The Raleigh World: Month Three

Soooooo… Pollen Season is a thing here. The stuff that turns everything yellow is pine pollen: it flies through the air like snow, though in daylight you don’t really notice it until it accumulates on a surface (usually within a few minutes). Though it looks like I should be scratching my face off, the pine pollen doesn’t seem to trigger my allergies (though every other tree pollen seems to, as does grass and weeds).

Howdy, Neighbor!

In Month Three, I celebrated a birthday, attended two soccer matches, and have been building my freelance business. I have made some forays beyond my standard trips to Target, Trader Joe’s, Harris Teeter1, the library, and visiting the neighbor cows and goats. (Aside, I have learned that my spirit animal is a peacock. Although I haven’t seen the peacocks next door, I can hear their squawk and it sounds remarkably like me when I’m startled by the sudden appearance of a spider–just without all of the cussing.)

And I’ve been meeting more locals. For instance, I had my fortune told by this lovely lady while I was walking along the Company Mill trail in Umstead Park.

I found my way to one of the two brick-and-mortar camera stores in town and spent a couple of hours drooling over old film cameras and getting friendly with the folks in the store. Speaking of drooling, I also made a trek to Lyla Jones Bake Shop at Crabtree Valley Mall and got myself a belated birthday cupcake. No pictures though, because damn it, sometimes I just want to eat the cupcake!

Circling back to the subject of seasons, I have seen more snow in the past three months than in the previous 25 years. It snowed on my birthday and we may have had a “wintry mix” over this past weekend, but snow is no longer novel for me, so I was not inclined to stay up until 2am like I was awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus. There are very few days that I have NOT worn a sweatshirt since my arrival three months ago. I know that will change soon enough (temperatures are supposed to get into the 80’s over the weekend): my hope is that we have spring and not jump from winter straight into summer.

Here’s something I never had to give much thought to, living in California, Oregon, and Arizona: hurricane names are rotated every six years and the list for the year is released before the season starts. They also retire names, if the storms associated with them were particularly destructive and deadly. I’m used to earthquakes being named for the area in which it was centered (with the exception of Earthquake Ethel’s), rather than having people names.

Meanwhile, back in the Bay…

JFC. I just can’t even with you anymore, Bay Area.

I had a couple of odd “I’m not in the Bay Area anymore” experiences recently. I was at a cafe, sitting at an outdoor table2 and I noticed a man with his dog at a nearby table. The guy was working on his Macbook Pro and after a while he got up to take his dog over to a grassy area for a wee. The part that astonished me was that he left his laptop AND his phone on the table AND NO ONE TOUCHED THEM. In the Bay Area, hell that Macbook and phone would have been snatched while he was sitting there and in the middle of typing AND he’d probably get punched out, just because.

I had pulled the chair my camera bag and purse were parked on so close to me that the edge of the seat was about to leave a permanent indent on my shin but seeing this guy walk away from his electronics for several minutes inspired me to push the chair a whole three inches away from me!

lunch break at Cup A Joe
Lunch break at Cup A Joe

It only took a few weeks for me to be spoiled by being able to park my car in front of my apartment. After a couple of decades of street parking or parking lots, I appreciate the convenience. There have been a few times when the spaces in my lot were all full and I had to park in an adjacent lot and I found that really annoying, but not for the reason you might think. I wasn’t upset that I had to walk a little farther to get to my front door. The problem was I couldn’t see my car from my front window, and I get damn salty about that. I realize that I can count the number of times on one hand (and still have fingers left over) that I could see my car from my front window living in the Bay Area–and that my car was way more vulnerable to vandalism and burglary in Mayberry By The Bay (a.k.a. Alameda) than it is here. I’m sure I’ll let my guard down a bit at some point.

