The Melfi’s are on the move again!

Last Saturday we moved into our new house!  Things went very smoothly, well . . . almost!  The house has hardwoods under the carpet on the main level, so we came in Friday night to tear the carpet out.  The floors look great with the exception of the dining room which is some kind of ancient linoleum :)  Now we get to figure out what to do with the floor!!  I have uploaded pictures of the house to my website if you are interested . . .you can take a peek!  www.juliemelfiphotography.com/Pembrook.  Our new address is 9915 SW Pembrook Street, Tigard OR 97224.  New phone number:  503-639-3812.  Hopefully you will not have to change our address for a very LONG TIME!!!  The house was built in 1961 and it is a cute daylight ranch.  Cali loves the HUGE yard (& so do we!).  There is plenty of room for us to do all of the things we want to do . . plant a vegetable garden, compost bin – there is even room for a pool!  The house could use some remodeling, but for now, we are just going to enjoy being in a house again!

We have had some beautiful weather and Spring is definitely in the air!  I went downtown and took some pictures of the beautiful trees that were blooming.  I love Spring!!  It gives us hope that sunny days are on the way!  I hope eveyone is well . . I’d write more . . but I’m exhausted from unpacking :)  Enjoy the pretty pictures of Spring in Portland!  Click on the picture to see it larger!

Where did February go??

I just realized that it is the last week of the month and I haven’t posted in FOREVER!! I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my life🙂 I’ve been applying for jobs, had a few interviews . . .still waiting for the right opportunity to appear! In the meantime, I’ve been wasting LOTS of time on facebook (it’s so easy to do!!). Let’s see. . . I’ve started running again! It’s slow going, but I’m starting to feel pretty good! Last week I was sick with a cold (thanks honey!) but today I was feeling better so went out for a run in the rain. Turns out, I got rid of all my rain clothes, so I got pretty wet! Oh well, at least I was out there!!

It’s been pretty quiet around the house- turns out that the dogs and cats just sleep ALL DAY and don’t really care to entertain me! I have been torturing them with the camera😉 I think I am the only photographer that has all black animals to photograph! Let me tell you . . they are tough! Kevin suggested that I go out and buy a teddy bear and practice with that😉 (A tan one, of course!) I just might do that!!

Kevin’s job is going well – he has been busy!! To0 busy to call and chat during the day (poor me!) Just another reason . . .I need a JOB!! I have WAY too much free time on my hands. You would think that I would accomplish alot, but it turns out . . I’m not quite as motivated when I’m not busy- it seems that I thrive on deadlines😉

Kevin is currently on what we are calling “The World Tour”.  He is visiting some of the offices that do the Charter High Schools so he can see how they function and put together some business requirements for their new systems.  Today he flew to Minneapolis and drove 4 hours to Fergus Falls, Minnesota- it’s very close to the border of North Dakota and guess what . . it’s COLD!! Currently it is 17 degrees and “feels like 1”.   He will spend the day there tomorrow and then drive 4 hours BACK to Minneapolis, spend the night and fly to Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Wednesday. From there he will drive to Waukesha, Wisconsin and then drive back on Thursday so he can fly home on Friday. Whew . . makes me tired just thinking about it!  The sites are all remote and not close to an airport, so he has to take 6:00 am flights to make it to the site at a decent hour- he’s going to be exhausted by the time he gets back!

But it won’t end there! Next week he flies to Kansas City (via Denver) and drives to Manhattan, Kansas- then drives back to the airport and flies to Las Vegas and heads to Lake Havasu, Arizona- then back to Vegas and home again on Friday! Fun, huh? Unfortunately, he didn’t take a camera . . so there will be no photos to share😦

We have been starting to look at houses and will see if we can get approved for a loan this week. The last time we bought a house we did a “no doc” loan- we just told them what we made and they believed us- ummm, they’re not doing those loans anymore – so we will have to show verifiable income. Luckily, Kevin is working in the same kind of job (business analyst) as he was at Nike, so we should be able to sway the underwriters in our favor (keep your fingers crossed).

We will probably have to spend about $300,000 on a house (and that’s cheap!!) The good news is, we are buying at a VERY good time and there are lots of houses to choose from. We have only seen a couple of houses that we have liked- we know what we want, so we are going to try to be patient . . .but Cali really wants a back yard!!

I’ll leave you with some photos of the kids . . .like I said, I’ve been torturing them😉

Oh yeah, if you didn’t see the video I made for Kevin for our 10 year anniversary . . . here is the link!
http://animoto.com/play/s2b0lk3kvJoEB4X1LwWoiA?from=share

Happy 2009!!

I have started out the year with a bang!  Teaching yoga, writing an ebook and taking an art journaling class . . . I wonder why I have neglected to update the blog??  We had a wonderful holiday season!  It was so nice to be back in Portland and the snow made it even more memorable!  Bob (my youngest brother) came for Christmas with the kids and his girlfriend Teresa – I should have taken more pictures- but we were inside the whole time!  It was a nice, relaxing holiday🙂

We spent New Years eve with two of our favorite people Ken & Candi and they got us hooked on Wii!!  We had a blast playing games and were worn out by the time the clock struck 12:00 to ring in the new year!  We’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to track down a Wii- and I finally found one on Tuesday!!   We can’t wait to have people over to play!!

