dogs, Hiking, love

The Best Hike

It’s been some time since I’ve felt like writing and perhaps it’s because some of the excitement has worn off, or I’ve just been too busy exploring or maybe it’s that I’ve feared I’d reveal something that I wasn’t quite ready to reveal.

It had also been some time since I’d been hiking as the rainy season came and it’s hard to keep a rental car clean with a wet dog and having fallen on my last hike I feared slipping.

But a few weeks ago I returned to the trail with my favorite guy and though it was a bit messy and the hike was hard at times I was no longer afraid. And I look forward to many more.

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Neighbors

(I wrote this a couple months ago and for some reason didn’t post it…)

When I bought my house I was so excited to have neighbors. People invested in their neighborhood who saw me as invested too, not just a temporary tenant. I couldn’t wait for the block parties! Unfortunately for me I didn’t really have those kind of immediate neighbors and with my house being on a busy street we didn’t have any block parties. I did chat with my neighbors though, and they looked out for me. One stopping over when the porch door was open for days and she hadn’t seen anyone and the others giving home and garden tips. (More so since I’ve moved, I’ve heard.)

When I was staying with my friend the first few months here I met a lot of neighbors in her building. Though most of them were quite a bit older it was nice to chat with them here and there. One, as I posted previously, collected bags for me to collect dog things. Another just loved to see Murphy after having lost her dog the previous year. She and another neighbor expressed sadness when I moved.

Upon securing a place where I could finally assemble my bed I gave my dad the address to send me a piece of my bed frame I had somehow managed to forget. I waited and waited. And waited. It never came. And then one day it showed up back at my dad’s office. I was so confused how it could happen! Then something else went missing. Being at work when I found out about it, I opened up Google maps and looked at the street view of my house. I had given my dad, and who knows how many businesses, the wrong address! Everything had been going to my neighbor. I immediately went to her place but found a note indicating she didn’t open the door for those she didn’t know. So I wrote a note asking if she could collect any future deliveries and also apologzing for our barking dogs. Not too long after that, a note appeared at my house in reply. She would gladly take my packages for me and she didn’t mind the dogs at all, in fact, she enjoyed them. It’s four months later and I have yet to actually run into her but I appreciate having had that contact and at the very least, knowing her name.

The neighbor on the other side I met one day while I was moving in. Carol was sitting in her back yard and was eager to chat. She told me all about how long she’d been in the house (her mother had owned it) and her three cats. I only ran into her a few more times but she was always friendly and she’d say hello to the dogs when she came and went. Over the weekend I noticed that her bathroom light had been on for at least 2 days. My roommate had mentioned the medics had been there last week so with that we were a little concerned. I went to her door but no one answered. I called the police department who advised me to call 911. I hesitated, as it felt odd to call an emergency line for what might just be misunderstanding. I called the next morning. (and gave them the wrong address but they managed to figure it out. i’m good at that.) My roommate was home when they came and said he’d let me know what happened. Shortly after they arrived, they confirmed that she was dead. I felt pretty sick. I didn’t know a lot about her but I never saw anyone there and I felt awful that she died alone. And awful that I waited. When I returned home last night and saw the Medical Examiner’s truck I broke into tears, at the same time wondering why I was so sad about someone I hardly knew. I ran into the ME when I let the dogs out and he let me know they got a hold of her brother and I was relieved somewhat to know that someone would be taking care of her and her things. Animal control took 2 cats. When I asked the ME about the third he said he had been there all day and hadn’t seen another but that there was plenty of food out should one come out of hiding.

This morning I woke to find an envelope addressed to me. Inside was a nice note from the woman who so kindly accepted my packages. She heard Carol had passed and wanted to make sure that her three (emphasis on the 3 multiple times) cats were taken care of. She also left her phone number. So I called her today to tell her what I knew about what happened and she told me a little more about Carol, and a little about herself too. And how she had often helped Carol around the house when she was ill. I assured her I’d try make sure someone came to to find the third cat and let her know when they did.

This isn’t at all the way I had hoped to grow closer to my neighbors but it’s a great example of why I was so excited to have a home in the first place. Though some prefer it, we’re not meant to be alone. There will be some time in all of our lives when we need a neighbor to watch our pets, help around the yard or house or notice when something isn’t right. If you don’t know those who live around you, why don’t you go say hello?

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Transit, travel

Alaska

This week last year I was in Alaska for the first time. I traveled by plane to Fairbanks, by train to Anchorage, then Whittier, by ferry to Cordova, plane again to Anchorage and then of course by plane back to Minnesota. Loving both trains and boats, it was the perfect trip for me.

