Mar 31 2010

Warped humor.

3.31.2010

I’m wondering  about my girlfriends. As I write, playing on iTunes is Perfectly Lonely by John Mayer (a recent gift from a separated woman). Today I got an email photo collage of “divorce cakes” from an engaged friend (who has gone through a divorce and very much deserves the happiness she’s found) and later a joke email about a neglected, sad woman and her husband in therapy.  Like the music and the first email, the joke got me to smile.  Actually all three provided pretty good laughs.  I can count on girlfriends to generously dole out hugs and laughs.

The icing on the cake was in the mail today:  a photo of Joel and me at a Portland fundraiser last month. It was probably the best photo we’ve taken in years. That’s a good development director for you!

I’ve thought about standing at Union Station and screaming “THIS SUCKS” at the top of my lungs when a passing train would drown out my voice.  Figured it might spook the Whippets so I moved on.

I am good. You?


Mar 29 2010

When it rains.

March 29th, 2010

You may have heard Portland is the city of roses, the most European of American cities, the most dog friendly, the greenest, home to the most polite drivers…

Portland is a city of hoods.

That may suggest the expected collection of quaint, unique neighborhoods (a reader recently wrote of reading Portland has 120′ish) or worse – a criminal element.

By hoods, I’m speaking of apparel.  I learned this as a Portland newbie in October 2008 when the rains came.   Umbrellas, as mine did last night leaving the theatre, dance around in the wind like kennels in a Jiffy Pop tin foil dome until inverted into a lovely, stainless steel stem tulip-looking sculpture.

Yesterday spring sunshine gave way to an uncharacteristic and noisy night-long-into-day speedy rain.  After twice pushing and pulling the Whippets out for walks I puddle hopped my way solo to Safeway for staples.  A hooded character slugging home ladened with grocery bags I imagined I did not resemble the dramatic cloaked image of Meryl Streep as the French Lieutenant’s Woman surrounded by grey mist and fog.

Before I learned to dismiss coats and jacket without hoods as frivolous, I first wore a black rain hat Joel purchased at Monique’s on NW 10th Avenue.  Dear friend and fellow Tulsa transplant, Wiley Parsons,  called it “jaunty.” I think my stylish solution only shouted, “I am new! I’ll get with the program.”

It was Wiley and I that thought gloves without finger tips were the solution for cold hands when walking dogs and needing agile digits to efficiently tie doggiedoit bags.  I quickly lost one and then the mate (in the summer I would switch to regularly losing sunglasses on dog walks).  The replacement ones Wiley and Joel proudly brought home from REI were nothing short of inspired and downright goofy.  A partial mitten-like enclosure dangled from the wrists to convert the fingerless gloves to well, mittens. Good idea, poor execution.  But back to hoods versus parasols, the key to it all is we are a walking population when not crowded on street cars and disembarking from cabs. Umbrellas are bothersome, cumbersome.

It really isn’t the rain one has to cope with here, it is the greyness.  Rains are usually mists and rarely accumulate to more than that of a Midwest city.  Long Termers know to get the hell out of town by February.  The rest of us count ourselves lucky when the day brings a sun shower.  My friend Ruth Otey told me sun showers mean “the devil is beating his wife.”

Ruth moved back to Texas this week.  I’ll miss her determination to make a life here for herself and her daughter in Portland.  Ruth made no secret of her passion for anything chocolate so I’d routinely save the chocolates Umpque Bank doles out with transactions to give her on Thursdays.  Last week we paused from our duties to sample Lovejoy Bakery chocolate croissants and coffee at the kitchen table.  I wept when we said our goodbyes.  I’ll always think of her when it rains on a sunny day. Those are the days that bring rainbows.

As always, Trix


Mar 29 2010

Men’s book list.

March 29th, 2010

If you are looking for “manly” must-reads, this 100-book list should get you started!

http://artofmanliness.com/2008/05/14/100-must-read-books-the-essential-mans-library/


Mar 28 2010

Okay to cheat.

March 28th, 2010

If you are reading this, you have at least considered cheating. The kind of person that gives in and then truly enjoys the experience guilt free is my kinda person!  Life is short and self control, according to Switch authors Chip and Dan Heath, is an exhaustible resource.   Liberate yourself! Confess with a post on this blog wall (emailing me doesn’t count). “The last food craving I surrendered to was….”

I may have outgrown it but there have been a few late nights, often after a healthy dose of culture, when I have wanted and had a chili cheese omelette.  The addiction started nearly 30 years ago in the French Quarter restaurant the Coffee Pot (thanks Lisa and Chris).  Before that in college I was known for dunking Pepperidge Farm Nassau cookies in a tub of Cool Whip.  Disgusting?  Which story?  Got me beat? Prove it, I say!

