Sunday Morning 8/18/2019: Week 14 in Portland

I am going to greatly miss the wonderful evening views of the city from the Kohler Pavilion balcony (the one above was taken around 7:30 p.m.). We’ve been walking to the balcony all summer and I’ve yet to tire of looking out at the panorama of the city. I am always amazed by the density of trees that cover the east side of the city!

It’s a bit hard to wrap my head around, but his time next week we’ll be dragging out our suitcases once again to start packing once again. Our final week here will be a whirlwind of activity, with everything from downtown errands to meeting YaYu at the airport and getting her on to Philadelphia to moving over to hotel near the airport (we have to check out of our apartment on the 30th). This week though should be a rather low-key one. We plan to visit Pittock Mansion at the end of the week and will also take all of our recyclable cans and bottles to a recycling center when we’re over that way. But, other than a visit to the farmers’ market for more fruit, we have nothing else on the agenda except to relax, read, and get in some good walks.

This past week it was time for me to figure out a plan for getting from Heathrow airport out to our house in the Cotswolds. We’re arriving in London on a Sunday in the late afternoon, but after giving ourselves some time to pick up our bags and go through immigration it turned out there were no trains to our destination other than ones that got us there around midnight and also involved several train changes and/or bus rides along the way. We thought maybe stopping in Oxford for the night might make things easier, but those schedules weren’t any better and Oxford hotel prices were too high. I finally checked hotels at Heathrow and thanks to some Expedia award credits (which I didn’t know I had), I was able to book a king room at the nearby Hyatt Place hotel for half price, all taxes and fees included. Hyatt Place has free shuttle service to and from the airport, and we will also get 20% off our breakfast in the morning because I’m also apparently an Expedia VIP (again, who knew?). And, on weekdays there are numerous trains out to Moreton-in-Marsh from Heathrow with just one change at Paddington Station, so much easier than what we would have had to deal with on Sunday. While neither Brett nor I are especially thrilled about paying for a night in a hotel, this arrangement will (hopefully) make our arrival into the Cotswolds a lot less stressful, and we should be at our house between noon and one o’clock on Monday afternoon.

We also finally caught up with the modern world and got ourselves signed up with Uber and Lyft, or at least Brett now has the Uber app and I’ve got the Lyft one. I was unable to download the Uber app because apparently whoever previously had my phone number had an Uber account, and because my address didn’t match Uber’s records I couldn’t sign up. I tried numerous times to get it straightened out through their customer service, but all they did on their end was send me boilerplate notices saying “address doesn’t match the one we have on file” – there was no human interaction at all on their end to try and get things worked out. After a few of those messages I finally gave up. Thankfully Brett was able to download the app with no problem so he will be taking care of Uber reservations in the future, and the Lyft app downloaded just fine for me, so that will be our backup.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I am still reading Truman but finished Say Nothing on Friday evening. I am learning/have learned so much from both books, especially about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Harry Truman is turning out to be a more complicated man than I ever knew as well.
  • Listening to: We’re enjoying a quiet morning now, but otherwise it’s been a somewhat noisy week up here. There have been more than usual Life Flight helicopters arriving at OHSU this week (two arrived within a half-hour last night before 1:00 a.m.) and they make quite a bit of noise coming in. Also, there have been flyovers by jets from the Oregon Air National Guard and yesterday we could hear the sound of police helicopters all afternoon as they monitored the demonstration downtown. We can also always hear the trains as they move through town on the other side of the river, especially at night. It always sounds like they are right behind us though – the sound carries that well.
  • Watching: We finished what we think was the last episode of Four Weddings and a Funeral, but hopefully not as it was disappointing and left us hanging. The show was billed as a limited series, but there has only been one wedding (and one that didn’t happen) so we’re not sure at this point if the series will be continuing or whether there will be another season, or ??? We’re still watching The Good Place (which we really like) and the second season of Derry Girls, but we’re not going to start anything new at this point. Although Derry Girls is a comedy, it’s set in time during the Troubles and there have been several references to things I would have otherwise missed or not understood if I hadn’t read Say Nothing.

