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Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

New Music Day

As soon as I read the e-mail about the annual sidewalk sale at Music Millennium,  a great independent record store here in Portland, I knew it was time for New Music Day once more. I try to limit this exciting event in my life to every few months, so that way I am not spending my hard earned retirement money every time I walk past a record store, although it isn’t always easy to resist the pull of buying whatever is on my constant list of cds that I feel I just have to have. I do update the list every so often, listening to little snippets on i-Tunes from each album I have on my list, making sure I really have to have it. I grabbed a bus ticket and my current list of ten cds, and headed east across the river to whet my voracious appetite for music once more.

The sidewalk in front of the store was teeming with music, in vinyl as well as cd format. I had long ago jumped on the cd train when it came along, wiping out vinyl, or so we all thought at the time. Now it seems to be making a comeback, all those large lovely vinyl records, but I followed the flock and sold all my wax so I could turn it into plastic discs – one of those decisions in hindsight I wish I could rectify but I just say, oh well and stick with the shiny plastic music now. I carefully made my way through the bins and boxes of $2 cds, many of which I used to own but traded in at one time or another. After carefully looking through all the offerings and telling myself I really didn’t need to repurchase music I had once gotten rid of, my only discovery of cheap music was a cd of bagpipe music for my daughter, but nothing for me. So into the store I went, my list in hand.

So much music! I could get lost in a place like this, but I only had another hour on my bus transfer and I was too cheap to not make use of it. So I managed to eliminate the albums they didn’t have, the ones that weren’t on sale or used, and managed to find two off my list – one a newer album by an artist named Young Hines and another album by Built To Spill from 1997. Now it was time to catch the bus and head back to my home for a listening party.

The album by Young Hines has many different flavors, from more pop oriented songs to those that ring with a strong blues influence to a couple that just flat out rock. As I listened it sounded familiar, like another artist I have heard. Once I realized that Brendan Benson produced this album, the influence of his touch on this album was clear, although he still left room for Young Hines’ individuality to shine through.

But it was the album by Built To Spill, titled Perfect From Now On, that has me listening to it over and over. It was recommended by a friend who really loves it and now I can see why. Normally I am more a fan of the two to three minute pop song, not really enjoying overly extended musical jams. But with the average song length of these eight great songs at around six minutes, I find that each one comes off so perfectly orchestrated. It is a sprawling, swirling mix of sounds within each song; changing beats, going from loud to soft and back again, taking the listener on a crazy fun house ride. And this is what I call a “headphone” album, one that can only be fully appreciated with the headphones on, so as to not miss every little nuance of sounds coming together. Finding great timeless music like this makes me hope that in my next lifetime, I will come back to work with music in some way, shape or form – it fills my very soul.


A sunny day at Saturday Market

The sun came out! And it stayed out, all day long! And you know what happens then? Portlanders come out of their homes, sans umbrellas, hats and hoodies to venture to the spectacle that is the Saturday Market. This is the March to December gathering down by the waterfront that consists of artists selling their unique creations, food vendors offering everything from soup to nuts, literally, and the best part as far as I’m concerned, the music that fills the streets – from some very inventive street musicians to those asked to play on the two stages in the market. My first stop in the market was the head shop(yes we have plenty of head shops here – in fact, Mary Jane’s House of Glass has two convenient locations, one on each side of the river)  that sells my favorite incense; only ten cents per cone with scents ranging from mango and cotton candy to sex on the beach and dragons breath – I’m still not sure how one knows what dragons breath smells like, but it smells pretty good to me. It was a busy day at the head shop, and I had to wait patiently to pay for my incense while the customer before me was getting their lovely glass bong wrapped. As I walked through the market, I could hear the music from the different street musicians playing all around me. A man was set up next to Skidmore Fountain, expertly playing a set of drums that were actually different sized buckets – and he had people dancing to the infectious beat. But the sound that really caught my ear was a group of young ragtag musicians not too far from the bucket man. They were quite a sight, all of them dressed in quirky clothing, and most of them sporting piercings and some very colorful tattoos. And the plethora of instruments they played was astounding – I saw a violin, a guitar, two banjos, a mandolin, a ukelele, someone played a saw, another played a washboard, there was a young man playing the spoons, and in the very back I saw someone actually playing a washtub bass. But the music that came out of this very large and unusual mix of instruments was really good, and it was fun and full of energy. The fervent applause after they played, and the pile of money in the open guitar case was testament to their talent. Then I wandered to one of the stages set up in the market, where I heard the funky sounds of an R & B band. I smiled to myself as I saw the lead singer; a young woman with a huge Afro, dressed in buckskin hiphuggers with beads on them, and a white bikini top of white fur. I felt transported back to the 70’s. And man, could that girl sing and dance! The song they were playing was “We Got the Funk”, and they sure did – the band played that funky music so well that people in the crowd were moving and swaying with the beat. There is nothing like listening to and watching live music; for me it is the mark of an absolutely perfect day, and nothing can compare.

Free time

I love being retired! And with it comes a welcome and refreshing amount of free time; time to do the things I had always dreamed about doing, and sometimes not really doing much at all. Either way, it is my choice, what I decide to do with all my time – my treasure chest of free time.

My answer to a question


The question was asked of me

“What do you do with all your time?”


Well, today I journeyed to the park

I packed a bag full of books and filled my water bottle

And after I grew weary of reading

I lay down on the carpet of lush green grass

Closing my eyes, I saw my surroundings with my ears

There were cars driving by, and buses loudly humming

The bicycle man drove by shouting out “ice cream!”

Wind enticed the leaves into conversation

I heard flashing lights of red and blue from the frantic fire truck

Then I opened my eyes

I saw the trees waving hello to me

Their long branches heavy with abundant leaves

Creating a canopy over me, gently shading the sunlight

And I saw people like me, in the park

Doing what they will do with their time


Once more I was asked

“What do you do with all your time?”

Well, today I journeyed to the river

I sauntered along the river walk for a time

Then I grew weary and retired to a bench

And I watched a yellow kayak float by

It reminded me of a banana floating on the water

I listened to the gulls

Complaining to one another

About the lack of food the tourists feed them nowadays

And I noticed the bridges

Lined up like stiffened arms reaching across the water

The one made of dark black steel beckoned to me

So I accepted its invitation of safe passage

And crossed from west to east

My view of places is altered

I see where I was; downtown buildings dot the landscape

The esplanade I walk down shifts and floats with the river

And I see people walking along, just like me

Doing what they will with their time


The persistent questioning continues

“What do you do with all your time?”

Well, today I grabbed some money and a credit card (just in case)

And I journeyed to the mecca of quaint shops, eateries and other delights

That make up my neighborhood

I zig zag in and out of stores

Some offer such pretty summer clothes

But look! I found a new hat!

The tea shop up the wooden stairs has the most delicious teas

But today was hot, and I had a cold beer instead

Sitting at a sidewalk table

And one more stop before I go home

The bakery – with the macaroon cookies – their specialty

I wait in line behind all the people

Doing what they will with their time


So now I have a question for you

What do you do with all your time?






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