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Right now, my life is broken down into jumbled piles all over my living room.

Books in the corner by the TV, blocking the Roomba. All my chairs, side tables, lamps and accent pillows stacked on top of each other along the east wall. All my important adulting life documents on the dining room table. A growing pile of Goodwill items next to the cast iron fireplace. A broken down desk and an empty wooden IKEA shelving unit in the middle of the room. Boxes of office supplies, crafting supplies, old magazine and newspaper clips from my early years of my career, floppy discs, cassette tapes, and memories in various forms sitting precariously on top of each other by the front door.

I have to go through each of these piles of boxes and textiles over the next few months. I’m combining my single life of 20 years from a 2-bedroom, 1-bath house into a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with another person this fall.

I’ve never done this before. And I’m totally OK with it.

Right now though, it’s overwhelming walking into the living room when I come home after being away for a few days or a week. It takes me two days to just “Be” in the house before I can bring myself to do anything remotely domesticated or even broach the thought of sorting my life into Keep and Discard piles.

Tonight, though, after a day of about 5 hours of driving and another 3 hours of staring at my computer, I had to do something involving movement and tangible objects.

So, I started with the closest pile to me – old gift boxes and shoeboxes.

The gift boxes were overflowing with old tissue paper and gift bags. My instinct is to keep them because recycling; my gut is like, WHY? THEY ARE RATTY AND WRINKLED PIECES OF PAPER THAT YOU PLAN TO REGIFT? You’re a terrible and gross gift giver! (I KNOW. SHUT. UP.)

I just ignored the screaming, feeling like this was just a warm up exercise for the harder stuff.

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Saturday, April 4, 2020

9:22 a.m.

There are so many birds in my neighborhood.

So much chirping and flying and flittering about.

I never really noticed it until this morning. Or rather, I recognized how much I’ve noticed it lately. Especially when I saw that bluejay on my front porch an hour ago. I never see bluejays around here.

While there is still some traffic in Bremerton, given I live on one of the busiest streets, it is significantly quieter in the morning and evening. Hence, I can hear the birds more. It’s odd to hear nothing in Bremerton but birds.

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Day 5. Monday, March 23, 2020

Today starts the first full week of telecommuting, as directed by my office.

Given the nature of my job in real time and my opportunities to work from home when I have field work in the morning or afternoon, I feel I’m fairly equipped mentally to deal with the Work From Home situation. I can make myself pretty comfortable anywhere and be productive. Some days I need complete silence, so the house is great; some days I need some background noise, so the office or a coffeeshop works well.

Jeremy and I are essentially WFH together now – he works from home primarily anyway, so he’s set up. I just take over his dining room table when I’m in Port Townsend. He’ll likely camp out on my couch in Bremerton, or my dining room table.

I had successful “hangouts” with my mountain rescue team and friends over Zoom the past few days, which has made this self-imposed Shelter In Place more bearable. However, I haven’t quite felt the insolation or pent up feelings that it seems others are anticipating. My attitude about this whole thing has been “Well, OK, here we are. One day at a time. It is what it is. I will adapt and move on.”

Granted, I may feel differently in a week.

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Thursday morning. Bremerton. March 19, 2020.

It’s Day 2 of my sorta self-quarantine.

I’m not sick, save for the sniffles I’ve had for two weeks now. But no other symptoms, just sniffles. Maybe allergies? Low grade cold? (been feeling run down too but have been traveling extensively lately and on deadline for work).

The office space I work in has closed for the next two weeks for safety’s sake. I’m glad for it – it was stressful being in the office. Even though I have an office with a door, it was nerve wracking trying to make sure I didn’t touch all the things and then making sure I cleaned them when I did.

I have a CenturyLink chat box open on my laptop to try and upgrade my Internet. The current minimum wait time started at 182 minutes and has been bouncing back and forth between 40-ish minutes and 12-ish minutes. My internet is terribly slow, as I’m a cheapskate but even I’m tired of the spinning rainbow ball on my computer and dragging response times.

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So, I don’t know how to start this trip report.

Do I explain what led to Lana and I trail running 50+ miles in the Olympic Mountains?

Do I exude endless amounts of gratitude for our amazing Sherpas, Chris and Jeremy, who supported this idea?

