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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Summer in the PNW—A Little Different

Crater Lake, June 21, 2022.
Yes, that is a snowman on our first day of summer back in the Pacific Northwest.

Ok, to be fair, we were at Crater Lake, where the lake level is about 6300' in elevation, and the rim, is higher still. Crater Lake averages 44' of snow annually. 

This is also an unusually cool spring.

The Dalles got into the 70s that day, and this week is now mostly getting into the 80s, and is supposed to hit near 100F this Sunday.

We're back from our first foray out since we came here from Florida in December. Yes, we realize we got it backward last year, spending the summer in Florida and leaving when winter set in.


But it's summer here now, and do we ever love summer in the Pacific Northwest, even if my usual answer to PNW newcomers who ask when it will be sunny is "The 5th of July."

More on the trip coming up, but after I get back from another one, which I leave for tomorrow.

Location Location

The photo was taken at the Crater Lake village in Central Oregon. We are at the moment back home—wow! it's so nice to have a home on terra firma to come back to!—in The Dalles, Oregon, about a 90-minute drive from Portland, Oregon.


Monday, May 23, 2022

Life Is (Too) Short

Photo credit:  Amine rock hoovr on Unsplash

My brother Mark was the kind of guy who did everything right. 

Growing up, you could count on him for an adventure anytime an escape was needed, whether it was sliding around the muddy culverts behind our neighborhood for polliwogs, to testing the brakes he installed himself in his car on a curvy country road, to escaping to the coast when everyone else was opening their Christmas presents (which we didn't celebrate because we are Jewish). 

His pranks were diabolically funny, from the smoke bombs he built into abandoned, carved out textbooks, to the shock device deployed through the linked-hand boy scout friendship circle to the orange-flavored Kaopectate that found its way into the campout orange juice. When it was mom's Weight-Watcher's liver night, he developed a special bond with our sheltie. 

Mark never seemed to get into trouble for his pranks, except maybe the time when my friend was staying overnight and he set an alarm for the wee hours, tucked it into a shoebox in our room, wrapped the shoebox with a sweater, fastened it with many loops of twine then knotted the whole bundle tightly. When I couldn't untie it, I hurled it into my parent's room—not a reaction he'd anticipated. That time he got busted. Then again, on the rare occasion that Dad broke out the paddle Mark generally stuffed magazines in his pants. Mark later hid the paddle; Dad never had much inclination to use it anyway.

As an adult, Mark loved his family, Raised great kids. Worked hard and found success with a great career that tested his fine intelligence and broad talents. He lived and played where he could enjoy the great outdoors, hunting, hiking, and off-roading. He cooked a mean BBQ. Neighbors knew if they needed help with a project, Mark would volunteer and get the job done. Mark did his research and ate a healthy diet. Exercised regularly and strenuously. Proactively monitored his health with the assistance of carefully chosen medical care. Mark planned and saved for the future. The list of projects, passions, and travels he wanted to explore in his golden years was long and varied.

When our dad nearly died, Mark flew in to offer the reinforcement I asked for to be Dad's health advocate. We bought dad several more years of life. When Mom neared the end, Mark again flew cross-country so we could say our final goodbyes to her together on Mother's Day. When the time came for our parent's celebration of life, Mark flew cross-country again to pay his respects.

Six months ago my brother uncharacteristically found himself struggling for the right words. He forgot the combination for his suitcase lock. There were a few other odd events that perplexed him. My sister-in-law called to tell me about it. Mark, as usual, tried to make light of it. However, he was concerned enough to return a day early from his business trip and go to the doctor the next day. A week or so later he got the diagnosis: terminal brain cancer.

To date, no one knows what causes brain cancer. In general, it's incurable. There are treatments that can delay death, sometimes for months or years. The treatments can ease the symptoms or can wreak more havoc. In Mark's case, he decided to give chemo and radiation therapy a try. It didn't help.

His wife encouraged me to see my brother "While he was still Mark." I did. Mark rapidly lost his memory, then his ability to communicate, then his mobility. He declined so quickly, that he chose to cut himself off from everyone except his immediate family. He wanted to keep his suffering private. Even in this post, I am deliberately withholding details on behalf of his family. 

His daughter came from Germany with her infant son, Hugh. Hugh's antics were the only thing that still brought a smile to Mark in his last months and days. His other two sons also spent with Mark and supported their mom. When Mark died, Friday, May 13th, we all knew it was a blessing, especially his wife, who remained there to do all she could for him to the very end.

Mark was only 63 years old, my older brother, only sibling, and last remaining close blood relative. He leaves behind a loving wife, three adult children, two grandchildren, and another on the way.

