord knows, I've always been a daddy's girl. And proud of it.

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Do-Gooder

Dear you,

How much has happened so quickly since The Golden State. It feels like ages since I've written.

Here we are in our final week in Portland. It feels like the end of an era, my 6 long years in the Rose City. Normally someone like myself would do a recap of all the time I've been here (blame sitcoms and their recap episodes for this, nothing is ever really so neat and tidy).

I'd rather discuss charity. I picked up a short term position with a canvassing group that I really and truly do believe does a large amount of good in this world in the best way possible: Children International.

My job for the past few weeks has been to coax strangers into caring enough to sponsor kids in third world countries (as well as impoverished areas in the United States). Good lord, I'd thought the world had a big heart, that people cared as much as I gave them credit to. Suffice it to say after my first day outside the mall watching people rush past me to buy the new iPhone 5 instead of dropping a paltry 25 bucks a month to give dying children medical attention, clean water, food and a chance at an education I was appalled.

In my head all the times my mother has helped me came back to mind. Sure, I didn't have kids yet but for a measly 82 cents a day I felt like more people would be responsive to the opportunity to be good souls. So what did I do? I went back, everyday, and tried again to hit the right nerve and make someone care enough to sponsor: I've gotten 7 kids sponsorship so far. I highly recommend checking them out, it's a great cause: Children International

Speaking of awesome causes: my family has yet again drawn from their infinite well of human kindness. I think I love their brand of charity and goodwill best. If you met them, my mother and sisters, you'd think they were catty, snarky and gifted with rapier wits. As well you should, every woman in my family is immensely intelligent and knows it.

Okay, before we proceed, this is the perfect seque for a:

SHAMELESS PLUG!

I'm the one looking like an ass in the foreground. Brooke has the snazzy hat and Ashley is the one looking uncomfortable in front of the camera (surprise, she's a photographer!)

(they all picked up blogging shortly after me, proof that great minds think in tandem. Check them out! Ashley runs a blog about living a year on the cheap: The Free365 . While Brooke runs a blog about weddings, and how to do them properly: Brooke@Farinas).

But the funny thing about these women is, and they'll never tell you this outright, but they have enormous hearts. I'm forever hearing about the Prom Dress Drives my sister, Brooke hosts for underprivileged teens. I remember cooking free Christmas dinner for hundreds of seniors in my community at our family's restaurant. And one of the best of all these memories, my stoney faced stepfather, who seems so serious on the surface baking 1,200 cookies for Christmas…..TO GIVE AWAY.

It's from these early memories that I realized a lot of things: you don't need to be a smarmy, Eco-nazi or a hippie nut to do some of the most good in this world. Perhaps you just need a set of parents that encourage you to realize that lip-service does little good in this world. Actions really do speak louder than well-intentioned words.

The Momma, with her inspiration for another great cause: No-Kill Animal Shelters

Well, with all this obvious goodwill going around my blog, I hope you jerks go out and make a difference today.

Look for my next blog: The Day of the Dad: a recap of Big Dave's Time in Portland

 

 

The Golden State

Dear you,

 

Imagine this as an absurdly long postcard and it will be infinitely more entertaining. Trust me.

I drew this, be jealous.
And yes, I realize that technically Florida is The Sunshine State.
 

 

Eric (or: The Man I Love, as many of you know him) returned this past week and we skedaddled off to parts unknown.

I'd been to California before, LAX and Disneyland, which I don't consider to be a true understanding of the cultural phenomenon of The Golden State. So, with adventure in our hearts we jetted off to that big, beautiful bosom of America: California here we come!

We traveled all down US-101 and off to San Francisco. Eric did most of the driving and I silently white-knuckled my way along the Pacific Coast, silently praying the herds of elk I'd seen didn't decide to bolt out onto the road and kill us both. I have both an attitude resembling a shambling retiree and an OCD claims adjuster, I frighten easily and the heights, turns and drops associated with the drive turned my stomache something fierce.

I saw the redwood forests for the first time and was conned out of $4 for the privilege of walking through a tree.

Needless to say, we made our own amusement and it's easy to see I am a far less angry and cynical person when in the arms of my beloved (pheromones? Chloroform-induced sleep? Who knows… Perhaps he sweats Vicodin.)

California is a lot like Portland (but bigger) which is a lot like Ann Arbor (but bigger) which is a lot like NYC (but smaller and filled with Hybrid cars, hippies, better weed and a more colorful and cheerful homeless population.) , which is to say that everywhere is different. People, and the lives they lead, are all very similar in that we all look to be happy, to be healthy and to flourish. Whether we flourish eating stale bagels and sleeping in National Forests to avoid the cops or we flourish making 300K a year and driving a BMW or we flourish doing nothing: we're all looking for harmony.

