There are two things that belie the fact that I'm not a native-born Oregonian:
1. I don't like dogs.
2. I have no interest in the state of my yard or in having a garden.
As for item number one, I will tolerate dogs, but I have no interest in owning one, and I fear the day the kids start to ask for one. Is it wrong of me to hope that one of them turns out to be allergic? For now, both Maddie and Riley have a pretty strong fear of dogs, so perhaps that will persist. I'd consider owning another cat, but a dog? Stinky! Slobbery! The walking! I already have two kids; no thanks on a third.*
And as for item number two, I totally appreciate the beauty of a well-maintained yard. My mom and stepdad have a gorgeous yard that they work hard to maintain, and I love to sit out on their patio in the summer and enjoy it. But it is SO MUCH WORK to properly keep up with a yard, and I don't seem to find it satisfying in the way that many people do. And the thought of tending vegetables? I like the idea of walking outside and harvesting that evening's side dish, but I think I'll support the local economy and join a CSA.
It is thus somewhat ironic that I have rented a house with a pretty substantial yard that I am required to "maintain." It's the only thing I don't like about the house. To be fair, I just spent a rather enjoyable hour outside trimming some bushes and gathering up the resulting yard waste; it happens to be a gorgeous (if seriously windy) winter day, and the fresh air and bit of a workout were nice. But even to do the bare minimum in the yard is a big time investment, and it's time that I prefer to spend in other ways.
Maddie and Riley will turn four this spring (!), and they love to be outdoors. I'm hoping that some kid-sized yard tools will make it so that we can all be outside doing work together and just enjoying the weather and family time. That will help. The yard is one area of my life where I seriously do not ask perfection of myself, so at least I'm not beating myself with that stick. I'd consider paying someone to do minimum upkeep, and might look into that in the spring. Do tweens and teens still look for lawnmowing jobs?
Maddie, Riley, and I are slowly integrating ourselves into a Unitarian church out here. We actually cross the river to attend a church in Washington state, lured there by a childhood friend of mine and her family, who had been sporadically attending and were looking for a reason to cement their participation.
The church is quite different from the one we attended in Massachusetts. The building itself is much more modern, the service less traditional. We attend the early service, which I suspect is the more sparsely attended of the two Sunday options, and the other parishioners are generally older couples. There is more layperson participation in the service itself. I miss Fred Small and the weekly singalongs from First Parish But I like the fact that the religious education program starts at age three, and I also like the smaller, more intimate feel of the service. Maddie and Riley miss all the singing they did in the nursery in Cambridge, but love that there is hot chocolate available during coffee hour.
It feels good to be finding a church home, a place where I can spend some quiet time each week just feeling the things I either don't allow myself to feel during the week or the things I put off feeling because I just don't want to take the time in the moment. I'm a total waterworks during service, and today I forgot my Kleenex. Eeeek! There was much sniffling and wiping of tears with my shirtsleeve. Sigh. Time to go tuck a pocket pack of tissues in my purse while it's on my mind.
*I shall now refrain from going off on how much it irritates me when people don't respect leash laws. Or when they put their bags of dog poop in my trash can. Gah.