Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bad Roads

Jack Frost has made his first visit, although 10 miles inland at work and not yet here on the coast. As I drive the 10 miles (half hour) to work, I watch the outside temp display in the car decline as much as 7 degrees. The reason it takes a half hour is because the maximum speed limit is 45 and most of the way is 35 mph, even if double lane in each direction. The roads are rough due to winter plowing and degradation of the asphalt around manholes and water shutoff valves, so going slowly is prudent (and we're saving gas). I often see where repaving has broken away to reveal the original cobblestone street underneath.
Work is going well, but it sure cuts in to life. I go at 5:30 AM in order to use the gym equipment at school before getting breakfast in the cafeteria, then to the office. Food at work is very good and for $4.50 I get all-you-can-eat made-to-order eggs, omelets, pancakes, waffles, breads, pastries, fruit, cereal, etc. It is very much like a restaurant. On Saturdays there is a brunch with even more goodies. Lunch is an almost infinite choice of hot and cold fare. I even had a London broil steak yesterday. I pre-pay for a meal plan (of which there are many choices including "meals" and money credit for the snack bar and coffee nook) I purchased a plan that has 50 meals and $400 cash value. I use a "meal" for the more expensive meals (lunch, brunch) and dollars for breakfast. I get a discount off the cash price and pay no tax. My ID card acts like a Visa card as well as entry key for all doors.
OK, so food is important to me..... The campus feels like a vibrant, busy town with (young) people going in all directions. Most students are bright-faced and actually speak greetings as they come and go in the residence hall in which I spend half the day. I am not used to teenagers acting respectfully to their elders (me) and to each other. It's refreshing.
I remain in Portland at Michael's for another week while I wait for the "POD" to be delivered next weekend when I can stock the garret with a few items of furniture and kitchenware. Dedos will soon have to get used to another home and be confined indoors when winter comes. We'll see how anxious she'll be to go out in the snow!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Weather

Seems like we get the tail end of all the hurricanes. Hanna dropped more than 5 inches of rain in one evening last week. Our Sept. cumulative to now is 6 inches which is half the annual rainfall in Visalia. Ike will be giving us more on Sunday & Monday, but not as much.
With no mountains to speak of here to stop them, the clouds drift by like time-lapse photography. It makes for interesting weather changes even from hour-to-hour. Though our temps have cooled somewhat, mid September still yelds fresh corn, tomatoes and other garden delights that would have been finished in CA. There is no Trader Joe's here, but the Whole Foods store provides the specialities our spoiled lifestyle demands. There seems to be only 2 grocery store brands, but they provide everything a good grocery should. Food costs more because it all has to be shipped in. We are at the "end of the road" for the supply chain.
I am surprised how quickly my perception is changing from travel observer to resident and worker. I notice much less difference in my new town now that I drive to and from work each day. There is less time to observe and I am not out looking for differences as much.
Work is going to be very easy, but it is paying about a third less than my job in Visalia. I am mainly answering student and parent questions about everything associated with the university experience. The upper class dorm I work in half time is brand new and too much like a hotel for students. There are "gender neutral" rooms and alcohol allowed in for students of drinking age. Gosh, so much has changed in the 30 years since I was at Fresno State!
I'll finally will unload the packed boxes in the back of the truck on Monday when I take possession of the garret. I've ordered the POD to be transfered to Maine and expect to unload it next weekend, some stuff goes into the apartment but most into a self-storage unit.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I never paid attention to east coast weather before moving here. Who cares when you are living in CA? Tropical storm Hana passed through last night dropping an estimated one inch of rain per hour. Do you know what that looks like?? I've never seen it rain so hard in my life and the radio and TV often have flood warnings for the nearby rivers. Winds were mild compared to what locals say a tropical storm is usually like. Apparently hurricanes and tropical storms sometimes follow the coastline up from the south. These storms are called "Nor' easters" that you hear about from offshore fishing vessels. In winter they say they are really fierce and cold.
With work starting on Wednesday, I am anxious to get at it and get an income rolling again. I signed a lease on a tiny garret (top floor) of a place in the town of Westbrook yesterday. Move in date is the 15th, so I'll be able to begin settling in soon. The big barn-like house has one other renter and the owners live in the downstairs. It has lots of windows and a huge side and back yard that look like a park. The cat will love it if we can figure out how she will be able to get into the yard. The front door opens onto a driveway near a busy street, so I think she won't want to go out there. I have a small private deck off the back and may try to figure out a way for her to get up and down from there.
Westbrook is 5 miles from work, and 5 miles from Portland. It's a small mill town with the Presumptscot river running through passing over a couple mill dams and some rocky rapids. There are street banners that say "Artists Live Here". I will be anxious to explore it further. The paper mill is closed (like most of the mills) and has been converted to artists lofts.