49 For 49

I turned 49 a few days ago.  No, I’m not really 50 something and just using 49 as my sticky-post age.  I’m 49.

I’m not fazed.  Not being fazed is a good thing.

I have never been a person who was affected by my age.  I turned 16, 21, 25, 30, 40, etc. with no real worry or fear about getting older.  Time is what it is.  It marches, so do we.  I feel like I’m becoming a better version of myself, and getting better all the time, as I’ve aged.  Wisdom, lessening insecurities, a strong and getting stronger I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-what-anyone-thinks attitude, and a more and more relaxed way of looking at the world.

I feel like I’m better at looking outside of myself, outside of my inner dialogue, to the world beyond.  I realize I’m a small drop in a very large bucket.  And what’s more, when I fall back to being too much in my head, too much about me, I can snap out of it pretty quickly by reminding myself there’s more to life, so much more, than me.  It’s my personal version of a mental slap upside my head.  It’s a wisdom thing.  Something I’ve gained with age.  A certain perspective.  I’m grateful for it.

I try not to take myself to seriously, also a wisdom with age thing.  It’s the last vestige of big things I’m trying to work on.  I think I just wrote that with a serious face.  Mental note to relax the face while writing.

So I’m better, like fine wine, aged cheese, a good bourbon.  A better and bettering version of myself.  Is bettering even a word?  I have no idea.

I don’t know why I’m writing all of this.  My intention was to make a list of 49 things, of various types and intention, in honor of my 49th.  Instead I’ve seemed to wax on about how aged I am.

Let’s take a new tack.

I received a boat load of well wishes and birthday congrats and notes of love on Facebook.  I have an amazing group of people in my life, which I’ve mentioned on this blog before, and I’m ever so grateful for their presence, support, love, generosity of spirit, and humor.  It’s not so much that I have a quantity of people, I have quality people.  There’s a huge distinction in that.  They are quality people, and I’m beyond lucky to know them, to have them in my life.  I know this.  I’m blessed.

Which brings me back to the list.  The multitude of wishes made me grateful for the people in my life and that made me think of others things I’m grateful for.  I thought, at this juncture, it would be good to write some of those down, so the following is a list of things I’m grateful for.  It’s like a master list, though I know it will change, has changed, and morph over the years.  Some things though, remain constant.  I think it’s so important in life to look at what’s good, what’s working, what’s beautiful in our lives.  To actually take the time to acknowledge these things, stop in our crazy day, be still, and reflect on what’s good and important to us.  The people in my life would be number one.  So let’s start there.

1.  Family.  Born into a group of beautiful people, on both sides, was like winning the lottery.  There are people you choose in life, who I will get to in a moment, but the clan you enter the world belonging to can be a matter of luck.  My luck was good.  They are, to the last of them, quality, wonderful, and staggeringly spectacular.   I can’t even being to express the fortune I feel and how proud I am to belong to the lot of them.

2. Friends.  Or a better description might be to say they are the family I’ve chosen.  Throughout my life I seem to have chosen well.  I also find this lucky as I was not always my better self, yet somehow my center chose wisely, most of the time.  I’ve met and made friends with so many shining souls in my life I can’t even count them all.  As I sit here I see face after face run through my mind and I’m smiling.  Each and every one brought, and continues to bring, something singularly special to my life.  Such a unique, varied, luminous group of people.  I don’t know how I ended up with the pack of you, but I’m so so glad I did.  You are more than friends, you are truly family to me.

Brown Eyed Soul
Brown Eyed Soul (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

3. Pups. I’ve always been a dog person.  I love their pack mentality.  The group is better than the one.  I love their loyalty and sweetness and unconditional love.  I love how cuddly they are.  I realize not all dogs are like this, but in my experience, this is what I’ve found.  Our dogs, Weston and Riley, are the most wonderful of creatures.  Both quirky and slightly flawed and neurotic in their own little ways, they bring so much joy and love and happiness to our lives.  I can’t believe how much I love them, and how much love they give to us.  It’s miraculous, the love of our dogs for us.  It’s important to honor that, to cherish it, and to take up the responsibility that having them in our lives brings.

4. Wind in the trees.  This is a bit of a crazy one, or might seem crazy anyway, but its going to stay here none the less.  I love the sound of the wind in the trees.  It’s a reminder of the moving world.  The wind blows here, it’s blowing somewhere across the world.  It carries life and hazard and is alive in its own way.  It reminds me how gentle or ferocious life can be and that I should try to be gentler, quieter, softer in my approach.  It reminds me how small I am, how big the world is, and that there are people in other places lifting their faces to the wind, closing their eyes, and sighing, just like I do sometimes.

5. The grand boys.  I know they are people too, and yes they are included in what I wrote above, but they are worth their own category.  Every day it seems I learn something new from them, something new about them.  They have such zest, such emotion, such joy for life.  They are amazing little men and the fact that I get to be privy to their growth and exploration of the world is magical.  Seeing how they respond to things, how they are effected by their world, how they learn, it all stuns me.  I’m so grateful for the experience of knowing them and loving them and having them love me.

6. My honey.  Yes, she also deserves her own category.  I would’ve put her first, as she deserves to be first, and is, but no matter.  It doesn’t matter what number gets put next to her on any list, she’s my number one.  My center, my split apart, my soul mate.  Two people were never more suited for each other.  We are like a hand in a perfectly fit glove.  We mesh.  We work.  We somehow found each other.  It’s rare, to have this kind of relationship.  I know it is.  She knows it too.  I can be moody and difficult, we have our issues, like everyone does, but the difference is that we are always moving together in the same direction.  We find joy in each other, in our relationship.  We look at things the same way, with a sense of adventure and excitement.  She has more joy than anyone I’ve ever met.  I am amazed by her.

7.  The Scooter.  It’s fun.  It’s fast.  It’s zippy.  It’s freedom on two wheels.  Riding it gives me great joy.  What more is there to say?

2397017863_b3d3da1b98_b8. A good book.  I’m in a reading phase now.  I seem to, over the course of my life, go in and out of reading phases.  I’ve always loved it, but sometimes I go off reading.  I have no idea why.  The times when I’m in a reading phase definitely are better times.  I am more relaxed, more at peace, more in touch with things outside myself.  It’s a good advertisement, in my life anyway, for me trying to stay in a reading phase.  New worlds are always waiting inside the pages of a good book.

9. My kindle, and other electronic devices.  Is this cheating to bring up the Kindle right after the above number 8?  Nah….  I’m a geek.  I love all things techy.  I love new technology, what it can do, the places it can take me.  I have always loved these things.  I have no idea why.  I don’t really want to know how they work, I just want to figure out their functions and then use them.  Whatever thing; phone, laptop, Kindle, iPod, GPS in the Jeep, new app, etc., I happen to be using at the time.  Fabulous.

10. The dictionary.  The vehicle of its delivery has changed, moving to an online or let’s make that plural as in multiple online dictionaries, but I love them all the same.  Words, meanings of words, other words to use in place of words I think I’ve over used, and on and on.  The dictionary and/or a good thesaurus, are wonders of the world.  I adore them.

11. Chocolate.  In all its forms, covered over the top of things or standing alone on its own, I love me some good chocolate.

10469198_10152595625135802_7636557574230510828_n12.  The ocean.  Doesn’t really matter which one, though I’m sort of partial to the Pacific as it’s the one I grew up with.  The power, the endless depth, the mysteries living there.  Again, it’s one of those things that makes me feel small in a big world.  As you can probably tell by now I love that feeling.  It helps to put things in perspective.  I like most forms of natural water; rivers, oceans, big lakes, streams.  Even rain.  Rain is amazing.  I think my Oregon is showing through.

13. Ceiling fans.  Crazy as this may seem.  I love our ceiling fan in our bedroom.  I don’t know if I could sleep without it.  It’s the simple pleasures in life.  Besides which, in Scappoose we actually named our ceiling fan The Super-Sky-Diving-Fan-Blade-Lady.  Yes, if you looked at it just right, like shapes in clouds, you could see her.

14. Filtered sunlight.  I’m looking out into the backyard now.  It’s now (a few days have gone by since I started this list) the first day of Autumn (which happens to be my favorite of the seasons) and it’s gorgeous outside.  The light is coming down in streaks through the trees and it’s absolutely beautiful.  Stunning.  Gorgeous. Amazing.

15. Weston’s snoring sound.  I know I already talked about the dogs, but seriously, his snore rocks.  He’s a small dog, but can snore with the best of them.  I love that sound.