Kevin has been getting busy at his new job and is finally getting in the groove of having a job again (I think).  The bummer is his 45 minute commute each way.  It was nice when his commute was just across the house :)  Even when he worked at Nike, it was a short commute, so this will take some getting used to! 

I have been teaching a 7:00 am class on Tuesdays and Thursdays – that means I have to get up at 5:30 am to do yoga!!  I am NOT a morning yogi . . .turns out, we don’t have many early birds at the studio either, so starting next week I will be teaching on Monday and Thursday at noon (that sounds MUCH better!!).

Not much else new to report!  Cali is going to be 10 years old on the 19th of this month.  It’s hard to believe that she is already 10!!  Most of the time she still acts like a playful little puppy but I can tell that the stairs in this townhouse are wearing on her; she doesn’t even come downstairs to say hello when I come home!  She stands at the top of the stairs and waits for me!!  She’s a smart girl and we are looking forward to finding a house so she can have a backyard again.  It’s really obvious that she is sick of being cooped up in a house- when we take her for her walks, she starts draggin’ when we get close to home and looks at me as if to say, “please don’t make me go back in there!”.  Poor baby!!  I have included a picture of her with her new favorite toy – papa always sends the best toys!  I’m sure it’s also because she knows it’s from papa!

Oh yeah!  The day after Cali celebrates her 10th birthday, Kevin and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary!  Ten years sure flew by!  We are looking forward to many more wonderful years together ;) 

Happy New Year!!

It’s still snowing!

That’s what we say as we occassionally look out the window!  Local weather guy, Matt Zaffino said the Portland metro area hasn’t accumulated this much snow in the month of December since 1968.   (woohoo- lucky us!!)  As of Monday morning, 14 inches has accumulated in Portland, a record for this month. The all-time record in December is 18 inches.  

I am happy that we have snow instead of the freezing rain that they were calling for all day yesterday.  We were so surprised when we went out this morning- poor Cali was all the way up to her belly!   We have been trying to have Cali’s joyful appreciation for the snow- afterall, it is beautiful!  She can’t help but stick her nose deep into the snow and run around in happy circles!  She is always reminding us to savor the moment!

We put the chains on today and went to visit a kitty that I am taking care of – it was a fun adventure!  It was so nice to get out of the house!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have a reason to stay home; time to watch a few movies, catch up on some projects and start thinking about my goals for the new year – but geez, I like to have the option to go out! 

Great news!  I got a job teaching at a new yoga studio on 185th.  Poise Yoga Studio (http://www.poisestudio.com/ ) is opening on January 3rd and is offering 2 weeks of free classes.  I will be teaching Tuesday mornings at 7:00 am – I can’t wait!  It’s a beautiful studio and they offer a wide variety of classes from Kid’s Yoga to Pilates.  I teach my first class on January 6th – come and take a class!!  It’s the new year – is there a more perfect time to try something new??  Why not you??  Why not now??

I read something that got me thinking the other day . . . “Some people spend all their lives on a boring little island called the “Someday Isle.”  “Someday I’ll be happy.  Someday, I’ll hike in Nepal.  Someday I’ll build a log house.  Someday I’ll have a great adventure.”  Life is not a dress rehersal.  Life is here and it is now.  Reach out and seize it, you deserve it!”

I have lived on “Someday Isle” and  luckily, I voted myself off the island :)  One of the many things yoga  has taught me, is to live in the present moment.  No matter what has happened in the past, or what the future holds, all we have is this moment.  It’s easy to get caught up in worry- it’s estimated that 99 out of 100 things we worry about never come to pass.  What did you worry about a year ago?  How many of your biggest worries have actually come to pass?  Yoga helps me put life in perspective and it has changed the way I handle lifes little ups and downs –  That is why I LOVE YOGA!!!

Enjoy the photos . . .we had fun taking them!!

Let it snow (somewhere else!!)

It snowed on Sunday- I must say, we were excited for it- but now, I’m over it.  It snowed and then got really cold and icy- and the snow didn’t melt . . . it just made it impossible to get anywhere!  Tomorrow we are supposed to get MORE snow!!  The Melfi van is not what I would call an “all-weather” vehicle.    We went out Sunday around 10:00 am to visit some kitties and ended up walking up a little hill to the kitty house because our tires were spinning.  Santa: Can I please have a Subaru Forester????

Yesterday I got nervous because the weather started calling for snow all next week (what??)  This is the Portland Metro area- NOT THE MOUNTAINS!!!  Chains are in order- afterall, I have several kitties that I will be caring for over the next couple of weeks and I need to be able to drive to their houses!!  Here’s the funny thing . . . almost every year, it snows one or two days in Portland and then everyone runs out to buy chains and all of the stores run out.  Kevin and I always laugh and say . . . “they have been telling us all week we were going to get snow . . . why didn’t they get their chains before the snow came??”  Well- the laugh is on us- we didn’t have chains, ignored the weather reports and then scrambled to find chains for the minivan.  One guy actually laughed at Kevin when he called (jerk!). 