I'd anticipated years of friendly competition with Mark, to see if my lackadaisical, carefree habits or his diligence were the most effective in fending off crotchety old age. Before then. I'd hoped to travel internationally with him, something we never did together unless you count crossing over into Canada (I don't).  In all my years of international sailing, Mark never got the chance to join me on a boat other than a short zip along the Columbia River. That was a good day. 

Our mom lived to 87, cut short because she refused to go to doctors and died of a stroke from untreated diabetes and high cholesterol, a sugary diet, and a sedentary lifestyle. Dad, a WW2 bombardier spent decades beating the odds, despite diabetes, a bad ticker, and a family that most members didn't survive past their 50s. He lived to 94. Both our parents died in 2018. 

In the Jewish faith, it's said "you live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew you." Mark's legacy is broad and rich.

Yet Mark's death still doesn't seem entirely real—more of a dream or crazy prank my brother pulled that when I wake up or get the punchline, we'll all laugh. Instead, I have to accept that he got a big hug from Mom, the kind so long and tight, it's hard to breathe. Dad probably greeted Mark with one of his legendary apple pies. When my time comes to go to the TGB—the great beyond, maybe there will be some colossal prank Mark will cook up, especially for me. 

Like Mark, I too am full of plans for the future that I hope to accomplish, now with an even greater sense of urgency to not delay. I am all the more grateful to my husband for making sure we didn't wait to fill our lives with adventure, nor do either of us consider ourselves anywhere close to done with our adventures yet. 

I urge you to do the same. Let those you love and care about know it by telling them and showing them. Spend your time with them; make good memories. Leave no business unfinished when it comes to love and friendship. Live your life and dreams like there is no tomorrow because you never know when your last day will be. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Diving Back In

 

(Not actually our pool, which is, however, now fit for human entry, albeit a bit chilly still)
Image from Moerschy on Pixabay.

How did over a month go by without posting?!?

Wayne and I moved into our home on March 25th. It closed on March 14th, but we waited until the wood floors were refinished before we moved in.

Ever since we moved in, we've been busy cleaning up, despite the "professional deep clean" we requested in our closing that the sellers ignored. But then, what can you expect from sellers who show their home for sale in late January with a deflated larger-than-life Santa in their front yard and a pool covered with a brown tarp, and a box of Kirkland organic chicken potstickers floating above the tarp in the pool? Not to mention dodging six hungry chickens whose defecation along with the dogs' littered the yard. I could go on, but you probably get the idea.

One of my latest tasks is finding someone to take this overabundance
of horse poop away so we can address the fence rotting away
from wet, organic matter pressing against it.
The ladder came from my dumpter dive; Wayne working on repairing it.

We wisely focused on getting the guest bedroom ready almost as quickly as our own bedroom; we've hosted three different sets of friends for at least one overnight each already—and a couple of dinners, too. Kudos in particular to my longtime bestie Anna, who generously exchanged her horror for a scrub brush, scrubbing bubbles and a paintbrush. That's after we've spent a substantial amount of time cleaning and painting before she arrived.

The multi-talented Anna not only put Shiva into a kitty nivana,
she takes a photo of it with her other hand.

We also got out kitty up to speed with a new vet, got our Oregon driver's licenses and voter reistration and getting in our ballots by May 17th and registered our vehicles. We've mostly furnished our place, no small feat given that not long ago we didn't own a stick of furniture and most of what we have came from thrift shows, Craigslist, estate sales and secondhand stores. Boring, time-consuming but necessary stuff.

In fact, here it is on the tailend of another weekend, and if I take the time to put together some before and after photos, this post will go up too late for anyone to want to read it.

We're also a the point where the bulk of the remaining short-term work on our place plays more to Wayne's skills than, mine, so rather than just spending money on the house, I just got a job.

Lots more updates, befores and afters coming up.

Location Location

The Dalles, Oregon, roughly an hour and a quarter east of Portland, Oregon, up the Columbia Gorge.

The balamroot in our area is getting an extra long bloom,
thanks to a cooler than nirmal spring.

Our yard is more wild, than flowers, currently, unless you count dandelions.

Dandelion removal is currently my primary gardening activity.
They're prolific!!!



Monday, March 21, 2022

Home —After 14 Nomadic Years—Part 2 of 2

And then . . . continued from Part 1 (our most recent migration was prompted by an eviction notice

At the Florida co-op we'd planned to call home, our best friend there got kicked out with a 24-hour eviction notice for what we considered no real reason. We were upset about our friend. We were freaked out—what assurance did we have the same thing wouldn't happen to us? 

