Tessie Comes to Portland

February 28, 2019

I discovered February had come to an end when one of my coworkers remarked that there was no “29th” day of February as I labeled and dated a package of smoked salmon I had just portioned. I blinked stupidly, decided he was right and pondered the concept of leap years as I ripped off a new strip of masking tape and marked “3/1” on it.

Tessie and her roommate Will were scheduled to arrive on a 10:00 am flight at the PDX airport. True to Tessie’s form she went all out and they were mixing tequila with juice before the flight even left MCI. Vacation had begun.

I was working the kitchen that day and they planned to get bus passes and take public transport from the airport to reach my work.

Around noon I started poking my head around the corner to peer out one of the many windows in the cafe to see if I could spot them coming up the sidewalk.

They finally arrived around 12:40, Tessie blew in sporting a red jacket, wavy black hair, and toting Will and the most fashionable looking suitcase I had ever seen.

Their flight from Kansas City had them up at 3:00 am Central time and the tequila, as it turns out, was not the best substitute for breakfast.

Both Will and Tessie were starving and I poured them both steaming mugs of black coffee and shooed them to a table while I dropped some eggs in the poaching water and fixed them some food.

I delivered the food, refilled their coffee and raised an eyebrow at Tessie who was sitting, staring into the void, with large, black sunglasses on. She wilted into a small puddle in the chair under my gaze and declared that she’d had something in her eye since 6:00 am and couldn’t get it out.

I nodded and offered a few options she’d already tried and the promise that Benadryl and eye drops were nearby.

They both perked up immensely after eating and I sent them to walk across the river and explore the mysteries of Powell’s bookstore and downtown while I finished up at work.

I closed the kitchen in record time, picked them up, and then we all made a communal trip to Safeway to fetch ingredients for macaroni and cheese and a salad.

We spent the evening drinking wine & beer while I stirred the bechamel, crisped bacon in the oven, and ordered everyone to take a turn grating the cheese. Somehow Will escaped this task and was found instead snacking on the grated goods (I have your number and a block of cheese next time I’m in town buddy).

It was a grand evening and we all got big bowls of macaroni and cheese and retired to the couch where the two central-timers fell asleep watching friends not long after eating.

I scooched the sleepy Tess to the chair while I made up the couch for her and inflated the air mattress for Will. Muggsy ran back and forth excitedly and eventually leaped on top of Tessie and stomped around obnoxiously which did not spark so much as a grunt from Tess. Amazing what growing up with 10 siblings will do for your ability to sleep through ANYTHING.

March 1, 2019

The next morning I went in to work for a few hours and Tess and Will headed back downtown to explore. I got off around 12:00 pm, walked the two scenic miles across the Hawthorn bridge and met them for a beer.

Then I took them exploring and we visited the iconic salmon swimming through the brick wall on 9th street, meandered along the river and then back across the bridge to collect my car. It was nearing 4:00 pm and we piled in and drove towards Cathedral Park in North West.

We hit the exit to Cathedral park right in the middle of rush hour and there was a huge line of cars. We sat for fifteen minutes, inching along whenever the light turned green allowing approximately three cars through. We were nearly at the end and Will asked if there was a bathroom at the park. I didn’t know and had Tess look it up.

The google did not know either and so we pulled out of the line of cars and drove up the road to a 7/11 with exactly one dingy bathroom and a sign on the door stating “bathroom for customers only.” We all took our turns and then dutifully picked out an item under the watchful eye of the old codger running the place. I bought a chapstick and then paid an extra .40 cents to use my credit card. The chapstick has since disappeared into the dark recesses of my Toyota where it is likely rolling around with enough loose change to have paid for itself and the credit card fee besides.

Cathedral Park was lovely, we stomped around on the soggy grass, our feet suctioning in the mud, stared at the columns, and then right as we decided to head back a train came huffing through, blowing its whistle before it came to a screeching halt and began to reverse and then came to a groaning stop for a solid 20 minutes smack in front of the park exit.

We used our time to discuss our evening plans. Tess was all for going out again so once the train finally backed itself out of the way we drove back home and I deposited Tess and Will at the house to hang out with Muggsy while Tony and I went to pick up some neighborhood Thai food that was not very good, but it was nearby. I was beginning to feel stressed and frantic and it wasn’t until I was back on the couch eating my level five green curry that I realized I had worked six hours, walked four miles, and then driven all over the city on one very small piece of avocado toast and I was starving.

Hot food does wonders for a body. I calmed right down and focused on my burning tongue and as the food hit our bellies Tessie announced the couch was preferable to getting dolled up and traversing the city on a Friday night. I couldn’t have agreed more and we turned in early.

March 2, 2019

Saturday morning dawned Sunny with a high of 50 degrees in Portland. Tony was on the road to go snowboarding by 6:00 am and I had everyone else up and in the car around 8:00, egg sandwiches in hand, coffee in thermoses, and Muggsy in her harness with her collapsible water bowl in tow.

We drove 40 minutes East for Multnomah Falls. Twenty minutes into the drive the sun disappeared and the leaves we passed were covered in more and more frost. We arrived at the falls entrance just in time to snag one of the last parking spots. On a warm, summer day there will be cars lined up for a mile each way down the highway to get to the falls so this was lucky indeed. There was ice and snow on the ground and I scooped Muggsy up and carried her along while we all slipped and slid across the road to the short trail leading up to the falls.

The falls were spectacular with a high-arching bridge near the top that if you were brave enough to head up the icy trail, you could stand on and feel the spray from the falls on your face. We started up the trail which came to an abrupt and unfortunate end when Muggsy got into a fight with another dog. Fortunately, no one was badly hurt, we got the dogs separated and I had Tess go ahead of me down the trail clearing out any and all K-nines while I grimly held muggsy by the harness and we slipped and slid our way down to the car where we both calmed down and drank some water.

I sent Will and Tess back up to check out the falls, checked in with the other dogs owners and we were all pleased to find out both dogs were up to date on their shots. I will not lie. That experience shook me, I have never owned a dog with aggression issues before and felt like a complete failure for having allowed that fight to happen. This sparked a whole new investment in training for me and Muggsy and has opened my eyes to a new world of how to handle dogs which I will share more of at another time.

After Tess and Will had seen the falls we headed back home. Driving back into the sunshine was a welcome sight to warrant off the stressful, icy turn the morning had taken. We dropped Muggsy off at home to nap in her crate and I took Will and Tess to Pine State Biscuits, one of my favorite brunch spots in Portland!

They serve the most beautiful biscuit with fried chicken, melted cheese, and just slathered in gravy. For an extra dollar, you can get the chicken dunked in their house-made hot sauce. It was just what the Dr. ordered. We all felt much better after and I drove us to Alberta street where I headed to Afterglow Aerial Arts for my silks class while Will and Tess explored.

We headed back home after, met up with Tony who was back from Snowboarding, and took a brief siesta snacking on a jumbo plate of cheese, crackers, tomatoes, avocado, and anything else I found lying around that looked tasty.

Tony opted to stay home with Muggsy while I took Tess and Will to the Central East Side of town to visit Cloud Forest Chocolate and then Will went on his own way to refuel his introverted nature for a while and Tess and I got an Uber to an area with multiple resale and vintage stores where we shopped, walked, talked, and repeated. We ended at The Richmond Bar where Tess had a Gin and Tonic and I had an IPA. We sat and talked for the better part of an hour, catching up like no one but two sisters can do.

We then headed into downtown to meet up with Will. We headed to the Shanghai Tunnel Bar which I immediately loved for its lack of pretension. Both bartenders wore braids in their beards, the lemon wedges were cut with a superb lack of precision and they had no idea how to make a Trinidad Sour. I felt right at home.

Drinks were knocked back and Will left to use the restroom. I sent Tess to the bar for a glass of water and Will passed her on his way back to the table with a small plastic cup of tap water in hand. Tessie was at the bar for a solid five minutes, the bartender’s full attention on her. She then reappeared with a pint glass of ice water with lemon and Will said “Are you kidding me? I just went up and asked for a water and was told to get water from the bucket at the end.” Tess sipped her frosty lemon water demurely, Will looked distastefully at his plastic cup, and I laughed with great vigor, then shoved Tessie’s head towards the table just in time to avoid a pool stick smacking her from behind.

That’s pretty much how the rest of the evening went, I called it a night at 11:30, catching an Uber home, while Tess and Will scurried off to another bar. I gave Tess the house key, texted her the address and a warning that the wakeup call the next day was 7:00 am before leaving.

I woke up to a jiggle on the door around 2:00 am and a text from Tessie reading “Where’s the key?” To which I replied “With you, I hope” and listened amusedly to their muffled noises while she found it and they let themselves in. I had made up the beds of course because I am a wonderful sister and I grinned quietly to myself as I thought of the ruckus I was prepared to make to get them out of bed at 7:00 am the next morning.

March 3, 2019

As one would expect we were not on the road by 8:00 am the next day. I set Advil and a glass of water with a sticky note reading “Drink me” on the Table next to Tess and then managed to be preoccupied while Muggsy leaped on top of Tess and stomped around till she was awake. Eventually, everyone was showered with a thermos of coffee and a banana in hand and we hit I5 North by 8:30 am which was not half bad timing *pats self on back.* Tony stayed behind with Muggsy as Sadie had just adopted two kittens and Muggsy’s behavior the previous day did not inspire confidence.

We stopped in Olympia for gas, Tess and Will got snacks which I scolded them for as I explained about the godly breakfast burritos that would be awaiting us on our arrival. Pedro, Sadies partner makes THE BEST breakfast burritos in the entire world. The Best. SO good. Worth the roundtrip six-hour drive every time. I spent the last hour up to Seattle singing a love song to the burrito quietly in my head.

We arrived in Seattle, put the car in park and traipsed up the stairs to Sadie’s and Pedro’s apartment. We were greeted by a jumping Brutus, the smell of hot coffee and breakfast, and two kittens running in between everyone’s legs.

We ate the godly burritos, Pedro headed off to work and we all tripped out to Sadies Prius and piled in to head to the Fremont Market. The market was one of the best I’ve been to. Not really a farmers market so much as an arts and small vendors market I bought a toothbrush from MamaP where you can choose from one of four colors and 15% of the proceeds go to a corresponding charity such as LGBTQ, women’s rights, etc. Sadie bought us all macarons from Alexandria’s Macarons, she is truly an artist!

We traipsed about the market and then headed for a beer at Fremont Brewing. We then visited a thrift store while waiting for Thai Tom to open which is the BEST place to get Thai food in Seattle and really anywhere. It’s a small, dingy and dark cafe with few tables and lots of stools packed along the bar. The menu is a paper leaf with a popsicle stick for a handle and there are approximately ten items on the menu to choose from with a choice of tofu, chicken, or beef.

It was so, so good and we feasted in the chilly shop like nobility, slurping up noodles and curry with chopsticks, our fingers chilled and the food tasting all the better for it. After, we made a stop for dessert at 85 Degrees before saying goodbye and piling back into my car for the drive home. I dropped Will and Tess at the PDX airport around 10:30 pm for their flight home and pondered on the drive home how lucky it is to have sisters.

To Be Continued…

February 28, 2019

I discovered February had come to an end when one of my coworkers remarked that there was no “29th” day of February as I labeled and dated a package of smoked salmon I had just portioned. I blinked stupidly, decided he was right and pondered the concept of leap years as I ripped off a new strip of masking tape and marked “3/1” on it.

Tessie and her roommate Will were scheduled to arrive on a 10:00 am flight at the PDX airport. True to Tessie’s form she went all out and they were mixing tequila with juice before the flight even left MCI. Vacation had begun.

I was working the kitchen that day and they planned to get bus passes and take public transport from the airport to reach my work.

Around noon I started poking my head around the corner to peer out one of the many windows in the cafe to see if I could spot them coming up the sidewalk.

They finally arrived around 12:40, Tessie blew in sporting a red jacket, wavy black hair, and toting Will and the most fashionable looking suitcase I had ever seen.

Their flight from Kansas City had them up at 3:00 am Central time and the tequila, as it turns out, was not the best substitute for breakfast.

Both Will and Tessie were starving and I poured them both steaming mugs of black coffee and shooed them to a table while I dropped some eggs in the poaching water and fixed them some food.

I delivered the food, refilled their coffee and raised an eyebrow at Tessie who was sitting, staring into the void, with large, black sunglasses on. She wilted into a small puddle in the chair under my gaze and declared that she’d had something in her eye since 6:00 am and couldn’t get it out.

I nodded and offered a few options she’d already tried and the promise that Benadryl and eye drops were nearby.

They both perked up immensely after eating and I sent them to walk across the river and explore the mysteries of Powell’s bookstore and downtown while I finished up at work.

I closed the kitchen in record time, picked them up, and then we all made a communal trip to Safeway to fetch ingredients for macaroni and cheese and a salad.

We spent the evening drinking wine & beer while I stirred the bechamel, crisped bacon in the oven, and ordered everyone to take a turn grating the cheese. Somehow Will escaped this task and was found instead snacking on the grated goods (I have your number and a block of cheese next time I’m in town buddy).

It was a grand evening and we all got big bowls of macaroni and cheese and retired to the couch where the two central-timers fell asleep watching friends not long after eating.

I scooched the sleepy Tess to the chair while I made up the couch for her and inflated the air mattress for Will. Muggsy ran back and forth excitedly and eventually leaped on top of Tessie and stomped around obnoxiously which did not spark so much as a grunt from Tess. Amazing what growing up with 10 siblings will do for your ability to sleep through ANYTHING.

March 1, 2019

The next morning I went in to work for a few hours and Tess and Will headed back downtown to explore. I got off around 12:00 pm, walked the two scenic miles across the Hawthorn bridge and met them for a beer.

Then I took them exploring and we visited the iconic salmon swimming through the brick wall on 9th street, meandered along the river and then back across the bridge to collect my car. It was nearing 4:00 pm and we piled in and drove towards Cathedral Park in North West.

We hit the exit to Cathedral park right in the middle of rush hour and there was a huge line of cars. We sat for fifteen minutes, inching along whenever the light turned green allowing approximately three cars through. We were nearly at the end and Will asked if there was a bathroom at the park. I didn’t know and had Tess look it up.

The google did not know either and so we pulled out of the line of cars and drove up the road to a 7/11 with exactly one dingy bathroom and a sign on the door stating “bathroom for customers only.” We all took our turns and then dutifully picked out an item under the watchful eye of the old codger running the place. I bought a chapstick and then paid an extra .40 cents to use my credit card. The chapstick has since disappeared into the dark recesses of my Toyota where it is likely rolling around with enough loose change to have paid for itself and the credit card fee besides.

Cathedral Park was lovely, we stomped around on the soggy grass, our feet suctioning in the mud, stared at the columns, and then right as we decided to head back a train came huffing through, blowing its whistle before it came to a screeching halt and began to reverse and then came to a groaning stop for a solid 20 minutes smack in front of the park exit.

