Sunday Afternoon 8/25/2019: Last Week in Portland

Portland produces some beautiful sunsets – Brett took this picture on his way home from his last night of Japanese class.

What a lovely, lazy, relaxing week this past one was! We had a busy Friday afternoon, but otherwise we didn’t do much of anything but read and rest. Yesterday and Wednesday we didn’t even leave the apartment, not even to walk (it rained on Wednesday, so going for a walk wasn’t going to happen anyway). We will have more than plenty to do this coming week, and I know we’re going to appreciate the calm of this past week.

YaYu arrives back from Japan on Tuesday afternoon. We will meet her at the airport, have dinner with her there and hand over the suitcase we’ve been storing for her here this summer, and then get her checked in for her flight back to Pennsylvania. We spoke with her this past week and she is very ready to come back to the U.S. She was paid well by her brother for her work (and she did a lot of work for them), had a good time overall but now knows that being a nanny is not her thing. Anyway, we’re looking forward to our time with her and wish we had more.

Back out of hiding . . .

Along with taking care of a bunch of final errands, Brett and I will be packing all week, and on Thursday we’ll pick up a rental car so that we can get our big suitcases out of the apartment Friday morning and over to a hotel near the airport for the night (we couldn’t reserve the apartment through Saturday as it was already reserved beginning Friday). We’ll turn the car in on Saturday and then spend a few hours at the airport – our flight doesn’t leave until after 7:00 in the evening, although we’ll check our bags in as soon as we can. We’re quite good at long airport stays now, and have things to read and do while we wait.

But . . . this time next week we will be in England! We’ve had a wonderful summer in Portland, but we’re excited to be moving on to our next destination. Visiting Great Britain has been a long-held dream for me (my ancestors on both sides come from England and Scotland) and I’m looking forward to being there for a while. We’ll be there for whatever unfolds with Brexit (deadline on October 31) and have no idea how that’s going to go or how it might affect our experience.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I stayed up late last Wednesday evening and finished Truman. It was one of the best books I’ve read, and I learned much I didn’t know before. Harry Truman was a complicated man, but the right person to be president for the time, someone who truly grew into the office, and a great American overall. I’m now reading two completely different books, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, and Blade of the Samurai, another mystery by Susan Spann set in old Japan.
  • Listening to: It’s thankfully a quiet morning both inside and outside. I didn’t sleep well last night – I woke up around 3:00 a.m. with a knot in my stomach (nerves) over the upcoming travel, and it took me a while to fall back to sleep. I’m feeling very tired this morning and I appreciate the quiet.
  • Watching: Last week Brett and I discovered Mindhunter on Netflix and binge-watched two seasons of that (it’s about the beginnings of the Behavioral Sciences division of the FBI and understanding how serial killers develop). We are looking forward to Season 3! We finished up all the available episodes of Derry Girls and The Good Place, but the latter has new episodes available this coming week so we’re planning to watch those and hopefully will get to see them all before we check out. And then . . . we’re done with TV watching for a long while (unless we discover some great British show while we’re there).
  • Cooking: We finished almost all of the food in the house last week, but have enough for three last meals here at the apartment. Tonight we’re (finally) having teriyaki chicken, tomorrow we’re having stuffed peppers, and on Thursday we’ll have omelets with the last of any leftovers. We’re eating out on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and also on Friday – we’re thinking of maybe going over to IKEA for some inexpensive Swedish meatballs because it’s near to our hotel. On Saturday morning we’ll have breakfast at the hotel, and then we’ll eat again at the airport before boarding our flight as there is no food served on board (fingers are crossed that we’ll be able to get something to eat at the Reykjavik airport during our layover there).
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Other than finishing Truman, sticking to low-carb eating, and drinking lots of water I didn’t accomplish anything this past week.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m looking forward to spending a few hours with YaYu, although we know she will be tired and in a mood (she dislikes air travel). We’re also having dinner with our friend Joan on Wednesday evening at Higgins restaurant. We always love getting together with Joan, and Higgins was on my bucket list before we left Portland in 2014 but we didn’t make it then. I can’t say I’m looking forward to packing, but we are excited about hitting the road once again.

    Discovering that my pants were starting to disintegrate was quite a surprise but I ordered a new pair and am ready to go!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett got the results back from his last round of medical testing and everything looks good. The doctor had seen something in his initial blood work that could have been an indicator for some not-so-good things, so she requested more testing, but none of the subsequent tests have shown any issues that would indicate problems – everything has been within the normal range. He has an appointment with the doctor tomorrow morning and hopefully he’ll get the official thumbs up from her, although we know the issue is something that’s going to have to be watched going forward. One initially not good thing was that I discovered one morning that a pair of my black Perfect Fit pants were beginning to disintegrate! I realized though they were over eight years old and had gotten a LOT of wear over the years so I guess it was time. I ordered a new pair from LL Bean and they arrived in two days so I am ready to go.