Technically, Wayne got the eviction, but I consider "us" a package deal.
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
In fact, when Wayne spoke up about it—or, in his words—"Lost his sh*t,"—that's exactly what happened. One day later, he got a 24-hour eviction notice, something that's never happened to either of us. 

Instead of settling into a home base, we'd have to hit the road again.
Photo from Pixabay.


We had no Plan B.


Shiva, was in the hotel with us, while we figured out a Plan B. She adapted far better than we did.

Despite liking the concept of a co-op, the reality was far from ideal. After the co-op, we wanted control. That meant living somewhere we felt we were free to express our beliefs on what we felt was right without fear of repercussion. That meant buying a house and no co-ops or HOAs. We decided to move closer to friends and family. 

We talked to Aaron, our financial planner, who helped us figure out how to afford the five years of travel we started back in 2012.

"Buy a house," Aaron advised. 

"You can afford it," he added. "If you don't do it now, you may not be able to later." 

Meanwhile, the folks we sold our trawler to offered it as a place for us to live aboard while we house-shopped. The boat was still exactly where we live aboard and sold it from in Portland.It sat empty and would be until May. We had someplace to go to.

Once again, we needed to get us, our "stuff"—not much, but more than fit in our sedan—cross-country. We also now had a kitty, too. We bought a RoadTrek mini campervan. 

This cross-country-mobile was a bit smaller to move us back across the country than
the one we took going the other way. This time, we came with a kitty.

Wayne drove the RoadTrek, and I drove our sedan, a nuanced repeat of when Wayne drove the RV from Portland to Florida, and I drove my hatchback. We knew we wouldn't want the van to be our primary transportation once we arrived in the Portland area. With everything else, selling our car in Florida then buying someone once we arrived was more than we wanted to take on. Besides, if we filled the car, there was more room for sleeping in the van. 

There's a reason we fled living aboard a boat in covered moorage in the Pacific Northwest in the winter. It's cold, dark, and damp. 

A rare sunny day. We were literally chillin' in the snow in our former boat
under the covered moorage in the background on Haden Island, Portland, Oregon.
It didn't help when the marina cut off the water for a week and a half in December when it was freezing. Out of sheer luck, we barely found out in time to top off the boat's water tanks. 

Not knowing whether one more toilet flush or glass of water would use up the last of our water makes me cranky. 

Being cranky in a small space is bad. 

My face looked like this (Shiva's visage was far more cheerful).
Photo by Niranjan _ Photographs on Unsplash
Another friend bailed us out—again. 

"I got this RV I'd love to get off my property," he said. We offered to do just that, promising to either buy it ourselves or sell it and give him the sales proceeds. He hates the sales process. We've gotten pretty good at it. In fact, it's already pre-sold (with a growing waiting list) for more than he expected to get for it.

Home sweet home in Portland-Fairview RV Park from January to late March 2022.
Lots more light than on the boat in covered moorage. Also much easier to keep warm in the winter.

The RV met with Shiva's approval as she figured out how to
turn it, too, into her personal kitty jungle gym.

Comfy: kitchen, couch, recliner, dining room table, full bathroom, decent-sized closet, a queen-sized bed. 
We had no trouble selling it on Craigslist.

We focused on finding a home in The Dalles, Oregon, because it's day trip-able to the Portland-Vancouver area where friends and family live. The Dalles also boasts more sunny days and lower prices than the Portland-Vancouver area. We aren't "building careers;" The Dalles is big enough for us to find jobs that will meet our needs. 

Viewpoint from The Dalles, Oregon on Columbia Gorge Scenic Hwy 30,
looking across the Columbia River to Washington State.
House-hunting, in case you haven't heard, ain't easy these days. Despite escalating prices and climbing interest rates. demand far exceeds supply. Most decent places we looked at went from posting (on Redfin, which we found posted new listings the quickest) within three days. Most places generally sold at the asking or over-asking. 

Cartoon pilfered from Morning Brew.


The first house we bid on we only saw in a Zoom walkthrough because I-84—the highway between us and The Dalles—iced up and closed. We made an over-asking price bid with a $40K escalation clause and still lost the bid. 

The second house we bid on with the attitude, if it's meant to be, it will be easy. We lost that bid, too. 

The third time, we bid on a fixer with a deflated Santa still in the yard in February. Then there was a pool with no recent service records covered by an ugly opaque brown tarp, weighed down by a cardboard box suspended halfway between the pool surface and the pool bottom. We were too distracted by the six chickens chasing us around the yard and dodging animal poop to take a peek beneath the pool tarp. We couldn't inspect the pool because it was winterized

Will the pool be usable come swim season? TBD for the great unveiling.