We used our time to discuss our evening plans. Tess was all for going out again so once the train finally backed itself out of the way we drove back home and I deposited Tess and Will at the house to hang out with Muggsy while Tony and I went to pick up some neighborhood Thai food that was not very good, but it was nearby. I was beginning to feel stressed and frantic and it wasn’t until I was back on the couch eating my level five green curry that I realized I had worked six hours, walked four miles, and then driven all over the city on one very small piece of avocado toast and I was starving.

Hot food does wonders for a body. I calmed right down and focused on my burning tongue and as the food hit our bellies Tessie announced the couch was preferable to getting dolled up and traversing the city on a Friday night. I couldn’t have agreed more and we turned in early.

March 2, 2019

Saturday morning dawned Sunny with a high of 50 degrees in Portland. Tony was on the road to go snowboarding by 6:00 am and I had everyone else up and in the car around 8:00, egg sandwiches in hand, coffee in thermoses, and Muggsy in her harness with her collapsible water bowl in tow.

We drove 40 minutes East for Multnomah Falls. Twenty minutes into the drive the sun disappeared and the leaves we passed were covered in more and more frost. We arrived at the falls entrance just in time to snag one of the last parking spots. On a warm, summer day there will be cars lined up for a mile each way down the highway to get to the falls so this was lucky indeed. There was ice and snow on the ground and I scooped Muggsy up and carried her along while we all slipped and slid across the road to the short trail leading up to the falls.

The falls were spectacular with a high-arching bridge near the top that if you were brave enough to head up the icy trail, you could stand on and feel the spray from the falls on your face. We started up the trail which came to an abrupt and unfortunate end when Muggsy got into a fight with another dog. Fortunately, no one was badly hurt, we got the dogs separated and I had Tess go ahead of me down the trail clearing out any and all K-nines while I grimly held muggsy by the harness and we slipped and slid our way down to the car where we both calmed down and drank some water.

I sent Will and Tess back up to check out the falls, checked in with the other dogs owners and we were all pleased to find out both dogs were up to date on their shots. I will not lie. That experience shook me, I have never owned a dog with aggression issues before and felt like a complete failure for having allowed that fight to happen. This sparked a whole new investment in training for me and Muggsy and has opened my eyes to a new world of how to handle dogs which I will share more of at another time.

After Tess and Will had seen the falls we headed back home. Driving back into the sunshine was a welcome sight to warrant off the stressful, icy turn the morning had taken. We dropped Muggsy off at home to nap in her crate and I took Will and Tess to Pine State Biscuits, one of my favorite brunch spots in Portland!

They serve the most beautiful biscuit with fried chicken, melted cheese, and just slathered in gravy. For an extra dollar, you can get the chicken dunked in their house-made hot sauce. It was just what the Dr. ordered. We all felt much better after and I drove us to Alberta street where I headed to Afterglow Aerial Arts for my silks class while Will and Tess explored.

We headed back home after, met up with Tony who was back from Snowboarding, and took a brief siesta snacking on a jumbo plate of cheese, crackers, tomatoes, avocado, and anything else I found lying around that looked tasty.

Tony opted to stay home with Muggsy while I took Tess and Will to the Central East Side of town to visit Cloud Forest Chocolate and then Will went on his own way to refuel his introverted nature for a while and Tess and I got an Uber to an area with multiple resale and vintage stores where we shopped, walked, talked, and repeated. We ended at The Richmond Bar where Tess had a Gin and Tonic and I had an IPA. We sat and talked for the better part of an hour, catching up like no one but two sisters can do.

We then headed into downtown to meet up with Will. We headed to the Shanghai Tunnel Bar which I immediately loved for its lack of pretension. Both bartenders wore braids in their beards, the lemon wedges were cut with a superb lack of precision and they had no idea how to make a Trinidad Sour. I felt right at home.

Drinks were knocked back and Will left to use the restroom. I sent Tess to the bar for a glass of water and Will passed her on his way back to the table with a small plastic cup of tap water in hand. Tessie was at the bar for a solid five minutes, the bartender’s full attention on her. She then reappeared with a pint glass of ice water with lemon and Will said “Are you kidding me? I just went up and asked for a water and was told to get water from the bucket at the end.” Tess sipped her frosty lemon water demurely, Will looked distastefully at his plastic cup, and I laughed with great vigor, then shoved Tessie’s head towards the table just in time to avoid a pool stick smacking her from behind.

That’s pretty much how the rest of the evening went, I called it a night at 11:30, catching an Uber home, while Tess and Will scurried off to another bar. I gave Tess the house key, texted her the address and a warning that the wakeup call the next day was 7:00 am before leaving.

I woke up to a jiggle on the door around 2:00 am and a text from Tessie reading “Where’s the key?” To which I replied “With you, I hope” and listened amusedly to their muffled noises while she found it and they let themselves in. I had made up the beds of course because I am a wonderful sister and I grinned quietly to myself as I thought of the ruckus I was prepared to make to get them out of bed at 7:00 am the next morning.

March 3, 2019

As one would expect we were not on the road by 8:00 am the next day. I set Advil and a glass of water with a sticky note reading “Drink me” on the Table next to Tess and then managed to be preoccupied while Muggsy leaped on top of Tess and stomped around till she was awake. Eventually, everyone was showered with a thermos of coffee and a banana in hand and we hit I5 North by 8:30 am which was not half bad timing *pats self on back.* Tony stayed behind with Muggsy as Sadie had just adopted two kittens and Muggsy’s behavior the previous day did not inspire confidence.

We stopped in Olympia for gas, Tess and Will got snacks which I scolded them for as I explained about the godly breakfast burritos that would be awaiting us on our arrival. Pedro, Sadies partner makes THE BEST breakfast burritos in the entire world. The Best. SO good. Worth the roundtrip six-hour drive every time. I spent the last hour up to Seattle singing a love song to the burrito quietly in my head.

We arrived in Seattle, put the car in park and traipsed up the stairs to Sadie’s and Pedro’s apartment. We were greeted by a jumping Brutus, the smell of hot coffee and breakfast, and two kittens running in between everyone’s legs.

We ate the godly burritos, Pedro headed off to work and we all tripped out to Sadies Prius and piled in to head to the Fremont Market. The market was one of the best I’ve been to. Not really a farmers market so much as an arts and small vendors market I bought a toothbrush from MamaP where you can choose from one of four colors and 15% of the proceeds go to a corresponding charity such as LGBTQ, women’s rights, etc. Sadie bought us all macarons from Alexandria’s Macarons, she is truly an artist!

We traipsed about the market and then headed for a beer at Fremont Brewing. We then visited a thrift store while waiting for Thai Tom to open which is the BEST place to get Thai food in Seattle and really anywhere. It’s a small, dingy and dark cafe with few tables and lots of stools packed along the bar. The menu is a paper leaf with a popsicle stick for a handle and there are approximately ten items on the menu to choose from with a choice of tofu, chicken, or beef.

It was so, so good and we feasted in the chilly shop like nobility, slurping up noodles and curry with chopsticks, our fingers chilled and the food tasting all the better for it. After, we made a stop for dessert at 85 Degrees before saying goodbye and piling back into my car for the drive home. I dropped Will and Tess at the PDX airport around 10:30 pm for their flight home and pondered on the drive home how lucky it is to have sisters.

To Be Continued…

Recipe Fails and Walmart Woes

February 15, 2019

It was the sort of Tuesday that made you question whether it was actually Monday. The kitchen I currently run closes at 3:00 pm and I faithfully watched the seconds tick by till the clock struck three before bellowing out “86 Kitchen!”  

Not ten seconds later a middle-aged white woman came marching up to the counter and without pausing for a greeting announced that she’d have a large latte and an avocado toast with a poached egg.

The dear, sweet girl working the counter politely informed her the kitchen had just closed but we did still have pastries. The woman, being who she was, wanted to know if we would make her food anyways.

I politely explained that while I would love to, it was simply not fair to any other customer that came up and ordered after 3:00 if I served her and not them. I offered her a bowl of granola and she spat out something nasty about needing protein and not sugar. I turned to my pile of dishes and began scrubbing. I look forward to reading her nasty review later over my 7th cup of coffee.

I cleaned up, walked to my car with my nose tucked against the determined wind and drove half an hour to Bed Bath and Beyond. My little sister Tessie was coming to visit in two days with her friend Will and I needed to pick up some extra bedding to sleep them both, Muggsy, having ripped holes in what used to be the guest bedding.

Now, Muggsy is not allowed on the bed when we go to sleep, but sometime in the early morning hours she sneaks onto the bed and plops down right in between us, pulling all the blankets with her and we wake up freezing and clutching a corner of the comforter while she sprawls, blissfully unaware with her toenails digging into Tony’s or my back depending on the day.

This being the case I had decided we needed a king sized blanket for our queen sized bed, figuring the extra fabric would solve the issue. Since we had to buy new bedding anyways I thought why not get one of those down-alternative comforters my well-to-do friend from high-school had and pass on the hole-ridden blanket to my little sister? What are little sisters for, after all…

I drove 30 minutes from work to a Bed Bath and Beyond, prepared to drop $100 dollars to get the coveted duvet. Turns out that blanket is a whopping $500 bucks and that is not that far off from what we bought my current car for. I blinked stupidly at the price tag while fingering the perfect cloud of a blanket and then I left, plugging a more reasonable destination into the GPS.

Somehow, I dropped a pin in a random neighborhood and the GPS took me on a wild goose chase till it landed me outside some arbitrary house in the suburbs in South West Portland. I plugged in Walmart, one of my least favorite places on earth, and found myself parking and running in through the chill wind 10 minutes later.

I grabbed blankets, pillows, sheets, toilet paper, paper towels, and the fixings for dinner which I piled into my cart. I passed a man in the condiment section picking out a bottle of ketchup, he selected one, took a deep breath and said “Ok then” before gathering up the ketchup and five more items strewn about the aisle, no cart in sight. I nodded at him and said, “I always do that too.” And we shared a moment of solidarity before he said: “It’s when you start getting the phone calls that you run into trouble.” I nodded seriously and we both headed our separate ways, ketchup in hand.

After I checked out, the man at the door inspected my receipt carefully to ensure I wasn’t making away with the $40 comforter set and then I loaded all the goods into my car, pulled out my phone, and the screen said: “Your driver is almost here.” I had accidentally called an Uber, it was his lucky day I realized it before driving off, I can only imagine his confusion when the dot he was following flew out of the Walmart parking lot and got onto I5.

I got home with grand plans to make black bean burgers for dinner. The kitchen was a mess so I cleaned it up and then pulled out all the ingredients. We’re now on our third week of imperfect produce and I had two red bell peppers sitting in the fridge that were starting to wilt.

Every time I walk past red bell peppers in the grocery store I find myself pulled in by their color, in the similar fashion that you suddenly have a bursting urge to use the bathroom when the captain turns on the “fasten seatbelt sign.”. They’re always more than $1 a piece and so I never buy them but blissfully imagine every way my life would be better if I had those bell peppers.

Now that I had two sitting in the fridge going bad I couldn’t think of a single way to use them. So I was determined to use them in these black bean burgers and I pulled out their stems and dropped the bell peppers into the food processor with some onion, black beans, and a bunch of spices and herbs.

I whizzed it up, took off the lid and stared at the gloopy pile of mush I had just made. It looked like something Muggsy had regurgitated and was far too wet to be shaped into burger patties. My last staves of energy left me all at once and I slid down the wall onto the floor and thought that we might as well just go ahead and starve and be terrible people while we’re at it for wasting the red bell peppers.

Tony had no time for this and in much nicer words told me to get off the floor and stop whining. He then left to get more black beans and I scraped the gloopy mess into the compost, unloaded the now clean dishwasher and then reloaded with all the dirty dishes.

I found a second wind and began sautéing onion and then reducing it with red wine, poured myself a glass and then sliced up tomato, red onion and cheese so that when I nailed the perfect black bean burger, and I knew that I would, we would be ready to assemble them and then retire to watch Brooklyn 99, burger in hand.

I did in fact not nail the perfect black bean burger but they did look beautiful and tasted fine. And that was really all I required out of them right at that moment. Don’t look for a black bean burger recipe anytime soon but I will grant you two pieces of advice: 1. Do not, under any circumstances, blend your black bean burger mixture. 2. Red wine is always a good idea.

To Be Continued…

February 15, 2019

It was the sort of Tuesday that made you question whether it was actually Monday. The kitchen I currently run closes at 3:00 pm and I faithfully watched the seconds tick by till the clock struck three before bellowing out “86 Kitchen!”  

Not ten seconds later a middle-aged white woman came marching up to the counter and without pausing for a greeting announced that she’d have a large latte and an avocado toast with a poached egg.

The dear, sweet girl working the counter politely informed her the kitchen had just closed but we did still have pastries. The woman, being who she was, wanted to know if we would make her food anyways.

I politely explained that while I would love to, it was simply not fair to any other customer that came up and ordered after 3:00 if I served her and not them. I offered her a bowl of granola and she spat out something nasty about needing protein and not sugar. I turned to my pile of dishes and began scrubbing. I look forward to reading her nasty review later over my 7th cup of coffee.

I cleaned up, walked to my car with my nose tucked against the determined wind and drove half an hour to Bed Bath and Beyond. My little sister Tessie was coming to visit in two days with her friend Will and I needed to pick up some extra bedding to sleep them both, Muggsy, having ripped holes in what used to be the guest bedding.

Now, Muggsy is not allowed on the bed when we go to sleep, but sometime in the early morning hours she sneaks onto the bed and plops down right in between us, pulling all the blankets with her and we wake up freezing and clutching a corner of the comforter while she sprawls, blissfully unaware with her toenails digging into Tony’s or my back depending on the day.

This being the case I had decided we needed a king sized blanket for our queen sized bed, figuring the extra fabric would solve the issue. Since we had to buy new bedding anyways I thought why not get one of those down-alternative comforters my well-to-do friend from high-school had and pass on the hole-ridden blanket to my little sister? What are little sisters for, after all…

I drove 30 minutes from work to a Bed Bath and Beyond, prepared to drop $100 dollars to get the coveted duvet. Turns out that blanket is a whopping $500 bucks and that is not that far off from what we bought my current car for. I blinked stupidly at the price tag while fingering the perfect cloud of a blanket and then I left, plugging a more reasonable destination into the GPS.

Somehow, I dropped a pin in a random neighborhood and the GPS took me on a wild goose chase till it landed me outside some arbitrary house in the suburbs in South West Portland. I plugged in Walmart, one of my least favorite places on earth, and found myself parking and running in through the chill wind 10 minutes later.

I grabbed blankets, pillows, sheets, toilet paper, paper towels, and the fixings for dinner which I piled into my cart. I passed a man in the condiment section picking out a bottle of ketchup, he selected one, took a deep breath and said “Ok then” before gathering up the ketchup and five more items strewn about the aisle, no cart in sight. I nodded at him and said, “I always do that too.” And we shared a moment of solidarity before he said: “It’s when you start getting the phone calls that you run into trouble.” I nodded seriously and we both headed our separate ways, ketchup in hand.

