Monday, July 31, 2006

Eugene: Week Six, or Whatever Happened to Week Five?

We were taking swimming lessons during Week Five, that is what. And the week just sort of slipped away. Towards the end of that week I got a phone call from a principal for another job interview. Then we heard that the weekend was going to be murderously hot, so we opted to drive out to my parents' place on the coast for the weekend. I spent much of our time there working on The Gnome House, a photo of which I will post when it is done.

This picture is for Jess, because I told her about the house here that has the front yard all in sunflowers. I took this picture last week and I haven't been by since, but I'll try to in the next couple of days:

At some point during the week I took a long bike ride BY MYSELF, and rode out to the Dream House. Along the way I discovered a community garden, right on the bike path and not far from the new house. Note to Jess: See the TALL FENCE around the garden? There's a LOCK on it to keep Park Urchins out:

There also appears to be a little play area, located right behind the compost bins in that first picture.

While we were out at the coast we got word that there was an offer on our house in Oakland, a good offer. We were, of course, pretty pleased about it (though I was at first trepidatious about the buyer). We spent the first part of the week signing various counter offers and faxing back and forth, and then on Wednesday - Dreary, dreary Wednesday - we learned that the buyer had backed out, cold feet or something. I say dreary Wednesday because that was also the day of my interview, and I felt so horrible afterwards. I just don't feel that I come across well in interviews. I have a very difficult time thinking of the responses that I need in order to sound competent and not like a bumbling idiot. How can I possibly communicate the sum of my teaching experience and knowledge in 45 minutes to total strangers? So Wednesday was bad, bad, bad. However, on Wednesday, Number Two Son produced two more teeth, the top two in front, thereby doubling his number of teeth in one day.

If you've ever been to Eugene, you know that Spencer Butte is visible to the south of town from just about anywhere. Here is the view of it we have when we're walking to the park from the place we're renting:

And here is the top of the bike/ped trail that leads down to the park from the top:

See the intrepid squash plant in the foreground? Methinks that's a community compost pile.

On Friday, I got a phone call from the principal from the school where I interviewed, telling me he has nothing to tell me yet. Hmmmmmm. But he doesn't want me to feel forgotten.

Today, Number One Daughter started another swim class, which she will be in this week and next.

And today finished with us receiving another offer on our house, one that seems MUCH better than the last one which fell through. ...Keep on Truckin' ...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

An open letter to Amtrak

I just got on your website today to look up how much it would cost me to take my 3-year old daughter up to Portland to the zoo. I thought it would be fun to take the train and make a day of it. I was appalled to find that the round trip would cost over $60! Those prices are no way to encourage those of us who have cars to take the train as an alternative for short trips.

The distance between Eugene and Portland is approximately 111 miles. According to my calculations, in our moderately fuel-efficient car I would spend about $22 in gasoline, and that would take me straight to the zoo's parking lot (That's using a gas price of $3/gallon). Even if I were driving an SUV, with 14MPG, my fuel costs would still be around $40. So why should I take the train?

My prediction is that the gas prices are only going to go up. If they went up to $17/gallon, at your current pricing, the trip to Portland on the train would be worth it. But that will not be soon.

My advice to you, Amtrak, is to bring the prices down on the relatively local trips. They could be your cash crop - Right now you need something to pry people out of the convenience of taking their cars. If I got 1/2 price on the return fare, I'd take it, and that's not even being generous.

To sum it up: Cut those fares in half and agressively market the change. Make the changes convenient. I'm willing to be your customer, but I (and most of us in this economy) just can't afford it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

At the Pool

OK, folks have been reminding me to bring the camera places, so today I brought it to the kids' swim lesson.

