Exploring Your New World, Part 1

Today, I flattened fifty or more moving boxes. Now my deck is clear, and I can see the birdbath. More on this later.

My husband is particle board-averse. I, on the other hand, have nothing against particle board. Inexpensive and—from a distance inhibiting close inspection—nice looking. Growling at each other, we assembled a CD rack. It looks very nice in our new living room. When my book case came, I opted for self-assembly, having learned what NOT to do from the previous project and preferring to NOT have to listen to my husband’s multiple complaints.

The instructions were inadequate, being in three different languages, one of which luckily was English. But with the illustrations and the little bags of “hardware” being correctly labeled, I got through the process with electric drill, screw-driver, and hammer. It also looks very nice in my new office.

We are in our “exploring” phase, getting to know our new house and town. We haven’t had to puzzle through the mysteries of the furnace yet, as the weather in the Williamette Valley daily approaches and often surpasses 80 degrees. Maintenance such as interior paint, replacing every compact fluorescent bulb with an LED, and finding out which lighting element no longer works merits thought, but not immediate action.

The dogs have given this house their stamp of approval, thanking us for the nice, big yard, the glass sliders we open and shut for them, and the strategic placement of their beds. They think the park behind us is a very nice place and they appreciate the opportunity to follow me from room to room and actually be able to enter said room—our tiny Seattle bungalow barely allowed two humans into the bedrooms, much less two English mastiffs. The exception is our snowflake-dog, Conan, who has superstitions about things like stairs and openings that look, to him, way too small. In our Facebook mastiff group, there is a hilarious video of a dog in a kitchen, unwilling to exit because of the mop handle laid across the doorway. Thus is the English mastiff.

Today we visited the Albany Farmer’s Market. While a guitarist and a violinist duo played live, acoustic music, we bought chocolate scones from Bodhi’s Bakery, beets with greens, Italian chard, a weirdly-curled striped cucumber, and black cherry tomatoes from a local organic farm. Then beef from local ranchers who organically raise Piedmontese cattle. And finally “artisanal” cheddar.

My husband, who lived in Albany as a child for one year—his father taught music and the family moved with him from college to college—was eager to find a church next door to their rental house. We found it—the house long gone but the church still there, and the road on which he and a little neighbor walked to visit the Williamette River, to the still existing green iron-work bridge crossing the massive stream. No one drowned.

Another of his exploits included pulling a streetside fire alarm. This incident made the local paper, complete with photo of a stubborn, pouting five-year-old boy on a tricycle, next to a grinning fireman.

We occupy the southern border of Oregon wine country. The pinot grape loves spring and summer heat, moisture and cold winters. Thus the grocery stores are well stocked with noirs and gris’s, but our taste goes to hearty Australian blends of mouvedre, shiraz and grenache, and my favorite: dry-as-toast sauvignon blanc (when I can find it). It will take some palate-training for us to like the pinots, but there’s always mail-order.

I have seen new birds, too, birds who do not live near Puget Sound (not yet, goes the climate-change joke). Mourning doves, a cedar waxwing (I know they do live up in Washington but I never saw one), a woodpecker identified from its call as an acorn woodpecker by my Audubon app, and scrub jays have replaced the Stellars. I’ve set up one of my bird-baths, and they are coming to it. The park behind us harbors a stand of oaks and Doug fir and many birds. I’m sure I’ve heard a raven but haven’t been lucky enough to see it.

And as I write this, I sneak inside for the binoculars: a Wilson’s warbler and an immature robin come to drink.

Good move, this.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Exploring Your New World, Part 1 — 3 Comments

  1. ‘Oregon wine country’ does not end anywhere near Albany – you might want to take a drive south along I-5 and visit the the Umpqua valley around Roseburg and further south in and around the Rogue valley around Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland.

  2. And then there’s the Eastern Oregon wine country around Hood River, and the Walla Walla Valley just to the north…some classic old wineries around Eugene and in the Rogue valley.