Our over-asking bid was accepted. The only concession the seller agreed to was a professional cleaning prior to closing. Their compliance with that is debatable. We closed anyway. 

On our supposed final presale inspection, the chickens were still there, but at least this time
they weren't running loose in the yard. 

We never pictured ourselves in a rancher, but there you have it. 

The chickens were gone by closing.

Wayne and Dana in the "before" photo of our new-to-us home in The Dalles, Oregon.
Photo courtesy of our awesome realtor, Ashley Almas, Sartori Realtors.
We're waiting until the oak floors get refinished before we move in, which will happen later this week.

Other than the two used recliners and one used desk chair from an estate sale, and my in-laws regifting Wayne's former couch and matching chair back to us, we have no furniture. 

We thought we'd move furniture into our garage while the floors are getting redone, but the spring on the garage door is broken. We decided to pay $400 to replace both springs, rather than pay $3600 for a new garage or wait 5-7 weeks for one less expensive. The repair is about a week out.

We've gone all the way around the house to move what we have so far, moving it in through the sliding glass door into the bonus room with a laminate floor, not in need of refinishing.

Location Location
After fourteen long years without a home base, we're looking forward to being part of a community again, and giving back and paying forward in the spirit of those who've generously supported us. Our home is now The Dalles, Oregon. 

What's Next?
Are there adventures ahead, besides remodeling and returning to (paid) work?

We certainly plan on it, though it may take us a bit to get our new-to-us home ship-shape first and getting past feeling "house poor."

We're looking forward to getting to know our new neighbors and hearing their stories.
Photo by 
Jeswin Thomas from Pexels
Oh, and there's a book and a sitcom script in the works. The former got put on a back burner with our constant moving. The latter was inspired by some of it. Please drop me a line if you want to be kept in the loop on those at dana "dot" greyson at .gmail.com.

Some Questions for You
  • What unexpected events changed the trajectory of your life? 
  • How do you believe your life would be different if it hadn't happened? 
  • What regrets do you have? 
  • Even if you have regrets, what likely wouldn't have happened if you got a mulligan and chose a different path that you are grateful for?

Friday, March 18, 2022

Home —After 14 Nomadic Years—Part 1 of 2

Our most recent move came about because of an eviction notice.
Photo by 
Maria Freyenbacher on Unsplash

How we got where we are now started with an eviction notice. More on that in Part 2. Let's start at the beginning, where Wayne and I started, with a pictorial "Cliff Notes" catch-up.

My former home in SW Washington. Sold, Feb 18, 2022 for $480K. I owned it 14 years prior.

In 2005 I got to know Wayne when I hired him to be my remodel handyman. He cleaned up after himself, so I married him.

In 2008, in the midst of the housing crises, I reluctantly agreed the mediation business I'd tried to keep afloat for three years was making it too hard to pay the mortgage. The job market wasn't much better. 

We sold our house in Vancouver Washington for what I owed the bank, about $145K, walking away with virtually nothing despite remodeling it. Recently, that same home sold, albeit with a remodel far fancier than the neighborhood merited IMHO, for $480K.

Shortly before we put our house on the market. we agreed to house-sit for friends in Vancouver, WA. Sometime after our house sold, we ended our house-sit and moved to Everett, Washington. I hated Everett. Wayne hated his job there.

"Let's buy a sailboat and leave the country," Wayne suggested. I didn't know how to sail.

Our 26' O'Day sailboat in British Columbia's Copeland Islands.

Wayne got a little sailboat for me to learn and to see if we could hack life aboard. He worked so many hours that until he quit, he didn't have time to sail it. With visions of ramming another boat on my way out or back into the marina, I was too chicken to learn on my own. Embarrassing but true.  But we had a great time after he quit, sailing up into British Columbia and back over three weeks, despite all kinds of dramas and discomforts. 

By that time, Wayne already bought s/v Journeywithout me, but with my blessing, in St. Lucia, the Caribbean. We planned to sail Journey to Australia and sell there after five years of sailing.

Our living space was roughly 150 square feet, but we had a heckuva backyard!

S/V Journey, our 36 1/2 foot Pearson 365 sailboat, viewed from the mast in Fakarava, French Polynesia.
We sailed to Australia, and a lot of places in between. We sold our boat as planned in Australia within two weeks. We tooled around Australia trying to decide what to do next. 

