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31st December 2021

End of the year reflections

TV shows watched: The Great British Bakeoff, Shadow and Bone, Bridgerton, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ted Lasso, Long Way Round, Long Way Down, Long Way Up, Star Trek Discovery, The Mandalorian (season 1), Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki (am I missing any?)

Movies watched: Tick, Tick … Boom, Single All the Way, The Prom, Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Come From Away, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Love Hard. I did not go to the movie theater (they didn’t open up here until June).

Concerts attended: none (cries in pandemic forever). II know I did a virtual concert but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was.

Musicals/Theater attended (masks and vaccination proof required): Jesus Christ Superstar, Mean Girls, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Music listened to: I don’t do spotify so I have nothing “unwrapped.” Adele, Andrew Belle’s latest album, Darren Criss’s EP Masquerade and A Very Darren Crissmas, Lil Nas X’s Montero (Call Me By Your Name).

Favorite tiktoks/youtube follows: Dr. Glaucomflecken, B Dylan Hollis, Nerdforge

Fanfic written: I finished off the last 4 chapters of sure like never before in January and February and then I spent the rest of the year writing these inconvenient fireworks, which I finished the last week in November. 52,000 words this year.

Books read: Sometime near the start of the pandemic in 2020, I joined a facebook group dedicated to reading Rilla of Ingleside, which triggered a rekindling in my interest in books. As a former book worm, it’s rather astonishing how little books I’ve read in the last decade – I’ve read many other things, newspapers and magazines and fanfiction, but very few books.

I set a goal of reading 20 books this year. I surpassed that and read 49 books this year (I don’t think I’ll get to 50 by midnight.

You can read all of my reviews on goodreads.

Favorite book: The House In the Cerulean Sea. By far. I spent the rest of the year trying to recapture the feeling that that book gave me.

Book that I thought I had read before but most definitely did not and it haunted me forever and I’m still not sure if I understand what happened. Liar. No really, what was that ending?

Word I can happily never see again in a plus-size romance: voluptuous (I think plus-sized romances aren’t my thing).

Book everybody should read: The Sum of Us. Really well-written and researched.

Books attempted but did not finish:
The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky. I had forgotten how much I had hated the protagonist in the first book (I liked the plot! I liked the secondary characters. I hated Monty.) and couldn’t get through it. And I just got The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy from the library – we’ll see if the third times the charm.
The Essex Serpent. I tried. It’s going to be a movie. Maybe I’ll watch it and then try again.

Number of camping trips: 2 (Oregon coast and Wyoming).

Number of plane trips: 2 (Utah/Wyoming for camping with the family in July, and Arizona to see the family in October. Hopefully maybe more in 2022?)

Weather disasters endured: ice storm in February, heat domes in June and July, atmospheric rivers in September.

Number of houses bought: 1

Number of houses bought and regretted: …. zero?

Number of repairs still needed on house: *cries*

Number of items knitted: 3 scarves, the body of a doll which is still dismembered…

Amount of yarn purchased: *shifty eyes*.

All of the books by genre below the cut…

Read the rest of this entry »

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2nd November 2021

the common denominator

When I was cleaning up the cross-post yesterday, because the wordpress plug-in I use always leaves all of these spaces between each paragraph, I accidentally clicked on one of the tag links on the side bar. Liz. My old college friend and roommate. Two posts down, I noticed that I had said something about how she was moving out.

I have absolutely no recollection of that happening. None.

My memory from those years, when I was in med school and trying to keep from drowning, was that she moved out when she got married six months when I was in Kenya, about 6 months before I graduated. The entries I made about her moving out were in May 2004, nearly two years before then.

I keep searching through my memories and I can’t recall where she lived. Did I visit her? Her sisters lived with me at some point, both of them. Was that before or after?

I don’t like these holes.

I’m … not doing well emotionally. Just this feeling that the earth keeps turning and I just … ride. I can’t separate out the years from each other – even this pandemic has now become where its existed forever.

I’m lonely. I live with my sister and we get along for the most part, so that’s a help in terms of being around other humans. But I only have one friend here that I see on a regular basis. Work colleagues I’ll meet up with dinner once every few months or longer and that died with the pandemic too.

