Archive | October, 2010

No Babies Allowed

31 Oct

We had wanted to find a place to watch a football game.  It hasn’t been too bad not having cable, but after awhile it just doesn’t seem like fall without a little college football. Ryan had heard about a place in Nye Beach from a coworker so Thursday night we decided to try it out. If we liked it we hoped to be back the following Thursday for the Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech match up. We walked into the restaurant and the five people that were scattered around all turned and stared at us. After what seemed like an hour, but was more like a minute, a lady approached us. She made a big fuss over Abigail.  She was worried about Abigail’s feet being cold.  (Abigail’s new favorite past time is pulling off her socks and eating them.)  As the lady put my baby’s sock back on, she told us that she didn’t think minors were allowed. Now, before you go all child protective services on us for having our baby in a bar. Let me explain. First, it was a restaurant. Second, it was 5:30. Hardly a “party” atmosphere as a couple sat lumplike in front of a big screen TV, and another couple played a game of pool. It was not smoky, and the people were like 100 years old. After some more awkward staring the lady yelled back to someone double checking about the rule. “No babies are allowed. We don’t let them run around here anymore.” Um, alright. Because clearly my six month old baby will be running around your establishment. I doubt the senior citizens would have even heard her had she chosen to scream at the top of her lungs with the television blasting at that absurd level. So, of course I got angry and annoyed and rushed out of the restaurant with my heart beating wildly. We got back in the car and Ryan asked where I wanted to go next. “NOWHERE.” I fumed. Mature, I know. At that point I was so upset that really the only place I wanted to go was back to Lynchburg to eat with our friends in one of our favorite hangouts that wouldn’t mind Abigail being around.  But that would have been a really late dinner so we ended up at a steakhouse where the television was on Fox News of all things.  I quickly checked to make sure I wasn’t wearing ruby slippers and we were in fact still in Oregon, not Virginia, thinking “very funny, God.”  I ate my burger contemplating how much better it would be if were at The Cav, while holding back the tears that were trying to push through. I watched Abigail chewing on her sock, being so perfect in her little seat, and my heart just broke. For her, for us, and even for Hank, too. I missed our friends. Terribly. And while things hadn’t been completely awful, at that moment I felt I was falling into a hole of loneliness.

Things have quieted down. The rush of the move is over and we are left with the routine of normal life. And even though I don’t regret our decision to move for one second it is hard sometimes to go about without knowing when that new friend’s face will peek into your lonely hole with a hand that pulls you out.

Stuck

25 Oct

To know Hank is to love him.  Well, unless you don’t particularly have a place in your heart for large dogs.  If that is the case, I can’t help you.  I, on the other hand, feel like my dog is pretty much perfection in the canine form.  Hank is truly one of a kind.  He is guarenteed to make you feel like the most special human that has ever exsisted.   Yes, Hank is just the cuddliest and most precious boy around.However, as sweet as he is, I am the first to admit that, well, Hank wouldn’t exactly qualify for the gifted program at obedience school.  What he has in the love and affection department more than compensates for the shortfall he sometimes has in wits.  My friends, Hank, is a slow learner.  That might be why he came to find himself in the unfortunate circumstance that arose tonight.

