Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A New Arrival

25 and I are happy to announce that we're . . .

brewing.

For any of you sillies who thought I was announcing a pregnancy, shame on you.  You obviously don't know me at all! Haven't you read my rants about children, and everyone having children, and posting about their children, and blah blah blah children?

We took the plunge a couple months ago and started homebrewing.  Much like a pregnancy, we didn't want to tell anyone until we were sure that we wouldn't lose the batch. It's been a slow process of telling friends and family.  Introducing them to what we made.  Talking about the techniques and ingredients.

Weiz was from a Brewer's Best kit. She was all Amber LME (liquid Malt Extract) and Hallertau hops pellets.

Our first beer was a Weizenbier.  She was a beautiful 4.6% amber colored wheat beer with a slight cloudiness that one wants in a wheat beer.  She has great fruity esters of peach/apricot/pit fruits and some nicely complicated flavors. Not much sediment in the bottles and great clarity.

Just like any first born,  we made some mistakes. It's possible that the fruity esters came from contamination (more than one great beer has been created by accident).  After bottling her, we put the bottles in boxes, in the garage, protected from light as we'd read was important.  Just about the time we did that, the weather started cooling off.  We didn't know that below about 62 degrees, the yeast becomes inactive and won't carbonate the beer.  In conclusion, we have great tasting flat beer. My take is that I'd rather have a great beer with no bubbles than a crappy bear with lots of bubbles.  25 on the other hand tends to like highly carbonated beers with lots of little bubbles so he was a bit disappointed.

The feedback from friends who are drinker and non-beer drinkers has been pretty good.  They all like the fruity complicated flavor thing.  They acknowledge that it's flat but seem to echo my sentiments about good beer-no bubbles as the bettern option.

While we drink our way through the 22 12oz and 9 22oz bottles that were the Weizenbier, we brewed again.  Our second is an English Pale Ale.  She was from a kit as well and she's made of Fuggles and Goldings hop pellets, LME plus some Dry Malt Extract and even Caramel Malt to steep. EPA was bottled last week Wednesday.  It should be roughly the same ABV.  Slightly darker in color and a tiny bit less cloudy. She still need another week of bottle aging before we open a test bottle. We were more efficient and drew 25 12oz and 10 22oz bottles.

Batch three is an Irish Stout we've named Mick, after a character in Hell on Wheels. He's still in secondary fermentation and will probably be bottled next week, then three plus weeks of bottle conditioning.  He was some LME, roasted barley, flaked barley, Northern Brewer hops (not pellets a first for us), two packets of liquid yeast (another first).  He's pristine and the last of the yeast is settling out now.

Like any proud creator, photos to follow. The biggest question at the moment is what to brew next?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Lousy Waiter

Not the kind in a restaurant that brings you food.

I have learned some patience over the years.  It's come very slowly.  Most people who knew me growing up would say that I as ready for things to happen sooner rahter than later.

Now my patience come in drips and drabs, often in certain places in my life while it still lacks in others. It's very difficult to be patience when dating.  You have a great date and then want the person to call NOW.  You want to go out for another date SOON. Waiting for things to happen can be rough.

In other areas, I have "the patience of a saint", not my words.  My mother has seen me interact with my grandmothers, both of whom before their deaths were affected by Alzheimer-esque symptoms.  I could sit with Grandma B for several hours to her repetition of "where are you living now?", "how have you been?" and about three other questions. When we were driving home, she asked how I did it, enduring the same questions ad nauseum.  My answer is that I don't know. She believes that with children and the eldery I have the patience of a saint, it's adults I have a problem with.  She's probably just about right.

I guess it's that both of those groups have an excuse for their behaviour and their ignorance.  Adults of the otherhand, are usually willfully stupid or rude, but tha't s a whole other blog.

Right now I'm waiting for work.  My current contract ends November 22nd.  I've known that for a while.  There were several options on the table.  If you've read the blog recently, you may have seen a post about Omaha.  I've passed on that project in favor of staying at home.  It doesn't seem like the best idea to have 25 move in and then spend six months half way across the country.  There are four current options are in the PNW with varying levels of details and confirmation. 

One won't start until January (unless it's delayed) and will run until May.

The second would be traveling along the I-5 corridor training at facilities in Washington and Oregon. This company has been looking for people on and off for over a year so I won't be holding my breath.

The third is very hazing.  Potentially as provider elbow support at a health system with 100+ clinics going live over several months, starting soon, maybe.  Very unconfirmed.

The fourth, at this point, will remain unmentioned because it is the one I am waiting to hear about.

waiting


WAITING


WAITING

Sigh,  I'm just not good at this.  The knot in my stomach tells me so.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Plans Unraveled

We had planned for The Enchantments.  We were meeting some friends Wednesday night to car camp and then we'd spend four days and three nights in an area of National Forest land that is so coveted, you have to win a permit in an annual lottery.  A friend, DR, had been planning it for us since May or so. I'd been the only one of the group to win a permit, for September 26-29. That would cover up to eight people.

But things started unraveling on Tuesday.  The forecast wasn't looking good, but it wasn't yet horrible either.  A bit of rain, cooler temps than we were hoping. We sent a flurry of emails around to confirm last minute details.

Wednesday morning DR pulled out sick.  He'd been fighting strep and it rebounded with a vengeance.  four days hiking in the wet and cold wouldn't help.  The forecast at the start of Wednesday was alright for Thursday and Friday - 20% chance of rain at night, highs of 47 or so and sun during the day, with Saturday and Sunday looking worse at 50% chance of rain during the day. We figured we could just cut the trip short.

The about 2pm on Wednesday the forecast updated.  It was 50% chance of rain all day Friday and 60-70% chance of rain/snow both Saturday and Sunday.  The high temperature for all four days was 42.

Grumble.

25 and I were skeptical Wednesday morning and our resolve gave out by those updated forecasts. We both like hiking and camping but four days of cold, wet mud didn't seem like fun. Cold you can plan for.  Wet is a whole other beast.

In what has become typical style, 25 and I made the most of it.  We decided to keep Thursday and Friday off work. We would drive over the pass and spend Wednesday night in Cashmere, a tiny town in fruit orchards. Then spend Thursday strolling around, going to a distillery I had a Groupon for tasting and tour, lunching in Leavenworth, the German themed town that will shortly be inundated for Oktoberfest, and then come home.

Or not.

Snoqualmie pass through the mountains was closed when we tried to drive over it on Wednesday. A detour would mean we wouldn't get in to Cashmere until ten. We took that as a sign that we should pack it in for the night.

Attempt number two at making the most of it!  Thursday morning we woke up, headed out and make it to Leavenworth.  Lunch of brats and beer at Gustav's was good.  I have an Oktoberfest beer that was mildly disappointing.  The brats for only $7.50 were a deal and it wasn't too packed. The town was busy but not overloaded.

We then made it to Cashmere where we went to It's 5 o'clock Somewhere Distillery where the owner gave us a tour and imparted knowledge. It was interesting to see the still and facility.  We also tried pear and cherry brandies, grappa, rhubarb liqueur, moonshine (corn whiskey) and gin.  A bottle of the rhubarb made it home with us as well as two cool glasses.  We also went to The Cider Mill for samples of three types of hard cider and several non-alcoholic ciders as well. We ended up, surprisingly, with a non alcoholic bottle or the original apple cider from there.

A stop at Milepost 111 Brewery was disappointing as it wasn't a brewery, but a brew pub.  That said, we each enjoyed a beer and nachos on happy hour, the whole lot setting us back a mere $9.81. The nachos were excellent.

A short drive back to Leavenworth to walk around and hit Icicle Brewing.  They have only a cold kitchen but the meat & cheese plate was stellar.  We had a six beer sampler with an additional taster of Apres Fresh, their fresh hopped beer. The tasting room is beautiful with a view into the brewing area and lot of lovely wood. I would definitely recommend a visit.  The only beer I found disappointing was their Priebe Porter, but was happily surprised by the IPA and Helles Lager.

