Monday, November 29, 2010


After reading my blog so far, a friend asked to know more about Gary.  I'm happy to oblige.

The first thing you would notice about him is he is tall - 6' 6".  He is strong, and his hands are strong, which I really appreciate when I want a shoulder rub.  As I said earlier, in high school he bucked hay with my brother in law, who introduced him to me.  He is one year older than me.  Here he is in his easy chair:

Here he is on his property:

Gary served in Viet Nam.  We have similar political points of view, detesting those who promote their own agendas with hate and falsehoods.

He majored in business at Oregon State.  He worked up to management in a plywood mill, then got tired of making money for other people, so bought a bowling alley and made money for himself.  He is proud of the bowling alley - and part of that is good food.  Employees are all required to be willing to fill in with cooking. He says they serve "the best burger in town".  He knows many people in Corvallis, from many walks of life, who are bowlers.  The conversation and especially teasing of co-workers and customers was what made it fun for him.  He is now retired, but still "volunteers" working there every Tuesday and Wednesday.  This is mostly because he enjoys it, but also because he mentors the new owner to make sure it continues to be successful.  He runs into people he knows just about everywhere he goes in Corvallis.

Since retiring he puts a lot of energy into growing his produce.  He likes to grow a lot to eat himself, but also to give away.  He is successful - organic methods that make bumper crops of delicious items.  He also does a lot of food preservation - freezing, drying, canning.  He roasts his own coffee beans.  His blackberry preserves are divine.

He is growing red wiggler worms with a neighbor, thinking they will grow enough to sell.  He set up a habitat for bees on his property.  Also feeds birds.  He is happiest when he is working out of doors.  He loves riding his tractor mower around.

And he cooks!  He can throw great meals together that look effortless.  For just about any number of people.  And then cleans up after himself.

He has a strong sense of what is right and how things should work.   He does not mind a confrontation when he perceives something wrong.  He also, as he puts it, does not mince words.  I won't repeat here some of the things he has told me that he has told others - I'll just say it is pretty rude but at the same time effective, and makes me laugh.

Here is what I think is the best part about Gary - he is one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever known.  He has a large heart and has no problem expressing love.  He would do anything for a friend.  He calls his mother every day.  He loves and admires his daughter and son in law, and enjoys his two grandsons.  He has many friends, many of whom date back to high school and college.

Things seem to be going well between us, enjoying each other's company.  We are both used to being fairly independent, and are comfortable with time and interests together as well as some apart. 

How did I do - any questions?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Moving Ernesto

The other significant milestone for my commitment to moving, besides giving notice at PBNC, was to move my beautiful hefty cat Ernesto.  I laid awake one night obsessing about how to do it.  He is too big for a normal cat carrier.  I was thinking of maybe getting a small dog crate or not using any sort of carrier or crate.  I posted my dilemma on facebook and immediately got several responses saying "Do not try to drive with him loose in the car" citing examples of cars wrecked.  Then my band mom friend Diane told me the perfect solution - one laundry basket stacked on top of the other.  It worked out great.  He only meowed a short time, really.  I was playing the audiobook of Malcolm Gladwell's "What the Dog Saw" and his nice voice maybe also helped.  So moving him turned out to be no problem.

Integrating him with Gary's two dogs is another story.  He has made himself at home under the bed in the guest room.  I have put his food, water and litter box in that room, so at least I know his needs are met and he is safe.  I sleep in that room when I have worked a night shift and need to sleep during the day.  I really like having him with me when I sleep.  Sometimes I take him out and hold him in my lap to try to get him used to being around the dogs.  I learned that cats can growl!  Never knew that.  The dogs have been around cats before, and are not a danger to him, but they did chase him a couple of times so he really does not want to be anywhere near them.  Here are the dogs, Lola and Maybelle:

The neighbors, Kelly and Dana, also brought home a big cat to integrate with their two dogs.  Kelly says it will take a couple of months, but soon Ernesto will be the boss.  He said it just takes an encounter where the cat scratches the dogs' noses, and they will not bother him any more.  I really do not know if this will happen.  But Gary says he doesn't think it is right for Ernesto to "stay under the friggin bed".

I was in Beaverton/Portland the past two days and am excited to get back to Corvallis and have time with Ernesto.  Gary is very, very close to his dogs, so he understands about my being close to my cat.  That part is all OK.  He also likes cats and is trying to give Ernesto attention, too.

I will keep you all posted on this.  Here are photos of Ernesto in his new home:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Corvallis Manor

I have worked 7 nights at my new job at Corvallis Manor.  The first 3 were orientation, by a man named Evin in the short stay area.  His girlfriend, Abigail works the same shift, days and area.  He is wonderful.  Compassionate, competent, and has a sense of humor with patients.  Abigail at times has a dark point of view, but was also helpful to me and I appreciate her too.  I hope I scored points with them by unclogging a toilet and mopping up the overflow one night.  I do think it works best when we all are willing to do whatever needs to be done.

