Friday, January 13, 2012

Here's a Blog That Doesn't Suck

My friend and erstwhile colleague at the Source Weekly, Aaron Switzer, told me about a new (well, fairly new) and very entertaining blog called "Bound for Bend," described as "the true story of one east coast couple who rode off into the sunset, hoping for a better life in Central Oregon."

Shelby Little, the young woman who writes the blog, apparently comes from the South and is finding some aspects of life here a little hard to adapt to. In her most recent post, she writes about arriving in Redmond and discovering that the place smells like a giant litter box:

"We couldn’t figure out if the neighborhood had a stray cat problem or if they were breeding cougars in the open field behind our house. It was a thick, glandular smell, and I struggled to identify where it was coming from. Could I hose down the front yard and get rid of it? Did we run over something between here and Boise? Oh my god, my life can’t smell like this."

The locals eventually inform Shelby that what she's smelling is the scent of juniper, a hideous, scraggly tree that blankets the Central Oregon landscape: "Those incursive evergreens are everywhere; centuries old with their twisted trucks and scabby branches. They look as awful as they smell, and according to the Oregon Department of Forestry, they are reproducing like rabbits."

Even more fun, I think, is her take on how Central Oregonians dress -- or, more accurately, don't dress:

"Forget the advice my southern college education gave me on dressing up for job interviews, 'Always wear a suit. Always dress better than you have to.' When I plan an outfit for an interview in Central Oregon, I start with my most professional look, tone it down three notches, add something that clashes and remove all accessories except my wedding ring."

The dress code for Central Oregon males is even simpler: Wear jeans and a T-shirt. In winter, throw a hoodie on over the T-shirt.

The typical Central Oregon male only wears a coat and tie on two occasions in his life. One is his funeral, and I forget what the other one is.

20 comments:

Marshall_Will said...

5) We called the cops after our house was robbed and the responding police officer described Redmond as an impoverished meth den, where people are getting desperate and heroin was moving in.

6) The look of bewilderment when we tell people we chose to move to Central Oregon “because we like it here.”

7) Realizing that Bend is not nearly as hip as Portland nor does it want to be.

8) Hearing that foul winter weather often makes the commute between Bend and Redmond treacherous and turns a 30-minute drive into a 2-hour crawl.

Well, I'm sorry to hear all of that. Save for The Weather ( 'our' primary complaint? ) the balance of her's. are man made. Doubting Bend terra firma implored for meth addicts?

In terms of dress, and I've had my share of observations, watching "Selling L.A" last night on HGTV and the realtor gal not only dressed like a hooker, she specifically WALKED like a stripper! Complete w/ 'playful' patented Pamela Anderson Bounce (TM)

So if that's 'sophisticated', I'll pass. When we lived out in Molalla ( another Redneck Riveria I'm told ) parents from Portland that couldn't control their children in the Rose City moved their lil' JD's to Molalla. I Suppose hoping all that fresh country air would make a difference. Then they only wind up being a bad influence on the native kids.

Great arrangement! Then wind up badmouthing us for being 'hicks' and having a lack of acculturation... What part of 'Logging Town' were they missing?

Jack Elliott said...

I, for one, think the juniper is a fine-looking tree. And since juniper's resin and berries are one of the oldest sources for incense, I'm kind of surprised that the writer finds the smell "awful."

Moving to a less-urban area and making fun of the rusticity of the locals' attire is a common cheap shot.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"I'm kind of surprised that the writer finds the smell "awful."

The smell of juniper when burned is different from the smell that the juniper foliage emits. (Cut down a juniper and put it in your living room and you'll see.) I, too, think it smells like cat piss, and so do many other people. But I've grown accustomed to it and barely notice it now.

"Moving to a less-urban area and making fun of the rusticity of the locals' attire is a common cheap shot."

I'm not sure "rusticity" is the right word. "Slovenliness" is closer to the mark.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"I Suppose hoping all that fresh country air would make a difference."

