Monday, March 14, 2005

Desserts with Strangers, the Taunting Hill, and ONIONS

Here again are the details of my weekend (yes, it's been edited):

Friday afternoon I left early from work, so that I could get home in order to clean up for a dessert to which I had been invited. The dessert was for the Wheaton Alumni Association, and as I am not a college graduate, much less a Wheaton grad, I knew that it would be a little awkward for me to be there. But I was nevertheless proud to go.

Knowing that I had some time to kill (I was about an hour early), I took a more circuitous route through Lake Oswego, a town along the Willamette River that I hadn't really explored very much. I found a street that went along the edge of Oswego Lake, with its ionospherically-priced lakefront homes, and I made this observation: Why is it that in so many affluent neighborhoods in the Portland metro area, the streets are in such horrible condition? Do the residents actually prefer it that way, so that they feel justified in buying that four-wheel-drive, luxury SUV even though they only drive it in the city? For as long as I can remember, NW 23rd Avenue, with its upscale shops and boutiques (was that redundant?), has had some of the worst pothole conditions in the city. I just don't get it.

The next day, I got up around 8:30 am, which in my mind still does not qualify as sleeping in, until I realize that I'm usually up by around 5:15 or so during the week. I put on some running shoes, determined to start a new habit of running (well, walking to start with), and at the last minute, invited Adam (who had also just gotten up) to come with me.

Now, I have been living in this house since mid-January of 2004, and I barely know my own neighborhood outside of the two or three main roads I drive upon each day. Our house is seated at the foot of a pretty sizable hill, one which I determined would bee a good training hill once the new running regimen kicked in. Adam and I walked to the end of our street, went up past the three-way stop, and found that the very next street had a good incline. We didn't know how far it went back before dead-ending - or even if it was a dead end - so I just kind of made a mental note of the time. We started up the road, went around a couple of corners, and there it was: a long, straight uphill slope that I could almost hear taunting us. "Go a different way, I'm far too steep for your feeble human legs to climb," the street said. Naturally, we walked forward, ignoring the impotent warning.

The first thing I thought of as we began our ascent was that this would be an awesome sledding hill if it wasn't for the lack of a stopping area at the bottom. My mind conjured images of children whizzing down the slope, gaining speed until the rails of the sled were hot enough to melt the snow, then majestically flying off into the forest, smashing through the Johnson's kitchen window and landing in their open dishwasher. Not a good scene. I also observed that several mailboxes along the "downhill" side of the street had been ensconced in these massive steel-rebar cages, in an apparent attempt to disrupt the batting averages of local teenagers. It was interesting to see one; hilarious to see five.

Evidentally, the road continued for some distance after the hill, probably connecting with other neighborhoods, and Adam and I weren't interested in exploring that far (yet). We walked somewhat rapidly into one neighborhood loop, because I suspect that we were both anxious to get back to that hill for the steep descent. What? It's a cool hill. My idea is that each day I'll go out to run (um, walking first...did I mention that?), I want to keep going up that hill, running until the hill wins, marking my progress along the way. Then one day, I'll be able to run to the top without dying, at which time I will be the perfect human specimen and should be studied by a major university...probably Wheaton. (Then I can die.)

So we got home, and I relaxed in the hammock for a little while before cleaning up to go pick up another friend of mine. We went over to the West Hills of Portland, on the way to Washington Park, and I took her down a little street that reminds me of an old, winding European city street. When we entered Washington Park, we were stuck behind a cluster of bicyclists making their way up the hill, and I wasn't sure whether to pass them or not. I am never sure what kind of mind resides under one of those helmets, whether it's friendly or mean. Some bike riders will glare and yell at you if you come within 20 feet of them, even if it's a 40-mph uphill and they're straining at 4. "How could you be so rude? I'm using my own legs here!" But the road was windy and slow anyway, so it wasn't a big deal, and when we passed them we weren't scorned. Yay.

Our destination was the Japanese Garden. I have been there several times throughout the year, because the place is simply beautiful and peaceful. Last March I purchased a one-year membership for $50, which allowed myself and one guest admission to the garden, unlimited times. I hadn't been there since October, so I figured it would be best if I got some more use out of it before it expired. I wasn't too worried, though, because at $6.50 (now $6.75) per admission, the card had more than paid for itself in 2004.

The plan was to visit the Garden, then drive to the relatively nearby QFC store to see my sister at work. Unfortunately, we got there too late, and she had already left for the day. So we took a stroll down to Pizza Schmizza, where I got a little something to eat (my friend, unlike me, had wisely eaten lunch before we left that day), then next door to Cold Stone for some ice cream. Whoo, that stuff's rich. We made our way back to her house, so we could change clothes for my second gathering-full-of-strangers in as many nights.

This time it was a wedding reception for a friend of my friend, to which I was not specifically invited at first, but as a guest of the first friend, was able to attend. I had only met the groom a few times, and his wife only once on New Year's Eve. So yeah. Kind of out of place, there. The good thing was that I was with a handful of people I knew, so I could hang out at their table and chat. I had a good time.

Later that night, I went to the Kennedy School theater to see The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The coolest part of the Kennedy School is that their theater is in the old gymnasium, and the front half of the seating has many different cushy couches to choose from. This proved perfect for my relaxation. Very cozy indeed.

Sunday was fun. After church, a few of us went over to Ventura Park, which is across the street from my old church. A bunch of friends showed up, and we ate some homemade cashew chicken salad in pocket bread, which was just nummy.. We played some Speed Scrabble and Sequence, and threw a frisbee around a bit.

Then the five of us went downtown to Mio Gelato for, guess what, gelato, and walked down to Powell's Books for a little bit. I was reading out of this funny book called The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and we got some good giggles out of it. After Powell's, we went back to our friend's place, because she had made some later plans. Adam went home, and the rest of us didn't really know what to do. So we lined up and sang showtunes right there on the street. JUST kidding. Actually, we thought about renting a movie, but we couldn't agree on one, so we went to Old Chicago for dinner. I had fish and chips, which were pretty textbook, and tried to nibble on the coleslaw, but it was upsetting me. WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND PUTS ONIONS IN COLESLAW?!! Rrrgh. I didn't let it get me down, though, because I was still having fun with my friends. But seriously. Onions in coleslaw... it make-a no sense.

That was my weekend. Felt like a long week!

4 Talked Back:

At March 17, 2005 at 4:55:00 PM CST, Blogger Foolish Knight said...

I like onions in my coleslaw.


At March 17, 2005 at 5:04:00 PM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

STAN! So many intimate details on the internet...Scares me a bit. But I do love reading it regardless. It was a very fun and VERY long weekend. The book in Powells was a highlight of the weekend.
Thanks for being my bud. Katie


At March 17, 2005 at 5:24:00 PM CST, Blogger stan said...

It shouldn't scare you, Katie. I always know where the line between public disclosure and disrespectful breach of privacy occurs. (Note that I only described our conversation in general terms.) I'm not using last names, either! :)

By all means, if you want me to remove anything referring to you, just let me know, and it's gone.


At March 17, 2005 at 7:22:00 PM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Onions in coleslaw is even worse than macaroni and skittles.


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