My brother Jesse loves to eat outside. At restaurants he’ll ask for an outdoor table and is even willing to wait for the privilege. Me? Not so much. It’s not that I’m completely opposed to eating outdoors, it’s more that I have a long list of criteria that must be met if I’m going to enjoy myself. For example:

  • No direct sunlight.
  • No wind.
  • No car fumes.
  • No cigarette smoke.

See, I’m picky. (But you already knew that.)

There are two places I enjoy eating outside: my back yard and my front porch. The front porch is great for cocktails at dusk because it faces west and sits 28 stairs up from the street so you get a wonderful view of the sky as it changes color and can watch the neighbors stream home at the end of the work day. Sometimes they’ll climb the stairs and join us for a while. It’s all very pleasant and neighborly.

Our back yard has a big rock wall at the back, a level grassy area, and then a slope down to another level that abuts the house. We have a funky wooden deck attached to the back of the house that was made less funky a couple of years ago by the addition of an herb garden set into a 6-foot long galvanized trough and a lovely round table made of white marble. Two trees anchor the corners of the yard on the upper level: a plum tree to the north that doesn’t bear fruit of any kind and a Stewartia to the south that we planted atop Chilton’s ashes so we naturally call it “the Chilton tree” and fret over whether it’s growing well enough since it’s still pretty spindly several years in. Along the south fence Greg tends to his raspberry canes and along the north fence he buries the pets when they die.

The pet cemetery includes graves for two pet rats (Sharpay and Gabriella), a fish, a snail, and Pigeon the rabbit who came to us the summer before Arlo’s kindergarten year and died this past June just after Arlo finished 6th grade.

We’d agreed to take on a rabbit as a pet because we thought it was a three year commitment, max. Instead, Pigeon soldiered on for seven years. When she was young and frisky she used to escape with some frequency and once made it all the way out to the corner of 29th & Pike before I caught her. We liked to say that she really just wanted to be a wild rabbit. She wasn’t particularly interactive but she was beautiful and had the softest fur ever.


Offering: Three sets of groovy plastic plates (four of each style) that are great for picnicking with younger children. One set features divided sections that are perfect for picky eaters. We haven’t used them in forever because Willa and Arlo can be trusted with real dishes and no longer require their foods not to touch.



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