Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! It’s going to be a fairly laidback day here, but we will be heading out in a while for lunch at a nearby cafe to celebrate Brett’s day.
Metaphorically speaking, it seemed like we traveled from Alaska to the Bahamas all in the space of week. Brett and I were bundling up the week before this past one, trying to stay warm, and then this week it got HOT. On Tuesday the temperature climbed to 95 degrees (over 100 degrees west of the city), and on Wednesday it was up to 98. We had planned to visit the Oregon Zoo, the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden on Thursday, but even though it had cooled down some it was just still too hot for us so we decided to postpone that visit and not risk getting overheated. We did go out for a walk in the forest in the early evening which turned out to be very pleasant and cool. By Friday temperatures were back down in the 70s so all is well again, at least for the time being. While our apartment does not have air-conditioning we thankfully have three efficient fans so we were able to stay fairly comfortable inside.
This evening Brett is picking up a rental car at the airport, and early tomorrow morning we will head to Eugene (about two and a half to three hours away) for Meiling’s graduation. She is not participating in the university’s big ceremony but instead only in her department’s (Computer Science), which will happen at noon. Afterwards we will take her out to lunch, then head back to her apartment to help her finish up the last of the packing. We’ll pick up something light for dinner, then Brett and I will go to our hotel for the night while she spends the last night in her apartment (to stay with her cat). On Tuesday we’ll take Meiling and her cat to the vet to get the last paperwork ready for their flight to New York, then leave for Portland in the early afternoon. We’ll drop her off at the airport and say our goodbyes after she gets her cat checked in, then return the rental car and take the tram/bus home. So many memories are floating around in my head and heart right now about this beautiful, smart girl and what she has overcome and accomplished to get where she is now. We know (and hope) she will continue her almost-daily calls and messages and let us know how and what she is doing. I know she is going to do great things going forward, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.
For many months WordPress had been sending me a notice to “try out” the new editor feature, but I had resisted and stayed with the classic editor. But last week for some reason I decided to see what the new editor looked like so I clicked on the “try out” button . . . and am now permanently stuck in the new editor! Grrrrr – I hate it! I can now only get back to the classic editor if I purchase an upgrade (for $96, so that’s not happening) and I am having to work with features that I don’t want and are not as easy to use as well as the loss of some I had in the past (especially the special alphabet, although I think I have figured out a workaround to access it). The new editor also refuses to let me preview my posts even though there’s a live button that says “preview.” Images are a pain to insert compared to how easy it was with the classic editor. Anyway, if you see some odd formatting changes or other weird things going on in the next few weeks (like when WordPress out of the blue inserted their own generic photo in my header for who knows what reason), that’s what’s going on. Also, I still cannot comment on blogs using the Blogger platform, not even anonymously.
And, another reminder: There are four more days remaining to enter the giveaway for a few of our favorite items from a Japanese supermarket!
This morning I am:
- Reading: I have read a LOT this past week, and finished four books (Small Fry, Anatomy of a Scandal, The Unquiet Dead – which was excellent – and Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.) The last book was recommended by reader Laurel and had lots of food for thought. Currently I’m reading Distant Echo by Val McDermid (in the evenings) and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb, during the day, another book recommended by a reader. It looks like I may accomplish my reading goal of 30 books by the end this month – when I made it at the beginning of the year I was having trouble fitting reading into my day while we were traveling. If I do finish 30 books by the end of the month, I’m going to increase my goal for the year to 52.
- Listening to: Brett is studying Japanese and enjoying his morning bowl of oatmeal, and there’s not a sound coming from outside. We love how quiet it is up here in the hills.
- Watching: Brett and I finished Band of Brothers and are now watching the companion series, The Pacific. One of the actors in the series, somewhat of an “unknown” at the time, is Rami Malek, who won the Academy Award for his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Tonight we’ll also be watching another episode of Big Little Lies.