It was a long drive back.  25 did all the driving.  I like riding with him because I always feel safe.  I even dozed a bit on the drive back.  It was cold and dark at 10:30 when we got home, our home.  It still feels neat to say since he's more or less officially living here.

Today we are cleaning house, moving him in, taking care of the To Do list. We'll pack more of his things up and move them here,  we have a Do Nothing day planned before the weekend is out.  25 was looking a bit burnt out as we've been going full tilt lately; work all week then completely full weekends. I'm grateful to have a day to give him as a reprieve.  It wasn't the weekend we'd planned but I think we're both enjoying it nonetheless. One more addition to the list of why 25 is wonderful: his ability to flex with the situation and make it into a fantastic opportunity, not a stressful issue.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Closeted

Now, only partially so. I've ceded half the closet.

His two drawers won't be enough any more . . .


 . . . because he's moving in.

25 is a fixture. We all knew it was coming.  Now, with talk of coming work contracts being out of state, it pushed our talk up.  We probably would have waited until next year if not for my job situation, but I don't think a couple of months early will make a huge difference.

Neither of us liked the idea of Skeeter(dog) and BJ(cat) being left in the hands of a sitter who would come by for a few minutes twice a day.  It seemed like a big risk to leave the place mostly void of people for months. Then there's the fact that we're already paying two lots of rent and mostly just living here.  If I'm away, then I'm paying the mortgage on a house we're not even in. To that end, this will free up some cash flow for both of us as we trek down the road to being debt free.

We've both been happy leaning towards each other.  I wouldn't say I need him.  I could, and did, live without him.  I would say I want him in my life, it's fuller and happier with him in it.  I would rather want him than need him, but I'll admit it's probably a mix.

We had, what we affectionately deemed, The Debt Ceiling Conference last weekend. We brought all our numbers to the table. What we make, what we owe, what goals we have. It went a million times smoother than I thought possible. It's nice in the short and long term to be on the same page. We talked about upcoming trips, bigger goals, etc. It's indicative of the way we approach a lot of things: straight forward, proactive to avoid problems. It doesn't mean there aren't problems, but hopefully they are smaller.

I thought the prospect of him moving in would be much more stressful. Yet so far, it feels easy and natural.  He gained is own 40% the closet yesterday and a full half of the bathroom. That's in addition to the 60% of the bed he regularly claims for himself.  Such sacrifice!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The RAV

​​
Every feel like your brain might be working against you?  Every wish you could turn it off?

I have an internal debate that has raged, well, gimped and limped is more like it, for years.  My current line of work has given fuel to continue the conversation.

I often work long days.  Tuesday, for example, was a thirteen hour day, 7am to 8pm.  I prepped for and taught a class, I worked on some lesson plans and additional projects, we had a team meeting. It was a very long day.  I actually didn’t mind because I felt very productive.  I was complimented by two different people about my training abilities.  It was nice to have concrete projects to work on, instead of trying to look busy while not having anything of any importance to do. There was quite the debacle a couple weeks ago involving one of the contracting companies (not mine) and overtimes rates, so as a result, we’ve all be told NO overtime, period. That means watching hours closely.

A thirteen hour Tuesday, plus five hours Monday and seven hours Wednesday means I am already at 25 hours for the week. Friday I’ve got classes all day so ten hours there, leaves five hours for today. 

Here’s the internal conflict:  After a long Tuesday, a short Wednesday followed.  I was home and finished with tasks by 2pm. I wanted to be lazy and read or watch Hell on Wheels or be generally non-productive.  Then the RAV (responsible adult voice) in my head says “What? There is a dishwasher to be emptied and clean clothes that need to be moved to the dryer.  You haven’t walked the dog in two days.  What about those hobby projects you always want to work on. And the . . . .” This is all true.  Some of those tasks are need to’s, some are want to’s, but there are always to do’s. 

Invariably I give in and do some chores. By the end of the day, I’m tired and sometimes resentful of not having down time. On the semi-rare day I do lounge around a bit, I feel guilty for not having accomplished one of the ever present To Do tasks that come with living in a big house that needs cleaning and maintenance, with two animals that shed and eat and poo, an wearing clothes and using dishes and the like. 

I try to balance all this, tending towards the productive, accomplishing things more often than doing bupkis, but it ain’t easy. Maybe this is why people started drinking.  It turns the RAV into a tone only dog can hear and it’s hard to be productive with a hangover. Even harder to think or feel guilty with one.  

Possible solution to my dilemma? Drink more!

Monday, September 16, 2013

How Would I Know If It's Analog or Digital?

In addition to the baby shower last weekend, 25's step bro announced, via 25's sis, that he and his wife are pregnant.  I won't go in to the fact that it's bizarre that Zoo, 25's sis, was the one to tell us, not the step bro, even though he and 25 have lived together and been family for about 12 years. I also won't go in to what I think of step bro and wife because who knows who reads this thing.

Instead, I wonder why people have kids.  What possesses someone to decide to give over their body to a parasitic creature that will warp said body in ways that means it will never be the same?  To have a kid whom they will have to pay for from now until the end of time.  To have a baby that will cry incessantly and ruin any future good night's sleep or gourmet meal. To willingly decide to be chained to a place, a budget, another person (the other 'creator', not to mention said child) in some way or another for, in most cases, the rest of ones life.

I'm 31.  I've never heard it tick. You know, the biological clock all women are supposed to have and fear once they hit the time in their life when CHILD BEARING MUST TRUMP ALL, because time is running out.  Nnoooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! 

Maybe I've spent too many years taking care of and educating kids that other people have screwed up beyond belief. I'm surprised school teachers ever have kids of their own. The saving grace of dealing with other people's kids is that they are other people's kids.  If it's sick, crying, generally being unpleasant, I can hand it back.  I got to go from the loud helter-skelter of work with kids, to a home that is quiet and clean, not the reverse.  I can go out as late as I want any night of the week, I can. spend my salary on things I want, I . . .  I digress. 

Maybe I'm waiting until I'm 'ready', though I suspect most people who've had kids would be the first to say you never really are ready.  I am definitely not financially ready for kids. I can't imagine having to pay for diapers and food and doctor's visits, and . . . and . . .and. . .ad nauseum while I still have debts. That being said, if only the debt free had children, we wouldn't be dealing with over population on the planet

I don't want to give up three day Bumbershoot weekends, and spur the moment camp trips and about a million other things. Many call that selfish or spoiled behavior but isn't it smarter to think and say those things, than to have a kid and resent it for keeping you from having the life you want? I've seen it happen first hand and it isn't pretty.  Everyone connected to that parent-child relationship is miserable.

I wonder what percentage of people who have kids felt an urge or desire to be a parent/to have kids. Some deep-seated need to sire an offspring, to nurture it to adulthood. I haven't had that pang or twinge.  I don't know what it feels like. I can't imagine it either come to think of it. Or do most people become parents accidentally, without a pang or forethought. Does that more about why so many people are lousy parents and so many kids are dysfunctional than anything?

25 and I have talked about this and we're on the same page.  We're leaving the door open a crack.  We may want kids someday but at this point we are both happy we don't have kids and don't want them now. Knowing that I won't disappoint him because I don't want kids, that we don't have an awkward, potentially relationship ending conversation awaiting us in the abyss that is the future relieves a lot of anxiety and fear. We've talked about the societal convention and expectation, about the shortage or resources and overpopulation that breeding has created, about people we know who are parents.  We both agree that at this point, we don't need to copy our DNA forward to lead a fulfilling, happy lives.

I'd be very interested to see comments from people who have kids, who don't, those who want them, and those who don't. Why did you decide to procreate?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Forced Social Conventions

Today I realized why people get married and why they have babies.  It's primarily because A) it's a social convention and B) it means other people give them stuff.

