Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Beautiful Night in Woodlawn: Dinner at The Firehouse

I'd been out of town most of the week, down the valley talking with some people that, from time to time, need talking with. When business takes me out of town, Dolly-girl turns domestic diva while I make the rounds with talked-with people. Come the time I set the brake in front of the house, I'm ready to be home and she's ready to be out. It can lead to tension.

This week, I picked up the blower on the way home. I called. She answered, "Dolly-girl." "It's me." "I knew it was you when I seen it was you [Dolly-girl screens]." "Let's do the Firehouse tomorrow." The Firehouse is a joint in our part of Stumptown, northwest of what people in the Northwest call Gourmet Gulch, but still on our side of both rivers. The part of town we call home and others call Woodlawn. She cooed. I could see her peeking through the wave. Dolly-girl likes the Firehouse and we've been there a coupla-times--took her and some friends there on her big day, back when she was younger than she is today. That won't get me a look through the wave.

I called Kitty. She answered. "Sure," she was in a Firehouse mood. Kitty lives in the neighborhood. I know her from way back, when she and me worked the waterfront. Dolly-girl and her hit it off. She's a fun chiquita and she knows how to laugh even when there's not so much to laugh about. Some call her Baby, but a kitty named Baby used to live next door so we call the kitty Baby and Baby, Kitty. Follow?

It's a nice night so we ride shanks mare to the Firehouse. I stuffed a snubnose in my jacket, a pack of Luckies in my shirt, and my Zippo in my pocket. Our neighborhood sees the least of Stumptown from time to time and I'm a Scout--Be Prepared.

The Firehouse is in an old firehouse. Clever name, eh? The mister of the place showed us to a table in a corner of the front room where I could see to the side and out the front. He knows my business and if he wants my business he's going to put me where I can keep an eye on business. The room's wide open, the hash slingers are working the home-on-the and the brick oven while we watch. It's the kind of place that keeps me loose while I get tight. I like it.

Missy brought us some Bull Run and the whadda-ya-drinking, whadda-ya-wants. "I'm guessing Bull Run ain't gonna do it for you tonite, am I right?" He was right. "Hop Lava," was my order. Kitty wanted to try a couple from the tap jockey. Dolly-girl ordered up a skid-row, blond, by the name of Domaine des Ménard--Cotes de Gascogne. Kitty settled on a local ESB, HUB. The girls' spots were hit so I was happy. Besides, that Hop Lava is some hoppy brew--what's gonna eat at you about that?

Missy parked at the table. "Food?" "Yep." "Yours?" "Hang some beef for me." "Medium-red OK? And?" "Something from the sea--cod, the real cod, will do it. Cook it on wood and bring me some green mobster." "Salmoriglio? It's yours. And?" "Fennel sausages--got any lentils and green sauce you can stir up?" "You betcha." "Bring us some get-us-goings: fried stuffed olives; beets and pecans; and beans and fennel." "You betcha." He was gone. We toasted the day.

Missy brought the get-us-goings and they did the trick. Just the snack to make the drinks need to be drunk. We told him to do it again and he did--the drinks, that is.

Missy buzzed around, laid the table, and brought the orders. It was what we asked for, and then some.

Kitty's steak was sliced thin, done just right, and mixed with some seared cowfeed and stacked high on some crisped up murphies. There was some shaved wax--looked like Grana Padano to me--on the side.

The fish swam right up to Dolly-girl's place and flopped over, ready to toss it in. Some roasted what's-up-docs and fennel were tucked under it. Dolly-girl flashed me a look through the wave--making a date for the Firehouse took the tense out of domestic, follow?

Sausage? Home-made. All-gone.

Missy cleared the nothing's-lefts and brought a tempter. The girls checked it out and settled on a who-knows-what that was really good. Dolly-girl purred, "Meyer lemon semifreddo with amaretti..."It was down the hatch and out the door with Jackson and Hamilton, arm-in-arm, left behind for each of us. I dropped an extra ten spot for Missy--it made a generous see-you-next-time.

Dolly-girl, me, and Kitty headed out into the night. It was quiet and calm, and a good thing; I couldn't have chased a shot with a beer after that feed.

The Firehouse? Like most firehouses, they give it their all and you get more than you pay for. It's not the last time we'll be there.

