By Order of the Court

There aren’t many things that strike fear in the hearts of men (and women) quite like being served with a jury summons. Sure, a police car’s flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror is worse; a tsunami warning siren is worse. But still. The sight of that little jury card is enough to make even the bravest soul’s hair stand on end.

Especially when the card reads — usually in Big Bold Letters — SECOND NOTICE, followed by threats of dire circumstances dare you ignore the summons this time. Never mind you hadn’t received a first notice. (Is there ever a first notice?) A descendent of Vito Corleone is on his way to your house right this second with those plastic handcuffs that look like enormous trash bag twist-ties, ready to whisk you away to a secret underground world where all the other jury duty truants who came before you have since morphed into lawless Mole People and chaos reigns.

zombie-md

Or something along those lines.

It’s a testament to the power of that index-card sized notice that even when I realized the one I’d just pulled from our mailbox was addressed to John, my heart still leapt to my throat. Like a gag reflex. Upon examining it more closely, however, I was able to relax. As it turned out, the summons was for jury duty in Travis County, Texas.

We moved from Texas over a year ago, a fact reflected, oddly enough, on the jury summons itself. It hadn’t been mailed to our former home in Texas and consequently forwarded to our new residence here. Oh no. This card was addressed quite correctly to the house number and street where we live now, here in Jefferson County, Washington.

Already it’s creepy the Travis County Courthouse not only has access to our new address, but has automatically changed that address in its records without any type of notification from us. But I know, I know. All sorts of information about everyone everywhere, living or dead, is floating around in the ether ready for the grabbing. Yet wouldn’t you think, knowing this kind of thing happens systematically, that the powers-that-be at the courthouse could have somebody take at least a cursory glance at the jury summons cards before they stick them in the mailbag?

Apparently not. So instead, those of us who have legitimate reason not to serve on a jury in the Travis County Court’s jurisdiction are given the options of (1) calling the courthouse; or (2) going to the website listed on the card. Ever tried calling the courthouse associated with a busy, increasingly populated metropolitan area? Yeah, so have I. Which is why, when I got back to my house, I went immediately online on John’s behalf.

Like most things internet-related, the jury selection page on the site wasn’t at all on point. It was only after answering question after question — then reiterating my answers in reply to interrogatives like “Are you sure this is really, truly your current address?” and then “Are you absolutely sure?” — that John was finally dismissed of that particular civic duty.

Crazy as it sounds, in my fantasy world I’d hoped for a separate website page for those of us who were mistakenly contacted — or maybe a button with the instruction “If no longer residing in Travis County, click here.” Why I thought for one second it could be that simple, I can’t say for sure. It was nutty on my part. Hey, so sue me.

Or wait, no. Please don’t. Because if you do, and if the trial’s jurisdiction is Travis County, Texas, there’s no doubt in my mind the summons to appear — the SECOND NOTICE summons to appear — will wind up here, properly addressed, in my Jefferson County, Washington mailbox.

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Chopped Liver

Strike three, four, five and six.

umpire-and-batter-md

Or maybe it’s seven. I’ve lost track of how many part-time jobs I’ve applied for since we moved here. All I know is twice in the last week or so, I was turned down yet again. Neither rejection was my fault (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) but it still doesn’t do much for the ol’ ego.

The stinkiest part of it is that I really, honestly thought I had this last one. After a part-time professional organizer position fell apart — the owner of the company decided not to expand to this part of Washington after all (or so she said) — I emailed the folks who own an organic apple orchard just down the street from us to see if they’d be needing someone to work their hard cider tasting room come April. The wife replied quickly explaining they were “crazy busy” right that second, but she definitely wanted to talk with me.

Hopeful, wouldn’t you say?

In a subsequent email, she explained that while they already have plenty of help for the tasting room, they do have a large empty hoop house inside which they’d like to plant vegetables but don’t have the time to do it themselves. They wondered if I’d be interested in helping them plan a season or three and manage the crew.

