Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Beautiful Evening in Portland: Dinner at the Lincoln Restaurant

The blower sparked. Dolly-girl rolled over and elbowed me. "Jack, the blower, it's gotta be for you this time of the day." Tootsie. She and Slim were planning a check-it-out trip to Stumptown to see if they couldn't find a piedatterra. The Valley wasn't doing what they needed done in terms of keeping them busy doing anything but busy work on the weekends, follow? Slim was pushing Stumptown as a get-away from what needed getting away from. Anyway, they wanted to know if we wanted to tie on the feedbag. We did. Dolly-girl reads about joints in the broadsheet. She stirred, figured what me and Tootsie were talking about, said "Lincoln Restaurant," and rolled over. It was set.

Slim and Tootsie rolled in about an hour after the olives line up for their bath. Tootsie brought her niece, Bluebird, who lives over in the part of Stumptown me and Dolly-girl call hectic, but it's still on our side of the river. Slim was shaking his head as I handed him a shot of something from South of the Border. "Missed a turn. Ended up across the river. Tootsie and the kid were yappin' and I just plain missed it. Here's salutin' your serape." We did a do-it-again and then piled in the roadster and headed for the trough--it's not far away, but too far for shank's mare. Turns out it's in a part of Stumptown that would like to be a gourmet gulch but isn't Gourmet Gulch if you know what I mean. Beans were hitting the plates in a new-fangled building--jane from the outside, but a great layout and lots of sunshine pouring though lots of glass roll-up doors. You might think it had been a Ford agency at one time, but the only grease there now is what they use to cook up some mighty-fine cornmeal onion rings.

"D'Mestiere--five of us, may be under Fiora." "On it. Right this way." We sat down next to an open door/window and Missy was quick to us with Bull Run, the whaddayas, and a smile. Slim ordered us all some skidrow and we raised glasses to whatever needed it. I checked the inside out. No one behind us but a wall and a hallway that left me a little jumpy, not to mention Old Mister shining in my eyes. The sunshine felt good but I'd wouldn't have seen trouble coming if he'd been dressed in pink and wearing a Stetson, get it? Dolly-girl gave me a little squeeze that let me know she voted for calming down, but still, this part of Stumptown
makes the broadsheet for more than just feedbags, with me?

Still, it was a nice night, people were having fun. I sat back and forgot about the week of talking with people who needed talking with, except for giving the group the high points of the low down from a swimming session I had at local gin mill in The Valley with Dixie and the Slider. They introduced me to a guy I needed to meet, name of Rocky Fell. He runs a high wire act when he's not eating hot meat and pepper seed.

I looked around the place. Pretty standard table except Mike was in a little tin cup and Ike was no where to be seen. There was a little jeannie burning oil on the table. I snuffed it. You may think of me as a tough guy, but I got a soft spot for Planet Earth and didn't think we needed to be burning fossil fuels in the sunshine. Dolly-girl gave me a quick one though the wave and the next time Missy came by, she popped a lit one on the table and took my work away. I held back on the urge and that got me another little squeeze from my chiquita banana.

Missy took the orders and was back by the time we'd raised another glass of skidrow. "Here are your kick-it-offs: cackleberries swimming through the oven in cream, steamrolled doughboy with tonnato and your bruschetta. The hash slinger keeps an eye on you and he'll start your whats-up-next when he sees you stop chewing your cud." It didn't take long before I gave the slinger the high sign and Tootsie and Dolly-girl's cowfeed showed up. Dolly-girl was looking at quite the bale and Tootsie's had some kind of tropical delight cut up on it. The two of them were purring like a couple of half-Siamese I know when those plates hit the boards. And I'll tell you, they were a couple satisfied kitties (but not the real Kitty) when they chewed through that field.

The joint was jumping and the Missys were running so fast they were a blur by the skidrow glasses. The slinger had feedbags lines up like shots on the bar at the VFW.

Another nod in the direction of the Tappan and the main attraction arrived. Slim went for beef from the hanger, asleep on some of that cave-made frog wax, Tootsie and Bluebird were doing fin flips over Charley, gnocchi so good Dolly-girl tucked the wave behind an ear and dug in. I was looking at a chop from a porker that was raised with me in mind. That plus yellow green beans left me singing "I'll be seeing you..."

We did a do-it-again on the skidrow and settled down to business. Up and downs all around the table told me what I needed to know--no one here wished we were there instead of where we were. In fact, I'd been to a bunch of theres in the last couple weeks that made me wish I'd been here instead. Missy kept us in her thoughts and we didn't want for a thing.

Finish-it-ups had Slim shaking in his shorts over a slug of fudge on some ice cream they'd cranked up in the back room. Dolly-girl and Tootsie split something baked with berries while Bluebird had something light, I think she called it sore-bay. Go figure, but it was ringing her bell.