The trigger for this self confession was my last indulgence.  Earlier this month, I was cruising down Memorial Drive in Tulsa.  That’s when it hit me:  the scent and then the idea of a hamburger!   South of the two miles known as “Auto Row,” the heavily traveled street is peppered with fast food establishments and retail.

Now back when he was dancing with Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Joel hit Wendy’s regularly for a double cheeseburger.  When we met, however, he was living a beefless life.   “I am  sure to sprout feathers and gills any minute,” I told my mother, commenting on our dinner menus after a few months.  Somewhere in the first year that changed. When I was pregnant we each had an emergency Burger Street cheeseburger in the freezer.  At the red light I texted Joel.  “Carving a hamburger.”

Typos are my trademark; Joel knew what I meant and accepted the assignment to find the ideal Portland burger for Wednesday night. By holding out 48 hours I was contributing to my knowledge of my new hometown, not just given in to a craving.

Speaking of research, many people may not know the shapely, dancer-looking author, publicist and NPR commentator Connie Cronley (Sometimes A Wheel Falls Off is a delicious read) has a hamburger named after her.  I suspect as many people don’t know the hamburger was invented in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was! If Michael Wallis says it was (and the Dallas Morning News publishes it), who dares question his powerful, deep, entrancing voice that can only be the voice of authority?

Michael knows his stuff;  Athens, Texas can only lay claim to a “patty melt,” which is ground beef served between two pieces of bread.  Doesn’t count.  No bun, no burger.  Michael’s research revealed Oscar Weber Bilby was the first person to serve a real hamburger.  The date was July 4th, 1891 – how American!  But wait; does this dethrone the hot dog?

When Wednesday found me back in Portland we took a cab across the Willamette River to… Burgerville.  Not the Tulsa legendary Weber’s in Brookside but a Portland icon, Joel assured me.  The Yukon Gold Fries were very tasty but my money’s still on the burger at Blue Hour.  And in Tulsa, it is hard to beat a Baxter’s Interurban Grill Theta Burger – my way, sans pickles.

Bon appetite!  Trix

www.burgerville.com www.webersoftulsa.com www.bluehouronline.com

Tidbit: In French literature, Blue Hour means any time of heightened emotions.

www.baxtersgrill.com

www.conniecronley.com/about.php

www.michaelwallis.com/

www.chrisbrogan.com/switch-a-book-review/


Mar 25 2010

Book smart.

March 24th, 2010

What is on your nightstand, bedside table?

Reading wise.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo seems to top a lot of lists – sort of the way Noble House and The Thornbirds did in the early 1980’s and The Pelican Brief did in the early 1990’s.  Remember those fun reads?

There have been similar blockbusters since then.  Forget the NY Times list, just take a gander at what people are reading in airports and on planes.  Speaking of which, Kindles are taking off. Do you have one?  On a flight to Dallas I sat next to a free spirit, retired from overseeing the food service of the Pennsylvania prison system.  He liked reading on the (clothing optional) beaches of his Carribean island. Over a glass of wine in the DFW airport I learned from him Kindles are a challenge in bright light conditions.

Switch for me was an easy pick up at Powell’s Bookstore this week since change is inevitable in both professional and personal arenas.  I read Fast Company and I cannot sit still, inspired by so many people doing neat things.  Travel guides for Oregon and Washington also creep into my stack.  It is very easy to work, walk the Whippets and want for nothing living in the Pearl – mixed urban land use at its best, delivering EVERYTHING within 6 short blocks of my front door.  I know I must expand my geographical horizons or face disapproving looks from visitors this summer, to say nothing of bluffing my way through conversations with locals when they speak of any ‘hood outside easy walking distance.

The magazine More came recommended by friends in Tulsa and Portland.  I found it a bit light on content and suggest you’ll do as well with a visit to their website.  On a wild hair I picked up the college day rag choice of many TU female students, Cosmopolitan, and of course, who can resist the marketing machine of Oprah, to say nothing of the cover hook:  REAL LOVE?

I leave you with two items for comment:

Somewhere in the sea of online literature this week I stumbled on a study that concluded 6 minutes a day spent reading boosted your mood.  As willing as I was to embrace this over a recommendation of 6 minutes on a treadmill, I found it rather vague.  Is subject matter important? Time of day? What do you think?

Oh, and here’s a thought-provoking, potentially scary observation: lots of fellows on match.com are reading Five Love Languages.  Are their motives for wanting to understand women honorable?