The next 4 days I was responsible for 15 people - some were short stay patients and some long term care residents.  At least they were all in the same hallway.  It was a little challenging because each group had a different nurse, and I needed to try to keep straight which nurse was responsible for which person, and there were a few differences in charting.  But at least it was the same group all 4 nights, which really helped, as I got to know them.  And there weren't any who required excessive attention.

So far I love all the nurses and all the aides.  There are a few things that are better than at my old job.  They take care of their own laundry, and we're never short on linens (constant problem at PBNC).  The soap dispensers are much better, you just wave your hand under to get nice foamy soap.  At PBNC we had to push, push, push, and push and got a puny amount of slimy soap out.  The person handling HR seems really 'with it' and nice.  And I like the director of nursing, who hired me.

All in all, the facility is similar to PBNC, and I think it will work out well.  I do love the short commute, I make it home to Gary's before I get sleepy.

Next Steps to Corvallis - and Losing my Dad

Gary called me Sunday October 3rd and told me he wanted me to move in with him as soon as I can.  We made plans for me to come for dinner the next Friday.  I knew he was going to be visiting his mother the next few days, so I asked if he could take some food items to my parents in Klamath Falls.  I knew he'd be happy to do that - since he is a "people person" and truly enjoys doing good deeds and being helpful.  That all went well, and I was happy that he met my parents.  The funny story is my mother asked if he wanted to "take a leak" before heading on over to his mother's.  I asked him "Did she use those exact words"? and he said yes.  I told him that was out of character for her.  Then I found out there was a story behind that - Debbie and Tony had grown a bumper crop of leeks, so would humorously ask everyone who visited them if they wanted to "take a leek" when they left.  We had a good laugh about that.

Anyway, when I went to dinner that Friday, I met the neighbors Kelly and Dana.  Kelly is a stockbroker, and he and Gary do a lot of farm projects together.  They are growing red wiggler worms to sell for composting.  They have two huge containers, and will be harvesting the worms to sell and the compost for their own use.  In the meantime, they drain liquid out the bottom, and use it as fertilizer mixed in when watering their crops.  Gary calls this "worm pee".  His tomatoes are out of this world - a rich red color and the most flavorful I've ever had.  My mother said she hadn't had tomatoes like that since she was in Oklahoma.  He says it is the "worm pee" that makes the difference.

Dana works for HP.  She was in the middle of painting her nails when Gary invited them over, so she finished while at his house, experimenting with a very dark blue color.  That night I drove straight from his house to my job at Mt. Angel. 

I had inquired about employment at Corvallis Manor, which is only 15-20 minute drive from Gary's house.  I was pleased to be invited for an interview.  The director of nursing services was impressed that I was from the Providence Benedicting Nursing Center.  She also liked that I was taking a Medication Aide class.  She asked what area and shifts I preferred and she gave a little jump when I said short stay - night shift.  That was just what she needed.  So I was offered a job, the sooner the better.  I told her I needed to give two weeks notice, and ended up taking an additional week to have a breather between jobs.

This extra week turned out to be really important.  The night of October 13th I agonized about the decision to give notice at PBNC.  It was a huge step for me.  I had been so excited to get the CNA training at Mt Angel.  And so excited to be working there, and for Providence.  Excited again when I got to work in the short stay area.  I loved many of the people I worked with.  And loved the commute with my audiobooks, etc.  Also of course, thinking of leaving the life that I loved in Beaverton/Portland with my 3 book groups, season tickets to 3 theatre series, the Body Recall class I taught, my great Zumba class, etc.

But by the morning of the 14th I made the decision that since Gary was the man who seemed to fill the bill of a man to share my future with, I would give notice at PBNC, and try taking steps toward a new life with him in Corvallis.  I e-mailed my family about this decision.  It happened that later that day my father took his own life.  We daughters were full of sorrow, but also sympathetic with this decision.  He hadn't been feeling well from complications after a surgery, he had lost his appetite, he was facing needing to move to assisted living and never did want that.  He always said he had had a good full life and didn't see any point in living past age 90.  He did it when Debbie and Tony were there, and bless Tony for being the one to say comforting words to him at the end, and to deal with what needed to be done.

Pam, her husband Rod, and I decided to go down the next morning.  I really appreciated Rod driving us.  It was so good for the 3 sisters to be together.  I took the train back, needing to get back to take the final test for my medication aide class.

My dad had been looking forward to me getting a job that didn't require the commute I had, where I needed help staying awake on the way home (phone conversations with him and my mother served this purpose and I treasure all conversations we got to have).  I don't know if he thought about this that day, but he might have felt good about meeting Gary and knowing I possibly had a more secure future.  And at the least, a shorter commute.

