Call Me Lazarus

My ongoing battle with telemarketers continues.

I don’t know why they love to bother me so much. It’s as though I won some sort of lottery where the grand prize is daily harassment instead of a few million dollars. I have tried every trick in the book to shake them, but nothing has ever worked. A few months ago I even died, but I must have risen, Lazarus-like, because after a one-week reprieve they were hounding me as if resurrection were a perfectly normal and acceptable thing, no more unusual than ants invading a picnic or politicians bending the truth or [insert cliche of choice], trying to sell me Viagra.

That’s another thing. It’s always Viagra or Cialis they are pushing. Maybe Levitra on occasion. Talk about rising again! I’m trying not to take this personally, but it would be nice if just once they offered me pills that weren’t blue, you know what I mean? Maybe a medication designed to decrease my studliness or something. My ego can only take so much bruising.

Earlier this week, after yet another phone call in which I toyed with them a while before growing bored and hanging up, my coworker suggested the next time they call, I tell them I have a terminal illness. “Maybe that will be enough to convince them to stop bothering you,” she said. I had my doubts. After all, if dying didn’t do the trick, would dying in the near future work? Still, it was worth a shot.


I didn’t have long to wait. I never do, unfortunately. The next morning, there they were, calling me like clockwork. This is how the conversation went.

Them: Are you currently taking any medications, sir?
Me: Yes. About 57 pills a day.
Them: That’s a lot of pills. Can we interest you in some Viagra or Cialis?
Me: I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. I’ve just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. My doctor has given me three months to live.
Them: No problem.

This pissed me off. What nerve, right?! I was legitimately angry over this guy’s blase attitude about my impending death and got so caught up in my own sob story, I forgot that my illness was fake and I wasn’t actually dying. This caused me to go off on him a bit.

Me: “No problem“?! Maybe not for you, but you’re not the one dying. I am! It’s a big problem for me!
Them: I understand, sir. When would be a good time be to call you back?
Me: I don’t think you understand at all. Given that I will be dead and buried in less than ninety days, I’m thinking a good time to call back would be NEVER. Unless, of course, you can sell me a pill that will cure death!

I seriously cannot believe this guy was trying to sell boner pills to a person staring down his own mortality. I mean, I essentially told him I’m going to be dead before Christmas, and he’s still hawking those little blue pills. I dunno. Maybe he thinks I want to go out with a bang?

At least my coworkers found the whole scene entertaining. Nothing like a little bit of levity to break up the monotony of the day, I s’pose.

Yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary. It was pretty much just an ordinary day for us – work, grocery shopping, etc. It’s tough to celebrate when it lands in the middle of the week like that, though we did go out to dinner here. Great meal, by the way.

We actually celebrated last weekend with a three-night getaway to the Oregon coast. Ended up renting a house in Yachats, an area we had never been to before, and had a wonderful time. This home was situated on a bluff with a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean and downtown Yachats (pronounced Ya-hots) and was gorgeous – hardwood floors, fully appointed kitchen with modern appliances, gas fireplace, clawfoot tub, slate shower, large deck. The works. All for only $125 a night, which isn’t much more than you’d spend on a motel room. We spent one day exploring the area and hiking, and another day relaxing and reading. Turned out to be the perfect little retreat. We definitely plan to go back. Feel free to check out my pics on Instagram if you are interested (adios.ghost).

Until next time…

Wait. I’ll be dead soon. I keep forgetting!

Lobsters, Not Hipsters

A few days ago, a Groupon offer popped up on my phone that was too irresistible to pass up. Portland Magazine was offering a great deal – two years for the price of one. Since my current subscription was about to expire, I was more than happy to shell out $24 for a brand new, two-year subscription to my favorite Rose City periodical.

Two days later, I received an email from the Controller at Portland Magazine. Wow, I thought. Such personal customer service! I was impressed. Until I read what he wrote.

I believe you may wish to ask Groupon for a refund, as you may have reached a different Portland magazine than the one you were looking for, based upon your address.

