People are right about Portland

We spent about 12 hours hanging out in Portland last Monday, before our flight back home, and they were a VERY good 12 hours.  We had a really good day.  We spent the night just south of Portland, planning to sleep in.  That plan was foiled by a garbage truck in the parking lot of the hotel around 7:30am, but we were in no rush.  We checked out around 10, I think, and found an all-day parking spot in a lot downtown a few blocks away from Powell’s (!), which was the BIG reason we wanted to spend a day in Portland.

First, though, breakfast.  I spent 30 seconds googling all-day breakfast places in Portland, and I found a diner that sounded great.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t open, which was a little bit mysterious.  We were well within the hours posted on the door, and it specifically said it was open Mondays…but oh, well.  We took a walk and found another place that worked.  It didn’t look like much – it was travel-themed, Route 66-type, lots of souvenirs from road trips in the 50s, tacky decorative plates on the walls – but the music was GREAT, the waitresses (friendly) were all absent-mindedly singing along (so was I), and the brunch special was this egg scramble that had cauliflower in it.  Who thinks of that?  It was delicious.  Cauliflower, spinach, proscuitto, tomato, avocado on top.  Maybe something else.  SO GOOD.  And while we were there, we got the call from the property management company that our application for the house had been accepted, so YAY!

From there, we walked to Powell’s, and we didn’t come out again for HOURS and it was GLORIOUS.  We’d heard about it for years, of course, and I’ve been dying to see it.  I was not disappointed.  We stopped on every single floor and browsed nearly every single shelf.  It was overwhelming, in the best possible way.  Every shelf was a mix of new books and used books, hardcover and trade and mass market paperbacks, and the selection was varied and enormous.  After we toured the entire store, we stopped in the science fiction and fantasy section.  I didn’t come out of those shelves for at least two hours (maybe three).

The science fiction and fantasy section (which is enormous and comprehensive) reminded me entirely too much of what our bookshelves used to look like.  It was eerie.  Our personal collection was always heavily SFF, and this section had shelf after shelf of my favorite authors, with whole series represented (very different from your typical bookstore, but very much like what we had).  It felt like the best combination of used bookstore and library, and for the first time, I felt a twinge of regret about getting rid of so many of our books.  Just a twinge.

I stuck to my goals and DIDN’T buy ANYthing.  (John bought three books.)  We went for a wandering walk around the neighborhood, again with a restaurant I’d found online as our intended destination, but when we got there, it was a little fancy for how we were feeling.  There was an interesting looking place on the opposite corner, so we walked in there and were seated immediately.

I don’t remember what John had, but I had the spicy mac and cheese, and it was SO GOOD.  And while we were waiting, they brought us bite-size pieces of grilled cheese sandwich with lemon in it.  Sounds weird?  Was delicious.  The chefs were experimenting, apparently.  Dinner was really pleasant.

After all of that, it was only about 7:15, and we didn’t need to return our rental car until about 9.  We walked back to the car and realized that we’d parked right next to an arcade.  Serendipitous!  So we went into the arcade, John picked up a beer, we changed $5 for quarters, and we played Galaga and Joust and Tetris and Star Wars and X-Men and I-don’t-know-what until we ran out of quarters.  That was our signal to head to the airport, and thus ended our day in Portland.

It was a good day.

The highs and lows of apartment hunting

Months before our trip, I was on a bunch of sites looking for potential places to live.  I knew those places wouldn’t stil be available (probably) by the time we got to February, but it gave me a good idea of location and price.  In the few days before we headed out week before last, I made a ton of calls and sent a ton of emails, all to make sure we’d have actual places to look at in the five days we had.  The worst thing I could think of was the scenario where we show up, there’s nothing to check out, or they’re all terrible or too expensive or not available, and we end up coming back to Annapolis without locking down our next home.  I did NOT want to rent a place without seeing it first, and I did NOT want to have to move across the country without an actual destination (like we did when we moved San Diego, in our early twenties, young and stupid).

