Saturday, December 1, 2007

Have no fear . . .

. . . it's SNOWING here! :D

I'm gon-na maaake it af-ter a-all! Da-dun-dun-dun----DUN!

I was going to listen to Car Talk, but now obviously I will TAKE A WALK through these fantastically fat flakes, bring along my coffee for warmth, get a granola scone at Main Street Bakery (oh yes yes that would be lovely) and pick up a couple groceries. Maybe I can even get a wreath from the guys selling Xmas trees on the corner of 39th St! EEEEEEE, winter excitement!!!

The snow seems to be slightly sticking, too! Even though this is no Minneapolis, my fears of "mild climate" are allayed for now. I might have to throw my hat up in the middle of Main Street!

Anybody get the blue references, or am I way too dorky? ;)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Post of many happenings!

I've been busy.

* Went to a wedding in Baltimore, had the most fun on Sunday at MaryElise's house with all my new cousin-in-laws (I think that's what they are?)! Also at the Nautilus Diner which has EVERYTHING and just wins. Also we used A's work GPS to get us around and it took us on a lovely scenic drive, during which i was missing the East Coast A LOT! oh well.

* Closed on a house, got the keys, commenced cleaning, priming, painting frenzy which is still in full swing. In fact, I don't know where my normal life went; I am over there all the time! But finally I'm painting on the colors, which look great, and it's very satisfying.

* Maggie helped me with some of the painting, and I'd like to note that her bread-and-cheese snack leftovers were my lunch today, thank you! :)

* My hand is newly suffering some sort of injury complete with unpleasant tingling, either from sheer overuse (overcompensating for my OTHER wrist, which was fractured as you may recall and I'm being careful with), or from overzealous paintbrush gripping/technique. Nothing a heating pad and 4 ibuprofen at a time can't handle!!

(But really, someone should just put me in two wrist braces and feed me bonbons all day long until I've fully healed. And I do mean those Bonbons(TM) that were little pellets of chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream, which used to come in the short paper cylinder and don't seem to exist anymore. Good luck finding them, now get on it!)

* Went to a delightfully friendly movie night, had fun, and will return this week for Bottle Rocket, yay!

* Just saw "The Darjeeling Limited", and everyone must see it! Wes Anderson and co. must have so much fun making those movies.

* Oh and one more thing: I think we have a very loud frog/toad living in our new back yard because I kept hearing it CROAKING this afternoon in the drizzle! I couldn't see it so it must have been chillin' in the plant life. Yay nature!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

fun website

I found a nifty website today, walkscore.com! It calculates how "walkable" your neighborhood is when you give it an address, based on how many stores, etc. on Google are within 1 mile. Now, it's a little skewed: I, for one, can easily walk 2 miles no problem, so I think things that are, say, 1.27 miles away should still be counted. Also the Google businesses can be off (a spa/massage center is a grocery store??). But overall I think it's a neat idea. Try it!

* My parents' house in Boston has a score of 75! Yup, lots of walking growing up. 7 minutes to the subway station. :)

* My old Pgh apartment had an 82!! I miss Bagel Factory almost daily. 0.31 miles to hot pastrami on multigrain bread, provolone, lettuce tomato mayo mustard sprouts. sniff sniff! :(

* Arvonn's old crusty apt. off Baum Blvd. had a whopping 89! (there is more to quality of life than walkability, however!)

* My current apartment has a score of 11 . . . yes people, the burbs are crap.

* The house we just bought (oh did I mention that?!) has a 34. But to be fair, there's a million things just above 1 but under 2 miles away, so for me personally it's not so bad.

Actually, even at the score of 11, Arvonn and I regularly do this crazy thing called "walking" from our apt. to the grocery store, di Tazza coffee shop, Fred Meyer, and sometimes Wild Oats/Border's/movie theatre, which are all about 1.3-1.6 miles away. So even the burbs can be walkable if you make them walkable! ;)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"winter"?

Last night A and I got some groceries. It was chilly, so I had a light jacket on. As we pulled into the parking lot, I pretended it was colder than it was, saying, "Wait! Don't turn off the heat until I have my stuff together! Let me put on my hat, and my gloves! Okay, ready? Let's do it, we can hustle and make it inside!!"

After smiling about it, it made me wonder: is it really not ever going to get that cold here? I mean, I guess it gets in the 30's here, but apparently it doesn't get, you know, cold. Conserving body heat, biting breeze, long underwear, esophagus-is-an-icicle, what-happened-to-my-toes cold. The kind of cold that makes you appreciate being warm!

Is this going to be weird? Will it make me sad? Will I ever get to wear my super-warm pink knit wool coat? I love winter, but will this new experience simply be one of perpetual fall until it warms up in the spring? I guess it will be rainy a lot, so maybe I'll still have some nice bone-chilling via the humid "wet cold". We shall see how I react to my first winter in a "mild climate".

