Tales of a wandering lesbian

Category — Portland

Poco a poco

One of the first things I learned in high school Spanish was the phrase “poco a poco se va lejos.”  It means, “little by little, one goes far.”

Over the last few days I’ve taken a lot of little steps.  I purchased a pack and a new sleeping bag.  I picked up a new pair of walking shoes – after 8 years – and even a pair of fast drying underwear.  Fancy.

Right now, I’m typing on a new netbook, one that I think will work wonderfully for keeping in touch and updating MidLeap as I travel around.

I don’t know that I’ve ever purchased so many new things in one weekend.  It makes me vaguely uneasy.  I think it’s because it reminds me of the consumerist life I used to live.  Still, I’ve purchased a handful of things that I will be depending on every day for the next while, and I know they’ll help me in my grand adventure.

The thing I had the hardest time purchasing was my plane ticket.  That’s taken a while.  I’ve put it off because I have a lot to do.  I’ve put it off to work in the yard.  I’ve put it off because I wanted to play RockBand.  Today, I stopped putting it off.  Once I clicked the “submit” button, I felt a great relief.  But in the days leading up to it, I had a hard time figuring out why I was delaying.

Today I realized that the plane ticket was the last thing keeping me from moving forward…well, the last thing, aside from me.

I have great ideas almost daily.  Inspiration is never far off for me.  It’s the follow-through I struggle with.  I’d love to be part of a think-tank, developing fantastic, cutting-edge ideas, or an inventor, creating new things – and handing them to a team for implementation.

My decision to change the direction of my life isn’t totally out-of-the-ordinary for me.  My follow-through is.  When I bought my plane ticket today, it was a breakthrough moment.  I literally felt the push-back as I moved from the world where I have held myself back, into the world where all there is is opportunity, and support and love.

I know that my friends and family have always supported me in whatever it is I’ve done.  For the first time, maybe, I feel like I’m supporting me, too.  Now it’s time to see just how far I can go.

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October 11, 2009   2 Comments

Yasou!

I am exactly 1/8 Greek.  I was brought up, however, approximately 120% Greek and 110% Italian, depending on the day.  You see, the Greeks invented math, so we get to change the rules.

My grandfather is 1/2 Greek, but I think he’s pretty much all Greek.  Because his mom was from France, he wasn’t allowed to attend the Greek Orthodox church, or the Greek School at the church.  Well, they let him attend, but they wouldn’t speak Greek to him.  So, he is still making up for it.

When I was a kid, my mother made amazing Greek food.  We had a small group of Greek folks in our town of 3000.  That meant that the neighbors would show up to summer bbq’s with tiropita (cheese pies), and there was a Greek festival at the local Greek restaurant.  Yummy.  My dad would wear a funny hat that had a Greek soldier and the word “Yasou!” on it.  Yasou means literally, God is great, and is used as a type of greeting.  I can still hear “Yasou” hurled through the air as friends joined the festival.

Kulourikia

When I moved to Portland for college, I had no idea there was a rather large Greek community here.  Every year when the leaves start to change, I start getting excited for the Portland Greek Festival.  It’s held every October on the grounds of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.  Being away from home, the festival always makes me feel better.  When I’m there, I’m not the only one with bushy eyebrows or big hair.  I don’t have the huskiest voice, and I’m not the only one gesturing wildly.  In fact, I’m pretty mild in comparison.  (I know, hard to believe.)

Olives Cheese and Spanikopita

Today, I’m sitting in front of the computer eating leftovers from the festival (a first – I can’t remember ever having leftovers), and remembering the olive-pit-spitting contest from the little festival in Ketchum Idaho.  I’m also wondering if the next time I have Greek food it will be in Greece, and whether it will be at the Plaka in Athens, or a little village on an island.  It makes me giggle.  Yasou! indeed.

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October 7, 2009   6 Comments

That’s it!

Things are starting to wind down for me at work.  Not that they’re getting any easier or that there’s any slowing of the work.  It’s just that the end is in sight, and now I’m starting to reflect a little.

I remember the final day of my last office job.  When I left , it wasn’t under the most smiley of circumstances.  In fact, I’m still not sure, almost five years later, what happened.  Still, my last day had one especially humorous moment.  It was someone else’s birthday, and I think someone must have realized, part way through the afternoon, that it was my last day, too.    When we gathered to celebrate, it became an impromptu going away as well, complete with cake.

When I first saw the cake, I laughed out loud.  Someone had scrambled to find some frosting and converted the birthday cake into a going away cake.  Because it was freehand and last-minute, I thought (as did other staffers) that the wobbly writing read “That’s it Kristin!”  I read it out loud and laughed.  It was deliciously apropriate.  Once the cake was on the table, we realized that it said “Thanks Kristin!”  But  the damage was already done.  We still refer to it as the “That’s it! cake”.

Tomorrow, my office is having a going away lunch for me.  It’s very sweet.  When I walk out the door next Friday, I’ll be leaving them 3 and a half staff members short.  And they’re making me a party.  Well, I’ll let you know what they make me, exactly.  We’re having a staff meeting directly before lunch where the other staff members will find out which of my job duties they will be taking on.  I’m hoping to escape without someone throwing something at me.