16. Finding a new band/music and music in general.  I’m an explorer by nature.  This applies to music as well.  I’m constantly looking for new music.  Finding a new group/artist is an amazing thing.  It lifts my soul.  Just as listening to an old standard lifts my soul.  Some people aren’t music people, they could care less.  I don’t understand those people.  I’m moved, shaped, enlightened, lifted, seared to the core, and effected greatly by the music in my life.

17. Birkenstocks.  We are a Birkenstock household.  There are so many different kinds of Birkenstocks in our house it’s sort of ridiculous, but they are here for a reason.  They are comfortable.  The most comfortable shoe ever.  My feet sing while wearing them.

Portland Rose Garden
Portland Rose Garden

18. Walkabouts.  I love a good stroll.  Going places my feet can take me, anywhere I happen to be, is a great thing.  My Mom and I just did a 13 plus mile stroll in Chicago recently.  We hadn’t planned on walking that far, we just did.  The weather was wonderful, the company stellar, and the sights beautiful.  Walking is an experiment in living the slow life.  It allows you to drink it what’s around you, be more effected by it, be IN it.  I recommend it highly.

19. iPhone camera.  I’m a fan.  Being somewhat of a photographer (I’ve gotten paid to do it occasionally) I have a lot of equipment.  Recently, however, I’ve been using my iPhone camera more and more.  I’ve done this for a couple of reasons.  One, I don’t have to carry around a ton of stuff, my phone is always in my pocket anyway, and two, not carrying around all that stuff and attending to it, and then using it, I feel like I’m more in the moment.  I’m still taking loads of photos, but I seem to be more present in situations just using my phone as opposed to big cameras.  And to top it off, the iPhone camera is pretty darn good for a phone camera.  I like it.  I like it a lot.

20. Eggs on toast.  We just spent many days in our travel trailer.  An egg on toast was a go to breakfast for us during that time.  One egg, one piece of toast.  Simple, and warm, and tasty.  I enjoyed it.  I just thought of it this morning, so guess what we had for breakfast today?

21. Autumn.  I mentioned fall in an earlier item.  It’s my favorite and deserves its own slot.  I love the changing of the leaves, I love the new crispness in the air, I love how we clean up the yard and put stuff away and everything starts to get still, quiet.  Strangely I love having to put on my long pants and sweatshirts for the first time in months.  I love the holidays during fall and how here in Illinois the trees start to bare themselves as the leaves start to fall.  It’s a time of change and quieting and relief from the heat.

22. Old fashioned chocolate sodas.  To be honest I just discovered these this last week.  I liked it so much I’m including it here.  Yum.

23. Travel.  As I said earlier, I’m an explorer by nature.  New places, new things, new experiences are like mana of the gods to me.  I drink them in.  Travel, by its nature, feeds that need in me to explore.  New sights, sounds, people met, and areas to explore feed my soul.  I’m a bit of a nomad and travel, of any kind and distance, fills that part of me.

Redwoods
Redwoods

24. Our new travel trailer.  Related, obviously, to the previous item, our travel trailer rocks.  We just got it this summer and ended up spending, so far, nearly 50 nights traveling around and sleeping in it.  I never got tired of it.  It’s small, but feels big for its size.  I think, honestly, I could actually live in it.  That won’t happen, as having a home base is necessary for my honey, and probably for me as well, but I think I could.  It’s perfect for the two of us and our two fur heads.  It symbolizes adventure and fun and exploration.  I’m ready to take it out again.

25. Tasty vittles.  Along with new places to see, I love finding new foods I like.  As well, truth be told, as eating standard favorites of mine.  A good meal shared with good people and maybe a nice glass of Barbera d’Alba.  Yum.

26. Quiet time.  I’m a person who enjoys solitude and silence.  In fact I don’t just enjoy it, I need it.  Sitting alone in a space reading, watching tv, drinking coffee, looking around, or just sitting and thinking, is necessary for me.  I call it my recharge time.  It’s important for me.  And consequently it’s important for those around me.  I’m a better me when I get time to myself once in a while.  If I don’t I begin to feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and a tad crazy pants.  Plus, I just plain enjoy it.

27. The blogs.  Creative outlets, period the end.  I love writing, I love taking photos, and I love having a place to put that out into the world.  Read or not read (though I prefer read) I so enjoy the constant platforms for creativity.

28. Speaking of photography.  Photography.  I see the world a certain way.  I see it in detail.  The whole is beautiful, but the real secret beauty lives in the details.  A leaf, an arm, a man smoking a cigar, shadows and light.  I have always seen this way, though I think using a camera so much has heightened this sense of mine.  When I capture what I’ve just seen with my eyes in a photograph it’s an incredible feeling.

29. Words.  Written by others, written by myself, lyrics, stanzas, dialogue, conversation, puns, silly phrases, novels, poems, short stories, witty commercials, plays, dictionaries, etc.  No matter the vehicle, words mean a lot to me.  I’m grateful for their breadth and depth and expanse.  I’m grateful to be able to convey and to have things conveyed to me.  I’m grateful for the expression of others and my ability to express.  They are the bread and fruit of life.

30.  A good hug.  My brother, Kev, is a fantastic hugger.  He’s known for it actually.  I think his hugs will go down in song and story.  He hugs with the all of himself.  It engulfs and warms and conveys so much.  There’s nothing like a good hug.  We are a hugging family.  We are people who hug.  There’s a reason for that.

Peace
Peace

31. Experience.  Vague, yes, but not really meant to be.  I love new experiences with the people in my life.  Fishing on Stan’s boat, disc golf with the Gal Up group, crab feast with the POD, fantasy football, going out for a bite to eat, bike rides, walks, dinners at the houses of great friends, train rides, laughing and laughing, seeing a film, reading a book, walking on a beach, kayaking, exploring cool buildings, seeing great art, and on and on and on.  The experiences we have are everything.  What we own, nothing. The time we spend with the people we love, doing things we love, that’s where the heart and soul of living is.

32. Bike rides.  I have always loved the feeling of being on a bike.  It’s always meant freedom and fun to me.  When I was a kid a whole gang of us would ride around together, exploring the neighborhood.  I bought my first bike, a sweet little green 10 speed, when I was in junior high.  I’d had bikes before, but that was the first one I paid for by myself.  I saved the money.  It was so cool.  I rode that bike for years actually.  I think it’s even the one I took to college with me.  It was, during school days, my main mode of transport.  Somehow I let that bike go and didn’t have another one for a long time.  In recent years I’ve gotten back into it, not as a major cyclist or anything, just as a day rider, and have loved every moment I’m in the seat.  It’s liberating, invigorating, and free.  Last year I got a new, slightly better bike, and it’s been heaven.  Stepping out to the garage and just hoping on the bike and going out for a spin, so much fun.  SO much fun.  Makes me feel the same way I did when I was a kid.

33. Life.  I’m grateful for it.  Four years ago first my honey and then I had brushes with death.  Both sicknesses, both life threatening, both terrifying.  We each pulled through with flying colors, but at times, for each of us, it was touch and go.  I’m grateful we are both here and loving, laughing, experiencing, exploring, and trying to drink in every bit of life.  I’m so very grateful.

34. Not taking things for granted.  I don’t.  I feel an expanding sense of gratitude all the time.  I know my life is good, and I don’t take that for granted.  I’m glad I don’t.  I’m lucky to know not to.  I’ve always been this way, but as I get older, and as I’ve experienced more in life, I feel this even more.  I wish I could gift it to everyone, this feeling of being so thankful for what I have, and so in tune with that feeling.  It changes everything, or can anyway.  I know people who struggle with life, always feeling they are owed, or due something, or that they have been robbed of something.  I feel so sad for them.  Honestly sad.  Our lives are a matter of perspective.  “Coffey looks and he sees hate and fear, you have to look with better eyes than that”.  It’s my favorite line from the move The Abyss.  It says everything there is to say.  We all have to look with our best eyes.  I’m not preaching here, OK, maybe I am just a little, I’m just trying to say that I’m grateful that I don’t take things for granted and I wish everyone could feel what that feels like.

35. Connection.  I feel a deep sense of connection.  Not just to my family and friends, but to the world at large.  I feel a spiritual connection to all living things, and therefore a responsibility to them.  I’m grateful for this feeling.  It brings a depth to my life, helping me to center myself at times, to know my place.  Again, I’m but a drop in the bucket and this larger living world is a huge place filled with wonders.

South Dakota
South Dakota

36. Silliness.  I was going to write a good laugh here, but changed my mind and wrote silliness instead.  There’s nothing like being silly, being a dork, being unafraid to be ridiculous and not care what anyone thinks.  I’m a total dork.  I admit it.  I embrace it.  I say and do things that get me strange looks at times.  I’m OK with that.  I’m grateful for the quirk in myself, for the quirk in my friends, for the dorkiness of my family, for the natural pratfalls and schtick, and playfulness in myself and the people I love.   Everyone should be willing to dance in the rain and do silly stuff just to make the people you love laugh.  At least, that’s what I think.  Last night I was talking in the most ridiculous southern accent just to make my honey laugh.  She did.  It was awesome.

