Sunday, April 29, 2007

The first meal (and photos of the new kitchen)

After four months of a kitchen remodel, what's on the menu tonight? Thanks to Giada De Laurentiis, it's going to be goat cheese toasts, insalata mista with basil and chicken lemon cream with penne. And the friends who brought us dinner every Sunday during this long dark winter will be joining us. Aaah, good times. While it's not completely done, it's usable. And we're busy moving in, going grocery shopping, cleaning and organizing. This has been a huge project, and this week should be the last details and finalizing. But for now, we can have a real meal. For those who can't wait, here are some photos from the move-in (meaning: there has been no photo styling!). Details and notes are in flickr.
the big picturefridgestash and pet stationthe sexy new stoveview out the new doorviews to the gardenhutchisland and stove

Friday, April 27, 2007

The day I almost won $20,000 and how the suburbs gave my dog the runs

She looks so innocent
Yesterday was a weird day. You may think all of my comments about the suburbs mean I hate them. I don't. I grew up in a sort of suburb. But I live in Portland now, and there's just an obvious difference. For example...yesterday I went to visit with RSG and give a little help to a switcher (a PC to Mac transition is going on in that household). We had a lovely lunch at a lovely grill place, but at one point I about fell out of my chair and my jaw hit the table. At the table next to us, when their food arrived they held hands, lowered their heads, closed their eyes, and did a long long prayer, out loud. It wasn't just a "God is great" prayer. Wow.

Earlier that morning we had rushed off to the store to see if the scratch-it ticket I held truly was a winner for $20,000. We read the directions 20 times and from what we could tell, it was a $20,000 winner. On the back it said we'd have to claim our winnings (since they were that high) at the Salem headquarters and RSG figured it was a 45-minute drive. Oh, we'd drive there if need be, but let's do a little checky check first to just make sure it's really a winner. I think by now we all know what the outcome of that was. Let's just say the instructions on that scratch-it weren't quite clear.

So upon returning to RSGs and the pack of dogs we had left alone for 15 minutes, we discovered that the lovely basket of muffins on the table was empty but for two, and crumbs were all over the table. "Did you eat the muffins?" RSG asked me. "Uh, no." Oh. My. God. The dogs must have jumped onto the table and scarfed the muffins while we were gone. I took Wink out to visit the backyard and guess who had the shits? And guess who had the shits all day yesterday? And guess who had the shits on the white carpet upstairs last night? That would be Wink. I think we know who has the world's worst guest manners and who jumps on tables and eats food. So embarressing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tow happy in Portland

Tow happy in Portland
"Where's my car? My car's gone!" Those words came out of my mouth last week as I left a meeting and stood in the place where my car once was on SE Belmont. No cars were parked in that block now, and that's when I saw the no parking 4-6pm sign. Flanked by 2-hour parking signs, construction signs and various other signs, I had missed the one that said not between 4 and 6pm. DOH! Once I paid the $119 tow fee to get my car out of the tow company's compound, I still had the $100 tickets to pay. Ouch. I wasn't even at a client meeting: it was a community organization I volunteer with. Love that! Words to the wise: read all of the signs in the entire vicinity before you dare park your car. Those ticketers and tow truck drivers are ruthless.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Brainiac writes a letter to the editor

Coming quickly on the heels of this winning letter to the editor of The Oregonian, is Connie's letter here to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. You go Connie, those dern liberls!

(Okay okay: Connie didn't really write this. But someone did, as a joke, and the paper believed it and ran it. Who's the brainiac now?!)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My grandparents were the original environmentalists.