Monday, September 17, 2007

Weekend Fun!

* Went up to Tacoma for a Mazda MX6/626 meetup! This was an event orchestrated by A's computer car friends, and even though only 5 other guys showed up and I was the only wife/extraneous person/female, it was kinda sorta fun! We drove through a pretty park (Point Defiance), BBQed, and then I slowly got bored as they talked shop, but it split up before I had to use our code word for "get me outta here!" so overall it was good. Would I go again? I truly cannot say. I think it would depend on my mood that day. :)

* At the BBQ, I triumphed with potato salad yet again! Also one guy brought this fantastic steak, strips of tri-tip (I think), pre-marinated overnight with Montreal Steak seasoning (woot, Montreal Steak, you gotta love it!!) and charcoal-grilled medium-rare --my mouth is watering just thinking about it-- it was AWESOME.

* I encountered the only "No Turn On Red" sign I have seen so far in the entire Northwest. It is in Longview, WA! Seriously, nobody here minds if you turn right on red, it is great!

* The best Dairy Queen is in Raymond, WA. The clerk wrote down my wacky custom Blizzard on the bottom of the cup so she'd remember, and then proceeded to execute my favorite combo perfectly. And the cup was overflowing with beautiful chocolate goodness, as if the cup was a cone and she stacked soft serve on top. Arvonn disliked his "cotton candy" Blizzard (hey, you have to try it, right?) so he chucked it and I gave him half of mine!

* PSA!! How to Order the Best Thing at Dairy Queen, The REAL Chocolate Extreme Blizzard, By Dorothy:
a) Order the "Chocolate Extreme Blizzard".
b) Ask for it to be made with chocolate soft serve, not vanilla.
c) Ask for "extra cocoa fudge".
d) IMPORTANT!! Don't order two things at once or they WILL screw it up.
e) Enjoy your chocolate overdose and thank me later. (after this, you'll wonder what's so extreme about their basic "Extreme"!)

If anyone decides to try this, email me your reviews!! Is it not the best??

* Back to weekend stuff. We drove home from Tacoma taking the scenic route out through Long Beach, Seaview, Ilwaco, etc., just for kicks. The beach we stopped at was pretty under a twilight sky, we ran backwards from huge incoming waves, looked at reflections in the super-flat watery surface of the sand, saw folks gathered around a bonfire . . . We determined that these beach towns might be good for a future long weekend at a B+B or something. Will keep it in mind!

* Arvonn bought a set of headlights off of one guy at the meet, and installed them today! So now we have some more effective lights with bonus fog light thingies. yay!

* Also today was the Van. Farmers' Market, listening to Car Talk on a purposely-hour-long scenic route drive home on Old Evergreen Highway with falling leaves and chilly air, exploring a couple riverside parks and a surprise trout hatchery (?!?!) with included nature hike. Pretty great!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

That's it?!

Am I the only one who wasn't all that satisfied with the outcome of Harry Potter 7?

I mean, it's a great story overall, etc. etc. but . . . sigh. Not the Grand Summary of Everything that I would have chosen.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

various thoughts

* Out here the mayo is "Best Foods" instead of Hellman's. I knew this double-name existed, but I didn't ever think about this: when I changed my address on my subscription to Oprah magazine (hey, it's a great magazine!), the ads for Hellman's turned into ads for Best (same ad, different brand). I think that is kind of neat!

* In this neighborhood surrounding the apartment, everybody has garage sales as opposed to yard sales -- because everyone has a garage! There are even signs pointing you to various "G-Sales". Isn't that cute in a weird way? Oh these suburbanites. They love their garages. I've never seen people hanging out on lawn chairs in/in front of their garage until I moved out here. To me it's like, "why . . .?" Even my relatives in suburbs back in Boston don't leave their garages gaping open to hang out in. Very bizarre. But then, west coasters like to hang in their basements, too, so I shouldn't be surprised. (??????????????????)

* If you have Joy of Cooking, look up the Curried Chickpeas with Vegetables recipe. It is very tasty!!! I substituted carrots for green beans, and a combo of milk and whipping cream for yogurt (because hey, I had no yogurt). Then you can put a tortilla in the toaster oven and it will puff up sort of like naan, and you can fold yourself a little packet of goodness.

See? Look at me eating all healthy! No meat, even! (though next time I think adding thin strips of beef would be extra extra good!)

* Since fracturing my wrist (ugh I'm still in a cast), I've been thinking about my bones, and about how little milk I was drinking up till then. (I used to drink a roaring rapids of milk during high school -- college, too -- but then I tapered off -- a lot.) I usually think of myself as a strong, shall we say, "robust" young lady, but this fracture really made me realize that maybe I'm not so hardy after all. (foolhardy, maybe -- ha ha ha!)

So now I'm trying to drink milk every day, and I'm rediscovering that it's a taste sensation! Especially with the spicy recipe above. :) So ladies, drink your milk, get your calcium (and vitamin D to absorb it, =SUNLIGHT) and don't fracture anything stupidly on a beach in BC, like me!

* oh yes, and I had fun in Portland the other night with some pals, and saw Dirty Dancing on the big screen! What up Smith Mountain Lake? The movie was filmed right near A's hometown in VA; I impressed folks with the fun fact that I've been there!! Anyway, that movie really motivated me to get fit!! Right now I'm probably on par with the sister's hula dance, and that's . . . not ideal. Well, I'll get there someday. Maybe not all dirty dancing, but you know, possessing poise, grace, buff arms etc.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

bits

* Arvonn reminds me that yesterday's posts were probably all affected by this thick marine-grade coating of stress in my life right now. (The deal on a house I thought we were buying fell through, so we're back to looking.) So I'd say that's probably true! I'm going to embrace the west coast vibe as much as possible. Probably starting with buying a ranch house, ha!

* Please note my friends' links on the right, and shop at Le Boutique de Maggie! Sie braucht dein Geld. Danke!

* I miss Doctor Who! Every week I was all excited to obtain the latest episode fresh from England, and now I have to wait till next Spring?! I feel like a friend moved away. :(

* Heh, I guess I'm the friend who moved away, myself. *pensive*

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I'm on a roll here

After visiting a restaurant in OR:

Arvonn: "See? Not everyone is crabby; the waitress was nice to us!"
Dorothy: "Yeah well, she's paid to be nice to us! She'd better be!!"
Arvonn: "That is so East Coast!"
Dorothy: "What?! It's true!!"

Am I hopeless? I don't even realize what I'm doing!!

as discussed . . .

. . . with the realtor originally from NY and then MN:

East Coast nice: I'll bluntly tease you about your flaws along with my own and we'll all have a laugh

Minnesota nice: I'll smile and be polite and then make fun of you later behind your back

Northwest nice: I'll be genuinely nice and respond to your East Coast nice with silence or a blank stare, because I'm offended??

I need help determining the third one . . .

observation

Recently Arvonn and I have been feeling pretty good about moving to Vancouver. Not just because Vancouver is a pretty good place, but also because we've had some weird experiences in Portland. My thoughts started solidifying after some girls came up to us at the Vancouver Farmers' Market and asked us some survey questions about this very topic (it was for some art or communication class). Portland vs. Vancouver.

We've been discussing this odd feeling of having come here for one thing (being near Portland), but discovering that it's not all that great. Instead, we like where we are for its own reasons, which makes me feel really good about choosing this spot, but also disappointed about our neighbor across the river.

I think that living in Pittsburgh, I got used to being in a smaller city. Even going home to Boston was becoming overwhelming. So for this move, we decided we wanted a place that is no bigger than Pittsburgh. Vancouver is way smaller (yet growing instead of shrinking like Pgh). Portland is almost as big as Boston, and 4 times the land area, which makes it extremely overwhelming! Hmm, well, we knew that, so we chose to be conveniently nearby and go into the "twin city" when we feel like it, instead of living in the midst of all the chaos.

But the thing is, almost 4 months being here, we hardly ever go into Portland! It's sort of a waste. I like the Vancouver Farmers' Market better than the Portland one (way calmer and cheaper!). Traffic into/out of Portland is worse than Boston, so it can be a huge pain to go there. Walking across the I-5 bridge is pretty scary, and bicyclists do NOT yield to peds like they're supposed to. :( Moving intra-Vancouver (and rest of SW WA area) is no problem. All of my movie/grocery/park/day-to-day needs have so far been met in Vancouver. Esther Short Park has a different cool event going on every time I go down there! They screen free movies on a building wall on Main Street in the summer. People sit out on their porches and do gardening and strike up conversations. You can see all the mountains just as well from Vancouver as from Portland. And hey let's face it, we're shopping for a house and we're just not going to get anything we want for any fair price in Portland. Sure most of Vancouver is 'burby, but apparently I don't mind.

The larger issue (and this is a sweeping generalization of strangers!) is the people in Portland. I know, I hardly know anyone so I should try harder before I write people off, but the last couple times A. and I went into Portland, people we dealt with were just unbearable!

The folks at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore have a really bad attitude! Nobody smiled at us or said a word to us, but there was plenty of staring. Plus all the signs saying how they will not help you in any way to carry anything to your car, stuff like that -- I don't think I'll be back.

Then just walking around on several occasions -- no one smiled or said hi as they passed by on the street -- which happens every time in Vancouver! So I get used to it up here, then go down and everyone in PDX seems so rude. But it's a bigger city, so maybe it's just getting up to a Boston level, where people also don't acknowledge your presence because they just don't care. Hey, whatever, that's where I come from, but I've learned that I actually appreciate other people more now; it's nice to be cheery.

Also the vibe in PDX that Vancouver is some place to be scorned or laughed at is not cool. I never like it when people have to get all snobby about where they live. And all the "Vantucky" stuff is bizarro -- obviously these West coasters haven't actually been to Kentucky, WV, etc. -- it is nothing like Vancouver!!

I wonder if somehow I'm being "East Coast" about all this. We were joking with one realtor about how East Coast we are -- we had no idea we were doing anything different, but he picked up on some mystery vibe right away and we had a good laugh (he's originally from NY -- takes one to know one I guess -- he said we're "refreshing"!). But if I'm East Coast and I'm finding Portland people to be rude, arrogant, etc. . . . what does it all mean?? I've heard that there is a sort of Northwest introverted behavior because of the rain and stuff, everyone sort of keeps to themselves and is super quiet and sensitive and what have you. That's cool with me, but geez, it sure comes off the wrong way sometimes!

I also think that we're too fat for Portland. Everyone down there is all healthy and slim and wearing form-fitting emo garb. We get a lot of crabby stares. But it makes sense that skinny people are crabby, because they're hungry, right? (ha ha, joke!) Maybe we're also too in love or something; there are lots of singles down there and perhaps they're resentful of us holding hands??

I'm trying to stay open to Portland and give people a chance, of course -- and I like the people I've already met! :) -- but I never thought it'd be an issue. I guess I really may not be hip enough for this city of hipness . . . but hey, lucky for me I don't really live there! And since hipness inherently makes fun of others, I don't really want to be hip anyway. I'll just keep shopping tax-free down there, woot!

As Arvonn says, we are really smart because we chose the specific place that's best for us in the area. Now we're just trying to buy a house!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

In my life:

House buying negotiating, beach visiting, sis-in-law travelling and Portland exploration, coffee drinking vitamin-remembering trying not to go absolutely bonkers!

Friday, July 20, 2007

My old landlord bought me a car!

Well, maybe it's more accurate to say that my old security deposit from the Pgh apartment FINALLY (<-- did I make that stand out enough?) came in the mail today, and what do you know? It was the same amount as the car we just bought! Yes, today we purchased a car for a 3-digit price from some lovely Russian folks in Portland. The 12-year-old son did the heavy translating. :)

So thank you, Vicki, for buying me this lovely 1990 Mazda 626 hatchback with oscillating air vents. That was a nice touch. And so sentimental of you to find me one that is the exact same color (and this time, all one color) as my briefly-owned yet beloved '91 Accord wagon, Corduroy. I believe the color was named "Seattle Silver". How fitting! Good luck renting out our old apartment . . . ha ha ha ha!!!!

PS- the frankendiesel is not happening, so we turned instead to an old standby: the Mazda!

PPS- Guess what cars on the west coast lack? RUST! As in, this car has none. Corduroy is zooming around Regent Square somewhere, its underside crumbling away . . . but no rust in the wheel wells thanks to moi!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hooray for the beach!

It is amazing how inspiring a trip to the coast can be. On Sunday, Arvonn and I up and decided to drive out to the beach(es) just because, well, we can! It was beautiful, inspiring, calming, and made me so happy that we moved all the way out here, because I just couldn't experience this stuff if we had moved to, say, Vermont. (I have to get some photos up on my website!) We drove through farmland and old-growth forests, wending through secret treebranch-tunnels over the road to get to beaches, cliffs, twisted windblown pine trees out of a Japanese print. And then on the shore, I swear the call of the ocean was luring me in because even with my bathing suit back in the car, I was a split-second away from just jumping right in fully clothed! But the thought of wet clothes all the way back deterred me, probably for the better. There is a 100% chance of going back to that beach, so no worries!

Actually, I know of one other place in the world that is as amazing as, and eerily similar to, the Oregon coast: Cape Breton! :) I'm excited that we live so near an area that reminds me of our honeymoon!! Hmm, maybe someday we can rent or get a beachy cottage! What is it about the beach that makes dreaming so easy? I love it!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Hi there!

Freshly back from 2 weeks in the other Vancouver, with **NEW!** fractured wrist, re-found sketching skillz, general annoyance toward scientists, and big hugs for Canada. Dodged all sorts of fireworks going off EVERYWHERE last night (OMG!!), and have acquired corned beef and cabbage to make for dinner tomorrow.

Details of all this when I'm not kicking the plug out of my computer, which thanks to those outlets that never reeeeeally let plugs make a firm connection (you know the ones?), happens with some frequency.

Didja miss me?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

stay on track

Now, before you think that I'm 100% healthy over here with organic fresh food and all that, let me make note of some new junk food purveyors that make it as hard to stay healthy as the farmers' markets make it easy. A. and I stumbled upon these places while being kind to ourselves (right, Bec?), but we just can't go back! They're too tasty, too tempting, and thoroughly maddening. It's not fair!

* Burgerville milkshakes. The burgers at Burgerville aren't spectacular (although apparently they're all-natural and local and stuff), but the shakes are yummy soft-serve with a straw. Okay, so I've had two of them, but in our last desperation-hunger trip to Burgerville, I had unsweetened iced tea! So there!

* Sheridan's Frozen Custard. You know how good the Rita's custard is? Yeah, take it and make a zillion sundae combinations with it, and you have this place. I almost went here again, but I realized I didn't need it! group hug.

* Wienerschnitzel. The first and most funny thing about this place is that it doesn't even sell Wienerschnitzel. Oh-kaaay. It sells hot dogs and burgers and pastrami sandwiches, or the most evil and delicious of all, hot dogs and burgers smothered in pastrami!! We had to try one of each, and after realizing it was the best food ever, and it was killing us with each bite, we vowed never to return.

I have SUCH self-control here people. If you are naturally thin, say a little thank you prayer each day, and then go stuff your face at Wienerschnitzel for me. I'll be here soaking my chickpeas and steaming my asparagus. *glum*

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Fred Meyer

Arvonn and I found the best Fred Meyer ever! (It is by 164th and McGillivray, for anyone reading in Vancouver.)

But before we get to that, let me explain the concept. Fred Meyer is this half grocery store, half Kmart type of place. But no, it's not exactly like Kmart, and it doesn't feel as trashy/cheapy/blue-wavelengths-of-fluorescent-lights-are-blinding-me as Wal-Mart. It has a lot of different things, from kitchen stuff and vaccuum cleaners, to clothes and jewellery. I don't know, the way it's laid out it's like a small, self-contained, partially-useful mall. The grocery store is tacked on one end, where if you entered on that side you might not see all the other consumer opportunities that await you. The entrances are marked, "Entrance A: FOOD" and so on. Very odd!

Well, I've heard that other "Freddy's" (as they're locally called) stores can be pretty run-down. The first one we went to was as described above, not bad at all, really. BUT, this new one we found is HUGE! It's like a grocery store+Whole Foods+Canadian Tire+Sur La Table+like everything else under the sun. We were amazed! Oh, and all these Freddy's sell affordable LeSportsac knockoff bags! Sigh, as much as I am tempted, they really are cheap and look like they'll fall right apart. oh, well!

My, how you've grown!

I have to say that I am impressed with the Vancouver Farmers' Market! It has tripled (at least) in size since the first time A. and I went! Must be the summer season heating up. I mean, it was nice before, but I admit to being a little confused as to why it was such a big deal. But this past weekend, it had expanded out onto the area formerly known as the parking area, and all around in an L shape with more vendors, more crafts, more fun! Still not as big as Portland, but hey, I am impressed. And it's closer! :)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

city comparison

As looked on city-data.com (the best website ever, with FORUMS!), here is why "out West" seems so fronkin' big to me (and adds up the miles on the odometer):

Boston land area (sq mi): 48.4
Pittsburgh land area: 55.6
Portland land area: 134.3

Yeah okay, that refreshes the ol' memory! Vancouver is 42.8 sq mi . . . . more like home, I guess, but Boston would kill for all this empty and sprawled :( space! Boston squeezes more population than Portland into 1/3 the space. Aw, I miss it!

weird wacky West

Random observations, new to the East Coast gal:

* They have Rite Aid out here -- and Rite Aid sells plants! Like hanging baskets, herbs, and tomato plants for your backyard. How odd! Walgreens has plants, too. I guess there's more nature here to go around or something?

* Stores here (at least so far) don't use AC! One semi-hot day recently, I knew I'd be indoors shopping most of the time, so I thought, "well, I'll wear pants instead of shorts, or I'll probably freeze." Every store I went into was the same temp. as outside, so of course I was sweating! Now I have learned the pleasant fact that summer outside = summer inside! Of course, the flip side is that when it's really hot out, you get no relief when you walk into, say, Home Depot or a coffee shop. But I think I really like the no AC thing! :)

* I will do another post later about all the lovely lovely and ridiculously omnipresent coffee out here, but I'll save it till after Rebecca is done going off caffeine for a month. ;)

* I have met fewer vegetarians here than I knew in Pittsburgh! This is odd to me, since I thought of "the Portland type" as perhaps being vegetarian. But, thankfully, Maggie and her friends are all about meat! Amazingly, *I* was the one checking to make sure she ate meat when she first invited me over -- she didn't even give it a thought! Nice! Now maybe (since everyone at the BBQ was chowing down on burgers, sausages, etc.) I can go back to not giving it a thought. Sweet! (Most meat at the BBQ *was* organic, however, so that is more the stereotype I was thinking about I guess. Works for me!)

