Friday, August 29, 2014

More changes...

After several weeks of deliberation, sitting on the fence, uncertain what to buy or, indeed, whether or not to even spend the $$, this morning I bit the bullet and bought a smart TV and inherited hours worth of frustration (being the good Buddhist I am, however, I did not allow the frustration to take hold -- I basically ignored it and stayed calm).

Instructions and manuals for these things (this thing, at least) are woefully inadequate. I had to figure out a lot of things and then none of the apps for wireless seemed to work. I spent a fruitless 30 minutes chatting online with a pleasant and helpful tech support person, while trying to explain to her that the signal out here is not strong enough to allow both the internet (chatting with her) and the TV to work at the same time. Naturally, I couldn't even reach the network during that time, although the TV had connected successfully and easily to it earlier. I think the afternoon slow-down was in effect too, so it was a foolish time to be trying it. I'll try again later, when the signal is stronger, see if I can get it to work.

If not -- my option is to get an HDMI cable and connect my computer to the TV and use the TV as a monitor when I want to stream something. There is a temptation to return it and save some $$ by getting a non-smart set, but that's a lot of trouble on my part, and I'm not sure it's worth it. I may have a way to use it in the future, after all. It does have a good picture, by the way, it's just not the best photo of it. And at least I got the Comcast remote to talk to it without too much trouble, and that's worth something.

Another big change -- the weather! It has been a pleasantly warm day, hovering in the high 70's, and I have to say it's been pretty darn nice. Windows and doors open, no jail-time inside during the heat of the afternoon. Best part is, this is due to last for awhile. We can only hope!

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Little by little, I'm getting this little kuti organized and comfortable for occupancy. Not quite there yet, but still, progress is happening.

Yesterday saw some big changes. A desk moved in, a real double bed moved in, and a TV moved in. All seem to fit pretty much as I envisioned they would and while the spaces are tight, they are less congested than before.

Still things to tweak -- the package sitting on my meditation cushion is going to be forwarded to California, for example. The bed is comfortable where it is, it can be difficult to reach the windows for opening/closing. I also need pillows.

Comfy for watching TV or sleeping, although nothing matches the air mattress for keeping circulation from headed toward numbness in my hands if I sleep in my side, as I often do. For me, that's the big down-side of a regular mattress. Plus, I've slept in a queen-size bed for most of my adult life, and I find even the double to be constricting. Still -- gotta get used to that, because I don't intend to go back to a larger size.

The desk is a tad larger than I envisioned and takes a lot of space here, but at least it's tucked out of the way, and there is ample space to stand and reach things in the cabinets, and to reach my cushion. The TV is old, but has a good picture. It's here for me to determine whether or not I really want/need a TV at all. I'm not convinced that I do. I've set the desk up so that the monitor can easily be turned to face the bed for streaming shows that I actually want to see. That keeps me mostly from the mindless background of shows that are just 'on'.

Today I think I'm going to do a little walking for some errands this morning, and likely not do a whole lot this afternoon when the heat comes, other than read.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Still here

I swore I wouldn't do this, but I think I'm going to whine about this bloody heat wave! Just to let off a little internal steam into the already-existing external steam. To get my mind off it for a few minutes as I wait out the next hour or so until temps start dropping for the day. I've found that distraction is a big help during the hours from around 4pm to 6pm when this place reaches its limit on how much sun it can repel.

It would help if the wireless here worked well during this time, but afternoons are its worst hours and I'm lucky to even get a website to load, much less a video to play. I got lucky getting in here for this whine so I'm gonna take advantage of it. I get tired of reading, even a good book, plus my eyes start to burn  and sting and itch and I have to stop. Whine.

All in all, I've been pretty good -- looking at all the bright sides, realizing the impermanence of such extended hot weather in Oregon, knowing how much I'll appreciate the heat that the sun  pushes into this little cottage in the afternoons once winter arrives. I know the drill. I'm just tired of feeling locked into this room in the afternoons until that magic moment when the temps fall and I can open the windows and door and let the cooling breeze flow through the place. 

Of course, I am not really locked in here -- I can leave at any time -- but there's the question of where to go? I had a walk around the long block right after lunch, but the sun is too strong and hot to spend much time out there. The lovely porch collects sunshine like the solar collector it almost is -- hot!