Vernal Equinox in Portland: Spring Springing

The blower was sitting on the corner of the table where Dolly-girl left it. It rang. I answered. "It's set for 4:44--AM--on Friday," a voice chirped on the other end of the line. "Gotcha, we're ready." I put the earpiece back in the cradle, sat down, fired a Lucky, took a mouthful of whiskey and worked it around. We'd been waiting for this one, me and Dolly-girl. I finished cleaning my heater and started on Dolly-girl's.

We figured this caper had been a good six months in the works. Half way through that, well, those were dark days as far as the way things were lookin'. Stumptown was full of snow, the streets were full of crack-ups, and nothin' was goin' nowhere. Turns out, it wasn't gonna get any darker than those days. This town's got a way of brushin' itself off and straighten' out.

I listened to my voice. Where the hell did all that g-droppin' come from. It hit me. I'd been readin' about Sarah Palin' again.

I shook myself, picked up a handful of Gs off the floor, lit a Lucky from the butt before I stubbed it out, took another mouthful of brown whiskey and went back to my thoughts.

How'd we get to where we'd got to?

For weeks we'd figured it was going to happen--no stopping this one. Birds were singing a different tune down in the park by the Police Bureau, follow? Dark corners weren't so dark, see? People's patterns were changing. A month ago, I pulled myself into my Burberry, pulled my fedora down, and patted my outside pocket for the comfort that's in feeling Messers Smith & Wesson where they need to be. Now I was stashing a snubnose in my belt, zipping up my leather, and doing the cab driver on my head. Dolly-girl leaves her fur at home and goes for a wrap for a wrap, with me? Baseball was in the news.

Spring was set to spring and me and her were sprung--it was warm, we were outside. Most people wouldn't figure me and Dolly-girl to spend time we're not making Stumptown's less fine toe the line watching birds--and I mean the ones with feathers, got it?--and, well, gardening. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's not the image me and Dolly-girl hang up on the wall for Stumptown's outta-line to see, but digging dirt feels pretty good after a day of chasing it, with me?

Anyway, what's this got to do with what you come to this page for? Nothing. Check back tomorrow--me and Dolly-girl are on the town tonite. In the meantime, here's some pictures of Spring Springing at me and Dolly-girl's place. Oh, and some things don't change, even if it is spring...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Saturday Around Noon at SEATAC Airport: Shooting Movies With My Blower

A week ago, when Dolly-girl and me stepped out to supper over on the other side of the river, I forgot my Kodak and ended up taking some snaps with my blower. I'll tell you, this phone-o-mine ain't no iPhone, follow? Even set on high resolution, the snaps look like the catch-em-if-you-can shots I used to grab outside no-tels back when I had to follow love birds to keep beans on the table and beer in the Frigidaire...

I was coming home yesterday from a trip up north. Lately I've had plenty of work here in Stumptown, but this caper seems to pop up about once a year and it heads me so far north I'm almost headed south. Up where the Chena turns a corner and people ride dogsleds down rivers to drink cold beer. Go figure.

It's a big job, so I had plenty of lenses with me, but standing at SEA--that's Seattle-Tacoma International for you that know you're not in the know--I decided to try the movie camera on my blower. Turns out people don't pay you no nevermind when you're tappin' the dial of the phone--must think you're making tweets like a bird or something. Here's a sample of just what it is that goes on at Gate C2K...Oh, to use the movies, they have to be converted to a different format. I didn't feel like buying a converter. I don't think the "Evaluation Copy" take too much away although you do lose the sound, but you couldn't hear much anyway...

A couple with matching sudoku books, trying to learn a few new numbers. If that game were anymore exciting these two would be asleep...

It's amazing that people will walk right by fresh food to a fatburger stand. I'm pretty sure this couple spends a lot of time in the gym so they can enjoy this corn-a-copius from Wendy's. Burn a double in grease with wax; sliders in the alley...

Why would you want this job? You are either sitting there waiting to do something or people are screaming at you. But these days, a job is, well, something to hold on to.

Here's one I shot on the way to the plane. Good thing they had railings on the ramp as I damned near fell down since I was watching the blower and not my step.