As for Dos Gatos Locos, they are fully settled into life here. They love the fact that I work from home because it’s more opportunity to scream at me for treats. Mostly, though, they nap most of the day, as you do, when you’re a cat.

cute tabby brothers

Month Four in Raleigh promises to be busy with upgrading my front page and building my book of business. I’ve signed up for some Javascript workshops and I’ll be at WordCamp at the end of the month. I need to spend more time out and about in Raleigh, so I don’t fall back into my old hermit habits, so expect to see me parked at Cup A Joe every now and again. (And, if I’m feeling particularly bold, I may have a laptop out where anyone can see it!)

1Harris Teeter has these periodic buy 2 get 3 free sales on shredded cheese. THIS IS WHY I’LL NEVER BE VEGAN.

2This outdoor seating area was also the first time I had to deal with smokers in restaurants, which is surprising in that it took nearly three months for this to come up. Cigarette smoke tends to bring up a lot of old childhood emotional gunk (not to mention the gunk that ends up in my throat and lungs), so I wrapped up my lunch and journaling session sooner than I wanted to.

The Raleigh World: My First NC Courage Match

For all that the Bay Area has to offer in sports, it lacks women’s professional basketball1 and soccer teams. Luckily, now that I’m in Raleigh, National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) matches are just a few minutes from home. I attended my first North Carolina Courage match last Saturday against Sky Blue FC (based in New Jersey). The Courage held a flash ticket sale during the US Men’s National Team match last Tuesday and at $10 for any seat in the park, I couldn’t say no. I not only had a great seat, I had money left over for iced tea2 and cheese fries! (It’s those little joys in life…)

An early highlight of the day (that, believe it or not, had nothing to do with cheese fries): as I was looking for my seat, a group of young girls near me called out to Carli Lloyd as Sky Blue FC began their pre-game warm-up. Although I didn’t see the interaction, I know Lloyd waved to the girls because I suddenly found myself in the middle of a cloudburst of screaming and jumping. In that moment I saw my own 10-year-old self reflected in their excitement and nearly started jumping and squealing right along with them. For all of the ways that Carli Lloyd dominates the game, it always earns a special place in my soul when players interact with children. I absolutely LOVE the representation of women from so many backgrounds in the NWSL. It’s beautiful to see these children see themselves represented at the highest levels of the sport, but it’s also wonderful to see players–perhaps seeing their own 10-year-old selves reflected in their young fans–interact and encourage the next generation.

Cheese fries eaten (and the carton properly disposed of because I didn’t want to step in old cheese) and nursing that iced tea, it was time for some soccer! There’s a purity to the women’s game that I was drawn to while watching the Women’s World Cup that I appreciated even more watching in person. Without a lot of theatrics that are often associated with the men’s game, the fundamental skills–the real beauty of the game–are more fully on display. The other thing that I saw and loved was a universal work ethic. No one quits on the play, which caught me by surprise a couple of times as I leaned back anticipating a throw-in or a goal kick, only to have the play continue and, in a couple of cases, scoring chances created.

Speaking of skill and work, for the better part of two hours I had a huge grin on my face watching Crystal Dunn, Lynn Williams, and Debinha drive Sky Blue’s defense bonkers while McCall Zerboni cooly held down the midfield and directed traffic back toward Sky Blue’s side of the field. This is a team that is abundant in talent and drive.

Despite outshooting Sky Blue 22-3 (including a couple of very near-misses and a shot that clanked off of the right post) the game looked to end in a scoreless draw until Jaelene Hinkle sprung Jessica McDonald with a pass that rolled perfectly into her stride. McDonald slalomed through Sky Blue’s defense, drew Sky Blue’s Kailen Sheridan out of her goal and then tapped the ball into the empty net for the extra-time winner.3

It was a great afternoon of sunshine (so glad I brought sunscreen!) and soccer. I’m grateful to have an NWSL team in my back yard and look forward to going to many more matches.

NC Courage v Sky Blue FC
NC Courage’s Starting IX huddle before kickoff
NC Courage v Sky Blue FC
The referee and McCall Zerboni have a discussion prior to kickoff.
NC Courage v Sky Blue FC
Crystal Dunn was a general nuisance against Sky Blue FC’s defense.
courage v sky-blue FC
NC Courage players close in on Sky Blue FC
NC Courage v Sky Blue FC
McCall Zerboni and Carli Lloyd look on as Lynn Williams and Shea Groom battle for the ball.

