Sunday, November 6, 2016

October Cork

Have we mentioned how much we love Ireland? With Katherine there for a semester, we headed southwest for a weekend.

Blarney Castle is magical.

No really.  With witches and everything.

Parkland and quiet spaces.

And yes, the Blarney Stone!

Castle graffiti


Michele. So. Many. Germs.


Looking down from where the trap door used to be.
The trap door for unwelcome visitors.


There's no wonder why Katherine loves it here.

There's Jameson whisky.

And better Jameson whiskey hot chocolate.

And required winter soft serve.
We're really hoping that Katherine ends up back in Cork next year!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The art is still not on the walls.

I have an excuse, really, I do.

After returning from the States, I dozed my way through the next few days. And then came Monday.

Hello, I'm the new co-CLO-Assistant at U.S. Consulate Frankfurt. I'm currently working full-time, though it won't last once the full-time CLO starts. Once she's there, I'll drop down to a 20hrs/wk job-share. Not optimal by far, especially as once it's a job-share I can't work more than 20hrs/wk. I'd love to get the two co-CLOs onto separate 32hr/wk part-time schedules instead, for better office coverage, better flexibility, and better income.

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Another step closer to an empty nest

Last week the girls and I flew out of Germany. Katherine is situated in Cork, Ireland for her semester abroad, and I accompanied Rebecca to Savannah, GA, for orientation for her first year of college.

You might not be shocked to learn that I really don't enjoy the traveling part of traveling so much. Wait, that's not accurate. I don't really like the transition part of traveling so much.  The getting to the airport and checking in and sitting at the gate. The reclaiming of bags and hailing of cabs or picking up a rental car. There are so many points of potential badness. Lost bags, missed connections, wrong reservations. It's exhausting. Throw in the physical discomfort of travel with time zones and cramped seats and mystery foods and truly travel is just not my cup of tea.

But we do it all the time anyway. Usually Ian and I travel together and he handles most of everything logistical. I like it that way. Then I only have to complain about the ridiculousness the airlines call pillows.

Flying to Savannah via Amsterdam and an overnight in NoVA was fine. SAS, aka Scandinavian Airlines, isn't bad. They have comfy blankets and a weird new rule of stuffing the blankets and pillows by your feet or in the overhead for take-offs and landings. And no Samsung Galaxy 7 usage at all. That one I understood.

We picked up the footlocker we'd left at my parents' house and arrived in Savannah without any major incident. Well, in Frankfurt we couldn't actually find our gate, managed to get two stamps in our passports and walked the entirety of the B concourse, but somehow I don't feel that was our fault. Then upon leaving Dulles we had one bag overpacked so shifted items around only to realize that all that weight I'd moved to my carry-on was actually liquid weight so the carry-on then needed to be checked in for a lovely 2nd bag fee. You'd think we never traveled anywhere before. I even wore shoes with laces.

Art kits and text books, for class days 1 and 2.
Savannah was hot and sticky, just like we remembered. Thursday was move-in day for some of the freshmen, which took all of an hour to unpack the suitcase, and then unpack and repack the footlocker (now her supply pantry). The rest of the day we spent shopping for school supplies and items at Target and BB&B we knew weren't coming in her UAB. I highly recommend getting your college kid a memory foam mattress pad. And a small fan.  Becca's room has two windows and while the suite has a/c very little of it actually makes it into the bedroom. It's hot. And sticky.

That evening we met up with the roommates and their parents at a River Street restaurant. It's nice to have a little connection to these folks. The closest live in NC, the farthest in NY so they're all relatively in the neighborhood.

The UAB was scheduled for Friday. It did not come on Friday. Friday was move-in day for the rest of the freshman and the roads were busy, with an accident on one route. Rather than call and ask for another place to drop off items, or even say they were on the way or in the area, the driver returned to the warehouse with her boxes. We were not pleased, and especially not pleased when the next available time for delivery was between 12-5 on Monday when Becca was starting classes and I would be in Chicago. I fussed a bit and somehow the company that doesn't deliver on the weekend happened to be making another delivery on Saturday and would try to make it to us as well. At 12:30 on Saturday we connected and we spent the next hour carting one 100lb box at a time from the mailroom to her dorm. The security guards were sympathetic. FYI, I recommend calling the moving company a couple hours into their delivery window rather than 1/2 hour before the end of the day.