They never called themselves environmentalists, and they probably never even thought of themselves that way, but looking at how they lived—a hardworking Kansas wheat farmer and his wife—they embodied many of the practices we can use today to lessen our footprint on this planet. I’m not sure what happened between their generation’s way of thinking to now, but today is Earth Day, and as I reflect on my own actions and way of living, and actions or changes I wish to make to be a better steward of the earth, I realize my grandmother’s “quirky ways” then are those I aspire to now.
-Going into town - yes, they lived in a rural area, so their “trip chaining” was pretty practical, but combining errands and trips into one is one way to reduce fuel use. This takes some planning, and my favorite, list making.
-Reduce - my grandparents weren’t huge consumers. They bought what the needed, and lived somewhat simply. Family, friends, community, music, the land -- these were things that filled their life.
-Re-use - Things that were purchased were meant to have a long life. I think one of the reasons for this is because there wasn’t trash service on the farm. My grandfather was the king of tinkerers, making things work out of other things. Grandma used old nylons and t-shirts for everything. Items on the farm had more than one life. Plastic bags, plastic containers, these things filled drawers in the kitchen. (I cringe nowadays to these one-use throw away ziploc containers at the grocery store.) Why buy these when you can collect your own?
-Growing a garden - Vegetables were abound in my grandparent’s farm. Tomatoes and squash, corn and beans. What wasn’t eaten fresh was canned and frozen.
-Why use electricity when you have wind and sun? My grandma had a huge clothesline. And she hung the laundry outside to dry. It smelled good, so much better than when it was dried in the dryer, and the image of grandpa’s overalls hanging up to dry on the line is one I’ll never forget.
My memories of farm life are romanticized. I know this. As a grandchild from the suburbs of Los Angeles, my yearly visits to the farm were a wondrous adventure into lives so very different from my own. But today is Earth Day, and while there are lots of good talk about carbon offsets, living off the grid, hybrid cars, these things aren’t for everyone. But being an environmentalist doesn’t have to require lots of money or aligning yourself with a political ideal. At its heart, living simply, making conscientious buying decisions, and re using the items that come into your life, can mean you're doing something pro active.
Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Adventures into Suburbia

I don’t venture into the suburbs a whole lot. So when I do, it can feel like visiting a foreign land. Different cars, smells, accents, clothing, and I like to imagine what it would be like to live there. Today was one of those days.*

We spent a little time this afternoon at a cool coffee shop called Iron Mutt, where you can have coffee and bubble tea, mmmmmm……bubble tea , while sitting outside in a fenced in area while your dog frolics around. As we sat there enjoying the experience of being at a strip mall, sitting in the sun, we saw something strange across the street. It was a man and woman, walking their dog. And pushing a baby stroller. Wait. That’s not a baby stroller. That’s one of those dog walking strollers. And in it? A cat. But wait. It gets better. On top of the cat stroller, was a bird cage. And in it, a bird.

It was a surreal moment. Traffic buzzing by, my pasty white Oregon winter skin experiencing the sun….this does not compute. I’m kind of glazing over as I write this. Okay, snap to. If I lived in the suburbs would I walk my cat in a stroller and take my bird out for some fresh air on a 5 lane road? Would I?

If you’re in Hillsboro, stop by the Iron Mutt and enjoy the place. Wink enjoyed the free dog treats, and we enjoyed the whole thing.

On that note, happy weekend!

*I have never seen so many teenagers in my life: they're all in the suburbs!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oh my god!

Jesus H. Christ has spoken with me. On his blog. I should have known he was an Old Spice man.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

We're getting so close I can almost taste it.

Ah, the new bathroom. It's close to being done, so close....still need electrical, fixtures, mirror, but check it out...
it's coming together
And the crem de la crem, a shower.
spa shower!
And yes, that's a sweet, huge rainshower head. Sweet!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

When laughing so hard makes you pull over the car to wipe the tears out of your eyes

This weekend’s getaway trip was a breath of fresh air. It had been too long since we got away and were able to just be. To just be a couple, to explore, to relax, to have fun. ( I forgot to say we also saw a 100-year-old shipwreck!) To not talk about construction details, to-do lists and decisions needing to be made. I forgot how much fun we have together, how I truly love talking about political, racial or cultural issues with AdRi, and how much we laugh together. This little story is about laughing. And how juvenile I can be.

