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.

The beginning

Our trip has begun!  Sort of.  Tonight is Erev Trip, or maybe that was last night.  Our flight from Portland to Seattle is at 6am tomorrow, so we’re doing the park-sleep-fly thing in the airport Ramada tonight.  The airport Ramada is…not so great, but it’ll do for a night.  The biggest issue is that it’s 8pm and our shuttle leaves the hotel at 4:20am so we’re getting up before 4am and we need to go to bed but it’s still broad daylight outside and our room overlooks the pool and there are kids playing in it and tomorrow is going to SUCK.  But we’ll be on vacation!  It’ll be a bearable kind of suck.

They just made it harder for me to buy books. Idiots.

I’m a little bit annoyed with Amazon this week.  My to-read list is a private Amazon wish list.  Any time I hear of a book I might be interested in, I add it there.  I might not buy it from Amazon, I might get it from the library or a store or wherever, but I have one place I always add books.  The list USED to have a sort feature that would let me sort by price (high or low), sort by books with price drops, sort by date added, etc.  A couple of months ago, all those sort features disappeared from the browser version of Amazon.  The only sort feature left was by priority, and since I never prioritized anything, it was not useful to me.  Thankfully, the Amazon app still had the sort features I liked, so EVERY SINGLE DAY I sorted my list in the app by price (low to high), and probably four times a week, a book on my list would go on sale for $.99 or $1.99 (Kindle version), and I would snap it up.

Then this week, the app got updated and hey – the sort feature is gone.  The only thing left is by priority.  Here’s the thing: I have over 400 books on my list.  I am not going to scroll through the entire thing looking for the items that have gone on sale, and that means I’m not going to know about the sales, and I’m not going to buy the books.  (I’ll buy some of them eventually, but not at the rate I’ve been buying them.)  I have plenty to read already on my Kindle (or at the library), so Amazon just updated themselves out of $400 a year from me.

I chatted with a customer service rep, who assured me that some sort of sort feature will be back, but she couldn’t say what and she couldn’t say when, so I’m not holding my breath.  I’m just really annoyed.

Relax your face!

In late June, Charles (Wendy’s husband?  Partner?) took a ton of pictures of me riding Olive so I could see how I look, see what I’m actually doing, look at what’s right and what’s wrong.  It was pretty cool, but the first thing I noticed, and practically the only thing I can see, is that I’m making the same odd super-serious face in EVERY SINGLE ONE of the 146 pictures Charles took.

So now, for the past month, I’ve added “relax your face” to the 15 things I’m trying to remember to do right while I ride.  It’s the least important thing, of course, so I tend to forget about it, but still.  The yoga instructor I liked reminded us often that our faces were not helping us balance – there’s no need to scowl.  I try to apply it to riding.

The other thing I’m getting out of these pictures is that I’m rising a little too high out of the saddle over jumps.  I think.  I would like to jump more to practice getting it right.  Of course, it’s hard to focus on that when I’m actually flying through the air.  Hence the need for practice.

I prefer options

Here’s a downside to smaller towns: the shopping sucks.  I decided to buy a new dress for Corey’s wedding because I don’t have anything between somewhat formal and t-shirt dress, and I don’t want to wear either of those things on a beach.  I didn’t want to order anything online because EVERYthing fits differently and while trying on all the clothes at the mall sucks, it sucks less than ordering a bunch of things, trying them on, and then returning them.  I hate returning stuff I bought I online.  Anything that involves shipping packages is a pain.

Eugene has a mall, so I went there after work today.  The mall is pretty lame – I miss Tyson’s Corner Center – but it has two department stores, a Loft, and a Banana Republic.  The other stores are for teenagers.  I feel out of place just looking in the windows.

Loft first – no dresses, but their tank tops were $6 each so I bought two.

Banana Republic – only work clothes.

Macy’s – plenty of dresses, but most were more formal or too mother-of-the-bride.  I found two that could work and asked them to hold them for me.

JC Penney’s – yes, I went to Penney’s.  It was the last option in the mall, and you know?  I found a dress there that’ll do the trick AND it was on surprise sale.  Love that.