As always, Trix

Like books?

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Mar 21 2010

Elegant escort.

March 14th, 2010

Last night I had the most wonderful time on the town in Portland with my second husband. We attended Hooray for Bollywood, the annual gala for Portland Center Stage. Lavish silks and twinkling lights draped the Amory, costumed dancers and musicians mingled with exquisitely, colorfully dressed guests. The mood was festive, the giving generous, the performances sprinkled throughout the evening of the caliber I’ve known to expect of the theatre troupe since Steve took me to the season preview evening early last year.

And the food? The little girl who insisted her food groups not touch each other on the plate forty years ago, sampled every offering at the Indian food buffets. The chicken curry with Mahogany rice, cilantro sauce, pistachios and cashews was ambrosia. (I was also recently introduced to mouth-watering cuisine at Portland’s East India Company Bar & Grill http://eastindiacopdx.com/index.html.  The setting alone ensures a lovely experience, only to be surpassed by expertly prepared food that pairs nicely with Chateau Indigo Chardonnay 2008 – the first Indian wine I have tasted.)

But wait! Cut, rewind.  “Second husband?” you say. Yes, a tall, swelt, salt-and-pepper-haired fellow who says I’m the “ideal date.” I know better; I am an easy 25 years older than his dream catch but since I’m still fairly new to town, having me on his arm allows him to glide seamlessly through a sea of faces belonging to forgotten names. When Steve says, “You’ve met Tracey? No…?!” that is my cue to extend a hand, introduce myself and simultaneously solicit the mystery person’s identity.

We’ve been an occasional couple since we met during my first visit to Portland in May 2008. For me it was love at first site of a building he’d designed (he also designed the renovation of the armory for PCS). I was accompanying a friend condo-hunting on a tour of The Casey. Steve’s reputation for green buildings meant even the sparkling stainless trash chute  allowed residents to direct trash into one of three recycle channels.

It was on the 13th floor that I found a two-bedroom I could live with quite nicely in. Subsequently, for MONTHS Joel avoided meeting Steve, sure if we ganged up on him, it would cost him a multi-million dollar mortgage. By early 2009, Steve began to wonder if I truly had a husband but continued to invite or escort me to functions while Joel traveled for business. Our first movie date was to see Slum dog Millionaire at the Living Room Theatre so a Bollywood themed fundraiser was rather fitting.

Every single woman my age should have a fellow to call on, a man who easily makes an even number at a dinner party. A two-by-two parade is something our generation, in particular, is more comfortable with at this stage of life.

“My married friends’ husbands aren’t too keen to include me,” said a Wyatt third-floor neighbor. “I’ve loved being single for over 20 years (following a marriage and two less-than-perfect involvements). “The husbands seem to fear I’ll give their wives ideas,” she said with eyes mischievously twinkling. She’s right; many separated and newly divorced friends tell me, “I’ve been approached by women saying they wish they were brave enough to walk away.” Voluntarily ending an established relationship, especially one tied to a desirable lifestyle, financial security and guaranteed companionship is frightening. Once you’ve done that you then have to muster courage regularly to walk solo into a room with a dozen to several hundred party goers assembled for a social event. It does take chutzpah! I know; I did it myself just a week before Bollywood when I attended the Tulsa C.A.R.E.S. 13th Red Ribbon Gala in Tulsa.

It isn’t easy but it becomes less difficult and you owe it to yourself to show up. Don’t miss out on celebrating and supporting your community or attending the events that benefit your career. Give the evening dresses in your closet an occasional airing out and yourself a night on the town. Don’t let the parade pass you by.

As always, Trix

Worth becoming familiar with:

To date this season Portland Center Stage has produced stellar performances of Ragtime, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Receptionist & Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. See what is still in store this season at www.pcs.org

The Casey is a 16-story, 61 unit luxury condominium tower in the heart of Portland’s Pearl District. Designed by GBD Architects, the Casey was the first residential building in North America awarded a LEED Platinum rating. www.thecasey.com

Tulsa C.A.R.E.S., Tulsa Center for AIDS Resources Education and Support, delivers social services to people affected by HIV and AIDS.
 With the advancement of medicine, many of those infected with HIV/AIDS, are living longer, healthier lives, which in effect creates a greater need for support services in this population. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2006, there were an estimated 56,300 new HIV infections in the United States. There are approximately 2,274 people living with the HIV infection and 2,247 living with AIDS in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Fact Sheet (Dec. 31, 2007). According to the Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa, it is estimated that nearly 1,700 people are living with HIV/AIDS in the Tulsa Metropolitan area with a growth of 100 new cases each year.
www.tulsacares.org


Mar 14 2010

A very berry guest.

