Keyser Soze Has Nothing On Us

Wow.  And wow again.  I think I may have started more than one blog entry with that word and here I am using it once again.  Oh well, I’m getting older and that means repeating myself repeatedly.  I’m OK with that.

I digress…

Wow.  It’s been a whirlwind of activity and adventure since we left our little hovel in Urbana, Illinois for places west on July 5.  Here we are on August 14 and I have no idea where the time has gone.  Day after tomorrow we pack up Thor, our tried and true Volvo, our two pupinos, a bunch of crap, and ourselves for the trek back home.  Six days later, and some 2500 miles we will once again be back in the Midwest.  Where has the time gone?

When we were planning this sojourn we thought, OK, six weeks (including two weeks driving) would be plenty of time, but  then again how can there ever be enough time spent with the people you love.  There are so many people here who are in our lives it’s been tough to see everyone.  We haven’t seen everyone.  That’s a hard one.  To leave without seeing everyone.  Seriously though, how could we?  We’ve been so busy.  Let’s recap…

Six days driving here, get here and have appointment with Oregon oncologist, start treatment in Oregon, see Stan and Connie who drove to Salem just to see us (you guys rock), drive up to Portland to meet my cousin and his family after he finished the STP bike ride, eat pizza, have yogurt, drive up to Burlington, WA (and Marblemount, WA) to participate in the spreading of my grandparents ashes and next day check out the estate sale put on by my Mom and Aunts and Uncles at my grandparents house, from there take off for three days in Long Beach, WA (after a 5 hour drive to get there), enjoy the beach, drive back to Salem, drive back up to Scappoose, dinner with friends who invited us over (thanks SJ and Angela, your house is awesome), trips back and forth between Salem and Scappoose every week so I could get my shot in Salem, helping Mom sprinkle some of grandpa and grandmas ashes at Willamette University, work on the yard in Scappoose, and more work on the yard in Scappoose (thanks to Mom and Kev for helping us out with that one of the days… you two are amazing), dinner out with friends (thanks Maggie for taking us to dinner for our birthdays), dinner with friends from Urbana who happened to come to Portland for a wedding while we were here (great dining with you Evelyne and Natalie), showing our friend Jen (who also hails from Urbana) around Portland, and the farm, for three and a half days,  the treat of breakfast out at the Screen Door courtesy of Vicki (thanks girl, the chicken and waffles there can’t be beat!), a few walks in parks both in Portland and Salem with the pupinos, one of which included a piano solo by Karen, a trip on the river with Stan, dinner at Stan and Connie’s place for us with some of our good friends (so great to see you guys), a walk at Cathedral Park with Liz and Jake and Ilsa and Indy followed by a tour of their new house (love it you guys!), a stop by my old office for some chat (Stacia, I love ya girl) and lunch with some of my old work mates (I miss you Josh, Linda, Chris, Liz and Stacia!), packing up the car and driving back and forth between Salem and Scappoose every week (oh, I think I said that already), our annual walk through of one of our rentals with the renters and a drive by of the other, a couple of barbecues thrown for us by POD members, one including splashes in a pool and the other including a tasty salad made with home grown veggies, a couple of trips to the Portland Saturday Market (Sundays too!), a zoo concert (Melissa Etheridge) with some of the POD, dinners out at various places we didn’t want to miss while we were here (Piazza Italia, Little Big Burger, tacos at The Varsity, The Stepping Stone, Ruby Jewel for ice cream, chicken and waffles at The Screen Door, Mississippi Pizza, a food cart or two, Pok Pok, E-San for thai, burritos at Muchas, etc.) all of which made us each gain about 10 pounds, breakfast with my sister Kay, time spent at the farm with Mom and Don, time spent in Scappoose with Kev, packing up the car and driving back and forth between Salem and Scappoose every week like gypsies, sun, fun, and loads of love.

It’s been an amazing time.  We’ve had so much fun.  Though, seriously, I think we’re ready to be home again.  Not that we don’t love it here, and love everyone here, but we’re ready to be home.  Sleep in our own beds, be in our own house, see and spend time with the kids and our little man, who we have missed very much.  I guess that’s what happens when you live in two places.  Live in two places in your heart I mean.  You are always missing something, someone.  That’s the nature of how life works sometimes.  We moved to Illinois to be a part of of the kid’s lives, to be in Sebastian’s life, and we are glad we did.  We wouldn’t change that at all.  It’s just that this is home, and always will be.  The people here and this place make it so.  We are torn, but that doesn’t make us any less happy to be there when we are there, or here when we are here.

