Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's Snowing!

We woke up to snow this morning! And it was still coming down. So we bundled up (luckily we kept our Harley boots when we moved to Mexico) in the warmest clothes we have and we took Sitka out for a walk down to the Marine Park. It was just beautiful…and by the time we were ready to head up the hill home it was really snowing HARD! Let’s see what do I like better – snow or heat and humidity?? Take a guess…

Here’s our house – well, it’s Betty and Ron’s house and our apt is in the daylight basement.

My girl…

And the 2 of us!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Updates on Mike

Mike finally had an appointment with the Social Security office here in Salem on Monday. There have been no updates regarding his application for disability, however, we were able to meet with an actual human being and get Mike’s file transferred from the International Division of Social Security to the Salem office. Hopefully, this will speed up the process. (Cross your fingers!)

Secondly, Mike had an appointment with a doctor yesterday. I’m happy to say that his basic health is good. The doctor will provide a referral for a neurologist who will determine if Mike’s anti-seizure medications need to be adjusted or not. They are pretty strong so if they could be less powerful he’d have a chance at a better quality of life. Plus, last March he had a pump implanted in his brain to automatically drain the cyst fluid and there are some questions as to whether the pump has shifted. (His Mexico City doctor had advised a third surgery, but that’s when we got a little leery of her advi$e…)

Lastly, he’s thinking about blogging again! Since the brain surgeries his vision has diminished so severely that he has a very difficult time using his laptop (even though I increased the DPI to the max of 200%). So maybe he can create a new blog, dictate his thoughts to me and I can do the typing. Send us some comments and encourage him along!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mike's Blog

Mike had second thoughts and has deleted his blog.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Silver Falls State Park and Silverton Reservoir Marine Park

We went on a road trip today. Not too far from Salem, just a loop out to Silver Falls State Park, on to Silverton Reservoir Marine Park, through Silverton and back to Salem.

My friend, Kevin, had recommended the State Park to us - thank you for the great idea, Kevin! We left about 9:30 this morning and traffic was very light so I never even went the speed limit…we just moseyed along. The park is about 25 miles east of Salem through rolling hills of Christmas tree farms. I had never seen so many tree farms! Some of the farm homes were new and very large while others were older and modest.

The park was virtually empty. There is a lodge there, but it was closed because the furnace was being repaired. We saw just a couple of other cars and only 3 other people. I kept Sitka leashed and we wandered around. The grounds are clean and well landscaped and there are many BBQ grills, picnic tables and shelters. There are walking and biking trails and wooden bridges crossing the river. We saw a place to swim in the river and I can imagine that the place is packed all summer.

We weren’t up for a hike down to the falls, but we pulled over at a viewpoint and got a few pictures. Unfortunately, the pictures do not capture the immensity of the falls.

We went on through the park and found ourselves at the Silverton Reservoir Marine Park. It’s a small park with a boat ramp for paddle boats or electric powered boats only. It also has 2 fishing docks and a wheelchair accessible fishing pier (2 disabled parking spots were built right next to the pier – really cool!)

Mike walked Sitka on the floating docs and she was excited by the water slapping up on the docks. She lapped at the water which initially scared me (you don’t want your dog lapping water in Guaymas,) but then I saw how clear it was and since it is a reservoir I wasn’t too worried. I reached down to get my hand wet and it was COLD!
We also noticed a rope swing high in a tree. I can just imagine all the kids clamoring over the swing in the middle of the summer. Maybe we’ll come back when it’s warm and I’ll try it!

We continued on the road through the small town of Silverton and soon enough found our way back to Salem. We stopped downtown at The Brick for a late lunch before heading home.

It was good to get out today. And Mike has been inspired to maybe start his own blog with lots of pictures. I’ll let you know when he’s up and going…

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Black Pug Lost in West Salem

I met a man in the Marine Park who was searching for his dog. On Feb 7th at about 8pm his 1 year old, black, female Pug (Molly) got out of his yard in West Salem and she hasn’t been seen since. He is offering a reward. Please call 503.990.8281 if you have any information. Thanks.

