Stuff I’ve been thinking about lately

I mean, other than the fact that I haven’t posted since December.  I’ve been thinking about that a lot.

 1.  My gas mileage.  I just filled up last week, and got over 800 miles and 99 MPG on the last tank.  I drive a 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In.  It’s ridiculous.


2.  How much I love our yard, and the fact that we can finally say the front landscaping is 100% finished.  Check it out.


3.  On the other hand, after 3.5 years, I continue to feel the pain of buyer’s remorse.

4.  That 30 Rock has finally replaced Seinfeld as my favorite TV show ever.  Good god, Lemon!

5.  That I feel like the co-caretaker of a small petting zoo.  Five critters is too many, but they’re family now–for better or worse.

6.  That it may be time to start looking for a new job.  Like most career paths I’ve tried during my professional life, I’ve discovered working in higher ed isn’t as glamorous as I originally thought–especially not at a community college.  There’s a lot of truth in the way community college is portrayed in Community, but it’s like a gazillion times sexier on TV than it is in real life.  And the drama!  Dear god, the drama.

7.  Moving to the coast.

Photo of Haystack Rock at Cape Kiwanda at sunset

Any questions?

8.  That my life is, for all intents and purposes, half over–but in a good way.

9.  How exhausting it is to be an introvert in a world where extroversion is prized and expected.

10. How it mostly sucks to be a big person, except for the alcohol.

11. That literally almost every person I see anymore is glued to their smartphone, and that I’m expected to watch out for them.  Walking, cycling, driving–doesn’t matter.  No one watches where they’re going, and no one makes eye contact.  It’s just sad.  And how the hell can anyone see that tiny screen without reading glasses?

12. Todos en español.  After five terms, I should hope so.

13. That I really need to re-focus on the good and wonderful things about this world and the people living in it.  Because damn.

2014 in pictures

Has a year gone by already since I posted 2013 in pictures?  How can this be?  Whatevs.  Here we go.

January

  

New Year’s day at Neptune Beach (Oops. You can tell that’s not an Oregon wine, can’t you? My bad.)
  

Happy Dog contemplates eternity

  

pink seashell on beach
  

Ocean sunset
  

Tidepool at sunset
  

Nelscott Reef welcomeNelscott Reef Big Wave Classic, Lincoln City
  

PhotographersPictures of people taking pictures of people . . . surfing.  Their cameras were much, much bigger and better than mine.  See what they were taking pictures of.  Suck it, Mavericks!
  

Surfer running on beach
  

Heart-shaped rock on beach

  

February
  

Surfrider Foundation table
Every February, at the Newport Seafood & Wine Festival, Husband and I pour Barefoot Wine for the Newport Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year: Barefoot donates all proceeds from the Festival to our Chapter. Thank you, Barefoot!

  

Man pointingThat’s the best one, right there.  The Harmony Gewurtztraminer.  You should buy a case.
  

Bare feet in water and sand
Can you tell that’s not Pacific seawater?

  

Seashell on beach
  

Palm trees at sunsetI wish the Oregon coast had these.  Have you guessed yet where I was?
  

Manatees! They’re swarming!

  

Party poopers.

  

According to this sign, swimming with the manatees is not, in fact, prohibited. However, this would be more than enough deterrent to keep me out of the water, manatees or no.

  

Manatee with scarsHardly any of the almost one hundred manatees we saw were without scars–even the small calves.  They all get sliced up by motorboat propellers.
  

Manatee swimming across springA geo-tagged manatee swims across the source of Blue Spring.  Several manatees were trailing these satellite tracking devices.
  

AlligatorNow that’s what I’m talkin’ about!  Timing is everything.  I’m so glad we got to see this big boy.  I was hoping for a giant flock of flamingos, but I only saw a pair flying over.  (at Merritt Island NWR)
  

Thanks, mom & dad, for a fabulous vacation!

