Aug 14 2010

Closer than you think.

Think about the drive to work today, or the drive home.  With or without a mobile phone in use, how often were your thoughts somewhere else?

We often cruise familiar turf preoccupied with thoughts outside the present moment and space.   Could it be we are similarly programmed to look elsewhere for things that perhaps are right under our nose?

Take hiking and coffee. The airplanes are full this time of year with travelers headed to Oregon to enjoy the state’s trails and java shops.  Since moving to Portland I’ve even taken up hiking. It bares a strong resemblance to what I once called walking, but the scenery is different and I do it regularly with friends – something I never did in Tulsa.  “In Tulsa,” I have explained, “the harsh weather keeps us inside socializing over food and wine.” In Portland I feel like a kid again, playing outside with chums.

I Goggled hiking Tulsa and got 322,000 results.  I Goggled coffee houses Tulsa and got 45,800 (substituting Portland for Tulsa yields 2,140,000 and 290,000 results respectively.)

Clearly I could have hiked in Tulsa everyday of the over 30 years I lived there. And despite 107 degree weather this month, I did – twice! Not with the same companion both times but that’s beside the point.  Come October, I am confident both will consider joining me again.  Both my August outings acquainted me with Turkey Mountain on the west side of the Arkansas River.  I’d only been there once before though I still own a house just three miles west on 71st Street.  With a heat index of 115 degrees, you may wish clothing was optional but the tree canopies protect you from the sun; bottled water combats the heat.  And (thanks Julie!) I learned a simple way to navigate this unfamiliar urban wilderness: consistently climbing up hill not only provides a better workout but makes later finding the parking lot and your car as simple as walking (excuse me, hiking) downhill. In Portland’s Washington Park, my strategy is simply to follow whoever is ahead of me and keep tabs on my off-leash Whippets.

When it comes to coffee, my approach is equally simple.  I usually get my daily dose brewed at home in one of those noisy “by the cup” machines that will wake the dead in the morning but yet go relatively unnoticed by chatty dinner guests many hours later in the day. Though I live in Portland, where Starbucks coffee beans are roasted, I buy Topeca Coffee in Tulsa and cart it home in my suitcase.  (Each and every time I open my suitcase to find an airport security inspection notice. I can only figure I am suspected of using coffee beans to throw off the hounds sniffing for other substances.)

I buy Topeca coffee as much for the story, as the taste.  Topeka was founded by John Gaberino and his wife Maria, a woman from El Salvador whose family has owned and operated a coffee plantation for six generations.  I remember years ago when John used to serve up samples of the coffee for Petty’s shoppers.  When the coffee market hit one of its lowest points, the Gaberinos and Maria’s relatives had determined the best way to continue the business for another six generations was to take the product from the field to the consumer, a process they dubbed “seed to cup.” This last trip to Tulsa I finally met Maria. It’s an easy task to find her in their relatively new cafe downtown.

When the Mayo Hotel in downtown Tulsa reopened after 30 years -sporting a $50 million plus renovation, Topeca Coffee opened a cafe on the ground floor.  It’s an inviting spot with glass table tops resting on trays of coffee beans, comfy leather sofas and over-sized photo portraits of plantation employees, like Miguel, who works on the patios. As the portrait label reads, “Topeca uses a traditional method of sun-drying fresh beans on large patios.  Beans must be raked and turned often to ensure all moisture is gone.” In Tulsa, beans from El Salvador are roasted on site daily and freshly brewed coffee is served with an assortment of pastries and sandwiches. I’ve read the Starbucks story; I don’t get the same feeling from it as I do talking to Maria or John.

The next time you are yearning to explore or wishing for a change of scenery, try looking at home with fresh eyes.

Always, Trix

My finds:

Aug 7 2010

A reflection between junk & funk.

“She’s started dressing differently.”

Dress composed by Kristin Olson-Huddle using records, dufle bag, bed skirt, cassette tape.