Conspicuous Consumption

In Mexico I was so very frustrated with not being able to buy stuff. Simple stuff. Stuff like 3-way light bulbs, Sitka’s old dog food, printer cartridges (or refilling the cartridges,) weather stripping, Grape Nuts cereal, Swiss cheese, canned chili, decent Brussels sprouts – well, maybe these things were available somewhere in Guaymas, but I couldn’t find them.

So imagine my delight in now living in a city with Home Depot (2), Safeway (at least 2), Fred Meyer, Costco, Office Depot (2), Macy’s and more!

Now I am not a big clothes or shoes shopper. In fact, I only go shopping for those things when I need them. And I have made a few purchases in Salem for business clothes – I sold/gave away all my suits, jackets and skirts when we moved to Mexico. (And I do need a job to wear my new clothes if anyone has any leads for paralegal or compliance specialist positions…)

But I think I have lost all control at grocery stores. I am almost obsessed with buying food. Our landlords, Betty and Ron, took us to Costco on Friday and I went into culture shock. To see all the rows and stacks of stuff was overwhelming, especially when I think back about Guaymas stores with empty spaces on shelves or maybe just 1 jar of peanut butter instead of row after row.

Luckily our freezer is now almost packed (oh yeah, I missed quality ice cream in Guaymas.) And while our kitchen cupboard space is perfect for the 2 of us I have now just about maxed it out with dry goods. The fridge still has some space, but the variety and quality of the food is wonderful.

I had to laugh when I read Steve Cotton’s post earlier this month about people shopping in Salem. I don’t have a job (yet,) Mike’s got medical issues, our 401(k)s are shrinking, but I need one more can of chili to feel good…please indulge me for just a little while longer…

Monday, February 16, 2009

Guaymas v. Salem

I’ve had some questions about what we’re doing now that we’re in Salem so here goes…

First off, we are looking around and noticing all the differences between Salem and Guaymas. Like the mountains (snow capped) v. the cactus or the raindrops v. the sun or the coffee drive-thrus v. the taco stands. Talking, listening and reading in English and not Spanish – although there is a lot of Spanish on signs/notices that I don’t think we had in Seattle.

Secondly, we are looking back and wondering if we did the right thing by selling our house (YES!), our furniture, car, Harley and all the other things and we just now looked at each other and said, “Hell yes!” We had the dream to teach English, to live in another culture, to LIVE life and we did it. Did it work out? No, not really. But we still like to reflect back on the last year. Geez, we wouldn’t have met Mama Lolita’s entire family, Brenda and Roy, Bliss and The Capt, Ritchie from Scotland or all those little Mexican rascals that I taught if we hadn’t lived in Guaymas!

But back to the present…we are exploring our neighborhood. Sitka and I have been up and down one street after another. There is a marine park about 5 blocks away and it runs right along the Willamette River. We were there again this morning and Sitka walked in the water – BRRRRR! She’s not a Mexican dog anymore.

We’re doing boring stuff like updating our address (again) with all of the different businesses we deal with and now we’re shopping for a better deal on auto insurance, plus, I need to get started on filing our taxes for 2008...that should be interesting.

We’re writing letters to family and friends that don’t have email. We’re spending time with Betty and Ron and getting to know them. We’re gathering our documents for Mike’s appointments with Social Security and his new doctor.

We’re talking to friends and relatives back in the Seattle area, but don’t have plans to visit anytime soon. But we are expecting our friend, Teresa, from Lake Stevens to visit next month and we will all get together with Steve Cotton.

And, of course, I am job hunting online. I have submitted multiple applications…mostly for governmental jobs which seem to be in abundance.

I’m cooking a lot and Mike is finally eating more. In fact, I’ll probably write another post about food. I’ve gone a little crazy!

We’re arguing a little…we always do. But we’re good about kissing and making up. We’ve had quite a year – it’s been 11 months since Mike’s seizures and brain surgeries in Mexico City. Where does the time go?!