Living overseas meant very few weddings, and even fewer baby showers . . .actually I attended none of either and was no worse for it.  In fact, I was better off.  Going to these events costs money, often quite a bit of it.  After buying something to wear, a gift, a card, wrapping paper and a bow, travel to the location, food before and/or after, you can easily end up hundreds of dollars in the hole, not to mention the bachelor/ette party and bridal shower. And for what?  It was an event you either didn't want to attend to begin with, or you'd have been happy with it being a third as long as it was.

I do realize that some people have fun at weddings.  The main difference is that they know many of the other people at that wedding, and there is an open bar. Weddings/showers, etc, in which the attendee (me) knows very few of the other attendees (the weirdos) are lots less fun, but lots more awkward to make up for it.

I patiently suffered through a baby shower.  My friend, the pregnant one, is great.  I like her very much, hence the reason she and I have kept in touch since high school, an unmatched feat.  The only folks there other than preggo, her mom, sis and hubby that I knew were people I'd met at her wedding last year. The vast majority of them are married and have kids.  It was a co-ed shower, about twenty adults, and about five infants/toddlers around.  I'm lucky to have escaped without the plague or vomit on me.

If you are unaware of the phenomena I'm about the explain it's either because you have kids that you had early, or you live outside the US.  When you've made it to your thirties and your aren't married and aren't dragging around any germ factories children, you are in a separate class from those of your age who are. I find I have little in common with people generally, and much less with the married mothers and fathers in the group.  How about 3 days at Bumbershoot? Oh, Jimmy is sick? Sorry about that.  I'll send you the photos.  I'm off to Spokane/Missoula/Nebraska/whoknowswhere for months for work. Oh, you can't move about because you have a mortgage and your kids are in school?  I'll send you a postcard.  See where I'm heading with this?

My mother asked me if my biological class was ticking loudly.  My reply, verbatim:  If you mean is it ticking down (the time) until I can leave, yes.  If you mean do I want one of those (babies), no.

I didn't know those people and being in the same room with them, some blue clothes pins, cupcakes and a pregnant woman was not going to change that.  I'd have loved to meet preggo, just the two of us, but schedules don't seems to be allowing for that.  I'd have much preferred to give her a gift then and actually have the opportunity to chat to her.  Instead, during the gift competition, I waved from across the room and had two minutes of talk as I said goodbye and peeled out after two and a half (long, dreadful, painful, excruciating) hours.

I treat myself to some beer on the way home at Powerhouse Brewery in Puyallup.  A growler full of their Scottish Ale is chilling in the fridge now.  Almost makes the whole thing worth it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grown Up

I think today I feel like a grown up.  Not just for today, but like I actually made it. I have manage to drag, crawl, scrape and grumble my way into adulthood. It hasn't been easy, but it's rewarding to be here all the same.

Now today isn't my birthday.  I didn't get a new job, or a promotion or buy a house today.  All in all, it's a fairly unspectacular Thursday in the Great NorthLeft. It's slightly foggy with a high of 85 predicted this afternoon.  I'm working from home for now.  The dog is crashed out behind my desk chair. Nothing inherently noteworthy. Except in my head.

It's been noted that I'm far more introspective on this blog that in person, to which I acquiesce to. As I've mentioned previously, I do use this blog as an external meditation area and brain download facility.

I noted recently that I've been back in (near) Seattle for about eighteen months.  Somehow in that time I changed.  I have a career.  It's like a job, but with ongoing potential, fulfillment and growth opportunities that uses multiple skills and talents I have, plus requires that I continue to learn. It also pays a lot better than a job. It's soul sucking on a less often basis and much more self directed.

I have been paying all my bills plus cutting into my debt like a Canadian Lumberjack into a huge pine.  I remember the times, not so long ago, when I was first overseas and could barely manage my month to month living expenses, let alone work on any debt from before.  I was lucky it I didn't have to incur any new debt most months.  If it weren't for mom's understanding generosity, I think I'd have had to move back within months. I used to be ashamed to admit that there were times I needed help paying my bills.  Now I realise that most folks go through that time.  Aside from my car loan, I've reduced my other debts (school loan, credit cards, misc loan) by over half since my return to the US.  That's more impressive if you consider the amount of stuff there is to buy, do, see, in all senses pay for. I don't feel that I've deprived myself at all though.  25 and I have done heaps this year; baseball, football and soccer games, beerfests, music fests, camping, vacationing, etc.

Additionally, on the financial front, I started a Traditional and a Roth IRA (individual retirement account).  I found and rolled old 401Ks (similar accounts sponsored by previous employers) into one account, and have begun funding another account on my own, as my current company doesn't contribute to one on my behalf. I'm committed to making sure I have some options if I make it to retirement.

I'm in a relationship that feels like a relationship is supposed to (I think).  25 has the poise, intelligence and planning of someone old than those years.  He has been a true partner thus far. He helps around the house without my needing to nag him. He would rather talk about issues as they arise and avoid drama.  He is accepting and understanding of my shortcomings and encourages my desire to work on aspects of my personality and my life. He accommodates my need for planning and also spur the moment plans.  He makes me feel happy and at ease. From chaotic Seahawks games to backpack trips, he is never expects more than I can give and always seems to give what I need.

I have a new, very luxurious, grown up car.  I live in a house and pay the mortgage.  It's not my house, it's mom's, but she doesn't live here.  I take care of the day to day tending of the house, the maintenance, the garden we planted.

I have two charges that I care for.  Not children, but sometimes it feels like they are.  Doctors visits, cleaning up after then, etc. If you count 25, it's really three ;)

I read the Sunday paper, I drink coffee every morning, I take my clothes to the dry cleaner on occasion.  I think adulthood is official, and it feels allllriiiiiight.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Purchase

Not the biggest purchase of my life, it was under $200.
Not the most important purchase ever.
A meaningful purchase, no doubt.

25 and I have finally used them so now I can talk about it.

A couple months ago we made our first joint, couple purchase.  Now we'd gone to Arizona and dividy up those expenses.  I got the rental car, he got hotels, etc. This was a coordinated purchase.

We bought . . .


sleeping bags.

Lafuma lightweight 35, 600 down fill mummy sleeping bags that squish down in compression sacks to about 1lb 14oz and the size of a Nalgene bottle. They have been very toasty so far and easy to compress.  I'd highly recommend them. 

We coordinated the purchase because we wanted to get bags that had the option to zip together.  There are double bags, that is one big, two person bag.  Then the problem is who carries it? What if I want to go camping without him? I don't want to pack the weight of both.  This way, we don't have to zip together, and we didn't last weekend, but we can.

Some of you might be thinking "sleeping bags? that's a big purchase?" Yep, sure is.  These bags were roughly $170 a piece.  A chunk of change no matter how you look at it.  We knew we'd want to camp and backpack several times this year, and probably next.

It was an investment in our time outdoors and in the relationship.  We bought bags that wouuld allow us to go do the things we wanted to together, but it the relationship went belly up, we could walk away, taking our respective sleeping bags with us.

The bags are in the garage, living with our combined camping gear. It's all mixed up together, just the way joint possessions should be. Communal property. When we buy new gear, he buys some, I buy others and they all go in to the same box.  I know part of the reason I was able to select the Optima is because I knew we'd have his Subaru to use for hiking and camping. 

It seems a merging has begun.

Monday, September 09, 2013

We Survived!!

25 and I went backpacking over the weekend.  We've been camping together several times now, always car camping.  This was decidedly different.

I hadn't been backpacking since I did the Camino de Santiago de la Compostela in northern Spain.  Even then, it was like when I "backpacked" around in Asia, but always staying at hostels, not in a tent. In Asia, I could leave it in my room, throw it on the bus, boat, train, etc. For the Camino, I had carried my pack while I walked between 6km and 42km daily, from place to place.

