Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Wrap-Up

Well folks, I'm trying not to get too excited or hopeful about life BUT....there have been a bunch of good lil things happening and being put into motion as of late.....

1) I applied to massage school. I have a meeting with admissions on Tuesday. I have to trust that I can afford it...and I'm still not 100% sure, BUT I'm hopeful in so many ways that this might be a great answer. I had a great meeting with a most beautiful woman who is a practicing therapist and that helped rid some of my concerns. I'm excited by the notion of learning something new and being able to help others via therapeutic touch.

2) I spent a weekend at my parents place that was well needed. Good for my soul...and I split the cost of driving with an old buddy R and we had a great time on the drive together. Also saw my gal Brook before she moved out of there and was able to enjoy a bit of the Blackberry Arts Festival.

3) I rented out both the rental room AND the guest room again for the rest of Sept-Dec. I have two gals that will transition in mid-month as the two guys transition out. I am holding my breath that this works out as intended and that the three of us mesh well.....but by renting out both spaces, I have much more of my financial needs covered.

4) Original housemate M is back in country for two weeks and we had an evening to touch base and chat. We came to a couple of agreements about when he intends to move back and how long he intends to be here, so again, hopeful that all will go smoothly. He'll be here later this week for another overnight in the guest room before he flies back out for Taiwan.

5) Current housemate T and I completed the rest of the Spring Water trail by bike, which was 30 miles and definitely the furthest I've rode a bike in a long, long time if not ever. It was a great day though and I'm glad to have crossed that off of my summer list! I also finally bought a helmet and lock, so hope to be able to use the bike for some close-by errands more readily.

6) Tall D rented paddleboards for the long weekend and we've spent the last two days practicing while driving around the area looking for smooth water! We're headed out again tomorrow but I'm seriously in heaven that he was able to pull this off :) Seriously, all smiles. We were planning originally to try to do an overnight backpacking trip, but I have been having an off week health wise so he decided we should stick around and not push it so hard (although I still got in my final 14 miles to make my 60 average a month goal! :)) This week we also spent a day down in Salem at the State Fair and we had a lot of fun! We checked out all the farm animals, rode the fair gondola, indulged in delish fried fair food, rode some rides, played some games (and I won the dogs stuffed puppies!), watched a dog demonstration, listened to some free music, and all around just enjoyed feeling like teenagers again. And I have to say....regardless of what all this time together means....this week, I've felt very, very spoiled and really just have had a great time.

7) My landlords are replacing the falling down corner fence....and the new roof was put on the house this month as well. We've also had some rain so my need to constantly water bushes/garden has lessened.

8) I'm continuing to be in love with trail running :)

9) My boss is switching out one of his 4 credit classes for one of my 3 credit ones. It'll be a lot more grading, but it also means between $500/1000 more this term. Have I mentioned that I love my boss? I also finally met up for dinner with a colleague who has been wanting to get together, and it was great getting to listen and get to know him a lil bit better. Still have full-time apps out as well....

SO again, trying not to get too hopeful in case of backfires or none of these good things actually pans out.....but I'm finally feeling a little bit of potential parting of the clouded skies....
....and there may have been a major worried plea to the Big Man that was lifted up while at my heart is slightly turning....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Summer Staple: Thrifted Dresses

So y'all know that I love dresses and skirts anyway, but seriously this summer I feel like they're all I'm wearing....well that and work-out gear! Ironically, one of my housemates came home the other day and saw me still dressed in an actual dress and reported that I looked really nice...that's when it dawned on me that normally in the evenings when he comes home, I'm already in sweats or I'm still in work-out gear from yard work or working out! Ha-oh man! But so far this summer I've still been putting old staples and new thrifted skirts and dresses to work!

Swim-wear cover-up & unofficial good-bye party for a friend:
Usually I don't expose this much cleavage, but lately I've decided that as long as I'm covered I might as well rock it on occasion.....

