Archive for August, 2010


Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Well, we finally officially own the house, so now there’s plenty of work to do. We have a young architect working on converting the dock to a rowing one and dealing with some encroachment issues (a stone wall at the edge of the patio is on land that actually belongs to the Army Corps of Engineers). Luckily for us, Ted’s parents like the house and have been there a few times making friends with the neighbors and taking stock of what needs to be done; it turns out they are really good at recognizing problems that I’m not sure I’d have noticed (e.g. dealing with a, overgrown wisteria that had the potential to damage the deck). They decided to “camp out” in the house last week on the way to a family event and sent us the following email (reprinted with permission, names and some details removed for privacy):

Dear Paula and Ted

Synopsis of camping adventure. Camping good, digs great!
First stop – city hall. We took care of the water deposit & scheduled the water turn on time. Found a small library in the city hall building. It has 2 computers available for anyone to use which might be helpful if you do not have a computer connection or WiFi available.

The person who was to turn on the water arrived at the house about the same time as we did. He was very nice and helpful giving us the phone number for Lane Electric. We played dumb about the water already being turned on. Since electricity was not turned on, I contacted Lane Electric. The clerk knew the water was supposed to be on. They sent out a tech. immediately to turn on the power.

We came prepared with 2 AAA maps & were able to find the Bob Straub Parkway/126 connection to Springfield & on to I-5. It came in very handy not only for going “to Town” for dinner, but also for driving on to the wedding.

As night approached, the challenge of the lights began. We soon discovered the light switches did not have a consistent on or off position & when there were multiple switches in a line there wasn’t a consistent pattern of which turned on lights or fans or for which rooms when more than one room was involved. Of course the room that had no working lights was the master bedroom. But, we had a full moon to light up the room. We will let you have the challenge of learning the light maze for yourselves.
We bought a cheap queen air bed to sleep on. We have never had a water bed, but this air bed must be the air equivalent. With all of the windows and skylights in the master bedroom, we were able to fully appreciate the full moon’s light. Ted, we left the air bed at the house, so if you want a moving camping experience, you can sleep at the house until the furniture arrives. Once we got used to everything, we really did sleep.

On Thursday & Friday we worked on clearing the large weeds & dead wood from the yard & containers and watered the front to encourage any plants still alive & to soften the ground so that we might be able to later dig out volunteer oak trees springing up across the front. We were working to give the house a more lived in/cared for look.

We went to Lowell’s finest (only) Mac’s Cafe for dinner one night. We were pleasantly surprised. It was fine and quite popular on Friday night. We ate breakfasts & lunches at the house. We had brought the electric cooler you gave us several years ago. It worked great for a small refrigerator. As we ate breakfast, we watched rowers skimming across a perfectly smooth lake. An eight had a small motor boat moving along side the shell. We thought it might be the UO rowers. Later we saw a fellow standing on a small flat board or shallow boat paddling from side to side. It appeared he was concentrating on limiting his movements to his upper body. It looked like a real workout for him.

We talked to R, the next door neighbor. K (Ted’s father) was charming as always. He even gave R some of our tomatoes which R seemed to appreciate.

We went to the wedding on Saturday. Had a great time, saw lots & lots of family. The outdoor evening wedding was beautiful. Unfortunately a cold wind came up during the reception dinner and chilled everyone to the bone. Last week it was in the 100’s there and Sat. the high was 70F. By the reception, it was in the 60’s with a 12 mph wind.

Back at the house on Sun., we checked all of the house outlets, finished cleaning up, packed up and drove home. All in all we had a very nice time. We found the house’s setting so beautiful and very relaxing.

So Ted will have plenty to work on when he goes to the house in a few weeks. Meanwhile, today we get to go look at some apartments here – I’m pretty sure most people get to be finished with that once they’ve bought a house!

my first visitor!

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

It was great to have a flying visit from our rowing friend Rebecca – she’s the first visitor I’ve had in this apartment and the first I’ve had at all since Ted’s parents visited over Christmas of 2008, so that was exciting. She was at a conference in Copenhagen and just came down here for a couple of days at the end. I was really excited for this visit, because I knew there were so many things she’d love here, especially all the bikes and the infrastructure that makes it so easy to live here without a car. I regret that the two days she was able to come were Sunday and Monday – I’d have loved to take her to the Woensel Markt (Saturday) or knitting group (Wednesday), because she’d have enjoyed those. But we did get to go rowing in a coxed quad on Sunday afternoon!

Her train came in at 9:20 AM, so we had plenty of time to hang out before rowing – we walked around town, went to the art museum cafe for tea aand tarts because the bagel place didn’t open until noon (they’re not entirely clear on the concept of bagels as breakfast food here). Then we went back for bagels, then over to the Philips Electric Light in Art museum where they were having an exhibit by a Chinese artist, Ji Liu. He had three pieces on display: a bed lit from above by hundreds of red lasers that looked like silk threads when shown off by puffs of smoke; a ‘cage’ made of green lasers that entirely made us feel like characters from The Matrix, walking through something that seemed so solid; and a blue-lit plexiglass model with holes in its many layers that looked like an encased skeleton from a few feet away.

After that we vegetated for an hour or so, then went rowing, so now Rebecca’s gotten to try “rowing in a Dutch ditch”, as our cox said. (Much of it is a very pretty ditch.) We got rained on the entire time, but since she grew up and learned to row in Seattle I think it made her feel at home. Fortunately it wasn’t too cold out, though we were chilled enough to appreciate hot showers by the time we got back to the apartment. Once showered and changed we went out for Italian food – I guess I could have cooked for her, but I was enjoying having someone to eat out and share wine with.

On Monday morning after breakfast, I worked from home while she took my bike and rode to Helmond, about 36 km. (No doubt my bike was shocked – it’s never gone more than 10 km or so at a time.) This time she only got a bit of drizzle, just enough to feel like echte Nederlands weer (real Dutch weather) And I got to take advantage of being home, and of the cool weather, by starting a pot of chili. When she got back, I fed her stroopwafels, showed her our photos from South Africa, and then it was time to go to the train station. It was too short a visit and I think she spent nearly as much time on the train as here, but it was really good to get to hang out with an old friend and talk rowing, knitting, ants (her field of study), Arizona, travel, and mutual friends. I’m a bit hoarse now 🙂

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Saturday, August 7th, 2010

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