So there you have it. Mike, Cynthia and Sitka in Salem.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday in Salem

Our landlord Ron brought down a bag of steak bones for Sitka today. What a lucky girl! She sat in the sun and gnawed away... And as a side note, in yesterday’s mail we received Sitka’s new dog tag with our Salem contact info. Hopefully, she won’t wander away like she did in Mexico!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pearl Jam

I was so disappointed when we unloaded our trailer in Mexico City last May. I found that of all my CDs, one had fallen out of my box of CDs, the case was cracked and the CD was ruined. And it was my absolute favorite, Pearl Jam’s debut album from 1991, entitled Ten. I was so sad.

I didn’t replace it in Mexico and it was on my list to get here in Salem. HOWEVER, today I found that a Ten re-issue, with remixed tracks, will be released next month! Yippee. Eddie Vedder, you are so very cool…

Saturday, February 7, 2009

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

My brother is 55 and he has mental illness, specifically schizoaffective disorder. And our family history indicates that other family members also had mental illness. It’s really nothing to be embarrassed about, but it’s not something I generally discuss. All that said, my interest has always been piqued when hearing about Frances Farmer, Sylvia Plath or even the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

So imagine my surprise when our landlords, Betty and Ron, along with Mike and me, were headed out to dinner last night and when we passed the Oregon State Hospital Betty mentioned that was where One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed. I was so surprised. Betty explained that while much of the original structure remains and is in use, some parts of the building are now off limits due to structural decay and deterioration.I went back to the hospital this morning to take some pictures. And I found it interesting to note the street names on the driveway intersection, Bluejay and Bluebird. I wonder if that was supposed to sooth the patients?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Worn Out

That dog park event took a lot out of both of my they are last night snoozing away...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Minto-Brown Dog Park

Minto-Brown Dog Park has a large off-leash area where dogs can run free. On the recommendation from a couple of people in Salem, today Mike, Sitka and I made our first visit to the park and it turned out to be a doozy!

As soon as we got out of the truck Sitka started barking at a dog that was twice her size. I got her leash on her collar and took off, leaving Mike behind to talk to the woman that had the other dog. Soon enough I was at the off-leash area and I could see dogs and dogs and more dogs.

I had brought Sitka’s giant, red Kong (weird shaped toy that she loves) to entice her to stay close by. But guess what. Her beloved Kong meant nothing to her. She was off and running and there wasn’t a chance that she was going to respond to me calling her. So I took off running until I finally caught up with her. I leashed her again and decided that was safer than losing her.

There were several dogs and owners milling around in one area so we wondered over there to check them out. Sitka sniffed and sniffed and sniffed some more. There were big dogs, small dogs, purebred dogs and Heinz 57 dogs…and they all seemed to be getting along.

Finally I saw Mike and we went to greet him. Mike disagreed with me about leaving Sitka leashed so I unleashed her and watched as she began to play with 2 blue healers. It seemed like as long as she had playmates she would stay close to us. We chatted with the healers’ owner, Amanda, and the dogs chased balls and the Kong.All was going well until the pit bull came over. While he was pretty friendly, he went after the healers’ ball and a fight ensued with the pit bull and the healers. I quickly grabbed Sitka’s collar, leashed her and moved back. There was biting, blood, the whole works. And poor, pregnant Amanda was having trouble separating them. I wish I’d had my camera ready because I can’t believe what I saw next. Mike did a horizontal flop into the middle of all 3 dogs! He slugged the pit bull in the mouth and he ran off, but by now the healers were attacking EACH OTHER!!! Everyone was watching. Somehow Mike separated them and they began to calm down. I looked at Mike and wondered how in the world he had the strength (or huevos) to jump into that mess. He said it was instinct from his high school days as a wrestler…hahaha…

He had blood on his jacket and shirt. But his skin wasn’t punctured…it was a miracle that he had leather gloves on. I wiped the blood off his face and knew that he was okay. Amanda profusely thanked him for his help and he said no problem.

It’s only been a few hours, but the Old Mike is back. Having brain surgeries and taking very strong meds has taken it’s toll on my baby…but today I saw the Mike I fell in love with. Let’s just hope our next visit to the park has less drama!