20 November 2017

It's November... you know what that means!

It's NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month is well underway. 

I've had a couple of complications with the novelling this month.  First, I took a week-long trip back to the ranch to help out the friend.  I only managed to write one day while I was there.  I am waaay behind on my word count.  I am trying like hell to catch up, but it's an uphill climb for sure.

The other complication is that I was called for jury duty, which is usually a one day commitment in my county.  But, this was for the Grand Jury, and I was selected, and it lasts for 30 days.  Thirty days!  I start on Wednesday, and it carries through until nearly the winter holiday.

I don't mind doing my civic duty and I'm retired, for crying out loud, so this should be a perfect arrangement.  BUT!!!  I am waaay behind on my word count and was planning on catching up during the last ten days of the month.  Now, I'll be dedicating time and brain power to deciding if the DA's office has enough evidence to indict and take to trial various members of our local community.

Not how I was planning to spend the tail end of November. 

I don't have time to grouse about my dad and brother and the big food holiday.  Maybe I'll give you an update after the fact.  I also don't have time to grouse about the partner and the unbecoming behavior.  I'll spare you that now and later.  All I have time for is to say:

Back to the Novel!  Tick Tock!  The clocks ticking and these words don't count towards my total!

Cheers, friends, until Decemeber.

16 October 2017

Home Alone, Part Three

Ok, where did I leave off on my travelogue?  We went to Ketchikan and Juneau, so Skagway is next.

The town of Skagway felt much more authentic to me.  A tourist town, to be sure, but I could picture it without the throngs, just the residents going about their business. A small town with a port, and a profitable season when everyone makes their yearly income.  We walked on some back streets and it had a familiarity to it, it felt like other small western towns that I have lived in.  Just a lot busier when a ship is in.  Or three of the behemoths.

So, let's do a head count.  Me, Carolyn and Donna (the Irish girls) are all still healthy and uninjured.  Lisa (dialysis pt) is ill and the fever of yesterday has turned into bad bowels today, plus she is just weak, so she's not going on the excursion.  KA wants to go but waffles about whether or not she can manage with the knee bandaged and using a cane.  There would be a walk to the train station. 

The excursion was a train ride up the mountains.  Wow.  If any of you are train enthusiasts, you should look it up.  The train itself was cool.  If you are a history buff, wow.  The White Pass has a vivid history from the Gold Rush, and Skagway was quite the place.  Before the railroad was put in, supplies were carried up a trail, literally a trail - a footpath, through the mountains on the way to the gold fields.  The international boundary is at the top of the pass and the Mounties wouldn't let anyone in unless they had a complete set of supplies, as listed by them.  It was a ton, in fact, of supplies.  And people carried this ton of supplies in backpacks and on horses up the path to the checkpoint and thence onward.  Well, it took many trips to get it all up, and thievery was the mode of the day so people had to work together to protect their stuff at both spots while ferrying it inland. 

Well, it's an amazing and bizarre and horrible history, if you like to read about that kind of thing.

The town is like any in southeast Alaska, perched on the edge of the water with mountains towering behind.  Even though it was August, it felt like autumn was just around the corner.  But, the weather was perfect - crisp clean air, bright sun with some warmth, passing clouds, temperature around 68 or 70f.  Somehow I managed to avoid taking any pictures of the town.  You'll have to Google that if you are interested.  :-)

But, I took quite a few along the train ride.  Here's a selection.




These are the mountains at the edge of the town.  It pretty much goes straight up in every direction.
There is a river, the Skagway River natch, that has a pretty good volume of water but is unnavigable by even kayak, canoe or raft.  It's simply too steep and rocky and bouldery and full of scary churning water pits.  It's straight down from the train here.

Sorry.  Extremely poor photo quality.

Here is the Trail of 98, where perished many humans and horses.  Look how small it is!  It's like a goat track!


The trail closed when the train went in.  There are a couple of groups interested in reopening the trail as a hiking trail.  I'm surprised it hasn't been reopened already.  Serious hiking, though, not a stroll.

Here is an older, abandoned train bridge.  The route was moved up this canyon and a new bridge built.  Presumably safer.  Lol.


And, here's the top!  The top of the White Pass!


From here, prospectors continued to the gold fields, crossing that little dogleg of British Columbia and into the Yukon Territory.  This is the Mounties' station at the border.  Four of them lived there!  In that wee cabin!  (I'm thinking Brokeback Mountain, you?) 

The flags here at the international boundary are the two national flags each on their side of the line, and the flags of Alaska, British Columbia and Yukon Territory in the middle.  Nice of them to include the Yukon, I think, even though the boundary is in BC.  But, that's Canada -- just being nice.

The train ride was spectacular, really beautiful, and a fun way to see a lot of the mountains.  Look across at this mountain.  That's another train ahead of us on the line. 


Amazing.

When we got back to the town, we bought some souvenirs and whatnot and got a coffee.  The Irish girls were going to walk up the river and see the salmon.  I was headed back to check on the sick bay.  The way back included crossing a creek that was absolutely teeming with salmon.  There was a little rocky section that they were jumping over and then up, up, up the stream.  There was no stretch of water without several fish in it.  Sorry, I couldn't get a picture... the dappled light, the reflection on the water, the silvery fish.  No.  No photo.

I got back to the room, and only Lisa was there.  KA had managed to get herself out, but had missed the train.  Turns out that she found a bus excursion that went up the 'new' highway and into Carcross, YT.  She was quite chuffed with herself! 

The next day was all at sea.  I'm pretty sure nothing dramatic happened.