Fresh air and a rural environment are no substitute for good parenting. Good parents can raise good kids in a big city, and bad parents will raise bad kids no matter how far out in the boonies they are.

Jack Elliott said...

"The smell of juniper when burned is different from the smell that the juniper foliage emits. (Cut down a juniper and put it in your living room and you'll see.)"

1. Casa Elliott is surrounded by junipers, and when I get off the plane at RDM the smell of the junipers is the first thing I smell. I love it.
2. I've checked. I'm gonna need a lot bigger living room to put a cut-down juniper into.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Re juniper smelling like cat piss, here's a true story: A number of years ago a group of famous French climbers came to Central Oregon to climb Smith Rocks. A local reporter interviewed them and asked what they thought of Central Oregon. One of them replied, “Eet ees very beautiful, but when we get off ze plane eet smell like cat pees. ‘Qu’est que c’est?’ I ask. And zey tell me eet ees ze zhun-i-pair.”

So, no, thinking that ze zhun-i-pair smells like cat piss is not some weird quirk or figment of Ms. Little's (and my) imagination.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Casa Elliott is surrounded by junipers, and when I get off the plane at RDM the smell of the junipers is the first thing I smell. I love it."

To each his own.

"I'm gonna need a lot bigger living room to put a cut-down juniper into."

A couple of branches will do it.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Hey Marshall, what happened to the first four items of your list?

Marshall_Will said...

Bruce,

Just enough a snippet to entice those that may be of interest. Not that they were any more or less valid.

Jack is spot on w/ the good parent/bad parent observation. I've witnessed it firsthand many times. And how ridiculous when parents themselves are using? In many cases I know it's the kids that 'score' for the parents.

Talk about selfish, this way I suppose if the kid gets busted they're just juveniles and won't be a permanent 'blemish'? I suppose being a "person of standing in the community"?

But this fresh blogger seems to have all the earmarks of a naive person when it's just not necessary? Could've just checked THIS blog! Slam sites for individuals have fallen under scrutiny, so now they're moving on to places. And I doubt Redmond is the only place in those throes?

How Did I Get Here? said...

2 years tops and they'll be gone. I don't understand why people like that pick up and move here. Why would you lease in Redmond if you wanted to live in Bend. These are the folks that think moving here will be a new beginning, a new them. Nope, they'll find that they're the same people they were but now they're in a place they have nothing in common with...looking for work none the less!

Jack Elliott said...

Okay, interesting. Googling "cat pee juniper" brings up a lot of hits, mainly about juniper shrubs. I don't know how closely related our juniper trees are to the shrub, but apparently it's urea, a compound found in cat pee and juniper shrubs, that triggers the association. I've had cats pee in the house and it's an odor one never forgets; but I don't pick up the urea smell in our lovely Juniperus occidentalis.

I'm Bend material, obviously. I can dress in a rustic, er, slovenly fashion, and am not very bothered by days o' gray or the smell o' juniper.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"These are the folks that think moving here will be a new beginning, a new them."

A delusion that the Bend-is-paradise propaganda actively encourages.

"I don't know how closely related our juniper trees are to the shrub"

The shrub is a cultivar of the tree.

"I'm Bend material, obviously."

I'm resisting the opportunity to comment on that.

How Did I Get Here? said...

"A delusion that the Bend-is-paradise propaganda actively encourages."

I'm going to have to agree with that. Why else would you move 3K miles away without ever visiting the place you're going to strike up this new life. No way they visited if they didn't know about the cat pee. Even more, they have this really cool thing called the internet. There are these crazy "websites" that you can type in a street address to and it will show you not only a map but a satellite image of the house your leasing. You would know that you're spitting distance from a super wallmart and that your house backed to 97 if you took 90 seconds to do some homework.

Didn't know about our employment issues or the RE disaster? These people are morons.

Did they get wasted one night and throw a dart at a map of the west coast?

You and I don't see eye to eye on many things but you have to admit this is clearly and act of stupidity.

Bend has a lot of great qualities for certain types of people but those people tend to bring it with them rather than expect it to be laid out for them.

