Thursday, June 30, 2016

Early morning blues

Today is the day. Moving day. Again!

Hopefully, there will be only one more move in my future, and hopefully that will take place within the next 6 months or less. After what will be 2.5 years of bouncing around, living where I could at the mercy of other people, I think I'll appreciate that little apartment more than any place I've ever lived. A place that isn't somebody elses home, where I don't have to worry about making noise (or listening to their noise), or stepping on anybody's toes in some way, or sharing a bath in the public hallway, or wondering if it's OK to use the kitchen so I don't impede the owner's use of the kitchen, or any of the other things that arise under shared circumstances.

But there's a little wait, first, and I'm good with that. I think the new place/housemate will work out just fine and it'll be a good place to recoup, start eating healthy and exercising once again. And it all starts today.

So -- it's around 4:30am and I've been up since 3am. Before that, I slept in a few fits and starts for short periods of time. Fun! My 'landlady' and her honey were in the kitchen late last night for an hour or more, until around midnight. They were trying to be quiet, but I could still hear them. Opted against ear plugs because I hate them and because there was someone on the radio that I wanted to listen to if I was awake. Would have been just as happy to go to sleep and not hear any of it. So, hopefully some good sleep tonight and a safe drive to Napa tomorrow.

Now, that's also something I'm looking forward to! Not the drive  -- it's just long and boring -- but the week of peace and solitude (around the gardeners and plant waterers and pool maintenance people. I'll miss the housekeepers, who will be in tomorrow morning). Life is tough. She says with a grin.

The sky is beginning to lighten up and there's been a bright sliver of new moon rising in the east since I've been up. Still too early to really do anything -- not that I exactly feel like doing anything. The move isn't happening until 10am, so there's more than enough time for what little remains to be done. So here I sit. Still in 'hurry up and wait' mode.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Almost over!

Now it's just 'hurry up and wait'.

Most of my stuff is already at the new place. All that's left is stuff that's being used and will be used until I leave. Most of that can be packed tomorrow afternoon with only a tiny bit left for Thursday morning. Much of it is already packed. I've run my errands, done my bookkeeping, cleared out stuff that needed to be cleared, put my kefir grains to bed in the refrigerator with a quart of milk until I get back, am feeding my sourdough today and again tomorrow, so it'll also be happy. Laundry tomorrow.  Camera and mouse batteries charging. And that, my friends, is about it.

I'll be gone before I know it -- yet somehow, still not soon enough! Still, it could be (and has been) far worse. The room is still middling cool and comfortable, before the afternoon heat onslaught hits. And I am simply biding my time, biding my time. Starting to feel really excited that this awful month-long experiment is almost over. Almost over!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Three more days!

Not counting today, of course. And today is more than half over. I am so tired of staying in this room all the time. Most of the time. It's funny, a friend used to feel bad that I was stuck in the last room all the time, called it a cell, or a dungeon, or some such. Yet, that one was pleasant and comfortable and if I grew tired of being inside I had only to go for a walk in a lovely neighborhood. Here, I can go for a walk, but the neighborhood is anything but lovely. Flat, industrial, busy streets with little to enjoy. But -- only three more days. I just wish I had a good book, or better TV.

My doctor appointment proved that I have gained about 5 pounds during this last month or so of stress/binge eating. I'm only surprised it's not more. But it ends now. After one last indulgent individual cake today, I poured the rest of the sugar down the drain and washed it away. The good news is that my lab results were all positive and healthy -- despite the last month! I will rid myself of the excess fat easily enough, soon enough.

My home for next week
Looking forward to Napa more every day. Making mental lists of wines and other things to buy while I'm there. Thinking fondly of time to be spent on the expansive decks in the mornings and afternoons, with coffee and wine and whatever. Nothing like watching the hot air balloons wafting below over the valley in the morning light, or watching the sun set over the Mayacamas in the evening. Do I sound homesick? I guess I am.

I still don't know if I'll be traveling alone, although I expect that will be the case and am moving forward with plans for same.

