Sunday, January 10, 2010

Christmas trips

We had a wonderful time hanging out with our wonderful friends Jim and Carrie from Pittsburgh before heading out to visit my old stomping grounds in Madison, and then to visit my family in Cedarburg WI (just north of Milwaukee). It was a lot of fun, even though Karen and I came down with (swine?) flu on our first day in Madison.







Karen and Carrie hanging out, waiting for Jim to return from taking some photos






Jim returning with camera in hand







Hanging out with the family






Opening gifts (of course)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Here are some beautiful photos taken from our back porch this morning and over the past few weeks (NOT digitally enhanced!)




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For the first time this year, my Thanksgiving list includes Thanks, God, for helping us move to this beautiful place!!!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

October ends

Wow, time flies. It's been about a month since I last posted. Well, here's a quick rundown of just a few things that have been going on...

- Last month, Karen and I went to a Renaissance Faire, where people dressed up like Gandalf were selling random swords, amulets, and other what-have-you. It was quite interesting. There was even somebody dressed up exactly like Monty Python, with a steward/squire trotting behind him with coconuts a-clupping.

- This fall, I've been very busy teaching an introductory course on software engineering: how to build great software without making it too expensive. I'm a little anxious for my students, since I can give them great skills, but that might not be enough to ensure their professional success because a lot of things can affect their careers that are out of my control.

- Karen and I just got back from a party to raise money for a local teen-counseling/missions charity called Young Life. It was so much fun, with food tasting and auctions. We didn't win anything, but I bid on coffee-for-a-year. The person who won it at $400 got a real steal, I think.

Gotta go to bed soon. Breakfast party with church friends in the morning!




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Survey: Oregon is awesome

Well, Portland specifically...


Of all American cities considered, Portland OR was #1 in several of the "Quality of Life" categories. How does your city stack up?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

VL/HCC

This week, Oregon State hosted the VL/HCC conference in Corvallis. As always, there were lots of presentations and plenty of time to hang out with colleagues.





It looks like I'm going to karate chop the audience or something in the first picture.


Probably the most interesting paper that I heard about this week (so far) was one by Paul Gross and Caitlin Kelleher, describing the troubles that people encounter when they try to understand one another's animation code.

You can see a whole lot of these animations on the internet. Some are cool, some not so much. But all of them represent an effort by somebody to understand how to create an animation program. Often, people get these skills by looking at code that other people. But understanding somebody else's code is often not so easy. Hence the study that Paul and Caitlin did. Read the paper for details!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Feeling bad for Pittsburgh

It's too bad that G-20 protestors have such a (somewhat deserved) reputation for being disruptive and destructive. They're coming to Pittsburgh next week--in fact, they're coming to one of Pittsburgh's most interesting, lively, take-your-out-of-town-guests-to-visit neighborhoods, the "Strip District". This strip of land along the Allegheny River is home to lots of little stores with tasty food, as well as some of Pittsburgh's last old-style direct-wholesale fruit, fish, and meat stores. So I'm feeling kind of sad at the moment for Pittsburgh, where we used to live.

If the protestors smash up this little neighborhood, they will forever impugn their cause, at least in my mind. Anybody who would smash the Strip District probably isn't a nice person.

For more:


FAQ:

The buildings in the Strip look like warehouses. What's up with that?
Yes, some of the buildings in the Strip look like warehouses. That's because they are warehouses that sell direct to customers, just like in the old days. The trains used to come here and drop off fruit straight from Florida or wherever, and you could go and buy it direct and fresh.

Where can I find the strip club?
I don't know, I don't go to strip clubs--but I don't think that I ever heard of a strip club in the Strip, so you're just going to have to go without, I guess.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Winner of the 1st Annual Chris and Karen Oregon Recipe Competition



Thank you to everybody who submitted a recipe. This year's winner is Mark Needels, who submitted a Fruit Parfait recipe that took delicious advantage of our copious supply of pears and blackberries. It was sweet and delectable!