I hadn’t noticed.  I was preoccupied, struggling to understand a wife married to Richard Gere being grossly unhappy.  The movie was Unfaithful (link below).     My movie companion went on to say, “She’s dressing more like a French woman.”  Ah!  A woman in love and feeling attractive equals French, not American, style.

Tell me what you think!  Do women dress for men? Do they dress for other women?  Or – do they dress consistent with their self image and / or mood? And do the French women have a certain Savoir faire?

A reader sent me a NY Times article.  I read it on the run, getting enough of the jest to be  disturbed.  Pause to imagine a middle aged woman with a home office confronted with what to wear to a business conference when her professional clothing wardrobe had been neglected for years.   As I recall she took us on her shopping experience before concluding  “who cares what potato sack this aging gal wears? I am no longer noticed.”

“Pooh,”  I thought.  Last summer dating rekindled my interest in dressing. Walking (the one exercise form French embrace, other than sex) in Portland had freed me of 17 menopausal pounds.  That dip also changed things and propelled me back to more fitted clothes, higher heels and girly stuff over a strictly functional wardrobe.  The biggest change in my style, however, was in my gait.   I got that swing back! Heels or not, I walked taller.

ReBrewed. Dress of used coffee filters collected by designer Adrienne Duckrow.

I seek a style that is comfortable with a little something to stand apart in a crowd. There is a line given to Maria Callas in Terrance McNally’s play Master Class that even my son at age six understood (he bestowed the advise on a NYC waiter during after-theatre dining).  “You don’t have a look.  Get one!”

Returning to PDX (Portland airport) at midnight recently I happened upon an exhibit called Junk to Funk.  I easily could have been happy wearing all but the window blind dress.  When wearing high heels it is nice to be able to take a load off your feet periodically and that dress wasn’t gonna let me though it did a great job of hiding ample hips!

This week, put on your Sunday clothes and stride down the street.  It’s a great feeling!

Always, Trix

Dress made of window mini blinds. Junk to Funk PDX exhibit.

Jul 20 2010


Thursday he would have been 88 years old.

“I’ll return to Tulsa early enough in July so we can celebrate mums’ 89th and your 88th together (as we often did).  And I tell you what, I’ll figure out how to make homemade Sangria for you,” I said to my dad during our last time together.

“I’d like that,” he said.  His voice was soft but his eyes clear and focused, as anticipation  gently swept over his gaunt face.  My dad and I:  We like our wine, perhaps a bit too much.  We like a party.

Why had I waited 10 years to make the offer?  During a visit to Sydney in late 2000 my cousin Michael’s charming wife Dora surprised my father with homemade Sangria on Christmas day.  The feast was at the home of my Uncle Ron and Auntie Dawn’s.  After stuffing ourselves we posed for photos by the pool wearing shorts, Christmas cracker paper holiday crowns topping our heads.  The trip was a gift from my parents to my sister and me and our families. I hadn’t been to Australia since 1985. The gift was more than generous, it was life changing.

Tonight in Portland I arrived at R. damore, a new art gallery in the Pearl owned by photographer & portrait artist Robin Damore.  Author Wendy Burden was talking about her book, Dead End Gene Pool.  Serving refreshments was a beautiful, engaging, Latin woman, just the type woman my Pop would have flirted with – shamelessly!  She put ice in a stemmed glass and poured a Sangria Roja for me.   When he drank red wine, much to the horror of all around him, Bob (JR, Pops…my dad) always asked for ice, unless he could help himself to some.  “About 3 cubes,” he’d tell me.  Around the table eyes would roll.  Winos can be such snobs!   Hosts, proud of their wine selections, sometimes seemed insulted.  Bob’s pleasure was never diminished by their attitudes.   He asked for and got what he wanted; there is a lesson in that, I think.

The sangria I enjoyed will soon appear in Portland gourmet grocery stories such as Zupan and City Market.  It’s maker, Maria Corbinos  is a woman who came to Portland to earn an MBA.  In no time her friends quickly encouraged her to bottle the sangria she made to share at gatherings. Her personality and business accumen earned her an Angel Award and is bringing her product to launch shortly. (Visit As I listened to her story, I shared mine.

