06 December 2007

Good food, good company, medical fu, and the storm of the century, again

After Thanksgiving, Jer and I hunkered down in an effort to focus on his prostate cancer diagnosis and the pros and cons of various treatment modalities. If there's such a thing as too much information (and I know from my past professional life that there can be), Planet PC and the dense atmosphere of contacts, articles, software tools and discussion forums that surrounds it is a fine example. Not that we're complaining. We're just beginning to thread our way through all this, and I'll keep you posted.

A couple of powerful storms -- wind, rain, enormous destruction out toward the coast and elsewhere in the state, though Portland was spared the worst -- gave us even more reason to hunker down. Monday we bore the brunt of it. That morning we walked down to Johnson Creek right around the time it hit flood stage. The water looked like chocolate milk in a blender. Forgot my camera; dang. I took this pic about 24 hours later, after the water had subsided several feet. It was still pretty impressive.

On a totally different subject, we had dinner last night at Toro Bravo with our friend Adele. Man, was that good. It's tapas, with small plates ranging from $2 to $8, and larger, meatier dishes in the $10 to $14 range, plus paella at $18 and fideos at $19. The catch, of course, is that the menu's structured to encourage you to order several dishes, not just an app and an entree. We definitely over-ordered but, even with cocktails, wine and dessert all around, our bill was commensurate with what you'd pay in a middlin' nice white tablecloth place like Lauro Kitchen, Fife or Castagna. Among the three of us, we ate marinated sheep's cheese with rose petal harissa and mint; fried anchovies with fennel and lemon; boar rillettes with orange marmalade and caramelized onions; griddled bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with almonds; chicken and pork croquettes with salsa verde & roja; lamb and fig stew with toasted couscous; and Moroccan marinated tuna with dried cherry and apricot couscous. For dessert we shared around molten chocolate cake, lemon curd crepes, and housemade almond ice cream with espresso. Must go back; there's so much more to try!

Lunch today was non-trivial, also. My fiber arts group STASH met at the Contemporary Craft Museum and then walked down to Park Kitchen for lunch. Mine was a radicchio salad with pomegranate seeds, butternut squash, and goat cheese. It was exactly what I wanted after several days of not enough green veggies -- although, come to think of it, nothing in my salad was actually green. Our waitperson literally bent over backwards to get a group shot.

Inertia is a powerful force in my life this time of year; all I want to do is stay inside and cocoon. So I took advantage of our scheduled outing to check out not only the exquisitely creepy Kurt Weiser ceramics at Contemporary Craft, which I've been wanting to see since the exhibit opened in October, but also the Chuck Close (I always want to say Glenn Close) show at "the" Portland Art Museum. I saw his paintings at MOMA in New York years ago. His work doesn't move me emotionally -- I'll never forget my friend Linda, who's a painter married to a painter, dragging Paula and me downstairs to the Cezanne exhibit that was on at the same time, saying "Here! Here's a painter!!" -- but the various print processes he's experimented with add layers of complexity and interest. To me Close is all about technique, but the obsessiveness with which he goes about exploring the possibilities is fascinating in itself.

After lunch I stopped in at Lumen Essence, next door to Park Kitchen, and got to schmooze with our friend Larry for a while. Then I sauntered up to Portland's so-called Fiber Arts District, half a dozen fabric, yarn and embellishment stores spread out along SW 11th in the vicinity of Taylor and Alder Sts., and bought a few inconsequential, mostly cat-themed, things along the way. I totally forgot to get my parking lot ticket validated anywhere, which was moderately annoying and something I'd rag on Jerry for neglecting to do. My bad.

Now I'm home with a cat on my lap. Often, this time of the evening, we can declare kitty bingo -- three in a row, not counting humans. (Thanks to Rubi for pointing out the phenomenon and the terminology to describe it.) While I was gone, Jerry vacuumed the rugs and cleaned the bathtub grout, in addition to putting together a turkey chili that's starting to emanate (is that a transitive verb?) good smells from the kitchen. Maybe I should leave the house more often. Nah.

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