In tandem

I woke up from a dream a couple of nights ago in which I was riding the front half of a two-person bicycle down a hill in the rain on a busy city street. I think we’ll call that a stress dream. But the only way I could have imagined this as a dream was as the regurgitation of an actual memory of going down a rainy hill on a two-person cycle with my other half screaming in fear the whole time. Steering was a nightmare. There was this sense that even if you wanted to stop or slow down, your partner wasn’t with you on that, and you were just about to hurtle out of control. It’s one thing to learn how to ride a bike, but it’s quite another to cause muscle memory confusion because half of the muscles riding the contraption aren’t yours and so the bike is constantly making unanticipated moves.

I suppose that gets better with practice, for those intrepid individuals who can push past the first wall of terror and shock. I am not so strong. We rolled the bike back next to the garage at my sister’s old house in Connecticut and sat down on the lawn until the shaking stopped.

But I acknowledge that some things get better with time. Walla Walla, for its own efforts, is mildly more fun to live in during springtime than in the nadir of winter. I am reminded, by the colorful daffodils and tulips that have pushed out of the ground on people’s lawns and in downtown, that we are an oasis in the desert. I am hearing now about things that were either held back from me because of my temporary disability, or because I am getting to know people better: there’s a fun group who go bowling every Thursday night, there’s another gang who started a Stitch ‘n Bitch on Wednesdays, there’s a shepherding dog trial event coming up in May, and a hot air balloon race in a few weeks, east of town, I think.

One of the things we have been able to do through my varying stages of not having a left ACL, having a dead person’s ACL replacement, and having a rehabilitated knee, is hit the restaurants. It is with this gratitude that I can write a bit about one notable venue, Pho Sho.

Cute name aside, Pho Sho has a small but strong menu of salads, rice and spring rolls, and, of course, pho. The pho tai, a rare beef pho, is the most delightful. Spicing is minimal and left up to the customers, via a series of chili and spice jars out on the tables, and folks should take advantage of them. Spring rolls are fresh—I often crave the peanut sauce that accompanies them. Entrees are priced in the high $8-to high $9 range, and I have wondered exactly why the price points are so tight but different, but that doesn’t really matter if you’re not going to own your own restaurant, I suppose. The chicken pho is less expressive but still well seasoned. Pho, though, really works better with beef. If you’re going to go veg, you’ll be happy that the vegetarian pho comes with amazingly crunchy cubes of fried tofu. 

The place is well lit, and the minimal decoration lets you appreciate the clean lines of the room and the heavy wooden tables. The communal table in the middle of the room is a great way to meet new neighbors, which translated into, in this small city, creating new friends to see the next time you sit down here to eat. A very satisfying, interesting meal, expect to pay about $30 for two big bowl of pho, an appetizer, and a pot of green tea.

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