Pepper Blizzard

I had a spice crisis a couple of days ago and am just barely starting to feel comfortable in the kitchen again. Friday morning I was making myself a breakfast sandwich before work and needed a little black pepper for the coup de grace. I reached for a canister we had just bought from the store but it still had the plastic “tamper-proof” strip around the top. After attempting to pry that off with a knife, the whole thing exploded in a fine black powdery blizzard that settled softly over everything. The stove. The kitchen floor. The feta cheese I was about to add to my sandwich. And me. I looked like I had a raging case of black dandruff. So I cleaned everything up and, stubborn guy that I am, ate the sandwich anyway. Feta and all. An hour later my mouth was still burning, but by god I hadn’t had to throw the feta away, saving myself $1.98.mccormick-pepper

Classic case of it-could-only-happen-to-me.

And you know, the next day I did toss the feta in the trash after all, because that pepper was potent. Now I’m being careful with the caraway, gentle with the ginger, deliberate with the dill, mindful with the marjoram, and precise with the paprika. I have no desire to deal with another spice emergency quite so soon.

Then Friday night we met up with our friend Kara for drinks and dinner at a bar in Portland. This place has a great vibe, good food, very reasonable prices, and heavy-handed bartenders. Every time. I knew this going in, but my Bloody Marys were tasting really good so I kept ’em coming, forgetting the fact that I am considerably smaller than before. Suddenly it was four hours later and weird things were happening. Like, apparently I drunk-Facebooked a status update that was riddled with errors and then later deleted it out of embarrassment, but not before a bunch of people had seen it and commented. Oops. The next morning I awoke with a hangover, which is pretty significant because I famously never get hangovers. Tara felt bad for me, but also, she gloated a little. A couple of Excedrin took care of the headache, but I felt kind of “swimmy” for much of the day.

Fortunately, we were going to the beach, so that turned out to be rather apropos.

It wasn’t the best day to head to the Oregon coast for several reasons, the biggest being the thick layer of smoke and haze that drifted over Portland when the wind shifted direction and blew all the smoke from wildfires in Oregon and Washington our way. It was really bad all over, and our air quality rating dropped to “unhealthy” for the first time in forever. We were hoping Cannon Beach would be clear, but nope. The usual ocean breezes were not blowing this time around. On top of that, we ran into a 45-minute delay on the way over due to an accident. “This has never happened before!” I told my wife as we inched forward excruciatingly slowly. (Little did I know that coming home 10 hours later we would run into another costly delay because the whole freakin’ highway was closed due to a fire. Seriously, what are the odds? And also, is anything not burning out there?!).

But, there’s no such thing as a bad day at the beach. I call it ocean therapy. We took a long walk down the sand past Haystack Rock, caught up on some reading, people-watched, grabbed dinner at a seafood market in town, and caught the sunset. Great day. Take that, smoky air!

smoke
Smoky air over the Columbia River.

I really wish it would clear up, though. It’s weird to walk outside and have it smell like a campfire everywhere you go. The wind is supposed to shift back this evening and blow the smoke back east, away from us. Can’t wait. I swear, this has been the worst summer in ages. So hot and dry. And yet, there are signs of change in the air. Like this tree in our apartment complex.

tree

Now that’s a sight for sore eyes!

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12 thoughts on “Pepper Blizzard

    1. Well, that’s one way to put a positive spin on it! I was not happy, though. For one thing, it was pitch dark, so there was no enjoying the loveliness that is Vernonia – not at that hour, anyway. Plus, the detour cost us another 45 minutes. Looks like the highway is still closed today, too. Sure hope they get all these fires under control.

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  1. The worst is when you accidentally open the wrong side of the spice and you go to casually shake it out, waiting for soft sprinkles until a mound of spice drops onto your plate like a mudslide. At that point, you know it wasn’t the Gods who had done you wrong but only yourself.

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  2. Few things I like more than a big old baked potato with about half a stick of butter and somewhere close to a tablespoon of black pepper on it. Wash it down with a mediocre Riesling or some other sweet white and you don’t even need steak or a salad. Just wine and the biggest damn russet you can find.

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  3. You are the only person I ‘know’ who drinks a Bloody Mary! Very retro.

    I’m the opposite of you, as I’m practically weeping at every leaf on the ground. Summer should last forever!

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    1. Really? I think Bloody Marys might be more of a “thing” out here. I will admit, not many people drink them in the evening, but they’re very carb-friendly for me. And, hello. Delicious!

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