After I checked out, the man at the door inspected my receipt carefully to ensure I wasn’t making away with the $40 comforter set and then I loaded all the goods into my car, pulled out my phone, and the screen said: “Your driver is almost here.” I had accidentally called an Uber, it was his lucky day I realized it before driving off, I can only imagine his confusion when the dot he was following flew out of the Walmart parking lot and got onto I5.

I got home with grand plans to make black bean burgers for dinner. The kitchen was a mess so I cleaned it up and then pulled out all the ingredients. We’re now on our third week of imperfect produce and I had two red bell peppers sitting in the fridge that were starting to wilt.

Every time I walk past red bell peppers in the grocery store I find myself pulled in by their color, in the similar fashion that you suddenly have a bursting urge to use the bathroom when the captain turns on the “fasten seatbelt sign.”. They’re always more than $1 a piece and so I never buy them but blissfully imagine every way my life would be better if I had those bell peppers.

Now that I had two sitting in the fridge going bad I couldn’t think of a single way to use them. So I was determined to use them in these black bean burgers and I pulled out their stems and dropped the bell peppers into the food processor with some onion, black beans, and a bunch of spices and herbs.

I whizzed it up, took off the lid and stared at the gloopy pile of mush I had just made. It looked like something Muggsy had regurgitated and was far too wet to be shaped into burger patties. My last staves of energy left me all at once and I slid down the wall onto the floor and thought that we might as well just go ahead and starve and be terrible people while we’re at it for wasting the red bell peppers.

Tony had no time for this and in much nicer words told me to get off the floor and stop whining. He then left to get more black beans and I scraped the gloopy mess into the compost, unloaded the now clean dishwasher and then reloaded with all the dirty dishes.

I found a second wind and began sautéing onion and then reducing it with red wine, poured myself a glass and then sliced up tomato, red onion and cheese so that when I nailed the perfect black bean burger, and I knew that I would, we would be ready to assemble them and then retire to watch Brooklyn 99, burger in hand.

I did in fact not nail the perfect black bean burger but they did look beautiful and tasted fine. And that was really all I required out of them right at that moment. Don’t look for a black bean burger recipe anytime soon but I will grant you two pieces of advice: 1. Do not, under any circumstances, blend your black bean burger mixture. 2. Red wine is always a good idea.

To Be Continued…

A Culinary Cabaret

January 4, 2019

This year I discovered a new tool; To encourage people and myself to think of three ways to phrase something before blurting it out. Its benefits are three-fold:

1. It gives you the opportunity to say something more clearly or kindly.
2. You sound very wise when you pass on this knowledge.
3. You get to peruse a shockingly large list of adjectives you didn’t know you knew!

The last one always makes me think of the Ramona Quimby books I read as a child. I distinctly remember Ramona (age eight, I believe) sitting in school and her teacher admonishing them all “There is always a better word than ‘stuff’.” I feel a slight twinge to do better every time the word “stuff” comes out of my mouth. Amazing what sticks with you from your childhood, isn’t’ it?

A fun fact I stumbled upon entirely by accident was that Beverly Cleary, the author of the aforementioned books, used to live in Portland, OR. I began taking Aerial Silks classes in December and as the days lined up, Thursdays I would get off work around 5:00 pm in the central, East side of Portland, and have two hours to kill until my class started at 7:00 pm. It wasn’t worth it to drive home across the river and through traffic and so I randomly chose the closest, Multnomah county library, which happened to be the library in the neighborhood that Beverly Cleary used to live in, and they have maps of her walking route and hangouts.

Perhaps when the sun is up past 5:00 pm I’ll grab a map and walk that route while reminiscing, but currently, the sun has already said goodnight when I get there and the dark this far North-West is very uninviting for an evening stroll.

These last few months have been a blur, in December, I took a weekend and drove up to see Sadie in Seattle. “Sadie in Seattle” has a bit of a ring to it, no? She bought us tickets to the Can-Can Cabaret that is Seattle’s underground burlesque show in Pikes Place Market. We did up our hair, called an Uber which dropped us out front and headed down the stairs and inside to a room with a small stage and a low ceiling with unfinished wooden beams.

The atmosphere was very rustic but upscale. The hostess complimented my tower of hair and showed us to our table where I ordered a Death in the Afternoon and bounced excitedly in my seat.

The show was amazing, it was equal parts comedy and burlesque and we laughed so hard I think champagne and absinthe came out my nose a little. At one point they dragged a very unlucky man who was there with his fiance and her parents up on stage with the promise of “You never really know a man until he’s on stage with five very aggressive strippers.” They were not wrong. If you’re ever in Seattle I cannot recommend The Can Can Cabaret enough, you will laugh, you will be awed, you will snort champagne and not care.

We went to dinner after at this ritzy French place called Place Pigalle where our table overlooked the Puget Sound. We were both a little toasted already and our waiter was far too serious for the occasion, he used eloquent words about the specials, an extra flourish as he poured my wine, and he re-folded Sadies napkin into a fancy point that sat up all on its own when she stepped away to the restroom. The face she made when she returned almost caused me to spit out my $43.00 bouillabaisse. Afterward, we took some very “staged” photo’s by Seattle’s famous “gum wall”, which is a disgusting piece of art to behold, and then called an Uber home.

I said goodbye the next day after Pedro, Sadies partner, made us the best breakfast burritos of my life, and I spent 4 hours white-knuckling the steering wheel through the torrential downpour on I5, all the way home.

To catch you up on the happenings since the new year, I received a special package in the mail from Tori, weeks after she had sent it. It was Julia Childs cookbook and when I sent her a picture of the package she replied: “That is not the package I sent it in.” If it could talk I would LOVE to hear the story of what happened that caused it to be delivered weeks late and in a different package, what a tale that must be.

Come the beginning of this year Tony and I decided to really hone in on what we wanted Cleaver Cooking to bring to the table. The conclusion we came to is that we wanted to create a recipe website without the bullshit, where you don’t have to scroll through pages of someone rambling on and multiple styled photos of the same thing before you ever get to the recipe. It meant that every recipe needed to be valuable, easy to make, all questions answered, and we wanted to make our website so simple to use you don’t even have to think about it.

This, in turn, began a two-month stint of remodeling the website which went about like this: “Let’s change that, put a picture here, and make this button green.” Tony would make one change, hit update, and suddenly there would be lines of code running across the home page or a picture would be lopped off randomly and for no reason. Web design is no joke, there was much gnashing of teeth, late nights, and plenty of weekends where we were at our wits-end with glazed-over eyes, and living off a diet of tuna sandwiches and frozen pizza. We finally finished, launched full-scale videos, and are both so, so glad to be back to creating content!

In other news, I decided to give Imperfect Produce a try. I LOVE IT! Especially customizing my box and getting excited for what is coming. I fully expect to stay on the train for a few months, then fall off it, then get back on, etc. Isn’t that the rhythm in which we all live our lives? Much like a diet, exercise, socializing, binge-watching a show, visiting your family, waistlines, dress-sizes, it all comes and goes! We’re all just here in the same boat, doing our best and trying to eat more vegetables. I have faith in us, this will be a good season.

To Be Continued…

January 4, 2019

This year I discovered a new tool; To encourage people and myself to think of three ways to phrase something before blurting it out. Its benefits are three-fold:

1. It gives you the opportunity to say something more clearly or kindly.
2. You sound very wise when you pass on this knowledge.
3. You get to peruse a shockingly large list of adjectives you didn’t know you knew!

The last one always makes me think of the Ramona Quimby books I read as a child. I distinctly remember Ramona (age eight, I believe) sitting in school and her teacher admonishing them all “There is always a better word than ‘stuff’.” I feel a slight twinge to do better every time the word “stuff” comes out of my mouth. Amazing what sticks with you from your childhood, isn’t’ it?

A fun fact I stumbled upon entirely by accident was that Beverly Cleary, the author of the aforementioned books, used to live in Portland, OR. I began taking Aerial Silks classes in December and as the days lined up, Thursdays I would get off work around 5:00 pm in the central, East side of Portland, and have two hours to kill until my class started at 7:00 pm. It wasn’t worth it to drive home across the river and through traffic and so I randomly chose the closest, Multnomah county library, which happened to be the library in the neighborhood that Beverly Cleary used to live in, and they have maps of her walking route and hangouts.

Perhaps when the sun is up past 5:00 pm I’ll grab a map and walk that route while reminiscing, but currently, the sun has already said goodnight when I get there and the dark this far North-West is very uninviting for an evening stroll.

These last few months have been a blur, in December, I took a weekend and drove up to see Sadie in Seattle. “Sadie in Seattle” has a bit of a ring to it, no? She bought us tickets to the Can-Can Cabaret that is Seattle’s underground burlesque show in Pikes Place Market. We did up our hair, called an Uber which dropped us out front and headed down the stairs and inside to a room with a small stage and a low ceiling with unfinished wooden beams.

The atmosphere was very rustic but upscale. The hostess complimented my tower of hair and showed us to our table where I ordered a Death in the Afternoon and bounced excitedly in my seat.

The show was amazing, it was equal parts comedy and burlesque and we laughed so hard I think champagne and absinthe came out my nose a little. At one point they dragged a very unlucky man who was there with his fiance and her parents up on stage with the promise of “You never really know a man until he’s on stage with five very aggressive strippers.” They were not wrong. If you’re ever in Seattle I cannot recommend The Can Can Cabaret enough, you will laugh, you will be awed, you will snort champagne and not care.

We went to dinner after at this ritzy French place called Place Pigalle where our table overlooked the Puget Sound. We were both a little toasted already and our waiter was far too serious for the occasion, he used eloquent words about the specials, an extra flourish as he poured my wine, and he re-folded Sadies napkin into a fancy point that sat up all on its own when she stepped away to the restroom. The face she made when she returned almost caused me to spit out my $43.00 bouillabaisse. Afterward, we took some very “staged” photo’s by Seattle’s famous “gum wall”, which is a disgusting piece of art to behold, and then called an Uber home.

I said goodbye the next day after Pedro, Sadies partner, made us the best breakfast burritos of my life, and I spent 4 hours white-knuckling the steering wheel through the torrential downpour on I5, all the way home.

To catch you up on the happenings since the new year, I received a special package in the mail from Tori, weeks after she had sent it. It was Julia Childs cookbook and when I sent her a picture of the package she replied: “That is not the package I sent it in.” If it could talk I would LOVE to hear the story of what happened that caused it to be delivered weeks late and in a different package, what a tale that must be.

Come the beginning of this year Tony and I decided to really hone in on what we wanted Cleaver Cooking to bring to the table. The conclusion we came to is that we wanted to create a recipe website without the bullshit, where you don’t have to scroll through pages of someone rambling on and multiple styled photos of the same thing before you ever get to the recipe. It meant that every recipe needed to be valuable, easy to make, all questions answered, and we wanted to make our website so simple to use you don’t even have to think about it.

This, in turn, began a two-month stint of remodeling the website which went about like this: “Let’s change that, put a picture here, and make this button green.” Tony would make one change, hit update, and suddenly there would be lines of code running across the home page or a picture would be lopped off randomly and for no reason. Web design is no joke, there was much gnashing of teeth, late nights, and plenty of weekends where we were at our wits-end with glazed-over eyes, and living off a diet of tuna sandwiches and frozen pizza. We finally finished, launched full-scale videos, and are both so, so glad to be back to creating content!

In other news, I decided to give Imperfect Produce a try. I LOVE IT! Especially customizing my box and getting excited for what is coming. I fully expect to stay on the train for a few months, then fall off it, then get back on, etc. Isn’t that the rhythm in which we all live our lives? Much like a diet, exercise, socializing, binge-watching a show, visiting your family, waistlines, dress-sizes, it all comes and goes! We’re all just here in the same boat, doing our best and trying to eat more vegetables. I have faith in us, this will be a good season.

To Be Continued…

A Bag of Bananas & a Bottle of Tamari

December 17, 2018

The month of December was a special time in my professional life. Let’s just be real here, I currently run a small kitchen program out of one of the more “well-to-do” coffee shops in PDX. We poach eggs, toast the toast, whack pits out of avocados with vigor and then carefully shingle, and sometimes shmear, the lovely green fruit onto toast and sell it for $10 a pop. And the locals can’t get enough of it, it’s fascinating to watch.

When I came on in September I was briefed of a second location opening near the Nines hotel smack in the middle of Downtown Portland. I spent December running around, contacting vendors, creating spreadsheets, costing out new menu items and shooting nasty looks at anyone who appeared to be enjoying the holiday season.

Monday, December 17th at 5:00 am found me low on sleep, driving in the dark, rainy morning to the shop to start prepping food for the new location. We were set to open in two days and my plan to set up the kitchen at the new space in the morning had been bumped by last-minute construction.

I turned the key the other manager had given me, pulled open the door and was immediately greeted by a shrieking alarm. At that moment I knew it was going to be a very bad Monday. No one had thought to brief me about the alarm and I hadn’t thought to ask. I began calling every coworker unfortunate enough to have given me their number until someone finally woke up and gave me the code.

I rubbed my eyes and stumbled around the counter where I realized I had beaten the barista in and I didn’t know where anything was to brew the coffee. I poked around the pristine coffee area for awhile knocking things over and trying to find the beans. Eventually, someone arrived, took in the situation at a glance and sent me back to my area to whip some cream cheese into submission while they brewed the life juice.

I went home at 11:00 am and went on a quick run to clear my head during a blessed break in the rain. An hour later I was out of the shower and my phone began to buzz incessantly about metro shelving sizes and could I pick them up on my way over. I responded to messages while pulling on my socks and complaining to Tony about the whole situation before shrugging into my raincoat and headed back out into the dismal day.

My produce vendor was supposed to deliver a large order of, well… everything to the new location that morning. However, due to the delayed construction going on they’d had to deliver all the produce to the current location, leaving me to haul all of it over in my little Toyota.

I picked up Dean, one of the other managers who sports a very well-kept, handlebar mustache, packed the car to the gills with produce, and drove downtown to find the loading zone near the new shop was full. I drove around for 20 minutes and finally found parking three blocks away. I recruited a few people and we began hauling the produce through the rain.

The car in the loading zone finally moved and I ran like the dickens to squeeze into the spot before someone else sniped it. Finally, all the produce was unloaded, if not a bit waterlogged, and I drove off to find more permanent parking. It was a busy day downtown and I pulled into the first parking garage I saw.

It was 3:00 pm, I was feeling behind and had the entire kitchen to set up still looming ahead. I scurried out of the garage to street level, glanced at the street sign which read “Broadway” and in smaller letters underneath “600,” plugged the new cafe location into my GPS and walked about 10 minutes to it at a brisk pace.

