You Are What You Eat

Tonight, I’m planning on watching my favorite horror movie of all time.

Wouldn’t that make more sense around Halloween? you may be wondering. Hey, I love The Shining as much as the next person. The Exorcist is creepy. That damn doll in Annabelle is enough to give anybody nightmares. All are fine horror movies best viewed in October. But the movie that inspires abject terror in me takes place on Thanksgiving. Avert your eyes now if you are easily frightened. You might want to have any small children leave the room, lest they peek over your shoulder and catch a glimpse of this fright-inducing flick.


Don’t get me wrong. I love Peanuts. When I was a kid, I had comic book collections and a stuffed Snoopy doll and Charlie Brown sheets for my bed. Some of my fondest memories involve watching the holiday specials on TV every year. I even remember the Dolly Madison commercials that accompanied them. I have Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas album. “Linus & Lucy” is the default ringtone on my phone.


The Thanksgiving special terrifies me. And it’s all because of The Chair. The damn, evil chair.

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Chair Fight

This otherwise harmless-looking canvas Adirondack chair is like the devil incarnate. You know how a lot of people were afraid to go swimming after watching Jaws? I was afraid to venture into the garage, because that’s where Snoopy liberates The Chair from – and havoc ensues. The two circle each other, fists clenched. Snarling is involved. They trade punches. And then, in one truly terrifying scene, The Chair appears to seriously maim our beagle hero. As a kid, I thought Snoopy had been killed, and burst into tears following this horrifyingly bloody turn of events.

Death by Adirondack

Nobody can survive an attack so vicious, right? Snoopy has clearly been squished flat, his canine body broken and battered. There will be no more dogfights with the Red Baron for him. Somebody else will win the prize for best Christmas light display this year. Woodstock is going to have to find himself a new best friend.

Fortunately, Snoopy survives the attack, and The Chair is finally corralled into submission. Franklin ends up sitting on it to eat his ice cream sundae, buttered toast, popcorn, pretzel sticks, and jelly beans. But this child’s psyche has already been scarred.

Franklin chairAnd then, the audience is lulled into a false sense of complacency. Amends have been made, Peppermint Patty has apologized to Chuck for being an ungrateful little brat, and they’re all headed to Charlie Brown’s grandma’s condominium for a real Thanksgiving dinner, joyfully crooning over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go!

The scene shifts back to Snoopy’s doghouse and we are subjected to an even more frightening scene as we observe Woodstock resorting to cannibalism.


Adding insult to injury, Woodstock battles Snoopy for the wishbone. And wins.

And you thought the Donner party were a bunch of animals.

Here are ten fun facts about the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. Pay special attention to #4.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! Try not to eat your fellow diners.

FOOls in the Rain

Some people claim that rock ‘n roll is dead. I disagree. Because yesterday morning, we stood in a line hundreds deep for Foo Fighters tickets. In the cold rain and wind. For three hours. For a concert that is ten months away.

We must really like you, Dave Grohl.

10559666_10205282078640433_419723977629634675_nThe Foo Fighters have long been one of my favorite bands. I saw them once before, in 2008, and that concert was one of the best I’ve been to. So when they announced a show in Portland next September – coincidentally, it’ll be on our second anniversary – I jumped at the chance to buy tickets.

And then I found out they were selling ‘em old school. A special pre-sale at the Rose Quarter box office was being held Saturday, from 10-2. Be there or be square, as the cool kids used to say. Otherwise, tickets were going up for sale on December 5th.

“We should totally get up super early on a weekend and stand in line for tickets in the pouring rain for hours!” Tara said.

Maybe those weren’t her exact words, but they’re what I heard. Nevertheless, this was the Foo Fighters we were talking about. There was a certain charm in lining up for tix like they used to do before the internet. I decided it might actually be fun!

Umm…do I look like I’m having “fun”?!


Yeah, it poured on us. But only for the first hour. And then the sun came out. But the wind negated any warming effect that big, bright object in the sky was having.

And then, just for fun, it started raining again.

Fortunately, we were surrounded by a bunch of interesting people, all united for a common cause. And more importantly, all soaking wet. The phrase “misery loves company” should not be understated. We were cold and wet, sure – but so were they. The line seemed everlong (see what I did there?), but we were making slow and steady forward progress. We even had some free entertainment to help us pass the time.