I ended up packing about 1/2 a box worth back into a suitcase to bring to Frankfurt. Fun times, fun times.

But really, the challenge those days was simply to get Becca comfortable in her new space. She spent each night with me at the hotel, we had dinners together, and not until her items had arrived and her space looked a little more hers did she move fully into her dorm. It helped that I was checking out of the hotel at 4:30 a.m. the next morning too.

Glad she brought the rug.

It's all good.  She's figuring things out, finding her classes, doing her hours and hours of homework. Anyone who tells you that art school is easy hasn't been to art school. I keep hoping she'll remember to eat. We're not around enough to take her out.

If you are in Savannah, go here.

Gonna miss that face.
It was with a heavy heart that I left her in Georgia, and even worse that I then had plenty more travel only now all by my lonesome. The return trip was via Chicago so I stopped for an overnight at my aunt's house up in Wisconsin to visit with my grandmother. They went all out, inviting the rest of my mom's side over for a picnic lunch. Babcia has loads of stories to tell and what better way to spend time together than to hear about her youth and her family.

The rest of the trip was standard and went crazy smooth. I transferred in Stockholm, the land of reindeer pelts available at the airport. Who buys a reindeer pelt? Who has room in their carry-on? And since we still don't have a car, once I landed I took the S5 and the U1 back home.

2799Kroner = $329
The boys go to school. Ian goes to work. I'm at home getting over a minor case of jetlag. When the cats nap it's especially quiet (why they can't nap at midnight, I don't know). It won't last, I start my new job in the CLO office on Monday, so I'll enjoy the quiet for today.

And in case you're wondering, the girls are adjusting. Katherine is enjoying Cork and UCC quite a bit.

And the texts from Becca include questions like what to do with someone else's underwear that gets mixed in with hers in the laundry room. Hey, she found time to do laundry!

I wonder if they ate today?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Bad Homburg Laternenfest

Strawberry-peach bowle

Blueberry Floof!

Yesterday we rode the UBahn to Bad Homburg where we endeavored to taste everything we could.

Fries with garlic sauce

Best meat ever

Though we missed the greyhound races, we did partake in part of the kidsfest.

And we avoided the rain!

When it's not just dirt.

So... this guy...

Sad ears even while resting.

He was shaking his head and eventually on Sunday just hid all day.  He seemed wobbly when he walked and basically acted like he had a migraine, hiding in dark corners and unwilling to be with anyone.

So today we walked him to the vet.  The first vet we went to said it opened at 9 a.m. but no one was there and a sign on the door said something about a vacation until September 12. So, Google Maps to the rescue and we walked to another vet that was open and didn't seem to mind walk-ins.

Some swabs later and a peek under the microscope showed a pile of creepy crawlies - ear mites. Shawarma is pretty calm on the whole.  He was not calm while getting his ears cleaned out and goo dribbled in. Thankfully he's not a biter, but he can be quite the cat contortionist and threatened to use his claws more than once. A shot of what we assume was antibiotics will help him feel his normal self by tomorrow.

But, he's already a ton better.  We also had the joy of bringing home the ear med and treating both other cats, though their ears seem to be fine.  

With a quick inspection, we also discovered that one of his teeth looks infected. That's an issue for another day, after the ears are taken care of.  Ian gets to figure out bringing Shawarma back to the vet next Monday while I'm gone.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Follow-up to the 56 Steps...

We successfully reached the blood lab in Latvia and they sent their current EU accreditation pdf which I forwarded to the pet import people at the airport.  The lab checks out, and we are no longer faced with getting their blood work repeated.

I do need to find a pet supply store and get ear drops for Shawarma though.  He has one ear that is bothering him so much and it's so full of dirt that I can't wipe it out. He's shaking his head a lot and scratched the ear quite a bit there's now a sore inside. So I have my job for today.