Archive for August, 2016

Well, It Was a Noble Effort

Posted: August 31, 2016 in Depression

spaceneedle

Seattle Space Needle

I tried. Chalk it up to bad timing and selective amnesia. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Washington landlords are allowed to charge up to three times the monthly rent to let you move into an apartment or a house. That came to $2400 for the cheapest place I could find.

I had forgotten this when I moved here from Rochester.

After trying various options, Stacey and I decided that the best thing for us is for me to go back to Rochester (where I could find a cheaper room to rent) until I could save enough money to move us both out west.

I’ve bought my train ticket and will be heading back east on Friday. Although Stacey’s apartment is tiny, she said I can stay with her until I find a place—which shouldn’t take too long (*fingers crossed*).

I’m trying to look on the bright side: at least I got to meet the grandchildren I hadn’t known before, and I spent some time with my daughters. Ate some fantastic Korean barbecue, as well as some good Thai chicken curry. Wasn’t able to find a Seattle hot dog, though; but I got the recipe! (The jalapeños are optional.)

seattle dog2

The Famous Seattle Hot Dog

Gloom, Despair, And Agony On Me

Posted: August 27, 2016 in Depression, moving

That was a song once featured on the old television show, Hee Haw. I rarely watched it, but sometimes while I was channel-surfing a bit would catch my eye. That was one that did.

Why the gloom and despair? Well, I recently moved from Rochester, NY to Seattle, WA. One of the nuisances we don’t consider when we move is having to learn the peculiarities of a new stove. My old stove was a gas range. Will my new one be gas, or electric? And if it’s electric (which I must admit is a more efficient way to cook), how long will it take me to learn its idiosyncrasies?

But I’m not going to worry about that right now. Right now my main goal is finding a place to live. While living in Rochester, I had forgotten that Washington State law allows a landlord to collect an amount 3 times the monthly rent before letting you move in: first and last month’s rent, plus a damage deposit equal to the monthly rent. On top of that, most landlords also demand a $40 application fee to cover the cost of running a background check on potential tenants.

Had I remembered that, I’d have stayed in Rochester until I had saved up enough money to cover those costs.

I’m in a hostel until the 2d of September. After that, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Go back to Rochester with my tail tucked between my legs and try to find a place to live there? After all, it doesn’t cost nearly as much to rent a place there, much less move into it.

In the meantime, I’m checking my alternatives.

I hope in the coming days I’ll have better news to post.

Especially when you do it by train. I simply had far too much stuff to go by air, my truck wasn’t going to last but another hundred or so miles, and the train seemed like a reasonable alternative.

Which it was, by the way. I’m not knocking Amtrak, but there were a few things I wish I had known before setting out on my journey.

Water

The first thing you need to know is that while drinking water is available on the train, it is room-temperature, and is not available in all cars. In my case, getting water meant walking back to the car behind mine. And unfortunately, since I didn’t think to bring a drinking utensil, I had to settle for one of the 2-ounce paper cups the railroad provides.

My one-way fare was under $300; that was for a coach-class seat and it included my luggage. I could have opted for a sleeper berth, but that would have added about $1,000 to my ticket. Of course, it did include all meals, but for that price, I could have flown first class to Seattle and shipped my bags.

Which Brings Us To Meals

The first rule of eating on the train is this: There are no cheap meals on Amtrak. I splurged on dinner Tuesday evening: a steak, baked potato, and vegetable, with a semi-stale dinner roll, accompanied by a bottle of beer and followed by a small dish of ice cream set me back $30. And it was a small steak. That was in the dining/lounge car.

I saw someone who had bought a chicken dinner in the café car: A roll, a small dessert, one leg and one breast set him back $12.50.

The lesson I learned: Bring your own food and beverages. a 12-ounce can of Coke cost $2.25…and it wasn’t even cold. Even a cup of mediocre coffee cost $2.00.

NOTE: you cannot consume your own alcoholic beverages on the train. They MUST be purchased in either the café or the dining car.

I practically lived on trail mix for the rest of the trip.

Still, a girl could do worse, I suppose.

Sightseeing

Don’t make the mistake of traveling by train if you want to “see the country.” Unless your goal is to see the underbelly of cities and endless reaches of flat, empty farmland, there really isn’t anything to see. Oh, sure—there were the sunflower fields in North Dakota, but even they pale after a while. And who knew there were so many oil wells in that state?

It was too dark to take decent pictures in Glacier National Park, and all through the Cascades, we traveled through narrow cuts that were made just to fit the train. Besides, the windows were either too dirty or too reflective to get any decent shots.

I did, however, see lots of cattle and horses. Also a few deer and antelope, but I couldn’t tell if they were playing or not,

The Bottom Line

Yes, I’d do it again. But I’d be better prepared. And now that I know there is a one-hour layover in Minot, North Dakota, I will definitely walk to a grocery store and replenish my supplies of food and water. It would have been nice of them to tell us we had that much time. In fact, if it weren’t that it was 8 in the morning, I could have sent out for a pizza!

I stole today’s title from The Huffington Post. Over the years, I’ve had any number of therapists tell me I should be keeping a journal, but none of them have been able to explain just why I should be doing it. Consequently, I’ve always told myself, :Hey! I write stories and I blog. Isn’t that good enough?”

But this morning I cam across the article I reference above in the Huffington Post. It gives a pretty good layman’s explanation of some of the benefits associated with regular journaling. I thought I’d share them with you as background to thus post about the great journaling app I discovered the other day.

Day One is a simple journaling app for the MacOS and iOS platforms. But don’t mistake “simple” for “bare bones.” With Day One, I can write my journal entry and have it keep track of where I was and what the weather was like when I wrote a given entry. I can add photos from my camera roll, or I can take pictures from inside the app. I can also add maps and tags.

I can honestly say that this is the first journaling software I’ve ever used that suits my needs. So much so, in fact, that I went ahead and spent the $5 it cost to buy my own copy. I also took advantage of the apps “Reminder” feature to remind me at a particular time every day that I need to add a new entry for that day.

I’ve also created two journals: the standard one that comes with the app is for my daily entries, and I’ve added a TRAVEL journal to document my train trip across the USA.

So far, I’ve only found three (very minor) drawbacks to the app—if you want to consider them drawbacks—it’s only available for Mac, iPhone, and iPad (no android or PC version), and while the previous version was capable of posting your entries to a web site, they haven’t yet added that capability to the latest version (2.01). The publisher says it’s because they redesigned the app from the ground up for version 2.0, and still have more coding to do so they can incorporate the web connection.

The third drawback is that Version 2.0 doesn’t sync with iCloud or DropBox. It does, however sync across all your devices. So if iCloud and/or DropBox syncing is important to you, the publishers recommend using the previous version.

Day One 1

My experience with the app has me convinced that for me, at least, it is the best journaling app available.