Our last port of call was Victoria, BC.  We ALL made it off the ship!  We took a shuttle into downtown and had drinks at the Empress.  Not tea, mind you, but drinks in the bar.  It was absolutely lovely.  There was a young woman playing the guitar and singing - lovely voice and the perfect volume.  Not too loud.  The service was impeccable.  Here's KA's gin and tonic:



So pretty!  And, healthy with that wedge of grapefruit!  Lol.

We walked around, went in some shops, listened to some buskers, relaxed.  It was nice!  When evening began to fall, Lisa, KA and I headed back.  The Irish Girls wanted to check out some night life.  When we got back to the ship, we had to show our passport to get on the dock.  KA and I asked if we could get our passports stamped.  You have to insist these days!  The guy at the desk quizzed us.  He made KA list at least 3 provinces and I had to name a famous Canadian.  We insisted that the quiz wasn't hard enough!  (For the record, I started with kd lang, since she lives in Portland. Nice tie in, I thought.)

Our final dinner on the ship.


We docked the next morning in Seattle.  Spent one more night together before the Irish Girls were headed back to Canada and then home.

Here we are wearing our team shirts.  Just for fun!



This concludes the cruise ship portion of the travelogue.  There was a little more argy-bargy, in fact, but I'll save that for another time, shall I?

Cheers!


05 October 2017

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

Hey there!  Long time no read!  How is everyone?  I haven't had a chance yet to catch up on all of your blogs so...  yes, woefully out of date. 

I've spent the last three weeks at my friend's sheep ranch in central California.  It's in the Sierra foothills, which sounds picturesque and idyllic, doesn't it?  And, while the golden rolling hills and majestic oak groves are certainly beautiful, the place is like an oven.  Her ranch is not high enough into the foothills to have the cool mountain air moderate the valley temperatures.  Fortunately, I missed the triple digit temps, but when the mercury hits the high 90's, it's just plain hot.  I spent some time cowering in any shade I could find, even the slender shadow of a fence post if that was the only thing available.  I am such a wimp!  I just can't take the high temps.

Tam had some projects that she was hoping I could help with.  We only got started on one by the time I had to return home.  I felt like I failed her, but she is totally energized and says that my visit was the best thing to happen in a long while.  She is moving ahead strongly with all sorts of plans.  Good!  Maybe I was just the catalyst.  I know that what I really brought her was someone to talk with, a friendly sounding board, someone to do chores with and lighten the load a little... small, in my eyes, but apparently enough that she felt like she had a break.

Make no mistake, friends, there was no break!  Ranch life is unrelenting hard work.  No, we were not riding around on horses rounding up the herd (although I have lived that life as well.)  We were feeding hay (and grain and pellets), moving sheep from corral to pasture, weighing the ones that are going to market, trimming hooves, applying bug juice, deworming, all the thousands of things that go on daily.  Mostly feeding.  She feeds a little under a ton of hay per day.  Each and every bale moved by a middle-aged woman with back problems!  Plus, there are no days off.  The animals have to be fed twice a day regardless of the calendar.  I'm only telling you this because so many people have unrealistic ideas about ranch life.  The reality is hot, dusty, fly-ridden days that extended way past the time regular folks are at home having dinner and are going to bed. 

My main purpose in spending time down there was to be supportive of my friend.  This I did accomplish!  Another purpose was to see how she felt about a change in her life.  Her mom has dementia (and a hoarding problem) and can no longer run the ranch.  Truth be told, she never ran it well.  Tam has given up her career as a regulatory veterinarian to come home and take care of it all.  But, maybe she doesn't want to do that any more.  I wanted to give her the chance to think about doing something else.  She had been contemplating selling the place, and is giving more thought to that.  Not that I want to be responsible for encouraging someone to give up their way of life, but this life is killing my friend.  She can't do it alone and no one wants to work in agriculture.  It's very hard to find ranch help now.  Am I being political?  Only a little.  Mostly just reporting the reality.

So, now I'm home in the cool, damp PNW.  I was in that oven just long enough for my internal thermostat to start to reset, so when I got home I felt quite chilly!  Well, it's definitely Autumn here and Summer is still holding on to the south.  I've had to crank up the furnace, and I was wearing a hat and scarf in the house the other night!  Brr...  Come on, body, recalibrate to the Pacific Northwest! 

Did I tell you about my housesitter?  No?  I had asked a friend of T's if she would stay at my place while I was out of town.  She is currently between places and staying with her sister, so it sounded like a good fit.  She said she would, and I thought I was set.  Then, about 3 days before I was to leave, she posted on FB that she was moving to So Cal that weekend!  I was at T's house at the time and I said, wait a minute she was going to housesit for me!  T texted her and asked and the friend said that she had never committed to house/pet sitting for me.  Bullshit!  I would have been searching for someone if I thought that.  Crap!  So, I had to scramble.  I asked a friend of mine who I often dog sit for if she could step in.  It's a big ask - 3 weeks is a long stay.  But, this friend lives in a one bedroom apartment with her two adult sons so I thought it might be nice for her to bring her dog and stay here.  She said she could.  She came, she brought her dog, all was well.  And then, while I was in Cali, she texted me and said that she got a puppy.  A puppy.  At my house.  Ummm...  WHAT?!?  Who does that?  Who brings a puppy into someone else's house?  Apparently Patty does that.  Holy Hey Zeus!  The house was 'febreezed' but not clean when I got home.  Which, whatever.  I'd be cleaning it anyway, but just knowing that my entire house had been piddled on was irritating.  But, the house was still standing and the cat was alive, so what am I complaining about, right?  Still...

Anyway, I'm back.  I'll be making an effort to catch up on your blogs, but it might take a little time.  Oh, and I never finished my travelogue!  I'll put it on the list.

Cheers, women!

02 September 2017

Photo Catch Up

Because she insists, 8th day shall have pictures!

