We departed for Eugene at a little after 7:00 in the morning on Monday, had an easy drive down, and arrived around 10:00 with one stop for coffee/tea in Albany. Parking near the UO campus was already a nightmare by then, but we eventually found a timed spot somewhat near to Meiling’s apartment. A little before noon we had to move the car again, but this time found a metered spot and gave ourselves enough time to attend her ceremony. The Department of Computer & Information Systems ceremony was lovely. A bagpiper led the graduates in, there were a couple of short speeches, those winning awards were recognized, and finally students were presented with their diplomas. The whole thing was over in a little less than an hour, a good thing because it was very sunny and quite hot, although thankfully there was a breeze from time to time. Meiling’s department graduated 113 students this year (although not all attended the department ceremony), but only 13 women, including graduate students. In spite of all the female computing genius characters on TV shows, associations like Girls Who Code, and so forth, CIS appears to still pretty much be a boys’ club, but hopefully the number of women in the field will continue to grow over time. After the students recessed (again to bagpipes) we were entertained with live music, with the lead guitarist an adoptive dad we knew through the campouts we used to attend every summer! There was also a lovely buffet provided for everyone. We mingled a bit but didn’t eat much so we could enjoy a post-graduation lunch with Meiling at her favorite spot, where we all ended up ordering breakfast for lunch. By late afternoon Brett and I were still feeling full, and tired, so we headed down to our hotel in Cottage Grove while Meiling got together with friends for the last time and finished up cleaning her apartment.
On Tuesday morning, before picking up Meiling, Brett and I drove a bit of the Cottage Grove Covered Bridge tour and visited four bridges. I had known there were a couple of them in the area, so was a bit surprised by how many there actually were. We picked up Meiling and her cat around 11:00, she turned in her keys, and we headed back to Portland where she rested at our apartment for a while. In the late afternoon we took her and Sophie to the airport (through horrific traffic), dropped off our rental car, got her and the cat checked in with the airline and said our goodbyes. She got bumped up to first class for her flight to New York (!), although she apparently fell asleep the minute she got into her seat and said she didn’t get to enjoy any of the amenities. She is now happily settling in to her new life in New York City!
On Wednesday afternoon I saw the dentist again for what was to be crown prep for the molar that broke last December. However, when she took off the temporary crown she discovered things were much worse than expected. There were some heroic actions that could be taken to save the tooth but they would have cost thousands of dollars and taken loads of time, so I made the decision to have the tooth extracted. She took care of the second filling while I was there (and discovered yet another cavity – no!), then made an appointment for me with an oral surgeon and early Thursday morning I had a second extraction done. This tooth was a big molar so not as easy an experience. On the plus side, the extraction costs less than a crown, and our insurance covers more for an extraction than a crown as well, but down the road I am going to have to get an implant. At least I have some time now to save up for that. I just got the first bill for the initial x-rays, comprehensive exam, two fillings, and first extraction: $504 after insurance, although insurance hasn’t paid for the second filling so really more like $350. It’s still awful, especially with another filling, the second extraction and then the lower bridge to come.
Later Thursday afternoon Brett and I headed back downtown to meet reader Pat, and to give her the obi she won in the first giveaway. Like us, Pat had previously lived in Portland, and we had a delightful time chatting for a couple of hours. I have always had the best experiences when meeting readers and this time was no exception.
On Friday I pretty much collapsed, so no Japanese and Rose Gardens again this week. My mouth still hurt quite a bit from the extraction that day and both Brett and I felt tired and worn out. So, we stayed in and read, relaxed and recuperated. I mostly did the same again yesterday, but Brett went his calligraphy class in the afternoon and we took a short hike when he got back. We don’t have any plans for today other than to take a nice, long walk in the forest – this tooth thing knocked me out and I’ve also now got a cold. Life is good though.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I finished with two more books last night: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy and a Collision of Lives in WWII. The second book is about a tank division stationed in Europe near the end of WWII. It’s been a fascinating book for two reasons: 1) although I have seen tanks operate in every war documentary, film or mini-series I’ve watched, I have never really had any idea of how they worked, the tactics of using them, and their vulnerabilities, and 2) the book also delves into the German side of tank warfare, and includes information and opinions from both soldiers and civilians, which makes the story all the more interesting. The best part though was the reunion at the end of the book of an American and a German tanker who had fought against each other – it was a wonderful finish to the book (they became good friends). The Tatooist of Auschwitz came off of hold this past week so that’s what I’m reading next as well as continuing to pour through the Cotswold guide book (I renewed it for another three weeks).
- Listening to: Another quiet morning here, although both Brett and I are coughing quite a bit. It’s going to be another lovely Portland summer day so we plan to get outside later and enjoy it as later in the week rain is expected.
- Watching: Brett and I finished the miniseries The Pacific, and then for something completely different have been watching Father Brown. It’s been fun seeing places around the village where we’ll be staying.