In Fairbanks I Couchsurfed for the first time and couldn’t have found more gracious hosts. Though I arrived pretty late in the evening the lady of the house stayed up and chatted with me for a good two hours. We quickly became friends and I continue to look forward to her Facebook posts about all they see and do up there. If you’re not familiar with Couchsurfing, it’s pretty much just crashing at a stranger’s place. Of course you read all about them and weed out the creepies first. Being that I love meeting new people, I highly recommend it but realize it’s not for everyone.

Early the next morning I was up to catch the train to Anchorage. It took me far too long to discover that I could hang out in the open air vestibule as much as I wanted, but upon that discovery that’s pretty much what I did the rest of the day! I now understand what a thrill it must be to hop a train. So far removed from roads, seeing landscapes few others will see.

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Reflections on the train.

It was the clearest, bluest sky I have ever seen and Denali was out in full the entire day. Absolutely breathtaking. It was tough to find an open vestibule whenever it returned to view but I managed to get a few good shots.

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The ride to Anchorage was a little over 12 hours but it never once felt too long. If anything, it wasn’t long enough. Should you ever visit (and you should!! now! and take me with!), make sure to add the Alaska Railroad to your itinerary.

I stayed one night in Anchorage at a hostel, also my first time doing that. I was looking forward to meeting people there but never really got that part of the experience as I wasn’t there very long. The only thing remarkable about my stay was that my phone died. Luckily I had the Kindle Fire I purchased for the trip so that I was able to connect when I needed to.

The next morning I boarded another train for Whittier, where I needed to catch my ferry to Cordova the next day. Another beautiful ride. I had read a little about the town and it sounded interesting enough to stay the night in but as I was chatting with one of the employees on the train he mentioned a catchphrase of those not living in town is “There’s nothing shittier than Whittier.” With that, and his belief that I could possibly catch the ferry leaving in 5 minutes, I ran towards the ferry terminal. Quite the sight I’m sure with a 30lb pack on my back. No real surprise, I didn’t make it. I briefly sulked but soon picked myself up and explored the little town. Not much to explore but large enough that it took a considerable amount of time to find a shoe I lost while wandering. (from my pack, not my foot.)

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Marina in Whittier

I found lodging with a bar and spent a large portion of the rest of my day and night there, chatting with local fishermen. So many stories! I don’t think you’ll find a group of guys with better tales to tell. I wrote down many of the details somewhere, but as I was recalling my dead phone it reminded me that the Kindle I brought with me has since died and may have taken my notes with it.

The next day I hopped on the ferry to Cordova, another amazing ride. To be on the water surrounded by mountains is my dream come true. I lived it for 3 hours or so that day.

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Cordova is a pretty neat town, only accessible by boat or plane. I spent all 6 nights of my stay there in a boat, did some hiking, danced at Salmon Jam, experienced gillnetting (pulled the salmon from the net with my bare hands!) and was pretty much awestruck every day by the beauty around me.

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View from my “bed” one morning.

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Just a glacier. And one of my favorite pics of the trip.

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I was told this boat is kind of a big deal.

I hadn’t really planned my departure from Cordova but enjoyed it so much that I decided I’d fly back to Anchorage so I could spend as much time there as possible. Though I didn’t consider it so at the time being it caused me to miss my office summer party, the plane I was supposed to take out of there couldn’t land and I was gifted with an extra day in Alaska. And over 12 hours in the Anchorage airport. In case you should ever have to sleep there, it’s a little drafty. Be sure to pack a blanket! (recalling that part reminded me I did hand write my notes this trip. whew! now to find them. so happy my brain is still able to connect some of the dots.)

Though I had long wanted to leave Minnesota, it was Alaska that ultimately set the wheels in motion. I knew I couldn’t live away from the mountains any longer. Could I live in Alaska? Maybe some day. I still loved city life too much. The decision to move to Seattle was largely due to its proximity to Alaska (in addition to having mountains, lots of water and a huge city), thinking I could more easily travel there. I thought I’d get back there this year but have been pretty smitten by this wonderful new city I have to explore. Hopefully 2015 will afford me the time to enjoy both of them.

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moving

Moving Again

I started my search for a place a couple of months before I moved here. I found a couple of people who were also looking, some men who seemed to be looking for a girlfriend, one who proposed and another who offered me a place in Goa, India. Lucky for me I had a friend with a room that didn’t mind me and Murphy staying for a few months, and that’s where I’ve been for most of my time here so far.