    An abundance of fresh fruit and berries has been one of the best parts of our stay in Portland.
  • Cooking: This week will be our big push to clean out the fridge, freezer, and cupboards. Tonight we’re having Thai red curry chicken with cauliflower rice, and other meals this week will be spicy Korean beef over cauliflower rice, zoodles with meat sauce, teriyaki chicken, and our final Friday night pizza (pepperoni) with leftovers filling in the blank spaces. We are still enjoying bowls of fresh summer fruit every day – I am going to miss it greatly when we leave Portland.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Besides getting all my dental work finished (yeah!), I also got my new shoes waterproofed and ready to go, and purchased a new bathing suit for our visit to Kaua’i (my old ones went into the trash when we left – I had worn them for our entire four years there and they were worn out). Brett got three final medical tests taken care of and finished his summer Japanese conversation course.
  • Looking forward to next week: Besides visiting Pittock Mansion, I’m looking forward to having lots of time to read (and hopefully will be able to finish Truman) and rest before the craziness that will be happening the following week.

    Sadly raspberry season is over. We also bought a big bag of peaches this week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We got more delicious berries and peaches at the farmers’ market (and some cherry tomatoes too). Our daughter-in-law sent us loads of pictures and videos of the grandkids and YaYu, and Meiling and K invited us to stay with them for a few days in New York next year before we go to WenYu’s graduation!

    I love everything about this picture, especially our granddaughter pointing her spear in the wrong direction!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1)I saved 50% on a new bathing suit because of end-of-summer sales. 2) The dentist gave me enough travel-size tubes of toothpaste to equal a large tube, and also extra gel for my whitening tray to get me through the coming year (that stuff is expensive, too). 3) We ate all our leftovers and didn’t throw away any food (the latest Instagram photo shows how I used up leftovers and some other odds and ends to make a yummy, nearly zero-carb dinner yesterday evening). 4) Other than going to the farmers’ market and getting my two pairs of shoes waterproofed (for a whopping $12), we had a no-spend week. 5) We saved $115.28 this summer in our change/$1 bill bag which will cover all of our dining out next week. We were going to buy some British pounds before departing, but the exchange rate here is awful so we’ll instead stop at an ATM before we leave Heathrow airport.

    The apartment’s living room is simple but very comfortable.
  • Grateful for: I am once again so thankful we’ve been able to spend the summer in this apartment on the west side of the city. It’s been slightly too big for the two of us because YaYu hasn’t been here, but the location (next to OHSU and Marquam Forest Park) and space has been comfortable, convenient and mostly quiet. We will be staying in a different Portland location when we’re back in December, but we would stay in this apartment again in a heartbeat!
    The dining area has also served as Brett’s “office.” I love the dining chairs!

    The kitchen is small but very well-equipped.
  • Bonus question: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever done in your life (so far)? That would be the eight weeks I spent in navy boot camp. I joined the navy in 1976 and went to boot camp (in Orlando, FL) in January and February of 1977. When I arrived at the Recruit Training Center it was very late at night, and I was put into a barracks with other women and told to go to sleep because we would all be awakened very early the next morning to begin our training. A guard walked through the barracks all night, and I couldn’t sleep because I had to go to the bathroom very badly but was terrified of asking the scary guard if I could get up. I managed to get through the night, but things went downhill from there. I vowed every morning going forward that I would not stay in boot camp one day longer than necessary. I also questioned my sanity every day because each day was a test of wills between me and the navy, and some of the stuff we had to do seemed ridiculous at times (it made sense later). I quickly learned to keep my mouth shut, do whatever they told me to do, and never volunteer. Some of the “highlights” of those eight weeks include being chosen as the “laundry petty officer” and sorting our entire company’s dirty laundry every night and then lugging it over to the base laundry and then picking up the clean stuff and lugging it back; marching in formation and running every day (and I hate running) but finishing a required five-mile run without coming in last; going into a burning building as the lead firefighter with the hose and putting out a fire even though I was terrified; being tear-gassed and tearing my Achilles tendon (not at the same time, thankfully); shooting a gun for the first and only time in my life (and hitting the target every time) as well as learning to field strip, clean and re-assemble a pistol in record time; standing watch many times in the middle of the night and getting to be some other new recruits’ scary guard a couple of times; making it through the obstacle course on the first try (still not sure how that happened); taking numerous tests on arcane facts about the navy, learning to tie several different types of knots (marlinspike seamanship!), standing numerous inspections every week, and doing a whole lot of other crazy and difficult things. It was eight weeks of pure hell, but I kept my promise to myself to not spend one extra day there and also showed myself that I could accomplish anything if I set my mind to it. Right after leaving boot camp I was sent to my “A” school where one of my instructors was a sailor named Brett!