Of the other recipes that we received, we tried out three others, and the folks who submitted those recipes will receive consolation packages in the mail. Keep your eyes open!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thanks for the recipes!

Thank you to everybody who submitted recipes! We have selected 4 recipes for sampling and purchased the ingredients today. We will probably prepare and taste the recipes tomorrow.

We also planted fall veggies today: kale, collards, cauliflower, autumn lettuces and cabbage. We will soon have veggies from plants that were already in the ground: squash, zucchini, potatoes, jerusalem artichokes, and bell peppers. Maybe we will have to run another contest in a few months :>

Oregon State Fair 2009

The rodeo came to town yesterday. Well, technically it came to a town north of ours (Salem) for the State Fair. So Karen and I packed into the car and drove off to see all the animals. Here are some photos for you to enjoy!

Roping calves
This guy just lassoed a calf and has hopped off his horse. His job is now to run from the horse and tie up the calf.





Horses in a row... lots of pagentry.




This is what I call the "dirt zamboni" -- it comes out to "fluff up" and even out the dirt after each occassion when a pickup truck or other vehicle had to drive out onto the arena.





Stormclouds over the midway
After attending the first two-thirds of the rodeo, we strolled around the midway. Fortunately, we only got a few sprinkles.




4-H animals
We did not see any of the livestock judging, but we enjoyed seeing the goats, pigs, cows, and other animals.



We did see one horse-judging event. The horses had to trot and canter etc in specific ways in order to win.






The most unique parts of the fair
The Oregon State Fair included a graffiti competition and a skateboarding competition. Monster trucks were available for oogling.






There also was a glassblowing display by a vendor.





Plenty of fun on the midway
We were only at the fair for around 5 hours, which meant that we didn't have time for any rides. Maybe next year!







Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oregon State University's insane prices for football tickets

When I found out that OSU had chosen to hire me, one of the first things that I did was to look into buying football tickets. I had such fond memories of hanging out with my friends at Camp Randall at UW back in the day, chomping sausages and drinking stuff. Back in spring, the ticket info wasn't available online, so I just looked into prices again today.

Here are the prices:

Single Game Tickets
PSU: $33
Cincinnati: $45
Arizona: $45
Stanford: $45
UCLA: $65
Washington: $75

Am I the only one who thinks that these ticket prices are INSANE ???????? I understand that professional football ticket prices are badly inflated (starting around $120 a ticket, plus surcharges and parking, for the Steelers). But COLLEGE????

Frankly, this sucks.

I can remember going to see Princeton University and Carnegie Mellon play for FREE.

Ok, what about a good team? Well, I can remember going to see UW for something like $16 a ticket (in 1992). Since inflation has been 52% since then, I would therefore expect college tickets for a good team to be $24 each. Cheap UW tickets are now $15 or $20 (with the cheapest game being only $6), ranging up to $35. So that's reasonable. UW is all good.

By comparison, charging as much as $75 for ONE PERSON to see ONE GAME is INSANE!!!!! I know that they are selling, which makes me think that there must be some sort of MASS INSANITY out there.

That's just plain NUTS.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fruit and spiders

Keep those recipes coming!
It's been a delicious, albeit itchy, couple of weeks.

More fruit
Yesterday alone, I picked over 200 pears from our tree (with more to come). And our friend Andrew invited Karen and me to pick blackberries in his yard. We got 13 lbs. He also fed us delicious burritos. Thanks, Andrew!

These days, there seems to be a lot of competition for blackberries at the local park, though we usually don't often see other people picking berries there. Instead, we see the leftover berry-heads and small, underripe berries that they have left behind. Fortunately, being 6'4", I can reach deep into bushes in order to get the good berries that everybody else can't reach.

However, that tactic does tend to scratch me up a lot. And therein lies the rub, so to speak. Many of my blackberry scratches have gotten inflamed, despite my best efforts to protect against them with pants/long-shorts, and despite trying to clean up my wounds with the usual triple antibiotic ointment. My lower left leg is particularly itchy and swollen and actually a little nasty-looking (I'll spare you the photos), leading to a doctor's visit tomorrow.

