Archive for December, 2012

getting settled

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

We arrived in Oregon last Friday, and I’m liking Hillsboro so far; there’s a nice mall 5 minutes walk from our apartment and all the supermarkets and big-box stores anyone could want, but you can be driving beside planted fields in about ten minutes. There are just lots of things happening to us or that we’re encountering, to write about.

Things about our temporary apartment: two bedrooms, two baths Reasonably nice, great location, OK storage (except the clothing storage will be completely inadequate once our stuff gets here!). The kitchen is far better equipped than our Dutch ones, but why am I the only person who thinks that a ladle is part of basic required kitchen gear? The thermal control here is a bit weird; the living area and the two bedrooms each have their own thermostat but it always seems to be too hot for me. The location really is excellent: Ted’s office is 10 minutes away, the mall is right next to us, lots of restaurants are nearby, we can catch a train into Portland at any of several nearby stations, and the Portland airport is a half hour away.

Things we’ve eaten that we can’t get in the Netherlands: Chipotle burritos, crispy bacon, pretzels, ales from BJs in English and Scottish styles, green asparagus in winter, good tortilla chips, American steaks. We will miss the European wines but Oregon has plenty of its own.

Things we’ve bought so far: All the groceries (making this the 3.5th kitchen I’ve set up from scratch in the last few years; the half is our lake house, where we try not to keep much food between visits so we don’t stock much); assorted housewares including a broiler because for some reason we don’t have one; an iPhone; and a very large truck. Well, sort of; we go pick it up and give them large amounts of money tomorrow.

Things we’ve done: found a realtor we like and viewed about 16 houses so far; gotten a US phone number (um, let me know if you need the number); gotten Oregon drivers’ manuals so we can study for the knowledge test; checked out a local rowing club (nobody was there); started learning our way around. Also, gotten rained on a lot (It’s a peculiarly drippy rain. In Eindhoven we had mist, drizzle, and hard rain; here, there’s also a particular state in which large occasional drops fall from the sky, so you don’t get really wet but you know when one’s hit you. It feels like standing under the drippy edge of a roof.

our official (but not yet final) farewell

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

I am having homemade apple pie for breakfast, which is a very good way to start my last full work week here. (We each brought a slice into the office.)

Our going-away party yesterday was *fabulous*. The food was excellent, the atmosphere was cozy, and everyone including us seemed to have a good time. Apparently, one way to be have a great party is to pay a restaurant to do it, and to be leaving forever (or at least for the foreseeable future).

We probably should have invited a few more people, especially in view of the high number of people who couldn’t come (it’s Sinterklaas weekend, so not surprising) but most of the people here that we care about were there. One surprise was how many of them brought gifts; a high point was when some of the rowers walked in to the restaurant carrying a pair of oars. The rowing club has just retired some old wooden boats and oars; these will hang on a wall in our house being quietly beautiful, rather than being used for rowing. Also, we now have lots of books about Dutch scenery and recipes to take along as memories – books are always, always welcome. So was the aforementioned pie.

Another high point was when my group did their presentation; my boss made a speech, they gave us a bunch of books, and then they sang a filk about us, based on Springsteen’s “Down to the River. I knew that was coming when one guy walked in carrying his guitar. (It’s hard to be inconspicuous with a guitar.) This is a very Dutch thing to do, and the proof of that was when everyone else joined in, following the lyric sheets they’d passed around around. I’m told these can be biting, but they went easy on us – Dutch humor can be rather on the, er, robust side.

People seemed to enjoy talking to each other. Some were old friends – apparently Ted’s current officemate used to share an office with my boss for years. Some were newly met; I know of two couples who met last night and now have plans to get together for lunch over the holiday. And the youngest gentleman there (6 months or so) exerted his charm and won the hearts of a couple of “older women”.

We had a great time, and as far as I can tell, so did everyone else who was there.

Oregon or bust

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

We’ve made our decision: we’re going to Oregon. This definitely doesn’t cancel the trailer year, just postpones it again (if you’re one of the people who wanted to meet up on our travels, it will still happen, just later.) At the moment, Ted has a job, but I don’t. So it’s a bit of a gamble: either it works out and they hire me too …. or it doesn’t, and we go do something else.

But when / if we do, we’ll have a bit more time to prepare better than we can do from over here – get our health insurance in order, buy and practice driving a big rig, get all the books that talk about mountain grades and campgrounds, and figure out what else we need to know.