Nearly all of my friendships from college and med school have withered and died. I’m still friends with Liz. I stay with her when I visit SLC, which may be why I was so stunned to read that we had had such a falling out 15 years ago. It’s a long distance friendship though and we’re not as close as we once were.

I haven’t heard from Chris in a year – I texted him a couple of times during those early months in the pandemic when he was getting slammed and he called once. His youngest was born with down syndrome three years ago. We talked a few weeks after she was born and he never mentioned it. I found out from a news article that his wife posted three months later after the baby had undergone some sort of medical procedure. It hurt too much to try to preserve that friendship, when it was all one-sided.

It’s been a year since my last conversation with Susan, where it felt like I had forced her into talking to me as a birthday present. I haven’t tried again.

They’re all gone now.

I had made my peace years ago about never having a romantic partner because I had been so richly blessed with these deep friendships. Just a few short years ago, I would make road trip plans, where I could see everybody and those plans would become longer and longer as I tried to fit everybody in.

I try not to dwell on the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong with me, but it’s been festering, destroying me from the inside. I’m the common denominator, after all. And I don’t know what to do about that.

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1st November 2021

I swore I’d never get a stash

Pictured: yarn I bought in the last 2 days

I also never thought that I’d have favorite yarns, but these definitely are very high up on the list. Rasta by Malabrigo, thick, bulky single ply merino wool in utterly delicious colors and feels like you’re knitting clouds. I made two scarves last year with it for my mom and dad:

The scarves were a lot of fun to knit – a simple pattern that knit up quickly but still looked complex and easy to tell where I made a mistake. I think I’m going to try some different patterns this time.

I can knit 4 scarves by Christmas, yeah?

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30th October 2021

Update

Update

Luckily, only about 15-20 feet of siding will need to be replaced, rather than the 50 that I had feared. The rest of the siding look okay – there was flashing over the foundation further down that drew a lot of the moisture away. I’ll be getting the siding replaced in late January. In the meantime, there’s now a railing so people don’t fall and some plastic to protect the foundation until I can get a landscaper to come in and build a french drain and grate it. I’m thinking about putting down paver stones or tiles, with planters maybe, to make the space more usable and attractive – give me your thoughts!

I had the back portion of the fence removed to access the area. I might put up a gate there, I don’t know.

I also installed a new bit of railing on the front deck. It looks a little awkward, but I’ve had three people miss the two steps when they’ve visited and fall and it’s only because they were friends/family that they didn’t sue.

The gutters got cleaned out thoroughly, though, which is a huge worry off my plate. It should help with the water that collected in the crawl space last spring (and probably collecting again this fall). The downspouts still need to be fixed as does the chimney flashing.

I got somebody to come by to give an estimate for painting the house. It’s been a week and I haven’t heard back. I messaged another company to get an estimate, you know, so I can make an informed, compared decision, and also have heard nothing. It’s majorly frustrating.

I just realized that I didn’t show you all pictures of the deck after it was power washed. It looks good. There’s still a few boards that need to be replaced but I should be able to replace those and get it stained and sealed this spring.

I’ve mentioned that my house is all deck, right?
Before
After
Back deck and landing

All this to just get the house to a “maintained” level.

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23rd October 2021

the rotting state

the rotting state

When we first moved into this house, on the inspection, I noted several boards that were rotting on the back deck. The deck was virtually unusable when it rained (which, since I live in the pacific northwest is often) because it was so slick and it was always covered coated with leaves and decaying matter (landlord had people come through and remove leaves once a year but stopped after I got angry that they were removing ALL grasses on the hill beneath the trees so it was just eroding away). Anyway, noted problems but my landlord didn’t do anything about them.

Last November, I looked out the window and noted that there was a hole in one of the boards and texted the landlord, who did nothing about it.

When I purchased the house, the sale was delayed because the bank wouldn’t authorize the mortgage until the back deck was fixed, which landlord refused to pay for (it was an issue). In the end, I had the worst of the boards replaced and the house closed.

