Thursday, June 26, 2014

Brain Dump of Recent Events

Life has been a whirlwind. I love how whenever I expect things to slow down, then things totally get packed in :)

--One thing I didn't mention in my last update post is that on the run date, we actually crossed paths with an old acquaintance of mine from my hometown. I got in touch with the guy via FB to find out if it was really him, which led to happy hour, which led to dinner & drinks during the next week with our one of our many mutual friends and his wife (who happens to be a former boyfriend and then we were best friends for years after the fact). So literally in the span of three days, I saw the two guys from my hometown who I hadn't really seen in 6-10 years, finally got the opportunity to meet the one guy's wife (who I loved...they are so wonderful together!), plus hosted my old undergrad friend and her husband who I had only seen once in the last ten years also (and they might be moving up here!!). Lots of reconnecting with some amazing people. Tonight I'm meeting up with the old acquaintance and another gal from our hometown in order to run Mt Tabor.

--I spent a morning Upicking cherries and then drove to my sister's for a fun morning/early afternoon of making strawberry freezer jam. And then on Saturday, I accomplished my simple goal of getting up with the sun on the solstice and embracing the whole day :)

--The second new housemate arrived and so far she's been great. She's only here for two months and based on how the summer is already going, I have a feeling those two months are going to fly by! Compromising some as with all living situations, but it's wonderful to feel like the house might be settled for a bit (fingers crossed....).

--I don't want to post too much about all my adventures and interactions lately BUT I had an amazing Sunday of making pies from scratch with left over strawberries from the jam making and rhubarb that was picked from the garden....followed up with riding on the back of a motorcycle through the backroads of my local area. It was SO.MUCH.FUN and I had a smile plastered to my face the whole time. It'd been forever since I'd been on a bike and it was incredible to see the country fields and farms from a different perspective with the breeze whipping us and the sun shining down. All of the mountains were visible in the distance, big American flags were flapping on farm lands, cows and alpacas were out in the fields, and it was fun leaning around all the curvy roads. The rest of that day was also pretty stellar with dinner thrown together and eaten on the patio with sparkly lights lit around and an easy walk with the dogs around the neighborhood. Things in life aren't always simple....but the moments that are easy and free seem to make life feel more spectacular.

--I celebrated the end of the massage term, so technically this week and next I'm "on vacation." Although my new work term started this week and I taught my first inperson course of summer term last night. My classmate and I are heading on our first backpacking trip Sunday-Tuesday and we're both pretty stoked. I just got a new backpacking book which has some great new trails to check out in it, and the old backpacking buddy (reg D) and I have been trying to figure out when we can get out on the trail together. He also came out with my massage classmates and I to help us celebrate the end of our term and so I could finally introduce old and new backpacking friends :) It'd be great if the three of us can manage a trip together. See again...this summer is going to be a blur! ;)

--We had our second book club meet up and I'm so happy to be back at it with these gals. Each one of them is so dear to me! We're reading: The Other Wes Moore this month, which is a book I've been wanting to read for a while, so I'm looking forward to it.

--Lil Jenny chicken passed on, so now the two mainstay ladies are full-time in the coop. They don't seem to be the brightest two of the bunch but they're still loads of entertainment at the moment! ;) In mid July I'll get two more chicks and raise them in the kennels until I can try to transition any survivors into the coop with the two that I have. Ideally I'd like to have at least 2-3 bigger laying hens for eggs and right now I just have one big bird and a small to mid sized bird.

--I've still been struggling with lower leg issues since trying to stage a comeback in the last few months. I'd finally paid to have one of my instructors work on my left ankle as it has been the thing causing me the most trouble. While it's definitely muscular, the bones in my foot and leg are pulling away from each other which isn't the most pleasant sensation and doesn't make running much fun. I've been wondering if different footwear might help, so I sucked it up this week and tried out new options at REI. While I'd been wanting to do minimalist shoes, none of them felt comfortable, so for now I'm trying out a pair of solid Brooks. Yesterday's run was less than pleasant also as my legs try to adjust to using my muscles a little differently. I've been hoping to run a half this summer, but at this point I know that I'd have to retrain back up to it and until I figure out the footwear issue....that plan might be on the back burner.

--The garden is seriously doing better than any other year that I've been in the house. Not only is my one raised bed going crazy, but the berries/grapes/kiwi are heavy with the start of fruit. I also was able to get the front planted like I'd hoped and it's fun seeing stuff trying to come up in a new spot. I have been lacking motivation for the last few days to work on yard stuff, but hopefully next week I'll get a few more projects done!