One of my cat sitting friends told me where she found some chains so first thing this morning I called and purchased a set over the phone :)  (whew!)  I ventured out onto the icy roads to go pick them up around noon.  “The roads are fine” – that’s what more than a few of my friends said – and they were almost right . . . most of the roads are fine- others are icy and I just happened to be lucky enough to find myself spinning my tires at a stop light- I was stuck for about 10 minutes!!  Finally I was able to back up enough to find dry pavement and begin moving forward again!  ARGGGHHH.

I am not a fan of icy roads.  Snow is fun as long as you don’t have to drive in it🙂

Oh yeah, in case we haven’t told you- Kevin started his new job last Wednesday with a great company;  KC Distance Learning (a division of KinderCare) and he is slowly adjusting to coming out of retirement (don’t tell him I said that!).   I am still working on some yoga teaching opportunities and expanding my Pet Business.

I actually finished designing our Christmas cards yesterday . . . now I just need to get them printed and in the mail!  Can you believe that Christmas is next week?  Are you done with your shopping?  I’m NOT (stupid icy roads . . . )

Here are some pics from our winter wonderland . . . don’t forget to enjoy every moment!!

“It’s outside my boat” . . .

Sorry I have been neglecting my blog – maybe it’s because I’ve been spending too much time worrying about things that are “outside my boat”.   

I was going through some of the readings I have shared with my yoga students and I thought I would share this with you!  It’s one of my favorites, one of my very wise yoga teachers shared it with me!  Thanks Dolly!

It’s Outside My Boat

A man was interviewing the people involved in the rowing sports at the Olympics.  He began questioning them, wondering about how they handled things like strong currents, hot sun, pouring rain, nasty weather, competition, fatigue, etc.  They all responded with a similar and resounding “That’s outside my boat”.  They had been trained to control only what was inside their boat (their attitude and their focus) and let the rest go.

This story had a great impact on me.  Try though we might, we are unable to control things like the weather, our spouse, rude drivers, the economy, etc.  Now I often find myself in situations asking “is this inside my boat or outside my boat?”  Then I try to adjust my attitude accordingly!  If I’m out for a walk and the sky opens up in a torrential downpour, that’s outside my boat.  My getting pissy about the rain isn’t going to make it stop!

When you notice yourself getting tense or tweaked about something, take a huge, full, deep breath.  This will help get you fully embodied in the moment and more clear in what you’re feeling.  Then inquire, “is this inside my boat or outside my boat?”  If the answer is “outside”, then it takes discipline to channel the energy toward the only thing we can control, which is our attitude.  For me, this almost always involves finding gratitude (how lucky I am just to be alive and have two legs that work, how lucky we are to have the rain) and/or compassion (for the couple trying to hide under a jacket under a tree to avoid getting wet!)  Either way, through gratitude or compassion and breath, the shift of attention has switched from what we can’t control to what we can, which is our attitude.  Having the discipline to change our focus requires that we learn to let go.  It’s often easier to stay stuck in the blame game.  It’s easy to blame the rain for our bad mood, but in reality the external landscape has nothing to do with our own internal landscape.  Letting go asks us to step back calmly and figure out if the situation is something we can genuinely control or not, then acting from that with conscious choice.  Letting go of the need to control outside influences also brings us fully into the present moment.  Suddenly, we’re not wasting energy worrying about a future that hasn’t happened yet, or dwelling in a past that is long gone.

Wayne Dyer says, “You cannot always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.”  Life will likely continue to be challenging and our project is to be like the cyclone that derives its power from a calm center.  When we are able to focus simply on what’s inside our boat, we are then able to embrace the beautiful, perfect, messy unfolding of our life, just as it is!  Ask yourself if you want to be bitter or better, then alter your thinking to support that paradigm.

Remember, you are the captain of your own soul!  Your boat represents your life journey while the condition of the water and weather represent the challenges you face along the way.  There will be days of calm beauty followed by raging winds and and choppy currents.  Your attitudes and thoughts are the paddles that keep you moving forward and upright despite the external forces.  So, next time you feel challenged, ask yourself if it’s “outside you boat”.  If it is, then focus on what you’re in control of (what paddles you’ve got your hands wrapped around) and let the rest go!

Are you ready for some football??

We were- but unfortunately, we spent the day at the VA Hospital!  Kevin has been sick for about 3 weeks and today he was much worse, coughing like crazy and having trouble breathing . . . so, off to the doctor we went  (which is the hospital, because things like this ALWAYS happen on a Sunday!)  There weren’t too many people there when we arrived, “maybe this won’t be as bad as we thought” – WRONG!!  We were there for 3 1/2 hours.  We are happy to report that it is not bronchitis or pneumonia – apparently, you can have asthmatic symptoms from a cold- so they gave him an inhaler and some drugs.  Hopefully, he will be able to breathe and sleep (which means I will be able to sleep too!)

On another note . . .Just how many resumes do you need to send out to get a job?  Has anyone done that study?  I’d like to know, so I can relax a little and not feel like such a huge loser!  This week I put together a website for Dog Walking (www.outandaboutpetservices.com) but I haven’t quite finished it.  It feels harder to get motivated to start a new business when I don’t have the stability of my husbands NIKE salary to support us like I did the first time! 