- Cooking: My mouth is still a tiny bit sore today from the extraction, but getting better and I’ve already returned to eating regular foods. Because I had to go with fairly soft foods for the first couple of days Brett was eating leftovers and such, but tonight I’m going to put together the Cobb salads I had on the menu last week. Also on the menu this week will be CookDo mabo dofu, Polish sausages with sauerkraut, Scotch eggs, and a Friday evening chicken fajita pizza. We have a lot of food on hand that we need to use.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: It was a good week even with the surprise dental work, but just getting through it all took a lot of coordination, and there were still lots of regular chores, like the laundry, to fit in among everything else. We were able to book a Zipcar for two days in late July and made a reservation for a night at a wonderful B&B for a getaway out at the coast (we got the last available room at the B&B), something we wanted to do while we’re in Oregon this summer. I somehow managed to get my goals card completely filled in for the week – the only thing I missed was a walk on Friday. Even though it doesn’t feel like we walk very much some days, by the end of the day our tracker usually shows we’ve done over two miles so I’m happy with that. I have arrived at the end the first section in the kanji workbook and can now read over 40 words! I am getting ready to take the first big review test in the book, but that probably won’t happen until next week. It’s humbling to remember I’m still struggling with characters and words Japanese kids learn in the first grade.
- Looking forward to next week: We will have a less-busy week coming up, and I’m also excited about finally getting over to the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden. Brett starts a beginning Japanese conversation course at Portland Community College on Wednesday. Mostly I’m looking forward to not having a whole lot of stuff on our calendar.
- Thinking of good things that happened: Both Brett and I greatly enjoyed Meiling’s graduation ceremony – the smaller departmental gathering was so much nicer than having to sit through a giant all-school event like big universities traditionally hold. Our short drive through the area around Cottage Grove on Tuesday morning to see the covered bridges was delightful as well, especially with the beautiful weather and blue skies. Our meet-up with Pat on Thursday was great fun, and I hope we will be able to get together again some day. Not entirely sure having another tooth extracted was a good thing, but the procedure didn’t take too long and if it had to go, sooner was better than later. All three of the girls called me on Friday to see how I was doing, and they’re all having a good summer so far. YaYu has started getting out on her own – a big step for her – to visit places in Japan. She went to Harajuku one day this week and then to the maneki neko (lucky cat) temple another day. We’re very proud of her initiative as she’s the least adventurous of the three girls.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We thought we’d be eating out a lot in Eugene, but our affordable post-graduation brunch orders were so large that there were plenty of leftovers. Meiling took those with her and finished them off for her dinner and breakfast, and Brett and I were full enough that we skipped dinner and then ate the free breakfast at the hotel on Tuesday morning. 2) The rush-hour traffic was terrible when we set out to take the car back to the rental agency on Tuesday (even though we left more than an hour early), and we had no time to top off the gas before dropping off the car which cost us an additional $23. That was the more frugal choice though – bringing the car in late would have added an additional $67 to our bill. 3) We picked up 30 cents in pennies on the ground in front of a ticket machine at the Max station when we went over to the dentist on Wednesday – apparently someone discovered the machine would not take their pennies and dropped them all in disgust. 4) We ate all of our leftovers and didn’t throw out any food this past week. 5) I closed the Amazon Prime account so that I wouldn’t get charged following the free trial period. 6) We put $18.52 into the change/$1 bill bag – along with the week’s change I also discovered a small stash of $1 bills I had hidden away in my wallet!
- Grateful for: It’s difficult to pick any one thing this week as so many good things have happened and are happening. I have so much to be grateful for these days, including my children; my health (bad teeth and all); having good health and dental insurance; the opportunities we have this summer to enjoy Portland and other parts of Oregon and be close to friends for a few months; the time I have to read and relax these days; an abundance of good, healthy food; and our upcoming travel and opportunities for adventure. I am feeling especially blessed right now.
- Bonus question: Do you have any “must order” items when you see them on a menu? Yes! Eggs Benedict are always a must order item for me. The restaurant we ate at in Eugene had ten different varieties of Eggs Benedict to choose from and they all sounded delicious so the decision of which one to choose was not easy. Other “must order” items for me have always been Reuben sandwiches, French dip sandwiches, or patty melts. If two or, heaven help me, all three appear on a menu I will do rock, paper, scissors to decide which one to have. Since I’m not eating starches this summer, the sandwiches have been easy to avoid so far, and in Eugene I asked them to leave the eggs off of the bread this time (which Meiling ate). Otherwise than these items I go with whatever on the menu looks good!
It’s almost hard for me to believe that we’ve already been in Portland for six weeks, and have two more full months to go. The time seems to be going very quickly here though. I’m also enjoying using the buses and trams more than I thought I would, and it’s been easy to reserve a car when we need one. I am especially enjoying living on the west side of the city, and being able to easily get down into downtown because Portland’s downtown is so pretty, easy to navigate and walk around in. I think if we ever came back to Portland we’d settle somewhere over here.
Here’s hoping all of you had a great week and are looking forward to the one coming up, that you got a lot accomplished, have a good book to read, and had lots of good things happen for you. Finally, don’t forget to enter the Kitchen Set Giveaway!