So the countdown continues. Three more days. It sounds wonderful.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Only a week away

I can finally say that it's less than a week before I get to move out of this dormitory, and it's not a minute too soon. OK, it's a week. But less than sound so much better. I've chilled a good bit about it all, but that may be because I've given  in to the time-honored stress response of eating. No matter how clearly I realize that this is in the end an unwelcome and even dangerous response, I seem unable to stop it. Probably because I have no real desire to stop it. I'll be sorry next time I step on a scale (this afternoon at the doc's office). So -- having less than a week to go is good for my physical health as well as my mental health.

At the new place, I'll have good company, lots of space, beautiful surroundings and many miles of my favorite kind of bike riding available right outside the door.

A week from tomorrow I'll be driving south to Napa, and I'm finally looking forward to that. For awhile it seemed to be a necessary but undesirable trip, undertaken only to have a place to live for the week. It's still necessary, but not nearly as undesirable. Looking forward to some warm and sunny weather and all the good wine I can afford to buy. Trying to talk a good friend into going with me, but not sure if that will happen. He's a bit unpredictable when it comes to such things. But while a companion would make the trip less tiring, I've made it alone many times in the last couple of  years (and previous years), and I'll survive doing it again if it comes to that. And, whether alone or not I know I'll enjoy a week of peace in that beautiful house in that beautiful valley that I love so much. It'll be especially welcome after a month in this place!

That's it for today. Not much going on here (lots going on in DC, though!).

Cold, overcast and wet here today -- in the midst of a long and pleasant spell of warm, sunny weather. Nice, as long as it only lasts one day!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

New adventures

Another trip to Coburg, another opportunity/excuse to stay away from here for awhile and have a nice lunch elsewhere. I could have come back here, but when I get out for awhile, I want to stay a little longer.

I noticed a few weeks ago that there is a Filipino restaurant just across the street from here, more or less, and since my TV chef/traveler Andrew Zimmern has said that Filipino food is delicious and worth a try, I've been wanting to follow that advice. So I did. It really was delicious, and there was plenty of it. Always nice to have a change of pace in the diet. My own cooking gets old -- especially the limited amount I'm able to do here. So, a tasty and filling lunch and a nice and much-needed nap. Life is good.

I took a car load of stuff over there and put it in the shed, managing to hit the sweet spot between showers so none of it got wet. Another nice talk with my new roommate, who I think I'll really enjoy being around. Even met one of the neighbors. Less than 2 weeks to go now and I'll be free from this place forever.  I did mention, did I not, that as of last Sunday I have two roommates sharing this level of the house with me? The 'quiet young man that works nights' brought along his very pregnant girlfriend who is home all day, is very loud and noisy, sits around watching TV, loud. That's been fun, I must say. Noisy, crowded. So I stay in my room 99% of the time.

Did I also mention that I'll be driving down to Napa/Sonoma for a week in between the two places? The move/in out dates didn't match up, so rather than staying here for another week (if that would even be possible) I opted to drive south. I'll be staying in my friends' beautiful home overlooking Napa (they won't be there, so I'll have it to myself), and driving to Sonoma every day to help the bhikkhunis get their new home ready for occupancy and use as an actual monastery. They are so excited about this, and I have been wanting to see it, and help, so this should work out fine. Driving down on July 1st, back on the 7th.

So that's what's going on here. Not a whole lot! My life in this room is far from exciting. Mostly limited to whatever free TV I can get, Netflix and reading. But, new adventures are right around the corner.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A feel-good story

One of the coolest stories I've heard for awhile involves a small radio station near Seattle that sends commercial-free world-class jazz around the world 24 hours every day, via the internet. Appropriately named, Jazz24 is owned by Pacific Lutheran College, I believe it is, which also owns an NPR station, KPLU, that also plays jazz from time to time during the day. I've listened to this station for many years now, and always love it. Listening right now, as a matter of fact, which is what brought this blog post to life.