--Besides everything already mentioned there were a few other times of going out with friends or new people and hosting others at the house. Needless to say, as an introvert who sometimes passes as an extrovert, I've been spending this week in hibernation as much as possible so I can recharge. I've spent plenty of time just lounging on the patio or in the hammock doing nothing, working, thinking, or reading...relishing the simple pleasures and awesomeness of the backyard. As much as I absolutely love connecting with all the amazing people I have in life, I also tend to need some solo time for myself. It's been lovely to get a few days during the middle of this week to do just that....especially since tomorrow I'll see two separate friends coming from out of town, Saturday is schedule to be a hike/beach outing, and Sunday-Tuesday is backpacking time. For the fourth, I'm taking the dogs and Granny to the beach to save Roxi from the chaos of 4th of july fireworks in the neighborhood and then the following week is when I'll now have four different out of state friends all passing through in the same 4-5 days :) Ha! So excited to see everyone, but definitely glad for some time to recharge this week :) It seems like the theme of this summer is just taking things in stride. Accepting the chaos and seeking out the simple moments that exist too.

Hope you all have been doing wonderfully!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Annual Kings Mtn Summit Hike

Fourth year in a row that the dogs and I have made the 2.5 mile, 2500 ft incline trek to the top of Kings Mtn. This year was a gorgeous day with blue skies, wildflowers, & lots of sunshine. 
"Come on, E, get up here!" :)

Sometimes it's incredible how much a trail can teach you. The first year I hiked this sucker was when I realized I have a fear of heights. The ex patiently waited while I coaxed myself up the mountainside. The next year the dogs and I did the trek in record speed, not stopping once til we made the top, as I needed to prove to myself that I was tougher than I thought. Last year we let Tall D join us again and I smiled through the rain that fell on us. This year...well sunshine & wildflowers, again speedy, and with a trail jog back down. I'd randomly woken up at 5:30am that morning so we made the trailhead by 10 and were back off the mountain by noon, which meant limited people interactions on the trail. With summer approaching, Kings Mtn gets used quite a bit so going earlier in the day definitely lessened the number of people we came into contact with along the way. Beautiful day...and I can't help but wonder what year 5 will be like! :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lay Your Burdens Down

Some days when your soul gets overwhelmed with its past burdens, you take to the woods...where you process, work out excess emotions, accept hard truths....
...enjoy beautiful water sources...

...relish happy dog faces...

...appreciate wildflowers holding tight in unlikely places..

...soak up needed shady patches...

....relish the multiple wildflowers along the trail...

...finally at a past view point, you might choose to talk to God...

....and read a final chapter in your book while lunching back along the river...

....and then finally, finally...choose to lay your burdens truly hand them over to a source more powerful than yourself...and to trust that you are not a product of only what was and that life will present you with what you need.

What overcomes you is relief, lightness, happiness, and stability.

What a great place and time to finally lay old burdens down.

Scappoose Bay Kayaking

Cunningham Slough trip:

Daddy osprey bringing home the feed, while mama circled around us

Saturday Evening Outing:
Bald eagle nest w /baby in nest

Gorgeous views

Heading toward sunset thru the channels
Heading toward the wetlands 

Wetlands Tour:
Beaver house

Lots of geese by the docks

These tours were full of great views & wildlife. I was so impressed with the amount of bald eagles and great blue herons that we saw each time on these tours, and there is something so incredibly peaceful about spending time just paddling out on the water. The trips weren't always 100% smoothly completed (ie there were too many people on one trip, a trainee who fell in, issues with going against current to get out of the wetlands, & a late return on one trip), but the general location, friendly staff, and quality of rentals are great. There is much to explore in Scappoose Bay and I enjoyed renting through Scappoose Bay Kayaking. I love the friendly staff at Portland Kayak Co also, but the boat traffic around Ross Island can be pretty intense, so I'll probably be doing most of my rentals from SBK these days. Regardless, kayaking is...amazing! And I can't wait to eventually be able to attempt a kayak camping trip :)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Times Flies....It's June, Baby!

