Sunday Morning 1/5/2020: Week 6 in Portland

We are ready to be done with cold, clouds, and rain and trade it . . .

Happy New Year! It’s the first Sunday Morning of 2020! And, it’s also the beginning of a very busy week in Portland, our last before departing for Kaua’i early next Saturday morning. We all have lots to do this week to get ready to go including several errands, packing, cleaning, and everything else that goes along with changing locations once again.

. . . for this.

WenYu and YaYu will depart on Friday afternoon, within a couple of hours of each other, and then Brett and I will come back to the apartment to finish cleaning and getting ready to move over to a hotel for the night. After our wild experience getting to the airport in England, and our troubles with the car rental agency here, we were both feeling more than a bit anxious about how things might go with our early departure on Saturday morning (just after 5:00 a.m.). The car rental agency doesn’t open until 4:00 a.m. and we were feeling somewhat afraid that if there were any problems whatsoever things could easily start spiraling out of control again in terms of us getting checked in and through security on time, so we decided to turn in the car on Friday evening instead and spend the night in a hotel near the airport. The hotel is just two minutes away from the terminal and has a 24-hour on-demand shuttle service, so we’re both feeling a bit less nervous now about being where we need to be on time.

Brett and I are also growing excited about our upcoming visit to Kaua’i, and are looking forward to spending time with friends and enjoying the weather and scenery there as well as getting out for walks, etc. Portland has mostly been its usual gloomy self for the past week and once again I can feel myself start heading into seasonal depression. When the sun shines I feel great, but otherwise, all I want to do is plant myself on the sofa and stay there all day. Those feelings have been combined the past week or so with one of my annual bouts of insomnia – ugh. Japan will be cold (colder, actually) when we get there and somewhat gloomy as well so Kaua’i will provide a much-needed winter respite.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished the Dead of Jericho on New Year’s Eve, and ended the year with a total of 58 books read. I decided to take a short break from Inspector Morse and am now reading Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore. I especially enjoy it when Murakami describes different neighborhoods in Tokyo or other places nearby because I know where and what he’s writing about – I can picture them in my mind.
  • Listening to: The girls were up very late last night so they’re still asleep. Brett is rustling around the kitchen, making coffee and getting ready to make bacon for our breakfast this morning. The neighborhood is quiet as always.
  • Watching: I don’t think we watched any TV at all this past week except for the live version of Disney’s Aladdin on Friday (and I can’t get “Never Had a Friend Like Me” out of my head).
  • Cooking: We’ve been doing a very good job of getting things used up, and as of today, there isn’t a whole lot left so we should be able to finish up everything except for a few pantry items. Dinner tonight will once again be leftovers, then tomorrow I’m making pasta with pesto along with Italian sausages (which didn’t get fixed this past week). On Tuesday we’re having meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy and steamed broccoli. We’ll eat that for a couple of days, and on Thursday we’ll eat whatever is left and call it good. Brett and I plan to have Swedish meatballs for dinner on Friday night at IKEA, which is located close to the airport and our hotel. WenYu’s friend is going to come over on Friday morning to take the odds and ends of the pantry supplies (soy sauce, vegetable oil, etc.).
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I don’t think I accomplished a whole lot this past week other than staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. Brett was able to get an appointment in June to meet with the surgeon, but at this point, we have no idea how long it will take to actually schedule the surgery, whether it will be in the same month or later in the year. We’re going to schedule a week to 10 days in Portland then, and will add on days if necessary.