Spider saga
At first, I suspected that I had been bitten by a spider. Our house does have lots of spiders. So I searched Google for "Oregon spiders" -- it turns out that lots of Oregon homes have spiders.

Unfortunately, one Oregonian spider, the Hobo spider, leaves particularly nasty bites. And my left leg was starting to look like a Hobo spider bite (according to the descriptions of such bites on the internet -- my leg doesn't actually look as bad as a Hobo spider bite). So I searched through our entire basement for spiders and trapped something like 6-8 spiders (dead or alive). And one of them, whose ilk are particularly common at our house, looked very similar to the Hobo spider.

Fortunately, Oregon State University runs an "extension" for citizens to come and talk with university staff and volunteers about nature stuff. They even have a trained Hobo-spider-identifying-person on staff, in fact. So I took said spider to said expert and asked, "Is this a Hobo?"

I was happy to learn that instead of Tegenaria agrestis (Hobo spider), I had captured a Tegenaria domestica (House spider). You won't be able to tell the difference using photos from the internet, I think. The reason is that the nice House spider differs from the nasty Hobo spider only by the presence of six tiny spots on its underside, very slight coloration differences, and microscopic difference in genital structure. My spider had spots and probably was a House spider, whose bites aren't so bad. Moreover, in houses with large House spider populations, there tend to be very few Hobo spiders.

So the odds are good for my leg. This nasty itchy wound probably isn't going to get all gangrenous like the worst Hobo spider bites -- at least that's what I'm hoping the doctor says tomorrow.

With the spider hypothesis out of the foreground for now, irritation from blackberry scratches is my best going hypothesis... though I've had such scratches before, and they were never this itchy. In fact, I'm writing this at 4:40am because my itches woke me for the 3rd time tonight. Maybe the doctor can give me some helpful ointment or something.

On a separate note, I turned 35 today.





Keep those recipes coming!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

First Annual Recipe Competition


Karen and I have a problem that you can help to solve. In fact, there is even a PRIZE for solving this problem.

Specifically, Oregon has inundated us with lots of delicious fruits and vegetables. Not that we're complaining, but many of these are available in such big quantities that our limited supply of recipes will wear thin. In fact, we have no recipes at all for some of these foods. We need more recipes!!!

Therefore, we are pleased to announce our First Annual Recipe Competition. This is an opportunity for YOU to send us recipes to help us enjoy our delicious Oregon fruits and vegetables. In return, we will send a wonderful PACKAGE OF DELICIOUS SURPRISES (approximately $25 value) to the person who submits the best recipe. (We might also send prizes to runners-up if we get lots of great entries.)

Here are the rules:
  • You may send recipes on or before August 31 using the comments section below or by emailing me at chris.scaffidi@gmail.com
  • You must have cooked and eaten the recipe at least once.
  • Your recipe must include one or more of the following items as an ingredient: blackberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, pears, plums, apricots, onions, squash, potatoes, hops, grape leaves, raspberry leaves, kale pods, mint, lettuce, basil, rosemary, sage, and/or sunflower seeds.
  • You may send as many recipes as you like, though a maximum of 5 per person would be reasonable and sensible.
  • We may change or add rules without warning.
During September, we will test recipes that sound tasty and choose the winner(s) near the end of September. The judging criteria are the following (in order from most to least important):

A recipe is more likely to win if it...
  1. Is tasty
  2. Uses more than one of the ingredients listed above
  3. Uses one or more of these particular ingredients: pears, hops, grape leaves, raspberry leaves, kale pods, mint, sunflower seeds
  4. Does not need a lot of other expensive ingredients
  5. Is quick and easy to make
  6. Is low in sodium and fat
If you have any questions, or any suggestions for improving the contest, please email me to say so!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Scotland

To celebrate my graduation, Karen and I went for a special vacation to Scotland this month.