37. Film.  I adore a good movie.  I cry, learn, expand, dream, breathe, laugh, and find so much beauty in movies.  I always have.  It’s the stories, the hope, the despair, the human commonality, the connection with places and people who I feel I know.  Near or far, made in the US or not, these stories grow a world view, empower change, enlighten, and sometimes offer an escape and relief from my daily life.  I value them, their contribution, their art.  I value their expression and message, even if I don’t always agree with it.  Movies enrich my life in a myriad of ways.

38. The Library.  I’ve always been a fan of libraries.  When I was younger I used to hang out in them a bit to do homework, people watch, enjoy a quiet place.  I never took full advantage of one and I’m not sure I even had a library card (other than in college) anywhere I’ve lived, until now.  When we moved to C-U we, naturally because it’s why we moved here, started hanging out a lot with our first grandson.  The library in our town has a great children’s area and a couple of times we found ourselves there with him exploring the kids area, playing with the train, running up and down the little stairs.  I decided to look around a bit and discovered they had a lot to offer and set about getting a library card.  I’m so glad I did.  Books, movies, music, magazines, and so much are now at my fingertips.  I created a hold list and add stuff to it all the time.  It’s so much fun.  In a time in our lives when we are trying to live smaller, use less, and have less, the library provides a great way for me to still enjoy all those things I love without having to pay out tons of money, or find tons of space in the house.  Plus, again, it’s so much fun.

39. The Y.  We also joined the Y when we moved here.  We’d never been members of a gym together.  Not really.  Well, OK, we joined another gym the first year we were here, but it was small and in a mall.  Neither of those things were necessarily bad, but it was limited.  Then the new Y opened up and we went in to check it out.  Great facility.  Pools, weight rooms, indoor track, rock climbing wall, great locker room facilities, and a great play space for the grand boys.  We were hooked and signed up.  We go through spurts when using it, like most people with gym memberships, but the diverse class offerings (we’re going to try yoga next week), combined with the facilities themselves and the incredibly nice staff make it a total winner.  We absolutely love it, and I’m particularly fond of it now as I’m back in a swimming mode and love being in the water.

40. Our meat man.  I get a lot of joy out of this one.  When we moved to Illinois from Oregon I did a lot of research on sustainable food sources, organic availability, grocery stores and what they offered, etc.  Coming from the Portland area we were used to having locally sourced meat and other foods available to us all the time.  What I found in my search here was that we could join a meat club.  Yay.  Seriously, it’s the coolest thing.  We buy our meat directly from a farmer.  We can visit the farm, though we haven’t, if we want to.  We know his practices, like him and the other people who work the truck when we do our monthly pick up, and totally dig on the superior quality of the meat we are now eating.  It tastes better than anything we’ve ever purchased, anywhere.  It rocks, and we love that we get the majority of our meat this way.  We get an email every month, we use and order form and email back what we want, we show up at the pick up spot and pick it up.  It rocks.

1393417878_f1c0d17f07_o41. Quirky art.  My honey and I are fans of art.  All kinds actually.  We’ve purchased sculptures and paintings and photography and funky lamps and stain glass pieces.  We’ve even made some of our own, of various kinds.  It’s a great thing to go to some art fair and find something we both love.  It’s a rule, we don’t buy anything unless we agree on it, which actually isn’t that tough since our tastes are similar.  I love the pieces we’ve purchased and so does she.  We haven’t regretted a single one and the whole of them makes our house uniquely ours.  It’s funky, it’s fun, it’s joyous.  And I’m grateful for the funky beautiful things we’ve managed to collect.  They represent us well.

42. Coffee.  I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me earlier in this list, but no matter.  I love a great cup of joe.  Love it. We buy our beans from a local roasting company and every morning we grind them fresh and make two french presses full of gorgeous, beautiful, sweet-smelling coffee.  There’s nothing like that first cup of the day, except for maybe the third cup… or the second.  We’re also fans of going out to a local spot (no Starbucks for us anymore), and enjoying a nice cup of drip coffee.  A good cup of coffee can be heaven in a cup.

43. Our DVR.  This one is a tad shallow, but who cares.  These are the things I’m grateful for and the DVR, and services like Netflix, are on the list.  I love not having to watch commercials.  I love being able to watch what we want when we want to.  I love the ease of it all.  I love the technology of it all.  We watch only what we want, when we want to, and barely know anything else is on.  Lovely.

44. The Up Center.  Moving to a new place is tough.  Especially when you love where you already live, have a fantastic group of friends, and aren’t over the moon with where you are going.  Our transition, those first couple of months, was tough.  We cried, we had regrets, we asked ourselves what the hell were we thinking and why did we do it?  Of course, we did it for the grand son (there was only the one at the time, not the two and the baby girl on the way we have now) and he was totally worth it.  It’s just that we had a big big life in Oregon and at first our move here was difficult.  But, we found a little place called the Up Center, went to a group or two, met some people, and started making friends.  All the friends we have here we met through that organization.  It’s because of that I’m so grateful for it.  We have a stellar group of friends here.  A truly amazing group.  A group we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.

45. Big Boy Shorts/Pants.  I’m a huge fan of cargo shorts.  My honey and I call these our big boy shorts. We also have big boy pants.  Nothing says convenience more than shorts equipped with pockets.  Keys, phone, wallet, etc.  They all fit.  No purse, no backpack, no anything else to carry.  It’s perfect.  They are perfect.  I really dig them.  Grateful for the ease of wearing them.

46. Our bird feeders.  I’ve never really been into birds.  I mean, they can be lovely and all, but I wasn’t ever a bird watcher or anything.  Then we moved to Illinois and my honey wanted bird feeders.  She is a bird lover.  We tried a few configurations including sitting them up on things or putting them on hooks.  We have a lot of trees which means we have a lot of squirrels.  Finally it occurred to us that we needed something taller.  A long story short, we actually sunk posts in with hooks on each side.  We stained them, put copper tops on them, and used nice wrought iron hooks.  They’re great.  And we get loads of birds.  So many types it’s amazing.  I’m a bird person now.

47. Our down comforters.  We have both a summer and a winter comforter, they’re both down.  There’s something extra snuggly about getting into bed with either of these on.  They make our life so much more comfortable.  They’re awesome.

1557202_10152252227945802_1261058153_o48. Grateful.  I’m grateful for being grateful.  I often feel a wave of gratefulness wash over me.  Not sure where it comes from all the time, but it happens.  I’m grateful for this feeling.  For knowing there’s so much to be grateful for.

49. A positive attitude.  It’s fitting that I should save this for last.  It’s important to me, and a big part of who I am.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am afraid sometimes, really afraid.  I worry.  I get really angry sometimes.  I’m moody.  I’m not always the person who says let’s hold hands and all sing kumbaya.  But for the most part, most of the time, I’m pretty upbeat.  I tend to look on the bright side.  I think it’s a mixture of hope and what I believe to be true all rolled together.  I’m genuinely hopeful, most of the time.  I also genuinely believe in the overwhelming good of most people.  I know there are evil souls out there doing bad things, but I truly believe that for the most part people are good, are trying to do what they think is best, are sincere and giving and gracious and kind.  I believe that.  I’m glad I do.  I believe that things can work out.  They don’t always, but they can.  I’ve always been this way.  Maybe that’s why the teachers at my high school gave me a president’s award my senior year for having the best attitude.  I believe we should smile at each other, with our eyes, and say thank you, and that we should be friendly, we should be nice.  A positive attitude gives you a lot in return as well.  In my opinion it just doesn’t project out toward the world, it gives you a better view of it.

So there it is.  My list of 49 things I’m grateful for as I start this year of my life.  50 is just around the corner and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year, leading up to that milestone, brings to my life.  It’s exciting.

Off the Grid and Back Again

We’ve had a bit of a disappearing act. I was going along nicely, posting something every day as we travelled across the country and them BAM! no posts. Don’t you hate it when someone uses punctuation in the middle of a sentence. Anyway….

We arrived in Oregon a few days ago, picked up our new trailer the next day, outfitted it and learned how to use it as best we could in one day, then headed out on a dry camping adventure in Central Oregon. Woods, lake, stream, tubing said stream multiple times, and some much needed relaxation. We slowed down. We looked at the water. We stopped moving. We stopped using electronic devices. It was wonderful!

I highly recommend it. Slowing down I mean. It’s amazing.