In Astoria, there is a home furnishings store, Hunt’s, complete with a large painted sign on a main wall coming into town. We were driving around in the drizzly rain, getting our bearings straight, and had driven by Hunt’s several times. I told AdRi that I heard that Michael owned that store. Also known as Mike. It took a few times of me talking about Mike, when AdRi became confused and asked who Mike was. “Mike who?” I said. “Mike Hunt” she said. “Who?” I asked again. “Mike Hunt, Mike Hunt, Mike Hunt” she said, finally at the last pronunciation finally getting it. In the meantime I was laughing so hard I was crying, just like I was 12 years old all over again.

To think we’ve been together ten years and I’ve never pulled that one on her. Good times, weekend getaways, good times.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Testimony is currently being heard in Salem

I'm working this evening but am watching the live streaming video of the testimony for and against the bills aimed at protecting gay and lesbian Oregonians in the workplace, and partnerships. I know it's going to be a tough evening, I blogged about the testimony in the Senate last time. While friends and colleagues are there in person, I'm so proud of them for doing so, but I couldn't bring myself to face up against those who revile me. I've done it before. And I'll fight the fight in lots of ways, but these testimonies are hard. Thank you to all of the blue shirts there tonight testifying for our rights, and for my rights. And if you have the access, watch the testimony and hear people's stories of being evicted from their homes for being gay, denied a hotel room, and not having their relationships respected in times of medical decisions or death. And to think it's 2007.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Weekend wrap-up

So we had to get out of town for a few days: our wood floors were being redone and evidently the fumes were not something we should inhale. So we headed off for a weekend away, something we haven't done in a long time. Dropped AdRi off at work on Friday then Wink and I headed to the suburbs to hang with RSG, her wife, and Wink's sister, Ginger, for the day. It was a ladies who lunch day, complete with pedicure and lunch at Bridgeport: lots of fun. We plan on doing that once a month now through the end of summer. Next time we'll have more time to shop! Wink is still there, probably playing endless hours of bitey mouth with Ginger...

I picked up AdRi from work and we headed northwest to Astoria, towards the very tip of Oregon. It had been some time since we'd been there, and never for a whole weekend. Astoria is undergoing some changes, and we found the Finnish steam baths underneath the bridge closed, but a wonderful gallery downtown and an awesome bread co-op next door to a new brewery. We stayed at a former cannery turned hotel, right on the water, and that was the most relaxing element of the weekend. The water was right outside our window, the beautiful Astoria bridge, and every once in awhile a huge barge or ship would cruise right by. Still very much a working town, the mix of newcomers and oldcomers is apparent. We loved it. Here's a little bit of the oldcomer Astoria for you...
Our hotel even had complimentary cruisers you could hop on and ride. There's a biking and walking path running along the trolley tracks all along the waterfront. When the rain stopped for an afternoon, we were off...
view from my bike...concentrating
bike riding in Astoria
So now we're back, and it's like we have brand new wood floors in our living and dining room. I won't mention that we found our bathroom door shut and locked, and had to call our contractor to come take off the doorknob....but they really are beautiful. The crabapple trees are in front, in full bloom, and I'm glad to be home. We'll definitely go back to Astoria...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Astoria Column

Can you tell it's four photos stitched together to make one? Astoria Column
Oh, and Guy, can you see me waving?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The sun is out

A sunny day in Spring
And I am happy. I have just the right amount of work and happy clients. Laundry is going and being hung out in the sun to dry. I'm wearing short sleeves and the sun is on my skin. The house is void of workers today and the place is my own. We're going on an adventure this weekend and having some R&R. Wink gets to see her sister tomorrow. AdRi finally cut her hair and looks GREAT. The birds are filling the garden. Speaking of the garden...bleeding hearts are in full glory, the tulips are opening, and spring is gorgeous. Sigh. This is a happy day.