Do I take my father’s advice and undergo psychological analysis to check my mental state?

Let’s start from the beginning.

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Saturday, 6:37 a.m., Aug 31.

Brain is on overdrive these days. It’s been like this since Monday morning, when I dove deep into the photography captions finally, letting my old school journalism procrastination take over. As per protocol, I spent Monday panicking while working through the first set of captions. By Tuesday I felt better and somewhat in a groove, although still intimidated by what I’m writing because I don’t know ANYTHING about sailing and the terminology. At the same time, that’s not completely true. I’m a year and a half into exploring this world and I learn something new with every conversation and outing. I’m currently working my way through the last set of interviews today, this time with sailmakers and there are tabs open to study the definitions and look at images: sailmakers thimbles, storm staysails and jib tack pennant.

Writing overdrive has been nice but a struggle, again, as is per writing protocol but I’m finally mature enough to recognize this. I’m used to having a boss and editor expecting a certain format and style. For this project though, which is a completely volunteer side gig, I can do whatever I damn well please and write however I want. Jeremy wanted my journalism angle, which is easy, but also likes my writing style, so I finally relaxed and let it fly. All that matters is what he thinks and what the tradespeople think. So far, I’ve received feedback just enough to tweak the captions but not enough to derail my style, so that’s good.

As I was sitting in my writing chair last night, I could hear the music blaring from my tenant downstairs, which didn’t bother me. I thought about asking her to turn it down but then I thought, wait, I’m enjoying this.

It was a delightful mix of modern female soul one minute and classic black and white film soundtrack the next. For some reason, I felt like I was in a scene of an old movie (film noir?), in some 2nd floor apartment in France, as the young are blasting away music but it’s slightly muffled, while the landlord/writer is upstairs tucked away in the corner of her tiny messy office that is lined with books, old racing medals, maps, artwork to be hung, stacks of important life papers, the “war corner” for a house remodel, piles of clothing for Goodwill and a drying rack of delicates, but only focused on what is coming out of the fingers and onto the computer screen late into the night.

I was kinda sad when she turned it off and left.

I woke up today at 515 to continue the photography writing. I walked by my backdoor and a swath of white caught my eye, looking like snow had fallen. Nope, just a big white Ithaca RV sneaking an overnight spot on my side street.

2 more minutes.

I realized last night that at 40, I’m much more content pounding out words in a quiet corner of my house on a Friday night, in an IKEA chair that needs upholstering, under an old lamp that was left behind by previous homeowner than being in a loud noisy bar. Last night at least. It feels like a big creative art weekend anyway, with work on next weekend’s photography show and this weekend’s Wayzgoose printmakers festival, which I’m very excited to visit later today.

I wouldn’t have minded a glass of wine to celebrate the end of the week but that would have put me out. Tonight, after I get this last set of captions done, I will be able to dig into that glass of wine. Maybe even that chardonnay from Switzerland with J …

6:52 a.m.

7:28 p.m.

It’s my last night “living” in Port Townsend. I’m out for the 3rd night in a row, by choice, sitting at Chetzemoka Park, which is a five minute walk from the house. It has peek-a-boo views of the water and Whidbey Island. I can see the stage (and hear the actors practicing) where Shakespeare In The Park will be performed in a few weeks and I’m happy to report, I’ll be attending.

I was here last night too, around the same time. My sailing outing was cancelled and I took advantage of the time for more transcribing interviews. Turns out sitting in a park has been the most productive work space in town for me, and so I am here again, transcribing. I am so happy here.

I’m pretty sure I’m used to the quiet at night now, and can sleep pretty soundly, waking up just before my 6 a.m. alarm. (Although a beer or glass of wine has helped. Tonight will be the last one until Saturday night, in prep for a big run that day.).

At Jeremy’s suggestion, I finally sat on the back porch this morning with my breakfast and mug of tea. Of course, I lingered out there way longer than I should have. Wondering where Beth and I will put our tent when we’re here in a month for The Thing Music Festival, during which Jeremy is graciously letting us crash in his backyard. It’ll be like Doe Bay, in a way, but on a smaller scale.

