Saturday, December 31, 2011

Barclay’s Birthday!

Beautiful Barclay is 4 years old this year (his Birthday was on Christmas Eve, when I took these pictures). To celebrate we went out and played stickball and played with the hose to cool off when we were done. Not that it was hot, it was like 50 degrees out, but the dogs love to play hard, and cool off in the trough!
Stickball is Barclay’s favorite game in the world – basically a ball on a rope on the end of a stick. He’s nuts for it!
The crazy aerobatics are the best part – watch out for flying eskimos!

Navi isn’t quite as insane for the stickball, but she’s getting better at it. She even gets it away from Barclay once in a while, but he’s the champ!

Barclay always gets the ball back in the end.
Barclay never wants to give the ball back, though he knows chasing it is the best part.

Navi took a dip in the pond and then got back in the game


Then it was time to cool off. I love Barclay’s look – that totally says he thinks she should get out of the way and let him have HIS hose!
Bark bark bark – give me MY HOSE!


Then Navi gets good and wet…
And gives everyone a shower!

Happy Birthday Barclay!



Part 2 of my ‘where I work’ post will include: where I work!


This is the historic Postal Building in downtown Portland. Built in 1901, it is on the register of historic places.


It is a lovely building. The offices are all around the outside of the building, and there is a big open atrium in the middle, with a glass skylight in the roof and an elevator in the middle. I try to take the stairs whenever I can for extra exercise!

Our breakroom has a view across the street, where we can watch the goings-on at the offices in the Dekum, another historic building (1891) with a really neat exterior with lots of carved details.



We can also see creepy Santa from there, he’s motion activated and turns his head to follow people, and dances.


Luckily creepy Santa retired after Christmas!



When I get off work it’s dark out, but it’s in a pretty populated part of town, so it feels pretty safe. I only have to walk 3 blocks to catch my bus.



I walk by this neat gearhead bar with a cool old Indian bike in the window.



I was catching the bus for two weeks before I turned around and noticed this was next to the bus stop – uh oh, hold on to your wallets!

That’s the total of my adventure so far. I have been hit up by panhandlers a lot, and the only problem came when an aggressive panhandling lady asked me for change from behind me (at first I didn’t even think she was talking to me), and I wasn’t going to turn around and acknowledge her, so I just kept walking, and instead of going after someone else she followed me for a block and a half! I pretended to be deaf, while she was shouting obscenities at me. Luckily she went away finally, I never even saw what she looked like, she was behind me the whole time. I hate situations like that, but it hasn’t happened again. I guess I just need to stay alert and try to walk with the other commuters. When I get off the bus I just try to go the direction the majority of people go and head to work. It’s only two blocks, so how much trouble could I have?

I want to take my camera back soon when we have a nice day of weather, and go out at lunchtime and take pictures. The entire area around my office is historic building, including an historic carriage house building, which I see from the bus. I want to walk over and get a closer look at it sometime.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Morning Commute

At 8am I head off to the 'park and ride'. Today Dave drove, but usually he stays home.

Onto the freeway. Our home in the country is a half hour from the nearest P&R...

Where I catch a bus. Vancouver's C-Tran has very nice buses, at least on the express route.I suspect the in-town buses aren't quite this nice.

If I get the Express we go straight to Portland, but if I get the 'Sort of Express' we make a few stops along the way, and then we cross the Mighty Columbia into Oregon.

The Fremont bridge is the first big bridge we see - it's at the North end of town. The bus goes over it on the way home in the evening, though sometimes they surprise me and take other routes to get around the traffic.

It was pretty foggy, couldn't see much of downtown Portland,

Finally we cross the Willamette River and into downtown.

More tomorrow, because Blogger is being a bear about loading pictures for some reason today.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

First week in my new life

Well, I survived a whole week of work! I didn't think I would ever say this, but so far I really like work. I am still in training, but I really like what I see. The company is well organized, and very disciplined. They have well laid out policies and people have well defined jobs. I'm a software tester/specialist, so I've been primarily learning about the systems and layouts, and hanging over one of the other tester's shoulder and watching him work, and I really think I will have no problem handling the work, once I figure out where all the databases are located! But for now I'm just soaking up everything I can and learning, learning, learning.

As far as the company goes, I would say they are nicer to their employees than any company I've ever worked for. They brag to their customers that they have only a 5% turnover in employees over the 20 years they have been in business! I can see why. They have bonuses, a generous time off policy, free coffee and cocoa, free pop, bowls of fresh fruit, and a friendly atmosphere. This week they had everyone trying on shirts to order company logo shirts - everyone gets three, and they wanted us to pick our favorite colors and try them on to be sure they'd fit so we would actually wear them :) You might not expect the friendly atmosphere, because the business is very strict in some ways. Because it is a high security company, everything is in lock down, everyone has security passes and they are used to unlock doors between offices, and everything is tracked. The email is for company correspondences only, and all conversations are saved, same with IM. Phones must be on vibrate in the office, but can be checked and used at breaks and lunchtime. The internet is for business use only, and I'm sure it is tracked as well. There is no private use of the internet, even during breaks, because it would look bad for a customer tour to come through and see Facebook up on a computer!