This Landcruiser was "home" for about four months while we finished
our Australian circumnavigation we'd started by sea, over land.
Our Australian visas were coming up for renewal about around our planned 5-year travel mark. Without knowing what else to do, we "came home" to Portland, Oregon. Only—we had no home.

Wayne likes to say "We went from world travelers who sailed halfway around the world, to homeless, unemployed bums living in my parent's spare bedroom." We felt lost. It was a dark point in our lives.

Home from summer 2017 to fall 2020 in the Pacific Northwest, parked off Collins Beach, Sauvie Island.

Close friends unexpectedly set us up with their former boat, a trawler, which practically doubled our living space; we dubbed her m/v Serendipity. She enabled us live in an area we otherwise could no longer afford.

Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia.

We still hadn't found our groove since we stopped cruising. The tropics spoiled us; we'd always suffered a state of gloom that matched Portland's gray winters. We returned to some of our favorite places in the area and to some new ones in Washington State's San Juan Islands and through British Columbia.  We house-sat, to get us off the boat and out from under covered moorage in the winter. Then Covid hit, and that option dried up, along ability to go to New Zealand to escape our winter.

We wanted out—again—before winter arrived. We considered shipping our trawler cross-country, but decided we were better off buying there than shipping.

We sold Serendipity and headed to Florida in a new-to-us RV, which also provided a base for us while we shopped for another sailboat. Once we found our boat, we figured we'd sail to the Bahamas for the winter, return to the US, head up the Atlantic coast from spring until fall, then return to the balmy Caribbean before the next winter set in.

While we looked, we stayed in an RV co-op community in Florida.

The RV we crossed country in, before someone sideswiped it into a guard rail.
It still provided a temporary home base while we sailboat shopped in Florida.
With bought a lovely boat, but with limited options on the market and high hopes of getting friends and family to join us as Covid wound down, the boat was bigger than we wanted or needed.

Just before we took off for the Bahamas, I sold my beloved Prius and we turned our RV over to the insurance company of the woman who slammed it into the guard rail in Oklahoma, on the way to Florida. The RV was still drivable and livable, but the insurance company determined it was cheaper to sell than fix it.

Our large and luxurious Hirsch Gulfstar 45' sailboat with a guest room but no guests.
Once again our boat sellers told us, "We're 'keeping' the boat name for our next boat, you gotta rename her." We named her s/v Gallivant and sailed to the Bahamas.

A mellow sailing moment in the Bahamas aboard s/v Gallivant.
But we didn't like the feel of a boat that big. We'd lost our zest for cruising. We returned to Florida where again house-sat while sold the boat, in the same co-op community we stayed while boat-shopping. I fell big time for Shiva, the kitty who inspired our house-sit.

Smitten by this kitten, Shiva. Her owner was less smitten and as if we'd adopt Shiva.
Shiva's owner asked if we'd adopt her kitty.

"We're homeless. We can't take in a cat," Wayne said. "And what about when we go to New Zealand?" (We were still itching to return to New Zealand, and with the boat sold, once Covid restrictions lifted, there was nothing stopping us. However, the island-nation of New Zealand quarantines pets for six weeks).

Our Florida hangout, a co-op park where we boat-shopped and stayed for the boat sale process and after.
Meanwhile, we warmed up to the idea of calling Florida and the co-op we'd already spent some time at home, at least for winters. Against Wayne's better judgment, we adopted Shiva.

And then . . . 

This post was getting too long; the rest of our "migration" story will be continued in Part 2.

Location Location
Currently, we're in Fairview, Oregon, just east of Portland, Oregon. We'll soon be moving into our home is in The Dalles, Oregon, up the Columbia River Gorge, about an hour and a quarter's drive east of Portland.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Almost

Californa Redwoods, a Pacific Northwest sun escape from two years ago, pre-Covid.
Much has happened since then.

Today we are on the cusp of a new chapter in our lives. 

Assuming it works out—and we'll know later today—I can explain some of my silence soon.

 
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash


Location Location
That too will be revealed next post.


Monday, February 14, 2022

Hang in There

Photo Credit:Karolina Grabowska Kaboompics on Pixabay

Yes, I've been quiet and will be a for a bit more. The light at the end of the transition tunnel is in sight. More on the specifics in a month.

For this Valentine's Day, please let those you love know that you love them—that includes yourself. The greatest gift of all is expressing your love and letting those you love hear why you appreciate them so much. Pick up the phone and call or text. Drop an email. Pen a love letter. Hug, if you're able. If none of those is an option, trust the universe to deliver the message in a shimmer across space and time.

Thank you for reading this and doing your part in making this world a kinder place.