Saturday, February 27, 2010

Waddling in Alaska

The last 4 days have found me in Fairbanks and on two of those days I've actually ventured to the hotel "Exercise Room," in this case a small room with a treadmill, a bike, and something I think is an "elliptical" or at least it looks like something that ought to be called an "elliptical." Oh, and 4 mirrors. I don't get it with the mirrors.

I chose the treadmill, figured out how to turn it on, change the speed, and the incline, and passed on all the high tech programing. Thirty-two, and then today, thirty-five minutes later, I turned it off and stepped back to terra stationaris. I'm not easily bored, but a treadmill can do it. I guess the only thing more mindless is the Fox News that's usually playing in those rooms.

I'm happy that I've broken the "Exercise Room" barrier, although I'm not sure I would have stayed if anyone else had been there. Anyway, between the treadmill and outside temperatures between -5 and -22 [and those are real degrees, not Degrees C(anadian)] on this trip, I'm glad I live in a place where I can take a walk in fresh air, even if it's raining...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Days 1 & 2

I'm tired of being fat. I'm not tremendously fat, but I weigh 100 pounds more than when I was 18. I am 6'2" tall, so it's not like I'm a ball, more like a pear. I fit in an airplane seat, but it's not comfortable.

I'm trying to reduce the amount I eat and increase the amount I move. Yesterday I walked 4.14 miles and today 5.3 miles.

Maybe if I have this blog it will help me keep going.

Here's my route today

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Saturday Evening in Portland: Cosmic Bowling at Interstate Lanes

Every now and again, I get it into my bean that it would be good to head on over to the lanes and throw some rocks at the wood and see what falls over. Dolly-girl likes it too as she's a Dudist and a firm believer in the power of positive thinking. So, when I read that Donn Allen's Interstate Lanes, not far from where me and Dolly-girl set our brake, was having Cosmic Bowling with black lights and mirror balls and music and such, well, it was dialing our blower and we were taking the call.

So what's rolling without friends? Did the Dude roll without Walter and Donny? Hell no, I mean HELL, NO Dude! We DO NOT ROLL ALONE! My buddies didn't DIE face down in the MUD in 'NAM so we could ROLL ALONE! Oops, wrong character.
So we scratched our noggins and figured it out. We knew Slim and Tootsie would be on board--hell, Slim has his own ball and shoes!

I dialed then up. Tootsie. I talked, she listened, she talked to Slim. I listened. "Slim's on board. Saturday, you say? We'll take the intraurban. See you there." I said to Dolly-girl, "How about Nunzio and Juanita? I know they roll rocks." "Sounds good to me, they're always up for fun!" Truth is, the last time I threw a ten in the pit, we were at the heads with Nunzio and Nita. That was the night Dolly-girl damn near picked up the bedposts but went in the ditch on the backends.

Nita and Nunzio Zambone live just down the avenue from us. Nita runs the circumstances that lead to pomp at the far end of the academic year, follow? Yep, she keeps watch over three Rs and a mind-full of Ps and Qs as well, I suppose. Nunzio dreams stuff up and makes it work. He says he's an engineer, but I never see him down around the tracks, or the track for that matter. I think he does stuff with what Dolly-girl calls "computers." Beats me. But, sure enough, they were interested. We made a date.

Saturday night rolls up and me and Dolly-girl and Nita and Nunzio decided to whistle up a Radio Cab. You just can't beat them when you think you might want to drown a couple, or maybe have a couple Grain Belts. The call must have gone out fast, because double quick the hack was in front and we were on our way. "Doin' a little rollin', eh?" was all he had to say. "Throwin' rocks tonite," I answered him and then went back to balloon juice, you know, gum bumping, with the rest. Nunzio had us howling with stories from Beantown where he set the brake on his perambulator.

It wasn't but a few minutes before we were looking down the lanes at ten pins in black light. We got into fast and kept at it for a couple hours. Here's some of the actions.

I went over to where you could wet your whistle. Turns out they'd had some trouble with the Volstad folks, so they were taking names and looking at pictures before they'd put hops and barley in a pitcher for you. They even strapped on a little paper thing so as they knew they'd checked your papers. Go figure. Everyone had to line up for the line up in order to get a cup. 'Course if you weren't beyond sharing a cup with the dish you were spooning..." We got serious about rolling, with Slim and Dolly-girl picking them up and setting them down!