We were looking for a vacation that that had a mixture of scenery and cities, that was in an English-speaking country, that had reasonably good weather in July, that wasn't too expensive to visit for a week, that had airplane flights from the USA, and that was safe. Scotland fit all the requirements. (As an added bonus, the patron of my new alma mater was Scottish. ;>)

Scotland was also an interesting option because I am descended from the Celts (via the Irish), as are the Scots. So I have always wondered what their culture and nations were like.

I was surprised by how tragic their history is, full of oppression by the English. You probably know that the Irish (successfully) resisted English aggression through the 1900s (sometimes using terrorism). Well, the Scots have had a similar history, stretching back for nearly 1000 years now. I had thought that Braveheart was just a movie. Well, the true history turned out to be just as wretched as that movie portrayed.

Another thing that Braveheart got right was the scenery. It is absolutely incredible, full of majestic highlands and remote, wind-swept moors. I've only been to a handful of places in the world with such stunning scenery (Oregon and Kauai come to mind). The surroundings had exactly the right elements to tug at my heart: lush green places that few people have explored, cool refreshing wind in my ears and hair, interesting animals and plants, and a storied history of exploration and discovery.


We rode around the countryside and cities in a bus. Here are some photos of the trip:



Here is a map of our route:











Sunday, July 19, 2009

da Vinci Days

This weekend was "da Vinci Days" in Corvallis, a special annual festival of art, science, and technology. Here are some of the particularly good videos and pictures of the festivities.

One event is the Kinetic Sculpture Race (human-powered vehicles).




The teams have to sing a song, too:





Another competition is the sidewalk chalk art:




Here are some more chalk art pictures:




We saw a pretty good indie film called "In Pursuit of Panama" at the festival. It's about some guys who come of age while driving to Panama from Oregon. It was thought-provoking and made me grateful that I busted out of corporate America in order to go to Carnegie Mellon.



On Friday evening, we hung out with some nice friends at the da Vinci Days's concert by The Cherry Poppin Daddies. Their music was pretty goofy:



We went out for dinner at a local pub. It's getting to be one of my favorites, largely because of it's restful ambiance and delicious burgers.
(it's a slideshow)

I could also tell you about the Farmer's Market, the cherry-picking, the lecture on Oregon earthquakes and tsunamis, the quest for a pitchfork... but I need to go for now, so stay tuned.





Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I might have set a bad precedent today...

You know when you're running and your spit starts coming up red, it usually means that you're running too hard, right?

Well, today, I think that it probably meant that I wasn't running hard enough.


See, Oregon has all of these wild cherry trees growing in parks and on peoples' front yards. And the cherries just fall on the ground and go to waste because they're kind of small and there's way too much food for everybody to eat.

Anyway, I was jogging along, and I decided, why not stop and have a handful of cherries? So I did. And then I did it again at the next cherry tree. And the next. In the end, I only ran about 2 miles (at the most) instead of the 4 that I prefer.

So now I have a little bit of a conundrum. Do I want to put more time into my jogging schedule, so that I can stop for snacks? Or should I just plan not to stop for cherries? Oh, it's so hard to decide.

And I really do need to decide, 'cause blackberry season is right around the corner.
(I had two of those this morning, too!!!!!!!)




For the rest of the blog entries... http://berriesoutwest.blogspot.com/


Sunday, July 5, 2009

church and decadence


Karen and I have been looking for a good church in Corvallis. I think that we might have found one, called
Doxology. We went there today, then went out to lunch afterward.


The church meets in Corvallis High School, which is only 15 minutes from our house by bike. Their theology is very matter-of-fact but still based on the grace of Christ. They have an active social mission. Actually, Karen and I got to help them with a food pantry last week. Their worship is pretty informal without coming across as disrespectful (at least given the cultural norms). Their website has this photo of the leaders at a typical worship:




After church, Karen and I were hoping to go out to lunch with some folks from the church who had previously indicated interest in meeting for lunch, but then it turned out that they weren't able to go today. So Karen and I started biking off toward a restaurant neighboorhood alone, when we happened upon somebody whom we had met the previous week at the food pantry. So we asked if she and her friend wanted lunch; though they had plans, they walked along with us to the nearest restaurant, where Karen and I got our lunch.

