Life was cool

Portland was a big change from Roseburg. It was a welcomed change too. It was the early 1970s and the war in Vietnam was over and people were generally happy. The music was great too. I was listening to the Blues Image doing Ride Captain Ride as I headed down to the music store with my friend Gary. Gary had been the program director at the radio station I worked at in Roseburg. He hired me in fact. We met in a coffee shop. Don’t think Starbucks, back then a coffee shop was where the hispters hung out, drank coffee or tea and solved the world’s problems with our intellectual largess. After chatting for an hour or so Gary offered me an on-air job as a disk jockey and news director saying I was the first person he’d met in town that spoke actual English. When we left Roseburg we did it together, pooling our meager resources.

We found an apartment just outside of the city in Beaverton. We had enough money to swing getting in with enough left over to pay for gas and a few weeks of food if we were careful. We both immediately set out in my trusty Corvair convertible to see about work. We applied at the radio and television stations in town, receiving polite rejections for having no medium market experience. While I had a First Class FCC license and could work as an engineer legally, I had no experience at all in those realms so I didn’t even ask. Over the next few days we visited a lot of places looking for jobs, and we weren’t all that fussy, but weren’t having any luck. We did, however, meet a few guys as we sat in a bar one evening having a beer to celebrate another day of employment failure. What we had in common was that we were all musicians. So to speak anyway. All of us had worked bands and played live and so we decided to try to get work as a house band for one of the many bars in town. Sebastian was a bassist. Marcus played a mean lead guitar and Sammy was happy playing rhythm. Gary was a keyboardist and I played drums. Tranquility Base Five was born. Now all we needed was for Gary and I to get instruments and for the band to get a job.

It was all meant to be. We went into a little music store where Sebastian had a friend in the owner. He sold Gary a Fender piano and concert amp and sold me a six piece set of Pearl drums for no money down and at least fifty bucks a month. Like I said, it was a great time. We started practicing covers in Marcus’ house until the neighbors called the cops. We hadn’t given much thought to how loud we were and we didn’t give anyone a hard time over it. In fact, the whole band took a case of beer over to the complainer’s house and apologized. It was the right thing to do, turned out he was a part owner in a downtown dive called the Shalimar. He gave us the name of the owner/manager/bartender who was his partner and we went down to see him. Ta da! We had ourselves a gig. The money wasn’t great and so Gary and I still struggled with bills and stuff, and now, of course, a bar bill that managed to suck up a chunk of what we were making.  So we both were still on the hunt for a day job, preferably one that would be part time in the afternoon . We played from 9pm to 1am with Sunday and Monday off, so an afternoon job would be just the ticket. We weren’t exactly beating the bushes to find the second job, but our hearts were in the right place.

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon and Gary and I were sitting in our living room and listening to this excellent AM radio station Gary found. KVAN played great tune after great tune and rarely paused for advertisements.  Nor did it often pause for any kind of station break. We looked the station up in the phone book and discovered it was located out on the marshlands up where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers met. This was a station we’d overlooked in our search for radio work, but then again, like our previous radio employer in Roseburg, they were a tiny kilowatt daytime AM station. But they played excellent music, we had to admit. As we listened and watched the drizzle outside our front window, the station was playing a whole side of the Beatles’ White album. Cry Baby Cry played out its 3 minutes and thirteen seconds and then we heard  …nothing. No, wait, there was a tssht, tssht, tssht, tssht –the sound of a 33 1/3 album that had played its all and now the needle ran in an endless circle waiting for someone to lift the stylus. We listened to this for maybe five solid minutes when Gary looked over at me and said, “You know, I think there’s a rule in FCC law that says if someone leaves a license transmitter unattended, someone discovering it can lawfully take it over. Wouldn’t it be cool if we had our own radio station?” We looked at each other for a long second and then we jumped up, went out into the rain and hopped into my Corvair.

We listened to the radio station continue its metronome-like end of record noise as we drove from Beaverton through the tunnel and into the city, then up I-5 to Delta Park by the Columbia River and hooked over to North Portland Road. We drove along looking for the radio station. We found it as a small clapboard house. There was no antenna, the station’s aerial was a long stretch of wire strung between two trees. Called a longwire, it was a center tapped full wave antenna, and as we could attest, worked just fine. We pulled into the dirt driveway and made our way to the door. It was unlocked and so we let ourselves in. To the left of the door was a large glass partition and behind it was the control board with it’s dual turntables, stacks of cartridge players and a young woman face down on the board with a large puddle of drool next to her mouth. Gary and I let ourselves into the studio and saw immediately that she wasn’t sick. The empty wine bottles and the loud snore now erupting from her showed she was passed out. Hardly a fatal condition. We rolled her, chair and all, into the corner of the studio and I found a chair to use at the board. It took a couple of paper towels from next to the coffee urn to clear up the puddle of saliva. Once this was done, I sat down and performed a station break and cranked up Janis Joplin. Gary pulled up a chair and lit a joint, his head bobbing to the music.