I always knew that I’d have to replace the back deck, so I hired a friend who came out this week and started on the project. He power-washed the front deck for two days and it sparkles – I’ll only have to replace a few more boards there and will get it stained and sealed in the spring and it’ll be nice. I’m excited about that.

But when he moved to the back deck, he noted an area where there was moss and rot into the siding. We removed boards and the rot is more extensive than I had feared. I’m going to have to replace the lower part of siding across that entire side of the house.

We’re removing the deck, all except for the steps down. I have to get a landscaper to come and grate it and put in a french drain to deal with the water and maybe put in concrete. It needs a retaining wall.

I had hoped to paint the house in the spring. But I can’t until these problems are fixed.

(The washer also started leaking and needs to be replaced, although I think I may be able to delay that at least another couple of weeks so I can look for the holiday deals).

(I finally got somebody to answer my emails/texts/voice messages to schedule cleaning my gutters this week. So there’s that at least.)

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24th July 2021

The years start coming and they don’t stop

The years start coming and they don't stop

It dawned on me a couple of weeks ago that it’s been 20 years since I graduated college, 15 years since I graduated medical school, and 10 years since I finished residency.

I honestly can’t take in those numbers.

Three of my college friends have kids who just graduated high school, the first of my friend group. Thankfully none of them have become grandparents yet , but that probably isn’t too far off.

I don’t like aging. My hips hurt, my back is a mess of clenching, radiating pain. My hand, injured nearly 5 years ago, stiffens when writing my endless notes and will never be back to how it was before the injury and surgery. I haven’t had anybody say in a voice of disbelief that I’m too young to be a doctor for years now. I’m firmly middle-aged now.

I was reading over some of my posts from back when I was in medical school and in residency today, when I flirted with Cute Intern in my sleep-deprived state and tried to figure out how to have a social life. I miss those friends. We are so far flung these days with only a few comments on facebook to keep us in touch.

I went home last week for a week of vacation – went to Wyoming with my family, including my sister and her kids, to go camping and do some hiking (well they did. My body does not tolerate much hiking in the heat), and then to Utah for a couple of days. I got together with my Plethora friends prior to flying out – getting together with them does feel timeless.

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11th May 2021

Here we go again

Ten years ago (what), I moved from Milwaukee and put my house up for sale, because I couldn’t afford to supplement the cost of owning a home while renting in San Francisco. It didn’t sell. It took 10 months of negotiations and finding another agent and the bank threatening me with foreclosure before I finally got closure through a short sale. It ruined my credit for years and was such a horrible, soul-sucking, terrible experience that I swore off home ownership forever.

Fast forward a year or so later. I got my dream job in Portland, OR, and I flew out to look at apartments and houses to rent in May before I started. It was really discouraging with not a lot of options in the neighborhoods that I wanted. The day before I left, I stumbled across a new listing for a little bungalow on a quiet street and I managed to tract down the landlord and rented it on the spot. It was a cute place, but quite small. Later, I would find out that it was a sauna in the summer with no air movement and had mice that haunted me and freezing toilet pipes and windows that didn’t close in the bedroom and a foundation that was sagging into the earth. Multiple problems. So many problems. A couple of years later, my landlord threatened me with selling it, didn’t, and then jacked up the price, making me start to look again to move.

When I moved to Portland, I drove with my parents from Utah with a UHaul and we leaped frogged with another UHaul the entire way – and then they turned down the same little road where I was moving, just a few houses up. And that’s how I first got to know Mitch and Julie and their darling little girls. Mitch had moved here for medical school and we all became friends. A couple of years later they moved to a bigger house just next door and one summer I watered their plants while they were gone and I fell in love with the twilight walk down the little driveway to the hidden house framed with trees. When we’d visit, I loved the lofted ceiling and sky lights and the much bigger size, so when Mitch matched for residency in Florida, I pounced on getting info from their landlord. Two months later, Karin and I moved in.

Fast forward to the middle of February this year, (two days after a major ice storm that left me without power for 30 hours and dropped a tree that broke my driver side mirror, btw), my landlord informed me that he was selling the house where I’ve lived for the last 3 and a half years, which sent me into a panic.

The short story is that I ended up purchasing the house because in the end it was the best option of really terrible options. The housing market in Portland is insane and the rental market equally so and has gotten worse in the last couple of months and you add in a pandemic – well, you get the picture.

