Archive for January, 2013

houses

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

We bought a house! We’ll be closing on February 22, so I think it will be a long month to wait, but in the meantime, things are getting busy.

Since we’re keeping the Eugene house, but since we’ve also been a bit spoiled by the apartments we’ve lived in as expats, we wanted something small but nice in Hillsboro. We’ve settled on a townhouse. It’s only got a one car garage, unfortunately, but at least there’s a long enough driveway to park the truck (which wouldn’t fit in the garage anyway). The entry is on the ground floor with the garage; on the next level (American 2nd floor, European 1st floor) is the living room, dinging room, and kitchen, all open to each other, plus a small den off the living room. We hope to put the rowing machines there, where they’ll be able to see the TV in the living room, but the townhouse is laid out with several condos sort of interleaved in one building, so that someone else’s one-story unit is below us. We’ll have to hope that, with a pad under the erg, they won’t be able to hear us in the bedroom below, or else we’ll have to put the ergs elsewhere. Upstairs, there are two bedrooms and a loft. Each bedroom has a walk-in closet (not true, even for the MBR, in many other townhouses we looked at!) and its own small bathroom. There’s decent storage overall – lots of counters in the kitchen, a pantry, a coat closet, and another shelved closet identical to the pantry over by the entrance, next to the powder room and coat closet.

This weekend we’re at our Eugene house getting everything ready, because next week they’ll finally be delivering our shipment! We’ll have to lay out all the kitchen stuff and linens and clothing, and decide what stays here and what goes up to Hillsboro. (The closets and bedroom size there are some of the best of any townhouse we looked at, but they’re still a bit small. I miss the closet and built-in storage space we had in Taiwan! On the other hand, hopefully this place is considerably better insulated from both outside temperatures and neighbors’ noise.)

Meanwhile, we’ve been buying everything. It feels like that, anyway – all our major appliances and furniture, because just about all of our existing furniture will stay at the Eugene house. Unfortunately, though most of the new stuff will be delivered the day after closing, the sofa won’t arrive until the beginning of April. Luckily, we have two comfortable glider chairs, one already in the Eugene house and one coming with the shipment, that we’ll being up so we have something to sit on. Ted’s bedroom chest will be late too, but since I don’t nee anything but casual clothing at the moment, I can leave most of mine in the other house and let him use some of my drawer space.

I am very glad that we decided I’d take some time off to work on writing projects; not only am I loving working at home and enjoying the writing itself, but it’s been a huge boon to have the free time to deal with all of this, look at houses, go back and buy things once we’ve made decisions, and accept deliveries. Wonder if I can eventually get a telecommuting job?

Real Oregonians don’t wear winter coats

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

I’m not sure why, entirely. They do wear light jackets; after all, you need something to keep the rain off, especially as (I’m told) Real Oregonians also don’t carry umbrellas. (And here I thought Ted was just being ornery all those years. I did see his father use an umbrella once though – in Thailand, to keep off the sun.) There is reason for it though; the reason was obvious yesterday when the temperature hovered above 50F (10C) all day, but even today, when it’s been drizzly and in the low 40s I was pretty warm after doing some errands in my own winter coat, even though I kept my coat open.

I’ve been being domestic lately; this morning I changed and washed the sheets on our bed, which I think have been slept on for a combined total less than two weeks, including both before and after the holidays. That may be a new record for me. I’ve done a bit of cleaning in the bathroom and kitchen and have compiled a list of meal ideas so I can just pick a few to get ingredients for when I go shopping. Next week, I plan to assay a chicken pot pie. Tomorrow will be chili, one of my specialties (today is mac’n’cheese, so Ted doesn’t get too accustomed to high standards).

The high point of today was my visit to the Hillsboro Main Library. Aside from one brief visit to the one in Eindhoven back in 2006 (during which I determined that their stock of books in English was fairly small, and anyway they were only open during my working hours) I haven’t been in a public library since moving out of the US. This is a good one, too; they have computers and events and all, but most of all they have books. Lots of books, and they’re renovating to make room for more. They’re part of a county-wide library system, so my card gets me into any of those libraries, and they can get books from each other without having to use ILL. It’s surprisingly well-staffed: a Welcome desk, a Library Card Services desk, a Reference desk, a Children’s Librarian and an Ask the Librarian desk in the Children’s section. Some of those desks were staffed by 2 or 3 people.

