It’s educational, too!

Things I learned in Oregon:

  1. Willamette is not pronounced the way I thought it was.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve been saying it wrong my whole life, but only because it only came to my notice a few years ago.  Looks like Will-uh-METT, right?  Yeah, noooo.  It’s Will-LAM-it.  Like, going on the lam.  Or Mary had a little lamb.  Sounds mildly ridiculous, but it’s growing on me.
  2. The reason blender lids have that center plastic piece that comes out is so you can pour things in while the blender is running.  I never knew.  If I put any thought into it at all, I would have assumed it came out to make the lid easier to clean.  I watched Christina make a basil/vinegar/other stuff blend for pasta salad the other night, and my mind was blown when she poured olive oil in through the lid.
  3. Patty-cake is NOT allowed on beaches in Oregon. 2015-10-28 12.32.06
  4. Waves are tricksy beings and like to creep up behind people, splash them a little, and run away cackling. 2015-10-28 12.31.50

Come on, Oregon, now you’re showing off

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On Wednesday, John and I decided to head to the coast and sight-see (and give Will and Christina a day free of house guests), and I may have fallen into a beautiful scenery hole.  I don’t know if I can get out.  It’s almost overwhelming.  The road we were on to get there took us through the mountains and along a river and then there was a lake (with the trees on the mountain going right down to the edge of the water and the water was like glass and the trees were perfectly reflected) and oh, hey some elk (elks?) and it was SO beautiful.  I didn’t get any pictures of that section because I was driving and there was nowhere to turn off, but then we turned south onto 101 (the Pacific Coast Highway!!) and aimed for Coos Bay.  We went to a state park Brian (who used to live there) recommended and BAM.  There was the Pacific Ocean.  It’s been a long time since we last saw it, but hey!  It’s still there.

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There was a trail along the top of the coastal cliffs – I could have stayed up there all day.

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Thursday morning, Will took us running along a trail that runs next to a lake near his house, and really – how do you expect me to run in a straight line when I’m craning my neck in every direction to look at the lake and the trees and the mountains and oh look! there’s a house nestled in there and wouldn’t it be great to live in that house?

Will has done his job – we’re convinced.

The whole state is in on it

We know that it rains in Oregon.  That’s, like, part of the definition of Oregon, right?  It rains.  And supposedly, it rains from any-day-now until…June?  July?  Most of the year, anyway.  We headed out this way fully expecting to deal with a week of rain, and yeah, our first full day here (Sunday) was mostly rainy, but Monday was perfect.  It’s like Oregon is trying to convince us to move here, too.

I mean, who could resist this?

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I think I could live in Eugene

Today, I had a waffle with spinach and goat cheese and strawberries and carmelized onions and some sort of balsamic reduction on top.  It was SO GOOD.  And I had lots of coffee and I had beer from a local brewery and we went to Hayward Field and stood on the track and it was a really nice day and did I mention I had lots of coffee?

Pictures later.  Not of the coffee.

Rhapsodic about cucumbers

Cucumbers are a wonderful thing.  I mean, they’re not as great as avocados (let’s not get crazy here), but they make other foods better.  I’ve been slicing cucumbers onto my sandwiches all week, and the other night I added cucumber to a caesar salad.  So good, so crunchy, so FRESH!  A cucumber slice in water is delicious and light (and THAT I would never do to an acovado).

I sound like a morning talk show personality.  I should stop now before I start in with the cucumber-related beauty tips.

Jet lag?

I can never remember which direction you have to travel for jet lag to really be a thing, but I think it might not be the direction we went.  Let me think this through.  We flew from Annapolis to Oregon, east to west…when we go to Europe, we’re jet-lagged at the beginning of the trip, not the end…that trip is west to east, so yeah.  Going to Oregon should not have caused jet lag, and as much as I would like to blame the exhaustion I felt over the weekend on jet lag, I’m pretty sure that’s not right.  I’ll just blame a long travel day, followed by a late night (we went to bed around 3am (personal time) after getting up at 5am).  Eight hours of sleep later, I spent all of Sunday fighting my drooping eyelids.

Will and Christina’s kids are adorable.  I just listened to Christina read them a bedtime story that included chanting “Part-y!  Part-y!”, so there’s no telling when they’ll actually sleep, but it was really cute.

Here’s hoping I’m back to my normal level of alertness (whatever that is) tomorrow.

Everything is a risk

*Continued from previous post.

Aren’t we (the collective we) always taking our lives in our hands?  Aren’t our lives always in our own hands, in one sense or another?  Every little thing we do has a risk associated with it, but we choose to do those things despite the risks (and, of course, we mitigate those risks where we can).