Ryan and I are renting a “two bedroom” house.  I don’t really know how the glorified attic complete with an extremely scary and not to code staircase became known as a bedroom, but we’re making it work.  Besides, sleeping on a mattress on the floor because the box springs won’t fit up the stairs isn’t so terrible.  It’s so college!  Yeah!  Needless to say the stairs are not so much stairs, but a glorified ladder.  I want to make it clear that when walking down these stairs I grip the handrail for dear life and go down sideways because only about a third of my foot  fits on each one.  I really take my life into my own hands each morning! But I digress, we were talking of Hank.  Hank is not usually allowed upstairs, but Ryan and I being the softies that we are, do sometimes make exceptions to this rule and he has come up a few times.  It is always kind of pathetic watching our 160 pound dog go down the stairs as it isn’t the most graceful thing in the world, but I’ll admit it cracks us up a good bit when it happens.  After catching up on the last three episodes of Modern Family, I turned off the computer and headed up to the attic, I mean, Master Suite, to turn in for the night.  Much to my surprise, Hank followed me up.  Ryan decided he should take Hank out to go to the bathroom once more.  So down he went calling after Hank to come.  Hank took one step, retreated and began to whine.  After a few minutes of Ryan trying to tell Hank to come down I got up. This was getting ridiculous.  He always kind of struggled to get down, but he had never flat out refused.   In an exasperated tone I tried telling Hank to go downstairs, but again he didn’t budge.  Now, I am used to Hank not really listening to Ryan, but he usually listens to me.  Each time we called him Hank acted like he wanted to come down, but stopped after only a step. About 10 minutes later, Ryan decided that the fur on the bottom of his paws needed to be trimmed.  He gave Hank a towel to chew on and completed all four paws in record time.  Now we were ready to roll!  But instead of coming down the stairs with his new slip-resistant paws, he began to bound around the attic with the towel in his mouth, barking like a madman.  Um, I don’t think so.  Midnight was fast approaching and this dog had to pee.  It was time to break out the big guns.  And by big guns I mean:  The Peanut Butter Bone.  Feeling pretty smug about my own brillance, I came to the bottom of the stairs holding the coveted treat.  Hank’s nostrils were instantly at attention, but instead of flying down the stairs like I anticipated, he began his most whiny vocal riff of the night.  I traveled up the stairs with the bone in an attempt to make it more appealing.  I even grabbed his collar to try to lead him down the stairs.  Fail.  There was nothing we could do.  Unless…”Want me to grab the front and you grab the back?”  I bent down to take Hank’s large rear in my arms.  We lifted Hank up and positioned him above the staircase.  I knew how incredibly stupid and dangerous it was to try and carry our dog down this sorry excuse for a staircase, but we couldn’t leave him up there!  How would we explain that to the next tenant?  Ryan got about three steps down when I lost my grip on the enormous rump, but he had gotten up too much momentum to stop.  Ryan carried that dog face first with Hank’s big bottom thumping down each tiny stair.  Hank raced to the prized Peanut Butter Bone unfazed and Ryan said, “I wish we could know that he would never do that again.”  But the reality was, he would.

Afterward:

The baby gate has now been put up at the bottom of the stairs.  The attic is no place to be in a long term situation, no matter how big a dog bed he would have with that mattress that’s on the floor.

Ready or Not

22 Oct

It was raining in Newport as we came out of Szabo’s. We had decided to try and catch a bit of the Oregon vs. UCLA football game. But Abigail wasn’t really in the mood to watch football, so we ate in a hurry and rushed out despite our waitress’s best effort to entertain her with a kiddie cup filled with ice. As the wind picked up I pulled my raincoat around tighter and lifted my hood. I was glad Ryan was in charge of the car seat as I hopped in the driver’s seat. “So some guys at work mentioned we might want to just head straight to the marine supply store to get our winter gear,” Ryan said. “What?” “You know, to get ready for the winter weather. It will be raining most every day and the 60 to 80 mph winds will keep things pretty wet.” It was a good thing he brought this up after dinner or I might have choked on my halibut. “What!?” My first reaction was laughter because, like many other people, I have the unfortunate habit of laughing inappropriately. “You didn’t tell me about this.” “I did, Sarah, what do you think all of these people have been trying to tell us.” Now that he mentioned it, I had been involved in several conversations where the winter weather had been brought up. When people talked of gray skies and winter storms, I figured that it couldn’t be that bad. It didn’t really even get cold here and it was a rarity to get any snow. I had survived Blacksburg winters, where the icy wind whips through the drillfield and on occasion picks up students and carries them to class. Kidding. Kind of. I thought these Newport residents were just being a tad bit whiny. I met Ryan’s coworkers at lunch the next day and the subject of the weather appeared again. “They just upped the wind gusts for the weekend forecast to 65 mph this weekend.” “Oh, just a breeze then.” “I had a man come to the mill from Atlanta once and I asked him what he thought of the storm. He replied, You call this a storm, but in Atlanta we call this a hurricane.” This was followed by hearty, knowing laughter. Hilarious. I came home from lunch, still a little unsure of what exactly a winter in Newport was going to be like. A Google search brought up words like squall and gale. It sounded terrific! Oh, and did I mention the Tsunami evacuation signs everywhere? Apparently that isn’t a joke either. Who knew.