Skipping ahead to 8:30 pm, the kitchen is set up, I am exhausted and wave goodbye to everyone. I gathered up a brown paper bag of twenty ripe bananas, a bottle of tamari that was supposed to stay at the original location, and an herb case still in its box that needed to be returned to the restaurant supply store. I donned my raincoat and stepped outside. I plugged broadway and 6th into my phone and began to walk…

I arrived at the cross streets after about 10 minutes to find no parking garage in sight. My phone was on 8% battery and the bright, white light mocked me as I realized I had no idea where my car was. I knew Broadway had been a cross street so I picked a direction on Broadway and began to walk. I walked to 1200, wandering in and out of parking garages that weren’t the right ones, and then walked back down Broadway the other direction. My phone died and the expensive herb case that needed returning was getting soaked.

I walked all the way to 300 searching up and down side streets in vain. I had spent next to no time downtown before that day and had no sense of direction or a clue as to where I was. Everything looked familiar and I couldn’t tell if I had seen that bench on my walk from the garage or during my earlier parking escapades while unloading produce.

I weighed my limited options and headed back to the cafe, which I found by some small miracle. I plugged my phone into the iPad charger and sat on the floor miserably waiting for it to come back to life while Dean, the mustache wearer and the only one remaining at the cafe, patiently drank a bottle of sparkling water and tinkered with the settings on the coffee brewer trying to get it ready for opening day. Dean was getting home by bus and could do little to help but offer some words of sympathy so we sat in silence, me, dean, the bag of bananas and the bottle of tamari.

The phone glowed to life again and I let Tony know about the situation. He began researching parking garages and sent a slew of them my way to look at. I looked through them and picked one that looked like the entrance I remembered and was about the right distance away.

I ditched the herb case, gathered up the bag of bananas and perched the bottle of tamari on top. I plugged the garage coordinates into my phone which had a promising 20% battery at this point.

Off I set, only to find that my phone was so cold the GPS was stalling and I had been walking in the wrong direction for the past four blocks. I shook the cold, slippery phone, zoomed out and tried to get my bearings. Then I set off at a brisk clip turning the phone every which way willing it to work. Meanwhile, the paper bag that held the bananas was about soaked through and had started to disintegrate.

Right as I came to a crosswalk I checked the directions again and the shift of my weight caused the bottle of tamari to roll out the side of the disappearing bag and it shattered onto the sidewalk where the dark, salty sauce mixed with the damnable rain. I gathered up the bits of glass and carried them two blocks until I found a trash can to toss them in. I adjusted the wet bag and realized my hand was bleeding all over the bananas. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to scream or just weep incessantly into what remained of the bag.

But since neither of those would have been much use and “Mama didn’t raise an entire fool” I left the shattered bottle behind and marched to the garage. I walked up and found the gate pulled down over the entrance, the garage had closed at 9:00 pm and it was going on 10:00. I set the soggy bag of bananas down with a wet, dull thud, examined my bleeding hand, and checked the fares on Lyft and Uber, both of which were $40. I called Tony to come to get me and stood miserably under the garage overhang spitting mad.

Time passed, people walked by, I stood stoically by my banana bag and began fiddling with the edge of a paper in the little compartment on my cell phone case where I keep my credit cards. Tony was about 5 minutes away when I realized what I was picking at.. I pulled the paper out and it was my parking stub with the garage address listed in neat print, nearly a mile away. Normally, I leave those in my car so there is no way I can forget it when I need it to exit the garage. Ha. Ha. Ha…

Tony arrived bringing the role of paper towels I had requested and Muggsy, who stood in the backseat, her little tail thumping the glass. I shoved my hand into a wad of paper towels, tossed the bag of bananas into the floorboard and Tony drove me to the garage where I paid a whopping $20 to retrieve my car and then sped towards home on the vacant highway.

I don’t recall much else of that evening or the rest of opening week for that matter. But eventually the shop opened, life went back to normal, as it always does, and Christmas and New Years clicked past. My friend, I hope this story made you laugh, shake your head, and determine to never leave me in charge of parking the car.

To Be Continued…

December 17, 2018

The month of December was a special time in my professional life. Let’s just be real here, I currently run a small kitchen program out of one of the more “well-to-do” coffee shops in PDX. We poach eggs, toast the toast, whack pits out of avocados with vigor and then carefully shingle, and sometimes shmear, the lovely green fruit onto toast and sell it for $10 a pop. And the locals can’t get enough of it, it’s fascinating to watch.

When I came on in September I was briefed of a second location opening near the Nines hotel smack in the middle of Downtown Portland. I spent December running around, contacting vendors, creating spreadsheets, costing out new menu items and shooting nasty looks at anyone who appeared to be enjoying the holiday season.

Monday, December 17th at 5:00 am found me low on sleep, driving in the dark, rainy morning to the shop to start prepping food for the new location. We were set to open in two days and my plan to set up the kitchen at the new space in the morning had been bumped by last-minute construction.

I turned the key the other manager had given me, pulled open the door and was immediately greeted by a shrieking alarm. At that moment I knew it was going to be a very bad Monday. No one had thought to brief me about the alarm and I hadn’t thought to ask. I began calling every coworker unfortunate enough to have given me their number until someone finally woke up and gave me the code.

I rubbed my eyes and stumbled around the counter where I realized I had beaten the barista in and I didn’t know where anything was to brew the coffee. I poked around the pristine coffee area for awhile knocking things over and trying to find the beans. Eventually, someone arrived, took in the situation at a glance and sent me back to my area to whip some cream cheese into submission while they brewed the life juice.

I went home at 11:00 am and went on a quick run to clear my head during a blessed break in the rain. An hour later I was out of the shower and my phone began to buzz incessantly about metro shelving sizes and could I pick them up on my way over. I responded to messages while pulling on my socks and complaining to Tony about the whole situation before shrugging into my raincoat and headed back out into the dismal day.

My produce vendor was supposed to deliver a large order of, well… everything to the new location that morning. However, due to the delayed construction going on they’d had to deliver all the produce to the current location, leaving me to haul all of it over in my little Toyota.

I picked up Dean, one of the other managers who sports a very well-kept, handlebar mustache, packed the car to the gills with produce, and drove downtown to find the loading zone near the new shop was full. I drove around for 20 minutes and finally found parking three blocks away. I recruited a few people and we began hauling the produce through the rain.

The car in the loading zone finally moved and I ran like the dickens to squeeze into the spot before someone else sniped it. Finally, all the produce was unloaded, if not a bit waterlogged, and I drove off to find more permanent parking. It was a busy day downtown and I pulled into the first parking garage I saw.

It was 3:00 pm, I was feeling behind and had the entire kitchen to set up still looming ahead. I scurried out of the garage to street level, glanced at the street sign which read “Broadway” and in smaller letters underneath “600,” plugged the new cafe location into my GPS and walked about 10 minutes to it at a brisk pace.

Skipping ahead to 8:30 pm, the kitchen is set up, I am exhausted and wave goodbye to everyone. I gathered up a brown paper bag of twenty ripe bananas, a bottle of tamari that was supposed to stay at the original location, and an herb case still in its box that needed to be returned to the restaurant supply store. I donned my raincoat and stepped outside. I plugged broadway and 6th into my phone and began to walk…

I arrived at the cross streets after about 10 minutes to find no parking garage in sight. My phone was on 8% battery and the bright, white light mocked me as I realized I had no idea where my car was. I knew Broadway had been a cross street so I picked a direction on Broadway and began to walk. I walked to 1200, wandering in and out of parking garages that weren’t the right ones, and then walked back down Broadway the other direction. My phone died and the expensive herb case that needed returning was getting soaked.

I walked all the way to 300 searching up and down side streets in vain. I had spent next to no time downtown before that day and had no sense of direction or a clue as to where I was. Everything looked familiar and I couldn’t tell if I had seen that bench on my walk from the garage or during my earlier parking escapades while unloading produce.

I weighed my limited options and headed back to the cafe, which I found by some small miracle. I plugged my phone into the iPad charger and sat on the floor miserably waiting for it to come back to life while Dean, the mustache wearer and the only one remaining at the cafe, patiently drank a bottle of sparkling water and tinkered with the settings on the coffee brewer trying to get it ready for opening day. Dean was getting home by bus and could do little to help but offer some words of sympathy so we sat in silence, me, dean, the bag of bananas and the bottle of tamari.

The phone glowed to life again and I let Tony know about the situation. He began researching parking garages and sent a slew of them my way to look at. I looked through them and picked one that looked like the entrance I remembered and was about the right distance away.

I ditched the herb case, gathered up the bag of bananas and perched the bottle of tamari on top. I plugged the garage coordinates into my phone which had a promising 20% battery at this point.

Off I set, only to find that my phone was so cold the GPS was stalling and I had been walking in the wrong direction for the past four blocks. I shook the cold, slippery phone, zoomed out and tried to get my bearings. Then I set off at a brisk clip turning the phone every which way willing it to work. Meanwhile, the paper bag that held the bananas was about soaked through and had started to disintegrate.

Right as I came to a crosswalk I checked the directions again and the shift of my weight caused the bottle of tamari to roll out the side of the disappearing bag and it shattered onto the sidewalk where the dark, salty sauce mixed with the damnable rain. I gathered up the bits of glass and carried them two blocks until I found a trash can to toss them in. I adjusted the wet bag and realized my hand was bleeding all over the bananas. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to scream or just weep incessantly into what remained of the bag.

But since neither of those would have been much use and “Mama didn’t raise an entire fool” I left the shattered bottle behind and marched to the garage. I walked up and found the gate pulled down over the entrance, the garage had closed at 9:00 pm and it was going on 10:00. I set the soggy bag of bananas down with a wet, dull thud, examined my bleeding hand, and checked the fares on Lyft and Uber, both of which were $40. I called Tony to come to get me and stood miserably under the garage overhang spitting mad.

Time passed, people walked by, I stood stoically by my banana bag and began fiddling with the edge of a paper in the little compartment on my cell phone case where I keep my credit cards. Tony was about 5 minutes away when I realized what I was picking at.. I pulled the paper out and it was my parking stub with the garage address listed in neat print, nearly a mile away. Normally, I leave those in my car so there is no way I can forget it when I need it to exit the garage. Ha. Ha. Ha…

Tony arrived bringing the role of paper towels I had requested and Muggsy, who stood in the backseat, her little tail thumping the glass. I shoved my hand into a wad of paper towels, tossed the bag of bananas into the floorboard and Tony drove me to the garage where I paid a whopping $20 to retrieve my car and then sped towards home on the vacant highway.

I don’t recall much else of that evening or the rest of opening week for that matter. But eventually the shop opened, life went back to normal, as it always does, and Christmas and New Years clicked past. My friend, I hope this story made you laugh, shake your head, and determine to never leave me in charge of parking the car.

To Be Continued…

The House, the Dogs, and the Cars

November 2, 2018

If you don’t know what Petfinder is, it is someones brilliant creation of an app that allows dog shelters to put up their adoptable dogs with a bio, their picture, and a bit of info about them. Think of it like an online dating site that you scroll through from your bed on a Saturday morning and totally fall in love with the idea of someone.
 

I discovered Petfinder in Maine and began looking at dogs in Oregon months before we were going to move here. (I see the realization dawning in your eyes) Tony and I would sit in bed on the weekends, with our coffee, and look at dogs and imagine our beautiful and perfect life with a new fur-baby.

Let me just unpack this for you in a neat paragraph – I fell totally in love with this giant, 140lb, slobbery, Neapolitan Mastiff that was rescued from abuse. He lived four hours away from us in Washington and we (I) decided we had to go see him the first week we were in Portland to be sure no one else adopted him.

The House:

Allow me to relay to you what that first week looked like for us. I was still coming off whatever illness I’d contracted on the road, we had an air mattress for a bed, a couch we’d found the first day and absolutely no other furniture. The internet needed to be set up by the end of the week so Tony could begin work again, a desk needed to be bought for him to work on, the rest of the house needed to be furnished, unpacked, and ready to accept a large dog in case he came home with us. Amidst all this, I had two working job interviews set up that week. Why wouldn’t we adopt the worlds largest dog in the middle of all this?

As I write this, I’m internally laughing at myself in a “What WERE you thinking?” sort of way. But my oblivious and determined self-continued to blow her nose every two minutes while unpacking boxes, getting lost on the way to thrift stores, dragging home heavy furniture and scrubbing it down, and then heading off to her working interview at a busy cafe on Labor Day. The cortisol levels were off the charts, my friends.

The Dog:

Saturday, September 8th rolled around and after a four-hour drive, we arrived in Washington at 11:00 am and Fausto was brought out to meet us. A lumbering, slobbery, giant of a dog. He was an extremely intelligent, playful fellow and spent a good part of the meeting chewing a tennis ball until it gave up with a squeak and a bang and deflated. We had to pry it out of his mouth and hide it to keep him from ingesting it. We decided to give it a go and we signed the papers and loaded him into the big Suburban for the long drive back to Portland, leaving the deflated tennis ball behind.

To sum up, the very long week that followed: I loved Fausto, he was a big sweetheart. But his past of former abuse and his size made controlling him difficult and he began to get extremely territorial when people/kids/dogs would walk past our yard. He did well with me, but we think he was abused by a man and he would act out towards Tony. At the end of a week, neither of us felt confident controlling him and while I think with training he will be a great dog he needs a different’ environment than our high-traffic home to learn in and perhaps a female only owner. I loaded up the big goof and drove him back where he’s being loved and cared for until they can find the right fit for him.

The Second Dog:

We both decided we should wait awhile and get settled in before we tried to find another dog. A week rolled by and guess who I found in bed on a Saturday morning looking at dogs in the local shelters? Yes, I would have guessed myself too but actually, it was Tony.

We visited several shelters that day and ended up going to another on Sunday. We went specifically to visit a dog named Atlas we’d seen on their website, but after talking with the staff about what we were looking for they recommended we meet Thor and Ellen instead. Thor was about 50lb’s and went freakishly running after bicycles on our walk and overall was a very energetic, sweet boy that I just didn’t feel a connection with.Then they brought out Ellen, a one-year-old, 40lb, white pit bull mix with only one eye. They brought her into the room to meet us and she went straight to Tony, tail wagging, hopped into his lap and began giving him kisses. Right that second I knew that puppy was coming home with us. She was a timid little thing and had her eye surgically removed recently due to it’s bulging.

We signed the papers, had the landlords called to OK a pitbull on the property, and then she rode on my lap all the way home. We named her Muggsy and she has been an absolute delight. She’s really come out of her shell, and thanks to Tony working with her daily, she will now sit, lay down, high-five, and has responded to Tony’s leash training so well that she’ll follow him around the yard, with no leash, on his left side, turning, stopping and walking with him on command.

The Car:

Backing up a bit to the first few weeks we had Muggsy and my first few weeks of work. I’d taken a job as the kitchen manager of a cafe near downtown. It’s a lovely part of the city, a mix of residential, restaurants, bars, and food carts, and it’s typically buzzing with people, dogs, and bicycles. I was driving the Suburban to work every day while Tony worked from home as has been our custom since a year ago when we sold Wanda the Honda in New Orleans.

