Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kenmore, Washington

I’ve always thought of Kenmore as a neighborhood in Seattle, but guess what? It’s a city in its own right with its own zip code, 98028.

The other thing about Kenmore is Kenmore Air – a local company of seaplanes that fly into downtown Seattle via Lake Union, or Seattle's Boeing Field, or further onto the beautiful San Juan Islands, and way north to our Canadian neighbors in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The first time I ever flew in an airplane was from Seattle to Ketchikan, Alaska in the early 1970s and I was just a 16-year old adventurer. I remember the “big plane” landed on an Alaskan island and then we had to board smaller seaplanes that landed at the Ketchikan seaport. I had my cat with me in a travel “cat carrier” and I was SCARED! Therein was born my fascination with seaplanes.

So here we are. Just minutes from Kenmore Air in downtown Kenmore, Washington. How is it that my life is so cool?

Isn't she a beauty??

A local entertainment TV show's personal seaplane...Evening Magagine's Maggie II. Sometimes the show has contests for rides in Maggie II - wish for us to win!

A private seaplane at the seaport.

Mike and his java...heck we're back in Seattle, where else can he drink copious amounts of liquid caffeine?

Friday, May 21, 2010

What a Week!

Mike and I spent the week answering Craigslist ads, shopping consignment/thrift stores (as well as a regular furniture store), perusing garage sales, and $pending dough.

Because we sold all of our furniture 2 years ago when we moved to Mexico, we had a lot to replace. My best friend, Cheryl, came through with 2 end tables, a Weber grill, a glider (outdoor chair for 2), and matching table. THANK YOU CHERYL! Plus, today we scored a lawnmower and desk chair for FREE from 2 different garage sales. It has been challenging and rewarding all at the same time.

Also today our landlords finished the kitchen revamp and we now have a stove and oven that we can use! We purchased a microwave this week and between microwaved food and eating out, it was getting old. I can’t wait to cook a full meal this weekend.

On another front, Sitka is experiencing a high level of anxiety. She is not yet comfortable inside the apartment and she follows us around from room to room which is somewhat annoying because she is so BIG. She does better outside where we have made a bed for her on the patio. She likes eating the grass and has “talked” to a few different neighbor doggies when their owners walk them on the other side of our fence. As with most German shepherds, her hips are failing and she trips and slips a lot. It breaks my heart. I remember when she was younger/stronger and she ran and ran and ran…those days are behind her.

This weekend we hope to catch up with family and friends. And get an oil change for the truck. She’s been strong and dependable and she deserves some fresh “blood.”

Dat’s it. For now anyway.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


We woke up this morning on Day 4 in Seattle with a little drizzle. It’s good for the yard. Yeah, that’s right, it’s good for the yard! HA

Our third and final drive from Salem to Seattle began early (I think we left at 5am) on Sat morning and we got here around 10:30. We stopped several times to stretch and to let Sitka out at the rest stops. She did really well. And so did I – hauling that trailer one more time. From Seattle, to Mexico City, to Guaymas, to Salem and back to Seattle. It's been over 10,000 miles and the trailer has become one of the best investments we’ve ever made. We’ll keep it in one of our parking spaces and use it as “storage” for stuff we don’t use all the time.

Our landlords were just finishing up with vacuuming the apt and before long we were schlepping our belongings from the trailer and truck into the apt. And then I took a gander at the organized unorganization. Ugh. I like things neat and tidy. But it’s a good unorganization, a fresh start, a new beginning. And Sitka is very happy on her patio in the fenced backyard. But the grass is long and the weeds are plentiful. Mike has his work cut out for him.

We’ve managed to buy a bed and dining room table with chairs and we’re on a mission for dressers, a hide-a-bed, a desk, a push-mower and gardening tools. All in good time…

But now, back to unpacking.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Trip #3 Home to Seattle

We’re up early and rarin’ to go! Mike cleaned and cleaned this apartment and it is sparkling. I said my good-byes to my friends at work. We packed the final load of the truck/canopy and trailer yesterday afternoon. Ron and Betty did a final walk-through inspection of the apartment last night. We walked down to Burger King and got some chow. We watched a little TV and then we crashed.

Now we’re gathering our stuff and putting a fresh bandana on Sitka – she must look her best for our arrival in Seattle! Our internet is scheduled to be hooked up on Monday so we may be incognito for a few days.

Salem has been good. Thank you to all the cool Oregonians we met and hung out with while we were here. And now…on to new adventures…

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Farewell Party

Last night one of the attorneys I work with hosted a farewell party for Mike and me at her home. It was a mix of judges, attorneys, secretaries, landlords and family members. The Italian feast was spectacular, the adult beverages were flowing, the company was wonderful…and the tattoos were sticking!

