Last Lesson

My last lesson with Wendy this past Thursday was both great and terrifying.  I rode Tigger, and everything was going pretty well, but as we started a new jumping course, Wendy suggested I give Tigger a tap with the crop to wake him up a little and take the jumps with more energy.  My tap was, ahem, a bit much, more like a swat, and uh, he bolted.  Like, he startled, made a sharp right turn (at which point my right foot came out of the stirrup), and took off like a shot.  I got him steered to the railing by I don’t know what stroke of luck (because he was headed for a jump at first), and I just did my best to hang on.  My right hand was buried in his mane, I was leaning back to try to be heavier in the saddle (indicating that I wanted to slow down), and my left hand was doing the tug-and-release thing in time to my stern “HO”s, which were having zero effect.  I know Wendy was yelling suggestions at me, but I have no idea what they were – I couldn’t hear her clearly over the wind whistling past my ears as we galloped headlong around the arena, once, twice, three times.  Sometime during the second circuit, I think, I remembered Wendy’s story about a bolting horse and how sometimes it’s better just to go with it, but I only had one foot in a stirrup and with each turn at the short ends I could feel myself tipping more and more to the left.  I didn’t have it in me to just go with it but damn it, I was NOT going to fall off this horse!  Finally Tigger started to slow down about halfway through the fourth go-round, coming to a trot at the short end, and we stopped in front of Wendy.  Wendy thinks it’s because I started talking to him nicely (a suggestion she made during the third circuit that I didn’t hear).  If I did that, I don’t remember it.  I think he just got tired.  It was hot that day.  I got down, legs shaking, and we talked for a few minutes while Tigger and I both recovered.  Under the assumption that he didn’t have anything left in the tank and the sure knowledge that I was most certainly NOT going to swat him again, I got back on and we jumped a couple courses before the lesson ended.  THEN Wendy told me she’s noticed over the years that something bad always happens at last lessons.  She says it’s usually a fall, but a bolting horse certainly counts.  She thinks she’s cursed.  I’m just glad she didn’t tell me that up front.  She also said she’s proud of me for how I handled it, which is nice to hear since it was freakin’ TERRIFYING while it was going on.  Now I think I could handle it better – I’d like to have time to enjoy going that fast.

Her take on it: I have the unique distinction of flying around the arena on a plane one day and flying around the arena on a horse the next.

Our last Saturday in Eugene

We’re less than a week from leaving town, and now every day is our last day of the week here.  Last night was our last Friday.  We finally went to this restaurant two blocks away.  It was really good, but I don’t feel like we’ve been missing out because it’s a tad on the pricey side.  Today we picked up more boxes (repossessing boxes we lent to Will and Christina for their move last summer – this will be move #3 for these boxes!) and a few other packing supplies and took care of the closets and the bathrooms.  John will finish up his office tonight while I’m out with Wendy and other horse people.  All that’s left is half the kitchen and the rest of our clothes.  Mostly.  And the TV and the receiver and the speakers.  And there are odds and ends, of course, and we’re still working out what’ll go in the car with us.  There’s plenty left to do.

Anyway, packing is packing, and it’s boring to everyone, including me.  It’s our last Saturday in Eugene.  Goodbye, Saturdays in Eugene.

Offended?

There’s this book store in Corvallis called The Book Bin.  It’s pretty cool (not as cool as Browsers’ Bookstore right around the corner), but they do one thing that rubs me the wrong way.  After I browsed through the science fiction section, I walked by the mystery section and saw a big sign for General Fiction.  Oh, good, there are a couple of non-genre books I’ve been looking for.  Browsing, browsing…that’s odd.  Fern Michaels, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel – this is the romance section, not general fiction.  Why wouldn’t they just label it romance?  Are they hiding the fact that they have a romance section?  I think I’m offended by that.  Why hide romance?  So then I went looking for the actual general fiction section and oh, no.  No, they’ve named it Literature.  That’s right – we have to disguise the romance section because heaven forbid anyone thinks this bookstore carries those kind of books, and to differentiate real books, we’re going to call them LIT-er-a-ture.  Snobs.

Even the five-foot-tall TARDIS they created out of books can’t win me over now.

Smoky

There have been forest fires just southeast of Eugene the last few days, enough to make the whole sky hazy.  John took me flying this morning, and we had to keep a close eye on where the visibility got bad so we could stay away.  We didn’t see any actual fires, but the smoke was everywhere.  These pictures were taken around 11am today, a day without clouds.

That third one is Spencer Butte.  Contrast that picture with this one, taken from the top of Spencer Butte on a day without forest fires.  Same camera, facing approximately back to where the plane would have been this morning.

I’m not going to be sad to move out of forest fire country.

Flying is cool, though.