  • We got on a plane to fly across the country.  The plane could have crashed for any number of reasons.
  • Speaking of flying, John is learning to pilot small planes.  He’s not experienced, and even with an instructor there with him, he could crash.
  • I ate a sandwich – I could have choked on it.
  • I went down into the basement to get the laundry – I could have fallen down the stairs.
  • I went for a run – I could have had a heart attack or been hit by a car or been pushed over the rail of the bridge.
  • I went outside to meet Jess for coffee – I could have had a satellite fall on my head.  A rabid dog could have bitten me.  A rabid squirrel could have bitten me.
  • I let a stranger make me coffee (well, I paid her to make me coffee) – the lady at the coffee shop could have poisoned me (although that would be bad for business).
  • I washed dishes in the sink – the electrical cable from the electric kettle could fall into the running water and electrocute me.

Afraid as I am that The Big One will hit the Pacific Northwest while we’re there, I don’t think I can let that stop me from going.  That feels like the first step towards hiding in my room, curtains drawn, locking myself in and the rest of the world out.

Actually afraid

I don’t think I spend my life being afraid of things, sometimes even when I should (how was I not terrified floating around in the Persian Gulf during active conflicts when I was in the Navy?).  I don’t lose sleep worrying about the next tornado or hurricane or earthquake or mudslide, and I didn’t even when I lived closer to tornado country (I remember plenty of tornado watches and warnings in Kentucky).

Then I read this New Yorker article.

John and I are considering moving to the Pacific Northwest (Seattle and Oregon have been on the list since the beginning), certainly for a few months, and possibly for good (if we love it), but this article (more specifically, its discussion of imminent disaster and death by earthquake and/or tsunami) has seriously freaked me out.  I want everyone west of the 5 to move.  Immediately, please, since this could happen ANY MINUTE NOW.  We are taking our lives in our hands* visiting this part of the country.  If we survive this trip, well, I really don’t know if that will have any bearing on our decision to make the move later (other than that we’ll be alive to make that decision).  Surviving this trip just means it hasn’t happened yet and is more likely to happen when/if we come back.

*See next post.


Today, when I say overweight, I’m referring to John’s suitcase.  He’s playing superhero, right?  Well, Captain Wammy has a lot of gear, and it all needs to fit in a suitcase to get to Oregon.  He just filled his suitcase and stepped on the scale – so far, it’s under 50 lbs, but I’m not sure it’ll stay that way.  He’s using a suitcase that’s heavier to begin with, but that’s because it’s also sturdier.  It would suck if his stuff got damaged because something gigantic smashed one of the flimsier suitcases.  I have a feeling my suitcase is going to get filled with various electronic gadgets.

Oh, I’m a sidekick!  Captain Wammy and The Uke, appearing in the nick of time to keep bands from having to cancel gigs at the last minute!

Other sidekick names (I’m trying them out in my head, like “Captain Wammy and….”, even though I don’t think John would be pleased with Captain Wammy.  Greg is hilarious, though, and I like it.):

  • The Voice
  • The Whisper
  • The Diva
  • Strum
  • Hum
  • Fingers McGee
  • Butterfingers
  • Ivory

John to the rescue!

I can’t believe I haven’t told you John’s super-exciting news.  Remember Will, who was the drummer in the band that used to practice in our basement (when we had a basement)?  Well, Will and his family moved to Oregon a couple of years ago, and Will joined a band (The Elena Leona Project).  That band has three gigs next week, and they fired their guitarist last week, and so John is flying to Oregon this weekend to be their guitarist for all three gigs.  Because they want him to, because he can, and because it’s cool.  Everyone involved is very excited.

(I’m going too, of course.  Why wouldn’t I?)

John needs a superhero name, and it needs to be guitar-related.  Ideas:

  • Capo-man
  • Strat-man
  • Strat-ster
  • The Strat
  • Strings
  • The Axe
  • Captain Strat
  • Captain Guitar
  • Fender-man
  • The Amplifier
  • Wammy Bar

Those are terrible.  I’ll keep working on it.  In Oregon!

Update: John says I should take this post down before everyone knows his secret identity.

Annapolis Boat Show

Apparently (or at least according to their web site), the Annapolis Boat Shows are the largest (and oldest!) in-water boat shows in the country.  So….that’s cool, I guess?  We’re not boat people, but we like boats just fine.  One weekend was the sailboat show, and the next weekend was the power boat show, and we figured we’re slightly more interested in sailboats, so if we were going to go to one of them, it would be the sailboat show.  And really, we’re probably never going to live in Annapolis again, so it would be silly not to go while we’re here.  We gathered up Molly (Welcome to Annapolis, Molly!  Let’s go look at boats!) and Jess and spent a couple of hours wandering the floating docks, exploring boats, and trying to imagine what it would be like to live on one (or at least go to sea for a while on one).  The short answer is that not one of us would be happy living on a boat.  Molly would get seasick, Jess just doesn’t like boats, I don’t want to spend that much time on the water, and John wouldn’t fit comfortably (not even on the big ones).

