Tuesday, July 15, 2014

College trip, spudnuts, 18 years


Four hours later I started googling diabetes. That's how terrible I felt.
I took Isabel to look at colleges in the Pacific Northwest last week and she found two to which she will definitely apply and would happily go. I’m glad I’m not the one applying to college in 2014 because I’d never get in. I’m not being falsely modest. Three words: high school calculus. 


It was a beautiful trip and I’m already sentimental about our time together. How many more trips will there be for Isabel and me? There was fierce heat, lots of driving, lots of talking, lots of listening to The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, which was on the “suggested reading” list issued by my school every summer when I was growing up and therefore of less than zero interest to me. I'm glad I got over that, because it's gripping and wonderful and I highly recommend the audio version for a long drive.

In terms of food, the Spudnut Shop in Richland, Washington was the highlight for me, not because the spudnuts were so fabulous (they weren't), but because I've had a thing about spudnuts for 25 years. Do you know about spudnuts? They're donuts made with potato flour and there was once a chain of spudnut shops across the United States. Only a few dozen remain. You may be wondering what makes a spudnut special and I would say: nothing! Nothing at all. Maybe they're marginally lighter and fluffier than an ordinary donut. Maybe. Marginally. But the name and concept caught my fancy when I was young and impressionable and now I get excited whenever there's a chance to visit a spudnut shop, so when we found ourselves 40 miles from Richland, we made the detour.

You don't need to go.
This place was a total . . . let’s just say it was cluttered and "real." The donuts were pale inside, pillowy, and yummy, but not significantly better than what you'll find at your local supermarket. I'm still glad we made the pilgrimage. It gave me a momentary thrill and now I can cross it off the list.

We ate some other tasty things on our sojourn: the strawberry birthday cake ice cream, wonderfully rich and jammy, at Salt and Straw in Portland. The cream-filled donut from Voodoo in Eugene, which might have been Isabel's favorite food of the trip. A humongous tub of buttered popcorn at the movie theater where we saw Maleficent. How bad for you is movie theater popcorn? I can't bring myself to look. 

The day after we got home, Isabel flew off to visit Mark’s family in New England. Since then, Mark and I have been on our own. Half the time I'm blue and filled with dread of the coming empty nest, half the time we're having fun. So much more fun than usual. It turns out that constantly nagging people to start their homework, feed the chickens, and put their dirty socks in the hamper is stressful. Who'd have thought. We celebrated our 18th anniversary this past weekend by going to see Venus in Fur (**) and Life Itself  (***), then dining at Tommaso’s, a dated and lovable Italian restaurant in North Beach. We ate clams and veal saltimbocca and Mark drank a cup off coffee with the meal and I drank a glass of wine and felt very happy and very lucky. 

24 comments:

  1. I love this. thanks.

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  2. This is lovely. You have been missed!

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  3. Wow! That is one donut fest for sure. Tommaso's? What a blast from the past that place is, coal burning pizza oven, roasted peppers with tons of olive oil and good bread after waiting in line for at least an hour. Happy Anniversary to you both and here's to many more. P.

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    1. I'm afraid Tommaso's may have declined in popularity -- no wait. I'd never been there before and we waltzed right in on a Saturday night.

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  4. Well it was worth the wait! I loved this post. Happy anniversary, and I am glad you are enjoying your time alone with Mark. Think of this as a rehearsal for what's to come. I am confident that you will find your way, but you still have a while to adjust. Owen will be around for a while. Remember the conflicting emotions when you want to throttle him! You know, movie popcorn was healthier before we made them stop using coconut oil, but maybe they have gone back to using it? Don't worry about it, it's all part of the experience. This was written in your usual manner; honest, lyrical, and humorous. Thanks for sharing your trip with me.

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    1. I love movie popcorn so much. I just don't want to know. If this is a rehearsal for what's to come, the empty nest will be ok.

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  5. Many happy returns!

    There is a spudnut place near here that was hyped like crazy--I also have had a strange fixation on them since hearing about them as a child--and it was profoundly underwhelming.

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    1. It's one of those things that just grabs you, a SPUDNUT. I can't give up on it, even though I've never had one that impressed me.

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  6. there's a spudnut place in Charlottesville that Maddy says sells out every day...have yet to try it. I feel you on the empty nest thing, most of the time it's great to have time to hang out with Ian, but I'm always happy when everyone is home.

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    1. You should try the spudnuts and tell me what you think. The empty nest continues and we're having a great, great time and yet I'm counting the minutes until we're all together again, very likely bickering.

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  7. Congratulations on 18years, and thanks for sharing the highs, lows, poignant and frustrating moments.

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    1. I feel like I've stinted on the highs, of which there have been many. . .

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  8. Happy anniversary!

    And hmm ... Reed for sure and possibly Lewis and Clark? Or, considering the heat, Whitman? I don't see Isabel in Walla Walla, though.

    There's no way I'd get into college these days either. I didn't start my own nonprofit, didn't invent an app (or the 80s equivalent), didn't become a concert-level musician, didn't start a group to do international relief aid ... heck, I didn't even volunteer anywhere. All I did was study and hang out with my friends. Actually now I'm surprised I got into college back then. Thank God Isabel is much more accomplished.

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  9. Happy (belated) anniversary! Here's a bit of weird trivia for you...apparently, my home city of Rochester, NY has a public drinking fountain named after Miss Jane Pittman. Yeah, the fictional character gets a memorial fountain in the same city that was home to Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony in the 19th century (to be fair, they share joint naming status on our new expressway bridge...but Miss Jane Pittman got hers first by many years). I guess it's been there 25 years, but I just learned about it recently and have yet to seek it out.

    http://wxxinews.org/post/rochester-celebrates-25th-anniversary-miss-jane-pittman-drinking-foundation

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  10. It might be silly, but I hope one of the Pacific Northwest schools is Whitman. I went there (class of 2001, so it's a good while ago now), and just loved my experience there. Plus, the food in Walla Walla has gotten pretty darn good, so it would be a fun place for you to visit!

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