Warning: they aren't very good.  You could look online and get better images, but here's what I took with my device (aka: cellphone).

Ketchikan:

 Cruise ship dock.  Yes, we were on that monstrosity!




One of the many totems in the town.

Creek Street.  Those were once whorehouses.  The women sex workers (I think that's the term we use now) actually made all of these towns civilized.  They kept the populations from starving and they started schools for their inevitable children.  All hail the women!


I know it looks like a log, but that's the otter we saw chasing a school of salmon up the creek.  He (?) had rolled onto his back, his arms are sticking out sideways, his finny feet towards us.  Use your imagination, people!

Tracy Arm Fjord:



Ice chunks in the water as we sailed up the Tracy Arm.  That lower one is bigger than a car.  The small chunks were everywhere, with larger ones floating randomly.  The slurry of smaller chunks made me feel as if we were a garnish floating in a giant cocktail.



See that rectangular dot in the water, in front of the glacier? That's a small tour boat - small only compared to a cruise ship.  It holds over 100 people (maybe 40 or 50 feet long? Not small.) It's still a safe distance away from the glacier and it is but a speck in the sea.  The glacier is huge.  Shrinking at an alarming rate, but still such a mind boggling amount of ice.





I like this picture because it shows the ship's wake as we turned around in the cul de sac.  Lol.  

Juneau:  


View of the cruise ship dock from on high.  If it looks like we were straight up, we were.



Mendenhall Glacier, from the park viewpoint.  I wish I could have captured the colors in the ice.  The blues...  astounding, amazing colors.



Sockeye salmon.  This species is easier to photograph because of their color.  The silvery species... not with a cell phone.  Not for me, anyway!



Two of the same view, from the aerial tram above Juneau.  The changing light... I, wordy woman that I am, I am out of words to describe the beauty.

More later.  This is long enough!

31 August 2017

Home Alone, Part Two

Juneau, state capitol of Alaska.  It’s a very small ‘city’.  Really more of a town, to be honest.  There are a few larger buildings, multistory office buildings and governmental offices, but most of the town is quite small.  It’s perched on the edge of the water and the water is the main highway.  Like most of the Alaskan coast, the mountains tower over everything providing a lush, steep, dark green backdrop. 

On the evening before arriving at Juneau, we had been on our way to the ship theater when KA caught the toe of her shoe on a raised threshold.  She fell, hard, on her left knee.   Thankfully, nothing was broken (yes, they have x-ray on cruise ships!) but it was badly injured.  Her knee swelled up to the size of a cantaloupe.  The crew member at the theater called for a wheelchair and we got her up and into the chair and headed to the infirmary.  The nurses looked at me and said, ‘What are you doing back here?’  I was starting to feel like Jessica Fletcher – only not as deadly.

We had booked an excursion to the Mendenhall glacier for the Juneau port of call.  It was a bus tour of the town, a self guided walk around the state park, and then a salmon dinner.  Lisa had developed a fever and felt horrible so there was no way she was going.  And now, KA was flat on her back with her leg elevated, wrapped and iced.  No way she was going, either.

So, Carolyn and Donna, the ‘Irish girls’, and I went on the tour.  It was amazing!  The tour of the town takes very little time, lol.  We had a voluble Texan for a tour guide, and she gave us more information than we needed on the cost of food, clothing, and other necessities in Juneau, Alaska.  She went on and on about the lack of fast food, the absence of clothing stores, the fact that everything is shut by 9pm.  I might have preferred a guide with more information about the natural beauty of the area, or the cultural background of the peoples, but you get what you get.  The Irish girls were amused and Donna can do a pretty good Texas accent now.

I thought that the Mendenhall glacier tour was actually a tour of the glacier itself.  As in, walking on it.  Unfortunately, no.  We were dropped off at the Park and told where our bus would pick us up.  So, the three of us walked out to the view point and took some pictures and skedaddled.  The thing is, it was so very crowded.  It was teeming, swarming, packed with tourists.  It is my least favorite way of visiting a state park, I say that for sure.  I get that yes, I was one of those tourists.  And that these parks and these communities rely on tourism to exist.  And that, it being chilly Alaska, there’s a lot more tourists in the summer.  Yes, I understand and appreciate all of that.  But, I wasn’t able to enjoy that part.  The visitor center was like sardines, so we didn’t even go in.  The walk out to the view point was more crowded than a city sidewalk.  There was a hike to the waterfall, and it was a little less crowded but it didn’t get you to the glacier and we decided to skip it. 

We were moseying back to the bus area when we came across another section of the park.  Since we had plenty of time, we followed the path.  It led to a raised walkway over a creek and out to the wetland downstream from the glacier.  There were fir trees and willows and alders, a nice boreal mix.  The creek was full of salmon!  Red sockeye salmon swimming, thrashing, spawning and dying.  We got a little excited by that!  But, that was nothing, for around the next bend on the walkway we saw brown bear cubs in a tree!  Wow! 

There were probably only about 100 people all spread out along the walkway where you could see the bear cubs.  But, there were also 4 park rangers answering questions and shushing people.  Because at the foot of the tree was the cubs’ mother, taking a nap after eating her fill of salmon.  I am so grateful to have seen this!

I strolled further down the walkway and watched some field biologists recording data from some device or another and spent an idle few minutes speculating about going back to work in that field.  Also saw an egret make an ungainly leap into the sky, no doubt weighed down by a craw full of fish!

When we had marveled at the bears to our hearts content, we made our way back to the bus and headed back to town.

Our salmon dinner was at a restaurant at the top of a mountain.  It is so steep that you get there by riding an aerial tram.  It felt like it was going straight up!  The view was incredible, of course, with the islands and the meandering waterways, the mountains plunging into the sea, the dense forests a dark green backdrop to the shining silver water.  Words can’t do it justice.