That nearest restaurant was (drumroll)... Taco Time! :) It may not look like much, but the food is very tasty (and unhealthy).

(photo courtesy of Google)


Karen got the Crisp Chicken Burrito, which may be the best item on the menu.

(photo courtesy of TacoTime)



Afterward, since we hadn't yet consumed enough tasty fatty food, we biked to Coldstone Creamery. I had the Chocolate-y Goodness, which contains chocolate, pudding, peanut butter, and other stuff.


(photo courtesy of Coldstone)


Well, that is probably enough advertising fatty food for one day. I can't wait to go running tomorrow!!!











Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Don't get duped... a public service announcement

Some new and recently-updated scams are going around on the web. For the details, visit


Here are the highlights:

  1. No, you can't get a "grant" from President Obama by clicking an ad on a website. I wish that it was that easy!
  2. Nobody can fix your credit score but you. You can't pay somebody to fix it for you.
  3. Never send your gold jewelry in an envelope to somebody who promises to mail you cash back in exchange.
  4. That mystery shopper company is yet another front for that guy in Nigeria who keeps trying to get you to cash checks for him.
  5. Those online "friends" aren't real friends unless you also are friendly with them in real life. Get it?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

animals and the house





Things are slowly getting back to normal. Here are some photos of the new normal...


Deer in the front yard. They like to chew on the wild strawberries that grow in our gardens.




Cat in the back yard. He sort of wanders around from backyard to backyard. We put out food for him today. Maybe he'll become friendly to us. Right now, he gets kind of scared and shies away. No tags. For a long time, Karen was the only one who saw him... I kept referring to him as Karen's "imaginary friend". (As a sidenote, some communities have laws and even lawsuits about who is even allowed to feed wild neighborhood cats I know of no such thing here in Corvallis, OR. My first impression is that Corvallis is a cat town rather than a dog town.)




When we arrived, the grass was really long. I think that we closed on May 1 but moved on June 4 or so. And then our lawn equipment arrived a week later. So the grass needed to be hacked with the edger. Then we could go over it with our push reel mower. (Reel mowers do a terrible job on tall grass, but they do a very even job with moderate length grass. They also are very easy to maintain.)







Moving into the house, here's a shot of my office, all set up. Karen's is downstairs, mine is upstairs, with a view of the front yard (where Karen is chopping in the shot above). My big monitor is now living on-campus (at the Kelley Engineering Center), since that's where I work most days, so I pulled out an old CRT for at home.





The dining room is pretty well set up now. I like being able to look out toward the mountain from the dining room. It seems as though the view is going to be particularly awesome during the summer: it almost never rains in Corvallis in the summer. (Compare the climate data for Corvallis, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee, for example. And how do you like those temperature and snowfall averages, people???)





One of my favorite rooms at the old house was the living room. It was always a nice spacious place to hang out with a good view of the backyard. I was so grateful to find a house here in Oregon that also had an equaly comfortable living room.






Here's a view from the recliner shown above. I took this shot at something like 6am a few days ago. Karen has been keeping an East Coast schedule. I don't think that I could keep up with her most days without the help of some strong coffee!!









Please use the comments section or send me an email to let me know what other stuff you want to see in the blog.

More photos of the house, such as the downstairs? Would you like to see some pictures of the flowers and fruits in the garden? (Ever seen a wild strawberry with pink flowers?) Want to hear about my plans for the garden, like trying to get a Fern Gulley started? Want to see my massive compost bin?

Or is house-house-house not so interesting after a while? Did you like the link from a few days ago about giving money to charity? Want to know about our "church search" (now one of my favorite rhymes after Carrie Z pointed it out a few weeks ago)? Want to hear about what "professor-ing" is like?

I have lots to share, but I want to make this blog as interesting and even useful as possible. So let me know what you want.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Photos and a little about Corvallis

Here are some photos that I took a little while ago:

http://picasaweb.google.com/chris.scaffidi/OurOregonHouse#

We'll be posting even more photos in a few days!