Luckily, we had plenty to see.  Luckilier (so much better than more luckily), we found our perfect house on Day 1 and our very good backup on Day 2.  In between, we saw some good, some bad, and some so-so places.

Our very first showing (viewing?) was at an apartment complex on Broadway, right downtown.  The location was perfect, the way the buildings were set up was really nice, they have underground parking available, and the apartments were cute.  Cute is the operative word here – they were small.  One of the things we were looking for (John in particular) was more space.  In the Annapolis apartment, we live and work in the same room.  When we’re done working for the day, we don’t get to close the door on work and walk away.  It makes it very hard to leave work behind, so one of the things we were looking for was a place with a room we could call the office – just the office.  This apartment complex didn’t have anything with quite enough room.

Our next place was an old house (1860s or something), yellow with a red door (I love that), big porch – it was a nice looking house, looked charming, in a good spot, right on the edge of downtown.  When we got there, the apartment manager had thrown open the front and back doors.  Welcoming, right?  No – we’re pretty sure she walked in, reeled in disgust, and opened the doors (and windows) hoping to dispel the animal odors.  This house was old, yes, and it was quirky, but it hadn’t been kept up well enough to make the quirkiness work for us, and the smell made it an almost immediate no.  It smelled like animals had peed all over it.  “We’ll have that taken care of by next week.”  Oh, no, you won’t.  Link.

We didn’t have another appointment until 4pm (and it was only 10 after 1), and we were beginning to feel a little nervous; what if we don’t find a place in the only five days we have to look?  We drove around the corner, spotted a very cute house for rent that hadn’t shown up on any of our searches, called, and got someone to come out and show it to us 15 minutes later.

It’s so cute (spoiler: it’s the house we’re renting, so you’ve already seen the pictures), and since it was a real possibility, we felt a ton better.

Our 4pm appointment was not so positive.  It was in the hills in the southern part of Eugene, and the area was beautiful.  The house was at least 100 years old, and it was a bit more remote, a bit more secluded.  Unfortunately, it was terrifying.  This house is where horror movies are made.  The owners don’t keep up the outbuildings (there was an overgrown shed and a garage with the roof caving in), and the renters aren’t allowed in the basement (basically a cellar) – they didn’t say why.  Perhaps to hide the bodies?  There was a giant round grate in the floor, I assume for heating, but I just kept imagining scary long fingers reaching up through it or carpets of bugs scurrying out.  Speaking of bugs, the sink hadn’t been used on so long that there was a little spider living in a web in it, and a freakishly large spider (okay, it was no bigger around than the circle made when I touch my forefinger to my thumb) hanging out in the hallway near the scary grate.  Just sitting there.  The eaves (which you could see outside the upstairs windows) were festooned with webs and nests and bugs and things, and the washer and dryer were in an enclosed porch off the kitchen that leaks, judging by the water stains on the top of the washer.  Also, just one bathroom that was…fine, I guess.  There was a cupboard under the stairs, but I was more inclined to make People Under The Stairs jokes than Harry Potter jokes, and there was a strange grate/opening in the wall near the floor of the master bathroom that overlooked the stairs: perfect for grabbing the hair of the unwary person climbing the stairs.  So….no.  No, no, and no.  Here’s a link to it.  The link we followed (that I can’t find) had more (and better) pictures, and the pictures at this link don’t do the scary parts scary justice, but I’m sure you get the idea.

After that place, we quit for the day.  Two absolutely nots, one yes PLEASE, and one probably not, but in a pinch, maybe.

The next day at 9am, we met a property manager at a duplex in the southern end that was interesting, but didn’t grab us.  It would do, but it was kind of dark.  The living room would have been cool – vaulted ceiling, big windows – and the kitchen was nice, but the bedrooms and bathrooms were on the lower level (sort of a walkout ranch) and were kind of dark.