Well, about the time our hands and arms were about to fall off, we decided to head on over to the Nite Hawk for a nite cap and a review of the nite's games. The Hawk's a good place to take a load off and get a load on at the same time. Missy brought us cocktails and kept them coming 'til we cried uncle. We drank a toast or three to Dixie and Slider. They were supposed to be with us, but Dixie tried out a new hair-do and it didn't work. By the end of the nite, it was time to call it one. Tootsie and Slim breezed out the door and right on to the intraurban, headed for their pied a terre. The four of us flagged a Radio Cab. "Enjoying the nite, eh?" "Yep, a little rolling and a couple hours at the Hawk makes Saturday what it is, all play and no work."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Saturday Morning in Portland: Breakfast at Cup & Saucer

I was upstairs, looking through some Kodaks that had come back from the drugstore when I heard "Western Union" float through one of the double-hungs that Dolly-girl had open to air out the house. "Western Union for Fiora D'Mestiere!" I heard the water stop in the kitchen--Dolly-girl was peeling some parsnips to put in with a roast--and then some rustling in her purse to get a tip for the boy, then the door. The envelope ripped open and a whoop came out of her. "Kay Anthony and Anthony Kay are coming to Stumptown for a visit. This wire is beating them by about 3 or 4 hours. They must have stopped in Yakima to send it." That was good news; a visit from Kay and Anthony was always a treat.

It so happened that Kitty was out of town on some business south of two borders south of here, so Kay and Anthony set up shop at her place and kept and eye on Kitty's cats. They arrived after the evening feedbags were put away, but we had a couple knock-em-backs to welcome them to town. We did some hand waving--Kay's a hand waver if you follow--around a plan and settled on a dose of bird seed at Cup & Saucer, up and avenue from where me and Dolly-girl set the brake. We'd been there before.

Cup & Saucer is a joint that makes their business tending to your lunch and breakfast without giving you the business over some fancy whadda-ya-want or "Do you have reservations?" I always want to say, "Yes, but I'm going to eat here anyway..." Dolly-girl shoots me one through the wave for that. Anyway, they got all the standards and plenty of never-thought-of-doing-thats that they scribble on what would have been a black board back when boards were black and chalk was white instead of boards being white and chalk replaced by some foul smelling marker.

If you get to Cup & Saucer too late on a Saturday, say like if you'd been having some knock-em-backs with friends from out of town and maybe you just didn't feel like getting out of the sack at the crack of dawn because say you felt like maybe the night before was a little to close in the distant past... Anyhoo, where was I, oh yeah, so maybe you're going to have to wait a little bit and just have a look at someone else's feedbag and that's pretty sure to get you thinking about what you might want in yours. It does me.

The place was hopping and the missys were showing up at the hash slingers' pass through and he was hitting the bell with a spatula and they were taking the feed bags out to where people were sitting, drinking a couple a cuppas and bumping gums about this and that and whatever. Missy poured two blonds and drew two in the dark. We toasted the day. "Your tables being set up right now, Jack, won't be two shakes." I smiled. It was good to be known. "What's yours, Jack?" he said to a guy at the register. "Here you go, Jack" as he handed another guy a cuppa. Oops.

So Missy called "Jack--four, follow me. Bring your joe." We did. She put us down at a table that couldn't have been better. Back of the joint where I could see Trouble where ever he might be. I slipped my heater into my jacket pocket and hung it on the back of the chair. Close enough. Four of us quit flapping our yaps and started on the whadda-ya-wants. Missy came by, hooked her thumb at the board behind us and said, "Specials. Yours?" She was looking at Kay. "Pass, Anthony?" "Wreck me two, chop a leg zeppelin, toss it in there, and that'll do it." "Got it, soy sausage in the nest. Yours?" "Huevos revolvos, ranch style," was Dolly-girl's choice, one I'd had myself from time to time. Back to Kay. "I'll do the same except flop mine easy." I went for a cowboy from the Andes with Noah's boy in the alley. "OK, on it." Missy headed to the kitchen. I heard her yell, "Four walking in," as the spatula hit the bell. "ORDER UP!

