Let's Build Something This Summer

Although I’m a fan of alternative music (which I would define as hipster music or maybe rock music for aging punks), I’m not a big fan of the alternative band The Hold Steady. Big fans of The Hold Steady wear band t-shirts and have Hold Steady tattoos and go to Hold Steady concerts. I just have one album. It's not even the latest one.

This album has two songs that I especially like. One is called “Sequestered in Memphis” and it’s a song about the consequences of a night gone horribly wrong, but the reason I like it is because it is a word salad that feels particularly crunchy in my mouth. If I found it on a list of karaoke songs, I might choose it. It’s easy to sing because the lead singer of The Hold Steady is known more for his verbal range than his vocal range. (I’ve never sung karaoke, but I’d like to think that I might if pressed.)

The other is a song called “Constructive Summer.” It’s a song about a mill town with mill folk, who are feeling a little disillusioned and forgotten, but still have a little rowdy hope. So maybe they should get out their hammers and ladders and build something. The words of the bridge are, “Let this be my annual reminder/That we could all be something bigger.”

My summer so far could be called “Sequestered in Summer.” The Captain had a bulging disc his back that was causing damage to his spinal and sciatic nerves, so on June 1, a neurosurgeon went in there and excavated some of that disc. We are in the stage of our lives when we have a neurosurgeon. After the surgery, the neurosurgeon ordered him to sit still for most of the summer. The Captain is a bike and motorcycle riding fire fighter who doesn’t take lying down lying down. But in the interest of having a working back for the rest of his life, he has behaved himself – loudly. I have tried to work around him without making him feel like a piece of furniture, but sometimes I’ve had to fight the instinct to dust his head.

You would think that such a lull in our daily lives would have given me the chance to really spend some quality time in my studio, but life and family has a way of filling the moments of your day unless you carve out time and hang a big DO NOT DISTURB sign on your nose.

Now, the end of June/beginning of July, we have been somewhat de-sequestered. The Captain (who is no longer a captain, but The Battalion Chief doesn’t have the same ring to it) and I have decamped to a camping spot on the southern Oregon coast. 

It can be windy on the southern Oregon coast, so one may need something other than long walks on the beach to keep one occupied.

It can be windy on the southern Oregon coast, so one may need something other than long walks on the beach to keep one occupied.

His physical therapist has given him some exercises and ordered (okayed) him to ride his bike (on a stationary trainer) for a while each day, which he does outside the travel trailer at our camp site, so his mood is improving.

Rehabbing while listening to osprey brag about their fishing achievements.

Rehabbing while listening to osprey brag about their fishing achievements.

Personally, I’m taking some photos that may turn into paintings this fall and I’m thinking about climbing Humbug Mountain. It’s easier than actually climbing it, and I recommend it. I’m doing it while wearing hiking boots, so I’m pretty sure, if we are working on a system whereby the one who scores a majority of votes wins, that I have thereby climbed the mountain.

I fell and scraped my knee in an attempt to get a better photo than this. This one will have to do.

I fell and scraped my knee in an attempt to get a better photo than this. This one will have to do.

I ought to build something this summer. I’m going to start with a fancy DO NOT DISTURB sign.

Then, I’m going to work on my first real portrait. I specialize in landscapes. The reason I specialize in landscapes is because that’s what I feel comfortable doing. I have occasionally painted humans in profile and backlit, but never “full frontal.” Since it is my first, the garbage can will probably see it before you do, but 10,000 hours starts with one. Then I will paint some meerkats I once saw huddled for warmth at a zoo in Colorado Springs. Then for a return to form, some landscapes from photos I took a while back in Central Oregon.

The Captain has been researching ways to use solar and gas generators to provide power while camping off the grid, so he’s got a constructive project.

Let this be my annual reminder that we could all be something bigger, which I am currently achieving by eating brownies in a lawn chair.