And that’s when I realized hadn’t renewed my subscription to Portland Monthly, as I’d believed I was doing, but rather to Portland Magazine. It’s amazing what a difference one little word can make. Instead of a subscription to a magazine detailing life in Oregon’s largest city, I had inadvertently subscribed to a magazine detailing life in Maine’s largest city. Maine, not Oregon. The Pine Tree State, not the Beaver State. Lobsters, not hipsters.

hello lobster isolated on white background

This kind of pissed me off. Why was Groupon advertising a deal for a magazine 3,000 miles away? It seemed to me like they were trying to capitalize on the confusion the name “Portland” would create around these parts. We already suffer from an identity crisis thanks to that name (though not so much since Fred Armisen’s Portlandia turned our weirdness into a national craze). This faux pas does not help matters.

Thankfully, the staff at (the other) Portland magazine was friendly and gracious, and Groupon issued me a refund almost immediately. The issue was all tidied up and resolved in record time.

But then, I actually started to regret my hasty decision to demand my money back. Because I’ve long had a fondness for the other Portland, and even voiced out loud the idea that it might not be a terrible place to live, at least as far as the East Coast goes. True, it’s more Gorton’s fisherman than Paul Bunyan, but it does possess a certain allure. Like Oregon, Maine’s got a lot of trees. And counties named after Native American tribes (just substitute Penobscot for Multnomah and you’re golden). It’s isolated from the hustle and bustle of places like Philly, Boston, and New York. Based on photos, the scenery is downright beautiful. Plus, Stephen King would be my neighbor! (Seriously. Maine isn’t exactly overrun with people. Wikipedia tells me it’s the 8th least populous state. I feel like you’re neighbors, at least in spirit, with everybody else who calls Maine home.) I was all set to log back onto Groupon and buy another subscription to this far-away Portland magazine, but then my uncle informed me that Maine’s governor is a real prick so I put a pin in that idea, at least until after the next election.

Typical other Portlander?
Typical other Portlander?

Portland people are steadied by the vistas that play a large part in their lives–vistas of sea and sky, of islands in the bay, of coves, of lighthouses outlined against craggy rocks. (Philip Hamburger)

Today is my Friday! It’s actually the third consecutive short work week for me. I could get used to this lifestyle. My brother and SIL are driving up from California for a visit – this will be the first time we’ve seen them since our wedding in 2013 – and we are meeting at Beverly Beach on the Maine, I mean Oregon, coast for two days of camping. Sort-of camping, to be honest, since Tara and I will be staying in a yurt. Yes, the place is heated and has a skylight and front door, but we’ll still have our sleeping bags. When we planned this trip months ago we had no idea what the weather would be like in Newport this time of year, and decided not to risk a tent since memories of our 2012 camping washout are still all too fresh.

Turns out the weather is going to be fantastic, but hey, better safe than sorry!

Grape Juice With a Kick

Originally posted on October 21, 2014 – exactly 1.5 years ago. RIP, Prince Rogers Nelson. 

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?


The Psychology of Being “Liked”

One of the fundamental traits of humanity is the need to be liked. We crave acceptance from our friends, peers, and loved ones. This isn’t egotism talking; it’s built into our DNA. For our long-ago ancestors, survival was a group effort – if you were banished from your tribe, you were pretty much issued a death sentence, left to fend for yourself in a world where saber toothed tigers and woolly mammoths ran amok. Being liked was the key to survival.

Even today, being liked is a necessity if you want to accomplish a goal that requires teamwork. Remember Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman? To him, being liked was the entire philosophy on which his career hinged, the only way he would ever succeed in the business world.

Being liked is an affirmation of our self-worth. It’s proof that we are “on the right track,” that our very existence is meaningful.

You could even argue that being liked is the key to happiness.

Sure, there are people who claim, “I don’t need to be liked.” I don’t buy it for a second. Everybody wants to be liked, whether they admit it or not.