1There is talk about bringing a WNBA team to San Francisco, once the Golden State Warriors build their new arena.

2I have yet to have Sweet Tea, which seems to be the preferred drink in the South. I’m a simple tea drinker: I prefer tea leaves and water in my tea.

3There was about 4 minutes of stoppage time added and the goal was scored right about the 94 minute mark. THIS IS WHY YOU NEVER LEAVE FOR THE PARKING LOT UNTIL THE FINAL WHISTLE.

North Carolina FC v Tampa Bay Rowdies

On St. Gertrude’s Day I got to attend my first North Carolina Football Club match. I had been looking forward to it since I discovered just before moving from California that I’d be living a few minutes from Wake Med Soccer Park.

It also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, which meant many of the #NCFCFam were decked out in Tampa Bay Rowdies colors, making it appear that there were more than the three or four Rowdies fans who made the trip to Cary for the game. I believe the word we’re looking for here is, D’OH!

It was a cloudy and breezy afternoon and the weather forecasts had threatened (rain) showers in the afternoon1. Being from California I know the drill, so I was dressed in layers, topped with my trusty rain jacket and an NCFC/Courage scarf. It turned out to be a really nice afternoon: the clouds blew away about 30 minutes into the game, making it necessary to shed some layers.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of familiar faces on the pitch for NCFC: Michael Harrington and Futty Danso both played for the Timbers. Another former Timber, Michael Nanchoff, was on the pitch for the Rowdies.

Outside of the first five minutes of the game, and a four or five minute stretch in the second half, NCFC looked like the more organized side, dominating play for much of the match. However, they only made good on one of their chances for their lone score by Steven Miller in the 38th minute. In the 62nd minute, Kyle Bekker fed a gorgeous pass to Miller only to see Miller’s shot slide just wide of the post. A few minutes later Bekker had a wide open header just skiff over the top of the crossbar. To Tampa’s credit, they buried the few chances they got (including a penalty kick in the 40th minute).

Through it all, the Oak City Supporters group were in fine voice, chanting for the Boys in Blue and heckling Tampa Bay’s goalkeeper to the point he laughed. Everyone I encountered (even Rowdies fans) was very friendly and I got a nice welcome from NCFC!

I did manage to get a few photos with my little point-and-shoot. It’s really not cut out for sports photography, partly because the screen is impossible to see with the glare from the sun, but mostly it was shutter lag that caused the most missed shots.

National Anthem
NCFC Players lined up for the Star Spangled Banner
team huddle
NCFC team huddle just before the kickoff to the 2018 USL season.
Oak City Supporters Group
The Oak City Supporters were ready to get the party started!
NCFC v Tampa Bay Rowdies
Steven Miller starts the play upfield for NCFC.
NCFC v Tampa Bay Rowdies
An aerial scrum for the ball during the NCFC v Tampa Bay game
Thanking the Supporters
NCFC players made their way over to the Oak City Supporters section after the match to thank them.

1Evidently, even though it’s mere days away from Spring, I need to be specific that it’s rain and not snow showers. Weather be hella bonkers on the east coast.

As I Was Saying…

“…there is a possibility of seeing some sleet or snow here today. I kind of figured that winter on the east coast does not leave without flipping over another table and smashing a few more bottles on the way out.”

Okay, so here in Raleigh winter just sort of tipped over a couple of chairs and sloshed some wine. The Nor’easter saved its punch for, well, the Northeast. There really wasn’t enough snow to build a snow person, but I probably could have made a snow hood ornament for the car, had I felt like it.

The rain changed over to snow around 3:00 Monday afternoon.

Even though we got just a skiff, it was enough to close down schools early as a precaution, which is good (as one parent put it, you don’t really want teenage/beginning drivers on the road when it’s snowing/sleeting). For the workplaces that didn’t get to close early, the commute home was a miserable mess.

