Smoke, stress, and beauty in Eugene


Happy September, all!

I am back in Portland, between last week’s sit in Eugene (100 miles south of here) and my upcoming week’s sit in Bend (125 miles southeast of here). I’m loving these mini-excursions within Oregon this summer. It will be my first time in Bend, and I’m excited about that!

Eugene’s trip was rewarding, but not without its challenges and stressors.

First, the smoke.

This was at least my third time in Eugene when the smoke was severe enough that it was inadvisable to be outdoors. (Mental note: visit Eugene in early summer, not late summer.)

I was pretty disappointed about that, because over the years I’ve never had more than about 2-3 days in Eugene at a stretch, and this was to be a full six days. I was looking forward to settling in a bit and getting to know the place better. With the smoke, though, I only got about the last 2-3 days of that, once again. Oh, well; I made the most of it.

The house sit was challenging, too.

I arrived at the house—having bicycled about half an hour from the train station in air deemed unfit to even sit still in, let alone exert oneself—to find that the key code the host had given me for the door did not work. I tried it many times, on all doors, and the locks would not budge. I texted the host, and received no reply.

So, I sat an additional half hour on the front step, inhaling yet more smoke into my lungs. (Fortunately, I do not have an extra lung sensitivity, like many people I know do.) Finally I decided to try calling the host, and luckily I did reach her and she gave me a different code. That code didn’t work either, though, so she surmised the lock must have been jammed somehow. She walked me through getting the emergency key from its hiding spot in the backyard, and eventually I did make it into the house.

The two orange cats, Cayenne and Ancho, were adorable, so that softened the blow.

The next day, though, I took a shower in the master bath, and despite the host’s instructions to “be careful” to make sure the faucet was vertical when turning it off, and my best efforts to do so… the faucet would not turn all the way off. I stood in the shower for probably an extra thirty minutes, struggling in every way I could think of to turn off the water. This was during the last few hours of the earning week on Cambly, and I really needed to make my weekly quota.

As I stood dripping and exasperated in the shower, I texted back and forth with the host to try everything to turn off the faucet. (She had already indicated that the previous sitter had struggled so much that she thought she would have to call a plumber. In this case, the host herself wondered aloud if she might need to do that… but it was a Saturday, so he probably couldn’t come until Monday. I cringed to think of all the water—and power, since it was warm water—that might be wasted in such a scenario. The host was very eco-conscious, too, so I cringed on her behalf as well.)

Finally I took a break, dried off, and did a half-hour Cambly session. Then I went back into the shower to struggle anew. After about fifteen minutes, I somehow magically unlocked the power to turn it off. (I still don’t remember what it was that finally solved it.) Hallelujah!!

After that, the rest of the sit went pretty smoothly, and after another day or two the smoke cleared up. I got to go out and explore Eugene’s vast network of wooded riverfront bike paths. Breathtaking!

I also enjoyed the classic Sundance Natural Foods, the new Acorn Vegan Café, and my stalwart favorite vegetarian Morning Glory Café, right next to the train station as I departed.

I also got to see my friends Mike, Gordon, and Karen, and even got in a long riverfront walk with Mike around the golden hour.

All in all, a worthwhile week!

Upon my return, I did a repeat sit for my friend Celine’s cutie-pie kitty Moxie, who enjoys surveying the landscape of Celine’s gorgeously abundant backyard garden.

I’m staying with my friend Sandi and her kitty Lima for last night and tonight.

And tomorrow, Bend!

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