(Note, all these pictures were taken in the space of time between the family swim session and the general recreation swim that starts at 2pm, so that's why there's nobody in the pools)

The 2 to 3 foot pool, where the two little ones have their swim lesson. That's the way cool waterslide behind it:
Here's the other little kid's pool:
The sand play area:

This is the area in between the sandbox and the mini-pool. You can see the really shallow baby play area (and my daughter) in this shot:

Almost ready to go home:

Ready to go home:

And finally, one small piece of evidence of why this is a kooky town:


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wrap up to Eugene: Week Four or, Take me to the River

Here's the Medium and Small, this morning:

Then, House Bean and Large came home and said they'd found a swimming hole, so off we went.

This is Mt. Pisgah, from the road - We were driving to it's base. Mt. Pisgah is just on the other side of I-5 from town:
Small really likes riding in the backpack:

Here's the swimming hole itself, a section of the North Fork of the Willamette. Large is one of the blobs on the far bank:This is what House Bean (and Small) did for most of the afternoon - He really did have fun, despite the scowl:

And finally (and this one is for Jessica), here is Medium playing in the water. See how she's crouched over? She's probably taking that monster shit that I discovered leaking out the side of her diaper right after I took this picture. HAZMAT!!!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Eugene: Week Four

It taking me so long to get to posting Week Two, I thought I would get a jump on Week Four...

I'm still chanting, "Job, job, job..." This week I put together applications for two jobs at U of O, plus found a position open at Bethel School District and put an application in there. These took up a lot of time; the applications for the University jobs required short answers to at least four questions each, and I was really amazed at how long it took to write the responses. Then tweak the cover letter, save application, letter, and responses as PDF's on my flash drive, go to Staples to print everything out...I did that on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Tuesday having been the day in which I rode my bike down to the U of O to check out the job listings in person rather than on the web.

Saturday I got to have a Wonderful Weekend Day, the exact type that I moved here to Eugene to have. The whole famdamnly, we got on our bikes this morning and rode downtown to the Saturday Market, truly the best place to be on a wonderful day like today.* We got down there and I thought, once again, darn it, I forgot to bring my camera again to share with those of you who read my blog. If enough folks, all five or so of you who read this, post comments here and urge me to bring my camera, then maybe I'll remember it next week. At the market we got Number Two Son a couple of cute onesies, one with a skull and crossbones and one that says "I love boobs" (Had to get that last one), and Wayne did our produce shopping. There are so many lovely things at the Saturday Market, I walked around and picked out a lot of things to try and acquire later, when we're settled and HAVE AN INCOME (Again, I can take pictures next week...).

After the market, we rode our bikes over the Willamette River on the DeFazio Bike Bridge, and watched a Bald Eagle fly off with a nice big fish it had just picked out of the river. We stopped and threw some rocks in the river (Well, Number Two Son tried to eat some rocks), then rode along the north shore bike path to the Autzen Bike Bridge, and back home, making a short detour at Sundance Market for some other items.

It was, in all, a most enjoyable day, and I'm hoping to have many more like it in the years to come.

*Oh, and here's the Note on the Weather: For much of this week it was Grey, such a grey that I was reminded, a little, of the planet of Krikkit in HHGTTG. We had some drizzle during the day (and it was WARM), but the only time it rained was at night. Then, for the past couple of days, it was grey until about, oh, say 2:30 in the afternoon, and then it cleared up into brilliantly sunny and warm. It really reminds me a lot of the weather in Santa Cruz, only down there you wouldn't have the rain at night bringing in the fresh smell of wet leaves (it would be the coastal fog bringing in the salty fresh bay smell).