And here is a little more information...



We think much of the inside of the house itself is beautiful, with a lot of wood paneling indoors, big windows, and fairly recent upgrades in the kitchen and bathrooms. It was built in 1962. Like our current house, the ground floor on the front side of the house is on a different level than the ground floor at the back of the house, since the house is on the side of a hill. The house has 4 bedrooms in the main section of the house and 2 full bathrooms. It also has a mother-in-law’s suite (or apt.), which has a separate entrance, a small kitchen/living room area, and a 3/4 bathroom (with a toilet and shower but no tub). The apt. is set up so it can be on its own utilities. The house also has 2 fireplaces (one on each floor of the house), sharing the same chimney. It has a mix of hardwood floors and carpeting, with some vinyl in the kitchen and stone flooring in the front foyer.


The laundry/utility room, which is on the basement floor, has 3 doors to it; one is from the apt. and 2 go to the main part of the house. If we were ever to rent out the apt. to someone we didn’t know well and trust, we probably would want to add locks to the 2 doors that go to the main part of the house, so that the renter could use the washer/dryer but not get into the main part of the house.

The main bathroom on the 1st floor has a door from the hallway and a door from the master bedroom. (So, I’m not sure if that counts as a “master bathroom” per se.) This bathroom has the tub separate from the shower. The other bathroom in the main part of the house is on the basement floor and has the tub and shower together. The toilets in the bathrooms have the option of low water usage or high water usage for each flush. That is, if you think you need to use only a little water, you flush the toilet slightly different than if you think you need to use more water. This type of toilet is a water-saving device that seems especially common in areas that are “green” and that might experience droughts. The bathroom on the 1st floor has a laundry chute down the bathroom in the basement, which is the floor on which the laundry room is.


The back of the house has a nice view, facing east, and a yard that the previous owner used for gardening. The house has an easement pertaining to a strip of land at the very end of the backyard, which a neighbor can use to maintain a fence that is near the boundary between the 2 properties. While it would be nice if there were no easement, it seems pretty innocuous and basically would be like having a very slightly shorter back yard except for technically owning that narrow stretch of land. There’s also a kid’s playhouse (or “fort”) above a shed in the backyard.

Within a mile of the house, there are 2 grocery stores (an Albertson’s and a Fred Meyer) and a food co-op. There also is a bus system in Corvallis. The closest bus route is about 2 blocks from our house and could be used for Chris to get to campus on rainy days or we could use to go downtown. Chris has been told that the buses are pretty reliable in their schedule (Corvallis is a small town, after all), but they run only once per hour.


While Oregon is known for getting a lot of rain, it gets very little rain during the summer and people who want nice lawns or gardens will irrigate them. This house does have an underground sprinkler/watering system for the yard.


A few things to mention about Corvallis or Oregon more generally: It is a small city of about 55,000 people—20,000 of whom are students. It is about a 1-hour drive from the Pacific Ocean. It is located in a valley, the Willamette Valley, which is in between the Cascade Mountains and the Coastal Range (which, as you might guess from the name, runs very close to the Pacific coast). As I mentioned above, Corvallis has milder winters and milder summers than Pittsburgh. I expect that it’ll be “sweatshirt and sweatpants weather” at night in the summers. Yes, it rains a lot there, although the summers are very dry and people typically water their lawns in the summers. There have been some days in the summer in which there has never been any rainfall since records have been kept. One of Chris’s colleagues said that “people don’t take vacations in the summer” (since weather is so nice).

Another interesting thing about Corvallis, which might more generally be a “west coast thing” or at least a “small city thing”: drivers actually yield to pedestrians. This will take some getting used to, since Chris and I walk around a lot in neighborhoods. So, we don’t want simply to stand at the street corner (say, having a conversation) if we have no intention of crossing the street, because the driver is likely to stop and wait for us anyway. That is, we had better really INTEND to cross the street, and be paying attention, if we’re standing near a crosswalk.

