Saturday, June 23, 2007


So there's a meteor crater outside of Winslow, Arizona. It is a very large hole in the ground.

You aren't allowed to hike to the bottom of the crater for "scientific" reasons, although I would guess in this instance, "scientific" = "liability. So instead, the gift shop has set up a diorama for photo ops, so you can send out pictures of yourself at the "bottom of the meteor crater."

Interpret Matt's expression here:

a) I have made an important scientific discovery at the bottom of this large hole!
c) I have paid $30 so that my wife can take a picture of me in front of a picture of rocks!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm going to have nightmares for a week.

The 101 in California

Beth and I have driven a large portion of US-101. We've driven around the Washington Peninsula, where 101 turns east, then south, and then west to meet up with 101 again. We've driven the length of Oregon (or would that be the width of Oregon) as 101 winds down the coast. And now we've driven it in California to San Fransisco.

The 101 in California is both amazing and strange. One moment you will be driving a two lane twisting road through redwood forests and then it is suddenly a six lane divided highway – in seemingly the middle of nowhere. But it will narrow to two lanes again once you're back in the protected forrests. Which is great. But wherever California can fit six divided lanes, they seem to put six divided lanes.

California also doesn't have mile markers. Roads are marked showing distance to or from the county line. And seemingly at random, sometimes as close as a few meters apart. I'm guessing that with so many roads to maintain, this system allows crews to pinpoint problems to, well, the exact meter.

101 seems to have its share of problems. Several times as the road would wind along the coast, we would come upon recently patched areas, on top of an older repair zone, where the road washed away over the winter. Kudos to the California Department of Transportation for getting everything repaired before we came on down. We know you did it just for us.

And they do the same for their own. We were on the 101. Also listed as the Redwood Highway. Also known as a Blue Star Highway in honor of those who have served the country at war. And individual stretches would be named in honor of Transportation workers who dedicated their lives to making California drivable.

If you were driving the 101 on Saturday, we were the ones in the red jeep driving the speed limit, being passed by everyone.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Roadside Attractions and Giant Trees

Driving down Highway 101, it is clear that there are different touring styles. Some people drive by, see the giant T-Rex in front of the Prehistoric Gardens and think "What a rip-off." And then there are people like Matt and I, who can't resist paying our money to see what's behind the gate.

As we worked our way down the Oregon and California coasts, we stopped at the Prehistoric Gardens:

The Trees of Mystery:

And the Drive-Through Tree.

The verdict? Worth every penny. OK, I'm not entirely sure we got our $5 worth of fun out of the drive-through tree. There are only so many times you can go through before you become fairly blase about it being a large tree with a hole in for driving through.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Create Your Own Geologic Wonder

It's easy!

First, chose your favorite kitchen tool. Or really, any human-powered tool. It could be as simple as a spoon or as complex as an apple peeler.

Got that in your head? If your tool has more than one word (like Measuring Cup), simplify it to one (Cup). Good. Now, add "Devil's" before it. Devil's Cup. Devil's Grater. Devil's Churn. Congratulations! You could have been an Oregon coastal explorer.

Devil's Churn

Road Trip Day One

Spokane to Oceanside, Oregon:

We had lunch at the picnic grounds of the Maryhill Museum, which is infested with peacocks. Funny how you normally think of peacocks as decorative, elegant creatures. Until you're surrounded by seven or eight of them and you realize that those long elegant necks have sharp pointy beaks at the end.

We stopped to take some pictures of Rooster Rock, which has long been used as a navigation landmark on the Columbia River. Yes, Rooster Rock. Because it looks just like a great big... rooster.

Oceanside is a small village nestled into a steep, rocky hillside. Just offshore, there are several large rocks that are absolutely covered with birds. Gulls, cormorants, and pelicans could all be seen through our binoculars.