Even with these restrictions, people are really happy there, and very hard-working. Everyone has their nose to the grindstone. In IT, as in all IT offices I've ever worked in, things are a little more relaxed than down in production where they are trying to meet performance goals. In IT the productivity is measured differently, and sometimes a 15 minute report ends up taking two hours when things don't turn out to be as simple as they appear. But still, not like any office I've been in before. These folks are hard working, well paid, and happy to do it. I haven't heard anyone say anything bad about the company.

And I have to say, it's contagious. I was really dreading going back to work, but I'm actually enjoying it. It's kind of nice to be away from the farm and around new people and new situations. I really enjoy trouble shooting and problem solving, and so software testing is right up my alley!

Years ago, I traded money for time at home, and I quit my job and came home and we tried to make it on the toy business and starting a little farm. The farm didn't work out, and the toy business got pummeled in the economy, so I had to go back to work. But it's hard to go from complete freedom to 8 hours a day away from home. But that's the way it is, and most of the rest of the country does it too, so I just have to get used to it. Only seeing my husband and dogs for a few hours before bed, and an hour in the morning is pretty tough. Luckily they expect this job to transition to telecommuting eventually, so I'll hold onto that hope!

The commute adds a little over an hour to each end of my day. Half an hour to drive to the bus stop/park & ride, and then 30-45 minutes on the bus. I like riding the bus though, I can't imagine getting downtown any other way. I just sit back and nap or read a book, and they do what they have to do. In order to get around the traffic as much as possible, the drivers talk to each other over the radio and figure out different routes to take. I have been on the bus reading and looked up and found our bus in some surprising places, but the bus always gets us where we're going, and pretty much within the right time, so I have no complaints. Since these are commuter routes, there's no shady characters like I used to see riding the buses downtown when I was a kid, just regular working folks, relaxing and reading their kindles or iPads. I bring a book.

So I'd have to say my overall impression is 'so far - so good'. I can't believe I'm working in Downtown Portland! I spent a year looking for a job, and most of the time I restricted my search to Vancouver, because I didn't want a long commute. But I'm glad I extended my reach a bit. I'm getting in some reading on the bus rides, and I'm kind of star-struck being in the BIG CITY! There are skyscrapers there, for Pete's sake! Bicycle messengers, bums, Pioneer Square, every sort of person you could imagine, all the lights and colors and sounds. I'm looking forward to taking my camera along and getting some pictures soon! It's like a whole different world!


Friday, December 09, 2011

Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip cookies

I believe I have discovered my favorite cookie - ever!

Oatmeal - Peanut Butter - Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found it in my old Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, which I have had since striking out on my own as an adult, but I never ran across that recipe before. I pulled the book down the other evening, looking for an easy cookie recipe I could do with items I already had in the house and there it was. What a wonderful idea! All my favorite cookies rolled into one!

And oh man, are they good...

But not too good. You wouldn't want to sit down and eat a whole tray of these - which I always want to do with chocolate chip cookies, and peanut butter cookies never last long at our house either! But the oatmeal in these make them filling so one or two little cookies, and you feel satisfied, and you've had your little sweet-tooth fix. They're perfect!

Last time I made them I saved half the dough for later, but it was very hard to work after having been refrigerated. So this time I made the extra dough into ready-to-bake portions on parchment paper, and froze them.

It was a little hard to do in my tiny side-by-side freezer compartment, but I fit them in. Once they've frozen I'll bag them up, and then they'll be ready for when I just want to pop a few in the oven for a quick dessert - because there is nothing better than a soft, chewy, warm golden-brown and delicious cookie right out of the oven. 

Go make some, you know you want to...



I saw Mouse sitting out on the front porch and stopped to snap some shots of her. I can't decide which one I like the best. The last one looks the most like her, kind of pissy with her ears back.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Mt St Helens and Fall Colors

It's December, but I'm still finding beautiful fall colors to photograph.

I love the dark red color, and the texture on this one! And those shadows - would you believe it was noon?! The shadows are long here all day this time of year.

Mt St Helens, our local active volcano, sleeping peacefully under the first snow of winter. Barely even covered her up! I keep telling Dave if we get a house with a view of the mountain, I'll never get tired of looking at it. He thinks I will, but I know I won't. It looks different all the time, different light, different clouds, different snow cover. I'd be photographing it all the time.

I found a bird nest that had been hidden in the leaves of this tree all summer,

Not so hidden now! It's the only thing left in the tree!

I just liked the shadows on the white bark of this tree.

All of these pictures were taken from this sidewalk. I even thought the sidewalk itself made an interesting shot.