We returned to the ship before dark.  I checked on my friends and they hadn’t killed each other so that was good.


Next up: Skagway

30 August 2017

Home Alone, Part One

Well, my dears, it didn't go as expected.

Expectations are tricky things.  There were five of us, each with a picture in her mind of how the trip would be.  I'm absolutely certain that no one's expectations were met.

The good things: I didn't get seasick for even a minute.  I would have had we been in a room lower down, where two of our friends' quarters were.  Their room was on the third level (deck, I guess), and the window looked right out on the swirling sea.  I could not look at it without feeling queasy.  So, I avoided the seasickness by being up above the sea.  Hooray for deck 8!

Also, the ship didn't sink, or lose power, or suffer any other mechanical problem.  And, happily, not a one of us came down with a norovirus.  So, I'm chalking all of those things up in the Win column.  We need that.

What really went down?  How much time do you have?

Lisa (she of the kidney disease) started out the trip sick.  She had been sick for a week or so before the trip started.  Sick enough that she wasn't sure she would be able to go.  She tends to anemia anyway, and her red cell count had been alarmingly low.  She was given iron and some other medical things that I don't remember the details of right now.  Her doctor decided that she was well enough to go and I'm not sure that was the right decision.  But, it takes a lot of time to plan a trip for someone who needs dialysis and she didn't want to cancel.  Plus, the rest of us had long since bought our tickets as well and we couldn't all cancel.  Especially the Irish girls, coming all that way.

We started the trip in Seattle, and Lisa had to get herself from the airport to the hotel.  Easy peasy for someone in normal health, but difficult for someone with health challenges.  Just rolling her bag (ie: enormous suitcase) from the baggage carousel to the ride-share curb was more than she could handle.  She made it to the hotel and then had to sit and wait for the rest of us.  Time to catch her breath.

KA had driven up from California and spent the night before at my house.  Part of coordinating our arrivals in Seattle was parking KA's car at my daughter's house.  We did that in the late afternoon and Zoe and Rob gave us a ride back into Seattle (thanks, kids!).  Met up with Lisa there.  In an hour or so the Irish girls were there too, and we all thought 'Let the Vacation Begin!'

Lisa, KA and I shared a room.  It was supposed to have two queen beds, but honestly, they were the size of doubles - is that a hotel thing, smaller beds than at home?  Are there different mattress sizes for hotel beds?  KA is a substantial woman and needs that much space to herself.  Lisa and I took one bed and KA the other.  Much tossing and turning ensued.  Because Lisa's arm often aches from the dialysis, she typically sleeps with her arms perpendicular to her torso.  That doesn't leave a lot of space in a bed.  At some point during the night I got up, gathered up the spare pillows, found a bathrobe and made my self a pillow bed in the corner on the floor.  I felt like a house elf, crouched under the fireplace.

We had a nice breakfast (oh, stayed at the Edgewater, which is famous for everyone in the world staying there, including the Beatles, and correspondingly priced) and then got a shuttle to the cruise ship pier.  

We arrived at the pier and the first order of business was to get Lisa a wheelchair.  She could only walk (slowly) about 25 to 30 feet without stopping to catch her breath.  There was a whole lot of, 'No, no, you go on, I'll catch up.'  Which is basically bullshit.  We had to stick together!

Now, here's a bonus: KA spent a whole lot of her youth, adolescence, young adulthood and middle age traveling with her wheelchair bound mother.  So, she is an expert at seeking out ADA accommodations.  So, we get Lisa into the 'assistance' line, which means that we all get in that line.

Finally got through that process and on board the enormous vessel.  A nice crew member wheeled Lisa to our stateroom, with KA and I trotting along behind.  

KA had upgraded our room to one with a balcony.  Thank the Merciful Heavens that she did so!  Three women, all used to living alone, crammed in one room... recipe for disaster.  Having a balcony gave us an entire extra room, spatially and visually, and we needed that.  That it was outside was a bonus.

As soon as we got aboard, Lisa asked me to take her to the infirmary.  We had kept the wheelchair that the crew member had used and I wheeled her down to deck 2.  She was short of breath and had chest pain, the classic combo, but it wasn't a cardiac issue.  The chest pain was muscular, from wrangling her giant bag, and the shortness of breath was because she was anemic and retaining fluid.  The nurses and doctor were great and we left reassured.  

Of course, Lisa and I had missed the pulling away, or whatever the term is, the setting sail, the leaving of land.  When we finished in the infirmary and made it to the open deck, the ship was among the San Juan Islands.  

The scenery was gorgeous, of course.  Sitting and watching the landscape unfold is possibly the best thing about being on a cruise.  

Lisa had dialysis the next day.  Boy, was it bare bones!  It was in the bowels of the ship (next to the infirmary, but considerably smaller) and had just enough room for two beds, two machines and literally nothing else.  The 'office' was a storage closet stacked to the ceiling with supplies.  For what they charge, there should have been a tiny bit more comfort.

We were doing pretty well at this point.  Our first stop was Ketchikan.  

The cruise line we were on had a amenity that I really appreciated.  A cultural historian gave a presentation on every port of call.  She covered the Native history as well as the White/Gold rush history.  It added a very nice texture to the shore trip.

We didn't have a tour scheduled for Ketchikan but got off to explore the town.  A very nice crew member pushed Lisa up the long gangplank to the pier.  We moseyed along, bumping over the sections of wooden sidewalks, looking in shops and admiring the scenery.  There were lots of totem poles.  Miss Amanda, the cultural historian, had given us the basics of totem interpretation and we enjoyed piecing together a story of each one.  