Dinner: Angels on horseback (oysters wrapped in bacon and fried); locally caught ling cod dredged in parmesan and pan-seared, served on a bed of fresh greens with a housemade caesar dressing; strawberry shortcake with fresh Hood River strawberries.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Galactic Birthday Cake

The power of selective hearing. She said she wanted galaxies on the cake; she got the solar system. Well, most of the solar system. Through Neptune, anyway.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

We might be coming to your town.

If your town is San Francisco or Las Vegas or Santa Fe or Moab, that is.

6 days and counting....

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Short Timer

The house sitters are ready to move in, lots of cat food will soon be on hand, and the last of our new plants will be in the ground by the end of the day. There is a road trip in our future -- two weeks in our future. I should be concentrating on work. I have a coffee table book that I need to finish, a direct mail piece to mock-up for the client, and empty Happy Meal boxes that require something self promotional and of actual interest to our clients.

Instead, I am configuring a company laptop for personal emergency use while on the road, making Google maps for each day's driving, and blogging checking the connectivity of said laptop by testing its airport connectivity. Oh, and flying over the terrain of our trip in Google Earth. That's important, too.

I'm slipping into short timer mode too early. Maybe I'll take an extra day just to make the vacation start that much sooner.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ginkgo Watch - May

Ginkgo Watch April 9While playing marmot paparazzi yesterday, I took Beth to meet my very bestest secret tree friend. The ginkgo is getting very green. The little buds that once radiated at regular intervals from their branches are now little fan leaves. It is nice to have a Ginkgo outside of a formal garden. Usually, you can't get close to them in those situations as they form the centerpiece of some garden trickery. Here, Beth could get close enough to show how green it really is.

David Sedaris Loves Marmots

It's true, actually. David Sedaris visited Spokane for the 2005 Get Lit! festival. The morning of his speaking engagement, he went for a walk downtown and encountered the herd of marmots that roams Riverfront Park, grazing and occasionally accosting passers-by for potato chips and cigarettes. Hey, these are urban marmots, baby.

That evening, Mr. Sedaris spoke briefly about the marmots. He explained that he got a haircut before the show, and asked the barber about the weird giant rodents wandering through the downtown park. The barber said that they were marmots, and essentially harmless as long as you didn't bogart the food.

And what do they eat? Sedaris asked.

The barber knew just what marmots eat. Marshmallows, he said. Marmots eat marshmallows.

I'm sure they would eat marshmallows, given the chance. Spokane Parks Department has begun a campaign to discourage feeding park wildlife and make the marmots more skittish around people, though. The marmots were beginning to resemble fuzzy toilet seat covers from all the handouts. It's difficult to pretend that you're maintaining a natural environment when you have a colony of obese marmots sprawled on the warm river rocks, Big Gulps propped up on their stomachs, handfuls of pork rinds stored in their little cheek pouches.

The feeding also had to stop because too many Spokane residents are not born naturalists. People loved to feed the small furry critters who would come right up to the restaurant patio or the picnic blanket and make big beseeching eyes and take the food right out of your hands and clutch it endearingly between little furry paws. Except some of those "marmots" had long, pink, snaky tails. Almost like, I don't know, wharf rats?

Awww. Cute!

Monday, May 14, 2007

What Else Could I Do?

My nephew loves Star Wars.

He also loves skateboards.

And he wanted a "chocolate cake with chocolate frosting" for his birthday.

Happy Birthday, bud. Love, Auntie Beth

More thoughts on cheese

Saunders Cheese Shop Beth and I often talk about businesses we might start when our 401L plan cashes in. The Really Good Craft Shop, The Really Good Deli, That One Place With The Good Food And The Good Prices, and The Cheese Shop.

When Beth and I first got married, she swept me into a great family tradition of traveling outside of Spokane for Thanksgiving (yes, I used "great", "travel" and "Thanksgiving" in the same sentence). In Boise, Idaho, we would walk over to the Boise Co-op and drool at their cheese selection, often buying more than we needed so we could bring it home. Soon after, Huckleberry's raised the cheese bar in Spokane providing a wider selection that was later emulated by several grocery chains. But none of them were a real cheese shop. "It's just what this town needs" we'd say. "Let's go buy another ticket."