  

March
  

Walking the labyrinthMy friend Denise came to visit in March.  First I took her to the stupendously gorgeous labyrinth at Good Sam Episcopal Church in Corvallis.
  

Then we went to the beach.

  

Sunset on close-up beach cobbles
  

dog paw, toy shark and human foot
  

Three people drinking wineThen we tasted wine.
  

Then we played Monopoly. I lost.

   

April
  

Easter egg balanced on end
Did you know you can do this on any day of the year–not just the equinoxes?

  

It’s Easter. So, naturally, we went to the beach. I wore my camouflage boots.

 

That’s a big f*ing wave.

 

Volunteering at the annual Oregon Garden Brewfest

 pond and treesThis is why we volunteer there.

May
 

Fluffy kitten
Our new family member

  

Two people with green hills in background

    

June
  

P6013495Happy Husband and Happy Dog climbed the dune at Cape Kiwanda.  I sat on my ass at the Pelican, drank beer and watched the ocean.
  

It’s entirely possible they’re up on the dune somewhere. Who knows?

  

Woman hugging dog on beach
  

Wine bottle, glasses, food on table overlooking vineyardSunday afternoon picnic at Illahe Vineyards.
  

Otter Rock-n-Roll Youth Surf Contest

  

People on beach with surfboard
  

Surfrider Foundation tent

    

July
  

Happy Dog and I took a day trip to the coast.

  


  


  

We dragged my parents around the top of Cape Perpetua. Looking south, you can see the Spouting Horn . . . um . . . spouting.

  

Dad tasted some delicious Illahe wines.

  

Gratuitous plug for Illahe wines.

  

I hate the thought of wasting even a drop.

  

Then we dragged mom and dad up Salal Hill on Yaquina Head.

  

peregrine falcon on hillside
We watched one of the Yaquina Head resident peregrine falcons as it ate something.

  

Happy Dog & IPuppy and I took our day trip to Erratic Rock State Park.
  

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Cargo ship outside window
There’s a sight you don’t see every day.  Unless you live in Astoria and hang out at Buoy Beer Company on the riverfront.
  

View of Astoria from the top of the Astoria Column
Astoria from the top of the Column

  

Hydrangea
They grow ’em bigger and bluer in Astoria.

  

August
  

Woman wearing Simpsons t-shirt next to tent
Time for our annual camp-out at Airlie Winery.
  

Man's feet and dog with lake and tents in background
Husband and Puppy enjoy the evening

  

Technically, this is not what the wind shelter should look like.

  

Cape Kiwanda
It doesn’t look that windy, does it?

   

September

Woman driving TeslaAh, the infamous Tesla test drive in Lincoln City.
  

Me and Laney at Emerson
Emerson Vineyard hotties on Labor Day weekend

  

Man and woman in front of Nana's Pub in NewportOne of our favorite places to take friends:  Nana’s Irish Pub in Newport
  

Man and dog overlooking lighthouse and ocean
Of course, we also like to take them up Salal Hill on Yaquina Head.

  

People on patio at brewpub
We drag everyone to the Pelican.

   

October
  

Woman harvesting grapes
Harvesting the Maréchal Foch at Emerson Vineyards

  

Man harvesting grapes in vineyard
  


  

Emerson’s winemaker, Elliot Johns
  

Grapes falling into bin
Our grapes getting de-stemmed

  

Tasting Room Open sign
Life is good.

  

Sunset at Nehalem Bay State Park

   

View south from Ecola State Park

  

Not-so-Happy Dog wondering, “Why, mommy, why?”

November

Proposal Rock at Neskowin
Evening in Neskowin

  

It’s November: must be time to climb the dune. Again.

  

rainbow with hills in background

Although it would appear this photo was taken from inside the pot of gold, I’m here to tell you there was neither pot nor gold anywhere in sight.

  

Waves, rocks, spray, ocean
The Spouting Horn was in fine form at this very high tide.

  

Thanksgiving: Oregon style

  

So my brother visited us over Thanksgiving. Our first beach day was a little wet.