In those five months I’ve grown to love so many things about my neighborhood. The Olympic Mountains are visible from the balcony every clear day. The beach is just over a 2 mile walk away. My first weekend out I found a favorite bar where the staff have become friends. The neighbors in the building mostly love Murphy but occasionally talk to me too (and leave me their leftover produce bags) and I’ve met great people while out walking nearby. Even the familiarity of the homeless guys at Safeway is somewhat of a comfort to me. But my living arrangement was meant to be temporary so after I settled into my job I started looking again.

I posted another ad on Craigslist, modified to be clear I wasn’t looking for love, and got quite a few responses. Many were too far for me to bus to work without leaving Murphy alone for far too long every day. And though they’d be roommate situations, I don’t want to have to rely on anyone else to take care of him. One man responded to my ad every time I reposted, saying he noticed I hadn’t found anything yet and was I sure I didn’t want to at least come look at the place though it was out of the area I wanted to be in. Another man responded a couple of times, and being that the room seemed like a great deal I finally called as he had requested in his email. The room was in the loft where he and his wife kept their computer desk but would arrange for times it would be best to use it. Also, they were former nude models and he continued to do some, but mostly now they were just nude around the house and would that offend my sensibilities at all? I was still going to check the place out after that but it bothered me a little that he didn’t just come out and say that during our email correspondence so I canceled.

Then there was one guy who seemed normal and actually responded once I got back to him so I agreed to meet up at a bar one weekend afternoon. In person he still seemed normal and I think we chatted for at least an hour, maybe even two, which is more than I can say for any dates I’ve had so why wouldn’t I just move in with this guy? He had a dog too and was going to be renting a house with a yard so it seemed like a perfect set up. It was still a few months out so we agreed to stay in touch and set up a time for the dogs to meet.

During the in between time I met a couple also having a dog and looking for a good dog friendly space. She worked at a dog day care and could potentially bring Murphy there now and then. Seemed like a great idea but ultimately it just wasn’t easy to find a place that allowed two dogs without any restrictions. When I did find what seemed like a perfect space, a block from a bus that would almost dump me on my office doorstep, no pet restrictions, remodeled everything, he was unable to reach her in time and the person who looked at it after me scooped it up. (I see their bikes on the balcony every time I go by. I hate them.) The couple had a lead on a studio in a good location for them so I encouraged them to go for it and as luck would have it, they got it. I don’t think I would have enjoyed living with a couple anyway, with all their holding hands and cuddling and kissing and doing fun things together. So dumb. 🙂

The time came when potential new roomie and dog could meet up and it also worked that I could see the house. So I grabbed a super quick bus over there after work one day. Unfortunately he was running late and unable to bring his dog, so I was going to have to meet up with this slacker again for the dogs to meet. (if you’re reading this Ryan, you know I’m joking. besides, you said I was a jerk when I couldn’t go to add-a-ball last week.) I liked the house though, it’s cute, has a fenced in yard, an eat in kitchen, a super cool old stove with TWO ovens, a bathroom with a window and a good sized basement for whatever one might need that for. And it’s in a great neighborhood, close to Lake Union, lots of bars and restaurants, also not far from Green Lake and other things I enjoy seeing/doing. He bought me a beer for his being late and we still got along so I agreed to meet him one more time for the dogs to get together.

We planned to meet at a dog park in the next week or so. Turned out not only was I going to meet his dog, but also his girlfriend. He assured me she wouldn’t beat me up so I went as planned. The dogs got along fine, the girls got along fine and being at a point where I couldn’t imagine a better living situation for Murphy right now and I also didn’t want to look anymore, I told him I’d move in. Since then he’s invited me out a few times and the one time I could go I met a couple of his friends that I’m pretty sure I’ll get along with too.

So yeah, I’m moving again.

And I’m really going to miss my current home and especially my friend/gracious host. But I’m excited for a new neighborhood, making new friends and most of all having a yard and a friend for Murphy.

 

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The Notebook

When I was in grade school, I was a notorious note passer. I still remember my 5th grade teacher intercepting a note in which I professed my love for a classmate (and my begging for him to return it without reading it). In junior high, I won a class award for my prolific note writing and started many a comic strip in note form. And I still have the notebooks from high school that me and my friends passed back and forth to save the trouble of ripping out pages and trying to fold what sometimes were multiple pages of teenage girl thoughts (those were also intercepted a time or two, creating fears of secret loves revealed). Even now I’ll write emails to my sister and friends all day long. So it’s been surprising how hard it is for me to keep up a blog. I am definitely not lacking in things to say. Many, many weird and interesting things have happened to me here. And my move has sparked hours of introspection and reflection.