I’d like to think it wasn’t on purpose

I had my next to last lesson with Wendy today, and it was awful.  Okay, maybe not awful, but it wasn’t good.  I rode Olive, and I was anxious and unsettled and so was she (probably my fault) and it felt weird and uncomfortable and like I couldn’t do anything right.  Objectively, I improved as the lesson went on.  Objectively, a lesson like that is a good thing because it forces me to focus on things I don’t have to think about when everything is going well.  Subjectively, it’s NOT FUN.  It occurred to me that maybe it’s subconscious self-sabotage, like how Mom has said she used to pick fights with Dad before he left on deployment in an effort (again, subconscious) to make saying goodbye easier.  If that’s what it was, it SUCKS and I don’t want to do it again.  I have one more lesson, I’ll probably ride Tigger, and I would like to enjoy it, please, brain.

Of course, right after I got her saddle off her, Olive peed all over the barn, so maybe she was uncomfortable, too.  Still, even it wasn’t just me, it was certainly a lot me, and I need to not do that.

Insert your own eclipse pun here

Okay, guys, the eclipse was pretty cool.  At totality (we weren’t in the direct path, but we were near enough as to make very little difference), it got a LOT darker and a LOT cooler, and it was SO WEIRD.

John used the binoculars and a cereal box to make a projector, and we watched the moon eat the sun and then vomit it back up, all on cardboard.

The eclipse: a photo essay

Today is going to be a weird one

I slept with my contacts in last night.  I feel like that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the day.  I dreamed I had to make pancakes at school, and I was going to be graded both on how good they were AND what terms I was able to get for the mortgage I got for them.  I was worried because I was the last in the class during the taste test and my pancakes were going to be cold.  I was not worried about the mortgage.  While I was waiting for my turn, I found out that the entire school was out of coffee and I had to drink ice water, which I promptly spilled on my slippers – because I was wearing slippers at school – so I had to go barefoot.

To recap: I slept with my contacts in and then had a weird restless night with weird restless dreams.  Oh, and we’re basically in the path of totality for today’s eclipse.  If you don’t hear from me again, it’s because our alien overlords took me away under cover of darkness, decided I was too stupid to keep (since I can’t remember to take my contacts out at night), and left me to wander in the wilderness.

Too sweet? Too dry? I can’t tell.

When we visited Seattle in May, we stopped in this sort-of-ice-cream-parlor for dessert one night because John had an ice cream craving.  He got a sundae, probably with peanut butter in it, and I got prosecco in one of those old-fashioned wide-mouth champagne glasses with a scoop of blueberry sorbet in it.  It was delicious.

Since it’s the perfect summer treat, I tried it at home tonight.  Burgers for dinner, sorbet and prosecco for dessert.

It didn’t turn out so well.  I mean, it was okay…sort of.  The sorbet (I got raspberry) was good with the prosecco, but the prosecco was not good with the sorbet.  I’m not sure what went wrong, and I’m not sure I want to find out enough to try it again.

It was a nice idea, though.

A scare

We had a bit of a scare the Thursday afternoon we left for Portland and then Rhode Island. A few weeks before that, John emailed his HR department to find out if RI is one of the states his company has set up payroll taxes for.  I didn’t bother emailing mine because I’ve had several conversations with them about moving around, and they had indicated that even if they’re not set up in a particular state, it’s not a big deal to get it done.

So right at the end of the workday that Thursday, John got an email from his boss saying that HR won’t support our move to RI – it’ll cost too much for them to set it up.  John swooped into my office to give me the good news (really – he slid in in his socks).  If his company says he can’t move where we want to go, then screw the company – he’ll quit.  (He’s so excited – he’s been itching for an excuse.)  I had been waiting to email HR until we knew exactly where we were going to live because I didn’t think it would be helpful to them to know we were thinking about three or four states – they don’t care until we pick one – but I figured that with John’s news, I should check.

I emailed Jenny, my HR person, and told her that we’re probably moving to RI at the end of August, but we’ll know for sure by the end of next week.  Her response only said that RI isn’t on the list of states they allow, so I emailed back “If a state isn’t on the list, does that mean I can’t move there?” and tried to keep the freak-out to a minimum.  By the time I sent that email, it was after working hours, so we got in the car (Portland and airport-bound) and started discussing worst case scenarios.  I mean, there’s really only one worst case scenario, but what would we do if it happened, if both of our companies said we couldn’t live in RI?

And what does it say about us that our reaction is to quit, since we don’t think they should have any say over where we live?