In the end, the rain and wind and cold didn’t matter because we ended up with really good seats for the Foo Fighters concert next September 14. We’ll be much closer to the stage than we would have been if we’d waited until December 5 to buy our tickets.

Our friends thought we were fools for standing in the rain for hours. I say it was well worth a little soaking to see Dave bring it to Portland next year!

What do you think? Would you wait in line for hours to buy tickets for your favorite band?

A Better, Wetter Life

November 19th marks the anniversary of a pretty big day in my life. Exactly 20 years ago today – right around this very moment, as a matter of fact – I became an official resident of the Pacific Northwest.

It felt like I had finally come home.

Growing up an Air Force “brat,” I never had a home. Just a series of houses I lived in temporarily, in cities thousands of miles apart. We never stayed in one place longer than three years. My dad’s final assignment before he retired was the Bay Area of California. I actually managed to stay put for eight years in San Jose, but quite frankly, hated it there. Too many people and too much (traffic/pollution/crime/sunshine/emphasis on the tech lifestyle). The only thing keeping me there was my (now ex-) wife, who was born and raised in the Silicon Valley and whose entire family lived there. She swore she would never leave, so I would sit in my bedroom gazing longingly at pictures of Oregon (seriously) and dreaming of a better, wetter life.

Images like this made me long for the Pacific Northwest.
Images like this made me long for the Pacific Northwest.

And then, opportunity came knocking. The company I worked for was expanding, and decided to open a sales office in the Pacific Northwest. It would be either Seattle or Portland. And if I wanted to relocate, they would pay for my move. Oh, and promote me, too. Even throw in a nice little salary increase. What a deal, huh? I was golden. Except for the wife-who-would-never-move. And then, because:

  1. The Universe has a sense of humor (not to mention impeccable timing), and
  2. Everything happens for a reason,

She picked that moment to decide our two-year-old marriage no longer appealed to her. Fine, I said. I’ll date the hot girl my friends want to set me up with. And then move north and have a kick-ass job in a part of the country I used to sit around in our bedroom daydreaming about. Bitch.

The new girl WAS hot, and her parents owned a sushi restaurant. Because of those things, I:

  1. Tried salmon roe sushi for the first time, and
  2. Agreed to accept the job offer and relocate to either Seattle or Portland to become the Customer Service Manager for our new sales office.

The salmon roe sushi left much to be desired, but the impending promotion (not to mention Hot New Girl) had me feeling on top of the world. Everything in my life was suddenly falling into place just right. But not so fast. Remember how I said the Universe has a sense of humor? Suddenly, the wife decided she did want to be a Mrs., after all, and would I pleaseprettyplease with a cherry on top take her back? She told me this, incidentally, while I was in Indianapolis for a big meeting at my company’s headquarters.salmon-roe-sushi

Because, not to mention impeccable timing. Remember?

By this point, I had already mentally prepared myself for an exciting new chapter in my life, and was pretty much over the whole marriage thing. I decided to throw out an ultimatum. I’d take her back, I said, if she agreed to two things:

  1. We would move to the Pacific Northwest, and
  2. We would have a baby, with an option for babies.

“OK,” she said. “And OK.”

That pair of OKs completely caught me off guard. Honestly, I was not expecting her to accept those terms. Plus, I had a big date planned with Hot New Girl as soon as I got back home. If I had found salmon roe sushi even mildly appealing, my life might have turned out very differently…

…but raw salmon eggs are disgusting. And also, a promise was a promise. Which is why, 5 months later, my wife was pregnant with our first baby and we were driving north to a new life in the Pacific Northwest. Destination: Portland.

We Are MovingThe preceding months had been filled with excitement. We spent a drizzly and cold 4th of July in Seattle, and were given a grand tour of Portland by the man who ended up being my new boss. We really weren’t familiar with either place; ironically, despite my longing to live in the PNW, I had only ever been north of the California border one time. I’m still not sure why it took on such a mythical aura. Once it was decided that Oregon would be the location for our new office, I made a solo trip back to PDX to find us a place to live. I picked out a nice apartment perched on a hill in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland. It had two bedrooms, a fireplace, and a stunning view of Mount Hood from the living room.