Brew Fest attire:
Cargo skirt was perfect as I needed pockets to hold my phone & ID so I didn't have to take a clutch. Both the skirt and tank came from another friend's closet.

Family BBQ: 

Granny visit & sushi w housemate:

Dinner at friend's place;
This I honestly love. Felt like it looked good but was incredibly comfortable too. 

Drinks downtown with the guys:
I've been wanting to wear this downtown for drinks and finally had the opportunity to do so! Sometimes I feel like maybe it's a lil too young at this point, but I do really like the dress also!

Every single dress pictured was thrifted and as mentioned the skirt/tank combo came from the discard pile of a friend, so really only the cardigans and sandals in these pictures came new from a store---and that to me is a major score!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Year 30 Review Plus Bucket List?

So I always see the 30x30 lists and wish I would have done something along those lines if I had seen them years ago. In theory, I always like something to be moving toward....although the last several years have also shown me the need to "go with the flow" more and to just recognize that sometimes life sort of takes it's own major twists and turns. There's no controlling life....but there's much enjoyment to be had along the way if we're capable of just rolling with it.

Ironically, as I reflect back on year 30....I don't feel like it went as well as I had originally hoped, but it also surprised me in many, many ways and made me more aware of my own ability and strength than I ever would have imagined possible. You know how people can spend a lifetime describing you one way...but you just never believe it? I still don't know that I would describe myself as a "strong" individual (especially when I am the one who knows where all the insecurities and major moments of weakness/darkness exist and surface in my mind), but if there's one thing that running specifically showed me during the last year, it's that I'm much stronger and capable than I ever would have thought possible. In fact, if there's one thing alone (beyond the two dogs) that saved me during the last year and that I'm most proud of (as shallow as it sounds), it would be the shape that I got myself in, the way my body looks and feels, and the fact that I officially feel like I can call myself a "runner" and a fitness lover. When you can control nothing else in life, at least you can generally control the amount of miles you get in or the amount of times you sweat it out in nature....and those things seriously made all the difference over the course of the last year.

So what did the last year bring?
Well three major blows:
---The chaos of the separation and the finality of a divorce that I didn't really want
---The diagnosis that while it's incredibly slow growing (and being monitored) my father does again have cancer
---The loss of Tall D's coworker who was KIA
A few smaller blows:
---Not being able to secure additional employment
---Having to remain still (aka no affordable jobs elsewhere and not being able to afford the acceptance to grad school in Denver)
---Accumulating more financial debt once my savings depleted
---Having to owe in taxes (although minimal) for the first time ever
---Having to submit to needing helping from my parents
---Struggling emotionally off and on throughout the duration of the last year
---And while very minimal, recognizing that Anna is aging and can't push like she used to

But there have been some really awesome MOMENTS and accomplishments in the midst of the blows as well:
---Seeing my girls on my trip to Savannah & taking the day trip to Charleston
---Having Katie fly out to visit last September (when I most needed it) & showing her around Oregon
---Learning how to kayak & snowshoe
---Going white water rafting
---Buying beautiful dishes that never cease to make me smile every time I use them
---Backpacking trips this summer
---Meeting some awesome people via my various housemates
---Running the Starlight 5k with Tall D & Ernesto & the 10k with Sheila
---Achieving half-marathon mileage with the dogs & all the many miles throughout the year
---Showing Cait around Portland & her trip to our hometown in early spring
---The fun week having Christina back in Portland: biking, kayaking, & celebrating
---Spring break road trip to San Francisco with Matt & many hikes/runs together
---Settling the house/patios/yard into something comfortable & representative of me
---Increasing food preservation & cooking skills
---Dinners or drinks spent with friends just letting me be

I accomplished much on my list for this year:
Kayak lessons and trip (Aug '12 & July '13)
Half-marathon distance (Dec '12)
Finalize marriage/divorce (Oct '12)
Girls backpack trip (Sept '12)
Buy dishes (July '12)
Visit out-of-state friends (Aug '12; Mar '13)
Donate $ (Aug-Dec '12) although financially this hurt me in the end....
Seagull tattoo (July '12)

Although I didn't get to Argentina, surf lessons, paying down my debts, or volunteering in Africa (although I had a contact....I got nervous about spending the money without having a job lined up after). I also have yet to find a new job or a new direction in which to launch myself to allow for financial independence.