Just for fun I brought some packs of temporary tattoos and I tattooed as many people as I could. The kids, Miju and Devin, had to have matching peace signs…aren’t they cute?

There were appetizers including a brie, fig and almond topped cracker, chicken lasagna, seafood stuffed shells, salads and a focaccia-style bread.

And not to be forgotten were the cookies and tiramisu for dessert!

I opened some gifts and cards and got to pose for the camera.

Betty and Ron joined in the festivities and we got to spend a final night with our landlords who are also our friends.

I goofed around with Princess even when we were trying to get a serious picture together.

And the best part was the warm and fuzzy feeling I got from having all of the important people that have been a part of my Salem life in one house at the same time. We stepped outside to take a group shot and it’s a picture that will remind me of what we will miss.

THANK YOU to everyone! I had a blast. And my smiley-face tattoo that I put on my throat is still there today...I tried washing it off, but it didn’t work. I got some funny faces while I was walking around the Capitol Mall today and all I could do was laugh...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pearl Jam on Salem Radio

Sunday afternoon. 1:39pm. Mike making potato salad to go with Frank’s Hot Sauced chicken drumsticks.. Cynthia checking email.

Barely listening and then barely writing…Eddie Vedder’s voice singing Better Man.

I have to say I cannot remember one time in the last 16 months that I heard Pearl Jam on the radio here.

106.30 fm – thank you! (See ya in Seattle next week, Eddie!)

Trip #2 Home to Seattle

Man, I like to drive fast! I honed that skill while driving through Mexico and back – where “offensive driving” was a matter of survival.

Saturday morning we left Salem around 7am, signed the apartment lease at noon, unloaded our truck, stopped for a snack and were back in Salem by 6pm. A mere 518 miles logged yesterday. And done at a rapid clip, 75-80 mph most of the way. Our truck rocks!

The apartment is coming along, and should be ready for us next Saturday. We took a good look at the backyard and see a lot of potential. Farmer Mike might be spending his summer grooming the yard and putting in a veggie garden. We brought 2 tomato plants and our baby avocado tree from Salem – that is just the beginning!

Mike took some more pics along the way.

This is the ole Tacoma dome, built in 1983, just south of Seattle.

Here’s that skyline I love. It looks much more inviting with blue (vs. grey) sky, no?

The Olympic Mountains (to the west of Seattle) are covered in snow. I forgot how close to the city they really are.

Heading south to Salem we pass over the Columbia River from Vancouver, Washington into Portland, Oregon onto a maze of bridge spans. I tend to get a little queasy looking over at the river.

And here’s Mike, the trick photographer, taking a picture of himself taking a picture.

It was a good day. And next Saturday will be Trip #3, the final leg home.

Friday, May 7, 2010


It’s always hard when you start a new job.

Last year at this time I began my job as a Legal Secretary for the Oregon Employment Department. Never having been a state worker, or knowing much about employment law, I had a lot to learn.

Luckily, the other Legal Secretary in our office has a lot of patience. She spent many hours bringing me up to speed. And she would challenge me. When I just wanted to know “the answer” she would make me figure it out. Hmpff!

But now I realize how valuable that was. And I appreciate her method - although it was somewhat painful at the time! We work so well together now.

Yesterday was our last day of working together because I’m off through next Tuesday and then she is off beginning next Wednesday. We had a very busy day, but we got through it all. At 4:45 I found a live version of “She’s a Brick House,” I cranked it up and we boogied the last few minutes of the day away.

Princess, I’m going to miss you! Shake it down, shake it down now...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Justice Prevails!

(That’s Mike’s subject line...hehe) We did it – we got the apartment in Kenmore! The landlord called yesterday, we worked out the details, and we will move in on May 15. We told Sitka and she is very happy too.

Now bear in mind that I still have to resolve the issue of the negative hit on my credit, but we have a lot more information since I wrote the last post. It’ll take some letter writing and complaining, but I’m pretty good at letter writing and complaining.

What’s left? Well, I work today and then I’m off until next Wednesday. During these next few days we’ll make another trip to Seattle with our 2nd truckload of belongings. We’ll sign our lease and leave our stuff in the apartment while the landlords complete the kitchen revamp. We’ll strategize the packing of our trailer and live out of suitcases for a week.

Oh, but I can’t forget that a coworker is hosting a farewell party for Mike and me Tuesday night at her house. And our current landlords, Betty and Ron, are coming too. Plus, of course, I have a little surprise up my sleeve for that event…

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


We had some unsettling news today.

I spoke with our potential new landlord in Kenmore, WA. I was concerned that we hadn’t heard back regarding our application for the PERFECT apartment so I called her from work this afternoon and she returned my call when I got home.

