Friday, January 1, 2010

Ending 2009 - Starting 2010

A highlight of the holidaze was video-conferencing with Stefan's family back in Germany on Christmas Eve. We did some screen-captures of the video call - the photo at left is the best. Unfortunately, we didn't screen capture Stefan's Grandmother (Cyber Oma) at the start of the call, and it's a shame, because it was my favorite moment -- she got such a kick out of it! Stefan's extended family is quite tight-knit, and it's been fascinating to be a part of such. I'm not used to it -- and I love it! His cousins and I write each other and I've invited them all to come stay with us. I really hope they do.

Stefan's parents also called us after midnight on NYE - it was about 10 a.m. their time. We were watching our Sean the Sheep DVD and drinking some really yummy "Barefoot Bubbly" Extra Dry Champagne (and I mean really yummy). Later on New Year's Day, I watched most of the "Buffy" marathon (first time I've ever watched it in the USA). All in all, a good way to end 2009 and start the new year.

* * *
Christmas was very low key. Anne came up from San Francisco and cooked an amazing meal for us (leftovers gone in record time). I made dinner one night with our fabulous Maggi sauce from Germany and I made breakfast Christmas morning (turkey bacon is tasty, but you have to use two entire packages to get enough grease for milk gravy). I didn't get to resume one of my favorite Christmas traditions: watching the oh-so-classic A Christmas Story. Next year, for sure! One of our neighbors had the lamp from the movie in their window! We also got to visit Powell's City of Books for the first time. That's... wow. I managed to get out of the store buying only two used books. I'll have to stay away from there, for sure. Too tempting. Our last night together was spent watching The Great Escape, with Anne commenting on Steve McQueen and me commenting on James Garner, and Anne, Stefan and I having way too much fun altering an advertisement for Dr. Who.

Santa brought us each a small stocking filled with chocolate, Scotch and vodka Christmas morning. Stefan got me Ken Burns' Lewis & Clark DVD and It's Not News It's Fark (book), and I got him the remastered Fawlty Towers DVDs ("Don't mention the war!") and a pocket compass. We've already watched all the DVDs - Fawlty Towers just gets funnier and funnier every time you watch it. I loved the Lewis & Clark DVD (as did Stefan), but I think I liked reading Undaunted Courage even better. We've seen so much of Lewis & Clark's route without even trying to. For some reason, it gave me chills to think of that party seeing Mt. Hood.

* * *
The first seven months of 2009 were pretty good: we went to Rome in January, had a great time in Louisville for the summer (and got my motorcycle license), drove cross-country and camped all over the USA in July. The last five months had some highlights: I bought a motorcycle in September, I went riding with my husband (realization of a longtime dream), Albi became an Internet sensation, we enjoyed the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest and got to know the terrific German community in the area, and I went to Serbia in December. And I got some good consulting gigs in 2009, some of the best I've ever had in terms of the kind of work and the pay.

But those last five months of 2009 were rough, and the constant disappointments made us question our decision to move not only to Portland, but to the USA as a whole. Tears have been shed. We're longing for that "I'm glad we moved here" moment. And our patience is running thin.

In 2010, what I want even more than a full-time job is for Stefan to get an Oregon title for his motorcycle and to get to resume his volunteer firefighting career. I'm not kidding, I want those two things more than a job. Those two things would transform both of our feelings about Oregon instantly.

We both are in dire need of travel, not just for work. I'm hoping for our first car camping trip of 2010 with Albi by April, and our first motorcycle camping trip soon after. Suggestions for sites and routes welcomed!

And before any of you write me about the importance of a positive attitude, please read How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich. She's my hero and expresses exactly how I feel about Oprah-like attitudes. Bah humbug.

* * *
Do you know someone running a small cleaning company in the USA? I'm volunteering with an organization helping Afghan entrepreneurs. I must find a USA company manager to talk to a person in Afghanistan via (Skype or email), with me facilitating communications, regarding the realities of setting up/running a cleaning company for businesses, homes and maybe clinics & hospitals. Do you know someone running a small cleaning company in the USA that might fit the bill? Please give me their email or give them mine:
jc "at"

* * *
In the waning days of 2009, Stefan got to see most of The Day the Earth Stood Still, one of the greatest movies ever made (and I don't mean that dreadful remake). Soooooo far ahead of its time. Don't you love the Glen Beck moment (the radio guy/scaremonger)? If you haven't seen this film in a while, you need to.

* * *
STOP THE PRESSES: I'm about to say something nice about Canby! Ready?

Nice library. In particular, a nice used-books-for-sale section, and SUPER nice staff. We're very happy to have library cards now.

* * *
No viewing of the Dakar Rally for Stefan this year. He's pretty bummed out about it. Yet another disappointment. I thought for sure that, if we couldn't find a highlight show on TV somewhere, we could find a bar somewhere in or around Portland that might be showing a TV channel that features highlights. No dice. Comcast's VERSUS network is showing race highlights every day, but we don't get that channel on DirectTV (and if we switched to Comcast, we'd lose a lot of channels we love).

I'm also looking for where University of Kentucky basketball fans might gather to watch UK games in or around Portland. But Google has turned up nothing so far. I hope that by blawging about it now it might show up in some search and connect me with a group.

* * *

Just re-read The Chosen, a book I read back in college. I loved it even more this time around. One of the things that I find particularly striking is that one studies the Torah, one does not merely read it, and to study the Torah, one reads various versions of the Torah (acknowledging right up front that different versions exist) and various commentaries on such, as well as discussing it, even debating it, with others regularly. I wonder why so many (most?) Christians and Muslims emphasize only memorization of their holy books and are in complete denial that there are multiple versions of each?

* * *

And that's my first post of 2010. Ta Da.

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