  • Looking forward to next week: We’ll be getting together with our friend Joan on Tuesday, always something we look forward to. I’m also meeting another friend for coffee this afternoon, and another friend on Wednesday afternoon. After she and I are done I’m going to get a manicure and pedicure so I’m presentable when we’re in Hawaii. Brett and I are actually looking forward to the long flight over to Hawaii because we’re flying first class which should make it a more enjoyable experience – I’m so happy to have found those low fares! Our Honolulu to Kaua’i flight will be in economy seating, but I got those tickets for free using miles, so no complaints (and the flight only takes 30 minutes).
  • Thinking of good things that happened: My laptop was ready for pick-up on Friday and I am so glad to have it back! I am enjoying once again having a battery that charges quickly and lasts almost the whole day versus having to get up to charge it every three hours or so. My stomach issues have been under control for the entire week – not one bad day or episode!
    WenYu and A have been best friends since they were five years old. They both come from the same part of China and were adopted through the same agency at the same time, although they didn’t connect until they were in kindergarten. They had planned to go out to a club for New Year’s Eve, but cover charges and admission turned out to be more than they wanted to pay so they stayed home and celebrated with us.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) When WenYu and her friend decided at the last minute that they would not be going out for New Year’s Eve, I rustled up some tasty hors d’oeuvres using leftovers and things we had on hand, including celery stuffed with spicy Thai peanut spread (everyone’s favorite), crackers topped with whipped cream cheese I mixed with some leftover crispy fried onions, chopped green onions, and sriracha; and pesto pizza bites, and there were no leftovers. Our hosts had brought us a bottle of good wine earlier in the day so we ended up having a very nice evening that cost us nothing. 2) We arranged to have our son convert yen for us for our rent payments while we’re in Japan which will save us around $180/month ($540 total) in PayPal conversion fees. 3) The Expedia credit in my account covered most of the taxes on Friday night’s hotel room. 4) My computer repair was only $129, $21 less than I expected. 5) Finally, I bought the Costco store brand of acid reducer for my stomach – 250 tables for just $10.99 versus 25 name-brand tablets for $12 at Winco or 90 tablets for $7 by prescription. Between the Kirkland medication and one order of my prescription, I am set for a full year.
    Something I’ve noticed more of this time in Portland is lots and lots of new, big apartment buildings squeezed in all over the place. At one point the other day it felt like we were driving through downtown Tokyo! Rent in these places is not cheap either. For example, studios in this building start at $1300+ and a 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment goes for $2800, more expensive than Kaua’i.
  • Grateful for: I’m thankful for all the good years we spent in Portland; it was a beautiful, affordable city to land in following Brett’s retirement from the navy and a great place to work and raise our children. But I’m also grateful we were able to move on when we did; it was time for us to go. Portland is changing, as it should, and we will always love this city, but it isn’t the right place for us anymore.
  • Bonus question: What is your least favorite chore when your family gets together? The girls are very good at helping out with cleaning, cooking, and doing dishes, but the one thing they won’t do? Laundry! I get that they want a break from having to do it on their own (who wouldn’t?), but on the other hand, two to three young women can produce a LOT of laundry, and it’s an effort to sort it, wash it, dry it, fold it, and then get them to pick it up and put it away (and I don’t easily recognize anymore which piece of clothing belongs to which girl). Doing their laundry is a small price to pay for the pleasure of our daughters’ company once or twice a year, but that doesn’t make me dislike the chore any less.

