April 2013

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Hello Everyone! Are you ready for a looong one? Portland’s had truly Spring-like weather, the absolute best I can recall in my fifteen years as a citizen, excellent for gardening, with more digging, planting, and walking. This time we actually went beyond the city limits to where John McLoughlin, also known as the “Father of Oregon,” first laid claim to the territory in the name of the British.

In the back yard at the McLoughlin House, which was moved from its original location near the river. The cannon dates from 1789!

The tunnel under Singer Hill Road,

named for Singer Creek, which exits on the other side.

I love Art Deco, and the Clackamas County Courthouse is a dandy example.

A spectacularly fine roadster, a ’32-’34 Ford, I think. Hef?

Crossing the Oregon City Bridge to West Linn.

Apparently it was a great day for fishing, too. Dontigny, were you out there?

Yellow Awning

Red Ball

Tiny Vesicles

Cat Walk

Peeling Rust

Climbing the steps to Mt. Seleya.

Stopping for a lunch break at Mi Famiglia. We had a delicious spinach salad and mighty fine wood fired pizza, cremini and peperoncini, to be exact.

I spy…

The poor hubster, the one time he really wants to shop, the place is closed. He missed out on a slice of our childhood, with metal lunch boxes, Matchbox cars, Tonka trucks, action figures, McDonald’s glasses, and much, much more…

The tunnel to the Oregon City Municipal Elevator, the only one of its kind in the United States, and pretty darn cool, if you ask me.

It looks a bit like a space ship from the exterior.

The new Oregon City Bridge, boy is it a looker.

Oregon City is filled with charming houses. This one dates to 1877.

Willamette Falls

West Linn paper and vestiges of businesses past.

Nap interrupted.

My second favorite mural ever! The first is in this post.

The gorgeous Atkinson Memorial Church, circa 1924.

Waterboard Park bridges the second and third tiers of Oregon City. Hushed, save for the songs of robins, towhees, and one giggling human.

This is asphalt, slowly being consumed by earth and landslides. We felt as though we’d entered a portal into Logan’s Run, wondering if around the next bend we’d hear the howl and screech of cats and the moaning of “Sanctuary!”

Downtown Portland from the bluff. The hubster’s building is the tall one on the right. Hi Buddy!

Wisteria in full bloom.

This is considered to be the oldest working fire station west of the Rockies. But who cares about that; the sign is neon!

Inside the 100 year-old Carnegie Library.

Treats at Mike’s Drive-In, a banana and a Mayan shake.

Thanks for another great walk, Laura O. Foster!

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It Felt Love

How did the rose

Ever open its heart

And give to this world

All its beauty?

It felt the encouragement of light

Against its being.


We all remain too frightened.



Hello sunshine! Hello dear readers! I am celebrating two weekends worth of digging, mulching, squatting, and shoveling with photos.

The little sprouts are peas. The big leaves are rhubarb. Cross your fingers that the slugs don’t devour them all!

A brave gnome protects the boysenberries. The mulched area in the foreground is our new blueberry patch.

The herb garden and cherry tree.

The flower garden, with one fat squirrel going to town on bird seed. Everyone needs to eat!

The new strawberry patch. There’s a terracotta hedgehog, too.

From the gate.

Red roof with scrub jay and our apple tree in full boom.

The Indian plum hedge is slowly looking like one!

Woodland path with pink azalea.

Last weekend’s labor – mulch, mulch, mulch!

Dogwood and tulip blooming.

Happy Earth Day!



Hi peeps! I’ve got restaurants galore for you today. Interestingly enough, all the photos of actual food are of sweets (or their remains), which I can explain. I am the type who arrives at eating establishments hungry. I might order a cocktail to pass the time but not drink too much of it because I am one cheap date and generally enjoy an upright position. So I snap a photo of said cocktail or the general surroundings, also to pass the time, before the main event. When the food arrives, the camera is pushed aside, and I boogie down. Once happily sated, I take more photos, especially if I order dessert, because, damn it, it’s usually the prettiest course anyway.