Turns out I want a place that has better shopping that one tiny mall.  Even though I rarely shop.

Wait – I just thought of something important I have to look up and….YES, there is an Athleta in Providence.  YAY!

The Winchester boys are my heroes

I love Supernatural, you know I do, but the season 10 episode we just watched about college kids dying via electronics possessed by a vengeful ghost was nearly as bad as the season 1 episode about the racist truck.

The show is going into its 13th season – every episode can’t be a winner.  Still, I’m happy to be watching the show again.  I missed you, Dean!

Let’s get ready to rumble!

If you haven’t watched GLOW yet on Netflix, go.  Watch.  It’ll only take you 5 hours.  I’ll wait.

It’s a lot of fun.  John and I have been watching nothing else all week, and we watched the last one tonight and moved went immediately to the GLOW documentary (also on Netflix).  Looks like the creators of the show watched the first half of the documentary and then made the TV show.

I’m not inspired to go out and wrestle or anything, but maybe I have a teensy bit more interest in all that wrestling stuff I’ve been ignoring all my life.

Proof!

After much delay, I would like to present three videos of me riding a horse who is jumping (not very high jumps).  I was going to say these were videos of me jumping, but, as John has pointed out before, I am not the one doing the jumping. Olive is doing all the work.

These were all taken the morning of July 4th.

We raised the second jump in each set for this last one.

Guys, it is SO much fun.  Even on a day like today when Olive veered right and caught my toe on one of the uprights so that it half twisted me out of the saddle and the upright crashed down behind us and Olive freaked and started to run out and I was scrambling to hang on, calm her down, and NOT fall off.

I was successful at all of those things, so yeah – SO much fun.

Headline: I still have two feet

A horse stepped on me this weekend.  I’m fine (really fine – I ran this morning), but I was a little anxious for a couple of hours on Saturday.  I spent the day at a horse show just south of Portland.  Wendy was there with Tigger, Olive, Dobby (Tigger’s co-dependent pony friend), and Ava (the horse who stepped on me) because two of her 14-year-old students were riding in it.  Their events were first thing Saturday, so I got up early and drove up to watch them.

That part, the whole day really, minus the part where I got stepped on, was pretty cool.  I got to see my lesson horses compete and do more than I’ve asked them to do, and I got to watch a whole lot of really good riders on really big horses do really cool things.  The weather was beautiful (not a cloud in sight), and it was really neat to just hang out and watch all the riding and jumping.

The stepped on part: Wendy needed to clean out stalls, so Elaine (my friend who wrote the romance novel) and I volunteered to take Olive and Ava for a walk to give Wendy time.  Ava was anxious, even right next to Olive, and I couldn’t calm her down, so we headed back to the stalls.  We got separated (too many people), and Ava basically freaked out.  Then someone zipped by on a scooter, and a golf cart passed us, Ava spun around, and while I was trying to turn her the right direction to go home, she stepped on my right foot.  Like, STEPPED on with her full weight because she was walking.  It was…painful, and I may have yelled some things in front of some children, and then she stepped off and we made our way back over to Wendy.  Wendy wasn’t done with her stall, though, so I still had to deal with a giant* nervous horse.  I was letting her eat grass, but we were near a food truck and there was an extension cord, and she didn’t like me trying to move her away from the extension cord to keep her from eating it and she was still high-strung even being closer to her herdmates, whirling around every time a car went by, and I wasn’t super calm since my foot hurt and she was making me nervous and I’m sure I wasn’t successfully radiating serenity even though I was trying to, and it was a whole not-fun thing.  I was relieved to put her back in her stall.

*I’m not kidding about giant.  I mean, there are bigger horses, but she’s the biggest one I’ve had to do anything about.  She’s half thoroughbred and half shire (workhorse along the lines of a Clydesdale), and she’s 16.2 hands at her withers (top of her shoulder, a tad higher than the top of the base of her neck), which puts her withers at the top of my head (because if I did the math right, 16.2 hands is 66 inches – the .2 refers to two inches, not two-tenths of a hand – which is my height).  That’s big.