There won’t be a post next Sunday as we’ll be on the move all day Saturday (and tired from having to get up so early), but I will try and instead do a brief Monday Morning post after we arrive on Kaua’i and get settled. We’ll see how it goes – all I may feel like doing once we’re there is sitting out on our friends’ lanai and sipping mai tais! Life has been something of a three-ring circus since the girls arrived, and we are enjoying every moment with them, but we’re also starting to look ahead to our quieter, “regular life” again with just the two of us.

Once again, a very happy new year to all, with added wishes for good health and prosperity. I think this coming year is going to be a bit of a wild ride for a variety of reasons, so hope everyone is hanging on tight!

30 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 1/5/2020: Week 6 in Portland

  1. Our son lives across the river in Vancouver. The prices of the units in the high rise buildings on the riverfront west of the bridge are insane.

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    1. Portland has gotten very expensive in the past few years. I think it’s more expensive here than it is in Hawaii now. Gas is more expensive, food is expensive, and so forth. And rents are sky high. I was shocked that rents were so high in the neighborhood where the apartment in the picture is located – I hate to think how high things are in “better” neighborhoods.

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  2. Happy new year! It was a blizzard here on New Year’s Eve and we cancelled our family dinner plans, I made a thrown together tortellini pasta with vegetables and frozen pesto dinner, and we did a jigsaw and watched a movie. The bad weather didn’t stop the fireworks from the neighbors down the road so we watched those from home at midnight. It was a relaxing and very pleasant evening! Family dinner happened New Year’s Day instead which was also nice,
    My least favorite chore when the family gathers is doing dishes! At home, I cook and my husband cleans up but I’m pretty good about tidying as I go so there isn’t a huge mess. When others in the extended family cook they just leave every pot/ pan/spoon where it falls so the cleanup is a lot of work. I’ve never liked doing dishes.

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    1. Your New Year’s Eve sounds so nice – spontaneous due to the weather, but everyone had a nice time. That’s sort of what happened here – a spontaneous evening, but a pleasant one.

      If I cook, Brett does the dishes, but after it being just the two of us for so long he’s been frustrated by how many dirty dishes we produce each day. I try to clean as I go, and throughout the day, but they still build up. Thank goodness we have a dishwasher!

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    1. We are really looking forward to being there. Both Brett and I have really missed the island (except for the traffic and humidity) and have our fingers crossed for good weather while we’re there. We plan to hit up all our favorite places, although Duane’s Ono Char-Burger has closed (SOB!).

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  3. It is lovely to reflect on a wonderful family visit, yet anticipate an exciting move to a much warmer and sunnier climate. We also find it is always good to come home when we travel, but we still want to go after enjoying being home awhile. In your case Portland was home for so many good years, but clearly through your travels, and exploring —along with self knowledge—it seems where you two land must have lots of sun and little humidity. I for one cannot wait to learn that place as it is a destination I would like too!

    My husband and I call the time before travel the “getting ready to get ready” to go. I salute you on settling in at the airport the night before such an early flight especially when one thinks of the domino effect of one glitch. Travel, exploration etc is supposed to be about fun, enjoyment and relaxation. Unfortunately and often things beyond our control can go wrong—but now you have wrested more control and can look forward to enjoying those first class seats!

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    1. Thanks, Sonja! I know we are going to miss the girls, and I’m frankly grateful we have somewhere to go and visits to look forward to instead of remaining here without the girls.

      Sunshine and low humidity will be the two main factors that determine where we end up settling, and our list is growing shorter. I can live with humidity if I have air-conditioning, but I’d rather go without if I can.

      You are so right about how important it is to have some control over our travel plans, and we’re both much calmer now about getting to the airport in time to check our bags and get through security and down to our gate. All we could envision before is the car rental shuttle running late, or the driver not showing up, or something like that and not making it to the airport in time to take care of our check-in!

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  4. Have fun in Kauai! I look forward to reading about your trip and if anything has changed since you moved away. I was just there in December and wish I could go back…and stay there! I took the flight to/from Honolulu to Kauai and it’s so short I didn’t even have time to finish reading the articles in the in-flight magazine. Here in the NYC area, the winter has been very mild so far so I can’t complain, but there is just something about Kauai that draws me back there. I’m hoping I can go back later this year, but we’ll see. Since it’s such a long flight from here, I have to be able to take at least 10 days off to make it worthwhile.

    I know what you mean about massive apartment buildings sprouting up all over. They just finished building one down the street from where I live. The rents are the same as what you’re seeing in Portland.

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    1. My favorite thing about the flight from Honolulu to Kaua’i is when the flight attendants practically throw the little container of POG at your, and then are right back to collect the empty cup. That’s over and boom! you’re ready to land! We’re looking forward to seeing what’s changed and what’s the same. I know whatever we do our time there is going to fly by.

      One of the things about all these apartments going up is that many don’t provide parking. It’s actually one of my pet peeves about Portland. Neighborhoods become popular because of their restaurants and shops, but there’s not enough parking so cars end up parking down neighborhood streets and people who live there can’t find parking. This morning we had to park three blocks away from the coffee shop we visited!

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      1. I’ve been told that the reason these apartments don’t have parking is because they are designed for Millennials, and they don’t like to drive. They prefer to walk or use public transportation. No idea if that is true or not, but there are so many of these apartment buildings around here now and they are not real pleasant to look at.

        Yes, I agree about how they practically throw the POG at you, LOL!

