Subject: Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, HAAAAA--
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 97 17:30:24 -0700
From: Liralen Li

I'm all nut brown, today.

It all actually started last Tuesday, when I had fun arguing with a flower lady for half an hour telling her that my intended recipient for a dozen roses of all different colors would *love* it and that she was wrong that he'd want to return it and it would be perfect and I knew best. The silly lady kept arguing with me, telling me how awful it would look and how often she was sent back arraingements with more than two colors of roses. But I was steadfast and strong and kept telling her that I'd make sure it wasn't returned. John got them on Thursday because we were leaving Friday and he came over and hugged me tight. He loved the dozen roses... we've been sending each other bouquets of many different colors for our anniversaries because every year has been so very different.

Took most of Friday to just sleep in for a while; find a little breakfast at Victor's with people admiring Fezzik, since we brought him with us to have quiche and latte's; get packed; take care of some plants and then go south, where we dropped Fezzik off to be boarded and then went much further south. To Portland.

I know, I know... all you folks in Portland that are reading this, yes, we went there, no, we didn't contact anyone. Just holed up with just ourselves in the Governor Hotel for the whole weekend, explored around the city center for three days and were just with each other for the whole time. It's been a while.

That was how we felt our tenth year anniversary should be spent, and it was very, very good.

The nut brown bit was that we were in the Stoat, which is the Land Rover with no top on it, so we were open to the sun all weekend. And it's a three hour drive down and back, so we had at least six hours directly in the sun, which was innervating, but also very tanning, even with SPF 12. The way I figure it, since the Northwest gets sunny when people visit, that summer happens because of the tourists, rather than the other way around, and all this heat, dryness, and that horrible Bright Thing in the Sky is all a result of a whole buncha people all visiting at once.

The Governor Hotel was really really excellent. The room was completely digitally controllable so far as temperature, and had all the amenities that made it worth staying in. Since it was on the top floor, there were three skylights, one that lit the bathroom really well, and a big window out onto the roofs. Plenty of curtains, a pile of pillows, two fluffy bathrobes and all the Nitrogena beauty products one could use. It was also really keen, for the evenings, to have the multiple mirrors for getting my hair up right.

We wandered about the city that afternoon, just exploring in slow, lazy circuits out from the hotel. We found a small market and bought rehydrating drinks for after that drive we were both pretty thirsty. We found Jake's Crawfish House and got reservations for nearly 10pm that night. Then we explored Powell's for hours and hours. I spent my entire time in the SF&F section and could likely have spent an equal amount of time more in there, just finding things. The problem was that as long as I was looking, I was finding rare books that I haven't found anywhere else, and they're all there. All used, and all about two-thirds to half the price I'd be paying for them new, including old Father Gibson's newest book. I also found a very nice purse, made from backpack material with all kinds of buckles and belts and zips, that would work as a purse for when I was wearing my dress which had no pockets.

I'm usually a pocket person, just a wallet and a coin purse and a watch, but sometimes I don't have pockets or I have too many things to put in them, so I was looking, this trip out, for a purse.

After Powell's we wandered back towards the hotel, and found the Portland Pretzel Company, who's motto is to put a knot in everyone's stomach. They do handmade pretzels of all varieties and they spray 'em, salt 'em, and toast 'em right there for you and have four different kinds of mustard to top the pretzels with. They also had organic lemon lemonaid, which I ordered a big glass of because of the heat of the day. The parmesian and garlic pretzel was crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and redolent with cheese and garlic. Yum. It didn't need the mustard to be great. We also saw the Good Dog/Bad Dog sausage shop, then, and picked up a menu. We also went into a Made in Oregon to find hazelnuts, fudge, Tillamook extra sharp cheddar, crackers and pop; and wandered back to our room to have hors'devours, a shower, and a nap until dinner time. By the time we came out again it was cool, clean dusk, with the scent of malt on the air from all the breweries in the downtown area. While our reservations weren't until 9:45, we'd gotten up at 9:15 to get ready, but the walk from the hotel was so short we were there around 9:25 and hungry. Luckily, they had seating. Hungry.

The crawfish cakes were tender, spicy, with good chunks of crawfish and fried crisp and golden with a yougert cucumber sause that cooled the spice enough to keep just eating them. John had crab stuffed prawns that were then breaded and deep fried, crisp, hot, and perfect and doused in a deeply spice sauce, served with rice and a black bean salad. I had Alaskan halibut stuffed with crab and tiny bay shrimp and a slice of utterly butter rich brie, all baked to succulant perfection with fresh snap-crisp string beans on one side and perfectly firm buttered red potatos on the other. For dessert we shared a light, rich chocolate hazelnut mousse with coffee. Yum.

The next morning, we took the light rail out to the Saturday Market and spent most of the morning and afternoon wandering about there, shopping, tasting booth food, and wandering up and down the craft booths and feeling like we were lost in the 60's. It's a lot like the Pike Place market during full tourist swing, but much, much, much more 60's and granola oriented. John fit in perfectly with his Cherry Garcia t-shirt and got a few comments about wheither or not he was from Vermont...

One of the Market treasures was a bun holder. A hair bun holder, called Cute Buns. It's a loop of wire just inside the edge of a long oval of cloth, and the center of the oval has a slit in the middle. You put your hair through the slit and bring it down to the bottom few inches of hair and then roll the hair onto the oval of cloth and wire. When you've rolled it all the way up, just bring the two ends of the oval together, twist them together once and tuck the ends in. The loop holds all the hair just wound onto the contraption, and the whole holds hair very, very nicely indeed. John put one in my hair soon after we bought it.

After a while, the Market was just too crowded and two kitchy for my taste, so we went back to the room, unloaded our stuff and wandered over to Good Dog/Bad Dog: Sausages for Everyone, which is a tiny little hole-in-the-wall place that makes handmade sausages of all kinds, and serves 'em with good beer and stuff. I had sweet Chairman; which translates into a slab of sweet Italian sausage put on a bun with mozerella, grilled onions, and maranara sauce all over everything. The ultimate Italian sausage sandwich, which a spear of dill pickle. John had his with the magma sausage, which is really hot and spicy and yummy. After that we wandered about a bit, walking down the busy streets, meandering through a mall or two. Finally ending up by the Williamette River, and parking ourselves on the lawn in the shade of a tree. We both read some, John napped for a while on the grass, and I watched people wander by. Saw some Asian tourists cornering two bicycle policemen and getting their pictures taken with them. It was very peaceful to just sit and read and watch the river. Eventually, we ended up picking everything up, wandering a bit by the river, and then going back to the Market to pick up more hair fasteners because the one worked so well all day; and then back to the room to shower and dress for dinner.

Maya's Taqueria was a bare block away from the hotel, and it was utterly excellent. The entire staff spoke Mexican Spanish and it showed in the quality and quantity of the food that was presented to us. Real Mexican farmer's cheese, soft corn tortillas, spicy, spicy meats and less cheese than 'normal' and more sauces and rice and tenderly cooked beans. Yum.

The evening's entertainment was _Chasing Amy_, which we both enjoyed a lot. The Matt Wagner Mage II reference at the beginning of the movie reminded me that I should be looking, soon, for the next issue. How many years has it been?

Sleep was sweet until about 10am, then we got up, packed, checked out and got our car from the valets, one of whom was in love with Land Rovers, especially Land Rovers like the Stoat. That was very fun. From there, we wandered over to the International Rose Test garden, which has more than four acres of roses. I know Jon Singer must have visited at one time or another, but the place is utterly gorgeous. We sniffed pretty much our way across the whole garden and back. Problem is that we didn't have our breakfast, first, which made us very hungry indeed. So we left Portland without exploring the Japanese Gardens, and drove off towards home.

Breakfast was at Burgerville, U.S.A, a uniquely Oregonian burger joint that does Tillamook Cheeseburgers and Walla Walla sweet onion rings. Very greasy breakfast... which my stomach didn't really appreciate, but we got home okay. John was really keen and macho and drove us the whole three hours home in the hot sun.

It was a marvelous, lazy, lovely, hot weekend, and the best thing of all was that when we got back home, I was able to use our new bathtub and draw a cool, clean rose scented bubble bath for me to just sink into and cool off in... Yum... sigh. It's very, very nice. David managed to get the fixtures last week and got them all onto the tub and the tub into it's holder and all fastened together with the pipes. The chromed works fill the tub really, really quickly and the handshower makes rinsing off easy and cleaning the tub itself a real snap. The kitchen is all together now as well, and usable, and the gas range made cooking quickly such a snap it's a real joy to have, now. In just a few hours, I did Yakisoba for dinner and then made up a ton of pasta salad for lunches and as a dinner side dish for the next week or so. Feta cheese, spiral noodles, peppers of all colors, green onions, and ripe, rich tomatos.

One of the keenest things is that we have these halogen lights up on wires... the wires are threaded around the upper space, as the vaulted ceilings don't help at all in anchoring lighting. But the lights are all strung on those wires, so they don't block the light from the sky light. At night, though, the skylight is completely dark, and when we turn on the lights it's a lot like a string of extra gnarly Christmas lights that lights the whole of the kitchen as if it were in the midst of full summer.

John says that the kitchen is our anniversary gift to each other. I think that's keen. I think, however, I'll enjoy the bathtub at least as much.

© 1997 by Liralen Li
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