We spent the car ride making plans.  Let’s say my HR says they can’t/won’t set up payroll in RI.  First step: appeal to my boss.  Can he convince the company to set up payroll in RI if the alternative is I quit?  Am I that valuable?  Let’s say they still say no.  What states are already allowed?  None in New England, but New York is on the list.  Would we consider New York?  Is it worth a year in NY if it keeps my job and gives us both time to find others (so we can move to New England)?  Or do we both quit anyway and take our chances on moving and finding work quickly?  What about not moving at all?  Or what about not signing a lease yet and moving homeless at the end of the month anyway, but when we maybe know more about the situation?  We could crash with family if it came down to it.

We had everything mapped out and were starting to feel okay with our plans when we stopped for dinner and before we even ordered I had my answer back from Jenny.  To the question “If a state isn’t on the list, does that mean I can’t move there?”, she replied “No, that’s not what it means.  Tell me which state you pick.  We’ll work it out.”

Big sighs of relief plus a cucumber margarita, and we were able to sleep that night.  As well as possible, anyway, in the loud and kind of icky Ramada.

I don’t need that kind of stress.  I aged a year in those two hours.

Three rooms down

We have gone through the basement, the living room, and my office.  Nothing is packed yet (we’re still using most of it), but we have thrown away or gotten rid of everything in those three rooms that isn’t going to make the move.  We still have about two weeks before we have to empty the house, but I don’t see any point in waiting for the last minute.  Maybe I need a countdown.  Uh…countdown to the day the PODS container arrives: 13. Oh, we’re within two weeks.  Who was talking about waiting until the last minute?  I think we’re close enough.

Love at first sight

I have fallen in love with a pair of shoes.  They’re the ultimate Disney princess shoes, and my heart aches for them.

I saw them on Tom & Lorenzo’s site, and for the first time in my life I was compelled to go to the designer’s website to see more.  If it’s possible to fall further in love, I did when I saw them in midnight blue.

They’re calling out my name.  “Buy me, Zannah!  We’ll be so happy together!”  I don’t have anywhere to wear them or anything to wear them with, but those are tiny details.  Are they comfortable?  Who cares?  (Okay, I do, but let’s put that aside.)  Do they come in narrow?  Probably not.  Are they more than I pay in rent?  …..Yes.  Yes, they are more than I pay in rent.

Drat.

I love them, I do, but the don’t-buy-them factors are adding up and the practical side of me says I don’t get to be a princess in $2150 shoes that don’t go with anything I own, that probably aren’t comfortable, that probably won’t actually fit, and will sit in my closet unworn because I don’t have any occasions to wear them.

I will have to find some other kind of princess to be.  Like this one.

But oh, those shoes.

It is what it is

I sat in the backyard for a little bit this afternoon wearing long pants and a hoodie and shivering a little even though the sun was shining and it’s AUGUST because Oregon doesn’t understand how summer works.

Of course, we spent a few days last week in Rhode Island in sweaters and sweatshirts, so I guess summer is broken everywhere this year.  Or maybe it’s just broken wherever we are, since summer seemed to be handing out 100+ degree days everywhere we were NOT, and maybe I should just wear a hoodie and be grateful.

I sewed!

Washing my sweater/hoodie broke it apparently, since after it dried (gentle cycle, air dry) I noticed that one of the pockets was hanging half off.  Luckily for me, the thread was still attached at one end, so I unearthed my bag of sewing kits (I have four or five travel kits), figured out how to thread the needle, and FIXED IT.  You can’t even tell.  Then we went to see Dunkirk and I spent two hours crying.  I cried horrified tears, sad tears, tears of pride, a few more horrified tears, and then some happy tears.  Stupid emotional movie.

I also ate all the popcorn in existence, so I’m skipping dinner and going to bed early.  All that crying wore me out.

Where am I? Who are you? Who am I?

I’ve slept in my own wonderfully comfy bed two nights in a row now after twelve nights away, and two nights in a row I’ve woken up in the super-dark middle of the night with zero idea where I am.  BOTH NIGHTS home.  The disorientation passed quickly, but it’s a super-weird feeling to wake up in your own bed not sure where you are.  Maybe this trip was too long, or maybe the ocean is on the wrong side of me, or maybe this is a sign that it’s time to move, or maybe I just think it’s a sign that it’s time to move because – guess what – IT’S TIME TO MOVE.

It’s officially official.  We’re moving to Providence at the end of this month.  We have given our current landlord a move-out date, we have scheduled the move with the movers, we have signed a lease, and we have sent a rent check.  We are moving.  In three weeks.  The to-do lists have begun, and…that’s all that’s begun.  The purging and packing will start any minute now.

Deep breaths.

New skill

I’m toying with video editing for the first time in my life.  My first practice project was to edit clips out of half a dozen minute-long videos of a squirrel being super-weird in my backyard and string them all together into one two-minute video.  I think it was successful.  It needs a soundtrack, maybe, like Yakety Sax.  That’s a project for some other afternoon.

