Dine with me!


In 2012, due to an inflammation in my intestine, I started the Paleo Diet. This means basically, no grains, no dairy, no processed sugar, a few odds and ends like no white potatoes, no popcorn, and keep the
caffeine to a minimum- a 90/ 10 diet. Months later, I feel the best I have felt in years. In 2013, I am setting out to prove that, Yes, I can eat out in Portland and enjoy the life of a foodie. The rules are simple like the diet. I will eat my way from A - Z, and I must walk or use an alternative mode of transportation to get there. Join me. Stay Healthy. Eat Well.


Monday, January 14, 2013

The Aviary: Lessons Learned

It is January 11th, a little past five in the evening, and I am seated at the bar of the Aviary restaurant on Alberta street perusing their happy hour menu. Some sort of forgettable sexed up jazz serenades the early crowd. The bar is dimly lit, but clean, like a modern metal polished house, with a few simple couches that could have been in anywhere. What style the place has resides on the menu and the hair styling’s of the barkeep.  Pig is a favorite: ears braised, hooves crumbled and poached, and bacon, the i- dotted ink splotch staining the menu.

I am horrified.

There is the strong sense that I could be wrong. I run down the menu with what I can and cannot eat. I distract my nerves with a glass of Angelique Cabernet Franc, a necessary indulgence. I am hell bent on proving friends wrong that indeed I can have a foodie life on my diet, and Portland, a perpetual self-inflicted culinary orgasm should be the perfect place  to do this. However… at the Aviary while the food is pretentious in description and reeks of  cleanliness in design, there is a generous weight on cream, breading, and a scandalized love affair with cheese. Shit.

A few generous sips later, resolved, I order the tempura green beans. The breading is a rice flour, somewhat forgivable.  Now for the other reason I am here.

I start again.

It is January 11th, a little past five-thirty in the evening, and my career as a National Park Ranger, has come to a close, at least for now. I am celebrating. I am mourning. I am musing.

In my journal, I am creating a list of what I learned in the last five years.  It’s funny, at least to me, the first item on the list is How to climb a rope ladder.  Even though, throughout the course of the last five years, I came terms with my identity, my sensitivity, and discovered who I was, and yet, the first item that pops in my head, is that I learned how to climb a rope ladder.  Maybe it’s because that the sensational thing to say or maybe it’s because I am trying to avoid the obvious sentimental side of my nature. Either way, the truth is I can climb a rope ladder on a moving cruise ship, dangled over some of the most dangerous waters in the world. I, a former suburban couch potato, began my adventure with that act. In hindsight, and to connect those two thoughts, I think, by pushing myself physically, I was preparing myself for the emotional battle that lay ahead in the coming years.

Following on the list: Love exists in different forms, but mostly as a song sung by your fingers. This is important too. This is what the public didn’t see, at least at first. The hands love, the hands sing. I stumble in my thoughts. I sip the wine, ignoring the pain in my chest, and try to gracefully get a long green bean in my mouth. I am unsuccessful and their cold sweat sauce smears my beard. Sigh. I hope the cute blond next to me does not notice.

In Alaska, I learned how to listen to the light, that if you jump on a frozen lake it sings back, how to look at my feet to see what’s above and that my head is 7 ¼ inch long oval. I also learned my mom is human. When she visited Alaska, she reminded me that these sanctuaries, these places I have chosen to live are quiet; the places between the beats of your heart, this she said when she was human, and not my mother. She said it again when I chose to leave.

I learned community is not place, but people, that glaciers are flowing rivers of ice, and how to make blueberry jam. But most of all I learned to kiss. I learned who I am—  I am a gift to this world.
I take a break from listing, and give over to the sentiments of wine and write a love letter to Alaska, and one of advice to the future owner of the journal.

Places can break your heart. They can heal. They can teach if you listen-  if you’re brave.  If you can climb that rope ladder, the ship will take you all the way to a place where the heart first learns to sing. This I learned.  I raise my glass, alone and not alone, and silently I say goodbye.

My friends have arrived, and I am quickly distracted by the sundries and tipsy enough to comment on the cursive of the cute blond sitting next to me, which leads me down a rabbit hole, where I learn that he is a singer/songwriter for the local band Brainstorm which specializes in African guitar music? Am I flirting? My friend immediately becomes interested in the contents of her purse, while I fluster through a conversation. I never get his name. The evening calls and I leave with my friends. I wonder what he was writing in his journal. I wonder if he wondered about mine. There is that, I suppose. 

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