Some of us find harmony in ridiculous poses, ukuleles and coffee…

I found harmony this past week, cruising through forests listening to white boy rappers and eating bourgeouis pastries, I found harmony in wearing my bikini in 90+ weather gliding down the highway, drinking gas station coffee and seeing something new to me. The road has never been a new place to me, but the country beneath its wheels is ever-changing and splendid, it grows and annoys me, it swells and envelopes me in cynical laughter, good food, love and bad jokes.

I stayed in three separate historical landmarks on my trip. I watched sea lions bark. I was sober in Humboldt County. I was accosted by angry Swedes and I walked down Lombard Street at midnight. I hugged a redwood tree and road a trolley car. I stumped a homeless man on Teddy Roosevelt trivia at 8 in the morning in Arcata, CA. I watched an old woman dance without shoes in a classy bar in what must have been a haunted hotel to her daughter's funk band.

One day I want to have kids, I do, and I'm young enough to know that this is the time to gather stories. This is the time to glean those interactions that make someone worth learning from. This is the time I have in my life to watch and learn and observe and understand that not everyone or everything is easily categorized. No label can stick as well as a good and rightly earned story.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

 

Yours,

Kenna

 

 

Despair Baking

Phase One of The Great American Tour has commenced. My love has taken off for parts unpolished to begin training on his CDL trucking license and I'm left standing alone in the City of Roses.

Sigh.

Phase One consisted mostly of long talks, pre-planning and barbecued ribs. Sweet, delicious melancholy.

Phase two consists of Despair Baking. For most of you that aren't aware, I spent most of my formative years under the watchful eye of my mother's banquet hall. Baking, cooking, beurre blanc, Garde Manger, confectioner's sugar and the time crunch of an artful preparation of wedding feasts that numbered into the hundreds by the time I was 16. Some would call it child labor, some would call it family business. I called it after school work.

I still love the culinary field, I even acquired a degree in it. Yet, an Assosciate's Degree in Occupational Studies of Culinary Arts (as my $40,000 diploma states, Thanks Le Cordon Bleu!) can really only get you so far in this country, much less this town.

I spent most of my early twenties trying to find work in kitchens that I found even half as fulfilling as working with my mother; and while the rest of my inexperienced graduating class was relegated to play dishwashers with expensive degrees my time spent in the family biz awarded me the joyous position of line cook.

Blurg.

Portland is a town full of misappropriated dreams, trendy clothes, faux-social consciousness (“I refuse to eat anything that casts a shadow.” SERIOUSLY?), and mental masturbation. After working in the kitchens of PDX I could easily be crowned the Queen of Migraine Town. Who honestly would agree to being paid $10 an hour to babysit a cache of mental midgets? A culinary circle jerk and daycare center for the over-inflated egos of bourgeois 20 -somethings.

Like crawling from the crevasse of self-importance, I ran screaming from this dark pit of narcissism.

That being said, I still love baking. The quiet nature of measuring, planning, working alone and without pretense. The love inherent in the hours of preparation for something so small as to be a symbol of concentrated dedication of thought. I've invented in my time baking, I've schemed and crafted things my friends and family could barely fathom before they broke their teeth into. Fairly weeping at the joyous flavours expressed upon their palate.

Well, perhaps that's an exaggeration, but I am a pretty badass baker. I've made ginger/clove infused sugar cookies filled with peach bourbon jam. I've crossed town on a bus wearing oven mitts to bring an almond/cardamom crusted pear and candied ginger pie to my friends, nearly breathless with excitement and begging them to try.

Long story short, I deal with most of my internal struggles with baking. In the wake of my love going to school I've invented new cookies, made apple fritters and in my most epic moment I coerced a friend into chugging coffee with me at 3 am to finish homemade croissants.


Baking seems to be the only thing that can pull me from this man made stasis. Like a bug in the amber I feel stuck. Work and then back, television and then sleep. It's maddening, like some creeping shadows keeping me from carrying myself too far from the house, the routine, the everyday. All expression lost in waiting between today and my life on the road.

I struggle in saying this but, Portland, I think I'm done with you. You were exciting and new when I was young and impressionable, but your clown jugglers and fire breathers, your pierced guiches and tattooed knuckles, your coffee snobbery and fixy bikes are so desperately screaming for attention. You need so much to be the most interesting person in the room, you need so much to be “taken seriously” that I could cry. You rail against being the younger, smaller sister to Seattle, yet you refuse to grow up and get a real job. You bitch about your rainy weather and yet no one can tempt you to leave the shaded recesses of your bars and cafes.