After a few weeks of this Tony mentioned that he wanted to get a second car again that would be more fuel efficient for my commute and be a car for him to use while I was gone. I couldn’t possibly fathom doing anything outside the basic necessities right at that point in time but getting more than 12 miles to the gallon sounded great so I said: “Yes, great, let me know what you find.”

I really got on board with getting a smaller car when, one early morning, I fudged a parallel parking job on a tiny street near work, and cracked the taillight and bumper of a parked Jeep. I left a note and fortunately the matter was easily resolved with my insurance covering the mishap. I’ll just be over here waiting for my rates to go up in the meantime.Less than a week later, Tony found a 1987 Honda CRX for $500 in Bend, Oregon which is about 3 ½ hours drive from us. The car ran but the interior was trashed, it was a manual, and needed some serious TLC. I was skeptical of a $500 car running at all, but Tony has worked some magic on cars before. So come Saturday morning we loaded Muggsy into the Suburban and drove three hours to go look at the Honda. Bend had been on our list of places to visit anyways, although we were envisioning the trip to be more of a “Hike a cool trail and then get a beer somewhere” type of day.

We got to Bend around 1:00 pm and the guy selling the car wanted to meet in the Costco parking lot, on a Saturday, at 1:00 pm. That should have been our first clue that this was a bad idea. Cars and people everywhere, the sun beating down, both of us hungry and trying to find a parking spot. John Doe, as we shall call him, had texted Tony the day before asking the likelihood of his buying the car as it was his commuter, and he would need to buy another when this one sold. Tony replied as long as there wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with it he was likely going to take it.

I let Muggsy out and took her to find a patch of grass somewhere while Tony took the car for a test drive. It had a really great engine, and with a little, more work could be resold for a lot more at a later time if need be so he decided to buy it, while I corraled a stressed-out Muggsy away from everyone and eyed the carts full of groceries to see if anyone was sporting a signature Costco chocolate cake I could take off their hands.

Now, The craigslist ad for the car had said “Clean title” so when John Doe brought out the title to sign it over, it was quite surprising when he also brought out two pieces of scratch paper and mumblingly explained how his name wasn’t on the title, but he had a paper trail to show the bill of sale.

We should have turned and walked away right then. When we arrived, John Doe informed us he had used his rent money to buy another car. This should have been of no concern to us but this on top of our tired mental states and having driven three hours to get this car caused Tony to sign another piece of scrap paper, and take the keys to the car.We then went and got a pizza and spent a not very relaxing hour in a nearby park eating it while poor, stressed Muggsy barked and ran at every dog that went by. Post-pizza I took Muggsy in the Suburban and Tony took our fine specimen of a new car and we started the long drive back home. The muffler that had been purchased for the Honda was purposefully loud and Tony was about crazed by the sound by the time we pulled into a rest stop an hour outside of Portland.

We got home feeling a bit surly, grabbed a beer, and then re-examined the title. It was a mess. The last person to own it had sold it to someone in California and there were two different names of the person it was sold to. The car had then been sold twice after that with no change of title, and only scraps of paper with “I _______ sell this car to ________ on the date ____” to stand in its place. You get the idea.

So at this point, we’re just hoping this car isn’t stolen. We ran it’s VIN and nothing came up. After some additional research, we discovered for this situation you need a bonded title which you cannot obtain in Oregon. So back on craigslist this car goes where Tony explains the full situation and someone in Washington, where you can obtain a bonded title, came down to buy it a week later.

We said goodbye happily and both swore that we will never drive four hours to buy anything again, be it cars, dogs, or god knows what else.

The Second Car:

The car hunt continued the following week and we ended up slightly North of Portland looking at a Toyota Corolla on a rainy day. The Toyota wouldn’t start and had been sitting in this gals driveway for six months. So we backed the Suburban onto their muddy lawn and jumped it. The car ran for a few minutes and then died when they turned the lights on. Tony liked the sound of the engine though so we drove to O’Rielly’s and bought a new battery for it, came back and found they had given us the wrong battery.Back to O’Rielly’s we went, procured the right battery, installed it, and the car came to life. It needed a new wheel bearing and hub, the whole car, inside and out, needed a desperate cleaning, the drivers door wouldn’t open from the inside so you had to roll down the window and open it to let yourself out, and the piece where the window buttons are had cracked and fallen into the door cavity and the passengers side window button would roll the window down but not back up.

Well, we bought the car (Shocking, I know), drove it home, and spent twelve hours the next day cleaning it and fighting with the wheel bearing which took another three trips to auto parts stores and ended at 11:00 pm with me holding a flashlight while Tony manually put the hub and bearing in, a procedure which is normally done with a hydraulic press. The car is now fixed

In Conclusion…

I’ve learned a lot these past few months. If I had a chance to do things differently, sure there’s plenty of opportunity for making smarter choices. But I will never be sorry that I took a chance on a 140lb dog, moved across the country, drove three hours to look at a crappy car (Take one from me and check that title before you buy), furnished a house solely with thrift store acquisitions. I will always be an advocate for trading comfort for experiences. I’d rather say “Oh well” than “What if?” 

To Be Continued…

November 2, 2018

If you don’t know what Petfinder is, it is someones brilliant creation of an app that allows dog shelters to put up their adoptable dogs with a bio, their picture, and a bit of info about them. Think of it like an online dating site that you scroll through from your bed on a Saturday morning and totally fall in love with the idea of someone.

I discovered Petfinder in Maine and began looking at dogs in Oregon months before we were going to move here. (I see the realization dawning in your eyes) Tony and I would sit in bed on the weekends, with our coffee, and look at dogs and imagine our beautiful and perfect life with a new fur-baby.

Let me just unpack this for you in a neat paragraph – I fell totally in love with this giant, 140lb, slobbery, Neapolitan Mastiff that was rescued from abuse. He lived four hours away from us in Washington and we (I) decided we had to go see him the first week we were in Portland to be sure no one else adopted him.

The House:

Allow me to relay to you what that first week looked like for us. I was still coming off whatever illness I’d contracted on the road, we had an air mattress for a bed, a couch we’d found the first day and absolutely no other furniture. The internet needed to be set up by the end of the week so Tony could begin work again, a desk needed to be bought for him to work on, the rest of the house needed to be furnished, unpacked, and ready to accept a large dog in case he came home with us. Amidst all this, I had two working job interviews set up that week. Why wouldn’t we adopt the worlds largest dog in the middle of all this?

As I write this, I’m internally laughing at myself in a “What WERE you thinking?” sort of way. But my oblivious and determined self-continued to blow her nose every two minutes while unpacking boxes, getting lost on the way to thrift stores, dragging home heavy furniture and scrubbing it down, and then heading off to her working interview at a busy cafe on Labor Day. The cortisol levels were off the charts, my friends.

The Dog:

Saturday, September 8th rolled around and after a four-hour drive, we arrived in Washington at 11:00 am and Fausto was brought out to meet us. A lumbering, slobbery, giant of a dog. He was an extremely intelligent, playful fellow and spent a good part of the meeting chewing a tennis ball until it gave up with a squeak and a bang and deflated. We had to pry it out of his mouth and hide it to keep him from ingesting it. We decided to give it a go and we signed the papers and loaded him into the big Suburban for the long drive back to Portland, leaving the deflated tennis ball behind.

To sum up, the very long week that followed: I loved Fausto, he was a big sweetheart. But his past of former abuse and his size made controlling him difficult and he began to get extremely territorial when people/kids/dogs would walk past our yard. He did well with me, but we think he was abused by a man and he would act out towards Tony. At the end of a week, neither of us felt confident controlling him and while I think with training he will be a great dog he needs a different’ environment than our high-traffic home to learn in and perhaps a female only owner. I loaded up the big goof and drove him back where he’s being loved and cared for until they can find the right fit for him.

The Second Dog:

We both decided we should wait awhile and get settled in before we tried to find another dog. A week rolled by and guess who I found in bed on a Saturday morning looking at dogs in the local shelters? Yes, I would have guessed myself too but actually, it was Tony.

We visited several shelters that day and ended up going to another on Sunday. We went specifically to visit a dog named Atlas we’d seen on their website, but after talking with the staff about what we were looking for they recommended we meet Thor and Ellen instead. Thor was about 50lb’s and went freakishly running after bicycles on our walk and overall was a very energetic, sweet boy that I just didn’t feel a connection with.

Then they brought out Ellen, a one-year-old, 40lb, white pit bull mix with only one eye. They brought her into the room to meet us and she went straight to Tony, tail wagging, hopped into his lap and began giving him kisses. Right that second I knew that puppy was coming home with us. She was a timid little thing and had her eye surgically removed recently due to it’s bulging.

We signed the papers, had the landlords called to OK a pitbull on the property, and then she rode on my lap all the way home. We named her Muggsy and she has been an absolute delight. She’s really come out of her shell, and thanks to Tony working with her daily, she will now sit, lay down, high-five, and has responded to Tony’s leash training so well that she’ll follow him around the yard, with no leash, on his left side, turning, stopping and walking with him on command.

The Car:

Backing up a bit to the first few weeks we had Muggsy and my first few weeks of work. I’d taken a job as the kitchen manager of a cafe near downtown. It’s a lovely part of the city, a mix of residential, restaurants, bars, and food carts, and it’s typically buzzing with people, dogs, and bicycles. I was driving the Suburban to work every day while Tony worked from home as has been our custom since a year ago when we sold Wanda the Honda in New Orleans.

After a few weeks of this Tony mentioned that he wanted to get a second car again that would be more fuel efficient for my commute and be a car for him to use while I was gone. I couldn’t possibly fathom doing anything outside the basic necessities right at that point in time but getting more than 12 miles to the gallon sounded great so I said: “Yes, great, let me know what you find.”

I really got on board with getting a smaller car when, one early morning, I fudged a parallel parking job on a tiny street near work, and cracked the taillight and bumper of a parked Jeep. I left a note and fortunately the matter was easily resolved with my insurance covering the mishap. I’ll just be over here waiting for my rates to go up in the meantime.

Less than a week later, Tony found a 1987 Honda CRX for $500 in Bend, Oregon which is about 3 ½ hours drive from us. The car ran but the interior was trashed, it was a manual, and needed some serious TLC. I was skeptical of a $500 car running at all, but Tony has worked some magic on cars before. So come Saturday morning we loaded Muggsy into the Suburban and drove three hours to go look at the Honda. Bend had been on our list of places to visit anyways, although we were envisioning the trip to be more of a “Hike a cool trail and then get a beer somewhere” type of day.

We got to Bend around 1:00 pm and the guy selling the car wanted to meet in the Costco parking lot, on a Saturday, at 1:00 pm. That should have been our first clue that this was a bad idea. Cars and people everywhere, the sun beating down, both of us hungry and trying to find a parking spot. John Doe, as we shall call him, had texted Tony the day before asking the likelihood of his buying the car as it was his commuter, and he would need to buy another when this one sold. Tony replied as long as there wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with it he was likely going to take it.

I let Muggsy out and took her to find a patch of grass somewhere while Tony took the car for a test drive. It had a really great engine, and with a little, more work could be resold for a lot more at a later time if need be so he decided to buy it, while I corraled a stressed-out Muggsy away from everyone and eyed the carts full of groceries to see if anyone was sporting a signature Costco chocolate cake I could take off their hands.

Now, The craigslist ad for the car had said “Clean title” so when John Doe brought out the title to sign it over, it was quite surprising when he also brought out two pieces of scratch paper and mumblingly explained how his name wasn’t on the title, but he had a paper trail to show the bill of sale.

We should have turned and walked away right then. When we arrived, John Doe informed us he had used his rent money to buy another car. This should have been of no concern to us but this on top of our tired mental states and having driven three hours to get this car caused Tony to sign another piece of scrap paper, and take the keys to the car.

We then went and got a pizza and spent a not very relaxing hour in a nearby park eating it while poor, stressed Muggsy barked and ran at every dog that went by. Post-pizza I took Muggsy in the Suburban and Tony took our fine specimen of a new car and we started the long drive back home. The muffler that had been purchased for the Honda was purposefully loud and Tony was about crazed by the sound by the time we pulled into a rest stop an hour outside of Portland.

We got home feeling a bit surly, grabbed a beer, and then re-examined the title. It was a mess. The last person to own it had sold it to someone in California and there were two different names of the person it was sold to. The car had then been sold twice after that with no change of title, and only scraps of paper with “I _______ sell this car to ________ on the date ____” to stand in its place. You get the idea.

So at this point, we’re just hoping this car isn’t stolen. We ran it’s VIN and nothing came up. After some additional research, we discovered for this situation you need a bonded title which you cannot obtain in Oregon. So back on craigslist this car goes where Tony explains the full situation and someone in Washington, where you can obtain a bonded title, came down to buy it a week later.

We said goodbye happily and both swore that we will never drive four hours to buy anything again, be it cars, dogs, or god knows what else.

The Second Car:

The car hunt continued the following week and we ended up slightly North of Portland looking at a Toyota Corolla on a rainy day. The Toyota wouldn’t start and had been sitting in this gals driveway for six months. So we backed the Suburban onto their muddy lawn and jumped it. The car ran for a few minutes and then died when they turned the lights on. Tony liked the sound of the engine though so we drove to O’Rielly’s and bought a new battery for it, came back and found they had given us the wrong battery.

Back to O’Rielly’s we went, procured the right battery, installed it, and the car came to life. It needed a new wheel bearing and hub, the whole car, inside and out, needed a desperate cleaning, the drivers door wouldn’t open from the inside so you had to roll down the window and open it to let yourself out, and the piece where the window buttons are had cracked and fallen into the door cavity and the passengers side window button would roll the window down but not back up.

Well, we bought the car (Shocking, I know), drove it home, and spent twelve hours the next day cleaning it and fighting with the wheel bearing which took another three trips to auto parts stores and ended at 11:00 pm with me holding a flashlight while Tony manually put the hub and bearing in, a procedure which is normally done with a hydraulic press. The car is now fixed

In Conclusion…

I’ve learned a lot these past few months. If I had a chance to do things differently, sure there’s plenty of opportunity for making smarter choices. But I will never be sorry that I took a chance on a 140lb dog, moved across the country, drove three hours to look at a crappy car (Take one from me and check that title before you buy), furnished a house solely with thrift store acquisitions. I will always be an advocate for trading comfort for experiences. I’d rather say “Oh well” than “What if?”

To Be Continued…

Portland to Portland

October 19, 2018

Hello friends! I feel like I’m slowly coming back to the land of the living (AKA, the world online) after the last two months of craziness. And once I surface through all the facebook bog of politics, opinions, and pumpkin spice everything, I’m so glad to be back here and catching up with you.

Gosh, what a ride… The last a lot of you knew we were totally in love with Maine. There was ocean air, I had a job I loved, made some amazing friends, we were hiking and picking blueberries, it really was the perfect summer.