My first home in the Pacific Northwest.
My first home in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday morning – November 18, 1994 – we watched San Jose dwindle in our rearview mirrors as we drove north. Plural, because we each had our own cars to drive, making the 669-mile journey a quiet one since cell phones wouldn’t exist for years yet. We stopped briefly atop the summit of Mount Ashland just over the border, where my wife panicked momentarily because it was snowing and she had never driven in the white stuff before. I talked her down and we continued all the way to Springfield, about two hours south of Portland, where we spent the night. We had a rendezvous scheduled with the moving truck the following afternoon.

Oregon Sign

The following day – again, exactly twenty years ago – we set out mid-morning, driving through the Willamette Valley for our last leg of the trip. It was the type of day many consider “raw” – overcast, drizzly, the temperature hovering in the upper 30s. We arrived in Beaverton just in time for lunch, grabbing subs at a local sandwich shop before meeting the movers at our new apartment.

And that is how it all began.

15 months later, we bought a house just across the river in Vancouver, Washington. Different state but, imaginary lines on a map aside, it’s all really just Portland.


The wife decided once again that she didn’t much like being married – at least to me – but by then, it was a moot point. I was up here and got my babies. Obviously, I’ve never been happier. And Tara is not a fan of salmon roe sushi, either – so she’s a much better match for me.

It’s hard to believe I have lived nearly half my life here. This place is home in a way that nowhere else could ever come close to matching.

And I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else.

Sock Monkeying Around

You know how that “elf on a shelf” is all the rage over the holidays? Yesterday, Tara and I stumbled upon something even better. We can’t wait to bring him home and set him up in various festive poses this season!

10352938_10203240724279720_8231844961267357253_nI don’t know what clever name you’d call him. The “sock monkey with a chunky”? He definitely puts the X in the Xmas Season. Mistletoe? WAY too tame. We’re all adults here.

We were shopping for really innocuous items. An ice scraper. Light bulbs. Daddy needed a new pair of shoes. Kitchen sponges. Tara wanted lip balm. I assure you, pornographic monkey was nowhere on our list. We just happened to round a corner, and I spotted him. Naturally, I burst out laughing. Tara could not figure out why, until her eyes landed upon the display of sock monkeys and she saw how stiff the competition was for Christmas gifts this season.

Now, I’m sure this was a happy accident (emphasis on “happy”). The sock monkeys have tails, as simians typically do – the better to swing from tree to tree with, of course. Probably some harried store clerk inadvertently tucked the tail beneath this monkey’s legs and never noticed that it now protruded suggestively. We could have fixed the “problem” right then and there, and in fact, I thought that’s what Tara was going to do when she walked up to the display. But…no. Not my dear wife. Instead, she rearranged the other six or seven sock monkeys propped up on display so that their tails were sticking out from between their legs inappropriately.

“But dear,” I said. “I thought erection season was over.”

“Hurry up before someone comes,” she said, and we quickly scurried away. Gotta admit, I did not think my wife had the balls to do something like this. She’s a keeper.

It could’ve been worse. At least we didn’t come across this holiday decoration in the store.

Santa Grab


I know it’s early, but Thanksgiving is next week, folks. It’s not too soon to think about what is going up for Christmas…


This Bugs Me

I recently brewed myself a cup of tea and was about to take a sip when I glanced inside the mug and saw this.


To say I recoiled in horror would be an understatement. Screamed like a little girl is more accurate. It’s okay – I’m not afraid to admit it. Because look at the size of that spider! If I hadn’t glanced down before taking a sip, I could have swallowed it whole.


Naturally, the second thing I did (following my bloodcurdling scream) was call Audrey over. My daughter is deathly afraid of spiders and, sadistic dad that I am, I felt the need to share this sight with her. Needless to say, it was not her cup of tea, to borrow a pun. Nor mine. My friends commiserated with me when I shared my experience on Facebook, but most of them were more curious about whether I was experiencing any newfound superpowers and seemed rather disappointed when I confessed that I could not shoot webs from my wrists, and did not have spidey senses to feel tingling. Supportive bunch, that lot.

As traumatic as the whole experience was, it could’ve been worse. In the past, it has been worse. I’ve decided to put together a list of my five creepiest insect moments. If you’re squeamish, this might be painful.