Wow, how perfect does that sound for a former organic vegetable farmer such as myself, right? Wrong. See, I wasn’t the crop planner at the farm I co-owned. My husband John did all that. I, on the other hand, concentrated more on harvests and how much of this and that we needed for our bi-weekly markets, which I also worked. I did the bookkeeping, too, and payroll. I did them poorly (and I have a stack of correction notices from the IRS to prove it), but I did them.

First and foremost, however, my main role at the farm was as Princess. That job, I had down to an art. And oddly enough, I’ve yet to run across a want ad looking for one.

Nope, it appears what everyone wants is…John. For one thing, he’d be perfect for the apple orchard gig. He’s busy with his part-time job assistant managering the produce department at the groovy local foods store, though, and has no desire to give that up for a seasonal position, even one that seems almost custom-made for him.

Come to think of it, his produce department job was custom-made for him. He fell into it by answering an ad for part-time cashier and when the owners saw his resume, they created this altogether new position specifically for him.

Know what happened with my resume after I took it to a different local food store in response to their ad for part-time cashier? Nothing, that’s what. A big, fat nada. Not only did the owners not offer an even better, more streamlined job for me like John’s store did for him…they didn’t even call me to interview for the cashier job.

It doesn’t end there. John and I started playing pickleball at the same time yet not surprisingly, he’s much, much better at it than I. John’s a natural at sports, see. I’m, well, not. That’s not to say I’m lousy at the game — I can hold my own — but John has far surpassed my skill level. So much so that on a recent afternoon, a call came in on my phone from one of the Pros from Dover (as we refer to the most experienced players in the neighborhood) that went something like this:

Pro: Hi Jo. Is John at work today?

Me: No, he’s home.

Pro: He’s home? Right now?

Me: Yes.

Pro: Um, we’re up here at the court and need another player.

Me: Okay, I’ll tell him. It’ll only be John coming, though, because I’m not…

Pro: Great! Thanks! Bye!

I can’t say I was tickled pink at the implied insult, but I’ve never thought of myself as an athletic equal to my husband so it didn’t hurt my feelings really. I’m pretty much a klutz through and through, and am able to live with that.

The same Pro from Dover called again a day or two later, only this time it was about something other than pickleball. This time, she was calling to ask a question of me. Turns out, she’s on the neighborhood Nominating Committee and wanted to know if I’d be willing to run for a seat on the Board of Directors.

Well well well! How about that? Never mind that I have no desire to be on the Board — all those boring meetings — it still felt pretty good to think my name came up as a possibility. After all, in this community there are around 600 households from which to choose a nominee. Puffed with pride and feeling self-confident, I decided honesty was the best policy and told the Pro straight out that, while I was flattered, I was going to decline.

Apparently her policy is honesty too, as she immediately admitted it was John’s name, not mine, that originally came up in the Nominating Committee meeting. They just figured he probably wouldn’t have the time — being employed and all — making me, the unemployed one, a logical second choice.

So much for pride. And self-confidence. I’ll tell you what, though: one of these days, somebody, somewhere, is going to be in need of a princess.

princess

And chances are, when that happens they’ll offer John the job first.

The Next Step

When you move across the country from the place you’ve called home for 34 years, you anticipate an adjustment period. Obviously, the surroundings will be different — that much is only to be expected, and in our case was one of the underlying aims of the move — and the newness of it all is a big part of the excitement. There’s business to attend to, however, not the least of which is finding a house that fits your needs. Thanks to the almost dangerously impulsive nature of both John and me, that detail was accomplished within the first month after our arrival.

There was, of course, the rather tortuous interval between our buying this house and ultimately moving into it, but the wait is thankfully over. Two weeks ago we carted all our worldly goods from the rental house to our new home, and have since unpacked almost every box, arranged nearly every piece of furniture and hung almost all the artwork.

Who snuck that glass of white wine in the picture, I wonder?

Who snuck that glass of white wine in the picture, I wonder?

We couldn’t be more thrilled. At least twice a day I exclaim, “I love this house!”

