Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Last Big Walkabout. For Now.

When a grill was a grill. Hang on, there's more.

Sarah works at her food creation dream job in a four days on, three days off cycle (in case, like me, you have shockingly serious math deficiencies, that would constitute the traditional 7 day week). That has nothing to do with the truck photo next to these words.

Yesterday was the last day off she'll have until I return, so when the 'what shall we do?' question came along, one of my favorite Portland pastimes was again the answer. Because it really doesn't matter where you go around here, the architecture, shops, restaurants and bar/cafe/street places are unendingly interesting to me. Even the bad stuff is good, if you get that.

Did I have this in last year's Portland bits? Does it matter?
 I could see this place a lot more before tiring of it.

Like Benjamin's wall at home, this one is also a changing art scene. 
'da Vern' to locals, (aka Hanigan's) to probably nobody , with some of the best comments on funky barness ever written, is an old Portland standard for Sarah. I think I'm almost ready for it. 
I love this mural!

No wait, I love this truck! I love that mural and this truck. It is shiny, but not too shiny.
It looks truly like it is used on a regular basis and just kept up well .Obviously,
 it is the rest of the truck of the grill photo up top there. I really love this truck.
I think it would be fun to know how to weld, just because there are so many awesome
old rusty metal things that beg to be put together to make...oh say, a sign holder. 
One of the motivations for going this direction on this particular walk was to go to the Urban Farm Store. I've walked by when it was closed, forgotten to go there, or just went the other way for the last two visits. Determined to break the cycle and see what was in there, it was now the Designated Goal. While things that seem yuppified in many places are considered very way normal in Portland (are people still called yuppies? If not, you know, gentle reader, what I mean, even if you are one), most of it is for real. I was afraid this place might be a little over sincerely live in the country but in the city yuppified. It isn't. Go to the Hawthorne Powell's store for that (I passionately enjoy that store, by the way).

What if you just want the three  chickens you are allowed to have without a permit and don't have a clue what you are doing (you want more? the permit is cheap - yes, Culebra is different but this is a city and it's pretty damn cool!) There are Chicken Keeping classes, along with gardening and preserving classes as well. I really like this business.

Out back is a big run outside the coop and some very funky chickens. 
I had to cluck a few times to get FeatherHead's attention, but it worked. These chickens, ready to go home and lay eggs for you, are 25.00. Which is probably less than you'll spend feeding them for six months while waiting for the egg laying parts. 

Inside are all kinds of chick babies, as well as 5 week old chicks, 5 and 10 dollars respectively. There are shelves of feed for chickens, cats and dogs along with all sorts of natural stuff to keep pets healthy and happy. There are even chicken coop plans they will build for you out of recycled material. And if you get a rooster by mistake and don't want to keep it? On Sundays, just bring in old cockle-doodle-do and they will relocate him for you. For free. I would love to have a store like this (and it's family owned, just in case you don't read about it) on Culebra. 

Another cool old truck. Nothing fancy here, just a good ol' truck.
I saw two VW 4 wheel drive transporters since I've been here
 - which may be on top of the list -
along with some fabulous old Land Rovers.
Vehicle lust is not usually what drives me, but  can.

A quiet, well built resting spot. It even has a chimney.
Which is weird, but nice for long visits in winter. I guess.
Across from the cemetery, in a neighborhood with very classic homes, is this place. If you look closely through the fence, you might see the fire hydrant decor. For those blessed with vivid imaginations, have a good time! For the rest, or if you head starts exploding with visions of doggy dinner parties, you can sate your curiosity here.

If I lived here, I would do this. But not in winter. Obviously why I don't live here.
Cedars, oh my!
Another white bike memorial. I'm not sure if the tires are like the Jewish traditions of placing stones on graves or not, but that's all I could think about without getting too sad.

An intriguing sign I couldn't figure out. Until I looked here, where you will find the
 weirdest advert for a vacation place ever written
. I mean it.

Yes, I'd love to have taken a photo of this beer and movie theatre all lit up at night.
Yes, I'm sure there are just such photos online.
But you'll have to go find them yourselves. I'm waiting for the real thing.

This was going to be a great shot of this van. But my particular phone camera is not exactly swift on the click. So while I should have tossed this, use your imagination anyway and enjoy.

This store looked...sort of like someone was moving in or out of it, but it was full of masks and lured me inside. The woman was very nice; it wasn't closed or closing, they were just moving things around. She kindly let me take photos of her and her partner's wonderful work. I took other photos but they were so confusing, I'm sticking with this one. You can find out more and see a lot more masks if you go to their Belfry site here.