Dos Gatos Locos still aren’t sure what to make of big puffs falling out of the sky. I probably should have brought in a little snowball for them to investigate. Though, come to think of it, both of them lost their damn minds last summer when I dropped an ice cube into their water bowl, so maybe it’s best that I didn’t introduce snow yet.



The snow (ha! Grammarly is flagging this and insisting I change “snow” to “show”. It’s not necessarily wrong; just not what I’m going for here.) ended last night not long after the evening commute. None of it really stuck to the roads nearby, though the wet pavement froze overnight. Our parking lot looked like a skating rink until the sun finally hit it.

The calendar says we have one more week of winter. I guess we’ll pick up the chairs and clean up the wine and hope that we’ve seen the last of its drunken brawls.

skiff of snow

The Raleigh World: Two Months

I’ve sort of ghosted from my humble little blog recently. Sometimes I get so busy living life that I neglect to check in.

So what have I been up to in Month Two? Visits to the Farmers Market and Library, so I can nourish my body and feed my curiosity.

Farmers Market produce
Some of the offerings at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh
Lebanese Lemony Lentil Soup, garnished with chopped fresh spinach

Also, I was considering ways that I might follow up driving over 2,900 miles with two cats, so I’m building a thing.

No, not a thing. A career.

My soul can no longer hang back, quietly wishing I would stop holding myself back and just be a goddamn writer and photographer already. So I’ve set my shop up as Victoria Klum Media and have openings for clients in need of marketing content and/or blog writing, editing, photography, or social media management. I even made myself an employee badge.

Employee badge
Employee Number One!

Naturally, as I’m hanging out my shingle, I realize that my website needs some renovation. Last fall I started refreshing my web development skills, which means I have just enough knowledge to insist on doing this renovation myself. That may slow the project down—especially as I build a book of business—but it’s one of the muses that has been beckoning me over the last several weeks. In the meantime, I have some writing self-assignments in progress and I’ve been joining some Meetup groups so that I’ll be less of a stranger in these parts.

I’ve also been working on a couple of photography projects, which I’ll talk more about in another post. I’ve been wanting to go on some more outings, but it’s been a bit challenging to string together a day or two when it’s either not cold or not raining. Although we’ve escaped the two recent Nor’easters, there is a possibility of seeing some sleet or snow here today. I kind of figured that winter on the east coast does not leave without flipping over another table and smashing a few more bottles on the way out.

Now that they have both horked all over the bedroom carpet, I’d say Dos Gatos Locos are fully settled in. (I’d also say it’s a good thing I made sure to leave room for the steam carpet cleaner in the relo cubes!) We are still working on creating a schedule that works for all of us. I thought I was struggling with the time change but realized a couple of weeks ago that my body has actually reverted to its normal rhythm, nudging me closer to being a vampire than an early bird. I had lived so many years of my life on the exact opposite schedule of what my circadian rhythm is: no wonder my sleep was so jacked for all those years.

Dos Gatos Locos Yoga
Clancy and Charlie are ready to start their Cat Yoga class. I’m not sure if the toy mouse is a prop or not.

Coming up in Month Three: my first North Carolina FC game is this weekend, which I’m pretty excited about. It’s not my beloved Timbers, but it’s live soccer and that makes me happy. I may see if I can make it to the North Carolina Courage game vs. the Portland Thorns the following week.

There’s also my own New Year’s Day coming up, though I’m not sure what I’ll do to mark the occasion. But the biggest thing for Month Three is letting go of the bar one more time, so I can reach for the next bar that the Universe is sending for me, while I repeat one of my favorite mantras:

I’m just getting started 🙏🏼🕉♈️

A Year Ago

A year ago, I had my DSLR.
A year ago, I had my tripod to hold my camera.
A year ago, I had my nice external flash units.
A year ago, I had fully-charged batteries for the camera and flash units.
A year ago, I had my light stands and diffuser umbrella.
A year ago, I had access to a blank wall.
A year ago, I had my model (o hai, it’s me!).
A year ago, I had that black shirt.
A year ago, I had that red lipstick.
A year ago, I had a great haircut.

