First Things First!
We stayed at this house three different times in the space of a few months and decided to roll all the fun into one post: here goes.
While house sitting in Albuquerque, we had a FaceTime conversation with the owner here and agreed to a two-week house sit. Later on, after we returned to Portland, they asked if we’d add a short, three-day stay before the original dates.
Much later on, we also did a third house sit with them. We covered three seasons there: fall, winter, and spring.
Before the first stay, we had a delicious dinner with the owner, met the four-legged crew, and went over the routines and chores involved.
We decided right then and there that this homeowner won the prize for the most detailed instruction sheets ever! She had thought of everything we might need for any event short of a zombie apocalypse.
A Bit About Portland
Portland is a bustling city with a comparatively small population of well under a million. Maybe anyone stuck in rush hour traffic downtown or on I 84 or I 5 will not agree with that comment, but we speak from the perspective of Los Angeles. Then again, lots of Angelenos have moved to Portland, enough to be a concern to the “Keep Portland Weird” crowd.
The Willamette River bisects the town, flowing north towards the Columbia. Rivers are a big deal up this way. So are bridges. There are eleven of those in town helping folks go to and fro. By the way, it’s not pronounced Will-am-MET! Closer to will-LAM-mit.
Back to This Home
In many ways, the neighborhood we were in resembled the Hollywood Hills back in Los Angeles. The streets wound every which way around the hills, homes tucked into every nook and cranny. Some old, some new, all with a view. We found gorgeous new modern homes next door to older, classic cottages, ranch houses, and stately Tudors. It all made for compelling viewing while walking dogs.
This house had a great yard for the dogs and us – a moss lover’s paradise! Since the neighborhood was hilly, there were stunning views to the west with mountain tops 30 or 40 miles away. The elevation in this part of town called for decks and porches; the homes around here deliver that in spades.
One big difference: Hollywood Hills – all sun, no rain. Portland Hills – reverse those. Everything here is a deep or bright green and wet. Flashy, imported convertibles are not so common in these parts.
This home was filled with books and art. A very comfortable place to spend a rainy day inside, and there were more than a few of those. One favorite painting could have been a scene from any road east of where Jim grew up: massive blue sky with lazy white clouds over a field of grain, flat as can be, nothing blocking the horizon in any direction.
More likely a scene in France, but it’s strangely familiar. Friendly like the hosts and their dogs.
Now the Poodle and the Doodle
A 13-year old Standard Poodle and a nine-year-old Miniature Goldendoodle. They were both friendly and easy-going.
The doodle was always close by and would find you no matter where you went. The mature Poodle had her favorite places and sat for hours, seldom stirring, head held high between naps. Overall, she was a little less interested in humans than her housemate.
Though slightly built, even thin, she had a surprisingly deep growl when the FedEx truck stopped across the street, or gardeners came to work nearby.
Fed twice a day, she lay down to eat, something we hadn’t seen before or since. She ate carefully, slowly, seldom finishing at one time.
He, on the other hand, had one of those ‘food dishes’ that make eating fast an impossibility: brilliant invention. Even so, he was through with eating quickly and ready to move on to the next activity.
The girl had quite a medications routine: lots of pills and eye drops, morning and evening. She would put up with it out of kindness, but it wasn’t her favorite thing. That would be walking the perimeter of the back yard, along with sleeping.
The fellow’s favorite thing was whatever was going on right then. He was always up for it. We’ve found that to be a common trait in the doodle breeds. Very alive, alert and communal. They would throw a party if they could.
Walks around the neighborhood were a favorite for us all allowing us to keep tabs on a nearby stream and various neighbors’ remodel projects. During the span of our visits, that stream went from a trickle to a gushing current.
We were surprised how contractors worked even through the heaviest rain. That’s an automatic day off in Los Angeles. Here, they just kept at it whether working outside, pouring concrete, or even up on a roof.
A Little of This and That
Jim’s favorite team, the Broncos, showed up for the Super Bowl this particular year and even took the trophy home. Perhaps you watched the game. If so, you know that Denver didn’t so much win the game as not lose it. Still, they all got rings. And he got to watch it with his son. A fine day all around.
In a way, our blog started during this house sit. We had been sharing an old laptop which was all right, but things could get awkward at times and progress was slow. The neighborhood electronics store helped us out with a fancy new laptop. We were official now. All high-tech and ready to roll.
Angela, ever since then, has made her way into the technical parts of the blog world and started writing up a storm. Sometimes we sit and work next to each other. She’s off and running down the trail, and I’m still lacing up my shoes. That’s kind of how it is with lots of things.
The Last Day of the Sit
House sitters the world over will know about this. Things are all cleaned up, packed up, and you wait to make the handoff to your returning hosts. There’s not enough time to get into anything else really, so you wait. Maybe delete old emails or watch some reruns.
This time we were entertained by a terrific hail storm about 5 pm, the last hour of the last day. The hail turned the yard and patio white after making enough noise hitting the roof to drown out a buzz saw. They have winter in these parts.
One thing we don’t do, as guests in other folk’s houses, is snoop around. That just feels creepy. Eyes straight forward and all that. Here, the bookshelves were overflowing, impressive, and unavoidable. It’s great fun seeing if our reading interests overlapped.
If something looked interesting, off we, would go to the nearby branch library to check it out. We don’t have a single book in our collection now. I guess that means we don’t have a collection at all. But we do have an impressive collection of library cards from places near and far. It’s almost as good, but not quite.
By now we had been in the Portland area for a few weeks. It had rained most of every day. But we never saw a car crash on the slippery streets or highways. Then, on the one truly sunny day, there were five accidents on the Interstate, and we saw them all. Very strange.
Living in Southern California for many years, we knew Los Angeles drivers could go all sorts of stupid trying to drive in the rain: no one got much practice. We wondered if that’s also something reversed up here: people in Portland can’t drive in the sun? Just a thought.
What’s Next – Our new home for a while
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