  

Did I say “a little wet?” I meant stupid crazy wet. As in our clothes didn’t dry out the rest of the day wet.

  

F*ing leash.

  

Our second beach day was a huge improvement.

  

And I finally got to see what’s on the other side of the Cape Kiwanda dune! OK, I cheated and only went part of the way up. Still.

  

Back at Illahe Vineyards

  

Three people with the Willamette Valley in the backgroundIt’s never too cold to drink wine on the patio at Illahe.
(Photo courtesy Illahe Vineyards)

  

December

Christmas in The Garden

  

Christmas in The Garden

  

Husband’s arty interpretation of our Christmas tree

   

Our little guy is growing up.

  

Nothing says Christmas like hiking in Sedona.

  

One of my favorite things to do when I travel anywhere is walk the local labyrinths.

   

Watching Husband play with cactus is pretty entertaining as well.

  

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Thank you, Arizona mom & dad, for a wonderful Christmas trip!

Me and Ricky Bobby

This will probably sound monotonous if you follow mytruenorth2013, but yesterday Husband, Happy Dog and I enjoyed another spectacular Oregon coast day.

Ocean waves

However, this time there was one major difference.  Here’s a teaser:  see if you can guess what we did in addition to having chowder and beer at Mo’s and being dragged down the beach by Happy Dog.

Tesla interior

That was way too easy.  Husband and I did, in fact, enter the Post-Tesla phase of our life together.  We attended a National Drive Electric Week event and had the opportunity to test-drive Steve’s Tesla Model S P85.

Steve in backseat

This is Steve in the back seat, calmly watching as my über-excited husband drives his $65,000 car down Highway 101.  Upon being asked “How can you let complete strangers drive your Tesla?” Steve replied, “It’s just a car.”

Hmmm, no.  It’s not just a car, Steve.  It’s a Magical Space Car.

By the way, über-excited Husband as of early June has a fancy electric car of his own.

Husband & Leaf

Husband also allows encourages coerces strongarms people into test-driving his car.  I’ve watched him gabbling endlessly about kilowatt hours and regen and charge adapters and other stuff interesting only to him and other like-minded EV geeks, and drag complete strangers off by their shirtsleeves to drive the Leaf.  Their feeble protests are no match for his eagerness to share with them every excruciatingly minute detail about it.  At least you’ve gotta admire his enthusiasm.

Husband claims the Leaf runs on fairy dust, and that old-school, ICE (internal combustion engine) cars run on “devil goo.”  I guess that makes my 2005 Prius a devil goo – fairy dust hybrid.

Quite frankly, during the pre-Tesla summer months, regardless of all the crap I’ve been giving him about it, the new Leaf was pretty cool in my book.  It plays a cute little boop-boop-beep-boop song after you push the start button and makes a fun sound as it backs up.  Plus it has SiriusXM radio, a cool GPS display and six cupholders.

Now, however, it is referred to as the Grandpa-Mobile.  This photo should clearly illustrate why:

O my god

This is me following Steve’s explicit directions to pull out onto Highway 101, make sure there was no one behind us, let the car ahead of us get way, way, WAAAAAAAY ahead, and then punch it.  I’ve enlarged the picture to highlight a number of key details:

  1. Raised eyebrows
  2. Death grip on steering wheel
  3. Pursed lips enunciating “Oh my god” and “Holy shit” over and over and over
  4. 56 mph showing on speedometer approximately 1.6 seconds after I stomped on the gas electron pedal
  5. (most important) LOOK AT THE BLURRED SCENERY OUTSIDE THE WINDOW AS THIS CAR ACCELERATES FROM 0-60 IN 4 SECONDS

You have no idea what “Zero to sixty in four seconds” feels like until you experience it for yourself.  I can only liken it to sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise as Mr. Sulu throws it into warp speed.

Starship Enterprise

I’m pretty sure I gave myself, Husband and Steve a mild case of whiplash.