That bit there being a few moments of reflection.

So we are heading home on Thursday morning.  Leaving early to get a jump on our longest driving day of the lot.  10 hours the first day.  We’re going to Boise, Idaho by way of Bend and Hwy 20, then Driggs, ID near the Tetons, and from there a drive through the Tetons and Yellowstone and then stays in Sheridan, WY, Chamberlain, SD, La Crosse, Wisconsin, and home.  We’ll get there just in time for the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival.  Yum!

We’ll miss you Oregon, and everyone in it.  It’s been a flash, and now we’re almost out of here.  A month, poof, just like that and it’s gone.  Keyser Soze has nothing on us.  We love it here, and we love the people here.  This wonderful adventure has flown by, and been fantastic.  But be rest assured… we will be back.  It’s time for us to go back home, to more people we love, but we will be back.  We will miss you while we’re gone.  But be rest assured… we will be back.

Oregon My Oregon

We have been here, the Northwest I mean, for 12 days.  I really didn’t realize how much I love it.

When a person grows up in a place and spends their whole life in that place, I think they don’t really realize how much they love it.  If they do love it that is.  I’ve traveled a lot and I’ve always said no matter where I’ve been, and I’ve been a few places, the Northwest is/was the most pretty.  I said that, and meant it.  It’s just that I don’t think I realized the depth of the statement, of my feeling for it, until I moved away.  I realize it now.

We have walked the streets of the city we love the most, spent time in the woods, helped to scatter my grandparents ashes, walked on the beach, spent time with family and friends, and slept in my childhood room so far during this visit.   All of that in less than two weeks.  I guess we’ve packed it in. Everything we’ve done, everyone we’ve spent time with, everywhere we’ve been has reminded me, further instilled in me, how much I love this place.  How much it is in me, a part of me.  How much I am, we are, of this place.  It’s in our cells.  I feel that.  And it makes me know that I will never take this place for granted again.  It makes me appreciate, even more, what the Northwest means to me.

Oh Oregon my Oregon… I do love you so.

Day Six… And Home

The drive on day six was awesome.  We went to Caffe Mela in Wenatchee before we started, as usual going to a local coffee place we’d found, and fueled up before heading to Leavenworth.  It’s a quick drive over to Leavenworth from Wenatchee and we were there in 30 minutes or so.  Not bad.  The four of us wandered the town, looking in windows, walking in the grass, taking a couple of photos with the phone.  Nice.  Then it was on the road for the drive to Salem, by way of Portland.

We were pretty happy as we entered Oregon near The Dalles.  I tried to take a photo of the entering Oregon sign, but Riley was on my lap and bumped my arm.  I got a fantastic shot of the side of the bridge.  The drive along 84, done so many times by both of us both separately and together, was gorgeous.  We passed Multnomah Falls, Karen driving, and I tried to lean over and take a photo as we whizzed by. I think I got a great photo of the dog bed and a tiny view of the falls.  Hilarious.  My photo taking abilities were definitely lacking yesterday.

We stopped in Portland to pick up a half a tray of lasagna from our favorite Italian place, Piazza Italia.  Yum.  We’d called and ordered in advance because my honey has been craving this lasagna for a year.  We had it for dinner.  It was yummy.

We arrived at Mom and Don’s last night about 6:00.  2584.1 miles, 8 states, 6 days and we finally were able to stop driving.  Yay!  Don’t get us wrong, we love road trips, but being able to stop and not have to drive the next day… lovely.  The dogs are liking it too, though we’re sure they thought they lived in the car after spending so much time there over the last several days.  They thought that was their life.  Good thing they adjust pretty well as long as they’re with us.  Kev was here to greet us, very nice.  Nothing like a Kev hug on arrival.

Next on the agenda… enjoy this fantastic Oregon weather.  It’s supposed to be low to mid 80′s very low humidity the next several days.  Lovely lovely.

Whirlwind

Wow… I’m tired.  We arrived back home at 11:00 PM last night after spending much of the last five days back in Oregon.  What a time we had…

I’m sitting here looking back on it all and I’m overwhelmed with a feeling of love, laughter, and community.  We have a big life there.  So many people who love us and who we love.  Amazing.

