Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Little Chocolate, a Little Weird...

Keep Portland Weird.

I see that a lot, mostly on bumper stickers, but also here and there on signs, in windows, and on t-shirts.

Portlanders pride themselves of being a little out of step with the rest of the world. But we really aren't, or not as much as some would like to be. Yes, we have our Wesen population, but mostly they keep to themselves. And yes, Portland is supposed to be where twenty-somethings go to retire, but only if they are tech-gazillionaires.

It rains eight months of the year in Portland, but the good news is that it rarely freezes. When it does, it does so with a vengeance, though, especially coupled with rain. Snow is even more rare, although a snowstorm did drop a couple of feet just before Christmas a few years back. The whole town came to a dead halt, and a lot of folks were without power. But mostly, our winter rains are chilly, drizzly, and unrelenting.

The first winter I lived here, I was amazed to walk out of my office on a sunny January day (the temp was still below freezing) and see people sitting at sidewalk tables having lunch, mostly in their shirtsleeves. A few hardy--shirtless--souls were tossing a Frisbee in Waterfront Park. Now that was weird! Or so I believed then. Now it's just ordinary.

We've had a couple of heat waves already this year (global warming, everyone says). Both times, for three or four days, the daytime temps reached the mid-nineties (degrees Fahrenheit). Sun worshippers headed for the fountains, the rivers, the hills. The rest of us huddled inside our houses, shades drawn and air conditioners going at full blast. I had to shade my snow peas or they'd have cooked (and stopped bearing). When the forecast called for a week of showers and low temps, a, lot of us celebrated. That much sunshine, that much heat--it's just not natural.

But we can't control the weather, so those of us who work to keep Portland weird use other means. There's the Naked Bike Ride (honest!); the Belmont Goats (who were dispossessed of their home on Belmont St. so now they live out a ways from the downtown core, but they are still here and well loved); and the world's smallest park (492 sq in/0.292 m2), which is reputed to house the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland.

We recycle with enthusiasm, because it's part of our lives. Fast food restaurants offer three or four bins in which to sort your hamburger wrapping, ketchup cup, straw and compostable soft drink cup. Yard debris (55 gallon/208 liter) bins are picked up weekly (we put our organic kitchen waste in them along with lawn clippings), but garbage cans only every other week. Urban gardening is big, and raised vegetable beds are beginning to replace front lawns all over town.

So what's weird about that? Maybe nothing, but I do know that in my admittedly infrequent travels, I've never seen so many tomato plants replacing landscape shrubs elsewhere.

The weirdest thing I've seen recently? Yesterday, on a nearby corner, in front of a building housing a strip joint, a Mom-and-Pop grocery and a recreational marijuana dispensary, I saw a young man wearing a tasteful tweed jacket, a white shirt, a colorful tie and dressy slacks. And bright red, patent-leather shoes. I found myself wondering why anyone would wear a jacket, tie and creased slacks on a balmy Sunday evening in June. Like I said. Weird.

My recipe recommendation this month is a chocolate cake for one: I made it with peanut butter instead of Nutella, and it was quite tasty. I didn't want to figure out how many calories were in it, because I made it for my own private birthday cake. It's not weird.

Last, but hopefully not least, I've got a new short Regency coming out in August. Florentine Enchantment. I'll tell you more next month.

Until then, read a book, eat chocolate, be a little weird.



C.S. Fuqua said...

Weird can be a good thing. On the other hand... Enjoy your vacation away from the digital umbilical cord!

Mary Thornburg said...

That cake in a mug certainly looks tempting!