I’m going to work part time for my friend Margie – she has a great store called Petutopia.  It will give me an opportunity to meet people and make a few dollars while I’m looking for a job and/or starting my new dog walking business.  Yesterday, I went and took some pictures for an event she had in the store and the local Pug rescue was there- I LOVE PUGS!!!  The Helvetia Winery was there doing a wine tasting, Rubi, a local animal massage therapist was there, and there was even a pet psychic!!  It was lots of fun- what could be better than hangin out and talking about dogs all day??? (I posted some cute pics from it!)

It has been raining for a few days and the trees are all starting to lose their beautiful fall leaves.  I took this picture this morning to show you the beautiful color- it’s been chilly, but I’m still not ready to wear socks! 🙂

All in all, it was a good weekend  . .  no pneumonia, the Chargers won, the Patriots won . . . life is good!!

I guess it’s time to fall back!

Why is it that you always wake up earlier than usual on the one day of the year that you are given an extra hour to sleep??  We had a perfect Portland day today – 60 degrees and a little rainy!  We took The Max (public transit) downtown and bopped around and then had lunch :)  Isn’t it funny how you can always “figure everything out” when you’ve had a couple of beers??

Well, I haven’t quite got it all figured out, but I do know that I need to re-write my resume.  I’ve sent out at least 40 resumes and haven’t received one call!  I will consider that a big, fat HINT!!  So, I have to be creative and show the hiring managers that I have skills, even though I have been doing my own thing for seven years.  The funny thing is, I have more skills now than I did when I had a “job”.  I have learned so much and tried so many things since I’ve been doing my own thing!  I had time to create several websites, market several businesses and interact with lots of different types of customers!  I just need to get someone to call me, then I will be able to sell myself, right??

Kevin had an interview this week and he has another interview on Tuesday with a different company (yes, he’s got SKILLS!)  Hopefully he will get to be just a little bit picky so he can do something he enjoys instead of just getting a JOB

We are still thrilled and delighted to be back!!  We had so much fun this weekend!  We went trick or treating in Wilsonville with Kurt and Becky’s kids; David and Sydney.  Their neighborhood was unbelievable – there were kids EVERYWHERE!!  We have never seen so many people out trick or treating!!  One of the houses was really SCARY- it looked like a movie set!  The owner was dressed like the guy from Chainsaw Massacre and was chasing some of the kids around with a chainsaw- very funny!!  We decided that someday we want to be that house :) 

Last night we went to see Ken & Candi- they have 2 dogs, KC and Hannah.  Cali has been friends with KC since he was a pup, but they got Hannah after we left – so they are new friends.  We all had a wonderful time!  It feels like we never left!! 

Sorry there are no pictures this week- we took the camera over to Ken & Candi’s and we forgot the CF card!  (okay, I forgot it!)  Like Ken said, this big expensive camera isn’t worth much if it doesn’t have the CF card in it.  Next week we’ll have some more pics🙂

Hope you had a Happy Halloween!

The Pumpkin Regatta

We had the pleasure of attending the 5th Annual Giant Pumpkin Regatta today! Started in 2003, it is exactly what the name suggests; a boat race, but the boats are giant pumpkins (no, really!) It sounded like a hoot, so we grabbed the camera and headed out for some fun!

I’m still amazed that these 600-800 pound pumkins could float, let alone hold an adult!! They didn’t just do a little 50 yard dash, they had to row all the way around the lake!! Entertaining for all ages!! (you can click on the pictures to see a bigger pic!)

Looking for a job sucks!!

I know that it’s not “PC” to say something “sucks”- but seriously- sending out your resume over and over and getting no response is just a bit depressing!  I know that we have very marketable skills, but obviously the people that are receiving our resumes DO NOT agree :( 

What’s a girl gotta do to get a job around here???

So, walking dogs is definitely a possiblity.  I like to be in control of my time and I am very impatient – so at least I could have something to do and some money coming in, right?  I have plans to write an e-book on ‘how to start a petsitting/dog walking business’- so that would also give me something to do. 

It’s ridiculous the number of resumes I have sent out- jobs that I am definitely over qualified for- and I still have not heard the phone ring!  (Kevin went to lunch with Kirk and called me on the way home . . . so I know that the phone works!)

I have been enjoying playing around on Facebook- if you haven’t  tried it, check it out!  It’s a fun way to connect with people – people that you may have not talked to in forever! 

Last weekend we went for a hike in one of our favorite places, the Hoyt Arboretum (http://www.hoytarboretum.org/)  It was a gorgeous day, and you could tell that Cali was excited to be back in the woods!  The trees are changing and it definitely felt like fall – there is nothing better than a sunny, fall day in Portland!  I snapped a few pictures :) 

On Sunday we went to an event at the World Forestry Center – Wolf to Woof.  It was a dog friendly event and there were lots of cute doggies there (we didn’t bring Cali because she gets way too stressed out when there are LOTs of dogs around!).  We got to visit with my friend Margie – she is one of my favorite clients (she had 5 dogs when I started walking her dogs- now she has 3!)  She owns Petutopia – a really cool store for pets and the people that love them!  (http://www.petutopia.com/). 

Other than that- we’ve been endlessly searching for jobs- and, like I said, it SUCKS!!  The kitties seem relaxed- check out the picture of Zuni, does she look stressed out??? 

Waitin’ on a sofa . . .

I think one of the worst parts of moving is waiting around for people to show up!!  Our sofa is supposed to be delivered today between 12:30 and 3:30 pm.  It’s 2:35 and I’m guessing they will show up somewhere around 4:00!! 

