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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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!