    Our last box from the farmers’ market, this time with apricots and plums! How lucky we were to enjoy so much sweet and tasty local fruit this summer.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Brett went over to the farmers’ market on Tuesday and bought fruit and cherry tomatoes, we rented a Zipcar for our visit to Pittock Mansion and to drop off our recycling on Friday, bought two hand-thrown pottery souvenir coffee mugs at Pittock Mansion, and picked up a very few things at the grocery store on Friday to get us through our last days here, but otherwise we had five no-spend days this past week and our daily average for the month is just over $26. We have pretty much finished up all our food, and will only be leaving behind a little bit of vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, and some ketchup and mustard. (Having to buy new pants was not particularly frugal, but they were necessary and paid out of our clothing fund. I’m hoping they will last at least eight years too!)

    I will definitely be buying more big bags of mugi cha when we’re in Japan next year.
  • Grateful for: It’s often the big things we think of when we think of gratitude, but this week for me it’s one of the little things that has helped make my summer more pleasant. I’m so thankful I found that big package of mugi cha (roasted barley tea) at Costco in Japan because I’ve been able to enjoy it every day all summer long. I still can’t get over how much I detested mugi cha the first time I tasted it (I gagged) because it’s now one of my favorite things to drink and very refreshing. Finding that big package in Japan made it a very affordable treat this summer.
  • Bonus question: What is the most useless thing you ever learned how to do? I have to go back to the navy again for this one, but in my “A” school I learned how to test and replace vacuum tubes. This was in 1977, and the navy was not even using vacuum tubes by then but we still had to do the section as it hadn’t been removed from the curriculum. That was a week of my life I’ve never gotten back. Thankfully my job after finishing “A” school was fairly interesting although the skills I used have turned out to be pretty useless as well. I operated a flight simulator that trained naval flight officers, doing air traffic control for their “takeoffs” and making sure they took off correctly and knew what to say when and how to talk with air traffic control during their “flight.” Also high on my list of useless things was learning to do various math problems longhand back in the day like finding the square root of a number, calculating the slope of a line, etc. – yeah for calculators these days! I still do long division in my head sometimes though as well as some other simple algebraic formulas so those didn’t turn out to be as useless as I thought they were at the time.

    We used a machine like this to test vacuum tubes. I might as well be trying to read Greek these days.

There won’t be a Sunday post next week because we will still be flying for most of day (our flight leaves Portland on Saturday evening) or settling in at our hotel near Heathrow for some much-needed sleep after we arrive in England. I’ve been in touch with our host and we’re set to check in once we arrive in Blockley on Monday. I’ll post again once I feel settled.

Finally, this past week I got a Facebook message from someone in Hawai’i I initially didn’t recognize. It turned out to be from the people who had rented the house we lived in after us. They too have been having loads of trouble getting their deposit back from the landlord after moving out at the end of July and are also having to deal with his lies about all the “damage” they supposedly did to the place. They asked about our experience with him and wanted to know if we had any suggestions. I said they should take him to court – their deposit was even larger than ours – and it turned out they already had the paperwork almost done and were getting ready to file. Yeah! The one thing that awful man doesn’t want to do is go to court, and we told them if they needed any help to let us know. They are a young couple from the island with LOTS of family there which may be what finally nails this greedy, immoral guy – you don’t mess with locals (and apparently at one point he had been badmouthing the couple to their family members without knowing it) – no, no, NO!

Hoping everyone has a great week!


40 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon 8/25/2019: Last Week in Portland

  1. What goes around, comes around. Hopefully the dishonest guy in Hawaii will get his comeuppance. Looking forward to seeing you Wednesday!


    1. I hope his dishonest tactics finally catch up with him as well – he really is awful. I know he does not want to go to court, so hopefully getting a summons to appear will also be a wakeup that people are tired of him and his tactics.

      Reservations have been made – see you on Wednesday!


  2. Happy travels!! You will have choices for food in Reykjavik but when I was there it was so crowded!! Hoping they have laid the airport out better and added signage since my visit in 2015. Boy, let’s hope that your ex landlord gets bit by the karma bug!!!


    1. The airport in Reykjavik was being renovated when we were there in 2016 so I suspect it’s different than it was in 2015–hopefully also better 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, this is good news! Fingers are crossed that our time there goes quickly and without a lot of hassle​ (and that we can easily find something for breakfast!).