We still LOVE Maine and had planned to stay there for a year. But shortly after our last Nutshell update, my boss held a meeting to let us know he was selling the restaurant in August. The atmosphere was not the same and one by one the staff gave their notice and moved on. Following this news was a few unexpected things concerning Tony’s job as well. We both did some research and ended up at the conclusion that Portland, Oregon offered a lot more opportunity job wise for both of us, better skiing for Tony, and a milder climate for the winter.

That decided it and come August we began to pack our bags again amidst a constant state of mild panic as we looked for housing in a city that was 3,000 miles away with a 3% vacancy rate, and I sent out twenty-five resumes and pondered what it might be like to live somewhere for a whole year.Sadie and Tori came to visit mid-August with their partners and we spent a glorious few days taking in all Maine has to offer. We got donuts from The Holy Donut and ate them on the rocks at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth overlooking the ocean, we went to breweries, we sat on the beach and played in the waves, we ate waaaay too many oysters at Eventide, had frites and housemade sodas at Duckfat, and got breakfast at Rover Bagel almost every day. We rounded out the trip with a drive down to Boston to see the Book of Mormon and the Harvard Arboretum, which required six of us squeeze into the five seats in the suburban, and blare music for the whole trip. It was an experience to remember. And of course there was lobster – The best lobster rolls from Bite into Maine and a live steamer from Scarborough Lobster.

Then the trip was over and they said goodbye and flew back to Seattle and Colorado, and I turned to face the ever-pleasant task of packing up my kitchen for the fourth time in thirteen months. You’d think I’d have it down to a science at this point and just breeze right on through, but in fact, it still takes hours, lots of complaining, and multiple gin and tonics to get the job done. Se la vie.We drove out on August 25th, we detoured to Niagra Falls, looking out over the falls was like waking up as a six-year-old on Christmas morning with that sense of wonder you so rarely get as an adult. Then we drove on, stopping in Kansas City and Colorado on the way up. Some 3,000 miles and a broken AC in the middle of Missouri on a 100-degree day later, we arrived in Portland, Oregon on September 1st crossing our fingers that we hadn’t signed a lease on a total melon of a house.

One of our landlords, Andrew, was there to meet us. A jovial man that gave us a grin and a big wave as we pulled up. We hopped out and he introduced himself in a lovely accent either of British or Australian nature and proceeded to explain how Roberta, his other half, was in Hawaii this week and had admonished him that he was to get to the house early and finish cleaning the grout along the tub, which of course, had not happened and we all came to the mutual conclusion that none of us really cared about the grout which was in fact, already some of the cleanest grout I’ve ever seen in my life.

Andrew was just a lovely man and as he walked us through the beautiful house featuring a living room with a white brick wall and large windows, two bedrooms, a kitchen with a gas stove and a rack for hanging pots above it, and my absolute favorite part; A huge, beautiful, red deck off the kitchen overlooking a spacious, fenced backyard with plenty of leafy trees lending privacy to the area. We had truly lucked out.He left us to unpack, Tony did the bulk of the heavy lifting as I had gotten sick halfway through the trip and was dragging myself around with one or two items at a time, wheezing dramatically. Since we’d been renting furnished places for the past year, all that we owned fit into the suburban and we hadn’t a single piece of furniture to our name.

We (I mean Tony) got the boxes inside and then we went and got some Thai food which I ordered so hot I’m convinced it burned half the cold out of my body. With that to fuel us on we hit up some thrift stores and found a brown, leather couch that was just the right amount of squishy. We brought it home, heaved it up the deck stairs and inside, and Cloroxed the heck out of it before collapsing wearily on it to eat our leftover Thai food with silverware I’d dug out of a box. We inflated the air mattress and went to bed, blissfully thinking that the hard part was behind us.

To Be Continued…

October 19, 2018

Hello friends! I feel like I’m slowly coming back to the land of the living (AKA, the world online) after the last two months of craziness. And once I surface through all the facebook bog of politics, opinions, and pumpkin spice everything, I’m so glad to be back here and catching up with you.

Gosh, what a ride… The last a lot of you knew we were totally in love with Maine. There was ocean air, I had a job I loved, made some amazing friends, we were hiking and picking blueberries, it really was the perfect summer.

We still LOVE Maine and had planned to stay there for a year. But shortly after our last Nutshell update, my boss held a meeting to let us know he was selling the restaurant in August. The atmosphere was not the same and one by one the staff gave their notice and moved on. Following this news was a few unexpected things concerning Tony’s job as well. We both did some research and ended up at the conclusion that Portland, Oregon offered a lot more opportunity job wise for both of us, better skiing for Tony, and a milder climate for the winter.

That decided it and come August we began to pack our bags again amidst a constant state of mild panic as we looked for housing in a city that was 3,000 miles away with a 3% vacancy rate, and I sent out twenty-five resumes and pondered what it might be like to live somewhere for a whole year.

Sadie and Tori came to visit mid-August with their partners and we spent a glorious few days taking in all Maine has to offer. We got donuts from The Holy Donut and ate them on the rocks at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth overlooking the ocean, we went to breweries, we sat on the beach and played in the waves, we ate waaaay too many oysters at Eventide, had frites and housemade sodas at Duckfat, and got breakfast at Rover Bagel almost every day. We rounded out the trip with a drive down to Boston to see the Book of Mormon and the Harvard Arboretum, which required six of us squeeze into the five seats in the suburban, and blare music for the whole trip. It was an experience to remember. And of course there was lobster – The best lobster rolls from Bite into Maine and a live steamer from Scarborough Lobster.

Then the trip was over and they said goodbye and flew back to Seattle and Colorado, and I turned to face the ever-pleasant task of packing up my kitchen for the fourth time in thirteen months. You’d think I’d have it down to a science at this point and just breeze right on through, but in fact, it still takes hours, lots of complaining, and multiple gin and tonics to get the job done. Se la vie.

We drove out on August 25th, we detoured to Niagra Falls, looking out over the falls was like waking up as a six-year-old on Christmas morning with that sense of wonder you so rarely get as an adult. Then we drove on, stopping in Kansas City and Colorado on the way up. Some 3,000 miles and a broken AC in the middle of Missouri on a 100-degree day later, we arrived in Portland, Oregon on September 1st crossing our fingers that we hadn’t signed a lease on a total melon of a house.

One of our landlords, Andrew, was there to meet us. A jovial man that gave us a grin and a big wave as we pulled up. We hopped out and he introduced himself in a lovely accent either of British or Australian nature and proceeded to explain how Roberta, his other half, was in Hawaii this week and had admonished him that he was to get to the house early and finish cleaning the grout along the tub, which of course, had not happened and we all came to the mutual conclusion that none of us really cared about the grout which was in fact, already some of the cleanest grout I’ve ever seen in my life.

Andrew was just a lovely man and as he walked us through the beautiful house featuring a living room with a white brick wall and large windows, two bedrooms, a kitchen with a gas stove and a rack for hanging pots above it, and my absolute favorite part; A huge, beautiful, red deck off the kitchen overlooking a spacious, fenced backyard with plenty of leafy trees lending privacy to the area. We had truly lucked out.

He left us to unpack, Tony did the bulk of the heavy lifting as I had gotten sick halfway through the trip and was dragging myself around with one or two items at a time, wheezing dramatically. Since we’d been renting furnished places for the past year, all that we owned fit into the suburban and we hadn’t a single piece of furniture to our name.

We (I mean Tony) got the boxes inside and then we went and got some Thai food which I ordered so hot I’m convinced it burned half the cold out of my body. With that to fuel us on we hit up some thrift stores and found a brown, leather couch that was just the right amount of squishy. We brought it home, heaved it up the deck stairs and inside, and Cloroxed the heck out of it before collapsing wearily on it to eat our leftover Thai food with silverware I’d dug out of a box. We inflated the air mattress and went to bed, blissfully thinking that the hard part was behind us.

To Be Continued…

Summer In Maine

July 13, 2018

This Nutshell is coming to you days late thanks to the heat wave that is sweeping most of the U.S and my affinity for watching deadlines as they go “whooshing past.” I’ve been far too busy laying on my couch, sweating, and complaining to Tony to possibly do anything productive.

The other day we went to three different stores looking for a high-velocity fan and I snatched the very last one off a Walmart shelf, that’s box was so beat up and shredded no one had claimed it yet. We don’t have AC, you see…Independence day kicked off the heatwave which I exacerbated by turning on the oven to braise pork for our Pulled Pork Sliders with Pickled Red Cabbage. Eventually, the pork was done and we loaded up the pork, the cabbage, some BBQ sauce, buns and a cooler of beer and walked it a half mile to the Amtrak station. Yes, I was that person that took a giant pan of pulled pork on the public transit. Let freedom ring… We spent the afternoon at my coworker’s BBQ playing yard games and rotating our chairs to get out of the blazing sunlight.

The weekend following the holiday, we set out for a hike. My boss at the Blue Spoon Bistro in Portland had told me about this hike after hearing about our last escapade on the Three Falls Trail in the White Mountains. This hike is up Tumble Down Mountain and has a few different routes to get up it, and there’s a pond at the top where you can swim.I did a little research and we set out around 11 am with our assortment of Stanley thermoses filled with water and coffee and some pistachios and sandwiches for lunch.

There are two trails that lead to the pond. The first is the Brook Trail, only two miles long but you’ll probably still break a sweat by the time you reach the water. The second is The Loop Trail. It’s 3 miles? 2 miles? 2 ¾? We’ll go with that… It’s the most difficult trail on the mountain with its most unique feature being near the summit where you’ll go through a place called “Fat Man’s Misery.” Not kidding, that’s it’s real name. You have to climb up what is basically a waterfall, and then scramble up a crevice of water-slicked rocks with metal rungs put in to help you climb.

How cool, right? We struck out, myself with high energy this go around and quickly crossed a stream, passed a giant, moss-covered rock that would be perfect for bouldering, then it started to go up. As in the trail just stops and there’s a giant wall of tree roots and rocks that call for scrambling using hands and feet.Up, up, up we went! I was in the lead and the trail ended on a ledge facing a wall that needed actual climbing. Tree Roots and rocks are your handholds and a skinny, blue rope had been strung from the tree above to use as additional help. The day was hot and the humidity in the dense forest was fierce. We’d been swatting mosquitoes all day and as I started to climb a giant horsefly began harassing Tony. He’s not a fan of heights to begin with and being on a small ledge, chased by a determined horsefly, while sweating is not a great combo.

We both made it up and found we were facing huge, slabs of slick rock. There were two possible routes up. We spent an hour trying to climb only to find the route stop with no possible further hand or footholds. We scouted back and forth, there had been a group of hikers that entered the trail not 10 minutes before us and I couldn’t believe they’d just got over it. Not to mention undisturbed spider webs on both routes. Something wasn’t right.

We finally gave up, frustrated and hot we headed back the way we came and after 10 minutes of hiking, Tony noticed a trail marker I’d missed. We were on the old trail that isn’t kept up anymore… Ahahah.Another hour of hiking and we hit the waterfall which we climbed and then entered the fat man’s misery… Easy enough to get through if you’ve got a partner and your pack isn’t too big. Definitely not a good idea if you’ve got a dog. We hit the summit and you could see the pond a good way down.

We scrambled down and found gorgeous, clear water that was delightfully cold. We swam and rested for an hour and Tony killed the two horse flies that had been following us since the cliffs. Then we headed back to the car, taking the brook trail to get back as the loop trail we’d come up is not advisable to descend. The brook trail is 2 miles and spits you out a mile from the loop trailhead so you have to hike back up the road.
We made it to the road and almost immediately a swarm of horseflies found us. We ended up stripping off our shirts and spent a miserable mile of walking swatting at the determines little vermin. If there is a hell, I picture Satan as a giant horsefly and all his little minions as smaller one’s chasing you in 100% humidity. Ugh…

But despite the bugs and our extra, unplanned hour of exploring impassable boulders, we had a great time and Tumble Down Mountain is easily one of the most unique mountains I’ve ever hiked.

This past weekend we decided something a little less stimulating was in order. We drove an hour to a blueberry farm in Southern Maine. We were greeted by one of the farmers who pointed us down a row of blueberry bushes.

There were insurmountable blueberries. This was the first weekend of the season and gorgeous, plump blueberries sat alongside tiny, green and purple babies that needed a few more weeks to ripen.We filled our bags, me snagging any and all sizes and Tony very meticulously only taking the biggest and most ripe berries. We hauled our loot back and paid a whopping $8 for 3lbs of blueberries, and then headed back home, stopping at the store on the way to get ingredients for blueberry lemon rolls (Recipe coming soon!).

In closing, I can’t believe how much I love Maine. I love stepping outside and smelling the salt water on the air. It smells like oysters and wet sand, seaweed, and mud. I can’t believe I get to live here, spend a summer here, breathe in the salt water air, sweat in a kitchen sourcing local ingredients, feel the ocean breeze coming in at night while Tony and I rewatch Friends and Game of Thrones, and eat blueberry lemon rolls with fresh, Maine blueberries. Sometimes life drops you in a fairytale for a season. Don’t rush it, don’t waste it… Change will always come, all we can do is enjoy the now.

To Be Continued…

June 13, 2018

This Nutshell is coming to you days late thanks to the heat wave that is sweeping most of the U.S and my affinity for watching deadlines as they go “whooshing past.” I’ve been far too busy laying on my couch, sweating, and complaining to Tony to possibly do anything productive.

The other day we went to three different stores looking for a high-velocity fan and I snatched the very last one off a Walmart shelf, that’s box was so beat up and shredded no one had claimed it yet. We don’t have AC, you see…

Independence day kicked off the heatwave which I exacerbated by turning on the oven to braise pork for our Pulled Pork Sliders with Pickled Red Cabbage. Eventually, the pork was done and we loaded up the pork, the cabbage, some BBQ sauce, buns and a cooler of beer and walked it a half mile to the Amtrak station. Yes, I was that person that took a giant pan of pulled pork on the public transit. Let freedom ring… We spent the afternoon at my coworker’s BBQ playing yard games and rotating our chairs to get out of the blazing sunlight.

The weekend following the holiday, we set out for a hike. My boss at the Blue Spoon Bistro in Portland had told me about this hike after hearing about our last escapade on the Three Falls Trail in the White Mountains. This hike is up Tumble Down Mountain and has a few different routes to get up it, and there’s a pond at the top where you can swim.

I did a little research and we set out around 11 am with our assortment of Stanley thermoses filled with water and coffee and some pistachios and sandwiches for lunch.

There are two trails that lead to the pond. The first is the Brook Trail, only two miles long but you’ll probably still break a sweat by the time you reach the water. The second is The Loop Trail. Its 3 miles? 2 miles? 2 ¾? We’ll go with that… It’s the most difficult trail on the mountain with its most unique feature being near the summit where you’ll go through a place called “Fat Man’s Misery.” Not kidding, that’s it’s real name. You have to climb up what is basically a waterfall, and then scramble up a crevice of water-slicked rocks with metal rungs put in to help you climb.