A couple of months ago I tuned in for the first time in awhile only to see that this wonderful service was about to die because the license (presumably KPLU's license) was being sold and Jazz24 would no longer exist. BUT, the station owners had told some of the Jazz24 staff (presumably -- I'm not sure what the group actually is) that if they (the Jazz24 group) could raise $7 million by a date I've forgotten, sometime in June or July of this year, the owners would sell Jazz24 by itself to this group. At the time I first saw this, they'd raised over $6 million, which was pretty good, but the deadline was looming.

Now, and for a couple of weeks, there is a big 'thank you' banner on the website: $7 million raised in 4.5 months from listeners around the world. I don't know what the plans are, but it means that I, and many others, will still be able to enjoy this wonderful service.

I'll add my thanks to those folks who made this possible. And thanks for a feel-good story during a time when we see far too few of those.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Would you believe I am going to move again? Again!!!! Needless to say, things are not working well here. Three out of 8 of the first nights here, she was cooking in the kitchen for a couple hours after 10pm, once at 3am. And of course, I don't sleep then. Otherwise it's ok, but that is the key point, of course. So after the most recent time, I decided to move on.

The good news is that I've found a place that is almost unbelievable! It's in the little town of Coburg, a few miles north of Eugene off I-5. Quiet, pretty, sleepy little town that I've ridden my bike through countless times. Only 6 miles back to Eugene and the nearest grocery store.

It's a rambling older home on a big corner lot. Big sunny kitchen. Spacious and comfortable. And I'll have what might be considered the master bedroom, which has sliding doors onto the back patio/yard and a private bath with a real, old clawfoot tub. No shower, but I can use the shower in the other bath. It's large enough to put my stuff, and there's a nice, dry shed in the back yard that will store my other stuff.  The woman is about 55,  also an early-to-bed-early-to-rise sort, and that'll be wonderful. We seem really compatible, unlike the previous two roommates. They were nice, but not people I'd be friends with. So I'll be moving in on the 30th and am really looking forward to it. Will be able to have my bike, of course, and look forward to riding those long, straight, level country roads through farmlands.

In all actuality, the place is luxurious compared to what I've been used to. Especially the bed/bath suite. It's beautiful -- and there is sunshine everywhere. Bedrooms are well-separated so there's no issue of disturbing one another. In fact, I no longer even care how long it takes for my apartment to open up. This is a place I could probably live in forever and be content. But I'd better not get too used to it!

To celebrate, of course, and since it was lunchtime, I stopped in downtown Springfield on my way home and hit the Plank Town Brewing Company for lunch. A big burger cooked rare, and one of their brews called Riptooth IPA, which was exceptionally good. I sat outside under an umbrella, although I found a corner of warm sunshine. Lovely experience all around.

So now I'm back 'home' to find that another roommate will be moving in next door and that I'll need to share the bath with him between now and the end of the month. Bummer! But it's only a couple of weeks. He works nights and sleeps all day, so shouldn't be much of a problem for me otherwise.

I feel good now -- will be happy at the new place for as many months as are needed until I can make the 'final' move. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Undersea life

The EV Nautilus has been exploring in Astoria Canyon, off the coast of Oregon near the mouth of the Columbia river, since yesterday afternoon. Fascinating, incredible footage. This photo is one of theirs, sent out on Twitter. But it's what they passed over for hours, even through the night last night. They discovered a previously unknown methane seep yesterday while I was watching, the waters everywhere have been rich with starfish and other fish, crabs and sea stars, and floating biologic matter that reflected the ROV lights like millions of microscopic diamonds. I can't watch for terribly long because for some reason streaming this site overheats my computer.

This dive is ending right now, but they'll be out there again soon, perhaps at a different location. Check in and see what's going on! Here.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Urban gardening

My little outdoor sanctuary early this morning. Hard to tell, but in the pots are (l-r) a yellow cherry tomato (the only cherry tomato the store had), a pot of parsley, rosemary and thyme (where's the sage?), and a lone basil plant. I hope they thrive!

Plan is to let the cherry tomato climb the railing and cascade down. There are little yellow buds opening, and I hope the shock of replanting doesn't kill them off.