    2. We have about a two and a half hour layover in Rekjavik, and hopefully it won’t be so bad that we can’t find something to eat. We have been reading about how crowded it is at the airport there – we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.

      We are also hoping the karma bug bites him, and that it stings as if it was from a centipede!


      1. 2.5 hours in Reykjavik should be enough to get some food, but I wouldn’t wander too much – it still gets very crowded and while it isn’t a large airport, I found it a little confusing just because there were so many people it was hard to see the signs. We were there a year ago and the airport as far as we could tell is laid out so that all the planes coming in and leaving at a particular time are in the same area, making it VERY VERY crowded – and I believe a lot of planes arrive at the same time from the US and leave around the same time for the UK. We had I think a 2 hour layover and had time to get a pastry and some coffee, but it took us probably 30 minutes to figure out which line we should be in to board our plane, because they have multiple queues overlapping in the same place that aren’t quite long enough for all the people. Everyone around us was in the same confused state and so people were pretty helpful, but definitely leave yourself some extra time to queue up for your plane, and ask multiple people to make sure you are in the right line if you can!


      2. Thanks for this information! I looked at our schedule again and we’ll have almost three hours in Rekjavik, so we should have time to figure out where we need to be for the transfer and have time to eat. I showed your comment to Brett and he says we’ll do it in that order – find out where our gate is and then go get something to eat. I am so, so glad too that we won’t have to wrangle our big suitcases there (although we are now carrying much less weight than in the past) – we just have my carry-on and Brett’s backpack with us in the airport.


  3. 90 percent of the shows I watch are british, Scots or irish…unforgotten, shetland, . You have so much to watch if you choose to do so.


    1. We’re hoping to see the some of the latest episodes of favorites when we’re there, or maybe discover something new!


  4. I tried to find Truman at our library in audiobook form–they only had an abridged version; not sure if I’ll try it because I usually prefer unabridged audio books, even the very long ones.

    I’m glad to find another person who wears LLBean Perfect Fit pants. I have their cropped and long versions in numerous colors. The petite version is the perfect length. I only wish they had deeper pockets.

    Have a wonderful time in the UK. England is my favorite place on earth. I’ve been a number of times, but the last time was in the spring of 2001. It will probably be really the LAST time. Our infirmities make travel difficult now, and a long flight would be misery. I’ll happily live vicariously through your experiences.


    1. I have been wearing Perfect Fit pants for nearly 10 years now – they are the BEST travel pants! Easy to care for, easy to wear, and they can double as dress(ier) slacks if necessary. This pair that I just had to toss didn’t have pockets – they started appearing on later editions (and I agree that the pockets could be deeper).

      Truman is worth buying. It’s a wonderful, deeply researched biography, and as you read you can understand why it won a Pulitzer. I’ve always liked Harry Truman before, but now have a much deeper appreciation for him. (My favorite Truman line is from the 1948 Democratic convention: “We’re going to beat those Republicans in November and they’re going to like it!” LOL).

      Brett and I have decided that we will no longer make long flights unless we can upgrade to extra comfort or exit row seats. As long as we have a bit of legroom we do OK.


  5. Mindhunter and Dead to Me are my two favorite Netflix series. Season 2 of Mindhunter was released just 10 days ago, so it’s going to be awhile before we see Season 3! If you haven’t read the book Mindhunter, I would recommend that also. Have a great trip!


    1. We are going to start Dead To Me tonight! We blew through the second season of Mindhunter in two evenings – we could not stop watching! I have put the book on my reading list – thanks!


  6. Safe passage! I look forward to “hearing” from you on the other side of the pond!
    PS- I taught for 30 years and was a nanny for one. Never, would I ever, be a nanny again!


    1. Well, you’ll hear from me this week – I have the last couple of Portland posts ready to go this week. We are anxious to get on to England though – I woke up in the middle of the night last night with a knot in my stomach and realized it was from excitement over our upcoming trip.

      I used to work as a nanny in my 20s and did OK – I had a good reputation in town and never lacked for work. Meiling also has worked successfully as a nanny (and made good money doing it), but WenYu and YaYu don’t enjoy it and would both prefer to do other things.


  7. Well, it looks like you’re ready to go! I always take a couple of granola bars in my purse when I fly in case we get delayed and have no time to purchase anything between flights. Have a safe and easy trip and I will be waiting for your reports! Very exciting time, indeed.