  1. My brother sat on an anthill when he was four years old. I came to his rescue by beating him with a broom. I’ve been terrified of ants ever since. People laugh at me for such a trivial phobia, but I contend that once you have seen ants swarming over your younger brother while he screams in terror, it isn’t a stretch to picture them hungrily devouring human flesh.
  2. I was eating dinner in a restaurant with a friend when a cockroach scurried across the table as if it belonged there. The worst part about this wasn’t the actual insect, but the manager’s reaction when we brought it to his attention. “Happens all the time,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders before walking away. And to think we were hoping for a free meal, or at the least an apology. Ha!
  3. I once got bitten on the knee by a spider. At least that’s what the doctor surmised when he examined my knee, which had by that point swollen to the size of a balloon. He prescribed antibiotics, the knee swelled even more and then the wound burst open one morning. Trust me, you do not want any more details.
  4. My parents awoke one night to find ants crawling all over them in bed. This didn’t affect me directly, but I’m pretty sure I slept with the light on for the next year or so. Because if the idea of ants devouring my flesh wasn’t bad enough, now I had to worry about ants devouring my flesh in my sleep. Is it any wonder I developed a raging case of insomnia?
  5. My former mother-in-law lived in a cockroach-infested apartment. It was so bad, they would swarm over our feet and ankles while we were eating dinner. If she hadn’t been such a damn good cook, we’d have never put up with that shit. But, she made a killer chile verde.

I’m not saying all bugs are bad. This guy’s pretty cool.


But he’s the exception to the rule. And come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to find him doing a backstroke in my cup of tea, either.

If you have an insect horror story, share it in the comments, please!

Eating a Sandwich Hurts My Brain

Today at lunch, I realized I might have a problem because it took me a ridiculous amount of time deciding how to eat my sandwich. It was nothing special, just your standard ham and swiss on white, but you’d think I was contemplating a war maneuver or something based on the thought I put into my strategy.

War Strategy


Yes, I have a sandwich-eating strategy. Doesn’t everybody?

First off, there’s the cut. When you slice your sandwich in half, do you make rectangles or triangles? I know I’m not the only one who has pondered this age-old question, because NPR weighed in a few years ago, as did Buzzfeed. If you aren’t inclined to follow the links, triangles are better, according to both articles. And I happen to agree, for a number of reasons. Triangles are more aesthetically pleasing than rectangles. You get a perfect little corner to hold onto, especially useful when you’re dipping your sandwich (think grilled cheese and tomato soup). Best of all, you get a longer crust-free zone in which to enjoy whatever tasty filling you’ve sandwiched between your bread. This is a mathematical fact: if you are using standard 4″ square slices of bread and cut them in half, you end up with 8″ of crustless surface area. But cut them on the diagonal, and you end up with nearly 11″ of crust-free bread. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve got a sandwich filled with something delicious, like a nice thinly-sliced medium-rare deli roast beef with havarti cheese, that extra 3″ of barrier-free surface area is like heaven. No doubt about it: diagonal cuts rule!5685822_f260

Then there’s the layering technique. Cheese always has to go on top of the mayonnaise, otherwise you end up with two sides of the sandwich that can potentially stick to the roof of your mouth. Mustard can go on either side, as it does not produce the same glue-like effect as mayo. Pickles should be added at the last minute, otherwise they make the bread too soggy. And for god’s sake, don’t put tomatoes on until you’re ready to eat the sandwich, either! Refrigeration kills their taste. Lettuce is usually okay, but I sometimes place it between the meat and bread to prevent unnecessary moisture absorption.

As for packaging, I prefer Saran Wrap (or generic plastic wrap), because sandwich-sized Ziploc bags are not sandwich-friendly, despite their name. They are too constricting. I will make an exception for PB&J, since a peanut butter and jelly sandwich should never be thick to begin with.

With all the thought I put into making a sandwich, you’d think that eating it would be the easy part. But, noooo. I mean, it’s obvious where to begin: with a diagonal cut, you bite off each corner until you end up with a house-shaped sandwich. Then you devour the roof, saving the main living area for last. All of that is basic. But today, I found myself staring at my sandwich and wondering, which side do I eat first?!

