Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lincoln City, Oregon

Mike and I were busy little bees on Friday and and doc appointments, taking care of errands, shopping…and this morning we got up early and drove out to the coast to walk on the beach.

It’s about an hour drive from Salem to Lincoln City and we were there in no time. We stopped for breakfast and then we went to Roads End State Recreation Site. We held hands and walked along the water. The waves were breaking hard while the sun was trying to peek through the clouds. There were few people on the beach and it felt very peaceful.

It was a lovely way to wind down our weekend.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Furlough Friday

I don’t think I really understood the meaning of “furlough” until I moved to Salem, Oregon. We arrived here in late January and I remember one of the first newspaper articles I read was about a business that required all of its employees to take off a week of work while the business shut down for the week. The part that shocked me was that the employees would not be paid for that week. That was when I realized that furlough means unpaid leave. Gulp.

Who wants to take a week of work off without pay??? And why? Well, the more I heard the word the more I came to understand that a furlough is not necessarily a bad thing. The employees get to keep their jobs and benefits in exchange for what amounts to as a pay cut. Having been laid off TWICE myself, a furlough didn’t seem so bad…

So as I began my job search in Salem I was very aware of the possibility of accepting a job that may include a furlough. I had 6 interviews. Two were with law firms (ugh) and 4 were with the State of Oregon. And there was already talk that working for the state would include furlough days. I accepted a job with the state and I am very happy with it! But with my happiness comes furlough days. In the next two years all state employees will take 10-14 furlough days as a strategy to stretch the state budget. In fact, the state has actually designated 10 specific days as state-wide furlough days in which almost all state agencies will be closed.

Today is the first official Furlough Friday. I won’t get paid, but our health insurance remains intact and my benefits continue to accrue as if I was working today. I can live with that!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Betty's Birthday

If you’ve been reading this blog in 2009 you know a bit about Betty (and Ron), our landlords and new(er) friends. In fact, you may recall that Betty’s Craigslist ad for the apartment they created in the basement of their house said, “cat maybe, no dogs.” HA! I wrote to Betty as soon as her ad posted and a few emails later Betty was approving Mike and me as their new tenants – along with our German shepherd, Sitka. And we were still in Guaymas!

What began as a business relationship has gently evolved into a true friendship. Betty is always there for us – especially Mike – driving him to one appointment after another. Plus, Betty makes special treats for us and shares her fruits and vegetables. Additionally, Betty gave me a part of her cactus – it has grown like crazy and goes by the name of Betty, Jr. Also, Betty loves Sitka. And she has taken care of her more than one time when Mike and I went out of town over the weekend. Betty makes us feel like we are part of her family and we like that. A lot.

Betty had her 68th birthday this week and we were invited to celebrate with her family last Sunday at Annette’s Restaurant in West Salem. We all met at 9am and had a wonderful breakfast birthday party with Betty.

We hope you had a grand day, Betty! And we look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Other Family

Susan’s last name began with “I” and my last name began with “J” (and still does...) I met Susan when I started the 7th grade at Alderwood Junior High…in 1967 (I think.) Lockers were assigned alphabetically and due to our last names we found ourselves “next door neighbors.”

As a coincidence, we had all of our classes together, except study hall and for that we had different assignments. Back then teachers made students sit alphabetically and…you guessed it, Susan sat directly in front of me in all of our classes. Before we knew it, we were fast friends. Plus, Susan was pretty smart so it was good for me to hang out with her!

Fast forward to high school and in my sophomore year my mom moved to Ketchikan, Alaska to fish for salmon with my step-dad. I refused to move and moved in with my dad. The following year my dad and step-mom moved to Minnesota. I again refused to move – I was so set in school, I loved it, I got good grades, I played sports, I was in different clubs and I didn’t want to move!

So guess who came to my rescue? Susan. And her dad, whom we affectionately call Albie (short for Al), allowed me to move into their house and finish high school while living with them.

Upon graduation Susan and I both attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington and we later lived one year on the beach in Florida. And that’s another story with Susan’s mom and step-dad, Maryjane and Andy, who were already on the beach in Florida...

Anyway, yesterday Mike and I were invited to a family reunion in Clackamas, Oregon. Not really my family, but Susan’s family that I had grown up with and spent time with over the years.

There was Susan, Albie, Maryjane, Andy, brothers, a sister-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins…the whole gang! We yakked and yakked and ate and drank and watched the University of Washington Huskies lose an overtime game against Notre Dame.

It was one of the most enjoyable Saturdays we’ve had in a long time. It brought back lots of memories and I was truly happy to see and hug everyone that was there yesterday. THANK YOU SUSAN FOR INVITING US!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bicycle Helmets

Well, this is a post I never thought I’d write…

I have ridden bicycles on and off throughout my adult life. Years ago when I was going to Seattle Central Community College I rode my bike to and from my apartment on Capitol Hill. It was a short ride, but one day I hit a pothole, knocked myself out, wrecked my bike, and ended up in the Emergency Room at Harborview Hospital (a pretty scary place in itself!)

A few years later I rode my bike to and from the University of Washington. Yes, I rode it downhill and walked it uphill. But it got me there and back! And no accidents that I can recall.

So when I decided to get a bike in Salem to ride to work I thought no problema…within the first couple of days I brought it into the office one of my co-workers insisted that I needed to wear a helmet. So she brought one of hers in for me and I have worn it everyday since.

Today I was very glad I wore the helmet. You see, our apartment is on the backside of Betty and Ron’s house and we have a bark-laden trail that leads to our gate into our yard. And my thrill everyday is to RACE down the trail to the gate – on my bike. Every time I wonder what it would be like to crash. Well, today I found out.

I somehow managed to swerve to the right and hit a giant tree head-on. I was thrown to the ground and my bike looked mangled. A closer inspection found the front tire turned 180 degrees and a small dent in my bicycle basket (and the fake flowers survived just fine, Linda Lou.) I managed to jump back on and finish the ride to the gate, but it hurt.

And when I told Mike what happened we looked at my helmet. We noticed that a big piece of the styrofoam lining/padding broke off and the helmet definitely needs to be replaced. The bike’s front brake pads got messed up, but Mike did a quick fix that will work until I can take it into a bike repair shop.

The morale of my story is WEAR A HELMET! It saved me from a head injury today and for that I am thankful.