It is beautiful and sunny outside – we can think of lots of other things we would love to be doing right now!  Kevin is diligently trying to get my computer back up and running.  It made the move cross country okay, but then we moved it from upstairs to downstairs and when we plugged it in it sounded like an airplane taking off!!  We turned it off and then turned it back on and there it was . . . the blue screen of death :( 

If it’s not one thing, it’s another!!  Luckily, Kevin is a bit of a computer wiz, and at least it will turn on now!  All of my data is there, but I may not have all of the cool programs that I had.  Bummer.  It feels like I have been on the laptop for days looking for a job.  I have applied to lots of them and I know it takes time.  Hopefully, someone will see that I have skills (I don’t think it looks very good on my resume that I spent the last 7 years walking dogs and doing yoga!!)  I’m thinking positive thoughts!!!

We got to see some friends this week.  It seems that just about everyone has a 5 year old and a toddler!!!  We are just so happy to be back!!  It almost feels like we never left!!

This weekend we are going to get out and take some photos of what we love about Portland.  We went to Saturday Market last weekend, and I forgot my camera!!  My bad.

We have both grown tired of watching TV from our beach chairs and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the sofa!!!  I took a couple of yoga classes at a studio nearby this week, but the classes were just a little too gentle – I at least like to break a sweat!!!  I’m sure I needed a gentle class, but what I wanted was someone to challenge me!!  I have a whole room dedicated to yoga upstairs – hooray!  And Kevin has a “man cave” downstairs complete with leather chair and tv (what else could he possibly need??).  Cali has settled in and stopped mutilating herself, the kitties are all good, all we need now are a couple of JOBS!!!!!   We’ll keep you posted!

It’s cold outside!!

Yup, it’s been chilly here in the Pacific Northwest- yesterday we took Cali for a walk and I had an ice cream headache because it was so cold! (44 degrees!!) It rained today and we were both laughing – it’s 49 degrees and raining – we must be in Portland!!! This afternoon we went to our favorite grocery store, Trader Joes and stocked up on food (I can’t possibly eat one more meal out!). The movers came yesterday and I have almost unpacked the whole house (we didn’t move much, so it was easy!!)

When we first arrived at our new “house” (it’s a townhouse in an apartment complex) – we were not very excited about the place. I saw a flash of panic in Kevin’s eyes, so we told the girl that we were going to go and have a cup of coffee. We went to Starbucks, got on the computer and starting looking for other options, we even went and looked at another townhouse- but it was worse than the apartment!! Rentals are never as nice as you want them to be (but what did we expect? It’s a rental!!) After a few hours of panic, we went back and signed the lease at the original place. Now that our stuff is here and we are mostly moved in, it feels like home🙂

Sometimes all of the spontaneous decisions that we make can lead to alot of stress, and this was no exception- but today, we feel good about our move, the place and where we are!!  The house is mostly set up- we don’t have a sofa, so we are camped out on our beach chairs in the living room watching our TV – it’s pretty funny🙂

The kitties have all settled in – Cali is still a little bit of a mess, but she’ll be okay. She is such a sensitive dog- she gets all stressed out, gets itchy, licks her paws until they are raw, gets more stressed out, licks her paws more- poor little nut job! (I’m sure it’s no reflection on us- right?) She’s under 24 hour surveillance and may have to wear her “space boots” again. (If she does, I’ll take a picture – there is nothing funnier than watching her walk around in her boots!)

Speaking of funny- yesterday, Zuni finally came downstairs to check out the main floor and somehow she walked into some packing tape that had been ripped off of a box- she went flying out of the room with the tape stuck to her foot- HELP, SOMEONE IS AFTER ME!!! Kevin ran upstairs to save her and he said she was doing figure eights around the bedroom – under the bed, around the room . .. he finally caught her on the third loop and rescued her from the terrible tape. Now, everytime she hears us rip the tape off of a box, her eyes get huge and she runs to hide!! I wish we could have caught it on video, I laugh out loud everytime I think about it!!

We are ready to get out and explore Portland again- I can’t wait to go to Saturday Market and go for a hike by the Japanese Gardens, and visit The Pearl and see some friends!! I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures to share.  Tomorrow, I’m off to a yoga class – I can’t wait!!

We’re here!!

We finally made it to Portland at about 4:00 pm – it felt like we had been driving for days! (wait, WE HAVE been driving for days!!) The cats were SO NAUGHTY today- we had at least two hours of whining and moaning from Monkey, and an hour or so of Ashley and Yogi going ballistic trying to get out of their crates. Zuni is still the best little kitty🙂 She just sat quietly in her crate – she’s the best!! We thought about leaving the bad kitties at a rest stop, but Kevin said that wouldn’t be right. Then he said something about putting them in the roof tube – I guess we were all feeling a little stressed out!

We had a beautiful day again and by the time we got to Portland it was 59 degrees and raining! (go figure!) The drive through the Columbia Gorge was LONG, but beautiful. I don’t think it could possibly be any greener – and the trees all looked so HUGE!! We tried to enjoy the scenery without being too impatient about getting to our destination.