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Full of Hot Air

Several years ago K and I drove from Portland down to Las Vegas.  You can do that drive in a day, a long one, which I’ve done before (Linda, remember the time we drove into that camp ground in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, looking for a bathroom?), but it’s much nicer to stop for a night along the way.  The most obvious place to stop is Reno, which makes a nice midway point.

K and I pulled into Reno, after driving 10 hours or whatever it was, found a cheap hotel, found some cheap dinner, put our usual $20 into a slot, and were ready to hit the mattress and get a good night’s sleep before our 10 hour or so drive the next day.  Until….

In our hotel room, looking out at the city, we saw a sign for The Great Reno Balloon Race, starting the next morning at like 5:00.  By this point it was one in the morning and we were tired, but as we’re both always up for spontaneous adventure we decided to forgo sleep and see what we could see at the balloon fest the next morning.  We are so glad we did.  It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen and experienced in my life.  We got up at 4:30, got directions from the front desk person, and headed over.  There was a “glow” at 5:00 which was amazing in an of itself.  Several balloons lit up in the dark, anchored, taking turns burning.  Cool.  Later, when the sun just started to come up 75 or so balloons took flight.  It was beautiful, and hilarious, and strangely emotional.  Some of the balloons were different shapes which made it fun spotting them and pointing them out to each other.  We both absolutely loved it.

Since that day we’ve wanted to go to another festival, though we’ve decided it must be a big festival or we’d be sort of disappointed.  The sight of five balloons taking off compared to 75 would be slightly – inadequate.  Then, today, I saw a thing come across my Facebook feed from Roadtrippers.  It’s a road trip website I love.  They have great info about places to see, history, cool stuff wherever you happen to be driving.  I use it sometimes when we travel.  They have an app.

So I was perusing my feed and there it was, a time-lapse video of the recently held International Albuquerque Balloon Festival.  It’s the largest in the world.  500 balloons.  That’s all kinds of awesome if you ask me.  I had to show it to K.  We just, on the spot, decided we must go next year.  I’m excited.

Here’s the video.  I dare you not want to head to Albuquerque for the festival after you see it.  Maybe you shouldn’t watch, it might be too tempting.

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.

Pronunciamento

I love words and this is a great one. Pronunciamento. Meaning… pro·nun·ci·a·men·to   [pruh-nuhn-see-uh-men-toh, -shee-uh-] noun, plural pro·nun·ci·a·men·tos. a proclamation; manifesto; edict.

I came across this one today as I was looking around the dictionary.  Or more precisely, in this new age, dictionary.com. It’s a wonderful word found in a wonderful place.  Dictionaries are exciting, to me anyway.  I’ve been reading them since I knew what one was and found one in our house.  Words.  Wonderful.

I used to play word games with some of my work mates.  Emails going around with sentences made up of words with the same letter.  Peter picked pickled peppers.  Like that.  We’d start with A and work our way to Z and back again, or we’d rhyme, or be cute some other way with wonderful wacky words.  Fun, to us anyway.  We’d stretch our minds, our vocabularies, and we’d laugh and laugh.  Words are good like that.

Today as I looked around I came across this great word.  Had never heard of it.  And now I love it.  I am also, I think, going to use it here.  Make a pronunciamento about things I’d like to do this summer… a proclamation of sorts.  Here, publicly, live and “in person”.  Maybe if I put some things down here I will do some of them… maybe I already have.  Maybe I would anyway.  No matter… it’s a fun exercise.

(Riley is playing with her Uncle Kevin right now… he’s rubbing her belly, she’s growling, barking, and jumping up to wiggle around and play bite at him.  She’s like popcorn. It’s cute.  They missed each other.)

Anyway… back to the pronunciamento.

100 things to do this summer… and in life.

  1. Be present.
  2. Act with grace.
  3. Ride my bike around town.
  4. Use the frisbee golf set I purchased.
  5. Play with Sebastian.
  6. Eat grapes.
  7. Get my photos better organized.
  8. See an opera again.
  9. Hold hands.
  10. Be patient with people.
  11. Listen.
  12. Walk.
  13. Sing loudly in moving vehicles.
  14. Eat more whole food, less processed food.
  15. Play guitar again.
  16. Travel to foreign places.
  17. Write.
  18. Be silly.
  19. Dance suddenly and randomly at home, and sometimes in public.
  20. Be child like.
  21. Hug my honey more than I already do.
  22. Use the library more than I do.
  23. Make pudding.
  24. Sleep outside.
  25. Be less afraid.
  26. Live more sustainably.
  27. Don’t buy anything for myself, including music, clothes, videos, etc. unless it’s second hand. (related to previous point)
  28. See a few movies in the park.
  29. Stop and listen to live music (street corners, festival bands, etc.)
  30. Paint something.
  31. Go to the drive in.
  32. Take photographs that inspire me.
  33. Continue to evolve.
  34. Give more than I get.
  35. Show respect to strangers.
  36. Buy meat from a farmer.
  37. Write and send actual letters.
  38. Study other cultures and ideas.
  39. Honor my ancestors.
  40. Swim in wild waters.
  41. Walk in Central Park in New York, eat lobster in Maine, watch hot air balloons in New Mexico.
  42. Use the crockpot to make dessert.
  43. Put my feet in lakes, oceans, rivers, puddles, tiny wading pools.
  44. Do another paring down of my clothes and shoes.
  45. Eat tomatoes from our tomato plant.
  46. Sit quietly outside in the wind and sunshine listening to the trees and not talk or play on the computer or phone or any other man made thing.
  47. Live responsibly.
  48. Worry less.
  49. Try new foods that scare me a little.
  50. Use hairbrushes and wooden spoons as microphones.
  51. Give the pups even more attention than they already get.
  52. Go snorkeling.
  53. Take random day long road trips with my honey to nowhere in particular with good music playing and great conversations.
  54. Embrace my dorky nature.
  55. Go to museums.
  56. Dinners with friends.
  57. Be in awe.
  58. Make people laugh on purpose.
  59. Learn.
  60. Make and eat pudgy pies.
  61. Talk to strangers.
  62. Laugh at myself and things that might irk me, but shouldn’t.
  63. Be the nicer version of me in taxing situations.
  64. Do things I love more than things I should do.
  65. Make and drink naturally flavored sun tea.
  66. Make a fort out of blankets.
  67. Smile often and only from the eyes.
  68. Camp in wild beautiful places.
  69. Put my toes in the sand.
  70. Color.
  71. Eat more fruit and less bread.
  72. Read at least two books a month.
  73. Make stuff.
  74. Take care of my honey like she deserves.
  75. Skip, hop, and jump.
  76. See the AFI top 100 films.
  77. Know what’s going on in the world.
  78. Read poetry again.
  79. Play games and cards.
  80. Volunteer my time.
  81. Be passionate in life.
  82. Always look people in the eye.
  83. Wear funky hats.
  84. Write random and unexpected emails to friends and family more often.
  85. Love.
  86. Get paid for being creative.
  87. Take the dogs to parks and on walks.
  88. Be an agent of positive change.
  89. Travel to new places.
  90. Take the train more often.
  91. Ride a bus to Chicago or maybe some other random place.
  92. Sit around our chiminea with good company.
  93. Make a s’more or two.
  94. Say what I mean and only that.
  95. Smell flowers.
  96. Live free.
  97. Eat handcrafted ice cream.
  98. Help out friends and family.
  99. Be kind to myself.
  100. And lastly, though I could go on, laugh laugh laugh at why WordPress has famous nuns and Saint Peter as recommended highlighted links down below this as I type.  Hmmmm….

Candlestick Lane

We went out a couple of nights ago in search of Candlestick Lane in Urbana. A friend, thanks Ann!, told us about it. We were trying to conjure up some Christmas spirit. Ann had an idea where it was in past years so we went out..  pups in the car, homemade hot chocolate in our to go mugs, and a keen eye all led us in the right direction. Yes, we found it. It’s not huge, but it’s cool. Apparently, after a little research on it, it’s been there since the 1960’s. Every year they do a lighting ceremony… a processional where they light one house at a time until it’s all glowing beautifully. We missed that, but we didn’t miss the lane. We drove through like three or four times. We tried to get a shot on my phone, which I’ll include here, but it didn’t do it justice. We thought we should go back over, park the car, take one of the good cameras, and walk down to try and get some shots. We’ll see. So busy right now, with Christmas coming up this weekend, so we might not make it back over. But, we found it, and it was kinda cool. Yay for Christmas lights. We are so funny, we don’t like putting them up at our house, but we love love love looking at them.  Ho ho ho!