If this were über-enthusiastic Husband’s blog, he would no doubt include reams and reams of illuminating, but ultimately boring technical details about Tesla Motors, each individual Tesla model, the Nissan Leaf, electric vehicles in general, kilowatt hours, battery levels, numbers, specs, graphs, data, pie charts and so on.  I don’t have the remotest interest in any of that.  Here’s what I care about, and ten reasons why I’ll never need to test-drive another vehicle ever again:

  1. THE. TESLA. GOES. FAST.
  2. REALLY, REALLY FAST.
  3. It handles like a dream and is incredibly comfortable.
  4. It’s an electric vehicle, and, correspondingly, has no tailpipe farting out pollution to melt the polar caps or aggravate your child’s respiratory condition.
  5. You can drive it more than 250 miles before it needs charging.
  6. It’s completely, lusciously gorgeous inside and out.
  7. It’s totally stealthy.
  8. Everything is controlled by a super-cool, 17″ LCD touchscreen – no messy buttons, levers or dials cluttering up the dash.
  9. It has a panoramic roof, the front half of which opens.
  10. Tesla Motors is an American car company that renders every other American car company completely, utterly obsolete.

You can also special-order one with a high-end espresso machine that pops out of the glove compartment.

OK, not really.  But that would be pretty awesome.

2013 in pictures

January

Rock and waves
Rock
Waves at sunset
Spindrift
Yaquina Head
Yaquina Head

February

Snail
Snail
Sunset splash
Splash
Cairn
Cairn

March

Waves
Easter
Stump
Stump
Cape Perpetua
Cape Perpetua

April

Spouting Horn
Spouting Horn
Green
Green
Sun reflecting on waves
Shine

May

Parents reading paper
Surprise
Yoga tree pose in creek
Tree
Aerial photo
Almost home

June

Puppy meets ocean
Wet
Puppy yawning
Yawn
Snakebite drink
Snakebite

July

Coastline with fog
Fog
Sunset
Sunset
Willamette River Ferry
Wheatland Ferry

August

Grapes
Wine wannabes
Marion Lake
Marion Lake
Dog and pond
Camp

September

Puppy on beach
Puppy
Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock
Couple on beach
Us

October

Willamette Valley from Mary's Peak
Willamette Valley
Dog watching birds
Anticipation
Sunlight sparkling on ocean
Sparkles

November

Fool's Gold
Fool’s Gold
Airlie friends
Airlie friends
2 fools
2 fools

December

Christmas tree
Sacrificial tree

The healing power of the ocean (and beer)

On Sunday, my husband, Happy Dog and I went to the beach.  I am thrilled to report that Happy Dog enjoyed a glorious Oregon coast day without getting carsick.

DSCN2566

Not only are we are fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful, fertile river valleys in the U.S., whose farmers produce four of my favorite things (wine, lavender, blueberries and mint), we’re only 1-2 hours from the coast, depending on where we go.  Sunday we chose our current favorite:  Pacific City, home to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area and Bob Straub State Park (named for a former Oregon governor), the Pacific Dory Fleet and, most important, Pelican Pub & Brewery.

pelican pub & rock

There are undoubtedly lots of other places in the world where one can drink beer on the beach with their dog, but there’s no way you can beat the view from the Pelican.

Plus there are always plenty of other interesting things to watch:  surfers, migrating whales, stand-up paddlers, dories coming and going, dune-boarders, kites flying, skimboarders, hang-gliders and beach dogs (as illustrated above), to name a few.

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Simply put, it’s where I go when I visualize my Happy Place.

DSCN2439

My husband and I only learned to appreciate beer quite recently.  We were in Newport on vacation a few years ago before we moved to Oregon.  The November weather wasn’t particularly conducive to a warm, enjoyable stroll on the beach, but luckily, Newport is home to Rogue Ales Brewery.  We looked at each other and said, “Let’s go taste some beer!”