Our 10am appointment was at a brand new complex a little west of downtown.  If this complex had had ANYTHING interesting in walking distance, it would have been a real contender.  As it was, it became our first safety apartment (until we found a better safety apartment).  Aside from being a little too remote, it was a crazy nice place.  Construction had JUST finished, so everything was as new as it gets.  The fitness center was a really nice, with a giant TV and space to use it for classes.  You could call up zumba or strength videos right there and use the space for them.  In addition to the pool and the tennis and basketball courts, they had a pet wash station and a bike repair station.  Of course, they had bike storage.  EVERY complex in Oregon has bike storage.  The apartments were really nice, too, but they didn’t have any three-bedrooms.  Could work, but not perfect.  The house was still better.

After that place, we looked at a house on a hill that could have been good.  It had a nice garage, the front yard was nicely landscaped, and the top floor was pretty good.  The bottom floor was a little creepy, though.  There were odd-looking doors in odd places, not enough light.

We spent the afternoon checking out a couple of complexes.  One was too far away from downtown, but it was super nice.  We looked at a two-bedroom loft apartment there that would have been really nice. It was also the most expensive apartment we looked at.

The other complex we looked at that afternoon became our actual backup.  It’s our true safety apartment if something happens with the house.  If we end up in our safety apartment, we will have a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, brand new, beautiful kitchen, full-size laundry in unit.  We will be very happy there (even though we really want our house).

So Friday had 1 eh, 2 nos, 1 possibility, and 1 yes.

We had one more place to see Saturday morning.  The pictures weren’t that promising, and we almost canceled it, but we showed up anyway.  The woman who showed it to us told it was centrally-located.  What does that mean exactly?  It’s centrally-located in relation to three malls.  So convenient!  Three bedrooms, one bathroom, super-nice yard, big garage.  Unfortunately (again), this was the other smelly place.  We walked in and were olfactorily assaulted.  No exaggeration – the house smelled like someone took a handful of cat poop and smeared it on the walls, in every room.  There was no sign of cat poop or anything disgusting.  The house was clean, but the smell was intolerable.  The property manager swore it didn’t smell like that a week before.  Not sure I believe her, but it made the place a big ol’ NO.

Happily, we’d found the place we wanted and a very acceptable backup (with more than one unit available), so we got online and submitted our application, and we were able to relax for the rest of our trip.  That also made it possible for us to spend Monday hanging out in Portland, which was very cool and which I will tell you about later.

I wish I’d taken more pictures so I could show you the awful ones, but at the time, it seemed silly to take pictures of places we were definitely not going to rent.  Oooh, but I can give you the links….links have been added for all except our house and the backup complex because I’m not posting my potential addresses online.

It’s the brie. It’s always the brie.

I have raved about the sandwiches from Sammy’s Deli in Annapolis before, I know.  I’ve never had a bad one, and there are plenty I’ve gotten more than once because they’re so good.  Yesterday, I tried a new one and oh my god it’s good.  Turkey, honey mustard, brie, and apple slices, on multi-grain bread, and HEATED UP so the brie is all melty and gooey and IT’S SO GOOD.  If I miss one thing about Annapolis (besides Jess) when we leave, it’ll be Sammy’s.  I almost miss Sammy’s right now, and I was just there yesterday.

I like sandwiches.  I love brie.  I love Sammy’s.

My birthday in Eugene

Last Saturday was my birthday, so John and I spent the evening in Eugene, by ourselves.  We wanted to check out the neighborhood our new house is in at night, we wanted to walk around Eugene at night, and we wanted to go out to dinner (since it was my birthday).

Initial thoughts:

  • Our new neighborhood is safe and quiet.
  • Eugene is DEAD on Saturday nights.  It was about 7:30 – not a lot of traffic, no one walking around, and all of the restaurants were at least half-empty.  Possible extenuating circumstances: it was February and there was a home basketball game.  Dead is not necessarily a bad thing for us.  We’re hardly party people.  Besides, I’m not sure this was a typical Saturday.  And we didn’t stay out late.
  • The food is GOOD.  We picked a random restaurant after walking around downtown for 20 minutes, as empty as any of them, and had a really good meal.  So very different from our experience in Annapolis.