Surprisingly, this thought had never crossed my mind before. And for several minutes, I was stumped. I had sliced it so that one half contained the smooth, curved portion of crust found along the top of the loaf. The other half was all perfectly linear crust. There I was, debating the merits of which half of my sandwich to eat first as precious minutes of my lunch hour ticked by. Finally, after expending far too much mental energy on this dilemma, I chose sides. Yeah, pun intended.


I saved the half with the curvy, smooth crust for last. I’ve grown fond of that particular crusty bite, I guess, and wanted to end my sandwich eating experience on a high note.

I suppose I could have cut the crust off and spared myself such an agonizing decision, but come on…I’m not 4 years old!

Does anybody else spend as much time deliberating how to eat a sandwich, or am I going insane?

Passion and Poetry: Turning 500

WordPress has notified me that this is my 500th blog post.

The fun and frivolity all began on December 16, 2009 with the following declaration:

I have one goal in life: to publish a book before I die.

Thankfully, I accomplished that goal within two years of penning (“typing”? “keyboarding”?) those words. Please don’t think I’m ready to die just because that goal was met, though. Life is pretty good these days. A lot different than when I first began this blog.


In thinking of how to celebrate 500 blog posts, I thought I would talk a little about blogging itself. Specifically, how it has changed my life. Because I can’t think of another person more influenced by blogging, other than perhaps my wife. Whom I met through blogging.

See what I mean?

I started blogging a long time ago. I don’t think it was even called “blogging” back then. It was simply an online journal. I’d tried to keep a handwritten one when I was younger, but always seemed to give up after a few entries. Back in 2001, there was a lot of talk about how the internet was suddenly inundated with digital versions of diaries, and I was intrigued. So I found a site called (it’s still around) and started a blog. My first post is dated April 23, 2001.

Amazingly, I am still able to pull that blog up. I just did so this morning. Had to guess at the username and password, but it took exactly one attempt. I was pretty predictable back then. And also, angsty. As embarrassing as it is, I’ll share that very first blog post in its entirety right here.

I feel so old :(
04-23-01 05:44 PM

After reading the other entries on this site, I feel like an old man. I’ll be 32 in a few days. Can I really be twice as old as many of the people that post here? Is there anybody who can relate to a married guy with two young children? I don’t act my age. I just got a Playstation 2 for my b-day – first game SSX is fantastic! And the CD in my car stereo is Shaggy.

I’ve got a serious Lester Burnham crisis happening (see “American Beauty”).

Woe is me.

Current Music: “It’s Been Awhile” – Staind.
Current Mood: Tired 

I felt old then?! Give me a break. And what was up with Shaggy? And CDs?? At least I can still say American Beauty is one of my favorite movies.

So, it’s pretty obvious to me I was feeling disenchanted with my marriage, even back then. In case there’s any doubt, the opening sentence of my next post on that blog was,

What does every red-blooded American male want? That’s right…a bandage to stop the hemorrhaging.

Ouch. It’s a wonder my marriage lasted another five years.

I abandoned that blog two days later for greener pastures. There was a new site making a splash called Open Diary. OD (as we all called it) was like a self-contained little community, and was the first platform to allow comments by strangers – a novel concept back then. I blogged on Open Diary, off and on, for the next 13 years, though I pretty much gave it up for good in 2009 when I started Mark My Words. One of the first people I got to know really well on OD was Monica. She was living in Denmark at the time and unhappily married. We struck up a friendship that continues to this day. Since we first “met” she has gotten divorced, moved to California, and remarried. She and her husband came up for a visit last year and stayed with us. There have been many people I met in person after getting to know through blogging. Heidi, Nancy, Laurie, and more – friends to this day. One blogger even became my mother-in-law. There are others I hope to meet someday. Jess, Kathy, Ron, Wendy, etc. The one thing that impresses me most about blogging is the friendships it has led to.

In 2006, I went through a divorce (guess I finally stopped the hemorrhaging) in a very public fashion, documenting the whole thing on OD. And if it weren’t for the support of my readers, I don’t know if I could have gotten through it unscathed.

In 2007, I started dating a blogger I had known for a few years. She moved up from California to pursue a relationship, one that was on-again/off-again for years. Ultimately things did not work out, probably due to the fact that she was secretly still married (oops!) and also crazy with a capital CRAY, but this showed me that even romance was possible with fellow bloggers, and paved the way for my relationship with Tara.