A Day in Chicago

Karen and I decided the other day that she would take a day off during the week and we would go somewhere.  Our original plan was to head to Indianapolis for a couple of days, spend the night, that sort of thing.  The dilemma… the pups.  We wanted to take them, and could have, but then what would we do with them when we wanted to go in somewhere or have dinner out or any myriad of other things that don’t allow dogs.  We couldn’t leave them in a hotel room and we wouldn’t leave them in the car, so there you go.  Dilemma.  And subsequent change of plan… day trips.  Ah ha!

So Sunday we just sort of drove around locally.  Didn’t really go anywhere overly cool, just sort of checking some places out.  We did this with the dogs.  They like to ride along.

Monday we got up, got a tad bit of coffee, waited for the radon guys to fix our leaky boot, and then headed to the train.  Ah the train.  I love it.  We were lame to wait until the last minute so our tickets were more.  Yes, they have so many at different price ranges just like the airline and if you wait too long the cheaper tickets sell out and you are left paying more.  Though really, c’mon… $52 for two one way to Chicago wasn’t terrible.  We have paid half that, but we weren’t too flummoxed by it.  Flummoxed… I love that word.

Drive to the train station, park in the 10 hour parking, hop on the train, get off in two and half hours after reading and listening to music and looking at the passing scenery and there you are… Union Station in the Second City.  Chicago.  I do love it there.

We have been to Chicago a few times now… before we moved to the midwest once, for two weeks over Christmas and New Years when the kids got married there.  That was our first time… we loved it then, and still.  We have only ever been downtown.  And this time was no exception.

One glitch… we didn’t have a plan.  We didn’t really decide until Monday morning that we were going for sure, hence the last minute ticket buying and such.  And we didn’t really talk about what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go beforehand or on the train ride there.  So there we were, Union Station, smack in the middle of the city, and had no idea what we were doing.  Pretty funny… and, kind of fun.  No agenda.

So we walked… and walked… and walked some more.  We originally headed toward a restaurant some friends recommended, The Artists Cafe, on Michigan Avenue down across from Millennium Park and the Art Museum.  We were starving so that seemed like a great place to begin.  It would have been, only before we got there we passed another place.  There were people sitting in the window who had enormous burgers that happened to catch my honey’s eye.  Needless to say all thought of the Artists Cafe was out the window and in we went for burgers.  They were good.  Aside from the rather vocal and potty mouthed man sitting next to us, it was all good.  And to be honest, we didn’t really care about the vocal potty mouthed man either.  He wasn’t loud, so we could tune him out as he lit into his lady companion for… who knows what.  Just a little extra flavor in the big city.

From there we walked to Macy’s to check out the window displays.  They were pretty cool this year.  I liked them.  A sort of magical fantasy theme thing.  Then we ran across the Christkindlmarket  and wandered there for a bit.  Every ornament you could possible think of, strudel, schnitzel, some strange drink served in a tiny boot… and crowded.  Cool.  We bought nothing, but we experienced it.

After that we decided we’d wander over toward the river and see if we could find some hot chocolate and chai.  We did.  A nice way to warm up and charge the phone (another word for map nowadays).  We sat in there for awhile, got warm again, purchased our return train tickets from the Amtrak app on my phone, and then wandered along the river back toward the park.  Millennium Park at night is gorgeous.  Especially this time of year.  Skating in the city rink, reflections of christmas lights along with city lights in The Bean, the faces all lit up, trees with lights in them, people everywhere, music playing, the Pritzker all gorgeous.  Beautiful.  We spent a bit of time down there just hanging out and looking at the sights before walking back toward Union Station.

Most of the day we walked, I took photographs, we talked, we hung out together.  Nothing major.  We figure we walked somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 miles.  We had some good food.  We looked at some cool stuff.  We enjoyed both the train ride going and coming home.  But mostly, honestly, we just enjoyed spending the day alone together.  It’s truly our favorite thing.  Being together and having an adventure.  There is nothing better than that.  Than days like our day in Chicago.

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What a Weekend… I’m Exhausted!

We had such a fantastic weekend.  So great that I’m tired today.  OK, maybe to be more accurate I should say that I’m partially tired from having to get up in the middle of the night to the let the dogs out.  For some reason, and this is a rare event, they both had to go out.  There’s the little girlie getting up for water and then not jumping back in the bed.  Bad sign.  I got up to find her and she was waiting in the hallway for me.  She ran over to the doggie door and then I heard Weston coming along as well.  I opened the door, they go out, and there I am peeking through the curtains over the sliders trying to see them out in the backyard at four in the morning.  Too funny.  So I could be tired from that.  But, the weekend was so busy, so much fun, and tiring in a totally good way as well.

It started Friday night with a Gal Up (a group we’ve found and joined) event at a local bar, the Esquire Lounge in downtown Champaign.  Drink, food, talk, pool playing, and good times had by all.  A great night with cool women.  Saturday we got up early to go watch Sebastian’s first swimming lesson here in the U.S.  He’s somewhat of a swimming lesson expert as he’s been in them since he was like three months old or something in the U.K.  But it’s been a little while since he’s been in the pool, so he was a tad cautious.  He had a big hold on Mary most of the time.  He didn’t cry, but he was unsure.  By the end though he was a champ, showing that now famous smile all over the place.  He’s going to be great and it was such a blast watching him, and watching Mary be such a fantastic Mom with him when he was unsure and scared and such.  Makes a person tear up watching the kid be so good with her kid.  Impressive.  After the swim lesson we took a jaunt over to Einstein Bagels with the kids to have a little bagel breakfast and then went over to their house for a bit to visit with Ashley, one of Mary’s friends and bridesmaids, who was visiting for the weekend from Indianapolis, where she’s living now.  It was really nice to see her.  Ashley recently got married, the wedding the kids went to over the weekend we did our overnight babysitting for the first time.   After we left the kid’s place we came home, picked up the pups, and headed out to Mahomet and a lovely new to us walking trail out there.  A great spot to walk them.  There are numerous trails to hit so it will be fun to go back out there and see what’s what with those.  On Saturday we only walked for about a mile, one way, because it was really sunny, with no shade, and Weston doesn’t much like the heat.  He was panting and kept trying to lay down in close to the tall grass.  We couldn’t keep going so we turned around, but they got a nice walk in anyway.  Afterward we came home and just enjoyed being here.  Watched some of the World Series, ate dinner followed by caramel corn, relaxed.  Nice.

Yesterday we had a nice mellow morning at home.  Brewed and drank some coffee, we each looked at our fantasy football teams and adjusted (we played each other this week), drank more coffee, pet on the pups a lot, and lounged in our living room.  Later we’d finally had enough of that lounging stuff and took the pups for a long walk.  We discovered a great area on campus only about a 15 minute walk from our house.  Fantastic.  It’s near the Arboretum, which includes the Idea Garden, and Japan House.  So great.  There’s an actual hill over there.  You can see out a ways.  We plan on going back to the garden with a camera to get some ideas.  It is the idea garden after all.  We also plan on taking the pups back over there again.  It’s so close to our house.  It’s so cool that we keep finding all these great places to take the dogs for walks.  We’re loving that.  After the walk we met up with Ann, one of our new friends here in Illinois, and drove out to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch where we met other peeps and then all did the corn maze.  We ended up splitting into two groups and raced each other.  Texting the other group with things like… Number 5!  There were eight punch stations to get in the maze and we were racing to see which group could get them all first.  We were ahead most of the time, until the end, when they managed to squeak by us for the win.  Damn Dracula! Where were you?!?!  We also looked at the reindeer, the pumpkins, and watched the pumpkin cannon shoot a pumpkin out into a field.  The cannon was pretty impressive.  A fun time with great ladies.  After the Reindeer Ranch we headed home again, hung with the pups for a little bit, and then went over to the kid’s place for dinner.  We played with the grandson, ate some food, and watched the beginning of World Series game four with the kids before heading home where we loved on the pups and finished watching the game.

Whew.

A lot of stuff…. a busy weekend.  Fun.  Illinois is growing on us.  We love the adventure of discovering things in a new place.  We are loving… and let me say… L-O-V-I-N-G… the fall weather here.  Beautiful blue skies, gorgeous fall colors, and warmish (enough to be in t-shirts yesterday).  We are loving being close to the kids and getting to see Sebastian all the time, go to his little classes, hang out and play.  And we are finding some friends, getting to know some people, starting to make a life here.  We still miss everyone in Oregon tremendously, but we are starting to really settle in, and excited about all the new things we’ve yet to discover and do.  Everything is an adventure when you live in a new place.  It’s kinda cool….