For this trip we met the five people we'd spend the night camping with.  A couple of them are very good friends. We get along like family, for all the harassment that includes. I could spend lots of time with them and we don't rub on one another (too much). A couple of them were acquaintances that'd I'd not want to spend too many nights with. We made the hour and a half drive from the meeting point to Rachel Lake Trailhead. The next four hours were mostly spent staring at the ground as I tried not to trip and smash my face into any of the all too numerous rocks and roots that made up the trail. Roughly 4.5 miles to Rachel Lake with a 31.5 pound bag felt considerably longer.  There was a moment (ok, maybe several) where I asked myself why I thought this was a good idea.  I haven't been hiking in over a month. Heck, I haven't even made it to the gym.  Did I mention it rained/drizzled/misted on us all day Saturday? In hindsight, that was probably a lifesaver.  Our sunny descent on Sunday was fantastic but we would have baked going up in 70 degree temperatures.

We camped in view of the lake and were rewarded with some incredible views Sunday morning when the clouds finally blew away.

No snow when we were there!
One of the best and most important parts about this trip for me was knowing that my faith in 25 was/is well placed.  He never chided or chastised me for being slow. He always maintained visual contact and wasn't concerned when I wanted to stop along the way. We pulled together as things got tougher, not pushing each other about nonsense as we were tired and hungry. He told me I looked beautiful when I knew I could only look anything but. He was patient to the nth degree. He agreed for mutual benefit when I suggested that maybe we pass on the additional 3+ miles straight up and back to Rampart Lake. We really worked as a team to set up camp, make meals, clean up, etc. I don't think I can fully express here or even to him how far he's exceeded my expectations and burrowed even farther into my heart. I know that a good relationship is supposed to be a (relatively) equal partnership, but I suppose I've never had or really expected that.

We are planning a multi-night backpacking trip with a couple of the same people and a couple others. It will be one night of car camping and three nights backpack.  I couldn't feel better about my choice of team and tent mate. We have started preparing for that trip to the Enchantments by considering the choices we made last weekend and seeking to improve upon them.

If you don't hear from me in October, assume I either; A) didn't return from the mountain, B) maimed myself to the point I can't type or C) . . .

Friday, September 06, 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes

Life is what happens when you're busy making plans they say.

What if I was making the plans that rushing up to meet me?

My contract is set to end the last week of November.  I've know that since May.  That's not a shock.  I keep track of it so I know when I have to start the job (yes, it's like a second job) of finding a new contract.

I thought the new contract offer would come in October.  These things take time to put together don't ya know.  25 and I knew it would mean a talk.  We'd had a talk about having a talk.  I never say "talk" because that's not how we are.  We can converse openly about things in the relationship and don't let it build up in to a "We need to have a talk" moment.  Living arrangements, next job, etc would all be up for discussion.

I got my next offer yesterday. The parent company of the current hospital system I work for has other hospital systems around the nation.  Specifically, there is one in Omaha, Nebraska. It's in the middle of the country, in the flat, vague states of the midwest. Reminiscent of Missoula and Spokane, not exactly the place I'll want to be in January with the snow and the cold and all.

The details were few but important.  Start December second, break for Christmas/New Years, runs through the end of June. That's good news.  I already know folks on the team, the pay is good, my contracting company would be the same. I had lots of questions about the minutia of the new contract and then the brakes in my brain sqealed to a halt when I realized the talk had just been rescheduled.

A six and a half month contract away would mean big changes for things with 25. We had been talking about maybe living together when his lease is up in December. That's got to be considered NOW.  If I'm away, what is happening with the dog and cat? Who's taking care of the house? How much with custodians for those things cost?  What about the mental and emotional strain of being at a distance for so long? And those depend on the minutia of how often do I get to go home and for how long, is the pay enough to stay on, etc.

No wonder I didn't sleep well last night, I can't get my brain to stop long enough.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

What a Difference Eighteen Months Makes

It occurred to me, while driving, as all the most important and inane things occur to me then, that I've been home roughly eighteen months now.

I wasn't the first of our brave band of Jakarta sisters to go.  La Rus went first.  She make the jump back to California.  I've been down to visit and reminisce. She's one of the few I still talk and text with on a regular basis.  Last week she was awed that her daughter is starting eighth grade.  I just saw her last year and I swear she wasn't nearly that old then. Guess that means age is probably sneaking up on us too.

I was the next to go, last February, landing more permanently in Seattle in March. Since then I started a new career and worked very successfully in it.  I've traveled both for work and fun. I'm in a relationship (gasp!).

I'm not even close to the one with the most news. The kiwi got engaged several months ago. She is posting out save the dates for her wedding in Bali next year.  What a great excuse to go back and help her kick off married life right.

There is yet another member of the tribe with even more news.  UK, my former sushi companion and life line for many a night in JKT, has not only been engaged, and been married, but she's become an incubator.  I'm secretly hoping for baby chicks but I doubt I'll get my wish. She's flown the coop and headed back to England while her hubby sails the seven seas.

That's a year and a half for ya. Who'd have thunk we'd all come so far in such a sort time?  And yet, it feels as though my days in Jakarta were ages ago.

In a mere year and a half, I've settled in to coupledom.  We prefer to be home, cooking, relaxing.  Gone are the clubbing days of staying out until 7am in the most random places in Jakarta. Instead of going to the pubs and clubs, I host beer and cocktail "parties" at my house, party being best described as a simple gathering of people. We enjoy a beerfest on occasion, a backpacking trip, a recent pursuit of vegetable gardening and such. Though I'd hoped for this, even yearned for it, I'd also kibitzed friends who had become "boring" in the coupledom.  Who never came out any more. Now, the kidding has come full circle.  25 and I went to a birthday party for his friend.  It was in Seattle.  She is several years younger than me so the gathering was in Capitol Hill, in a series of bars and clubs. 25 has never been a wild partier and drinker in the time I've known him. After a couple hours of awkward small talk with people we didn't know, and some quality time with his friend and her bf, we hastily make our retreat.  We still didn't get home until 1am and we were both knackered. The friend's bf said he knew we'd be the first to go, that it wouldn't be our scene.

I'm happy to admit, both to him and here, that he was right.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Bumbershoot 2013

Some day I'll figure out how/why that is a synonym for umbrella . . .

but in the meantime I'll continue to enjoy it as the biggest, multi genre fest in the great Northleft (look at a map and think about it).

My friend D drove up from the land of hipsters to attend with 25 and I. We hung out at the house Friday night and created an attack plan for the next day.

Over the course of the weekend we saw:
ZZ Ward
Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience
Heart
Tegan and Sara
fun.
Vintage Trouble
Ra Ra Riot
Death Cab for Cutie
The Maldives
MGMT
The Sheepdogs

plus we heard part of:
Ayron Jones & the Way
alt-J
Cascadia '10

It was a fantastic weekend. The weather cooperated.  We walked to and from Bumbershoot from 25's apartment. He's not there much these days so we got a lot of use in with the three of us staying there. It was very nice not to have to pay for parking or mess with looking for a lot. We probably put in a couple of miles per day walking.

Last year, D had gold status for Starbucks. They are a major sponsor and have an area to get freebies and free drinks.  As I recall, the lines weren't bad last year and we had a few coffees.  This year we almost always had to wait to get in, and the lines for coffee fluctuated from almost non-existent to stupid long. I have a gold card so we had use of that special area. In the gold area there was instant coffee, tea, bottles of coffee + milk (caramel, vanilla or low fat). In the general area there were espresso machines running.  Both sections had changing areas and I think the plugs were full every time we were in there. In the gold section on day one they would open a bottle of the cold coffee you preferred and pour a 12 oz cup full, then hand you the rest of the bottle.  There were also individual packets of their instant coffees to take.  By day two they would pour you a cup but wouldn't hand you the bottle. By day three, all the instant packets were behind the counter. We reckon between the free instant stuff and the drinks we had, we had about $50 in goods.

Sunday was absolutely packed.  I noticed last year that the crowd seemed young and this year younger.  Maybe that's more indicative of the fact that I'm getting old, but I stand by it. The crowds Saturday for Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience and Heart back to back was definitely a little older and mellower than the show with Tegan and Sara & fun.. The line for the main stage wrapped through the grounds form over a quarter mile.  It only took 20 minutes to get in to the Key Area but they've got to work on that for next year.  I don't remember the lines being as long when the main stage was in Memorial Stadium.