Rogue Ales

And thus we evolved into a new phase of our life together.

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Part of our beervolution has included volunteering for the past two years at the annual Oregon Garden Brewfest.  The Brewfest is one of the garden’s biggest fundraisers–if not the biggest.  We pour beer for folks to taste.  This year I poured for Flat Tail Brewing in Corvallis, and husband poured for Fish Brewing Company, from Olympia, Washington.

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I learned a lot about hoppy beer that day, and I’m starting to be able to taste the differences between beers.  I feel very sophisticated.  I’ll never be the beer snob my brother is, but still.

Boy, I really went off on a beer tangent there.  I really didn’t mean for this post to be about the healing power of beer so much as the healing power of the ocean.  So, back to Pacific City.

We started with a walk at Bob Straub State Park.  We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of people–it being Labor Day weekend and all.

DSCN2560

Not only was it a holiday weekend, it was also 1) sunny and 2) above 70°.  But the year-round lack of crowds is one of the most beautiful things about the Oregon coast.

We also enjoyed the offerings of Bubble-Blowing Woman:

DSCN2569

Some people just know how to have fun, don’t they?

Spongebob

We then headed north to the Pelican–at which there’s a pretty generous public parking area–and discovered where the hordes of beach-goers were.  Not only was the parking lot full to overflowing, the main road and side streets were choked as well.  The beach itself was a parking lot with several thru lanes.  There were people and cars everywhere.  And unfortunately I was the one driving.  We did, however, finally find a spot on a narrow side street just a couple blocks from the brewery.  It took about fifteen minutes, but in the big scheme of things–like, say, compared to New York City or Washington, DC–I guess I can’t complain too much.

We thought we’d maybe get something to eat, in addition to the beer, but there was a 90-minute wait for a patio table.  And, as neither of us had thought to bring our phone along, we had no way of being notified when a table became available.  So we settled for sitting on the edge of the patio and enjoying our beer and the ambiance.

All this is leading up to the pinnacle experience in my day, which was so simple as to be almost ludicrous.  After finishing our beer (and boy, did we make it last), we went for another walk–this time among the hordes.  But believe it or not, when we got down to the water’s edge and started walking south, it really wasn’t as crowded as it looked from the patio.

At this point, there’s something you need to understand about me:  there is nothing–and I do mean N.O.T.H.I.N.G.–that makes me happier than walking on the beach, except walking barefoot on the beach, which is something I don’t do very often because of the plantar fasciitis I mentioned a couple weeks ago.

beach feet

And, as you can see, depending on where we’re at, there are other reasons I don’t walk barefoot on the beach.

On Sunday, however, all the stars aligned, and I took off my Chacos  and walked.*   And suddenly, magically, everything was OK.  Unemployment, pending bills, dwindling hormone levels, the bald patches on puppy’s face that I would learn on Wednesday is demodectic mange, the traffic and lack of parking–it was all completely irrelevant in that one magic moment.  I realized I was Present.  I was There.  I was in the Vortex.  I felt completely blissful–like that time I was on painkillers when I had an ovarian cyst and we had to cut our vacation short so I could get home and have surgery.  I knew everything would be all right.

vortex

There’s that Vortex again.

Sunday was one of those incredible days that, for whatever reason, I only get to have occasionally.  Why is that?  Why shouldn’t I have these blissful, magical days a lot more frequently?  Do I somehow think I’m not deserving?  That days like this should be parceled out as infrequent rewards or dangled in front of me like a carrot on a string?  I don’t buy that.  I can’t buy that.  I truly believe I could have as many of these days as I choose to have, but for some reason don’t.

That’s what I need to figure out.  That’s what I need to work on.

(*If you have plantar fasciitis and have never tried Chacos, treat your feet to a pair.)

Photos:
Pelican Pub & Brewery courtesy yourlittlebeachtown.com
Spongebob Squarepants courtesy Nickelodeon & kidtoons.tripod.com
Vortex courtesy crestock.com