We bought some souvenirs and some snacks (regular size box of Cheez-Its = $6.99!) and returned to the ship.

The next day, we had an absolutely magical experience.  We sailed up the Tracy Arm to the face of a glacier.  It was an experience I will never forget.  We started spotting ice in the water in the morning.  Yes, that did make me a little nervous!  I mean, come on... Titanic, amiright?

As we neared the glacier, the chunks of ice got both bigger and smaller, but much more frequent.  There were big chunks with smaller chunks perched on top of them.  There was a slurry of broken ice all through the water.  When we got as far up the arm as we were going to, the ship did a complete turn.  The sound was amazing.  All the ice crickling and crackling against the hull of the ship made an eerie sound.  The colors were also amazing.  The ice was many shades of white, sometimes streaked with brown, but the blue!  The blue ice, seen in cracks and crevices of the floaters, that was astounding.  The deeper the crevice, the deeper the color blue.  We were standing on the balcony with our mouths hanging open.  


Next up: Day 3 and Juneau.

01 August 2017

August 1st

We went camping last weekend, just a 2 nighter on the northern edge of the greater metro area.  It was fun to get the trailer out.  T has decided that she wants the trailer in a covered storage place, so she rented one and we parked Vivian there on Sunday.  It gave me a pang to leave her there! She is quite the presence in the driveway, and utterly charming.  I'll miss her.

I have a busy two weeks coming up.  My buddies and I go on this cruise dealio on Friday.  I might have mentioned that I am uncomfortable with everything about a cruise.  Nothing about it appeals to me!  Claustrophobia, seasickness, germ-riddled environment, etc.  On the up side, though, is time spent with my friends!  It will balance.  After the cruise, we are going to visit Zoe and her husband for 3 days.  Sorry you guys!  Then we are going to Port Townsend for 3 days to visit Lisa's sister.  Thankfully, we will be staying in a hotel.  The sister's house is undergoing an extensive remodeling project.

In the meantime, my friend KA is driving up from Cali tomorrow morning.  She'll spend the night here and then we'll drive up to Seattle on Thursday.  So, I've got her for one night and then my neighbor son who will be cat/housesitting for me.  I've been super busy getting the house ready to have multiple guests and for an extended duration.  It's a week long cruise, but then we have a second week of visiting around.  I hope Pierre won't be too mad!  Good think he likes Gavin.

Just to make things a little more urgent, we are expecting a heatwave this week.  The predicted high on Wednesday is 106!!!  Ridiculous!  I've been busy covering all the windows.  The house is like a dark cave, but it's a cool cave.  I have a second window a/c unit that was just sitting on the floor in a closet, so I installed that in the guest room.  I don't want my houseguests to suffer!  There's nothing for downstairs but fans.  A couple of big fans is usually all we need to keep a house cool here.  Sigh.  Climate change, what?!?

Wish me luck on the ocean-going adventure!  Makes me a little queasy to think of it...

Cheers,
E



18 July 2017

Two Weeks Later

Two weeks later and it still feels like a vacation.  I'm still waking up ridiculously early (4:48 am today).  Sometimes I manage to get back to sleep, but not often enough.  Sometimes I resort to an over-the-counter sleep aid to keep me in bed longer.  Actually, it's kind of funny.  I react strongly to most medications so I always use my pill chopper for these.  They break in half easily with just one's fingers, but then I use the chopper to quarter them.  A quarter dose of an OTC sleep aid.  Talk about light weight!  (Of course, I mean my drug metabolism... not my corporeal weight.  Obvs.)

I made a list of big projects that need doing and hung it on the wall in the dining room (where I am sitting right now.)  So far I have crossed one thing off: Remove carpet from stairs.  Now I have to sand the stairs, replace two treads, and paint.  It's interesting to see signs of previous owners in old houses.  I note that someone else loved the color green.  The stairs were green at one point!  But, when I bought the house, the edges of the stairs had been painted a light-sucking dark brown and a dark brown carpet was nailed up the middle.  And, wow, did they use a lot of nails!  Still, it's all pulled up and it went out with the weekly garbage collection.  (Dusts off hands with satisfaction!)

Weeding the yard is on the list, and it is one that will never be crossed off.  I'm pacing myself on that one.  I'm trying to keep up with the front yard first, since I don't want my neighbors to be too unhappy with me.  But, the back yard needs attention too.  Sometimes I don't even want to go outside because it all feels so overwhelming.  Like I said, I'm pacing myself and trying to just keep at it.  This may sound like an excuse, but some of the 'weeds' are native wildflowers and I intentionally let those go longer because the bees and other pollinators need them.  This in not bullshit!  I am trying to tread that line between flowering and seeding -- I pull them when they are getting close.  At least, that is my goal.  The results is... scruffy looking.  I will never have a manicured yard and I don't want one. That's not my style.  I like a more wild looking garden, one that looks like it might hold a secret or two.  But, I live in the city.  People expect the front yard to be presentable.

Last Friday was my first payday without a paycheck.  That was disconcerting.  It took me about half the day to figure out what was bugging me.  My pension checks have not stated coming yet so I have been more frugal than usual.  My final check was bigger than usual since it included my vacation cash out, but it's a reality check to look at the bank balance and miss out on that every two week payday.  On the plus side, I have taught two self defense classes since I retired and I do get paid for that.

One great thing about being retired is the ability to say Yes.  Being free of the constraints of the M-F day shift allows for all kinds of different activities.  I've had lunch out with friends a couple of times, and impromptu get togethers with some of my neighbors who are teachers.  So freeing!  And, just sitting on my front porch watching the rhythm of the neighborhood is extremely pleasant.  (Just fyi, I've always been moderately good at saying No.)