All in all, lots of great people watching, excellent company, fantastic music.  Tickets that would have been 182 dollar plus tax if I bought the at the door were only $75 when I bought them presale months in advance. Only one trip to and from Seattle, low gas use and no parking to pay for. We took snacks to reduce the amount we spent on food.  Free Starbucks helped too.

It'll be interesting to see if 25 and I are back there again next year.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Come Hell or Highwater

I'm going to get back to blogging

A) because a very lovely British gentleman has asked me recently if I was keeping on with it. He said he liked reading it and wondered where I'd gone.  You know who you are you cheeky ginger.

2) because it is a fantastic place to unload the crapola that floats around in my head.

and #) because there's no way I'll remember this still when I'm old, or maybe next year even.

I'm resolving (again, I know. What's this, about my fifth rededication) to get back to it, err this.

That being said, yes of course there are reasons I haven't been blogging.  The 55 hour work weeks are one of the most obvious. Since I started my current project mid-April I've worked over 850 total hours.  That's a might high average since you've got to deduct the last two weeks at a mere 40 hours/week.  The company put the ka-bosh on all the overtime. I'm hoping the pendulum swing back to OT again when things get (farther) behind schedule.

I also haven't been blogging much because when I'm not working, I'm with 25. That's still happening.  I think at some point we because a thing.  A couple thing. Who knew that today, one day short of the anniversary of our first date, I'd be blogging about being with him?  Not me. Definitely not me.  The best part of that? He knows.

He knows that he wasn't what I (thought I) was looking for. He knew and was equally slow to get into a monogamous, exclusive relationship. He knows that I'm in a fair amount of awe that he's put up with me this long and keeps coming back, always with a smile on his face to put one on mine.

I think round-about the last blogs I'd just given over a drawer, and then two, to him.  Now he's got an, albeit small, dresser and a chunk of space in the closet. His hiking and camping gear lives in the garage all mixed in with mine. Our boots covered in the same mud dust from our last time out. He's got a key, and the garage door opener built in to his review mirror is programmed for my house.

He's in. In a big huge way, he's in.  In a fantastic and if I think about it too much, fantastically scary way, he's in.

I've been single for a long time.  There were minor flings over along the way, usually ending as quickly as they began. It's been  the past five plus years. He knows that. He understands and, I would venture, agrees, the molasses speed has been a good thing. Because here we are, 364 days after first saying "Hi, you must be . . . " and he's still here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Camping, part deux

Four days. Three nights. Two people. One tent. 

Hhhmmmmmmmm.

That could be a really long time.  I'm sure if you'd put my sister and I through that scenario when I was about fourteen and she was eleven one of us wouldn't have emerged from the tent.

With 25 though, it was easy.  Beer lubricated the trip and we took advantage of the woods to be grimy and not shower.  That said, I was still happy to be with him and we merrily laughed our way through the weekend.

To make the most of the Memorial Day weekend we headed to the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain range here in Washington State.  Our original destintation on Mount Rainier wasn't looking very promising as the weather reports got worse and worse as we approached Saturday. The switch in locale was a bit greater than I anticipated, granted I hadn't given it much thought other than to want a place with sun.


We ended up at Osborn Bay which is part of the Steamboat Rock campgrounds. It was a small loop of approximately fifteen campsites right on Osborn Bay lake that connects to the much larger Banks Lake. The sites were plenty big for just the two  of us but they were fairly close packed.  When we camp on the western part of Washington there are lots of trees around that give the allusion of separation and space.  Eastern washington was a desert until the Grand Coulee Dam irrigation project made farming an option there. Trees were few and far between.  The surrounding area was mostly sage brush and more than once we commented how it reminded us of the trip we took to Arizona last month.

25 and I had a one night "trial" camp trip recently and did well.  This time, we'd augmented our gear and planned for a longer stay with more meals. It all panned out. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  We didn't get on each others nerves, even when we were both a bit anxious about finding a site on the first day.  The weather was fantastic and I've officially started my tan for the year. I got a record low six mosquito bites.  I usually get that many just walking the dog at home!

A hike up Northup Canyon gave us amazing views of the canyons and coulee that glaciers had carved out tens of thoussands of years ago.

View from the parking lot of the Visitors Center
Steamboat rock is about a three minute drive from Electric City, and only another ten or so from Grand Coulee Dam. We checked out the visitor's center, made sure to go back at night for their educational but still really fun laser show projected on the dam and even went on a tour that took us along the top and inside. Thirty-three flavors of frozen yogurt were calling that afternoon and we made a stop in Electric City for that, ice at the smallest, most jam-paced grocery-cum-variety store then bought some firewood from a vet who was, very wisely, undercutting the surrounding store by a buck.

An arial view of the Dam to give you some comparison.  It is still the fifth largest dam in the world for output and was completed in 1942.
All around a stellar weekend.  I was lucky to have Tuesday off and 25 was able to request it off so we stayed three nights and didn't have to fight quite as much traffic driving home on Tuesday afternoon. My biggest disappointment of the trip was when we stopped in Ellensburg for lunch on the way home.  We'd planned for Iron Horse Brewery and they weren't open! Boo!

I suppose, if that's all I can find to complain about, I shan't complain at all. Fingers crossed that there will be time for more camping in July.  June is pretty much going to be work, work, work. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

25 as +1

I went to a wedding over the weekend.  It was nice living (far)away for years because I got to skip weddings and baby showers and the like. Now that I'm back, I seem to be making up for lost time.  Saturday was the fourth wedding I've been to in fourteen months. These things are getting expensive!

This wedding happened to be between a couple I know from hiking.  I met them about this time last year and was invited to the wedding with a plus one.

25 was my plus one.

Another minor milestone I reckon. He knew only three or four people in the wedding.  He'd met the couple twice.  I only knew maybe a dozen.  He said he'd go if I wanted him to and I said I did. We had to make plans in March because we stayed in Freeland, on Whidbey, overnight.

The wedding this weekend was on Whidbey Island, out in Puget Sound. It's a long squiggly island.  We took the ferry across to Clinton, on the southeast end and drive maybe fifteen or twenty minutes to Langley.  We left mid morning on Saturday with a few rough "I'd like to" plans for the weekend. We managed to hit Whidbey Distillery where we talked to the distillers, checked out the still and sampled some loganberry liqueur.  It has a wonderful berry flavor without being sugary/syrupy. I also bought a bottle that the distillers signed with congratulations for the happy couple.

We also hit Spoiled Dog Winery which happened to be almost a two minute drive from Whidbey Distillery.  A six wine sampler hit the spot and included Pinot Gris, Estate Rose of Pinot Noir, Piniot Noir, Malbec, Deception Red (blend) and Pomo di Moro, a white with apple and pear. My favorites were the Pinot Gris, Rose and Noir, which of course barely overlapped with 25's favorites - the Rose, the Deception and the Moro. They also had some fantastic chocolate and a blue cheese that the maker mixes a bit of Deception red into. The dogs, after who the wine is named, were very sweet and the vintners friendly and chatty.

After that it was off to get changed for the 3pm wedding. The ceremony and reception was held at Fireseed, again about two minutes from the distillery. It was a beautiful location.  The weather held for the day.  No rain and even a little sun later on. The ceremony was about twenty minutes, touching without being long and drug out.  Cocktails and appetizers followed immediately, then we drank our way towards dinner.  It was a condensed buffet of prime rib, chicken, couscous, mixed veggies, asparagus, roasted poatatoes & beets, mixed greens salad and two kinds of bread.  All of it was very delicious. Instead of traditional cake, there was a three tiered tower of mini cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries and fruit tarts. A make-your-own trailmix bar and giant lollipops were the take aways. A bit more drinking, dancing and talking before we headed for the motel at about 10pm.
Not the couple from Saturday.
A slow start to Sunday was followed by a stop at a farmers market that resulted in a purchase of rhubarb, bok choy, sage. We had coffee and snacks before the ferry.  After the ferry crossing we found Diamond Knot Brewery's Pizza kitchen. The pizza was interesting combo of toppings - red link sausage, chicken, blue cheese, ricotta in place of marinara, garlic and mozzarella. I tried the brown ale and Slane's Irish style red ale.  Both slightly above average but not stellar. We skipped a growler fill.
A stop at the grocery stop and then home again, home again. It was a long busy weekend and I think both 25 and I were tired by about 7pm Sunday night. Over the course of the weekend there were more than a few sentences that started "If we get married. . . " and we'd stake a claim to what kind of food we would or wouldn't want, the music we would or wouldn't play, etc. It was never awkward and true to form for us, we laughed our way through the weekend. It's amazing how far we've come when we came appreciate that we both can see and say that want the other in our life and don't get weirded out by the potential a wedding forces us to face.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Car porn

My new baby.  2013 Kia Optima EX with premium and technology packages. See the glory . . .