A year ago, making this photo would not have been possible.

Victoria Klum Photography

The Raleigh World: One Month In

North Carolina flag
North Carolina

Today marks one month since Dos Gatos Locos and I rolled into Raleigh and began making a new home here. As with the day we arrived, today’s weather is warm-ish and rainy (thank goodness it’s light showers and not nearly the gully washer that greeted us).

We are settling into life in North Carolina: the apartment is coming together and I’ve taken care of a lot of the bureaucratic whoop-dee-doo involved with moving to a new area (I still have some business stuff to sort out). I’m beginning to make some car trips without needing to fire up Waze. I am able to restock cat food and litter and keep my fridge and cupboard stocked without getting lost or resorting to having them delivered.

Most of my weekends have been taken up with setting up the apartment and setting up my freelance business, but I have ventured around the Raleigh/Cary/Durham area a couple of times1. I’ve joined a couple of meetup groups and am making my way as a dyed-in-the-wool introvert through this networking stuff.

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Mill House

Other things that I am slowly becoming accustomed to include:

  • having “Miss” appended to my first name: I’m glad I go by Victoria now and not Vicki because I’m not Tiny Tim’s wife and being called “Miss Vicki” used to send me round the bend when I was a kid.
  • styrofoam food containers (quelle horreur)
  • directions: west means AWAY from the (nearest) ocean! Seriously, I need to etch this into my windshield!
  • weather: as much as I mentally prepared for hot, humid weather, I neglected to prepare myself for prolonged cold2. But we weathered *cough* the cold (and the surprise snow storm) and my electric bill wasn’t nearly as high as I had steeled myself for.
  • a winter scene on a nearby street
  • manners3: Last week as I approached the door at Starbucks, I hesitated because the way the light was hitting the area, I didn’t think the guy opening the door would see me and we’d collide. He came inside, saw me and leaped back to the door to hold it open. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. I wouldn’t have thought anything of him not holding the door, mostly because I didn’t expect him to have x-ray vision, so I was a little shocked that he not only jumped back to get the door but apologized for not holding it in the first place. I regained my own manners enough to smile and thank him as I passed through the door.
  • people complaining about rush hour traffic: unlike the Bay Area, I doubt they have to turn on the metering lights at 05:30 a.m. around here. Come to think of it, I don’t think they even *have* metering lights here.
  • parking: as in, you can do that here without driving around the block for an extra six miles or needing to take out a home equity loan to pay for an hour or two of parking downtown.
  • time: Oof. The first couple of weeks here I thought I was doing well with the time change but these last couple of weeks have been a struggle. I also tend to forget that my people back on the west coast are now three hours behind me (so sorry for the texts and FB messages at 06:00 a.m., darlings!)
  • neighborhood farm
    Y’all. These are some of my neighbors🐄🐑🐐🐓
  • peace: I live less than ten minutes from the airport and I rarely hear aircraft. I rarely hear traffic, other than the nearby railroad (and a train is blasting its horn as I type this). And there is a FARM right next door! Instead of 24/7 sirens now I hear goats and a rooster.
  • ease: People here don’t go out of their way to make things difficult. Even the DM-freakin’-V was the easiest and most organized experience I’ve had at a DMV since I left Oregon. I didn’t make an appointment for obtaining the driver’s license or the registration, and both times I was done and out of there within an hour (car registration took 10 minutes).

So that’s a snapshot of the first month of The Raleigh World. I’m grateful that I’m able to ease into this new chapter of my life and that the Boys are adjusting well to their new surroundings.

It’s been a lot change. And I’m just getting started.

Doesn’t matter that I need to get up and do stuff. Clancy is comfortable on my lap, so here I sit.

1Okay, fine: the second excursion was a driving tour of Morrisville/Cary last Friday because I decided to not use Waze for the trip home and I got on the westbound freeway instead of the eastbound. But what the hell, it was a lovely day out and I made a couple of mental notes of places to return to.