And because you so patiently watched that video for me, you get a bonus video of the squirrel eating a stick like it’s corn on the cob.

Hold your breath and hope for the best!

We are submitting our application for a really good apartment right….now.  Cross your fingers that no one got there first and there aren’t any hiccups in the process.

It’s a townhouse in a great part of town with a bookstore, three coffee shops, and a few restaurants within three blocks in one direction, and a park and the Seekonk River a few blocks in the other direction.  It’s an end unit, with parking in the back (no yard – that’s okay, we have a park), three levels plus a full basement (with laundry), 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and new appliances.  When we saw it yesterday, the management company was in there with three or four guys doing the painting and cleaning.  The bathrooms aren’t great, but our other main contender had even less ideal bathrooms, so this one still wins.  This one is 2 miles to the main branch of the library, 1 mile to Brown University, and downtown is less than 2 miles away.  Easy access, easy walking.

We’re super excited.  Now we just need to sign the lease.

Better than Monday

Things are looking up, but we’re still not crazy about not having a decision made yet.  As of right now, 9pm Wednesday night, we have two places we could be happy with (very different from each other: a fancy apartment downtown and a house in a small town), but we haven’t applied for either.  We’re seeing three more places tomorrow morning, then another mid-afternoon, and two more late afternoon.  We’ve got feelers out on a few more (maybe for Friday), but our hopes are high (probably too high) for tomorrow’s mid-afternoon showing.  Perfect neighborhood – here’s hoping the house is perfect, too.

Too early to tell

We’ve only had one full day of house/apartment hunting.  I have to keep reminding myself of that.  We didn’t find our next home yesterday (Monday), but that doesn’t mean we’re destined to be homeless.

It’s only been a day.

It’s only been a day.

It’s only been a day.

There.  That might work.  Partly, it’s frustration.  We’ve found a lot of places we’d like to look at, but we’re not getting a lot of responses so we can’t schedule times to actually see them and I feel like we’re spinning our wheels.  After one day.  Which I realize is ridiculous.  We sent out a bunch of messages around 10pm last night, and it’s not even 8am right now, so to be worried that we haven’t heard back when no one has gotten to work yet is not terribly reasonable.

I can be reasonable.  And we still have four full days to look, including today.

This is stressful.

On the other hand, already this visit has reaffirmed for us how much we’d like to live in Newport or Bristol or a couple of neighborhoods in Providence.  If we have to go further afield to find our very next place, at least we’re sure we want to make it work here at some point.

Deep breath.  Shower (I think I sweat more in hotel gyms – no breeze!) . Breakfast.  Search.

Ramada: you can freeze to death and eat soggy cake!*

*To be fair, the soggy cake was not Ramada’s fault.

Neither of us slept last night, not more than a couple of hours.  The bed was super uncomfortable, the kids didn’t leave the pool for at least an hour after we went to bed, some light (maybe from the A/C unit) was glowing too brightly, and I was fuh-REEZING.  I can’t sleep when I’m shivering, there weren’t any extra blankets, and we were too tired to figure out the A/C plus it was mounted really high on the wall.  We were both awake an hour before the alarm went off, awake enough that we just got up at 3:30 instead of waiting for it, and then our flight to Seattle was too short for napping (only 30 minutes in the air).  We are going to crash so hard tonight.

So with the uncomfortable bed, the mildewy smell in the room, and a couple of other things, I think I have validated my resistance to Ramada hotels over the years.  I mean, last night the price was right and obviously it was okay, but given a choice, I’ll choose something else.

The last time I can remember staying in a Ramada was for our first anniversary, 2001, in San Diego.  John and I had just driven across the country for the first time, moving from Newport, RI to San Diego to get to my first ship.  We didn’t have a place to live yet; the plan was to find an apartment within the first few days and stay in cheap hotels in the meantime.  When we got there, we spent a night or two in a Motel 6 (where one night I got up around 3am and got in the shower because I thought it was morning), and then decided to splurge on the Ramada for our anniversary night.

Mom had packed the top layer of our wedding cake in dry ice for the cross-country trip.  The dry ice lasted until we got to San Diego, and then we replaced it with regular ice for the last day or two.  We realized that might have been a bad idea when we started to unwrap it in the hotel room.  There was some dripping, and we moved to the bathroom sink.

First layer of aluminum foil: water from the ice. No big deal.  Next layer of foil: more water.  Next later of wax paper: water and a few crumbs.  That’s when we started to worry.  Next layer (foil or wax paper – can’t remember): more water, more crumbs.  When we finally got to the actual cake it was pretty water-logged.  The middle was still edible, but I can’t say it was good.  Still – we ate it.  I mean, not the whole thing, but enough to count.