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      2. In Portland, some of the thought behind not providing parking is to encourage residents to use public transportation more. It’s a worth goal but unfortunately, there are still lots of residents who want to own and car and drive so congestion and crowding remain a problem. It’s not a new problem either; apartments in NW Portland, many of which were built in the early 20th century, also have no parking for residents. Trying to find a parking space in NW is always an exercise in patience (with a bit of luck thrown in as well), and is happening more and more in other parts of the city now as well.

        I can’t wait to have some POG thrown at me on Saturday!

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  5. The gray has descended here, too, and I share your lack of motivation when it’s cold and gray. I also seem to crave carbs, which isn’t great either. We had a full hour (!!) of sun today – whoopee! But, it’s not the year for us to take a spendy sunshine vacation, so I’ll have to deal. I envy your trip to Hawaii (in 1st Class!).

    I’ve almost finished Season 3 of Mrs. Maizel, and I am sad to say it appears to be suffering from the same fate as many other shows. The first season is GREAT, the second is good and the writers often struggle to keep up a story after that. I’ll finish it, but it’s not as good as it started IMO. But I’m reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, which I’m really enjoying.

    The endless dishes seem to really get to me after a while with a houseful of company. I am one who likes the kitchen cleaned up between meals and at night (hate waking up to a mess), so I’m usually the one loading the dishwasher and washing everything. Luckily, our holiday guests this year did their own laundry, as there was at least one load every day with the little kids. Yikes. I don’t miss that.

    Those Disney movies all have one song that becomes an earworm, no? We watched Moana with the grands and everyone keeps singing “You’re Welcome” at every opportunity. 🙂

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    1. Hawaii weather in the winter was one of the best things about living there (summer humidity was another story, as you know). Even if it’s raining in Hawai’i, it’s beautiful (well, most of the time).

      Endless dishes have been the story here with the girls here. Thankfully most of the time Brett and the girls take care of them. A few years ago, when we were in Hawai’i, I remember cooking and doing the dishes every evening – I could not get out of the kitchen! – and one night I told Brett I had enough. He started doing the dishes and has taken over that duty ever since. (BTW, he’s reading Becoming right now too and enjoying it immensely. She has a completting story and she tells it well.

      Three days later and “Never Had a Friend Like Me” is STILL going through my head all day. Arrrggghhhh!

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  6. Sooo glad that your Hawaii time is near! Haven’t been to Kauai in many years, but have enjoyed the other islands and look forward to your reports. We too seem more affected by the weather; believe it or not, Southern Arizona has been cold and wet this fall, and we kept asking ourselves if the Oregon weather “followed us here” 😥 There has been a return to somewhat warmer, drier weather this last few days which is much enjoyed. Happy New Year to you and Brett and I hope our paths cross this year🤞

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    1. That’s interesting about southern Arizona’s winter weather this year – when I went to college there I wore shorts and sandals and had a suntan! The weather hasn’t really been that bad here this winter – we know it could be a LOT worse than it has been. There may be snow arriving the day after we leave though. So far in Tokyo it’s been warmer than it is here, which is unusual. I expect it to get bitterly cold while we’re there at some point though – we will be prepared!

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  7. Apartment buildings must be the new thing. They have built and are building a whole bunch in Highland City and Lakeland. Rent starts at $999 and goes up from there. Not sure what size they are. Don’t think I could live in an apartment. Too many people.
    Have a safe trip, I would love to fly 1st class.

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    1. We have been surprised by how many new apartment buildings have been put up in the past few years. There’s a certain sameness to them as well, in their design, colors, and construction, and many, if not most, don’t seem to have balconies or any way to connect with outdoors. I was shocked by how high rents were as well.

      First class is a real treat for us, but ticket prices were as low as we’ve paid for economy seats in the past so we snapped them up. First class is sold out too – I guess others found the prices tempting as well.

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  8. I need to memorize your paragraph about the new apartments being built in Portland. I live in Pittsburgh, and after a few years of placing on those “best places to live” lists, many people have moved here (lots from Portland, actually, to get around the high cost of living there). So now, of course, huge swaths of neighborhoods are being gentrified, restaurants geared to young professionals are charging $$$ for burgers, etc. I have been distressed about what has been happening to my beloved city, but I recognize in your words what I need to internalize: it’s just time for me to go from here and find my new place.