We have so far lucked out with the weather this summer. Both Brett and I have vivid memories of uncomfortably long stretches of temperatures in the mid- to upper 90s and even over 100 degrees during the summer, usually starting in late July, but other than a couple of days that hasn’t happened this summer and there have actually been a few days instead where it’s been almost uncomfortably cool. Yesterday it was cold enough that we had winter socks on our feet and blankets and throws over us in an effort to stay warm. We even debated for a few minutes whether we should turn on the heat! Our fingers are crossed that our final 12 days in Portland are temperate ones.

All those spray-painted markings in the road mean loud and messy road work is coming.

Finally, as much as we’ve loved our location this summer, it looks like we may be getting out of town at just the right time. When we headed out on our walk on Friday evening, the road outside our building was covered with new spray markings denoting all the utilities in the street. Apparently the city is getting ready to tear up the road in the very near future. There haven’t been any notices for bus route changes or road closures, at least not yet, so we have no idea when work will start, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that it will be after we’re gone.

As always I hope everyone had a great week, had lots of good things happen, and is looking forward to the week that’s coming up. It’s almost hard to believe that summer will be over in just a little over a month – it’s been a good one!

27 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 8/18/2019: Week 14 in Portland

  1. Hi Laura

    Have you thought about getting a car service to pick you up and take you to the Cotswolds. Taking into account hotel cost, train tickets etc it might not be that different. We used to live in Windsor and used Windsor Radio Cars. They would probably quote you a price for collecting at the airport and dropping off. Also the issue might be the connecting train leaving from Heathrow. You could look at getting the car service to collect your at Heathrow and drop you at Reading which is a major train station on the way to the Cotswold. I checked the train from Reading to MoM is only about 1 hour 20 minutes. That may solve the timing issue.

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    1. Well, we are locked into the hotel reservation at this point, but are now sort of glad we’ll be staying there for the night before heading out to the Cotswolds. We have a long overnight flight to England transiting through Rekyavik, and since neither of us sleep very well on flights I know that by the time we arrive at Heathrow we are going to be VERY tired, and now think we’re going to appreciate the opportunity to rest for the night before more travel. We have looked into using a car service while we’re in the Cotswolds, to take us around for a day to see some of the area (cheaper than renting a car for the entire time we’re there). BTW, I couldn’t believe the huge difference in train schedules and service between the weekend and weekdays. NOTHING leaving Heathrow on Sunday went anywhere near Reading, at least not without numerous train changes (not fun when we’re lugging our big suitcases around).

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  2. Most difficult thing: hmmm. I think clearing out my parents house after they died and selling it. Awful.

    I hope you have a great last few weeks in Portland!

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    1. Your experience mirrors what I have heard from many people. My sister and brother took care of going through my mom’s things when she died; there was absolutely nothing I wanted (mom had divested herself of most of her stuff earlier) so I decided not to take part. I went to an estate sale years earlier where the children were selling their parents’ possessions following their deaths, and I decided I would do everything in my power not to have my children have to go through that.

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  3. We took a bus to Reading train station, then the train to Moreton on Marsh, but perhaps the schedule changed.