She and I started reading each others’ blogs in 2003. Met in person for the first time in March, 2011. Kissed for the first time that August. Moved in together in April, 2012. Got married in September, 2013. But most of you already know that story well.

Blogging has been about life, and about love. It has been passion and poetry. Birth and rebirth. Ecstasy and acrimony. And death, as that person I dated earlier passed away unexpectedly last year. I have experienced all its highs and lows, for better and worse. It’s more than just sharing words and telling stories. It’s experiencing this shared existence we call life together. Blog

If I had never decided to hit “publish” at 5:44 PM on April 23, 2001, I can’t imagine how differently things would have turned out for me. Blogging has had a deep and profound impact on my life, one that continues to this very day. It has made me the person I am.

Considering the other blogging sites and years’ worth of posts that existed prior to my WordPress blog, 500 is kind of an arbitrary milestone anyway. But one I felt I should pay homage to regardless. If nothing else, it shows persistence, commitment and dedication. Not to mention long-windedness. (My posts have gotten shorter, but this one is an exception. It’s number 500. Cut me some slack).

I’ve probably written about every topic under the sun. Love. Sex. Death. Travel. Politics. Religion. Geoduck. There is nothing left to cover…except everything.

Will I ever stop blogging? I don’t see how I could. It’s in my blood now, as ingrained a habit as breathing and sleeping. Every 3-5 days, the itch returns, no matter how much I scratch. I will be that person blogging from my deathbed.

Mark my words.

Appled Out

I learned yesterday that one of my coworkers is allergic to apples. Apples! Kind of an odd allergy. And, he lives in Washington state. That’s kind of like a Georgian being allergic to peaches. Or an Alaskan being allergic to snow. Or a Mississippian being allergic to Confederate flags or bibles or guns.

In other words, well nigh incomprehensible.

(I love using phrases like “well nigh.” They’re rare enough to sound exotic, and make me feel smart. The same holds true for words like dichotomy, fastidious, verisimilitude,  and non-sequitur).

Also, my apologies to Mississippians. I did not mean to ostracize you or point out your idiosyncrasiesimagesizer

I’m on a roll today.

This happens to be the same coworker to whom I ill-advisedly said, “I thought about you while getting dressed this morning” recently. It turns out words like those can be seriously misconstrued, especially when the coworker in question is a guy. In my defense – a phrase I seem to use an awful lot – I was merely referring to the fact that I had decided to wear a short-sleeved plaid dress shirt, which happens to be his go-to fashion statement, rather than my usual t-shirt. I had no idea others in the office would so quickly assume we had coordinated our matching outfits the night before. It’s not like we were both wearing jeans and hiking shoes, too!

OK. We were. But that was entirely coincidental.

Anyway, he’s allergic to apples. That’s got to be a real bummer. Because Tara, Audrey and I hit the “Fruit Loop” in Hood River a few weekends back and stocked up on apples. Not just any apples, but heirloom apples. Difficult to find varieties that are about a million times better than anything you can find in the grocery store.

No offense to any Galas or Fujis out there. Or Safeways, for that matter.


We were positively inundated in apples for weeks. If it’s true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, I should be healthy for the next seven years. We ate those apples plain. Enjoyed them with slices of cheese. Tara made an apple cake. She cooked a pork and apple roast. We washed everything down with apple cider that we also brought back from the Fruit Loop. I cannot imagine being allergic to apples, especially living in the apple epicenter of the world. Although, after three weeks of nonstop apples, I will admit to feeling a little appled out.

Which does not bode well for work tomorrow…


You, Me and Fido Makes Three

Yesterday, we ventured into Portland despite the threat of a big windstorm. We were craving a quintessential Portland Saturday, which meant we had to start out the day waiting in line more than an hour for brunch. On purpose. Because that’s what goes down in the Rose City on weekends. Portlandia devoted an entire episode to this uniquely PDX phenomenon, and hit the nail squarely on the head.

