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! :)