And yes, I will appreciate that once the weather cools off and I want a little warmth. Right now, not so much. If the weather-guessers can be believed, we are going to have a 3 day respite around 80 starting tomorrow, with really cool nights, before popping back into the 90's for the foreseeable future. I hope they're right! A bike ride tomorrow morning in the cool air will feel really good.

OK -- enough whine. This morning I legalized my car and myself to drive/travel the roads of Oregon. Took about an hour, with very little actual waiting time, just plenty of patience and far more $$ than I had anticipated. Talk about sticker shock! Maybe it's time I seriously look into finding work.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A sunny day in the garden

The day began cool and foggy, but around noon fingers of sunshine began breaking through and now it's all clear and bright. I took the camera outside to try and catch one of the chickadees on a sunflower, but that never worked. They are such quick (and cute!) little buggers!

Instead, I took a few shots of the yard itself. It's looking pretty lush right now.

From the viewpoint of my chair

Full telephoto

Note the bee: not bad for full telephoto

My deck, amidst all this lush greenery

Behind the sunflowers

In front of the deck

It's a fun blend of wild and crazy and funky -- kind of like me, according to a friend.  No wonder it suits me.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Life is good

The more I settle into life here, the better I like it. My little kuti is slowly but surely becoming 'home' as I manage to clear things out, add needed things, get a little more organized, and such. I'm still not sleeping particularly well -- something to do with the bed, I think, but I'm not sure. More likely, just the fluctuating rhythm of my old friend insomnia.

I need to get out and get some exercise, since I've just had lunch. Might as well wear off a few of those calories, and jump-start digestion, anyway. Plus it's a nice, cloudy, cool day that's really perfect for cycling. Oddly enough, what holds me back is that there are two street-crossings on the bike path before it becomes unencumbered, and those make me nervous. Always have. Still do. I never trust that cars will automatically stop for me, so I have to stop and right now I'm still a little unsteady in the standing still mode -- particularly stopping and starting up again. That'll change, with time and confidence.

Still -- I have no complaints. Good books to read, friends to talk to, good food to grow (sprouts, yogurt), and 'stuff like that there'.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A good day for hot soup

Yesterday was a good day. Found a good, simple swivel task chair at Goodwill for $6.25. Then bought a twin/full size hollywood bed frame for a reasonable price, new. It seemed the easiest, cheapest, and most flexible way to go. I really don't want to spend a lot of money on twin size anything, since eventually I want to get a double, something that will take my queen-size comforter with comfort, and give me more wiggle room. I've slept in a big bed for most of my life, and while I can adjust to the narrow one, I can't say I like it.

Both were good purchases. The chair is much better for computer use (better for my back and neck), and even though the mattress isn't supported very well at the moment, the bed is more comfortable off the floor. I cut one support slat by hand, and that worked quite well, but I would be more comfortable with one or two more, so I'll try to cut those today. Or, maybe I'll just hit up Home Depot and buy one length of wood and have them cut it to the right sizes. Cheap at twice the price, since cutting with the hand saw is a slow process.

Also, I had my inaugural bike ride yesterday! For the first few minutes, my quads were saying 'what?' 'what?' and complaining about the whole thing, but they settled down quickly enough. The new gear changer works great -- just a matter of figuring out which button moves the chain which way, and that's easy enough, in motion. So I got everything set up the way I like it and rode for about 40 minutes, total. Not nearly enough to get me to the end of the trail, but far enough, I figured, for the first effort. Gotta break the muscles in slowly. And while I haven't ridden an actual bike for awhile, I did have that cycle machine in Georgia for about a year and a half, and used it a lot, so the muscles aren't all that out of shape. I'm not going to be climbing any hills or doing any 25 mile rides soon, but that's OK.

I also had a good night's sleep (until the sound of water spraying on leaves woke me up at 7am). I've figured out that the way to actually get to sleep at a reasonable hour (for me) around here is to use earplugs -- works like a charm. Too much noise from outside otherwise. Cool weather and closed windows helps, too. Unfortunately, they don't stay in all night and into the morning.

