If we thought we felt restless and ready to move on before now, it is really beginning to gnaw at us now, although we’re still not quite ready to drag out our suitcases. Feeling restless though is very motivating to get everything done that needs to be done before we leave town. And, there is plenty to do, from taking care of the last of the re-provisioning to getting our recycling done to making sure all the food we have on hand is finished. Every day now we wake up and ask ourselves, “Is there something we can take care of or use up or get out of the way today?”
This past week was sort of crazy when it came to the weather, going from uncomfortable temperatures in the 90s at the beginning of the week to cool rainy weather and thunderstorms by the end of it. On Monday evening we wanted to fill the tub with ice water in an effort to cool down, but Thursday, Friday and yesterday evenings we were wearing our winter pajamas because we were so cold! We made plans each evening for the next day but then ended up putting them off because the weather wouldn’t cooperate (we did finally get downtown on Friday though). I have to say though I’d much rather deal with cool summer days in Portland than the hot ones they get here.
YaYu learned this past week she was accepted into an upper-level Mandarin class at UPenn, which is just about 40 minutes away from Bryn Mawr by train. However, the first class meeting will be on August 28, and she arrives back in Portland from Japan in the afternoon on the 27th! I was able to find an affordable red-eye flight that leaves Portland in the evening and gets her into Philadelphia early the following morning, in time for her to take her bags out to Bryn Mawr and then head over to UPenn. We will meet her when she arrives at the airport here, have dinner with her there and then help her get checked in and on her way. We were hoping we’d get a couple of days with her before she had to go back, but are also very proud that she was accepted into the UPenn class. She is going to be one very tired girl though.
If we end up only staying in Japan for three months next year we’ve decided we will fly back to California and spend a few days in San Francisco and then travel around the northern part of the state for a few weeks before heading to Massachusetts for WenYu’s graduation. We’d like to see Lake Tahoe and Lake Shasta, drive up the coast on Highway 1 and see the redwoods, and visit Yosemite National Park. We’ll work up plans (if we have to) once when we know more about what’s happening next year.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I finished The Path Between the Seas and am getting close to halfway through Truman, a good thing because a book I’ve been waiting for all summer, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe, finally came off of hold at the library and I want to get it read before my three weeks are up. Reviews have said it’s one of the best books about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and one of the best books released this year.
- Listening to: We fell asleep last night to the sound of pouring rain, but this morning there are birds chirping outside and I can see bits of blue sky peeping through the mostly heavy cloud cover. It’s quiet inside and out too – Brett is reading in the kitchen and the noisy kids downstairs have departed. I’m not sure what it is about Sundays, but these kids always make a ton of noise in the early morning and then disappear for the day. During the week we never hear them!
- Watching: We finished the last of the available episodes of Father Brown this past week, but are still watching The Good Place each evening (loved the surprise ending at the end of Season 1!) and are almost finished with Four Weddings and a Funeral. We’ve also just started watching Derry Girls on Netflix which is wonderful. We have been trying to wean ourselves off TV watching but are not doing a very good job of it. We’re curious about what we’ll find when we’re in England – we’ve loved so many of the shows that have been brought over here, and are sort of hoping we’ll get lucky and catch something great while we’re there.
- Cooking: Almost nothing I had planned got made last week but I moved things around and we’re having stir-fried cauliflower rice with pork tonight. This week we’ll also be having lettuce wrap tacos, Cobb salads, meatloaf, and our Friday evening pizza (bacon cheeseburger this time to use up some ground beef, cheddar cheese, bacon, and dill pickles). Besides using up what we’ve got on hand, we’re also going to finish up our wine supply this week which will be sad because we love sitting down together on Friday evenings with our glasses of wine and a small snack before having our pizza. Maybe we’ll just have to buy another bottle.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: It doesn’t feel like I accomplished much of anything but we finally went downtown on Friday (after almost being scared off by lots of thunder in the morning) but decided to save our visit to the art museum for another week when we don’t have so many other errands to run. I got all of my goals card filled in for the week although we didn’t walk on Monday because it was so HOT or on Thursday because it was raining (we got our walk in yesterday before the rain started). Otherwise everything on the card got done. Brett dropped off my new shoes yesterday for waterproofing, and we’ll pick them up tomorrow on our way to the dentist. Along with purchasing YaYu’s ticket to Philadelphia, I also finally got around to reserving a rental car for our final two days here so we can do some last-minute things the afternoon of the 29th, check out of the apartment on the morning of the 30th, and get our bags over to the airport hotel for the night before our departure on the 31st.
- Looking forward to next week: My new bridge will be put in place tomorrow and the ugly space in my lower front teeth will finally be gone! I also go back on Tuesday for a cleaning and then I am DONE with the dental visits. Brett has his last Japanese class on Wednesday evening, and will be making a trip over to Costco by bus to get batteries for his hearing aids, allergy medication and some vitamins, but otherwise we have nothing planned.
- Thinking of good things that happened: Brett had his annual eye exam done this past week and his vision has stayed the same – no new glasses required! The whitening regime I’ve been doing for the past two weeks has made my upper teeth lovely and white; but now that the dental work will be finished I’ve got to get started on the lower teeth. This week at the farmers’ market our favorite vendor had sweet, juicy, ripe yellow plums in addition to loads of lovely berries and peaches. I love plums!
- Thinking of frugal things we did: We had four no-spend days again this week. We put $4.42 into the change/$1 bill bag, and as always ate all our leftovers and didn’t throw away anything.
- Grateful for: I am so thankful that it has been so easy for us this summer to run errands in downtown Portland, which is only a short bus ride away from our apartment. There’s a Target, a Safeway for groceries, and every other kind of store available, all within a short walking distance of each other. The Target store is a new-ish downtown addition – it didn’t exist back when we lived here. We had a great time being downtown once again on Friday, and got in some good exercise while taking care of everything within a couple of hours!
- Bonus question: Do you like to cook? The honest answer is not very much these days. I consider myself a good journeyman cook, and used to enjoy it a lot more than I do now but think I would give it up completely these days if I could. However, we like to eat healthy, unprocessed, tasty food and we can’t afford (and don’t want) to eat out all the time or hire a private chef, so I still cook. It’s been a learning experience for me this past year though to cook for just Brett and myself rather than making enough for five like I did for so many years. I used to bake quite a bit too but don’t do that at all these days and frankly don’t miss it either, and Brett and I definitely don’t need things like cake, cookies, bread, etc. around the house. These days I usually keep things simple and I no longer am looking for or trying new recipes like I did in the past. I use a few more “convenience” foods than I did in the past, things like the CookDo sauces or pizza crusts from Trader Joe’s. I do make family favorites when the girls are home although that’s getting more complicated as both Meiling and YaYu are very lactose intolerant, and YaYu doesn’t eat beef or care much for chicken (thankfully WenYu will eat anything). We figure it out though.
I hope everyone is still awake after reading the above because our time here now seems awfully boring to me. This is the reason though we are not feeling ready to settle down just yet – we still like staying busy and there’s so much more of the world we want to see. Life and finances are going to get in the way though beginning next month because we are going to start putting away a good chunk of money each month to apply toward YaYu’s future college expenses, and that’s going to slow things down a bit. Although she receives significant financial aid from Bryn Mawr, it’s nowhere near enough to cover the cost of going there, especially when YaYu will be the only one attending college for two years. We’ll see how it goes, but her sisters will graduate/graduated with no debt and we would like the same or as close to the same for her.
Once again I hope everyone had a great week and had lots of good things happen for them!