"[ding] MISSY, ORDER UP, TWO HAT DANCES, A SPINNER WITH NO OINK, AND A FRENCHMAN WITH PEPPERS." Missy was there in a jiffy. "Dig in, folks. I'll be along with a refill on the joe and Bull Run." Dolly-girl's Huevos ranchero looked like whoever was sweeping the grill back there made these like his mama used to. Kay and Dolly-girl looked down, looked at each other, and purred in unison, "We got it right!" Anthony dug in and pronounced the veggie sausage to be just what set those hen fruit to cackling. My cowboy was riding high in the saddle with plenty of wax and chilies in there. A little hot sauce topped it off just fine.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If you need a feedbag between 8 and 3, there's no better place to tie it on than Cup & Saucer. Don't plan on eating again for a while, their business is to fill you up and send you on your way smiling. We headed out onto the street through the crowd that was waiting for our table. I heard the counter man one last time, "What's yours, Jack?" Mine's Cup & Saucer, thanks.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Sunday Noontime in Portland: Breakfast and Lunch at Di Prima Dolci

Dolly-girl poured a second cup of bad joe and put her pen down on her notebook where she'd been scribbling a few words to describe the day. "Jack, I'm tired of your cooking. Let's head over to Di Prima Dolci for something other than what you usually put in our feedbags." I looked up from the broadsheet, not just a little hurt. "There's a fine how-do-you-do on a Sunday morning, Dolly-girl. I don't know how to take that." "Take it for what it's worth, Jack. I love you, you know that, but Sunday brunch isn't your magnum opus, follow?"

Okay, so I know when to push back on Dolly-girl and I know when it's time to head over to the north side of Stumptown and check out the Italian bakery and cafe she'd been giving the once-over twice. I set the brake on the roadster and we walked up to the door. I put my hand on her back as I pushed the door open. "Your pushing me, Jack? Where's the fire?" I eased off on the pushed back and we walked in the joint. It looked the part of an Italian bakery and cafe on the Costa Pacifico side of l'Oceano Atlantico.

Dolly-girl got us a table while I checked out the bakery case and the whadda-ya-want. Di Prima is a joint where there aren't any missys. There's an Italian bird at the counter who takes your what-I-want and runs the macchina caffè and a couple of hash slingers over the stove. They're the ones who bring the feedbags to the table. I noticed there was tiramisu in the cooler. I wondered if Dolly-girl would go for it. She's been sort of off it since a pal-o-hers named Denella Dellarosa made one that went bad.

Dolly-girl found us a table that had a good enough view of the street just in case Trouble came looking on a Superbowl Sunday at noon. Problem was, it left me with my back to a room full of bikers and you never know when one of them's going to get latte-crazed and tear up a joint. I pushed Dolly-girl's chair to the right a little to improve my angle. I gave Messrs Smith&Wesson an obvious pat to let Schwinn and Raleigh know I'd seen The Wire and knew how to be tough. Dolly-girl looked at me, rolled her eyes, and pushed her chair back to the left. I was used to push back.

She cracked open the broadsheet while we waited. The noon whistle was blowing in her ear so she went for the jack with a side of bullets and a cuppa joe. I followed suit on the cuppa, but had them flop me a couple cackleberries the way Rose did for Loretta Castorini. I had them leave Noah's boy and the county corks in the alley.

It turned out to be a short wait. I'd flipped through the news-of-the-day and was looking over the lineup at the Meadows when a couple of plates slid into second, safely ahead of the tag.

Dolly-girl's jack looked like no jack I'd seen and I doubted there was any jack in it. "It's a panini, Jack. For someone whose supposed to be Italian, you don't know for much. It's the Bella Luna, and it's got provolone and mozzarella and fontina and it's got sun-dried love apples and then it's all grilled and it's delicious." It didn't get past me that she hadn't had a bite yet, but I wasn't pushing my luck on that she didn't know if it was delicious or not. She took a bit and purred. OK, so she was right, it was.

My Rose & Lorettas were looking just like the movies. Noah's boy was like a harem veil over some smoked mozzarella, over the hen fruit nestled in two pieces of ciabatta.

I cut into them and they were done just right. The corks were roasted up in some spices and had just the right bite. I must have gotten a wistful look in my eyes because Dolly-girl looked over at me, put her hand on mine, and said, "Just because they're called Mama D's eggs don't mean your mama ever cooked anything that good, Jack..." No sand in her coffee today. She pushed my arm and laughed. "Get over yourself." I did. We went back to bumping gums about some jingle-brain from Alaska that's in the news.

We worked our way through breakfast and lunch in a couple winks. Dolly-girl had seen a pizza being pushed into the oven when we walked in so she pushed her chair back and headed to the counter. She's always on the lookout for a good pie in Stumptown--it's not that common. Then I saw her push her nose up to the bakery case. There were Italian cookies in there and if there's one thing that will reel that woman in, it's a good cookie. I saw her pointing through the glass and then push a five-spot across the counter.

Dolly-girl said, "Coming or going, Di Prima Dolci is worth a trip back, Jack, and it sure beats your work over the stove." I gave her a look through her wave, put my hand on her back, and helped her out the door, maybe with a little faster than usual...