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    1. I looked at taking a bus from Heathrow to Reading, and then the train to M-i-M. It cost a bit less than taking the train out to Paddington (about $40 for the two of us) but every route involved several minutes walking – not easy with our suitcases – or making bus changes to get to the station. In the end we decided the savings just weren’t worth the hassle. It will take a bit longer and cost a bit more to go through Paddington, but will be much easier on both of us.

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  4. I think you made the right decision to stop for a night at the hotel.Some things money can’t buy, such as a good night sleep in a bed after a transatlantic flight. Your preparation for vacating your rental brings back fond memories as we recently went through a similar experience. Looking forward for our next adventure, meanwhile though I will be following yours! Have a safe, great trip over the pond!

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    1. Initially, we were not happy with staying the night at Heathrow, but now we’re glad for the reservation and I know we’ll appreciate the good night’s sleep before transiting on to Moreton-in-Marsh.

      We’ve become experts on getting out of our rentals, and pretty much have using things up down to a science now!

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  5. I’m really excited for your time in the Cotswolds. And a good night’s sleep upon arrival sounds smart. I’m always impressed by your ongoing ability to make meals of what food you have left. I need that talent.

    One of the hardest things I have done is go back to finish my degree with three small kids. It was grueling, but honestly, I was so. darned. determined. And it prepared me well for being a working mom and eventually a single mom.

    Good timing to leave before that construction project. We are in the summer season, which is non-stop construction in the Midwest, and every day I seem to get caught up in a new detour in the area. It’s nice to have new construction, but challenging to figure out familiar routes some days.

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    1. Oh my – I did my M.A. while we had an infant and a toddler and I remember telling myself over and over, “Do not try this at home!” It was awful and I questioned my sanity in pursuing the degree many times. To top off the whole experience I also fractured my kneecap just as I was starting to write my thesis, which only added to the fun. As you said, the whole thing was good experience for being a working mom.

      I am getting super excited about getting over to England, although a little worried about what the end of our visit might be like if Brexit goes through at the end of October – lots of unknowns right now about that. We are currently looking at different walking tours in the area and other things we can do while we’re there. We’re not sure if we’ll be able to get over to Wales or down to Cornwall, but we’re going to try.

      No signs posted yet about when construction may start, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that happens after we’re gone. It will be a mess getting out of here otherwise.

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  6. I’m so excited for your trip to the Cotswolds, & look forward to “following” along. 🙂

    Cooking – I made a keto lasagna (really great, actually) & a really delicious hamburger patty/tomato sauce/cabbage recipe tonight.

    Good things that happened – checked a few more items off of my sabbatical list. Went to the rheumatologist, got my hair cut, & ordered glasses. My rheumatologist originally thought I was out of remission for lupus, but now thinks it’s related to my insanely low Vitamin D levels. That’s a far preferable & much more easily treated problem.

    Most difficult thing – I’m going with two kids a year apart, both of whom didn’t sleep. We went without a full night’s sleep for 2 years – until they both had ear surgery. Everyone in my family has small eustachian tubes, and both kids had near chronic ear infections until after the surgery. It took until Nick was around 3 or 4 before I felt not sleep deprived. Factor in working full time, & M traveling 50% for his job, and I was a disaster.

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    1. (For some reason your comment went into my spam folder! I have no idea anymore about what’s going on between WordPress and Blogger).

      I bookmarked that lasagna recipe – it looked delicious – and am going to make it when we’re back here in December.

      I thought we had sleep issues with our kids, but they are not close to what you experienced. I can only imagine what it must have been like for you because I know how miserable I feel when I’m going through one of my bouts of insomnia (which only last a couple of weeks), and that’s not even close to having two kids, trying to work, etc.

      Hopefully your Vitamin D issue can be resolved with supplements (I have to take extra Vitamin D as well, as low levels are connected to osteoporosis). I’m also hoping that your lupus goes into remission – you work hard at keeping things in balance and staying healthy and it would be wonderful to read some day that you’ve accomplished this.

