10 August 2007

The road goes on forever, the party never ends

It's been a full and satisfying couple of days. Yesterday we had a visit from my ex-sister-in-law, Sheri, her husband Mark, and their almost-three-year-old, Josh's half-brother Matthew. Jer hadn't met Mark before, and neither of us had met Matthew, who's very blond, sweet and funny, and of course adorable. I served two salads for lunch -- smoked chicken with blue cheese, peaches, hazelnuts and greens; and broccoli with whole-wheat rotini, peanuts, scallions and a vaguely Asian dressing. The former in particular was a winner.

After we ate, I led Sheri and Matthew to Berkeley Park while Mark and Jer did guy-talk for a while. The park is just a couple of blocks away and we often stroll through it on our daily walks, but this was the first time in the two years we've lived in the neighborhood that I had an opportunity, or a reason, to focus on the playground aspect. While Sheri and I attempted to carry on a conversation, Matthew went happily from climbing structure to sliding board to bouncy chairs to swings to rings and back to climbing structure. Repeatedly.

After they got back on the road and we (by which I include the cats) had recovered from all that toddler energy, Jer and I went to dinner at Nostrana. I've been wanting to check that place out for ages, and we finally got there. It did not disappoint. We shared an heirloom tomato/mozzarella/basil salad, one of my favorite combinations. I ordered an eggplant, chickpea and farro soup, which was quite tasty, and Jerry had a fish dish the details of which escape me, but it involved a great deal of butter and was exquisitely delicious. My entree was pizza with caramelized onions; I took almost half of it home and am looking forward to having it for dinner tomorrow. For dessert we'd preordered the berry-nectarine crisp, which took 20 minutes to prepare and was served hot, with almond cream poured over it at the table. Oh my. It sounds like a lot of food, and I suppose it was, but we didn't feel stuffed; it was Just Right. I look forward to going back.

Jer was off to Denver for a conference at dark o'clock this morning. Ironically, his takeoff was delayed almost three hours; had we known, he could have gotten a normal night's sleep. My day was incredibly productive in a boring, low-key, checkbook-balancing kind of way. I made a run over to Jeannette's to pick up some crocosmia and "Autumn gold" sedum that she'd culled from her garden. Now I must ponder where to stick 'em in ours. Then I sat in the back yard for a while and finished Bee Season, a remarkable book. I'd enjoyed the movie and wondered how much more there was to the story; now I know.

Around 6:30, I headed toward the Bite of Oregon festival at Waterfront Park. Last year we attended this event thinking it would be all about Portland's top restaurants offering savory snacks; nope, that's Taste of the Nation, which is about 10 times more expensive to attend, but worth it. Bite is much more corporate/mass market, but the entertainment this year is top-notch. The draw for me was Robert Earl Keen, but I got there in time for Todd Snider's set, and he was a revelation. A home-town boy (well, Beaverton), based in Nashville now, with a funny (though, I suspect, scripted) rap and some great original songs.

Keen rocked; I titled this post after the song he did for his encore. The audience let him go after just one because it simply couldn't be topped -- except, perhaps, by a full-out fireworks display, which began on the final downbeat. Perfect timing! I watched most of it from the walkway on the west side of the river, directly opposite the barge, took a dozen or so photos (I like the shakey one; it's, uh, dynamic), then walked back across the Hawthorne Bridge to where I'd parked the del Sol. She and I were home in less than 15 minutes. Lordy, I love this town.

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