I’ve noticed that this desire to be liked has extended into the realm of social media, where a “like” is the ultimate measure of acceptance. Think of Facebook or Instagram, how happy you are when somebody “likes” your post or photo. The more hearts you receive or thumbs-up you garner, the better you feel.

Or maybe that’s just me. After all, I’m the one who recently lamented the lack of a viral post – the ultimate sign of being liked. By a whole bunch of people, no less.

All I know is, I am addicted to the positive affirmation that accompanies being liked. It’s the reason why I feel compelled to update my blog on a regular basis, even when I have nothing to say. And why, if a couple of days pass and I don’t upload a photo to Instagram, I start to go a little nuts. Attention feels good. It’s like a drug. Get a little and you start to crave a lot.

It also explains why I like to be unique and always strive for creativity. I hate following the pack. A perfect example of this is Rowena Crest.

Rowena Crest is an overlook in the Columbia River Gorge and site of a well-known looping highway that resembles a horseshoe and has been featured in magazines and automobile commercials. It’s one of the most commonly photographed spots in the Pacific Northwest. The problem is, every picture ends up looking exactly the same – some subtle variation of this.


Naturally, I wanted to do something different. So I wracked my brain for awhile, and came up with my own (hopefully original) take.

Found a great new racetrack for my Hot Wheels!

Because sometimes, getting those “likes” requires a little outside-the-box thinking. Or in this case, outside-the-Hot-Wheels-box.

Muddy and Bloody

Last week, I told Tara, “Hey! We should drive to the Oregon coast for the day!” It had been awhile, and she was down. But somehow that turned into, “Hey! We should drive to the Oregon coast, get shitty drunk in a dive bar, and stay the night!”

Priorities, man.

This was not a decisive plan from the start, but it morphed into one thanks to beautiful springlike weather and some rather tasty Bloody Marys at a sports bar in Garibaldi called the Hook, Line ‘n Sinker.

But first we had about five miles of mud to slog through.

The warmer weather and bountiful sunshine convinced us to go hiking. After some deliberation, we settled on Cape Falcon, a coastal hike just north of Manzanita, Oregon. A friend recommended it to me last year, but I had not yet been. It sounded like a decent enough hike; about 4.5 miles round trip with a fairly level trail, only 160’ of elevation gain, and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Somehow, I overlooked the part in the online trail description warning of muddy conditions in the springtime.

In any case, we left home early, and were on the road by 8:30 AM. Arrived at the trailhead shortly after 11:00, after killing some time watching the waves at Hug Point. It didn’t take us long to encounter the aforementioned mud; what started out as occasional puddles soon turned into a swamp. Gamely though, we pushed on.

Muddy Shoes

The mud that coated our shoes and covered our pants? Totally worth it for the killer view at the end.


That’s Neahkanie Mountain, which I hiked to the top of back in October. Tara and I took a respite at the end of the trail, marveling over the magnificent beauty and stunning fury of the Pacific Ocean.

End of the Cape Falcon trail.

And then we turned around and retraced our muddy steps. Our destination? Garibaldi, a charming little coastal town 10 miles north of Tillamook. I like Garibaldi because it’s small and quaint and not exactly a mecca for tourists, but it’s got the essentials. By that, I mean decent accommodations and not one, but two, dive bars.

Smokestack in Garibaldi, the last remnant of the long-gone Whitney mill.

We whiled away the hours chatting and drinking at the Hook, Line ‘n Sinker. I even indulged in some less-than-healthy food, including fried mushrooms, a bacon cheeseburger, and sweet potato fries.

And of course, a few of these.


Afterwards we hit the sauna and hot tub. The next morning we took advantage of the hotel’s free breakfast, which was a step up in quality from most, before hitting the road for the two-hour drive home. It rained the entire way and low clouds obscured the peaks of the Coast Range. It was a different sort of beauty, but no less stunning. We got home and binge-watched eight episodes of The Walking Dead.

All in all, a brief but fun weekend getaway.


