Sunday, February 07, 2010

Nine days in Oregon

My first week back was filled with low-key adventures of typical Sarah variety. I have a list of "things to write about" but no time to do it all now, so I'll just post a list of nine things from this week + weekend.

1) My roommate and I have mice. The moment we discovered this is something to write about, as is the time I lived in an apartment that was infested with mice for seven months. When I tell people about it now, I realize how crazy it was. Now that two years have passed, it's crossing from "annoying thing" to "funny story" territory. With the mice in our apartment, I have been telling this story to almost anyone who'll listen. When our landlord came over yesterday to plug up a mouse hole (or what we think is the mouse hole) with steel wool, I stood behind him yapping away. "These mice haven't climbed onto the counters and ate our food yet, but they will! I lived in a place once where when we sealed all the food where the mice couldn't get to it, they ate through the wood of the cabinets to get into them! So I put metal containers on the bottom of the cabinets. And then they got into my roommate's dresser and started eating his clothes! And they started eating another roommate's mattress!"
  I bet sounded a little crazy.

2) The thought of mice running around on my floor pushed me to finally get a bed frame. I've been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the entire time I've been in Portland. Until this week. My bed won't get delivered until Tuesday, so in the meantime, I'm sleeping on the couch. The quest for a bed took me into Portland's Sea-Faring District and even to Sauvie Island. This story will appear later this week in a blog post called, "And Then I Drove to Sauvie Island By Mistake."

3) We have been having incredible weather. Some people tell me this is normal for winter, others tell me it is sunnier than usual, and still more people wish to defend the doom-and-gloom reputation of Portland winter weather, and they proclaim, "No! This not normal! Don't get used to it! One winter, February was gray EVERY DAY. There was no sunshine! No hope! No love! Not even on Valentine's Day! Children cried! Dogs did not run to greet you when you came home! Babies stopped laughing! The wind whispered words of discouragement! Cracks in the sidewalk spelled lines from Sylvia Plath poetry! The clouds frowned and for at least an hour a day, tears fell from the sky!"

4) Tuesday was a French holiday that is celebrated by making and flipping Crepes Suzette. I will post the recipe soon. My family always has a party in NJ, and since I couldn't be there, I had one here.

5) Back to the incredible weather. Shortly before embarking on my long NJ trip, I discovered Portland local news. After living in the NYC area (whose local news is broadcast all over the country, whether you like it or not) for so many years, the local news of a different part of the country is fascinating. Especially when it's home. In November, I watched with fascination in-depth coverage of snow in Government Camp. The weather seems fairly predictable here, and yet it is reported with just as much drama as weather in New York. "Wet weather in the valley; worse weather on the coast; SNOW in the mountains." No, really!? Snow in the Cascades!?
  Anyway, it was watching that snowstorm coverage, back in November, that I learned what the hell snow chains are. Yes, the news team spent about twenty minutes interviewing people who were driving on Highway 26 in Government Camp and showing close-up footage of people putting snow chains on their cars.
  The next night, they interviewed some paint while they watched it dry.

6) Oh, what I really meant to talk about was the recent weather reports. With our mostly-predictable weather, each slight variation seems to be big news. For the weather reporters on TV and for the Portlandic themselves. (Or should I say, "ourselves"?) I once put "weather in Portland" on a list of "topics that signal a first date is going irreversibly downhill" but perhaps that was premature. I am beginning to think that Portlanders love to talk about bad weather the way Los Angelenos love to talk about traffic. Anyway, thanks to the TV and New York's shared belief that New York is the center of the universe and everyone all over the world really cares about its subway delays, I've now seen, juxtaposed, dramatic coverage of an impending snowstorm in NY/NJ, and coverage of something the Oregonian newscaster called "sun breaks." Or is it "sunbreaks"? I am not sure, but I can tell you this - it is wonderful. And it brings me to #7.

7) This won't be a good story until I get the film developed. Thanks to the sunbreaks/sun-breaks/sun breaks, Friday got up to 60 degrees and a friend and I walked to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. To my surprise, there were rhododendrons already in bloom. So far, early February in Portland is early April in NJ. In addition to rhododendron, I saw tons of hellebores, one of my favorite plants.

8) Since being back, I've been introduced to some popular Portland businesses and now I love them too. On Tuesday, I went to Kitchen Kaboodle and got two ceramic quiche pans (one is small and shaped like a heart) and a French press. Finally, a French press. It is red. I love it. I also had brunch yesterday at Veritable Quandary and it was as amazing as the Yelp reviews describe it. And of course, my first day back in town, I went to my favorite place, Toast.

9) I'm not sure what to end with, so it may as well be food. This weekend I tried a recipe for olive oil and lemon cake, and I'm going to try icing it with a balsamic vinegar whipped cream icing. Then I might buy some fresh thyme to garnish the cake. What this cake really needs is bacon.

There you have it, nine things from my nine days back in Portland. Three of them are about weather. I guess this means I really belong here.

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