Oregon: The Final Frontier?

21 Oct

A wise man once said, “I’ve lived in many places, and you know what? They all have Walmart.” It is true that life is still life anywhere you go. The people change, the scenery is different, and the hunt for the perfect pizza is still illusive. And while Ryan and I still grocery shop, change diapers, and walk the dog it has been fun getting to know a new state and city. Yes, Oregon (and Newport specifically) are quite different from the places I lived in Virginia. For one there is no sales tax here. I am still in awe that I can get a frosty from Wendy’s for 99 cents! Amazing! Well, we don’t have a Wendy’s here in town, but I did happen to have this very exciting experience when we stopped to fill up our gas tank outside of Portland. “Guess how much this frosty was, Ryan?!” “Um, 99 cents.” “No, I know, but guess how much the grand total was…” “99 cents, Sarah.” Smartypants. He always spoils the fun. But enough of frostys, where was I? Oh yes, Oregon and Virginia. There are no leaves changing where we are because our forests now consist mainly of Douglas Firs and Redwoods. Yep, it smells like Christmas trees when you drive through. Very cool. I could go on about how the state is predominately Democrats versus the Republican nature of Virginia, but discussing politics with friends never ends well. But you want to know one of the most glaring differences? You can’t pump your own gas here. Now you might be thinking, “That is awesome! I hate pumping gas.” Or maybe you are thinking that is the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard. But either way you can’t do it. It is against the law. Unless you drive a motorcycle. I mean, you can’t even fill up one of those red gasoline containers. It is forbidden! When doing some further reading on this I was amazed that although it is partially to create jobs, it is a law mainly because it is “too dangerous” for the average citizen. I hope you are laughing because that is hilarious! Those other 48 states (New Jersey is also aware of the dangers of fueling up) are really endangering Americans.