Lest you think I’m not allowing ample time between outbursts, I must point out just how long a day lasts up here. At this time of year, it starts getting light outside around 4:45 a.m. I’ve begun keeping one of those goofy eye masks on my nightstand so I can slip it over my head once the brightness (assisted by Pablo the cat) tries to urge us out of bed so crazy early in the morning.

eye mask

Sunset is as late as sunrise is early. It doesn’t get totally dark until well after 10 p.m.

sunset

While we quickly adjusted to just about everything moving to Washington threw at us, we were kind of wary about the one thing that was missing: friends. Thirty-four years is a long time to live in one place and it’s only natural that a lot of friends are made along the way. Leaving them was difficult enough; the prospect of finding new ones sometimes felt out of reach.

It’s not that people in Port Townsend aren’t friendly. They are. But for the first couple months we lived here, we never were able to more than scratch the surface with anyone in particular. Maybe we’re too picky. Or sensitive. Like at a gathering we barged into at the beginning of June, an old-fashioned beefy, porky chili cook-off, of all things (not a likely venue for quasi-vegetarians), one of the other attendees sparked up a conversation with us. When we mentioned we were organic farmers the past 14 years, he replied, “Yeah, well I’ve been gardening since I was a kid.”

Not exactly the same thing. Besides, we didn’t mean it as a competition.

Our failure to hook up with anybody became a running joke between us. After every casual meeting with someone, as we parted ways with them either John or I would whisper to the other, “Will you be our friend?

Then we met Varen and Walter. They bought the house we were renting and the moment we all introduced ourselves, it seemed like we might actually hit it off.

This isn't Varen and Walter.  It's their dogs, Oliver and Ginger.

This is not Varen and Walter. It’s their dogs, Oliver and Ginger.

In fact, the first evening we went out to dinner together, Walter asked me what it was like being a farmer, and wondered if it was difficult.

“I mean, it sounds awfully hard,” he said, “what with the uncertainties of weather and the insects you must have had to deal with.”

He understood. We had found, to my infinite relief, new friend material.

And it continues. The development we moved into is called Cape George, and it’s quite the community. As residents, we were invited to a Summer Solstice party last Friday evening down by the waterfront. (The invitation said to bring “jackets or blankets.” To celebrate summer.) Then yesterday we received an email announcing the first bloom of one of the neighbor’s Giant Lily, asking everyone come view it that evening and bring desserts to share.

“Friendly” doesn’t begin to describe the people who live in Cape George. Everyone waves hello and stops to chat. Several people have come by to introduce themselves. It’s like they’re all Stepford Wives,

stepford_wives

except here they’re Stepford Husbands too. Honestly, you can’t take a walk around the neighborhood without two or three people inviting you into their homes.

Should we be nervous?

It’s June

While we await our move to the new house (soon…very soon) we’ve been taking advantage of our access to the community gym and indoor lap pool just down the hill from our future abode. It’s a little weird for us, since we’ve never been gym people. For the past many years, our exercise regimen consisted of walking hither and yon on the farm every day. Treadmills, stationary recumbent bikes, rowing machines and stair steppers are new to both of us and while I wouldn’t say they’re “fun,” we at least feel like we’re doing some good for ourselves by walking, pedaling, rowing and stepping on them.

We do have a bit of an ulterior motive, however, above and beyond bodybuilding our way to becoming the new Mr. and Ms. Charles Atlas: going to the gym is a handy excuse for driving over to the new neighborhood. This past Saturday morning offered even more of a reward for huffing and puffing up mechanically-generated inclines, in that the previous owner (and current renter) of our house was moving a truckload of boxes to her new home in Seattle and was kind enough to allow us to barge in and eat our picnic lunch on the deck while she was gone.

view

I suspect the adult beverage we each enjoyed afterwards wouldn’t normally be considered part of a balanced workout discipline but hey, it was a beautiful afternoon. One that begged for beer.

That evening, thick clouds rolled in. There’s nothing unusual about this. In the course of one day, we can get clouds, then rain, then sunshine, then clouds, then drizzle, then sunshine again followed by rain. And by “rain” I mean not really rain, at least not in the sense we’re accustomed to.

On a recent schizophrenic weather day, John and I were leaving the local electric company’s office just as another customer came inside exclaiming, “Wow, it’s really coming DOWN!”