    1. We are getting there – we’ve spent most of today sorting through things and getting stuff ready to go into the suitcases later this week. Thankfully our bags will be lighter than usual this time as we won’t be carrying along our summer clothes. They’ll stay back in Portland, and we’ll get them when we’re back in December.

      We have granola bars ready to go, and also a couple of low-carb chocolate bars if we need some energy. We’ll eat a good dinner at the airport before boarding, and will hopefully be able to sleep through most of our flight, at least to Rekjavik.

      I am starting to get butterflies of excitement everytime I think about this weekend!


  8. Sounds like a great last week in Portland. We were there this weekend for Hood to Coast, and had another amazing experience with family &friends. Sam joined this year & it was so special to have him join the adventure!

    Safe travels next week.


    1. Yeah! Sam was well enough to join – I know you were very worried about whether or not he’d be able to go, and had even made back-up plans. So happy everything turned out OK!

      We’ll be back in December – if you’re up this way let me know so we can maybe try for a meet-up (although I know you’re always quite busy with family stuff).


    1. Thanks, Vivian! We’ll be out to our place on Monday, and after we get situated and get some groceries in the house I’m sure I’ll be ready to write again.


  9. I’ve been to Iceland and the Rekjavik airport. This was in 2016 and I remember they had a lot of food options so you should be fine, especially since you’ll be there over 2 hours. I remember eating at a pizza place. If you were going to be there longer you could see a bit of the country. A lot of people do long layovers there to go to the Blue Lagoon or take a tour. The landscape of Iceland reminds me of Hawaii in some ways, except that it’s much colder, of course!

    It’s hard to believe your summer in Portland is almost over! Looking forward to reading about your next adventure.


    1. This is good news – we’ll especially need to find some coffee, but hope we can find a nice place to have breakfast too. Thankfully we won’t have to worry about wrangling our bags there – they’ll be checked straight through to Heathrow.

      It feels like we’ve been here forever, but it’s been a great summer. High temperatures are coming back this week (near 100 degrees) so we’re sort of glad to be moving on.


  10. Wow…that landlord. Sure hope he gets his soon. He has made too many people miserable already.

    The week before travel is always butterfly inducing for me, too. I’m excited but anxious for everything I need to do and remember. You’re a pro at this by now, though. 🙂

    I was a nanny for several summers in my youth…I don’t think I’d like to do it again, although I had tons of experience when I finally had my own kids.

    We bought Acorn TV via Amazon for a while to watch A Place to Call Home – it’s Australian but on UK TV, too. If you haven’t seen it, we both really enjoyed it. And all seasons are complete now.

    Good luck with the final prep and hope the visit with YaYu goes well. I had to chuckle at her being “in a mood”. What a perfect description. I just traveling with my youngest for a week and there were moments of her being “in a mood”. LOL.


    1. Yes, that horrid landlord. He is really due for a resetting. I have a feeling he will try to settle out of court because he knows how screwed he’ll be if he has to go before a judge, and IMO there is also something shady going on with the taxes on that place – he doesn’t want the address noted in official records as a rental property.

      My grandkids wear me out now, so no way I could do childcare or other nanny duties these days. I like the retired life too much!

      We got started on the packing yesterday and got most of it done. Last minute things will start fitting in as the week proceeds. We went through everything this time, and lo and behold, we are carrying a LOT less weight this time. The wardrobe changes I did made a huge difference, and we jettisoned a whole lot of other stuff that we just don’t need or want to carry along these days.

      YaYu is often “in a mood,” although air travel is a big trigger for her.


  11. I saw your Instagram photos of your carry-on bag which reminded me of something that happened to me recently. I was in Seattle on a business trip last week and my flight returning home was cancelled. My checked suitcase was put on another flight so all I had was my backpack. Lesson learned, and from now on I will carry a change of clothes with me whenever I fly. I was with a co-worker so at least I wasn’t alone, but what a crazy experience. We ended up sleeping in the airport overnight because the flight the airline put us on was early the next morning, so there was no point in leaving, but being in the same clothes for so long was pretty gross! I will look into getting some Perfect Fit pants. They look “perfect” for travel and will fit in my backpack. 🙂


    1. Oh wow, what a horrible travel experience! I am terrified of being stuck somewhere, having a flight cancelled after our bags have already been checked, or having one of our big bags go missing, so I always bring an extra outfit or two in my carry-on. I also put some of my other clothes in Brett’s big bag, and he puts some in mine so if one of the bags doesn’t make it at least neither of us is completely out of clothes. Sleeping at the airport sounds equally awful.