The human mind is a rather amazing thing -- I know that, have seen it clearly during all my years of looking closely at the mind through meditation and the buddhist teachings, yet I am still surprised at times. Yesterday, starting in the early morning, I noticed I was already having sleep anxiety for that night, since I had no more grass. And I had also noticed the lack of it on Friday once I decided to buy the grass-laced cookie. That sleep anxiety is one of the biggest obstacles I have to overcome every day and every night. Last night I took some liquid OTC sleep aid, but knowing I had that didn't alleviate the anxiety all that much.

What's interesting to me is the difference in sleep quality. Both nights after eating the cookie I slept soundly, awoke refreshed. Last night, I slept somewhat soundly but with some unpleasant side effects and I awoke groggy and not particularly refreshed. Tonight, it's back to au naturel, I'm afraid. We'll see how that goes!

Yesterday I took the bus from here to downtown Eugene, to the library. About a two hour trip, although might well be faster on weekdays when buses run more often. As I passed the edges of old-town Springfield en route (the same road I take every time I head to Eugene) I had the bright idea to take the bus down there some day and just walk and explore. That part of Springfield is really quite charming, on the outside anyway. Old brick buildings, nice shops and brew-pubs, antique shops, etc. And I know it extends beyond Main Street, which is the one I travel. So, an adventure for tomorrow, perhaps. I want to include stopping for some fresh tortillas at a tortilleria down there while I'm at it.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunrise -- and sleep

The view from my new (via Goodwill) lawn chair on my deck this morning. It's a truly lovely place to have morning coffee, even before light from the sun begins to streak the sky. For me, I think it's all about a chance to be outside. I will take advantage of this while I am here, as I will not have it at my new place.

Have had two nights of sound sleep, thanks to two vastly different (and even contradictory) efforts.

Effort number one: a mere 15 minutes of focused meditation which helped me release the tensions, fears, aversions and anxieties I was holding around the idea of not sleeping. Did that early Friday morning, and felt better the rest of the day. You could call it rearranging my attitude, but it goes deeper than that. It was simply putting my many years of buddhist studies into practice in real life. And that's really what the practice is all about -- working with real life, real time issues. I knew that I had all that fear, all the anxieties around this. And I realized how much I was pushing it all away from me, how strong my aversion was to the fact of not sleeping. Aversion (call it anger, hatred, or just something that's in your life that you don't want in your life) never works. Letting go of the aversion -- along with the fear and anxiety -- loosens tensions and frees the mind.

Effort number two: I opted to visit a nearby marijuana dispensary later Friday morning, and bought a cookie. Not cheap -- $7.50 with tax for one cookie, but I thought half of it would provide enough of the good stuff for me, and it did, so it was good for two nights.  Key is how much of the good stuff (ie, THC) is in the item. This cookie had 12 %, the highest percentage of anything they sell and apparently perfect for me, split in half. But still, not something I can afford on a daily basis, to be sure.  Maybe weekly, if the problem persists. Edibles like this just went on sale to the public here a couple of days ago, and I was glad to see the day arrive!

Yesterday morning, while it was a mere 80 degrees outside at 9am, I walked to the nearby Goodwill and found a decent and colorful low-slung web lawn chair that I carted home with me and put on the deck.  Today, fairly well rested, I plan to drive into Eugene and get a few herb plants and one cherry tomato plant. The pots are prepared and ready -- just need the plants.

Temps reached 95 here yesterday -- record breaking! More today, then it will taper off again to more normal, but quite comfortable, temps. At the moment, 6am, it's 68.5 at a nearby Wunderground location. Not exactly cool, but for once I'm grateful that this place has AC and that my roommate uses it heavily. I generally keep my door closed to keep the cold air out, but on days like yesterday, and today, it's nice to open the door for a few minutes if needed.