Getting to the task at hand, this is Blue Star Donuts. “Donuts for Grownups,” is their slogan. Indeedy. You will not find a single speck of grape dust or Cap’n Crunch, but a well curated selection like lemon poppy seed, cream filled, blueberry bourbon glazed, and our choices: chocolate almond ganache, a hard cider apple fritter, and a divine original glazed. You will not be disappointed, either. The fritter and glazed are the best I’ve ever had, and the hubster, resident chocoholic, thought his was delicious, too. The coffee is top notch, staff friendly, and the view, early on a Saturday morning, entertaining. We saw lost tourists and dog walkers galore and a middle-aged man cuddling a teddy bear swaddled in baby blue. Keeping it weird in Portland.

Luce, billed as an Italian restaurant, always grabs us with their fish and seafood; the stuffed trout, seafood stew, and anchovies with mozzarella so snazzy, I have yet to try a morsel of pasta. It is the sweetest postage stamp of a place with fabulous service and shelves full of specialty wares like fine kitchen towels, scrub brushes, salt, and beautifully wrapped caramels. Try the buckwheat! As for our desserts, the hubster is eating their crazy-good eponymous chocolate cake, while I am about to devour a badass panna cotta with grapefruit syrup. Oh, Luce!

When we are old, the hubster and our canes will have a reserved table at Higgins Bar. Not solely for the food, mind you, but a resounding sense of place. We’ve been eating there for more than thirteen years, and in that time, the familiar comforts of dark wood, brass, and gleaming glass have yet to change, even our server is the same. He works mostly on his own, so there is no chance for chit-chat or the exchange of names, but to watch him zip about is extraordinary, all efficiency, knowledge, and grace.

Then there’s the food, from house made pickles and smoked meats to fresh from the sea oysters, perfect pitch soups, and, of course, stellar desserts. You really can’t go wrong. As usual, the hubster goes for chocolate cake, like a ding-dong of childhood elevated to exquisite heights, with, quite literally, the best chocolate malt ice cream known to man or woman. I had a scoop of cherry sorbet and pistachio ice cream, almost like spumoni when eaten together – have I ever told you that is my favorite ice cream, ever? A close second is the lemon coconut at the Walrus which I first tried way back when the hubster and I were dating. I would show you a picture of me eating it, were it not for the fact that I am intoxicated and really look it. Ah, youth! Back to Higgins, my frozen treats came with assorted yummy cookies: dark chocolate chip with orange, oatmeal raisin, almond, oh, and a fantastic cherry pate.

Welcome to Kir Wine Bar, another tiny place with food that is big on flavor, made in the most diminutive kitchen outside a food cart. But, as the saying goes, it’s not the size but what you do with it that counts. Delectable sausage pasta, gnocchi, smoked paprika pistachios, chicken pate, smoked trout on toast, I could go on. The lemon cake, pudding-like in consistency was just perfect. Oh, and the not-so-small matter of wine and their related spirits, Russell, the man pouring our pink Kir Royales, is encyclopedic in his knowledge, and ever so witty and fun, too. Everything he recommends dazzles, with the stand-out being the vermouth we had with our cake. Light years from your garden variety, the hubster and I thought it was citrus-y with a hint of cedar. Fantastic!

Are you still with me? We’re halfway there! This is Park Kitchen, an oasis on the North Park blocks. The cocktails are ambrosial (such a precious word, but true), with my favorite, not pictured, the PKNY, with rye, egg, lemon, orange, sugar, and ruby port. It really works! Like all of our favorite places, the staff is fantastic, and the flavors heavenly. Some stand-outs are the perogi, green apple and cheddar soup (like nothing I’ve ever tasted), flank steak with blue cheese, and my personal favorite: house cured anchovies, fingerling potatoes, coddled egg, and radish. Yowza!