- Cooking/baking: I’ve got turkey pepper pot started in the slow cooker for our dinner tonight after Brett gets back with the car. Also appearing on the menu this week will be sausage and pepper pizza, pork chops with fried cauliflower rice, Mediterranean night (spanakopita, feta cheese, hummus, cucumbers and tomatoes), and we’ll have a big Cobb salad one night.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: We went to the OHSU Farmers’ Market on Tuesday, and bought a flat of Hood strawberries and some other produce. It was a very different experience from the markets on Kaua’i: only two farms were selling produce, but there were lots of other interesting products and several booths selling some delicious-looking meals, from Mexican to Indian to Chinese. Brett and I think we’ll go back one week for a lunch date – a stand making Mexican-inspired dishes looked particularly appealing. I filled in all of my goals card although I missed two days of walking because of the heat (I drank a whole lot of water though!). I finished the first section in the kanji book, and have committed 20 words using the characters in the section to memory. I’m still working my way through the first grade though. We used ZipCar for the first time on Friday to pick up my prescriptions at Costco, and bought a few other things while we were there, and also made a stop at Trader Joe’s so we’re good to go for the next few weeks.
- Looking forward to next week: Of course the number one think we are looking forward to is Meiling’s graduation tomorrow! Also, on Friday we’re going to have coffee with reader Pat, the winner of the obi, and hand over her prize. She just happens to be visiting Portland right now – how convenient is that? I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every meeting I’ve been privileged to have with my readers and don’t expect this one to be any different. Brett and I are going to try again to go to the Japanese and Rose gardens on Friday, so fingers are crossed for some good weather and decent temperatures that day.
- Thinking of good things that happened: We had an absolutely wonderful evening at our friend Joan’s house last Friday evening, and were privileged to meet another set of traveling nomads, Sarah and Chris, who are staying at Joan’s while they visit Portland (Joan hosts an Airbnb room in her home). We enjoyed a delicious salmon dinner and traded travel stories – Brett and I were impressed by how light the two of them travel compared to us (backpacks only for them). They are currently on an eight-month haitus in the U.S. before taking off again for more international travel. Yesterday afternoon we attended Brett’s calligraphy class’s annual summer potluck hosted by one of the students up in the NW Portland hills. Although attending a party of strangers is worse than going to the dentist for me, I did have a good time and also got to try speaking a little basic Japanese (and did OK). Guests brought a wide variety of dishes which included several traditional Japanese ones (we took an Asian-y chopped salad which was easy for me to carry on the bus).
- Thinking of frugal things we did: Even though we bought groceries at Costco and Trader Joe’s, our monthly spending average is still below $50/day – we did not go crazy this time. I rarely buy books, but the wait at the library was so long for Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (like months) that I decided to go ahead and use a Kindle credit I had with Amazon before it expired, and saved $2.25 on the purchase. I made one last small order with Amazon (some vacuum space bags, new socks, and a couple of other things) and closed my Prime account once again before the free trial expires and we start getting charged for it. We didn’t put anything into the change/$1 bill bag this week – we used our debit card for our few purchases so no change.
- Grateful for: I am so very, very grateful not to have to deal with humidity here in Oregon. While last week’s high temperatures were a bit uncomfortable at times, I was never miserable like I was when we lived on Kaua’i because of the low humidity here. I am loving being able to take care of daily activities and chores, or go for a walk or hike, and not end up sweating like a human fountain.
- Bonus question: Do you recycle, and if so how much? Brett and I got bit by the recycling bug during our last tour in Japan (1989-1992), where recycling was already a big thing, and we’ve stuck with it ever since. I think we still have plenty of room for improvement, but we make an effort every day. One of the biggest changes we made years ago was cutting back on using items that wasted resources (paper products, over-packaged items, plastic bottles and so forth), but some of it we just can’t escape. We haven’t given up anything completely (for example, I would love to give up Ziploc bags but we have found them invaluable when traveling), but we try as much as possible to purchase only what can be recycled. We’ve been able to get our trash down to one bag every two weeks. We did lots of recycling in Hawai’i, and lots when we were in Japan, and tried our best when we were on the road. We’ve set up a “recycling center” in our Portland apartment, but have noticed they’ve changed some of the procedures from when we lived here before, and are also not accepting many items that were taken in the past (especially plastics) because of the changes worldwide in who will accept recyclable items these days.
Finally, a BIG shout out to our son who completed his fourth annual walking challenge yesterday. M walked for 12 hours and completed nearly 34 miles (54.3 km), and with a few other friends and co-workers who walked part of the way with him, raised over $6500 for a charity which supports children suffering from severe and often incurable diseases and their families.
I hope everyone had a great and productive week, that you’ve got a good book to read, got to eat lots of tasty food, had lots of good things happen for you and you’re looking forward to the coming week. Thank you all for reading and for all your comments – I have the best readers! On Thursday I’ll be announcing the final Japan giveaway, and the winner of the supermarket giveaway will be posted on Friday.