Woo....hooo! A few days of freedom...sort of :) I finished grading and uploading final scores for spring term yesterday. Technically I have two finals this coming week for the massage program and my summer term in person course to prep, but I'm not too worried about any of them. So yesterday afternoon turned into my favorite end-of-term time: the time when I weed out, recycle, & organize all sorts of stuff I've been putting off doing. I still have more little projects to do but at least I made a sizeable dent in some of the stuff that I've been so behind on taking care of. This has been the term of treading water, as I never truly have felt "on top of" anything organizationally. I'm not sure if this term will be much better but only time will tell. :)

So a few pretty decent changes since the last update:

---I had a week or two to myself in the house (amazing!) after M moved out (which ended pretty poorly on his final day unfortunately). On Memorial Day, I helped my current housemate unload her storage shed components into the garage and then over the course of that final week in May she transitioned the rest of her stuff into her room. Granted the first few months are usually pretty good when sharing housing with someone new, but seriously...she's quiet, she's health conscience, she's focused, she enjoys the animals, we have similar interests/values but also lots of differences, and she helps take out the trash/unload the dishwasher/keeps the bathroom clean. (She also shares here Vitamix.....which is AmaZING!) In comparison to the last six months with M, my stress is so greatly reduced and I'm loving it. We'll be joined by the AirBnB gal in a week and she'll be here for two months. I'm hopeful the three of us will do well together.

---My brother came up again last weekend and helped finalize the coop and arbor. I painted the remaining boards on the arbor, hung my lanterns, and set up the new hammock yesterday. The kiwi is out of control per usual so I might trim it this week sometime. I finished the coop on Monday, returned the roosters (miss my sweet lil guy!), and found two new little hens to complete the flock. The hens are smaller due to breed so I might get one other larger lady also. They spent one night in the new coop so far but we dropped temps again so I put them back in the garage coop until wee one gets all her feathers in..or it heats up :)

---The kitchen sink backed up again. The landlords had me call a plumber. In clearing the kitchen line, the main line clogged so then he had to clear the main line. All in all, I learned a lot about the pipes in the house (which are incredibly old and small). We'll also be switching back to composting rather than using the disposal, which means that I need to finalize my compost project ASAP. :) In other related learning news, I was motivated last week by an external source, and I finally retaught myself how to use a drill and the brother was very happy to have me help even more and now I can do many more projects solo.

---Technically I don't know if I can call it truly dating but at the very least I'm getting back out there with getting to know new options for potential partners. It's been interesting this time around, as I'm so settled in myself now that I really don't care either way if I meet someone or invest much time in the process at this point in my life. After everything the last few years have brought, I am much stronger in who I am and I'm not willing to lose that to anyone else again. I'm also okay with the notion of just being solo for a long while if it means being happy with myself. I have so much already in this life and while I like the notion of having someone to share that with long term, I don't know if all of us are cut out for long partnerships :) Regardless....I had a really awesome "date" this last week. We met at the Waterfront in the evening for a jog, originally planning on only 3-5 miles but we ended up doing 8, although there was some walking in there too. The views along the waterfront were incredible and I saw so many new areas that I've never explored before (wish I could have snapped pictures!). We were able to chat along the way, but really it was just fun to be out doing something we both enjoy. I don't really know that any of these outings will pan out into anything, but it's fun and low-key all the same.

---Lil' cousin got married...and it was such a gorgeous and really great wedding. Everything from her dress, to the center pieces, to the food, to the decor, to the speeches was spot on...and it was so wonderful to see her truly glowing, happy, confident, and totally in her element. So very happy for her!

---Three kayaking outings last term were incredible. I seriously loved the experience and eventually I definitely would love to purchase one. I had a paddleboarding outing last weekend that was wonderful also. This summer I only registered for the surfing weekend, but I am so stoked that my employment covers these opportunities. In other outdoor news, the dogs and I made our annual Kings Mtn summit. This summer I plan to thru hike all 22 miles of the Wilson River trail in one day and I have my first backpacking trip of the summer on the calendar.

---Tomorrow I'm hosting an old undergrad friend and her husband for dinner. They're visiting from Oakland (M and I saw them while in SF last spring break) and I'm so looking forward to catching up after all this time! In July my gal Christina and her boyfriend will be here from Atlanta, my buddy R who moved Texas will be in town for a couple days, and my old high school friend Matt and his fiance will be passing thru while visiting from Edmonton. In mid-August, my gal Caitlin will be here and we've scheduled a girls day with our gal Brook also. Then in early August, we'll also celebrate Granny's 103rd birthday and so family will be in town for the celebration. My cousin and her husband also get back at the end of this month from their six months of central America travels. :) So lots of great visits coming up this summer.