The Saunders Cheese Market is a really great cheese shop. This is good because we can go shop there now, and because we have lots of other things to spend future lottery winnings on.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

Mom, you would have been exasperated today. I started crying in the Mother's Day service and had to leave halfway through to go sit in the gardens by myself.

And then I got distracted and started taking pictures of birds.

I miss you, Mom. I hope you and Nana and Gigi have found a fourth for bridge who doesn't mind the smoke from your Merits and you're having a fine old time. I hope you're not rolling your eyes over my making a scene in church. It's the same church where 200 people sang "Twist and Shout" for you, and I still feel a little tender on Sundays, remembering us all laughing and crying and twisting and wishing you could have seen it.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Best Lunch Ever

The cheese plate for two at Saunders Cheese Market:

Around the plate, starting at the 12:00 position:

- Pajerin 2 Latti (hiding behind the cup of olives)
- lightly toasted baguette
- Pecorino fresca
- green grapes
- salumetto
- grilled and marinated vegetables, including artichoke hearts, peppers, cippolini, and mushrooms
- Shropshire
- Marcona almonds
- Cerignola olives (center cup)

Trust the people behind the counter to pick your cheeses for you. Left to my own devices, I never would have picked the Pecorino fresca, but oh yum. Milder and creamier than a percorino romano, with an herb and olive oil rind, it was the best thing on the plate.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I'm working on a wavy afghan made up of random stripes of fancy yarns I bought with no real plan in mind. I have a bad case of the "ooo, pretty" and two yarn stores within a 10-block radius of the house. This afghan is an effort to display the yarn in a more decorative fashion than the current "skeins in cubbyholes and Rubbermaid totes and plastic bags" scheme.

It's also the project I work on instead of the one I'm supposed to be working on. I'm supposed to be working on my sister's afghan, which I gave her for Christmas. What I actually gave her for Christmas was a box full of loose squares, skeins of yarn, and a picture of the pattern. And then I took the box back, promising to bring it to her when we visit in June.

This afghan has become my nemesis. The "squares" are actually hexagons. The pattern was more difficult than it looked, including a woven border around each square. But mostly, it's the colors.

You see, my sister has a thing for the decorating themes of the late sixties and early seventies. She also has a thing for the music of Cat Stevens and macramed hempen jewelry, just to elaborate. Not that there is anything wrong with this. Except when my KnitPicks order arrived, with all the colors she had requested. When it was all dumped out of the box, it looked like 1973 had eaten one too many "special" carob brownies and heaved all over my table. Tommy Chong would reject this afghan as being too seventies, man. It is like a visual representation of patchouli stank.

So I'm avoiding it. But I can't much longer. I can't bring myself to give her the same box of squares as a baby shower gift. Looks like I'd better quit avoiding, and embrace my inner earth child. Man.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Monday, May 7, 2007

This is War.

Seventy or eighty years ago, a gardener planted a fir tree in our front yard. As gardening plans go, this was at best short-sighted. Fir trees root shallowly, spreading a circle of roots as wide as the tree is tall. But this tree only had enough room for a ten-foot-diameter root circle, surrounded as it was by sidewalks and asphalt.

The tree thrived, as they sometimes do in adverse conditions. It shades our house in the summer, and shields our front windows from the headlights of cars driving up the hill. But now experts have opinions about our tree. These experts call it dangerous. If it fell, it could hit our house. Or it could fall in the street and kill someone. It could even hit the power lines across the street, blow the transformer, and end up causing a blackout on the entire South Side.

These experts, to a one, think we should cut the tree down.

The tree is healthy, though. It lived through the ice storm of ten years ago, and the high winds last fall, with no damage.

