Category: life

My favorite albums, 2000-09

I’ve found that the further away I’ve gotten from high school the less my musical tastes match up with those of my friends.

In high school it was almost a given that everyone in a given group liked the same music. Sure, there was always a weird person who kept trying to force country or hip hop on everyone, and individual tastes diverged at the edges, but we all agreed on around 83 percent of everything we were exposed to.

Now it’s a rare treat when I can toss band names at a party and get some nods of recognition. Over time musical tastes become more of a personality quirk than a passion for many of us, with previously insignificant traits such as one’s opinion on heirloom tomatoes, hydraulic fracturing or professions emerge as important signals.

This week we had dinner with friends of our expecting a kid soon. Eventually music came up, with a very specific intention.

“Basically I’m asking to talk about old punk bands,” our friend Sarah dropped onto the table.

The four of us are the rare meet up, people who met and became friends before music came up, only to find we shared many of the same tastes.

We spent the next half hour going through our CD collection, discussing the finer points of the career arc of the Suicide Machines and whether or not that guy from Bright Eyes has a weird voice.

So thanks to Sarah and William (and some inspiration from this Keith Law post) I started to curate the CDs and my iTunes library, looking for my favorite albums over the past 10 years.

I came in thinking I’d actually rank them, but I like it better as an alphabetical list. Seems cleaner. I came in thinking I’d add an explainer for each, but as the list grew that became more unlikely. I may still do it, but I wanted to get this up before it got buried behind other projects.

Also decided to go with 2000-09, an actual 10-year period and a very interesting period in my life. In that time I started dating my (eventual) wife, graduated from high school, moved 500 miles from my childhood home, graduated from college, got my first real job, got married and bought a house. I grew the fuck up (kind of).

So this really became a spreadsheet that tells part of the story of my life. From righteous high school anger (AFI), to righteous college anger (Against Me!), to subdued adult contemplation (Avett Brothers).

If you’re so inclined, here’s a spotify playlist with most of the albums represented.

An EZ Orchards Saturday

EZ Orchards has always been one of my favorite Salem places.

The farm grows apples, pears and hazelnuts among other things. It operates one of the most popular stands in the area, selling seasonal shortcakes and donuts. Of course there’s the ever-present apple cider.

As an intern at the paper I filled in for the departing entertainment reporter near the end, meaning it was my job to put together Halloween events. That year it meant a tour through the EZ Orchards pumpkin patch and corn maze.

Since then we’ve been back every year, but today we got a closer look as part of a Friends of Salem Saturday Market tour.

Mark Zielinski, grandson of orchard founder Ed Zielinski* and head of farming operations now, gave us a detailed tour of the orchards.

*”That’s the EZ,” Mark said. “Not very creative, but you get a name into the marketplace, and well, we’re probably not going to be changing it now.”

While Nicole was fascinated by the farming practices and differences concerning varieties, Mark’s difficulties with the weather this year struck me, as it’s something I’ve heard from everyone in agriculture in Oregon.

The biggest concern for Mark right now is the pumpkins. While people will put up with cherries not being ready for July Fourth or something like that, a pumpkin is pretty worthless on Nov. 1.

“Mother Nature doesn’t keep a calendar,” he said later.

Right now most of the pumpkins are pretty solid green, he said, making the next four weeks a little nerve-racking. It’ll be interesting to see how EZ and other farms in the area deal with it, especially if some of these patches have far fewer than expected, especially when Safeway and places such as that will bus in bright orange pumpkins from all over the country every day.

Mark also spoke about the new hard cider operations, something they started in 2009. While something they expect to make money for the farm, he also said that after 32 years in the business it’s nice to have something new to play with.

We finished off the trip with a peach shortcake and strawberry lemonade smoothie on a bench in the shade, capping off the day with how we normally start an EZ visit. Not a bad way to start a weekend.

On failure and why I love my wife

SESNA Garden Party

It’s hard to call any moment sipping lavender lemonade and eating cherries and blueberries in a garden a failure, but there we were, the three of us.

Therein was the failure. The afternoon was supposed to be a garden party potluck at the SESNA Community Garden. My wife Nicole is on the board there and helped organize the event.

The idea was to throw a social event to get people into the garden. Normally the only events were work parties or plant swaps, utilitarian gatherings meant for a purpose.

The garden, while a great spot to for people in the community to actually garden, is turning into a sort of park as well. This year a picnic table was made and donated and constant work by the board and other volunteers has made it a real pocket park.

Still, the space is used mostly just as a place to grow plants, not sit and sip a glass of lemonade with friends.

Nicole was trying to change that.

We waited, speaking with fellow board member Jan, and Nicole poured glasses for the three of us while they discussed roses and fox glove.

More than just wanting the event to be a success and get the garden more use, a columnist for the Statesman Journal’s South Salem Today section was stopping by, making a crowd more important.

When she showed up she was visibly disappointed, though politely so. Nicole explained that this was the first attempt and hopefully next time will go better.

So the party wasn’t newsworthy in that sense. I’m still proud of my wife.

She took a chance and failed, but there are so many people who never get to that point. I saw her try something courageous to promote something she cared about. While I was sad this one didn’t turnout the way she wanted to, mostly I was proud to watch her try.

There will be other chances. And I know she’ll take them.