Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cell phone tripping

Prior to our last trip north for an audience with His Royal Highness, I thought it might be judicious to clear out the photo gallery on my cell phone:

From the Bobcat Chic Department

This fellow (stuffed, I should add) greets us each time we pull into the city library parking lot. New trend in apartment decor? Gargoyle surrogate? The Beav -- epicenter of cutting-edge interior design.

From the Holiday Cheer Department

We dropped in on The Beav's annual city Christmas tree lighting earlier this month. It was quite festive:

There were carolers (well, we THINK they were carolers -- the sound was a little dodgy where we were standing, but we tapped along anyway because it's CHRISTMAS, dammit!). . . .

Pictures with the Disney princesses (sans, thankfully, "Let It Go). . .

And the tree: I will leave it up to you to decide what it resembles. . . .

From the You Can't Go Home Again Department. . .

Behold the mighty -- and vacant -- Oregonian building. I had dinner with a friend at a restaurant across the street from the old newspaper building. Back in the day, between my junior and senior years in college, I spent a summer working in the newsroom as a "copy kid." I worked the 3 to 11 p.m. shift and, aside from having my car towed one night, it was a glorious job. The city editor, Virgil, brought chocolate-coated popcorn and zucchini bread in almost every night. 'Nuff said.

My dinner mate Oms, whose dad, coincidentally, was an editor with Portland's evening paper (yes, two papers! those were the days!), and I observed a quick moment of silence before concluding they must now produce the paper out of the back of a late-model VW van.

And, finally, from the Peaceful Coexistence Department. . .

We are back in the bird business on the lane. I know that will make many of you happy. (Hi, Katie! Hi, Gay!)

We started with the black sunflower feeder. The chickadees, nuthatches and juncos love us. . . flying into the kitchen window -- not so much. There were a few awkward days involving regular, audible thumps as the little buggers overshot the feeder perch, but I'm happy to report they got the navigation down, and everyone's tiny avian heads are fine now.

More recently, I learned Anna's hummingbirds stick around all year in Portland so we added the hummingbird feeder. Come to find out -- Portland hummingbirds are just as territorial as their Bermtopian cousins.

There were a few tense moments while Attila the Hum II figured out the chickadees, nuthatches and juncos were not too interested in sugar water. Now we've got one big happy bird family.

Group hug! Tis the season, right?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A baby haiku

His Royal Highness The Grandson recently penned this haiku and sent it to his grandma and grandpa. The child is a genius.

In my world, there are

Nose tickles, Bearsie and love.

I think you'd smile too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Kitchen is open!

The boxes are unpacked. The kitchen -- Because I Said So Kitchen, that is -- is stocked. And we're back in business with The Barefoot Contessa's Rich Beef Barley Soup.

You so need this.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The soggy doggy solution

You know. It rains here in Portland.

Or at least I THINK it does.

I've witnessed just one gully-washing downpour since we moved here in September, courtesy of state's first winter storm blown in from the coast. It was impressive enough to have me believe the kitchen skylight had been breached based on a puddle of water standing on counter, which, of course, I discovered 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave for the airport.

Happy ending: The skylight remains dry and intact.

But that's about the most serious rain I've seen. Nevertheless, my friends in Bermtopia are skeptical, still wondering how we will survive the long, rainy, gray winters of western Oregon. I patiently explain the primary form precipitation Ben and I experience on our walks is a persistent, but vaguely non-committal mist punctuated by sudden and unexpected sun breaks, usually in the mid- to late afternoon. . . pretty much just as I remember from my childhood here.

This today.
And then. . .
I think we can make this work.
Sorry, my friends, I will take a daily misting and surprise sun breaks over the cold, gray winter days of Bermtopia, predictably accompanied by 6 to 8 inches of heinously hoary snow and ice that inevitably lingers into March.

Nevertheless, there is still a seasonal equation that must be dealt with: Precipitation + Canine Fur (and a fair amount of it at that) = Soggy Doggy. And the corollary -- where to put said wet pup?

In our move, we traded an attached garage, aka, The Soggy Doggy Room, for a carport, aka Not the Soggy Doggy Room. The unheated garage was a serviceable SDR, but it took FOREVER for Ben to dry. We were intrigued by possibilities of an indoor SDR.

At first, we thought the laundry room off the kitchen might serve as Ben's drying-out space, but the domestic demands of a washer and dryer trumped a wet dog's, and so we turned to the main bathroom. We are still working on restoring Ben's sensibilities as they relate to being relegated to the loo.

I'm happy to report though, as of early November, we have a routine:

1. Arrive at the back door and advance to the drying station. (Sometimes, a blow dryer is involved. This is usually proportional to the length of our walk. . . as it was in Bermtopia.)

