Ice cubes on the shoreline

Just east of Portland is this amazing park called Thousand Acres. It’s a dog’s dream. There’s river access and miles of trails and marshland. On any given Sunday, hundreds of dogs romp through the brush there, sniffing butts and splashing through puddles and rolling in delicious smells.

Today was no different. We brought the dogs (including our 80-year-old neighbor’s puppy Golden Retriever-yellow Lab mix*) and they ran and ran and ran for hours.

It was a brisk day for Portland—high 30s, no cloud cover. Ice cubes lined the shore of the Columbia. Most non-polar bear mammals would consider this “too cold for swimming.” Not so for our dogs.

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So… this happened

We got married! The wedding was awesome in every way possible. Here is a small selection of the more than 900 wonderful photos our photographer took. Photo credit: Bryan Rupp Photography

What what? February already?

Hey there, Internet.

There’s but a week left in February and yet this is my first post of 2011. And it’s a picture post at that. Shame on me, the writer who never has time to write anything that isn’t for a client.

[Well… not entirely true. Check out my new food blog: Remember the Pudding.]

Behold the Great Fence Replacement Project of 2011:

BEFORE: This was in May 2010. In the background, you can see the old fence, which was precariously lop-sided. Panels would sometimes randomly fall out.

BEFORE: This was in May 2010. In the background, you can see the old fence, which was precariously lop-sided. Panels would sometimes randomly fall out.

AFTER: The fence is no longer falling down. It now features a door to the alley and a trellis, which, with any luck, will fill out with luscious grapes, hops and beans that will help mask the eyesore that is my neighbor's never-ending roof project. Seriously, that tarp has been sitting there for going on 6 months at this point.

AFTER: The fence is no longer falling down. It now features a door to the alley and a trellis, which, with any luck, will fill out with luscious grapes, hops and beans that will help mask the eyesore that is my neighbor's never-ending roof project. Seriously, that tarp has been sitting there for going on 6 months.

A closer look at the door and the trellis.

A closer look at the door and the trellis.

Not fence-related at all, obvs. Today we took the dogs to Thousand Acre Park, an amazing dog area at the Sandy River delta. A thousand acres (duh) of off-leash trails: dogs are everywhere, pathways meander through meadows and puddles abound. A 20-minute walk brings you to the protected shores of the Columbia (excellent stick-retrieving waters). Anyway, this was the car ride home—they were (and still are) completely zonked.

Alright… this Presidents’ Day weekend is coming to a close and it’s time to hit the hay. Until next time, Internet!

When you’ve got a Chuckit up your you-know-what

It’s a lovely fall day here in Portland, one of those days too beautiful not to spend outside. So I load up Calla and my friend’s dog, River, into the car and drive them over to the huge off-leash dog park in St. Johns, where they’ll be in heaven and I’ll be basking in the lovely autumn sun.

The park is huge — a few acres, at least. Dogs and muddy tennis balls are everywhere. River, who is part labrador and all about fetching, immediately finds two worthy tennis balls and bounces around the park in a proud victory lap. (Calla, meanwhile, sniffs the perimeter and moseys around aimlessly — her favorite pastime, other than farting.)

I throw the tennis ball for River until my shoulder hurts and she loses interest. She gallivants off with the pack of dogs; Calla continues to sniff, stopping occasionally to eat a stick I’ve thrown for her (another favorite pastime of hers). Forty-five minutes elapse.

Enter The Cranky Lady. She’s got three or four dogs and a Chuckit. River loves Chuckits and can spot one from a mile away, so naturally, she comes barreling over. Problem is, none of The Cranky Lady’s dogs are particularly interested in chasing her launched tennis ball, and, even if they were, River is part greyhound and could outrun them with her legs tied together. Ever the toy thief, River collects the deposited tennis ball and runs off.

“Give me back the damn ball!” I hear her yell.

OK, whoa. You’re at a dog park, lady. Yeah, it can be annoying when another dog steals your dogs’ ball, but it’s kinda what happens when you go to a dog park. Especially when your dogs aren’t inclined to retrieve.

But I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, so I intervene. I call River and tell her to drop it, which she does right away. I pick up the ball and walk it over to The Cranky Lady.

“I’m sorry!” I say, as politely as possible. “River is a bit of a Chuckit thief.”

“It’s OK,” she says, perfectly pleasantly. And then: “You don’t play with her?”








There are few things I despise more than pleasant-sounding yet passive-aggressive jabs. ESPECIALLY at a stranger, about whom you know nothing and are basing your judgment on nothing but assumption. I don’t PLAY with her? Seriously? I’ve been dogsitting River since Wednesday and have spent MANY HOURS throwing frisbees and sticks and tennis balls for her, over and over, until she collapses in the grass in exhaustion. And, I have spent the last half hour PLAYING with her. And now she’s PLAYING with other dogs — believe me, this dog is by no means neglected. So there’s really no need for that “I’m a more attentive dog owner than you” condescension.

