Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I’m overdue for an update…

I flew into Oregon last Sunday (the fourth), and was both happy to see Mom and Mer at the airport (I sneaked up on them and surprised them at security) and sad to be sooo far away from WI. Definitely was having second thoughts about the whole going to school in separate parts of the country thing…

Well, luckily there has been plenty to keep me busy—

Monday Mer & I went blackberry picking up at the ditch, and took some cool pictures. Well, I thought they were cool. Upon arriving home, we found that we had actually picked plenty for a pie. After dinner, we headed back for an extended picking session (as in, each picking nearly a coffee can’s worth of berries… Mer was ready to go home before we had quite gotten to the top of the containers, but she might have been right… it was getting more and more dangerous to trample into the pricklies looking for ripe berries), so that the next day Mom and I could make jam. So that was my big activity on Tues. – finally learning to make jam! Basically, it involves standing over some very hot water at the stove (with the jars in it), stirring the very hot jam mixture, and then trying to pour this mixture into the hot jars without spilling too much of what’s essentially magenta dye with seeds in it. In the evening we watched Supersize Me, which everyone enjoyed, and talked about food.

Weds., after Mer got home from work, we finally went floating! This was an event, as it wasn’t warm enough in June to do this, and way back last summer, I was only here for chilly weather. So it was my first float for two years – not much has changed, of course, the water is still freeeeezing… but we did kind of “pick up” a black lab, who followed us all the way down to our house, swimming most of the way. This dog was still energetic though, and we threw sticks for her for about half an hour before deciding we were tired out before her. She was still belly flopping into the ditch, sending up sprays of water, and jumping about waiting for us to throw the stick yet again… Some creatures would find retrieving sticks tedious… not labs. Unfortunately, she had a collar, so we had to take her back up the ditch to return to her home… So tempting to keep wandering dogs!

Thurs. was the famous Rosauer’s cereal sale – so Mom and I went food shopping early in the day, beating the rush. Because I find it very important to beat the rush when it comes to supermarket sales – I’ve seen what happens when Ben & Jerry’s goes on sale for 2.50$ a pint. They had my favorite organic Optimum cereals for like $1.69 a box; I stocked up! When Mer got home, we went for another round of blackberrying (not to be mistaken for Bunburying). This wasn’t the forced march of picking for jam, though – we just wanted some more berries on hand for fresh eating (I like them on my cereal because even cereals that include dried fruit never give you enough of it, in my opinion. And sometimes the dried blueberries in my Optimum Power cereal sink to the bottom).

Friday was busy – Bosun had an appointment at the vet (he’s like totally deaf now, P.S.), and I had an appointment with my oral surgeon in the Dalles. Unfortunately, my oral surgeon didn’t bother telling me that they had moved into a new office since I saw them in June. Mom and I felt like we were in the Twilight Zone… I realized that I was pretty doped up last time I was there, but I knew I had had surgery in that room that looked completely different! So we finally found their number in a handy phonebook on our way out of the building, and arrived late. They apologized, and I forgave them, because they were so friendly & I liked their new office oodles more than the past one. Anyway, it seems my slow-to-heal lower left jaw is OK for now, but they can do “plastic surgery for the gums” if my dentist ever thinks the roots aren’t sufficiently covered.

After that, Mom and I were free to shop – at Fred Meyer’s, Staples, and then back home at Wal-Mart, I think… And I still can’t find enough notebook options in recycled paper. It annoys me greatly that notebook makers are either marketing to people who want style, OR people who want recycled products. What about someone who wants a better-than-generic notebook, but also wants to be a little friendly to the environment? There’s a niche market here waiting to be filled! Come on, FiveStar, Mead, someone!

Anyway, Mer ended up picking up Boson from the vet, as Mom and I were running late after a stop at Rosauer’s. In the evening, I helped Mom make a rhubarb pie… because I love those, and when’s the last time you saw rhubarb at a supermarket? Ahh sometimes I wish I were an organic farmer – there are so many specialty crops that it would be cool to bring back…

Saturday the apartment supplying continued – visited the Senior Center rummage sale, yard sales, etc… I found a cool retro wooden dish drying rack, a sea-glass plate (I just had to have it, even though it might not be the MOST useful thing…), a new cutting board, a silverware separator, and some blue cords for Mer (that fit her perfectly – I always know if they’re a tad too small for me, they’ll fit her perfectly).