But seriously, a place doesn’t quite feel like home until you know the insider information. The good places to eat. Where to find the least crowded beach accesses. The fun things people do on the weekends. Being spontaneous with a 6 month old is hard, but our first weekend here we put on our hiking shoes, zipped up our fleeces, and went out in search of a place to hike. It isn’t hard to find a hiking trail around here. They are everywhere. So, we just pulled into the first place we saw. It was near the mountains so the view from the top of the visitor’s center was terrific. It looked like a good place to start. We checked out the trail map and it seemed there was a quick loop. Perfect. Ryan ran down ahead to see if the trail was suitable for our jogging stroller. I waited at the top with Abigail and Hank. Ryan came back up a few minutes later thinking it was a pretty easy hike so we went to the top of the trail. That is when I saw it. The loud yellow sign that said, “Bear sighting: July 18, 2010. If you encounter a bear: STOP, STAY CALM, APPEAR LARGE, FIGHT BACK, MAKE NOISE, KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE, AVOID HIKING ALONE.” Um, okay. No big deal we have bears in Virginia and bears in Oregon are probably a lot nicer being that they are much more liberal and open minded. Well, that was all fine and dandy until right beside it was another loud, yellow sign. “Cougar sighting: September 21, 2010. If you encounter a cougar: STOP, STAY CALM, APPEAR LARGE, FIGHT BACK, MAKE NOISE, KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE, AVOID HIKING ALONE.” I turned to Ryan who was already telling me that it was fine, but all I could think of was Stay Calm? Appear large?! Fight back?!? Who were these park rangers with their tips? I mean, the making noise I could handle but the rest I wasn’t so sure about. At this point I was taking deep breaths and muttering something to the effect of “I hate hiking” when Ryan said, “Are you serious? You don’t want to go? That is ridiculous.” And it was. I was being completely irrational. I’m pretty sure all the hiking I did in Virginia was in a habitat containing a number of ferocious beasts, but at least in the south they have the courtesy not to tell you of such unpleasantries! I was about to take my ferocious beast back to the car when Ryan headed down the path with the stroller. The KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE statement sent a lightning bolt through the mama in me and Hank and I ran to catch up with Ryan and Abigail. I did everything I could to convince Ryan that he was putting his baby in grave danger. “Don’t you know the cougar will take Abigail first? She is so small and helpless!” “There is no cougar, Sarah, and plus we have Hank.” “Hank will attract the bear, who will think our dog is a bear, and will start a huge bear fight. I don’t want Hank to die!” “Me either, Sarah, but there isn’t a bear. Look how close we are to the visitor’s center.” It was true that as I looked up I could see the senior citizens admiring the view from the deck. But as Ryan rounded the corner into the deep and foreboding woods I couldn’t take it and I did what every good mom would do. I took Hank and ran back to the car as fast as I could. This was not my proudest moment, but upon further review of my actions, I realized that it was okay. Abigail would be fine. Everyone knows that in the movies the guy with glasses is always the first to go. So we waited for three painful minutes until we saw Ryan and Abigail coming up the path. And Ryan in his good hearted way, laughed, and asked me if I was really scared. “Let’s just go the beach. Where the last thing sighted was a whale or a seal or something.” We did and even spotted a sea otter playing in the waves and found a fossil. And as we drove back to our little house I thought about how glad I was that I didn’t have to get out and pump my own gas. Oregonians are right. It is wild and dangerous here!

A Path Traveled

13 Oct

If I could transport all of my Lynchburg people to Newport, life would be perfect. But I can’t. And as much as I would love to enjoy the coastal lifestyle and a glass (or bottle) of Oregon wine with the people I left behind, let’s face it, Newport just doesn’t have the booming job market that it would take to get them here. All that seems to remain now is our little family. We have trekked so far and I hope that if we walk in circles long enough we will feel content enough to settle down. But until the settling occurs I know we still have a long way to go.

There are plenty of things I could busy myself with to avoid an inevitable truth. As wonderful as we are together, we cannot exsist in a vaccuum. We need to meet people. We may not need them now, but eventually we will. This I had been dreading. Although I find myself to be a realtively social person, the thought of how much effort it was going to take to start over and put myself out there was exhausting and frightening. When I saw the ad for the “Free Flight 5K/10K” I knew what had to be done. I had to peel myself off of the couch, lace up the old sneakers, and hit the pavement. I was ready. I woke up Saturday morning to pouring rain. I strapped on my new, rugged Oregon persona and told Ryan I was doing the race. “In the rain?” he asked. “Yep, rain is a part of our lifestyle now. Plus, we might see someone under the age of 70!” I threw on a hat, we loaded the minivan, and were off. Pulling up to the Marine Science Center I had first day of school jitters. I hoped that the race wasn’t full and I could still sign up. The time was 8:05 and race day registration had just begun. Or so I thought. Where was everyone? “Are you sure this is where the race is?” I checked on my phone to be sure. MARINE SCIENCE CENTER – 10/10/10. WHOOPS! That would mean the race was tomorrow. Who knew a race would be on a Sunday? Those West Coast Heathens! Sheesh!

