That’s Hill Areas.

This past week, my coworkers decided it would be fun to keep a running tally of all our puns. Team Content is pretty witty, and I’m always down for a friendly competition, so I was on board with the idea. Our newest hire, whom I shall henceforth refer to as Not-A-Palindrome (or NAP for short), broke out her white board and kept track of every pun uttered or written throughout the week. By EOD Friday I’d tallied up 14 (of course it was 14), winning handily (Deb (who does not get a nickname because I’ve already outed her on here several times) finished 2nd with four) on the strength of gems like “Arkansas has mountains? That’s hill areas.”

Quit groaning, dammit.

I didn’t win a trophy or anything – just bragging rights. Which seems like a pretty crappy reward, if you ask me. It’s not like I can put that on my resume.

Hmm. Or can I…?!

SKILLS: Master Punner.  Adept at word play that suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect.

That could totally be my ticket in the door somewhere.

Oh, we have also all agreed to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. It was Tamale Girl’s idea, and though I’ve never done it before, I was on board with the idea. In case you are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month; the goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. You earn participation and writing badges by completing specific milestones. Now, I don’t actually think I’ll be able to finish my book by 11:59 p.m. on November 30, but my goal is to  jumpstart my current novel-in-progress, which has been stuck in idle for the past eight months or so. I’ll put it this way: I started it a couple of years ago and am 30 pages in. I love the concept and what I’ve written so far; it’s just been hard to find the motivation to sit down and work on it when I already write for a living. NaNoWriMo should give me the kick in the ass I desperately need. It’s been five years since I published No Time For Kings. My follow-up is long overdue.


Conveniently, the weekend before, I’m planning a solo trip to the Washington coast. Tara is going to Nevada for a week to spend time with family, so I booked myself a vintage travel trailer at the Sou’wester Lodge in Long Beach, WA for two nights and plan to devote the entire time to my novel. This will be Oct. 30-Nov. 1, so it’s the perfect lead-in to NaNoWriMo. Feels weird that I’ll be spending Halloween alone in a tiny camper on the coast, but it’s not like I have kids who still go trick-or-treating. And with Tara 900 miles away, why not? I’m looking forward to the mini-getaway.

I’m curious to see what the rest of my team ends up writing, too. I actually had no idea they were all thinking about or in the process of writing books. That’s pretty cool.

You may or may not be aware that I live in Vancouver, WA. Even people who have known me for years sometimes assume I’m an Oregonian, but nope: I live just across the river from Portland. I love Vancouver for many reasons, but mostly because it’s close to Portland (a mere seven minutes away) without being Portland. So we get all the benefits of their culture – great restaurants and bars, rock ‘n roll shows, festivals, all a mere bridge or two away – but it’s more laid-back here, not to mention cheaper. And there’s no state income tax, so our paychecks are 9% higher.

Some of that is changing, though. Vancouver is slowly becoming more Portland-like, for better or worse. Case in point: some of that city’s top chefs are crossing the river to open restaurants in Vancouver in order to take advantage of cheaper rents and tap into a less-competitive market. That’s a win for us. (Less winning: our housing prices are also creeping up. You take the good with the bad, I suppose.) In fact, this month Vancouver kicked off its inaugural DINE THE ‘COUVE, a month-long event where participating restaurants are offering three-course fixed dinners for $23. Kind of like Portland’s Dining Month in March, but $6 cheaper (and this perfectly illustrates the difference between the two cities). Granted, there are only 14 (wow, again!) restaurants participating this year, but I’m sure that number will expand in coming years.

So Friday night we decided to take advantage and visit one of the restaurants. After perusing menus we chose Heathen Brewing Feral Public House, an up-and-coming brewpub in downtown Vancouver. Now, I have never been a beer fan, but I was willing to be open-minded and thought I might not hate a sour ale. Tara ordered a flight of seven beers, and that is when hell froze over for the second time last week.*

sour_beers_4-e1351288706461Five of the beers were downright nasty in my opinion, one was decent…and another one I really liked. So much so that I ended up ordering a glass. It was a “Mojito Sour Ale” and wasn’t the least bit hoppy, which has a lot to do with why I liked it. Instead, there were pronounced notes of lime and mint, and it had a nice, acidic kick. I am sold.

*Earlier in the week, Glenn Beck endorsed Hillary Clinton. All that’s missing is flying pigs. 

As for the food? You had a choice between four appetizers, four entrees, and three desserts. All for $23 – quite a steal! I ended up choosing the following:

  • Sauteéd brussel sprouts, garlic, bacon, served in a dijon wine and cream sauce, topped with grated cheese and bread crumbs.
  • Herb encrusted pan roasted center cut pork tenderloin, served atop madeira demi glace, seasonal vegetables (zucchini and asparagus), laced with blackberry chipotle gastrique and a creamy (to die for, actually – this was not part of the actual description but should have been!) polenta.
  • German chocolate cake.

I cleaned my plates, too. Even the cake, which I brought back home and enjoyed while listening to a Moondoggies record. It was not a bad evening.

Yesterday we had planned on heading to Hood River for the annual Fruit Loop, but a big storm was forecast so we decided it would be wiser to stay home. We enjoyed a lazy day watching movies, and I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup that perfectly hit the spot.

The storm itself? Some were calling it a bust, but we did have wind gusts over 50 mph and the NWS called it the windiest October day since 1967, so I’m not sure what they’re talking about. It turned out to be a great day to stay home. We are heading out to the Fruit Loop today instead.

Which means apples for the next few weeks.

11 thoughts on “That’s Hill Areas.

  1. My son (who is in the Army) is back from Germany and after his month of leave will be stationed out your way at Ft. Lewis, WA. That is one trip I want to make. Your stories and photos (and my son!) are the impetus for this! I want to visit both (the other!) Portland and Seattle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s awesome! JBLM is a beautiful area, and he’ll be close to both Seattle and Olympia. If you do come out this way, by all means drop me a line – we’d love to meet you for dinner or cocktails (or, let’s face it, both). Just be sure to bring along a jar of dilly beans!


  2. best office contest ever!

    I’ll be thinking about you, hidden away in some cramped writer’s nook desperately trying to hammer out a novel while tryptophan and pumpkin spice abounds. Best of luck!


  3. Wow! That’s a good deal. Our 2 week CLE Restaurant Week just wrapped up and it’s $33 for same type of deal.

    And I did not hear that about Glenn Beck. I’m rather stunned.


  4. Mark, I’m both excited and happy for you in that you’re participating in the NaNoWriMo this year.

    ” a vintage travel trailer at the Sou’wester Lodge in Long Beach, WA for two nights and plan to devote the entire time to my novel. ”

    Actually, to me, that sounds VERY cool and a perfect way to spend your time devoted to your novel. I bet you’ll be inspired!

    And speaking of Portland, I just read something in the Sunday paper today that listed Portland, Oregon as the second city in the US for having the best food. And it’s funny because Philly has always thought it was the top foodie city in the US, therefore the article in the paper made many people here very upset. HA!

    Have a super week, buddy!

    P.S. My brother is flying up from Florida tomorrow and spending a week here in Philadelphia. We’ll be going to NYC this week and spending THREE WHOLE DAYS THERE. I am sooooooo excited!!!


    1. We have a great food scene out here, Ron. I’m curious what the #1 city is? I’d guess either Los Angeles or NYC.

      Speaking of, I hope you and your brother have a great visit. Looking forward to lots of good pics!! Here’s hoping you guys have some nice cool fall weather during his trip, as well.


    1. I am not promising 50,000 words – for me it’s more about getting back into my novel, which I have neglected for far too long. But I’ll give it the ol’ college try, as they say!


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