But I don’t say any of that. “Uh, I’ve been playing with her for a while and now she’s just doing her own thing,” I say. “Besides, she’s only interested in other dogs’ balls.”

This is true. The frisbee I brought to entertain her couldn’t be of less interest at the moment.

“Oh,” she says, with that holier-than-thou tone. “I guess we’ll move.”

And she walks away. River goes back to playing with the other dogs. Calla continues to sniff, and chase after the occasional stick when the mood strikes.

The Cranky Lady leaves fifteen minutes later.

I stay an hour and a half.

So who doesn’t play with their dogs?

HINT: It’s not me.

By the way, the dogs are now sound asleep.

After a drought comes the flood (of words, dog pee, what have you)

Okay, so last week didn’t work out so well in the “blog twice a week” department. But hey—what can you do?

So, here we are on Monday, and I’ve got a mental list of tiny things to tell you about. Here’s to hoping I remember at least some of the items on it:

Calla update!
Last week Calla went ahead and developed an allergic reaction to something—possibly her new incontinence medication. Seemingly overnight, her head, neck and cheeks grew more scabby pockmarks than the face of a hormonal teen. So not only did she have to stop taking the anti-leak drugs, but she needed a cortisone injection to reduce the itchiness, which also happened to make her extremely thirsty. It doesn’t take a biology PhD to put that combo together: One incontinent dog – incontinence meds + increased water intake = a sea of urine vast enough to host the next sailing world cup, located (of course) on the bed of yours truly. Like the age-old saying goes: If it’s not one thing, it’s sure fucking is another.

Last weekend was Kleinman, a big ultimate tournament that comes to Portland every year. I had a great time; my team went 4-3; it was very hot; lots of people contracted food poisoning from the burritos they served for dinner. The most exciting thing was that a couple of my shining moments were caught on tape (in the first photo, I’ve just completed a diving catch in the endzone for a score; in the second, I’ve grabbed the disc even as a taller male defender closes in):


Heat wave!
So the hottest place I’ve ever visited was Arizona in late May, about 4 years ago. It was 105 degrees, and “dry heat” or not, it was downright unpleasant. (I wrote about the trip on this blog — it was the time Chelsea made a beeline for my friend’s mother’s swimming pool, much to my host’s shock, who was worried not that a dog was in her pool but that the dog may not know how to swim.) Anyway, two weeks ago it was 105 degrees IN PORTLAND, which is considerably worse than in Phoenix, where even the attic is air-conditioned. In Portland, the land of constant rain and moderate climate, we don’t own air conditioners, just like we don’t own snow plows: they are unnecessary. EXCEPT, of course, when there’s a ridiculous heatwave that makes you want to do nothing but complain all the live-long day. UGH. I am SO glad that is over.

I am going on a bonafide vacation this week, starting on Wednesday. First, I fly to New York City for ONE DAY ONLY (New York readers of this blog, take note, and then email me if you’d like to meet up), then I drive to Vermont with two friends I haven’t seen in years to go to our SUMMER CAMP REUNION (!!!) for the weekend. I am so excited I can barely think about anything else. Oh, so this is funny: at Alumnae Camp there is always a silent auction. This year, they’ve gone high-tech (sort of) and put the items up for bid online, to allow people who can’t make it the chance to out-bid me on the hand-knit hat I really want. But the person who registered the URL misspelled the word “auction,” and in typical camp fashion, they decided not to correct it but to proceed onward anyway. So, if you’d like to participate in a silent aution, you can do so at As a friend put it: even the ‘c’ is silent in this auction.

Reunion II!
Sadly, it’s been five years since I graduated college. WTF?! I received an invitation to my 5th year reunion this weekend. It announced: “Register by October 4 and get the discounted early-bird registration fee!” That’s great and all, but the reunion takes place on… October 8! A mere four days after the “early-bird” fee ends. What this means: a) were a student body FULL of procrastinators, not unlike myself, which is why we chose a school that runs on a block system in the first place and b) “early-bird,” at least to Colorado College alumni, actually means “at the last possible second.”

Goodbyes, and plans for more reunions.
My roommates, Rachel and Hanu, left yesterday to head back to Pennsylvania for graduate school. It was awesome having them here for the summer, sharing CSA veggies and dog-watching responsibilities and freshly-picked raspberry smoothies. Calla and I will miss them both dearly, though I am luckier than Calla as there is a chance I’ll see her in November for a “meet up with all of my friends who left Portland and moved to the New York area” reunion. There are some more goodbyes coming up in the next week or so that I’m not looking forward to. Sigh. Why does everyone move to New York? It makes me fear that someday, I’ll go back, too.

That’s all she wrote. I’ve been staring at a computer screen for nearly 12 hours now. Time for a beer.