But the tree does cause problems. It's a water pig. We don't get a lot of rain here - about 18 inches a year. The tree gleefully sucks down every drop. The grass in the front lawn struggles. The hostas I planted under the tree came up for four years in a row, but smaller and smaller each year. One didn't come up at all this spring, and the other two have become dwarf hostas. My front yard is becoming an unattractive wasteland.

Ha! say the experts. Now you really should cut it down!

So now I'm at war with the tree.

First, I had a long chat with the owner of Tower Perennial Gardens about planting in dry shade. I bought Dicentra eximia, Pulmonaria 'Diana Clare', Helleborus orientalis and foetidus, Heuchera 'Marmalade' and 'Caramel', Iris pallida 'Variegata', Epimedium colchicum, and Asarum europaeum.

Before I planted them, I filled each hole with a mixture of composted steer manure, Osmocote, and SoilMoist. These plants are entering a hostile environment - the least I can do is make sure they're properly protected. Finally, I watered each plant in with a dilute solution of rooting hormone. Then the whole bed was spread with a mulch of organic compost, and then a layer of bark to keep as much moisture in place as possible. Finally, fertilizer stakes formulated for evergreen trees were pushed into the ground at the tree's dripline. This should compensate for disturbing the shallow roots while we were digging in the new plants.

We'll have to step up the watering schedule under the tree this summer, and possibly next summer too, until the plants are established. It means a higher water bill, and economizing on other things. But the small sacrifices now will mean that our tree "war" might be won, without hurting or killing the tree.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Road Trip!

This weekend's road trip hardly qualified as such - really, we just wanted to get out of town while Bloomsday was being run. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that 40,000 people want to participate in a 12k road race through the middle of Spokane. I just don't want to be here while they do it.

So, early this morning we threw our bikes on the rack and headed an hour east to Cataldo, Idaho. There's a trailhead for the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, and if you ride east from the trailhead, you'll have many miles of paved, scenic, flat trail running along the Coeur d'Alene river.

(Gratuitous bike shot. I love my bike.)

The trail was deserted this morning, unless you count the deer, blue jays, chipmunks, turtles, meadowlarks, swallows, ducks, geese (with goslings!), and muskrat. And of course, like most of North Idaho, the trail is absolutely sick with scenery.

It's too bad we can't live someplace nice, with pretty things to look at.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Saturday Morning Breakfast

The winter doldrums are officially over on the Saturday morning that I wake up and suggest that we walk over to the Rockwood Bakery. We have a favorite route that meanders down the alleyways between big, old houses, and lets me peek into people's back gardens. (I am a shameless home and garden voyeur. People could be having a crazed orgy in full view of their front window and I would be all "Why won't they move so I can get a better look at the woodwork?")

Walking to the Rockwood in the spring sunshine was a popular pastime this morning, with a stroller traffic jam at the entry and a line to order coffee and pastries that ended right at the front door. To pass the time, I made friends with a small pug who happily clowned for the camera.

Quiche, coffee, a walnut shortbread, the newspaper and enough sunshine that I'm now noticing the slight pink sting on my shoulders. Finally, winter falls away and I remember that I belong outside.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Vegetable Soup

We joined a local CSA run by Tolstoy Farm a few years back. It was, and continues to be, a great way to make sure that you're buying the freshest local organic produce possible, supporting local farmers, etc. Notice I didn't say "eating," because the year we joined happened to be a bad year for farming. Except for beets. It was apparently the best year for beets EVER.

I hate beets.

Oh, I tried, to be certain. I pored over my copy of Greene on Greens. We had them roasted, grilled, borscht-ed, cold, hot, smothered in butter, swimming in sour cream. It doesn't matter. To my palate, beets = spicy dirt.

We finally admitted defeat and ended our CSA membership. We bought organic produce at the grocery store, and tried to remember to hit the Farmer's Market in the summer. Happily, there's now a better option.