How cool, right? We struck out, myself with high energy this go around and quickly crossed a stream, passed a giant, moss-covered rock that would be perfect for bouldering, then it started to go up. As in the trail just stops and there’s a giant wall of tree roots and rocks that call for scrambling using hands and feet.

Up, up, up we went! I was in the lead and the trail ended on a ledge facing a wall that needed actual climbing. Tree Roots and rocks are your handholds and a skinny, blue rope had been strung from the tree above to use as additional help. The day was hot and the humidity in the dense forest was fierce. We’d been swatting mosquitoes all day and as I started to climb a giant horsefly began harassing Tony. He’s not a fan of heights to begin with and being on a small ledge, chased by a determined horsefly, while sweating is not a great combo.

We both made it up and found we were facing huge, slabs of slick rock. There were two possible routes up. We spent an hour trying to climb only to find the route stop with no possible further hand or footholds. We scouted back and forth, there had been a group of hikers that entered the trail not 10 minutes before us and I couldn’t believe they’d just got over it. Not to mention undisturbed spider webs on both routes. Something wasn’t right.

We finally gave up, frustrated and hot we headed back the way we came and after 10 minutes of hiking, Tony noticed a trail marker I’d missed. We were on the old trail that isn’t kept up anymore… Ahahah.

Another hour of hiking and we hit the waterfall which we climbed and then entered the fat man’s misery… Easy enough to get through if you’ve got a partner and your pack isn’t too big. Definitely not a good idea if you’ve got a dog. We hit the summit and you could see the pond a good way down.

We scrambled down and found gorgeous, clear water that was delightfully cold. We swam and rested for an hour and Tony killed the two horse flies that had been following us since the cliffs. Then we headed back to the car, taking the brook trail to get back as the loop trail we’d come up is not advisable to descend. The brook trail is 2 miles and spits you out a mile from the loop trailhead so you have to hike back up the road.

We made it to the road and almost immediately a swarm of horseflies found us. We ended up stripping off our shirts and spent a miserable mile of walking swatting at the determines little vermin. If there is a hell, I picture Satan as a giant horsefly and all his little minions as smaller one’s chasing you in 100% humidity. Ugh…

But despite the bugs and our extra, unplanned hour of exploring impassable boulders, we had a great time and Tumble Down Mountain is easily one of the most unique mountains I’ve ever hiked.

This past weekend we decided something a little less stimulating was in order. We drove an hour to a blueberry farm in Southern Maine. We were greeted by one of the farmers who pointed us down a row of blueberry bushes.

There were insurmountable blueberries. This was the first weekend of the season and gorgeous, plump blueberries sat alongside tiny, green and purple babies that needed a few more weeks to ripen.

We filled our bags, me snagging any and all sizes and Tony very meticulously only taking the biggest and most ripe berries. We hauled our loot back and paid a whopping $8 for 3lbs of blueberries, and then headed back home, stopping at the store on the way to get ingredients for blueberry lemon rolls (Recipe coming soon!).

In closing, I can’t believe how much I love Maine. I love stepping outside and smelling the salt water on the air. It smells like oysters and wet sand, seaweed, and mud. I can’t believe I get to live here, spend a summer here, breathe in the salt water air, sweat in a kitchen sourcing local ingredients, feel the ocean breeze coming in at night while Tony and I rewatch Friends and Game of Thrones, and eat blueberry lemon rolls with fresh, Maine blueberries. Sometimes life drops you in a fairytale for a season. Don’t rush it, don’t waste it… Change will always come, all we can do is enjoy the now.

To Be Continued…

How a Tuna Fish Sandwich Saved Our Relationship

June 15, 2018

The more I get to know Maine the more I want to stay. Last Friday I worked the morning shift at the restaurant, which flew by in a frenzy of salt-roasted potatoes, chopping mirepoix for ragu, and the bustling lunch line. After work, I ran across the street to Rosemont Market and Bakery and grabbed some broccoli, russet potatoes, a loaf of ciabatta, and bought a bottle of sparkling rose from the restaurant. I drove home with my loot, changed into a tank top, grabbed a sweater and my book, and Tony and I drove down to the Jetty.

The weather was in the 70’s and we walked past Huot’s Seafood Restaurant where a steady line of people waited to place their order for fried seafood classics. We walked out onto the jetty a good way and then settled in, Tony to fish and myself to read. He caught two mackerel almost right away and over the course of the evening also brought in two striped bass that were too small to keep. We watched the sunset and then drove home, where Tony cleaned and filleted the fish while I chopped and roasted the broccoli and potatoes, and then we sat down to dinner which was delicious!On a less, grand note we took a day off of work last week to go to the DMV. If you read our Nutshell when we lived in Utah about our car plate predicament, you won’t be surprised when I say that we decided we needed Maine plates and IDs. Partially because whenever I go the wrong way and get honked at I know the Utah plates don’t do me any favors. Partly because I’m the primary driver of the car for work and my ID is Colorado and the car is registered in Utah. Most importantly because the cashiers at Hannafords, the local grocery stores here, have to call a manager over anytime someone with an out of state ID wants to buy alcohol. Then the manager has to get out a little book with pictures of all the different state IDs, find yours, compare, then find Tony’s and compare before we can pay for the booze which is exasperating for everyone.

So, the morning of the DMV dawned and we had all of our documents minus the lease agreement which was our proof of residency. Somehow it had disappeared into the black hole of moving day and I doubt we shall ever see it again. So after a thorough search, we drove to Staples where we spent 15 minutes at the print machines trying to download and print off phone bills and pay stubs. Neither of us had consumed enough coffee for the project this was turning into and we’d skipped breakfast to get out the door so I grabbed a couple Snickers bars on our way out.

The DMV process went smoothly, they snapped an ugly photo of me and I was handed back my punched-through Colorado ID and a piece of paper. We then went to get the required inspection done only to find you have to register the car first, (What?) then get it inspected. So we registered the car which was a whopping $230 on top of $60 license fees, each. Yikes! Fortunately, the inspection was only $12.50 but Mr. grumpy came stomping back out to tell us we didn’t pass and handed us a list of expensive things to fix, none of which has hindered the car from taking us across the country twice.

We went home and ate some real food before finding a new mechanic that was close enough to our house we could bike back home. Lou’s Service Center had great reviews and was only two miles away. So the following Monday Tony took the car in to get an estimate. We went to pick it up later that day and Lou told us “I don’t see anything that concerns me here, I’m passing you for the inspection, bring it back when it has a real problem.” What a guy… His place had a ton of good reviews and will soon be receiving another, but can I just say we’ll be back with any and all car needs for the duration of our time in Maine.So instead of dumping another $500+ into the old Suburban we drove to Home Depot and got a smoker/grill combo! It’s currently sitting, half assembled in the laundry room and is our project for tonight. I’m so stoked to be able to grill again and to smoke everything! We then drove home and made seafood spaghetti with clams and mussels (shellfish are like .20 cents each here!) and I popped that bottle of rose I’d brought home from work and we sat on the couch watching a Marvel movie and I thought, “Is this really my life?!” P.S Father’s day is this Sunday so there are a ton of grills/smokers on sale right now if you’re in the market!

Now, Tony and I have Sundays off together and have been doing our best to make that day one for venturing out and doing something new. So Sunday we slept in a little, made some tuna fish sandwiches, filled our Stanley thermos assortment with water and coffee and drove 2 ½ hours to the White Mountains in New Hampshire! There are so many gorgeous hikes there but we opted for the Three Falls Trail. A three-mile hike up and then you retrace your steps, or you can do a 12-mile loop.

With our late start and me being tired from my busy shift at the restaurant the night before, we opted for the out and back. I’d consider Tony and myself somewhat of veteran hikers and so I wasn’t concerned about getting up a three-mile trail.The first waterfall appeared quickly and it truly was a gorgeous hike up. Lush pine trees and mossy roots, and SO many giant rocks. The first mile had all three of the waterfalls, each grander than the last but for some reason, I got it into my head the last waterfall would be near the end.

By the time we’d lolly-gagged around, taking photos and admiring the falls it was 3:00 pm and I was tired. The elevation gain was more than 1,200 ft per mile. We figured we couldn’t be too far from the tree line and the view was supposed to be amazing so we left the falls behind and kept hiking. Up, up, and up we went. Every switchback produced a steeper incline and it was basically another hour of climbing a giant staircase made of boulders. I’d eaten two eggs and a banana for breakfast and my energy was plummeting. I began to feel very sorry for myself and kept stopping to whine and wheeze every 10 minutes or so.We passed a hiker on the way down and asked how far to the tree line and his response of “Oh you’ve got another hour and a half at least” was the last straw. We sat and broke out the sandwiches and beer we’d packed. And oh my lord I felt life coming back into me. Cheers to Tony and the sandwich for avoiding a meltdown on the mountain that day.We kept on after that and I was a much more pleasant hiking partner to have around for the rest of the way. Tony found a small cave part way up, that after determining had no shining eyes or teeth in the back of it, I crawled into to explore. Which was really just an excuse not to climb for another minute. I came out covered in dirt and we continued on our way, Tony leaping and running up the rocks and me plodding along behind.

Eventually, we came to the last part, which another hiker had accurately described as “You’ll know you’re almost there when it gets really shitty.” He was right and the last part was indeed a beast. But finally we cleared the treeline and the view was completely worth it! Sprawling mountains were all around and giant cairns were everywhere.

We sat for awhile enjoying the view and another beer and then passed off our last beer to a hiker. Apparently, this is a leg of the Appalachian trail and according to him, this was the most difficult part so far. Hats off to him and everyone else hiking the whole thing, you all are amazing. We left the summit around 5:00 pm and made great time back down, running whenever the boulders weren’t too big. We both ate it once but emerged at the parking lot with grins and only minor scrapes to show for it.

We drove the 2 ½ hours back home and got to Pizza Hut to pick up our takeout order 10 minutes before they closed. It took me three days to feel fully recovered from that trip but can I just say, what a great way to spend a weekend. The big adventures always make for the best memories, and if I have two takeaways for you today from that trip they would be:

  1. Bring a sandwich.
  2. The summit is always worth it.

To Be Continued…

June 15, 2018

The more I get to know Maine the more I want to stay. Last Friday I worked the morning shift at the restaurant, which flew by in a frenzy of salt-roasted potatoes, chopping mirepoix for ragu, and the bustling lunch line. After work, I ran across the street to Rosemont Market and Bakery and grabbed some broccoli, russet potatoes, a loaf of ciabatta, and bought a bottle of sparkling rose from the restaurant. I drove home with my loot, changed into a tank top, grabbed a sweater and my book, and Tony and I drove down to the Jetty.

The weather was in the 70’s and we walked past Huot’s Seafood Restaurant where a steady line of people waited to place their order for fried seafood classics. We walked out onto the jetty a good way and then settled in, Tony to fish and myself to read. He caught two mackerel almost right away and over the course of the evening also brought in two striped bass that were too small to keep. We watched the sunset and then drove home, where Tony cleaned and filleted the fish while I chopped and roasted the broccoli and potatoes, and then we sat down to dinner which was delicious!

On a less, grand note we took a day off of work last week to go to the DMV. If you read our Nutshell when we lived in Utah about our car plate predicament, you won’t be surprised when I say that we decided we needed Maine plates and IDs. Partially because whenever I go the wrong way and get honked at I know the Utah plates don’t do me any favors. Partly because I’m the primary driver of the car for work and my ID is Colorado and the car is registered in Utah. Most importantly because the cashiers at Hannafords, the local grocery stores here, have to call a manager over anytime someone with an out of state ID wants to buy alcohol. Then the manager has to get out a little book with pictures of all the different state IDs, find yours, compare, then find Tony’s and compare before we can pay for the booze which is exasperating for everyone.

So, the morning of the DMV dawned and we had all of our documents minus the lease agreement which was our proof of residency. Somehow it had disappeared into the black hole of moving day and I doubt we shall ever see it again. So after a thorough search, we drove to Staples where we spent 15 minutes at the print machines trying to download and print off phone bills and pay stubs. Neither of us had consumed enough coffee for the project this was turning into and we’d skipped breakfast to get out the door so I grabbed a couple Snickers bars on our way out.

The DMV process went smoothly, they snapped an ugly photo of me and I was handed back my punched-through Colorado ID and a piece of paper. We then went to get the required inspection done only to find you have to register the car first, (What?) then get it inspected. So we registered the car which was a whopping $230 on top of $60 license fees, each. Yikes! Fortunately, the inspection was only $12.50 but Mr. grumpy came stomping back out to tell us we didn’t pass and handed us a list of expensive things to fix, none of which has hindered the car from taking us across the country twice.

We went home and ate some real food before finding a new mechanic that was close enough to our house we could bike back home. Lou’s Service Center had great reviews and was only two miles away. So the following Monday Tony took the car in to get an estimate. We went to pick it up later that day and Lou told us “I don’t see anything that concerns me here, I’m passing you for the inspection, bring it back when it has a real problem.” What a guy… His place had a ton of good reviews and will soon be receiving another, but can I just say we’ll be back with any and all car needs for the duration of our time in Maine.

So instead of dumping another $500+ into the old Suburban we drove to Home Depot and got a smoker/grill combo! It’s currently sitting, half assembled in the laundry room and is our project for tonight. I’m so stoked to be able to grill again and to smoke everything! We then drove home and made seafood spaghetti with clams and mussels (shellfish are like .20 cents each here!) and I popped that bottle of rose I’d brought home from work and we sat on the couch watching a Marvel movie and I thought, “Is this really my life?!” P.S Father’s day is this Sunday so there are a ton of grills/smokers on sale right now if you’re in the market!

Now, Tony and I have Sundays off together and have been doing our best to make that day one for venturing out and doing something new. So Sunday we slept in a little, made some tuna fish sandwiches, filled our Stanley thermos assortment with water and coffee and drove 2 ½ hours to the White Mountains in New Hampshire! There are so many gorgeous hikes there but we opted for the Three Falls Trail. A three-mile hike up and then you retrace your steps, or you can do a 12-mile loop.

With our late start and me being tired from my busy shift at the restaurant the night before, we opted for the out and back. I’d consider Tony and myself somewhat of veteran hikers and so I wasn’t concerned about getting up a three-mile trail.

The first waterfall appeared quickly and it truly was a gorgeous hike up. Lush pine trees and mossy roots, and SO many giant rocks. The first mile had all three of the waterfalls, each grander than the last but for some reason, I got it into my head the last waterfall would be near the end.

By the time we’d lolly-gagged around, taking photos and admiring the falls it was 3:00 pm and I was tired. The elevation gain was more than 1,200 ft per mile. We figured we couldn’t be too far from the tree line and the view was supposed to be amazing so we left the falls behind and kept hiking. Up, up, and up we went. Every switchback produced a steeper incline and it was basically another hour of climbing a giant staircase made of boulders. I’d eaten two eggs and a banana for breakfast and my energy was plummeting. I began to feel very sorry for myself and kept stopping to whine and wheeze every 10 minutes or so.