This town is like living in a bubble. Kinda like the suburbs, but definitely not like the suburbs. There’s a different aura here than anywhere else I’ve experienced. It’s like living on a Hollywood set, where everything is just where it should be – every unkept garden, every perfectly laid out stone pathway, each community space with open doors and music floating out, quirky shop, or happy chatter of people gathering. People walk everywhere here. They say hi when passing each other on the sidewalk. You may get a wave when passing in cars.

Even if they don’t say hi, they’ll smile. And not a shy passive aggressive PNW I-kinda-sorta-will-maybe-give-you-eye contact smile. Like a legit, bright smile. It happens while running too.

It’s delightful and refreshing.

There’s a group of middle school kids running around the park this evening. I was annoyed for a second because they’re loud but then they started yelling at each other:

“What’s the border? Is the water the border? Where’s the jail? It’s the picnic table! TO THE JAIL!!!”

This is cracking me up. It must be a camp. And I’d love to completely forget about everything I should be doing right now and join. It reminds me of playing Freeze Tag and Ghosts in the Graveyard on Heatherwood during humid Ohio summers.

To forget about having to go back to the house and gather all my triptrap I’ve strewn about the house. To toss my clothes into my duffle bag except for what I’ll wear tomorrow. To do a quick wipe down and sweep. To stuff four pairs of dress shoes, two pairs of running shoes, and two pairs of sandals into bags. To reorganize all the camping gear. To load it all up in Bertha The VW Battlewagen.

To not think about the weeds in my gardens at home. The mail stacking up on my front porch. The house next door that is in a significant state of demo. The empty dry erase board that will soon be filled up quotes equating to tens of thousand of dollars for a house remodel.

“Can we call a quick truce, I need you to take my shirt to the table.”

“Can we shake on it?”

7:43 p.m.


Post-edit: I just got a glimpse of myself in my computer screen reflection. Total pretentious brat here with the real life running around me. Floppy hat, big hot pink sunglasses and scarf with a damn computer and headphones in the middle of a park.

8:13 p.m., July 23, 2019

Location: Port Townsend Vineyards Tasting Room, Water St., Cloudy. Mist blowing in from the west.

I decided to finally leave the house this evening, or rather, not putz around in a big lonely house after work, or sit and stare at the windows in my writing room. After being here for two weeks, and for once, not being exhausted (despite 3 hours of sleep today) I decided to actually go out and be in the presence of people (and see a friend). Mainly because I knew my extroverted sanity needed it.

So, I’m sitting on the back patio of the PT Vineyards tasting room, at a table for four but with the attendance of one. A healthy serving of Viognier, the pita bread and hummus plate and those New Yorker magazines again. Last night’s article was about a Bjork-like pop musician, which I enjoyed; tonight’s article is a heartbreaking story of a family with twin babies and how they’re using GoFundMe to help support their $2 million medical needs for their childrens’ disease that likely won’t let them live much longer. I couldn’t finish reading it.

Also, sorry, J, if your magazines may be a bit more wrinkled with a minor grease stain, as the wind fluffed Pages 19-21 into my dish that had a significant drizzle of oil. But I learned that I love cold cooked sliced beets topped with roasted cauliflower and garlic hummus. It’s an earthy purple cracker.

I’m under a fancy canopy that automatically rolls back when the wind kicks up. But the sprinkles that were promised at 8 p.m. are splattering my screen.

I also get to walk home in it. The sprinkles that is.

This Viognier is really good. This evening is also a recon mission for possible future visits with company.

The water looks like it’d be a great night for sailing, despite the low clouds, as the water’s surface is wrinkled and a tiny bit wavy.

(wipes off the screen)

Realized (again) on Facebook today that nothing of value is being posted these days. It’s mostly “Feel Good About Yourself” memes, political shit and videos of animals. Super tired of it. Except the cat videos. I’ll pause to watch the cat videos. Dog videos make me cry.

8:22 p.m. I have 6 more minutes.

I had planned on transcribing more of my maritime interviews this evening. My little Olympus recorder is surprisingly pretty awesome at catching the interviewee. I just need to shut the hell up during the interviews because it catches my unnecessary commentary. It’d make editing the transcript A LOT easier. Just think of it as recording audio for a video.

(wipes the screen again)

oh what else, what else… brain is fading because of the wine. It has the same effect as beer. Which is why I don’t drink during the week when I want to get stuff done.