Recognizing that 30 and my list was over, I then thought about trying to make a list of 35 goals before I reach 35, but you know what...being that it's only four years away (and that I've spent the year struggling to find a job and pay my bills) I don't know that what I started to list was really realistic. And when I tried to extend that list to 40 before 40, well that list and some of the items on it made me a little freaked out. (That list also made me realize that there might be some work I need to do regarding very separate types of futures that I desire...and that while there are some things I like the sound of in theory I don't know that I REALLY want to go thru the steps to complete those getting a doctoral degree and running a marathon...) There are also a lot of things that I can list that sound fun, but I definitely won't feel I'm letting myself down if I don't complete them. So while I'm still making a list, a lot of it is in theory and are ideas rather than things that I have to complete.

Although there are definitely things that I DO want to do:
Return travel to see family & friends & the remaining parts of Argentina
Volunteer trip to somewhere in Africa
Find a new job/direction & gain financial independence
Get.out.of.debt completely
Continue outdoor pursuits & try new ones
Make a positive impact on others
Continue to travel & explore new parts of the US & world

And there seem to be some major themes I'm noticing about what made me happy this last year and what I've tentatively listed under the tab thus far:
Being active outdoors
Sweating it out
Trying new things & learning new skills
Doing little easy things for others & being appreciated
Spending sometime alone
Enjoying moments with friends "just being"
Teaching others new skills or showing them new things
And these are things I'd like to continue to I continue to evolve and figure things out.

So for now you might find a new tab that lists items that I think I'd really like to do at some point in my lifetime (whether they get accomplished or not...well edits might happen). But like all things, it's nice to just list ideas and things on the blog...and maybe ruminate in writing :)

Are there things that you really, really would like to make sure to do in life?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A 31st Birthday Weekend

So just for the record, I've decided that I'm officially 29 let's just set things straight :)

But I seriously had a most phenomenal week seeing so many old friends I hadn't seen in years and going on the backpacking trip, and the weekend celebrations were just the tip of the iceberg.

On Friday evening my cousin and I headed out to the local Hillsboro Hops baseball game:
A gorgeous sky view from the grassy "general admission" seating.

We left early in the 5th inning since the score was already 9 to 2 in the 2nd inning! :) And from there we headed over to the nearest McMenamins brewery for food and our favorite Ruby brews.

On Saturday, I ran errands and finished putting the final touches on the yard/house for the weekend BBQs. A late afternoon jog with the dogs and a hop in the shower just before Tall D showed up to start getting his movie screen ready. Altogether I think there were 15ish of my friends and their significant others who made it over to get good food, mingle and laugh, and share great beverages. It was SO wonderful to see many of my favorite local faces and to be surrounded by people who bring me so much joy. Tall D had made his amazing from scratch carrot cake and I can tell you that it was completely gone by 5pm the next day (seriously, his cake is amazing....). While just a small handful of us remained, we finally put the outdoor movie on at about 1030 (my poor neighbors!) but it was great lounging in the backyard laughing along to Hitch. :) Tall D did an amazing job with his outdoor screen and it was great to see his idea come to fruition. 
Tailend to the BBQ with just a handful of people still present on the patio

This year's amazing cake.