I haven't created a schedule or structure for myself yet.  I had thought that it would be healthy and productive to do so, but so far I'm just... unwinding, I guess.  It feels strange to be without a schedule.  But, I will adapt!  I'm thinking that the morning might contain some aerobic exercise, like a brisk walk.  Coffee and toast, newspaper, blog reading and then a walk.  After that, the project list.  Maybe.  We'll see what happens.

I've got loads more to say about other subjects (family, T, friends, etc) but I think this is enough for one post.  Pretty soon I'll be boring you all to tears with the excruciating minutia of my pedestrian life.  Looking forward to that?   :-)

Thanks for reading, women!



01 July 2017

First of July, 2017

I had cake and champagne for dinner last night.

Yep.

And it was good!

Instead of the Costco sheet cake that I was expecting, there were fancy layer cakes from a local bakery. Ooh! My only request had been for a lemon flavored cake.  There were two lemon cakes!  And a chocolate cake, a vanilla bean cake, and a latte cake.  I think I only missed the vanilla.  Lol!

I wasn't expecting anything but cake and fellowship, but there were gifts and a very nice send off speech from my division chief.  Naturally, I got a little teary.  But, I managed to clamp that shit down!  Jeez!  Don't want to go out on a watery note.  No Sally Fields moment for me!

So, that was Wednesday.  I had odds and ends to finish up on Thursday and Friday.  My office will be completely disassembled next week since another department is going to 'borrow' it for a few months while they undergo a remodel.  I hope my department gets the office back!  If not, the doctors in my division won't have an onsite support presence.  So.  Yes.  Hmm.  I'm drawing a breath now, and letting it out.  And, yes, all of that is none of my concern now.  Ha!

Anyway, the last two days were pleasant and low key with lots of hugs and heartfelt testimonials from coworkers and friends.  On Friday I had lunch with two of my favorite gals.  One is my birthday buddy, and we'll never lose touch.  But, I want to stay in contact with some of my now-former coworkers.  I handed out my email address to a number of people.  A very select number of people.  You know, you spend more awake time with your coworkers than with your family.  I hope you like some of them.  I've been lucky enough to have met some great people and maintained long friendships with quite a few coworkers.

So, after an uplifting and heart-warming send off, I called T from the bus as I was heading home.  She had called me earlier when I was in the middle of a conversation with three other people and couldn't talk with her.  Instead of congratulating me, she chose to be snippy and complain that I hadn't gotten right back to her.  Oh, for fuck's holy sake!  I'm close to done.

But, here's the thing.  I went home (caught the #70 at Lloyd Center!  Woot!) and I said, don't let this petty bullshit color your day.  And, I didn't!  I carried in my extra bag of gifts and last minute stuff from the office, kicked off my shoes, popped open the bubbly and took a glass outside to enjoy the afternoon/evening.  I had some celebratory texts and emails to respond to, and then I just relaxed and listened to the neighborhood unwinding (and had cake for dinner!).  It was incredibly restorative.  I could feel the tension draining out of my body.  In fact, I ended up being so emotionally and physically exhausted that I went to bed just before 9 pm.  I needed it!

This morning, I am still feeling pretty danged good.  I suspect that the first week will feel like the average summer 'vacation', and I'll be ready to go back to work on the following Monday.  But, I will create a schedule or a structure to my day and hold to that until I leave behind the automatic work pattern.

It will take me a while to settle into the new reality, but I am looking forward to exploring just how that evolves.  Stay tuned here, friends, I hope to be more regular with blog posts.  Gonna up my blog fiber!  Hahahaha....  sorry!

Ok, I'm having cake and champagne again (after a lunch of kahlua pork and rice).  I'm heading out to the porch to watch the world go by.  After a bit, I'll get back to work, uh, play.  Whatever!

27 June 2017

THE COUNTDOWN!

Ok, people!  This is it!  My last week!

I had to go in on Monday, which is usually my work from home day.  So many things to do!  We are interviewing a late applicant for our fellowship program, and I had hoped to escape without doing any more of that.  Ha!

One of my coworkers (my favorite, in truth), texted me yesterday and asked if I wanted to go out for celebratory drinks on Wednesday.  The great part of this is that she is planning to drive to work that day and will give me a ride home.  That's a gift!  And, if I have anything else to schlep home, that would be the day.

It still seems unreal.  I've been employed here for over 23 years.  That's rare in this day.  The generation after me doesn't stay in a position for more than 5 years, I'd say.  I'm an anachronism, for sure!

Still stressed about health insurance, still sending up a prayer to the Goddess that Obama-care will hang on a while longer.  My senators are fighting like cornered badgers to keep it.  Stay strong!  Or, for me, Stay Healthy!

Well, I'm going to go make my lunch, put on my shoes, and walk to the bus.  Four more days.


14 June 2017

Compartmentalizing



Well, it's how we get through this world isn't it?  If you can't box shit up to deal with later, you'll never make it out of the house.  The trick is to open the boxes and deal with the contents, instead of shoving them into the basement for forever.  I know you feel me on this; don't pretend you don't!

Good thing I'll have some time to ponder, coming up here.  It'll be time well spent.

But, for the here and now, I'm busy.  Mostly busy at work, finishing up and getting stuff ready to be handed off.  Training the new person.  Emptying my office.  You know.  All that. I've been there for 23 years... I brought home a lot of stuff!  Oh, I have to tell you this: I was walking down the hall to a meeting yesterday and looked down.  I realized that I was wearing my gardening shoes instead of my office shoes!  And, naturally, I had just taken home my spare office shoes that lived in a desk drawer, just the weekend before.  Figures.  Made me laugh, actually.