A Few photos from the ol’ iPhone

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Color Fast

We went for  little walk today.  We needed to get the pups out and about, moving their little feet, so we took them over to Mahomet.  It’s a little burg 10 minutesWest of  here with a couple of great places to walk.  One, the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens and the Lake of the Woods, and the other, still part of the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, but called Buffalo Trace Prairie.  We’d been to the Lake of the Woods and the Botanical Gardens so we tried the Buffalo Trace Prairie walk.  Lovely.  We had a fantastic walk, other than the fact that Weston seemed to not like the heat.  It was 30 degrees warmer today than it was two days ago.  Beautiful sunshine and we were back to wearing t-shirts.  Gotta love the rapidly changing weather of Central Illinois.

Tomorrow we head to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in nearby Rantoul with some new friends. Time to try our luck with the corn maze and maybe, if they have it (?), drink some cider.  I’m sure there will be photos galore, but for now these are some I took today during the walk.  Cheers.

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Patina Me

Karen, the pups, and I took a walk a couple of days ago at our favorite local park, Meadowbrook.  As we walked the path, looked at the natural prairie that’s been restored, and enjoyed the many sculptures and natural beauty along the way we had an epiphany…. this is big stuff people, so listen up.

We feel that as we age we should patina instead of wrinkle.  How cool would this be?  Instead of drying out and wrinkling up we would all slowly turn a lovely shade of green.  Women would get upset because men would probably turn green more quickly.  And since green would be the new “wrinkle free” this would be fodder for many a joke on the late night talk show circuit.  There would be creams developed to give that certain special shine to your patina.  But since we would patina and not wrinkle, we’d all look like we did when we were 21.  Granted, sadly this would do nothing for the whole sagging thing, but hey… we can only solve one serious world issue per walk.

That’s it… our big ah ha moment.  These are the conversations we have…

Enjoy some photos taken with our little Canon SD750 during the walk.  Notice the woman… this is the sculpture that inspired the whole revelation.

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Hunting For The Amish, And Other Tall Tales

Last weekend Karen and I had ourselves a little adventure.  It started with a drive and a visit to Arcola, Illinois.  A little burg that’s South of Urbana on Hwy 57.  They have an annual festival called the Arcola Corn Broom Festival where you can get loads of things from booths, vendor food of all sorts, and yes… corn brooms.  We heard of this festival, I don’t know where, and had to check it out.  C’mon… a festival dedicated to corn brooms…. who could resist?

Off we went in search of a corn broom and low and behold… we found one.  A lovely one.  A very nice one.  A red and green one.  It’s cool.  We love it.  But that wasn’t all…

We wanted to check out the hippie memorial as well, but because of the festival there was a band playing near the memorial preventing us from getting close enough to take photos.  Bummer.  We will have to go back.  So instead of the hippie memorial we went to plan B… we decided to go check out a place we’d seen that sells adirondack chairs in different colors.  Very cool chairs.  We want to get some, especially since we found out they are made of composite.  Really great.

After the chairs, or really on the way to the chairs, we  noticed that there were a lot of Amish around.  Karen’s phrase of the day was… wow, it’s really Amishy around here.  We laughed so hard after she said that.  Arcola is in Illinois Amish country.  It was Sunday and after church.  We decided we needed a photo of the Amish.  Karen tried a few times and missed.  She’s a great photographer, but she needs time.  She’s not a snap on the fly kind of girl, so it was a struggle.  We laughed and laughed because she kept sticking the camera out the window and either not taking it in time or getting the wheel only or not taking it at all because we’d passed them.  We laughed so hard we cried.  We wondered aloud if the Amish might be offended by our attempts at photographing them.  Here we were, a blue Volvo speeding by with a camera sticking out the window.  We figured they probably were used to it and besides which, they make a lot of their money from the tourist trade in one way or another.  I hope they weren’t offended.

Finally our attempts were successful.  Or successful enough.  We got some shots.  Gotta love perseverance and a point and shoot Canon SD750.

After hunting the Amish, which sounds much worse writing it like that than is meant, we took some backroads part of the way home.  Driving out in the middle of corn fields in Illinois is sort of an isolating feeling.  Made more so by the fact that more than half the time you get no cell reception what so ever.  Here’s hoping to never get stuck out in the middle of nowhere.  We’d have to walk to a farm and ask to use the phone, like in the olden days when there were no cell phones.  It’s rural… and literally in the middle of nowhere.  But, it’s beautiful.  Really.  Quite stunning in places.

On another note, since this is my blog and I can change paddles in the middle of the stream, or whatever that saying is…  we got our new living room furniture today.  Yippee!  I’ve included a photo just because.  We still have to hang the rest of our art and such and do some painting, but it’s looking like home.  It’s nice…

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17 Days in Urbana… and Counting

Life in the Midwest is pretty much everything we expected it to be… yet… more.  And less.  So philosphical.

Karen and I were making a list the other day of some of those differences and I thought, given the fact that I’m sitting here in the office while Karen works and it’s getting hot hot hot out there, that I would do something in our air conditioned house.  Namely blog about some of the differences we’ve found so far after living in Urbana for 17 days.

It’s hot here… and that hot is a different kind of hot.  Hot as in the butter is always soft if you leave it on the counter.  Really soft… melting soft.  Even inside with the air conditioning on.  Not only that… ice cubes melt incredibly fast.  They are there… then poof, gone.  Your glass has sweated all over the table, coaster, napkin, whatever.  Inside mind you, inside with the air conditioning blasting.  Not outside, where ice wouldn’t stand a chance at all.

Sunsets are beautiful here… and the weather creates part of that, but so does the endless skyline.  No mountains to block them out so they last a long long time.  It’s flat.  Really flat.  So the sunsets last and last… lingering over the corn fields and prairie grasses for a very long time.  Gorgeous.

It’s never quiet… during the day there’s the regular noise… cars driving by, people walking by, dogs barking (ours and others), horns honking, garbage trucks, people mowing their lawns.  A cacophony of sound for a couple of girls who used to live out in the country… we’re getting used to it and actually like a certain measure of it.  It’s the symphony of moving life all around us.  The thing that’s shocking is the night noise… the sound of the cicadas.  So loud.  So very loud.  It’s such an interesting thing since we didn’t have them in the Pacific Northwest.  We had the occasional owl sound and sometimes coyotes, but that was only once in a while.  This wall of sound from the cicadas is amazing.  Not annoying to us, just shocking.

Humidity.  We were not prepared.  We thought we were mentally prepared, knew it would be the hardest part of the transition, but we were not prepared.  Neither of us like that kind of heat.  Hot, damp, heavy air.  Not fans.  And it’s not even because our bouffants don’t stay up or that when we tease it suddenly goes limp… and yes, I’m kidding, about the bouffants and the teasing I mean.  It’s an amazing thing, this humidity.  We are learning, slowly, all about dew points and heat indexes and why 60% humidity in Oregon is nothing like 60% humidity here.  It’s a learning curve, and air conditioning is our friend.  That and fans… loads and loads of new fans.

There’s something to be said for a small kitchen.  Our kitchen in this house is small.  Smaller than the kitchen we had in Scappoose.  Not much counter space, and hardly any cupboard space at all.  It’s cool… with it’s granite counter tops, great gas stove and oven, it’s under mount sink.  But it’s small… really small.  But… we like it.  Who knew?  We put up a big metro shelf for storage of food.  It’s all out and open to the room, but we love that about it.  We also got a metro cart that we put spices and baking stuff on and added a cool dark bamboo cutting board to the top of it so we could move it around and use it for chopping and such when we needed more room.  It works great.  When we put our bowls and large collection of coffee cups away from the dishwasher we don’t have to move at all.  Everything is right there. Easy, close, convenient, and very organized.  It has to be.  It is.  We like it.  Simple.  Of course, having a small kitchen is helped by the fact that we can store anything that doesn’t fit, the stuff we don’t use very often, down in our second kitchen.  It’s small too, but it holds the overflow nicely.  We got lucky there.

I had here, next, that we couldn’t find raw dog food… and it was a challenge.  We tried several places with no luck.  We thought, wow… there are a lot of dogs here, we see them all the time.  People love their dogs here, like in Portland, so what gives.  No raw?  Finally we looked up the company that makes it and used their locate our products in your area tab… one place.  In Savoy.  It’s only 4 miles from our house, and it’s a very cool feed/country store.  They have everything a pet owner or horse and cattle man might want.  Plus, they were nice.  So… we couldn’t find it, but now we did, and we love the store.  There you go.  Out in Savoy we also discovered a huge movie theater, a new Shnuck’s grocery store, a Buffalo Wild Wings (Karen was a happy happy woman knowing she could get Asian Zing so close to our house), and a small myriad of other little places.  Savoy is the nearby hamlet that seems to just keep on giving.