The next morning on Sunday (my actual day), Tall D and I went out to brunch after cleaning up the house. He treated me to a great local establishment here on the westside and I had an amazing pesto BLT on croissant and a garden Bloody Mary to start the day off right. After dropping me back off, I got the house ready again as my parents pulled up. An hour later the house was full again with many of my extended family, Granny, my parents, and my brother and his lady. Again, it was so wonderful to just be surrounded by so many of my loved ones. (Although ironically, Mom and Dad had Granny's audiologist come by to finish fixing her hearing we had an intermingling of business and pleasure...ha!) Two of my aunts, my uncle, Granny, and my brother and his lady hung around until almost 5pm...and it seriously was just so great to have everyone around this year. I can't think of a better "gift" than to be surrounded by the people that you love on special days. 
With Mom, Dad, and Granny

This lady makes every day a special one...

Add on to that the texts and Facebook messages that arrived from many of my Argentine "family" and friends and all my out of state gals. Seriously, so much love.

My house is full of fresh cut flowers. My wine rack is full and my beer is restocked. My fridge has plenty of left overs. There are a few items from Mom and Dad and several gift cards for food or other goods for my use from a couple relatives. The cards were even especially funny this year! And I have to say, Tall D went over and above and gifted me $100 to REI (for hiking boots....or snowshoes....or part of a starter bike....).

But seriously, more than anything...was the time people took to just be present...and to express their love. Because that more than anything is the best gift of all....

Might be one of the best birthdays yet....

Monday, August 12, 2013

Indian Heaven Lake Loop Backpacking

Regular D and I headed out about 10am driving East on 84 and crossing the Bridge of the Gods over to Washington's side of the Gorge. I got a bit of a late start heading out to get him as I was researching options and trying to print maps to the trailhead that morning. We got to the Thomas Lake trailhead, loaded our packs on, and headed up the Thomas Lake trail toward Blue Lake. Tall D had found the hike for us the night before and the general map/route can be found here. The entire trail has a diverse terrain from forested areas, open meadows, a view of the mountain at one point, and gorgeous lakes. There are more lakes/ponds than are named on the trail map. 

We covered about 8.5 miles the first day before camping at Bear Lake in a great lil spot. (The mileage on the map is slightly off I must say as I measured distance with my GPS watch....) It's always fun to hike along parts of the PCT and on this particular stretch we met quite a few section hikers and many other campers/dayhikers. The majority of the increase in altitude occurs heading up toward Blue Lake, although you continue to climb until you reach the top of the Lake Loop at Clear Lake. The beauty of that was that most of the 6.5 miles back on Day 2 were all gradual decline :) Honestly, the hike was gorgeous, the route wasn't too strenuous, and I have to say that it was probably one of the most enjoyable backpacking trips I've been on yet. The lakes were warm enough to swim, fish were biting, and the general surroundings were very pretty. The only real downside: mosquitoes, which are to be expected in most marshy lake settings especially this time of year, but even with a hefty spraying of repellent I came back covered in bites from the 24hrs of exposure. 

On an open section heading toward Thomas Lake, 2-3 miles into the hike.

Lemei Lake, where the "lollipop" or lake loop starts

Wildflowers along a section of the trail

Wide open meadows nearing the top of the loop

Bear Lake from near our campsite

The grassy point at Blue Lake where I swam and sunbathed, while D fished and lounged on our way back down trail

Photo taken by a lost dayhiker that we rerouted back uptrail using the maps.... :)

Seriously a great time and a great mid-week outing. This trail is a busy one so the mid-week ventures continue to allow us to have a bit less exposure to others. Although with how busy this one was, I'd almost hate to see what it can be like on the weekends!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Early August Randoms.....

....and yup, I'm so tired that that is as creative as a post title that any of you still reading are going to get! :)

Quick update of randoms:

---Life has been a whirlwind...obviously! Had lots of family coming and goings to celebrate Granny's 102nd birthday. Can hardly believe she's really that old and sure was great to have extra family time. (Potentially this will all be a post on its own.) We had our regular ladies tea party for Granny, there was a BBQ for my cousin and his wife who were visiting, some BrewFest action with same cousin, wife, and his parents (which are my aunt & uncle I'm closest to overall up here), two celebrations for my baby cousin's very belated 21, and Mom was here that particular weekend. That same week prior Granny had been here for her regular baking day and we made cookies, muffins, and mini-quiches---DELISH!