Fresh Abundance delivers a box of organic produce to our doorstep every other Thursday. If there's something available from local farmers, it's in the box. If the box isn't well-rounded enough with the local produce, then organic produce from further afield is added. It strikes a neat balance between my desire for the freshest produce available, and my need to not be faced with a carton of beets.

Oh, and that's the best part. If you're a delivery customer, and you're getting the pre-built boxes, you can specify three kinds of produce you'd just as soon not see in your box. I have to admit to a maniacal cackle or two as I typed in "1. Beets 2. Beets 3. BEEEEETS."

Cats: Our Elegant Companions.

If by elegant, of course, you mean drooly.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Garbage Goat

GarbageGoat The Spokane Department of Parks and Recreation does a pretty good job of keeping Riverfront Park (and the other Spokane parks) clean. But no area of Riverfront Park is as clean as the 50 yards or so around the Garbage Goat.

Built for the '74 World's Fair, the Garbage Goat is a kid magnet. Finding themselves with an empty mini-donuts bag, parents bring their kids to the goat, hit the button and SNORT the bag is sucked up the goat's mouth and nose. Very young kids react with fright. A little older, and it is a frenzy of "What else will it eat!" Leaves? Yep. Stray drink lids found on the ground? Yep. Ticket stubs? Receipts from mom's purse? Dollar bills? Dirt? Small rocks? Timmy! Don't pull that out of the garbage can!? Yep, yep and yep.

And if you hang out around it for any amount of time, don't be surprised when you see a woman in a business suit slip the goat an apple core or a retiree feed the goat a plastic bag or three. There's something about shop-vac technology and a friendly goat that brings out the kid in everyone.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Now that you mention it....

Matt, whispering to me during the offertory at church today:

"Should the pianist really be playing the theme music from 'The Sting' during this?"

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Oldest House in Spokane

It's amazing how often it happens. A perfect stranger walks up to us in the grocery store, at Miller's Hardware, or in the park and says "You're those people! With that house!"

It's true. We are the people with that house. That house on the corner that you've driven by a million times, the house that you've always wondered what it's like inside, the house that looks like someone's fixing it up (very slowly).

The fun part of the conversation is what inevitably comes next, though. The "I heard..." part of the conversation. Because the Charming Wreck is so visible, stories have sprung up around it like bindweed. Total strangers have pulled into our driveway to tell us what we should know about our house. Like that it was the first house in Spokane with electricity. (It wasn't.) Or that there's a secret room in the basement. (There isn't.)

Today, though, we heard a new one. "You're the people! With that house! I heard it's the oldest house in Spokane!" Whoa. Since the Spokane House trading post was built in 1810, and the Charming Wreck was built in 1922, we really can't lay claim to that particular superlative.

This is going to be a hard rumor to quash, though. Apparently, the people who asked us heard it from their kids, who attend the elementary school across the street. I just know that there are groups of kids at recess telling the younger ones hair-raising tales of the old house ("The Oldest!") built on a Indian burial ground ("For reals!") haunted by a crazy old lady ("like, two hundred years old!") who eats kids.

Probably explains why we never get any trick-or-treaters.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Recently Obsessed

I love luxury yarns, merino and mohair and silk and cashmere. I browse in my yarn shop for hours, petting the lovely, expensive skeins.

And then I buy Lily Sugar and Cream worsted cotton, and crochet dishcloths. Something about their cheerful utility appeals to me. That, and I can finish one during a night of television watching.

I have skeins and skeins of the good stuff, the pricey stuff patiently waiting for me to be finished with my dishrag fling. Maybe after just one more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Using Nearly-Dead Bananas

We belong to Fresh Abundance, which delivers a box of organic produce every other week. Often, there are bananas. Mostly, they get ignored until they're jam in a banana skin.