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    1. I am a fan of progress, and Portland has always been progressing (and progressive). Some of the changes that have occurred here have been very positive (IMO), but with other things, not so much. Unfortunately, Portland has progressed to the point of being unaffordable for too many people. Many young people who grow up here have been priced out of the market. Immigrants can no longer afford to live in the city, even out on the furthest edges. As I said, we’ve always loved this city (I actually first arrived in 1970, to attend Lewis & Clark College, which is now also unaffordable) but we know it’s not the best place for us any more, and that there are other great places for us to live and thrive, whenever we get around to settling down.

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    1. Thank you! We’re getting very excited about being back on Kaua’i in just a few days. It’s supposed to rain quite a bit while we’re there, but temperatures will be in the upper 70s and 80s, so I can live with some rain (and all that beautiful green).

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  9. Just want to thank you Laura for mentioning Susan Spann. I had never heard of her but your description of her works was intriguing. “The Claws of the Cat” was the final book I read in 2019! I really enjoyed it and mystery isn’t my normal reading category.

    My first book finished in 2020 is “The Girl with Seven Names” by Hyeonseo Lee. An autobiography about a woman who defects/escapes from North Korea and how she survives and thrives. Riveting – I had trouble putting it down – but long.

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    1. First, thanks for the book recommendation! I have added The Girl with Seven Names to my list.

      We are looking forward to getting together with Susan when we’re in Japan, and also looking forward to her new book coming out this year. It’s not a mystery either. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, and following treatment she felt she needed to do something big, so she committed to climbing 100 mountains in Japan and she did! The book is called Climb, and covers how she got herself to Japan and how she conquered those 100 mountains (including Mt. Fuji) and changed her life.

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      1. How empowering to set a goal of climbing 100 mountains and achieving it! Definitely saying to the world, “I am still here!”

        Sounds like you will have an interesting and fun get together with Susan in Japan.

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      2. I’m really looking forward to reading her book – it will be released soon, I hope. We follow her (and communicate) on Instagram and we’re looking forward to getting together. She is definitely leading the life right now in Japan!

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  10. GM Laura, if you have time/when you have time could you share the brand of your spiralizer and the features you like and why?
    We have once more decided to embrace the Forks Over Knives way to, and for continued health. We both were energized by seeing The Game Changers on Netflix and re-watching Forks Over Knives. While I can find bean and appropriate grain noodles do want to use vegetables when possible, as generally with processed foods there are additives. We ate this way for about 7 months in 2014 and 2015 but then I got lazy. Even so we had good health benefits so we have once more adopted this way of eating.
    Thanks!

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    1. We use the OXO hand-held spiralizer (and yes, it’s packed this time and ready to go to Japan with us – third time’s a charm, apparently. We like it because it works well and doesn’t take up a lot of room.

      I have not been eating well the past couple of months – way too many carbs – and I’m looking forward to cleaning up my diet once again. My stomach does not like it when I have too many carbs, so that’s my biggest incentive to eat more veggies and fewer starches. It’s been hard to do here though with having to feed our girls all their favorite dishes from the past. Brett and I tend to eat much less these days when we’re on our own.

      We can get Netflix in Japan and I want to check out those videos (again for Forks Over Knives).

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      1. Thanks for the info on the OXO Spiralizer.

        I, too, was on a mega slippery slope in late Fall and then of course, the holidays! I certainly understand how it is with family time. And I have decided that as I get older that I do not want to also be infirm.

        The Game Changers is a fairly recent documentary compared to Forks Over Knives with an even stronger message that resonated with my husband and I. I also rewatched FOK. So as a result, I got those FOK cookbooks down from their shelf in the kitchen and books by Dr.Esselstyn, who used food to prevent and reverse heart disease.

        We did this before and now there is so much more information out there. I also joined the closed and totally free Facebook group for FOK with so many recipes, inspiring stories and help.

        Good luck on your way to a healthy New Year, and safe travels! I look forward to your posts.

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      2. We are looking forward to our time in Japan – we always eat healthier when we’re there, plus we walk a LOT. This trip we’ve vowed to stay out of the bakeries!

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