Are you a sniffer too?

I was trying to get my two-year-old to smell some of the basil plants for sale outside the grocery store when a dude walked up, stood in the middle of the driving lane for the parking lot, and asked, “Are you a sniffer, too?”

I probably made some polite noncommittal noise.

“I’m from California, and when you walked down the street there, it was like, nothing. Here, when you walk down the street, it almost stinks with all the flowers!”

“Oh, yeah!” I agree, pushing the stroller along its way.

I wonder what part of California he’s from.

Maybe the valley.

My raspberry

I took the toddler raspberry picking this morning, at a little family farm alarmingly close to the train tracks.

It took him a few minutes to get the gist of it — to figure out how to grasp and pull, and to only choose dark red raspberries, not green ones — but he figured it out eventually. He also liked taking the berries I picked and putting them in our container by himself.

“This one issa ready,” he’d say, picking his way down the line, choosing berries of varying redness.

We didn’t spend too much time there. I don’t have time to process a million raspberries within a day or two anyway, so we got maybe a few pints’ worth for $2. After we paid, the toddler insisted on pulling a raspberry out of the bucket. “My raspberry,” he said with authority, taking a gentle taste without actually biting it.

He hasn’t eaten one yet, but he’s very protective of his raspberry.


It was “D.B Cooper Night” at the Portland Pickles game, but it doesn’t make much of a difference when you go with two little kids. You mostly go back and forth, getting pizza and hot dogs, then while they’re eating you leave them with one adult to go get beers, then you go play catch behind the berm — don’t let your two-year-old get beaned with a baseball from another kid — then you watch the game for a few minutes, and wave your folding chair in the air when the Pickles score, and then it’s ice cream time, which takes some attention and “cleanup licks,” which your five-year-old will still require from time to time if you’re lucky. Then, ice cream done, it’s the eighth inning and past bedtime, so you roll down the hill before you load back into the car.

I think the Pickles won.

Time may change me

In sixth grade, we spent a week at Outdoor School. I’d grown up camping, so I was in my element, as much as any insecure 12-year-old can be. We stayed in cabins with teenage counselors, spent all day outside, drew pictures about the water cycle, and took time to really notice lichen.

To be clear—I did then, and still do, enjoy taking time to really notice lichen.

One night, a big group of us were in a cabin before bed. One of the male counselors gave us a challenge: if we could think of something that didn’t change, he would cut off one of his dreadlocks.

The lesson here, of course, was that everything changes. He’d never had to cut off a dreadlock, despite posing this question to many groups of kids. (Maybe he was adult staff, not a high schooler? Sixth grade was a long time ago.)

Some kids tried to stump him, to no avail. Then my friend Kim raised her hand.

“Your social security number.”

He tried a few arguments, but Kim, short, smart, bubbly, shot them all down. Finally, he had to concede. “Should we get some scissors?” someone asked.

In answer, the counselor gravely pulled out a large knife and walked out of the room.

This drama a strong effect on the children from the suburbs.

He returned with a dreadlock in hand. Kim took it happily.

I think she kept it for a while.


I started the first day of a couch to 5k program this morning. Running, or jogging, anyway, seems like a reasonable thing to take up. Going to the gym is expensive and takes so much time, but you can just step out your door and start running, right? My running shoes are probably 15 years old, but I’m not going to buy new ones until I’ve finished this lousy program. Maybe I’ll give it a month to see how much I hate it.

I have never had a good attitude about cardio.

So I walked for 90 seconds, ran for 60 seconds, mostly in grass in the park near my house because I’m 39 and one has to think of their joints, you know. On my way out, swallows started to swoop, flying in circles close to the ground. They started flying around me. They’d come up behind me so close, I was worried I’d kick one without seeing it. I watched them for a while, workout done, marking their patterns.

Swallows, I don’t like this any more than you do.


Around Christmas, I was checking out at my usual grocery store.

“I hate this time of year,” the checker sighed.

“Oh, yeah, its awful,” I commiserated. I’ve worked retail during the holidays. “People are just losing it, or what?”

“They just don’t have money,” she replied.

I think about this conversation all the time.

What did you do

I’m walking down the street, and two young dude-presenting people are shooting the shit near a couple of trucks that may or may not be theirs.

“Your last day was yesterday?”

“Nah,” the second one says, halfway to morose. “It was today.”

“Your last day was today and you did THAT?”

I wasn’t about to ask, but I really want to know.

That explains it

While I was putting my toddler back into his car seat, I watched two people wander around the trunk of a car parked in the middle of the road. Why the car was parked there, I had no idea, since there was plenty of free street parking directly next to it. I wasn’t sure I could pull out with them there.

“Do you need help?” I asked. Kind of passive aggressive, sure, but maybe they did need help.

“Do you know where 2720 Clinton is? It should be right here, right?”

“I don’t know. Why are you parked in the middle of the street?”

“I’m a Lyft driver.”

“…there’s plenty of parking right there.”

He moved the car.

It’s not too bad

I had the kind of morning that could have set me off the rails.

We got a slow start because we had to go pick up the car. I decided to work at bakery by the car place, but the wifi wouldn’t connect. There was a big hunk of hazelnut shell in my pastry.

“It’s fine. I’ll make a positive out of this.”

I went to read my book, but a dude across the room kept piping up with loud comments every 30 seconds while his companions chewed:

“This place started on Kickstarter! If you gave money you got like, a loaf of bread.”

“Granola is very good.”

“Brazilian bread is like, this ball of cheese and bread.”

So I gave up, and decided to go for a walk. Walks are almost always the right decision, so I decided to hoof it to the library 10 blocks away.

I pulled out my sunglasses, and they were missing a stem.

Somehow, I still feel okay. I’ll get some work done. Nothing is ruined, other than my sunglasses.

I’m firmly on the rails.


On my way to taking the kids to the play place this morning — because I’m so cool, I guess — I passed a dude wearing a t-shirt advertising the neighborhood cannabis shop.

“Huh, does he work there?” I wondered.

Then I realized the dude was carrying a small brown handled bag.

When I was younger — remember grunge? Back then, or thereabouts, it was impossibly unsophisticated to wear a band’s t-shirt to their concert. This guy is wearing the —cannabis shop’s t-shirt on his morning weed run?

So uncool.