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Through the eyes of a 4 year old

Posted in Portland with tags , on March 22, 2008 by Donna Arriaga

So my sister-in-law was coaxing my little niece into eating her carrots. You know the traditional line, “Honey, eat your carrots. They’re good for your eyesight.” Well, my niece took three bold mouthfuls of cooked carrots and decided she had stretched the bounds of her young little palate enough for the day.

The next morning, my little niece crawled out of bed and went down to the kitchen where she found her mother busily preparing breakfast. My niece rubbed both eyes with her closed little fists. Then, with squinted eyes, she asked, “Mom, what’s that stuff over there on the counter?”

“That’s pancake mix, sweetheart.”

My niece responded, “Mom, those carrots are no good. They don’t make my eyes work better.”

Don’t!!! Try this at home.

Posted in Portland with tags , on March 1, 2008 by Donna Arriaga

clubber girl

Oh wait… Yes, this was it.

clabber girl


It was about 2pm when I climbed onto the number 15 bus. I was headed downtown, eager to devour a much yearned for torta de lengua to make up for the lunch I had missed out on. My impatient eyes scanned the bus for a diversion, anything to keep my mind off the tortuous food fantasies. Then, I saw her.

No, it couldn’t be. I looked again. I spotted those short, wavy locks of hair. Her shoulders were slightly raised, her head meekly tilted forward as if to say, “Come on, try. It’s really pretty good you know.” Above her picture, sure enough, was her name in bright red lettering — Clabber Girl.

But why was there a spork plunged into that half-empty can?! In disbelief, I watched the woman sitting kitty-corner to me thrust her spork into the Clabber Girl can and raise a mound of white powder to her mouth. Oy Vey! Woman, I thought to myself, baking powder…. WHY?

With a deliberate, yet strained motion of her tongue I could see her fighting to pry the stuff free from the roof of her mouth, from the deep crevices between her gums and the chipmunk-like pockets of her mouth. I couldn’t turn away… the spork went in for another plunge.

Staring by this time, I became fixated on the Clabber Girl can–forcing the imagination to conceive of a more palatable alternative. So, maybe she’s just got some insatiable craving for a swift sugar rush. Yes, toting a can of 10x perhaps? No, I reminded myself. It was the Clabber Girl. As the woman in transit repositioned her thumb to gain a better grasp on the Clabber Girl can, I saw that those Clabber Girl wavy locks and girlish eyes were not marketing baking powder but… cornstarch.

My freakish curiosity was somehow intensified by this revelation. Cornstarch. That powdery substance, so soft yet somehow so disturbingly chalky. And it was in her mouth! I watched on as her efforts at mastication became evermore belabored.

The reason behind these exaggerated motions was becoming all too vivid. My imagination’s eye shot over to recollections of slurries–those first few stirring motions intent on prying freshly wet cornstarch from the sides of my little mixing bowl. The Clabber Girl powder seems so damn intent on sticking, on not mixing. Then, she lets up. She lets up and my slurry is mixed, ready to use. But I remind myself… Use it quickly or she’ll retreat to the belly of my bowl. I shuddered and could not bring myself to look back up.