I think I got brownie points for enthusiasm; to get a library card you have to prove you’re a local resident and that’s difficult at the moment: we’re in a temporary apartment being rented by Ted’s company, and we don’t have any utility bills. Because we’ll only be here a couple of months, we had the truck and our driver’s licenses registered to our Eugene house. We ended up putting my phone account in Ted’s name, because we got a company discount that way, and those forms do have the address on them. I ended up taking one of those plus our marriage license to prove that I really am ‘associated’ with Ted. You’re really supposed to have a document with your own name and address on it, but when they checked with the supervisor, she said , “Well, she’s really gone above and beyond, so we should give her a card.” It wouldn’t have been a disaster anyway; they have stamped postcards you can send to yourself from the library, then bring it in once you’ve received it in the mail. (I think the concern may be less about the legitimacy of your residency and more about making sure they can get hold of you if you don’t return books or DVDs.)

I’ve also signed up to volunteer; I told them I can read aloud well (“well” may be an overstatement; I don’t do character voices, but at least I’m coherent and get the emphasis in the proper place) and that I’m good at research and with computers. Hopefully they’ll ask me to do something more interesting than shelving. I’m not great at that; I know how to do it perfectly but I tend to be inefficient because I keep stopping to read the books I’m supposed to be putting away.

After that I went grocery shopping, then, armed with the gas discount I get for spending money at the grocery store, went to gas up the car. This was the first time I’ve done that in this state when I was driving (well, once before but Ted was there and he dealt with it). Oregon is a bit strange: you can’t put gas in your own tank, but have to wait for an attendant to do it for you. I didn’t know what kind of fuel the car took, either, because it’s a rental and there was nothing to say, so we assumed 87 octane was OK. I also thought it was a bit strange that the attendant could use my bank card to pay without me putting in a PIN code; you don’t need one if you use it as a credit card (US bankcards mostly also serve as VISA charge cards) but it wasn’t clear to me if I’d need to sign or not afterward, so for security I did get out fo the car and enter my code. The gas station attendants here are not nearly as adorable as the teen-agers at the gas station we used to go to in Taiwan.

Otherwise, I’ve just been amassing words and meters: the former on my writing projects and the latter on the erg. I haven’t been getting huge numbers in each; having started Monday, I’m only about 4K words into my book on business processes, plus a few diagrams. (Funny how much faster blog entries are to write: this one is around a thousand words!) I’ve only been erging about 5km a day, due to some tendonitis in my right wrist. That hasn’t helped with all the typing either, though it isn’t really the limiting factor. I’ve also been spending time getting the document formatted and doing some research (hence the library visit).

I’ve also been spending time on house hunting. So far there’s one we like best, but they’re releasing townhouses in a complex a few at a time and the owners aren’t really responding to our realtor to see if we can get one with the features we want in the time we need it. There’s a second best that I’ll be taking another look at tomorrow, and a few more that might be OK. Once we get it, it will need to be furnished; we have a couple of chairs and bookcases from the other house to bring over, and after furnishing our flat in Taiwan we already have most of the kitchen gear and linens we’ll need, but we’ll have to buy beds and sofas and such. That should be fun, anyway.

back from the holidays

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Our break has been great, though we didn’t do anything dramatic. First we spent a few days at our house near Eugene, and picked up Ted’s grandfather at the airport. Then we all went down and spent Christmas at his parents’ house. We went back to our place afterward, and they all came up for a few days around New Year’s (and to get his grandfather back to the airport). It turns out that keeping house and cooking for five people is hard work when you’re not used to it! My right wrist is unhappy with me now; apparently I need to start keeping it straight when washing dishes. Still, it’s rewarding cooking for people who appreciate it, and it’s always fun, both to try new recipes and to make old favorite ones.

Today, our “first flight” stuff – two suitcases and a computer – finally arrive. That usually takes a few days or a week, but it got hung up over the holidays. It will be nice to have more than the clothing we brought with us, though. I’ve worn the jeans I brought so often that I’ve put holes in the back bottom of the legs of one pair with my heels. On Monday Ted will start back to work, and I need to get started on my projects, with some breaks to explore the local area.