At around 6:30 the girl gave a loud snort, opened her eyes and saw us. She gave a large Cheshire Cat grin and asked if we’d like to make a request. Gary and I giggled over this and explained that we’d been running the station through the afternoon. She looked at her watch and said “Wow. I’m here totally alone, seven days a week. I guess I got tired and fell asleep. So, either of you two want a job? We can only afford one of you. t’s $1.60 and hour.”

Gary said that I’d be happy to take the job and smiled beatifically. The girl, who we found was named Adah, told me I was hired and to be back at sunrise. I explained that I had to work the afternoons. She said okay, but I had to shut the station down and lock it up at sunset. I agreed. It was six days before she thought to ask me my name.

Gary later got a job at a booking agency, placing bands with gigs. The both of us played in our band at night. Life was pretty cool in the 1970s.


An Angel gets his wings….

My honey was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in October, 2010.  Seven months prior to that, in March, Mike Murray from our neighboring state of Alabama was diagnosed. Mike’s wife, Angie, and I became friends through a mutual friend, Dina, who knew that we had something in common…..husbands with the same type of incurable cancer.

When I first became friends with Angie, her honey had already had two Stem Cell Transplants, but was taking Chemo. I couldn’t understand, if he’d had transplants, why he was still having to take Chemo? Angie explained that Mike’s MM was very aggressive, and he would probably always be on treatment.

For much of the time I have known Angie, they have been at MIRT (Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy) at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. They lived in a furnished apartment in Little Rock; supplied by a church for patients who have to be there long-term.

Angie has been Mike’s full-time caregiver as he has traveled this journey. She has been his source of support and comfort, and has truly exhibited the Bible’s phrase, “the strength of Job.”  Her faith and love has never faltered as she has walked this often stressful, and tiring pathway with the love of her life.

On Thursday night, just before Easter, Mike was moved into a hospice facility. Those of us in the MM community knew that Mike’s journey would soon end. Angie’s postings on his Carepages website had become infrequent, and we knew that all her waking moments were being spent by his side.

The day before Easter, Angie’s “Magic Mike” finished his battle and ended his journey. May the rest of us caregivers, in the MM community, learn from Angie Murray.  She faced the unthinkable with grace, dignity, strength, and faith …….

and her Angel got his wings, on the perfect weekend.

The Family That Kicks Together-Sticks Together!

The Kellys  Oct. 2008
Front row: Mallory, Trent, Spencer
Back Row: Joe, Kris, Jace, Dani, Tyler

I went back to work this month.  
Is it a job or an adventure hmmmmm?
I’m working at our family owned and operated martial arts studio.  
The front desk
My family has been kicking in the martial arts for about twenty years.
It all started when my husband and my oldest son at 7 yrs. old began training.  
Well to make a long story as short as possible……
Tyler competing in forms

In 1997, we opened our own martial arts studio in a building behind our home.  My husband taught classes in his “spare time” in the evenings.  Eventually our own children and several students also became instructors. 

             Spencer practicing self-defense 

I used to run a preschool in the building during the day then move all my equipment out of the way and help run the studio in the evening.  I look back now and think, “Wow! how did I ever do it.”  I definitely don’t have enough immunities or energy now for four year olds.

In October of 2008, we moved to a building on Main Street and then to our current location a year ago.  My son took over the management of the studio. (We opened a couple weeks before I was diagnosed with mm.  I remember painting the walls and complaining how tired I was. :) Fortunately at that time, Joe was able to step back and spend more time caring for our family and me.  What a blessing!
Tournament sparring

Well that’s the history in a nutshell.  Maple Mountain Martial Arts continues to do well and as it grows a decision was made that the business needed a “studio mom.” Someone to run the front desk, tie Little Ninja’s belts, answer the phones, answer the questions, and just be there to meet and greet students and parents among other things.   So I’m now working at Maple Mountain Martial Arts for 2-3 hours, three to four afternoons a week.  It has been great for me to get out among people again and have somewhere to go everyday.    

 Jace after testing for his black belt and 
Mallory earning her 2nd degree black belt.  
Joe also tested for his 3rd degree that day.
(you don’t see brother/sister hugs like that everyday….very rare!)

This isn’t exactly what I earned a college degree for, however I am very blessed to have such great working conditions and there are plenty of “perks”. My son is  now my “boss”  I work with my daughter; she is one of the instructors, and I take my youngest son with me.  He does his homework there and attends class. 

Myeloma medication-dexamethasone is still wrecking havoc with my energy levels.  I battle fatigue daily and bone pain whenever it decides to appear.  Having a job helps to put cancer on the back burner.  Just what I need. 

Another view of the studio.  We are in the process of remodeling the basement to add additional space for classes.

Who would have thought any of this would be possible when my husband and son put on  crisp new uniforms and clean white belts twenty years ago.  

We have definitely had ups and downs, but over the past few years our back-yard business, our family, and I have grown in many ways.  Our lives have exceeded those white belt expectations and our family continues to kick together and stick together.