Apparently there is some misinformation being reported on me by the service that provides credit check info.

There is another Cynthia Johnson that is involved with a lawsuit or 2 in the state of Oregon. But it’s not me!!! I promise it’s not! But I’m not toooo concerned.

Before Mike and I could get our retiree visas and move to Mexico we had to go to Olympia, get fingerprinted and pass a criminal background check. The first report came back with a Cynthia Johnson in Washington who had been arrested for prostitution and drug sales. Again, it was not me! We were able to resolve that and the visas were issued by the Mexican Consulate in Seattle.

Hopefully, my name on the new report can be quickly cleared and the apartment will be ours. Cross your fingers for us. We move outta Salem on May 15th and as of right now we have no where to go.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Our Trip #1 to Seattle had a slow start yesterday morning. (And for those many new readers that are old friends of Mike’s from Phoenix and Bothell, you can jump to the final paragraph if you are interested in knowing what kind of man Mike is...)

Although we were up and in the truck by 6:10am, we had to return to the house TWICE to retrieve keys – a key for the hitch mount bike rack and then a key for the bike lock. HAHAHA! But eventually (around 7:30am) we were headed north on I-5.

Of course, I had the music cranked and I was singing LOUD! The traffic was light and the weather was good. I had never driven with the bikes on the rack and it was a little scary seeing them bob up and down in my rear view mirror, but Mike had them secured so well that I had nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, I did worry just a bit.

By the time we were just south of Seattle the traffic volume increased significantly and I had to slow down. It was so cool to see the Seattle skyline as we wound through the city. I never get tired of that view.

And here we have Safeco Field and Quest Field. Go Mariners!

We went directly to Ballard where we had rented a basement apartment – sight unseen. Located close to my good friend, Jackie, and it had a fenced yard with grass for Sitka. While the location was good, the apartment was not what we were expecting and we were hesitant to unload the truck packed with our first load of belongings.

So what to do? Well, I didn't bring my laptop so we went to Safeway and got a Sunday paper to scour the ads for rentals. HA! Have you looked in the rental ads section lately? Don’t bother. No one uses newspaper ads anymore. So now what? We decided to drive around Ballard and look for “For Rent” signs and start making calls. Almost every call resulted in leaving a voicemail message. ARGHH!

By now we are frustrated and wondering what to do. That’s when we remembered that Kinkos/Fed Ex have computers for rent so we went to the Ballard Kinkos and got online to look at Craigslist apartment ads. And sure…there were lots and lots of apartments in our price range, but almost none that would allow Sitka, our beautiful 12-year old German shepherd. Whaaa…that dog traveled with us from Duvall, WA to Mexico and back…she was “dog-napped” twice (returned for ran$om)…we’re not about to abandon her at this point! One rental agent even had the gumption to ask, “Can’t you just leave your dog with friends so you can move into this wonderful apartment?” %$#&!!
Finally, we spoke with a woman who has a 4-plex for rent in Kenmore. She said Sikta was a possibility…and her husband was at the property installing a new kitchen in the vacant unit. We used Mapquest to find the property and off we went!

We were pleased to find that the whole unit has just been upgraded with new carpet, paint, doors and the kitchen is close to being completed. It has sliding glass doors out to a patio and a small, fenced back yard. IT’S PERFECT!

We got a rental application and agreed to complete it and be back at the property in an hour and a half. The husband and his son were going to get some food (by now it was 4:15 and we said we’d be back by 5:30.) However, we still had that fully-packed truck/canopy and the 2 bikes on the bike rack. The last thing I wanted to do was drive back to Salem with that full load.

Again, what to do? Get a room and spend the night? And then use Sunday to look for apts? But what if someone stole our bikes or broke into the truck? And then we had a thought. Storage! We went to the closest storage facility, rented a space, unloaded everything, stopped at the bank (we needed $40 for the rental processing fee and we had ZERO dollars between the two of us), and headed back to the apartment. We got there at 6:00, but husband and son were still working so it wasn’t a problem, plus we could now drive back to Salem with an empty truck. We had a fast drive home, but it was still almost 11:00pm when we pulled in. Thankfully, Betty had already fed Sitka so we fell on the bed and went to sleep. I drove about 550 miles yesterday and I was beat!

We had agreed to complete the application in Salem and email it back this morning. So guess what I’m doing right now? I’m scanning the application and other docs and getting ready to email our packet off to what I hope are our future landlords.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when faced with adversity, Mike and I are the perfect team! I don’t know what it is, but in situations in which patience is short, tempers are hot and anxiety is high, we dig deep and “get ‘er done.” Seriously. I’m so happy to have Mike as my partner in this game called life.