Do not break it up by shopping online for women's wide shoes. This is one of the most depressing activities any woman with wide feet can engage in. Looking at page after page of shoes shaped like loaves of bread is very disheartening.
But what is heartening? I would say seeing an old friend and meeting a new one. It turned out to be the perfect antidote to a literature-induced funk.
In a strange case of it being a small world after all, my friend Amanda's dear friend Alison (who lives in Rhode Island) was the artist in residence for a week at Clark College, right here in Vancouver, Washington. Amanda came out to help with the installation at the Archer Gallery on campus.
We talked the ladies into taking a break and having dinner at our house on Friday night, and I can't think of anything to say about that except that it was the most fun I've had in a long time.
On Saturday night we went to the opening of the show. Alison managed to keep the boys engaged for hours by sending them on a scavenger hunt to find different things in the installation. She is obviously a genius.
I got to enjoy the inter-cultural experience of going out to Portland with all of the art folks afterwards. Some highlights:
We went to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner, and no one came to take our order for an entire hour after we were seated. An excitable Indian girl in our party (who, at the gallery, had encouraged Willem to shove an entire mini cupcake into in his mouth) took some serious initiative and served up our drinks from behind the bar. I don't mean she grabbed a pitcher of water. I'm talking draught beers and gin and tonics.
Then, because someone had the key, we went to the amazing abandoned Templeton building alongside the Burnside bridge and saw this. It was a party of sorts; I watched someone double-fist full-size bottles of champagne for the first time in my life. But Amanda, Alison and I were waiting to sit down somewhere a little less insane and have a quiet drink with just the three of us.
We eventually ended up at Clyde Common, which is still my new favorite place. Once again, one dish (the house salad) was totally forgettable, but the good stuff was so very good. Like a Gruyère grilled cheese sandwich with nettle and walnut pesto. And a flatbread with roasted beets, goat cheese, and pistachio pesto. Good food, good drinks, and even better company.
I got home just before three in the morning. I'm way too old to do that anymore.
On Sunday Shaun and the boys and I went to our local hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Lakeside Chalet, and were delighted to find that our server was Nels's school bus driver. Shaun had corned beef hash (the kind that comes out of a can and delivers a year's worth of sodium on one plate) and I had the "Small Breakfast": an egg, two pieces of toast, bacon, and hash browns. For under five dollars. It was a very different outing than the one of the night before, but equally life-affirming. And equally un-Flannery O'Conner-esque.