The Columbia Gorge divides Oregon and Washington (in case you have never been here). It is a beautiful drive with lots of fun stuff to see along the way – lots of views across the river, bridges, lots of trees – I took a just a few pictures to share with you. At one point when we looked across the Gorge, you could see what looked like a truck that had gone off the edge of a cliff on the Washington side. I took a picture so we could blow it up and see what it was and it is a semi truck! I couldn’t find any info on-line about the crash, but Kevin overheard a trucker talking on his cell phone and he was talking about it.

Tomorrow morning we get to go over and get the keys to our townhouse, this is our last night in a hotel. This hotel only had one entrance, so we had to double the kitties up in their crates, cover the crates with beach towels and pile luggage on top of them on the luggage cart to sneak them past the front desk. It’s not that we are not staying in a “pet friendly” hotel (there really is no way to sneak Cali in!), it’s just that people look at you a little crazy when you say you have four cats – and we are not especially fond of paying the “per pet fee”. (it’s not like they use more towels or sheets or something!)

Now we are all lounging around watching the Redsox (Go Sox!) and hoping for a good nights sleep (we know it’s not likely . . . the kitties seem to enjoy walking all over us during the night, and paying multiple visits to the litter box . . . but we try to hope for the best)

Thanks for joining us on our trip- we’ll keep you posted on our new adventure. Portland definitely feels like home and we are SO HAPPY to be back!!

Third time is a charm?

We established on this trip that this is Kevin’s third trip across the US into Oregon.  His first trip was from Rhode Island to Oregon and took him 3 days- his second trip was from Chicago, IL to Oregon and took him 2 1/2 days – and this, his third East to West Coast trip will take 6 days!!  He says that he NEVER wants to see Nebraska, Wyoming or Idaho from a car again (and I don’t blame him!)  This is my second trip (I drove from Michigan to California in 1997).  This does not include the trip we made from Oregon to South Carolina three years ago.  We have seen the country, and we don’t need to see it again, at least from this vantage point!  We hope to stay put in Oregon and call it home for a LONG, LONG time🙂

Did I mention that the hotel we stayed in last night was “skeevy”?  Neither one of us slept much – the bed was like a BRICK!  We were up at 3:00 am, but knew we needed to sleep in a little longer.  We ended up loading the car at 6:30 am, and heading out by 7:00 am.  Needless to say, the troops were very restless today (I guess we didn’t give everyone time to do their “business” at their leisure)  Everyone was complaining on the road!  All of the kitties are done being good – they are sick and tired of being cooped up in crates and crammed into tiny hotel rooms!!  I wish we could explain what’s going on- but they just look at us like we are crazy and promise to keep us up all night to get back at us.

We did enjoy a silly TV show last night called “Don’t forget the Lyrics”.  If you haven’t seen it, it comes on after “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?”  The contestants sing along to songs and they leave out some of the words, which the contestants have to fill in.  Silly, but fun🙂 (hey, it helped us pass the time!!)

The breakfast at the hotel was as bad as the room – something that resembled bacon (but did not look cooked) and some kind of powdered excuse for eggs- so we passed.  We had hard boiled eggs in the car (yum?).  Luckily we found a Starbucks in Evanston, Wyoming and got to have some HOT coffee!  Around 10:45 we were hungry and tried to stop at a Quiznos for a sandwich, turns out they did not open until 11:00, so we had to buy a sandwich from the gas station.  WORST SANDWICH EVER!!  I had to take a picture of it – a dry roll, one slice of turkey, and about 1/4 slice of cheese!  But what can you do when you are hungry and there is no place else to go (and you already paid $4.00 for the sad little sandwich??).  The sandwich came with a cookie, which we decided wasn’t even worth the calories!  How often do you NOT eat a chocolate chip cookie??  You know it was bad!!

I don’t know how truckers do it day after day- being on the road is hard!  Bad food, uncomfortable beds, unaccomodating cats (okay, maybe they don’t travel with cats) – whatever- they would have to pay me BIG BUCKS to drive cross country for a living!  Here’s a question I have . . . in just about every small town, there is a big lot full of old dead cars . . . where do they come from?  There is no one for miles – but there are old dead cars . . . do they go out looking for them?  It brings to mind the movie “Dusk till Dawn”.  . .

We missed all of the “big storms” the Weather Channel warned us about today.  We got some rain, but it wasn’t bad and tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny!  I got some good pictures of some pretty threatening looking weather – hope you enjoy it!  Tomorrow we will make our way into Oregon- yeah!!!  We are already so excited to see REAL MOUNTAINS!!!  We’re almost home!!

Little known facts about Wyoming. . .

The majority of Wyoming is dominated by mountain ranges and rangelands of the Rocky Mountain West, while the easternmost section of the state is a high altitude prairie region known as the High Plains. While it is the ninth largest U.S. state by size, it is the least populous (second behind Alaska).

Wyoming is more scenic than Nebraska- but still, the roads are long and boring!!  The road just keeps going, and going, and going . . .  At one point, I saw a group of antelope – when I told Kevin I saw antelope, he laughed!  (Okay, sometimes I get the name of an animal wrong- but I was pretty sure that these were antelope, and he was pretty sure that I was mistaken).  We had already seen a coyote pouncing on something on a hillside next to the road and were on the lookout for more wildlife (always looking for a photo op!).