P.S. Kid update: Number Two Son has been sitting up on his own for about two or three weeks now, and can roll himself over quite proficiently from back to front (when he inevitably flops over from sitting - he can't prop himself up yet). He's squirming around quite a bit on his tummy and trying to get himself up on hands and feet/knees - He gets quite upset while trying to do this because he's still not quite strong enough to support himself and he's frustrated. We're to the point where we can't leave him alone in the middle of the king-sized bed because he'll work his way right to the edge and squirm off if left alone (No, mom, he hasn't actually done that. But he came close.).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Eugene: Week Three

Last Sunday I was at Amazon Park with my daughter and The Baby when I got a phone call from a principal at a school here in Eugene about interviewing me for a position. This was very exciting because I had not had any calls yet. The interview was set for Thursday morning. House-bean and Number One Son had left for Oakland, to take care of some business related to finishing the work on our house preparatory to putting it on the market, and were expected back on Wednesday. The upshot of it all is: They got back late late late Wednesday night, I got to my interview ok and thought they liked me, and on Thursday afternoon we met with a realtor and I met my Dream House.

We decided on Thursday evening to make an offer on Dream House. This was risky; our house hasn't sold yet and I still didn't have a job - but was hoping for a job offer very soon. On Friday we met with the realtor and signed all the papers for the offer...and headed off to the Oregon Country Fair, which if you haven't ever been to, you really should go. We had a wonderful and exhausting time at the fair. On Saturday morning we learned that our offer had been accepted on Dream House. On Monday, we met with The Money Lady to apply for our High Risk, No Doc, Bridge Loan. SCARY STUFF. And right after I got out of the Money Lady meeting, I got the phone call telling me that I was not going to be offered the job.

So, ending the week excited about the house, scared about not having a job, and frantically searching and applying for SOMETHING. I'm pulling together applications for jobs at U of O, and have submitted applications for a couple of jobs with City of Eugene. Something will turn up. Everybody chant with me: SOMETHING WILL TURN UP. I WILL HAVE A JOB SOON.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Eugene: Week Two (Part 2)

Of course, it now being near the end of Week 3, and I'm finally getting around to posting the rest of Week 2; Och, life. Week Two went like this: Oh crap oh crap oh crap. Need a job. Need to sell our house. Money. Och. Oy. In other words, reality started to settle in. House Bean was on the phone constantly with the folks doing the work on our house, and trying to get ahold of our listing agent, who is a pretty effective saleswoman but she seems to keep forgetting that it is she who is working for us. House Bean had known that he would have to head back down to finish things up, and he left at the end of the week taking Number One Son with him. In the meantime, I put in applications for several non-teaching jobs, and got registered with Lane County as a substitute teacher in the event that I am not offered a position by this fall. House Bean also bought me a bicycle, and we bought a Burley trailer. Number One Son spent a lot of time at the pool, so we didn't see him much.

Coming soon: Week Three, or, how I learned to stop worrying and just say, "To hell with it."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A few thoughts on Independence Day

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:


For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.


A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.


We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


What ever happened to those cool sparklers we got when we were kids, anyway? The ones on a wire that would get good and hot but you could really whip those suckers around. And they sparkled, dammit, all around in all directions and not just shooting out the tip. These namby-pamby "safe" sparklers are just another example of why our whole watered-down world is going to hell in a handbasket. Harumph.

Young kids today, they just don't know.

Husband, Come Home

Because by golly, this is what we've come to:

And it's Teletubbies, too.

Eugene: Week Two (Part 1)

On Sunday, I hitched our new Burley to the back of my new bike and took the kids down to Amazon Park for the afternoon. We live on a hill, and I haven't ridden a bike since we moved to Oakland in 2001 - but I made it back ok. The new bike gears down really well. I was sore on Monday, but I hitched the Burley to the back of the bike again and away we went - This time for a brief stop at the park, and then downtown to the library. What was really cool is that for much of the ride downtown I was on bike only paths or bicycle-designated streets.

Today I was *really* sore.

So, I decided not to ride the bike today, to take it easy. I thought I would put the kids in the wagon and go for a walk down to the park. Only once we were there, I looked at the map and decided to walk a little farther, to another park we had not been to. It turned out to be much farther away than I was planning to walk. Did I mention that we live on a hill?

I have more to write about Week Two, but right now I need to fall face down on the carpet and not move for a while. I'll be the one with the neglected kids crawling all over me.