We arrived Thursday at about 10:00 PM after a direct flight from Chicago Midway.  Kevin, my brother, picked us up and hauled us back to what used to be our house and is now Vicki and Kevin’s house.  We slept on the hide-a-bed after staying up way too late talking to Kev.  I love my brother.  He’s an awesome man!

Next morning we jumped into our Toyota pickup truck (the one we left in Oregon so my brother could use it if he had to do stuff for any of our rentals) and drove in to Gravy for a fantastic breakfast with Kev.   I love that place.  So good.  After we  all drove down to Mom and Don’s place in Salem.  Kev stayed over there as well, which was great, so we had a really nice time just hanging out at the farm with everyone.  Mom and Don’s place is fantastic.  A true Better Homes and Gardens kind of place.  Gorgeous plantings, landscaping, etc.  It was so nice getting the Mom hugs and just hanging out with her and Don.  I love my Momma.  She so rocks it out!

Saturday, after hanging out more at Mom and Don’s we jumped back in the trusty Toyota and headed back to Portland.  We hit Saturday Market for some wedding gift shopping and some lunch.  After we drove on out to Stacia and Eric’s place to drop our stuff and load Stan’s party playlist on his retirement present… new iPod and docking station.  Then it was off to the fairgrounds to hook up my laptop to the sound system and make sure all was well.  Then… party party party.  We were there from 5:00 to after 11:00.  I got to see so many great friends and people I hadn’t seen in a long long time.  People who I hadn’t seen since I abruptly left when I got sick last year.  It was wonderful getting to catch up, hug some people, and hang out with some fantastic peeps.  Plus, getting to be there to help send Stan into retirement… so wonderful.  I love that man…. he’s  a true sweetie.  A fantastic friend.  He’s family…. many of those people are like family to me.  So much love in that room.  For Stan and for each other.  It was lovely.  When we got back to Stacia and Eric’s that night we had a chance to hang and visit with Stacia a little bit… and then again in the morning for a brief time.  Not long enough… but it was great just getting the time we did.  I love you girl… my sister from another mother!

Sunday we got up and drove back over to our Oregon house to drop off the truck and get a ride from Vicki (thanks girl!) into Maggie’s for the wedding.  Wedding prep ensued.  It was a lovely lovely ceremony.  I love weddings…. after all, they are all about love.  What’s better?  I was so honored to be a part of it.  I love Kate and Terri and am so happy they took this step.  Plus, it was wonderful wonderful to hang out with the POD.  Ladies, you are a classy group of babes and we are so lucky to be a part of this little family we’ve made.  Love love love to all of you.  It was so nice sitting around the chiminea Sunday night chatting it up.

Sunday we got up and hung out with Maggie a bit.  She’d had to take Bernadette (so great to see you again B) to the airport early early that morning and then had come home before work.  So glad she did so we had some time to chat.  You’re house, and you yourself, are fantastic.  We love you!  Later Sandy and Angela came over, picked us up, took us to the airport, and then enjoyed some breakfast with us at a restaurant at the airport.  So so great to get to spend this time with them.  We were rushing so much that getting these little snippets of time with individual people was like getting little gifts each day.  Sandy… you are a gift to us.  We adore you.

It was wonderful… our time back home.  Lovely.  Fast.  Furious.  A whirlwind.  We saw so many people, ran around so much, stayed at a different house every night, but so so good.  So so wonderful.  Our life there is so big.  Our relationships so important to us.  We love each of you.  Know this.

Yes, it was also good to get back home.  Which is nice.  It was great seeing the pups again, great to see Mary and Sebastian this morning.  Great to see Lisa Lynn who was so fantastic to stay with and care for our babies while we were gone.  Girl… you rock and we love you.  Thank you so much!  And… we felt like we were coming home as we traveled back here.  Because, this is home now.  We are making new friends, loving being near Sebastian and his parents, and finding things to love here in Illinois.  We are starting to make a life here… what we hope, and what we can dream… is that our life here starts to resemble, even in a little way, what our life in Oregon has been and still is.  If we can do that, build even a part of that here, we will have done something amazing.  Because people… you are an amazing glorious group… a huge web of love we feel all the way over here in the Midwest.  Much love to you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you….

Fun Fridays

It’s Friday so you know what that means…  another Friday afternoon out exploring something or somewhere new.  This Friday we started by doing some errands.  Nothing much new about that.  Bully sticks for the pups, and a new low beam bulb for the Volvo.  Oh, I guess I should say coffee and chai first… then sticks and bulb.