So ya....I'm sure there's more in there that I'm forgetting but those are the biggies. Really it's the little moments that seem to be the most awe-inspiring though: holding the chickens, Roxi's crazy expressions, delicious steak dinners & Argentine wine evenings, nailing out a fast run, structural work on my lower leg muscles, conversations with the housemate in the kitchen, flowers, wrangling strawberries, sunning on the patio, lawn mowing.

I'm making progress on my goals although slowly, but I'm not too worried about where I stand with goals as much these days. I know that I'm moving forward...and really I'm just happy with...well, being.

It's a pretty good place to be these days.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What a Great Day

Seriously, today was amazing. There was a whole lot of awesome. A whole lot of low key. A whole lot of lazy too. And a whole lot of moments when I just thought to myself "This is REAL life. This is MY life" and "I'm so in love with THIS life THIS moment." it's every day this is it, this is Pinterest worthy. :)

Things aren't perfect. But they never will be and I'm okay with that. But there are so many moments when I lay on my back patio and look around my yard, really see my amazing furry companions, appreciate the fluffy chickens sunning next to me or watch them peck around the yard, and take in the raised beds, the fruit trees, the coop coming together, all the simple, easy details of my existence....and I exhale and so deeply feel the fortune that I already have in this life. There is something about being just another element hanging out in my yard...that lets me feel the whole picture is already in completion.

Or maybe it was the moment this morning as I stood on my rental paddleboard and tooled around Ross Island, watching baby ducks & geese swim along their parents or wobble run along the shores, listening to the birds chattering excitedly among the trees, being happily greeted by all the fellow paddlers I crossed paths with, noticing the ebb & flow of conversation among the immigrant men fishing from the shore, the overcast morning being a perfect juxtaposition for the sunshine of the afternoon, and looking up to the hillsides surrounding that area of Portland just full of vibrant greens and SO.MUCH.LIFE.

Or maybe it was the time with family today via a Facetime conversation with my father & Granny this afternoon with Granny looking happy and chattering on about things on their end or the spontaneous dinner invite to my aunt's with my cousin after they came upon me during their evening walk while I was in the front yard weeding and pruning, and the great conversation that ensued with my aunt post dinner.

Or maybe it was the moments I allowed myself to indulge in just plain day dreaming about life, dreaming of what could be evolving, appreciating the awesomeness that already exists.

Regardless of the many other small things that also brightened, today felt like such an incredible day. The days aren't all sunshine & roses around here, but there are plenty of pretty amazing ones...and lots of reasons why they all have something to be grateful for.

Seriously, great day....

Garden Goods 2014

This last year I paid attention to what I used in terms of frozen and preserved produce. I'm hoping to can, jam, freeze, and dry my way through a LOT more goodies this year...preferrably from free sources if at all possible. Ie I'm trying to get the guts to hit up people in the neighborhood who let their apples & pears rot on the ground ;) I also will frequent the U-picks, my sister and I will be making strawberry jam together, and she's checking with her free blueberry source.

But with all the yard projects, I also changed one of the raised beds and I'm doing a much better job of using total raised bed space this year.  I'm also planning on harvesting and then re-seeding what I can also, ie radishes, carrots, etc.

Garden Box 1:

L-R: Leeks, spinach, carrots, radishes, lettuce, kale, beets, chives, strawberries. In background are the berries and grapes hanging over the fence.

Newly created & relocated cinder block bed: 
A raised bed just for the zucchini to take it over! :)
Background is mint under the berries and garlic.

Garden Box 2: 
L-R: cucumber, onions, bush beans, tomatoes w peas, kale, lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts.

Not pictured: more lettuce and an acorn squash in containers out front, two new artichoke plants, the Asian pear got moved this year, strawberries & blueberries in the front, the kiwi is covered in blossoms on the new arbor, and a cherry tomato is out front again. In the coming week I also hope to weed one more area of the front yard and see if I can use that space as another garden space for corn, onions, and a few other things.

It was a major battle with the slugs this year, so  I hate to say it but I caved and sprinkled slug killer all along the sides of the raised beds and below. I had tried picking the slugs off, epsom salt sprinkling, containers of cheap beer, & copper tape....none worked. The hazardous stuff seems to be doing the job.

We'll see what all comes to fruition but it's nice to see stuff finally growing!