Pepper Blizzard

I had a spice crisis a couple of days ago and am just barely starting to feel comfortable in the kitchen again. Friday morning I was making myself a breakfast sandwich before work and needed a little black pepper for the coup de grace. I reached for a canister we had just bought from the store but it still had the plastic “tamper-proof” strip around the top. After attempting to pry that off with a knife, the whole thing exploded in a fine black powdery blizzard that settled softly over everything. The stove. The kitchen floor. The feta cheese I was about to add to my sandwich. And me. I looked like I had a raging case of black dandruff. So I cleaned everything up and, stubborn guy that I am, ate the sandwich anyway. Feta and all. An hour later my mouth was still burning, but by god I hadn’t had to throw the feta away, saving myself $1.98.mccormick-pepper

Classic case of it-could-only-happen-to-me.

And you know, the next day I did toss the feta in the trash after all, because that pepper was potent. Now I’m being careful with the caraway, gentle with the ginger, deliberate with the dill, mindful with the marjoram, and precise with the paprika. I have no desire to deal with another spice emergency quite so soon.

Then Friday night we met up with our friend Kara for drinks and dinner at a bar in Portland. This place has a great vibe, good food, very reasonable prices, and heavy-handed bartenders. Every time. I knew this going in, but my Bloody Marys were tasting really good so I kept ’em coming, forgetting the fact that I am considerably smaller than before. Suddenly it was four hours later and weird things were happening. Like, apparently I drunk-Facebooked a status update that was riddled with errors and then later deleted it out of embarrassment, but not before a bunch of people had seen it and commented. Oops. The next morning I awoke with a hangover, which is pretty significant because I famously never get hangovers. Tara felt bad for me, but also, she gloated a little. A couple of Excedrin took care of the headache, but I felt kind of “swimmy” for much of the day.

Fortunately, we were going to the beach, so that turned out to be rather apropos.

It wasn’t the best day to head to the Oregon coast for several reasons, the biggest being the thick layer of smoke and haze that drifted over Portland when the wind shifted direction and blew all the smoke from wildfires in Oregon and Washington our way. It was really bad all over, and our air quality rating dropped to “unhealthy” for the first time in forever. We were hoping Cannon Beach would be clear, but nope. The usual ocean breezes were not blowing this time around. On top of that, we ran into a 45-minute delay on the way over due to an accident. “This has never happened before!” I told my wife as we inched forward excruciatingly slowly. (Little did I know that coming home 10 hours later we would run into another costly delay because the whole freakin’ highway was closed due to a fire. Seriously, what are the odds? And also, is anything not burning out there?!).

But, there’s no such thing as a bad day at the beach. I call it ocean therapy. We took a long walk down the sand past Haystack Rock, caught up on some reading, people-watched, grabbed dinner at a seafood market in town, and caught the sunset. Great day. Take that, smoky air!

Smoky air over the Columbia River.

I really wish it would clear up, though. It’s weird to walk outside and have it smell like a campfire everywhere you go. The wind is supposed to shift back this evening and blow the smoke back east, away from us. Can’t wait. I swear, this has been the worst summer in ages. So hot and dry. And yet, there are signs of change in the air. Like this tree in our apartment complex.


Now that’s a sight for sore eyes!

Fresh Fish? Touché!

About six months ago, Tara told me her dad wanted to drive out to The Dalles for a little walleye fishing and asked if I’d be interested in going.

“Sure,” I said, thinking we’d bait a hook, toss a line in the water, sit back, and wait. All from the comfort of the shore, because that’s what fishing is. Right?

Turns out Randy takes fishing a tad more seriously than I do.

“Seriously” meant chartering a boat for 8 hours and plying miles and miles of the Columbia River in search of walleye, and then hopping into his boat the next day for a few more hours of the same. Which, to me, was a helluva lot of fishing. But we had a great time.

Friday evening after work, Tara and I drove out to Rufus. This small town (pop.: 210) in Oregon is about two hours east of us, and I’d never heard of it before. My first impression was…well, I’ll let Facebook do the talking.

Screenshot 2015-05-11 08.16.36

No offense to banjo players, of course.