Living in a University town again is really cool.  I’ve always loved Universities… the vibe, the life, the people (students and staff alike) rushing to go somewhere important.  This town, these towns, with this huge University at the center of them, is the same.  There will be art, and music, and sporting events galore.  There will be philosophical discussions to over hear in coffee shops and restaurants, there will be slightly drunk young men to talk to outside of the Black Dog Smoke and Ale House when we go to get take out.  Awesome!

Lots of bugs and five times times the size.  There are a lot of bugs here.  And they are big.  Nothing to really expound on except that I saw a thing (and then Mary saw it) at Mary and Martin’s house… it looked like a small bird, only it was a bee or hornet or some such thing that was too awfully big to be anything other than awful.  I’m sure it chased me into their house one day.  I’m sure of it.  I narrowly escaped.  It was frightening.  Mary saw it a few days later going into a hole in the ground in their back yard.  Karen filled the hole with a crap load of sand.  Hopefully that thing won’t be making another fly by appearance.  Creepy.

There are super friendly people here.  Really friendly.  We have had most all of our close neighbors come over to say hello to us.  Two even brought baked goods. We haven’t returned the plate to one of them, so they might not be feeling as friendly toward us right now, but they will again when we bring it back with oatmeal cookies on it.  That’s our plan… bribe them back with our own baked goods.  But it’s not just our neighbors… everyone everywhere we go has been friendly.  Nice nice nice.  They say hello when you pass them, look you in the eye, mean it.  Nice.  Friendly.  Sure, there’s that anonymous neighbor who has called the cops on us twice for barking dogs (admittedly once before we got here and the kids were living here with their dogs… and then one time later when their dogs were over here… though I’m sure it was all four of them barking).  We don’t know who they are, since they wish to remain anonymous, and the police, who came to the door both times, said the second time that really they just wanted to make sure the dogs were OK and not being left outside in the heat.  Once they knew we had a doggie door they were like, no worries…

Nights are (forever without you…. laaaaa…  that song just popped into my head… I digress) warmer for being out and about.  One fantastic thing about living here is the night time weather.  It’s so nice being in shorts and flip flops out and about at 9 or 10 or 11 and it’s warm.  A nice little breeze, but still 75 or 80.  We both love love love that.  It’s summer… and flip flops and shorts, no sweatshirt… awesome!  In fact, the other night when we were at the Sweetcorn Festival waiting for Survivor to start we were both a tad shocked when we said we were just a little chilly.  Not bad, but just a little.  The sweat that happens here, followed by a cool breeze in the evening, even when it’s still 80, cools a person down.  We are acclimating.  And everything is relative.  Any way you look at this one, we love being out and about in the evenings without having to don a sweatshirt… or even take one with us.

It’s really fun to discover a new place.  Every day we find a new restaurant to try, or a new store we want to go to, or a new park to walk the dogs in.  And that’s just in these two towns.  There are neighboring towns and townships, neighboring states and parks, all waiting for us to discover them.  It’s an exciting thing… even just walking the aisles of the local grocery stores.  We’re learning, discovering, experiencing the adventure of it all.  That’s a great fantastic thing.

We’ve worn more wicking t-shirts than ever before, in our lives… they work great.  And they dry fast.  Enough said… this one goes along with the humidity factoid.

Being so close to everything is nice for walking and just going to the store.  Not having lived in town for a very long time, for me, and for a very very long time, for Karen, it’s really nice to get anywhere we want to go in minutes.  I had to drive across the cities on Monday and I got over there in 10/15 minutes.  Easy.  And closer to home we can walk to restaurants, the library, the recent Sweetcorn Festival, and parks.  It’s lovely.  As soon as Karen gets that walking boot off we will also be bike riding.  We’re both looking forward to that.  It’s one of the things we wanted in coming here and our house is definitely in a great spot for that.  Very different from our life in Scappoose where we had to drive to go anywhere.

8.75 sales tax is shocking.  There’s only a 1% on food in the grocery store, but it’s a surprise to us, every time, when we go to pay for something.  No more knowing exactly what you’re spending when you walk up to the counter.  The taxes here are high… and that’s no lie.

Pumping your own gas is cool (karen is not a fan).  For a girl from Oregon I’m used to other people pumping my gas.  I love that I can just whip in to a station, hop out, pump the gas, and go.  Karen isn’t as big a fan as I am.  She likes someone to do it.  To not have to get out of the car.  I may feel the same way when the temperatures turn cold here, but for now I love it.

Having a fenced backyard for the pups is awesome.  In Scappoose we didn’t have a fence.  We did that on purpose as we didn’t want to mess with the aesthetic of the place, but it caused me stress when the pups were outside.  I would worry, too much I’m sure, about where they were, what they were doing, where they were going.  I could never really relax outside if they were out with us, which they usually were.  I was always worried someone would drive up and not see them or they would chase something down the driveway to the road.  Always worried.  Here… no worries.  There’s a completely fenced back yard that’s really decent size.  They are loving it more and more and I love that they have it, and that I don’t have to stress about them.  Ahhhhhh….

The new medical facilities are very nice.  The transition with my medical stuff has gone really well, and the new facilities here are really nice.  It’s sweet.  We will see how it is when Karen goes to get her ankle looked at in a couple of weeks and I go to have a new patient consult with a GP in a couple of weeks.  But so far… it’s good.

Pacific northwest people don’t know anything about thunderstorms… and that included us.  So… yes, I did learn about thunderstorms, as did Kev, when we drove Mary’s car out here in June.  Tornado warnings, black upon black clouds, etc.  Scary stuff then.  But even the regular thunderstorms here… boat loads of rain in a really short amount of time, LOUD thunder and lightening that hits the ground.  It’s fun and fantastic to watch, and also a tad scary at the same time.  I think I like them… and am scared by them…. it’s going to be a love hate relationship.

Shopping is an adventure… none of our known stores are here… besides things like Walgreens I mean.  We have Meijer, and Shnucks, and County Market.  We have the Co-op  and Strawberry Fields for more natural and organics though Meijer actually has some decent organic selections.  It’s learning a whole new system of grocery buying for us.  It’s fun actually.  As is learning about new restaurants and deciding where we should go for my upcoming birthday weekend (we decided on Southern Illinois and the Shawnee National Forest).  It’s all an adventure… finding new places to take the pups for walks, learning about where to see music,

Lastly, for now anyway… Illinois sweet corn is good.  Very tasty.  We are fans.  Karen is in corn heaven!

It’s continuing to be different, new, strange, good, scary, happy, sweet, sad from missing everyone, great, adventurous, and beautiful to get to spend time with Sebastian, Mary, and Martin.  It’s what we feared, but more than we hoped for.  It’s life… and we are living it!

Massages, Food, Movies, and More… Anniversary Weekend 2011

It was a lovely lovely weekend, this year’s anniversary weekend was.  Sounds a little Dr. Seuss there, but what can I say… it was.  We started the fun on Friday with our usual Fun Friday adventure.  This particular Friday we decided on miniature golf and burgers at Steakburger and Golf-O-Rama in Vancouver.  I’d never been there, Karen had.  She used to take the kids there when they were younger.  We had a great time.  Great burgers and a shared chocolate shake followed by 18 holes of mini golf.  She beat me by one point.  One.  We sort of sucked, but we didn’t care.  It was fun and the weather ended up being perfect for it.  We finished in time to meet some of our friends for the regular Friday at 5:30 get together at Crush.  Always good to see the POD.  A great ending to another fun Friday.

Saturday, our actual anniversary, my honey told me we had to leave by 9:30, she put an address in the GPS, and told me to listen to the commands and go where it said to go.  Two and a half hours of listening to music, talking, singing, and laughing later, we pulled up at the Rejuvenation Spa in Lincoln City where she’d scheduled a couples massage.  I’d been saying I wanted to get a massage for a long time.  Neither of us had ever had one before… rookies, that’s what we were, and it was actually pretty great. We have no clue if they were really good as we’d never had one before, but we felt relaxed afterward, and I definitely felt less tense.  It was nice and we are now saying we need to try it again.  After all, we have to have something to compare it to.  Naturally.  We were pretty hilarious in the little room after our masseuses gave us a few minutes to disrobe and get ready.  We were laughing a little and saying to each other… are you going to take it all off, I don’t know, are you, yes, I think I am, so am I, OK, let’s go… then it was a quick scoot onto our respective tables and a cover up with our respective sheets.  We always seem to have fun, no matter what we are doing.

After the massage we went over to nearby Mo’s for a little seafood lunch.  We split it, our new thing, and it was good.  They were busy, as usual, but we managed to get in pretty quickly and also ended up with a table by the window.  Gorgeous.  The weather was so great over there on Saturday.  Partly cloudy, warmish, not a lot of wind.  It was so beautiful out we went out onto the beach at Siletz Bay and ended up walking for two hours after lunch.  There were sea lions, gulls, loads of people out, and most importantly, us just spending time together.

