The Hostess With The Mostest

photo: jparadisi

It was a Saturday, my weekend “on” at the infusion clinic. Weekends are hit or miss: only a few patients needing daily IV antibiotics, or as busy as a weekday shift, which is how busy this shift was. My nurse colleagues, clever and cheerful, kept the mood of the shift lighthearted, however.

I don’t know if our positive attitudes contributed, or if it was the other way around, because our patients were also lighthearted. Considering we were spending a Saturday together in an oncology clinic, this speaks volumes about the resiliency of the human spirit.

On a whim, during a lull in the morning we served our patients buttered toast and juice. It was a modest, spontaneous celebration received with joy.

The shift ran long. Expected at a friend’s home for bubbles and small plates, I rushed to get ready.

I have written before: I don’t go out much.

Do other nurses find the sudden transformation from duty to party as unsettling as I do? A quick shower to remove any bacteria hitching a ride home from work; applying a new red lipstick to enliven my poor face that’s been up since O’Dark-Thirty, forcing my feet from comfy clogs into black pumps after standing on them for an eight-hour shift. Looking at the results in a mirror, I felt like a magician.

I’m glad I made the effort. My friend is The Hostess With The Mostest, and the party was fabulous, with platters of delicate finger foods, and chilled, sparkling wines. The guests were glamorous. I saw old friends, and met new ones. It was fun.

That particular Saturday, work and home life melded into a full day of celebration: first at work with colleagues and patients, then again in the evening with friends.

 “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

Summer Weekend Guests Part I

Salt bowl, chocolate, and spurtle photo: jparadisi 2010

This weekend David and I happily entertained out of town guests. Besides the opportunity to spend time with people we love, we get to see our city, Portland, Oregon, through the eyes of visitors. Here are a few of the fun places we visited:

Bob’s Red Mill: 5000 SE International Way, Milwaukie, Oregon, uses antique millstones to grind whole grain products, which they package and sell. On weekdays you can tour the mill, then head over to the grain store and restaurant to buy products or have a hearty meal. I had the eggs and grits for breakfast, but could have had French toast, waffles, or one of many other choices from the bakery or espresso bar. Family friendly, Bob’s Red Mill has a vast selection of gluten-free products too. Bob’s steel-cut oats are an international award winner (also available gluten-free). If you buy some to take home, be sure to buy a hand-carved spurtle (Scottish porridge stirring stick) made by artisan Tim Cebulla from native Oregon myrtle wood.

The Meadow: 3731 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, Oregon. Okay, I know about sodium and high blood pressure, but it’s worth learning the discipline of moderation to shop at The Meadow. This unique establishment sells salt from all over the world. I think of it as geology for my kitchen. As a return customer, I already own one of their salt starter sets, and a bowl carved from pink Himalayan rock salt. So, I bought a bar of imported dark chocolate to melt directly in the salt bowl for dipping fresh strawberries and bananas into. The knowledgeable salesperson provided complete instructions on how to do it. Besides salts of the earth, The Meadow also sells a large assortment of fine chocolates, wines, and fresh flowers.

Pistils Nursery: 3811 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, Oregon, is down the street from The Meadows.  A marvel of design in a very small space, Pistils is a nursery and chicken habitat in a converted old house. Nestled in a largely residential neighborhood, my husband wondered how they keep their free-roaming, exotic chickens within the fenced yard. I’m curious how they keep the neighborhood cats out. At any rate, this homey version of a full-fledge nursery is a delight for the senses. I am kicking myself that this was one of the rare times I was without a camera. You’ll have to go see for yourself.