Tuesday Thoughts

1) We live in a generation of “do-ers”. “Can I do a venti americano?” “Can I do a single shot mocha with extra chocolate powder, non-fat, double tall skinny with whole milk and six shots of soy lecithin?” These are the same people who “do” countries. “Well, we just got back from Southeast Asia. We did Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. We wanted to do Bali  but there wasn’t enough time. And yeah — now we’re back in Seattle. This morning I’m going to do a breakfast bagel and then do I-5 on my way to work and then in the afternoon do Greenlake. Tonight I hope to do some gnocchi.”

2) Instagram is at once the largest collection of creativity and unoriginality in the world. Some of the posts are breathtaking and original. But most are not. My favorite is when people say, “Words cannot describe….” followed by another banality like “….how much I love you guys, how much you guys mean to me, how fun this was, etc etc.” But here’s the thing: It’s not that words can’t describe it, it’s that you don’t have those words.

Another one I like is, “Couldn’t ask for…..” followed by: “…a better group of friends, a better weekend, a more perfect fiance, a better trip, etc etc.” What better place to express your heartfelt gratitude than on Instagram! And what better way to do it than by saying something that sounds like it was cut and pasted from a Hallmark card reject section.

3) It’s been raining all morning. However, after many years of living in or near Seattle, I’m finally prepared.  I have on: rain boots, a rain coat, and a waterproof backpack. I almost want to be in the rain.

Weekend Thoughts

1) I’m happy to report I’m getting better at holding babies. Babies can sense when you feel uncomfortable holding them. I am now able to (usually) hold my sister’s twins without them immediately bursting into tears.

2) I just started reading Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse.  It’s already one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. P.G. Wodehouse had a 70 year literary career. Seventy years! I wonder if Roald Dahl got much of his style from him. Their writing seems similar. I dare say that Wodehouse’s dialogue is better, though, if that’s even possible.

3) I saw Cory Kennedy skating down Ravenna today, the most famous pro skateboarder to ever come out of the Seattle area (aka Snohomish).  I said, “Cory Kennedy,” and he gave me a smile like, Why are you talking to me.

4) Whole Foods on Roosevelt is my new go-to place to work. Imagine a coffee shop that’s not a coffee shop all but a grocery store. Such is the situation at Whole Foods. They have a sitting area with internet, but instead of just being able to only get coffee you can get a La Croix, or a yogurt, or a block of brie, or a 12-pound bag of bulk chocolates. Why would anyone go anywhere else?

5) Went surfing this weekend at Crescent. Waves were tiny but the water was clear and cold and I’ve never felt so alive. I felt like a seal. I felt like an orca. I wanted to paddle across to Vancouver Island and live with the mountain lions and never come back.

6) I like the coconut La Croix flavor.

7) If you’re not eating plain cream-top yogurt at least once every other day there’s something wrong with you.

Uncle Billy

Hey everyone,

This is your Uncle Billy. I’m on a flight from Pisa to London right now, and then tomorrow back to the States. Why am I telling you this ? Because to commemorate my arrival I’d like you to prepare a banquet. 

Now, I know what you might be saying: Hey Bill, what kind of deli meats do you like? The answer: pretty much all kinds. I like pepperoni, ham, salami, turkey – is chicken a deli meat? Probably not.

We live in a cruel world.

I know some of you other folks might be thinking, but don’t have the guts to say, that no matter what kind of deli meats you get I’m going to be disappointed. This is simply not true. At the last get-together I only complained about the deli meats because they were garbage and because I wanted to make Aunt Sharon feel bad. Am I a bad person? I’m appalled you would even ask.

Anyway, I’m glad we had this little talk. It might not’ve been particularly interesting, but it was productive. Listen: I’m your uncle Billy. I’m here to make sure everyone has a good time. Remember two years ago when the caterer completely blew it and made the family reunion vegetarian, and we were forced to improvise? Me and cousin Darryl hopped in his truck and came back within 45 minutes with a two year old black tail. Was it an illegal shot? Technically. In the state of Arkansas, may her flag fly forever high, you’re not supposed to shoot firearms from inside a vehicle. So yes, it was against the law. But I think any law enforcement officer would be quick to appreciate how difficult the shot was and let Uncle D off with a slap on the wrist.

Plus, we had venison for days.

In addition to deli meats, John will be in charge of the beer. Karen, please take care of the silverware. The plastic kind is fine, since it makes it easier to clean up.

I’m so excited to see all of you. It’s been a great trip but to tell you the truth most of the time I’m in Europe I’m just pissed off.

God bless my family and God bless the United States of America,
Uncle Bill

Goenaga: A Tribute to Spain’s Finest Yogurt


God, I love yogurt.

Originally written 14 December 2015 while living in San Sebastian, Spain. 

Spain generally has shitty yogurt.  Spain also generally has shitty grocery stores.  This morning I went to the grocery store Lidl near my house and after five minutes of frantically dodging old people and unsuccessfully trying to find any yogurt that didn’t look terrible, I finally gave up and left and went to Eroski.

Eroski is substantially better than Lidl but still by no means what I’d call “great.”  Like I said before, great supermarkets do not exist in Spain.  Actually that’s not completely true.  The Corte Ingles supermarkets are the only supermarkets in Spain I’ve ever witnessed that might be termed “good.”  You can get Fage yogurt there (though sometimes only the nonfat variety which is awful), the aisles are fairly ample, and the selection is noteworthy..

In San Sebastian there is no Corte Ingles supermarket, so I’m forced to make due with my two favorites: Eroski and Super Amara.  Super Amara is wonderful (Spain wonderful); they have a variety of yogurts and not all of them make you want to wretch.  The best one they have, one that’s also carried by Eroski, is called “Goenaga.”

Goenaga comes in little blue tubs (the normal version) or green tubs (the low or nonfat version).  Unless you’re suffering from some kind of bizarre yogurt mental illness, you’ll buy the blue tubs.  You’ll take them home, you’ll perch over them like a vulture poised over fresh carrion, and  you’ll be delighted to find a little pro-biotic layer of creamy film on top that your spoon will slice through to get to the even creamier goodness beneath.  You will not eat one tub.  You will eat at least two.  And if you’re like me, you’ll eat all four tubs in one sitting, stopping rarely to breathe and ending with a dreamy smile on your face.

This little rant on yogurt leads to an even bigger rant on Spain in general.  There are some wonderful things about Spain.  There are some things that Spain, and Spaniards, do really well.  Yogurt, generally, is not one of them.  Supermarkets are definitely not one of them.  Ethnic food isn’t of them, either.  What do Spaniards do well?