At the end of the evening I walked home with a bottle of Mi Vida Sangria Roja – a gift from Maria.  I also had three new business cards in my pocket belonging to new friends I planned to call later this month, after returning from Tulsa.  As I walked home, my father’s spirit filled my heart and lightened my step.  True, we won’t dine at Andina’s, the Peruvian restaurant I told Poppy was a must when he came to see my new home. The trip is one he didn’t make.  But my dad is here, he’s wherever there is goodness and a sense of adventure…  An absence of expectations but a hope for something special. That is his legacy. That is what I will play forward.

Always, Jabberwalkie (my dad’s nickname for me)

Medaris, Jesse Robert (Bob) of Tulsa passed away June 14th, 2010.  He was born July 22nd, 1922 in Denver, Colorado to Jesse Roy and Loretta Mae (Wolfe) Medaris.  He attended Hawthorne Grade School in Englewood, Colorado and graduated from Englewood High School in 1940.  In September 1941 he enrolled in Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.  World War II interrupted his engineering undergraduate work.  He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps for three years, reaching the rank of First Lieutenant as a navigator with the 13th Air Force in the South Pacific.  He was proud to have seen many of the islands in that theatre: New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, New Britain, New Guinea, the Halmahera and most of the Philippines.  After the war he completed his studies at Mines, graduating as a petroleum engineer in 1949. While at Mines, he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Gamma Epsilon and Blue Key.

In May 1947 he married Dorothy Patricia (Pat) Shelley, whom he met in February 1945 on Bondi Beach while on military leave in Sydney, Australia. Marriage followed a nine-day, whirlwind romance and two years of long-distance correspondence by mail. The couple had two daughters, Shelley Anne Ricks and Tracey Elizabeth Norvell. Three grandchildren survive Mr. Medaris: Michael Andrew Ricks, Corrine Elizabeth Mueller and Clay Alexander Norvell. Also, great-grandson Andrew Paul Mueller and brother Francis Medaris.  His brother Charles Medaris and sister Ruth Medaris predeceased him.

Immediately following graduation from Mines, Phillips Petroleum Company in Eureka, Kansas and then Venezuela employed Mr. Medaris.  In 1954 he began a 15-year career with affiliates of Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon) in Venezuela, Libya and Indonesia. Outside professional assignments, the Medaris family also lived in Palo Alto, CA, Sydney, Australia and Houston, TX.  Mr. Medaris’ second career as Manager of the Studies Department for Crest Engineering led the family to Tulsa, OK.  His work with Crest took him to Nigeria, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Siberia, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, the North Sea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada and other oil and gas-producing areas. When Crest Engineering relocated to Houston in 1985, Mr. Medaris remained in Tulsa, serving as Vice President of Crown Tech, Inc.  In 1987 he joined Fluor Daniels Williams Brothers as a consultant until his retirement in late 1993.

Mr. Medaris learned many languages during his travels. He was a quiet man with a quick, contagious laugh.  Somewhat a rebel and never a follower, he was well respected and tremendously admired by colleagues.  His gentle spirit made him an instant favorite with children and pets, and his love of life and travel gave him countless friends worldwide. He enjoyed golf, ice skating and worked tirelessly in the garden. During the past seven years he kept the residents at Inverness Village well supplied with the jokes and stories he collected from magazines and newspapers. His blue eyes always sparkled with life and mischief. His favorite song was “ Begin the Beguine,” but the ones his children and grandchildren will most remember are those he sang at bedtime: “You Are My Sunshine,” “Oh! Suzanna,” and “Red River Valley.”  While some might mourn the loss of this most lovely, gentle, caring, kind soul, who was also extremely bright, funny and handsome, his response would be this poem he especially liked:


Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft star that shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there; I did not die.

Author Unknown

Jun 8 2010

Short note.