And speaking of cool weather -- it's making me want to make some soup. Now, do I want to do that badly enough to make another grocery run today? Not so sure, but we shall see.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunshine and warm breezes

Another lazy,  warm day here in Eugene, mid-August, height of summer and only a few weeks until football season and the fun begins. Pardon that silly long sentence but I've been reading Kerouac's Dharma Bums and his freewheeling style seems to have settled into my brain, at least for the time being. One thing needn't lead logically into the next.

However lazy I am being -- and I am being much too lazy -- I've made strides, nonetheless. Yesterday morning my friend brought my bike and other stuff over, which was nice. I somehow like having that bike nearby, even if I'm not riding it. This morning I took it to my favorite bike shop (Paul's) along the Fern Ridge Bike Trail only a couple of miles from here, mostly to get some air in the tires and also have it cleaned up a bit, checked out. It probably hasn't had a good checkup since the last one at Paul's downtown location, which is where I most often went, and that was at least 5 years ago.

Old shifter on left, new on right. Note: 2 buttons on left, one button with gear numbers on right. Huh?

Turns out it's a good thing I did -- when I went to pick it up they'd changed one of the shifters because it was broken -- just flat worn out, she said. I didn't pay any attention to the new one until I got it back here to the cottage, and realized it was totally different from the one on the other side and I hadn't a clue how to use it. They probably don't even make the old style anymore! Later, after not worrying about it for awhile, certain that I could ride it to the shop without changing gears if need be to ask questions, I went out and played with it and figured it out. Or at least figured it out enough to work the rest out later, in motion.

Old shifter on left side, two buttons

New shifter, one button! What you can't see here, and what I didn't notice at first, is a second button behind the handlebar. Whew! I can work with this. Every time I get on the bike after a long layoff, I have to re-remember the shift sequences anyway (although the body always remembers, if I keep the brain out of it)

I guess it shouldn't be surprising that it wore out -- I bought this bike in 1996 when I arrived in Corvallis fresh from the first move from Georgia to the northwest and this shifter works the rear derailleur and is thus the one I use most often. I've also put a lot of miles on it during those 18 years, so I think I've got my money's worth. The bike is a Raleigh, and they told me at Paul's a few years back that replacing it would cost a helluva lot more than what I paid for it, to get the same quality, so I'm happy to just keep putting little upgrades and repairs here and there. And I guard it carefully, need to find a place to lock it up around here, and a good cover for winter rains even though it'll be under a tarp.

Now I just need to get out there and fly down the trail to the end! It's a nice level trail alongside a waterway with ducks and herons, an occasional raccoon and other critters, ending through a nice wetland area. Can't do it tomorrow -- need to go to Corvallis to deposit a check -- but I'm thinking Tuesday will be a very good day to get out in the cool morning air and test out both the new shifter and the old legs.

Yesterday I went to a real movie theater for the first time in about 5 years. When I lived in Brookings, after I left Eugene, I drove down to Eureka once to a theater, but that was the last time. I've been seeing ads for A Journey of 100 Feet on my streaming TV shows, and felt that it was something I should see. All about food -- some of it Indian food -- a natural for me, and beautifully done. Not a movie where a lot happens, just a happy feel-good story. Come to think of it, the movie that drew me all the way to Eureka was also about food -- Julie & Julia.

So -- that's my story for this warm, sunny Sunday in August. I think that after tomorrow our weather will calm down a bit for awhile, into the mid-80's, which is perfect weather, in my book. I like days when I can leave the doors and windows open to the breeze and fresh air. And in the end, I don't think this day will be quite as hot as advertised -- too late in the day for that much more heat to arise!

Back to Kerouac.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Curtains, walks and lunch

I've been thinking for months now that I wanted to use the white India cotton crinkle curtains that were in my meditation room in Georgia, in the new cottage here. Partly because I just like the look, and partly because it gives me a better sense of privacy from people wandering in the garden steps from the cottage -- particularly in the mornings and evenings, or when I want to change clothes or take a shower. I also don't want to live in the dark behind closed blinds, so the curtains are the perfect answer!