We stopped at a rest area in Cheyenne, Wyoming and read their informational sign and guess what- -there actually are antelope in Wyoming!  We stopped to get gas as we left the rest area and a horribly loud siren started going off.  We are pretty sure that it was a weather siren, but we weren’t sure what it meant (what’s the point of the ear piercing noise if you have no idea what it means??)  As we got back on the highway we could see that there was some weather ahead, but I kept telling Kevin that it was going to miss us (which it did – is it possible that I was right twice in the same day??) 

I kept myself busy looking for things to take pictures of – the antelope, cows, hay, some of the storms around us. . . but all day, I was trying to get a shot of a hawk – I saw three of them perched on a fence or sign, but when you are going 75 miles an hour, it’s hard to get the shot!  Tomorrow is another day, right?

We are in a very small town called Rock Springs and we can’t wait to leave- this is our least favorite hotel of the trip (what did Kevin call it?  Oh yeah . . . a little skeevy).  I’ve been trying to put a positive spin on it (we have stayed in worse, blah, blah, blah) but it’s not my favorite either. 

It looks like we will run into some bad weather tomorrow – there is a BIG STORM coming across the mountains and they are saying snow in the mountains!  YIKES!!!  We are going to get up early and see how far we can get.   All I know is- we’re NOT staying here!

One more thing- I included a couple of pictures just for Maribeth and Bill- I thought you would enjoy seeing a Wyoming golf course :) 

Drug-free Thursday

Happy Thursday!!  We drove from Iowa, half way thru Nebraska today.  As Kevin says, we drove thru Ne”freakin’braska.  There’s not much to see, not much fun to be had.  Well, how much fun can you have with 4 cats and a dog in the car anyway?  We’ve been trying to “enjoy the ride”.  There is no stopping “just for fun” and seeing the sights – we have animals to worry about!!  Everyone did really well today with no drugs.  Well, almost everybody.  We were just entering Nebraska when Yogi let out this possessed scream, which made me miss the “Welcome to Nebraska” sign. 

Yogi has IBS (which, loosely translated, means that the veterinarians don’t know what is wrong with his tummy, so they call it Irritable Bowel Syndrome).  Needless to say, when we crossed the border to Nebraska, his bowel was clearly irritated.  Poor kitty.  We had to stop, remove him from his crate, do some clean up, call the vet and then administer meds.  It turns out that Yogi is the only one that cannot participate in the drug free days.  He needs the drugs to help keep his tummy from FREAKING OUT! 

All I will say is, it was bad.  If we could have pulled over sooner, we would have- but we were right in the middle of one of those areas where if you got off the highway, you would be lost forever.  I delt with the cat, Kevin delt with the mess (poor Kevin!).  It took a little while for us to recover- but the rest of the trip went very smoothly.  Yogi got his meds, he slept and made it all the way to North Platt, Nebraska.

We enjoyed seeing the wind powered turbines- it is amazaing how HUGE they really are.  We saw a few of the blades for the turbines go by on trucks and they were enormous!  So cool.

We wish we had more “fun stuff” to share- but we are just making our way. . . we did start marking off all of the license plates that we see.  We have seen alot of California plates and we have still seen LOTS of CORN.  More corn than you can even imagine.  And some soy beans.  Today we started to see some more cows- they are so cute- how can people eat them??  (Kevin says, because they are tasty!)  A few truck loads of adorable little pigs went by today.  I wish I could have taken a picture of their cute little noses (again, Kevin had to mention that they are tasty.)  Every time we saw horses, they were huddled up as if they were in conference.  What do you think they are discussing out there?  Can’t wait to get to a state where there are some curves in the road!!

CORN!!!!

That is all we have seen for the last 540 miles!!!  Miles and miles of corn fields!  Today we passed thru Indiana, Illinois and ended up in Iowa (Grinnell, Iowa to be exact).  Every hour or so, one of us would say, “look honey, CORN!!”.  I thought it would be funny if we showed up to the hotel and there was some corn to take a picture of. . . . we pulled into the parking lot and . . . we are not making this up  . . .CORN!!!

Our hotel last night was AWESOME!!!  It was a 2 bedroom suite, and we had a yummy breakfast.  The best part was, my cousin Nathan made a special trip -he drove home from Kentucky last night, getting in at 2:00 am, and came over at 8:00 am this morning.  It was SO GREAT to see him – he has grown up into such a wonderful man- what a sweetie! :)  We hit the road at about 9:20 am and finally arrived at the hotel at 5:30 pm (well, really it was 6:30 pm, but we changed time zones!)  It was just about an hour too long!!  Everyone was ready to get out of the car! 

Tomorrow I am instituting a “drug free” day for the kitties.  Monkey howls no matter how much we give him, Zuni spends half of the day trying to claw her way out of her crate, and Ashley and Yoga are totally zoned out.  I feel bad.  We’ll see how they do tomorrow.  It seems to me that Monkey just slept under his little pad in his crate last time- but now he is all confused and upset.  We will let you know how it goes- we can always drug them, right???

We are in the middle of nowhere but we managed to get some yummy Mexican food for dinner!  Only four more days!!! 