Perhaps it’s that writing a blog (an unpopular one anyway) is absent the anticipation and eventual excitement of a reply. Or maybe I’m just lazy. Either way, I do have a few things I want to share with the universe so expect more from me shortly. 

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Highlights of a Rainy Sunday

1. Reserved a compact car for the weekend to visit friends and ended up with a Hyundai Tucson (not a compact at all!). I love it! It’s zippy and comfy and has all kinds of fun features. Though I am a parallel parking expert, I found the rearview cam very helpful while getting in a tight spot last night. 

2. Used it to drive 4 blocks to Fred Meyer today since it was raining and I was buying some heavy items. When I got in the car after shopping, this song was on Sirius 90’s Radio: 

 

3. When I returned the 4 blocks home I discovered I had forgotten the M&M’s for my Monster Cookies. I live right next door to Safeway! So I just ran over there. (Living that close to Safeway is actually not that great as whenever I want to eat something that is not already in my fridge/cupboard I just walk over there and find something more exciting.)

4. I am using my brand spankin’ new KitchenAid mixer for the first time to make the cookies. It is wonderful. And a joy to gaze at on a dreary day.

5. It’s only 11:33. So many more awesome things can happen today. 

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dogs, Murphy, Transit

Pickup Artist

After the guy next to me in the three seat bench departed the bus and it was clear no one else needed a seat, I slid to the open seat out of courtesy to the gal my hip was encroaching on. Not too long after, a man squeezed into the space. He complimented my shades and asked where I got them. “Target,” I said. “Are they Versace?” he asked. “No, they’re Target.”

I had hoped my short answers and attentiveness to my mobile phone would shoo him off but it was no use. He continued to ask me questions and explain he also liked whatever I just said I was into. (which just made me think of this song… oh how I miss these guys!) Though I didn’t tell him anything other than that I lived in the neighborhood, he shared his location and it happened to be just about a block north of me.  I debated whether to pretend it was my stop and have him find out later I walked nearly a mile to evade him, or just suffer through the conversation and kindly blow him off when it was time to depart.

During a brief moment he wasn’t looking my way, I texted Jen and begged her to call me asap. Thankfully she did and shortly after I got up to depart the bus (while still clearly on the phone) Mr. Smooth asked, “is your number a 206 number?” and told me he was hoping to call me sometime. I mumbled something about maybe running into him and hopped off the bus. As I did I overheard him start his game on the girl seated to the other side of him. I got home and having to walk Murph, I very quickly changed out of my dress, into pants and a completely different pair of sunglasses.

That wasn’t what this post was supposed to be about, however. I have another pick up tale to share.

Earlier this week I had taken Murphy out for a walk. On our way in he had stopped to sniff something that I soon learned was dog poo. There are at least two signs in front of the condo where I’m living that clearly state it’s a dog poo free zone. I’m quite certain this makes it a giant poo target rather than an always green zone. Anyway, I have picked up dog remnants other than Murphy’s in the past but today I didn’t want to be bothered with it. A few minutes later we were getting in the elevator when a neighbor and her dog rush in the entry to tell me that my dog just went and I didn’t pick it up. Having walked Murphy at least 4 times that day waiting for him to dump already, I knew I’d have noticed if such a thing occurred and I told her I’d been waiting on it all day. I realized she probably saw him sniffing the offender’s pile and assumed it was his so I told her he stopped to sniff some. Now I still look like a jerk for leaving it there. She went on to tell me she hated to sound like a busy body but that when it’s out there all the dogless people in the building assume it belongs to the dogs in the building and alerted to the location of a scooper in the garbage area. I explained once again that it wasn’t Murphy but that I’d go clean it up anyway. She said she already has but she just wanted me to know about it. I think I would have preferred her leaving the bag at my door with a note describing my alleged offense.

A day or two later I’m once again returning from a dog walk and the elevator stops on two. I’m on 4. Not too many people downstairs ever come up here so I was curious as to who it might be. A neighbor puts one foot and a huge bag full of produce bags in the elevator. “Could you use these? I used to give them to my son but his dog died. I figured you might be able to use them.” Of course I’d rather get for free what’s ridiculous to have to pay for (and nearly impossible to open!), so I took them and thanked her. She said she’d just leave them by my door from now on when she had a few to give.

It only took me a couple of minutes to tie the incidents together and now I’m left wondering whether the neighbors had been chatting about my other run-in with the poo police. Why hadn’t she given the bags to one of the other dog owners? I very visibly carry bags on Murphy’s leash!

Looks like for at least the next few weeks I’ll be collecting some from other locales, dropping it out front and picking it up again in hopes one of them will witness my good deeds.

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