On our way back to the car after dinner, we passed The Eugene Hotel Retirement Center, where hotels go to retire.  I think.IMG_20160220_210528

The Eugene Hotel Retirement Center is guarded by Doorman Duck.


I like Eugene.

SO ready

It rained all day yesterday, which was fine, and we had high winds and pouring rain and thunder in the afternoon and evening, which was cool, EXCEPT for the leak.  Yes, our apartment has ANOTHER leak.  Apparently, one of our side windows (and the wall where it meets the ceiling) leaks.  Like, a lot, but apparently only when the wind throws the rain directly at that side of the house (since we haven’t noticed it before).  Big puddle on the floor, water dripping down the wall from the ceiling, the blinds on that window are actually DRIPPING WATER…

Also, the basement has standing water in it, right by the washing machines.

We need to move.

Here is a picture of the front of our new house:


Here is part of (most of) the backyard:


Here is part of the kitchen:


And here is the front room (gas fireplace):


Haven’t signed the lease yet (soon!), haven’t chosen an actual move date yet (even sooner!), but we’re getting there.  We just have to deal with the crappy parts of our current apartment for one more month.

Kids these days

Apparently, millenials don’t eat cereal because they can’t be bothered to put the bowl in the dishwasher.  Seriously.  I don’t eat a lot of cereal, either, but that’s because the cereal I want to eat (Cocoa Puffs, Golden Grahams, etc) is SO bad for me.  (It might not be that bad in normal serving sizes, but I don’t eat Cocoa Puffs in normal serving sizes.)  It’s definitely not about the dishes, and that’s coming from a person who doesn’t even use a dishwasher anymore.  We figured that since we only have a set of 4 dishes (4 bowls, 4 plates, 4 spoons, etc.), we’ll just wash our dishes by hand.  If we waited to fill a dishwasher, we’d run out of dishes and it STILL wouldn’t be full.

Of course, I’m not a millenial, so that article doesn’t apply to me, but come ON!  Wash a bowl.

Have I ever sounded older and grumpier than I do right now?  Get off my lawn!


We did it!  We got the house we wanted!  Our application was approved, our security deposit is in the mail (although our jet-lagged brains fought really hard to forget it when we went to get lunch today), and we’re just waiting for them to send the paperwork.  YAYYYYYYY!!!!!

We had a great day in Portland yesterday, and I’ll tell you all about it, but…I can’t.  Not right now.  I worked 7 hours today after our red-eye (maybe not the smartest idea), and I might fall asleep in my sandwich.  Here’s to being more awake tomorrow!

Fruitful trip

We’ve confirmed that we like Eugene (a lot), we’ve found a great place to live (we’re waiting to hear back about the application), and we did all that pretty early in the trip (found the place on the first day, applied for it on the third), so we’ve been able to enjoy the last two days stress-free!  Actually, we’re still stressed, but it’s mostly about the red-eye back home and how utterly terrible we’re going to feel all day Tuesday.  I mean, really.  Whose idea was it to get on a plane at 11pm pacific time and fly from Portland to Newark and THEN get on another plane to get to Baltimore?  We’re not landing at BWI until almost 10am eastern, and we almost certainly will not have slept.  And once we get home, we’re working (on no sleep) because we were not smart enough to take Tuesday off, too.

I think we need to fire our travel agent.  Next time, we’ll drive.

(Do you get it?  Because next time we’ll be moving and we’ll drive?  I crack myself up.)

Not nostalgic

We spent last weekend in Norfolk visiting Brian and his family (Hi, Brian and family!).  It was really nice to see them and hang out (they make Norfolk FUN!), but I found on the drive in and the way out that I’m REALLY not nostalgic for that area.  We lived and worked there for two years.  We bought our first house there.  We adopted Roxy and Riley into that house.  I got out of the Navy there.  I got my first post-Navy job there.  There’s all that history, but when we drove around and through, my feelings were mostly of the I’m-glad-we-don’t-live-here-anymore variety.  There’s nothing WRONG with it.  It’s a perfectly nice place to live.  But.  I don’t think back on my Navy years with fondness (neither does John), and down there, where nearly EVERYONE is in the Navy or has a tie to it, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore.