3.14.10

Being a good guest is imperative unless you don’t wish to be asked back.

Among most of my friends the custom of showing up with a host or hostess gift is alive and well. Some may consider it quaint. Perhaps it is old-world, as I cannot say where it started, the practice of giving a token of appreciation for an invitation to a dinner party, cocktail party or holiday gathering. Can you?

I may run late scrambling to find a gift bag or a bit of ribbon, but showing up empty handed when someone has invited you to their house? Unacceptable. I did it once last year. Still pains me to think of it.

Oregon is known for Marionberries, a blackberry named for the county in which it was developed. Safe to say Salem, Oregon is the home of the Marionberry; 90% of the world’s production is grown near Oregon’s capital city. Read more at http://www.oregon-berries.com/

Failing to stop by Little Green Grocer in my neighborhood rushing to leave town, I stopped instead at the PDX airport gift shop after clearing security check points, loaded my briefcase with a deluxe hostess gift pack of Marionberry jam and boarded my flight to Kansas City. In the town where supposedly “everything is up-to-date,” the airport layout is a bit odd. It’s not uncommon in Kansas City to deplane, leave your arrival gate, walk to your next gate down the concourse and have to go through security, again. Check points are at every few gates instead of the entrance to main concourses.

Can you guess what happened?

“Madame, did you realize you are carrying more than 4 ounces of this product? We cannot let you board the plane with it,” said the security officer with, I swear, a trace of thought-you’d-get-this-past-us” attitude.

I was too dumbfounded to protest. The jam was confiscated! I only hoped Kim Smith, my Tulsa hostess and Kansas City native, would find the story plausible and humorous. Her hostess gift joined many other jars of jam in the plastic tub at the security officer’s post. “Someone should warn shoppers in PDX,” I thought to myself, that day and every day since that I’ve passed the airport gift shop.

In addition to gourmet delicacies, a bottle of wine or flowers are welcome gifts. It’s good advice to take into account the host’s variety preferences and house color scheme. My friend Steve Domreis bought me white tulips before a dinner party – something I never would have bought myself but an exquisite addition to our décor of rich golds and reds.

Mary Hinckley arrived at brunch one Sunday with a bag of gourmet granola. I enjoyed it many times with pear yogurt at breakfast for nearly a month and thought of her each and every time.

During my last visit to Tulsa artist Matt Moffett presented, our lunch hostess Jennifer Palmer with a delightful homemade music CD. He had one for me, too. Today, in shorts and tennies with the stereo cranked up, I did the “swim” to a magical mix of Petula Clark oldies. In doing so I remembered the many laughs we’d had over a yummy lunch on a sunny Friday afternoon.  And this is the reason I shop at Trader’s Joe for canned tuna for Sarah Graves, another hostess with the mostess.

I think it is a joy and privilege to acknowledge each invitation with a thoughtful  gift. What are some you’ve especially enjoyed giving or receiving?  Yours, Trix


Mar 14 2010

Material girl.

3.13.10

The term “housewife” has always struck me as a ridiculous word, notion…until now. As a single woman, I have become a housewife. We separated; I got the house! This sunny spring Portland day I feel anything but footloose. I am responsible for a house in Tulsa, 10 plus tons of household items filling my two-bedroom Portland flat and two five-year old Whippets napping on the office sofa.

Downsizing is common at my age. I belong to the first wave of empty nesters trimming our sails. I have gone from 3700 square feet to less than 1700. It wasn’t difficult. Growing up as an Exxon brat, moving every two to three years, I wasn’t allowed to accumulate a lot of stuff. Typically each assignment overseas meant a new home and new furnishings.

As a 20-something year old I began accumulating things, feathering my nest and inviting friends over every chance I got. I guess you could say I was a homemaker, before and after I was married.

I set a personal record many times over by living 10 years in a midtown Tulsa house on Cincinnati Avenue but the die appeared to have been cast; Tulsans pegged me as a frequent mover. The title is warranted. In 17 months I have lived in one house and four flats. I don’t count the half dozen places I’ve stayed during monthly visits to Tulsa.

While living in Tulsa, moving around town allowed us to experience the different lifestyles related to the locale of the house. South Tulsa is different than downtown, midtown or uptown. It also gave us floor plans suited to our stage in life. Most houses really aren’t flexible enough to ideally accommodate a family’s changes over many years. Too many houses are thematic and have rooms assigned for very specific functions. Houses are often designed to suit the “new family,” “the empty-nester,” and such. The formal living room that was a product of the Regan era was eclipsed completely by the “great room,” “the family room,”… sprouting from the more casual era of the Clinton administration. A young child’s room near the master bedroom is great; a teenager’s room over the garage is far more ideal a few years later.