A couple Grants plus a Jackson got me and Dolly-girl out of the joint and left a smile on Missy's mug. That ain't bad for top-notch feedbags and our share of two bottles of rosso. We hooked arms, strolled into the night, and put Lincoln Restaurant on our list of places that ain't seen the last of us.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Beautiful Afternoon in Portland: Umbrellas in the Sun at the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival

Sun poured down on me. It couldn't get better. A cuppa, a comfortable chair in the garden, and a Friday Rex Parker that was giving up to me--grudgingly, but still, giving up.

I heard her inside, talking to the cats and working at something on the Tappan. She was humming along with some big band that I could hear was playing on the Zenith in the parlor. I had an idea.

"Dolly-girl, let's me and you mosey over to St. John's and take a gander under the bridge. I read in the broadsheet that there's music over there and it could be worth a hear-see." "Jack, do you have any recollection of me telling you about the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival?" "Hmm, I thought it was my idea..." "Sure, Jack, who's the social director around where we set our brake, anyway?" OK, so I do get distracted from time to time.

We packed up some of this and some of that, loaded the roadster, and headed over to east of North Stumptown, north of where people pay through the noses they look down to see the bridge that leads to where we were going and they don't want to be, follow? We didn't have to take the bridge because it's on our side of the river. Good thing 'cause I've got a thing about bridges.

Sure enough, the skinny Dolly-girl had given me and that I'd remembered after I read it was straight. There was a torch singer playing a stand-up bass (go figure) and some others backing her up. I had to hand it to these folks; they didn't seem to be worried about anything except singin' and swingin'. In my line of work I'm generally looking for what trouble's left behind when I'm looking up at the bottom side of a bridge.

We ran into a hipster that Dolly-girl does some work with from time-to-time when there's some writing that needs re-writing. He and his chiquita--she was Jane, I mean her name was Jane--were all Christmas morning over a guy that was going to be beating this and whacking that--what you call a percussionist--when the next act, a salsa slinger, and I'm not talking burritoville here, took the stage. We said our how-do-you-dos and our nice-to-see-yous and then found a place in the shade where we could listen to the salsa being slung.

It was a great day to just sit and take it easy. Dolly-girl and me settled in and she pulled out a copy of the latest Movie Mirror and a beat-up Hollywood she borrowed from a dentist over in Hollywood, to catch up on the latest in scandal from the silver screen. Her toes were tapping to the music and I could tell this was hitting a spot. I shifted around in my chair and finally pulled out my heater and tossed it in her bag. "Honestly, Jack, you'd think we lived in the old west or something. This is Stumptown.Today. Relax!" "Yeah, yeah, one of these times you're gonna be glad I've got her with me Dolly-girl. Stumptown isn't called Stumptown for no reason, you know." "Jack, that's gibberish--listen to the music." She was right. It was. I did.

I tried to forget about being under a bridge, even if it was daytime. I mean, how many bad stories do you know that took place under a bridge? A lot if you're with me. Of course, not many of those things happened with a couple thousand people laying on the lawn, tapping their toes, with a big band playing in the background. I'd have to give you that one. Dolly-girl hummed and tapped along.

To take my mind off what might happen if those couple thousand people weren't around tapping their toes, I pulled out the Kodak and snapped a few for the album me and Dolly-girl keep to remember the good times we have. It was a good day to have an umbrella to keep Old Mister Sun from giving your nose that I've-been-hitting-the-sauce look.

After the music was over, me and Dolly-girl packed up and headed back to where we'd left the roadster. This scene reminded me why I pack that heater. I patted it and pulled Dolly-girl close so she wouldn't get jumpy over what might be in the trunk of that auto. She purred, "Oh Jack, you take such good care of me...there are so many Swedish gangsters who recycle!" I made like a beet while she laughed and laughed and I guess I sorta had to chuckle myself. But then, who would want to sleep with the lutefisk?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 13, 2009. Rest In Eternal Peace, Cynthia Cutting

Dear Friend, Cynthia Cutting,

I don't know when you were born, but I know this day you left the earth. I can't imagine tonight a better picture to capture your life than new growth on an old-growth tree.

I can only hope to recall the wonderful grace you brought to our lives.

Rest in peace, dear Cynthia.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Beautiful Saturday Morning in Portland: Breakfast at Fats

Saturday. Dolly-girl had a list. "Jack, me and Lavaya got our baby-blues on a place over in Gourmet Gulch for birdseed, and I want to stop and look for some new art-work while we're over there. Remember, they pass out Mimosas on Saturday and Sunday mornings and we're in the mood." I could always be in the mood to perambulate, gesticulate, masticate, and appreciate, so I was game.

Lavaya Switch is a pal-o-mine of Dolly-girl's from the Mile High that she corresponds with and every once in a whenever, they get together and talk about whatever it is chiquita bananas talk about when they get together to talk about whatever it is that needs talking about. Follow? Lavaya came to Stumptown and then over to the Coast to talk to a person she needed to talk to, and then she parked her valise at our place for a coupla days before she caught the Viscount service uphill from Stumptown Field.