I do not know what these are. They have an orange inside, like a genipe.
Sarah licked the inside and said it was sweetish. If you know, please tell me! Thank you. 
We carried one of these along with us just in case I needed to give it to the
EMT while they tried to save her life. Licking an unknown fruit? Sheesh!
Happily, that was no necessito.
The piano is immortal? It's a place for funeral home pianos? What?

Suddenly, about three blocks from home, we were both tired. Luckily, we were only three blocks from home. It was time to make some popcorn and watch a movie. Well, we munched popcorn and watched Stephen Fry check out America, as good as a movie and better than a lot of them. Until I fell asleep.

Have a theatrically talismanic Thursday. Do something transitional.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Maniacal Laughter Report

The other afternoon, I wanted to grill some beautiful sausages I'd found at one of the markets here. Sarah had the day off from work, the weather had ripened into Indian Summer status and the grill awaited. But first, we'd take a walk.

So we did.

But before we left...I love the window in the living room here.
In fact, this whole nook just says, stay,read a book, where's the fireplace?
Bring me some mulled cider, please.

I saw this bike and thought it was just great street art. But apparently, these white, decorated bikes represent a memorial to someone who has died in that area from a bike accident; a pretty lovely way to make a tribute. The boxes next to it are full of free giveaway items. If someone wants to give things away here, they just set a box or the item on the curb.
I really like the practice, both of them.

How could I not let you see this home? I couldn't pass it by. Someone was incredibly patient. 

There was no way to do justice to these trees. They fit into redwood status as far as size goes and tall tall tall. I had to put them in because they are so honorable.
The house behind them is just completely drawled and the one
in the photo, next door, almost obscured. Oh wonder!

Truthfully, I don't really have roses high on my list of favorite flowers. They are beautiful, they are fragrant. For me, the beauty is too perfect and the fragrance often overwhelming. But this was such an example of both of those factors, it deserved a shot.
This is the city of roses after all. 

I saw this yola looking boat and realized I'd be home in less than a week!

But I won't be seeing pears in trees.

This is NOT a curb side giveaway. Sarah sees the father and son out here playing chess often.

This is one of my favorite yards in the neighborhood. Messy and filled with the most gorgeous chickens. Every year they seem to add a new variety of chick and all of them are fat and content.  I've never seen a person in the yard.

We got home and I got the coals started while Sarah did something. Baby potatoes were tossed with olive oil, rosemary and garlic and sealed in foil while the coals started to go ashy.
The sausages, jalepeno and mango and spinach and feta, were of chicken,
and wouldn't take long. The wine flowed, the food cooked.

Sarah made a wilted leaf lettuce salad dressing with egg and bacon fat, salt and vinegar.
It was her first time making it and she did a fine job.
I think it's been 15 years since I got to teach Sarah something new in cooking.

The sun set. As it always does. This setting was on a very, very good day.

No, you're not getting off that easily, some perfectly pleasant day, yet another one, on one who claims (loudly and often) to be the Luckiest Woman in the World. Carry on. Or carry off, it's just reading from here. 

We sat laughing and talking in the yard until about 2 in the morning. Sarah brought out this video that had us laughing even more. Two caveats here. Wine absolutely makes this funnier. And it has a naughty word in it, which is also pretty funny in an understandable way. Just so you know.

Eventually we came inside, talking some more, doing some odds and ends, consuming yet more wine that a housemate brought us. Because at 3 or 4 in the morning, it's always time for wine, though three not petite bottles over 12 hours? Not so much. At last,  passing out sleep called and we answered, I to my couch, she to her bed, zzzzzzz. 

Until I hear Rob's voice (house mate) saying, 'MJ. MJ? MJ, get up, the neighbor is here and he is NOT happy.' 

There are ways to start a hangover day. Ideally, in my world, that would include about 4 more hours of sleep giving way to the happy chirping of birds and someone with a Bloody Mary in one hand and a plate of eggs, toast and bacon in the other, smiling over me, waiting for my eyelids to flutter open. In a blessedly silent way.

This was, pretty much, the opposite of that. An angry neighbor with a baby strapped to his chest. going on about our screaming all night and keeping his family awake. I duly apologized even while wondering about the screaming, hoping he'd go away. But he didn't. He started making threats about evicting my daughter. Then he went on about how Johnny Cash (Rob is in a band called Counterfeit Cash, so he called him Johnny Cash) was a fine neighbor, JOHNNY never makes inappropriate noise, JOHNNY is a fine guy. What would it take to make him go away? 

