Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Feels Like Fall

When you buy a house, there are lots of things you need for the new homestead. And lord knows I've plunked down a hefty amount of cash for new rugs, window treatments, furniture, appliances, and other finishing touches. But besides the nausea that comes with paying the bills, there's a recent retailer issue that I find obnoxious. Nearly every establishment you purchase something from wants to know what your shopping experience was like with them! What's up with that??? If I was unhappy don't they think I would let them know about it? Why am I sent endless surveys to share with them if I liked the product, the service, the convenience, the attention to detail. Were my needs met? Was the delivery prompt? Was there a chocolate left on my pillow? Over the past twenty years, the retail business has gone insane. And they have preyed on people with credit cards. Now they are asking for therapy? Did you love us? I'd love it a lot more if they stopped clogging up my email inbox with a lot of "offers," and made sure the quality of their product was top notch and stop driving me nuts with their needy surveys! Just a few days ago a woman called me to inquire if I was satisfied with my new garage door and asked me if I had received their survey in the mail. "Yes," I replied to both questions. "Well would you be kind enough to fill in the survey and mail it back to them?" I kinda snapped at her in a very tight voice saying I didn't have the time to fill in all the surveys companies are sending me. She then worked on my guilt, telling me it was for the benefit of the guy who had done the installation. In other words she wasn't taking no for an answer! I'll bet you the survey doesn't ask me what I thought of the price of that new garage door!

Even the magazines are at it. Martha Stewart is sending me emails about her magazine covers. Which holiday cover shot do I prefer? Isn't that what they pay her the big bucks to figure out?

Fall has arrived and at first, it took me by surprise. The temperatures dropped, the sky turned gray and then it finally began to rain--in earnest on Saturday. By about 1:00 PM, it stopped and the skies got very sunny and I decided to give Beau a good walk. As I headed out my driveway, I was struck by the sudden appearance of fall colors in the bushes in the park across the street. As I walked up my block, I turned into one particularly pretty row of houses and there I found fall colors--gold, yellow, red--as gorgeous as anything I've seen in New England or Upstate New York! Don't know why I was surprised. But the effect of this change is delightful.

Gave a talk about book publicity to the publishing students at Portland State University for my PubWest buddy, Kent Watson last Thursday. He's got a good sized class of attentive students who really seemed to like my war stories. Then he sent me appraisals from the students. I was delightedly surprised to find how much they enjoyed my comic tales of survival in the book business.

Attended a fund raiser for a professional friend to raise money for autistic children last Saturday as a guest of new Portland friends, Ruth and Alan Cenofante. Impulsively, I bought a quilt. It's a beautiful thing and it was for a good cause. Later a bunch of us landed at a terrific wine bar called Pour, not too far from Irvington in the NE section of the city. Portland has lots of fun bars and taverns in every neighborhood where people socialize. I'm met other people from previous evenings with Alan and Ruth, and I'm finding it very easy to make friends here.

My buddy, Pat Reshen arrived on Thursday afternoon and immediately started sneezing. She couldn't stop. I thought perhaps it might have been the histamines in the wine, but clearly she was having some sort of allergic reaction. I dispatched my brother Doug, who has been staying with me for three weeks now, to get her some Sudafed. It worked. But she's been feeling punk since she got here. Instead of doing a lot of touristy things, we managed to stay close to home. Not a bad idea because Saturday turned into a mini-monsoon here with heavy rains alternating with some sun and more rain. I baked a pear crostada (with orange, vanilla and nutmeg) on Saturday afternoon while we watched THE PAINTED VEIL--a lovely movie with Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, which I had somehow missed. Since it's fall, I'm in the mood for heartier fare. I love red cabbage braised with vinegar and bacon, a recipe I found years ago in THE NEW BASICS COOKBOOK by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins. It has tart apples, red wine vinegar and red wine, caraway seeds, thyme, and golden raisins to the cabbage, onions and bacon mixture. Its' so good, I can eat it out of the refrigerator cold. I make it every fall and it never disappoints. Because we stayed home, I grilled some excellent sweet Italian sausages on the new Weber, and we had roasted carrots from the farmer's market which were orange and cranberry red and tasted sensational with a handful of chopped chives. Pencil asparagus, which had been parboiled and then warmed with a little butter, salt and pepper completed our Autumn feast.

My brother has been house-hunting here in Portland, and by now has thoroughly overstayed his welcome. Well three and a half weeks is a bit much. I'm glad Pat was here to keep the mood light. But it does prove the old adage about house guests and stinking fish! On Wednesday, Beau and I will be alone at last, and while I think we're going hiking in a relatively easy trail in the Columbia gorge, and I've promised to help a friend do some furniture shopping next Saturday, the balance of my week looks promisingly empty of social obligations. Oh goody!

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