Bronze Metal exterior.  It really lights up in the sun.
And nice from behind
On cloudy days it can look charcol, grey or brown.
Leather interior. Tan seats, two tone dash (mine is tan and black) and black carpet on the floor.
The dash.  3 month trial of Sirius Radio, voice activation for phone sync and navigation, garage door opener built in. Did I mention back up camera?
There's eco drive, cruise control, two sunroofs.  Front seats heat AND cool, rear seats have climate control and heat in the seats. Now all it needs is a name.  Suggestions?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baby's got a brand new . . .

car.


I was due for a new car. A new new car.  It took lots of research, a few test drives and of course some bumps along the way.

The great thing about the 1995 Nissan Maxima I was driving is that it was paid for. In recent months it had gotten to the point that I was virtually making a payment a month in repairs.  New tires in April, a new starter in December, an oil leak issue in January. It had 150,000 miles on it.  The engine was replaced at abou 140,000 which is great, except that the rest of the parts weren't. There was a daily alternation of burning oil or burning gas smell.  The whistle of the leak in the sunroof liner was irritating. Every day I was worried that I'd end up on the side of I-5 waiting for a AAA tow truck.
My old car, except my front bumper was maroon and the rear was black.
I started my online shopping about a month ago.  Where to begin.  hmmm.  I'd had the Hyundai Sonata as a rental car in Arizona and like it a lot.  The ride was smooth.  The options plentiful (of course, coming from a car made in the 90's, every car by comparison has a million buttons and options). I knew I definitely didn't want the Ford Focus or Dodge Dart after having both of those as rentals in Spokane. The Nissan Rouge was nice but not a car I'd want to own. 

Eventually I settled on a list to test drive. Hyundai was the first stop.  The Veloster is a hot little two or three door car that is supposed to be driver focused and aimed at "car" people.  I really wanted to like it but at only 138HP @6000rpm it was fairly gutless.  I'd have had to get the turbo model and that seemed like a speeding ticket waiting to happen. It was easily the most disappointing test drive. The Elantra was a nice ride, not amazing but there were some nice options. A small mid-size/big compact that would fit my needs but not necessarily be anything special.
Hyundai Elantra
Next was Mazda.  They market themselves as a fun car.  And the Mazda3 was a fun car to drive.  Small enough to handle well but big enough to hold four comfortably.  The Mazda6 would have been even better, especially as the 2014 had just been released, but at $28,000 MSRP, it was pushing my budget. I didn't even test drive it because I knew I'd have trouble not spending the money.
Mazda3
Kia was next.  It wasn't on my initial list but after reading some good reviews and hearing second- and third-hand what great cars they are, I added it.  I drove the Kia Optima, a chassis twin to the Sonata which makes sense since Hyundai owns 34% of Kia and they are both produced in South Korea. at 200HP@6000rpm, it had plenty of get up and go but a price noticably less than the Sonata or Mazda6 for a comparable size (wheelbase of 110inches). It surprised both 25 and I as we hoped it would perform well but didn't expect it to.
Kia Optima
The last test drive was a Subaru Legacy. 25 has a Subaru and thought I should at least give it a go.  Next to the Veloster, it was the second most disappointing. I felt like I'd be paying for All Wheel Drive that I didn't really need. The ride was bumping and noisy.  It was a wobblier handling too.



Any bets on what I bought?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Naive Bleeding Heart or Sucker?

Last Friday I got my first paycheck from this contract.  Because it was the first, it was a paper check, direct deposit should kick in for the next one. Between work and a beer date, I rushed to the ATM to deposit it. I pulled in to the parking lot (in my tri-colored eighteen year old car that smells like oil/gas) and an African American woman, in her forties with a sling on one arm approached the car.  She asked if she could ask me a question.  I was skeptical but said ok, but it had to be quick.  She started to roll out how she and her husband were trying to provide for their kids and she has pictures of them and yadda, yadda. I had my check and my bank card in hand to go to the ATM and said, "This all has to go to bills".  She said "thank you anyway and than you for being so kind and treating me like a human being".

I crossed the parking lot lane to the ATM.  I had to wait a couple minutes while someone finished up and then I stepped up.  As I did so, a gentleman, maybe in his late 40's-early 50's, very overweight and leaning on a cane stepped up.  He was sweating profusely and laboring under his weight and the weather.  He said he wasn't looking for a hand out.  He wanted to earn some chicken and milk for his kids because the food stamps he got weren't enough.  I was a little flustered trying to listen to him as I followed prompts from the ATM but said I was sorry I didn't have any work to be done at the house.  Again, he thanked me for my time and for being nice.

I understand the logic of their asking/begging at a cash machine because we've all used the line "I don't have any cash", which can be true.  At the ATM, it can't be.  I think the fear/risk outweighs the benefit for them though.  Many people, including myself occasionally, feel nervous with a big check/lots of cash in hand.

There are two things that really struck me about these exchanges that both happened over the matter of about ten minutes.

The first is that both of these individuals, who I don't believe heard or saw the other, thanked me for being nice, listening and treating them like human beings.  Why is that so extraordinary? I am stunned dismayed that the poor are so disregarded in our society, though I am not surprised. When 25 and I went out for New Year's Eve I talked with a homeless man as we waited in line for the show we were going to. He also commented how few people were kind and even just to chat.  I can see that people are on guard because they are expecting to be hit up for money or help.  This gentleman from NYE had a tin out but didn't ask.  He seemed happy to drum and chat away, enjoying that someone had noticed him.

I understand that politicians and society at large has seen the poor and economically disadvantaged as a throw away group.  The bit that breaks my heart is that even as individuals, in a one-on-one situation, people are so dismissive of those who are struggling, even in this time of economic downturn on a massive scale. Thousands and millions of people are hurting financially now and weren't five years ago, there are probably an equal number of folks on the edge of the bubble.  I have the security of knowing that I don't have kids, I do have family to lean on in times of need.  Not everyone is in such a position and I have empathy for those who are striving to survive a difficult time.

Second: why do/did I feel like a heel for not giving them money?  I donate both time and money to charitable groups that suppose a variety of causes, homelessness and hunger among them. I donate to food banks and reusable good to St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill. I was in a hurry and not obligated to give them money, especially being that that ATM dispenses only twenty dollar bills.  That all considered, twenty or even forty dollars would not have bankrupted me.  It was my first paycheck in about seven weeks as I just started working again. Mentally, I'd already allocated most of the money for bills and such. And yet, four days later, I am still thinking about it.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Camp Out!

For the first time in years I went camping.  As tempting as it is to count a lot of the cheap hostels as camping, though they included a mosquito net, not a tent.