It sounded like a perfect plan …

We were sure that we had thought of everything – we made a bunch of shots of espresso to bring along with us so we wouldn’t have to hunt for a Starbucks every morning, we boiled some eggs to bring so we would have something to eat if the breakfast at the hotel wasn’t good, and we brought lots of snacks; turkey, string cheese, trail mix, carrots and hummus.  All in the hopes of trying to eat healthy while we are on the road!  But there is just something about being on the road that makes you want yummy, not-very-good-for-you food!  We are trying to be good – we don’t want to get to the end of our trip and need a new wardrobe :)   We will see how it goes – it’s almost like we want to reward ourselves for the long monotonous hours on the road!

Welcome to Ohio!We made it to West Chester, Ohio today and we took the scenic route – not intentionally, it’s just the way “Jill” (our GPS) took us- maybe there is no other way, but this felt like the scenic route!  By the way, we were on Highway 52, the “Ohio Scenic Byway” – and we are using the term “scenic” loosely – there was not much to see!  Just old coal mining towns and occassional glimpes of the river that we were driving along .

Cali gets to blow off some steam!

Cali burning off some steam!

We got to see my Mom & Rick.  They have a little kitty named “Taz” and he was NOT happy about Cali’s visit.  In fact, he wasn’t very happy to see me either – I got hissed at, twice!!  I also got to see my Uncle Bob, Aunt Colleen, my cousin Tammy and her two little girls, Lili and Faith.  I had hoped to see my cousin Nathan- I haven’t seen him in 15 years (yikes!) – but he was working in Kentucky.  He said he might try to see me in the morning, at least to give me a hug (what a sweetie!!).  When I talked to him, he said he was 980 feet in the air (and he answered his cell phone – twice!).  I hope I get to see him – it has been a long time and he’s a grown man with two kids now!  Cali had a blast running around the back yard and chewing on sticks – I’m sure she is going to sleep well tonight!

It was a nice visit and now we are back in the hotel.  The kitties seem pretty relaxed, even little Zuni is out checking the place out!  The hotel is pretty cool- this was the last room they had in the hotel and it is a two bedroom suite – lots of room for the kitties to move around.  They have been little troopers so far.

Tomorrow we drive to Iowa – hopefully we will miss the weather in the area and have a nice dry drive thru Indiana and Illinois.

Cali has a sweet ride in the minivan :)  Doesn’t she look comfy??

Cali chillin in the minivan.

Cali chillin in the minivan.

On the road again . .

We packed up and left Fort Mill, South Carolina today.   It took the movers about 3 hours to load all of our belongings into a truck and hit the road.  It took us about 45 minutes to get everything into the minivan to leave!  The four kitties got their pills and were pretty good for the trip.  Monkey howled (not very enthusiastically) every time we talked to each other, just to  let us know he was still there!  We caught some water skiing on Lake Norman and were lucky enough to catch the “Welcome to” signs for Virginia and West Virginia  . . and also, the road to nowhere😉

We made our way through North Carolina, Virginia and ended up in West Virginia (Barboursville, VW to be exact).  The kitties are hanging out in the hotel room – (they are coming down from their drugs . . .hopefully, they won’t keep us up all night!!)  We are relaxing and watching “How I Met Your Mother” and ” Two and a Half Men”.  I’m sure we’ll be knocked out soon after . . . moving really wears you out!!!!  We will keep you posted on our progress – tomorrow, West Chester Ohio -woohoo!!

How Auspicious . . .

Just another reminder!

Just another reminder to slow down!

 

This morning, Kevin and I were both up at 3:00 am.  You know how it is, you have so much on your mind that you can’t sleep, and there you are . . . watching infomercials in the dark.  This always seems to happen when I get stressed out.  First of all, I quit doing all of the things that help me manage stress, like yoga and meditating (duh!).  We both decided that we need to meditate today and get our heads straight!

We were eating a yummy lunch from the Chinese restaurant watching people pass by our front window and everyone was pointing up at the corner on the front of our house.  We thought that they must be looking at one of the kitties upstairs in the window, but Kevin went to check it out – and there she was, this beautiful Praying Mantis, just hanging out on the front of our house!

Kevin ran in to look up the meaning (usually animals show up in your life for a reason, you just have to be paying attention!) and this is what he found out:

The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we’ve flooded our lives with so much business, activity, or chaos that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us because of the external din we’ve created.

After observing this creature for any length of time you can see why the symbolism of the praying mantis deals with stillness and patience. The mantis takes her time, and lives her life at her own silent pace.

These traits have lead the mantis to be a symbol of meditation and contemplation. In fact, in China, the mantis has long been honored for her mindful movements.

The mantis never makes a move unless she is 100% positive it is the right thing for her to do. This is a message to us to contemplate and be sure our minds and souls all agree together about the choices we are making in our lives.

Overwhelmingly in most cultures the mantis is a symbol of stillness. As such, she is an ambassador from the animal kingdom giving testimony to the benefits of meditation, and calming our minds.

An appearance from the mantis is a message to be still, go within, meditate, get quiet and reach a place of calm. It may also a sign for you to be more mindful of the choices you are making and confirm that these choices are congruent.

WOW!!!  Kevin went out to take a picture of her, and she LOOKED RIGHT AT HIM!!  He got such a cool shot, we had to share it.  The message won’t be lost on us, like we said, we plan to take our time and enjoy the ride – I guess we can try doing that with the packing too!