We stopped at Safeway on our way out of Lincoln City, headed home, for some water and chocolate.  Of course.  We drove the same way back as we’d really enjoyed the drive, with one added stop.  We pulled off at the Chinook Winds Casino and did a tad bit of gambling.  For us the operative words there are tad bit.  We walked in saying $20 each and walked out about a half an hour later ahead five dollareenies, not each, total.  Not a huge gain, but when we got ahead we were like, Ok, that’s it, let’s quit.  We were feeling quite satisfied with ourselves.

Nearly home we stopped at Dairy Queen, picked up a couple of Blizzards, came on home and settled in with Despicable Me on the DVD player and Blizzards in hand.  A nice quiet end to a long and wonderful day.

Sunday we met a friend at Starbucks near the Fox Tower 10 and then walked over to the theater to meet the rest of our party for a group viewing of Hanna.  The consensus about the film… interesting.  Karen and I decided later, as we talked about it more, that it failed because it didn’t have enough heart.  While some of the filming was cool, and the concept was good, we didn’t really care enough about her or her predicament because we didn’t know enough about her.  Cate Blanchett was, as always, great.  Whenever she’s onscreen you pay attention to her.  She’s good.  The girl’s (Saoirse Ronan) acting was good too, but there just simply wasn’t enough back story to like her or care.  No heart.  We followed the film with a late lunch at Shigezo.  It was OK.  Not really spectacular, though the California rolls were really good.  Apparently the sushi there is very good, we just don’t really like sushi… except I like California rolls.  We had a katsu chicken curry we shared and it was alright.  The chicken on it was tasty, but the sauce was more like gravy or some such thing.  Not great enough to repeat. Then it was home and cleaning up and cooking for the return of the kid’s after their trip to Sunriver.  They had a great time over their weekend as well, so nice for Mary to get to see her long time friends.  They hadn’t all seen each other since the wedding.

I’d say this weekend was up there as far as anniversaries go.  This was our eighth.  Karen of course is now saying we’ve been together for almost nine years.  She does this, always the day after our actual anniversary.  I love that about her.

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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.

One of My Favorite Local Portland Bands

I was just perusing some stuff and came across this great review of Sneakin’ Out, a local Portland band that happens to be one of my favorite local bands… I would probably put Pink Martini first and these guys second.  This clip is great because you get to hear some of their music, which is awesome.  These guys, three of them in all, play amazing music.  There’s Cheddar on base… this guy knows how to have fun, dancing around, making some great faces, always with a sense of humor, always making you chuckle.  Then there’s Dave on mandolin.  This guys fingers are so fast you need stop action to see them.  He does some really big things with a relatively small instrument.  Last… Don on percussion.  Oh, Don…  xylophone, bongos, maracas, so many other things… and… a typewriter.  Yes, there’s a first… a typewriter.  He has impeccable timing, great for a percussionist yes, and also a wonderful sense of humor.  These guys don’t only play, they entertain.  There’s a truly groovy thing that happens… a sense of whimsy… I don’t know what else to call it…. when they start into one of their covers.  Paint it Black to Beethoven… spectacular.  There is one thing you always know for sure when you go out to hear these guys play… Sneakin’ Out will give you a great time.  You will smile, you will laugh, you will be amazed at their naturally hypnotic musical talent, and you will want to know when their next show is going to be so you can get there early to get a good seat.

Check out this review… and get  a little sampling of the joy.

NPR Review of Sneakin Out

 

 

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!

Another Episode of Friday Adventures

Here we are folks, another edition of the Kam (our celebrity combo name given to us by our good friend Sandy) Friday adventures.

Today finds our adventurers enjoying a tasty lunch of soup, lettuce wraps, and spare ribs at PF Changs. Yum. If you haven’t been to PF Changs or had their lettuce wraps you are missing out. SO good. We went outside the box today, in keeping with doing something new, by ordering soup. Karen had hot and sour and I had the traditional egg drop. Best egg drop I’ve ever had. Really deep flavor.

Next is a walk over to Sur La Table for a few kitchen items and then who knows what. We are downtown, it’s beautiful out, and we don’t have to be anywhere until 6:45 tonight. We can get into some good mischief between now and then.

And Again I Say… Where Is Sandy?

Where Is Sandy?, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

 

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.

Two Weeks In England

Since I’ve been super remiss about posting here on the blog about our adventures in England, I thought I’d do a bit o’ recap of the highlights from the last couple of weeks….

Arrived, fussed over the little boy, dealt with the whole shot thing by ending up going to Manchester by train to meet with Dr. Yin and get the first shot (Karen and I then made our way from the clinic by taxi back to the train station in Stockport and then by train from Stockport to Manchester where we did some shopping and finally from Manchester back to Lancaster), many trips walking into town for shopping, have had an occasional pasty, a nice visit with Ashley who came in on the train from Edinburgh, more playing with and fussing over the boy, a drive to the Trafford Center mall near Manchester for more Christmas shopping, more walks into town (we do it at least once daily), more fussing over the boy, wrapped purchased Christmas presents, petting Wicket and Ziggy, and still more fussing over the boy.  He’s the cutest every, I’m just saying…

That’s pretty much been it.  I’ve taken some photos, though not tons.  Mostly of the boy.  We are gearing up for a lot of picture taking on Christmas eve and Christmas day.  Watch for those.

We’ve been here two weeks tomorrow.  The time has flown by really.  There’s tons of darkness here.  It doesn’t get really light out, like fully light, until about 10:00 in the morning and conversely it starts getting dark about 3:30 or even a tad sooner.  The sunrises and sunsets seem to take a long long time.  I think we only get about 6 hours of good daylight every day.  Strange.  At least we’ve had a lot of blue sky so far when it is light.  We like that.  We were expecting way more gray skies and rain.  Lucky.

Life From The Backseat

I’m in the backseat of Kev’s car heading back up north to Portland and then home. We just had brunch with Mom and Don at Word of Mouth in Salem (Karen and I split creme brûlée french toast and homemade hash. Yummy!)

It’s glorious out. One of those fantastic late fall days where the air is crisp, the sky blue, and the mountains in the distance so clear. Absolutely gorgeous.

I’ve spent the day with people I love who love me. There is nothing better.

 

Out Running Some Errands

Out and about with my honey running errands. Nice to be with her and be out. I’m a tad tired today, thinking the transfusion blood has worn off a bit. Tomorrow’s blood test will tell the tale.

For now… It’s sunny, I’m with Karen, and we are driving around. It’s good.

Mom and Don’s

Here I am blogging from Mom’s place. She and I made the drive down earlier today, stopping at Starbucks on the way. Tea latte and a donut. Yum. We got down here and wandered around outside a little and then sat outside for awhile. Mom then went and picked some fresh tomatoes and we had toasted tomato and cheese sandwiches. Mom had vegan cheese…. I had cheddar. :-). It was wonderful! So great to be able to have something fresh. So nice.

Mom and Don’s place is lovely. So pretty. They are quite the gardeners, which many of you already know.

I am so lucky to have Mom. I can’t even express how much she means to me, how much having her at our house to help me out while Karen is gone has been more than wonderful. I can’t say how lucky I have been to have her and Kev with me, loving me, putting up with me, and both taking such great care of me. I’m lucky Don understands and has been willing to be separated from Mom during this time.

Lucky… That’s what I’m feeling right now, laying here on Mom and Don’s couch, after eating a fresh from their garden tomato, and taking the ride down here. Lucky and loved.

Astoria and Back

Sunday and a trip to the beach.  My honey decided that getting out of the house would be good for this girl, rightly so, and we headed to Astoria this morning.  She packed a picnic lunch, loaded up the pups, and off we all went down Hwy 30.  It was a great day for a drive.  It felt so good to be out of the house.  I’m just now starting to feel a bit better (not as tired and such) after my five day second consolidation in the hospital stay.  Was that a real sentence?  LOL

We got home late afternoon, early evening, and rented a free paper view movie (we got a couple free from DISH so we took advantage).  Now it’s just hanging at home on a Sunday night.  Dinner of leftover chicken with BBQ sauce, fake mashed potatoes with cottage cheese (I can’t have the real thing when I’m neutropenic… and we are starting to act as if I am), and some canned green beans.  I think Karen is skipping the cottage cheese (she doesn’t understand this particular delicacy that my mom has passed down to me… cottage cheese on potatoes… so tasty) and is going for some red beans with her chicken.  She always makes my dinner first if we are having a sort of left over night.  That way we both get what we want.

It’s been a nice weekend.  Too fast.  Much too fast… but a nice weekend.   I love hanging out with my honey.