It was a beautiful weekend here in the Pacific Northwest.  The kind that we don't usually get until late July. It was high seventies, low eighties (roughly 23-25 celsius). Most of the campgrounds in Western Washington don't even open until the beginning of May so this is still early season. Since we (we being 25 and I) only had the weekend, we had to find somewhere close.  I stumbled upon a book, the antiquated thing with paper pages, that outlined campground in Washington and within selected Scenic Beach State Park and campground near Silverdale on Hood Canal with views of the Olympic mountains. What a location and less than a two hour drive.
25 hadn't been camping in a year, and we'd not been camping together yet. We both, wisely it turns out, decided to view this trip as a trial.  We were close enough that if we forgot anything really important we could go pick it up but otherwise we'd make a list of things that would be good to bring out the next time.  Only about a dozen items to pick up for next time and nothing that was a showstopper. Lots of things that you have to go camping agin to remember, like a tablecloth, long matches, extra firestarters, and the like. I also was reminded of why you don't just pack flashlights and lanterns, but test them before hand but actually turning them on.  I ended up with a dead headlamp, two dead lanterns, one of which was corroded so badly it was pitched, along with a broken camp chair.  Extra batteries are also on the list.
The highlight of the trip, other than the sun, was when a sea otter ran out of his den, down a felled tree and hopped in the water. The sizeable raccon was a close second.  We also saw some starfish, a couple of cranes (one flew over my house when we arrived back) rounded out the pack. The company was stellar, never boring or frustrated, even when I won at cribbage - which never happens. We listened to the Mariners game on Sunday, we walked by the water looking for crabs and critters, enjoyed roasting marshmallows and reading by the fire until there wasn't enough light left. Aside from the lumpy night's sleep (next time the air mattress is coming along.  We are car camping after all, no need to rely only on a little roll pad), it was a fantastic weekend.

We are already planning for another weekend trip in June, a two nighter if we can manage with work and all. The hope is that the weather will be just as good, though, as Seattlites, we won't expect that and we'll go either way.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Another One

It hadn't occurred to me until I wrote yesterday's post that 25 and I had another milestone in the not very recent past. We bought furniture sort of togetherish.

He is living in a small place that is a mash up of a studio and a one bedroom apartment.  Too many walls for the former, not quite enough for the later. He's been there about six months and wanted it to feel a little homier.  Really, he wanted to be able to offer a person a place to sit that wasn't his bed or the floor. Hence the shopping.

I happen to like both design and shopping so when he asked for some suggestions/my opinion, I happily gave him both. The key is that we were looking for something small enough to fit the space but nothing that would be featured in dorm room vogue. He had a few great pieces to build on - a dark wood dresser, a soft, lovely gray rug, cool moulding/trim in the space.

I was able to convince him that a little color and a little pattern could go a long way.  He's got great taste but it's very conventional and safe, see above description of dark wood dresser and gray rug.  End ended up with a chaise that pretty much looks like this:


but in a pale green with blue and marigold accented pattern.  He decided to change lighting from a tall skinny lamp with an upward turned glass shade to this:
which sits in the corner, behind the back of the chaise and gives off a nice glow that is enough to read by. He seems very happy with the choices.  I'm happy he asked me for advice, that he's happy and that I get to sit on it when I go over.

The trip to Arizona together, now sick care, a drawer, a chaise lounge, what's next?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Drawer

He's got a drawer.
Wikipedia says: A drawer (Listeni/drɔr/) is a box-shaped container that fits into a piece of furniture in such a way that it can be drawn out horizontally to reach its contents.
I spoke of the delicate dance that dating is yesterday when I said that you can't offer too much help or care too soon.  This falls in to the same catergory. Since we haven't defined what we are doing beyond "dating and enjoying each other's company" the roll out has been slow.  Like hunting, no sudden movements, no loud noises, nothing too drastic or unexpected.

A couple months ago we both acknowledged the need for toothbrushes at each others places.  Other than that, a planned night over came with an overnight bag. Socks, underwear, etc.  The toothbrush could stay, the rest y ou packed back and forth. It was a small, subtle claim that was disposable. If the relationship ended, I would simply throw out the toothbrush. There would be no need to have an awkward meeting to exchange "stuff".

From there we added sweatpants.  We each left a pair of comfy pants at the others house because work pants are not usualy comfy and it's not fair if he gets to be in comfort and I'm in nice (though less comfortable) clothes. I also felt a little strange about being in lounge wear when he was dressed nice because it sort of meant he was a guest. I didn't think of him as a guest, I didn't expect him to act like a guest, yet it was a dividing line. So we went to Target and each bough a pair of pants to leave at the other's house. Mine are grey sweats, his are plaid pj pants.

After spending three days at my place when he was sick, we've realized that a toothbrush and sweatpants might not be enough. Sometimes we end up staying over at the other's house without planning to. To address this I've started leaving a mini-overnight bag (sock, underwear, a clean top and makeup kit) in the trunk of my car, next to my gym bag which lives there too. When 25 last stayed over, I noticed he had three pairs of shoes in his trunk. Apparently he was doing much the same as I was.

He mentioned that "it would be nice" if he could leave a few things.  Internally I thought, "well duh!" externally I said, "of course, that would be fine". And so, he has a drawer.

There hasn't been any talk of drawer reciprocation yet.  He tends to stay at mine more than the opposite, both for a few reasons: geography of work to home, space to spread out, a dog and cat who can't be left alone too long. If I do get a drawer, I wonder what I'll choose to fill it with?

Such a insignificant object for such a significant step.

Wonder which one I'll get?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bronchitis

Not me thankfully, or not yet anyway.  25 got sick.  It's notable because it's the first "really sick/injured" of our relationship.  We've both had colds, but real sick is different.  Anything that requires a trip to the urgent care is different.

While I'm not happy he got bronchitis, it is a useful measuring stick.  Like I said, it's a milestone. It's great that it didn't happen when we'd only been dating a couple months. That could have ended things.  In my experience, women and very specifically me, tend to want to care for, even mother, a man.  I like to be helpful, offer assistance.  I've learned over the years, through trial and lots of errors plus a little reading (Why men date bitches and the like) you can't do that too soon.  When dating a man, you have to increase those sorts of "taking care of my man" sorts of things slowly, veeerrrrryyyyy sssssssssssssslllllllllllllooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwlllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyy. If you come on too fast/too much, they are like deer - they panic and flee. I can't speak for most women, but I often find that difficult.  I want to help. I have had to very deiliberately scale those efforts back to basics.

25 is like any man.  When he gets the flu is quickly turns in to manflu.  He had that a couple months ago, maybe January.  He had the sniffles, he wanted sympathy. He got a bit and no offers of soup, drugstore runs, etc. This time, with months behind us, it was different.

We both had minor cold symptoms Sunday a couple weeks ago.  I was congested, he had a sore throat.  We didn't really think anything of it.  My stuffy nose and sneezing lasted about four days.  25 was exposed to bronchitis at work and several other co-workers that were sick or had sick partners. He called in stick to work Wednesday and Thursday.  I took him soup on Wednesday night, hung out for a couple hours then went home because I had to get my beauty sleep for early work the next day.

Against my suggestion, he went to work Friday and was, let's say, less than productive.  Over the weekend he stayed at my place, mostly sleeping. He was burning up and had a very persistent cough, though none of the other more cold-like symptoms that I'd had. By Sunday morning he had decided that a trip to the urgent care clinic was warranted, and so it was. Acute bronchitis meant an injection and prescriptions.

The milestone part to all of this is that he let me take care of him.  He said more than once that he'd be/have been a lot worse off without me. He thanked me for being there, for having him at the house and making sure he had gatorade and soup. He seemed to notice that having me in his life for a long time would be a really good thing, beneficial on multiple fronts.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A New Flow

Week two on the newest contract and I'm working on my flow.  With this kind of work, the hours and days tend to change with and without notice. This week for example:

Monday: 07:00 - 17:30 (10.5h)
Tuesday: 12:00 - 20:00 (8h)
Wednesday: 08:00 - 19:30 (9.5h)
Thursday: ??
Friday: 08:00 - 19:30 (9.5h)

Monday, Wednesday, Friday I'm "assisting" in a training class.  I have to get authorized to teach at this facility even though I've taught before (standard operating procedure no matter who the facility is). That it what dictates my hours for those days.  Right now, there is only class 1pm to 5pm but that could and probably will change.  I showed up at 7am today to get ready for an 8am class only to find out that there wasn't an 8am class.  As my department lead says "we are water, we flow with it", which I like.  You won't last long as an Epic contractor if you can't be silly putty - flexible, ready to bend, adaptable and able to copy/memorize.

