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My affinity for the tire store just keeps rolling on

When I was a kid there was little I enjoyed more than going to the tire store with my dad.

(Riding my BMX bike and pretending I was getting major air off every curb comes to mind as a competitor, but that’s about it.)

I could have — and quite possibly did — spend an hour or more wandering the dark aisles while dad was off discussing ply ratings and steel belts and whatever else had to do with the transaction.

I didn’t care about the mechanical aspects of the tire business, largely because I didn’t understand the mechanical aspects.

A century in Pine Valley: Marcella Taylor’s great life

What a life Marcella Taylor lived.

It’s not merely the longevity that stands out to me, although Marcella, who was 101 when she died Oct. 22, belonged to an extremely exclusive club.

The number of Americans who survive for a century is considerably less than 1 percent of the population.

Considerably less than one-tenth of 1 percent, come to that.

Wi-fi robot that vacuums? Sounds painful to me

I have trouble getting around my house in the dark without barking a shin or stubbing a toe, even though I’ve lived there for 20 years and none of the objects that bruise me is capable of moving on its own.

Yet some entrepreneurs want me to buy a device that, so far as I can tell, would have the run of my place and could at any time ambush me.

Harry Galloway: He was a hard man to follow

The first time I saw Harry Galloway he was wearing a wool hunting coat in the classic pattern of red and black.

Then he walked into the woods, and I saw little of him for the next few hours.

I suspect that’s how I’ll always remember Harry.

Indeed I don’t know that I would have recognized him were he in more formal attire, and sitting still besides.

‘Roads’ will keep Owyhee country quiet, lonely

My 4-year-old son Max has added the phrase “holding on for dear life” to his modest repertoire, and of course he waited until I was driving to debut the dramatic announcement.

The setting, I’ll concede, was appropriate.

We were bouncing along in our FJ Cruiser, low range engaged, on a road the approximate width of a grocery store aisle, albeit without the extensive selection of sugar-coated breakfast cereals.

Also grocery store aisles, at least in my experience, rarely are as steep as ski runs, littered with volcanic rocks the size of bowling balls, or bordered by a sheer drop of some hundreds of feet with nothing in the place of guardrails except an occasional scraggly sagebrush that wouldn’t stop a tricycle from going over the edge.

The Sumpter dredge: A place where eras collide

Baker County’s embrace of its history is one of the county’s defining traits, but in a few places the boundary between its past and its present is a membrane so thin that it hardly seems to be there at all.

Here the decades share close quarters and I fancy I can hear voices long since silenced, can see faces compress into that crystalline focus peculiar to photographs made from glass plate negatives.

The Sumpter dredge is one of those places.

From shivering to sweltering: We call it October

The season of the sleeve length conundrum has lasted longer than usual in Baker County.

We deal with this dilemma every autumn — and occasionally during spring — but this year’s version seems to me especially fraught with difficulty.

The trouble, as anyone knows who has passed more than a few falls around here, is the temperature.

Specifically the daily temperature fluctuations — what meteorologists, who like all specialists cultivate a jargon that’s as useful as hieroglyphics to people outside the field, refer to as the “diurnal range."

Walking pace reveals the heart of any community

The best way to see a town — any town, whether it’s the one you’ve lived in for decades or one you’ve never before visited — is by walking its neighborhoods.

You won’t cover a great deal of ground, of course, at the placid pace of a mile or two per hour.

But this strikes me as a clear case in which quality, in terms of what you’ll see, hear and smell, trumps quantity as expressed in miles traveled.

Because from a car, or even from a bicycle, you’ll inevitably miss some of the details that reveal themselves to a pedestrian. 

Climber’s fatal fall, and memories of a mountain

The headline grabbed my attention with considerable force.

“Climber dies on Three Fingered Jack.”

Any reference to that colorfully named volcano, which juts from the crest of the Cascades a few miles north of Santiam Pass, piques my curiosity.

But my interest is especially keen when the story involves people who try to ascend the pinnacle of crumbly lava that crowns this peak that Ice Age glaciers gnawed down substantially from its original bulk.

The Donner Party: Famous for the wrong thing

What would it feel like to know that the only way to avoid death by starvation is to eat the flesh from a corpse who was recently your friend, or even your relative?

This morbid question remains, beyond any doubt, the most persistent legacy of the Donner Party.

This seems to me a pity.

What distinguishes the tragedy that befell these 87 emigrants in the Sierra Nevada during the winter of 1846-47 is not the societal taboos they were forced to ignore in order that 48 of their number would survive. 

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