So life is beginning to look better. Amazing what a little sleep will accomplish.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sleep, culture shock, and a Ninja

Day two in the new digs. Two things abundantly clear: One, with very little sleep last night on top of all the previous nights, my body feels as if it's starting to shut down. The brain as well. My heart rate has been accelerated for a week or more. It's not a good feeling, certainly, and I have nothing to take to ensure some sleep tonight. My eyes are so tired, hurt so much that even with glasses I couldn't focus on signs while driving this afternoon. But this will eventually pass, as all things do.

I've been focusing on rest and nutrition, trying to keep the body as strong as possible. Had to go out for awhile late this afternoon -- drive 15 blocks and return -- and wasn't sure I could actually do it. Safely, that is. But I did. Not planning to go anywhere at all tomorrow, although I am certainly stir crazy in this room, need to get out somehow. But how, when I haven't the energy to drive? Or walk? I really can't remember when I've been this totally drained. Would have slept last night, but there was noise inside the unit and outside the unit from 10pm to midnight or later, and once that delicate time window of sleep for me is broken, interrupted, it's over for awhile. I'm getting used to late night TV, which will eventually put me to sleep.

The second realization is something I knew intellectually but have finally begun to experience personally: Springfield is NOT Eugene! Simply crossing the river is like crossing into some kind of alternate universe, almost. A different culture -- more conservative, for one thing.  It's just such a huge difference from liberal, hippie, intellectual Eugene. A different mind-set, attitude and much more. Thus some of the noise around here at night and even during the day. But that's ok. I'll get used to it and find ways to work around the noise. I hope!

Marijuana edibles went on sale in Oregon today to the general public, and I was more than a bit tempted to stop at one of the many stores, to help me sleep. It works -- tried it back in January for awhile but I had to make my own edible from the dried buds and that was much too time-consuming to try it again. Smoking it is not an option, for me. No interest, and I don't have the lungs for it. I just want to sleep.

Last week I tried my ex-roommate's Ninja blender to see if it really was that much better than my blender for the morning smoothie -- and indeed it was! Much better. I decided to buy one next time they came up on Woot! and wouldn't you know, it came up later that same day. So I ordered, it arrived yesterday. Amazing machine. Not the little Ninja, this is a monster blender with 1500 watts and special programmed buttons for use in making specific kinds of things. Chops up seeds, frozen fruit, spinach, fresh ginger and basically whatever I want to put into the smoothie, just with the to-go cups and small blade. Haven't yet used the blender bowl with a tall, corkscrew blades. But this was a winner, to be sure.

So that's it. Not very exciting, I'm afraid. Please send thoughts of sleep and rest, to get this old and worn out body back on the road to recovery.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New, but temporary, home

So, these are my new digs. Small, but comfortable. Roomie wants to get a desk for the room, but for now at least I think I am going to stick with the footstool being the desk. Convenient -- I can read it while relaxing, and without being connected to the large monitor it's totally portable. Don't love the bed against the wall, but the room is much more spacious this way so I'll keep there.

Instead of a desk, I think I might ask her for a chest of drawers. She offered both, but there's not room for both. I could store the desk items I routinely need in a drawer, use others for other things. Don't have much in the way of clothes that need drawers.

Also have my denture fixed, although he warned me that it might break again. Since a new one costs $1100, I'm just going to have to take the chance and be sure not to eat anything that requires biting with all the front teeth -- like pizza and sandwiches. Don't need the pizza, rarely eat sandwiches, so that shouldn't be an issue.

So today will be resting and organizing, plus a little food shopping. No cable TV here, but roomie gave me a hint about inserting the end of a paper clip into the connector on the TV, so I get one local network station quite clearly. Want to figure out what I'd need to do to get the rest of them. TV is also connected to wi-fi now, so I can use my Hulu subscription there rather than the computer, and will probably give Netflix another try, for awhile. Also get that on the TV.

So -- weather hot here, and getting hotter by the weekend. As in record-breaking hot. The house has AC, a window-type unit located in the living room, but since I don't like AC I keep my door closed and open the window or door. Worked fine yesterday, and it was about 85 out there.

Enough of my drivel. Easy to tell when I'm tired -- I tend to run off at the mouth, and that apparently extends to the blog as well. Alas.