---In that same week my baby cousin spoiled me with a full body massage (given on the picnic table on the patio with the breezes swaying and the birds chirping---DIVINE!). The massage was well needed because my back had started to seize up the week before and I had been struggling with it. The massage loosened up everything and enabled me to be able to work out again. Although I've been struggling with some muscle tightness off and on since then. Trying to remember to stretch, hydrate, and use the foam roller that is on loan.

---I've gone on a couple other bike rides in the last month and honestly am finally falling in love with the idea of bike transport. It's taken me years and years.....but I might officially be there. There also was a trail run with Tall D, which turned into a 8 mile run and 11 total miles traveled for me---was loads of fun and made me fall in love with the easy accessibility of Forest Park. And there have been a few other jogs in there too.

---Signed up for a massage career preview day. Not sure how I'd fund the program at all, but it's still sounding appealing and would just be one year.... Also have three contacts to engage with to ask questions, etc.

---Have two housemates currently for August. Both are guys. One is married and his wife was here this last weekend. Both seem like they will be great short term options (one will be here until Sept 4th, the other until Sept 15th) Have another ad posted for after them.....

---Canned peaches. (Started this at 11pm with mom and I finished at 1:30am. Called Tall D at 1215am for a refresher on how to use the canner :)) Canned green beans. (My Cali housemate was quite intrigued and watched the whole process from start to finish.) Froze lots of peaches and blueberries. Baked a lot in July. Dehydrated zukes.

---Floated the river with the boys in July. Haven't seen much lately of regular D, but we're headed out for an overnighter backpacking trip today/tomorrow. Have been spending some time each week with Tall D--meeting up for dinner & a movie (The Great Gatsby shouldn't have been a flop!!, The Intern was funny, and Admissions (rental) was okay), the trail run, finally went shooting one day!, a couple afternoons of short term hanging out, etc.

---Still no job leads and right now the pickings for applying are slim. Hmm.....

---Had to drop Granny off in Salem today so my parents can take her down to stay with them for a few days. Stopped by to see one of my gals and her adorable lil girl. Hadn't seen them in over a year and it was so great to spend an afternoon catching up. Yesterday one of my favorite buddies from high school came over with his wife...and again it was so great to finally meet her and see him, as I haven't seen him in probably two years! It's always so nice to have those friends who regardless of the amount of time that passes, it's just as though no time has passed at all.

---This weekend there are two BBQs for my birthday. One on Saturday with my friends (which Tall D is tentatively providing a movie screen so we can try to watch a movie in the backyard AND is baking me one of his amazing carrot cakes from scratch!) and one on Sunday with my family. Friday evening my cousin and I are catching a local baseball game. Looking forward to all of the weekend!

---I've been working on the back yard then due to the upcoming BBQs. The patio got rearranged and twinkle lights were put up. Lights got added to under the kiwi and the bush itself got trimmed. The mulch finally got spread, bushes got whacked back and fertilized, and a few things were rearranged. The coop got a paint job (and I've been hemming and hawing about whether or not to bite the bullet again....). There are a few other lil jobs I want to finish (more mulch, mason jar lanterns, wheelbarrow drink container, and creating a half wall with cinder blocks to block the dogs), plus I've been collecting pallets for Tall D eventually to help me build some pallet chairs!

---still teaching online.....and there was a good bye work shindig for my gal R who is moving to a full-time faculty position in Eugene. Gonna miss that lady!

---and I've been eating more meat......but I swear my body is just craving protein and fruits/vegs these days. Still lower carbs and I'm back off the yogurt but keeping with kombucha on a weekly basis.

Anyway, how are all of you?! :)