Obviously, that person has never lived in Texas. While we did cover our heads with our hoodies on the walk to the car, we drove off with the windshield wipers set at intermittent. I don’t know that we’ve ever needed them ramped up all the way to “On” more than a half hour total — and I’m talking an accumulated 30 minutes, not all at the same time — since we’ve been here.

The clouds do cool it off, though. We decided to walk to a restaurant for dinner Saturday night and I considered wearing my leather jacket. John scoffed. (We’re trying to behave more like hardy Northwesterners who don short sleeves at 55 degrees rather than the thin-skinned Texans we still are, who begin to get a chill when the temperature drops below 68.) I compromised by wearing a cardigan sweater instead.

After dinner we walked out to the pier to watch some sailboats taking off. I was cold, wishing I’d gone with my first instinct and worn the leather coat. Then it hit me.

“It’s June!” I cried, stunned at the sudden realization.

June. And I was pining for my coat. I couldn’t stop saying it — “It’s June!” — all the way back to the house. “It’s June! It’s JUNE!”

me

I wasn’t pleased.

The following day, we found out from our neighbor who’s lived in Port Townsend for 30-some years that the locals call this month ‘June-uary.’ As further explanation, he said, “You remember how it was last week, when it was in the low 50’s a few days? That’s why we call it June-uary!”

I refrained from pointing out that last week was still May.

We’d already heard from other folks that June in Western Washington does tend to be rather bleak, but I’m beginning to doubt them all now. Today the sky is blue, the sun is shining and the long-term forecast is for more of the same with temperatures hovering around 70 degrees. Personally, I’m still not ready to pull out the sleeveless t-shirts and shorts, but I sure don’t mind the idea of not worrying about leaving our jackets in the closet.

John

Yet come to think of it, judging from our experience with the weather here so far, I should probably keep in mind that anything could happen. After all, last week has passed. June-uary is just beginning.

Too Much Good

We have nothing but time on our hands. It’s an odd predicament after owning a farm the past 14 years. We aren’t accustomed to this kind of idleness and since we’re still waiting to move into our new house (T minus three weeks and counting), the situation can sometimes be a little vexing, particularly for Former Farmer John. Without a farm to work or a garden to putter around in, unless we make some sort of plans otherwise, he tends to mostly wander the house with a pained expression on his face.

The happy consequence of our current dilemma is that it has forced us to explore. While we would have checked out the local attractions regardless of our housing situation, doing so wouldn’t have held the same urgency if we’d been busying ourselves with the chore of unpacking. As impatient as we are to move to the new house, at least we’ve had more opportunity to experience some of the beauty this area has to offer.

And oh my, it offers a lot.

Lena Lake

After hiking through some truly lovely state parks nearby, we’ve recently branched out a tad farther, both to the Olympic National Forest (one hour away) and the Olympic National Park (an hour-and-a-half). It sometimes seems as if each hike is more astounding than the next, until we look back on a prior adventure and recall how it took our breaths away, as well. It’s a bit overwhelming. In fact, during our latest hike along Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park, after we’d begun our ritual oohing and aahing over the magnificence of it all, John declared he almost couldn’t stand any more beauty. He claimed he needed something to ground him, to bring him back to reality.

“I think I need to go visit a landfill,” he sighed.

Soon after, we rounded a bend leading to a clearing with a foot bridge connecting either side of the trail. It was plenty enough to make John forget what he’d just said. Rather than complain about too much grandeur, he snapped a picture instead.

me on bridge

As difficult as it was to leave that spot, we continued on for a while until we felt it prudent to turn around and trek back to the car. When we once again encountered this bridge, we were alarmed to come upon two empty beer cans — one floating in the water out of arm’s reach, the other wedged against the metal railing. John picked that one up, crushed it and stowed it in our cooler bag.

We were horrified. And adding insult to injury was the brand of beer: Coors Light. No personal affront to any Coors Light fans out there, but c’mon, really? The Pacific Northwest is famous for its craft beers. (Not that two discarded empty bottles of Elysian would have been any better, but still.) Then to make matters worse, a few more paces past the bridge I spotted a smoldering cigarette butt.

The grisly discovery of these items was John’s landfill, of course.