2After living in the Bay Area for 24 years, cold is anything under 55 degrees.

3The manners seem to dissolve once folks get behind the wheel of their cars, however. HOLY CRAP have I encountered some asshole behavior on the roads!

The Raleigh World: Apartment Tour

All right, folks. This apartment is as put together as it’s gonna get for now, so it’s time to show y’all where The Boys and I are living.

Here’s the view from the entryway.

apartment entrance
The entry to my apartment

Right off of the entryway is the bathroom. There are two doors leading to the bathroom, one from the entry and one from the bedroom. You may be thinking how convenient that is, so guests won’t need to access the bathroom by going through the bedroom, but you’d be missing the true value of this. And what is that value, you ask? Charlie and Clancy can now chase each other around and around and around the apartment!

bathroom-2nd view
A view of the sink area of the bathroom.
The tub/toilet area of the bathroom

This tub, tho.

I have a HUGE tub!

On the other side of the entryway is the dining room, but I’m using it as my office. It’s barely controlled chaos, right now.

Technically, the dining room, but it’s my office. Pls ignore the chaos.


The kitchen:

A view of the kitchen.
kitchen-second view
Another view of the kitchen

Having a dishwasher again is a life-changer! I had no idea how much I missed having one until I got one again.

The bar area:

A view of the kitchen/bar from the living room

Yes, I have placemats attached to the wall. Charlie is an exceptionally messy eater.

And the living room:

living room
Living room

I’m not going to get new furniture for it for awhile. Part of the reason is not spending money, but the other part is waiting until I get a feel for this space. I brought the old chair/stool from Alameda, so I have something to sit on, so I’m not in any big hurry to buy anything.

And the bedroom:

bedroom view
view of the bedroom from the window

Another view of the bedroom, showing the hallway leading to the bathroom. The doors on the left are the closet, and across from that is the laundry closet (holy crap, talk about another life changer, being able to do laundry without leaving home!).

Another view from the window of the hallway leading to the bathroom

So there we have it. A quick tour of…of…what the hell am I calling this now? For now, it’s home, even if I don’t have a name for it yet.

Turning Life Off And On Again

I’m caught between wanting to establish a routine and needing to power down and reboot.

The routine is important for me and for the cats, so I can establish good habits, and so we all know what to expect from our day. For example, Charlie EXPECTS to be fed around 6:00 a.m. and I EXPECT he will behave like an obnoxious jerk until I shuffle into the kitchen and toss some kibbles in his dish. But when you are this adorable, you get away with being a jerk.

These two
Too much adorable with these two!

And then there’s my body, which is reminding me that the last six months have been the most intense ones that I’ve lived through since my mother’s death. And my body has been telling me to tap the brakes a bit, while I finish processing all of the feelings about being in–and leaving–the Bay Area, the drive across the country, and the fact that I am now living 3,000 miles from where I had lived my entire life.

So, now that the boxes are unpacked and recycled and the apartment is as put together as it’s going to get right now, I’m trying to honor these needs as best I can. Some days that means grabbing a nap. Today that meant researching and writing a proposal. My main priorities right now are making sure I make time for moving my body around, meditating, and cooking fresh meals, because when life starts getting really busy these self-care habits are the fastest ones to get left behind if they haven’t had a chance to take root.

I did manage to get over to the DMV Monday morning to get my driver’s license changed and I registered to vote, so I’m starting to assimilate. I think I have to wait until my permanent license comes before I can get Luna registered. Oh yeah, this happened yesterday:

40005 miles
It only took 13-1/2 years to hit 40k!

Clearly, I need to get out more often.

As the week heads toward the weekend, I have calls to make and a proposal to finalize and send and weather forecasts to review so I can determine whether I need to find a real winter coat now, or if it can wait until next winter.

Speaking of winter, here’s a photo that I took near the apartment a few days after the snowstorm.

snow landscape
In some areas near my apartment the snow took a while to start melting.