Puffy Coats and Cat Sweaters

Audrey bought a sweater for our cat today. Suffice it to say, she was not a fan of playing dress-up. Poor Sydney. You can practically see “you shitty humans” written all over her face. Hey, I thought she was cute!


Last week was pretty interesting. I ended up working from home  Thursday and Friday due to the weather. We didn’t even end up with all that much snow – no more than 1″, really – but then it turned to sleet and freezing rain, and that created an icy mess. Fortunately, I have a very understanding boss and a job where I can easily work from home (and usually get a lot more done there, anyway). But after being cooped up for a couple of days I was feeling a bit stir-crazy come Saturday morning. So we probably shouldn’t have started watching Disc 1 of the Stephen King miniseries 11.22.63, because we got totally sucked in and ended up watching all four hours’ worth before budging from the couch around noon. It’s such a great book – probably my favorite King novel, and that’s saying a lot – and the miniseries is just different enough to make it feel unique. James Franco nails the lead role. When we finished I finally got outside and took a nice, long walk around the neighborhood. I’d tried venturing out  on Friday afternoon but the sidewalks were icy and after nearly falling a couple of times I gave up on that idea and decided staying inside and drinking Wild Roots vodka was the better idea. Mama didn’t raise no fools.

Yesterday, we went out to dinner at Der Rheinlander, a German restaurant in Portland that has been in business for 53 years. I have a longstanding love affair with the place; the first time my parents came up for a visit in 1994 we went here, and have been going ever since. It has been a holiday tradition for many years, one that I have written about fondly right here on ye olde blog. Sadly, they are closing for good on December 31st. Apparently there was big demand in the marketplace for a castle-shaped building. So we wanted to go one last time, and invited my parents along. My dad has been battling a cold and wasn’t feelin’ the schnitzel, but my mom joined us and, as always, we had a great time and an amazing meal that consisted of – for posterity’s sake – cheese fondue with white and rye bread and German sausage links; bier onion soup; and a chicken breast in a pepper cream sauce with sauteed mushrooms and spaetzle. Plus a couple of cocktails. It was so, so good.


The family that owns Der Rheinlander opened a chain of similar restaurants called Gustav’s, and their menu is basically the same, but the ambience just isn’t the same. The Rheinlander is more like a theme park: it’s a dark maze of adjoining rooms replete with cuckoo clocks on the walls and  strolling accordion players dressed in  Lederhosen. Campy? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. I will miss the place very much.

Today I ended up venturing out to the mall, a place I never go. Especially this time of year. But I was in need of a winter coat, since our weather is supposed to remain cold (30s – low 40s) for pretty much the next 10 days or so. And they’re predicting more chances of snow, which might translate to more days working from home. I can live with that. My mission was successful: I found a nice, warm “puffy” coat (Seinfeld, anybody?) and treated myself to conveyor belt sushi. I am living the high life, folks.

When I came home I called an old friend. Actually, my best friend from high school, Ted. We had been inseparable for three years when we lived on Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota, but had completely fallen out of touch with one another. I last saw/spoke with Ted in 1987 before he dropped off the face of the earth, and had been searching in vain for him for years. After turning up exactly zero leads, I figured one of three things had happened: he’d died, ended up in jail, or entered witness protection. Seriously. In this day and age, it’s not too difficult to find people.

And then, about a month ago, I got a message from his daughter on Facebook. I’d emailed her two years ago, thinking she might know him (she shared his last name and had also lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, where I knew he had at one time resided), but had never heard back from her. Then, quite suddenly, I did. Turns out Ted is her father, and he had legally changed his last name years earlier, which is why I was never able to find him on social media. We had not spoken in 29 years, and yet, it was almost as if no time had passed. Growing up an Air Force brat I never made any “permanent” friends, and Ted’s whereabouts had long been a mystery to me. I’m so glad I found him! He is the closest I have to a childhood friend, and we spent 45 minutes catching up and reminiscing today. It’s amazing how quickly you can bridge a three-decades gap. Ted’s a good guy. He has had his share of challenges in life, but haven’t we all? It sounds like he’s emerged stronger for his experiences. Turns out we have actually followed similar paths in life. Best of all, he now lives in Roseville, CA – a suburb of Sacramento. I have two other close friends who live there. I’m thinking a road trip in the near future might be just what the doctor ordered.

10 thoughts on “Puffy Coats and Cat Sweaters

  1. This post is chock full of goodies! I looooooved 11.22.63! Loved it! And I had never read a Stephen King book before, because truthfully, not my thing! But I couldn’t put the book down. Had no clue it was a miniseries!

    I would love that German place. I’m not a big fan of my ancestry’s food, but what you described actually sounded good to me!

    Yeah for finding old friends! I love that kind of thing. I’ve written a few posts quite a while back about finding old college friends. I met up with one at Starbucks, after discovering she lived 15 minutes from me! Unfortunately, I also found a friend, after a decade of Internet searches, on findagrave.com. Super sad😢 But explained a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes! Sorry to hear your friend had passed away. Like I said, that was one of my fears with Ted. Fortunately it was not the case. Whew!

      If you get around to watching the miniseries, I’m curious what you think. It starts out adhering pretty closely to the novel, but then takes a major departure and really turns into its own story. Tara and I like it very much despite (or maybe because of) this.


  2. HA! Mark, I freakin’ LOVE the photo of Sydney wearing the sweater! What a priceless look on her face!!! OMG, and she is such a cute cat!

    Never saw the Steven King 11.22.63 miniseries, but I do love his work. Also, I like James Franco as well. Great actor!

    Der Rheinlander looks and sounds like such an enjoyable place. Don’t ya just hate how so many smaller businesses are closing? It’s the same here in Philly.

    And it’s so ironic you posted about getting a new winter coat because I actually bought a new one myself today, I kid you not. I found it ( a lightweight but warm down coat) at Uniglo, and got it ON SALE for only $39.95, marked down from $79.95!!!

    Glad you found your friend!

    Btw, it final got freezing cold here and there’s snow in the forecast this week! Guess who is VERY happy?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know the really bizarre part, Ron? My coat also cost $39.99. I swear! How funny would it be if we actually ended up with the same exact one?!

      It’s been frigid here for a couple of weeks, but finally warmed up into the 40s today. Feels downright tropical.


  3. There are several friends with whom I have had no connection for decades. People drift in and out of our lives and I don’t know why. Impossible to find them as none are social media people and looking back we knew each other by first names or nicknames only.

    Liked by 1 person

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