At that point, it's either throw them out or make a banana cake. Throwing them out would be boring to write about, so cake it is. I really like the "Banana Coffee Cake" from Beth Hensperger's The Best Quick Breads. I've made a few adaptations, because a) the original recipe calls for nuts, and nothing ruins a cake for Matt like nuts and b) I am categorically incapable of using a recipe as printed.

Banana Coffee Cake

3/4 cup room temperature butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag chocolate chips
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan, or a "fluted tube pan" if you fear trademark infringement. If you are a crazy person like me and inexplicably want to take a picture of all your ingredients gathered together, now would be the time.

2.Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the sour cream, bananas, and vanilla, and beat until just smooth.

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and soda. Gradually add the mixture to the banana goo and beat well until the batter is fluffy and thick, with no lumps or dry spots. Stir in about half of the bag of chocolate chips.

4. Combine half of the remaining chocolate chips with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour about half of the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with half of the chocolate chip mixture. Spoon the remaining batter into the pan, and then sprinkle the top with the remaining chocolate chip mix.

5. Bake for 55 - 60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake stand in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out on a rack to cool.

6. When cool, melt remaining chocolate chips with a tablespoon or two of butter, and drizzle over the top of the cake.

If you're not in the mood for chocolate -- I do not pretend to understand this, but apparently this is a state that exists -- replace the chocolate chips with coarsely chopped dried apricots, the vanilla with finely grated lemon zest, and glaze the cake with 2 cups of powdered sugar with enough lemon juice stirred in to make a runny icing.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Road Trip!

One of my favorite ways to spend a long Spring weekend is by driving over to Seattle. As much as I love living in Spokane, there are some things that you just can't get here, like good Italian food and Beecher's macaroni and cheese and movies at the Cinerama and $24 parking.

As road trips go, it's not terribly arduous - four to five hours, depending on traffic, weather, etc. And it's a beautiful drive, passing through basalt rock formations; sagebrush deserts; fields of canola, potatoes, wheat, oats, barley, and peppermint; and finally through the heart of the Cascade mountains.

The drive home never seems quite as scenic - maybe the subtle beauty of the Columbia plateau suffers when you've just left the nigh-garish spectacle of snowy peaks meeting blue ocean. Or maybe we're just tired from all the walking and eating and shopping and eating. Regardless, the rest stop at the Ryegrass summit always seems lovely to me, because it means that we are halfway home.

Ginkgo Watch

Ginkgo Watch April 9My favorite kind of tree is the Ginkgo. Someday, I will have one in my backyard. Perhaps with some bamboo friends to keep it company while I am at work (bamboo being my favorite woody perennial evergreen plant in the true grass family (thank you Wikipedia)).

Late last year, I discovered a Ginkgo in Riverfront Park. It is now my very bestest secret tree friend. Or, at the very least, a tree I say hi to whenever I walk by. It is only just starting to show green leaf buds right now, but I'll save that for a later ginkgo update (as none of the pictures I took today were worth publishing).

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Joint Craft Project

For Easter gifts for our nieblings, Matt and I made animals from Aranzi Aronzo's The Cute Book. (Matt made all the little animals, and I hid their nakey-ness with crocheted scarves.)

Here they are, taking a moment to run in slow-motion through the violets before they have to climb into Easter baskets.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and Happy Spring to everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Miller's Hardware

Terry Pratchett writes about L-space, the ability of books in large quantity to warp time and space around themselves. If you've ever spent time in a sufficiently old used bookshop, you'll be familiar with the phenomenon of the shop that appears tiny from the outside, and yet seems to have miles upon miles of bookshelves inside.