The house has flaws. It’s a quirky house with weird angles. I hate the stupid squatty garage that doesn’t fit my car. The little driveway is a beast to get out of when there’s the slightest amount of snow and there’s no real turning space so I have to back down it every day. The yard is all deck, layers of deck, so much deck that hasn’t been properly maintained for years. But I still love the skylights and the little window seat in the bedroom that overlooks the trees and I love my neighbors and I love the neighborhood and none of its flaws are as bad as that first house.

I’m not exactly happy about becoming a homeowner again. I think, and nothing has convinced me otherwise in the last decade since I had to short sell my home in Milwaukee, that home ownership is a sham. I don’t think homes should be this expensive and I’m a little mad that I’m getting into this again and hoping beyond hope that the housing market won’t collapse on me again. And even as the “best option” buying this house was traumatizing and horrible. My landlord, whom I had had a fairly decent relationship with before, in that he was responsive to things needing to be fixed promptly, became a manipulative dick. He gave me 2 days notice that he was coming by to take pictures of the place to list it with an open house that weekend, then did a “”I’d love to sell it to you but I need to see what I’m going to get and then we can talk,” changed his mind the next day and said “why don’t you just buy it and we won’t do the open house, etc,” gave me an offer, and then pulled a “oh hey the neighbors want to buy it and they’ll pay me $20,000 more” bullshit. The appraisal from the bank was delayed – first, the appraisal guy quit two weeks later, before submitting the report so the entire process had to be repeated, and then, the second appraiser stating that the dry rot on the back deck had to be fixed prior to issuing the loan. My landlord refused to pay for the cost of the repair (it eventually came out of my security deposit) and when it finally was “repaired,” it was shoddily and incompletely done. But it was enough that the bank finally approved the loan and I closed a couple of weeks ago.

I have to have the gutters cleaned and the drain pipes replaced because water is pooling at the edges of the house and there’s a small amount of water in the crawlspace. The decks need to be replaced, but with lumbar at such a premium price right now, I’m hoping to get a few of the still rotting boards replaced, and then the whole thing pressure-washed, sanded and then stained, so I can get a couple more years out of it. I need to repaint the exterior because it’s got algae and needs better protection and probably hasn’t been repainted in the 35 years since it was built. Maybe after that, I can relax a little bit.

Enjoy the pictures that were taken for the listing – we did a mad amount of cleaning for 48 hours straight to get it “open house” ready. The nicest thing about this whole thing was that I didn’t have to move again.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”4″ gal_title=”New” House”]

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1st January 2021

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

I have been looking forward to days of more sun for a while now. I’m a night owl in general and I find comfort in the night usually. I work so much at night and I love my drives home, especially when it’s a little foggy and the street lamps make halos in the haze. But this year. This year has been one of sleepless nights and bleak days, where I’ve struggled to connect or do anything important. It’s been hard to be positive about anything in a world of lies and conspiracy theories, when I’ve come to despise people that used to be family (it’s true that the falling out happened years ago, but it felt more “in my face” this year seeing how little they cared on posted on social media).

So this year, I lit a candle and watched the solstice dawn over Stonehenge and listened to Loreena McKennitt and the world has felt a little brighter since then.

A foggy morning at Stonehenge. Appropriate for this year, as things slowly become brighter.

Karin and I made a “Christmas tree” out of the yarn swift. I thought it was quite festive.

I’m quite aware that the marking of a year is an arbitrary thing, that the earth rotates around the sun, which rotates around the galaxy, which rotate around more galaxies, regardless of whether we humans acknowledge it or not. And yet, there’s is something hopeful about turning a page and starting afresh.

Happy new year, my dear friends. So glad to still be here, with you, on another rotation.

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    • End of the year reflections January 1, 2022
      TV shows watched: The Great British Bakeoff, Shadow and Bone, Bridgerton, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ted Lasso, Long Way Round, Long Way Down, Long Way Up, Star Trek Discovery, The Mandalorian (season 1), Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki (am I missing any?) Movies watched: Tick, Tick … Boom, Single All the Way, […]