Actually, Rufus wasn’t that bad. It had one restaurant/bar. We ended up eating there four times. And the motel bed was really comfortable.

We were there for the fishing, though. Saturday morning we met up with our guide, Touché – that’s a nickname, but he never divulged his real one, so that’s what we called him. And it fit. He’s this white haired guy of 75 who has been fishing the Columbia River for 30+ years, so he knows his way around. Real nice dude, too. Very affable. We were on the water by 7 AM, and immediately got down to the important business at hand.

Fishing the Columbia River.
Fishing the Columbia River.

Drinking Bloody Marys.

After that, we got down to the other important business at hand, which would be the fishing. It didn’t take long before we reeled in a couple. Tara hooked a bass and I caught the first walleye (not bad for a landlubber like me). We spent the next eight hours going up and down a good portion of the river while Touché regaled us with humorous stories. The weather was damn near perfect – sunny, not too warm, very little wind. And sadly, very little fish, I guess. We ended up with six total, which was a disappointment to the others. I, on the other hand, was like, “Hey! I caught a fish! I rock!!”

A fish. Oh, I amuse myself sometimes…

Our guide's boat was pretty slick!
Our guide’s boat was pretty slick!
The important business at hand.
The important business at hand.
This is the life!
This is the life!

We ate dinner and then crashed early, since we’d been up since 5 AM. Fishing wears you out, even if you’re just sitting on a boat for most of the day.

Sunday we ditched Touché and went out on Randy’s boat – it was me, Tara, him and Cynthia, his girlfriend. We didn’t catch a damn thing.

Well, that’s not exactly true…

Say cheese!
Say cheese!

Before we headed home, there was one more place to visit. Stonehenge. No, we didn’t hop on a plane and fly to England. There is a full-size replica of the ancient monument in Maryhill, Washington. And this one is better than that stupid one on the Salisbury Plain, because none of the stones have fallen over. Take that, Great Britain!

Think of it as Stonehenge West.
Think of it as Stonehenge West.


Stonehenge in the Columbia Gorge.

We were back home by 2 PM.

And if you’re wondering about the walleye? It was delicious, sauteed in a little olive oil and butter and lightly seasoned with garlic pepper and salt.


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.

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…


Carpet Diem

Portland has a reputation for weirdness. It’s something we embrace – and want you to, as well. We even advertise it on our buildings.

And if you think our unofficial city motto is just meant to be cute, well….


Let’s just say it’s legit.

Nowhere is this more obvious than at PDX, our international airport. People are in love with the carpet there. In fact, it’s become a downright obsession for many folks. I’m not kidding. The PDX carpet has its own cult following. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.

When the carpet was installed in the late 80s, airport officials wanted to invoke the spirit of the Pacific Northwest in the color scheme (greens and blues), while paying homage to the intersecting north/south runway, as seen from the control tower. Here’s what they came up with:

PDX, airport carpet

Local travelers fell in love with this carpet. It became a symbol of home, and marked a direct contrast from other boring, utilitarian airports around the world. This being Portland “put a bird on it” Oregon, we decided to put a carpet on it, too. You can buy all kinds of merchandise with the PDX carpet now. Socks, t-shirts, hats, water bottles, coffee mugs…you name it. Tara and I were in Powell’s last weekend, and came across these groovy coasters.

PDX carpet, coasters

The PDX carpet is so beloved, it has its own Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as an Instagram hashtag. Look up #pdxcarpet and you’ll see lots of photos that look like this:


I love this city, but man, I’m beginning to think “weird” isn’t a strong enough word.  After all, we have a love affair with a rug. Top that, Austin.

And now, people are in mourning, because PDX has announced the beloved carpet is in need of replacement. They’ll begin tearing it up this year. But fear not, carpet lovers…they’ve come up with an updated, modern design that perfectly captures the aesthetic of the original PDX carpet while bringing it into the 21st century. This one adds additional runways, flight paths, the terminal, and even surrounding landscapes.


I like it.

And I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they are selling PDX carpet-themed socks reflecting the new design.

In the meantime, you can always settle for these.