My niece is going home to Virginia on the 30th.  The whole 'living with Grampy and going to college' thing didn't work out.  Directly as a result of my brother's animosity.  I'm not sure how to deal with him, going forward.  He is poisoning our dad against us.  I'm hanging in there because I don't want my dad to forget that his other two children love him.

Back to the niece, unfortunately her family is coming during the last week of June.  It's the last week of my employment and I know I will be busy.  And, there are a couple of happy hours scheduled that week for after work as well, so I can be sure that I'll be getting home late.  I know that they can entertain themselves, but I wanted to be able to see the rest of the family while they were here.  Plus, there might very well be drama and I want to be available to put out the fire.  That's what the middle-child-only-girl tends to do.  This one, anyway.

Meanwhile, it's still pretty cool and damp and cloudy here.  This weekend is our Pride celebration and, fingers crossed, it's supposed to be sunny.  I sure hope so!  If not, we've got rain gear.  :-)

Ok.  That's it for now.  I've got to go be efficient.




09 June 2017

What the hailing holey heck?

It's Portland, people!  Holy Hey Zeus!

I don't understand what is happening in my city.  I can't wrap my head around the sharp escalation in terror, fear, violence.

Two weeks ago (although it feels like the day before yesterday), two men died and another was gravely injured at the hands of a white supremacist terrorist on a public train in my city.  During the afternoon commute.  On a regular Friday.  Crazy broke free of the bonds containing it and tore a vicious and bloody hole in my neighborhood.  My actual neighborhood.  It's my dad's transit stop, and just one stop away from mine.

Crazy.  That's a handy excuse.  We hear that all the time from the gun rights people - 'It's not the gun.  There isn't enough mental health help for these poor (white) people.'  Fuck that.  This guy used a knife.  And, I also don't want to hear the bullshit from the prisoner rights people.  'He was radicalized in prison, it's the environment, it's not his fault.'  Fuck that.  It's a personal choice to pick up a weapon and kill someone when your life is not in jeopardy.  So, fuck all that; fuck those bullshit excuses, fuck you to the people who would normalize this action.  This is not normal.

We are all stunned.  Gobsmacked.  Reeling.  Disbelieving and incredulous.  How could this happen here?  Portland is so mellow, so laid back, so easy going.  Ha.  That's just the image.  Thanks, Portlandia!  (Disclaimer: they are often spot on.)  The seedy underbelly of Portland is white, ugly, and racist.  There.  I said it.  There are a lot of creepy and scary people around here.

And, the level of violence is escalating.  The fringe is emboldened and they are acting out on what had only been fantasies before.  A train conductor beaten up, a woman held up at gun point at my local park, stabbings, mob violence.  A bomb threat today at the transit center where the two men died.  Holy fucking whatever!

It's Portland, people!  Stop it!

I'm trying my best to be a force for good, but it is damned difficult in these times.

Feeling besieged,
e

24 May 2017

How is May almost over???

Hey Women,

How has spring been treating you?  Have you had some sun and flowers and green grass?  Have you had long pleasant evenings sitting on the porch with the neighbors, sipping a cool glass of something?  I hope so.  I have.  Doesn’t it feel good?

Here’s my catch up:

The countdown to retirement is on!  Still feeling a trifle ambivalent, but doing it anyway.  There have been some mornings that I have felt quite resentful at having to go in.  Ha!  Soon.  Very, very soon.  In fact, it’s 25 work days (counting my work from home days).  Yikes!  I’d better keep scanning!

So, T and I finally cashed out our vacation fund and went to Hawai’i.  We spent a week on Maui and had a really good time.  We got along surprisingly well!  We did a few things, but mostly hung out and relaxed.  It was very pleasant.  She might have roped me into a deal where I end up with a tattoo… I breathed a sigh of relief when all of the clean and reputable places in Lahaina were booked up.  If it happens, and I wouldn’t be adamantly opposed to it, a small image of a sea turtle, possibly on the inside of my calf.  If it ever happens.  I really wish we had seen one while we were snorkeling.  We saw plenty of fish, and we saw the turtles all the time coming up for air while grazing on the reef.  And, while they were in the same area that we were snorkeling, at the same time, we never saw one through our masks.  But, we still felt like we were swimming in their back yard.

I’m going to have to postpone my car trip.  I’ve got to sort out a better vehicle.  My car is a 1999 Audi.  I bought it from my sister in law for $2000 a year or two ago.  I’ve had to shell out for a couple of repairs, and I’m afraid there’s just a whole lot more of that in this car’s future.  It’s a decent small car and I rarely drive, so it has served me well enough.  I have taken it to Seattle a couple of times, but it’s had a couple of issues since then so I’m thinking that it might be just an around town car now. 

Speaking of Seattle, my niece and I are going up for a baseball game with Zoe next week!  Fun!  We are taking the train up on Friday, doing some touristy stuff in Seattle and then taking an express bus to the east side.  Zoe will pick us up and will spend the night at her house.  Then, her town is having it’s ‘town celebration’ that weekend so we will hang out there and see what there is to see.  Saturday evening is the baseball game – Mariners vs the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Mariners have been playing so badly!  I hope none of you saw that game we lost that was something like 10 to 1.  Ugh.  So. Bad.  So, yes, after the game we’ll go back to Zoe’s, spend the night, have her take us to Seattle the next day and take the train home.  It will be a good weekend away.  T is not coming.  We’ll have to spend some time with Z’s husband, but it’ll be fine. 

I haven’t gotten any gardening done this spring.  All I’ve done is pull weeds.  I know that I could still put some veggies in, if I bought some starts, but I think I’ll let the garden lie fallow this year.  Maybe I’ll plant a nitrogen fixing cover crop.  I’ve got garlic growing, leftovers from the last harvest.  I’ve got blueberries and raspberries and huckleberries and herbs.  Thyme, chives, rosemary.  And I’ve got two plentiful rhubarbs.  But, I have a lot of empty space in my raised beds.