Speaking of, the weeds, OH GOD THE WEEDS in the front of my house in Bremerton are horrendous. I’ve never let my yard go this far. Garden therapy next week.

I wish I’d been able to spend more time at the little places in town during the evening during my time here, but, well, it’s no fun to go out on your own regularly. It’s not a thing I do, anyway. I like it occasionally – but mainly for breakfast and lunch. At night, I prefer a dinner companion. My daily streak of time in PT ends on Friday but I hope to spend more time up here in the company of others in the future.

8:28 p.m.

Post edit:

No wonder I like Viognier. It comes from the Rhone region and my favorite red (Syrah) is from there.


The title is actually false. I put in a lot of miles this weekend. Mostly on Friday and today, Sunday, driving to and from Bogachiel State Park for a ladies camping weekend on the coast.

Put a couple hundred miles on Bertha, but about eight walking miles on my feet on the South Fork Hoh River trail. Woke up more sore today than I have during some of my last few long runs. Huh.

The trail was lush with ferns and spooky with moss draped over dead tree branches, but it petered out into a climber’s trail, with no destination for a day hike like ours (We learned you can access Mt. Olympus from here, though). We met a bio-acoustic ecology student from Schumacher College who told us trees communicate through the ground. He had tied red flagging to his listening spots and encouraged us to stop at each.

“Be well,” he said as his goodbye.

We heard various bird chatter at one. Not much at another. Distant rushing water at the third (or was it the breeze?). I figured maybe understanding this concept was like learning to drink wine – it takes time to train the ear on what to listen for.

We took pictures and moved on.

Speaking of sound, the evening winds are picking up right now in PT. I’ve decided to move to the front porch for the first time since “living” here to write and soak in the last of the weekend sun while sipping on a Zero Miles double IPA.

That will certainly guarantee that I will get nothing done this evening, except maybe unload the car and possibly consider entertaining the idea of making lunch for tomorrow. Also write drivelous nonsense on a blog that doesn’t get as much love as it should.

That breeze really does cover up the street noise and people noise unless the source of the noise is within eye sight. I’m still not sure if I like it or not. After 2.5 days of friend chatter, it’s a hard transition to a quiet house. It feels lonely. But that’s part of the retreat part, right? To get back into the head. The problem of an Extrovert. And the reentry process after a weekend (mostly) off the grid. It reminds me of climbing trips and how girlfriends and I would bemoan the transition back into civilization and day-to-day life.

I blissfully managed to stay off the phone this weekend, save for a few texts. Popping on Facebook right after I got home justified staying off it this weekend. People went to beer fests, music fest, Pride fests, had hearts broken and generally screamed about the state of the world.

The phone is tucked away in the corner of the house and silenced. My head is already in a weird space during this transition. Maybe I should pop on the OK Computer vinyl that my friend purposefully set out for me.

He also has New Yorkers that I am gleefully devouring. They’re so new even he hasn’t had a chance read them. I apologize in advance, J, for the smudging of some of the words from my thumbs. The July 1 looks OK – except for the column from Patricia Marx, who is always a delight to read; the July 8-15 looks more interesting. I loved discovering in 2013 that my sister also loves New Yorkers – I think I introduced her to them (or maybe she read them before?). Regardless, I like that we have that in common. We’d read articles to P as bedtime stories when he was 2. He probably thought we were crazy. If you put her and me together on a good day, he’d definitely think we’re crazy. Or laugh at us. Or with us. On a good day, our family is like that. I miss that.

I was so excited to find Chetzemoka Park down the street from the house the other day. Shakespeare in the Park is performed there every weekend in August. I went once and it was delightful. Despite this August being 99% filled already with travel and commitments, I hope to squeeze in a performance -– maybe on a Sunday?

This week looks to be painfully less chaotic compared to last week. The previous seven days involved shellfish, mountain goats, things that needed to be posted ASAP, supporting our team in preparation for a presentation, and photographing 3-year-olds who were supposed to be throwing oyster seeds on a beach but instead were chasing small crabs.

The most distinctive noise in Uptown is the church bell calling out the hours. I don’t have to look at my phone in the middle of the night when I hear the chimes. Even when half awake, I always hear the chimes.