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September 16, 2009   4 Comments

My Keyring

I realized that keys are power when I was in High School. It was right around the time I nicked the master key to the schools in the district and made myself a copy. That key lived secretly on my keyring for three years, allowing me access to every room in the school. For a high school kid, that’s serious power.

I was reminded of that this week when, one morning while locking the house on the way to work, I realized how light my keyring had grown. I only carry keys – no fobs or gadgets – just keys. Until about a week ago, I had probably7 or 8 keys on a couple of connected rings. When I looked down at them this week, I realized that they had started dwindling. Leigh took the key to the garage off my ring, as I won’t really be needing it anymore. As soon as my house closes, I’ll be losing my house key, and mail key. I have two keys for work, which will be ending in two weeks. That just leaves the key to Leigh’s house, and the one for my bike lock – neither of which I’ll need on my trip.

I’ve had a hefty key ring for the last 15 years of my life. Makes me wonder a bit what it will be like not to have a car key, a house key, or an office key – at all. Interesting how powerful symbols are. I know I won’t have the car, house or office, but the loss of the keys really hit home. “Hit home.” That’s funny.

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September 13, 2009   3 Comments

Waffles, and Hashbrowns, and Biscuits – Oh My!

Every couple of weeks, Leigh and I find ourselves venturing out to one of Portland’s great breakfast spots. There are so many, that we never run out of new places to try. Even when we think we’ve experienced a place, it’ll do something new, like open a take-out window.

Take, for example, the Waffle Window at the Bread & Ink Cafe. I’ve never been a huge fan of the cafe itself, but the Waffle Window is inspired.

It is literally a walk-up window in the side of a building where you order plates of the most amazing Belgian waffles ever.

Waffle Window

You can just see the outdoor seating area to the right of the window.  Families were bundled up, making love to their waffles on the picnic tables.

Leigh and I went a couple of weeks ago to see what the hype was about.

Now, don’t worry.  We still love Flavour Spot.  These waffles are different.  I’m starting to see waffles the way I see pasta.  There are endless, delicious ways to prepare and top these wonderful carbs.  I don’t want to limit myself by having a favorite.

When Leigh and I try a new place, we maximize our experience, so we will often each order something, and then split another item. Despite the size of the plates emerging from the Waffle Window, Leigh ordered the “not-a-waffle” biscuit and gravy, I ordered a fabulous seasonal waffle featuring huckleberries, blueberry compote, panna cotta and fresh whipped cream. Then, just for good measure, we shared a Nutella and Fresh Banana waffle. (It also had fudge and whipped cream.)

Waffle Goodness

Um, yeah.  These were good.  Really good.

The berry waffle was amazing.  Fresh huckleberries and lemon are wonderful together, and the panna cotta and whipped cream sauce were light, sweet and went down like a dream.

I didn’t try the gravy (it was sausage), but Leigh was a fan.  It was a big biscuit and a hefty portion of gravy.  Looked good.

This isn’t scientific, but I have found that anything containing Nutella is approximately 3x as delicious as anything else.  Paired with bananas, and the fresh whipped cream, this waffle was downright yummy.

I’ve neglected to mention that these waffles are coated in sugar.  Yup.  You know, because the waffles themselves and the toppings aren’t enough.  (I totally support this.)

So, in the end, the Waffle Window deserves the hype it’s been getting.  These are super-tasty and not super-spendy.  Go give ’em a try while the weather is still good.  Waffle love-making just gets sloppy in the winter.

This weekend, we headed to Pine State Biscuits on Belmont, another place that we’ve been meaning to try, and that’s been getting a lot of hype.

This place is also deserving of the hype.

Pine State Biscuits

Pretty much anyplace you go to for breakfast in Portland will have a line.  But when you find a place with a line at least half a block long, it’s a pretty good sign you’ve found a winner.

Pine State Biscuits is a small place.  It has exactly three tables and a bar with 5 stools.

Pine State Counter

The Tripple Nickel bar next door has some nasty old picnic benches outside that accommodate breakfast-goers, desperate to dig into their biscuit sandwiches and hashbrowns.  This morning, we were lucky enough to find a place inside, though we’d already ordered to-go.

Today, I ordered the “Vegeterian Moneyball” – a biscuit and shitake gravy with a fried egg on top – and Leigh ordered a simple egg and cheese biscuit.  To share, we had a veggie “hash-up” – hashbrowns with onions, mushrooms and cheese.  Awesome.

Biscuit SandwichShitake "Moneyball"Hash-Up

When we got our food, we thought we’d need all three of the to-go boxes for leftovers.  Truth be told, there wasn’t much left to take with us.  Just enough for each of us to have a couple of bites at lunch.  Several of the folks around us had amazing-looking biscuit sandwiches that included fried chicken and gravy.  Intense.

Being from the south, Leigh can be a little persnickity about her biscuits.  Today, she was happy.  These were flaky and lovely.  I found the veggie gravy to be at least as good as that at Gravy and Tin Shed, two standards in Portland.

Next time we go back, we’ll try the collard greens, grits and sweet tea.  Aparently, these three things will tell us whether the folks from Pine State are really southerners.  I’m not sure why this is important, and I don’t think the people in line really care, but it’s a good excuse to go back.

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September 6, 2009   2 Comments