By now, my head was spinning and so I did what any good mother would do. I went up and got Sarah's ass out of bed so she could share the fun, because this man was not going away until he lashed out at her too. Except, Sarah lashed back. About bon fires and parties in their own yard. About naked men wandering the house in front of open windows  And about the fact that we weren't screaming. 

'Ok,' he snarlingly amended, 'not screaming, but maniacally laughing! And someone futzing around with the trash at two in the morning!' 

Since Rob/Johnny is the only one who futzes with the trash, it was a gleeful moment. Rob was in trouble too! At that, the guy left. Rob said, yeah, you both were really laughing about something and I wondered what was so funny. We showed him the video. He didn't laugh that much, but some so that's a lot. 

The rest of yesterday we devoted to laughing. Imaginary conversations with the neighbor took up a lot of the time. At one point, we were laughing about something and we hear a voice on the sidewalk saying 'You two are loud!'. Really??? What was going on, twice in one day? Turned out to be a friend of Sarah's passing by and enjoying us laughing (sure). But that was it. The future, in that crystal clear moment, was decided.

We are going to rent ourselves out to parties, bris's, weddings and perhaps, if needed, a funeral or two. Maybe we can be hired just to annoy a neighbor. We will, not discreetly, laugh maniacally. That's it. No cooking, jumping from a cake, babysitting your children. Just maniacal laughter. It's got a ring to it. Especially with enough of a hangover. And our now favorite word of the day is futzing. We can string together every Yiddish slang bit into one very long sentence and futz works its way in there more than once. Then we laugh. Maniacally.

Today, the birds are chirping. No drinks or breakfast but no hangover. Plenty of sleep. The knowledge that my time in America is shrinking like the long wool skirt of my daughter's I inadvertently put in the dryer and made into a mini. Up and away!

Have a wish your neighbors well Wednesday. Do something well-intended.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Simple Sunday on a Monday

"we shall find a cleanly room
lavender in the windows
and twenty ballads stuck about the wall."

Izaak Walton The Compleat Angler 1653-55

Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's Official, Autumn is Here

Well, it won't be here for about 10 minutes, according to the facts, but it actually got here a day and a half ago. Grey skies, and cool enough for 'don't take off the long sleeves and socks' mean winter to me, but really, it's just fall. Oh, I'm so thankful I live on Culebra!

edited to take note: It's a Northern Hemisphere thing, for the rest of you, enjoy Spring in a day or so! Thanks, David A.

Have a saturated with sun Saturday! Do something silly.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Free Range Friday ~ Portland

Before we went swift spying, we jumped on one of the very prompt and very numerous buses that travel all over Portland. The driver had us laughing literally from the moment we got on, a crazy, funny, activist inciting "You couldn't find a phone number to call Tri-Met and almost missed your bus? You go online and write them! The customers run this bus line and if they don't say what's wrong, we can't fix it!" ball of energy. Instructing one wheelchair bound woman how to tell off a bus driver if they didn't let her load up first, asking an older gentleman about the outcome of his daughter's job interview, stern and soft and wild and a great driver. She was like the best waitress/bartender looking-out-for-you next door Mom combined and she deserves a raise, even if she just got one. Are you listening, TriMet?

Sarah picked a stop across the river and in the downtown area that would have us near City Market, a sister store to Pastaworks, her job turf. Stores like this make me a little crazier, with their selections of wines, cheeses, tiny bottles and large of olive oils and vinegars and things I've never used or sometimes even heard mentioned, not even in a book. We wanted to make a small picnic to take with us for our swift watching time. We might not have a blanket but we would have venison pate, a cheese you would love to know the name of but I've forgotten it, with a few dolmas and olives to cut the intensity.

Oops. We'd already eaten the dolmas and the rest was going fast. No knife? No need.
Preparation? Next time. Maybe.
So, we were ready. Neither of us are big eaters (qualifier implied here) and figured we'd take our hike, go watch the birds and have a real dinner later on. Of course, it was only noon. And then, we saw a sign. Simultaneously. It was more like a shimmery on the desert after many days of no water glow. Happy Hour Half Price Sushi. All Day. We looked at each other and said a few meaningless phrases as we stumbled forward, drawn irrepressibly into our our temporary nirvana. And it was good.

Yes, I end up in sushi joints one way or another with every member of my family.
In fact, if you are eating sushi, you might very well be part of my family,
so if I sit down with you, don't be afraid.

This is not what we ordered, but it was so pretty and the
chef was just really nice and so sweet - here it is anyway.