It's doubly nice that at this project we have lots of dedicated training rooms with hardware that is set up and ready to go. The rooms are roomy with space to spread out, projectors for demonstrations, a box of supplies for each room and individual temperature controls.  It's miles ahead of my last project.  The management seems very different so far aw well and in all the best ways.  They believe us to be the professionals we are. They give us the information and leave us to prepare, not reading it to us like kindergarteners. They understand that sometimes we will need to work more than forty hours per week to prep, clean up, prepare, etc in addition to class hours.  They have a highly rational and logical approach to teaching and management.  The key might be SO FAR, but I have high hopes and my fingers crossed.

Since I'm working, I can no longer go to the gym at 11am.  I'll take advantage to go midday when I can, like tomorrow I'll go about 9 or 10am, but that will be a treat.  Instead I have to figure out when to jam it in to my schedule.  LAst week I got to the gym exactly zero days.  I did run my neighborhood, but nothing the rest of the week.  I saw 25 on Wednesday, went to a brewery for a special tapping with a friend on Thursday, saw 25 over the weekend and now it's Monday. I've got to balance work, the gym and a social life.  I am having a hard time believing I can get up at 4am to work out before driving to work at 6am for a 7am start but afternoon turns into the "buts" and not my butt on the elliptical machine. After work I am prone to "I could/should go to the gym but I'm tired/I have to go shopping/I need to let the dog out/I have to _____". It's easier to find a reason not to go after work. A Mariners game, a date, dinner, exhaustion are all acceptable reasons.  Therefore, it's got to be morning, but MAN! 4am?!?!

I also noticed that the weekend flew by. I'm now playing that age old game of "how to I cram fun and hafto's into just 48 hours"?

Any ideas?

Friday, April 26, 2013

The First Week

I have survived my first week of work.

I always forget how tiring work is.  It's frustrating to be out of work but it's tiring to be at work. It's doubly tiring to try to look busy at work.

Now don't mistake me.  I am glad I'm back at work.  I'm glad to be working where I am but at the moment, there isn't a lot for me to be actively working on. Until I get credentialed (a process that is slightly different in each place but basically verifies that I know my stuff well enough and can present it well enough that both Epic, the owners of the software, and my current hospital system both feel that I will be a good representative for them) there isn't much to do. This time is usually used to learn curriculum, training methods, specifics for a specific facility.  I don't mean to brag because that usually gives the universe an opportunity to make you look the fool, but I'm a great trainer.  I don't have to learn training methods. The material here is about 95% the same as the last place I was a trainer and there isn't much (so far) that is special for here.

That leaves me with forty hours to fill and little to fill it.  There are a requisite number of hours listening to practice teachings by other trainers, or train the trainer classes on things like learning styles or training expectations. We use YouTube videos to bring people back from break so I spent a couple hours today building a YouTube library (suggestions welcome for funny PG rated under five minute videos!).

To make matters worse, it's been even harder to be at work this week because the weather has been amazing! The last couple of weeks, when I was off work, were gray, rainy and generally crappy. I started work on Monday and it was in the 60's and sunny and lovely.  It's been that way all week, into the 70's. This weekend it's supposed to be 57 and rainy.  That's proof that God created man (if that's what you believe) just to entertain himself and have a laugh.

Working with my contracting company (they hire and pay me to work at the healthcare facility but I still have to interview with the facility) was tough this go around too.  It took all week to finally get the everything they needed and vice versa.  I had to request timesheet submission information no less than four times.  I sent them back their start up packet and apparently missed a couple signatures.  I actually think two of the forms had been left out of the first packet but whatever.

I'm once again a working stif which does mean that weekends are significant again. With that, I'm off to daydream about making the most of my measly two days sans work.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not a Myth?

When I lived in Indonesia the locals swore that everyone got sick at change of season.  It's because it's (enter adjective here that is a change from what it just was - hotter, drier, wet, cool, etc). I didn't really believe it, just as I didn't believe my Guatemalan house mother when she said I'd get sick because I walked around the house barefoot. Baaah, old wive's tales!

Spring seems to have sprung in the Pacific Northwest and I'm sick. 25 is also sick with a cough, aches and flu like symptoms.  Two other trainers I'm working with are both sniffling and sneezing in class and I just found out my sister got sick over the weekend as well.

It could be that my allergies started the same way you start a race -with a bang and all at once- but that seems less likely.  I can't seem to draw in oxygen through both nostrils at the same time, and usually only one if I'm lucky.  I have sneezed no less than a dozen times.  Due to both the previous points, I've been fighting a headache.  I can't get my ears to pop and find it difficult to focus. 

Maybe there is something to the "change of seasons". The temperature has increased a whopping eight to ten degrees as it is supposed to hit 70 later in the week.  It seems early for hayfever but I've read a couple of news stories that report earlier and more severe pollen seasons due to climate change.

It's amazing how I take breathing for granted until I can't.  Such a "simple task" when not sick becomes the most strenuous, difficult thing to do in the world. On that note, I'm off to pop a zinc lozenge and find some menthol rub.

Boston

I know I may catch hell for this but I've got to ask: In the wake of the Boston bombing (which I have elected not to talk about), Facebook blew up (bad, unintentional pun) with people posting "I'm praying for everyone in Boston", "Pray for Boston", etc. How many people who put those sentiments out there actually pray?  I don't pray.  I'm not praying for Boston.  I'm not praying for them the same way I'm not praying for anyone else, not just to be especially spiteful.  I understand, as a society, we generally lack the words to deal with death.  That's a conversation for another day because we use euphemisms and catch-alls to talk about it. I drove by a local church who's reader board said "Pray for Boston" and I thought well, it's a church so that makes sense.  On the other hand, I saw several people post something similar on FB.  These are people that I know have no religious affiliations so it left me scratching my head.

Also, at what point does an incident become a national tragedy to be forever and ever memorialized? The bombing in Boston was horrible. Three people died.  It is getting lots more coverage than a bus wreck that kills nineteen. Or the bombing in Somalia last week that killed 28.  I'm sure there's an element of the homeland vs elsewhere. Anything that happens in the US gets lots of media coverage simply for that reason. Most people can't be asked to know where Somalia is, let alone what happens there. I can understand the coverage after Superstorm Sandy because that impacted tens thousands of people and had a final cost of tens of billions of dollars. There was a huge explosion in Texas the same day as the Boston bombing that killed fourteen people (so far, which is eleven MORE than Boston), yet I haven't seen more than one or two headlines about it. I won't get started on the fact there was another earthquake in China today that has a death toll of over 208 so far and is the latest in a series of quakes that are possibly triggered by man.  Instead, Boston has been inescapable on the internet, the radio, facebook, etc, etc, etc.

I suppose the bombing is getting lots of play for a similar reason that a plan crash does.  It's out of the ordinary. Bombing don't happen everyday (well, outside of Afghanistan and Iraq) so regardless of the size of the bomb or the number of affected, it's a rarity. It also sells headlines because it prays on people's insecurities. The media can feed the beast that is born shortly after an event. A beast that feeds on information, pictures, interviews, however important or superfluous and who's life the media tries to extend.

After events like this, especially when it happens in the US, it doesn't take long for the public's bloodlust to reach a peak. In cases like Boston, where the suspects flee and died or are seriously injured in a hail of gunfire and tactical maneuvers, the bloodlust is quickly quenched. It means that there isn't a wait for a trial, sentencing and a slow moving judicial system. It also means that there isn't any information gleaned, no insight gained, no knowledge that might prevent any of this from continuing to happen.

I didn't have a visceral reaction to this attack, much as I haven't for the attacks I see on international soils. I ponder the why's, the how's and the what next's. It leaves me with more questions than answers and mostly about who we are as a species, as a culture, as individuals.