In the afternoon I was in charge of making another batch of skillet cornbread for the potluck picnic Mer was bringing me to… After a brief stop at Freddy’s, we got to Mer’s co-worker’s/boss’s house in the Dalles. Unfortunately… it was too cold to swim in the pool. But it was tons of fun anyway – Allison had cooked her own homemade fried chicken, & corn & coleslaw. Someone brought a salad & fruit salad, and it was a ton of food. And dessert… Allison had made this banana pudding with bananas & vanilla wafers… Mer’s coworker Jane had made a fruit tart w/ peaches and blueberries. I wish I had the recipes. I finally understood why Mer enjoyed work – her coworkers are awesome. Allison was constantly making us laugh, and everyone was just fun to be around. A very successful picnic, even though it was indoors!

Sunday Mer left for Matt’s, and Mom and I were planning on hiking on the mountain… until Mom discovered a flat tire on the jeep. So after watching Tim change the tire to something that would at least get her to the tire place in the morning (and helping a token amount – I’d have a slightly better idea now of what would need to be done in that situation), we resorted to plan B: hiking the logging trail along the ditch. On the way, we saw the flock of like 7 or 8 wild turkeys coming up from the orchard and flying across the ditch. I’d wondered what it would be like to see them in a flock, after Mer and I have repeatedly come upon their tracks. We got up to where Mer & I have stopped before – at a sweeping circle on the dusty road, that starts going more steeply uphill. I wanted to sit on this log on the bluff above the trail while we ate our snack, but after trying to scale the steep & crumbling-beneath-our-feet slope, I resorted for a rock along the trail.

I made fried rice for dinner – which turned out well. Not too mushy… perhaps because we left the rice to cool in the fridge uncovered.

Monday morning we got up early to take Mom’s jeep to the tire place, which is conveniently located next to Wal-Mart. I got some basic kitchen stuff… like a salt and pepper shaker, whisk, & food chopper… I know that Wal-Mart isn’t the BEST company… but, well, they do have incredibly low prices for basics when you’re trying to stock up an apartment. There are some things I’m waiting on Ikea for, but other stuff I’d rather get here and avoid the like 8% sales tax in CA!

Anyway, the tires were soon on, and we ate a quick lunch at Jackson Park, swung by the health center, and then I sat in another park listening to a podcast (Living on Earth, my favorite) and talking to Andrew and sitting in the sun.

I was in charge of dinner – enchiladas w/ leftover rice, black beans, and leftover chicken that I shredded. Getting used to putting a meal together, so hopefully I’ll have time to cook at grad school!!

Yesterday was fun – Mom and I finally got up to the mountain for a hike. We drove up to Cloud Cap, and had to take a detour along the Timberline Trail since the old bridge toward Elk Cove was washed out. The new bridge is way scary… just some planks of wood with a cable railing on one side, over rushing water and huge boulders. Eek. We only ran into one other person hiking (but he was going on the round the mountain loop). Lots of steep hills to traverse… we made our destination two little waterfalls, as it was getting late. The sky kept clearing up as the day wore on, and the clouds moved off the mountain… so we did get some beautiful views of the peak of Mt. Hood, along with the panorama of the other mountains (St. Helen, Adams, and Rainier way off in the distance so that it blended in with the clouds), bluffs, and the eastern desert. Unfortunately, my brand new batteries burned out, so I didn’t get pictures of everything… I resorted to my camera phone at some point. Anyway, on the way in, while we were eating on the rocks, Mom spotted two deer. I was too slow, and just saw the one, which looked young, switching its tail and heading into the forest.

The real animal watching was on the way home, though, as we rattled down the 9 mile dirt road in the jeep. We saw three deer on the roadway, then another by itself, so we were looking out for wildlife. At one straightway, a young looking black bear ran across the road! It was the first time I’d seen a bear in the wild, and Mom and I were super excited. I would guess it was around 200, 250 pounds, and it must have crossed within like 10 or 15 feet of the jeep. Amazing. We got out and looked around for him, but couldn’t find a trace, except a little deer path up the hill. So cool! I wish I had had a camera at the ready!

Anyway – that was my excitement for the day! I decided to do the cooking, so we had spaghetti (w/ Mom’s fresh Greek oregano and tomatoes – I love gardens) and salad. I used the whole wheat pasta I’d found at Wal-Mart, and I think I’ve converted Mum – it’s so much better than the usual bleached and then enriched variety. And just an 8th of the box has 10% of your daily iron, which I think is incredible…

That’s all for now – waiting for Mer to arrive home with our salt water taffy!!

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