Miller's Hardware, on 29th and Regal, seems to operate under a similar loosening of the normal time-space rules. It is small and dark and cluttered, without the 20-foot ceilings and rows of shopping carts that most of us expect when we walk in a big box home store. And yet, whenever we need something for the Charming Wreck, Miller's has it. Doesn't matter what we ask for - parts for our old stove, fuses, an angle grinder, galvanized boot trays, replacement Christmas tree light bulbs, vacuum bags. Miller's has it. What's more, they employ people who know where the stock is, and better, know what it's all for. As a bonus, they know people. People who do esoteric things, like sharpen mower blades or work on old hot water heating systems or fix snowblowers. If you're not wired into the network of wily old guys who know how to do stuff, shopping at Miller's is the next best thing.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Breakfast at the Old European

The menus at the Old European used to be much longer, with lengthy explanations of just how "European" everything on the menu was. Pancakes? European. Fried Egg Sandwich? European. Coffee? European. Punchline of a moderately filthy joke I used to tell in grade school? European.

The new menus are now succinct and to the point, without the long apocryphal origin stories. The giant mounds of food remain the same, however: witness the "Goulash." 4 eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, ham, peppers, cheese, and tomatoes in a glorious mound of hangover-curing, weekend-starting, greasy goodness - just the thing to get Matt fueled up for a fun day of basement renovations.

Honestly, though, the real reason to go to Old European is for the aebelskivers. A cross between a pancake and a doughnut, these little balls of doughy goodness are possibly the most genuinely European dish on the menu.

The service at the Old European is usually scattered and a little surly. But in the current age of "Hi! My name's Chad and I'm going to sit in your lap and tell you about the specials and put my hand on your shoulder and forge a special, special friendship with you today!" I honestly don't mind a little snarl with my coffee, as long as the coffee keeps coming.

Friday, March 30, 2007

If they could only combine the vibrating chair and the hot tub...

The downtown Home and Garden show usually serves as our official spring wakeup call. Walk around and kick the tires on some shrubs, chat with tree service people, discover a new toy, sit on a lawn tractor or two, and suddenly we're ready to start playing outside again. Or at least ready to spread mulch and manure.

Unfortunately, the home show this year was short on inspiration and long on hot tubs. Which, hey, who doesn't love a hot tub or ten, but in our teensy back yard, we'd have to stand in the hot tub in order to barbecue or prune the lilac. So no hot tub.

This year's show also offered a large number of vibrating things. These booths were by far the most popular. People crowded around to be next in line for hot vibrating action. People who visit this blog after googling "hot vibrating action" are going to be sadly disappointed.

Maybe we should have given in to the siren call of the vibrating chairs. The people in them certainly looked content. Or maybe we should invent a vibrating hot tub chair and have next year's most popular booth. It would certainly beat spreading manure.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Walking to Work

I work 1.2 miles from my home, a fact I know only from the Gmap Pedometer. If it weren't for that, I'd simply work 15 minutes away on foot, a rough fact learned by walking the route somewhat regularly.

I live 1.2 miles from my office. Same fact, different direction. Following the same route, my home is a 20-25 minute walk from work, again learned by walking the route. The time difference isn't from my energy level early in the morning and late in the day (my job is not very strenuous). The difference is the hill. Walking down vs. walking up.

Walking down is a joy. Spokane's south hill rises steeply between 7th and what would be 10th Avenue. But 10th is known as Cliff Avenue for good reason. At the crest of this short, steep hill, you can see the whole of downtown from above. The new Convention Center and the Performing Arts Center. The Paulson Building. The Davenport Hotel and the new Davenport Tower. The other tall buildings, most named after banks. Riverfront Park and the Pavilion. The river. And beyond the river to the Courthouse and the north side. On a clear day, you can see Mount Spokane. Heck, Mount Spokane is so close, you can often see it on a hazy day as well.

And just a few minutes later, you're in the middle of it.

As you can probably guess, I have made the walk down the hill more often than the walk up. Coming home, I almost always take the bus. The ride takes 3-4 minutes and drops me off right across the street from my house. It would take me longer to drive myself and find parking.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my maximum, worst-case-scenario, total daily commute is never more than 40 minutes. And that is one of the many reasons why I love living in Spokane.