I was wearing my chucks that day, not boots, so basically no protection, and I spent the next several hours wiggling my toes and flexing my foot to make sure I still could.  The pain faded to an ache, and then that faded, too, and by the time I drove home, I was totally fine.  I have a fun bruise I keep poking at, but no lasting damage.  Until one day the front half of my foot falls off because it turns out I have a hairline fracture or something and I didn’t rest or treat it because it didn’t hurt, but eh – why borrow trouble?

I love summer

You want to know what I’m doing right now?  Right this very second?  Well, I’m typing on my laptop (obvs), sitting in a chair in my backyard, with corn on the grill (John says it’s a barbecue because it’s charcoal not gas, but I don’t think that distinction has anything to do with reality), soon to be joined by steak (the corn, not me – the steak will not be joining me until I eat it, and then we two will become one), listening to John strum his banjo.  The only thing that would make this better, right this very second, is if I were drinking wine instead of water, but I’m doing the smart thing and avoiding those empty calories tonight because I did not avoid the empty calories of buttered banana bread at lunchtime.  Gotta make choices, and I choose banana bread and corn and steak.  The wine will still be there next week.  Or when the banana bread is gone, whichever comes first.  Willpower!

I want

When we were in California, Erik took us and the kids to the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.  Cool museum, lots of stuff to play with, good for kids, but I’m mentioning it mostly because I tried a virtual reality painting program and OH MY GOD I WANT IT SO MUCH.  Why I want it has NOTHING to do with the painting part – I am as bad a virtual artist as I am in the real world – although that part was pretty fun.  You can paint AROUND you, like you’re standing in the middle of the room and painting on the air, and then you can move through it or change your perspective and see if from a completely different angle without moving yourself.  Very cool.  I’m not sure of the point of it the 3D aspect of it once it’s finished, though.  It’s not really 3D unless you have a floor or ceiling projector, and there’s no way it looks as cool in 2D.  Anyway, again, the art part is not what I got excited about.

You can choose from a variety of built-in backgrounds or landscapes or environments or whatever.  The one I spent the majority of my time in was the default one, sort of a reddish flat area with mountains in the distance, dark and dusky.  The girl running the demo suggested I try the space environment and how I wish I’d done that sooner.  As soon as I switched over, it was like I was standing on a clear platform in space, stars and blackness above and below and all around me.  I think there was a planet – I can’t tell you for sure now.  I can tell you that I didn’t want to leave it.  It was incredible.  Like, emotionally incredible and I’m getting a little choked up remembering it.  I have no idea if it was remotely realistic, but now I have something I want.  Not necessarily the painting program, although I’ll take it.  I want space.  I want space in virtual reality.  I don’t need the zero gravity part (although I think it would be cool).  I want to sit on the floor and be able to look in any direction and see stars and planets and galaxies and comets and asteroid belts.  I want to be immersed in it, in the comfort of my own home.

In real terms, I can have it.  VR gear is between $600 and $800.  Not easy, but attainable if I really want it.  (I don’t need a new laptop for a while, right?)  That paint program?  $20.  But the gear is necessary.  I googled a bit to see what space VR programs might be out there already, realistic ones, and I found SpaceVR, a company that is about to launch 360-degree cameras into orbit around earth to provide real images of space to anyone who subscribes to their feed.  The subscription is reasonable, but again, you need the gear.

Here’s my quandary: is it good enough now?  Is it too early in the VR technology cycle to be worth it?  I’ve never been an early adopter.  I’m happy to let other people iron out the kinks before I spend a lot of money on something.  VR has been around for a long time, and it used to really suck.  I’m sure it sucks less now, but how much less?  I don’t say “I must have this” about things very often, so this feels odd.  Comforting that I still feel as strongly about it three weeks later, but three weeks isn’t that long.  I’ll probably wait.

But I really want this.

Also, it’s dirty

I saw a snake today on the trail during my run.  I managed not to freak out (out loud), but I did give it a wide berth as it slithered off into the weeds.  It was…little, I guess, but snakes are snakes, and I don’t like them.  This is the problem I have with the outdoors.  I like being outside right up until I’m reminded of all the things that live outside.  Which reminds me: one afternoon a few weeks ago, right after work, I took my book and a bottle of water, and I hiked up to the top of Spencer Butte to read.