October 1st Date

After our promising time together at Gary's, I thought it would be good to see him again soon.  I checked my calender and saw that I was free the next Friday night, Oct 1st.  I called, and he sounded really happy to hear from me.  That made me feel good!  We made plans for me to visit again that Friday.

He called back later that day and said "I'm so stupid, I haven't really dated much.  I should have told you what a nice time I had with you when you were here.  And we could have slept together."  I thanked him but told him that since I didn't know him well I was more comfortable sleeping in my own room.  But I thought it was sweet that he admitted he felt clumsy with "dating".

I decided that the jeans I had worn before were my lucky jeans, so I wore them again on my next visit.  After I arrived, we drove into Corvallis.  We first went to the best espresso place, Allann Bros coffee at The Beanery and got coffees to go.  Then we went to get the best hot dogs in town.  We took them to a bench by the river, and talked while we ate. 

Next we went to the best gelato shop, which impressed me with being more cosmopolitan than anything I remember in Corvallis from the days I went to OSU.  We sat inside, eating our wonderful gelato.  Gary said that he could picture us having a good future together.  I told him that he was the first man I had met in many years who I could picture a future with.  He asked me when I first thought that, and I said maybe when he invited me to spend the night that first time at his house.  It was pretty romantic.

This happened AWFULLY fast, but it mattered a lot that he is my age, from my home town, we know people in common, and have important shared values.  We both like cooking and hosting - connecting with friends.

Here is photo of Gary's house:

September Dinner at Gary's

I was excited about going to dinner at Gary's and put thought into what I should wear. I decided on flattering jeans (going to a farm after all) and crisp white blouse. I was told that we could pick some vegetables from his garden and I was looking forward to that.

I got directions, but went to google maps for what looked like better directions. I was to meet Debbie and Tony, and their other friend Jerry there. Unfortunately, google maps let me down, the road I expected to taker there didn't go through. And also unfortunately, cell phone reception is sketchy at Gary's house. Finally I was able to text Tony the country road intersection where I was, and Gary and Tony came to retrieve me.

I was just a little rattled when I arrived. Gary poured me a big glass of wine. Debbie and Tony had already picked some vegetables for themselves. We all went out for me to see the garden.  Gary noted that it was starting to get dark and said "Why don't you just spend the night here and get vegetables in the morning.  I have a spare room."  Because of being tired from my drive, and the wine, it DID sound really good to not have to drive the hour and a half back to Beaverton after dinner.  But it was also a little odd to be invited to spend the night in front of the other guests.  I was mostly liking the idea of staying.  So I said yes.  Gary told me that there was also a Harvest Festival that was supposed to be fun in Corvallis the next day.

We had a wonderful meal - Gary cooked salmon marinated in soy sauce and bourbon.  And he made the same cobbler recipe that I use!  Melted butter, batter, fruit, bake without mixing.  Here is the dinner plate, and Gary and Jerry in the kitchen:

Debbie said she drove home a little worried about me, and was in mother bear mode.  She said she thought "I THINK he is a nice guy.  I HOPE he is a nice guy."  And he was very nice, did not make any sort of move toward me - no kiss or anything.  I stayed in the guest room, which I liked.

It was raining the next morning, which didn't look like as much fun, for the Harvest Festival.  I couldn't think what else to do with myself, so after a nice breakfast that Gary cooked, and after collecting vegetables, I headed home.  I did kiss him before I left.

Here are squashes that I got from the garden.  I think they are beautiful.

August Dinner Party

My sister Debbie had told me about a friend of her husband Tony's, whose wife recently left him and he was depressed.  His name is Gary Haworth.  Gary, Tony, and another friend Jerry had bucked hay together when they were in high school, to earn money, and are still friends.  She was trying to think of someone to introduce him to, and thought of me.  She told me he lived on property in the country, had a huge garden, and loved growing things.  That did sound interesting.  I had really been enjoying growing some vegetables myself.  I had been driving through some beautiful country on my way to and from my job in Mt. Angel, and wondered wistfully what life would be like in the country.

Finally the day arrived for the dinner party party.  I took a look at Gary and immediately thought of Garrison Keillor, but Gary is better looking.  Debbie's neighbor thought he looked like David Letterman, and I guess he is a mix between Garrison Keillor and David Letterman.  Anyway, he arrived with lots of vegetables that he had grown.  He talked about roasting his own coffee beans.  I showed interest and he said he would give me some beans he had roasted.  Other than that I didn't sense he had any interest in me.  Before he left I told him that I would love to see his place.  Hint, hint.  He said "I'd like to have you (pause) you and Debbie and Tony over."  I wasn't sure if he included Debbie and Tony because he didn't want me to think he was interested in me. 

I decided to wait a bit and look at my calendar and try to figure out a free day that would work with Debbie and Tony.  But before I did that, Debbie told me that we were invited for dinner, September 25th.  I happened to be free that night!

Here is a photo of the hay buckers -  Tony, Jerry, and Gary that night: