Memorial. Pork. Marriage.

I’ve tried at least a half dozen times to start a blog entry in my head and can’t get past the whole “I don’t feel like writing and can’t think of anything to write about” internal conversation. I really don’t feel like writing. I’m physically tired and emotionally exhausted; a culmination of an extremely short stay in Ely, the passing of a close family friend, and scrambling to get chores done around the house…chores that should’ve been done months ago, hence the term Spring Cleaning. We were struck by the kind of motivation that only a friend visiting from out of town can inspire.

Since Mark already blogged about our unexpected trip to Nevada, and I’m not feeling particularly inspired today, I’ll let the bullets do the talking.

  • I still can’t get used to the idea that Hammer is gone.  One of my dad’s best friends, I met him just a few weeks after meeting my own dad for the first time.  Visiting Ely was very emotional.  Not only had we lost a great guy, I was reminded of how much I miss my friends and family.  I cried a lot, but also laughed just as much.  Especially when sharing our favorite stories about him.  We should all be so lucky to leave this world so beloved.

 

  • My renters are complete dirtbag assholes and now I get to waste lots of time, money, and frustration on the eviction process and getting my house back to the same condition it was before they moved in (and suing them for the expenses).  I’ve been contemplating kicking them out anyways since they’ve never paid their rent on time.  Ever.  The house is up for sale, but it’s hard to get people interested in a place that is filthy, has a yard that is bare dirt and weeds, broken lattice around the front deck, blinds with missing/broken slats, and carpet that is frayed and buckled.  Seriously…they’ve been there less than a year.  Assholes!

 

  • Mark and I took off early from work on Friday so that we could pick up our marriage license in Portland.  The Multnomah County Court offices are just a few blocks from one of our favorite neighborhoods, so we stopped by a bar that caught our eye the last time we were on Hawthorne.  The Roadside Attraction is just that…an Attraction.  We fell in love with the eclectic décor and rustic southern/Polynesian/Sanford & Son atmosphere.  I know I’m not doing it justice trying to describe it here, but Mark and I agree that when it comes time decorate our own patio, we want it just like that place.  A blogger friend joined us and we ended up at Lardo for dinner. A Cubano to die for and dirty fries with ‘pork scraps’.  I’m still drooling.

 

  • Are we really getting married in less than three weeks?!  Still can’t wrap my head around that one.

 

  • Aside from grocery shopping today, I’ve done diddly squat.  As soon as we got home and put everything away, I parked it on the recliner and haven’t moved since.  All Sundays should be this lazy.

Gallstones = Love

Two years ago today, I was on my way back to Mom’s apartment after a 5am trip to the emergency room. A gallstone attack threw a wrench in what was left of a ten day vacation/road trip. It was my first big trip after the divorce and I was going to make the most of it. I had already contemplated leaving Ely, so a couple days were spent in Boise to check out the city as a possible future home. I then spent a few days in Seattle with my mom. Lastly, I was to detour to Vancouver, WA, (another place I was considering making my new home) for a couple of nights. There was a blogger I had met in person a few months earlier and since we liked the same kind of music, I invited him to see AWOLNATION while I was in town.

Even when I left the hospital, I was sure I would still be packing up to head south, albeit a little later than planned. I’d had several gallstone attacks before and the pain usually lasted only four or five hours. (Of course, I didn’t know it was gallstones at the time or the stupid things would’ve been taken care of a lot sooner.) I figured I had a few weeks to get back home and settled after vacation and then would schedule gallbladder surgery. Mom and I discussed at length how exactly that would happen. Living in Ely complicated things greatly. After my sister had complications from an appendectomy, I refused to go under the knife at the local hospital. This left driving to Vegas or Salt Lake for the procedure. But I was single, so who was going to drive me home afterwards, and who would help me around the house those first few days of recovery?

Thankfully, all those concerns were for naught. The pain never did go away so by the next morning I had an appointment for a surgery consultation. I left with another appointment for surgery, to take place four days later.

And this…all these events play a significant part in where I am today.

You see, because I had to have surgery, I also had to cancel my plans with Mark. That blogger I had met a few months previously. Losing out on $40 for concert tickets and $60 for the last minute hotel cancellation was nothing compared to the disappointment I felt at not being able to hang out with him. Since he wasn’t working and I was laid up, we spent a lot of time texting and messaging on Facebook. Interestingly, our conversations went from playful and flirty to something more serious and intimate. He was still dating long distance and I had had a couple of really bad online dating experiences. Also, he had just self-published his first book and damn if there isn’t something sexy about a guy who is so smart and talented.

I was so sure that I would be driving back to Ely a couple days after surgery. Nevermind that it’s a fourteen hour drive and I was going at it solo. While I was still in recovery, the surgeon found my mom and told her he absolutely did not want me driving back until he had seen me first…six days later. As uncomfortable as it was to sit, lay down, drive, eat, sleep, blink, and breathe, I conceded that I couldn’t push myself and would have to take my time driving home. This meant splitting it up over two days and though the logical choice was to drive back the way I came; through eastern Washington and staying overnight in Boise, I decided to stay in Vancouver instead. It added a couple hours to my drive, but I still wanted to see Mark and figured a nice dinner out would make up for cancelling on him.

Funny how that dinner played such a pivotal role in our relationship. He was beyond frustrated with his current relationship and I was still licking my wounds from my last dating disaster. Throw some tequila in the mix with a solid friendship lasting almost ten years…well, it’s not surprising at all that we spent the night together. And it was amazing. I felt more passion and intimacy in those fourteen hours than I did during my entire fourteen year marriage. The next morning, we stopped at a coffee shop down the street and while waiting to order, Mark placed his hand on the small of my back and I realized that this was not a gesture made by someone that just wanted one fun night with a friend. Even though we kept telling each other that.

Yes, I left Vancouver convinced this had been a one time thing. It was a fun time, but I had my life in Ely and had sworn off dating, he had his absentee girlfriend in California. But then I was back in Nevada and couldn’t stop thinking about him. And then he was planning a trip down to spend a few days with me. We had to know if it had been a fluke. It was just the tequila, right?

But that visit was just as wonderful and three days after he returned home…September 14th, 2011, we were officially a couple.

Funny how things work out, eh? And now, two years from that date, we’ll officially be husband and wife.

Mixmaster

It’s Sunday morning.  Mark’s stereo cabinet is tuned to Kink FM for their Sunday Morning Brunch broadcast and I have a steaming cup of Kozy Fire coffee at my elbow.  Banana bread is in the oven and Mark is upstairs, happily tapping away.  Or, he damn well better be.

He started a new book, but is only a few pages in.  We’ve brainstormed a few times about different plot twists and character development, but he hasn’t sat down and written anything in a while.  I’m forcing him to change that.  Just like anything done well, we have to practice and maintain our stamina.  I asked that we set aside an hour or two each Sunday to just write.  He can work on his book, I’ll knock out a blog post.  Here’s hoping this exercise in discipline will kick start his creative juices and a new book gets published soon.  He’s also talking about re-vamping some of his earlier work.  One book in particular has me extra excited.  Oh, and he showed me a short story he found while cleaning out his filing cabinet yesterday.  The first sentence alone completely blew me away.

Having an awesomely talented writer husband is pretty damn sexy, by the way.

Also on today’s agenda is a trip to the mall for conveyor belt sushi and The Conjuring at Cinetopia.  We then plan on driving out to Yacolt to see Lucia Falls.  Mark has wanted to take me out there since last year and we finally have a free afternoon to do so.  I just bought a Washington state recreational atlas so I plan on driving us home on back roads.  I’ve had a particular interest in the more rural areas around Vancouver; Hockinson, Brush Prairie, Yacolt.  We don’t want to be in Mark’s townhouse forever and now that his kids are living with their mom full time, we have the opportunity to start looking for a new place.  Unfortunately, like most people nowadays, Mark owes more than his townhouse is worth, so we’ll probably rent it for a year or two before buying a place together.  I’m also trying to sell my house in Nevada.  Now that I’m in the mortgage business, I have a better handle on how to be more strategic with our properties.  Of course, the easier option would be for Mark to let his place go in a short sale, but neither of us want him to take that kind of hit on his credit.

All this talk of moving and house hunting has brought about some interesting conversations between us.  Mark loves Portland.  He loves the hip pocket neighborhoods of Mississippi Avenue, Hawthorne, and Alberta.  Granted I love the architecture of the houses in those areas and the ability to walk/bike to some of our favorite haunts holds a lot of appeal, BUT, I am sooooo not an urban person.  The thought of fighting for street parking and commuter traffic makes me gnash my teeth.  Property values are significantly higher across the river.  You can’t pump your own gas and they have state income tax.  We’ve kicked around the idea of living there for a year or so…just to have that experience.  My only problem is, how can we save money to buy our house when any extra money we have is taken up by a higher cost of living?

We still have a few months to figure things out.  If we do move, it won’t be until after the first of the year.  Until then, I’ll keep making my case for living out in the sticks.

One thing I don’t have to worry about when it comes to our new home, is how to decorate it.  Mark and I both have a love for all things retro, although I lean more towards 50’s era décor while he adores all things 60’s and 70’s.  Anything in avocado green makes his heart sing.  Ours will be an eclectic home, for sure.

It’s no wonder that I’ve been giddy over our latest acquisition:

Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster Mixer, circa 1975

Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster Mixer, circa 1975

 

We stopped at Value Village yesterday to drop off a couple boxes of toys and my two-drawer filing cabinet.  I didn’t even hesitate to pick this up when I saw it on the shelf, in all it’s harvest gold-ish glory.  This morning I wiped it down, washed the bowls and beaters, and then made banana bread batter.  It was so nice to let the eggs and bananas blend while I dug out measuring spoons, sugar, and flour.  It works really well and looks like it’s been stored in a box for the last twenty years.  Color me super excited!

 

Oh, Hai!

Seven months.

Thirty weeks.

Two hundred and thirteen days.

I guess it’s been awhile since I last wrote.  Oops.

In my defense, there hasn’t been a whole lot to write about.  Aside from working hard and playing harder.  And having a spectacular blow up with my brother so he no longer has contact with any of us, including my nephew.  Oh, and Mark and I are getting married in less than two months.

Yep, I suck as a blogger.

After reading my last couple posts and seeing how things were almost a year ago, I really am kicking myself for not writing more often.  One of the things I love most about Mark’s blog (and our old blogs that got us together) is reading past entries and having tangible memories at our fingertips.  My memory sucks as it is, so having a journal/blog is especially important.  Now, if only I could knock out as many entries as quickly as Mark does.

Thankfully, I’m not writing to mope or reflect.  Things are going incredibly well…for both of us.  Although, I hate saying that because I’m always worried I’m going to jinx us.  Actually, there is some sucky stuff.  Like, the kids living with their mom full time now, my brother and I not talking anymore, my renters NEVER paying the rent on time, I’ve gained a ton of weight, and am missing Nevada like crazy.  That balances out all the good stuff, right?  You catch that, Universe?  My karma is in good standing, right?

The good stuff is really good.  Most days I pinch myself because Mark and I are just so great together.  I think back on my previous marriage and it never came close to even our worst day together.  Although I pooh-poohed marriage when Mark and I first got together, I’ve since warmed to the idea of being his wife and am looking forward to our married life together.  Our wedding will be a true reflection of us; laid back, fun, and casual.  We’ve rented a beach house on the Oregon coast that will sleep all those attending.  The ceremony will take place overlooking the ocean while surrounded by our parents, siblings, and kids.  Afterwards, there will be beers on the deck, a clam bake, music, and a walk on the beach at sunset.  Oh yeah, and a doughnut wedding cake from VooDoo Doughnuts. No muss, no fuss.

We’ve had a fun summer so far.  Camping with the kids on the Washington coast.  Hiking Mirror Lake by Mount Hood, June Lake and Lava Canyon by Mount St. Helens.  Discovering new favorite hangouts in Portland.  And concerts, of course.  Although, not nearly as many as we saw last year.  Staying up past 10pm on a weeknight just about kills me the next day.  The rest of the year is just as busy, too.  Another camping trip in a couple weeks.  Friends visiting from Sacramento Labor Day weekend.  The wedding, of course.  And then we go to Denver in October for a Broncos game.  The holidays will be close to follow and then another year will be gone.  We’re both taking a week off so we can spend New Years in Ely.  A long standing tradition includes bar hopping downtown, an hour or so before midnight at the Fireman’s Ball, and then a big potluck at my uncle’s the next day.  We’ll even have time to run down to Vegas for a day or two to see friends.  I’ve been desperate for a sagebrush fix and I’m happy knowing it’s only a few short months away.

Remember that part about being up past 10pm?  Yep, it’s time for me to turn into a pumpkin.  But I’ll be back.  Soon.

I promise!

It’s A Wrap

I haven’t always been a Scrooge.  I loved Christmas when I was growing up and couldn’t wait to celebrate the season as an eighteen year old newlywed.  But the now ex was a bit of a curmudgeon and each year that passed without spending the holidays with my family or children of our own made it that much harder to keep up the holiday spirit.  Christmas with the in-laws always included short tempers and screaming matches.  Of course it was easier to skip the decorating and not mail out cards.