After that however we called a couple of friends and got the name of a Thai place we’d been told about but had never been to. We are always looking for a new Thai place as it’s our favorite kind of food.  And, thanks to our friends, we were able to get the info we couldn’t either of us remember.  E-San.   Yum.  The reviews were correct… the place is good.  Yum yum.  We will be back.

Following the great late lunch/early dinner we walked around a bit in the Pearl… stopping at North Face and REI looking for winter jackets.  Yeah, we know it’s Spring soon turning to Summer, but then it will be Autumn turning to Winter and we will be then living in the Midwest where it is C-O-L-D.  We want to be prepared.  I guess we should start looking for down jackets for the pups as well… ya think?  Hmmm….

Finally, after some shopping (we didn’t buy anything yet), we ended up at Crush where a few of our friends were meeting (we found this out when we called around asking about the Thai place… nice little coincidence, we call and they happen to be meeting and we get invited… yay us!).  We had some tasty and refreshing beverages with them and some, as always, great conversation.

It was a very nice Fun Friday Adventure.  I love these little afternoons sneaking away.  Time for us to just do what we feel like doing, be together, and… well… have some fun.

Get Motivated… Or Not

Yesterday I attended the Get Motivated gathering at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR.

The Pros… Some great speakers that I actually enjoyed… Terry Bradshaw, Colin Powell, Bill Cosby, Rudy Giuliani (he was a tad boring, but it was cool to see him speak) and yes… Laura Bush. Also attended with some great friends… Kate, Sandy, Maggie… loved hanging with you guys for a day. Spending time with you always makes whatever I’m doing better. A decent chicken sandwich with some pretty tasty french fries… yum. Also a Haagen Dazs ice cream bar and like three bottles of water (not to mention a cup of very mediocre but necessary coffee). In short, or long, the food was OK.

The Cons… Parking was a bummer and I ended up being late (which I usually never am) after having to park at the Loyd Center (paid $8 to do that) and then rode the MAX to the gig. I walked to my car after it was over instead of riding the MAX… WAY too crowded for this girl. Also… some of the speakers, not mentioned above, were a tad preachy (literally and figuratively)… NOT my cup o’ tea. Kate and I left during the first of these extended sales pitches and got ourselves some early lunch. The lunch was much better than that particular talk. Another couple after lunch went on way too long and were again sales pitches wrapped up in a preachy type of presentation. It might just be me, but I can’t take that.

All in all it was cool seeing some pretty great people talk, and it was probably worth it. Though I can’t see myself doing this ever again even though I’m kinda glad I went this time. Was I motivated? Probably not any more than I already am…. so, in name the thing failed, but ultimately it was a pretty good day… so, there’s definitely that.

Friday Adventures Part Drei

Our third outing in the Friday Adventure series finds us first getting coffee, then going to the bank, then getting a parking ticket while in said bank (we tried to pay, but couldn’t). We saw the guy putting it on the windshield when we came out and Karen tried to chat with him about it, he was incredibly rude to her and explained that the machine didn’t take credit cards… We didn’t see the tiny print on the machine that said so. Either did the other guy who also got a ticket and said he tried to pay as well. A nice $40 surprise… LoL Oh well, c’est la vie. Karen is going to protest, but we are laughing about it now.

After the ticket we moved to another parking spot downtown ( and were able to pay… Yay… No ticket!) and then moseyed around near the Fox Tower 10 scouting restaurants for our POD movie outing tomorrow (going to see Black Swan then having lunch and then seeing The King’s Speech). During our meanderings we walked up to a bench (see below) and both started to jump off it, then, at the same time, decided to gingerly climb down. A sign of age? Yes. And funny as hell.

We ended up going into Pastini for lunch… Yum! Our adventure definitely continued there as Karen found a chicken bone in her pasta. We’ve been there many many times and nothing like this has ever happened before so we aren’t anti Pastini now or anything. Besides, they handled it really well and gave us her meal for free. Giving us back half the money from the parking ticket we’d gotten earlier. Circular baby! At least, that’s how we looked at it. Thanks Karen for putting your life in danger to get us the discount. Good thing you are such a slow eater honey!

Now we are headed to meet our friends Sandy and Vicki at Shigezo. Dessert for us, sushi for them. Let the adventure continue!