Take 2. I woke up SUNDAY morning and had a typical feeling of dejavu as I put back on my running gear and headed out into the rain once again for the big event. We were running a little late this time and I felt even more nervous about going last minute to sign up. That’s when I realized that were weren’t in Kansas anymore, er, rather Lynchburg. This was the most laid back race I’d ever been a part of. I walked in, signed up, got my long sleeve t-shirt (yes!), and had 45 minutes to kill. Ryan kept pestering me to “warm up” which was hilarious. When did he become my running coach? So I took a lap and came back right as they were gathering people up at the starting line. All 30 of us. It was right around the part where the man in charge was explaining the course “run out to the south jetty along the bay, circle back, then 5Kers will finish after a loop on the estuarary trail” that I realized I had no idea what he was talking about. He told us that if we didn’t know where we were going to just make sure we weren’t in front of or behind the pack. Thanks for the tip. He laughed as he said, “Ready, Set…Go!” And we were off! We reached the path that led us to the south jetty around mile 1. We ran along the bay. The only thing that separated us from the water was a narrow sandy strip lined with rocks. The cold rain pounded on my face and turned my legs red, but I kept going as fast as I could. I circled back feeling great. I hit the estuarary path and before I knew it the race director was shouting 28:43 as I crossed the finish. My best time to date! I could go on and tell you how excited I was about the young couple that came up to us after the race, so friendly and nice, telling me about where moms go for playgroups around town. And it was an answered prayer – finally a place to start meeting more people. But the answered prayer that was in my heart went much deeper than that. I was, for the first time, at peace in Newport. Life is life everywhere. There are many things here that are different from what I am used to, and making new friends takes time. But in the meantime I get to be in this incredibly beautiful place, while I live a part of my life that I never knew was waiting for me.

Boxes Ahoy!

10 Oct

When the moving truck pulled up next to our rental house I had this moment of complete panic. The trailer seemed to tower over us like a menacing, black cloud. I kind of wish a single bolt of lightning, complete with thunder, would have shot down in the distance, but that probably would have been a little dramatic. Granted, we didn’t take up an entire 18 wheeler but let’s just say we filled up a good half. Where did all of that stuff come from? What was even in there? I was just in the middle of a daydream about a life where I was moving, not into a 1000 sq. ft. home, but an extremely large house complete with echos and possibly a moat, when the man who was in charge of our move remarked (and I quote), “Mrs., You weren’t kidding about it being a smaller house. I think this is pretty close to the worst, I mean, most difficult job I’ve done.” Awesome. Did I mention he had been doing this since 1985?

Usually when movers come to unload the truck the owner of the house stands on the driveway or in the foyer and says, “That goes in the living room. That is bedroom 3. Put that box in the kitchen.” That is a good plan – for someone who actually has enough space to put all of the boxes inside and still move in the furniture. That wasn’t going to work for us. The driver headed back to his truck to make a quick phone call to his boss. The extra time it was going to take to move us had to be approved. What would have happened if the time wasn’t approved? Would they take the remaing junk and drive off into the sunset? One could only hope. But sadly, the extra time was approved and we were proceeding full steam ahead. I gave the movers the grand tour of the place and it became even clearer that in this situation nothing could be moved in until we knew that the furniture was going to fit. Our life, in boxes of assorted sizes, started coming off of the truck. Then it kept coming. And coming. Once we got a good number of boxes off the truck I decided what could be buried in the depths of the garage. Never to be seen again. So there I was, alone, standing in the driveway with Abigail in one arm and a pen in the other. I had been recruited as the official “checker” of boxes since they were shorthanded. Apparently Abigail seemed to give me the extra hands needed to do the job. Yep, I stood there and checked off all 405 boxes. Abigail alternated between spending time in her stroller, her pack-n-play, and my arms, all located conveniently in the front yard. I could have easily been in tears, but I wasn’t. I was sick of crying about stuff anyway. Instead of being the emotional wreck that I had shown myself to be, I became this drill sergeant of a woman – walking through piles of boxes and giving orders of where things needed to go. I was feeling super proud of myself for being so assertive. Darn it, we were going to make this all fit! It was right around lunch time when our next door neighbors, bless their retired souls, came over to tell me that they hoped I didn’t have anything in the garage that would be damaged if it got damp. Oh no, I didn’t, just tons of clothing, throw pillows, pictures, about a million school files, and our extra furniture. They went on to explain how the moisture comes up from the ground because of all the rain we get in the winter. They wouldn’t say it flooded, just stayed really wet. Of course it did. It rains about 175 days a year. That’s when I sent a very panicky text to Ryan at work. I think it said something to the effect of “GET HOME NOW.” He did, being the extremely supportive, level headed guy that he is and took both the pen and the baby out of my hands. Around 6:30 the movers finished and left us buried in boxes. Stacks and stacks of boxes that made it impossible to relax or even walk in the kitchen. So I took a knife and opened the first box. Unwrapping everything that had seemed so important to our life before “the move” did one of two things. One, made this house seem more like home or two, made me wonder why in the world we had brought it 3,000 miles. My favorite example of this was probably the 3 boxes of confectioner’s sugar we found. Thank goodness we have that!