Fourteen years of being a Scrooge is a hard habit to break.  When Mark started decorating the townhouse, I couldn’t help but snicker and roll my eyes.  Garland and lights on the handrail?  Poinsettia in the downstairs bathroom and a wreath on the front door?  I have to buy a stocking too??

But then I was humming along to his Christmas playlist, and I was asked to join the Gingerbread Lalas for the gingerbread house decorating contest at work.  We cut down our own tree and sipped hot apple cider as we drove away from the christmas tree farm.  Almost every evening was spent cuddling on the couch, while the lights twinkled around us.  I watched Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer for the first time in over twenty years.

Mark already wrote about Christmas Eve in Newburg and our Christmas morning of gifts, breakfast, Mimosas, dinner at the Parental’s house, and wrapping presents on the bed while sipping hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and watching A Christmas Story.  It may not seem like a big deal, but it was during our present wrapping when I realized that Mark had managed to bring out years of suppressed Christmas spirit.

We really are a perfect match.  We compliment each other in every way and while I was a bit skeptical the day after Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that my boyfriend is giddy for Christmas and I no longer dread the merriment of the holidays.

Aside from feeling grateful for all life has given us lately, there hasn’t been too much else going on.  The new job is great and keeps me busy.  We had a record month in November and as an incentive to catch up on back-logged loans and avoid end-of-month bottlenecking, we had the opportunity to earn triple overtime pay.  The incentive was extended through December 31st, but apparently it worked because my drawer is half empty and I worked my regular schedule this last week.  I just hope my loan officer is staying busy and sends up lots of new files soon.

I’ll be heading to Vegas in a few weeks.  I had booked a trip to visit Mark last winter and it was subsequently cancelled when I decided to quit my job and move to Washington.  I now have a credit with Southwest Airlines that will expire the end of January.  My dad and sister have birthdays that fall close to the MLK Jr. holiday, so I’m going to take advantage and spend the weekend with family and friends.  I’m not thrilled that I’m going alone, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit excited for some much needed girl time.

As 2012 draws to a close, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe at how this leap of faith worked out so perfectly.  Mark read one of my earlier posts, written shortly before I moved, and he commented on how down I was.  I remember feeling so emotional, stressed, and scared.  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my loved ones back in Nevada.  I miss them all so much and wish Ely was just a few hours closer so we could visit more often.  But…as hard as it is to be apart from them, I’m also revelling in this new life Mark and I are making for ourselves.  I love that I get to spend time with my adorable nephew and I’ve seen my mom more times in the last year than I have in the last ten years combined.  I love that Portland and Vancouver has so much to offer; music, festivals, food, shopping, hiking…  There’s no excuse for being bored here.  We’re already planning new adventures for 2013 and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.

I truly thank you for your support this year.  It’s been a rollercoaster and I can’t express enough how much of a difference it makes to have someone that will hug me when I cry, laugh at my silly jokes, cheer me on through the tough times, and still be interested through the boring times.  I love you all and wish you the best in the new year.

Magical B-Dubs

And just like that, my job search is over.

Monday evening, Mark and I were on our way to the grocery store for our weekly shopping.  I was filling him in on my second interview with XYZ Bank during much of the shopping trip and explaining what a loan processor does.  We were supposed to make pizzas on the grill, but then Mark jokingly suggested we head over to Buffalo Wild Wings.  That’s what we did after he had his interview with Allegro, whom he’s now employed with.

It wouldn’t hurt, right?

So we quickly put away groceries, grabbed the kids, and drove across the river to Cascade Station.  It wasn’t until we pulled into the parking lot that we realized it was Monday Night Football.  The place was packed and we ended up waiting about 15 minutes for a table.  Mark has never been to a sports bar during a game so he was a bit taken aback by the raucous cheering, clapping, and hollering.  I just chuckled and reminded him that I had spent 12 hours in a bar in Elko during the playoffs a few years ago…racking up a $200 bar tab and having a fantastic time with a revolving group of friends at our table.  Good times!

We ended up having lots of fun, enjoyed some tasty burgers and wings (and fried pickles, of course!) and cheered along with everyone else when Seattle was given (because no, they didn’t really score) the winning touchdown.

The next day I had a voicemail from the first person I interviewed with asking me to call him so we could discuss their job offer.

Holy shitballs!  Eating at B-Dubs totally worked!!

It was just my luck that I got his voicemail and it felt like an eternity while I paced the living room, waiting for him to return my call.  The butterflies in my stomach were almost painful!  Twenty minutes later, he finally did and I found out I will be one of their new loan processors and my first day will be October 8th.  Normally, I would’ve started this next Monday, but the manager I’m working under is gone all next week so that pushes my start date out.  Which, I’m totally fine with this because as of last night, I’m driving to Ely on Sunday to meet the new renters that will be moving in on Thursday.