* Mysteriously, the Corolla is getting C-R-A-P-P-Y gas mileage out here (hovering at 30 MPG instead of 40). Still unsure why this is the case (it's just not happy out here? it heard us talking about getting a different car?) . . . but ugh, between that and the larger land area we cruise in out here (it is so misleading, you don't think you're going far but it's really spread out, even Portland!!), we've had to fill up probably more in 1 month here than in 3 months in Pgh.

* Also gas is crazy expensive, $3.25-$3.50/ gallon! When we move to downtown (Vancouver, that is), I'm all about pulling a David and getting a bike! :) From there it's about 10 miles to downtown Portland. I've biked maybe . . . 6 miles at one time (in NS) and not gotten too tired . . . hmm. Arvonn wants a tandem recumbent tricycle, ha!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

So much activity!

This past weekend was great! First there was Pirates of the Carribbean on Friday -- rated "arrrrrgh!" of course. ;) Not the most fulfilling ending, but fun nonetheless.

The Saturday Portland Farmers' Market -- what a COOL place!! We couldn't find it at first (a little wandering is good, though; we found a crazy Escheresque fountain), but getting closer, you couldn't miss it. So many people, families, little kids, cloth bags full of bouquets, comfortable shoes, sundresses, smiles, sights and smells! It is about 10 times the size of the Vancouver Farmers' Market. I first scouted the "aisles" with Arvonn, who then laid down in the grass and let me mingle through the crowd picking up asparagus, snap peas, honey (from a true honey enthusiast!!), herb plants, and shawarma, yum! Now I've got mint, sage, basil, and cilantro in a big bowl planter on the patio. :)

Needless to say, we'll be back there! Then we wandered over and said hi to Maggie at the Saturday Market (the art place, not the farmer place) and got invited to a barbecue! score! By this point I was kind of done with crowds (and the Sat. Market crowd is more . . . intense), so we meandered back to the car.

On the way we stopped at a Columbia store where I bought my official "Northwest drizzle light jacket" -- an expensive one at that -- but it fit perfectly and I felt really good about myself and attractive in it, so who can blame me? For once I shopped practically AND emotionally! (and for once something fit perfectly!)

Sunday was kind of blah and full of errands, so we can skip it.

Monday, Arvonn and I went out kayaking on Vancouver Lake! It was fantabulous!!! We paddled around an island and saw squawking herons (or were they pterodactyls?), huge eagle-type birds, and then . . . a sockeye salmon jumped into our boat!

No, just kidding, but we saw crazy fish LEAPING out of the water, straight up and spinning around, all around us! So funny! One of them was huge, it had to have been the biggest salmon EVER. Also you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams all from the lake! Another place to go back to!

In the evening we took our cookies and potato salad to the BBQ in Laurelhurst Park. Maggie and Brandon have great friends; everybody was really nice and we had a fun time. So now we know, let's see . . . seven? more people! We ate lots of food, talked, played charades, met some other passing friends who had a newborn, kept other dogs from making Maggie's dog too hyper. :) I guess these folks are Maggie's posse so we'll see them again! Everyone seemed happy to meet us, and ohmigawd, everybody LOVED the potato salad!!! Like beyond belief "this is the best potato salad ever" loved it! I'm really happy, and I later told my mom (it's her family recipe), and she was glad, too! She said my grandma must have been there in spirit (for Memorial Day and all). :) If you have the recipe (I know some of you do!), make it for your next picnic! It's no lie, EVERYONE LOVES IT!

We stayed until after dark (love that high-latitude lasting sunlight! It was like 10pm!), and then drove home happy. Yay friends! Yay lake! Yay our new Northwest home, feels more comfy all the time!

Monday, May 21, 2007

it finally rained!

So, the spell of sunny glamour weather finally ended yesterday, as A. and I cavorted thru Portland in the drizzle, Peet's coffee (and wicked good Assam tea!) in hand. We stopped (inadvertantly, I swear!) at Powell's and bought hiking/kayaking guides, which are really inspir-o-matic! Yay, now we can get out to NATURE!

We've also been going around Vancouver neighborhoods picking up the info-flyers on houses for sale, just for kicks. I guess we're starting to think of that next step already, even though we're trying to relax and be chill 'cause we just got here! But if this crazy housebuying affliction is hitting me now, I'll just go with the flow. I think a new spreadsheet is in order! Time to figure out, list, rank, and otherwise analyze traits we both want in a house (and its location). Then find a realtor?! I'm trying to sit back and enjoy this new place without moving on to the next project, but I can't help it!

I did have fun at Maggie's passion party on Friday -- she has photos on her blog! So good to meet a bunch of new, friendly people! I want to have her and Brandon over for dinner to return all this awesome hospitality! :) And I did go to the tile store with them, but that was fun! I think that errand helped spur on this desire to own a home -- because I'll probably go there again to spruce up my future place with fun tile!