If I were a younger girl, or even just a girl I could appreciate your nature. Sadly, the time has come, and I'm embracing my inner dowager. I can't pretend to have no direction any longer or get caught up in your quirkiness.

Phase Three is me stepping into the arms of the man I plan to marry and booking it out of here.

It's not me, it's you.

 

Missing Beauty

I used to live alone, before that I lived in a house of women. Beautiful, strong, cynical and sweet women. My sisters and mother buoyed me in a sensible yet crazy existence, no surprise I'm draw to freakish outbursts of artistic merit.

Recently I've hopped from one house and apartment and backseat and garage and campsite with no beauty. I'm currently ensconced in a home filled to the brim with boys. Punk boys and fetish boys and techno hippie boys and one deliriously sweet man (in my opinion the only man for me :D). Not to say they aren't sweet, kind and generous but something lacks.

Our house tilts to one side, the paint peels and the cats run rampant. We play Nintendo and cook together, garden and bicker about cleaning and everything under the sun. But secretly, quietly and stealthily I've built a world. Inside me there's a mansion of rooms filled with Bhutanese incense and flowers from the Celebes. Sometimes there are opium dens and Chinese lamps floating down rivers of crystalline lights, often there are rain slick houses along canals in Amsterdam, I stand atop them and hope we don't topple into the murky secrets of the Amstel.

Escape by inches everyday, you make this mind your paradise

Being sedentary does not suit me. Knowing the side streets and cities of this country I am crossing won't exactly match the dream state I tend to in my mind doesn't faze me. The thought of something new and fresh, something different and beguiling all it's own is enough to make me crave being there.

Soon, very soon.

T-minus: 2 months, 3 weeks and 3 days to liftoff.

I’m kind of an asshole

Dear you,

Something I've always wondered about in blogs is how much is the writer telling us? Is said person really as witty and perverse, as sharp and funny as we perceive? Or are they just good writers? When is such-and-such going to get really self-deprecating and give up the ghost?

I like myself, I'll cop to that. I probably have an unhealthy personal view of myself, because let's face it: not everyone thinks I am as awesome as I tout myself to be.

I know that while I gripe about my body when it comes down to it, I feel better about myself than most girls and revel in the fact that my man digs a girl with a big backyard.

My temperament however, bears extra explanation. Funny enough, my explanation can be boiled down to one subject easily: Hippies. Run with it, and if you talk to me you'll find I respond mostly the same way about a lot of things. I am at once hypercritical and a hypocrite. I hate the things I love sometimes and love the things I hate.

Understand this: As a self-professed recovering hippie I fucking hate the smell of patchouli. That being said while being extremely critical of the aforementioned group I do believe we should all love one another (metaphorically), I love Nag Champa (when used sparingly) and enjoy both tofu and music festivals. Both CCR and Led Zeppelin totally rock my boat and sometimes I have been quoted as saying stupid colloquialisms such as “groovy” and “that's not my bag, baby”(though the latter was to be found in the case of an amusing mugging-turned-miscommunication, whoops!). And I always, but always, listen to Alice's Restaurant (in its entirety) EVERY Thanksgiving.

That being said, I'm still hesitant to attend Rennaisance Festivals (that's another story….), I shower regularly, I don't align my chakras or believe in Reiki, I'm never setting foot in Burning Man (500$ a ticket to watch a bunch of elitist, smarmy art fucks dance around in the desert to the sounds of Lady Smith Black Mambazzo and trance music? No thanks, I'll kick back a few margaritas in the backyard on my own terms and let dehydration “take my spirit to another plane”, or as I call it: the toilet. Yay, enlightenment, wee.) and I've never, as my sister puts it ” been gay for political reasons”.

I think it's the ability to be self-deprecating and look back on the past that really allows me to like myself. Hell, it's where I get my best material. As an ex-teen runaway/wife/hippie/carny/compulsive liar/ bitch I've got a lot to pull from. Luckily, my man finds my history as funny as I do and not as horrifying as I'm sure my mother would. It's with this in mind I try to not be as much as a shithead as I once was; but hey, we were all young and dumb once, right?

Telling my family that I had plans to pull up my roots once again and travel the nation as a relative bum once again was not on my list of favorite things. Evenmoreso as I chose to breech the topic in my most recent trip home – for my sister's wedding.