The dogs are the one thing I AM nostalgic about, of course.  I miss them terribly, and it was nice to drive by our old house and remember them playing in the yard, but they spent most of their lives in the Ashburn house, so even that is somewhat overshadowed by the Navy presence.

We moved away 10 and a half years ago.  I’ve been out of the Navy officially for nearly 11 years.  My Navy phobia hasn’t waned.  Okay, “phobia” is too strong.  Discomfort.  Not going back there.

But the house – the house was good to us.  It appears to have lost ALL character in the last ten years (along with the bushes that used to be in front and flowered practically year-round), but let’s blame the owners for that.  Also, winter and brown grass and no leaves.


It’s my birthday!

I am celebrating having survived 37 years, I guess.  I met a runner last time I was buying shoes who says he runs a mile for every year he’s been alive on his birthday.  He’s about my age, and his birthday is in February/March (I don’t remember exactly).  It’s hard enough for me to imagine running 37 miles today.  I’ve never run more than 10 miles in one go.  I might do a half-marathon someday,  but I have very little interest in training for a marathon.  And then to go beyond 26.2?  To be an ultra-marathoner?  That just takes up SO MUCH TIME.  I have other things I want to spend my time doing.

Anyway, if I were following that guy’s model, I’d have to run 37 miles today.  Today.  In February.  Sure, I’m in Oregon right now, and sure, it’s not as cold as it would be if I were in Annapolis, but no.  No, thank you, I’m doing just fine.  I’ll celebrate in another way.

This one guy

There’s this one guy in Annapolis who runs every day – okay, there are plenty of people who run every day.  And for all I know, this guy doesn’t run every day, but he runs every day I do, so I’m making an assumption.

So there’s this one guy who, every time I see him running, is wearing ONLY a speedo.  Well, and shoes.  The cold doesn’t seem to bother him.  Maybe he stays in when it’s in the single digits, but I’ve seen him out running when it’s 18 degrees.  It’s possible he puts clothes on to run when it’s colder, but I wouldn’t recognize him, so I wouldn’t know.

I just don’t understand 1) how it’s comfortable to run only in underwear, basically, and 2) why you’d want to.  Oh, and 3) how is he not freezing his you-know-whats off?

I guess Olympic runners run in what is basically performance underwear, but he is not an Olympic athlete.  Did he lose a bet?  Must run in only a speedo for, what, a year?  Really, I can’t think of any other plausible reason to do it.


My team sent me an Edible Arrangements bouquet for my birthday!  IMG_20160216_205506

Fresh fruit, some it chocolate-covered – SO good.  And somehow, they managed to time the delivery with our weekly conference call.  Probably dumb luck, but it was a very nice surprise.  They’re very sweet.  I may not like my job, but I sure do like my team.

No more panic

The panic is gone (and may have been exaggerated for effect).  I’m just in how-do-I-get-myself-out-of-all-these-work-things mode.  I packed last night (mostly).  Ate some fruit (a lot of fruit – more on that later).  Work is….what it always is, which makes getting away difficult, but I’ll manage it.  I ran this morning, had coffee (decaf!) with Jess this morning, and now I would like to shower, eat more fruit (there’s really a lot of fruit), and finish packing.  THEN I’ll feel better.  My goal is the big sigh of relief when I get in the car.  Although it might be put off in favor of getting to the gate.  Then I can relax.

The all-out pre-trip panic has begun

Eeeek!  Traveling!  Making decisions!  Big ones that are exciting!  But I can’t be excited because we haven’t left yet and I haven’t packed and we’re making appointments to see places and we’re working tomorrow before we leave and I’ve learned that lesson before and WHY haven’t I applied it yet?

To keep the panic to a minimum, this will be short so I can breathe.  And pack.  And breathe.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be better because I will be packed.  I will be packed.  I will be packed.  (It’s my new mantra.)