Friday, May 18, 2007

adjusting

It's nice that the grocery stores here have alcohol along with everything else. Not that I even really drink, but it's nice. PA won't even sell their beer and wine in the same place, and you can forget about cheap lambic at Trader Joe's! Here? Not a problem; there's cheap lambic in the grocery store! :)

Cooking on an electric stove is interesting, by which I mean frustrating, by which I mean crappy.
Although I am impressed by how fast water boils (and keeps boiling!) on that thing. Must be the special "huge" burner. Needless to say, if a future house is not run on gas, I may have to get all snobby and own some propane tank so I can cook in a normal way (NO MORE of this electric nonsense, ye gads who can stand it?!!).

Along the same lines, I am completely mystified by how this apartment is heated. Now, I understand that some homes don't have radiators, but this place doesn't even have the little rectangular vents on the floor like at my cousins' house. The only vent/fan is in the bathroom. ?? We don't have the heat on, this place is well-insulated, and summer's coming, so I really shouldn't care, but it still weirds me out. I'll take regular ol' radiators, thank you!!

Ooh, temperature! First off, it's been absolutely gorgeous every single day since we arrived. For an area that is supposed to get a lot of rain and clouds, it's been a billion times nicer than Pittsburgh!! And even when it's shorts weather during the day, it turns to a pleasant, cooler, Nova-Scotia-summer-evening, need-my-Zippy temperature at night. Ahhh, no disgusting breathing-oven-air summer nights? Works for me!

Unrelated: there are a lot of "monster trucks" out here. Not something you see in, oh, Pittsburgh or Boston. ha! Also lots of manual shift cars, and bicyclists, and runners. hmm. I also saw, stencilled on the ground in a bike lane, a stick figure on a unicycle juggling 3 balls. Wacky Portlanders!

Portland is big and crazy and I think (for now) that I may prefer Vancouver. (It was here first, after all!) Time will tell!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The bounty of the NW

So what do you do first thing when you move to a totally foreign place? Buy groceries of course! Surely it's a survival instinct.

There are so many fun and different grocery items here! Take Costco, my magical favorite place to shop (that is a 100% responsible do-gooder company, too; do not confuse with evil Sam's Club and the like!!). The local Costco still has Sabra hummus (thank goodness), but they also have a wealth of other great items like: really high-fiber grainy good Canadian organic flax bread; their own store brand of coffee beans that are freshly roasted in the store and insanely good; local organic half-and-half; Bob's Red Mill muesli; and on and on. All for SUPER CHEAP!! You know me, I am cheap, and when I say it's cheap, it's a mighty good deal.

BUT. This barely compares to the wonder that is Winco. Winco truly has "24 hours of savings"! Bulk foods! (basmati rice! brown rice! tea! dutch cocoa! dried apricots! spices! EVERYTHING, it's like PennMac and WholeFoods combined, on steroids, for a fraction of the cost!!) Meats of all kinds, cheap cheap cheap! Local milk for $2.18 a gallon, I'm dying! I think I have found the MarketBasket of the West.

I've noticed that there really is a focus on local food here -- and it's contagious! When you have a choice of something from Minnesota and something from Battle Ground, WA , you get all excited to buy locally. It's great! And I can do it because it doesn't cost an arm and a leg and I don't have to go out of my way; it's like the standard lifestyle. I guess it helps that so much food is grown out this way. Strawberries at the regular grocery store taste awesome, and I can only surmise it's 'cause California is mere hours away, not days. I went to the Vancouver farmers' market as well, which was nice and affordable, though I don't mind paying more to the farmer standing in front of me.

And I haven't even gone into Portland for groceries yet! Who knows what other local-organic-healthy-friendly-treats await me there?! It's very inspir-o-matic to be healthy here, which is just what I strategized back in Pgh. Excellent. This alone gets me, oh, 40% closer to getting fit!

Monday, May 14, 2007

PGHPA-->VANWA (part 1B)

Sheridan-------->The Dalles, OR
Big Sky!! Montana is just gorgeous, with 360-degree craggy mountains and pines and fried pork chop sandwiches in Butte! Idaho = FJORDS, I swear, all up and down with tiny towns tucked all around. Let me also mention here that an iPod on shuffle with 1500 songs in the queue is wicked awesome for road trips in every way.

Past Spokane WA, the land turned all scrubby "high desert" and was almost like NM, but green! Really crazy nice Monet colors reflecting off the landscape the whole way along . . . that Orbital song "Little Fluffy Clouds" kept playing in my head (never got to it on shuffle).

We really really kept on driving so we'd only have a tiny bit to do on our last day. I'm amazed we got all the way to The Dalles!

The Dalles (what the heck is up with that name)-->Vancouver, WA
Our last day was the nicest weather-wise as we cruised the Columbia River, reminded of our trip way back when. We really started to feel like we made it! ("We're leaving Pittsburgh" switched to "We left Pittsburgh" back in Iowa, but "We've arrived and it's beautiful and all this nature sure beats the pants off Pittsburgh and ohmigawd we're HERE!" didn't hit until this last couple hours.)