Those lines are not an exaggeration. The weird thing is, we know about them in advance – but it doesn’t stop us from putting our name on a list and happily giving up 60 or more minutes of our hard-earned weekend to standing around in the brisk, cool morning air, fully exposed to the elements. It doesn’t matter where you go, either – there’s going to be a line, and it will be a long wait. But we happily queue up, and are thankful for the experience.

God, we’re a weird bunch.

We settled on the Tin Shed on Alberta Street, which is – true to its name – nothing more than a repurposed tin shed, right down to the windows covered in plastic sheeting. The crowd spilled out onto the sidewalk, a mass of flannel and plaid and North Face vests and beanies and one ill-advised pork pie hat worn by a guy we decided was trying too damn hard to pull off a subversive look that was comical more than anything else.

10003029_10205084299816086_498845793217174098_nThe Tin Shed wins extra Portland Points because it’s dog-friendly. By that, I don’t mean you can tie your dog up outside while you enjoy breakfast. Fido is welcome to eat alongside you at your table. Sure enough, once we finally got seated, roughly every third table had a canine dining companion. Most of the dogs were dressed in scarves or sweaters, because it was a chilly morning. And also, we were eating in a repurposed tin shed with windows covered in plastic sheeting. I gotta say, the dogs were pretty well behaved. Can’t say the same for the screeching toddler in the corner. The food was delicious, and the Bloody Marys with house-infused cucumber vodka definitely hit the spot.

After brunch we drove to Powell’s Books, probably my favorite place in town. For the uninitiated, it’s a bookstore the size of a city block. Literally. We hadn’t been there in far too long, so we settled in and, Kindles aside, ended up with a handful of paperbacks apiece. There was an author there doing a book signing, and when Tara commented on the cheers and applause she had heard, I tried to convince her it was a spontaneous outburst by the crowd when they realized the author of No Time For Kings was in their midst, but she didn’t buy it for a second.

A fella can dream, though. 5b7b47dd899171f9

We topped the day off with a trip to Music Millennium for a couple of records and DVDs. Our outing ended a little sooner than we’d planned, but by then the wind was really gusting, and a cozy late afternoon and evening back home sounded pretty appealing. Fortunately, none of the 100′ tall fir trees outside our apartment toppled over, though others around town weren’t so lucky.

How was your weekend?

Grape Juice With a Kick

Tara and I met up with a friend to go wine tasting over the weekend. This was a new experience for us, and I gotta say, it made me feel like…


I like wine, but I’m hardly a connoisseur. Hell, it took me several tries just to spell the word connoisseur. And I’m a professional writer! The whole experience is rather intimidating if you’re a wine novice like me. The person pouring the wine is talking about “oakiness” and “tannins” and “a nice finish” and I’m thinking ooh, what a pretty shade of purple. 

And then there’s the tasting menu. How are you supposed to pluck out “notes of grapefruit and lavender with a butterscotch finish”? All I taste is grape juice with a kick.

I think I was thrown off by the town itself. When we made plans to go wine tasting, I was picturing stops like this…


Instead, we apparently wandered into that creepy town where the children of the corn resided.


That would be Carlton, Oregon. I’d never even heard of the place before Saturday. Is it any wonder? Apparently those who wander into town never leave. Was this my payback for flirting with a nun, I wondered?

Creepy signs aside, at least the wine tasting in Carlton was convenient. The main street looked like this: wine shop, wine shop, cafe, wine shop, wine shop, cafe, wine shop, jam shop, wine shop, wine shop. We got buzzed without walking more than half a block. And then after leaving town, we did stop at the nicer-looking winery pictured above. There, we got into a heated debate that did not involve pinot noir vs. syrah, but rather, Prince vs. Michael Jackson.

OK, maybe we were really buzzed at that point.

But I loudly contended that Prince was a far better music artist than the vastly overrated Gloved One. Our friend Chris, on the other hand, thought I had lost my marbles.

“Billie Jean!” she declared.
“Purple Rain!” I countered.
“Thriller. Zombies.”
“‘Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.'”
“Your guy changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol,” she said.
“Your guy dangled a baby over a ledge and bought the Elephant Man’s bones,” I responded.

We were both rallying the people tasting wine around us to our side. Chris got some random woman to agree with her, but then her husband sided with me. I think the whole thing ended in a draw, but c’mon…

…I’ll take Prince over Michael Jackson any day.

How ’bout you?