The sun has finally gone down behind the house across the street. The breeze is picking up. It’s time to go inside.

I’m in Port Townsend house sitting for 16 days. I’ve never house sit for this length of time before. It’s for a dear friend from mountain rescue. We’re also collaborating on a project for an upcoming photography show; I’m supporting with written words. I wasn’t sure of my time commitment to do such a thing this summer but I knew once I settled into his house, my journalist deadline instinct would kick in and all would be fine. I’m treating my time up here like a writing retreat and it’s been refreshing to just sit in my own head for a while with a project.

In fact, I don’t know whenever I’ve ever done something like this. It’s hard for me to sit down with my thoughts.

Of course, it’s taken some adjusting. It’s like being in an AirBnB but you know the person who lives here but yet you don’t, since for the majority of your six-year friendship, you’ve lived an hour from each other and visited only briefly via meetings, missions or the Internet, plus the occasional meal to catch up.

It’s also really quiet up here.

It’s an older home, historic, built in 1889. 10-foot ceilings, odd additions, with exterior siding on the inside of the first floor bathroom. It’s two floors, with a lovely wide staircase that creaks. Especially that last step at the top. Until yesterday, whenever I put weight on it, I jumped a little. It sounded like a little mouse squeaking. Or a groaning rocking chair. I couldn’t decide.

Now when I approach the step, I gleefully put my weight on it, entertained by its “eek.”

I told an acquaintance I was staying in PT in an older home. Her eyes got really big and she told me of her stay in an older home up here one time too. “There are ghosts, Tiffany. But they’re friendly ghosts.”

To entertain myself, I’ve named the “ghost” of this house, who is responsible for all the little old house noises, Ellie Mc Kay.


But I didn’t think about ghosts the first night. Or the second night.

The first night was filled with nightmares that I blamed on drinking old wine. And just not being used to the structure’s noises – gutters leaking, house settling, neighbors scuttling about. But it was one of those nightmares where someone walks into your room, even though you know it’s not real, and they appear in the doorway, and you’re trying really really really hard to say the name of who you think it is, and if you just open your eyes and speak, it will all be over, and then they just say in a deep low voice:

“I missed my ferry.”

Your eyes fly open, you start panic breathing, and then you don’t sleep for the next hour.

Night 2 had legitimate reasons for unusual noises.

I was mostly awake (again, blame the old wine) and suddenly, there was a huge BANG downstairs, followed by the entire house shaking.


Then the shaking didn’t stop – for about a solid 30 seconds (so it felt).

“Wait. I think we had an earthquake. That HAD to have been an earthquake.”

A few minutes later, at 3 a.m., I see half of the Pacific Northwest is awake on Facebook because of a 4.6 in Everett, followed by a 3.5 aftershock.

Reassuring to know but I still didn’t fall sleep for another hour.

On the third night, I didn’t have any wine. I slept like a baby.


The past few days, while I adjusted to establishing a routine in a space that isn’t mine, I’ve almost dreaded coming back each time. It’s quiet. Almost too quiet. There’s no one here.

Not that it bothers me at my house in Bremerton. I live by myself there too. But I live in a whirlwind of energy, with lots of traffic, a tenant going in and out downstairs at odd hours, my own coming and going all the time, sprinting out the door to run or go to work. Plus, projects, so many house projects. And social events.

But here? Nothing.

Tonight, as I was sitting next to five photographs from which I’m taking inspiration to write interview questions, I was struck by how much I’m enjoying the quiet. The only noise is the rustling of the trees from gentle winds that breeze through town every evening, which seems appropriate for a seaport town.

I set priorities during these 16 days to retreat, interview, write and run, and not really do much of anything else (aside from the full time job). Haven’t really even cooked, thanks to the delicious farm stores and the co-op with their fresh grab n’ go food.

I thought I’d stack my time here by jumping on all the weird things that PT has to offer. But nope.

And now I get why writers do these things. I thought I’d be bored or distracted, but that’s the point. I’m not.

Of course, I’m distracted right now, laying out my thoughts about the blissful quiet. But I’m treating it as a writing exercise. I don’t do that enough. I’d like to do more.

Hopefully this house will give me more adventures to write about.