June 8th, 2010

Sometimes life goes at such a dizzying speed there is no time to reflect, to share – in other words to take proper note of the magic, the realizations, the treasures.  Stuffed in pockets, filed electronically, littering my desk, stored on voice records, floating around in my mind are notes and thoughts of a zillion things and observations I would like to post, which is to say share…to offer for comment.

I hope this short notes finds you all enjoying the journey.

As always, Trix

Postscript: As I write this, Nina Simone sings, “For Myself.” It makes me smile.

May 18 2010

434 Calories of travel wisdom.

May 17th, 2010

A glass of wine would have been fewer calories, but it didn’t come with these quotes.

Don’t eat anything you cannot lift. Miss Piggy
All you need is love. John Lennon
You are what you are when no one is looking.  Robert C Edwards
Life is too important to be taken seriously.  Oscar Wilde
Do or Do Not.  There is no try. Yoda
Hope is a waking dream. Aristotle

Lots of wisdom for 434 calories and a couple of bucks (American. Canadian coins are no longer accepted).

I am in the dining car of Amtrak’s Cascade Express.  My seatmate in car 9 had the look of a seasoned traveler; a nice way of saying he was smelly. Before I could decide how to deal with that I was sharply whacked on the head when the fellow in front of me declined his seat as I reached in the bag at my feet.   A swift kick to the head might be in order some days but the last time I bet on No. 9 was at a Derby Day party.  I raced for the comfort of a window seat in the bistro between cars 2 and 3.  So I’m watching the scenery, craning my neck occasionally to see what is around each bend, with an oatmeal cookie and hot coffee at my side.   The sun is poking through the trees.  I am on my way home after a weekend in Seattle.

The gypsy in my soul is waking up with each sip of java.

My sister recently repeated the advice she had bestowed on me in the early 1980’s.  “Settle down and you’ll meet someone.”  The encore was prompted by me sharing Buz’s comment about my two-city status. I reminded Shelley I didn’t follow her advise then; probably wouldn’t now.  Besides, I’d argue today, I met lots of people the past two days.

First there was the bicycle taxi owner on the waterfront.  He offered me tips on where to ride my recently inherited bike upon my return to Portland.  It was fun to hear him call out “Hey Portland” whenever our paths crossed later in the day.  A real gem was Jan, a Seattle Opera Volunteer, whose last name I should have caught. Her telling of the first act of “Amelia,” while we hovered close to a small theatre monitor in the lobby, was as engaging as what the audience heard inside. (I was uncharacteristically early to the theatre but had been given the wrong show start date by the hotel concierge so row G had a vacancy until intermission).  Jan also supplied added color with local production tidbits not in the program.

There was also Michael, the music history professor waiting tables at Tavolata, who promised he’d like nothing better than to email me suggestions for new music to download via iTunes.  And who can forget Desmond at the hotel front desk when by day two he was blowing me air kisses as I stepped off the elevator.  This after I handed him his head for botching part of my Sunday plan.  We indeed kissed and made up.

And least you think the trip was just brief, new encounters with no threads to my past or future, Tavolata is one of four restaurants (see the link below) owned by Chef Ethan Stowell, the brother of Portland friend and Oregon Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Christopher Stowell.  I also meet at noon on Sunday with Tulsa friend and caterer Angie Johnson of eat2u.  Connecting by phone Friday on business alerted us to the fact we’d both be in Seattle for the weekend.  Her ex-husband of 19 ½ years bought us a drink and took our photo near Pike and 4th. (I wish we had a photo of Dean taking the photo; he did quite a back bend to get my lime green walking shoes in the photo.)

There is one person I didn’t meet this time in Seattle but we still got to know each other better through the trip.

Where to next?  After work tonight I am going to get out a map and consult the Whippets.

What about you?  Will you travel by boat, train, car or plane?  Where to?  And with whom will you share the journey?

I hope you’ll post photos! Lots…   Traveling is great.  Sharing makes it better.

As always, Trix

Apr 28 2010

Down on the ground.

April 26th, 2010

Some people are avoiding air travel these days.  I don’t have that luxury, nor would I consider it if I did.  The sticky wicket for many:  logging more ground time than moments up in the air.