Friday Adventures

Karen and I decided last week we would go out and about every Friday afternoon that she could manage it (she has to work on her blackberry while we are out) to explore a new place or restaurant or thing. Mostly that will be in Portland, but we aren’t limiting ourselves. Last week this new idea took us to the yummy waffles at Elevated Coffee on MLK.

Today our story finds our intrepid adventurers braving the beauty of Portland’s mass transit system, ultimately getting on the new green line that runs out to Clackamas Towne Center. Why? Definitely not because we love Clackamas Towne Center. We aren’t really mall types. No. We do this because we wanted to ride on the new line. For the fun of it. That’s it. Fun. This wouldn’t be fun for everyone, but it is for us.

We started by parking in NW, getting coffee, jumping on the Portland Streetcar, getting of that and walking to Pioneer Courthouse Square, and then getting on the green line North. And here we are. Riding MAX out to Clackamas.

Who knows where the next adventure will take us. At this point we don’t even know, but rest assured it will take us somewhere we haven’t been. Just for the adventure and the fun of it.

Finally… a Farmer’s Market Success

Today has been a good day.  Soak in the hot tub, shower, a visit from Mom (she came so she could go to the oncologist appointment tomorrow with us), a trip into the city to do my bi-weekly blood draw, and a stop at the Farmer’s Market on 23rd.  It was great to wander around the market. Bought a couple of cookies and ate them, we got some fresh veggies for dinner tonight, and just enjoyed the market and the weather.  It’s not a huge one, but it had a great variety of stuff.  The perfect little stop and outing for us.  Really nice.

We got home a bit ago.  I walked 30 minutes on the treadmill and Mom and Karen both worked out in our mini gym in the shop.  Now they are in making dinner.  We are going vegetarian tonight.  Veggie noodles with spaghetti sauce, salad with tomatoes, walnuts, and a bleu cheese we bought at the market, plus green beans (also from the market), and broccoli.  Sounds really tasty to me, and is smelling great.

Tomorrow is the appointment with my oncologist.  We will, I know, get some answers about the time frame and what’s up with the consolidation rounds.  I’m actually happy to go meet with him.  Get those questions answered.

Walking Mississippi

Walking Mississippi

Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

So a couple of weeks ago we had the enormous pleasure of hanging out with and then having dinner with Grandpa, my Aunt Syd, Mom, Don, and Kev. It was a really nice evening. A very nice time. I love my family. Seriously, are there any better people out there? I know some of you might be saying yes, there are… as in your families, friends, or whatever, but still… I love these people. They are awesome. I always have a good time, without exception, when I’m with them, which I’m not often enough. And again I will say lucky. I am so lucky to be a part of this brood. Lucky.

Fork

Fork, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Another fork sighting. This time in a parking lot near the Loyd Center. What’s with the forks? Is someone trying to tell me something? Fork Off Tam! Fork off!! This one also taken with the phone camera. I had to. It’s kinda creepy this thing with me and forks.

Fork Art

Random, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Standing on that same street corner Karen noticed a fork randomly laying on a lamp post box (not sure if that’s the technical name for them… but there it is). I took another one as well where the fork was in focus, but I like this one… shows the background for this fork art. So corny, I know. This, again, taken with my phone.

PDX

PDX, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Let’s sum up our lives since the last I posted something… which has been a little while ago.

On the 10th of September Mary and Martin arrived from Britain. This was us walking across the pedestrian bridge from parking structure to the terminal. I took this one with my phone. Not bad, with a little tweaking from an app called Camera Bag. I believe this was like the 1974 version of the photo. All browns and muted. Cool.

Carolina Pump Station

Carolina Pump Station, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

We spent yesterday enjoying the sites and sounds of the last Sundays Parkways event in Portland for the year.

The event goes like this… the city closes off a grid of streets in a neighborhood. Those streets go by parks in the neighborhood. People bicycle, walk, skateboard, roller blade, or whatever around the circuit, stopping at the various parks to enjoy food, booths, activities, and music. This particular parkways event was in SE Portland. Our friend Maggie happens to live not far from the route, so we ventured to her house, parked the truck, hauled out our bikes, and the three of us headed over. We had a great time. Met some other friends at the first park, Colonel Summers, and enjoyed a couple of bands while we were there. This photo is of Carolina Pump Station. They were pretty darn good. We also enjoyed a plate of barbecue (we all shared it) and some tasty cookies. Then the three of us donned our helmets, bid farewell to our other compadres, and hit the road to complete the circuit.