I sat there pretty comfortably for nearly two hours, reading my book, ignoring the chatter of the other people on the summit (it was a busy day for hikers), shifting occasionally because sitting on rocks is not that comfortable, and then out of nowhere I heard the a loud buzzing sound.  Like, LOTS of buzzing.  Like the sound of a beehive buzzing, a sound I’ve only heard in the movies and in cartoons.  I glanced to my left and there were a whole bunch of bees flying in a clump, hovering by a rock not one foot away from me.  I suppose that’s what swarming looks like.  I hope I never know for sure.  I got away (duh), and frankly, I’m a little amazed at how quickly and smoothly I moved.  I grabbed my stuff and was 20 feet away, looking over my shoulder the whole time.  I’m super glad they didn’t chase me because there were no lakes in sight.  Seriously, everything I know about swarms of bees comes from cartoons.  And My Girl.

Anyway, that was the end of my pleasant afternoon on a mountain top.  I hiked back down, and before I got in the car, I checked out the map on the information board.  The information board helpfully informed me that the indigenous rattlesnake population was rebounding and they can be found on and under the rocks, so hikers should be careful and definitely not reach under rocks.  Also, mountain lions hang out on the butte.  Well, hell.  I just spent two hours sitting on and among the rocks.  It’s amazing I survived the day.

So yeah – outside is pretty and all, but things that want to kill me live out there, and that’s not even counting spiders and UGH mosquitoes, so maybe I should just stay inside.

Must start earlier

It’s night #2 of not feeling the blog thing, and I think I can safely say that waiting until after dinner to write is not a great strategy.  Whatever energy I had during the day is gone, completely, and all I want to do is read and go to bed.

This is the summer of binge-watching, so after we watched the entire season of The Crown (loved), we watched the entire season of The OA (disappointing), then all of Doctor Who season 9 (yay), and now we’ve moved on to Iron Fist, the next Netflix Marvel Comics show.  It’s…okay.  The main character is annoying in his naivete, and overall, it’s definitely the weakest of the Netflix Marvel shows.  Still entertaining, though.  I like how all of the shows are connected.

Oh, hey, we saw Wonder Woman last weekend.  The movie wasn’t great (although it’s the most I’ve ever liked Chris Pine in anything, and it was miles better than the other DC movies), but I felt this visceral enjoyment seeing Wonder Woman kick ass during the fight scenes.  I’d watch it again.

Hey, look, even tired I can babble about TV and movies.  Good for me.  Bed for me.  See ya.

My perception may be skewed

We went to the Oregon Country Fair on Saturday, and we had a great time, but this was one of those events that had been over-hyped to us.

You HAVE to go.

You’ve never see ANYthing like it.

It’s where all the weird in Oregon goes to let their freak flags fly.

It’s SO WEIRD.

You have to see it to understand.

Yeah, not so much.  I mean, it’s a little weird, but it’s barely weirder than a renaissance festival, and that’s basically what it is, minus the renaissance trappings.  More hippie than history.  It’s a giant arts/music/crafts festival out in a permanent location in the woods.  I mean GIANT – this place was enormous and easy to get lost in.  There’s a ton of handmade stuff, lots of fair food, music everywhere, and people dressed as anything you can imagine: themselves (like us), fairy-type stuff (lots of headbands with horns, flower crowns, masks, face-painting), people on stilts (we saw a group dressed up as characters from the Wizard of Oz all on stilts), a couple of hippie marching bands (tie-dye shirts and flowers), and a few topless women and men wearing barely anything, which I suppose is what people were trying to tell us when they kept saying how weird it is.

It wasn’t that weird, and it’s an alcohol- and drug-free zone, so it wasn’t likely to get crazy, either.

I liked it very much – I don’t mean to sound like it wasn’t a really good time or that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy all the people watching, but it makes me wonder about everyone else’s definition of weird.  Or maybe it’s my own definition I should worry about.