"We ran into Kitty and she told us they were having a big sale on hang-em-ups and she said you and her and Fin had seen that new hashhouse looking like it was open." Dolly-girl and Kitty talk. "Alright, it's Saturday, it's July [a quiet time in Stumptown, if you get where I'm headed], and you got a list. I'm on it." We harnessed shank's mare and headed for the part of our part of town where you can get four things: a sailor's arm, a steaming cuppa joe, a mirror so you can see the Holy Mother of God when you're looking at yourself, and good food. We were after the the first of the daily 3-squares.

Me and Dolly-girl had been waiting for this place. The owner had a way about him that would generally cause me to fire a Lucky, pat my heater, and say "take it down a notch, Mac." "No one knows how to cook an egg in this town" aint' making friends when you open the shutters and start slinging hash across the street from the best egg joint in Stumptown, a place me and Dolly-girl have been to more than a handful of times. We slid in. The joint had its doors ajar, but other than Missy, it was going to be just us warming the seats.

We walked in. I looked around. Bare bulbs hung from the ceiling. A row of blowers on the wall. So far the joint reminded me of a place on the other side of the river where you could lay off bets on the daily double at Stumptown Meadows. The floor told me why I hadn't seen Smurfette lately--I guess she got on the wrong side of Tinky Winky and some of his pals.

It was the sort of place that maybe time forgot, but judging from the clock, it may have been a place that forgot time. The clock on the wall said just past ten-thirty, but a look at my Dueber-Hampden told me it was short of ten--too early for the hair of the dog, even though there were plenty of dogs waiting to be clipped.
I made a note: this is a place that will see our shadow again.

Missy ran his hand around the room and Dolly-girl and Lavaya picked a table near the windows, backed up against the wall. Fine with me. I could keep an eye on a part of Stumptown that had a reputation for needing an eye kept on, while at the same time lining up the best feedbags in town. Go figure.

We settled our bones and right away Dolly-girl and Lavaya were cooing over the "day-coeur", as they were calling it. Looked like a joint to me. Tables, glasses, wipe-your-yaps, Mike and Ikes, the only thing different was the sand was in blocks. But whatever. Lotsa joints have blocks of sand.

Missy ambled over. It was clear this joint had an attitude, but hey, so do I and if what I've read in the broadsheets about the hashslinger is half of half of the skinny, it'll be good. "Bull run?". "Three. Two joes, make one a blond...You? No. Bull run does it...Got it." He was all business for the end of the week. We might be first through the door, but you could tell he knew we wouldn't be the last.

Missy brought the joe and it was jake. "Don't get no better in Stumptown than Stumptown..." "Yeah, we drink it all the time." Dolly-girl wasn't gonna let Missy treat us like we were from the other side of the river coming east for the first time 'cause of some broadsheet rap. "We set our brake around here. Maybe you could learn a thing or two from the joe joint next to the ink well." "Can't call your bluff on that one, green-eyes, they drip a first class cuppa over there." He set down the whadda-ya-wants, winked at Dolly-girl, and said, "I'll check back." I started up, but Dolly-girl put her hand on my arm and said, 'Relax, Jack, he didn't mean no nevermind. I didn't see no sparkles." I got a thing about those greenies.

The whadda-ya-want was full of bring-it-to-me-nows. Lavaya and Dolly-girl settled on the cackleberries, bubble & squeak, and a raft. I went for a couple wrecked with diced Noah's boy, some cockney wax, the breath of life, and frog sticks on the side. The Canadian started to say, Eh?", but whoever heard of poutine without curds? Chevre? Wait just a Manitoba Minute!

Missy was talking to the slinger, and moving every which way which was a good way to move seeing that a crowd was just about to arrive. He was working the joint alone, but then another missy showed up and the two of them were jiffy-quick getting more joe java and Bull Run where it needed to be. This wasn't Missys' first what-can-I-get-ya job.

Missy brought three feed bags and we tied them on. The girls got quiet--just some murmurs let me know that cackleberries on a raft were floating down the Columbia, headed for sea. My wreck'em right was wrecked just right. I asked for a squeeze out of the yellow bottle, but the joint is new--Missy looked around but they didn't have it. "Put it on your list--I know you got one." "On it."

Forty-five minutes and three Hamiltons after we walked into the joint, we were on the street, saying this won't be the last time Fats finds us looking at the whadda-ya-want. Our part of Stumptown, the place where Dolly-girl and me set the brake, and where the people on the other side of the river don't like to say they like, but they like better than their side of the river where they call a front porch home, has got another great trough.

The three of us walked on down the street and picked up that art that me and Dolly-girl are sure is going to finish off that spot above our fireplace that's just been waiting for the right piece of the Louvre. It reminds us of that Europe trip we took.