Coors Light can

He quickly realized he hadn’t wanted to see something so ugly after all. And although we never ran across the perpetrators of this heinous crime against nature (apparently they walked only far enough to down their beers at the bridge and casually toss aside the remains before turning back), I despised them more and more as John and I trudged back to the trailhead. I have a tenuous relationship with my overall opinion of mankind as it is. This event just about put me over the edge for good.

Fortunately, the Rhody Festival was right around the corner. Rhododendrons are the Washington state flower, and right now they’re at their peak. We stopped at a nursery specializing in Rhody varieties not long ago and John was kind enough to model with one of my faves.

John and Rhody

It’s no wonder Port Townsend devotes an entire week to honoring the flower. The first event we attended was the Pet Parade,

bulldog

after which we wandered down to Memorial Field for opening day of the Funtastic Carnival.

carnival

Later that evening, the server at our favorite restaurant confessed that she doesn’t bother with this carnival. Too small for her taste. (“It’s not nearly as nice as the one in Puyallup!”) We found it adorable, however. From the smattering of rides to the barkers coaxing people over to a handful of games with chintzy stuffed animal prizes, it was so reminiscent of the small-town carnivals we’d each grown up with. Ditto the four pre-teen boys bopping each other with giant inflatable sledgehammers while stealing furtive glances at a group of middle school girls standing close by, worrying over their hair and outfits.

The culmination of the festivities was Saturday afternoon’s Rhody Parade. John, along with hundreds of others, had set up a couple chairs on the sidewalk earlier that morning to hold our spot. Once seated for the procession, we weren’t disappointed. For almost two hours, we were treated to multiple high school marching bands, as well as the Shiners, classic cars, bicyclists, acrobats, bagpipe players in full Scottish regalia and, of course, the floats, beginning with the one carrying this year’s Rhody Queen and her Court.

Rhody Queen & Princess

Even the Port Townsend steam punks made their way down the parade route.

steam punks

And as if that wasn’t sufficient celebration for one day, immediately following the parade was the free Cake Picnic down by the waterfront.

cake picnic sign

They’d made enough cake to treat 1600 hundred people to a slice. One of the local farms donated 300 eggs for the event, which also included a volunteer DJ who played music for the crowd. Almost everyone was dancing.

Imagine someone coming up with the idea: “What can we do as an after-party once the parade is finished?”

“How about giving everybody free cake?”

Cake. I thought it was brilliant and charming and wonderful. Pretty tasty, too.

As we walked home, we spotted the bagpipe band playing some tunes at a street corner. I have to admit it: I love bagpipes. We crossed over to listen, and stood transfixed.

bagpipers

They ended their free impromptu concert with a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace, a song when performed with bagpipes nearly always brings a tear to my eye. It was no different that evening.

Maybe most of mankind isn’t so bad after all.

Decisions, Decisions

Moving abruptly brings with it a conundrum: how to decide where to settle, and how to decide fast. When we put the farm up for sale, we thought we’d have all sorts of time to figure that out. Before our place was officially listed on the MLS, I spent a good many hours at the computer reading travel forums via the google in an attempt to narrow down our choices. Still, that’s no substitute for visiting in person. We knew as much, and luckily had amassed plenty of frequent flyer miles, enough for multiple trips to the Pacific Northwest to scope it out (as we kissed goodbye our plan to vacation in Paris, ooh la la boohoo).

Well, as I’ve pointed out before, it didn’t quite work that way. Prior to moving all our worldly goods — and ourselves — to Port Townsend at the end of March, we had visited this town only once, and only for one day. During our sole pre-relocation trip to Washington back in January, we spent more time on both Whidbey Island and Orcas Island than we did here. Yet this is where we landed once all was said and done.

So it did seem as if we should maybe double-check that we’d made the right choice. Obviously we didn’t question our judgment too terribly much, considering the fact we’ve now become Port Townsend homeowners a mere month after our arrival…yet we recognized that looking at some other towns in the area before signing on the dotted line was probably prudent. At least that’s what we assumed less impulsive folks might do.