We passed a hiker on the way down and asked how far to the tree line and his response of “Oh you’ve got another hour and a half at least” was the last straw. We sat and broke out the sandwiches and beer we’d packed. And oh my lord I felt life coming back into me. Cheers to Tony and the sandwich for avoiding a meltdown on the mountain that day.

We kept on after that and I was a much more pleasant hiking partner to have around for the rest of the way. Tony found a small cave part way up, that after determining had no shining eyes or teeth in the back of it, I crawled into to explore. Which was really just an excuse not to climb for another minute. I came out covered in dirt and we continued on our way, Tony leaping and running up the rocks and me plodding along behind.

Eventually, we came to the last part, which another hiker had accurately described as “You’ll know you’re almost there when it gets really shitty.” He was right and the last part was indeed a beast. But finally we cleared the treeline and the view was completely worth it! Sprawling mountains were all around and giant cairns were everywhere.

We sat for awhile enjoying the view and another beer and then passed off our last beer to a hiker. Apparently, this is a leg of the Appalachian trail and according to him, this was the most difficult part so far. Hats off to him and everyone else hiking the whole thing, you all are amazing. We left the summit around 5:00 pm and made great time back down, running whenever the boulders weren’t too big. We both ate it once but emerged at the parking lot with grins and only minor scrapes to show for it.

We drove the 2 ½ hours back home and got to Pizza Hut to pick up our takeout order 10 minutes before they closed. It took me three days to feel fully recovered from that trip but can I just say, what a great way to spend a weekend. The big adventures always make for the best memories, and if I have two takeaways for you today from that trip they would be:

1) Bring a sandwich.
2) The summit is always worth it.

To Be Continued…

Here For a Year

June 1, 2018

You heard it, some of you suspected it, and it has come to pass… Maine has got ahold of us and we’ve decided to stay for a year. Part of this decision is just because we like it here so darn much, with the ocean, the rocky beaches, the amazing food, and beer, but mostly it’s the people. Maine has an amazing vibe and we decided we want to stay and build some community and recharge our batteries for a little while.

So to catch you up on these last couple weeks…Tony bought a fishing pole and has been strapping his pole and a cooler bag to his backpack which he then gets on his bike and bikes out to the beach while I have the car at work. I have yet to capture a picture of this spectacle but word on the street is a cyclist almost fell off her bike laughing as she went past. After trying some different bait he caught some mackerel, a few of which we cooked and the rest he’s saving to catch some striped bass with! When I’m not working in the evening I’ll go out to the beach with him and bring a book to read, one of my favorite ways to refuel. I’d love if you’d drop any book recommendations in the comments, I’m always looking for a good read!Two weekends ago we also took our Kayak out for a test run on Sebago Lake. There’s nothing about it online but apparently the launch point we went to is part of a two-mile segment of the lake that Portland uses to filter its water from. And although you can launch boats from it there, it is a $2,000 fine for bodily contact with the water. Yikes! We took our chances and paddled around the lake for a while, which was beautiful! But I think next time we’ll be finding a different body of water for our adventures.

The kayak roof rack, we’ve discovered, is rather in the way of our bike racks. So we found an awesome, rear rack for the bikes that not only can hold four bikes total but swings away from the door so you can still access the back hatch. We drove two hours North up the coast of Maine to get the racks from Craigslist and happened upon Red’s Eats, a seafood shack in Bath, ME that is renowned for lines of cars a mile across the bridge. There were only a few people in line so we stopped and got a lobster roll and ate it looking out over the water.While it was a cool experience, the roll was $25 and comprised entirely of Lobster tail meat. I’ve learned the knuckle and claw meat are the most tender and the tail is actually really full of cartilage and tough to chew. I Would highly recommend Bite Into Maine for a lobster truck over Red’s but Red’s is an institution in Maine and they have loads of options aside from the lobster roll that would make it worth a stop if you’re up in that area.

Earlier this week there was some seriously weird bike juju going on. I biked into Biddeford (four miles away) and realized I’d popped my back tire. So I walked the bike all the way back home, found the piece of glass that had done the dirty deed, and drove to the bike shop to pick up a new tire and an extra inner tube.I then drove to work and Tony took his bike out to fish on a beach that was four miles away. He texted me as I was leaving work at 10:00 pm saying he’d just gotten home. He popped an inner tube as he was leaving the house, changed it, got all the way to the beach, caught some fish and then the other tires tube blew, leaving him to walk, you guessed it, four miles back home toting the fish and all his gear. So our bikes are now sitting with their back tires removed thinking about what they’ve done.

Hopefully, our bad bike juju has gone on its merry way, Wish me luck, I think I’ll go make a Gin and Tonic and change a bike tire. I’ll let you know how it goes 😉

To Be Continued…

June 1, 2018

You heard it, some of you suspected it, and it has come to pass… Maine has got ahold of us and we’ve decided to stay for a year. Part of this decision is just because we like it here so darn much, with the ocean, the rocky beaches, the amazing food, and beer, but mostly it’s the people. Maine has an amazing vibe and we decided we want to stay and build some community and recharge our batteries for a little while.

So to catch you up on these last couple weeks…

Tony bought a fishing pole and has been strapping his pole and a cooler bag to his backpack which he then gets on his bike and bikes out to the beach while I have the car at work. I have yet to capture a picture of this spectacle but word on the street is a cyclist almost fell off her bike laughing as she went past. After trying some different bait he caught some mackerel, a few of which we cooked and the rest he’s saving to catch some striped bass with! When I’m not working in the evening I’ll go out to the beach with him and bring a book to read, one of my favorite ways to refuel. I’d love if you’d drop any book recommendations in the comments, I’m always looking for a good read!

Two weekends ago we also took our Kayak out for a test run on Sebago Lake. There’s nothing about it online but apparently the launch point we went to is part of a two-mile segment of the lake that Portland uses to filter its water from. And although you can launch boats from it there, it is a $2,000 fine for bodily contact with the water. Yikes! We took our chances and paddled around the lake for a while, which was beautiful! But I think next time we’ll be finding a different body of water for our adventures.

The kayak roof rack, we’ve discovered, is rather in the way of our bike racks. So we found an awesome, rear rack for the bikes that not only can hold four bikes total but swings away from the door so you can still access the back hatch. We drove two hours North up the coast of Maine to get the racks from Craigslist and happened upon Red’s Eats, a seafood shack in Bath, ME that is renowned for lines of cars a mile across the bridge. There were only a few people in line so we stopped and got a lobster roll and ate it looking out over the water.

While it was a cool experience, the roll was $25 and comprised entirely of Lobster tail meat. I’ve learned the knuckle and claw meat are the most tender and the tail is actually really full of cartilage and tough to chew. I Would highly recommend Bite Into Maine for a lobster truck over Red’s but Red’s is an institution in Maine and they have loads of options aside from the lobster roll that would make it worth a stop if you’re up in that area.

Earlier this week there was some seriously weird bike juju going on. I biked into Biddeford (four miles away) and realized I’d popped my back tire. So I walked the bike all the way back home, found the piece of glass that had done the dirty deed, and drove to the bike shop to pick up a new tire and an extra inner tube.

I then drove to work and Tony took his bike out to fish on a beach that was four miles away. He texted me as I was leaving work at 10:00 pm saying he’d just gotten home. He popped an inner tube as he was leaving the house, changed it, got all the way to the beach, caught some fish and then the other tires tube blew, leaving him to walk, you guessed it, four miles back home toting the fish and all his gear. So our bikes are now sitting with their back tires removed thinking about what they’ve done.

Hopefully, our bad bike juju has gone on its merry way, Wish me luck, I think I’ll go make a Gin and Tonic and change a bike tire. I’ll let you know how it goes 😉

To Be Continued…

A Kayak Named Canoe

May 18, 2018

Maine has such a good vibe… When I sat down to write this Nutshell I had to scroll back through my photos to remember exactly what has happened, where we went, what we ate, and where I left my brain these past few weeks.

Old Orchard Beach, the town where we’re living, is about 30 minutes South of Portland. A little further South is the town of Biddeford (Bid-ee-ferd) that is the new up and coming place to watch. Currently, it sports plenty of vacant storefronts for rent and a very quiet little downtown, but man there are some amazing businesses moving in and revitalizing the scene.Tony and I went to breakfast in Biddeford at Rover Bagel, a cozy, wood-fired bagel and pizza place that is by FAR the most amazing bagel I’ve had in my life. Growing up in the midwest I’d become accustomed to a bagel being a rubbery, tasteless ring of dough that served as no more than a vehicle to get cream cheese to my mouth with. But THIS bagel… It is the god of bagels. I’d like to nominate the wood-fired bagel of Rover bagel for president in the 2020 election. I don’t think there would be much competition.Adding to Biddeford’s charm is the fact that it’s an easy, four-mile bike ride away from us and right at the entrance of town is Banded Brewing, a brewery in an almost warehouse-like space that somehow gives off a charismatic and alluring vibe while being completely down to earth. Tony and I biked in one night and spent the evening chatting with the bartender, drinking IPA and a wicked, delicious, champagne, mixed fermentation ale that is a 10.5%/ and I can’t get enough of it. I must say I don’t miss the Utah beer scene one bit.

And how about Cape Elizabeth? Fort Williams Park is the place you must go to really feel like you’ve experienced Maine. Kept up by the town of Cape Elizabeth the park is a sprawling beauty of grassy hills that run into a rocky beach where the waves come lapping in. The Portland Headlight Lighthouse is here and on a foggy day, the waves crashing against the rocks and the light splitting through the fog makes you catch your breath in awe.On a sunny day, the water is like blue glass, sparkling and gorgeous, and you can explore the ruins of the old Forts while looking out over the Atlantic. The food truck Bite Into Maine can be found here during the summer and if you can wait through the line you’ll find yourself with the best lobster roll around. A butter toasted bun, fresh, cold lobster meat with mayo or warm butter will be handed out through the window to you. You can eat it with the ocean breeze on your cheeks and drink a Moxie (The original coke) and just wonder how on earth your life got to be so good. Watch out for Jeremy, the pesky, giant seagull. He will swoop in and steal a lobster roll from under your nose without a moment’s hesitation.

Now, about that Canoe… Tony and I had been planning to get a canoe since we’d decided we were going to Maine. Tony had been scouring craigslist and one day I come home to find a 16-foot kayak in our house. It barely fit and was so long we couldn’t get it around to the backyard. Turns out, after some research and getting up close and personal to the giant waves and rocky coast, a kayak is a much better option if you like to stay afloat in the frigid water. We’d been talking about getting a canoe for so long we kept referring to the kayak as a canoe and thus it was christened… And now along with our bikes, we’ll be toting a giant kayak named canoe across the country with us. This will afford many more great stories I’m sure.

But since this is a “working vacation” if you will, I’ve found a job at an amazing little Italian Bistro in Portland. It’s called Blue Spoon and stepping through the door I felt like I had found my people. The line cooks cheerfully razz each other, yelling “hot pan Fredo!” to the dishwasher who cheerful clangs the pans and pots together in a sing-song. My first night had me whipping egg yolks and oil into aioli, we blanched fiddleheads and served them on grilled cheese, risotto with sherry came flying off the line and we topped it with an insurmountable pile of fresh parmesan… And I just know, this place is where I’m meant to be

To Be Continued…

May 18, 2018

Maine has such a good vibe… When I sat down to write this Nutshell I had to scroll back through my photos to remember exactly what has happened, where we went, what we ate, and where I left my brain these past few weeks.

Old Orchard Beach, the town where we’re living, is about 30 minutes South of Portland. A little further South is the town of Biddeford (Bid-ee-ferd) that is the new up and coming place to watch. Currently, it sports plenty of vacant storefronts for rent and a very quiet little downtown, but man there are some amazing businesses moving in and revitalizing the scene.

Tony and I went to breakfast in Biddeford at Rover Bagel, a cozy, wood-fired bagel and pizza place that is by FAR the most amazing bagel I’ve had in my life. Growing up in the midwest I’d become accustomed to a bagel being a rubbery, tasteless ring of dough that served as no more than a vehicle to get cream cheese to my mouth with. But THIS bagel… It is the god of bagels. I’d like to nominate the wood-fired bagel of Rover bagel for president in the 2020 election. I don’t think there would be much competition.

Adding to Biddeford’s charm is the fact that it’s an easy, four-mile bike ride away from us and right at the entrance of town is Banded Brewing, a brewery in an almost warehouse-like space that somehow gives off a charismatic and alluring vibe while being completely down to earth. Tony and I biked in one night and spent the evening chatting with the bartender, drinking IPA and a wicked, delicious, champagne, mixed fermentation ale that is a 10.5%/ and I can’t get enough of it. I must say I don’t miss the Utah beer scene one bit.

And how about Cape Elizabeth? Fort Williams Park is the place you must go to really feel like you’ve experienced Maine. Kept up by the town of Cape Elizabeth the park is a sprawling beauty of grassy hills that run into a rocky beach where the waves come lapping in. The Portland Headlight Lighthouse is here and on a foggy day, the waves crashing against the rocks and the light splitting through the fog makes you catch your breath in awe.

On a sunny day, the water is like blue glass, sparkling and gorgeous, and you can explore the ruins of the old Forts while looking out over the Atlantic. The food truck Bite Into Maine can be found here during the summer and if you can wait through the line you’ll find yourself with the best lobster roll around. A butter toasted bun, fresh, cold lobster meat with mayo or warm butter will be handed out through the window to you. You can eat it with the ocean breeze on your cheeks and drink a Moxie (The original coke) and just wonder how on earth your life got to be so good. Watch out for Jeremy, the pesky, giant seagull. He will swoop in and steal a lobster roll from under your nose without a moment’s hesitation.

Now, about that Canoe… Tony and I had been planning to get a canoe since we’d decided we were going to Maine. Tony had been scouring craigslist and one day I come home to find a 16-foot kayak in our house. It barely fit and was so long we couldn’t get it around to the backyard. Turns out, after some research and getting up close and personal to the giant waves and rocky coast, a kayak is a much better option if you like to stay afloat in the frigid water. We’d been talking about getting a canoe for so long we kept referring to the kayak as a canoe and thus it was christened… And now along with our bikes, we’ll be toting a giant kayak named canoe across the country with us. This will afford many more great stories I’m sure.

But since this is a “working vacation” if you will, I’ve found a job at an amazing little Italian Bistro in Portland. It’s called Blue Spoon and stepping through the door I felt like I had found my people. The line cooks cheerfully razz each other, yelling “hot pan Fredo!” to the dishwasher who cheerful clangs the pans and pots together in a sing-song. My first night had me whipping egg yolks and oil into aioli, we blanched fiddleheads and served them on grilled cheese, risotto with sherry came flying off the line and we topped it with an insurmountable pile of fresh parmesan… And I just know, this place is where I’m meant to be.

To Be Continued…