When it rains, it pours!

I’ve often wondered if this is how it would be.  I would worry and stress about not finding a job and running out of money.  It would build and build and just when I got to that point of breaking, everything would fall into place.  How fortunate that within days of closing out my IRA and depositing the only remaining funds I had, I landed a job that will pay me almost $2.00 an hour more than my last.  And there are production bonuses.  And overtime.  And no commute.  And great benefits.  And, and, and…just pinch me already!

I clicked on my trusty Excel spreadsheet to see how long my last payout would last me.  All bills are paid through mid-October.  My upcoming trips to Ely and Seattle are covered, as is my ticket to see BRUCE MOTHERFUCKIN’ SPRINGSTEEN on November 28th!  I even had enough money to buy some new outfits for work.  I’m so not surprised that none of my old work clothes fit.  However, they are stashed in the closet and will come out again soon, once Mark and I start working out together in the mornings. 🙂

So…that’s basically it.  Lots of other cool things these last couple of weeks like our one year anniversary, camping, and horses’ asses, but head on over to Mark’s blog for that stuff.  He’s much better at this than I am.

Checking In

*tap tap tap*

Hello?

Oh, hi there, neglected blog.  How’s it hangin’?

I guess Mark has pestered me enough about writing a post, and seeing as how it’s a little before 5am and I’ve gone through all my bookmarked time suck websites, I may as well get this done and shut him up for a while.

I mean that in the nicest way possible, darling.

There are a of couple reasons for staying away.  One being that Mark always beats me to the punch when chronicling out latest happenings.  Two being that I can’t knock out a post in thirty seconds like he does and my time has been better spent trying to find a job.  Lastly, there’s been a little bit of depression floating around and when that happens I tend to limit my communication to only what is absolutely necessary.

The fog it lifting and I hope to keep up the momentum.  So, here I am.

Aside from the whole “being an unemployed loser”, things have been going well.  There’s never a shortage of things to do and sometimes we have to force ourselves to not make any plans just so we can relax, clear out the DVR, or get things done around the house.  I can’t believe it’s been almost five months since I left Nevada.  Some days, it feels like I’ve been here for years.  Other times it feels like I barely left.

Speaking of Nevada, I had to make a quick trip down there last month to check on my house after the renters moved out.  I had mixed emotions about the trip and while I was excited to see family and friends, I was dreading the drive and I’d had several weeks to agonize over worst-case scenarios for what the condition of my house would be when I got there.  I was also dreading the fact that it was going to be in the 90’s and neither my house or my dad’s has decent air conditioning.  I sure have gotten spoiled with the mild temperatures up here (and the central air in Mark’s townhouse).

One huge highlight from that trip was meeting up with an old BFF from my Utah days.  Twenty-one years ago, Mandi and I were inseparable.  Then I moved to Idaho Falls and though it took a few years, we eventually fell out of touch.  In fact, the last time I saw her was just a few months before I got married in 1995.  We reconnected on Facebook last year and have been trying to meet up ever since.  A quick stop in Boise for lunch turned into a two hour visit.  I met her kids, husband, and cat, and wanted to stay a few more days just so we could catch up.  Dad was expecting me though, so I had to get back on the road and book it south.

Boy, did we laugh about all our teenage shenanigans!

Summer of ’92. Rockin’ the b.u.m. equipment and Girbaud jeans!

 

The house ended up not being as bad as I feared, although I still had my work cut out for me.  It needed a good cleaning, contrary to the renter’s pissy text message a couple days later that the house had been left spotless.  I know we all have our own ideas of “clean”, but mine does not include six months of greasy build up on the top part of the stove, a bag of mostly melted ice in the freezer, and a bunch of crap left in the storage shed and one of the utility room cupboards.  I tried to come prepared by packing a bunch of cleaning supplies and my tool box, but there were still multiple trips to town for more supplies…and a pneumatic shock for the front storm door after I found out they had ruined the existing one.  I was being pestered about their security deposit, but its funny how things got suddenly quiet after I emailed pictures with a line item list of all the cleaning and repairs.  This may be my first time being a landlord, but I’m no dummy.

Aside from dealing with house stuff, I had a great time visiting family and friends.  My first morning in town was spent with Doreen for our traditional morning coffee bullshit session.  Two hours later I finally drug myself out of the office to get started on the house.  The power was turned off so I couldn’t even run the ceiling fans and it was quickly approaching 90 degrees.  Lesson learned, I worked on the house in the mornings for the rest of my visit and spent the afternoons trying to squeeze in as much visiting as I could.  My last night in town a few of us met at the softball fields to watch a game and then met a few more later on for dinner and drinks.  Good times all around!

Since I had given myself a week to travel, get shit done, and drive back to Washington, I decided to detour to Elko to visit more family.  Dria and I had lots of catching up to do and just like most of our past visits, there were lots of beers and laughter involved.  Friday was my free day to just relax and hang out with Dria and the baby before leaving early Saturday morning.  We did just that and while I really wanted to stay up for another late night of girl talk, I knew I had to hit the sack early.

Not surprising, I tossed and turned most of the night.  By 4am I had given up trying to get any more sleep.  I had been smart the night before and had packed up the car except for a change of clothes, a ball cap, and my toothbrush.  Five minutes after climbing out of bed I was back in my car and headed home.

Not only did I get to surprise Mark by showing up an hour earlier than he thought, I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise just south of Wildhorse Reservoir.

Nevada always treats me to her best scenery whenever I leave.

I think the days following that trip is when things started to go down hill for me.  I had a come-apart the night I got back; a culmination of exhaustion and hormones.  After a really good cry and a decent night of sleep I was feeling better, but I never pulled myself completely out of the funk.  I think it’s partly from missing my friends and family.  I hated saying goodbye again so soon.  I kinda miss my job, but I miss not having a paycheck more.  Nobody likes to admit they can’t get a job and I’m just so sick of submitting resume after resume.  I’ve lost track of how many jobs I’ve applied for since I got here.  A hundred? More?  Of course it’s discouraging, especially when the turn-downs come in, even after you thought you totally nailed the second interview.

Besides feeling like a loser, there’s the added stress of money.  My stash is quickly dwindling and depending on how quickly I can get another renter moved in, I’ll be tapped out in another month or so.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll more than likely have to get a service industry job until I can land something more permanent.  I’ve already looked into getting my food handler’s card (a state requirement) and have been keeping my eye out for decent openings (with decent shifts).

Sometimes, when I’m tossing and turning during the wee hours of the night, I wonder if I made the right decision.  Was it worth giving up a secure, decent paying job with excellent benefits, and my retirement to move up here?  Should I have waited it out a few more months until I had a better handle on my savings and job situation?  Was it worth risking my good credit, health, and sanity?  When I think of all the memories, all the times I held my nephew in my arms, all the laughter, tears, passionate embraces, and tender kisses…I think abso-fucking-lutely.

This little guy makes it all worth it.

And so does this guy!

I’m No Bill Dance

Yesterday, I discovered I don’t know nearly as much about fishing as I thought did.

Several weeks ago, Mark and I started planning a camping trip with the kids.  Since Audrey and Rusty’s wilderness activities have been limited to hiking and staying in a cabin at Battle Ground Lake seven or eight years ago, we wanted to make sure this trip would be the real deal…pitching a tent, cooking over the campfire, and fishing.  Those poor city kids have never been fishing!

I haven’t been trout fishing in ages.  I prefer to cast lures for bass or troll for walleye.  In fact, the last time I went out fishing with a little styrofoam container full of nightcrawlers was back when the ex and I had a boat and were living in Island Park, ID…almost nine years ago.  But that’s not as bad as Mark, who hasn’t fished since 1999.  We know this because the old fishing license was in his tackle box.

We figured it would be a good idea to have a test run before our big adventure next weekend.  Tuesday, I got my Washington driver’s license and then hurried over to the sporting goods store to purchase my “resident” fishing license.  We picked up a few miscellaneous camping items and, of course, the worms.  The next morning we packed up our gear, threw together some snacks and drinks in a cooler, and headed north to Battle Ground Lake.

Not only is my trout fishing knowledge limited, so is my gear.  The ex took all the fishing gear we had accumulated over fourteen years, and was kind enough to break the tips on my fishing poles when he moved out.  I bought a new rod and reel combo last summer, along with some tackle.  We were still short a pole for next weekend, so I bought another pole last week and some more tackle.  Knowing we would be fishing for trout, I stayed away from the lures and loaded up on PowerBait, leaders, weights, and bobbers.

Mark was feeling a bit emasculated after all the comments we were getting on Facebook, so he was quick to string his own line and bait his own hook.  Granted, I had to give him pointers along the way and the look on his face was priceless when I told him to pinch one of the worms in half since it was too long for his hook…but he caught on quick and grew more confident with each cast.

We got a few bites to start, which was encouraging, but none of those bites turned into catches.  After my first cast I realized I had the wrong size test on my reel and struggled with rats nests most of the morning.  The longer we went without reeling anything in, the more I started to doubt what we were doing.  Were the hooks on the leaders too small?  We were fishing too close to the bank?  Should we move to another spot?  Are there too many weights on the line?  Too few?  Is the bobber too close to the hook?

I know fishing a new area is trial and error and some days are just better than others, but I sure was feeling like an idiot out there.  I started thinking about all the fishing trips I’ve been on over the years and how easy it was to land those walleyes and reel in the bass.  But it wasn’t me that knew which lure to use or which bank to troll.  It was my Dad!  No wonder fishing was so easy when the poles were already strung up, there were hundreds (no joke!) of lures to choose from and all I had to do was pick one out (that he suggested, of course) clip it to the swivel (no tying knots for me!), connect a planer board, kick back, and drink beer.

The ex could’ve easily killed my love for fishing.  Very seldom did we ever go out and not get into a fight.  He had quite the temper and was always getting pissed over the dumbest things.  He hated if I brought a book to read, literally balled up his fists and stomped his feet when he lost a lure once, and loading or launching the boat always meant there would be cussing and yelling.  Once, while living in Kansas, we were fishing under a bridge after a co-worker told him it was a great place for jigging.  I started to jig, just like my dad had taught me, and the ex said, “You’re such an idiot.  You’re doing it wrong!”  It felt great to tell him to piss off after I reeled in a 12″ crappie ten minutes later.

Thankfully, fishing with my dad more than made up for all those bad times.  He recently bought a boat specifically for ocean fishing and has talked about bringing it up here so we can hit the Oregon coast.  In the meantime, Mark and I will get better at drowning those worms.  He couldn’t have a bad temper if he tried, so I know we’ll always have a good time.  And just so he’ll feel better about all those years of not fishing, I’ll even let him gut the fish.

Picture Perfect Portland

A couple weeks ago, I saw an announcement on TV for the Starlight Parade.  I haven’t been to a decent parade in years (although the 4th of July parade in Ely is always fun) and since it was on a Saturday night and we had no plans, we decided to go.  Those plans evolved into spending the whole day in Portland, starting with the Farmers Market and ending with the parade.  Our day didn’t go exactly as we had discussed (we never did find a park for a picnic and a couple hours to lounge under a tree to read and maybe take a little snooze), but we still had a great time.  We walked A LOT, ate some great food, and saw all kinds of eclectic weirdness that makes Portland so wonderful.

Here’s our day, in pictures. Lots of pictures…

The “June Gloom” was in full effect as we headed into downtown Portland. I held out hope it would warm up to Friday’s temperatures and foolishly wore capris and sandles…and forgot a jacket.

 

Our first stop, the Portland Farmers Market, had me drooling over all that green deliciousness.

 

And swooning over the beautiful blooms.

 

This lively bluegrass band was awfully creative. The old suitcase was used for a kickdrum and the guy with the banjo has a tambourine duct taped to his foot. Way to multitask!

 

Even though I’m not an Oregon registered voter, this guy let me take his picture. Potheads are cool like that.

 

After the market, we stopped in at Powell’s for a potty break and to look for a NW camping book. This is my third visit and I still haven’t been on every floor.

 

Lunchtime was a upon us, so we made a beeline for the food truck pod at 10th and Alder. We sampled some Dump Truck dumplings, then went our separate ways to decide which truck we would try this trip.

 

I went for the Frying Scotsman since I’m not getting nearly enough fish ‘n chips up here. The Scotsman was really nice, but hard to understand with his thick Scottish accent.

 

Do you know what else was thick? The batter on that piece of fish! Fried to perfection and so very, very good. I could’ve filled up on just that one piece, but I’m glad I got to taste their yummy fries and coleslaw too. BTW…all that food for $7.50!

 

Red Robin ain’t got nuthin’ on this YUM.

 

While walking to the Saturday Market (aka Hippie Paradise), we saw some interesting sights along the way. Here’s the line for Voodoo Donuts. I can attest that their maple bacon bar is absolutely worth the long wait.

 

Which came first, the bumper sticker or the mural on the building? Either way, this slogan describes Portland to a T.

 

What’s not so weird is Portland’s fanaticism for recycling. I’m now scared to death to throw anything away in a regular garbage can for fear the recycling Gestapo will haul me away.

 

The Saturday Market is flush with hippies, hemp, tie-dye, cheap jewelry, street art, and so much other stuff I can’t begin to list it all. I was on sensory overload at this point and didn’t snap a single picture. I did manage to pick up a super cute shoulder bag, sporting a lime green peace symbol on the front, of course.

 

On the fly, we decided to stop at Old Town Pizza on Davis Street. Since Mark has always been fascinated with the paranormal, we were excited to sit at the table in the elevator shaft were the resident ghost, Nina, plunged to her death over a hundred years ago. We kicked back for a couple hours to enjoy some tasty adult beverages and garlic knots. More YUM!

 

Mark channeling the spirit of Nina…or getting buzzed from the lemonade with black currant liqueur, vodka, and cranberry juice.

 

We made our way back to the parade route and found a spot to kickback while waiting for the parade to start. Once the streets were closed off to traffic, the kids around us took advantage and played with sidewalk chalk, footballs, and anything that makes annoyingly loud noises.

 

What does an author do while waiting for a parade to start? He reads, of course!

 

Before the parade, we got to watch the Starlight runners whiz past us. Costumes are encouraged and some of these guys had us pointing and laughing.

 

The guy with a mixing bowl and apron was one of my faves.

 

Also before the parade were a bunch of firemen with a ladder and a safety net. The ladder would get hoisted up and secured in place with ropes. A guy would run up the ladder and then fall onto the net. It only took a few minutes before the ladder was down and they were hurrying to the next block to set up again.

 

It was a long and cold wait for the parade to start, but well worth it. There was a great mix of floats, marching bands, and local organizations. My favorites were the drumband, Star Wars group, Fright Town, and Pirates of Portlandia.

 

Not Luke’s father.

 

Please, don’t shoot me!

 

These drummers were one of my faves.

 

With each beat of the drum, the inside lit up.

 

The “people” from Fright Town.

 

I will sleep better at night knowing they are out there to protect us.

 

Argh!!

 

Things to remember for next year:  Dress in layers!  Bring a jacket…and gloves!!  Bring CHAIRS!!!

Smorgasbord

I stepped on the scale the other morning.

Yikes.

I shouldn’t be surprised, what with all the amazing food we’ve been eating since I arrived here.  All the entrees, coffees, cocktails, and maple bacon bars.  My fat jeans quickly became my every day jeans.  My lounge pants are no longer comfortable for lounging.  And I’m typing this while nibbling on a chewy peanut butter cookie (the secret is to substitute half of the brown sugar called for in the recipe with honey).

I wasn’t surprised that I had gained some weight, just surprised I had gained that much.

I want my jiggly arms, stomach rolls, and cottage cheese thighs to forgive my transgressions and try to understand just how delicious the food is around here.  It seems like everywhere we go there is some special dish or new-to-me place we just HAVE to try…cajun tater tots at the Bagdad Theater, clam chowder at Pier 101, fish and chips at the Rouge Ales Public House (they put frickin’ DILL in their batter!!), mac-n-cheese at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.  And then there are the homecooked meals…Mark’s spaghetti and meatballs, my egg rolls and sesame noodles, his chicken cacciatore, my barbecued chicken (made with his homemade bbq sauce, of course).  And since Mark doesn’t bake, I’ve been kind enough to show off some of my favorite recipes…Better Than Sex Cake (it’s really not, but its close), beer bread, potato rolls, cookies.

We really need to knock this shit off.

In my defense, I’ve lived in small towns for the last twenty years.  Granted, they have their own great places to eat and my dad is one helluva cook, but they don’t have one tenth of the variety of stores, pubs, markets, and restaurants.  When I was living in Nevada, anytime I went out of town I had to eat at the places we didn’t have back home.  I’m still of that mindset because A) there is too much variety out there to not try as many different things as you can and B) I really, really, really like eating.  Besides, life is too short to waste time eating crappy food.

Honestly, I don’t see this changing anytime soon.  I’m not overly concerned with the weight gain.  I’m still a few pounds below my heaviest weight and Mark and I have started walking in the mornings.  As soon as I’m working and settled into a daily routine, it’ll be a lot easier to stick to healthier breakfasts and lunches.  We want to get a family membership to the Firstenburg Center, which is just a couple of miles from here.  They have an indoor pool and walking track, exercise equipment, and classes.  The price for all four of us is very reasonable and I know the kids will enjoy it as much as we will.  More activity will offset all that rich food we’re consuming.  Hopefully.  Maybe.