We had ruled out the neighboring city of Sequim almost immediately upon driving into the town in January. While we were there, however, we discovered a bicycle route that runs west to Port Angeles. The Sequim area appears pretty flat, music to my ears when it comes to bike rides — I’m not a fan of peddling uphill — so we decided to give the trail a shot shortly after we moved to Washington, both for exercise and as a fact-finding mission to see what Port Angeles is all about.

To make a long story not quite as long as it could be, in attempting that bike ride we found the landscape between Sequim and Port Angeles to be anything but flat. It’s the opposite of flat, actually, and proved too arduous a ride for me, the delicate flower. John, being the sport that he is (and simply wanting to get in a bike ride that afternoon come hell or high water) suggested we pile the bicycles back into the truck and drive to Port Angeles, where we happened upon a perfectly flat, wide, paved trail.

beginning PA bike ride

Port Angeles was beginning to look pretty darned good.

The trail took us past a marina and out along a narrow spit in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Because the city is west of Port Townsend, the views of the Olympic Mountains are decidedly more dramatic,

PA mountains

yet admiring them was made a tad difficult with the industrial buildings (and gigantic Chinese container ship) in the foreground. And while the trail was indeed usually adjacent to water, we couldn’t help but think they were glamming it up a bit by naming it the “Waterfront Trail.”

water front trail

Especially the section that runs directly through the middle of an enormous paper mill.

PA paper mill

And when I say through the middle, I mean through the middle.

riding into paper mill

Even the lovely little stands of tulips on the other side of the mill are deceiving. As long as you stay bent over for a closeup look, it’s charming.

PA tulips

But straighten back up, and you’re face-to-face with a rusty old pipe that runs the length of most of that section of trail.

PA pipe

Our subsequent bike ride through areas of Port Townsend proved more pleasant. (More hilly, too, much to the distress of a certain delicate flower.) At the apex of our ride, after delighting in the delicate beauty of various clusters of flowers,

PT flowers

the view when standing back up was the opposite of a rusty pipe.

PT flowers background

Now, I realize I’m probably being kind of unfair. I’m sure there are pretty places in Port Angeles, as well. We sure didn’t see them when we were there, though, and we know Port Townsend abounds in them.

Honestly, I personally haven’t felt much of an urge to verify our choice of a new home town. Our first full day in this city basically cemented the decision for me. I’d already spent one night here before John arrived in the truck, and shortly after greeting him when he pulled up in front of the rental house, I went inside to throw some leftover pizza in the oven for lunch. When I stepped back out, John was talking to an elderly lady who was walking her dog.

At a break in their conversation she looked at me, then turned back to John and said, “So this must be your child bride!”

I grinned — broadly — as John stuttered and stammered. To help the poor guy out (after all, he’d just made a 40+ hour drive up here) I clarified, “Yes, I am. I’m six months younger than he is.”

The woman seemed satisfied, even vindicated with my answer. As John continued to sputter, she went on to explain to him how she’d come to her conclusion. She put her hands up to her cheeks and while gently patting them said, “Your wife’s face is like this…but your face is more like mine.”

me

I mean, really, why would I want to live anyplace else?

My Travel Companion

Talk about a whirlwind. Two weeks after we’d put the farm on the market, we had a contract in hand for the full asking price. Less than a month later, as the moving van company was emptying our house, John headed down the driveway for the last time.

John leaving

Behind the truck he pulled our Prius, both vehicles packed to the brim and facing a long journey ahead.

DSC00633

I stayed behind and watched as the interior of our home of 14-1/2 years was transformed from this,

house with furniture

into this.

empty room

It was more than a little disconcerting. St. Joseph and his Altoids agreed, looking a tad discombobulated themselves after having been freed from the kitchen drawer where I’d kept them tucked away throughout the various inspections and land surveys, just to be safe.

St. Joe and Altoids

I couldn’t concern myself with St. Joe’s state of mind, however. I had someone else to worry about, someone who had lived in that house nearly his entire life and not only had rarely traveled in a vehicle of any sort, but whose heart generally filled with fear at the prospect of venturing much farther than the front porch step, even on foot.

Even on four of them.

Pablo at door

And he and I had tickets to fly to Seattle the following afternoon.