Here’s what I learned:

  1. The nets that go across the front of the catamarans are awfully comfortable.
  2. I would be perfectly happy with a floating dock.  I don’t need a boat.  The rocking motion of a floating dock is all I need.

The biggest downside to having the boat show in town for two weeks was that we couldn’t get to the docks at all (without buying a ticket).  There was a big fence around the whole area, covered with ads and posters, and you couldn’t see the water at all.  Monday was the first day it was all gone, and it’s such a relief.  It’s hardly a big open area, but the fence and all the boats made it seem so claustrophobic.  It’s easier to breathe now that they’re gone.


Our day at the boat show was a beautiful day, though.

Howling at…the moon? Howling at something

(John and I split a bottle of wine at dinner tonight (Today is his birthday!), so please forgive any typos.  Or rambling.  Or nonsensical rants.  But I’m sure there won’t be any of those.)

It’s easy to forget that our neighbor has a dog.  He’s just so quiet most of the time.  Every once in a while, we’ll hear him scrabbling across the floor (maybe playing with a ball?), but he doesn’t bark and we rarely see him outside.  (That could be because we’re rarely outside.)

We heard him all day today, though.  I don’t know what was going on over there, but this poor dog HOWLED all day.  It was adorable at first, and it inspired me to howl back.  That resulted in a minute or so of silence, when I imagined this dog staring at the wall that connects our houses with his head cocked to one side.  “Did I really hear that?  Is someone talking to me?  I didn’t quite understand it – maybe they’re from another country.”  Then he’d howl again.  And really, I’m not sure why.  Some days we have emergency vehicles rushing down the street all the time, but not today.  No ambulances, no fire engines, no police cars, no sirens of any kind.  It passed adorable (although it circled back to adorable once an hour or so) and became lonely around midday.  Why is this dog howling?  Does he miss his owners?  What makes today different?

We’re about ready to volunteer ourselves as dogsitters.  Maybe not volunteer, but we’d offer a competitive rate.

Muppets forever

We are 100% convinced the episode 3 of the new Muppets show (The Muppets) included a callback to our favorite moment of the original Muppet Show ever.  Here’s the original:

LOVE that joke. So tonight, we watched the third episode of the new show. Fozzie is out in the woods, and Kermit is looking for him. Some campers come running by screaming, “Bear! There’s a bear!” Kermit shouts after them, “Wait a minute! Is he wearing a tie?”

John and I got so excited. No other explanation will do. I love the Muppets.

I still like to read, don’t I?

I gave up on another book today.  Turns out I am not in the mood to read about Elric, Stealer of Souls.  I may never be in that mood.  But now I’m angry with my bookshelf, and I’m afraid to pick another book.  What if I pick up a perfectly good book, one that I would enjoy if I were in another mood, but that might be forever colored by my current mood if I try it and reject it now?  Because, oh yes, I’m in a mood.  I have no reason for it (I could blame it on today being the anniversary of Riley’s death, but that would just be a handy excuse, I think, and not the real reason), but it’s true anyway.

I didn’t start the day this way.  When I woke up, it was a nice morning.  A bit cold, but I wasn’t planning on running.  John and I decided that our Sunday brunch tour of Annapolis would begin today, so we headed out West St figuring we’d find something.  The wait at Miss Shirley’s Cafe was too long (40 minutes), so we’ll try that some other week (earlier), but it was 10am when we came back by Rams Head, and they had just opened for brunch – no wait.  The place was basically empty, so we picked a table all the way in the back.  Shortly after sitting down, we found out that the jazz trio was going to set up right there.  We couldn’t have picked a better spot.  The trio was really good (they did a funky version of “Summertime” (from Porgy and Bess) that I liked a lot), and we were close enough that we could chat with them between songs.  We ended up staying a lot longer than we planned (John has a lot of practicing to do – more on that soon), but we were having a really good time.  When we finally left, I felt like doing some practicing of my own.  We kept our bass guitar because I’ve been thinking about actually learning to play it (as opposed to the barely-getting-by fakery I had down for a few months my senior year in college), and after watching the trio, I felt inspired to start today.

For a while, that went well.  I can get through scales (not prettily, but that’ll come with time – my hands aren’t tiny, but they’re not used to stretching for frets and strings), and before I stopped, I was able to play “Eight Days A Week” along with YouTube (thumping along on the roots only, but it was recognizable).