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  7. If you need really light, fun reads try the Agatha Raisin series….she moves to the Cotswolds and solves crimes. Absolutely silly and cute plane reads!

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    1. Thank you for this! The library doesn’t have them available for downloads, so guess I am going to have to treat myself to a couple from Amazon to get started.

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  8. Navy boot camp?! I don’t think anyone could beat that for bonus question. Compared to your boot camp, giving birth to a 10-lb. baby boy (at my petite size, yet no C-section) is like a piece of cake! I just said to hell with it, this kid is coming out today!

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    1. I have sometimes said (after having given birth to an 8 1/2 pound baby) that my boot camp experience was like being in labor every day for eight weeks! I just got it done because I had to!

      BTW, I was a nearly 10-pound baby myself (9 pounds, 13 ounces). Not sure how my tiny mom did it (and my sister after me weighed over 10 pounds!).

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      1. I still think my tiny mom having four kids, none of which weighed less than eight pounds, is one of the most remarkable things she did in her life (no C-sections either).

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    1. We have had a great summer here in Portland – it’s been everything we hoped for. We’re rested and ready for our next back-to-back adventures (which includes another six-week stay in Portland).

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  9. I just got back from a business trip to Seattle. I had never been there before, but I really enjoyed the city and the weather (cool with low humidity). Living here near NYC where it has been a summer of horrible heat and humidity, it was such a nice break from that. The fruit there was also amazing. Loved the cherries especially! The only negative was the airline cancelled our flight home and it was a 24+ hour odyssey trying to find new flights, but I finally made it home in the early hours this morning. I was in Portland a few years ago and liked the climate, so I’m wondering if I should spend more time in the PNW. After talking to locals in Seattle, they said the summer is the best time and it rains a lot the rest of the year, so not sure I’d like that and you’ve mentioned that is one reason why you won’t be going back to Portland to settle.

    I admire anyone who can get through military boot camp! I wanted to join the navy or Coast Guard in my younger days, but wasn’t able to due to a disqualifying medical issue. I always wonder if I would have made it through. The most difficult thing I’ve ever done is taking care of my mom when she had cancer, but that is a different type of difficult.

    I’ve been to England a couple of times but not the area you’ll be in so I’m looking forward to reading about your next adventure!

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    1. We’ve been tempted by the weather here this summer to consider moving back to Portland, but all it takes for us to snap out of it is to remember the winters here. We’ll get another good reminder this coming December. Although the city has lots of positives, Portland has also become too expensive in many ways (gas is cheaper on Kaua’i, for example, and other things cost more here than they did in Hawai’i, and housing is not far behind). So, where we’ll eventually settle remains a mystery.

      Taking care of an ailing parent or spouse is definitely a very different kind of difficult than boot camp, and I know I am fortunate so far that I did not have to experience that with either of my parents. It probably would have made boot camp seem like a walk in the park in comparison, especially the emotional side of it.

      Less than two weeks to go before we head to England! Lots of last-minute things are starting to build up, but for now we’re enjoying a relaxing week.

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  10. Your other post popped up on my email, but not here. Have you ever thought of VIPKids? My niece did the on line tutoring for two years and was pleased with the experience and the money she made. Just a suggestion to ease that budget a bit. I have confidence you will be fine. We are about to go into deep savings mode as we prepare to build a house out of our savings…. Different goals, same need.

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    1. I have never heard of VIPKids, although I know someone who teaches online – it may be the same program (she tutors someone in China, and has to be up in the middle of the night though because of the time differences – no thanks!). I will check into it though.

      I think we will be OK too though, even for the lower amount. The amounts we have planned to apply toward savings (both YaYu and dental) are fairly aggressive; we can cut back on both if we need to.

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    2. I’m not sure what happened with the previous post, but it disappeared for a while and went back to draft form. It’s back up now.

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  11. I thought you had a newer post which I tried to comment on. Have you taken it out? Or is it a technical glitch somehow?

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    1. OK, that was weird. For some reason it reverted to draft form, like it hadn’t been published. Not sure how or why it did that! But it’s back up now.

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