There's a tea shop in Bend?

2 years tops...

H. Bruce Miller said...

"These people are morons."

I think we should be careful not to be unfairly harsh toward these young people. There are many things we don't know. It could be that the male member of this partnership already has a job here. It could be that they're temporarily leasing in Redmond because they had to find a place quickly so he could start in the job and they couldn't find a suitable and/or affordable place in Bend. And her writing doesn't sound like something produced by a moron.

How Did I Get Here? said...

"And her writing doesn't sound like something produced by a moron."

No, she's educated. It shows in her writing and I'll admit I got more than a few chuckles out of it. According to her, they left perfectly happy lives and careers to start a new life in a place they knew very little about. Maybe the spouse did have a phone interview and they packed their bags without googling "Bend Economy".

So ok, I will retract the moron statement and go with "lack of street smarts" for not doing their homework. No shortage of rentals or RE for sale in Bend. I can't imagine why they rented in Redmond if they planned on living in Bend. There are a lot of places worse than Redmond but it is Redmond. They could have googled your blog or Dunc's blog and found out how rough it really is here. 2011 was the toughest year for business yet and I know 2012 will leave me wishing I could repeat 2011. Our numbers for 2011 were up slightly but something has changed. 2010 and 2011 were the years of "me too" jobs.

- I lost my job so I took the last of my savings and started my own business.

- Oh really, me too!

Brewtopia? I hope so but more than likely, brew bubble.

2012 will be the year that we see a lot of those start-ups go the way of the dodo. I don't wish any hateful shit on anyone but I'm a realist. I'm fully aware of how bad things are and how it's about to get worse.

I love it here but I would never in a million years consider picking up and moving here to seek employment at this point in time. I visited 2-3 times back in the 80's & 90's before I decided to move here. I knew at age 19 that this place smelled like cat pee. Now in my 40's, it still smells like cat pee and I'm OK with it. I'm your typical Bend local. I don't care what you do for a living, how you dress, or what you drive. We are not "hip" like PDX and ya, nobody gives a crap.

This place will not make you something you're not. You have to bring it with you and really want it.

2 years tops

Jack Elliott said...

" 'I'm Bend material, obviously.'

"I'm resisting the opportunity to comment on that."

Hey. I resemble that remark!

Yeah, there's a tea shop in Bend: Townshend's on Bond St.

Jack Elliott said...

I decided to pop over and read the blog post about the cat pee thing. She closes with,

"As I walked out of Trader Joe’s today I found myself inhaling deeply, and saying, 'that pine scent smells great.'

"Eddie laughed and gently reminded me, that was the fragrance of the Juniper tree. I must be on my way to becoming a true local."

I was fortunate to have entirely skipped over the cat pee thing directly to the pine scent thing.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"I love it here but I would never in a million years consider picking up and moving here to seek employment at this point in time."

Neither would I. In fact, I've never moved anywhere without having landed a job there first. I can't understand people who just pick up and move someplace without any job or prospect of a job, trusting like Wilkins Micawber that "something will turn up." Although I guess it could be okay if you're in your 20s and have no family responsibilities -- and especially if you have a nice little trust fund.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"We are not "hip" like PDX and ya, nobody gives a crap."

News Flash: PDX is not hip either. (It has a lot of hipsters, but that's not the same thing.) People in NYC or LA would laugh at the claim that PDX is hip.

Marshall_Will said...

"News Flash: PDX is not hip either."

And no, hipsters are not the same thing as 'hip'. Being a musician I've known my share of hepcats over the years. Great guys, endlessly informed, never make a move without checking the board.

Which makes them about polar opposites to the PDX version. Besides, it's a free country and if people want to pack up and make a new start, more power! In this economy there's very little to lose?

Further, unlike Portland where home prices have remained stubbornly HIGH, you can get a real nice place in Bend fairly cheap. If I was younger I'd at least mull it over.

My guess is they were FULLY aware of what they were getting into but writing from an astute perspective doesn't get the laughs. Everyone's got a 'blog' these days?