The driver ended up coming back the next day because he felt so sorry for me. I unpacked and unwrapped at lightning speed, as he took the empty boxes and paper to his truck. In the end it took me about 3 solid days of unpacking, but we’re getting there. To be honest, I don’t know how it all fit and I don’t know how I managed with a 6 month old. But I did. And as the driver said (and I quote), “That is the best baby I’ve seen.” I had to agree. But I still don’t know where the rest of the vaccuum cleaner is.

Trouble on the High Seas

5 Oct

I’m not going to lie. The first day on my own in Newport was hard. When I moved to Lynchburg I went from getting married to going on our honeymoon to starting my new teaching job. It seemed life would never slow down, and really, it didn’t. So it was hard not to think of everything we had left behind. This crazy journey we had been preparing for over the last few months had come to a screeching halt and reality was setting in. A reality that included a twin air mattress to sleep on because Ryan had confused the terms “twin” and “double.” By the time the mattress was unrolled and the mistake was realized, the store was closed and what could we do. I couldn’t help but laugh as Ryan tried to figure out why the picture on the box showed a much bigger mattress than the one laying on the floor in front of him. It was around 3:00 in the morning when we realized that the one furnace in the house was not working. A very cold Abigail made for even tighter conditions on our luxurious air mattress. Morning came, Ryan went off to work, and I was left with nothing it seemed except for a very cold house, a very cranky baby, and a very needy Newfie. It was camping at best with the movers not expected to arrive until Wednesday. I was optimistic, I would spend most of the morning running errands and when Abigail went down for her long nap I would be able to clean most, if not all, of this little house. The errands which would have take several hours in Lynchburg, took an hour, if that. I stopped by the rental company to see about the furnace. “Did you know the furnace is not working at the house on 11th?” “Did you have the gas turned on?” Nope. Whoops. I got back into my car and felt the tears that were surely on their way. How could I have been so stupid, but more than that I was embarrassed. I drove the mile back to our house and realized that it was 10:30. Now what? I tried to put Abigail in her pack-n-play for some “play” so I could put some things away or at least get started on cleaning. I couldn’t even lay her down before she grabbed my neck and started screaming. A pattern that continued well through her long nap time. I alternated between sitting on the fireplace and walking around the house trying to comfort her. As I walked, I wondered how everything on that moving truck was going to fit into this tiny space. It wouldn’t and I already knew that. But suddenly it felt like all of those boxes were pressing down on me. A big gust of wind came and knocked over the 6 foot piece of fence on the side of the house. Hank was bounding around desperately needing exercise, or at least a potty break, and Abigail was still crying and holding on to me for dear life. I was lonely and sad and I really needed a friend at that moment to call and say, “I am having the worst day ever.” But I couldn’t pick up the phone without choking up. I had been feeling so positive as we drove across the country and I hated that I was already wishing I was back in Lynchburg. I took a walk around the neighborhood and tried to memorize the order of the streets. We walked until Hank sat his big booty down on the sidewalk and refused to move. And I laughed.  As the laughter poured out of me I realized that as foreign as it seemed to be in this new community, some things would never change. In a couple days we would feel more settled. We would be able to make a meal in our kitchen. Abigail would have her favorite rocking chair back. The gas would be turned on. And we wouldn’t have to sleep on that twin mattress.