Finally, here's one I discovered on the memory card from last May--Dolly-girl and The Cardio Dominatrix trying to decide what to eat. They'd already made the call on drinks. Looks like a Mint Julep for Dolly-girl and a Sazerac for TCD!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Sunday Evening in Portland: Supper at Wildwood

Once in a while, Dolly-girl gets in her mind that we ought to go out for supper, just by ourselves, on Sunday night. Last night was one of those times, so we got in the roadster and headed across the river to a joint we’d been to a couple a times where she and a girl friend from that side of town slip into for lunch more often than not when they get together. Too far to walk, but good enough to drive. The neighborhood is, what do those magazines call it?—tony—but that don’t mean it don’t see what we don’t see, it fact it does see a lot of what we don’t see, follow? It's a different sorta place over there, and it makes me pat my pocket, but maybe for a different reason than you're thinking--on it?

We walked into the joint—Wildwood, it’s called. We picked it this time ‘cause a Moll I know, from a guy I have to call from time to time, took a shine to Dolly-girl and gave us an it’s-on-me for the holidays. Like I said, it’s across the river and we don’t come over here that often ‘cause it's crowded but this place has got a place you can do a Pennsylvania pull-through in case you're in a New Jersey hurry.

It was quiet. I took off my jacket and patted the pockets. Wrong jacket. No heater. And I left my Kodak at home. Damn. The food might be good. The story might be jake. But the pictures were coming from my blower and that means it ain’t gonna be pretty.

The Maître d’, a chiquita who sounded like she’d had a good day up to the time she had to come to work and it hadn’t gotten so bad after that, led us through the bar where a couple couples were into skidrow and burgers. They didn't give us the half-over, so I knew he was like me--just out for supper. Skidrow and burgers, that’s not a combo you see everyday on our side of the river. She took us into the back and settled us in a high-back bench booth. The booth was good. We couldn’t see anyone and no one could see us, but I could see where we came from and Dolly-girl could see where we’d be going if we had to. Plus it’s Sunday supper. Bring on the beans.

Dolly-girl wanted to start with Corona—“You’re talking to the tap jockey tonight?” That’s strange, she’s skidrow when it comes to drinks. “It’s something to start with—fried beans.” Hmm, fried beans. This doesn’t seem like a Mexican place to me. The Missy, a guy who seemed like he knew his way around, brought us our Bull Runs and a whadda-ya-drinking. I picked. “Dolly-girl want’s the crispy white and I’ll take a red that can walk over here by itself. “Gotcha. Food?” “Plate of coronas and check back.” “Gotcha.”

We looked over the whaddya-wants and Missy brought the skidrow and the plate of beans. No limes with these Coronas—just butterbeans fried crispy and some kinda dunk for them—Dolly-girl said it was pumpkin. Dijon would have hit the spot I was looking at, follow? We looked at each other. We ordered. “Gotcha.”

Missy brought me a half bowl of the best Murphy and leek slurp-it-up I’ve ever had—I coulda quit there, not 'cause of what was coming, but what had been. "Told you to go light, there's more in the alley," he said. He was right and I'll remember. He slid a bale of cowfeed in front of Dolly-girl. It had some thin sliced Italian porker and walnuts, and if you know Dolly-girl, you know that smile that was on her face.

Missy kept an eye on us from the side and just when we figured it was time, he showed up with some more—some kinda Chef Boyardee for Dolly-girl, she had some fancy name for it, and the short end of a rib on some squashed, and it was squashed—pure-a—Dolly-girl told me. Missy called Dolly-girl's plate an agnolotti and she seemed happy that it was full of roots of some sort or another. As for me, I’ll tell you, this adam had been basking in the skidrow for some time.

By now I’m looking around and thinking, “Hey, it said supper on the whaddaya-want, but this ain’t like no supper they put in front of you on Sunday in my part of town. I’m guessing nothin’ came out of a box, no fish sticks, and no TV trays in sight...” “Mind yourself!” Dolly-girl was having a good time, I could tell by the look I got through the hair in a wave on her face over her eye and above her Chef. I shut my trap.

I was on the backside of done and glad that trouble was taking a night off. I couldn’t have chased a shot with a beer after that supper. Dolly-girl pushed her plate aside halfway and said, “I’m thinking they’ve been thinking of what I’ve been thinking I might want--with me?” Dessert.

They brought her a shakey with some sliced syracuse, green nuts, and some honey she just kept calling “Rosemary”. I’m thinking I’m in Citizen Kane, right?

Missy checked in on us, left us the damage, and we settled up. Thanks to the Moll, it was a Grant instead of three minus a Jackson, and we were out the door. A lot more than the usual Sunday supper, but, at Wildwood, you always get what you came for, than more than you asked for. I took Dolly-girl’s arm, stepped into the night, fired a Lucky, and headed across the river to our side of town.