We got to the apartment at last, did a ton of paperwork (WA is really thorough and consistent about renting -- makes PA look either laid-back or sloppy!), and ended up eating Jaegerschnitzel at a German restaurant -- woot!

So, we're here. More from this crazy past "first week", this week!

PittsburghPA-->VancouverWA (Part 1A)

Now that the kitchen here is in some semblance of order (very important!), I can recap the last week+ of life-change (albeit bit-by-bit, so stay with me)!

Part One is our drive across the country. We took the northern route on Emily's advice, and when your grueling 4-day road trip feels like a vacation, you know it was a good idea!

Pittsburgh-->Des Moines, IA
Flat flat flat and flat. Had some White Castles!! I just love those things, probably because they remind me of visiting my grandparents, just like the aroma of Indian food reminds me of their neighborhood and walking by the beautiful mannequins in Sari Palace. But I digress.

Des Moines-->Sheridan, WY
Now it's getting interesting! South Dakota is rolling green hilly terrain with COOL lightning all over, flashing crazy shapes such as the flux capacitor (!!), and a big black cloud of The Nothing in the distance. Kind of scary because you're heading right into it, but not as scary as the tornado that ate Kansas the same day. After figuring out the reports you're hearing on AM radio are a couple states away (even though it's snowing and 50MPH winds are scaring the crap outta you), you're really glad you went north!!

The billboards across SD are quite funny, advertising from hundreds of miles away the merits of "1800 Town", "Reptile Gardens", the "Corn Palace" (which we happened to stop at, reveling in the requisite disappointment -- it's just a corn facade), and Wall Drug. We stopped at Wall Drug as well, but not before going through . . .

Badlands National Park!!! What an amazing place. I can't post photos just yet, but I will!! It's a different planet out there. It was too bad we couldn't spend more time, but we had to at least mosey through. It definitely beats Mt. Rushmore . . . and I haven't even been to Mt. Rushmore!

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

We made it!

Comin' atcha from Washington! (no, not "DC"!) More later when my real computer gets set up.

I heart it here already! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

there goes the bedroom!

Well, we sold our bed on Sunday! Leaving me to create a nestlike pile of rugs, blakets, and collected puffy softness to sleep on. (and no, this does not include all the dust bunnies around here, ha ha, gross!)

I can give my dresser to the neighbors at any time (they officially bought it), and hopefully someone will buy A's dresser (it's nice!), and then we'll have no bedroom furniture, woot!

Actually, the neighbors officially bought a couple of these rugs we're now sleeping on . . . hmm . . . I'm torn between the desire to cross stuff off the list, and the desire to keep my back intact, away from the hardwood floor. Verily, hmm!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

How to move, part 2

* Put everything you want to sell in one place (hmm, like your sun porch!), photograph it, and post it all to Craigslist. Also be sure to sell a few things to your downstairs neighbors
who just moved here from India and don't have any furniture. (it's so interesting; Jacintha says her kids are FREEZING and crying in the 50-degree weather, and they're using quilts and winter clothes and space heaters and have their heat up to [gulp] 85 and stuff. I guess southern India really is HOT!!)

* When you disassemble shelves/bookcases, be sure to put all the fasteners (along with the proper IKEA allen wrench, if necessary) in a ziplock bag, and mark what shelf it goes to on the bag with a Sharpie. I usually tape the bag to the boards, but this time the fasteners will go in one box, and read below for the boards!

* Get a roll of 2-foot-wide packing plastic wrap from Office Max (because they don't seem to have it anywhere else) and SHRINK WRAP all those boards! Man oh man, that plastic is great. You can make these bundles that are way easier to handle, and they all sort of stick together, and everything's protected. Also good for anything that's too bulky for a box! Oh, uh, save your thoughts about how the heck you're going to recycle the plastic for later; the most important thing now is to get your stuff from Point A to Point B! (maybe it can be reused or sold to another mover? ugh, later later later, time to pack!!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

How to Move, part 1

* Get one of those big metal packing tape dispensers with the handle -- it's SO worth it!! Also extra tape, like from Costco.
* Watch Craigslist for free boxes, and nab 'em!
* Use banker's boxes with lids -- nice.
* Devise a labelling system and mark each box with a Sharpie (D1, D2, A1, A2 etc.) and keep a running legend on a notepad so you know what's in each box.
* Tape up and label each box as soon as it's full.
* Keep the legend, pen, and Sharpie in the same place at all times so you know where they are!
* Pack boxes to the brim, using newspaper if needed to stuff 'em full.
* Crumple all those stupid free grocery circulars and inane fliers for padding! It's the only time you'll ever WANT those things. Get more from friends!

more later . . .

Thursday, March 22, 2007

first post

Moving across the country in less than 6 weeks.
How's that for an opening post? :)