Then the phone rang (it was Ed, checking in with us since we checked out (and test drove) a Jaguar for him yesterday), and something about that soured my mood.  That’s a little dramatic (and simplified) – I don’t blame the phone call or Ed – but it was around then that I lost any drive to do anything.  I tried to read the Elric book, finishing the first story and starting the second, hoping I’d be more invested, and I just wasn’t.  Skimming pages to get to the end of a chapter is a sign I’m not interested.  BIG sign.  So I gave up on that one and then got mad at books in general (when I scanned the shelf looking for the next one).  I might be feeling the limits I set on myself.  I have maybe 15 physical books left on the shelf, and I told myself that I was going to read them all (and get rid of them) before I went back to e-books.  They’re only on the shelf because they’re books I want to read, so it shouldn’t be a chore.  I could let myself off the hook for one book and read something on my tablet, but in my current mood, that might not work for me either.

John thinks we haven’t had enough down time (people coming to visit, I’m working all the time, we spent all day yesterday driving from here to VA to DC to Alexandria and back home, etc.), so it’s perfectly acceptable for me to melt my brain a little by watching Scandal.  Rationalization is fine with me, so TV it is. May the magic of TV fix my mood!

Any day now

John had his pre-solo check ride Friday afternoon, and it went well enough that if it hadn’t been so windy, he would have flown his first solo flight right after it.  They decided it was a bit too gusty to do it yesterday, and I think I’m a little relieved.  I’m not worried about it, exactly.  I have every faith in John’s abilities, and I trust his instructor to know when John is ready, but I think I’d like to be at the airport when he does it.  Just in case.  I think.  But leaving that aside, John is ready to solo!  Already!  This is very cool.  Soon we’ll be able to hop in a plane to visit people instead of the car.

I think he’s been learning in something like this (assuming Google Images is really showing me pictures of a Piper Warrior):


And here’s the (student) pilot himself:


Another mystery solved

Yesterday, I explained where your missing socks are (too bad they can’t carry cameras – their vacation pictures are probably pretty good), and today I got a request to find out where the missing mittens are.  Mittens are pretty much the opposite of socks, right?  Socks go on your feet, mittens go on your hands.  Total opposites.  Socks run away and have adventures, but mittens aren’t like that.  They’re timid, fearful.  They have self-esteem problems.  All they want to do is hide (the LAST thing they want to do is go out in the cold and have snowball fights), and the ones that go missing are the ones that have wished SO hard for a good hiding place that they’ve turned themselves invisible.  Your mittens haven’t gotten lost or run away – they’ve disappeared.  You’ll find them if you feel around for them, but you’ll look pretty weird when you wear them outside.  Well, maybe not weird.  Bare hands don’t look weird.  But if you’re wearing invisible mittens you’ll have flipper hands (like The Penguin!), and that would be odd, so yes.  Weird. But warm!

Have a heart.  Leave your mittens in the closet.  They’re happier there.

Get it together!

Things I did today:

  • Work
  • Ordered new sheets for our bed
  • Met Jess for lunch (I don’t think that counts, but it got me out of the apartment)
  • Talked to Mom and Dad (not sure that should count, either – no, it totally counts because we decided on dates for my next visit)

Things I didn’t do today:

  • Run (or work out in any way)
  • Laundry
  • Buy groceries
  • Look for a new job
  • Read my book
  • Play on the internet (this doesn’t count)
  • Write a book
  • Fly a plane
  • Ride a horse
  • Paint a picture
  • Build a house
  • Cure a disease
  • Sing at Carnegie Hall
  • Reach through my computer and strangle someone – oh, wait.  It’s good that I didn’t do that one.

Not every day can be the perfect example of how I want to live my life (yesterday was pretty darn close – it needed more John), but today fell disappointingly short.  It’s my own fault.  I didn’t get out of bed to run, and then I couldn’t get out of my head to enjoy the day, and then I let the rain keep me from the store.  Going to the store wouldn’t have been exciting in any way, but it needs doing, and I’ll feel better when it’s done.

I will just have to do better tomorrow.

Columbus Day rocks, but not because of Columbus

Molly and Jess and I had the best Columbus Day.  It was beautiful out (see exhibit A), so we spent a few hours sitting at a sidewalk table, drinking wine and playing a game called Dreaming Spires, where we built Oxford University.  It was great.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Seriously nice day.  Despite the ONE mosquito who’s still hanging out in OCTOBER of all months, just waiting for me to show up.  She found me.  Her patience was rewarded.

John had a pretty good Columbus Day, too.  He had to work for a while, but then he had a flying lesson, and (as you can see from that picture), it was  a GREAT day to fly.  AND his instructor finally said something helpful to him the other day (new instructor next week, thank goodness), so his landings today were much better and he feels much more comfortable with it.  Soloing is just around the corner.  Yay John!