      I love LL Bean’s Perfect Fit pants – they so easy to care for, last a long time, and look nice too. They’re super comfortable for travel – nice and stretchy and warm. They come in several colors and shapes too (traditional, straight leg, boot cut, capri). They’re my favorite pieces of travel clothing – they don’t take up a lot of space and they don’t wrinkle either.


      1. I’ve traveled quite a bit and that was the first time I’ve ever had a flight cancelled and I hope it’s the last. There actually were quite a few other people sleeping in the airport, which was oddly comforting, but there is activity all night and they had the TVs blasting on full volume, so not exactly a restful experience.

        Your idea to put some of your clothes in Brett’s bag and vice versa is a very good idea. I usually travel with a friend so I’m going to suggest we do the same.

        An LL Bean catalog came in the mail today and the Perfect Pants are there so I feel the universe is telling me to buy some! They’re actually on sale now.


      2. Before we left last year, I worried that one or both of our bags might be lost or delayed, and I read somewhere that we should somewhat divide our clothes between two suitcases so we would always have more than the clothes we were wearing. And, we always carry a change of clothes in our carry-ons as well.

        I would not be able to sleep in an airport. Period. It must have been awful for you.

        I swear by Perfect Fit pants – they’re wonderful!


  12. I can’t say I’m surprised that your ex-landlord is up to his old antics but still, wow! I really hope he gets his comeuppance! I can’t believe he was bad-mouthing the couple – to their own family! Unbelievable.

    I’m so excited for your travels to England! I hope your flights are smooth. We just booked a flight to Australia to go visit family. I’m very excited but also very anxious since this will be the first time my 3-year-old son has flown. He loves planes but doesn’t want to fly on one. (We told him he could watch tv on the plane and that seems to have gotten him over his fear of flying, lol).


    1. Well, I’m excited for you and your travels! Which part of Australia will you be visiting? It’s a long haul down to Australia though – hopefully you’ve got a stopover along the way, especially with your son traveling. The best thing we ever took along for our kids on long flights was Band-Aids! Seriously – we bought them each a package and they used them to stick to the trays, etc. – they peel right off, and the girls used to make patterns, etc. with them. It kept them occupied for a while, they were clean and easy to clean up when they were done, and these days they come in such cute patterns and colors – even more fun! Otherwise, we had coloring books, etc. and these days there are movies and TV shows to watch which there wasn’t back in the day.

      I am very anxious to hear how things go with the landlord. He was always bragging how he knew people, and I’ll bet he thinks this couple won’t fight back because they’re local – surprise! I’ll also bet that once he gets his summons he’ll try and settle out of court, but I hope they still go before a judge.


      1. My husband went right before he and I met but this is my first trip. We are flying to Sydney with a layover in Houston. We’ll be traveling for 24 hours total (eek!). Thankfully, the flight from Houston to Sydney is overnight and I’m hoping that we will all sleep on the flight. I love the band-aid idea! He loves superheroes (he always wants a band-aid when he gets a small boo-boo) and that would be a fun way to keep him entertained.

        My in-laws live in Newcastle. So we’ll spend a couple of days in Sydney but the majority of the time at their home. I’d love to take some day trips to see some surrounding cities but will probably stick close to home. I’m not sure I’m willing to venture off on our own. Driving on the left side of the road scares me!


      2. As for the driving on the left, just always remember that the steering wheel has to stay in the middle of the road – it makes staying in the correct lane, and making turns much easier (we drove for years on the left side when we lived in Japan). You’ll catch on very quickly!

        Can I recommend the Trtl neck pillow? I love mine and it works so much better than a traditional neck pillow for sleeping because it keeps your head up (the head drops are what wake you up). I used to never be able to sleep on planes, but I do now with the Trtl in place (although I have to watch the video every time to remember how to put it on!).

        Have a great time!!


  13. Oh, that is a fantastic tip about the steering wheel! I’m hopeful that once we do a bit of driving as passengers that we’ll get up the confidence to try driving ourselves around. I’ve been to countries where they drive on the left but always take trains or buses. But my in-laws will still be working during the day and they have an extra car, so it seems a shame to stay home all day. If nothing else, we plan to venture out to the beach. They only are a 5-minute drive away! 🙂

    I’ll definitely look into the Trtl neck pillow! When I flew to Switzerland this summer, that was my exact problem – my head drop kept waking me up. Plus we are in the middle aisle for the long leg of the light and won’t have a window to lean against.


    1. That was the best piece of advice we were given when we started out driving in Japan. I was terrified, but once you get used to it, it’s very easy. We were there long enough that when we watched American shows or films it always looked like everyone was driving on the wrong side of the road! And it took me a while after we got back to the States before I stopped trying to get into the car on the wrong side.


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