So where is home? More often people ask me which city I like best – Portland or Tulsa. That’s an easy question. Where is home? “I don’t know,” I said to Steve Canada when he asked this week.

Webster says home can be a domicile, a social unit, congenial environment, a place of origin or where the heart is. My mum, Pat Medaris, calls Australia home. She left Sydney in 1947 to travel the world with my father. It was on one of their trips to the states in late 1958 that I was born. I’ve never thought of the Missouri town between Fayetteville, Arkansas and New York City as home. I left it at six weeks of age, headed to Venezuela.

Pat has also many times said, “Home is where you hang your hat.” Does anyone still wear a hat?

As always, Trix


Mar 13 2010

Dining out.

March 12th, 2010

Reentry was a bit bumpy. It was Friday night. The restaurant was Lucy’s Table.

“Six, six thirty is the roughest time the first year,” a Portland friend told me. She was remembering back to her separation 20 plus years earlier. “It’s the time when you are accustomed to transitioning from work to family time and you find yourself alone.”

“Yes, a reservation for one at 7 o’clock tomorrow,” I told the maitre d’ at Lucy’s. I was walking by the restaurant Thursday night. I popped in on an impulse fueled by determination to tackle twilight funk head on.

Double-checking the address before setting out Friday night, I cringed. “Voted Most Romantic Restaurant” boasted the restaurant’s website, of course. Midday I’d happily spent at a ladies’ holiday tea at the racquet club, trying to convince myself the 40 or so impeccably dressed women in attendance couldn’t all be happily married. I was destined to make a day and night of experiencing my new status.

I am no stranger to dining solo. Traveling in my twenties for business and on holiday, I wouldn’t be caught dead ordering room service. Even if the nearest Zagat-rated restaurant was in the next state (and sometimes it was because MAPCO assignments often sent me to coal mines in dry counties) I made an evening of dining out. My apartment kitchen at Center Plaza in Tulsa was decorated with framed menus autographed by chefs. I was a food and kitchen tour junkie. And because I didn’t bury my head in a book, I was also approachable. In Memphis I had my first Oysters Rockefeller at the insistence of restaurant owner Frank Gristanti. He took it upon himself to orchestrate my first dining experience in his place when it was in an industrial district not far from Delta Refinery. While chatting I learned the fellow well publicized for paying $50,000 for a bottle of wine began his training at roughly the same age I was at the time – early twenties. In Florence I was shown the city’s night scene by a Roman I met sitting at a trattoria community table.

Sure there are some downsides to dining without a companion. You don’t get a “taste” of dishes other than those you order for yourself. On the other hand, your entrée selection will never be second best to your husband’s choice. And I do find it sometimes necessary to tell the waiter when I head to the powder room, least one panic and think I’m skipping out on the bill. There are also still some servers who mistakenly think woman diner = bad tipper. Convert them by being charming, solicitous and confident rather than demanding or defensive. If they don’t rise to the occasion, don’t – do not reward them for bad behavior.

When evening falls, follow the advise on the paper cocktail napkin. Make your favorite thing for dinner: a reservation. Do it especially if you’ve recently occupied every waking minute with work. Work can get your through some tough daylight hours but all work… well you know. Spiff up a bit and whatever you do, leave the book at home, turn off the cell phone. Then sashay to your table. Put the napkin in your lap (hopefully it’s black and won’t cover you with annoying lint), take a deep breath and look around. Take in the setting (art, light fixtures, flowers…) and if you make eye contact with someone, smile. Chances are very good you’ll spot a couple painfully dining in silence. Be thankful you aren’t them. Then stay engaged. Ask your waiter what the best dish really is, what wine pairs perfectly with it and call him or her by name. Get the history of  the restaurant, the chef…Have fun! My waiter at Lucy’s Table sent me home with nearly a whole loaf of delicious fresh bread. Tonight’s special is Seared Ahi Tuna with White Bean and Ginger Succotash and Avocado Mouse.

In Portland treat yourself to Lucy’s Table, 1001, Paragon, WildWood, Gracie’s, Blue Hour, Isabell’s, Nel Centro. In Tulsa ~Wild Fork, Keo’s, Palace Cafe, Bodean’s, Lucky’s and Stonehorse won’t disappoint.

Bon appetite! As always, Trix