Several days earlier, John and I made a practice run at sneaking a kitty downer into Pablo the cat’s cooked chicken treat, an experiment that went swimmingly. Although I was nervous the morning of the real thing, I felt like I’d be able to recreate the deception once again. Pablo thought otherwise and detected the pill immediately. After multiple attempts — and after ultimately being left with only spitty bits and pieces of a formerly intact pill — I finally was able to force the remnants down his throat, sans chicken, despite some very vocal objections.

Stuffing him into the travel bag a couple hours later wasn’t pleasant, and he did raise a little ruckus as Dana and Alison drove us to the airport, but once inside the terminal it appeared the pill pieces had done their job. Pablo was awake yet calm inside his tiny carrier, where he acted as my second item of carry-on luggage.

When John and I travel together, we always take a picture of each other in the airport. It’s a matter of superstition for us, like the old tattered red travel bag I insist on carrying when we fly. Were we to forget that bag, or neglect the photos, the chances of arriving safely at our destination would surely decrease exponentially. The day of Pablo’s and my flight to Seattle, I did indeed have the red bag so the only missing link was the mutual photos. As we sat in the waiting area for our gate, I took care of my end of the deal.

Pablo at the airport

I figured in this instance, it would have to suffice. Pablo was far too drugged up to snap my picture, as well.

Once on the plane, Pablo mostly traveled like a champ. I had to cram him under the seat in front of me, of course, where he dozed peacefully the first 3-1/4 hours of the 4 hour flight. Those final 45 minutes were no picnic, though. Pablo decided he’d had enough of that tiny carrier and started yelling and clawing at the sides. I put him on my lap and allowed him to stick his head out of the bag where I could try to talk some sense into him, yet he wasn’t falling for it. Having no idea at the time how close we were to landing, I began to panic too.

Thank heavens for enough frequent flyer miles for First Class seating. Upon seeing a kitty in distress, one of the attendants whispered in my ear for Pablo and me to follow her up to the galley where she closed the curtain so I could sit on the floor and take him out of that godforsaken bag. After holding him on my lap for a while, he settled back down.

As a friend used to say, there’s no class like First Class.

That Saturday night, Pablo and I stayed at the Best Western near SeaTac Airport. We’d arrived too late to drive to Port Townsend and I feared another panic attack overnight — whether by Pablo or me was anyone’s guess — which happily didn’t occur. Pablo was quiet as a mouse all night long. (Please don’t tell him I used that analogy.)

We pulled into downtown Port Townsend around noon Sunday. After parking the car along the street and double-checking on Pablo inside his carrier on the passenger seat, I met with the real estate agent to pick up the keys to our rental house. Port Townsend’s Victorian Festival was going on that weekend, and as I was walking back to the car I noticed a woman dressed from head to toe in garb befitting that era. She was heading straight towards me, grinning from ear to ear.

Any other day I would have welcomed a stranger’s smile — even a stranger pretending to live in a different century — but after the emotionally-draining ordeal of pulling up stakes and flying with a cat in tow to a place I’d only once briefly visited, my first thought was, “Please leave me alone.” Besides, Pablo was waiting in the car. All I wanted to do was let the poor little guy out of that bag.

Instead, I smiled back at her as she asked me if I’d like a $5 gift certificate for the Quimper Mercantile. “Sure, thanks,” I replied, and hurried back to my cat.

Once at the rental house, I discovered the bed the owner left for us had no linens or blankets on it — and John wouldn’t be arriving with our bedding until late the next day.

There are no big box stores in charming Port Townsend. The nearest Target or Bed Bath & Beyond is at least 50 minutes away, and I simply couldn’t muster the wherewithal to make that trip. I pulled the gift certificate out of my pocket and headed to the Mercantile instead, where I found a perfectly good sleeping bag. For $5 off list price to boot, thanks to my Victorian coupon.

Pablo and I slept like babies that night, cuddled inside the sleeping bag atop a bare bed. John arrived Monday, right on schedule, after which the bag was tossed to the floor in favor of real sheets and blankets. Pablo couldn’t have been more pleased.

Pablo on his sleeping bag

I think we’re all going to like it here.