Hey, I actually had some other stuff to say, but I have to go over to my dad’s house.  It’s Wednesday night – that’s what we do!  So, I’m going to go ahead and post this nonsense, because you know how I am.  If I procrastinate at all, it just doesn’t happen.


Thanks for reading, friends!





31 March 2017

Early Morning Discovery

I am out of English Muffins, and out of bread.  How the hell am I supposed to get to work without my coffee and toast???

Toasted Angel Food Cake.

It's true!  When the cupboard is bare, Mother Hubbard makes do with what is on hand.  This morning, that was a stale angel food cake bar.  It toasts nicely!  But, quickly!  

Two thin slices, spread with peanut butter, two (and a half) cups of coffee.  It'll do.

Hi Ho!

27 February 2017

Floral Report

It's February.  It's cold.  We had tiny snow pellets yesterday and an unkind wind today.  The pellets were called 'graupel', a German word, by the local weather people.  I looked that up online and it wasn't the actual atmospheric phenomenon that I experienced.  Suffice it to say, it has been cold, icy, and gray.  However, the days are getting longer (and marginally warmer) and the plants have their own timetable.

So, on with the Floral Report!

A couple of weeks ago I began seeing the signs.  Tiny piles of earth, pushed up, into the air.  Soil breaking, and pale tips emerging. Stirring.  Life is stirring, under the protective leaf cover.  Plant life, earthworms... stirring.

And then I smelled it.  The fragrant, sweet, seductive aroma of the sweetbox shrub.  The early bloomer, with such subtle flowers, that blasts glorious spring-promising perfume through the neighborhood.  Glory!  Spring Shall Rise Again!

Immediately following the glorious perfume of early spring, here come the snow drops. So clean and pristine looking.  Demure.  But, they are sharing the stage with the earliest of the crocus.  Purple, yellow, white, with dark green spiky-looking leaves, they are planted in drifts in yards in my neighborhood.  I'm usually seeing them closed up as I walk home, as they are diurnal and go to bed early.



In my yard, the daffodils are poking up, and the tulips.  Just barely, but they are gaining by the day.  There is also a lot more garlic than I was expecting in the front bed!  Maybe I'll get some big ones this time.  :-)

Spring in Portland is wonderful.  If you are cold and snow-bound (or just cold), I wish you warm temps; if you have been deluged with rain after years of drought, I wish you high water tables and low erosion; if you are yearning for Spring... I wish you could be here.  It would please your soul, I'm certain.

We are at the beginning of the season.  I'll try to keep you posted!

21 February 2017

Who said something about 2017?

‘Hello!!’

Knocks on the door.  Tentative.

‘Anybody here?!?’

Dusty around here, isn’t it?  Yeah.  Sorry about that.  I’ve been reading but not writing, obviously, and this little corner of the interweb has been neglected.  Again.  Sigh.  Sorry.

Moving on!

I really don’t have anything to report.  Did we March?  Yes, we did.  It was awesome.  I hope all the millions of people who marched that day will continue the grass roots effort to reclaim our country from the dangerous demagogues who have taken control.  I keep thinking of that Margaret Mead quote:

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.’

I feel discouraged that we have to fight these same damned fights all over again.  But, we will.  And, when I feel discouraged, I think about the black, gay, women friends that I have and…  yeah.  Let’s keep fighting.  Some people have never had the luxury of NOT fighting.

So, what else is going on?  Things are on a fairly even keel with T.  She was laid off in November and remains unemployed to date.  She is making a real effort to find a job but things are slow in her line of work.  It will pick up in a month or so…

This has been hard on her, of course.  And I am sympathetic to her situation.  But, truthfully, I’m glad that we are living apart.  The complaining and negativity would have tanked me, would have brought me so far down.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but I am certain that you both understand.

As it is, her family is at hand and they have taken up the slack.  They are so delighted to have her back in the neighborhood!  Her mom pops in frequently and does stuff like washes the dishes and straightens up.  It would drive me crazy but T likes it.  Most of the time.

What else?  I’ve had my niece over several times for meals or to spend the night.  She is homesick, and while I am not her nuclear family, I am at least a mom and I think she just needs a different energy sometimes.  We’ve had a good time hanging out.  I have shown her a couple of cooking tips and she can’t wait to cook for her family when she goes home for a visit.  It’s actually kind of funny, for being raised in this country, she and her siblings know very little about ‘typical’ American food!  Her mom is Ukrainian and my brother certainly never cooked, so she is more accustomed to a bowl of borsht and a plate of pelmenies than a hamburger and fries.  I showed her how to cook a butternut squash and a couple of chicken breasts in the same pan in the oven.  Ha!  So simple!  Simple is my only speed when it comes to cooking.  Fortunately, she has liked it all so far.

Let’s see…  the kidney donation thing is moving forward incrementally.  Lisa is active on the list again and the donor coordinator contacted me for some blood work.  The whole process is quite labyrinthine, but the fact that I work in a hospital that has a kidney transplant center will help.  I’ll be able to have some of the testing here.  First up, a blood draw for tissue typing.

I’m planning some stuff for when I retire (4 months, 1 week).  I’m 98% sure that this is the right thing to do, but I vacillate.  It’s kind of crazy, kind of scary.  I don’t know… do you think it’s crazy?  Retire and be poor but free, or keep working and kill my spirit slowly? I feel in my bones that it is the right decision.  I guess I’ll find out!

In an attempt to post *something* before another season slips by, I’ll end this here.  I hope you both are doing well and things are going your way!  Cheers, m’dears!