Yes, this looks disgusting. But it wasn't. It's an oyster shooter, which seems to be on menus a lot these days, none at all, even remotely a teeny tiny bit alike. This one has a marinated in something spicy carrot stick with a liquid that tastes very much like the gingery sesame dressing used on seaweed salad (which I always thought I'd drink if I got the chance, now I had the chance), a dab of something I don't know at all and a good sized, great tasting oyster. More than a shot, it took us a few sips to get to the kan-pi! part. 

This is what we got, which I only remembered to photograph after we were babbling about how good it was. Tuna and salmon, a spicy tuna roll - one of the best I've ever had; a spider roll, and that's edamame back there...or the empty pods. most likely. It was all great and all half priced, even my sake! Well, Sarah's sake was not half priced as she likes the cold milky kind that doesn't ever come half priced..
I love her dearly but I will never understand liking that sake. 
I was aiming for the purple house in the background but this guy just seemed more important. He was all curled up, resting, then, as I came to him, he starting rising up...and up...and it was time to take the photo and get down the sidewalk. Bye doggie!

I could take photos all day of the amazing homes, large and small, in neighborhoods
of every description in Portland. But I only took a handful. You're welcome.

Obviously I took this one because of the gardens on every level. It's a weird and not too attractive addition to this pretty classic home but from the inside, I bet it rocks!
And hooray for all the plants!
I thought we'd traveled pretty far up when I took this shot.
However, I was still breathing pretty well,
so that was not true, we'd really hardly begun.
By now, any excuse to stop was welcome and I made up a bunch of excuses. But this one was for real; I had to stop to see this house. I loved the strangeness, the lamp posts, the uh...strangeness. It is not far from the park but still far from the top.
Relatively speaking. Five feet would have been far at that point.

As you can see, we had more than five feet to go. This area was so beautiful , with all of these original and amazing homes, and then here was this great, funky garden that
reminded me of Sean and his fanciful scarecrows. I felt a lot better.
For a minute or two, until I was gasping for breath again.

I took this because of the wonderful stone pillars. Then I noticed the full vertebrae on the porch.  I couldn't exactly climb up on the porch and see what it might have been from but I wanted to do just that.
How much higher can we go? Oh, quite a bit.
I'm putting this in again because Sarah is so much more a better photo than the one of me  doubled over and crying. These stairs just appeared and somehow, my GPS knew they were there. Because that's how we went, via my GPS, through neighborhoods, when Sarah had intended for us to hike one of the trails in Forest Park. We did both. I kept panting how happy I was we were seeing all this cool stuff. But where WAS the top??

This is a really great video about the stairs of Portland.
You may want to watch it if you like this sort of thing.
If you do watch, the house in the middle of the staircase?
That's the one we climbed. They even have a bench there! Very cool.

Back to our regularly scheduled post, wending our way high above Portland proper.

At last! The Pittock Mansion. You may read all about it here and lots of other places but I'm showing you what I saw; the outside. We got there at 4:02 and it closed at 4:00. Which was fine. At that point we had two interests. Water. More water. Nicely, there were water fountains outside for the traveler. Most we saw had taken the easy way, by car. Pshaw! Weaklings! 

Properly watered and having seen the views, we did go down the Forest Park trail, not using the GPS and not getting lost, yea Sarah! Finally we emerged into neighborhoods again and after a bit of new, we were back to where we saw this place. It reminds me of Vizcaya in Miami. If Vizcaya were arranged a bit differently. Sort of. 
The biggest zinnia garden I've ever seen. Personally. I've no doubt there are bigger ones.
We had just walked by a couple of really grand homes, one with a bridge from the street to what would be the third floor from the street below it. A man looked out the door as if we might leap onto the bridge and steal his cocktail shaker. His wife emerged from the car and we called out how lovely their bridge was and how we were admiring it. She nodded nervously and scurried across the bridge to safety. We wondered what on earth they thought we might do. I mean, my god, we had pate with us.

Right beyond the huge homes is this wonderful carport. It does NOT connect with the bridge home people. The apple tree is shedding apples and the goat is ready. 

Portland has a lot of crazy, wacky yard art in many neighborhoods but in this particular neighborhood it was wonderfully unexpected and perfect.
You know what happened next. After the swifts we hobbled to an Irish pub where we quenched our spirits and then caught the bus back home. A different driver, a quiet bus. As it should be. Lovely, lovely day.

Our favorite word for now is 'down'. Our muscles are still sore and we have the grimly smiling satisfaction of saying we'll do that again. Someday.

Have a follow your fate Friday. Do something fearfully fascinating.

p.s. Forest Park is an incredible place and it draws me. I've only been there once now so I looked for something that would tell a bit about it in the way it feels to me. This article comes pretty darn close...and I'm jealous. In the good way. I'll never know it so well, but I will know it better, in time.