2. Personal escort to The Lane's version of the Soggy Doggy Room.
3. Attempted escape into the guest bedroom/home office.
4. Personal escort back to the SDR.
5. Rinse and repeat.
The bathroom. Really?
Ben is adjusting, however. We are seeing fewer escape attempts -- especially as he realizes it takes half the time to get dry and rejoin humankind. Well, and an extra treat helps.

It always does, doesn't it?

Friday, October 17, 2014


It's trash day on The Lane. And it's kind of a big deal.

At least trash can placement is. I learned this the hard way last week -- and have 2,000 pounds of recycling that I hope someone will take off my hands today.

It started innocently enough when we moved in. We were gently but firmly instructed by the HOA's Landscape/Architecture Czarina as to how trash pick-up work on The Lane -- this while she wrangled with a rogue trash can that had mysteriously appeared in our drive-way. (Apparently a fairly common occurrence on The Lane -- who knew?) Here's what I gleaned:

1. Friday is trash day.
2. Put trash cans out early Friday a.m.
3. Put trash cans away as quickly as you can after pick-up.

The Czarina also showed us where to place our trash cans along The Lane. W.h.a.t.e.v.e.r.

Please take note.

Little did I know. . . .

Fast forward to last week. We had missed a week of trash pick-up as we were in Everett, Wash. celebrating the arrival of His Royal Highness The Grandson.

This was not so much of big deal in terms of garbage -- after all, we weren't around generating any. But recycling -- that was a much different story: As noted above, I had accrued about 2,000 pounds of recycling. . . primarily the 18 zillion moving boxes that arrived with us in The Beav in mid-September. It is an understatement to say our recycling can was busting at the seams -- and required a team of Budweiser draft horses for transport.

And so, last Friday morning, Ben and I went to take the trash out after our walk.

Curses. The was room for our garbage can, but the recycling had to go elsewhere so I opted for in front of our single-family attached home condo.

Bad idea.

The hours flew. Garbage was collected. And, finally, the recycling truck made its much anticipated appearance on The Lane, completing its cacophonous collection of neighbors' glass, cans, newspapers and cardboard with military precision.

All, that is, except my 2,000 pounds of recyclables. Apparently the Czarina was on to something about this trash can placement thing.

Now cursing all things recyclable, I schlepped the can -- sans Team Budweiser -- back up the driveway and began plotting my next move: Which, essentially, was to defy all that is HOA-compliant and grab two plumb spots LAST NIGHT. HAH!

I'm a rebel. What can I say? That's just the way we roll around here in The Beav.

'Nuff said.

And just in case you wondering what a rogue trash can looked like.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Yes, whee-eeee-eeee! Somehow we did it.

Somehow in the matter of about 12 weeks, we bought a single-family attached home condo, sold a 73-year-old house in 9 days with no conditions or major repairs, divested ourselves of almost all our furniture; arrived in Portland armed with Ben, a bedroom set, antique chest of drawers, wooden rocking horse (priorities!), some random bookshelves and approximately 1.5 billion cardboard boxes;

and, oh by the way, our first grandson arrived on the scene.

Somewhere in there, I also up and retired, bidding a fond farewell to a 37-year career in marketing and public relations. At least I think I did. Otherwise, we have a somewhat awkward situation in that I'm sitting here in The Beav, working on my 7th cup of coffee, while a sad community college cubicle sits empty somewhere in Bermtopia.

Needless to say His Royal Highness The Grandson trumps all.
My name means "bright, insightful and wise" in Japanese. Got it?
Kei (pronounced "Kay") is perfect. (Of course, I realize all grandchildren are perfect. Isn't that why they're called "grand"?) I cannot describe the joy of gathering up that 6 pounds of love for the first time and realizing you're his grandmother, fully licensed to spoil, coddle and indulge. . . before returning to his parents. There will be many Kei stories to come.

Disclaimer: I did not push Kei down the steepest hill in Everett, Wash., to achieve the "action photo" above. I accidentally clicked the shutter as I was putting away my cell phone after taking my 804th photo of the little peanut. 


We are gradually settling into life in Portland. After three weeks of sitting on the living room floor, we have a sofa and chair. We have a kitchen table and chairs. We have a new washer and dryer that serenade us each time a load is done. Still getting used to that one.

And I have a dedicated writing desk. "Bermtopia" now resumes.

Folks have asked me about this -- how can I write about Bermtopia since we don't physically live there any more? But, of course, I can: In its essence, Bermtopia is a state of mind. There are still seasons, dogs, kitchens and gardens (wait till you see what I have to contend with out back!) to navigate here in Portland -- along with The Beav (a little corner of suburbia that My Date and I are vaguely surprised to be enjoying), homeowner associations, the aforementioned musical home appliances and The Mom Unit, who now lives about 6 minutes away instead of 6 hours. And so much more.

So, yes, we're back. And ready to rock and roll. With Bermtopia: The Portland Edition.
I have my very own creek.
And I am happy to report there are squirrels in Portland.