The hubster and I are revisiting Twin Peaks, one of the wackiest and best gems television has ever known, in my humble opinion. If you don’t know it, Agent Dale Cooper, the dapper FBI agent sent to solve a heinous crime, is a pie and coffee man (he won’t say no to a donut, either), taking such pleasure in their consumption that this viewer can’t help but want some herself. To put it mildly, Dale would love the Pie Spot. We have yet to try their savory varieties, but if they are anything like the lemon vanilla bean, brown butter pecan, or chocolate hazelnut, we are in real trouble, peeps. The coffee is just right, too!

Cacao…chocolate, everything chocolate. Sip it, crunch it, read or talk about it, let it melt on the tip of your tongue. Not surprisingly, this is one of the hubster’s favorite places. He always orders a large drinking chocolate, usually the spicy one, and is blissfully happy. I have a sip or two and enjoy a piece or two, my favorites are the candied lemon peels, or, when they have them, a burnt sugar salted caramel, all enrobed in chocolate, of course.

This is it! We finally made it to our final destination, The Takahashi, probably the most oddly located restaurant with the creepiest exterior we frequent, but do not let that deter you. My table mates always tell me that the sushi is some of the best around. For me, however, not being of the sushi-loving persuasion, the tempura is the real stand-out, always that perfect crunch and impeccable flavor. Even better, their tempura menu is the most extensive I’ve ever seen and ordered in the same manner as the sushi. Shrimp, mushrooms, lotus, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, asparagus, oh, and the scallops, like butter melting in your mouth. Tempura heaven! I’m also a big fan of their udon noodles, so simple and delicious.

Oh my goodness, I’m so tired now, and hungry, too!

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I am reading Mark Spragg’s Where Rivers Change Directions, savoring the pulse of a life vastly different than mine, yet so much the same: friendship, hard work, the confusion of love, loss, the dynamics of family, intertwined with a rural Wyoming life, much of it spent on horseback. Normally I am a swift reader, devouring books in short order, but this one will be eked out, pages pored over, a slow eddy in a vivid stream of thought.

My dad worked nearly his whole adult life at Coors, and when I was a kid he was on the swing shift, the majority of our shared moments spent in the brief window before I left for school in the morning, him sitting at the head of the dining room table, reading the Rocky Mountain News. The first time I remember being alone with him was on summer vacation, most likely, or some rare sunny weekend with him off work, running errands in our sky blue Monte Carlo (I loved that car!), no seatbelts and me peering over the dash in the front. In another first, we stopped at a convenience store, and he let me pick out a treat. There was no dawdling in my choosing, a bag of Circus Animal cookies, the allure of pink and bright sprinkles too dazzling for my girlish heart to pass up. I’d never tasted anything like them, which was made better by the fact that my Dad bought them for me, on a treat of a day, and I didn’t have to share, though I did, with him.

I had my second shirodara treatment last night. It is an Ayurvedic practice where warm oil is slowly dripped onto the center of the forehead. The hubster says it sounds like some form of torture, but that could not be farther from the truth. It is calming and peaceful, great for this spastic writer’s mind. I highly recommend it, along with my practitioner, the kind and knowledgeable Rose. That and my morning yoga practice have me floating today, despite a heavy heart over the tragedies of the week.

Last weekend was one for labor, donning garden trousers and wellies. I fertilized the lawn but did not mow before it rained, so it is a wild emerald belly tickler for the birds, cats, and squirrels. The hubster joined me on Saturday and Sunday to cover half of the front yard in a multitude of cardboard and bark mulch in preparation for native plantings this fall. I love the look of a woodland, dappled shade and rambling wild berries and ferns, so that is what it shall be. We also dug new beds in the back for blueberries, strawberries, and rhubarb. I am proud to say I did it all without so much as a blister, which is rare.

And today, this afternoon, a bath to wash out last night’s oil, and a walk with my sweet friend Amy. It just gets better…



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