A few other miscellaneous things to mention: OR does not have a sales tax, but I think it’s income tax is a fairly flat 9% tax, which fairly closely follows the federal one in terms on what is deductible. Also, in OR, one cannot pump one’s gas. I heard quite a long time ago that NJ and OR are the only states in the country in which people can’t pump their own gas.



Saturday, June 13, 2009

Newly Moved to Corvallis, Oregon

We named our new blog "Berries out West" because blackberries grow really well in Corvallis, Oregon, where Chris and I now live. It's one of the things that we like best about Oregon.



Getting out here has taken a while, but overall, our move so far has gone pretty well.  Last Mon. (June 1) and Tues., our household of belongings was packed up and hauled away.  We spent part of Wed. cleaning up our Pittsburgh house, and then we flew out on Thurs.  Despite these activities, we had some "down time" to relax and say goodbye to Pittsburgh, since Chris's new employer (Oregon State University) was hiring other people to do a lot of the work for us.  We've been sad to leave both friends and "our usual haunts" behind, so I'm glad we weren't extremely rushed.  
 
We got to our new house about 1:45 a.m. on Friday (4:45 a.m. east coast time), so the traveling day on Thurs. was pretty long.  It was a real treat to fly first class, since Chris had some frequent flyer miles that he "cashed in" to upgrade us.  It also helped since we had a lot of bags with us, and first class customers don't get charged for checking bags.
 
In terms of big purchases, we had new beds delivered so we wouldn't have to sleep on the floor or an air mattress and since we'd want more beds for guest rooms anyway.  And, we picked out a washing machine and dryer and had those delivered this week.  Our stuff arrived this Thursday, and we've been unpacking a lot since then.
 
This past Sunday, we visited a very good church that is close to our house.  Our only concern about it is that it didn't seem to have a lot of people who, like us, are approaching or in middle age but without kids.  We've planned to visit other churches in the area anyway to try to make sure that we pick a church that we'll be happy with in the long run.




Unsurprisingly, Chris is thrilled to be in Oregon. In fact, he's liking it even more than he expected.  And, he's had fun getting free food from the garden so far.  Today, we mowed the lawn. It was really hard. We'll write more about this later.

I think it'll take me longer to get settled and comfortable, but I'm not really worried about it for now.  Getting more stuff in the house will help.  I'll also need to figure out whether or not I have to work on an "east coast schedule", which would mean starting at 9 a.m. east coast time and 6 a.m. west coast time.  Plus, while Chris has co-workers from his job, my main social interactions are from friends at church, since I work at home.  It'll take a while to settle on a church to attend, and I think it'll take a while to develop new friendships.
 


 
So far, it seems that living in a small city on the west coast does have its advantages.  It seems like people are friendlier and there's a more relaxed lifestyle.  I have felt the temptation to rush around and be brusque, even though I really don't have anywhere that I've been needing to go.  I guess I've been living on the east coast for a long time!  We've also had the pleasure of meeting several outdoor cats who seem friendly.  Only one has a tag ("Miss Turtle"), and we've given nicknames to the other two (Stripey and Orange).
 
I think it'll be fun to explore new areas, grocery stores, etc.  One nice find was some good jeans for Chris, who has a hard time finding pants that are his size since he is tall and slender compared to many other people.  We speculated that he might have an easier time finding pants here, since this part of the country has a reputation for having people who like the outdoors and are fairly athletic.  We weren't even intentionally shopping for pants for him, and we found some in his size.  We also went to a local farmer's market last Sat. and bought some veggies.  Unsurprisingly, the farmer's market tends to be a bit expensive, but we both enjoyed going there and will probably try to do so a lot of the Saturdays until either we get more food growing in our garden or we find a veggie co-op that we want to join.  One weird thing, though, is to see wine and beer in the grocery stores.  

We both still think our new house is beautiful, and it has a lot of big windows so we can look out and see the beautiful outdoors as well.  Check back again soon to see some photos!!