Presidents Day, Annapolis Edition

What have I done today?  A lot and not much, both of which are fine with me.  Made banana nut bread for breakfast, which also became lunch, watched a never-ending episode of Arrow (John is working today, so we kept pausing the episode for extended periods of time.  The show is not that good, so it didn’t really matter that we came back to it with little memory of the preceding dialogue.), and then I made my way through a handful of graphic novels.  Re-read volume 1 of Chew (which has a very interesting, totally disgusting premise), read volume 2 (which I enjoyed even more), re-read volume 1 of The Wicked + The Divine (still really good), and started volume 1 of the Federal Bureau of Physics.  After that, I only have two more new ones to check out, and then I can go all digital, all the time, plus library books, with a clear conscience.

The snow has stopped for the moment, but the sleet and the rain are supposed to be moving in.  I have no intention of leaving the apartment today.  We’re considering extending the breakfast theme into dinner and having eggs and toast instead of spaghetti.

We’ve had a really good weekend being out and about, but it’s nice to be able to stay inside, be anti-social, and not talk to anyone for the day.  Decompress.  This coming week will be both stressful and relaxing, possibly at the same time.  Today is necessary.

My love for Crazy Ex Girlfriend, short form

I think I’ve mentioned this show in passing, but Crazy Ex Girlfriend is crazy fun.  It has a terrible title (sounds belittling), but it’s really good AND it’s a musical AND it won some awards lately AND I love it.  I just watched the latest episode yesterday (episode 11, they’re all on Hulu), and it was the best one yet.  There’s a riff on the theme song that is FANTASTIC.  (Also, I love the theme song and I love the first song from the first episode and how they bring it together at the end of the first episode and I will be watching episode 11 again VERY soon.)

Had to share.  Gotta go!


It’s really $&#$^%#$ cold in our apartment.  John thinks it’s an insulation problem (and he’s probably right).  We crank up the heat, close the door to the room we’re in, the heat comes on, and while it’s on, we’re toasty warm.  The second the thermostat (which is across from a window in the kitchen, two rooms away, and gets direct sunlight) reaches the set temperature, the heat stops coming out of the vent, and all the warmth leaches out of the room.  We start to shiver, and eventually the heat comes back on.  It’s ridiculous, and it’s a wonder we’re not both sick with all the temperature fluctuations we sit through every day.


That’s a grumpy post.  Welcome to my week.  Lovely that it’s over.


Slow down, you move too fast

I’ve finished the books on my shelf, so I’m reading the graphic novels now, and I’m trying to read them slowly.  They have words AND art, and the art is important to the story.  I have this tendency to just read the words and move on, and if I do that, I’m devouring the books, but not getting the full effect.  I picked up a few Vol 2s of Vol 1s I read a while ago, so I’m re-reading the Vol 1s and trying to slow down.  Take my time.  Weirdly, it means I’m taking longer to read one normal size graphic novel than some of the books from my shelf, but that’s okay.



That’s okay.

Bills should always be due on the first of the month!

Right now, while I’m thinking about it, I’m writing our rent check.  Hang on.

Okay, that’s done.  ALL of our bills are due on the first of the month or just after EXCEPT the rent, which is due on the 15th, and it’s SO hard for me to remember that month after month.  Drives me crazy.  Also, I have to write a physical check and actually mail it, requiring envelopes and stamps – I had to order checks just to pay rent on this apartment because we didn’t have ANY.  And I had a bunch of Forever stamps, but I’m running low, thanks to this particularly backward landlord.  What else do we write checks for?  Nothing.  We can pay all bills online, over the phone via credit card or checking account.  At the last apartment, we paid our rent online.  Everywhere we go takes credit cards, or if they’re cash only, well, they’re cash only, not cash or check.  If they’re cash or check, we make sure we have cash.  If we want to give money to someone, we can transfer it electronically or give them a gift card that is a credit card or give them cash.  CHECKS ARE BASICALLY OBSOLETE and I don’t like them.

Boo checks.  And bills that are due in the middle of the month.

That is all.