This gives me that exotic, Bali/tropical look I've wanted with these curtains since I bought them -- but couldn't quite create in the Georgia house. These windows, and the garden beyond, are perfect. It's like a marriage made in heaven. I need a couple of more panels and they are obtainable here in town (At Cost Plus/World Market), but it hasn't been urgent enough to drive over there. When I don't need privacy, or when I want cooling breezes to come in, they are so lightweight that they twist together easily, and come loose just as easily.

Enough privacy for my sense of comfort at private times, even though nobody may be out there and they don't look inside the cottage anyway if they are out there. So now, I'm a happy camper, although it would be nice to get the bed off the floor.

Today is the first really nice summer day we've had since I arrived. Nice, as in not so hot! I actually had to get up around 4am and put on some warm clothes to sleep in -- didn't want to close the windows because I wanted the interior to stay cool during the day. Since it was so nice, I took an early morning walk that included a brief stop at DMV and picking up a prescription at a store that's probably a mile and a half or two miles away. It felt great to be out walking in cool, crisp air. Then after lunch, I took another walk in another direction, to investigate an Asian food market I'd noticed. So far, over 12,300 steps today. I don't usually wear the odometer, but was curious how many would be used in the morning walk -- it was almost 8000.

That worked up a good appetite, and since I can't seem to get myself into doing much cooking, I boiled an egg, picked some cherry tomatoes, mint and basil and made myself a salad with some packaged spinach. It tasted every bit as good as it looks!

Now, I'm still feeling energetic, but not too much so. I think the hammock and some reading are in order. Later, y'all!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Life is good

So -- some progress is being made! Everything is unpacked, and most of it actually has a home, at least temporarily. I kind of like the bed where it is, only higher up on a platform of some kind so it could also be used as a day bed/sofa. There's really no other place to put it, other than in the cubby designed for beds, and that's a tad too confining for me. The chair and/or the table and chair set can go away, eventually, if necessary. It's way too crowded at the moment. I need a good desk chair -- and a desk, for that matter, although this drop-leaf table could be used for that quite nicely. I think it can possibly be more useful as extra work space in the kitchen.

At the moment, I'm using the chair for computer work, although now that I have my lovely wireless keyboard back, I can type comfortably in any chair. Happy to see my big monitor, too, although unfortunately the wireless speed here runs hot and cold, and my email only downloads into my Outlook on occasion. Seems to work in the evenings, but not the rest of the day. Or neither. Fortunately, I can work online -- albeit s l o w l y -- and even Google sometimes tells me 'some functions not working due to internet connectivity issues'. Like all things, this will change, eventually.

This is the sleeping cubby. A full-size mattress will fit in there under the cabinets, but it would be hard to make up, for me, since it would be squished against a wall on 3 sides. I'm not one to spend much time and effort at that process -- pull up the sheets and fluff the comforter and I'm done. I am thinking of putting a desk on the right side, where there is empty wall space. I want (there's that word I hate to use!) to get a 32" smart TV to go on the chest of drawers, and with the computer so nearby it would be easy to hook the two together, at least as I understand these things. I know my computer has a port to connect to a TV, so theoretically all I need is a cable. An actual TV would also help. My meditation cushion will probably go under the big hanging closet on the left, and I have to wonder how many times I'll bump my head before learning to duck.

Light from the skylight is distorting this photo, but it can't be helped. The big shelving unit isn't even really close to being full, although I had to put my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer in the hanging closet because that was the only place tall enough to fit it. I don't use it often, so that shouldn't be a problem. This little kitchen is going to be a challenge to cook in, but I've used worse and I'll figure it out. The tiny refrigerator is going to be replaced with a larger one in a few weeks, which is a good thing. This one doesn't hold much, but it'll do for now.

I went for a walk to BiMart a while back -- about a 30 minute walk, but I rather foolishly chose to do it just after noon, when the sun was blasting. Still, a slow pace and patches of shade helped, and I enjoyed the walk. Want to keep the exercise level up.

I've decided to quit whining about the heat. Yes, the little place gets hot and stuffy in the afternoon, but so do most other places in Eugene. Last week, during a heat wave here and in California, I was bemoaning the fact that I was 'missing what summer Eugene has'. Now I'm here, it's warm and sunny, and I need to enjoy it because it's short-lived. Before you know it, I'm likely to be singing a very different tune.

That's it from sunny Eugene today. Life is good.