I told my friends and colleagues that I was taking my Dissertation Vacation over Christmas and they shouldn’t expect to hear from me until I returned from Oregon in the new year. Everyone seemed to understand immediately and agree it was a good idea (and a few even said they took a few months on theirs, though others didn’t take a break at all).
Jumping forward in time (we will go back shortly), my secret Santa gift was awaiting me when I got home on Wednesday evening! Micaylah sent a package with a big toy for Jelly, a darling set of studs and matching necklace for me, and cookies for Murray. Murray will get his cookies when I go to the barn on Thursday, but Ellie got her present immediately. Because she deserves it.
She loved it, obviously. And I love it and so do my roommates, because it has a quiet squeaker!!!! Ellie will go to town on squeaky toys for
hours and hours minutes on end (we have never let her go as long as she wants). Most squeakers are loud and obnoxious and this one is pretty quiet – but still entertaining enough that Ellie wants it. The newspaper also does not have stuffing (major requirement of my boyfriend’s as he doesn’t find cleaning clouds of fluff up from the floor very appealing), and I can already tell it will last. Micaylah wins for puppy toys! And the way to my heart is 100% by treating Ellie (but not too much, because then it’s like you’re trying to steal her love from me, and that is unacceptable).
So, back to vacation. I went with my boyfriend to see his family in Oregon where we ate a lot of food, drank a lot of beer, I played a lot of pokemon, and packed on the pounds. Like a lot of pounds.
I spent most of my time sitting in front of fireplaces and heaters, only opened my laptop a few times, and read a lot. I got most of the way through one book (Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson, only giving it like a 6/10), and finished another (Taming the Truffle, Ian Hall, 9/10 if you’re interested in growing Truffles). We went snowmobiling and the snow was PERFECT for playing in — soft and fluffy and not too deep. About a foot of dry powder, but not so dry that you just fell through. Boyfriend and his step brother (a fair bit younger) had a great time throwing me around in it, I did not object, and managed to dump them a few times myself.
It was seriously lovely to be able to relax and not worry about not working on my thesis for fifteen days. I still have to re-analyze data and prepare for publication, but at least the first big deadline is behind me!
We also spent a few days in Portland hanging out with my friends from graduate school. Almost everyone from my lab has ended up in Portland in the last three years — so perhaps I was just looking into my future?! Food was central to our Porland detour. We made a crown roast of lamb for NYE, a crispy roast pork shoulder the next night, and fried chicken for our last night in Portland. I failed to go to the zoo (oops), but did spend lots of time
Fried chicken – gluten free on the left, regular flour on the right. I 100% recommend Bob’s Red Mill GF mix for fried chicken — it was so crispy and delicious! The difference in color is a little unfortunate, the brown rice flour just doesn’t golden up as well as AP wheat flour. I will probably do a 50/50 mix with regular flour for added crunch for my own fried chicken in the future.
Lompoc brewing. If you look carefully, you can see standing rings in the surface of the dark beer (LSD – Lompoc Special Draft), because our table vibrated the entire time we were there. This bemused us mightily until I realized that the family on the other side of the booth had a portable compressor of some kind.
I did not get to meet up with Megan (boo, sadness), as we couldn’t quite get our schedules to sync up. Portland was just too big and interesting for both of us! However, based on past experience, I rate Megan 10/10, will hang out again.
Now that I’m all rested and rejuvenated I’m ready to attack 2017!