Our Life Has Been A Zoo, So We Went to La La Land

Guy writes in this font, Megan writes in this font. 

February 26, 2017

We haven’t had a day of pure fun since the honeymoon. Over four months in total. It’s been mostly work, little play, and plenty of hours in the PSU library since November as we both studied our hearts out for tests. Megan for the ORELA. Me, I have been studying for the Oregon bar. The Bar was this past week and what a chore indeed.

We needed to get out and do something in the most urgent possible way. Fortunately, the Portland weather was accommodating to the task. With intermittent blue skies and not a drop of water in sight, it was the perfect day to get out and realize once again this wonderful City.

And what better place to adventure than the Oregon Zoo.

Zoos always give me trouble. On the one hand, I don’t like the idea of keeping animals captive and out of their habitat for our viewing pleasure. It seems cruel, unnatural, and absurdly egocentric. On the other hand, however, I cannot deny the wonder and joy that I feel having the privilege to see animals closeup to study their unimaginable beauty. That conflict was deep and often unnerving throughout the day.

Empathetically, the Oregon Zoo seemed aware of the conflict. The Zoo owned responsibility for it actually. Accompanying nearly every exhibit were signs that spoke awareness and sought to educate the patrons on how their actions affect the animals’ habitats. This education didn’t stop at attenuated references to global conditions that are eradicating the natural lands of distant creatures. No, the Zoo called attention to local issues and provided specific instructions on how to reduce personal impact on local animals that are hurt by our invasive existence in their habitat.

The Zoo’s efforts to educate furthered my conflict by adding pride into the mix. I am proud of the Zoo for owning the responsibility of caring for animals and acting as their advocate—rather than merely seeking profit for exhibition.

This point was most clear when we finally met the new elephant habitat. With a variety of feeding centers, tools, toys, and places for the gigantic creatures to play: the elephants appeared happy, stimulated. It was obvious that people took great care to plan and provide the gentle giants with a home that would simulate their natural habitat.

Over Indian street food at Bollywood Theatre SE later that evening, Megan and I discussed the battle between humanity and the wild. Like many people, it concerns us that the human machine is destructive to the world we love. Without seeking to reach any profound conclusions or resolutions, we simply talked through the specific areas where we can reduce our impact on nature.

Let’s not forget:

Our date didn’t stop here.

After enjoying our Indian cuisine, we ventured downtown to our favorite film viewing spot: Living Room Theater. We booked our seats early online and we were set to see La La Land. We appreciate being able to reserve comfy seats, enjoy moderately priced fresh snacks, and sometimes there’s live jazz in the bar. I don’t know if it is just me turning into a big baby or the excellent films we have to choose from at Living Room Theater, but I swear every film we have seen has made me tear up. La La Land was no exception.

I am so lucky to have Guy there to wipe my tears because this one was emotional for me. I don’t want to give the whole film away, but it is a beautiful story about chasing dreams, falling in love, and how pivotal decisions are on our lives. This had me reflecting on how grateful I am that Guy is so confident about the decisions he makes. If it weren’t for that, I don’t know what would have happened to us. It’s because of his fearlessness that we are where we are today.

We talked about this the rest of the evening and into the next morning. Guy reminded me of this powerful quote from The Alchemist,

“He still had some doubts about the decision he had made. But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

Deep into the evening we talked and thought. It was the first time in a long time that we had the privilege of not being in a rush to face time with a book. Lovely, it was just lovely.


Hooray for date nights.  

Farmers Market Favorites

Between the intermittent spring rain, which came and went in chilly bursts this weekend, Megan and I enjoyed our favorite Saturday morning tradition: the PSU Farmer’s Market. Awaking this morning I was a little worried that the darkening clouds and moist remnants of a past night rain would deter Megan from our routine. After all, we had  an uncharacteristic outing past 11pm last night and Megan looked a little too snug in bed this morning. Closing on the last mile of my morning run, I felt the suggestion of rain would be an insurmountable obstacle in luring her out of bed.

Fortunately, luckily, gratefully, she is full of surprises.

I walked through the door of our home to find Megan wide-awake, studying math, looking sitcom eager to start the day. Coffee in hand, already ready already to walk back out the door, her look at me said: “Where have you been? Aren’t we going downtown?!” It may have also been screaming “I’m hungry, Let’s go you jerk!” —but I was the up the stairs and showering before the hanger in her eyes reached me.

Off we went.

Now here are some of our favorite things about the Farmer’s Market, feel free to share your favorites with us as well:

  1. Pears. Far and away our favorite thing about the Farmer’s Market is buying pears. The pear and cookie stand is basically life. Really, it’s sometime is the only reason we go.  If you are a routine visitor like us, you know exactly what pear stand I mean. Yep, the stand right near the Library.

  2. Flowers. We try to buy flowers from a different vendor each week. With spring bringing blooms in abundance, it’s an adventure each week to notice all of the beautiful arrangements and variety of flowers.

  3. Crepes! The little crepe stand that only serves local products, made right before your eyes, is becoming our new standard Saturday-morning breakfast. Delicious. Slight warning: they get a little busy and mixed-up sometimes so watch your order, especially if you don’t eat meat! (Also, Megan added the exclamation point).

  4. People watching. Sitting in the middle of the lawn is perfect for watching people at their best. We love to drink coffee and watch people of all ages and backgrounds come together to enjoy tasting food and buying their produce. It’s beautiful to see people so happy. It may be also making us slightly baby crazy, but we can save that for a different post.

Next time you see us out at the Farmer’s Market, feel free to say hi!

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SHOP SIMILAR ITEMS

A Perfect Lunch

Written by Guy

By the look of her eyes I knew that she only had one thing on her mind. It was Saturday morning. Not this past Saturday, maybe a couple of weeks ago. To be exact it was the second weekend that the Portland weather decided to be Spring. The day was warm and the sun was beaming down for one of the first times I can remember since last year. If you live here in Portland, you know exactly which weekend I mean. That one.

Back to what her eyes told me that she wanted. Gleaming with happiness that matched the smirk of a smile her lips were showing, I knew.

“You want a Green Machine, don’t you?”

The spread of her smirk into a full smile answered the question.

“Okay then, get dressed. Let’s go.”

Thirty minutes later we were pulling up to the 12th Avenue location of Bamboo Sushi. While waiting for our roll of goodness we planned the perfect little day to enjoy our food. Step one, stop next door to Kure and grab some healthy and delicious (deliciously-healthy?) juices to wash down our food. It was a greens on greens sort of day. Step two, pick up sushi. Step three, enjoy our culinary decisions while soaking in the sun at the Rose Garden.

Success.

We spent the rest of the day reading under the sun. Grateful for the arrival of Spring, wonderful food, and each other’s company.

It was simple. It was a perfect lunch.

 

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SHOP SIMILAR ITEMS

Ummmm... I Think That's Caviar

He writes in this font. She writes in this font.

I don’t like sushi… I’ll let that sink in for a second…

Now that you’ve recovered from the initial shock of reading the above blasphemy, I’ll try to explain and answer some of the obvious questions. YES, I have tried it, several times. YES, I like sea food generally. NO, I have never had a “bad experience” with sushi that made me dislike it. Importantly, it’s not that I dislike or think it is disgusting (there is no vehement sentiment against sushi). I simply do not like it.

Well, did not* like it. Megan succeeded in changing that position last Saturday night.

“Baby, let’s not cook tonight, I want sushi.” That’s how it started. Megan and I were on the basketball court, playing “H-O-R-S-E” when she dropped that suggestion, followed by swishing a three and telling me “all net, no backboard.” I missed the shot and my plans to deviate our new dinner plans to something like Thai or Spanish were also off target.

Gracefully, soothingly, Megan lulled me to accepting the inevitable: We were going for sushi. Here were her key points:

  • “Baby, I really want sushi”

  • “But you’ve never had Bamboo Sushi”

  • Staring at me with soft, pleading eyes (I think this one sunk him like my short-lived run of threes. I feel like such a baller when we play, especially with my Kobe's on. )

Clearly, these tactics were successful. I am usually better at cooperating on a place to eat, but sometimes when I can nearly taste the food I am craving, there really are no other options. I was going to Bamboo. I think I even told him that I would just go by myself, if necessary. Some may call that being a “brat,” but I just call it hungry.

With the first bite, Bamboo Sushi became a new favorite. There was a serious moment of anticipation for me as I watched him try a piece. I knew the Green Machine roll would get him!  Let’s back up though, before we even stepped into the NW location on 23rd Avenue, and even before we got ready to leave suburbia for the city.

After I acquiesced to Megan’s dinner request, she quickly went to work showing me why Bamboo Sushi was different than other restaurants, of any style. The first page she showed me was the interactive menu where they explain more about select items, including where they get ingredients and providing wikipedia links for more information. Their approach to an online menu made me more comfortable with understanding what I would want to order because I want to know what’s in my food — but do not like to ask the server a million questions. Nobody wants to be that that… person.

For reference: We ordered the Usuzukuri, Green Machine, and Northwest Philly Roll. All were fantastic. Can I just mention here how much I loved Guy’s reaction when the server brought out the Usuzukuri? That was one item we did not research before ordering. He looked at me and admittedly said, “I have no idea what I even ordered. This appears to be caviar.” This memory alone is enough to make me laugh instantly.

Icing on the cake (or avocado on the roll, in this case), I checked out Bamboo Sushi’s Core Values page. It was inspiring. How often do you read a restaurant’s “about us” page and feel inspired? I, for one, have never felt motivated to volunteer or, at a minimum, share a restaurant’s link — like a Ghandi quote — after reading it. Here’s why:

Look down the path ahead of you and see what is coming. It is always better to be proactive than reactive. Take the lead and look ahead. Figure out how to set a trend or create something first. For our guests, we must always anticipate their needs. As a company, we are looking ahead to stay ahead. We live in the now, but build and plan for the future, so that we are always prepared. Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail. Be focused, listen, learn, act.”

And here is a little tid-bit about their focus on sustainability:

“With 67% of seafood in the United States being consumed in restaurants, we believe it is imperative to create a restaurant where people can get the freshest and best fish possible, while simultaneously helping to save the oceans and marine life.”

Being a “Coastie” (kids from the Oregon Coast, I know you can relate), having a respect of marine life is important to me. Because of this, Bamboo has a special place in my heart. When we saw that big “B” for Benefit Company on the wall near the host station, I was reassured even more. I am happy to be able to find others who can relate and make me feel like I’m at home in Portland.

Now, I like sushi. Whether you do as well, or share my expired sentiment from last week — go try Bamboo Sushi. It’s not often you can justify an incredible meal by knowing that it is for a good cause.

 

 

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On Hawthorne

He writes in the font,  she adds to the story in this font. 

Random acts of kindness, that's what life is all about. The real social currency that people exchange day-to-day is compassion and unexpected displays of consideration. That's what I felt this morning anyway, as we explored Hawthorne Boulevard in East Portland. Random acts of kindness (RAK for you chivers) are subtle; things that people often overlook without notice. This can apply to the giver or recipient alike - true kindness is a natural deed of humanity after all. We do it instinctively. 

Here is how we experienced the subtle kindness of strangers one recent sunny day in PDX.

Successfully getting an early start this past Saturday morning, Megan and I were up and active by seven o'clock. She finished a blog post as I went for a quick run along the waterfront. By half past eight, we had worked up an appetite and were ready to start some adventures. Luckily, we didn't have to engage in the perfunctory nuisance of choosing where to eat; Megan had already made that decision. "I want to take you to Bread and Ink," she said as we got into the car. Guy had mentioned vintage shopping the day before and immediately I thought of the Eastside. Nothing brings me back to freshmen year at PSU like Hawthorne Boulevard. It’s full of great and affordable vintage furniture, vintage apparel, and fantastic food! 

This is where I had my first random act of kindness: Bread and Ink. As many of you know, I'm sure, it's difficult to find parking in the narrow-street neighborhoods surrounding Hawthorne Boulevard. It took ten minutes past eternity for us to find a spot that was not blocking someone's driveway. I think it took slightly less than eternity, but we were both incredibly hungry at this point, so it felt like forever. While Guy contemplated what nearby object he could eat, I actively practiced hunger ignorance. We followed a trail of mirages deep down a side street until we found a spot a couple of blocks from the beginning of our search. By the time we made it to a table inside, there was a palpable vibe of "hangry" emanating from us - or at least from me. "I'm just hungry, man," is how I responded to the server's cheerful salutation when he first came to greet us. At this point, it seems that “hangry” is a pretty typical slang, but for those who do not keep up with Urban Dictionary, it’s the combination of hungry and angry. The anger is typically caused by the hunger. 

He brought me a cinnamon roll. It made a world of difference. Pause here and look below. It was delicious and nostalgic, Megan and I said at the same time that it tasted like the ones our mothers made at home. This cinnamon roll practically melted in my mouth. This may sound stupid or trivial, but that subtle display of consideration meant something to me. I felt that he recognized the situation and went out of his way to make it better; pure kindness. After waiting for us to finish the cinnamon roll and mollify the hanger, he came back and talked to us about the restaurant and how they make their delectable food. It’s incredible how much of a difference genuinely good customer service skills can make. Coincidentally, I recently taught a short class on customer service to some of my clients at work and we discussed how the first person you interact with can often set the tone for a customer's experience with a business. (For those who may not know, I manage a child abuse prevention program and have the opportunity to work with adults to work towards stability and self-sufficiency). 

Fun fact #1: Bread and Ink has been serving Portland for thirty-four years and makes all of their food from scratch. 

Kindness is contagious. It spreads like the scent of spring flowers. We left breakfast in a cheerful mood and were ready to do a little vintage shopping. I think happiness and excitement were emanating from us as we strolled down the street snapping pictures and being way too affectionate. This sounds like a recurring problem.  Now it was time for a little vintage shopping! 

Fun Fact #2: The vintage shops on Hawthorne don't open until eleven(ish). 

Walking around and killing time, we stumbled into 3 Dots & A Dash. Here is the next act of kindness. While admiring all of the beautiful furniture and accessories, Megan started talking to Cheryl, the store owner. Coincidentally, we had both bought Moo cards recently and this sparked a conversation about quality business cards and our blog. She asked all about our story, blog, and lives in general. Her kindness was in listening and giving encouragement. Cheryl was so supportive about our plans and even invited us to her craft nights. Immediately upon hearing the words "craft night," I'm pretty certain my eyes darted at Guy with the non-verbal cue equivalent to saying,"We are going." In turn, she let us learn all about her business and interests. I love meeting talented people that are willing to share like that. 

Fun fact #3: Anyone interested in refurbished, one-of-a-kind furniture NEEDS to check out 3 Dots and A Dash

These acts of kindness from perfect strangers may not seem like much, but they meant something to us. People being nice to other people; it's a simple thought that does not always happen. Sometimes it does not happen at all.  Whether Cheryl or our server at Bread and Ink even remember it, I will never forget their kindness. More importantly, I will pass it onward. We will pass it onward. 

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