Thursday, August 20, 2009

Observed at Fred Meyer 7/3/09

True story...on FridayJohn Baker takes me to the big Fred Meyer store--a big box supermarket that sells everything from furniture and toilet brushes to steaks, veggies and Dentyne.  I bought "stuff" such as plastic tumblers to drink from in the back yard, two hoses, a sprinkler, a nozzle, shower curtains for the clawfoot tub--you know--"stuff."  We get to the check out counter and there's this 50-something Pocahantas-type lady with two enormous braids scanning a huge amount of items for a young couple ahead of me.  She's moving at a snail's pace, and telling the couple her sordid life story.  The deadbeat husband, the deadbeat ex-husband, the idiot kids that are failing in school....yada, yada, yada.  I'm a stranger in a strange land and I have a Type-A personality, and gossip girl is beginning to fray my nerves.  I turn to John and say, "she kidding, isn't she?"  He said, "No. You see this often here."  I tapped on the guy ahead of me, and told him I had just relocated from New York , and if "gossip girl" did that in Manhattan , she would be killed immediately!  Well you would have thought I had just sprayed him with a slew of Rodney Dangerfield jokes.  He started laughing and laughing and couldn't stop.  He did recover long enough to say that this is the norm in Portland , and that I'll have to learn to live with it.  


Anyway, you see a lot of this in Portland .  Unfailing politeness that drives me crazy.  I asked a young kid where the bus stop was in the Woodstock area where I was shopping today.  He stopped...paused...and said, "Well that depends on where you are going.  The #19 stops downtown, and the #75 goes to 39th and Holgate, but if you want to go somewhere else, that's a whole different route."   About 30 seconds into his reverie, I simply interrupted him, and said, "Where's the closest bus stop!"   I thought New Yorkers were notorious for giving bad directions.  They are worse here.  I asked four people where the local Chase bank was and got four different answers.  My lawyer called me today and when I told him I needed a Valium, he said that was old school--I need to start taking something like Zanax.  


I'm getting a strong feeling that a car is going to be necessary here.  Beau doesn't have the stamina for long walks, and even though it was cool here yesterday and today, he will start to pant after the fourth or fifth block.  That's the problem with snub-nosed dogs.  I get no exercise because he's constantly stopping to catch his breath or to snoop around shrub to pee.  I'm looking at driving schools since I haven't driven in about forty years.  Pray for the poor drivers who get in my way.


In the meantime, I did buy a bike!  It is due to be delivered tonight.  I found this great bike store and purchased a re-vamped Raleigh mountain bike with city tires.  Don't ask.  I certainly don't know much about these things.  Apparently much has happened engineering-wise with bicycles since my childhood Schwinn.  I have added a commodious basket for Beau to sit in on the handlebars, a double-basket holder for groceries and other shopping items, a rearview mirror, and an industrial strength lock.  Today I'll look for a helmet (required by law here).  Good exercise if I don't get myself killed in the process.  


On the plane out here, I met a young man sitting next to me.  We got talking and as the trip went on, he revealed himself to be a funny and friendly guy.  He works as a fundraiser for Portland State Univeristy and He and his partner live in the North West section of the city in a large house with two dogs.  He loved meeting Beau, and we exchanged cards with the promise to stay in touch.  I wrote him an e-mail and he responded.  I invited him and his partner to come and see the house and have a drink.  He wrote back and revealed that he actually has THREE partners and they all share a big house and have been together for five years!  IN PORTLAND .  In 38 years of living in provincial old New York , I never heard of an arrangement like this!!!


I installed a security system in the house and forgot to turn it on when I went to bed last night.  It's awfully complicated.  Every time I open a either of the kitchen or dining room doors, a disembodied voice announces the door is open.  


My new Weber grill arrived yesterday--in a thousand pieces.  I have to put this thing together.  I'm not good at assembling things.  I may need help.  But it's an awfully pretty grill--dark green enamel and stainless steel.  If I get it together, I still can't use it.  Got to get a propane tank for it.  


Trader Joe's is only five blocks from my house.  And they sell wine there too--all under one roof and there are no lines at the checkout counter (I'm told it gets busy on Sundays there).   I bought a lavender plant (very common out here) yesterday.  Now I have to buy a shovel so I can plant it. 


Soapbox #1:  I'm sick to death of Sarah Palin (quel surprise!).  I'm appalled the media gives this village idiot so much space and time.  If that's the best the GOP can do, they deserve their 40 years in the wilderness.


Soapbox #2:  The New York Times dining section reaches a new low this week.  Frank Bruni is writing a serious article about artisanal pizza.  One of the places charges $34 for a pizza (cash only!).   As Maryann says--pizza is dough, cheese, tomato sauce, maybe some basil and maybe pepperoni.  I'll add one more thing to that:  everything else about pizza is hot air.


Soapbox #3:  Thank god the Michael Jackson funeral circus is somewhat over.  I love how the media is portraying the king of pop as a great father (remember when he almost dumped one of his kids out of a balcony window?).  I missed the funeral thank god.  He was an amazing talent who turned very, very creepy and in our insane culture, he now gets to be deified.  


Off to wash another load of laundry!

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