Growing up overseas meant LONG flights, such as Sydney to LA.  As a young working professional for Mapco,  I racked up travel hours well into five digits.  Now I spend at least two working days a month computing between Tulsa and Portland.  That doesn’t count the time to pack and unpack, to get to the airport and from the airport and to stand in line(s).  A puzzling piece of glass art in my carry-on tote this trip kept me at PDX security an extra 10 minutes.

“Why do you fly UPS?!” a colleague teased me in a text message he sent last month while I was in transit.  He was  indirectly marveling that I was traveling at roughly the warp speed of 100 MPH between cities.

And no, I don’t travel UPS.  Despite over two million miles with American (according to my Advantage account), I normally respond well to the cattle call of Southwest.  And “luv” them I do for on-time delivery, even if the comedic antics of the flight attendants get to be a bit much when replayed upon each take off of a multi-stop flight.

A Gallup Poll trainer I met last year shared the skinny on why SW can be on time: financial incentives for employees.  According to him,  SW pilots are rewarded for on-time arrivals and fuel economies.  Ever been on a plane that arrived early at the gate only to be held captive waiting for the ground crew to hook up the jet way? Apparently this is uncommon with  SW.  The minute the jet way is connected to the plane the crew can cut to half power – not before – thereby saving fuel. Consequently,  SW captains make sure the ground crew is prepared when tail winds prevail.

Another important variable in the time equation is layover time in your connecting city.  When booking today’s PDX-TUL route, 20 minutes in DFW seemed ideal, except for someone who checks luggage.  I sucked it up and booked a later DFW-TUL flight to improve the chances of all three of us  (myself and my two 50# travel companions traveling steerage) arrived in Tulsa together. As I write this I am somewhere over the Rockies.  I’ll report back later on the success of my logic.

What doesn’t seem to matter is what city I change plans journeying between Portland and Tulsa.  Regardless of whether it is Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, St Louis, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City or St Louis, the end result is the same.  When I study the map of the lower 48 in the back of the airline magazine, the straight distance I trace between my two cities appears to be PDX-DEN-TUL.  Had I gone through Denver on my last epic adventure I would have had time to learn to snow board.  As it was, I spent the day in DFW.

If you find yourself in this position, my best advise is to concentrate on the journey and not the destination.  Regardless of which gate you land at, hop the train to Terminal D.  It is newer, lighter, and more airy.  You might meander through the stain glass labyrinth, price your perfume in the duty-free shop… but eventually make your way to the exit.   Save dining on a cheeseburger for a time you can fulfill your carving with one from Goldie’s, Lucky’s in Tulsa or Blue Hour in Portland.  Get away from the crowds and head to the dining room in the Grand Hyatt for a respite!  If you hear an automated voice upon reading the words “Grand Hyatt,” you’ve been on the DFW train a time or two.  “Now leaving for D gates and the Grand Hyatt.”

After passing the security checkpoints, stop.  Look up and you’ll enjoy whimsical art. Suspended from the ceiling.  (Seeing my upward gaze prompted a fast walking flight attendant to stop and look skyward.  Her expression seemed to say, “Well, what do you know?!”).

Yes, with a little effort, a dreaded, long layover in DFW can refresh your spirit with art, exercise and good food.

And if you are ever delayed in Portland International Airport, don’t despair.  Though I haven’t a clue why PDX edged ahead to win the “Best Airport” moniker I think contributing factors must have been the live music, on-site spa, shopping that attracts even non-travelers from the city and burbs (really) and the two-way toilet flush mechanisms.  And did I mention no sales tax?

If you still are not sold on finding the up side to airport exploration, think back to the Valentine’s Day article published in Tulsa World.  Some travelers have found love down on the ground, across the crowded space of a bustling air terminal.

Bon Voyage!


Apr 14 2010

Up in the air.

April 13th, 2010

Been traveling and have much to share!  Glad to have two weeks on the ground to catch up with “ya all!” but what to tackle first??!  Trix

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

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

Mar 14 2010

Material girl.


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