Note the trashy photo. One of my finer moments….

Needless to say, on top of all the oohs and aahs from everyone complimenting my sister (myself included, I've got a heart!) I felt like the biggest fuck up to grace the planet. Here I was “the last one standing”of my sisters, all of 24 and living a bums life out in Portland, OR while supposedly espousing how much I hated the lifestyle of its residents. I was that bum, working two to three days a week and living cheap. Always late on the bills for an unfinished education for a job I'm not doing. I was finally found as far as my man goes, but on the heels of a three year relationship that had fallen apart right beforehand, it didn't look good to the family.

You top all that pressure with the fact that it was Shark Week and I was holding a bit of, shall we call it, water weight and you have some major emotional stress.

There were no fireworks, no sparklers even. No one really responded, positively or otherwise.

And I realized, I do this for me. Maybe I am selfish sometimes, but I live for me and I give when it counts. I like me, a lot. And fuck you if you don't. One of my biggest strengths is my ability to look anyone in the face and tell them the truth of what I thought without fear. Because fear is a byproduct of giving a shit about ends to a mean you haven't figured out yet. Sometimes you get decked in the face, but bruises go away and stories last. Sometimes you fall on your ass, on the side of the road with nothing but you and a suitcase. But at least there's a road, and you still have your ass.

Over and out.

 

Ed Gein, Coos Bay and Llamas

Dearest You,

Today I find myself in the back of a van with three friends in tow. A boyfriend, a new friend and a quadriplegic friend. We've spent the last two days driving the requisite 6 hours each way to Coos Bay from Portland.

As the conversation sweeps from Ed Gein to allocation of cocaine lines to gainful employment in Hell's Army I'm awestruck at what guys can talk about. Give them half a day and no way out and eventually the stew of fart smell(that one was definitely me this time), corn chips, too much coffee and inanities will boil.

Not to say I haven't been amused, I love this. Breaking into song and shouting at bad drivers like semi-retarded children (the ADA certified bus we're riding helps in this ruse). This is what makes up most of what I adore about long-term travel. The anonymity of a vehicle makes shrieking Elton John and Art Garfunkel songs somehow commonplace, mooning someone becomes a daily occurrence- a chore, even.

We saw llamas, that is all. I mean, seriously, need I say more?

Never let it be said that the road isn't a teacher, I'm constantly learning lessons. Today, for example I've learned: Never fuck a magician (been there, done that), disabled people need guns, and never, ever Dutch Oven your sweetie- you'll pay for it later.

Over and out

In This Beginning…

Dearest You,

I've spent the past 6 years playing music, but I honestly can't say my beginning was in a shitty guitar store in Detroit.

There I was, all of 18 and pining over some shoddily made plywood and pineapple shaped ukulele. It was out of tune and no matter how I tried the shape was awkward and could not be played while standing.

No, my musical beginning was in the Pacific Northwest, in a city filled with crust punks toting pit-mix dogs and equally shitty ukes. I knew I had to up my game or at least look more downtrodden to even remotely compete in the busking game.

With this thought in mind I walked into the Portland Music Company with a paltry sum and saw him. Lyle, the brutish red color of his skin and ugly mess of friction pegs in his neck couldn't put me off. He had no strings and the sticker read “Made in Japan” but he took my breath away. I took him home and cleaned him up, strung him up and swapped out his pegs for machine gears and listened to him sing. I had no idea until this past year that “Lyle” was a well known guitar manufacturing company that was the maker of Aria guitars and had a rather spotty history with the Martinez company in the 1960's. Either way, Lyle was my first tenor guitar and anchored me in a way I couldn't understand before to the blues, bluegrass and to the rhythmic makings I didn't know I had in me. Lyle still has a place in my heart as my first real investment, both financially and emotionally, in the musical world. Lyle begat Daphne, Daphne begat Earl and on and on until there was a veritable family of reclaimed instruments in my basement apartment. I seldom collect things, but I've found myself collecting broken instruments since that day.

I'm about to be reborn again, the man I love is about to take up trucking. The only way this was ever going to be okay between the two of us is if I went with him, alongside him. Some road bound hausfrau making bourgeois coffee and highway homesteading state to state. I told him yes, I would go. Yes, we should go and live out something neither one of us expected would become a dream to do. I'm taking the music with me and wondering how best to make my name known when audiences are sparse and limited to roadside diners and rest stops. I guess the best means come from ingenuity but this looks like a sunrise to me, a gorgeous way to leave everything and connect to something

I'll make sure to keep you posted.